Can I Get A Rewind?

(click to enlarge)
The other week we were moving crap from the top of one cupboard to the top of another having a clear-out in the kitchen and we rediscovered two carrier bags full of our old cassette tapes.  At some time in the past four years I had made Kev promise that he wouldn't throw them out.

They are priceless, yet worthless.  I am loathe to throw them out because I'm far too sentimental.  Plus they would have to go to landfill so I'm really fulfilling my role as eco-warrior...  *whistles nonchalantly whilst clinging to the past*

Jukebox Classics,Robert Miles, Alison Moyet, Janet Jackson, Holly Johnson, Duran Duran, The Bee Gees (not mine), Hot Chocolate (I don't remember buying that one either), Paul Simon, Phil Collins, Sam Brown, East 17, all sorts of different compilation albums and almost every 'Now That's What I Call Music!' up to number 21 - but sadly missing what used to be my pride and joy - the original Now That's What I Call Music tape from 1983.  What are we on now?  Number 77?  I'm sure they only used to be released once a year or so.  These days it seems to be once a month.  Can you spot any of your old favourites in that pile?

music pirateYou will notice an abundance of blank tapes too.  There are probably all 'mix tapes' or recordings of the Top 40.  Yes, I was a music pirate, attempting to stop and start the tape before the DJ got a word in (mentioned in passing on this post).  I think there's even a recording of me drunkenly phoning either James Whale or Alan Beswick when they used to be a late night DJ on Red Rose Radio (now Rock FM) and having a little chat about something deep and meaningful.

(by the way, Lancashire people, have a look at this page - Alan Beswick, Simon Tate (the uncle of my friend from primary school ) and many more blasts from the past)


I have no idea what I am going to do with all these tapes now.  We have an old stereo with a tape-deck but the tone is awful compared to quality of music today.  And I can download digitally remastered versions of almost any song now.  Maybe I should stack them up in the lounge and make a 'feature' out of them.  Or I could unravel the tape and knit something.  Or I could just put them back on the top of the kitchen cupboard and sigh nostalgically.

Review : Nintendo Wii - Just Dance 2

Since were were asked to review Just Dance 2 for the Nintendo Wii, it's never been off the console.  But it's not me that's been playing it - oh no.  First I was struck down with the dreaded lurgy and now have a bruised leg and suspected broken toe (long story).

The 11-year old has been mastering all the dances (his favourites are Outkast's 'Hey Ya' and Junior Senior's 'Move Your Feet') but we have to admit that it's not really much fun playing on your own.  It's a great way to work up a sweat, though.  This is much more a multi-player game and it does feel as though it is the next stage up from the original Just Dance game.  Gameplay is essentially the same - the moves are slightly more advanced (but still fun) and there is the option to download some extra tracks.  We had a stray 400 points wafting around in the account so downloaded Katy Perry's 'Firework', which cost us 300 points.


There are modes for up to 8 players and this is going to be a massive hit at our Boxing Day party although I have a feeling that the kids will be much better at it than the adults.  I'm determined to get back to full health as soon as possible so that I can have a bash at James Brown's 'I Got You' and The Pussycat Dolls' 'When I Grow Up'

Inspirational Teaching

Back in the olden days when the world was black and white I was taught by the most amazing man - "Sir" was someone whose teaching was inspirational, ahead of his time and who wasn't afraid to try new teaching methods.  I have mentioned him before.

When I wrote yesterday's post I was reminded about my high school English teacher.  A man who stayed sat behind his desk for the majority of the time, slumped.  A man who appeared to be ambivalent about teaching in general and about the majority of the students who passed through his classroom door.  A man who completely and utterly disliked me - or so I felt at the time.  I don't remember a single compliment passing his lips or a mark that merited mentioning.  I failed English Language and English Literature spectacularly because he marked my work so low that it was unsuitable to be sent to the examination board.

Education Reform and the new Government White Paper

I was listening to BBC Breakfast News this morning and heard snippets of an article discussing the new Government White Paper and the proposed return to exam-based study.  The White Paper suggests that secondary schools will be considered to be failing if less than 35% of their students attain less than 5 Grade C's at GCSE level.

Whoever originally decided that it was a good idea to make 15- and 16-year old kids, raging with hormones, study for two years then judge them for the rest of their lives on a series of 2-hour windows was mad.  Modular learning gives better results all round.  Yes, we should still have exams but they they should be relevant to progression.

Power Cut!

It was 9.45pm.  I was just watching Nigel Havers air-kissing everyone goodbye as he made moves to leave the "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here" jungle and...
*click*
... we lost all our electricity.  Not just a power surge flicker but the whole house plunged into darkness and silence.
"Told you something was up today," 
shouted Kev smugly from the other room (we have separate lounges - it's brilliant!).  He'd also rung me at work earlier in the day to ask if I knew why the electricity had gone off for a couple of minutes.  I tried to use my ESP, I really did, but my recent flu must have knocked my senses out...

Review : Sound Asleep Pillow

I don't need a lot of sleep and always find it difficult to wind down when I do actually go to bed.  One way to combat this was to listen to podcasts on my mp3 player.  I download all sorts of different ones and pick one a night to listen to.  I must have the strangest shaped ears though because, no matter what I do or what position I lie/sit in, the in-ear style headphones always fall out of my ears.  And for obvious reasons, old-school style headphones throw up all sorts of issues.

Secondly, my husband's snoring has got increasingly worse in recent times.  Occasionally, plugging myself into the dulcet tones of a podcast just about drowns out the throaty growling of the comatose body lying next to me.  He swears blind that he doesn't snore very loud but to prove him wrong, one day I will record him.  Watch this space!

sound asleep pillow
The makers of the Sound Asleep Pillow offered me one of their pillows to try out, convinced it could solve some of my dilemmas.  I was a little wary to start off with as I am very fussy about the softness and height of my pillows but agreed to give it a whirl.

The pillow was a bit thicker than I imagined it was going to be and only after squeezing the pillow REALLY hard could I feel the speaker inside it.  Even the weight of my head doesn't detect it when I am led down.  The universal stereo jack is attached to one corner of the pillow and the lead (detachable for safety and tidiness) is a very generous 120cm long - plenty of length to allow you to flip your pillow over to the cool side without disturbing your mp3 player.

The sound quality is very clear and my husband has said that he cannot hear the speaker even when lying next to me in the bed.  Positive results all round.  I just need to find a cure for the snoring now...

The pillow dimensions are 70cm x 45cm and the traditional Sound Asleep pillow retails at £15 (there is also a memory foam version for £30).  It is available from the Sound Asleep Pillow website or retailers such as Argos, Tesco, B&Q and Littlewooods to name a few.

Published!

Earlier this year I took part in an online creative writing course run by Tim over at Bringing Up Charlie.  The e-course was a great learning experience, even for people who had been writing for a while.  We were split up into focus/support groups (I was lucky enough to be placed with Sandy and Emily), given fantastic guidance and it really built up my confidence to expand on my creative writing.

When the e-course had finished, we were asked to submit some of our favourite pieces to be considered for publication.  Tim has collated and edited the book and it is full of fantastic pieces of writing INCLUDING SOME FROM ME!

You can buy a paperback version of the book direct from Dotterel Press for £8.99 +£1.00 P&P or you can download a version from Lulu for £2.99 (you can also place orders outside of the UK via the Lulu link too) and all profits are being donated to Children In Need.

Community Spirit

There are a number of threads on the Blogger.Ed and British Mummy Bloggers forums asking about how to engage with readers when blogging; how to write, how often to post and how and when to comment.  It's all about social engagement at the end of the day.  After all, why do you write a blog if it's not to offer an opinion or keep in touch with people?

RED

Fame.  The reputation that I had recently acquired was a force to be reckoned with.  I had officially gone public to dispel the rumours but now so many people were determined to make a few quid from their brief acquaintance with me.  If the truth be told, I was sure I didn't know all of them but they were convinced they knew me.  Stories about places I'd never been and events that had never happened, but the media lapped it up and printed it anyway.  It created column inches and sold papers.

The Gallery : Before and After





Here come the girls...


L-R:
Me, Rachel, Amie-Leigh
three generations

The Gallery prompt this week was "Before and After"
You can see all the other entries >>> here <<<
Don't be afraid to join in and link up too - just follow the instructions on the link above.

Related Links:
http://www.iamtypecast.com/search/label/gallery

It's Your Age

I don't feel 38 years old.  I imagine myself to be much younger, even though all the evidence points in the opposite direction.  During my routine contact lens check-up today my optician noticed a few extra vessels in my eyes, partly due to continuous wear but also because of "my age" *runs away, screaming*.  Oh, I also had to walk round town after the appointment looking a right twat with yellow-rimmed eyes because I'd had to have some weird dye inserted into my eyes.  And they'd ended up stinging.  And watering.  A lot!  So maybe some of the sympathetic glances aren't to do with my age, after all.

Being ill messes with my head

On Sunday night my throat feet dry and scratchy.  I knew I was probably coming down with something when Kev walked in and told me I looked tired.  I'm hardly ever ill but just felt a bit rubbish, you know?  So yesterday morning (Monday) I dragged myself into work but got sent home at lunch time on the grounds of "possibly having a contagious disease" (my boss being sarcastic but she knows that I'd fight my way though to the end of the day if she didn't manhandle me out of the door).

Review - Fun and Games for the 21st Century Family


*** FIRST EVER REVIEW OF THIS BOOK ***
(slight exaggeration - it's been mentioned on radio but they forgot to mention the title!!!)


FUN AND GAMES FOR THE 21st CENTURY FAMILYI like to think that I straddle the peripheral between traditional and modern when arranging "entertainment" so when I received an email from Simon Rose asking me if I'd like to review his new book - Fun and Games for the 21st Century Family - I thought this would be a really interesting read.

I wasn't disappointed.  Simon and his partner in crime, Steve Caplin, have managed to rethink family fun using pen and paper alongside modern day technology, such as mobile phones and Google Earth!

The book is clearly laid out showing how many players are needed for each game or activity, any additional equipment and what age it is suitable for with easy-to-understand instructions.  The book (and main index) are in alphabetical order and an additional index at the back groups games into categories - such as 'brain games', 'active games' or 'car games'.  There are over 200 games and activities all together.

The "techno section" is dedicated to helping you understand your computer more; creating and managing programmes that will help you play the games.  The simple "random number generator" - or electronic dice - programme is one that even I can manage to build!

The book works alongside a complimentary website - www.fg-21.com - where you can download all sorts of extras, such as grids and bingo boards to play some of the games.   There is also a forum where you can chat to others about the activities and show-off your animations or videos.

I've picked out some of my favourites and we'll be trying these games out over the next few weeks:
  • Pg 38 - Camera Scavenger Hunt - Photograph your "treasure" rather than collect it.  
  • Pg 40 - Hip Sync - Silent dancing using mp3 players
  • Pg 67 - Car Snooker - Make a "break" like in snooker using colour of passing cars
  • Pg 108 - Speed Texting - Everyone get the same phrase to text and the winner is the quickest
  • Pg 141 - Animation for Beginners - how to make your own stop-motion video
  • Pg 215 - Google Earth tour - Spot the landmark
I've also spotted some of the traditional pen-and-paper games like Dots and Beetle which will be great for our Boxing Day party and full rules for "games from the archives" like conkers and French cricket!  This book is going to be a favourite on our family reading shelf for a long time to come!

* * *

Fun and Games for the 21st Century Family was released on 
2nd November 2010 and retails at £9.99

Talent

Do you ever wish you had a talent?  Nothing spectacular - just something that everyone remembers you for.



 Henry Mancini & His Orchestra - The Pink Panther Theme .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine
I can play the piano and I can read music but I've always wanted to just sit down at the piano at a party and start playing a song that everyone knows, with everyone gathering around the piano, singing along and calling out for the next song.  Old-time party style.  My speciality piece is "The Pink Panther Theme" but that doesn't have any lyrics and when people say, "Great! What else can you play?" I tend to mumble something and wander away from the keyboard.

Do You Want To Moonwalk With Me?


First of all, watch this!

<

It's safe to say that I LOVE *draws a heart in the air* the "Let's Dance" series of games for the Nintendo Wii and almost never film my friends playing the game after a few drinkies (sorry Mick, but your "MC Hammer" is now legendary on Facebook).  Anyway, after seeing the above trailer, the new Michael Jackson - The Experience game is on my "AAARRGGGHHHH I REALLY WANT THAT" list and I'm trying to find out if the trilby and white glove is included.

And before you ask, YES, the floor does light up as I walk down the street.  Doesn't it for you?


Sponsored Post - all will become clear in the very near future

Now That's What I Call A Music Quiz

There's a little bit of oneupmanship a craze going on in Blogland at the moment.  You have Paula with her visual music quizzes (#1 and #2, with #3 to follow on Friday) and Garry with his headbashing soundbites quiz (we don't talk about his first attempt as it was a bit of a flop!) so I've decided to jump on the bandwagon.  This is something I wanted to do with the #FridayTwiz but it moves a bit too fast on a Friday and not everyone has their speakers switched on.

Contraceptives for Kids

Today's media reports that a pilot scheme on the Isle of Wight will allow girls as young as 13 years old to obtain a month's worth contraceptive pills from selected chemists on the island.


What do you think of this?  Do you believe this is the right way to educate our teenagers; by offering them the opportunity to protect themselves against unwanted teenage pregnancies or should we be encouraging them to adhere to the UK law and refrain from sexual activity until they are age 16?

Musical Monday : Desert Island Discs

I was asked by Kate over at The Five F's to choose my Desert Island Discs - just eight pieces of music that I would be prepared to to listen to over and over again.  This sounds easy but it isn't.  Music affects people in many different ways, especially according to what mood they are in when they listen to it.  I spend more time hitting 'NEXT' on my mp3 player than I do actually listening to the tracks.

Anyway, here are a few that are stock favourites.  Songs or tunes that make me catch my breath and stop for a few minutes to sink into the arrangement of sounds and words.