Toddycats Appreciation Dinner 2008

We have few of these and I realised the last one was in 2005. We only get to chat casually after an event or training but this means most Toddycats won’t get a chance to the rest from other groups. So Adrian, Airani and I got things organised – we booked a venue, ordered food and invited the Toddycats.

Since the Raffles Museum is no longer empty like it was in 2005 just after renovations, we decided for Changi. The three of us love its special ambience and cycle there often. But soon we realised that even in January, the bungalows were already saturated during the weekends. Adrian managed to snap up the one location and night that was available one day – despite not having much information about the venue. However, it turned out to be Cranwell Bungalow No. 1! This is a favourite place of ours for it is the bungalow under the Changi tree (Sindora wallachi); read the story on the Changi Heritage webpage.

Adrian and I had taken a student attachment group from VJC (peer-mentored by two graduated SAJC students) to visit the tree. That was one of the experiments I tried out in 2000 during the evolution of The Habitat Group into the Toddycats – at the dinner last night in addition to us, there was Janice and Hua Qin from VJC and SAJC to complete the 7-year old connection.

The Friday night booking left us with very little time but we decided to go ahead and squeezed in a registration procedure, dinner and games for the 45+ whom the project mangers had rounded quickly by SMS, email and phone calls.

I pulled myself away from the last of my work and managed to reached the chalet after 3pm. Airani checked out the inventory and set up the registration and the food arrived early to get warmed up. I was exhausted to caught some shut eye in the sofa until 6.45pm when Hidayat arrived. We set him to figuring out the registration questions and he looked like he was taking his exams! The afternoon’s thunders had petered out a light drizzle and most of the Toddycats reached the now darkened chalet by 8.30pm.

We were pleased with the food despite the absence of a gravy. It was well appreciated and we had been careful to cater for 80% of the confirmed number, seeing that there was a reasonable mix of guys and girls. This avoided wastage and additional payment got us plastic/styrofoam-free catering.

The games were really fun! Games Master Airani had a tough job with a chattering bunch of monkeys. We missed Alison’s highly effective school-marm approach from 2005 but Airani soldiered on and led the lot through a couple of rounds of Balderdash and Group Charades. The noise we made might have raised the dead!


The teams were organised around project groups and with them strewn around the hall in vague arrangement, the recruitment origins became evident – Pedal Ubin has the most number of non-NUS guides (we made a special effort to do this in 2004/5), ICCS-NUS is the youngest team with the most number of engineers (reflecting the outreach effort across all of NUS in 2002), Pasir Panjang Heritage has the oldest members (what is it about history?), the Public Gallery team has the most number of biology grad students (Wei Song and Gwynne were hons students from the evolution lab in 2006/7) and Public Exhibitions is a biology undergraduate stronghold (Hamsa who restarted the group in 2007 is a 3rd year undergraduate).

The teams were apprximate groupings only since some Toddycats are in more than one project and I absorbed the smaller groups like MacRitchie-Bukit Timah Briskwalk and Labrador Rocky Shore.

Can you identify the teams?

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Public Gallery Guides

Pasir Panjang/Kent Ridge Heritage Guides

Pedal Ubin Junglefowls

Senior Toddycats with new guides

I missed the opportunity to take good photos (I just pointed and shot off a few frames between refereeing) but Marcus and Kenneth and some others had their cameras out so I hope to see some interesting ones later.

Balderdash revealed many people’s ability tell a tall story which is quite alarming from a guide trainer’s perspective! The Group Charades were very funny as five Toddycats simultaneously would struggle to convey the right words to the respective teams against a hollering background of the other groups. It was quite tough monitoring the room to detect the first team to guess the answer.

Some were very easy as they were recent choices and some teams hardly got past their “how many words” phase before another team guessed the answer! Not
everyone provided recent movie titles and my choice of Amadeus (1984) – managed at least to stump the lot for awhile. Well, for a few seconds at least.

The young ICCS team displayed an intimate knowledge of each others song and movie choices which drove Anand nuts for a minute! You see we had penned down answers to series of questions Airani had asked during registration and these were used during the charades.

I felt reasonably pleased with the evening even though we had not driven the interaction well enough. We had got the Toddycats searching out each other out with the name list they received at registration but that should be integrated that into a game the next time – we would need a Saturday booking to allow us enough time to do all that in a relaxed way.

About a quarter of us spent the night at the chalet which was very cool. I was actually feeling quite exhausted and desperate for my bed. Then one group drew me in to their complicated looking game, Saboteur. It was one of several that Hock Heng, effectively the overnight Games Master, had provided.

The games (Cartagena, Bridge, Saboteur, etc) folded one by one until there remained five us battling over Saboteur. We switched to speed rounds by 6am to quicken the pace when we felt our reflexes finally slowing. At 6.45am though, we had to call it a halt and hustled to clean up the chalet, check the inventory and close all the windows. We then roused the few who had caught a few winks at 4-5am before they heading out to work that Saturday.

By 7.30am, Cranwell Bungalow No. 1 was its serene self once again with almost everyone gone. I hauled out the grabage and took a last stroll to admire the large trees in the area including that familiar old friend, the Changi tree.


Photos on the Facebook group have been face-tagged.


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