My first career was as a geochemist in mineral and oil explorations. This necessarily involved a lot of chemistry and a lot of field work, camping in various and varied parts all over the Southern Hemisphere, with the exception of South America. The conditions were frequently rugged, often wet and dirty, sometimes dangerous but nearly always glorious, interesting and fun.
I had served as a Girl Guide for several years while in school, so I had become well used to camping with my troupe. One of these camping experiences turned out to be quite memorable.
It was August 1957. 100 years on from the birth of Lord Baden Powell. Selected Girl Guides from all over the world were given the opportunity to attend what was a very large and well-organised camp for two weeks. I don’t recall the details, but I do know that numbers from each country, including the UK, were necessarily limited.
I was extraordinarily lucky to be one of those who “qualified,” but I have no idea how this or any of the other selections were made. I do know that I was very honoured, not only to attend the Camp but also to be chosen as the one, flanked by two others, who made a presentation to the Queen. On behalf of the Guides, I was chosen to present a camping set to Her Majesty for the enjoyment of Prince Charles and Princess Ann.
The set included a tent, fully set up and ready to play host, plus several necessary associated items. I duly prepared my speech and answered her questions. At one point she pointed to a tea towel that was draped over a guy rope and asked what it was. I had assumed from that question she did not have a need for one of her own, but maybe I was wrong.