Glee 4.0

glee
I'm a Gleek, through and through and have used it as a great example of musical re/discovery in the past and bemoaned "The End" when Season 2 finished and I make no secret of my lust for Noah Puckerman now and then but I'm feeling disappointed with Season 4.  There's something not quite right; there's something missing and I can't quite put my finger on it.  

Recently, Sky have been showing repeats of the earlier series', starting right back at the beginning.  It wasn't a slow starter, I still loved the characters just as much and the storylines were just as relevant now as they were four years ago.  Aside:  Is it really four years ago?  Yes, it almost is!!

So where did it all go wrong?  Has it gone wrong?  Can a show outgrow itself?  The setting of a high school determines that there will always be new students ready to incorporate into the Glee club, therefore, in theory, there will be story lines a-plenty but now the cast has split between graduates and new students it seems to have lost its "WOW" factor and a few plot lines seem to have been shoehorned in for the sake of a song and dance, examples being thus:
1.  Blaine's indecision to move back to Dalton Academy to re-join The Warblers.  Wouldn't his parents have something to say about him dropping out and back in of a fee-paying school for a start?
2.  Sue Sylvester's pregnancy seems to have been left open-ended (no pun intended).  I appreciate that there is still plenty of scope for this however the whole of Season 3 was based around how/why/who when it came to the parentage of the baby and we are just supposed to accept this?
3.  Did Puck mention his half-brother before?
4.  When did Sugar get good enough at singing to earn herself the part of Frenchie in the McKinley High version of Grease and why did no-one else from the school get a part in the musical?

Nickie is a loser - glee styleMaybe producer Ryan Murphy needs to revisit the first two series' to see if there is anything missing.  The show was always about losers.  Is there too much 'winning' on the show (and I don't mean in the Charlie Sheen sense of the word) and over-melding of groups of kids that would never truly join a Glee club?  

For what it's worth, I think he totally got it right with The Glee Project because that gave a chance for almost anyone to 'audition' for a part on the show.  A show, hidden away on Sky for the past two years, found the likes of characters such as Rory and Wade/Unique but even the second series of this became a bit cliché when the winner seemed to be a replacement for Finn, even though Finn isn't leaving.

Glee will forever be a groundbreaking programme because it tackles real issues that have been experienced by real people, most of them on the production team or actual cast members/previous auditionees. But where's that spark that ignited my lust for the programme in the first place?

Buy Concert Tickets And Support Community Partnerships

If you're thinking of buying One Direction concert tickets for a family night out or have a penchant for Justin Bieber tickets then you might want to visit StubHub!  The tickets on the website are ones that have been bought by fans but, for one reason or another, cannot attend the event.

Stubhub is owned by Ebay and they pulled together a fabulous "record breaking" infographic that I saw shared on the Kate Takes 5 blog a while back.  They launched in the UK in December 2011 and provide fans with a guaranteed safe place to buy tickets to the theatre and concert events.  There's even a Google Chrome extension that I've seen recommended on the Google Chrome blog for purchasing sports event tickets.  

You might want to take a look at their ethical policy which details their community partnerships section.  It's great to see that engagement and empowerment for deserving youth organisations is being rolled out in the UK too.

This is a sponsored post.  For more details please see my disclosure policy.

The Top Five Benefits of Barcode Scanners

barcode
Every once in a while a great invention comes along that totally transforms the way we go about performing everyday tasks. One such invention is the barcode. Based on configurations of lines of a varying thickness, barcodes have offered an extremely useful way of transmitting data specific to any object to an optical scanner since the mid-20th Century.

We’ve all seen plenty of barcode scanners in our day-to-day lives, at all kinds of retail outlets. It’s only in recent years however, that barcode scanning technology has become widely available to the average person, at home or on the go, through improvements in technology utilising web cams and smartphone technology. This innovation has offered a huge number of benefits to users. Let’s run through our top 5 ways in which bar code scanners are making life easier for regular people, right now:

1       Conveniently valuing and selling goods - The last thing anyone needs is an unnecessary journey of several kilometers - and even further for country folk - for the sake of visiting a store to find out how much their unwanted games, CDs or DVDs are worth. musicMagpie’s use of barcode scanner technology offers the far more attractive alternative of simply letting you scan the barcode of the product in question using your webcam, before letting you know how much it is worth and giving you the option to sell it. Visit www.musicmagpie.com to test this out. The days of bartering with tight-fisted video store owners are far behind us, and the cash value of your bar-coded goods is now just a scan away.
2       Paperless instruction manuals - An ever-growing number of electronic and household goods now come with a barcode subtly incorporated into their design or packaging. These barcodes lead users to a digital instruction manual explaining how to operate or configure the relevent product. Users are able to use shortcuts to search for key words in these documents, allowing for instructions to be found more easily than ever before. Digital manuals are obviously far harder to lose than physical ones and the benefits to the environment are clear, with no paper being used up in their manufacture.
3       Linking objects to the internet - Through scanning barcodes attached to objects - often incorporated into packaging - we can now access web links relating to the product in question. These links often direct users to special promotions, add-ons and bonus content, providing users with a fuller, more immersive experience. Barcode links can be used to enrich content in a variety of mediums, including newspapers and magazines.
4       Comparing prices locally - Several smartphone apps have been developed which allow users to scan the barcodes of products in the high street and view details of how these goods are priced in other local or online outlets. These applications empower consumers with the knowledge of whether or not they’re getting the best deal possible. 
5       Securing healthy diets - Believe it or not, barcode scanners can be a key tool in ensuring your diet is a healthy one. Numerous apps now on the market allow users to scan the barcodes of food products, access nutritional information and consider the foodstuff as part of a diet plan. This hugely simplifies the process of keeping your calorie count under control.

This is a sponsored post.  For more details please see my disclosure policy.

Top Five Gifts for Mother's Day

flowers,
With Mothers Day approaching so quickly everyone begins to panic about what gifts they can buy their mothers this year. For most people they find that they end up buying the same present each year for their mothers and therefore want this year to be different, to buy something that is extra special and thoughtful.


The top 5 gifts for Mother’s Day can vary each year, but the number one gift for everyone seems to be flowers. With a wide variety of flowers available, from the humble daffodil to the more exotic orchid, choosing flowers is a safe choice that will be guaranteed to bring a smile.



The second top gift to buy is clothing; a woman can never have too many clothes. Of course this can be risky if you do not know the type of clothes that your mother would like or her size, but if you do, this is a great gift idea for you. 

Candles and bath essentials are always popular and make the third top gift this mothers day. This is a usual gift for boys to buy their mothers when they do not have a clue of what to buy, but it is actually something that women adore; what could be nicer than a warm bubble bath with a beautifully scented candle to relieve the stresses of the day. Bath essentials are luxuries that mothers may not buy for themselves, so receiving them for mothers day makes the perfect gift.

Jewellery and perfume make number 4 and 5 respectively for top gifts this mothers day. Of course these are two gifts that you usually cannot afford if you are on a budget, but if you have the money to spend, then they are gifts that can be cherished forever. Jewellery can be a very personal choice and therefore to get it right, it is essential that you do some detective work; ask the right questions and take a good look at the style of her current collection. If you pay attention to your mother's dressing table, then it is not too hard to find out her favourite fragrance, or you could take a risk and choose a new perfume that will delight her.

Sometimes even when you are completely stuck for ideas on what to buy, by browsing online you may come across something that you would have never thought of or considered before. A great place to do this on a budget is amazon. The items that you are looking at on amazon do not have to be used, most of them are brand new and just being sold at a cheaper price than they would be in store. Savings at Amazon are outstanding, you can buy things here for up to half the price of what you would on the actual products website.

There are many different gifts that you can buy that mothers will love. This year there are some beautiful gifts at affordable prices being sold in many different stores and on the Internet. Gifts which you should definitely consider are Mothers Day gifts by Achica. At Achica you can find some fantastic gifts from luxury bedding to candles which smell delicious. Not only are the products here fantastic, but at this time of year Achica are offering great deals so that mothers can have the best day possible.

This is a sponsored post.  For more details please see my disclosure policy.

Soundtrack To My Life - Ruth

This week sees the second Eroticon - the UK's sex blogger and erotic writers' conference - and I'm pleased to feature conference founder Ruth (a.k.a. Ruby Kiddell) on Soundtrack To My Life today.  I have got to know Ruth in both her guises over the past two years and she is a very talented writer with a clear vision when it comes to writing erotica and promoting the erotic industry in a positive light.  Her "write sex right" ethos is very powerful.  For now, over to Ruth...


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Cilla Black - Liverpool Lullaby

Long car journeys from Bedford to the wilds of the Scottish Highlands would be passed listening to Spinners tapes and this was one of the songs. I now sing it to my daughter, though replace "belt from your dad" with "kiss from your dad"


Janis Joplin - Piece Of My Heart

The soundtrack of the first time my heart was broken.
The first year at college, he was called Dave.
We're friends now.


P P Arnold - First Cut Is The Deepest

The time my heart was broken after I fell for a man whose heart was already broken.
His name was Michael, he told me I was his perfect woman but he couldn't go out with me.
Not that perfect then.


The Rolling Stones - You Can't Always Get What You Want

Well you can't can you.
But sometimes, more often than you might think or recognise, the universe gives you what you need.


Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby

Starting writing erotica under the pen name Ruby Kiddell changed my life. From the friends I've made, the people I've met and the business I've created.  All of it unexpected. All of it immense fun. As well as the fun I'm extremely proud to have created a conference, a space wherein other people come together and feel united and that they have a voice.

While I've never been shy of speaking my mind, being Ruby has given me a voice and, more importantly, helped others find theirs.

That's 50 shades of awesome.

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For more details about Eroticon you can visit the official website and you can find "Ruby" on Twitter as @eroticnotebook.  Also, you can catch Ruth over at her blog, This Lemonade Life, and on Twitter as @summerlandC.  She's a bit handy with a sewing needle too! 

If you want to join in with Soundtrack To My Life you can complete this form and I'll be in touch when your feature is due to go live.  Click on the mix-tape to the right to read all the "Soundtrack To My Life" entries.

Getting My Filofax Freak On... Again!

I'm getting my Filofax freak on again.  I treated myself to a Temperley for Filofax Ikat personal organiser basically because it was half price in the sale and it's the only time I'd ever be able to afford anything from that range.  I was hoping that this would be my ultimate Filofax (is that possible?) because of the purse/ring binder combo.  

Temperley, Filofax, Diary, Purse,


Coincidentally, this week I read "Is your set up working as planned" on Philofaxy which recommends that you revisit your Filofax eight weeks into the new year to see if your layout is working for you.  For me, one of the joys of using a Filofax is that you can constantly change the way in which you use it.  Because I've recently split my system over two binders (one work, one personal) I don't use a full system for personal use at the moment - it's mainly just a day-to-day diary and a notepad.  Therefore the Temperley should work well, shouldn't it?  I have removed all of the dividers and have inserted two plastic pockets.  I am using two ruler dividers to mark my place in the diary and separate the notepad.

But, fellow Filofax lovers, I often wonder if you share my confusion at the additional papers that we often receive with a new diary?  What I'm actually referring to is the (seemingly) pointless leaves which include:
  • Personal information sheets (in five languages), last year/this year/next year calender, Chinese zodiac years/star sign sheet/birthdays by month (this may be exclusive to the Temperley range as I've never seen them before), marketing/advertising sheets (put them inside the packaging, not the diary?), weights and measures conversion chart, World and time charts, national holiday information, International information (capital city, currency, + or - GMT, dialing code), religious festivals, a world map
It sounds petty but I never use any of these sheets and it seems slightly wasteful; maybe there could be an opt-in/opt-out check box on the website when ordering?  Do you use or remove these sheets yourself? I'm not a fan of the A-Z section that you receive as a compulsory addition to your new diary but have previously received some suggestions for use on my Facebook page.  As a result, I now have a lovely, organised ideas book* which works for me.


Filofax, static diary for the full year or a basic notebook - what's floating your boat this year?


*For those keeping count, yes, that's currently three Filofaxes in use at the moment.

Soundtrack To My Life - Claire

Claire is part of the uber-amazing Cybher team and it's great to feature her on Soundtrack To My Life this week.  I'm glad to say that I've loved getting to know Claire more over the last year and have even pretended to be dead with her in a photo (it's a long story involving late night chats and lots of red wine).  I am loving some of Claire's choices so much because she's introduced a new-to-me artist and prompted me to find an old album.  For now, over to Claire...



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Tracy Chapman - Fast Car  


This was the first song that popped into my head. The lyrics are superb. I think I listened to this a lot when I was stoned... because I can't really pinpoint why I love this song so much.

Ocean Colour Scene - Policemen and Pirates 


After some serious reviewing of the track listing of Ocean Colour Scene's album, Moseley Shoals, I think I am going to have to go with this track. These are one of the most underrated bands ever. Love that album and have sung at the top of my lungs to it a lot driving about. I saw them at V a few years a go and they fooking rocked the place.

Faithless - We Come 1  


I remember being at a Glastonbury festival, the sun had just set ... the place was buzzing and this track came on. Literally hairs on the back of my neck came up, everyone was singing the 1. It was a epic. Must have been 2002.

Angie Stone - So Pissed Off  


I love her. Little Legs (my daughter) loves her. We sing to Angie all the time. I adore love both the Mahogany Soul and Black Diamond albums. Brotha is a wicked track, and No More Rain is beautiful. But I am going to go with this one. Love it. I recommend everyone who doesn't know the albums to get them....

Afrika Bambaata - Soul Sonic Force  


I nearly chose Claire & Friends - It's 'Orrible Being In Love (When You're 8 1/2) as my final track, I was 8 at the time this track came out and because her name was Claire, yadda yadda.... but I can't follow Angie Stone with that! So instead I've looked at the most played songs in my iTunes and other than Angie, it's this one. So that's my last choice. It's cool. Enough said.



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Catch Claire on Twitter as @BumpWearClaire or under one of her many guises - Bad Fiction, Bambino Goodies, The Bump Wear Project and, of course, Cybher.

If you want to join in with Soundtrack To My Life you can complete this form and I'll be in touch when your feature is due to go live.  Click on the mix-tape to the right to read all the "Soundtrack To My Life" entries.

Swearing. It IS big and it IS clever...

parental advisory gif
...especially if you claim you're using it as research for a degree!

Once upon a time, way back in the 1980's, a teacher in high school told a class of twenty-nine 15-year olds that is was neither big nor clever to swear.  She backed this up by explaining that swearing meant you were inserting an extra, unnecessary word into a sentence or using an expletive to replicate true anger.  I thought she should fuck off with her pontificating, as did approximately fourteen of my classmates.

The 40-year old me now realises that she had a point but swearing is just so much fun and really helps you express your exact emotion at that particular time.  Plus, making up swearwords is part of adult creativity.


Today, my mate Vix asked if I'd help her with a survey for her degree.  I am BORED. TO. TEARS. with requests from people to complete a survey to help them with research for their degree but Vix is a bit special in more ways than you need to know so I agreed to humour her.  Plus she said it was a 'swearing survey' and I thought I could take the piss.

It was THE most fun ever and you even get to share your favourite swear word (I swing between TWAT and CUNT BADGER) so I shared it out on Facebook and Twitter.  It was the most popular link I've ever posted and I immediately got some feedback for her:

Ruth:  Ranking obscenities according to offensiveness is my favourite way to spend Friday mornings so far
Tanya:  Disappointed the question asking, "Do you swear?" has only 'yes/no' and no 'fuck, yeah' answer
Jaqui:  That survey has made me realise how much I LOVE swearing!!
Simon:  That was the best fucking survey ever!

I didn't come here to impress none of you motherfuckers
So, if you're a bit bored over the weekend then you can amuse yourself by taking Vix's survey.  You can even make up a profanity for future use if you so wish.  And just so you have somewhere to let off steam, you can let ME know what your favourite swearword is too.  I fancy using a new one.

Thinking About Holidays...

the word 'holiday' written in the sand
It is round about this time of year that I start flicking through the holiday brochures, dreaming about places that I can't afford, places that I'll never see because my husband won't do more than three hours on a plane or package deals that won't break the bank.  I sometimes even start a Pinterest board full of tourist-y type places and the clothes that I'd wear whilst sightseeing.

We usually book last minute holidays and throw it all on the credit card and looking back at this old post I have just been reminded that we even booked to go away with only four days notice! 

We've grabbed some great deals in the past and discovered some places that we never thought we'd visit as a family (Tunisia remains a firm favourite).  I daren't look through holiday brochures and set my sights on something because there may be a better deal just around the corner.  

What about you?   Do you book in advance or wait until the last minute?  Tell me about your best savings and your total holiday disasters in the comments!


Latedeals.co.uk have asked me to share this video with you that promotes the discounts they can provide.  
I'm definitely going to check them out when we start thinking about booking later this year.  




This is a sponsored post.  Please see my disclosure policy for more details.


Stuff That's Making Me Happy

After my car being pronounced dead during its MOT I've needed a bit of cheering up, so here are a few things that have helped lightened the mood over the past few days.

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A Quote


My husband, whilst tucking into a KFC Big Daddy box meal:

"They never seem put enough sauce on these buns but there's always just enough to spill out the other side onto your jumper."


A Collage

vision board - 12.02.13

You can read more about why I am doing this here and I tasked myself to find a new notebook this week to start my weekly vision boards.  However, I was sent the most gorgeous notebook from Clinique as a "thank you" for taking part in a G+ Hangout with them last week (also see "Pretties" further down).  I'm a great believer in things happening for a reason and this notebook found its way to me.  If our paths cross this year at any time I may ask you to fill in a page or two for me.  I'll explain at the time. 

A Tweet

twitter

I wish someone would tell me about my system.  It sounds amazing!  I could bottle it and sell it.


Pretties

beauty products

Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus (a gift from Clinique - see above), some Miners eggshell blue nail varnish (found at the bottom of my colour basket), some pale blue glitter top coat (ditto) and perfume samples (Gaga, Spears, Kardashian) from Latest In Beauty (a mini treat once a month that costs me a £1.50 text).


Pancake Day

I love pancake day!  We should eat pancakes more often.  Here's my fool proof batter receipe:

FOUR heaped dessert spoons of PLAIN flour
TWO eggs
ENOUGH milk to make a runny batter
Mix like fuck with a balloon whisk 

This batter recipe is the same for my Yorkshire Pudding/Toad in the Hole recipe only you use slightly more milk.


A New Job

the high tea cast logo

I'm one of the new features writers for The High Tea Cast.  Can I get a WHOOP!?
  I fell in love with the HTC girls at Cybher last year, became slightly addicted to their podcasts and their blogzine and have seen them take their online presence to new heights over the past nine months or so.  It's a huge honour to be part of the team.  The only drawback is that they are making me view humorous pictures of cats, which leads me to...

A Tumblr Account

I see the Eurythmics, Janet Jackson and Footloose and...

 ...all is right again with the world.  For now.



Soundtrack To My Life - Lynn

This week it's a pleasure to welcome Lynn to Soundtrack To My Life.  Our paths originally crossed during "that" Mumsnet experience but, gladly, that's all water under the bridge and we have since connected on most of the other social media platforms.  It's inevitable when you are fellow bloggers, really.  More about Lynn at the end of the post but, for now, here are her song choices...


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Brotherhood of Man - Save All Your Kisses for Me 


My first musical memory. Cheesy Europop – no wonder I grew up loving Cliff Richard and Abba. It was my Mum’s fault, honest. I can still remember the sheer joy of realising that they were singing to ME. The last line, ‘.. even though you’re only three’ was written for me, I was sure.

It is always handy if the question comes up in pub quiz, ‘What year did Brotherhood of Man win the Eurovision Song Contest?’ ‘1976!’, I cry. ‘I was only three’.


The Carpenters - Close to You 


My parents bought a new stereo system with tapes and I was handed down the old red leather bound record player. You could load several records and allow them to drop down individually in a pre-historic shuffle. I would listen to Karen’s sweet soaring voice while lying on my Holly Hobby covered bed.


Blue Pearl - Naked in The Rain 


When I was 17 years old I left home and went to work in an outdoor centre in the Highlands. The local bar had a tiny dance floor and we would descend on it at weekends to drink cocktails and dance till we dropped. This was my favourite song and the one that EVERYONE had to dance to or I would sulk.


Roy Black - Ganz in Weiss


An accidental favourite. When we got married, we asked the DJ to play a 'Wiener Waltzer', a Viennese Waltz. He asked for CD, and we handed him one that had Ganz in Weiss as the second track. For some reason he played this song, and it set the tone for the rest of the wedding. From that moment on, the dance floor was full, our German and Scottish families mixed and mingled and a jolly good time was had by all.


Rod Stewart - The Way You Look Tonight 


When my daughter was a tiny baby, I'd waltz around our tiny little flat with her. This song was her lullaby, and that of my son who was born two years later. They are now pre-teens but still ask me to sing this song sometimes. I can never resist tickling their noses at the line, '... and that laugh that wrinkles your nose, touches my foolish heart'

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Lynn is author of Learn Twitter In 10 Minutes.   She also blogs about anything and everything at Salt and Caramel, writing very thought-provoking posts.  You can catch her on Twitter as @LynnCSchreiber.

If you want to join in with Soundtrack To My Life you can complete this form and I'll be in touch when your feature is due to go live.  Click on the mix-tape to the right to read all the "Soundtrack To My Life" entries.

The ULTIMATE lip-sync video

I find some shit good stuff whilst wandering around the internet but THIS tops it all.  
Reader, I give you the ULTIMATE lip-sync video.
It's even better than my own.

AND it stars...

 One member of lip-sync group extraordinaire, Milli Vanilli
One star of the fabulous TV show, Bergerac
One Rikki Lake
One Norm from Cheers
One Paul McKenna
A Nightmare On Elm Street
One 'Allo 'Allo cast member
One Judd Nelson *sigh*
Two members of Right Said Fred
The Incredible Hulk

and so much more!

It's the video that just keeps on giving

You can thank me in the comments...




How online dating can help you meet someone who shares your lifestyle

When you have children, strong religious views or a cultural heritage that is very important to you, you may want to only meet other singles who share your lifestyle. But where do you meet these people? Through your place of worship? Through shared groups. There is another option...

Signing up to a dating site can allow you to meet people who share your values. Here are some examples of how online dating can help you find that special someone.

Meeting someone who shares your faith

online dating
If your religion is important to you and you want to find someone special who shares your faith, online dating sites can help you narrow down your search. If you want to meet other Christian singles, the online database will match you with potential partners based on important values like kindness, spirituality, family goals and traditionalism.

It is easy to find people who are looking for the same things in life as you are – focussing on what is truly important in a relationship.


Searching for a particular ethnicity

If you have a strong cultural heritage and finding someone of the same ethnicity is important to you, you can search for singles who have the same background as you.

For example, if you are exclusively looking for Pakistani relationships eHarmony can help you find a tailor-made match, while narrowing the profiles down to those of Pakistani origin.

If you are looking for Pakistani love in the UK, online dating sites will help you find people who you share values, beliefs and attitudes with.

When searching for potential partners the sites will match you up with people who have been brought up with the same religious and cultural practices, speak the same languages and have the same family expectations as you.

Meeting other single parents

online dating
If you are a single parent, it can be hard to maintain a relationship with somebody who doesn’t have children, as they may not understand where your priorities lie. Online dating sites have areas that are dedicated to single parents, enabling you to connect with someone who is mature and understands how hard it can be to make time for a relationship.

Dating online can be a much easier solution when looking for a partner, because you can find people from the comfort of your own home and you can network with people in your own time.

Be upfront about your needs and priorities in your profile and you will find people who respect and understand your lifestyle. You can take your time talking to people over email before meeting with them, so you can help to ensure that you won’t be wasting your time when you decide to go out for a first date.

If you are looking to meet singles who fit in with your lifestyle, online dating can be a great way to narrow down your search. Be upfront about what is important to you and what you need out of a relationship and before you know it you could be sharing a fantastic date with someone special!




This is a sponsored post.  Please see my disclosure policy for more details.    





A Postcard From Ghana

It doesn't feel like 25 years since the first Red Nose Day, does it?

If you've been following any of my social media channels (TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus) you will have seen me sharing updates from a group of blogging friends who have been reporting live from Ghana.  Tanya, Annie and Penny have shadowing Davina McCall, Jonathan Ross and the amazing Comic Relief team seeing how donations have been used.  

comic relief, red nose day, virtuous women's bakery, ghana,
Hi Nickie
These children are all in the nursery attached to the Virtuous Women's Bakery.  Essentially the African Women's Fund donated money to the bakery to buy ovens so they could expand.  The women themselves set up the nursery to ensure their children are safe and off the streets when they are at work.
T

I was sent this digital postcard from Tanya after she visited the Virtuous Women's Bakery on Monday.  I love everything about this project and Tanya explains more on her blog.  Please visit all their blogs (links below) to read more about their visit.


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This is a digital postcard sent from TeamHonk 
during their travels with Comic Relief in Ghana celebrating #goodwork.

For the past 25 years the money raised through Red Nose Day has been changing the lives of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa. Let’s Keep Up the Good Work. Find out how at rednoseday.com

For other digital postcards please do check out the linky on www.teamhonk.org


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A Vision For The Future?

At work, where I never really mention what I do because I try to keep it separate from blogging stuff, we have an activity which centres around creating vision boards.  It took ages for me to buy into this, mainly because the only clear examples we can find on YouTube to demonstrate the ethos behind it are from mad Americans who probably should be on infomercials selling milk carton openers or juicers.

If you've never come across vision boards before let me try and explain without looking like a mad American who should be on infomercials...  You create a collage by cutting out pictures and words from magazines, newspapers, downloading/printing images from the internet, real photographs... anything which represents your thoughts or the theme behind your vision board. 

vision board, february, 2013, We strip this back and use the vision boards as part of our discussion work.  During our first session the students are given free rein.  Everyone - and I mean everyone - turns their nose up at the idea in the beginning but let young people loose with a few magazines, some scissors and a pot of glue and, before you know it, they have opened up and are talking honestly without realising it.  It helps to build confidence and motivation and we build the vision boards into a goal setting activity.

But there's a drawback. I've become slightly addicted to vision boards.  I'm constantly ripping out pages from magazines because an image leaps out at me.  I love tearing headlines from newspapers because I think the wording is so fitting for my mood right at that moment.  My zip-lock pouch in my Filofax is where they get stuffed ready to sort out later; I suppose it's a form of scrapbooking on a personal level.  

This is the board I constructed today.  I was trying to focus on what is important to me in 2013 but what I have now thought about is taking this one step further.  I've seen some really amazing notebooks-come-scrapbooks featured on my travels around the internet so I'm going to buy a new notebook and use one page per week for ideas, visions, moods and... well, anything.  

And I'll probably blog about it, obviously, because of that red sticker, right in the middle of today's board.

Soundtrack To My Life - John (or Peter)

This week's Soundtrack To My Life comes from John (or is it Peter? See his Twitter profile).  We 'met' online one Friday night when I was under the guise of my alter ego, Friday Twiz.  John (or Peter) has recently moved to the other side of the world and is enjoying a new life over in Australia.  Here are his song choices...



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Kylie Minogue – Can't Get You Out Of My Head 


Being eighteen years old, gay, and liable to spending a great deal of time in one nightclub or another leads to one hearing (and dancing to!) a great deal of Kylie Minogue, but this song attached itself to my life more than any other. 

I first heard it while on holiday in Brugge, Netherlands, where I saw the video on the television in the hotel room. I was enthralled by the contrast of the floaty white fabric against the harsh red plastic of her back-up dancers' costumes, and was intrigued by the oddly melancholy feel of an obvious club hit. Later in the year the song was everywhere and I particularly remember it being blasted out of every ride and attraction at Hull Fair (Europe's largest travelling fun fair); it was truly inescapable. 

Given a relift by being mashed-up with New Order's “Blue Monday”, it became a favourite at Poptastic Leeds, an old haunt of mine, where the DJ invariably performed the dance moves on stage.


Moloko – Forever More


Not only part of the soundtrack to my life, but the soundtrack to many hours spent on the M62. I lived in Leeds and worked in Hull and drove between the two cities a couple of times a week. My car didn't have a CD player; only a tape deck, and my only tape was Moloko's “Statues” album, whose runtime, start to finish, was the same as my journey time.

 In either direction the track “Forever More” started as I hit the motorway. Its pumping, relentless beat pushed my foot down on the accelerator and always spurred me on, and in one direction told me I was definitely on the way home.


Cher – One by One


I'm not a particular fan of love songs. That is until I hear one with a line that expresses what love actually feels like; then I'm reduced to tears. 'I know that I could never love any other man' is that line in this song. 

I had it on constant repeat in 1995 when I didn't really know what love was all about. Nearly twenty years later I finally know what that line means: it's joy, jubilation, desperation and despair wrapped up into ten words. Cher's effortless vocal glides over the lyric and its dreamlike quality reminds me as much of beautiful summers in love as it does of the heartbreak of being separated by circumstance.


Ace of Base – Don't Turn Around 


One evening in the mid-nineties I was at home with my mum; we had the house to ourselves and we were playing with the brand new CD player. It was our first one and we had only three CDs: a Doris Day collection, REM's “Automatic for the People” and “Happy Nation” by Ace of Base. That night had its second track, a cover of Aswad's “Don't Turn Around” on continuous repeat as we sat in the kitchen and learnt the words. Without the help of Smash Hits magazine, or even a pen and paper, it took us all night, but the words and the memory of the evening have stayed with me since.


Whigfield – Saturday Night 


July 1994 and I was sitting in the back seat of a taxi on the way to the hospital, where my cousin had just been born. My sister was in the middle, and to her left was Auntie Sue. Whigfield's “Saturday Night” came on the radio and the line that Auntie Sue picked up on was “ … pretty baby,” and she initiated a discussion about whether or not the newborn would indeed be a pretty baby.

Fast-forward eight years to my first week at university, and Whigfield was the headline act at the Freshers' Ball. After a night of beer in plastic cups and long queues for the toilet, Whigfield arrived on stage. Half an hour of 'new material' did nothing for the party atmosphere, but finally she played “Saturday Night”. At the back of the arena I started doing the dance – THE dance – and others around me followed suit and it spread forward. Weeks later I became friends with a wonderful guy who told me the same story of the evening, only he initiated the dance at the front! Some friendships start before you even meet.


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You can find John (or Peter) on Twitter as @supercroup and he also has a blog - An Aussie Feast (via England) - from which I'm going to steal some of his recipes.   

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