11th February 19
A morning of admin awaits every Monday although this week was more interesting than most as fixtures were on the agenda. Away football fixtures in Belgium and the Basque Country Tour in October were firmed up with phone conversations with contacts in Belgium and France and the exciting news that both schools from Canada and Australia would be visiting the College to play in the Summer and Michaelmas terms, respectively, were also confirmed. There was also a meeting with Mrs Butt to go through the details of a very busy week, especially the coming weekend, with multiple events happening and staffing, catering and transport all needing to be in place for them to be effective. An afternoon of Priory rugby at Farthingloe provides some much needed “outside time”. Mrs Butt on duty in the evening so a late one awaits, bed at just after 23:00hrs.
Tuesday is an early start in the gym at 06:00hrs, normally the only time during the week when I can exercise independently. Usually a couple of irreverent podcasts keep me company as Mr Annakie and I grunt our way through a morning workout. Year 7 PE follows straight after Chapel, enough to keep anyone on their toes for the first period, inventing our own sports at present, and Farmer Tennis it was. Think a Swiss ball, gym benches as a net, and the whole Sports Hall as the court. Total madness but a roaring success with much fun had by all as rues are invented and changed to make the game as inclusive and fun for all participants, which was the brief I gave the pupils. Year 11 cover follows as Mr Payne is away with indoor cricket and as coursework progress has been good it’s a practical session with badminton, indoor football or basketball to choose from. After Year 11 the chimera of emails rears its ugly head, filling the periods until lunch. Senior rugby provides a decent antidote in the afternoon and upon picking up Oliver from school find out he’s playing his second match of Tag Rugby for the mighty Under 9s on Wednesday. He’s chuffed and so am I.
Wednesday starts with a parent meeting from 09:00 to 09:45hrs and as soon as that finishes I’m in the car in my wellies armed with work gloves and a good pair of pliers. It’s off to Farthingloe and the Steeplechase track where there is a report of a fallen tree on the course which has brought down a barbed wire fence. It’s pretty unpleasant work but if the race is to happen on Saturday it needs to be done and after a good hour of graft all the barbed wire has gone, although the tree will make an interesting obstacle for the Saturday runners. The Priory boys have a fixture against Wellesley in the afternoon which I referee and then briefly catch up with my parents who have been here for the afternoon to watch Oliver play for the Under 9s as both Mrs Butt and I are unable to watch. I do prep duty in house in the evening, which proves productive as I have a half hour chat with the new Director of Sport at Duke of York’s and firm up tennis and athletics fixtures for the Summer term. One of my tutees requires some help with a prep and so I manage to negotiate the vagaries of German Excel to produce a graph with error bars at 2 standard deviations. Yes, it required a Google search. Thanks, Dr Morton, I’ll call in a favour later in the year!
Thursday morning starts with Year 12, a small group and we look at ways to combat a sedentary lifestyle and briefly look at the structure of the summer’s exam paper. The pupils are very keen to tell me their thoughts on the hot topic of the week, the possibility of Saturday school, and so in the spirit of democracy we run into the next period, which is free for them, and give it some airtime. During Year 8 PE the boys are practicing for the Fives trip at the weekend, I’ve just spoken to Allen, the Director of Sport at Rydal, over the phone and so am able to feed the boys little snippets of exciting information. There is a lunchtime meeting with the Headmaster and Deputy Head regarding upcoming trips and tours and then an afternoon of Senior Rugby with the Seniors at Farthingloe after I catch ten minutes of the Senior Netball and am impressed by some of the Under 15 girls who have stepped up a category. After anxiously waiting for the Cross Country group’s feedback on the Steeplechase course, all is well and we are a go for Saturday. A late night email from a Year 8 boy “just confirming he needs his passport for the trip to Colwyn Bay” lightens the mood before bed. Obviously, I reply in the affirmative “due to ongoing uncertainty with Brexit negotiations and the possible checkpoints on Offa’s Dyke”.
Friday is an early start, alarm at 05:50hrs for the gym but decide against it to ensure all the Ts are crossed and the Is dotted for the Fives trip. Meet is at 08:45hrs so after dropping the children off at the Junior School it’s via the kitchen to pick up some catering and get on the road. 333 miles lay ahead of us and with two planned stops it will be a long one but this doesn’t dampen the boys’ excitement. We arrive at Rydal after a great run up, with traffic in our favour and check straight into their guest accommodation. The DoS there is an Irish chap, who I’ve never met but spoken with on the phone many times, he is a great chap and can’t do enough for us. Supper, two hours of Fives, an hour of football with boarders on their Astro and Skyfall on the TV are on the cards before lights out at 22:30hrs.
Saturday is breakfast at 09:00hrs, the boys seem to have had a good night’s sleep and are raring to go. We play Fives for just over two hours before lunching just after midday and getting back on the road at 13:00hrs. Again, we are very lucky with the traffic and Five Live Sport keeps us company for the duration. I even manage to catch the end of the Scotland Ireland game at Corley services, an expected bonus. En route I manage to get updates from the College about the successful staging of the inaugural Cross Country Invitational and am hugely grateful to all the staff who facilitated it whilst I was away. We arrive back at the College just before 20:00hrs and boys are dispatched to parents and houses. I rush back home and just catch the children as they are drifting off to sleep. Mrs Butt on duty again so we catch up over an Indian takeaway whilst the house is quiet.
Sunday highlights include a Daddy pancake special for breakfast and Argentinean barbecue of beef short ribs and thick end of fillet for supper with England’s Six Nations demolition of France sandwiched nicely between. Top quality day topped off with a couple of hours of Netflix with Mrs Butt.