Thursday, 30 November 2017

Choirs in Torfaen

Join a choir in Torfaen.

Torfaen is well blessed with choirs - no matter where you live in the borough you won't be far from one, trust me! If you are interested in joining, or even just listening, to a choir, check out the options below.

Pontnewydd Male Choir.


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Out and About in Torfaen







Saturday, 2 September 2017

Pontnewydd Male Voice Choir

Pontnewydd Male Choir

This is one of the biggest and longest running choirs in the area. It was originally founded way back in 1904 which makes it the oldest surviving choir in South Wales.

The choir practices twice a week - Tuesday and Fridays, 7:30 - 9pm - at Fairhill Methodist Church Hall in Cwmbran.

If you're interested you can just pop along to a practice, or get in touch with the general secretary, Phil Pritchard, on 07879 860603 or on email at generalsecretary@pontnewyddmalechoir.org.uk.

Over the years the choir has performed all across the UK - and further afield - and still performs regularly, raising money for charity.

Pontnewydd Choir in 1912
Pontnewydd Male Choir in 1912 - via the PMC website.

For more information check out their website or their Facebook page.


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Friday, 1 September 2017

Merchant Navy Day

Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day

Merchant Navy Day is celebrated across the UK on September 3rd. It was introduced in 2000 in honour of those who helped keep us afloat in wartime and continue to supply us with some 95% of our imports. A growing number of councils show their support for the day by flying the Red Ensign, the official flag of the Merchant Navy.

TCBC are flying the flag, and Cwmbran Community Council held a full flag hoisting ceremony this morning at the Council House.


For more information on the day and how you can get involved, click the banner below:
Merchant Navy Day






Out and About in Torfaen




Thursday, 31 August 2017

CCYP - Cwmbran Centre for Young People

CCYP - Cwmbran Centre for Young People - was established in 2000 and has grown from strength to strength. This year they became the first organisation in Wales to achieve the Gold Quality Mark for youth work, and they engage with hundreds of young people every week both on site and via commissioned projects like the school counselling service.

I used to volunteer there myself, a vague number of years ago that will make me feel less old (!), and I'm on the management committee this year - so I can speak firsthand as to the excellent work they do and the life changing outcomes they achieve for young people in Torfaen. Because in addition to providing a safe environment for young people to hang out and spend time with friends, the centre also provides support ranging from alternative education provision, to work based learning, to a food bank and help with setting up home.

We popped in yesterday for the open day to mark the relaunching of the centre, complete with new logo, opening of the Pump It Up! gym, and the most gorgeous mural on the outside wall. Seriously, if you have chance, go and take a look at it - it's amazing! (If you're not familiar with the centre, it's next to the Leisure @ Cwmbran complex, just across the road from Wetherspoons.)

For more info on the centre, give them a follow on Twitter and Facebook!


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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Torfaen Residents' Survey 2017

If you have a spare ten minutes, fill out this year's residents' survey to help Torfaen County Borough Council determine whether or not council policy is making a difference on the ground. Here's the official survey blurb:

Residents Survey 2017 

Our annual residents survey is your opportunity to tell us whether the actions we are taking on your behalf are making a difference to the lives of the people living in Torfaen. This year the survey is a lot shorter and focuses on the key priorities of the council:

 - creating a clean, green Torfaen
 - supporting our most vulnerable residents
 - raising educational attainment

Following the feedback from the last survey we have taken a number of measures based on what people said including:


  • the Torfaen spring clean - a deep cleanse of the borough including roadside verges and open spaces and events to support communities to improve their local environment 
  • provided extra funding to enable stronger enforcement of dog fouling and litter 
  • provided £1 million extra funding to help improve roads in the borough 
  • focussed our capital investment on improving our school buildings 
  • invested extra funding for social care services to vulnerable residents.


Click here to complete the survey in English.



Arolwg Trigolion 2017 

Ein harolwg trigolion blynyddol yw eich cyfle chi i ddweud wrthym os yw’r camau rydym yn eu cymryd ar eich rhan yn gwneud gwahaniaeth i fywydau pobl sy’n byw yn Nhorfaen. Eleni, mae’r arolwg yn llawer byrrach ac yn canolbwyntio ar flaenoriaethau allweddol y cyngor:

 - creu Torfaen lân a gwyrdd
 - cynorthwyo’r trigolion sydd fwyaf agored i niwed
 - codi cyrhaeddiad addysgol

Ar ôl yr adborth o’r arolwg diwethaf, rydym wedi cymryd nifer o fesurau yn seiliedig ar yr hyn ddwedodd pobl, gan gynnwys:


  • glanhau mawr y gwanwyn - glanhau’r fwrdeistref yn drwyadl gan gynnwys ymylon ffyrdd a mannau agored, a digwyddiadau i gynorthwyo cymunedau i wella eu hamgylchedd lleol 
  • darparu cyllid ychwanegol i alluogi gorfodi rheolau baw cŵn a sbwriel yn gryfach 
  • £1 filiwn yn ychwanegol i helpu ffyrdd yn y fwrdeistref 
  • canolbwyntio ein buddsoddiad cyfalaf ar wella adeiladau ysgol 
  • buddsoddi cyllid ychwanegol ar gyfer gwasanaethau gofal cymdeithasol i drigolion sy’n agored i niwed 


Cwblhewch yr arolwg yn Gymraeg.



The closing date for the survey is September 30th.

Also, if one survey just isn't enough, check out the Torfaen Peoples' Panel.



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Friday, 25 August 2017

Pride Cymru

TCBC Rainbow Flag Day

We can't get to this year's Pride march in Cardiff, but we did get involved with some fundraising this morning. TCBC flew the Rainbow Flag and staff wore rainbow clothes and accessories to raise money for Stonewall Cymru.

Marianna with Stonewall Poster

Monday, 21 August 2017

Parkinson's UK - Torfaen Support Group

We were recently invited to a fundraising tea for Parkinson's UK, organised by the Torfaen Support Group. Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition - there is currently no cure, and it is not yet known why people get it. This makes funding for research absolutely vital.

There were over 90 sufferers, carers, and supporters in attendance for a gorgeous tea followed by strawberries and ice cream. Over £540 was raised and that amount looks set to more than double after local supermarkets pledged a day for bucket collections in the near future!

We had a great time and, for the first time since becoming Mayor, I actually won a raffle prize! Marianna chose from the table, and picked out some bubble bath. Only she can use it though, apparently, because it was her 'present'. Who am I to argue??

The next event is a concert at St. Alban's R.C. High School on Friday 10th November. Tickets cost £5 - you can purchase from the school or contact lenburbidge@hotmail.co.uk.

For more information, check out www.parkinsons.org.uk.

For more info on the Torfaen Support Group, click HERE. They meet the third Thursday of every month, 2:30 - 4:30pm, at The Log Cabin in Penygarn.




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Friday, 21 July 2017

Fic Writers Week Day #5

Fic Writers Week 2017

Fic Writers Week is an initiative over on Tumblr to celebrate fandom - the writers who create all that free content, and the readers who consume it. Find out more at my masterpost.

The task for day five is...

Verbatim. Writers: Share your favourite quotes from your fics - There’s always those passages that you’re the most proud of writing. This prompt is so you can proudly showcase them to your readers!

Humour is hard to write so here are a few lines I was particularly pleased with:

#1. Kind Of - Rules of Engagement fic with Russell trying to convince Timmy to give the marriage a go ~
His father was a shallow, lecherous womanizer, and Russell had spent his whole life trying to make the guy proud by being just like him.  
... 
'So,' he tried again, 'do you want me to come over and put the kama in your sutra?'
His phone buzzed only minutes later. 
'While I congratulate you on finding a line which is both repellent and mildly offensive, I really must decline your offer.' 
Russell frowned, and before he had chance to mouth the words through more than once his cell buzzed again. 
'To summarize in a word of one syllable: no.'
#2. Also this whole scene from a Stuart/Raj The Big Bang Theory fic I wrote in 2013. I find snappy dialogue a real struggle but I think it turned out well. :3
"I say again," Howard said, with a longing glance at the Xbox controller on the coffee table, "where's the problem?" 
"Dude!" Raj exclaimed, and flung his arms around for extra emphasis. "Have you been listening to me? Stuart's family thinks Stuart and I are an item, and they want me to stay for the Thanksgiving as Stuart's boyfriend!" 
Sheldon sniffed, watching his gesticulation in distaste. "While I will miss your traditional Thanksgiving gift - and please note the lack of determiner before Thanksgiving - it is the accepted social custom in these circumstances." When Raj only stared at him, bewildered, Sheldon went on, "I believe the usual advice offered in such a situation is 'man up'." 
Penny just shrugged and gestured the hand holding her fork in Sheldon's general direction. "What he said." 
That left Leonard, and Raj looked at him beseechingly. Surely Leonard would understand how disturbing this latest turn of events was? 
Leonard pushed his glasses up his nose, and Raj leaned so far out of his seat in anticipation he was on the verge of falling. He did fall, flailing hopelessly as he clambered back onto the chair, because Leonard's opening line was, 
"I know it's kind of scary when things start getting serious, but meeting someone's mother doesn't have to be that big a deal. Penny help me out here." 
Penny put her hands out in front of her, as though warding off the question. "Your mother is not a good case in point." 
"Try meeting my mother," Howard muttered, bitter, and Raj interrupted the lot of them, panic rising because if this was some sort of weird prank, he was already sick of it, 
"Things are not getting serious, because there are no things! There is nothing. Nada. Shunya. Stuart is not my boyfriend!" 
That caught their attention. 
"Aw, sweetie, did you and Stuart break up again?" 
Raj gaped at Penny, wondering if Sheldon's alternate universe theory was correct, and he had been accidentally transported into the realm of another Rajesh Ramayan Koothrappali. One who noticed things like how nice Stuart smelled, and the way he was cutting and sharp to everyone and about everything but smiled at Raj all shy and secretive, like he was the only one whose opinion actually mattered. 
"Again?" He asked, because it seemed the more important thing to focus on. Stuart's eyes were just eyes, it wasn't weird that he was realising he had always thought them pretty. "We never broke up one time, because we were never together. I'm not gay!" 
He probably should have started with the last one, he thought with the gift of hindsight. 
"Wait," Howard said, and this time Raj knew he had his friend's full attention. He could almost hear the cogs whirring. "But you live together." 
"Sheldon and Leonard live together," Raj countered, and it hurt, just a little, that Howard couldn't just accept his word for it. 
"He does have a point," Sheldon noted. 
"Yeah, but you two don't sleep in the same bed," Howard pointed out, and though Raj opened his mouth to protest, he was forced to close it, no obvious argument forming.
"That is usually a pre-requisite for regular coitus." 
"Shut up, Sheldon," Raj snapped. "We don't have coitus. We're just two dudes who share a bed." His apartment was small, and his couch was uncomfortable. And it wasn't as if Stuart squirmed about or snored. Not loudly, at any rate. "That's all there is to it." 
"Okay," Howard said, in the way that meant it wasn't okay at all. 
"You're Facebook married," Penny said, her food forgotten. "You bought him a bunch of roses for Valentine's Day. I was there." She gave Leonard a look which suggested a visit to the comic store was not the kind of romantic gesture she appreciated. 
"Yeah," Raj conceded, "but it wasn't a love thing. We're just two dudes who share a bed and buy each other flowers occasionally. There is nothing homosexual about it." 
"Can you even hear yourself?" Howard asked, but refrained from making a more detailed attempt at ripping Raj's arguments to pieces. That was the kind of sacrifice you made for a best friend. 
"This is fascinating," Sheldon said, untouched by social niceties. "Tell me, would you be willing to have electrodes attached to your brain?" 
"Sheldon," Penny said, warningly, and Sheldon pouted like a child and said defiantly,
"I was only thinking of a potential research angle for Amy. That is why we make such a good partnership, we understand each other." 
"No, I'm not even going there," Penny said, more to herself than to the room at large, then turned to Raj. She even took his hand. Raj swallowed thickly. "Raj, sweetie, you don't think you and Stuart are in a relationship, I get it." 
Howard muttered something at that. Raj chose to be the bigger man and ignored him. 
"But," Penny continued, and her tone changed, like she was trying to sugarcoat something he really wasn't going to want to hear, "are you sure that Stuart doesn't? Because, from where I'm sitting, it doesn't sound like Stuart had any objections to taking you home and introducing you to his Mom as his boyfriend." 
It was a ridiculous idea. But... Stuart hadn't looked uncomfortable at his sister's comments, he hadn't even looked all that embarrassed - and it was a very rare occasion that Stuart didn't look embarrassed - and the week before, when Sheldon had made him stay late at the office, Stuart made him dinner and kissed his cheek like they were living in a 1950s sitcom. Stuart was kind of sweet like that, leaving him little notes, and fixing him packed lunches, and never saying anything on the mornings when they woke up in a tangle of limbs, Stuart's fingers soothing through the tangles in his hair... 
"Oh God," Raj groaned and buried his face in his hands. "My parents are going to kill me."




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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Fic Writers Week Day #4

Fic Writers Week 2017

Fic Writers Week is an initiative over on Tumblr to celebrate fandom - the writers who create all that free content, and the readers who consume it. Find out more at my masterpost.

The task for day four is...

The devil's in the details. Writers: Highlight details you put into your work - Foreshadowing? External reference? Show off some subtle details you’ve included in your fics that readers might have missed!

I suppose the one that immediately springs to mind is Deal, the Devil Went Down To Georgia fic I wrote for Yuletide a few years back. I did my best to cram in as many references to other versions of the song, folklore, media, etc, as I could. Eg.
Not that he didn’t have his own troubles with the union, the Devil conceded as he checked his road map, then tried turning it upside down for good measure. Demonic possession had seemed just the ticket to up his brand recognition, but a proper possession was so longwinded and tiresome, and the Seventh Circle of Hell branch had taken to distributing propagandist pamphlets, complaining that spending months trapped in the body of a hormonal teenage girl wasn’t anywhere near as fun as it sounded.
Another fic I specifically went out of my way to include subtle references for was Friends with Benefits, a Breakfast Club fic I wrote  this summer. It’s from Bender’s POV:
Allison gets it, obviously, and even Claire doesn’t drag things out any longer than necessary. She keeps him hanging on a leash for a week or two, like some stray she’s found in the street; then she gets bored of his not having any money, not having a Daddy he can ask for a few bucks to tide him over, and ditches him for some preppy idiot who doesn’t wear socks with his loafers.
Pretty in Pink is one of my all time favourite films and I couldn’t resist including a little nod to Blane and his richie ways. :D



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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Fic Writers Week Day #3

Fic Writers Week 2017

Fic Writers Week is an initiative over on Tumblr to celebrate fandom - the writers who create all that free content, and the readers who consume it. Find out more at my masterpost.

The task for day three is...

Writers: Highlight your new/underrated fics - Have a story you’re proud of but that you wish had gotten more attention? Just published a fic and want people to see it? This day is the perfect chance to talk about them!

The thing is, I mostly write for small fandoms and the recognition any particular fic gets is directly related to the size of the fandom.

E.g. Where I Want To Be is one of my favourite things I’ve ever written, but it has attracted only two comments across AO3 and FFN in the almost six years since I wrote it. It was exactly the story Tucker’s Luck made me want to tell though, and I still love it completely.

I suppose the other one which is never going to be read much but I’m still really proud of is In Night and Ice, which is an ill fated love story with a Titanic background. It’s probably the longest piece of original fic I’ve ever actually shared with the world, and I had fun putting my addiction to Edwardian romances to good use. :)



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Monday, 17 July 2017

Fic Writers Week Day #1

Fic Writers Week 2017

Fic Writers Week is an initiative over on Tumblr to celebrate fandom - the writers who create all that free content, and the readers who consume it. Find out more at my masterpost.

The task for day one is...

Writers: favourite comments - There’s always those comments that stick, the ones that help you push through a story or personal favourites that you just have to reread from time to time. Writers, this is the day to share some of those!

Comments mean so much because they inspire you to keep writing, to carry on pouring time and effort into this hobby over others, and they help create a sense of community within fandom. I got back into fandom last year after about 2 years away and there is no doubt that it had changed. But the squee and the encouragement I got through comments made me still feel a part of it, even though I’m not the type to be on discord or chat.

So far this year I’ve written about 500,000 words of fic and it’s been amazing stress relief from the most hectic year I’ve ever lived through, workwise. Much of that has been the result of interacting in comments, getting prompts, or fandom exchanges - something kind of based around comment culture.

I’ve also made it my mission to comment on the stuff I consume, rather than just hitting the kudos / like button. I know how it can brighten my day to get a comment, even if it’s just a little line to say ‘I liked this’.

Still, the task is to pick a favourite, so I’ll go with the email I received about 7 years ago now. I was mostly writing teen fiction at the time, coming out and coming of age, etc, and a young lad wrote to me to say it had given him the courage to come out to his parents. I’ve still got a copy of it somewhere, and it still makes me smile even now. I’ve always viewed my fic as disposable - like the 'sting in the tale’ in a magazine, something you read once and then throw away - but somewhere out there is someone who read and re-read and made a huge decision based on something I wrote.

That’s pretty amazing!


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Thursday, 13 July 2017

Trolley Free

this is a trolley free zone

We went out this morning with Bron Afon's neighbourhood caretaker team to deliver a new poster to help tackle abandoned trolleys. It has been a longstanding problem in Cwmbran - we're sadly renowned as one of the worst areas in the UK for it - and Northville is a particular hotspot. In one day alone 229 abandoned trolleys were counted around the estate.

Everyone knows why it happens: a high concentration of supermarkets in a small area, easy pedestrian access, and the low car ownership among residents. What is more difficult is coming up with a workable solution to the problem.

Trolleywise collection service work with a number of the stores, and have just signed a contract with Morrisons which will hopefully have a big impact over the coming weeks. The Bron Afon leaflet lists contact information for Cwmbran stores, or you can also use the Trolleywise app to report trolleys for Asda and Morrisons.

We had a pretty good response on the doorstep, and walking back we saw that a few people had already put the poster up in their windows. Fingers crossed it will have a positive impact!

Bron Afon trolley poster




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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Pontypool Town Educational Digital Resource

Pontypool Town Educational Digital Resource

I was up at Pontypool Museum this morning for the launch of the Pontypool Town Educational Digital Resource - otherwise known as the Townscape Heritage Initiative Educational Resource. That's a bit of a mouthful but, basically, it's a new online tool for schools, students, and anybody else interested in the history of Pontypool.


The base of activity is the website - www.pontypoolmuseum.org.uk/thi - which has a page for each module or topic. These include Pontypool Town Centre, Pontypool Park and The Hanbury Family, Pontypool and Japanware, Pontypool Market, Pontypool Townscape Heritage Initiative, and 21st Century Pontypool. Each module is supported with worksheets, downloadable resources, digital heritage trails (which have their own app), and online games. I particularly like the town jigsaw and the Georgian or Victorian? architecture games! :)

Georgian or Victorian architectural Features Game

The other great feature is that alongside the teaching guides and suggested activities are a wealth of copyright free primary sources available to download, ranging from maps to historical photographs. Obviously these will support learning, but can also serve as the basis for arts and crafts projects both in and out of school.


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Friday, 7 July 2017

Friday Frivolity

Friday Frivolity




Thursday, 6 July 2017

Torfaen Family Information Service

Torfaen Family Information Service

Torfaen Family Information Service is something you might not have heard of before, but once you've checked them out you'll wish you had known about them sooner! They provide free and impartial information on childcare (providers, careers, and tax credits / vouchers), services and activities for children, young people and families (including parents-to-be) in Torfaen.

The website - www.torfaenfis.org.uk - is crammed with useful information about local childcare providers, explanations of the early years curriculum and its delivery, as well as things for kids to do in Torfaen from a listing of sports clubs to support groups for children with additional needs. If you have children it's well worth following FIS on social media as they post regular information on what's going on in the area - especially the free and the inclusive.

Probably the best thing about the FIS however is that they can tailor their information to your inquiry. If you send them an email at fis@torfaen.gov.uk they can send you an info pack back to you via email or post, or you can give them a ring on the freephone number 0800 0196 330 - the phones are staffed during office hours, and there is a 24 hour answer machine service.

Alternatively, you can speak to someone face to face at the Cwmbran Integrated Children's Centre, based on the Nant Celyn school site on Ton Road.


Find out more at www.torfaenfis.org.uk or connect with them on social media via:

Link to Torfaen FIS Facebook page. Link to Torfaen FIS Twitter account


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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Unique Boutique Salon - Beauty at Furley's

Beauty at Furley's Open Evening

Since becoming Mayor I've been invited to all kinds of different events, but one of the more glam was definitely an open evening for Beauty at Furley's! (There was even a topless waiter who you can kind of see in shot there. Definitely a change of pace from the usual Mayoral engagement!)

Leanne Furley is a hair and make-up artist, beauty therapist and nail technician - she even managed to work my own nails into a condition that has had people complimenting them. I literally cannot remember the last time that happened. It was before Marianna came along, I know that much.

Beauty at Furley's

The open evening was to celebrate Leanne making Unique Boutique Salon her new operating base, offering everything from prom and bridal hair / make-up through to tanning treatments and acting as a rep for Timeless Truth face masks. Check out the full range:

Beauty at Furley's price list

A huge thank you to Leanne for inviting me - and raising some funds for my Mayoral charities with a raffle! It was super appreciated and I had a great time. I hope the business only continues to go from strength to strength. :)

See more of Leanne's work over on her blog - leannefurleymua.wordpress.com - or connect with her on social media via: 
Link to Beauty at Furley's Facebook page link to Beauty at Furley's instagram profile Link to Beauty at Furley's Twitter account


Unique Boutique Salons

The salon itself is also a recent venture, located on Llantarnam Industrial Estate in Cwmbran. The idea behind it is simple yet kind of genius - although they have some staff based full time in the salon, the space is available to be rented out by the hour to mobile hairdressers, beauticians and nail technicians. This might mean having a regular slot to see particular clients, or a more one-off arrangement enabling them to work with a larger number of people than they would otherwise be able to.

It's a gorgeous salon, and the location means there is plenty of parking and scope for early and late opening too. Read more about the details of how it works HERE, or find out more via Facebook and Twitter.



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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Torfaen People's Panel

Torfaen People's Panel

The Torfaen People's Panel is all about having your say on the issues which matter to you.

It's a consultative panel of people living in Torfaen and aims to give local people a chance to have their say about public services and life in the Borough. The idea is for it to be broadly typical of Torfaen's population in terms of gender, ethnicity and geography - so we need people of all ages from all across the borough to sign up if we want it to be truly representative!

Panel members will have the chance to take part in:

  • Surveys: members will be invited to respond to postal questionnaires, telephone or internet surveys.
  • Workshops: members will be invited to participate in community workshops.
  • Scrutiny: members will be able to examine local issues in detail by listening to information from public officers and then discussing their views in light of what they have heard in order to advise how local public/voluntary bodies should deliver their services.
  • Focus groups: smaller groups of members will be able to get together to explore a specific issue in depth.
  • As well as taking part in 'observational studies' or working with Public Service Officers on specific projects. 

You can pick and choose what you want to take part in - over time there will be a range and choice of activities and topics to suit different members of the Panel. Your contribution will then help inform the decisions made by the council, the police, voluntary organisations and the local health sector.

If that was all a bit TL;DR, TCBC has even put together this nifty video to explain it better:


If you're interested in having your say and making a difference, you can register online or email getinvolved@torfaen.gov.uk for more information. If you would like a form to be posted to you, you can again email or ring 01495 766475.





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Monday, 3 July 2017

My Favourite Hymns

My Favourite Hymns

One of the stranger things about being Mayor is that you spend a lot of time at church or, at least, at public services. I have sung more hymns in the last few weeks than I have since primary school, which was when I came to the conclusion I was an atheist. That wasn't the fault of the hymns though, in fact they were my favourite thing about living in what Rowan Williams calls 'post-Christian' Britain!

We're not a particularly religious nation, but Christianity is still a big part of civic life. And the singing of hymns is part and parcel of that - even when you've never heard of them before... Still, it's inspired me to think about the hymns I do know, mostly from my schooldays, and which of those I liked best. :)

I quickly realised that, when it comes to hymns, I am something of a Sydney Carter fangirl. Carter was a poet and songwriter who penned the soundtrack to my primary school assemblies. First up there's One More Step Along The World I Go, a lovely hymn about life as a journey - making it a favourite at end of year school concerts.


Next up is that perennial school favourite, When I Needed A Neighbour. Not only does this hymn have an important message about breaking down barriers, it also provides an excuse to sing the word 'naked'. What more could a bunch of easily amused eight-year-olds ask for?


The best Carter hymn is also his best known, the 1963 song Lord of the Dance. This was my absolute favourite as a kid, no doubt helped along by the contemporary popularity of Riverdance, and we're going to have it as one of the hymns at my own civic service this weekend. I really wanted to have a hymn all the kids would know - even Marianna. :)


Finally moving away from Carter, another school favourite was Laurie London's 1957 hit (it peaked at #12 on the UK charts) He's Got The Whole World In His Hands. It had actions and everything.

Another hymn I like which has done well in the charts - multiple times! - is Kumbaya which was first recorded in the 1920s.


The top spot has to go to All Things Bright and Beautiful though. The lyrics are by Cecil Frances Alexander, and originally appeared in her 'Hymns for Little Children' in 1848.




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Saturday, 1 July 2017

Two and Half Today!

Marianna is officially two and a half years old! Cue photos... :D



Friday, 23 June 2017

Friday Frivolity - Dogs

Friday Frivolity

This week we're talking about dogs.

Also, if you're in the UK, don't forget to check out my current competition to win a Meg Heath dog collar and lead. :)


When I was a kid my favourite monkey was the little red monkey - the cast of BBC radio comedy Take It From Here released it as a novelty record in 1953. I've tried to convince Marianna it is better than her modern favourites but to no avail.


And then once I was a little older everyone was mad for that Bloodhound Gang track where they dressed as monkeys. Apparently they're still around and even released a new album in 2015 - 16 years after The Bad Touch hit airplay. Man, I feel old..



Monday, 19 June 2017

Review: Meg Heath Dog Leads

Meg Heath Dog Leads Review

If you're looking for dog collars or leads, Meg Heath has you covered. They also sell head collars, training leads and harnesses, and are always adding to the range. Everything is available in a wide range of colours - 18 right now! - and if you have something special in mind they will work with you to create bespoke collars and leads. In fact, none of their products are pre-made as you can customise the size, colour and fittings of every item you buy.

We went for the Double Tag Flat Collar (from £9.99) and the Double Up Lead (from £8), both in electric blue. The latter is particularly handy as you can use it at full length or half length, which is great if you don't want to carry multiple leads with you on walks.

Meg Heath Dog Leads

I was really impressed with the quality - all items come with a five year guarantee and the stitching has a lifetime guarantee! Based in Lincolnshire, Meg Heath have been working with dogs in rescue, training, and boarding kennels since the mid 1980s. In other words, they know what they're doing when it comes to creating top notch products for your pooches.

Here is Bracken modelling her new collar:

Meg Heath Dog Collar

Not satisfied with the challenge of getting Bracken to stay still long enough for a photograph, I then decided to get Marianna to pose with Bracken and the new double up lead. The lead is awesome. Getting a two year old and her best friend to co-operate... not so much.

Meg Heath Dog Leads Review

Meg Heath Electric Blue Dog Lead

Still, you can see what a gorgeous colour that lead is! Check out the range for yourself at Meg Heath Dog Leads. You can also connect with them on social media via Facebook and Twitter.

Meg Heath are also kindly offering a dog collar and lead to one lucky reader! Fill out the Gleam form below to get up to five chances to win. :)

Meg Heath Dog Leads Giveaway







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