Monday, 27 June 2011

Family events: win tickets for Pandamonium in the Park

The lovely people at Kellogg's have very generously offered some free tickets for the Pandamonium in the Park event on Saturday 9th July at the Althorp Estate in Northampton (the home of Earl Spencer).

The event will celebrate the new Kung Fu Panda 2 movie. There will be a whole host of Chinese themed activity going on including Kite Flying, Chinese performance artists and Kung Fu demonstrations. The star of the film, Po, will be there in person for you to meet! There will also be an exclusive concert performance by the film's composers Hans Zimmer and John Powell, who will be accompanied by the Pandamonic Orchestra.

Kellogg's will also be on-hand to help entertain the crowds in the Kellogg's Rice Krispies tent where you can make some delicious Rice Krispies Cakes.

There are more details about the event on the Pandamonium website.

I have 4 lots of 4 tickets to giveaway and all you have to do is leave a comment along with either an email address or twitter id. Good luck!

UPDATE: the winners of the tickets are @Janey0142 @kelloggs_ville @MFM_Luton and @wendymcd83 - please email me with your contact details and address. Thanks.

The prize consists of  4 tickets only, it does not include travel costs or other expenses. 
The competition closes on Thursday 30th June 2011 at 6pm, and the winners will need to provide full contact details within 48 hours or their ticket will be redrawn.
The winners will be drawn at random from all valid entries.
Tickets will be sent directly to the winner by Kellogg's.
UK entrants only.
There is no cash alternative.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

I'm off to Cybermummy!

It's Thursday night and tomorrow I'm travelling to London for the Cybermummy conference. I should be ironing and packing but instead I'm drinking organic cider. (I always like to mention the fact that it's organic, cos it sounds posher and less like I'm necking White Lightning from a plastic bottle.)

Anyway, I thought it might be an idea - seeing as I'm anonymous - to give you a few hints to help you recognise me at the big event.
  • I'm a scouser, although I don't say 'Calm down, calm down' very often;
  • I'm tall - 5' 9";
  • I'm rubenesque. That's posh for fat;
  • I tend to get very emotional, so if any of the speakers do a tear jerking speech I'll be sobbing into a tissue;
  • my daughters keep telling me that I laugh like a witch, so if you hear someone cackling it's me;
  • and who can forget the uncanny likeness my daughter captured in this picture?
And I'd like to mention that I wouldn't be going to Cybermummy were it not for my fabulous sponsor Kelloggs. They didn't even ask me to dress up as Tony the Tiger either, which was very kind of them.

I've been 'talking' to some bloggers for a few years now, and I'm really looking forward to meeting as many of them as possible. And I'm also looking forward to a weekend away from home, away from the normal everyday stuff and having a bit of fun 'me time'.

So if you're going to Cybermummy, please say hello. It'll be my first time (be gentle with me) and although I'm quite excited I'm also very nervous too. See you on the other side.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A change is gonna come

I've a lot of stuff on my mind. A lot of stuff. Important stuff, or important to me at any rate.

For the past few weeks my head has been full of...what? Issues. Problems that need tackling. Things that I need to be doing...should be doing. Ideas, germs of something new.

It feels like I'm at the beginning of something, although don't ask me what the something is because I don't know. I only have a vague idea of a process that I need to go through, a process of changes and self analysis. Reading that back to myself it sounds a bit pretentious and psychobabbley (if that's not a word then it should be) but it's the best I can do. Bear with me.

The thing is that my life at the moment is fine. Fine. I'm happy at work, my two daughters are both healthy and doing well at school and I have a comfortable home. I'm also relatively healthy if you discount the falling over and the bad back. Of course there are also things that I'd like to change, things like the loneliness, lack of direction, to need to get some something resembling a social life and perhaps even do a bit of travelling. Who knows.

Anyway, trying to explain what is going through my head at the moment is difficult, because every time I attempt to write it all down the conflicting issues keep shouting out their names and I lose the thread. It's like one of those dreams that you have where you can see it all unfolding before you but as soon as you open your mouth to describe it the words don't come.

In its most basic form I can only describe the process as an opening. An opening to...something. It's like I'm on the verge of a significant change. I know that's totally vague, but it's all I've got.

I'm sure it's no coincidence that I bought a copy of Eat Pray Love in a charity shop last week (65p and it's brand new!) I started reading it yesterday and I'm gripped by it. It feels like exactly the right book to be reading right now, a book about a woman who goes on a physical and emotional journey of self-realisation. And today when I got bored of using a scrappy piece of paper as a bookmark I looked in my desk drawer for a proper one, and I found one with this quote on it:

All things are difficult before they are easy ~ Thomas Fuller

Could it be any more appropriate? Watch this space.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

And the winner of the Wilderness festival ticket is....

Number 23!

And number 23 is @clairelouise82

Congratulations Claire, I'll be in touch.

To get the winning number I made a list of everyone who entered on the original post, in order of entry - not including the people who didn't answer the question - and allocated a number to each one.  The random number generator was then used to select a number.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

How to fall over like an old lady

Three years ago I slipped on the ice outside school and injured my leg. I had to take some time off work.

Two years ago I tripped on the pavement outside my house and fell into the road. I injured my hip, arm and ribs and was off work for a couple of weeks.

Yesterday I took the hound out for a walk and as we were walking across a field I realised we were walking towards a duck pond. Bearing in mind our recent mishap with the canal, I decided to change direction, stepped into a hole and propelled my considerable weight onto the ground hurting my arm, side and - ouch - ribs. I lay on the ground for about 5 minutes, slightly dazed and unable to move apart from lifting my head to see Tessie running around me in circles and occasionally coming over to nudge my head. I could also see a man sitting on a park bench about 200 yards away, and he could see me but stayed on the bench. Another man walked past me as I lay on the ground, but didn't stop.

Anyway, somehow I managed to get up, put Tessie back on her lead and get home again (with several stops along the way).  I spent the evening sitting motionless in an armchair, with the girls trying to look after things.

The Teenager is angry with me because in her words "you're like a 90 year old, you keep falling over". Well, three times in as many years, but still, it's not good is it?

I'm feeling pretty stupid this morning. I had to get in touch with the Headteacher to tell her why I'd be off today, but I took the coward's way out and texted her. I was too embarrassed to tell her over the phone. I mean how many times can you fall over before people start thinking you've got a (drink) problem?

So, to conclude - falling over is not big and it's not clever. Try not to follow my lead.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

My Top 10 films of all time, ever.

Spurred on by the recent post from Mrs Lister, I've had fun trying to compile a list of my ten favourite films. This is a snapshot really because if you asked me again next week the list would be slightly different, quite simply there are too many favourites to choose from but I'll give it a shot.

I'll start with probably my favourite film ever. Contact stars Jodie Foster as an astronomer in pursuit of scientific proof of alien life, and Matthew McConaughey does a serious turn as a man of the cloth (yes, really) in a film combining two fascinating subjects - science and theology. Love it, love it, love it.

Singin' in the Rain

Image credit
I fell in love with Gene Kelly at a very early age, and he has remained by favourite musical film star. Handsome, dashing and a fabulous dancer, what more could you ask for?

This is one of the most uplifting films ever made, and it's very funny too, and if you can watch the famous Singin' in the Rain sequence without feeling uplifted then you, my friend, have no soul.

Mystic River
I've never been the biggest fan of Clint Eastwood as an actor (although he is brilliant in Gran Torino) but as a director he is genuinely brilliant. Mystic River is a dark drama about three childhood friends who are reunited after a brutal murder. One of the friends played by Kevin Bacon is the investigating police officer, Sean Penn is the father of the murdered girl and Tim Robbins plays the third friend who, damaged by a childhood experience, becomes a suspect in the murder. A brilliant and beautifully layered film.

The Sound of Music
Possibly the most famous musical film, and one of my absolute favourites. Tall Daughter also loves this film and we must have watched it dozens of times when she was very small, so much so that she told everyone she wanted to be a nun when she grew up. My favourite part of the film is when Captain Von Trapp hears his children singing in the house, something he had banned, and starts to sing along with them. I cry at that scene everytime.

Broadcast News
Set in the world of TV news, three ambitious colleagues become entwined through work and romance. Holly Hunter is great as the feisty, driven news producer, William Hurt plays a handsome but slightly vacuous newsreader and Albert Brooks is the journalist with ambitions to become the anchorman.

Dead Poets' Society
Robin Williams giving a dramatic turn as an unconventional, but inspirational teacher. Who can forget the Carpe Diem scene? The still gives me tingles when I watch it, and the ending is just perfect. Fantastic film.

The American President
Yet another romcom, which I make no apologies for. Michael Douglas is the American President, a widower with a young daughter, and when he meets a political lobbyist played by Annette Bening (who is always good) he asks her out on a date. A really enjoyable film, and Douglas and Bening are really appealing in the lead roles.

Crossing Delancey
A little known romantic comedy from 1988, starring Amy Irving. I love this film, I used to have it on video and it took a while to track it down on DVD but I found it eventually.

It's the story of a single Jewish girl who's set up with a Jewish matchmaker by her grandma, or 'Bubbie'. Through the matchmaker she meets a down to earth, honest man but he sells pickles and she struggles to overcome her snobby attitude to his job and rejects him. But when her friend becomes interested in him she realises she may have missed her chance.

Baby Boom
Diane Keaton is a successful 80s businesswoman, complete with power suits and shoulder pads, who inherits a baby. It's a very funny film and everytime I watch it I fall in love with Sam Shepherd all over again.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Spencer Tracy (this was his last film, completed shortly before he died) and the fabulous Katherine Hepburn star as liberal parents who are shocked by their daughter's decision to marry Sidney Poitier, a distinguished black doctor. It was made in 1967 but I think some of the prejudices portrayed in this film are still around today. And apart from that it's a cracking film with a fantastic cast.

Just missing out on my top ten are Gran Torino, White Christmas, Leon and You've Got Mail.

So there's my list, what would you have on yours?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Family summer events: win a family ticket for the Wilderness Festival


The Wilderness Festival sounds fantastic - family activities; music from Antony and the Johnsons, the Guillemots, Toots and the Maytels (remember them?) and Hayseed Dixie amongst others; outdoor events, art, theatre, food, poetry, yoga, a babysitting service, beautiful scenery and camping. What more could you possibly need for a fantastic family summer event?

Wilderness is a new multi-arts festival set among the parklands and ancient forests of the exquisite Cornbury Estate in Oxfordshire and is being held on August 12-14th.

I was thrilled to be offered a family ticket to attend, but my happiness was short-lived when I realised it clashed with our annual holiday in August. Drat.
But - because I'm such a giving sort of person - I'm offering the family ticket, donated by the lovely people at the Wilderness Festival, to you dear reader.

There is so much going on at Wilderness that I honestly can't cover everything on here - you really need to spend some time browsing their fabulous website to see all of the things on offer over the festival weekend. There's also a Wilderness facebook page.

The family ticket is worth £250 and this covers entrance to the festival and campsite for the whole weekend. It doesn't include any camping equipment.

The family ticket on offer is valid for 2 adults and 2 children, but the very nice Wilderness people have said they will change that to one adult and 3 children for any single parents hoping to attend. And if that's not enough, children under the age of 10 go for free.

I'm gutted that we can't go!

To win my the family ticket all you have to do is leave a comment below with the answer to this question:

Where is Wilderness being held?
1. Strawberry Fields
2. Penny Lane
3. Cornbury Park

Please leave either an email address or twitter name with your comment. Good luck!

Tickets are priced at £250.00 for the Early Bird family ticket (two adults, two children) or single adults for £99.50 for weekend camping, not to mention the fact that children aged 10 years and younger go free. The festival even offers a Boutique Babysitting service.

The competition is open until midnight on Tuesday 14th June 2011. The winner will be chosen randomly by me on Wednesday 15th June. There is no cash alternative. The ticket is for festival and campsite entry only, tents and camping equipment are not supplied.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Mrs Glass Half Full

Yesterday as I was tidying my front garden one of my neighbours stopped for a chat. Sue lives a few doors down from me in a lovely big house with an overgrown garden. In fact her garden is the only one in the street that makes mine look good.

I like Sue. The last few years have not been kind to her, but she always has a smile on her face. She's in her late 60s and was widowed a few years ago. Her three grown-up sons all live abroad and she goes to visit them in their new homes once a year. Since her husband's death she's also had some mental health problems, which she talks about quite openly. Not so long ago she had a disagreement with a man who had parked his car across her driveway. She doesn't drive and therefore didn't need to access for a car, but apparently the driver became abusive to her when she asked him to move. She went back into the house, got one of her sons' old crickets bats and took her frustration out on the car windscreen.

It didn't end well for Sue, she was arrested and cautioned and the whole incident sent her into a downward spiral. She subsequently spent some time recovering from the ordeal in the mental health unit of the local hospital.

I feel for her, I really do. She rattles around in an empty house that used to be filled with a husband and sons and, although she keeps herself busy with yoga, the church choir and making greetings cards, she admits that she's lonely.

So, as we stood chatting in my front garden I noticed Sue was wearing one of her more eclectic outfits. She had colourful patchwork trousers on, pink crocs and a blue and white poncho over an animal print top. Not necessarily my choice of items to put together (but hey, give me a few years) but what stuck me most of all was her hair and make-up.

Her dark hair was carefully combed into a bun, and she'd added some sparkly pink hair clips. She'd also applied a silvery blue eye shadow, rather a lot of it it has to be said, and a pearly pink lipstick.

I imagined her sitting in front of an old fashioned, dark wood dressing table, positioned in the bay window of her bedroom, carefully choosing her accessories and make-up colours. She had taken such pride in her appearance that morning, and I was full of admiration for her. Despite her travails, and in spite of her loneliness, she had still greeted the day with optimism.

I could learn a lot from Sue.