Brownies: Out with the old and in with the little!

Now, that isn’t derogatory. It is actually a sad time as we say goodbye to those girls who we have shared experiences with for the past 2-3 years. We’ve watched them grow and become more confident and unique individuals. But they’re older and will get far more out of Guides than they will out of Brownies.

We have a tradition between our Brownie and Guide group that a Brownie’s final meeting is also their first Guide meeting. I don’t know how far this goes back, but I certainly had this initiation for my transition. It can feel like a long evening, 3 and a quarter hours of Guiding fun. But the girls have never complained.

Our unit also give our leavers two gifts. The first is a pin badge ‘Brownies was an adventure’ which they can attach to their Guide uniform to show they were once a Brownie. The second is a photo frame containing a picture of one of their Brownie adventures. There used to be a cute photo frame available from the Girlguiding shop but since they stopped this we have been writing Brownies on a standard frame. We also write on the back of their photo the dates they were a Brownie so one day when they go to take that photo out they will remember.

The same evening the older girls leave us we welcome new faces. The first evening of term can be a busy one! We welcomed in three new Brownies this week. (A fourth unfortunately got lost on her travel to us!) When a new girl joins she is immediately paired with a Brownie Buddy – a girl who had been with us around a year but maybe won’t have the opportunity of being a Second for a while. Both new Buddies were thrilled with their new role and got into showing the new girls around, introducing everyone and helping them with their ‘Becoming a Brownie’ activity book.

Marshmallow Fun

Our meeting last night was a fun, messy and tasty evening. I recently blogged about my day helping Brownies around the country at our national Thinking Day event ‘Celebrate’. I was in charge of the Marshmallow Igloo activity. When we took the girls to the event on the second day we didn’t have time to do this so thought why not bring it into our meeting!

For those of you unaware a Marshmallow Igloo is just a building exercise using mini marshmallows as snow blocks and icing as glue to help hold the structure together. There were varying ranges of ability. Some younger girls were happy to just make a little block of igloo flats, others built the colosseum or Stonehenge. Some older girls started out very big with their base and realised it would be too time consuming to make it so wide. The roof for the igloo proved difficult. Only one came close by a Brownie with help from a Brownie Helper (14 year old Guide).

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As soon as the time came the girls were quite happy to gobble down their creations!

One thing I was very pleased with this evening was the welcoming of our new girls. We used to try games evenings on a Brownie’s first meeting but found that the new girls were missed out and looked lost, despite having a Brownie Buddy. With this activity the new girls were sat with new friends and felt part of the group.

The Brownies asked if they could work in pairs on their igloos, some chose to do this and immediately after freeing the girls to set up the tables a Brownie was by the side of a new girl:

“Oh, did you two already know each other?” I asked Brownie M and new girl T.
“Yes” Brownie M replied.
“How do you know each other, school?” I ask.
“No, Brownie Buddy H introduced us just now.” Brownie M replies before leading her new friend to a table.

In fact, two of the new girls were best friends who joined together and they even chose to sit at different tables with different girls. Even good friends sat apart as they enjoyed the company of their Brownie friends who were leaving us that evening. Only two sets of Best Friends were sat together, the rest formed new friendships over the evening which was my favourite thing about last night.

The real story behind Stinky Pete and Lotso

As much as I was overjoyed to see Toy Story 3 in cinemas when it was released in 2010, I was disappointed. Not with Andy giving away the toys, not with the film’s story being too similar to Toy Story 2, but my own personal disappointment that my villain theory was incorrect.

During the time when the film’s trailers were around the internet and it was clear that Lotso was the villain of this story, I had a very clear and, in my mind, very likely theory as to the true nature of this sweet scented bear. It turned out the be false, but I was adamant before stepping into the cinema that I had it cracked.

Stink Pete, The Prospector, was dressed up as Lots ‘ O’ Hugging Bear!

It is actually a little creepy, now that I think about it, but it made sense to me. Watching TS3 again last night I considered how this would’ve worked in their universe…

So, we are aware that The Prospector spent his life in a box. He was the comical sidekick to Woody, a fellow Round Up Gang member with Jessie and Bullseye. See, the boys all wanted a Woody doll, and the girls loved a strong female character so went for the Jessie dolls. If the kid was lucky they’d have a Bullseye companion. But who wanted the Stinky Pete doll? Not many, hence poor old Stinky was left behind. He watched as all the others gained homes and waited for the day a child would gaze into his face and smile.

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It never happened. He was shipped around, sat in his box, and avoided the dump on several occasions. He was then discovered by Al, a toy collector, who could see his worth still mint in box. He went into storage again, but with a clear aim to be admired as a display doll. The only one of his kind.

Woody and the gang spoiled his one hope for meaning to his sorry life and he ended up in the hands of a child named Amy. Amy was an artist. On discovering a stinky old man doll she designed a pretty dress, covered his face in stars and put him on display on her shelf with the other random dolls she had accumulated and made over. She made one other alteration before his exile, she pinged the plastic grey spike from it’s wooden handle and replaced it with another piece of brown plastic. A walking stick, if you will. It was the only way to keep the wobbly old toy from falling over and a weapon just didn’t suit his outfit.

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Again, Stinky’s life was about watching as other dolls were played with. But no toy more so than that bear. A purple bear that sat pride of place on Amy’s bed. Every night she would smell his head and fall asleep with the soft bear in her arms. Stinky detested that bear. That bear never made any attempt to let Stinky join the group. All the girly dolls, the Barbies, the ponies and the fairies, no one wanted anything to do with Stinky Pete.

When Amy’s mum hit the bedroom with a black sack in hand Stinky was the first to fall victim to the yard sale. Again, he watched as all the other toys were picked up and given new homes with new kids who looked excited by them.  One boy picked up Stinky. He held Stinky close to his face and examined the drawings all over him. Then he laughed at the dress and as his Mum called out the boy dropped Stinky to the ground. Here he stayed until Mum packed up and headed inside. Stinky still out by the dustbins.

Stinky left. He had no where to go. He strolled the streets, angry, bitter and alone. Then he met some others. There were other toys on their own adventure. As Stinky approached the toys he recognised one of them. It was that bear. That smelly, purple bear. People always called him Stinky Pete but he never actually stunk like that bear did. Stinky decided to hold back, he watched the group and waited for his moment.

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This bear looked a sadder bear. He didn’t look like the smug one that Amy hugged every night. Oh, how much Stinky wished he had a child to hug him. If only he was soft and smelled nice, rather than a plastic old man with a repelling name. He hated that bear so much. He waited for his moment, that smelly old bear was alone. At first he greeted the bear, found out he was known as Lotso and that he and his two friends were on their way back to their owner, Daisy’s, house. An owner? These toys were owned too? They were hugged at night and loved by a child?

Stinky grew angry. He wanted all that Lotso had! He ripped open the smelly bear, pulled out chunks of his stuffing, and while no one was around he climbed inside…

Still using his walking stick to get around this hollowed out Lotso, really Stinky Pete, told his friends Big Baby and Chuckles that their journey had made him tired. The three travelled on to Daisy’s house and as they reached her window and peered in they saw another Lotso in Daisy’s arms! Not again! Stinky was furious. This was his chance to be loved. Big Baby and Chuckles planned to wait outside for Daisy to find them but Stinky demanded they all leave.

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Together they found Sunnyside and were taken in. Stinky, from within his Lotso costume, felt the joy of being played with for the very first time as these young children hugged and cuddled the bear. This is what he wanted, what he deserved, and he wanted to keep it for himself.

Stinky got to work on taking over Sunnyside. He gave off a caring nature that the toys all fell for. It didn’t take long for Stinky to have everything he desired. He finally had the life he wanted. Until that cowboy doll turned up again…

That is how I see it.

I didn’t understand why Kesley Grammer wasn’t voicing Lotso. I thought the chubby shape, the older character and the WALKING STICK were massive giveaways! I didn’t know Lotso’s back story, but I thought there must’ve been a time when Stinky Pete took on an old, beat up cuddly bear skin and used it to become a loved toy.

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So, did this ever cross the mind of anyone else? I thought it might be a common idea but I found it difficult to find anyone else writing as such online. Maybe I just have weird ideas. I don’t know. I thought it might be an interesting plot twist though.

My first 20 minute run in 3 months

Yes, I haven’t been running. I did a couple after Christmas but with the new work timetable it became difficult to even run twice a week. My hip was pretty bad too. I can have as many excuses as I like, but I needed to get back on the horse.

I started last Monday with a 5 minute walk, 10 minute run, 3 minute walk, 10 minutes run, 5 minute warm down walk. (Known as Week 6 Run 2 to you couch 2 5k nerds.) I did this again on Wednesday and they were both a bit sluggish. I didn’t want to push myself too hard and give up.

Today I did a 5 minute warm up walk, 20 minute run, 5 minute warm down walk. Week 5 Run 3. I was extremely happy with this run. With such a long break and no real exercise to take its place I couldn’t imagine taking on 20 minutes and I had been nervous before. But in reality this was an easy run for me, easier than the 2 sets of 10 minutes. I could’ve gone for longer too.

Coming back into running after 3 months I knew it would be stupid to take on 30 minutes, but it was difficult to decide where I did place myself in terms of Couch 2 5k.

(For those of you unaware Couch 2 5K is an awesome running podcast series by the NHS, which is free, that will get you from no running experience to running for 30 minutes and approximately 5k. It is amazing, just search couch 2 5k).

But I think I picked the right ones. I’ll do a few more 20 minute runs to get myself back into the swing of it before moving on to 25 minutes, 28, and finally back to 30 minutes.

I was inspired by the marathon last weekend. I want to get to that level. I should challenge myself but that never really works out. For now I’ll challenge myself to be back to 5k by the summer. That sounds fair. I can take it from there.

Madame Tussauds & Ghost Bus Tour

So back in February James and I took a stroll around London. It was valentines day and we both took the day off work to share it together. It is a good reminder that we need to enjoy each others company amongst the chaos going on around us.

Madame Tussauds was not the activity of choice for either of us. We had done it in Blackpool and found all the London cast offs to be rather funny. However we chose to hit this attraction as it was one of a few we hadn’t reached using our Merlin Annual passes (RIP). We had an evening planned at Pizza Express and on the Ghost Bus Tour. This was a mere warm up.

On entry to the attraction we were very confused. We were handed a couple of wrapped items and told to go up the stairs. At the top were a large group of people who were all just lingering around, not taking photos, no effort to get in the lift, I have no idea why they were standing there as a staff member directed us straight into a lift.

We are probably world record Madame Tussauds visitors. We aren’t really fans of posing with the models, only a few funny ones. We spotted John Wayne early on, James’ Mum’s favourite actor. Her birthday as coming up so we jumped in for a selfie.

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We enjoyed the Marvel part too, even if it was quite short. The 4D cinema experience was a bit of fun but clearly for younger Marvel fans. We got stuck in posing with the models here though:

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It would be a good afternoon of fun for anyone who loves all things celebrity and love a good selfie, but we were not in our element at Madame Tussauds. We headed off to Charing Cross for a lovely Pizza Express before wandering down a dark Northumberland Avenue.

We were early for the Ghost Bus Tour but were greeted by a mysterious conductor who took our details and in response gave us the number 4 “the ghost told me to tell you”. This would’ve been more scary had he been clearer though as I started looking through my paperwork for reference numbers and started rattling them off. We waited for the bus confused, with our only knowledge the number 4.

The Ghost Bus Tour arrived and in the eerily dark February evening looked like this:

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Crowds of people had arrived by this point and flooded to the bus doors to get their seats. A conductor appeared blocking their path. “You will be seated in order of your arrival number 1 please”. Woohoo! I was so pleased. Being number 4 gave us great seats. We sat at the top front so could have a good view of everything on our side. The curtains (used for a gimmick at the end) were slightly annoying but couldn’t complain about the seats.

The tour is a good one if you like mysteries, crime and all things creepy about London. A story ran through the tour as well about a ghost on board the bus too which was a bit of a laugh.

I wasn’t happy with the walking part, I understand the bus probably couldn’t go down the route we needed to see this part but I’d rather skip it and stay cosy on the bus.

Some may find the acting and story cheesy and annoying, if you’re looking for straight forward facts about London this probably isn’t the best one for you. But for a funny, spooky night out this is fab! A perfect way to spend time with the one you love the most!

What ‘How I Met Your Mother’ was, or should’ve, been about

Yes, I’m late. The world came to terms with the awful ending to ;’How I Met Your Mother’ over two weeks ago. I’d been watching season 9 at my own pace but when I saw the uproar I sped through the last 16 episodes to find out what the fuss was about.

Spoilers!

I quite liked most of the finale. Even though most of season 9 was building up to Barney and Robin’s wedding I bought that their relationship worn down after 3 years and the couple divorced. I could see them working out as a couple who divorced but stayed friends. Barney didn’t need to regress to being a womanizer. Perhaps Barney could’ve rekindled a past relationship which he was now man enough to commit to. Had a baby in a loving relationship and still had his ‘I will love you forever’ moment with his daughter. Robin would’ve focused on her career before meeting someone who understands her desire to travel. The gang could’ve stayed together.

They didn’t need to kill the mother! In a show called ‘How I Met Your Mother’ she should have been the end game! We got to know Tracey and love Tracey through season 9. We saw her and Ted’s instant connection through missed meetings and shared interests. This character was deigned for Ted and after all his year’s of waiting he found the woman he was meant to be with.

That is what this show should’ve been about. I understand they shot an ending with the kids while they were still teenage enough to do so and, without knowing what the future held, they got it all wrong.

Ted wasn’t telling the kids this story because he was still in love with Robin, it was because he was telling his kids that it is okay to wait for love. The daughter may have been through a tough heartbreak, and Ted was reassuring them that even through all his past romantic disasters, even though he was ready to meet the one, ready to commit and have his kids, the one just wasn’t there. He had to wait.

There were three main relationships throughout the series. Marshal and Lily, first loves, met as teenagers and were (almost) never apart. This is rare but does happen. Robin and Barney, two people who couldn’t commit to relationships, but that was okay. They had their perfect time together and moved on. And then Ted and Tracy, waiting years to find each other and though they were a little later in life still had their family experience together. Everyone gets what they want.

Ted was teaching his kids through his stories that relationships are hard, but things do work out how they should. They shouldn’t rush love, even when it comes to them young. They shouldn’t settle too quickly if they aren’t ready. And they shouldn’t get disheartened when their true love doesn’t come knocking the minute they’re ready for them.

A little reflexology

I had my first session of reflexology yesterday. I may have mentioned I work admin in an adult college and sometimes there are perks. I’ve taken home beautifully decorated cakes before and some amazing balloon artistry. I’ve learnt the odd Spanish word and can always get help with my spelling. But yesterday was my first ever treatment.

One learner didn’t have a client to bring in for his reflexology assessment, and with all the computer systems down I was asked to step in. I didn’t know much about the treatment except it was foot related. Unfortunately I have extremely ticklist feet!

Before the treatment I was introduced to the learner and filled in some consultation stuff. I was immediatly informed that this learner couldn’t speak much English. This made for a lot of confusion.

The treatment started and I was lowered back in a garden type chair. I braced myself through being tickled but it wasn’t so bad, only my toes! The treatment showed my headaches I’d had recently but also problems with my knees. I’d had this trouble when I’d been running but with my break I’d hoped this would get fixed.

The learner explained I should roll a golf ball around that area to assist this. Well, not straight away. He tried to tell me the words ‘golf ball’ and when he wrote it down and I finally understood I had no idea what was a golf ball and why it had ever come up!

I was surprised it was my knees that were the problem though, my big injury that led me to rest from running was my hip.

It was a strange treatment, the teacher told me it was quite different to the other learners as he included some things he had learned in Korea. Not that I would know what is what! I’m not rushing back to have this done again, I’m quite happy as I am.

My Top Adventures in Girlguiding

At the end of last year I started a series of 4 posts on the general consensus of Girlguiding. Here are the titles of the first three:

Girlguiding is not and never was a Christian Organisation
What you’ve read about Girlguiding may not always be true
The misunderstandings of Girlguiding

I realise I never finished it off with the fourth post. I decided to focus on what I was up to in my life then and wait for a little break like this Easter holiday to step back into my thoughts on Guiding. So here I lead into the
finale of this series (but clearly not my last post on Girlguiding):

My Top Adventures in Girlguiding

Pre-Brownie:

Yes, in most cases this stage is known as ‘Rainbow’ but as a 6 year old there was no Rainbow units in my area. My Mum was a Brownie leader though, and when the unit went on their last Brownie Holiday for over a decade my Mum went along each day to help… and I was welcomed along too!

The theme was Robin Hood and I was looked after by these big girl Brownies. I was taken under their wing and shown their way of life. We made jewellery and hats to match our princess role. We tried archery. We wrote in our holiday diaries. And we ate sweet corn.

At 6, this was by experience of Girlguiding, and I couldn’t wait to join!

Brownie:

I started just after my seventh birthday (I had been on the waiting list since I was 3) and I was given a sticker with my name on and introduced to everyone. I was put into the Kelpies Six – somewhere I would stay until my role as Sixer.

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My favourite Brownie adventure was to the Caves. We explored the dark, underground route – lead by a tour guide. The most memorable moment was running through one section as we were told ‘It was haunted’ and ‘we needed to be quick’. Way to scare a gang of 8 year olds!

I earned my chess badge. To some, that may sound like the most boring pastime, but it is something I still play today with my boyfriend. It is great for passing the time waiting for rollercoasters. I was tested alongside an older girl and we spent what felt like the entire evening moving our pieces around the board. Neither of us won, or even took other pieces, but we showed we knew how it worked!

Guide:

I transferred into my friends’ Guide group and had a great time with my friends. We had a pyjama night, earned our Parties Go For It, learned how to play bowls and made tie-dye t-shirts.

We were the first girls to become the Lion Patrol. There was a few animals to choose between and my friends and I liked the look of this one. This was a big difference between Brownies and Guides – the patrols were a group of friends. I was the Patrol second, my friend and I were both received equal votes to become leader but when everyone was given the choice I lost out 3-1!

My Guide journey was shorter than my Brownie one. Unfortunately I had some unruly girls in my unit and it much became about the leaders shouting at them rather than enjoying ourselves. I was receiving any benefit anymore.

Leader:

I re-joined Girlguiding a few weeks before my 19th birthday as I contemplated a career as a Primary School Teacher. My plan was to attend every other week, decide if the career was right for me, and leave after a few months service. 5 years later here I sit writing about my experiences!

My first achievement was completing my Leadership Qualification. It took a while but my mentor said I put more effort into my recordings than I needed to. I completed the work at a New Leader Training Day. My final item to complete was a leadership training in my section area. My mentor was there ad she reminded me to give my work into the leader running the day. As I gave it in she got the entire room quiet and congratulated me in front of everyone! It was scary, everyone looking at me, but felt great.

My next big achievement was packing up after our first Brownie Holiday. This unit hadn’t been away since that Robin Hood weekend when I was 6. After completing my leadership I was straight into researching going away. It was A LOT of work. I was lucky in the strangest way that I had two months between jobs. (I hadn’t in my notice a little too eagerly when I was offered work at a council college, I hadn’t factored in getting references from all 7 of my previous jobs). But these two months gave me all the time I needed to research ideas, plan activities, print all the posters and paperwork, write up everything, and generally freak out! The weekend didn’t go totally to plan, the rain took some of our activities indoors but it geld off so we could try the cresta run and archery. This has led onto two more Brownie Holidays, and plenty more to come!

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A one off event I ran with our unit was a trip to the Paralympic games. We watched the Paralympic athletics from the front row of the stadium and joined in the celebrations of Aled Davies winning Gold for Paralympics GB. Some visitors stopped me and asked how Brownies had managed to get so many tickets, they could only get a couple. I responded that we had bought our 22 tickets back in January, there wasn’t even any rush to book like you would a music concert. The Brownies had a great time. We gave them all a goodie bag filled with a homemade programme, an Olympic keyring, a UK flag and a few sweets. This was a better option than braving the on site shop. We did visit the Mascot House though and met the mascots and played some games. Some of the girls even took their tickets into school for show and tell the next week. This is a Brownie trip I’ll never forget.

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A few other stand out moments have been collecting 11 bags to send to Mary’s Meals Backpack Project, collecting together postcards from around the world for Thinking Day, setting up a pen pal exchange with some Girl Scout Troops in Florida and hearing one of my Brownies shout ‘This is the best day of my life’ at a Brownie activity day.

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In conclusion:

Being a Brownie is great, being a Guide is fun, but being a leader you can achieve anything and pass those experiences onto the girls you work with. People ask me why I bother. But, as cliché as it is, I get more out of it than the girls do!