HMS Illustrious

Value, Challenge and Inspire!

   Mar 14

Oh No! Last Day!!

P1030612After all the excitement of yesterday, it has been good to get back to our last full day of routine jobs before we (SO sadly!) have to leave for home.


This morning, as we sat at breakfast, the mist came rolling in from Dartmoor; we could see it move towards us like a giant white blanket,  creeping over the frosted fields and skeleton trees.

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Group 1 set off on the trailer for Bridgetown, while Group 2 let out the poultry and Group 3 went down to Burrow to feed the tiny calves. It was a cold but beautiful morning; group 2 enjoyed a long trailer ride down to the lower fields by the river to feed the cows with calves from last year. It was magical to see the ice and frost turning everything into a shade of white, with the promise of sun to come.

After breakfast, Group 3 went on the stock walk and were privileged to have Tom for company (Miss Carty came too because it was Tom…); they went down Death Hill and shouted ‘Yoh!’ across the valley to hear the echoes. We counted at least 5!

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Group 1 had the pleasure of Forest School with Barry in the roundhouse. You may not recognise us after we have made charcoal and created some very alternative egos!

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Because Group 2 had missed out on Forest School on Sunday due to the visit to Chapel, Barry fitted in an extra session for them in the afternoon.



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Meanwhile, Groups 1 and 3 had a Nethercott Quiz with Stuart, going over all the things we had learned during the week. Teams were: The Marshmallows, The Cheesy Pickles, The Ugly Turkeys and The Crazy Frogs (look out for this character later in a blog….). The Cheesy Pickles won: Ali, Anna, Myah, Lauren and Owen.

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Before we knew it, the day was drawing to a close and it was time for last jobs. Group 1 were the last to be out working, down at Burrow where we started. A tired but very happy and proud group of children wandered back up Burrow Lane with Stuart……. and our magical working week came to an end.

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See you all tomorrow!!!


   Mar 13

A Memorable Day…..

P1020060When we (eventually and sleepily) made it out of bed this morning, we had NO IDEA that today would be really special. We thought we were in for our usual routine, but with the added excitement of the special Nethercott ‘Pop-Up Shop’ to buy Nethercott souvenirs for ourselves and our families (maybe!).

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All groups were out for their usual routine of the three jobs (you know them all by now) before breakfast.

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As usual, we just missed babies being born; there were new lambs AND new calves, but we had to make do with seeing them already with their mums. Lambs and calves were standing within minutes! At Parsonage, Sausage Roll the retired Kune-Kune pig was feeling a bit grumpy. She had come out to see Group 1 yesterday, but didn’t feel like talking to Group 2 today. It took some persuading from Stuart before she would come out of her house.

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At breakfast, Miss Carty had some Good News for us.  Our excellent persuasive letters had paid off; a certain Very Important and Famous Neighbour had been impressed by them (and probably the accompanying letter she put with it!) and….. MICHAEL MORPURGO WOULD BE COMING TO SEE US at 11.45!!

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We went out for the second part of our jobs in a state of high excitement; Group 1 to groom the ponies, turn them out into the field and muck out,  Group 2 to walk round the farms on a stock check and Group 3 to cook pizzas for tea!

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11.45 was here in a flash and we were sent upstairs to check our dorms (the dormesto tidy competition is turning into a real contest between all 4 dorms – more of this later!) and to keep out of the way until Michael was here.

At 11.45 he arrived while the staff were having coffee; and there was a scream of excitement from the hordes gathered at the top of the stairs! We came down into the Quiet Room and sat to listen to him. He spent about half an hour with us answering questions; something he hardly ever does any more, because he is so busy. We felt very privileged to be one of the very few. We had to rush the shop and visit it in shifts, as we spent so much time talking to Michael. He answered our questions very skilfully – and very entertainingly!

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After a filling lunch of bangers and mash with carrots and cheesy leeks (followed by fruit salad) we split into 2 groups; Groups 2 + 3 to shift stones and fill potholes in the lane for the milk lorry and Group 1 to Bridgetown to crush barley and make ash faggots for the fire. Group 1 were also filmed for David’s local cricket team DVD, showing what the team members do ‘in their spare time’!!   We also witnessed the arrival of David’s brand new £30,000 tractor – he’s going to plough with it tomorrow.

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The home-made pizzas went down well with some salad for tea and followed by delicious chocolate brownies. Only Group 3 went out this evening to the dairy, as Group 1 had done their task at Bridgetown at 4pm and Group 2 brought in the ponies also at 4pm.

After such a memorable day, some community games, hot choc and a story then bed was a great wind-down.P1020227

PS Watch out for the Dorm Tidy competition in a future blog – this has been the best year ever for participation and sheer ingenuity. It will be a hard act to follow, Year 5!! Challenge!!


   Mar 12

Halfway through……


P1030506From today we begin to say: ‘that’s the last time we will do this job!’ each time we complete one of our set farm tasks – that means we try to do it extra well and leave behind a really good impression for next year’s Yr 6 to live up to!



It was almost a ‘normal’ day for us: out at 7.30am, back for breakfast at 9am, out again to do the second half of the job at 10.30.







Group 1 were feeding calves, forking silage and stock check walk (including building stone dams in the river – just for fun!).

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Group 2 travelled in the trailer to feed cattle and some of the sheep in the lower fields.

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Group 3 fed and let out the poultry.






After breakfast, Group 2 worked with Leanne the cook to make pasties for tea!

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This afternoon we had a special treat; Tom’s Talk.

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Tom is a real Devon farmer; he grew up in Iddesleigh and went to the village school (now the village hall). He farmed in the area for most of his life and has all sort of intriguing things to show us and to talk about. He is a countryman through and through and helped to make the life of farmers in years gone by seem real to us. He showed us all sorts of things, like a ‘granny’ (not a person, but a stick for lifting sacks!).

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We also spent a fair bit of time in the schoolroom (yes, there is one of those here – it has fantastic views towards Dartmoor), recording all the information we have learned this week about farming. For example, we found out that Graham’s herd of cows produce enough milk to feed 4,000 people one pint of milk!

We are heading for an early night, as we are ready for our beds; story, hot chocolate and straight to bed by 9pm tonight!


   Mar 11

Distant snow…. and gusty winds!

P1030417Our working Monday has been FREEZING! We awoke on time to the wind rushing through the trees which are all around us. A good night’s sleep was had by all, which was just as well, as there was a hard day’s work ahead.

DSCF9012In the far distance, Dartmoor was beautiful with its layer of snow, but here at Nethercott all the mud was frozen and it was bitterly cold; no snow to compensate! At least it was sunny (to start with….)


Each group started off at 7.30 for one of our 3 set jobs: dairy, poultry or cattle (on the trailer!). Group 2 were frozen as they fed the hens, geese, turkey and ducks and let them out. Groups 1 and 3 were at least inside for most of their jobs, feeding calves, forking silage and feeding beef cattle. David had moved one of the unexpected twin lambs born yesterday away from the ‘granny’ ewe who was their mother and on to a ewe whose lamb had died.

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Breakfast was great as usual (scrambled eggs) and set us up for grooming Shetland ponies, checking stock (Group 3 had to walk UP Death Hill!) or cooking the most scrumptious jam tarts for lunch!

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The afternoon tasks were: 2 groups working in the kitchen garden (compost spreading and collecting apple sticks for tinder) and Group 2 up at Bridgetown Farm preparing pens for lambing. Miss Carty forked out enough compost for us to barrow into the kitchen garden and cover an area bigger than most people’s back gardens – and the compost heap was FROZEN on its outside edge. She also pierced an egg left deep in the compost; it was rotted and burst with a loud POP.  Boy, did it STINK! P1020271 P1020267 P1020265

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Lucky Group 2 were allowed to climb up the haystack under David’s watchful eye…. the rest of us are dead jealous.

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By this evening, we have completed everything in our set tasks once and we begin the rotation all over again, learning new tips and wrinkles along the way.

We are all playing quiet games in the Quiet Room now:


And…… everyone has showered at last! phew!



   Mar 10

Winter returns to Nethercott…..

P1030395Although it was Sunday morning and most sensible people were still in bed, we were out by the green doors at 7.30 sharp for our morning farming tasks.


We were going to complete our second set of farm jobs and we had to work in double quick time as we were off to the chapel in Iddesleigh after breakfast.

We walked with Hilary to the village, past the home of War Horse and up to the Methodist Chapel, where a friendly, informal service had been prepared specially for us. We had a chance to meet Philip the pastor and the villagers of Iddesleigh.






Walking back with Tom, a retired farmer, was a treat as he can’t resist pointing out plants and signs in the hedgerows. By the time we reached Nethercott, we were ready for our roast lunch. HOWEVER, we did spend time preparing our special Mothers’ Day message for all our mums!

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The afternoon walk is always a pleasure….. well, nearly always! Diagonal snow and a cutting wind made it more of an endurance test: and some of us failed!


Despite our cold fingers, we all completed our evening jobs early so hat we could thaw in front of the stove in the quiet room after tea. Matthew has fun getting out of his very tight wellies!       P1020224


Much fun was had this evening, playing party games in front of the fire!


By this time tomorrow, we will have completed a full round of farm duties and hopefully we’ll be experts!

   Mar 10







Wishing you all a Happy Mothers’ Day….. from us all at Nethercott!!

   Mar 10

First Working Day

P1010850We we up bright and early (some of us TOO early!) for our first farming day. By 7.30, we were lined up outside the ‘green doors’ – they are actually grey- ready to go in our 3 separate ways to work.


Miss Carty’s group (Group 1) were off to do the dairy; watching the milking, forking silage and feeding calves.P1010875 P1010865 P1010858

Mrs Soutworth’s group (Group 2) went to Bridgetown farm on the back of a trailer to feed beef cattle and the sheep – and to meet David the farmer.

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Mr B’s group (Group 3) stayed at the house to feed the poultry and to sort out the Shetland ponies.

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After 3 good jobs done (we WERE brilliant!), it was back for a HUGE cooked breakfast before returning to our jobs to do the second part – the mucking out, checking and in Group 1’s case, meeting Death Hill for the first time…..

We spent a bit of time in the lovely attic schoolroom filling in First Impressions (the word WOW figured quite a bit!) then it was lunchtime – and we celebrated Abby’s birthday with the biggest lemon drizzle traybake in the world, specially decorated for her.

P1010905 P1010902The afternoon job was in the yard, all together, making it look like it must have done in the house’s heyday when there were several staff working for the family. Miss Carty and Heather used hoofpicks to dig out the mud and moss, while Mr B and Mrs Pescops sprayed  with a hose to help clean the cobbles. We were the A-team again, transforming the yard. Group 1 even went straight on to their new job and worked till 5.30pm!

P1030364After hot dogs and fruit fool for tea (all made from Nethercott produce, including the sausages!) Group 1 were in the house for showers while Groups 2 +3 departed for their evening jobs.

A tired but happy band of Yr 6’s had a story and hot chocolate before bed. Here’s to a sleep-filled night!


   Mar 09


Well, here we are safely at Nethercott after an excellent journey on the coach, going from misty, rainy Titchfield into bright and sunny Devon. We stopped at West Bay, our traditional lunch break place, where we played for ages on the fabulous rope adventure playground.


We’d LOVE one like this at school! Of course Mr B had to climb to the top of the tepee, so we grabbed the chance for a whole-group photo. We have been complimented on our good manners with the coach driver – and we managed to leave his coach very tidy when we finally arrived at Nethercott.Having a great time!

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George posing!




The reaction when we arrived at the house was a loud WOW! as it shone in the afternoon sun. We were introduced to all the new safety procedures and shown the new boot room anti-microbe rountine.It’s just as well we had practised doing the ‘knicker thing’ with our waterproof trousers and boots before we came, as that’s exactly what we had to do!


The fire drill was a bit challenging and it took us 3 goes to get it completely right (some of us just HAD to talk…) but we all had a reasonable first night’s sleep – even though at least 2 dorms were up and dressed at 5.30am…… ;-(

Now we’re off out on our FIRST jobs as farmers…..YAY!!!

   Oct 23

Aztec Ball Games

Yr 6 have just enjoyed the Aztec game of Ollama (or tlachtli) in the hall, trying to shoot a ball through a 30cm vertical hoop without using hands! We have been choosing different genres to record information about the Aztec national game, including sports reports, newspaper articles and commentaries. We’ll try to put some on the blog.

In Aztec times, the losing team in tlachtli was beheaded by the winners; of course, we didn’t do that! We have just 2 weeks left of our theme – time to find out about rituals, sacrifices, the Spanish Conquest of Mexico….. and how smallpox wiped out the Aztec people. Some of us have made codices of our work which are longer than the classroom!

   Sep 17

Welcome HMS Illustrious 2012-13

After just 9 days at school, Yr 6 have worked through a range of assessments and we now have a really good base for our learning this year.  We have shown that we can work well in different groupings.

Maths Team Challenge

We are starting off our theme of The Aztecs – and their role in bringing us chocolate! From there we are moving to Modern Mexico before we time travel back to see how we would Survive As An Aztec.

Learning Logs are already in progress – deadline for the current homework is Monday 24th September.

We have just autitioned for this year’s steel pan band -there are already 3 gigs booked for this term. Solo Choir is also under way; we will be off to the O2 Arena on 28th January for Young Voices.

Looking forward to an exciting year ahead!