Wednesday 7th June
All news will be posted here
Morning everyone, it’s another glorious sunny morning here in Sandown, although the breeze looks a little stronger out there today. We’re set for all the action-packed fun of Robin Hill Park including the rides, the park and bird of prey display. We’ve had a very quiet night which is not surprising considering the amount of energy used up by the children yesterday. Everyone has slept well and the waking up rounds have been done.
Up on the first floor this morning, room 2 was like a scene from The Lord of the Rings. Amongst the mounds of festering clothing there was a golden glint on the floor and a lone hand trailing from beneath the duvet on a lower bunk, desperately seeking the treasure. I felt like Gollum as I swooped and picked up a gold ring. Year 6 boys’ rooms, although hazardous, are the gift that keeps giving. Nicholas, Louie, Charlie and the Jacks were in good spirits up there…if somewhat very bleary eyed.
Across the hall in room 6, I noticed that several items of clothing were strewn across the top of the chest of drawers. This included a black tracksuit jacket which was half in/half out of the second drawer. I’m not sure if it was trying to fight its way out of the drawer or seeking safety within it. At least it was trying, unlike the large bottle of Nivea Kids Factor 50 and the water bottle which did their best to trip me up as I traversed the room. I’ll be filling in the application for danger money later this evening.
Meanwhile, down on the ground floor, there are problems but it’s a different world. The Shed Crew are apparently in turmoil as they can’t decide whether the pairs of shoes should be prioritised by rainbow colours, shoe size or style. Little do they know that upstairs, we’re struggling to even find a matching pair of shoes. As if to prove my point, of a sort, Louie has arrived downstairs with his first words of the day to Mrs Holt being “I can’t find my hat.” He is part of the Lord of the Rings movie up in room 2 so it’s probably currently being worn by a goblin at a rave in Mordor.
Mrs Capindale reports that the girls in room 1 are adopting a very relaxed approach to the day. It’s only 10 minutes until breakfast and they are apparently ‘still lounging about in their pyjamas’. Ok, it’s now 7.57am so I’ll get this posted as it’s 3 minutes until breakfast.
The Shed Crew have arrived and report they slept well and have resolved their shoe dilemma. It’s rainbow order with red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, 3 shades of pink, Pepper’s rainbow crocs, white and finally black. It must truly be an artistic sight to behold.
I’ll be back later with all the updates from Robin Hill. Bye for now…
Very quick update, we’ve had an amazing day at Robin Hill and it’s now time for dinner. Check back later tonight (after 10pm) for a full and detailed report of all the madcap action and goings-on. Hopefully, it will be worth the wait. I’ll be sitting in the foyer of Shanklin Theatre this evening typing away furiously whilst the children and staff enjoy the performance. If I’m fast enough, I may get up to date by the time the show is finished…and I’ll preserve my hearing for another year 😊
Everyone is happy, healthy and already tucking into their food so I’d best go and join them…
I’ve found a seat in the foyer of Shanklin Theatre, the main doors are open and there’s a cool breeze so I’m all set to rewind to the events of the day. Here we go…
After another delicious breakfast, we hopped on the coach and made the short journey to Robin Hill Park. On the way there, one of the boys somewhere in the middle of the coach said “Look, there’s a grey cow, he must be old.”
I guess once I go fully grey, I will therefore be classed as old…which left me wondering how many more trips to the IOW I may squeeze whilst only being semi-old. I decided it was not worth dwelling on and asked Mrs Holt if she had any more chocolate limes. In typical HFS style, we were the first coach in the car park so we quickly disembarked and headed for the entrance. 10 minutes later, we were first through the door which led Jack B to say “I’ve never been first into a theme park in my life.”
I pointed out that technically, if he was doing a Y6 SAT’s SPAG paper, they’d probably insist in the mark scheme that he was incorrect as Charlie had managed to be ahead of him and first over the threshold. We both agreed that a technical inaccuracy at Robin Hill was far more enjoyable than anything in a SPAG paper. First stop in the park was the 4-D motion theatre where we enjoyed 3 different spectacular rides:
Amazon, Great Wall of China and The Wild West. I am reliably informed by the girls that the louder you scream, the more you are enjoying yourself so, by that yardstick, the children had a wonderful time. I was in there with Miss Hunter and Miss Forsyth for the first two rides then Mrs Holt took over for the third one. As they came out, I asked “What was it Mrs Holt?”
“It was a ninja motorbike chase to rescue some baby monkeys in the wild west” she replied. This sounds like a documentary movie about America under the Trump administration…but probably far less chaotic. Anyway, they all seemed to enjoy it so we made our way first to the maze then to the Colossus pirate galleon for some stomach-churning motion. On the way I caught up with Florence and Amelie who were trying to make sense of the Trump administration documentary. They were clearly confused. “Why did the baby monkey even come out of the crystal ball at the end?” was the line I heard first. I’m sure there are plenty of US citizens who can relate to such confusion.
Over at the maze, Louie was first through the gate. I warned him about the dangers of getting lost in there and told him to shout if he went down any dead ends. “If that happens, don’t worry, it will make you more qualified to get the Spurs job should the deal with that Posta fellow from Celtic fall through” I assured him. ‘Escape from the maze’ became one large game of 34 plus Miss Hunter and Miss Forsyth. Louie got lost several times but eventually found his way out with a smile. His credentials for the Spurs job were increasing. Miss Hunter than ran a ‘Fastest Maze Escape’ competition which was won in 1 minute 8 seconds by Oskar and Tito before we arrived at Colossus.
“I’m sitting right in the middle as it won’t be so tippy” said Darcey.
“Is tippy an actual word? Was it in your SPAG lessons?” I asked her with a smile.
“Probably not…but it’s allowed if you’re really nervous” Darcey replied. Good point and one I agreed with entirely. I think I may write to the DfE and QCA with this suggestion for the 2024 assessments. Bring on the common sense people. Off they all went and the amount of screaming and faces of pained anguish suggested they were having the time of their lives. ‘Let’s go on again’ was the general consensus so they loaded up for voyage 2. Interestingly, I noticed Darcey had alreadt abandoned her ‘sitting in the middle to avoid tippiness strategy’ and was up in the daredevil row second to the back. I’m hoping the DfE stick to my new nervousness leniency policy longer than one ride. Sitting alongside Darcey was Louie who was displaying a staggering range of scaredy-screamy expressions. I got Mrs Holt to zoom in with the camera as these will severely strengthen his touchline suitability for the role as Spurs boss in 2023-2024.
Down in the tranquil viewing area, Theo had declared he wasn’t a great fan of swinging rides so had sensibly sat it out. Beau approached to offer some advice, encouragement and moral support. This was positive. Beau is a very positive kind of guy. I felt very optimistic I was about to witness a very positive and inspirational speech.
“It’s great fun Theo, you’ll really enjoy it…”
Great stuff Beau. I knew I could rely on you…but Beau hadn’t quite finished
“You’ll enjoy it, it just feels like all your internal organs are being forced out of your body” followed by a smile and a casual nod of the head. I wasn’t convinced that Theo was now convinced pirate ship rides were for him.
Next stop was the 11.30am bird of prey flying display on the huge sloping field. We took our seats in the front two rows and eagerly awaited the start. Mrs Capindale disappeared and was next seen hunkered down in the grass in the ‘Dog viewing area’…without a dog. Not that it seemed to bother her in the slightest…although Leah was concerned about the lack of dog accompaniment. “Don’t worry, I have a plan for next time” I told her.
First bird out in flight was Spike the Eurasian Eagle Owl. These are actually an indigenous species to the UK sadly were hunted to near extinction by the end of the 18th century. Apparently, they have more crushing power in each foot than a rottweiler has in its jaws…which probably explains why rottweiler applications for UK visas were non-existent before the late 1800’s. There’s no way they would have wanted to take on a Eurasian Eagle Owl.
Second bird on display was Baldrick the American Harris Hawk. These birds are exceptionally adaptable and are the 4th most intelligent bird in the world. This means they would officially make the ‘Avian Brains’ team on University Challenge and also makes them massively over-qualified to be the next President of the United States. They are also known as ‘the wolves of the sky’ as they use their incredible intelligence to hunt their prey in packs across a variety of habitats. This includes (and it’s a true fact) a population in the city of Las Vegas… where they hunt down unsuspecting/inebriated gamblers after they leave the roulette tables with all their winnings. Ok, it’s stretching the truth there a little but they are staggeringly beautiful and intelligent creatures. Anatomically, the Harris Hawk is as close as you can get on Earth to the gait and movement of the dinosaurs. For this reason, the producers of the Jurassic Park movies used them to model all the raptor movements in the films…apart, obviously, from the really grisly and ungainly ones which they modelled on Ofsted inspectors.
Bird 3 was Saxon the Gyrsaker Falcon which was a beautiful light grey hybrid bred from crossing an Arctic Gyr Falcon with a Saker Falcon. These are the largest falcons on the planet but they are suffering badly in the wild from climate change as their natural habitat is the Arctic. We need to get our skates on and do more to protect our beautiful planet.
The final bird to fly was Fergus the Ferruginous Buzzard who is renowned for making one fleeting appearance before disappearing into the distance. Interestingly, buzzards are generally seen as being quite lazy, only doing what they need to and no more… a bit like Anthony Martial with feathers and talons. Fergus promptly appeared, flew around for a minute then disappeared into the trees where he probably found a bench to sit on. Enough said.
With the display over, Mrs Capindale magically reappeared from inside a large, thick bush in the dog viewing area. Leah has been joined by Maisy who was also concerned about Mrs Capindale’s emotional wellbeing. I realised I definitely need to have a plan for next time. In my office, I have a large Scooby Doo toy that sits by my desk. Next year I’m bringing him and he can sit with Mrs C in the dog viewing area. Job done.
After eating a picnic lunch, we walked down to the lower field where the HFS answer to David Bailey snapped more classy photos of each child on the bouncy Japanese wooden bridge. It’s going to be a very special set of snaps this year as we’ve had bright sunny days and amazing sunsets. Once we had found a base for our bags, instructions were given out and the children had 90 minutes of great fun on a variety of activities. The toboggan run was a popular starting point where Amelie shone as a potential F1 driver and ‘the best sound effects on a toboggan’ award went to Darcey, Florence and Amelia for their wide variety of screams, squeals and giggles.
After a whole class game of ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ organised by Miss Hunter on the brand new water-filled giant bouncy inflatable thing, we went on to the field to hold the 2023 IOW penalty shootout competition. Goalkeeper, as always, was The Blog Bloke; things were looking good this year for the penalty takers as not only was the goalmouth bare of grass, it also had more rocks than Sandown Beach. I’m not diving on that was my first and only thought. It’s a simple competition to understand – anyone can enter, one penalty, score and you’re through, miss and you’re out. In the end, it came down to a head-to-head between Siobhan and Beau, with the former having two chances to win it. In the end though, it was Beau who triumphed as he calmly thundered one into the bottom corner with the GK rooted amongst the rocks. Congratulations to Beau and to mum Michelle who has obviously been coaching him to take penalties under pressure. Beau’s comment at the end was brilliant as he said “Is there a prize? Wait a minute, I don’t need a prize, I’m the penalty champion of the IOW and that’ll do for me.” Sums the boy’s attitude up perfectly 😊
The penalty shootout had obviously inspired Mrs Holt as she was engaged in a head-to-head-to-head headstand competition with Amelia and Miss Forsyth. Mrs Holt was immediately installed as odds-on favourite. I know that Amelia is a highly talented gymnast but Mrs Holt has perfected this technique, in the black hole of her classroom cupboard, night after night over many years between September and May as a destressing routine. This is what happens when you are forced, year on year, to prepare Year 6 for SAT’s. According to Mrs Holt, it’s good for you as all the blood rushes to your head…which makes it the perfect pose to adopt if you ever get sucked into a black hole. I’m going to discuss this with Claudia to find out if a headstand will counteract all the blood being sucked into your feet.
It was a highly impressive competition with some amazing balance on display from all three contestants but, yet again, Mrs Holt triumphed. I think a strong gust of wind blew Amelia off balance but Mrs Holt is taking it...at least it will give her something to share with the traumatised orangutans when she gets back to school. We then meandered our way back up the hill where we enjoyed a couple of final rides on Colossus and one last blast on the 4-D motion simulator. Amelie, clearly inspired by unveiling her Bee-lieve Foundation t-shirt, had decided it was her time to brave the Colossus pirate galleon. Inspired by Amelie’s approach, Siobhan also decided to go for it and, despite Beau’s previous warning about the dangers of his internal organs being forced out, Theo was also in the queue. All 3 went on the ride and I couldn’t have been prouder of them. This is what a Year 6 residential is all about – breaking down barriers, stepping out of the comfort zone, facing down fears and conquering them. Absolutely wonderful…and they all went back on a second time. Self-esteem credit in the bank.
Back at the hotel, we enjoyed another tasty dinner before jumping back on the coach for the short journey to Shanklin Theatre. This year’s show was called ‘Thumbs Up’ which was set in Roman times and featured a whole host of popular modern songs. An interesting combination I know but, as I was sitting in the foyer to avoid suffering the early onset of tinnitus, I can’t really explain what was going on in there with the storyline. Regardless, the children absolutely loved it. The high-pitched screaming and hoarse voices at the end were more than proof of that. Official show review critics Ruby, Pepper, Naisha & Amy explained ‘it was all about gladiators, Caesar, his wife, Cleopatra and a weak guy and there was a fight and the weak guy killed the gladiator but it was in his armpit’. It makes even less sense now and it sounds like it won’t be winning an Oscar any time soon but they absolutely loved it and that’s all that matters.
It’s now 10.13pm and almost time for lights out. I’ll be back for a short post once everyone has settled.
11.13pm and I’m back on the red leather sofa with our utterly amazing staff team who are gradually winding down. It’s gone very quiet in the hotel over the last 20 minutes or so which means another spectacular day of memory-making is drawing to a conclusion. On the lights out route tonight we’ve noticed that screaming on a combi-ticket of 4-D motion cinema, Colossus and the bizarre Caesar/ weak man/gladiator pop show has resulted in more croaky throats than a convention of frogs with heavy colds.
Mrs Holt is reflecting on another successful day whilst stroking her cuddly guinea pig bought at Robin Hill this afternoon. She’s delighted that it has four feet and feels this makes it £10 well spent. I’m no rodent expert but the last time I looked, I’m sure it was usual for them to have four feet. I suppose, when you’re a species named ‘Guinea pig’ and you’re not from Guinea or indeed a pig, having four feet is something worth celebrating. Mrs Holt has now named her Guinea pig Mr B in memory of a real guinea pig pet fondly remembered. I’ve checked and the real one also had four feet.
Tomorrow we’re off to Sandown Beach in the morning to take part in Water Sports which, depending on wave conditions, will either be surfing or bodyboarding. Whatever it is, it will be entertaining and we’ll get it all recorded for you. In the afternoon we’re back on the beach for the sandcastle competition, beach games and some souvenir shopping. There could be lots of walking again…although Mrs Capindale has been engaged in some intense negotiations with our driver Shiv, to broker a deal to get dropped off and picked up by the beach. “I’m doing everything I can to avoid walking up Heart Attack Hill again” she explained to me. That’s what I like, proactive staff thinking outside the box.
We’ve now passed the half way point on the trip and hopefully you’re enjoying picking up a small flavour of the huge fun the children are having down here. The weather has been utterly perfect since we left Addlestone...let’s hope that continues until we’re home. They’re having a great time and impressing people wherever we go.
For now, it’s goodnight and lots of love from everyone here in The Wighthill Hotel.
See you all in the morning. Sleep well.
The Blog Bloke