Monthly Archives

June 2012

Abused Dog Gives Comfort To Other Animals

Posted on 30th June 2012 in animal rescue/ animals

In 2003, police in Warwickshire , England , opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog.  The dog had been locked in the shed and abandoned.  It was dirty and malnourished, and had quite clearly been abused.

In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a female greyhound, to the Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, which is known as a haven for animals abandoned, orphaned, or otherwise in need.

Geoff and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved. They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.

Jasmine, however, had other ideas.  No one quite remembers how it came about, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary.  It would not matter if it were a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or, any other lost or hurting animal.  Jasmine would just peer into the box or cage and, when and where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.

Geoff relates one of the early incidents.  “We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre, and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them.”

“But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits.  She takes all the stress out of them, and it helps them to not only feel close to her, but to settle into their new surroundings.  She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs, and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose.”

Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary’s resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born.  The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, fifteen chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and fifteen rabbits – and one roe deer fawn.  Tiny Bramble, eleven weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field.  Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster-mum role.  Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection, and makes sure nothing is matted.

“They are inseparable,” says Geoff. “Bramble walks between her legs, and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It’s a real treat to see them.”

Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life.  When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely.  She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.

Pictured from the left are: “Toby”, a stray Lakeland dog; “Bramble”, orphaned roe deer; “Buster”, a stray Jack Russell; a dumped rabbit; “Sky”, an injured barn owl; and “Jasmine”, with a mother’s heart doing best what a caring mother would do….and such is the order of God’s Creation.

And, just in case you wondered, Snopes.com has verified the truth of this wonderful story and the reality of these photographs which accompany the story – so you can pass this story on, and help make someone else’s day to be just a little brighter!

Or for a giggle at some funny cats click here.

The Price Of Redemption #BookReview

Posted on 29th June 2012 in #bookreview

The Price Of Redemption

by Gavin R Dobson

I wasn’t especially looking forward to this book but I am so glad that I’ve read it as it was really gripping!

It seems to have been pitched very much towards the thrusting stock broker world because the main characters in the book work for Capital Management firm in London and yes the book is littered with financial facts and figures but only because they are relevant to the story.

I thought I would find the financial side of things overpowering but that wasn’t the case, I really enjoyed a little insight into the trading world. The book is founded upon a great storyline, it has strong characters; some you love, some you hate and some you are suspicious of!

I read the book very quickly because I had a hunch about how it was going to turn out and I had to see if I was right……I wasn’t!

 

Family Fun Day: Sport

Posted on 27th June 2012 in #charitytuesday

A sport themed family fun day at Royal Institution in London – Sat 7th July 2012

The day will help kids explore the science behind sport, and get a better understanding of what it takes to be a top athlete or sportsperson. The following are just a couple of examples of the activities that families who come along could get involved in on the day:

 

  • GETTING A LUNG FULL – The surface area of your lungs is absolutely massive – in fact, it’s even bigger than your skin and if it was spread out would cover 80 square meters: half the size of a tennis court. But have you ever considered what they actually look like? Get up close and personal with a real lung, and see what happens as it gets filled with air. Seeing that spongy bag inflate to several times its size is a breath-taking experience: you’ll have a hard time believing that’s what goes on inside you with every breath!

 

  • HOW TO TRACK YOUR TRAINING – In this hands-on demonstration, kids will get the chance to try out cutting edge sensors which are used to track athletes in action and monitor their performance. One sensor, which is worn behind the ear, will turn your head into a hands-free joystick to control a computer game.

 

  • KIDS VS GROWN-UPS ULTIMATE FITNESS CHALLENGE – Find out once and for all who the real couch potato is. In this activity, it’s kids versus grownups as we test all manner of body parts to see who which generation is first off the blocks and who will be last over the finish line.

 

 The Royal Institution Family Fun Day: Sport

 Date: Saturday 7 July, 11am-4pm

 Where: The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4BS (Nearest tube Green Park)

 What: Get your kids thinking about what it takes to be a champion athlete from a scientific perspective. Explore everything from the physics behind the perfect free kick to what happens to your body during exercise.

 

Classic American Family Getaways

Posted on 26th June 2012 in #guestpost/ Travel

This is a guest post with all words and images supplied by Alexandra Jacobs.

The United States boasts many cities that offer excitement, fun and a lifetime of memories for families. In fact, there are so many fabulous U.S. destinations, deciding on one can be difficult. Check out the details of these all-time American favorites to help you chose:

Orlando, Florida

For families with young children who watch Cinderella with stars in their eyes or who dream of swimming with dolphins, Orlando, Florida is legendary. Home to Disneyworld, Sea World, Discovery Cove and Universal Studios, parents can count on a vacation without once hearing the words “I’m bored”.

Perfect accommodations for families can be found at Floridays Resort Orlando, which has earned top honors with tripadvisor.com travelers. Families love it for its clean, well decorated two and three bedrooms suites, equipped with full kitchens. The resort features a fantastic pool area with children’s playscape, a restaurant and small market for grocery and toiletry needs. A stay at Floridays averages around $170 per night for a two bedroom suite.

After working up an appetite at Orlando’s theme parks, check out Yellow Dog Eats at 1236 Hempel Ave. This café has something for everyone. Kids will love the fun décor of the historic building and the cheeky names of menu items. Parents will be pleased with the gourmet sandwiches (think orange-Cointreau mayo and smoked gouda) and extensive wine list. Yellow Dog is also a wine shop, so take a bottle back to the resort for after the little ones are asleep.

The multitude of theme parks that have put Orlando on the map has encouraged other notable attractions to make the city home. Gatorland, which features over 3,000 alligators and crocodiles as well as many species of birds and snakes is sure to thrill any young adventurer. For mini-golf enthusiasts, Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf is a sure bet; it’s surprisingly well done and slightly scary pirate theme will delight the whole family.

New York, New York

The Big Apple has long been a favorite of jet-setters, celebrities and artists but it’s a great destination for families too. New York City gives parents an opportunity to enjoy their children while giving them a valuable, hands-on learning experience. No city in the Unites States offers more cultural diversity and historical richness.

Stay at Grace, a swanky family-friendly property by Room Mate. Kids will love the pool with DJ and bunk-style beds in some rooms. Parents will appreciate the sophisticated décor, internet access and room service. Grace is a cut above the rest with at a moderate price point (average nightly rate of $250). This New York City rental won’t disappoint.

After settling in to the ultra modern at Grace, go back in time for a bite to eat at Lexington Candy Shop at Lexington and 83rd. The whole family will enjoy this old fashioned diner’s handmade milkshakes, grilled cheese, burgers and jerk-poured specialty sodas.

No visit to New York would be complete without a visit to Liberty Island and Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty and learn about the history American immigration. Also be sure to make time for a walk through central park. Kids will be thrilled at the chance to strap on ice-skates at Wollman or Lasker rinks if visiting during the winter. During more temperate months, head to the Central Park Zoo instead.

San Antonio, Texas

photo by flickr user stuseeger

A jewel of Texas, San Antonio exemplifies Tejano culture – an eclectic blend of Mexican and cowboy lifestyles. A vibrant city that pulses with color and life, San Antonio is certain to bring families back again and again.

Without a doubt, a lodging must in San Antonio is the Westin La Cantera Resort. Around 15 minutes to the city center, La Cantera is close enough to allow visitors to explore the city’s downtown and Riverwalk areas while still taking in the quiet and beauty of the Texas hill country. Westin has a record of excellence and La Cantera is no exception. The resort offers children’s activities daily throughout the summer, a kid’s club, a fabulous pool area with poolside bar and café service, nightly outdoor movies and s’mores at dusk. Average cost is $250 per night.

Go to San Antonio hungry – from street vendors to the hottest gourmet cuisine, this is a city of feasting. One restaurant not to miss is the iconic Mi Tierra at 218 Produce Row. Mi Tierra has been around since 1941 and offers standard Tex-Mex fare in an anything but standard environment. The funky décor and Mariachi singers will be a hit with the kids and parents will love the opportunity to pick up gifts, candy and pastries from the restaurant’s shop.

While in San Antonio, visit the Riverwalk – a destination on its own. The miles-long walkway along the river offers some of the city’s best shopping, dining and nightlife. History buffs won’t want to miss the Alamo and other missions along the San Antonio mission trail. Kids will swoon for the wax museum and Ripley’s Believe it or Not next to Alamo square.

Washington D.C.

photo by flickr user Rob Shenk

Perhaps the best destination in the country for families with older, school aged children, Washington D.C. offers endless opportunity for kids to learn about not only their country, but their world.

A top choice for lodging in Washington D.C. is Hotel George (as in Washington) from the Kimpton portfolio. The George goes a long way to make children comfortable, even including them in the rating process with their own comments cards. Even better than the animal print bath robes, trendy décor and milk with cookies is the hotel’s fabulous location. The George is walking distance from Union Station (consider going by train to add another level of excitement to the trip), the national monuments and museums. Average nightly cost for a room at Hotel George is $200.

While sightseeing on Capitol Hill, be sure to drop by Good Stuff Eatery at 303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. An inexpensive, classic burger and shake joint, Good Stuff has a few surprises such as thyme French fries. This sure bet will leave everyone satisfied without too much wear on the wallet.

The best part, by far, of Washington D.C. is the opportunity to visit any and all of the local Smithsonian museums for free. That’s right – all museums in the Smithsonian collection are free every day. Sixteen of these in all, including the National Zoo, make Washington D.C. one of the most budget friendly destinations around for families. Also free is access to the National Mall where visitors can view several historic monuments.

Alexandra is a travel enthusiast who loves to write about tourism, beaches, food, and the wonderful things in the world.  She provides her own insights on vacationing to the blogosphere.  If you would like to learn more about her, follow her @alexsjourneys or visit her blog alexsjourneys.wordpress.com.

#WIN The Chronicles of Narnia

Posted on 22nd June 2012 in #WIN/ books

I have been offered a giftset of The Chronicles of Narnia (rrp £90.93), containing seven hard backed books in a cloth backed slipcase, to give away!

As well as being wonderful to read, the books would make a fabulous gift and be an attractive asset to any book shelf.

To enter, please tweet “I’ve entered to win The Chronicles of Narnia gift set on @CoffeeCurls blog” and comment below to let me know that you’ve done so.

For an additional entry, you could sign up to The Works newsletter by emailing your details, along with the above phrase, to competitions@theworks.co.uk

The winner will be chosen, at random, by my cat Maisy… yes really, I will write the name of each entrant on a piece of paper, screw it up into a ball and then throw all the balls to Maisy – the one she bats back to me will win! I am sure that the lovely and oh so fair @SparkandFuse will let me know if this is an allowable system or  not and if it isn’t then I will be guided by them as to the correct way to randomly select my winner!

Closing date: 8pm on Friday 29th of June 2012. UK entries only, sorry.

Best of luck.

That’s all folks!

The Book With No Name #BookReview

Posted on 22nd June 2012 in #bookreview

It may sound daft but I actually put off reading this book for a while.

Why?

Well, The Book With No Name tells you that everyone who reads it will die.

Hmmm.

It even says in nice big letters on the back:

But, taking my life in my hands, read it I did. And I loved it. It is very much not my usual subject matter and knowing that it started life as a self published novel by an anonymous author I have to confess I started it with the full belief that I’d soon be bored and probably end up not finishing it.

I was very wrong.

This book is great! I love the ‘sod the norm’ layout and print style, I love the fact it is anonymous, and I love (big pink puffy heart love) The Bourbon Kid!

It’s a fun read but a good read; well written, well constructed and very entertaining.

The blurb on the back page describes it as ‘Tarantino meets The Da Vinci Code’, I agree with the Tarantino bit, not so sure about Da Vinci!

I’m not going to give you any of the story, just take my word for it that this is a book you should read!

The Siren #BookReview

Posted on 21st June 2012 in #bookreview/ alison bruce

The Siren

by Alison Bruce

I searched high and low for this book after being completely blown away by Cambridge Blue. I wanted to read more about Gary Goodhew, as with all great characters, I missed him!

In The Siren I found a Gary Goodhew who seemed a bit more comfortable in his own skin and in his role within the police force. He seemed to have gained more trust and respect from his senior officer and at least some of the team. The ever unlikable Kincaide is also back with his snide comments general air of slime bucket; personally I think I would’ve liked to have seen Kincaide become even more vile in this book and play up the part of the villain thus creating more of an element of risk.

The storyline, as I have come to expect from Alison Bruce, is innovative, it’s different, it doesn’t follow your standard crime by numbers style of book writing and I enjoy her books all the more for that spark of diversity which sets her apart from other writers.

I had to laugh when I read a review of Cambridge Blue on Amazon, it said something like “My biggest problem with the book, though, was that I found the character of the main protagonist, DC Gary Goodhew, increasingly implausible. I suspect that Ms Bruce is more than half in love with her creation – she makes him attractive but unaware of it, fabulously empathetic and non-sexist, far more intelligent and intuitive than any of his colleagues, and so bursting with integrity and the desire to do good that it’s a wonder it doesn’t give him a nose bleed….The author’s infatuation with her creation means that he is allowed to get away with frankly ridiculous behaviour.”

HA! I bet you that review was written by a man! 

Goodhew is all of the things that he has said but they are also all the things that make him so likeable, so engaging and so readable! It is caring about Goodhew that makes the books work so well in my opinion. I sort of want him to have a love interest (and I can smell one coming in the next book!) but I sort of don’t too.

One teeny negative for this book, if I may, not enough of his grandma. I loved her character in Cambridge Blue and she only makes a fleeting visit or two to the pages of The Siren.

Being a resident of Cambridgeshire I just love being able to picture places that are mentioned, I’ve walked across Parker’s Piece for example and shopped in the Grafton Centre. And, having just googled it like a complete saddo, I now know that The Cambridge Blue is a real bar!

Learn more about Alison Bruce in this interview.

A Blogging Dilemma. Integrity vs Morality.

Posted on 19th June 2012 in Blog/ review

I have a dilemma.

We went on holiday recently and prior to going I discussed with the owner that I would be reviewing it afterwards if she didn’t mind. I told her that I only ever do honest reviews.

In a nut shell, the holiday had 4 ‘features’ listed on the site we booked through. They were: an outdoor heated pool; free wi-fi; a launderette and a tennis court. My children had wanted to go on a centre parcs type holiday but we had to go to a particular part of the country as a friend was getting married there. So the compromise we made with the children was that we would make sure that wherever we booked had a pool…

However, although there was a pool it was empty! We queried this as soon as we arrived and were told it would be ready 2 days later. We were offered vouchers for a nearby pool in lieu. The vouchers never materialised. There was no sign of a launderette. 2 days later we asked again about the pool and got fobbed off again, this time with “it’s only a pool!” muttered in exasperated tones. We also asked about the wi-fi as with no pool the boys were wanting to access their online games – this resulted in the owner saying “you obviously aren’t happy, why don’t you just leave and I’ll give you a full refund”.

We were stunned, it had been an 8 hour drive down and we had a full week worth of shopping in the fridge. Going home 5 nights early had really not been on the agenda!

After discussing it for a few minutes with OH, the owner appeared again and said again that we obviously weren’t going to be happy during the holiday so if we  wanted to leave she would refund 4 nights of the holiday…. huh what happened to the full refund?

We decided at that point that there wasn’t much point in staying if the children couldn’t go swimming or access their games and we both agreed we would feel really quite unwelcome now that the owner had suggested we leave!

We asked her to put in writing that the pool was not finished and that she had offered to refund us, she seemed suddenly reluctant at this point and said she was too busy and would have to do it in the morning. She said she would issue the refund first thing and email us to confirm. We stood our ground and insisted upon a hand written note confirming what she’d said.

Then, we packed the car with two very unhappy boys and drove through the night arriving home at about 2am.

I have not heard a single thing from the owner since we left. Fortunately I booked the holiday through a holiday company so I was able to complain through them. They have written to me today and said that they cannot get any response from the owner and are therefore having to ‘take matters into their own hands’ and they have promised me a full refund within 14 days. They’ve also said that they will have to contact everyone else booked to go to this site and raise the possibility of the facilities not being available.

So, the dilemma. Do I still do the review when it will clearly be quite damaging to her business?

From an integrity point of view: I said I’d be doing an honest review and she knew that so I should go ahead and do it.

From a morality point of view: I think they had just opened too early. It was a new site with only about 10 cottages on it and I just don’t think they’d got it finished in time. Maybe money was an issue, maybe just timing I don’t know. The cottages were beautifully refurbished, the site just didn’t have the facilities that were listed on the holiday website. I don’t think I’m comfortable with making all this public if it could damage her business. I know that sounds bonkers considering how we were treated but I can’t help thinking that she must be having a pretty miserable time already.

What do you think?

 

15 Seconds #BookReview

Posted on 19th June 2012 in #bookreview

15 Seconds

by Andrew Gross

I have read and loved several books by Andrew Gross, dating all the way back to his James Patterson collaborations, and can so far I’ve enjoyed them all!

15 Seconds is based on the age old premiss of how quickly your life can change; and often for the worse.

It is a fast paced story with Dr Henry Steadman as the poor sod stuck in the middle of it! I thought his character was great, I alway fall for the ‘just too good to be true, handsome, charming and rich’ types in books and Dr Steadman was no exception.

Excellent characterisation is really what makes books work for me and this book has it in spades. You can’t help feeling for Carrie, her first day back to work after a personal tragedy and she ends up with a difficult decision – does she go out on a limb to help someone she’s never met or does she take the easy route and go along with her colleagues. Fortunately for Dr Steadman she is a ballsy girl! As for Hofer, urgh he made my skin crawl!

The lovely Andrew Gross is on twitter and as I said to him the other day, “I am loving this book but hating it at the same time”, I hope he understood what I meant… I loved it because it was fast and exciting with believable characters but I hated it because it had that ‘watching a car crash’ thing about it, where you know the situation is going to get a whole heap worse but there is nothing you can do to stop it!

I loved it.

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