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The mid-point of the trip...find out how everyone is getting on right here on this page...

7.50am Good morning all from sunny Sandown! Well, this is more like it - I'm sitting in the lounge on the leather sofa with the orang utan looking out at a beautiful blue sky...although the palm tree is still swaying and dancing at a merry pace out there. Breakfast is at 8.30am today so all the children are now just getting ready for the big day ahead...apart from those in room 8 who, I'm informed by Mrs Capindale, are still asleep. They have clearly taken on board my trip survival advice 'eat when you can, drink when you can, sleep when you can'. Good work from Alice, Aoife, Josephine, Shae, Isabel, Suzanne and Izzabella. There's no such serenity in room 10 where Mrs Holt's senses are being bombarded by the whirling morning livewire known as Hollie. She's buzzing with stories, enthusiasm and energy...she obviously slept very well last night. Occupants of the upper rooms were somewhat more groggy this morning on the wake up route; in room 4 the karate kid was flat on his bed, Rowan was sitting on his bed robotically folding some clothes (I'm going to apply for a commemorative blue plaque for this auspicious event in a boys' room) and Inspector Poirot's magnifying glass and LED spotlight were nowhere to be seen. In the eye of the hurricane Samuel was refusing to wake up despite Gabriel's best attempts to rouse him and, strangely, the howling gales had blown all the carnage to the perimeter of the room overnight. I could see the carpet which was slightly disconcerting when you're not expecting it. Outside room 3 Niall was asking Mrs O'Connor "if it's ok to wear shorts today or do we need trousers?" "Well, you're tlimbing a cree today" Mrs O'Connor replied. I think the midweek staff fatigue is kicking in. Inside room 3, Salvatore is beginning to resemble a cross between Danny Dyer and a dalek as his voice is particularly croaky much screaming was he doing in that cowboy show last night?

Mrs Holt has now joined me in the lounge. She is kneeling on the floor in front of a small table. She is either praying for divine intervention or making yet another clever tweak to the itinerary. I'm hearing plans for the sandcastle competition to be rescheduled for 5pm today on Ryde beach - that is always great fun although I expect the level of challenge will be heightened considerably due to the wind.

Mrs Capindale's hair plaiting and styling emporium is now open for the morning session. First customers in are Ella and Mia whilst Mrs O'Connor sits close by receiving inservice plaiting training. Ella is recounting her dream from last night in which she dared Mia to jump off a cliff onto a trampoline...and then there was a shark called Thomas who was actually Mia in a shark costume but Ella was trapped in a steel cage. I don't know what's in the air in room 10 but I could do with some of that for my office :-). Meghan R has arrived and has just told me she loves the trip and wants to stay longer which is a lovely sentiment to hear midway through the trip. Right folks, it's now 8.25am and I've been rambling aimlessly for 35 minutes. I can smell bacon wafting in the air and that has reminded me...'eat when you can'. It's breakfast time. More news later...

9.25am It's a hive of activity here. We are almost set for departure to Robin Hill Park. The HFS Bank is serving its final customers for the day. Breakfast was delicious and the children ate well...we are all fuelled up for another exciting day. Check back this evening for the next update...

7.25pm Good evening everyone. Dinner (roast turkey or macaroni cheese followed by chocolate mousse or fruit tart) has just been consumed and it was delicious. It's been a fantastic day - the sun shone, the breeze was considerably gentler and all the children spent the day with beaming smiles. Before I get into all the details, I will hand over to Megan B to sum up the day perfectly. She's just said "I've had a brilliant day and the best thing was just being with my friends" A magical quote. We are going bowling at 8.30pm so I will try to get as much posted on here as I can before we set off. Right, let's rewind back to this morning...

We gathered in the lounge all set to leave at 9.25am but there was a slight delay as Mrs Holt did a spot check of yellow silicone wristbands. It appears we need to publish a new book entitled '101 classic excuses for losing a yellow silicone wristband'. I'm sure it will at least make the yop 10 bestseller list in WH Smith. The bands are disappearing faster than the education budget under the Tory govenment; no wonder Mrs Holt was memorising the phone number through the medium of song on Monday.

 "It fell off my arm in Osborne House" (that's probably in a glass display case in the museum of curiosities next to the 9-legged spider by now)

"I had it then it was just gone" (Spurs fans looking at the Premier League title will empathise with that)

" I think it flew off my wrist when I was dancing in the theatre" and finally "I think it's in my room somewhere". This last line came from Luca who is in room 4. I expect the karate kid probably dislodged it during one of his dawn martial arts displays in there. Never panic though as we can send Poirot up there with his light and magnifying glass...he's bound to find it. We eventually departed for Robin Hill Park at 9.35am and made the short journey in time for the park opening at 10am. First stop was the 4-D simulator ride which this year was showing a film called 'Moon Landing'. Hollie, resplendent in her NASA t-shirt, was in her element. We then moved on to the pirate ship where all manner of fun and scaredy-screamy faces were in evidence. The orang utan absolutely loved it, as did Suzanne, Amir and the NASA astronaut who screamed into my ear from the row behind all the way through. Armed with the flip camera, I managed to swivel enough to get some close-up footage of the 'fun' they were having :-)

After that we moved on to the maze which, judging by the comments made by the children, was doing the job any self-respecting maze would expect. Isabel appeared and said "I kept getting lost in there, it was full of dead ends" then Michael appeared and asked "Can I go back in, I think someone may be lost in there." I'm thinking of posting these comments on Trip Advisor if the maze is willing to make a small donation to the school fund - there will be visitors flocking in from miles away when they read this stuff. Outside the maze a group of children led by Shae, Carraghan, Mia and Inspector Poirot were walking towards a large bush making strange 'cooing' sounds. " What on earth are they doing?" I asked. "I think they're trying to contact a peacock" Aidan replied in a deadpan manner. I guess it makes a refreshing change to making contact via Whats App. It was 11am by this time and Aidan was ready for his lunch. Apparently, according to Amir, the peacock had been previously calling for help...presumably he'd lost his mobile as he would surely simply have called 999..or 112.

Following all this excitement, we sat on the grassy hillside in the sunshine to watch the bird of prey display. It was noticeable that the genial Scottish chappie who has been there so many years flying the falcons was not there this year. I was interested to see how they'd do without him...and didn't have to wait long to find out. First bird out to fly was Swoop the Saker Falcon who, apparently, can fly at 200mph...although today he didn't appear to be interested in flying anywhere. Eventually he took to the skies and promptly flew off ignoring all the desperate cries of the handler. 15 minutes later he hadn't come back. According to the handler, Swoop can see a rabbit's ear twitch from 2 miles away...which was not particularly reassuring considering we hadn't actually caught sight of him for over 20 minutes. By this stage, even bird-phobic Mrs Capindale was looking chilled. She had appeared out of her trench beneath the wooden picnic bench and was enjoying the sunshine. As we approached 25 minutes waiting time I considered offering the services of the peacock contactors; surely they'd sort it. I turned to Thomas, "Are you enjoying the show Thomas?"

 He simply shook his head...and at that precise moment the Saker Falcon shot out of the trees behind him like an exocet and buzzed in centimetres above his head. I guess Swoop had spotted Thomas' ears twitch from 2 miles away then flew in at 200mph directly towards the peak of his baseball cap. Blistering timing from Swoop. They then brought out Bonnie the Harris Falcon who was flying ridiculously close to everyone. Mrs Capindale slunk down beneath the bench and her chilled out aura evaporated in an instant. The hoodie was over the head and I heard a mumbled comment of "This is definitely the worst part of my week". Santi, displaying his classic timing chipped in with "They can kill you simply by hitting the back of your head". Very funny but I guess not what Mrs Capindale really wanted to hear. Last out was Patrick the Peregrine Falcon...fabulous, graceful, beautiful, blisteringly fast and able to read the small print of a newspaper from 2 miles away...apparently. This is a handy fact to know if you're ever stuck in the middle of the countryside without your reading glasses and need someone to read the small print on your insurance documents. The falconry display finished at 12.15pm and Aidan was ready for his lunch.

Mrs Holt led the march down to the games area where the children had fabulous fun on the giant slide. It was also the setting of a truly magical moment which summed up everything that makes our school so special. A little boy aged no more than 3 was stuck two thirds of the way up the slide after his mum had left him behind. He was crying and quite scared.His mum was shouting at him from below. Without being asked, Ella and Mia made their way down from the top, took him by the hands and slid down one on either side of him. It was beautiful to watch and made me immensely proud. Needless to say, the parents were extremely grateful and praised the girls to high heaven. Compliment number 7 for the week. At 1pm we left the slides...and Aidan was still ready for his lunch.

Ok everyone, it's almost time to leave for the ten pin bowling in Ryde. Whilst there I will type the rest of the days action into Word and copy this onto the website when we get back later. It will be quite a late post, possibly around 11pm...but hopefully worth the wait - plenty of things happened at the tree climbing this afternoon! Until later, it's over and out from me. 

10.35pm Hello again everyone, we're back at the hotel. Read on for the continuation of the story...


Right, I’m sitting here at Ryde Superbowl watching the high octane sporting action unfold. We’ve got 6 teams in lanes 1-6…I will keep you posted about scores on the doors. First, let’s rewind to lunchtime at Robin Hill Park.

We split into 2 groups with one group going into the shop and the other eating first. I led the eating group which happily included Aidan who had been asking for lunch for the previous 2 hours. 15 minutes I checked…Aidan enjoyed his lunch.

Oh, by the way, I’m considering setting up an IOW E-Bay account on which you can reclaim all objects/clothing left behind at the various places we’ve visited this week. So far on sale we have 3 rucksacks, 3 I-Pods, a wallet, a pair of sunglasses, 2 baseball caps, a leavers’ hoodie and numerous yellow silicone wristbands. If I fail to establish an account we can always have an interesting one-off special of The Generation Game when we get back to school. “And on the conveyor belt tonight…”

We hopped back on the coach at 2pm and made our way to Ryde and Goodleaf Tree Climbing. The weather was still beautifully sunny and, amazingly, the wind was much lighter in Ryde. The tree is a huge old English oak, a truly beautiful tree to look at and to climb. Several long ropes hung from the many strong limbs of the tree and the children got straight into the action. First to the top straight up alongside the main trunk was Luca who went up the rope like a spider up a drainpipe. Over on the eastern side of the tree a constant happy chattering could be heard in the canopy. It was Eloise giving a running commentary on her progress and loving every minute of the activity. Halfway up the tree she shouted “Look Mr Tindall, at long last I’m actually taller than Ewan” Over on the western limbs, Michael was grunting, huffing and puffing like a Gruffalo. “Hey Mr Tindall, I’m conquering all my fears up here. Get it? Conquering…it’s a horse chestnut tree!” Another cracking line from Michael…it made me laugh and I was happy to overlook the fact that he was one thrd of the way up an English oak ;-)  Following Luca to the top was Danny the Dalek. Such amazing skill will mean I'm cofident Salvatore won’t need to call the fire brigade if he  ever loses his tortoise in a tree.

Other truly notable tree monkeys included Mia, Aoife, Josh and Izzabella who made scaling the highest branches look ridiculously easy. Astronaut Hollie was also pretty amazing…this will be useful as they’ll probably have discovered another planet with trees by the time Hollie is ready to blast off into space in the future. After finishing her climb Hollie said “That’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.” Isabel was all harnessed up and ready to go. “How are you feeling Isabel?” I asked. “Well, this thing feels like a diaper!” she replied with a huge grin. Diaper or not, she climbed brilliantly. Josephine was dangling from her rope and chilling in the sun. “How far are you going Josie?” I asked. “Right to the top…but I’m waiting for Alice, we need to do this together” she replied. I suspect they were planning the first ever Titanic photo shoot taken up a tree.

Down on the ground the staff were working very hard lying on a blanket drinking tea. Mrs Capindale was recovering from her walk to the chemist in Ryde and subsequent emergency ice cream with nuts. Mrs Holt was very impressed with the very high standard of the instructors, particularly Archie and his Gandalf-style beard.. “Look at him, he’s got a long beard AND he’s Scottish; he’s a proper outdoor man” she stated. In the final group was Callum, camouflaged green like a climbing chameleon scurrying up the rope in very impressive fashion. It was typical Callum – no ceremony, no fuss, no shouting from the tree-tops, just top class physical performance. “How did you feel about that?” I asked him once back on terra-firma. “Good” he answered. I like Callum’s style…his understated attitude reminds me very much of Paul Scholes. The tree climbing was fantastic and this was summed up by Meghan who said “This has been the best day so far.” Good call Meghan.

E-Bay product update: New for sale this afternoon: 1 Cardinals netball jacket and 1 red Polo jacket.

Bowling update: After 8 rounds, Team 4 (Samuel, Thomas, Hollie, Mateo and Alice) are in the lead whilst Suzanne is taking all the style points with her sensational dance routine every time she lets go of the ball. They should make that compulsory in all professional bowling competitions…it would bring in huge crowds.

During dinner tonight Gabriel was inspired to proclaim “Now that’s the true Holy Family spirit!” The reason? We were one bowl of soup short and Joseph was the unlucky man out. Without batting an eyelid, Michael said “Jo-Jo, you can have half of mine”. Fantastic…and a snapshot of how incredibly supportive the children have been of each other this week.

Bowling result: 1st Team 4        2nd Team 5         3rd Team 3.

Congratulations to Team 4! (named above)

Individual results: 1st Samuel 147 points   2nd Gabriel 123pts   3rd Joseph 120 pts

Other centurions were: Mateo 112, Eloise 111, Luca 108, Rowan 103 & Caleb 102

Today has been a very enjoyable and successful day. The children are now getting ready to go to bed and get some well earned rest. Tomorrow it's the theatre workshop in the morning followed by sea sports in the afternoon. There will certainly be plenty going on so please check back for the latest updates. I will make one more post tonight once all is quiet at the ranch. Until later...

11.05pm They're obviously very tired, the hotel is as quiet as a convention of monastic mice with laryngitis. It's either all the activity they've done today or the time difference has finally caught up with them. It's amazing how crossing The Solent means we're abroad to so many Year 6 happens every year. Mrs O'Connor has just made me a cup of tea as I work late into the night. Well, when I say cup of tea, half of it has evaporated en route as it's nowhere near the top of the mug.  It's very quiet; even Mrs O'Connor is sitting gazing into space...perhaps she is psyching herself up for sifting through the 3,000 photos she has taken already this week. Once she starts this mammoth task I wll make her a full cup of tea :-)

Tomorrow is our final day on the island. Your children have been fabulous company and incredibly supportive of each other - it's fantastic to witness and has added to the enjoyment for everyone. I hope my inane ramblings are providing you with a slightly bizarre but entertaining window to our world down here. Goodnight and lots of love from everyone here in Sandown. More ramblings in the morning.

The Blog Bloke