Cook Off

It's time for Ready Steady Cook!

... well, not exactly...

I mean, for a start, we don't have Ainsley Harriott
...or his friends Susie Salt and Percy Pepper
And instead of getting the scouts to bring ingredients in a poly bag, we supplied the ingredients. 
This was for ONE patrol!
Also, we had gotten the patrols to randomly pick out a country from a hat last week. We had 6 to pick from: India, China, USA, Sweden, Italy and Mexico... and they would have to cook in the style of there chosen country (Curry, Sweet & Sour, Hamburgers, Meatballs, Spag Bol and Chilli respectively). As much as possible was to be from basic ingredients.

The two chosen were Indian and Chinese.

So on the menu was:
Indian: Chicken Curry, Onion Bhaji, Rice and Naan (all homemade)

Chinese: Sweet and Sour Soy Pork, Chicken and Vegetable Spring Rolls, Rice and Prawn Crackers (again all homemade)

One of the patrols got the kitchen and the other patrol had some tables set up in the hall and the gas stoves. Mim was looking after the Indian food and I was looking after the Chinese.... Jo was trying to do an impression of Ainsley Harriott and munching as much food as she could get away with!

I unfortunately forgot to take pictures of the final dishes, but I will say that I was rather impressed with the outcome. Both patrols did a brilliant job and got a load of compliments from the parents that came into the hall and tried some.

Om nom nom

The Indian food won on presentation, but the Chinese food won the taste test (yee haa!)... so I would say that we won overall.

Ainsley Harriott and Ready Steady Cook belong to whoever they belong to... well obviously Ainsley Harriott belongs to himself... I mean the images etc of them

An epic scouting adventure

I just heard about this expedition and I had to share it...

As you know I am an Assistant Unit Leader for Lincolnshire for the next World Scout Jamboree. And I am thoroughly looking forward to leaving at the end of July for that adventure.

But for some the adventure has already begun. Actually, they set off in OCTOBER 2010!!!

Yup, two Australian Scouts, Adam Kilpatrick and Stephen Warren-Smith, are riding recumbent trikes from their hometown of Adelaide (South Australia) to the Jamboree site in Sweden!

And it's not as if they are going straight there either... they are riding to Perth, flying to Cape Town then covering the entire length of Africa before going through the Middle East and Europe to get there!

That's a minimum of 22,000km

Check it out here

3Nations: Temple Project

It's kind of suiting that I am running behind with the 3Nations posts (previous posts can be found on the expedition page)... given that I have a note in my handwritten diary:

"Right- am going to admit that I am very behind on the diary... So I am going to keep this short and sweet until I catch up"

Friday 24th July 2009

Given our rather late and drunken night out in Ulaanbaatar last night, what we wanted was a lie in, something fried for breakfast and something caffeinated to drink. What we got was an early wake up call to get bussed to Zuunmod for our second community project.

Manual labour isn't exactly high on my list of hangover cures!

Manual labour + hangover = ooo, this is going to be difficult

But never mind, this was one of the activities that I was really looking forward to, one where we would get to make a difference.

Our task was to paint the roof of the temple, while the normal services were ongoing in side, so we had to try and keep the noise down a bit.

Those bits on the underside of the roof were rather footery, lots of different colours involved.
The instructions for painting, like the Scout Project, were rather basic... a combination of pointing at pots of paint, pointing at surfaces and use of the word "paint". Oh, and pointing at the little ladder they had brought out for us to climb to get up onto the roof.

You ever heard of that cat on the hot tin roof?

Well, I feel for that cat... it was a blazing hot day in Zuunmod. 

Manual labour + blazing heat from sun + reflected heat from tin roof + hangover = ooo, I'm starting to get a little light headed

See how one of the Mongolians is wearing a mask? That's cause of the fumes from the paint...

... it was very very strong


I'm still not convinced that it wasn't some soviet lead based car paint or something.

Manual labour + blazing sun + burning roof + possibly toxic paint fumes + hangover = ooo... look it! puuuurty colours.... 

We all got covered in paint... see, you can actually see me trying to remove some with methylated spirits.

Mind you, we didn't get as much on us as the little local boy who came up onto the roof to give us a hand, it had got difficult to tell where was wet paint and where was dry... he slipped on the wet paint and managed to get a bright yellow back.

After we had finished our work in the morning we had our packed lunches, played a little basketball with the apprentice monks before getting directed to the local public showers. A lot of Mongolia is under canvas, in gers, so people don't always have their own showers... so there were public showers (just like we would get public toilets in the city centre).

It was an absolute joy to have something as simple as properly clean hair.

After our showers, we were to walk back to the campsite, before having a nice relaxing evening (and crashing!)

Thanks for those that let me use photos, I think I didn't have my camera with me this day.

And now for something completely different...

Ok, I realise that yesterdays post was a little heavy.

So here's something to lighten things up a bit...

Someone, not me I might add, gave this to Mim (who looks after the Beaver section)

....pffft *tries not to spit out tea*

ha HA ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

me?! childish?! NEVER!

Board games and basic bases

This covers 2 weeks of scout meetings, have been a busy boy again!

Our first night after the Christmas holidays was a board games night. It's not very often that the sprogs would be able to get a group together to play some board games... at least that is what I found, so I used to always enjoy the opportunity.

So we asked the sprogs to bring along a board game and they could have a laid back evening playing them.

It would also give us leaders an opportunity to get a couple of plans together, even if it was just when we would be able to get together to do a proper program planning.

Fairly simple yes...?

what could possibly go wrong...?

By now I should realise that seemingly simple nights never quite work out. A couple of the sprogs decided that they didn't want to play board games, they wanted ball games... or to listen to their ipods.

So of course I gave them a simple choice... take part in the program that we put on; which was just board games after all, it wasn't as if we were making them do drill or something like that; or they could do some washing up for us, cleaning out some of the camping equipment.

Given that about 15mins later they were still sat off to the side doing nothing, they were put to some use. Who would have thought that they would have picked washing up over games?

Fast forward a week

*imagines pages pealing off a calender

This week didn't exactly get off to a brilliant start. It started with one of my scouts leaving, not up to explorers like I would have liked... but to leave scouting entirely.

It wasn't exactly a surprise, he'd grown out of it... it happens.

... but he is the 5th since the summer that has left in such a way. And yes I realise that most Scouts won't actually move up to Explorers, rather they grow out of it.

I understand that.

It makes sense.

Doesn't stop me thinking that I'm doing something wrong tho.

I keep trying to put on activities that they would like. Mixing simple fun evenings (like board games the week before), adventurous activities (like kayaking) and scouting stuff (like the cultural stuff and scouting skills etc). Trying to keep things mixed while sticking with the principals of scouting. And hopefully you would agree from what you've seen on this blog that I keep it varied.

I'm obviously still on a learning curve.

It wasn't that long ago that I was an Assistant Cub Leader, and I've been trying to adjust my approach for the different ages ranges... and for a while I was getting away with it. But I think more adjusting may be needed.

And then the scouts go and surprise me again!

Just when I am thinking that I must be the worst scout leader on the planet, and have the smallest troop in the UK (I only have about 8 sprogs now), and that frankly I'm a failure and should just retire for the sake of the children (oh please won't someone please think of the children).... just when I have all that running through my head, the scouts pull it out the bag.

One of the most peaceful and enthusiastic nights I've had in a while.

We put on some basic skills bases, just to jog there memory. Knots, pioneering, recovery position and bandages. And even tho we were covering the basics, they all seamed to enjoy it, and the all paid attention.

I really don't understand these sprogs sometimes! (How did my leaders manage it when I was in scouts?!)

Oh, and to the one that left...

Thank you!

It takes some courage to admit that you're no longer enjoying something. I hope that you enjoy whatever you go onto do next, where ever it may be. You were actually a really good scout, and I am sorry to see you go... I'm just sorry I couldn't be the leader that you deserved.

If ever you wish to come back, then you're more than welcome.

3Nations: Scout Project and Ulaanbaatar

Right, I realise that it has been an age since my last 3Nations post, so please go to the expedition page to remind yourself what happened.... go on.... go on, go on, go on...

sorry about that, was channeling Mrs Doyle there!

I've made it a New Years resolution to get these done, it will happen!

Thursday 23rd July 2009

Given that the whole program has been thrown a bit off kilter; what with the storm, evacuation and moving the entire site; today was trying to get it back on track. So our plan was to head into Ulaanbaatar, for a bit of community service and culture.

All aboard the minibus! woo hoo

First stop on our magical mystery tour is the scout service project. This service project actually began before we had even left the UK. Money from the project and our fundraising was being used to build an official scout hall in Ulaanbaatar (and if I remember correctly it would be the first purpose built scout hall in Mongolia). The builders had been busy building the hall, our job during the trip was to paint the inside.

Our instructions were, well... basic to say the least.

"Blue, blue, purple, white"

... that and being handed the pot of paint and some brushes. Well, we say paint. It was more like blue water, but hey, you work with what you have!

The blank patch in the corner is damp from the storm two days before (the one from evacuation day)

Right into all those cracks!

You can see how thin the paint was... we had to do quite a number of coats

That little hut outside isn't storage... it's the toilet. We had been warned by previous aravts about this little hut of horrors and its preilous drop of doom.

After numerous hours of this we were taken to a shopping center food court. Food! And it's NOT mutton! It's even in the shape of pizza *mmmmm pizza* (scarily this was the one type of food that I missed the most during the trip)

After our meal that me, if not anyone else, happy we set off on our next stop on the magical mystery tour of Ulaanbaatar... the black market. Now don't worry, this is actually nothing illegal and doesn't hold any of the negative connotations that it does in the UK.

Aside from looking for some traditional mongolian stuff for souveniers, we had a rather bizarre shopping list:
  • Lino (for the floor of our ger, as our last lot got damaged)
  • a flat cap for Dan (because he decided that he would rather look a bit more dapper)
  • a hard hat for Pete (as he keeps hitting his head on the low ger doors... even knocking himself out cold one time!)
  • SWEETS!!! (just because... I don't need a reason for sweets)

 And given that it had started to rain just as we were about to leave the black market the lino doubles as a handy group umbrella!

...we didn't get random looks from the locals, so siree

We'd asked Annie and Tempka (the Mongolian Scouts who acted as our guides for our time in Mongolia) where we could get some souveniers, something traditional, so an extra shop at the imaginatively named 'Souvenier Shop' was squeezed in. And I really do mean that it was squeezed in, we pretty much had to run from it to our next stop, the theatre!

I got this traditional horse brush

Us Networkers can actually be cultured at times.... honest.

We were there to see a performance by a Mongolian orchestra. It was quite stunning actually, all the musical instruments were traditional Mongolian (including the flute and the horse head fiddle I tried on our day on site) and it also featured throat singing. I doubt that I would ever be able to sing like that (and given that your throat can bleed if you do it wrong I'm not exactly lining up to learn if I am honest).

ok, the horse head fiddle is funky... but check out the really cool Mongolian Clarinet in the background!



They also featured some dancers and gymnastics to give the musicians a bit of a break.

All very bright and colourful and impressive... educational as well given that they had a LED display at the side translating and explaining stuff in english (how thoughtful)

Given this rather busy day, we were starting to get hungry again so were taken to a small local restaurant for our dinner where we were taught the Mongolian method of drinking vodka (ie. vodka and mixer in seperate glasses, neck the vodka and then the mixer)

From there... well, let's just say that a drunken return trip to the campsite is even more fun when the music is pumped up, you are literally bounced off your seats at the back of the minibus and its after midnight when you return.

Thanks for those I borrowed pictures from, pictures of the show are from

It's 2011... what already?!

Happy New Year!


and cause I've been looking up loads of stuff about the places...

Gott Nytt År
(that's Swedish by they way) 

ein gutes neues Jahr
(should be German)

gleðilegt nýtt ár

and... laimingų Naujųjų Metų
(which hopefully will be Lithuanian)

Yeah, I'm feeling particularly international at the moment. Propably down to the fact that I have been researching stuff for future camps abroad. As you all know, my grand plan for the scouts is to take them abroad every other year (and every other time abroad would be to Kandersteg International Scout Centre in Switzerland).... so every scout would get the opportunity to experience scouting at Kandersteg and somewhere else in Europe once before moving up to Explorers (I'll leave further afield to the older sections).

Last year we went to Kandersteg, which means that 2012 will be somewhere else is Europe... but where? I've whittled it down to three options (that was a lot of whittling) for my troop, and their parents, to choose from.
1) Austria
2) Germany
3) Iceland

Some of that information has been emailed out to them now, so just waiting for the votes to come in!

Why the Swedish and Lithuanian at the start you ask...?

Well, this year is the Jamboree of course! And what is more I learned shortly before Christmas that I will be going to Lithuania for Home Hospitality.

I just can't believe that it's 2011 already!