September 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

September already.  When did time start to go so fast?  Long gone are the days for some of us when we could dream, dream again and again, before making absolute plans; there was always time to reconsider, rethink, abandon the immediate and dream yet again.

Who can remember and relive in the mind the long days of summer – when the sun always shone, when it never rained; when the beach at Blackpool or Barmouth or Bridlington or Bournemouth was crowded with fantastically constructed sandcastles and the waves were always just the correct depth/height/strength for paddling? Those were the days indeed.

So, how will our Little Dragons remember the hazy days of summer?  Will their memories in the distant future recall sitting in the back of a hot car (Are we there yet?), queuing in a hot airport (Can I sit by the window?), or simply playing games on the tablet?  Or will they also remember with joy, the beaches, as above, time spent with people who loved them who they loved in return, on days that lasted forever.

Sometimes, as the speed of each day, week, month, year gallops faster and faster, it is hard to recall the distant days when the most difficult thing in life may have appeared to be, “What are we having for tea?” or “How shall I spend my sweet coupons?” (Now that is really a long time ago yet real enough for some of us.)

The recollections of our Little Dragons will be very, very different from ours and will, no doubt, be beyond our wildest imaginings.  Let us hope that their lives will provide them with golden memories of happy times.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

August 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

Holidays are upon us! Time to rest – did I say rest? Time to think – when exactly? Time to enjoy the extra hours in each day when there are no commitments – Hmm – something wrong somewhere – where did those extra hours go?

When I was working as a teacher, the first two weeks of my summer break were always spent in preparing work for the following academic year. Some preferred to leave this preparation until nearer to the new term, but in my case, I preferred to ‘get it over and done with’ so I could then relax for the rest of the holiday, enjoy time spent with family and/or travel to other pastures in order to rejuvenate and refresh.

The end of my last term as a teacher and as a headteacher brought a new perspective to life.  My husband, knowing that I would find the beginning of the next term slightly odd, and perhaps difficult, suggested that we go away – and we did. On the day that school returnees packed their schoolbags, we boarded a flight to Maldives, to be shortly followed by a flight to Trivandrum in India,  where we spent time back-packing and thoroughly enjoying new scenes, new ways of living and, quite surprisingly, finding a school with the same name as the one I had retired from – a little school in Kerala, where the children giggled with delight as they sang for us.

Follow that, one might think!  We did, by, along with others, setting up St. George’s Little Dragons, Under Fives Group.  We never expected to continue for so many years – now ready to commence our 13th year!  This venture has brought unexpected bonuses in the provision of delightful Under Fives plus Carers who we have been lucky enough to supervise and entertain during those years.  So lucky also in the Senior Dragons who have assisted (initially known as Big Dragons but it was decided that this gave perhaps an unwanted, slightly tricky image.)  Three of the original Seniors are still in post and an original Grandad/Carer and Granny/Carer have been in post since their LDs started at Big School!

Life is full of precious moments and Little Dragon memories fill the heart with gladness. Many thanks to all those who have, and continue, to support us through the years.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

Visitors are always welcome to share a few moments with us – Tuesdays – 10:00am to 11:30 am during term time!   

July 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

One of our Little Dragons is really keen to demonstrate her prowess at performing a cartwheel and I have promised that at the first opportunity, when the grass in the churchyard is absolutely dry, we will let her show her skill.  ‘Can you do a cartwheel?’ she asked. Oh, to go back thirty years or so, the answer would have been, ‘Yes!’  Best to give no answer at all at present, just give an enigmatic smile (perhaps being mistaken for the Mona Lisa in human form!).

I wonder how many of you can remember managing your first cartwheel, handstand or, excitingly, your first dive-forward roll!  My Dad, who was a teacher, used to run an after-school vaulting club and I, at the age of about eight, used to go along weekly and enjoy several flights through the air as I hurled myself onto the springboard, up into the air in my interpretation of ‘The Flying Angel’, supported by the dependable and strong arms of my Dad.  Wonderful and never to be forgotten.

In the mind I can still feel the joy of running, leaping, hurdling, diving, swimming, trampolining and indulging in many sporting activities. Unfortunately, in the mind is where they will have to remain.  Suffice to say that there is much pleasure to be had in simply walking from here to there, viewing the wonderful world around and sharing the joy of our Little Dragon when she performs her gymnastic feat.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

P.S.  She did it – rather more of a roll than a wheel, but she did it!     

 

 

 

 

June 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

You may have seen, or heard of, the Dragon basket. This is where George, Uncle Sam and Idris live. It is their home, and thus, their private place.  Whoever is leading Little Dragons on a particular week is allowed to use the basket, is able to invite our three stalwarts to emerge and allowed to store articles appertaining to the week’s story, rhymes or songs.

Otherwise the basket remains private and Members of Little Dragons respect this.  Well, at least, older members respect this but there are occasions when a little person, who hasn’t learned the rules yet, fancies his, or her, chances of investigating the apparently exciting interior.

It is entirely possible, to tell a story, demonstrate a point, conduct singing or verse speaking, whilst holding the basket lid shut with one’s knees.  This is an art form which has to be gradually developed over time and is known to strengthen the muscles, ligaments and the sense of purpose as one takes on all-comers at any one time.

Gradually, those who would infiltrate the basket, absorb the fact that whatever they do and however hard they try, they are not going to gain access to this special place.  They eventually learn to respect that fact (well if not, hard luck!)

As with all aspects of life there are times and occasions when we also have to demonstrate respect for the privacy and the needs of others.  It isn’t always what we wish to do – there are times when we feel that we may like to know everything and have access to all areas.  However, this is not so and we need always to respect the right of others to have their private places, times and areas of life that they may not wish to share with us.  It’s hard I know as, often, we are trying to be helpful and may easily feel rejected when we feel excluded from a part of someone else’s life or unable to access facilities that are not within our remit.

As with the foraging Little Dragon – H L!                  Best wishes, Val Butterworth

May 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

George and Idris writing!  Uncle Sam is off round the church investigating his Twitter Account. He is keen to keep abreast of happenings in his Home Country and feels that by using Twitter he can keep up to date with important Americans who know things.

We have heard something very interesting!  We have heard that ‘she who must be obeyed’ is going to enjoy a flight in a glider on the 19th May.  We have heard that she received this flight as a very special birthday present for a very special birthday that she recently celebrated.  We have also heard that she is a little uncertain about this venture; a bit terrified is the word she might use.

Idris and I, and of course, Uncle Sam, think that it would be a good idea if we put out a sponsor form to celebrate this event.  We know that Val would like to support the British Heart Foundation and  St. George’s Church, so we think we will put a sponsor form in the WER and also get her to open a GoFundMe page on Facebook.

One of the very kind family members who gave Val the gift of the flight underwent successful heart surgery seven years ago and has worked really hard every since in fund-raising activities, so it would be good to make a gesture towards this worthy organisation. The local branch work ceaselessly in their support of those with heart problems.

We know that Val would also really love to donate an amount to St. George’s, a very special place in her life, where she feels blessed to meet some very special people.

Now, Idris and myself are thinking that, on the BIG DAY, we will sneak a lift up to the Longmynd in Val’s pocket.  Sam is a bit too big, but we two should be able to pull it off.  We think that she won’t notice as she will have her mind full of more important things like – ‘Will I be sick?’  ‘Will I actually return?’

So, all it needs now is for us to set up the sponsor form in the WER.  We hope that you will keep an eye out for it and feel generously disposed to enter your name and sponsor promise.  Or, if you are one of Val’s Facebook Friends, you may care to make a contribution there on her GoFundMe page.

Now, we just need to get ourselves slim and fit ready for our exciting day.

Every good wish, George & Idris.  (Uncle Sam shouts, ‘Bye!’)

April 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

Here we are again, happy as can be. All good friends and jolly good company!

How lucky we are if we have friends and companions who fill us with happiness and joy; who make our days feel good and our lives seem really worthwhile.  Every time we meet at Little Dragons, I give thanks for the opportunities provided for happiness, leaving me with a smile on my face and a light heart.  These little people come along with their Carers (Mums, Dads, Aunties, Grannies, Childminders) and bring such a wealth of love and hope into our church.

It may be, that on occasion, one of our little people may be having ‘a bad day’ and it may be quite a challenge to find the trigger that can bring them to their usual enjoyment.  Sometimes George, Uncle Sam or Idris are brought into play earlier than Storytime, in order to calm a little person whose day seems to have gone completely wrong.

Perhaps we could rent out G, US & I to anyone in our Congregation, or beyond, who is need of cheering up, calming down or has the need to feel that they aren’t alone and that the whole world hasn’t turned against them.  It’s amazing what a five-minute cuddle with one of our residents of the Dragon basket can achieve.

Recently, I came across a biggish, red dragon (ostensibly a hot water bottle cover, I believe), not named yet, which provided solace to one of our members recently. (A Little Dragon member, I add – although I did notice a Senior Dragon eyeing the said dragon up with obvious intent.)

This very Welsh, red dragon has, so far, not acquired a name but I am sure it won’t be long before he does.  I utterly refuse to include him in our LD song, though, which at present consists of 4 verses.  There is really, really not time for another verse, otherwise we will not be enjoying the heights of the hill with the grand Old Duke until mid-afternoon.  It’s a complicated life when one is involved with the glorious fantasy of the Little Dragon World.

Enough of this nonsense!  There is dusting to be done and windows to clean. Not likely! – far more fun to be cutting out reversible happy and unhappy faces!

Keep smiling!    Val

March 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

Signs of Spring!  First of all, snowdrops, then bright golden crocus gleaming on the edge of the lawn, magnolia buds ready to burst forth (hope the wind doesn’t blow too hard this year as it did last year resulting in lots of pinkish-whitish petals strewn across the garden).

For our Little Dragons, changing seasons don’t often affect them.  They enter, follow the usual pathway to their current, chosen item of interest – for some the train set, for some the art and craft table, for some (as ever) the red car before anyone else can take possession.  When security is established they may then move on to something new, perhaps requiring more skill.

As day time follows night time many of us follow the same, or similar patterns, throughout our days.  They are the things that keep us feeling secure, that life is under our control.

An instance in my own life is my kitchen routine first thing in the morning:-

  • Enter kitchen, put water in kettle, switch on, take spoon from drawer;
  • cross to microwave and fridge; put 1 ramekin of porridge oats in bowl, open fridge, take out milk and put 2 ramekins of milk into bowl with porridge – place the bowl into the microwave for 2 minutes; milk back in fridge and take out blueberries, selecting required number for porridge;
  • during the 2 minutes, make tea which usually synchronises with the ping of the microwave.

Boring, possibly – but it enables me to make my breakfast without having to use any mental energy, thus saving it all for more interesting activities.

So it is with many of our LDs as they follow a former pattern prior to moving on to something more exciting or more stretching.  We all need the mundane in our lives while we gather up our creative energy for tackling the unknown or the untried.

My own unknown, untried, certainly not mundane, future activity will be a flight in a glider!  My lovely family decided that this would make a really exciting present on the occasion of a recent birthday.  Very exciting! Will I, like our Little Dragons, pluck up the courage to try the new experience, to leap into the unknown?  Watch this space.

Every good wish, Val

February 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

Running repairs were being carried out to the Little Dragons’ dolls house recently. This item is a really popular aspect of each meeting as many of our little people enjoy experimenting with the various placements of furniture and people therein. There is plenty of furniture to move around at will – settees, chairs, tv and tv tables; kitchen furniture including a kitchenette, cooker and fridge; utilities including washing machine and interesting bathroom equipment and facilities to be placed at will. There are various inhabitants of the house encompassing several ages and races, and thus we have a multi-cultural three-storey, detached house, which is certainly an interesting property to view and develop.

Many of our Little Dragons go through a phase of organising the furniture and the inhabitants for a little while and it occurred to me that perhaps we also could perhaps benefit in life if we had a doll’s house as a part of our lives to organise and reorganise at will.

The lucky owner of such a house is able to move furniture at will, choose to live upstairs or downstairs as the mood takes one; in other words, have total control over things, people and places – even if not in reality.

How frustrating life can be when things don’t seem to be working out the way we want them to. Our furniture doesn’t seem to fit the room any longer; everything is the wrong colour or shade; other inhabitants won’t sit where they should, tidy up when they ought, wash up as required – and on, and on, and on!

Would life be easier, perhaps, if we could order everything simply to suit our wish of the moment? Perhaps not! Then we would maybe have little to strive for, no one else to please and we would, no doubt, become totally selfish, only thinking of our own desires rather than trying to please, or at least, fit in with others.

It may be a good idea to purchase a simple doll’s house; change it, decorate it, enjoy it at our will in order that the rest of our energy can be put towards helping to meet the wishes and support of others in our real lives. Receiving satisfaction from manipulating our little dolly world could then leave our energy and talents free to serve the needs of others with a will. Worth a thought!

Every good wish, Val

January 2018

January 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

George writing as Val recovers from the excesses of Christmas.

Happy New Year to everyone from George, Uncle Sam and Idris. We are allowing Idris to share our greetings as he has been much better behaved and much more reliable of late. He still breaks out of the basket now and again and goes off adventuring around the church, but sometimes asks us to join him, so we think he is perhaps developing a sense of sharing and enjoying things together. It is possible that he has observed some of our Little Dragons learning to share toys and play together. It is certainly much easier when he is co-operative and willing to share. Also, as he has some great ideas for getting up to mischief, he can be quite good fun to accompany as he leaps out of the basket and hurls himself into fun activities.

During the Christmas Break he took us to look at the church windows; those that have beautiful coloured glass in and the plain ones that have the names of people written on them. We are really pleased that we could read the names on the plain ones and we knew some of them. It made us feel that we belong to a great big family.

A little while ago some of our Senior Dragons came to some meetings called, ‘Fruitfulness on the Front Line’ which they said they had really enjoyed. Other people who come to the church on the special day called Sunday joined in as well and we have learned some of their names. We think they belong to St. George’s Family as well and it makes us really happy to know that we all belong together and care about each other.

Time to finish now as Idris has a plan under his wing for a great adventure – to do with something he calls ‘swimming’ and ‘diving in the font’ – whatever that may be. Here goes!

Every good wish, George

December 2017

From the Dragons’ Den

I happened to be speaking with two ex-Little Dragons recently. Both are now aged 14 and are young adults, full of ideas about life and where they want their lives to go; thinking about options for future study and possibilities of what they may aim to achieve in the future.

It is good to know that, whilst immersed in the excitement of teenage, they are still able to recall their days as Little Dragons when they loved to dress up as pirates, cowboys or fairies and, on occasion, were invited to help with story time. One recalled helping with ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat!’, holding the moon and the stars above at the correct moment; also recalling the excitement of a special visitor, dressed in red, at the Christmas Party; the joys of hand printing and, on one mad occasion, foot printing when (I remember very well) one little soul could not bear to put his feet into the shallow bath of paint and, probably to this day has not recovered from the experience.

             

It is interesting to observe developing concentration on the faces of current participants and the increase in that concentration as time goes on. From experience in an earlier life, it is sometimes very apparent which Little Dragons will continue to develop concentration skills and which Little Dragons may have some difficulties in that department – and so it always was! Very little changes in the learning process!

Now, as we prepare once again for the special visitor, dressed in red, and try to remember whether we made those changes to our address lists or where we put the left-over cards from last year, let us remember to keep at the forefront of our minds why we are doing this; remember what it is that we are preparing to celebrate – the birth of that tiny child, the Light of the World.

….. and may our light continue to shine brightly before others!

 

 

Every good wish, Val Butterworth