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Where We Found the Time to Fit That In

Greetings From The Heart of Scouting!

A long over due update on what has been happening at Gordon Park and no, this time I didn't disappear on a trip into darkest Africa. I was under the impression that only the first world never slept, I never thought that I would be so busy in sleepy old Bulawayo, my world has been like a whirl-wind, all exciting and crazy. Just goes to show how wrong one can be.

The usual weekend chores at the Park have continued unabated, with Chris and I enjoying the challenges of keeping the facilities up to standard. With winter now well behind us, which in the main was a very mild one with only the occasional day seeing us decked out in our winter woollies. Each day we were up bright and early to make the most of our weekends.


Photo: Kevin having completed the re-glazing of a cracked window pane
of the French door on the Common room. A craftsman in the making.

The new pit latrine was finished in record time - it had to be - and is now in use. Nobody will notice any difference as all we did was to dig a new hole adjacent to the original hole and then move the prefabricated super structure over it. In reality, some timbers needed replacing as they had been badly ant eaten and we did modify it according to the Camp Commissioners' idea of the principles of the Blair Pit Latrine design complete with large diameter air vent. Time will tell if his short cuts to the Blair design will still produce the desired odour free environment. In order that the new timbers last another century or two, they were given a good dousing of ant killer. Another change was that instead of using a wooden box for the seat, the new seat was constructed out of brick, given a wooden deck to make it more comfortable and even a teak lid. Quite smart and all this done at minimal cost.

One of those, 'Oh we must get round to it' jobs actually got done -in fact two were knocked off the list. You know it is only when one gets a bit long in the tooth that one actually realizes that the, old-timers of at least fifty years plus, come up with some good suggestions. (Complaint, is not the right word, it's too harsh) The elderly have many years of knowledge at their disposal and do share it with us youngsters, although we seldom listen only because we have our I-pod earphones plugged deep into our ears. Well, now having to follow my own orders that people were not to take the short cut to the St. Georges Chapel by using the back entrance past the water storage tanks, but instead to enter via the long winding, ascending stepped path of the main entrance where one is greeted with a brass plaque with the wording 'Be still and know that I am God' Psalm 46. I was informed a few years ago, that these steps were too high for the elderly folk and could I put in some intermediary steps. As I had not used these steps for generations, always sneaking in through the back way, I was totally unaware of how tiring it was to lift ones feet so high to get onto the next step.

Only one thing to do, if I was being forced to use the correct entrance, then those intermediary steps would have to become a reality. To cut a long story short, it took about five tonnes of pit sand excavated from our quarry down at the Headquarter well, a tonne of old bricks scavenged from all corners of the Park and several buckets of water to install the much needed steps. Thanks to Chris, Kevin, Brendan, Liam and Josh for making life easier to proceed along this scenic, but steep path leading up to the Chapel.

The second, 'get round to it task', had to be done in exactly the same manner, short notice and no dilly dallying around. A Grand Wedding was to be held at the Park and the Park Crew were to prepare the festivity area as per instructions of the Bride. Lesson number one, never argue with a bride. Lesson number two, more so when the bride happens to be a Beaver Leader. Poor little Beavers, now I know what they have to put up with - oops, they are so lucky to have such dedicated and charming leaders. Cough, cough. To level off the chosen area meant hiring one of the earth moving companies from outer Mongolia, but even they balked at the enormity of the task. Ok, tow 'Ndlovu' my trailer out to the Park weekend after weekend, load it with pit sand and level off the selected area the size of a football field - well it might have been, for all the huffing and puffing that went into the task of loading and unloading the trailer.

The area was in fact that 'vast' bit of uneven ground behind the Leask and bordered by the donga next to the Stables. Now it just happened that whilst this task was being undertaken, a Patrol Leader's Training Course was in progress at the Park. My session was a talk on voluntary service in Scouting. I am sure that you are smart enough to put two and two together. The talk became an instant hands on exercise. A few tonnes of pit sand speedily moved within the half hour allotted to my session and the task was just about done. The leveling and consolidation took right up to the wedding day to be completed.

A few weeks before the wedding was to take place, I received letters from two of my former Scouts requesting my thoughts on the scattering of their parents' ashes in Gordon Park. No problem as far as I was concerned, as we have had many former Scouts families ashes scattered. It just so happened that they had chosen the same date as the wedding and as both events could not be changed for family in both events were jetting in from destinations outside Zimbabwe - I think Singapore is somewhere to the east of Bulawayo and Vancouver somewhere to the west of Bulawayo - the only thing to be done was to programme the events for different times on the same day. Whilst the wedding guests were still arriving, the bereaved families who arrived earlier, went up to the Chapel to scatter the ashes of John and Joy Bolton, the deceased parents of Clive, Hugh and Sylvia and their spouses, Barbara and Nick. Unfortunately Maria, Hugh's wife could not attend. A sad moment, but the wishes of the deceased were carried out in a dignified manner.

The wedding service was held at noon in the St. George's Chapel and what a joyous occasion it turned out to be. The 'Big Top' covering the dining area that had been leveled off for the occasion was much appreciated by all, the heat of the day being regulated to a comfortable temperature by a gentle south easterly breeze blowing under the covering.

Preparations for our repainting exercise have also progressed, but where we found the time to fit that in beats me. Oh, now I remember, half an hour here or there and some little task was undertaken. Kevin was tasked to re-place a badly cracked window pane on the French door of the Common Room in the Stables as he was undertaking tests for his Handyman badge. That was very convenient and so bit by bit some repairs have been undertaken in readiness for the painting exercise to start in earnest.



This past month...

Congratulations to Chis Felgate for representing Zimbabwe in the Triathlon at 2012 London Olympics. Chris was a Cub in Harare, and his dad Jimmy Flegate, and Grandfather Hudson Felgate were Scout Leaders from the 11th Riverside Scout Troop.


Norman, greetings from New Zealand. Your newsletters are passed on to me by one of your regular readers. I want you to know how much I enjoy them. They help me recall my boy scouting activities in NZ in the early '40's, though we did not have to dodge the rhinos!
Roger Mathieson


"Thought for The Week"

A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.

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Bulawayo, Friday, October 5, 2012

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