Category Archives: Pinewood Adventure

Year 8 Leavers’ Trip to Wales

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Replacing the legendary trip to the Pyrenees was a big task, but with some amazing places only a couple of hours away, South Wales did not disappoint. Most importantly our leavers rose to the challenges that were set them. A kind parent e-mailed in a few hours after our return to say her son had enjoyed “ the time of his life”. Certainly many children experienced new activities and they loved every one of them.

Day One saw an easy two hour journey to Porthcawl where we were kitted out with wetsuits. We then travelled another 30 minutes past Neath to Pontneddfechan on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. What a place! Gorge walking was a new experience for most and one I am sure that everyone would want to repeat. The valley was stunning with amazing rock formations, waterfalls, caves and a river. At times we scrambled, climbed, traversed, squeezed through holes and most importantly jumped in! The jumps were epic into cold, deep water. Our wetsuits kept us surprisingly warm, our hearts raced with adrenalin and the children screamed with exhilaration. In the words of the Teletubbies, “again, again”. We travelled on to our accommodation, had supper and just got the TV working in time to watch England in the World Cup. We had a quick quiz which I had prepared just in case of inclement weather, easily won by 8AG. An episode of silly ‘Miranda’ , which Edie almost quoted verbatim, and it was time for bed.

I had promised everyone a stunning view from our hillside lodge, but the cloud remained firmly down on Tuesday and the persistent drizzle endured. However, spirits were not dampened as we headed to Aberavon beach, only 20 minutes away. I say 20 but AG’s Australian satnav had clearly had a couple of tinnies and certainly did not think the grey morning merited some surf. The Headmaster, who had joined us for the day, was slightly indignant that he had travelled from Wiltshire and had been on time! I must admit to have never really understood the appeal of surfing. I do now. Our wetsuits were again brilliant. The water was surprisingly warm, the waves quite big and certainly powerful and when you actually caught one, you flew into the shore. Standing up was almost impossible for the beginners in just one session, but our more experienced surfers were amazingly balanced. Everyone also had a chance to boogie board and hilariously try the six person giant surfboard, which came with its own instructor. Laughter was constant with massive wipe-outs ! On the promenade Mr and Mrs Hoyland were inspired in buying chips for everyone to supplement our packed lunch. The hot salty potato was central heating before we headed back to the relative warmth of the water for the afternoon. A hastily arranged game of Ten Pin in nearby Swansea finished the day. I say nearby ….. Our return journey saw the blue bus of Benbow/Downe  bustle to the front of our flotilla, clearly frustrated by the geographical incompetence of others and the inability of Siebert to get out of third gear. Such fun! The Hoylands returned to Pinewood after supper, the view still grey cloud. Table tennis, giant Jenga and Wii Dance completed our evening. If bedtime on Monday was unsurprisingly less than smooth, the children were contentedly out like lights for the rest of the week.

Wednesday arrived with the mizzle now becoming boring. Our guides were still happy to ascend Pen Y Fan so with clothes aplenty, rainwear and food, up we went. AW finally managed to get somewhere without needing to turn round! The children had to endure a difficult two hours. The views were non-existent, the wind howling at our backs and the rain persistent, if not heavy. Resilience is a word that is banded around in education speak and our 41 boys and girls displayed it in abundance. Our guides were hugely impressed by their fitness and spirit. Some could easily have done more, but having reached the summit of 2807 ft, we quickly descended to the car park, ate lunch and returned to base to find some dry clothes. On our return to Bryn Bettws, the cloud had begun to lift, the view was emerging. We returned to Swansea, the boys in blue seemingly leading the way and disappearing in a cloud of dust down the rough track to the bottom of the hill. We had booked to go swimming and a lazy 90 minutes was spent sliding, jumping (when the wave machine was finally turned on) and then in some beautiful hot showers. Vending machines emptied, the children were able to play outside without structure and finally admire the view.

Thursday had been long in the planning. AW, CAG and SD had all been down last year to recce the mountain bike trails of the Afan Forest Park. Split into two groups, we combined this with a return to Aberavon beach, now bathed in glorious sunshine. What a day!!! The morning bike group enjoyed the skills trail and the lower level trail. Our mountain bike hire company, Afan Valley Bike Shed, were simply outstanding and the quality of their equipment was amazing. We all met up for lunch, with the more experienced cyclists, who regularly go out with Mr Downe on a Thursday, poised for the challenge of the Blue Scar trail. They had the cycle of their lives. AG said it was his favourite activity of the week and the heroic Mr Downe was able to sit on the terrace that evening, take in the now stunning view and contemplate with pride what he had inspired the children to achieve. Meanwhile, on the now stunning beach of Aberavon, the morning cyclists played like little children, dug holes, built sandcastles, skipped, swam under the watchful gaze of the RNLI and doubled the takings of Remo’s restaurant. They had a menu, such was the breadth of ice cream flavours! EB did not talk for several minutes as he demolished Ferrero Rocher and Salted Caramel.

We packed up efficiently on Friday morning and left the stunning location of Bryn Bettws for the final time. The fun was not over as a day at the Adventures Wales centre near Porthcawl beckoned. The sun was now a permanent fixture in the sky as the children rotated between quad bikes, paint ball, climbing and a high ropes challenge. The pace of the day was perfect for the now weary children and staff. SD even had a sneaky kip before springing into life for the final paintball session. EB, CAG and AW all sneaked on a quad bike for quality control purposes. The M4 briefly threatened our return journey, but we were still 15 minutes early returning to base. Happy days!

Huge thanks must go to the children. They were praised everywhere they went for their manners and their fortitude. We had urged them to show a level of spirit, cooperation and teamwork that they had previously not displayed. Invigorated, motivated and with a big smile on their faces, they nailed it!

Finally, I must thank my colleagues profusely. I may have organised the finer details of the trip, but they were the ones that made it all work. Miss Parris had the unenviable task of surgery. Georgia had a satnav that actually worked, Mrs Hoyland calmly reassured at all times, Benbow kept spirits raised, Siebo has a future career in logistics, Mr Downe threw himself into everything and secretly wants to ditch Maths for cycling full time and Mr AG has been a sounding board throughout this whole process offering his wise counsel and unstinting support for whatever decisions were made.

Replacing the Pyrenees was quite a task. The Welsh dragon is breathing fire !

AW

For more photos of the trip, please go to the Photo Gallery.

The Year 8 Leavers’ Trip So Far

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Monday: Journey / easy

Gorge walk / stunning

Jumps / epic

Children / exhilirated

England / victorious

Bedtime / eventually !

Tuesday:  Weather / still drizzling

Surfing / exciting

Giant surfboard / hilarious

Hot chips / inspired HM !

Waves / perfect

Ten pin / competitive

Satnav / unreliable

Bedtime / instant !

Wednesday: Weather / still rubbish

Pen y fan / shrouded

Path / climbing

Children / stoic

2807 ft / conquered

Clothes / sodden

Swimming / soothing

Evening / sunshine !!!

Children / playing

View / pretty

Bedtime / instant !

Thursday: Children / still sleeping

Fitness freaks / running

Weather / promising

Mountain bikes & beach / later

For more photos please go to the Photo Gallery or see our Twitter feed. There will be more photos when the trip returns.

Ski Trip Blog – Day 7

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Our final day on the slopes was a cold one accompanied by some falling snow! The children all finished off their packing this morning before and after breakfast and then we all headed up the mountain ready for our last few hours of skiing. Lots of fun had by all in some potentially tricky conditions but, as ever, the children handled themselves brilliantly.

When we got back to the hotel after skiing we all showered, got dressed and then had a big meal before starting our bus journey home.

This really has been a brilliant week of skiing. As I mentioned last night, the children have all been fantastic and have been a credit to you as parents and us as a school. We, as teachers, hope that the children are returning home with brilliant memories and a thirst for more skiing.

Ski Trip Blog – Day 6

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Despite my reservations about whether the sun was going to shine for us today, our luck with the weather continued! More fantastic skiing from everyone today with the beginner groups taking on some more red runs, the more experienced groups tackling some moguls and everyone enjoying yet more perfect conditions on the slopes. This was our last full day of skiing so everyone was keen to make the most of it!

After skiing the children were able to choose between two activities; heading into town for more shopping/crepes/gelato or going to the ‘fun park’ for some fun in the snow. All parties had a great time and enjoyed their apres-ski activity. Once the children had showered and dressed we conducted the final room inspection of the week ahead of the results this evening and, funnily enough, everyone made an extra effort to tidy their rooms tonight!

This evening saw another lovely 3 course supper followed by a presentation ceremony by the ski instructors from Interski. The children received different awards for their efforts throughout the week and the instructors all remarked on how brilliant the Pinewood children had been and what a credit they have been to us as a school; a wonderful way to round off a brilliant week!

We can’t quite believe that tomorrow will be our last day of the trip; where has the week gone?! Great fun has been had and we will all leave tomorrow with fantastic memories from an amazing week of skiing.

 

Ski Trip Blog – Day 5

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More glorious weather today (apologies, that may be getting boring to read each day!) and more fantastic skiing from all groups. The beginner groups carried on working on their parallel turns down some blue runs whilst all of the other groups continued to push themselves to progress even further on the slopes. All of the Interski instructors have commented on how well each group is doing and how impressed they are with the progress that they are making, which has been wonderful to hear.

After skiing we headed straight down into town to give the children some free time to explore and look around the local shops and, more importantly to them, the creperies and gelaterias! We then headed back to the hotel to get showered and ready for supper and then after supper headed out for some ice skating fun! A few children opted to stay in the hotel and get an early night instead of joining the ice skating activity as the busy days of skiing are catching up with them.

There are some thick clouds developing over the mountains tonight so we may not be lucky with glorious sunshine tomorrow but, as we are skiing, some more snow would certainly be a welcome sight!

For more photos, please go to the Photo Gallery

Ski Trip Blog – Day 4

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We really have been blessed with the most amazing weather so far this trip. Whilst today was the coldest day we’ve had, the sun was still shining beautifully for us.

We all had another action packed day today with all of the beginners now having been on the button lift and some of them even navigating some red runs! The most experienced group tackled some tricky black runs today and their instructor was more than impressed with how they all handled themselves. All of the other groups carried on fantastically taking on trickier runs and they have all commented that they feel as though their skiing is improving every day, which is brilliant.

After our day of skiing had finished and we had showered and dressed we all headed onto the bus to go to our bowling activity. Great fun was had at bowling and the children certainly enjoyed trying to beat their teachers which, unfortunately for us, most did…!

We have just had some very delicious roast pork for supper and everyone is now in bed sleeping soundly, building up some more energy for another action-packed day of skiing tomorrow.

For more photos please go to the Photo Gallery.

Ski Trip Blog – Day 3

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We woke up to more stunning weather in Courmayeur this morning! The sun was shining, the skies were clear and everyone was ready and raring to head up the mountain! When we arrived at the gondola to take us up the mountain there was a large group of professional skiers waiting to head up for a slalom race so there were lots of excited and inspired Pinewood children after our encounter.

Once we’d kitted up we then went our separate ways again. The beginner groups again headed to the ‘baby bowl’ where they continued perfecting their turns and one group even managed to go up a small slope on the button lift and skied down it! The other beginner group are also doing brilliantly and will be heading up on the button lift tomorrow!

Groups 2 – 5 all continued to work hard on the slopes taking on board lots of advice and improving their skiing whilst enjoying the prefect conditions.

When we got back from skiing we showered, dressed and tidied dorms for the ongoing dorm competition and then had a bit of relaxation time ahead of supper out tonight. We have just returned from a delicious supper at a pizzeria in town where we had lots of different pizzas to enjoy and some birthday celebrations for a few children with birthdays on the trip. The children are now settling down into bed ready for another day of skiing tomorrow.

For more photos please go to the Photo Gallery.

 

Ski Trip Blog – Day 2

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What a day we have all had! We all woke up very excited to hit the slopes so we got through breakfast quickly so we could get started! When we arrived on the mountain the weather was stunning; clear blue skies and lovely sunshine! We quickly booted up, collected our skis and met our fantastic instructors, then headed further up the mountain.

The different ability groups split off at this stage with the beginners heading up to the ‘baby bowl’ where they learnt how to go up a slope in a chair lift, put skis on, ‘scoot’ on one ski, get into a snow plough position and then start skiing down a small slope as well as adding in some turns and jumps! Everyone made brilliant progress and we’re looking forward to seeing this continue tomorrow.

The Level 2 children refreshed their skills and started doing some gentle skiing. Level 3 again refreshed their skills and then started on the slopes, and Levels 4 and 5 headed straight onto the slopes whilst receiving advice on how to improve their technique. All the children did fantastically and the Interski instructors were very impressed with their attitudes and abilities.

Once skiing had finished for the day (we of course stopped for lunch in the sunshine in between the skiing!) we headed down the mountain to our first of two activities – ‘bum boarding’! The children all enjoyed sliding down a few slopes on their rubber boards and then we all walked into Courmayeur town for a trip to the local gelato shop! As you can imagine, this went down very well with the children and after they had had their ice cream they were given some free time to wander around the shops and were gently encouraged to look for potential gifts for families at home (we did our best for you all!).

We have just had another delicious 3 course supper, the Middle School children are tucked up in bed (8:45pm) and the Upper School children are taking part in a quiz organised by Interski. Needless-to-say, everyone is very excited for their second day of skiing tomorrow so fingers crossed for more stunning weather!

For more photos from the trip, please go to the Photo Gallery. 

Ski Trip Blog – Day 1

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After a long day travelling we finally arrived in Courmayeur at 2pm. We were dropped off at the hotel where we met Lauren and Izzy, our InterSki coordinators, and had a delicious lunch of lasagne. We then split into Middle and Upper School groups, with the Middle School group heading up the mountain in a gondola, which was the first gondola journey for some and was very exciting, whilst the Upper School settled into their rooms. The Middle School children got kitted up and then headed back down the mountain to settle into their rooms whilst the other group headed up the mountain to get suited and booted! Yesterday evening we had a delicious 3 course supper followed by singing a big Happy Birthday to Miss Parris and getting an early night (all in bed with lights out by 9:00!). Lots of very excited faces ready to hit the slopes on Monday!

Due to a slight technical issue, I’m afraid there are no photos from Sunday, but we will make sure there are lots of photos from Monday’s skiing!

Year 8 Leavers Trip: Day 5

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“After breakfast, my group went to the rafting place. This time, the instructor let me captain the boat for a bit and in the first few minutes we got stuck in some rocks! Then we came back and had lunch, after which it was my group’s turn to do the “fine dining” challenge. We went shopping for a bit and came back and played table football. Then I went with some of the others to the sports hall and played football. We had a penalty shootout before we came back.”

Nathaniel Ramsay

Tonight, we get to sample the fruits of the children’s labours in terms of the dining challenge. Tomorrow is another travelling day; we have some worn out children but they are all thoroughly enjoying the Leavers’ Trip!

SD

For more photos from the trip, please go to the Photo Gallery.