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Tuesday 4th June

Morning: Good leaf Tree Climbing in Ryde

Afternoon: Owl & Monkey Haven

Evening: Ten Pin Bowling Championship 2024 in Ryde

6.15am: Good morning everyone from a very tranquil Wight Hill Hotel. It’s just me and two very excited orangutans in full holiday mode here in the lounge at the moment. The total stillness across the hotel suggests everyone is sleeping well; it’s been a good first night. A big shout out to the boys who have clearly fully taken on board the trip mantra of ‘Eat when you can, drink when you can, sleep when you can’ as they did plenty of the former at dinner yesterday and were straight to sleep after lights out last night. They will be full of energy for the big tree climb this morning.

I must record a serious and heart-warming message for you all from yesterday. Amongst all the madcap happenings and interesting conversation pieces, the children displayed exceptional support and friendship for each other throughout the day. They have really grasped the importance of being in the moment for their friends and sharing this wonderful experience together. A major part of a Year 6 residential is to help them better understand the true value of those around them and to appreciate the blessings God has given us all; they have made a very strong start with this.

This morning we are heading off to Ryde for the tree climbing, orienteering (for some of us) and beach games (for others of us) then on to Owl & Monkey Haven, hence the excitement of the orangutans who are going home for the first time since 2022. Now that they are out of the Black Hole of Addlestone (otherwise known as Mrs Holt’s cupboard), they are certainly going to enjoy the whole experience. The sun hasn’t decided to make an appearance yet but I’m hoping it does soon as I’ve put my shorts on and already feel a little too tired to consider getting changed…which is a tad concerning on a Tuesday morning.

Who knows what fun and frolics today will bring? Whatever occurs, I will do my best to capture it all for you and get it posted on here this evening. Mrs Holt has joined me in the lounge as It’s time for the wake-up rounds so I’m heading off to see how the boys have slept.

Check back soon for more updates. Have a great day

The Blog Bloke

6.55am The boys are awake and in good spirits...although it's carnage within Black Magik 'with a k'. Goodness only knows how they're going to find the right clothes to wear today. The cases look like they've suffered from spontaneous mini-explosions and there are random garments strewn everywhere in festering mounds. The one in the centre of the room appears to be a collection of monochrome clothes...either that or a small family of badgers have decided to move in. If they are badgers, I don't expect they'll be staying too long. There is also now life upstairs as Mrs Holt cheerfully conducts her rounds. I'm not surprised she is cheerful as I've just heard that 'The People' in Room 2 have transformed their domain into something akin to a luxury spa break experience, including the use of face masks and face rollers...and have invited the female staff for free treatments later this week. There are no badgers in Room 2 and it's highly unlikely there will be...unless they are quite happy to have their face rolled.

4.40pm Good afternoon everyone, it’s a big hello from a rather breezy Sandown. We have just arrived back at the hotel after another action-packed, adventure-filled day. If you are planning on reading today’s blog(which will probably arrive late tonight) I’d suggest you make a packed lunch, a large flask of tea and reserve your favourite comfy chair as it’s likely to be a long read. So much has happened today with highlight after highlight being recorded in the red exercise book.

Mrs Holt is currently recapping the instructions for this evening’s extravaganza at Ryde Superbowl which kicks off at 8pm. Prior to that we have dinner at 6pm and prior to that, an opportunity to relax for an hour to recover from the exertions of climbing a very large oak tree on a very long rope.

As a preview to the main story, here are a couple of highlights:

Compliment of the Day: came from Paul, the leader of the team at Goodleaf Tree Climbing who said “You are by far the best and kindest group we have had this year. We are very impressed.” It was all too much for Mrs Holt who had to reach for her tissues and turn away for a private emotional moment. It means such a lot to a Year 6 teacher to hear their class praised by respected people who have met them for the first time. For the record, Mrs Holt’s pride was matched by my own – your children did themselves, yourselves and our school proud; they were superbly supportive to each other all morning and fully deserved this fabulous accolade

Special, unique memory of the day: After the wonderful words from Paul, there was the unmistakable sound of propeller engines above the trees. Looking up, we were treated to the incredible sight of 4 World War II fighter planes flying in formation on route to Normandy for the 80th anniversary commemoration of D-Day this Thursday. Special moments like that are not common on any day, let alone a Year 6 residential trip.

Ok, let us now rewind to all the main action today…

After a hearty breakfast consumed by all, we boarded the coach and headed for Ryde. On the promenade we were met by Paul from Good Leaf Tree Climbing and we began the stroll to the park. On the way there we met and fussed many cute little dogs before Hudson pointed to the undergrowth and shouted “Whoa, look, there’s a dog like a bear.”

 I could see what he meant. The 'dog like a bear' bore a striking resemblance to Bungle from the 1970’s children’s programme Rainbow (obviously before my time but I’ve watched it on You Tube 😊)

Imagine this jumping out from behind a tree before 9am on a Tuesday morning after only 4 hours sleep and you're right there with us on Ryde Prom…

Walking onward, we soon arrived at the big oak tree where Mrs Holt split the children into 3 groups for the annual rotation of activities 1. Tree climbing   2. Park & beach games    3. Orienteering

I could see my name written all over group number 3 when Paul asked “Are you doing orienteering this year?” I seized my chance and replied “Oh yes, Mrs Capindale has been looking forward to it since last year.”

Even before Paul had begun to turn towards her, Mrs Capindale had emphatically rejected the suggestion. I headed for the orienteering maps, group 3 joined me and we all began the first rotation. Group 3 were an absolute delight to spend 40 minutes traipsing through the undergrowth with. Laurence had been designated by the team as chief navigator which I felt was further good experience for his forthcoming tilt at the top ministerial job. As he barked out the instructions, our fabulous team of Izzy B, Sophia H, Jakub, Sophia L, Izzy B, Macey M, Issy J and Josh scurried and sped around the park to locate the 12 hidden wooden plaques. At each one we wrote down the magic letter and I suddenly realised why Sophia L chose a detective-themed project for the science fair. She is an ace tracker and was hunting out the clues faster than a sniffer dog at the airport. We were flying and with only 3 clues left to crack, we looked at the letters we’d gathered. “These clues are full of E’s” Jakub said…which probably explains why we were flying around at such a rapid rate. Once we had located all 12, the children expertly worked as a team to decipher the jumbled letters and rearrange the hidden words as ‘Trees Are Good.’ Awesome work from everyone in group 3.

Feeling suitably delighted with ourselves, we strolled along the prom back towards the giant oak tree. The sun was out and this led to Laurence and Josh debating the benefits and drawbacks of beach football. Apparently, if you play in goal, you are certain to end up with ears full of sand which destroys your hearing. This is obviously what has happened to everyone within the government. As with many conversations on a Year 6 residential, it then took on a life of its own as Laurence metamorphasised before my eyes into a fascinating combination of Professor Brian Cox and The Hubble Telescope.

He began to bombard us with bamboozling inter-galactic facts including “Do you know there are more stars visible in our sky than there are grains of sand on the earth?” Surely not I challenged him…I mean the Sahara Desert on its own must have a fair few grains. Apparently, according to the Hubble/Cox Telescope, “there an estimated 200 sextillion stars visible to us…and yes, that is an actual number.”

Max T then piped up, “But, have they actually counted all the grains of sand on the earth?” The Professor pushed onwards to describe the astrophysical concept of Goldilocks Zones in our galaxy which gives a 90%+ chance of alien life-forms in space. As we reached the giant oak tree, this revelation got me thinking that maybe the ‘dog like a bear’ had been sent as evidence that the Isle of Wight is actually a Goldilocks Zone…stranger things have happened on our planet.

Looking up into the giant oak, we could see group one dangling from their ropes. Sapphire and Liza were way up near the top, scurrying vertically like tree creepers. “How is it up there?” Joshua shouted to which Liza replied the whole experience was “just as brilliant as I expected it to be.”

Ok, I need to stop here as dinner is almost ready. More inane, madcap ramblings to come later…

9.45pm: Evening all, we have returned from the ten pin bowling so can now pick up the action from earlier today...

8pm Good evening everyone, we have now arrived at Ryde Superbowl. Mrs Holt is organising the teams and I have taken up station on a tall bar stool overlooking lanes 5-11 where all the big bowling action will unfold. I will keep you all updated, but first we need to rewind to continue the story from beneath the giant oak tree in Ryde this morning…

Group 2 were next into their climbing harnesses as my group headed to play vortex golf and group 1 headed to the beach with Mrs Capindale and Mrs Tindall. In group 2 we discovered an absolute natural in the tree climbing department as, on the western side of the oak, Abi shot up the tallest rope in double quick time. One minute she was in full view, the next she was somewhere up in the heavy green canopy with only her feet to be seen. Raima, arriving back in the park, was very suitably impressed. “Abi, look how high you are…you’re crazy” she shouted, partly in awe and partly in encouragement. Abi simply responded “It feels very nice up here, I’m really enjoying this.” If they introduce tree climbing into the 2032 Olympics, I’ll be recommending the GB Team make contact and sign her up before South Africa find out her hidden talent.

Over on the eastern side of the tree, Louis was battling away with his climb. “I’m going right to the top and not stopping” he shouted. If you find out you have a python living in your roof, give him a call as he’s your man. Others who displayed fabulous climbing skills and determination in this group were Carly and Jamie who both reached the top without fuss or fanfare. A typically understated, typically fabulous effort from them both. Max T was also climbing well and, after a slow start due to prioritising talking, Ferne eventually made it to the top in great style. Once group 2 were finished, group 3 got kitted out and began their vertical ascent of the giant oak. Sophia H was an absolute star, followed by Raima and Jakub. I’d also like to give a massive shout-out to Sophia L & Issy J who, despite their fear of heights, tackled the challenge with tremendous positivity and conquered their fears. This trip helps children to realise they can achieve if they believe in themselves. Well done to every single one of them who put on the harness and went up the ropes this morning.

The tree climbing ended with the aforementioned praise from the Good Leaf team and 5 minutes of class praise from the school staff; moments like these are to be treasured; they are what makes teaching a truly privileged profession. We then strolled back along the prom towards the coach and made the short trip to Owl & Monkey Haven. First stop there was a picnic lunch (eaten in a very calm, civilized and mature manner) before we were met by our guide and the tour of the animals started.

First stop were the meerkats where the children displayed their vast knowledge picked up via research in school. Our guide was very impressed, both with the answers and our interesting questions. Leading the way on this again were Sapphire, Maddy, Abi & Liza. Onwards we went from enclosure to enclosure, picking up plenty of new knowledge along the way. My personal favourites, the Lar gibbons, were out and in fine form, speeding from beam to beam on their powerful long arms. God’s wonderful creatures are a treasure to behold and the destruction of their natural habitats should force humans to hang our heads in shame. As we looked at the beautiful rhesus macaques, our guide told us they share 93% of their DNA with human beings, so are our nearest cousins. Around 25 million years ago, we would have been the same species. It is such a shame that the 7% difference in DNA has led to mindless vandalism and scant disregard for our beautiful planet. Incidentally, Rhesus macaques and lesser apes such as the gibbons are apparently happy to swim when necessary but, and here’s my useful fact for the day…the great apes such as gorillas are frightened of crossing water and will avoid it at all costs. This will be a very helpful point for you to consider next time you’re being chased by an angry gorilla. Head for the nearest river as fast as you can.

At the Capuchin enclosure we learnt that they are one of the smartest of all primates, which must put them above politicians in the IQ tables, and then we finished with the black & white colobus monkeys, about whom I have two fascinating facts to share.

Firstly, these monkeys have no thumbs, which will explain why you’ve never seen one hitching a ride up the M6. Also, they have the same facial expression whether they’re happy or sad as they don’t have the facial muscles to enable them to smile. This is why many of them are employed across the UK in the role of Ofsted inspectors.

Our final treat at the park (before the gift shop) was the chance to handle some tortoises and then Jasmine the royal python. An orderly queue was formed, led, unsurprisingly, by Louis who I guess was getting a close look in case he needs to climb onto any roofs in the near future. I was proud of all the children who stepped forward to engage with the python, especially those who were clearly very nervous. Top marks here to Mary, Anabella, Maximilian and Abi who all overcame their initial hesitance/fears to stroke the snake. This is what a Year 6 residential is truly all about; stepping out of your comfort zone and realising that you find out most about yourself, your character and your potential when you are at or beyond the edge of what is comfortable. It was another memorable moment to behold this week.

Back at the hotel, the question of the day was delivered. At this point, Mary’s question out of the blue on Ryde promenade of “Mr Tindall, would you eat a pigeon?” had been winning, but it was slightly topped by the mind-boggler delivered by Master A Spreadbury of Addlestone who said at the dinner table “Mr Tindall, does the vegetable curry have chicken in it?”

As I’ve said previously, you never know what’s coming next on a Year 6 residential…but so much of it is very funny.

  Here are the team and individual results for the 2024 Ten Pin Bowling Championships hot off the press from Ryde Superbowl:

Coming very soon…once they have been triple checked!

Ok, its 10pm and welcome to Sky Sports News. The official results are in:

Team Competition:

6th place Lane 10 average score 68.4: Dominik (top scorer with 78), Liza, Jessica, Alfie & Max H

5th place: Lane 5 average score 74.7: Mary (top scorer with 90), Martha, Maddy, Sapphire, Hudson & James

4th place: Lane 7 average score 75.4: Jamie (top scorer with 97), Alex, Ferne, Macy B & Abi

3rd place: Lane 6 average score 76.6: Sophia H (top scorer with 87), Owen, Raima, Anabella & Caden

RUNNERS-UP: Lane 8 average score 78.8: Sophia L (top scorer with 90), Jakub, Laurence, Joshua, Macey M & Issy J

WINNERS Lane 9 average score 79: Max T (top scorer with 92), Louis, Freya, Izzy B, Evie & Carly. 

Congratulations to our team champions!

Individual competition:

5th place: Jakub 88 points

Equal 3rd place: Sophia L & Mary 90 points

2nd: Max T 92 points

WINNER: Jamie 97 points.

Congratulations Jamie, the IOW ten pin bowling champion of 2024!!!

10.30pm: The night has drawn in, and we are within the 6 hours of darkness available for proper sleep before all the collared doves in Sandown once again gather together outside my bedroom window for their dawn chorus. Today has been a fabulous one for every child. They have settled smoothly into the rhythm of the trip and their support and kindness towards each other has been truly awesome. The comment from Paul at Good Leaf is one of the very best we've ever had and every place we have visited has paid them numerous compliments. You should all feel very proud.

My esteemed colleagues are sitting alongside me on the leather sofas enjoying a few moments of well-earned rest. They have worked non-stop since we left school yesterday, with every duty completed with good grace and constant humour; they are providing outstanding care, guidance and inspiration for the children. We are blessed to have them all in our team. The hotel feels calm and quiet but this is not surprising. The children must be exhausted as they have run, walked, climbed, played & bowled all day...most of it at 100mph so I'm sure they will sleep well tonight.

Tomorrow we have another high octane programme lined up. In the morning, we are visiting The Land that Time Forgot (or more formally, Blackgang Chine) then we will head to Sandown Beach for games in the afternoon, followed by a visit to Shanklin Theatre in the evening for the specially written riotous school performance. I'll be on hand with the red book to take notes whilst Mrs Holt will continue in her David Bailey role as she takes hundreds more photos of the action.

Until tomorrow, it's over and out from the whole team here in the lounge of The Wight Hill Hotel in Sandown.

The Blog Bloke