Tuesday, 5 March 2019
Headmaster's Blog #41
What a wonderful first week back after half term. We were lucky with the weather on our week off, but that was just the prelude to four of the most beautiful days I can remember. It felt like May or June, but with a clarity of light that was quite exceptional. It certainly made the return to work much easier, and one couldn’t help but be filled with the joys of spring.
The children skipped into school on Sunday evening and Monday morning, all smiles and ready for the second half of term and they immediately went into ‘summer mode’ – that is to say a cheerful engagement with being outdoors and playing in the sunshine. We were all rather hot, especially in the girls boarding house and classrooms as the heating was still on, and if faces weren’t rather rosy inside, they most certainly were after a games session outdoors.
Our boys had two 7s rugby tournaments earlier in the week and another on Saturday at King’s School Worcester. Mr Richardson went off with the U13s to Monmouth on Tuesday and returned after a very successful day there. After a slightly slow start, we improved in every match and were looking pretty useful by the end. Not to be outdone the U11s went to Packwood on Wednesday and did not lose a game all afternoon; hot work, but they seem to have continued where they left off at Christmas. The same squad won all their games on Saturday and returned with the Shield; great stuff.
The girls did not want to give all the limelight to the boys and Mrs Dobson Morris and Mrs Beer took the U12s off to Millfield to play in the IAPS Netball tournament. Again they played out of their skins (Hattie returning from injury in the nick of time) and were 3rd = on points at the end of the day, a goal difference of 1 pushing them into 4th place. This was quite something, but what is most important is that they played some awesome netball and got better and better over the course of the day.
An idea that was hatched several months ago came to fruition this week, when the Worcestershire Hunt Meet gathered in front of Abberley Hall on Wednesday morning during Bun Break, something that hadn’t happened for over 100 years. What a glorious sight it was. We were blessed with crystal clear light, blue skies and sun shine, so the huntsmen and women looked spectacular dressed in red and black on their horses. The pupils gathered on the Flag Pole lawn to see the hounds and horses arrive up the Front Drive and much excitement and pleasure was gained from the occasion. Kind parents had organised port (for the Hunt, not for members of staff, pupils or the headmaster, I should add!), and delicious sausages, which were handed around – the headmaster was allowed one or two of these and I understand that Bun Break was boosted that morning with the left overs, much to the anticipation of the hounds. All in all it was a very special morning, rather moving in fact; wonderful to have the hunt meet at Abberley Hall after so long a break and a moment to linger in the mind for some time to come.
After the riders and pack disappeared back down the drive, thoughts had to turn rapidly to Open Morning, which was happening on Saturday morning. I must say that it was a wonderful team effort: the grounds men were mowing and tidying, the Maintenance team had their paint brushes out and staff and my Board Bobbies were busy getting us to spruce up and look our best on the day. It was lovely to be able to show off the new Back Day Room, where the decoration has been completed,
new TV screen and surround sound installed and lots of lovely bean bags, not to mention the new Air Hockey table that the 100s helped Mr B-T and Mr Brocklehurst to assemble on Friday evening.
It turned out to be a much nicer morning than had been forecast, and we were again lucky with the sun appearing at just the right time. Our pupils' guides were outstanding as they always are – and the best advertisement the school can have – as were the performers, who finished the morning with two solos (Henry and Macy), a duet (Will and Lysander), and two fantastic dramatic pieces (Oscar, Tilda and Macy).
My current mantra is that we really must not take for granted the huge number of wonderful things that go on at Abberley and which our pupils are so lucky to enjoy. It is easy for current parents and staff themselves to forget quite how broad and stimulating an experience we offer. An Open Morning is a great chance to remind oneself (and others!). We had a good turnout of families, who all gave very positive feedback about their morning, particularly how impressed they were with their guides and by the performers. We had 12 families visiting and I am feeling confident it won’t be the last we see of them.
That was just the start of the weekend. Joseph play rehearsals were scheduled for Saturday evening and a trip to the Snow Dome at Tamworth was booked, not only for some going on the skiing trip, others who wanted a bit of sledging and ice-skating. A power cut at about 4.30pm added to the excitement, and we ended up cooking pizzas in the Lockett’s oven at home to provide supper for the 60 children who were here. We had some power in some places but not others. Finally, at about midnight, all the power went out as the electricity company got to work in earnest. I’m afraid that I couldn’t stay up to see when they would come back on, but Mrs B-T told me that her TV came back on loudly at about 3o’clock in the morning. We awoke to find a big hole in the ground between the Ashton Hall and the Palace and a serious bit of cable mending in evidence – just another Optional Weekend at Abberley.