Thursday, 29 November 2018

Marianna Q&A

Interview with Marianna

An interview with Marianna. :)

What Is Your Favourite Colour?  Blue.

What Is Your Favourite Food?  Strawberries.

What Is Your Favourite Treat?  Bubbles!

What Is Your Favourite Subject In School?  Playing in the home corner. There are cups and food.

What Is Your Favourite Sport?  I don't know.

What Is Your Favourite Hobby?  What are hobbies? [Explains - gets nowhere...] Apples. I'm making them at school. We're doing 'ah' for 'apple'.

What Is Your Favourite Movie?  Mary Poppins.

What Is Your Favourite TV Show?  Midge! [1960s kids' classic Mary, Mungo and Midge]

Mary, Mungo and Midge

What Is Your Favourite Book?  Hmm. It's... Charlie Rascal!

What Is Your Favourite Animal?  Giraffes.

What Is Your Favourite Song?  Katy Perry. I like the one where she's wearing a lollipop dress.

What Is Your Favourite Vegetable?  I don't really know.

What Is Your Favourite Fruit?  Grapes.

What Is Your Favourite Place To Visit?  Nanny Wendy's.

Where Do You WANT To Visit Some Day?  A castle.

Who Is Your Best Friend? Lily-May and Kaitlin.

What’s Your Favourite Thing To Do With Dad?  Drawing on his computer.

What’s Your Favourite Thing To Do With Mum?  Cwtch with her.

What’s Your Favorite Thing To Do With Bracken?  Smooth her.

Will You Get Married?  No. Little girls don't get married. [when you grow up?] Yes.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? I want to show people how to read. [Presumably having learned how to do so herself first...]

What Is One Thing You Want To Learn How To Do?  Paint.

bear mask

What Is One Of Your Greatest Talents?  Dancing!

What Is Something That You Wish For?  I wish you could be my best friend. [Aww!]

What Is Something You Wonder About?  I wonder about my baby. [Her doll.] I wonder about whether she pooed her nappy.

Who Is Someone That You Miss?  Lily-May. Because I'm not in school.

What Makes You Nervous?  My baby, because she poos in her nappy.

What Makes You Happy?  Drawing in my drawing books. You and daddy and me holding hands. Because we're crossing the road. And we're going to the park with a roudabaout, and a see-saw, and a climbing frame. And a swing!

What Age Do You Look Forward To – And Why?  4. Because I want presents for my birthday.

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Saturday, 17 November 2018

Fake It 'Til You Make It

Threatin CDs - from

I have been avidly following the story of Threatin this week, a big American rock band responsible for the smash hit 'Living is Dying'. Never heard of it? Well, Threatin are actually just a dude named Jered Eames who faked his way to a European tour. Seriously. You can read the full expose at Metal Sucks, but the short version goes like this:

Friday, 16 November 2018

Christmas Gift Appeals

Spread the Joy this Christmas with Charity Gift Appeals

I don't think anyone would argue against the idea that Christmas is more commercialised than ever. The average spend per child is now nudging £200, and research suggests that most of us won't finish paying for this Christmas until at least next April.

For some this kind of spending - or anything like it - simply isn't an option though. Across the UK over 120,000 children will spend Christmas homeless in temporary accomodation, or worse, and over 70,000 in the care of their local authority.

In Torfaen, social services run an annual Santa Appeal to ensure some of our most vulnerable children and young people don't miss out at Christmas. To take part you need to ring 01633 647539; you will be given the first name and age of the child, and a reference number to put on your donation. Gifts must be left unwrapped so they can be checked, but a donation of wrapping paper or gift bags is very appreciated! Once your gift is ready, you need to take it to one of the three drop off points by Monday 3rd December.

Cwmbran Library, Gwent Square, Cwmbran Shopping Centre, NP44 1PL.
TYPSS, The Studio, Oldbury Business Estate, Cwmbran NP44 3JU.
Civic Centre, Glantorvaen Road, Pontypool, NP4 6YN.

You can also donate non-perishable food to make up hampers for young people aged 16 and over who are living alone. In fact, food donations - along with essentials like toiletries, loo roll, nappies and sanitary products - are desperately needed throughout December and January when pressure on food banks is at its highest. Check out the Eastern Valley Foodbank website to find out where your nearest drop off point is.

If you don't live in Torfaen, or are unable to spare much, there are plenty of other options to help you spread the joy this Christmas. (There are so many good causes out there that it's impossible to include them all, so in this post I have focused on those which involve donations of objects, or money for a tangible thing - eg. £10 to buy a toy, animal sponsorship, etc - rather than just general cash donations.)

Christmas Presents


In addition to googling for your local appeals, there are some UK wide schemes which would be grateful for your help.

 Salvation Army Christmas Present Appeal. Donate new and unwrapped toys and gifts for children who might not otherwise receive them. You can generally drop them off at your nearest Salvation Army church.

 Giving Tree. Run by KidsOut, this scheme involves donating gifts worth £5 - £10 (or cash) which are then distributed to children in refuges. The idea is that it replaces 'secret santa' exchanges at work, but individuals can take part too.

 Cash For Kids - Mission Christmas. Operating across Scotland, England, and N. Ireland, this scheme asks for the donation of a new and unwrapped child's gift and drop it off at a local participating store.

 Refuge. Committed to safeguarding women and children against domestic abuse, Refuge enable people to buy individual gifts or parcels to help the charity's service users - these range from Christmas dinner (£5) to law parcels offering legal support (£100). In return Refuge sends out a thank you card which you can then gift to friends and relatives.

 MHA Christmas Friendship Appeal. MHA are a charity which runs care homes and retirement living complexes across England and Wales, and every year they appeal for people to send Christmas cards so that each of their residents can receive an unexpected Christmas greeting. This is such a lovely scheme that even those who couldn't otherwise afford to donate can get involved in.



 Operation Christmas Child. This is probably the best known gift appeal in the UK, the idea being that you fill a shoebox with presents and essentials which is then shipped off to needy children. The format is particularly well suited to schools, and over the years I've taken part numerous times. However the cut off date is relatively early - November 18th this year - and there is some controversy over Samaritan's Purse, the evangelical US organisation which runs it.

 Link To Hope. Another Christian shoebox appeal, but this one doesn't include evangelical literature with the boxes and does not discriminate when it comes to their distribution across Eastern Europe. The nice thing about this scheme is that you can also do boxes for the whole family, or for the elderly, which broadens out the scope for getting involved. Registration has closed for 2018, but it might be one to keep in mind for next year.

 Good Gifts. 'Changing lives one gift at a time.' The great thing about this scheme is that you can be sure you're purchasing something the recipient needs with your donation - be that song sheets for a community choir (£12), or a toilet block for a school in Africa (£450).

 Oxfam Unwrapped. There is a huge range of charity gifts available here; from a poverty busting pig (£23) to a pile of poo (£12)! You go ahead and buy the thing online, and then Oxfam sends you a gift card to present to your friends and family. You can add on little extras to go with the card like flower seeds or chocolates too. I've bought Marianna a chicken through it this year. :)

 AquaBox. Raise funds for emergency aid boxes and water filtration kits. Another similar scheme is ShelterBox which provides tents, thermal blankets, and other emergency supplies.

Animals at Christmas


 Adopt an Animal. These schemes make great gifts for people because they tend to include lots of extras, such as cuddly toys or regular updates on the animal's welfare. No matter what kind of animal you're interested in, there's a package out there for you! Providers include Durrell, WDCWWF, Born Free, World Horse Welfare, Wildlife Aid, Wildlife TrustBlue Cross, and more. Many farms and zoos run an adoption scheme too, so check out your local one for further info.

 Protect the Environment. You can buy acres of rainforest to protect them from development, help species conservation, or dedicate a tree, woodland or bench to someone special. (No judgement if the someone is yourself!) There are a number of charities which offer this kind of service, including World Land TrustWoodland Trust, and Kew Gardens. Local councils and parks also tend to offer tree adoption and suchlike, so check out those close to you.

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Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Review: Angel & Rocket

Angel and Rocket Review

Angel & Rocket is a family run childrenswear brand with an online store and a boutique in Marlow. Launched in 2014 the brand has gone from strength to strength, with a babywear range and party pieces available at John Lewis, Next and Coast. I was lucky enough to win a £50 voucher recently from The Frenchie Mummy and couldn't wait to put it to good use!

Marianna has been, er, gently reminding me for months now that she wants a 'Pollyanna' dress. I've only myself to blame for introducing her to Hayley Mills' back catalogue. Still, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to fulfill the request. There are some absolutely gorgeous party dresses on the website, but the most Pollyanna-esque was deemed to be the Agnes Check Dress with Detachable Sequin Collar (£38).

Agnes Check Dress with Detachable Sequin Collar

The dress is so cute, and I liked that the detachable collar meant it had added value. The collar does up with popper fastenings and can be worn under any dress. 100% cotton, the dress is also machine washable which is always good news when it comes to kids' clothes.

I was really impressed with the website. It's well designed and very easy to use, and the product images are nice and clear. I liked that they included the model's age and height, as a visual aid to the sizing. Originally I was going to get an Age 5 but, because Marianna's so tall and quickly growing, I went for the 6 instead based on this.

To use up the voucher I also got the pretty Tilly Floral Hooded Blanket (£12) to put away for future gift giving purposes. The only niggle I had was that although free shipping is offered on orders of £50 or over, the way the cart is set up means once you've applied the voucher you then have to pay postage (£4.50) because your order is now deemed to be below the limit.

Angel and Rocket Dress

Anyway, our order arrived beautifully wrapped and we decided to give the dress its first outing last night, for the Remembrance service at Holy Trinity Church. The quality is excellent, and the little touches like the gold zip tag make it feel special. Marianna looked adorable in it - which was just as well. The moment the minute's silence started Marianna began telling me, in an ever louder and more frustrated tone, that her feet were too hot.

I think everyone knew by the time it was over...

Angel and Rocket Childrenswear

Check out the range for yourself at the Angel & Rocket website!

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Sunday, 4 November 2018

This Week - Nov 4th 2018

Say well is good - But do well is better.
Life This Week

It was half term this week so I had a few days off - which was probably harder work what with Marianna home all the time too! I was hoping to get a lot of writing done but it just didn't happen. Anthony fell down the stairs on Thursday and sprained his ankle, so any hope of getting some time to myself over the weekend went up in smoke.

We had a little party at my mum's on Wednesday evening for Halloween - you can see the pictures HERE - and Saturday was pretty busy, with a daffodil bulb planting session in Pontnewydd Park in the morning followed by our monthly councillor ward surgery. In the afternoon I took Marianna back up to Mt Pleasant Hall for Holy Trinity Church's Christmas Bazaar. I spent about £12 and came back laden down with goodies.

The vicar at Holy Trinity, Canon Harald Thomas, was my chaplain when I was Mayor (as well as delivering many fondly remembered assemblies back when I was in primary school) and is generally just the nicest guy. He played the part of Father Christmas for the children - Marianna hasn't stopped talking about her chat with Santa since. :)

Today has been really quiet, just chilling at my mum's and suffering Marianna's choice in viewing material. I did manage to get out for a bit in the afternoon though, to go and help David put up some lamp post poppies around Pontnewydd Village. Thankfully David was the one climbing the ladder. I'm missing Remembrance Day this year as I'm going to a friend's wedding, so it helped me feel a little less guilty about it!

Photo of the Week

On the Blog

Anthony reviewed a couple of items from Jacamo's AW18 range.

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Thursday, 1 November 2018

Halloween 2018

Halloween 2018

Marianna and me, all dressed up for Halloween...

Northville Community Group were hosting a party at the Working Mens club but we had to give it a miss - Marianna is still absolutely terrified of just about everything associated with the holiday. 'Mascots' (i.e. anything in a mask/costume) are her number one fear, which made for lots of tearful screaming fits as we made the rounds of local fetes, fairs, and festivals over the year!

Marianna with creepy doll face paint

So we had a little party at home instead, and got her involved with doing the face paint, etc, to see that it wasn't real. Anthony did her make up in the early afternoon, as a zombie princess, then after it had mostly rubbed off through play I redid it as a creepy doll before the 'party'.

Then I got to paint my mum green and give her warts and a monobrow. :D

Halloween Witches

Even Bracken got into the spirit!

Dog in witch hat

By the end of the evening Marianna was opening the door herself to trick and treaters, and announced that next year she wanted to go with all the other kids.

What did you do for Halloween this year? :)

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