Cancellation Station

Well... one of the things that I've learned in Scouting is that things rarely go to plan.

Sometimes it's you being ill.

Other times it one of the sprogs chugging up his dinner just as you're about to start the activity.

But the past 3 weeks things have had to be changed at the last moment and each week having to cancel all or part of it (and I apologise that I haven't blogged the past three weeks, bad Scotland! I must do better in the New Year).
Three weeks ago then... cancellation 1.

It was thankfully a very easy week for us leaders. We had asked the kids what they had wanted included in the program and they had said that they wanted to go swimming. So we arranged to meet at the swimming pool in town; where the sprogs would have some fun in the pool, the leaders would hang out in the viewing gallery and then we would all walk back to the hall... potentially stopping off at McDonalds on the way back as a little treat.

... cause you know, us leaders can be nice like that


... yes we can be nice... shut up

That was the plan anyway, and we would have got away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids.
One in particular really. He'd got into into his head that he was getting picked up from the pool (which some of the others were), but from what we knew he was getting picked up at the hall. Well, we couldn't exactly leave for the walk to the hall until we had things straightened out.... time to phone his mum. No answer (like sods law would ever let things be that easy), by this point time was ticking away to when we had said that we would be back at the hall.

It was getting so close now that us leaders had to do a bit of jiggery pokery to get cars in the right place so we could drive the kids down to the hall and still maintain the child protection rules.

Turns out his mum had told him he was to walk home from the hall himself... he wasn't even getting picked up! Argh sprogs!

As for two weeks ago (and cancellation 2), well, for those of you that don't live in the UK we've had a bit of snow recently here. Ok, it might not be a lot by your standards, but we're not exactly used to snow here in the UK (at least not at any significant volume) so we don't have the infrastructure to deal with it. Given the highly unusual 8-10inches of snow that blanketed the UK and the Governments advice not to travel unless absolutely necessary, we decided that scouts wasn't 'absolutely' necessary.... so our night of baking was canceled entirely!

Which brings us to this Friday past.... and cancellation 3!

The plan had been to have a sleepover for the scouts, all very relaxed. Have some films on a projector, a couple of games consoles, let them bring some of their own games and toys and run a couple of games/activities to mix everything up a bit. We don't set a bedtime or lights out... just let them crash when they feel like it; tho if someone is trying to sleep then they have to respect that and keep the volume down. We do this instead of a Christmas party. They get so many Christmas parties everywhere else... and we like to be a bit different.

Shame that the overnight part of the evening had to be canceled!

We didn't have enough sprogs confirmed for the evening, so instead we put on a cinema night using the projector and screen that I had already arranged to get. We also treated them to some takeaway pizza and some other treats from proceedings from our bagpacking efforts.

It wasn't quite what we had in mind, but it was still a good night. Which brings an end to this term with the scouts!

Merry Christmas Sproggage 

Radio Interview

Hey there,

I had promised to get the audio of the radio interview that I did on here if I got it... well, my Dad managed to record it. So here it is!

Not only was it our first interview, but it was the first one the guy interviewing us had ever done... so we were chatting away during the songs to try and figure out what to chat about next!

We will remember them

The other week we covered a subject that I take rather seriously. We were covering Remembrance Day.

Usually all a Scout Troop will do for Remembrance is to go to church parade, well... some of the kids would go on parade if they bothered or their parents made them... and that would be it. Nothing really on why we should be remembering or for that matter what and who we should be remembering.

I'll admit that I have never been in a war situation personally, none of my family have gone off to war... even my grandparents were excluded from going off to battle as they were engineers and were needed in the factories back at home.

And if I am honest I don't know if I could do it. I don't know if I would be able to lay down my life or my well being. And frankly, I don't really want to be put in the situation where I would have to find out. That's why I have the upmost respect and gratitude for those that do, and it's this point that I tried to get across to the scouts.

Not that that is a particularly easy concept to try to get across.

Last year (and I refer back to last year because I did something similar, but it was during a while where I fell out of the habit of blogging so it hasn't been covered online) I did a lot of searching. Going through loads of websites with activities to do, and tips and advice on conveying this rather large (and at times scary) topic. A lot of the activities I passed off as too childish, not conveying the right level of seriousness that I wanted to get across... other activities were at the other extreme. Nothing really seamed to fit, so I made up something myself.

But before I go off describing all that and forgetting to actually cover the scout night, well, the plan was going to be simple for tonight:
Getting some programme ideas from kids (as next so many weeks were blank in the plan and we also wanted to find out what countries they wanted me to look into for 2012)

pretty simple... but nothing simple ever runs like that.
flagbreak *tick*
Gam... *mphf... mphf... mplaaaahhhhhhhh*  <= that would be a sprog, vomiting all over the hall floor

... Where's the mop and bucket?


... Sprog, did you have pineapple for dinner?

The next 10/15mins were spent cleaning up the floor while the other sprogs played cards and tried to think up program ideas in another room (we didn't want a chain reaction starting).

Well, we were going to play dodgeball, but given the huge wet patch covering the middle of the hall it was decided to do a chair race where they wouldn't touch the floor at all. (I think it was appreciated)

And onto the main activity, trying to get the importance of Remembrance across to the Scouts.

Now a lot of numbers generally get batted about when it comes to casualities of war, some very large numbers which can be rather difficult to visualise. So last year I used sugar. I found out online how many grains of sugar are in a gram and from that figured out how many were in a bag. Taking one grain of sugar to equate to one life I got the Scouts to try and guess how many bags it would take to account for certain wars. To add to the effect I got a 1kg bag of sugar and poured some of it over the floor so they could actually see just how many grains are in a bag (that would be 15432 lifes roughly).

So how many bags would it take for different events?

Would you believe that it would take somewhere in the region of 2592-4666 bags of sugar to account for the 2nd World War?! To put that in perspective, the War on Terror claimed 3 bags (including non-allied forces... which believe me is difficult to find the numbers for) and the Haiti Earthquake would be 14 bags.

This year I tried to think of a different way to get these numbers across, my flatmate kindly suggested time. If you were to start killing one person a second when would you finish to match the different wars?

It's a long time, between 2 and 3 years for the 2nd World War!

After going through these numbers with them I got the scouts to lay out on the floor (which was thankfully now dry). They were to completely relax, clear their minds... and put themselves into the situations and stories that I would tell them. To imagine that they were there and what would they be thinking and doing. Last year I had given some general descriptions of conditions in war. This year I gave real life accounts given from survivors.

They could be rather powerful, especially when imaging yourself being there.

I'll post the spreadsheets with all my numbers and the true stories that I used in the meditation in the resourses page I have (I'll post a link when I have done it). Feel free to use and adapt it for your own scouts.

Just realised that I haven't actually blogged the week after this one. It was simple enough, we did some circus skills with the scouts... so it was just a fun night with the circus gear I take round other groups. Thanks to Gav for helling out as I was a little short on leaders.

Live on the Radio!

Today I, and three Explorer Scouts, are going to be interviewed for a local radio station and the World Scout Jamboree!

It's Lincoln City Radio, they have a live feed online. I'm not entirely sure exactly when we will be on air, but I've to show up at 4pm (UK time).

I'll update this with sound and visuals later if possible

Remember Remember...

... the 5th of November

So, todays post is covering scouts from 2 Fridays ago, but there is a reason for that. And it's a good reason as well...

You want the reason... okay I'll tell you.

What? Now? Well that isn't exactly patient of you.

I'll let you know what my super fantastic reason for not posting about this last week... as soon as I make up a reason.

Right you caught me, I forgot!

Okay, you happy now?! Forgetting, even with that Remember remember poem and everything!

For those of you not from the UK, the 5th of November is known as Guy Fawkes night. He had planned to bomb the Houses of Parliament (you know the building with Big Ben), and he nearly managed it too... but he was discovered the morning of the planned bombings, the 5th of November.

To celebrate the fact that the Houses of Parliament (and as a result the King who was due to open Parliament) were saved we... errr... blow stuff up!
Ooooo..... sparkly
.... I like fireworks

The 2nd Lincoln were holding a fireworks display and BBQ on their grounds to raise money for their group. I we figured that we would invite the scouts and their families along to enjoy it. Turns out that most of them had their own plans for watching fireworks as a family elsewhere... we only had 2 scouts (and no other family members) show up!

O well, I was going to enjoy the whizz bangs all the same. I mean, what's not to enjoy, it's explosives!

In fact, I enjoyed them a lot more than I thought that I would. If I am honest I thought that it would just be a guy going round with a taper setting off some bog standard fireworks that were bought in a garden center. Turns out that I was very very wrong. It was a full on proper display, about 15minutes long and jam packed full of fireworks.

Well done 2nd Lincoln, I was very impressed.

I was going to include this weeks scouting exploits in with this post, given that it was about Remembrance Day and would have tied in nicely with the whole 'remember' thing I had going on. But seeing that it is a rather large topic and I want to explain what I did (as I found researching stuff to do for it a tad difficult, for stuff that would have any effect anyway- I ended up giving up and making up my own thing, which you are more than welcome to steal) I've decided to put it into a separate post.

International Man of Mystery

Or to put it more accurately... International Mystery of this Man.

That man being me of course, well, not him in the picture. That's definately not me!

And that International Mystery, well, hopefully you guys can give me a helping hand with that. As part of my grand plan, my evil plot or even my cunning ploy (depends on how you want to view it) for my scout troop I want to alternate having summer camps abroad and in the UK (but not in Lincolnshire).

Given that this summer we went to Kandersteg in Switzerland, one of my evil compatriots (aka. Assistant Leaders) will be organising 2011s summer camp somewhere in the UK. I would organise it, but I'm going to be a tad busy what with the Jamboree. But, as unbelievably far in advance this sounds... I'm going to have to get my finger out with summer camp 2012.

Yes, you read that right... I'm going to start organising summer camp 2012. Which will be abroad...

... somewhere...

... and that is the difficult part. WHERE?! I'm trying to pick three sites that I can get details for and present to the scouts for them to vote on. But which three?!

Do you, people of the interweb, have any good suggestions?

I'm looking for a campsite that would preferably deal with international scouts regularly, have a load of activities (on and off site) on offer that would be suitable for 10-14year olds... oh, and not cost a small fortune! I know, it is a lot to ask.

So please leave some comments to this post with recommendations of campsites. I asked nicely and said please after all

NOTE: Image is of Austin Powers and belongs to however in the film industry it belongs to

Warm and fuzzies

The Scouts can be confusing at times. Sometimes the Scouts can be really annoying... but then they do something that will really surprise you, throw you for six and remind you why you do it all in the first place.

Well, here I am currently sat at my desk at work (during my lunch I might add before you say anything) and I get an envelope through the internal mail.

Now, I know that that doesn't sound like much... but I never get mail. Everything I deal with is sent via email, but I recognise the handwriting as one of my scouts parents. In it was another envelope.

"To Scotland, Sorry it's late- I would have given it to you at scouts"
  Inside said envelope was this:

"Get Well Soon" and it has a picture of her saying 'Hope your feeling better'... and a flower, and some juggling balls and some fire poi (yeah that's right, my scouts rock!)

"Dear Scotland, I hope you're feeling better:) Can't wait to see you at Scouts soon. Love from ..... xxxxxx"
And get this... it wasn't even from the daughter of the woman that put it in the internal mail... she gave it to her to get it to me!

I can't even start to say how this cheered me up. THANK YOU SPROGLETTE!

Media Darlings

I said that I wanted EVIAN... not this, this, TAP WATER!

I don't know how you expect me to work under these conditions... seriously... TAP WATER!

Do you know who I am?!

That's it! I can't handle this anymore... I'll be in my trailer

Not the face!
Well... That's what generally springs into my head when told about getting media training.

Well, to be honest it wasn't even me getting the media training. As part of the preperations for the World Scout Jamboree, we sent 2 unit members to Kettering to be trained by the UK Contingent media team on how to be spokes people for the Scout Association.

They got to learn about the media; how to prepare to be interviewed, for newspapers, radio and television. They even got to have a go and see what they look like on telly and how they sound on the radio.

They also got taught about the Scout Associations branding and how it is used to try to actively promote the Scouts, and what they should do to make sure that any media coverage that they are involved in is 'on brand'.

What they were doing sounded like it would be rather fun and interesting, I was to go along and get a briefing on what they were doing and how we could support them. I also got to get a couple of details about the Jamboree! WOO HOO for new knowledge.

Can you tell that I am getting more and more excited about Sweden?

NOTE: image is from the film Anchorman and all rights belong to those people... not me, obviously

Horror Filled Silence

Okay.... so let me explain why things have been so quiet here recently.

Put simply, it's because I havn't been at scouts for AGES.
My last post said that I was missing one week so that I could go visit my newly born niece.

But the two weeks after that I was ill with Gastroenteritis (believe me when I say that it's really not fun!) What the scouts actually got up to while I was curled up in my bed I'm not entirely sure.

At the tail end of my illness there was a Jamboree Unit training camp, which of course I missed the vast majority of. I had decided that I would be sensible and stay at home that weekend to make sure that I recovered, but I did pop out to visit the happy campers.

Which, if you have been clever and worked out the dates, brings us up to this last Friday. At which I was also not at scouts. I know, totally slacking huh. But I had a good reason, honest. One of my best mates was throwing a surprise party in order to pop the question to his girlfriend.

No, not "will you pass the salt?"


You know, that one that involves expensive rings... and ball and chains?

Yeah that's the one.

Thank goodness she said yes, cause I was under instruction to wrestle the sharp knifes away from the mother-in-law-to-be if she had said no, and I really didn't want to have to take her on.

At least this time I actually knew what the scouts were up to, in fact even tho I wasn't there I had provided a load of equipment for it. We sent an email out a couple of days before our Friday meeting saying that each patrol was going to be making a horror movie and they could bring whatever they wanted in the way of props/costumes etc.

From what I hear they did a really good job (I've yet to see the films... I'm looking forward to that, especially given that some of them involve singing and dancing to Thriller!)
The storylines were: A schoolgirl visiting a Transylvanian castle and getting turned into a vampire and one that I think is particularly inventive... a statue outside a house that would kill trick or treaters as they waited for their sweets (until it gets slain of course, but the hero does die in the process of killing the monster).

That's basically how we are marking Halloween this year, next week is half term so we aren't meeting up (yes, yet another week of no scouts for me!)

Of course, the images belong to whoever they belong to and arn't mine!

Little bundle of joy

As you all know, I generally spend my Friday evenings with the scouts.

But not this week...

This week I have the great pleasure of meeting my new born niece for the first time. That's right... I'M AN UNCLE!!!

*tries to contain joy and excitement*

... oh sod it....






*brushes down clothes and straightens self up*

sorry for that little outburst.
Actually, that's a lie... I'm not sorry about it at all

So, yeah, I'm not going to be at scouts this week.

Drowning in paperwork

Or at least that is how it can feel...

The Child Protection Officer from the Salvation Army came down to see us this Friday (we're affliated with the Salvation Army if you were wondering why) and she came armed with a small forest of paperwork.

So while the sprogs were out doing urban tracking, one patrol would leave a trail for the other to follow... making the symbols out of stuff they could find, but making them stuble enough not to be trashed by the public... I was in signing my soul away.

The sprogs seamed to enjoy it, and we didn't have any hassle about any of them running away like the last time we let them out... so in my books that is a success. *woo hoo*

Mind you, I think it really surprised some of them when we told them that the groups that they had been working in for the evening were their new patrols! Awww, the shocked look on some of their faces was just priceless

Kind of like a shocked fish...

3Nations: Relocation Day

If you would like to follow the 3Nations posts from the beginning then head to the expedition page

Wednesday 22nd July 2009

Well, yesterday certainly threw the plan out the window!

I awoke on the floor of Ed's 'calm room' to realise that it wasn't some sort of dream... we really had been evacuated and our little bubble had not so much burst as decided that it would much rather do an impression of a snow globe.

The buzz from yesterday had started to die down a tad, everyone was safe, there were some that weren't exactly in good shape... but PJ (our medical wizard) was on the case and things were looking very positive.

A small group, made mainly of the expedition leaders and some of the Mongolians, ventured back to the site to check out what the damage was and to figure out what we should do to protect ourselves should it happen again. While we were doing that we were told that we could go explore Zuunmod.

A couple of us had decided that we should go on the hunt for a newspaper, not to get clued up on the news in Mongolia... or to enjoy the suduko or crossword (which would have been a tad difficult given the language barrier)... but so that we could stuff our boots and try to dry them out. We did manage to find plenty of shops, none of which had signs on the outside... or newspapers for that matter.

And to be honest, there didn't appear to be that much more to Zuunmod, that we saw that day anyway. Just a load of nameless shops, which you could easily walk by.

But it was time to start heading back up to the site. The kit was thrown (literally in some cases) back into the mini-buses and trailers and we hiked up to the site.

This was the storm damage to the site

It ripped right through some of the gers.

And the outside of the gers got pretty battered by the hail stones.

It had been decided that we should move the site, so that if there was another storm we would no longer be in the way of the run off water.

The way gers are supposed to be moved is to systematically de-construct them, load them onto either a vehicle or your cattle, move to new site and re-construct it. Which would be fine if you have one or two, we had 12.

If we didn't want to sleep outdoors then we were going to have to do things slightly differently.

3Nations Guide to Relocating Your Ger (the 'Quick' Method)
  1. Recruit about 20 mates to help you.
  2. Tie the door of the ger open.
  3. All but two of you go inside the ger.
  4. One person stand in the middle, two people grab the poles holding up the centre of the roof, everyone else lines the walls.
  5. The ones lining the walls crouch down, grad some trellis, and lift... you are now relocating your ger!
  6. The person in the middle, with the help of the people outside, are to guide you - remember you can only see out of the tiny little door at the front (so they had to be spun round first to go up the hill).
  7. When lowering your ger, make sure to push out on the trellis... or the roof will fall in on your head.
  8. It is also advisable to get another team to move the flooring while you are walking to ger up the hill, so that it will be ready for your arrival (good puzzle/jig saw experience may be required)
If you want to see this method is action, check out Marks video.

*waits for you to come back*

It always reminds me of the Luggage from Terry Pratchetts Discworld. But it was this method that we used to move all the gers...

One... one.

... single...
... one
 Needless to say, this took up about the entire day, and we were absolutely knackered. I remember having to curl up in a corner at one point and get an hour or so sleep... I think I was still recovering from the evacuation day.

Lessons learned:
  • Nowhere in Zuunmod sells newpapers.
  • The Peace Corp are everywhere... including the tiny town of Zuunmod.
  • Gers are designed to be transported a certain way, and it is that way for a reason.
  • Apparently Coca-Cola in India make a lime fizzy drink, which cannot be exported from India... because it contains cyanide.
  • Fishing for bones when preparing the groups lunch can be made even more difficult when you're trying not to loose any of the vegetables.

Thanks, again, go to those who I borrowed photos from!

Recycling Ideas

Us scout leaders like to recycle. I'm not talking about that plastic rubbish, or paper (you wouldn't believe the amounts of paperwork we have to do at times, definitely not environmentally friendly)

No, I'm talking about ideas.

They are as precious as diamonds and even more valuable. Hence why this week... what with the fact that we haven't sorted out the new patrols, or done program planning... I decided to re-use the Life Auction idea.

The results again were rather interesting:

well... I think that they are interesting.

*tries not to get too distracted analysing the results*

But this wasn't the only idea that we recycled this week. On Sunday we had good old bagpacking! *sarcastically waves hands in air in fiened excitement*

We've all been there, we all despise it.... but it gets money in, well it does when the public arn't being incredably awkward like they were this weekend!

District Camp

Apparantly I can't say or do anything about this particular event without putting my size 9s in it...

... so I'm going to keep my mouth shut

Sorry to all who wanted to hear about District Camp

Gilwell Reunion

Well I've already said about me arriving onsite for Gilwell Reunion, I suppose I really should cover the rest of it!

This was my first time ever going to Gilwell, yet alone Gilwell Reunion, so I wasn't really sure what to expect.

I camped with Rosie, Rich and the rest of the Freespirit ESU gang from Wales; and after my late arrival the night before it was a pleasure to wake up the bacon butties (a pleasure purely reserved for camp)
And buying one of these... part of their fundraising efforts for the Jamboree.
Once suitably attired, it was time to explore the site. A big part of Gilwell Reunion is that they have a load of stalls to give you program ideas for your section.

"ooo, that looks interesting..." *picks up leaflet and shoves it in bag*

...*plods along*

"We could adapt that to work" *shoves more leaflets in bag*


*waits for freespirit people as they are selling stuff to random people*


"You heard of that before?" *grabs more bits of paper- which, if I am honest, I will most likely not look at again- and shoves into ever bulging bag*

But it wasn't just leaflets gallore, at a load of them you got to actually try out the activity as well.

Like making edable campfires....
Nom nom nom
Or tie dying, which unfortunately didn't have any gloves! thanks Lucy!
... and this was after me spending about 10minutes scrubbing them!
But it wasn't all work, there was Pimms on the Lawn

And a campfire... although it was a sit down one, didn't want any of the old dears to pop a hip now did we? The guy running it was brilliant tho, really funny
That and getting to see a load of my friends from past adventures again... some of which I havn't seen in about 3 years, which is just shockly long.

Was a fantastic weekend, lots of ideas on offer and some very very good company

Kandersteg 2010: Setting off

Well... I said that I would try to get this out on a faster timescale that the 3Nations posts... so here is the start of it anyway.

Friday 13th August 2010

Yup, it's Friday 13th.... and we are setting off on the groups first ever international camp, with 13 people. I'm just asking for trouble arn't I?

Given that the bus was supposed to arrive at the hall at 10:30, the sprogs at 10am and I wanted to make sure that I was at the hall in plenty of time to make sure that it would be open for them arriving... I asked Niall to give me a lift to the hall at 9am.

It was a good thing that the coach was early to pick us up. Tha Salvation Army (who we are linked with, just so that you know) was wanting to get into the hall to set things up for a funeral. So what is worse, setting off on a journey on Friday 13th or having your funeral on Friday 13th? Anyway, it wasn't long til we were on the road.

WOO HOO... Next stop Kandersteg.... err Essex? Ok, so we're picking up another group in Essex. Well, we all had our little mishaps with getting onto the coach, our was the funeral. Theirs was the fact that the heavens opened (it was actually a thunder and lightning storm) so all their stuff got wet. Including all the parents waiting to wave them off some were impressively resilitant.

Mim and Jo also got wet while running to the toilet while they were getting themselves onboard.Right, that's them all on board... let's go!

... let's GO!



*tries to move bus through sheer mental will power*

.... GO!

... crud

Our next set of bus drivers, the long distance ones, were supposed to meet us at this pick up and take us to Switzerland. But they were still way behind us, stuck in motorway traffic... so here's the kicker, we DOUBLED BACK a bit to a service station we'd already stopped at to collect them.

Sprog: "these service stations look the same"... *facepalm*

Right, now off to Kandersteg... Euston Station in London, awww man! Picking up another group, and what was their coach loading troubles I hear you ask (that is you isn't it? Would be bad if those voices are back again) well, their group was split between two coaches. And the other coach wasn't there!

The sprogs that were already on the bus amused themselves trying to get Londoners to wave back to them good luck with that girls while the leaders already on the bus were in awe. Every adult is usually put in awe when met with someone famous from their childhood, and what is more they were going to be sharing the coach with us!

Must try to contain myself!

Wait... you want to know who it is?
Run for your life!

Turns out that the ghostbusters failed to kill him... either that or it was Hollywood trickery. Mind you, he didn't seam that happy about being banished to the back of the coach.
Your choice Stay Puft, your choice...
Ok, So now that we're all on... can we head to Kandersteg now? WOO HOO

Next we find out that, what with all the delays, we've already missed the ferry that we were supposed to be on. And there is one more ferry tonight. And we might not make it, in which case we would have to wait overnight for the ferry (making our arrival in Kandersteg very late indeed). Pedal to the metal time... damn you London traffic!

We managed to make the ferry, with about 15minutes to spare. So it was very very close.

We all had to leave the coach once we were on the ferry, and while on board we gave the kids a packet dinner. Sausage rolls, juice, fruit etc. Certainly easier and cheaper than getting dinner on board like was suggested to us!
Bye bye UK!
I was going to finish this post with us leaving the UK, as the rest was just bus journey. But I do have to share this little bit of wonders from a sprog. While the air conditioning had been off on the coach for the ferry ride over, it had gotten rather hot in there...
sprog: "I'm roasting like a spit-roast"

ha-mphf.... must not laugh! Little sprog doesn't realise why it is so funny... must protect sprogs sweet and innocent mind... must... not.... LAUGH

*Bites fist*

Thanks to those that let me use photos. Obviously the image of Stay-puft belongs to who-ever it belongs to... basically it ain't mine. Hope you don't mind me using it. Please don't sue me!

And it all starts

Well it has all started now!

Not only have the scouts started back for the year, but Gilwell Reunion is now officially underway. And yes, I'm attending both.... In the same day

... And some people have the cheek to say that I should get my head checked!

But yeah, after scouts I headed down to Gilwell... which is a surprising first for me. So yes, that popping noise at 1:15am was actually my Gilwell Cherry as I arrived on site.

Rosie and Rich had been kind enough to stay up for me. I'm camping with them, ans frankly I would have never found them if they hadn't come and met me shortly after my arrival.That was your mistake Rosie and Rich!

I also get another first in today, first in-the-field (literally) blogging! Yup, am currently laid in my tent loving the fact that I am, yet again, back at camp!

And as it's now half two in the morning I'll bid you a good night...

Night night!

Location:Walthamstow,United Kingdom

New Page!

I've added a new page!

woo hoo

*villagers rejoicing*

what is it?... well its Final Thoughts. We decided to change the prayer at the end of the night to a more reflective quote/saying. Its a bit of an experiment, but hopefully it will work.

I know that the reflective aspect of the balanced program can be rather tricky to cover so I'll keep adding some of the quotes that we'll be using so that you can copy the idea if you wish.

Hope you like it, let me know what you think... and if you have any that I can add to the list.

Here we go again...

I don't believe that we are about to set off on a new scouting year ALREADY!

It only feels like we got rid of them the other week... oh wait, it was!

Not only are we starting again this Friday epp but we will be hitting the ground running. We met last night, us leaders that is, to discuss our plans for the coming year. This wasn't actually our program planning (we'll be doing that later with the patrol leaders), but there is a lot happening very soon that needed to be discussed.

The main thing is that next weekend will be district camp woo hoo with both the cubs and the scouts. So lots of organising details for that.

I also want to get my rear in gear with regards to the kids record cards. It's one of the bits of being a scout leader that I am awful at, but it's not going to go away (as much as I would like it to)... but with the work that I have already done on it, I have already figured out a load of badges that the kids are actually due! So my plan on for Friday is to go through these, one-on-one, with the sprogs so that they know where they are at with regards to their awards and challenges.

I would love to get some of them getting their Chief Scout Gold Award. Am sure they can do it... it'll just be getting that push now.

Note: I'll also be going to Gilwell Reunion this weekend. Feel free to say hi if you see me!

PS. I did a little search online for 'rear in gear' to see if I could get a funny picture... this is what I found.
I don't know what to worry about more, the fact that this exists or the fact that she seams so happy about the fact that her dog butt is covered at all times! I know it's completely unrelated to scouting... but it was too funny not to share.

Given up the ghost

I feel that I must apologise for the fact that I have been rather quiet since returning from Kandersteg and the fact that I havn't even started writing up the Kandersteg posts. (they are on the way I promise!)

... but frankly I needed a bit of a break from everything

Well, I say everything, but I will put my hands up and admit that there was sleeping, the odd evening round at mates, sleeping, a couple of meals thrown in, some catching up with work (of the paid kind),sleeping did I mention that?, a visit home to see my family in Glasgow and a bit of mourning.

Yup I'm in mourning, it is a sad sad day.

I don't know if I can bring myself to actually confirm it, it just sounds so final...

My boots are dead... and no they are not just resting

Ok, so this may seam like a tad bit of an over-reaction, but I am actually gutted that they are dead. I've had them for about 5 years or so (I can't actually remember when it was I got them), and they have done a lot of work in those 5 years. My Queen Scout Award, Duke of Edinburgh Gold, Explorer Belt,  3Nations trip to Mongolia and China, the World Scout Jamboree 2007, several Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborettes, Eurojam 2005 and innumerable weekend camps, cub trips, scout nights and network events.

Lovely plumage...

These boots have got me through a lot of good times... and always with warm, dry feet.

I noticed the first signs that they were dieing last summer, when I saw that the middle of the sole was degrading. I have since found out that Raichle is Swiss and they had a problem with the acid in the British soil dissolving the sole... apparantly it has been fixed. I was willing to over look my boots dissolving soles, hey it would just be getting as evil as myself, given that they were incredibly comfortable and still waterproof.

But it was this summer that I noticed the fatal wound... a crack in the fabric of the boot. This couldn't really be ignored or fixed*. So while I was in Glasgow I decided to do a bit of boot shopping.

Just like normal shoes, every brand makes them differently, and it is generally sound advice (for boots anyway) that once you've found the brand for you that you don't stray. Raichle is definately my brand, they fit my feet like a glove... well not like a glove, like a sock, a really good fitting sock... oh sod it they fit like the proverbial glove.

But when I looked in Lincoln I couldn't find any Raichle... and even more worryingly I couldn't find them ONLINE! (well in my quick 5min search anyway). So, full of hope, I went to the shops in Glasgow, where I was dutifully informed that Raichle had been bought over by Mammut.

*villagers rejoicing*

*trumpets sounding*

*holds back from kissing the sales assistant out of sheer joy*

So... would you like to meet my new boots?

tough luck, its my blog and I am going to show you them anyway! so there!

all shiney and new!
...and what is more the soles are intact
And to compare old and new... a preview of what will probably happen to my shiny, new, clean boots....

Fairwell my Raichles, you have served me well. You've deserved your well earned retirement at the back of my wardrobe (I don't think I could face throwing them out)

*yes I do realise that duct-tape can fix ANYTHING... but it's not exactly ideal for what I put my boots through and what I rely on them for

3Nations: Evacuation Day

Right, before I get started... if you havn't read them already, visit the Expedition page and follow the 3Nations Expedition from the start.

This post has been rated PG and contains scenes of mild-peril*
No Networkers were harmed in the making of this post.
*Trace amounts of other types of peril may be present.

Tuesday 21st July 2009

Well, this is probably the most memorable day of the expedition for all involved... and not for the right reasons... but before I get ahead of myself I should really start at the beginning of this rather eventful day.

We were to get up early this morning to make sure that we would be able to set off on the hike that our aravt was programmed to do. Given that this is Mongolia, and they generally have little use of maps, we had a Mongolian who was going to guide us on the hike.

Time keeping in Mongolia is a tad different from here in the UK. Generally when we say that we will set off around 9am, then we will try to set off as soon to that time as possible. In Mongolia they will wait for a good omen until they set off. This can mean that they will wait several hours until the omens are right.

I don't know what the omen was on this particular day, but it was actually nearer ten when we set off, heading just over the hill into the next valley and the entrance to the Bogd Khan National Park.

Once in the national park we headed to the museum and the ruined Manzhir Khid monastery. The place really was beautiful and rather awe inspiring.

One of my favourite pictures (that I took anyway). The blue cloth is used in prayer.

I just love the detail!

From the monastery we headed/scrambled up the steep slope behind it to the top of the hill, which is where our first mishap of the day happened. To be honest I am not entirely sure what happened, but one of the girls had a bit of a run in with a snake or something... anyway, she was a tad freaked out and required a bit of consoling. Once she was ok to carry on we set off again.

This smaller shine was part way up the slope.
Occasionally we would pass something similar to cairns randomly dotted in the hills, they would also have prayer flags attached to them. We were directed by our Mongolian guide to pick up some small stones, we were to walk round all of these cairns while adding our stones to it three times; first for luck, then for sorrow, then for luck... so that your journey will start and finish with luck.

It was about 12noon ish that we reached this really large one at the top of the hill, and after doing our circuits of it for luck we stopped to take some photographs of the stunning view.

The approach...
Woo hoo! I got there!
It doesn't really show well on camera... but out there, the horizon just keeps going further and further back. It's like the longer you stare at it the further it goes.

The guide set off again... wait a minute... we came from THAT direction... why is he going away from the site

"now we head for the summit"

.... oh crud...

We thought that we were at the summit already! We had been told that it would be a short walk and that we wouldn't need to take much in the way of supplies. But then again, we still hadn't got used to the Mongolians concept of time just yet.

It was actually 4 hours later that we reached the actual summit, with no food or water left... we were all starting to suffer from dehydration in the hot weather. But we were happy we had reached the summit.

To our left we could see Zuunmod...

to our right was Ulaanbaatar...

... and what's that thing in the middle...

... ohh yeah.... that'll be the biggest storm that they've had in 20years!

... ohhh and look, now its turning towards us

double crud!

We only stayed at the summit for a short while, as we raced down the mountain ahead of the storm. Unfortunately the storm won, it was only maybe 40mins or so after we started our descent that we were hit. This, ladies and gentlemen, is when the excrement collided with the propeller.

We got soaked. But why only be soaked by rain when you can be pummeled by hail stones that were the size of a 20pence piece. And believe me... they hurt! We were carrying our small day sack over our heads to try to provide a little bit of protection while we walked... but there was more than once we had to run for cover under the trees.

I know, I know, you don't need to tell me. Hiding under trees in a thunder and lightning storm isn't a good idea. Frankly it's dangerous. But at that point we were in too much pain to do anything but. Even when we were under the trees, with our bags over our heads we were crying out with pain when hit.

I managed to get one quick photo during one bit of hiding... just before we were told to turn everything electrical off so that we wouldn't attract any lightning.

The rest of the hike down to the site is frankly a bit of a jumble in my head. but there are certain things that stick out in my head.

Like the moment the lightning struck a nearby hill top, you could feel it through your entire body,  and our guide.... the ONLY person who knew where we were... curled up in a ball and started screaming like a little pansy.

I also remember getting scared senseless by the marmots, who had been forced out of their holes (as they were overflowing with water) and were defending their territory against us.

Or the 5 rivers of ice cold water, that hadn't been there that morning, which we had to wade across and which went half way up my thigh.

But, thankfully, we all made it back to the site to find chaos. The flash flood had ripped right through the camp. The people that had been onsite that day had been running around trying to secure everything and reduce the damage as much as possible. They had been panicking about us as they hadn't been able to get in contact with us (everything electrical switched off remember?) and had made sure that there was a ger heated up for us to get immediately bundled into.

We actually had to be stripped out of our wet clothes by the others, our hands had gone so numb that we couldn't bend our fingers. Basically they started treating us all for hypothermia and dehydration (remember we had run out of water as the start of the day had been gloriously hot and sunny).

Once we had recovered enough, we were moved back to our our ger to rest and recover more while the others finished securing the site. By this point it was about dinner time, so we took the decision to make ourselves useful and make dinner for everyone on site (as the others were so busy they didn't have any time to prepare anything).

It was once we had dinner ready that we had been told that the storm may be returning and we were to evacuate.

Everyone and all personal belongings were to be removed from the site... NOW. The race was back on, and we were determined to win this time. All of our stuff was packed, but we also had to pack all the gear from the people that were in Zuunmod and Ulaanbaatar, so we went from ger to ger grabbing things and stuffing it into any bag that you could find. It could be sorted out later.

Those that were on the hike and those that were ill were to be evacuated first, so that included my aravt. We were to be taken to a boarding school that was empty for the summer. It was like a refugee camp...

...mass confusion, stuff everywhere (chain gangs to move gear from the buses inside to the corridors), people going around trying to find their bags... even a hospital room for those that were in bad shape. It was good when I found Eds little room of calm. He had imposed a rule that anyone coming into the room was not the panic and just RELAX.

I remember writing up my diary that night, up until then I had usually done some little funny notes of things that had happened that day (which I have tried to share with you).... but I made a conscience decision not to make too light of a day that could have gone horribly wrong.

Thanks again to those I borrowed photos from

Please be reassured that everyone from the expedition fully recovered from the effects of the storm, it was later reported to us that 8 Mongolians in Ulaanbaatar died... my thoughts and prayers go out to them and their families.