Thursday, 5 December 2013

St Nicolas School, Newbury

I'll be supplying West Berkshire's fudge needs once again when I have a stall at St Nicolas School, Newbury for their Christmas fair tomorrow. What's that got to do with charity? Well, the stall fee is going to the school's friends' fund!

Here's a taster of the cornish Buttermilk Fudge we sold at the brilliant Audley Inglewood fair last week....we'll now be at St Nic's, Link Road Newbury this Friday (6th Dec) from 3.30 to 5.30pm!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Miriam Dean fund

Thursday's jumble sale at St Nic's was in aid of the Miriam Dean Fund, a small charity that helps some of the world's poorest people. Started by a baker just after the war, the charity now sends an amazing £150,000 overseas every year.

So, I was thrilled to be able to help by eating lots of yummy cakes, buying a couple of candles (for the power outage that I'm obsessed with) and some children's paint for McBaby. My elderly friend MrT also bought my mum a comedy book on how you lose your memory as you get older. I was hoping she'd forget to take it with her for comedy value, but she remembered on this occasion!

Go Sober for MacMillan

Wahoo! We made it! There have only been one or two days where I've felt like reaching for the wine, but having quit my job where I had a manager who could not hide her dislike for me, those days were now few and far between!

I'd like to do this again after Christmas and am fairly sure that other charities will run similar fundraisers, so please let me know if you hear of any next year.

Thanks so much to my sister for sponsoring me!


Friday, 11 October 2013

Go Sober for Macmillan - day 11

All going well over here although my biggest test was going to a gig on Wednesday night! Just got this through from the organisers and funny they should mention a visit from the inlaws as that is my next test. Wish me luck!

It’s day 11 of Go Sober and we hope you’re enjoying the challenge, resisting peer pressure along with temptation. The good news is we're almost half way through the month so it should get a little easier as you start to reap the rewards a month off the booze brings.

Our top tips for getting through this weekend are:
•Treat yourself with the money you've saved from nearly 2 weeks of not drinking
•Think about doing something you wouldn't normally do
•Don't visit the inlaws!

Together we've smashed through £800,000+ raised for Macmillan Cancer Support, with 31,000+ sober heroes participating. An incredible achievement you should all be very proud of!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Kimpton mother prepares for Fire Walk to raise money for life-changing trike

A mother from Kimpton, near Andover, is taking part in a fire walk to raise money to buy a specialist trike for her young son.

Sharon Kennedy is raising funds in order to purchase a Tomcat Trike which would be life-changing for her four-year-old son Cameron who suffers from sensory processing difficulties, social communication difficulties and Dyspraxia.

Cameron can only walk short distances before pain and fatigue set in, meaning the Tomcat trike would enable him to become more mobile and independent.

Sharon is hoping to raise £600 towards the cost of the £1,873 trike with the additional funding coming from a grant from Cerebra, a specialist charity that helps children with neurological problems.

Sharon said: “Cameron and I went to try out the trike and it brought a tear to my eye to see him pedalling for short distances without help with the biggest smile on his face. The trike would mean that he could do things that other children can do, such as coming with me when I walk the dog. “

The fire walk takes place on 31st October in Newbury and is being run by specialists Bigger Brighter Bolder who are holding the event on Halloween to empower local business owners.

Sharon found the fire walk event online and contacted organisers Tracey Miller and George Swift.

She joked: “I wanted to do something a little bit different to raise money and this is shorter than a traditional sponsored walk.”

Tracey Miller, BBB director added: “As specialists in developing the mindset for success, our fire walk workshop is designed to help people overcome the fear and doubt that gets in the way of their success by actually showing the mind what’s possible. We’re delighted Sharon’s chosen our event and as well as raising money to help buy the trike, which will be life-changing for Cameron, we hope Sharon gets something really special for herself too.”

For more information on the fire walk, click onto or to sponsor Sharon, click onto


Thursday, 3 October 2013


Hungerford Environmental Action Team (HEAT) is showing the film Trashed which should get you thinking about what you throw away (there is no away!) and your environmental responsibility.

Trashed (12A) 98 minutes - see trailer here

"if you think waste is someone else's problem…think again."

Jeremy Irons sets out to discover the extent and effects of the global waste problem, as he travels around the world to beautiful destinations tainted by pollution. This is a meticulous, brave investigative journey that takes Irons (and us) from scepticism to sorrow and from horror to hope.

"We hope the film will demonstrate that by changing the way we live our lives, we can contribute to our own survival and well-being and ultimately that of the planet" Jeremy Irons

Bring along a pizza to cook and enjoy over a chat and drink following the film. Tickets: £4 on the door. Bar opens 7:30pm. The Croft Hall, RG17 0HY

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

British Red Cross

If you know me in real life, you may know that I spent a few months this year attempting to be an antiques dealer...I've been freelancing solidly for the last five months, meaning that I haven't really had time to find the stock (or to sleep, have fun, see get the picture...)

Sadly, this meant giving up my beloved stall. And even more sadly for MrM, it meant that my stock has been sitting around the house. And now, under pain of more shouting, my stock has had to go, although MrM didn't use such gentle words. His were more: "If you don't get rid of that pile of junk, I'll do it for you."

So off it went. A collection of vintage books, baby clothes, a random 70s saucepan that made me think of the Good Life every time I saw it, some beautiful glass bottles...all to the British Red Cross shop and into the hands of a very confused looking volunteer....


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Go Sober for Macmillan - day one!

After celebrating the end of my contract at the agency in October, I had a cheeky couple of gin and tonics last night so woke up ready and willing to start Go Sober!

My beautiful sister has sponsored me and I'll be sponsoring myself but please feel free to join in!

Here's a note from our sponsor....

It’s been an amazing ride so far and we are incredibly proud to have 28,000+ sober-heroes taking on the challenge, already raising over £400,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. What a way to start the month!

We know 31 days off the booze can be a bit daunting so if you start to doubt yourself, just think of the difference your fundraising will make to the lives of people affected by cancer.

Are you trying to get some unconvinced friends on board? Why not start a team and have them join up? They might be more inclined to take part if they know it will be a combined effort. Plus it's much easier staying on the wagon when your friends are too.

If you haven’t already kicked off your fundraising then personalised biz cards or our pre-written fundraising emails are a great place to start. You can find them and much more by logging in to your Go Sober account. It’s a great way to spread the word about your sober challenge. Don’t forget you can also use Facebook and Twitter to share your sober experiences. We even have some social media icons you can use for your profile pic here.

We'll be sending out weekly e-newsletters to keep you motivated, but for all the latest you can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Stay strong, stay sober!


The Go Sober Team

Stepping out against dementia raises £745!

More than 40 people joined together last Saturday (28th September) in the fight against dementia at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre for Alzheimer's Society’s annual Thatcham Memory Walk where £745 was raised for the UK’s leading support and research charity for people living with dementia.

Memory Walk is Alzheimer’s Society’s flagship fundraising event which sees walks taking place around the UK throughout September. It’s a great opportunity for the whole family to spend a day out together whilst also raising money for such an important cause.

The walk was opened by Alzheimer's Society volunteer and local resident Barry Randall whose granddaughters took part in the walk with him.

There are currently over 5,000 people living with dementia in West Berkshire and the money raised at Thatcham Memory Walk will fund local services in the community such as the Dementia Support Worker Service, Singing for the Brain and Dementia Cafés.

Community Fundraiser, Ellie Hughes, said:
‘Local support for the walk has been great and it was a really special and uplifting day. I want to say a huge thank you to all the walkers and volunteers who helped to make it possible and of course to Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre for once again providing us with a beautiful venue.'

Monday, 30 September 2013

Cats Protection

After having a lovely massage and before heading to the Memory Walk, I treated myself to a quick jumble, heading to the Cats Protection sale.

Pictures to come, but I bought:

Jeans, a jacket, a t-shirt and more importantly FIVE boxes of 1970s Fuzzy Felt and five regional cookery books for the sum of £2.50.

I also somehow got collared into helping a young man of 87! Having come to the sale on his motorbike, I'm not sure why he bought an almost life size paddle-steamer. Anyway, we managed to get it into the back of my van with an invitation to bring it round to his house! You just never know where a trip to the jumble sale could end up!

British Heart Foundation

You can raise money by running marathons, by climbing mountains, by swimming the channel, or by having a massage!

Of course, I took the easiest option with a trial Chinese massage at the Newbury Wellbeing Centre open day on Saturday where my neck and shoulders were given a massive treat in return for a donation to the British Heart Foundation. I've got to say a huge thank you to Jason Redding who I cannot recommend highly enough for his patience and kindness!

West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk

I know I'm one of those people who sometimes cries at adverts, but I was incredibly touched by Saturday's event...there was turnout of about 80 walkers of all ages from babies up to a lovely lady of 92.

There were people who happened to be passing who signed up, there was a lady who did the walk and sponsored herself a whopping £60 that she put into the donation box, there were families and couples donating lots of cash; all determined to do whatever they could to help people with this horrible disease.

There was a wonderful camaraderie and a touching address from the man who cut the ribbon to open the walk. I have to admit I didn't even do the walk myself; I forgot to bring my trainers, but instead helped people to sign in, register and to work out what size t-shirt they needed! I even helped put up a gazebo which was the first time I've ever done that successfully!

Thank you everyone who came....I'll stop crying soon!

Pic thanks to NWN!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Go Sober for October in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care

Thanks to a gloriously hot summer, most of it spent in a field, and a ridiculous situation that I've found myself in, cranking open an ice cold cider has been a bit of a habit.

So, I was almost relieved to see that Macmillan Cancer Care is hosting a fundraiser called "Go Sober for October" where you get sponsored for not drinking. If 31 days is too long, you can buy "golden tickets" to allow you to have the occasional night off the wagon.

There's more info here and my donations page here

Shout at me if you see me in a pub in October!


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

World's Biggest Coffee Morning -Macmillan Cancer Care

As many workplaces, my office is holding a coffee morning to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Care this week.

We've been asked to make a cake...would it be so bad to buy one? It really would be better for everyone concerned...

Are you holding a coffee morning? If not, there's a list of your nearest ones here:

Thatcham Memory Walk for the Alzheimer's Society

Just a reminder that the Thatcham Memory Walk is this Saturday at 1pm! See you there!

We currently have 55 walkers registered and as always we’re expecting lots more to turn up on the day so hopefully it’ll be a busy event.

Walk Information
You can do a short stroll round the lake or a longer 2-mile march across the reedbeds. It's a really lovely local venue, ideal for the whole family for an afternoon out. This route is fully accessible for baby buggies and wheelchairs. There's a super café selling delicious snacks & home-made yummy cakes, lots of information exhibits and hands-on activities for the kids. There are play areas for toddlers to young teens, a field to kick a ball around, plenty of parking and picnic tables overlooking the lakes. You can even feed the ducks and swans.

Important Information
•Wear comfortable clothing and practical footwear.
•Be prepared for the weather – waterproofs or sun cream may be necessary.
•Bring a snack or two - there is a café on site but you may want something extra.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

British Heart Foundation; the Great British Bag-athon

I haven't been here for a while! How are you? I like your top!

It's been work, work, work for a while, but I'm thrilled that I made it to my first networking event in a while where I sat next to a lovely lady from the British Heart Foundation. Their charity's September campaign is the Great British bag-athon where they're asking people to have a back-to-school clear out. Apparently every bag you fill of unwanted clothes, books etc, is worth about £20. Ten bags could fund one day's research into heart disease.

The British Heart Foundation is hoping to reach a target of 1m bags this September and there's a challenge here

Thursday, 22 August 2013

West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society memory walk -Saturday 28th September at 1pm

This year's memory walk will take place on Saturday 28th September at 3pm at the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

There's a choice of two beautiful walks around the scenic lakes - 1 mile or 3 miles.

Many more details here:

The local branch is also looking for more volunteer befrienders - so if you're happy to give up an hour here and there to chat to an elderly person, then please let the local branch know.

I have befriended two people with dementia in the West Berkshire area and I can't tell you how beneficial it is for them to chat and not to feel lonely. It's also incredibly uplifting to talk to someone with amazing experiences and to find out more about how life used to be.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Big Issue

Haven't really been in town for a while, so this is the first Big Issue I've bought for a while. But it's a good one!

While we were there, the McBaby and I also gave some money to another homeless guy who was playing the spoons in town. Heartbreaking.


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Bungee jump for West Berks Mencap

Rather you than me, but check this out as a fundraiser!

On Sunday 25th August the Newbury Gastro Pub has booked the World's highest mobile bungee jump to be in Newbury Market Place.

Anyone wanting to taking part will raise sponsorship money in aid of West Berkshire Mencap.

The Newbury Gastro Pub needs 7 more bungee jumpers to hit their target of jumpers!

To take part all you need to do is raise a £100 of sponsorship money!

If you would like to take part please contact us on 01635 41464 or via email on

Monday, 5 August 2013

Jessica from the Toronto Rehab Foundation

Anyone who is a friend of the lovely P&L is a friend of mine so I have just voted in the Scotia bank gamechangers competition to find the local heroes in Canadian communities.

I don't know if my vote isn't working too well because I'm not in Canada (however hard I try!) or if it is registering and not telling me, but please log in and vote for this inspirational young lady if you can.

Courage, determination and compassion are words that describe and define Jessica Coriat. At the age of 23, she is dedicated to educating the public about people living with disability; she is committed to advocating on their behalf

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Voices from Silence - five copies available.

There aren’t many occasions when you read a book in one day, jump up and say “I MUST tell everyone in the world” about this book.

But that’s exactly what happened when I finished reading “Voices from Silence” by Mary Craig.

Mary lives very near me so our paths crossed a few years ago upon the death of Pope John Paul II. Not a cheerful day, but a great day for me as I fortuitously picked up the phone to Mary who was calling the newspaper where I worked to give a comment as she had got to know him through her biography on him called “Man from a far country”. I went round to see her, fell instantly in love with her spirit, her wisdom and her no-nonsense way of talking.

What was meant to be a five –minute visit turned into an afternoon spent talking to her and I popped back in the following weekend to see how she was. During that time I learned what I should have known about her if I’d stopped to look in the newspaper archive before I set off. She is a hero in Poland, as she ran mercy missions to the country post-war with her friend Sue Ryder.

Most importantly, owing to losing her son to the rare Hurlers Disease at the age of 10 and then also bringing up son Nicky who has Down’s Syndrome, she wrote the best-selling book Blessings.

If you ever have depression or even a whiff of feeling down, then this book is for you. It’s an incredible story about how Mary faced up to coping with the tribulations that life threw at her by turning her attention to others’ suffering.

Anyway, having left the paper, I often thought about Mary, but had stupidly left her phone number in my contacts book with my replacement. Once I was in her area but couldn’t recall where her house was. I then saw a nib in the paper about her newest book and her book signing so thought I’d swing by and say hello.

Alarmingly, I was her only customer. I had a chat, was delighted that she remembered me and I paid £10 for the book in which she put a charming dedication.

I took the book home and struggled with the close-set typefont and forgot about it. I gave birth to a son a few months later and whenever a spare moment presented itself, sleep seemed preferable to reading.

Until one day he was asleep and it rained and rained and rained so I picked up the book. Hours later I was done and knew that I just had to get the idea out there.

Please bear with me because the subject matter is weird and massively controversial. But if you have anyone in your life who has learning difficulties or a friend who has a child with autism, then please read on.

You’ll have heard of the Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It’s about a Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor-in-chief of Elle, who wrote a book communicating with his left eyelid after a stroke.

If he can do it, are there other people who are trapped in their bodies, with their minds powering along but no way to communicate? Can you imagine the pure agony of having something to say and constantly being ignored?

I know this is a difficult and perhaps unbelievable concept, but surely we have a duty to try!

Mary’s book Voices from Silence explores Facilitated Communication which is a system by which people can communicate via their carers who hold their wrists over a keyboard or communication board.

Facilitated communication was “invented” in the 1970s in Australia by Rosemary Crossley, a teacher who produced communication from cerebral palsy suffers.

Facilitated communication (FC) is a process by which a person referred to as the "facilitator" supports the hand or arm of a communicatively impaired individual while using a keyboard or other devices with the aim of helping the individual to point and thereby to communicate.

Incredibly one of the people in Crossley’s care Anne McDonald wrote a book called "Annie's Coming Out" which told the story of her release from an institution.
Later, Douglas Biklen, a university professor, investigated Rosemary Crossley's work and pushed for acceptance in the States. He reported that students with severe autism were said to be producing entire paragraphs of clear and age-appropriate language.
Initially Mary is sceptical. Aren’t we all? But the more she finds out, the more she realises that there is something there and even guides her son Nick to try it with jaw-dropping results.

I haven’t seen it in action, but where is the harm in trying? Please, please re-tweet, paste and share this story.

I have five copies of Voices from Silence to giveaway. Please just tell me a bit about why you would like to read the book and a way of contacting you so that I can get your postal address.

Thank you.

PS. Mary is not well but is very keen to hear that her book is making changes and helping people. If you have a comment for her, please leave it here and I’ll pass it along.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Cornwall and the USA - two Doc Martin themed fundraising events for the Cornwall Air Ambulance

Just thought I'd share the press release I wrote about two simultaneous fundraising events for the Cornwall Air Ambulance - one in Cornwall and one in the States! With Doc Martin's latest series currently being filmed in the village, the Buttermilk Shop has become the series' pharmacy once again and it put a staff member and a customer in the mood to raise money for the Cornwall Air Ambulance.

Port Isaac’s Buttermilk Shop and an enthusiastic US-based Doc Martin fan are holding simultaneous fundraising events for the Cornwall Air Ambulance on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sharon Harbeck moved from the UK to the town of Vancouver in Washington State where she runs an English tea room. On a recent visit back to Cornwall, she popped into the Buttermilk Shop in Port Isaac that doubles for the series’ pharmacy and bought some fudge from Doc Martin aficionado and ‘extra’ Mike Meakins who works there.

Mike working in the doc's "Pharmacy"!

Keen to help with the Buttermilk Shop’s drive to raise money for the Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, Sharon decided that she would invite children to dress as a character from the series at a special “Doc Martin event” on June 22 back at her tea room. She also plans fundraising stalls such as white elephant, a book stall and the sale of plants, flowers and cakes.

She said: “Many of the expats I know here in Vancouver are big fans of the show and are very excited about the Doc Martin day.

“We’re very much hoping to make it an annual event and as ardent fans of Doc Martin and the beautiful part of Cornwall it’s set in, we thought it would be lovely to raise money for the Cornwall Air Ambulance.”

Meanwhile, back at Port Isaac on the same day, the Buttermilk Shop is holding a raffle where one lucky winner will go home with a Buttermilk Fudge hamper filled with fudge and Doc Martin goodies with proceeds going to the Cornwall Air Ambulance. Tickets are on sale now in the shop priced at £1 each and the draw will take place on June 22.

Mike Meakins and Sarah Taylor from the Buttermilk Shop show the fudge-filled hamper that could be won in a dual-Atlantic fundraising event for the Cornwall Air Ambulance.

Mike Meakins from the Buttermilk Shop said: “We get a lot of fans of the Doc Martin show coming in to see the pharmacy and to buy traditional Cornish fudge while they are here but Sharon really has gone above and beyond. We wish her well with her event!”

Tom Matthews, Events Fundraiser at Cornwall Air Ambulance said: “Buttermilk are great supporters of Cornwall Air Ambulance and have been very enterprising in turning their Doc Martin connection into a really fantastic fundraiser. To have this brilliant support now crossing the Atlantic really is incredible, and we are so grateful to Sharon and all her staff and customers for their support!”

The Cornwall Air Ambulance attends around 1,000 emergency calls for help every year throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The Air Ambulance needs to raise more than £2m a year to keep flying.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Newbury Gastro Pub Tug of War and Bungee Jump‏ on 25th August in aid of West Berks Mencap

Tug of war! How exciting!
MrM and I have just been talking about how long it is since we undertook a tug of war because we helped rescue some brownies on a narrowboat on the Kennet and Avon this afternoon who were drifting the wrong way round and needed our muscle power to be helped out!

Anyway West Berks Mencap says:

The Newbury Gastro Pub will be putting on a bungee jump and a Tug of War in aid of West Berkshire Mencap on the 25th August.

The Bungee jump will be set up in the market place. If you are interested in taking part please email Pete at lumberandclarke dot com for a sponsorship form.

The person with the most sponsorship will win a meal for two at The Newbury.

The Tug of War will be held outside the Newbury also on the 25th August. We are looking for teams to enter. You must have teams of eight!

Thank you so much to The Newbury pub for this and all the support they have given us so far this year! They really are amazingly supportive and kind!

If anyone would like to be involved please could they email Pete on the email address above and copy me in.

Coffee and cake in Newbury town centre on Wednesday 5th June

A Newbury accountant is holding an all-day fundraising event on Wednesday, 5th June at her Northcroft Lane office to raise money for three different charities.

Ginette Higgs, who runs Lynchpin Accounting, is inviting local businesspeople, shoppers and even passers-by, to come and join her between 9.30am and 6pm for tea, coffee and cake in return for a small donation.

Ginette said: “With a town centre location, I thought it would be perfect to invite anyone who loves cake to pop in to our offices to say hello and raise money for these three great causes.”

Proceeds will go to MacMillan Cancer Care, the British Heart Foundation and the West Berkshire Alzheimer’s Society. For more information, visit

Monday, 27 May 2013

Alzheimer's and YMCA

In one of the most embarrassing farces of my life, I prepared lots of cakes, took the day off work, hosted a coffee morning in aid of the Alzheimer's Society and ONE person turned up!

And he was in his 80s...Never mind. Will chalk that up to experience. At least he and I had a nice chat. But we didn't raise much money. Or any in fact.

Moving swiftly on, the bric-a-brac stall at my coffee morning went in its entirety the next day to the YMCA shop...prompting me to nearly defriend a FB friend who raised £200 at her fundraising coffee morning!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

West Berkshire Mencap’s Westie Walk on 15th June

I was lucky enough to meet the CEO of West Berkshire MENCAP yesterday who mentioned that she and her dog are organising a Westie walk!

Non-Westies are also welcome and the event, which takes place at 11am on Saturday, 15th June by the control tower on Greenham Common, is to raise money for MENCAP!

Dementia Awareness Week - coffee morning at McTowers

If you're in or around Newbury on Friday, 24th May then please come by and enjoy some coffee and cake in aid of the Alzheimer's Society!

I'm having a coffee morning at my house from 10am to 12pm as part of Dementia Awareness Week.

PM me or twitter me at magatha28 for details!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

My priddy dress from the Pilgrim's Hospice

As Chas and Dave would advocate, we went "daaaaaaaaaaan to Margate" at the weekend and I spent the whole of the two and a half journey moaning.

But look at my reward!

I popped into the Pilgrim's Hospice in the Old Town, just behind the Turner Contemporary, and found this dress!

I love it so much I can't bring myself to try it on in case it doesn't fit! I <3 Margate!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Dementia Awareness Week

The Alzheimer's Society is holding its annual "Dementia Awareness Week" from 19th to 25th May to raise the public profile of this horrible disease.

This year's theme is "talking" and the Alzheimer's Society is the charity that is closest to my heart. I'm just waiting to hear some important news, hopefully this week, which will hopefully mean that I'll be able to invite you to a fundraising tea party chez moi!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Wear it Loud for Mary Hare, school for deaf children

Mary Hare Newbury, the specialist school for deaf children, is holding a Deaf Awareness event at its Hearing Centre in Weaver's Walk, Newbury on Thursday, 9th May.

The event is part of Deaf Awareness Week from 6th to 10th May and has been put on to offer advice from an audiologist, specialist products, a prize draw and refreshments.

Mary Hare is also asking people to go to work in their "loudest and brightest" clothes to raise money (by paying £1) to support the work of the school.

For more info, click here You can find out more and even donate the money you raise online.

Monday, 22 April 2013

West Berks Food Bank

Popped into Waitrose to get a magazine that is featuring an article I wrote and was presented with a leaflet at the door by a volunteer from the West Berkshire Food Bank.

Instead of collecting money, they were asking for practical help and hoping that shoppers would buy and donate one of the items on their list which included: instant mash potato, pasta sauce, sugar, tinned meat/fish/rice pudding or sponges. I of course, chose tea bags, as that would be my first choice if I couldn't afford food.

They are leaving a donation point in Waitrose, so please pop an extra item into your trolley if you can!


Sunday, 21 April 2013


When a charity does this......

you know they're serious about their fundraising....

The McBaby couldn't believe his eyes when he saw people paying to throw wet sponges at the poor man in the stocks. I found it a bit hard to watch, except that one lovely lady paid her pound and then wrung out each sponge before throwing it.

It was all part of a fundraiser in aid of West Berkshire Mencap held in Thatcham on Saturday, complete with bric-a-brac, plant stall, hand massages and even non-alcoholic cocktails!

Thursday, 11 April 2013


I absolutely love this blog, so how wonderful to see an entry on a town so close to home:

Charity shop tourism: Hungerford

Meanwhile, in my own charity endeavours, today's coffee morning was in aid of the Parkinson's Society for which I spent a pound buying cakes for the McBaby and MrT. I also tried to have a conversation with a lovely lady whose husband died recently. Note "tried" thanks to a baby who thinks he's Harry Houdini. Embarrassingly, it went like this x 6:

"I'm really sorry to hear about your husband. How are you?"

"Well, I'm...."

"Sorry, back in a second..."


Saturday, 6 April 2013

West Berkshire Hospital League of Friends

Cake, perfume and a lovely notebook. It must be time to report my purchases from Thursday's coffee morning!

The coffee morning was in aid of the West Berkshire Hospital League of Friends who do a great job supporting the local hospital, and in fact, raised the money in the first place for the building to be built nearly 10 years ago. As well as having a chat with the hard-working man behind the Friends, our friend MrT also bought me the Kirstie Allsopp book about Craft! What a sweetie!

Little does he know how terrible I am at craft. Or perhaps he does and thought this book was the answer!

See you next Thursday!!

PS. I think the League of Friends are holding a car boot sale to raise money at the car park at West Berkshire Hospital on Sunday, 12th May


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

YMCA and Mercy in Action, Theale

Just taken a bag of more things to the YMCA and it's just so lovely that the staff are so grateful for the donation. "What beautiful things", today's lady said - I wasn't sure if she was referring to Pierce Brosnan on the cover of one book, or the massive and brand new guide to the heritage of Great Britain!

I also thought it was worth mentioning Mercy in Action in Theale as I happened to stumble upon it yesterday (I'm sure there weren't any charity shops in Theale last time I was here). I don't know where they get their stock from, but there's some lovely bits and bobs including vintage china and I even found a Princess Diana book that I must have taken to a different charity shop, as it had my mum's name in the front!

They even had a Jennings book in here - very rare to see these in charity shops, and appropriately priced at £6.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Pilgrim's Hospice

A very sad day for MrM's family who lost their Grandma recently. She was a lovely lady and at her funeral, it was requested that donations should go to the Pilgrim's Hospice in Margate.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

West Berkshire Foodbank

West Berkshire's Foodbank opened today with a touching and moving service from former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.

People in Newbury, Hungerford and Thatcham who need food from the service will need to be referred by organisations such as Citizen's Advice or Homestart.

If you want to donate money, you can do so at

National Trust/Cats Protection/Scouts

Snow and sub zero temperatures can't keep me from three jumble sales in the last three days!

1. National Trust

Thursday's coffee morning - bought a fab book for the train about the history of Paris, before heading to London. (Didn't have time to read the book!)

2. Cats Protection

Definitely fewer people here thanks to the snow. Didn't stop us getting brutally elbowed though, three of them by the same man.

3. Scouts

Kintbury, near Hungerford, for the famous Scouts jumble sale.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Could you run 10K in London for West Berkshire Mencap?

If anybody is interested or you know anybody who would be interested, West Berkshire Mencap needs someone to run the London 10K...

(I can't do it, I can't even get up the stairs at the moment!)

We are looking for individuals who would be willing to run the London 10K for us to help raise funds to maintain and expand our high quality services.

Benefits for You?

Improve your fitness, see the wonderful London sights and raise funds for a fantastic


How we will help:

We will cover your entrance fee and arrange return transport from Newbury to London.

All we ask is that you raise a minimum of £175 for us.

Date: Sunday 14th July 2013

Time: 6.15am

If you would be interested in being involved please contact Gill Leech


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Soroptimists in aid of the Duchess of Kent Hospice

I found something I hadn't seen for a while - our floor! We're doing pretty well at the decluttering - even MrM has noticed that the house is looking almost zen. But how could I resist this fab handmade card for one of MrM's nieces and also this Spanish CD set when I was at Thursday's jumble sale?


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

British Red Cross/Sue Ryder

Lots of bags to the lovely British Red Cross in Hungerford yesterday and a couple of parenting books and birthday banners to Sue Ryder in the Kennet Centre today.

Sue Ryder was absolutely buzzing - lots of customers and volunteers in the shop. Lovely to see!

Monday, 11 March 2013

West Berkshire Foster Parents Association/Scope

I went to a very useful blogging conference on Friday where there was a discussion about helping charities and how bloggers chose which ones to help.

"After all, people don't want to read about charity every day - they'll switch off", said one prolific blogger.

So, safe in the knowledge that I'm wittering to myself, I'm going to share my bank account details. I mean share what we did on Saturday.

MrM, the Mcbaby and I sold a good load of our stuff at a boot sale in aid of the West Berkshire Foster Parents Association on Saturday.

MrM is usually terrified of boot sales, but it was fortunate he was there as the McBaby was the ultimate shopper deterrent and had to be kept outside on a swing.

I think the expression on the face of the woman on the left of this pic says it all:

I'm always stunned by what people buy. No one wanted a Cath Kidston-esque shopping bag, but there was plenty of interest in some old candles and old jeans. Our friend MrT, a veteran of local boot sales bought a vase which I then saw him wrestle into his motorbike panier. I wasn't too surprised that Gordon Honeycombe's book on the wedding of Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson remained unsold.

We made enough money for a couple of drinks and a contribution towards lunch for friends, and gave the remainder of the stuff to the Scope shop in town.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Newbury's Food Bank

Newbury is a relatively wealthy town - have a look at the house prices which aren't far short of what you'd pay in London.

MrM and I were hoping to buy a modest 3-bedroom house in a decent (not posh) part of town - somewhere where we'd feel safe but something with two double bedrooms and a small third room would cost about £350,000. The more you look at houses, the less this figure actually means, but to us it sounds like a huge sum. After looking at a few houses, we have decided that we cannot keep up the charade and expense of home-ownership - it's unsustainable.

The point is that other people WILL pay these prices for a normal-sized home, so Newbury is clearly not a poor town. Yet, the charity for Thursday's coffee morning was the new Food Bank. It was meant to be, but they didn't show - probably quite busy getting ready for their launch.

It seems quite frightening to me that in this day and age, and in a developed country that we need a food bank.

In fact, to afford our ridiculous mortgage on our tiny house (I'm talking not too far short of a grand a month), I used to work two jobs. I'd do my writing job from 8 until 5.30 and then go to a second job at Waitrose from 6pm to 11pm where the latter hour of my job would be to throw away all of the food that had exceeded its best before date and not been sold. Most of it was pristine and in fact I then spent most of my second job earnings on buying this food because I could not stomach throwing it away. We started to live on the food that was destined for the bin, not needing to do any more shopping.

It used to make me cry. Why was I throwing away perfectly fine veg (who decides the date on veg and how does it know to go 'off' at midnight on the date chosen?) when people were starving?

So I have mixed feelings about the Food Bank, but it's launching this month and is funded by

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Fifty Shades of Grey...

Last week's coffee morning at St Nicolas was a fundraiser for their near namesake St Nicholas Church in Beedon.

I bought a book for my lovely friend (a bit of Rose Tremain), an old-fashioned alarm clock and won a primrose on the tombola.

We also bought a couple of cakes (which the McBaby later sat on) and had a chuckle about our friend MrT who bought this book. I can't wait for him to let me know what he thought!!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Cornwall Air Ambulance

I have started working for myself, so it was with great pleasure that I wrote this release for a member of my family following their support of this charity, the Cornwall Air Ambulance

Thursday, 21 February 2013

West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society update on street collection

Nice letter from the Alzheimer's Society on the fundraising that we did a few weeks ago. I love it when people say thank you!

On behalf of the Alzheimer's Society I would like to belatedly thank you for your fantastic help at the collection last month in Newbury. I didn't want to get in touch until I could confirm the amount raised and we have only recently done the banking for the last few weeks' income.
You played an instrumental part in helping us to raise a fantastic £204.27, and to put that amount into perspective, £184 could pay for six people with dementia and their carer to enjoy one of our Singing for the Brain® sessions, which bring people together in a friendly and stimulating environment and use singing to enhance communication, confidence and well-being.

As you may be aware, dementia is caused by diseases of the brain. As the brain shuts down, a person gradually loses the ability to do the things many of us take for granted from enjoying conversations with family or friends to eating or dressing without help. There are 800,000 people with dementia in the UK with numbers set to rise to one million by 2021. Now more then ever it is vital to ensure that those affected by dementia get the best support that they can.

With the money we raise locally, such as the amount you raised at the collection, we are able to continue to support people to live well today and fight for a world without dementia tomorrow. So thank you again for your support -we couldn't do it without you.

Many thanks again

Thursday, 14 February 2013

#KindnessChallenge Day 13: Give Someone a Treat

I completely forgot about the Kindness Challenge and thought I'd finished it until I was looking for an email and came across it again!

And day 13 (which most people did months ago) is to give someone a treat which I happened to do yesterday.

I listed a car seat on Freecycle ages ago and had nothing but troublesome responses. People wanting to inspect it then asking if it came with a sunshade, or a remote control, or a digital voice enhancer.

Not one of them said please or thank you.

But then I saw a post on freecycle and offered it to a nice lady who said she'd collect. But then I thought - why don't I deliver it to you? You must be quite pregnant and not wanting to travel.

So I said I'd deliver it to her work as that was most convenient for her.

Except the place that I thought was her work, wasn't.

I walked up and down and up and down the street for an hour looking for it.

And emailed her to say my son was getting cold and she gave me directions, so I dropped it off to find she was lovely and very grateful, so hopefully everyone's a winner here!

Isn’t it nice when you get a treat from someone? Be it when a friend foots for your bill, when your tab gets mysteriously paid for, or when someone buys you a meal out of the blue?

For one reason or another, I often get treated by others. When I was traveling in Europe and United States last year, the friends I made there and the people who hosted me would graciously treat me time and again. Even in Singapore, I often get treats from others out of the blue.

I never expect any of those people to treat me, but they do anyway. (While we’re on the topic of treats, I actually don’t expect guys to treat me on dates either, because I think it’s not fair to expect the other party to pay just because he is a guy.) Whenever someone offers to foot the bill for me, I’m always pleasantly surprised. I just feel I’m so blessed and lucky to be surrounded by such gracious and generous individuals.

Because I often get treats, I know how good it feels to receive a treat. While I’ve been brought up with the notion of going dutch, I realized that giving others treats is quite a wonderful feeling. Not just for the recipient, but for yourself as the person giving you the treat. I’ve adopted the practice of giving others treats since my world trip and I say it has made me a more generous person. It has made me less definitive on boundaries between me and others and instead embrace the oneness ideology (not just emotionally or mentally, but now fiscally as well).

So, your task today is to give someone a treat!

COINS -Christian Outreach in Newbury Schools

We've missed a couple of Thursday coffee mornings with holidays, magazine test drives and work getting in the way, so it was nice to be back this morning.

I bought the McBaby a cheese scone and some carrot cake for me - he ate both. We managed to hold onto the romantic biscuit (pictured) that is my only nod to Valentine's day to MrM, apart from the heart (for a £1 donation) in my post about the British Heart Foundation.

We also bought two DVDs, a hi-vis jacket (in case we break down in the campervan), a colourful Indian top and some showergel.

To my shame, I also tutted at a woman who won two prizes on the tombola and moaned that she didn't want them and wanted to swap them for other prizes.

I poked my enormous nose in and said: "That's not how a tombola works".

She glared at me, but the youngster on the tombola let her do it.

"I didn't want to let her but she was scary", she said.

Poor girl. But do we let people take the best prizes and get their way at charity fundraisers because they're "scary"? Bet they're pleased to see me back again after our hiatus!


Save the Children


Save the Children is moving a couple of doors down the road in Newbury and are clearing out their current stock which means that they are selling everything. You can FILL a carrier bag for £5 which I duly did...

British Heart Foundation

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Bags of Love!

"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Gandhi.

I have been ambushing people in the supermarket with my spare bags for life this week.

It bugs me like crazy to see people spend £100+ on groceries but not think to take any bags with them. The supermarket will provide some disposable ones that we can discard and they'll eventually end up in the food chain!

As I have NO sewing skills at all and therefore can't make Morsbags, I've decided to give people the Bags for Life I have in my kitchen cupboard.

The first one was Thursday when we had to swing by the supermarket after a week away. On the way in, a man in a Land Rover nearly took all three of us by failing to stop as we crossed at the pretty black and white lines painted across the road.

Of course, he ended up behind us in the queue. He had bought lots of porridge and asked the staff member for some bags.

I leapt in (My husband thought I was going to admonish him for not driving carefully and tried to stop me- hahaha!) and offered him a Bag for LIfe which he was about to refuse. "I just lose them" but I insisted. "Doesn't matter - at least you'll save plastic today".

Then, I needed some milk this morning and stopped by Waitrose and ended up in the queue behind someone who spend £250 on groceries. (No, it didn't occur to her to let me and my one item in front of her). SHe had brought some bags, but not quite enough, and was quite grateful when I offered her mine. She also had a Land Rover and nearly backed into me as I crossed the road - there's a pattern here! Massive gas guzzlers and people who don't really pay much attention to others...

Anyway, my plan is in motion....

Please join me!

Also, I've opened an antiques stall in Hungerford, so if you're in the town or in Newbury and you have a drawer rammed full of carrier bags, please let me know and I'd be delighted to collect them from you to give them another use. I'll be tweeting soon using #bagsofloveNewbury.

Thanks for reading and stay green!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Cats Protection/Thatcham Town Football Club

Ah, the six weekly-elbowfest that is the Cat Protection jumble. I was far too bruised and injured to take any pictures of the event but I bought a bunch of old cameras and two framed photos in aid of Cats Protection.

I was so punch-drunk that I managed to drop one of the frames as I put it into the campervan, breaking all of the glass into millions of shards that scattered all over my handbag.


I still love this particular jumble sale though and will be back next time on Saturday, 23rd March! (Remember if you're a buyer though that I'll be selling at the Acland Hall, Cold Ash on Saturday, 9th March first!)

More dates here:

Sunday was the Thatcham Town Football Club table top sale with lots of grumpy chavs refusing to make eye contact and selling paperback copies of Jordan's autobiography.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

West Berkshire Foster Parenting Association -table top sale Saturday, 9th March

I got a call out of the blue from someone from the West Berkshire Foster Parenting Association this week, inviting me to sell at their forthcoming table top sale at the Acland Hall, Cold Ash on Saturday, 9th March from 10am to 3pm.

Apparently a whole year has passed since we sold at the last one, so I was quite touched that they kept the numbers of the previous sellers and invited them to book first!

I am opening an antiques stall this Friday but there's still plenty of things that will be be for sale on the 9th. Sod that, we're trying to move - I'll be virtually giving it away!

See you then!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Red Cross

I was a sod today, donating just one cookery book (albeit an expensive one) to the Red Cross in Hungerford.

After handing over ONE book, I then told them off for their apostrophe misuse before mincing out into the Hungerford air.

Sunday, 27 January 2013


Just a quickie - the McBaby vomited all over the car when we were en route to the East Garston swap shop, so the two bags of goodies went to the RSPCA shop instead.

Lots of brand new drinking glasses, some books and some other bits and bobs. We have stepped up our decluttering, so they'll be lots more posts like this!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Children 1st West Berkshire

MrM asked me to post the below onto his charity FB page but I forgot the photo, so thought it was worth posting again here:

Volunteers are the heartbeat of any charity and at the moment Children 1st West Berkshire is looking for a Trustee Treasurer, Trustee Secretary and people to help wih the maintenance of Cornerstone - the supported accommodation for foster care leavers and other vulnerable young adults in the district. The charity, which was supported by Greenham Common Trust who purchased the house for them to convert into living accommdation for care leavers, also needs volunteers to help with their young people. So if you are interested in providing more specialist support or can help with fundraising and advertising activities please contact info at

Friday, 25 January 2013

Alzheimer's Society

I moan and moan about living in Newbury but today the McBaby and I saw the best of the town's people and were pleasantly surprised by how generous people were.

We were collecting today outside the supermarket in aid of the Alzheimer's Society and were lucky enough to be alongside some lovely ladies; Sheila, Caroline and Sophia.

Our slot passed by very quickly. My only question is: Why does the McBaby look drunk in this pic....