The vast, rolling, landscaped hills of Painshill Park that has played host to mighty historical figures over the centuries, was now graced by the presence of Shrewsbury House’s Year 3 boys. They began by constructing camps amongst the towering trees of the park’s forest and a campfire on which the boys roasted sugared bananas to their considerable gastronomic delight as they tucked into their toasty fruity treats. Later the boys went on a treasure hunt around the park’s many features, with the mansion’s icehouse and the Gothic Temple being particular favourites. They also encountered a less formal but more pastoral sight of two fishermen and were delighted when one of them whipped a large carp out of the water and showed it to them.
Tuesday was to have no fewer surprises as well. It began normally enough with Mr Meacher organising several scouting style activities in the Sports Hall, such as indoor caving (albeit above ground, fortunately), and Mr Hunt’s photo-poem treasure hunt occupying most of the morning. At lunch there was a terrific surprise as the boys were guided into the Sports Hall where they came face to face with some birds of prey, or perhaps face to beak would be more apt. Several birds appeared, including an infantile Icelandic falcon. Then Elmo appeared. Elmo seemed to take a dislike to serried ranks of the pupillage and flew up into the rafters. After much coaxing and calling from the trainer, it was decided to let Elmo be, so other birds were brought out. They were significantly more reluctant to perform given that their natural predator was looming over them and glaring at them, as – I am sure – we all would be. After a time, Elmo did descend from above and was safely stored, bringing the display to a close. The afternoon was filled with more scouting-style activities, such as setting off ballistic water bottles and splatting (replicated) rats.
On Thursday morning, the new catering contractors for the school displayed their culinary prowess to the boys, although their attention was perhaps most engaged by the Heath Robinson-esque smoothie bicycle, which – as the name suggests – was a bicycle converted to run a smoothie machine, engaging their imagination and their leg muscles as the pedals were a considerable distance from the saddle. The afternoon was marked by the Year 3 Concert, in which all the boys played their instruments and or sang. The mellow tones of Mozart and Verdi mingled with Bersteinian jazz and pieces of the boys’ own imagination. It was a marvellous afternoon.
While the dulcet tones of Sutherland’s ‘Sailing’ faded away from our minds overnight, the nautical theme was continued into the next day as we sailed down the winding A3 towards to enjoy a nautical day at Portsmouth. The excitement was palpable in the coach as – after a brief journey – we arrived outside, being greeted by a trio of bell-bottomed sailors at the gates. The boys were soon divided and investigated different areas of site at different times with a teacher. Action Stations, an interactive aspect of the site, was popular as the boys manned weaponry simulators and attempted piloting a Merlin helicopter, a first for many of them and even the more experienced ones had never tried righting one when it was flying upside down. The other area was the venerable Victory, which the boys clearly enjoyed visiting, in small groups with a teacher. They were highly excited and, after a brief briefing by staff about being respectful and walking slowly, rushed up the gangplank and ran aboard. There were many experienced guides aboard, one of whom answered the boys’ questions for around a quarter of an hour, while they inspected maps and sat at the briefing table where the captains were briefed by Nelson before Trafalgar. She also mentioned that, by rapping cannons with one’s fists, one can detect whether it is real or a replica by the echo emitted. Duly every subsequent cannon aboard was inspected by a dozen boys’ fists. There were many other interesting artefacts and replicas on board, including several original surgical implements that a seemingly sadistic naval surgeon described with relish, albeit fortunately briefly. In the warm, claustrophobic lower decks, several boys became unwell with ‘sea sickness’, which was rather unusual given that Victory is dry-docked. After lunch was consumed with gusto, the year went on a boat tour of the dockyard where a range of vessels were seen, including several Type 45 destroyers and a couple of cross-channel ferries, with a witty commentary provided by the tour boat’s captain. After the tour ended, we bundled back into the boat, happy but tired, to return to school, our families and our homes.
Some of the boys'comments:
‘I liked the outing to Painshill Park’
‘I enjoyed Monday the most because we went to Painshill and we made a den, we survived’
‘I liked Portsmouth because I like History. I liked Painshill because I liked building dens. I liked Tuesday because I liked the caving’
Please see some of the photos from our week in the Media Gallery: http://www.shrewsburyhouse.net/518/media-gallery
Mrs A. Harding
Head of Year 3