(Picture credits: UK Forestry Commission)
As mentioned on last Monday's blog, I was away for six days on what is called a 'littles' camp although I'm more a middle and it had more of a mainly female flavour although little and middles boys aren't stopped from attending.
Put simply they are get togethers of littles and middles plus caregivers/partners where we enjoy doing more child-like age regressed things together.
For me attending requires travelling to one of our groups members setting out on the Friday while one bus was one time, the connecting service to our rail station went AWL so I got drenched in the rain for a half hour and then needed to use my cellphone on the bus to let the person I know I'd be on the next train down which as ever is a London Midland service.
The train only takes just over a half hour with two stops before I met with them as finished off some shopping while it rained making our way to the parking lot and driving down to their spacious house.
Wearing my red sweater and green pleated skirt I did some colouring until it was time to eat for which we had had pork chops, boiled cabbage and mashed potatoes with a glass of ginger beer watching some television before getting to bed ready for Saturdays drive down.
On the Saturday we set off around ten having had cereals and tea with myself in my black pinafore dress with its "Junior Prefect" badge affixed, red and white striped tie and grey socks sat in the front passenger seat as we navigated around Dudley and Oldbury stopping at zebra crossings for people crossing the road. This was necessary due to extensive work on the road network around Birmingham that weekend before heading toward St Neots and Cambridge making quick route alterations to avoid delays so we arrived at the large property in East Anglia for two in the afternoon ready for the fun and games meeting the two people who did the booking.
Open opening the door, a series of big paw prints seemed to around the door as the theme of the event was the Gruffalo stories by Julia Donaldson and apart from unpacking our stuff with help, I helped with setting up the chalkboard where the program would be put.
I fixed myself a cup of tea, ate a oatmeal bar and got on with a bit of colouring between meeting and greeting the other people as they arrived and taking some pictures.
Most of the group upon arrival ordered and collected various foods from a well regarded Indian takeaway to eat for an evening meal but the person who took and who looks after me had decided to make something ourselves.
Yes that was a plural cos it Twenty-seventeen and actually I'm expected to do things I am capable of so I peeled the potatoes and fetched the pans, filling them.
There was a mysterious gift that I believe was from a relative newcomer that was a small gruffalo backpack outside so thanks for that.
Soon enough Saturday moved around to Sunday where I did help a lot setting up for breakfast before the morning's activities began which was Arts and Craft where I made a gruffalo themed place mat in the form of a Fox back by card for extra rigidility with my name on it and did some gruffalo themed colouring although felt crafts were an option.
Miss Green presented a most agreeable selection of salad based Black Country fayre to which having lived here in the North-west Midlands for a good while I was most familiar with complete with beef dripping cooked British Chips for our midday meal.
The afternoon was a traditional British school style sports day for which I was in my yellow vest top, green PE skirt and white socks.
I took part in the bean-bag relay, rockets for softies and the sack race which was very much the final event for me as fell hard to the ground impacting the lower third of back needing help to get up and being shaken up with it apart from suffering bad back pain with bruising.
There was archery and few other events but I was pretty much out of it by that point with people especially Caroline keeping an eye on me and also it meant I needed to rest so she and Kelly set the table for the evening meal which was my 'chore' so this is a good a point as any to thank them specifically and everyone else for their concern for my welfare.
Curly made a scrumptious beef stew with dumplings (potatoes were an option too but I passed on that feeling off) and a meringue with a fruit topping which was very enjoyable.
Jillian laid on in the evening a general knowledge quiz which was entertaining and enjoyable too that Karla and Caroline won.
Miss Green concluded the evening by reading in the easy for some of us to follow black country accent the first Gruffalo story.
Upon Monday morning after breakfast we had some more arts and crafts so I opted to draw a picture of a friendly monster rabbit, make a Jack o' lantern and colour a picture although others did more crafts stuff and we all submitted our monster based pictures into a competition with Alice winning first prizing and second and third respectively going to Daisy and Sammy.
Karla and Caroline had put together a amazing gruffalo themed lunch with table settings to match with sandwich rolls, sausage rolls , pork pies, chicken legs and much salad. To top it they even made gruffalo themed cupcakes. Mouthwatering!
As it was going to soon Sally, Kelly and Suzy's birthdays signed cards were presented and birthday cakes bought to share.
After a period to let all that wonderful food go down, in the afternoon the Gruffalo Games started with a gruffalo version of the British childhood game British Bulldog, a gruffalo item hunt, placing the wart on the gruffalo competition and a couple of rounds of pass the parcel which I did win a prize in and from a lucky draw of prizes I got the Gruffalo dvd.
A number of us got balloons that made a loud squeal when having been blown up the air was released which resulted in a few of us definitely acting like kids.
Our evening meal was a Gruffalo BBQ where hamburgers, hots dogs, marinated spicy chicken cheeses and the like were on offer and the meats cooked on an actual bbq before being kept in an oven while everything was finished and as the weather was very good , we had this outdoors.
Tuesday morning was a more chilled time where a number of us went outside and played croquet, took photographs as it was quite sunny plus seeing Andi had a stash of Bubble Wands went around running with trails of bubbles following us with Sammy and I chasing around each other with them in a most child-like way.
Later on Curly put on a dress up session were we could put on different costumes, and maybe some face paint and just pretend to be some character or other which I'm sure many of us recall doing during our actual childhoods.
Lunch was ably provided by Becky who did spicy chicken fajitas with a salad but Miss Green and myself made Oxtail soup as that was more us before resting a short while.
The highlight of the afternoon was the gruffalo themed Treasure Hunt that was held mainly outdoors by Alice although we did had come come in due to a brief shower, something much forecast for entire time but lucky didn't really materialize. This involved looking for clues that led to others. Afterward we had Owl Icecream served in cornets that was very yummy.
Our evening meal was fish and chips with the odd personal exception like a large chicken Jillian consumed, which we had phone in our orders for earlier on and to which a driver and assistance set out by car to collect and cakes and to which I'd set the table.
In the evening as our brief shower had left we sat outside by the picnic tables where I run the music quiz with twenty-two questions with four teams to work through the printed questions covering music from the nineteen-seventies to today.
The Not a Clues won with thirteen points winning the prizes of a Jacqueline Wilson colouring book (a fine colouring book i.m.h.o) and matching top quality colouring pencils.
After a short break, Daisy, an accomplished guitarist, performed a set songs drawn from the Lindisfarne and Dire Straits songbooks and a magical version of the Pink Floyd song Wish You Were Here which was very well received.
Wednesday soon came around so after individually we'd done our own packing, which if your like me you tend to a do a bit per day we got breakfast and systematically went around tidying up everywhere, sweeping up with the help of "Henry" the sweeper checking nothing was left behind before packing our cars ready to leave.
I helped Miss Green with our packing as we had things like the sports equipment to transport before we left just after half past ten and arrived within three hours back in South Staffordshire.
Between unpacking which at one point did leave me thinking where did I put my trusty circa 2009 Canon camera we had some left over cakes from Camp and tea.
For tea Miss Green went to a nearby village and bought fish and chips with cakes from the local Co-op store which we had before watching C.I.S and a program about the making of sweets over the centuries on the television before bedtime.
I was up at seven to do the final bit of packing by which time it had started to shower so after a cereal breakfast and tea Miss Green left to go into town and drop me off by the rail station where upon I caught the 09:54 service to our big rail station where seeing it was still showing I got into a six seater black taxi to make my way to my house for just past eleven o' clock.
I would to thank every one who both attended and contributed something to making our time away fun starting with Karla and Caroline who as organizers came up with the Gruffalo theme carrying it through with their own contributions when it came to catering, events such as the arts and crafts and Grufallo games. Your contribution was amazing.
I'd like to thank Curly, Miss Green, Becky, Daisy and Suzy with assorted helpers for your contribution with providing a midday and evening meal and Jillian with Sally-Jane for ordering and fetching the fish and chips without which they would be many empty tummies.
We don't presently have external caterers and I would support looking more into it so people don't need to pull away from little activities they enjoy to 'big up' for food.
I'll also thank the many activity makers who laid on events such as Mr. Paul with Karla for the disco and the folks who put on games, quizzes, art sessions or performed cos having a busy varied program really helps us bring out or little (or middle) side and engage with it.
My personal thanks to Miss Green for her hospitality at GHS and looking out for me throughout the whole time cos I do have real life needs in that respect.
If doing something like this appeals it need not be on a really big scale, you could have a day or two as a 'sleepover' as a group of two or three in a flat or house putting together a few activities to share although you may feel the need to check if you have a good sense of seclusion if you wish to play very much little (such as with pacifiers etc) out of doors.