Departure was greeted with the ominous portent of rain, and this continued throughout the journey. The gloom of the gathering clouds only broken by the ‘Mystery of the Rolling Biscuits’.
Apparently an orphaned packet was found on the coach, making its way from seat to seat in search of a new home.
ON arrival at the site, the rain relented and the sun attended to breakthrough – a pattern that would be repeated throughout the rest of the day (thankfully).
Group A, Miss Beadle and I headed for the Team Swing. First time in two years since we were allowed on it and only the second day of use since that time. I was really thankful to learn that yesterday was the first use – let’s get those kinks and gripes out of the way with another school!
All I can say is ‘Amazing!’. All of the children put their backs in to the task of winching up the pair that were dangling from a 3 foot piece of metal and some wires (but safe though), such that everyone had two goes (not every school has that luxury).
Hopefully the pictures speak for themselves!
I have to thank Esmae for offering to keep me safe on the swing and Miss Beadle for her company when it came to my turn. I now remember why it’s been 10 years since I went on it last…
Group B and Mrs. Roddis headed for the more earth-bound obstacle course and buggies. ‘It woh brill and rayt muddy’ was the overall review from one of the children (who wishes to remain nameless and is looking to be a Trip Adviser reviewer); a sentiment that was generally echoed by the rest of the children.
Mrs. Roddis’s team won the buggy race (we do have the Y5’s well-trained) and much merriment was had by all.
Tea: Roast beef dinner and the best pudding I have had here – EVER! Dark fruit sponge and treacle-toffee sauce! Very few were left and Jake was the happiest I have ever seen him. I genuinely think he would have eaten his body-weight if I had let him! Luckily, the 3 mile near-2 hour night walk made it calorie-neutral-ish. The walk was over fields, through mud, past some more fields, through some suspicious-looking Maltesers, down some roads and up a very steep hill back again.
As I write this, it is 10.30pm and all is quiet. NO doubt I will have spoken too soon, but you have to take the wins whilst they are on offer.
Roll-on the water tomorrow.
The day started with a cold, cold breeze. Outside temperature 8 degrees, water temperature 3.5 degrees!
The instructors were preparing us for a day without getting wet as they were worried that the children might only last 5 to 15 minutes in the water before cold shock took hold! Plans A, B and C were in the offing…
So we set of with our fingers crossed and hope in our hearts. This was eroded quickly by the several ‘Road Ahead Closed’ signs, which began to sap at our resolve. However, the delays in the travel meant that the day had time to brighten up, the river had time to warm up and the children had time to get used to the idea of shivering being cool (literally!).
When we arrived, the children were grouped, the bell-boats boarded and off we went.
In my board, Mya and Hollie proved excellent skippers –keeping us all in time with a variety of calls to ensure that the rest of the crew were pulling their weight. The other crews were keeping good pace, with the Yellow boat working doubly hard to retrieve Ruby’s paddle which had a mind of its own and jumped out of her hands into the water (so rumour has it).
After the bell boating, the instructors asked me if we were up for the paddle-boarding, especially given the earlier warnings. I took the decision of ‘Let’s see what the reaction of the first casualty is, and go from there’! This might sound a little cavalier, but I knew that the reaction of the first one in will set the tone for the others, and this is an important part of the process. I am unsure who actually entered first – it was a toss-up between Cole and Esmae - but both of them let out curious squeals, load cries and then whoops of laughter at the whole thing.
From then on, it was a constant procession of ‘Stand – Paddle – Fall – Swim’ as the children all had a go at mastering the very difficult skills needed to stay upright.
I tip my hat at Miss Beadle. Effortlessly gliding along the river without the slightest hint of falling in. With an honourable mention to Mrs. Roddis who was given a very wet paddleboard, and slightly dodgy knee, heckling from some of the crowd and a hard act to follow. She dried off a little later.
The bus back was much quieter than going and reflective of the effort needed to pilot boats on a flowing river.
Tonight’s activity was Smuggler’s Run, with much confusion about the rules (listening was at a premium), but a fair amount of jump-scare kept things interesting.
It’s 11.00pm and all’s well.
Last day tomorrow. Final push!
Sorry it's late.
Day three is a very easy day to talk about. It's a complete reverse of Day 1!
Miss Beadle and her group headed off for the ropes and buggies and I headed back up to the Team Swing with Mrs Roddis.
As with the previous group, there were the 'keep winching' to get to the top and the 'that's enough' shouts at various stages in between. In this, the children were all magnificent. They supported the decisions regardless of where the shouts came, tried to cajole a few more metres of rope to nudge that bit further, but respected any choices.
I need to say at this point, that one of the most important aspects of teaching is being able to show the children that you (as an adult) have fears, doubts and insecurities. To be able to show that we too, are human and need to push ourselves through the same barriers that the children do. We try to embody the phrase 'you cannot be what you cannot see'.
Big Shout Outs to Lola - without whom Mrs Roddis would have stayed firmly on the ground. Mya - for giving me a second opportunity on the swing (even though she is terribly argumentative!).
Lunch was a nice sandwich with various bits and bobs. Charlie thought that wearing the fruit-pot was preferable to eating it, and Faye thought that this was the funniest thing EVER!
And so our time drew to a close.
We have be scared, muddy, wet, cold, brave, resilient, tired, courageous, self-sufficient and above all determined to have a go.
It is always a pleasure to look back on the successes - and that includes staff.
Thank you to all of you who took just a moment to show your gratitude to staff as we exited the bus. Knowing that you appreciate the 50+ hours we spent keeping your children safe means a lot.
Thank you to everyone who took part - you are all amazing people.