Monday 28 November 2011

Everyone's a Winner Baby!

Everyone loves a freebie or to win any competition right down to a school fete raffle. I stand and confess I’m a bit of a freebie/competition addict.

After posting my latest product testing project on Facebook and Twitter a lot of people have asked how I’m so “lucky”; truth be told it’s probably more about the odds rather than luck. I must enter up to 25 competitions a week and am signed up to various freebie websites and product testing schemes.  All of which only take a few minutes every morning, but once you start getting odd shaped packages through the post – it’s hard to stop.

Latest Product Testing

In the ten years I’ve had this hobby; I’ve won tickets to the Brit Awards, a 7ft Cherry Tree, A block of cheese, a dozen mascara’s,  tickets to shows, crates of wine and Bailey’s, free dinners at restaurants, perfumes and tons of other weird and wonderful surprises.

As for freebie’s these tend to be smaller but no less fun; free mini Tabasco bottles, boxes of cereal, boxes of tea, jars of coffee, DNA magnets, countless pen’s and badges. As for product testing I’ve had emergency packages of pasta, cheese couriered to my door in boxes of dried ice and books with a 72 hour reading time before a review was needed.

Perks of the freebie lover!

Some of you regular readers may even remember when I was given 48 copies of the same book to give out to friends and family earlier this year!

I started this excessive form filling in the long nights of pain and spasms when I’d watched all my DVD’s, cable TV had bored me to tears and no one was awake to chat to.

I never use any of the above to sell or make any money from them in wages; it’s purely for the love of getting post! I used to have dozens of pen pals as a child/teenager and since we all keep in touch via e-mail I miss beautifully hand written letters, colourful invitations and pretty thank you cards.

If you’d like to try your hand at winning or would just like to get a few free tea bags now and then here’s how....
  •       Check out your favourite companies’ websites and Facebook pages and join their mailing lists, especially as this time of year, there are countless Christmas comps.
  •          Magic Freebies UK and do all the hard work for you finding the best goodies
  •          UK Competitions are brilliant as when you enter the competitions the site logs your entry so you don’t keep going back to the same pages.
  •         Pick me up Magazine have a Comp club one of my friends has been incredibly lucky here!
  •         Super Savvy is a lifestyle website for UK ladies and they hold product testing groups and you’ll also find money off vouchers for household and beauty products

·         My only other advice is keep your eyes open – enter all and any competitions in magazines, news papers, websites and even watch for the ads on facebook.  Or if you get really serious about it quite literally Google for UK Freebies and UK Competitions.
     As much of a cliché as this may sound but; if you’re not in it you can’t win it!

        L x

Friday 18 November 2011

Goodie Two Shoes

Some people have weird notions of what volunteering is. Most envisage being stuck behind the counter of a charity shop or soup kitchens and money collections – not that there is anything boring, less valid or worthwhile about these, but there is so much more you can do to not only help others and gain something for yourself.

A friend remarked once that I was a charity “Ho” (you know who you are!) and although from the outside my volunteering may seem like a glory seeking, goodie two shoes act I’ve gained a lot from these experiences. Getting back as much as you give doesn’t have to be a selfish thing!

I volunteer when I’m able to as I cannot work, my condition CRPS is so temperamental that I’m sadly an unreliable work force and most of the time in too much pain or exhausted from lack of sleep. Volunteering makes me feel like I’m still contributing to society.

Over the 10 years I’ve been volunteering I have:
  • Taught children’s drama classes
  • Help organise a Fleetwood Mac tribute evening
  • Made a few hundred sandwiches in one sitting for a children’s club outing
  • Cooked meals for families who couldn’t afford their own food
  • Held homework classes and I.T tutorials
  • Offered online buddy systems for children with CRPS
  • Dressed up in various costumes/daft hats for promotion of charities and collections
  • Written articles/poems/advertising for various causes

And loads more, and had I been able I would have done more, mind you had I been able to I would have got a job instead!

As I was unable to take the “normal” routes to college and University my grades alone wouldn’t have got me into the courses I wanted to take, but team leaders, tutors and entry boards saw that I was determined, forever trying my hand at new things and committed. Yes my health always governs all of the above but I’ll never give up trying.

Just this week I’ve been volunteering with the Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society (S.O.D.S) helping out in front of house selling programmes and roses for their production of Beauty and the Beast. I’ve only managed a couple hours due to pain levels soaring (although my doctor has, today, doubled my medication – Thankfully!!) but I like meeting new people and catching up with old friends – I sometimes moan about a duty or something I’ve said yes to but 99% of the time I love doing it!

Wednesday 9 November 2011

The Machine Gun Preacher

Last night my brother’s girlfriend, Kate and I headed to the cinema to see The Machine Gun Preacher for the absolute sole purpose of, to put it in simple terms, ogle and perve at the film’s star Gerard Bulter, of whom
we are both a little (okay a lot!) in love with! (Sorry Mike!)

We settled with our Pepsi Max and popcorn had a good old giggle at the commercials and trailers for up and coming films. Neither of us had really thought about the film we were seeing, we just needed our GB fix!

We were horrified when the opening scene was a Sudan village being destroyed and the towns’ people being shot, cut or kidnapped. Kate and I looked at each other as if to say “why are we watching this when Tin Tins playing next door?”

The real Sam Childers (L) and Gerard Bulter (R)

The story of the Machine Gun Preacher is about the life’s work of Sam Childers. Sam was a broken man with a criminal and drug fuelled past. To be honest for the first 30 minutes of Gerard’s performance I started to go off not only Sam but Gerard himself who played this disturbing character alarmingly well!

Luckily with the love and support of his family and church Sam Childers became an upstanding member of his community and a pastor from Africa visited his church, telling the congregation of the plight of Sudan under the rule of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). It’s estimated that the LRA have to date abducted around 50,000 children who have been forced to fight with them as child soldiers or have sold them into sex slavery

Sam, an owner of a construction business and his wife Lynn, decided they were in a position to help. They set up Angels of East Africa charity.

I don’t want to spoil the film too much for anyone but I spent the entire time delicately balanced emotionally between hope and helplessness, joy and disgust as Sam tries to help the Sudanese orphans.

If you get a chance please go see this film, it’s heart wrenching and at times; unbelievably hard to keep watching, but it’s worth it to learn not only Sam's story but the children’s ones too. The film is brilliantly directed by Marc Forster (who previously directed Mosters Ball, Quantum of Solace) and without bias Gerard’s best performance so far!

For more information on Angels of East Africa or Sam Childers please click here and maybe even donate a few pennies – I did!

L x

Monday 7 November 2011

RSD/CRPS - Awareness!

I have Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome also recently known as Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS – inventive I know!) November is the international month of RSD/CRPS awareness.

All over my Facebook and Twitter feeds are wall posts and hash tags emblazoned with the bright orange ribbon - our united symbol. There are quite a few variations of the statement ribbon but you get the general gist – orange symbolises the pain and specifically the burning sensation we all deal with.

If you have a couple of moments please watch this video:

It’s been not so subtly mentioned that I should write a piece on my personal story the campaign – uniting with my fellow RSDer’s.  So here I am!

I have had the condition for close to 20 years now, all starting when my left foot suddenly went completely numb, as I have mild Cerebral Palsy, at first it was thought that my odd symptom was a nerve damage and I was later tested for tumours on my brain and spine – nothing was found.

At the time of my mysterious foot numbing the colour in my leg started to turn a dark purple which would fashion it’s self with red spots and blotches after being in water. To be honest being such a young child I didn’t really worry about the foots lack of enthusiasm and in case of further damage  I was banned from P.E lessons – brilliant!!

Sadly the numb foot became a raging ball of fire which left me screaming with agony – it felt as though someone had lit my foot on fire and that the muscles and tendons where trying to rip themselves in half.

Since that horrible day my life changed; I’ve always since felt let down by my own body. The long list of symptoms include pain in every possible way – burning, pins and needles, a sensation as though I had hot rods coming out of the leg, spasms so bad they’ve deformed my foot into a crescent shape with my toes and crossed over and distorted into yucky little features. This is not to mention the permanent circulation problems, hair loss, swelling of the limb, tremors and many more!

That’s the horrible thing about RSD/CRPS – you never know how you’re going to feel when you wake up.  Yesterday evening I was up until 4:30am in pain, close to fainting and on the verge of being sick, when I woke this morning, I just had a horrible dull ache and pins and needles and tomorrow I might wake up with my foot contorted into odd shapes due to severe spasms and cramps. Not knowing how I’ll feel tomorrow, next week or next year is the only thing that scares me but I’m always optimistic that one day it will go as quickly as it came.

For now I’m really suffering as the condition has moved to my right leg and left arm. It had never occurred to me that I would have a certain amount of pain muted in the left leg due to my Cerebral Palsy (as very simple way of explaining CP is a stroke at birth) and the limited feeling I’ve always had in my left side might have saved me from a lot of discomfort. But now the right leg could/is causing real trouble! Still – I’ll live!

It would be a great help if you could share this piece on your Facebook walls, Twitter feeds and Blogs, there still people who don’t believe the condition including medical professionals – despite the very physical signs and we need the support!

L x
(Twitter name Ladygogo84)

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Stop acting gay! WTF!

I think the world went a little mad yesterday! I read these two articles (Sound advice?!? and Charitable?!) and couldn’t believe it! Schools in Essex telling bullied children to “Stop acting Gay” as a form of advice and an American Fast Food chain giving $2million dollars to anti gay campaigns!

What are these people thinking? We worshipping celebrities who are known for..... well what are they known for?? Who send out press releases asking for time and respect in a difficult marriage break up (Ms. Kardashian) – I’ve had longer flu bouts than a lot of these fairytale unions! And yet gay marriages are seen as corrupting our wholesome moral ways - B****ks!!

I have family and friends who are gay, bisexual (who I nickname - just plain greedy! ;) and even asexual, all of them are in long term, committed happy and very loving relationships – not only that ;they’re sweet, intelligent kind people – not sinners or “wrong!” and yet I know straight, miserable, nasty people who I wouldn’t wish anyone to be married to and yet they’re unions would be celebrated and not condemned!

One very dear friend of mine was sent to therapy and another to a summer camp to be cured of their homosexual urges, like it’s a habit, illness or an addiction. After some of the therapists I’ve seen I’m almost sure that the people offering these services are more messed up that any of their patients!

Can you tell I’m angry?

L x

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Benalmadena Part Four – and final!

Thursday in Spain was beautifully chilled and spent doing what we had become accustomed to; sun bathing, swimming and keeping hydrated with Sangria... see I told you there was a theme!

Friday was my favourite day of the holiday! Through the Sunset Beaches excursion team we had all booked a trip to Gibraltar. Still part of our “British Empire” Gibraltar was beautiful but to be honest I knew nothing about the place... so much so when we booked the trip; Mike and I decided to go Dolphin Safari, whilst the rest of the family decided to explore “The Rock” and I asked “Which rock?”... I surprise myself sometimes!

THE Rock!

Anyway, we had an hour and a half coach trip to the town – I was a sleep for most of that!  The week overall was catching up on me, this all might not sound a lot but I generally spend my days, doing a few little bits and resting in between, nights out and holidays take me days or weeks to recover from!

When we arrived in Gibraltar, Mike and I were taken straight to the harbour; we had half an hour to kill so we went boat shopping..... just choosing our yacht for when we win in the lottery, and before I get any messages, yes we do play it!

Once we got on the catamaran I was parked at the back of the boat, and had no intention of walking around the rocky vessel. Within minutes of leaving the harbour we were being followed by a small pod of common dolphins, these were tiny to what I expected only 1-3metres in length but they were mesmerising never the less! As the engines were fired up and we moved faster through the sea, the dolphins were leaping in the waves behind us! They were almost impossible to photograph, although Mike took the money shot! I did a lot of filming instead.

Mike's money shot!

During the excursion we were told about Billy the Bottle Nose. Usually this breed and common dolphins do not get on, with the bottle noses actively bullying their smaller counter parts. In 2006 the Dolphin Safari team noticed a young Billy swimming with the common guys and it seems they have adopted him and/or he’s a bit confused and thinks he’s one of them!

Half way through our hour long trip, Billy made an appearance, at 3-4 metres in size he wasn't hard to spot amongst the others. As mentioned I was parked up at the back and Billy seemed to be at the front on the opposite side of the boat. I didn't think I’d get to see him close up, then one of the crew next to me pointed and Billy was swimming towards where I was, not only did he come right next to me he stopped pulled his head sideways and looked right at me. I was recording a video as that point and you can hear me in the background – “Woooow....oh my God! oh my God! oh my God!”  - it made my holiday!!

After the boat trip we had some lunch and wandered around the harbour and shops before it was time to head back to our hotel.

On our last evening we decided to cook any of our left over’s and order in pizza from the onsite takeaway. Again we congregated on Mike’s parents’ balcony and listened to A Neil Diamond tribute act, who was actually very good (you would have been impressed Karen!).

Spain is a beautiful country, the people are enthusiastic and helpful (and by the way love children – our waiters couldn’t get enough of my baby Niece Beth), the weather was wonderful (although compared to OZ did nothing for my RSD/CRPS), I wouldn’t recommend going unless you have a powerful motored chair or a strong family member to get you around, but having the latter I had a brilliant time and will one day return and go back to see Billy!

L x