Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas Craft

So one of my challenges was to hand make five christmas decorations. Shouldn't be too difficult right? I love christmas and I love sewing, all I had to do was work out how to combine the two. Imagination isn't my strong point though and I was struggling to come up with ideas.

Luckily I know the incredibly talented Kerry. She is the kind of crafter I would love to be and she's always making gorgeous stuff. Check out her blog to see some of her lovely makes. Anyway Kerry was nice enough to email me lots of links and ideas for christmas decorations I could make. And then this arrived through my letterbox!

It was a complete suprise but Kerry posted me this lovely package of christmas crafting goodies. So kind! Thank you so much. Kerry has a 101/1001 list too and I know one of her challenges is to do some random acts of kindness - big tick here!!! I love it all, especially the really cute snowball trim.

So with all this help from Kerry you'd think I'd have all my christmas decorations made.!!!!! I'm blaming the kitchen, it hasn't exactly been a nice relaxing place to sit and craft in. I'm going to make a start on the felt bauble stitch kit tonight though. I know most people do their christmas crafting before christmas but I've never been one to do things the normal way! And anyway the tree is still up so it's still christmas and theres still time to get them up. Well I'd better go and find a needle....

Thursday, 27 December 2012

I'm back!!! (with a brand new kitchen)

Hello again everyone. Sorry for the lack of blogging lately. For my buy something new for the house each month challenge I bought a new kitchen in November and a dishwasher to go in it in December. That's been going in over the last few weekswhich has meant I've not had the time or the space to get on the computer. It's been absolute chaos, stuff everywhere and nothing where it should be. I suppose I knew it was going to look worse before it got better but I wasn't really prepared for this!

Luckily that was about as bad as it got (although it felt pretty bad at the time!) and it's now looking lovely. It's not finished yet - still a window to go in and some tiling to do but it's usable at least and I can feel howit's going to be now. I love it!!!!

There has been progress with some of my other challenges too. I saw NaNoWriMo through to the end of November and whilst I didn't make it to 50,000 words I was proud of what I did manage to write. I enjoyed it and I'm going to give it another go next year. It's the wrong time of year for me really - would be much better in August with nice sunny days and no work!!

The lovely Kerry sent me a wonderful package of stuff to help me with my christmas crafting challenge so big thank you to her. I'll be telling you more about that in the next few days. Also thanks to everybody who has sent me a postcard to help wih the 101 postcards challenge. There have been a few over the last few weeks that I need to take photos of and get on here.

Hope everyone had a lovely christmas. I was totally spoilt with lots of lovely stuff including lots of things that will help me with my chalenges so look out for that over the next few weeks!

Monday, 26 November 2012

General Giddiness :-)

Well I'm very giddy tonight. After planning it for what seems like years I've finally bought my new kitchen! That's this months buy something new for the house sorted then.

I've not actually got any of my new kitchen here yet. I had the guys come out to measure up on Thursday, got a price on Friday so tonight I've been to order it. The lovely Garry (he's practically rebuilt my house for me!) is going to start work on it a week on Wednesday and I can't wait. I've wanted my range forever and now I'm going to have it in my lovely new kitchen.

As if the giddiness of the kitchen isn't enough I've also got christmas to get giddy about. Less than a month to go people!!! I've been reading Kerry's blog, all about her gorgeous makes for the christmas travelling box and her day out at Birmingham Christmas Markets. I had the christmas fair on Saturday and it's all left me feeling very festive. I'm driving Dan mad with my giddiness - don't think he was too impressed with my rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at silly o clock this morning!

With christmas just around the corner it's time to make a start on another challenge - hand make 5 christmas decorations. I need inspiration though, I've got some lovely little cross stitch designs but I'm not quite sure what to make them up into. Time for a trawl of the old tinternet - any recommendations of sites would be great.

Well I'm off to look at kitchen accessories and christmas decs. Goddy, giddy, giddy :-D

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A Weekend in York

So I've not blogged for a little while and it might look like I'm not doing anything with my challenges but I've got quite a few that are in progress at the moment. Just because I'm quiet, doesn't mean I'm doing nowt.

Me and Dan have been away this weekend for Dan's birthday. His birthday is actually in April but that's another story! We've been over to York and had a really lovely time. We just went to relax and have a good time but if I can make progress on a few challenges while I'm there, even better :-)

I've made good progress on the Betty's challenge. They have two cafes in York - the big one on St Helen's Square and a smaller one on Stonegate that used to be called Little Betty's but is now just Betty's Stonegate. It's really no great hardship to eat at any of them. I really love Betty's, what's not to love about gorgeous food and cream cakes? I suppose the challenge bit comes from getting to them all - the others are in Ilkley, Harrogate and Northallerton. My mam loves Betty's too though so I'm sure if I smile sweetly she might be persuaded to help (Hello mum, fancy afternoon tea sometime?)

We had dinner at Betty's Stonegate yesterday. I had mushroom pancakes and as they're on the autumn menu at the moment I had to have treacle tart for pudding. Well it'd be rude not to really!!! This afternoon we went to big Betty's where we were booked into the Belmont room upstairs for their famous afternoon tea.

 Mmmmmm, it was so good. The butties were lovely - chicken, ham, egg and salmon but really they just get in the way of the cake. They give you two scones and three cakes so that's obviously a perfectly reasonable amount to eat and not greedy at all.

It's not all been eating while we were there though. I've also added another two museums to my museum challenge. It was almost three but we decided The Chocolate Story was more of an attraction than a museum. I loved it though, they kept feeding me chocolate :-)

We spent Saturday afternoon at the Castle Museum. I remember going there as a kid. In my head we went loads of times but it was probably only about twice. I remember loving the Victorian street and being frightened to death of the prison and it was the same this weekend. Although I managed to get round the jail without crying this time.

This morning we went to the National Railway Museum. I didn't really want to go but Dan did and as it was officially his birthday weekend I thought I'd better do something he wanted to do. I actually enjoyed i more than I thought I would. I enjoyed the station hall looking at all the royal trains - they were like little houses on trains and there was a display about post offices and trains which I found really interesting. I love post office stuff and letters - just call me Mrs Goggins! The great hall wasn't as interesting for me - once you've seen one big engine you've seen them all. Some of them were huge though - the wheels were taller than me!

Anyway I've had a really lovely weekend, back to normal now though. Need to get back on with the Nanowrimo, not done any for a few days. And I'm planning my next way of raising money for my £1001 for charity challenge, more details soon!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Derby Day

When I was a little kid, I was a bit football obsessed. I blame my dad - he loved United and made sure I did too. We used to do crazy things like go to Glasgow on a Wednesday night for a friendly. If there was a team playing in a red shirt we'd be there. Sometimes we'd do three games in a day - A Team at The Cliff then on to Littleton Road for the B Team before heading to Old Trafford for the main event. We'd watch the Youth Team and Reserves as well and used to clock up crazy amounts of games in a season.

So looking back on how I used to be, I'm not that football obsessed anymore. Still love it though and can still be found travelling to crazy places on cold winters nights to cheer on my team. Since I've been watching FC though, I haven't clocked up quite so many games. I've only really watched the first team. They've also got a youth team and a womens team so I thought it was time to go back to the old days with a challenge of watching all levels of FC United home and away at least once in a season.

The first team wasn't a problem. That's just one of those things that will happen without any effort. Watching FC is just what I do on a Saturday. Really I have no excuse for not getting to home Youth and Womens games as they both play about ten minutes walk away from my house, although I suppose I do need to do the housework at some point, I can't spend all my time watching football.

So today was my first FC Women's game. It was also Dexter dogs first ever football game. How cute does he look in his scarf?
Dexter ready to cheer on the girls!!

It was all a bit much for Dexter. The combination of footballs (his second favourite thing after sausages), other dogs to play with and lots of people who might think he was cute sent his giddyometer off the scale. We had to go right down to the far end of the pich and stand on our own and he was still a giddy mess. He only calmed down a bit when he finally got hold of a football.

Anyway, the match....We were playing City. And I don't care what level it's at, derby day is derby day and I always want to see the bitters get beat. And today I got what I wanted. We were 2-0 up at halftime after goals from Olivia Greenhalgh and Amy Vyas. There might have been a handball in there but ssssh I didn't see anything.

After hot vimto at half time (love the stuff!!!) there were another three goals in the second half. Unfortunately only one of them was for FC but hey, it's still a win - always nice but even nicer against City. They scored first, then Claire O'Reilly scored our third with City getting a goal with more or less the final kick of the game. 3-2 to FC :-)

I can't really tell you much about the game. Not because nothing happened, I'm just useless at remembering it after the match. The referee was pretty funny, he insisted on counting out the ten yards every time he gave a free kick even though we were always in the right place and at one point he actually told us to move forward!!!!

It was a great turn out for a Greater Manchester Women's Football League match. There were 290 there (wonder if that's just people or if they counted the dogs too - there were a lot of dogs!), thats more four of the games in the Evo-Stik Premier League yesterday and all but one of the games in the First Division! Pretty impressive. Oh and talking of impressive, did I mention we're top of the league? Check out that goal difference!!

So I enjoyed my first Women's game. Need to do an away one now and also fit in the Youth team. I'd forgotten the leagues are shorter though so not quite sure when I'm gonna fit them in. I'll work it out though.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

NaNoWriMo - One week in

Well it seemed like a good idea at the time - writing a book will be fun right? I suppose it is fun but it's also a lot harder than I thought it would be.

I'm going to use this logo as much as I can as at the moment I'm not holding out much hope of getting  a winners logo. To be fair, my challenge said participate in Nano and didn't say anything about winning it but if I'm doing this thing I want to do it properly.

For those of you who don't know about NaNoWriMo, in order to win you have to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. That sounds like a crazy number but when you break it down to a daily amount it doesn't sound too bad. 1667 words a day should be perfectally achieveable. SHOULD being the word here, I've not come anywhere that. I should have written 11666 words by now but so far I've got the grand total of 4681 - nearly 7000 words behind :-(

There are some positives though - I've got another challenge ticked off as I have now officially participated, I've managed to at least write something every day and the last few days I've felt like I finally know where I'm going with my story. Just need to work out how on earth I'm going to catch up.

I'm feeling a bit of a mammoth session coming up this weekend. I only really have an hour to write during the week by the time I get home from work and get everything done so the weekend is the ideal time to catch up. I reckon I also need to treat this as more of a draft and not spend so much time worrying about how it sounds and messing about with it. At this stage its more about getting the words  down on the page!!! I can always edit in December.

I'm also thinking a little notebook in my handbag would be good. Too many hours are wasted sat doing nothing on the bus. There's nothing to say my 50,000 words all have to be on the laptop so I'm thinking I might go all retro and hand write a few chapters on the bus. More hours writing = more words, simple really!!!

And the last thing I need to do is just write. Stop procrastinating and get on with it. Which really means I should get off here and back to my novel. I'm determined to catch up and get it finished. Wish me luck!!!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Jezza!!!! :-)

I love the Jeremy Kyle show. Yeah, I know it's rubbish but it is the ultimate in sick day tv. Get yourself all snuggled up on the settee, watch people putting all the private stuff out there for the world to see and suddenly you life doesn't seem so bad.

So when I added be in the audience for a tv show as a challenge, I was always kind of hoping it would be Jezza. I thought it would be difficult to get tickets for any show though so I'd decided I would just settle for whatever I could get. I could only really go at weekends or in school holidays so I suppose it would all depend on what they were filming when. Then late on Tuesday night my penpal Ella posted on twitter that the Jeremy Kyle show were looking for audience members for today. I sent a quick email, they phoned me back Wednesday and told me to come down this morning.

Because it was such short notice I didn't have anybody to go with. It worked well for me as it was half term but my mates couldn't get time off work that quick. I was gutted at first and felt like a bit of a billy but going on my own turned out to be a good thing. They give away more tickets than they have seats for some reason. They said it's because there are always some people who don't turn up and they like to have a full audience. Yellow tickets are high priority and more or less guaranteed a ticket and pink tickets are first come, first served. My ticket was pink....

Doors to the studios open at 10am. I got there about 9.20 and there was already quite a long queue. It was freezing and we seemed to be queueing forever. Eventually I got to the bottom of the stairs going into the studios and I heard a lot of moaning. The studios were full and they were turning people away. I was just about to set off back to the bus stop when a crew member came running down to where I was standing and asked me if I was on my own. When I said I was he said I could go in because there was one seat left. I did feel a bit sorry for the others (there were about 15 people in front of me) but I was well chuffed that I was getting to go in so I ran up the stairs and avoided all eye contact.

I always thought that working in television would be a pretty cool job but I've realised that really it is just a lot of hanging about. They only filmed two shows but we were there from 10am until 2.15pm. It was the usual mix of lie detectors and DNA tests.
  • I don't know who my baby's dad is, but I hope it's not you!
  • I moved 200 miles because I think my husband cheated.
  • Is my wife playing away while I'm working away?
  • Double DNA - Have I got a new daughter?
  • My daughter stole from me while I was having my leg amputated
  • My ex won't let me see my daughter.
There were some classic Jeremy Kyle moments in there. I think my favourite line was "I checked it on facebook and someone else is called it, so it's a real name". Oh dear!!!

I' not sure when the shows they filmed today are going to be shown. You'll just have to keep an eye out for me. Looks like I'll be on the telly though as I was sat next to one of the guest's dad in the audience and he had quite a lot to say.

In between each section Jeremy was much funnier than I thought he'd be. And to say he goes mad at his guests for swearing, he never stopped! Didn't get to meet him properly though and we weren't allowed to take photographs :-( In the break between the two shows they gave us Freddo's and on my way back from the toilet I met Graham. He was lovely, even if I was a little starstruck.

Anyway thanks Ella, for posting the info. I've had a really great day and completed another challenge. And now I'd better stop wittering and get back to writing my novel. Only one day into NaNoWriMo and I'm behind already :-(

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Do Not Disturb - I'm Writing a Book!

Pinch, punch, first of the month. But not just any old month, it's the 1st of November which is also known as NaNoWriMo day one.

It seemed like a good idea at the time when I first signed up all those weeks ago but now I'm beginning to wonder what on earth I've let myself in for. 50,000 words in 30 days sounds like an awful lot. I tried to break it down to a daily word target which gets me to 1667 words a day. Still a lot but an easier number to get my head around. All I need now is a story. I've got a vague (very vague!!!) idea of what I'm going to write about but no idea how I'm gonna pad it out into a full blown novel.

Usually I love writing but today I'm really struggling to get started. The dog needs walking, the kitchen needs cleaning, I need to organise my wardrobes - everything is seeming more appealing now. I've become the queen of procrastination. I need to get going though as 1667 words a day aren't going to write themselves! I'm sure I'll be fine once I've done the first couple of paragraphs, starting is always the hardest part.

You can follow my progress through the month on the right. Green days are good, red days are bad. The darker the colour, the better/worse the day has been. Anyway enough wittering from me - I've got a book to write!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A Letter from Princess

I love nice post. Boring post like bills and stuff you can keep but a nice hand written letter through the post is always nice. With all my penpals I get nice post more often than nasty post and there's usually at least one letter waiting for me when I get home from work.

I only had the one letter today, but it was very definitely a nice one and really put a smile on my face. I noticed the World Vision logo first and then the Sierra Leone stamps so I knew it had to be my first letter from Princess, the little girl I've been sponsoring for a few months.

I'd sent a letter off to Princess as soon as I started sponsoring her and was really looking forward to hearing from her and finding out more about her. Princess is in school but is still learning to read and write so was helped with her letter by a volunteer at the World Vision centre. He told me how proud her family are that she is in school. I also learnt a bit more about Princess' community. The local language is Mende and most people are farmers with a few fishermen.

Although the letter was written by a volunteer, Princess had added some pictures at the bottom. While it was only a short letter, it was one that really made me smile and that I'm going to keep somewhere safe. I already knew that World Vision were doing great work but this letter made it all seem more real somehow. It's a real little girl that they're making a difference for. And not just her - her family and community too. I'm looking forward to receiving lots more letters.

If you'd like lovely post like this, why not sponsor a child? It was a lot cheaper than I expected and really does make a difference.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Running the Minithon

So today was the day, five weeks after my knee op and with not much training I had a sponsored run to do. I wasn't sure how it was going to go as although I have made a start on the C25K running plan, I've not done as much as I would have liked and am still very definitely at the couch end of the plan.

It looked like a nice day for a run though and I was feeling ok about things as I got on the tram to make my way over to Chorlton. Got there pretty early and had this horrible feeling I was going to be running round Chorlton on my own but more people soon started to arrive. The minithon is a joint thing between Ace, FC United, Stockport County and Rochdale Hornets so it was nice to see a few faces from Hornets who I've not seen for ages. Looking forward to getting back to the rugby soon for another of my challenges.

Anyway back to the running - they were setting off in three waves, what I call proper runners, joggers and strollers. I wasn't really sure where to put myself as I wanted to give it a good go at running but knew I would probably end up strolling at some stage. In the end I went for wave 2 and I think that was probably the right place for me to be.

Ready to run!

I set off running but got tired pretty quickly. Luckily I had my secret weapon with me - Dan!!! He was great at keeping me motivated and making me run more than I probably would have done if I was on my own. He told me to pick an object and make myself run at least up until that point. Doing that, I kind of ran a bit, walked a bit all the way round. It was really hot which didn't help but I think I did ok. Running down one side of the river and seeing my dad still making his way up the other side was an especially nice feeling :-)

Once we got off the river and into the shade of some trees it was much cooler and I was able to enjoy my running more. That's why my last k was my fastest and not as Dan says because I wasn't trying hard enough before.

Here's the stats. Won't be winning any medals any time soon but I got round so I'm still pretty proud of myself.

 Thank you to everybody who has sponsored me so far. Up to now I've raised £70 for Ace Centre, a good start to my raising money for charity challenge. If you didn't want to part with your cash until you knew I'd done it (and I can't say I blame you!) theres still time - just click here!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

A good challengey day

Well when I got up this morning I wasn't really thinking about my challenges. Plan was to wrap up warm and then off to Fylde to watch FC. And that's what I did. The result didn't go the way I wanted (we lost 4-2) but it was a good day and I managed to make progress with a few of my challenges.

I've found three Daves today!!!!! I've really struggled with my Dave challenge and up until today had only managed to hae my photo taken with one. I really didn't think it would be so difficult as everyone knows somebody called Dave - or so they say. Apparently they don't :-( Or at least not a Dave that's in the same place as me, at the same time, with somebody about to take a picture. I've seen one of today's Dave's a few times since I sarted my challenges but at times when I couldn't get a photo, I always kind of knew I was going to get that one though. The other two Dave's I only met for the first time today but as Dave's have been much more difficult to find I wasn't letting the opportunity pass. I think they think I'm crazy but at least they agreed.

The other challenge I've made progress with today is raising £1001 for charity. I've signed up for the FC United Minithon which is a 5k run to raise money for The Ace Centre North, a charity that helps people with communication difficulties. Sponsorship has started coming in through my just giving page and I'm up to £45 now. Still £956 to go but I've made a good start.

I've got plenty of other plans to raise money. I'm not sure what's happening with my Macmillan coffee morning as I'm struggling to find a room to hire for it. My house is too small and with Dexter dog as well its just not going to work so I need to think of something else. In the meantime I'm selling tickets for their autumn raffle - £1 a ticket for the chance to win £10,000. Give me a shout if you want one!!

Other plans to raise money include sponsored swims, more running, making stuff, selling stuff and whatever else I can think of. If you've got any ideas I'd love to hear them

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Making Everyone's Wedding Day Special

In the last few months I've blogged about Princess, the little girl I sponsor through World Vision. I've also talked about how great this organisation is and how I'm hoping to get more involved with them. I follow them on twitter and facebook as well as being a regular visitor to their website.

Looking at their website today got me thinking about my wedding day. It was perfect. I loved everything about it. I was so giddy for months running up to the big day, planning every las little detail and getting carried away about all kinds of random things - who knew ribbon was that exciting?!? All my friends and family got excited with me and it really was the very best day of my life.

Me and Dan on our wedding day

Unfortunately for many girls around the world, the news of a wedding isn't as exciting. Every year, an estimated 10 million girls aged under 18 are married worldwide with little or no say in the matter. That’s more than 25,000 girls every day, or 19 every minute. In the developing world, one in seven girls is married before her 15th birthday and some child brides are as young as eight or nine.

Every day at work I'm surrounded by kids aged seven to eleven. They're amazing kids - bright, bubbly and so much they can do. But there's also so much they can't do. They're just children, not ready to be anyones wife. They need the opportunity to grow and learn. Luckily for the children I know, this opportunity is their right. It should be the right of children everywhere.

World Vision are working with Girls not Brides to end child marriage. Girl's who don't marry are more likely to be healthy, stay in school, live in safety, raise healthy children and fulfil their potential. With the first ever International Day of the Girl coming up on 11th October they're aiming to  amplify the voices of girls like Chaitali and Kassa.

“When my father told me I was going to be married off, I felt my life had been ruined. I visualized a life like that of my mother - marriage, lots of children. All dreams shattered.” Chaitali, 10 – Bangladesh
“It was not voluntary and I became very angry when I heard about. It was a sudden agony to me. I felt I would have no chance for education. My hope for development darkened.’’ Kassa, 14 – Ethiopia
They are also aiming to strengthen efforts to end child marriage at a local, national and global level. Training provided by World Vision meant that children like Amira had an alternative to marriage and were able to continue in education. I'm proud to sponsor a girl through World Vision.


Join us in taking a stand against child marriage by blogging, tweeting or sharing a link on facebook using the stories provided. As we fight for global action to tackle this issue your voice strengthens these efforts, amplifying our call to your readers, your friends and your community.
If you’re a blogger:
  • Write about child marriage on your blog in honour of #dayofthegirl, asking your readers to add their voice or sponsor a girl to help put an end to child marriage.
  • Add the link code above right to be featured on our website and amplify the call.
  • Tweet us at @WorldVisionPR or @KaylaERobertson to let us know.
On twitter and facebook:
  • Follow @WorldVisionUK and @WorldVisionPR and World Vision’s facebook page for news and stories on #childmarriage. Share, RT and add your voice
Sponsor a girl:
  • Sponsoring a girl provides girls and their communities with education and support to empower them to take a stand against child marriage

Sunday, 7 October 2012

I'm an Ace Runner!!

I'm not being big-headed. I really don't think that after just a week of training I've become the next Mo Farrah or anything. In fact, although I'm enjoying it I still feel like I'm going to die when I get in from a run.

When I say I'm an ace money, what I actually mean is I'm running for Ace. I've just signed up to run in the FC United Minithon to raise money for The Ace Centre North. This is a charity that helps people with communication difficulties.

The ability to communicate is fundamental to a basic quality of life, yet for many people effective communication is difficult because of a physical impairment, language disorder or learning disability. We work with people of all ages who face just such challenges. Ace Centre North provides help and expertise in the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and Assistive Technology (AT).
The minithon takes place on 21st October. By that time I'll be about four weeks into my C25K running plan. It's a nine week plan so I might still find running the whole thing tricky. Even after four weeks though, I'm guessing I'll still be fitter than the average FC fan!! They do say run, walk or crawl round the course. I'm aiming to run as much of it as I can and possibly crawl the rest. It'll only be five weeks from when I had my knee operation so just getting round will be an achievement - I'm not too worried about my time.
I think doing the minithon will really help me with my C25K challenge as it's given me something to aim for that makes the training seem a bit more worthwhile. It's also stage one in my challenge to raise £1001 for charity. I've set myself a target of £100 raised in this event. You can sponsor me at my Just Giving page or in the old fashioned way by handing over some cash!!! :-)

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Joining Anthony Nolan

I was a bit disappointed when the postman arrived this morning. I love to write letters and have loads of penpals from all over the world. Usually there are at least a few pretty looking letters pushed through my door and I always enjoy reading what's going on in my friends bit of the world. Today though there was just the one plain white envelope, it all looked a bit official and I wasn't impressed.

At least I wasn't impressed until I opened it. I had expected it to be a bill or something boring like that but it wasn't. It was a letter from The Anthony Nolan Trust saying that I was now on the register to donate blood stem cells or bone marrow.

Another challenge ticked off! But more importantly than that I'm doing something that could really make a difference to someone with blood cancer. For many people suffering from a blood cancer, such as leukaemia, a blood stem cell transplant may be their last chance of life. The Anthony Nolan Trust match patients in desperate need of a transplant with donors from their register. Unfortunately at the moment they are only able to find matching donors for around half the people who need them. They really need more donors and it's really easy to do. I had to fill in an online questionnaire, then send off a spit kit to be tested and that was about it.

Of course now I'm on the register I am a bit worried about geting that call saying they want me to donate. While they do everything the can to make it as comforable as possible, I can't imagine it's going to be pleasant. It's got to be more pleasant than losing a loved one to blood cancer though and if a couple of days discomfort for me could prevent that for someone else then it's got to be worth it. In fact I'd be proud to do it.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Tea with Jamie

I love cooking, and I love a good cooking book. I've got loads by Jamie Oliver. He's definitely one of my favourites, I collect his books and watch all his programmes. So when I heard he'd opened an italian restaurant in town I really wanted to go. I've been making ever so subtle hints ever since it opened. I've got a great husband so he listened to my nagging and took me yesterday for my birthday.

Jamie's Italian Manchester is on King Street in town. It's in an old bank building and it's beautiful inside. Even before we'd eaten anything, I was impressed.

Not the best picture, it was a bit dark. But you get the idea of what it's like.

It was really hard to decide what to eat. I wanted to try everything!! In the end me and Dan decided to share starters of a bread basket and baked mushrooms. Dan reckons he doesn't like mushrooms so I thought I was onto a winner there. They were lovely though, baked with cheese and thyme. So nice that Dan forgot he hated mushrooms and I had to fight him off.

My main course was sausage pappardelle and that was gorgeous too. The pasta was lovely and soft, a definite improvement on tesco value spagetti :-)

I was stuffed really after my pasta but I've always had a sweet tooth and I have to have a pudding when I go out. I took ages to decide but in the end I went for jelly and ice cream. It sounds like I've picked something off the kids menu but it wasn't like that at all. It was a proper grown up dessert - raspberry and some kind of fizzy wine (I'm rubbish with wine!) jelly with really creamy vanilla ice cream.

After wanting to go for so long I was a bit worried that it wouldn't live up to expectations but I loved it. I had such a great night. The place was gorgeous, the food was yummy and the atmosphere was great! I've done two of my ten new restaurants now and loved them both. Wonder where I'll try next....

Friday, 28 September 2012

Gone Running

If you know us both, you're probably thinking you've clicked onto Dan's blog by mistake. But no, it's me and I really have been running!

I had my stitches out of my knee this morning. I'd got myself into a bit of a tizz about it as I'm completely soft when it comes to anything to do with doctors or hospitals. I'd convinced myself that it would hurt and there'd be blood (I don't do blood!) but it was fine. Stung a little bit but there was nothing to it really.

I asked the nurse about doing some exercise now they've come out as I've basically done nothing for three months and am starting to feel like a blob. She made me do a few knee bends, walk up and down a bit and then she said I can do whatever I want as long as I listen to my body and don't push it too much.

I've got loads of fitness challenges on my list but I knew straight away which one I wanted to start with - running! A few months back the idea of running didn't appeal at all but I've been motivated by Dan. He started running at the end of May and he loves it. He'd never run before but this month he's managed to do three 10k runs to raise money for Leukaemia Research. He's raised over £350 so far and I'm very proud of him - theres still time to donate here.

As well as the fundraising Dan has really enjoyed the running and it's been great for him. He's lost loads of weight and still manages to eat loads. I've got to admit my running bug is more to do with greed than thinking it's gonna be fun. The amount of calories you can burn running is crazy! I love my food so anything that means I can eat more is a bonus.

I'm not stupid so I know theres no way I could just go out and do a 10k run, I'd struggle with a 1k one to be honest but thats where C25K comes in. NHS Choices 'Couch to 5K' is a running plan developed to help absolute beginners get into running. It's a 9 week training plan and by the end of the nine weeks I should be able to run 5k or 30 minutes without stopping. The aim for me is to join Dan on the christmas parkrun.

I downloaded week one podcast from the NHS website this afternoon and went out with Dan this evening. It looked easy on paper 5 minute brisk walk followed by 60 seconds running, 90 seconds walking for 20 minutes then finishing with a 5 minute cool down walk. Doesn't sound like much at all but 60 second is a lot longer than you think when you're not used to running. I made it through the whole half hour though, even if I was a panting sweaty mess by the end of it! I'm proud of myself for making the first step and it's only gonna get easier the more I do it. Rest day tomorrow then I'm back to it Sunday.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Movie Marathon

Well maybe it wasn't a marathon. And I don't like the word movie, it's all american and I don't know what's wrong with a good old fashioned film but I have crossed another challenge of the list by seeing two films at the cinema in one day.

It's been another horrible rainy day in Manchester so an ideal day to spend 6 hours sat inside in the dark. We started with dinner at Nandos - not part of any challenge but always nice! I decided to make that part of a challenge too by leaving another operation beautiful note there.
After doing Nando's in style with a whole three courses and my favourite waitress anywhere ever it was a mad dash to the cinema. Luckily its only over the car park but we still got soaked and I managed to sink in a puddle. We've got unlimited passes for the cinema so the plan was to just turn up and see what was on that we fancied seeing.

Film number one was Killing Them Softly. I knew nothing about it other than it had Brad Pitt in it. That's usually enough to keep my interest but it was a really good film too. It's all about a professional enforcer, Jackie Cogan (Pitt), who investigates a heist that occurs during a high stakes, mob-protected, poker game. I love a good gangster movie so it was right up my street and bits of it were pretty funny too. Apparently it's based on a book called Cogan's Trade by George V Higgins so I might have to check that out.

Film number two was Anna Karenina. I knew nothing about it really but I wanted to see it because I'd done a survey about it a few months back and I liked the snow and the dresses! Knew it was a famous book but had no idea what it was about. I enjoyed it though, was a good story although some of how they'd presented i confused me a bit. I couldn't understand why they kept ending up on a stage, maybe I'm missing something (probably am!) but to me it just seemed weird. Didn't ruin the film for me though. Poor Dan hated it! I didn't think it would be his thing really and he was bored from about 5 minutes in. He made himself very comfy sprawled out in the cinema and at one point I thought he might go to sleep but to be fair he didn't moan once.

Monday, 24 September 2012

And if you know your history.....

I visited the first of my five museums today. I couldn't have picked a worse day to go really, it's really turned to winter now. It was chucking it down, freezing and windy. Any sensible person would have wrapped up warm and stayed at home but not me and Dan!

We didn't venture out too far though. A ten minute bus ride into town to visit the National Football Museum. We still managed to get soaked and my poor little feet are still recovering from the cold but once we were inside and away from the rain I enjoyed it.

The museum opened a few months ago when I couldn't walk and I've been wanting to go ever since. Most people who know me know I love my football, and those that don't obviously don't listen to a word I say! Those of you have met my dad will know I was always going to be a football fan and I was always going to be red. My dad brought me up right, took me to Old Trafford, taught me my red history, took me all over the country watching not just the first team but also the reserves, youth team, A and B teams. Basically if there was a team somewhere playing in a United shirt me and my dad would be there and since 2005 we've continued that tradition following FC United.
FC United stuff in the museum

I've got loads of happy memories of the football with my dad and thats what I liked best about the museum. It brough back loads of stuff from when I was a kid - from daft things like little models of players I used to have and panini albums (I completed my Italia 90 one!), to games I was at, games I wasn't allowed to go to (Rotterdam, still not over it!)  and stories my dad used to tell me.

Dad always made sure I knew my red history and the display about Munich brought a big lump to the throat. But most of his stories were about his hero Denis Law. I can't remember a time when I didn't know about him, my dad always said he was the greatest. My middle name is even Denise after him. So this photo is especially for my dad to say thank you for all the good times together at the football and for not making me born a blue!
It wasn't all United in the museum. It really was a museum of football with something for every fan, just the United stuff meant the most to me. It's a great place and even better it's free. Definitely worth a visit!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A Trip to London

This is a blog post all about me being me - taking something really simple and making it into something really complicated. Buy something new for the house for every month of the challenge, easy enough to do but as we've been doing lots of work on the house I thought it would be a good one to help me get it exactly how I want it.

I started off simply enough. Last month I decided I needed a new dvd player so I nipped across the road to Tesco, picked one up and came home - easy! That was far too simple though, thought I'd go for a bit more of a challenge this month.

We are looking at getting a new kitchen in the next few weeks. I've been going on about how I want the kitchen more or less since I moved into this house and I know EXACTLY what I want. And top of he list is a range cooker. Not just any range cooker though, it had to be cream, had to have two ovens, had to have a seperate grill, a wok burner and a warming plate. Basically it had to be a Leisure Cookmaster! I fell in love with this cooker years ago and have designed my whole kitchen around it.

Range cookers don't come cheap though, so I decided to check out ebay. I was really excited when I saw they had the exact one I wanted complete with matching hood, less excited when I saw it was in London. Luckily the lovely Garry (who has practically rebuilt my house) offered to take me down in his van and told me to get bidding.

I'm not cut out for the whole ebay thing. I was a nervous wreck he whole time bidding was open. And when I was outbid with half an hour to go I was all for getting into a bidding war there and then. Dan seems to be the auction king though, he kept me calm and didn't let me bid again until there were just three minutes to go. It felt like a very long three minutes but we won :-)

So yesterday me, Dan and Garry were on the road for 7am, a time I didn't know existed on a Saturday to pick up what I think is a thing of beauty and Dan thinks is 'that bloody cooker'. Actually getting to London wasn't too bad, but once we got off the motorway it was a nightmare. Romford Road must hold the record for the highest number of traffic lights anywhere - and they were all on red. I was glad we had sat nav, don't think we'd ever have found it otherwise. But we got there in the end and it fitted through the door (we were worried it wouldn't) and into the back of the van.

I love London, all the sights and a bit of shopping on Oxford St. Didn't get any of that yesterday though. It was a very different kind of day trip to London. Real London I suppose - the nearest thing to a 'sight' was West Ham Utd's ground which backed onto the street we were looking for and Leytonstone High Street were the only shops I got near.

So a 12 hour round trip to pick up a cooker, was it worth it? I think so! Even adding in the cost of petrol I've saved over £500 and I got the exact cooker I wanted. Maybe next month I'll go for a photo frame from Next or something though.

Anyway here it is, my fab new cooker. I love it :-) Can't wait to see it in the new kitchen.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Mustard Tree and World Vision

One of my challenges is to do some voluntary work. I thought it would be easy enough to do but when I started thinking about it a bit more I had a bit of a problem. There are so many good causes out there, how would I decide which one I wanted to help?

I decided it would probably be best if I chose somewhere close to home, that way I can spend more time volunteering and actually doing some good and less time travelling. I pass a place called Mustard Tree most days.I've heard good things about them so I decided to find out a bit more about what they did. I had a look on their website and was pretty impressed. They seemed to do lots of good stuff and help a wide mix of people. It also looked like there would be quite a lot I could get involved with. I've sent them an email and hopefully I'll hear something back soon.

I also really wanted to get more involved with World Vision.  I have recently sponsored Princess, a seven year old girl from Sierra Leone, through their website. Since deciding to sponsor Princess, I have been following their blog and facebook page. The more stuff I read, the more impressed I've been with the work they are doing and the more glad I am that I decided to sponsor a child. Every time I go onto their website I see another little face looking out at me and I wish I could sponsor them all. Unfortunately I can't afford that but I decided to find out how else I could help. They have sent me details of their ambassador scheme. It sounds really interesting but it's quite a big commitment. I still think I'd like to give it a go though, just need to work out if any of there training sessions are when I'd actually be able to get to them.
In the meantime I'm getting myself involved in spreading the word of the work they do and helping out with their campaigns. Campaigns like the Child Health Now campaign which wants to give all children the chance to grow up, live out their dreams and fulfil their potential.

I'm currently collecting signatures for World Vision's petition asking the government to scale up work to tackle under-nutrition, to give more children a better chance to live life and a chance to grow and learn. If you're local to me, make sure you see me and sign it. If you're further away, you can still sign - just get in touch with your address and email and I can add you to the sheet, it doesn't need an actual signature. Hope you'll all help me in supporting this.

Friday, 14 September 2012


So, I've had my knee op today. All went well and I'm back home now. I'm dying to get going on some of my fitness challenges but apparently it doesn't work like that! I've got to take it really easy for the next few days, just got a few exercises for circulation and then from Monday add a few more in for movement.

I'm seeing the physiotherapist next Friday and hopefully I'll be move on to some more exercises then. I want to get moving as soon as possible, really want to do the C25K and get working to get me down to that healthy BMI. I'm going to be good though and do what the doc and physio tell me which basically means sitting still until I've had the stitches out in two weeks time.

While I can't get going on any of the fitness challenges just yet, I suppose the whole sitting still thing gives me plenty of time to work on some of my other challenges. I've really caught the stitch bug again lately so that will keep me busy. The family tree cross stitch is coming along nicely and it's got me really motivated to do more research and see just how far back I can go. Hoping to get pre-1800 for one of my challenges.

Family Tree Cross Stitch so far
 I can't sew tonight as I've still got dressings on the back on my hand from where my drips went in. Can still make progress on my challenges though. I think maybe it will just be reading, I'm on my 8th book towards my target of reading my height in books at the moment and plenty of time to get stuck into it. I'm also thinking I'll play a bit of the free rice game tonight. So far I've donated 41,630 grains of rice to the World Food Programme through this website, only another 958,370 to go!
I've also go the ultimate comfort food to look forward to tonight as Dan's bought me more ice-cream. Haagen-Dazs of course, well I wouldn't want to miss the chance to move on with a challenge :-) It's Strawberry Cheesecake flavour tonight, yum!
I'm glad I've got these challenges to do as otherwise I think I'd go completely loopy over the next few days. Still can't wait to get started on the fitness ones but I suppose I'll just have to be patient - never been my strong point unfortunately.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

One month in - an update

So it's been a month since I started my mission 101 project and according to the website I'm 3% complete. I've achieved 4 goals, got 20 in progress and 77 still to do.
Write a letter to myself to be opened at the end of the 1001 days - This was the first challenge I completed. I thought it would be good to do right at the start and then I can look back at it at the end. It's a very strange feeling writing to yourself. Wonder what I'll make of it when I read it on 9th May 2015. I've got it put away in a safe place so hopefully I'll still be able to find it when the day arrives.
Register as an organ donor - This was so easy to do, I can't believe I've not done it before. It just took a few minutes to answer a few questions on their website and now I'm all registered.
Sponsor a World Vision child - I've sponsored a seven year old girl from Sierra Leone called Princess. I'm really looking forward to getting to know more about her. Dan's picked up some stickers and colouring stuff today to send a little package off to her.
Inspire someone to make a 101 in 1001 list - My penpal Kerry has made a list.

I won't bore you with the details of all the things I've got in progress. Hopefully I'll get some of them done over the next few weeks so I'll tell you about them they're complete. 


Friday, 7 September 2012

A Perfect Friday Night

It doesn't seem that long ago when my idea of a perfect Friday night would be getting all dolled up, doing a pub crawl, going clubbing and finishing with a kebab. Actually that still sounds pretty good but I've had a lovely night tonight without leaving the house or even having to get dressed! And I've made good progress on a couple of my challenges too :-)

I've basically spent the night slobbing in my PJs. I'm really into my cross stitch lately so I've been doing that most of the night. I'm stitching my family tree for one of my challenges and it's finally starting to feel like I'm getting there with it - even if I did have to spend an hour unpicking tonight!! I think I've got enough information to fill in on this design but if not another challenge of mine is to research my family tree to before 1800 so I'm sure I'll get there.

I might not have finished the night with a kebab but it is Friday so you've got to have a bit of a treat! And everyone knows that the number one comfort food is ice cream. I love the stuff! So eating every flavour of haagen dazs ice cream isn't going to be any great hardship really. The only challenge is going to be finding them all. I found a list of flavours and I made a start tonight with their mint leaves and chocolate flavour - YUM! :-)

So it's not been a party night but I've enjoyed myself, looking forward to more of the same. Well I have got another 25 flavours to try!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Meet Princess

Sponsoring a child is one of those things I've always thought about doing but never quite got round to. I suppose in the past I couldn't really afford it but while I'm not exactly rolling in it now, I am comfortable so I decided it was time I stopped thinking about it and started doing it.

So I received my sponsorship pack in the post this morning. I've chosen to sponsor a little girl called Princess through World Vision. She's seven years old and lives in Tegloma, Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone is the second poorest country in the world and Tegloma is the poorest area of the country. Two out of three families have unsafe drinking water, 95% of the population have no sanitary latrines, one in three children die before their fifth birthday. The entire area has just one hospital, two nursery schools and one secondary school for a population of 140,000.

World Vision have a 15 year long programme in the area focusing on providing safe drinking water, improving nutrition and sanitation and increasing access to health services. I'm hoping that the money I send every month will help not just Princess but many people in her community.

I chose to sponsor through World Vision for a couple of reasons. Mainly because it's a well known child sponsorship charity. It's been around for a long time and you can find lots of information about their work really making a difference. The other thing I liked was that they really gave me the opportunity to get to know the child I chose to sponsor. They sent me lots of information in my welcome pack this morning and I'll receive regular updates from World Vision about the work they are doing in Tegloma. I'm also able to write to Princess. Anybody who knows me well will know that I enjoy writing letters so I am looking forward to hearing from her and getting to know more about her life. I've been sent a little card to fill in to introduce myself so I'm going to get that sent off tomorrow and then I'll write a proper letter in a few days. I'm really excited about becoming a child sponsor and can't wait tto find out more.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Coffee, cakes and challenges

I received a huge parcel in the post this morning. It was all the extra stuff I had ordered for my Macmillan Coffee Morning. The worlds biggest coffee morning  has taken place to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support every year since 1991 and so far has raised over £60 million. I decided to get involved this year as part of my challenge to raise £1001 for charity.

The official date for this year's event is Friday 28th September. I never do anything the proper way though!! I'm either going to be at work that day or more likely still hobbling about after my knee op. Either way that date isn't going to work. I'm thinking I'll hold my coffee morning towards the end of the October half-term holiday. It'll give me a full week to get all my baking done, I've found some lovely recipes I can't wait to get started on. The exact date and time is still to be decided. I'm hoping to hire a room somewhere as I want to have quite a big event and raise as much money as possible. My house is too small and even if I could squeeze everyone in, I'm thinking Dexter dog and a coffee morning won't mix.

I'm really looking forward to my coffee morning as it combines two of my favourite things - coffee and cakes! Another challenge that will let me enjoy both is to go to every Betty's at least once during the challenge. I've just booked a weekend in York for later in the year so thats two of them I'll be able to cross off the list. We'll be eating at both big Betty's and Little Betty's while we're there - well it'd be rude not to! I'm hoping they'll be on their winter menu when we go so I can have their treacle tart for pudding - yum :-)

It's done nothing but rain here the last few days so I've been getting through loads of coffee, no cake this time though. It's been coffee, cross stitch and films. My cross stitch is coming along slowly but it's starting to look good and I've watched some good films as part of my A-Z challenge. Watched a few that don't count too but I've enjoyed them and thats the main thing.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Bank Holiday Weekend and Getting Things Done

So, it's bank holiday weekend, not really sure how that affects me as I'm off work anyway but it's been a nice chilling weekend with plenty of time to get things done.

I've been a real reading mood this weekend. I managed to finish Angela's Ashes yesterday and then read the entire screenplay of Looking for Eric in one sitting. I loved it! Can't believe I've still not seen the film, definitely one to add to the A-Z film challenge list. I started Still Thinking of You by Adele Parkes yesterday too and I'm about 200 pages into that one.

I've also spent a bit of time with my family tree cross stitch this weekend. I'm not the fastest stitcher in the world but I do enjoy it. This is the biggest project I've ever attempted though and when I look at the size of that fabric it does seem a little bit daunting. I've really enjoyed studying my family tree though and this will be a lovely way to display what I've found so I'm determined to finish it. Still LOADS to do though!

I'm feeling loads better about the A-Z film challenge. The first couple of films I watched were disappointing which put me off a bit. I saw Wallace and Grommit - Curse of the Were-rabbits this afternoon though and loved it. I've never seen any Wallace and Grommit before but now I want to watch them all. After reading Looking for Eric, that's gone on the list. I'm recording a film called Precious tonight and I've also borrowed The Help on dvd. I loved the book so I'm really looking forward to watching the film.
I've been doing more creative writing and planning ready for NaNoWriMo in November. I've also been trying to get organised and plan when I'm going to do some of my challenges that need a bit more organisation. Organisation or patience aren't exactly my strong points though - I just want to do everything NOW!!!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Beating Blood Cancer

Technically the first part of this post isn't related to a challenge I'm doing but it does link in with the second part of the post which is something on the list. It is a challenge, just not for me - but it's my blog and I'm allowed a proud wifey moment every now and again (don't get used to it Dan!!)

This time next week I'll be all on my lonesome. Dan will be getting his head down in a hotel in Sheffield somewhere. An early night ready for the first of his 10k runs. He's challenged himself to run three 10k runs in September - starting with the Great Yorkshire Run on 2nd, then the Salford City 10k on the 9th and finally the Rochdale Kingsway 10k on the 23rd.

Up until a few months ago Dan had never run and I'd have laughed at the idea of him doing one 10k run never mind three in a month but he's got really into it and now I know he can do it. He seems to really enjoy it and I think it helps that he's so determined to raise money for this cause.

He's running for leukaemia and lymphoma research, a charity which is very close to his heart since he sadly lost his younger brother Robin to leukaemia as a child. You can have a look at Dan's blog to see his reasons for running. His initial target was to raise £250 which pays for a weeks worth of essential laboratory supplies used to conduct vital research to improve treatments. He's already smashed this target!!! Now he's just aiming to raise as much as he can.

  • £300 pays for a blood cancer patient’s DNA to be screened providing a more accurate diagnosis and helping to guide treatments
  • £1,000 helps to buy sophisticated equipment needed to understand blood cancers

  • So you've had a look at the website and you want to help, what can you do? The quickest and easiest way to help is to sponsor Dan. Those of you who know Dan will know how well he's done to get to this point. When he first said he was going running, my reaction was 'yeah right!' but he's proved me wrong and I'm well proud of him.

    The second thing you could do is some fund raising of your own. If you're a runner they'll send you a very helpful fund raising kit complete with VERY bright running shirt. Loads of people can't run (like me) but there's still loads of things you can do to raise both money and awareness - the only limit is your imagination!

    The third suggestion I have is to register to be a bonemarrow donor. This was something I included on my mission 101 list and I've started the process tonight. I've completed the online application form and now I'm waiting for my spit kit to arrive. They'll test my saliva to find out my tissue type and see if I'm suitable to be a donor.

    Friday, 24 August 2012

    Needed - Film recommendations

    Watch 26 films I've not seen before, one for each letter of the alphabet. Shouldn't be too difficult, after all I've got Netflix and my Cineworld unlimited pass. And I've finally caught up with the world and got a DVD player just as the rest of the world is moving onto blue ray.

    And I suppose it hasn't been difficult but so far it has been disappointing. Started with H the other night and watched High Fidelity. I thought I'd enjoy it as I like Nick Hornby's books (reminds me of my dad, similar anorak tendancies!) and I've enjoyed a few films based on his books before. I hated it though. Just didn't interest me at all and didn't even seem like it was related to the book. I only made it to the end because I'd already logged it on the website.

    Tonight wasn't as bad. I watched Reservoir Dogs. It's one of those films that I always think I've seen but I really haven't. I didn't hate it, but I didn't really know what was going on for most of it. It seemed to jump around and not all be in order so it was a bit confusing. I've come to the conclusion that I'm not great at waching films at home. I sort of get distracted by other things so I really need films I don't need to concentrate on that much.

    So I've still got 24 letters to go people, what do you recommend? I'll watch more or less anything at the cinema but I need ones that don't require concentration at home. Thanks :-)

    Wednesday, 22 August 2012

    Quick update and Operation Beautiful

    So I've not blogged for a few days but that doesn't mean I've not been busy with my challenges. I've got quite a few marked as in progress now, longer term things that I'm not going to complete in a day.

    I've been practicing my touch typing and I'm now up to 34wpm - still below average but a big  improvement on when I started. I've been working on creative writing prompts and getting ideas together for NaNoWriMo in November. I'm really looking forward to that.

    I've been reading books, doing my cross stitch and watching films, all of which are part of a challenge as well as heping me pass the time. I'm writing in my diary every night and I've also started keeping a record of money I spend - just need to find somewhere to hide it now!!

    I've made a start on my operation beautiful challenge today. I love this, it's such a simple idea but it works. Everyone loves being told they look good right?

    The goal of the Operation Beautiful website is to end negative self-talk. The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other people to find. The point is that
    So the basic idea is that you leave post it notes for strangers to find with positive messages on them. It felt pretty good writing them and I bet it feels great finding them. I think I've challenged myself to leave 20 notes. I've done my first two today and left them in library books.

    Sunday, 19 August 2012

    Write here, right now

    I love writing! Any kind of writing really. These days its my letters to penpals and my diary that I write the most but writing of any kind makes me smile. I'm forever writing lists to help me get organised - but then I lose them! And when I find the time I also like writing stories and poems.

    I've always liked the idea of writing a book but kind of dismissed it as something other people do. I heard about NaNoWriMo from a penpal in America and decided to add it to the list. It seemed like a good way to finally have a go at writing a book without any real pressure for it to perfect.

    NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month but its actually an international thing. The idea is to write an entire novel in one month. It's more about quantity than quality at this stage, you can always go back and redraft at the end of the challenge.

    To be a winner of NaNoWriMo you have to write 50,000 words during the month of November. I've worked out thats 1666.7 words a day which at my new improved typing speed of 31wpm (still not great, but improving) is 54 minutes typing each day. According to the rules, you can't start writing your story until 12.01am on the 1st November but you can do planning and research before then so this weekend I've registered for the competition and made a start on my planning. I've found a great website which has been really useful for ideas and knowing just where to start.

    I also decided that while I was thinking about writing I'd make a start on another challenge which is to write using 25 of the prompts at They probably won't make it in to the story I write in November but they'll be a good way of getting me into the writing habit and the more I write the better a writer I'll become. Can't wait to get started in November!

    Thursday, 16 August 2012

    How fast can I type this?

    So today I thought I'd make a start on learning to touch type. My mam can do it and it always amazes me the way her fingers just whizz over the keys while shes having a chat and not even looking but it still manages to say what it should say. I'd love to be able to do that!

    I'm not a TERRRIBLE typist. I get by with a rough idea of where most of the letters are and mainly two fingers although I sometimes really adventurous and use my middle fingers aswell. Decided to see just how bad I was before I got on with the lessons. Found an online test to do and this was my result;

    Your speed was: 24wpm.

    You made 3 mistakes, your mistakes are shown in bold text:

    I Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus. This-that-and-the-other, for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles, who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as
    'Cladius the Idiot', or 'That Claudius, or 'Claudius the Stammerer', or 'Clau-Clau-Claudius' or at best as 'Poor Uncle Claudius', am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, I suddenly found myself caught in the 'golden predicament'

    Apparently an average typing speed is 40 wpm and good is anything above that. It looks like I've got a lot of work to do then especially as that test wasn't touch typed - it was just me plodding away at the keys in my own unique way.

    I decided to start simple so I worked through some exercises on the bbc schools website. Alright so I'm 32 years old, not 8 but it started at the very beginning and worked up in tiny little steps. I didn't even know that those tiny ridges on the f and j keys were there to help you position your hands for typing but I do now. The bbc exercises were a good introduction if you can get past all the singing animals and I worked through all twelve exercises this morning.

    I've now moved onto another website where I'm trying to improve my speed and my accuracy. I've not done much on there yet. I'm currently up to level 3 with a speed of 25 wpm and 99% accuracy. Not a great improvement in speed but I've managed to improve my speed in a day and I'm more accurate. Plus that is now a proper touch typing speed rather than me scanning the keyboard all the time. Hopefully if I keep working through the brown bear exercises I'll improve my speed and get to the stage where I can do a proper typing course - after that these updates will be a doddle :-)

    Wednesday, 15 August 2012

    Curry Night :-)

    Me and Dan love eating out. We try to go out for something to eat whenever one of us gets paid. We like all different kinds of food but we do tend to stick to the same few restaurants that we keep going back to. That's why I decided to add try 10 new restaurants in my city as one of my challenges.

    I got started tonight with a nice easy one - Desi Lounge. It's an indian restaurant and I can't believe we haven't been before. We love a good curry and it's so close - we managed to walk there in about five minutes even with me still on crutches.

    I'd thought that it would be quiet with it being a wet Wednesday night but it was pretty busy, always a good sign. It seemed like a lot of the customers were regulars too, another good sign - after all you're not going to keep going back to somewhere thats no good.

    It was really hard to decide what to have because everything looked gorgeous. In the end I decided on the tandoori mix starter. It had chicken tikka, shish kebab, lamb chops and king prawns. It all came on a sizzler with onions and peppers and it was really gorgeous. Dan's starter was lovely too, some kind of chick pea and potato thing.

    For mains we shared lamb haandi, meat thali, pilau rice and nan bread and again it was all lovely. Trying somewhere new was definitely a success, we've got a gorgeous place right on our doorstep. We'll be going back, seems silly to travel for a curry when this place is so close. But even though I'm looking forward to going back I'm excited about finding new places to try. Any recommendations in Manchester, give me a shout