PGL Day 2
After a polite reminder that 5:15 am was not considered to be a normal time to be up and about the children managed to grab a final couple of hours sleep before emerging into the bright sunlight of the Monmouthshire countryside.
Apart from the odd lavatory trip the children all reported an unbroken night sleep and awoke excited and ready for the days activities.
Rather excitingly breakfast was a fully cooked affair with bacon, scrambled eggs and beans as well as a wider variety of cereals, jams and toast which meant everybody managed to get a decent breakfast to set them up for the day.
It was a brief journey to the water sports lake which consisted of a short coach ride through the rolling countryside and a 10 minute walk through the woods before we reached the lake and, after a quick safety briefing and kitting out we shot out onto the waters in our 3 man canoes for our first activity.
Whilst the group was excited to see the lakes resident terrapins, herons, swans and other wild life the most exciting part of the first session came when Murray took the instruction ‘lean over the side and try to kiss the fishes’ (a forfeit for losing the first part of a game) a little too literally and, apparently unable to see any fish on the surface, promptly slid under the waves perhaps hunting for that elusive aquatic creature. With his buoyancy aid clearly up to the job he quickly popped up to the surface and was back on his boat in a jiffy and we headed further into the lake for a series of games which challenged all of the crews to work together to steer and propel the canoes over the lake. There were a few disappointed faces when we arrived back a the beach for lunch with no further disappearances into the depths but this was a situation soon remedied in the afternoon session.
Lunch was a very sunny affair where we double checked sun cream and ate our packed lunches amongst the woods, watching the dragonflies skit and wheel all around us as we got ready for our kayaking session.
Discovering that the single seater kayaks were a lot faster and significantly less stable led to a few wet feet and bottoms but no more wet heads until the instructor made what he thought was a silly joke about teaching everyone to roll their kayaks underwater, to his surprise Talia and Emilia looked him straight in the eye and gave him an emphatic, ‘Yes please’. A little taken aback he slowly explained to the girls that they would first need to capsize their boats in the middle of the lake, extract themselves from the submerged hull and get themselves back to the surface sure that this would be the end of the matter and they could get back to their games. Without batting an eyelid the girls looked straight at the instructor, quickly grinned and gave an emphatic ‘OK!’ and both started rocking their boats from side to side to try and upturn them.
Beaten, the instructor set to making sure everything was safe and, before long, pupils were rocking themselves from side to side with all of their might each discovering 2 things: firstly that it is actually quite difficult to capsize a kayak and; secondly, it is definitely possible if you put enough effort into rocking your boat.
Fortunately we all had bags fully stocked with dry clothes and towels and we tramped back along the country lanes to the coach waiting to take us back for dinner which consisted of meatballs, gammon steak or feta and halloumi stuffed tomatoes.
As the sun began to set we packed our bags for the following day, made sure our recently purchased snacks, treats and marshmallows were all safely stored and headed down to the campfire where we ended the day with singing, crackling flames, starlight and toasted marshmallows before bed.
PGL Day 1
Glorious sunshine welcomed us as we boarded the minibus to take us to Hillcrest and, apart from a brief hold up getting around a tree felling on a small country lane, a straightforward journey awaited us.
Sophie, our group leader, was ready to greet us as we drove up the drive and we were very swiftly out into the grounds of the house playing a wide variety of outside games, from the familiar ‘chaos tag’ to the novel games of splat and foot stomp.
Our rooms were ready very shortly after we finished our packed lunches and nobody took any time getting settled, the small size of our group meant that everybody had a top bunk to themselves!
Swiftly moving on with our day we sped downstairs to the basketball courts where the ‘street surfers’ awaited us, imagine chopping a skateboard in half and reattaching it with a bendy pole and replacing the wheels with individual shopping trolley casters and you would not be far wrong. It goes without saying that these were very tricky to balance on and there was some great teamwork helping each other stay on.
With only a brief time exploring the woods to get our bearings, we were quickly whisked off to the abseiling tower where 11 anxious pairs of eyes looked up towards the imposingly high structure.
Safely strapped into our harnesses and helmets adorning our heads we headed, a few at a time, to the top of the tower before begginning our abseiling adventure. Not everybody made the descent but everybody challenged themselves and went further than they had planned, be it just getting to the top of the tower to even peering over the edge we all came away proud of our achievements.
Tea (or dinner, depending on your geographical location in the country) was either pasta with a bolognaise sauce or chicken curry, accompanied by a very generous salad bar, broccoli soup and apple crumble and the opportunity to sit down and talk through the days events was gratefully received by everybody.
As the sun began to set we headed out into the grounds again for a game of ‘Ambush’ where groups of us had a specific time limit to find places to hid before being hunted down (think ‘Team Hide and Seek’ on a grand scale’. After being outwitted by some cunning hiding places from the girls in Sophies group Mr O’Hara’s group had the final laugh and, instead of scurrying around in and behind bushes simply pretended to be from another school and joined in some campfire songs with a primary school from Hereford, suffice to say this was not a place the other group thought to look and they walked passed the openly concealed players several times before the ruse was revealed.
Heading inside we had a little bit of time to just talk and decompress before heading up to our rooms to settle in for the night, do our teeth and everything else that was needed before zipping up our sleeping bags and turning the lights off, ready for a day on the lake tomorrow.