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Tuesday 2nd June

 6.45am 'Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore...'

Good morning everyone, here we are again on day 2 of the great trip adventure...although sadly I have to report that the 'good' should really be removed from that statement. Looking out of the window it is impossible to believe that it is June; I need to check with Mrs Holt later that we have actually done the SAT's and this is not some strange dream. My proud 7 year no rain in the Isle of Wight record will literally be blown away today unless a miracle occurs in the next two hours.

I'm now just going to post this to the website to make sure there are no technical gremlins then I will proceed. Back soon...

7.00am Ok, fabulous, at least that appears to have worked without a hitch. I'm sitting in the lounge which is at least peaceful. With breakfast at 8.30am you may be wondering why I'm not still fast asleep - that was certainly the plan but the tooth fairy obviously made too much noise when she visited Room 7 last night as they were all wide awake at 6am. With an adjoining wall to yours truly in Room 9, I was awake at 6.01am...that was definitely not in the script but I guess this is often the way on a Year 6 residential. Upstairs all sounds serene...I expect they are all up there snoozing in a beautifully aligned soft manner in The Winter Gardens ballroom :-) Just in case any of you are wondering, our 2 lost teeth in Room 7 occured in totally unrelated incidents..there was no Isle of Wight midnight punch up or anything like that but both Benson and William are now full set minus one.

The  revised plan for today sees us visiting Monkey Haven  this morning although I cannot see any monkey in their right mind coming out of their little monkey house today. The gibbons we saw last year were totally crazy but I expect even they will be peering outside at the wind this morning and saying 'No way'...or whatever a gibbon says when it stares down the eye of a tornado. I can now hear the occupants of Room 7 organising their shower rota which is an impressive concept from the boys...although I'm not sure it needs to be broadcast to the rest of the island...I think I need to have a word about them adjusting the volume buttons in there. Room 8 are totally silent...they are either away through the wardrobe exploring Narnia or they are not morning people...the fact that they were still talking after midnight may have something to do with that.

This afternoon we are visiting Osborne House, the island home of England''s Victorian queen...which means Mrs Osborn can finally see her ancestral home at first hand :-) Speaking of Mrs Osborn, she appears to have done very well with the room allocation up on the half-landing. According to Mrs O'Connor, Mrs Osborn has a very spacious room which I guess is appropriate...perhaps we can name it 'Osborn House' and turn it into a visitor attraction? Mrs Holt has now appeared downstairs, taken one look out of the lounge window, groaned about it 'being like December' and left again. I'm now seriously worried that we may not have finished the SAT's and I am in some sort of strange dream...I'm just off to place to start is surely in Narnia. More ramblings later...

7.45am Everyone now appears to be awakening from their slumbers, the day is truly beginning. In Room 8 they are struggling to work the shower. Lucas appears to be giving the loudest advice in there which I'm taking as a definite least he's not looking for a snack. Oh, they've now given up and have sent for reinforcements...Mrs Holt is on her way to show them how to turn the shower on. They've got 2 Rambo lookalikes, 3 wandering around in Chertsey Blues hoodies and a crocodile in there and they still need their teacher...this is slightly concerning for 6 boys who have installed themselves as favourites to win the tidiest room competition. I can hear some heavy footsteps coming from upstairs. As I'm sitting directly below Room 3  I am assuming they're doing the quickstep up in the ballroom. They've got the paparazzi pair in Room 3 so I expect they're snapping away at each other snapping away to capture all the action :-) Ok, it's only half hour until breakfast which is beginning to smell very tasty. All the children pre-ordered their gourmet delights last night and there is an impressive choice on offer. As the smell of bacon is beginning to waft gently out of the kitchen I have just realised I am in mortal danger. I'm sitting on a chair directly outside Room's only a matter of time before Lucas catches the delicious aroma and bursts out looking for a snack. I'm getting out of the way...more news later!

Hope you are all enjoying the story so far...who knows what is coming next!

4.55pm Good afternoon everyone...and it certainly is good. The skies have cleared and the summer has returned in style. Game on! All we need now is for the wind to drop to an acceptable level and we're in business. We've had a fabulous day, we hardly got very wet at all and we've just returned for evening meal which is in 5 minutes. I will post a more detailed report of the day asap. For now, it's time to get ready for spaghetti bolognese :-)

6.05pm Ok folks, dinner, which was delicious, is done so let's quickly rewind back to this morning...

...oh no, technical hitch and we're about to go to the theatre. I will be back asap with all the highlights of the day. Keep checking's worth the wait :-)

Ok...partial success so a little morsel to keep you all going until later...

With the boys organised and ready for breakfast, I decided to head upstairs on a reconnaissance mission to check out to tidiest room competitors. It’s a different world up there; firstly I bumped into Mrs Capindale’s mobile hair plaiting salon set up on the landing then in Room 3 I was confronted not only with military precision organisation but the girls had also dressed in colour co-ordinated pink oufits. It was like a scene out of a designer catalogue and they were looking decidedly pleased with themselves. My face must have said it all as Sophia invited me to “look in the wardrobe, it’s very tidy in there”. I chose not to take up this invitation…breaking the colour co-ordinated news to the boys would come as enough of a shock to them without making things worse. To lift my spirits I decided to head into the carnage that is Room 2…where my shock took on unprecedented levels. I couldn’t have been more shocked if the room had been full of ghosts wearing metal trousers and plugged directly into the national grid. The tooth fairy may have visited Room 7 last night but an army of tidy fairies had clearly swept through Room 2. They have upped their game…Room 2 mean business. Hats off to Ella, Joey, Ellie, Philippa &Alex and their secret team of fairies. By this point I had adopted the ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ mentality so called in on Room 4. Impressively tidy in there but this paled into insignificance when compared to the array of cosmetics, fragrances and designer wash bags stylishly displayed on top of the drawers. These are clearly the style gurus…even the toy fluffy rabbit was sitting with poise and elegance on the pillow. This is clearly a massive mission for the boys to accomplish.


Stop Press…Erika arrived at breakfast and is storming away with the best slippers award. Her terrific fluffy grizzly bears (I think that’s what they are) are awesome :-)

Stop Press 2 – After events on HMS Victory yesterday, I can confidently declare that I have found the cat in the bag that one of the boys was looking for. Ella approached me in the lounge looking clearly stressed. “I’ve lost my money from yesterday” she said. “Ok, don’t panic, where was it?” I asked. “In a cat purse inside my bag”. I delved into the front section of the bag and my hand soon came across the cat purse. A broad smile lit up Ella’s face. I knew we’d figure out the mystery of the cat in the bag question from yesterday, I just didn’t realise we’d get there so soon. The cat is in the bag :-)

9.45am…we’re out and on the way to Monkey Haven. It’s windy but the rain has eased…whoo hoo, it’s June 2nd and it’s not bucketing down. We are a little concerned that the monkeys may be hiding away today but I guess we are about to find out as we are now pulling into the car park…

12.00pm…we have finished with the monkeys and I can now rewind to 9.45am to continue the story…

“Oh look, they’re out and swinging around!” Mrs Capindale excitedly exclaimed. We all turned as one in the general direction of her pointing finger. “Oh, no wait a minute, I think it may be a flag” she quickly added. It wasn’t a was the newly discovered ‘giant yellow frayed rope monkey’ hanging from the top of the cage. I headed straight into the shop to buy a guide book on monkeys for Mrs Capindale then straight onto the phone to the Natural History Museum and the BBC to inform them I was the agent for David Attenborough’s natural successor.  Inside we were met by our guide Lizzie who proceeded to give us an excellent tour of the different enclosures. First stop was Oleg and Sergei in the meerkat zone then the capuchins and the sensational gibbons…who sounded just like Room 7 at 6am this morning. Needless to say I found the noise of the gibbons more amusing than Room 7 at 6am. Following the gibbons we visited the black and white colobus. Apparently they have no thumbs…which may explain why you never see one trying to hitch a lift up the M6 J Final stop on the apes trail were the rhesus macaques. Their enclosure was a real flurry of action, charging around, two-footed kangaroo-style bouncing and rolling around in a bundle on the ground whilst displaying strange facial grimaces…all quite reminiscent of an average day on the KS1 playground :-)


With the monkey entertainment over, we went off to meet Gustavo the boa constrictor. Although technically a boa is not a species of monkey or ape, nevertheless he looked quite at home as he was taken out of his glass case. First up to handle Gustavo was Angelica followed by Monique, Erika, Daniel and Calvin. “Will it bite?” Conor asked nervously as he got to the front of the line. Despite being reminded that it was a constrictor, he clearly wasn’t overly convinced but managed a nervous smile for the paparazzi all the same. At the back of the line Joey simply strolled up as cool as ever, looked Gus in the eye and struck her pose. Typically stylish I felt.  “Any questions?” Lizzie asked. “Why doesn’t it kill us?” Conor enquired. “He’s probably left his guns and bullets back in the glass case” I whispered. Conor clearly wasn’t overly enamoured with young Gustavo…just as well Scrumply the Mancunian snake wasn’t around this year…he was twice the size.

“Any more questions?” Lizzie continued.

“How fast can he move?”

“Very fast, especially when he’s after food”

“Is he faster than Usain Bolt?”

“No, probably not”

I’m not sure about that but one thing is for certain…if a fully grown boa constrictor was coming my way, neither it or Usain Bolt would be as fast as me…guns or no guns :-)

As we were about to leave the reptile house I noticed a waxy monkey frog sitting on a log in its glass case. It was rather odd and bore a striking resemblance to a green Boris Johnson…without the hair. After a visit to the shop (where Mrs Holt bought a giant orang utan puppet for The Space that will be perfect for Kensuke’s Kingdom), several children bought smaller cuddly creatures and Lucas treated himself to some rock, we boarded the coach and headed for Osborne House. At least it meant there would be no snack search imminent :-)

First action at Osborne House was lunch – priorities right again. The man on the desk got on the phone to announce our arrival. “It’s the Holy Room School booked in for lunch” he said. We were then marched up several flights of stairs to an upper room…all very Pentecost-like I noted. It was without doubt the most stylish school lunch room I’ve ever been in…albeit there was no sign of a rubbish bin in there. The house itself was extremely busy with visitors, many of whom I’m sure had opted for an indoor sightseeing day to avoid the hurricane winds. As always, the children behaved impeccably and were very interested in the artefacts and history of Queen Victoria and her love for Osborne House. Particular mention here needs to go to Mary, Emilia and Daniel who were all picked out by group leaders as being particularly engaged throughout the visit. We also received 3 very complimentary comments from members of the public which was lovely to hear. Your children did you proud in there :-)


After leaving the house we enjoyed a brisk march down to the Swiss Cottage which is wooden and very brown. As we were approaching I heard Philippa say “Oh, I thought it would be yellow” followed by Venere who added “Yes, I really never expected it would be purple.” I know the light conditions were changing rapidly at the time but the Swiss Cottage is definitely dark brown. Oh, and as a slightly random addition, apparently we have a dad who is allergic to aubergines…I wonder if that’s the purple or brown variety J This morning Mrs Holt informed me, via the medium of the I-phone that it would be brighter by 3pm. This fact jumped back into my head as a shaft of sunlight suddenly appeared. I checked my watch…3.12pm. Not bad at all…Mrs Holt is now transforming into some sort of soothsayer for weather. Inside the Swiss Cottage the children were having a great time interacting with all the fun exhibits. Joseph and Sam had donned red jackets and busby hats and were clearly holding an audition for Trumpton although this quickly changed into an audition for Camberwick Green as William, Jacques, Joe and Akindu shuffled into the room in matching uniforms. William and Jacques were clearly fairly chuffed with themselves as they then spent the next 5 minutes admiring how smart they looked in the mirror. Following all this excitement, we moved onto the house of antiquities and strange objects which contains all sorts of weird and wonderful things collected from around the world by Prince Albert. “What sort of things are in there?” Amit asked. Walking towards the window of the small museum I pointed and said “Well, there’s a 5 legged deer, a 9 legged spider and that strange looking thing.” Peering out through the glass was a very strange looking being indeed…or maybe it was actually a humanoid wearing a Chelsea tracksuit :-)

Inside the museum there was a mixture of facial contortions and comments as the children cast their eyes over the strange collection. Staring at a very powerful looking white-tailed eagle, Venere asked “Could that eagle kill you?”

“Only if it gets out of that glass case” I replied with a mischievous grin. Venere thought about that for a moment before grinning back and moving slightly nervously away. With time rapidly running out, we left the strange artefacts and creatures behind and walked back for the coach. On the way back to the hotel Mrs Holt was talking to her new orang utan and it apparently was talking back to her. I was slightly concerned… in June I could normally have put this down to ‘too much sun’ but there was certainly no sun today. I clearly need to keep monitoring this development…Mrs Holt’s talents evidently hold no boundaries. We arrived back at the hotel just in time for dinner which just about brings the day up to date.


Stop Press…I am beginning to become suspicious about Room 3. They are good…they are very good…and I’m convinced they are a gang of highly trained undercover spies. The evidence is stacking up. Their room is meticulously tidy and amazingly organised. They are sharp, they move about without being noticed and they are quietly efficient…they are blending into the background (even though they chose to wear matching bright pink outfits today) but they are clearly missing nothing AND they have, within their midst, someone sporting an amazing pair of techno specs. This is where my suspicions have been truly alerted. I could partially understand it yesterday but Mary was wearing those sunglasses today…and it was drizzling most of the morning. They can take photos and, I was informed, ‘do other stuff’ I’m not altogether sure what this ‘other stuff’ is yet but I’m sure you can appreciate where I’m coming from. Boys winning a tidiest room competition is virtually unheard of at the best of times but when you are up against The Pink Panther Crew it becomes something close to Mission Impossible. For all know, those glasses could be trawling the internet, moving money from secret accounts in the Cayman Islands, summoning room-tidying fairies and causing boys’ teeth to randomly fall out. And they’ve got the paparazzi pair in there as well. They’re probably beaming their photos instantly through satellites orbiting Earth via Mary’s magic techno specs. My goodness the techno specs could even be controlling the weather…maybe Mrs Holt is in on it…maybe that’s why her suitcase was so heavy yesterday? This is serious. I’m going to have to break this news to the boys at some point although I’m worried it may break their spirit. Instead I will use it to my cunning advantage and tell them that unless they get plenty of sleep for the rest of the week, we’ve got no chance of winning. That may ensure that I get to use my alarm tomorrow. In the meantime, Mary, Sophia, Saskia, Megan, Angelica and Monique will need to be carefully monitored.

7.25pm Hello again, I’m now sitting at the back of The Shanklin Theatre during the interval of the show. The place is full of excitable children making a noise…it is not unlike the gibbon enclosure this morning. From here I’ve got a decent vantage point for the second half of the show. I can see our children right in the middle of the theatre. I can watch the dancing. I will back soon…

7.45pm Well, in keeping with the storyteller last night, the play is all about pirates and features plenty of well-known catchy songs and dance routines. The children are having a ball so I expect the theatre workshop with the actors on Thursday morning will be a cracking visit. I’m back in the vestibule where I spent the first half of the show. Outside the weather is brightening a little again. Mrs Holt has a walk to the beach planned for after the show. That could be interesting…it will certainly blow any remaining cobwebs away. If the techno specs appear again, I feel my suspicions will undoubtedly be confirmed. More news to follow later…

9.30pm Good evening everyone, I'm back because we are back...from a bracing half hour charge around on Sandown Beach. After the fun of the theatre the children let off some steam down on the sand although Sophie was somewhat concerned as she 'was wearing her party shoes' . Never mind, I'm sure upstairs in Room 4, amongst all the cosmetics and perfume, they've got some party shoe de-sanding gel...or mousse...or cream :-)

For the official record, Mary's techno specs made no appearance although I am not being fooled...these girls from Room 3 are clever operators and know when to go back deep undercover. I'm watching The Pink Panther Crew very carefully. Apparently Mrs Holt 'was moved to tears' in the theatre when her class performed Taylor Swift's 'Shake it Off' in a perfectly harmonious routine - all the children form all the schools had been invited to stand up and dance but Holy Family literally brought the house down with their brilliance. "I was so, so proud" Mrs Holt said whilst searching for a tissue...I wonder if she will be discussing this achievement later with the orang utan? Children are now getting ready for bed but stangely it appears that it is only the boys who are actually here in the lounge on time. Indeed Amit has just said "Where are the girls, they are taking forever?" I don't like to tell him but Room 4 are probably working their way through their cosmetics array and sorting Sophie's party shoes, Room 2 are probably avoiding further carnage by summoning the room tidying fairies and goodness only knows what form of espionage and subterfuge Room 3 may be up to with the magic techno specs. Anyway, Mrs Holt is now whispering to the orang utan so that's keeping the boys engrossed. Oh, here comes Angelica...and Saskia...and Megan...and Monique...and Sophia...Room 3's spy meeting has clearly been called to an end. They move effortlessly this lot. Only Mary and her techno specs remains upstairs...I'm convinced she is the mastermind behind this elite team. The boys are now sitting cross-legged on the floor with their cuddly dogs and monkeys talking about the secret's uncanny...perhaps they are forming a rival undercover group although if they are, they need to lower the volume button and be a little more discrete with their planning. More news soon...

 Ok, Mrs Holt has cast aside the orang utan and is talking to the children. She may regret this move as I think the orang utan was listening better :-) Room 4 are still not here...clearly they are doing a very thorough job on Sophie's party shoes. Mrs Holt has just announced that she is taking the orang utan to Robin Hill Park tomorrow 'so it can hang around and swing from the trees'. I think I need to have a quiet word with her...I know cuddly orang utans hanging and swinging from trees are probably ten a penny in East Manchester but this is The Isle of Wight. No-one would bat an eyelid in Oldham if they saw you talking to an orang utan but I'm not sure about here...I'm no native of this part of the Mancs need to stick together and protect each other. Mrs Holt is now talking about the slides, the toboggan, the pirate ship, the shops and the 4-D simulator ride. I suppose the orang utan will be doing all that stuff as well although he will definitely be behind me in the queue for the 4-D ride...after missing out last year, I'm not risking him getting the last pair of 4-D specs. Hmm that will be interesting - I bet Mary's techno specs have got a 4-D capability of their own.

Oh, Mrs Holt is now explaining the ten pin bowling tomorrow night. The orang utan is looking excited about that...he's clearly a strike king on the bowling lanes :-) It's been a long day where we have had weather from almost every season...apart from summer although despite this it has been a great day. The well oiled machine ran as smoothly and to time as always. Behaviour was excellent and Mrs Holt has just said "Your dancing in the theatre made me cry" After frequenting Mancunian nightclubs over the years I suspect this is not the first time someone's dancing has brought tears to her eyes...or maybe that was just due to all the smoke :-)

Right, it's 10.10pm and Mrs Holt has just told them "ten minutes until lights out". Room 2. 3, 4 and 7..and the orang utan have gone. Room 8 are still here on the end of a very special pre-sleep pep talk. It's Mrs Holt at her motivational best. Room 8 appear to be listening. I hope they are because if they don't sleep I expect Mrs Holt will be sending in the orang utan later. They've got powerful arms those orang utans...and Mrs Holt and he have clearly formed a very strong bond. I think Mrs Holt needs to have a chat with Mrs Capindale who would surely struggle getting any conversation out of a piece of frayed yellow rope. It could be invaluable  ape advice before her interview with the Natural History Museum and the BBC :-) Once everyone is quiet (don't hold your breath with Room 8) I will post one final entry tonight. Bye for now and love to all in Addlestone from all in Sandown.

11pm Oh yes everyone, the hotel is serenely quiet and has been for the last 20 minutes. Either the activities of the day have exhausted them all or Mrs Holt and the orang utan have worked their motivational magic. Interestingly, the orang utan is now sparked out flat on his back on the leather's obviously all been too much for him. God bless the little fella... I expect it was the selfie shots that Mrs Holt was taking earlier and sending back to Addlestone that finished him off :-) Mrs O'Connor is giggling...the hotel WAS serenely quiet :-)

Despite the weather, it's been a good day. There have been many acts of genuine kindness and friendship observed by all the staff. The children have really done you all proud. The way your children conducted themselves in Osborne House put many of the adults in there to shame. They were unfailingly courteous, polite and patient not to mention very interested in learning about the history. They are picking up numerous compliments both inside and outside the hotel. As always, the staff team, led by Mrs Holt and her new ginger haired side-kick, are doing a fabulous job caring for the children. I am proud of them all. Outside the wind appears to be dying down a little. Let's hope it is clam tomorrow moring and the sun puts in a much needed appearance. First stop tomorrow is Dinosaur Isle which includes the fossil hunt on the beach. I've been totally rubbish hunting down fossils over the last two years in both bright sunshine and overcast skies...maybe tomorrow could be my day for finding a T-Rex femur :-) The afternoon tomorrow will be spent at Robin Hill Park and all the fun events on offer there. After last year's falconry display during which Mrs Capindale was almost killed by a diving buzzard, I expect she has packed a motorcycle helmet in her suitcase this time around. It's all set up for an exciting day.

Sleep well everyone, I will be back in the morning. Hope you are all enjoying the action so far. It's over and out from Sandown.

The Blog Bloke