11. Find the fun

Part 11 of my series on developing great leadership skills based on Girlguiding’s article here:

12 steps to becoming a great leader

“In tough times, a sense of humour gets us through, and it’s extremely useful for teaching those you lead new skills and tackling challenging issues.”

For this I want to reminisce over the times where I could relax being the authoritative figure and could just have a laugh with the Brownies.

Recently we had an evening making animal masks for the Friends to Animals badge. Rather than wandering the room and checking everyone was okay I found myself at a table where the newer Brownies had settled and started making a mask myself. This night was a brilliant way to get to know our new recruits. One especially is very quiet, but we spent the whole night working together and chatting about geckos like the one in Tangled. We all made up names for our alter egos while wearing our masks.

Another great time was on a Christmas sleepover. When we go to activity sites there isn’t usually time for us leaders to have a go at activities but one this day I had a go at a few things, such as caving. The Brownies had begged me to join them as some were scared and there I found myself crawling through a pitch black tunnel, but we all came out the other side sharing stories and some defeating their fears.

On the same sleepover, another lovely moment I won’t forget is the group of us, 6 Brownies and 2 leaders, having an impromptu singing of ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’, it was just a lovely moment.

The look on the Brownies faces when they saw my fellow leader and I racing to slot all the giant four in a row coins back onto the board was a treat! We just started putting the game away ready for next use and turned it into a race and the Brownies couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

I love any time that the Brownies suggest I have a go, one of the best times I took them up on it was at the ‘Spark’ nationwide event at the roller disco. Not only did I enjoy getting stuck in and having a go on roller skates for the first time in ten years I was also able to help a small Brownie skate for the first time too.

Finding the fun as leaders is essential, I have to remind myself sometimes I am a member of the unit too!


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!