Newton Road, Warrington, Cheshire, WA3 2AW
Mrs Alison Davies
Welcome to Lowton Junior and Infant School, encouraging growth at every stage of your child’s development.
Monday 23rd April 2018
The journey up the M6 passed without incident except for Mrs Davies who completely missed the kerb when walking back to the coach at the services and completed the journey with her ankle wrapped in ice provided by the very kind staff at Costa Coffee!!
The excited party arrived at the house in good time and set about unpacking and making beds. A very big well done to Harrison’s Mum and Dad for teaching him how to do duvet covers so efficiently – he managed to do all six duvets in his room in under 10 minutes!!
After enjoying their packed lunches both groups completed the orienteering course in the fields surrounding Hinning House. Mrs Mills quickly realised that for one group map reading was not in their skill set as they happily set off up the valley road seemingly oblivious to the fact that the other 20 children were searching in completely the opposite direction. All the children spent a couple of hours exploring and collecting stamps on their cards. As the rain and mist descended everyone retired to the house for showers and a delicious tea of sausage, mash, veg and gravy followed by apple crumble and custard. Please do not worry there is no reason to suspect the children will go hungry this week!
After jobs, the evening activities commenced. Due to the weather it was decided tonight’s should be indoors. With their new found orienteering skills fresh in their minds the children did the indoor orienteering course with the added bonus (for the staff at least) of having to do it in silence and communicating with your team in sign language only.
A new ploy of getting the children in bed slightly earlier in the hope they sleep before 1.00 am has been put into place so all children were “in bed” for 9.15am. It is heartening for us all to know they are very happy and having such fun as the laughter and antics continued until after midnight – so much for your good idea Mrs Mills!!
PS sorry about the late posting of the blog – the school that was in last week had used all the data allowance and it only renewed overnight.
Tuesday 24th April
A combination of painkillers and ear plugs meant that Mrs Davies did not join in the usual sport of getting the children back in bed and asleep again. That honour was left to Mrs Mills who between 4.30 – 5.15am steadfastly maintained her post on the landing. Escapees were swiftly sent back into their rooms and warnings issued as to the consequences of little sleep. William and Matthew seemed especially eager to start the day before sunrise!
After a hearty breakfast of cereal, fruit, yogurts, toast and bacon buns both groups were advised that their morning activity was “The Lone Journey”. A small smile spread across Mrs Davies face, as the previous day’s antics had rendered her unable to take part in that Lowton J & I old favourite, widely known as the “Self-lost walk!” Such are the tales of previous Lowton J & I parties that the instructors themselves now refer to it as that too!
It was with some relief that Mrs Davies welcomed first Mrs Fixroy and her group and then Mrs Mills and her charges back to the house. All 26 were accounted for, although the ashen look on Mrs Fixroy’s face suggested that the morning had not been without it’s adventures. How so many different routes from A to B following the same set of instructions and with the same maps, the children found is a wonder of the Duddon valley. Mrs F had been fully occupied chasing down and returning small groups to the right direction. And nine stops for hot chocolate is definitely a J and I record especially when the first one was less than 5 minutes from the house. The self-lost walk was obviously very thirsty work for this group.
In Mrs Mills’ group the children had stuck together and worked their way through the instructions as a large group rather than a few smaller ones. They’d thrown in a bit of orienteering (well why not?) during their walk and had a small detour to complete the course.
All 24 children were wet and muddy on their return. Harrison had fallen full length into a bog, which he took in his stride and with good humour despite Mrs Mills being unable to stand for laughing. Zach returned happy but wet to the waist, goodness knows how as there had been no river crossings involved that morning. Optimism abounded as wellies were removed and hung upside down in the drying room hopefully to be dry for the afternoon activity! As the children have started to realise CWD (critical wellie depth) is of vital importance in the management of dry feet.
Lunch was a feast of homemade tomato soup, sandwiches of various fillings, salads and couscous followed by a choice of muffins, millionaire’s shortbread and lots of fruit.
Sadly, despite the children’s best efforts the wellies had failed to dry in the hour and a half break so with gritted teeth back on they went, on top of dry socks, for the afternoon activity of ghyl scrambling. Even if they had managed to dry it is guaranteed that within 5 minutes of reaching HardKnott Ghyl they would been wet again anyway.
Mason proved to be the person to rely on in Mrs F’s group, always there to lend a helping hand and very steady footed in the gushing water, Thomas was the proverbial mountain goat, climbing the slippery wet stones was no problem to him. CWD was ignored completely by Alex, Matthew D and Callum who just went for it – literally submerging themselves in the icy mountain water.
There were a few tears from Mrs M’s group as the ghyl scramble was a challenging activity. Lucy’s verdict was that she was wetter than when she went swimming at the swimming baths!! One important lesson learnt was that six pairs of socks doesn’t keep your feet any drier in deep water than 1 pair and does mean you now have no dry socks for the rest of the week. Another was that leaning forward when going up Hard Knott Pass in a mini-bus makes it go faster and that if you lean back on the way down it helps the brakes work.
Most inventive reason for wearing a helmet when climbing a rocky, slippery, steep ghyl was to protect your head from falling sheep.
Many fears were conquered today and the children should be very proud of themselves as quite a few demons have been defeated.
Sadly, the weather put an end to the much anticipated evening activity of the Alien Headhunt, hopefully Wednesday and Thursday’s weather will be kinder to us. A laughter filled half an hour was spent watching a slideshow of all the photos taken so far followed by an hour of eyes down for Bingo. Supper and then bed ……the less said about sleep, the better.
Wednesday 25th April
James Bond would have been proud of three of the boys from Harter Fell last night. As the clock ticked towards midnight the staff heard some movement above them. In an effort to stay under the radar the boys had taken to writing notes and pushing them under the doors of the other bedrooms. Sadly, for them, their plan was foiled and they were despatched back to bed with strict orders not to move until after 7. Eventually at shortly before 1 peace descended on the house and the staff went to bed.
Amazingly it was 7 this morning when the first footsteps running up and down the corridor were heard. These Y5s are the most hygienic children we have ever taken away whenever they are asked where they are going early in a morning the answer is always for a shower. Usually there is an ongoing battle to get the children to actually shower but not this week. Mrs Davies is however not sure this is as good as she first thought as every time she goes for a shower there is no hot water left!!
Today’s hot option for breakfast was French toast and beans or if you were more adventurous cinnamon French toast with maple syrup – I’ll leave you to guess which was the most popular.
Mrs Fitzroy and her group were first to set out on their morning mountain climbing adventure. Mrs Mills and co were slightly delayed setting out on their fell walk as the hot chocolate, which had been made for a pit stop during their walk, obviously smelt so delicious that Kian who thought the flask was just for him merrily helped himself to a cup before they’d even made it to the front door. Even more worrying as there was an element of self –lost in this walk, were the two maps and instructions booklets found on the wall!
The climb to the summit of Border End was a triumph for Mrs F and her mountaineers. Strong, howling winds, scrambling up a rocky face and a steep drop on one side to contend with made for a challenging morning. However, everyone made the summit and enjoyed the views through the clouds to the Roman Fort and the sea in the far distance. The thing that grabbed the children’s attention the most was the dead sheep they found – as Alex explained you could see its ribs.
There was a slight panic in the air when only half of Mrs Mills’ group arrived back and Mrs F & D spent an anxious 20 minutes scouring the fields in front of the house until they saw some tiny figures in the distance. Why anyone thinks it’s a good idea to give 6 children an emergency shelter with instructions and not expect them to be delayed because of course the shelter has to be used is beyond the elders of the party. Kian had fallen and banged his knee so the call for the shelter to be deployed by one of the six went up, followed by the call for a medic and various attempts to use bandages from the First Aid pack. Fortunately, after a few minutes Kian decreed himself fit and in no need of medical attention or even a bandage and so on the group went. (Please don’t panic Mrs Mills was observing the situation from a close distance).
Lunch of homemade pizzas, salads followed by cake and fruit was demolished in record time as the children were all excited to learn that the afternoon’s activity was a visit to and down the old Slate Mine workings in the Langdales. The activity necessitates a ride in the mini buses over Wrynose Pass, not a journey for the fainthearted!
The visit to the mine definitely sorted the men from the boys or more appropriately the girls from the boys…….the path into the mine is completely dark and the boys found it quite a challenge to be brave enough to get to the cave without screaming. Once you make it into the cavern which is known as “The Cathedral”, there is a crystal clear pool which is somehow home to 2 goldfish! How the goldfish got there and how they have survived for many years is a complete mystery.
favourite tea so far – roast chicken, chips, peas, sweetcorn and gravy followed by chocolate brownie and ice cream. Not a scrap of food was left and the children have been given the nickname “The Lowton Locust” by the cook.
Given the unsettled forecast and that we can’t guarantee a dry evening tomorrow, the decision to undertake the Alien Head Hunt tonight was unanimous. Mrs F and M hid 20 picture of Aliens with strange names and 6 digit numbers in the fields around Hinning House whilst Mrs Davies explained to the children what they had to do. A very active hour and a half was spent chasing down the aliens and returning to the mothership to recite names and numbers by memory with the added difficulty of doing it “in the style of ….” The favourite has to be Harrison, William & Callum repeating the required information in the style of ballerinas.
Lights out was slightly earlier tonight as very active days and short nights are beginning to take their toll on us all. However it’s 10.56pm and for some the sandman has yet to come.
A few pearls of wisdom to leave you with:
“Mrs Fitzroy, I’ve got a tummy ache in my chest”
“Mrs Davies, have you seen the Oreo cows?”
“No I haven’t which ones are they?”
“Look those over there, the ones with the white fat stripe around the middle.”
“Oh you mean the belted Galloways.” (You need to google them so you can see what they mean)
“Can anyone remember what the name was of the sheep that live on the fells around Hinning House?”
“Me, me I remember – Lola”
“No I meant the type of sheep”
“Ones with four legs”
Thursday 26th April
Mrs Davies and Mrs Mills were jolted from their beds this morning by a very loud banging noise – the sound of laughter led them to Esk Pike where they found Mason walking round bumping into things as he had the bin on his head. In answer to “What on earth do you think you’re doing with a bin on your head?”, the indignant reply from all six boys was “He’s being a dalek!” I suppose the answer was obvious really given the week we’ve had. Thank goodness the Tardis had only time-travelled to Hinning House at the very respectable hour of 6.30am!
The staff truly believe that all the children will come back pounds heavier given the amount of food they are eating. Don’t let them convince you they are fussy eaters or don’t have an appetite once they’re home. Breakfast was cereal followed by sausages, hash browns and beans plus toast for those who could squeeze it in.
Jobs done and onto the real fun of the day. Mrs Fitzroy and her group set off to complete a challenging orienteering course from Birk’s Bridge and Mrs Mills and co could be seen heading up the valley road on mountain bikes.
Mrs F’s group obviously has an eye for detail as the time taken to complete the course set a new record sadly for being the longest ever in the history of Hinning House. Any accolades are received gratefully by this group.
Who knew cattle grids could cause as many problems as they did for the cycling group. There were many refusals and false starts before the group finally made it to the track where they turn back to return to house down the far side of the river. Bogs, always a welcome sight to the J & I crew, were plentiful and Mrs Mills was gratefully she wasn’t in charge of cleaning them all on their return. The final challenge was to ride your bike across the river to the house. Bradley was the winner for getting the farthest before falling off. Millie won the best sport award for nearly getting as far as Bradders and then staging a spectacular sideways crash. Always game for every challenge Millie just sat laughing at herself in the chilly water with the bike on top of her. Lucy’s determination was immense. The challenging terrain wasn’t easy to ride on and she took many bumps and bangs but she always got back up and carried on even tackling the river challenge.
The afternoon saw Mrs Fitzroy and Mrs Mills swap groups to enable Mrs Mills another shot at the river challenge with Mrs F’s children and Mrs Fitzroy another chance to see the breath-taking views from the top of Border End.
This afternoon’s bikers had an excellent session, completing every challenge that was set them along with swimming in the river and jumping in bogs up to their waists. Thomas even brought back tadpoles in his wellies!!!
The mountaineers climbed to the top of Border End with no problems, Mrs Fitzroy said the William reminded her of spiderman.
Everyone was ready for the delicious roast pork dinner followed by sticky toffee pudding with ice cream.
After dinner packing, sorting and generally getting ready for the journey home was the order of the evening. As always the drying (or very wet) room took ages to organise and empty. The staff have tried their best to reunite odd socks, jogging pants and tops with their rightful owners. Suitcases were packed (be warned there are lots of wet and muddy clothes to be washed) and the tuck shop opened for last night souvenirs.
Everyone was in bed by 9.45am and we are hopeful of an early night.
Friday 27th April
The last day is always an early start as there is a lot to do before we set off for home, but still the children were up before the staff. Their resilience to very little sleep is astounding. Beds needed to be stripped, pyjamas packed and a hearty breakfast eaten before the last activity of the week.
We had planned on visiting the farm on Wednesday, but a cow in calf having a difficult time, meant that this was now Friday morning’s trip. Wellies and waterproofs on and everyone set off on the minibuses for the short journey.
A very enjoyable and fascinating couple of hours was spent, feeding lambs & calves, learning about Tina the donkey and what life is like on a Lakeland farm. Thomas astounded Sophie, the farmer, by informing her that sheep had rectangular pupils, a fact she had no idea of. It turns out that sheep, goats, octopuses and toads all have rectangular shaped pupils, it’s amazing the things you learn when you’re out and about with Lowton J & I children.
Back to the house to hand in equipment and borrowed clothing plus the final packing. Mrs Fitzroy decided the children’s cases and bags had shrunk over the time we’ve been away as not a single one of them could fit their clothes, shoes and goodness knows whatever else they’d brought with them into their bags to take home. After much pushing, pulling and sitting on of cases the trailer was finally loaded and we were nearly ready.
After lunch of jacket potatoes with a choice of various fillings (think the tuna, baked beans and cheese combination was the most unusual) it was time to say our goodbyes to Dave, the cook who has fed us so well; and Bill and Charlie, our instructors, with whom we have shared much fun and laughter over the week.
The children have risen to many personal challenges over the week and have overcome fears and worries, all in a safe, secure and supportive environment. I think everyone of us has learnt something new about ourselves but more than anything we have had fun and laughed until we cried and our sides ached. Hopefully memories were made that will last a life-time and in years to come the children will still be saying “Do you remember when we went to Hinning House and ……”.
Until next year …. x