Good morning, gentle readers and welcome to a lovely sunny weekend. The skies are a clear blue and it is delightfully refreshing. Later on I might even get the chance to sit out!
As expected, yesterday was a sheer delight. All the children came. All the adults came, thank goodness: there's always a little niggle at the back of ones mind that someone can't come and all carefully worked out plans will crash as a result.
The children all arrived early. In fact, they were hammering on the door (not literally) five minutes before as we'd said we would open them early. They had all applied their sun cream and most of them said no, they didn't need the loo, thanks, because they had just been at home. Well done, parents!
So we got a prompt, albeit noisy, start! Excited children can make a LOT of noise! Once there, it was onto the pier and into the train for a quick chug to the end of the pier (noting geographical features as we went) and another quick chug back again (which seemed much shorter than the way out).
One of the highlights for the children was the pound coin burning a hole in their purses and wallets. With this they intended to buy an ice cream. When V visited Southend on Saturday she had found a stall where the vendor was happy to make smaller icecreams for a pound. Unfortunately, yesterday there was a different person behind the counter, who refused. Oh, dear! So V went on ahead and, fortunately, found someone who agreed. Personally I think they were onto a good thing. Yes, it was rather frantic for ten minutes or so as they made little ice creams for seventy two people but that was £72 gained (mostly profit, I am sure) in a very short time! Very polite people too, including the little people who were extremely grateful and excited and said so. Great manners! The two big people in charge were also hugely grateful!
By the way, it was the same place that let two 'desperate' children use their loos when we got off the coach and before we got the train along the pier. I wish I could remember the name of the place because they seem jolly nice people. It's a cafe on the beach side, half way between the pier and the sealife centre. It has an ice cream bit on one side and sells meals on the other side and you can walk through the middle to indoor and then outdoor tables and seating overlooking the sea. I have absolutely no idea what the food is like, probably the usual seaside fare, but they were super kind and accommodating and, for that, I recommend them. If I ever go to Southend, that is where I will eat. After all, one good turn deserves another!
Then it was time to find the toilets. Managing this with so many children, some of whom 'can't wait', can be rather stressful but the Southend loos are fine!
Then we went along to the sealife centre to find out when our talks would be, have lunch, play on the beach and explore the centre. It was all very good although I had to swallow my unease: I am not a great fan of zoos although I acknowledge the great work some of them do, and this seemed very similar. However, it was a fantastic sight, the children were so eager and interested in everything theyn saw, they were reading the information boards (that's the end of Y2 for you - most have become fluent and voracious readers) and generally having a wonderful experience.
Then it was home, sweet home and a mad rush to give out the hard copy reports, associated sheets, the sheets the children had written out their year and to tell them who their next teacher will be (to delighted cheers from the children so that's good!).
Oh, my, I was so tired. I managed to see Andy Murray lose to Federer in the semis before nodding off. At around seven thirty I dragged myself up to bed and almost slept the clock round, waking a couple of times but nothing too bad or long.
And this morning? Well, fine. No sunburn, the knee that has given me so much trouble was fine and the ankle that has always been a problem (yes I have seen a GP in the past) was also fine and only aches a little bit now.
Was it worth it. Well of course it was. The children were absolutely wonderful. Excited, sure, but so very well behaved, interested and appreciative. It was a day of highlights: the train, the ice cream, the sealife, looking for treasure on the beach (and discovering it - one girl found a 50p!), collecting shells and pebbles ('Mrs Clark, why is my bag so heavy?'), touching a starfish and a crab, learning various yucky facts about both that were guaranteed to fascinate, watching the rays as they glided effortlessly through the water . . . Of course it was worth it!
Would I do it again. Well, maybe I will - as a 'mummy helper' next year!