Friday, 17 February 2017
Thursday, 16 February 2017
Wednesday, 15 February 2017
We departed Mont Saint Anne early this morning as a heavy snow storm rolled in covering the mountain in a ghostly mist creating a dramatic scene for our departure. After a fairly uneventful journey, we arrived at the beautiful city of Toronto. Our journey into the city allowed us to see a fantastic panorama of the skyscrapers and iconic Lake Ontario which excited the pupils, many who have never seen a sight quite like it. After dinner, we decided to take a bracing walk to the CN Tower, currently the ninth tallest building in the world. The two kilometre walk, through the streets of Toronto, allowed us to see the city's fantastic architecture and culture. The tower itself was an extraordinary feat of engineering and the pupils were in awe of the views at the top. The highlight was undoubtedly the glass floor, allowing the pupils to float 447 metres above the ground. So another hectic and tiring day comes to and end. Tomorrow is our final day, seeing us visit another icon of North America: Niagara Falls. Everyone is very excited but also looking forward to getting home as I keep overhearing how much loved ones at home are being missed.
Full blog will be published later but we've arrived safely in Toronto and checked into the hotel. We've got a quick turn around before dinner and then off to the CN Tower tonight. Finally, Wifi is quite expensive here at the hotel so please don't worry if you child can't get in touch.
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Today was the final day on the stunning slopes of Mont Saint Anne and everyone was keen to impress one final time. Once again, conditions were excellent and lovely large snow flakes floated down onto the mountain for most of the day. The groups were now becoming harder to find on the mountain due to their increased speed and ability meaning they are either flying through forests or disappearing down blue runs. However, whenever we did manage to find them they were always in great spirits and enjoying themselves thoroughly. One such example was Dennis' school which consisted of George Currie, Max Gillies, Taylor Lloyd, Owen Connor, Freya Hughes, Poppy Bermingham-Byrne, Kate Jackson, Amy Jenkins, Joe Donnelly and Leo Halewood who I found at the top of the mountain. Another group that I managed to catch up with was Sylvie's group, who needed a little bit of encouragement to get up to the top of the mountain but the reason for this was beyond me as they showed great agility when descending down a difficult slope. The group which included birthday girl Ria-Lea Davies, Molly Cashen, and Amelia Weedall don't really need to worry as it is clear they have done fantastically well this week. Unfortunately, not everyone has been able to completely master the art of skiing this week but a special mention should go to Sarah-Jane Riley, who after taking a fall on the first day, has struggled with her confidence. However, her determination and resilience to keep on going has been admirable and she should be very proud of herself. Finally, we did have to wait a little longer for one final group to arrive back this afternoon. The team of Ella Armstrong, Luke Dawson, Charlie Banks, Patrick McDonald, Megan Grierson, Emily Conlan and Callum O'Brien had been transformed into reindeer on the final run. Either that or they'd crashed into a number of trees as they all had branches protruding from their helmets. The day concluded with the groups presenting their instructors with the priceless memento of a Holy Family bobble hat. It was a lovely moment with many of the instructors having gotten gifts for their groups as well. The instructors of the ski schools have been fantastic and I know the kids will be tremendously grateful for their wise teachings. The instructors had only wonderful things to say about their groups as well. The evening activity was the eagerly anticipated ice hockey game so after dinner it was once again into the yellow buses and onwards towards Quebec City. We arrived at the Centre Videotron just in time for the start of the Quebec Remparts against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Most of the pupils decided to support the Screaming Eagles on the strength of their much more exciting name. They didn't leave disappointed as the Screaming Eagles were victorious by 5 goals to Quebec's 2 in an extremely exciting game that was a fast paced, end to end thriller. There was even a fight! So that concludes our time in Quebec. Tomorrow, we travel to Toronto and will explore the city and reach the top of the CN Tower. L
Monday, 13 February 2017
After last night's snow, conditions today were absolutely sensational for the enthusiastic Holy Family skiers and we have had a perfect day of skiing. Many of the groups are continuing to flourish and their eagerness to improve further is visible to all. Initially, the pupils were slightly apprehensive as we stepped out this morning into a swirling tornado of snow that danced all around the pupils as we ventured to the usual meeting spot. Fortunately, this was a man made hazard created by a gentleman using a high powered machine to cut paths through the 11cm of snow. With the students anxiousness having disappeared, the schools quickly departed eager to be the first to cut their own path through the fresh covering of snow. The groups are continuing to excel. Early this morning, I was struggling to keep up with the very impressive school of Joseph Mepham, Joel Cousins, Amy Darnbrook, Olivia Shannon-Byrne and Harry Bond. The group showed great ability moving quickly down the mountain and they had soon vanished over the horizon, hurtling down a blue run. Conditions in the afternoon reached perfection as the clouds parted and the mountain was bathed in glorious sunshine with temperatures reaching a scorching minus 7. As the pupils are now showing more confidence it means they tackle the slopes at a higher speed which results in more opportunities to go up and down the mountain. The more advanced group of Tess Bennett, Cerys Hughes, Ethan Lancaster and Zac Hayes are even completing jumps. This brings me onto possibly one of my favourite moments of the trip so far: I watched Mr Thorp attempt a jump. Unfortunately for him, but to everyone else's delight, he crashed into a tree upon landing. Tonight has been an opportunity for a well earned rest including a chance for a swim and to show off some other sporting skills in the games room. Tomorrow is our final day on the slopes and with the black runs in sight for some groups, it will round off an excellent week of skiing. Daniel Wilde: photo bomber extraordinaire!
Sunday, 12 February 2017
With a day full of headline grabbing news I am a little at a loss as to where to start. Firstly, I am pleased to report that today has seen every single one of the group reach the top of the mountain in one way or another. Secondly, Daniel Wilde and Harry Bond have reached super stardom through their extraordinary spoon playing ability and finally, Holy Family's entry in the Canadian Sugar Shack Dance Off failed to impress the judges and they will not be going through to the next round. The day, as always, started with a hearty breakfast before a prompt 9:30 start on the slopes. Temperatures soared to a positively balmy minus 10 and we were constantly accompanied by some steady snowfall throughout, but conditions were excellent. While some of those still getting to grips remained on the beginner slopes in the morning, a number of groups raced to the gondolas to reach the peak of Mount St Anne. I have tried to take a few pictures from the top but I'm afraid they don't quite do the simply breathtaking view of the province of Quebec justice. The frozen lakes, rivers and snow covered fields that stretch for miles is a memory that I am sure will live with the pupils for years to come. In the afternoon, the beginner slopes were bare of Holy Family skiers as everyone took a trip to the top. The group that caught my eye today was Donna's school, which included Callum Moran, Joe Jones, Eve Stack, Maddison Stitchcomb, Alisha Williams, Daniel Wilde, Lucy McBride and Tom Williams. They impressed me with their great skill and control as they snaked down a challenging green run in perfect formation. After a day filled with snow our evening was filled with sugar. Once again we climbed into the yellow buses and headed to the Sugar Shack. When we arrived, we received an engrossing talk explaining how the company harvest their maple syrup before sitting down to a delicious maple syrup themed meal. The ham, baked beans, potatoes, frankfurters and a starter of soup, most of which had some syrup within the recipe, were a delight and sampled by many of the pupils. The dessert was the big hit though as piles of pancakes were brought out to be accompanied by more maple syrup. After dinner we were entertained by some Canadian folk artists who were joined by Daniel Wilde and Harry Bond playing the spoons flawlessly to their rhythm. Then, a great number of pupils and Mr Kinsella joined in with a traditional dance and although the coordination that we've seen on the slopes didn't feature on the dance floor, everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable time. The evening concluded with the pupils creating their very own famous maple taffy which required them to roll up maple syrup on a stick as it is poured into ice trays and freezes. Everyone enjoyed the intensely sugary treat, which although would make a dentist cringe in horror, was a wonderfully unique experience for all. It was quiet journey home as, despite the high sugar intake, most pupils fell asleep, worn out from another jam packed day. The journey was made more adventurous by receiving an escort of snow plows taking us through the frozen streets of Quebec as the forecasted blizzard hit. Ten to fifteen centimetres of fresh snow swirled and fell from the heavens as we drove home with the snoozing passengers oblivious to the magical scene all around them. Tomorrow promises to be another great day, with a fresh covering of snow, and hopefully more groups taking on some more challenging downhill slopes. Mr Thorp really isn't a fan of snowboarders! .
Saturday, 11 February 2017
This morning, we awoke to a rather gloomy and miserable scene with a covering of grey clouds extending far across the horizon. However, this was possibly the only negative to what has been a brilliant day. It all started at breakfast as there was an extra offering this morning that roused a great sense of excitement: waffles and genuine Canadian maple syrup! After everyone had filled themselves to the brim, we prepared to head out to the Valcartier Winter Park. Excitement grew as we stepped outside and straight into to our first sprinkling of snow. The excitement continued to grow when our coaches arrived in the form of the iconic yellow school buses seen all across North America. I don't think there would have been as many selfies and photos taken had Justin Bieber himself walked into the hotel lobby. The Winter Park itself, which contained a collection of snow slides, had something for everyone and the screams of Mr Kinsella, as he hurtled down 'Mount Everest', could be heard for miles around. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed throwing themselves down the snow covered shoots in inflatable rubber rings but it was soon time to head back to the mountain for an afternoon and evening of skiing. We arrived just as the sun began to peek through the clouds and shortly afterwards we were once again skiing under a bright blue sky. More and more of the ski schools are heading away from the beginner slopes now, with Mona's school doing particularly well. The group consisting of Libby Edwards, Libby Yool, Imogen Lyons, Rebecca Miller, Lisa Duckworth, Alex Lundon, Jacob Whittingham, Charlotte Foulkes, Holly Jones and Enya Williams all showed great skill navigating their way down some challenging slopes on both green and blue runs. They were also greatly amused to see Mr Williams crash into a tree. This evening, we also had the unique experience of night skiing. Hurtling down the slopes under the floodlights and twinkling stars for company, the whole group continue to make great progress. It's great to see some of those, who yesterday were lacking a little confidence, really thriving today. Keira Amis and Jessica Quinn are now doing really, conquering the more challenging of the beginner slopes. Others have flourished further and are quickly reaching a position to move onto the mountain: Victoria Fenner and Rhys Sharp to name just two. Tomorrow, we have a full day of skiing starting at nine thirty before the eagerly anticipated Sugar Shacking in the evening. P.S. I just want to apologise for the lack of paragraphs. Unfortunately, when I upload the blog it removes those that I have put in.
Friday, 10 February 2017
Our first day on the slopes was accompanied by a picture perfect setting. A bright blue sky barely blemished by a cloud, only added to the buzz that hummed in the breakfast room, as we fuelled up on a plethora of appetising offerings. No one seemed bothered by the -21 degree temperature. The first morning is always a slow start due to the lengthy process of collecting all the necessary equipment from the rental shop, but soon we hit the slopes. The more able skiers raced off to conquer the different green, blue and black runs while those who required some ski education enrolled in the resort's ski schools. It was suggested that maybe Mr Thorp should have reconsidered his decision not to have a refresher course, as trying to show off just how quickly he could go, he accomplished a green run by sliding down 50% of it on his backside. Progress was quick within a number of the classes and after lunch a group of pupils were tacking some of the mountain runs under the tutor's supervision and a tagging along Mr Kinsella. In addition, many of the pupils were becoming a lot more independent on the beginner slopes, Peter Walker one who took to the slopes like a duck to water. There was as well, much to Mr Thorp's disgust, the first ever Holy Family Snowboarding School. Teacher Joe was extremely impressed with the intrepid four who were 'boarding' and, although every time I saw them they were sat on their bottoms, Owain Hughes, Robert Gillespie and Leon Caldwell did absolutely brilliantly. Even Mr Barlow seemed to be getting the hang of 'shredding the slopes'. Finally, it is always good to mention that despite some fantastic crashes there were no injuries. In fact, the resilience of the kids has been brilliant! Every single person dusting themselves down, getting up and getting on with it. Even when Stanley Seddon-Roberts decided the best way to stop would be to slide tackle an enormous snow drift, he rose with a huge grin on his face. Tomorrow promises to be an equally exciting day, with a trip to a snow park filled with frozen slides before an evening of night skiing. I will also be adding some photos to the blog but technical issues have prevented this so far.