• Simon O'Donovan


"Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple." J.K. Rowling

“I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.” Dodinsky

This week's CST activities were centred around the theme of Autumn, as we are fast approaching the Autumnal equinox, which takes place on 23rd September.

Before starting proper, we caught up with some of this week's news.

NEWS ROUND UP It was 'National Teddy Bear Day' on 10th September. We thought of some famous 'bears' - RUPERT, PADDINGTON, YOGI, GOLDILOCKS & THE WOMBLES.

We then discussed who had had a Teddy Bear as a child? Or maybe some members had a doll instead? - BARBI, TINY TEARS, CINDY. Next we sang along with the songs 'If You Go Down In The Woods Today', 'Rupert The Bear' and 'Remember You're A Womble' (all included in the Spotify Playlist linked below) while playing a game of 'Pass The Parcel'. The prize, of course, was a Teddy Bear.

(Idea borrowed from Natasha Wilson @Wellbeing_AUKS ). On 10th September it was the 75th anniversary of the Marquis Of Bute handing the keys of Cardiff Castle and all its grounds as a gift to the people of the City. We watched a short video of the celebrations which took place on that day in 1947 and enjoyed the Welsh songs sung by schoolchildren.

Link here We discussed the benefits of having the Castle and so much green space in the heart of the City. Many members had regularly visited Sophia Gardens and Llandaff Fields, as well as walking along the Taff Trail. This week it was announced that researchers from New Zealand have tried to catalogue all living species in Loch Ness by extracting DNA from water samples. Following analysis, the scientists have ruled out the presence of large animals said to be behind reports of a monster. No evidence of a prehistoric marine reptile called a plesiosaur or a large fish such as a sturgeon were found and catfish and shark were also discounted. "There is a very significant amount of eel DNA. Eels are very plentiful in Loch Ness, with eel DNA found at pretty much every location sampled." So is it a giant eel? We didn't really want to get into Politics this week. Suffice it to say, Boris Johnson's Government had suffered several key defeats at the dispatch box in the 6 days of Parliament being back from summer recess before being prorogued for another 6 weeks. 21 long serving MPs, including Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond had been sacked for disloyalty, whilst no new Brext proposals had been put forward in readiness for the 31st October leaving date. Parliament had voted for a law to make leaving without a deal illegal, so it's all getting rather complicated. In other political news, a rescue Jack Russell terrier as yet without name, had been adopted by Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds. A useful distraction perhaps, but we have yet to hear from Larry the Number 10 cat about how things are working out indoors. The Fire Service cancelled it's association with Fireman Sam this week, as he was felt not to be sufficiently gender inclusive as a mascot. We all agreed that political correctness may have gone too far in this case, and that Postman Pat must be worried! Hurricane Dorian hit The Bahamas then North Carolina at full force this week, with winds of up to 135mph recorded. Dozens had sadly lost their lives, thousands were left homeless and half a million remained without power. We discussed how lucky were are not to have these extremes of weather in the UK, but noted that gales as an aftermath are expected. We also heard about a Florida man whose video interview had gone viral on social media, after he suggested the US Marines and Air Force could stop the hurricane in its tracks by dropping ice in the sea and flying planes counter clockwise to disrupt the airflow and cool the ocean. Nice idea, if the hurricane had not been 50 miles wide and raging with such high wind speeds. (The eye of the storm was 20 miles wide.) We asked who likes a good old UK storm and this led us back to our main theme of all things 'Autumn'? 

THINGS THAT REMIND US OF AUTUMN We went around the room and asked members what reminded them of Autumn, or as Americans and Canadians call it, 'Fall'. Here was our list ... - The falling leaves and the beautiful colours of trees (apparently it is the sugar in sap that gives the red, yellow, golden and purple hues) - The beauty of autumnal skies. We remembered the poem ... RED SKY AT NIGHT, SHEPHERDS DELIGHT. RED SKY IN THE MORNING, SHEPHERDS WARNING. - The clocks going back on 28th October and darker evenings. (Between 1968-71 they Government trialled leaving the clocks as they were and the mornings were so dark children had to be given high vis armbands.) - Cooler temperatures overall and night-time frosts.

- Misty mornings. - Stormy weather. Trees down. Floods. Traffic disruption.

- Wearing warm clothes and lots of layers. Favourite hats, scarves and jumpers being brought out of wardrobes. - Putting on the central heating. The warmth of a coal fire or a log burning stove. - The Coal Man delivering sacks of coal when we were younger. - The power cuts of the 1970s (not many of us had central heating back then, so we had to sit - or dress - in front of the fire to get warm). - Some of us had had outside toilets and tin baths. We remembered bathing in front of the fire and sharing the water. And Izal medicated toilet paper. Ugh! Oh, and Wrights coal tar soap. - Jumping in leaves or puddles. We remembered the poem ... DOCTOR FOSTER WENT TO GLOUCESTER IN A SHOWER OF RAIN. HE JUMPED IN A PUDDLE, RIGHT UP TO HIS MIDDLE, AND NEVER WENT THERE AGAIN. - Picking blackberries and baking blackberry and apple tart. - Playing a game of conkers (apparently soaking the conkers in vinegar and baking them makes them 'winning conkers', though some might say this was cheating!) - Roasting sweet chestnuts on the fire. - Harvest Festival and taking baked goods to church. - Halloween on 31st October (we'll have a separate session on that nearer the time) (pumpkin lanterns). - Bonfire Night on 5th November (ditto) ("Penny for the guy.") - Jacket potatoes cooked in foil on a coal fire. - Hedgehogs (apparently we should be feeding them cat food rather than milk!). - Squirrels burying nuts for their hibernation. - The poem ... THIRTY DAYS HAS SEPTEMBER APRIL, JUNE AND NOVEMBER. ALL THE REST HAVE THIRTY ONE EXCEPT FEBRUARY, IT'S A DIFFERENT ONE. IT HAS TWENTY EIGHT DAYS CLEAR, AND TWENTY NINE EACH LEAP YEAR. The Harvest Moon this year falls on Friday 13th September (band luck for some?). This hasn't happened since 2000 and won't happen again until 2049! (The 'Harvest Moon' is so called as the bright nights helped with gathering the harvest.)

 IDIOMS ABOUT AUTUMN OR FALL Members next completed the following phrases ... In your autumn (YEARS) - getting older That old CHESTNUT - same old story The apple of your EYE - someone who is cherished more than another Golden HANDSHAKE - pay off at redundancy or early retirement Turn over a new LEAF - stop a bad habit or start afresh The apple never falls far from the TREE ; we are all pretty much like our parents Save for a rainy DAY - plan ahead To feel/be under the WEATHER - have a cold about you The bigger they come, the harder they FALL - the more powerful a person is the more spectacular is their downfall Fall flat on your FACE - fail in an embarrassing way Fall about LAUGHING - laugh without being able to stop Fall at the final HURDLE - fail to complete the final task or achieve the ultimate goal Fall between two STOOLS - fail to take one of two satisfactory alternatives Fall head over HEELS for someone - to fall deeply and suddenly in love Fall off the back of a LORRY - stolen goods Fall off the WAGON - start drinking alcohol again Pride comes before a FALL - don't be too sure of yourself United we stand, divided we FALL - there is strength in a shared vision and goals. 

MUSIC ROUND Playlist link here: Forever Autumn - Justin Hayward (Jeff Wayne's 'War Of The Worlds') Who was the Narrator at the start of the song? RICHARD BURTON Which group was singer songwriter Justin Hayward a member of? THE MOODY BLUES Try To Remember - Nana Mouskouri What do Americans call Autumn? THE FALL Why? BECAUSE OF LEAVES FALLING FROM TREES

Up until 1500s, what did we call Autumn in the UK? HARVEST Evergreen - Barbra Streisand What are trees which shed their leaves in the autumn called? DECIDUOUS And trees that don't are called? EVERGREENS

Which album does this song come from? GUILTY It Might As Well Rain Until September - Carole King How many days hath September? 30 What about October? 31 And November? 30

What was Carole King's best selling album of 1971? TAPESTRY Northern Lights - Renaissance What is the proper name for the Northern Lights? AURORA BOREALIS Has anyone seen the Northern Lights or would anyone like to? September Song - Frank Sinatra Frank was said to be a member of the 'Rat Pack'. Who were the other members? DEAN MARTIN, SAMMY DAVIS JR, PETER LAWFORD AND JOEY BISHOP

What was his nickname? OLD BLUE EYES Maggie May - Rod Stewart Can anyone think of any famous Margarets? MAGGIE THATCHER, MARGARET RUTHERFORD, PRINCESS MARGARET, DAME MAGGIE SMITH, MEG RYAN, PEGGY ASHCROFT, MEG RICHARDSON FROM CROSSROADS (PLAYED BY NOEL GORDON) California Dreamin' - The Mamas And Papas What is the name of the island prison in San Fransisco Bay? ALCATRAZ

And the bridge which crosses it? GOLDEN GATE What are the trolley buses called? CABLE CARS Autumn Leaves - Eva Cassidy Name some trees that shed their leaves in the autumn. ASH, BEECH, BIRCH, CHERRY, ELM, MAPLE, OAK, POPLAR, WILLOW, SYCAMORE, HORSE CHESTNUT Stay With Me Till Dawn - Judie Tzuke Finish this well known saying, 'Red sky at night ...' RED SKY AT NIGHT, SHEPHERDS DELIGHT. RED SKY IN THE MORNING, SHEPHERDS WARNING What does this rhyme mean? IT FIRST APPEARED IN THE BIBLE IN THE BOOK OF MATTHEW AND REFERS TO SHEPHERDS READING CHANGING EVENING CLOUD PATTERNS TO PREPARE FOR THE NEXT DAY'S WEATHER The Windmills Of Your Mind - Michel Legrand What film did this song feature in? THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1968 FILM STARRING STEVE MCQUEEN AND FAYE DUNAWAY) Who starred in the 1999 remake of this film? PIERCE BROSNAN Turn, Turn, Turn! - The Byrds What do birds often do in the autumn? MIGRATE TO WARMER CLIMES Ask members to name some birds who migrate. SWALLOWS, HOUSE MARTINS, NIGHTINGALES, CUCKOOS AND SWIFTS ALL HEAD SOUTH In the evening autumn and winter skies you will often see groups of Starlings flying in dense formation. What is this phenomenon called? MURMATION Misty - Johnny Mathis

Who starred as the DJ being stalked in the 1971 thriller 'Play Misty For Me'? CLINT EASTWOOD

What type of cowboy films did he star in, including 1967's 'A Fistful Of Dollars'? SPAGHETTI WESTERN Fields Of Gold - Sting What is Sting's proper name? GORDON SUMNER What band did he form? THE POLICE Harvest Moon - Neil Young What is the Harvest Moon? THE FULL MOON NEAREST TO THE AUTUMN EQUINOX Who was the first man to walk on the moon? NEIL ARMSTRONG (ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND) We Plough The Fields And Scatter - Hymn Which Church service is this hymn associated with? HARVEST FESTIVAL What would members take to the Harvest Festival? PRODUCE FROM THE GARDEN OR FARM, BAKED GOODS, CORN DOLLIES All Things Bright And Beautiful - Hymn Singalong The Lord Is My Shepherd - Hymn Which TV comedy series used this as it's theme? THE VICAR OF DIBLEY Which character did Dawn French play? GERALDINE GRANGER * You've Got A Friend - James Taylor Who wrote this song? CAROLE KING Ask members to say who their best friend is ... Go around the room. Help fill in gaps as necessary. September - Earth Wind & Fire There are traditionally four elements in Western culture. Which is missing from Earth Wind and Fire? WATER Ask members to click their fingers in time with the music ...

Or dance along if they wish .... * A YouTube clip of Dawn French jumping into the (very deep) puddle on an episode of The Vicar of Dibley was very well received! LINK HERE.

ACTIVITY This week we brought in a small branch of a tree and all made leaves out of coloured card to decorate it with. Members drew on their leaves on one side and on the other left messages about the autumn. You will see in the above images the outcome of our efforts.

About Me

Simon O’Donovan MBE has worked in NHS Wales for most of his adult life, supporting people with dementia, their carers and families and developing and improving services to benefit this client group. 

He recently retired from working as a Community Mental Health Nurse within a Young Onset Dementia Service and continues to contribute to weekly CST 'Friendship Group' sessions as a volunteer co-facilitator.


He has been keeping a weekly 'Young Dementia CST Blog' to share and archive tried and tested activities resources, with the ultimate aim of providing an 'off the shelf' resource library of weekly themed CST sessions which can be used on rotation throughout the year. 


The main aim of this website is to share experience and resources freely, in order that others can dip in and out and use some or all of the materials provided in their own CST work. Thus it is hoped, facilitating and supporting the provision of uplifting and enjoyable sessions that optimise people with dementia's quality of life.

This site is not owned by or affiliated to any organisation. It’s a personal commitment, a not for profit exchange of ideas and a resource library which aims to enable more widespread use of CST approaches for people with dementia. 

To this end, 'Guest Blogs' are VERY welcome, but bearing in mind that no images of clients are to be used without their express written informed consent.

Please note that some images are reproduced on this blog from the internet under the 'fair use copyright' principle, in that they will only be used for educational purposes with disability groups and in no way will be linked to profit making activities.


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