Category Archives: Shopping Ho

Stickin it to the man

Film and TV legends descend on Cas Vegas


Castleford lived up to its local nickname Cas Vegas yesterday when the stars and their cars were out in force at Xscape for Knightcon 2012 .

Shoppers were given a rare (free) chance to see characters from Star Wars and Doctor Who, props from various B movies, and cars from The A Team, Batman, Back to the Future, Knight Rider, Only Fools and Horses, Dukes of Hazzard and Scooby Doo. OK, they were  all very convincing copies, lovingly made by enthusiasts, but it was good fun anyway. Cars, movie props and lookie-likies were provided by Hullywood Entertainment. With the sun beating down, we could have been in L.A.  Maybe.

Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo

DeLorean from Back to The Future

R2D2 bleeped at my daughter in a friendly manner:

“What does this button do? Uh-oh”

She preferred the ride on toys to the Star Wars convention going on in the background (I never understood the appeal of Star Wars, or Muppets in Space, as we call it.)






But she got more than she bargained for when a remote control dalek  suddenly came alive behind her!

“What’s this? I’m too young to appreciate this!”

“Mummy, what’s that dolly for?”


Comper turned gatekeeper

Comper turned gatekeeper
Birth of Veg-us by JelliBotti

Birth of Veg-us by JelliBotti

Birth of Venus by Botticelli

Birth of Venus by Botticelli

I’ve never really hidden the fact that I’m a comper, but I’m not some mad keen fanatic who will fill in every entry form of every company trying to collate your details. Nor am I the gambling type, addicted to scratchcards and the like.

Comping for me has become a means to an end, a hobby with major rewards, that can be great fun! If you’re a photographer, writer, or a bit of a wit with slogans, it can be quite lucrative…and tax-free, yay!

My favourite websites are if you’re looking for a particular prize (a holiday, or an XBox, for instance) or is good if you have a particular talent; it has a section on creative comps that can get you and your family all inspired. I also subscribe to Compers News, which has paid for itself many times over and there’s something comforting about having a hard copy mag to read (I’m old school.)

I’ve roped my husband and kids into all sorts of adventures, dressed the kids up as aliens and pirates for photo comps, we’ve all gone looking for geocaching treasure to win a £50 voucher for an outdoor adventure shop, and my husband and I even recreated the famous “Here’s Johnny!” scene in The Shining, to win…ahem…a ton of Max Factor makeup.

Make-up aside, the whole family reap the rewards of my comping, and we’ve enjoyed prizes large and small, from exciting little packets that come through the post for the kids, to a family membership to RHS and a holiday in Florida.

People who moan “I never win anything, me” probably don’t make much of an effort, or if they have, they need to comp smarter, not harder! I had a lot of success during my baby years, submitting photos and stories to the likes of Prima Baby Expert, because they are targeting a smaller group within the population – parents. And a percentage of those parents won’t have the energy to take part, which increases your chances of winning even more! (That’s what I like to tell myself, although I reckon most of us parents are in the same boat; when the kids go to bed, we all need something to make those long evenings fly by!)

I restrict my comping by asking myself (1) are we having fun? and (2) is it taking up too much time that I should be spending on the kids? Most of the time, I involve the kids as well, like in the making of The Fruitgitive, a spoof of the famous dam scene in The Fugitive, recreated with fruit and veg…

That one was to win £50K for Barclays. I didn’t win the comp that time, because let’s face it, I’m no Sofia Coppola! We had great fun making it though, on the windiest day of the year, with a paddling pool and slide with a hose running water , slowly turning the garden into a quagmire.

We did win another comp though, making a film where my kids spent a lovely day on the farm. We went to London to watch it at a VIP film festival and won a Leapster games console as a runner-up. In fact, to date, we’ve never had to buy any games consoles, because we tend to win them! My daughter won a Nintendo DS in a rapping competition (a three year old talking street is a disturbing thing, and I found it very odd that she memorised a rap wot I wrote. )

And now, I’m poacher turned gatekeeper. I’m experiencing competitions from the other side of the fence. I’m running a Crime Writing Competition in association with the British Thyroid Foundation and Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate. The winner will receive two tickets to the VIP launch party for the Crime Novel of the Year on Thursday 19 July, plus dinner, bed and breakfast at the sumptuous Cairn Hotel.

All you have to do is write a short story (max 2,000 words) on the theme “Go for the Throat!” and send it with a donation for £3. All proceeds to the British Thyroid Foundation. Please refer to the website for full terms and conditions on how to set out your story.

App-y daze are here again!

App-y daze are here again!


Last week, I went to London for a photoshoot for Prima Baby . Five mums have been chosen by Prima Baby Expert to review apps on the

(provided courtesy of ) and each phone has been loaded up with apps to help with their “mummy issues”.

I will be having training tomorrow to get the most out of my new smartphone,

but for now, I’ve compiled a Mummy Dream Wishlist

of new apps to make all our lives easier:

Housework App – a housework fairy that cleans and cooks? All for 69p?

Sleep App – to help u get a good night’s sleep (or the best you can, anyway)

Fit App – keep fit in your sleep….What?! No-one’s invented that yet? Oh well, better try these instead:

My Fitness Pal  – track calories, exercise and weight loss.

(This app has a huge database of foods so it’s easy to look up nutritional info and plan your meals.)

Nike Boom – will sync your music to your workout depending on tempo. Also offers motivational tecniques from top athletes.

Fit Radio – “DJ-engineered” music to amp up your workout.

I also had the rare opportunity to catch up with my gorgeous new baby nephew. We live 4 hours apart, so I was really grateful for the chance to meet up with my brother’s family in London.

It wasn’t pre-planned, but I had photos taken with my beautiful nephew. I’m glad to say, he totally stole my limelight!

My nephew’s such a good boy, and would make a great baby model. He had  a great “conversation” with a baby girl, they were playing footsie and giggling. It was a joy to watch! I wish I could bottle the sound of babies giggling, it’s the most joyous sound in the world.

And when the pictures are published, tongues will be wagging in the playground when the other mums see me with another baby!