ALL AROUND THE WORLD
During the summer, October half term and this term PGS pupils have been heading out and about to enjoy experiences around Portsmouth, the country and the world!
by Mr Steve Harris
India is an extraordinary exciting, vibrant, tough and beautiful country. This expedition was designed to stretch the participants beyond their comfort zone, both physically and culturally as they trekked in the Himalaya, went white water rafting on the Indus, experienced the wonders of the Taj Mahal and visited enough Buddhist monasteries to last many a year. I think that all would agree that this aim was achieved.
As we stepped off the plane in Delhi we were hit by a wall of heat and as we experienced a white knuckle rickshaw ride through the old city to the market, marvelling at temples, forts, dodgy wiring and mosques, the culture shock hit us too. A day of madness in Delhi was followed by an early start and the spectacular flight up to Leh in the Himalayas. At an altitude of 3,500m the physical stretch was now evident and we were all grateful for a relaxed start to our acclimatisation programme. Over the next week or so we climbed local hills, drove up the highest La (pass) in the world (or so they claim) and worked at a hostel for children who were orphaned or who came from villages that were so remote they had no access to a school. Here we built a concrete washing platform, decorated dormitories and made other improvements to the site, as well as enjoying the fun of a day when the children ‘helped‘ with the painting.
The hard work was broken up by a day running the rapids on the Indus and then we were ready to go higher still for our eight-day trek in the remote valleys of Ladakh, heading towards China. Tough climbs over high mountain passes, huge salt lakes, stunning views, shaggy yaks and inquisitive mouse hares, all followed, along with some testing challenges that are best left out of this report. Throughout, we enjoyed the wonderful company, good humour and expertise of our guide Pemba and his trek team of cook, camp boys, muleteers and assistant guide, who happened to mention one day that he had summited Everest a number of times. Pemba’s knowledge of his country, its geography, religion, wildlife, politics and environment was encyclopaedic and, along with his evident pride in his homeland, quite humbling.
We finished off our great adventure with a visit to Agra and the Taj Mahal and as we flew back to the UK I think we all felt thoroughly stretched in so many ways. The benefits of such adventurous travel are too numerous to include here, but suffice to say when you are stretched this way, you do not shrink back to where you started and you now have the capacity and motivation to go further and do more than before.
The Heights of Portsmouth
Year 3 had a wonderful morning at the Spinnaker Tower
Arriving promptly at 10am and first watching a film documenting Portsmouth’s rich history including being the home of the Royal Navy and the home of famous authors including Rudyard Kipling and Charles Dickens, Year 3 then headed for the lift to zoom them up to the top of the Spinnaker Tower.
After the ear-popping ride at a rate of 4 metres per second, the pupils spent an hour carefully observing Portsmouth from above noting many of its geographical features including the Dockyard, the Cathedral and even their school in Old Portsmouth.
They also had a great vantage point to look at the busy harbour and watched the movement of ferries, sailing boats and the hovercraft.
As it was such a beautiful clear day, they even had a splendid view of the Isle of Wight, spotting Osbourne House!
The children spent time drawing what they could see which will help with their geography work and learning for their topic work. A few even developed their courage by standing on the glass viewing platform... it is very high up – 100m to be exact!
UNDER THE DESERT STARS
by Mr Chris Williamson
12 pupils and three members of staff met to head off to Gatwick for an early morning flight to Morocco during half term. Last minute weather forecasts revealed that it was unseasonably cold in the mountains so extra layers were quickly packed.
The group enjoyed three days of beautiful trekking around the village of Aroumd in the Toubkal range of the High Atlas before a 5am start to head for the summit of North Africa’s highest mountain, J’Bel Toubkal. Crampons were necessary which added an extra frisson of excitement to the summit push as well as battling the effects of the high altitude. All successfully summited and we headed back down the valley and transferred to the Sahara Desert by way of an overnight stop in Ait Ben Haddou – famous for its appearance in many movies, notably Gladiator. We were shown building techniques and traditional Moroccan Art while learning about the historic caravans that traded spices, materials and slaves for many centuries up the Draa Valley.
In the Sahara we rode camels and learnt about the nomadic lifestyle before sitting under the stars around the campfire sharing folk songs from Morocco and the UK. Many woke early to watch the sunrise over the sand dunes before we headed back to a wet Ouarzazate for the night, via a pottery collective where some had a go at making traditional Moroccan pottery.
The following day we transferred to Marrakech where we enjoyed a guided tour around one of Morocco’s former capitals and Imperial Cities, visiting ancient libraries and royal palaces. On the final day we were let loose in the souqs to practise our bartering, many pupils were sure they had snagged a bargain. The food was excellent, the views superb and the cities vibrant; it was a pleasure to visit a culture so very different to our own within a three hour flight time.
Photograph credits: Mr Chris Williamson
LAND AND WAVE
Year 5 headed west to Swanage for the annual Land and Wave residential trip.5
Daily Log, Thursday 4 October 2018
by Eva Burkinshaw, Year 5
Today was exhilarating!
In the morning we woke up and had a delicious breakfast cooked by the Allnatt team. Then we were told to get into some wet wetsuits and life jackets. Once we were ready, we got on the minibus to Dancing Ledge for coasteering. We walked for about twenty minutes along paths through the countryside until we reached the site. But before we could get to the sea we had to climb down a cliff! Once we were on the ledge we swam in the swimming pool in the rocks, which had been made by the miners long ago. There were ammonites all around us and tracks made by some machines from the past.
We were split into our groups and then we jumped off the rocks at many different heights into the sea. As we jumped it felt like we were soaring through the air. In the water, after we had jumped, we had to tap our helmets to signal we were ok. Finally, we swam into a cave where the walls were bright pink. Inside there was a pool like a shimmering sapphire. It was incredible and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Diving in to bomb shelters, squashing in to tiny spaces and imagining the night sky during an air raid were just some of the experiences enjoyed by Year 6 during the launch of their ‘Blitz Britain’ topic.
“I really enjoyed my experience in the bomb shelter, reliving what it would have been like during an air raid,” said Christian.
“We used VR headsets to be transported back to World War Two,” said Katie. “It was amazing to see the buildings on fire and hear the bombers above. It felt very real.”
The pupils took part in a range of activities including an art project to paint a nightime cityscape, thought about what it would be like to be an evacuee in drama and cooked ‘golden squares’ – bread soaked in egg yolk and fried in a pan.
The launch day was the followed by a visit to the Imperial War Museum in London. The pupils spent time looking at the George and Victoria Cross medals and the great heroes of World War I and II who were awarded those honours. They also had the opportunity to go inside an Anderson Shelter and see what a house was like during the 1940s.