Saturday, 29 September 2018


What does an only child do to find friends when he lives in one town in which he was not born and attends school in another town which is six miles away? 
He joins the Wolf Cubs at the age of nine in 1952 to improve his social life and gain a few playmates.

By joining I was following in my father's footsteps. There were no cubs in his day so at the age of eleven he joined a Midlands Scout Troop in 1914, becoming a Patrol Leader and an adept First Aider, Woodsman, Tracker and Cook.

4th Newton Abbot Wolf Cub Pack
I am standing in the back row on the end right.

I progressed through the Wolf Cubs completing the training and earning badges for all of the tests, the first being 'how to thread a needle and sew on a badge'.     
My memory is a little hazy but I do know that we had to learn to march and to keep in step, otherwise a loud voice would shout out "Lloyd, do you have two left feet?" 
Oh the ignominy I felt when that was said. 
Eventually it was no trouble at all to keep in step with the others.

Life progressed and eventually I passed on to become a Boy Scout (or sprout) in the 4th Newton Abbot Scout Group and in 1954 the troop attended The Devon Jamboree which was an international gathering from about ten different countries. 
There were two amusing incidents that lightened up my boring stay there. One was when The Chief Scout's jeep knocked down the entrance of a local troops gateway and the second when a Scandinavian Scout fell into the latrine and was taken to hospital.

However I was very glad that I attended the jamboree and experienced all of the dumbing down by the seniors, for that gave me the impetus to join the local the 1st Newton Abbot Sea Scouts.
In those days they met in a room above the Seven Stars Public House and on my second meeting I was initiated into the fine art of imbibing beer!

After a few weeks of learning the skills of drinking we relocated ourselves to Hackney, near Kingsteignton on the upper estuary of the River Teign and handily enough only a stones throw from The Passage House Inn.
Now this fine hostel stocked not just beer and ales but that grandest of West Country Liquor - Rough Cider/Scrumpy, as well as delicious platefuls of crab sandwiches. 
Jack Hayward was the landlord, a most amenable man, who was always ready to have a laugh and not ask any silly questions regarding age.

The 1st Newton Abbot Sea Scout Group.
This time I am in the back row and the fourth from the left, 
my sailors hat was too small and made me look as if I had a high forehead.

Myself with my back to the camera being ferryman to the photographer 
and his son sitting in the stern.

Tuesday evenings were our regular Scouts' night of tuition, learning various knots and what they were used for, first aid, tracking, identification of birds found in the estuary and at sea, their calls and coastal navigation. 
We were taught to estimate the height of a tree by its shadow and to find north using a wrist or pocket watch - point the hour hand to the sun and the numeral six on the face is north. 
The Sea Scouts were able to do all that the Land Scouts could do and lots more besides, including unarmed combat.

A four man racing gig where I am the bow oar, my position, 
regardless of the type of craft that we were rowing. 
Whether it was a naval cutter or whaler, Mel was the bow oar.

Our boat crew did well at the regattas. One year we came first in the West of England Whaler Championship at Dartmouth and we also won the Ships in Harbour race.
Dartmouth College, or to use it's full name Brittania Royal Naval College, was our second home during the summer for two weeks, where we held our Summer Camp in a variety of tents.
Lots of fun was had by all and sundry. 

I can honestly say that joining the Sea Scouts gave me great pleasure for several years of my life.
Messing about in boats, whether rowing or sailing, is a very healthy life with lots of exercise that keeps a person fit and mentally alert. 
I could write a book about all the goings on however, I'm sure your imagination and a few earlier hints can fill in the dots - if only our parents had known !


The Weaver of Grass said...

It sounds a grand life to me and if that is a photograph of you on your new header then you look to have done very well on it.

Rachel Phillips said...

I enjoyed that little peep into your life Heron. Thank you.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I had a second cousin whose parents named him Baden Powell in honour of the founding Scoutmaster.

A Heron's View said...

Indeed Pat it is me on the header and I have travelled, experienced and survived several bumps on the rocky road which is not over yet. Thank you very much for the comment.

A Heron's View said...

Your most welcome Rachel and thanks for visiting !

A Heron's View said...

That is the first time I have ever heard of parents honouring Baden Powell like that - gosh !

Adrian Ward said...

It was a different and more exciting world. Where are he life jackets and crash helmets? Great article.

A Heron's View said...

Certainly it was a different world Adrian and we were fearless! No Wimps, No PC and certainly No HSE pricks about then. Lifejackets were worn when we went out to sea if it was a bit rough and in any case our oars and the boats were made of wood and would float.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mel - I still have two left feet ... but looks like the cubs did you no harm and you enjoyed your time in the Sea Scouts ... happy memories indeed those days of youth. Cheers Hilary

Fairtrader said...

What a lovely little journey down Memory Lane Mel, and with those great pictures to go with it. I did something similar last year, telling my schoolday story. I never joined any Wolf cubs, in Sweden the girl scout organization for girls was intially called Bluewings. But when I joined 1970, we were just scouts..I know I am not very active ( nearly passed out by the look of it ) but from time to time I drop in and read about my old friends current mood. Thank you for this very interesting story, makes me eager to go down and search for proof of my childhood existence!

A Heron's View said...

Thank you Hilary, you are correct the Cubs did me no harm and Iremained a Sea Scout until I was 18 and then other pursuits took over !

A Heron's View said...

Scouting gave me life skills and an understanding of people: There were 10 basic precepts and one of which was this - ' That a scout is a brother to everyone regardless of class, creed or nationality' and that I have put into practise all of my life.
I am very fortunate that I have a small attache case with lots of poignant photo's in of my self and family. Each of them has a story which enables me to share on this blog.
Thank you Solvieg for visiting and leaving a comment.

northsider dave said...

Sounds like you have got a good memoir book there Heron.

Vallypee said...

What a wonderful post, Mel. I love the mix of tales and photos. This is food for my soul! I wish you would write a book. I'm sure the dots would be filled with more than beer!

A Heron's View said...

Thanks for the suggestion Dave I can only say: may be, may be yet I very much doubt that it will happen.

A Heron's View said...

Val, have you and Northsider Dave been conspiring together ?
My life is quite full already and my typing skills are not at all good enough, in fact abysmal. So I cannot see me ever writing a book.

Graham Edwards said...

I tried to join the Cubs but was never accepted. The local packs were always full to bursting. I think that I might well not have pushed very hard. The fact that I subsequently declined the Masons and Round Table probably says something. My New Zealand Family were very involved in the Sea Scouts - for many decades starting years ago when they lived in Scotland.

A Heron's View said...

Hello Graham!
Very interesting that the Cub packs were full, just shows how popular they were at that time. There was perhaps a waiting list that you were not informed about.
Similar to yourself I never joined the Masons either or The Buffs, despite having had two separate suggestions that I would be well received. My reply was that I felt that an open society was paramount above all else.