Monday, 24 December 2007


In answer to Jen's question, yes, we do pay rent. It's the norm over here in the UK, there was one unit in my district that didn't pay it till this year but now they do too.

Ours is high, at £8 an hour, but we are rather over a barrel as our meeting place is the only one round here, it's just houses. The churches nearby are in the next Guiding district so we couldn't move there.

But we spell it out to the parents and they understand where the subs are going. It means we need to find £350 a year just for our regular meetings, but we put the subs up in September to reflect that, and the parents have been fine about it, at £2 a week we are still far cheaper than most of the activities the girls participate in.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

All dressed up

I'm not going to name them, as I want to protect the girls, but here's the six girls that went on the Santa weekend, dressed in their finery for the Saturday night Christmas party.

Friday, 21 December 2007

End of year balance

Our Brownie accounts have a healthy end of year balance, so now we just have to allocate money for the year ahead and give the accounts to the DC to approve.

We do keep a bit in the account because our rent is so high, approx £350 (US$720) a year, and that's if they DON'T put it up in April. No way round that though, but it does mean we try to keep a balance a little larger than most units so we have a safety net if it goes up as much as it did in 2007.

There's £210 left to allocate though, we're going with £60 on Family Railcards (drastically reduces the amount it costs to travel by train with the girls) and hopefully a £150 subsidy for camp in July, that will go towards the cost of the three leaders going and the balance used to reduce the cost for the girls. No idea how much the weekend is going to cost yet, so we can't be sure how we'll use the money but we'll work it out once we do.

Thursday, 20 December 2007


Ooh, thought of something!

The Sikh Brownie WAS featured in the special leaflet on Sikhism, I'm very proud of her and can't wait to show the other girls.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Still gone fishing...but Hautbois was great!

Still consider me gone fishing, as we haven't resolved our home internet issues and I finish work for Christmas tomorrow so will be offline over Christmas unless things do get resolved.

But I had to pop in in my lunch break to tell you how fantastic the Santa weekend I took six Brownies on was.

It took us over FOUR hours to get there on Friday night, it's 146 miles and we'd hoped to do it in just over three hours. But Friday night traffic meant we had only travelled eight miles in the first hour...very demoralising with such a long drive ahead.
But we made it, thanks to my husband borrowing the TomTom from work, so at least we didn't have to stop to check the map.
The girls went off to sleep at a reasonable hour (about 11pm but as we hadn't got there till after 8, I was happy with that), but were awake at 5am! I went in and said: "It's 5am. I am VERY disappointed." Not a peep for over two hours after that! Couldn't believe it, actually managed to fall asleep again! If I'd known that worked instead of anger...

We went on a Santa train on Sat morning, met Santa and they all got a really good quality craft present. Then back for sausages and mash, and then crafts in the afternoon - they decorated bags, made snowglobes and cards and Hama bead things and loads more. An outdoor game, a party tea and party games after that.

They were all quiet, if not asleep not long after 10pm, and I actually woke them at 7.30am! Sunday we stripped and remade the beds for the next people, this took AGES! Finished off crafts, another outdoor game, then a Christmas lunch. After that there was just time for each group to put on a panto they had rehearsed over the weekend and we left just before 3pm and made it back in three hours.
I dropped off two girls and three suitcases (I'd taken an extra one as my car boot was bigger). First house where I left the suitcase and promised the Brownie was in the next car: thanks and a bottle of wine. Second house: thanks and a bottle of wine. Third house: nothing! A bottle of wine would have been lovely, but a thanks was kind of the least I was hoping for!
The girls all got to spend some money in the centre shop, and were also given a Brownie notebook and a gorgeous Santa weekend badge. Most of them had bought a Hautbois badge, so by the time you add the Christmas Fun badge I had bought for them already and three of the six completed their Brownie Holiday badge, there's a fair bit of stitching to be done!
Incidentally, two girls already had the holiday badge, and one completed most but as there was no food prep or washing up required of the girls this time, she could not get the badge. I counted the food prep and washing up from our sleepover in March for the other three as they had to do a lot then.
The sixth girl asked if she could pass by doing some food prep and washing up at home but I had to say no, there's a big difference between being part of prep and clear up for 20 at camp and doing it for four at home, I really do think that aspect has to be done on camp.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Snowflakes, cards and chocolate biscuits

Lots of fun at Brownies last night, I do wish I had remembered a Christmas carol CD, but there was so much chatter there wasn't really much need!

We made the 3D snowflake, they went down really well with the girls.
We made Christmas cards, letting the girls put whatever they wanted on, there were pens, crayons and stamper things with lots of Christmas items.
Then I gave them all a number from 1-17 (we had 5 girls off for various reasons) and they sat in a circle and I read a Christmas story. Every time there was a LEFT in the story they passed their number to the left, every time there was a RIGHT, they passed it to the right. That shuffled the numbers up nicely and then they lined up from 1-17 with the number they got and had a lucky dip (made up of bits and pieces we'd been given over the year: some Canada traders made with foam, some American Girl Scout pens and badges, and some UK badges to make up the numbers) and then they each got a Penguin biscuit. I confess I bought the biscuits cos they were on special and only after thought, oh, that's a Penguin! Should have bought a Lion bar...what would I buy for a Parrot, Otter and Monkey though?? So I left it and just let them have a Penguin each! There was enough to give one each to the two Guides that help and the Duke of Edinburgh girl.

There was also time to test two girls for badges: one for Science Investigator and one for World Culture. They had both worked really hard, done a lot more than the girls that did those badges as part of the pack in fact!

So that's it for regular meetings for 2007, all we have left this year is a trip to a Guiding activity centre for six girls. Also, the Guiders are going out for a meal next week, which should be nice, it's always so hectic when we have meetings, so it will be good to talk in more relaxed circumstances.

In moments of doubt...

this makes me never want to stop being a Brownie leader, got this email today from a dad:

Merry Christmas and a happy New year - If its not too early to say...A quick note to say really how fabulously well you run Brownies.You are so professional and kind and you make my daughter feel special always.How kind of you to text us ref the return times from legoland and yesterday that the children would exit from a different direction. [This was because it was howling down with rain and wind so I was letting the parents shelter in the foyer while they waited for the girls!] I think the brownies have the best leader in [our town, removed!] and long may you reign supreme !
Take care.

I don't do it to get thanks. But when I get them, it makes me feel fantastic!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Big enough for ya?

Just created a poster to go up at our last meeting tonight, on the gate where the girls come out:


In 95 Point text on a sheet of A3.
Am off to Kall Kwik in half an hour to laminate it!

Think THE MUM will get the message?

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Planning ahead...

You know how I said I'd never camp and we're going camping next July for a weekend?

Well, I've just committed to a second camp, a week-long one...though I do have till 2010 to prepare for it!

There's going to be an international camp to celebrate 100 years of Guiding, and it will be open to Guides and Senior Section (the section after Guides), plus leaders.

As my Brownie will be nearly 12 by then, she'll have been a Guide for a good while.

I emailed our Guide leader and she's keen, so I said sign the pair of us up!

2.5 years to prepare for it, even I can do this!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Ordered some badges

I ordered these badges for the girls who are going ice-skating and climbing next month - how cute are they?

And the pound is so good against the US$ and in this case the Canadian $ that they are an absolute bargain too!

Combined with a discount for newsletter subscribers, I snapped up 10 skating and 10 climbing badges plus shipping to the UK for a bargain CDN$25.20 - that's less than £13!

I did toy with getting some for the grown-ups who are going too, though we're not allowed to put them on our uniforms.
But although I always intend to sew these things on my badge blanket, I never seem to get round to it.
By the time I've sewn on my daughter's badges, last thing I want to do is do the same for me! So I was good and only bought for the girls.
The nice thing about the climbing one is it is different from the last one I got for them, so even the girls who have gone twice will be thrilled to get one.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Mastercard advert

Look - two Guides and a Brownie, the very first people to be reunited!

Though if the advert is true, they've been on a Guiding holiday to Toronto! That's one adventurous Guider! I do a lot with my girls but I'm not taking them across the Atlantic, that much I promise!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Girls Shout Out! Under ten and under pressure

This is interesting reading. It makes me worry about under tens, and the pressures they feel they are under. But it also makes me happy that we reach so many of them through Brownies and then Guides, and hopefully build up a bit of self-confidence and self-esteem in them so that they feel equipped to deal with some of these issues.

Girls Shout Out! Under ten and under pressure

When did December happen?

Time really is running away!
Just one more Brownies before Christmas, then we have a five week break, though during the break, I'll be off on a Santa weekend with one other Guider and six of our Brownies.

Feels a little flat after the fun of the show, but there will be lots of fun next meeting. And me and the other leaders are going out for a Chinese meal the week after, our Christmas do!

Friday, 30 November 2007

Still floating

Still on a high, saw lots of the Brownies on the way to school this morning and told them all how proud I was of them last night!

Had coffee with New Guider Who Wants To Take The Brownies Camping this morning (I do work, but only part-time!).

Her training started this Monday and was really helpful, and we also chatted about last night, and about camp - we're down to 14 girls from 16, which is fine, we'd actually prefer around 10-12 for comfort anyway in terms of catering and the number of tents that would need pitching!
One girl just doesn't feel ready to be away from home for two nights, she's never been away overnight, so we're taking things at her pace, she's got a school trip soon and will see how she does on that. The other girl's family has a commitment that weekend, and she's chosen to go with them rather than us. Better for them to drop out now before deposits etc are involved, though both are lovely girls who would have been very welcome on camp!

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Brownie Show

It was fab. Went really fast though (not just cos things seem to whizz by!)
All the glitches we'd had were ironed out, so what took 25-30 mins the week before, only took 20 mins this week.
But it broke down quite nicely:
first ten mins set up
20 min show
15 min food
5 min clear-up
20 min Brownie circle with badges for all, and presented the first Adventure badges too to the girls who had done everything for them.

Finished a little early, but everyone had at least one parent there, so they went home, and we let the Guides in!

Still on a bit of a high from it, everything went really well, and there was a chance to talk to a few parents as well.


Am at work and uncharacteristically excited about tonight's Brownies, can't wait to do the show!

At a tangent, I actually said no to something today! It would have been really good, but it was 2 and a half hours away. Circus Days at a museum in Halifax. It's too far though.

We're already driving over three hours in a couple of weeks for the Santa weekend, so can't face another incredibly long drive for a day event. Even though it would have been a great way to earn the Circus badge...

Tuesday, 27 November 2007


I know I am uncharacteristically quiet just now, we're just gearing up for the show this week (was walking home from daycare last night to find two of my Brownies on their way to practice the end routine, was ridiculously proud of the great dancer who was off to show the more dancing-challenged girl what to do!)

Am also getting together stuff for the two new girls starting in January, so it's a lot of printing right now, and not much to tell you.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Maria's not an asset to the abbey...

Luckily, we don't have a Maria!

21 out of the 22 tickets I acquired for Westminster Abbey on Thinking Day have been snapped up:

2 Guide Guiders and their 3 daughters
4 Brownie Guiders and their 4 daughters
4 Brownies
4 Guides

We have one ticket left, even allowing for everyone that wants to go. I've offered it to our DC, she's coming back to me.

Friday, 23 November 2007

I love it when a plan comes together!

See how stressed out I was getting over the Senior Six getting an overnight? Once we made it a day event and the stress fell away, everything fell into place.

They want to abseil and ice skate: booked.
They need a high adult ratio cos of the skating: done - I have 4 for sure for the 9/10 going, and probably 5.

So I turned my attention to getting a nearby village hall for the new girls to get their sleepover. Done. One phone call and the nearest hall was booked for a 6pm to 10am night at the bargain rate of £36!!!!! One call. Done.

AND, I made the snowflake, it is FANTASTIC! Highly recommend it, thanks V!


After the Brownie show next week, we have one more meeting, where we will be making Christmas crafts. I try not to send them home with lots of tat that will just hit the bin, which is why I LOVE this:

Going to try it out today!


Can't wait for our show next week.

The girls had a full dress rehearsal, and were really good. There's a few still using their sheets of paper, but as we only had two hours of rehearsal, I can't blame them. If they need them, fine, if not, great!

Abseiling and skating it is!

I heard back from 5/6 of the Senior Six before last night's meeting, and their unanimous choice was abseiling and skating - very easy to organise!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

wrote a letter

I wrote a letter yesterday to the parents of the senior six, saying I'd had so much difficulty trying to organise this overnight and setting out three options:

1. Pax, but it's gonna cost £50 and be a very similar experience for the girls that went there before.

2. Abseiling, lunch and ice-skating for £18.

3. Nothing. We just say they've all had plenty of opportunities and that this one didn't come off.

I said we would go with the option most popular with the six girls. So far, three have come back to me, all choosing abseiling and ice-skating.

Still got three to hear from, and those three do include the two who haven't had as much overnight experience so they may go for Pax.

I've asked them all to tell me by tomorrow night, so we can move one way or the other.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Camp plans

Wow. There's a lot I need to learn about camping.

And a lot the girls need to learn too!

Guide Guider has invited me and Guider Who Is Happy To Lead The Brownies Camping to come and visit the next Guide camp, so we can see how it works without having anyone to look after. I definitely think it will be worthwhile for me, but Guider Who Is Happy To Lead The Brownies Camping certainly seems to know her stuff.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Skipping forward

I'm meeting with The Guider Who Is Happy To Lead The Brownies Camping and The Guide Guider Who Has A Camp Licence tonight, to discuss what we need to think about for the county Brownie camp next summer.

We have 16 out of 17 girls interested, though I am certain that will drop when we go through the practicalities of camp, and once we know the cost. Also, we will be having a sleepover for the ones who have never been away overnight with us before, and anyone who misbehaves (badly, rather than a little!) on that won't be allowed on camp.

Onwards and upwards

Am setting aside my disappointment about not getting the scout camp and moving on.

After doing some research, and finding most of the venues the girls wanted are booked up already for that weekend, they will be presented (with their parents!) with the following options:
  • If the sleeping over bit is the most important to them, we can go to one of the 5 venues they mentioned, Pax Lodge World Guiding Centre. All the other suggestions are booked. But, this will be expensive (around £50 for the 31 hours we would be away, as we have train, underground, food, accommodation and entertainment).
  • If the abseiling and skating bit is the most important to them, we can do both, with lunch, for £18, in Birmingham.
  • If they want some other random ideas for special days out, we can go see a Wicked the Musical matinee for £35 a head in London's West End, or Aladdin pantomime in Birmingham for £28 a head (which has the lovely John Barrowman in).

I am going to present them with these options after Brownies on Thursday and get them to choose then and there, as we need to get forms organised if they go for the overnight.

I'm putting the newbie overnight to one side while I get this resolved as there is less time pressure on that one.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Not going to happen

The venue we wanted has been booked by someone else.

Am trying to work out an alternative right now.

Two new Brownie s

I have two new Brownies lined up for January, meaning we will be completely full, with 24. One of the mums rang me the other night because her daughter is so keen, I really didn't mind, because I had said I would be in contact to set up a taster session.

But because we are working on a show for our parents, it wouldn't have been much fun for the new girls to come in, work a little on a show then not see the end result. And we're doing Christmas for our very last meeting of term, which will be quite craft led, which again isn't that typical of what we do.

So I will invite the two new girls to have their taster session the first week we go back in January and start the following week if they like it. To be honest, I have only had one girl come for a taster session then not join, and that was because she was choosing between two packs. They always have fun, and they always want to join!

We're doing British Traditions from January, a fab badge created by one of the Guiding counties in Essex to raise money for going to the World Scout Jamboree that was held this summer. It's the first chance we've had to fit it in. We're going to run it over 4 nights and will have a different country each week: Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland. I've bagsied Scotland as I am Scottish, and one of the AGs is Welsh. Which leaves the other two to fight over England and Northern Ireland. There's a ton of stuff in the resource that came with the badges, must get in and divide it up for all the leaders.

Giving up :-(

I've tried the only other person I can think of to try and book the accommodation we want, and no reply from him either. I am officially giving up on Monday night and trying to set up an alternative. I am annoyed because it does mean I will have to organise two completely separate events now. Blah.

We now resume our positive posting!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Noisy and happy

Still haven't heard about the venue we want for the two overnights, will try again tomorrow.

Brownies tonight was great again: noisy and happy. The Hostess girls are really creating some great decorations, and the Entertainment team are more or less in tune! They were doing some basic choreography, and we have a plan.

Full rehearsal next week!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Want to plan...

I have two overnights I want to squeeze in next term, and I have a weekend that the Guiders are free, and all the girls are free.

The idea is to run an overnight for the Senior Six (who are going to Guides at Easter) based entirely on what they want to do, and they do the menu planning etc. So that overnight will have 10 girls: the Senior Six plus Guider daughters plus the remaining Sixer who doesn't fall into either category. That overnight will frun from Friday evening to Saturday, and finish about 4pm.

At 7pm on the Saturday, the new Brownies will arrive. There are 6 of them, plus a couple of girls who have never been away with us before, plus 2 Guider daughters, so around 10 again. They will do crafts and stuff, go to bed late and be up and out by 10am on Sunday.

The idea of doing it over one weekend is that Guiders only have to give up one weekend rather than two to achieve both overnights. Plus it is always easier to get a venue for a weekend than for one night, as it's hard for the venue to let the other night if you just go for one.

We even know where we want to go, and have tentative permission from the Brownie Holiday Adviser.

But the frustrating thing is I have sent an online form request, two emails and left two messages on an answerphone for the venue, all with no reply, over the last two weeks. I'm giving it another few days.

I'm only being so patient because there isn't another venue where we can run both overnights consecutively and still achieve what we want. The Senior Six's second choice was London, which I'll happily do for them but then I can't do the new girls in the same weekend as we need to take them away locally the first time.

There's so much paperwork and sorting out to do...I don't mind doing it but I do want to get on with it and right now I'm stuck, hoping this venue's booking manager has just been on holiday for two weeks and didn't arrange cover.

Last night

Was really good.

The new district commissioner was really excited about her role. We shared lots of info and started planning for Thinking Day, as our district has to run an event for the division.

We have a fantastic idea, but I'm not sharing till we know if it's feasible. Then I'll tell if it is and if it's not!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


The Guiding Manual, a very lengthy tome of well over 200 pages, is now available online for Guiding members.

Great you might say, and I was certainly pleased. I'd be able to search for what I needed without having to flick through page after page.


They've published it as a series of PDFs.

Now I have a series of PDFs to search.

I would stick to my current printed out and purchased version, but they are now going to publish amendments online and no longer have a printed version.

You know I try to keep this blog upbeat, and avoid whinging.

Go on, you know I do.

But I have to moan now. If you're going to the trouble of putting it online and no longer publishing it, couldn't you create a searchable version? Ie make it BETTER than it was before?



District meeting tonight.
New district commissioner.
Should be good.
Even if I did have to tell her and her Brownies to get out the rollercoaster queue and on the d**n bus at Legoland cos we wanted to go home. Only for the other Guider from my unit to be 20 minutes late for the bus.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Remembrance Day

Note to self: must find out how to get my Brownies involved in Remembrance Sunday next year.

Because we meet in a school, not a church, we don't have an automatic invitation to these things. But I really want the Brownies to be involved for two reasons:
  1. We really should never forget the sacrifices made for us.

  2. I walked in a Remembrance Day parade every year as a Brownie and a Guide, and it's one of the few memories of those years that really stick with me. Wearing about three layers of clothing under my Brownie dress so that I would be warm enough for the 10 minutes we were outside freezing in the Scottish November weather.

It was brought home to me yesterday at my daughter's party. She had picked 5 friends there, 4 girls who happen to be Brownies and 2 boys who happen to be Cubs. Both Cubs were marching today, and 1 of the Brownies, who goes to a different pack. The 3 girls, including my daughter, who were not marching, were all my Brownies.

So, note to self. Must make enquiries in September next year to find out how we can participate.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

District Commissioner

We have a new district commissioner - that's a Guider from the units in our area, who represents us all, signs forms, hands down info.

The way our structure works, we go from CHQ to Region to County to Division to District to individual units. Or vice versa, depending on your perspective.

She's a fellow Brownie leader and as always, when you start a new job, she's full of enthusiasm for it, which is just what we need.

It does amuse me that she will be having to pressure us into attending training days when I am pretty sure she's not been to one in the time I've known her!

Friday, 9 November 2007


I remembered something from Brownies last night I wanted to share.

Our county lost 4 firefighters last weekend in a big warehouse fire. Only one was found at first, and died in hospital, more than 200 colleagues searched for days in a dangerous building to find the other three.

The firefighters in our town are really helpful and welcoming to the Brownies, about 18 months ago we did our fire safety badge: they came to us for one week and the second week we went to the fire station and the girls did a test, examined a fire engine and even got to play with the hose.

So, although we of course thanked them at the time, we wanted to show them now how grateful we are. There isn't a specific fund right now so fundraising wasn't appropriate, for now anyway.

So I printed off a large fire engine on A3 paper and added: To all the firefighters at X Station, we are so sorry you lost four of your friends. We want to let you know how grateful we are for all that you do. At the bottom, I wrote the name of the Brownie unit.

The girls each used a brightly coloured pen to write Thank You and their name on the engine, and it looked very colourful when they were done.

One of our older Brownies will deliver it to the station this weekend. I hope it lets them know that the people around them value the dangerous job that they do.

What's in a name?

At Brownies I'm Penguin, and I love it. It really makes me laugh to hear someone whisper: "Mum, there's Penguin" when I am in the supermarket, or when a younger sister of a Brownie came up to me and said: "I knew you weren't REALLY a Penguin!"

The two assistant Guiders are Lion and Parrot, the new Guider is Otter and the Unit Helper (male) is Monkey. We've always had animal names, when we started the pack in 2004, we were told we didn't have to be Brown Owl and other Owls, and we went for animals.

It certainly made it easier when we were at Legoland, the number of girls screeching Brown Owl this and Brown Owl that, and the number of women who turned round in case it was one of their girls yelling. There was no-one but my lot yelling Penguin!

A discussion on a predominantly US board just now is talking about what the girls call their leader, and there is no tradition of Brown Owl or animal names there. Most leaders seems to be some variation on Mrs Smith, Miss Smith, Ms Smith, Ms Polly, Miss Polly. Fair enough, though I'd hate it. But the thing that really confuses me is this variation: Mrs Sarah. Why would you use Mrs with a first name?

It looks very strange to me, but then I guess Penguin looks strange to them.

Thursday, 8 November 2007


Brownies rocked tonight, it was noisy and happy and fun and great!

Half the girls were making table decorations and invitations for their Hostess badges. There was lots of chatter and glue.

The other half were planning their big show for their Entertainers badge. Between the 10 girls, there will be:
  • a poem accompanied by drumming
  • a song in Spanish
  • a clarinet trio
  • a recorder duo
  • Irish dancing
  • several short skits
  • two songs from High School Musical
  • The Bumble Bee song

I can most certainly say, it will be like nothing else the parents have ever seen!

Paul Daniels Appreciation

OK, Anonymous, whoever you are, if I was giving out a prize, you would totally win for:

3) Paul Daniels Appreciation
4) The Daz Doorstep Challenge

Love it

Badge Quiz: answers

Much as I love the idea of a Chinese Takeaway badge - we do try to teach the girls practical skills, but ordering a 23, a 45 and a 79 from a menu isn't among them - these are the answers:
  1. Discovering Faith (doesn't have to be about your own faith, can be about any)
  2. Hobbies
  3. Entertainer (so X Factor wasn't far off!)
  4. Designer (this is a new one)
  5. Culture (this is about learning about your own culture and where you live, there is a World Culture too, which is the same badge with a globe behind it)

Thanks for posting your comments!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Badges - can you name them?

I've got a wee timefilling quiz for the Brownies, it has 5 interest badges with the names removed. I want the right answers from them, and they can use their badge books to find them.

So, do YOU know what they are? I'm not looking for the right answers, you could go to the Girlguiding UK website and find them. I want the facetious answers! Go on, you know you want to. The snarkier the better...

Tuesday, 6 November 2007


Legoland was great! We had a poor start, it was very foggy and were standing there waiting for the coach and it didn't come, nor did 4 Brownies. Then I asked one of the dads to run me over to the road that is parallel to ours. Sure enough, there was the coach and 4 Brownies (with parents).

The driver had directions, as given by me, to be on A Road, between B Road and C Road. Well, he was on D Road, between B Road and C Road. A and D are parallel. He didn't seem to think there was anything wrong in this but it was no time to pick a fight.

We drove round to the others, and got on board and off we went, just 15 mins late. The driver was a sweetie really, and even put a DVD on for the girls (Little Mermaid) and let them use the toilet on board, last year's driver had refused to let them use it.

The fog burned off as it got warmer, and by the time we got there just after 10am it was a cold and clear day. We split into 4 groups (our Guides in one, the other Brownie pack from our district in another, and our pack split into two) and off we went.

Our group went for:
  • The Hill Train
  • The Pirate Falls Log Flume
  • Lunch
  • The Orient Expedition Train
  • Viking River Splash
  • Boating School
  • Chocolate waffles
  • Fire Academy
  • Fairy Tale Brook
  • Miniland

And countless toilet trips!

It was a lovely, clear day, all the time we were there, and six girls took their promise while we were there, in front of our Brownies and some Brownies from Kent.

The trip back (with the dreadful Shark Tale as the DVD) was 20 mins faster then the trip there. Now my head tells me this is impossible. Want to know why? In my head, Britain is on a gentle slope, from the Highlands of Scotland to the Channel Tunnel. So if you go from the Midlands to London, you are going down. And if you go from London to the Midlands, you are going up. So shouldn't the coach go faster down than up?

Don't worry, I do not share this scientific theory with the Brownies, I try to be factual with them at all times!

So Legoland was great and every Brownie I've met since has been buzzing with the fun of it. We're not doing it next year though. We've gone two years in a row and I don't want it to turn into: it's November, we must go to Legoland. What I will do though, is tell the parents the ticket prices once they are revealed, and give them the phone number. That way, if they want to go as a family, they can take advantage of the halfprice admission.

Right, have to stop riding the high of Legoland and start thinking about the Entertainer badge, which we start on Thursday.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Training Day

I had a bug on Friday and really hadn't shaken it by Saturday, so I only made it to lunchtime of the training day as I was so tired and bit weak.

I was a bit disappointed with the formal aspect. Someone did run through the new Brownie programme changes but I knew it all already, because, as you can guess, I learn a lot of it online. In fact, I knew MORE than the woman presenting it. She said there were 3 updated badges, there are actually 5 according to the GGUK website.

Still, just like the last training day I went to, it was as much about meeting other Guiders and sharing ideas. In the session I was in, you'd mention something you'd done and someone else would have done something different...I got a couple of ideas and some help with one I've been a bit stumped on that the girls want to do.

Left at lunchtime though, I hadn't eaten at that point since breakfast the day before and I wanted to eat a very plain sandwich. They had provided lunch but it was all cheese and mayo, ham and mustard...I just wanted something very plain to see how I felt.

Will post about Legoland tomorrow, too much to get finished tonight cos I wasn't around all weekend.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Is your heart healthy?

Well, 17 Brownies from our pack should have healthy hearts now!


  • Stacked up food packaging with Parrot and discussed what was healthy and what was not.

  • Made healthy and unhealthy necklaces with Otter and talked about the things you have to look out for that might seem healthy but aren't.

  • Raised their pulse with jumping jacks with Lion.

  • Took their blood pressure and played a game with Monkey.

  • Discussed food allergy and how to protect yourself if you have one, and also medicines and how to use them and dispose of them safely, with me.
And they got the cutest badge ever, and had time for a game of Red Letter!

We dished out the t-shirts from the Mud Run too, for the girls who took part.

Next: training on the new Brownie programme for me tomorrow, and Legoland on Sunday!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Signed up

We have 14 signed up for camp now, with just 2 to hear back from. That number will probably drop as we get nearer the time, and have a more accurate idea of cost etc. But I'm thinking we should end up with 10-12, which does show there's a demand from the girls for camping under canvas.

I have 4 definite no shows for this week's meeting, very impressed that the parents took the time to contact me, makes it much easier as we can just get on with what we are doing, not wonder if someone is going to turn up halfway through.

I really need to prep for my bit of the meeting...looks like that'll be lunchtime tomorrow, oops!

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Top women were Brownies or Guides

How cool is this?,,2201575,00.html

I'm leading the leaders of tomorrow!


About 1/2 of our girls go to the same school. About 3/4 of the girls live in our housing estate. All the girls bar two either go to the school or live on the estate or both -ooh, this is turning into one of those maths questions that ask you to draw a Venn Diagram!

Anyway, of the girls that don't go to the school where we meet, three go to a school that is having a firework display on our meeting night this week. Because the mums are helpful ladies, they are helping at the event, so their daughters are going too, of course.

All three took the time to tell me, which was great, means we won't be waiting to start thinking they may turn up. But I am quite jealous - I'd love to go too! I know Healthy Heart badge will be fun...and two girls who go to a different school again are missing the school disco to do the badge, so we will press on and do it.

But I do love fireworks! Bonfire Night is a Monday this year, so there may be a display locally on the Saturday? Must get the local paper.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Busy busy busy

Some very busy days coming up.

At this week's meeting, we're tackling Healthy Heart badge, a badge in a night - we usually take two or three weeks to work through badges but this one is replacing Circus Skills as we weren't able to sort a date with the clown (we'll try again next term).

Then this Saturday I have training for the new Brownie programme.

Sunday, we're off to Legoland for the Girlguiding Day there.

Some more news:
  • We're going ahead with the camp next July so I'm organising a couple of overnights before then to ensure the new girls have experience of being away.
  • We managed to get tickets for Westminster Abbey Thinking Day Service. Very sought after, very hard to get, so very pleased. We'll be going with our Guide unit.
  • I am sure there is more, but hey, not like I won't be posting again soon!

That darn mum again

She's had one more go at me, but you know what?

Water off a duck's back.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

One last note

One last note before I do three days of work packed into two and therefore don't have time to post before I go to Scotland.

The Brownie mum replied to my email, sending it to all the Brownie parents and leaders again, and started citing health and safety and was still going on about communication. I think the health and safety thing is a bit clutching at straws - if she was that fussed about it, why did she sign her daughter up for camp 10 minutes before her original email, you wouldn't send your daughter away with someone for a weekend if you didn't think the normal meetings were safe.

But this is really grinding me down, despite being overwhelmed by lots of other parents getting in touch to reassure me.

So instead of answering in anger this time, I replied directly to her (I believe it is called taking the moral high ground!) and restated the communication as it runs for our unit. I said that to "learn from this experience" as of the next half-term, there will be a poster hung on the gate the girls leave from to state the last meeting date and first meeting date of the next term. (Too right there will be, I'm going to Kall Kwik and paying whatever it takes to have an A3, 72 point poster laminated!)

Then I said if she was still not happy, these are the contact details for the Division Commissioner, who has been kept aware of our dialogue.

The end.

Either she'll accept the way communications are handled (and by the way, I have had so many Guiders on a Guiders forum post that I passed on the info in far more ways than they do) and her daughter will stay with us, or the Div Comm will find another unit that she may find answers her concerns better. I'd be sad to lose the girl, but I know I can't do any more than I do.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Don't let the b*****ds get you down!

I've had so many Brownie parents contact me after this.
And I've spoken to fellow Guiders online and offline.
And I am a much happier person.
Most think I was spot on, a couple think I was very strong in what I said and maybe over-reacted a little, but go on to say sometimes it does no harm to spell things out.

A Guiding-free 10 days for me now though, with half-term and my brother's wedding, so I may not be adding to the blog for a few days (though who knows, there's always something going on!)See ya!


I have a reference form here for one of the Brownie mums who has agreed to be registered as an occasional helper with all the necessary checks so that she can come away with us on overnight trips if we don't have enough Guiders.

She'll do a fab job so of course I'll give her a great reference.

But the desire to tick the boxes saying you think the person should never be allowed near children of any age? Almost overwhelming. Why put such temptation in my path?

Nope, I did the right thing as I know she'll be great when we need her!

District commissioner

Our district commissioner has resigned and we've been asked by the county commissioner to nominate a new one.

I'm nominating the leader of the Brownie pack in the next village, she's itching to do it and I know she'll do a fab job.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Sikh Brownie

Girlguiding UK are looking for Sikh Brownies.

Every so often, they produce a leaflet inside the Guiders magazine about each religion, to try and help those of a different religion understand the needs that may need to be considered, or simply why Guiding can be seen in a positive light within that religious community (eg because it's an all-girl space). I say of a religion, because everyone who takes the Guiding promise has to promise to "love my God" and while that can be open as to which God/plural deities is being cited, you cannot take the promise if you won't promise to love your God.

Anyway, I have a Sikh Brownie and have passed her details (with her mum's permission) to GGUK and she may be appearing in the next leaflet!

Snibston Science Park

This term we have been doing the Science Investigator badge. The remaining requirement was to go to a science park. Many, though not all, schools in our area had a teacher training day today, so I told the Brownie parents that any Brownie family who was at Snibston for 10.30am, the Brownies would pay for admission.

We had 2 for 1 vouchers, so we got 9 adults, 11 kids (including 9 Brownies) and 4 under fives in for £58. Considering Warwick Castle is £52 for a family of four, you can see what a bargain that is!

Once in, the families were left to wander as they wanted. We had such a clear bright day, much of the time was spent outside exploring the outdoor facilities. At noon, there was a presentation for the girls who had completed their badge, then we left the families to explore again and leave in their own time.

It's a fantastic facility, we had four year olds picking up Mini cars with magnets and pullies (pulleys? What is the plural of pulley?), lots of water play, lots of weaving, clambering through coal was excellent and I highly recommend it.

And most of the parents there had seen the email sent round the night before. None of them had turned up last night, they all read their calendar! Everyone was very supportive and made me feel we are really offering a great experience for our girls.


Apparently the Brownie at the door wasn't the only one whose mum can't read a calendar.

I got a really angry email, sent to the whole Brownie yahoo group (ie all the Brownie parents and leaders) last night from a mum about the meeting being "cancelled".

Here's my reply:

Brownies was not cancelled, we never meet on the last Thursday of a half-term or term for three reasons: the school often takes the hall back from us, the leaders have parent-teacher conferences to get to, and when we did try meeting, our numbers were so far down it was not worth the effort of the leaders getting there. I tell all the new parents when their daughter start, that this is why we always meet back the first week school goes back whenever possible, because we can never meet at the end of half-terms and terms.

Each family is issued with a calendar with meeting dates at the start of the term. Each girl was given one with their name marked on the top and I did not have any left so I know {your daughter] was given one. In addition, I did verbally remind the girls last week at the end of the meeting.

I am a little insulted when you say: "Many of us on a weekly basis make family/work arrangements to ensure the girls can eat early and get to Brownies." Do you really think I do nothing but Brownies? I get in from work on a Thursday evening and have to collect both my children from childcare, feed them both, get changed, get together the resources for Brownies and get out the door. In addition to which my husband has to leave work early to ensure he is back in time to look after my son so that I can even get to Brownies in the first place.

You do know that we are volunteers? We are not paid to do any of this?


OK, so I was mad. Can you tell?

But I have been texted/phoned/spoken to by several Brownie mums today, all of whom said they were really grateful for all we do as leaders and that they knew the meeting wasn't on and I hardly hand-picked who I would tell! They were concerned this mum may have pushed me far enough to do something like resign.

Nope - because a day like today (will do another post) is why I do Brownies: nine Brownie families having a fab day out together and actually taking the time to say thank you to me rather than having a go at me because someone didn't read a calendar.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

READ THE CALENDAR - yes, I AM screaming!

Just had a Brownie, in uniform, at the door, demanding to know why I am not at the meeting place.
Because we never meet when our meeting night and the last day of a half-term or term are the same day (we find numbers are drastically down or leaders are unavailable because of school activities or we can't have the hall anyway).
Of course, if you'd read the three month calendar I handed out the first night we met you'd know that.
Or the email newsletter I sent out last week.
Or listened last week when I said: "See you all after half-term."
Short of standing in peoples faces and saying: "We will not meet next week," I am not sure what else I can do?

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Signing up...

Looks like the girls really want to camp! I've already got five names...

Yes, camping!

Well, it looks like we are going to do this. I am waaay out of my comfort zone!

But newbie Guider is keen and I am infected by her enthusiasm! Add to that, the Guide Guider has offered her services since her two daughters are going with the Brownie packs they help at anyway, and we have our team of three adults, plus access to the Guide Guiders stash of camping equipment.

We will have a maximum of 18 girls that could potentially take part as six will go to Guides at Easter and even though we'll have some newbies at Easter, we would only take girls who have been away with us once before, it's a bit too much for a first time away from home.

I can't imagine all 18 will want to go but if we can get about 10-12, I think that would be a good number.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007


Our county held a camp last June and our girls visited for the day, though some local Brownies did actually camp.

I've never camped. Not as a Brownie. Not as a Guide. Not as an adult.

And I was never going to. I've always said to my Brownies, you'll get the chance to camp when you go to Guides. I'll take you away to exciting indoor venues: a community hall, a World Guiding Centre, a county guide centre, a Scout activity centre so far. We're going to a Guiding Activity Centre in December and there will be an overnight between Jan and March next year for the oldest girls. But no tents.

Now the county is planning another weekend camp next July. And I gave serious thought as to whether I could do it. And concluded I could not. So I emailed the other Guiders in the unit to say as much.

At which point the newbie Guider came back and said: "I camp every year with the family, maybe we can do this if I lead and you help."

So now I've emailed the camp organiser for more details, emailed the other Brownie leader in the district to ask for tips and emailed the Guide Guider to see what equipment we could get access to.

Am I REALLY going to spend two nights under canvas????

Monday, 15 October 2007

Environment Badge

Blog Action Day calls on everyone to make an environmentally-themed post, within the normal framework of your blog. So I thought I'd post the syllabus for the Brownie Environment badge. This is one we plan to tackle as a unit, next year.

1. Do the following:
** For a week try three different ways to use less water and energy at home.
** Keep a record of what you’ve done and how much less water and energy you have used.

2. Do the following:
** Collect packaging that can and cannot be recycled. Know how you would: – dispose safely of the different items– reduce packaging waste.
** Show how you sort items into recycling groups and where your local recycling facilities are found.

3. Find out about your local recycling facilities. Make a poster showing what can be recycled and where the collection points are for at least three different materials.

4. Either
Visit a local farmers’ market and find out why buying produce there helps the farmer, you and the environment.
Collect six food items such as apples, pineapples or coffee. Discuss whether they are produced in this country or another. Know the problems of transporting food a long way.

5. Explain how artificial fertilisers, pesticides and the destruction of hedgerows affect wildlife.

6. Find out about an endangered species, like red squirrels, tigers, blue whales or giant pandas. Make a display or information pack about them.

Sunday, 14 October 2007


Blog Action Day tomorrow (thanks for the reminder Velda!).

A post about the environment, within the normal framework of your blog. Must remember...
I'm planning to post about the Brownie Environment badge - well what else?

Recognised as a Guider...and two more Brownies

I wish I could find a pic, but they don't seem to sell it any more...yesterday at the mud run I was wearing a Guiding t-shirt with Surprise Yourself (a guiding slogan) on it in Welsh. Yeah, I'm about as Welsh as haggis (actually, I am exactly as Welsh as haggis, as both haggis and me are Scottish) but the t-shirt was £5 from GGUK trading last year as they were selling off the last of their stock. I like the fit, and the colours, so I wear it when I am doing Guiding stuff out of the meeting place and want a long-sleeved top.

When I went into Warwick Castle after the run, a woman came up to me and asked what the slogan said. I said Surprise Youself in Welsh, and she said she thought so, she was a Scottish guider herself too.

Of course, we both only have GGUK's word for it that the top does say Surprise Yourself, it might be two Welsh swearwords for all I know.

Other news: I have two new Brownies lined up for January. We are currently running at 22, so this will take us to 24. That's the conventional maximum number for a UK unit, you can go up to 30 if you really want, but I actually think 24 is a good number both for our leaders (it means we can run with three leaders, if we go over 24, we need 4 to maintain our ratios) and for the hall we are in. I actually think the pack runs best around the 18-20 mark but with a high rent, having a full 24 means our money can stretch a bit further.

One of the newbies is called Hannah though, this will be the FOURTH Hannah in the unit at the moment, and she has the same initial as one of the others. She doesn't have a nickname (we solved the problem of having three Harriets at one point because one liked to be known as Hattie and another as Hairy Rat!!!!) so we may have to go with Tall Hannah B and Wee Hannah B - haven't seen how tall she is yet though!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Got muddy for a good cause

So, we did the 5K mud run this morning, and I am really pleased to say all 27 members of our team completed the course: adults, Brownies and siblings, right down to little Rachel, not even two yet (though to be fair she was pushed round in her buggy by her dad!)

Everyone in our group got round in between 50 mins and an hour, that might be a lame time for your proper runner on tarmac/running track but we were clambering up and down steps, slipping in mud and generally taking in gorgeous grounds as designed by Capability Brown, and our team included 13 people under the age of 12, so I am very pleased.

Everyone got a bottle of Radox for afterwards, for a good soak in the tub. And not just a mini-bottle, a good size one like you'd buy in the shops!

We raised £100 as a team after entry fees - I am very pleased with that, given that we organised our participation in just a few days and the money was entirely donations from the ten families that got involved, rather than sponsorship money. We've already had a thank you letter from the British Heart Foundation too.

And two great bonuses - one, the girls who participated will have this count towards their new challenge badges, and two, everyone who showed their race number at the door was allowed in Warwick Castle for free. Given that it costs £52 for a family of four to get into the castle normally, this was a bonus - it wasn't mentioned when we signed up and I don't know if it was a last minute agreement with the people that run the castle, but it was a really nice surprise. Quite a few of our families did have to shoot off for other commitments that afternoon but a few of us went.
My legs don't half ache below the knees! Getting fitter hurts!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Finished Science

So we finished Science Investigator last night, or at least as much as we were doing at Brownies. Now if they want to get the badge they have to do one of three things:

  1. Visit Snibston (a science park) with us and we will pay admission, on a planned trip

Visit another science venue and bring a note from their parent

Do a poster about two famous scientists

One girl last night who can't make it to Snibston brought her poster already and it was fabulous. She's set a very high standard.

The DoE girl slotted in very well and wants to come for the next three months for her community service, she's going to organise a starting game each week which is an excellent help to us.

I organised Healthy Heart, each of the 5 leaders is leading a clause, so that means little organisation for me which is good, I'm a bit overwhelmed with paperwork stuff just now.

And the girls decided whether they wanted to do Entertainer or Hostess in the run up to Christmas, we'll run them alongside each other as they are complimentary, and it means the shy ones don't have to get up and entertain but can still earn a badge.

5 girls (including my daughter) are going to try and do both, it will involve work at home for them rather than just in the meeting, so we'll see how they balance that with the demands of November/December at school.

Gave out consent forms for Legoland...oh, 5/6 new Brownies know their promise so they are about ready to go...the one thing I forgot last night was to talk to the Senior Six about where they would like their overnight in Feb to be, but 4/6 will be at the mud run so I can start with them and then catch the other two!

Right - mud run tomorrow, really looking forward to it!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Whirlwind day - but I achieved so much!

Not all guiding, but lots of it!
  • Daughter to school.
  • Jumped in car and drove to Birmingham to register our team of 27 for the mud run 5K on Saturday. Son was given an elephant badge while I sorted the money and forms with someone, and was very chuffed!
  • Checked out Solihull Ice Rink on the way back for future reference as it was just round the corner from the charity.
  • Drove back.
  • Shot into town to give income tax stuff to my accountant.
  • Dropped ironing off (our one big luxury in life is getting someone else to do the ironing)
  • Picked up bread and milk.
  • Dropped it at the house.
  • Paid the papers.
  • Posted two items at the Post Office.
  • Took son to swimming lesson.
  • Home for lunch.
  • Sat down. Aaaaaaaah.
  • Made lunch.
  • Had coffee with division commissioner who signed the forms for our Santa Weekend for me. Our district commissioner has just resigned and we talked about that a little, and what happens now - I know what you are thinking and it does not involve me taking the position!
  • Collected daughter.
  • Shot to Post Office again with the signed form and all the other stuff I had to send. Paid Special Delivery to be certain it gets there in time - there is another mail strike next week and there have been a few walkouts today and I just didn't want to risk our forms being delayed.
  • Home. Now I need to think about dinner...but I am at least pleased with how much I have achieved today!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Buckingham Palace

Here's a picture of the girls from when we went to Buckingham Palace.

We got permission to go inside the gates to watch the Changing of the Guard. There were THOUSANDS of tourists outside the gates and they were all saying: "Why do they get to go inside?" It was worth it just for that! The same day we did this, we also visited Girlguiding HQ, the ICANDO centre, a fantastic Italian restaurant, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament (the girls were fascinated by Big Ben, seen it so many times on the TV) and went on the London Eye.

This picture makes me a little sad though. We took 10 girls on the trip last March, 9 from our pack and 1 from our sister pack in our district. Of the 9 girls from our pack, one has moved to Australia (and has joined Brownies there and is loving it), one has moved to America (don't know how she is getting on) and one left to go to Guides but didn't really take to it and didn't return in September (doesn't take away from the fact she had a great time at Brownies but I'm sad she didn't click with Guides).

So only 6 of the 10 in the pic are still in our pack. 3 of those are in the Senior Six so I've only got them till next Easter when they go to Guides themselves.

Time marches on!

PS: The girls are wearing yellow neckers with a white stripe, this is what our unit wears, other units don't have them or choose their own colour combinations. I will confess that our girls voted to get neckers, I didn't know you could get any colour other than yellow, went to the Guide shop to buy them and there was a set of 20 yellow with a white stripe that someone hadn't collected within 6 months so they sold them to me at a bargain price - and that's how our colour was selected!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Assorted stuff

  • DoE girl is coming on Thurs so we'll see how we go
  • Printed off the consent forms for Legoland, and asked my AG to bring the receipt book so I can match up the names with the girls who paid.
  • Collected back most of the mud run forms now, hoping to have them all back by tomorrow
  • Can't get hold of my DC (email no reply, phone message no reply, mobile phone not connecting) and desperately need a signature to confirm I can go on this trip. Called Div Comm, one level up today and she has promised to either get the DC to sign tomorrow night at a meeting they are both going to be at or will sign it herself if DC isn't there. So I should get it back Wednesday and will pay to send it express that afternoon and hopefully meet the deadline.
  • Got back a necker from a Brownie that left without having to bug the family more than twice! Always a success! We now take a deposit when new girls join, so that if they don't return the necker when they leave, they forfeit the money, which is £1 more than it costs to buy a new one anyway. I was hating chasing them up all the time, but at £4 a go, they are too expensive to buy new for every girl, as we have a turnover of 7 or 8 each year (expected, as girls move away or move up to Guides).
  • Thinking ahead to an overnight trip in late Feb, early March...

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Duke of Edinburgh II

I've emailed the DoE girl, inviting her to visit our next meeting and see whether it appeals to her. I did mention we're a bit concerned she wouldn't have enough to do, we are fortunately well off for leaders for now, so we'll see.

Signed up

Have signed up for training on November 3 to learn about the new Brownie programme. I already know there are three new badges relating to it, and have started to create a record sheet for the girls, just need the training now. The new badges are Brownie Adventure (to be earned after approx 18 months), Brownie Adventure On (to be earned after another approx 18 months) and Brownies was an Adventure (not earned, you get it when you leave and can wear it on your Guide uniform)

Of course, I have posted the letter asking to join the training...who knows when it will get there with the current post situation. It's really weird getting no post at all for a few days, I know the advantage is no bills, but I like the noise when the post comes through the letterbox and I miss it! Miss our postie too, he's a sweetheart who really tries hard to make sure people get their larger post by checking with neighbours or stopping you if you are driving out the street.

Here's the news behind the mail strike:

Friday, 5 October 2007


Rang both places I need to get mail to:

We can register on the day for the race and I have warned them there will be 28 of us!

And the Norfolk people still want the forms asap but are fine about the fact they will be a few days late.

Sorted. Unlike the post.

Paperwork and mail strikes

I have two sets of Brownie forms I need to get where they need to go very soon.

And a mail strike till next Wednesday so no mail until next Thursday at the least.
  1. We have 28 people (14 adults, 14 girls) going on a mud run for the British Heart Foundation next Saturday (13th). But I need to get all the forms signed and then get us registered. So I will be driving to Birmingham on Wednesday to do it in person (not far, about 25 miles) otherwise we won't be signed up in time.
  2. The forms for the six Brownies and two leaders going to Norfolk in December need to be returned by Oct 12. But I haven't yet received the permission form back from my DC and with no mail till next Thursday, that means even if she has put it in the post, I won't get it at the earliest till Thursday night when I get in from work. And I can't drive to Norfolk on Friday to hand in the forms. So I will have to call them and hope it will be ok if they go back late.

Did it work?

We did Josephine with the girls last night - I am fairly sure most of the girls grasped the idea, not 100% sure the two girls we were trying to reach grasped it but at least there were no tears at Brownies.

The Science badge continued apace, it will all be wrapped up next week. And all six of the new girls want to take their promise at Legoland, so that will be fun.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Can't help

Another Brownie Guider in the district caught me this morning and asked me if I could take her meeting tonight. I had to say no - I have stepped in and helped her before, but I've not been too well the last couple of days and I just haven't got the strength.

I do feel bad for her, here am I with 2 qualified leaders (me and Parrot), one nearly qualified (Lion), one just starting training (Otter), a unit helper (Monkey) and two Guides that help as Pack Leaders (Tiger and Owl). And she has...her, plus a Pack Leader. She has less girls than us, and she has help from parents to ensure she has the necessary two adults they need each week. But the full burden falls on her.

I did suggest she tried an email around to see if anyone else could help her out for tonight.

In the longer term, it's not so simple as maybe a couple of our leaders could work with her pack instead. All our leaders have a link to our unit, they either have a daughter in the unit or had one in it. Wednesdays don't suit any of us either, plus her unit starts at 5pm - it's enough of a struggle for a minimum 3 of us to make it to our own meetings for 6pm, 5pm is just impossible.


I need to make a Josephine for tomorrow night, we're going to use her while Lion sets up the science experiments.

The two girls I mentioned squabbling a while ago? Apparently they are still at it in school and it's upsetting the others in their class. Well, I can't do much about school, but I can give it a try at Brownies.

So this is what Josephine is: You draw a Brownie on a large sheet of paper and cut her out. Then when we sit in the Brownie circle at the beginning, I introduce her: "This is Josephine, a new Brownie member. She's very nice, but she's a bit smelly." And then I tear a bit off her.

I prime the next few Brownies after me beforehand so that they do the same: "She has lovely hair but she has horrible teeth," and tear a bit off her.

By the time she has gone round the circle, she's in tiny pieces. Then the Brownies have to put her back together. They may not manage to do so, but even if they do, you make the point that no matter what happens to Josephine in the future, she'll always be scarred by what was said to her. And ask them to think about how they speak to others, because even though the scars won't show from cruel words, the hurt will still be there.

Here's hoping...

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Not Brownies but...

My daughter had so much fun at our climbing and abseiling day, I've booked it again, at her request, for her birthday party.

And here's the really nice thing: when I handed out the permission forms for the Brownie day, I mistakenly gave out 11 instead of 10. And got all 11 back. It was only when I counted them I realised I had, for the first time, made a serious paperwork mistake. As the climbing place insist on a 1:10 maximum ratio, it was impossible to take all 11.

I was able to trace back and work out who hadn't paid, thanks to Parrot's scrupulous book-keeping. I called her mum, who said as she had paid for a different event, she wasn't sure if she had paid for this one, so had done the form. She was a bit cross, understandably, and the Brownie was upset. I did apologise, and I am only human.

Well, my daughter wants to invite this Brownie to her birthday. She's only having 6 guests. She knew how upset I was about making a mistake and how upset this Brownie was at missing out, and she likes her anyway (she and my daughter are in the same Six) so she wants to invite her.

I am very impressed by my daughter's thoughtfulness. I don't want to take away from what she is doing by mentioning this is fairly uncharacteristic (oops, just did!). I am very impressed.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Wish my region did this:

Nights Away Scheme

What is the Nights Away Badge?
Introducing the Girlguiding Anglia Nights Away Badge—open to all our members, from the newest Rainbow to the most mature (!) adult member, you can celebrate going away with Guiding by gaining the new Nights Away cloth badge!

To take part, complete the Nights Away Record Card every time you go away for one night or more on a recognised Guiding event. This could be a sleepover, camp, holiday, international trip etc.
Once you have reached the requisite number of Nights Away to gain one of the badges, you can apply for the badge.
This beautiful 6cm x 6cm badge can be worn proudly on your uniform (girls only) or why not display it on your camp blanket!

Sign Me Up!
1. Start collecting your ‘Nights’ Away’ by filling in the Nights Away Record Card available from your County Pack Holiday or Camping Adviser or from Anglia Region Office. You can backdate your Nights Away from 1st January 2006.
2. When you reach 1,5,10,15 nights away you can order the badge from Anglia office, or your local depot. Download the Nights Away Badge Order Form and send the completed form and a cheque for 50p per badge to Anglia Office.
3. When you reach 25,50,75,100,200 or more nights away, send your card to your County Camp Adviser (Guides/SS/Adults) or County Pack Holiday Adviser (Rainbows & Brownies) plus 50p (plus SAE) towards the cost of your badge.
The badges are available NOW!

Q Who can take part in the Nights Away Scheme?
A All members of Girlguiding Anglia from Rainbows to Senior Section – and even adults and Trefoil Guild!
Q What counts as a Night Away?
A One night (or more) spent on a recognised guiding event. This could include:
Sleepovers, holidays, camps, boating holidays, bivouacs, international trips, youth hostelling, service crew weekends…in fact, anything that is approved in the Guiding Manual.


NOBODY must tell the Brownies about this!

Sssh - I couldn't take it. And I'd feel obligated to find a way to make it work cos I know they would love it so much.

So everyone - keep schtum!

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Duke of Edinburgh

I've been approached, by email, by a 14-year-old girl hoping to do her Duke of Edinburgh three month community service with our unit.
We've had a DoE girl help before and to be honest, I am not sure how much she got out of her three months with us. She was painfully shy and we weren't that long established as a pack, and we just didn't have the time to give her a lot of attention to draw out the abilities and skills she needed to be able to help more.
That said, this girl seems very confident and has been a Brownie and a Guide (unlike the other one) so is aware of how we work.
My hesitation is because we might just have too many people and overwhelm the Brownies! I know, what a good position to be in! But with a 4th Guider starting with us, a Unit Helper, two Pack Leaders from the Guides, adding a DoE would mean 22 Brownies and 8 people working with them, even though 3 of the 8 would be under 14.
I'm going to talk it through with the others this Thursday and see what they think. The aim of having a 4th Guider is to let all of us have the odd week off, so that there are 3 or 4 adults most weeks, once she is more confident. So that would mean a lower ratio...
I can see that this might help us break up the sixes more into groups where they can work on different challenges rather than everyone have to do the same thing each time...and she could be quite inspiring to the 2 Pack Leaders if they see the merits of DoE, which I think is a great scheme...
Time to stop babbling and have a proper think.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

All the news

  • New Guider will be called Otter - her favourite animal
  • Senior six agreed ice skating was too expensive as a fundraiser and agreed to do a "Muddy Run" in aid of the BHF instead. We're aiming to raise around £100 as a unit doing this, aprox £4-£5 per family, so not asking too much, and it all counts as community action for the girls.
  • Six new Brownies are taking a little while to pick up their promise; two of them are nearly there, two halfway, two nowhere near. They are hoping to do it at Legoland in November, I think it is achievable...
  • That's all the news that's fit to print.

New acquisitions

Went to the fantastic Guide shop about 23 miles away - ok exactly 23.2 miles away because I measured it. There are two closer, but the local depot has a small amount of stock and you have to order most things, and I really wanted to touch stuff! There is a shop open Saturdays between the local depot and the other one, but the staff at the other one are SO nice, it is worth the trip.

Plus, they are happy to let me trade if I have too much of something. So, for example, I had bought 24 Road Safety badges for the spring term, but with girls moving to Guides and moving away, we only had 17 girls by the time we worked through that badge. So I had 7 left over. I was able to scrape together 21 badges we wouldn't need, so I traded them for 21 Healthy Heart badges, as the girls voted to do that later this term.

I also traded 13 Rights badges, made up of unneeded badges from the first 4 Rights we have done, for 13 Right to Be Happy badges, one of only two Rights we haven't yet done. When we do get round to that one, I will wait to see how many pass and buy any extras. As we only have two Rights left, don't want to get left with lots we won't use.

Apart from trading I also bought:
  • A copy of the revised Adventure book so I can use it once trained on the new programme next month
  • A copy of the revised Adventure On book for the same reason
  • 3 each of the new Brownie Adventure and Adventure On badges that go with the new programme so I can show the girls and have a couple ready for the first to achieve it.
  • 3 of the new Leaving Brownie badges. These are for girls leaving the unit, and can be worn on their Guide uniform if they go on to be Guides.
  • A Brownie Leader promise badge and badge tab for our new recruit.
  • The Midlands 4U challenge, a new challenge for the region, haven't read it yet though.
  • 22 Brownie Skills badges
  • 10 Warwickshire bear silks for the new Brownies

And, personally rather than for the unit, I bought:

  • 3 Warwickshire bear blanket badges (one for me, one for daughter, one for someone I owe one to)
  • A Brownies yellow bag, I have one and another Brownie leader in the district remarked on it, so I got one for her.
  • A puppy for daughter (she chose it and paid me back from pocket money)
  • A yoyo for son (he chose it and gets no pocket money so can't pay back but it was 50p!)

Scientific stuff

Our AG Lion made a great job of the Science badge this week. She had an unfortunate start, trapped in traffic and didn't get there till 25 minutes after we start. I don't find it easy to hand over the meetings but I'd relaxed because I knew she'd find it much easier to handle science than me, but that meant I had nothing prepared to fill the 25 mins!

We muddled through and then the girls each took part in some of these activities (they will all be repeated next week so they will all get a go):
  • Made an indicator with red cabbage and see what happens when it reacts with things including orange juice, toothpaste, etc
  • Played a bottle xylophone
  • Wrapped ice cubes in different things to see what protects best from melting
  • Created a structure to support an apple
  • Created a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher

Those alert UK Brownie Guiders may have spotted this is the old Science Investigator syllabus. The badge requirements recently changed. However, as they didn't change for safety reasons (the First Aid and Agility badges were amended for safety reasons), and we had the resources to support working through the old version, we decided to proceed with it.

So, same thing next week, and we've allowed time to wrap the badge up the week after and any time not used that week, we'll start on the Brownie Skills badge as a time-filler.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Luminous Brownies

I was in Tesco getting some shopping today and made the fatal mistake of glancing at the £1 section.

They often have great bargains in there, we pick up all our glue and pens from those boxes, and a few other things besides.

Today, they had high visibility vests in yellow or in pink, ages 4-7 and 8-11. They were £1.50 each - sometimes Tesco do put stuff over £1 in that section, though it is always a bargain. They look like the ones in this pic, though this isn't from the Tesco site.

So, I snapped up 24 for the Brownie unit. I'm planning to get the 16 going to Legoland to wear them so they should be nice and easy to spot and I definitely plan to use them when we go to London again in the future.

Oh, and when I got home after my son's swimming lesson, the Legoland tickets had arrived. So those are safely filed away ready for our trip in November!
I've also doled out the paperwork for the Christmas weekend away, 4/6 girls live within walking distance, one lives in my house and one was on the way to my son's swimming lesson anyway.
Nothing to do for this week's Brownies - Lion is leading for the next few weeks as we work on the Science Investigator badge.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Santa weekend

Got the paperwork and Parrot are taking 6 Brownies to a Santa weekend just before Christmas - here [a PDF file]

Two forms each for the parents plus a kit list. I also have emergency contact forms and registration forms, plus accounts for the trip.

But it'll be worth it - my current licence only lets us go away one night at a time, though we can go, for example 10am Sat to 4pm Sun with that. But when we go somewhere like London, it'd be nice to be able to stay two nights and pack more in. So this is a chance for me to see if I can manage two nights away with them and then maybe go for my own longer licence.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Gave them badges

I forgot to say, the girls got badges yesterday. They were all given a climbing one for doing the climbing wall.

I ordered it from Design It, a US company - they don't do delivery to the UK, well they do but it's ridiculously out of proportion to what you are ordering, so a friend in the US kindly let me send them to her then she sent them on to me.

I've ordered a couple of times from them, they have a badge for pretty much every occasion and the girls absolutely love them. And with the US/UK exchange rate, they still work out good value even with shipping to a friend then shipping on to me included.

My only stipulation is that they put them on the back of their uniform, so that we keep the front for all the great UK badges that they earn. It's not a problem if they don't, so it's more of a guideline than a stipulation really.

They also got an Archery Try-It. This is a Council's Own (ie the Girl Scout council for that area created it for their girls and chose to sell it outside their area) from the Girl Scouts of Beaver and Lawrence County.

I emailed them and asked if it would be ok if our girls earned it and they were happy to let us. They sent them to me, and even though they sent Junior Girl Scout badges by mistake and I had to return them and get the Try-Its sent, they were really helpful through the whole process.

Again, I asked the girls to put them on the back of their uniforms if possible, but as this is an earned badge, rather than a participation one, if they put it on their sleeves or on the front it's not a problem.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Sooooo much fun!

Who is that abseiling down a climbing wall? Why, that would be me!

We had SOOOO much fun today. We got there really early as I'd allowed lots of time for traffic so were able to go straight to the activity we were originally scheduled to do last, which meant we could get home a little earlier.

So the girls had an hour of tobogganing on a dry ski slope - a biiiig hit with them. We don't get a lot of snow here in Warwickshire so what to me would have been so dull at age 8 or 9, because I grew up in Scotland and sledged loads of times, was thrilling for them.

Next was climbing and abseiling which they all got a lot out of - there were some that scuttled up the cliff and hated abseiling down, others that took ages to get up then bounced happily down, those that loved both - we didn't get anyone who hated both! Most of them loved this so much that they are planning their next birthday party here!

Finally, archery. Now, this hasn't long been an activity for Brownies, it used to only be allowed from Guide level up. I have to say, we did have some struggling. 8/10 girls needed a size 12 bow, but three of the four size 12s were broken. So the 8 girls who needed it had to take turns, not ideal at all. 2/10 used size 16, but we made them take turns along with the others to be fair. So I have to be honest and say it was a shame we finished the day on this event, as it was the least successful. I can't quite bring myself to say Brownies shouldn't do it, because they did do well when they got their turn, for the most part anyway. But some were struggling even with the 12lb bow, so it wouldn't have been an unqualified success even if we had enough 12lb ones.

Overall - a big hit with the girls and they would love to do it again.

There were other activities there, like ski-ing, snowboarding, canoeing, that would be great fun for a birthday party. The rules in the Guiding Manual for these activities were too prohibitive for me to do these, but that doesn't rule out some of them trying them another time as "civilians!"

outdoor fun

Off for a day of abseiling, climbing, archery and tobogganing with 10 of the older Brownies...will report back afterwards!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Olympic Games

The girls were France, Greece, Australia and USA this week (their choices) for an Olympic Games.

They picked the games, we had the obvious running, relay etc and then some of their favourites: egg and spoon, sack race and so on.

We also had two cracking games they love - Kangaroo Hops (they dress as kangaroos - we have left over ears and tails from a party we threw to say goodbye to a leader, Guide and Brownie when they moved to Oz) and Welly-Whanging. We welly-whanged as part of their Adventure On badge last summer and it went down a storm so they all did it again.

It was great fun and wrapped up their Right to Work Together badges nicely, though there was a falling out between two of the very oldest girls, something spilling over from school. I feel we were very ineffectual dealing with it, if we have a squabble at Brownies it's not hard to deal with but when it is something building over a few days at school and we are just a 90 minute part of it, it's harder.

I also gave out 3 Right to Be Me badges that were ordered before the summer so were owed from a while ago, and 8 Meet an Author badges for the girls that met JK Rowling.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Lidl manager thinks I am mad

A Brownie email list I post on had lots of people excited because Lidl (low cost supermarket) had their own brand trangias in (google trangia to see what it is, it's a way of cooking). They were very excited and I was thinking it could be a good way to get my Brownies doing some basic cooking as we have no access to the school kitchen.

Went to Lidl on Sunday, they had 5 in stock, I bought all 5 thinking one for each six and one for the Guiders. Then I went back to the list and searched on trangias to see how to use them, what tips people had...

Nearly every post said they wouldn't have Brownies using them unless it was on a one to one basis, and those that didn't say that said that there needs to be something left to entice them to Guides! They went on to relate the problems of Guides burning hands on handles "they only do it once!", and flames shooting up due to the cooking fuel used. How did I blank out all that when I was reading the excitement about them being on special offer?

So, as I am a great believer in pushing the boundaries for Brownies but not into Guide territory, I marched back to Lidl after work on Monday and returned 4 out of 5 (I want to try it out anyway, to get myself familiar). I'd got funny looks buying 5 in the first place, now I got even funnier looks returning 4 of them.

To their credit, there was no quibbling and because I hadn't even opened them, they just stacked them up for resale.

Memo to me: read all the posts about something before dashing out and buying 5.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Go [where we live]!

Just back from a division event called Go [insert name of our town here]!

Only two Brownies from our unit went, mostly because we have a BIG trip planned next weekend, but we were among 200 Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Senior Section from across the division.

We went round the town to: the police station, the Frank Whittle memorial (inventor of the jet engine), the town church, the Guide shop, the museum and back down the high street looking at the blue plaques as we went. Then we finished with chips. And we all, even the leaders, got a badge.

Really enjoyed it and I do feel I, and the girls, learned a fair bit about the town where we live.

Rainbows had a simpler route, and Guides got to see a mock trial courtesy of the magistrates court. It was a good way to learn about the town, and with everyone in uniform, we were highly visible, I gave the division commissioner's phone number out to two families who asked how to join.

Friday, 14 September 2007

New assistant!

Our Brownie pack has a new assistant, starting in two weeks time!
One of our AGs, who has been with us since we started in Dec 2004, will emigrate to Canada next July, and our UH will stop coming once his daughter goes to Guides in September next year, though he may become their UH instead. The AG is also less keen on our outings and overnights.
So at the back of my mind has been that our 4 adults will be down to 2 at the end of the school year. Coupled with the fact that the other AG prefers not to have to come every week, as she is also AG for the Guide unit following on, and that we have lost our YL to university...
The first mum I asked to consider it nearly bit my hand off and asked to go straight into uniform! She dubs herself one of life's Wing Defences - she'll back up anyone who asks, she just doesn't want to be a Wing Attack.
So now all we need to do is think of a name for her, to go with our animal theme!
(AG = assistant guider, UH = unit helper, YL = Young Leader)

No badges

Think I will have to forget the badge idea, though we have 22 Brownies and adults going, we only have 8 Guides and adults joining us, which means I have only taken in 67% of what I need to cover the cost of the coach.
Just to break even on the coach, the Brownie Unit that is joining us would need to take 15 places, which is unlikely, they're more likely to take 10 or 12. So it looks like we may have a loss on the trip, which is ok, we can afford it, but I can't add the cost of badges to it.
I will see if anyone else wants to go, but it's unlikely, as it is the same weekend as Leader Training, so most leaders won't want to give up Sunday as well as Saturday.

Never mind, another time!

Working Together

Another great meeting last night, the new Brownies worked on their Becoming a Brownie books, the existing Brownies carried on with the Right to Work Together and really participated well. In groups of five, they worked round five tables. One table had string on to tie a reef knot. Another had a triangle drawn on a piece of paper to cut out. Another had blank paper to draw a triangle, a circle and a square. Another had building blocks. And the last had a picture of a squirrel (random, I know) to colour in. The trick was, they had to link arms as a five, and only the girls on each end could use their free hand. They swapped for each table so everyone got a go, and they really did well - one team tied a reef knot as quickly as if they were doing it individually. Another team tied something that did not resemble a reef knot, but they tried!
Then we did Global Footprints, where they had 10 environmental questions, about recycling, and water, and travel, and they had to mark down a footprint for the best answer, a footprint and a smog for a sometimes answer and two smogs if they did the worst thing. The chart has a second chart below, and they are to try and improve their footprints by next week. They are very knowledgable on the environment already, but I did shock a few of them over how awful plane travel is.
Then there were some running around games with the other two Guiders while I cleared up, and finally we had a Pow Wow at the end and planned Olympic Games for next week. They chose what countries they would be and chose all the events - though we did ban wheelbarrow races because someone ALWAYS gets hurt, without exception.
Oh, and they voted on which of the four new Brownie badges they would li
ke to do as a unit in November, choosing Healthy Heart.
The more I let them make decisions, the more inclined I am to let them make more decisions, they are a sensible bunch on the whole and choose to make the most of their time at Brownies.
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