Wednesday 6th June
7.30am - Good morning one and all and greetings from Sandown. We have reached the mid-point of the week and all is going very smoothly indeed. We've just enjoyed a very peaceful night where everyone has slept well. Clearly the 31,000 steps done yesterday made everyone feel very tired. I'm in the lounge on the comfy leather sofa. There is no sight or sound of any other members of staff but the girls in room 10 are awake; I can hear them chattering away and discussing today's hairstyle choices. Erin W has just popped her head out of the door, taken one look at me sitting across the room and promptly gone back inside. I don't blame her...it's not the most of endearing of sights when you've just got up. Bertie the orangutan is bent double on one of the other sofas; clearly he is dreaming of all the fun adventures he is about to experience today on the pirate ship at Robin Hill Park...he loves that ride.
The weather outside looks a little brighter today than yesterday but it's not yet enough to get me reaching desperately for the sun cream. Met Office website suggests the possibility of some sun this afternoon so we will make sure all the children are suitably prepared...we're going to be outside all day and very active...Erin's 31,000 steps could be beaten out of sight. Ok, I need to head back upstairs now to wake up the boys and collect this morning's pearls from wisdom. I'll be back soon with an update...
7.55am - Right, I'm back and have been joined in the lounge by Mrs Holt. She has just come out of room 10. Apparently they have set up a co-operative hairdressing salon in there with a little chair in the centre of the room and hair products, brushes and accessories lined up on a table. They are queuing up and taking turns to be styled..that probably explains why Erin popped her head out of the door earlier...no doubt looking for any further customers. By all accounts there is a full range of styles on offer including plaits and braids. Meanwhile...up on the first floor I had a much different experience. There's not much life up there and definitely no co-operative hair salons...or organised queues...or indeed any organisation at all. I asked the same question in each room, starting with room 1 and got the same answer of "probably not". Actually, room 1 didn't even manage that; I simply got a stony silence, drifting tumbleweed and that creepy horror movie music in response to my simple question "Is anyone showering this morning?" Over in room 4 Rocco had simply evaporated from his bed. It was completely empty...no strangely shaped duvet bundle to be seen. I'm a bit tired and this confused me momentarily (which is a fairly common occurance on such trips) but then I remembered that room 4 has 6 beds and only 4 occupants. Rocco has officially decamped to his own exclusive bunk bed accommodation on the opposite side of the room...I expect this was an extremely hazardous journey for him as the David Beckham shower gel, shoe slalom course and the festering mound lie directly on his route.
Ok, breakfast today is 8.30am and we're heading out at 9.30am. I expect the breakfast room will be buzzing with noise so I'm off across the road to ask the builders if I can loan their protective ear defenders. After all, they're only using pneumatic drills whereas I'm involved in close range auditory combat with 30 Year 6 children.
STOP PRESS: Mrs Holt is now speaking to Bertie. I can hear her apologising for his recent neglect which shockingly included forgetting to take him tree climbing yesterday. This is nothing short of a travesty of justice. She's also suggesting to him that he needs a friend. I'm assuming she's referring to another furry long limbed friend rather than yours truly with my Diane Fossey/David Attenborough impersonation. The gift shop at Monkey Haven on Friday morning will be very interesting. Mrs Holt has just told the girls in room 10 they can come out soon so I'm preparing myself for a perfectly organised straight line of stylish hair. More news soon...
STOP PRESS: I've just been back in room 4 and now realise why Rocco has moved bunks. He has literally moved up in the world from the smart car of bunks to a limousine of bunks. His new residence is literally 4 feet longer so he can now actually stretch out. What confuses me even more though (a common occurance as explained earlier) is that Anthony remains in residence on the top bunk of the smart car of bunks...and he's complaining that he keeps banging his head! No wonder he lost his circulation in the oak tree yesterday.
5.25pm - Good afternoon everyone from a gloriously sunny Sandown. We've had a sensational day at Robin Hill Park with clear blue sky and sun all day. The children have had a brilliant time just being children and playing together as friends. It was fabulous to watch them running around so happily and enjoying all the park has to offer. I'm certain they have made memories today that will last them a long time. All the details of the day will be posted later so make sure you check back for the bizarre conversations and discussions that occurred.
Dinner tonight is fruit juice or vegetable soup followed by roast turkey or macaroni cheese finished with chocolate mousse, fruit tart or fruit salad. I'm sure the majority will be ravenously hungry...with the possible exception of anyone who has consumed toxic waste in the last half hour (more in that later). The timings of tonight's postings are like Jose Mourinho's tactics... currently unknown. This is due to the fact that in previous years there has been no Wifi access at Superbowl in Ryde. I will make a quick post after dinner but once in the coach to bowling at 8.15pm I am then into the realms of the unknown. Don't give up on me though...I will post all the exciting action at some point tonight. Hopefully it will be worth the wait. I'm going to sign off here for now before I fall asleep - room 8 are singing a beautiful harmonious tune in their room and it is very captivating. I'm off upstairs back to the reality of a floor of boys...now that will bring me back to life...or knock the life out of me. I'll take my chances so wish me luck. More inane ramblings later...
7.15pm - Dinner finished and it was delicious. Before I rewind to the action from this morning, I will just update you on my latest expedition up the staircase to madness. I popped my head around the door of room 4 just in time to hear Rocco say "180 degrees" from the top bunk of his new limousine-like bed. "Great, is this a maths quiz?" I asked. "Err, no" said Anthony popping his head out of the bathroom. "Rocco is just trying to help me get my hair right as I need 2 mirrors." 10 minutes later when I was revived with smelling salts, I decided Anthony should be booked into the co-operative hairdressing salon in room 10. I immediately headed downstairs to check their appointment schedule.
Ok, enough of the ramblings, let's rewind to this morning...
We left the hotel at 9.30am for the short drive to Robin Hill Country Park. This time Bertie the orangutan had made it on board and was beside himself with excitement. We arrived just in time for opening at 10 am and headed immediately for the immensely popular 4-D simulator ride which this year was showing 'Journey to the West'. This turned out to be set in some sort of futuristic sci-fi world of killer machines outside Las Vegas...imagine how the US will be if Trump wins another term and you've got the picture. The ride was brilliant and the children loved it. Following that we went straight over to Colossus, the pirate ship ride which served up the usual range of high pitched screams, hilarious laughter and manic scaredy-cat faces...all fantastic entertainment. After disembarking the first time, Bella ran up to me with great excitement and said "I've got a selfie with a peacock." before thrusting the camera towards my face. I must admit, the photo did make me chuckle. After 4 or 5 goes on Colossus we moved on to the maze and the children charged inside to tackle the challenge. As they began to find their way out of the other end, the sun found its way out of the maze of clouds for the first time this week and it suddenly felt very much like summer. Indeed it became so warm so quickly that the Leavers 18 hoodies were being shed faster than snakeskin at an Amazonian snakeskin shedding convention.
After the maze, Mrs O'Connor took some individual snapshots of the children at the Duck Down Play Village house where we were joined by a beautiful male peacock which the style twins (in matching t-shirts) described as "looking like a chicken." The peacock took one look at them and stormed off. I'm not surprised...it's like telling David Beckham he looks like Homer Simpson. At 11.30am we settled down to watch the falconry display. Well, most of us settled whereas Mrs Capindale dug a bunker between the benches and hunkered down out of sight. Whilst waiting for the show to start, discussions on the bench alongside me took a decidedly surreal turn when Sammy said out of the blue "Can you imagine an innocent pigeon just flying along minding its own business and then being swooped on by a Peregrine Falcon. That would be so painful."
"Pigeons are not innocent" Finlay replied.
"Why? What have pigeons ever done to you?" Sammy responded.
"Well, seagulls, they're not very nice" Finlay continued. The doctor then joined in by adding "I reckon ants will take over the world. There's literally billions of them crawling everywhere." He's a real font of optimistic doom is Dr Spreadbury; first we've got paralysis inducing jellyfish and now a world invasion of ants. NASA should stop investigating alien life forms and threats from space and concentrate on stocking up on supplies of Nippon.
The conversation then switched seamlessly to how cavemen would deal with ear infections. What this has to do with killer ants, seagulls, pigeons or indeed falcons is well beyond me. Meanwhile, Callum, Oisin and Tienne were over by the bird tent looking at the birds of prey as they prepared for the display. Callum then said "I think that big one is an American hawk." I'm not sure where this assumption came from but it may have had something to do with the fact that its hairstyle bore a striking resemblance to Donald Trump. On the way back to my seat, Isabel asked me "Are falcons a bit like parrots?" I did think momentarily of sending her over to listen in to the boys avian discussion but decided this may do more harm than good so simply shook my head. "No Isabel, they're nothing like parrots." I said.
Ok, I need to stop here as we are about to go ten pin bowling. I will continue the story of the falconry display very soon...
10.40pm - Apologies for the delayed posting folks. This is due to an evening of technical gremlins, mostly the fact that Ryde Superbowl have still not dragged themselves into the 21st century and still do not have a serviceable Wifi connection in there. I have therefore copied and pasted the continuing story of the falconry display below. Enjoy...
9.10pm – I'm sitting in Ryde Superbowl and once again this year the Wifi ‘is not working’. I’m typing on to Word and will copy and paste this later.
So, the falconry display kicked off at Robin Hill. The first question asked by the bird handler was “Is anyone here scared of birds?”. Everyone looked and shook their heads…apart from Mrs Capindale who was crouched low to the ground in her specially constructed anti-falcon trench between the benches. First out to fly was Spike the Eagle Owl. These birds can eat creatures up to the size of a small deer so I did think our part man part mouse was in some potential danger…although he seemed quite oblivious to the threat, was not saying ‘cheese’ and had his bright orange hoodie over his head so I breathed a little easier. Spike took to the air and promptly headed for Mrs Capindale. According to the guide, Spike has more power in his jaws than a Rottweiler; this means he will never be short of job offers in schools as he would be an ideal candidate to guard the SAT’s cupboards across the land. After all, the STA insist on ensuring all papers are kept very securely locked away. We were also told that Spike is not very smart and very clumsy which extends his job opportunities further…an ideal fit to replace the current foreign secretary perhaps?
Following Spike’s somewhat sedate display, next out of the traps was Frankie the Harris Hawk who apparently doesn’t like performing in front of big crowds. This makes Frankie an ideal target for Pep Guardiola to sign for Man City in the transfer window this summer. Final bird out was Vader the tiny American Kestrel…who according to the guide is very nervous and anxious. At this point I was starting to wonder what has happened to the Bird of Prey mental health services…I thought CAMHS were bad but this was getting ridiculous. Anyway, regardless of this, little Vader flew well and entertained the watching children. As the display ended, Isabel turned to me and said “Mr Tindall, one of those birds did look like a parrot.” It’s no wonder those poor raptors have issues with their mental health. I decided at this point to send Isabel to Sammy for a chat.
As we were walking back up the hill for lunch, Sammy was explaining the difference between peacocks and chickens which essentially can be summarised into “Chickens have red mohawks and peacocks have purple mohawks.” Well, there it is, we’re back on hairstyles again. I expect it will be very difficult for Anthony to get an appointment at the co-operative salon if the chicken and the peacock are already booked in for a Mohawk and dye. As we were walking, a pure white albino peacock appeared from behind a huge laurel hedge. “Look everyone, that one has been genetically modified” Callum announced. I’d come back to that concept later in the day.
We took our picnic lunch under the trees then walked down the hill to the brand new Squirrel Tower and Treetop Trail which was fabulous fun for all the children before heading down to the big field at the bottom for two hours of good old fashioned fun & games. This included the giant slide, toboggan run, football, climbing frames and a mass obstacle race challenge which turned out to be a sort of hybrid mix of ‘It’s a Knockout’ & ‘Ninja Warrior’. Anyway, they had a great time and gave their heart and lungs a good old workout. After burning up all that energy it was time for a well-earned ice cream then we caught the big red tractor back up to the 4-D simulator ride for a second viewing of the Journey to the West film. Final action stop of the day was another visit to the Colossus pirate ship where Bertie really let his hair down. He loves that ride. We finished out time at Robin Hill in the shop where I was explaining to Lia how it was inevitable that the boys would buy Toxic Waste. It happens every year . I was hoping this year would be different but wasn’t holding my breath. Ten minutes into the shopping frenzy everything appeared to be going well then I approached the till as Dr Spreadbury was completing his purchase. The brown bag was already closed when I got there but I was not concerned. This, after all, was the doctor. “What have you got Leon?” I asked expectantly. “Toxic Waste” he replied. It did cross my mind that perhaps he was storing this up to defend himself against paralysis-inducing jellyfish but it was a crestfallen moment for the species of man. Following our earlier encounter with the genetically modified peacock, I decided I need to genetically modify the species known as ‘Year 6 boy’. If I can remove the inherent toxic waste gene we could evolve in future years, perhaps towards one day purchasing a fridge magnet, a postcard or a little IOW keyring.
Moving away from the till to clear my head, I was standing alone in a sort of semi-trance when I was approached by Anthony. He pointed to the display in front of me labelled ‘Himalayan Rock Salt Lamps’ and said “Do you think that would taste of salt if you licked it?” I’m now left wondering what is more dangerous: eating toxic waste, licking a salty electric lamp or spending a week in the close company of Year 6 boys? I left the shop in a daze, somehow found my way to the coach and closed my eyes.
Ok, it’s now 9.50pm and I’m back in real time with live news from the ten pin bowling, I can exclusively reveal that the 2018 team winners are Lane 5 with 478 points. The victorious team are: Callum, Olivia F, Oisin, Jessica & Bella. Well done Lane 5!
The individual results (including all children at 100 points or more) are:
8th Evie 100 points
6th Rocco & Isabelle 102
5th Lia 104
3rd Anthony & Bella 105
2nd Olivia F 108
1st and 2018 Ten pin bowling Champion Lukas 118 points.
10.45pm - I'm back typing live from the leather sofa in the lounge. The children are enjoying a night cap and talking a lot...again. Isabelle is sitting alongside me carrying out her own analysis of the bowling performances. 102 points and joint 6th place is a fantastic result for her. The doctor is sitting on the floor gazing vacantly into space but this is what happens when you take on board toxic waste. He will need to learn the hard way for now. The noise appears to be getting louder which is a trifle worrying as we rapidly approach 11pm. They must be exhausted by now...Mrs Holt will need to get out the swinging watch on a chain and start reciting "You are feeling very sleepy, you are feeling very sleepy..." I'm still trying to come to terms with Bella's declaration on the way back into the hotel tonight when, after spotting a daddy longlegs thingy, she said "I hate all things with legs." I'm assuming this must include cats, dogs, birds monkeys, humans, chairs, tables and camera tripods but means she's quite fond of snakes, worms, fish and sharks. She'll therefore by definition be right at home in the sea tomorrow afternoon.
Mrs Holt is now into full pre-sleep chat but this has been cleverly diverted by the children into a discussion about party outfits for tomorrow night. The style twins don't seem overly fussed but then again they have their identical outfits all sorted. We're now onto financial and budgetary advice as well as retail advice which is probably a good time to shut up shop for the night. Mrs Holt has now strategically employed her whispery voice...let's hope it works. I will post one final submission soon...
11.20pm - Lights are out on the upper floor so hopefully all will be asleep soon. From room 4 I'm pleased to report that the David Beckham 'Respect' shower gel, which has been disrespected on the floor all week has finally found a new home on top of the bedside cabinet. Things are indeed looking up. Despite this tiny morsel of progress up there, the threat to health levels in the world of the boys rooms remains at critical. Everything is abnormal...which ironically is normal for the boys. The staff are tentatively moving into partial relaxation mode as I note that the sour cream and jalapeno crisps and Pepsi Max are out...we know how to throw a party on a Holy Family residential.
Thank you to everyone who continues to follow my inane ramblings. If you have stayed with it so far you deserve a medal for your perseverance. Thank you also for supporting the school and providing this once in a lifetime opportunity for your children. They are enjoying an amazing week and today they will have made more memories that will last them a very long time. It was wonderful to watch them just being children at Robin Hill Park today, playing so happily and so freely together; it is a privilege to share these special moments with them.
Tomorrow we have an early start at the Shanklin Theatre workshop then it's a bit of shopping and Wight Water surfboarding all topped off with the party night. Another action packed day which is bound to serve up plenty more classic comed moments alongside the memorable ones. Until tomorrow, it's love, kisses and hugs from all the children in Bertram Lodge. Next update in the morning before breakfast at 8am.
The Blog Bloke