Saturday, 15 June 2019

Isle of Wight 2019

Final greetings from the Isle of Wight to family and friends of Year 6,

At last! The sun has shown us what it can do on this final full day; we’ve enjoyed glorious sunshine on the beach and at Osborne House.

After a slightly later start (7:30) and breakfast (8:00), we had a leisurely time on the beach playing football and volleyball and ‘paddling’ in the refreshing clear water.  Some children’s interpretation of ‘paddling’ involved vigorous splashing and dunking themselves down to the shoulders, even though teachers were being spoilsports and insisting on them going no further than knee-depth.  They were surprised when this resulted in them becoming drenched to their skin and needing a full outfit change before hitting the sweet shop!

The Rock Shop in Sandown had a very good day of business today, and the man at the ice cream van at Osborne House was equally pleased that Edward Betham paid a visit!

At Osborne House, I felt right at home, seeing all the old trees where my ancestors lived in Queen Victoria’s time.  The grounds are just as glorious and the house itself just as imposing as when Prince Albert designed it, and he and his royal wife (a famous animal-lover) holidayed here.  It was by a long way her favourite place, and we agreed that it would be nice to have as a holiday home, with its 24-carat gold carved ceilings and priceless art and antiques in every room.  There was some confusion about Victorian living, with the lidded bathtub being an especial talking-point. ‘Is it a tomb?’ and ‘When they put the lid down wasn’t that a bit difficult to have a bath in?’ were the teachers’ favourite questions.  Many children speculated about the value of the objects and furnishings as they travelled through the spectacular interior- families should perhaps suggest Antiques Roadshow as an alternative to YouTube?  Mrs Lawrence panicked a little when one child asked how much the school would have to pay if he accidentally smashed an ornate vase- apparently Edward Betham might have to close down in order to settle the bill!  I was pleased when that wasn’t necessary as I do love my annual holiday. 

While one group toured the house, the other took part in a workshop, in which my friends became trainee servants in the household of Queen Victoria.  They were trained by Mrs Pilkington, a senior servant with exceptionally high standards, who made the children appreciate what strict really means (and how gentle and understanding their parents and other adults in their lives really are!)  I must say that many children became quite expert at serving meals, sweeping, dusting, making beds and general food preparation- I’m sure they’ll be keen to practise these skills when they come home.  Use it or lose it!  The teachers particularly liked the Victorian habit of children answering every adult by greeting them by name, e.g. ‘Please Mrs Pilkington, should I serve the soup now, Mrs Pilkington?’  I wonder if Miss Chamberlain will introduce this back at school... 

Tonight, of course, is the disco after fish and chips. I hope it will be the same DJ as in previous years; it’s a wonderful chance to catch up on the latest songs that are popular with young people.  I hope he has Peppa Pig, the Scout chant, and It’s Raining Men on 7-inch single (or has technology moved on to the cassette here?)  If so, I know my new friends will be delighted. It will certainly be an interesting evening! 

The coach driver for the day described us as a ‘really nice school’ and Mrs Pilkington would definitely hire a few of them- another day of exemplary manners. Well done, Year 6!

Tomorrow we have the Needles cruise to look forward to before making our way home- we will be delighted to see you and have loved the blog comments every night. 

Thank you for loaning us your delightful children this week- it has been entertaining, exhausting and yet thoroughly enjoyable!



Dear family and friends of Edward Betham’s Year 6 2019,

I have passed another absolutely brilliant, if tiring, day in the company of my new good friends. What a lovely bunch of children they are! As you have probably seen from the photographs that have been uploaded during the day, a good time has certainly been had by all. Once again, a member of the public at Robin Hill Country Park praised our children for being particularly patient and caring when her toddler was stuck in an adventure playground. She made a point of coming over to tell the teachers about it. A staff member at Robin Hill also commented on the wonderful manners of our children, though that was after a range of ice creams, fizzy drinks and milkshakes had been purchased! Nevertheless, the Edward Betham teachers are incredibly proud of their pupils. They have certainly been very patient with me, as I am a tiny animal and do not have their stamina and skill at clambering, climbing, zip wiring and bouncing.

One unusual feature of this year is how many children don’t want the window seat on the coach, but wherever they’re positioned it’s lovely to see how many of them sit with a wide range of different people, forging some new relationships.  There was also some confusion with the difference between an ‘executive’ coach and an ‘execute’ coach from one 6HB boy. I’m pleased to say that we’re travelling in the former.  The journeys have been a little muted today as many children have begun to lose their voices through their enthusiastic singing and late-night chats.

We began the day at Tapnell Farm Park, where many children met wallabies, alpacas, meerkats, sheep, pigs (confused with hippos by one boy whom shall remain nameless) and lots more... Some children were more diverted by the go-carts, football scoring game, zip-wire and bouncy pillows, although their teachers encouraged them to at least glance at the farm animals before carrying on their adventures!  The small furries were particularly cute, and some children got close to these during a hands-on session.  One 6AD girl overcame her fear of birds and stroked a chick!

After lunching in the farm’s cafe, where everyone ate their fill (they are a hungry bunch!), we travelled to Robin Hill. Some children had a short nap at this point, as there is no rest for the fun-loving!

At Robin Hill, the drizzle meant that both the toboggan and longer slide were closed, however there was so much else to do that this was not a problem.  The activities list was long: net courses, trampolines, adventure playgrounds, 4D cinema, a maze, and the ever-popular pirate ship.  After multiple turns on the pirate ship, some children were looking a little seasick!

Tonight is sausage and mash night, and this is highly anticipated (as long as there’s gravy) followed by laser tag/crazy golf.  The weather has been kind so far today, and we’re sure it will stay dry for these great events.  The children have endless energy  (and emergency biscuits when this flags) but the teachers are keeping up with them through a strict regimen of 60% caffeine 40% carbohydrates.

Tomorrow is beach (if sunny) and sweet shop- all of my friends have money left for this- much more sensible than in previous years!

So for now it’s time to bid you farewell; be in touch soon!



Good evening parents, family and friends,

Last night, after the blog was posted, the children were treated to a trip to Sandown Pier! Despite the recommended ‘maximum spend’ implemented by the teachers, children had a fantastic time on the rides, including the teacups, the helter skelter and the dodgems - a favourite amongst pupils AND teachers! We returned to the hotel for a quiet reflection, as well as reading the blog, before retreating to beds for the evening.

As you probably know from checking the weather forecast for the Isle of Wight today, the weather has been a little far from the tropical ideal that Mrs Lawrence mentioned the island is famous for.  Perfect for red squirrels though! It seems equally perfect for this intrepid group of children as well, who have not let the drizzle nor even the downpours affect their enjoyment of a fun-packed day.
Starting with either tree climbing or a long session in an indoor pool, then a swap over, lots of playing (even cricket in conditions that would send international-level players running for the pavilion) and plenty of bonding with friends old and new, we rounded off the afternoon with some eagerly-anticipated ‘downtime’ in hotel rooms.  After an early dinner, we have split into two groups again, with one group taking part in laser quest, and another group on Shanklin seafront enjoying crazy golf.  Without any fuss, the children have organise themselves into groups of four for the golf, proving their adaptability and skills at getting on with a wide range of other people.

In the pool this morning, it was fantastic to see the children’s teamwork and healthy sense of competition, as they competed 6AD v 6HB And then in their houses. With brilliant sportsmanship and skilful playing shown by an equal number of boys and girls, I was truly impressed – even whilst getting soaked!

Along with the ball game, three girls caught choreographed a lovely synchronised routine in the shallow end, and lots of other children bobbed around on noodles.

Meanwhile, the team tackling the tree climbing really pushed themselves to the limit – every single child in Year 6 took part, with many reaching all the way to the top.  This year, the Goodleaf coaches have set out the ropes in a much taller tree than in previous years,so it was remarkable to see how children who had never attempted tree climbing, or ever been in a rope harness, were confidently hanging from a rope metres and metres in the air!

I can be quite a sensitive little squirrel, and my ears have taken quite a battering at times this trip, as the children are very keen on singing competitions – the front versus the back of the coach. I’ve heard some wonderful singing, from children who are taking part in a musical evening apparently, it’s fair to say I’ve heard a fair amount of screeching too.  I didn’t know that nursery rhymes, the Peppa Pig theme tune, and even the 1970s disco hit ‘It’s Raining Men’, were so popular with today’s youth. I’ve particularly enjoyed the theme tune to ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ being performed on the coach as it brought everyone together, even though Miss King had to look up the lyrics before she could join in...

Some children were surprised that tea was not chicken nuggets and chips, but rather homemade breaded chicken fillet with new potatoes and baked beans. Most were delighted about this change though – especially when it was finished with a pudding of freshly-prepared chocolate mousse!

As already mentioned, this  evening, half of the children are taking part in a battle involving lasers, whilst the other half will battle it out on the putting green during crazy golf! I’m sure we will have lots to say about these activities tomorrow, as the children are incredibly excited!

It has been another fabulous day here – we are having the best time ever, unconcerned with the wet weather. Again, several people have mentioned the children’s lovely manners, including a teacher from the school we are sharing the hotel with. Apparently, not every child moves out of the way in a corridor or greets adults in a confident yet polite way, but I wouldn’t know about that because I’ve only ever accompanied Edward Betham to the Isle of Wight. It was wonderful as well to see the children encouraging each other throughout the day, however high they climbed or however far they swam, whether it took many attempts to get the golf ball to its destination, or whether they got a hole-in-one – it is very uplifting to be with these children!

So I bid you goodnight back in London, and promise you that your children are well fed, ‘well happy’ but to be honest, not very well rested!


Dear parents, family and friends of Year 6,

Good evening, I am the Edward Betham Isle of Wight mascot, and I have been given the unusual name ‘Nutmeg’ by my new friends.  Our residential visit got off to a great start – with a very clear journey, no travel sickness, and plenty of fun and games on the coach. Some girls entertained themselves by playing a game I’ve not seen before – ‘Say It Don’t Spray It’- which involves putting plastic mouthguards on and trying to say phrases like ‘I’ve got a soggy bottom’ for the other person to guess. It certainly passed the time!  One thing I have noticed about this Year 6 is that they are very environmentally conscious!  Some children were on the lookout for plastic waste in the Solent, and all of them were horrified when black smoke emerged from the funnel whilst we were all on deck. Cries of ‘Pollution!’ could probably be heard back in Southampton.  An early lunch was topped up mid afternoon with a few biscuits.  As always, Edward Betham were very welcome at the donkey sanctuary. Derek, the ex-headteacher who now runs the charity, commented upon how he always loves to have our children visit, as they are a great combination of enthusiastic and polite. The teachers certainly seemed very impressed too!  We split into five groups to learn even more than in previous years about these lovely furry friends.  The children gained both practical and theoretical knowledge of donkey evolution, teeth care and issues, and of course weight loss and behaviour problems – two of the most interesting subjects! To the children’s delight, the infamous Dennis was really playing up today – head-butting and barging all of his peers out of the way in desperation to get to the children, who possibly had some food.     ‘Please may every school that comes this summer be as polite as your school!’ exclaimed Derek as we left, tired but happy.

For many, the highlight of the day has been seeing the fabulous Sandringham Hotel, even smarter than the pictures indicated.  With waiter service, three courses, fabric tablecloths, and even wine glasses for the water, the children are really living the life of… you know who, but for data protection I will not finish the sentence!  The meal was plentiful and delicious, and many children scraped their plates clean to show their appreciation.  The children are all absolutely delighted with their choice of roommates, and the independence of having their own room key. Mr Carney has completed his first room inspection, with many children scoring well, and the pair of boys who scored a dismal 2 out of 10 being requested to have a tidy-up before we hit the pier.  The glamorous ballroom, the site for Thursday’s disco, has also been much admired by the children. And with spectacular sea views to top it all off, we really are all settling in very well indeed.

I hope that you are not missing your lovely children too much back in London, and please be rest assured we are really having a great time! Until tomorrow,


And we’re off!