More Japan


I’ve been back a few weeks, I should probably mention the second half of the trip!

Last time I put up some photos with no explanation. Kudos to BrownieGuideLeader for correctly identifying the temples. 

After that, we went to Ise, to the grand shrine there, which is in a forest which has trees which are wider than I am tall. 

Which is awesome. In the actual technically correct meaning of the word. 

As in, I was filled with awe at the sight. 

They rebuild the shrine to exact specifications every 20 years – something to do with death and rebirth and the impermanence of nature. 

On the way we stopped at a ninja museum. Because when you’re in Japan with a group of martial artists, why would you not?

The last few days of the trip were spent in Okinawa. 

I loved Okinawa. It was warm (think shorts and tshirts and lots of sweating). The people were friendly. The sights were varied and interesting. 

I would very much enjoy going back. 

One of the entertaining things about the trip was the hire car. Which had sat nav. The sat nav had “English mode”, which meant that it gave directions in English. Unfortunately you still needed to read Japanese to be able to program it!

It was certainly educational. 

Anyway, we managed to use it well enough to get places. 

We went to a castle – the royal palace of the Kingdom of the Ryukyus. Which is what Okinawa was before the Japanese invaded. 

We went to an aquarium. It was at one point the largest in the world, but then someone built a bigger one. 

It had sharks in it, and they did not look at all cramped. 

We also visited “Okinawa World”, where there is a long cave full of stalagmites and stalactites, and a bunch of touristy historical stuff. 

The last day we went to a museum. Which is where I found some Guiding stuff!

We get everywhere, we do!

The museum was great – I learnt a lot and the displays were interesting. Shame we didn’t have a little longer, really. 

Back on the mainland, we discovered our hotel had an onsen built in. Proper traditional set up, which was interesting but meant I got bored very quickly – segregated by sex due to nudity, and by this point in the trip I was the only girl. 

Still, the bath was gorgeously hot and very relaxing. Well worth trying if you ever happen to be in Japan. 

Our flight home was as boring as any 11 hour flight would be, but did have some stunning views. I’ll leave you with this vast desolate lesson in just how much of our planet most of us never see. 




A couple of photos to reassure you that I’m still alive. 

Bonus points to anyone who can name the places!




I’ve gone on holiday. 

Yes, in term time. I’m missing Brownies for it. 

I’m fortunate enough to have friends who will step in and be there if I ask nicely. My YL and new assistant leader (I have a new assistant!) are running things, but I’ve lined up some extra help for crowd control. 

It’s important that leaders feel they can take a holiday if they need to, I think. We are all volunteers and if we start feeling that it’s a chore we may all just give up entirely!

Anyway, the point of this post is actually to say that I’m not here, and I might go silent for a bit, depending on internet and time availability in Japan. Don’t worry, I’m coming back!

A Puzzle in a Wood


Or, more accurately, a Puzzlewood. 

Yesterday I went with my husband and mother-in-law to Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. 

Dave described it as “looks like the complex nobbly bits from Merlin, probably because it is the complex nobbly bits from Merlin.”

It would make a fun day out for Brownies and Guides too. 

Brownies would enjoy hunting for the magic door, dinosaur footprints, and the secret cave (among other things).

Guides would enjoy the fact that there are no maps available. If you get lost, then you get lost. A good challenge there!

(Leaders should note that it’s quite easy to pretend you’re lost, but actually quite hard to get completely lost if you have even a basic sense of direction.)

Both age groups would enjoy the small selection of animals and the indoor maze. It’s got tunnels and bridges and all sorts of secret doors. 


Special Design


Yesterday at Brownies we tried out “Special Design”, the activity on page 49 of the Brownie Adventure. 

Essentially, the activity involves sticking string to a piece of card and using it as a stamp to create a repeating pattern. 

You’re supposed to use it as wrapping paper to give a gift, which is why it’s in the “Community” section. We found that unless you were happy with your gift being slightly damp and painty, it wasn’t a great plan!

We had a lot of fun, and I even took the opportunity to tidy the paint box and throw out some of the junk that had accumulated. 

Things to remember when doing this again:

  • Big thick string. Not thin string. 
  • Thick card. 
  • Glue that works. 
  • If you use your stamp in the traditional stampy way you end up with a splodge, because they get paint on the backing cardboard. Instead, use a paintbrush to load up the string directly. Also that means you can use multiple colours on one stamp, which is pretty. 

Not a quick five minute activity, but well worth doing.

Learning from other professions


I’ve been reading a book recently about learning to teach in primary schools. 

Not because I have any desire to be a teacher (primary or otherwise), but for tips on managing large numbers of children. 

I was originally focused on the chapters on classroom management, planning and keeping children interested. But I have trouble only reading part of a book, so I read the rest too. 

I found parallels to my Guiding life in the most unexpected places. 

There is a chapter on educational theories, including some historical examples. The one that caught my eye was Plato’s theories. 

Plato believed that people at different stages of life need different types of education, in order to develop correctly. In this book, it is described like this:

Young children of quality who are not yet ready for the strains of philosophical training need to develop their senses of love of beauty, order and harmony. 

That’s Rainbows. 

As children get older, they need to be inspired by tales of heroes and great leaders. 

That’s Brownies. 

They need to ensure that their bodies are strong enough to house their souls, so the young need a period of rigorous physical training. 

Guides – not quite as obvious until you start thinking about camping and other outdoor skills. 

Only once the few have shown themselves to be fit will they be taught the secrets necessary for leadership. 

And there is the Senior Section. I’m mildly entertained that leadership is a secret. 

Unit 4.2 is on “The Curriculum”. A chapter specifically about the government-mandated UK primary curriculum can’t have anything to do with a volunteer-led organisation for the development of girls, right?


Once this thinking has been translated from the National Curriculum into teaching plans, the official documents are not really needed so much. This can make it difficult for student teachers to appreciate the links between the National Curriculum and school planning. 

When was the last time you sat down and thought about the WAGGGS values, and how they relate to the program you run at Brownies or Guides?

If you have a new leader, how much of their training is about what activities to run, and how much is about what Guiding is for?

Do you ever find inspiration for Guiding in unexpected places? Share your stories in the comments. 

Adventures, Chocolates, and Smoothies


This week’s Brownies saw us divided into Adventure groups for most of the evening.

I was with the Adventure group, some of the youngest girls. We picked out some activities to do this term, and then we started doing one – Special Design, from page 49 of the Brownie Adventure book. We didn’t really get very far, but we’ve got a lot of half-finished bits to finish off next time!

At the end of the meeting we all came back together to play the chocolate game – a perennial favourite!


The Guides are on their second week of Go For It! activities. One group went down the road to the co-op to look at the prices of things, one group were making smoothies, there was something going on in the kitchen that I didn’t investigate too closely, and one group were attempting to make ice-cream.

It did not go well.

I’m not sure what they did, but let’s just say it’s a very good job that our hall doesn’t have a carpet.


The smoothie, on the other hand, was very tasty.