Sunday, 29 April 2012


I've had no internet for the past few days so nearly forgot about a very interesting Thursday morning coffee morning at St Nics - this time in aid of bereavement charity CRUSE.

My plan was to pop in, then head to get a photo album for the McBaby's pics. For some reason, I'd got one set of pics printed 7x5 and couldn't find an album big enough. Then, I figured, I'd go and meet some friends for lunch and then spend the evening putting said photos in album.

So how weird then that I should win an album that holds 7x5 photos in the tombola? I also won a box of chocolates. But let's not linger on them since they have long gone.

We also bought two children's books - both of which we'd currently got on loan from the library. Another coincidence! I very nearly bought a rocking horse and a height chart. HOwever, when someone is talking to you and then turns their back on you to whisper something rude about your being foreign to their friend, I find that a little off putting and decided to buy cake instead. Ha! I win!

WHile I ate my cake, watched by the McBaby, we were joined by a 90-year-old man who happened to share his name with the little one. This not entirely strange coincidence led to a conversation about his life which ranged from his war time activities where he was held captive in Poland for three years, to a 60-year-long marriage with his wife dying on Christmas day.

I didn't think that a coffee morning to raise money for CRUSE could be so emotional, but I was very close to tears when we left. An amazing man and a very interesting morning. The funny thing was that when I saw someone in the pub roll their eyes when an old person tried to make conversation. This is a tragic waste. I think the McBaby was lucky to meet someone who fought in the war. He was lucky to encounter someone able to give him an insight into an important part of our social history. He was blessed to hear from someone so courageous and interesting. He's also lucky to have a mother who is capable of winning photo albums on the tombola.....

The Cold Ash swap shop

If you were my camera, where would you be hiding?

With no camera, I can't post a picture of the event yesterday but the McBaby and I had a great time! Despite the rain, it was incredibly well attended and the quality of donations was outstanding!

We came away with some baby books and a new bookcase which I am about to paint. Once finished, it's earmarked for the kitchen to make my cookery book corner look tidier. (Yes, pipe down, I know I can't cook; the cookery books are there so that I know that room is meant to be for cooking in).

On entering the event with your goodies to donate, you get a sticker with the date of the next one (10th November at 10am) and when you leave with someone else's goods, they weigh them to see how much was saved from landfill. A brilliant idea and an absolutely outstanding example of the adage "one man's rubbish is another man's treasure!). Due to the rain, it took us three journeys to the car to get everything and therefore ample opportunity for people to ask which table I got the baby from.

A fab event, not marred by the strange woman in the carpark whose husband stood in front of my car so I couldn't get out while she tried to ram the passenger side of my car. Perhaps she was trying to swap her car door with someone?

*Thanks Cat for bigging up my blog post! Here's my attempt at doing the same for you!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Queen's Award for Greenham Common Trust

Congratulations to the Greenham Common Trust*! The charity has won the Queen's AWard for a third time! Come and like on FB!!/pages/Greenham-Common-Trust/155938514454098 *and MrM, who works there....

London Marathon

This is just such a sad thing. How amazing that people have turned something so awful into a positive:

Monday, 23 April 2012

Cold Ash swap shop

Despite my taste for international travel, I always do my best to live in a green way, although of course, there's more that we could do. One of the things I do is to worry constantly that we will run out of landfill space in the next couple of years. People are too eager to throw things away, whether it's food that's a minute past the "best before date", clothes or out-of-fashion furniture. So anything that saves things from being thrown away (as someone pointed out the other day, "there is no away", is to be commended. That's why I'll be taking a load of baby stuff, some books, a HUGE pile of motoring magazines and furniture to the COld Ash swap shop next weekend. It's not strictly a "charity" thing but it's fantastic idea. And who knows, I might find something to take home!
Saturday 28th April, 10:00 am to 12:00 mid-day Acland Hall, Hermitage Road, Cold Ash Our first Swap Shop on November 19th 2011 was a huge success - the quality of donations was outstanding so it was really easy to pick up something you wanted. This is the first of two Swap Shops we will run in 2012. Again it's a chance for you to pass on unwanted items to a good home by bringing them along on the day and/or take something useful yourself. Youare welcome to come along whether you are only bringing items to leave, just hoping to pick up a few things of interest, or both. Either way it will not cost you a penny! We are looking for items which are clean and in good working order, which may be useful to others - these can include toys books tools and DIY materials CDs & DVDs small items of furniture household items & furnishings games garden equipment small mains electric appliances* *these will be PAT tested, for electrical safety, on the day before being accepted All items must be small and light enough to be easily carried by one person If you are bringing things along to recycle then please arrive no later than 11:00 am. Sadly there are a few things which we cannot accept and so we would ask that you to please note the following: NO clothes NO food/drink NO baby/child car seats NO knives NO paint/chemicals NO previously opened toiletries If you have larger items such as bicycles, push chairs or furniture then just let us have a photograph and we will display this with your contact details on a board at the event. Items in the Swap Shop not taken will be given to the Community Furniture Project who will make them available for re-use, or for appropriate recycling. Light refreshments will be available on sale during the event. If you have any questions about the SWAP SHOP then please feel free to contact us via the ‘Contact us’ facility WHY NOT START PUTTING THOSE UNWANTED ITEMS ASIDE NOW - READY FOR 28th APRIL? Note that the second Swap Shop in 2012 will be on Saturday 10th November Acland Hall, Cold Ash Why do we run these? Disposing of unwanted items often means they end up in landfill sites - expensive and a waste of energy. The most efficient way of disposal is re-use - not only is there a consequent saving on landfill, but another similar item does not need to be manufactured if somebody else needs it. Through our Swap Shop there are two chances that an item will be re-used, either by somebody taking it away on the day, or via the Community Furniture Project who will find a user for it if possible. And, even if any item does not go for re-use, it will be correctly recycled so that there is the maximum possible saving of energy with minimum possible use of landfill. Thanks to all who helped make our first Swap Shop on November 19th 2011 such a huge success. See photos . The quality of donations was outstanding so it was really easy to pick up something you wanted, whether it was a pickaxe, a Digibox for your television, a smart office chair or just a book or jigsaw – it was all there! With 130+ people coming through the door we were busy for the full two hours, with an outstanding overall result. 484 Kg (that’s about HALF a TON) of items were taken away for re-use, which we assume would have otherwise eventually gone to landfill. In addition a smaller quantity was taken away by the Community Furniture Project for either re-use, or correct recycling. Also the proceeds from donations, and sale of refreshments, allowed us to break even financially. We are running Swap Shops again – it’s clear that they will be very popular. But, in the meantime, thanks to all who donated items, took items away, and helped at the event. Thanks also to the Community Furniture Project for their support and Greenham Common Trust who printed our flyers.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Friends of the Charles CLore unit

Instead of the weekly jumble sale, ST Nic's played host to a fundraising tombola and cake stall in aid of the Friends of the Charles Clore unit.

The charity raises money for cancer care and other illnesses and also arranges days out and activies for patients.

I was delighted to donate a few quid for some yummy cakes. (Not pictured - ahem). I also won some chocolate soap on the tombola and have done my utmost to avoid eating it. Harder than it sounds, it smells scrummy!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Lovely books!

And here are the World Book Night books #Worldbooknight. I want to lick them.

But I won't.

Would you like one?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Race for Life!

It's time to start training for the Race for Life!

Here in Newbury, the local one is at the showground on 8th July at 11am. I say "local" but it's not really that close to the town and requires a car journey.

The other near ones are Basingstoke on 20th June (7.30pm) and Reading on the 22nd July at 11am.

I am about to sign up but am hesitant owing to the amount of paperwork I have been sent since last year's event. I want the money raised to fight cancer not to be spent on marketing!

If you're thinking about signing up, this link is your friend:

Monday, 16 April 2012

West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society - coffee morning

I love the St Nicolas church hall coffee mornings and have bought some fabulous things recently. However, coming up on Thursday, 3rd May is the fundraiser for the local branch of the Alzheimer's Society. This is a cause very close to my heart, so I've collected the above items from around the house and MrM has kindly delivered them to the branch office for me today!

They're still looking for volunteers and donations of bric-a-brac/cakes and am sure they'd love to hear from you if you can help! Otherwise, I'll see you there - 10am on the 3rd!!

The Giants are coming!

The Greenham Common Trust is pleased to support the latest in Newbury's Corn Exchange's fantastic outdoor events programme!

We are looking for people to volunteer to be part of our production crew or help to steward Newbury Corn Exchange’s next epic outdoor arts project.

The Berkshire Giant is the latest of a series of spectacular large-scale outdoor arts productions, from across the world, that have been presented in Newbury over the last two years.

With this latest project we want to people the chance to work alongside a team of incredible artists and performers from Irish outdoor theatre company “Macnas” to be part of a piece of high quality outdoor performance.

The Story

In The Berkshire Giant we will tell the story of John Ever Afraid, a giant who has been hiding in the walls of Aldworth Church for 600 years after making an ill-advised pact with the Devil. We will tell John’s story over seven days and ten across the West Berkshire landscape using a remarkable combination of giant puppetry, carnival parade, art installations, music and performance.

The Project

Macnas is a site-specific, spectacle and theatre company, making work that is narrative- led with a strong visual dynamic. Macnas presents large-scale, promenade-style, interactive performances using musical, visual and theatrical languages that are a feast for the senses.

Macnas has created shows, parades and celebrations in more than 20 countries including Britain, Europe, the US and South America.

The People

If you have energy and enthusiasm, enjoy being outdoors and have experience in outdoor/Theatre production or would like to help steward and see behind the scenes of an unusual and exciting series of performances with thousands of people attending then we would love to hear from you. You could be involved in setting up or stewarding wild, imaginative promenade performances and processions in woods, villages and streets. You might get to be behind the scenes of a cult of Giant summoners enacting a night-time ritual, a rough choir or an unruly mob creating a raucous street procession.

Come with us on our journey!

How to get involved!

If you are interested in getting involved and are available for any of the following set up and performance dates (see below), please send us an e-mail including your name, contact details and a few short sentences explaining why you are interested in taking part. We will get back in touch to invite you to an event on Saturday 21st April 2pm to 4pm where you will be able to get more information about this project and how you might be involved.


Sat 21st April Berkshire Giant introduction event (2-4pm at Corn Exchange)

Show Week

Sun 17th June (afternoon) Performance

Mon 18th June (eve) Production set up

Tue 19th June (eve) Production set up

Wed 20th June (eve) Performance

Thurs 21st June (eve) Production set up

Fri 22nd June (eve) Production set up

Sat 23rd June Performance

Friday, 6 April 2012

West Berkshire Community Hospital League of Friends

Maundy Thursday yesterday and that means jumble sale day already! Today's was in aid of the West Berkshire Community Hospital League of Friends which is a wonderful cause who have worked hard for years to ensure there's a hospital in the town.

I bought a lovely soft baby blue jumper as I have an unfortunate habit of shrinking any sweaters that actually fit (ask MrM about my inability to wash his shirts too), a very smart Marks and Spencer skirt (too smart for me, in fact. I can't think where I would wear it and whether anyone would recognise me in it) and a colourful scarf - ditto - not sure where and HOW I would wear it. Ideas welcome!!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

St John's pre-school

This morning's coffee morning at St Nic's yielded the Gruffalo for the McBaby! Not only that but these wins from the tombola including a much-needed back, neck and shoulder massage! How exciting!

Community Furniture Project

Have you seen a programme called "Get your house in order"? Basically, a man comes round to your house, insults you and shouts at you, sells a load of your stuff and then the money is used to pay an interior designer to do up as much of your house as she can with the cash.

I loathe this show yet seem mysteriously drawn to it. And it was after watching it that I decided to sell everything I own. My problem is not that I am a hoarder, but that our house is quite small and even the McBaby's bumbo in the middle of the floor makes the place looks cluttered.

So my life is pretty much up for sale. Do you need a bookcase? I have one. £10. Do you need a weird cookie jar that looks like Mammy from Gone with the Wind? I'm open to offers. A kimono? Oh yes, I have a new one.

One of the things I was selling was a nest of tables which is really useful but a bit 80s and hasn't attracted much attention. I decided that I would take it to the Community Furniture Project (and by that I mean that it's been sitting in our van for ages and MrM finally dropped it off the other day when it became apparent that the table was blocking his field of vision).

Everyone can shop at the Project. You don't have to be on a low income, on benefits or a pensioner - but if you are, you will get up to 30% off regular prices!

By selling to everyone, not only do we encourage helping the environment through re-use, but we also help to support the costs of providing our service to people who really need it.

We have beds, sofas, armchairs, tables, chairs, wardrobes, chests of drawers, fridges, freezers, washing machines, tvs, stereos, video recorders, microwaves, buggies, pushchairs and all sorts of things for the home.

All electrical goods are safety tested in our own workshop before we sell them.

We offer a low-cost delivery service, which aims to deliver the next working day; you pay the delivery charge at the same time as other items you buy. We can also provide household clearance and furniture removals.