Friday, 21 November 2014

The Leprosy Mission

Thursday coffee morning - a hat and gloves that I bought for the McBaby in aid of the Leprosy Mission. We've already lost one glove and MrT stretched the hat beyond recognition by comedically (or not) putting it on his head.

Which is put into context really by the horror of leprosy, which is an infectious disease caused by dirty water, bad nutrition and poor standards of living, meaning people's immune systems are not strong and they are unable to fight the disease.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Injured Jockeys Fund at Newbury Racecourse

Racing is a huge part of life here in West Berkshire, particularly towards Lambourn, the Valley of the racehorse.

The Injured Jockeys Fund has held a massive annual fundraiser in Lambourn for years, but it's got so big recently that it's moved to Newbury Racecourse. There's a fabulous range of gifts ranging from personalised children's gifts and books to pink gin and even bespoke sports bags.

There's also a well-stocked tombola with wonderful prizes (we won a Sanctuary Spa gift set, a Christmas pudding and a vase that the McBaby has been using as a cricket bat), and staffed by the two most patient ladies I've ever met. (Apologies again for McBaby's naughtiness).

I mention this because the Christmas fair is on until 5pm today (Tuesday) and then again tomorrow (November 19thfrom 9.30 to 4pm), so please support if you're in the area. It costs £5 to get in.

The Fund was set up by the late Lord Oaksey in 1964 following the accidents of Tim Brookshaw and four months later Paddy Farrell in the Grand National. Both falls resulted in severe paralysis which immediately ended both their careers. Since then, the IJF has helped over 1000 jockeys and their families and has paid out more than £17m in charitable assistance.

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!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

"That's not my elephant"

Today's charity was the Salvation Army - the McBaby and I were passing on our way to get him some new shoes after an hour at the playground. I don't normally take him into charity shops, but a dress in the window caught my eye and I thought I'd get a closer look.

We went in and he marched up to the elderly volunteer at the till.

"Hello. I'm {McBaby]*. Have you got an elephant please?"


"An elephant"


Me: "Hi, sorry for the confusion, I think he's after an elephant toy rather than a real live elephant."

Woman: "Let me serve this lady first!"

We take a careful backwards as we have inadvertently annoyed this lady with our silly questions. But wait! There's a book about elephants for sale, and we only have two copies of it so far!

The McBaby picks it up and holds it.

"That's 50p" announces the lady. I give the McBaby 50p and he tries to hand it over.

"I'm serving someone! You have to wait!"

I pick up a mug to make it obvious I'm not trying to hurry anyone.

"Mugs are 50p each. Or two for a pound", with no trace of irony.

The customer leaves and the McBaby hands over the cash. The lady fumbles around for a bag while I tell her three times that we don't need one, thanks.

The McBaby is now reverting to type and running in circles around the quite small shop.

"If you don't stop that, I'll take the book away from you," she says.

She then asks me how old he is, right at the same moment I try to tell her that he's quite tall and therefore younger than he looks (and not as well behaved as you'd expect.)

"I didn't ask you how tall he was, I asked you how old he was."

"He's two" I say, blinking back tears of laughter.

You just don't get that when you buy new. And no, I didn't get round to buying the dress in the window.

*insert real name here!