Day 1 - Monday 18th May
This year's expedition to Wales departed bright and early but soon hit heavy traffic on the M25. Despite an hour's delay spirits remained high. However, none of us were prepared for the surprise in store on the M40 - an unwelcomed puncture saw the group stranded in a nearby field in the rain for another hour!
From then onwards, all went well and the tired but eager explorers made themselves comfortable at Braich Goch two hours later than planned for their supper of fish and chips. Even though the rain threatened all evening, we managed to visit CAT and sample some of the many hands-on exhibits there.
With the hope of improved weather in the days to come, ten tired pupils settled for their first night away.
Day 2 - Tuesday 19th May
After a good night's sleep, the refreshed group awoke to grey skies ... but no rain! However, the Welsh summer weather soon took a hold and showery rain fell for much of the morning. This had no effect on our morning trip to CAT for an opportunity to experiment with the science behind wind power.
After lunch we headed off to Animalarium and enjoyed seeing the animals who were brave enough to venture out into the rain. The reptile show was enjoyed by everyone, especially those who held the snakes and lizards with a few overcoming their fears.
A last minute change of evening plans meant that we could go swimming at the local pool. At least everyone went off to bed clean and warm!
Day 3 - Wednesday 20th May
With signs that the weather is improving, our most active outdoor day to date started with a ride on the Talyllyn railway to Dolgoch. A steep ascent got us up to the impressive waterfalls and a welcome break at the top where almost everyone found it difficult to stay dry.
A late lunch stop witnessed the taking of Castell y Bere by the WPS invaders, who scaled its ruins with glee. This was followed by a drive into the mountains around Lake Talyllyn before travelling deep into an old slate mine at King Arthur's Labyrinth, where stories of ancient Wales were retold within its vast caverns. (We were lucky to gain entry as the Labyrynth had been closed all week due to flooding!)
With the chance of enjoying some evening sunshine, we drove off to the sands of the estuary of the River Dovey to enjoy a BBQ supper as the sun set.
Day 4 - Thursday 21st May
After the strenuous physical activities of yesterday, today brought a new set of challenges: this time setting their brains to task. In the morning we returned to CAT for the last time to undertake the Hooded Adventure. This involved completing a course without the use of the sense of sight. Rather than just a simple course, this one included tunnels to scramble under and the river! All the team completed the course, although it is possible that one or two members may have had an occasional sneaky peek to gauge their bearings!
After lunch we attended a model-making session at Machinations where we all made an automaton Tyrannosaurus Rex. After a busy few days' activities, concentration was easily distracted ... on this occasion by an extended family of rabbits living in the garden. These proved great fun but not as popular as the toddlers' play barn to which we had access as we waited for our supper.
To round off the day, we made a brief visit to the children's play area at the park in Machynlleth after which the children prepared for their last night, excited with the anticipation of returning home tomorrow.
Day 5- Friday 22nd May
And so the last day of the trip arrived - with mixed feelings all round. Everyone was excited at the thought of going home but, at the same time, sad to be saying farewell to Wales.
Once everything had been packed up and stored in the bus, it was time to set off on the long journey home. The lunchtime stop provided us with a chance to visit historic Ironbridge Gorge and explore the world of engineering and technology at Enginuity. After that it was all systems go for home.
For everyone involved it has not necessarily been the activities that have formed the essence of the trip. More importantly, it has centred around finding out about themselves. Each pupil has come back having achieved something or overcome a fear. Learning to work as a team has been the main feature, and this group has succeeded in doing this. We all hope that some useful skills have been acquired during this hectic week.
Well done to all of the 2015 Wales team!