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Showing posts from June, 2016

What I've Won in June

This has been an awesome month for comping - I'm back in the zone! Unfortunately I logged on to my online banking last night to find that I've lost over £200 in skimmed ATM transactions. I suppose it goes to show that what the Lord giveth with one hand, he taketh with the other. :( ☆ Pack of Moony nappies from Lily's Little Learners . ☆ Father's Day picture block from D&S Wooden Picture Blocks and Crafts . ☆ Small travel bag from Intatec . ☆  Luxury hamper from  Jelly Belly . ☆   Britt Bear  from  My Baba . ☆  LG G5 handset and 32" LG TV from  Trusted Reviews . ☆ Jam jar toppers from HettyHopDesigns . Image from the Hetty Hop Designs Etsy shop. ☆  Marbled notebook from the  BoundlessBooks88 etsy shop . ☆  Pair of builders' gloves from  Screwfix . ☆   Grainger Street by Tony Stowers from Goodreads. ☆  The Usborne Famous Composers Sticker Book. ☆  Necklace and earrings set from Touchstone Accessories . ☆  Teddy Bear from Quality

Review: Order Blinds Online

Marianna's bedroom window looks out - and is looked upon - by lots of neighbours, so I've been meaning to get a net or something for it ever since we moved in. It's one of those thousands of things I hadn't got around to, for all I remembered why I wanted one every time I wandered in with bed hair and bleary eyes... So, when Order Blinds Online contacted me to ask if I would like to review a set of made to measure blinds, I knew just the window to try them out on! About Order Blinds Order Blinds was founded in 2009, in Bottesford, Leiscestershire, and employs three awesome members of full time staff. (I know they're awesome because my experience with them has been first class!) They offer a free sample service, free UK delivery on orders over £99, and the website is super easy to navigate. The range itself is huge, with all kinds of blinds from roller to venetian to skylight. We went for vertical blinds, and even here there are so many options, f

The Harry Potter Tag

I loved Harry Potter as a teen, so when I saw this tag over at the Pretty Purple Polka Dots blog I had to give it a go! #1. Favourite Harry Potter Book?  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This was the first one I read, after seeing Chamber of Secrets at the cinema. My brother had the book out at the time from his school library, so I figured I'd give it a try. I loved it so much I went straight out that weekend and got the first two books. #2. Least Favourite Harry Potter Book?  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I still enjoyed it, but it was too long. It felt a bit like reading LotR and Tom Bombadil's random interlude all over again. #3. Favourite Harry Potter Movie? The Prisoner of Azkaban. The CGI werewolf sucked, but apart from that it lived up to my expectations. #4. Least Favourite Harry Potter Movie? The Chamber of Secrets. Again, I still liked it, but it's the weakest of the series in my opinion. #5. Favourite Quote? 

What If Young People Voted?

I've wondered this ever since I first became interested in politics. Because the figures show, election after election, that the older generation turn out to vote while the young leave it up to someone else to decide. (We're talking generalisations, of course!) In 2015 78% of the 65 and overs exercised their democratic right to vote - in the 18 to 24 age bracket the same was true of only 43%. Turnout at last week's referendum vote was even more starkly divided. 83% of the OAPs vs. just 36% of the under 25s. But if you don't bother to turn up, you can't expect politicians to try and win your vote. That's why all the big parties formulate policy with the old in mind - they're the ones who will make or break their electoral chances. Free bus passes, winter fuel payments, cold weather payments, pension credit, council tax benefit, free prescriptions and eye tests, senior railcards, free TV licences, plus rafts of local and private business arrangements

This Week #41

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 a

How can we help our children to learn about sharing?

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

Black Friday

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 Agric

Friday Frivolity: Summer Giveaway

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.

Review: Wingz Sleeves

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

Party Bags and Supplies Giveaway

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! 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

Release Day Blitz: Random Acts of Unkindness by Jacqueline Ward

"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

25 Facebook Groups to Boost Your Blog

Blogger exchange and engagement groups are a great way of pulling in extra traffic and ensuring your posts are seen. Although the ideal is that all your traffic and interaction will be natural and organic, the reality is that we all need a bit of a boost from time to time. Numbers aren't everything, it's true, but we're all guilty of clicking on the article with the higher number of likes on the basis that all those other people can't be wrong. Exchange groups can give your content a good base of likes and comments to encourage further engagement. They can also be a heads up to guest posting chances, and review / sponsored post opportunities, as well as helping you get to know other bloggers. Here are 25 Facebook groups which will give your blog a boost - click the titles to be taken to the group. (I've not included groups which are just blog posts posted to the wall.) #25. UK Bloggers . This is the facebook group of the UK Bloggers forum and advice webs

This Week #40

Another long week - or at least, that's the way it's felt! There was no seminar on Monday so I got to go food shopping a day early (yay...), but we also went to B&M Bargains and picked up some cool bits and pieces. Monday also saw my nemesis - the hedge in the front garden - cut back as much as possible. (There's a wire fence interwoven with it, so it can't go any lower until we get the fence out.) The only problem is that we really need to sort out the front garden, because all the passersby can now see what a mess it is. I had planning committee on Tuesday ( webcast ), and resources overview and scrutiny ( webcast ) took up most of Wednesday. Anthony's mum and dad came around in the evening to drop off some toys they picked up at the local auction for Marianna - plus a dollhouse for me to do up. :D Last Saturday was Torfaen Labour Women's AGM and I was given the task of writing a blog post for Monday on why we should remain in the EU , in readines