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TUESDAY BLOG

Whatever happens on day two, you can read about it right here...

6.45am Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore...

Good morning all. Starting the day with my room-based movie themes, I'm going for The Wizard of Oz for my room due to the monumental storm which battered the windows last night. I was awoken at 3.40am at which point I decided I would ask Mrs Holt this morning to book next years trip in the summer term. Oh...what a minute...

I'm sitting on the half landing and by the sounds of things, everyone is in high spirits in Room 4. It's a good 20 yards from where I'm sitting but I can hear every word of their conversation. They must be tired though as they were the last of the boys rooms to settle last night. I will be heading up there in a moment to check things out.

Sadly, the weather has not improved overnight. It's very windy and it's raining. I have a feeling Mrs Holt will be calling a G5 summit meeting at breakfast and we could be examining plans B, C, D and Z. The orang utan will be gutted; he's been bounding around with excitement since the early hours at the thought of some good old fashioned tree climbing. Ok, I'm off to room 4 see what is so important to chat about at 6.55am. More news soon.   

7.10am - I'm back with news from room 4. Aidan was standing in the middle of the floor doing some bizarre display of martial arts moves in a spotlight provided by Ewan's torch; it was like a scene from the Karate Kid in there. Judging by the trail of destruction on the floor, it appears to me that the karate kid has been fighting suitcases all morning. Over in room 2 & 3, all was quiet and very civilised. They've all slept well, Salvatore continues to sleep well in room 3, and everyone is in good spirits. Room 3 are currently walking away with the boys' tidiest room competition although it is early days. Amir's bag is happily residing in the wardrobe and the others actually have their bags tucked under the bunks. It's great, you can actually walk around in there without fear of lacerations to the lower limbs. Early congratulations to Salvatore, Amir, Niall, Caleb, Mateo & Josh :-)

STOP PRESS: 7.30am The orang utan looks crestfallen; tree climbing has been postponed until tomorrow afternoon. He's lying upside down on the leather sofa with one long arm across his face. Mrs Holt is just off the phone and the new plans are now being made for this morning. Mrs Capindale and Mrs O'Connor are involved in the discussion. Funnily enough the conversation is along the lines of "I wonder which is the best place to go shopping?" It looks like the disappointment of no tree climbing is being alleviated by some planned retail therapy. I will spend the next couple of hours mentally preparing myself for the inevitable sugar rush that will follow as the boys stock up on all manner of sweets, fizzy sweets, sour sweets and giant sticks of bubble gum. The ladies are very pleased with themselves. "That's a plan" Mrs Holt has just announced. Shopping and a visit to the beach at Shanklin is now on the agenda...that should blow away a cobweb or two...I wonder if I can watch all that from the coach window?

The boys have arrived downstairs for breakfast 10 minutes early dressed in hoodies - they're clearly hungry. Carraghan and Megan B appear to be the first girls on the scene and have now been joined by Hollie and Rachel...who is wearing a t-shirt. I hope we get the weather she's expecting :-) Actually, most of them appear totally oblivious to the maelstrom and bluster going on outside...which I guess is a fairly good policy to adopt in such circumstances. No-one has yet arrived from room 2; I expect they're up there counting Michael's gold bars and contacting various Swiss banks for todays best rates. Ok, it's almost breakfast time so I will end here for now. More updates later...  

9am STOP PRESS...it's not exactly splitting the rocks here but a shaft of sunlight has appeared outside. It appears our prayers may be working a little. It's still blowing a force 10 but it's a small step towards normality. We're heading off for the retail frenzy soon followed by Osborne House this afternoon and the chaotic madness of the theatre show tonight. What an adventure. The red book is packed in the rucksack all prepared to capture todays classic comments. Check back later as the story continues...  

5.40pm - Good afternoon everyone. It's 20 minutes until dinner so time for me to give you a quick update before the main postings later. Firstly, let's start with the truly sunsational news - apart from a couple of showers (more about that later), it's been bright and sunny :-) We haven't managed to lose the gale force winds but the day has turned out far better than the internet forecast...although I'm not sure what Mrs Capinadle's magic cows were predicting today. So, let's rewind to earlier today.

We left the hotel at 9.25am and drove to Shanklin where we then walked down to the promenade to start the shopping. The sun had come out and Mrs O'Connor sprung into action with the camera. Interestingly, also snapping away were the trio of Alice, Aoife & Josephine, making use of the camera 'on loan from Alice's dad'. They have decided to reconstruct the Titanic movie promotional photo in as many different places as possible this week and it seems to be working out quite well. Alice may yet get that permanent loan of the camera she seems so desperate to acquire :-)  

The shopping was surprisingly thoughtful and creative; granted there were the usual favourites of rock, maom, fudge and treasure chests of slime but alongside that, some lovely gifts were purchased for family members. I felt very proud to watch and listen to such thoughtfulness. The shop assistants were highly complimentary about the manners and behaviour of the children, providing our 4th compliment already this week. Leaving the shop we took a bracing walk along the beach where the wind was still stong enough to punch a hole in a hessian sack. Never one to be deterred,Mrs Holt forged onwards and we spent 20 minutes playing games on the sand before the first shower of the day saw us heading for the hills.

On the walk back to the coach we received our 5th compliment of the week from a passing member of the public who said "All your children have such beautiful manners." Gold stars all round. Walking alongside me at the time were Mia, Ella and Shae. "Let's aim to get 10 compliments by the end of the week" Ella said. At this rate, we should easily achieve that goal :-) We boarded the coach and headed for Osborne House. Down at the front of the coach the staff were auditioning for a vacant presenters role on Countryfile by running through their full repertoire of domesticated farmyard animal facts. Apparently, according to Mrs O'Connor, sheep have shorter legs on one side of their body so they can balance and walk on hills. This obviously explains why every time you see a sheep on flat ground it is limping along at an angle. Perhaps that is what is wrong with Phil Jones at Man Utd as he appears to have exactly the same problem. Looking out of the left side of the coach, Mrs Capindale happily announced that the cows were all standing up which apparently means it's not going to rain. "Cows will lie down to protect their patch of grass if it's going to rain." Well, I don't know about you, but I reckon the BBC should give a job to each of them. Once at Osborne House we had lunch then set off on the 1Km walk down to Swiss Cottage. Arriving at the museum of curiosities, I set my group a challenge 'to find the most interesting object they could'. The children set off with great enthusiasm. It wasn't long before Ella called me over. Pointing at a commonly seen stuffed game bird, she said "Look Mr Tindall, it's a peacock-chicken...or is it a peasant." "

"Err, don't you mean a pheasant?" Izzabella advised.

Aidan & Mateo found the world's smallest scissors (which are truly minute). "What's the point of them?" Mateo asked. I simply shook my head. Without the magnifying glass I couldn't actually see the point of them, never mind knowing what the point was. Then, we came across the infamous 5-legged deer. Hearing their enthusiasm, the museum guide swiftly approached to recount a tale clearly designed to tug very firmly on the heart strings. The deer was born in Windsor Park and abandoned by its mother but then taken to Osborne House by Victoria's children who wanted to care for it and help it get stronger. However, it was a sickly little deer and sadly died. The children stood open mouthed. There was a split second of sheer silence then, with perfect timing, intonation and dry humour Santi said "And after all that they stuffed it." It was one of those priceless moments that make Year 6 trips so memorably funny.

Ok, I'm going to have to interrupt the story for now as it's almost dinner time. It's minestrone soup, pasta bolognese (or jacket potato option) followed by jelly & ice cream or yoghurt. I expect it will all go down well - the children must be hungry as they've walked quite a way today. Bye for now, check back later for the continuation of todays action......

...Meanwhile, Ewan had discovered the 'explorers bag' and was combing the room with his magnifying glass like Inspector Poirot. He was moving swiftly but not swiftly enough to deny Aoife a moment of glory as she found the 9-legged spider. Shortly afterwards, Poirot stumbled upon a beautiful butterfly in a glass case and put his magnifying glass to good use. "It's beautiful, it looks like its got pearls all over it" he said. Standing alongside him, minus a magnifying glass, was Charlie. "No, they look more like grapes to me" he added. Therein lies the difference between the trained eye of an investigator and a person without a magnifying glass.

After the museum we visited the Swiss Cottage then headed back up the 1Km track for our 3pm entry slot into Osborne House. Midway along the track Inspector Poirot appeared at my shoulder and began a fascinating historical conversation/lecture concerning events at the end of WWII. Apparently, Adolf Hitler faked his own death, escaped via a warren of underground tunnels aided by the Spanish and lived to the ripe old age of 95 hidden away somewhere in Brazil with a lady friend. I raised an eyebrow but Poirot informed me "It's true, it's on the internet and there was a TV programme about it." Who am I to argue?

We arrived at the entrance to the house 3 minutes ahead of schedule. Whilst gazing around looking for the other 2 groups, one of the stony-faced guides appeared at my shoulder and said "Are you the holy school?"

"Absolutely, can't you see my halo?" I replied with a grin.

 Now, Osborne House guides are not renowned for their wit and general banter and this poor lady clearly didn't get me. She simply said "Follow me and I will show where to put your bags." We trooped inside and began our tour. As we reached the end of the first long gallery we came to a huge picture window offering glorious views over The Solent however...there was no view as the sky had gone an ugly shade of dark grey and it was pouring down. Infact, the rain was flying horizontally and the trees were bending to impossibly ridiculous angles. "I wouldn't like to be out there now" one of the children said behind me. I winced as I knew the other 2 groups were out there, probably stranded somewhere on the 1 Km track. The main though running through my head at that moment was 'what on earth has happened to Mrs Capindale's magic weather-forecasting cows?' Despite our serious concerns for our colleagues we pushed on with our tour. Top marks here for the king and queen of questions Niall and Izzabella. Both kept the guides on their toes throughout with some fabulous observations and challenging questions. At the end of the tour we popped in the shop to wait for the others...who eventually turned up looking a little bedraggled and asking us "where we had been?" We ended the visit with some good old fashioned playground fun on the zip wire, climbing frames and slides. The sun was out again by then and I advised Mrs Capindale 'not to lose me again as the best weather appears to be following my group around' :-)

Ok, it's now 8.55pm and I'm back in real time, typing this in the foyer of the Shanklin Theatre. On the other side of the double glass doors the show is going at full throttle. It sounds like a cowboy theme with lots of 'Yee hars' and horse sounds interspersed with periods of screaming and singing as the kids join in. I might check out the second half once I've fitted some industrial ear plugs to guard against immediate tinnitis. Just a further note about the hurricane winds we've experienced today. Just before we left for the theatre I discovered the location of the eye of the storm. It is room 2 at Bertram Lodge. I went in there and it is total carnage. Every garment known to man and boy is strewn across the floor, cases lie like twisted grotesque shapes at a Damien Hirst exhibition and all the quilts are hanging from the bunks. It is positively horrific in there. It's definitely the eye of the storm...or a team of particularly ruthless burglars have been in there looking for Michael's gold bullion. No wonder Joseph was sitting cross-legged on his top bunk, eyes closed, meditating to his Ipod. I offered a few words of advice, mostly about the dangers to their own health & safety, and a sort of quick tidy up took place. How on earth they are going to get the right clothes back into the right cases on Friday is totally beyond me. Parents of Samuel, Joseph, Charlie, Gabriel, Thomas and Michael, I will do my best!

Right, it sounds like the first half is coming to an end so I will hang up here and continue later after my visit to the hearing clinic. Bye for now...

10.45pm We are back at the hotel, the children are in their rooms and lights out will be by 11 o'clock. Everyone enjoyed the show with some going as far as saying 'that was the best show I've ever seen." Parents, if you are feeling left out, don't worry, I have a silver lining to this cloud for you. Appearing in Shanklin Theatre the week after we break up for the summer is Joe Pascquale - now just imagine how exciting that would be :-) The weather appears to be calming down...or maybe it's just that I can't hear the wind anymore due to the hearing loss suffered in the second half of the show. Forecast tomorrow (internet based not magic cows) is for a bright day with 20mph winds - that should make the falconry display at Robin Hill quite challenging for man and birds...and possibly even more challenging for Mrs Capindale as she gears up for her least favourite activity of the week. I expect she will be digging herself into a trench beneath a picnic bench to avoid any low flying raptors tomorrow. Also on the agenda tomorrow is the rescheduled tree climbing in Ryde. The orang utan is looking forward to that one although is currently exhausted after leading the dancing and dabbing in the theatre tonight. I'm also thinking of inviting Greg the flying magnetic monkey who is living in Room 3 with Mateo and the boys. He was last seen hurtling through the air and clinging onto the rails of the bunk beds about 20 minutes ago so I reckon he'll love the tree climbing. Tomorrow night will also see the tenpin bowling in Ryde; it will be interesting to watch the action and find out who is crowned individual and team champions.

We are approaching the midpoint of the trip and, despite the tornado hurricane, everything has been very successful so far. Who knows what tomorrow will bring and who will feature on the pages of this blog. One thing is for certain, there will be plenty of action. The children are getting on very well and being incredibly supportive to each other. We are now up to 6 compliments from the general public in 2 days. If we keep up this average we will smash our target early on Thursday morning. The hotel is settling and we may be able to relax soon. I will therefore bid you all goodnight, lots of love and hugs from everyone in Sandown. Sleep well and see you in the morning.

The Blog Bloke