The last three weeks have passed in a complete blur. I have spent most of my time with the 6th form during their Leavers’ programme which has included a Rock School, Ride the Hill, Wake-boarding, Self Defence, and a Leadership course; not to mention a memorable performance of Under Milk Wood, rehearsed and produced in just 10 days.
The Leavers’ trip to Liverpool was also pretty memorable. A long drive north culminating in a stay at the International Football Academy (which didn’t actually have a football pitch. Or any goals. And it wasn’t very international either.) The boys had a day in the Lake District, kayaking on Lake Windermere, while Monk and I enjoyed lunch with Julian and Jan Berkeley – it was lovely to see them again and catch up on all their news, whilst filling them in on all that has gone on at Woodcote.
The following day was our day in Liverpool which began with an excellent tour of Anfield, a visit to the Beatles Museum and then supper in the Albert Docks. Our final day was spent at Alton Towers. Monk and I looked at The Smiler and Oblivion but decided against them, plumping for something called RITA, which sounded much more gentle. Not so. 0 – 61 mph in just 2.5 seconds! Never again.
Term finished with usual prize givings and the Leavers’ produced a lip dub to “With a little help from my friends” by The Beatles – well, they were in Liverpool.
The builders moved in to the the school, literally as the boys were moving out. The gym has become the site office and I have attached a few photos so you can see what they have achieved in 5 days….there is no going back now!
I wish you all a very peaceful and relaxing Summer!
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….is underway, with 5 boys currently taking advantage of the daily transport to and from West London. I was there to wave the boys off on their inaugural journey last night. They left Woodcote at 5:25pm and were back in London at 6:10pm, having had a picnic tea ‘en route’. The boys and their driver are keen to name the bus! All suggestions should be sent to me – email@example.com – and there will be a prize for the winner! Good Luck….
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The rain has finally stopped….and just in time too. We’ve lost far too many fixtures to waterlogged pitches this term, so it was great to round off the season with some good wins against Sunningdale on Saturday afternoon. The 1st XV were weakened due to a guest appearance by the HM as Team Coach (Mr. Lyddon being otherwise engaged) but they overcame this handicap with a comprehensive 46-7 win. The Twos and Bs also won comfortably whilst Sunningdale were victorious at As and 9s.
The weekend had begun in earnest on Friday evening with the House Recitation competition (won, quite rightly, by the Browns) followed by the first performance of the Junior Play – On the Verge! It was a hugely successful evening and the Woodcote House Red and White wines were well-received and swiftly despatched during the interval.
On Saturday we had our 10th annual Scholarship Morning. There were 20 candidates, by far the best overall field that we have had and I feel as though we have made some generous awards as a result. The parents were taken on tour by the senior boys and the school was bathed in sunshine – perfection.
On Sunday we had the inaugural Grandparents’ Day. This began with Chapel at 11:30 followed by drinks on the lawn, a tour of the school by the grandchildren and then lunch in the Dining Room. The school and guests were treated to rib of beef and sticky toffee pudding and although we ran out of room (and cutlery) there was plenty of food for 150. Thankfully it was a beautiful day, the best of the year so far, and the boys whose grandparents couldn’t make it had lunch outside in the sunshine. Coffee was also taken in the grounds before the second and final performance of On the Verge! It was indeed a triumph and was followed by tea, again outside, before the grandparents departed. I have had some wonderful letters of thanks and hope to repeat the day again in future.
The sun continues to shine as the 6th form attack their mock CE exams. We have a short Exeat this weekend and then we hurtle headlong towards the end of term busying ourselves with Hockey matches, 7s tournaments (Woodcote, Oundle and possibly Rosslyn Park) a theatre trip, Sport Relief fundraising, CCF camp at Whitgift, House Sports, Staff and Boys’ golf and, of course, the Staff Revue. Spring is definitely in the air……
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Apologies for the radio silence recently – it’s all been a bit hectic, as is the way at this stage of the Michaelmas term. Now where were we….?
We had our final football matches of term against Horris Hill. The results will all have been tweeted immediately afterwards so I won’t bore you again with the results, save to say that the mighty 4th XI drew 1-1, thereby completing an unbeaten season – Played 4; Won 2; Drawn 2; Goals for:4 Goals Against: 2! A slap-up lunch at the GBK awaits these ‘Galacticos’ !
EL and I went to Twickenham to watch the England v. All Blacks. Cracking game, cracking seats – and probably the right result too.
The play weekend was a huge success. There was a small, but perfectly formed, audience on the Friday evening to watch “I’ll ring for more toast…” a hilarious vignette, which did in 35 minutes what Downton Abbey has taken 4 series to do. This was followed by the House music competition. Each house had to provide a drummer, pianist and vocalist to perform a solo – the standard was extraordinarily high, and the individual spoils were shared among the houses.
The Saturday evening began with a Wine Tasting for all the parents, hosted by Tom Gilbey, proprietor of The Vintner, followed by a second performance of the play and then the House Shout, which was impeccably judged by Oliver Paterson. The final outcome was that the Reds, who sang, “Dumb Ways to Die”, were the overall winners, although no one is quite sure how and the judge, fearing for his safety, made a sharp exit. We also launched the new Woodcote House Red and White wines in the interval, and these are available to buy from Tom at The Vintner.
Holman appeared on Sunday to preach to the boys and then we were into Exam week. We all drew breath with a short Exeat and this week has been all about CAT testing but with a few other excitements thrown in: Paul McGinley dropped in with the Ryder Cup and we also had a Junior Christingle service on Tuesday evening.
The 1st XV have just headed off on Rugby Tour to the West Country – they have already beaten Farleigh by 2 tries to 1 and are off to play St. Peter’s Lympstone this afternoon after a morning spent with the Royal Marine Commandos at their training base! Tomorrow they play Perrott Hill on their way home, before attending a Barn Dance at St. Mary’s Ascot. They should be suitably knackered by Sunday.
Next week we have Dormitory Charades on Monday, Carol Services on Wednesday and Thursday and the Christmas lunch and Break-Up supper to send the boys on their way for the holidays – it is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas….
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I am delighted to report that after my arduous afternoon tasting wines with a London merchant of some repute, we have selected a new Woodcote House Red and Woodcote House White, which will be launched at a tasting here on Saturday 23rd November – details to follow shortly.
We had our Bonfire Night on Friday and although things looked a bit ‘touch and go’ for a while (the rain at one point was of biblical proportions) we decided to press on. The barbecue took place inside – the eating, not the cooking – and at about 6:30pm the clouds parted and we were able to get the boys out, and down to the bonfire.
The Grounds staff had done a particularly fine job with the construction of the bonfire – it started immediately and burnt beautifully symmetrically, allowing the ‘guy’ to toast gently for a good few minutes before finally being engulfed and toppling from his lofty perch to cheers of delight from the boys. As always, the ‘guy’ was designed and built by the Dominites, although I am not at liberty to tell you who the burning effigy was….
On Saturday AGM and I were at the Independent Schools Show in Battersea. It was a hugely worthwhile event this year and we met many prospective parents, several of whom are very interested in the Woodcote Bus, which will be running in and out of London from April.
We were both unfortunate however to miss a feast of football against Sunningdale on Saturday afternoon, with the four senior games going to Woodcote, both Colts games won by the ‘dale and honours even in the U9s.
I was absolutely delighted with the turnout at Chapel for Remembrance Sunday – thank you to all those parents who rallied to the call. It was packed to the rafters, so much so that the only seat left when I arrived was a Juniors plastic chair in the aisle. No matter, it was a terrific service and as always, I am indebted to Mr. Nick and Mr. Mark for taking it. As I have said, we are incredibly fortunate not only that Mr. Mark is willing to give us his thoughts on Remembrance each year but also that we have such a strong and tangible link with the past – long may it continue.
This week we have our final football fixtures of the term against Horris Hill and then the rugby season begins in earnest after the Exeat….I’m off to Twickenham on Saturday to whet the appetite!
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So the first half ended in style – The House Cross Country, always an eagerly anticipated event , took place, with the spoils this year going to the Blues, followed by the Greens (?!) and then the Reds, with the Browns bringing up the rear.
On the Thursday before half term, I was invited to lunch with the Headmaster of King’s Canterbury, Peter Roberts, who had previously been at Bradfield. It was my first visit to Canterbury and I was hugely impressed not only by the city, but also by the school. It is not one that we have sent boys to for quite some time, but it is now firmly on the radar.
On Friday we had the Half term concert with a very diverse range of performances, including some exquisite piano playing and an excellent recitation of A Subaltern’s Love Song from the scholars. Once again there was the opportunity for all musicians to play, either individually or collectively, regardless of how long they have been learning. Performance is such an important skill and I was immensely proud of all the boys who took part.
Since our return from Half term, the 6th form and Shell have been to Wales for their Geography Field Trip – this freed up a few beds to allow some of the younger boys to trial boarding for up to 3 nights – it was a big success and greatly enjoyed by all. My thanks to the matrons for all their help with the ‘new bugs’.
On Thursday night we had our Halloween Supper – tremendous fun and the dining room looked amazing. You will have to look at the Boarders’ Blog for a full report!
On Friday, Michael Gove came to plant a tree that Mr.Holman had given to the school to celebrate the Golden Jubilee. The Queen’s tree, as it is known, is just outside the 1st XI boundary down by Cricket Lodge. The older boys were given the opportunity to question the Secretary of State for Education on his plans for the new GCSEs – for which they will be guinea pigs in 2017! I think they were as impressed with Mr. Gove as I was (see previous post).
This weekend was an Open weekend. We had a full chapel, twenty five or so parents to lunch and then some excellent and hard-fought house football matches in the afternoon. The Browns won the senior event whilst the Blues hammered the Reds in the final of the Junior competition.
STOP PRESS: Best news of all though was that we managed a 100% record of success with our candidates for Wellington this year. We have found it increasingly difficult to send the right boys to pre-test there over the last couple of years and so I am absolutely delighted that all three boys won places at the school for 2015. They should be very proud of themselves.
Much is happening this week. Perhaps most importantly I am off to London on Tuesday for a private wine-tasting. I’m afraid the merchant that used to supply our Woodcote House Red and White wines is no longer in business, so I have asked an old friend to set up a tasting in order that we might find a new supplier for our school wines.
The things I do for the good of this school! I’ll let you know how I get on….
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