Clay Pidgeon Shooting

No animals or birds were harmed in the making of this post.

Clay shooting is something I knew James wanted to try. It came up as an activity at Center Parcs, however this was a laser version and I knew I could buy the real experience as a gift quite cheaply so moaned that I didn’t want to do this at our winter holiday week.

I bought this as a Christmas present through Virgin. It was quite trickly to book up, the online booking line didn’t work and the phone was never answered, but after a while we were booked in for a late winter weekend. We like to enjoy these things together so I booked myself in too.

On arrival I was a little nervous. It seemed like a clichy club, who were we to trespass? The reception was a little cabin and we were told we could collect our free hot drink and roll from the food stand. We weren’t all that keen so skipped that part.

There was a group of 9. James and I appeared at one end of the group so were picked to go first. I marked off James’ scores as he shot. The first couple he missed but once he hit it there was no stopping him.

I was up next. The instructor was a friendly older guy. I found the instruction a little difficult to understand at first but between each shot he corrected where I went wrong. The first type of shot was straight up. Holding the rifle I lifted it to above the treeline and shot when it reached the peak. I had been nervous that I wouldn’t hit one so when I got my first one, after a few misses, I felt great.

My Dad was worried I would bruise my shoulder due to the recoil but I never experienced this. The instructor would place the rifle on my shoulder so this must help avoid any injury.

There was one instructor for the nine of us so we had a long wait between goes. Everyone else in the group was pretty good too. Lots of chat about Call of Duty.

The second round saw a different type of shot. The clay would be fired away fron you, into the distance. James couldn’t get the hang of this one so when I went up and hit 3 in a row I think I showed him up! (But more likely he did it to make me feel confident!)

The final shot was two clays. The first one going away from you then the second one high in the air. This was a good challenge and I hit a fair few. This activity was the sort that once you got the hang of it you wouldn’t miss many.

It was great to try a new sport, though it isn’t an activity I’m in a rush to do again. In case you’re wondering James beat me over the three rounds, but only just! Plus, should the zombie apocolypse arrive, and suddenly everyone has a gun like TV, I know how to handle it!


Opportunites missed – The Senior Section

I’ve been a leader in Girlguiding for 5 years, I was 19 when I started. About six months after I joined up a Guide moved up to become a Young Leader with us and was given lots of information on ‘The Senior Section’ by our District Commissioner. This was something I’d never heard of and given no information about. To everyone and myself I was a Brownie Leader in Training.

It took a while for me to realise I was a Senior Section member. I started looking into what that meant and started this blog when I discovered ‘Look Wider’  – a personal development programme to give young adults new experiences. There is no unit close to me so I started looking at doing things by myself and recording it here. I soon realised that without the motivation of a group this didn’t work but I continued this blog as I do try lots of new experiences and challenges.

Then, last August, I discovered something about The Senior Section that was REALLY me. Peer Education. This is a training for members aged 14-25 to understand how to run specialist sessions on tough subjects. You are then able to run these sessions with Brownies, Guides and Senior Sections groups anywhere. I was 23 at the time, and you can only run these session up until your 26th birthday. I had to get a wriggle on.

The dates on the website showed one coming up close by so I booked the weekend off work and sent my application form. I heard back that it was full. Another date was offered but I had plans. I was told to keep an eye on the website for new dates.

2013 went by and nothing new came up, so I emailed to check for more dates. Suddenly there was something going on in March. A few weekends time. This was too soon for me as I had solicitors to see and mortgages to arrange. I checked the website today to find two more weekends. One is Brownie Holiday weekend, another is the weekend after that. No chance I’d get another 2 days holiday from work straight after the Holiday weekend.

So here I sit again. Desperate to become a Peer Educator but nowhere to go. No one in the District to call in to complete ‘Free Being Me’ – the new body image resource. And no one to run it for the rest of the District either.

Time running out is a horrible feeling which I never experienced as a Brownie or Guide, but as a Senior Section member – who never knew she was a Senior Section member – I feel I am losing opportunities that would not just benefit myself.

My friend and I discussed opening a Senior Section unit ourselves. It would be hard work, balancing Brownies, work, the new home, my personal life and a new unit, but there needs to be someone out there who understand The Senior Section and can get this message out to the younger members who don’t know it exists!

Big Brownie Birthday Party Holiday Preparations

Each year Brownie Holiday preparations seems to get more complex. Well, except the first year. The qualification took a LOT of time and I was lucky that I had a month’s wait on my new job to spare the time. Many aspects of Brownie Holiday prep come from adjusting the previous year’s documents, but activities each year are different.

You may have seen from my blog last week I tested the Big Brownie Birthday cake recipe as found in the Brownie Annual 2014. (My family have been eating it all week, it was awesome!) Another Birthday Party related item I created was a piñata. This led me to try creating something from paper-mache. “Two parts glue, one part water,” an Art Attack phrase that never left a vault in my brain, a quote that I have held without ever using until now. And how amazing to get my hands messy without looking over my shoulder at a Brownie asking for the toilet.

I didn’t know how many layers to do. I don’t want it opening after one hit. But I think I went too far instead. At least it should mean Guides and Leaders can also take turns!

After the paper-mache balloon dried I came to decide how to decorate it. I could’ve gone with an owl, but I always think it looks a little self-centred as the only owl in our group. I also didn’t want Brownies telling Mum and Dad they hit Brown Owl with a baseball bat.

I went for Brownie branding colours instead. The circle design I found through Pinterest and I was surprised at how effective it came out. It will make a nice decoration for the house until it comes to smashing it open! I’m very proud of it and do not think the photo, with this lighting, does it justice.


One aspect of Brownie Holiday prep that I take from the previous year but also update is the holiday diaries. This is an important document for the Brownies as it is part of the Brownie Holiday Badge syllabus. They keep track of what activities they have done, document the healthy food they eat, the sports they play and show they know what clothes are appropriate for the weather. Plus a few quizzes and puzzles thrown in too. Each Brownie Holiday has a theme, and so does the diary – updated with related clipart to help them remember their special weekend.

It all takes time, sometimes time that I really don’t have, but the end product makes it worth it. I hope this all adds to an exciting Big Brownie Birthday weekend!


Thorpe Park … One Last Time!

Seriously, Thorpe Park AGAIN? Anyone who knows me would think we must be getting sick of the theme park. Don’t get me wrong, we are not heading there each month. Our last day out there was 5 months ago. But for people our age it certainly is a lot of visits!

Being Merlin annual pass holders we were offered the chance to attend a preview weekend before the park opens for the season on 20th March. I believe the idea is to give the rides a test run and to give the new staff a test run too. This was perfect timing too as our Merlin passes run out at the end of the month so was a great way to end the amazing year.


We always head to Rush first, usually a rookie move as a lot of people will be attracted by this as they enter the park. But the queue line showed we would likely get on the next cycle so we headed straight in. This ride seems to run shorter than it used to but it is our favourite of the standing rides. As the ride came to a close I had a bad feeling which proved right as the ride malfunctioned. We weren’t worried and pointed out the lock/unlock keyhole that would get us out quickly enough. No need though as an engineer walked up to our swing, pushed it a little and thumbs up we were good to go!


I always love Saw. On our last visit, before the fright night preview evening, we queued over an hour for this as we waited for it to get going after a sickness bug. This time it was walk on. This was the moment we realised we were in for a good day. I wish they would do something inside the ride at the point with all the air is blasted. I think it is meant to simulate the arrow shots but it never worked for me. Good ride but it felt a little rough. Maybe I’m getting old?


We headed through the park at Colossus queue was at 40 minutes and Nemesis was at 45. Stealth was a lovely 5 minutes so we headed around a few times. We noticed our photo always looks the same. Both of us with our arms up and mouths open. So I tried to change that by waving my hand in James’ face for the photo. As anyone who has ridden Stealth will know you move off too quick to get the photo you want. James moved his face too quick for my hand to cover his face for the photo, instead it appeared that I had just punched him in the face and he was reclining away from it! Good photo but never worth the cost.


From Stealth we had tried to see the wait time for Swarm, it is a bit too far to see. (Although the new wait time sign are much larger which is a bonus for short-sighted thrill seekers like myself.) The queue again was minimal and most times walk on unless you wants front or back. We did this plenty of times in all seats (but only on the far side of the coaster, no idea why people queue for the near side). I LOVE this coaster. So smooth. No restrictions, aside from your body being held in obviously. I love just flailing around in the air!


We headed towards Nemesis and could see the queue was still massive, why? We watched for the queue time screen and saw Colossus was only 5 minutes so off we trotted. Outside the ride it said 40 minutes. What a cheat! We decided the have a look in the queue line and could see the 5 minute time was correct, others may have been put off like we were! Colossus is a one off ride, every time we get off we realise we are too old for this one. Before the first drop you’re knocked to one side which bangs the head. The least smooth ride with the least personal space. My least favourite rollercoaster here to be honest. Why can’t they sort this out?


This was where we realised we were too old. It felt like we were queuing for an under 18s club night. The coaster is so tiny when it arrives! Long gone are the backwards in the dark days. This was truly a great of coaster when I was a kid. Now it felt like a train ride in the dark. We did enjoy the light tunnel at one point on the track. But this isn’t one to return to unless you’re a pre-teen.


This ride took AGES to get going. James and I discussed our dinner plans while we swung gently back and forth. And once it does get going you have about 2 good swings before it stops again. I don’t mind though, nice to have a sit down.


Was gutted we couldn’t have a boat to ourselves but this was a fun ride, especially considering the glorious day we had. We had a little soaking, a nice bumpy ride and again, a nice sit down!

We headed around these rides a couple of times. Note that Samurai was closed today. We headed home about 3:30pm as we had done all we wanted. Was gutted about Nemeses but with everything else a 5 minute queue we refused to join the mayhem of this one.

And so ends our Merlin Annual Pass year. A great one, but not to be done again anytime soon as we have already done all the attractions. The only ones we are likely to return to are Thorpe Park and Alton Towers and we will find 2 for 1s on these.

Extra note: lots of families. Probably the best time to take the kids as less crowds. But it was the first time I truly felt the shift from thrill seekers to families. The introduction of Angry Birds land is surely to appeal to younger kids. Why do this though? Well, what more can Thorpe Park do? They must think they’ve topped it with Swarm and Stealth and Saw, so why try anymore extremes when they can target a younger audience. I’m gutted, I love the thrills. Hopefully we will get this fix later this year at PortAventura!

Brownie Annual – Not Just For Kids!

This post is acting strange. Paragraphs keep vanishing. I’ll try to rewrite it quickly but it’ll have to be a condensed version now.

Brownies chose PARTY – Hostess badge as their theme for Brownie Holiday. Very fitting with the 100 years celebration of Brownies! They will be decorating the hall with paper chains, balloons and paper plate spirals. Making party invites, prizes and party poppers. Making a plan for their party and making up party games in their Sixes to run for the others. And what would be a birthday party without a cake!

I’m not much of a baker so needed a recipe. And what luck. The Brownie Annual 2014 has the perfect recipe! Why do I have an annual at age 24? It has become a regular novelty gift from my assistant leader Mother. And it comes in handy too! So with the Brownie Annual’s help I managed to bake a cake. I learned a few things too:

1. Read the recipe fully and be sure to add milk when they tell you to.

2. Mango mixed with icing sugar was not thick enough.

3. Use grease proof paper in the cake tins (although this wasn’t really a problem!)

4. Turn the cakes up side down to get a nice flat cake surface.

On Brownie holiday each six will make a layer so it will be three layers. However it does need to be sliced into 20 so everyone will still have a decent piece of cake. How did mine turn out?


Lots of runny icing! And all on a hilly topped cake too. After this I moved it into a cake tin without the moat of mango surrounding it. The chocolate layer was far too rich, almost chocolate brownie type cake. Less cocoa powder and more milk needed. The mango layer was lovely! Really fluffy with only a slight hint of mango flavour.

On putting the ingredients away I found a lemon icing mix in the cupboard. Perfect! This would come out a better, ticker shade of yellow than my mango attempt did. Plus the girls will still get to mask the mango for the cake. And I never would have thought of mango in a cake if it weren’t for the Brownie Annual 2014! Maybe I even have a new hobby.