Pendarren 2016 - Day 4


We slept well overnight and it took us a while to get going today. After hash browns and eggs, toast and cereal we got organised for activities.

Group 1 went off to Big Pit Coal Mining Museum this morning and Group 2 went to do high ropes. We swapped over activities after lunch, so we both completed the same activities. 

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Oliver loved going into the coal mine at Big Pit. We went down in the cage to the bottom of the mine shaft and were shown what conditions were like for Welsh miners. It was not an easy life. We also visited the museum above ground.

The high ropes were very popular. While getting harnessed, Hannah had to check the instructor was tying the knots tight enough, but it all worked out well. Oliver’s advice for surviving high ropes was to meditate while dangling!  For Monty, climbing to the very top of the high ropes was his greatest achievement. He thought he was going to fall but he made it across. Malachi jumped off the traverse rope and also felt very proud of himself.

We spent time reflecting on our week’s adventures this evening. Canoeing and high ropes were both amazing highlights for Meri. Shawn enjoyed this too but thought squeezing himself through the letter box in the caves yesterday was the coolest activity of the week.

Alina’s abiding memory was how muddy Wales can be. It is true the weather was a challenge this week but we fought through wind, cold and torrential rain and will return to London hardened by the Welsh weather.

As a special treat the Pendarren staff cooked us a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and crackers. Lili declared tonight’s dinner was the best meal of the whole week. We felt very festive. 

Tuck shop was another treat tonight and then we had to start packing for our return. According to the staff, this may be the greatest challenge of the whole week!!!

We must have an early start tomorrow because we have to get everything in order before our trip to Abergavenny in the morning. Then it will be back on the house for our farewells and onto the bus. We cannot believe how quickly the week has gone.

Pendarren 2016 - Day 3


Got up at 7:30am. This time there were no early risers and the bell woke us all up. We had our cooked breakfast, which consisted of bacon, beans, toast and cereal.

We got kitted out in waterproofs for the river study, but before we set off we met up in the classroom for a chat about the water cycle and how rivers are formed and the course some take from source to the sea. 

We got into two mini buses and set out. After a drive we found ourselves on top of a mountain looking for the source of the river. The ground here was waterlogged and felt like a sponge. There were standing stones. We continued our journey, stopping at key points to investigate how the river started to get wider, stronger and deeper. 

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We stopped for a picnic lunch at the cave system. We had to wear hard hats with torches on before we got to follow the river underground into the dark and watery caves. Capri summed it up when she described feeling nervous at first and even sick, but she felt good (even great) after it. Keke pointed out that he learnt it was possible to face his fears by going into the pitch black caves.

We took turns to lead the way in different sections of the cave. It was so dark we could not see our hands in front of our faces when we turned the torches off. We were brave enough to take on the Letter Box Challenge and the Waterslide. Hannah was one of the bravest and took on every challenge. 

Before we left the caves, Mr Agutter showed us a mud pool and told us the local Este Lauder beauty company source their mud packs there. He convinced some of us to try the mud for ourselves so we could look beautiful… Ummm. Not sure if he was telling us the truth!!! 

After another short hop on the minibus, we stopped again and walked for 15 minutes to the place the river formed a beautiful waterfall. It was a tricky climb down to the water's edge but after slipping and sliding we got to dance under the waterfall and some of us got a bit of a dunking. Jenaye felt really proud of having a go especially as she was so unsure about walking through the waterfall and Jacqueline described how she felt amazing, knowing she was able to take on new things even when they felt really hard. Leah said she felt really happy that she had the chance to carry out the activities because she now felt braver.

The walk back to the bus was hard, as it was uphill and we were now soggy. Back in the bus we were soon changed and drying off nicely. The hot showers were very welcome back at Pendarren House. Our evening meal of steamed fish or vegetable pie with curry sauce, followed by apple pie and custard, really hit the spot.

In the evening after lunch, we played bingo. Mr Joliffe was the caller and prizes were on offer. Ms Bartlett called to have an update and then we headed off to bed for some much deserved rest. It really was an action-packed day. 

Pendarren 2016 - Day 2


Today we woke up early – or rather the girls did! We were officially woken up at 7:30am by the bell. We had to get dressed very quickly before getting ready for breakfast. Then we had chores to do - emptying the wastepaper baskets in the recycling bins, tidying the kit room and organising our rooms.

By 9am we got given the kit we needed for canoeing – helmets, paddles, waterproofs and a lifejacket. The canoes were towed behind the mini bus and, when we arrived at the canal, we all worked together as a team to unload the canoes. After the instructions, we got to have a go. This is when it got interesting!!! 

Rosie, Oliver and Sheray made a great canoeing trio, powering ahead in the lead, before being asked to slow down and help the stragglers. Rosie got competitive and wanted to finish first, asking, “Can we help them tomorrow?”

We did find it hard to work as one unit and a few of us just ended up going round in circles... or ended up in the bushes on the side of the canal. Finally, we got the hang of it after lots of shrieking and laughter… and that was just the teachers.

We also learnt about Bushcraft. We leant how to survive in the wild by making shelters out of things we found in the woods, how to make and light a fire using Swedish fire steels. Hannah, Isabella, Havin, Magdalena and Rosie were a little bit shocked to discover that there are no toilets in the woods and that they had to improvise!!! We celebrated our achievement by toasting marshmallows and making popcorn.

Back at the house we has showers and got warmed up with a lovely meal of lamb or vegetable Bolognese, garlic bread and salad, followed by homemade chocolate cake and cream.

Before bed we had fun completing a murder mystery activity. Who could guess we could fit so much into one day?

Pendarren 2016 - Day 1


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The coach left school at 7:30am. We were all so excited, especially Keziah who kept telling everyone how excited she was! We were out of London before we knew it and we were soon heading into the countryside. After two hours we stopped to go to the toilet, then we got back on the bus. We drove over the Severn Bridge and then we were finally in Wales. Things started to get hilly and we knew we were really in the country when we drove up the tiny lane to Pendarren House. 

As soon as we arrived we were taken to the common room to meet the staff and we took a tour around the house. After lunch we were put into two groups for activities. ‘Croeso’ means ‘welcome’ in Welsh. This afternoon we carried out Croeso activities. It was a bit soggy.

We went on a walk. Deen slipped on the muddy bank and it took him a few goes to scramble back up… in the end Michelle and Ms. White came to the rescue and had to help haul him up. It was very funny. Paige really liked watching the river water bashing against the rocks in the riverbed. She said, “You wouldn’t see that in Finsbury Park.” 

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Arlo pointed out that his favourite part of the day was when he got to jump on molehills. It was so much fun!

At our evening meal, we will be taking turns to serve the tables, like waiters. Tonight we had vegetarian pizza and jacket potatoes with coleslaw and salad, followed by yoghurt and homemade white chocolate chip cookies. After our meal we unpacked. We have room inspections in the mornings, so we have to be tidy and look after our things. We had a practice fire drill before going to the classroom to talk about our first day and write postcards home. Hopefully the postcards will reach London before we do on Friday! 

Before we knew it, it was time for us all to get ready for bed. We are all looking forward to tomorrow’s adventure. Check in tomorrow for the next instalment.