7.20am - Seconds out, Day 2. Here we go again on another fun-fuelled extravaganza.
Outside the weather is acceptable. The clouds are high and it is dry. Forecast suggests a dry day throughout so that will do for me. Tomorrw is still showing rain for the morning which will make the dinosaur fossil hunt an interesting challenge. As I was rubbish in the blazing sun last year, maybe wet conditions will see me turn into a fossil hunting king? Ok, back to the latest news...
...We all appear to have slept reasonably well and I can hear plenty of voices, laughing and giggling up the stairs...and that's just the staff. In the Nelson museum yesterday we learned that at the Battle of Copenhagen, Nelson's flagship was called HMS Elephant. I can now inform you that the entire crew of that ship have moved into Room 5 along with Nellie, Dumbo, Elmer and that other one who marches and shouts a lot in Jungle Book. Room 5 happens to be directly above me so I have contacted a local builder to get some steel joists to reinforce the ceiling. And, to think I was pleased last night to find out that Room 5 was populated by 'quiet' girls! In fairness to them, it could be the resonant accoustics of this building but I will be checking on their 'movements' later on. Mrs Holt has just arrived downstairs to inform me that all the children slept well and are now awake. Some apparently required a bit of encouragement to rouse although you will be pleased to hear that Josh was reading away happily in his quicksand hammock when Mrs Holt went into Room 6 :-) Very interestingly also in Room 6, Declan has attempted to take on board my inservice advice about hanging clothes. Whilst Josh and Dilan have gone for the 'keep everything on the floor so you know where it is' tactic, Declan has draped his clothing over the wall mount for the vacant TV. It looks quite stylish..almost as though he has melted out of his clothes directly below into bed. If it were in the Tate Modern it would become a phenomenon; clearly he is the new Damien Hurst. I'm just off for a quick check of the ground floor rooms to see how the boys in Room 4 got on with their haka and to Room 2 to see if EnderMan slept well and is ready for his climbing. More news very soon!
7.55am Stop Press...updates from the rooms. In Room 4 Conor was standing guard by the wardrobe. "Open the wardrobe door please Conor" I said. Conor duly obliged to reveal a bare interior. "Are we not bothering with this?" I enquired. Without breaking sweat or batting an eyelid, he simply replied "Well, you see, the problem is that Jason can't reach the hangers!" Top marks for ingenuity...clearly our creative curriculum is working. There is a large mound of clothing developing on the floor in there. I did notice something black and white at the bottom and presumed it could be the All Blacks shirt from yesterday but hesitated to remove it as it could just as easily be a small family of badgers that have decided to take shelter under there. Up in Room 5, it appears that Elmer and the crew of HMS Elephant have been rehearsing for the forthcoming Riverdance tour under the guidance of Saoirse...according to Tia and Emily, this is what I heard at 6.40am this morning. I'm now looking forward to party night on Thursday, it should be very entertaining :-) Whilst in Room 5 I enquired "Are you using the wardrobe girls?" "Oh yes, and we're also using the drawers" they replied. You see, this is a basic difference between room regimes on a Year 6 trip and is the fundamental reason why girls always win the tidiest room competition. More inservice required for the boys I feel. Most of the children have now drifted downstairs for breakfast which is coming up in 10 minutes. Sausages, hash browns and spaghetti hoops are on the menu and have been widely pre-ordered. Credit where credit is due, they are certainly good eaters this lot. Ok, that's it for now...check back later for further updates...
6.15pm Evening all, this is a VERY quick update as I'm really pushed for time and roast chicken awaits in the dining room. We have had a fabulous day blessed by beautiful sunny weather this afternoon. The sun continues to shine outside and everyone is happy and well. We are heading off to bowling straight after dinner so my full update (and there's plenty to report today) will unfortunately not be posted until late tonight. Hopefully it will be worth the wait. As a parting thought...I know UK coastal erosion continues to be a worrying problem for the environment agency but I think they may be alarmed to know that the white cliffs of Dover have moved...to Shanklin...as announced from the back of the coach as we arrived back at the hotel 15 minutes ago. Priceless stuff and one to keep me amused while eating my chicken dinner. If I can get Wifi at the bowling, I will update there. Speak to you all later...
8.30pm Ok everyone I’m now sitting at a comfy table in Superbowl typing this into Word to be copied and pasted later. I thought I’d hit a strike when told there was free Wifi but sadly was struck out as my laptop wouldn’t connect. Right, enough of the issues, let’s get back to the real action of the day…
Following breakfast the children gathered downstairs ready for departure whilst I headed off for a preliminary room inspection. Starting in the downstairs corridor near my room I was amazed to find Room 2 looking tidy (apart from a pair of jeans and a fleece draped over the chest of drawers…it would surely have been easier to put them in the drawer?) and in Room 4 an amazing transformation had taken place. Gone was the mound of clothes, the small family of badgers and just about everything else for that matter. I am beginning to suspect similar goings on to the Clint Eastwood movie ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ where he chisels his way out through a tunnel in the side wall. Upstairs the fairies had clearly visited Room 6 as it was also exceptionally tidy but this paled into insignifance when compared to HMS Elephant which had the military precision tidiness expected of a naval crew. Tia, Yasmine, Saoirse and Emily will take some beating. Room 8 took the cosmetics prize with a display resembling John Lewis at its best :-)(more on that later)
We then boarded the coach for the very short drive to Sandown Rocks for the climbing session. Chairs were laid out for the staff which went down very well with Mrs Capindale then Roscoe, the lead instructor, asked for three staff volunteers to help work the belays. Mrs O’Connor waved her camera in the air, Megan somehow managed to become instantly invisible so that left myself, Mrs Holt…and Mrs Capindale…who then spent the next two hours strapped in a harness feeding rope through a belay. The children loved the climbing and the instructors were brilliant with them. Aided by amazing belaying skills from the HF Staff team, they scurried up and across the rocks and had tremendous fun. Top marks to Tia (who was like a spider up a curtain),Tiffany (like a rock-hopper) Saoirse, Alicia, Katie, Gus (minus EnderMan who could apparently teleport himself to the top anyway) and Damien Hurst for excelling in this activity. The children were highly complemented by the instructors on their excellent behaviour and manners which was extremely pleasing. Back on the coach Mrs Capindale took a deep breath and said “I wish I’d brought some chocolate, I wouldn’t have felt the least bit guilty about eating it after all that hard work.” Marvellous commitment to the cause.
We began the drive to Osborne House and on the way an interesting conversation developed about cows. Following on from the lorry load on board the ferry with us yesterday, cows were clearly on the mind. As I was looking out at the slightly greying skies with a little trepidation, Mrs Capindale put us all at rest by pointing at a field of brown & white cows and saying “Oh look, all the cows are standing up…it’s not going to rain.” Clearly Mrs Capindale has previously done an in-depth series of interviews on meterological matters with a number of cows. Alongside her, Mrs O’Connor continued to fret about the cows on board the ferry. “Do you think cows get sea-sick?” she asked. There was no response…obviously this question was not covered in Mrs Capindale’s cow survey. Five minutes later Mrs O’Connor then said “Oh look, there’s some black and white cows lying down…it’s going to rain.”
“Cows in the Isle of Wight just can’t make their mind up” was Mrs Capindale’s swift response. Personally I suspect the cows were resting after their long journey south from northern England yesterday…well, either that or they’re still suffering the after effects of sea-sickness :-)
We soon arrived at Osborne House and, after a picnic lunch in the gardens we partook in that traditional Victorian pastime of zip-wiring. I can just picture Queen Vic and Prince Albert hurtling down the wire screaming at the top of their voices. Inside the house we split into small groups for our tours. My group of Kelsey-Jane, Brogan, Lucy E, Charlie, Joshua, Saoirse, Tia and Amy were absolutely brilliant from start to finish. They asked lots of interesting questions and listened carefully to all the information shared with them. Mrs Holt also complimented Louis, Jason, Harry and Harley for being equally involved in her group. Trooping up towards the top floor Lucy E said “Queen Victoria must have got tired of all these stairs because I am” and this was followed by K-J who added “I’d get lost if I lived here.” Later on, as we discovered the Queen’s personal lift, Amy said “Ah ha, now I know how she managed to survive in here!” They were certainly in sharp form this afternoon with their observations. As we concluded our tour, I overheard K-J and Lucy involved in an in-depth discussion about the potential security issues of living in such a large house which concluded with a beautiful statement “I’m quite happy where I live.” I like that…it’s lovely to hear children who are genuinely grateful for all they have been blessed with.
After leaving the house, we began the walk through the gardens towards the Swiss Cottage and I was treated to today’s Smithsonian Institute Lecture from Professor Kieran which was all about genetic mutations. “It’s all in the genes and the DNA” is a bit of a snappy summary for you all. Oh and apparently there’s a whole town set up in honour of albino squirrels. The professor informed me that not surprisingly this town can be found in the USA (just in case you fancy a summer holiday break somewhere different this year :-))
Down at the museum we were told to look out for the ‘5-legged deer’ and the ‘9-legged spider’. “Ok, what do they look like?” was one of the best responses delivered this week so far. Carefully inspecting the glass cases full of stuffed birds, insects and a wolf, Charlie then said “These are all dead aren’t they?” Looking at the size of the wolf’s teeth and the crocodile climbing along the wall, I certainly hope so. It’s just a shame that the birds weren’t alive…we could have interviewed them about whether or not they enjoy flying :-) Over at the rocks and minerals cases the Minecraft officianados were quite literally in their element looking at all the familiar names. “Look, there’s Obsidian, Lapis Lazuli…and Turquoise Flinty Stone!” they shrieked. Before leaving, Mrs Holt and I paid homage at the Thomas Bazley of Manchester display case of cotton all the way from ‘Cottonopolis’, the world’s greatest city then we headed back outside to the blazing sun for a well-deserved ice-cream.
In the gift shop we were once again complimented on the children’s behaviour and beautiful manners. As Alannah went through the till at the end of the queue, I heard the lady say “You are wonderful children and a real pleasure to serve. Your teachers must be very proud of you.” We are very proud…they are a delight to spend time with and you, as parents, should feel even prouder of that fact. Top marks in the shop for purchases would probably go to Lucy Mc & Tiffany for their very thoughtful souvenirs and to Yasmine for a lovely carved Blue Tit pencil. Meanwhile, on the other till, the boys were rattling through with ice-creams, fudge and bullets on a chain. The inevitable sugar rush could make them quite dangerous later on.
After dinner, the children had 15 minutes to get ready for bowling and they returned downstairs at 7.30pm. Clearly John Lewis cosmetics had been open and had seen plenty of custom in that short period :-)
Continuing the ‘cow theme’, on arrival at Superbowl, the children were herded into a holding pen where they began a bit of an impromptu dance-off competition before getting down to the serious bowling stuff.
10.40pm Stop Press...we are now back at the hotel and the children are ready for bed. Jason has just asked if he can read the blog. I told him it would be better if he read it at the weekend as this would give me ample time to consult my legal team :-)
On the way home on the coach from the bowling, my staff colleagues really extended their animal themed conversation. Moving away from cows they agreed upon a dream-team of animal superheroes that could save a crisis in any conditions. A marvellous line-up of Lassie, Skippy, Flipper and Champion the Wonder Horse was settled upon. Megan's face was an absolute picture...I don't think she had any idea she was coming away with David Attenborough, Johnny Morris and Doctor Doolittle....nor did I for that matter but nothing ever surprises me at HF. Ok, I need to take a short break to investigate a creepy crawly thing in Room 2. Back very soon!
Right I'm back. The creepy crawly thing has gone and I can now update you on the scores on the doors from the bowling lanes tonight. The winning team, with a score of 539 points were Kieran, Joe, Charlie, Harry, The Hacker and Bobalina. That's what the score sheet says. For those of you who are wondering, that's Dilan and Joshua under secret agent names apparently. Well done to the boys! Individually, the Champion bowler was Lucy McRae with a great score of 111 followed in Silver by The Hacker on 109 and the Bronze was shared between Jason and Alannah on 108. Well done Lucy!!!1
It's been an amazing day and the children have been sensational. they have been fun, supportive and attentive...and the good Lord smiled upon us again with a beautiful sunny afternoon. 1-0 to the brown & white cows on the weather forecasting. Mrs Holt is now frantically searching the medium of the magic I-Phone in an attempt to find a more cheerful forecast for tomorrow. Pouring rain will not be welcome on Sandown Beach or at Robin Hill Park.
Stop Press 2... the missing slipper from Room 9 has been found. Clearly the slipper stealing spectre has taken up Celtic arts as the slipper belongs to our Irish dancing Champion Brogan. Mysteriously it was found under her bag which is clearly a very smart tactic from the spectre to return it to such an obvious place. Clever...who knows where it will strike next? Children are up in bed now (11pm) and are very tired. I don't think it will be too long before they are in the land of sweet dreams. I will post a final update later. Until then...happy reading and love to all in Addlestone from everyone in Shanklin.
12 midnight - All is quiet and tranquil in the hotel. The children are sleeping happily after their long exciting day, Mrs O'Connor is loading all her fantastic photos onto the laptop and the rest of the wonderful staff team have retreated to their rooms for a very well-earned rest. It has been a hugely enjoyable and very successful trip to date. I hope you are enjoying the action as it unfolds and the blog is helping you to live the experience with your child from afar. I get the sense that they are growing up and maturing by the hour and I believe this week will really see them gain confidence as they begin the transfer to secondary school. The weather forecast remains horrible for tomorrow and this could mark a landmark day for me. This is my 6th school journey to the Isle of Wight and it has never rained on me before. Last year's biblical storm occured on the way home on Friday so that doesn't really count...I'm going to sleep tonight praying that I can keep that proud record running tomorrow. We have had a logistics meeting in the last hour and we have the semblance of a back-up plan should the rain wash out our activities tomorrow...I'd rather we didn't use it but it's best to be prepared.
Goodnight everyone...whatever happens with the weather tomorrow it won't be allowed to dampen the spirits and I'm sure the material for the blog will just keep rolling along. I haven't a clue which direction it will roll, but as usual you can read it all right here!