7.20am Good morning good people of Addlestone. Morning has broken in Sandown and I'm delighted to report that the sun has come out...this is more like it. The trees across the road are still swaying a little so I guess the wind hasn't completely died away yet but I think there will definitely be a call for using sun cream today. I'm sitting here in the comfort of the lounge with only the orang utan for company. He's clearly an early riser becaues he's sitting up bright and alert on the leather sofa...he's obviously excited about going to Robin Hill Park this afternoon.
Wednesday is the mid-point of the trip and naturally finds me in reflective mood. Despite the difficult weather yesterday it has been a very successful trip to date. This is down, in no small part, to the many children in the group who simply go about their trip in a quiet, co-operative and helpful way so now is my time to put some of their names up in Las Vegas style neon lights. The likes of Megan, Emily, Ghia, William, Amit, Ellie, Emilia, Jacques may not have featured in this publication as much as some others to date but they are more than playing their part in having a fabulous trip...and, to coin famous football phrase, 'it's a game of two halves' so make sure you keep reading. I never really know where the blog is going- that is directed by spontaneous events and comments made- but like any soap opera, there are always twists and turns and different characters dipping in and out of view.
Re-winding to last night for a moment, I popped into Room 8 before lights out to check on the impact of Mrs Holt's motivational pre-sleep call to arms. The boys were also in very reflective mood. Kian was admiring his reflection in the bathroom mirror and the others, led by Joseph, were holding an in-depth debate about taxidermy. Clearly the strange collection of creatures at the Swiss Cottage had struck a chord. I was invited to join in.
Joseph: "What do you think of people stuffing animals Mr Tindall?"
Mr T: "I don't agree with it. Don't see the point really"
Joseph: "Why did the Victorians do it then?"
Mr T: "Well, they were in to that sort of thing. They used to hold special curiosity shows with all sorts of strange creatures and people with features that perhaps were different to others. I guess they found it fascinating."
Kian: "Oh yes, I've heard of those before"
Joseph: "What, like people with 6 fingers on one hand?"
Mr T: "Yes, that's right:
Akindu: "Or a man with strange bumps on his skin"
Joe W: "Or a man with 2 ears!"
At this point the room fell deadly silent as the pause button was pressed. The tumbleweed blew across the room and we all turned to Joe who was perched cross-legged on his lower bunk. It was left to Lucas to state the inevitable...
Lucas: "But surely having 2 ears makes you normal Joe...you wouldn't get in the show"
Joe (looking a little bemused) "No, I meant 2 ears...on one side of his head" he explained.
The room erupted into laughter and I must admit it was a fabulous note on which to end the day. And...it worked, because the curiosity kids, including Joe and his 2 ears, were soundly asleep within 20 minutes. Marvellous. Right, time to get the first post of the day up on the website. Here goes...
8am...Mrs Holt and Mrs Capindale have just arrived in the lounge. Mrs Holt has gone straight to the window. "Look at that sun...that's more like it" she has just said with a big smile followed by "Good morning matey" to the orang utan. Priceless. Apparently all the girls are still asleep upstairs. Why can't the boys adopt a similarly chilled approach to mornings? Right, I'm off to get ready for breakfast. I have a feeling today will be spectacular so check back later for updates. The main post could be late tonight as we're off ten pin bowling and there's no wifi in there so apologies in advance for any delays in reading all about the action of the day.
Until later...bye bye everyone...
5.45pm Good afternoon everyone, I'm back. We have just returned from a fantastic day out, blessed by beautiful, warm sunshine this afternoon. The children have had such fun and are all in tremendous spirits. Roast turkey dinner is in ten minutes so this is just a very quick post. Following dinner I will send another quick post then we are off to ten pin bowling in Ryde. Historically there is no wifi in Superbowl so it is unlikely I will be able to do the main post until quite late tonight. I hope it will be worth the wait...we've certainly had some laughs today!
7pm Wow, dinner was fabulous. Proper turkey, proper roasties, proper veg and treacle sponge for pudding :-) Ok, we are leaving for the bowling in about half an hour so I've got the opportunity for a quick update so, let's rewind to events of this morning...
8.45am - I popped upstairs to see how the other half live. Mrs Capindale's hair salon was open and Ella was booked in for a repeat plait. "You're making a good job of that Mrs Capindale and Ella is very quiet. Have you sedated her?" I enquired. "Could you give me some to try on Room 8?" I asked. Ella grinned. Mrs O'Connor laughed. The first floor shook a little. "That's looking like rope now, it's really neat" Mrs O'Connor said and this brought a smile from Mrs Capindale. "All you need to do now is spray it yellow, fray the ends a bit and it will be a monkey" I added. Venere suddenly appeared at the door of Room 4. Judging by her somewhat unkempt hair, I assumed she had booked the next appointment with Mrs Capindale. It was all too much for me by this stage so I headed back downstairs to re-join the generally chaotic, crazy world of the boys. We packed up and, just before leaving for the day, I glanced into Room 8. Oh my days (as Joseph would say), how can those boys claim to be in contention for the tidiest room competition? A cuddly creature lay spreadeagled in the middle of the floor, there were odd slippers strewn everywhere and an incendiary device had clearly exploded inside Lucas' suitcase. The SAS were also stationed on top of the wardrobe with their automatic weapons trained on a large mound festering in the corner of the room. I was going to venture inside but decided it would be better to contact the national health & safety executive first. And, after our conversation in there last night about taxidermy, I was a little worried there could be a small army of stuffed creatures hiding beneath the festering mound. I turned around and sent Lucas in there instead :-). Around 9.30am we boarded the coach and set sights on the very short drive to Dinosaur Isle.
Ok, sorry folks but it's time for me to get ready to go bowling. I will spend the time at Superbowl typing up today's action into Word which can hopefully be quickly copied and pasted here when we get back. There's plenty to read about so please check back later. For now, it's byeeeeeee from Sandown.
We arrived at Dinosaur Isle bang on time at 10am and headed straight out onto the beach for the fossil hunt with our guide Fred Smasha-Flintstone…or was he called Alex? (more about him later). He told the children that for something to be classed as a fossil it needs to fulfil 3 criteria:
It must be at least 10,000 years old
There must be evidence that the creature/plant was alive at some time in the past
They must have changed in some way
As he was speaking, I was ticking things off in my head. Following the resignation of Sepp Blatter yesterday and therefore fulfilling criteria 3, FIFA are now officially fossils. Walking along to the beach I caught up with ‘the Velcro twins’ Sophie and Emily who have been stuck together all week. It has been lovely to watch them having such a fantastic time in each other’s company since we left school on Monday. Soon the fossil hunting was under way. I’ve never been any good at it so I simply stood back and watched the action unfold. This class proved to be prolific foragers and beach combers. In fact, there was more combing going on than at a 1980’s big hair band reunion festival. Ella found a 125 million year old fossilized tree, Ellie unearthed a 120 million year old fish backbone and then Benson dug up the find of the day. It was a 120 million year old fossilized crocodile bone. As this was being announced by Mr Smashastone, Calvin appeared wearing his crocodile cap and looking rather animated. He clearly recognised the fossil as a distant ancestor…whose name, apparently, was Kuonpiodontasuchus Aprosdokiti which apparently translates as ‘unexpected button-toothed crocodile’ . I’m sure I’ve seen that spelling before…oh yes, I remember now…it was one of the easier ones on the Level 6 SPAG paper last month.
Despite all the amazing finds, Joseph was having no luck. He collected enough rocks to rebuild the Great Wall of China and kept delivering them to the guide. The verdict became all too familiar…”Sandstone”. “Sandstone”. “That’s a sandstone”, “Oh, wait a minute…no, that’s a sandstone as well.” Eventually he conceded defeat. “This is just not up my alley” he declared with a shrug of his shoulders. Further up the beach I came across Monique who was clearly in serious training for the ‘World’s Strongest Woman’ competition. She was attempting to lift a rock the size of a small container ship reminiscent of that marble slabs thing they do on the TV. The rock was winning but not for long as Angelica appeared and the hauled it off the sand between the two of them. Shortly afterwards I discovered that Ghia is also in training for the very same event. Judging by the weight of her rucksack, she is a major contender for this title. The pack was either full of rocks or Ghia is the travelling rep for Room 4’s cosmetics and perfume exports. I then bumped into Joe W who also had a heavily loaded back pack. He is obviously preparing for the World Weightlifting Championships for people with 2 ears.
Back in the museum we went in to look at the exhibits and, as always, the children responded enthusiastically, working hard in their pairs to complete the worksheet of challenges. Sam was really interested in every exhibit and clearly quite knowledgeable so I decided not to try my little trick question on him. I approached a different group and asked them “Have you found the dinosaur made up of many misshapen pieces yet? I asked. Blank looks were all I got. “It’s called Jigsaurus” I told them…before moving away to leave them pondering. Over at the ‘dinosaur sounds’ exhibit I met up with Calvin. With his usual impeccable dry-wit, straight-faced comedy timing he simply listened and said “Sounds like my dad when he’s asleep” before moving on to the next task. Marvellous, utterly marvellous. At the ‘what could dinosaurs smell’ zone I lifted a flap and got an unpleasant shock. It smelled remarkably like Room 8. No wonder the SAS are in there on top of the Narnia wardrobe… something prehistoric is clearly on the loose under that festering mound in Room 8. As everyone finished and moved into the shop I stayed behind to supervise 3 very interested young ladies who were deep in conversation with one of the experts in the research centre. Emilia, Mary and Saskia were totally engrossed in the array of fossils, bones and other prehistoric creatures on display. They were asking superb questions; I was exceptionally proud of all of them. As we moved to join the others in the shop Emilia said “I could have stayed there all day, it’s amazing.” This is why residential visits for Year 6 children are invaluable learning experiences. After a quick shopping frenzy we got back on the coach and made the short journey to Robin Hill Park.
After a picnic lunch on the grass at Robin Hill we went inside the park. First stop was the 4-D Motion Simulator ride which was great fun then we went to watch the falconry display led by the very interesting and informative Scottish chap and his brilliant birds of prey. Mrs Capindale took up a very defensive position protected by a wooden bench, Mrs Osborn and Mrs Holt in order to avoid any repeat encounters with low flying buzzards. After last year she was clearly taking no chances. Fortunately for Mrs Capindale, out flying today were Patrick the Peregrine Falcon and Swoop the Saker Falcon. There were no buzzards. Patrick flew and dived and soared to the powerful beat of 'The Boys are Back in Town' by Thin Lizzy and then Swoop put on an amazing display to the theme tune from Top Gun. At one point he actually swooped so low and at such terrific speed that it almost shaved the hairs off the head of William, Daniel and Joe...or maybe Swoop was after one of Joe's ears...after all, he has got two which apparently is unusual :-) After the birds we walked to the toboggan and slides area for some good old fashioned charging around fun. Alex and Ella came charging over after their ride, which they had done as a tandem. Quite why our two tallest girls would choose to squeeze onto a toboggan together beats me although I expect this was a financial decision. If it was, it turned out to be quite a shrewd one. "Ours broke down when we went round the bend!" they were shouting. I went round the bend a along time ago myself so I could understand where they were coming from. Apparently the reason for the breakdown was 'too many stones under the wheels' which is one I may sell to National Rail as an alternative to leaves on the line. Anyway, ever the entrepeneurs, and fully in keeping with the children maturing this week, they went to report this mishap. They were clearly very persuasive in their report as they were fully re-imbursed...and promptly treated themselves to an ice cream. Very shrewd indeed :-)
Megan also summed up the terrific learning experiences of a residential journey when she said "I really didn't want to hold the snake yesterday but I did. I knew if I didn't that I would regret it for the rest of my life." This is what coming to the Isle of Wight is all about. I'm very proud of her. Over on the helter skelter slide, one of the boys said "This is the best school trip ever". Standing alongside me enjoying his ice cream in the sun, William summed everything up very concisely indeed. "Of course it is...we're with our friends, we are the best school and it is sunny. What more do we need?" I couldn't have put it better myself.
Penultimate stop in the park was the giant pirate galleon which was simply superb. Unsurprisingly after watching the intense swinging of the ship, Orang utan was desperate to join us so I took him on there. He sat with Saskia and I in the centre of the ship with Saskia directly opposite Lucas. What followed next was quite simply one of the funniest things I have seen in a long long time whilst Saskia was almost apoplectic at what she witnessed. Alongside me, Orang utan felt totally at home. Once the boat started to really go, Lucas transformed into the wild man of Borneo. He has the best screamy scaredy face I've ever seen. It was totally brilliant. If it could have been filmed close up it would become a world-wide hit. I was laughing so much I was in danger of requiring medical assistance. This one event will stay with me for a long time...I'm actually still chuckling to myself now as I type this up :-) As we stepped off the ship, Calvin weighed in his inimitable understated style when he said "That's another fear conquered. Snakes yesterday, heights today, so that just leaves arachnophobia and I'm all done". Tremendous...I wonder where we can find some spiders before Friday? Last stop was the maze where I sent the occupant of Room 8 in first...well, you never know your luck do you...although having said that, if they can find their way through the mess on the floor to their door in Room 8, I expect the Robin Hill maze is a piece of cake. Anyway, they went in first but first out was Joey...maze conquered in a typically stylish manner by our star girl footballer. Emily then said "I've had such a lovely day. I love the beach and the afternoon has been great. I really can't wait until tomorrow...this is just the best."
On the way out we went into the shop where the girls were sensibly buying souvenirs while the boys were engaged in a sweets, sherbet, fizzy drinks and guns fest on the other side of the shop.The inevitable sugar rush makes this a highly dangerous combination :-) We walked back to the coach...the very last vehicle of any sort left in the car park. We know how to do things properly at Holy Family.
10.45pm Good evening everyone, I'm now back in real time. We're back in the hotel, the children have gone to bed and lights are out...although no-one is yet asleep in Rooms 7 and 8 as I can hear them talking. The ten pin bowling was great fun and it was a real privilege to simply sit and watch the sheer joy and happiness on the faces of all the children as they enjoyed an evening of entertainment with their friends. Memories like these are priceless for them and it serves to remind me why I continue to do the job I do. As always they were impeccably behaved and fabulous company; the room simply buzzed with celebration...although by the end of the evening it was only the girls wearing the smiles. Not content with literally wiping the floor with the boys in the tidiest room competition, the proceeded to shine as the star bowlers. It is customary for me to post the top 3 scorers from the bowling but tonight I am going to break that tradition so that I can get a boy on the roll of honour. So, here are the scores on the doors from Ryde Superbowl:
1st Sophie 145 points
2nd Sophia 134 points
3rd Emily 128 points
4th Venere 123 points
5th Emilia 116 points
6th= Joey and AMIT (Yesssssssssssssss!!!!!!) 115 points
Congratulations Sophie...Queen of the bowling lanes by a convincing margin. Well done Sophia on the runners-up slot...and all done in such a poised and elegant style :-)
The team award went to Lane 12 with a combined total of 567 points so congratulations to Emily, Venere, Philippa, William and the man with 2 ears.
Right, I'm just going for a short break...I will post one final update before I retire for the night...please don't get too excited, I'm not 'retiring' in the full sense of the word just yet...best put those flags, jelly and ice cream away for a little while longer...
11.50pm Wednesday is almost over and the staff have made final arrangements for the fun and festivities tomorrow. Hopefully the sun will shine again, the wind will drop a little more on the beach and everything will be perfect. Earlier breakfast tomorrow as we need to be at the theatre for 9.30am. Until the morning, it's over and out from all your children and the staff here in Sandown.