smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Normally I do a Brownie post fortnightly, but somehow I've miscalculated, and, as it's the end of the half term, you're getting another post this week!

With only two leaders present (Sparkly Owl had gone to a wedding reception) we decided we'd go for something easy, and continue with learning about Brownies, how the organisation came about, and some of our traditions.

We began by reading the Brownie Story - in which two children visit a wise old owl and learn how they could be helpful brownies.  I adopted the same method as last time, split the girls into twos and allocated each couple a character; when their character does something in the story the girls act it out.  Some of the Brownies remembered doing this from last time, about a year ago, but they all joined in with enthusiasm.  The only slight disappointment was two of our new girls were away, for whatever reason, and missed out.

After which we moved into the large hall for a running quiz.  We were surprised at how little the older Brownies could remember about some of the guiding basics - like when Thinking Day is.  We do try to tell them about such things, because it gives them an idea of how big an organisation they belong to, and that there are Guides and Brownies all over the world.  On the plus side, it's inspired us to celebrate Thinking Day next year - because it falls on a Brownie evening - and we'll then have a go at the World Guiding badge.

Finally we began to talk about the Brownie promise.  We thought this might be quite difficult to discuss 'be true to myself and develop my beliefs', but it led to a really good talk about dealing with bullies, and having faith in yourself.  Even some of the quieter girls joined in, and they all had really sensible things to say - impressive for 7 to 9 year olds.

And now, a question for my flist, because you were all very helpful when I was preparing for the World Traveller badge:
Does anyone (anywhere) have a friend or relative who runs a Brownie/Girl Scout/Guide unit for the 7 to 10 age group, who would be interested in swapping postcards with us.  Obviously everything would be sent to the Leader(s) rather than directly to the girls.
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This was suggested by Okapi as of benefit to some of the things I do in church.  Initially I thought about BSL, but then realised if I was intending to do this properly it would require more than a month, so I decided to learn some Polish instead.  There is a significant Polish contingent in our area, so it seemed logical.

I signed up for Duolingo and began the first lessons.  But after nearly a fortnight I realised I wasn't going anywhere, although I had a large list of vocabulary.  I have nothing to hang the language on, in that there's no similarity to any of the other languages I have a smattering of.  And nothing was going in.  I decided to admit this wasn't working and stop, rather than battling on for another week.  On the plus side, I now have a certain feel for the language when it's spoken.

To the replace this, I've been watching a youtube video with basic BSL greetings, which means I might at least be able to sign 'welcome' which would be welcoming.

I haven't even done much of my sewing.  We were away or out most of the weekend, and this week I've been sorting odds and ends for our holiday and have generally been feeling uninspired.  All I've done is sew one button, which I think helps to pull the appliqué together better for this square:
pics )
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Last week we did the rest of the work for our Crime Prevention Badge.  I had prepared a leaflet, so the Brownies, having hopefully remembered to find out their postcode (for purposes of marking possessions), began by drawing the logos for the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme and Home Watch Scheme.  They then drew some of the favourite things they owned, what these belongings would look like if they were spoiled, and how, because we don't want our things treated badly we mustn't treat others badly.  We then finished by each six acting out a playlet of what they should do if they go out by themselves (not that most of ours are old enough to do so) and what you should do if a stranger asks you to go with them.

Crime prevention

This week, because we have five new girls we suggested they work on their Becoming a Brownie book, with the aid of some of the older Brownies.  We thought this wouldn't occupy them for long before boredom set in, but in fact they were all quite happy finding out each others' names and filling in the details in their books.

And while they were doing that, we, the leaders, were able to discuss arrangements for the Brownie Christmas meal, as well as having a quick look at the programme for the next half term.

Then today, whilst helping with a harvest presentation led by our church, I met one of the Brownies again when her class came to take part in the activities.  She had great fun telling her friends who I was, so I've promised her she can have a point for her six next week.
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Well, it is if the year begins in April, which is when I set my current goals.  So how are they going?

Goal No 1 - Write all the things

Wordage for 2017 is now at 130,000 which remains ahead of both last year, and my target to date.  I wrote less over the last couple of months, but I'm still pleased with where I'm at.  There's been a drop in the things I write regularly, which has partially accounted for the fall in words, but I've taken part in ACDHolmesfest, Stage of Fools, and Spook Me.  (All of which I have to thank Okapi for beta-ing for me).  This year I've signed up for Holmestice, and I've just got my Yuletide assignment, which I'm happy with.

I've also achieved four more Fan Flashworks badges, including my 200 posted works, which can't be bad.

Goal No 2 - Write a monthly pastoral assistant post

This is continuing, although interesting I doubt I will be continuing to post as regularly next year.

Goal No 3 - Try twelve new things

I visited the Sky Garden in London back in August, and last month I began a sewing craft, which is still ongoing.  I've also started something else, of which there will be more next week.  In the meantime here are some more of my craft photos, beginning with the final quilting, to which I added some chain stitch because it seemed to be missing something:

Craft photos )


Oct. 8th, 2017 02:28 pm
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Coriolanus is another of Shakespeare's plays which is rarely performed, and which I hadn't seen, so I booked tickets for the RSC when they included it in their Rome season.  SM enjoyed it, and was very taken with all the mental struggles going on, I was rather less impressed.

As we often do, we went to the Shakespeare Unwrapped session in the morning.  For once this was disappointing.  The session was taken by the assistant director and the understudies for Coriolanus and Volumnia (Coriolanus' mother).  It was interesting to a point, seeing some of the rehearsal process, but at no point were the audience specifically engaged, and unusually there were no questions.  Maybe the wrong actors/director had been chosen to lead this, because it was very much a demonstration.

As for the play - I didn't feel I connected with any of the characters.  I don't need to like a character -  some characters really make an impact however dubious they are - but apart from Coriolanus, who merely proved good military leaders generally make bad political leaders, there was nothing which spoke to me.  I might have gone for Aufidius, but we didn't see enough of him for me to decide.  And I missed the apparent homoerotic relationship between him and Coriolanus.

From the morning session I gathered the play left many questions as to what was right or wrong.  Maybe in trying to keep the ambiguity it lost any dynamism it might have had (or maybe it's not a great play).  When the cast came out for the curtain call at the end everyone was wearing grey, which rather summed up my impression of the play.
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Part One was posted a couple of weeks ago

Part Two )
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This was the suggestion of Debriswoman who then extremely kindly sent me a kit complete with all the necessary materials and full instructions.  The idea is to make a simple basket, using various different techniques along the way.

I'm enjoying the challenge, although my stitching is decidedly wobbly.  It's not complete, because there have been days when I haven't been able to add anything to it - either from tiredness (sewing is not easy then) or other activities (yesterday the daughter visited and she graciously allowed me to take her shopping, before we went out for a meal).  But that's okay, because I shall carry on.  And in the meantime, here are some photos of my progress:

Sewing craft )
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Last week we went to Gloucestershire's Tri-Force Control Room - which is a slight misnomer, since the Ambulance Service moved out when Gloucestershire was integrated into a mega-South West group.  We were met by Jerry, one of the responders and an ex-policeman, and Sgt Dave, a serving police officer.  They explained how all emergency (999 or 112) calls are dealt with and Sgt Dave showed us his phone, handcuffs and asp (not a snake, as in Cleopatra's time, but a collapsable baton) and passed round his helmet.

We got to walk round the large room where all the police calls are taken (both 999 and 101 non-emergencies) and various officers waved at the Brownies.  We saw 999 calls being answered and could see the areas some of the cctv cameras were looking at.  Then we were shown into the Silver Control Room, which would be used during a major incident, and the Inspector in charge came in to say 'Hello'.  (The Gold Control room is in the large building across the side road, which is the county police headquarters).  The girls were very interested, and when I ran a quiz this week to see what they'd learnt/remembered they all did really well.

We're only a relatively small area, but the day we visited they received 186 999 calls, and 632 101 calls.  It was of particular interest to me, partly since I'd had to dial 999 from work a few weeks ago, and also because all such knowledge is of use fic-wise.

This week we were back in the Community Centre.  Four new girls joined, which brings us up to 18, because the girl we thought wasn't returning did.  Brown Owl has two more girls to contact and then we will be full.

To tie up with our visit we are working for the Crime Prevention badge.  We began with a Corner Quiz - multiple choice answers, run to the corner you think is correct - we've discovered this is a popular activity, and more fun than pen and paper.  And then we learnt about keeping your home safe when you go out for the day, and when you go on holiday.  I took the points from the Neighbourhood Watch material, but instead of getting the Brownies to write everything down we had simple actions, more fun and hopefully easier to remember.

For instance, WIDE starts off with outstretched arms, then WINDOWS closed and locked, INDOOR (INTERIOR) lights on a timer (switch on), DOORS closed and locked, outdoor (EXTERIOR) motion sensor lights (throw arms up to indicate sudden lights).

And finally we discussed how to keep possessions safe when out and about, and what sort of things I would carry in a handbag in front of me (phone, purse) and what I could carry in my backpack (umbrella, lunch - deemed very important).  The Brownies were keen to join in, and hopefully they'll remember some of it.
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I hadn't been sure whether to see this play, given the hassle of getting to London and being out all day, but SM was going out, and I wasn't going to the theatre this month, so I decided to buy a ticket.  I was right about the hassle.  My train was cancelled - at least I found out the day before, so I didn't get to the station to find I had to wait an hour.  And GWR still haven't managed to add an extra carriage to a two carriage train which has to convey two lots of passengers, so the first part of the journey was cramped by the end.  At least I had a seat for the journey - having complained on Twitter.  It appears GWR are launching a new advertising campaign to encourage people to travel by train - I'd be more inclined to if I thought their 'Great Adventure' wouldn't be 'is there going to be a train'.

I had planned to go to the V&A to see a couple of their exhibits, but with the loss of an hour I changed plans and went to Leighton House instead.  There was an interesting exhibition of paintings by Lawrence Alma-Tedema (no, I hadn't heard of him either) and a beautiful Arab room in the house.  So that was worth doing, after which I walked through Holland Park from the Kensington High Street end towards Notting Hill Gate, to go to the Print Room at the Coronet to see the play.

Trouble in Mind was written by Alice Childress, an African-American playwright, in 1955.  It concerns an actress who challenges the racial stereotypes she is always given to portray.  Although set in 1955 it remains very relevant as regards racism, and those who believe themselves not to be racist, and yet unconsciously still maintain certain attitudes.

The attraction of the play for me was Jonathan Slinger, who played Al Manners the director of the play within a play.  In addition Tanya Moodie, who was Gertrude in last year's RSC Hamlet, plays the main actress Wiletta Mayer.  The whole cast was excellent, and the play was thoughtprovoking without being heavy.

The theatre was about two-thirds full.  It's not a place I'd heard of before, and outside the usual theatre haunts of most people, but I understand ticket bookings have gone up with some good reviews (which it deserves).  It's only on until 14 October, but one to bear in mind.
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which I have pinched from [personal profile] verdande_mi  and like them I'm only answering the questions I want to answer.

Questions 1 to 20 )
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Screech Owl is back at Brownies - as is Brown Owl.  Sparkly Owl is on holiday far away in the sunshine.

I've just been reading my entry for this time last year, when we had masses of Brownies - this time, for reasons I will explain below, we have far fewer to start with.  We had 12 due to come back, and slightly to our surprise, 11 did - there's usually a few drop out over the summer.  The only one who didn't come had been erratic last term - she has other activities after school, and her grandmother can't always get her to us.  In addition she's probably only got one more term with us until she's 10, so they may have decided it's easier if she stops now.

Sadly, despite initial interest, we have no new offers of help, so we shall carry on.  It seems to be a widespread problem.  On the other hand, there are new girls wanting to join.  We had two start yesterday - a third had found a place in another pack at a more suitable time.  That's fair enough - we have a further seven (I think) who are old enough to join now and will be invited to start in a couple of week's time.

We played various games - our normal opening night activity.  A number of the girls were very excitable, which meant I had to be stricter in enforcing the rules than I would normally be.  With some of the Brownies' help I pointed out we have rules to make it safe to play (if half the runners go the opposite way round the circle from the other half, there will be an accident) and to make it fair to all.  And, of course, there is the ultimate rule "If Screech Owl says you're out, you're out!"

We stacked in the cupboard all the goodies we got from collecting Sainsbury's Active Kids vouchers:

At the front is a ball (yet to be blown up) in the shape of a globe - handy for both games and when we talk about different countries.  There's a stop watch; enough plant pots and saucers for everybody (either for growing seeds, or for table decorations); and two storage boxes (for pens, rubbers, etc).

Next week we're off to visit the local Police Headquarters.  They can only take 15 girls at a time, which is why we restricted how many new Brownies could start at the beginning of term.
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I've read quite a few books recently, which is why this is a slightly longer review than normal - I was going to do it last week, but was close to finishing two of the books, so I thought I'd wait.

The Minitiarist by Jessie Burton

There's been a lot said about this book, so I thought I'd give it a go.  They even had a copy in our local library (which I reserved and collected two days' later to save getting dressed to go to the library).  I quite enjoyed it, but I wasn't taken by it as much as other people seem to have been.  And the central premise of the story, that of the dolls' house, for me didn't work as I'd hoped.  I'll be interested to see what others of my flist thought.

Ovid by David Wishart

A mystery set in ancient Rome, recommended by someone in my flist.  The mystery was quite interesting and the setting was reasonably entertaining.  This is the first in a series - I may read more, but there's plenty else on my 'to read' list at the moment.

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

The witches aren't my favourite of Pratchett's characters, but I enjoyed the story.  And even if not my favourite in the Discworld series, they're still better than some things I've read, so I shall certainly be reading more.

Aunt Dimity and the Duke by Nancy Atherton

A present from [personal profile] aome  I was totally taken in by the story, suspecting characters I really didn't want to suspect, but happy at the outcome.  It was definitely responsible for one or two late nights, as I had to read 'just one more chapter'.  A series I shall most certainly continue with.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Really worth reading.  Sad, obviously, and graphic, but an excellent description of the first world war from the viewpoint of the German trenches.  The daughter and I are going on a tour of some of the battlefields next April.

The Wine of Angels by Phil Rickman

Recommended by several of my friends: a mystery featuring a female vicar in a parish in Herefordshire, close to Leominster which we visited last month.  It sounded great, but to my mind, too long, too convoluted and I was tempted to give up and take it back to the library part way through.  I battled on, but won't be reading the next in the series.

As ever, I shall be interested to read any thoughts anyone has - the fact I didn't enjoy a book doesn't mean it's badly written, just not my thing.
smallhobbit: (John Sherlock trouble)
Here is the second part of the Meme Answers Post.  Part 1.  This time all answers are BBC Sherlock.

Meme answers part two )
smallhobbit: (Holmes umbrella)
Last month I set one of those 15 characters memes (whereby I listed 15 characters and my flist suggested questions based up character numbers).  There were quite a number of questions, so I've decided to split the answers into two parts.  This is particularly useful because I cheated slightly and used both ACD and BBC versions of the Sherlock Holmes characters.  Today's answers are all ACD Holmes.  Part 2 will be posted on Sunday.
Meme answers part one )
smallhobbit: (butterfly)
As promised, here are some of the flowers we saw at Croft Castle:
flowers )
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And so we come to the last of our days out.  I wanted to see both Berrington Hall and Croft Castle, which are close to each other near Leominster.  Since this is a ninety minute drive SM suggested we do both but stay somewhere overnight, which we leave us enough time to enjoy looking round both places.  It would also feel like a proper end of summer trip.  So we stayed overnight in Leominster.

Croft Castle )

Berrington Hall )
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I've shared my various theatre experiences, plus the beautiful Sky Garden, but I also managed to visit one museum and two galleries.

London )
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This was [personal profile] complicatedlight  second suggestion of something different to do in London.
Sky Garden )


Aug. 21st, 2017 07:08 pm
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A new play at the Almeida Theatre, starring Ben Whishaw, promised so much.  I went to the last preview, opening night being on the Friday.  Which meant I could read and compare the reviews with my own thoughts over the weekend.

For once I agree with the reviewers, which in this case is sad because most of them are lukewarm.  Whishaw was good, but for me the material wasn't.  The plot had some very deep and important points to make, but laboured them badly.  In writing the advice is to show not tell - and there were a lot of words, discussing the theme.  For me, one of the most telling moments was towards the end of the play, when two of the characters who haven't met previously meet up and share an important moment, and the audience finally gets to see how they feel, rather than being told how they feel.

Most of the play is separate scenes, which have little to connect them, rather like illustrations of separate points.  And Whishaw's character has good intentions, and speaks out against violence, but never seems to have anything to lose.

I have friends who are going to see the play, so I shall be interested to read their reactions.  Otherwise, if you're tossing up whether to see this or something else, I would recommend trying the other.
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Two separate productions - I saw the first Wednesday evening and the other Friday evening.

Jesus Christ Superstar )


Ophelia: Madness (in Blue) )


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