The Gallery : Outside My Front Door

This blog post is for the Weekly Gallery that Tara over at "Sticky Fingers" is running.   Use a picture you already have or a picture that you've taken especially for the theme that best fits the prompt.  Post it on your blog and write about it.

 This week's theme is "Outside My Front Door".

I live in an ordinary street, in a plain end-terraced house with no garden.  You've all seen that type of property before so hold my hand whilst we cross the road, walk up this little alley way and onto the tow path of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.  The Blackburn Basin is approximately 200 meters from our front door; it is a series of six locks and is a lovely area for walks.

Leeds-Liverpool Canal at Blackburn - autumn

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Plastic Fantastic

There's a new award/meme being bounced around the blogosphere (created by Tattoo'd Mummy)  and I've been nominated by Nova at Cherished By Me.  The rules are that you must list five fictional characters that you would... well, you know... *cough*mumble*ahem*  (remember - fictional characters - not the actor), then pass the meme on to five other people.

1.  Puck from Glee
I do not need to explain why I would jump his bones... just look!!!

2.  John Bender from The Breakfast Club
I'm sensing a "bad boy" theme here already...

I'd let him look for cobwebs...

4.  Matt Damon as himself
in the "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" video  by Sarah Silverman

5.  Andrew Stone of Starman 
he may not be fictional but he is certainly is fabulous

I tag the following lucky people:
Emily O at Babyrambles
Manda at Flying Start Magazine (maybe something to start the new blog off with?)
Paula at Battling On

*NB:  this blog post was written with my tongue firmly stuck in my cheek


Musical Monday

This little gem was posted to my Facebook wall last week. 
Yes, I collect strange friends...
(lyrics below)

I'm My Own Grandpa

Guy Lombardo

Now many many years ago when I was twenty-three
I was married to a widow who was pretty as can be
This widow had a grown-up daughter who had hair of red
My father fell in love with her and soon they too were wed

Oh I'm my own grandpa
I'm my own granpa
It sounds funny I know,
But it really is so
Oh I'm my own grandpa

This made my dad my son-in-law and changed my very life
My daughter was my mother 'cause she was my father's wife
To complicate the matter even though it brought me joy
I soon became the father of a bouncing baby boy

My little baby then became a brother-in-law to Dad
And so became my uncle, though it made me very sad
For if he was my uncle, then that also made him br'ther
Of the widow's grown-up daughter who was also my stepmother

Father's wife then had a son who kept them on the run
And he became my grandchild, for he was my daughter's son
My wife is now my mother's mother and it makes me blue
Because altho' she is my wife, she's my grandmother too

Now if my wife is my grandmother, then I'm her grandchild
And every time I think of it, it nearly drives me wild
For now I have become the strangest case I ever saw
As husband of my grandmother, I am my own grandpa 


Show Me Your Drawers - the Spring Cleaning Meme

I've just had to search for a piece of paper that I knew was somewhere in the house; it was most likely to be in the 'Junk Drawer' in the kitchen.  If anything is lost in this house the first place to look is usually the Junk Drawer and I bet almost every house has something similar.

This is a photo of the Junk Drawer BEFORE I found what I was looking for:

What exactly was in there (it was like Dr Who's TARDIS) is the following;
Photos (printed out but never used in a collage that I was making), Christmas present labels, a Gold snooker club membership card (mine), bubble wrap and envelopes of varying sizes for eBay, a mouse mat that is no longer used, numerous take away menus, four maps (2 for Great Britain, 1 for the Forest of Bowland & Ribblesdale and 1 for Preston & Blackpool), a CD-Rom version of the Highway Code, a book of old views of Preston, 2 Orange sim cards (never used), 2 bingo dabbers (well used), a consent form from the hospital from when my son had nasal surgery last year, a nasal spray used after said surgery, a bag of Post Office receipt from a selling spree on eBay about 14 months ago, a webcam disc and manual (we no longer have the webcam), instructions for the digital timer on the lizards' vivarium's, the instruction booklet for our new George Foreman grill, various bills (council tax, gas, water), The Complete Guitar Player Book 1, the newspaper pull-out section from 2007 with my daughter's GCSE results in, a copy of an article from when Prince William visited son #2's school last year, son #1's mock GCSE results, various school reports, a revision guide for son #1, an emergency birthday/party present and label, an 'activities for young people' leaflet, son #2's British Amateur Gymnastics membership and associated information, 3 cross-stitch projects to be displayed or given as presents, a pottery tile picture of a flower, an unused index folder, an empty photo frame, various certificates from school and two sets of autographs from the dance group Flava.

This is what the Junk Drawer looks like now:

I never did find that piece of paper... but I managed to have a bloody good clear out!!  So just to make sure that I'm not the only person following in the footsteps of Mr Trebus, I would like to ask three people to "show me their drawers".  They then have to ask three people to do the same and pass this on in the traditional meme style.

I tag:
Paula at Battling On
Julia at JfB57


Raising Awareness - Bullying UK

Recently, my attention has been drawn towards the UK's leading anti-bullying charity - Bullying UK - and their attempt to use social networking to raise awareness and support over half a million people a year.

Bullying UK is a web-based charity run by founder and Chief Executive John with the help of Liz and Stuart.  They promote their services through their website and by using social networking:
on Facebook - as
on Twitter - as @BullyingUK
They are reliant totally on public funding and fund raising activities with their running costs at just £50,000 a year.  Hang on a minute... that means they are supporting each person for approximately 10p per person.  That is amazing!

However, we all know that the recent recession has hit everyone hard and it's not easy to find the spare cash to donate to worthwhile causes such as this.  Nor does their budget doesn't stretch to fantastic television campaigns or hiring extra staff to help with local promotion and any monies raised goes to supporting as many people as possible.

Here is what John has to say:

We support 500,000 people a year and need only £50,000 a year to do it. We were founded 11 years ago as a 100% web powered charity where the aim was to help as many people as possible for the lowest cost we can.
I think we proved that a different form of charity one that dosent suck up millions of pounds to help only thousands of people can work. Sadly we have always struggled to bring in donations from the general public and the government refuse to fund any of our work because we have asked tough questions of their policies.
This year what with the financial crisis has really hammered what little money we had coming in, we only have one member of staff (ME) and i just think that given that how efficient we are and how little money we need to do it some people out their must be able to help.
Problem is one person can only knock on so many doors per day and chase down leads never know if it’s the right use of time.
Any donations no matter how small will really help and if theirs a business out their that wants to make a tax efficient donation that would be really good as well.

So what can YOU do to help?

1.  You can donate directly by clicking the DONATE button on this widget
Can you spare £2 a month?  That's about the price of a coffee or less that the cost of a pint in the pub.  Or just a small one-off donation would be fantastic.  And don't forget to claim Gift Aid if you're eligible.

2.  If you're on Twitter use the hashtag #savebullyinguk in a couple of your tweets to raise awareness

3.  Retweet this blog post or share it across the internet using the gadget over there --> 

4.  Write a blog post of your own (or copy mine) to spread John's message.  If just 10 people read this blog post and share it with ten of their friends, and so on, the message is read by thousands of people in a short space of time.

Simple, isn't it?

And finally, if you've ever witnessed bullying or have been a victim of bullying then you'll know that the type of support that John and his team offer is invaluable.  Isolation and helplessness can be a thing of the past by using resources and help like this.

If you work in the media and would like to get in touch with John and the team, please tweet them at @BullyingUK

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Why I will not be switching my lights off for Earth Hour

The World Wildlife Fund are promoting their annual "Earth Hour" which is due to take place on Saturday 27th March at 8.30pm (local time).  Whilst the positive promotion of this event ticks all the "environmental friendly" boxes, surely the surge from the switching back on of lights at 9.30pm will cancel out most of the "conserved" energy? After all, we've all heard of the power surge after a popular programme on television!! Oh, and don't forget that no major power company will be "switching off" and even if they did, they have preserved energy.

You all know I'm no eco-warrior but I'm not a planet abuser either.  I recycle as much as I can but I have to drive a car to get to work (and there's no way round it).  I tried to make my house more "energy efficient" but the walls are too weak to have cavity wall insulation (the house was built around 1900).  *shrugs*  

This is not a scientific or a protest post, it's just about what I am not doing because I don't think it's worth it.  Instead, I shall look at this picture and think "oh, how beautiful"...

Earth Lights

Edited to add:  I will save an hour's worth of energy by moving my clocks forward one hour tonight (Saturday) in line with the start of British Summer Time so everyone is a winner...


The Gallery : Me

This blog post is for the Weekly Gallery that Tara over at "Sticky Fingers" is running.   Use a picture you already have or a picture that you've taken especially for the theme that best fits the prompt.  Post it on your blog and write about it.

 This week's theme is "Me".

For me this is difficult as I am a very insecure person (yes, I really am... honestly - oh SOD OFF!!!) and I really dislike my photograph being taken.  There are whole chunks of my life history missing because I was either hiding from the camera or hiding behind the camera.

These two photos have to be my favourite shots from my teenage years.  They just encapsulate the whole of the 80s for me.
Photobucket      Photobucket
(l) with my best friend, Vikki, taking part in a 3-legged pub crawl for charity
(r) reluctantly, somewhere in France, on a family caravan holiday

I also love to see comparisons of people over the years so managed to lose a whole evening the other day to this website (take a look - it's great!).  I've got a couple of my own... please don't laugh too hard...

What a difference four years makes!
From first year to fourth year at high school...
From all innocent to all-knowing.

My prison passport photos
(l) 2007 (r) 1997

Anyway, I've grown up and everything now (stop laughing at the back!!) and have realised that what I see isn't necessarily what you see and that I'm obviously more critical of myself.

And this is the me I see now - 

Bitch, lover, child, mother and Nana of two -
all accomplished by the age of 37!!

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The Writing Workshop Dream Factory

Whilst reading (and snorting rather loudly at) Manda's blog post yesterday about what she read in her daughter's Literacy book, I didn't think that there would be something similar in my son's Project book tonight at his parent's evening.  He is writing about Henry VIII and without actually "translating", I'm sure you can see why I laughed out loud at this piece.

...Henry nether gave eny money to the poor he kept all of it to his self - he also devorsed his wives because she looked like a house.

I despair... and I throw my hands up and raise my eyes to the heavens.  Remember the British Telecom adverts with Maureen Lipman back in the 1980's?  Well that's me - but I'm not Jewish!!
I don't know where I've gone wrong; all my kids are the same.  They don't have neat handwriting, they can't spell and they don't really like writing for any length of time.  Part of me believes that this is the down-side to the digital age that we live it - everything these days can be typed onto a screen... and many schools today have interactive whiteboards.  I know that they have all had the weekly spelling tests but there doesn't seem to be the need for accurate spelling - is that because of the auto-spell-checker incorporated into writing applications on computers these days.  I have even caught myself dithering over the spelling of a word (for example: definitely/definately) when actually handwriting (I know - shock, horror) something and, in a weird sort of way, I expect a red wiggly line to appear underneath it if it is spelt incorrectly.

So all this leads me to consider what my children will be able to do when they move on to the next stage of their lives.  If they can't write/spell what the frig can they do!?!?!

Rachel:  I need a translator to decipher her texts but she's not as bad as she could be - probably because she knows it annoys me.  She's a young mum now and is concentrating on her baby babies child(ren) and she has already expressed a wish to return to college when they are both at school full time.  She will only by 24 years old by then but she has no idea what do aim for other than to complete her motor mechanics course.  In the Writing Workshop Dream Factory she will find a way to use her drama training and her singing voice.  I'd love for her to be "discovered" whilst singing karaoke in some scruffy little pub in town, be given a record contract and Andi Peters would be filmed pressing the START button at the CD factory in Blackburn when she released her first album. 

Michael:  He leaves school this year and is so laid back that he's almost horizontal.  I've previously blogged about his um-ing and ah-ing about joining the armed forces and that moment has passed.  He actually thought he could take a "gap year" and not actually do anything - but he still wanted to live here, to be fed, watered, have access to the electric for his X-Box and computer, etc without any money crossing hands!!  That was only until I told him that I'd expect him to pay board money from the 1st of September if he didn't have a job or wasn't attending college.  He's now signed up for a two year motor mechanics course (do we see a theme recurring here?) at the local college.  In the Writing Workshop Dream Factory he will invent a new X-Box game.  He will be the modern day Matthew Smith and his game will be the 21st Century equivalent to Manic Miner - only better.

Jake:  As you all know, he is going to high school in September and I still have a little bit of influence over him, although that is slowly waning.  Currently his main ambition is to be either a demolition man or a free runner.  He attended an Acrobatic Gymnastics club for two years and he has amazing potential therefore in the Writing Workshop Dream Factory he will enter the 2016 Olympics with the British Gymnastics team and win at least one Gold medal... maybe two or three.

They can only be master of their own fate and their own future.  I just hope that I'm nudging them in the right direction.

This blog post was written for Workshop #18, Prompt 3 - What do you secretly dream of your children doing? - run by Josie at Sleep Is For The Weak and you can find all the other Workshop posts >> here <<

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Stand Up For The Key Change

Ok, I'm sat here on a Sunday evening, I've watched the first part of Dancing On Ice, I've saved my part-written assignment to my pen drive to have a look at during my lunch break tomorrow and I'm having a nosy on Twitter before I watch a film.

Most of my Twitter friends are denouncing the ITV programme - Boyzone: A Tribute To Stephen Gately.  I'd decided not to watch this because I have never been a massive fan of Boyzone but, you know me, I can't resist a quick flick over to see what is so bad.

I wish I'd not bothered as it is more awful that even I envisaged.  The remaining band members are reading an autocue badly talking in between songs and they keep calling their departed band member "Steo" for some strange reason.  Every time they sing they are out of tune and they've got guest singers who are also crap; everyone looks really uncomfortable.  There are video clips interspersing all the bad singing and 'tributes' from people who apparently knew Stephen well (his sister probably did, so I'll let them off that one but Christopher Biggins and Paul O'Grady?  Purlease!!).  In fact, the highlight of the show has to be when Mika joined the remaining four members of Boyzone to sing "Gave It All Away" towards the end of the show.  Maybe they should enlist him as their new member?

I have a feeling that Boyzone were supposed to be returning to the pop world, in a move not dissimilar to Take That, and this programme was booked to be part of their promotion, however, Stephen's early departure went and put the mockers on that so we were left with this debacle.


A Haiku For My Coldsore

I have this coldsore.
I wish it would fuck right off
and never come back

And there's me professing not to do poetry.  I bet you're stood back in amazement now, aren't you?


Don't Worry... Be Happy

I've been tagged for an "Happy 101 Award" by Susie at NewDayNewLesson which is good really because I wanted to write something tonight as I'm still on a high from yesterday's blog post.  So, first of all, thank you to Susie and my tagged victims recipients will be at the bottom of the post.

Happiness is a science (apparently) and can be measured by a simple question: "Are you happy?"  What I define as 'happy' will probably not register on your scale of happiness but the theory is the same for all of us - we all have triggers that activate the emotion.

So, I have to list ten things that make me happy.  And now I've sat down to do it, it's not that easy...

  1. Shiny New Things - just anything really.  This month we are buying a new carpet for the stairs/landing and a new fire for the main lounge.  Boring *yawn* but it's NEW and I am just short of doing baby jumps and clapping my hands in excitement.
  2. Writing - I'm beginning to find myself with my writing and I'm pleased with the direction that it is taking. *think positive thoughts*
  3. Sunshine - yesterday was the first time we had the windows open at work and the sun streaming in and it actually felt like Spring.  I think that's why I'm feeling so positive at the moment.
  4. Money - oh yes... I am that shallow.  I have money; I spend it.  It's a vicious circle but Shiny New Things bought with Money makes me happy.  Simples.
  5. Social Networking - I am a self-confessed social networking whore and I love it.  I've blogged about it many times before.  My friends live inside my computer and, yes, I realise that this makes me seem very sad and that is an oxymoron.  I do not care.
  6. My Magic Eyes - my new continuous wear contact lenses are my new magic eyes and I do love them so.  I can see when I wake in the morning, I can watch TV in bed and I can rid myself of the dent on the bridge of my nose that seems to be a permanent fixture when I'm wearing glasses
  7. Music - I could not live without my music.  Radio, YouTube, mp3 player, Windows Media Player, satellite music channel, whatever.  It doesn't have to be current... just melodic.  I also love to sing along and I'm not a good singer.  Ride in my car with me at your own risk.
  8. Neat Eyebrows - I have recently become a fan of "threading".  Oh my god, IT HURTS but it looks FABULOUS!!  I have a great little loyalty deal with the beauty therapist at Debenhams too... go five times and get the sixth for free.  Happy days.
  9. Fridays - yes, I love my job but Friday evenings are my "kick back" time and whether I'm networking socially, going out to the pub, watching something on the TV or having friends round it is something for me to look forward to.
  10. Wine.  See below:
The philosophy professor had a few things lying in front of him on the desk. When class began, he took a big empty jar and filled it to the brim with stones. He asked the students whether or not the glass was full; they assented.  

Then, the professor took a box of pebbles and emptied it over the jar. The pebbles, of course, filled the space between the stones. He asked the students again whether or not the glass was full. Some of them laughed, but all of them said yes. 

Now, the professor took a box of sand and poured it over the jar.  Naturally, the sand filled the remaining space between the pebbles.  "Well", the professor said, "I want you to perceive that this glass is like your life! 

The stones are the important things in your life: your family, your partner, your children, your health - things which, if your life would be deprived of everything else, would still make your life complete and fulfilled.   The pebbles are less important things, such as your work, your house, or your car.  The sand is all the little details in life. If you would fill the sand first into the glass, then there would be no room left for the important things. It is the same in life: if you spend your energy first on the minor things, then you won't have any left for the important things. 
So, first pay attention to the important stones in your life, they are the only things that really count. There will always be time left for work, household, and parties." 

After class, one of the students took the glass, filled with stones, pebbles, and sand, and poured a mug of beer into it. Now it was really full. 

And the moral is: no matter how filled your life is, there is always room for alcohol! 

So, who to tag?  This is going to be completely random...

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