Sunday, 26 June 2016

This Week #41

What you see is what you get; you've made your bed, you'd better lie in it.
Life This Week

I try to keep these weekly round-ups mostly positive, and there were some high points this week. After posting last week's retrospective, Wingz got in touch to thank me for the mention and ask if I'd like to review a pair. (Did I?? I posted the review on Thursday.) I had my first regular council meeting as deputy mayor, and welcomed figures showing that our webcasts are the most watched in Wales.

On Tuesday evening I attended a youth EU debate organised by Bron Afon, and only got to answer half a question myself because Marianna decided to scream incessantly through the entire 'councillors' answers' section. Thursday evening itself was lovely; we went to the first prize evening of Cwmbran High, which merged Fairwater High and Llantarnam School last year. It was fab to see so much talent, and the musical interlude with the cast of the school's production of 'We Will Rock You' and Cwmbran High Deaf Choir was awesome.

And then #Brexit happened and wiped more than $2trillion off the world markets. I wrote about what it will likely mean for Torfaen, and as a family we're going to have to seriously think about our future. In my day job I'm an elected county councillor for the Welsh Labour Party, so the overwhelming local support for a populist, right-wing world view is an ominous sign for next May's council elections.

I really hope I am re-elected and can play my role in damage limitation for the area, but it is a very real possibility I'll be unemployed this time next year, and relying on Michael 'this country has had enough of experts' Gove and Boris 'If you can't turn the clock back to 1904, what's the point of being a Conservative?' Johnson to safeguard the positives of EU legislation and negotiate favourable trade deals. On top of that there are reports coming in from all over of disgusting racism, newly legitimised by the vote - from chants of 'go home' to British muslims, to the English Defence League and National Front protesters out on the streets of Newcastle.

Moving to the unknown is scary, but the idea of Marianna being exposed to such behaviour is much, much scarier.

Photo of the Week

This Week, I 'ave Been Mostly...

☆ READING: The lovely folks behind WILF Books wrote a guest post for me about the importance of sharing, and what they're all about.

☆ WRITING: I couldn't help weighing in on some of the #Regrexit twitter debate, namely the argument that the young shouldn't blame the old for voting out - because they fought world wars for them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's fair to blame an entire generation, it just pains me that people's grasp of their own history is so awful. Where do they think the term 'baby boomers' comes from?

☆ WATCHING: Steptoe and Son. Anthony bought the boxset in the week and, as the Sopranos rewatch has finally (finally!) come to an end, we've made a start. Expect a post full of Steptoe quotes and trivia in the near future.

☆ LISTENING: We watched a 'classic' countdown on Kerrang! on Saturday, full of stuff we loved as teens because we're so old now! Typical of the playlist was Duality by Slipknot.

"I push my fingers into my eyes,
It's the only thing that stops the ache,
If the pain goes on - I'm not gonna make it!"

☆ WEARING: Wingz!

☆ EATING: We had an amazing cupcake at Cwmbran High's prize evening with the school's logo - it was so tasty!

☆ REVIEWING: I'm going to be reviewing Random Acts of Unkindness by Jacqueline Ward. I took part in the release day blitz already.

On the Blog

I dropped 3 points in the recent domain authority update which sucked, but on the other hand it has been a very good week for my Klout score. I'm at 68 for the first time. :) It's probably because I've got a few competitions running - £30 to spend at Party Bags and Supplies (UK), a copy of Saucy British Seaside Postcards: The Bamforth Collection (worldwide), and a copy of The Killing Kind by Chris Holm (UK) on Twitter:

Saturday, 25 June 2016

How can we help our children to learn about sharing?

How can we help our children to learn about sharing? A guest post by WILF Books.

A little while back I was contacted by the brains behind WILF Books, a new children's book sharing service. The idea is simple but ingenious - a monthly subscription service to which users donate unwanted and unloved books, for them to be sorted, boxed up, and sent out for individual children according to their personal preferences. I would have loved this so much as a kid, and I'm really pleased to be featuring a guest post from the team on the importance of sharing today.

Sharing is a super vital life skill, isn’t it? It teaches us how to co­operate with one another in our everyday lives. It teaches us about compromise, that if we give just a little to others, we can also get a little of what what we'd like too. It teaches us about negotiation, and how to cope with disappointment. It’s a fundamental human value that makes us who we are.

We all recognise its importance, but how can we help our children to learn about sharing?

Well, first and foremost, we think it starts with you. Monkey see, monkey do. Children learn so much just from watching what their parents do. You’re their role model, and when you model good sharing and *taking turns* in your family, it gives children a really great example to follow. You, as a parent, can always facilitate and encourage sharing in every day life, and here are five simple ways through which to do that:

  • Allow them to see it in others: Recognise it when your child sees another child sharing. There’s nothing more beautiful (and cute!) than watching children share and play nicely together, a little bit like grown­ups do. You can say things like: ‘Woah, wasn’t your friend sharing her toys really well, that was really lovely of her."
  • Nurture it through play: It’s really fun to play little exercises with your child that involve turn­taking, sharing and inclusive participation. Talk your child step by step through the process of sharing, saying things like, ‘It’s your turn, then it’s my turn; you share the brown bricks with me, and I’ll share the pink bricks with you, I’ll play with Buzz whilst you play with Woody".
  • Pile on the praise: When the proud moment comes, and you see your child attempting to take turns and share, be sure to lay on the praise, attention and all round good­will. This is super important, and with consistent practice and positive reinforcement, will become second nature in the minds of your little ones. For example, you could say things like "that was really lovely the way that you let Charlie play with your helicopter, great sharing!"
  • Have ‘the talk’ (not that talk!): Talk to your child about sharing before she goes on playdates or trips with other friends. Reinforcing before, during and after playdates can really help build their mental map for sharing. For example, you could say, ‘Rahul is almost here and you’ll need to share some of your toys when he gets here. Let’s have a think about what he'd like to play with, shall we?’ You can also talk to your child about sharing before all possible interactions with other children, like nursery, pre­school or big school.
  • Allow them to ‘own’ their sharing: Create an environment and culture that encourages your child to want to share. 

WILF Books was developed on the value of sharing, delivering tailored and personalised children’s books addressed specifically to your child, along with the opportunity to share their own books with other children across the country. Take the time to sit with your child to discuss which books they’d like to share each month, in return for new books that they will love! ­­

There’s sharing in every day life, and then there’s developing a sense of sharing amongst the wider society and community. In the globalised world within which we live, it’s more important than ever to be able to share beyond our own personal boundaries and connect with those from other cultures and backgrounds. By nurturing this connection, when a child reaches pre­school or school age where community, creativity and play are championed and they begin to interact with people of new cultures, they’ll be able to build more complex relationships with other children with the fundamental foundation of fairness at the heart. Imperative in today’s world.

WILF Books Logo
You can register your interest with WILF Books ahead of their upcoming launch, HERE. You can also stay in touch with WILF on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Black Friday

A Sad Day for Britain

Terrible news for the UK today as 51.9% of the population vote to leave the EU.

I sincerely hope I'll be proven wrong, but as just about every economist and policy adviser in the world warned us about the consequences, the future looks bleak. Here's John Oliver putting those warnings in layman's terms:

In Torfaen alone we'll be saying goodbye to money from the -

European Social Fund, e.g. Working Skills for Adults, Bridges into Work, Inspire to Achieve, and Inspire to Work - all of which rely heavily on ESF funding.

European Regional Development Fund, e.g. we used this to part fund projects like the refurb of Pontypool Indoor Market, and the wider improvement works over the last few years in Pontypool and the surrounding area.

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, e.g. the restoration of Llanyrafon Manor was largely funded from this pot.

Direct Payments to Farmers, i.e. Welsh government's method of distributing the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) money, which makes up over 75% of all farm income in Wales.

Because, overall Wales currently gets a guaranteed £500m per annum from the EU, and we then bid for other monies, like the £1.8 billion for the 2014-2020 ESF (European Structural Funds) for the East Wales and West Wales and Valleys Programmes. As our net benefit from the EU is much larger than what we pay in, going forward we're going to be very reliant on a Westminster government giving us that same level of funding.

On top of that, of course, we're going to be saying hello to unemployment, with EU funded posts obviously coming to an end, and the knock on effects for businesses which rely heavily on EU trade. Some foreign investment will be deterred - big employers like Airbus have already said they'll be monitoring negotiations closely and, should we not secure a good trade deal with the EU (and let's face it, why on earth should the EU give us any favours now?), may be forced to relocate. Tata Steel told its workforce last week that the EU market was 'fundamental to our business' - Brexit might help their pension liabilities (not such great news if it's your pension, but hey ho), but hopes for salvaging the Porth Talbot plant are looking ever more dismal.

We've already seen massive instability to the pound today - and it will continue jostling over the coming years as we negotiate our way out of the EU. This isn't just something which matters to your weekly food shop or whatever (you probably won't really see this until we're out completely and usual imports become more costly), it will also be fed in to things like council tax (including service precepts) and utility bill rises (sadly, you can expect to see this in the forthcoming budget round) as it becomes harder to predict the value of investment portfolios and secure match funding.

(For more on Brexit impact on Welsh public services, there is a good paper linked here.)

As for immigration, the curtailing of which is going to magically solve all our ills - around 3,000 people (about 4% of the population) in Torfaen were not born in the UK. Under 2% of those were born in another EU country, so around 1,300 people could be EU migrants. 6.2% of the working age population in the borough is unemployed - so, disregarding the fact that many immigrants are actually employers, even if everybody who wasn't born in the UK (and of course, some of those will hold full or joint UK citizenship) in Torfaen was of working age and in employment (which we know they're not), there still wouldn't be enough work to go around right at this moment...

On the plus side, we shouldn't be hearing many complaints if these things do come to pass - people will be getting what they asked for. /s

Friday Frivolity: Summer Giveaway

Friday Frivolity pinnable image

The host theme for this week is summer, giving me the perfect excuse to share some saucy British seaside postcards. The slightly risque postcard is a really fun British tradition, dating right back to the early years of the twentieth century. Here are five classic examples:

If you fancy winning your own copy of Saucy Postcards: The Bamforth Collection, you can get up to five entries into my giveaway by filling out the Gleam form below:

Win a copy of Saucy Postcards: The Barmforth Collection

Competition is open internationally.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Review: Wingz Sleeves

Reviewing Fashion Wingz - Sleeves for Every Occasion!

I came across Wingz on Facebook  recently and wondered where they had been all my life. After mentioning them in my weekly overview post last Sunday, Wingz got in touch and asked me if I'd like to review a set. You can be sure I jumped at the chance!

The Wingz concept is so cool: they're arm covers that go under rather than over your outfit. I've always loved the layered look of sleeves under a dress or short sleeved top but, come the summer - or a tight fitting outfit - and they're not particularly practical. Wingz solves the problem of bulk, while also providing a new option for those looking for modest clothing, ways to make their existing wardrobe more versatile, or just a simple arm cover-up.

This video explains what Wingz are all about - check it out on the website too for further info.

After much umming and ahhing I went for the White Chiffon Flare Wingz (£14.99). The floaty style is perfect for summer! Wingz come in four different sizes: 0 (UK 6-10), 1 (12-16), 2 (18-22), 3 (24-28). I'm wearing a size 22 at the moment but went for the 4, on the basis that it's easier to put a few stitches in and make something smaller than it is to have something digging in under the bust. In the event, I needn't have worried as they're true to size, though the stretchiness means you can easily go up or down if you're on the borders like me.

They arrived in super quick time, so after confirming the review on Monday I found them waiting for me when I got in from work on Tuesday. I tried them on quickly before I had to go food shopping, relying on Anthony's dubious photographic skills:

White chiffon flare wingz with a black cap sleeved top

I was really pleased with how little bulk they created - the band sits with your bra so it's really comfy. Anthony liked the way they looked but asked why I couldn't just wear a top with longer sleeves... Men. *sigh*

On Thursday I decided to try them out properly as I was going to Cwmbran High's prize evening in my role as deputy mayor. The dress I was planning on wearing is sleeveless, and I knew I'd feel self-conscious having my arms on display. Usually I'd wear a thin cardigan or a shrug, but it can get really hot and uncomfortable with the chain on over the top of them.

white chiffon flare wings under a sleeveless navy dress with white polkadots

The Wingz were so much more comfortable to wear, and I felt a lot more confident having that bit of a sleeve. I'm already thinking about which pair to get next!

Take a look at the website and let me know which Wingz is your favourite. :)
You can also connect with Wingz on Facebook and Twitter.

For more reviews, please click the picture below:
Reviews from Babi a Fi - food, fashion, beauty, baby, toys, books, tech, days out, and more!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Party Bags and Supplies Giveaway

Win £30 to spend at Party Bags and Supplies

There are so many reasons in life to celebrate, from birthdays to anniversaries to sporting or academic success. (If you're still struggling, check out my editorial calendar ideas posts which lists all the weird and wonderful celebration days for each month.) And one of the best ways to celebrate is with a party!

1/6 scale birthday party

That's where Party Bags and Supplies has got your back. They have a huge range of products covering all the party essentials, from tableware, to decorations, to party bag fillers - and offer free UK delivery on orders over £50. If you fancy bagging yourself £30 to spend on the site, just fill out the Gleam form below:

£30 to spend at Party Bags and Supplies

Monday, 20 June 2016

Release Day Blitz: Random Acts of Unkindness by Jacqueline Ward

Random Acts of Unkindness by Jacqueline Ward - book cover

"How far would you go to find your child?

DS Jan Pearce has a big problem. Her fifteen year old son, Aiden, is missing. Jan draws together the threads of missing person cases spanning fifty years and finds tragic connections and unsolved questions.

Bessy Swain, an elderly woman that Jan finds dead on her search for Aiden, and whose own son, Thomas, was also missing, may have the answers.

Jan uses Bessy's information and her own skills and instinct to track down the missing boys. But is it too late for Aiden?

Set in the North West of England, with the notorious Saddleworth Moor as a backdrop, Random Acts of Unkindness is a story about motherhood, love and loss and how families of missing people suffer the consequences of major crimes involving their loved ones.

Random Acts of Unkindness is the first in the DS Jan Pearce series of novels."

This fab sounding crime / thriller novel, rated 5 stars by early reviewers, is out today - buy it on Amazon for £2.92 (Kindle) or £8.99 (paperback). I have been lucky enough to be sent a review copy, and will be sharing my thoughts on it in my regular 'What I Read Last Month' post on July 20th. Until then, keep up to date with the latest reviews on Goodreads.

You can also check out the first chapter for free!

Photograph of author, Jaqueline Ward
About the Author

Jacqueline Ward writes short stories, novels and screenplays. She has been writing seriously since 2007 and has had short stories published in anthologies and magazines. Her novel SmartYellowTM was published by Elsewhen Press in 2015 and was nominated for the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2016, the same year Jacqueline won Kindle Scout.

Jacqueline is a Chartered psychologist who specializes in narrative psychology, gaining a PhD in narrative and storytelling in 2007. She lives in Oldham, near Manchester, with her partner and their dog.

You can connect with Jacqueline on FacebookGoodreads, Twitter, and her website,

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