Wednesday 8th June
The midway point of the trip...find out how it's all going on this page
7.30am - Good morning all on day 3 from by the sea. This is the Blog Bloke reporting live on another glorious start to the day. The sky is blue and all the occupants of rooms down here on Ground Zero appear to have slept well...indeed some remaining sleeping as I type. Room 10 are showing more life than Room 8 it has to be said...although clearly the occupants of Room 10 are not immune from the deadly booby traps in there. 5 minutes ago, after tiptoing through the carnage and land mines, I had the following conversation:
Mr T: "Morning boys, how are we all today? Did we sleep well?"
Toby: "Yes, very well thank you...apart from nearly breaking my neck."
Like myself, you are all probably wondering how a neck can nearly be broken when sleeping on a lower bunk but this is the reality of life in Room 10...merely crossing the threshold of that place puts you in mortal danger...just ask Mrs Holt :-). Speaking of Mrs Holt, she has just arrived down stairs with Mrs Capindale to once again brighten my day...
"Mr T: "Morning Mrs Holt, how are things up in the Alpine meadows today?"
Mrs H: "Fine thank you...Inuki is just making all the beds in her room"
Mrs C: "Yes, I said to her, Inuki are you having a shower this morning and she replied yes...but I need to make all the beds first"
According to Mrs Holt you 'could bounce a 10p off them, they are so crisp." It makes me despair...we look like a herd of excited elephants on spacehoppers have bounced through the rooms down here. Room 8 are very sleepy-eyed this morning although Vincent (who informed me yesterday he 'was an early riser') was at least sitting up in his bunk trying to make some sense of what I was saying.
It's a very relaxed start to the day which is good; midway through the trip we all need a few moments to draw breath...even if drawing breath in Room 10 does require the use of breathing apparatus. Breakfast is at 8.30am and then we will make the short journey to Robin Hill Park where fun and frolics await. This wil include the legendary falconry display (Mrs Capindale is already showing early signs of avian anxiety), the pirate ship and 4-D simulator ride, toboggan and giant slide, gardens, games, the maze and much more.
Ok, time to get those boys moving...I've just heard Mrs Holt telling them 'tidying up in there might be a good plan". Good luck with that one Mrs Holt!
5.15pm - Good afternoon everyone, we have returned from our latest adventures and have 45 minutes until dinner. This should give me enough time to give you all a little update on the goings on of the day. We've enjoyed another absolute scorcher, particularly this afternoon when it has been especially warm and Robin Hill Park looked stunning. So, let's now rewind to this morning...
We arrived at Robin Hill (or Robert Gardens as Gracie called it) at 9.55am, just before the park opened. Whilst waiting to go in we added to the HF museum of curious dislikes when we spotted a male and female peacock and Lottie exclaimed "I hate peacocks...they're evil". April's analysis was that peacocks 'Are just like chickens...but with nice feathers...oh, and they're blue'. I wonder if they enjoy being grabbed in the face by 11 year-old boys...at the mention of 'chicken', I could see Jack circling , weighing it up and getting ready to pounce :-) Jake opted for the official RSPB/ornothologists explanation of the peacocks showy display of tail feathers "That's how they impress the ladies" he said with a totally deadpan face. Clearly he was taking notes for potential future use in the discotheques of the revitalised Addlestone town centre...although Eleonora dampened his spirits somewhat by adding "Well, she wasn't very impressed, she just walked off and ignored him."
Jake's response was swift and to the point... "The females are a very boring colour anyway". First stop inside the park was the Colossus Pirate ship where we saw an albino peacock. As the children lined up to go on the 'swingy boat' I pondered on how many of them would soon have a face colour to resemble the aforementioned peacock. And so the gate opened and they boarded the ship. Eloise absolutely walked away with the prize for the most dramatic 'scaredy face' with a classic collection of expressions. It certainly amused April sitting alongside her who was in complete hysterics throughout :-) The orang utan loved it, as did Jack who said "I loved that". "Yeah, it was...alright" Sam added. Clearly the pirate ship was not as impressive as a night out on the tiles in Tenerife with Admiral Nelson.
After the pirate ship we saw another peacock and Gracie shouted "Look at that flamingo Mrs O'Connor" quickly followed by "It's the same colour as your top Mrs O'Connor, you look just like it!". So there you go folks, Mrs O'Connor is a dead ringer for the world's only blue flamingo. Mrs Capindale was amused by that one. Continuing on the peacock theme, Daniel asked "Can peacocks fly?"
"No, but they can hover" Adam replied instantly. What an awesome image...a hovering peacock - it's the stuff of science fiction. Maybe this is how we will cross The Solent on school trips in the future - aboard giant hovering peacocks. I wonder if Mrs O'Connor can hover? They'd certainly be impressed with that in Year 3&4 :-)
STOP PRESS: Mrs O'Connor has just walked into the lounge and announced she has taken 1,771 photographs so far this week ...although as far as I'm aware none of them are from a hovering position.
Ok loyal readers, I'm afraid that is all for now. The delicious aroma of roast turkey is wafting gently from the kitchen and it is almost dinner time. Menu tonight is soup or fruit juice for starter, roast turkey or macaroni cheese for main topped off with fruit flan or chocolate mousse for dessert. I've gone for the roast turkey option...although after today's bird-related chat at Robin Hill I'd better check it's not blue. After dinner we are off to the beach for the sandcastle comp and general sandy beach fun. It's a perfect evening for it...conditions are great so I'm expecting some imaginative creations down there. More news later tonight...
10pm - Evening again everyone, we are now back from the beach and the children are having a quick shower before bed. Let's now rewind to Robin Hill Park earlier today...
...Following the peacock related incidents we went into the 4-D Simulator ride. This year's film was called 'The Great Wall of China' and was an absolute belter of a rollercoaster ride. I thoroughly enjoyed it, no doubt helped enormously by the fact that I had the great fortune of sitting next to Eloise complete with full range of squeals, screams of scaredy gasps. Unfortunately I couldn't see her face in the dark but the sound effects kept me totally entertained throughout...epic stuff and all the children loved it. Next up was Mrs Capindale's favourite part of the week - the falconry display hosted by the normally jovial chappie from Bonnie Scotland. Mrs Capindale has previous with these birds of prey, famously ending up flat on the grass two years ago dressed all in black resembling a commando as wave after wave of sharp taloned birds dived towards her. This year she found a protected spot on the grass between the rows of benches and settled down nervously for the show to begin. The normally jovial chappie was in a slightly more intense mood this year as he brought out his first bird, an American Turkey Vulture named 'Bernard' (after Mr Matthews). He described Bernard as 'just returning to fitness after 4 weeks out injured and as having serious mental issues'...which sound like pretty good qualifications to be a Premier League footballer to me. I saw Mrs Capindale hunker down further into the grass. He then said "I don't really think Bernard is cut out for this sort of work...he doesn't like strangers...or children...oh, and he absolutely hates women." Mrs Capindale began to shake...and hunkered down further into the grass. In all fairness, he wasn't too bad in the end.
Next up in the skies was Bonnie the American Harris Hawk. She was a brilliant flyer and made a fairly swift beeline in her flight path for the now trembling Mrs Capindale...who by now was virtually beneath the bench in front of her. Watching from the bench behind I decided we can definitely add Mrs Capindale's birds of prey to the HFS Museum of Dislikes :-) Last to fly in the display was Patrick the Peregrine Falcon who gave an acrobatic aerial display. I love peregrines...they are right up there with sparrowhawks in the avian beauty stakes as far as I'm concerned. After the show we got up close and personal with Patrick who was enjoying a spot of well-earned lunch.
"What's he eating?" Leila asked.
"It's quail" the man replied.
"A whale...he's eating a whale!" Gracie shouted in exasperation. That brought a smile to the face of Mr Falcon man. We left the birds and headed over to the treetop trail climbing area which was full of rope bridges, wooden structures and chains to clamber all over. The boys were having a field day in there but some of the girls were getting seriously stressed by their exploits. Harry O was traversing a rope bridge like Tarzan dashing home for his tea. "Oh my goodness Harry...you're going to kill yourself!" Lottie shouted. But you see, he wasn't...he was perfectly safe. When you are living amongst the carnage and booby traps of Room 10, this was a piece of cake..with icing, cream and a cherry on the top. After the tree climbing we had lunch then walked down to the lower field for an afternoon extravaganza of fun activities. The toboggan was popular and, due to the very warm sunshine beating down, ice-cream sales and the splash zone were booming. Mr Whippy's with flakes were flying out over the counter and Oliver treated himself to a salted caramel spectacular in a chocolate-lined waffle cone...which he described as the 'tastiest ice-cream he'd ever eaten' Anita - please take note of a possibe money making opportunity for the PA on Friday afternoons :-) The children played football, tri-golf, went on the slides and generally had a fabulous time with their friends. Later we caught the green train back up the hill and headed back for 'one more go on the pirate ship. Brendan had a peacock feather in his hand and on the walk to the ship, Mrs O'Connor said "Brendan, where did you get that feather...did you just find it?" Brendan raised an eyebrow ever so slightly and replied "Yes, don't worry, I didn't pluck one" :-)
Over on Colossus, Eloise and her scaredy screamy face cemented herself into history as a Robin Hill legend. They should employ her in a promotional video..they'd be coming through the gates in herds...profits would go through the roof :-) Huge congratulations at this point also go to Toby, Siobhan, Gracie, Libby and Isabella who, despite their initial reluctance and nerves, all boarded the ship and proved to themselves that, witb the encouragement of friends and a little courage we can conquer any of our fears. Their presence on the ship at the end meant this is the first Year 6 for several years to have everyone on board Colossus at once. Well done to all!
Final stop in the park was the gift shop. 45 minutes before arriving at the shop I had begun to develop a nervous tick at the thought of the upcoming retail frenzy. The Robin Hill shop has a different magnet for boy shoppers, namely super-sour sweets, lickable roll on deodorants and other hideous nuclear fallout-coloured sugar bombs that make you look like Michael Gove on a good day when you eat one. I tell you, it's never pretty in there. We entered the shop and I held my breath.
Predictably the boys headed for sweet corner whilst the girls did what girls do and began looking for souvenirs, gifts and cute-looking nik naks. Within minutes there was a line of boys in the queue having secured giant lollies, giant straws full of sherbet and fizzy drinks....then I spotted Vincent and Jack clutching the pinnacle of boy-purchasing prowess at Robin Hill...containers of green toxic waste. Behind stood Lottie shaking her head and Libby scratching her head. I could empathise easily with them. On the way back to the coach Max summed it all up perfectly. Proudly brandishing his three spoils on the latest mission of retail war, and in response to my question "What did you buy in there Max?" he said "Look Mr Tindall. rock. sweets...oh and a pencil."
We got back in good time for dinner (which was delicious) then walked down to the beach for the sandcastle competition. First treat was a paddle in the sea which brought out the sharp observational side of the group. These classic comments included "It's cold", " It's wet", "It's wet and sandy", and "It's just like the sea in Dorset." Funny that...who would have thought it :-) Following the paddling, Mrs Holt organised the sandcastle building teams. The girls simply operated in their room teams so the bandan crew from Room 4 were very happy and headed off first...with Jaimie running down the beach halfway to France to collect some water in a bucket. With the boys it was a different story and far too dangerous to unleash anything resembling the room combinations onto a public beach. 3 teams of 5 were wisely selected by Mrs Holt.
Instructions were simple...create a sand sculpture which says something about your week in the Isle of Wight. I decided to join in as I had an obvious design in mind...I created a hovering peacock...carrying a camera...and laughing a lot :-) Moving around the beach there was some interesting designs taking shape. Harry O, Vincent, Brendan, Daniel and Oliver were making a Lamborghini...which turned into a F1 car 'due to problems in ensuring symmetry of the wheels.' Room 2 (Imogen, Eleonora, Leila, Siobhan & Elsie) were creating a giant tree with a monkey swinging from one side and a child from the other...clever stuff indeed. Room 3 (April, Isabella, Inuki, Libby & Lottie) were making a beautiful mermaid (which Toby cleverly named 'Sandmantha' whilst Room 4 ( Jaimie, Eloise, Federica, Gracie plus Freya on loan from room 2) were constructing Holy Family School and the IOW side by side.
Alex, Conor, Harry Y, Toby & Josh were building 'Mt Olympus.'
"Boys, I've not noticed Mt Olympus out of the coach windows this week" I pointed out.
"Hmm, I think we may see that tomorrow" Conor replied somewhat sheepishly. Conor then ran off towards the Lamborghini and soon returned looking decidely uncomfortable. "Guys, they've built a F1 car over there and we've built this...a lump of sand with a cricket bat sticking out of the top!" Conor is a good judge of quality...the F1 car has taken the vote of their peers and is the champion design this year.
We finished the evening with the much-awaited and highly anticipated 'Clubercise' led on the beach by Addlestone's finest groovers with lights Mrs Holt and Mrs O'Connor. After taking 45 minutes to line up in 5 rows of 6, the children were handed their flashing glow strips and I nervously cast my eyes to the skies. I breathed more easily...there were no planes in sight and so the whirling and arm waving began. 30 seconds into the routine Daniel said "Mrs Holt, we must look like idiots.2 I nervously cast my eyes to the promenade; a large crowd was assembling near the pier and there were boats, tankers, and ships appearing from all directions out at sea. I'm sure there was also an attack submarine and a pod of sharks circling below the waves - their sonar must have been going crazy. They were out on hotel balconies, gazing out from the windows of passing coaches and a bloke on a bike nearly rode into a bin...it was either the flashing lights or the constant chants of 1.2,3,4 that did it :-)
11.40pm - Right folks, I'm back in real time now. All is quiet in the hotel and Mrs O'Connor is sharing some of her many photos with the rest of us. It's been another fantastic, action-packed day which has run smoothly throughout. Everyone is well and having a wonderful time. Tomorrow is an earlier start with breakfast at 8pm. The theatre workshop will take place at 9.30am followed by souvenir/sweet frenzy shopping then surfing in the afternoon...another great day in stall for them all. I hope you are all enjoying the story as it unfolds and it is helping you to share your child's school journey experience from afar. Until the morning, it's over and out from The Blog Bloke on the sofa in Sandown.
Good night all :-)