orchard toys giveaway winner

September 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Thankyou to everyone who took part in my giveaway. It was my first and I hope to do many more.

1. Susankmann

2. Secondtimemummy

3. Utterly scrummy

4. Jumbly mummy

5. Geek mummy

6. Kirsty

7. Wendy mcd83

8. Adele

9. Paula virgo

10. Emma

11. Steph xx

12. Lou Strachan

13. Laura cymft

14. ummizayad

15. chas

16. anonymous mummy

17. jenny

18. Amanda

19. Misslizzyb

20. Emma

21. Laura

22. Princess of geekdom

23. garbhein

24. lowie

25. butterfly2001

26. sarah

27. second time mum (twitter entry)

28. utterly scrummy (twitter entry)

29. geek mummy (twitter entry)

30. wendy mcd83 (twitter entry)

31. pink_princessa (twitter entry)

32. paula haylock (twitter entry)

33. laura cymft (twitter entry)

34. umizyad (twitter entry)

35. gingerbread mum (twitter entry)

36. ruby roox (twitter entry)

37. lowie 789 (twitter entry)

Well done Jumbly Mummy and Wendymcd83.

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Proud Mummy

September 23, 2010 § 2 Comments

Little Miss A has been going to nursery since she was 8 months old. Purely because I have to work. When she turned three, she came home with a “sounds folder” which is basically a sheet of letters that nursery encourage the children to learn one by one.
Little Miss A was eager to learn her sounds so we have been encouraging it over the last two months. I would never push my daughter to learn anything she didn’t want to but as she actually asks to do her sounds we have been playing sound games every day.

Yesterday she came home from nursery with a sheet of five three letter words. I was amazed as she has flown through her sounds for each letter and has now moved onto words.
Part of me thinks she is too young to be learning how to spell and read words, but the other part of me understands that if she wants to learn I should go with it as she will get a great start for school next year.

Do you encourage your children to learn sounds and words?

Our Summer Discovery

September 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Pizza Hut

Kids Eat Free

It doesn’t seem right that we’re near the end of September already when we were enjoying rare days of hot summer weather not so long ago. Even on days like today when the sun is shining and you can walk around in a t-shirt, I’m being teased into thinking we’re still in the summer months, when in reality we’re fast approaching winter.
Pizza Hut has asked me to think about the best value free entertainment we encountered over the summer holidays.

This summer was quite special for us for a variety of reasons. We had the usual days out at the beach and park etc, but we discovered a great free activity close to our home that we had never stumbled upon before.
As you approach our local park we have a stream running through. I had never gone near it, but knew groups of children used it and that there was a rope swing someone had constructed for them to use.
Little Miss A is only three but one day we were walking past this stream and decided to investigate further. There are small inlets all along thr stream with very shallow water and lots of clear water. Not needed too much persuasion, Little Miss A and Mr A were straight in the water, picking up stones and making loud plop noises.

I can’t believe how much fun we all had by doing something that didn’t cost anything and was very close to our house. Needless to say we made that spot a regular outing on sunny days.

Everyone loves something for free, and we’re no exception. We also love going out to eat after spending time together as a family. We did happen to take advantage of Pizza Hut’s Kids Eat Free offer during the summer holidays. This made our meal even better value by taking advantage of this offer, and now they have extended the offer until 9th January 2011, so even more of an excuse to drop in on days out. It mean that for every adult main course or adult lunchtime buffet purchased, an accompanying child can choose from either a FREE 2 course kids meal (includes a drink) or a FREE kids lunchtime buffet (includes pizza, pasta and salad).
You can find more details about the offer at http://www.ebuzzing.co.uk/rd/13678_1481_205473_13726_10831/bit.ly/a1DhgJ

Our till receipt also included a code which we could redeem against different days out such as trips to the zoo, theme parks etc. We haven’t tried this out yet, but will be looking into it. All you have to do is enter the code from your till receipt at http://www.ebuzzing.co.uk/rd/13678_1481_205473_13726_10831/www.pizzahut.co.uk/familyadventures/  to redeem your deal.

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Lists

September 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have a lot going on at the moment, and I’m not seeming to achieve anything. Lots of random ideas are racing through my mind, as well as some more productive ideas trying to get through. My house is also suffering due to this brain activity, and I am managing to do lots for everyone else, but not enough for me or my home.

To combat this (or try to) I bought a nice little handbag sized notebook today with a pretty cover (that’s essential for new stationary) and I am going to write myself lists of what I want to achieve every day. Now this list may grow without ever being completely emptied, but it may help get those thoughts out of my mind and onto paper, leaving room for more thoughts to appear.

HMRC Blunders

September 16, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’m sure most of you will have heard in the news this last week or so about the mix up over at HMRC with many of us either overpaying or underpaying our tax.

My story starts approx 7 years ago. In 2003, I separated from my first partner and claimed tax credits as a single person. No problem.

When the time came for renewals, they decided to tell me I owed them just shy of £2000. Slight shock as if they had overpaid me that much, I would have assumed I should have been better off during the payment schedule than I had have been. According to them I received too much money from my employer through the working tax element. I’m not quite sure exactly how much is a decent level to live on as a single working parent, but I wasn’t aware of living a luxurious lifestyle at all.

I complained and was given direction on how to appeal which included a written statement, copies of all my wage slips (which had to be hunted out and wasn’t an easy task). I remember being told that I would hear when a decision was made.

Months went on and I didn’t hear anything. Rightly or wrongly, I forgot about it and carried on my life as normal. Each year at renewal nothing was mentioned, and I just kept thinking that if I was every asked for repayments to be made, then I would deal with it then as I still needed to live.

Fast forward to today and I get a letter from the tax credits.
Further to your letter dated February 2006,…… blah blah…. I am sorry for the delay in replying, blah blah blah.

The outcome is that they have decided that I wasn’t overpaid at all from my employer, and they have sent me a bacs payment of a whole £3 (to an account I no longer use).

As far as they are concerned there is no outstanding amount on my account any longer. (How nice of them!)
Will they ever get it right?

Who are you?

September 14, 2010 § 3 Comments

If you’ve never had a passport before and are over 16, then you will find yourself needing a passport interview when you apply for your first adult passport.

I found myself in this position today. My parents never flew anywhere when I was growing up, and I never had the money to go abroad when teen DD was small. She then refused to go near an aeroplane as she go older. (I blogged about her first flight here).
Next year however we all want to go abroad for a family holiday / honeymoon after myself and Mr A get married. I also want to take Little Miss A on a plane sooner rather than later in case she decides she’s going to have a fear of planes too.

So my turn for the passport, and I received my documents back and a letter to state I needed to arrange an interview. The supporting information suggests that this interview will take approx half an hour, and whilst you can choose the location, you may not be able to choose the time or day.

I was actually able to choose the day and time as my nearest office wasn’t busy (I guess we’re coming out of holiday season now). I was able to choose out of three offices, only one of which was local to me within 20 miles.

The literature i quite strict and states that you must arrive ten minutes early, but if you’re too early you may be asked to go away and come back later.
I was in a slight panic yesterday as I didn’t know where I was going, and also coupled with worrying about my Dad, I don’t think I knew whether I was coming or going this morning.

Part of me was a bit miffed that I had to go and prove that I was born in the UK. I realise now after attending the interview that I was wrong to think that. It’s as much to protect your identity as it is to prove it.
You are not allowed to use any paper documents to prove any information during the interview and each interview is recorded.

I arrived and got through the security of the intercom system and then there were security buttons on each door before I reached the office. I was the only person in the reception, but I knew that once the receptionist typed in my reference number then my photo would appear on the screen, and if I wasn’t me then I wouldn’t be allowed to be interviewed.

I didn’t have to wait very long and was greeted professionally by my interviewer. They do tell you throughout that this isn’t an interrogation, but you still feel like you may make a mistake even when they ask you to spell your name.

I was asked lots of questions about what I had filled out on the form, as well as confirming address history, parents birth dates and locations etc. All the questions were standard, and I was advised to check my credit history once every year to make sure no one has been opening bank accounts etc in my name.

The whole process was enlightening, and part of me is glad I went through it, but the other part of me still thinks it’s a waste of taxpayers money and my time. Yes I could be a terrorist (but so could Joe Blogs who applied for his passport in 2006 just before this system came into place).
Yes someone could have stolen my identity (but many people’s identity are stolen on a daily basis without needing a passport to do so.

Apparently my passport application will only be approved after further checks by the passport office, yet I should receive my passport within five working days!?!?!?

The Waiting Game

September 13, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’ll apologise now if this post comes across not making sense, rambled, long, short etc.

My Dad went into hospital this morning for an operation to remove his kidney. Quick background history – he is 81 years old, been a drinker all his life, recently had a polyp removed from his back passage, slightly deaf.

My Mum hasn’t been with him at the pre op assessments, but she was this morning, and whilst we all thought he was having his kidney removed because it’s diseased, she found out it’s because there was a tumor in the tube. That puts a slightly new slant on things, but we still don’t know anything about this tumor, it may be benign (hopefully).

My Mum forgot to ask how long the operation would take, but was told to phone at lunchtime after an 8.15 operation this morning. I kept myelf busy this morning, but since about 2pm I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything. I’ve tried to tidy the house, been food shopping (not sure what I bought), and still no news. I caved in a called my Mum at 3.30pm but she had phoned twice and they hadn’t received any news as of yet so she was phoning back at 4pm.

It’s now nearly 5pm and I am really not sure what to do which is why I’m writing this. I know that no news really is good news in this case, but come on how difficult can it be for one person to relay information for family to be told how he is. I know he may be in recovery etc, but let’s hear how the operation went for goodness sake.

Playing the waiting game.

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