Scouting at Halloween

As you might remember a while ago I wrote about the difficulty in letting scouts be independent. This weekend the Falcons of Falkenberg finally hosted the Halloween party they had planned for weeks. The setting was pretty horror film: A group of happy youngsters arriving at a small cottage in the middle of nowhere for a party, decorating the place with jack-o-lanterns, skulls and ghosts; dressing up as zombies, squirting fake blood every where; A car that seemed to have given up the ghost on parking; A little jet black cat showing up from nowhere, miauing desperately, trying to crash the party...

I left the scouts to their own devices, worrying about the state of the car: If I were to be the responsible adult with a car, ICE, I thought it might be an idea to have a functioning one. There seemed to be a hose leaking in the cooling system, and Marie was going to arrive at six anyway, to keep me company over night.

The little black cat showed up out of nowhere when I was sitting outside on the stoop, having lunch. I had bought some ready made Swedish dolmas in gravy that I had heated in the microwave oven. The cat almost threw herself into the gravy, crying with hunger! It's so sad, how some people get a kitten for the summer holiday, and then, when the season is over, they leave their summer house, and the cat, and go home.

The cat was skin and bones. It wasn't bothered about the dog, but the dog was very vary about the cat, not wanting to leave it when I left the house to set up camp. All afternoon the dog ran back and forth between the house and the camp site. I think he was worried about the cat. I made a few phonecalls, but noone was interested in taking it, and there isn't a rescue center anywhere near, so I'm afraid we finally had to make the decision to just leave it.

Anyway, the guests arrived at 6, and was met down by the road by a couple of zombies with lanterns who guided their way to the cottage. Marie and I withdrew to the hilltop, and had a very pleasant evening, grilling gourmet sausages and dunking Italian chocolate rusks in mascarpone. We had a good natter in front the fire, and crawled into our sleeping bags at about 10, gazing at the starry skies in the moonlight. The dog curled up by our feet, and our breath rose like smoke in the cold evening.

I'm not a very well equipped scout leader. Whilst Marie has all the gear to get up Mount Everest, I have been stingy, making do with budget stuff. But I've rarely suffered. You just have to be a little bit inventive. My first sleeping bag from the 1980's, and a budget bag, designed to manage freezing point, some wolly socks and a sleeping bag liner did me just fine in -4. I had also a good mat, and a warm dog. I woke up at 8, not realizing I was sleeping outdoors!

We had a lovely breakfast, cooked on the Trangia: Scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms and a tomato relish. We pottered about for a couple of hours, before we went down to the house to see if the scout had woken up and started clearing up yet. They had and they were. They had had a wonderful time, even though they didn't get the film projector to work. They had finished all the food (except the veg, and a bag of potato crisps). Marie and I made sure that they locked up everything and then we all went back to civilization: The mothers relaxed and invigourated, and the kids very happy and pleased that their project had come together as they had hoped.

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