Category Archives: Pinewood Adventure

Year 8 Leavers’ Trip Day 5 & Summary

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For the fourth day running, we had to wake the children from their contented slumbers. The sun was already beaming down and the view from Bryn Bettws remained idyllic. The children were remarkably efficient in packing up with only your author causing issues by slicing his finger on the wheel of the table tennis table. Idiot ! Matron put me off games ! Parris did a great job of patching me up. At least I was able to film and photograph the brilliant rafting session that all enjoyed in Cardiff on the return journey, not to mention some gentle downtime and a large coffee! Lunch was bought by the children in two local supermarkets. A feature of the week has been giving them some independence and many shopped wisely. Amber won the healthy eating award with her chicken pasta salad. The M4 was boringly slow between Cardiff and Newport so, having run remarkably to time on many occasions all week, we arrived back at school at  5.10 rather than 4.30. The genuine and warm thanks from the children as they left for home was most gratifying. It was such a fun week. There are still more tweaks to make. The location of Bryn Bettws is stunning, but the infrastructure is tired. We knew this from last year and have plans in place for next year. I had plans in place for this year and was badly let down. I stressed to the children that it was a place to stay and that they can do 5* with their families. We went for the activities which 8AG, in our traffic jam feedback session, simply said were amazing. The innovation of eating out in the evenings worked beautifully with some good food and astonishingly good behaviour. Indeed the most fuss in the Beefeater on Tuesday emanated from the playful banter of Mr and Mrs Hoyland and who was going to eat the solitary chocolate brownie!

To conclude, South Wales may be unfashionable, but it has so much to offer a group like ours and it is so accessible. The general consensus was that the surfing day on Tuesday was the best, though some would make a case for the gorge walk. All the activities had their place in the jigsaw of the week. I was most enamoured by the walk to Rhossili on Wednesday. It had enough challenge to test the children with a constant stunning view and the tantalising prospect of that wonderful beach at the end which we had to ourselves. Special.

I must end by first thanking 8AG. I was on my own with them in my bus and they were simply brilliant company. Not once did I have to modify behaviour. My utmost thanks has to go to the amazing team that gave their time so willingly. Mrs Makin and Miss Parris, a double act of kindness in the blue bus, the calm and efficient Mrs Wright and the wit and wisdom of BHB and Benbow. Our senior staff who drove down for their respective days, our amazing kitchens who will do anything for us, always service with a smile, Mr Downe for inspiring 14 children up Blue Scar and leading our biking day and chef Siebert who cooked up a feast for us on Thursday evening. I can’t wait for next year!


For a selection of photos from the whole trip, please go to the Photo Gallery

Year 8 Leavers’ Trip – Day 4

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It’s getting emotional. The week has flown by. The reality is lessons on Monday, keep out of trouble to avoid a dressing down from AG and our precious loved ones are deep in our thoughts. Anyway, enough of the teachers, the kids are having a ball!

Thursday is a Pinewood led day and with the absolute legends Downe and Siebert along for the ride, we nailed it. The Afan valley is rich mountain biking terrain. Most did the leisurely 2 hour railway trail. 14 children rose to the challenge of the hard Blue Scar with climbs totalling 1000 ft! The brilliant bike hire centre was agog at the feat. SD and EB take a bow! The group, split in 2, and had a gentle time at the windy beach at Aberavon chatting and eating.

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Meanwhile, back at our hillside retreat, JS prepared a braai fit for a king for 53. With such talented colleagues, we can make these kinds of trips work. Volleyball, table tennis and group gatherings were enjoyed before raconteurs BHB and EB hosted an awards ceremony that hilariously celebrated our wonderful week.

Once packed up we have the treats of rafting in Cardiff and the madness of taking 46 children armed with cash to buy lunch in two separate supermarkets!

We hope to be back by the sports hall at around 4.30pm.

Year 8 Leavers’ Trip to Wales – Day 3

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Another fab day in Wales. Early mizzle could not dampen spirits and as we headed west it got clearer and clearer. The 4 hour coastal walk was a challenge, but in glorious surroundings with the sun now blazing, the lure of Rhossili kept all going. The takings at the ice cream shop were trebled and then a cracking 2 hours were enjoyed with the famous beach to ourselves. Many charged to the water with AG leading the way. A carvery on the way backed recharged everyone, so much so that the children were quite lively in the hour before bed! Must walk further next time! Mr Downe has arrived to lead our mountain biking today with another visit to the beach at Aberavon planned too.

Year 8 Leavers’ Trip – Day 2

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If day one was fantastic, Day 2 was perhaps even better. The waves at Aberavon were gentle, but perfect for learners. Many surprised themselves and were standing up by the end. As predicted the giant SUPs were a riot and we all had a ball. The Hoylands arrived to buy hot chips at lunch which refuelled us for session 2. Then into Swansea for tenpin, won by Rosa. A short walk to the Beefeater in the modernised marina area and a quite magnificent meal. Our pre-ordered meals arrived quickly and were devoured even more quickly! The children sat beautifully for well over an hour chatting happily without once needing prompting. They did us proud. Back to Bryn Bettws for ping pong and quite an early bed.

Today we hit the Gower for a coastal walk to beautiful Rhossili. Weather has been kind so far and is set to improve through the day.

Year 8 Leavers’ Trip to Wales: Day 1

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Year 8 have enjoyed a happy first day in Wales. With the rivers full from the Half Term rain, gorge walking was even more spectacular. We scrambled up the sides of a waterfall as the water thundered down. The jumps were taken on and everyone loved it.

Eating out in Aberavon was inspired. Franco’s took on the challenge of feeding us – the children had a free choice and some were surprisingly sophisticated! The sea lapped the shore outside and a frivolous time was then had after supper with many a paddler to be seen.

Today we are back to Aberavon for surfing before tenpin and supper in Swansea. This is the life!

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 !


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


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


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