On being a Brownie

Today I’ve got something different for you, a guest post from Lindsay who blogs over at Latte Lindsay where she promises ramblings over coffee. I’d asked Lindsay to share more about her Brownie experience, as I too was a Brownie growing up, and loved it. Some might say I was even a bit of a Brownie swot earning twenty five badges, and the twenty fifth in 1977, Silver Jubilee year - cue my photo in the local newspaper.

So when Lindsay’s post arrived, and I read her first sentence I was a little shocked and surprised, as her experience was quite different to mine, however I soon realised we had a shared love of badges, and of history.

And of course, not everyone can have the same experience, or feel the same way about the same things, and that’s healthy, so over to Lindsay…

“This is a very unpopular opinion but I hated being a Brownie. I could blame the uniform, the involvement with the church or any number of things. But the simple fact was that the lady who was Brown Owl of my group was a mean old lady who wouldn’t even let us out to use the bathroom. I hated it but my dad made me go. He thought I needed friends, which he was right about, but I could have made friends at ballet class too if he had let me go to that instead. The only time we got peace from the Big Bad Bird was when we were doing badge work. So when it came time to work on new badges, everyone threw themselves into their projects and tried to take on as many badges as they could at once. This is how I discovered my love of history.

Photo by  Melissa Askew  on  Unsplash

“Growing up in Newtownards is a bit surreal because the history is not something that people are proud of. The town has been stripped down and remade 100’s of times from the first settlements in the Iron Age. Yep, that is how far the history of the town can be traced back. There are old buildings that just exist, you can walk in and out of the Old Abbey in Movilla which was the place that Finnian brought one of the first Bibles to in Ireland. Just wrap your head around that for a moment. A place to massive cultural significance and I can walk into it at anytime. But why aren’t we talking about this and the history of the town? Simple, the wounds from the First World War still hurt.

“When news of the War in Europe broke, the men of Newtownards and the surrounding areas were some of the first to enlist. Hundreds of men dropped everything and went to the trenches. During 1916, the Battle of the Somme saw some of the worst casualties in the war and was highly criticised by the Ministry of Defence. At the front of the offensive was the 36th Ulster Division, over 130 of the 60,000 that were lost were men from Newtownards. Ever since the news of that mass slaughter reached home, the town ached from the pain of losing so many sons. Since then, no matter how good something was about the town, it pales in comparison to the feeling of loss. It has only been the dawn of the new millennium that wounds have finally begun to heal and people have begun to celebrate the good stuff from the towns past and present.

“Although I am not a big fan of my Brownie experience, I cannot deny that it did me some good. If it wasn’t for my dad choosing the history badge for me to work on, I never would have learnt about the hidden history of my sleepy little town and the dark secrets that have been hidden from the outside world.”

Lindsay was raised in Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland where she discovered how the unremarkable history of the town shaped everything that she knew. She studied at Movilla High School in Newtownards and remains active there as a parent. She is currently a freelance writer who has worked locally and nationally with various papers. She discovered her love of history after her father made her take part in the Brownie Guides history badge project. She is currently working on various projects including her blog, lattelindsay.com and her fantasy novel series.

Thanks for sharing this today Lindsay, and I hope your projects and fantasy novel series go well, and doesn’t it just go to show how something quite unrelated can spark an interest you never knew you had?

PoCoLo

Gin and a gerbera

Because what every well dressed drinks trolley needs, is a selection of gin and a gerbera. Don’t believe me, then by now surely you’ll know I’m not always conventional, and even MOH is being won round. But that could be to do with the amount of gin, which we’ve seriously neglected to drink.

an eclectic and colourful collection on our drinks trolley

The drinks trolley was an addition - and a treat to ourselves - following the conservatory refurb work we undertook last summer. I don’t think I’ve shared it here before, and I’m not sure why, because it’s one of the items that’s helped transform our space. And it comes in handy with my new cocktails every day on a Bank Holiday weekend rule, which surely should be adopted without any questions asked.

looking down on some gin

The gerbera is a new variety, and I’ll share more about it later this week, so if sunny, bright and orange gerberas are your thing you can find out more on Friday.

Aperol and a gerbera to match

And yes, I know Aperol isn’t gin, but Aperol Spritz and Negronis are the best drinks ever, along with gin and fizz (separately not together) so it has an almost permanent home on the drinks trolley. MOH is being educated on the art of arranging, and less is more. He was all for filling it full of booze, and while that’s admirable, my preference is to keep some of that in its cupboard space.

He hated the fact there was a cake tin on the trolley. I loved it as it brings some colour at a lower level. And yes, I know it’s not a normal addition, but what’s normal, and why is that something to aim for? Exactly.

Curved edges and glass of our drinks trolley
bar accessories

The shape of the trolley was what really attracted us to it, and one of its best features is the bars around the bottle spaces, as when MOH takes his trolley on manoeuvres, it’s invaluable. We spent a fair bit of time deciding whether to take the drinks trolley plunge, or not, but it was so worth it. it’s not the most functional piece of furniture, but when was functional fun?

bombay sapphire gin and a decanter, and curves of the drinks trolley

And in case you’re wondering, it’s from Atkin and Thyme who have plenty of contemporary furniture, which as you’ll discover if you browse their site can add a bit of quirkiness to your home.

Are you in the drinks trolley gang, or in the no-way ever camp?

Reflecting on my week #86

Last weekend was a weekend for getting jobs done, and that continued through most of the week with the focus changing to work, rather than home. Though of course there was always more, on both lists, that could probably be done, but that is often my way. The plan to be prepared and pack way in advance, didn’t quite materialise, and as ever there was the “how heavy is my case” guessing game after the bathroom scales refused point blank to even guesstimate the weight.

As it turned out, and despite us thinking that we had plenty with us, at the airport our luggage was woefully under the 23kg weight limit per bag, so no pre-worrying (however light) was needed. In fact, we were 16kg off the total limit, and it did make me wonder what on earth people take with them.  The check in staff looked even more surprised when they saw the (small) size of our hand luggage, but so far I’m sure we have everything we need with us. 

There was a bit of a scare though as l started to lightly unpack in our Lisbon apartment - I couldn’t see MOH’S toiletry bag, and had the sinking feeling that perhaps it wasn’t in the case after all. Turns out it was, it was the one thing he’d unpacked.  

Panic over, and I could go back to enjoying the rooftop view before we headed out for that initial explore where tuk-tuks, funiculars, trams and plenty of tiles were all spotted.  A pizza and beers were also quickly devoured under the bluest of skies, as somehow airports seem to make me ravenous. 

THE VIEW FROM OUR APARTMENT  

THE VIEW FROM OUR APARTMENT  

THE PROMISE OF TILES TO COME

THE PROMISE OF TILES TO COME

A FUNICULAR  

A FUNICULAR  

With life its usual busy self, we'd booked our holiday but with very little planning for our time in Lisbon, the only definite was that MOH wanted to watch the Champions League Final, which was fair enough. So the question of what we were actually going to do, prompted some serious planning so we could make the most of the three nights and two days in the city.

And the first of our days here was spent in Belém admiring many of its monuments. Belém is just a short (three stops) train journey from Cais do Sodre, and well worth the trip, though the Tropical Botanical gardens which I was keen to visit was shut, as we discovered as we arrived at its gate. 

THE MONUMENTS TO THE DISCOVERIES

THE MONUMENTS TO THE DISCOVERIES

WAITING TO GO INTO BELÉM TOWER

WAITING TO GO INTO BELÉM TOWER

OIUTSIDE THE MONASTERIES OF JERÓNIMOS

OIUTSIDE THE MONASTERIES OF JERÓNIMOS

Getting a tram was obviously on our list, as was eating plenty of those fabulous Portuguese custard tarts, and as it turned out, our first of each were linked. We hadn’t planned our return journey back and while sitting enjoying some tapas and vinho verde we realised we were overlooking the terminus for tram 18. After not seeing the botanical gardens and wondering what do do next, a tram pulled in, we worked out it would take us back and so we jumped on it. And for that first stop, we had it to ourselves which given everything I’d cram-read that morning wasn’t what I expected at all. 

PASTEL DE NATA

PASTEL DE NATA

I took many photos of buildings from the tram and will no doubt share those once we’re home, but the let’s continue with how the trams and tarts. Once off the tram, which did fill up as expected, we found ourselves wondering what to do next. The Timeout Market was on our list of ‘must sees’ and although we expected to do this the next day, when it presented itself right in front of us, we’ll lets just say gift horse and mouth. And pastel de nata.

TILES! SOME OF MANY (AND I MEAN MANY)

TILES! SOME OF MANY (AND I MEAN MANY)

Throughout the day we’d spotted many of these purple flowering trees and wondered what they were. They had a similar appeal to the cherry blossom in Greenwich Park and were much photographed.  Back at the apartment later Google told me they are Lisbon Jacarandas, and the flowers signify the start of summer, and with temperatures above thirty degrees, and reaching 36 on Sunday, they probably weren’t wrong.

THE PRETTY LISBON JACARANDAS  

THE PRETTY LISBON JACARANDAS  

Our second day was supposed to include a tram ride and the market, but in a rare spate of getting ahead of ourselves the next on our list was to visit the Alfama, or old part of the city. Despite the increasing heat we set off on foot, purposefully taking a different route through the city, heading towards Rossio down these steps, which went on and on. One step on each and you’d get down them pretty quickly and at speed, but two steps on each and you (well I) felt like a doddering old lady, so a combination of the two was adopted I’ll say successfully as I didn’t fall over (though it was probably close)

STEPS! 

STEPS! 

After some people watching in the streets around Rossio, another market and a stop off for drinks and to visit one of the churches along the way, we reached Alfama, which seemed to be adorned in a vast supply of tinsel throughout its narrow lanes. It had the feel of a great party the night before and of gearing up to do it all again, but not just yet.  So after an extensive wander we headed back towards Rossio in search of tapas.

IN THE ALFAMA DISTRICT  

IN THE ALFAMA DISTRICT  

Once again we struck gold. Octopus in a confit of peppers, lime shrimps and chorizo cooked in moscatel with mushrooms along with a refreshing glass of vinho verde. All that was needed was a custard tart, so back we went to the market, this time using the Metro as a concession to the day’s temperatures. There are obviously plenty of other places to eat and enjoy custard tarts, but our plan was to stop off at a wine bar we’d spotted the day before with the most amazing vaulted bottle ceiling. 

IMG_8830.JPG

Looking at it more closely it was also a feat of engineering, but more on that another day. Today we’re moving on to the second phase of our trip and heading down to the Arrábida Natural Park on the Setúbal Peninsula, which is just a stone’s throw from Lisbon, but which I’m expecting to be totally different.

I’d better go, I’ve some packing to do...