This site is a record of Berkeley's residential trip to Winmarleigh Hall in Lancashire from 21 May to 25 May 2001. We intend to update this site every day, allowing parents to find out what we have been doing every day.

21 May 2001


Our journey across the Pennines to Winmarleigh was very good (that is teacher-speak for "the sick buckets were not used"). We had one scare when one of the children (who shall remain nameless, but her mother works in the office) said that she had been sick. It was a false alarm - it was only a joke piece of vomit! Mrs Bayley got her own back by using the ultimate sanction - a squirt from her water pistol! We stopped on the way for a breath of fresh air and a toilet break. Our ten minute stay was prolonged when we had to wait for Mrs Bayley to finish her foot-long sandwich and to refill her water pistols. With the children wary of gun-totin' Mrs B. the rest of the journey proved uneventful. (We just missed out on the world record for the number of times the phrase "Are we nearly there?" is spoken during one journey. For the record we managed four hundred and fifty seven.)
Mr Callaway



When we arrived at Winmarleigh Hall we were greeted by our groupie, Leah. She is the person who will be with us all week to ensure that our stay passes without any hiccups. We were shown round the bulding and grounds and then, after a little talk about the rules of the hall, we were shown to our rooms. This is where the children who packed lightly had a distinct advantage, as those who had packed enough clothes for a month found it difficult to negotiate the stairs. Next year we must remind parents to write down suitcase lock numbers in a safe place so that all the children can open their suitcases! (Oops!)

Next came the teachers' entertainment for the day - seeing the children trying to make their own beds. The following must go down as dialogue of the day.

Child: This sheet's a bit small.

Winmarleigh staff member: It's a pillow case. You put your pillow inside it.
Mr Callaway



  First afternoon
After lunch of lasagne or macaroni cheese or chicken coronation salad (or in the case of some children, a mixture of all three) we were straight into our afternoon' activities.

Group 1 did computers, climbing and computers.

Group 2 did orienteering, computers and climbing.

Group 3 did computers, orienteering and computers.

Group 4 did BMX biking, computers and low ropes.

The weather was fantastic and the activities have been very enjoyable. Those children who were at Kingswood last year (well, the two I was talking to over dinner) seem to think that it is slightly better here so far. After dinner of either shepherd's pie (which I am sure was not reconstituted lasagne from this lunchtime) or sweet and sour pork or vegetable pie we had our fire drill (fortunately no-one was embarassingly in the shower when it happened this year) followed by the evening's entertainment of nightline. After quite a hectic day we can hope for a fairly peaceful night. Well, we can hope, can't we?
Mr Callaway



  Day 2 (part 1)
Day two dawned to some very sleepy children (and staff). The first night passed as most first nights do on these sort of trips. It was interesting to hear the children try to outdo each other about how late they were awake till. It was almost like Monty Python's four Yorkshiremen sketch.

Child 1: We didn't get to sleep till midnight.

Child 2: Midnight?! You were lucky. It was 1 o'clock for us.

Child 3: 1 o'clock?! Luxury! We didn't get to sleep until 1.30.

Child 4: We would have dreamed of getting to sleep at 1.30. etc.

The claims got more and more wild. At one point, early in the evening, we thought of using THE ULTIMATE SANCTION (the water pistol), but we thought it might have woken them up.

The weather was great again - sunny and warm. It was a pity to spend so much time doing IT when outside it was so nice. The groups (Anteaters, Beavers, Crabs and Ducks) carried on with their multimedia presentations about their stay at Winmarleigh. Every group had a chance to do some e-mailing with a picture as an attachment. Hopefully you might have received an e-mail.
Mr Callaway




  Day 2 (part 2)
The main activities we did today were the Nature Walk and High and Low Ropes.

The nature walk consisted of a walk around the beautiful grounds of Winmarleigh, stopping occasionally to look at interesting flora and fauna. We were particularly watchful for a one-eyed squirrel which the instructors said inhabited the grounds. We were shown eucalyptus tree, a plant called lemon balm which gives off a lovely lemon smell when rubbed, a ha-ha ditch, sequoias, bat boxes etc.

The highlight of the day was going on the High Ropes. There were two parallel tree trunks, about 10 metres long, 7 metres and 15 metres from the ground. The idea was to walk across one of them, then go back into the middle and jump off.(By the way they did have safety harnesses on!) Each child chose which one they wanted to attempt (and some did not attempt either). The centre has a policy of challenge by choice, which means that every child decides what, for them, would be a challenging target. They try and reach their own, private target. This has worked very well and no pressure is put on any child. It is different with the staff. Theirs is called challenge by headteacher. They have to do at least the same as Mrs B, otherwise they never hear the last of it. It was amazing to see some of the children go nervelessly onto the top bar. The most spectacular moment of the day was Miss Shields crossing the top bar and then after she had jumped off, hanging upside down like a bat.
Mr Callaway




  Day 2 (part 3)
The evening activity was shelter buiding. The children were taken to one of the woods inside the grounds and in their groups they had to make a shelter with whatever materials they could find. You will be reassured, I'm sure, that if you and your family are alone without shelter that your child has practised the skills of building a shelter with the obvious necessities of a golf course, baby swing, satellite TV, swimming pool.
Mr Callaway


  Day 3 (part 1)
The children slept very well last night. Considering they had just had a hectic day's activities in the heat when they were already tired, it was hardly surprising. By the end of the week we will be waking them up in the morning, rather than them waking us up.

Before the children went to bed last night, we gave their rooms an inspection. We noticed in the boys rooms that there were no towels in evidence. When asked the whereabouts of their towels they told us that they were in their suitcases. Still dry. Because they hadn't been used yet! No wonder they need the windows open at night. Some of the boys tried to convince us that they had showered, but not used their towels to dry themselves. We had some boys claiming that they had used flannels to dry themselves or had shaken themselves dry! Needless to say, we asked for evidence of showers having been taken the next morning. The girls are the complete opposite and you can't get them out of the showers.

The highlight of the day was the zip wire. Apparently it is the second longest and second highest in the country. You reach speeds of 35 mph travelling on it. However, for many of our fearless group it was great, but not high enough or fast enough. They fairly bounded up the steps to the platform where they were launched on the zip wire. The previous activities on high ropes have given the children a lot of confidence for heights.
Mr Callaway


  Day 3 (part 2)
Another activity carried out by all the groups today was team challenge. At the beginning of this activity the children are issued with yellow waterproofs. This is a sure sign that the instructors expect the participants to get wet, muddy or both. It is also a sure sign that teachers should sit out this activity. The idea is that the children work as a group to carry buckets of water around various obstacles. Like the shelter building the previous evening, the emphasis is on team work. It is fascinating as teachers to watch the group dynamics - how some children are good organisers, some listen to others ideas, some just want to do their own thing and will not listen to what others have to say, some just follow what the others are doing, etc. At the end of all the obstacles the children have successfully carried a couple of buckets of water all the way along the course. What happens to the water next? The instructors throw it over the children of course. Why waste the waterproofs!

In computers we used a software package to control traffic lights changing on the screen and we made some music using computers and keyboards. Music in the loosest sense of the term, that is. It is not really what those of us oldies brought up on Zeppelin would recognise as music, but the children liked it.
Mr Callaway


  Day 3 (part 3)
Instead of the usual evening meal we had a barbecue out on the lawn. The weather has been warm and sunny again - perfect barby weather. It was the usual barbecue scene - everyone trying to balance their food on a plastic plate and trying to eat a baked potato without the whole lot falling onto the grass.

After that was the disco. (Average time for girls to get ready 55 minutes. Average time for boys to get ready 55 seconds.) This was organised by the instructors in the room next to the teachers lounge. This meant that we could only hear STEPS instead of Ron Atkinson and Clive Tyldsley commentating on the European Cup final. It was an improvement on their normal commentaries.
Mr Callaway


  Day 4 (part 1)
It is Thursday, the last full day at Winmarleigh. Again the sun is shining. The children are getting up later and later and will be whacked out when they arrive back this weekend. Even though we have been here for four days, a reliable source told me that there was still one boy who, until this evening, had not had a shower yet! And he had been wearing the same orange boxer shorts during the whole time at Winmarleigh!! The girls, who have brought essential items such as hair dryers and nail manicure kits, could not believe this. It was significant that there was a fire alarm this evening. It was caused by the occupants of a boys' room (not our school) using deodorant too liberally. Was it because they wanted to smell nice for the talent show tonight or were they trying to hide the smell of unwashed bodies?

The dormitory competition is getting very serious. At room inspection last night, one room had all their shoes and slippers lined up in perfect order, whilst another was standing to attention by their beds when we entered.

I think the tiredness is beginning to affect the children's ability to concentrate. On one IT session this morning an instructor was trying in vain to remind the children what they had learnt so far about Hyperstudio. There followed a conversation something like this:

Instructor: What do we mean by multimedia?

Child: It's something in space.

Miss Shields: No, you must be thinking of "meteor".

Instructor: Come on, I told you this yesterday.

Child: I know, but I've washed my hair since then!
Mr Callaway


  Day 4 (part 2)
The activity highlight of the day was the quad bikes. All the children went round the track at least 6 times. They found the throttle a little difficult to control at first, but they kept their bikes under control very well. Mrs B also went round, but crashed at a corner not once, not twice, but three times. I will say nothing about female drivers.

In IT the children looked at the Beehive site on the Internet and did some more e-mailing. They also looked at mapping sites on the Internet and did some more music making using computers and keyboards.
Mr Callaway


  Day 4 (part 3)
Meanwhile, outside in the sunshine, one of the activities done today was the low ropes. As well as being an exercise in balance, this was also, like many of the activities at Winmarleigh, an exercise in working together as a team. The children started off by standing on a plank which was just long enough and wide enough to accomadate them all. Then they had to get in alphabetical order without stepping off the plank. Whether it was the sun, the lack of sleep or the fact that they have been away from school for a week, the children found it hard rembering alphabetical order! Then they had to get in alphabetical order of the colour of their underwear (one boy should not have had any problems remembering the colour of his!). This was made more difficult by the fact that the children had to do this without speaking or even mouthing any words. It was the quietest and most relaxing couple of minutes of the whole week. After a few exercises like this, the children had to walk along tightropes of increasing complexity.
Mr Callaway


  Day 4 (part 4)
Another activity today was archery. After a few goes it was made more interesting by playing musical arrows. The way this worked was that the children took it in turns to fire an arrow and if it landed in the white part we sang a song with the word "white" in it, if it landed in the red segment we sang a song with the word "red" in it, and so on. If anyone missed we sang "Good Golly Miss Molly". Then we aimed for the black instead of the bull. It was amazing how many people could not get a bull when they were aiming for one but got a bull when aiming for the black. Perhaps they should do that all the time.
Mr Callaway
  Final morning
The final day has arrived. Everyone has packed their suitcases (which for the boys was dead easy as they didn't unpack in the first place).

We have had a fantastic time, which is mainly due to the children who have given their all and in the main behaved very well.

Thanks to all those of you who have contributed to the bulletin board.

See you when we get home,

Mr Callaway, Mrs Bayley, Miss Shields, Mrs Barker and 42 tired, dirty and extremely computer literate children.


  Dormitory Competition
Final Places
The dormitory competition was hotly contested. We even had a boy cleaning his window to make it shine for the room inspection! At least it meant that the rooms were tidy for part of the day.

The final scores were as follows:

Room 104 - 60 points

Room 105 - 47 points

Room 106 - 51 points

Room 108 - 59 points

Room 109 - 52 points

Room 110 - 57 points

Well done to the girls in Room 104. Prizes will be awarded at school.