It's 7am. A few discussions can be heard but nobody is making lunch. It seems to be more difficult for the adventurers to get up as the week goes on! Big Pit Mining Museum today for all, followed by a picnic, then up on the hill for orienteering! Full update later...
Phew, what a scorcher!
Big Pit was brilliant. Under clear skies we made our way into the museum, for what was an amazing experience. Two groups went underground immediately, whilst the others visited the interactive displays hidden in the mountainside.
At Big Pit we met the miners who actually worked there, who still clearly feel very proud of being part of a close group until it was closed - a 'band of brothers' you could say. Underground, we were taken to many places, most noticeably the stables, where the poor horses stayed for 50 weeks of the year. For only two weeks they were taken up into the field for their 'holiday.' Some of the horses were so petrified of returning, they actually lay down and played dead! Those that refused to get back in the lift, were tied up and lowered down the shaft. You can only imagine the disgusted gasps of disapproval from the children.
We also found out that Queen Victoria passed a bill to ensure no young children had to work in the mines. Any person, at the grand old age of 10 or above could work though. The Sholing staff have filled in a number of applications on behalf of the kids and we await the interview process, due to take place at half term!! Only 12 hour days in complete darkness!
On our return, we stopped at a picnic area and had lunch. Right next to us, was a great playground where the children relaxed. The journey back to the centre, although only 10 minutes, was too much for some and a number of Zs were taken (see picture).
Hot dogs tonight, the cream on the nose challenge and the grand tidy-up (after the completion of the 'Mini Olympics' in the garden of course).
This will be the last blog. The internet has been painfully slow and I still have hundreds of photos and video clips to show you all. I have included any clips or photos that have decided to download until the wait has gotten the better of me. Apologies if some appear more than others.
As Mr Male would say, fire up those washing machines parents, we're coming home!
We hope to leave by 10am latest. We will keep you up to date via parent mail for our time of arrival, but if you can only pick your children up at the end of school (3.05), that's fine. If you want to pick them up earlier, that's fine too!
The mist crept across the mountain as dawn broke. The sound of snoring reverberated melodically against the ancient beams and the 5:30am wake up was all but a distant memory.
We gathered in the dining hall to see what the young people would make for their lunches. It was all very quiet; a little too quiet. Then they arrived, slowly at first but all sporting very similar slightly red eyes. The day of activities must have challenged them as we thought. Early nights a must from here on in!
After breakfast, which included the usual cereals and bacon sandwiches, we gathered on the decking under the watchful eye of the mountain. The sun then drove the mist away. The day was looking beautiful. Fine weather for all – sun cream a must!
We began by telling group 1 and 2 that they were going up the mountain again due to a minibus issue. This of course was untrue although we did enjoy filming the faces of sheer despair, especially from Lily-May, Oliver and Alicia (footage available on our return). Group 1 and 2 were in fact off caving and waterfall walking, again with Mr Wakefield and Mr H. Group 3 and 4 were headed up the mountain. It had been ‘banded about’ by the instructors that they fancied climbing a different mountain, although this was immediately rejected by the children. It was Pen y Fan or else!
Off we all went in the beautiful sunshine to our respective destinations. The cavers, suited and booted, made their way down the steep path to the entrance. There were a few people who didn’t like the look of this and a number of worried tears dripped into the stream that ran outside. Regardless of the apprehension, and you probably know what’s coming, the children met every challenge – The Letterbox, Maggots Crawl and Dead Man’s Ledge (not as bad as it sounds). The children drank pure water from the cave roof and rated the experience 11/10. From there we made our way to the waterfall for the usual slapstick comedy – children slipping and plunging into the icy pools. It really was brilliant fun. The children loved it, just like the groups before them.
The mountaineers had another challenge to overcome –the heat. It really was sweltering and caked in factor 50, like multiple friendly ghosts, group 3 turned left and ascended the stream; group 4 scrambled for the ridge. With numerous water breaks and huge amounts of will power, all the children made it. They even had time to stop and replenish water stocks from a natural spring near the summit. Without a cloud in the sky, the climbers could see for miles and relish a moment of outstanding achievement. A survival tip from Jake: 'If you need to survive on a mountain and want to catch a sheep, make sure you approach it with no emotion on your face!' Alrighty then!
Group 3 then proceeded to climb down the nose of Pen y Fan. This was a steep decent that required concentration and bravery. The others took the route that required greater endurance, which included climbing over Corn Du, passing the Tommy Jones memorial before the drop to the farm.
If that wasn’t enough, shortly after they returned they spent an hour at the local swimming pool. It was remarked upon by two members of the public who have been swimming there for thirty years that the children were the best behaved school group they had ever seen. Go Sholing! #result
We returned home just in time for curry and then bed. Another busy day awaits tomorrow! Night all!
We’ve made it safe and sound to the Argoed Lwyd Hampshire Outdoor Centre after a trouble free journey this morning from Southampton! Mini-bus activities ranged from singing (very loudly) to playing a brilliant game devised by Mr H: spot the grammatical errors on HGV vehicles! ‘Thomas’s Haulage being the most noticeable disaster. Strange that nobody chose to sit next to Mr H at dinner!
We headed straight for St Fagan’s National History Museum: an open-air museum near Cardiff chronicling the historical lifestyle, culture and architecture of the Welsh people! There were houses through history that had been reassembled on site which were fascinating to explore, especially a red house, painted this colour to ward off evil spirits! There was great excitement when we stumbled upon a pig pen; we even managed to fill it with a full ‘litter’ of students! The children then visited the local shop and bought a number of ‘confectionary items’ which most definitely wouldn’t have pleased Mrs Manore! We won’t tell if you don’t!
As we made our way closer to Brecon, the children were stunned by the landscape that revealed itself. Mountain after mountain, valley after valley. Awe inspiring. Then we saw her… Pen y Fan – 886m. Talk about four seasons in one hour! When we arrived, it was bathed in sunshine, ten minutes later it clearly was hammering with rain on the peak. This was followed by complete cloud coverage, then the sun broke through and it was back to how it was when we arrived.
We ventured out for an evening walk to the visitor's centre and played some games on the hill. It was a bit cold, and with the clouds rolling in, we all walked ‘home’ and enjoyed a great dinner, cooked by Mr Berry. Staff were so efficient, all plates were washed, dried and stacked before the last pudding spoon was dropped into the ‘galley’.
It’s 21:30. All is quiet. With bedtime stories read, and a few home comforts given, all are winding down for a restful sleep – the mountain is calling two groups tomorrow and the caves and waterfalls beckon the others in the morning.
A rustling in the under croft awoke staff this morning. Was it bats? Was it the local sheep? Was it last night’s meal repeating on Mr Wakefield or was it 39 excited children preparing for their day? – at 5:30am!
After buttering 80 pieces of bread, the dining area was filled with eager young things, crafting a myriad of tasty treats for their respective days out. Most noticeable was the dry nature of Sam’s Sandwich. No butter and salad. Definitely need a few glasses of water to wash that one down. Next, appeared the ‘craftsman’ - Corey. It really was a thing of beauty. A ham and cheese combo topped off with a well considered mayonnaise twist. Madison arranged her tuna slightly off centre and watched by a number of intrigued staff members, proceeded to squash the creation to achieve maximum coverage. Your parents would be so proud of you. Those sandwich skills will define your futures. Outstanding efforts people!
That’s when Mr Berry exploded onto the scene (not literally). With an offering of cereals, in addition to ‘eggy’ bread and sausages, all runners and riders were primed and ready to rock.
Group 3 and 4 were heading for the cave and the waterfalls. These groups contained, Anna, Phoebe, Grace, Madison, Lucy, Jordan, Jake, Harry C, Harry B, Jayden, Bradley, Leo Q, Eleanor, Charlotte, Megan, Mia, Charlie A, Chris, Will and Bethany F. The others were to conquer the mighty Pen y Fan.
It was at this point, we heard the terrible news on the radio about the attack at the concert in Manchester. The children, along with the staff were completely shocked at hearing this and it was proposed, that those climbing the mountain would observe a minutes silence at the peak in memory of those who have been effected by this terrible act (more about that later).
In convoy, the two caving groups made their way to their destination, tooting the horn to Mrs Jewel’s group who were first to take on the mountain. The weather was looking slightly ominous, and the clouds rested themselves on the mountainsides.
The two caving groups were brilliant! Our paths crossed many times in the cave complex, most noticeably at the ‘letterbox’. This is a tiny hole in the rock which created a challenge for some, and after a few tears and a bit of encouragement from the children, Mr Wakefield managed to do it! Sorry. Charlotte and Megan managed to get past this most challenging obstacle. I feel that they might not have succeeded if it wasn’t for the amazing young people caring and carrying those when they needed it. A real credit to you parents. Brilliant stuff!
After a brief lunch, we were off to the gorge. An interesting conversation then took place:
Will: Are those plants Orchids?
Mr H: No, I think they’re bluebells Will.
Will: Same thing…
Mr H: Well not reallyl.
Will: And why are they called bluebells anyway because they’re purple…
Mr H: Look Will there’s a dog over there…
When we got to the gorge, we were greeted by some tricky river crossings. Under the low level water were extremely slippery rocks that felt as if they had been covered in a mixture of oil and washing up liquid with lashings of banana skins! This obviously made for a number of comedy falls, after which, the children just dived in. Although cold, they absolutely loved it.
It was a beautiful scene; the children playing in the water under the backdrop of a huge waterfall. Magnificent!
Meanwhile, it was time for 6E to face the mountain! Nothing could prepare us for the beast that was Pen y Fan! Both groups took off around 10.30 and began their climb! There was a lot of sweat but luckily not too many tears (just a few sore shins and calves!).
Fog and mist descended as both groups set off. What started off as a steady climb, turned into a scramble up the mountain to the ridge. This hit some hard but, as you know, the children refused to give in. Noticeable leaders were Daniel, aka Mr Motivator, and Laura who took off at the speed of light and kept the pace for the entire six hours.
Upon reaching the summit, Mrs Jewel and her team were greeted by none other than The Royal Navy! This definitely brought a smile to some faces (Mrs Jewel’s mostly). Impressed with their efforts, the men were happy to pose for a ‘summit selfie’. After enjoying lunch near the springs, the sunshine finally shone on their backs as they began their descent. Now everyone THOUGHT that getting up the mountain was going to be the challenge…. Till we realised how steep the incline was coming down! As much as we would have liked to roll down the hill, instead we soldiered on with the thought of a nice cool drink and refreshing shower waiting for us at the end. #shinsplints
Everyone took a moment to pause and reflect at the obelisk where the children learned the story of Tommy Jones and a minutes silence was held to reflect on the terrible attack that had occurred in Manchester yesterday. It was a sombre but much needed moment; it gave us all time to reflect.
With tea done and showers for all, we are ready for what tomorrow might bring. As stated before, your children are a true credit and we are enjoying spending the time with these bright young thinkers – as long as they don’t get up at 5:30 again!!
Sorry for the delay in the blog. This entry has taken over 3 hours to produce due to the poor internet available!!
On the 31st of October, 6E travelled to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to ‘kick off’ our next project focusing on a pivotal day in this country’s history. D-Day, which took place in June 1944, was introduced through a number of primary artefacts from the time, combined with considerable amount of detective work.
Once again, the children were beautifully behaved, which was remarked upon by a member of the public. We learned a great deal in a short amount of time there, and we also sowed the seed of future projects such as Robert Falcon Scott’s fateful journey to Antarctica, our visit to Greenwich to see Nelson’s blood stained tunic and the impact of war on the children in the Jewish Ghetto. A very purposeful day filled with great learning opportunities. Thanks Mrs Etherington!
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