Dear Ford Castle (June 2016)

St Mary's School Thank Yous

 

We couldn’t possibly choose a favourite! So here’s a short snippet from each of the lovely and colourful letters we recently received from our good friends at St Mary’s School!

“Thank you so much for encouraging me to do the Zip Wire, I didn’t think I could do it!” – Ruby

“Thank you for making us laugh!” – Matt

“If I could have stayed longer I would since it was so amazing!” – Iona

“I never thought I would do fencing or archery and after doing them I want to do it again and again” – Ollie

“I didn’t think I would be able to stay over Two nights because I have only ever stayed over One night…  If I had the choice to go to Ford Castle again, I would definitely try and stay longer!” – Freya

“The Zip Wire was amazing, going down upside down was a thrill of a lifetime!” – Jamie

“I was very happy when I climbed up the high pole because I had fractured my arm beforehand. I would like to thank Dave for helping me finish it!” – Maria

“I really want to thank the kitchen staff for the amazing food!” – Hamish

“Thank you to all the staff for the disco, which was so much fun” – Phoebe

“If I got to do another activity it would obviously be the Assault Course, because we got so muddy!” – Orla

“Thank you to all the staff for being very kind and helpful to all of us.”  – Jessica

“The food was delicious, especially the cheesy pasta!” – Alex

“Thank you very much for making me feel welcome and safe, I really enjoyed myself!” –  Isla

“I never thought that I would be on a platform on a pole and doing piggy-backs on it” – Lucy

“I especially enjoyed the Leap of Faith, so I would like to thank Dave for encouraging me to climb to the top” – Tegan

“I am also going to be starting fencing at home, when I can get my hands on some equipment!” – Dicken

“I especially want to thank Dave for helping me finish the Leap of Faith. I think I overcame my fear of heights” – Antony

“It was sad to say goodbye at the end” – William

“Now I can’t wait till I do high ropes again!” – Tommy

“My favourite activity was the disco, Luke as a really good dancer” – Will

“Thank you very much for making my stay enjoyable and exciting, thank you for the yummy meals and lovely rooms” – Rowan

“Thank you for showing us around the castle and telling us the history of the castle, it was really fun” – Beth

“I have never done fencing before, the history of Ford Castle is cool!” – Fergus

“I would like to say thanks to Ollie, he was really nice when he took us on the castle tour – I enjoyed learning about the castle” – Otto

You guys sound like you had an amazing time! And we’re so happy you shared your stories with us,

See you next year on your return visit! 🙂

#MyFordCastleAdventure

TwitterFacebook

With Spring well on its way it’s safe to say that our 2016 season is all systems go! And we just know it’s going to be an Adventurous one…

To commemorate the castle’s 60th anniversary in educational endeavours, we decided to get back to our roots this year, by launching a range of new activities and programmes to encourage young people to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places:

  • Den Building
  • Mini Beast Hunt
  • New and improved Falconry
  • Search and Rescue
  • Equipped to cover all 4 challenges of the John Muir Award.

(to find out more call us on 01388 741 354)

But that’s enough about us, we want to hear about you! Have you visited Ford recently? Do you have any funny memories or stories you’d like to share, or do you have a really good photograph from your school trip with us?  Then we’d love to hear from you!

Nothing brightens our day here at Ford Castle Head Office more than viewing your tweets, posts and photos from your time with us

You can share your thoughts, memories, pictures, letters and even videos with us via Twitter and Facebook by using the hashtag: #MyFordCastleAdventure, and after every season we’ll post our favourites here on our blog 🙂

Be creative! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and updates.

– Kelly

A Magical Venue

tribe zuza

A medieval castle amidst the Northumberland countryside; the perfect scene for every fairy-tale story.  Secret staircases, acres of green gardens filled with flowers and wildlife, all that’s missing is the knights in shining armour… or for our belly-dancing guests, maybe a genie?

Belly-dancers? – you ask – I think you’ve made an error, belly-dancers don’t belong in fairy-tale castles, they belong in Agrabah with Aladdin and Jasmine.

Alas no! I am not mistaken…

More than just your regular Activity Centre, for the last few years Ford Castle has played host to Tribe Zuza for their Tribal Goddess weekend and this April was no exception, marking their 10th anniversary with us!

So after a decade of dancing, what is it about Ford Castle that keeps the ladies coming back for more? “Ford Castle is well placed location-wise and accommodation for numbers and teaching space is good,” and of our facilities and services? “a fantastic effort by the castle team!”

Ford Castle offers the Tribal Goddesses whole occupancy accommodation throughout their stay, and our magical on-site team of helpful heroes are completely at their disposal, providing them with our quality accommodation, meals, service and smiles :). With full access to the whole castle to set up rehearsal and workshop studios throughout the public floors.

“The team worked very hard to make us welcome and worked very hard to make the weekend run smoothly. Overall a lovely bunch of people!”

A big thank you to Angela and the rest of Tribe Zuza for keeping us company every year; we can’t wait to see what 2017 holds for the Tribal Goddesses!

If you’re part of a club / organisation, or know someone who is looking for a refreshing change of venue for annual gatherings, we’d love to hear from you. Be a part of the Adventure, and call Helen on 01388 741 354.

Or email: holidays@ford-castle.co.uk to request a call-back.

-Kelly

Happy Campers!

Well, that’s it, our Easter EFL camp is over for another year!

This time round, our visitors came from France and Germany to stay in the castle for 2 weeks of fun and frolics. They learned English with our lovely teacher Liz, and challenged their minds and bodies with adventure activities and city excursions.

We can’t wait for everyone to come back over the summer – the sun might even come out!

Below are just a few pictures of the students meeting snakes, insects and birds of prey in the long gallery.
EFL2 EFL3 EFL4 EFL5 EFL6 EFL7 EFL8 EFL9

 

 

 

How do you plan the perfect residential?

As a teacher you’ll already know about the benefits of learning outside the classroom, but how do you get the most out of a residential stay away?

FORD.jpg

You’ll need a comfortable and spacious place to stay, with lots to keep you busy on site and an itinerary packed with all the lesson plans, excursions, activities and learning packages you’re going to need.

Sometimes, you’ll need a break (it’s your trip too, isn’t it?), so a permanent staff of friendly and qualified group leaders on site is a must. Choose the right residential, and evening entertainment, meal times and breaks become spectator sports as your students take part in team games, discos and talent shows.

At Ford Castle, you’ll find an excellent balance of education, fun and togetherness within any holiday package you choose. We’re a real medieval castle in the Northumberland countryside, and we’re LOTC accredited, so you can be assured that your trip will be unique and enriching. Explore the castle and its grounds, try adrenalin-pumping adventure activities, and study a range of modules of History, Geography, and Science for all ages.

We’re different to anything you’ve tried before, and we want to show you that different is good! If you’d like to find out more about our module-specific packages, visit our website at
www.ford-castle.co.uk or call 0844 800 4278. We’re also on Facebook as Ford Castle Adventure. Become our friend to find out about our regular teacher preview events.

My first week at Ford Castle

MY FIRST WEEK AT FORD CASTLE

By Jack Franks

 

During the last week in February I experienced what it was like to be working in and around a medieval castle, something that I would not have imagined myself doing a few months ago. If someone had proposed that idea to me before I started my apprenticeship at Ford in January, I would have been very surprised. Yet from the 24th-28th February 2014 I had a taste of what goes on at Ford Castle, a picturesque and historical building which provides visiting flocks of children a whole lot of fun as well as education all in the space of a few days. I was intrigued to see what the castle was all about, as well as to brush up on my historical facts.  I managed to jot down some notes about my experiences throughout the week, in the hope I would come back with a better knowledge and understanding of the castle. It turned out to be the most fun week I’ve had in a long long time!

photo 4

 

After a short journey on Monday morning, we arrived in Ford Village. I don’t know how I imagined Ford to be, but I was surprised at how huge and rural it is, with miles of stretching countryside in every direction. When the castle came into view I was very impressed with the sheer scale of the building as I had previously only seen the castle on photos. We unloaded all the bags into reception and I met the castle staff who made me feel welcome from the first minute to the last. The first job was to unload all the shopping that had been delivered for the upcoming week; I’ve never seen so much food in my life! Once the goods were stocked up I was shown where I would be sleeping for the week. I had a small room in the cottage which is a separate building located to the east of the castle. After getting my uniform and a quick tour of the maze-like castle it was time to meet the first arriving schools from Byker and Kirby Moor. That afternoon, I got to try my first scheduled activity: fencing. I would be shadowing the staff throughout the week on various activities, helping out and picking up some knowledge along the way. After a beginner’s fencing education I helped on a low ropes session with some of the younger children from Byker. It’s great to see the groups working together and having fun. Later that day the staff told me some ghost stories about the Castle’s past; flickering lights, creepy laughter and doors opening themselves. Thankfully I think they were messing with me – not a Grey Lady in sight! I also took the opportunity to go down into the castle’s dungeon. Simply put, I didn’t go back in a hurry.. Later, for my first evening’s entertainment, I led the Grail Hunt, which was a puzzle style game which had riddles and questions about the castle. It reminded me of a 90’s adventure quiz show, Crystal Maze springs to mind…

photo 2

 

The second day we were up and at ‘em early for breakfast, with first session at 10.40am. It was a busy day ahead however, with Initiative and Nightline all morning. These two games are all about communication and working as a team, and I thought the children rose to the task brilliantly. After watching several kids tackle the assault course I helped Group Leader Rosy put some of the final touches to the eagerly awaited Knights Quest. I made a crown for one of the skeletons; it was truly a work of art. The day ended with a disco which took me back to my very own primary school days. Classics such as the ‘Cha Cha Slide’, ‘The Macarena’ and ‘Saturday Night’ were all blasted out and it definitely took me back. I can’t say that I sioned myself doing the ‘Cha Cha Slide’ in front of 20 plus children, but I can safely say I’ve still got the moves…

 

 

Wednesday arrived and it was definitely the most hectic day of the week, as we said our goodbyes to two schools and welcomed three. The whole castle was turned upside down as we prepped each room until it was gleaming. I was housekeeper all morning, which admittedly is not my strongest point, however if I can take anything from my week it’s that I can now make a bed to a very high standard. Once the children had all settled into their rooms and were ready for their Ford Castle experience to begin, I led an Initiative session and a double session of Nightline, leading a blindfolded group across an obstacle course that requires them to work together.

 

Upon waking for my final day, I was on pot wash duty (earning my keep!), followed by a clever and well-constructed CSI session in which the groups have to solve a murder mystery and guess who did it. As it was my first time experiencing the activity, I was basically one of the children as I was trying to solve who committed the murder, which I was surprised to hear was a real life crime. I had a stab in the dark (excuse the pun) and went for a suspect who was the least likely on paper. Don’t ask me why I thought this, but unsurprisingly I was incorrect. It reminded me a bit of life-size Cluedo. Next was Knights Quest, and it was something I was looking photo 1forward to seeing as I had a little hand in the preparation of the session’s various props. I was impressed at the idea and the puzzle elements within the activity, and the children got right into it trying to solve riddles and find the treasure which was the goal of the quest. After a huge lunch, afternoon arrived and began with Team games which allowed me to choose my own activities throughout the session. My group for the hour was from Lanchester School and the children were excellent, fun and well behaved. I opted for a game of Splat to begin with; a game which I learnt throughout the week is a favourite with all young children. I then went with what I know best and that is football, and thankfully the group all were in the mood for a kick about and I was impressed with some of the skills on show. Kwik cricket was my final choice for the session and a big hit with the group. Next, I led Nightline myself for the first time. I had watched 3 sessions of Nightline throughout the week so I was quite familiar with how the session should be handled. This time I had a great group from St Michael’s C of E School. With this session I opened up with a few starter games which showed them how important communication is, communication being the key word for the session. My confidence was growing and I took the children round the rest of the activity, guiding them to the obstacle course that they had to navigate through whilst seeing only complete darkness. They worked so well in a team that we had ten minutes at the end to play everyone’s favourite game; Splat. I felt proud of myself and felt like this was the final thing I needed to try to get a full Ford Castle experience for the week. My final night was capped off with a disco for the Lanchester students. A dance off between the boys and the girls began and the boys tried to get me to participate for them, but that was a step too far for me. I had a few children come up to me and say “You can’t dance”. All I could do was agree with them…

 

The Friday started with another Team games session on my own and I used the same format as the previous day, however I decided to throw in a fun relay race as well. I had created the most random relay of all time, with hoop throwing, pole spinning, hopping and cone juggling just some of the features included. The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves though and wanted to race again, but sadly time was against us. Next up for me was something that I had been looking forward to which was the castle tour, as this would give me the chance to learn some of the history of the castle as well as get some photos. Part of the tour took us to the James’ study which holds some memorabilia and historical artifacts. There were swords, muskets, helmets, armour and paintings which all dated back to the 1500’s; around the time the Battle of Flodden took place. The children were shown the dungeon and had the choice whether they wanted to be locked in with the lights turned off for a short period of time. I had already seen the dungeon so I chickened out of it; however a brave bunch stayed and were surprisingly calm about the whole situation! We had a small tour of the grounds and I realized

photo 1

just how close we were to where battles would have taken place, after being told arrows were found under a mile away. The tour showed to me how the castle is steeped in history and made me realise what a beautiful building it truly was. Once the tour had finished I had one last spot of housekeeping to attend to, as there were teachers from France coming to stay over the weekend as part of a teacher preview. It was. This brought the curtain down on my week at Ford Castle, and what a week it was!

 

My experience at Ford Castle has been a very important one and one I will take a lot from. For one it has allowed me to get a feel for the castle and see how it works on a day to basis, as well as meet some of the people who work there and get to know the team dynamic. I have to say that I respect the team who work there all season, as they are professional, helpful and dedicated people. As my role is in marketing, seeing the castle with my own eyes will allow me to market the company better, as well as add the photos I took to the collection we already have. I will take a lot from my week at Ford Castle; instructing sessions, learning about the castle and of course most importantly, learning the dance moves to ‘Saturday Night’…

Looking back and looking forward

Looking back and looking forward. The Ford Castle Adventure for 2014 starts now!

 

By Jack Franks

 

St Michaels Scary Sisters2013 was a fantastic year for Ford Castle, a year where people laughed, conquered fears, tried new things and overall had a memorable experience. Over the course of last year we had a lot of visitors, with schools and EFL children joining us at our Northumberland base. During their stay with us they experienced the thrill of what Ford Castle offers; the numerous activities that challenged their skill, minds and nerve. Of course there was a lot of fun chucked in the mix as well, with smiles a plenty beaming on every face.

Amble + Castle

In April we had a visit from Amble First School, and they proved to be an infectious and excitable group. Later into April, a Spanish school, St Michaels, visited us all the way from Madrid. They had an extended stay at the castle and tried everything we have to offer. During their 11 day stay with us they packed in a whole range of activities and excursions around the North East, and visited a local school, Longridge Towers, as well as Bamburgh and Holy Island. Although the weather might not have been quite what they’re used to, the St Michaels had loads of fun in the great British outdoors. The majority of the nights saw a disco and team games, and they definitely seemed to be in the party spirit throughout their stay.

 

Another highlight of last year was a visit from historian Dan Snow. In May, he visited us as part of a report for the BBC hit show ‘The One Show,’ to mark the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden. Whilst he was with us he toured the nearby Battlefield, talked about the

weapons and tactics used by both armies, and visited the spot where King James IV was killed by the enemy. To have such a high profile visit was exciting, and our caretaker and resident History buff Paul told Dan a few little known facts about the castle on camera.

Throughout July and August, our English Language camp was in full swing. We had visitors from France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Holland! Over the duration of their stay the students, aged between 8 and 18, participated in a host of activities alongside their language studies, and soaked up the tradition and culture that comes with the castle and its surroundings. Broomstick training, soap making, dressing up in traditional outfits, canoeing, zip wiring, the list goes on. They also enjoyed trips out to Edinburgh Castle, sampling the sights of one of the UK’s most beautiful cities, and even had time to stop off for ice cream.

 

On the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of August EFL Students and actors participated and reinacted the ‘Battle of Flodden’ as part of the Flodden discovery weekend. Over the course of the weekend the students assisted in the running of the event, handing out leaflets andBattle! Théo and Nathan info, as well running the admissions tent, and of course taking part in some of the battle re-enactment, which was one of the bloodiest battles in history!

 

We’ve had small parties, huge groups, international students and celebrities visit us this year, and we’ve had so much fun looking back that we can’t wait for the 2014 season to begin.

This year we look to continue in the same vein, and even improve upon the excitement of the year just gone.

We’re excited for former visitors to make a return, and to show new visitors just how exciting our unique centre is!

We hope everyone checks out our social pages too – we have daily updates, info and photographs added to our Facebook and Twitter pages every day, some fun challenges, riddles and competitions too, so give us a follow!

Have you seen our YouTube channel yet? Once the season gets going next month, expect to see regular updates.

The first video looking back at 2013 is online now, so if you have 3 minutes and 47 seconds spare check it out…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMXDST0jyho.

May this year hold many moments which will live in the memory for years to come. Here’s to 2014!

Ford Castle Captions – Fancy a go?

Do you fancy yourself as a witty writer or enjoy the odd caption conundrum? If so, you’re in luck – we would love to see what you can come up with for the image below.

Seven sensational reasons to visit

Never visited Ford Castle? – What are you waiting for?

1) We are the only residential centre which doubles as a genuine Medieval Castle! – Walk in the footsteps of Kings and uncover a piece of English heritage.

2) See work from one of the ‘greatest artists of her time’ at Lady Waterford’s Hall; the same Lady Waterford who once owned the Ford Estate.

3) Choose from our range of over 15 action packed activities.

4) Famously rumoured to be the place where King James IV spent his last night alive before venturing out onto the Flodden battlefield.

5) Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) is good for you – learn new skills, experience new environments and it’s fun!

6) We have over 15 years’ experience of running Residential Centres – we know what we’re doing.

7) Tailor made packages for schools; whether it’s Geography, Biology or History we can design a programme that best suits you.

A book is for life, not just a week

In honour of National Children’s Book Week 2013, we decided to ask a few of our team which books they loved as a child.

Crystal (Marketing)  – ‘The Mr Men and Little Miss books by Roger Hargreaves – I tried to collect them all! I also loved Animals of Farthing Wood which was made into a TV show too.’

Emma. H (Finance) – ‘Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. I found it really exciting that you could choose where the story went by picking certain pages in the book.’

Holly (Marketing) – ‘James and the Giant Peach was my favourite, anything Roald Dahl really, I loved his silliness.’

Lyndsay (Sales) – ‘The Wind and the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and the Ladybird books such as The Gingerbread Man.’

Chelsea (Sales ) – ‘The Story of Tracey Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. I love the TV show too.’

Katherine (Sales) – ‘The Enormous Crocodile’ by Roald Dalh, that was definitely my favourite.’

Annette (Sales) – ‘I used to love going to the library as a child and reading the Enid Blyton books. I’d say the Famous Five was my favourite.’

Emma.W (Finance) – ‘Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet Ahlerg. It was a sweet little story but a tongue twister!’