|The front of the school|
It was an early Saturday morning for me, heading up to Belfast to pick up my load of children (and two adults). They were headed to Ireland and the Irish interschool fencing competition. The first person greeting me (good morning Sir) was a teacher who was quite shocked I was not a Sir, but a Madam. His colleague managed to keep the Sir in, just about.
|I think this building was the dormitory building|
The school we were heading to was out in the country side. Beautiful buildings and beautiful surroundings. Sports grounds that the average professional club would be jealous of and green as far as the eye could see. It was a boarding school for over 250 boys, but in the morning I never saw a single one!
|The sports fields ran all the way up to the treeline|
The boys I had with me though I did see. First I saw them running around with the other boys and some girls from three other schools. Jog, stop, run, stop, hit the floor, stop, jog, stop, jog etc. I got tired just watching them! That was however only the precursor of the actual event. All the boys and girls had started fencing last September and this was, for most anyway, to be their very first competition. I thought there was quite a discrepancy in size of children and some definitely looked older than the boys I had taken with me.
It was to be a relay competition. The first team to reach 45 had won. However, it wasn't as straightforward as all that as I soon found out. During the first fight(?) team A got 5 points and won the fight. Team B only got 3 points. During the second fight that meant that team A only needed 5 points to win, team B however would need 7! And if team B didn't catch up then, they would be chasing with a bigger and bigger margin, making it hard to win.
|Red light meant a hit and a point.|
Anyway, both teams from 'my' school lost by only small margins, but they lost anyway and were now fencing for the consolation prizes. Because there were only four schools in this competition and the combined scores of both teams counted, they ended up taking third place overall.
The way back was as unremarkable as the way in: borders are hard to see and the only thing really telling me I was back in Northern Ireland was the sign saying everything was now in miles again, Ireland having converted to kilometers about 15 years ago. A long day at work, but a good day nonetheless.