QUIRKY AND AFFORDABLE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

QUIRKY AND AFFORDABLE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Thumbs up Hollywood mirror at asos – 14.99


If you apply the code ‘hello20’ you will get 20 percent off.

 

Personalised family portrait from posterhaste is brilliantly unique at only £20.


You can design this online for friends or family, and delivery will be well in time for christmas.

 

imusic pillow at www.iwantoneofthose.com at only £13.99

Probably for him when he wants to bury his head in the sand (or pillow!)

 

how to tell if your cat is trying to kill you www.prezzybox.co.uk – just £9.99


For all cat lovers and those who live with a partner and their cat!

 

www.grahamandgreen.com at £29.99 gold sequin baskets

Storage bags or stylish totes, these gold sequin baskets are expertly woven from natural rattan and half covered in beautiful gold sequins. you can even put more pressies inside.

LET’S ALL FEEL HAMPER’D THIS CHRISTMAS

LET’S ALL FEEL HAMPER’D THIS CHRISTMAS

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

I have always enjoyed sending hampers to special business associates or colleagues to say a seasonal ‘thank you’, but over the years I have discovered that my close family and friends really appreciate speciality hampers that come with their favourite food, tea, coffee and wine.

Last year I sent my my bestie a hamper each which included something for everyone, including her husband and their three kids.  So I have been requested to repeat the gesture this year.

To give you an idea of the content, it included her special label coffee, their best choice in Malbec and chocolate and treats for their young offspring.

Here are some of my favourite Hampers:

FORTNUM AND MASON

I adore receiving a hamper from Fortnum’s, not only because I love the quality of contents, but because their baskets are great to keep for storage throughout the year.

Their perennially popular Classic Christmas Hamper presents everything you need for the big day. It contains a range of wine and drinks, both still and sparkling, rich and delicious puddings, utterly buttery biscuits and the sweetest to crunchiest of food jars.

https://www.fortnumandmason.com/products/the-fortnum-s-classic-christmas-hamper
Total: £175

 

MARKS AND SPENCER CHRISTMAS HAMPER

 

It comes with Fiorito Prosecco and Golden snowflake Christmas cake.  It also includes a yummy selection of Belgian milk chocolate coated mint flavoured cream biscuits, a Robin tin filled with all butter petticoat tails shortbread, chocolate assortment, jams, marmalade, luxury gold tea tin, wine and non-alcoholic drinks.  Presented in a dark-stained handmade wicker hamper with brown faux-leather straps.

https://www.marksandspencer.com/the-windsor-collection-hamper-pre-order-/p/p60139457
Total:  £100

 

REGENCY HAMPERS – STAR OF LIGHT HAMPER WITH CHAMPAGNE

Paul Langlier champagne, with all the trimmings of cake, chocolates, truffles and a great combination of Christmas festive delights.  Comes in traditional picnic basket.

https://www.regencyhampers.com/Classic-Gift-Hampers/Star-Of-Light-Hamper-Champagne
Total:  £99.60

 

THE CHRISTMAS FEAST HAMPER FROM ALDI

This contains some incredibly good Christmas ‘must haves’ from Sauvignon Blanc to Prosecco, and exquisite Christmas fruit cake to Christmas pudding, fudge and truffles.  It has also got a five out of five star rating.  It is delivered in a gorgeous basket, and is of course extremely competitive on price.

https://www.aldi.co.uk/the-christmas-feast-hamper/p/000000252412400
Total:  £79.99

 

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SOUND ADVICE FOR ALL BUDDING WRITERS

SOUND ADVICE FOR ALL BUDDING WRITERS

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

The first piece of advice I was given as a writer was ‘capture the audience in the first three minutes’.  I have never forgotten those words of wisdom.

We see a burning house and hear screams of the people inside, we see firefighters and people being dragged from the ruins.    But do we care, we feel the tension but we don’t know who these people are.

Cut back a few scenes, and we see a man drive up to the house, he gets out of the car and is greeted by his wife and two young children who are standing at the open door.  We see him enter and sit down at the table with his family, and talk about their day.  They are chatting about their kids’ school and the family holiday, we get to know them.

We cut to outside and see a man planting an explosive, and see the house go up in flames.  Now we are engaged and we really want them to be saved.

Not all of us are aspiring writers or film makers, but more and more people are wanting to make writing part of their lives.  Some don’t even know if they have the talent to write a page let alone a novel, but if you have a spark of interest or passion about writing then why don’t you explore the possibilities.

You could begin by forming your own writers group – many have started simply by inviting a few friends over with a couple bottles of wine, some basic ideas and a discussion, and before you know it you have short stories, books or screenplays in the making.  Better than crying over ex boyfriends or berating the agony of a recent divorce, and definitely a way of reinventing yourself.

If you are serious about a career change and want to be a writer, then look at one of the writing courses that are around at the moment.

To refresh my own capability as a writer I recently attended a fantastic Writer’s Retreat in the Dordogne in France, The Rocaberti.  It was full of enthusiastic writers at all stages of their career, from their very first shot at writing to the more experienced published writer.

The Mentors were all highly motivated, published and well known novelists, screen-writers and film writers and producers.  In spite of their success, they were equally as supportive to every mentee and made sure each one had the input they needed to take the next step on their writing path.

You could also explore writers’ groups nearer to home, and there are many good ones – check out the reviews and feedback from attendees on the websites attached to the courses, and that should tell you everything you need to know.

Hope I have got you interested – and within the first three minutes.   After all it only takes one minute to make a life changing decision, which could affect everything you do for the next twenty years or more.  So what are you waiting for?

Checkout the writers retreat rocabertiwriters.com

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Extreme Pet Grooming – Are we taking it too far?

Extreme Pet Grooming – Are we taking it too far?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

From extreme grooming to dressing our pets in clothes, what takes it from ‘normal’ to possibly ‘dangerous’?  Are following these trends without prior knowledge really worth the risk?

Despite its growing popularity, the grooming industry remains unregulated, putting uninformed pet owners at risk of exposing their animals to harm. There are concerns that pets can be ‘frightened and distressed by the various extra treatments on offer, such as facials and pawdicures offered at a growing number of dog spas’, the RSPCA has said.  Some who are on the side of extreme grooming, say the treatments are harmless fun as long as the pet is happy and freely compliant. They also argue that it is more concerning that most animals are not groomed enough, stating infections, overgrown nails and severe matting, as some of the alignments these pets face.

There is also a belief that pets are increasingly treated as an alternative to children and their owners are choosing to spend more money and attention on them. However, can this excuse the use of potential dangerous dyes on their fur, especially around their face? Would we allow parents to do these same things to children? You wouldn’t imagine giving them body modifications, at least we hope not.  While it is important to groom pets, by brushing them daily (or more for specific breeds) and brushing their teeth daily (important for cats and dogs), changing their appearance to such extremes turns them from intelligent, sentient animals to being viewed as novelty accessories. RSPCA said that, even if a dye is marketed as ‘pet friendly’, they would strongly advise against it.

Like people, pets can have negative reactions to dyes and even if no reaction is seen can be a silent killer when dye is eaten when they groom or absorbed through their skin. Unlike people that can give consent, animals cannot do that and instead we should keep what we offer them, from food to their enrichment as natural as possible. It is important to keep grooming to their needs. They are shouldn’t be seen as fashion accessories to try out the latest trend on them.

From extreme grooming to clothes, surely dressing them up is a better option, as it is only temporary – but even that comes with its caution? The risks aren’t worth that cute photo. Even though you can “aw” at those photos, you would probably find the photo just as cute if it was the same without the clothes. It shouldn’t be the enhanced image that make the animals appealing to look at, it is the animals themselves.

Animals without these man-made clothes are better. There are only a few exceptions to this, for small dogs and short-haired varieties when it is too cold for them, such as walks in winter and when it is raining., or specifically made medical aids. People love their pets and the retail trade have latched onto that, bringing fashion for pets a widespread money-making scheme. Clothing on pets can cause animals to be stressed, overheat and possible skin damage. Surely we should let them be their natural selves we fell in love with? Any animal is a commitment and their needs should always be put first.

Have a pet? Share a photo of them with us. Find us in the following places and continue the discussion.

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THE FEMALE VOTE FOR FOOTIE

THE FEMALE VOTE FOR FOOTIE

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

As we kick off for another World Cup in Russia, the media are still interviewing thousands of men, chomping at the bit, as they defiantly wave their flag or display their T-shirts, as if going into battle.

But it is 2018 and not 1966, so where are all the women supporters because there are many, and it is not just because of the Players toned abs or fine physiques.  But because they love the sport as much as their male counterparts.

As we recently celebrated one hundred years with the women’s right to vote, it is less publicized that it is almost 50 years since the FA lifted its ban on women’s football. One would have thought that this would be a major step toward a female recognition of the sport, but at that time many females were still unaware of the sheer bliss of supporting their favourite team, or having any team at all – it was regarded so much as a man’s sport to be played and supported.  So that victory was hardly celebrated, and women hardly dared step over the threshold of the seriously macho pastime.

I was fortunate in that I used to watch football with my young neighbour Derek Collins, whose parents owned the corner shop near to my grandparents house in Maidenhead.

I was introduced to the sport from a very early age, getting to learn the rules and the various teams and colours, and quickly got involved in the sheer excitement of seeing my favourite team win.  I didn’t really have one in particular, and it would change with the day and the teams playing. but it was a great introduction to the sport and a fabulous way to learn.

My own mother Sylvia Anderson, adopted Manchester United as her special team quite late in life when she was around 55, and enjoyed each game so much she would literally sit watching the TV, especially in her more senior years, wearing their distinctive colours in a scarf draped over her shoulders.

My grandparents when they were alive, stared in disbelief as their normally elegant and refined daughter stood up shouting at the television, oblivious to all around her, to cheer her players on.

She had visited the famous Old Trafford several times, and had met and chatted to Alex Ferguson.  It was not often my Mum used her celebrity status to her advantage, but did so with the sport she was so passionate about.

So it is also hard fathom that we are still struggling to recognize that Footie is a sport loved and supported by a wide female following.

I could name several groups of women even within my own circles who are football fanatics, and throw open house parties to share their love of the game with other like-minded women.

Perhaps we should work towards being more open about our passion for the game, and who we support, and plan some female afternoons with our mates, even if to introduce them to the sport, and relish the sheer drama and heaven of seeing our chosen teams win or lose.

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THE PLASTIC PROBLEM IN OUR SEAS

THE PLASTIC PROBLEM IN OUR SEAS

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

More than two decades ago I had a conversation with the lovely Actor, Alison Steadman, who was then married to legendary Film Director Mike Leigh.  They were already heavily into promoting environmental issues of pollution and waste, and educated me into the hazards of buying coloured loo paper, saying it was non-biodegradable.  I have bought the white stuff ever since.

So where did it all go wrong, and why is it only now we are being made aware of the amount of plastic in the World’s oceans, which is set to treble in the next decade unless drastic action is taken to prevent it.

We have been warned that plastic is one of the most enormous threats facing the world’s seas, along with metal and chemical pollution.

It has apparently been swept under the carpet or beds of the Ocean for decades, and now only as it is now at danger level are we on high alert where our sea waters are concerned.

The Netherlands, who are famous for their environmentally friendly approach, have led the way by opening the World’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle and other Nations are encouraged to follow.

But we need to take it further and take control through research and awareness before the problem escalates even more.

Louise Edge, Senior Oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK warns us “Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats facing our oceans, with items ranging from whole plastic bottles to tiny microplastics being found in seas all around the world”.

“If strong action isn’t taken now, the problem will get exponentially worse. More research is needed on the many different facets of plastic pollution, but it is already clear that we must end our relationship with throwaway plastic and find alternative packaging solutions which won’t harm our environment.”

Professor Edward Hill, executive director of the National Oceanography Centre, said it was time to change the “out of sight, out of mind” attitude to the world’s oceans.

He said the Blue Planet television series has helped people visualise what is going on in the oceans, provoking both wonder at what is down there and horror at the impact humans are having.

“It’s this sense of the unexplored world on our own planet, but also it’s important to us. We know less about the bottom of the sea than the moon or Mars, but nothing lives on the moon or Mars, but things live in our ocean and they’re vitally important to us,” he said.

More about: | plastic pollution | single-use plastics

If we want to contribute to the awareness of this alarming discovery, we can make a difference by creating plastic free awareness in our own homes, and pass the knowledge onto our kids, so that they lead by example.  If you click onto www.plasticfreetuesday.com, it will give you some great tips for the start of your own plastic free awareness campaign.

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