Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Melksham and Lacock

How can I never have visited Melksham before? It's lovely!

I was here yesterday after a meeting in Trowbridge and before a meeting in Swindon so it made a good stop off point, and I took the opportunity to donate a bag of dresses, cookery books and saucepans to the Sue Ryder shop here.

Then, time for cake! And where better to go than somewhere where my cake eating would benefit the commmunity - Munching for Melksham, if you will.

Then onwards, but not before stopping off at the beautiful village of Lacock and the Abbey there, both preserved by the National Trust. And if it looks familiar, it could be its resemblance to a certain boarding school attended by Harry Potter.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

National Trust -Upton House

Another flying visit in between meetings; this time I stopped off at Upton House

This is the country home (not main home) of Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearstead who made his fortune from Shell.

(not my favourite company - have a look here for details), but anyway, a fascinating look into life in the 1930s. There's something so intriguing about poking about a bedroom or bathroom that is exactly how it would have been 80 years ago - far more so than looking at dusty paintings.

I also just about had time to run across the lawn and pretend that I was playing croquet in my own stately pile, before doing the house tour at a ridiculous pace, and checking out the second hand bookshop which is housed in what used to be the kitchen pantry.

Sophie's Stars

Better late than never! I've finally got around to donating after hearing the story of Sophie..

I've just sponsored Sophie's Stars. You can help them raise money for Southampton Hospital Charity, Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust too by donating at

Breast Cancer Care

I've written a release about one of the dealers I do PR for as they're very generously giving £10 to charity for every customer who comes to the dealership on Friday dressed in pink!

Original release is here:

Lowestoft Renault dealer Mitchells is going pink on Friday, 26th October for a good cause, giving customers a special incentive to drop into the Long Road dealership.

Staff will be dressing in pink to show their support for Breast Cancer Care’s “Pink Fridays” initiative which is a month-long campaign through October to raise funds for breast cancer sufferers.

As proud supporters of Breast Cancer Care, the dealership will also be offering pink cakes and holding a raffle on the day. What’s more, for each customer that visits the dealership dressed in pink, Mitchells will donate an additional £10 to the cause.

Dealer Principal Matthew Huke-Jenner said: “We’re tickled pink to be able to support the “Pink Friday” event. Please come and support us on the day, and if you can dress in pink, then even better!"

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Miriam Dean Fund

Cake, jumble, tombola? It must be Thursday!

I met all of our favourite people, including the highly-enviable Vicki who is my mothering guru. She has three beautiful children who are great fun and well-behaved. She never seems stressed, yet floats from activity to activity with no effort or drama. Compare with me - just one child; he and I are usually covered in cake, snot and other bits of dirt. I am late, harried, stressed and tired. HOW DO YOU DO IT, VICKI!!

Anyway, today's cake and tombola was in aid of the MIriam Dean Fund - a charity that helps the world's poorest people by such intriguingly named projects such as "The community cooker project" in Africa; the Rowswanic, and the "Loaves and fishes" network. As I eat cake and then go and meet friends for coffee on a Thursday, I often gaze at these pictures of amazing people going to India, Africa and so on, doing great, practical things and it always makes me think that I am wasting my life in rainy Newbury.

I have wanderlust. Are there any projects that could do with a useless person like me? And can I take the McBaby?

Saturday, 13 October 2012


Always happy to have cake for a good cause....

At the car wash...

My dirty car made £5 for the MS Trust as the local fire station was holding a car wash fundraiser!

This provided a lot of amusement for the McBaby as the car was hosed down and cleaned, and also for the firefighters - one of them knocked on the window and asked "Is this the first time you've washed this car?"


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

National Trust - Dyrham Park

I was on the road again yesterday - a trip to Bristol, then Basingstoke before heading home to find the traffic from this morning's horrendous rush hour had not yet subsidied!

I was heading back from Bristol and needed a toilet stop and a tea. Now why stop at anonymous, expensive motorway services, when you can (if you are a member), go to a National Trust property?

So bye bye Welcome Break, helllloooooo Dyrham Park -a beautiful mansion near Bath built around 1690 for William Blathwayt who was Secretary at War and Secretary of State to William III. Little did he know that a few centuries later that I would be storming in, using the loo and running down the hill through the incredibly beautiful parkland, like Maria from the Sound of Music to see the house, get the bus back and be on my way. I was there for 17 minutes and fortunately for my laughable financial situation, didn't get that tea!

Cancer Research UK - SHINE

I was asked to write this press release and am about to send it to the charity press, but thought -I'll put it here first!


Cancer Research UK recently received a helping hand for its annual Shine night-time walking event from Renault when the manufacturer lent the event a fleet of vehicles.

The Shine events are walking half-marathon and marathon events that are held at night time around the streets of London and Manchester. More than 10,000 participants took part in this year’s event, raising an estimated £2m for cancer charities.

Renault lent a fleet of three minibuses, two Trafic vans and four M├ęgane Hatch to assist with the smooth running of the event and as support vehicles for anyone who injured themselves while taking part.

Brian Goddard from Cancer Research UK said: “The Shine event is unusual as participants can choose which cancer charities they want their money to be allocated to.

“It all went extremely well and we can’t thank Renault enough with their help for the London leg. It was wonderful to be able to transport staff, volunteers and participants around in comfort and style, and additionally, the loan of the vehicles saved us thousands of pounds in car hire fees, meaning that all money raised goes directly to where it’s needed most.”


1. Brian Goddard from Cancer Research UK at the beginning of the Shine event, pictured with the fleet of Renault vehicles.

For more info, please contact @magatha28 or @grovewoodpr

Saturday, 6 October 2012

St Michael's Hospice, Basingstoke

A drink for me, a biscuit for the McBaby, at the coffee morning at the Kingsclere Club held in aid of St MIchael's Hospice

We also bought the groceries below

before a lady sat down with a box at our table, saying she'd won it on the tombola.

"Are you not bursting to know what it is?" I asked as both the McBaby and I stared at it.

She wasn't as nosey as us, but opened it for us and it turned out to be a lovely set of brand new mugs. That made me decide to have a go, but before I could do so, another lady sitting at our table said she wanted to win something for the McBaby, and came back a couple of minutes later with a brand new oversized cup and saucer.

"Your son is just so lovely and smiley, I wanted to get him something", she said.

How touching - a complete stranger buying something for the little boy. Thank you!

National Trust - Lanhydrock

Whether you describe it as "brave" or "foolish", I took the McBaby and the McNephew to Lanhydrock yesterday.

If I thought running round after a lively 9 month old was exhausting, little did I know how tiring it would be to take his McCousin too, so we started with the adventure playground to try to wear them out.

After walking from the car park pushing a pushchair with one hand and trying to hold hands with McNephew who wanted to collect logs to throw for his dog, we finally arrived at the entrance and the offer of a buggy ride to the National Trust property itself was too good to miss. McNephew is a transport expert, so loved the buggy ride and the vintage fire engine and other vehicles at the end of it.

The boys got a reasonably-priced book each in the fabulous second hand bookshop and then a children's meal in the cafe, before we got the buggy back to the main gate again. There's simply no way we could have gone into the house - if we were in fact allowed, but we hope to return!

The Wigglys book for McBaby

McNephew about to run after another stick again - a miracle that he stood still for this pic:

Lanhydrock is a beautiful Victorian estate near Bodmin and was owned by the Robartes family.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Lorraine Pascale - TACT

Beautiful, talented, interesting. A model who eats lots of chocolate...don't you just hate Lorraine Pascale?

Only kidding! I don't hate her at all, I think she's awesome and what I wouldn't give to go round to her house for tea and cake!

The reason I mention this is that I happened to catch her on Woman's Hour on Radio 4 this morning, and far from being quite privileged, (don't know why I thought that), she came from a difficult background with time in foster care. She mentioned that she does a lot of work for this charity and since I'd not heard of them, I thought they were worth looking up.

Keep doing what you're doing Lorraine. I wish there were more inspirational women like you.