Sunday, 21 November 2010

By George Davina! Where did you get that hat?

Well it's a bllimmin' good job I'm slap bang in the middle of my "Buy Nothing New" month as I could have easily found myself in a bidding war last night with Davina McCall for one of Boy George's trademark hats.  With a starting bid of £200, it was very tempting to raise my hand in a cheeky manner during the after-dinner auction at the fundraising event known as Platform 12.

The evening was hosted by the very lovely Davina, on behalf of Focus12, the drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity of which she is a patron.   The gorgeous pink Philip Treacy hat donated by Boy George was just one of many lots and raffle prizes on offer to raise some much-needed cash.

Based in Bury St Edmunds, Focus12 supports people who suffer from addictions often at their most desperate times of need and last night it was hard not to be moved by the personal accounts of two former addicts, whose fate would clearly have been so much different without the help of the charity and its Chief Executive Chip Somers. Focus12 has helped them to rebuild their lives from a point of despair to one where they can proudly enjoy "normal" family life again, something that most of us take for granted.  It was so easy to see how the organisation has made such a huge difference, giving a second chance to those who really need the charity's support. The Platform12 event was held to raise awareness of the charity's work as well raise funds and it brought together a whole host of trustees, supporters, celebrities and people who Focus12 has helped over the years since it launched in 1997.

Of course, I kid myself that I could have afforded the beautiful pink flash of celebrity millinery, or that I would have got away with even winking my intention to bid with my husband close by.  With the lot fetching much more than he might allow, I didn't dare raise my hand.  After an entertaining set of bids, Davina was the lucky winner of the hat and thanks to the power of social-media, her winning bid was reported by the man himself from backstage at his concert in Rotterdam.
Twitter: Boy George " @thisisdavina Bought my hat at a charity auction for the Focus12 charity, good cause, top woman, goddess in fact!"

Blonde bombshells Abi Roberts & Tracey Smith
I may have missed out on a tweet from upon high, but our table made its mark elsewhere in the bidding wars, with my gorgeous and very funny pal, singer\songwriter and stand-up comic Abi Roberts successfully winning a day out at Westminster with Dr Dan Poulter MPIt was indeed a surprise last minute entry, but she most certainly got her man and I can't help wondering who will be the most entertained during the tour. I have a sneaky feeling that the honourable gentleman will enjoy being Abi's guide as much as she'll enjoy the visit.  Here she is celebrating her bidding coup with the Queen of Downshifting, Tracey Smith, who herself was in the mood for celebration with news that she's about to start shooting her new TV series, The Great Downshift

But the best news of all was that Focus12 raised almost £30,000 from the fundraising event, thanks to the wonderful donations, the keen bidders and raffle ticket sales. With serious cuts in government funding, this money can be nothing but a valuable contribution to fund the charity's excellent work.

And last but certainly not least, huge congratulations go to Sarah Stamp, the charity's event organiser for pulling together an amazing evening.  Thanks Sarah, it was a privilege to support Focus12 last night.....and er....should Boy George fancy donating one of his other hats to another good cause...please send him in this direction won't you!

Now after such a late night, I feel the urge to head for the kettle for a much needed  "morning after the night before" cup of tea.  I think a slap-up brucnch might be in order too.  Now while I go off and potter in the kitchen if you're inspired to raise funds for Focus12, you can find out more about the charity and ways in which you can help at the website

Added 23/11/2010 - the brilliant guests who joined me on the table.

 In this photo L-R: The very gorgeous and totally clever Nadine, friend, teacher and govenor extraordinaire; Adrian aka husband of mine, clever sod and strategic thinker; Roger Wright; Dawn Kelly and  Martin Kelly (Roger can regularly be seen treading the boards of the West End as the leading man in many a blockbuster show, including Thriller and The Lion King.  Dawn and Martin are more your "behind the scenes" professionals, responsible for a vast array of BAFTA nominated and winning productions (and will be producing Tracey's fabulous new show too).

And more thanks go to Gareth Hughes, Jennifer Howze, Abi Roberts and Tracey Smith.  As director of photography Gareth will soon be working with Tracey, Dawn and Martin in their up-and-coming project. Many of my blogging friends will also recognise journalist and blogger Jen as one of the co-founders of Cybermummy.  Of course, Abi and and Tracey need no further introduction, except that Tracey is a trustee of NACOA, the National Association of Children of Alcoholics and having grown up with an alcohol dependent mother whom she loved dearly has every empathy for the work of Focus12 and the folk that they work hard to help.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The hole in the wall

For those who have switched from watching paint dry to following the story about my cavity wall insulation, the good news is that after much investigation we are indeed the proud owners of a pre-insulated home.

Mind you, it took a survey arranged by the Energy Saving Trust on my behalf to reach this conclusion. I had contacted the original building company, who didn't know what they had installed at the time, but confirmed that it would most definitely be insulated by cavity wall filling or some other thing called  a void! 

A.... VOID?  I'm still no clearer on that one, but it sounds like a synonym for cavity to me  They might as well have called it a hole  Of course we could have delicately balanced ourselves in the loft to tease out a sneaky peek, but with the reputation that precedes me I would have probably ended up with my foot through the ceiling.  So I decided to call out to the experts instead.

Without any further ado, a representative from the Mark Group turned up today, drilled a hole in the wall, and investigated the state of our cavity, using the survey lens pictured above.  It really was as easy as that and took no more than 10 minutes.  The verdict was, it's a well packed wall...hoorah!

So, with the cavity wall insulation verified, I'm now pondering what other steps I could take for Baglady's Living ASAP pledge programme.  Well, I did plant up a batch of spring bulbs the other day, instead of waiting to buy them in pots during March.  I wonder if that counts?   At least they'll look cheery and I'm happy I've saved us plenty of pounds too. 

Anyway, back to sorting out holes in the wall. More information about cavity wall insulation is available here or at the Energy Saving Trust website. Further details about Baglady's ASAP (as SUSTAINABLY as possible) pledge  programme can be found at

Monday, 1 November 2010

Shopping Therapy

After an expensive month of birthday celebrations, half-term holidays and very random treats, I am back on my laptop pondering the opportunity to go cold turkey and take a real break from spending.  Some people might think I'm totally bonkers....with it being November and the run up to Christmas and all that.  But for me it's the perfect time to promise myself that with the exception of food for the family and essential toiletries, I will not buy anything new throughout November.

Over the last few years I've become pretty good at avoiding the temptation to splash out on all forms of  consumer crap but I'm aware that in recent months I've thrown more than a few pounds down the drain on stuff that I might not have missed

So given that November 27th is officially BUY NOTHING DAY, I thought that I might as well get into practice and kick off my pledge this afternoon.  It'll be good for my bank balance and my pledge to live more sustainably.   It's just a shame I didn't think about it earlier, I'd have saved myself a trip into town this morning as well as £14.00 on a child's tennis that I found in a sale.  I really should have advertised a request on Freecycle or at least put a shout out at my local bartering group.  

Oh well, I'll be better prepared next time and with the silly season ready to hit in full force, at least I'm feeling more relaxed that I won't be caught up in it.  I'm just looking forward to emerging again in December, ready to enjoy the more simple aspects of the festive season.

Anyway, if you want to join me in this money-saving challenge and share the idea with your friends, more information about Buy Nothing Day can be found at