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Some of our past activities
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Autumn 2002
Our first term included activities such as kayaking, hiking, camping and cooking.

Thurs 5th Sept 2002 : Kayak expedition to Inch Garvie

This was our inaugural meeting. Some time shortly after 7:00 pm, six Explorer Scouts and Leaders launched their kayaks from beside Longcraig pier, near South Queensferry. The start of the expedition was delayed by our having to rescue the rescue boat, manned by Clive and Stuart, the Cabin Boy. At last we set off, heading into wind and waves, course set for the island of Inch Garvie, on which stands the middle pier of the Forth Bridge.

Launching kayaks at LongcraigThe spray heaped upon us as we pitched into the relentless waves and soon some of the kayaks had started to flood. But we were neither downhearted nor deterred by this misfortune. The rough waters east of the island were made even more bumpy by the conflicting tidal currents but the intrepid explorers came through this into the lee of the island just as the red sun was disappearing behind a cloud on the horizon.

The name 'Inch Garvie' is probably originally of Gaelic derivation, meaning 'rough island'. It certainly is!  We landed and hauled the kayaks ashore on to the limpet and barnacle encrusted basalt. Weed clung to the rocks and hid the gaps and crevices, likely home to crabs and other lurking horrors. We clambered over the rocks and soon reached the Second World War gun emplacement. Regretfully, we had brought no flag to place here, so we poked around for a while and, after a vain attempt to creep off and maroon one of our number, set off back to Longcraig.

The water was not nearly as bumpy as we headed back, so we played around a bit. We practiced canoeing skills, we rafted up and tried to use the paddles as sails, we surfed on the remaining swell and we came back to Longcraig as the light was failing. Once the safety boat was brought in and bodies and kayaks were hosed down, we tucked into the barbecue that Martin had kindly incinerated for us.

Thanks to Bruce and Clive from Longcraig Scout Centre and to Paul for taking the pictures.

Martin kayakingCalum and our guide for the evening, Bruce


Thurs 12th Sept 2002 : Planning meeting

This was our first full meeting. Six Explorer Scouts turned up. We started off by Alan introducing the Unit to Explorer Scouting.  We then discussed programme ideas with Martin leading a brainstorming session.  Then the Explorers were sent out into Morningside in two groups to answer some local knowledge questions. We met together at the church again back for refreshments, followed by a session where we elected ourselves on to four committees: 'Programme Planning', 'Summer Expedition Planning', 'Finance and Resources' (Finance And Resources Committee of Explorers - FARCE) and 'Communications and Publicity'.


21st - 22nd Sept 2002 : Night hike and bothy night

Six Explorer Scouts and Leaders drove down from Morningside to Peebles where they stopped at Big Eb's for chips. It was just after 9:00 pm when we arrived at Drumelzier and set out from the car park. The sun had long set but the full moon was lighting the cloudy sky. The Explorer Scouts' map-reading led us up the hill-track to Den Knowes Head and then on to the route of the Thief's Road, an old drovers track through the Borders, along which herds of Highland cattle were once driven south from the markets of Crieff and Falkirk. There were nStanhope valleyo Highland cattle that night, though the eyes of a few sheep (at least we think they were sheep... they could have been wolves) reflected in the beams of our torches.

The Thief's Road took us to an army of cairns and piles of stones, only a couple of which are shown on the map of the area. From here, we wandered blindly downhill until we came to a track, which took us further down hill and eventually to Stanhope Hope Bothy. Bill, of the Border Bothies Association, had already arrived there and had put out a light to guide us. He had also filled buckets with water and lit a couple of fires. We sat around and chatted for a while, some of us with hot dogs for supper. Eventually, the leaders retired to bed, though the Explorers sat and chatted for several hours more... and more... and more.

Bill left early in the morning to cycle back to Edinburgh. The message from Alan was that the food for breakfast was in the kitchen, so the cooks set to to make the sausage and bacon rolls, with coffee for the leaders, who were not quite up by that stage. We discussed ideas for a summer expedition and played a few rounds of 'In the Bag', which Martin had brought along. Then we idled away the time chopping wood and clearing the place up.

At noon, we set off for Drumelzier, this time taking the low track that runs east of the River Tweed. By the time we arrived back at the cars, the effects of the late night were beginning to show and four very tired Explorer Scouts were taken back to Edinburgh and delivered to their homes.

Thanks to the Border Bothies Association for the use of Stanhope Bothy (we hope we will be allowed back some time) and especially to Bill for getting there before us and making the place so warm and welcoming.

Stanhop HopeLeaving Stanhop Hope


Thurs 26th Sept 2002 : Megabowl

We all met at Megabowl at 7:00 pm, except for Richard, who had foolishly checked with the web site to see what time we were supposed to arrive. Alan promised to try to keep it up to date in future! As we already had a lane of six, Alan and Martin had to double up. This was bad news for Martin. Richard took over Alan's lane, which was good news for Alan. There were several good scores during the evening, including a good few spares and one or two strikes. When it was all over, we wandered off into the evening, all having got to know each other a little better.


Thurs 3rd Oct 2002 : Moving On I

We went along to Braid Church where Calum and Euen were moving on from the 25th Troop. They were presented with their Moving On Awards by Cathy, after which Catriona, the GSL, presented the Scouts to Alan. The Unit then ran a game for the Troop, loosely based around the carton characters Yogi Bear, Mowgli, Bart Simpson, Fred Flintstone, Tom (of Jerry fame) and Aladdin. The tasks involved singing songs, making a stone-age car and a mouse trap for Jerry. The Eagles won, with 62.5 points.


Fri 4th Oct 2002 : Moving On II

Having had such a successful evening at Braid Church, we all trooped along to Cluny Centre on the Friday for Richard's Moving On. James presented him with his Award and Alan welcomed him into the Unit. We ran the same game and this time the Hawks won, with 63 points.


Thurs 10th Oct 2002 : Investiture

We held this meeting in the Session Room of Braid Church. Rebecca and Jennifer were presented with their Scout Membership Badges. After they had made their promise, the remainder of the Unit, including the Leaders, re-affirmed theirs. We talked about further programme ideas and then had an activity based around the Scout Law. A few other 'laws' were discussed.


Thurs 17th Oct 2002 : International Evening

We met in the Session Room of Braid Church, each of three groups representing  different nationalities. The Explorer Scouts had chosen Thailand and Italy, while the Leaders had Australia. Each group were expected to appear in the costume of their chosen country, give a short presentation, give us some music and introduce us to a few useful phrases. The Australians were well decked out with shorts and hats with dangling corks. One of the Italians was sporting a toga, but otherwise the attire was pretty mundane (more effort required here, guys!). We then tucked into a spread of Aussie barbi-tucker, Thai snacks and pizza before going along to the small hall for a session of Thai kick-boxing (ouch!), Sicilian card games and Aussie-rules handball!


21st - 23rd Oct 2002 : Camping and walking in Perthshire

On a wet and windy Monday, two Explorers and our leader set off for Killin. We arrived at our destination to pick up another of the Explorers, and after a cuppa and for some a good few biscuits we set off again. We had planned to climb a Munro, Meall Ghaordaidh, but after hearing the farmer advising another party of climbers that the weather was worse than it was down at the foot, we swiftly changed our route. We decided to head to some shielings on the lower slopes of the hill. After a long but steady drag up the hill, we stopped after navigating the river for a bite to eat. Then we set oRichard, Calum and Jenna at the old shielingsff again and reached what the Explorers were sure was a shieling, we stopped and huddled down behind the wall, which made a great wind break. 

After Alan had pointed out we were not actually at the correct shieling, we managed to persuade him to lead us down! Once we had returned to the van, we changed and all dived in out of the rain. We dropped of one of the Explorers at her house, and then we went for the local shop to buy our rations. After much debate we settled for a curry and some nans. However the day was not over, we still had to make our way up the road that had snow on either side of it to Meggernie scout campsite. We then pitched our tents in record time and dived back into the van where we were to spend a good bit of the rest of the night! We listened to the same tape over and over again whilst chatting and generally having a laugh! We had at this stage had our tea, and thanks to Alan for doing such a good job of it despite not reading the label!

The next day we were surprised, It was still raining! However we got ourselves ready to go for another hike, and then waited to be reunited with our fellow Explorer. After stalling for a few hours in the warm chalet Alan realised what was going on and was even more desperate to get out and on this walk! We set off up the road on foot... well the sensible ones did! The less sensible amongst us chose to run through the bog and also every puddle in sight!! It was a good low level walk through a forest, with a great view when we reached the highest point we were going to go. Again we set off along the road but this time we were going down, and yet again every puddle was revisited. Then we were left once more by one of the Explorers.

The remaining two Explorers and our leader then had the decision to make: to stay in the bitterly cold and wet conditions or return home safely? Yep, we proved that we still had some sense in us, we cut short our visit and returned to the warmth of our own warm homes! Despite the weather, we all had a great time and Alan must again be thanked for giving us such opportunities.

Still plenty of energy!Calum in his element


Thurs 31st Oct 2002 : Indoor games evening

We were ousted from the Session Room of Braid Church and had to make do with the old Ladies Room. Once divided into three teams, we were given a number of tasks to do by Martin. Alan ran a D-I-Y game of Pictionary and we had to negotiate an obstacle course with a balloon kept in the air by means of a hair drier.


Thurs 7th Nov 2002 : Skiing at Hillend

We didn't have quite enough people to get a group ticket and we were restricted to the main slope because Thursday is race training. Some of us found muscles that we had forgotten existed and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Roll on the winter when we can do this for real up-north! 


Thurs 14th Nov 2002 : Cookery Competition at Bonaly

On a stormy night, when the Car Park of Bonaly was in danger of flooding the 'Beefy's Best Botham Burger' Competition took place in the Baronial Hall. The Explorers were split into teams of Jennifer and Rebecca, Richard and Mikael with Calum choosing the wildcard entry of Alan. Would this be a choice he would end up regretting?

With Chief Chef Haggart overlooking proceedings the cooks went about producing their masterpieces. Recipes were a closely guarded secret in case that 'je ne sais quoi' provided that winning formula. With time counting down and the clock ticking the pressure began to tell with last minute preparations taking place. Ding!

And so to the marking, all Burger were of the highest quality and would do any restaurant proud. Each burger has been named as follows: Richard and Mikael - Hell Burger; Jennifer and Rebbecca - Can't cook Won't Cook; Calum and Alan - Barry's Big Beefy Bonaly Baronial Burger

After tidying up the contestants awaited with baited breath for the results and finally after much soul searching they were announced:

  • 3rd place: Jennifer and Rebecca
  • 2nd place: Calum and Alan (the gamble didn't pay off, Calum)
  • Winners: Richard and Mikael

Thurs 21st Nov 2002 : Programme and progress review

The meeting was held at Braid Church in the Session Room.  The three committees met and talked about the programme for next term, the summer expedition to Loch Ness and the Great Glen and the finance and resources of the Unit.  Alan gave us a quick game where half of us were blindfolded and were led through a series of tasks by the others. We talked about how it felt not to be able to see and what it felt like to be depended upon.


23rd - 24th Nov 2002 : Morningside District Explorer Scout Forum
The two Morningside District Explorer Scout Units met at Bonaly to get to know each other and talk about joint activities. We then had a Scottish dinner. We'd call it the annual dinner but that's a bit difficult as it was the first one. We finished off the evening with a couple of games - Who wants to be a millionnaire? and The weakest link. Three of the North Face Explorers stayed overnight in the Zodiac Bothy. Richard, Calum and Mikael in the Zodiac Bothy

Thurs 28th Nov 2002 : Taking drugs and making decisions

We all met at Cluny Church and started with a brain-storming session on drugs, medicinal and non-medicinal, legal and illegal, and socially acceptable and non-acceptable use and misuse. We then split into two teams, one representing the marketting division of a new drink that had been shown to be addictive and the other, an action group hoping to ban its introduction into Britain. Each team was given a budget and had to decide upon a course of action.


Thurs 5th Dec 2002 : Incident Hike

Two groups of double-zero trainee agents were dropped into North Korea, ready to Die Another Day.  Each group had to estimate the times they would take to reach three checkpoints. The first was on top of a hill code-named Capelaw, where they came upon an agent with a bullet wound in his upper arm. One of the groups failed to find the entry wound, never mind the exit wound! The second checkpoint was code-named Bonaly Reservoir and here they discovered a South Korean agent who was trying to communicate in a wierd hill-dialect that he had been separated from the detachment to which he was assigned. He was expecting a helicopter to come and pick him up and the trainees had to interpret his sounds and sign-language and make the appropriate signals. The third checkpoint was back at Bonaly. One of the teams laid an ambush for the other but somehow fell asleep before they arrived. Calum, Jenna, Rebecca and Jamie were awarded their double-zero certificates. The others were sent back for further training.


Thurs 12th Dec 2002 : Desert Island Disks

We met at Cluny Church. Martin had created three music quizzes, one with artists beginning A - M, one with artists beginning N - Z (including a few with dubious credentials) and one of film themes and musicals. Nobody wanted to be in Alan's team, though they could have used his knowledge of Frank Sinatra singing My Way... but not very much else. The quizzes were broken up by a discussion on what constituted a good pop song and then with writing one of our own. Lyricist Mikael surpassed himself.


Thurs 19th Dec 2002 : Video and pizza

The last meeting of term was held at Richard's house. Richard had this great attic with a computer, pool table and hi-fi. This was a last chance for the founder members of the Unit to get together before the new Scouts move on in January. They have worked well together and Martin and Alan are very pleased with how the Unit has evolved. We all look forward to its growing as more Scouts join us and look forward to welcoming the first of them next term.