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.

Penultimality

Your little angels will soon be returning to the bosoms of their families, so we obviously have to make the most of our last full day in Cornwall. It’s such an important day I felt it was worthy of creating a new word “Penultimality” – it’s the feeling you get on the last day of a holiday; sadness, happiness, nostalgia, reflection. Know what I mean?

This morning our students have been taking part in the Climate Challenge; they have been learning about the creation of the Eden Project and reflecting upon the sustainability of our approach to our natural resources. We are very fortunate at RIC in that we have always had an ecologically engaged student body – hopefully the RICies here today will carry these ideals with them into the wider world.

Incidentally a couple of Year 9 students got a little bit lost (with Jenny and I) so we also had an impromptu look around the Invisible Worlds exhibition. Sometimes we learn more through our mistakes than we do from our deliberate choices.

Take care of yourselves, and each other.

The Minack

When Brian Pain decided to painstakingly reclaim the overgrown back gardens of Star Hill to create RIC’s award winning garden, he was perhaps channeling the same energy as that exhibited by Rowena Cade when she carved a theatre into the cliff at Porthcurno.

Following a meandering journey through the Cornish greenery, punctuated by the exasperated sighs of an ever so slightly pessimistic driver, we arrived at what must be one of the most awe inspiring performance spaces in the world. I’m not one for superlatives and hyperbole, but it really is the most beautiful theatre ever created in the history of the universe. The mind-boggling expanse of the Atlantic spreads out in the background meaning the performance has to be good to capture and hold the attention of the audience.

Luckily the production was brilliant; fast moving, quirky and funny. As I looked across at the RICies (that’s what I’m calling them now), it was great to see genuine joy. Brace yourselves, sincerity alert, the kids have really formed a community out here in the wild West, it does kind of remind even the most sarcastic teacher why teaching these children is so brilliant.

Anyway – enough of that nonsense. Eden Project, surfing and pizza tomorrow…

Leach Pottery

The RIC Cornwall day of fun (RICCDOF) recommenced with a visit to the world famous Leach Pottery home to many talented artists including our very own Jackie Clark.

It’s quite hard to watch Year 9 walk around a museum with pots worth tens of thousands of pounds but as I write there have been no breakages. I’ve asked the coach driver to keep the engine running just in case.

All of our students are getting the chance to create their own ceramic tiles. It is at times like this that it is important to remember that beauty is

truly in the eye of the beholder.

Onwards to the Minack Theatre…

Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Workshop

It’s a glorious Cornish morning in St Ives, the salty tang of the Atlantic is drifting across an azure blue sky, seagulls are wheeling overhead and at least 2 students have actually had a wash and brushed their teeth.

We are enjoying a guided tour of the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. The students have learnt about Hepworth’s life and works, taking the opportunity to sketch and take pictures.

It may have taken 3 hours but Year 8 seem to have finally woken up; an unsuspecting onlooker may well have feared a zombie apocalypse was upon us had they seen our students shambling to breakfast this morning.

More updates will be coming soon.

The Secret Biome

What better way to recover from a 7 hour coach journey than 2 hours in a humid environment with 33 children.

In all seriousness, what a great opportunity for our budding young Scientists to have exclusive access to the Eden Project Rainforest Biome after hours. After being allocated separate “tribes” our young explorers completed various challenges all geared towards earning their “stripes” – literally. The students used team-working to traverse the swamp, learned a tribal song, created some Rainforest music and had the opportunity to handle and smell rare tropical plants and fruits. Even the more cynical members of the group eventually came around to the face-painting and singing!

Anyway – we’re back at base camp and things seem quiet. I’ll be on first watch. It’s quiet at the moment… too quiet….

Cornwall Odyssey

After much anticipation the day of departure finally arrived; the excitement in Piglet’s Pantry was tangible. Rather than adopt the mantra of “pack what you need” most students chose to pack what they didn’t need; mainly snacks, towels and Lynx. Some students chose to bring suitcases which were actually taller than them; parents acting like Sherpas climbing Everest hauled these luggage leviathans up the hill often without a word of thanks, leaving breathless and exhausted whilst their progeny mingled like excitable puppies.

Then the coach. Oh the coach!! The first 4 hour stage can only be described as a staccato foray around the motorways of Kent; no matter how many lanes are added the M25 will always be an exercise of running in treacle. Once we did get moving the steady 62 mph adopted by the driver meant that Alex (Science) had plenty of time for a D&D (Dungeons and Dragons – who knew?) tournament, whilst I enjoyed the dubious pleasure of listening to a rendition of “Shallow” by an unnamed Year 7; it was like Bradley Cooper was sitting next to me…. sort of.

Gordano sounds like the name of a Super Villain; actually it is a service station in Bristol and the site of our first stop. The coach was surprisingly quiet after the food break and with a following wind we arrived safe and sound at the Eden YHA at 4:30. I think I only heard the question “Leighton – when are we going to get there?” about 57 times during the journey… it’s still ringing in my ears.

Eden project tonight – I’ll keep you posted”.

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