Sports Tour 2016

Final Day

What I love about the flight home from a tour or a ski trip, is not the obvious things like the return to my family (well to the two I left at home that is) or the comforts of my own house, but the observation of the way your daughters have changed over the course of their time away. When we left Gatwick on Tuesday there were anxious faces about whom they would sit by on the plane on the way to Malta. As I tweeted at the time, we deliberately moved girls around so that they were sat with others from the same year group or their sibling. This greatly minimised the anxiety felt by some girls on their first proper trip away form family and home. 

On the way home from a trip or a tour however, there is no such need to move girls around. They travel comfortably in their registration groups all week so when they check in on the last day they do so knowing at least 8 more names than they did on day one, and they sit with whoever is alphabetically closest to them as they get on the plane. And there they remain, for the whole flight. They do not worry that they wont be able to talk to their neighbour, they chat as if they have been friends for years, or, after a hard week away, they sit in companionable silence, and are happy to read their books or play cards. This is what I love about a flight home, that and a window seat, so I can catch up on my sleep!

None of these changes mentioned above are quantifiable on the proposal we write for Governors 12 months in advance of a trip. These changes in your girls confidence levels and social circle, they can’t be described properly in a debrief to the deputy head on our return to school. They will not be reported in any exam performance booklet which accompanies a school prospectus. They will perhaps however be seen on the faces of the girls in photos. They will perhaps be noticed in the conversations you have had with your daughters this afternoon, as they mention names of girls you don't recognize and as you look through the photos that they took on tour, you’ll see them working with and stood alongside new friends they have made on this trip.   

Where the girls will notice it most is on their return to school tomorrow. As they walk down a corridor and they smile more confidently at that other girl whose name they didn’t even know before they arrived at school at 7am on Tuesday. Or when a tour member of staff, who has led them on this trip, catches them outside a classroom to remind them again of that time at this or that training session or match or evening activity.  I spoke to one girl yesterday and asked her what she loved most about tour. Playing hockey with girls who are not in my normal team, she said, I love getting to know the others. I am not going to lie to you, I started to well up at hearing that! I was anticipating her saying it was the pool and the yellow slide!    

I feel so strongly that a sports tour, ski trip or any residential experience away from school fosters so much more than the obvious results. The netball and hockey coaching by external staff, the interaction with Marist staff they don't really know before we take off, the independence they have learnt from being away from home. At its most simple level the realisation that deadlines must be adhered to, timings must be met, actions have consequences not only for them but for others, rooms must be tidied and beds will be stripped, even if this is something they do not all do at home, and that the most important person in their world (for this week at least) is me! #InJoke

I thought you’d like to know that Miss Blake read last nights blog and messaged me accordingly about Melbourne 2018 at about 4.30am this morning, which was timely given the schedule of today! I told her I’ve already got 4 girls and 2 mums who have expressed interest in any future sports tour we are running, so we are almost at a full netball team and we genuinely haven’t even thought about when or where yet, let along gained governors approval!

I eluded on twitter this morning to how fabulous your girls were at exiting their rooms in stealth mode. The photos I took of their rooms were genuine, and they did leave them in that condition, although if your own daughters room looks anything like that right now you are a better parent than I am! (Sports tops, bikinis, and a whole pile on unworn clothes litter the floor of a certain bedroom in my house!) 

The girls impeccable behaviour on the bus, at the airport and on the plane was second to none. On exiting the plane I was stopped by an elderly couple who had been sat at the front of the plane throughout the journey. They asked me if I was the woman in charge of all of the girls who had just left through the front door. Desperately looking around for another colleague to hang that hat on, I replied that yes I was and I that I hoped every thing was okay. The lady went on to tell me that I should be unbelievably proud of the girls within my care and that she couldn’t believe how well behaved they had been all flight and how happy they appeared to be. Thanking her for her compliments I uttered my standard line of the week, namely that they are brilliant and were all wonderful company, and that, if anything, they are just sometimes a little bit loud that’s all! Her husband laughed at my reply and reminded me quite succinctly … “they are children, they are supposed to be loud and enjoy themselves”! I left the plane with the most wonderful smile on my face and chuckled to myself all the way along the corridor… until I saw the queue at passport control!

14 deep and snaking at a snails pace, I thought this is not going to be fun. Factor in at least 20 of them all needing the loo at this point (aarrgghh!) and once again my barrack style command teaching was required. Getting near on 60 of you through the eye scanning passport machines is not an easy task I can assure you, especially on the day when it appears all of the South East were returning from their holidays! But your girls were patient and courteous and ticked another life skill box as they made it through the scanner with ease and confidence. They will be seasoned travellers by the time they have skied and sports toured a few times with the PE Dept.

The girls are no doubt enjoying being back at home. They are probably quite liking having a room to themselves again. Its hard being away from home and sharing a room. The invariable squabbles that accompany a group of teenage girls living together will have risen their head this week. Disagreements over whose towel was left wet on someone else’s bed, who lost the door key and who didn’t wait for who for breakfast one morning, a phrase taken out of context at the end of a full on day of training, matches and sliding down a yellow slide into a plunge pool. These are also part and parcel of going on tour, and experiencing this sets our daughters up for a life of adult interactions. Decisions don't always go in our favour, they won’t always be the centre of attention, group demands often outweigh individual ones and perhaps the most important one of the week … Bishopp must always be listened to!   

I cannot tell you how much I thoroughly enjoyed my time away with your girls. They are quite simply amazing to spend time with.  They made me laugh each and every day and that in itself was worth all the email sending that came in advance of our departure on Tuesday … and I know I sent a fair few!  

I am still giggling away to myself about the “Dutch” team on Monday, a story I will dine off for a good few weeks yet, but one other snippet that made me laugh was Mrs T today telling me that she has never been chatted up so much by as many over 60s as she has this week … I almost dropped my cup of tea and fell over! 

Thank you so much for entrusting your most precious possessions into our care this week, I hope they have enjoyed it as much as we have. I will take away some fabulous memories of this trip, from cheerleaders, to yellow slides, resounding sporting prowess to purple team international interaction.  I really have enjoyed it so so much, but I was only ever it’s custodian and I will be handing Sports Tours back over to Miss Blake on her return from maternity in June, although … Melbourne 2018… well it just has such a nice ring to it, doesn’t it!!

JB

Day 5

I can’t quite believe that Sports Tour 2016 is over and that the girls are all tucked up in bed, with suitcases packed and only jammies and toothbrushes left to sort in the morning!  Your girls have been nothing short of amazing all week, they truly have. Well behaved, courteous, appreciative, polite and most importantly enthusiastic, keen and full of energy! It has been a truly fabulous trip. 

Training was an extremely intensive affair this morning as temperatures hit 23’c at times and bottles of water were consumed at astounding rates. Of course when you are training its always important to balance hard work and fun and both groups, independent of each other created MaristMemories in the form of the a capella hockey song and the iconic Malta netball shot! Twitter war between Melissa and I was in full swing. 

This afternoon the hockey girls were able to finally enjoy some time on the slide and in the pool as we had a few hours alongside the U13A,14,15 netballers at the hotel. Girls had a great time on the pool slide and I was coerced into getting involved by the Year 8s and the Year 10s and I just loved it! It was just what I needed at the (almost) end of a very busy trip. 

Meanwhile Mrs T Nat and Melissa were back to Kirkop for netball matches for our U12s and U13Bs and, as the photos on twitter suggested, they had a fabulous time both before, during and after the match!  Convincing wins again for Marist Netball and the added bonus of enjoying every minute on court as well!

Hockey players vacated pool side quickly as the big black cloud arrived overhead and we, along side our netballers, were on the coach to Kordine again for our final match vs  White Hart HC. We knew this match was going to be a different standard of play from the previous evening as this fledging club, which only started up its junior section in 2013, could only field a team of U14s and some players were new to the sport . That said we had a great game and the girls had such fun. So much so in fact that at the end of the scheduled 40 minutes we decided to mix the teams up and play purple vs blue. It was brilliant and both Marist and WHHC players enjoyed every minute of the match! The photos posted on twitter showing the excitement on all their faces!

Back to the hotel for dinner and the necessary but slightly dull admin required on the last night of a Sports Tour! Deflating balls, packing of hockey sticks, cleaning of rooms and packing of suitcases all had to be done by 9pm so we could put all luggage in the luggage room downstairs so we could leave like ninjas at 5.30am! I think its fair to say that some residents in the hotel thought we were slightly noisy at this time, but I was quick to point out that moving 65 people and their bags at any time in the day is going to be noisy and we thought it best to  move them at 9pm rather than at 5am. 

By 9pm we were all sat down in the hotel recreation area for our impromptu awards evening. Natalie and JP were invited to give out their awards from training and games this week and the lucky recipients were: Alex, Mads & Tara from hockey with JP and Holly, George, Lucy, Emma, Eloise, Grace, Chips, Samy & Rebecca. 

This awards evening was all about the rewarding the important things that make a sports tour. Most improved, team player, effort … oh and dress sense, scoring and jumping across a third line without going off side!

It was also a time to thank JP Nat and Melissa for all their hard work and effort at training and at matches and the girls were so grateful for all they did to make this week a success!

As always your girls were so kind in arranging a gift for me too. I talked to them all about how I am merely the caretaker for the sports tour. I spoke about how actually this is JBLs baby (well, not her actual baby as we all know who Elena is), and that she will be returning in July to school and from then I will be passing all future communications regarding sports tours to her inbox! That said I have absolutely loved this trip! It has been a thoroughly enjoyable and, dare I say it, successful and I put that down in no small part to the girls themselves and the team of staff we had on tour. 

Whilst I have been the main communication point on emails and social media for this trip, I have been ably supported by a fabulous team of staff and they too have loved spending time with your daughters this week.  All members of TeamBishopp as it was affectionately referred to on twitter this week, were phenomenal & we will all take home fond memories of 6 days well spent in the company of your girls. 

Roll on out trip to the CGW in Melbourne in 2018 I say …. He he he he he … Blake will kill me when she reads this part of the blog!!

Day 4

If I am honest I am not entirely sure where to start with tonight’s blog, so perhaps you will indulge me for a minute at the beginning!

There are so many moments on a tour like this when as a teacher you stand back and look with pride at the girls on the court in front of you. But one of perhaps our proudest moments of the week was today when Mrs T and I stood and watched a former Marist sports scholar and sports captain & a former Marist head girl, coach, umpire, team manage and lead 41 Marist pupils with maturity and confidence well beyond their years. The psychology teacher in me could stand and argue that leadership is an innate skill, inherited and inborn from birth. I could also convincingly argue the case for leadership being a combination of nature and nurture and social learning. 

Watching Natalie and Melissa in action today has been nothing short of a pleasure, and I am sure that the girls themselves will effervesce on their return about the quality of coaching and leadership and umpiring and umpiring tutelage they have got from them both this week!  They are role models you would be delighted to have your own daughters to look up to and they are liked and adored by all the girls on this trip! It really has been a pleasure to see them embrace their roles as coach and team leaders and on reflection, when I grow up I think I want to be able to coach and umpire just like them!  

That said, the quality of performance and effort demonstrated by your own girls has been equally enjoyable to watch and we have had such a full on day it is hard to know what to start writing about first! 

We had a split start this morning with netballers up and dressed and out the door to the Holy Immaculate Conception school for a match at 9am. Hockey players meanwhile had a lie in until 8am when Misses Percy & Player welcomed them down to breakfast and then out to the poolside for some much needed R&R 

Netballers had a busy morning with 3 out of 5 teams playing HI in their extremely well decorated sports hall (watch out Mrs Ellwood I am so getting in touch about a mural or two for BishoppPalace!). We were welcomed at the School by their Sister Superior who made us feel so very much at home and spoke fondly of the Marist Sisters she had met during her time travelling in Europe. 

The girls at HI play a lot of basketball so the games were very physical but evenly matched in terms of endeavour and the U15s, U14s and U13As played some great netball. We were victorious on court and gracious with it, and the PE teacher at the school was so grateful for us for choosing to play against their girls as they loved every second of the games and relished the chance to play netball to such a high level! 

It was wonderful to give our younger umpires the chance to officiate and they stepped up to the challenge well and developed confidence in their voice and whistle skills! 

Netballers then headed to Marsa where Natalie & Melissa delivered a fabulous training session in the sun (and wind)! Girls were literally rolling around the floor in laughter and the older ones particularly enjoyed the fun based coaching after a marathon 2 hours of netball vs HI 

We hot-footed it back to the hotel for lunch and the girls were delighted with Mrs T’s announcement that they could go in the pool at 3pm!

Meanwhile, hockey players had a lovely morning chilling by the pool and joining in a stretching class with the on site entertainment crew. Miss Percy, Ms Player and JP were happy as anything supervising the girls in the sun, and playing uno and reading and tweeting away!  This idyllic time was soon followed by lunch after which I joined them on a trip to Kordine for a 2 hour training session ahead of our match vs Silema Hot Sticks.  JP worked the girls really well, developing both tactical and positional skills ahead of the game later on and they have made such progress!  

JP and the girls then had a 20 minute pre match chat about short corners and timings and rotations whilst Miss Percy and I raided the café for Bounty bars, prawn cocktail crisps and diet coke! It’s a tough job tweeting and photographing and we needed to make sure we were thoroughly fuelled up for the task ahead. We also spent a few minutes replenishing the girls water bottles for them, because we are kind like that!

We were aware in advance that tonight’s match vs SHS was going to be a tough one and the girls were fully prepared for the game. They played some excellent hockey against a team made up largely of boys, and genuinely loved every second of it.  Rotations were slick and fluid and the girls really worked well together given that they haven’t played an 11 a side match together before. Maddie scored a fabulous goal in the second half, Alex saved countless strikes at goal and the final result, which was a secure SHS win, was accepted with smiles and graciousness by our girls! They really did do so well! Miss Blake and Mrs May would have been so so proud of you all. Miss Percy and I certainly were!

Meanwhile we had been kept fully informed of how the girls were getting on at netball by Melissa who had taken over twitter for a few hours this afternoon. Miss Percy and I just loved hearing how sunny and warm the pool area was and how much fun it was on the slide …. NOT!

Netball girls had clearly enjoyed the chance to swim and play water volleyball and sit in the sun and chill ! It was thoroughly deserved after the last few days.  Tweets were great and it genuinely was lovely to see how they were getting on whilst we were at Kordine 

At 5pm it was off to Netball at Milleha for 41 of our girls and, according to all it was a beautiful venue to play at, albeit cold when the sun went down, and the U12s and U13Bs were victorious in their matches tonight! Mrs T was so proud of them all and Miss Knox, who has been with netball all day, had much to share with me on my return to the hotel later on tonight about girls who played well, impressed her and who had stood out on court. 

It was almost 9pm when we finished dinner tonight – a 14 hour day for our girls so we kept the evening entertainment short and sweet with a  “Maltese” Whispers competition in year groups followed by a Blank Canvas task. 

Each registration group was invited to draw their Malta Sports Tour experience on our bespoke (white disposable paper tablecloths) canvases. They were given 10 minutes to construct a pictorial representation of the trip so far. We were joined by a young two year old boy who just stole the show when it came to quality of artwork and he had OJ’s group in absolute fits of hysterics with his contribution to the canvas!

I will post photos of tonight’s activities as soon as I finish this blog. I hope you love our daughter’s canvases as much as I do. It perhaps gives you a small idea of just how much enjoyment they are having here and how much they have got from this trip! 

Tomorrow is a Holy Day in Malta and so we get a lie in, until 7.55am . I am not sure who is more excited about the prospect the staff or the girls! It’s full on however from 8.15 until 6.15pm on our last day here in Malta and we will, as always do our best, to keep you informed of how the girls are doing and the fun they are having! 

Please check twitter for photos and videos of today !

Day 3

It has been such a busy day … it’s probably easiest if I start with getting up and work from there!

The Year 7s who were so keenly up and dressed yesterday by 7am were a little more difficult to wake up this morning, but a good rat a tat tat on the door and a dawn chorus of Wham’s classic 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go'  was all they needed to get them moving on down to breakfast!  All girls were up, fed and dressed for training by 9am our time (as the text I inadvertently sent to the whole school at 8.04am your time described – whoops!) and we headed off to our respective venues for a few hours of quality training!

JP was nothing short of exceptional at Kordina Hockey ground. The girls worked so hard and had such fun that it wasn’t until we got on the coach to leave at 12.30 that I realised that apart from the standard stop for water throughout the session that they hadn’t had a proper break all morning! It’s okay though, as they could always sleep on the bus and lunch was just 30 mins away!  I thoroughly enjoyed watching JP coach and the girls clearly had such a great time too. I do however acquiesce that the viewing was much easier from within the dugout … apparently out on the pitch it was raining and slightly windy. I tried to avoid going onto the pitch if I could, after all I don't like to mess up my hair too much!

The girls worked so well in various different team and age combinations in training that huge progress was made by so many. JP took some of the girls at one end of the pitch for the last 20 mins or so to work on short corners and I was allowed to work with the other half! I had such fun – I really did! Fair enough to say that they learnt loads with me and I look forward to seeing them put all my coaching points into action in tomorrow’s game! I’ve posted a few photos on twitter and videos too from todays coaching session! JBL may struggle to match my standard of coaching when we head off on Sports Tour next time!

Meanwhile as Miss Knox, JP, and I were at Kordina, in the gale force winds,  Mrs T, Nat, Melissa, Ms Player & Miss Percy were at Kirkop at a mass netball training session with 41 Marist girls, indoors, in the warm, with a coffee machine!  Nat had planned a fabulous session (apple doesn’t fall far from the Thompson tree so to speak) and a couple of girls were heard to say “she is making us do satellite drills … aarrgghhh!”   The groups worked so hard and did so well, and Nat & Melissa could not have asked for more from them! Sweaty, tired and challenged are just three words I could use to describe them! Hungry is another!

We all met back at the hotel for lunch and it was a biblical scene of locusts and harvests! Never have I seen 57 girls eat so much so swiftly! The food once again was great and the girls devoured it!

After lunch we had few hours of down time (as such!) planned and with the weather being a little less than ideal, and the pool being only just above frigid, I thought we might take a walk along St Pauls Bay and down to Qwara!  I remember it only being a 20-25 minute walk in 2012 but it appears it’s a little further in 2016! 40 minutes it took us to walk along the costal path and past the aquarium and along the parade of shops. Mrs T was gasping for a coffee by the time we eventually got there! I don't think it helped that on the way there were a few photostops and I just love the Marist shot of all of the girls with their backs to us! I have to say it took a while to stage and take, but a twitter header photo is a twitter header photo and as I keep reminding the girls, it’s not about them, it’s about me! The girls kindly took a staff photo too – which took an age as well!

Qwara had a full compliment of ice cream shops and tat shops (as in shopping tat, not tattoo tat!) and the girls loved it! We were a little bit pressed for time on the return walk (our bus was due at 430pm!) but Miss Knox was a legend at leading from the front and we were back to the hotel in a matter of 15 minutes, although we were very hot & sweaty on our return! 

We boarded the buses in year groups, 7 & 10 on one bus, 8 & 9 on the other and we headed to Kirkop for what we had planned as two matches for our U15 and U14 / U13 teams. But my philosophy has always been if you don't ask you don’t get … so we asked for a few extra games, and we got them! 

Our opposition, local netball club AA Netball were amazing hosts and with a little bit of negotiating, and a double sports hall to play in, ( I WANT ONE OF THOSE!) we managed to sneak in 6 matches vs their U15, 1sts and 2nd teams … and it was brilliant … I mean really brilliant!  All netball girls got to play tonight and it was a fantastic evening of netball! Mrs T, Nat and Melissa worked their magic on team placement and opposition and although we didn’t always fall within official age groups, the main thing is the girls all had such fun, and all got court time! Given that we weren’t anticipating playing our U12s or U13bs this evening at all, we did really well indeed!

We were particularly pleased with the quality of our matches vs the AA’s 1st and 2nd teams which far exceed the expectations of the evening and your daughters did you all so proud!  Videos will be posted as soon as I finish this blog!  A quick but silent (in part!) bus trip back to the hotel and it was time to feed them all again!  There was no time for evening entertainment tonight! We left dinner at 9pm and it was straight up for a shower before bed for all of us! 

The hockey girls having been taken to two netball sessions so far this week, have a well deserved relaxing morning at the hotel tomorrow and a lie in until 8.30am. They remain on site here with Miss Percy, Miss Player and JP until around 2pm. They then head off for 3 hours training before a game vs Silema Hotsticks at Kordina late that evening. 

Netballers however, are up at 6.50am on the bus by 7.50am for a game for 2 teams vs Holy Immaculate Conception School at 9am and then a training session at 11 for all. They get a few hours of chill time tomorrow afternoon before a game for our other 3 teams later that evening.

I will be with the netballers in the morning and the hockey girls in the afternoon, (still struggling to perfect the whole bi-location thing) and will keep you as updated as I can throughout the day via twitter!  Please bear with me if the feed isn’t constant, every now and then a 58th Marist girl needs to stop and eat too! 

Your girls are having a fabulous time, a really fabulous time and they are, as always, a pleasure to spend time with!

Day 2

When I grow up, I want to work in social media!  As all of my friends and family will tell you I have wanted to teach PE since I was eight, but just recently I think my future career, my real real job, for when I grow up, will be as a serial tweeter!

Its almost 10.30pm here in Malta and I am still chuckling to myself about the “Dutch” match from this morning! Firmly believing we were playing some foreign team I approached the court in full Marist PE kit fully expecting to struggle slightly with the explanation of standards of teams and organisation of matches, only to be met by two PE staff from London! Clearly much had been lost in translation between our local fixture agencies who had kindly sorted things for us! Nevertheless it has provided such an amusing anecdote for the tour so far, and even as I type I am still giggling at the situation! 

We have had an amazing day! I think it’s fair that when I stepped on to the coach to the hotel yesterday afternoon I was gutted to be told that our boat cruise around Comino & Gozo had been cancelled due to bad weather, but on reflection Activ4 made the absolutely right decision. Their short notice planning for today was second to none and we have had such fun! 

Since the moment we woke them up at 7.30am, the girls have been fab!  There were a couple of rooms who were up and dressed ready to go at 7.30am and that was wonderful! The Year 9s and 10s however, took a little longer to answer and their rooms were pitch black when i forcefully opened the curtains and started singing “Morning has broken” at the top of my voice!  They didn’t actually say that they liked my style of wake up, but I took the disgruntled hiding of their heads under the pillow as a sign of appreciation and affection!

Breakfast was as impressive as dinner and the range of food on offer here is astounding. At every meal girls are devouring their own body weight in quality fruit, meat, veg, rice, salad, oh and ice cream, and chips, and chocolate spread, and croissants, and chips and ice cream! They are courteous and respectful to other guests and are a credit to you all!

The day was full of impressive events actually not least with the arrival of our bus to take us to training at Marsa! Excitement levels rose and whooping galore was heard when the open top red sightseeing bus pulled up outside … the girls were also impressed too! Marist Road Trip 2016 … oh it was such fun!

We had, as you are aware if you read yesterday’s blog, an impromptu match vs a Dutch school which if you’ve seen twitter, turned out to be Holland Park and as one would expect of 41 Marist netballers, we performed exceptionally on court.  Mrs T is working her magic with team selection and organisation and I feel all that she is missing is one of those light up switching green/red number boards that they have at football matches when a substitution is happening. We played for over an hour and a half against Holland Park this morning and all 5 teams of 41 girls got a good solid 2 or 3 quarters of a game. We also managed a few quarters against each other as well which was good to see and enjoyable to critique! 

Girls were also lucky enough to get an ice cream from the local Mr Whippy van too which kept the hockey players happy as they sat and watched their friends play. #HappyDays as someone we all know and love would say!

At 12 we were picked up once again by our bus and taken to Valetta harbour. A short delay was had as we awaited the arrival of our boat, but once we were on board we had such an amazing trip around the harbour! Girls devoured the lunch on offer and the drinks at the servery as well and were content as anything lying on the ships deck drinking and eating and chatting and napping and singing and rocking … it was choppy even in the harbour!

Following our lovely little cruise, and the 10th selfie by Miss Percy, we headed back to our bus and back to our hotel. Some girls were brave enough to jump in and enjoy the temperature of the saltwater pool, others, mainly those of us over the age of 15, were happy to sit on pool side, take photos and watch! A number of other girls took the opportunity to chill in their rooms and enjoy each others company as they prepared their outfits for Malta Night!

As is customary on theme night, girls are invited to come dressed in any traditional national dress or adopt the colours of the nation! This year was no exception, although it was so much easier staff wise than Verona when we needed togas & laurels!  Miss Knox was sent for a quick walk down the road to Astra’s Boutique where we managed to purchase a set of quality clothing merchandise (t shirts!) which will serve us well as gym or jammie tops over the upcoming years!  Girls worked equally as hard on their outfits and looked as fabulous as the photos on twitter suggest 

They have had a fab evening enjoying the games and activities that Mrs T planned out for them! Everyone loves Mrs T!

Highlights of the evening are many and can be seen on twitter, not least the arrival of our Year 10 cheerleaders – inspired idea Mrs G – and also the costume choice of 5 of our intrepid year 7s  - loved them both! 

As it edged towards 8.45pm energy levels were obviously dipping and so once again we had no objection to a 9.30pm bed time decree. The girls have been checked into their rooms & reminded once again to wash their faces carefully before climbing onto the pure white hotel bed sheets. Breakfast is at 7.45am tomorrow and some rooms are not looking forward to the 7.25am wake up call!

Tomorrow is another full on day. Training for both sports in the morning followed by lunch and then a couple of netball matches. We will of course keep you updated via twitter on how we are getting on – just bear with me as I can't be in two places at once tomorrow so there may be a delay in tweets!  

I said as much in the clarion text this evening – your girls are just amazing! We are thoroughly enjoying their company and are happy as anything to continue being #MaristMemoryMakers

DAY 1

The thing is, travelling with 57 Marist girls, you kind of forget how noisy they can be! I mean it’s the excited type of noise, the noise of happy children who are enjoying themselves to the full, but none the less it is still noise! That type of noise that really rings in your ear kind of noise. I am sure most of you know what I mean by this!  Noise aside … your girls have been fabulous! All day! I really do mean it! They have been an absolute pleasure to accompany … across all 2000km!

The early drop off this morning was perhaps the wisest decision I made all Easter break! Air Malta brought forward our check in time when we arrived at Gatwick and although we did have time to all grab a meal deal from WHSmith , Pret a Manger or in some cases Wagamamas, the military paced march from passport control to departure gate was full on, although as sportswomen each and every one of us, we appreciated the extra opportunity to work on our stamina!

Corralling 57 teenage girls through an airport is not an easy a task as it appears, but your girls made it a lot less hard work than it could have been and for that I am eternally grateful. Attentive and well behaved, polite and focused are just a few words that were used by airline staff and other passengers to describe their behaviour during the trip over… that and Loud! Like really loud! But when girls are excited and smiling and laughing and listening to all we have to say … we will let them off the few extra decibels!  

We arrived safely in Malta and the beauty of our hotel is it is only 30 minutes from the airport! A quick manoeuvring of suitcases, unloading of kit bags and balls and bibs and face masks (hockey not cucumber and mint – Knoxy has yet to make it to the spa!) cones and sticks and whistles and we were all ready for a practice fire drill and, more importantly in the girls minds, dinner!

Since we were last here in 2012 the hotel has undergone a fabulous refit and the restaurant is amazing. The food is amazing. The service is amazing. The puddings, I mean the views across the bay, are amazing and your girls have eaten to the full this evening! The range of food on offer is astounding and whilst I did let them eat chips and chicken nuggets tonight if they wanted, rest assured I will work on their culinary taste buds tomorrow night!  

It is fair to say that after an early morning start, a 2000km journey across Europe and me asking countless times when I require quiet “who is the most important person in the world right now?” that  the girls and staff are shattered and after a quick trip out to the pool to check out the beautiful view of the bay, we encountered little resistance for a 9pm bedtime decree.  (ps in case you are wondering the standard answer to the above question is, of course, “you are Mrs Bishopp”!) 

Tomorrow is the real start of our tour and our original itinerary for day one was a 6 hour boat cruise around Comino and Gozo but unfortunately, due to a dire weather forecast, Plan B now needs to be put in place.  

We will instead have an additional netball match vs a visiting Dutch school in the morning at Marsa, followed by a 2 hour harbour boat cruise around Valetta around lunchtime before heading back to the hotel around 5pm. 

Activ4 have clearly worked very hard to ensure that the girls enjoy their trip, and that staff do too. I don't think anyone much relished the idea of 65 of us on an open topped boat cruise in the rain around the Blue Lagoon.  We will of course keep you up to date on all we do tomorrow via twitter and clarion.   Bear with me as I establish the best method to keep in touch tomorrow and keep your tweets and messages coming. 

I show them to the girls as soon as I can and they love it!

JB (on behalf of KT DP CK MP ND MPE)

Pre-Tour

Last minute countdown.......

  • Passport and EHIC - if you have not already handed these in
  • Any medication that you prefer
  • Sports kit for training and matches
  • Casual clothes
  • PJ's, swim wear, sun cream etc