Monday, 28 May 2012

Cancer Research UK

Thanks MrM for dropping off a bag of good stuff to the Cancer Research UK shop in town. He offered to carry the bag as he is aware of how poor my pushchair driving is when I only have one hand (or, indeed, two).

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Victoria Park Nursery

There's a lot about my Thursday morning that is becoming a bit samey - cake, coffee, tombola tickets and buying children's books! Today was no different apart from two things. One is that I was about to buy a high chair for the McBaby but he screamed when I put him in it and I don't think I could have carried it home anyway.

The other is that we were given an incredible welcome by our 90-year old friend who shares his name with the McBaby. Today, we learned a bit more about his amazing action-packed life - he was a special constable; he was an electrical engineer and he was an extremely good shot. On top of this, he laughed at my purchase of a cookery book and reeled off some very inventive recipes which embarrassed me no end when I said that I often only cooked for me and it wasn't really worth making an effort (to add insult to injury, I was cramming a bit of Victoria (Park) Sponge in my mouth at the time).

www.westberks.org/GroupHomepage.asp?GroupID=52

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Sad face :( (or what I saw outside the British Heart Foundation Shop last night)

This poor little chap was waiting to be collected by the dustmen...not sure why it made me so sad but think it's because he was obviously loved very much at one point....


Monday, 21 May 2012

Oxfam, Robert Sandilands School and Save the Children

Good morning!

Especially to Tinuke - I still haven't had the chance to put my new dress on and ask MrM to snap the resulting mess! Thanks for the lovely comment though!

And also to Dannie! Waves! Worry for moaning about the tip and thanks for reminding me that it does indeed get sorted. It really does annoy me though when people throw away perfectly good items. Not only is there a huge environmental impact, but on a more selfish note, landfill tax has doubled in the last few years, meaning that this gets passed on in higher council tax bills!




In the last few days, my charity "doings" have included:

1. Oxfam! I went back into my local shop which has been the subject of many moans on this blog. I had a bagful of bras to donate as they are "supporting" women around the world with a special collection.

https://www.oxfam.org.uk/donate/shops/bra-hunt.html?pscid=ps_ggl_GR_OXInternal_Event_Bra2&gclid=CMGtstWSkbACFYt-fAodn2Ojqg

2. Robert Sandilands School


I must learn to speak more loudly (and perhaps learn not to look foreign) as I had tremendous trouble buying a cake and then purchasing some raffle tickets at their Thursday morning fundraiser.

"HOw much are the tickets?"
"A pound a strip. WOuld you like blue or orange?"
"Oooh, can't decide. Two of each please"
"That's £6"
"Isn't it £4?"
"No, it's £6"
"How can it be £6?"
ADopts tone of a lady speaking to an old person who has just wet herself. "Each strip is £1. So two of each is £6"
Baffled.

Then another lady leans in, also adopting highly patient tone that you use to explain simple things to an idiot.

"SO it's £2 for the blue, £2 for the orange and £2 for the pink" - lifts up hitherto unseen pink book of raffle tickets.

I hand over £6 and run away. I then hear one say to the other, "throw those in the bin". I must have looked shocked as not only does she say, "oh not yours", but I win two prizes which do little for my self-esteem!

3. Save the Children

I take in two more bags. And then buy two more books!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Newbury and District Cancer Care and BHF



Everything must go!

MrM and I had a massive clearout and sold lots of our stuff at the enormous weekly boot sale at Newbury Racecourse on Sunday morning. The start time is advertised as 9.15am, however, we arrived then in the middle of a wave of traffic and only just secured a pitch.

Cleverly, MrM helped me unload the car and set up before disappearing so that I couldn't browse the other stalls or buy anything. Before he left, he offered some helpful selling hints (ie he told me to lay out the stuff more tidily).

The McBaby proved to be a bit of a draw and on several occasions I was offered 50p for him. I found this funny until the last time when someone made the joke as I noticed that my distraction provided an opportunity for a guy to steal one shoe out of a pair I was selling. WHY???

So anyway, all the left over stuff has gone to the clothes bank in the supermarket car park in aid of Newbury and District Cancer Care Trust and also to the British Heart Foundation shop.




I wonder if the person who dumped this at the tip had failed to sell it at the boot sale? I also wonder if they knew that you could donate such things as brand new games (see the GUess WHo? game there) and books (I tried to fish the Just William one out but was told off by a worker at the recycling centre) to the charity shop.




Salvation Army

Last week's charity thing was buying a fabulous black dress with white polka dots from the Sally Ann shop in town. The dress is vintage. And by 'vintage', I do actually mean proper vintage, as the term now seems to mean second hand. It looks like it's from the 50s or 60s and I can't wait to find somewhere where I can actually wear it!

I have been toying with posting a photo of my new dress as modelled by me but have decided against it after seeing just how a proper lady models her charity shop finds - see this fab blog here: http://vintagevixon.blogspot.co.uk

Thursday, 10 May 2012

RSPCA

The Thursday morning jumble sale has become something of a staple of my week and I may be becoming obsessed as I even took my son - still sleeping - to this morning's which was in aid of the RSPCA.

I see the same faces week in, week out and I noticed that many of them were sad today because all of the bric-a brac was pre-priced and way more expensive than they are used to. We didn't buy anything except raffle tickets and we didn't win anything here either, despite our tickets numbers being tantalisingly close!

Still, we still contributed via raffle ticket sales and also with a cup of coffee and a catch up with a retired gent I see there every week who was very grateful for the World Book Night copy of Roald Dahl's Someone Like You that I handed over to him today.

www.rspca.org.uk


When the RSPCA was founded in a London coffee shop back in 1824, the men present knew they were creating the world’s first animal welfare charity, but they couldn’t possibly have imagined the size and shape that the charity would become today.

Back then we were the SPCA - Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Royal patronage followed in 1837 and Queen Victoria gave permission to add the royal R in 1840, making us the RSPCA as we’re known worldwide today.

National Trust

The McBaby and I were at work yesterday for a "keeping in touch" day, so on the way home we decided to pop into Greys Court, a National Trust property in Rotherfield Greys, near Henley.



Earlier this year, MrM and I signed up to the National Trust, so our entry was free, but I am going to count this as a "charity" thing as I bought a much-needed coffee in the lovely tea room. Being able to nip into a National Trust tearoom is so much more enticing than stopping at services -why didn't I think of this for the past five years when I've been spending so much time on the road!

There was a coach party of older ladies who were very taken with the McBaby who responded by bouncing up and down maniacally. He'd already had far too much female attention from my colleagues in the morning and is turning into a little flirt!



Greys Court was taken over by the National Trust in 1969 but can trace its origins back more than 900 years. Its parklands now host a 16th century house and intriguingly, a Tudor donkey wheel (which we admired briefly before running for cover after getting soaked by yet another downpour).

More info, including details of their forthcoming Jubilee Picnic on 5th June here:

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greys-court/

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

OUtdoor opera The Barber of Seville comes to Newbury

Greenham Common Trust has invited Britain’s leading outdoor opera company Opera Brava to return for their fourth year to Newbury Racecourse on Saturday June 30th 2012 to perform Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.
The Trust has been organising and subsidising outdoor operas since 2005, delivering outstanding professional performances which are accessible and enjoyable for family audiences at a fraction of Covent Garden prices.

In Olympic year the whole country is poised for a myriad cultural experiences and The Barber of Seville promises to be a spectacle which will not disappoint. With an audience of up to 2,000 adults and children expected, this production will excite and thrill regular opera audiences and anyone who wants to see opera for the first time.
Opera Brava Director Bronek Pomorski says: “Written in three weeks, Rossini’s

melodic masterpiece is one of the wittiest and most immediately appealing comic

operas in the repertoire today and as fresh to the ear now as when it first burst upon

it’s Italian audiences in 1816. As the plot unfolds and is dramatically told through

Rossini’s brilliant musical structure, it helps us to understand, in part, the Barber’s

special place in the history of opera.”

Opera Brava is also celebrating its 25th year as Britain’s leading touring opera

company. Their production of The Barber of Seville is performed by professional and

experienced national and international opera singers who have worked with major

companies such as; English National Opera and Covent Garden. Paul Austin Kelly

has sung The Count Almaviva at The Metropolitan Opera and Covent Garden, Gillian

Webster who has sung Mimi at The Royal Opera House sings Berta, Mark Beesley

currently at The Royal Opera House is Bartolo and Martin Nelson a regular at The

Royal Opera House sings Don Basilio. Two young rising stars, Niamh Kelly as Rosina,

and John Lofthouse as Figaro, unravel Rossini’s fantastic score with wonderful

skill. This is all held together by Jeremy Silver, an international conductor who has conducted at English National Opera, Glyndebourne, Europe and in South Africa.

Greenham Common Trust spokesman Julian May says: “The outdoor opera events

have become a must see in the Newbury calendar. We are delighted to welcome

back Opera Brava who always deliver a very special evening to remember.”

The Trust is also funding the hugely popular junior opera for the third year in partnership with Opera Brava, which will be performed at Newbury Racecourse on Felix Rayner, headteacher of the Winchcome School, says: "The Winchcombe School is delighted to be working with Opera Brava this summer on their production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. This will be an amazing opportunity for our children and staff to work with professional singers and actors. We hope this will unleash the many talents of our children and give them a new and exciting experience they can build on in the future. We thank The Greenham Common Trust in their support of this project - the whole school community are looking forward to

Bronek Pomorski adds: "We are really looking forward to working with the teachers and children of Winchcombe School at Newbury Racecourse. It will be a fantastic opportunity for the school children to experience performing in an outdoor Opera and hopefully a memory they will cherish for years to come."

Tickets for The Barber of Seville cost £10 and are available from the Corn Exchange in Newbury. You can purchase tickets online from www.cornexchangenew.com, by calling the theatre’s box office on 01635 522733 or by calling into the theatre in the Market Place, Newbury. Doors open at 6pm for a 7.30pm start. A licensed bar is available and visitors are welcome to bring a picnic and their own chairs.

The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe performance starts at 7pm and admission is
free.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society

Today's coffee morning made £247.16 - just got this email:

Hope you're well. Just wanted to say a huge thank you again to everyone who made it along this morning, it was really nice to meet you all. Managed to get along to the bank this afternoon and we made £247.16 this morning - I understand more might have been raised in previous years but there were fewer of us, and I think the rain put a few people off. I'm really pleased with that result so well done to all involved! :)

West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society



The McBaby and I bought some baby books and I won some toiletries and a mug at today's St Nic's coffee morning. Today's was in aid of the West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society, which, as you know, is a cause very close to my heart.

I thought I was actually quite restrained in my buying this morning. Mostly that was because there were a lot of items that I had donated and also I didn't feel like carrying much home. That is probably why I ate all of the cakes that I bought. Yum.

The other reason I didn't buy much was because the McBaby and I met a lovely lady in the queue who had just received a dementia diagnosis. She was very taken with the McBaby who can always be relied upon to produce a broad smile at anyone of the fairer sex.

I hadn't fully appreciated just how awful dementia is even in its early stages and so felt that rather than stuffing my face full of cake, that it was important to have a chat with this lovely lady and let her know where she might get help. The local group is extremely proactive and organises exercise classes, singing and gardening - all of which have proven therapeutic qualities for people with dementia. Dementia often hits the short term memory, (leading to people making stupid jokes about the condition), but long term memory can often be much clearer, so it's always interesting to talk to people with dementia about their lives and achievements and talking is good for their confidence too.

So how awful then to be in the early stages and know that this is coming and getting progressively worse. What makes this EVEN more annoying is that patients often don't get help early on as a; they are fearful of seeking help and b; to save money, preventative drugs aren't administered until the condition has got worse. No, I know it doesn't make sense.

I told her that I've supported the society since I was young. I didn't tell her that I've met a lot of people with dementia throughout my life and I've always been horrified at the extent to which this disease removes the person, if that makes sense.

I've met amazing people; artists, architects, a former Mayor of London, a bursar, a spy - who have led incredible lives only to end up not being able to dress or feed themselves. Heartbreakingly, some of them can't recognise their own families. It's devastating for everyone, but I've always taken some comfort from the fact that many people aren't aware of what's going on.

So, for two weeks running, I left the coffee morning almost in tears. There's much better information about dementia, how you can hopefully do things to avoid it, and a bit about the work of the society here: http://alzheimers.org.uk/

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

North Hampshire Hospital's involvement in a revolutionary new treatment for prostate cancer

North Hampshire Hospital's involvement in a revolutionary new treatment for prostate cancer. The Hospital said it was only possible thanks to a half million pound donation from Greenham Common Trust.

www.thisishampshire.net/news/9665739.Hospital_taking_part_in_cancer_treatment_trials/

Open Studios

Is it May already?

More than 120 artists from West Berkshire and North Hampshire have put together a fantastic programme of exhibitions and workshops in May.
Open Studios, now in its 25th year, will host its flagship exhibition Insight 2012 at Greenham Common Trust’s New Greenham Arts centre, Greenham Business Park, between May 5 and May 27th.
Artists will also be celebrating the London 2012 Olympics with a collaborative art project called Olympic Spirit and exhibited at the Corn Exchange in Newbury.
Also look out for a photography exhibition entitled Art in Sport at Newbury Library and for artists who are opening their studios in celebration of the Olympics on the weekend of July 28th and 29th.
For more details on these and much more please download the pdf brochure below and visit www.open-studios.org.uk.
Open Studios Chair Pat Eastop said: “West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios was set up in 1987 and has been running alongside the Newbury Spring Festival every May. It is a non-profit making organisation run by volunteers and is indebted to the support received from Greenham Common Trust, New Greenham Arts, The Corn Exchange, West Berkshire Council and our other supporters who help us to provide a diverse and interesting programme of visual arts events each year.”