2016 Annual Review

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I’m changing things up a bit for this review. I normally say what went well first, followed by what didn’t but I think this year it needs to be the other way round or risk becoming depressing. I’m going to start by recapping last years goals.

My goals for 2016 were:

  • Be a good mum to both my children.
  • Start cheerleading again and get to do at least one competition
  • Learn to cartwheel and possibly learn to do a round-off as well
  • Have another go at winning a beauty pageant
  • Keep writing my book
  • Get my driving licence and a car
  • Take my Grade 3 flute exam
  • Get my Going Away With licence so I can take my Brownies camping
  • Do a good job of being my Trefoil Guild’s Chairlady for 2016

What did not go well this year?

  • I did not start cheerleading again. I did try to rejoin my old squad when I was allowed to after giving birth and was told they no longer have a senior team. I then tried other local squads but either had no response or was told they had no places available.
  • Because of this, I also didn’t learn to cartwheel or do a round-off.  I am not confident enough to attempt this without the support of a cheer coach and gym mats.
  • I had another go at winning a beauty pageant. Sadly, I put RJ, my baby and me through an unnecessarily difficult day by not fully realizing how hard it would be to do the pageant with a breastfed 4 month-old in tow. I’m not entirely sure it was worth it.
  • I didn’t get my driving licence and a car, due to lack of funds and it not being this year’s priority.
  • I didn’t take my Grade 3 flute exam, as I struggled to find the time and energy to practice until recently.
  • For the same reason, I didn’t get my Going Away With licence (so I could take my Brownies camping.)  I probably won’t bother with this until I don’t have small children around.
  • I ended up not taking the role of Chairlady of my Trefoil Guild, again due to having no time.
  • I organised a charity pageant as a fundraiser. A whole four people took part. I lost money on it.
  • I had to cancel another fundraising endeavour due to lack of interest.
  • Finally, a dear friend of mine unexpectedly died. It was a complete shock and a horrible loss.

So,  what actually went well this year?

  • I had a baby! Cassie was born in January and she is adorable.
  • I used a Couch-to-5k plan to get to running 5k’s and then ran 24 virtual races (you run the distance without being bound to specific times, dates and places, which is easier than real-world races when you have a little baby and no car. Plus, awesome medals.)
  • Having another go at winning a beauty pageant makes this list too. I won the ‘Miss Charity’ award for my age group! Plus,  I combined it with a lovely trip to Blackpool with my friend RJ. We went up the Blackpool Tower and Cassie LOVED it.
  • I finished my Trefoil Guild Silver Voyage Award.
  • I have to date written 38,339 words of my novel (up from 33,139 this time last year)
  • I have (also to date) written 8,988 words of a novella.
  • I have so far run and walked 1,096.27 miles of the 3,521 miles required to complete the Amerithon Challenge; a virtual race across the USA from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Washington Monument.
  • I enjoyed a lovely visit from my friend Thea as she stopped by on her world tour. I gave her her first taste of scampi. She introduced me to the weirdness that is fish fingers in custard.

 Goals for 2017, including but not limited to (and in no particular order):

  • Participate in Vertical Rush (a fundraising race up London’s Tower 42 – you can sponsor me here: VERTICAL RUSH JUST GIVING)
  • Cross ‘Go in a hot air balloon’ off my list.
  • I dread to write this again but *sigh* get my driving licence
  • Start my Gold Voyage Award.
  • Finish the Amerithon challenge.
  • Write for at least one hour a week
  • Take my Grade 3 flute exam
  • Take my Grade 1 piano exam
  • The lovely  Jenna Powers is doing a thing called 40 bibs, where not only is she doing 40 races next year to celebrate her 40th birthday, she is also sponsoring 40 people to get across a finish line of their own -and I’m one of them! Jenna has very generously funded my entry into World War Run so I’m super excited about that.
  • I may very well be crazy but I’ve entered a pageant in November, so we’ll see how that goes

CONCLUSION for 2016

Some of my friends and family are truly supportive people who are willing to go the extra mile to support my crazy. Specifically my husband Elliot, my mother, and my friends Rosie, RJ, Rachie, Sue, Thea and Taryn. Thank you guys for everything you’ve done this year. Big shout out to Kayleigh for being there for all the mummy chats. This year has been difficult, stressful, a confidence-knock and a wake-up call but you guys have been there for me through it all. I know I am so lucky to have you all in my life and I look forward to spending 2017 with you all in one way or another.

I’m feeling good about next year, guys.

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Cassandra is Born – 21st January 2016

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Scan photos of Baby Fowler

Once we were married, Elliot and I started seriously talking about babies. Having married in October, we decided January would be a good time to start trying. By April, nothing had happened, so I stopped thinking it was likely to anytime soon and we went on a belated honeymoon (it took us that long to save up) to North Carolina. A couple of weeks after we returned, we found out I was pregnant with a little honeymoon baby. Baby Fowler was going to be due on the 20th of January 2016.

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First photo of Cassie and me together

 

It was not as easy as my first pregnancy. I had more nausea and was permanently exhausted. I spent weeks with headaches and developed PPG (Pelvic Girdle Pain) that eventually had me on crutches for the later months. One day I answered a knock at the door, only to be served papers from our landlord giving notice -he was terminating our tenancy and we had until January the 15th 2016 to find a new home and move out. Much later, I discovered it was because the landlord had moved his brother into the flat.

Obviously we didn’t wait that long to move, we weren’t risking another labour triggered by moving house. Still, it was stressful finding somewhere new and relocating all our things and it didn’t help my general well-being. Christmas came and went in our new home and I spent my nesting period trying to make the house ready. When I could no longer do that, I crocheted things instead, usually with Deadliest Catch on in the background.

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Proud daddy with ‘Wee Babby Fowler’, as Elliot calls her.

 

 

Late in the evening of the 20th of January, I felt a familiar twinge. I left things to run their course until around 4am and then called the hospital to let them know I was in labour and coming in. I woke Elliot to let him know, called my mum to come and look after Emi, then called a taxi and made sure I had my bag. I felt quite calm, because I knew what to expect and I knew I could handle it because I had done it before.

Once we arrived, they did all the booking in and checks, told me I was 4cm dilated and put me in a delivery room. The midwife asked me if I had a birthplan and if I wanted drugs and I told her no on both counts. I didn’t have either of those things last time and I trusted my body to do what it needed to. I stood through the majority of my contractions (it’s more comfortable for me and I think the gravity speeds things up), until my waters broke and then I maneuvered myself into a kneeling position on the bed. Frankly the pushing was more painful than I remembered but after a couple of pushes, out she came.

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Sleeping the day away in hospital

I heard Elliot say ‘Oh, she’s beautiful!’ and she was. Red and wrinkly and sticky with vernix but beautiful nonetheless. Cassandra Haley Fowler was born at 06:51 on Thursday the 21st of January 2016, weighing 7lb 8oz. We spent a couple of days in the hospital before we were allowed home and Cassie has been adored by pretty much everyone she meets ever since. Emi is less impressed with the attention-stealing baby but she’s slowly coming around.

I had Emi when I was 19 and single. I’ve changed a lot since and my parenting style has changed, partly due to more information and support becoming available. With Cassie, I have been able able to do a lot of the things I wanted to be able to do with Emi. Emi was bottle fed, wore disposable diapers, got pushed in a stroller, and was weaned traditionally. Cassie is breastfed, wears cloth diapers, is carried in a sling and is just starting out with baby-led weaning. The whole parenting experience is totally different and the support we give each other and lifestyle we live as a married couple makes things very different as well. There’s a lot I know now that I wish I had known when Emi was born but it’s the nature of life that we learn and grow -so I just have to remember I did the best I could and continue to love and nurture my two wonderful daughters to the limit of my ability.

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All of us six months on

 

2015 Annual Review

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 What went well this year?

  • I finally (after four years) went to America to visit my husband’s family
  • I got pregnant! Baby Fowler is due January 2016
  • I took Emiko to Disneyland Paris as planned (wasn’t a total success though)
  • I successfully completed my beginner’s archery course
  • I took and passed my Grade 3 music theory exam
  • I did actually work on my Grade 3 flute exam
  • I danced a World Record breaking Charleston (most people doing it simultaneously)
  • I did a five kilometre obstacle race and a five-mile race with RJ before I had to stop racing for the year
  • I finished the Trefoil Guild Bronze Voyage Award (first person in my Guild to do so)
  • I started the Trefoil Guild Silver Voyage Award
  • I have (to date) written 33,139 words of my novel (up from 15,500 this time last year)
  • As planned, I have spent more quality time with my daughter, mostly through working on her Brownie Interest badges with her.

 What did not go well this year?

  • I did not manage to have a go on a trapeze
  • I did not manage to take my Grade three flute exam this year
  • NaNoWriMo could definitely have gone better but stinking cold plus pregnancy headaches made me very un-inclined to stare at a computer screen for long periods of time and then we moved house…maybe next year I’ll win. At any rate, I have not yet finished the first draft of my book.
  • I joined a cheerleading squad to fulfill a lifelong dream and then became pregnant and had to quit –I’m definitely revisiting this one once my former physical fitness returns.
  • In fact, since becoming pregnant I had to give up all my sports/social activities –roller blading, morris dancing, archery, running….I even had to stop leading my Rainbow and Brownie units because I couldn’t cope anymore 😦  

Goals for 2016, including but not limited to (and in no particular order):

  • Be a good mum to both my children –parenting two with such an age gap may well be challenging but I want to do a good job of it
  • Start cheerleading again and get to do at least one competition
  • Ideally at least be able to cartwheel but I’d like to learn to do a round-off as well
  • Have another go at winning a beauty pageant (or more than one, if that’s what it takes)
  • Keep writing my book –it’s bound to get finished eventually
  • Get my driving licence and a car
  • Take my Grade 3 flute exam
  • Get my Going Away With licence so I can take my Brownies camping
  • Since I am going to be my Trefoil Guild’s Chairman for 2016, I want to do a good job of that too

CONCLUSION for 2015

It’s ok that I had to give up so much this year to have a baby because it’s only temporary and she is totally worth it. I managed an awful lot in spite of the pregnancy and I’m quite pleased with it all, looking back at it. I am super excited to meet my little one in 2016! I hope you all have as good of a year as I plan to have. 🙂

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Image from Pixabay

Disneyland Paris with Elliot and Emiko – 27th to the 30th August 2015

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In front of the Disney Castle

In front of the Disney Castle

Going to Disneyland was something I dreamed of as a child, as did every child I know. It never happened and I was left to change the dream to taking my own child to experience this mythical, magical wonder. Finally, when she turned eight, I figured Emiko was old enough to both enjoy it and remember it. I booked a trip for myself, my daughter and my husband for three nights and four days at Disneyland Paris at the end of the summer holidays when it was marginally more affordable. I had lowered my expectations in some regards, as the visit was to take place whilst I was five months pregnant, and expectant mothers are not allowed on most rides and attractions. I still figured I could have some fun though, and would get enjoyment out of my daughter’s pleasure. Here are my diary entries from the trip:

Day One (27th August)

Emi in our hotel room

Emi in our hotel room

Travel goes as well as it can and we arrive only mildly stressed by it. We check into Hotel Cheyenne after queuing at vastly crowded reception and go to our room only to discover the following: the lock you put the key cards into doesn’t work that well and requires multiple attempts before we can gain access to the room; tea, coffee and even kettle are not complimentary as in even the most basic B and B but are costly extras which must be acquired from aforementioned crowded reception and the TV has only four channels in English, two of which are news. We have just spent several days in a Premier Inn in Oxford while visiting Elliot’s mother and grandmother; so far the Premier Inn is nicer. Unpacking, I realise that somewhere between train and shuttle ride, I have lost my mobile phone. We head to reception to report it missing and find out where it might go if it was lost on the shuttle and handed in by someone but no luck.

Emi and Elliot in front of the Disney Park

Emi and Elliot in front of the Disney Park

We venture out to the Disney parks despite the constant rain. The rain doesn’t stop all day and it turns out neither my aging boots nor my ‘waterproof’ jacket can cope. I spend the remainder of the day cold and damp. We do some enjoyable browsing of shops and checking out locations of stuff in parks. To get out of the wet weather, we go to Starbucks and discover the ‘Starbucks Name’ is a thing in France too -here I am not ‘Lizzie’ but ‘Léti’. I wait with Emi while Elliot goes on the Armageddon Experience -I’d have liked to go too but I’m not allowed because I’m pregnant. Elliot later says he can’t see why that is.

We eat dinner at hot sandwich place called Earl of Sandwich -it’s not bad. We stop to watch the Disney Parade which was good, except for an annoying woman with a camera constantly blocking Emi’s view trying to take pictures. This is aggravating as she pretty much pushed her way in front after we’d been waiting for ages, and also clearly the parade is aimed at children; I let quite a few in front of me so they can see better. Frankly my feet and back are killing me by this point. We head back to hotel as it is getting to Emi’s bedtime. I spend the evening watching Bones on my laptop (thank goodness Elliot had the foresight to say we bring it and have it ready stocked with entertainment.) Other occupants of the hotel apparently have no regard for time of night and are excessively noisy in hallways. I have a terrible night of sleep, where I wake up constantly. I cannot get comfortable, as there are not enough pillows and I am persistently thirsty. I drink lots of water and have to get up to use bathroom several times.

Day Two (28th Aug)

Elliot and Emi on the Studio Tour Tram

Elliot and Emi on the Studio Tour Tram

Today is not raining, it is actually quite nice weather. The day starts okay, breakfast is not bad and we take advantage of the buffet style food to make several ham and cheese rolls to take with us for lunch, as well as a quantity of croissants. Everything is so expensive here we figure we may as well. We head out for look around. I buy myself a headband with Minnie mouse ears and bow, I’m quite pleased as it was the only souvenir I had really wanted. We discover that several Disney character’s are out for meet and greet. Unlike in TV adverts, they do not just wander the park at random, oh no. Queuing to meet Minnie Mouse is expected to take two hours and Mickey is no longer with her. Other characters have similarly long lines. We are somewhat disillusioned as it seems like a ridiculous waste of time. We go instead to the Sleeping Beauty castle to see what’s what. My bladder decides today is going to be the day to insist on constantly demanding attention, go pregnancy! Eventually we decide to buy Emiko a princess dress (Ariel’s wedding gown) and tiara as seems like a large part of small girl’s Disney experience.

Emi in her princess dress.

Emi in her princess dress.

We queue for 30 minutes to take 2 minute ride on carousel as it is one of the very few rides I can go on. A group decision is made that the queues for Alice’s Labyrinth do not justify walking through a bunch of chest-high hedges. What is the point of a maze when anyone over four and a half foot can see over the top? We go into different section of the park, I end up sitting on a bench whilst Emi and Elliot ride Pirates of the Caribbean. I’m glad they enjoyed it. We wander through various fake caves and man-made waterfalls for a while until we come to an Indiana Jones ride. Elliot wants to go on it but Emiko doesn’t. I am not allowed to. Elliot doesn’t want to go on rides by himself and is frustrated that Emi only really wants to go on the sort of rides we have in our hometown and none of the bigger rides, which she says are scary. This is the point where the day starts to go wrong.

Emiko gets stroppy because she claims we haven’t bought her a souvenir. I point out that we got her a princess outfit and she says that she didn’t really want it. I say we wouldn’t have spent that much buying it for her if we’d known that because she sure seemed like she wanted it it the shop. Somehow the situation escalates until Elliot and I are cross with her for being so ungrateful and she is saying she wants to go back to the hotel and sulk. The final straw comes when she tries to hit me and says we are ruining her perfect holiday. I point out that it is actually her who is ruining things. No one is happy now so we abandon the ride Elliot wanted to go on and head for Starbucks for coffee because it is the only thing we can think of.

Eventually Emi apologises. Elliot and I explain why her behaviour was unacceptable, then say that if she wants any more souvenirs she will have to spend her pocket money on them and is not to expect any more funding from us. We head to the Studio Park and wait in line to see Spiderman, which cheers everyone up.

Emi being rescued by Spiderman

Emi being rescued by Spiderman

The day continues a little better but Emiko is still reluctant to be adventurous with rides. Nothing she wants to go on is really worth the queues and everything Elliot wants to go on intimidates her. He doesn’t want to do any of it by himself and I am too pregnant to be allowed on any of it anyway. Emiko then pulls herself and Elliot out of the line for Thunder Mountain (one of the few rides she and Elliot both want to go on) because she needs the loo. The line is 70 minutes long so they do not bother to go back in. She doesn’t want to go in the haunted house and the boat ride is closed by the time we get there, so we spend forever waiting for the little train. We circle the park once and get off at Discovery Land. E and E do the Star Wars experience. I wait outside for ages as I cannot do that either. They both enjoyed it and I am happy.

This is what I was hoping for -they would have fun and I would live vicariously through them. They get in line for Space Mountain and I am patiently settling down to wait when they return, Elliot looking unimpressed. Emiko did want to go on it but then it made a loud noise and she changed her mind. Both Elliot and I are feeling like it was a bit of a waste of money to come when Emiko is not making the most of it so we decide to go back to the hotel. We stop to watch Queen Elsa go past as it just happens to be time for that. I am trying very hard not to show how disappointed and disillusioned I am with how this is all turning out. I don’t think anyone is enjoying this trip as much as I had intended. I am hoping tomorrow is better.

Day Three (29th August)

Us with Mickey and Minnie.

Us with Mickey and Minnie.

Day three is much, much better. Prepared for the queuing, we arrive earlier to see Mickey and Minnie Mouse and although the line is still long and the wait even longer, eventually we get to pose for pictures with them. Elliot is extremely amused when Mickey accidentally hits me in the face with his ears, because I’ve been doing it to Elliot all day with mine. We get tea and coffee and go to the Studio Park to watch the car stunt show, which is extremely entertaining and has choreographed chase scenes with shoot-outs, jumps, explosions and a biker who slides through flames and runs around on fire (planned and safely).

Lightening McQueen at the stunt show.

Lightening McQueen at the stunt show.

Following this, we wander around for a while then go on the boat ride we missed yesterday. It is also quite enjoyable. By this point my feet are killing me and I am too hot as it is very sunny, so we get Frozen-themed slushies and sit down. Then we take Emi to the Disney Store to spend her allowance, which has been burning a hole in her pocket ever since we arrived. She leaves with three new toys and we leave with a realisation that somewhere our parenting has gone wrong and we have to work on her materialism. We make her buy her own dinner with what’s left of her allowance to help teach her the value of money.  Thankfully, she is reasonably accepting of this and I think it helps her realise why we wanted her to experience the trip fully and not just think about buying toys the whole time. I also think she actually enjoyed getting her own receipt and food timer -it made her feel a bit grown-up and independent.

Day Four (30th August)

It’s our final day, so we check out of our hotel and go to the Disney Parks for a final look round. We collect our photos of us with Spiderman and Minnie. We end up going to see Stitch Live, which I probably enjoy as much as the kids do. My amusement is more entertaining for Elliot than the actual show, I think. I spend several minutes afterwards busting out my impression of Stitch (which I’ve been told is pretty good). Later we go to see the show CinéMagique. I’m not sure what to expect but it turns out to be a semi-interactive clip show which is very cool, although I wish they hadn’t included the clip from the Exorcist because the show was billed as family friendly. Emi may not have known what it was but she didn’t like it and I don’t find vomit remotely humorous.  We spend a long while killing time in Starbucks, as we have run out of things to do that we can logically fit in before our train leaves. We take a last look in the shops and I buy a fridge magnet for my collection and a pencil and pen for my friend RJ as little gifts-she is starting uni soon so I figure they’ll be useful. Train ride back is pretty uneventful and I am glad to be back home with my own bed.

I enjoyed parts of the holiday more than others. I am naturally inclined to focus on negative aspects of life but I am determined to come away from this trip remembering mostly the good times -I refuse to let a few unlucky moments darken my experience. I have never taken a child on holiday before and I think everyone learned some lessons there. We probably should have anticipated more how overwhelming it would be for Emi and we should have taken advantage of the disability fast pass you can get if your child has autism (but since her autism is mild we frequently don’t use things like that, it feels like they are aimed at people worse off and we like to give her the opportunity to cope for herself. Next time I think we’ll just take it when offered.) It was difficult being pregnant, I don’t thing we’ll go on vacation next time I am. And I won’t expect magical perfection from my next family holiday either -even if it is the fabled land of Disney.

2015: Other Things I Did

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I did do a couple of other things off my list this year that just don’t seem big or interesting enough to warrant their own posts, mostly as they are really sub-goals of larger goals.

So, on the 4th March 2015 I completed ‘Pass my Grade 3 Music Theory Exam’. I studied for several months, I took the exam and I passed it- yay me 🙂

On the 18th July 2015, I took part in the successful attempt to break the Guinness World Record for ‘Largest Charleston Dance’. We had to all dance the same choreographed routine for a minimum of five minutes and fulfill certain costume requirements in order to qualify.

You can actually see me in most of this video of us dancing -I’m wearing a dress that is blue, purple and green and I’m largely surrounded by ladies in black dresses (plus one person in white trousers and a red top. I’m usually near the bottom few rows on the screen, so if you want to spot me, that should help you find me.

The previous record was 319 dancers (Australia), our record was 503 dancers (Bexhill, East Sussex, UK). It is my third group World Record.

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2015/8/bexhill-town-swings-into-the-record-books-by-performing-the-largest-charleston-da-390110

Although, I believe it was subsequently broken in October of 2015 by a group in London, UK, with 975 dancers.

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-charleston-dance

Well, there we are. I said it wasn’t all that interesting 🙂

Learning Archery – 21st February 2015

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I have always fancied taking up archery, so when my friend RJ invited me to come up to our local sports centre and shoot with her, I gladly accepted. It quickly became evident that it would be a good idea to take some sort of lessons, so I signed up for a six week beginner’s course.

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Me and RJ

Here are some of the things I learnt:

  • Even though I am right-handed, I am a left-handed archer, because apparently I aim entirely with my left eye.
  • This makes it awkward in several respects, because it means I have to fasten my arm guard and nock arrows on my bow with my non-dominant hand.
  • I also feel really puny because my left arm is only strong enough to manage a 14lb draw.
  • Although I love the idea of the horse bow, it is much easier to sort out components for a 14lb draw, left-handed recurve when you are having to borrow equipment.
  • Getting hit by the bow string hurts.
  • I have a terrible habit of sticking my elbow up in the air instead of keeping it level which may be throwing off my aim.
  • Every time you think you are getting the hang of it, you change something (smaller target or new sight) and you are back at square one.
  • Archery can be very frustrating but nonetheless really enjoyable.
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My favourite one of me

Well, since I found out I’m pregnant I have not been shooting (I’ve stopped all my sports over the pregnancy as they became harder to manage or just unsuitable) but I will go back to it when I can. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the pretty pictures RJ and I took of each other (I borrowed a horse bow from someone since I don’t own my own bow. I don’t know if you can tell but I actually couldn’t bring it to full draw.)

I may not be able to go back to it any time soon (it’s money and child-care dependent) but I can be very patient (about some things, anyway.) Once I can take it up again, my next plan is buy my own bow and start thinking about competitions.

 

September to November 2014 – No.61: Cure my Stage-fright

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In 2013 I took my Brownies to see the Hastings Gang Show. For those who don’t know, a Gang Show is a variety show put on by an area’s local scout and Ranger groups and they are great fun to watch. Well, I thought they looked liked pretty good fun to be in as well, and I knew other Brownie leaders who were in it, so 2014 rolled around, and I signed up. Turns out you have to be a part of the Scout Active Support unit (they volunteer as occasional support for Scouts in order to take part as an adult, so I signed up for that too.

Now, I have no problem acting and dancing in front of people, or even singing in a group, but I do have  quite bad stage-fright about singing solo in front of people, so I was nervous about that part of auditions. (Auditions are to help casting decisions, not to see if you can or can’t take part.) I needn’t have worried though, I managed to do much better in auditions than I thought and ended up with some quite good parts.

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In my dressing room

We spent weeks rehearsing and also fundraising; you wouldn’t believe how much it costs to put on a show like this in a proper theater. Eventually, performance week arrived. We were doing one show Thursday night, one Friday night and two Saturday -a matinee and an evening show.  I was partly nervous but mostly excited. All the rehearsal time had paid off and I wasn’t scared of my solo bits anymore, I was looking forward to them.

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The Opener

Opening night came and we gathered backstage in our our jeans and black t-shirts, bedecked in bandannas and rock accessories, clutching our neon inflatable guitars. Since we arranged youngest/smallest to oldest/tallest, I was in the back row and one of the last to emerge on stage. The music reached our cue and we danced out singing to a mash up of We Built This City and Here I Go Again.

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Everyone squealing for ‘Simon’s’ attention in The Gang Can’t Sing

Up next was a quick change and then it was ‘The Gang Can’t Sing’, featuring a (pretty dreadful) song based on X factor auditions and an amazing singer who thinks she can’t sing. I feel I should clarify that it wasn’t our performance I think is dreadful, just the actual song. I was mostly filler in this one, a ‘fan’ who spent most of my time shouting for Simon Cowell’s autograph and reacting to other characters.

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‘Morris’ dancing in Dance Around the World

The next thing I was in was ‘Dance around the World’, where each age group (Cubs, Beavers, Scours, Rangers and Adults) represented a different country via an approximation of it’s national dance. Adults were doing England, so we were ‘morris dancing’. As an actual morris dancer, I know exactly how much was wrong about our dance but since most of my well-meaning advice to the choreographers fell on deaf ears I had to let that slide.

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Me singing my solo in We Remember

Then it was the last bit before the interval, ‘We Remember’ a long section commemorating the 1914 war, as it had been 100 years. Many people had not bothered to check the era of their costumes (we provided our own for this part) and were dressed more appropriately for World War Two than One but never mind. Our songs led us through the camaraderie of street parties and the sadness of waving our loved ones off to war (where my solo came in) through the tragedy of the battlefield and the eventual return (or not) of the soldiers. It was pretty moving stuff.

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Me and the other two female leads in Doo-Wop

After the interval, it was time for ‘Doo-Wop’, set in a 50’s diner, I was playing a teenage girl who meets a teenage boy and through flirting and the various interference of his and her friends, ends up with a sweetheart. This was really awkward, because I was the only one of the six main actors who wasn’t actually a teenager. My ‘love interest’ had only just turned 15 -and I was a 26 year-old married woman. I’m pretty sure I was cast in the role because I’m a really confident public speaker and looks-wise I could still just about get away with it but like I said, it was awkward and we made the producers write the kiss out of the script in favour of a more chaste hug.

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Sink or Swim

The next item I was in was Sink or Swim, a synchronised swimming comedy skit where the girls were all serious competitors and the blokes were larking around.  We had to pretend to dive, swim and do tricks behind a barrier of fabric. It was pretty funny but I’m sure the audience in the higher seats could see us crawling around behind the blue fabric ‘waves’. I’m the girl at the front on the right-hand side.

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Way Out West

In the next bit, Way Out West, I was background filler, a random Oklahoman singing songs from the musical Oklahoma. It was alright but I could have done without being in this number because it made it a very tight costume change for the next one, where I had a solo.

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The Sing-Off (a Pitch Perfect inspired number)

Up next was The Sing-Off, inspired by the movie Pitch Perfect, it featured a ‘Girls vs Boys’ premise. I had a solo verse in ‘Money’ and did harmonies in the other numbers. We finished with girls and boys joining together for ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. This was probably my favourite part of the show.

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Last of all the Finale, where again, we were arranged by height and age group, so I was in the back. We sang several songs, including the famous ‘Crest of a Wave’, without which no Gang Show would be complete. Flash pots went off, glitter fell from the ceiling and we took our bows.As the curtain fell, the cast burst into one last song- “We love you Gang Show, we do! We love you Gang Show, we do! We love you Gang Show, we do! Oh, Gang Show, we love you!”