Monthly Archives: March 2015

Edible Easter beasties

On our penultimate meeting of term, the Guides decorated little chocolate eggs.

We gave them a selection of ready-to-roll marzipan (for a yellow colour), ready-to-roll icing (white, some of which we put food colouring in, and also pre-coloured.  This was really popular as it was cartoonishly bright), water icing (again, white and coloured.  We didn’t have much because I forgot that I’d said I’d make some up and bring it with me – oops, bad Guider.  But we did have about half a packet, which was good for cementing the eggs onto biscuit bases), writing icing, and some leftover sweets and marshmallows we had hanging around.

I was really impressed with their creations!  As you can see, we didn’t insist on an Easter theme…20150316_194410 20150316_194416 20150316_194536 20150316_194551 20150316_194632 20150316_194653 20150316_194713 20150316_195423 20150316_195431 20150316_193950 20150316_193956 20150316_194021 - Copy 20150316_194028 - Copy 20150316_194050 20150316_194101 20150316_194112 20150316_194352 20150316_194402

In other news, I now have a smartphone (hello, 21st century) with a whizzier camera than my old broken camera, so better pictures should be forthcoming.

That kept them entertained for about an hour.  For the final part of the evening, we showed the girls a “baton” that is touring every Guide unit in our county in preparation for the county international camp in the summer.  We read out a message from the County Commissioner that went with it, about how much she was looking forward to the camp.  Those who are going wrote messages about what they hoped to get from it and stuck them inside the baton (it has a screw-top lid and was probably once a hot chocolate powder pot).

To give the non-camping Guides something to do, and to get ahead with programme-planning, we also asked them to write down what they’d enjoyed most this term and what they would like to do next term.  We had a quick look through afterwards and a lot of the suggestions were our usual summer term activities, so it should be easy to please them!

Super spa night

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The week before Mothers’ Day, the girls invited the significant women in their lives to Guides and gave them an evening of spa treatment.

As the ladies arrived, the Guides showed them to a seat, offered them a magazine to read, and brought them hot drinks and biscuits, while the leaders finished getting the beauty things ready.

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When we were ready, the girls asked their ladies what beauty treatment they would like.  We had hand/foot scrubs (sugar and oil), hand and foot lotion (yogurt and something else that made it pink and strawberry-scented for hands, green and peppermint-scented for feet), face masks (porridge oats and something else?), cucumbers for their eyes, and nail files, buffers and polish.

Unit Helper had done a brilliant job making up all the potions and lotions in advance.  She brought them along in big tubs and we decanted them into smaller bowls and cups which we could give to individual Guides.

As it was Unit Helper’s birthday, we thought she shouldn’t do any more work, so she sat down and was looked after by some Guides who hadn’t brought anyone with them.

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It was a fun evening, and I think nice for the mums and Guides to spend time together and for the mums to see roughly what a Guide meeting is like.  We only had about 2/3 attendance – most of the older girls and the ones who run a mile from the word “beauty” were absent – but maybe that was just as well as the hall was just comfortably full.  Lots of washing up at the end, but a good pleasant evening.

It takes a village to raise a Queen’s Guide, part 2

And I’d also like to thank…

Queen’s Guide Buddy, my sister in guiding, for motivating us to get started with two years to go, and for innumerable other things. I suppose I ought to give her a new pseudonym once it’s all finished.

My Queen’s Guide mentor, who is high up on my list of role models.

My Guides and all the Guides, Senior Section and Leaders who came to camp with us in 2013 for giving me the chance to do my 60 hours’ practical guiding service. 2 terms + a week at camp = 281.5 hours.

The Brownies, Young Leaders and Leaders of the local unit that let me run their pack holiday, a) to take on a responsibility new to me at a residential event, and b) to get my Going Away With licence to be able to do my exploration.

My mentor for my Going Away With licence, another local Brown Owl who also was also my Adult Leadership Qualification mentor, lucky her!

Two local Guide leaders who assessed me for said licence, and the County Indoor Residential Adviser for approving it.

The girls and adults in my division who came on the pantomime trip I organised to take an active part in the planning of an event involving at least two units.

The girls and adults at the region camp where I got involved in a working group/committee (i.e. running an activity zone).

My local Rangers for listening to a presentation about said camp.

My friends and QGB’s friends and boyfriend who joined us for our exploration.

My Guides (again) for joining in with our report of said exploration.

My boyfriend and his family for giving me my first crochet hooks, not to mention lifts, meals, and generalised support.

The volunteers and paid staff at my local public library for letting me join them and answering my questions for my community project.

My district Trefoil Guild for listening to a report of said project.

The Brownies, Rainbows, Senior Section and adults from the town where I live (but don’t do guiding) who let me join in with their holiday to get my residential experience where the majority of participants were unknown to me.

My County Queen’s Guide Adviser, County Commissioner and County Outdoor Adviser, who will soon (short of unforeseen disaster) sign the whole thing off.

Creative crafty cardmaking

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With a couple of weeks to go before Mothering Sunday, my Guides made cards for the special women in their lives, an activity that goes down in the term plan as “spring craft”. I suspect that long-term Guide mothers are wise to this.

The Guides are generally more imaginative and artistic than us leaders, so we set them off with a few pictures off Pinterest for inspiration (disclaimer: copy and paste others’ pictures at your own risk) and all our relevant art and craft stuff, in the hope that they would reduce the hoard a bit.

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They worked on that for almost an hour, as well as writing invitations to their mother/other special woman to come to next week’s meeting for a pamper night.

After that, we did an actually rather good tidy-up, played a round of Animal Splat, and sang “Riding on my big fat pony” – and not just because we had two new Guides and we wanted to show them that we do fun active things and don’t just sit at tables, although that was part of the motivation. A few announcements, a round of “Happy birthday to you” for one girl, and home we all went.

It takes a village to raise a Queen’s Guide, part 1


They signed my record book:

  • Unit Leader

  • Another Assistant Leader in my unit

  • Unit Helper

  • District Commissioner

  • A Brown Owl in my district (I borrowed her Brownies for a pack holiday)

  • Another Brown Owl in my district, wise in the ways of crochet and my friend since we were Rangers

  • A Brownie Leader from elsewhere in my county (I helped at her pack holiday)

  • The chairman of my district Trefoil Guild

  • A Trefoil Guild member, very wise in the ways of campfire songs and papercraft, whom I met at Region camp

  • The volunteer co-ordinator at my local library

It gives me the warm fuzzies to look through my book and see the signatures and nice comments of all these women – old friends and new, local and not so local, guiding and non-guiding – who have seen my on the way to getting that book signed off.


Pancakes 2015

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Pancake night is something we do at Guides pretty much every year. Last year I missed it, but this year I was there to join in the fun.

We asked the girls to bring along a clean empty tin can with one end intact and holes punched into it. I suggested about 10-20 pencil-width holes, but I should have specified they needed to be in the curved side, because one Guide came with lots of neat holes punched into the flat end – not so useful, because that’s where the batter goes. Well, we’ll know for next time.

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The leaders brought spare cans, household candles, tea lights, matches, hair ties, oil, batter, and toppings. We set the girls up at tables with big plates or baking trays in front of them, and melted the household candles onto the plates/trays so they stayed upright.

The Guides lit their candles and upended their cans over them so the flame heated up the flat end of the can. They put a spoonful of oil on the flat surface, let it heat up, then put on a couple of spoonfuls of batter to make a little round pancake. When it was cooked, they ate it with toppings and repeated.

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For a bit of variety, Unit Leader also brought along some foil jam tart cases which the Guides picked up with clothes pegs to make a mini pan that they could hold over their candle.

NB your average household candle is too tall to fit under an upturned tin can, so the Guides found they had to either break off the bottom of the candle, or let it burn down a few centimetres (meanwhile, they could use the foil tart case and clothes peg), or stand their tin on top of something (e.g. tea lights) so it would fit over the candles.

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It was a good evening, not only because it resulted in tasty pancakes all round, but also because it had the Guides thinking about way to overcome the various problems they encountered (flames going out, candles falling over, batter spillages, pancake stuck to the can, etc. etc.), experimenting with fire and cooking (we had some marshmallows as toppings, and it wasn’t long before a couple of Guides tried putting them on top of their pancakes while they were cooking; soon everyone was doing it), and working together (“Could you hold my tin steady while I scrape off the charred remains of this pancake?”). As usual, some of the girls who were most squeamish about lighting a match at the beginning of the meeting were happily playing about (safely!) with their lit candles by the end. Blog Pancakes (8) - Copy

World Thinking Day 2015

This year we had our Thinking Day celebrations on actual Thinking Day, since it was a Sunday. We did it as a district, nothing fancy, just a couple of hours of international-themed activities, squash and cake, renewal of Promises, a little singsong, and off we all go.

We had six rotating activities based on the three countries our international trip Guides and Young Leaders are visiting this year:

  • Japan (origami and races moving things with chopsticks)

  • India (making/decorating card elephants and drawing round hands then drawing on henna designs)

  • USA (s’mores and making the Golden Gate Bridge out of marshmallows and spaghetti)

I was on s’mores, along with Queen’s Guide Buddy and our old Young Leader who was back from university for a few days. The girls toasted marshmallows/veggie jelly sweets on skewers over tealights, and smooshed them with a square of chocolate between two digestives. Om nom nom. And only a couple of “burned” fingers. Yes, we did have a handwashing/cooling bucket to hand, and the girls did tie back their hair.

The girls went around in mixed-age and mixed-unit groups, decided by coloured name stickers as they arrived, which meant they got to hang out with some new people and the older ones could help the younger ones.

We also had the second round of the Great Girlguiding Bake Off. The three(ish) winners from each unit brought along another three decorated cupcakes, and our judges (a couple of Trefoil Guilders) named a winner and a runner up from each section. One of my Guides was runner up, but the winning Guide was from the other unit – she’ll be making something else for the Division round in March.

I’m relieved to say I didn’t win the adult competition, as I think my housemates are getting fed up with Victoria sandwich!

As expected, there were a lot of Rainbows and Brownies, but only a few Guides – and most of them were only there because they were in the Bake Off. Maybe a bit of a shame, as Thinking Day should be for them too, but they have more pressures on their time and I can see why a “fun activity afternoon” isn’t enough to tempt them. There were quite a few Senior Section helping out with activities, and some Trefoil Guilders, so we did at least have someone from every section of the guiding family.

A belated happy Thinking Day to my friends in Girlguiding and Girl Scouting everywhere.

The Great Girlguiding Bake Off, round 1

Anglia Region is holding a Great Girlguiding Bake Off this year (because everyone loves a bake off, right?) and we had the judging for the first round, at unit level, at the silent auction.

There were two Guide units there, and any Guide who wanted to had to make and bring in three decorated cupcakes. I was very impressed – I’m not much of a cake decorator so they were better than anything I’d do.

Two Trefoil Guilders did the judging and decided on 1st, 2nd and 3rd places for each unit.

There was also an adult round that leaders in our district could enter with a Victoria sandwich cake. I came 3rd, but before you get too impressed, there were only three entries!

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Silent auction (shhh!)

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The week before half term, instead of a normal Guides meeting, we held a silent auction as a fundraiser for local Guides and Young Leaders going on international trips this summer.

We organised it with little time to spare: we set the date a month in advance at our term planning meeting, and most of the publicity was done with less than two weeks to go. Our PR advisers would have preferred more notice, but it came off alright in the end.

If you’re unfamiliar with silent auctions, the first thing to note is that they’re not actually conducted in silence, but the bidding is done with pen and paper rather than by gesturing to an auctioneer.

The lots are laid out on tables with a bidding card next to each one, and lots of pens and pencils available. When it is announced that bidding is open, everyone is free to move around, look at the lots, and write their name and a bid price on a card if they want. If they come back to that lot later and find that someone has outbid them, they have to decide if they want to bid even higher or give up.

When the bidding closes, whoever has written down the highest bid on each lot wins it. They pay, pick up their prize and go home (hopefully) happy.

We had a wide range of lots, from small things the children could bid on with pocket money – little toys, sweets, themed goody bags that one leader put together from things she found in Poundland – to bigger prizes including pledges like babysitting and baking a cake offered by Guiding members, and vouchers and gifts kindly donated by local businesses.

I only wrote to local businesses (mostly email, a couple of letters) less than two weeks before the event, but I heard back from about 5 out of 30, which is a not bad response rate. I think the short notice worked fine for them – they were happy for someone to drop in and pick up the lot the day before. I made sure to follow up after the auction saying thanks again and letting them know how much we’d raised and that it was much appreciated.

On the night, we served tea, coffee, cake etc., and Unit Leader’s husband kindly came with his disco equipment to make announcements on the mic and play background music. Bidding was open for an hour and a half. There wasn’t a huge number of adults there – not members of the public, anyway; I think all were guiders or friends and families – but we still made a very respectable £420. I was pleased to win a haircut (I’ve had it now, and very please I am too, as it was long overdue) and a gift voucher for an art shop (haven’t used it yet, but I’m keeping it safe).

Between now and Easter, we have two more fundraising evenings coming up, because with four girls going abroad there’s quite a lot to raise. Let’s hope they go well, too.

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