Halloween DisneyLife

Belle, now 14, has always been massively in to Halloween. I think it’s something to do with the creativity of it. She really likes dressing up (remember last year she won that competition by dressing as a cereal killer?) and she loves doing make-up. I mean she really loves it. She has a massive make-up collection and she is the appointed make-up artist for this year’s school scary tours. (It’s a bit like a school show, but you walk around the school in small guided groups and spooky stuff happens to you. Kind of like a ghost train but you don’t get to sit down.)

She’s ace at it too. 

She did my Halloween make-up last year, and every time I look at the photo I forget that I have my eyes shut. Seriously, I just typed that, so I should know, but I still looked and saw big open eyes:

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Until about four hours ago, I thought I had my pension situation relatively sorted.

I’ve always signed up for work pension schemes, and when I went on maternity leave with Belle, aged 24, (me not Belle), I also set up a personal stakeholder pension plan, which I’ve been paying into ever since. I’ve recently had a bit of a pension spring clean, put everything into one big nice pot, and upped my personal contributions dramatically to £300 a month. My pension fund at the moment is worth about £60,000, which in my head is a massive amount of money.

So when Aviva challenged me to live on my predicted pension for a week, I thought it would be easy peasy.

Turns out that in the world of pensions, £60,000 is not a terribly large amount of money at all, as I discovered after doing a few sums on the Aviva Shape my Future tool.

Doing some realistic calculations about the sort of lifestyle I’d currently be able to afford on retirement has been a massive eye-opener. I’d always imagined that retirement would be a bit like having a day off work, but every single day. You know how sometimes you get a day off in the week with your partner, while the children are at school, so you go out somewhere nice for lunch, maybe have a mooch around some shops, or go for a stroll and a piece of cake at a local National Trust property? That’s what I imagine retirement will be like every day. Plus maybe a spot of light gardening, because obviously by the time I retire I will know all the Latin names for plants. (I don’t know how this happens, but older people always seem to know them, so I’m assuming it will just pop into my head at some point?)

Oh, and the odd cruise around the Norwegian fjords.

To give you an idea, I created a little mood board for my retirement. View Full Post

This is just a little post to help you get excited about Christmas!


Only about nine or so weeks to go now, and the underneath of our bed is already looking like a veritable grotto. I make no excuse at all for my love of Christmas. If you’re not a fan of anyone daring to so much as look at a mince pie before December 24th then you might want to look away from my blog for, ooh, a couple of months?

On my way home from work the other day I popped in the Taunton Visitor Centre, which is hosting the a Cards for Good Causes pop up Christmas shop. They’re selling masses of charity Christmas cards, and other bits and pieces like wrapping paper and other festive goodies.

Cards for Good Causes is the UK’s largest multi-charity Christmas card organisation, selling cards on behalf of over 250 charities, yet a lot of people have never even heard of it. Pop up shops open in libraries, churches, Tourist Information Centres, banks, and this year for the first time, even a ladies clothes shop in Bury St Edmunds. Fancy.

You can buy online too if you’re not near a pop up shop, so have a look at the Cards for Good Causes website here to find out more.

Anyway, to get to the point, I bought a load of cards, and now my card box at home has turned into more of a ‘card pile in the corner of the lounge’.

Here are my five favourites. Happy Christmas!

(The last one was the favourite of the woman in Specsavers, where I stopped afterwards to order new glasses.) View Full Post

I was a massive fan of Roald Dahl stories when I was little. I know, who isn’t? But I loved them. I had a tape of Fantastic Mr Fox that I listened to again and again and again, and my favourite books were probably The Witches, Danny Champion of the World and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (The latter was a particular favourite as it had a character in it called Josephine. Which is my name, in case you didn’t know.)

With Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it was never really the idea of a lifetime’s supply of chocolate that did it for me, it was always the factory itself. I desperately wanted to try the chewing gum that was a three course meal. As I read it, I would try to imagine the warm tomato soup trickling down the back of my throat, morphing into roast beef and gravy. I’m doing it now as I type.

I wanted to be there, seeing how things were made, seeing inventions come to life.

A couple of weeks ago I got about as close as I am ever likely to get when I went to visit the Thorntons chocolate factory. (Although I don’t remember them wearing sexy hair nets in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.)

Thorntons chocolate factory tour View Full Post

I’ve been thinking today about all of the different village halls and community centres I must have been to in my life.

I know that sounds boring, but bear with me. 

Some that I particularly remember:

  • The village hall I hired when I stupidly agreed to Bee having everyone in her class to her fifth birthday party. (Note to parents of girls – five year old boys are LOONS.) Also, I forgot the cake. Whoops.
  • The two different community halls where both Bee and Belle went to Badgers. (It’s St John Ambulance for kids. Not actual badgers.)
  • The hall I went to as a child to learn to be a majorette. I never quite got good enough to be allowed a baton in parades – only pom-poms. I did however master what has been forever known as my majorette face – the face I apparently pull whenever I am concentrating. (I expect I am making it now as I type, although you can’t see it obviously.)
  • The forty seven at least different halls that I’ve visited to offer moral support to my mum at a craft fair.

And these are just examples – I can think of masses of them, and I’m sure you can too.

The fact is that most us have probably been in dozens of village halls without really paying them any attention or appreciating the value they pay in the community. Village halls like this one at Creech St Michael – a little village about ten minutes from me:

Creech St Michael village hall Cif Community Clean View Full Post