Happy Christmas

I’d like to wish everyone who visits my site, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Many thanks to those of you who have taken the time and effort to comment on my posts and I hope to see you all in 2011.

Alternatively, please have a Merry Non-Denominational Winter Festive Period 😉

500 Posts

In April 2006 I started this blog as a bit of an experiment to see what all this blogging stuff was about. Since then I have managed to write 500 posts which I’m quite impressed at!
Back then it was very general, but now it’s just about Scouting. I’m also quite pleased about the podcast I also put out, although I’ve not been doing them for a while as they are a bit time consuming and I now have a 5 month old daughter – something had to give!
Although 4 years and 500 posts have passed, it’s interesting to note that the first post was on my, sadly long gone, hand held IPaq pocket pc and I’m writing this on my new smart phone. Hopefully this will mean I can make some posts from our family camp this weekend.
Finally, thank you to everyone that reads and comments here!

Thank You All!

At some point on Monday, I recorded my 10,000th hit on my blog! This figure is based on the WordPress stats that have been recorded since January 2008, although my Feedproxy stats give a totally different figure!

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So to everyone who has stopped by and read or listened to what I have to say – a huge thank you! I’m always impressed that anyone is interested in what I may have to say.

Again, thank you for all the comments and emails and all the new friends I’ve made through my little corner of the internet!

Happy Christmas to you all (and don’t forget to follow Santa on his travels on Christmas Eve).

1911 Census

The 1911 Census was made available online on Tuesday of this week and I’ve had some fun looking through it.

So far I’ve managed to find the details of my maternal Grandmother and her parents and my paternal Grandfather’s parents (he wasn’t born then), but the other two are alluding me for the moment. It’s interesting to read a form that they filled in nearly 100 years ago.

While I was looking, I thought I’d look up our Troop’s first Scoutmaster. Although he only lasted a few months, he was our first Scoutmaster and I think I now know why he didn’t stay with the Troop for very long. He moved to a town a couple of miles away to be a ‘lodgeman’ which judging by the number of lodgers he had in his house meant he ran a B&B.

I also looked up two of the Scouts who were killed in the Great War. Aly (Alfred) and Colin Jackson were 16 and 14 respectively and they both worked on a pot bank (a pottery factory). They lived at a different address then to the one recorded when they were both killed in WW1.

It’s all fascinating stuff and it make the names seem more ‘real’. I now know where these people lived, what their jobs were and more about their families. I’d like to find out more about the Scouts, but it is quite a time consuming and expensive business, so the family records come first! However, I will keep dipping in every now and again to this interesting resource.

Good News Story

This seems to be all over the media today. A Cub from Norwich has managed to gain all 33 Cub Scout activity badges! Very impressive!

You can read an article about him here.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

NORAD Tracks Santa

I know this isn’t strictly anything to do with Scouting, but it is fun! If you know or have young(ish) kids of your own or you are a 37 year old big kid (for example!), you may like to visit the NORAD Tracks Santa web site on Christmas Eve.

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The North American Aerospace Defense Command track Santa’s location at midnight in most time zones on Christmas morning. It’s a lot of fun and something to get you in the mood for Christmas!

You can read a bit of the history here.

The Guns Fell Silent…

90 years ago today at 11.00. The Great War, the War to End All Wars was over. Except it wasn’t. World War 2, the Cold War, Vietnam, The Falklands, The Gulf Wars 1 & 2, Iraq and Afghanistan subsequently happened. The list is much much longer and I’ve picked the most prominent ones from my perspective.

From where I sit now in my warm and safe home, these wars seem to have little impact on me.

BUT, just looking at the Great War, my Great Grandfather, William Wood, was hit by a shell and killed on 28th March 1918, one day before my Grandpa’s 5th birthday. So he never knew his father and his brother was less than one year old when he was killed. My Dad and Uncle never knew their Grandfather and they all missed out on the influence he would have had on them.

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William Wood is on the back row on the left right.

We think this photo was taken while he was training with the Royal Engineers although he was later transferred to, and served with, the Durham Light Infantry.

Then there are the 12 members of my Scout Troop who didn’t survive the First War and the 1 member who didn’t survive the Second War. One of the Troop’s Leaders won the Military Cross for bravery (see the memorial here). What effect would this extremely brave Priest have had on the boys of the Troop? Would the others have played any other part in the life of the Troop? We will never know.

To my knowledge, I only ever met one Great War veteran. Harry Goodwin, lived next door to my Grandparents. My main memory of him was that he was great at gardening and was somewhat deaf. He showed me how to take a cutting form a rose bush and grow a new rose bush from it. The only reason I know he had served in the First World War was that for some reason he was telling me and my Grandma about the severe dysentery he suffered from while he was serving in the trenches. Quite why he decided to share this information with us is now completely beyond me! Still I remember he served.

The main thing is to remember and to hope for peace. Harry Patch, the last British Tommy to have served in the trenches, said when he met Charles Kuentz, a German WW1 soldier, ‘”I was a bit doubtful before meeting a German soldier. Herr Kuentz is a very nice gentleman however. He is all for a united Europe and peace – and so am I”.

Today remember those who were killed in the World Wars and subsequent and current wars. It doesn’t matter whether you approve of those conflicts, if they are historical or current, the people who served in the Forces of the UK or of our Allies and friends gave their lives in the service of their countries.

But as well as remembering those who died, remember those who have been injured and the families of those who did not come home.

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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All Change Please

As I’ve been blogging more and more, I’ve noticed that the majority of my posts have been Scout related. And as the people who have been good enough to link to me from their blogs are also Scout related, it made me think that the majority of them aren’t all that interested in me waffling on about trains etc (correct me if I’m wrong someone).

So I’ve decided to spin off the non Scouting bits to Nick’s Other Ramblings Blog and keep this on just for Scouts. All the previous content will stay in place here and the other categories will survive as well and I may duplicate some posts on both. But generally non Scouting related stuff will be on number 2.

Lets just hope I can cope with two!

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Blogs and Comments

When I started doing this blog around two and a half years ago, I was doing it for me as a trial to see what blogging was all about and to try out the software. After looking at a few of the different options out there at the time I settled on WordPress on my own hosted web space. I stared out writing about anything that came to mind, but it’s gone a lot more Scout related, with the occasional other stuff. That’s probably as my Scouting is a bigger part of my life again.

When I started writing away, I never really expected anyone to read anything I was writing and it was well over a year before anyone made any comments. I guess more people started to read my stuff when I found some of the excellent blogs from my Scouting colleagues in the States and added them to the links list. I think it was the Lone Star Scouter blog (now re-christened Troop 483 Blog – must update!) I first came across, which then led to the others. They in turn added me to their lists and comments started to be left on my blog and also by me on the others. I must admit it came as a pleasant shock to find out people were leaving comments and that we all had many things in common.

Of course, I’ve had to put a couple of serious spam traps in place as the blog would have ended up as one giant advert for gambling and less savoury products! In fact I’ve had over 2500 spam comments which have been caught and deleted before I installed another anti spam device on top of the existing one.

Anyway, so far all but two of the comments (that weren’t spam) have been positive and friendly. They were criticisms, but wasn’t nasty, so I let it through (see the Another Scout Bashing post). Of course I am able to ignore or delete anything I want and that’s my choice as it’s my blog! But so far so good.

The thing that’s made me think of this is that there has been a rather negative comment sent to Jerry over at the Scoutmaster Minute. It was posted by someone anonymous and Jerry was thinking of dumping it but decided to reply and explain his reasons (see here & here). I think he did the right thing by explaining his position and not just ignoring the comment. It is easy, of course, just to hit the delete button and let it be at that, but to respond and explain yourself does take some time and thought.

I believe if you don’t agree with something someone has written (and I’ve never been in that position with the blogs I read), then comment by all means, but do it in a non personal way so it comes across as a debating point and not an attack. We all can’t be of the same mind on everything, but constructively putting our point across is the way to go.

So thanks to Gary, Steve, Shawn, Joy, Jerry and the PTC media crew, long may you keep on blogging and brightening up my days with your blogs and comments. And I hope you all find what I have to say at least vaguely interesting!

Training

Throughout the majority of my working life so far, whether it was at Asda or within the school where I now work, I have been involved in training. I’ve had to train people how to use checkouts, meat slicing machines, ovens, computers and the list goes on. And of course, I’ve been trained before I could train others. I’ve always enjoyed doing training as I’m learning something new. In fact, sometimes when there’s a timetable involved it gets more interesting. When Asda had to bring in the new Wal-Mart computer systems, I and some colleagues were trained in the systems over a two week period away from the store. When we came back to the store we had around three weeks to train all the staff, which I think was around 300 people. It was hard work, both the training we attended and the training we trained out, but it was fun and we did it successfully!

So with that background, why did I avoid doing my Scout Leader’s training for so long?

Well for one thing I think it was the way the training programme used to be. You would start at the beginning and work your way through right to the end. So the first thing you did, irrespective of whether you had walked in ‘off the street’ or been in Scouting for donkey’s years, was to be told about Scouting and its history and structure etc. I always remember that my Dad had to do the camping part of the training to get his Wood Badge, despite the fact that he’d been a Scout and run many successful camps in the past. So not wanting to be ‘bothered’ doing loads of training on things I ‘knew’, I avoided it. Quite how I kept my Warrant, I’ll never know.

Anyway, the Scout Association changed the training programme a couple of years ago to a modular one. This meant that provided you could prove that you’d done the work or got experience in that area, then you didn’t have to do the module’s training.

So after a bit of a kick up my backside from the District Chairman, I started to get myself sorted, attended a training surgery, got the majority signed off and booked myself onto the Group Scout Leader’s weekend training course. I did my ‘homework’ after the course and got signed off and was presented with my Wood Badge. I have to say I was most pleased once I got it!

So now I have to do at least 5 hours of Scout related training a year as part of my warrant review. Not a problem now!

Doing training whether it be first aid or how to do abseiling for example, is good for the Leader as it keeps them fresh and gives new ideas for their programmes and keeps the kids in their charge safe and sound.

So now I’m looking at doing an NVQ in IT to help my career and I’ve already done my Group Scout Leader’s course and my First Aider’s course this year, so I wonder what is next?

Summer’s Here!?!?

Today we took the Scouts the the District’s Archery Competition and it’s been a gloriously sunny day. This is the kind of weather we needed about two months ago!

Anyway the Scouts had a good go, but didn’t win. They gave their best shots (pardon the pun) and enjoyed themselves.

The thing is, when they go to school on Monday and they all talk to their friends and start talking of their weekends, their friends will say that they’ve been watching TV and playing on their PlayStations, where as the Scouts can say they were doing archery. Now that’s something that can’t be said every day!

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Me enjoying the sun!

The 1908 Scout

As we were doing some knots and lashings last night for the younger Scouts, it made me think what would one of our original Scouts from 1908 made of us and Porthill today?

He would probably recognise a lot of the area still as a fair proportion of the houses still around were built in his time. The Church was there already, so were the larger houses on Porthill Bank and the terrace houses near the Church.

However, what he would have known as fields a bit further away, are now covered in houses. The roads he knew would be full of cars, both parked and moving and there would be no more horses or trams. People's dress would confuse him as every man doesn't wear a hat and the women would be wearing trousers. He would have left school at 12 and would now be working. The Titanic had yet to be built, let alone sink and his future was not too secure as the Great War was only 6 years away.

When he saw the current Scouts he would notice that they wouldn't be wearing hats, had no Scout Staff, they wore shirts and long trousers! Of course the biggest change would be that there were girls in the Troop!

He would recognise the fact that the Scouts are still in patrols with animal names, we break and salute our flag at the beginning of every meeting and we still do knots and lashings and go camping. He might not recognise what the Street Sports badge is about, but he'd still recognise what a lot of the badges and awards are for.

I think he'd also be pleasantly surprised to find out that the Troop he helped start 100 years ago was still going strong and was now a Group with Beavers and Cubs and is very proud of its past.