Soundtrack To My Life - Ruth

soundtrack to my lifeToday I am pleased to host Ruth's Soundtrack To My Life.  Ruth and I are both members of the 'parent blogger' network that has boomed over the past couple of years and if the internet had existed in it's present availability when my children were younger, I think I might have had her tagline... "Googling my way through motherhood".

Ruth is a "Geek Mummy" in the true sense of the word with a love for all things tech, also running a YouTube channel and an audio blog with her husband alongside her regular blog.  But, for now, it's over to Ruth for her music choices which I've really enjoyed pulling together as these are all fantastic tunes and I've discovered a song that I never heard before (Ruth's #4 choice).


Bonnie Tyler: Total Eclipse of the Heart

This was the first proper single I bought. I've just worked out that I was 12 when it was number 1 in the charts. I remember saving up my pocket money, heading in to our local WHSmiths and walking out with the 7" single which I then played to death on my parents' old radiogram. I guess I was a rock chick from then on!

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Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell

When I was 17 my Dad announced that he was leaving home. I had known deep down that my parents marriage was not brilliant, but didn't expect him to leave. I didn't speak to him for a year after he left, and our relationship is still tenuous. My friends at the time were really supportive, although none of them had experienced the same thing. My very best friend's parents invited me to go to France on holiday with them that summer, and I have very strong memories of lying on the beach with my friend and I listening to this album non-stop on her WalkMan. It did me the world of good to get away from home for a while.

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Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

If there's a band that is the "band of my life" it would have to be Queen. The first full album I ever bought was "A Night At The Opera", mostly for Bohemian Rhapsody which is just an epic track. I was at University when Freddie Mercury died, and I think it was the first celebrity death that I really remember in that "where were you when you heard?" kind of way. I was in the committee of our University Film Society at the time, and we decided that we wanted to show "Queen's Greatest Flix" at our annual Film Ball. I got the job of calling Queen's management agency to get their permission, as it wasn't something we could get through our film distributor. They were great, and allowed us to show the video publicly for a nominal fee. I got the feeling no-one had ever asked if they could do that before.

I sadly never got to see Queen play live, but I did see the next best thing - I was in Hyde Park for the amazing Queen + Paul Rogers concert the week after the London bombings (it was supposed to be the day after but they postponed it a week). Great show.

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Martina McBride - In My Daughter's Eyes

I never wanted kids. All through my twenties and in to my early thirties I believed I would be child free. And then our world changed when my husband's father died suddenly and very unexpectedly at the age of 60. That kind of thing makes you re-evaluate things a lot, and I ended up, after much consideration, deciding that I did want a family after all. Sadly things then did not come easily, and we ended up having to have IVF to be able to conceive. My two children are little miracles, and I am so pleased to have them. This song sums up how I feel about being a mother. Watch out - it's a real tearjerker.

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Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You'll Dance

It's been hard restricting myself to just 5 songs, as there are so many more that have special meanings for me. I think of this song as a ""forward looking"" one, rather than one I look back on. This song represents my approach to life, and if I could leave one message for my kids, bring them up with just one philosophy, it would be the sentiment of this song. "If you have a choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance". Seize the moment, take the opportunities. That's how I'm trying to live my life, and I hope it's how they'll live theirs too."

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soundtrack to my life
Catch Ruth over at Geekmummy or Parental Geekery, on AudioBoo or YouTube and tweet her as @geekmummy.

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.


... then, over at Gransnet

gransnet logo

I'm over at Gransnet today, talking about having five generations in our family.  You can find the article here (or click the image) and I'd love to know what you think about it.

Monday Favourites : Tony Hawks, Gangnam Style plus a Twitter birthday announcement

gangnam style

If you haven't heard this version of Gangnam Style yet, you have to listen.  Tony Hawks giving it large on BBC Radio 4's "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue".

But seriously, for my younger readers, you whippersnappers, you - Radio 4 isn't all Shipping Forecasts, The Archers and Women's Hour.  Have a scroll through their schedule and tune into great shows such as The News Quiz (gotta love a bit of Sandy Toksvig), Just A Minute and The Now Show.  I'm sure you can even set up your BBC iPlayer with reminders or downloads.  Enjoy!

@nickie72 TwBirthday, twitter,
In other news, I've just been told it's my TwBirthday.  FOUR YEARS ON TWITTER! And apparently my Godfather is Stephen Fry (hit the image to see my TwBirthday page).  Which means that I can regale this 'conversation' again... probably 


PS... If you're not used to reading Twitter conversations then read from the bottom up and let's not mention the fact that he didn't actually tag me in the conversation.  I know he was talking to me.

PPS... Yes, I do know how sad I am by having this in my 'twitter favourites' so shut it!


The Making Of The John Lewis Advert 2012

I'm sure you've all seen the John Lewis Christmas advert for 2012 by now.  I am loving the version of  "The Power Of Love" that's been used for it but then I would... it's an 80's classic!

I've been sent the "making of..." video for you to have a look at - it's really worth four minutes of your time    and I bet you'll never guess where it was filmed!  You don't even need to leave this page to watch it so grab a brew and click "play".

John Lewis are also sending me a Knit Your Own Snowman kit from their gifts selection so watch out for some "When Crafts Go Wrong Or Remain Unfinished" type Instagram pics from me in the near future.

Some of the content on this page was provided by John Lewis.  Please view my disclosure page for more details.


Ikea Soft Toy Range

It's like the Invasion of the Cuddly Toys here... and they've all crowded into a photo booth for some mash-your-heads-together-and-grin-like-mad shots!  Maybe I should have used one of these images for a "caption this" type post.

Ikea Soft Toys, Klappar Lantlig horse glove puppet, squeaky hedgehog, vandring hareIkea Soft Toys, Klappar Lantlig horse glove puppet, squeaky hedgehog, vandring hare

They look a bit creepy in these photos but they are cute really.
The hedgehog squeaks, the hare is really soft and cuddly and the horse is a glove puppet!  So cool!

Ikea sent me these furry friends to shove in the grandchildren's stockings on Christmas Eve in return for telling you about their new soft toy range which has plenty of choice, including loads at £5 and below.  For every toy bought in this range, 1€ will be donated to their soft toy campaign.  

I  have decided that I now want ALL the finger puppets and may have to go and visit Ikea for the very first time to pick some up along with some of the famous Ikea meatballs.  Yes, you read that right.  I must be the only person in the UK that has never set foot in Ikea.  Am I unique?

Ikea asked me to share some of this content.  Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Inventions that are so wrong that they've gone past the point of wrongness and there isn't a word to describe them!

Firstly, if you've got an idea and you want to market it maybe run it by a targeted focus group first.  Not your mates and your mum who are going to pat you on the hand and tell you that you've done a good job.  OK, I'm an aged grandmother.  What the fuck do I know?  Oh yeah, I've actually raised three children and they're all still alive.  They may not have been though if I'd have used one of these:

screenshot from the website

Don't even expect me to link to this shit because I ain't.  The name is there and I'm sure you're brilliant at Googling.  Anyway, this contraption - a "bottle bib" - is designed to allow babies to have their bottle unaided so that you can get on with the ironing and cleaning because (and I quote) "holding a bottle for up to an hour [..] for months on end [..] is so frustrating".  It is aimed at babies of three months and over and, in my opinion, is exactly the same as laying a baby up on the settee with a bottle propped in their mouth.

*waits for gasps of horror to die down*

The person who invented this has now blocked me on Twitter (I mean, who does she think she is?  Keith Chegwin?) so obviously doesn't like the fact that a number of people agreed with my aghast tweet earlier today:

Baby Beer Hat Image Credit
 Luv Images
I'm actually still waiting for someone to tell me the benefits of a gadget like this.  I'm all for innovation and women in business but seriously... really... still gobsmacked and getting more that way each time I look at it.  It's a joke, isn't it?  Tell me it's a joke and they were expecting viral social media outrage and angry blog posts!  Your thoughts would be appreciated.

But as a footnote, my mate Bob tells me that this contraption already been invented and has proof ~~~~>


UPDATE 7.12pm - 23.11.12
The following text has been added to the launch page:
"To be supervised at all times"  linked to the spec page and a myriad of feature descriptions which doesn't actually make it sound any better - just a lot worse.
As you can see from my original screenshot, that wasn't there originally.


UPDATE 7.02pm - 24.11.12
The Facebook page has been removed and someone from the company has tweeted Twitter Support to try get the Twitter account closed down (can they not find the "deactivate/delete account" button themselves? ).  


UPDATE 11.29am - 29.11.12
The website has been taken down 'until further notice' and the Twitter account is now closed.


UPDATE 12.18pm - 04.11.13
Who thought this post would be updated again?  It seems that the website is back up and running again and the "Bottle Bib" is being promoted as the only product on the site.  There is a warning that babies should not be left unattended with this product (so what's the bloody point?) and that it's only for babies over 4 months old.  I despair, I really do!!  
(H/T to Emma from Me, The Man & Baby)


Soundtrack To My Life - Steve

soundtrack to my lifeI am featuring Steve on Soundtrack To My Life this week.  Our paths crossed a few years back through some Filofax chat but we later on we both discovered that we have been involved in amateur radio.  It's a small world!

Steve opens with an explanation that his musical taste is rooted in the early to mid 1970's when he was still at secondary school but he listens to music from all eras.  He has asked if he can do another Soundtrack To My Life in the future and he is very welcome, as is everyone else (the link to the form is at the bottom of this post).  As most of Steve's chosen tracks are guitar-heavy, I've tried to find live versions of the songs.


Steely Dan - Reelin' in the Years

This track takes me back to when I was still at school in about 1974-75, I was supposed to be revising for my O levels, instead I was trying to perfect the lead guitar solos on this track.. I got quite close but not note perfect!  I love all of Steely Dan's music another favourite is anything off the Aja album.

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The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Shake That Thing

Another song from my early days, I saw this band a couple of times in Liverpool. I used to go home to the Wirral to see concerts when I lived near Milton Keynes.  This particular track has the memorable line in it - 'There's no such thing as a dirty book, it's just the way you read it'. Sort of applies to popular fiction of today I suppose!

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The Eagles - Hotel California

The title song, but the whole album really.. but the one line... 'You can check out, but you can never leave' is me to a tee... when I get involved in something, I throw everything at it heart and soul... currently that is Philofaxy... the blog I share with a team of others and a huge community of followers.  This track has some amazing guitar playing on it, send shivers down your spine.

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Buckingham Nicks - Frozen Love

This was the track that got the attention of Mick Fleetwood that eventually resulted in Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joining Fleetwood Mac for the Fleetwood Mac album and of course Rumours.  It was also a phase of my young life of being in love for the first time. My girlfriend and I both loved Fleetwood Mac and the Buckingham Nicks album found it's way in to our collection without us really realising who these people were!  The album isn't yet available on CD... although it might be released next year to celebrate 40 years of it's first release... makes me feel old!

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Elton John - Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

This track or rather two tracks that sort of merge comes from the double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, some of which was recorded in France where I now live so I think back to this album when I am driving through the country side of my local area full of rolling fields of sunflowers against a deep blue sky, giving that beautiful colour combination of Yellow, Green and Blue, and all those sun flowers look like smiling faces. With this track playing (loud) on the car audio system, what more could you ask for!  When the sunflowers change to fields full of vines it cements the fact I now live in France surrounded by lots of countryside. I ignore the subject of the track really, I just enjoy the music itself.

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soundtrack to my life
You can find Steve over on his personal website or talking all things Filofax at Philofaxy (such a cool site!).  He's also on Twitter as @stevemorton.

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.

Winter Survival Guide

snow on tree
As the cold winds begin to blow and the dark nights draw in, it’s easy to feel inclined to seek shelter and draw the curtains on the rest of the world. But the winter months are a truly beautiful time of year and there are plenty of unique events and happenings to take advantage of. As such, button up your coat; pull on a warm hat and the hit the road with our guide to surviving the winter months. 

Get into the Christmas spirit 

The first half of winter is the most enjoyable for many people for the simple reason that it’s got a huge silver lining – Christmas is coming. No matter how much of a Scrooge you are, you’ll inevitably find there is something to love about the festive season. 

Don’t grumble and make things hard on yourself, throw yourself into the Christmas spirit. Shop for gifts early to avoid last minute stress, make plans with friends and family that involve plenty of good food and merriment, and install plenty of decorations to really get into the spirit. Even if you’re not into Santa, the range of Christmas presents available will mean you can still deck out the area around the tree and spread a bit of joy. 

When you look at it that way, you’ll soon find that Christmas isn’t as stressful as you thought it was. 

Take up a winter sport 

Many of us are inclined to be a bit sluggish during winter, but there are plenty of really fun sports that you can only take part in at this time of year. There’s nothing like exercising in the cold winds to put some colour in your cheeks, so look into ice skating lessons, head to the Alps to ski or snowboard, or simply wrap up warm and head out for an early morning jog in the crisp, cold air. 

Seek out cosy hideaways 

If you’re heading out for dinner or a drink, seek out cosy bars and restaurants that are catering to a winter crowd. Look for a pub with a log fire and hearty food; when it’s cold outside, there’s nothing better than cuddling up in the warmth of a homely indoor environment.

Please view my disclosure page for details about articles like this


I'm Loving The Dotty Diary System

Not so long ago I watched a video which was a compilation of mums shouting loud and proud about their achievements and what they were good at.  About two-thirds of the way the video thorough (this link starts at the right place) one of my favourite bloggers and tweeters popped up and said something along the lines of:
and told us all how fabulous she was at organising.  As she thumped that book, we believed her!  People wanting to know how The Book worked but Tanya kept her mouth shut and didn't share.

Until now.

dotty diary
I'm dead proud when a mate of mine launches something that I believe in and Tanya's done just that.  She's taken her Book idea and gone public and called it Dotty Diary!

The system is so simple yet I know it works well as I've been using a similar diary/notebook idea at work for the last seven years with my BOAT (Book Of All Things).  Tanya sent me the full system (A4-sized super quality 2013 diary, instructions, pen, highlighter - all wrapped up in a protective plastic folder) and I'm going to use this at work as my desk diary instead of my BOAT.  That's how much I believe this works!

Obviously I cannot share Tanya's Dotty Diary secret here - you'll have to invest in the system for that - but once you have the tools for the job, you'll be able to replicate it on many levels.  The 2013 pack has been produced on a speedy scale so that Dotty Diaries can be sent out ready for the new year but from 2014 onwards, the Dotty Diary pack will be even more unique.

My Top Tip for this system is to keep using the plastic folder that the diary and accessories arrive in.  That way you'll never lose your pen and highlighter!  And to know what that means, you'll just have to buy one, won't you?  More details and prices on the Dotty Diary website.

Footnote: As a lover of pens, can I just say that I'm IN LOVE with the pen included in my Dotty Diary pack.  It's the simple things in life...

Another Footnote:  My Filofax is still my portable method of diary system.  I'd never abandon that.  Just so you know...


Finding A Love For Reading

There's something enormously special about reading a book; being led into a world that you didn't know existed.  Tempted by the words someone else has written and becoming completely and utterly enveloped in where the story is going to take you next.

When my favourite books are developed into films, I become twitchy.  I have already created my own image of the characters in my head and there is usually no way that all the details can be encaptured in the recommended length of a film.  It can happen in reverse too.  One of the best films ever is based on a book which I hunted down and was very disappointed in.  But that is the nature of storytelling, isn't it?  We all have different ways of presenting our ideas to our audience.  

None of my children have ever really read for pleasure.  Not in the way I do, anyway.  They learnt to read and write as normal, books were always made available to them along with library memberships and stories were read to them at night.  But at no time did I ever find them lost in a book through choice.  They preferred to be out playing, watching a film or, in more recent times, glued to something on the computer.  And that's fine, of course. 

Jake was off school for a couple of days recently and became completely engrossed in the Harry Potter movie box set (thanks, Sky Movies!).  He watched them all from start to finish, in order, twice.  On Sunday he remembered that I had the full set in book version and asked me to rescue them from the spare bedroom.  He settled down on the settee in the lounge and started reading The Philosopher's Stone.  It took him longer than normal to read the first page and he had to clarify what a couple words said.  I'm fully aware than he has a lower than average reading age (some of that is down to his ADHD), but he's getting there.

Later that evening I was about to go and find him to tell him it was time for bed (he's usually hiding in his older brother's bedroom, sneaking an extra game on the PS3) but Kev said he was already in bed, reading.  I stifled a smug smile and left him to it.

Yesterday, after tea, he went off to read again.  He came down for some toast and said that he couldn't believe he'd been reading for twenty minutes because it felt like just five minutes.  He also mentioned that he was enjoying reading the book because having watched the film helped him to picture what was happening in his head.  He went to bed early again to continue reading, complete with head torch (probably so that he doesn't have to get up to switch the light out)!

I can see that it's all starting to make sense.  He's finally 'got' reading.

Heart-Shaped Paper Clips For My Filofax

Here's a cute little home-made Filofax marker that I found whilst using StumbleUpon ages and ages ago.

Get a friend to donate some coloured paperclips (thanks Mel!)

pastel coloured paperclips

Bend them in half 
(practice with some boring silver ones as it may take a couple of 
attempts to work out which way to bend them)

pink paperclipheart-shaped pink paperclipheart-shaped paperclips

Attach to Filofax and use as a page marker or to clip papers to a page in your diary

filofax, heart-shaped paperclips, page markers, inspirational quote,

Oh and for anyone asking the quote on the front page of my Filofax is:

"However the world treats you,
don't let it change the way you treat the world"
Sarah Brown

PS.  Would you like a tour of my Filofaxes?  I'm thinking of filming a walkthrough of my personal organisations systems on YouTube.  If it's a popular idea, I'll pull something together.  Let me know!

Related post:  How to use StumbleUpon - on Geekalicious

Soundtrack To My Life meets Listography meets Six Songs Of Me

soundtrack to my lifeKate warned me that there would be another Listography along soon.  When I read it and saw she'd cheated slightly I realised that I had to incorporate it into a Soundtrack To My Life entry for many reasons.  She has stolen the idea from a Guardian music section feature called Six Songs Of Me so it breaks the Rule Of Five that we both have for our features but as one is an 'encore' I'll let it go this time.  Feel free to join in at Kate's or here in the comments.  Normal Soundtrack To My Life service will resume next week.


What was the first song you ever bought?

The first song that I bought was Planet Earth by Duran Duran.  I remember saving up my pocket money and going to Woolworths with my dad and my sister (she chose Shakin' Stevens, This Ole' House).  It was 1981 and it was the start of a beautiful love affair that continues until today.


What song always gets you dancing?

Wow, such a difficult question.  Given half the chance, I'm first on the dance floor and you have to drag me off at the end of the night (or I voluntary leave before the 'Erection Section').  If it's got a beat, I'm there.  I'll choose It's Like That by Run DMC vs Jason Nevins for this simply because I heard it the other day for the first time in a while.  I've always wanted to be in a dance off.


What song takes you back to your childhood?

Because music is such a big part of my life, and always has been, you can pick any song from the mid 1970's to the late 1980's and I'm transported straight back to the lounge in our front room listening to some tunes on our radio and record player with the lift up lid.  I select Pretty Little Angel Eyes by Showaddywaddy for this one and wallow in nostalgia for a couple of minutes.


What is your perfect love song?

My perfect love song isn't really a love song.  I always think back to the song that I called "Our Song" - Dub Be Good To Me by Beats International because of the lyrics.  And that's what a song is about, after all, isn't it?  However, I'm going to show what an old romantic I am and choose the 18th variation of Rachmanioff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini which John Barry chose to run through the film score for Somewhere In Time.  I promise you, if you haven't seen this film, make it priority as soon as possible.  It is available, in full length, on YouTube (clickety click)


What song would you want at your funeral?

There's a few but I don't want to spoil the surprise.  If I put you in charge of music for my funeral though, I would like I'm Yours by Jason Mraz played simply for the lyrics in the last verse...

"Well open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find that the sky is yours
So please don't, please don't, please don't
There's no need to complicate
'Cause our time is short
This oh, this oh, this is our fate, I'm yours"


Encore:  What song makes you you?

Follow Me by Uncle Kraker.  No explanation needed, just listen.



soundtrack to my life
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.

Blognonymous : Keeping In Touch With Family

Blognonymous started out as a place for bloggers to let off steam away from their own blog.  It has evolved since then and we've had almost every subject matter you can think of, including some posts from non-bloggers too.  This post is a definite "WWYD?" question and the author would love your input.  

When commenting, if you prefer to remain anonymous when commenting please sign out of Disqus (if you have used it before), write your comment, click "Post as..." and you will see "guest" appear as an option.

If you would like to contact any of the Blognonymous team please click on the Blognonymous image  for more details.


Sigh. I am feeling really down tonight. The reason?


I feel like I'm getting to the point where I need to either let out a very loud scream, start stirring things up and opening eyes, or just cutting some contact. I'm getting tired of trying to keep the peace. On top of my otherwise generally stressful life anyway, it all sucks.

It comes from all sides really. There's the in-laws who live two hours away. They don't 'get' special needs ('you're bigger and stronger than you are, you can make her do what you want') and who don't visit all that often or do anything special with their grandchildren. There's the sister-in-law and boyfriend who live only an hour away and yet have only visited once this year, and only once last year (they don't have children, slightly different lifestyles involved there). Then there's my parents, who live four hours away and who make an equally long trip to see my Grandma every 4 weeks, and manage to have at least 3 holidays a yea, but who haven't been to visit us for 5 months.

But what is really upsetting me at the moment is my own brother and his girlfriend. They live 3 hours away, and we last saw them when we went to visit (not stay, there's room but not room to stay which is a whole other story) them in May this year. The time we saw them before that was when we went to visit them in February this year. The last time they visited us was.... … errr.... before their last child was born. So 5 years ago. They have 3 children, but not one of them has special needs or a reason why they can't travel in a car.

I've asked repeatedly, if they can suggest times that we can go and visit again, and I tell them often that they are welcome here any time. We get the same old excuses though – generally that they're too busy. I know that they don't bother reading my blog, and from comments my brother has made, he believes he could 'train' my daughter – autism is bad parenting, right?

Their children are the only cousins my children have. They're all of similar ages and get on so well when they're together – you know that old way, where family just 'click' even though they don't see each other? I have 13 cousins and although I no longer manage to see any of them regularly due to living far apart, we still have a fab time together when we do meet up. My brother's girlfriend has a sister who lives only an hour and a half away from them, and that sister has two girls. They all manage to meet up fairly regularly – the downside of it being my brother and not a sister to me, I guess. I understand that blokes just aren't that good at keeping in touch and organising things, but honestly, I've tried. I'm at breaking point. And it makes me so sad.

What would you do?

The Gallery : A Kick Up The 80's

1980s, birthday, great-grandad, dadIt seems like such a long time since I posted any pictures up for The Gallery but seeing as though this week's theme is The 80's I would have been a FOOL not to join in.

Firstly, I thought I'd deliberately misunderstand the theme and post this picture of my great-Grandfather celebrating his 82nd birthday.  It was actually the 1980's (just) but I knew that Tara would be HUGELY disappointed if I didn't post some rather more embarrassing pictures.

What I find really fascinating about looking through old photographs is the choice of content for the images.  I don't know what your parent's photo albums are like but mine are all of family parties, holidays, scenery, very special occasions and people holding babies.  Cameras and film were expensive and you had to choose your moment carefully.  Twenty-four chances at a memory (with a four or ten slot-on flashbulb) wasn't to be wasted.

I know that a number of people are expecting hideous photographs of me in dayglow outfits with lace and fingerless gloves trailing in my wake but the 80's were a decade of two halves for me.  It really was fortuitous that Mum wrote dates and captions on the back of every single photo.  Finding the right era was easy but deciding on a select few for today's post was more difficult than I imagined.

(click 'em to big 'em)

christmas, 1980, birthday, 1980s,
(l) Christmas 1980 with Nana and Katie, (r) My 9th Birthday (spot the Rubik's Cube) 1981

bonfire night, 1980s
Bonfire Night 1981

christmas, 1980s, grandpa, family,
(l) Christmas 1981 (there's a story behind that bike), (r) Jan 1982 with Katie and Grandpa

But I couldn't leave the nostalgia there. The young and innocent me did discovered perms, highlights, boys, smoking and Duran Duran But when I started searching for that special image for today I found that there wasn't many photographs of me as I was that sulky teenager who became very self-conscious about her appearance.  But here is one. It must have been June 1987 because my sister behind me as Rose Queen for our church and this is Freckleton Club Day.  I had 'volunteered' to walk with the flower girls in the procession.  This is my Club Day outfit which makes me look like something out of Rita, Sue and Bob Too, The Acid Years.  Check out that Swatch watch too! 

Freckleton Club Day, 1987, Bush Lane

Have you enjoyed this?  

You can view all the other 1980's themed Gallery posts by clicking the image below 
and browsing the digital art Gallery at Sticky Fingers.

Gallery, Sticky Fingers, digital art gallery, 1980s,

Post Script:

Some of you may remember that blogging has put me back in touch with an old primary school friend - Steph.  Occasionally we find a memory of school or dance class in the depths of our personal archives and either stealth upload it to Instagram or share it on Facebook (complete with tags) or sly a couple of old snaps into a reunion post.  However, Steph emailed this one to me which looks like I'm dressed as a piano-playing mouse (or were we supposed to be cats?) 

dance show
So I am retaliating with this one... A dance show - November 1981.  

Dance Show


Dedication's What You Need...

Guinness World Records 2013 book
I am from a certain era where hearing a very special theme tune meant that I could watch crazy people trying to be the shortest, the tallest the strongest, the fastest... anything to appear in the book that everyone wanted for Christmas - The Guinness World Records book.  So imagine my delight when I was invited to attend a special event to introduce the 2013 Guinness World Records book (and some of its new and unique features) down in London.

The day started with two excited 13 year old boys, a cancelled train, a mercy dash in the car to Preston station, a first class journey to London, the introduction of the London Underground to the two excited 13 year olds, a day of trying to become a record breaker and then some sightseeing around London.

The promotions team for Guinness World Records were introducing their augmented reality feature in the new book which you can see in action here (filmed live on the day - video provided by Guinness World Records):

Guinness World Records Day Out #GWRdayout
But the most important part of the day was the invitation to try and be an official World Record holder.  As I was introduced to one-handed cup stacking, I closed my eyes, channeled Roy Castle and Norris McWhirter and sang "...dedication's what you need..." softly to myself.  It paid off because I was the fastest cup stacker in the Westfield Stratford during the practice sessions (17 seconds).

As I looked around at all the other record breaking attempts (sock balling, domino stacking, identifying sound effects), it was clear to see that this wasn't about the kids.  Oh no... the triumphant cries of, "GET IN..." and "NOOOOO THEY FELL DOWN" and "WHAT'S MY TIME.... AARRGGHH I was faster last time... TRY AGAIN!" were coming from the adults.  And we all agreed that it was character building and a good lesson for the children that you can't win every time.  *cough*
Guinness World Records Day Out #GWRdayout

But then the official adjudicator arrived we all calmed down a little bit.  The three fastest domino stackers (Adam, Charlie and Kelly), the three fastest sock ballers (Clare, Michelle and Kate) and the five fastest cup stackers (Laura, Paul, Kelly, Jake and yours truly) were invited to officially try for a world record.  You could smell the competitiveness as we had all beaten, or been close to beating, the official records during our practice sessions.

As you can see by the photos we had an official record breaker amongst us - the one-handed cup stacking record currently stands at 16 seconds now.  Congrats to Paul!

Massive thanks to Guinness World Records for a fantastic, fun-filled day.  The person creating balloon models and the face painter were both hugely talented and kept the younger children really well occupied.  We were all treated like VIP's for the day which is a very special experience in itself.

Don't forget that the 2013 book makes a fantastic present and might give you some record breaking ideas.  I know that I've got my Boxing Day games sorted now - I'm determined to be the best at cup stacking somewhere!


Another Filofax To Add To The Collection

botanics filofax, sage, compact, I have added another Filofax to the ever-growing collection.  This time I am trialing a Filofax Classic Botanics personal organiser (in Sage).  It's a "compact" Filofax which means that the rings are only 15mm in diameter instead of (what now feels a very generous) 23mm in my other organisers.  However it's a timely trial as I'm currently carrying two diaries around (personal and work) and my attempt to merge the two didn't work effectively.  

I am going to start using a slimmed down diary section (maximum three months as suggested by Steve from Philofaxy), a few personal sections with information I need from day to day and a 'scribbling' section instead of carrying a small notebook around with me.  

However, even though I am a traditionalist, I hardly ever use the A-Z tabbed inserts that are provided with every Filofax.  I have all my telephone numbers stored in my phone and the amount of addresses that I need to remember can be condensed to just a few pages.  So I asked my Facebook page community what I could use this section for.  You can read all the suggestions here (there seems to be a theme running through them... ) but my absolute favourite has to be a wishlist/bucket list.  I might just use a few of the ideas though and utilise all my spare A-Z dividers and have one big reference book.  Now, wouldn't you like to have a nosy through that?

I would really like to see a certain type diary layout added to either Filofax or Dodo-Pad's range.  I have an idea in my head that has the same week-to-view on both pages when opened out.  One side would be for personal use, the other for work.  This system would solve my merging dilemma that I mentioned at the beginning of this post so if anyone has seen anything like this, please let me know.

Now, I just have to keep myself away from the website or I'll get carried away with buying Filofax 2013 diaries, paper in pretty colours and stickers.

DisclaimerFilofax UK sent me this organiser to review.  Please see my disclosure policy for more details


Soundtrack To My Life - Dean

soundtrack to my lifeThis week, Soundtrack To My Life comes from Dean.  Dean is the first professional male Antenatal Educator in the UK and has built up an amazing concept which empowers men and gives them the tools to become supportive and interactive birth coaches, dads and partners.  Here are Dean's musical choices.


Snow Patrol - Open Your Eyes

Steph and myself met at the Leadership Trust on residential management course. We got on well but by the end of week I had already fallen in love with her. We didn't live far from each other so agreed to drive back following each other and stop for lunch on the way. I got her to pull over about 10 minutes in to the journey and gave her an album, told her which track to play and then got back in to my car. The rest is history, we moved in with each other six weeks later and our little boy was born a year and two weeks after we first met. We got married a couple of weeks ago; Steph walked up the aisle to this song and it was our first dance.  This will always be our song.


Milla Jovovich - It's Your Life

Steph introduced me to Milla's first album The Divine Comedy, which I had never heard of. It was then one of the albums selected to be taken with us for the birth of our son Oren.  It was basically on repeat for most of the labour and this song will always stay with me because of the link to the birth of my son.


Buck Fizz - Making Your Mind Up

Oh the shame of it!! But I will admit it, this was the first ever single I bought after the Eurovision. I think as 14 yr old it may have had more to do with the skirt removal routine and Cheryl Baker than anything else!


The Charlie Daniels Band - The Devil went down to Georgia

For the record, NO this is nothing to do with Coyote Ugly.  It has been one of the songs I have used since my early twenties to just put on, blast out and forget the world for a few minutes as I sing along. I cannot remember how it came about but always makes me feel better.


Lords Of The New Church - Dance With Me

This takes me back to my early twenties when I squatted at the notorious Glebe estate in Camberwell, London, working the building sites as a hoist operator.  I spent Friday and Saturday at the Spice of Life and The New Marquee Club before recovering on Sunday ready to do it all again. Worry free, care free times - I wouldn't want them back but good memories all the same.



soundtrack to my life
You can find Dean's website at DaddyNatal where he introduces his services and writes a dedicated blog.  He is also on Twitter as @daddynatal and has a Facebook page of the same name.

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.

Soldier Boy

union jack, buckingham palace, november 2012

Once upon a time I rebelled against my parent's strict regime at home, flouncing out when I was eighteen, convinced I knew best.  Since then the path hasn't been smooth but I've learnt by my mistakes.

Subsequently I have found out that it's hard... really hard watching your children grow up and make the right/wrong choices in life.  It's even harder to have to hold back and not attempt to pick up the pieces or give them a boot up the arse when you don't think it's going too smoothly.

In January 2010 I wrote this post about Michael expressing an interest in joining the Army.  He left school with average (better than expected) GCSE results and completed two years at college on a Motor Vehicle Studies course.  He hunted high and low for a work placement during that time but there was nothing available.  Now, he has no real experience (only what was available during lesson time in the college workshop) and mechanics is really a job that needs you to be hands-on rather than theory-rehearsed.  He is now claiming Job Seekers Allowance and has been sent on 8-weeks work experience at Halfords - not a bad deal really and there may be a chance of a job at the end of it.

NB: Let's not get me started on the Government's Back To Work scheme - that's a whole other blog post...

In the meantime he applied to join the Territorial Army - a decision that I'm glad he's made but it obviously comes with parental worries.  He might be 19 years of age now but he's so laid back he's almost horizontal.  I nagged and nagged at him to get all the information he needed because I didn't want him to go into this blind.  He watches and listens to the news.  He hears about all the young soldiers being sent out to war zones.  He knows that some don't come back.  He also knows that the TA isn't the soft option.

He submitted his application, went for initial assessments at our local headquarters and was invited to a selection process last weekend.  He packed a bag that was bigger than one I take for a two-week break abroad and set off for a weekend of mental and physical endurance with targets to meet that he'd not even considered possible before.

HE PASSED!  Every single section!  With flying colours!  
Out of 23 attendees only 10 of them succeeded in completing the weekend course.
A proper proud moment!  And yet, he's still so laid back about it all.  

He now has to have his medical papers signed off by Head Office in Scotland and then he is measured up for his kit.  He attends on one evening a week and at weekends and will have many opportunities to find out who he is and what he wants.

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