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Thursday 7th June

Check here on Thursday for all the latest updates and action from the Isle of Wight as we enjoy day 4 of the 2018 trip...

7,00am - Good morning from a blissfully silent and serene Bertram Lodge. I'm sitting on the half landing enjoying a few moments of tranquility before the maelstrom of energy and noise is released in the next half hour. Breakfast today is 8.00am and we're heading off to the theatre at 9.00am. Outside the skies are grey again which has been a theme this week; I'm hoping it brightens up a bit by this afternoon before the children don the wetsuits and head into the Sandown surf. The trip has been fabulous so far. Your children have displayed their usual impeccable manners all week and are really enjoying this very special experience. They have stuck together, supported each other and strengthened bonds of friendship across the group. We've witnessed many incidents of perfect Holy Family behaviour each day, none more so than yesterday at Robin Hill when Darcie did what Darcie always does and simply reached out thoughtfully to someone in need. This time it was one of the boys who had climbed into the squirrel run cage suspended 50 feet above the ground, got half way across then decided it was a bit scary for him. He was perfectly safe but it was Darcie's actions that made the difference. Moments like that (and there have been many this week) sum up why It's s privilege to lead this school.

Thursday morning on a Year 6 residential is normally characterised by lots of bleary eyes and gazing vacantly into space (and that's just the staff) so I will be interested to see how everyone is once I've got some company around the place. As always, I will keep you all posted with the action as it unfolds. This will be fairly easy this morning as I can access the Wifi at Shanklin Theatre and this evening when I can post live updates from the party night dance floor. This afternoon, the laptop will be replaced on Sandown beach by the red notebook and pen as I scribble down all the classic surfing quotes. Mrs O'Connor, as always, will be on hand to capture the action in photographs and the Flip camera will be in use again as we continue with the epic movie. Speaking of movies, the time is drawing near for me to start rolling the film credits and allocate some movie titles to our rooms. I'd best get my thinking cap on. Tonight the hotel staff will also be selecting their table of the week and tidiest room of the week. If you've got any spare cash lying around, I'd suggest you put a hefty wager on Room 3 to take victory in the second category. They must surely win it..there is hardly a carpet fibre out of place in there; a tidy boys' room on a Year 6 trip is more rare than a sighting of the Yeti (which I'm sure is living under the festering mound next door in room 4). I'm considering contacting the English Tourist Board this morning and insisting they install a commemorative blue plaque on the outside wall.

Ok, more ramblings again very soon, it's time to see if we have any other signs of life up here in the rarified atmosphere of the boys' rooms.

7.45am - Getting out of bed is moving more slowly than Brexit negotiations this morning...although in room 1 it appears there has been much getting out of bed during the night. Life in room 1 is topsy turvy. Whilst Adam and Freddie were found where expected, the others were all in the wrong bunks... one bunk was empty asnd one was 'overpopulated'. Apparently this was due to a curtain malfunction late last night which caused Oisin to decamp from the bunk nearest the window. A knock on effect then rippled outwards like a tsunami bringing further chaos to a land already chaotic with chaos. Scenes like this were probably last witnessed just before the disappearance of the dinosaurs.

Down on the ground floor, the girls have simply ignored their alarms. No-one was awake in room 8 or room 10 when Mrs Capindale and Mrs Holt went in there 2 minutes ago. Despite this, I can still hear the distinctive drone of a hairdryer in action and Erin F has arrived with perfectly formed plaits...although she has adopted the Thursday morning staring vacantly into space pose on the sofa. There is a white cat staring at us through the window which I expect Callum would tell us has been genetically modified...if he was actually out of bed yet. Ok, I need to pause here as breakfast is ready and we've only got half a team ready to eat it. We've got some rounding up to do. More later...

9.45am - I'm now sitting in a comfy seat in Shanklin Theatre typing the live action as it unfolds on stage. The children are doing a dance warm up with Charlie. Bella & Isabel are dead centre in matching multi-coloured leggings and the group are already impressing the actors with their moves, attention and noise...unsurprisingly. Bertie is also up there strutting his stuff and has joined in with leading the 'Timber' song. They've now split into a singing group and a dancing group. The singers are Rhian, Gemma, Gaby, Isabelle, Leon, Antony, Maddison &  Callum whilst the rest are dancing and mostly moving in the right direction... though not necessarily at the same time :-)

It's now time for the selection of 8's Edward, Adam, Lukas, Oisin, Evie, Olivia F, Alysia and Geno who have stepped up to the microphone. Charlie is explaining about the different types of microphones used in the theatre. It will soon be time for the funny voice effects where I'm sure I will once again be transformed into a squeaky chipmunk. The funny sound effects are now in full flow; the children are all having a go and they're loving it...the teacher slot is growing ever closer. Oh, here we of my best speeches of the academic year has just been completed. Oh, it gets even better, it's time for the panto dame to be chosen. Who will volunteer for this vitally important role? Drum's Geno who's up for the challenge and he's now in the chair of transformation. The eyebrows are on, cheek blusher and the lipstick is going on. He now has his dress, 'accessories', wig  and new name of 'Queen Talula'. He actually looks the part and claims his best 'ladies' walk across the stage is based on Mrs Holt...although his 'ladies' voice is definitely not authentic northern but a dead ringer for Peggy Mitchell. At least he's now got his party outfit sorted for tonight.

It's now gone pitch black as Charlie and Joe explain about the lighting. Goodness only knows what keys I'm pressing here. Ok, the lights are back on now and the children are back on stage ready to perform their newly rehearsed routine. All this will be recorded on a DVD by Joe at the back and handed to Mrs Holt on departure.

5.15pm - Good afternoon all, we have just returned to the hotel after a fantastic afternoon in the sea. The weather was pleasant and the sun even made an appearance as we were walking back to the coach. The children are now showering before dinner at 6pm which gives me a short while to rewind to this morning and pick up with the action where we left off...

In the theatre, Joe took the children on a backstage tour then we had a Q&A session on the stage. The children were so brilliantly knowledgeable that they got every question right and there were mere scraps of funny comments for me to scavenge. The best one here was probably "What do you notice about the stage?" A split second before everyone replied "It's sloping", someone from my left said "It's black." Technically a correct response if not the correct response.

We left the theatre at 11.40am and made the 20 minute stroll down onto Shanklin Beach for a spot of retail therapy...which I think has meant that Mrs Capindale & Mrs O'Connor now need to book in somewhere for therapy themselves. It was the usual crazy deranged scatter-gun approach to shopping displayed by the boys but the biggest worry was that the toxic waste gene appears to have mutated and now resides within the girls. This is an exceptionally worrying development and further increases the need for some of Callum's genetic modification. The boys were eyeing up such retail classics as alien hatchlings, bejewelled skulls and 5p gummy cookies. "I could buy 500 of those" Rocco casually announced. Don't laugh..that sort of thing could easily happen on a Year 6 residential. As if the sugar rush from 500 potential gummy cookies wasn't enough, Finlay and Geno had discovered the rock display. Of particular interest to them were the slightly more unusual flavours. "Look Mr Tindall, you can buy whisky rock...and scrumpy cider flavour." I turned around to see Adam clutching a fistful of refresher bars but then my attention was drawn to a hullabaloo in the corner of the shop. I sidled over to discover that Finlay had moved away from the rock by now and was standing with Antony. "Look Mr Tindall, you can buy Donald Trump's face for £1" he informed me. Several others were also gathered around and £1 for the presidents face seemed to be a popular suggestion. I'm making no further comment as he may verbally abuse me on Twitter.

After we left the shop we walked back to the coach and drove back to the hotel for lunch. A quick change followed then we were back on the coach to Sandown Beach for Wight Water surf boarding. As always, this proved to be an epic activity with plenty of weird and whacky goings on. I will need to break here so I can post all that together after dinner...which is fish & chips! Bring it on...

7.10pm - I'm back on the leather sofa in the lounge. Dinner was very tasty and the children have gone to get ready for the party. Mrs Capindale's mobile hair salon is open for business but I believe demand is so high this year that appointments had to me made. Erin F managed to book first and is currently in the chair. The boys are upstairs probably currently trying to find something to wear amongst the festering mounds scattered around the floor...apart from Dr Spreadbury who will simply casually open his suitcase, effortlessly slide out his beautifully pressed outfit and get changed. His suitcase has to be seen to be believed. Happily, Mrs O'Connor has taken photographic evidence as I am concerned people may think I have taken leave of my senses. So impressed am I with his suitcase, I am considering running a Generation Game special next year targeted at the current Year 5 boys. The one-off special will feature 2 rounds:

Round 1: How to pack & unpack a suitcase with expert Leon

Round 2: How to make a bed with military precision with expert Olivia Frith.

Ok, enough of this, let's get back to the events of earlier today as we arrived at Wight Water on the promenade at Sandown Beach. We were met by our instructors who today were Kian, Jack, Toby and Jesus of a wetsuit. Again, just to ensure you don't believe I have taken leave of my senses, Mrs O'Connor has the photographic evidence. Kian ran through the instructions for how to put on the wetsuit and buoyancy jacket then the children were let loose to get changed. Standing a mere 5 feet away from a massive rail of wetsuits on hangers, Geno said "Where are the wetsuits?" This was not a promising start. Olivia B grabbed her wetsuit. "Errr, it's all wet." This is a basic lifestyle choice for your average wetsuit so I suspect it was quite pleased with her comment. "Ooh, I really don't like it" she continued. Sammy then ran out with his wetsuit. He was thrilled as Jesus had told him "he moved like a gazelle." However, this was before he tried to put on the wetsuit and was clearly struggling...although at this point he actually looked like  a gazelle being dragged to the ground by a pride of lions. 

By this time Geno had his wetsuit and buoyancy jacket on. He pointed to the red jacket and said "Is this because we're going in the sea?" The less than promising start was not getting any more promising. Olivia B was back, this time with her buoyancy jacket. "This doesn't fit me, I need a size up" she said.

"You're not at New Look now Olivia" I advised but off she went regardless. Arriving back with a bigger size she then said "This wetsuit is actually strangling me." It was still not getting any more promising. Fifteen minutes into the attempted dressing of wetsuits, Freddie was still fighting a losing battle with his. "The invention of wetsuits is a crime to society" he grunted as he hopped unsteadily on one leg on the sand.

Eventually they were all 'suited up' and ready to roll so they headed down to the beach to be introduced to their surfboards. They started with a demonstration on the sand then they launched themselves into the waves. First into the water was Gemma followed by Lia, Rhian and Sammy... who was also the first to be thrown spectacularly off his board. First to stand up on the board was Edward. As I watched this great event from the sea wall, Mrs Holt returned from the water's edge and said "There's no way that man has the profound knowledge and wisdom of Jesus." In all fairness to him, I've never met anyone before who has; it's a pretty challenging yardstick to reach.

Alysia and Lia were soon stylishly surfing the waves along with Anthony, Olivia F and the gazelle. After initially saying she didn't want to go in the water, Gaby was having a whale of a time. You could literally see the confidence flowing through her with every passing minute. This is why Year 6 residential trips are so special...fantastic. Not far away, Oisin was fully utilising his skateboarding skills to great effect on the surfboard whilst Olivia B had overcome her strangulation suit, was looking lovely in her New Look buoyancy aid and was surfing like a professional. It's the gymnastic balance...she's a natural.

Amidst all the grace and elegance there were some spectacular tumbles which proved highly entertaining...unless you were the one being catapulted off the side of the board. Antony shouted his assessment of surfing conditions to Mrs Holt " I think I'm doing very well but the waves are getting rather feisty" he said. After the less than promising start in the changing sheds, the whole group were brilliant in the water and the instructors were very impressed. As they came out of the sea at the end, I caught up with a few of them to hear their honest assessment. First up was Olivia B who said "That's not how I pictured surfing in my mind." My quizzical look encouraged further explanation. "I pictured palm trees and sun in Hawaii, not freezing water like here." she added.

Erin F was next to answer my simple question "How was it?"

Erin: Well, I hate water, I hate the sea, I hate getting wet so surfing is not my favourite thing."

I spotted Alysia...things would surely look up now...

Alysia: "It was fun, I loved was awesome."

I then saw Geno approaching. After being unable to spot the wetsuits from 5 feet away and wondering why he was wearing the red buoyancy aid, I was intrigued as to how he would answer my 'How was it?' question...

Geno: "All surfers have long hair...well apart from the few who have short hair" he replied.

Erin W: "It was great, I loved it and would definitely do it again." Great answer to follow great surfing by Erin.

I then caught up with Gaby who simply said "It was good." Short and sweet, end of story.

Last out of the water was the gazelle, described by Kian as a natural surfer. I would agree with that assessment; along with Lia, he spent more time upright on the board than anyone else.

The children performed superbly. It was either the blue and yellow Holy Family surfboards that inspired them or Mrs Holt has been giving them secret lessons amongst all the SPAG, writing and maths this year :-)

8pm - the disco is in full flow and the children are loving it. Just before I report on the events of the party as they occur, I just need to take you all back to the end of dinner for a razor-sharp funny delivered by Freddie. As I was talking about Leon's suitcase and my plans for a Generation Game special in 2019, Freddie said "Leon, how much do you charge for a suitcase packing service?" Brilliant timing and marks Freddie :-)

More lemonade fuelled exploits will be reported soon...

9.30am - Apologies for the delayed posting. This is due to me being taken quietly to one side around 8.15pm by Mrs Holt and 'asked' "If I would like to take myself out for a little fresh air". It was like a scene from a sinister spy movie set behind the iron curtain. I was given my directions. "It's only a 13 minute walk comrade, I will expect you back within half an hour." I set off and spent most the journey glancing over my shoulder in case I was being followed by two henchmen in trench coats with steel pipes up their sleeves. I moved quickly and was back within half an hour...with two bunches of tulips as ordered :-)

Right, back to reality...a company of henchmen with steel pipes up their sleeves would be highly unlikely to venture into room 1. It's  hideous in there and the occupants are attempting to pack their suitcases. It is impossible to imagine how the right clothes will ever end up in the right suitcases...or any suitcases for that matter. Parents of Oisin, Geno, Freddie, Adam, Lukas and Finlay, I hope you hold up to date insurance policies with an extensive cover on personal belongings. They are currently claiming that 'someone has been in our room and moved everything."

I reliably informed them that no man, beast or alien beings would dare to enter that room before getting out before the cocktail of fumes, aerosols and David Beckham Intense rendered my lungs permanently useless. Over in room 4 they are faring a little better although Tienne is in a terrible pickle. It turns out that the festering mound in room 4 belongs to him...I worked this out once I spotted the tartan PJ's entwined amongst the debris. Next door in room 3 they are playing a civilised game with their magnets as there is no need for any packing or tidying up. The tidiest room should be announced at breakfast 3 must be the biggest odds on favourites in the history of the world. Downstairs, Mrs Holt informs me that 'the girls are nearly done.' Typical orderly organisation from the girls...they've probably even packed away the hairdressing salon for the night as well.

Ok, wish me luck - I'm off upstairs again to see how things are progressing...or not as I fully expect. Back soon...(ish)

10.15pm - We're making some headway. At least 2 suitcases are packed in room 1 and I can now see some small patches of carpet. Most of the children have joined me in the lounge for the traditional final night motivational talk. This will begin at 10.30pm where Mrs Holt and I will take the children through the big lessons and learning of the week. It is important that this amazing experience enriches their understanding of themselves, of others and of the different situations they are likely to face as they move on to secondary school. It is also vitally important that they come home knowing that true happiness in life is about strong relationships and reliable friendships. Your children have been fabulous company this week and I'm sure they have learned many things; I truly hope they take this forward with them as they move on from Holy Family in July.

I will post one final entry once everyone is in bed. Until then...

11.05pm - Some have settled, others are still not packed and organised but it's time for me to roll the movie credits for the 2018 trip. The blog itself has grown into an epic, classic tale  of intrigue, adventure, mystery and strong relationships like Ben Hur or El Cid. Meanwhile there have been the sub plot movies in our 9 rooms. Thank you for your company this week. You have been watching:

Room 1: Jurassic Park meets Apocalypse Now starring Freddie, Adam, Lukas, Oisin, Finlay and Geno

Room 2: Sleepless in The Isle of Wight  starring Mrs Capindale, Mrs O'Connor and a sheep with funny eyes and uneven legs.

Room 3: The Great Debate starring Edward, Antony, Callum and Leon

Room 4: Mission Impossible meets The Mary Rose...a load of old wood starring Anthony, Rocco, Tienne, Sammy and a festering mound.

Room 5: The Rookie starring Miss Hodson

Room 6: Orangutan in the Mist starring Diane Fossey, David Attenborough, Bertie the orangutan and Mr Tindall

Room 8: Pitch Perfect starring Evie, Bella, Isabelle, Olivia F, Gemma, Rhian, Lia and Jessica

Room 9: Enid Blyton's The Famous Five starring Mrs Holt and lashings of ginger beer

Room 10: Hairspray starring Olivia B, Isabel, Erin W, Darcie, Erin F, Alysia, Maddison and Gaby

No children,teachers or animals were hurt in the making of this epic tale...well, apart from Bertie who suffered severe neglect and mental heartbreak during the first two days of the trip. I do believe Mrs Holt is committed to making it up to him by finding him a friend at Monkey Haven tomorrow...although I am concerned this may not be enough for Mrs Holt to avoid a major backlash from the gibbons and other ape-chums of our favourite orangutan.

I will sign off for now as my brain is going into creative meltdown. Sleep well and we'll see you all in Addlestone tomorrow afternoon. Love and hugs from everyone here in Sandown

The Blog Bloke