Thursday 20th May I had a day off work and travelled with 7 friends from Milton Keynes Trefoil Guild to London. We visited the Girlguiding Association HQ in Buckingham Palace Road, where they have the ICANDO activities, and the centenary of Girlguiding exhibition. Two other Guilds had signed up for the Reflections day – Reading and Surbiton.
We were welcomed with a cup of tea or coffee, a short introduction talk, then were let loose to find our way around the centenary exhibition and the ICANDO activities upstairs. One of the first things some of us did was to write a Guiding memory on a postcard and tie it to a noticeboard. Apparently they plan to enter all the memories into a database. I wrote of my Brownie and Guiding experiences in South Africa (camping was the best fun). The exhibition featured artefacts from the archives including log books, badges, a toy from the Guiding extension unit (disabled guides making handicrafts to sell) and a brick! The most poignant log book was of a Brownie Unit in a Chinese concentration camp during WW2. The brick was from an anonymous young Guide who wanted to contribute to the building of the Girlguiding HQ in London.
We had our packed lunches then a quick look around the Guide shop before going upstairs to the council room where the archivist was waiting for us. She gave us a fascinating talk about the archives, illustrated with artefacts she had brought out for us to see. We were allowed to handle them. There was a Guide uniform of 1910 with the original wide brimmed hat, the little handbooks given to the earliest Guides about how to conduct themselves and all about the Guide movement, and more log books, the most amazing of which was that of the 1st Chorlton cum Hardy Guides in Cumbria who had close links with a certain Mrs Heelis – Beatrix Potter. The log book included an illustrated card she had sent them, as well as an illustration of Peter Rabbit with the Guides. Truly priceless. I took photos of these to show my daughters, but will not publish them online because of Copyright.
We tore ourselves away from the archives to be rewarded with cream tea and each Guild signed the special 2010 visitor album by creating a page to go in it. I drew a very wonky looking ‘cow’ on our page (referencing the Milton Keynes Concrete Cows). We had one more trip to the shop (where inevitably we bought things!), then caught taxis to take us back to Euston station.
Our outing wasn’t quite over though, as when we got back to Milton Keynes we went to Mary’s house for a cup of tea before having a meal out together. For me it was a pleasure to have a relaxing day with friends who love Guiding, a good little interlude in my usual headlong and busy life.