Photography is now Banned (Apparently)!

There seems to be an increasing trend that people who take photographs of landscapes, buildings, transport and general everyday scenes are now considered potential terrorists or paedophiles.

There was a story in the media this week of a chap who was getting abuse for taking photos of buses! This is despite the fact he’s done it in all innocence for many, many years.

It’s quite common to read in the train mags of officious jobsworths stopping people taking pictures of trains on stations as it’s against ‘regulations’ or a ‘health and safety issue’. This is despite Network Rail issuing clear guidelines that say it’s not a problem as long as the rules are followed. Mind, I read the other day that a Train Operating Company had employed someone to do work for them which involved taking photographs on their stations, but when he went to do his job the station staff banned him from doing so! Again ‘health and safety’. Great own goal that I think!

I used to enjoy standing on a station for hours on end taking snaps of the passing trains, but now I’m quite reluctant to do so. Having said that, I’m less likely to do so as things are more boring these days!

501 Image04

A class 501 EMU at Gospel Oak taken around 1982 and a class 86 entering Stoke station around 1980

So there we go, two photos I took many years ago, when photos could still be taken without suspicion!

In fact, things have now got so silly that the MP Austin Mitchell has now tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament about this issue.

Learning About Other People’s Needs

Despite the fact I work in a special needs school, I'm not very conversant with the conditions some of the kids in the school have. Working in the IT department I don't really need to, to be honest.

However, last week I was informed by the Scout's County Office of a meeting concerning  children with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). So I went along and coincidently it was at work! I have had a Beaver and a Scout with Asperger Syndrome in the Group before, but it helps to learn more.

It was an interesting couple of hours and I learned quite a bit. So when the next child comes along with ASD, we'll be better prepared!

Keeping it Simple

It occurred to me last night that sometimes the simple things are the best.

The Beavers and Cubs couldn’t meet at the Hall last night as the Church were setting up for their summer fair. So we took them down to The Marsh to play some games (I say we, but what I actually mean is the other Leaders took them. I stood around, watched and chatted to the parents!). The weather behaved and it was a lovely sunny evening (the forecast was rain – unsurprisingly).

They played a couple of relay games, a quick game of cricket, did games with a new play parachute and finally had a quick game of football.

Nothing difficult, complicated or taking ages to organise there. The Beavers and Cubs (and Leaders and parents) had a great time and enjoyed running round and playing the games. What could be better?

Old Scouting Books

I’ve stumbled across an interesting Canadian web site that hosts PDF copies of old Scouting books. This obviously has a Canadian slant, but it has loads of the Gilcraft books and books by BP himself. Well worth a look for Scouts of any country!

My Blog Header Image

The photo at the top of my blog was taken on my then mobile phone, a Nokia N80, on a Saturday morning in November 2006. I was with our Cubs at Barnswood and took the photo after I’d taken some rubbish down to the bins. The sun was rising and I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss. I rather wished I had a real camera with me at the time, but you can’t really carry a camera around when emptying bins!

I took about 7 or 8 photos and thought I’d be able to put them together back at home to form a panorama. When I did, I used Photoshop  and this came out.

Barnswood (Large)

Not bad I thought! I wasn’t too happy with the join lines, but still it gave the right idea.

Then today, I was looking up some other info for something I wanted to do in Photoshop and I came across a little programme called Autostitch. This takes the individual photos and combines them to form a panorama but without the join lines! Reading a bit more into the site, I found out that this application is incorporated into Windows Live Photogallery! So using that, I came up with this.

04112006094 Stitch

No join lines! So after cropping and resizing to the correct dimensions, I’ve now got the improved image as my header.

Oh, Not Again!

Scouts refuse to allow boy who won’t swear to Queen.

An eight-year-old boy has been told he cannot become a Cub Scout after refusing to swear allegiance to the Queen.

Matthew McVeigh objected to part of the Cub Scout Promise which includes the line, “I promise to do my duty to God and the Queen”.

His mother Tracy wanted the pledge changed on religious grounds to: “I promise to do my duty to God and my country”.

But Matthew was told by the 1st Neilston Scout Group in Renfrewshire that unless he took the official oath he could not become a fully-fledged Cub.

Mrs McVeigh, a Roman Catholic, complained the 1701 Act of Settlement specifically discriminated against her faith because it only allowed Protestants to take the throne in Britain.

She added: “Why should we make an oath to the monarchy? The monarchy actively discriminates against Catholics.

“It’s an absolute disgrace in this day and age. We are supposed to live in a multi-cultural age, but this just flies in the face of that.”

The Scout Association allows young people of different religions to replace the word “God” with other deities, and also allows people of other nationalities in the UK to swear to do their duty to “the country in which I am now living”.

But Chris Foster, spokesman for the association, said the rules stated that British nationals must pledge allegiance to the Queen.

He added: “It is simply UK Scout Association policy that all British subjects must promise that.”

Its rules state that scouting is available to all faiths and takes account of the different religions of its members.

In the case of the Scout Promise, which adds the words “On my honour,” at the start of the Cub Scout pledge, Muslims may choose to substitute the phrase with, “In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent the Most Merciful”.

Mrs McVeigh, 29, a mother-of-three, said her son was an intelligent boy and did not want to make the promise “just for the sake of saying it”.

She added: “I was gobsmacked that the Cub Scout commissioner said that if Matthew didn’t say the promise he would effectively be out the door. He said he could still go along to trips, but he would not be insured.

“The Cub Scout Promise was worded way back in 1907 and, let’s face it, times have moved on. Matthew absolutely adores the Cub Scouts.

“I am not asking for special treatment, I would just like him to be a Cub Scout without compromising what he believes in.”

Matthew said the decision was “not fair”, adding: “I really enjoy the Cubs and don’t want to feel left out or different to everybody else.”

Fr Jim Byers, Scouting chaplain of the local Catholic diocese, said he had never heard of a case of religious objection to the promise in 20 years, but urged the Scouting authorities to look into the case.

Cubs have to recite the full promise, which states: “I promise that I will do my best, To do my duty to God and to the Queen, To help other people, And to keep the Scout Law.”

After reciting the verse they receive a badge, woggle and neckerchief and become a fully-fledged Cub Scout.


From today’s Daily Telegraph.

OK people, it’s simple. Scouting has a set of rules and one rule is that you make the Promise (or Oath). If you don’t want to, go away and join a youth club! Harsh, I know but that’s the rules.

Sounds to me like Mummy is putting words in the lad’s mouth. The eight year olds I know wouldn’t object to doing their duty to the Queen. I’m certain that there are no problems of this sort at our local Catholic Group just down the road from us. Mummy is now threatening to go to court as it infringes his human rights.

For what other Scouts think see here.

Mind you, putting things in perspective, this is quite petty, silly and unimportant when compared to the poor Scouts who lost their lives in the tornado the other day 🙁

4 Scouts Die in Tornado

Sad news this morning. Four Scouts in the US have been killed in a Tornado.

It’s very sad to think they were camping and having a good time and ended up being killed. All our thoughts and prayers must be with their families and with those who have been injured.

gone home 

gone home 

gone home 

gone home


As I said in an earlier post, the Scouts decided to make donations to the Burma Cyclone appeal and the China Earthquake appeal. I got round to doing this last week, online through Oxfam.

After the donation was accepted, I got confirmation emails to say the money had gone through. However, last week I got two separate letters from each appeal thanking me for the donation. This seems a little unnecessary to me as, although it’s always nice to be thanked, it looks like a waste of resources. Surely the cost of the paper, envelope, printing and postage could be better used helping those who need it.

I’ve emailed Oxfam to suggest they just send out confirmation emails, so it’ll be interesting to see what they think.

Thank You

Since the end of our Family Camp the other weekend, we’ve had quite a few parents coming up to us and thanking us for the camp. We’ve even had a couple of letters of thanks.

This is most unusual as most times after an event, the kids are picked up, taken home and that’s it.

It’s nice to be appreciated occasionally!

The Diary of Horace Wimp

I was listening to the best of ELO CD today and one song brought back some memories. The Diary of Horace Wimp was a single that my Uncle Alan played me when I went to visit him once. I was only 9 or 10 when I went to see him for the day. Mum put me on the train and he met me at his station. It would probably be thought of as wrong to put a 10 year old on a train on his own for 45 minutes these day, but it was great for me and I enjoyed the experience!

Anyway, Alan had a huge record collection (not to mention a huge library of books) and I think he’d just bought the single, so he played it for me. It seems odd now that he had this, as I think most of his record collection was classical with a few comedy records (which I still have). I thought it was quite good (10 year old’s taste!) and we played it a couple of times and then went off and made lunch together and did other exciting things. It was always a treat to go and see him and I think I must have gone to see him on my own a couple of times.

The big shame was that about 4 or 5 days after having a family meal at our house for his 40th birthday, he committed suicide. That was quite a big shock to me (as a kid of 10) and my sister, although we didn’t find out until many years later he’d killed himself.

I often wonder how our conversations would have gone if he were still around. Still the memories are there and so are the records. I still have that single!