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!