Hinning House - March 2015
Monday, 16th March 2015
The journey to Hinning House passed without major incident. In fact it was quite a quiet and uneventful coach trip. This time we managed to leave the coach driver’s bags on the coach when we switched to the minibuses, unlike in January when Mrs Davies ended up with his holdall and rucksack as well as her own. At least the children had paid attention when told to leave nothing behind!
9 miles down a single track road in minibuses is always an adventure especially when Mrs Davies is one of the drivers. It was with great relief that the party all arrived safely with no one having been sick. The bags were quickly unloaded and carried into the house. Everyone joined in helping each other to reunite the right bags with the right owners in the right rooms. And then the great picnic lunch began. Sandwiches, crisps and biscuits were eaten and swapped.
In an effort to attract the right Mrs Davies’ attention, the children hit upon the bright idea of Mrs Davies Senior and Mrs Davies Junior (purely based on age not job!) Obviously these were a bit of a mouthful so Mrs Davies Junior quickly just became Junior!
Then it was into groups and off we set exploring. The ultimate destination for both groups was the summit of Castle How, just across the River Duddon from Hinning House. After scrambling over rocks and up grassy slopes the mountain goats from Lowton J & I reached the summit. Time was spent taking in the magnificent views and then with lots of laughter the groups slid and skidded their way back down to the river.
The only way to get back to the house was across the river via the stepping stones …..well that was the plan. But as with all the best laid plans something always goes awry. In an effort to be the first across the river the children dispensed with the stepping stones and just waded their way across.
Wet clothes safely in the drying room and then it was tea. Don’t worry about anyone not eating, the food is delicious and we definitely won’t go hungry.
Lights out at 10.00pm but as I write this at 10.15pm there is still lots of chatting and giggling. The first night is always the latest but hopefully by midnight everyone including the staff will be asleep – we’re not holding our breath though. Good night, sweet dreams.
Tuesday, 17th March 2015
It was a bright Spring morning when the first child launched themselves from their bunk bed – 6.28am was slightly earlier than the staff had hoped for but I suppose they should count themselves lucky - they’d had 4 hours of unbroken sleep, what more could be wished for?
Just before breakfast Kian announced to the assembled party in complete surprise “look what my Mum’s packed me – SOAP!” Many other children expressed surprise at the fact that they’d got soap and shower gel too, Mrs Davies Jnr suggested that if they added water they could use it to have a wash; the suggestion was met with many shrugs and mutterings of “maybe tomorrow”.
After breakfast Mrs Davies Snr and her group set off on the now legendary self-lost walk. It never ceases to amaze that following exactly the same instructions to arrive at exactly the same destination; the children can manage to find so many different routes. Don’t worry even a barbed wire fence doesn’t get in the way of the intrepid Lowton J & I explorers. The highlight of this morning’s escapade was the look of bewilderment on the faces of the residents of Browside Farm as they sat enjoying a peaceful cup of tea in their garden in the beautiful morning sunshine when the group merrily opened the gate, walked through their front garden, bid them a polite “Good Morning” and then continued with their adventure. Thankfully all 12 members returned safely to the house for lunch, sadly for Mrs Davies Snr with more white hairs than when she left.
Mrs Mills and Junior’s group spent the morning orienteering in the wild forest of the Duddon Valley. Brown grizzly bears and wild wolves were spotted by this eagle-eyed group – oh and an elephant! Eight children who had finished the course were sent off to find the ones who had failed to return, unfortunately only 6 of those returned. After an” interesting” game of find the child the whole party made their way back for lunch. As Kian explained it had taken him so long to complete the course as he had had to stop for a ..”pastille”! We have since implemented and practised “Bear Safety” drills! I’m sure the children will demonstrate these if you ask on their return.
After a hearty lunch of soup and sandwiches, both groups spent the afternoon Ghyl scrambling up Hard Knott Ghyl. Even though the Ghyl was as empty of water as Mrs Davies could remember it being, the children managed to get completely wet from head to foot. On his return Joe said “Aww you should have come Junior, you would really have loved it”. “Would I?” replied Mrs Davies Jnr, “No!” said Joe with knowing sarcasm.
Indoor orienteering – well let’s face it, it has to be less stressful – was the first activity of the evening followed by a game of Bingo. Lowton J & I’s resident bingo caller has been teaching the children all the catchphrases that go with the numbers; however they were warned that if they made that much noise at BJ’s Bingo they would quickly be asked to leave.
Peace has finally descended on Hinning House and all the children are in bed, well in their bedrooms at least. We’re all looking forward to another exciting adventure tomorrow. Love to everyone.
Wednesday, 18th March 2015
Fencegate . . . there are no words!!!
How does the old saying go? Oh yes, “There’s no sleep for the wicked”. Well the staff from Lowton J & I have obviously been very bad in a previous life if this week is anything to go by. It has been decreed that no matter how tired the Y5 girls seem at 8.30pm they are not going to sleep until much later in the hope that they manage to stay in bed until after 5.30am!
For Mrs Davies Senior’s group the day began with the brilliant “Fencegate” episode. As one of the children asked with a wry smile “How many people does it take to get a teaching assistant over a fence?” – the answer is 5! After regaining their composure the group made their way to a nearby rock face to go abseiling and rock climbing. All the children managed to get to the top of the cliff face and then abseiled down; some of the braver ones came down without holding onto the rope. Then began an intense debate about how to get back to the house for lunch avoiding wire fences and river crossings. Mrs Davies Senior and Junior plus Lewis, James, Heather, Hadiqa and Isabella took the “easy” option of going across a boggy field to reach a forest track – a rather long winded route but it had to be much better than a repeat of Fencegate – or so we thought! Unfortunately we hadn’t counted on the stream running through the middle of the field – Lewis demonstrated the ease of which to cross with a James Bond roll and the rest of the party followed suit in some sort of a fashion except Mrs Davies Junior. After a lot of coaxing and encouragement she was persuaded to take the leap of faith, probably mistakenly with hindsight however hindsight is a great gift after the event. Mrs D Junior managed to get one foot across the great divide but sadly her trailing leg didn’t make it and she ended up on all fours straddling the stream and then there was, as Lewis eloquently described it, an avalanche! The stream bank collapsed and Mrs Davies was catapulted across the stream to re-join the others. No one could move for over 5 minutes for laughing, Mrs Davies Senior laughed so much she couldn’t breathe! A rather shaken Mrs Davies Junior was helped/dragged to her feet and the group continued back to the house. However their journey was punctuated by many giggle breaks and “breathers” for Mrs Davies Junior.
Mrs Mills and her group had scaled “Border End” at the top of Hard Knott Pass. They all managed to summit despite some scary bits and a few tears.
The afternoon saw the groups doing the opposite activities which everyone enjoyed. Mrs Davies Junior decided to remain at the house and was found fast asleep and snoring when we returned!
In the evening everyone enjoyed a few games of Bingo followed by a Beetle Drive. Hot chocolate with marshmallows and toast was on the menu for supper. Exactly how the children managed to fit it in given the tea they had eaten is a mystery.
It has been such a brilliant day with so much laughter; goodness knows what tomorrow will bring!
Love to all from everyone at Hinning House xx
Thursday, 19th March 2015
Thursday dawned sunny and bright and, as has been the norm this week, very early. It has become obvious as the week has gone on that the Y5 and 6s from Lowton J & I are resilient young people. Sleep deprivation has not robbed them of their energy or enthusiasm nor has it subdued the noise levels.
Mrs Mills and her group of merry men spent the morning in the abandoned slate quarries at Tilberthwaite. Scenes from “Snow White and the Hunstman” were filmed here. It’s truly a magical place-it features various chambers and tunnels, including one which is 400 feet long. The quarry's main attraction, 'The Cathedral', is a 40-foot high main chamber lit by two windows with a huge rock pillar supporting the roof. In the main chamber is a small lake which much to the children’s amazement contained goldfish – why or how these fish got here is a mystery.
Mrs Davies Senior and her group were accompanied on their mountain bike ride by ”Jett”, who is the cook at Hinning House’s dog. Despite having a few novice mountain bikers the group made good progress down the valley towards Cockley Beck. Many novel ways of stopping without the use of brakes were observed; riding into a team mate, careering into dry stone walls, jumping off a moving bike and letting it come to a natural riderless halt and the one which had Mrs Davies covering her eyes – grabbing onto a barbed wire fence – luckily small hands fit snuggly between the barbs! Bogs, streams, sheep, cows and finally the River Duddon were all successfully negotiated and the group returned wet and muddy but with all limbs intact to the house.
The weather was so lovely that lunch became an impromptu picnic. Cheese pasties, various sandwiches, cake and fruit later the groups were ready for their afternoon activities.
Mrs Mills’ group found their progress down the valley hampered by a puncture, a few unplanned dismounts, a game of dodgems with a flock of sheep, oh and a destroyed bike – happily the rider escaped unscathed except for a scratched finger.
Mrs Davies Junior spent a gut wrenching and nerve jangling 30 minutes as the children took great delight in describing the 100 foot sheer drops, just inches from the side of the minibus, as the party made their way over Wrynose Pass to Tilberthwaite.
After a magnificent roast pork dinner followed by sticky toffee pudding and ice-cream the evening has been spent making viewers so the solar eclipse tomorrow morning can be viewed in safety – that is all supposing the thick cloud cover which is forecast doesn’t materialise.
As the last evening draws to a close Mrs Davies Senior has just become aware that one of Lowton J & I's Head boys has worn his pyjamas under his clothes every day to save time getting changed at night - Mrs Davies is guessing his soap is still in the packet too!!
A very busy morning lies ahead before the journey home. Please check with the school office in the afternoon for our expected time of arrival back at school.
Good night, love to everyone xx
PS Friday's blog will probably be posted on Sunday evening
Friday 20th March 2015
Sadly the one morning that needed to be clear and sunny dawned damp and with thick cloud cover all over the Duddon Valley as the first footfall of the Y5 girls was heard.
Plenty of jobs had to be completed before breakfast and the morning activities. Happily taking the duvets out of the covers was far easier than putting them in! Unusually, the drying room had been kept in good order and everyones’ clothes were dry and ready to be packed.
All week the children have eaten really well and today’s breakfast was no exception – bacon, hash browns and beans plus cereal and toast were quickly devoured. When the instructors arrived the children were already busy with their jobs and it wasn’t long before the groups were in their meeting rooms listening to the plans for the morning.
Mrs Mills and her group were participating in a shortened version of the self-lost walk; the morning was time limited and after the escapades earlier in the week if we were to leave for home on time difficult decisions needed to made. Mrs Davies Junior and Senior were going with their group to the orienteering course; Mrs Davies Snr expressed reservations as this activity provided plenty of opportunities for wading through bogs and streams and generally getting very wet and muddy and with all clothes being packed away the thought of travelling home with dirty and wet children was not appealing.
Amazingly the self-lost walk was completed successfully with no rescue missions needed, however, Mrs Davies Senior’s worst fears came true. But it wasn’t the children that returned to the house wet and smelly – it was Mrs Davies Senior who misjudged a pool and ended up in a 3 foot deep bog – her wellies will provide sustenance for the sheep for years to come.
It was with sad faces that everyone climbed onto the mini buses to begin the journey home. Everyone had had a fantastic time and had grown so much in so many ways. Despite the efforts of one opposing manager in the Schools Fantasy Football League who had blackmailed 2 children to hack into and sell all her players, Mrs Davies Snr’s team remains intact – testament to the close bond between children and staff this week. The children have been amazing and such fun to be with; they are such wonderful individuals.
And as for Mrs Davies Senior………………. Well it makes me realise how lucky I am to have the best job in the whole world. Here’s to Low Bank Ground in March 2016 – be warned letters will be sent home next week.