Monthly Archives

February 2012

Poisonous Jequirity Bean Bracelet Warning – Please RT

Posted on 24th February 2012 in Eden Project/ Jequirity Bean

Health & Safety alert – Jequirity Bean Bracelet 

An urgent alert has been received regarding the sale of bracelets made from the Jequirity Bean, see picture above.

These red and black bracelets are made from the deadly seed of the plant abrus precatorious. It contains the toxin abrin, which, if swallowed, has the potential to kill in doses of just 3 micrograms. The bracelets have been sold by various retail outlets across the UK, including the Eden Project in Cornwall. The retailers concerned have issued information urging customers to return the bracelets to them.

If anyone is in possession of one these bracelets they should: double bag them, seal the bag and hand it in to their local police station for safe disposal.

Further information from The Eden Project here:

At What Age Would You Leave Your Children ‘Home Alone’

Posted on 22nd February 2012 in child care/ home alone

My children are aged 10 & 12, I have no intention of leaving them home alone.

Even though my oldest does bear a passing resemblance to a certain Mr Culkin.

I’ve just moved to a new town and started a new job – suddenly the school holidays are looming like a great yawning abyss in my calendar.

I’ve found a holiday club that I can use for this year – at a cost of £22.50 per day, per child – but it only goes up to age 12 so from December I’m stuffed!

What do you do with your children during the school holidays?

Do you leave them home alone? If so from what age did you do it?

I’d like to reiterate that I’m not considering leaving my two for several years yet. Not only do I not think it is appropriate, I know that they’d be very worried about being left on their own all day.

All/any suggestions gratefully received!

London Super Comic Convention

Posted on 19th February 2012 in comics/ london super comic convention/ stan lee

Next weekend – 25th & 26th February 2012 – sees the first ever London Super Comic Convention arrive at the Excel Centre!

Stan Lee, legendary comic book creator best known as the man who created the Marvel Universe, will be the headline guest at The London Super Comic Convention 2012 – his first Official Comic Convention in the UK for nearly 40 years.

Organisers of The London Super Comic Convention 2012 are going all out to make the inaugural event unique and special for all attendees, by giving them a unique opportunity to interact with Stan, who recently celebrated his 89th birthday and created many of the most enduring comic book characters and pop culture icons of the last 50 years

Attendees can look forward to the opportunity of having their comics signed, their photo’s taken and watch Stan “The Man” in action on guest panels. More information is available by clicking the Stan Lee tab at the top of the screen.

There will be no ticket sales on the door, book your tickets now to avoid disappointment!


LSCC aim to bring the US comic convention experience to London.

They will undertake to provide opportunities to: meet the widest range of U.S. creators possible; meet the widest range of U.K. creators possible; have your comics signed for FREE by both American and UK creators, with the exception of Stan Lee, whose pricing has just been announced; purchase a broad range of comics (Golden Age to Modern) from as broad a range of dealers (UK and US); see and participate in panels that are relevant to the present and history of comics

LSCC ask you to: have fun; design and wear costumes of your favourite characters if you wish to; talk to them, they have a Facebook page and a Twitter account and will ask you to give them your thoughts about (i) what you want to see and (ii) feedback during and after the convention.

Saturday, Feb 25th, 2012 (10:00 – 18:00)

 Sunday, Feb 26th, 2012 (10:00 – 17:00)

ExCeL London One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, London E16 1XL


1-Day Pass: £15

2-Day Pass: £25

Kids 11 & under are free if accompanied by a paid attendee.

With a packed schedule, signings and a vast list of exhibitors this is one show you do not want to miss!

Remember, there will be no ticket sales on the door, book your tickets now to avoid disappointment!

Poor Christmas Tree

Posted on 15th February 2012 in christmas tree/ complaint/ garden centre

A letter to my local garden centre, sent today:

I bought a rooted christmas tree from your Brampton centre in December, which I planted in ericaceous soil as recommended, sadly however it very quickly died.

It has been suggested to me that the tree could never have successfully lived as it’s ‘tap’ root (?) had been cut. Looking at it’s roots it has a thick root which has quite obviously been severed and then a few spindly ones.

I bought this tree with the intention of keeping it in a large pot and using it each christmas – I discussed this with the sales lady. It is extremely disappointing to have gone to the trouble and expense when it would appear the tree had no chance of survival anyway.

I look forward to hearing from you.

* * *

18.2.2012 UPDATE:

I got a lovely reply from the garden centre (Frosts) who has now replaced the tree and give us lots of advice on planting and growing it so that it should survive for years to come :)

Take Control Of Your Finances: Step 2 #MoneyMonday

Posted on 13th February 2012 in #MoneyMonday/ budget planner/ debts

Hopefully you’ll be reading this post after reading the introductory post and then Step 1

So, you should be sitting down to this having completed a budget analysis form and now know whether you have sufficient income coming in to cover your outgoings, or whether you have a shortfall.

If you have sufficient income coming in – YAY – you just need to budget better. An easy way to achieve this is to live on just cash for a few months until you are back into the habit of monitoring your spending.

Make sure you have one main bank account that all of your income goes into and all of your bills come out of.

Once all of your income has been paid in, check the total amount due to be taken out (for bills, rent/mortgage etc – but not including money for food, petrol, clubs etc), add at least £50 to that figure (for contingency planning) and then withdraw the surplus. So if your income is £2000 and all your bills come to £1100 – you can withdraw £850.

Then split that £850 into 4 envelopes and seal them! Write week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4 on them and have one per week to spend. After a few months of doing this you should be back in the habit of living within a budget.

The £50 contingency is there to provide a buffer for any unexpected increases in your regular bills.

If you are left with a shortfall – ie your outgoings are greater than the money you have coming in – then we need to look at whether we can increase your income or decrease your outgoings.

Let’s start with income: Silly question but does anyone owe you money? Be it a friend, relation, employer, benefits agency, ex-partner/CSA – if someone owes you money and you can’t pay your bills then you need to be following it up.

If you have an ex-partner who should be paying maintenance, get onto the CSA. If your case is already with the CSA but no payments are coming through yet – chase it up! I know first hand how soul destroying it is to phone the CSA but it’s the only way to get things moved along. They are dealing with millions of cases; if your ex is being evasive then your case will get overlooked if YOU aren’t on top of it. It’s not right, but it’s the way it is. Did you know that you can email the CSA for chase ups? I found this quite useful on days when I simply couldn’t face phoning them! The link to the email page is here.

Make sure you are claiming all the benefits to which you are entitled. You can do this via this website or by calling your local benefits office. Even if you are employed, you may find that there are benefits out there that you aren’t aware of.

If you are employed, can you do an extra hours at work? Or is there anything that you could do at home to generate more income? The slogan ‘every little helps’ is so true in this situation, you may find that bring in an extra few pounds here and there makes all the difference. Could you rent out a room? Did you know that you can rent out a room (up a value of £4,250) tax free! In a lot of towns you can take in forgein language students for a few weeks at a time – this would enable you to get a quick burst of extra income without any long term commitment.

One last thing to consider is whether or not a family member might help you out?

Onto reducing your outgoings: Assuming you’ve managed to do some of the above, you may now find that you don’t have as vast a shortfall as you started with. If there is a massive shortfall, you need to decide whether this is a temporary problem or one that is simply not going to go away without intervention. If it’s temporary – ie you’ve got a lump sum due to you or your wages were less than usual this month, then simple budgeting should see you through. You could also phone your council tax department and see if they will let you skip this months payment (and add it onto the outstanding balance) as a way of temporarily easing the situation.

If it’s a much bigger problem, I would urge you to consider contacting the CCCS or your local citizens advice bureau – both of these will offer you free, impartial, non-judgmental advice.

If you decide to go it alone, you can consider whether you want to:

* freeze all your (unsecured) debts and offer a nominal payment amount

* offer reduced settlement figures

* go bankrupt

There may well be more options available than these, a quick phone call to the CCCS should help you to establish all of the available options before you proceed.

Whichever option you go for, you need to contact ALL of your creditors and advise them that you are currently experiencing financial difficulties. Most of them have a separate department for this who may even be able to offer you different terms – generally speaking they will want to discuss your current income and outgoings so it will be useful to have your budget planner to hand when you call them.

If you can’t pay your unsecured debts then make sure you deal with all of them equally, to give yourself breathing space before rushing into a decision like bankruptcy, ask all of them to freeze your account, freeze the interest and offer to make them interim token payments of £1 a month. This demonstrates to them that you are not running away from your responsibility to the debt, it shows that you are aware and in control. If they don’t accept it over the phone – put the suggestion in writing.

If you have decided that you want to file for bankruptcy rather than follow a debt management programme, I would again urge you to make a quick call to either the CCCS or the CAB, just get their impartial opinion. Don’t think that they will judge you or push you into doing something that you don’t want to, because they won’t. In fact when I rang both of them at a time when I was experiencing financial problems, they both recommended bankruptcy!

This post, like all my #MoneyMonday posts, is based upon my personal experience and opinion. Please seek as much advice and assistance as you can from other reliable sources before making any rash decisions. Any questions, feel free to ask.

Support Your Local Library – Book Sale

Posted on 12th February 2012 in Library/ reading challenge

Somewhat fortuitously we wandered into our local library yesterday to join and they were having a book sale.

We got 7 adult books, 1 reference book (for photoshop), 1 massive David Attenborough wildlife book, 3 childrens’ books and 2 maps – for the grand total of £8.80!

What an absolute bargain, big smiles all round. They had loads of different books for sale, popular authors and genres as well as CDs, audio books (including Harry Potter) and lots of reference books.

If you aren’t a member of your local library please head down there and sign up, it only takes a few minutes and you will then be able to use your card in any library in your County. It gives you one free hour of internet usage per day (you may need to book it if yours is a particularly busy library), you can order and reserve books online, you can hire CDs and DVDs and much more.

Half-term is a great time to introduce your children to the library. Most libraries offer activities for children during the school holidays, getting them into the reading habit now will mean that they’ll be all geared up for the big reading challenge in the summer holidays.

Your library also offers toddler activities did you know that? Including a special group just for dads!

They are a wonderful resource, yet if we don’t use our libraries we will lose them.

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