Thursday, 13 November 2014

West Berkshire Mencap and Woolton Hill Primary School

Two weeks apart, but the photos are pretty similar, lots of books and lots of cakes!

Last week, one of the books I bought was a pre-loved (VERY pre-loved) lift-the-flap book called Elmer Plays Hide and Seek. The McBaby is going through something of an elephant obsession at the moment (as referenced in my last post - still rolling around laughing about that trip to the charity shop), and asked me if I'd buy him the book. It was 10p.

Since then, he has taken it to bed with him, taken it in the bath, in the car and at the dinner table. He has memorised it and though he can't read, flips the page at the right time and gets all of the words right. At the end, he improvises; instead of "No Elmer, it's me, Monkey", he says: "No Elmer, it's me, McBaby". It has quite literally brought a tear to my eye. I even went to Waterstone's to see if I could get him a newer version with all of the flaps remaining. It's OUT OF PRINT!

That means that this book will stay with him forever. It's the best 10p I've ever spent. Thanks Mencap!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Will Aid

November is Will Aid month, where you can get your Will drawn up by a local solicitor in return for a voluntary donation to charity - I did this a few years ago. Probably time to take advantage of this offer and update it though!

During Will Aid month participating solicitors won't charge you for writing a basic Will. Instead, they will invite you to make a donation to Will Aid's nine charities. The suggested voluntary donations are £95 for a single Will, or £150 for a pair of 'mirror' Wills.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Swish, swish, swish!

If there's one thing that makes my heart sing out more loudly than a jumble sale, it's a clothes swapping event! All of the joy of getting something new to wear, without having to queue for hours listening to people drone on about X Factor, and being elbowed in the ribs!

After seeing this poster about a clothes swap event in my town in aid of the British Heart Foundation, my mind started ticking through the clothes I have. If you see me in real life, you'll know that I don't own many outfits!

I finally chose a colourful raincoat that I bought but never wore and a French Connection skirt that is a size 10 and was last worn by me at university. I know my mum spent a fortune on it, so I never had the heart to get rid of it. Nor the motivation to lose weight, it seems.

I took the McBaby, who enjoyed hiding in the clothes racks and trying to steal cake from pretty ladies, while I set to work having paid £1 per swap ticket. Eventually, I found two pretty dresses, both quite similar while the McBaby popped balloons everywhere he went.

I (s)wish there were more of these events, but here's a handy website

Sunday, 28 September 2014

ARK Cancer charity

Destination Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle in real life) this afternoon to watch the Classic Car Rally in aid of ARK Cancer Charity! Lots of beautiful classic cars and one not-so-classic car (ours) travelled from the cancer centre in Basingstoke through Hampshire up to Highclere to raise money for the Ark Centre, which provides support to cancer sufferers and their families at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital.

Even the lovely hosts Lord and Lady Carnarvon pitched up in their Rolls Royce Phantom III!

Cats Protection, Fairclose Day Centre and West Berkshire Mencap

It's been a while thanks to work, work, work, but this weekend, I managed to fit in three overdue jumble sales in two days. Gosh how I've missed being elbowed in the ribs, people stamping on your feet to get in front of you and most importantly, the joy of snagging a bargain!

First up was the Fairclose Day Centre autumn fair to raise money for the older people's day centre and lunches. I didn't buy any of the lovely cakes, preserves or bric-a-brac because on my way in, I saw someone I hadn't seen for ages - a 92-year-old chap who is a delight to talk to and loves to spend time with the McBaby. A while ago at a business networking event I went to, I mentioned that I was passionate about supporting a couple of older people's charities and that I felt that old people got a raw deal in this country. I said I wanted to create a movement where people are nicer to old people; for example, instead of tutting at them when they're chatting to the cashier at the post office (yes, this really happens), perhaps realise that this is their only human interaction of the day and giving them a bit of space.

The person I mentioned this to told me that my idea of being nice to old people was "the most patronising thing I've ever heard". However, speaking to this lovely old man at coffee mornings is a delight and a remarkable link with the past. He told me that his older brother did this week and unbelievably that during the war, his brother and his commanding officer were the first from the Allied Forces to stumble upon Belsen. His description of his brother's first impressions of what he found and the subsequent days were extremely touching. We've learned about concentration camps from our history books but imagine stumbling upon that - the smell, the sight of 4,000 decomposing bodies.

John himself was a prisoner of war in Poland and worked digging coal in the mines. I said I was sorry that his brother had died. He said it was a the circle of life. "I also had a great grandson that week. We all die and make space for new people. I'll die myself soon - it's just the way of the world. I'll be reunited with my wife," he continued. "Mind you, knowing my luck, she'll have taken up with a new boyfriend by the time I get there....."

More cheerfully, I then went to the Cats Protection jumble and bought the hamper, the coat and the dress. Yay!

Then Sunday, a much-needed clear out and a boot sale in the gorgeous sunshine at West Berkshire Mencap. As well as selling lots of things, I also bumped into a couple of friends and made enough money to take MrM out for lunch!

Monday, 15 September 2014


Just received this press release about Stoptober and the timing could not be more poignant. MrM is at his uncle’s funeral today – his uncle died last week at the ridiculously early age of 61 from lung cancer. I don’t smoke but to support this brilliant campaign, I’m going to stop drinking for the month of October. That’s drinking booze obviously, not liquids in general.

If you do smoke, but wish you didn't, then sign up here!

Monday, 1 September 2014


Everybody’s talking about the ice bucket challenge, and it’s created a bit of a stir in the McHousehold, which is fortunate as I’ve completely neglected this blog of late!
That’s not to say that I haven’t been donating, but my latest charitable contributions of late have consisted of bags and bags and bags of clothes, books and an unbelievable amount of bedding which has all been donated to a variety of charity shops and even those scary bins that you find in supermarket car parks.

But I digress.

Back to the ice bucket challenge for ALS, (Or MND or even Macmillan as they cheekily seem to have piggy backed onto the cause). The reason for the hooha in the McHousehold is that MrM was nominated over the weekend and was paralyzed with indecision about what to do.

Anyone who has done it and donated is to be congratulated for helping raise awareness and funds for the cause. Apparently, more than 1.2 million #IceBucketChallenge videos have appeared online (and I think I’ve watched most of them!) But personally, I just don’t fancy it. I think it’s run its course and that watching yet another person tip water over their heads is starting to get a teensy bit old.
I also have a problem with the sheer wastefulness of tipping water over your head when there are people in the world with none. I’m not just talking about Africa, but also California.

MrM and I spent hours debating this over the weekend and he decided that he would just donate. Having said that, check this video for its combination of individuality and yet more wasted resources!