Jan Millward: Mad March

Isnt it mad how we are already in March? It doesnt seem five minutes since we were making Christmas cards!Despite the warmth of the last week, March can still surprise us by being bitterly cold, so wrap up warm if you are out and about.

For my planning in March, I like to focus on the two Saint’s Days which give us plenty of easy crafts and themes, and also Mothering Sunday, this year on 31 March, a really important day.

DATES FOR THE DIARY

1 March:St. Davids Day

Make a week-long celebration of all things Welsh!Do any of your residents have Welsh connections? Maybe they went on holiday to Wales. Either way its a great excuse to source some wonderful Welsh music for a singalong. These are always some of the favourites of the residents I meet –Men of Harlech;All through the night;Guide me O thou Great Redeemer;Calon Lan;Myfanwy.

You can also talk about famous Welsh singers, includingTom Jones,Aled Jones,Shirley Bassey andHarry Secombe. If you want to do some cooking, then I love these welsh cakes,simple to make and cooked on a griddle or in a heavy based frying pan.Bara Brith is a Welsh tea bread that you may also like to have a go at, and leeks are also a good addition to the menu on the 1st!

For general reminiscence you could kick off conversations and memories around theWelsh National costume, dragons, leeks, sheep, harp music, St David, Prince of Wales, Rugby, coal mining, Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire, love spoons, Cardiff, castles, Dylan Thomas, Catherine Zeta Jones, Aneurin Bevin, Richard Burton, the Welsh language and the village with the longest name: (Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch).

And don’t forget how passionate the Welsh are about their rugby – get asoft rugby ball and include gentle passing of the ball in exercise classes.Finally, forcrafting activities, try thisvideo of how to make paper daffodils online.

5 March: Shrove Tuesday

For Pancake Day, get messy and get tossing those pancakes! What about a staff race? Great fun and a good way to get kitchen staff and carers involved. This is the time that traditionally all the good food in the pantry was used up before Lent, and it is an important day in the Christian calendar. Experiment with lots of different fillings for your pancakes (think cream, bananas, chocolate as well as the traditional lemon juice and caster sugar).

17 March:St. Patrick’s Day

Another excuse to theme a week! Dig out your green Christmas elf tights and jackets, add a green hat, and you have a leprechaun! The Irish are famous for their dancing and their reels, dig out the music to Riverdance and have a go at chair-based Irish dancing – show a video of it to remind people and get them jiggling their feet! Famous songs connected to Ireland include:Molly Malone;The Wild Rover;When Irish eyes are smiling;Danny Boy;All kinds of everything (Dana), and lots of songs by Enya.

For crafting activities, cut the shape of a shamrock from green card, print off funny limericks and stick one on each leaf, then have a poetry session reading them out. For themed-food you could make edible pints of Guiness, with glasses filled with chocolate mousse andwhipped cream on the top. Soda bread, cut into chunks with butter is also a lovely thing for people to try. For reminiscing sessions, you could introduce any of these topics –leprechauns, Blarney stone, Dave Allen (comedian), Bob Geldof, George Best, Oscar Wilde, the legend of Finn MacCool, Dublin, Tipperary, The Emerald Isle, Saint Patrick, rugby, horse breeding and racing, shamrock, potato famine, Celtic Cross, Roman Catholic religion and statues.

31 March: Mothering Sunday

This is a great day for an afternoon tea party, and also a chance to make up little posies to give to everyone, something that will be very much appreciated by all your residents. If you run out of vases, jam jars will suffice. Also, remember, not everyone was a mother, but everyone had a mother, this is a day to share memories of motherhood in all its forms. For your tea party, get the posh cups out, ice some cupcakes and let your residents enjoy a relaxing afternoon.

And finally, here are some of my favourite sayings of the month:

“Mad as a march hare”

“Beware the Ides of March”

“In like a lion out like a lamb”