Thursday, 28 March 2013

Bit of Admin

So, Google reader will soon be no more. For those millions of you that follow using this method, you might like to know that I'm setting up a bloglovin' account. I really have no idea what I'm doing, but apparently I have to paste this into a post: Follow my blog with Bloglovin So I have. x

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The trouble with tipping

There are several things you're supposed to be able to do when you're a grown-up. Tie your own shoelaces, for example. Or maybe rustle up a nice meal. These are things you are either taught by your parents, or can research via books or the internet, or maybe you even learn how to do them through trial and error. 

If there's one thing, however, designed to not make me feel like much of a grown-up, it's the thorny subject of tipping. Certain countries have pretty clear-cut rules about these things - in Finland, for example, tipping is pretty much unheard of, whereas if you visit the USA, you know instinctively that you are guaranteed to run out of dollar bills the minute you walk into the country. We've visited developing countries in the past, where tipping is also widespread - hotel porters, tour guides, drivers - they all get that little supplement to their wages. 

In the UK, however, it's less clear-cut. I tend to round up for taxi drivers. In restaurants, 10-15% seems to be the norm, depending on the service. 

However, am I supposed to tip my window cleaner? I'm guessing the answer is no, as I'm paying him cash anyway.

Do you still give tips to refuse collectors at Christmas? I remember my parents doing so, but to be honest, we now seem to have so many different groups collecting our detritus (recycling, household waste, plastics, green waste) that I'd quickly be flat broke. Plus, I wouldn't be able to identify most of them anyway.

How about the same for the milkman? Yes, we still have one, but I'm normally safely tucked up in bed when he arrives. I could leave a card on the doorstep, but to be honest we've had bottles of milk stolen from our doorstep before, so I'm not taking chances with cash.

Maybe you see your postman regularly? I know I certainly do...however, it never seems to be our regular chap in the run-up to Christmas, and I feel a bit aggrieved at giving a card to the holiday help.

My biggest area of uncertainty, however, is hairdressers and beauticians. Let's face it, a visit to the salon is expensive enough as it is, without adding on an extra couple of quid for the junior who washed your hair, plus the stylist, and - in some cases - maybe a colourist, or even someone who blow-dried it. That's a lot of tips! Do you tip all of them? If yes, the same, or differing amounts? 

Then there's the act of handing over the cash itself. Are you one of those nonchalant people, who will cheerily hand over the correct amount with a "here you go, my good man"? Or perhaps you're more like me and turn bright red and mumble something incoherent as you hand over either a paltry embarrassment of a sum, or a tip so ridiculously large that it represents practically a months' salary.

I'm already starting to think maybe I should cut my own hair next time...

Exchange Money by on Flickr

Monday, 18 March 2013

Monday moan.

We watched the film "Gambit" last night. I'm not going to go into a full-on review of the film here, but it was a vaguely amusing (but ultimately pretty forgettable) hour and a half. For brevity alone it gets extra marks - it's nice to find a film these days that isn't an over-inflated 2 and a half hour chore. It was a freebie, so I wasn't too disappointed.

Anyway, the film stars Colin Firth (52), Alan Rickman (67) and Cameron Diaz (40). All well-established actors, no longer in the very first flushes of youth. Why is it, therefore, that Ms Diaz was the only one of the three whose appearance I inwardly commented on, not in a good way, but in a "what has she done to her face" sort of way?

It's no secret that Cameron Diaz had plastic surgery to correct her nose, but a furtive google later and it seems that is not the only work she is rumoured to have had done.

Now, I will acknowledge that it must be bloody hard to be in the public spotlight all the time, judged on your appearance, competing for roles against nubile 20-somethings... but it does depress me how many actresses get into their thirties and forties and start having plastic surgery. The thing is, for every star whose plastic surgery does seem to halt ageing (Demi Moore?), there do seem to be a plethora of stars who just end up looking...well...slightly odd, and I do fear Cameron may well be heading towards a Meg Ryan or Melanie Griffiths.

Now, I don't particularly have a stake in Cameron Diaz's career, but as a mother to daughters it just seems to be another of the many daily reminders of how many double-standards there still are. If Colin Firth and Alan Rickman can be both respected actors and sex symbols at their respective ages, wrinkles and all without going under the knife, why can't Cameron Diaz?

P.S. I love your comments, but sometimes disqus doesn't love mobile devices. If you've got something burning to say, you might have to view the web version of this post. Sorry, and thank you!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

PEGI Family Gaming Ambassador - Challenge 2

(Sponsored Post - view Challenge 1 here:

I'm very, very late with this post.

Not because this challenge was particularly difficult, but mainly because of those mysterious circumstances that dictate that when you need an electronic device of any description, the batteries will run out and you will not have any replacements in the house. (Seriously, why does EVERYTHING need batteries these days? I wish I'd gone into battery production. I'd be making a fortune).

Anyway. The second challenge is all about Collaboration. So Stop, Collaborate, and Listen.

The lovely folks at Ask About Games instructed to spend a couple of 60 minute sessions playing video games together as a family. In order to do this, we were given a copy of Just Dance 4, and a Skylanders Giants starter pack for the Xbox 360.

As I may have mentioned before, we have already owned a Nintendo Wii for a while, so are familiar with the Just Dance franchise. Playing this together was therefore not a new experience for us (although the fact that we managed to rope my husband in was!), and it tends to be something "we girls" do together fairly regularly. Great exercise for me, if nothing else!

It's at this point that I'm supposed to show you a short video clip of us busting our groovy moves to Barry White's My First, My Last, My Everything. Unfortunately, this is where technology conspired against us, the Flip camera refused to record us, and we gave up. Should we ever repeat our perfect score, I'll post the video another time. In the meantime, here's an artist's impression:

What I found slightly more challenging was playing the Skylanders game collaboratively, as this is mainly set up to be a first-person adventure game and we only have one controller. However, in the end, we did manage to both fulfil our challenges and collaborate, by the 7 year old controlling the game while myself and Mr Sardinetin shouted instructions, and the 5 year old swapped playing figures on the portal...

I'm a big believer in not leaving children unsupervised in front of technology for too long, so playing games together is something that we do actually enjoy while satisfying the control freak in me. With the advent of so many "family-friendly" consoles and games, there really is no excuse for not finding something that everyone can participate in either.

Having said this, I am dreading the days when my "Just Dance" crown is seriously challenged - DD2 is showing some serious rhythm...
P.S. If you're viewing this on a mobile device, and feel the desperate need to comment, you might have to view the "web version" to do so. Sorry, and thank you!


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