3 Districts, 2 Counties, 1 shirt sleeve!

On Thursday I was walking my dog Oscar when I bumped into my local GSL, we got chatting about what they get upto and how the group was doing in my relatively new housing estate. The three youngest sections have been filled for the last 2-3 years so I’ve keenly been waiting for the Scouts to mature into a fine Explorer blend.

I’ve been really looking forward to this because the beginning of my career has not been as rewarding as I need so I’ve been strictly following the super-secret[1] ninth Scout Law: “A Scout is Thrifty” and being selective in what I commit to. I’ve been helping at a Explorer Unit for the better part of a year now, its been good and I’ve learnt a lot but I’ve not been very dedicated to it, with a local group I don’t have to worry about the cost of travel, I can walk/ride there every Thursday so I can make a greater commitment.

What I really like about this is apart from the 4-5 year old practically new and good condition equipment is we’ll be starting starting everything fresh. With everything blank we’ll have the first meeting sorted trying to create an identity, what do we call ourselves and the up and coming generations? Eagles, Panthers, Stags, Cobras? (My Scout Patrol names) or go for something abstract like Viking, Ayers or Solar? Its going to be very exciting!

However this raises the considerably minor problem; I’d be then working in 3 Districts in 2 Counties, I already have a a lot of badges on my right sleeve I can’t put them all on there! I could have separate shirts for each Unit but thats 3 times as much Ironing, not to mention how hard it was getting one new set of badges for my new Uniform I brought especially for Gang Show this year, let alone three!

I expect there are several people in multi-district Cities that don’t really mind that their badges are either wrong 1 or 2 times a week or just have the county badge on their right arm, but I spend the majority of my time in Northamptonshire and do some Scouting in Buckinghamshire a whole other county, I can’t even be unspecific about my district!

I’m not so keen on being right but now that I am taking on a greater commitment I want to show a greater dedication, even if it is just a 2 inch patch on my arm. As far as volunteers go Scouters (and Guiders) are very passionate about what we do so I imagine I’m not the first to deal with this sort of quandary, how do you show your involvement?

  1. * Actually its not really a super secret its one of the original 9 Scout Laws.

See You Next Year

Years ago the fad was to highlight important moments in movies using a certain gimmick, after a decade or so the gimmick receded to its usual medium and occasionally bobbed it head out to say hello. Usually it was well received, akin to a liked relative but, until very recently, there has been very little interest in inviting that relative on purpose.

I’m talking about Musicals; the spontaneous bursting out in singing and dancing. Mamma Mia has really brought the singsong into the limelight, Hugh Jackman whom a few can remember performed Curly in the Royal National Theatre’s Oklahoma! is a well established singer and brilliantly rendered the opening tribute to the 81st Academy Awards. I wasn’t expected something so bold, perhaps a comedy dialogue but the small cabaret routine blew me away. I digress, And of course for those of us in the geeky know; Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog a web based production by the (Joss) Whedon clan.

It seems that Musicals are back in fashion, but for some of us they never really have been out, the Milton Keynes Gang Show is 19 years old this year, Milton Keynes Scouting and Guiding have been at it for nearly 20 years we don’t do it because its a fad, we do it because the Stage is a magical place where anything can happen. What you can imagine can be made manifest, everyone says the perfect thing and acts at the right time. And its a whole lot of fun too!

It has always been a pleasure performing in the Milton Keynes Gang Show, based on the feedback, the close to capacity theatre crowds and the atmosphere backstage it was a huge success. It certainly has been great being back this year, catching up with everyone and seeing how the junior cast have grown up. By co-incidence I found a 2001 Programme in the cupboards, it was one of the last shows I was in before going off to University. Inside were pictures of the entire cast, including a very young me and many of my old Vortex V.S.U..

The moments that I’m going to keep with me the longest are Adam’s 120% volume onstage cockup when his recruits made him so angry he forgot his lines! I think I’m also going to fondly remember doing the Street Dance sketch, and its multitude of rehearsals, which as I mentioned in a one of my last posts I luckily landed.

It been a great 6 months and I can’t wait to do it again in another six, I hope you all enjoyed it too and we’ll see you next year

Birds of a Feather

Gang shows calling!” The Milton Keynes Gang show is starting rehearsals and auditions next week. It’s been a few years since I’ve been in the cast, regardless I’m still looking forward to it, hopefully I’ll be getting a few dance roles and not so many vocals, what can I say I’ve never really been any good at singing *shrug*.

Continue reading Birds of a Feather

Scout Network Gathering 2008

For the Milton Keynes Scout Network, the Network:MK, this is the one time of the year we can expect to see all our members. Whether it be University, work or disinterest that stops a member coming to the weekly meetings they are almost sure to turn-up for the Long Easter weekend in West Lancashire. It’s hard not to understand why; drinking, food, adventure, fun, friends and tents what more could you not possibly want from a weekend?

As such there is usually a major effort to co-ordinate transport, this year 8 cars full of people, equipment or both made the expedition. My chariot, the Aluminium Falcon, would be transporting the cheerful Faye, the cherubic Lisa and the tempestuous Kat. Originally I would’ve had Matt as well but a reshuffle meant I didn’t so there was more room for everyone else.

With my trusty Sat Nav I set off for Great Tower Campsite, however that is not where it was taking me! Luckily I corrected this problem mid journey however the arrival time I had told the passengers was much earlier so I had to bare the brunt of their dissatisfaction. I probably would’ve been able to get away without a sully to my character if I hadn’t lost faith from passenger doubt on the last leg; I turned the car around and asked for directions! Yes, I know, a bloke asking directions, but if I had just kept going for 100m I would’ve made it and no-one would’ve thought the less of me.

Most of the first day we just spent catching up with each other, you know how it is when you’ve not seen your closest ‘old skool’ friends in months. We kept to our own little site on the first evening, with beer flowing, good music and old friends why would you need much more? Although we weren’t on our usual site with our own private ‘lake’, admittedly we couldn’t fit on it anymore but it really was a nice site, the new tenants certainly seemed to be enjoying it.

Saturday, Day Two

The second days tends to be a lazy one, I was originally going to do Wii games in the morning just because it would be nice to play against some similarly aged Scout that most likely play a lot more than me, I figure even if I get my butt whooped at least I might pick up some tips. In the end I opted against this for a lay in instead, Saturday night always has the big band that you stay up for.

My afternoon activity was Horse riding, I can’t remember ever doing it before so this would be something new. I was expecting a quick introduction course, a trot journey seeing the local countryside then perhaps a little cantering or galloping back at their pasture. With a quick get to know you we went for a trot around the local village and we were done. It was a pleasant experience, I was riding a 15 hand tall Stallion called Father Ted (there was a Dougal in the herd too). He was well behaved and I enjoyed several conversations with him during our time together.

During the wind-down before dinner, we gathered wood and relaxed around the campfire waiting for our hiking team to return. There was a slight unease in the camp as the whether can gotten colder than expected on the hilltops and winds were picking up. They made it home safely and with a few picture of them hiking on snow laden footpaths. To distract ourselves there was some larking about, particularly with my camera, which is why I’ve got some awfully bad artistic shots, but you have to take some bad shots to learn what your doing wrong!

After dinner and a quick change into our fancy dress, between us we had a Traffic Warden, a Jedi Knight, Pirates, Optimus Prime, a 90s Scout, a Pilot and a whole lotta in between. The costume seemed to get us a lot of attention at the Bield, were the band was playing. The band are rather awesome, I particularly look forward to their With or Without You and I’m a Believer each year.

Sunday, Day Three

Every year we make our own little trip offsite, we did consider going further a field than Ambleside Park but considering how late it was when we finally got our arses into gear the journey time just didn’t leave us with long enough there to be worthwhile. We had a lot of fun in the snow, making snowmen, chillin’ our drinks, climbing the mound and in the children’s adventure playground (naughty us!)

I pretty much handed over my camera to Abby that afternoon, she wanted to get some practise in taking shot with an dSLR camera before she starts her course in the autumn. Her shots weren’t half bad, she tries as hard as me to get some artistic ones, I think she does a little better, not sure if that’s luck or me being over critical. I don’t think I’m a natural for that sort of thing, I’m naturally oriented to take photos with purpose not creativity so go for her and her raw talent.

With the full moon this weekend I was hoping to get some lovely campsite landscape photos, particularly from the top of Tower rock, but I didn’t want to go all that way on my own just for some photos and nobody made a point of going up all that way so I didn’t. I did get this cracking shot from our site, I’ve embellished it a little with photoshop but its a nice one nonetheless.

Monday, Day Four

We wanted to make a quick getaway with a meetup at the M6 services, I wasn’t too keen on this as I’m not one for driving fast which meant I was likely to be getting some stick for everyone seeing my car occupants walking in rather than us watch everyone else.

We did alright for time on the journey home, taking a scenic route around the first part of the M6 out of Lancaster, a longer route but with a higher constant pace. I’d rather be driving slowly for longer than crawling for shorter. Overall the return journey was the same as the full voyage time home.

This was another fantastic Gathering weekend, unfortunately I pushed it this year being ever so slightly too old to attend but luckily the organisers didn’t mind so much seeing it was my farewell to Network event. I’ve got the option to go next year as staff but I’ll make my mind up on that one closer to the time.

Scout Network Gathering 2007

This was to be my first independent voyage to the land of West Lancs. In previous years I’ve hitched a ride with almighty Neil a couple of times, and indeed Jon Ellison once but this year due to academic demands I’m arriving unexpectedly late home into the Easter Holidays and so I depart alone.

The Millennium Canary should be upto it, we’re going to be breaching the 50000 mile mark at some point, either on the way there or on the way back so this is a rather important milestone in the cars history. I know I’m going to wish that I had something more than a radio and tape player for this presumed 5 hour drive but at least I get to listen the the local stations and listen to their accents.

Arrived early expecting to be one of the first on site, I was infact around the last! Most had arrived the day before to assure our usual pitch!

Saturday was quite docile, we spent most of the day in Ambleside in the park playing Frisbee and chilling, fortunately we didn’t have a run with 2 little kids wanting to watergun us. In the evening we played some Guitar Hero, Div and Kelly both did there stint on Dead or alive.

To be concluded