Past, Present & Future (Podcast)

Podcast number 4. As it’s the end of the year, I’m talking about what my Group has done in the last year, where we are at now and what we (I) need to do in the coming year.

Happy New Year!

Bucket Science

Bucket or Kitchen Science is where you can do scientific experiments without having to have lots of specialist equipment. As the name suggests, you only need stuff that is in the kitchen or just a bucket!

These are the kind of things that can be done with any age group in Scouting and the ones that tend to cause explosions or are really messy are the best! Of course some of these are best not done in your meeting place, but on camp due to the levels of mess and the fact that caretakers aren’t too keen on having their windows blown out!

My favourites are the Custard Experiment, Water Rockets (a favourite of the Cubs as well) and putting a mint into a bottle of pop. You can see loads of these type of experiments at this excellent site.

What got me thinking of this was a conversation I’m having with Scouter Jeremy or Hawk Eye (his name when he has his Beavers hat on) from Canada. We started emailing just before Christmas after Jeremy had contacted Cubmaster Chris’s show about Beavers and if they do the same in the States. I sent Chris a few comments, he mentioned them on his show and Jeremy asked Chris if he’d let me know he wanted to get in touch. So a Canadian asks an American for contact details for a Briton! Don’t you just love international Scouting?


Anyway, back to the point, Jeremy’s Beavers are doing a month of science stuff and he’s made a great video of the putting a mint in a bottle of pop experiment.

So here’s Jeremy in best Mad Scientist mode!

So have a go next time you’re out camping and show science is interesting and fun!

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!

The Bad and the Good

Over the last week or so we’ve had three events which have brought out the worst in some of the Scouts and the best in the rest of the Group.

To start with, the bad (and then improve). Last Tuesday, the Scouts went to the cinema for their Christmas party. I was not able to go as I was at home with a temperature. Anyway, some of the Scout’s behaviour whilst in the cinema was appalling. They were throwing popcorn, talking through the film and running up and down the isles. From what I understand they would not listen to any of the Leaders and were lucky not to get thrown out. The Leaders later told me that they had embarrassed themselves, the Leaders, the Troop and the whole of Scouting.

Not good. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you’ll know that just after Easter, we had some problems with the behaviour and attitudes of some of our Scouts and this caused our Scout Leader to leave (he hasn’t left to be honest, just stepped down to Assistant – he would have been a great loss). We thought we’d knocked the problem on the head, but in the lead up to Christmas, behaviour etc was getting poor again. The cinema was the straw that broke the camel’s back. So after Christmas, there will be some demotions as some of the trouble makers were PLs and APLs and even after some strong words and home truths, I suspect there will be a suspension or two. We don’t want to do this, but for the sake of the rest of the Scouts who can behave and who deserve to do interesting activities and not have to wait while we wait for the messing to stop, this will have to happen.

I was talking to a Scout Leader from another Troop who are close to us on Saturday and he told me that they are having the same issues. This both saddened and ‘pleased’ me at the same time. I was ‘pleased’ to learn it’s not just us and saddened that this seems to be getting more common.

I think in the New Year we may lose a couple of the Scouts and this will feel like we’ve failed them, but when we compete against some of the other major influences they have in their lives (parents, friends, TV), we are the one that sometimes has the least impact.


A Scouting Christmas Bauble for your tree

That’s the negative bit over. Here’s the good news.

The Beavers and Cubs went to the cinema on Friday for their Christmas party and had a great time! There were about 30 Beavers and Cubs there and they all sat and watched the film and were as good as gold! The Leaders who went on Tuesday were there as well and said what a complete contrast they were and what a pleasure it was to be with them!

And then on Saturday and Sunday we were doing some fundraising by bag packing at Sainsbury’s supermarket. As I said before, not my favourite way of spending a weekend, but a very profitable one for the Group!

A good cross section of Beavers, Cubs and Scouts came and helped and we also had some of our local Explorers helping out as well, so they get a slice of the money raised for their Unit. Of course, the best people to have packing bags are the Beavers as they have a great ‘ahh’ factor – who can resist a six year old helping to pack your bags?

Everyone did a great job and, considering they were working 3 hour shifts, didn’t get bored and that’s a long time to be standing at a checkout in a supermarket for anyone, let alone the Beavers and Cubs!

I was proud of all the hard work the Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Explorers and Leaders did and we raised a grand total of just over £1000! The other great news is that one of the Scout’s Dads has said that his company will match what we made up to £500, so that gives us just over £1500. This is going to buy some lightweight tents for the Scouts amongst other things.

I banked the money this morning and I can tell you two things about taking that much cash to the bank- 1) it’s quite worrying walking through town with £1000 on you and 2) £1000 in loose change is very heavy!

So a week with bad and good things, but it is heartening to know the good well outweighs the bad!

Happy Christmas

Sainsbury's Hanley - just thought I'd try out this new feature on Windows Live Writer!

Christmas Message (podcast)

No, I’m not getting delusions of grandeur by trying to replace HM The Queen’s Christmas Message, but I thought a spoken message sounds more personal!

Happy 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.


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.

Why Be Old?

At the weekend we went to the 50th birthday party of one of our Group’s helpers. I’ve known him and most of his family since I was a kid and it doesn’t seem that’s he’s 50!

All the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts love him, what he doesn’t know about walking, climbing, caving etc isn’t worth knowing and give him an axe and a dead tree on a camp and he’s as happy as Larry (bit of a standing joke that!).

But that’s the thing, in his and our minds he’s much younger and doesn’t act ‘old’ (I know 50 isn’t old, but there’s a point here!). He goes out and enjoys life and passes his knowledge and skills on! And that’s got to be a reason to not be old!

Happy Birthday Don.

Excellent Assistant Leaders!

Last night I did something I haven’t done for a very long time, I was late for the Troop’s meeting!

I’d eaten something for lunch that obviously didn’t agree with me and by the time I got home from work, I was feeling quite sick. Sick So I got changed into my uniform, had a warm drink, sat on the sofa and promptly fell asleep. Carol had gone Christmas shopping with her sister straight after work, so didn’t wake me. I woke up, feeling much better, about 3 minutes before the meeting started!

So I jumped in the car and got to the hall about 10 minutes after the meeting started. This was not a problem however, as the rest of the Leaders had just got on and started – no worries! One did say that he thought I was coming and hadn’t said I wasn’t coming this week! They realised something was up as I hadn’t phoned to say I’d be late or not coming.

But the thing is they just got on with it, they knew what we were doing this week and did it. Good assistant Leaders are worth their weight in gold, so look after them. I couldn’t ask for any better – thanks chaps / chapesses!

Meetings (podcast)

Podcast number three! This time I talk about meetings. Not the weekly Beaver, Cub or Scout ones, but the other ones we have to go to to ensure we do everything correctly and plan ahead.

I think I’ve got iTunes set up so this podcast will go onto it. Just need to wait for it to be fully available.

100_3517 Stitch [1024x768]

I said it was frosty this morning, so here is a stitched together view from my loft window!

Enjoy the podcast and please leave some feedback.


I think the iTunes feed is working now (although this one doesn’t seem to be there yet) and you can find me by searching for Nick’s Ramblings or by clicking here.


Scouter Jeff left a comment on my last podcast asking if my podcasts are going on iTunes. Honest answer, ‘dunno’!

I’m not a great fan of all things Apple to be honest, well Apple Corps yes, Apple Computers no! So I’m not too clued up on iTunes. Is there a cost involved to putting stuff on iTunes, do I have to install iTunes on my PC?

Answers on a postcard please 😉


I’m probably doing another tomorrow (Sunday) if anyone’s interested.

NOTE: dunno = don’t know.I dont know Shouldn’t use slang here really.

100 Years Ago Today

It’s not that often we can say what our Group was doing on a specific day in the past, especially so long ago, but today I can!

On Saturday the 5th December 1908, the very new 1st Porthill Scout Troop (as its name was then), played a game of football on Wolstanton Marsh against a team called May Bank Boys. The Troop was, as far as I can tell, less than 3 – 4 months old, so this was a good result for a young Troop. It was also reported in the local newspaper.

image image

The first cutting is from The Staffordshire Evening Sentinel’s Sport edition from Saturday 5th December 1908 and the second is from the same paper on Saturday 12th December 1908.

The report in the second cutting reads

‘Porthill Scouts were entertained at May Bank. Play was exciting in the first 20 minutes and Hawkins scored for the visitors. Before half time he again found the net. In the second half both sides played well, but one of the home backs fouled and from the penalty Gibbs scored. Shortly afterwards May Bank were awarded a penalty but Tomkinson saved. Two minutes afterwards the home team scored, but before the finish Hawkins scored again thus accomplishing the ‘hat trick’. The Scouts returned winners by four to one.’

The Scouts Hawkins and Gibbs are mentioned in a book I have which lists the name of every boy in the Troop in around 1909!

We were planning to have a replay this evening, but much to my annoyance, circumstances beyond my control have prevented it (we can’t get a suitable venue to play).

Never mind, we can still remember those pioneering Porthill Scouts, without whom I probably wouldn’t be a Scout!

We’re Off to the Cinema

We told the Scouts they were going to the cinema in a fortnight for their Christmas party.

Some asked what we were going to see, but I couldn’t tell them as the listings aren’t out yet.

They didn’t seem too impressed when I suggested High School Musical 3! We did all have a good chuckle though hehehehe 😉