What a lovely first school outing of the year we had today. Even the rain and the misty start to the day couldn’t dampen our spirits or the energy of the children! Our bus arrived first thing in the morning and took us to our first destination, Newmills Corn and Flax Mills, situated on the bank of the tranquil Swilly River. The children have been studying the Industrial Revolution and what a better place to relive history than here. We saw one of the largest working water wheels in Ireland and one that is dated 1867, which is very old indeed. Our guide explained to us how there are two separate mill wheels, one for working the flax and one for grinding oats. We were able to see the water wheel in action, driving the machinery in the mill. It was fascinating to see how the flax plant changes after being ‘scutched’ and cleaned using machines powered by the water wheels. We learned that everything in the mill itself, except for the lights, is powered by the water wheel. After a short video presentation and a guided tour of the mill, we went to our next destination, Glebe House and Gallery in Gartan. Glebe House was built in 1828 and was owned by the English landscape and portrait artist, Derek Hill. The house itself is beautifully kept and our tour of it gave us a glimpse into the artist’s life. There are many works of art throughout the entire house and we even got to see works by Jack Yeats, Picasso and Renoir, to name but a few. We learned how much he loved his dog and how he had a fascination with pigs and hummingbirds. We even got to touch his slippers that were made from cobra skin.We were amazed by the interior of the house and even more so by the ‘secret door’ at the end of the tour. We then got the opportunity to explore the fabulous gardens surrounding the house. We saw a tree that is almost 200 years old and we even danced around it! The Junior Room children visited where the fairies live and built houses for them using materials they sourced in the gardens. Inspired by the beauty of the gardens and the artwork in Glebe House, the children used clay and natural stone to create pieces of artwork of their own. All in all, it was a super day out and thoroughly enjoyed by children and adults alike. I would definitely recommend a visit to these places of heritage that we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep.