Thursday 4th June
7.30am Good morning Addlestone...the sun has risen once again here on day 4 of the great Isle of Wight adventure. It's a lovely morning which is great news. Unsurprisingly, today I had to be woken by my proper alarm rather than by the chattering of the boys in Room 7 or 8. They are a little tired, particularly in Room 8 where the festering mound has spawned and multiplied like a scene from Gremlins. Room 7 are doing far better in keeping their place tidy although alas, I feel it may only be a valiant effort in defeat. Once the girls are up and about I will pop upstairs and check to see if they are maintaining their high standards. Oh, Mrs Holt has just appeared and driven another nail into the coffin of the ground floor chances. Apparently upstairs Sophie has just said "Mrs Holt, Philippa would like to know if you've got an iron" to which Mrs Holt replied "No, but I've got a hairdryer" before promptly 'ironing' a pair of trousers with it! Firstly I'm not sure if this lot down here are aware of irons. Secondly, I don't think they'd be bothering to ask for one if they did know and thirdly, I wouldn't be able to intervene and save the world like Mrs Holt and her magic hairdryer even if they did ask. The odds are just stacked too heavily against us. Actually, whilst I'm talking about the advantages the girls are holding here, I have been reflecting on the very impressive performance of Room 4 in last night's bowling. Room 4 dominated 4 of the top 5 positions with Sophie, Emily, Venere and Emilia all starring in the lanes whilst Ghia was most probably taking the opportunity for more training for World's Strongest Woman by benchpressing a pack full of bowling balls. It got me thinking about that impressive line up of cosmetics, perfumes and designer wash bags all lined up neatly in their room. I reckonthey've been practising up there since Monday...it's all starting to make sense now! Room 4 have just appeared, together in the lounge. They are the first down for breakfast...they are clearly on a high.
Now, back to the ground floor and to Room 7 in particular. I popped in there to wake them at 7.25am. It's a much safer environment than Room 8. There are no festering mounds and you don't feel that your feet may be lacerated if you cross the threshold. Well done to Amit, Jacques, Daniel, William, Sam and Calvin. It was quite an interesting scene in there this morning. Amit was curled up in his duvet groaning "I don't want to get up", Daniel was standing in the middle of the room looking bemused, Calvin was fully dressed lookinglike he'd just come home after a night shift and Jacques was sitting on the edge of his bed staring into space. I'm pleased Jacques was up because I wanted to check on him...well, not necessarily him but his tshirt to be more precise. Bearing in mind thatwe are going in the sea this afternoon, I was interested to find out if he was planning to wear his 'Jaws' t shirt again :-) Thankfully it appears not...he's gone for a different design. More inane ramblings later...it's feeding frenzy time. Breakfast has begun...
8.45am Ok, everyone, breakfast has been consumed and I'm back for a very quick pre-departure update. Apparently the topic of the VERY late night conversation last night in Room 8 was crossbows which confirms my suspicions that there are probably dinosaurs and other prehistoric monstrosities prowling around in there. Clearly the man with 2 ears feels that the presence of the SAS is not enough protection against an irate velociraptor. Last night Mrs O'Connor was sharing some of her 1500 or so photos with the rest of the staff. There are some truly beautiful shots of your children, an amazing one of the bald headed eagle and some superb shots of Orang utan enjoying his big day out at Robin Hill yesterday. For the record, he has just told me that he's not going in the sea this afternoon as it plays havoc with his fur. He's currently deep in conversation with Angelica here in the lounge so I expect he's also telling her that he won't be on a surfbaord any time soon :-)
Mrs Holt has opened the teacher bank and business is swift as the boys collect their sugar and ammo tokens...I suspect Room 8 will be on the lookout for a crossbow shop in Shanklin later this morning. Kian has just strolled in and I'm surprised to note that he is not wearing a hat. Kian has sported a superb array of hats this week which may account as to why his suitcase is so big. On Tuesday he wore a stylish flat cap (belonging to Ian Wright I believe) and yesterday he was looking cool in a straw trilby like one of those worn by cricket umpires. He's obviously gone for the 'back to basics' look today. Joseph continues to run through his repertoire of pirate-related jokes with his latest offering "What's a pirate's favourite shop?" Apparently, he informs me, this is "Aaaaargos" followed by an impish grin, a quick fist pump and "Back of the net". Priceless entertainment :-) Right, the teacher bank is now closed which indicates we are ready to leave. I'd best end here for now but should be able to make an early afternoon posting as we are due back here to change before sea sports...perhaps Jacques may don the Jaws shirt at that point? Until later...
12.15pm Good early afternoon everyone. We've just returned to the hotel swiftly to get changed for Water Sports, grab our picnic lunches and get sun-creamed up so here's the summary of this morning...
After a short drive we arrived at Shanklin Theatre for the drama workshop. Following the children’s awesome dance demonstration during the show on Tuesday night (where they reproduced with perfect timing our dance from the Surrey Youth Games), expectations were very high…there is some huge talent in this class. Two of the cast members (Dom and Ashley) were leading the workshop which started with an energetic warm up on the stage followed by learning a quick dance routine. Dom then took 4 boys (he called them ‘the hat crew’) and 4 girls to practice the singing parts whilst Ashley stayed on the stage with the rest to work on a fuller dance routine. Then the singers came back. Looking at ‘the hat crew’ I was slightly sceptical…3 of them were from Room 8 including the man with 2 ears. In all fairness though, they weren’t bad…or maybe it was Alex, Emilia, Ella and Philippa I could hear? In the front row, Mrs Holt and Orang utan were certainly enjoying it. Another 4 boys and 4 girls were then chosen to be narrators and Dom explained how different types of microphones work. To test the sound levels, Dom asked them to count in turn to 10. Of the 8 children up on stage, 7 of them sat the level 6 maths paper last month so I crossed my fingers that this was within their capability :-) Then it got hilarious when James on the sound desk added in some special effects to the mikes which turned the girls into sounding like something from the dark side in Star Wars and the boys into extras from Alvin & The Chipmunks…very funny indeed. Dom then came down to ‘prey’ on the staff starting with Mrs Holt who he hilariously referred to as ‘the monkey carer’. Great entertainment all round.
Kian then volunteered to be treated to a make-over from Ashley and so began his transformation into a panto dame. Clearly this was Kian’s desperate bid to escape the carnage and destruction of the dinosaurs and the festering mounds in Room 8…maybe he’d had a premonition that he would be picked…perhaps this is why he elected for no hat today? Clever. Once Ashley had finished his make-up, Kian was dressed in the full panto dame dress and gave a very impressive catwalk display. Top marks to Kian for being such a fantastic sport. James then came off the sound desk to explain how all the different lighting effects are created. The children were very knowledgeable about the lighting and spoke proudly about our lights in The Space. Ashley then took the children on a back stage tour where a few gems were unleashed. Pointing at the sloping ceiling of the dressing room beneath the stage Ashley said “What can you tell me about the ceiling?” “Err, it’s white?” someone answered. We then moved on to a dressing area called ‘the stables’ so called, she explained because they are stalls with stable-like doors. “Oh, I thought it was called that because it smells like horses in here!” someone said. Ashley enjoyed that and she agreed. Holding her nose, she moved us all swiftly onwards. Finally, Erika finished it all off in a manner typical of someone from the Monte Carlo style Room 4. “It’s not really a question, but I really loved the boots you were wearing in the show” she said to Ashley. The boys simply raised their eyebrows or shook their heads. Dom and Ashley then did an onstage Q&A session during which the children sat beautifully and asked some great questions…oh and Erika finished it all by saying to Dom “You’re a really good rapper!” As Dom summarised, he praised the children on their behaviour and their dance performance to Taylor Swift on Tuesday night “That’s the reason I love doing the kids shows more than any others” exclaimed. Marvellous.
The last part of the workshop saw the children backup on the stage performing their own show which, you won’t be surprised to hear, was top class.
12.20pm Mrs Holt is in full flow giving the list of instructions about preparing for Water Sports. This includes "Don't forget your pants as you can't wear your wet swimsuit or trunks when you've finished". "Do we put those in our bag?" Sam asked. Well, it's either there or on your head I suppose :-) I've got a feeling this afternoon could be interesting.
STOP PRESS...an update from my upstairs room trawl earlier. Room 2 is complete and utter carnage. There was a giraffe all twisted on the floor. It had clearly strangled itself with its own tank top and I nearly copped it after almost standing on a lethal looking hairbrush. It looks like the aftermath of an earthquake in there. Room 2 have less chance of winning than Room 8...I'm re-stationing the SAS upstairs and drafting in support from the US Navy Seals. Room 3 is Room 3...although I did see a pair of flip flops on the ballroom floor...clearly they were left there for a quick waltz at some point today. Room 4 continue to have an impressive cosmetics display...and a bottle of Daisy perfume has appeared...this competition is judged by Lou and Gary (hotel owners) but if I was you, next time you go past William Hill, pop a few pennies on Room 3...surely they've got this sewn up...unlike Room 2 where you risk having to be sewn up if you set foot inside there :-) It's sunny out there and there are lots of sunglasses adorning heads. I've not seen them yet but I expect Mary's techno specs will be in modus operandii this afternoon. Untl the next episode of this intruiging spy dram, it's goodbye from Sandown.
Check back later for all the details...
5.50pm Good afternoon everyone, I'm here again with a very quick pre-dinner posting. We have had an utterly fantastic afternoon out in the surf with Wight Water. Tne weather has been beautiful and the children were amazing, both with their behaviour (as usual) and in their surfing skills. More details will follow after dinner. The children are just getting cleaned upas we all prepare to tuck into fish and chips...lovely! Tonight is party night so I will have ample opportunity to keep the action flowing on the blog regularly especially as we have a newly appointed DJ in the house. - on the walk back from the beach Venere asked "Who is the DJ tonight?". Before I could even open my mouth to reply. Joseph said "Oh yeah, that will be Mrs Capindale" before pulling some shapes and facial expressions that I can only assume are common to hip-hop music mixers in modern day discotheques.Go DJ Cap! More inane ramblings soon...
7.30pm Hello folks I'm back for the main posting of the day. Dinner was very tasty indeed and, after frolicking in the surf all afternoon, the children were clearly ravenous as they devoured the fish and chips on offer. Fabulous...they have eaten really well all week. Right, enough of talking food, let's rewind the action to earlier in the day where we left off...
After getting changed in their water sports clothes, we took a stroll down to Sandown Beach which was bathed in glorious summer sunshine. We found a lovely little spot on the edge of the beach and, perched along a low wall, the children enjoyed a picnic lunch. As much as I love our school hall, this is surely the ideal place to enjoy lunch. Whilst eating lunch we saw a single black-clad figure ploughing through the waves. In my mind there are 3 possibilities as to the identity of this solo swimmer:
1. It was a secret spy summoned by Mary's techno specs to keep track of our movements
2. It was Mr Seuke training for his next Iron man outing
3. It was Mr Gorman who had heard they were offering free coffee and cakes at the beachside cafe at Sandown Pier
I'll leave it to you to make your own decisions on that conundrum. As we were walking along the prom towards Wight Water, we were discussing who may be the first child to master the surf and stand up on their board. It was a very difficult choice as we have so many sporty, talented children in this class but I had a powerful voice in my head tellign me it would be Joey. She's a natural at all sports so I got Mrs O'Connor to do a quick internet search for William Hill, checked the odds, placed a small wager and I was all set. We arrived at Wight Water where there were 15 bright yellow surfboards lined up on the prom. "Oh look, I think they might be our surfboards" Venere said. We're very sharp and observant at Holy Family; nothing much gets past us. The instructors soon began the talk about how to get dressed. "The zip goes at the back...where does the zip go?" "At the back!" "Where does the zip go?" "At the back!" This was repeated several times. These are the knee pads...they go on your knees...where do the knee pads go?" "On your knees!" repeated several times. After all that, they let the children loose with the wetsuits. Megan was fighting to get into her suit "Wow, this is tighter than my skinny jeans" she said but everything was going remarkably well. All the zips were at the back, all the knee pads were on the knees and then we ran into a little problem. Well, to be precise, Monique ran into a problem as she was trying to force her leg into the arm of the wetsuit. "Where does the leg go?...." :-)
Philippa then appeared and said "I feel like a penguin!" Actually, as she waddled along with her arms outstretched, she did bear a striking resemblance to a penguin :-) "Right, pick a partner!" the instructors shouted. Ella raced to Philippa and PPPPPPP..Picked up a penguin :-) With partners selected, the lead instructor picked out one child to help with the demonstration. "You look like you will be a really good surfer" he said pointing at Joey. This brought a big smile to my face...if the experts are confident then my chances of winning were increasing and Joey's odds were tumbling. The children then picked up their boards and formed a long orderly line as they headed for the surf. Once in the water Philippa proved that although she may feel like a penguin and look like one when waddling along the prom, she is certainly not a penguin in the water. "I'm soooooo cold" she shivered, which I suggest is not the usual first reaction of a penguin on their debut dip in the icy Antarctic Ocean :-)
And so, the quest began for the first child to get onto their feet on the surfboard. I was watching with eagle eyes from the sea wall nearby. Joey had made a good start and was looking good when, out of the corner of my eye I spotted someone bolt upright riding the crest of the wave. I looked in disbelief...it was the only man from the whole of Atlantis with 2 ears. The shock caused me to jolt my gaze sharply away...just in time to see Joey, Queen of the surf, cruising stylishly and effortlessly over the water. Oh yes, back of the net...time to cash in with William Hill - this bet clearly remains valid as a winner; a man with 2 ears is unusual and therefore, technically, in legal terms is exempt. I checked the small print and with my lawyer...the bet is a winner :-)
Not content with wiping the floor with the boys in the bowling last night, the girls were really strutting their stuff on the surfboards and there was some real talent on display. Huge raps here go to Emily, Emilia, Sophia, Venere and The Penguin who were all surfing superstars. Interestingly, those last 4 are all ballet dancers...says something about their balance I think! Maintaining the dignity of man were Benson and...errr....errr...Akindu whose sheer effor paid off handsomly. Go Akindu! Conversely our panto dame spent a lot of time falling off the board which can't have been too good for his make up and wig :-) As with the bowling last night it was absolutely fantastic to watch the children spend 2 hours having the time of their lives in a wonderful location. They laughed, smiled and giggled their whole way through and we were all very proud of them. Once it was all over I caught up with some of the surfers to gauge their views. "Great fun and I really got the hang of it after a while" Akindu said. "Really, really good" Conor said...or rather croaked as he had somehow transformed into a dalek whilst in the sea. His voice was a little croaky when he went in but he was a full blown menacing voiced dalek (or very like Danny Dyer as Mrs Holt put it) by the time he came out. I expect I will hear the calls of 'exterminate, exterminate' coming out of Room 8 later on. Sam completed the boys comments by adding "I've got a salty mouth" which I did point out is an occupational hazard of being in the sea. The girls also cast their opinions on the action. "Really fun and.....errr...yeah" said the Queen of the Surf in typically understated fashion. I then spotted a familiar waddling motion on the way to the changing rooms. "How was it penguin?" I enquired. "Great! I did it first time" came the reply. "She shuffled off a little further before turning "What time are we having dinner?" I scratched my head as that really depended on where the nearest bucket of fish was located :-)
Once all the children had changed out of their wet clothes and I had performed a miraculous healing on Lucas' 'broken' ankle, we started the walk back to the hotel. If anyone needs a miraculous healing I am now available as, within 10 minutes of rolling around on the floor of the changing rooms with a 'broken' ankle, Lucas was desperately pleading to play football on the sand. Amazing...the miracle of Sandown Beach :-) On the way back we engaged in a bit of shopping where my group (Joey, Ella, Venere, Kian, Joseph and Akindu) ground me down through a constant barrage of pleas. I eventually gave up for the sake of my sanity and we headed into a typical seaside shop...The Co-operative! "We could have had our school journey on Ongar Hill" I said. Without batting an eyelid, Akindu said "Yeah, but there would have been no surf boarding". Technically of course he is correct if he is referring to surfing the waves although I'm sure Mr Gorman could find an old wooden palette or a tin tray to slide down the hill from Row Town to school.
8.40pm Right, I'm back in real time. I'm sitting on the leather sofa in the lounge listening to the children enjoying their party in the dining area alongside. They are having a great time and have repeated their performance of the Taylor Swift dance from the Surrey Youth Games and The Shankliong Theatre. I have now declared this as an official UK tour. Next stop The London Palladium...I mean, we're surely better than a dog...who didn't do his own stunts :-)
STOP PRESS - Lou (the hotel owner) has made her choice for the winners of the tidiest room competition. The children have not been told yet so this is a world exclusive...Room 8...did not win! All those who got a large wager on Room 3, as advised, will be laughing all the way to the bank. Room 3 have stormed it by a country mile. Congratulations to Saskia, Mary, Angelica, Sophia, Megan & Monique. The politest table competition has also been judged by Amber (the waitress). This award has also been stormed by Table 3 who were described as 'impeccably we;ll mannered and polite all week'. Congratulations to Calvin, Conor, Emilia, Sophie and double victors Megan & Mary...it's those techno specs at work again...they're amazng!
Ok, the results are about to be announced here so I will put this on pause for now. Later I will be rolling the film credits for each room this week so make sure you check back. until then...
Oh wait a minute. Cries of "Mrs Holt, Mrs Holt, Mrs Holt" are ringing around Sandown. It's about to get messy in there. I expect before too long we will see our esteemed group leader being dragged across the floor by her feet. At least this hotel, unlike the previous one, has a floor more conducive to being dragged by the feet. Mrs Holt will be in her element. All we need now is a bit of The Smiths or Stone Roses and everything will be perfect - Manchester is my Heaven and all that. It's a special bond when your Year 6 teacher can throw her best shapes on the dance floor with the Year 6 class. Priceless entertainment...oh, here we go, the Orang utan is up there as well. You couldn't make this up :-) Oh quick, it's presentation time, I'd best dash. Back later...
9.50pm The staff at Bertram Lodge are such lovely people and have just said lots of complimentary things about the children. I think they have really enjoyed hosting us and happily they are looking forward to welcoming us back with next year's 6's. Mrs Holt and I are exceptionally proud of them as I'm sure you all are as parents. They have now returned to their rooms to begin packing...or in the case of Room 2 and Room 8, the trauma of packing :-) In the next few minutes I will begin preparing to go in to offer assistance. Preparations include donning a full bio-chemical suit, reinforced steel capped boots and receiving a series of inoculations. I will also be liaising with the SAS field patrol, US Navy Seals, United Nations and the Infectious Diseases Commissioner...as well as my lawyer to check the small print in my insurance details. If I get out alive I will roll the film credits later. Happily, before undertaking this deadly dangerous mission, Mrs Capindale and Mrs O'Connor have just performed an impromptu comedy double-act sketch which started with Mrs Capindale setting up a scene with Joseph... "Joe, when Mrs O'Connor comes in the room, ask me if the 'G' in my name stands for 'Great'" Joseph delivered right on cue and the banter kicked off.
STOP PRESS - Lucas has just crashed to the ground outside Room 8. "He simply picked himself up, brushed himself down and said "Sorry everyone...I tripped over my own feet". And to think this afternoon I was expecting him to stand up on a moving surf board on moving water. You simply couldn't make this up.
Ok, I'm going in everybody...if I'm not back within the hour call the Royal Marines.
10.45pm - Right, I'm out and alive...but only just after a close encounter with a festering mound croaking 'exterminate'. Fortunately the bio suit held firm and I was winched to safety through the window by a SAS helicopter. In the words of Mrs Holt "Room 8 looks almost respectable now". Upstairs I came across Mrs Capindale and Mrs O'Connor wrestling with a wild untethered suitcase in Room 2. They appeared to be doing a sterling job so I moved onwards. Room 2 is has now officially been declared a contaminated zone.
Now I'm back in the lounge and the children have gone to bed. Official lights out has passed but they are still talking in Room 7 and 8..again. They will be tired tomorrow but please note that we did all we could. If they are not quiet in the next half hour I will go in there with some dart guns and a platoon of troops :-) With the week drawing to a conclusion, it is time for me to roll the end credits. Your children have been wonderful company. They have reminded me why I love teaching and why I continue to put up with the challenging issues that often pass through my office. Mrs Holt, as always, has led the trip superbly and the rest of our fabulous staff team have been fabulous...as always. We have laughed and laughed this week and I will be glueing my sides back together this weekend. Mrs O'Connor is currently running through a selection of her 2,500 photos with running commentary in her inimitable style...it's making typing this quite challenging as my ribs are hurting :-)
Right...thank you for tuning in to our adventure this week. We really hope you have enjoyed the show. No children, staff, animals or fossils were harmed in the production of this epic tale. All characters are entirely real and all action is based on actual events...loosely in some cases but actual nevertheless. You have been watching...
Room 1 - 'Misery' starring Mrs Capindale and Mrs O'Connor and their very small room for the two of them. Lucky they love each other so much :-)
Room 2 - 'Earthquake meets Outbreak' starring Ella, Ellie, Alex, Joey Surf Queen and Philippa the Penguin
Room 3 - 'The Pink Panther Spy Mission' starring Sophia, Monique, Saskia, Angelica, Mary, several paparazzi cameras and Mary's magic techno specs
Room 4 - 'Pretty Women' starring Emily, Erika, Sophie Bowling Queen, Venere, Emilia, Ghia, an array of perfumes, cosmetics, several designer washbags and a rucksack full of rocks.
Room 5 - 'Every Which Way You Can' starring Mrs Holt and Orang utan
Room 6 - 'Walking and Walking and Walking with Dinosaurs and a First Aid pack' starring Mrs Osborn
Room 7 - 'Conquering My Fears' starring Calvin, Benson, William, Sam, Daniel and Jacques
Room 8 - 'Jurassic Park meets Narnia' starring Lucas, Joseph, Conor, Kian Panto Dame, Akindu, the man with two ears with guest appearances by the daleks and a SAS task force.
Room 9 - '9 to 5' starring The Blog Man and his computer
As Bugs Bunny would say...That's all for now folks. I may post one more later...once I've loaded the dart gun for Room 8. I'll give them exterminate... :-)
12 midnight...Yippee we've made it with a few minutes to spare. Room 8 have officially departed for the land of nod and we can now call an end to the day. Just as well really as my sides are hurting again after Mrs O'Connor did a comedy sketch re-run of our encounter with Mr Smashastone on the fossil hunt on Wednesday. What a great way to end our final night in the Isle of Wight. Good night to all in Addlestone from the whole party here in Sandown. We will be home tomorrow! I will try to do a quick update post in the morning although we are going to be on a tight schedule. It's breakfast at 8.30am and rock climbing at 9.45am...until then...it's over and out.
The Blog Man