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....