Friday, 24 February 2017

A Raffle... or is it a Prize Draw?

I had a chap come to the door a few weeks back, asking for money.

It was for some nearby sports club which I was vaguely aware of - I pass it on the way to McDonalds - and in return for giving them some cash they would enter you into a competition to win something or other.  I was in a reasonable mood and the guy didn't talk for too long about the good cause so I gave him whatever it was he wanted, he gave me a leaflet with a number on which I kept hold of in case I won a prize (yeah, like that happens!), and he went on his way.

I didn't think any more of it until the other night, when another person came to the door.
 "Hi, I'm here to collect your subscription!"
 um.... what?!? I thought.  It felt like the man was the representative of some sort of protection racket that I had accidentally become involved in, and I wondered momentarily if declining would result in my car being keyed or having some other such misdemeanour visited upon me.
 Well, it turns out that the first guy had signed me up for a monthly payment to support the sports club.  Now, I'm more than happy to admit (on this blog, not to the mans face) that the first chap could well have talked about a subscription to me.  You see, I am in the habit of only listening to conversations for as much as I think is necessary.  When someone talks to me about a good cause, I can generally summarise the discussion down to:

I promote a good cause and I want you to give me some money

And beyond that, I don't really pay too much attention.  Good causes are generally something I am, within reason, happy to support, It's fairly unlikely that I'll be approached to donate to The Dog Poking Initiative or The Slap a Person Charity, so I generally figure that they're probably going to do something good with the money, and as long as they haven't annoyed me, and don't want too much of my disposable income, I'm happy to help.  I think part of this view comes from shopping with my grandmother - when we used to go shopping at a weekend, quite often at the supermarket there would be some good cause doing a bag pack.

If you're not familiar with a bag pack, it consists of a group of children, probably from a local scout troop or cricket club, who would badly pack your shopping in return for some change.  My grandmother would always want to know if it was a good cause, and I suspect that if it was down to her, she would only accept the offer of help if it was a charity that she approved of (usually a Donkey and Mare sanctuary - I'm not sure why donkeys and female equines are something she views so positively, but of course she's entitled to her opinion), so I took great delight in accepting child labour from any local cause, because it might have irritated her, and done it in such a way that she couldn't reasonably complain to me about it.

Anyway, I digress.  I explained to the man collecting subscriptions that I had been under the impression that I had just donated some money to the sports club to be entered into a raffle of some kind.  The first thing he was very quick to correct me on was that "it's not a raffle, it's a prize draw!"

Of course, the wonder that is the internet allows me to discover what is the definition of a raffle and of a prize draw.  According to the Collins English Dictionary, a raffle is "A raffle is a competition in which you buy tickets with numbers on them. Afterwards some numbers are chosen, and if your ticket has one of these numbers on it, you win a prize."

Which sounds a bit like a prize draw to me.

And to complete the circle, the Collins English Dictionary says that a prize draw is "a raffle or lottery"

I was planning to decline the mans kind offer to lighten my wallet of money anyway, but the defense of his prize draw as not being a raffle helped me to reach that conclusion at an accelerated pace, and he went on his way sans subscription monies.  And I have yet to have any mischief visited upon me.

To be quite honest, the ones I generally find most challenging are the ones that wait in the middle of the high street and try to trap you in conversation during your lunch break so that they can spend your limited time educating you about the difficulties in a certain far away country and how a monthly donation from you could make all the difference - I wouldn't mind so much if it was someone with a collection box and you could just give them a quid and move on, but now you find yourself spending twenty minutes filling in a form with your bank details so you can give them a tenner every month.  And then, because they've taken all your contact details as well, you then get bombarded with telephone calls about how this year has been a particularly bad year, and if you could just say yes they can automatically increase up your monthly donation to four hundred pounds because that'll really make a difference.

Do let me know in the comments how you feel about being approached for donations!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Mattresses Part 2

I told my son to pretend to sleep on his new mattress so I could take a photo.  I've never seen him sleep in this pose, ever.

Hello dear readers, who have been following my mattress adventures with interest.  In my last blog I was doing my best to tackle the many different types of mattress, in order to buy the best ones to satisfy my family for the years ahead.

Eventually I plumped for a memory foam mattress for my son, and a hybrid mattress (I think it's like a hybrid bike, but less sporty) for me and my wife.

The mattresses arrived, and their installation went swimmingly well, to be honest.

My son's mattress prior to unwrapping.  I think it was more fun at this point.
Ours was quite exciting, because it had been vacuum packed.  What this meant was that when I punctured the plastic wrapping it started hissing and magically inflating itself in a rather satisfying yet unsettling way that makes you wonder if it's actually supposed to do that, or whether I've just managed to destroy a brand new mattress.

My mattress comes with many icons.  It's a bit like my phone in that when I press them nothing happens.

As an aside, I've not seen any warnings that the new mattresses don't absorb vomit, so perhaps I'll have to try that out.

But in summary, they both seem to be good mattresses, and we've all been sleeping better!  In fact, I think I'll go get some sleep now...

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


Mattresses aren't things that I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about.  In fact, I'd go so far to say that I probably spend less than 30 seconds in a day thinking about mattresses.  Maybe even less than 10.

Until now.

Because the mattress purchased with our bed nine years ago has seen better days - on my side it has a definite groove where I've persistently laid on it for 3,000 days or so, and when my back played up last weekend the lack of mattressy support made for some tough nights.

I'm giving even more thought to mattresses because our spare bed mattress is absolutely dreadful, about an inch thick and totally unsupporting, it used to be on my son's bed until I realised just how bad it was, and swapped it for the spare bed mattress (that one virtually never being used).

But the range is desperately confusing.

Pocket Sprung sounds very good, and I think is the same as our current mattress, so there's something to be said for getting a like for like mattress.  However, I'm tempted by memory foam - apparently it's absolutely awesome, except that some people don't like it.

I like the idea of memory foam for my son as well, because it's good for allergens (stopping them, not creating them!), which with my son having asthma is something to consider.  But apparently it gets warmer than normal mattresses, which I worry that in the summer months will mean that he'll be too hot.

Then I stumbled upon organic mattresses.

Apparently "normal" mattresses have got all kinds of horrid chemicals in, which infiltrate into people, especially children, and pollute their innards. Frankly, I don't know how I made it to the age I am now, recklessly sleeping on chemical-laden mattresses like a drug-addled daredevil.

So should I go and order a special mattress made out of magic beans and kitten poo for my son?  Perhaps it might soak up vomit though?  It gets very confusing.

And stressful, because I've taken on the responsibility of purchasing these mattresses, and I'm even struggling with where to go - all of the nice big bed superstores, with helpful and friendly staff, and where you could try a mattress out, seem to charge double the price of the small shop down a dodgy street where you'll get a cheap mattress which may or may not have been stolen.  And this is not even thinking about going online.

So, I'm faced with spending a good chunk of cash on some sleeping solutions which may or may not suit me, my wife, and our son, for years ahead.

I think I'll book into a hotel, at least then you can ask for a refund if you don't get a good nights sleep!

Do feel free to let me know in the comments any advice you have, it'll be much appreciated!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Need I say more

I assume the slimfast counteracts the spam fritter and chips?

Happy Valentines Day! :)

(PS - the back's been playing up a bit lately so I've had limited enthusiasm about sitting in a computer chair, more regular blogging will return when possible!)

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Pizza Day

So, apparently February the 9th is Pizza Day, and that seems like an ideal opportunity for me to talk about pizza.

Pizza is great, it's an amazing invention.  Take bread, put a layer of tomato sauce down as a sticky base, pop on your favourite meat and veggies, and then cheese on top, and cook the whole thing so that the cheese helps to fix the toppings to the pizza base, and serve.  Delicious.

There was a danger that sandwiches could argue that they are easier to hold, but lo! Calzones!

Personally I love a good selection of meat toppings, perhaps with some olives or peppers, or even a few jalapenos.  I quite like ham and pineapple, but my wife advises me that pineapple on pizza is just wrong, so I've not seen that variety of pizza for some time.

But to be honest, I don't really want to talk about pizza, it's just been a topic to get me writing.  I find that once I get writing it's a great deal easier to keep going.

You know what, it's early February, and it's cold. Of course it's cold, it's early February in northern England, it's going to be chilly.  I'm sure that I got a bit of sleet on my windscreen earlier.  Not a problem of course, but I'm looking forward to the weather warming up a little, although I do like waking up and it still being dark - summer brings its own challenges, particularly when my son wakes up early!

Speaking of my son, here's a photo of the toilet rolls in our bathroom - he decided to take the time to take a pen to them and number them all:

I do hope that we don't have to use them in order...

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Top Eight Snacks to eat during Superbowl 2017

In just a few hours, Superbowl 51 is going to kick off, New England Patriots versus the Atlanta Falcons.  Now, despite my long-term insistence that soccer is better, this post is all about the Superbowl.

So, I'm going to take a guess that Tom Brady and the Patriots are going to bring the thunder today for the win, but that is pretty much where my American Football knowledge ends, and instead I'm going to focus on the snacks!

So, what snacks should you have?  The key is having a variety of snacks, and I'd recommend ones that are sweet or salty, and not too sticky.  Anything that requires the use of cutlery is out.

Here's my top eight snacks, in reverse order:

8th : Chocolate - chocolate is great, but be warned, if you delay eating it, it melts in your hands and is not nice.  And too much will just give you a sugar rush.  Ration your chocolate if you're in for the long haul.

7th : Carrot sticks - bit of a bizarre one, but if you're on a health kick, carrot sticks are probably one of the best snacks you can get.  Quick to make, reasonably tasty (maybe with a dip) and healthier than anything else on this list!

6th : Pizza - now, I love pizza, but it's just a little bit stickier than other snacks, earning it a lowly sixth place.  Nevertheless, pizza is still good, and might even be slightly healthy if you load it up with veggies.

5th : Biscuits aka cookies - not as sugary as chocolate, you can plough through biscuits for longer before sugar rush becomes a problem.

4th : Chips/fries - American fries are a great idea, with some salt.  British chips are great too, thicker and make sure they're liberally doused with vinegar as well as salt.  Or get some chip spice!

3rd : Pretzels - slightly controversial, I'm not a huge fan of pretzels, but I don't know why, and for the Superbowl they tick all the boxes.  Dry, crunchy, salty, tasty!

2nd : Popcorn - popcorn, especially when still warm, and ideally a mix of sweet and savory popcorn is just awesome.

And finally...

1st: Crisps aka chips - Crisps are the winner for me, simply because they come in so many different flavours. Salted, cheese, meaty, prawn cocktail... the list goes on, and the types too, puffed corn, potato chips with ridges in, baked crisps.... you can get a huge variety of crisps, in a massive bowl, and just plough away at them!

Enjoy your snacks and go sports!

Not really sure what this picture has to do with Sunday, but I searched for Sunday in my favourite picture website and this came up...

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