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Spain for Project Week?

Sam Ridgway, Director of Learn & Experience International Camps, came in to chat to pupils and parents of Years 5-7 about the exciting adventures that will be on offer on the Spain 2015 Project Week trip. If you have any questions, or to register your interest, please email Señora Dewar, rdewar@fsmschool.com

Posted on:23/10/2014

The Normandy Blog

Day 1

 After getting out of bed at 5:00 we walked in the pitch black to the bus with our luggage.  About an hour later we arrived at the ferry and had a big climb up the stairs to the deck and met our guide you took us to the lounge area.  We explored the whole ferry but the best bit was the top deck because it was sososososo windy.  After we left England we could see the storms but we were in sunshine!!

FSM in Normandy We got off the ferry after six hours and got back on the coach for about an hour until we reached the hotel , ‘Le Home du Cotentin’, which is next to the FSM in Normandybeach. After dumping our bags in the room, we ran off to the beach.

 In the evening sunshine, we played lots of games and lots of people got wet in the surf. When we returned to the hotel for a shower and then a Norman French dinner of un Gratin Normand et fromage blanc.  It had baked Camembert cheese on top!FSM in Normandy

 Now we are writing our journals and then off to bed.

 By James and Hans

PS....the hotel does not appear to have wifi so I have snatched a moment at the activity centre. I will do my best but it is proving a challenge to get something on every day. JC

The beds are quite short and may not have been designed for adults. We did find the key to unlock the windows as the boys room smell a bit like puppy litter.
Despite this, we struggled awake and the hotel Home du Cotentintin was quiet… eerily quiet. It was moving and lively again just before eight when we were due downstairs for breakfast.FSM Bread Making in Normandy

Sam’s Blog
“Slept really well. Nobody woke me up in the night. Saw Charlie Shannon first thing, and got ready with a shower. Breakfast: had baguette, cereal with chocolate, and cocao, and orange juice.
 Best thing of the day was archery. We made bread too and we got our bread Le Chateau in Normandyback before we left. It was really good. Mine was in the shape of a doughnut.
The chateau was filled animals left to run free. I could see seven wild rabbits but Tango, our French guide, said there were 1500! There were chickens, doves, pigeons and  a pig. I think it was a pot bellied pig. Learned the French word for flour, salt and yeast which we used to make the bread.

Lunch was a sandwich with cheese, tomato and salad.”archery at the chateau

We woke up really early. and went down for breakfast, cereal, juice and baguette.
Then got ready and went in the bus to the Chateau and looked around. It was really nice with many rabbits. Then we made bread which was really fun. We ate lunch more baguette, fruit and water then some free time and we did orienteering to walk around. We did archery and a competition for points, then took the bus home.
Tanguy left and we got Paul. Took the bus home and had dinner, salad and pizza and tart au pommes and then we went down to work on our journals.

MondayHistory Day on Normandy

Today we got up at 7.30and went down for breakfast and had hot choc and cereal. Then we went off to Arromanches where the concrete boxes also know as Mulberries were used to form a harbour so the ships could send  off the tanks and jeeps. We went to the 360 degrees cinema where it explained the story of th WW2 in pictures. (Some of us felt very sad).  After that we went shopping in the town and I bought a crepes!crepe with nutella. It was amazing.
We drove to Juno Beach which is where the 14,000 Canadians  landed on D Day. We took a little quiz in the museum which was interesting. I learned that one of the most important facts of the war was D-Day.

Today another early start at 0730 (I am not an early morning person, late nights yes…)We had an nice breakfast of cereals mixed with chocolate. We got on the bus and it was a one hour 45 mins trip to Arromanches which was the Normandy beach where we went to see a small museum which had three a 360 degrees which was depressing about the 2nd world war.
I got  fabulous beret in the shop for the French Theme dinner at the hotel.
We walked down to town and we got into groups and went shopping for sweets  and drinks (Haribo Frangtastics).
We got home. went to the beach and I drew in the sand. Dinner was snails and I ate one!
We also had Poulet Pays d’Auge which I adored with frites, and nice pudding.... chocolate swirly stuff.
There is going to be a quiz and Polo music on guitar now so good night.

evening at the beach






 Day 4


Milenka and Ingrid


FSM at the marketFirst we went to a market and it was really raining and it was so windy we almost got blown away. (It was moist, to say the least!) We had to find lots of things about the types of shops and products.  We had to shelter from the weather so our journals didn’t get wet.  When we FSM at Mont St Michelfinished, we went in groups to shop.  The girls bought necklaces and  we found a hot frites shop so we all bought hot food!


We had lunch in a sheep field in the wind but we could see the Mont St Michel from the picnic area. It was cocococold!  As we drove closer, we could see it more clearly and the sun came out.  We parked and then look a little bus closer but we had to walk through the wind to the Mont. Paul showed us around the ramparts and there was the most amazing view. He told us lots of stories like how to escape from quick sand if you walk across the baye de Mont.  We saw the Abbey and we had to be quiet (it was a little boring!).  We were allowed to go in groups to visit the long street filled with souvenir shops and food!


Tonight we had fancy dress for French type clothes and now we are going to have a disco.

Day 5

Today was the 'squeeze-the-genie-back-in-the-bottle-day'. Could we reunite 23 children and all their belongings, feed them and get them on the bus ready for the day? Of course we could!  WHow Fresh is this Milk?e breakfasted on hot croissants and gallons of hot chocolate before loading the coach for the trip home. 

We had two stops along the way; the first was the local supermarket so we could investigate how food and products differ in France. Amazingly, sweets look the same.  Then we dropped in to visit a local goat farmer and this, the children loved.  We Can We Keep Him?learned all about goats (nannies and billies), how the cheese is made and goats cared for (all in French, of course). The best bit was the hands on experience. We could feed them, brush them, stroke them, milk them and taste their delicious cheese (some were fans, some not but everyone had a taste).

Now the children are enjoying a limbo competition and a dance before dinner on the ferry home. We have a gang of slightly smelly, slighty exhausted but very happy children.  Thanks to Mr Boyington for organising such a wonderful adventure en France. There are lots of pictures here to give you a flavour!

The gang en route home

Posted on:19/10/2014

The Snowdonia Blog

Day 1 - Sunday 19th October

Somes things never change and the geography and science field trip is no exception. We left Fordingbridge in glorious sunshine and arrived to the low cloud, mist and rain that we have become accustomed to here in the top north west corner of Wales.

The geography started as soon as we started driving through the mountains of Snowdonia. Cries of waterfall, scree, vertical erosion, glaciated valley were heard throughout the coach.

Those cries were soon replaced by horror as those with heads in iPads suddenly realised that their precious phone signal had disappeared. Up here it really is like being on The Dark Side of the Moon.

We arrived at Plas Gwynant and having had a hearty meal were told that our ort measured 1.6kg. Something we need to reduce and improve upon during our stay. Will keep you posted on our efforts.

Later our waterproof kit was issued and we are now ready for the adventures that await us this week.


Day 2 - Monday 20th October

Our first proper day in Snowdonia saw the groups heading off for their river study, and new this year, some scientific investigations on the canoeing and abseiling activities.

One doesn’t expect to find other geographers in the foothills of Snowdon first thing on a Monday morning in October, but there they were!  Incomers from Bedfordshire!  Thus our data collection on the Afon Glaslyn began in the middle course, rather than in the upper, which put us straight into some reasonably fast flowing water.  Not surprisingly we quickly filled our boots!  With ranging poles and dog biscuits we set about measuring the cross section and velocity at three locations as it meanders down the mountain. Wondering about the dog biscuits?  These are the environmentally-friendly answer to the cork ... all I can say is that the canines of Porthmadog will be well fed tonight.

On Llyn Padarn, we paddled out on a voyage of scientific discovery, the objective to find out how the water temperature varied across the lake in different depths of water. With various thoughts and hypotheses, including our own porridge theory, put forward on shore, the group launched their canoes onto the lake. Armed with a data logger that recorded water temperature at varying depths, we paddled rafted canoes across the lake. A few enthusiastic scientists wanted to verify the temperature sensors’ accuracy by sampling the water temperatures more directly!

Abseiling saw them climb up to Eagle Rock and take on the challenge of abseiling 20 metres down the cliff face. There were nervous faces, some tears, and those wondering whether this was A Momentary Lapse of Reason. All conquered their fears and successfully made the drop. Each time strapped to their backs was a heart rate monitor to record their pulse rate as they stepped off the edge. There will be some interesting graphs to view when the data is downloaded onto the computer. Several students looked very cool at the top and had a lot to say but the heart rate monitor showed a less relaxed disposition with a pulse rate of around 200 beats a minute (resting pulse rate is about 60 beats a minute).

Tonight back at the centre we are studying with interest the approach of the remains of Hurricane Gonzalo hurtling in from across the Atlantic. It is looking like it will be an interesting day tomorrow...


Day 3 - Tuesday 21st October

The remains of Gonzalo passed through overnight and left us looking forward to a day filled with gales and heavy showers.

Undeterred, the geographers amongst us headed out for a second time to investigate the river which, with the rainfall overnight, was of epic proportions.

Layers loaded, we piled into the minibuses and set out for site 1 at the source of the Afon Glaswyn. The teams measured both the cross section and depth before following the river downstream on the old road down the valley. That in itself was an adventure, fitting as site 2 was alongside a pipeline that had starred in a James Bond movie. The Glaswyn was lively but the children set about with more efficiency and managed to record their data before scampering back to the buses before the notorious Snowdonia weather kicked in with a horrendous hail storm. It was tough to endure but was sweet to recall over a well deserved lunch. Site 3 was pumping after the heavy precipitation, but under our instructor’s guidance, we got the job done. Our final velocity measurements were taken by the highly technical Geographical technique called ‘Pooh sticks’. It was a fun way to finish before we slopped our way back to base to thaw out and crack on with our cross sections graphs with a real buzz and excitement.

Yesterday’s geographers today had their day of activities with abseiling, gorge climbing and a mountain adventure all undertaken by the various groups.

One group headed off to Afon Goch to tackle the gorge climb. Looking across the lake to the river tumbling down the mountain, Jeff our instructor, turned the bus round and headed back to the centre to collect some lifejackets. There was a lot of water!

Scrambling under a bridge at the start of the climb, it didn’t then take long before we had all exceeded maximum welly depth! With water-filled boots and cold fingers clinging to rocks to steady us, it seemed like it was The Never Ending River cascading down upon us. With lots of encouragement coming from their fellow team members, everyone slipped, stumbled, and eventually scrambled up some challenging sections. At the top of our climb we paused to have a photo sitting in the plunge pool beneath a waterfall. By that stage everyone was wet enough it didn’t really matter! On the walk down off the mountain our Spanish student Olivia, reported that she had a whole river flowing in her boots. And from the amount of water being poured out of boots, I can well believe her!

After lunch, and a chance to dry out, this group were sent off on their own mountain adventure. Dropped off in a remote car park just outside Beddgelert, the team navigated their way through the mountains back to Llyn Dinas. A first for these field trips, they set off clutching a map, compass and a packet of biscuits. The view ahead of them was a bleak rock strewn valley, made worse by the occasional hail shower, and strong gusts of wind swirling around them. The team reached the ridge at the top of the valley and rewarded themselves with their biscuits. Descending down the other side to the lake they paused momentarily to administer some first aid, before completing their adventure by the lake.

(Unbeknown, instructor Oscar and Mr Albury were following close behind, just to keep a distant eye, who could occasionally be seen diving for cover in the heather to avoid detection. Not an easy feat when dressed head to toe in red; we need to work on our camouflage for next year!)

Meanwhile the other group spent the morning on the now windswept Eagle Rock for an abseil. At the base of the abseil cliff face the pupils asked “how high was the abseil?” Dan the instructor said “only 20 metres”.  They looked up and the silence that followed was significant. Many predictions were made about the changes to their pulse rates and an interesting discussion about the action of adrenalin, the “fight or flight” hormone. Having all measured our baseline resting pulse rates, Evie was connected to the datalogger. Before you could blink Evie had descended at speed with an extremely large smile across her face and then shot back up to the top to start again. Everybody loved the views, hot drink and three minutes of sunshine before the cold wind gusts made us all huddle down for cover.        

The afternoon saw them now take on the challenge of the gorge climb. Super teamwork and care for each other impressed the instructor. After a lot of scrambling, like Animals, and several unintentional spells sitting in water we reached the penultimate pool and were promised that we could return for a “swim”. Finally Dan and Mr James climbed the last 10 metre rock face, mostly through a waterfall, to decide on the practicality of getting the group up there safely. Dan guided everybody up individually towards Mr James who was positioned near the top, to cover any final slips/climbs/stumbles out of the waterfall. Last but not least we descended to the pool for swimming which started out as paddling until Mr James jumped in and sat under the waterfall. This spurred Bertie, and most of the rest of the group, into action as they transformed into sub aquanauts in Wales in the glorious month of October. Got to say it was something of a relief (certainly for the adults) to get back into a warm minibus!


The Final Cut

Where to start…so much to say?  But I will leave some for the children to tell themselves.

We left Fordingbridge in bright sunshine and arrived in Snowdonia in mist and rain, surrounded by wonderful Autumnal colours and beautiful mountain landscapes.  Our time at Plas Gwynant flew by as we packed every available moment with activities and adventure.

The aims of the trip were

  1.  To collect data to allow the children to answer the question “Is the cross section and velocity of a river the same from its source to its mouth?”

  2. To use monitors to record scientific data which can then be graphed and analysed

  3. To enhance team building, leadership and life skills.

In meeting these aims we worked hard and we played hard.  At Plas Gwynant they very much believe that to fulfil these aims the instructors should stay with the same groups throughout their time, so that relationships can build.  Thus we had Dan, Kevin, Piers, Jeff and Oscar sharing their wisdom and expertise with the children as they went through their paces.

The geographers measured the Afon Glaslyn in the upper, middle and lower course, collecting data on width and depth, stone size and shape, gradient and velocity. This was followed by a stint in the classroom where the children drew their neat versions of their cross section graphs which will be included in their senior school enquiries.

The scientists measured heart rates as the children descended in abseil – the monitor often told quite a different story to the outward bravado!  The temperature of the lakes was recorded from their canoes at various points with some surprising results.

Incidentally, the decibel levels in the dining room were also recorded!

With regard to the third aim, all of the children had their daily jobs which ranged from cleaning out the minibuses to vacuuming the front hall, from dealing with the daily ort report to making the evening hot chocolate.  Every child had a job and each carried out their duties without complaint and sometimes even with a smile.  It would be worth noting, parents, that some of those boys are pretty handy with a dustpan and brush, a Henry and a broom.

The ort report made us think about the food we waste.  The scraps, or ort, were put into a bucket and weighed at the end of each meal.  We weighed in at between 0kg and 1.6kg of waste – testament to the excellence of the food served but also to the children really thinking about what they were eating and only taking that which they knew they would eat.  They could always go back for seconds, or thirds…  Even our ‘fussy eater’ packed away seconds each day!

Our activities were very much determined by the weather, which included the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo.  Teachers met with the instructors each morning to make decisions and as a result the children experienced canoeing, abseiling, gorge walking, and an unaccompanied mountain walk.


On the evenings that we weren’t graph drawing, the children had a go at picture orienteering around the Centre grounds, the ‘Bottle Game’ and finally they danced the night away under the glitter ball, disco lights and even a spell of strobe.

We left Snowdonia in driving rain, surrounded by wonderful Autumnal colours and beautiful mountain landscapes and arrived back in sunny Fordingbridge where the trees are definitely holding onto their leaves.

An outstanding field trip where the children did themselves proud.  Many pushed themselves beyond their comfort zones, experiencing new things that we hope they will reflect and build upon in the future.  If nothing else, it proved to some that there is life beyond a wifi signal!


Sue Fisher, Kevin James, Duncan Humphreys and David Albury


"It requires a lot of skill, strength, stamina and knowledge to accomplish such a feat. Other essentials are drive, and a touch of madness."




Posted on:19/10/2014

Local History comes alive in Fordingbridge

Year 6 at Fordingbridge MuseumYear 6 had a very busy morning learning just how different it was for people living in Fordingbridge many years ago. It was very much a hands on experience as our very professional year 6 guides in their splendid clothing enlightened us with many fascinating details about the objects they were looking at. Before they started they had to clock in at the clocking machine. This was a way of checking in the past whether you were late for work or left early-although there was some cheating with one person clocking in for others.Year 6 at Fordingbridge Museum

For those who were a bit squeamish they didn’t like the thought of what happened to rabbits and sometimes humans as they got caught in a gin trap. There was a tinkling of the ivories as the children took it in turn to have a go at playing the pianola. Just behind this was every young girl’s dream of an amazing doll’s house. For those who weren’t paying attention they were shown the cane, which in the past was used for corporal punishment.

Year 6 at Fordingbridge MuseumAs the children moved around the upstairs part of the museum they got to find out about life during World War Two, with sirens going off, rationing and even a very basic form of toilet, which was not to everyone’s liking. Looking at the railway section which showed what the railway station in Fordingbridge was like before the Beeching axe, the children got to learn of the sad tale of a terrible train crash, where one of the station’s men went to help only to find his wife and daughter had been killed in the crash.

Carrying on around the children learnt a bit about the village’s connections with smuggling and the Hawkhurst Gang. Harry really got his group going as he began to describe what happened to the ill-fated Daniel Chater from Fordingbridge. Sadly, he couldn’t tell the full details because we felt our Y6’s were too young to be told of the terrors and injuries inflicted on the poor man. For that they will have to wait until they do their Senior School enquiry on smuggling! Year 6 at Fordingbridge MuseumFinally It was also nice to see a commemoration section that had been put up to show how local people contributed to the war effort in World War One.

Having been replenished with drink and biscuits the most important part of the day arrived-spending money in the shop. With that all complete we made our way back to FSM with a bit more understanding of our local community and its past. See photos here.


Frances Whitlock

Posted on:10/10/2014

Senior Orchestral Day at Bryanston

FSM Musicians at BryanstonOctober broke and off went 14 of FSM’s senior orchestral musicians for a day of fabulous music making in the newly appointed music suite at Bryanston School.


Firstly, we all found our instrumental position on the stage in a combined orchestra of 9 prep schools from the Dorset and Hampshire areas and there was a great amount of excitement. We had already been practising the arrangement of Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ at FSM in our regular Thursday FSM Orchestra rehearsals but Mr Emerson who is Director of Music at Bryanston took it at a really quick tempo! That woke us all up and we were fully engaged for the instrumental part work as we split up for sectional rehearsals.


FSM Musicians at BryanstonAfter a delicious lunch and a chance to catch up with some ex-FSM friends we continued working hard on our musical parts before once again regrouping in a huge orchestra. The sound had improved enormously since the first morning session and the pieces had so much more expression.


We were all confident to play at the 5pm concert and enjoyed having some pupils from Bryanston to join in with us.


All in all, we had a truly fabulous day!

Posted on:08/10/2014