The Brownie & Girl Guide’s Way

I was washing up this morning and my mind started wandering, thinking about the way I wash up, when I remembered how I first learnt to wash the dishes ‘correctly’. I remember being in the Brownies, the younger cohort of the Girl Guides, back in the 80s and as such I have a copy of The Brownie Guide Handbook (below). This book showed how to behave, how to perform well as a Brownie or Guide and demonstrated numerous tasks, step by step, in order to complete badges and generally become a well-rounded young lady.

retro brownie guide handbook vintage book

With this handbook I learnt how to efficiently pack a suitcase, repair a hole in a sock and why fingernails should be cut and not bitten. But most importantly I learnt how to wash the dishes, and the girl-guide method has stayed with me throughout my life. This is why I give my husband a funny look when he tries to wash crockery before glassware and pans before cutlery. Surely everyone knows that the cutlery goes into the bowl to rinse while glasses are washed, followed by teacups and barely-soiled saucers, bowls, plates, then pans and lastly greasy frying pans and caked-on bakewear. Obviously, I’m just being cheeky – my hubby doesn’t really muddle up the order, I’ve showed him the Girl Guide’s Handbook 😉 seriously sweetie, I’m just pleased you do it more often than I do!

vintage brownie guide handbook retro book

I wonder what the modern Guiding Handbook would say about housework? Does it mention the correct way to load a dishwasher? (I hope so, because this can be done wrong too) or does it focus on things such as camp survival, building a fire and first aid? I’d love to take a look and the next time that I see a copy at a school jumble sale or carboot I’ll buy it and report back!


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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

9 thoughts on “The Brownie & Girl Guide’s Way

  1. Thank you so so much for the recipe – I’ve been looking for it for years…I think my book is hidden in some loft somewhere! It was such a reliable recipe & it was a real treat making these fairy cakes when I was a brownie

  2. Thanks for posting,the one & only recipe,for fairy well as the pictures of the handbook.
    I remember it all,so well,great times.
    I only kept that page,of my Brownie handbook & that’s 50 years ago.
    Over the years,it has been well used by me & my grown-up children.
    Only very recently,have i’ve lost the recipe.
    I will no doubt find it eventually,as will have put it in a safe place.
    Washing up,was part of this too,so no escape.
    Many thanks again,especially with this lockdown in place.

  3. Well, here I am, at least seven years after this was posted, five-and-a-half after Leanne said she wanted the recipe… I found this page because I was hoping to find the recipe online, since I was having trouble finding my own copy of the handbook. But with your hope for the recipe, Leanne, I dug a little deeper and found it half-hidden by a larger book. So here is the recipe. (Minus the admonitions I should hope you still remember! grin.)

    2 tablespoons milk
    1 egg
    2 oz margarine
    2 oz sugar
    4 oz S.R. flour
    (1 heaped tablespoon = 1 oz)

    Warm bowl.
    Cream sugar and margarine.
    Beat egg.
    Add egg and gently fold in a little bit of the flour.
    Add milk alternately with the rest of flour.
    Hafl fill 12 cases with the soft mixture.
    Put in hot oven and cook for about 15 minutes – Electric 400 deg (fahrenheit, one presumes, since we are using imperial weights), Gas Regulo 6-7

    And there you have it. Happy cooking!

  4. Haha, Oh noo!! I don’t have a copy of the book anymore, I wish I did but mine also went missing years ago after a big loft clear out! If it ever turns up I will find that fairy cakes recipe and share it!

  5. I would really like the fairy cakes recipe from the brownie handbook. My Mum through my book away along with my bride doll, Narelle. It is a standing joke between us 40 plus years down the track.

  6. I remember this book!! Our girls don’t get one quite like that these days… but must make a note to actually dig the ‘Brownie Adventure’ book out of our dusty cupboard to see whether it does say about washing up when I go to Brownies tonight!! I will let you know!! 🙂

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