Tuesday 5th June
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6.45am Good morning from a rather grey and grisly Sandown. Looking out of the window at the moment it doesn't look like summer but I remain ever hopeful that the sun will force it's way through the clouds at some point today. It's very quiet here in the hotel at the moment, mostly because the boys in room 1 have not yet woken up following their late night. Room 1 will be my first port of call when I go knocking in 10 minutes time; it will be interesting to see if they're as chirpy as they were at midnight last night, if they've removed the booby trap from behind the door, Finlay has located his 'lost' shorts and the part man part mouse has found his cheese :-)
We've got a very busy day ahead today so I will not be able to post again until around 6pm. This will be a very quick post followed by a much more detailed report around 9pm whilst the children are enjoying the riotious entertainment served up for them at Shanklin Theatre. First stop this morning is Goodleaf Tree Climbing in Ryde where the children have the chance to scale a giant oak tree using ropes, harnesses and the strength of their willpower. There will also be an opportunity to walk down to Ryde beach and play some games in the lovely park. We will then head off to Osborne House for a picnic lunch, visit to the bizarre museum of Victorian antiquities and finish with a tour of Queen Victoria's holiday pad by the sea. I'll be on hand to capture all the action in the red notebook...I'm sure I will find plenty of bizarre things to write about.
I will be back soon with a quick update once everyone is awake...I'm off to room 1 now!
7.10am - My first morning circuit of the upper floor rooms was interesting. To be fair to room 1, they have done well and most are showing signs of movement. First up and about was Freddie who was deciding which of the 2 outfits lying on the floor he is going to wear today. In room 3 the doctor has proven he is clearly not a morning person whilst the cocoon-like creature on the bottom bunk was unrecognisable...until I noticed the Chelsea bear hanging from the railings. According to Antony, he slept very well...which is probably more than can be said for the bear. Next door in room 4, I discovered another bottom bunk chrysalis that I'm told is Tienne but I have no conclusive evidence of this as the shape remained an inanimate shape despite several attempts to bring him to life. To be fair, I think it's the first time Tienne has stopped talking since we left Addlestone so I guess I should be grateful for small mercies :-) Rocco, Anthony and Sammy were a bit more on the ball in there which I guess should be expected from 3 of our best footballers.
I'm downstairs in the lounge now and there is plenty of noise coming from the two girls' rooms. Mrs O'Connor is reading the weather forecast to Evie in room 8 and I expect the clan in room 10 are probably 'doing their faces'. It's a different world down here. Right, I'm making a return hike up the stairs to find out if the butterflies have burst forth yet from their cocoons. Back soon...
6.00pm - Good evening everyone. We're back from our day of fun and the children have just sat down for dinner. We've had a great day and I will update you fully later on from the theatre in Shanklin. Back soon
7.10pm - Dinner has been consumed and tonight it was fruit juice or minestrone soup followed by spaghetti bolognese or jacket potato finished off with jelly & ice cream or yoghurt. There was plenty to satisfy even the hungriest of children. Ok, I need to rewind now to the events of this morning...
I went back into room 4 where Tienne had burst forth from his chrysalis and bloomed into a tartan-clad William Wallace double. He was pacing around the room scratching his head whilst his clansmen desperately attempted to tidy the floor. Freedom. Content that all was well in the world of the boys, I headed back down for breakfast where the girls from room 10 came out in a perfectly co-ordinated straight line in the Riverdance style. We ate a hearty breakfast then jumped on the coach at 8.30am for the trip to Goodleaf tree climbing in Ryde.
Group 1 (led by Mrs Capindale & Mrs O'Connor) were first into the climbing harnesses...although the esteemed group leaders remained well and truly on terra firma. This group is full of super bendy flexible gymnasts so I expected great things. They did not disappoint proving to excel in the giant oak tree. Isabel, Olivia B & Lia scurried up the ropes like energetic spiders up a drainpipe closely followed by Bella who, to be fair, would have been level with them had she not been slowed down by her constant chattering :-). Upholding the standards of man was Sammy who yet again was enjoying his encounter with a load of old wood...albeit this time a load of living old wood. He was putting on a fairly decent impression of Tarzan as he headed vertically up the rope despite his rather frequent declarations of "I'm really scared of heights." Overall, this group climbed brilliantly. Last down from the tree at the end were Adam and Lia Queen of the trees...oh, and Bella who was still chattering like a gibbon.
Group 2 saw Olivia F resplendent in her multi-coloured superhero leggings climbing like, well... a superhero, along with Erin F who proved that Irish Dancing is not her only major physical talent. Isabelle continued her approach of doing everything with a huge smile on her face whilst Anthony wore a bit of a frown as he said "I think I've lost my circulation up in this tree." I suggested he hunted for it sharpish as Dr Spreadbury was currently unavailable due to being on the beach building sandcastles. Speaking of the beach, Mrs Holt returned to the park with her group where Antony had amassed a sackful of pebbles, shells & rocks. "I've got more pebbles than Scrooge McDuck has money" he declared. I don't know the current financial worth of Scrooge McDuck (although I expect Edward and Dr Leon may have their theories) but Antony certainly has a lot of pebbles in that bag. Indeed, his private collection, including his prize pieces named 'stone pistol' and 'X-Box remote' would grace any of the great world museums. I'm currently considering contacting the British Museum as I feel these classic pieces would look perfect alongside The Rosetta Stone and The Elgin Marbles :-)
After group 3 had completed their tree climbing (great skills displayed here by Erin W, Darcie, Finlay & the debating duo) the Goodleaf staff praised the children for their beautiful manners, exceptional behaviour and excellent climbing skills.
Mrs Holt was clearly feeling a little windswept and fatigued after her adventures on the sand. She asked her group what they would like to do next. "Vortex Golf" they shouted in unison. "Ok, so that's making postcards...er and golf" she replied. Now, I know my hearing is not as sharp as it once was but there was definitely no mention of postcards. Despite this, Mrs Holt had already laid out her tartan blanket on the grass and was getting out the blank postcards and coloured pencils...whilst the majority of her group wandered off to play vortex golf. Following our tree climbing, I took my group down to the beach where Tienne & Freddie began building a sandcastle. They were assisted by Lukas who was digging a hole the size of a small town in search of wet sand. He was going so deep I half expected at any moment a little man to appear and say "Bonjour, bienvenuti en France". However, moments later the frantic digging was interrupted when Olivia F appeared out of a hill of pebbles shouting "I've found a crab, I've found a crab...but it's dead." "Let's take it to Mrs O'Connor" Isabelle suggested. I must have missed something here; either Mrs O'Connor is a secret crab whisperer or Isabelle was suggesting she photograph it to add to Antony's pebble exhibition at The British Museum. Following the case of the deceased crab, the digging resumed en masse and, between them, Tienne, Anthony, Lukas and Freddie (who appeared to morph into the role of the foreman leaning on his spade) created an impressive sculpture.
Back on board the coach as we left Ryde promenade, Darcie looked out of the window and said "Wow, look at the size of those swans...oh, no, sorry, wait a minute...they're swan boats."
"And some of those swans have 4 seats" added Mrs Holt. Darcie saw the funny side, as did Evie & Gaby, who were chuckling away for a good 5 minutes afterwards. We arrived at Osborne House at 12.45pm and had a picnic lunch where we met 2 random couples sharing the picnic area with us. Both left us a gift as they departed following their lunch. Couple 1 said "Your children are wonderfully behaved, you should be very proud of them" (which we are) and the second couple approached Mrs O'Connor and said "Excuse me, would any of you like our smoked salmon sandwiches, we appear to have packed rather too many." Behaving beautifully brings rewards :-)
Following devouring the smoked salmon we headed into the main grounds of Osborne House where Mrs Holt discovered that her day total of 10,000 fit bit steps had been smashed by Erin W who had completed 17,000. "That's 7,000 more steps Mrs H" I pointed out..."and Erin spent at least 45 minutes dangling from a rope at the top of a tree" I added...just to test my luck. Mrs Holt's explanation of the difference is that Erin is wearing her fit bit on her wrist and this apparently makes a significant difference. This is why I rate Mrs Holt so highly...imagination and creativity are essential if you work at Holy Family :-)
Attempting to increase her total, Mrs Holt led us on a brisk stroll to the hill overlooking the house where we looked in wonder at it. "Why is it orange?" Anthony asked. "Well, the colour changes with the light" Mrs Holt replied immediately. Creativity...it's essential. A colour changing building, how cool is that? Osborne House, the chameleon of the English Heritage property portfolio. Surely this would impress Sammy more than the load of old wood yesterday?
Following a team photo we headed down to the Swiss Cottage where my group headed into the museum of antiquities. I think it's fair to say that the collection of stuffed creatures did not go down well with the caring nature of my group. We located the 5 legged deer and I told the heart-wrenching story of its sad little life. As I finished and everyone stood in stunned silence, Adam then added "And after all that, they shoved him in that glass case." It was actually Jessica who located the 5 legged deer although described it in a slightly left field way "Look at that deer, its got 2 legs + 2 legs + 1 leg" which is an interesting, although mathematically accurate description. Dragging ourselves swiftly away from the creatures in glass cases we spotted some rocks, fossils and shells in glass cases. I'm definitely going to contact The British Museum...Antony's collection has a shot. After Swiss Cottage, toy soldier auditions for Camberwick Green and a 15 minute play on the swings & slides, we headed up to Osborne House itself.
Down in the kitchen below stairs, a tour guide was explaining about Queen Victoria's typical 6 course dinner menu and how she would wolf her way through this in approximately 30 minutes. "Wow, that's how she ended up...errr...a little bit big in the tummy." Very diplomatic and polite indeed Olivia. The children in all 3 groups were fantastic on this tour. They asked great questions, made some excellent observations and were incredibly polite throughout. On the way out of the house I then overheard Sammy comment "Osborne House is actually so small."
Point of note: Mr & Mrs Chukwu - if a letter arrives this week from English Heritage it is probably an injunction banning Master S Chukwu from approaching within 30 miles of all sights of significant historical interest across the country. I'd suggest you simply pretend it never arrived. Maddison, on the other hand, left the house armed with enough facts to take on the role of official tour guide next year. I'm currently considering substituting her for Mrs O'Connor on Tuesday afternoon in 2019. We then headed for the gift shop where, like magnets, the boys as always were drawn to the display of toy weapons, artillery and other items of warfare...oh, apart from Lukas who was seen manhandling a furry otter by the throat whilst asking "How much is this?" The £12 price tag made it a pretty swift decision and he slung the otter back on the shelf. The shopping frenzy continued regardless. For the majority this involved a giant pure sugar rush concealed in various colourful wrappings. Thankfully, no-one was tempted to part with their hard won cash on a mosasaur tooth which at £1.50 for a tiny stone the size of your little finger nail has to be the biggest rip off attempt since Jose Mourinho suggested Phil Jones would be worth £60 million in the open transfer market. The staff in the shop should have been wearing stripey jumpers and a mask.
We were the final coach in the car park and left Osborne House at 5.10pm. On the trip back to the hotel, Isabelle was clearly feeling the pace a little. "Do we have time for a light nap?" she asked. Mrs O'Connor answered that one but I was so tempted to say "Yes, you have time...I'd suggest taking 10.30pm to 7.30am as a good starting point" but this would have been wasted on Isabelle...it's those boys in room 1 who need to hear that piece of advice. As we travelled along, the staff began their annual obsession about discussing animals. We've had previous years full of talk about cows, dolphins, cats and guinea pigs but today it was sheep. Mrs O'Connor started it and it came completely out of the blue "Sheep are useless really. They've got funny eyes and just chew all day." This is an interesting observation and a fascinating addition to her sheep complex begun last year when she told us how sheep have 2 long legs and 2 short legs so they can balance on hillsides. This is obviously why you never see sheep winning any Olympic athletics track events...although I imagine they'd be awesome in the velodrome..they'd fly around that banking like Chris Hoy with their uneven legs :-)
Following the sheep interlude, an impromptu Mastermind quiz was sprung upon Mrs O'Connor. The specialist subject was Osborne House and in the John Humphries role was Mrs Holt. It's safe to say that Mrs O'Connor's Osborne House knowledge is not as extensive as her sheep knowledge so this was always going to be a struggle. And so it proved to be. At the end of the 2 minutes there were more recorded passes than Man City completed this season...oh, and one correct answer. The case for the Maddison substitution in 2019 is growing ever stronger.
9.30pm Right folks, I'm now back in real live time. I'm sitting in the foyer at Shanklin Theatre whilst the show thunders on behind the glass doors. There's loads of screaming going on in there...I think they're having a great night. During the interval Bella popped out and said "There's only 30 Holy Family in there compared to 120 from another school and we're making far more noise!" I couldn't have put it better myself although I did get my response in swiftly... "I know, I've been listening to that noise all week at meal times" I said. The show is due to finish at 10pm then we will make the short drive back to the hotel for a drink, discussion of today's events, plans for tomorrow then off to bed. I will post again later with the latest whacky goings on from Sandown. Until later...
10.35pm - Hello again folks, greetings from the leather sofa in the lounge at Bertram Lodge. We're back from the theatre and the children had an amazing time. A couple of opinions are shown below:
Darcie: "It was a spectacular performance"
Callum: "It was brilliant, I never knew what would happen next"
Mrs Holt is currently giving her motivational pre-sleep talk which has begun with the spectacular news that Erin Winter's fit bit has today recorded 31,000 steps/18 Km/12 miles. "You've all done that today so you will be exhausted and need to sleep tonight." Creativity Mrs Holt...marvellous. The swinging watch on a chain will be coming out soon. We're now running through the itinerary for tomorrow and I've been joined on the leather sofa by a mixture of a croaking Danny Dyer & Darth Vader...formally known as Oisin; I guess he was screaming his lungs out in the show tonight. The children have conducted themselves with great dignity today and have drawn many positive and complimentary comments from members of the public. They are doing you all proud.
We've got another very busy day ahead tomorrow with Robin Hill Park followed by ten pin bowling in the evening. Mrs Capindale is currently lying down in a darkened room and preparing her protective clothing as she psyches herself up for the falconry display whilst Mrs Holt is pacing up and down trying to round her fit bit steps up to 20,000. Weather forecast for tomorrow is for a fine day (no rain) but not overly warm so that could be perfect for exploring the park.
Ok, for now I will sign off as we attempt to settle them all down for the night. I will post one final time before bed. Back soon...
11pm - I've trawled the upper corridors and return with my report. Room 1 (Freddie, Geno, Oisin, Finlay, Adam & Lukas) looks like a hurricane has blown through in the last half hour. There is debris everywhere and nothing is really where it should be'''although I can happily report that Finlay has located his lost shorts. Room 1 have not yet realised that the large wooden upright box thing in the corner of the room has a sole purpose in life of housing clothes.
Room 4 (Anthony, Sammy, Tienne & Rocco) is a veritable no-go zone with an obstacle course of potential lethal hazards littering the floor. To get to the centre of the room requires swerving around the David Beckham Respect shower gel, slaloming between sandals, shoes and a can of Lynx then hurdling a Bechers Brook mound of festering clothes. It's not a pretty sight...although their upright wooden box thing has a sole shirt hanging proudly from the railing in there.
Room 3 (Callum, Antony, Edward & Dr Leon) on the other hand has to be the tidiest, most organised boys' room I've ever seen on a Year 6 residential...bar none. The place is spotless and leading the way on this is the doctor. His case is packed and unpacked with military precision. I'm very impressed. I've just assured them that even at this early date, they are guaranteed a position on the podium in the tidiest room competition. Room 1 & 4 are surely out already. It has to be a straight battle between room 3 and the two girls rooms downstairs...which I will inspect very quickly for comparison purposes during breakfast tomorrow. The boys in room 3 have asked me to check out their opposition just in case they need to raise their game.
The dust is beginning o settle on a very successful day. It all sounds fairly quiet upstairs...this is good news...the staff may get more than 5 and half hours sleep tonight. I hope you are all enjoying the action so far. Wishing you all love and hugs from everyone here on the Isle of Wight
Until tomorrow, it's over and out and goodnight
The Blog Bloke