Thursday 8th June
Day 4 has dawned on the Isle of Wight; it’s another beautiful sunny start with what looks like a fresh breeze blowing to assist the water sports activities. It’s been another very quiet night in the hotel and there are currently no elephant footsteps upstairs which means everyone is still in bed. Mrs Holt and her guinea pig Mr B are here in the lounge, enjoying a few moments of peace with me before the wake-up rounds begin. The last full day on the island is set to be another active one which will begin with a long walk along the prom followed by the annual Year 6 v putting on a wetsuit battle. It should be entertaining.
Check back later for all the news and comments. Wishing you all a very happy day in Addlestone. Bye for now.
The waking up route this morning required a bit more teacher input. I needed to tap a bit harder on the metal frames with my coin before signs of life were displayed. There were, however, plenty of signs of life strewn across the floors. None of it was human…or even earthly for that matter. Alien lifeforms are a fairly typical Thursday morning scene. In room 2, Louie and Nicholas were standing in the one small patch of carpet that was free of debris. They looked bamboozled as they stared at a pair of Adidas sliders in front of them…except it wasn’t a pair. They have identical sliders and we had one from each pair. This can only mean one thing. There is a goblin in a Mordor discotheque currently wearing Louie’s hat and an odd-sized pair of Adidas sliders. Next door in room 3, I almost stood on a giant-sized Cornish pasty that was stylishly perched between a Nike trainer and a crumpled leavers hoodie. This is obviously where the chefs on The Great British Menu get their inspiration for presenting their food. Theo would probably have been highly praised by the judges. Unsurprisingly, downstairs Mrs Holt and Mrs Capindale had a much more sedate journey through the shed and room 1.
Once I got back downstairs, Florence and Siobhan were having an animated debate with Louie about their room name ‘Timmy Two’.
“Why didn’t you name it Timmy the Turtle?” Louie asked
“Because it’s a tortoise, can’t you tell the difference?” Siobhan replied.
Louie was not impressed. “How I am supposed to know that, he’s a plastic toy!” Fair point in my opinion.
Bearing in mind Louie still has the raspy voice of Gollum this morning, this all sounded rather dramatic and slightly sinister...but very funny.
Mrs Holt and I then gave a very detailed talk about what to take to the surfing, what they absolutely mustn’t forget and how, each year, at least 2-3 boys forget to take their pants/shorts for the walk back to the hotel. Surely this tactic would reap reward in 2023. Only time would tell, and to be fair, I wasn’t holding my breath.
Before we left the hotel, I caught up with Leon who was sitting on the red leather sofa admiring his bottle of after shave. “I love the smell of my after shave, I’m going to spray some on” he said.
“Before you go in the sea or afterwards?” I asked
“Both” he answered.
Fair enough. Perhaps he’s trying to attract a mermaid from the sea. Let’s hope jellyfish and sharks are not particularly attracted to Joop Homme 😊
Leon has obviously realised that it is World Ocean Day today where we are called to celebrate the diversity of marine creatures including fish, turtles, crustaceans, coral, plankton, mermaids and Year 6 children in wetsuits. Leon is in real marine party mode with his Joop Homme.
After breakfast we strolled down to Sandown Beach and along the prom to Wight Water where the instructors ran through all the instructions in great detail…several times over.
“Here’s the wetsuit, it will be inside out so you need to turn it the right way around. The zip goes at the back. You put your legs in first, into the legs of the wetsuit, not in the arms. Make sure your knee pads are on your knees not on your shins. This is the buoyancy aid, the zip goes at the front. Stand on the concrete, not the sand, when you put your wetsuit on”
Bearing in mind that some of the boys have struggled this week to comprehend the need to keep socks and shoes in pairs, I wasn’t overly optimistic of a successful operation. Instructions complete, the children disappeared into the changing rooms. Fairly swiftly, a sweet aroma drifting on the wind told me Leon was already back outside with his wetsuit half on…zip at the front. One out of one, here we go I thought. Soon there were children everywhere, hopping on one leg whilst straining, grunting, groaning, huffing and puffing to get their wetsuits on. Yesterday’s penalty king was having a particularly tough time trying to squeeze his right leg into the arm of the wetsuit.
“I thought it was a bit skinny” he said.
Alongside him, Riyad was complaining that his wetsuit was wet, Max had the zip at the front and Darcey, after winning a frantic 10-minute battle to get sea-ready, was advised by Siobhan “Darcey, your wetsuit is back to front.”
Wetsuits eventually on the right way for all 34, buoyancy aids added and adjusted, they headed off to jump into the waves. I settled into a suitable vantage point from the beachside café and listened in for the tell- tale signs of them having the time of their lives. It didn’t take long for the screams, squeals, whoops and laughter to start. Music to the ears, they were having a fabulous time. Either that or we had located a Sandown jellyfish looking for a spray of Joop Homme.
After 90 minutes of rip-roaring, wave-riding fun, the children started to retreat to the beachside changing rooms. Leon passed by and said “Kian (the lead instructor) said he and I are going to Hawaii to surf when we’re older.” Kian obviously knows something we don’t about the allure of Joop Homme in America’s 50th state. Sitting alongside Miss Hunter, she then informed me about a comment made by Edward which possibly points to him being an insider working secretly for the DfE. Apparently, he said to her “I know you work hard but It’s quite good being a teacher. I mean, you get to go on holidays to the Isle of Wight…and you even get paid.” Mr & Mrs Jackman need to check if he’s had any contact from Gillian Keegan, received any mysterious padded brown envelopes in the post this week or is on the DfE payroll as we’re likely to see him fronting the next major national recruitment drive for teachers in September.
As the 34 trickled back from the sea to the prom, all that were left in the waves were the real hard-core surfers. Congratulations therefore to Freya, Maya, Siobhan, Louie, Max, Pepper, Claudia and Beau for being Wight Water’s Official Hard Core Surf Crew 2023. By this time, the children were all getting changed. Mrs Capindale got the biscuits ready whilst I set up my annual E-Bay ‘Flash Sale’ page for lost property in the boys’ changing room. It’s always a great free money earner and there aren’t many of those available in the education system any more.
I headed over to the changing rooms to collect my bounty of clothing and accessories for sale where I found two boys who were standing in their towels and t-shirts staring vacantly at the walls.
“Boys, hurry up, put your shorts on and let’s go.” I said as I scooped unwanted items off the floor.
“Are these yours?“
“Where are your shorts? “
“Err, we’ve left in the room at the hotel” I was crestfallen but it happens every year. I should have known better than to think my pre-departure talk would change the course of history.
The goblin from the Lord of the Rings movie set in room 2 now has virtually a full brand-new outfit. He’s probably dancing around Mordor wearing his two new pairs of shorts, non-matching pair of Adidas sliders and Louie’s hat. He’ll be back to complete his wardrobe this evening no doubt.
Fortunately, as we stood there staring at each other, Jack J stepped in to partially resolve the dilemma.
“Nicholas, you can borrow my towelling poncho to walk back in” Jack kindly offered.
I left them to get sorted and headed outside to photograph my items for sale that included: 1 Nike bag, 1 drawstring bag, 1 pair of sunglasses, 1 large spray gun of Nivea Kids Factor 50, 2 pairs of swim shorts, 1 t-shirt, 1 water bottle and 1 surf shack cap. Not a bad return for 30 seconds’ work.
As I was celebrating my newly-acquired wealth, the door of the changing rooms flew open and a dark, hooded figure in an ankle-length robe strolled out. Somehow, we had picked up an escaped Benedictine monk from Quarr Abbey who sounded remarkably like Nicholas. The monk obviously felt quite at home with us as he immediately lined up for free Jammie Dodgers, a chocolate Rocky bar and a chocolate chip cookie. God bless him, I guess, as a monk, he doesn’t get out very often. Suitably refreshed, we walked back along the prom and up to the hotel for lunch.
I’ll end here for now but will be back soon with all the afternoon and evening action as we look to round off the last full day in style.
Good evening everyone, let’s rewind to the action after lunch…
We hopped on the coach and took the short drive to Shanklin Beach where the grand plan was to hold the 2023 sandcastle competition however, we were confronted by our first major issue of the week. The tide was in…a long way in, and the small areas of available sand had been commandeered by dozens of holidaying silver sunbathers. We didn’t think they would appreciate 34 whirling dervishes getting artistic with sand so we headed off to the shop. Needless to say, the shop manager’s eyes lit up like the Las Vegas strip when she saw us appear in the doorway. It was hot and Mrs Holt remarked that ‘the sun is shimmering, it’s like Las Vegas down here’. I could see where she was coming from. It had some similarity to Las Vegas…but without a population of Harris Hawks hunting as a pack.
We took a deep breath and gave the green light for the shopping spree to begin. This quickly turned into the usual mix of the 3 S’s…sugar, souvenirs & strange stuff. Flavoured rock was flying off the shelf along with sweets, ice-cream and chocolate. The staff were in constant circulation to extoll the virtues of “buying maybe one souvenir?” and this tactic began to have some success. By the time I emerged back into the sunshine 45 minutes later, the children were sitting cross-legged in the shade with their shopping spree spoils. Charlie was staring at his hoard of flavoured rock and looking very pleased with himself whilst Jacob was grinning like a Cheshire Cat as he’d found the bargain of the week. It was a large football on a stretchy wristband that he’d picked up for only £3. James was certainly impressed as he shot back into the shop to get one for himself.
Beau than very proudly said “Look what I bought” whilst dipping his hand slowly into his bag. It was a blue plastic multi-tool lobster. Keep reading, it’s not as odd as it sounds as it’s the perfect Dad gadget for summer BBQ’s and cocktail parties. Beau and I agreed that it could easily be used to pop ice cubes into a glass one minute then collect any spare golf balls from the range the next minute. It’s a winner all round…although the golf ball collection would probably have to be done on your knees. As Mrs Holt was leaving the shop, the manager praised the children’s manners, behaviour and maths skills. The compliments keep rolling in.
Following the ShopFest, Mrs Holt led the crocodile along the prom desperately seeking a sandy expanse to unleash our creativity. It wasn’t perfect but, we found a small area. Despite poor resources and unfavourable conditions, Florence, Mia, Maisy, Amy, Erin, William and Claudia created a magnificent sand dragon sculpture. Mrs Cala would have been very proud of them.
We then left the beach, got back on the coach and headed back to the hotel for dinner which was a veritable party food feast of burger, fries, doughnuts and ice-lollies. Safe to say it was all devoured.
Ok, I’m now typing in real time. The disco has kicked off and I’m trying to press the right keys whilst moving to Baggy Trousers by Madness. Mrs Capindale has just come down from room 6. There is no colour in her face.
“Oh dear, it looks like room 6 has been burgled” is all she can manage to say. Truth is, it’s been like that all week. This morning when I was stepping over a suspicious mound, I was attacked by what can only be described as a bear trap. Large jaw-like things sprung back towards my ankles when I accidentally trod on the mound. Investigations revealed a hidden hard-shell suitcase. I’ve been back to increase my insurance premiums this afternoon as I’ve got to be up there later this evening to begin operation pack up. That is not likely to be pretty.
Right, I’m off to help with the disco supervision so will return later this evening once we have got most things safely packed for the journey home.
I'm having all kinds of shenanigans this evening with the website which has crashed twice, moved some of my posts to strange places and lost others. I think it may be to do with the increasing number of alien lifeforms germinating in rooms 2 & 6. Please bear with me as I try to sort it out. Whilst I'm doing that, Year 6 are in the dance floor doing YMCA and now Sweet Caroline is up. The party is in full swing...although Mrs Holt informs me it is the last song. I need to start psyching myself up...room tidying is imminent. I'm off to put on my biohazard suit, steel shoes and protective goggles. See you later...where I will inform you of the progress made...
It is traditional on the final night of the trip to ask Year 6 to design their dream action-packed day in the Isle of Wight. This year I caught up with Erin, Mia, Theo, Maisy, Ruby, Jack J, Leah & Jacob to get their opinion. This is what they’ve planned:
9.00am Sea Sports with Wight Water
12.15pm Good Leaf Tree Climbing
2.45pm Robin Hill Park
6.45pm Mini Golf
8.30pm Ten Pin bowling
Wow, what a superb itinerary that is. They would be totally exhausted by the end of it so I’d expect they would be asleep by 10.31pm. It’s the IOW day of dreams for definite. It’s easy to see what Mrs Holt must keep in if there is a trip in 2024 😊
This is spectacular. We are virtually organised, tidied and mostly packed upstairs and down. Pepper reports that The Shed is tidy and the rainbow shoes are safely packed away. Leah has added that the floor is all tidy…but then again, I think it’s been that way all week. According to Siobhan, room 1 is good and smells nice. I suspect they’ve got some Joop Femme in there…if that actually exists.
This is even more spectacular than spectacular…and rarer than a sighting of the abominable snowman. Up in room 6, Mrs Holt has discovered a previously unknown species called ‘Year 6 boy with incredible clothes folding and suitcase packing skills.’ I’ve never seen anything like it in my 27 residential trips. Tito must be moonlighting at weekends in an exclusive clothing boutique on the Kings Road. If you’re going away on holiday this summer, get him booked in to sort your suitcase out…you won’t need to iron anything when you get to your hotel 😊
As we reflect on the week, there have been many highlights, many hilarious moments and a lot of hard work. Mrs Holt has led the trip in her usual calm, efficient, inspirational style, very ably supported by Mrs Capindale, Miss Hunter and Miss Forsyth. We are blessed to have them all in our team and they have guaranteed that your children have been safe and happy all week. They should have special memories that will last a lifetime. If they struggle to remember in future years, Mrs Holt has currently taken 1,158 photos on her camera whilst Miss Hunter has got all her wires crossed with the steps for the day total and apparently taken 15,118 photos on the I-pad and walked around 499 steps. It’s been a long week. Operating on around 4-5 hours sleep per night can do that to you. If all that fails, there is always my inane ramblings to try to make sense of. If you don’t have crossed wires when you start, you’re almost certain to have them by the end.
Before they went to bed, we spoke to all the children about living in the moment and always being grateful for the blessings God bestows upon us. Not all children have the opportunity to experience something like this trip and not all children have parents who are so willing to make the experience a reality. Thank you for supporting us in making IOW 2023 work. It is our hope that the children show their gratitude to you when they return home.
A key component to a Year 6 residential is allowing them the time to understand more clearly who they are and how to interact with others to ensure they are happy, safe and making the world a better place by their mere presence. All week we have reminded them about being selfless rather than selfish, about being respectful rather than dismissive, about being understanding rather than entitled and to take notice of what is happening around them. We have seen them grow in self-assurance, gain independence and overcome personal obstacles. It’s been a good week.
And so, as we meander towards the end of the final full day on the island, it is almost time to wrap up the story for today from the red leather sofa in the lounge. Tomorrow morning, we are heading to Sandown Beach to do some fossil hunting with a man with a little hammer and a brain full of fossil facts. I’m hoping we find some. If not, we can always pop in to the FA Headquarters in Lancaster Gate on the way back…we’re guaranteed to find plenty of fossils in there.
With only one hour of World Ocean Day left, I’ll leave you with this little joke that Oskar told me on Sandown Beach this morning. He’s been asking me all day “Is my joke in the blog yet?” so here it is:
How do fish keep healthy?
They take Vitamin Sea supplements. Boom boom. You can have that one for free to sue this weekend, courtesy of Oskar.
Tomorrow, I will be recording all the action in the green exercise book and will then somehow get it typed and uploaded by the evening so the blog is brought to a satisfactory conclusion. It’s not much use reading a bizarre story if there is no ending.
For the final time for 2023, it’s goodnight and lots of love from all the staff here in the lounge at The Wighthill Hotel in Sandown.
Sleep well everyone.
The Blog Bloke