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Thursday 5th June

7.25am Good morning all from a gloriously sunny Shanklin! Yes, the sun has got a major hat on this morning...I suspect it's one of those giant sombreros that Speedy Gonzalez used to wear back in the good old days. My first post is ten minutes later than yesterday...a tell-tale first sign of a little bit of trip fatigue creeping in but fear not, I am bouncing and ready to keep you all up to speed today. The hotel is quiet...very quiet as this years end of season celebration party at Old Trafford. Just as a slight side line, did you know that all the whizzy technology for that party was installed and run by the same company who are installing our immersive suite? That's the sort of attention to detail we are talking about...and it should go a long way towards helping me deliver the 4-D simulator ride that I missed out on at Robin Hill yesterday.

Plans for today include the theatre workshop this morning and the water sports this afternoon with a bit of shopping thrown in for good measure inbetween. Mrs Holt has just breezed into the room with a sunny spring in her step "Is there any life up there?" I asked her. "There is now!" she replied...before gazing out of the window and adding "Ooh, look at that sun" wihilst chuckling happily to herself. These are the things that make teachers happy on a Year 6 residential. Apparently everyone was flat out this morning...except in Room 11 where Joe and Charlie were wide awake and ready. Charlie has clearly given up on going back to sleep once the early morning chats begin :-) The Smithsonian professor slept on by all accounts - I guess we are in for another informative talk today..hopefully not one about albino squirrels this time as they would get very sunburned on a day like this. Joshua was also lying awake in his quicksand hammock in Room 6 but you will be delighted to hear that he was smiling away and perfectly happy again. Clearly yesterday's lost ring (which was lost again in the theatre last night) has not mentally scarred him too much.

The first children have now arrived downstairs. Not surprisingly it's Joe and Charlie. Joe informs me that he 'had to wake up Kieran 3 times and it wasn't easy!' I expect KIeran will be be able to explain the science behind this later on. The Lord of the Dance has now skipped in looking very much like he is ready for a Jamaican beach party in a superbly colourful t-shirt. Megan has just paid him £10...this is quite a cheap salary considering the virtuoso performance he put on in the theatre...or maybe it's today's pocket money allocation :-) Joined by Gus, the 4 boys are now perched atop bar stools like 4 wise monkeys analysing the world. Unsurprisingly there is no sign of any girls yet.

Stop Press...Joshua has just arrived. "Have you still got your ring?" I asked. "Yes I found it under the seat " he replied with a smile. This ring is is turning into a Isle of Wight version of the Tolkein classic. I will be keeping my eyes peeled today for goblins, elves and dwarves wandering around the island. Gus has just said "There's Mr Gorman..." Perhaps he's now jumped off the Spinnaker Tower, built himself a raft out of a few planks of 4 by 2 and floated over here on the tide. Charlie is talking non-stop and has just asked Mrs O'Connor what she is going to buy when shopping this morning. Without a moments hesitation the reply came "A zip". Permission was granted by Megan so that should make for an interesting hunt this morning.

Ok, enough of the morning frivolities for now. Breakfast should have now started as it is 8am and there are no girls. Time to send in the troops I think. Mrs Capindale is in charge of calling her SAS chums as this could be a challenging mission...

Stop Press...The girls are now arriving in droves. Mission accomplished by Sergeant Sahara and her American Buzzard.

I'm not sure who Gus saw earlier but rumour has it that it was a man carrying a drill, a black bag and a big slice of cake :-) Mrs Holt is in full flow with todays inspirational talk. This one is wonder we got an outstanding grade in our RE inspection. Ok, morning prayers are done and it is now time to head in for breakfast. More news later...

Stop Press... we were joined at breakfast by a member of The Royal Mint as Caitlin was spotted holding her £5 up to the light to check the watermark. Along with the Inland Revenue operative, the financial regulation authorities are clearly keeping a close on the trip proceedings. The boys' rooms appear to be reverting to type with mounds of clothing materialising on the floor. I need to pop up to Room 6 now as there is a rumour that the small family of badgers have relocated upstairs. I'd better dash off to make sure Josh has safely stored his ring otherwise the badgers could sell it to pay for their rent. Back later...

Stop Press 2...after escaping Room 6 with my fingers intact I popped next door to Room 5 to celebrate with the crew of HMS Elephant. That place needs to be seen to be believed. You could eat your dinner off the floor in there. Top top marks to Tia, Emily, Yasmine and Saoirse for their efforts. I think they now need to pop along to Room 8 to offer advice to the John Lewis staff who are struggling to put it mildly. Isabelle's bed appears to be sinking into the floor...perhaps the quicksand from Room 6 is flowing down the corridor? Well, it's either that or the weight of all the cosmetics and lipstick in there :-) Next door in Room 9 they are in desperate need of the 60 minute make-over team. "Err, just to let you know Mr Tindall, we haven't tidied it yet" K-J informed me as I begun the inspection. "Really, I'd never have guessed" I replied. Their hair looks nice though...lots of pretty flowers in evidence in the hairstyles of Room 9. Over in Room 16 things were better...apart from under the sink where there was a large pile of washbags and other stuff lying around...oh and a sock. "Everything just exploded over there!" was Amy's brilliantly original explanation. I told you the creative curriculum was working :-)

Ok, time to go...the coach is loading up for the theatre. Speak to you all later...

6:30pm Good evening from sunny Addlestone! This is a quick news flash from Mrs O'Neil, Mr Tindall is having technical difficulties on the Isle of Wight. We hope to resume normal service shortly. I can report they have had the most fantastic day, at the theatre and completing a variety of water sports this afternoon. We look forward to the funny stories later...

7.40pm technical dificulties may be sorted?....

5.15pm Good afternoon everyone I’m back at long last. I have been experiencing some serious technical gremlins today which came to a head at lunchtime when I posted a blog update then the whole things crashed and I lost it all. Now I can’t type directly onto the website so am back in Word copy and paste mode. Never mind, it’s been a superb day and there’s plenty worth reading about…I hope.

We left the hotel and jumped on the coach at 9.20am for the 5 minute drive to Shanklin Theatre where we were met at the door by Dom, Charlie and Sinead, 3 of the cast from last night’s show. Mrs Capindale, Mrs O’Connor and Megan headed inside whilst Mrs Holt and I hopped back on the coach on a special secret mission. 30 minutes later, with the mission very successfully completed, we were chatting away on the coach about how life must be for those who live on the island permanently. Mrs Holt was clearly having trouble getting her head around the lifestyle. “I just can’t imagine it…I mean, you can’t even go to IKEA without getting on a boat.” From the driver’s seat, Graham said “They must be devastated about that.” Majestically dry and straight out of Conor’s textbook of humour. “And, Waitrose, I’ve not seen one of them either” Mrs Holt continued to lament. I reached into the first aid box in search of a tissue as it appeared she was about to break out in a cold sweat. With no IKEA or Waitrose it makes you wonder how life is worth living for your average Isle of Wighter.

Inside the theatre, the action was in full flow and the Lord of the dance was continuing to display an impressive range of flexibility. After last night’s virtuoso dance performance he had been transformed into Dame Louise complete with costume and make up. Unfortunately we just missed it but Mrs O’Connor certainly didn’t. Photos are currently the subject of a major bid from OK magazine. The children had a fabulous time learning how a show is put together, all about the lighting, sound, costumes, songs and music from the play. They toured backstage and then had an informative chat on the stage. Dom, the company director said “We have a sloping stage here, what problems do you get with a sloping stage?” “Gravity” replied Kieran instantly. That certainly tickled the actors…they enjoyed that. I was waiting for the professor to begin a Smithsonian speech on Newton’s various theories but they moved swiftly onwards. “Are you guys doing an end of year play?2 Dom then asked. “Yes, it’s called Shakespeare Rocks” came a chorus of replies. “Ok, what’s that about then?” he enquired. There was a brief moment of silence when time appeared to stand still then someone said “It’s all about Shakespeare…and he rocks.” Dom simply smiled and said “Thanks for clearing that up for me!” They then launched into a demonstration of the smoke machine which actually smelled quite sweet. “It’s not at all like a 1980’s nightclub is it?” Mrs Holt whispered to me. Certainly not like the smell of The Hacienda anyway. Smoke machine…very atmospheric…that would add to the effect of a 4-D simulator ride in the immersive suite. Time for another email I think! To conclude the tour, all the children took their rehearsed positions on stage to perform their own version of the show. This was all recorded on video by the theatre and played back at the end. It is well worth watching…and when you do, check out the facial expression of the Lord of the Dance at the end…priceless!

Heading out of the theatre, Mrs Holt said “Right, we are going shopping now.” “Oh great, where is Primark?” Brogan eagerly asked me. Hmm, she needed to have a chat with Mrs Holt…Primark is on the list of ‘conspicuous by their absence’ alongside IKEA and Waitrose…although, looking on the bright side, at least a brand new John Lewis cosmetics outlet has opened up in Shanklin this week. First stop was The Rock Shop where the boys were buying lickable roll on and edible spray deodorant…or that’s what it looked (and smelled) like to me. Moving swiftly onward we walked down to the beach shops where it took the Lord of the Dance 0.01 seconds to locate the metre stick of pink bubblegum. Lovely…the epidemic spread amongst the boys quicker than the Plague consumed London in the 17th century. When not buying giant gum, the boys were back on the toy weapons and armaments trail. When this didn’t work they tried one last time on a slightly different track. “Are we allowed water guns? They’re quite harmless…water is actually very harmless!” “I know what water is Declan” I replied. “And…if you were careering over Niagara Falls in a soup bowl you may not find it so harmless” I added with a flourish. I was delighted with this reply…I felt it would resonate with our resident Damien Hurst but he simply looked at me blankly so I sent him off to ask Mrs Holt. I’m not sure exactly how that went but I did hear an abrupt “No” being uttered a matter of moments later. In amongst all this boy carnage, most of the girls were shopping serenely and buying thoughtful gifts for siblings, parents and family…oh, and I got a cracking little souvenir that will be presented later…more details to follow in my bedtime post tonight! We left the shop shortly afterwards and went back to the hotel for lunch and to change into water sports kit. That’s our morning action updated so I will end here as it’s almost time for dinner. More later…

7.25pm - This is a majorly frustrating situation. The computer crash at lunchtime when I was trying to post the morning action has left my system in disarray. I cannot type onto the website, copy and paste or send emails at the moment so am typing everything into Word whilst we try to work out what is going on. Let’s go back to the action of the day…

As we were about to head off to the water sports, Caitlin appeared walking rather hesitantly and grinning. “I can’t see out of my glasses; I was spraying sun cream on my nose and missed!” she informed me. “Oh well, at least your spectacles won’t get burned” I replied positively. We made the 20 minute walk along the beach enjoying the sun beating down on our backs and arrived at the water sports location. The 5 instructors introduced themselves then began the pre-activity information talk

Starting by lifting up a ‘buoyancy aid’ the instructor said “Now, what’s this?” Incorrect responses ranged from “A life jacket?” right through to “A bullet-proof vest”. Clearly the last person (not sure who it was) is used to surfing in the major gun capitals of the world. Next on display was the wetsuit. “What’s wrong with the wetsuit?” Silence…absolutely no response at all. “Ok”, he continued “Here’s a label…where do your labels normally go?” he asked expectantly. “On the front!” came a chorus of replies. You see, this is the problem with the likes of Hollister and SuperDry…they’ve got a lot to answer for. Once he had finally got the message across about it being inside out, they got changed. Oh…and he also told them seventeen times that the zip goes to the back. Putting on the wetsuits was interesting. Lucy Mc said “I don’t like this suit, it’s wet”. Hmm, I’m no surfing expert but I’m assuming being wet is a basic function of yer average wetsuit. Several of the boys were struggling doing up their zips…at the front…and K-J said “This is too tight around my neck”. “Can you breathe?” the instructor enquired. “Yes” K-J replied. “It’s not too tight then” he concluded with a flourish. Out in the water they played several games to build confidence. These included kayaking relays, scrambling over upturned kayaks and jumping and balancing as a team on top of an upturned kayak. It looks fantastic fun.

Following the kayaking games they moved onto surfing on the boards. Pointing first at the curved shape of the upper surface then at the large fin on the underside of the board, the instructor asked “What is the difference between this side and the top?” “Err, it’s blue?” came the brilliant response! Dressed in his black wetsuit, Gus had taken on a remarkable resemblance to EnderMan and then he promptly proceeded to prove himself to be ‘King of the Surf’. He was awesome surfing the waves with consummate ease. Jason was up on his feet and surfing next followed by ‘Queen of the Surf’ Alicia. Hot on her heels, Lucy Mc, Tiffany and Brogan (amidst all the customary trademark screaming) were all enjoying plenty of boarding success. One or two of the others were stranded on the sand like beached porpoises and were frantically clawing at the surf with their arms. “Why don’t you just stand up and carry your board into the slightly deeper stuff?” I suggested politely. They didn’t respond and carried on floundering…clearly I cannot talk to porpoises. I think I need some lessons from Dr Doolittle later on…which reminds me – the IOW cows must have really achy breaky legs by now…happily they’ve been standing up all week.

By the latter part of the session Josh was riding the waves (they need to write that into The Hobbit I think), Alannah, Yasmine and Harley were upright and most of the others had made it at least to the kneeling position. With 10 minutes to go it was all capped as Dame Louise, Lord of the Dance completed his Hawaii Five O audition with a speedy surf shorewards…before tumbling off the side of the board into the water. This obviously wouldn’t have done much for his lovely make-up but he had nothing to worry about as the John Lewis outlet had already declared earlier that they would be operating extended opening hours tonight. With 5 qualified and highly vigilant instructors in the water, up on the prom the staff were enjoying a well-earned bit of R&R and a Panini in the sun trap café. As the children came out of the water at the end of their session, their judgements were delivered: “Fun…apart from the salt water up my nose” “Really good…but I was wearing seaweed for a lot of the time”, “I loved the surfing…but I think I’ve got sunburned fingers” You learn something new every day…I didn’t know porpoises had fingers. The final quote came from Jason “Cold…but awesome and the best thing ever”… “and cold!” Louis added with a huge grin.

8.40pm I'm now back in real time but things are really all over the place's about as controlled as an England penalty shoot out in the World Cup. Never on! Children are in the disco at the moment and having a whale of a time (especially our porpoises from earlier). Mrs Holt is in charge of tunes - it's a real East Manc  'scrumply' scene in there. 'Scrumply' is a marvellous northern word that only Mrs Holt and I appear to be aware of. Honestly, not only do we have to teach SPAG, we also have to introduce people to proper vocabulary (Mrs O'Connor watch and learn). Chants of 'Mrs Holt, Mrs Holt' are ringing out from next door. I expect our Year 6 teacher is shaping some 1980's smoke-filled nightclub moves in there :) I'm off for a quick check...

Stop press...apparently the chants accompanied our Year 6 teacher being dragged into the middle of the dance floor by her feet. This is excellent news as it would make her feel at home...being dragged around by your feet was commonplace in Manc nightclubs :-) Oh my word, we really are reminiscing... this is fantastic...The Smiths are now on... This Charming Man...I'm back at The Hacienda...

Stop Press 2...It gets better. All the children have 'disappeared' upstairs and Mrs Holt is now in there bouncing to the beat of New Order...all we need now is The Stone Roses and everything will be perfect. Manchester is my Heaven and all that. The children are now back and continuing their education of all things Manc culture related. Kieran informs me that we are going to the beach now...Mrs Holt is really going for it! More confused ramblings later :-)

10.10pm Back again everyone. We have just returned from the beach where the sandcastle competition swung into action. After a rather hesitant start, the room teams really got into creative mode and some inspired creations appeared on the beach. First finished, and setting a sensational standard was 'Ammonite'... created by Megan and yours truly and inspired by world leading ammonite expert Mrs O'Connor. Sadly Ammonite was exempt from the voting process so that left the others. The children were each tasked with casting a secret vote at the end and the winner (by only one vote) was 'Feeling Free' created by Room 9 (K-J, Lucy E, Brogan and Charlotte). It depicted a butterfly flying towards a flower and represented the girls' new found confidence after experiencing new things this week. Very profound indeed and it had Mrs O'Connor reaching for her tissues. Runner-up was Room 6 with their creation 'Osborne Isle' which was a map of the IOW with Osborne House in the centre. Well done to Joshua, Dilan and Declan along with Joe who was drafted in from Room 11. Osborne Isle had a touch of the 'Modern Art' style which is only to be expected with Damien Hurst in the team. Keep an eye out at the Tate over the summer never know :-) Ok, the children are all downstairs now and ready for bed. I'm off for a final room inspection...back soon

Stop Press...I am back and lucky to have got out alive with only superficial wounds. Here is a quick synopsis of the carnage up there...

Room 2 - lots of head scratching...I'm really not sure how they can possibly be ready to leave at 9am tomorrow

Room 4 - Clearly the Esacpe from Alcatraz bid has been abandoned. All the clothes and suitcases are back out of the tunnel and the place is full of mounds. Not only have the small family of badgers moved back in, I think there could be a few black bears under there too.

Room 6 - Carnage. A toy creature lies spreadeagled in the quicksand

Room 5 - HMS Elephant do it again :-)

Room 8 - Health Warning! Entering the room I suffered lacerations to the foot due to the booby trap behind the door...quite what a metal coat hanger was doing there is beyond me. John Lewis best have top quality public liability insurance ready.

Room 9 - Although it has been beautifully sunny today, a tornado and an earthquake have battered through there in the last hour. It is utter carnage in there. I got out as swiftly as I could as I expect a sink hole may open up soon

Room 11 - Did not dare enter as earlier this evening (just prior to the disco) I went in there and subsequently had to undergo a lung transplant due to the spray. Without the safety of fully tested and approved scuba diving equipment I'm not going back in there in a hurry

Room 16 - Oh my goodness, it looked like Bury Market after a storm. There are clothes literally everywhere in there...well, everywhere except for the suitcases :-) Don't think there will be too much trouble deciding on a winner tomorrow morning.

The children have now gone back to their rooms for bed and Mrs Holt has just said "3 minutes until lights out" It is 10.47pm so I guess lights out will be 10.50pm. I hope they are in bed before lights out otherwise I will need to call the SAS, The Royal Marines and the RSPCA to rescue them all amongst the carnage. The staff are looking at Mrs O'connor's photos and there are lots of 'oohs', 'aahhs' and 'awww that's lovely' drifting across the room. I hope that when the brilliant photos are put alongside the blog they will help to make my inane ramblings understandable for you all. Right, I will sign off for now but will be back later with a final post (including the special souvenir presentation)...

12.15am Here is my last post of the day...or my first post of Friday whichever way you look at it. The sand excellent sculpture created by Room 2 tonight was called 'IOW 2014 LOL'. This, we were informed, stood for 'lots of laughs' and it was perfect because this trip has been all about laughter. The sound of laughter has accompanied the group wherever we have been and as I settle down for the night I think my sides are in need of serious repair. We have just reviewed the events of the week, the photos of the week and my face aches ever so slightly from laughing so much. It has been a brilliant trip and the children have been amazing company. Everywhere we have visited people have complimented us and will welcome the school back with open arms next year. Politeness, kindness and helpfulness have been in abundance and I am very proud of both the staff and the children. Mrs Holt, tireless as ever, has led the trip perfectly and set the tone for everything we have done. The children have matured and grown up this week. They have faced and overcome new challenges and learned so much about independence, true friendship and the priceless value of appreciating everything they have. It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to share such a special experience with all of them.

I hope you have all found the blog informative, interesting and fun. Everything recorded in this blog has actually happened, embellished only around the edges with a tiny bit of artistic licence. We still have tomorrow left although logistically it is a challenge to post on the final day. I will do my best but we may see you all in person at the school gates before I can upload anything major. Whatever happens I will ensure I finish it properly as soon as we return. Until tomorrow, it's goodnight from all the laughing cavaliers in Shanklin :-)

Stop Press...tonight we presented Mrs O'Connor with a commemorative Ammonite to mark her newly-unearthed expertise in these fascinating fossils. She is available for lectures, presentations or after dinner speaking should anyone be interested. email