A Breath of Fresh Air … Quite Literally

The great outdoors. A place that is not very likely to be a top choice for most teenagers early on a Sunday morning. However, after a little nap on the coach for some, the boarders & boarding team arrived at Kingswood Activity Centre, Ashford bright and early for a fun day of boarding activities.

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Kent Cloth Project

RIC’s very own Textile Design guru, Francesca Baur, has developed a series of seasonal wall hangings exploring the landscape of Kent for the Kent Cloth Project. As we become increasingly disconnected from the making process through the speed of modern textile production, this project advocates a slower approach to creating natural local textiles with a story that embraces local heritage and landscape. From employing traditional skills and growing the flax for linen, to making natural plant dyes.

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Lower School Cornwall Trip

You’ve heard all about what our little RICies got up to in Cornwall at the end of the Summer Term. Take a look at the photos by clicking here!

Now on to plans for next year’s residential…

That’ll do pig, that’ll do.

A glooming peace this morning with it brings. The sun for sorrow will not show its head.

Actually it’s another glorious day, but the mood in the coach is significantly different to the excitement of Monday morning. Maybe they’re still waking up, maybe they’re planning something; it is eerily quiet.

After our surfing and pizza we had some extremely tired RICies last night; most went straight to bed but a hardcore crew of Dungeons and Dragons devotees played late into the night under the supervision of the Dungeon Master Alex. Those of us not equipped with D&D skills were lulled to sleep by Kylie Minogue’s dulcet tones; as a close personal friend of mine I arranged for her to play at the Eden Project to coincide with our trip.

I genuinely believe that all of our students will remember this weekend for the rest of their lives. Established friendships and bonds have grown stronger; new friendships have developed that will only grow over the next few years. Year 7 have learned that sweets do not constitute a wholesome meal. Year 8 have learned that walking a bit faster means you don’t get left behind. Year 9 have learned that music doesn’t have to be played at levels equivalent to the eruption of Vesuvius.

I want to take this final opportunity to thank all of the staff involved in organising and delivering this trip. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be like a tear laden Oscars speech. Thanks to Kelly for organising and booking everything. Thanks to Gina, Alex, Jenny and Ben for helping ensure everything went smoothly – which it really did! On a personal note I will actually miss writing this Blog – I might have gotten a bit addicted to it.

The most common question I’ve heard today is…. “can we do this again next year?” That says it all really.

Surf’s up

Fistral Beach is without question the home of surfing in the UK; gnarly dudes and dudettes have been riding the waves here for hundreds of years due to the crashing waves, ozone rich winds and ridiculously expensive clothing concessions. How much do you think a pair of swimming shorts is in Fat Face – well I’ll tell you – £65! Can you believe that! Rather than ranting about the insidious influence of consumerism let’s get on with it shall we?

After shoe-horning ourselves into ill-fitting wet suits, I think we all thought that we would be happy with catching one or two waves and possibly getting relatively close to standing up. Five minutes in and the atmosphere had changed. Everyone wanted to catch a wave, everybody wanted to stand; it was absolutely brilliant. The way I see it everyone had their own motivations. The Year 7s are a fiercely competitive bunch; they didn’t just want to stand on their boards, they wanted to stand, pose and draw everyone’s attention to them standing on their board, with various 1990s Gladiator style positions adopted (my favorite was Jet).

The Year 8s definitely had something to prove. These chaps are often perceived to be mild mannered, wouldn’t hurt a fly types. In true Bruce Banner style the Atlantic Ocean acted like Gamma Rays transforming our boys into Poseidon like figures, prepared to rule the waves without fear. As for the Year 9s what can I say? These free spirits were seemingly made for surfing; absolutely brilliant all of them.

Of course part of the inspiration could be the Cornish Instructors, who had seemingly been carved from mahogany with six-packs on which you could grate Parmesan. As a man who’s the wrong side of forty I can tell you that sucking in your stomach and tensing for 2 hours is no mean feat.

I think the best thing about today was the fact that quite a few students who would probably never have got in the sea, got in. They never fail to amaze us and inspire us.

Non-Linear Narrative

Every good storyteller knows that it is cool to mess around with your narrative. Don’t just write a beginning middle and end, that is tres gauche (as the French would say), mix it up, start with the end, end with the start. Start in the middle, go to the end via the start and end at the ending or the beginning. If I had a rule book I would have chucked it away. Some people have called me a maverick, I tell those people that I don’t deal in labels. What I would say is that people who insist on doing everything in order are, quite frankly, losers.

Why this mind numbing preamble? Can we just find out what our kids have been doing? These are questions you may ask with justification. Well – there is an absolutely cracking blog coming soon about the surfing, but first I’m blogging about our post-surfing meal/beach/singalong.

We visited the Stable on Fistral Beach, which specialises in fresh pizza. The menu offered a vast array of exotic choices designed to whet the appetite and inspire creative choices. 35 Margheritas later we were ready for a final gambol on Fistral Beach.

Where there is sand and a sunset there is always a bloke with a guitar churning out songs he knows but the kids have never heard of; this evening was no exception. The play list included classics such as “Together in Electric Dreams”, “Dancing Queen” and “Creep”. The RICies were in fine voice and sang their hearts out as the sun sank slowly over the Atlantic. Memorable for all I think.

I think today will live long in the memory of our students and staff. It has been brilliant – proud of every single one of them.

Surfing pictures and blog to come.

Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Expedition

On the morning of 24th June seven participants strolled off into the North Downs, armed only with a compass, a map and an optimistic enthusiasm.  Blessed with glorious weather, they strolled through the Kent countryside admiring quaint villages and taking breaks in sunny meadows.  Three hours in, we met them at the base of Trosley Country Park encouraging them up a steep ascent.  The group, reassured by their successful navigation thus far continued on their amble, knowing their campsite was just 10 kilometers away.  Unfortunately, during the afternoon they took several wrong turns, however, they regrouped, identified their mistakes and continued on the right path.  We cheered them into the campsite about 6pm, 8 hours and 20km after they had set off.  

After an hour of detangling tents and massaging sore feet the group cooked themselves a three course dinner.  A starter of soup, followed by a choice of pasta with pesto, or pasta, rounded off with a copious choice of chocolate bars and sweets.  They appeared to be enjoying their hard work, until a few sharp noses caught wind of our fish and chips!  The group spent the rest of their evening attempting to light a campfire, which eventually; with some support, they got going.  They were thrilled to find that a few bags of marshmallows had miraculously appeared enabling them to while away their evening trading stories and chewing on charred sugar.  Fortunately, we were all tucked into our sleeping bags in time before the heavens opened and we were treated to a 5-hour onslaught of rain, thunder and lightning.

On the second morning, students crawled, sleepy eyed, out of their tents to find the field had been converted into more of a marsh overnight.  They hopped and skipped through the puddles, clearing up and getting breakfast.  By 9.30 they were good to set off again. Slightly slower than the day before we watched them walk into the horizon.  At various points throughout the day we observed them working as a team to keep spirits high and ticking off the checkpoints.  Before long they were ecstatically running down the hill to the finish line in Ranscombe Farm Country Park.  Each member of the group was able to demonstrate resilience to keep going to the end and each person was challenged to step out of their comfort zone.  The Copperhouse staff supporting the expedition where again extremely complementary of the attitude of our students and as staff we were pleased to see them supporting each other throughout the experience.   Each member deserved to complete their expedition section and now is a few small steps from completing their bronze award.

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