Tuesday, 26 May 2009

lemonade

I got a lemonade award from Kelloggsville - apparently I have an attitude of gratitude...well I am certainly thankful for the award, it was kind of you to think of me.

Very appropriate too, given the tagline on my blog - if life gives you lemons, make lemonade; if life gives you Brownies, make Guides.

You can see the award down at the bottom of the right hand column.

See you all soon, I'm off to my homeland for a few days, to catch up with parents, siblings, nephew and a really good friend from uni days. My parents do have t'internet but I don't tend to access it much, mainly to give me (and you) a break but also because the computer is in the room my daughter uses when we are there so I can't access it of an evening.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

five in ten million

Our five newest Brownies took their promises this week - 4 while on a tyre swing and 1 at the top of a slide, they do love choosing their own place to take it!

That makes them each one in ten million - that's the number of members of WAGGGS: World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. They liked hearing that - by taking their promise, they are one in six (member of their six), one in 24 (member of our Brownies), one in 4200 (number of Brownies in our county), one in 600,000 (number of members of Girlguiding UK) and also one in ten million.

Ooh, and I spoke to the local Beaver Scout leader, my son is going to be offered a place this summer to start in September. Yay!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

We're going on a dinosaur hunt

I have to give full credit for this poem to a scouter known as Kastor on the escouts forum.

You can see his original Scout version there, I've tweaked it slightly to make it Guiding for this blog:

Going on a dinosaur hunt.
And I'm not afraid.
There's a Blue Rule*
Can't go under it.
Can't go around it.
Guess I'll go over it.

Going on a dinosaur hunt.
And I'm not afraid.
There's a Guiding Myth.
Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Guess I'll ignore it.

Going on a dinosaur hunt.
And I'm not afraid.
There's some lack of communication.
Can't go over it.
Can't go around it.
Guess I'll fight through it.

Going on a dinosaur hunt.
And I'm not afraid.
There's a District Meeting!
Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Guess I'll go in it.

It's dark and spooky in here.
It's cold in here!
I feel some scales.
I feel some big teeth!
OHH! It's full of Dinosaurs!

Run out of the District Meeting,
Fight the lack of communication,
Ignore the Guiding Myth,
Avoid the Blue Rule,
Run to Guide Hut,
Open the door,
Carry on Guiding.

I went on a dinosaur hunt,
And I wasn't afraid!


*For non-Guiders, a blue rule is a rule about the girls' safety that we absolutely cannot break. Most of the Guiding manual is guidance, but blue rules must be followed.

Political leader joins the Brownies

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg visited some Sheffield Brownies last weekend.

Somehow, I can see David Cameron doing this too, but I can't see Gordon Brown doing it!

Slight niggles with the article, I wonder if the person who wrote it even went to the photo op, or if they just had to write it from the picture.

You don't sleep in dorms because it's too wet for camping, you either book camping or the dorms, if you book camping and it's too wet, you'd be flippin lucky for the dorms to be free, or on most campsites, for there to even be dorms.

And it says the girls were earning more badges to stitch on their sleeves - while my Brownie unit do put their badges on their sleeves, it's clear from the picture that those ones must have gilets or more likely sashes because none of them have badges on their sleeves in the picture.  I think the writer was thinking of the days the Brownies wore brown long-sleeved dresses.

I did tell you they were slight niggles!

Lucky Brownies though - that looks like a great weekend away!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Chief Guide

The Scouts have a new Chief Scout, Bear Grylls. He'll take over from current Chief Scout Peter Duncan in July - who I got to meet briefly in February last year.

I know we are a celebrity-obsessed culture, but I have seen how having a well-known Chief Scout has helped to boost the Scouting profile over the last few years, and I am sure Grylls will do an even better job. So I'd love to see Guides do the same to boost our profile during our Centenary.

A few sportswomen spring to mind: Denise Lewis, Kelly Holmes and Tanni Grey Thompson would all be great and very inspirational figures. Despite Scouts choosing a former Blue Peter presenter last time, I'd rather we didn't do that - Anthea Turner is over-exposed, Konnie Huq and Zoe Salmon keep taking their clothes off and talking about how clever they are...ooh, Diane Louise-Jordan maybe?

It should be someone who can get a message across, and is adventurous, to show just how much fun Guiding can be, and how we really are not sitting around doing timid things every week while the Scouts have fun outside. We're out there: camping, cooking, abseiling, raising hundreds of pounds for charity, meeting famous authors...and that's just my unit! 

Monday, 18 May 2009

Back in business

After a rubbish Friday, I'm back on an even keel.

Got two promise badges this morning, courtesy of the very kind lady at Solihull Guide Shop.

And got my car back, with a new engine cooling fan and processor - £387!!!!!!!! That does include degassing and regassing the aircon as it was connected, and labour as well as the extremely large part, but oh my!

PS: That's not actually my car, it is that colour but it is NOT that shiny!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Never was there a tale of more woe...

Than me...and my Friday-o.

Went into town to get 2 Brownie promise badges - our 5 newbies are ready and want to take their promise next week and I discovered this morning I only had 3 badges.

Local depot didn't have any! Pretty basic thing to have, I think, it's not like I wanted a size 29 hoodie or anything.

Picked up some shopping and drove home, put the shopping away and my car's fan was still going. Left it a bit, but 30 mins later it was still going. Tried turning the car on and off, the air con on and off, even went for a little drive round to drop off some letters but no.

So I drove to my favourite car repair place but they reckoned it was electrics so they sent me into town again to the sole electrics place nearby. Who were swamped with work so the best they could do was disconnect the fan so the battery won't go flat, they can't even look at it till tomorrow and if a part is needed that they don't have, it'll be Monday.

I can't even drive to the other nearest Guiding shops to get the badges as both of the other ones in the county are open Sat morning and there's no way we can manage that and the sports the kids need to be taken to which usually takes me and husband in two cars but can just be done in one if we swap over fast! So I tried calling the national Guiding store to ask if they could get 2 badges to me by Thursday and they said no chance, it's 14 days dispatch just now!

My final attempt was to call one of the other Guiding shops to leave a message to ask if they could send 2 out - I was lucky enough to catch someone in even though the shop was not open and she's going to send them out to me, what a superstar.

That just leaves the car - fingers crossed I get it back tomorrow even if late on, as otherwise I will need to ask for Monday off and go in on Friday instead as I can't get there without a car.

Update - car needs a whole motor-fan thing, part won't be in till at least Monday. :-(

Thursday, 14 May 2009

I promise I will do my best

The British Brownie promise:

I promise that I will do my best:
To love my God,
To serve the Queen and my country,
To help other people
and
To keep the Brownie Guide Law.

The Brownie Guide Law is: A Brownie Guide thinks of others before herself and does a good turn every day.

Now, while we have changed the promise to be "my God", to more widely reflect religions other than Christianity (it used to be do my duty to God), Girlguiding UK is adamant you must have some belief or be trying to have some belief to take your promise. There's a lot of leaders who will not take their promise, as they are atheists and won't compromise that.

In Canada, they're thinking of dropping the God bit entirely:

Current Guiding Promise:

''I promise to do my best,
To be true to myself, my God (or faith) and Canada;
I will help others,
And accept the Guiding Law.''

The two options:
''I promise to be true to myself, live the Guiding Law, and take action for a better world,'' or
''I promise to be true to myself, my community and Canada. I will help others and accept the Guiding Law.''

What do you think? And other Guiders, am I right in thinking that to be a member of WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) you have to include God in the promise and countries have been kicked out for not including it?

Monday, 11 May 2009

Cooking

Had a great day cooking with the Brownies yesterday. It's the one thing we can't do in our meeting place as the school kitchen is off limits. 

We borrowed equipment from our sister Guide unit, who have loads of camping gear and off we went to a Guiding campsite with plenty of outdoor space plus a kitchen and toilets.

There were 19/23 Brownies, 1 Guide, 2 Young Leaders, 4 Guiders and 2 parent helpers, so 28 of us in total.

The 8 oldest Brownies cooked sausages, mash and peas outdoors, the 6 middle Brownies baked cookies and decorated them and the 5 youngest made fruit salad.

They ate every scrap - we made 95 sausages (including 10 pork for the girls who can't have beef and 3 soya for the vegan) and there wasn't one left, all the mash and peas went, all the cookies, all the fruit salad.

We had a lovely sunny day, in fact I should have had them all bring sun cream but as it rained all last week, I didn't think of it!

(Pic deliberately blurred to hide Brownie identities)

Sunday, 10 May 2009

120 Brownie badges

And what I really want to know?

What are the 4 badges they DIDN'T get?

Friday, 8 May 2009

I have to big up Smitkits


I've never used Smitkits before, but they were doing 50% off EVERYTHING by using a code in the run up to the bank holiday so I thought I'd place an order for Brownies since we have a sleepover coming up.

The website clearly said the offer ended last Monday so when I logged on last Sunday, I was really disappointed to find the code was invalid. I sent off a grumpy email and wrote it off as a bad job.

Then on the Bank Holiday Monday, I got an email back, promising that if I put a note in the box when I placed my order, the discount would be applied when the order was processed. Such fast and personal customer service, considering it was a bank holiday, and just what I wanted to hear, so I went ahead.

Today the order came, complete with 50% discount, which makes it fantastic value! They do the items in kits of 5, 6 or 20 so you can order the amount you need for groups, so it's already good value, but the discount really made it a bargain.

We got:
  • Bear badges (20)
  • Bear and heart bookmarks (20)
  • Boxes with stars (18)
  • Brownie bead bracelets (20)
  • Heart key rings (20)
  • Some brushes and paint palette trays
  • A tiny little doggy for spending a certain minimum amount.
So pleased, not just because of the 50% off but it all seems great quality too. All the paint needed is included, and all the glue. Some of the kits have brushes, some don't, but I bought extra brushes so we have enough for everyone in a regular meeting.

I'll definitely shop there again - and apparently spread the good word as well!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Semaphore

Very quiet week at Brownies - 6 were on their school residential. The 5 newbies worked with the Guides on their promise which meant we had 5 adults to teach 12 girls semaphore, it meant we could really work hard on it, which was great.

All 12 could spell their names by the end, and most could also do Brownies. It really highlighted different teaching methods among the 5 of us too - the one who is going to train to be a teacher did really well with her girls, great communication!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Wales - it's all lambs and ice cream

So I told you a little about what Wales was like with my Brownies, this post is more about the parts of Wales that we visited.

We stayed near Abergele - up in the North of Wales. I have to be honest, on the way there, we went on the M6 then down the M56 and after that I spent so much time watching the road and the Tomtom, I didn't take in much of what I saw.

We stayed in a Girlguiding property: Ty Clywd, about 5 miles from Abergele. It was in a beautiful setting in a village called Llanfair Talhaiarn. The Tomtom told us we were there and we clearly weren't so we pulled over next to a man working on his plants - he took one look at us and said "Guiding?" We clearly weren't the first people to pull over and ask, we were only about 500 metres away and it was kind of him to be so patient with us!

The building was surrounded with fields and all day and night you could hear sheep and lambs bleating. It was lovely, even though I live in a fairly green county, we still are not in the countryside by any means so it was great for the girls to have the contrast to every day life.

On Saturday we made use of a nearby walk to go out through the village and down to a small weir for our packed lunches. We were in a field with sheep, initially they stayed away from us but after a while one mum with two lambs tucked under came over to have a good shout at the group. We couldn't work out why she was so agitated but we were gathering up our things and as soon as we moved off, she and several other sheep headed straight for the water for a good drink. Clearly the warm weather was affecting them as much as us!

We crossed a narrow bridge and climbed some very steep steps to reach the near top of our walk - one Brownie complained that it "stinks of ladybirds up here" which wasn't really the reaction we were expecting...what do ladybirds stink of anyway?

The rest of the walk was on road and a good opportunity to go over walking etiquette with the girls, many of whom just never go for walks at home, as evidenced by the cross section of footwear from walking boots through trainers down to a pair of red slipper shoes!

The drive back on Easter Monday was the real eye opener to Wales. Rather than take the same route home, we decided to head down via Llangollen and then Telford onto the M6 - it ended up taking the same amount of time but was so much more beautiful.

Within minutes of leaving the property, we were on the edge of a reservoir near Denbigh - breathtaking and if we'd had time, we would have explored. After that, as we drove to Llangollen, we kept passing beautiful scenery after beautiful scenery - roads with tall trees on either side, stretches of water, lambs gambolling everywhere...over and over we kept saying how glad we were to have driven back this way.

Before we reached Llangollen, we even passed a farm with buffalo! I looked it up afterwards: Rhug Organic Farm. We'd brought packed lunches, but if not, we would definitely have stopped there, there was a sign saying their takeaway was voted best in Britain. There were signs for kayaking and other water sports all along the way, very appealing and made us very sad we didn't have any time to play with!

The weather was glorious and we stopped in Llangollen to eat our packed lunches on the bank of the river. The girls and us took the chance to go down to the river and actually stand in it - there are lots of rocks, large ones so no real risk! We could see a steam train going down the side of the river...noted that down as another thing to do it/when we revisit the area as a family.

We wanted to press on and get home so after about 45 mins we headed back to the car, via a tourist shop that also sold ice creams - absolutely gorgeous ice creams. It was on Market Street, opposite the car park, on a corner, and the lady inside was very kind too, not minding our fidgety girls one bit.

After that, we headed back to England and home...but Wales left such a good, and unexpected, impression that I know we will be back, with Guiding or with family, or both!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Time travel

My Brownies are doing the Centenary Time Travel Challenge, created by a group of Northern Irish Guiders to help pay for a pack holiday in London.

So that end, so far we have:
  • Lent a Hand in 7 different ways
  • Learned about and coloured in the Union Flag
  • Learned and sang the National Anthem - this may shock foreigners, particularly Americans who are always pledging allegiance to their flag, but NONE of the girls knew it, it is so rarely used here.
  • Done Brownie Exercises from the 50s, very amusing, lots of bracing positions and fixing your smile.
We have still to:
  • Learn Semaphore - which I am particularly excited about it as I learned this as a Brownie
  • and if there's time, do compass activities.
And the 5 new girls are settling in well, 3 already know their promise, and they are fitting in very easily.

Friday, 1 May 2009

From how cool to how sad

I posted about the girl who is Lord Baden-Powell's great-great-granddaughter and has joined Brownies in Brisbane, so cool that 100 years after he created the organisation his relation is the newest member.

Here's a contrast - a Brownie pack with just one member!

They usually have 12-15 girls, this Easter 10 girls were ready to go to Guides and that has left just one seven year old, with three leaders.

It is sad, especially as the pack has been running for 20 years, but I think the best course, unless they get flooded with girls wanting to join after reading the article, would be to merge into another unit. The problem for most Guiding units in the UK is not enough leaders, rarely is the issue not enough girls! So I am sure those 3 leaders would be very welcome in another unit or even two.

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