The fact that the heat wave in the south somewhat passed us by did not dampen our spirits in the slightest, as the excitement of the final two weeks of the school year took hold.
It would have been lovely to have held the champagne reception for the inaugural Leavers’ Guest Dinner on the lawn but the guests were very happy in the drawing room and enjoyed detailed tours of the inside of the school! Dr. Hamilton, the Tutor for Admissions at Marlborough gave an excellent speech after dinner and everyone left in very high spirits. The Form 2s were particularly good waiters and waitresses, and are already talking about whom they will be inviting next year. As a new idea for Belhaven, it was one of my better ones….
Sadly I missed much of the final weekend of term as I was back at Woodcote getting soundly thrashed in the Fathers v. Sons cricket. There were all sorts of matches going on here over the weekend – cricket, rounders and tennis – along with the Summer concert and supper for 180 parents and guests. I made it back in time for Leavers’ Evensong; I hope that my talk on starting at senior school and using their talents wisely was useful – we shall see!
On Monday we had Prize Giving followed by a barbecue for the whole school and then the infamous ‘Pease Bay’ – where the whole school is bussed down to a beach just south of Belhaven for an afternoon of games, swimming, shrimping and toasting marshmallows. We certainly picked the right day for it and it was wonderful, in every possible way.
In the evening we had the Leavers to supper in the Walled Garden. It was a Mexican themed evening with Chilli, Nachos by the bucketload, Mocktails (although I’m not sure that a Pina Colada is particularly Mexican?), Pinatas, Sombreros, the cheesiest Mexican soundtrack, and cake – it was Lochie’s birthday. The leavers all went for a late swim at 10pm before films and bed.
Tuesday afternoon saw the annual renewal of Superstars, although the weather had reverted to its June default position. Innes and Sandy arrived just in time for the most delicious Luca’s ice creams and, despite the sea haar, a good time was had by all. This was then followed by another barbecue and whole school tug-o-war; muddy but brilliant!
Meanwhile the Leavers were at Leavers’ Beach – this year ‘tombstoning’ into the harbour at Seacliff. They returned at about 11pm for more films but at about 4am they were up again to prepare for Leavers’ dares. This year the theme was very much ‘water’. By 6am they had filled literally hundreds of water balloons and had invented a game which was a mixture of ‘Capture the Flag’ and ‘Gladiator’ with water. There was also a water slide made from the old pool cover and Fairy Liquid. Genius.
The rest of the school were woken by a mixture of bagpipes and foghorns (apologies to the neighbours) at 6:30 and battle commenced, raging for an hour or so. The catapult was most certainly the highlight. Everyone had a blast and, at the end, every spent water balloon had been tidied away.
The whole school came in for Leavers’ breakfast which, as far as I could make out, consisted of Pains au Chocolat, chewy sweets and Irn Bru. Suitably fortified it was then time for the athletics finals.
The chef had reserved a decent breakfast for the parents – 250 bacon rolls and coffee, which were demolished fairly swiftly. The weather lifted and we were blessed with the most beautiful morning. Although perhaps a little tired, everyone performed superbly, culminating in the Patrol shuttle relay for all.
We were then able to award the Victores Ludorum and the Patrol Shield, before a final farewell to the Leavers – giving them their ties and wash bags (made from the old reversible rugby jerseys). Inspired.
Once the tearful farewells were over and the dust had settled, we had a wonderful staff party on the front lawn. The assembled masses were treated to ‘White Ladies’ made by the Headmaster - a heady cocktail of gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and egg white; a mobile Pizza Van (The Big Blu – if you haven’t yet had one of their pizzas, you jolly well should) and a disco provided, as always, by Stewart.
And so, our first year at Belhaven comes to a close – where did the time go? As I hope you will have understood from reading the ‘blog, we have had so much fun. It has been great to be able to discover what really happens at Belhaven by watching the events for the first time.
There are times when you think, “That’s mad – it won’t work” and it does; very occasionally, you think, “That sounds great” but it isn’t. Only by actually immersing oneself in the idiosyncrasies of a place like Belhaven can you begin to create a vision for the school. We are extraordinarily grateful to have been afforded that opportunity this year.
So what changes will we be making? What have we learnt from our first year? Looking back, there is one thing that stands out; one thing that really has to change.
What is it?
Simple….never, ever serve ‘White Ladies’ at a staff party.
Have a great Summer!
That is all.