Monthly Archives

May 2010

I is for… It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time meme

Posted on 25th May 2010 in Blog/ car park/ Crushes/ gin/ it seemed like a good idea at the time/ meme/ SAS

I am honoured, emotional, surprised, unprepared and deeply grateful to be one of the very first recipients of the ‘It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time’ meme award.

This is a BRAND NEW meme created by Jon in his great blog.

First, and foremost, in order to abide by the rules, I need to thank Jon for the honour that he has bestowed upon me. “Thank YOU Jon”

Now for the rules, I have ‘cut & paste’ these from Jon’s blog and am a little alarmed at the absence of points 3 & 6 – Jon?

So here are the rules for this one:

1. you have to thank the person that tagged you by tagging them back!

2. Use the picture in your post.

4. Tell everyone 5 things you did in your life that seemed like a good idea at the time!

5. Nominate 7 other people to do the same and link to there blogs.

7. Let the people you have nominated know.

And so, my 5 things that Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time:

1. In a nightclub, guy comes up and asks me to dance. So I ask a friend to hold my drink and I say yes…. reason this was a mistake? See A is for…

2. At school, age 15, my boyfriend was 23 (should stop that one there really!) he used to drop me off at school in his white porsche and kiss me goodbye in the school car park. CRINGE.

3. I once let someone go that I probably shouldn’t have. Trouble with that is that they chose to go so I guess keeping them would have been kidnap?

4. In the car park where I park for work, the concrete posts are in a ridiculous position for anyone who is unfortunate enough to have to park a car in there…you have to swing round REALLY close to the post. Anyway, will let the picture below do the talking on this one – needless to say the car on the right is mine…

5. Hmmm, number 5. I’m really stuck on 5. Don’t get me wrong – have done loads of stupid things – maybe, no, what about, oh no, erm – ok, I once went out with a guy who was a trainee accountant, but, told me he was also in the SAS… and I believed him. Yes, yes, as it turns out he was married.

And so, to tag 7 others, groan 7? really? do you know how much gin I’ve drunk?

@SingleDadsDiary
@Spences10
@Jfb57
@himupnorth
@metajugglamum
@little__witch
@thecakenest

Go for it guys xx

T is for… Taste London – customer service deficit

Posted on 21st May 2010 in auto renewal/ bad service/ complaint/ customer service/ debt/ review/ taste london/ theft

For anyone who has a taste london card, please be aware of their auto renewal clause. I signed up for a taste london card after receiving a 50% off special offer email. I did not know that I had signed up for auto renewal.

I tried to use my card in the restaurants stated, but each time I tried the restaurants said that because they had other incentives running the card could not be used. I wrote it off as a bad purchase and forgot about it until recently when I spotted that taste london had debited my account. I then immediately emailed them – via their website as they don’t show any actual email addresses – and below you will find a copy of the emails in which they repeatedly refuse to issue a refund.

Web site enquiry

number2: Hi – you seem to have deducted £29.95 from my bank account but I didn’t actually want to renew my card. Please can you cancel this and refund my account.
Many thanks.

Tue 4th May 2010

Good morning Lisa and thank you for taking the time to contact us.

When you first join tastelondon you cannot proceed with your order until you have clicked that you accept the terms and conditions of the membership (copy below). I am unable to offer you a refund however if you do not feel you will use the card over the next 12 months but a friend or family member may benefit instead please return the card to me with details of their full name and I can transfer this for you.
You must read, agree and accept all of the terms and conditions expressly set out below and those incorporated by reference before you may become a member.

We reserve the right to amend these terms and conditions at any time by giving you Notice (“Notice”) by posting the amended terms and conditions on the Site.

Any amended terms and conditions will govern new memberships after the expiry of 30 days following the date of the Notice

“We”, “Ourselves”, “Our”- means Taste London and Taste Marketing Ltd

“Site”- means www.tasteuk.co.uk

1. The tastelondon Club is an ongoing subscription service so your membership is continuous, your membership is renewed automatically at the end of each membership year. We will send you a reminder by email (or by post if you have not supplied us with your email address) approximately 3 weeks before your renewal is due, to advise you of details of the new subscription. If you do not want to renew your membership you should contact us by telephone at any point within your 12 months membership period and at least 7 days prior to your renewal date. You are required to inform us if you change your correspondence address (both email and postal) – and we will not be liable for any non receipt of communication from us, this includes the renewal reminder.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Tuesday 4th May 2010

Hi TasteLondonEmployee,

Thank you for your email.

I am very unhappy with your response. If you make it compulsory for people to tick the autorenew option then I do not believe that to be fair and I certainly did not realise that I had done that when I bought the card.

I do not want my card to be renewed. I do not live in London and I have not been able to use the card as the restaurants that I have tried to use it in have always had other promotions on at the time meaning that the card cannot be used – thus making the card pointless.

If you are unable to issue a refund I would be grateful if you could pass this matter onto your supervisor.

I look forward to receiving confirmation of my refund.

Lisa

Wednesday 5th May 2010

Good morning Lisa and thank you for your reply. The reason why we do not allow customers to proceed with their order until they have clicked that they have read and understood the terms and conditions is to avoid circumstances such as this. I have cancelled your renewal for 2011 and as I said before we can transfer the membership to a friend or family member for the next 12 months if this is something you would be interested in.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee 
Operations Director

Wednesday 5th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have written to my bank today to complain about this under the terms of the Direct Debit guarantee.

I do not agree that I gave you permission to auto-renew. I did not receive an email ‘reminding me of the renewal’ (as stated in your email of the 4th of May) if I had of done I would then have cancelled the subscription – within the permitted timescale.

I would again request that you do the decent thing and cancel my renewal and refund the debit.

If you refuse to do so, I hope that the bank will be able to enforce the Direct Debit guarantee. Either way, I think this is an appalling lack of customer service on your behalf.

Lisa

Wednesday 5th May 2010

Good afternoon Lisa,

Thank you for your subsequent email. Our subscription is not a direct debit, it is a continuous authority transaction and therefore not covered by the guarantee to which you refer.

I hope this helps clarify, I am now away from the office until Monday 10th May. If you would like to transfer the membership into another name please contact a member of the customer service team on the free phone number below.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee 
Operations Director

Thursday 6th May 2010

No TasteLondonEmployee, it does not clarify.

I makes it sound even more like a sneaky loop hole built in to ensnare the unsuspecting.

However, as you did not honour your own terms and conditions, it is quite clear that you have violated them and I would like a full and immediate refund.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010 – sent high priority

TasteLondonEmployee,

I still have not had confirmation of the refund.

Please can you action this and confirm urgently. As we have established, I did not want the card renewed. I did not receive any notification of the renewal and I would like a full and immediate refund. If you are not authorised to action this please can you kindly pass it on to someone who is.

Many thanks,

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Good afternoon Lisa,

As I said before I am the Operations Director for Taste Marketing Limited and I cannot process a refund for you. I can transfer the card into the name of a friend or family member instead if you would like to do so.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have absolutely no intention of letting this drop.

You have renewed the card without my permission and I want a refund.

As you have refused several times to give me a refund I will now look into how I can escalate this complaint. I am absolutely disgusted with the attitude of taste london over this matter and think you need to take a long hard look at your customer service. If you believe that tricking people into renewal is good practice then you are very wrong.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Lisa,

At no point have you been tricked into a refund and it’s disappointing that you have suggested this in your email, you yourself accepted the terms and conditions of the membership when you joined and this would also have been flagged as a reoccurring transaction on your bank statement at the time.

With almost 200,000 members we cannot waive these terms or get into a situation where we are making any special exceptions. That said when a member does forgot to cancel their membership we do everything we can to assist them in transferring this and cancelling the renewal for the following year.

Kind regards,

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I was not aware that I had signed up for anything other than a 1 year membership.

In your email of 4th May you said “1. The tastelondon Club is an ongoing subscription service so your membership is continuous, your membership is renewed automatically at the end of each membership year. We will send you a reminder by email (or by post if you have not supplied us with your email address) approximately 3 weeks before your renewal is due, to advise you of details of the new subscription. If you do not want to renew your membership you should contact us by telephone at any point within your 12 months membership period and at least 7 days prior to your renewal date. You are required to inform us if you change your correspondence address (both email and postal) – and we will not be liable for any non receipt of communication from us, this includes the renewal reminder.

I did not receive a reminder. As such I feel that I was tricked.

I have explained to you that I have been unable to use the card. I have asked you 6 times for a refund. As stated in my last email I am now looking into ways to take this further. My bank have already assured me that they agree with me that payment should not have been taken and they will be contacting taste london to request a refund. In addition to this I am now investigating whether the financial ombudsman or the office of fair trading will be the most appropriate person to complain to, I have emailed Money Saving Expert for their advice, I have asked on Twitter what people suggest (and warned them not to be tricked in the same way) and I will now continue to seek further ways to complain.

As I said in virtually every email, I am disappointed and quite frankly disgusted that you have refused to refund.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Lisa,

I can assure you that our transactions are all perfectly legal, not in any way misleading and have been reviewed and approved by all the relevant authorities. We work closely with Money Saving Expert and they are fully aware of the terms and conditions of our membership. We will have sent you the reminder email however there are a number of firewalls that block certain traffic – for example those with links to social networking sites which is why we also notify members when they first join that we cannot control any correspondence which does not get delivered.

We do have exceptional levels of customer service which is reflected in the high percentage of members who stay with tastelondon year on year and take the time to write in offering their thanks or congratulating the team on the work they do. Members cannot proceed with their initial order without first confirming that they have fully read and accepted the terms and conditions of the scheme which quite clearly state that this will renew unless we are notified otherwise. We allow members to do so at any point within the twelve months, providing this is no later than 7 days before the expiry date on their card.

When you do contact your bank they will inform you of the details of your initial transaction and verify the legality of the “continuous authorised transaction” which you yourself accepted and authorised . I have noted that you are seeking advice from the financial ombudsman and the office of fair trading who will also confirm the same, therefore I shall now leave the matter and assume it closed.

On behalf of everyone at tastelondon I would like to thank you for your custom and wish you the very best for the future.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

Whether or not you consider the matter closed – it is not.

I have already contacted my bank who, if you read my earlier email, do not agree with you and have confirmed that they are writing to you to request a refund.

I would be grateful if you could send me a copy of the document which you have stated “which you yourself accepted and authorised” along with a copy of the email that was sent to me “approximately 3 weeks before renewal is due” .

Your arrogance during this matter has been most unpleasant, please can you also provide me with the taste london complaints procedure along with clear details of how I can escalate this complaint within your company.

I look forward to hearing from you and receiving the items requested above.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010 – sent high priority

TasteLondonEmployee,

It has just occurred to me that I have not received a new card anyway!

IF you have sent a new card, you need to cancel it immediately. And please DO NOT issue a further one.

Lisa

Friday 21st May 2010

Good morning Lisa, I will answer both your emails at the same time.

Firstly with reference to the non receipt of the renewed card, I note from our earlier correspondence that you no longer reside in London therefore I assume that you had not updated your address details with us and the pack will be at your old address. Under normal circumstances we ask for the card to be returned to us before we re-issue it in the name of a friend or family member but I had already taken that into consideration and offered to issue one without receipt of the original.

As our terms and conditions have been approved by all the financial regulators the matter is closed. I am disappointed to hear that you feel the company and I myself are arrogant in our approach, this is certainly not the case. We offer a fluid and ease of transition service to all our members, as I said before we prevent you from being able to join the scheme in the first place before you confirm that you have read and accepted our terms and conditions.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Friday 21st May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have never lived in London.

I have not received the card and would again request that you therefore cancel it with immediate effect and that you do not print a new one.

I look forward to receiving your confirmation of this along with the items requested in my previous email.

Lisa


No reply, as yet, will update if/when there is an outcome.

UPDATE  – I am delighted to say that on the 26 May 2010 the sum of £29.95 was re-credited to my account by my bank who are now going to take the matter up with Taste London themselves.

B is for… Book Club

Posted on 21st May 2010 in #bookclub/ book club/ richard madeley/ secret post club/ Twitter

Twitter Book Club

Ever so occasionally I have a bright idea!

Recently I have been wondering if there is a twitter book club – where we can swop books with each other. I’ve been trawling through twitter but haven’t found one, so I am now thinking about setting one up.

Oooooh I wonder if the handsome and wise Richard Madeley @richardm56 would be our twitter #bookclub patron….

So, please could you let me know if you would be interested in a twitter book club (think #secretpostclub but, not secret, and with books….) can you comment below to let me know:

1) If you’d be interested.

2) Would you prefer to list books you’d like and books you have available to swop and then be paired up with someone.

3) Would you prefer to just be allocated a person to send a book to – and someone else be allocated to send a book to you? ie – you would receive a random book of any genre.

4) Any other suggestions?

OBVIOUSLY we will need a #bookclub badge which I am wondering if the lovely @SecretDadsDiary would be able to make for us? *cough* hint hint

Let me know what you think guys xx

S is for… Secret Post Club

Posted on 19th May 2010 in cake/ coffee/ note book/ secret post club/ starbucks

10th Secret Post Club

Arrived today and what a lovely surprise all the way from the US of A!

As you can see it contains a bag stuffed full of ‘bold’ starbucks coffee (which is brewing in my cafetier as we speak) a bag of traditional ‘fall’ sweets and a beautiful hand-made book mark – along with a lovely note from the sender! Thank you @moneypenny_usa for  my lovely gift x

9th Secret Post Club

I didn’t receive anything, boo! And the person I sent to didn’t acknowledge receipt of theirs either :(

 

8th Secret Post Club 

Not sure what happened to the 7th, I forgot to blog it! Sorry.

But the 8th arrived today:

I’m so excited by the notebook. I’ll probably never write in it because it’s new, and perfect and lovely and therefore anything I write in it will sully it….however I will keep it and love it! The book mark is brilliant and is already tucked into the book that I’m reading – you can’t beat an evil penguin!

It was accompanied by a lovely little note, well it looked lovely until I read the back and realised it was made from recycled sheep poo!

Many, many thanks to Charlotte for my lovely gift.

And to Heather for creating the Secret Post Club :)

6th Secret Post Club

I got my secret post club parcel really early this month! What a lovely surprise :)

What’s extra lovely is that the book was bought in America (I think) it has that lovely rough cut feel to the pages that I simply adore.

I love this gift, cherish books as a rule anyway and I’m really looking forward to reading this one (with it’s lovely rough uncut pages…..) – I never buy magazines so it will be a real indulgence when I settle down with this one and my LARGE bar of chocolate!

BIG thanks to www.mumof4.wordpress.com for my lovely gift.

BIG thanks to @notefromlapland for the Secret Post Club.

5th Secret Post Club

I was getting a little petulently put this as October ticked on by and I didn’t receive my secret post club parcel – so it was extra lovely to come home on Friday to find not one, but two lovely slices of @thecakenest chocolate cake waiting for me!

Thank you @arcticmummy

xxxxx

4th Secret Post Club!

A HUGE thank you to @carolinemathews for my 4th secret post club parcel – packed to the brim with loveliness! A cutesy notepad, a gorgeous cupcake note, a KitKat dark (which is now in the fridge for later!), a girly sparkly headband and a FAB Olay Total effects radiance enchancing cream wash!

I feel spoiled rotten today – this is like a little birthday!

Thank you Caroline and thank you @notefromlapland for the #secretpostclub

3rd Secret Post Club

Huge thanks today to ‘Laura’ for my secret post club parcel.

I got 2 packages in the post today – the 1st filled the room the the aroma of fresh coffee as soon as I opened it! It was wonderful and it contained a beautifully quilled (I think that is what it is called, although I may need to look that up…) card which said that this was part 1 of my secret post club gift and that I needed to fill the kettle, make the coffee and enjoy it with part 2….

Fortunately, part 2 was delivered at the same time (well done royal mail!) so I got to enjoy my lovely coffee with a slice of @thecakenest gorgeous double chocolate cake!

Life rocks.

Thank you Laura – although you didn’t include your twitter name so I don’t know who you are to say thank you properly :(

And big thanks to Heather for the Secret Post Club.


2nd Secret Post Club

It was my son’s 9th birthday yesterday so when a brown box was delivered I assumed it was for him….. but no, MY name was on the top! Childish excitement then ensued as I sat down to open the box – inside I found:

First thing I noticed was the lovely smell! Which was confusing to start with as the first thing I found was a box of 3 different types of coffee (I can’t wait to try these in my cafetiere!), then I found an envelope with a note to me enclosed from the lovely @elainescott77 of elainescott77.blogspot.com who sent my parcel. Further down in some bubble wrap was a massive cat cup and saucer and then finally towards the bottom I found the source of the lovely smell…. not illict drugs as it looks in the photo but a packet of delicious smelling bath fizz!

Thank you @elainescott77 and thank you @notefromlapland for creating the secret post club!

x x x x x

ps I would love to add a secret post club badge to my wordpress blog – does anyone have the code?

It was with a ridiculous amount of excitement that I received my first Secret Post Club parcel!

I literally ripped it open to find:

A tin of mints in a lovely art deco case, a gorgeous little heart shaped sign saying ‘sunshine follows the rain’, a sweet little note pad, some chocolate and a tiny silver globe with a note saying ‘the little world is for you to keep in your pocket so that you remember the world is yours you just have to believe’ how cute is that!

Heartfelt thanks to Sara for my gift and note – I really appreciate it!

And heartfelt thanks to Heather @notefromlapland for the whole Secret Post Club!

D is for… Dealing with Debts

Posted on 19th May 2010 in adultery/ benefits/ counselling/ debt/ divorce/ house/ lies/ solicitor

If you are in debt and feel that you need some help, I hope that reading this will reassure you and offer some useful suggestions.

If you’ve read A is for… And then he left me you will recall that my ex husband left me quite hideously in debt. This was in 2004 which was just before the bankruptcy laws changed – I have to say if it happened to me now, rather than then, I would given serious thought to going bankrupt. Even in 2004 (when the after affects of bankruptcy were much harsher) every debt advisor I spoke to told me to file for bankruptcy.

So, he left on 9 July 2004 (the night before our youngest son’s 3rd birthday). I had no warning of this and, although people find it hard to believe, I had absolutely no idea that it was going to happen.

I knew we had debts, money had been somewhat scarce for several years as he had been frequently ‘off sick’ with a bad back and depression. We had re-mortgaged the house several times, once to consolidate all the debts – except that when the money came through he managed to convince me that he NEEDED some tools (although only dewalt ones obviously), that he DESERVED a playstation, and an x-box, and some games, and some new clothes, and we NEEEDED a new lawn mower etc. So only a small amount of debt ever got repaid.

His attitude to money was always poor. Even when he wasn’t working he would think nothing of spending £5 on a playstation magazine and then say that we couldn’t afford proper  nappies. I stood at the checkout in tesco more times than I care to remember with flaming red cheeks when my debit card was rejected, because he had withdrawn cash to spend on HIM without telling me and without caring if it left enough money for bills and food.

My mum set up a bank account and started paying £20 a month into it, she said it was for me to treat myself with, I didn’t tell him about it, it didn’t seem deceitful as I only ever spent the money on food shopping anyway. Once when I went to withdraw the £20 to use for shopping I was stunned to see there was no money available – when I checked further I saw that the £20 had already been withdrawn. I asked him about it, he said that found the card in my purse and we’d needed milk so he took the money out. The pin was my birthdate – he had guessed it. From then on he would wait for that £20 to land and whip it out straight away. He often drove to the cashpoint at just gone midnight to make sure that HE got the money.

Below is a list of the debts I was left with, this is just from the paperwork that I can find now, I think there were more:

Nationwide negative equity £12,000 – paid £4,600
Halifax overdraft £1,555.54 – paid £1,150
Barclays business overdraft £1,840.69 – paid £921
Barclays overdraft £974 – paid £750
Barclaycard £2,292.35 – paid £1,375.41
Debenhams store card £2,635 – paid £2,355
Dorothy Perkins store card £1,435 – paid £910
Capital One Visa £879 – paid £425
Capital One Visa £1,529 – paid £1,100
Business loan £5,000 – £2,000
Woolwich overdraft £1,841 – paid £1,400
Alliance & Leicester Loan £1,428.71 – paid £800
M&S store card £893 – paid £715
Thames Credit £932 – paid £800
Welcome financial services £781.20 – paid £781.20

As you can see, even with just the debts that I can remember, I was left with £36,016.49 of debt outstanding which cost me £20,082.61 to pay off. I’m pretty sure the total amount I spent paying off debts was closer to £28K so there must be a few that I’ve missed. It took me 6 years – the last debt was cleared in February of this year.

My ex took one debt, an Abbey National current account overdraft of around £700. This was in joint names but he made me sign the account over to him so that he still had a bank account – this, of course, left me without one and with a completely shagged credit rating which meant that I couldn’t get one.

My divorce Solicitor told me that I wouldn’t be able to assign any of the debts over to my ex. She advised me to go bankrupt. The CAB helped me set up a payment schedule – paying £1 a month to each company and advised me to go bankrupt. The CCCS agreed with the CAB.

I didn’t answer my home phone for several years unless I was expecting a call, as most of the time it was a debt company chasing money, I still find it hard to answer it now. Some companies are ok to deal with – some are terrifying.

What makes it even more complicated is that most companies sell on debts, meaning that it was almost impossible to keep track of who I had paid what to – I’m quite sure that I repaid some of the debts twice! For example – the £1,840 debt to Barclays was at one point being chased by Aplins Solicitors, DLC (Direct Legal & Collections), Hillesden Securities Ltd, Buchannon Clark & Wells and Ruthbridge Ltd. That is 5 different companies all chasing 1 debt. All 5 companies claimed theirs was a different debt and that I HAD to deal with them. Sometimes they phoned, sometimes they wrote, sometimes they sent baliffs round – mostly it was a combination of all three methods. Like most of the debts, this particular one was a joint debt so I gave all of them my ex’s details too – I had to laugh one day when a guy from Buchannon Clark & Wells rang me to say that he thought my ex was a complete c*** and that he knew someone who could ‘have a word’ if I wanted him too… Even funnier when my ex rang me the same night in a right state to say that he had just received a threatening phone call and it sounded just like the guy from BCW…

The point of this post is twofold, one to say don’t ignore your debts. They truly don’t go away they just get bigger and more unmanageable. Get a copy of your credit file – this is a huge step towards taking control, yes it will probably tell you things that you don’t want to know, but do you know what? The debts are there whether you acknowledge them or not! You can get one month’s free trial from Experian. Get an A4 ring folder and some dividers and make a file for each debt, then make an appointment to see a debt adviser. A FREE one like the CCCS. DO NOT PAY ANYONE TO ‘SORT OUT’ YOUR DEBTS! Either phone them or write to them asap. Tell them you are experiencing financial difficulties. Tell them your income and your outgoings – make sure you include everything that you have to pay out for. They will help you. If you have some money to repay a debt, NEVER repay the full amount – always offer a reduced settlement figure – 99% of the time they will either accept it or negotiate.

MY DEBT FILE!

Secondly – do not let your solicitor leave you with all the debts! I am so angry that my solicitor allowed me to be left in this situation. Now, 6 years on, my debts are all repaid. I will never have an overdraft or a credit card again, ever. I won’t let my new husband have them either. It isn’t always easy like living like that but we do. We currently rent a house as we now have to save up a deposit to buy, this has set me back massively in terms of ‘steps on the ladder’.

But, having said that, the past is all behind me now, I’ve learnt from it and I can concentrate on the future.

I am very happy to try and help if you have any queries that you think I may be able to answer – just let me know on the comments section below and I will reply to you.

UPDATE – 2oth May 2010 – To answer some questions that have arisen from this post:

1. The negative equity was from a flat that I owned before I met my ex. It was rented out but I had a few problems with tenants and often  had to meet the mortgage payment on that as well as on the house I shared with my ex. When he stopped working for frequent and ever increasing periods, my salary was insufficient to pay both mortgages. He persuaded me to hand in the keys – the second biggest mistake of my life – if I still had that flat and sold it today it would net me 85K profit.

2. All of the debts except the dorothy perkins/debenhams cards were in our joint names. However due to joint and several liability the debt companies had the legal right to pursue me for the entire debt. They chose to do that as because as a mother of 2 young children I was an ‘easy target’, threatening phone calls and visits from big scary men terrified me.

3. Why didn’t I leave him? That is always so hard to answer! I didn’t feel it was acceptable to leave him for being off work – he was depressed, you can’t leave someone for being depressed can you? I couldn’t leave him when his business failed – that was just bad luck, wasn’t it? I couldn’t leave him – because it was christmas, fathers day, mothers day, the kids birthdays etc etc. I couldn’t break my marriage vows – I came from a broken home, I didn’t want me kids to as well. But mainly, I couldn’t leave him because I didn’t have enough self esteem to realise that I should accept all his shit.


K is for… Kreativ Blogger

Posted on 16th May 2010 in 1932/ Blog/ child/ grandparents/ KidAround Magazine/ meme/ Mother/ New York/ son/ wedding
Damn and tarnation, I have been tagged by @himupnorth to do a photo version of the 7 things meme. Actually, sorry – the rules say you have to THANK the person who passes the Kreativ Blogger award on to you, so, ahem, thank you @himupnorth for passing this to me… To try do this justice, I am for once going to attempt to use as few words as possible and let the images do the talking….

Picture 1.

I was quite a cute baby…

Picture 2.

But my mum was cuter!

Picture 3.

I have 2 boys. My DH has 2 boys. The picture below is from a day out at Bewilderwood in Norfolk – we built the den that they are sitting in. And yes, I may have buggered about with the pic in photoshop just a little!

Picture 4.

My grandparents 1932.

Picture 5.

My job – I make this.

Picture 6.

I have lots of amazing pics from New York, and couldn’t decide which was the most iconic – the Empire State? The Algonquin cat? Central Park? The Chrysler building? The Statue of Liberty? In the end I settled on something that surprised me – a black squirrel!

Picture 7.

Last but not least – 3rd April 2009.

And so, to pass the Kreativ Blogger – photo version – 7 things meme onto 5 others…

1 – @1chicmama

2 – @Jon_Stead

3 – @Metajugglamum

4 – @christinemosler

5 – @supersinglemum

So guys – I pass the Kreativ Blogger award on to you – have fun!

O is for… Online Dating tips

Posted on 15th May 2010 in adultery/ Blog/ dating/ dating tips/ girls date for free/ lies/ loopy love/ match.com/ online dating/ self esteem

I can resist no longer! There is so much talk of online dating on twitter that I feel compelled to share some of my experiences, which may or may not be helpful, in the style of online dating tips!

I have to say that I personally enjoyed online dating. And like most things in life, it is what you make it. When I was doing it, 3 of my female friends were too – which threw up some interesting twists!

I’ve just had a quick look on a site www.loopylove.com and it would seem the search criteria has changed a little since I did online dating – there are a couple of questions that I don’t remember being there.

For example: Endowed =   a) small   b) average   c) average+   d) bull elephant.

However, this question does lead me nicely into tip 1.

Tip 1) Watch out for obvious lies….

The most common lie that I encountered was height. I’m 5ft4 so not an especially tall girly but even so a lot of men felt compelled to add on a couple of extra inches – to their height. Don’t do it guys, it soon becomes pretty darn obvious when we meet you that you aren’t 6ft!

This applies to women too – if you aren’t a size 10 don’t say that you are! and don’t use a photo that is 10 years old…

Tip 2) Sadly, watch out for married men/women…

When I say married, I am including anyone already in a relationship. This is pretty easy to spot as you will notice a pattern to when they can/cannot contact you. There will be lots of questions that they will be very vague about – their last relationship/where they work/live, their surname, home phone number etc.

Tip 3) Be honest (at least with yourself) about what you are looking for…

Do you want a long term relationship, possibly marriage? Do you just want a few online conversations, with no intention of ever meeting up? Do you want a few elicit bunk ups (for want of a better expression)?

I had one friend who claimed to be looking for love, but very quickly made her way through a vast amount of one night stands. I had another friend who wasn’t really sure what she was looking for and therefore ended up meeting up with everyone who asked whether suitable or not.

Tip 4) Don’t take it too seriously…

This is easier said than done. Much like twitter, online dating can quickly become addictive and before you know it you are obsessed with how many ‘views’ you’ve had, or whether the guy you like the look of has been online but not contacted you – I mean, exactly who is he talking to?! Don’t prioritise online dating above meeting your friends/family, don’t get up early to ‘check’, don’t be tempted to pop online when the boss isn’t looking…

Tip 5) Don’t rush…

Don’t rush to meet up. If someone is pushing you to meet up then you have to ask yourself why. When I was dating I had to fit it around my children, my friends and my job. So if I met a guy online it could be weeks before I had a chance to meet up. If I liked someone then that could mean several weeks of exchanging messages, photo’s, maybe texts or phone calls before an opportunity to meet came about. If a guy wasn’t happy to do that, then good riddance because my life does have children, friends and a job in it!

Tip 6) Don’t dawdle…

Contrary Mary that I am – don’t take TOO long to meet up with someone! It is hideously embarrassing to have exchanged 15/20 emails, 50 texts, 5 phone calls with someone, all with increasing affection – only to meet them and go EWWWW NO! I had one such date, met the guy, knew instantly that a) he was 4 inches shorter than he’d said and b) that I didn’t fancy him at all, and wouldn’t in a million years. A very uncomfortable date – which I had to follow with a very uncomfortable text later on saying ‘I just didn’t feel any chemistry’ which was my way of saying – ‘I really wouldn’t touch you with a barge pole’.

Tip 7) Don’t jump with both feet…

You might think he’s THE ONE. He might think you are ok for a few dates… Don’t become a stalker – if he wants to contact you, he will. So, if he doesn’t that is sadly because he doesn’t want to. It isn’t rocket science.

Tip 8 ) R.E.S.P.E.C.T…

Respect yourself. First and foremost. Don’t do anything that you don’t want to.

Secondly, respect others – 99% of the people you encounter are genuine, insecure and probably feeling a bit vulnerable. Just because someone might not be what you are looking for doesn’t mean you have to be offensive.

Don’t get drawn into trashy conversations – there are some people who abuse the online dating sites, use them in place of other ‘adult’ services. Do you seriously think that someone who rings you/web cams you for ‘adult’ conversations is going to want to have a long term relationship with you? If on the other hand that is all you are looking for – be honest about it and register on one of the sites that specialises in that sort of thing – leave the genuine dating sites to the people who genuinely want to date.

Do not compromise on your values and who you are. Don’t pretend to either like or dislike something to try and keep someones attention. It is a complete waste of time and will make you look a bit weird when they find out!

Tip 9) Time and place…

If you have children, you should indicate it on your profile. A subtle tick box. Don’t go on and on about them in your ‘about me’. Three reasons for this. One – you are looking for a partner for YOU, so you need to tell people about YOU, at the end of the day if you think someone is amazing and a possible future partner then they will be right for your children too – otherwise you wouldn’t have chosen them. Two – you will probably put people off, you don’t want to give someone the impression that you are just looking for a father for your children. Three – sorry about this, but if you bang on about your children in your profile you do leave yourself open to being attractive to the wrong kind of person, for the wrong kind of reason.

Tip 10) Use your loaf…

If you are speaking to a guy/girl who left their wife/husband – do you really want to get involved? If you are talking to a guy who doesn’t see his kids – er, why? Don’t ignore the bleeding obvious!

TOP TIP – Have fun… 8)

Enjoy it. If it stops being fun, stop doing it!

….and finally – be safe – always tell someone who you are meeting and where you are meeting. Meet in a public place if possible. Ladies, don’t give out your home address/kids names/school etc before you’ve met someone a couple of times and are sure that they are ok. Have a friend agree to call or text you after 10 minutes – if you aren’t happy get them to come and pick you up!


V is for… Volunteer

Posted on 2nd May 2010 in Blog/ cats/ child/ divorce/ self esteem/ writing workshop

Am a bit late with my entry for Josie’s Writing Workshop. Like most people (have been reading through the entries!) I have gone for ‘5. Pick an emotion that best represents your state of mind right now and write creatively on that theme.’

The emotion that represents my state of mind is ‘meh’, yes yes, meh is definitely an actual emotion – don’t bother checking the dictionary, it’s there ok!

Am feeling ‘meh’ because sometimes I just don’t feel that I give enough.

I’ve always said that if I ‘won the lottery’ I would:

a) buy my dad a house with a big garden

b) put ‘a chunk’ of money in the bank for my children

c) buy colchester cat rescue

d) buy myself a house

e) do volunteer work for charities

But then it occurred to me that I could actually do volunteer work without having won the lottery. Ok, so I don’t have the time or money to devote my life to it, and I can’t change the world even a teeny bit but I could do something.

So, for the past 6  months I have been a volunteer for a charity called Cat Chat. Now, in my head this should involve baskets of kittens – each of a different colour, but sadly it doesn’t :(

It does, however, involve lots of pictures of cats which is nearly as good! What I do for them at the moment is make their quarterly newsletter, which helps to spread the word about their good work and lets people know about rehoming success stories, as well as highlighting those poor kitties who just can’t seem to find a home. If you do happen to be looking for a feline family member their rehoming pages are a good place to start.

If I ever did win the lottery and could afford devote more time to volunteer work I’m not sure what I’d chose to do. I’d like to help poorly children, or children affected by sadness whatever the cause. Having experienced the shock of having my world turned upside down – I’d like to help support women who find themselves in a scary world after a partner has left them. Today, after reading the article about single dads in Stella magazine, I’d have to say that I’d also like to help men who find themselves in that situation too. I wish I had the brains or the cash to help find a cure for cancer. I wish I could stop bullying. I wish I could cure depression. I wish the world would share it’s money so that we don’t need action aid, or water aid, or even band aid! I wish I could make paedophiles – JUST BLOODY STOP IT. But in the meantime, I’ll settle for cats cats and more cats!

And squash the feeling of ‘meh’ as best I can.

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