Koala Friendly Mulled Wine…

Especially for my favourite Guides Unit Leader (who has sent me a text asking if I would  pllleeeeassseee share this recipe).IMG_1770

So there’s no reason why the Girlguiding community would know this, but I have a fair few bizarre allergies/intolerances. Most of the time these are a pain in the butt, and is probably why I do not enjoy cooking. However I have in a fit of stubbornness on occasions become determined to create alternatives – most of these are not great compared to the ‘real’ thing, but occassionally they turn out surprisingly well. So though no one wants to eat my non spicy vegetarian chilli, my Mum and many of my friends every December ask if I’ll make my ‘Koala Friendly Mulled Wine’. Last January I still had stuff leftover from Christmas to make it and did so when my fellow Guide leaders came round for a term planning meeting, and recently I made it for the Rangers.

Wait? What? Serving alcohol to underage Rangers?!!!

Don’t panic Girlguiding UK and my Rangers’ parents. There’s a key fact you need to know here. What makes my mulled wine ‘koala friendly’ is that it doesn’t contain any wine.

You see, I loved that mulled wine smell, and stupidly thought that like mince pies don’t contain red meat mince, that mulled wine didn’t contain any wine. I almost made myself very ill one night by accepting a glass at an event my friend’s husband bought me (and our friends). Because wine is one of those things – like spices, garlic, beta-carotene colouring, red meat, codeine and fairy liquid – that my body makes very very clear it can’t handle.

I was fed up missing out so one December I went experimenting to find an alternative. And I made it on Christmas Eve, and my Mum declared it ‘much nicer than real mulled wine’.

And so folks, I share with you my not so winey mulled wine recipe.

Serves about 4-6 people (depending on your mug size!)

You will need:

500ml Red grape juice
500ml Cranberry and Raspberry Juice
200ml water
2 mulled wine spice sachets
1 clementine cut into slices (or any orange type fruit – oranges, satsumas and tangerines should all work fine)
A large saucepan, ladle and some mugs.

Pour the juice and water into a saucepan, add the sachets of mulled wine spice. Bring to the boil, then turn down immediately to simmer.
Simmer for 10 minutes
Turn the heat off and remove sachets.
Add your clementine/orange/satsuma slices so they float on top to garnish and a little extra flavour.
Ladle into mugs and serve!

It makes for an excellent winter warmer, and hope you enjoy it if you try it out. 🙂


Skating Guides

At the beginning of the year when we asked the Guides what they would like to do this year, one thing on the wishlist that never went away was ice skating. The problem was the local ice rink wasn’t open to the public on the night the girls meet, and when I contacted them they said there was no possibility of opening on another evening. As the only evening all the girls were free on was the one we meet on, we ended up going bowling instead.

Then we had a brainwave. Every year there’s an ice rink at the Edinburgh Christmas Market. Yes, it’s about double the price of going to the local ice rink…but this year we discovered we could get discounts as Edinburgh residents for the leaders and all the Guides. And so we asked the girls…do you want to do this? There was a resounding yes.

It was 1 degree above freezing the night we went. We met the girls and got the bus into town, and then got our skates on…


One of the parents ended up coming along, and as all three leaders were on the ice (children who are 10 and under have to be accompanied) she very kindly took hold of my phone and took pictures of us on the ice. There was an ice disco – with some lights and music too, which the girls loved. Going over to check someone was ok, this parent insisted that she needed to get a picture of myself and Jo (our unit leader).


I want to give massive props to Jo. Jo has been leading our unit for ten years now, and the last time she had taken the unit ice skating a Guide fell and broke her arm. It wasn’t because of anything bad, just an accident. That was about seven years ago, and the leaders have never taken the unit to an ice rink since! So when the girls started telling us they reeaaallllyyyy wanted to go ice skating, Jo was understandably nervous that history might repeat itself (no one wants to make that call to a parent saying ‘hi…we’re having to take your daughter for an x-ray’). Add the outdoor factor and the discovery that our two youngest and newest Guides had never skated before….and that anxiety gets a little higher!

We fought the fear, we had the knowledge that all 3 of us leaders that were going are trained in First Aid, plus there are staff at the Christmas Market also trained in First Aid, we have a (most of the time) sensible bunch of girls (also trained in First Aid) so if something did happen we could handle it, and it was highly unlikely anyway. Most likely the odd soggy patch and a bruise would be the only likely injuries from falling, plus we’d given plenty of instruction to the Guides on dressing appropriately for the activity.



There were several falls – but what I loved most is that the two girls who had never skated had courage to not just hold onto the edges but really give skating a go! One of our oldest Guides was especially great at helping the two youngest ones get the hang of it and holding their hands to keep them steady. The Christmas Market rink staff were also great, and any time there was a fall, they were over to check everyone was ok (or help us help them back on their blades – there were a lot of Bambi on ice moments with legs going everywhere) and when they realised two of the girls hadn’t done it before they gave individual support and tips on skating.


All in all, the girls had a brilliant night, and Jo received multiple messages from parents in the days after telling her how much their daughters had come home talking about how much they had enjoyed themselves and thanking all of us for taking them. ‘Now we’re going to have to take her skating‘ said one parent. 🙂

I think it’s going to remain one of my favourite Girlguiding memories for a long time to come. 🙂

Christmas Market with the Rangers…

The first thing we did as a Ranger unit (after getting to know each other while we painted our nails) was look at the Girlguiding promise. I told them about how when I was a Ranger we’d gone on a trip to Girlguiding HQ in London as we were finalists in an environmental competition and while there each of us due to be enrolled got to choose a location in London of where we would make our promise.

We started in September, and in December our five members decided that they wanted to make their promise on the ferris wheel at the Highland Christmas Market in Edinburgh (we used to have a German one and a Highland one – this has since changed). I have video footage of the girls doing this, and it is quite hilarious, and I have promised that it will not be shown in the public domain. Last year six of them came with me (as poor Jenny was too sick to come with us with some nasty winter bug) to the new and more expensive Christmas Market and we went on the new ferris wheel (a lot less terrifying) and remade our promise because they wanted to make the new one. This year, we changed things up. The girls told us that they wanted to make the Christmas Market trip an annual tradition, and this year we changed it up, and we gave them an allowance and say they could use it to spend on whatever they wanted to do. Well. What seven out of nine girls wanted to do was ride on this…



For those of you not in the know, that’s the Edinburgh Skyride. Last year one of the seats broke mid air while someone was on it, and it landed in the middle of St Andrew’s Square. Jenny had done the risk assessments though, and I had noted they had improved the seating. I became designated bag lady and I warned them that if they puked they were to come nowhere near me (just as if they are bleeding, they shouldn’t go near Jenny!).  This thing basically spins round and round until it reaches the top next to the Walter Scott Monument. I took pictures of the girls (at their request, two other members also had the girls phones to get pictures for them too) and confess I had to turn away because it made me feel sick to watch it!!


What was funny that having taken them rock climbing, on the ferris wheel (twice), done hula hooping and a campfire or two which has occasionally brought us city blossoms interacting with some slimy wildlife (frogs, toads, slugs…) I’ve heard our many of girls squeal and scream more than once. And I realised that even tens (hundreds?) of feet in the air, I knew whose scream belonged to who! On the ground four of us stood looking up and then at each other going ‘That’s X!’ ‘Oh now Y is screaming too” “oh, I can hear Z“…

Despite the screaming, they all came off smiling and laughing. Two of them asked me ‘Did you hear us screaming?’ to which we all replied “YES!” and we went off in search of crepes, waffles, pretzels and hot drinks. (And no one got sick…phew!)

We ended the night hoping to reenact a picture from last year next to the famous Jenners Christmas tree, but discovered that Jenners had shut earlier than a lot of the high street stores currently open until 9 p.m. during the Christmas period so had to settle for doing it outside the store before a mad dash for our bus home.

More Senior Section memories made, and it was fun to try and fit our growing unit into another crazy selfie (might have to invest in one of those selfie stick things!)


A year of Senior Section in pictures…

Not all of our activities are recorded here, and again there are a lot more photos in our unit’s scrapbook. It’s also made me realise that the other leader has photos on her camera that we need to get printed of some of this last term’s activities before we start back in January! Our unit turned 1 year old in September, and we are looking forward to gaining a new member next term.