A New Chapter...
If July and August are two reasons to become a teacher, then September is why we send our children to boarding school. I hope that as many of you as possible have enjoyed a rest, perhaps even a holiday, after the rigours of the long Summer break? I cannot tell you how happy we are to be back at school.
So we have arrived at the first Exeat and what a couple of weeks it has been! Before I go any further, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the parents, staff and pupils who have made the first section of this term so straightforward. I am sure it will not always be thus, but thank you for the false sense of security nonetheless!
As I said in my earlier letter, one of the things that have struck me the most about Belhaven, is the obvious delight that the children get from being here. From the moment they returned from their Summer holidays, it was clear to see that they were all glad to be back – what a wonderful way to start the school year.
So much of what happens at Belhaven seems perfectly normal to them but it is all very new to me. Over the last nine months (to which I have been referring, somewhat inappropriately, as my period of confinement) I have heard so much about the idiosyncrasies of Belhaven from all who are, or have been, connected with the school. Many times I have thought to myself either, “That sounds wonderful,” or, occasionally, “That sounds mad,” but it is very difficult to put these things into perspective until you can actually see them for yourself.
So what has been going on? Over the holidays the Girls’ House and the Dining Room were given a makeover, the school became ‘WiFi’ throughout and we are now cabled for VOIP (like me, you’ll probably need to look that one up) to allow for a far greater number of ‘phone handsets in the boarding houses. If you haven’t seen it yet, we have also acquired a school Landrover; the staff fell about when I announced that I was off to get it ‘pimped’ in Leith (an expression that I later came to regret).
The first Saturday of term was filled with early season rugby training, Riding at Seacliff and, in the evening, films and sweets – how lovely to see the boarders all queueing patiently for their 100g pick-and-mix bags of rainbow pips, foam bananas, milk bottles, strawberry laces, flying saucers and so on. Sunday morning saw the first ‘In’ Service – what a treat not to have to take the service myself but rather settle back and enjoy it, as the two Heads of School and Patrol Leaders took control. I just needed a nudge to remind me that I was due at the lectern to deliver my talk, on the power of ants!
After lunch, all the boarders were transported by double decker bus to Murrayfield for an afternoon of Ice skating before returning for a barbecue of sausages, ribs and chicken – it was so lovely to see all the children playing together on the games pitches both before and after supper, in the beautiful East Lothian sunshine!
The following Wednesday saw the first matches of term with rugby fixtures against Loretto and Hockey against Kilgraston. Match reports and results are on the website as usual but I’d like to add at this point just how much I enjoy watching Under 9 rugby; there are some tremendous young players at the bottom of the school who I am sure, in time, will emulate the feats of those currently in the Under 11s and the 1sts.
On Saturday there were further hockey matches against Strathallan, whilst at home there was the opportunity for some Saturday morning school on the beach for the younger ones and Mr. Lovatt and I took some of the boys (and Olive) to an English Civil War Society re-enactment of the Battle of Dunbar, in the Deer Park. All cannon fire, smoke and shouting and not enough people being ‘skewered’ on a pike for their liking.
Last Sunday we had Dr. Hawley, the HM of Loretto to preach; he gave a very good sermon on prioritising the important things in life using golf balls, sand, Hama beads and cold tea (...or was it whisky?) to get his message across. It was good to see so many parents here and the study was full for coffee afterwards.
After lunch there were several activities on offer and Mr. Rawson took some willing volunteers tree-planting in the Borders. Mr. Gale, Mrs. Knight and I took a group of very brave girls and one, marginally less brave, young man to Yellowcraig Beach for a swim. The girls went straight in, the young man didn’t and their screams fairly emptied the beach; all were rewarded with a trip to the adventure playground and ice creams all round.
Last week we had a film crew here making a new film for the website, which I hope will be ready in a couple of weeks’ time. This coincided with some tremendous rugby against Ardvreck (along with the Compass for the u9s) – results and reports, as before, on the website – and hockey, this time against Loretto. We even managed tea outside – my first experience of Belhaven match tea. If a school lives or dies by its match teas, then Belhaven is in very rude health indeed!
That is all.