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The Litten Nature Reserve held a Family Open day last month. Thankfully Blue Fox Forest School invited me & the family along to have a look around the reserve and find out what a Forest School is all about. It’s a hectare in size and is a little gem hidden away in Greenford, West London.  It has three ponds, two natural which tend to fill in the winter & dry out in the summer. Have a watch and see how Grace turned me into a Frog for an afternoon.
You might also like to of my other Nature Vlogs such as:- 

Family trip to Kew Gardens

Build a Bug Garden

Make your own Wildlife Pond

The post Littern Nature Reserve Open Day June 2019 appeared first on Big Man In The Woods.

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Big Man In The Woods by Bigmaninthewoods - 3w ago
A few weekends ago the girls went out to  Grace’s  friend’s house which left just left me and my son and the start of what would become an amazng Daddy & Son bonding day.

Trying to be a cool Daddy by dressing up as Gekko from PJ Masks

I could’ve taken the easy option and just sit on the sofa and watch a PJ Mask marathon mixed up with some Lego Man which I know my boy would love to of done. We could just sit on the sofa eating biscuits and drinking milky tea…

Instead I wanted to spend some time outside and show and explain to my Son why I love being out in the great outdoors.

We headed down to the local River- The River Brent. The River Brent is a river in west and Northwest London, England, and a tributary of the River Thames. 17.9 miles (28.8 km) in length. It joins up to the River Thames in Brentford.

Armed with a few snacks and drinks, we walked along the river bank, watching the ducks and swans swimming on the river.

We both noticed how dirty the river and the banks of the river are. Covered mainly in plastic rubbish aswell as the traditional dumped mopeds, shopping trolleys and 2 bicycles.

Next we headed to the railway arches, the River Brent at this time of the year is rather low. My son was convinced he saw a crocodile lying low in the river under the railway arches. I explained to him that crocodiles don’t live in the rivers here in London, but he wasn’t having any of it! “No Daddy!! There is a crocodile over there, I can see it!!” sometimes, you just have to go with it and agree that there’s a crocodile swimming in the River Brent in West London.

We then walked a little bit more along side the River Brent, spotting a lovely tree in the shade, we both plonked our bums down and sat under this lovely tree, sipping on our cool refreshing drinks and nibbled on some crisps.

Next stop was to the park and a Sneaky ice cream before heading home.

I really wish I could have more of these Father and Son day’s together. But sadly the reality is, back to work and count down the days to the weekend for our next family adventures.


Who knows, in a few years time we could be Canoeing  down the River Thames instead of walking along the banks.

The post Daddy and Son Bonding Day appeared first on Big Man In The Woods.

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Question & Answer Vlog : Ask Me Anything!

A while ago I ask you all to send me questions an I will honestly answer them.

So, I randomly picked a handful of them and here’s the answer’s ….

The post Question & Answer Vlog : Ask Me Anything! appeared first on Big Man In The Woods.

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Big Man In The Woods by Bigmaninthewoods - 1M ago
As a Scout Leader, what’s are the superpowers you wish you had? Hang on! Don’t answer that just yet…..  let me guess- I reckon it’s flying or super strength? my  final guess would be flying. I think at some point we’ve all dreamed of becoming superheroes. Flying from work to home to the Scout Hall & not getting stuck in the traffic or fying home after a Beaver Camp. The world has gotten a lot safer since superhero comics debuted in the 1940’s. The best unnatural abilities would honestly be the ones that make our lives alot easier. If we could build a “SUPER Scout Leader” with superpowers what would they be?

Here’s some of the super powers that I came up with:-

Photo by jon-tyson-

To be able to do my Scouting bits in the 2 hours a week

We’ve all been told about that Urban Myth that Scouting is only 2 hours a week.  In some roles that’s probably true, but for many Section Leaders that’s far from the truth. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could do your programme planning, module training, booking trips, organising camps in just a few minutes a week? Now that would be a cool Superhero Power

To explain to my Scouts how to play a wide game leaving enough time to actually play it…

We’ve all been there, you have explained and explained and explained the rules of the Game to our Young people, you’ve even got the Young Leaders to explain the game and rules to them as you thought it was the wat you was explaining the game,  But still, they run the wrong way around the troop when playing ladders or forget to drop the bat when playing rounders!

Invisibility so I could see what the kids really think of scouting 

This would be rather fun to see what the Scouts get up to in their Patrol tents when they say they are tired and want to head back to their tents instead of sitting around the campfire. We could also see who has smuggled in the chocolates in the personal kit ha-ha!

Telekinesis

How cool would it be to just stand their and using the power of you mind, you have managed to get all the patrol tents pitched straight , al the guy lines are in line, the camp fire is roaring and dinner is being cooked over the Altar fire all from the position of sitting in your Camping chair…. Ah the list is endless with this superhero power. 

Super fundraiser ability so we could do all the things we really want to do but are put off by budget!

I think this superhero power needs to explaining. The group Treasurer would be so happy wouldn’t they?

Magically pack up after camp

This would be my choice if I had to pick only 1 of the listed superhero powers. This is thing I dread the most about camping with my Scouts. The camp has been awesome, everyone has had great fun both Scouts & Leaders. No plasters have been issued but the dreading packing away and then even worse…packing the Van. This is when my stress levels increase so much. Everyone is knackered, no 1 really wants to pack away and will make every excuse to avoid this stage, so the extent where there is fights over who is going to mop the floor in the lair that we have hired.

Translations skills. You will be able to translate those grunts and weird noises the young people make when they don’t want to talk to us leaders.

I wonder of Google translate can help us with this?

The power to shrink and resize camp equipment so it fits in your pocket to get to the site enlarge it again while there then carry it home in your pocket again

Somehow it all fitted nicely into the van when we arrived for camp, in fact we have less things to pack away and we have no food and the emergency wood supply we brought with us, we used. So how does the kit still not fit back into the van?

The ability to fill things, hungry tummies, fuel tanks, bank accounts, minds with knowledge.

This again is another very useful power to be able to have up your sleeves.

Unlimited energy to make you stay positive

I can probably speak for all the Scout Leaders not just in the UK, but I would say he whole of the world, that at some point in our Scouting timeline we have thought what’s the point? Why am I doing this? I don’t get paid for this, so what’s the point in me giving up my time for free and no one values me?

You’ve spent hours and hours and hours planning for an awesome programme or camp, but the Young people just want to sit around and talk, not engaging with the leaders, you’ve heard rumours in the district that people are talking about your programme. The list is endless.

It’s at this point we need a huge injection of positivitiy. But where can we find it? why not talk to our fellow leaders, our peers even the “Young People” themselves, to find out what’s the problem. Ive written a blog post about this exact problem. But wouldn’s it be great to  have a superpower to recharge, a bit like a phone charger bank that quickly refills us with positive energy.

A Force field to protect you againist Politics & Grumpy Parents/Guardians

Imagine just being able to put up a forcefield afound yourself to repell those rumours, District/County Politics  at bay.

This is how it would work.. you start to pick up on vibes that a grumpy parent is wlaking up the Scout Hall pathway, your Force Field detectors start to flicker, you activate your force field to protect you and boooooom that Grumpy parent bounces away from you and retreats back to their car.

Well done Force Field!!

Now that’s a cool Superhero Power to have.

What other Superhero powers have I missed out? Comment below and leet me know what powers you would have…

Related Material On This Blog… Amusing things Scouts say 21 things that proves you’re a Scout Leader  10 things you learn when your child starts Scouts

The post Scout Leader Superpowers appeared first on Big Man In The Woods.

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This week Big Man in the Woods has teamed up with The Great Wonderfest to give away family passes to “Scoutfest” at The Great Wonderfest. The event is set to be hosted by entertainment legends Dick and Dom and with The Vamps, Sigma and Busted on the lineup, it’s set to be a huge weekend…

The four day family friendly camping festival is set to take place at Duxmore Farm on August 1st – 4th, with its seven day ‘Wondercamp’ starting on July 28th.

Children’s TV legends Dick and Dom will host the festival, and will be joined by Peppa Pig and Rastamouse, and live shows and workshops from Flawless. The lineup also sees some of the biggest names in music appear on stage, with performances including SigmaConor MaynardExample, and The Vamps!

Also at The Great Wonderfest is “Scoutfest”

Cubs, Beavers and Scouts go free at The Great Wonderfest!

Announcing a brilliant Scout ‘Family Camp’ at the heart of an amazing new festival on the Isle of Wight hosted by Dick and Dom

The Great Wonderfest has teamed up with Scouts IOW to launch ‘Scoutfest’, which invites Beavers, Cubs and Scouts from all over the UK to join them for the ultimate summer family camp!

‘Scoutfest’ will have a dedicated campsite at The Great Wonderfest, based at Duxmore Farm, Isle of Wight, offering a brilliant environment for camping, rambling and outdoor activities. Scouts go free and have the chance to opt for a 7-day or 4-day camp, where Scout groups from all over the country will be able to experience #SkillsForLife in a fantastic setting.

The Scouts motto is “Do more. Share more. Be more.” and what better way to experience this than by sharing an amazing outdoor experience with your family, as well as fellow Scouts from all over the country.

Dick, from festival hosts Dick and Dom, says, “It’ll be great to have the Scouts at the Great Wonderfest. I used to be a Cub and a Scout so I know how important it can be to learn about the great outdoors. Not only can they develop their Scouting skills, but they can also party at The Great Wonderfest – festival badges all round!”

Within the heart of The Great Wonderfest, expect a lively programme of Scouting’s favourite activities, as well as a ‘Skills for Life’ programme focusing on helping Scouts develop into leaders, problem solvers and team players by giving them the character, employability and practical skills they need to succeed.

‘Scoutfest’ will host a full programme of activities; from badge work, daily challenges and outdoor pursuits, to big pioneering projects and fun stuff like Scout treasure hunts, pop-up tent packing competitions and hiking.

The Scouts will also host campfire sessions and campsite sing-alongs with special guests on the Main Stage. The brilliant local IOW Scouts will also have a media team on site producing a daily broadsheet as well as providing a Sherpa service, helping festival goers carry their kit to the campsites.

Now here’s your chance to win a  Family Weekend Camping pass ( 2 adults, up to 4 Kids) which includes entry to all performances and events and a place to pitch yout tent. All you gave to do is click here  to go to the competition page and tell us what Your favourite Campfire song is

 * terms and conditions held by the organiser of The Great Wonderfest which can be seen here. *

The post WIN a Family Pass to The Great Wonderfest! appeared first on Big Man In The Woods.

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Big Man In The Woods by Bigmaninthewoods - 1M ago
I often get quite a few messages from parents and also Scout Leader asking questions or looking for advice. This next question is something I get asked quite often. So I thought I might  aswell publish the question and the advice I gave this concerned leader.
Hey Mark, I’m after some. Advise on a situation that I had recently. I have a turquoise Ninja (beaver) who attended our previous camp a couple of months back. The Turquoise Ninja had a toileting accident and so asked to go home before camp fire and didn’t want to stay over for the night. We have a camp coming up over the school holidays but as you can guess, our little turquoise Ninja is now saying he doesnt want to go even though he will be the only one not going. Do you have any ideas on how to try and change his mind?

My reply back:-

Try and re-assure him not to worry too much about it, there are plenty of children (and even adults who have incontinence problems — they do make various products for all ages).

Here’s a few pointers, that I can tell you.

1) Put he’s tent next to a toilet, It might be that he was scared about asking to go to the toilet

2) Ask one of his parents to come along.

3) “assigned” one leader that he can confide in if he has an accident, and they could help him go to get changed by pretending to ask him to do a special job?

4) Something that I was told by a fellow Beaver Leader some time ago is to carry a mug of coffee when doing tent check with Beavers /Cubs and if there was a wet bed, you “accidentally” spill the coffee in the tent and then you will have to remove the sleeping bag out.

5) Consider underwear called Drynites and they are very absorbent — I’ve never known them to leak, when my daughter was learning how to come out of nappies, we would make her wear these at night time. Granites could even be worn during the day if it makes him feel ” comfortable and re-assured (obviously with agreement from the parents), they’re also designed to look just like regular underwear (the smaller ones have spiderman prints on them and the larger ones have general skateboarding/stripes — the striped ones seem to appear the best as they do just look like regular underwear.

6) There is also a charity called ERIC that might also offer some help — they deal with childhood incontinence and have a lot of handy information so children can still enjoy activities even though they might have accidents.  https://www.eric.org.uk/

7) Bring a spare sleeping bag or two to camp, also consider some spare pyjamas Encase they get sodden.

8)Also avoid a late night drink. It’s a long time to go all night and some people sleep so heavily they just don’t wake up. Even the leaders have to get up in the middle of the night to go, and they argue with themselves if they really need the toilet because it’s so warm and cozy in their sleeping bag.

9) Remind the rest of the people in the tent that the scout law is a scout is a friend to all scouts, and they should support their friend, so they can all enjoy their time.

I hope it all goes well and you can encourage your little turquoise Ninja to enjoy the camp and not worry too much.

Kind regards

Mark

What else could I of advised the parent/Guardian of this Beaver? Do you have any advise, tips that I could offer this parent/Guardian? Comment below if you do.

The post Bed Wetting Advice appeared first on Big Man In The Woods.

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I was very happy to hear that Carters Steam Fair is back on the road for 2019. Myself & my family was invited to Pinkeys Green this weekend for what turned out to be a very sunny and dry Sunday afternoon! Carter’s isn’t your normal Fun Fair that turn up in your local park for the Weekend. Carters steam fair is full of Vintage Rides dating from the 1890s! All powered by Steam! No electricity just pure Steam. I just love the noises of the steam engines, the smell of the coal, it just has an amazing family feel to this fair. It’s great for the little ones to sample a traditional Funfair and great   the grown-ups will love being taken back in time with the lovely vintage rides, the artwork on the rides and the cool Rock ‘n’ Roll music that s played on the various rides and stalls. Here’s how our visit went….
Carters Steam Fair May 2019 Pinkneys Green

Based in Maidenhead, the next town along to where I was brought up as a kid, the Carters family rescue fairground rides from all over the country and restore them to their former glory.  During the winter months they work on repairing and painting the rides.  Over the summer months they take their vintage fair on tour around the South East and London.  The fair has even starred in films The Theory of Everything, Paddington 2, Call The Midwife and various over music videos and shows.  It is believed to be the largest traveling vintage funfair in the world!

Check out  their website to see when the fair is nearest to you: https://www.carterssteamfair.co.uk/

Here’s some more  ideas for Fun Famly Days out that we’ve enjoyed as a family

Zippos Circus

South Devon Railway

The Grand Union Canal

*Please note that I was given free ride tokens to enjoy at the fair in return for this post.  All words are that of my own.*

The post Carters Steam Fair May 2019 Pinkneys Green appeared first on Big Man In The Woods.

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The up and coming Musical tour that me and my family will be seeing during the summer holidays by Wallace & Gromit featuring a Cracking Live Orchestra gave me a cracking programme idea to make our very own Patrol Stop motion animated sketch about Scouts.

Ok we are never going to be the next Nick Park from Aardman animations, the people behide Wallace and Gromit and not forgetting Shaun the sheep but the Scouts would learn the process of stop motion animation.

My brief for the scouts was to create a 30 second promo about Scouts…. WHO/WHAT/WHY/WHEN was all down to the scouts. They had 3 weeks to come up with an idea, plan, film and then edit the promo videos.

I really wanted to use plasticine just like Wallace & Gromit, I really wanted to make the next Hollywood blockbuster just like Wallace & Gromit- the wrong trousers. Sadly, we couldn’t get the best results with Plasticine to we went for Lego instead.

OK, we are never going to win any awards or even go on tour like Wallace & Gromit the musical, but at least the Scouts and Leaders had a great time learning how difficult Stop motion animation actually is.

Each patrol came up with very different stories, 1 patrol explained that hey have recently learn about CPR, another was about a burning building and the 3rd patrol, I still have no idea what their story was about.

The week of filming, each Patrol had 45 minutes of filming time of which turned out to be about 10 seconds of real time in their video. It was a real shock to each patrol, and they all athought their promo video would be at least a couple of minutes long not 10 seconds.  The Wallace & Gromit The Curse of the Were-Rabbit took 15 months to make!!

The following week, the scouts edited down their animation videos and recorded over their voices.

Here’s the Videos that the Scouts produced…
Its safe to say Nick Park, that my Scout Group won’t be making their own versions of Wallace & Gromit- your safe there! So big thanks to Wallace and Gromit for giving me the inspiration for this Cracking Stop motion animation Programme. If you would like to see the Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels Tour you can find out more details here.

The post Wallace & Gromit vs My Scouts appeared first on Big Man In The Woods.

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I’m really it’s Monday, the main reason because it means its another edition ofCampfire Chat. I love this section and it’s so nice getting to know Scout Volunteers from around the world and this week we head to Leicester in England.

If you haven’t joined in with Campfire Chat before it’s a weekly online interview celebrating Scouting. From Leaders, to County Commissioners to volunteers the other side of the world, every Monday we share a few minutes to discuss Scouts!

So, if you would like to take part in next week’s Campfire Chat, drop me an 

Campfire Chat with… Andy Stone

What’s your Scouting Role and how long have you been involved with Scouts for?

I am an ACSL, assistant cub scout leader, for my main role, but also workshare the ADC Cubs role, and am a shooting instructor as well. Currently approaching 5 years in formal post, however, I did 2 years as an occasional helper before I decided to take up scouting on a “full time” basis 

Name 1 random fact about yourself.

I Sometimes worry that I like sitting round a campfire a bit too much!

Where you in the scouting movement yourself when you were a child?

Yes, I was a scout, but unfortunately my group couldn’t offer the venture scouting opportunity so my childhood scouting experience was restricted. 

Are you a Camper or glamper?

Absolutely a camper, love to spend time out in the woods, however, I do love my pop-up tents!

What do you always take with you on camp? I’m not talking about the essentials such as tent, sleeping bag.

Good friends! I am fortunate enough to work with great friends in scouting and this makes the whole experience a joy. 

What is the best piece of advice you can give to fellow Scout leader?

Enjoy it!! Scouting is meant to be fun for everyone concerned – make sure that you find the enjoyment in it, it rubs off on the kids! If they see you having fun, then they invariably have fun too!

How do you relax/ spend your ‘free time?

Chilling in my garden sat next to my fire pit with a beer in hand, and generally being outdoors in the sunshine!

What’s your funniest Scouting memory?

Way too many things to pick out a favourite, however, it makes me laugh that on a daily basis, and often on multiple occasions, Cubs still scream across the campsite that they can’t find their socks!

Where is your favourite place to camp?

John’s Lee Wood Scout campsite in Leicestershire, it’s an unspoilt woodland with all the amenities, close enough to civilisation to get in and out without any major issues, yet far enough away to be “away from civilisation”.

If you could have dinner with anyone? Dead or alive, who would it be?

Adam Ant! Despite being in his sixties, the man still rocks a stage and has fun doing it! Big respect to anyone who gets to spend their life doing a job that they clearly love and enjoy, and he interacts with his fans and clearly wants them to enjoy his shows too!

Thank you to Andy  for agreeing to be interviewed by me. 

If you would like to take pat in next week’s Campfire Chat please drop me an email titled “Campfire Chat”

The post Campfire Chat with… Andy Stone appeared first on Big Man In The Woods.

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You live a quiet life, and nothing can surprise you anymore. You wish! Do you think you know everything about being a Scout Leader? Here’s 21 things that proves you’re a Scout Leader when…

You do a very complicated knot to tie your shoe laces Sarcasm is the first line of defence… You smell like bacon and campfire on Monday morning at work Your car is full of stuff that could indicate intentions of murder… rope, tarp, axe, saw and fire starters

Sitting around a campfire is the best feeling- everyone else is in bed and quiet and you’re just watching the fire die down enjoying the quiet

The contents of your car’s boot/back seat is several pairs of walking boots, two roll mats, a first aid kit, a whistle, a couple of footballs, several patches of dried mud etc ….

You are convinced your hair smells of campfire even though you haven’t been near one for 3 months. Somebody tells you to “just tie it in a bow” and you have to stop yourself scowling.

You have absolutely no comprehension why someone would not want to sit round a campfire roasting marshmallows. I mean . . . what could be better?

You have amassed enough camping equipment to shelter a small army You wait for camp dates before arranging family holidays.

Buying 20 pumpkins in October seems the normal thing to do.

You can hear young campers’ eyes open at a range of 100 metres at 05:00am. You start conversations with… “This one time, on Scout camp…”

Photo by Kevin Curtis on Unsplash

You don’t have a problem drinking tea either when it’s just boiled or stone cold. You drink tea out of a jam jar, because you lent your cup to a scout last camp, & even though you got your cup back, it seems a waste to stop using the jar. Any new vehicle purchase is dependant on whether it has a tow bar fitted or not

You can’t go shopping and at least one time think “I can use that at scouts or would this be suitable for scouts. All your clothing is scouting related. You keep teaching people at work campfire songs or wander round singing them and getting odd looks.

Here’s spome other Scout related blogs you might like to read

The post 21 things that proves you’re a Scout Leader when… appeared first on Big Man In The Woods.

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