Skip to content

Archive for


Were You a Winner? Royal Wedding Survival Kit

The feature we wrote about the Nelsons Royal Wedding Rescue Kit and the giveaway with the elegant clutch bag was extremely popular.

The winner was C Rubicono, Peterborough

The ten Runners Up were
L Robinson, London
F Scholz, Aberdeen
Elizabeth Smith, Norwich
J O’Neill, Shepperton
M McCue, London
A Hoyland, Abingdon
C McLeary, London
M Purser, Towcester
W Barbe, Milton Keynes
M Baguley, Manchester

To be sure to receive details of all features and giveaways click on the Sign Me Up button on the right.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor


Giveaway Winner – Brother Labeller

The feature we wrote about the Brother P-touch Labeller included a popular giveaway.

We are pleased to say the winner is C Farley from East Sussex.

Click on the Sign Me Up button on the right to be sure to receive details of future features and giveaways.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor


The Weakest Link – An Invitation to Appear

Anne Robinson publicity picture

When I was asked to appear on The Weakest Link my instant response was Thanks, but no thanks. Later I thought about that kneejerk reaction and tried to analyse my reasons.

I think it was all about not wanting to be humiliated. In public. With no way of retaliating because the reality of the programme is that anything that doesn’t fit into the humiliation scenario is edited out before the programme is aired. So there is no opportunity for clever irony or spontaneous wit in response to Anne Robinson the dominatrix persona.

It is a cruel programme. One that makes me cringe at its naked enjoyment of the humiliation. Embarrassment, indignation and toecurling makes me turn off, feeling ashamed for watching it.

Other cruelty on television can be seen when Alan Sugar brutally says You’re fired. When MasterChef contestants are told their food is inedible, or worse. When any contestant is laughed off the stage in some low level talent show. All this public brutality rubs off and trickles down through our society that sees it as OK to be a bully. We become inured to it. A bit like the brutality of boxing, after a while what we were at first disgusted by we see as the norm and gradually becomes acceptable.

So who will take over from Anne, a slightly built woman whose dysfunctional personality has brought her fame and fortune.  The answer is no one. The BBC programme will cease in Spring 2012. Not a minute too soon.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor


Evolution is what we need in politics – Change to the Alternative Vote

What is it that creates such anger and scaremongering in the press about the Alternative Vote?

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to pass judgment on our current voting system and consider whether it might not be improved by allowing us to cast our votes more honestly.

It’s not a vote for a revolution; only for a small, evolutionary change. We hardly ever get consulted about these things, and it’s only thanks to producing a hung Parliament that we have the opportunity next week.

Alternative Voting means all MPs would have the support of a majority of their voters. Compare that with the 2010 election when two thirds of MPs lacked majority support, the highest figure in British political history. How can that be acceptable?

Alternative Voting System Explained:

  • There is no need to redraw constituency boundaries
  • It penalises extremist parties who are unlikely to gain many second-preference votes
  • It eliminates the need for tactical voting, so you can vote without fear of wasting your vote.
  • It encourages candidates to chase second- and third-preferences, which lessens the need for negative campaigning – don’t we all get fed up with that – as a candidate doesn’t want to alienate the supporters of another candidate whose second preferences they want.

AV is alive and active in many areas of our lives already:

  • Leadership elections for Labour and Liberal Democrats
  • Elections for UK parliamentary officials including Select Committee Chairs
  • Elections for the Academy Award for Best Picture
  • Australian House of Representatives
  • Millions of people in membership organisations, businesses and trade unions internal elections
  • Most Student Union elections
  • Irish Presidential election
  • Numerous American City, Mayoral and district elections

AV is the best system when you’re out to elect a single winner.

If you don’t bother to vote next week you should never again complain about the political system.  If you are swayed by the scaremongering of the No vote camp, we don’t deserve to think of ourselves as intelligent citizens.

So please, turn out and vote. Make your vote count. Decide on the facts, not the frenzy. Go for fairness, transparency and greater democracy.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor

Mary Ann Sieghart, The i 25 April 2011
The Electoral Reform Society


Cheap Flights, Flights for 50p …

Reflection of plane on cloud with Brocken Spectre © Pintail Media

Reflection of plane on cloud with Brocken Spectre © Pintail Media

We loved this YouTube clip sent in by a reader … hits several nerves. Very, very funny.

Val Reynolds Editor

Reflection of plane on cloud with Brocken Spectre
The same effect is often seen in mountains
© Pintail Media 


Spring Clean your Energy Bills + Giveaways

Declutter your bills this spring with the OWL Pink Micro – we have THREE to GIVEAWAY – see below

Think pink go green! … it says on the box – very true in this case! The unit is a somewhat lurid pink making it hard to miss! (husband’s description) – there is a reason!* – wife’s response.

This OWL Pink Micro eco gadget is a special limited edition version of the best selling OWL Micro electricity monitor. A small investment of £25.99 will raise funds to help 46,000 women a year fight breast cancer* and save you £135** on your yearly bills.

With the last of the ‘big six’ energy companies, EDF Energy, set to hike its energy prices this Spring, there is no better time to invest in an OWL Pink Micro.

The unit comes with an easy to follow instruction leaflet, batteries are supplied.

The display shows time, watts/ hour power, costs (after programming in the electricity cost charged by the supplier).

We had a lot of fun with this.

Be aware though that it is extremely unlikely the base line power usage will be zero (we have a base line of 120 watts); most homes have at least some power running somewhere eg central heating, fridges, alarm systems etc. Also it could be rather easy to get obsessed with switching off everything – we did to begin with! Just remember we all have to use some power in life; so a sense of proportion will help to keep the peace in the household! By the way it is unlikely the unit is sensitive enough to pick up low power units like individual light bulbs etc.

However, if the unit succeeds in reducing power bills then it could be said to have saved costs – and to a small extent – the planet!

We like!

Christopher Johns, contributing author

The Pink OWL Micro costs just £25.99, available to buy in all good high street retailers and at

* For further information about Breakthrough or breast cancer visit or call the charity’s free telephone number on 08080 100 200

** Source: moneysavingexpert


Just send an email to the with Pink OWL Micro in the subject box and your full contact details in the text area. Last day for entering the draw is 15 May 2011. One entry per household.

To keep up to date with future giveaways click on the Subscribe button on the right.


All Over the Place!


Lady Boothby


Lady Boothby, a really beautiful climbing fuschia, is on offer in a price clearance from Thompson & Morgan

The plant, with two-toned flowers on red stems, is the world’s only climbing fuchsia, suitable for pergolas, trellises, arches, walls, fences and will give years of colour. It will climb up to ten feet and spread over three feet in sun or semi shade, flowering from June to September.

The Thompson & Morgan website gives brilliant instructions on how to grow and aftercare information.

Current prices while stocks last are 3 jumbo plugs for £7.99, 5 jumbo plugs £9.99, and 15 jumbo plugs at half price £14.99. At prices like these you could afford to buy several and give some away as gifts.

Delivery will be by end May 2011, so get your order in now and look forward to a plant that’s sure to attract lots of interest!

TERMS: To receive these great prices, please add Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’ to your shopping basket and enter offer activation code AFLADYB to activate special offer prices.


Marie Harnett, Artist, Rising Star

The Alan Cristea gallery in Cork Street has an exhibition of some eighty extraordinarily fine pencil drawings by Marie Harnett inspired by film stills, including depictions of Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Keira Knightley. As part of her technique Marie uses high magnification head glasses to produce these drawings.

All these images are from the film ‘Black Swan’.

Dressing Room

Portrait, 2010

Swan, 2010

We’ll keep an eye on this young artist, we think she’ll go far. It might just be a good time to invest in a picture or two. They had nearly sold out on 8 April, so better get a move on if you would like one of them. The show is on until 21 April. Catch it if you can.

Val Reynolds, Editor


Sowing Tips from Experts

It’s always good coming across a commonsense, straightforward account of how to do something and here are some of the books I refer to frequently for help when getting seeds and equipment together:

Anna Pavord – Growing Food: Eminently readable, easy to digest, beautifully illustrated with line drawings, much in the style of Dorothy Hartley. Anna gives details on a raft of planting plans. One plan I was attracted to was the Potager’s Garden where she advocates some lovely combinations of flowers and vegetables. Much in the way I grow our vegetables and fruit in fact, but she gave me some ideas of companion planting I haven’t used before.

Raymond Poincelot wrote Organic No-Dig, No-weed Gardening which I read cover to cover when I came across it some years ago. It is full of great ideas, clear instructions, and gives a clear understanding of his concept.

Allotment Gardening: An Organic Guide for Beginners by Susan Berger is another book I have by my bedside and is regularly referred to.

Geoff Hamilton‘s Gardeners World … is a bible I refer to frequently. He was my kind of gardener, self reliant and imaginative when looking for solutions, without going too mad on devices, but using commonsense … He gives very useful and clear instructions on how to construct inexpensive cloches.

And then I love reading Carol Klein’s Growing your own Garden. Bliss! I can hear her voice with the enthusiasm oozing out on every page! I have met her and she is just the same in real life. A great lady!

Trawling the Net I came across Madeleine Giddens’ website where she has put a clear and concise guide to sowing herb seeds. She gives useful links to seed suppliers and books to follow up.

I hope you find these helpful – if nothing else it is a booklist for winter reading!

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor


Giveaway Winners – Book & Plug Plants

Anti-Cancer, the book we recommend highly to anyone scared of, frightened by, the thought of cancer. Written by a doctor who has survived ten years after his diagnosis of brain cancer, it is reassuring, inspiring and very readable.

The winners of this great book are:
S Pearmain, Middlesex
B Smith, Argyll
T Rylatt, Leeds
M Jarman, Surrey
K Barrett, Huddersfield


Kathleen Mallard – Lobelia Erinus – 10 plug plants Thompson & Morgan

An old fashioned double rosebud flower grown by the Victorians, ideal for hanging baskets, patio containers, window boxes and front bedding as it has a close knit habit and forms a perfect ball. Its height and spread is 15cm/6 inches.

The winners are:
J Vaughan, Worcs
J Rayner, Derby
F Scholz, Aberdeen
A Johnson, Angus
R Holtom, Birmingham

Congratulations everyone.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor

%d bloggers like this: