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Tuesday 7th June

Whatever happens today, you can read about it all right here...

6.30am - Good morning all from sunny Sandown. It's day two, the skies are blue and I can happily begin with a raft a good news...

Silence did descend rapidly on the hotel last night after the 11pm lights out watershed and by 11.15pm it was as quiet as a convention of monastic mice on a sponsored silence outing. There are no problems to report overnight...although the occupants of Room 8 need some extra maths lessons as they clearly have difficulty with the concept of time...well it's either that or they are operating on European time after crossing The Solent. 7.15am is official 'wake up' time today but they've been making a racket in there for the last 15 minutes. I did pop my head in there where I witnessed some bizarre early morning tree climbing rehearsal on the bunks. Needless to say the climbing has now stopped and I can hear them talking tactics on how to spend their £5 today. As an aside, Room 8 smells quite's either down to the Lynx that was being brandished by Max...or Harry's magic Spanish aftershave :-)

Happily Room 10 have a far more relaxed (and sensible!) approach to mornings. There is nothing stirring in there...even Harry O's camera and tripod are resting. Late last night I discovered the booby trap behind the door was due to Adam's suitcase and that Josh clearly does not possess reflexes as quick as a panther. Apparently it got did the wardrobe door...and a plug socket on the wall...oh, and an innocent metal signpost that he walked into near the HMS Victory yesterday. In typical fashion, Josh has shrugged off all 4 incidents in his usual cheerful manner and is happily getting on with enjoying himself :-) The orang utan is sitting here in the lounge with me. I think he is particularly excited about the tree climbing today as he is wide awake and gazing longingly out of the window...and he was asleep very early last night in preparation for his big day. You see, he's been on a Year 6 residential before and knows that sleep is vital to enjoying the trip...perhaps I will send him into Room 8 later today for a quiet word with them.

I'm not sure what is occuring up in the rarified atmosphere of the alpine meadows above; everything is quiet and typically serene but I can report that very late last night I heard Mrs Capindale asking Mrs Holt 'if she would like shampoo AND conditioner' typical of the Von Trapp's to be that organised in the face of such a hair-related crisis. We're going to need to raise our game down on the ground floor to compete with such a challenge as this...I'm concerned that not even Harry's Spanish aftershave can match them.

STOP PRESS...a slightly belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY to LOTTIE who was 11 on Sunday and has very kindly provided a beautiful party bag for each child. This is a very thoughtful gesture and typical of Lottie who spent the whole day yesterday with a beaming smile. Ok, I will just post this and then check how they are doing in Room 10 this morning. It's now 7am and almost time for wake up. Back soon...

7.20am - I'm back...and feeling totally crushed. Mrs Holt and Mrs O'Connor have come down and delivered a sledgehammer blow to the morale of man. By all accounts, Room 4 is a military operation of tidiness; they've got a hairbrush drawer, a special place to line up their shoes and a bandana shelf! The mind boggles...this is way above the heads of the boys...all we've got to offer are mounds of clothes, upside down trainers strewn randomly about the floor and a singing bear. Apparently Room 4 are under the leadership of General Gracie who is co-ordinating the tidiness...I should have known...Gracie's school books are beautifully meticulous so it makes sense that the room would follow suit. Assisting Gracie in Room 4 are Jaimie, Eloise and Federica...they must have plenty of space in that room with only 4 of them. Siobhan has now arrived downstairs from Room 2. It is most unusual to see a girl downstairs so early; they usually arrive 10 minutes into breakfast. Well done Siobhan...obviously caught the cable car down the hillside :-) The birthday girl has now appeared from Room 3...followed by Elsie, Leila and Imogen from Room 2...this is most surprising indeed.

STOP PRESS 2...I can report a huge morale boosting victory for the boys. Room 8 have slightly redeemed themselves as their early rising allowed time for 3 showers to be taken in there. Room 10 didn't bother however the birthday girl has just informed me she is the only girl to shower up on the hillside this morning. By my maths that makes it Boys 3 Girls 1 on the shower scoreboard...well done Vincent, Jake and Sam...we're back in the game on the ground floor :-)

5.50pm - Good evening everyone, we are back at the hotel just in time for dinner which tonight is soup, spaghetti bolognese and ice cream & jelly. Oh my goodness, we have had a sensational day out. It has been wall to wall blue sky and glorious sunshine all day. The children have enjoyed an amazing mix of activities and experiences which I will relate to you all later on. Speaking of later on, here is the plan. Following dinner we are heading to Shankin Theatre on the coach at 7.45pm. The show begins at 8.30pm and we should be back at the hotel by which point I will copy and paste all the action onto here (apologies for not posting earlier but there is no Wifi at the theatre). Don't worry folks, there's plenty to read about today so hopefully it will be well worth the wait. Until later...goodbye


7.25pm - Dinner over...and it was delicious. The children certainly enjoyed it and are now fully refuelled for the trip to the theatre. Just before we go, a quick snippet of the action from earlier this morning...

First stop was Good leaf Tree climbing adventure in Ryde...a first time experience for the Holy Family residential...and boy, what a fabulous new addition to the itinerary this proved to be. 3 very pleasant, helpful and attentive gentlemen were in charge of the climbing...which involved many ropes dangling from an enormous ancient oak tree. The children were split into 3 groups of 10 to take part in 3 one hour activities:

1. Tree climbing

2. Vortex Golf

3. Beach games/baseball/tri-golf

The sun was blazing down, the park was beautifully quiet and the children had a ball. Mrs O'Connor was on hand with the camera to snap the tree climbing action with orang utan leading the way. Inspired by our furry travelling companion, Federica, Inuki, Adam, Max, Eloise, Elsie, Freya, Brendan, Lottie, Alex and Jake all reached the very top of the tree...and it was a LONG way up! Alex even had time for a bit of jovial banter whilst dangling 60 feet above the ground like some sort of giant fruit bat.

"Alex, what are you doing?" someone shouted from down on the ground.

"Oh, just chillaxin'" he casually replied. Stylish...very stylish indeed.

Special menttion here must also go to Siobhan who, although she doesn't like heights, bravely scrambled up to base 1, about 20 feet above the ground. This is what makes school journeys so special - watching a young person conquering a fear and completing a challenge is worth its weight in gold.

Right, that's it folks until later could be around 11pm before next post. I will type everything into word at the theatre and hopefully copy it all to here without a hitch when we get back.

8.10pm - 2016...advances in modern technology are literally boundless; we have WIFI in Shanklin Theatre!!! I'm perched on the back row and all set to sit back and enjoy the key action from today...

So, the tree climbing experience was a fantastic one for all the children and they were very proud of their efforts. The 3 instructors also had a great morning and praised the children for being polite, helpful and courageous. They finished by saying we would be very welcome back next year :-) Alongside the enormous tree and ropes, a vortex golf course had been set out. A vortex, for those who don't know, is a small rugby ball shaped foam ball with a tail that you throw like a javelin. The aim of the game is to get the vortex into a large bag in as few throws as possible. This provided great fun and plenty of entertainment for us all...including the moment when Josh got his vortex stuck half way up a tree...which had no ropes hanging from it. This posed quite a problem and so began 'Operation Vortex Rescue' which saw several children and yours truly trying to get it down. We threw up a traffic cone, we had Adam up on the lower branches trying to shake it down but without success. We were considering calling the fire brigade and asking them 'to rescue Vortex the cat'  when we eventually manged to get it hurling a kwik cricket bat at it. Ever resourceful we are at Holy Family :-) Down on the beach we enjoyed cricket with the vortex rescuing bat, building sandcastles, collecting shells and throwing the frisbee. Whilst on the beach, Isabella announced how it was strange as it still felt like we were in England and one of the boys pointed across The Solent at the Spinnaker Tower and shouted "Look, that building looks just like the one we saw in Porstmouth yesterday". There wasn't much I could say really so I simply shook my head and went off to see how the shell collectors were doing.

At 12 noon we reboarded the coach and headed for Osborne House, Queen Victoria's version of a caravan by the sea. Inspired by classic Italian architecture. it really is a beautiful building and everyone was excited to see what they could discover inside. First stop however was the picnic area where we settled down in the shade for lunch then we partook in that traditional Victorian pastime of zipwiring...which was great fun. Just before we headed for a stroll down to look at the Swiss Cottage and Prince Albert's small museum of curious artefacts and oddities, April said to me "Am I in the blog yet...I've been talking a lot...and I'm a very interesting person". I can't disagree with that at all :-) Elsie then came up to ask me something...but suffered a temporary attack of amnesia...but I can't remember what happened next then Gracie whacked herself in the face with a spanish fan. All these strange goings on and we hadn't even reached the museum of oddities.

We started walking and paused for a team photo with the glorious house in the background (from the same angle as the artwork done back in class as Mrs Holt pointed out). Daniel gazed at it in all its summer glory and said "I think my painting is actually better than the real thing." Well, there you have it...Daniel Van Gogh has spoken. Copies of Daniel's masterpiece will be available to order online from next Monday on at a bargain price of £49.99

Following the photo we were walking to Swiss Cottage and the boys were back on the conversation topic of aftershave. "We've got tonnes of the stuff in our room" declared Conor. It may be total carnage on the ground floor but at least it's sweet-smelling carnage. We reached the museum of curiosities where the lines continued to roll. Alex was looking at a particularly vicious looking stuffed wolf with bared teeth in a glass case. "Is that wolf dead?" he asked. somewhat nervously. I bent lower and took a closer look. Alex remained motionless. "Well, I certainly hope so because judging by those teeth it doesn't look too happy with you" I replied. Alex simply turned and moved away from the case. I then came across April who was staring at a very gannet-looking gannet in another glass case. "Is that a dodo?" she asked. She was looking decidely uncomfortable but in all fairness I'm sure it wasn't due to the dodo-gannet...I'm sure it was bringing back unpleasant memories of that ridiculous reading SAT's paper with the ridiculous dodo questions last month. My group then located the 5-legged deer, the 9 legged spider and the world's smallest scissors whilst I stopped to quickly pay homage at the glass case full of cotton samples from Thomas Bazely of Manchester...Cottonopolis' finest merchant.

We then popped into the Swiss Cottage where Toby adorned a red soldier's tunic and busby hat then proceeded to give us a great demonstration of marching. Mr & Mrs Chukwu please note...if the West End advertise any auditions for upcoming stage productions of Camberwick Green, get his name down early...he's a shoe-in for a lead role :-) Walking back up the hill to visit the house itself, Freya came running up to me. "Mr Tindall, do you think Federica is mad?" she asked. "Not particularly..why do you ask?" I replied. "Well, she doesn't like fruit...or dogs" Freya informed me. Now, following Imogen's dislike declarations yesterday, I've spotted a potential business opportunity - we could create a menagerie of creatures/objects and curios disliked by Year 6..squirrels, pigeons, ladybirds, dogs and fruit are already in there..and it's only Tuesday evening!

Before going into Osborne House we decided to visit the shop. It was very hot this afternoon and ice-lollies and ice-creams were calling. The boys are always drawn like magnets to sweets and bullets in this shop..which make for a very dangerous combination when the inevitable sugar rush hits them. True to form, they sensed them out like military bloodhounds. First there was Max...followed by Conor then Brendan and Vincent and Jake..oh, and Toby with a wooden dagger (which he later exchanged for a giant Magnum!) The boys never let you down with buying bullets at Osborne could set your clock by them.

Inside the house the children were a delight to accompany. They were very engaged, asked great questions and behaved beautifully, Special praise in my group must go to Gracie and April who both had eyes like hawks and constantly probed the tour guides with inquisitve questions - they were real superstars. Mrs Capindale reserved special praise for Federica for her questions and Libby...who came out with one of the best comments of the day when she said 'she would have loved to have been one of Queen Victoria's children for one day to find out if it was as sad and lonely as it sounded as they didn't spend enough time with their parents. Meanwhile, in the group behind, Eleonora was quizzing Mrs O'Connor about the inheritance procedures of royal properties and possessions. She has clearly pinpointed a potential niche in the market for an entrepreneurial role in future years. By the sounds of things, Mrs O'Connor wasn't providing many answers...although I'm sure there are plenty of stunning photos to capture the moment :-)

10.50pm - Ok, on to our evening festivities...

...following our delicious and very filling dinner, we boarded the coach for the short drive to Shanklin Theatre where, as previously reported, I discovered the newly installed Wifi. Clearly the shock of this was too much for my frazzled brain as in my overwhelmed state I made the fatal error of remaining in the auditorium for the first half of the show amongst the screaming and general mayhem associated with a theatre full of 11 year olds. If any of you are wondering, it is not an experience I would particularly recommend...unless you wish to succumb to instant tinnitis in both ears. Thankfully I can report I spent the second half sitting in the foyer listening to the racket from afar and my ears are therefore currently functioning...just.

The bandana shelf up in Room 4 must have been quite empty tonight as they were out in force. Jaimie reliably informs me that 'Bandanas are back in' which I assume would be music to the ears of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid...those two loved a good bandana back in the day :-) Incidentally, in amongst all the mayhem and screaming, the show appeared to be some sort of vampire production which I guess will give our children inspiration for their forthcoming musical production of 'The Rocky Monster Show' in July. By the way, I've got some fabulous news for those of you looking for a weekend away by the sea over the August Bank Holiday. this is your lucky day as I noticed something in the theatre foyer...Joe Pasquale is performing here on August 29th...and there are still tickets available. Don't worry, I checked, but you'd better hurry...I expect they're selling like hot cakes on a cold winter's day.

After the theatre we returned to the hotel for a pre-sleep motivational chat and general review of the week so far. It is now 11.05pm and all the children are in their rooms..although judging by the din from behind me in Room 10, they are not sleeping. If I can be brave enough to risk laceration of the lower limbs, I may pop in there soon with a few pre-sleep motivational words of my own. We've enjoyed 2 fabulous days of the trip so far. The weather has been sensational (no thunder storms and heavy rain here) and the visits have worked out better than ever. The hotel staff are wonderful - they are so kind and welcoming to the children and have made us all feel very much at home - we are very fortunate to be staying at Bertram Lodge. Being given a choice of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner is very thoughtful and just one of the many little touches that make Gary and Lou stand out as exceptional hosts. Michael our coach driver is doing an amazing job manouvering the coach around the tight streets and keeping the itinerary bang on schedule whilst the school staff, led by the indefatiguable Mrs Holt, have been as brilliant as ever.

Tomorrow we will spend the full day outside at Robin Hill Park which should give them plenty of opportunity to burn off plenty of energy. Lashings of suncream will be applied as we are predicted another very warm day. Capping off the day tomorrow will be a sandcastle competiton on Sandown Beach followed by Mrs Holt and Mrs O'Connor leading 'Clubercise' complete with flashing glow sticks. I'm just hoping there are no low flying aircraft in the vicinity...all those whirling limbs, flashing lights and purpling faces is sure to play havoc with their radar transponders...particularly if Mrs O'Connor's exclusive in-house preview last night is anything to go by :-) 

STOP PRESS...Good news, I do not need to risk lower limb laceration in Room 10 as Mrs Holt has just braved it. The room is right behind me and I'm still chuckling at what occured in there...

Mrs Holt (on entering the room): Brendan, what are you doing down there? What are you sleeping in tonight?

Brendan: Just my pants. (momentary pause from Mrs Holt)

Adam: Well, you see Mrs Holt, that's what all the boys sleep in these days!

Funnily enough, Mrs Holt wasn't in there for a moment longer...which is a very wise move; I'm going to look for a pair of steel cricket pads before I dare going in there again.

11.30pm - Silence is once again settling on our little Sandown bolthole. It's very calm outside and equally calm inside...well, Mrs O'Connor is laughing but that's part and parcel of any day at Holy Family. I hope you are all enjoying the action as it unfolds and are managing to keep up with most of my inane ramblings. These are just a tiny part of what happens each day but is keeping me fairly busy. Who knows what tomorrow may bring and who may step forward to deliver some match-winning lines for the blog. Until then, it's a very good night and lots of love from all here on the island.

See you all tomorrow morning...