Tales from the unit

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

And so, it arrived! The last night of the term and it finally wound up at the hall as usual because of wet weather which, of course, cleared up and mocked us………. we could have done the park, but it will keep.

With the help of 2 grandparents, a b-b-q was organised just outside the school hall and we made smoke, so much smoke, the signals were visible for a good distance – verified by at least 2 other parents.
Grandson, and brother of Brownie, was there too and strangely hid in their camper van the entire night – 9 years old and appeared scared, very scared of the horde of swarming Brownies.

Everybody was keen to have a go and we were happy to introduce burger flipping as an activity – every Brownie is now prepared for a Saturday job in McD’s. Of course, being our unit, something unusual had to happen, and it did!  For no apparent reason, worms started appearing everywhere, so whilst a couple squealed, other delightedly collected them and gave them names!

Whilst cooking completed, random games were organised – no names, no rules that anyone over the age of 18 could understand, enjoyment levels high.

And after burgers were eaten, drinks enjoyed and clearing up done, the meeting had passed in the flash of an eye.

At this point we, of course, blame the smoke entirely, as a few tears appeared in the eyes of Ellie and leaders as she prepares to leave us and move to Guides.  Ellie has been a particular character, full of energy and thrown everything she has into Brownies plus being a member of the town Pantomime Society.

Thank you and we will miss you too, but hope you have lots more adventures to look forward to.

So, with lots of hugs, gifts and thanks. The Unit year has come to an end, BUT September will be here in no time at all and it seems there is little fear that any of this gang will change their mind about Brownies.

Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Sea – The Sunday!

Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Sea – The Sunday!

After the usual quality of sleep which accompanies a sleepover – the whispering, visits to the toilet and, for Eagle Owl, the hourly squawk of the radio to check we were ok. Coffee o’clock before wake them up arrived all too soon.  A quick raid of the local McDonalds produced the necessary and after going through revival, it was time for lights up.

N brought a very serious complaint to Eagle Owl to start the day – yes, it is true, the leader team were accused of having moved the circus toilets to different corners during the night.  We were duly chastised for our naughtiness.

A circus ring is a great place to watch the Brownies develop their life and team building skills as a great view can be had of all, but by providing gentle advice and support where required but not jumping in, the Brownies did manage to do their own packing and clearing up – and now understand why we call things stuff sacks.

Breakfast in the ballroom with a little waltzing and posing was a fancy experience for all. A request for afternoon tea had to be politely declined as it was not felt at £25 a head, we had the budget for this experience for Brownies.

The 4d experience should provide earplugs for leadership teams as the screaming was extreme then the Tower was conquered.  With more screaming and shouting, glass floors were danced on, many stairs ascended and we even spotted Pendle Hill and waved home.  And, as all great trips have a mountaintop moment, a birthday girl made it to the very top deck, let go of my hand and did a victory wave – conquering a long held fear of heights.

A tour of the gift shop, is best not mentioned – but suffice it to say every leader knows the trauma of shopping with small yellow people.  Then after more birthday cake for elevenses, we moved swiftly to our final highlights.

Terrorising many on the promenade and even causing a performer to quake a little, meeting other guiding friends (by surprise) along the way, our determined little party made their way to Central Pier and the family arcade.

Clutching a small bag of 2p’s each, syndicates were formed and steely stares adopted as the Brownies set out to beat the machines! The level of seriousness in the largest casino’s in the world, can never match that of a small Brownie, determined to win a few coins and prize tickets and the enterprising even took advantage of tourists leaving their unwanted tickets behind – determined to amass wealth to exchange for ……………. plastic tat.

Negotiations on exchange of tickets reached levels that make the Brexit brigade look like rank amateurs – never have such serious decisions as plastic wiggly bracelet, glow in the dark wotnot or handful of sweets had to be considered.  So serious were debates that, as Granny Owl, phoned to say she was outside the Lifeboat Station with a McDonalds lunch for all, the party had to be split with some being taken to eat whilst others continued to contemplate. It would appear that the decisions took so long that toilet breaks had to be taken, other tourists lost the will to live and departed and the Owls with party B were wondering if sleeping bags would be delivered but Granny Owl eventually stormed down the promenade and retrieved them all.

Meanwhile, our favourite friends – the Blackpool Seagulls – had realised we were back in town. Swiping a burger from a leader, another from a Brownie and scoring a direct hit on Eagle Owl – they made their presence known.

All too soon it was time for the fun to end. Back to the Tower, baggage collected and coach boarded – the parents were advised we were on our way back.

Burnley bus station saw the parents reunited with tired, happy, grubby little Brownies all clutching their treasures (or tat) and at last the leaders were free to go and seek showers, and a strong drink.


I want to go on Brownie camp!! X

Thank you so much to all involved. N had a fantastic first sleepover and also thank you for making the time to make sure she was ok and letting her cuddle the bear after leaving us upset. I’m glad I pushed her to go because she wouldn’t have wanted to miss it xxx

P had a wonderful time and for making her birthday extra special, thank you so much

E had a brilliant time on her last ever brownie trip thank you so much!!

Thanks so much. G had a fab time. Sorry but she can’t come on Tuesday. Hope you a have a lovely summer break. Thanks for the hard work that you put into running Brownies. Our girls are very lucky!

Thank you to all you wonderful leaders. U do an amazing job and deserve a medal! The kids really do appreciate what you do running these clubs for them without reward but it’s the memories they will keep and share for years to come that makes it all worth while. Thank you.

C absolutely loved the sleepover! Thank you so much xx

Fantastic time. Thank you.

M absolutely loved her 1st sleepover, thank you so much for all the organising and effort you have put in for what will be a fantastic memory

Thank you so much you deserve a medal! M had an amazing time!!

Same time next saturday for another sleep over lol only joking
What his trying to say is thank you, L-R has had a fabulous time.

Don’t bother with the refund. Knock it off next term. L had an amazing time and has not stopped telling us her stories yet.

Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside! – The Saturday!

Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside! – The Saturday!

There’s a famous seaside town called Blackpool,
That’s noted for fresh air and fun,
And one Saturday in early July,
By unit, and pals, it was overrun!

Any tears at parting from mum (from one Brownie) were forgotten in less than 5 mins and a coachful of noisy Brownies headed for a sleepover in the circus ring.  Frequent calls of “Are we nearly there yet?” echo’ed around and Eagle Owl generated vague answers which satisfied (even if they translated as – “how do I know in this heavy traffic?”).

It was strange how Joscelin Owl knew the names of quite a few before we reached the Tower!  It couldn’t possibly be that some fidgets had to be named repeatedly en route, could it?

And, on arrival, after the first of many ascents up many stairs immediately following, of course, the first of numerous toilet invasions by the horde, the adventure started in earnest with the circus.  The Brownies really enjoyed it, whilst grazing on sweets, popcorn and pop; whilst Leaders’ toes were curling – how on earth did that acrobat get away with a Risk Assessment allowing all kinds of terrifying dangling from the ceiling area – minus a belay rope or safety net?

Naughty Eagle Owl had forgotten to tell the ringmaster of the 3 birthdays, but the girls rectified that themselves and got an announcement to say their naughty scout master had forgotten – sorry Scouts but we forgot to correct him.

Our next stop took us to Jungle Jim’s. With a glass roof on a warm day, the grown ups gently wilted in the heat whilst the mob ran around with great enthusiasm, appearing frequently with glowing red faces to drink more water.  They seemed unaffected, so we left them going in order to tire them out.

Tiring them out was a vain hope, so given the beautiful evening, it was time for a walk down to the beach where an hour and half passed in what seemed like seconds.  A sandcastle building contest demonstrated their womble like acquisition skills as, with no money, they acquired the buckets spades (and beer cans) that others had left behind to make their creations.  Leaders balked and confiscated the empty beer cans but felt the rest was fair game.  When castles were built, attention turned to digging the largest holes possible and running……………. and still there appeared to be no end to their boundless energy! It was great to be outside as their noise level was epic!

So back we went and headed down to the circus to prepare for our sleepover.  Eagle owl carefully explained the sleeping arrangements – all possessions in the middle, heads to the middle and feet pointing to the edge in a circle with the circus ring, being a perfect circle as guidance.  Naturally, this presented as wasted breath; we got a splat with heads aimed any which way!

Brownies ran round and round the circus, still with boundless energy. They got into sleeping bags/out of sleeping bags/lost their pyjamas/found their pyjamas and in one case, needed reminding 20 times or so that we were getting ready for bed as N chose to supervise everybody else “being helpful” whilst ignoring every instruction herself.

Supper was consumed and into sleeping bags they got!

Then, with 3 birthdays to celebrate, it was time for the great midnight feast – ok this may have been midnight in Paris, but it worked for us! C’est la vie!  Naturally, having gone a whole 20 minutes or so without food, the Brownies were ready for this.  Before we could light the candles (2 per girl) in a safe area, Eagle Owl had to radio for a member of staff from the Tower and the Leaders were somewhat amused when she turned up with six litres of water to extinguish the conflagration she thought we may cause!  But the candles were blown out, presents and food passed round and finally it was time to settle the Brownies for the night.  We guessed we might be doing something right when one of the birthday girls exclaimed, “This is the best birthday ever!”.

With a little bit of tweaking of sleeping arrangements and a conjuring trick, where the Brownie who had gone head first into a bag was extracated in entertaining fashion (think rabbit out of hat), peace finally fell upon the ring with just the odd bit of whispering here and there to be heard.

And so day 1 drew to a close!

We didn’t predict a riot!

We didn’t predict a riot!

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there comes the point when the Riot Act needs to be read – with a reminder about what Brownies is really about.  Perhaps we should have predicted it, after all a rainy old day had preceded the meeting, but still not what we want.

The evening started so well, a squirgle formed quite fast and the Brownies were engaged with finishing off their Disability Badge.

Never realised that the odd cartwheel assisted in the learning of the Brownie Promise in sign language, but as they did a very good job of it, clearly there has to be something in it!
They were so interested, we carried on with the alphabet and signed our names, and even learnt a few simple words!

So, surprising even ourselves, the badge was completed in an air of relative calm (if you ignore the 3 mins it took for them to come together to complete the task).

But that was never going to last……………..

The second half of the evening was games, organised by older Brownies as part of of their final Adventure Badge.  “Don’t like that game, it’s boring” uttered one before she even knew what was planned.  So duly the Brownies started to talk over the organisers etc and be awkward – gentle warning issued and calm ensued.

The leaders encouraged the Brownies organising and helped them identify a few little problems – signing a letter from the far side of the room is not visible even to one with good eyesight so shout the letter too and by and by a game of “Red Letter” was delivered fairly effectively.

Group 2 had decided to play Letters in the Dark – this quickly turned into Letters in the Light when they remembered it was daylight outside and, again, with a few warnings to the most riotous, the game was enjoyed.

Group 3 were invited to start their game, but at the same time, a riot broke out.  Not that they did not want to play the game, well they didn’t know what it was, but it was just one of those moments when, despite having been learning the promise again, manners flew out of the window.

The leaders decided enough was enough and the Brownies were reminded what their promise stood for. We talked about kindness, support and respect ………. and one or two still found it funny UNTIL Eagle Owl suggested that if they couldn’t be nice, she would cancel the sleepover this coming weekend.
At that threat, shock ensued and a full inspection of tonsils could be carried out with ease because the trip is the highlight of this term, what with 3 birthdays to celebrate and so, calm returned to the unit, who then played nicely until the end of the meeting.

Badges were distributed, last minute reminders for Saturday and a letter for an end of term park visit next week and, wondering how rowdy the rabble are going to be this weekend, the leaders headed home for a glass of something stiff.

(and picture chosen this week to show their “livelier” side when, on a recent trip to Blackpool Zoo, they discovered that (a) this ride gave 3 goes for the price of 2 and (b) with a little careful planning, 17 Brownies can ride at the same time.

Teams and Trips

The meeting was a tale of 2 halves.

In the main room Granny Owl and a parent ran (very noisily) an evening of team building and, against a backdrop of laughter, screaming, shouting and what sounded suspiciously like a large herd of elephants on a stampede, I ploughed ahead with the parents meeting as we prepare for our adventure.

The parents periodically leapt out of their skins when there was a particular outburst of noise and listened (as attentively as they could) whilst the joys of their little loves heading off on a night away were explained.

As the proverbial bundle of forms were circulated, parents filled them in with joy – not saying they are looking forward to their night off but they had come armed with all the suggested information and could not get those forms done fast enough.

They accepted, in a relaxed fashion that their precious little bundle is likely to be fairly feral whilst liberated from home and the chances are they will need dunking in clean water on their return home.
They have agreed to label all clothing with names so we do not do the ritual of spare knicker identification outside the bus station.
They recognise there is only so much tat (err, souvenir shopping) they wish their offspring to do and will limit pocket money.
They understand packing light, very light, would be advisable as the owls do not intend to carry huge bundles of personal possessions for several little yellow people up numerous flights of stairs at the towers.
Easiest parents meeting ever!

So back to see what the racket was about – the squirrels appeared to be wearing copious amounts of marshmallow, the badgers appeared to be eating raw spaghetti, the foxes appeared bemused by it all and the rabbits actually had got the hang of working as a team and had a spaghetti tower built and in every activity they had done, this appeared to be a trend.

Parents had waited, as there was no time to go home, and watched with fascination the issues of getting their cherubs into a circle – they even started shouting encouragement! And a collective cringe as Bells was sung in 5 different keys – but at least they were agreed on the words!!!!

So another night survived (after some adult work on marshmallow removal from floor work – I mean, why work on the newspaper when there is a perfectly good floor next to it?) and a lot of prep to do in the next 10 days or so as we prepare to take The Unit on their sleepover.

Water Water Everywhere!

Water Water Everywhere!


It may have been a hot, hot night but we were on a mission!
A mission to get that Agility badge finished and, knowing we had plans for something cooling, we ploughed ahead with the aerobic dance session.

After some patient raising of the hand, a toot of the whistle and a slightly raised voice, the rabble gabbled in a squirgle and found out what was going on.

With a view from the rear, it was entertaining to see the total lack of co-ordination and dancing in the wrong direction – and that was just Granny Owl!  One reluctant dancer decided a bit of ballroom at the rear was the way to go with me, so we waltzed round the hall, dancing against the rhythm belting out.

After 10 mins or so of giving this our best, it was time to call time and move on to something else. Barn Owl had been busy quietly filling water balloons and as the playground/field were reached, they were despatched quicker than a camera could leave a pocket, so buckets and sponges become the new tools of choice.  E demonstrated an amazing skill to remain surprising dry, whilst emptying buckets over others. Our Young Leader learnt a vital lesson, never wear a black bra under a white blouse if you are going to join and get wet.

It quickly became a competition as to who could get the wettest and there was no calling time on this competition so all too soon, parents arrived and had to extract (whilst trying to stop laughing), their yellow one from the pack. It was noted that several parents quickly got rather wet as well.

However, one amazing fact had to be seen to be believed. Whilst the Owls walked up and down through the battle, they appeared to be wearing their invisibility cloaks as miraculously nobody chased them and they remained amazingly dry.

Just goes to show how a few £££’s can provide a lot of fun!

Fun in the Field

Fun in the Field

Back from their holidays, unlike most units who appear to enjoy sharing what they did on our holidays, pow wow centred around a theme of “who got the worst wound on holiday”.  It was not helped by N, who kept sticking two fingers up at everyone in a most unfortunate way, to show the injuries suffered by shutting her fingers in the car door!  Granny and Eagle Owl were keen to end the blood fest extravaganza and so ushered them on to the planned activities.

Undeterred by the dark grey sky, threatening rain at any minute, the unit were once again going out in the playing fields to enjoy the out of doors and do activity towards their Agility badge. The range of activities seemed fairly simple; parachute games, ball games, sack racing and an introduction to the game of boules. It quickly became apparent that the leader wear should include a deluxe range of protection wear, particularly a tin helmet (as directional skills were somewhat lacking for many of the ball throwers).

Boules, in particular, was a fantastic challenge – the Foxes clearly thought they should be used like grenades, the Squirrels squealed at regular intervals, the Rabbits were fantastic at hitting the tree and the Badgers definitely favoured the fast spin bowl method of Freddie Flintof.  Despite the numerous new and “interesting” techniques, the game was very popular and no injuries were suffered (despite the one who tested boule weight by dropping on it on her bare foot…….). We are still unsure why we had to keep reminding them to put their shoes back on whilst on the field, we are still confused why they further did not get the connection between wet feet and wet grass, we still do not understand why M felt that you could only do any activity properly after swinging in a tree but despite all the odd behaviour, it is fair to say they had a great time and want to do it all again.  As the meeting drew to a close, it was time to round them up and herd them inside, with a long wait for N to get her shoes on whilst still using an unfortunate gesture to explain she was struggling as she could not use that hand. She did think the owls were a bit unsympathetic but perhaps it was because they had seen how well the hand worked when raiding a bag of sweets.

And so, we ushered them home – swapping Brownie jackets, reminding parents (yet again) names help and wondering why one thought a smell test the best way of finding her own.


Carol’s tales from the unit

So we started with a few minutes which were somber as so many of our kids have been to the MEN Arena and the older sister of one of our members had been there, but no panic so clearly those who have spoken to them earlier have done well – a defiant attitude instead that we will not be beaten by terrorists and a show they understand what they should do in an emergency.

Getting past an unusual situation we got the main business of the evening – the photo challenge walk, stroll, amble well one degree up from stationary! Enjoyed the fresh air and exploration with the high spot being the discovery of – the dead rat!!!!! Oh the joy to discover a genuine corpse!

Moving on, R wanted to demonstrate that nettles don’t really sting……….. experiment failed and out with the anthisan so instead the next stage of the walk was exploration of camouflage by deploying large quantities of “stickybob” weed, as the Brownies like to call it. To finish the look, one even managed to roll in the only mud for miles around!

After 1/2 hour of meandering, we approached the playground and as I went first, the 5 young teenagers politely told me to f-off as it was their spot and nobody else was welcome. Strangely, as my tail of c.34 individuals then rounded the corner, they started to reconsider. With a look somewhat reminiscent of the old St Trinian films – the little yellow ones gathered both pace and volume, hurtling towards the playground with great joy. The teenagers started to waver more and suddenly, they legged it as fast in the opposite direction as the little yellow ones approaching! We had no trouble on the playground!

All too soon, it was time for us to walk/amble well yeah, return at snail’s pace to school and a check through their quiz showed some “interesting” results to say the least – we were particularly impressed with the one who was perfectly clear that she had seen Blackpool Tower! That would require a major seismic shift!

So now to a 2 week holiday, where instead, I will be exploring Edinburgh with some of the larger blue ones for a few days!

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