Southborough C of E Primary School

News from Madrid

Tuesday 13th June 2017

Madrid Day 1

Dear all

A great first day. Despite an early start the children were very lively and enthusiastic on the coach trip to Gatwick, singing along to the radio and getting into the holiday spirit. Clearly Mrs Mac and Mrs Bateup have inspired them to sing at every opportunity, no matter how early in the morning!

It never ceases to surprise us to see the reaction that we get as our large party walk through the airport and this year was no different except this time the airline had recorded 37 children as all adults on our booking. The airline staff therefore had a lovely surprise when they saw rows and rows of children approaching them and spent quite a while reorganising the seating so that we all sat together in a section towards the back of the plane, well away from anyone else and to the considerable relief of the other passengers on board. However, they needn't have worried, our children were perfect on the flight, completely focused on tucking into their lunch at 10am before the flight had even taken off!

As soon as we stepped out of the plane the heat certainly hit us and we were pleased to get into the air conditioned coach to the Collegio. The children's reactions as we swept up the drive were magical - there were many oohs and aahs and 'this is amazing' comments and as we walked to the front door, even more delight as a turtle and a lizard were spotted - not in the same place I hasten to add!

We were warmly greeted by Luis, the director here who was thrilled in being able to converse with Mrs Heller, our Spanish teacher, rather than rely on our general staff's usual level of Spanish consisting of a repertoire of key words and lots of miming. Although Luis speaks amazing English, it was undoubtedly much quicker checking in to our rooms and settling in to life here in the mountains.

It was then time for a tour of the Palace. We were incredibly fortunate to have a personal tour by Luis, whose knowledge and passion for this very special place kept children fully engaged and fascinated as he shared the history of where we are staying. The children certainly asked many deep and probing questions that Mrs Bootle would be proud of. The highlight was of course the mausoleum where previous Spanish Kings and Queens are buried, a stunning room clearly 'fit for purpose' as one child noted.

There was time for a quick wash and change before dinner, which was rapidly consumed and enjoyed by all. A rice dish, chicken in breadcrumbs, bread, salad and chips followed by fruit and yoghurt all went down well with everyone.

We then had a brief opportunity to have a walk before bed, just to ensure the children would be tired enough to sleep soundly. Our walk took us to the local village and the children were eagerly eyeing prospective ice-cream and souvenir shops for shopping later in the week.

By 10pm tiredness of all was evident and I am pleased to say children quickly settled down for the night with lights out at 10.30pm dreaming about the days ahead I'm sure.

As always with this trip, there's a lot to do and see and we do like to set a few extra challenges.

This year our group leaders are myself, Mr Dix, Miss Haynes, Mrs McCann, Miss Chilvers and Mrs Heller.  Each of their leaders want their group to be the best and therefore we have discussed with the children our points system that will start tomorrow where children can earn points for the best group, best room and whether girls or boys are the best in terms of readiness for activities. I'm pleased to say the children have already begun to take this very seriously, one of the girls rooms has turned into something that a boutique hotel would be pleased to offer, with a whole range of toiletries and cosmetics displayed alongside bottles of water. The groups are hotting up with several children already speaking Spanish sentences to earn points for their groups. The only real challenge I see so far is getting the girls ready before the boys. Mr Dix, Mrs Mc Cann, Miss Chilvers and Mrs Heller have taken great delight in Miss Haynes and I struggling to get the girls to the meeting areas at the right time today as they brush their hair once more and add a final cosmetic touch. I did point out these few extra minutes do mean they smell nicer than the boys, but those four members of staff are not convinced.  Don't worry, Miss Haynes and I have a cunning plan for tomorrow ......

It's now midnight as I write this in the dormitory corridor and all I can hear are chiming church bells and see the amazing floodlit scenery around us. What a wonderful place to be with wonderful children.

Looking forward to day 2.

Mrs Savage x

Wednesday 14th June 2017

Madrid Day 2

Dear all


It's a miracle! In all my years of going on residential trips it's never happened before (and possibly might not again) but all the children slept the whole night through! It's just such a shame the staff didn't. I may have mentioned those wonderful church bells in my last report but I wasn't thinking quite the same when I heard them repeatedly through the night added to which there was clearly some all night Spanish party in the village that all the staff felt they were part of as a result of listening to it for several hours. Never mind, nothing disturbed our children and that was the most important thing of course.


The morning dawned and it was a mixed bag of those children who needed waking and those who were up and getting themselves and their room ready for inspection. We had arranged last night for everyone to meet for breakfast at 8.30 am so when the girls, Miss Haynes and I managed to get the girls down for 8.23am, we were feeling pretty proud of ourselves and our girls. However, I'm saddened to say that Mr Dix, Mrs Mc Cann, Miss Chilvers and Mrs Heller took it upon themselves to score yet another point for the boys by sneakily arranging the time for the boys to be ready and downstairs at 8.15. Definitely not fair play! They tried to justify their tactics by saying this was driven by the boys and their amazing organisation and preparation - notably led by Stanley and Thomas who were up, showered, dressed and presented the staff with an immaculate room an hour early at 7.15am. Miss Haynes and I graciously believed this wasn't just a mix up of English and Spanish times and the girls agreed they had been defeated again.


Breakfast followed and was a range of cereals, croissants, sausages, toast and juices. Mr Dix did a superb job with the toaster and provided everyone with just the colour of toast they asked for and copious amounts of it. There were jams and 'butter' to go with the toast, some of the children were not so keen on the butter but order was restored when one of our year 6 stars declared all was ok, reassuring everyone it was indeed butter but just 'hotel butter'. The children were then spreading it generously on their toast as they now knew it was special hotel butter. After breakfast it was time for the next challenge of children getting their bag packed and being at the front door of the Collegio by 9.30am.


I am pleased to say this was the point when Miss Haynes and my careful planning put the girls back on an even footing against the boys. Carefully prepared check list bag notes had somehow managed to get into each girls room and they packed their bags in seconds, waiting for the boys for ages whilst they sorted themselves out and tried to find and remember all the items they needed. Victory was sweet and the girls enjoyed every second of it!


We were then off to the Royal Palace in the centre of Madrid and arrived just in time for the changing of the guard and to spend some time playing in the Royal Gardens. The children couldn't believe how fortunate they were to be playing in the King's gardens and got incredibly excited when they spotted someone looking at them out of one of the Palace windows. After staring for a while to see if we could spot a crown, it turned out to be a cleaner! Oh well, next time ....


A rather hot walk to Plaza Mayor and an opportunity for window shopping only in advance of our proper shopping time there tomorrow. We then bought lunch, baguettes made to order, crisps and biscuits plus a chilled 1.5 litre water bottle each. The children were disappointed that we were unable to find fresh fruit in the shop but assured me that you had given them a week's worth of fruit and vegetables before they came to Madrid and therefore I didn't need to worry.


The water bottles were definitely the best decision of the day and we were able to monitor the amount of water children were drinking and fill it up several times during the day. The temperature reached 40 degrees today and we were concerned how the children would cope as the day went on. However, we needn't have worried, they showed great perseverance and resilience and certainly their enthusiasm and enjoyment of all we did not appear to be affected by the heat.


Our trip to the Zoo this afternoon was very popular and we stayed longer than expected as the children wanted to see as many of the animals as they could. The pandas, dolphins and bears were definitely amongst their highlights along with the elephants and sea lions who produced a great show for us at the end of our visit. The zoo shop did well out of Southborough pupils and you'll be pleased to know you most of you will soon be having a new member of your family arriving - a wide range of animals will be returning with your children, but at least they are cuddly and furry ones!


Our evening meal was ready for us as we arrived back at the Collegio - soup followed by fish pieces, a speciality Madrid tapas, Chips and ice-cream. There was even salad and fruit available, much to the delight of the staff if not the children. Again children ate well and enjoyed their meal. It was lovely to see so many try the Spanish soup and Madrid Tapas.


Following dinner, we repeated yesterday's walk to the village and there was the chance for a little shopping before wearily making our way back to our beds. Lights out followed pretty quickly and as I write this now, all is quiet. Dare we hope for two nights in a row of sleeping children ??!


Another super day with a fabulous team, summed up by the children as 'awesome'.



Mrs Savage x

Thursday 15th June 2017

Madrid - Day 3

Dear all

They did it! Two nights in a row and not a peep from anyone, although the adults are waking up at short, regular intervals throughout the night convinced we must be missing something. We are also getting excited that we could soon be making millions and appearing on Dragon's Den with our recipe for getting 10 and 11 year olds to sleep - lots of fun, a slice of sightseeing, a vat of walking, a dash of shopping, a tub of ice-cream and a sprinkling of Spanish all mixed up with 10 litres of water and cooked in a 40 degree hot oven.

Will it be three in a row? (I have reminded the children all things come in threes) Are we tempting fate? Could it be an all-time record?! As I sit in the corridor this evening listening out for any signs of sleeplessness, I'm not feeling confident. Another record today, with 43 degrees heat this afternoon, which has resulted in the wind whipping up this evening, and storms predicted overnight. I can hear the wind whistling, the creaking and banging of wooden shutters in this wonderful old building and children whispering ....

The day started off with great success for the girls. Miss Haynes and I have finally got them organised and timed to perfection with all their hair and make-up done, day bags packed and downstairs before the boys. Our secret? That would be telling but it does involve working to the  Australian time zone. Anyway, never mind the methods, the result meant we were even stevens with 2 -2 much to the boys disappointment.

Following this early win (for the girls just in case I didn't make that very clear) everyone tucked into breakfast. This morning's selection included scrambled eggs, a mountain of Mr Dix's speciality toast with hotel butter, biscuits and homemade cake. The children couldn't believe the Spanish were allowed to eat cake for breakfast and many wolfed down several pieces each - I hope parents will be getting their Mary Berry cook books out tomorrow and get baking, ready for achieving the same high standards for the children's breakfast on Saturday.

Shortly after breakfast we headed off to our Spanish School. The children were warmly greeted by their pen friends and were straight into lessons. A plethora of activities were provided, including dance, mindfulness, IT, games, Spanish and problem solving. We have now some amazing Spanish tongue twister experts in our party; Eloise, Chloe and Pearl and Theo has developed his problem solving skills in physically untwisting pupils (you had to be there!) Yet again the children did themselves proud and fully engaged in all the lessons despite the soaring temperatures. Even learning a variety of dances in the heat did not put off this bunch of hardy Southborough stars. Charlie I, Ollie B and Phoebe, to name but a few, really strutted their stuff. Added to which Miss Chilvers, Miss Haynes and Mr Dix were also notable pupils in the dance lessons. I'll let you guess why they were so notable - luckily we have some video evidence of their efforts and I'm very pleased (and relieved) to report none of them suffered any injuries whilst taking part.

Lunch followed with a traditional paella and ice-cream for dessert.  As the children waited to sit down, a few nervously looked at the dishes laid out before them. However, the overwhelming majority really enjoyed it and Alfie had finished his before others had even started - a paella pan is now on his Christmas list. It was all too soon to leave our Spanish friends. They gave us a great sending off ceremony and indeed Jack L had a group of Spanish super fans following him to the coach. He managed the situation well with high fives and hugs and luckily didn't delay us as he didn't have a have a pen for autographs.

We returned to Plaza Mayor late afternoon for the serious shopping the children had been waiting for. Following our thorough briefings they went off in groups in the square to find those unique and special souvenirs and yet more ice-cream. The staff were very impressed in hearing some of their conversations as the children really made an effort to try out their Spanish. Ollie N and Holly in particular practised lots of Spanish sentences.

After showing us their souvenirs and gifts for you (I bet you can't wait to see what the fine Madrid souvenir shops produce, but I'm sure you can guess). We then walked to the Spanish food market and had a very special tapas tasting of chocolate and churros. Unsurprisingly these went down extremely well with our children, with several announcing they were 'the best thing ever'. I'm not sure about that but they did definitely help in giving them an energy boost for yet another walk, this time back to the coach for our return trip to the Collegio.

How do you get your children (even boys) to wash? Just provide them with a day of 43 degree heat, plenty of dancing, lashings of sun tan cream and lots of walking and shopping. Never have children (or staff) been so happy to see the shower tonight and there was no argument about showers before dinner. Unbelievably, and this time I can't explain it, the girls did it again and were ready first for dinner. Poor Mr Dix, Mrs McCann, Miss Chilvers and Mrs Heller; they looked crestfallen as they led the boys down and saw us again sitting in the courtyard, smelling and looking gorgeous. They couldn't explain what has happened to their form of late but worryingly are showing some grit and determination for a re match tomorrow.

Just before dinner, it was time to add the day’s points up and review the group results. The children, or perhaps it was the leaders, held bated breath as the early evening results were announced. It's close ...

Miss Haynes and Mrs Heller's groups both on 11 points, Miss Chilver’s group 12, my group 13 points, Mr Dix's group 15 points and Mrs McCann's group just in the lead with 17 points.

All could change overnight and tomorrow morning so it's not over yet!

Dinner this evening was 'the best' according to a significant number of children. You may not be surprised to know that it involved pizza and chips. However, there was also Spanish soup to start, salad and delicious watermelon to finish so the adults were happy too. Not quite sure the children had too much of the latter list if I'm honest, and I would like to think this was as a result of the size of the pizza they ate.

After dinner, we went out into the main courtyard for a Spanish Quiz led by Mrs Heller and the opportunity for the children to gain a few more points for their team. I'm saddened to say that some of the Group Leaders have become incredibly competitive over the course of the last few days with Mr Dix even spotted with a Spanish phrase book this evening, whispering to his team. Miss Chilvers fared no better and was spotted mouthing some Spanish words to her children, whilst Miss Haynes was seen doing miming actions, although personally I couldn't see, as a result of the quality of these, how they would help anyone. Unfortunately my team tried to intercept and use these clues but misinterpreted most of them and got more wrong than right which makes me wonder if Miss Haynes was the cleverest of all the group leaders and was undertaking some sort of double bluffing that clearly her group were aware of and mine weren't! As for Mrs McCann well, what can I say? Her group just seems to get more and more points and yet no other Group Leader has quite identified what her team tactics are. Luckily Mrs Heller and I are beyond reproach, operating an honest and fair campaign to be the best group although the other team leaders for some reason do not agree with this and say they may be forced to tell their own version of events if my team win. I'm really not sure what they could possibly mean,  but I won't let it distract me or my team if that's what they are trying to achieve!

Our last activity of the evening was some sketching of this beautiful place and only finished as the light diminished and the front door about to be locked for the night.

Another amazing day with an amazing group of year 6 children. It's been an absolute privilege spending this time with your children this week, I am so proud of each and every one of them. This trip has provided them with many challenges that they have met with enthusiasm, tenacity and lots of laughter.

Still lots ahead tomorrow of course - we are going to the Valley of the Fallen in the morning before our flight home in the afternoon. Results day too ... GO GIRLS and GO MRS SAVAGE'S TEAM!!

See you tomorrow


Mrs Savage x