The mid-point of the trip...find out how everyone is getting on right here on this page...
6.55am - Good morning all from the leather sofa. Another day has dawned and I'm both thrilled and delighted to inform you that the sun is shining brightly today. It actually looks like summer out there. I'm also happy to report that I'm beginning to adapt to the IOW feathered dawn chorus. They were back in force this morning but I managed to sleep until 5.10am before a soloist turtle dove woke me up. This is impressive progress and I've decided to dress all in SAS black today in recognition. By Friday I may actually make it to 6am at this rate.
Ok, Wednesday is the mid-point of the trip and traditionally a time when I look back and reflect on the first half. In footballing terms, this year would be akin to conceding a goal in the first minute, having the coach banished to the stand but then watching the team calmly negotiate their way through the 45 minutes to lead at half time. The TV pundits would be waxing lyrical at half time and predicting a convincing victory at full time. I'd like to quickly go back to the comments made by Paul at Goodleaf tree climbing yesterday. These guys have worked with thousands of children from scores of schools over the years and his positivity about Holy Family should not be underestimated. We always try to tell the children that the legacy you leave behind and the impact you have on the lives of others is the most important thing you can do each day and every one of you should feel very proud about the impact your children are having over here. They have been incredibly supportive of each other and impeccably polite to everyone they have met. As Mrs Holt put it yesterday "We could take Holy Family children for tea with the Queen and you would never have to worry about their manners or behaviour."
Right...temporary delay now while I head upstairs to wake up the sleeping beauties. It's compulsory shower time up on the boys' floor so my SAS gear my be a useful outfit as I undertake this challenging mission. I'll be back soon...
7.30am - All clear, present and correct up on the first floor. There was no life at all and many a bleary eye in Room 2 but Finn was first out of his bunk following the motivational speech. In Room 3 they had acquired a new occupant as Bertram has moved in and was swinging from the frame of the top bunk. They've got matching Adidas sliders in there and its now dawned on my why they've named their room 'The Sleepy Sliders'. In Room 4 they were in cheery mood and I'm assuming this is due to the fact that they've been playing a Year 6 version of Soccer AM's 10 yard bucket challenge all night. There's a green bucket in the centre of the room and scores of single socks strewn around the floor nearby. There's even one inside the bucket and one stylishly draped from the handle. It looks like a classic Tracy Emin submission at the Tate.
In Room 7 I can hear Hannah running through her comedy routine which consists of many strange noises and funny comments rattling out like a machine gun. They're having a grand time in there. Mrs Holt informs me that everyone in Room 8 has slept well, they are still super organised and super tidy in there. I think my hopes for an upper floor tidy room winner are rapidly fading.
We're all looking forward to a day in the sun at Robin Hill today. It's not too hot but there is a non-negotiable sun cream policy in force. We will be checking regularly amongst the pirate ship rides, 4-D film, maze, falconry display, giant slides and general playtime fun. Mrs Capindale has not yet appeared...I expect she is hiding under a table upstairs whilst having hypnotherapy in preparation for the falconry display. It's fair to say it's not her favourite 30 minutes of the week.
Ok, breakfast is 15 minutes away so I'm off for another military-style reconnaissance mission up the staircase. Over and out...for now.
8.55am - A very quick post-breakfast update before we head out. The children are seated at 4 tables and this morning I'm picking out two of them for a special mention. Firstly table 2 who have taken their combined love of Pain au Chocolat and written a song in honour of their favourite breakfast treat. It's impressively co-ordinated and sung in perfect harmony. Well done to Abigail, Adam, Keira, Isaac, Bella, Harry J, Ollie & Harriet. Over on table 3 they have a fantastic system in operation for the daily menu choices. This is being led by George who takes all the orders then writes them down in his beautiful handwriting. I'm very impressed with their team work. Top marks to George...who incidentally was first down to breakfast this morning after announcing "I'm absolutely starving." Clearly all those dance shapes he was strutting on the balcony in the theatre last night worked up an appetite...either that or it was the nocturnal 10 yard bucket challenge with socks that's done it. Amoya-May has just arrived to say that Hannah is now moving around Room 7 pretending to be Spiderman whilst making ambulance sounds. I told you her comedy show was madcap stuff.
Ok, enough of my bizarre ramblings for now. It's time to pack the rucksack and get the blue notebook and pen ready for another day of action-packed adventure. I will be back again shortly before 6pm for a very quick update...
5.30pm Good afternoon everyone, we're back from an amazing day at Robin Hill Park and I've got 20 minutes or so for a quick update before dinner, which tonight is fruit juice, roast turkey or macaroni cheese and fruit flan or chocolate mousse. Lovely. As Alfie put it this morning when making his menu selection "I like macaroni cheese but a roast turkey dinner is a proper treat."
We've had a brilliant day and the children yet again have excelled themselves. Robin Hill has some rides but the real essence of it is that it provides space and opportunities for children to play games, explore and have fun together. This group have really gelled. They've shown care, consideration and support for each other and the day has been filled with laughter and happy smiles. It's been a proper Holy Family day graced by a fly-past from that fella who is the President of the United States...more on that later.
We arrived at Robin Hill at 9.50am and Mrs Holt marched off to check us in as the first school group of the day. First mission accomplished successfully. We headed immediately into the 4-D Motion simulator where the film was Moon Ride. I went in there with them which proved to be a very screamy experience for me. We all sat down in the racing-style seats and the side safety guards came up...we screamed. The lights went out...we screamed then the ride did its job...we screamed, in fact there was lots of screaming, hilarious laughter and gasps, followed by comments of "That was awesome, can we do it again?" Not until I can find my ear defenders I thought.
We then made our way over the Colossus Pirate ship where several children bashed down the barriers and overcame their fears. Top of that list was Conor who sat with me displaying a great screamy-scaredy face throughout. As we left the ride at the end he said "I loved that, I'm going back on...but I need to get my breath back first. Oh, and I'm taking my jumper off." Conor obviously had serious business to deal with here. Bella had also said to me before the ride "I'm really nervous but I'm going to conquer my fears." She loved it too. After talking to Conor I turned to talk to Bella but couldn't find her...as she was back in the queue for a second go. During the ride I thought my sides may split. Sitting opposite me was Abigail who just has a screamy-scaredy face on another level. She was absolutely brilliant. Towards the back of the boat Bertram was making his pirate ship debut and having a great time under the care of free-climbing Fern whilst Bertie sat with Rosa, Keira and Harry C in the daredevil row at the very back. After 5 or 6 rides on Colossus, we made our way over to watch the falconry show with a promise to return for more screaming before the end of the day.
We found a seat in the falconry arena and prepared to watch the show...
10.35pm - Good evening all, we are just back from Superbowl in Ryde. They still have no wi-fi in there so I have been typing on to Word. Here is the first installment of th next part of today's events...
The falconry show is usually entertaining for all…unless you are Mrs Capindale who tends to spend the whole time hiding under a bench like a commando. First bird out this year was a 13 year old Eurasian Eagle Owl with a 5 foot wingspan named Spike. The handler started asking questions to engage the audience. “What do you thin Spike likes to eat?”
“A mouse” someone shouted. “No, bigger than that” he replied. We then had “Rabbit” “No bigger than that”. Someone from another school then suggested “a rat”. I don’t know where he lives but if the rats around his place are bigger than rabbits then I’m staying well away.
“Think of an animal bigger than a rabbit that an owl may eat!” the handler encouraged. I saw Ollie raise his hand…he was going for it. The man pointed at him. “A badger!” Ollie suggested. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of Spike swooping down on Billy Badger. If owls were feeding on badgers, the entire population of Geordie Land would never leave the house.
The handler then told us that Spike was a bit moody and didn’t really move about very much. To be fair to Spike, he did manage one decent swooping manoeuvre before retiring back to the bench. I leant over to Isaac and suggested Spike should be re-named ‘Anthony Martial’.
Next out in action was a cast of 3 Harris Hawks named Bonnie, Frankie & Alfie. I looked around for Mrs Capindale but could not see her anywhere in the crowd. Sitting next to Keira, Adam & Isaac, I quickly realised we were on the main Harris Hawk flight path and therefore in danger of a military still buzz haircut at any moment. “We need eyes on the back of our head now guys” I said. Adam’s neck suddenly became on a swivel. Alfie (the hawk) then decided to fly away into a tree and completely ignore the handler’s calls. My theory was that he was gaining height in order to get a fix on Mrs Capindale’s location as she was still conspicuous by her absence. In fact, she had managed to make herself so invisible that Alfie didn’t bother to come back for the rest of the show.
Last out on display was Perry the Peregrine Falcon. These guys can reach speeds of up to 260 mph in dive mode so I was excited to see him in action. He was tremendous. “Are falcons dangerous?” Keira whispered to me so I whispered back. “There are if you’re a mouse…or a pigeon…or maybe a badger.” The show ended with more acrobatics by Perry and as the birds were put away, I spotted a dark-clad figure wearing shades emerging from a camouflaged hole in the ground. It was Mrs Capindale who informed me that “Spike’s one and only flight was straight at my face so I took cover under that bench.” Marvellous…he may be lazy but he clearly has his radar locked in.
As we settled down for our picnic lunch on the grass we were discussing Alfie the missing Harris Hawk. He had not flown back however we did receive an unexpected fly past as two US military helicopters accompanying a passenger helicopter thundered overhead. We believe it was some fella named Donald Trump on his way to the D-Day commemorations in Portsmouth. The children waved…or at least I think that’s what they were doing…so the 3 helicopters circled and came back round again. I reckon the POTUS had heard that the world’s greatest school were on the island and decided to take a look for himself.
Following lunch we headed into the shop where the 2019 shopping craze took on more legs…literally. It started yesterday with sticky slugs and stretchy centipedes and today they went crazy. The boys were stretching them, twisting them, whipping themselves and each other with them (don’t ask) and christening them with all manner of weird and wonderful names such as Chuggy. Alongside this retail carnage was a much more sophisticated and impressive shopper by the name of Abigail. She had spotted an offer which said “Magnetic stones, £3.75 for as many as you can fit in the bag.” The problem was that the bag was no bigger than a tea-bag for one. Somehow, and I can only imagine that she has a moonlighting job for Magician Randini, Abigail managed to arrange 12 stones within the bag. Mrs Capindale was very excited and announced “Abigail, I would like to hire you next time I go shopping for Pick n Mix.” Brilliant.
We then walked down the hill via a fabulous brand new adventure area with bouncy bridges, trampolines, squirrel runs and hiding places to the big field. Some of the boys immediately started a game of football whilst the rest of the children went on the slides, swings and toboggan. Mrs Holt meanwhile was devastated as the café on the big field no longer sell Mr Whippy ice-cream. The other staff were also crestfallen and there was more shaking of heads and gnashing of teeth than an auditorium full of rock music-loving alligators. It was all too much to bear for Mrs Holt so she took Mrs O’Connor with her and they headed back to the top of the park where Mr Whippy’s were apparently on sale. As they left, Fern and Hannah arrived back from their toboggan run. They had loved it. Apparently Fern was driving whilst Hannah sat behind…telling jokes and making ambulance noises I expect. The children then organised their own giant game of ‘catch the flag’ that would have made Mr Seuke beam with pride. Down at one end, the flag was being guarded by a medieval monk in deepest meditation. On closer inspection I realised it was Eddie, sitting cross-legged, his head covered with a cowl-like hoodie. I didn’t fancy his chances of defending the flag but he had me fooled. Whenever anyone moved within a 20 yard radius he sprung into life with the speed of Perry the falcon.
It was fantastic to watch them playing together and really enjoying their time in the park. They had an absolute ball down there. Following the games we headed back up for a second visit to the 4-D motion cinema. This time we watched The Chase and it was even better than Moon Ride. Finalstop was a re-visit to Colossus where firstly Ella then Aoife overcame their anxieties and conquered the pirate ship in style. It’s amazing what can be achieved by some good old-fashioned grit and incredibly supportive friends. Top marks to Harriet, Bella, XiXi and Ellen in this department…oh, and Ellen also has a brilliant screamy-scaredy face on the ship.
As we were leaving the park, Rosa found a squishy stress ball thingy on the ground. Ollie pointed to it and said “I can guarantee before the week is out that one of those things will pop.” There are a lot of those things around our group but I am not overly concerned as I expect Mr Prepared has got a squishy ball repair kit somewhere in his bag. Oh, for the record, the squishy ball belonged to the man from B&Q.
We boarded the coaqch and made the short journey back to the hotel. Just before dinner, Mrs Holt sat on the leather sofa alongside me gazing at the flip camera and shaking her head.Then she giggled to herself. She then proceeded to tell us that Mrs Capindale had filmed 1 hour 15 minutes of the inside of her handbag. This comes on the back of last night where she 'charged' Mrs O'Connor's phone without switching on the plug. It's not been her most decorated 24 hours in the world of technology.
Dinner was devoured by all then there was a quick room inspection tour on the upper floor. I started in Room 3 as they are miles out in front. The room remains impressive overall...but Ollie and Harry C have taken things to another level for boys. Their bunk bed is the neatest I've ever witnessed. Either these teo are naturally tidy or Mr Prepared has managed to stow away a cleaner in his suitcase.
Next we braved a visit to the wastelands of Room 2 where I discovered the tidiest thing in there is the wardrobe...mainly down to the fact that it is as empty as th trophy cabinet at Newcastle United. On the floor of the room there had been a mini explosion inside a suitcase and twio cuddly toys were hanging upside down from a bed frame. I can only assume they have given up all hope in there. For the record, I can also report that half of the bottle of 'Jurassoc World' aftershave has evaporated and there is still no sign of Patrick's small family of T-Rex.
In Room 4, the bucket was casually flipped upside down, the socks remained artistically strewn across the carpet and the window was wide open. Either this is to provide much needed ventilation amongst the CFC's and other 'gases' or The Royal Marines have finally answered my SOS call and infiltrated the building.
My overall verdict up there? Rooms 2 & 4 haven't got a hope. Room 3 remain in the running. Keep up the good work Harry C, Ollie, Isaac, Joseph, Luke and Conor.
Back downstairs in the lounge I bumped into Patrick limbering up for the ten-pin bowling. He told me he was an ace in the lanes and loves bowling. As we got on the coach 15 minutes later, I noted Patrick was last to get aboard, his hood was up and he was clearly 'in the zone'. We were all set for the 2019 ten-pin bowling shoot out...results and report to follow soon!
11.30pm - It's been another full-on high-energy day and everyone is now fast asleep. Here are the results from the bowling in Ryde:
The team event was won by Lane 13 (lucky for some). Congratulations to Emma, Rosa, Ollie, Gilberto, XiXi, Thomas and Patrick...I told you he was in the zone!
In the individual competition, here are the children with scores over 100:
Winner: Gilberto 114
Runner-up: Ella 112
Bronze: Joseph 109
Fourth: Ollie 106
Fifth:: Ellen 102
Congratulations to Gilberto who becomes the first boy for several years to win the ten-pin bowling. I expect they will be delighted in B&Q...he's put them on the map in the Isle of Wight.
That's almost our Wednesday done. What a great day for everyone. Tomorrow we are going surfing in the morning then for the theatre workshop in the afternoon. Weather forecast for tomorrow is good on the BBC but not necessarily on some of the other sites. We're sticking with the BBC who are predicting white clouds and sun...let's hope they're right. Tune in for all the action on the beach and in the waves...there are sure to be some classic moments.
If you've made it this far through my inane ramblings you should give yourself a large pat on the back...or maybe even a certificate...or at least a sticker. I'm off to try to sound-proof my room against solo singing turtle doves.
Wishing you all love and hugs from everyone in Sandown
The Blog Bloke