Another busy day for us all. A beautiful morning sunrise blanketed the gardens and the mist soon lifted to signal the start of the pre-breakfast outdoor games: there was a badminton match being competed, an extensive game of catch taking place and some football being played. While all of this was happening, many children were making entries into their diaries, but there was also a few children still who were still tucked up in bed until the very last second.
At breakfast today, it was clear from the overflowing cereal bowls that appetites have been growing day on day; today’s cooked breakfast was sausages and beans with the infamous hash browns (…Mrs Walker’s score today was a paltry 4) piled high on many plates.
Sandwiches were then made and lunch boxes packed with the essentials, flasks were filled with soup and hot chocolate to be taken out with us for lunch and finally duties were then completed. Each group then convened in a classroom to learn about their given day and some of the geography and geology of the place to be visited; there has been some fascinating knowledge gained to enhance the learning experience of the trip.
Next, the children dispersed to their rooms to layer up and pack their rucksack and then gather the equipment they would need.
Three groups set off caving – Blues, Reds and Oranges – and the Greens and Yellows went rock-climbing. Once again, St Francis pupils have been a credit to their school, their families and to themselves in the way they have offered assistance to others, accepted help graciously and in the way they have conquered moments of nerves. To see children scale rock faces with ease and confidence (like Spiderman in one case, apparently) has been heart-warming; equally, to watch children who were adamant that they would not be going through the Letterbox in the cave, slide through effortlessly and then instruct and convince the others to follow them has been very rewarding for the staff.
On the return journeys, each group has admired the wonders of the Brecon countryside as they played in-car games; the three minibuses returning from the caves were sent on a detour today by the local police (due to a road closure), which caused excitement and has stimulated some interesting and far-fetched theories as to why.
Dinner tonight was hearty – pasta, meatballs in tomato sauce and garlic bread; to remind us that the hour changes this weekend heading to winter, dessert was chocolate sponge and custard ….clean bowls all around.
The children were then instructed in packing requirements ready for our last activity tomorrow as well as the need for rooms to be emptied and suitcases filled; nothing would be left behind AT ALL the children confirmed…the St Francis staff then laid bets on the actual number of items needing to be reclaimed prior to departure tomorrow: the final figure will be revealed back in Swindon.
Once packing had been finished, the Tuck Shop and Barn play area was officially opened and Mrs Walker, Mrs Stone and Miss Hall ran the shop with military precision and the children duly brought gifts or post cards…some even bought some sweets! A lovely evening of games and chatting was had by all and, once again, it was uplifting to see new friendships forged over a game of Uno or a table tennis match.
A smooth bedtime routine meant lights out by ten past nine. A busy morning of stripping beds, emptying bins and vacuuming rooms tomorrow morning before we enjoy our last breakfast (the children inform us that they do this at home every week). Then Reds, Greens and Blues are off to do some gorge walking and the Yellows and Oranges will be canoeing; all of this will be before lunch back at Plas Pencelli. Once we have tidied away, reclaimed any lost property (surely there will be none…) and said our “thank you”s to the brilliant Pencelli instructors, we will walk the narrow lanes to meet our coach and set off back to our wonderful families back in Swindon. We are aiming to be back with you by 4:30pm but will send out messages if this is going to change.
This is the last update written while we are here and so you will have to rely on your magnificent children to tell you all about Thursday’s adventures. Thank you to all the parents for their support in getting the children ready for
the trip, to all the St Francis staff for being here or back at school to share in each experience and to all of our marvellous Year Sixes for being splendid ambassadors for their school and families.
We hope your washing machines survive the onslaught and we wish you a superb and restful half-term holiday.