Road Safety, Road Awareness

Yesterday I had a heartstopping moment.  One of those 'blink of an eye' moments where you are never sure what happened.

I work on a business park that is a collection of small roads, small brick buildings full of offices, large warehouses that function as storage and factories and there are hundreds of businesses on the site.  There is a speed limit of 15 miles per hour on the site and road markings are clear, especially when approaching the road that cuts through the middle of the site.  The site sits between two towns and many locals use it as a cut-through between the towns and there is a cycle path/footpath (it runs parallel to the main road and cuts across the side roads) due to the sheer volume of heavy plant traffic arriving on the site.  I had to leave the office to attend a meeting yesterday; nothing unusual - I drove from my parking space to the edge of the site.

I pulled up to the junction (a side road, leading onto the main road through the middle of the estate), glanced round, saw nothing coming and started to pull away from the junction.  Within a split second something caught the corner of my eye, I heard a bump, a crash and, as I turned my head, I saw a bicycle and body on the floor.  He had caught the bumper or back wheel of my car.

I stopped.  I threw myself out of my car and over to the cyclist.  It was a boy, probably the same age as my middle child - 18.  He was starting to stand up and I encouraged him not to.  He begged me to check his bike and I was more concerned about him.  He kept apologising, saying that he had to get to such and such a place really quickly.  I helped him up, he appeared only to have a grazed knee.  He checked the wheels on his bike (which spun freely) and jumped straight back on his bike, even though he was wincing in pain a bit.  I offered to give him my name and address and I offered to take call an ambulance.  He refused both and rode off and I watched him disappear down the road.  I still can't believe that no-one else was about to witness this on such a busy business park.

I keep wondering how it happened.  I can never say for sure that he wasn't there when I pulled up to the junction but I'll let you decide.  Here's a diagram of the site (apologies for the crude drawing - but click it to enlarge it) and the position of my car...


He wasn't wearing a helmet.  He was wearing thin knee-length shorts. He was wearing a t-shirt.  I know it was a warm day and I've heard that cycle helmets can [sometimes] cause more damage that protection and I don't want to apportion blame but, as a car driver, I'm totally aware of the responsibility I have for my big metal box on wheels and how much larger and harder it is than the fragile human body on a metal frame balanced on two thin wheels.  I also know that when I got knocked over when I was 16 by a motorist accelerating out of a side street, I was sent sprawling across the road, I got knocked out and was blue lighted to hospital but I escaped with a grazed face and a grazed knee.  But that doesn't take away some of the responsibility I had when stepping out onto the road in a non-designated crossing area.  


Which begs me to ask the question:
Who is responsible for on-road safety?  The driver or the cyclist?  Or is responsibility equally apportioned? 

"WINNING" MAD-ness

I'M ON A DRUG... IT'S CALLED "TYPECAST".  It's not available because if you try it you will get addicted to blogging.  Your fingers will melt off and your children will weep over your reduced parenting.  I'm tired of pretending like I'm not special.  I'm tired of pretending I'm not bitchin', a total freakin' blog star from the Blogoverse...  *


Oops, sorry.  I have no idea what just happened there.  It was like I went all Charlie Sheen and got TYPECAST BLOOD coursing through my veins.  Which is sort of true... but not really.  


*fanfare*  I love recognition for all the hard work I put into blogging, both on the front of the blog and behind the scenes.  Yes, once again I have been nominated for not one but TWO MAD Blog Awards in 2012.  The "MADs" celebrate the UK's best Mum & Dad blogs and are sponsored, once again, by ParentDish.

I'm really chuffed to have been nominated for "Most Innovative" for a second year running and also for the brand new category of "Most Helpful".  Both of these categories suit this blog down to the ground.  

I am massively grateful for the first round of nominations that got me through to the finals but I'd love for you to vote one final time to ensure that I WIN AND WE ALL CONTINUE RECEIVING TYPECAST BLOOD.  Voting is open RIGHT NOW and will close at 5.00pm on Wednesday 6th June 2012.  It's dead easy to vote - you just search for my categories in the menu and use the drop down option to select TYPECAST

Watch out for projects that I'm getting involved with during the build-up to the awards ceremony.  I've already signed up for something that is no doubt going to embarrass me and the Most Innovative nominees intend to try and top the lip sync video from last year.

*Charlie Sheen quotes adapted from his Top 10 Quotes in the Telegraph

Family Life

family life, movement,

I found this picture on my laptop last night.  It was in a folder of "pictures to sort out at some point" and it was taken the last time my sister came over to visit.  We had a bit of a houseful that day because my dad and his wife were visiting, along with my sister, her two boys, my daughter, her two girls and the rest of the O'Hara clan that already live with me.  Ordering "fish and chips for twelve" caused a raised eyebrow or two at the local chippy but it was great to have everyone round and to catch up.

This picture just captures my family perfectly.  My daughter is texting, my eldest granddaughter is blurred through movement, her sister looks on to see what she is doing, my nephew is just about to get up to play with the dog (whose tail can can just be seen in the right hand corner of the picture), my sister is trying to take a picture, my other nephew is looking over her shoulder to see what is going on and my husband sits in the middle of all the madness, supping a brew, looking on in bewilderment.


From The Archives : Short Stories

I have a three year archive on this blog and there's some fabulous stuff hanging back there that newer readers probably never see.  Why don't you have a browse through this selection that I have chosen for you.  This theme is "Short Stories".

[image credit: J Paxon Reyes on Flickr]


A Lottery Win?

She sat on her faded, aged settee, clutching the crumpled lottery ticket, not daring to let it out of her sight.  She’d chosen the numbers carefully – not the usual birthdays and anniversaries but numbers that she thought would be lucky.  It was 7.30pm on a Saturday and the usual rituals of evening meal, washing up and the pouring of a glass of wine had been conducted.  She was trying to stay calm but she always got jittery at the same time, every week.  Her mind was full of ‘What if’s...’ and she almost couldn’t bear the tension but she knew that was part of her enjoyment of the weekly ritual... or torture, whichever way you looked at it.

The Cough

I hung my work overall up, closed the locker door, clicked the padlock shut and walked though the empty, dimly lit shop with the manager, mentally visualising the brown wage packet that was in my handbag.  The Saturday job didn't pay much but at least I could afford a trip to the cinema with friends that evening.  Once outside, I bid the manager goodbye and, as I strode off across the square, I glanced over my shoulder to see him pocket the bunch of keys and turn towards the car park.  

Funambulism

She dressed in a figure-hugging outfit and bolero style jacket that did her no favours.  Her make-up was intentionally thick and acted as a mask.  Her feet were clad in thin ballet pumps and a fixed, toothy smile adorned her face.   She had scraped back her hair into a tight ponytail and crammed it all into a black hat.  The recent de-fuzz session ensured that she was not considered for the job of bearded lady any more and as for the painted lady character, well... she was in the process of saving up for the next tattoo.

Escape...

E.S.C.A.P.E.

S/He

I was 18 years old and sat on a wall outside my friends house. [..] My friend brough the coffees out into the garden and spied a group of lads walking up the road towards the fair.  She nudged me and whispered, "That's the bloke from the pub last night," 

Aural Sex

It started with the muffled giggles wafting through the wall and I knew that I was in for an hour of unintentional voyeurism.  It was always the same when The Bloke from the next-door flat brought home his latest conquest.  It was a different one each week.  How did he do it?  Here I am - the right side of twenty-five, single, willing and able, yet in bed before eleven rather than tripping through the streets in town in ill-fitting stilettos and a skimpy dress.  All my mates had other plans or dates of their own tonight.   Where was I going wrong?

Release Date

The release date is getting close I thought to myself.  For six years I had shut myself away to work on my latest project; something that would change the way in which the world perceives human nature, free speech, emotion and public outcry.  I was finally going to be in control and not one single person in the whole world would know that that were taking part in this experiment.

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.
[continue reading]


As Long As He Needs Me

I felt his finger trace my spine from top to bottom.  If I'd have been able, I would have let out a sigh of pleasure.  I know he only loved me for my inner knowledge and the stories I could tell but, when he wrapped his strong hands around me and gently picked me up, I knew that we would both be satisfied within a few minutes.

#v60getaway : Win Prizes with Volvo

volvo v60, getaway, competition, twitter,
In another life, I power dress in big shoulder pads, have perfect make-up, unchipped nail varnish, gorgeous shoes and drive a cool, but economical, car.  Something like the Volvo V60, probably.  I holiday in the Maldives and New York and I feature regularly in a glossy magazine such as "Cheeze" or "Hey There!", with photos taken inside my £2.8 million mansion, naturally.

In reality, the alarm doesn't go off in time, I throw myself down the landing, screaming at the 13 year old to get out of bed, splash water on my face, rake a comb through my hair and think myself lucky if I end up with matching shoes.  My family holiday is two weeks in a sunny prison camp where I am encouraged to join in the group pool games and eat chips with everything, including breakfast.  But why am I telling you this?

Announcement time!  

Volvo have asked me to help spread the word about their competition on Twitter, which is happening on Sunday 27th May 2012.  

If you follow Volvo on Twitter as @VolvoCarUK (click the link to go straight to their Twitter page) you will see them generating Twitter conversations by asking questions such as "Where was your best family holiday?" (that wasn't mine up there, by the way... mine is always, always, always, Ibiza!)  Reply to them using the hashtag #V60getaway and you could be in with a chance of winning one of the following prizes:
  • Glamping weekend
  • Adventure holiday in Scotland
  • In-car DVD player
  • Digital camera
  • Kindle
  • iPod Touch
  • ... and more

They are giving away prizes every hour so it's worth tuning in a few times during the day.

Let me know how you get on and, more importantly... GOOD LUCK!



Netmums Review Team Badge
I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I have been paid expenses for this post but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.

Review : Zalando Online Shopping

You may have seen various references to "I'm 40 and fabulous" recently.  I have decided that this is the turning point in my life and I'm going to be more positive.  This also includes finding a 'style' that both looks good and is comfortable.  I'd never heard of Zalando online shopping before they contacted me and asked me to try their website out but I immediately fell in love with a number of items.  Narrowing them down was the difficult part, especially as I had been after a 'statement jacket' that would see me through the summer.

zalando, online shopping,

The Review Bit...

Their website is really easy to register with and navigate and I initially ordered a jacket, fitted t-shirt and trousers.  Another t-shirt that I wanted was out of stock but Zalando have an email service that notifies you when your item is back in stock.  My chosen items arrived within about three days by courier service.  Sadly, the trousers didn't fit so I had to send them back.  Although the items were delivered by courier their returns services is one that I'd not encountered before.  I had to search for a local "Collect Plus" agent, repackage the item and drop off the package myself rather than arrange a collection from home.  This service has both pros and cons.  Pro: I could drop off the parcel at my convenience.  Con: There wasn't a collection agent within walking distance from my house.  I received a receipt for my return and, once it was received back at the depot, a credit was applied to my account.  I found some boots in the sale (I could go a bit mad on their shoes, if I'm being totally honest) and, by chance, I received the "back in stock" email for the t-shirt I coveted.  Another order was placed and again, the delivery arrived in approximately three days.

Overall...


I am loving the jacket and, when I wore it to Blog Camp UK with the navy t-shirt underneath, it received rave reviews, as did the boots when I wore them at Cybher and one friend has threatened to disown me after I raved about the clothes so much she filled her basket on the website and heard her credit card groaning.  

The jacket is really comfy and is going to be great to wear for work or casual with jeans.  That's my sort of style all over!  And the boots?  Well, they've hardly been off my feet since the first time I tried them on - that speaks volumes!  I'm just pleased I made the right choices for ME!

Disclaimer:  
I received a voucher to cover the cost of my order.  
You can read my disclosure policy here.

I vote "YES" for Parenting Classes

family photograph from 1999
My children in 1999
There was never, ever a moment that I thought I would agree with a Tory Prime Minister's proposal but, hey, I'm also not afraid to speak up about it either.  And this is only "in theory" at the moment.

*holds hand up* I attended parenting classes. Twice.  Not because I felt the first time was crap but because they were offered to me due to my circumstances at the time.  And, yes, I do feel as though I benefited greatly from them.

I was brought up in a traditional family setting - my dad had a good job, mum stayed at home, we had holidays every year, I was well provided for and I had a good education.  I had a job and a career vision.  I still got pregnant at age eighteen.

I was a fucking fantastic babysitter but that was always because there was an end in sight.  Motherhood never came naturally to me.  Of course, I knew that I was responsible for the provision and nurture of my child/ren and I'd fight to the death for them but no-one ever told me how to cope with the day-to-day stuff.  I could foresee this never-ending crap until the end of my days and I yearned for a break.  I could follow the amazing examples of my own mother and grandmothers but when you're a new parent - and you have chosen to be in that situation - you don't really want to take advice from too many people.  You know you can conquer every mountain that is put in front of you and anyone telling you how to climb that mountain in an alternative way knows shite all.

The world has changed.  Not everyone lives near supportive family.  Hell, not everyone has a supportive family.  Existing family dynamics have changed (even in my own family, after a role-swap of responsibilities).  It constantly feels that there is more month than money and there's no way out.  Parenting classes will never fix that but they will help parents (young, old, new) to learn skills that are attributed to parenting.  I learnt about budgeting, different ways to pay the bills, how to raise my child so that they respected me, how to spot certain ailments and many more non-natural activities that form the role of being a parent.  I also found out how to access training experiences and improved many other skills in other areas.  The classes gave me confidence.

It is far too easy to presume that all advice can come from existing experience, books and the internet (and I say that as a total social media whore).  Barriers to learning are in place already if your own upbringing wasn't secure or stable, if reading isn't your strong point or if you simply cannot afford a broadband package or the latest smart phone.  Parenting classes opened other doors and avenues for me that may not have been available if I hadn't attended.  I met some other parents who remain friends today, over 15 years later.

I truly admire anyone to whom parenting comes naturally.  It's been a constant learning curve for me and continues to be so, especially after becoming a grandparent at such a young age (although, maybe that was inevitable?).  I'd go back to parenting classes in a heartbeat because, even after 21 years, I still feel as though I have more to learn.


Want to hear an alternative view?  Go and read Natasha's post on the subject.  She has some really good points to make.



I LOVE LONDON

This tough Northerner goes all goes all gooey over our capital city.  My little heart swelled whilst I was in London over the weekend.  I'm such a stereotypical tourist-type and I often think that I would love to live in London but know that would take the shine off it.  I really should have planned the Sunday morning better so that I could have gone off and got snap-happy with my camera but I found a spare hour before I had to head to the station anyway.  I took all the shots that you've seen before a million times but to take that time out by myself was a small luxury in my usually busy life.

London, brass band, Cenotaph, Women of World War 2 monument, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, Whitehall, Downing Street,


Here's a few of the pictures that I took.  You can click through to see more on in my album on Facebook and then go and have a look at the one I used for Silent Sunday.  Only me, eh?


Geek Alert!  I've added a few to Panoramio (they should be live in the next 24 hours or so).  I hear you saying now, "What's Panoramio?" and doing another eyeroll at me.  Do you use Google Street View or Google Earth?  You know those 'real' pictures that are overlaid onto the maps?  Yeah... that!  You upload some images that you've taken, zoom into Google maps to place them at a location and the clever web monkeys at Google decide which to use and then do all the lining up and embedding for you.  You then sit back and wallow in the glory of your photos appearing on maps for everyone to see.  Here's an example of one of mine used in London from last year.  Click the link and when the street view loads up, hover your cursor over the tiny thumbnail image in the middle just above the door of the building.  [You can find more of my pictures on Google Maps here]

Ooh, and what do you think of this filter I found in Picasa?  Click on the large image to see the set on Google+ (give them a +1 push whilst you're over there too).  Just something I was trying out.  


London Underground Sign

Cybher : The Aftermath

Cybher speaker badge and pink leather branded satchel
Bollocks to the unwritten rule of "never blog about blogging".  Over the past few days I have probably bored you all with talk of CYBHER.  But, y'know, the reason you get such great shizzle on this blog is because I get off my arse and get do a bit of geeky stuff on the side.  For some strange reason a blogging conference billed as "Geek Is The New Chic" and "Innovate Not Imitate" floats my boat.

When one person has an inspirational idea and works though that to bring it to life to hopefully inspire others then I'm impressed and suitably excited.  I am still so energised by everything I experienced on the day and have so so many illegible notes scribbled on bits of paper but I need to make a master list and work though it.  

When I saw the schedule, I picked out some sessions to attend.  I was confident I had chosen the ones relevant to me but also saw that some other sessions were "double booked".  I am relying on other round-up posts (available on the Cybher linky) and blagging handouts to keep me up-to-date with everything but I'm high-fiving myself for choosing the sessions that I did.

Sian talks to Zoe Margolis - Girl with a One Track Mind
I was fascinated whilst listening to keynote speaker Zoe Margolis (a.k.a. Girl with a One Track Mind) talk about how the press outed her when she was an anonymous blogger and writer and the lengths (no pun intended) they went to to achieve this.  In one way it makes me glad that I've never been anonymous but also made me consider how much I haven't written about from my dark and distant past.  Zoe's passionate mention of feminism lead nicely into the next session that I'd chosen to attend...

Ruby Kidell and Lori Smith talk about Erotic Blogging
The Ins And Outs of Erotic Blogging session was serious and light-hearted at the same time.  Ruby Kidell (who I can now call a 'proper friend' for many reasons) and Lori Smith kept us amused and informed with tales of how to write about sex.  Anonymity was mentioned again with the advice that "if someone wants to find you, they will".  Ruby and Lori also spoke about how feminism and sex go together but that isn't how it is portrayed in women's magazines.  They stressed that the content on blogs is powerful so use that power wisely.

Podcasting with The High Tea Cast
Next up was a session called Pump Up The Volume which was run by the ladies from The High Tea Cast.  Podcasting is becoming more popular in the UK and can easily be incorporated into a blog in so many different ways.  I think I may have found the bridge between having to work in a mainstream job so that I can pay the bills and living the dream of writing and radio presenting where I can be heard but not seen.  Their practical session involved us breaking into groups to discuss what podcast we would broadcast if we had the chance and then seeing a live demonstration of an interview being edited and uploaded.  One of the (very few) male attendees at the conference, Ryan Duggins, jumped at the chance to be 'interviewed' by Ruby Kidell.  He regaled his tale of a very recent trip to a dominatrix - all in the name of journalism, natch - and you can hear the results here.

Talk about sensing a theme.  Totally unintentional, promise!
Then lunch... then about 10 minutes to crap myself when I realised that it was my session next.

Ask A Blogger Geek slide notes
There was one minor hitch - the lack of laptop (not ideal when your presentation is only available online or on a USB stick) - but it was quickly sorted and I headed into my 40-minutes of 'me time'.  I'll not bore you with the details but if you want to read through the slides they are available online at:


If you attended the session and would like to give me some feedback then please get in touch by email, on Facebook, on Twitter or just leave a comment here.  I did ask my official photographer Manda to take some pictures of me whilst I was presenting but she forgot where the zoom button was, caught my 'bad side', then got bored and took pictures of her own shoes.  I got through my session and hid in the corner of the bar with a double vodka and coke.

I've got loads of pictures over on Facebook and the best part of any event is the afterparty.  I got to be reminded what a great hugger Tara is.  I taught Kat to swear in a Northern accent.  I played dead with Claire and Manda.  I made Claire ride the Underground. I got my boobies snuggled by Lizzie.  I met Fenn after seven years of 'knowing' her online.  I never got round to talking to loads of people, I re-engaged with old friends and made plenty of new ones (by the way - it's not stalking, it's called "social media lurve").  I stayed up far too late, had far too little sleep and had some fabulous ideas whilst rather drunk.  I learnt lots, I was inspired, and I have decided what I want to do in blogging and writing.  And it's all down to one women...


Sian To - founder of Cybher
Sian... you fucking rock!! 

But when I walk through my own front door and my husband says, "You look like SHIT..." I know it was a good weekend.

Being a Grandmother

Nana, Mum, Oma and myself as a babe in arms.
At my christening - May 1972
A few weeks ago I posted about the role of the Modern Grandparent - a post that evoked a lot of emotion, especially in the comments. I thought I'd carry that on by talking about my own grandmothers.  

My grandmothers were two of the most admirable women you could ever wish to meet. I have lasting, happy memories of them and believe that they instilled this strong will in me where I am certain that I can actually achieve anything I want.

Nana (my maternal grandmother) remained married to my Grandpa until Mum was 16.  She was a staunch Catholic woman though and, even after separation, divorce was never an option, but they maintained a civil relationship.  Nana was a smart woman; she was never seen without a jaunty scarf and a slash of red lipstick but she was also a bit forgetful, forever going to the shop and realising that she still had her slippers on.  She suffered dreadfully from arthritis and underwent an operation to ease her pain and ended up with ‘plastic knuckles’.  

I shall never forget the social events she attended at the local community centre and was always building bird houses or baskets with lolly sticks.  She smoked Silk Cut Red, which always surprised me as my Mum had very bad asthma, to the extent that she had half a lung removed when she was ten years old, but I suppose no-one knew the dangers of smoking back then.  

Many months after she died I remember finding a bin liner full of photographs which must have been kept after she died.  Mum allowed me to look through them and I found one of my Grandpa in his naval uniform.  On the reverse was written: “My husband, who left my daughter and I for another woman”.  She never let that hurt show through and always protected us from it but now I understand that writing on the photo in that was was the only way she felt she could let her anger out.

Oma (my paternal grandmother) met my grandfather when she was working in a Prisoner of War camp not far from her home.  It was in the midst of World War 2, he was a member of the Luftwaffe and had been shot down one night.  They had the common ground of not wanting to be involved in the war and their relationship blossomed from there.  She taught him to read in the same way that we teach our children to read, using ABC books and comics.  He was sent back to Germany after the war ended but somehow they kept in touch and he came to find her two years later.  They celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1998.  

Oma remembered rationing during the war only too well and was the 'hostess with the mostest' whenever anyone called round.  Tea and cakes on a Sunday afternoon was the norm and a family lunch for 17 was no problem.  She worked at a library book suppliers and her spare room was stacked, floor-to-ceiling, with books - seconds, cheap buys, staff gifts - and we were always allowed to go in and choose a book each time we went round.  

My Oma lived to provide and after Opa died she became awfully withdrawn.  Within a short period of time, started to look “old” and seem to lose her joie de vivre.

Both women were the main backbone of their section of my family and I have not one single bad memory of them.  I was in awe of them in so many ways but knew that their arms were always wide open.  They both had their own foibles but they both appeared to have the same strength instilled in them.  A need to provide for their family.  A need to protect their family.  They were my role models and I hope I can be the same for my grandchildren.

Life Begins at 40

40 and fabulous
I am SO not a believer in cliches.  Not ever.  But over the past couple of weeks I have been thrown a few opportunities and curve balls that have made me think that, yeah, maybe life does begin at 40.

I know who I am.  I know what I want.  I think I know how to get it.  Some of it has landed in my lap.  But I'm at a stage in my life where I have the drive and the support to really go for it and attain great results.  I have a number of visions but I'm not at the wide end of the funnel any more.  I'm heading for the narrow end and managing to filter some of the crap out too.  It's a huge relief.

I don't really talk about my "real life work" on here much but a change in my job role has helped me focus in a different way.  And it's totally positive.  I wanted all this to happen years and years ago but I'm a great believer in things happening for a reason.  I now know the reason why it's taken this long for me to get to this point.  I needed everything else to happen to me first.

But even with all that 'life experience' and stability, I still get totally blown away by my family and friends.

pandora bracelet with charms
Firstly, my whole family got together to organise a present for my birthday and completely surprised me.  My husband bought me a Pandora bracelet (that I've been hankering after for years and have owned copies of... but OHMYGOD YOU CAN SO TELL THE DIFFERENCE), Rachel and the girls bought me two charms, Michael took me to town to buy another (glass) charm and my mother-in-law bought me a couple of charms too.  I was definitely caught off guard by it because when  I saw one of our neighbours in town on Monday (our sons are bezzies), she said to me,

I had to laugh the other day.  Your Michael came over after Kev had given you your birthday present and said, "It must have been a good present.  I've not seen my mum kiss my dad for years!"
More PDA's needed in front of the kids, maybe?  Oh, and Jake bought me Thornton's chocolates.  He's been after buying someone Thornton's chocolates for ages and I'm not sure why.  Much appreciated though. *hides scales*

I've also taken stock of my friendship base.  Now that I'm spending more time on t'internet (inevitable) the friendship balance is much heavier on the 'virtual' side than it is on the 'real' side.  And yes, I do know that they exist and they're not all axe murderers because I've met some of them.  Most of them are nice, a few of them I would trust with my life, but some of them are very special and unique.  And, in my usual narcissistic way, I need to share something with you.  Paula sent this to me, via twitter, on my birthday.  She's a frigging genius in many ways.  She makes me howl on Twitter and on her blog - although she only seems to remember to post something when I give her a boot up the arse.  Maybe I'm her muse?

The epic day, that happens only 
Once a year is here 
When we all raise of glass of wine 
Or vodka or some beer 

 For Nickie's one year older now 
And getting older still 
Our gracious lady's reached the point 
She's now over the hill 

It's been quite a successful year 
For her it is no doubt 
Gaining follows, pins and likes 
And ever increasing Klout 

Her blog has gone from strength to strength 
A viewership amassed 
Most influential with each post 
As always, is Typecast 

She still can make a Friday night 
(With nibbles and some fizz) 
A more enjoyable evening 
With her famous #FridayTwiz 

And as always, we love her most 
When she's a rant on Twitter 
She's still our Queen, (not just because 
The crown will only fit her!) 

And so this year, when life begins 
It's more successfully 
New challenges will reap reward 
And well deservedly 

Happy birthday - wishing you 
Recognition and acclaim 
But simply put, without you 
Twitter wouldn't be the same

What Am I Wearing To Cybher?

clothes from simply be, boots from zalando, outfit put together for cybher 2012

What do you think?


Changes Boutique Butterfly Tunic from Simply Be
(that's not me in the picture, by the way)

Changes Boutique Stud Trim Leggings from Simply Be
(really cute stud design on the leg)

Boyfriend Cardigan from Simply Be
(sloppy and comfortable, a bit like me)

Anna Field ankle boots from Zalando
(I have fallen in love with these boots)



Save Money By Entering Competitions!

my family club, money saving tips,
I hope you all enjoyed my Money Saving Tips post that I wrote in conjunction with My Family Club?  Now that the UK is officially in recession again I'm giving their website another push this week as part of my collaboration with them.

The Family Club has a really easy to navigate website which is packed full of money saving ideas, money planners, recipes, travel tips and vouchers for the high street.  But I'd like to point out their competitions section (where you can enter to win an iPad by sharing your top money saving tip!!!)

*whispers beind hand* stay tuned for my own giveaway at the end...


My mum was an enthusiastic 'comper'.  It was more than a hobby but without taking over her life.  She won big - a few holidays, a year's shopping (in vouchers) for a well-known supermarket - and she won small but the achievement was the prize no matter what the worth.  She loved competitions such as "complete this sentence in 15 words or less" as she was a great writer.  These days competitions are so much easier and cheaper to enter if you're online.

But how do you find fab competitions these days?  


TWITTER!  Honestly - that place is rife with competitions.  Use the advanced search page on the Twitter website and pick keywords such as #win, #competition and #giveaway.  Also, consider subscribing to the blog run by Superlucky Di who is very generous with comping hints and tips.  She also hosts a link-up which has a list of all the competitions ending in the current month.
FACEBOOK!  Lots of the brand pages run competitions with different entry mechanisms.  Search for the well known brands using the search bar or just look out for your friends sharing their own entries to competitions (usually by "sharing" information about a competition or "liking" a page).
BLOGS!  Some of your favourite blogs (*cough* including this one *cough*) run giveaways and competitions.  There are usually fewer entrants and more chances of winning when entering to win on a blog.  You may be asked to leave a comment as part of your entry qualification and then earn additional entries by tweeting about the competition, sharing the link on Facebook or signing up to a newsletter.  Sometimes you can enter once a day.

Lets get you into the swing of entering competitions by starting here

[Competition now closed but if you would like 
a copy of the free ebook please email me]

I've got a one-day family ticket (2 adults, 2 or 3 children) to Warwick Castle (RRP approx £80).  This ticket includes all day entry to Warwick Castle PLUS Merlin: The Dragon Tower and The Castle Dungeon.


Balance Me Rose Otto Collection (RRP £35.00).  A heavenly scented, multi-award winning rose otto body wash, intensley hydrating lip salve and super soothing, skin-quenching rose otto body cream.


Balance Me Stellar Face Balm (RRP £18.00).  A multi-tasking pot of super goodness with body-wide dry skin appeal formulated with a rich blend of organic shea butter, virgin and rosehip oil and mango seed butter.




And for every single person that enters I will send you a FREE 25-page ebook written by Debbie O'Connor of Motivating Mum especially for My Family Club so make sure you leave a valid email address when entering the competition.  The ebook will be sent out after the competition closes.


a Rafflecopter giveaway