Category Archives: A childs view on life

Britain’s Boy Scout movement begins – and continues to this day

It was on Monday 29th July 1907 that the Boy Scout movement in Britain began with an experimental camp being held on Brownsea Island near Poole in Dorset by Robert Baden-Powell.  His aim was to try out some of his ideas – ideas that were to become the basic principles and activities of the Scout movement. His aim was to foster a sense of honour, loyalty and good citizenship among children. These aims went much wider though, encompassing physical fitness through exercises together with the development of practical skills such as woodwork, tracking, observation, signalling and first aid.

There was also a very new slant on the project; there were to be boys from the whole spectrum of social classes involved and they would share everything as equals. On this first gathering they were divided into four, mixed, ‘patrols’ with each patrol having their own tent for sleeping purposes. Each day had a fixed routine of morning prayers, drills, games and instruction. There were breaks for quiet rest periods and the day was ended with stories around the campfire.

In his ‘Scouting for Boys’ in 1908 Robert Baden-Powell  wrote: ‘The scouts’ motto is founded on my initials, it is be prepared, which means, you are always to be in a state if readiness in mind and body to do your duty’  

Over 100 years later these fundamentals still underpin the Scout movement.

Nellie’s last three days with her Nature Diary

Thursday May 29th – Chiefly south wind – very strong.  Honysuckle in full flower.

Friday May 30th – Weather just a trifle windy.

Saturday May 31st – Crops are growing fast and everything so far has the appearance of a good harvest.

So Nellie’s project has come to an end.  I wonder what she thought about it.  Was it interesting or boreing; was it something she would do again or a case of ‘no way’?
How would you have coped with it?  Would you/have you read the first week then left it alone; read it each week and are now moving on; or done a similar project to that Nellie completed?
I must admit that I have done a sort of ‘half-way-house’ – or is it a two-way one?
I have been taking notes from my small garden and I have also been keeping some notes from my ‘summer’ job.   That is rather more challening in that it is a magnificant 16th century house with a large and varied range of nature’s handiwork.  I’ll be working through the two very different sets of notes while June is hopefully ‘bursting out all over’ and will pass them on as soon as I can.

      If you have done a similar ‘Nellie’ please send a copy through to me on           ‘’ and all post elements of those as well!


Seven more days from Nellie Lant’s Diary – 22nd to 28th May 1919

The heat continues to provide a challenge but at least the clouds are giving a suggestion of rain.  As this week moves on more and more flowers come into full bloom.

Thursday May 22nd – As one looks at the crops, their first thought is how parched they seem, and wishes for rain.  The weather is very dull and the sky looks full of storm clouds.

Friday May 23rd – At last the long looked for event has happened.  We had a storm. It was fairly general, and did a lot of good.  The flowers and trees have lost their parched look and seem fresh again.

Saturday May 24th – The day has been very hot and sultry, there being very little wind, rain wanted again very badly.

Sunday May 25th – Weather much colder, a gentle refreshing rain fell all day and did a great deal of good.

Monday May 26th – It still continues cold but fine.  The Oak trees are in leaf and the Sycamore trees are in blossom.

Tuesday May 27th – Weather much warmer; I saw some beautiful Clover & Speedwell growing in a field, and a most gorgeous bed of Rhododendrons.

Wednesday May 28th – Weather about the same; Roses & Iris’s in flower.

Nellie’s Nature Diary Project is coming towards its end – just three more days to come.  I wonder how the weather of our month of May will have compared to Nellie’s.

It’s Monday 21st May 1917 and Nellie Lant has to write an essay on Allotments

She writes:

One of the most patriotic a man can do in the present crisis is to work on an allotment. It is wonderful to see the amount of land now being cultivated, which in prewar days was used for pleasure or wasted.
The allotment holder has one great advantage over other men, this great advantage is health.  Health is a precious jewel nowadays, a man who has health is far more able to be of use to the country, if he has such a belonging, than a man who has not.
At the bottom of my garden there is an allotment, and every evening I watch the men, and even their wives busy working, resembling bees in their activity.  The man who before the war used to get up just in time to hurry to his work, now gets up about five o’clock in the morning.

I think that allotments are one of the greatest boons of the war.

I think this young lady will go far.

Nellie Lant’s Nature Diary for 15th to 21st May 1919

What Nellie is seing and commenting on this week are some changing weather conditions. Thursday is hot and windy while Sunday is dull with strong cold winds. On Wednesday she gives us her first extended description of two trees.

Thursday May 15th – Weather very hot, strong warm wind. Horse Chest Nut trees one mass of blossom.

Friday May 16th  – Wind in the South-East, weather fine all day, but rained in the evening.

Saturday May 17th – Weather a trifle colder, rather a strong South East wind blowing.  Tulips in flower.

Sunday May 18th – Weather rather dull, much inclined to rain, cold strong wind blowing.

Monday May 19th – Wind in the North-East; weather very fine.  Elm trees are in full leaf.

Tuesday May 20th – Weather very fine; warm wind blowing.  Everywhere seems lovely.  The majority of flowers are in bloom, as though to welcome the Spring.

Wednesday May 21st – As I was walking today, I saw a huge Horse Chestnut tree covered with red blossom & by the side of it there was a Laburnum tree, one mass of yellow.  I was greatly charmed by the beautiful contrast of colour there was also something more, beside the contrast of colour, there was such a difference in size.  It seemed to me as though the Horse Chest Nut tree was put there to guard the Laburnum, it looked so strong and big.

Nellie Lant’s Nature Diary for 8th to 14th May 1919

Last week we had a couple of days with winds from the North with the rest coming from the South.     This week the wind is coming from a warm southerly direction and nature, as a result, begins to respond as Nellie’s notes recall….

Thursday May 8th: South East wind. Fields one mass of gold, being covered with Cowslips.

Friday May 9th: Wind in the South.  Horse Chestnut trees in full leaf and beginning to blossom.

Saturday May 10th: Warm south wind. Weather very fine. Pear trees in blossom.

Sunday May 11th: Very strong wind, weather warm. Cuckoo flowers & Clover in full flower.

Monday May 12th: Soft wind, weather fine but dull.  Willow trees one mass of yellow catkins.

Tuesday May 13th: Weather very fine and warm, soft wind in the southern quarter.

Wednesday May 14th: Wind in the South East. Lilac and Laburnum in full flower.

Do you have a Nature or Weather Diary?  If you have I’d love to ‘hear’ what it’s like in your location – and post the weather report on a blog.  If you hav’nt got one – why not start one?  I have started one and will post it this coming week-end – I hope!

Nellie Lant’s Nature Diary, 1st May 1919

The war – and school – is over and Nellie is now a member of the 4th Cambridge Girl Guides. As with the other stories of Nellie I have told, I have a copy of her Nature Diary for May 1919.  First of all I was going to post it day by day – then I changed my mind to week by week – and that’s what I am going to do. The first two days of her diary are above – and included in the notes below..
May 1st 1919 was a Thursday – so that’s the day I’m going to start each 7 days of Nellie’s reports.  Nellie’s reports are quite brief but, as the days pass by, nature’s world changes – and Nellie notes those changes.

Thursday May 1st: Weather changeable, wind chiefly in the South, very gusty and strong.

Friday May 2nd: Strong north-west wind, but died down later in the day.  Cherry and Plum trees just blossoming.

Saturday May 3rd: Warm southern wind.  Witch Elm trees just losing their seeds and beginning to bud.

Sunday May 4th: Calm south east wind, very warm.  Lilac coming out in bud.

Monday May 5th: South east wind.  Blackthorn in flower.  [The technical name for this plant is Prunus spinose – the name “blackthorn” is due to the thorny nature of the shrub, and it’s very dark bark.   The word commonly used for the fruit is “sloe”.]

Tuesday May 6th: North East wind.  Hedges all white with May blossom.

Wednesday May 7th: South East wind.  I heard the Cuckoo for the first time.  A Pheasant and a Hare ran across our path.

Same time – same place – next week for report two.

Round the Cambridge Backs in Spring

It’s Sunday April 18th 1915 and Nellie Lant is enjoying Springtime in the Cambridge Colleges.  She writes:

My favourite pastime is to go for a walk round the backs of the collages, especially in Spring when one can see all the lovely flowers growing in the college grounds.  The Daffodils dancing and fluttering in the breeze, looking like a flash of brilliant light.  In the wilderness one can see Tulips, Primroses, Daffodils and Narcissus making a wonderful sight.
All nature seems gay with all the birds singing.  One can pick violets, daisies and buttercups.  The last time I went round all the leaves on the trees were bursting, and the May was coming out on the hedge.

There are some soldiers drilling on the grounds at the back of the Collages.  I think the Backs look most beautiful in the Spring more than at any other season.


A Daughter’s letter to Dad, 16th April 1915

Based on our first meeting with Nellie Lant a couple of weeks ago this letter is out of place. Last time we were in 1916 – this one is from 1915, almost to the day.  The war is some 9 months old and Nellie is at Wesley School, King Street, Cambridge – a different, but still residential, girl’s school – Nellie will only come home at the end of each of the three terms.  and is writing home to her father on Friday 16th April 1915.

Dear Dad
Christ’s Pieces are now our playground.  We have been turned out of our proper school by the soldiers.  On Christ’s Pieces there is a band stand nearly every Sunday evening.  The bands play and crowds of people listen to it.  Not very long ago there were some soldier’s horses on there.  At the middle of every morning and afternoon we have ten minutes play time.  At playtime we all go out and play until the bell rings.  On certain days of the week we have drill on the Piece.

                      I am                               
 Your loving daughter


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – 2016 style

In the year 1812 the Brothers Grimm published the first edition of their collection ‘Grimms’ Fairy Tales’ .  In it, among others, was the story of Snow White.

This story is based on that classic of times gone by.

At the beginning of that story, a humble queen sits sewing at an open window during a winter snowfall when she pricks her finger with her needle, causing three drops of red blood to drip onto the freshly fallen white snow on the black windowsill.

Then, she says to herself: “How I wish that I had a daughter that had skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony.” Sometime later, the Good Queen gives birth to a baby daughter whom she names Snow White.  Unfortunately the Queen dies shortly after.

A year later, Snow White’s father, the King, takes a second wife, who is very beautiful, but a wicked and vain woman. The new queen, Snow White’s evil stepmother, possesses a Magic Mirror, which she asks every morning:

“mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”

The mirror always answers: “My Queen, you are the fairest one of all.”

The Queen is always pleased with that, because the magic mirror never lies. But as Snow White grows up, she becomes more beautiful each day and even more beautiful than the Queen, and when the Queen asks her mirror, it says;

“My Queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White is a thousand times more beautiful than you.”

As if by magic, there have been some changes over the years: this one is mine.