Monday, 2 October 2017
Headmaster's Blog Autumn Term 2017 - Weeks 3 & 4
At last we have been blessed with a day’s, or at least half a day’s sunshine. It has been a long time coming, but quite unexpectedly the sun broke through the heavy mist of the morning and shone hotly yesterday afternoon. It was jackets off for the afternoon’s matches, which were exciting to say the least. We were playing Moor Park in both rugby and hockey; there was a strong turnout of support from both the home and away parents, who were nothing if not vocal. I must say that the Colts B played a thrilling game and it was really exciting to see them suddenly catch fire part way into the game. It was a super reminder of why we do so much team sport at school and the benefits it can bring the children. The boys, both individually and collectively, grew and grew visibly in self-belief; they played with a relish; they played beyond their own expectations and usual skill levels. It was lovely to watch and although they did not in fact win the game, it really did not matter in the least. They had loved being part of something rather special for an hour one Saturday afternoon. They had proved to themselves that they could be brave, skilful and tenacious. Their confidence had spread throughout the whole team and they had been completely focused on playing out of their skins for the duration. I hope they remember that feeling for a long time to come; I suspect that they will.
Because of the Norman invasions our first Chapel service of term was not until the end of Week 3, and the restrictions of the Birmingham Velo on our local roads made it slightly doubtful whether we would have any congregation other than our boarders. In fact the only person who did not receive the message that alternate routes would be needed was our preacher, the Rev. Simon Tarleton – I really must prepare something to have in a drawer ready for these occasions – as I should anxiously by the flag pole looking at the Clock Tower tick round to 10.30, I thought that this time I really was going to have to ad lib. To my relief Simon made it, just in time, and we hurried into what turned out to be a very full Chapel. Our parents, and even better, several recent OAs had navigated the road closures with ease. Flowers from the school garden planted by the pupils last term decorously adorned the window niches and we were treated to our ‘new’ Chapel Choir’s delights. Working in a school is a wonderful thing in many ways, not least the multiple and various demonstrations of renewal and growth that this system engenders. I suppose that farmers might feel the same, each year one could be tempted to think that the harvest will never be bettered, that conditions have led to a vintage that it would be greedy to hope for again. However, every year something new, slightly (or very) different springs forth with just as much ability to surprise and delight. So it was with our Chapel Choir last Sunday. They sang with poise and precision and it promises to be another fantastic year musically; well done to them to reach this point so quickly in the year. (There seem to be more boys than girls this year too!).
After Chapel the weather continued to be kind and Mr Richardson led a very happy day indeed in the woods. The children divided in their patrols and got stuck into making camp fires and building dens – competitively, of course. The Peewits turned out the winners, I believe, but a lot of fun (and marshmallows) was had in the process. All in all a super weekend.
Week 4 of term passed in the blink of an eye. The second Chalet trip departed bright and early on Monday morning and along with it Mrs Lockett, abandoning Mr Lockett to his own cooking and Olive, the dog, to minimal supervision (or should that be the other way round?). This time there were no dramas on the journey, though the boys (and this was an all boys trip) were excited to go through Security alongside the Liverpool first team en route to Russia. Since then reports have been positive: the weather has held until Saturday, at least, and they have been zip-wiring, walking in the mountains, over the border to Italy, cycling and lots of ping pong (Alpine style).
Here at school there has been a fair bit of sprucing up for our Open Morning, which happened yesterday, with a particular focus on getting the Tree-House ready. Mr Brocklehurst has been a tree top saintly carpenter, working almost 14 days on the trot to complete the interior and making it safe to use. He did it!! I must say that it looks superb and it is very exciting and satisfying that the Tree House has finally been opened for use after what has been a long and sometimes rather painful birthing process. We will have a proper opening soon and all will be invited to come and see for themselves, including the many donors, which include last year’s Leavers – thank you everyone.
It looked as though the good weather snap was going to end just too soon for our Open Morning…after rather a lovely autumnal week we were geared up to include the Tree House on the tour and to end up in the Out Door Education Area eating hot dogs, with 100CS demonstrating mountain-biking all around; a decision would be made on Saturday morning… in the event, although the sun did not shine, we were lucky and it stayed dry and warm just about until our last visitor left at 1.20pm. It proved to be a super morning with a good number of prospective families coming to see what we do here: the Front Hall was full and busy; the pupil guides did an absolutely superb job, once again. I felt full of pride for the school on hearing the warm, positive feedback from our visitors about their impressions of the children and school, their conversations with members of staff and the energy and buzz which was evident. There were some super children looking round, so I hope some of them decide to join us!
Going to bed last night, with the winds battering the building, it felt as though autumn had been and gone and I fully expected to wake up to a winter’s morning. In fact, despite the wind chill, it is still fairly mild. That said, the brambles have definitely ended; only a few shrivelled remnants clinging to their thorny frames; the autumn raspberries have lasted a wee bit longer, but not much. Nonetheless the season’s bounty, bar the apples, is over; damsons moulding on the branch, pears rotting on the road, hops picked, plums jammed. So I hope that we do not have any gales over the next couple of weeks before we do a ‘school pick’ during out next All-In weekend. The Apple Man is booked, and given the great crop that there is in the school orchard at the moment, we should be well supplied for apple juice for another year. On top of that I am pleased to report that last year’s cider is due to be delivered at the same time. I am sure we will be able to find a suitable occasion on which to share this with our parents; staff too deserve a share. And it hasn’t just been apples that have done well this year. Ever since the Spring I have noticed what a good vintage it has been for the oaks: they are still looking magnificent; holding firm to their leaves now when the limes, cherries and beeches are starting to turn, and if only we ate acorns, the cupboard would not be bare this year: thousands of fat ones lie beneath every oak, bombing one’s car along the country roads and making a crunchy base for vehicles and feet alike. I am choosing to take this as a good omen; the oak is a reassuringly strong symbol and in a world of flux and uncertainty I, for one, am happy to see something so permanent and resilient thriving.