Thursday 9th June
This is THE place for all the Thursday action, comments and funny quotes...
7.00am - Good morning everyone. It's me, The Blog Bloke back on the same sofa in Sandown. I'm looking out of the window...it doesn't look quite like it has done for the rest of the week. We have overcast skies this morning and the colourful hanging baskets are swaying a little more in the breeze. I don't think it's going to be as warm today but then again you never quite can tell in the unique micro climate over here on the island. It is deafeningly silent in the hotel this morning - either everyone is still fast asleep or they've all gone out without me. At least I know they haven't gone far or gone home as the coach is parked on the drive.
Overnight I have been reflecting on the winners of the sand sculpture competition...which has left me feeling very excited and immensely grateful. I've been thinking of the very simple rules to the competition..."It must be made out of sand and represent your week in the IOW. Now, just as we've not yet come across Mt Olympus over here, we've also had no interaction with a Lamborghini/F1 car which leads me to only one possible conclusion...the parents of Harry O, Brendan, Oliver, Daniel and Vincent have obviously clubbed together and bought me one as a surprise thank you gift. The boys are clearly in on it and couldn't contain their excitement any longer...so have revealed the secret in the form of sand. It's a very humbling gesture which I will repay by offering photo shots with the car at the Summer Fete...that should bring in a few quid for the school :-)
Last night, Gracie, Inuki and April all said they couldn't believe how quickly the week is flying by. "We've only got 1 day left" was the general consensus. Time flies when you are enjoying things and your children are certainly doing that. They are growing and maturing with each passing hour and have been incredibly supportive of each other. Today they will have yet another fabulous day of activities with a bit of retail frenzy thrown in for good measure. Due to the newly installed Wifi at Shanklin Theatre, I should be able to post live during the morning - there are always some cracking lines delivered during interaction with the actors over there so it has the potential to be quite funny. This evening we have the much anticipated disco/party night which no doubt will feature whirling arms, glow sticks and Mrs Holt being dragged across the dance floor by her feet. Again I should be able to keep you all up to date with a live feed on the proceedings as they occur.
Right, it's only 35 minutes until breakfast and there is not a single sign of life on ground zero. I'm heading off on a reconnaissance mission into hostile territory...otherwise known as Rooms 8 & 10. I have my breathing apparatus, bio-chemical suit and flame thrower with me so am relatively well kitted out for any dangers which may come my way. As Captain Oates said to Captain Scott in the Antarctic..."'I'm just going out for a while..."
Wish me luck...I'll be back...I hope.
7.45pm - I know you will have been worrying about my dangerous mission so decided to put your minds at ease before breakfast. There is life on the ground floor but only just...waking them up this morning was a little more difficult. I dealt with Room 8 first before carefully moving into Room 10, supported by the SAS. It went something like this..
Mr T: Morning boys...it's your morning call from the bomb disposal team."
I then looked down at the floor...too late I'm afraid. Clearly some sort of device has detonated over night as there is a spectacular array of clothing and other objects scattered randomly about the room. Interestingly enough, the boys are in a sort of scattered array on the bunks. There are limbs protruding from a central duvet lump and no-one seems to be where I thought they were...apart from Harry O and Josh who continue to steadfastly occupy the same bunks where they started life on Monday. Toby appears to be creeping ever closer to the door; I think he is making a quiet escape bid...it's like a scene from 'The Great Escape'...I 'd best check for a tunnel. It will be interesting to see if he's wearing long trousers today and discretely getting rid of handfuls of sand as he walks. Even Harry O has noticed it - appearing from beneath his duvet lump, his first words of the day were "Are you planning on sleeping in the bathroom next Toby?" Maybe that's where the tunnel is? It would make sense...after all, there's absolutely no chance I'm going in there to check for one...bio-chemical suit or not!
The ladies have arrived downstairs from their Alpine cabins. Mrs Capindale and Mrs O'Connor are organising the HFS Bank which makes for quite amusing viewing as I type. One of the boys has just stuck his head out of the room. "Mrs O'Connor, what do we have to wear? he enquired. "Clothes please" came the reply. They don't get that sort of question up on the lush green hillside...the girls appear to have mastered the concept of wardrobes...I suppose if you've got a bandana shelf and a hairbrush drawer then getting dressed must be second nature by now. The girls are appearing..the entire inhabitants of Room 2 have arrived led by Siobhan. "How are we feeling this morning girls?" I enquired casually. "Fine, absolutely great...not really" Leila replied in a very sleep-filled voice. They're quiet this morning but never fear...breakfast is only 5 minutes away. Once they're refuelled, it will be game on again :-) Oh, breakfast is ready. We're short on numbers in the lounge...only 7 girls and 2 boys are here so let's look on the bright side...there could be plenty of spare sausage, eggs and beans around for the rest of us :-)
8.50am - Ok everyone, breakfast is over and it's a hive of activity here in the lounge as the bank is open for business. We've had a motivational pre-shopping pep talk from Mrs Holt so I'm hoping her words have struck a chord and one or two of the boys end up purchasing a souvenir or two. During the talk I decided to get the cable car up the mountain to check out the latest situation in the land of The Von Trapps.Quite frankly I wish I hadn't bothered. Entering Room 8 & 10 is bad enough for one's physical and mental health at the best of times but up there puts it all onto a different planet. I went into Room 4, home of the bandana crew. There are 4 girls in there and I counted 21 pairs of shoes...and they're all perfectly aligned in a smart row by the wall. In Room 10 on ground zero there are 8 boys and I've not seen a single pair of shoes yet...lots of single shoes but no pairs. I can see the carpet in Room 4, I suffered no lacerations to the lower limbs and, despite the altitude, there was no need for any breathing apparatus. Room 3 was pretty similar - it's all so organised up there; they are using the wardrobe for its intended purpose and everything is colour co-ordinated...different world. Wait a minute...4 girls, 21 pairs of shoes...my maths brain has just kicked in...that's 5 and quarter pairs per girl...are they really wearing a different pair of shoes every day?
Back down on ground zero, things were as disorganised as ever. Max had lost his hat, a monster had eaten a single sock and a single shoe in Room 8 and Brendan was completely disowning anything to do with the carnage in Room 10. He said "Mr Tindall, Room 10 is very messy...but none of it is mine"
"But some of it must be yours Brendan...you're part of it" I replied.
"No it's not, because all my stuff is in the wardrobe" he said. There are 8 boys in the war zone that is Room 10. One is using the wardrobe (although not bothering with hangers or shelves) and seven are using the floor...you get the picture of destruction in there I'm sure.
9.40am - I am now sitting in the theatre at Shanklin and Dom and Amy (2 of the stars of the show on Tuesday) are taking the children through their paces. They will be singing, dancing and narrating their own mini show as well as having a back stage tour of the theatre. It's all exciting stuff.
STOP PRESS: Correction to an earlier post which was a case of msitaken identity - my apologies to Max, it is Sam who has misplaced his hat. This fact has just dawned on me as I'm watching them dancing on stage and Max is dancing in his hat :-)
Up on the stage the wise cracks are flowing...
Dom: "Right, I need a volunteer"
Year 6: "Me, me, me, me"
Dom: "Great, those toilets need to be cleaned"
The volunteers are actually 8 children to do the singing. We've got two groups of 4 flanking the left and right sides of the stage. It's Jaimie, Libby, Isabella & Eloise stage right with Conor, hatless Sam, Adam and Harry Y stage left. The rest are being moulded into a dance troupe by Amy...they're doing very well, they look good already. We've now got 8 narrators organised: it's Eleonora, Siobhan, Lottie, April, Alex, Jake, Jack and Harry O. Amy is explaining how different microphones work, running through a sound check and explaining how the sound desk works. We've just had some great fun with the funny sound effects on the mics and now it's panto Dame time...I wonder who will volunteer for this special role. Drum roll...it's Mr Camberwick Green himself who is about to be transformed into 'Dame Tobylina'. Now this is a very interesting development to the Great Escape plan I alluded to earlier...Toby is going deep undercover...he's obviously more desperate to get out of Room 10 than I thought :-) The fake eyebrows are being painted on...he's beginning to wonder whether it was a good idea after all "Err, does this actually come off?" he's just asked. The lipstick is on..and now it's time for the dress...and obligatory panto dame underwear. Mrs O'Connor is capturing everything on camera...one for the Chukwu mantlepiece I think :-)
11.15am -the Q&A session with Dom has just ended. Here are just a sample of what was going on up on the stage:
"Why is the stage sloped?" "Why are there so many curtains?" "Who writes all the plays?" and a real crackerjack...
"How do you control that bucket up in the ceiling?"
Dom: "Err, that's actually not a prop...it's up there because we sometimes have a leak in the roof!"
5.55pm Good evening all, we are just in from surfing with Wight Water. It's only 5 minutes until dinner which is fish and chips...back of the net! I will be back after the banquet to update you all on the events of this afternoon...it's been an interesting one...and the sun shone yet again!
See you soon folks!
7.10pm - I'm back...the fish and chips were delicious. Right, where was I? Let's rewind to events following the theatre workshop this morning...
...We left the theatre to begin the shopping spree. On the way to the Rock Shop for more sugar-induced madness, Adam pointed excitedly at another shop... an IOW fashion emporium had caught his eye. "Woah, look at all those bags...Mrs O'Neil would love it in there...Mrs O'Neil has got so many bags. Daniel, don't you think Mrs O'Neil would go in there and buy a bag?"
Daniel: "Yeah, definitely...and some high heels...she's got lots of those too".
As we passed the window I glanced inside...there were plenty of labels but none saying Anya Hindmarch, Mulberry or Michael Kors so I expect Mrs O'Neil would have given it a miss :-)
The Rock Shop was predictably manic although I must commend the children on their beautiful manners and maturity in there. Several holidaymakers certainly did praise them which should make us all very proud. The boys, as always, were on a dynamic spending spree but they were joined this time by the girls filling their boots with rock, fudge, flying saucers, sandwich-shaped marshmallows and all manner of sugary dynamite. We left the shop as quickly as we could and headed down to the shops on Shanklin Beach before heading back to the hotel to grab our lunch and get changed for surfing.
We were soon on the move again, this time heading for Wight Water surfing fun on Sandown Beach. On the walk down there I became engaged in a fascinating conversation initiated by Brendan about the strategies available for killing weeds. According to our resident horticulturalist, there are 3 options available to any frustrated gardener. the option you choose will depend, apparently, on how quickly you wish to get rid of them. For a slow elimination of stubborn weeds, go for pellets. If you want something a bit swifter, buy a liquid weedkiller and, if you want them dead the moment you step into the garden, he recommends using a flame thrower! We have plenty of weeds in the Millennium Garden at school...I might just let Brendan loose next week if I can get appropriate health & safety clearance organised in time. Mr Gorman can order the flame thrower...he'll find one on EBay I'm sure. If he's out there next week I suggest you stand well back...unless you want your eyebrows singed :-)
We had a very quick picnic lunch sitting on the beach wall in the sun then strolled up to Wight Water. Scott, Jaz and Rob were leading the session and started with a very clear set of simple instructions:
"This is a wetsuit, it will be inside out when you get it so turn it the right way out."
"The zip goes at the back...where does the zip go?" "At the back!"
"This is a buoyancy aid and it fastens like this. Does everyone understand?" "Yes!!"
"The changing rooms are there (to the left), the wetsuits are there (straight on), you put your bags there (to the right). Is everyone clear?" "Yes!!"
Now, this class are great at many things and are always a pleasure to be out and about with however listening to, processing and acting upon instructions is not exactly their strongest suit. I waited with baited breath for everything to go wrong. Predictably the confusion arrived almost immediately. Children headed to the right for the changing rooms, wetsuits were left inside out, zips were at the front and buoyancy aids were left uncollected. It hardly made for the most sparkling start although things improved markedly once they were in the water. We really did have some brilliant bodyboarders riding the waves...as well as a visiting mermaid who joined midway through; I was looking out at all the heads bobbing up and down in the surf when the mythical and mystical siren of the sea emerged. She was glistening in the sunshine and her long curly tendrils of hair hung over her shoulder. I looked again...it was Elsie...with seaweed draped stylishly over her head :-)
Bobbing on the waves much further out to sea was a black buoy. It was pointed out initially by Gracie who thought it was a dolphin so the instructors explained what it was with the correct spelling given by way of avoiding any confusion...although it didn't quite work for these two:
Scott: It's spelled b-u-o-y"
Boy 1: (in all seriousness) "That boy shouldn't be swimming that far from the shore, it's not safe"
I was chuckling away to myself when another joined in:
Boy 2: "Yes, but he may be trying to swim back to England!"
It's classic stuff...you simply couldn't make this up. (Note: I actually can't remember who these 2 were...so much has happened today).
7.50pm - I'm sitting in the lounge, back on the sofa and the disco is in full swing. Currently it seems to consist of lots of thumping music...and lots of children sitting on the sofas with me! I've got Sam, Vincent, Max, Jake, Brendan, Daniel and Adam...oh, wait a minute, over on the other sofa I see Conor, Jack and Alex...is this really the role of the modern boy in a modern disco? In my day we'd at least be spinning around on the floor or throwing some shapes with an air guitar. Mrs Holt has arrived and is circling the room whispering in ears...she appears to be working her motivational magic on the boys. I expect she is saying "Don't worry boys, it will all start hotting up when Mrs O'Connor and I start twirling the glow sticks...did you realise I'm a clubercise guru?"
Oh, wait a minute...cries of "Mrs Holt, Mrs Holt" are ringing around the lounge. Mrs O'Connor appears to be cheerleader-in-chief. Our Year 6 teacher is displaying some of her 1980's dance moves honed on the floors of dance clubs in East Manchester. It's only a matter of time before she gets into full Hacienda mode and starts getting dragged around by her feet :-)
Right, I'm going to sign off for a short while but will be back with live updates from the disco soon. Tune in later for more inane ramblings :-)
8.30pm - It's officially half time at the disco. Eleonora reliably informs me 'this is like the theatre'. It's all new to me...in my day there was no half time when the air guitars were at full throttle :-)
Half time snacks and drinks are being consumed with great enthusiasm. Although the snacks are very tasty, this has just reminded me of the hideous sweets that were going around on the walk back from surfing this afternoon. If you've never heard of these things then consider yourself very fortunate. Not surprisingly they were puchased by one A. Boyle, occupant of the war zone that is Room 10. The sweets are called 'Bean Boozled' and the box includes flavours such as 'stinky socks', 'lawn clippings', 'rotten egg', 'canned dog food' and 'vomit'. It's a truly hideous concept. Mind you, we coud always write to the manufacturers and suggest a new flavour.called, quite simply 'Room 10' :-)
The second half of the disco has kicked off and we're now in a conga kind of mood. Orang utan has arrived in his best party outfit of a stripey top and white shorts. He looks pretty cool...but this is not surprising as his wardrobe has been co-ordinated by members of The Von Trapps from upstairs(Elsie and Federica I believe). Mrs Holt is in full flow with her rendition of 'the running man dance'...it's surely only a matter of time before the roof comes off.
Later tonight we will begin to pack bags for the return journey tomorrow. In the case of the boys, we will first need to track down and locate all items of clothes whilst avoiding all manner of booby traps so I have arranged for a team of bloodhounds, bomb squad dogs and the finest Navajo trackers to join us. I will be back at some point before midnight...well before midnight I hope!
9.45pm -The disco has concluded and Mrs Holt has set a challenge - they have 30 minutes to pack their bags and tidy the rooms. The chances of that happening down here on the ground floor are somewhere between no chance and impossible...it will take them 30 minutes to decide where to start. I've just popped into Room 10 where the following snapshot was taken of me (please go to www.EdwardMunch.com and search 'scream'). The tracker crew and bloodhounds have arrived. I'm suited up, breathing apparatus is on and I'm going back in...
STOP PRESS...I've just seen Lord Lucan crawling out from beneath a festering mound in Room 10. He has escaped out of the window whilst riding Shergar. The boys are standing in the only 8 debris-free spots in the whole room...they are not doing much packing....it must be the shock :-)
STOP PRESS 2...live commentary from Room 10...
Mr T: "Come on boys, let's get all this mess in the bin"
Conor: "Where is the bin? I didn't realise we had one"
On the floor is another festering mound. There is steam drifting upward from it in a somewhat spooky fashion; it looks like a scene from Macbeth. I considered reaching down and dealing with it but was uncertain what I may disturb beneath. The mound is largely grey in colour - for all I know there could be a small family of wolves living there waiting to pounce. The 'packing' was derailed somewhat due to clever tactics from the boys as they drew me in to a conversation about football. I fell for it...I must be tired...or maybe I was just too scared of the thought of meeting those wolves.
10.25pm - I'm just out of Room 10 where, for the last 15 minutes, I've been taking part in a rather dark version of The Generation Game conveyor belt."And on the Room 10 floor tonight we have a brown paper bag, a pencil, 12 sweet wrappers, 7 single socks, a luggage tag, one pair of Next shorts, 2 deadly pieces of plastic, a tube of toothpaste, a battery, a 1p coin, a festering mess and a wet towel". I'm thankful that I'm out alive and can deliver my end of trip speech to the children in the next 30 minutes or so.
I will make one final post later tonight..once they are all settled and asleep.
11.30pm - Midnight is fast approaching and thankfully everyone is in bed...although all are not quite asleep yet. Mrs O'Connor is recounting a hilarious tale of an incident at Robin Hill on Wednesday when she and Mrs Capindale took a small group of children on a little train ride. As Mrs Capindale boarded the carriage to sit next to Mrs O'Connor, the driver apparently said "Would you mind not sitting there...please sit on the other side, I don't want the train to tip over." I can just imagine the headlines in the IOW Times...'Legendary TA trapped under Toy Train.' This was all done, apparently, to the backdrop of the theme tune to Rawhide on a constant loop. I'm just devastated I wasn't there to witness it in the flesh :-)
I really wish I'd been there...apparently there were seat belts in the train...which was travelling at approximately 3mph...and were far too small to fit around anyone larger than a borrower...rolling, rolling, rolling.
The week is now drawing to a close. It has been a fabulous trip blessed with the best week of weather I can ever remember in the Isle of Wight. We have not seen a single drop of rain and the sun has shone continuously. Your children have been a credit to the school and received widespread praise wherever we've gone. They have challenged themselves and tackled their fears with courage and determination - it has been heart-warming to witness. As always, my fabulous staff colleagues have looked after the children impeccably and it has been a privilege to share this week in their company. Teamwork and humour characterise the Holy Family staffroom and on occasions like this week, it always rises an extra level. We hope the hard work that has gone into organising and running this trip has provided your children with memories to last a lifetime and new qualities to ensure they make the most of every opportunity that comes their way.
I'm going to sign off now for tonight as I think my sides may soon split...the tipping train saga has really got to me. Apparently there's one extra bit...at the end of the ride Mrs Capindale asked if they could have another go and drive the train this time. There was no-one else on the ride...the man said "Well, I suppose you could, but you will have to get off and go back round to queue again." Mrs Holt and I only let them loose for 5 minutes with 4 children and they nearly caused an obsessive man on a toy train to have a nervous breakdown :-)
Right. that's it for today...I think. If you have made it this far and have stayed with the story all week you deserve a medal. Until tomorrow it's over and out from The Blog Bloke and much love from everyone here in Sandown.