Monthly Archives

January 2012

Eczema Support #CharityTuesday

Posted on 31st January 2012 in #charitytuesday/ childhood eczema/ eczema

Today for #CharityTuesday I am handing you over to @EczemaSupport. This isn’t a plea for money, just for a little more awareness and understanding.

This is something I am 100% behind as my oldest son has suffered with eczema all his life and we find that people can be quite ignorant of the condition. Even today I have had to email his school as yesterday he was told he couldn’t use the cafeteria anymore because his fingerprint won’t scan properly – why wont it scan? because he has eczema! I’ve told them I consider this to be discrimination and that I expect them to find a solution, that does not cause him any embarrassment, very quickly!

Anyway, over to @EczemaSupport – who I have to say are absolutely lovely to tweet with, always there with a suggestion or a caring word.

Eczema is a problem that some children get but, not to worry because they grow out of it, right?  Like most easy statements, there is much more to it than that.  One in five children have eczema and  it can improve with age (but not always).  One in ten adults have eczema, either because they never ‘grew out of it’ or eczema manifested itself later in life.

We are a unique collaboration between health care professionals based at the paediatric department of the local teaching hospital and carers of children with eczema.  So we have an understanding of the nightmare that living with eczema can be – plus all the evidence based knowledge about current methods of managing eczema.  Nottingham Support Group for Carers of Children with Eczema was started about twenty years ago and five years ago we moved to providing support via the web.  There are over 30 patient information leaflets on our website

Since eczema is episodic, it can be unpredictable.  You can never tell when a flare will happen.  The wonderful thing about Twitter (@eczemasupport) is that we are able to interact with those living with eczema in real time.  Eczema in childhood disrupts sleep for the whole family and coping with the distress of seeing a loved one ripping their skin to pieces is not easy at any time, but add sleep deprivation into the mix and it does not make for an easy situation.  Those with eczema may also go on to develop asthma or hay fever or food allergies.  This multiplicity is the reality of many families’ lives.

Everyone’s skin and lifestyle is slightly different.  Eczema responds to multiple triggers and the same ones do not affect eczema skin, even in siblings, the same way.  So there are lots of different ways to manage eczema and often it is trial and error to find the right treatment for that particular skin.  We hope we are there to offer encouragement and information about the options, whilst helping to steer people away from a multitude of dubious remedies.

And then there are other discussions we have had on Twitter – for instance, in this digital age, should photographs be retouched to remove the ravages of eczema or be a reflection of the struggles that exist?  Most eczema sufferers hate having their photographs being taken but some are unavoidable (school photographs and family events perhaps).

For further information:



Twitter: @EczemaSupport

Population Control: My Prediction

Posted on 30th January 2012 in protecting our children

I have a, slightly odd, prediction for how the population will be controlled in the future.

It came to me while watching the BBC TV programme, Protecting Our Children.

I think that at some point in the future there will be a compulsory contraception programme effectively sterilising the human race and that people will have to apply for permission to have families. Much like the adoption process now.

Not quite Nostradamus; just a thought.

A Question Of Taste

Posted on 30th January 2012 in a question of taste

I just watched A Question Of Taste with my children and couldn’t believe that I ‘recognised’ most of the contestants!

Not in real life of course but from twitter – it was a bit like suddenly seeing distant family on the TV.

They were:

‘Three May Eat’





‘May Contain Nuts’




It was a quiz show, very simple format in that the teams essentially had to answer several questions about food!

It did lack a polished feel but I have to say I still enjoyed it.

What I really liked was that it was a show I could watch with my children who also had a few guesses.

It was a simple, family show. It didn’t pretend to be anything it wasn’t and for once it was a quiz show where I actually knew some of the answers!

Take Control Of Your Finances #MoneyMonday

Posted on 30th January 2012 in #MoneyMonday/ debt/ finances/ money

As January draws to a close, I keep hearing people say that they are struggling financially. For some it is the age old problem of over spending at Christmas, for others it is simply because they are finding it hard to make ends meet.

I’ve had lots of experience of budgeting for various reasons and want to share with you a series of posts (all tagged #MoneyMonday) which I hope may help you regain control of your finances.

So what qualifies me to give advice on this subject?

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.

I wont go back over the details on this post regarding the circumstances, they’ve already been posted here.

Below is a list of the debts I was left with (along with the figure I paid to each lender to clear the debt in full):

Negative equity £12,000 – (settled at £4,600)
Bank overdraft £1,555.54 – (settled at £1,150)
Business overdraft £1,840.69 – (settled at £921)
Bank overdraft £974 – (settled at £750)
Credit card £2,292.35 – (settled at £1,375.41)
Store card £2,635 – (settled at £2,355)
Store card £1,435 – (settled at £910)
Credit card £879 – (settled at £425)
Credit card £1,529 – (settled at £1,100)
Business loan £5,000 – (settled at £2,000)
Bank overdraft £1,841 – (settled at £1,400)
Bank Loan £1,428.71 – (settled at £800)
Store card £893 – (settled at £715)
Credit card £932 – (settled at £800)
Personal loan £781.20 – (settled at £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 2010.

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 ruined credit rating which meant that I couldn’t get one. For several years I had to use a building society passbook account and had no cards of any kind. Now you can get bank accounts specifically designed for people with bad credit that help you build your credit rating back up.

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.

I will go over these points in more details over the next few weeks, not necessarily in this order:

1. Don’t ignore your debts. They truly don’t go away they just get bigger and more unmanageable.

2. 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.

3. Take control. 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.

4. Dealing with people chasing debt.

5. Debt ‘selling’ – it may looks as though different companies are chasing you for the same debt; that’s because they are!

6. If you have some money to repay a debt, always offer a reduced settlement figure – 99% of the time they will either accept it or negotiate.

7. Managing your budget.

8. Start saving!

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.

Grandparents – Could You Save The Relationship?

Posted on 26th January 2012 in divorce/ grandparents

The statistic I’ve seen most of today is that ‘1 in 5 children from a broken home lost touch with a parent forever‘.

There are many reasons for this and I don’t want to get into the whys and hows as I believe that every case, every family, every situation and every child is different and has a right to do what is best for them.

So although you may be tempted to intervene, or to question a decision, you can bet that you don’t know the half of it and that everyone involved is hurt, confused and needs to make their own decisions in their own time.

If you are a grandparent, looking in from the outside, it must be incredibly tempting to take one side or another. Even more tempting to get involved and try to patch things up.

I’m wondering if the estranged grandparents could play a huge part in saving some of these relationships.

Rather than arguing with the ex partner to defend your child, think smarter and keep your comments in check (let off steam later in the privacy of your own home if you need to!).

Use the benefits of the wisdom you’ve gained over the years to see that someone needs to be a bridge between the two parties and therefore a bridge directly to the children.

Even if you are told you can’t see the children anymore, send cards, send notes, remember birthdays and generally keep in touch. Be polite if you correspond with the mother (or father as the case may be) whatever went on between them and your son/daughter they are now raising your grandchildren. Every now and then offer support – babysitting for example if you live near enough – one day your offer may be taken up. Even if it isn’t, over time you will find that the relationship is built up rather than broken down.

I’m not suggesting that you should be disloyal to your son/daughter in the process. Let them know you are keeping in touch, let them know why. Rather then fanning the flames when they are incandescent with rage about their ex, try and calm the situation and encourage them to take a long term view on the situation rather than a short term one.

I really think that, wherever possible, a loving extended family is best for the children.

However, having grandparents who are nasty about their mum (or dad) is emotionally damaging – if you love your grandchildren surely you can bite your tongue. Is it worth ‘scoring a point’ if the consequence of it is that you hurt and confuse the children?

So my plea to all the grandparents out there: build a bridge, you never know when someone might decide to use it.




Natural Harvest Cook Book… (it’s a weeny bit rude!)

Posted on 25th January 2012 in Natural Harvest Cook Book

I spent a reasonable amount of time today crying with laughter over this book so thought I’d share it with you!


I love the little caveat at the bottom there! In case you can’t read it it says: ‘This cookbook is written for consenting diners of semen. Please do not add semen to your guest’s food without informing them beforehand. All the recipes in this book have all been tested by the author and friends of the author.

So what can you cook?

I thought they’d been reasonably grown up with the titles until I got to the desserts section…

Want to see a recipe? Yes of course you do! Just one thing to say here, yes it DOES say TABLESPOONS!

Here is the link if you feel the need to buy a copy :)

First ever Facebook card shop is launched by Dogs Trust #charitytuesday

Posted on 24th January 2012 in #charitytuesday/ Charity Greetings/ Dogs Trust

Regular readers will know that I’m more of a (mad) cat lady than a dog person, so this week for #CharityTuesday I’m handing the page over to Crage Hartzel from Charity Greetings to tell you all about an exciting new way to donate to The Dogs Trust:

UK charity Dogs Trust has launched the first greeting card shop on social networking site Facebook.

The interactive card shop sits on the Dogs Trust Facebook page and allows users of the site to send greeting cards to friends and family.

Fundraising greeting card firm, Charity Greetings pioneered the new card buying platform and is delighted to launch it with such a high profile charity.

Founder of Charity Greetings, Craig Hartzel said: “There are 800 million Facebook users worldwide, and it’s estimated that 1 in 6 web pages looked at in the UK is a Facebook page.

“It seems only right to treat Facebook as if it is a separate Internet platform. For this reason it makes sense to integrate our charity card shop technology within Facebook’s pages to help charities.

“Dogs Trust understands the power of social media and we’re excited to be helping them while pioneering this exciting greeting card Facebook revolution.”

Users of the networking site can send greeting cards for every occasion all from within Facebook.

Users also have the opportunity to send a donation to Dogs Trust at the same time as sending the card, which helps the charity to raise much needed funds.

Jacqui O’Beirne, Digital Manager of Dogs Trust said: “We’re always looking at new ways to raise awareness of the charity and our current online card shop is consistently providing a new stream of revenue for us.

“Being the first charity to launch the Facebook card shop was an easy decision for us and we can’t wait for our 230,000 fans to start using the platform.”

Supporters can visit the new Facebook card shop at

Charity Greetings aim is to empower millions of people to raise millions of pounds for charity, all without the need for a single marathon being run. Their platform makes this possible, enabling people to connect and give regularly; helping good causes… one card at a time.

Every card purchased raises money for charity, and supporters can also make a voluntary donation as a gift to their recipient when they buy a card.

In the UK alone we spend £1.47 billion on greeting cards, that’s on average 31 cards each a year. 47 cards are sold every second of every day.

Take a look for yourself and can send charity cards from

If you are a charity find out more at

Grey Hairs

Posted on 21st January 2012 in grey hair

I have grown used to pointedly ignoring the grey hairs that seem to be creeping onto my head. I know they are there. They know they are there. My hairdresser knows they are there “maybe we’ll put a few extra blonde ones in this bit” she subtly says.

I refuse to acknowledge them directly; in case the next step is having a wash and set once a fortnight, buying a sholley and a plastic rainhood ‘just in case’, getting a copy of the Damart catalogue and one of those polyester house coats that buttons up the front.

So far it’s an arrangement that is working ok for all of us.
Or so I thought.
Today, while peering into a mirror this morning to apply my make up, (a magnifying one obviously as my close up eyesight is now shot to bits following years of spending far too many hours in the day doing magazine layout) I was horrified to note that one of them had migrated.
There was a grey hair in my eyebrow.
This is war!

The Purrrfect Franchise?

Posted on 19th January 2012 in franchise/ The Cat Hotel

The Savannah Suite

I recently asked ‘What Makes A Good Franchise?‘ and it seems an answer has leapt into my lap and is now doing paddy-paws and requiring a chin stroke….

Happy Mew Year!

There’s a great new business opportunity on offer to cat lovers who want to start up their own franchise business this year.

The Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel is the brilliant idea of Abi Purser, who opened the first hotel in Welwyn Garden City in 2010.


Abi runs the hotel from her home (and garden), helped by husband Matt on the website side and their three children. It’s been such a runaway success that they have decided to branch out into launching the world’s first luxury boutique hotel group!

It looks like an ideal opportunity for people who want to run their own sustainable and profitable business from home, which fits perfectly around any type of lifestyle or family commitments – and it clearly works well for Abi and Matt and their young family.

Every aspect of this boutique cat hotel venture has been tried and tested with meticulous attention to detail. As you would expect at any 5 star hotel, everything from the wrought iron designer cat beds with soft pillows and individually decorated bedroom suites to gourmet menus served on bone china, has been designed around the feline guest’s wellbeing and their owner’s peace of mind.

The modular hotel building has been road tested from planning application to final design and provides between six to nine suites, made from the highest quality materials to make sure that the 5 star guests are warm in the winter and cool in the summer, with top notch hygiene standards.

It’s certainly a far cry from just a feeding a cleaning exercise and Abi is only looking for partners to join the Longcroft family who are prepared to run their hotel responsibly and with a proper understanding of animal welfare and wellbeing.

Abi says that running a business from home and looking after cats is her dream job, and now it looks like she is literally selling her dream to other cat lovers! Check out their website – there’s loads of information about the franchise opportunity as well as photos of some very pampered and happy looking guests. Or call Abi on 01707 832000 to find out more. You can follow them on twitter too @TheCatHotel.

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