Friday, 29 November 2013

Had just opened this up to write, and was disturbed by the postman with an array of exciting packages! 
- My last paycheck from SF Primary School for 3 days I didn't actually work.  It was half-term but I was technically still employed by them.
- A £5 gift voucher.
- A new book from an unknown person, I'm guessing to celebrate my Nanowrimo victory?

Anyway, where was I?

Well...  November wasn't the best month for me, for one reason.  I managed to total my car, which was pretty shit, and has made me feel pretty shit for a good long time.  It has not been an enjoyable experience and not one I'd recommend to anyone.
Those of you who read this, mostly know the whole sorry tale and I'm basically done with talking about it.

For the last week and a bit, I've been driving a late 2011 new style Ford Ka around.  Before my accident, I'd been kind of thinking it would be time for a car upgrade perhaps within the new 2-3 years, and when that time did come, it would be very exciting. 
Only because it was forced upon me, I haven't really enjoyed having and getting to know a new car.  It IS a lovely car, easy to drive and is pretty to look at, but I'm still getting a bit anxious BEFORE I get in it to drive.  But once I am in the car, and driving, I'm absolutely fine and can almost enjoy it.

Hopefully, once I start my new job next Monday, it'll all become less of a brain-clog and I'll have other things to dominate my brain.  Which I'm sure I will, based on the visit I had yesterday!

I'd (perhaps mistakenly) believed that I'd have a week of hand-over with the teacher who is leaving.  Not the case, I discover.  She's here until Christmas, so we actually have 3 weeks!  I'm absolutely 100% on-board with that and it'll be useful time to have while I get to grips with the quirks of a new school.  Luckily, the teacher I'm with, C, seems very nice and genuinely very pleased to have an extra pair of hands while she's heavily pregnant.  As well as someone to take over PE lessons.  ;)

In other news...  The past few months I've really been enjoying the screenings to cinemas that the National Theatre have been doing.  Recently I've seen Hamlet and Frankenstein, which were both very, very good.  I've now bought tickets for Coriolanus and War Horse.  I'm particularly excited for War Horse.  I've heard fantastic things about it, and even looked into going down to London for it over the summer, but tickets were £70+.  No thanks.  So to do it for £12, 10 minutes from my house, is perfect.  Of course, it's not quite the same as seeing it live, but from my experiences so far, it's a very admirable second.

In more news...  I completed my 4th winning Nanowrimo novel.  It was definitely the hardest one I've done so far for a number of reasons:
1:  It turns out realistic, modern fiction is not my favourite genre to write in.  It started well, but then 30K to 40K was some of the worst, most boring stuff I've ever written.  It was just starting to pick up as I hit 50K.  Typically.
2:  My brain was just elsewhere this month.  In past years, I've really enjoyed it and enjoyed exerting the effort and stubbornness required.  This year it just felt like work.  And not particularly fun work.
3:  Before Nano started, I was sure I loved my plot.  But as I wrote, it turned out that I didn't love it as much as I thought.

But anyway, I "won" and completed the 50K on Wednesday 27th.  The previous year, I'd finished on the 18th, which just goes to show how much more of a slog it was this year.  But even so, there was only one day this month that I didn't write a word.  And that was the 2nd, the day of my accident, where I was only good for cranking up my heating as high as I could, but still shaking on the sofa, watching a really stupid, mindless DVD and popping a sleeping pill that took ages and ages to work.  Fun times.

In yet more news...  The new Waitrose at the end of my road opened its doors yesterday.  It has seemingly been a long time coming.  If I remember correctly, the first murmurings I heard of it was a letter through my door not long after I first moved in.  Perhaps it was November 2011.  There were long delays in planning (I emailed Waitrose to ask if it was actually happening or not) and then they seemed to spend an incredible length of time just not doing very much.  They took some hedges down the better part of a year ago, dumped some building supplies down, then nothing happened for a long time.
But once they started to actually build, it's gone up quite quickly.  They've messed around with the road layout outside, making a filter lane to turn into the car park, which is handy I guess.  Although personally I still wouldn't want to turn right out of the new car park onto the road.  At pretty much any time beyond first thing and night time, the road is pretty busy.  Luckily, I pretty much only ever turn left out of my road, which is easy.

Still, it will be nice to have a new supermarket at the end of the road.  My next nearest shop is a good 20 minute walk away, which is a bit far when you just want a paper or a chocolate bar.  So to have one 5 minutes away is very handy indeed.

I haven't gone over to have a look at it yet, because I'm waiting in for a parcel.  It's coming via courier, which is a pain, because my experience of them is that they are notoriously rubbish at everything.  And if you miss them, it's a right pain to actually get your hands on the parcel.  If it was just good old Royal Mail, it wouldn't matter, because it would just go back to the sorting office, which is a short drive away.  A sorting office for a courier firm could be, quite literally, anywhere.  So...  I'm just waiting for this item, THEN I might get out to look at Waitrose.  And I need to go to the garden centre next door to it for a Christmas present for someone anyway.  So I can kill two birds with one stone.

I think...  That might be it!

Monday, 4 November 2013


In the spirit of distracting myself from my own brain, I thought I'd do a post to tell you about

Basically, it's a site now run by Tescos (although clearly not actively promoted by them, it seems to be a bit on the "shhh!"), where, in exchange for reviews and some social media activity, they'll send you free products to test out.

I discovered BzzAgent about 2.5 years ago and joined for the freebies.  It does take a while for the ball to start rolling, but 2013 has been, for me, my year of free stuff.  I've done 13 campaigns for them since January this year, which is high.

I thought I'd tell about the campaigns I've done, and the products I've tried -

Vanish Oxy Action Stain Remover - Good product.  Not something I'd have bought myself, but I do find myself adding it to washes, especially light washes.  It seems to do a good job on those annoying little stains.

Simple Facial Wipes - Didn't like these much.  They left my skin feeling clammy and itchy.  And they had a funny smell.  Used a few then threw the rest away.

Halls XS - Mini sweets, a bit like Tic-Tacs.  There was a mint flavour, which was impossibly strong for me, and a lemon flavour that tasted like bad medicine.  Halls usually make cough/throat sweets, but these were very different.  Didn't like them.  And from other reviews I saw, other people were similarly confused about what market these were being aimed at.  I've not seen these in the shops since, so either they've gone back for re-development, or the idea bombed completely.

Azera - A coffee, made by Nescafe.  I was excited to try this campaign.  I like coffee and Nescafe is a good brand.  But I was disappointed by this.  Very wishy-washy flavour, very blah.  Threw a good chunk of it away.  I wouldn't buy again.  I have seen it in the shops though, so clearly some people liked it.

Tesco Free From - I was sent some coupons to spend on whatever I wanted from the Free From range.  The things I tried were okay, from what I can recall.  Although I remember the frozen pizza being a let down.

Veet EasyWax - I'm afraid I wimped out on trying this in the end...  Ended up selling it.

Scholl Dry Skin Instant Recovery Cream - Intended for your feet, I actually use it on my face from time to time.  It's been very good for some extra-dry flaky patches I've had.  I'm not sure I'd buy it again, but still a good product.

Tesco Entertaining Cheese range - Again some vouchers to spend on anything from the range.  Hit and miss.  The goats cheese wrapped in pancetta was fantastic, whereas the pesto and mozzarella was blah.  A bit expensive, so not something I'd buy again.

Batiste - A dry shampoo, dry conditioner and a dry "plumping agent".  Well, the plumping agent was something I was never going to use.  The dry conditioner I've used a little bit.  And the dry shampoo I've really liked and found myself using quite regularly!  This is actually a product I will buy again!

Dylon Fabric Dyes - My product never arrived, so I've been unable to test that.

LowLow - They make little snack pots of cheese, crackers and chutney.  They were very difficult to track down in the shops, but when I finally did find one, I was very impressed.  Tasty!  I'd buy again.

Tesco Finest Chocolate - Still testing this.  Perfectly okay, but no better than its rivals.  I probably wouldn't choose it over another brand.

Havaianas Wellies - No actual wellies to test, unfortunately!  But in exchange for a few social media comments and a questionnaire, I'm entered in a competition to win a pair.  We'll see!

And so you see, a few "absolute no", a few "not too bads" and a few "liked it!"  Hit and miss.

I've also recently started testing with The Savvy Circle.
So far I've done Ariel liquitabs, Lenor, and I'm about to start on Febreeze car fresheners.  Which is ironic considering my car related trauma of late!