Nov 2019

From the Dragons’ Den

November already, with smell of woodsmoke in the air. Where did Autumn go, where did Summer go?  The months rush by so quickly and here we are again half-way through the Autumn term and thinking ahead to Christmas.  The older members of our Little Dragons seem to have grown enormously and have already registered for primary school next year.  All the babes-in-arms have suddenly turned into crawlers and toddlers  —   and all the Senior Dragons are wondering how long their knees will hold up.

A noisy morning today: a sudden rush of little boys who all seemed to want the same fire engine! How hard it is to learn to share and take one’s turn!  It isn’t an easy task, but eventually realisation comes and ‘turn and turn about’ becomes the order of the day – hopefully!  Although one does meet adults at times who have never learned the very valuable art of sharing with others. We won’t examine this further – best to draw a veil over it rather that dig deeper.

A reminder of Harvest Celebrations in our craft today involving making scarecrows from tubes of paper plus head, arms and legs.  We had our very own scarecrow to oversee the activity and she/he/it looked to be very happy watching our little people busy about their tasks with varying levels of concentration.  

After such a busy morning I know several Senior Dragons who will be nodding off in the chair during the afternoon.  Sweet dreams!

P.S.     Best wishes, George,

   Uncle Sam 

and Idris.

October 2019

  From the Dragons’ Den

One of our Little Dragons, who has recently decided that to sit down at story time is a good idea, amused us greatly recently by initiating lots of conversations with Senior Dragons. He has been more inclined to join us for a short while before going for a walk round, stopping to have a look at the cars in the garage or the animals in the ark, before coming once again to sit and listen – for a brief period at least.

Suddenly, he finds that what we have to say is of great interest and listens avidly to the story and joins lustily in the singing before settling down with gusto to enjoy his fruit and drink.

At other times during our sessions he discusses with and questions we biggies about all kinds of things – those are bricks (part of the wall) and that is cement!  What is up there? – espying the ‘lantern window’ in the roof of the West End Room. It really helps us to appreciate the privileged position we are in working and playing alongside the people who attend our sessions.  Through activities and language, we are hopefully stimulating their interest and development as we share our own discoveries with them.

A lovely fishy picture developed this morning as our little people put sparkly fish, eels, whales, star fish and other exotic sea creatures onto a ‘sea’ background.  Lots of conversation ensued re the various fishy items and all concerned were quite thrilled with the final outcome. Mind you, the sea looked a bit rough in places, perhaps being affected by a recent storm.

Happy days!                              

Every good wish, Val Butterworth

September 2019

  From the Dragons’ Den

September already and I realise that we have lived here in Pontesbury, in the same house, for almost fifty years.  We moved here on 31st August 1970 and we truly feel that it is one of the best things we have ever done.  We still have many connections with our Lancashire (Greater Manchester now) roots, but our life here has been so blessed and we love it still.

Life’s experiences make you the person you are and I like to think that what we absorb in early years affects our way of life, our choices, our successes and our failures although we can’t always trace or remember the path we have followed.

Sometimes, though, there is a flash of memory that leaps into the mind and one realises where and when a particular aspect of one’s character came from and how it was fed and nurtured. Memories: – some happy, some perhaps less so, but nonetheless, happenings that shaped the people we have become.

So, it is with our Little Dragons.  I always hope that their experience as they play, listen, share and grow at our group will leave them with happy flashes of memory when they are adults, even when they are perhaps pensioners.  (Who invented that word? – quite depressing!)

I hope that the beginnings of learning to share, helping to tidy things away, sitting quietly to listen and, very importantly, to enjoy singing lustily, will help to shape the lives and the happy memories for these little people who come along to each session. 

They will, no doubt, forget all about us, the leaders, but may remember some of the things we did and may be shaped somewhat by the good things that we shared.

May their memories be happy ones.

Every good wish, Val Butterworth

P.S.     Best wishes, George,     Uncle Sam  and Idris.

August 2019

  From the Dragons’ Den

Little Dragons Summer Holiday: “We’re all going on a Summer Holiday, no more working for a week or two. Fun and laughter on our summer holiday. No more worries for me or you, for a week or two|” or so the song goes.

All the Little Dragon toys are packed away for a few weeks and the Big Dragons are taking a well-earned rest – for a week or two.

In 6 weeks, we will all meet up again, minus those who have commenced full time education. All the returnees will have grown tremendously and everything will seem clean and new as, refreshed, we will continue as if we have never been away.

Life is funny, isn’t it.  Changes occur: we may move house, change jobs, retire from full-time employment (oh, the joy!)  and we feel that we will never get used to the new situation. 

However, as with our Little Dragons, we absorb the changes, put aside what happened a few weeks or months ago, and within a fairly short time, feel that life has always been just like this, our everyday life, our everyday tasks. 

Some would say that life can get boring, always doing the same things, soon getting used to changes that occur.  Well, come and try a couple of weeks with us at LDs.  Never boring, always joy to be had, smiles to be shared, lots of singing and laughter.  We love it!

Every good wish, Val Butterworth

P.S.     Best wishes, George,     Uncle Sam  and Idris.

July 2019

  From the Dragons’ Den

George & Idris Reporting: Oh, we had a great time a few days ago.  Once again, we managed a trip in Val’s bag.  We didn’t know where she was going or what she was going to do, but we heard her laughing with Senior Dragon, Marion, and we could tell they were going to have some fun, so we decided to tag along.  Uncle Sam was having a little sleep so we didn’t bother to waken him, although we knew he would be rather cross when he found out.

We aren’t sure where we went with Val and Marion but we travelled in a thing called a car.  We called somewhere and another person, called Jo, climbed in.  She didn’t notice us as we sat well down inside the bag.

When we arrived where we were going, Val and Marion put some big black things called wellingtons on and followed the Jo lady into a dark building.  Then they walked out at the other end and, there we were somewhere very green.  We know what green is because we used to have another dragon, called Scooby, who was green.  He was very noisy and used to sing a song, called, ‘Wild Thing!’ so he wasn’t allowed to stay at Little Dragons because he used to sing very loudly during Storytime.

Well, this green place had two things called ‘horses’ in it.  They were busy eating the green grass but when they saw Jo and our Dragon ladies, they came over to us. They were called Star and Emmie and they were very, very big.   Marion and Val did a lot of giggling as they put some straps on Star and Emmy’s heads and showed them the way to walk, back into the big, dark building.

They put Star and Emmy into two little rooms that had lots of strawy stuff on the floor and then the Jo lady got something called a syringe and first she put it into Emmy’s mouth. Val and Marion had to keep hold of Emmy because she didn’t like the syringe. She tossed her head high up into the air just like Uncle Sam does when he is cross, and our two Big Dragons had to really hold on or else they would have flown up into the air.  There was a lot of noise because they were laughing so much.  Next, Jo put the syringe into Star’s mouth.  Marion and Val held on to her straps tightly although she was much calmer than Emmy and didn’t make a fuss.

I’ll tell you what, we almost fell out of Val’s bag because we were laughing so much.  We imagined our Senior Dragons flying through the air.  We had a great time.  Perhaps, if we are very, very good, we will be able to go again because we have heard that they are going again to work with Star and Emmy.  Great fun! 

P.S.        Best wishes, George,      and Idris.

June 2019

  From the Dragons’ Den

It was almost sunny the other day.  After two weeks of glorious weather, it suddenly turned cold and we all shivered in our shoes and hastily got out the jumpers and anoraks which we had hopefully stored away.  I am not a cold-weather person, feeling the cold enormously.  I remember with fondness the Jack Frost pictures on the windows when, as a child, I got out of bed in the morning.  I also remember my cold feet and hands with rather less than fondness!  I was not keen on the blue hue that shone forth.  Perhaps that is why blue is not my favourite colour – too many unwelcome memories associated with it. 

However, now it is June – June is busting out all over – or so the song from ‘Oklahoma’ reminds us.  This year there has been am explosion of blossom on the trees, a timely reminder of better days to come; a profusion of tiny flowers that sparkle into view whatever the day’s weather brings.

Sometimes, quite whimsically, we refer to young children as blossoms and we can see the reason for this when we view our little people as they wind and weave their way around during Little Dragon sessions.  They go this way and that, bending and reaching, as blossoms on the tree. Occasionally, as with the beauty on the trees, a change means that the blossom, be it flower or child, falls and is dashed to the ground.  Probably this is the end of the journey for the tree blossom but for our blossoming Little Dragon it is more often a way of learning how to manage limbs and objects that can seem unruly or obtrusive. 

Of course, as age advances, and we view with dismay the passing years, we once again become aware of limbs and objects that don’t obey the rules; that don’t bend with the wind and return to an acceptable position. Despite this we can still view the beauty in our natural world and give thanks for all the good gift around us.

                                                                  With every good wish, Val Butterworth.

P.S.        Best wishes, George, Uncle Sam  and Idris.

May 2019

From the Dragons’ Den

May is upon us already.  It doesn’t seem five minutes since we were wrapping Christmas presents up for all the Little Dragons, yet, here we are marching through Spring and towards Summer.  The weather has been changeable so that, at times, it is hard to decide which season we are actually experiencing.

However, all remains unchanging at Little Dragons.  Our tiny folk enter each week and make a dash for their favourite item of entertainment.  The play dough is always well-used and, for some unknown reason, is found to be quite tasty by some of our young members.  Mind you, after a few sample tasting sessions, none of these children will need anti-biotics for anything as they will surely have a built-in resistance to all known germs. 

The red car remains a great favourite, closely followed by a particular tricycle.  Many valuable lessons in sharing are learned as our Little Dragons take their turn on these items of transport.

The kitchen area is always popular and it is good to see the development of several promising chefs as various meals are concocted and ‘cooked’ on our cooker.  I don’t know where the cooker came from.  It was donated by a kind soul when we first started Little Dragons in 2006, and it is still in good order, although not particularly modern and looking a little faded.

Favourite songs currently are, ‘Bobbing Up and Down on a Big Blue Tractor’ and See the Slippery Crocodile’ – with many thanks to Cheryl (one of our Carers) who introduced us to both songs. But still, top of the pops is ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ – maybe because the children know that fruit and a drink closely follow.  

Possibly we all need a sense of the constant and the familiar in our lives; the certainty that some things are unchanging; the security of knowing that people, places and ‘things’ are always there and always the same. Just as we may know that some people will always be there for us, always be there to support us, always there to love us, even on a bad day.

We need also to remember also that there are those who depend on us to always be that same person, to love and care for them whatever the circumstance and however unlovely we, or they. may appear to be at times. 

Thought for the day!          “Love one another as I have loved you!” 

                                                                  With every good wish, Val Butterworth

P.S.        Best wishes, George,     Uncle Sam  and Idris.

April 2019

From the Dragons Den

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We Dragon Boys have a BIG complaint to make.  We have been excluded!  We have been excluded from something called a Beetle Drive. 

Now, everyone should know that dragons love to eat beetles.  We consider them to be a great delicacy either as an appetiser or to complete our repast along with dragon cheese.  We are very disappointed and, indeed, very sad when we consider that, although we feel that we are full members of this establishment, we have been ignored, left out, uninvited to one of the social events of the year!  Anyway, no more will be said on the matter. We are not ones to bear grudges! (You bet?

We have had an interesting few days. We understand that the Reverend Max has disappeared for a few days, so Reverend Christopher has stood up to the plate, much assisted (hampered? hindered? advised?) by all these people known as Lay People. Now, that’s an interesting term!  Do they lie down. Do they lay things on top of one another, such as cushions or cloths?  We are intrigued.  Whatever, they all seem to be doing their best to help until Reverend Max returns.

So, until things return to normal – now that’s another very interesting word – we will simply keep an eye on things as usual.  However, good folk, do not forget that dragons, even if they do get pushed into a cupboard every Tuesday morning, do like to take part in everything, and really, really do like to know all that is going on.  Will someone please inform the Senior Dragons that it would be a kindness to allow us to share in everything.  One never knows how helpful it can be to have someone present who notices all that goes on in this place each day. 

Perhaps someone will note our BIG HINT and LET US OUT to join in the fun!

P.S.        Best wishes, George,     Uncle Sam  and Idris.

March 2019

  From the Dragons’ Den

One of the best things about Little Dragons, in fact perhaps the very best thing, is when a very young child who has been coming to Dragons practically since birth, suddenly realises that they know you, they recognise your face – and they give a huge smile when they see you.  There is nothing quite like the beam of recognition that lights up the space between you and gladdens the heart immensely.

In particular, for me, there is the special thread that attaches me to some of these little children.  It is sometimes the case that 20+ years ago, I may have taught their parent, be it mother or father, and it is lovely to see a likeness from the time when the, now, parent was a big part of my life and likewise, I was a big part of his or hers.

You may remember a song from earlier days, ‘When You’re Smiling, the Whole World Smiles with you’– written, apparently in 1928, famously sung by Louis Armstrong:

When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling,
The whole world smiles with you.
Yes when you’re laughing, when you’re laughing,
The sun comes shining through.

But when you’re crying, you bring on the rain.
So stop your sighing, be happy again.
Keep on smiling, keep on smiling, 
And the whole world smiles with you.

There is a huge truth in this song.  I once did an experiment whilst walking up Pride Hill in Shrewsbury and I repeat this experiment practically every Friday morning as I make that journey.  I hold my head up, as opposed to looking at the ground, and I smile.  It is amazing how many people smile back (maybe they are thinking, ‘Who is this crazy woman?’).  One Friday, a lady stopped me and asked, ‘Do I know you?’ ‘No’ I replied.  ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘I thought you must know me because you smile at me every week as we pass each other!’

And it is a fact.  Smiles breed smiles! Truly, the world seems to be a nicer place when faces carry smiling eyes and lips – and it is an excellent way to make new friends.

So, like the little charmers at Little Dragons, who share their smiles so readily, why not try it yourself; definitely making the days seem brighter (and it makes the face look younger!!!!!!!!).

Every good wish, and big smiles from George, Uncle Sam and Idris!

                           Val Butterworth

P.S.        Best wishes, George, Uncle Sam and Idris.

February 2019

  From the Dragons’ Den

Uncle Sam writing:  Hmm, I thought it was time that I tried to get a word in this continuing journal!  When Val isn’t looking, George and Idris have both sneaked in a few thoughts and they think that because I come from another part of the world, I perhaps don’t speak the same language.  In case you aren’t aware, I come from the USA, Georgia to be precise, but I have been a member of Little Dragons for many, many years.  I flew across the ocean in a great big jet (or so it says in our Little Dragon song), but as I was bundled in a suitcase at the time, I cannot be certain of the actual facts of my journey.

I feel very lucky to have made this place my home.  People are so friendly and they usually try to make life good for one another.  At the moment, I hear, everyone is having to work extra hard as they are covering tasks that are new to them following several unexpected changes.

From the dragon cupboard we have noticed that the people who come and go all the time are really being helpful to one another.  They think we can’t see anything from inside the basket which is kept in the cupboard, but we have ways of noticing everything that is going on and we see that people are supporting one another and they are doing jobs that they haven’t done before, trying to make life good for each other and trying to stop each other from feeling sad.

When I was out and about in the church the other day, I happened to overhear Reverend Max talking to all the people.  He was telling them a story that I know, all about a caterpillar that, by some miracle or other, turned into a wonderful, beautiful butterfly. He said that this is like this place, St. George’s, which is going through a time of change and that all those of us who belong here may have to experience some changes as well in order to keep it wonderful and beautiful.  I am not sure what he meant, but I think that the big people who come here will.

George, Idris and I don’t like changes, but sometimes we know that Val will change things and we know that it is to help to keep all the Little Dragons safe and to allow we three to do our best for them and for each other.  So, we are thinking that if Reverend Max or someone like him thinks they may have to make some changes, then it will be for the good of everyone here. 

                                                          Yours in secret, Uncle Sam

P.S.        Best wishes, George,      and Idris.