Congratulations to all the children involved in the Congo and Yangtze End of Year Performance. It was such a great show and we are so proud of you all. The singing was lively and raucous – it was wonderful to see how much you were enjoying it (but thank goodness we had Mrs Foster on the piano holding everything together!).
Our soloists were amazing and had the audience in raptures: well done for singing so clearly and beautifully Ruby, Ivy, Imogen, Sonny and Lily, and well done Jayden for channelling your inner Rock God! We loved it!
The acting was sensational and so convincing. Every word was clear, and your facial expressions added to the overall effect, so you had the audience in the palms of your hands: they laughed at all the jokes, cheered all your successes, booed the baddies and loved every minute of it.
Thank you to everyone who helped us put on such a great show.
Today has been a mad rush from early in the morning until just several moments ago. Children needed to get up, dress, brush teeth, fill water bottles, gather clothes from the drying room, find lost items, squeeze sleeping bags back into their bags, pack away their things, check under the beds, sit on their suitcases to squish everything flat enough to be able to zipper their zips and leave their rooms ready for the next groups of children – and all that before breakfast at 8am.
This morning, Group 1 were out in the woods for their bushcraft activity. Luckily, the rain held off enough for them to be able to get their fires lit. In fact, they looked quite cosy in their waterproofs, toasting marshmallows and making hot chocolate. Afterwards, Imogen and Ella said they had to learn how to tie different knots to make shelters with tarpaulins. It was fun.
Group 2 set off on The Journey – the walk into and around Sheringham which took in the ruined Priory, where they heard about Henry VIII, the beach, where they learned how to skim stones, and the ice-cream shop, where they learned that choosing ice-creams from such a huge range can be challenging! Once filled with Cookiedough, Honeycomb and Eton mess, they set off back to the centre. It’s a beautiful walk and the group were much enamoured with Sheringham itself.
It has been a great three days although it all seems to have gone past in a flash. The coach is certainly quieter now than it was on the way up as it is filled with physically exhausted, but emotionally satisfied children: a warm glow kind of feeling. They have worked hard, challenged themselves, made new friends, tried new things, been brave about being away, and have done themselves proud… and they have had a huge amount of fun at the same time.
They are ready for baths, home comforts and an early night!
The children slept soundly despite the rain last night and woke up not unreasonably early. By 8am they were ready for the first of three huge cooked meals – no-one here ever goes hungry!
A quick game of pool and table football was squeezed in by some before the first activity of the day, which, for Group 1 was the Air Jump. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there to observe it, but I do know that the children (Ella, Jayden, Thomas, Imogen, Calum and Ethan) did brilliantly (photos of this will follow tomorrow). Ella, despite claiming she is terrified of heights, jumped from the very highest level – 8 metres – as did Kieran. Others overcame their nerves to push themselves higher and higher. When I saw them all again at lunchtime, they were buzzing.
Meanwhile, Group 2 set out to learn about survival in the wild with a lesson on Bushcraft Skills. The first task was to gather kindling, one-finger sticks and two-finger sticks as fuel for our fires. The children learnt that the best wood to collect to get the fire started is silver birch as it is full of oils. A flint and steel was used to get the fire started and, once it was burning well, everyone was given marshmallows to toast. Kettles of water were heated up next as we kept adding more and more sticks to feed the flames. Once the water was boiling, we had cups of hot chocolate. Next we learnt how to make a lean-to shelter using two Y-sticks and lots of other poles. Great armfuls of fallen pine needles were used to make the shelter cosy and waterproof – although not entirely so, as Ivy found to her cost when a bucket of water was thrown onto it to simulate a storm. Her spot didn’t seem to be very waterproof at all.
The afternoon saw the start of two new adventures, which for Group 1 was an epic hike called The Journey. The route took them into Sheringham (where they stopped for an ice-cream at a shop with an enormous range of flavours), along the beach, up the hill to the clifftop and back to the centre. The walk took almost the entire three hours allotted to it, with very few breaks for breathers. For some, this was a real challenge, and they arrived back at the centre dusty, exhausted – as if they had just trekked across the Himalayas – but ultimately satisfied and proud of themselves. For others, it was really just a walk in the park – literally.
Group 2’s afternoon was spent climbing, balancing, wobbling, jumping and dangling – lots of dangling – many metres in the air. The High Ropes are fantastic at Hilltop and the leaders were amazing – kind, supportive, encouraging and brilliant at helping the children meet and then exceed the targets they set themselves. The photos speak for themselves, but special mention must go to Aniek, Ivy and Autumn who completed the lean-back challenge on the top of the wobbly telegraph pole, to Ruby who conquered both the catwalk and the wobbly log, to Lexi, Bailey and Shawn who started with the incredibly high acrobat’s leap onto the trapeze bar and Lily, who also completed the wobbly lean-back trust challenge on the top of a high pole with two children from Laxfield whom she had only met the day before. So, that’s the whole group who need special mention really.
This evening we enjoyed a swim in the pool for half an hour and a quick game of rounders, before the highlight of the day – the Room Inspections. Somewhat predictably, the standard of tidiness was somewhat different between the girls and the boys – and I don’t think I need to say who’s was the best… the girls, obviously. However, both groups of boys had made efforts and neither of their rooms was actually squalid. The girls though, were at a different level: bunches of flowers had been picked to decorate the windowsills, a little shrine of teddies had been arranged, everyone’s things were beautifully ordered and organised, and a welcoming committee were on hand to welcome the Room Inspectors in. So well done Fressingfield girls for coming in a very creditable third place.
And now they are all in bed asleep and I’ve been really pleased with the way they have settled themselves.
I’m afraid I wasn’t able to get photos of Group 1’s activities today, so will need to upload those tomorrow. I’m sorry if you can’t see your child, but please rest assured they are enjoying themselves immensely.
We have been blessed with gorgeous weather and a stunning location in which to enjoy it. As I write, the sounds of Jayden’s piano playing fill the room – we’ve had Never Gonna Give You Up, and the theme from Incanto – and a group of boys have been standing around him singing along! Earlier Lily regaled us, before moving over to the table football to play Thomas, Calum and Ella. Imogen and Ruby have been playing jenga and Ethan is calmly colouring. It’s all good fun – if a little loud for this time in the evening. It’s supposed to be ‘calm down’ time. At least they are all showered and the temperature is cooling down a little. Soon it will be time for teeth brushing and settling down to bed at the end of a very busy day.
And it’s been great. The Hilltop motto is Challenge By Choice and I think every child has felt challenged today and is proud of their achievements. For Ella and Imogen is was on the high ropes – and when you’re not a fan of being high up, they present a real challenge. Given three goes, they each pushed themselves to get further and further up the sloping beam. Similarly, Ethan says his proudest moment of the day was getting to the top of the sloping beam and coming back six steps along the beam above. Calum went even further, making it to the end of the second beam before going back to the middle so he could leap back off. For Thomas, Jayden and Kieran, who – it turns out – are absolutely fearless, the challenge was walking across the high wires holding onto the dangly ropes. Thomas even managed the leap of faith. At the end of the session, Jayden and Thomas climbed the ladder to the top, then the hand and foot holds on the side of the telegraph pole to the tiny platform at the top. Once there, they held onto each other’s hands and leaned back, trusting each other not to let go. Then, on the count of three, they let go, fell backwards and dangled in their harnesses back to the ground.
Meanwhile, Group 2 were learning about the Air Jump – a 4 meter high bag of air they had to launch themselves onto from various heights. All managed the first jump to the encouraging shouts from their friends and then kept returning for more and more attempts. If they wanted to, and if the instructor was happy with their technique (leap out, then land bum first with hands crossed across the chest like an Egyptian mummy), they were able to progress onto the higher levels. Ruby progressed to the 5m jump, and Aniek, Autumn, Lily, Shawn and Ivy onto the 7m jump and, at the end of the session, Bailey even managed the 8m jump. Well done all. Group 2’s afternoon ended with the assault course; a mad dash through tunnels, under cargo nets, over and under hurdles, through tyre racks and, finally, across the crocodile infested swamp. All survived without losing any fingers or toes and Shawn managed it, despite having grazed both knees and one elbow within 20 minutes of arriving here.
This evening, before the piano playing, the children enjoyed a big game of Mad Hatters – a giant game of manhunt with silly hats. Lexi, in a pause in the game, entertained Mrs Tooley and me with some of her favourite jokes, which I thought you might want to hear:
Why was the party on the Moon so awful?
Because there was no atmosphere.
How does the Moon cut his hair?
Why is dark spelt with a k not a c?
Because you can’t c in the dark!
So, I’ve just done my rounds and everyone is settled. After everything we’ve squeezed into the day, it’s no surprise they’re all ready for bed. But this is a Year 6 Residential first – for the first year ever, the children all took themselves off to bed before we announced it was bedtime! So, I think I’ll do the same.