Sholing Junior School

Achieving Together

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Wales HMC 2019

Dear All,

You will find the Wales 2019 blog here. I will attempt to update this by the end of each day (when the children are tucked up in their beds), however occasionally, the Wi-Fi conditions can be a bit temperamental, so please bear with me.


The itinerary is as follows:

Group 1/Group 2: Monday - Big Pit. Tuesday- Mountain. Wednesday - Cave and waterfall walk. Thursday - Bird display and orienteering.

Group 3: Monday - Big Pit. Tuesday - Cave and waterfall walk. Wednesday - Bird display and orienteering. Thursday - Mountain.

Group 4/Group 5: Monday - Big Pit. Tuesday - Bird display and orienteering. Wednesday - Mountain. Thursday - Cave and waterfall walk.



Picture the scene: It’s 10:28pm. I’m in a tent, wearing a head torch. It’s cold, damp and the sheep are bleating in full harmony. One of the camping group has just said that they think that they might turn into a butterfly in the morning. It’s going to be a long night!!

The journey to Big Pit was much quicker than we expected. We actually arrived 9 minutes ahead of schedule which was very impressive given the distance. We all were allocated a group leader and off we went, into the depths of the Welsh mine. Underground, we all heard how tough life as a miner really was. Children as young as six years old, working 12 hours a day for only a few pence, sometimes in total darkness.  The children were excellently behaved, and this was remarked upon by a number of the tour guides.

After a brief visit to the shop, we then headed for Brecon. The mountain centre was bathed in sunshine as we arrived, very different from the forecasted rain we were expecting. After a pasta meal, we decided to take a walk to the ‘Common’ to take our first glimpse of Pen y Fan. As we were walking down the hill back to the mountain centre, the sky turned the whole mountain red. We all paused for an obligatory photo – an amazing sight.

Tomorrow the challenges begin. Mr H and Mrs Jewell’s groups are up the mountain #legburner. It’s going to be a nice day so we will make sure the children are caked in sun cream. Miss Thompson will be taking her group caving. Looking forward to seeing them all try on their extra tight caving suits in the morning - a group of contorting figures, rocking this way and that. Always a comical way to start the day. Miss Hendy and Miss Hughes’ groups welcome the ‘birdman’. That is going to be very exciting.

It’s all gone quiet. The campers are no longer discussing metamorphosis and only a few yawns can be heard. Time to light up the night with some top level snoring. Goodnight all. 



What a beauty of a day! Group 1 and 2 took to the mountain and both decided to pick the most challenging route possible. Up to the tarn, a scramble to the top of the ridge and then to the summit of Pen y Fan. There was little moaning, but as it was the start, let's just say that we were 'finding our feet.' At the tarn (small lake) we found a number of creatures that the children had never seen before. A newt, which we named Bob, and a leach that we named Nigel. Shortly after, we found a lizard. Ellie was on it in a flash and it wasn't long before we were all studying it carefully. Problem was, this lizard was like an electric eel, and it broke free of the handler, charged across her back and leapt for safety in her bag. Fear that sandwiches were under threat, the said lizard was promptly ejected and we were on our way once more. 

It was tough. Both groups walked a total of 21 121 steps today(Mrs Jewell ten thousand on top of that - shorter legs). That totals a colossal 15.7km. They better sleep well tonight!!


Group 2 spent the day down the caves. A challenging number of activities awaited them which included: 'Maggots Crawl, The Letterbox and the world famous Toilet'. I have to say, that some children, who weren't really that keen on enclosed spaces did really well. There were a few tears, but Miss Thompson bought the children an ice cream afterwards and all was forgiven!


Groups four and five had an exciting day today – we met some amazing birds of prey. First up, we had Bert the owl; he was rather cute and intrigued by us. Bert was extremely friendly and flew up to many of our arms with ease (Miss Hendry was not as impressed with having to handle their diet of dead baby chicks!). We then met another five stunning birds. There was another owl, followed by three Harris hawks who took us on a guided walk around the field and let us be part of their hunting party. We obviously were convincing with our bird noises and actions! Then, we had the pleasure of being introduced to the stunning eagle who flew rapidly past us in the circle, displaying her beautiful grace and speed. Finally, we met the star of the show – a vulture! This fantastic bird required a whole pound of chicken drumsticks to keep him well fed whilst with us. We all could not believe the sheer size and wingspan of this creature and we were in awe of this bird of prey.

The rest of the day was relaxed and just wonderful. We had a picnic back at the centre all together, followed by a walk up the hill to play some games. We ended the afternoon with a trip to the shop – we may have bought you some presents if you’ve been good in our absence!

Another cold night ahead for the brave campers. No cloud cover. We expected the sheep to keep us awake, but no one could have predicted that two helicopters would appear and circle us for 20 minutes at 11pm. I think Mr Parnell back at school might have arranged that one. He’s in big trouble when we get back!!

Good Morning All,

Two groups up the mountain with no complaints, two groups walking behind a monumental waterfall and an extremely naughty bald eagle, flying off with someone’s Frisbee! Just a normal day in The Beacons!

I have to say, the mountaineers were unbelievable. In stifling heat, and not to be outdone by the other groups that proceeded them, they too took on the Sholing Junior Tarn Scramble. A massive achievement in really challenging conditions. But nothing could have prepared them for the excitement that was soon to unfold at the summit. Josh found that he had not eaten his crisps AND his chocolate bar, so had a veritable banquet at the top, napkin firmly wedged into his collar. The others, watching on with contempt, didn’t seem to share in his elation as they tucked into their slightly darkened and battered bananas.

Cavers and waterfall walkers took on all challenges that were thrown at them. Just amazing. Mr H even managed to get through some tight spots. Thank you Mr Male for packing the jar of goose fat and the shoe horn. If it wasn’t for that, I’d still be down there.

Once again, the bird man didn’t disappoint. This time he bought with him a one-year-old bald eagle. It was massive! During the flight, the eagle was coerced back to the handler with a frisbee but unfortunately, the bald eagle took it upon himself to play frisbee on his own. He grabbed it in his talons and away he went. Fortunately, it was the bird who returned….eventually. Frisbee is MIA.

Tundra Report 2019 - Campers were great tonight….to start with. After going to sleep in record time (10:30) they were awake at 1.30am for a one hour discussion, led by the sounds of it, by Miss L-G Dixey! Fortunately, chronic fatigue eventually got the better of them (and me) and we all enjoyed a lie in – till 5am!!!!

The internet is becoming slower by the day, and as it is Thursday morning, we have much to do tonight to prepare for our departure. With this in mind, I will put on as many pictures now as possible for you to enjoy. It is unlikely I will have the chance to add any later.

Please ensure all washing machines are cleared and prepared for Friday evening. I would definitely recommend burying some returning clothes in concrete, and erecting an exclusion zone, in order to protect the health and well-being of all those who live in Southampton. Some parents will not have too much washing to contend with. I’m almost certain that some of the boys are still wearing the same clothes they arrived at school wearing on Monday morning. Beautiful!