Saturday evening saw The Unit head to the theatre for the panto. As the swarming throng took over the foyer, Owls had to move speedily to get them shifted to seats and the munching of the snacks commenced.
The Unit, apart from the singing and dancing, were unusually quiet – absorbed in a great performance and the munching of their many snacks (well it is hard work being entertained), only moving to demand the Owls gained familiarity with every set of toilets in the building.
The interval saw the marshalling of the mob for the great ice cream debate but they were moved through without too much delay, much to the amusement of many other members of the public.
And perhaps it shows how we can become, as leaders too concerned about how The Unit may impact others as compliment such as “delightful”, “amusing” and well-behaved” were passed along from many.
Tuesday came and the meeting saw smaller numbers than usual; a birthday party and heavy snow outside, both conspiring to keep people away.
However, with a little juggling of plans the new sixers and seconders were announced, new sixes formed and new names chosen! A move back to the traditional with Imps, Elves, Pixies and Gnomes.
Fun with straws and elastic bands followed, taking up much more time than was expected as each Six attempted to build a freestanding tower, as tall as M (one of our smallest Brownies) and balance a marble on top. M showed much humour and good grace as called on repeatedly to check tower height, a fact which much amused the Owls when she was being asked for comparison against a Tower barely higher than the height of their ankles; and so it was decided by all that M should look after the Brownie doll for the coming week.
So, hopefully (or not – as it was quite peaceful), back to our usual large numbers next week as we plough on with our adventures.
So a new year and not to be outdone by the national Government, the Unit set about completing, belatedly, their Parliament Week activities (that week got a little chaotic as Eagle Owl’s mum had died that morning and she was not able to be there).
In a Pow Wow, the Unit worked on trying to remember where they were up to – and strangely every food activity was at the forefront of their memories but, after a little delving, we eventually got there.
A lively debate ensued as the Brownies decided how Members of Parliament got their seats – walking seemed a perfectly sensible suggestion to many!
But, bit by bit, we worked out that there are elections and the great vote for the Sixers and Seconders was introduced. The first activity was to decide what qualities were needed for a good Sixer or Seconder and quite good lists were prepared although, strangely, many did not see it as part of the role to encourage ALL to help with the tidying up after activities, but rather to just do the job themselves (the Owls soon corrected that view).
Knowing what was expected, the nominations were then made for each role and, whilst the rest of the Brownies played a game of cup stack, the nominated Sixers prepared for their speech as to why they would be a good sixer. After 5 minutes, each prospective candidate stood up and gave a short speech as to why they thought they were the person for the job. At this stage, we closed the shortlisting and several candidates were eliminated from the process as not being ready for the job (the Owls, thankfully, agreed with the names and the reasons).
By this time, the meeting was already hurtling rapidly towards a conclusion and there was no time for the Seconders to speak so Eagle Owl explained (several times) how to vote and, duly, the Brownies went to the ballot to make their choices. Only one spoiled paper and a decision has been reached – one which the Owls are also comfortable with (if anybody alleges any interference/manipulation with the outcome, this will of course be duly denied) and thus, the new Sixes will be formed next week – with those characters who work better in separate Sixes, duly placed apart and to ensure that it is a nice fresh start, new Six names will also be chosen.
A badge finished and with a positive reception from all involved!
Next to pantomime!
So the Unit has broken up for the year and the Leaders have a period of down time to refresh, before planning gets underway for the new year and it is back into action with enthusiastic gang.
But last night, Eagle Owl put her tree up and, as she added the decorations, it was a reminder of why volunteering with guiding is so great.
As baubles came out of their wrapping and were added, memories flooded back crossing the years.
The small felt sewed robin reminded of a session of sewing with many, many Brownies and the repeated patience of re-threading many a needle. There were times when the Owls with that group wondered if there would ever be an outcome, but eventually and triumphantly, success was achieved.
A felt tree brought back memories of why pva glue could not be left in the boot of a car in sub-zero temperatures – it took bravery to thaw enough in order that the bling could be added.
Looking at more and memories of great guiding trips came back – friendships made that will last for ever – Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Washington DC, Scotland – all were guiding trips filled with laughter and joy.
Of course, some are family memories too and remind of those who are both still with me, but others whom I have lost. But even on family holidays, a guiding shop was often sought.
So at this time of year, if you have not yet volunteered, consider the joy that working with enthusiastic youngsters can bring – join us and give young people great memories, but along that journey add to your own joy too.
Guiding is a great adventure and there are children out there, desperate to be a part of that but lack of leaders means that many have to wait.
Yes, Guiding is focused on the young people but what a leader gets out of it in the way of memories as they make the fun, challenge the girls, see them grow in confidence and skills are gifts beyond value.
Make your new year pledge one that will make a difference and join us in the great guiding adventure.
Twas all quiet at the alley when at once, through the door,
The Unit did burst and fill up all the floor.
A mum bravely made teams,
And spread them around,
Much racket was to be heard,
As balls flew around.
The sweet machines tingled,
The Brownies all mingled,
Drinks and slushies abounded,
And yet more noise sounded.
And yet the staff beamed,
Or at least, so it seemed,
Saying The Unit was lovely
………. We have no words for that!!!!!!
An hour flew by,
And at last, with a sigh,
Twas time for goodbye,
But sure Christmas will fly!!!!!
So that was our night at bowling – noisy and fun, chaos but great.
Many presents and hugs were exchanged and we said goodbye to L for the last time as she moves on up to Guides in the new year.
But with things already in the diary, more planning to do, no time yet for the Owls to rest because – before we know it – it will be the first meeting of the new year.
So, as the last meeting in our usual meeting place before Christmas, the foolish Owls had decided on a food based Christmas activity.
It is rare to do food 2 weeks running, but last week had been an unscheduled extra to test and even though they were still traumatised from that, the Owls gamely decided they would not be deterred from their original plan and let loose The Unit on the creation of their chocolate Yule Logs.
What could go wrong?
As eager Brownies started to hit the butter to soften it, using a methodology that would not have looked out of place in The Flintstones, other started to sort out the chocolate powder and icing sugar their groups would need – quickly resulting in a gentle, sweet tasting fog, starting to descend around the room. Yes, The Unit were demonstrating their usual ability to ensure a few ingredients could go an extra long way- both where intended and unintended.
Granny Owl smiled through gritted teeth as she encouraged one group to mix their ingredients together instead of shaking them around the room and Eagle Owl checked the Leader in Training and 2 Duke of Edinburgh volunteers were surviving as small, sticky Brownies, surrounded them – strangely they appeared to be enjoying this experience!
It had to be a miracle but the butter icing did emerge for each group from the fog and started to be applied – to the Yule Logs with many extra samples vanishing into Brownie mouths – they needed sustenance for this demanding activity.
In R’s corner, great progress was made and silently, as a team they proceeded to lick clean their bowl, spoons, and anything else that moved once they had decorated!
In another group, M was concerned that spare butter icing would go to waste and ensured that copious amounts were spooned around her Yule Log providing an “interesting” side decoration!
Sprinkles were applied to finish the Yule Logs, the tables, the chairs, the floor and the Leaders uniform – again it was amazing to see how these things appeared to multiply in volume.
By the time a deep clean had been carried out to the room – defeat was conceded where many chocolate covered Brownies were concerned and the parents removed them to deal with (strangely smiling), there were but a few moments left for a quick game, another promise and to distribute Christmas presents (it was felt it would be safer to distribute here than on the Christmas outing).
Parents gamely removed their chocolate covered children – and finally the Owls could breath following another week survived.
Sadly there was not a blog last week as Eagle Owl had a family issue and was unable to attend, so not a lot to report from Parliament Week.
However, tonight it was all hands on deck as the unit took on the challenge of doing some testing of the new Brownie programme – having read that sharp knives and graters were involved, you can bet that the Owls were going to hang on to some parents.
So, the business of the evening was introduced and the Brownies split into small groups to have some Fajita fun!
Under the beady eyes of the adults, the instructions were followed and by swift moving adult intervention, we believe we managed to get every Brownie through unscathed.
Although the avocados were ripe, one group felt that bludgeoning would be a better option than mashing – well they were going to be eating it, so who were the big people to argue. Possibly the uttered threat “Just keep hitting it with the thing, it will give up soon.” was enough to deter the rest of us from approaching!
The knife “skills” were slightly alarming but with close supervision, no fingers were lost.
As for the graters, we do hope the parents who loaned theirs are able to resurrect them.
All the Brownies had great fun, although there is some doubt as to whether we will be entering any of them for Masterchef at any time in the near future and after some considerable time, fajitas were prepared and ready to sample.
At this point, division occured – those who liked, and those who would not try but were sure they would not like it but not all was lost, those Brownies took home their delicacies to parents who had not been present to sample – lucky parents!!!!
The battle of who got to sweep the floor then followed, as this has become a new interest of many! The owls left them to work it out themselves because they were not shouting for help and sometimes it is better left to them to resolve.
And thus, having survived the main activity, a squirgle was formed and 4 new Brownies made their promises, followed by Crystal Owl as a next step in her leadership journey.
With time for a quick game (who knows really what it was but it was fun), another week drew to a close.
A journey to find out a little of how Brownies have changed over the years was the plan for tonight, with members of the Trefoil Guild invited (as part of the Trefoil Guild Challenge) to talk to the Brownies about their times as a Brownie and Leader.
As our guests arrived, any attempt at decorum failed when the cry went up “Urgh, M has dog poo on her shoes”, followed by C wailing “and now I have it all over my hands!”
The Owls scattered – to clean the floor, to clean the hands, to clean the shoes whilst Brownies demonstrated their ability to utter sounds of revulsion; each more loudly than the other!
Meanwhile (having taken along the old uniforms), the TG members decided the pre-68 ties needed doing more neatly……… then discovered they had actually forgotten how to do them. With a bit of panic, the situation was resolved.
The Unit sang the opening song beautifully and played a game, then we sat down to listen to our guests – interspersed by L stating that M’s shoes still stank!
As the talk progressed, photographs were shared and Brownies were firstly dressed in the uniforms that our visitors would have worn themselves as Brownies and Guides.
As, slowly, every Brownie got to try on some sort of uniform for a period to cover roughly post WW2 to the uniform which preceded the current ones, our TG leaders even bravely volunteered to play a game from their Brownie days and the Brownies really enjoyed it. Rainbow parents seemed somewhat entertained as a crowd gathered to watch The Unit prancing around in the selection of Brownie wear.
Brownies were extracted from uniforms and a closing circle was held. It was astonishing to hear the TG members happily declare they would visit again (brave ladies indeed!).
And so, with a final chorus about smelly shoes, the Unit dispersed for another week.
The unit is on holiday this week and, contrary to the belief of many a Brownie, Leaders are not stored in cupboards but are real people – who have lives, families, jobs and other demands outside of Guiding.
It was just over a year ago when this Eagle Owl decided to try to the Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Challenge – aware that full time caring duties were taking up pretty much every other bit of her life when she was not Guiding, a simple challenge was undertaken – to set aside the time each day to get outside and do a walk of a mile for 60 days.
Does not sound a lot, but during that 60 days, her mum was taken into Blackburn Hospital 3 times very ill and fitting in the time was certainly very challenging – cue the midnight walk around the hospital perimeter to get the daily walk in!
So walking was done, money was raised and task was accomplished. Winter set in and the cold dark nights put Eagle Owl back to hiding away and being a rather lazy owl to be honest.
January came and mum once more was very ill, not expected to live more than a week or two and Eagle Owl was pre-occupied when she made a blase agreement to support her cousin in a 50km walk for MIND in September. The distance and challenge involved was not really considered and life revolved around care for mum, The Unit and church activities. A week or two later, mum was still hanging on when an equally blase agreement was made to walk 45km with Granny Owl in October to help raise funds to replace the Mother’s Union Caravan.
February came, mum rallied (and is still very much with us) and Eagle Owl had forgotten about the walks!
March 18! The pack hit the doormat and the reality hit home hard! A step on the scales told an accusing truth – fat and unfit! A Fitbit was purchased that evening on the way to Lancashire East Singing Circle as surely that would tell a different story – but no, the next few days it accusingly said “couch potato”.
Eagle Owl utilised the help of The Unit with them doing the Agility Badge to help her on her way to getting fit and grimly the walking commenced – slowly and surely improving fitness.
By May, confidence was increasing when letter 2 arrived – the Ascent – 370 ft climbs (and Eagle Owl had been doing flat walks!). A look showed the 1km walk to her house from the bottom was the same and grimly the hill, which became known as the hill of attrition, was tackled until Eagle Owl could get up in one continuous walk without feeling a sense of death. Pack 3 arrived and showed that, unlike her 1km walk, the ascent involved in the big walk was spread over the entire 50km.
September arrived and with the team (who have raised over £8,000 for MIND) the walk along the Thames Pathway was completed. It was great! A challenge completed in 9 hours 47 mins walking time (and energy to spare at the end). October saw the walk along the Leeds Liverpool – complete with the thickest mud ever seen, also completed in 9 hrs 30 mins.
So Leaders do have life outside of Guiding, but sometimes their challenges still have a Guiding link because it would be true to say there is a golden thread which runs from the point of starting the Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Challenge (only known about because of Guiding) to a far healthier Eagle Owl who can now outrun quite a lot of The Unit.
The Unit were quite lively tonight as the lure of a half-term holiday beckoned, but never ones to shy away from a badge, the Trefoil (tree-foil 3 leaf clover thingy according to the Brownies) Challenge continued to provide entertainment.
Using another section of the challenge and cunningly looking forward to Parliament week as well, the challenge was to create collages to “Remember, Remember the 5th of November”.
Asking the Brownies what bonfire night is about, we were confidently told it was when chap tried to blow summat up in London years and years and years ago. One pointed out the chap was called Guy Fawkes and after a little more effort, another volunteered it was the Houses of Parliament! Having laboured history enough for one evening, the collage material was produced and away the groups went.
With more feathers flying around the hall than could be imagined, the girls got to work on their pictures and some nice efforts were produced then time to clean up so R swept the floor lovingly ……….. then the rest shook the table coverings off ………. all over the floor (which was swept again and again and again).
Time for a game and the promise jigsaw relay was used.
One group sat in a tight huddle and controlled their dice, continuing shaking when a 6 was rolled and gathered their jigsaw quite speedily BUT never thought to try assembling until all the pieces were acquired.
The other group stood up, wandered around, threw the dice everywhere, brought it with them when they threw a 6 BUT had the gumption to assemble the jigsaw as they went along and by some miracle, actually won.
Our LiT then tried her hand at running her first game single handedly and survived ……. but strangely has now requested a whistle of her own. She is learning quickly the quirks and challenges of The Unit but can charm them into a near circle!
So a half term to recover now lies ahead.
Never a group to let the lack of a kitchen get in the way of a good food evening, the Unit ploughed on with their challenge and tonight was the Ready Steady Great British Pudding Off.
The Owls carefully divided the girls into teams, remembering to separate M, C and N in the hope that progress would be made and, led by the intrepid Sixers/Seconders, each team was issued with identical ingredients with which to create the dessert from heaven.
With a great deal of noise, the Sixes set to work. It quickly became apparent that one Six had, by stealth, liberated the blueberry supply from another Six without their knowledge and following remonstrations, the Owls redistributed again!
As this was completed, a disturbance was heard in the back corner and it became apparent that I and M (usually the best of friends) had decided that a Brownie punch up was in order – and it was not even as if we were trying the new boxing activity card out! It was settled and they continued work in an uneasy truce.
Ensuring the supply of sprinkles and cream were shared fairly, the desserts were eventually completed and it was time for a game whilst we waited for our Judge to arrive.
Chinese Whispers, to a backdrop of Granny Owl refereeing I and M round two, filled a gap and soon the Wellfield equivalent of Mary Berry, our very own Mrs Rainbow Leader, attended and the Brownies gathered round to await the verdict.
Questions were asked, sampling carried out and explanations (usually quite incomprehensible) of what the dessert was, were provided and a worthy winner was announced.
And so it was time to plate up the puds and pack the girls home (it felt safer as we had managed to tidy the hall by this time to let them spread the crumbs round their houses). This had to be accomplished round I and M round three – who were duly handed to a mum who looked vexed and stated ominously “they will be dealt with” and, after ensuring each Brownie apologised, carted them off home.
Another week of the challenge survived and awaiting next week’s Challenge adventure.