Friday 11th March 2016
As is always the case on the last morning the children finally decided to sleep beyond 6.00am. Mrs Davies’ cheery and loud good mornings were not well received as she made her way through the house, but revenge can be sweet. Eventually every child was up, dressed and ready for breakfast. Sensibly, packing had been done the previous evening leaving the morning free for the final activity.
Everyone was back safely at 11.30am for the final push to ensure we were ready for the coach when it arrived. Mrs Davies wasn’t quite sure what Harvey was asking her when he said he needed something heavy to help him shut his suitcase!! It always amazes the staff how over the space of 4 days the suitcases and holdalls that neatly held all the children’s possession on the outward leg, somehow are no longer big enough and the demand for supplementary black plastic bags is overwhelming. I really should charge.
The staff at the centre shared their thoughts on the week (which were incredibly positive) with us over lunch and they were very complimentary about all the children, their behaviour and their manners. And then that was it, the coach was loaded with bags and children and the journey home began – thankfully much easier and quicker than the journey there. It has been an amazing week in a beautiful place.
My thoughts on the week? Well where do I start? As always I am immensely proud of every single one of the children we took away and all they have achieved. But this year more than any other, the week has taught me that there is no limit to what a young person can achieve given determination and a positive attitude; how wonderfully accepting and supportive children can be of others differences and needs; and why when it’s done properly inclusive education is a benefit to everyone. I’ve also learned that Lake Coniston is astonishingly cold in March – thanks Amelia.
This has been an exceptional week for so many reasons and once again I realise how lucky I am to have a job I love. Thank you to the staff who gave up their time (and sleep) to make this week happen and the children for all the fun, laughter and memories. Hinning House 2017 will be in early July – I for one can’t wait.
Thursday 10th March 2016
The day dawned glorious and dry, the sun has certainly shined on the righteous this week. Our resident weather forecaster Harrison (with a little help from Grandad’s printout) has been bob on all week with his predictions.
With three groups on the water this morning, only Mrs Davies’ group had their feet on dry land – well for the majority of the morning anyway. Two groups went kayaking and one, canoeing.
From their vantage point on the opposite bank of Coniston the action was entertaining to say the least. As Mrs Davies and her merry (no mutiny today) band sat and chatted about their victory in staying together on the self-lost walk, their eyes were caught by the sight of a kayak at 90’ to the lake and lots of splashing and screeching. The enthusiasm with which Mrs Mill’s group played water basketball in their kayaks was admirable so much so that over half of them capsized into the icy water. Obviously Lowton J & I children are a hardy bunch as without much ado they quickly got themselves back in their kayaks and continued their game.
It was the turn of Mrs Davies’ group to kayak in the afternoon. After a quick 10 minutes on the training pond the group had proved their sea legs so off onto the lake they went. It wasn’t a bicycle made for two but rather a kayak made for two that proved Mrs Davies’ undoing. Teamwork wasn’t the issue but rather the presence of a rogue rudder, albeit of the human form, that caused the boat to veer madly from side to side and catapult Mrs Davies unceremoniously overboard much to the children’s glee. “Did you want a swim Mrs Davies?” her first mate asked once she’d hauled herself back into the kayak.
Everyone is exhausted and has retired to their rooms - an early night (fingers crossed) is on the cards, there are many jobs to do tomorrow before we can all take part in our last morning of activities. Mrs Davies has set her alarm as the children always manage to lie in on the last morning and will need rousing from their sleep before they are ready – sometimes revenge is a dish best served cold …..
PS Friday’s blog will be posted over the weekend.
Wednesday 9th March 2016 - Day 3
Wednesday dawned bright and early for the children and staff at LBG, however 6.30am isn’t a bad lie-in for a midweek morning! Mrs Davies Senior was very impressed with the excellent manners of the children who put their heads though her open window to wish her a good morning, as she was just finishing drying her hair.
After a hearty breakfast of cereal, hash browns and beans followed by toast and jam, the real business of the day began.
Mr Woodford and his group went ghyll scrambling (climbing up a waterfall) – always one of the most popular activities. The children didn’t stay dry for long as they scrambled though the flowing river, helping and encouraging each other as they went along. Sadly unlike his young charges, Mr W was unable to jump into the deep plunge pool at the end as he only has one pair of shoes with him – well that’s his story.
Mr Maund and his merry men and women were back on the lake – this time in kayaks. Harrison managed to be the first person to fall out of his kayak whilst trying to help Levi retrieve his paddle, luckily for him the group weren’t travelling along crocodile creek.
Mrs Mills’ group went orienteering and have the accolade of being the first group this week to remain intact without the need of a rescue mission being mounted.
Mrs Davies and her group spent a very civilised morning walking round Tarn Hows, enjoying the scenery whilst keeping their beady eyes peeled for brown bears. Inevitably time was spent knee deep in a stream, there appears to be a very strong attraction to water for this group who have still to learn the secret of keeping dry feet is to not go in deeper than the top of your wellies.
Everyone exchanged stories about the morning activities at lunch over sandwiches, fruit and cake and then split off into their groups again.
That old Lowton favourite the self-lost walk reared its head this afternoon with Mr W’s group heading off into the forest to read maps, follow instructions and generally increase the blood pressure of the adults trying to follow them at a discrete distance.
Much to Mrs Davies’ delight the mutiny and hysteria of last year’s ghyl scramble at Hinning House was not repeated and every member of the party joined it and enjoyed themselves. The whole of the group (including those old enough to be Mr Woodford’s mother) jumped into the plunge pool and have taken great delight in ensuring he is reminded of this at every opportunity.
The children have just retired to bed and lights out will be soon. Everyone is having a great time and the children are a delight to spend time with. Every minute is filled with fun and laughter including those which in normal life are spent sleeping.
Tuesday 8th March 2016
It wasn’t the dawn chorus that woke Mrs Davies on the first full day – well not the regular type anyway rather the dull thud of something on her bedroom window. Ingenuity is not something the Lowton J & I Year 6 boys lack, in fact they have it in spades. As the boys found out yesterday on the coach, Mr M and Mr W can sleep through anything so they kindly decided to leave them asleep when they took their early morning exercise. Whilst Mrs Davies was extremely impressed by their thoughtfulness and boundless energy, it was quickly agreed that 6am snowball fights with torches were perhaps not the best way to start the day!
It was a very different view from the house this morning – a misty magical air was everywhere. The snow which wasn’t expected had covered the landscape and as one intrepid explorer exclaimed – “Look Mrs Mills – Everest!” Well not technically but we did all conquer own mini Everests today.
The M and Ms (Maund and Mills) took to the water with their groups in canoes and kayaks. Mid-lake gymnastics saw the canoers swap places in the boats without ending up in the water. Mr Woodford’s group did orienteering, which as regular readers know is the activity, where you get lost by using a map to find your way. Thankfully all children and Mr W returned to the house ….. eventually.
Mrs Davies and her select group went to the old slate mine at Tilberthwaite and explored the underground cavern known as the Cathedral before the majority of the party went further into the mine. Mrs Davies, Amelia and Jacob stayed above ground - Mrs Davies has a phobia of enclosed spaces and her two kind companions agreed to stay and keep their eyes on her. The three Amigos watched from their vantage point as ITV filmed for “This Morning” – look out for the blue and red waterproofs on March 21st. It was with utter surprise they were joined by Jeff Brazier who came to say hello. He spent 5 minutes chatting and explaining they were filming for a competition. Photographs were taken and he kindly agreed his photo could go on the blog. He spent time asking the children what they were doing and all about school and told us his boys – Freddie and Bobby would enjoy a week like that. It is probably not unkind to say Mrs Davies was the most starstruck of the three!
After lunch, Mr Maund’s group went orienteering; teamwork and co-operation abounded as the group successfully completed the course. Mrs Mills and her group took the minibus to the mine. A valuable lesson of always listening to instructions was quickly learnt once the children had been found. Mr (one pair of footwear will do) Woodford and Mrs Davies took to the water with their groups. The plan was to get over to the other side of the Lake and explore Crocodile Creek. Even the most disbelieving of eleven year olds were quickly spotting the baby crocs and flicking them away with their paddles – it is a little known fact that this area of the beautiful Lake District has such scary wildlife. Mrs Davies kindly tried to clean the mud off Mr Woodford’s one pair of shoes with water from the Lake and her paddle, sadly her compassionate actions were misunderstood and large scale warfare broke out. The screams of laughter rang across the Lake and it was a minor miracle that all members of the two groups managed to stay inside the canoes!
All 44 of us are currently enjoying toasted bagels and mugs of steaming hot chocolate for supper. Mr Woodford is threatening to serenade us with the back catalogue of Micheal Buble songs – mysteriously and most usually the children are asking to go to bed and have suggested they need to sleep!! I’ll update you on that tomorrow..
Lowbank Ground 2016
Monday 7th March
The usual round of “are we nearly there yet?” and “how much further?” started before the Standish junction was reached. However despite the excited chattering and singing it wasn’t too long before Mr W and Mr M were snoozing gently at the back of the coach (for some reason the male members of staff have an innate ability to sleep though anything!) – Sadly Mrs Davies (junior) and Mrs Mills were not so lucky. The lack of being able to “quality assure” the vast range of confectionary usually on offer was definitely one of the cons in Mrs Davies’ (senior) peaceful journey. The flashing signs warning of a long delay between junctions 32-34 did not prepare anyone for the gridlock to come. The static M6 was swapped for the equally congested A6 in an effort to try to escape the queues but to no avail. The children finally spilled off the coach after a 4 hour plus journey, and bags were quickly carried/dragged to the house. Then the search for the elusive lunches began! How so many sets of sandwiches and crisps disappeared on the short walk from the coach to the house and then miraculously reappeared in the wrong rucksack will never be known.
After lunch the party was quickly split into 4 groups and set off on the afternoon’s activities. Three groups set off into the forest behind Low Bank Ground to explore and the fourth group spent the afternoon orienteering around the centre grounds and paddling in the lake. The misconception that wellies have this magical ability to keep your feet dry even if the water is above your knees was quickly dispelled. Whilst up in the forest the attraction of crawling through a culvert under the forest track was just too strong…..the excitement of commando crawling through 6 inches of freezing water in the bottom of a 15 foot long pipe is a mystery beyond those in the group who are above 11 years old.
A delicious tea of pasta bolognaise with garlic bread followed by apple crumble and custard was enjoyed by everyone.
“The Alien Head Hunt” was the evening’s activity – much fun was had trying to find the aliens hid around the grounds and then return to Mrs Davies’ mother ship to get a point whilst remembering the aliens name and their six digit number. It is a good job that Lowton J & I have the centre to themselves this week – 39 children, 20 aliens, pitch black darkness, torches and many hiding places make for a very noisy 2 hours. “Otters trotters” had the honour of finding all 20 aliens and so claiming the winner’s prize.
Lights out at 10 sadly did not bring sleep, the Y5 boys were still going strong at 1.45am – the 4 hours until the Y6 girls woke Mrs Davies up went all too fast …….
Ps sorry about the lateness of posting this blog – the internet is very intermittent and the overnight snowfall hasn’t helped!!!!