Thursday, 31 July 2014

Poor Customer Service? Or just a way to rake in money.

This month my direct debit for my Virgin Media package was declined, I hold my hands up, it was my fault, I hadn't transferred the money to my bill account quickly enough (being a 0% interest current account, I like to keep the balance low).

Most companies would make a second attempt at taking payment, or for the 'first offence' adjust the next month's payment.

But no, Virgin Media immediately cancelled my direct debit.

As soon as I discovered that they had done this I paid the bill amount - £52.21 - online.  

I tried to set my direct debit up again but was advised that until the outstanding balance on my account was paid I could not do this.

Also my account is still showing in arrears of £119.10, despite paying the missed payment of £52.21.  I have been slapped with a £10 late payment fee, plus £5 per month charge for NOT paying by direct debit.  

They are expecting me to pay the outstanding bill, which I have already done, PLUS the next month's bill which is not even due until the 10th August, PLUS the late payment fee PLUS the £5 for not having a direct debit which I had until THEY cancelled it before I can pay by direct debit again.

I am not at all happy with the way I have been treated, yes it was my fault that the payment was missed, but the company could be a little more user friendly.

They are not the only media supplier out there.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Why I no longer automatically go to Quidco.

I joined Quidco back in 2007 and thought it was great.  Getting money back for just doing what I do.

I received cashback for signing up to things, for free trials, you name it, you could probably get cashback for it.

Since signing up I have received over £1600, but how much of this is actually savings?

When I was booking my June holiday back in April, I decided to treat myself to a coach transfer to the hotel instead of getting the train.  I googled transfer companies and obtained quotes, all four companies were within pence of each other, so I opted for one that I had used before.

I popped onto Quidco to see if they were listed, and if so, how much cashback was offered.

They were listed, so I clicked on the link to make my booking.  After entering my dates and locations a price was given, but it was more than I had been quoted when I had gone directly through the company's website.

The difference in price was exactly the amount that I would have got back as cashback.  So whilst I wouldn't have lost out (ignoring the 3 month wait for the payout), I wasn't actually saving anything.

I closed the link and went back to the original quote and paid the cheaper price.

And it got me thinking, how many more times had that happened over the previous 7 years?

How many times have I thought I was getting a great deal but have simply ended up paying more than I would going direct just to get the difference back.

Recently, too, I seem to have had a lot more claims declined.  One of the latest was cashback from Proskins for leggings I had bought, the reason for the declination was that Proskins could find no record of the transaction which was funny as I just happened to be wearing the leggings at the time I received the message.

I wouldn't say don't use Quidco as there are still deals to be had, but make sure you do your homework, are you really getting as good a deal as you think?

I love Quidco

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The one with the crush.

I know it is not seemly for a woman of advanced years such as I to have a crush, but these things happen.  And we are not talking about crushing on some some young buck, which would be creepy, but someone who is at least as old as me if not older.  It is probably not even called a crush at our age.

I have known this man for a good 10 years or more, but he has always looked like he has fallen off a building site in all the time I have known him.  Don't get me wrong. anyone who has a job these days earns a big tick in my view, at least they want to work and not live off benefits.

But apparently I am more of snob than I realised, or maybe it is just the inherent desire to better myself kicking in, but this year I was sat in my usual spot in the bar and two blokes walked in.  I recognised one as a grownup version of a youngster who used to work there, did the European 2 kiss thing and exclaimed my shock at how much he had grown up.

I ignored the second bloke until he said 'Hi Tracy' and did the two kiss thing.

Well, I nearly fell off my bar stool.  There was this bloke in a very expensive looking polo shirt and tailored shorts, clean shaven with a slicked back hairstyle.  It was the scruffy bloke I have known for years.  Apparently he runs a language school.

Well, oh my God he could have had me there and then.

I tried to remain cool, but seeing as my mate behind the bar's eyebrows shot up into her hairline I didn't play it as cool as I thought.

In fact, over the next few days, every time he spoke to me I answered with 'giggle dsahdwejgekgauugrb giggle' whereas before I could have a coherent conversation.

Crushes are hard when you are old.

My First Giveaway! A Gnat Fun Shirt.

Today I am pleased to be holding my first giveaway.

The lovely people at Gnat have kindly sent me one of their Casual Fun Shirts.  Ideal for Stag Weekends, Fancy Dress parties or if you are 'that guy', the office.

Every shirt is individual, so you will never have the problem where you roll up to a party only to find you are wearing the same outfit as another guest.

The shirt I have to giveaway is an Extra Large, which according to the website is a 17" collar.  Made from polycotton, the offers a tailored fit, a functioning top pocket, button-up cuffs and a plain-style collar.  It is available on the website for £23.95.

You can enter using the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck everyone.

I now feel like a proper blogger!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 25 July 2014

Where I am with my depression.

Recently I stated in a post that I never had a problem walking into a restaurant or pub and asking for a table for one when I used to be able to leave the house, still don't when I am out of the county or country which sounded a bit of a contradiction, after all to go out of the country, even the county, I have to leave the house so let me explain.

Unlike many people, my depression does not prevent me from working.  I've always had to work, and apart from the periods immediately following two redundancies I always have worked.  It is what was drummed into me as I was growing up.

It was when I started struggling to go to work that I finally sought help from my doctor, up until then I had just dealt with it.  After all, a social life is not important, work is.

And that is what my depression took from me, my social life.

I struggle to leave the house for any other reason than to go to work.

And I mean really struggle.  Not physically, mentally.  

I accept invitations knowing full well that I will not turn up.

I have spent so much money on concert and theatre tickets purchased when I have had a good day, but come the day of the event I cannot get myself out of the house.

Weekends away too, I have booked hotels and not used them, because I can't leave the house.  

Every year I make sure that I have a holiday in Spain, even this is a struggle.  I get very excited about booking but the closer the day gets the more unsure I become.

I leave packing to the last minute, then just throw random things into the suitcase.

I lay in bed the day of departure trying to convince myself to get up.

I have to tell myself not to ignore the taxi when it arrives.

I want to run away from the airport after I have checked in.

The strange thing is, the further from home and the city I get, the better I feel so once I arrive in Spain I feel like a different person.

I spend the holiday feeling great then I have to come home and the black fog descends again.

I have my medication review next month, I look forward to seeing what the GP says.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Why I am sacrificing my front garden for a parking place.

Ok, so I am going to have my garden for the next couple of years at least as I am going to have to save to have it paved over and the kerb dropped.

But this is one of the reasons why I am doing it.

It wouldn't be so bad it being parked there if the owner wasn't living in it.

It wouldn't be so bad him living in it if he wasn't here weeks at a time.

It wouldn't be so bad him being here if he didn't have to run the engine for half an hour at a time in the early hours of the morning, you cannot sleep with the window open due to the noise.

I would have thought it illegal to live in a motorised caravan on a residential street, but the Council are unable to tell me whether it is.  The Police drive past regularly without a care.

Another reason is this.

The next door neighbour, who the motorhome owner is visiting, likes to park half on his front and half on mine whenever the motorhome is not here.  I actually managed to get on my own front one evening after work as the neighbour had gone out.  On his return he screamed backwards and stopped inches away from my car.  This picture is taken from my front step so I am well onto my own front.

I know we have no right to park on our own fronts, but a bit of give and take would be nice.  And being deliberately blocked from parking is not nice.

I have an approximate cost of having the Council drop the kerb, but I have no idea how much it is going to cost to have the garden paved but I want to save a few thousand before I start getting quotes.

Has anyone had their front garden paved or blockpaved recently?  How much did it cost?

Eating alone? I never had a problem with that.

I never had a problem walking into a restaurant or pub and asking for a table for one when I used to be able to leave the house, still don't when I am out of the county or country (that sounds a bit of a contradiction, but there is a post coming shortly that will explain all).  After all, back then, as it is now, it was always a case of go on my own, or don't go at all.

But apparently others felt there was a bit of stigma to dining alone, or at least according to the people spoken to in this BBC report.

Have you ever dined alone?  Was it out of choice or necessity?  Did you feel stigmatised or traumatised?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My two pen'orth - rewards for doing what is expected.

It has been in the news recently about a girl who missed out on a 100% attendance trip as she had a day off to attend her mother's funeral.  Even minor celebrities were up in arms.

And yes it was a shame that she had to miss out.

But instead of blaming the school which just seems to me to be following the (current) rules, maybe we should wonder why we started rewarding pupils for doing what was just expected of them?

I know it has been a few years since I left school, but back then you were punished for not attending, unless you had a very good reason and a note from a parent or guardian - clearly the poor child in the news DID have a very good reason for being absent.  We certainly didn't get taken out for meals just because we had managed to tear ourselves out of bed and stagger out to the car to be driven to and from the classroom every day.  

I had to walk the near mile to and from junior school, secondary school was a bus ride away, unless they were on strike in which case it was a 2 mile walk each way.  And I still managed to get there every day.  Even when I didn't want to.  Because that was what you had to do.

Assemblies seem to be a major event these days too, we had one every morning and parents did not attend.

Good behaviour seems to be rewarded too these days, years ago you would not dare misbehave because you would be punished.  My secondary school even still had the slipper and the cane.  Teachers would throw chalk or boardrubbers if they thought someone wasn't paying attention to them.

When did it all start going wrong?

Monday, 21 July 2014

The night I ate Spanish

Regular readers of my blog may have come to the conclusion that I like Spain and all things Spanish (well, except for the bull fighting and the bull running, but that is for another post).

In fact, I am so in love with the country that I will be moving when I win the lottery or retire, whichever is sooner. Probably retiring.

This week Lidl had a Spanish week in store so I had a week of weird meals to make sure that there was space in the freezer for all that I wanted to buy.

This was how I ate Saturday night, there was even a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning to make me feel like I was really in Spain.

I had Patatas Bravas with home made sauce, these are little cubes of potatoes which have been par-boiled and then fried to a crisp golden colour.  I had to google how to make the sauce.

I also had Capriches Ibericos, which are little croquettes made with Iberian ham.  They are supposed to be fried but I don't own a frying pan so they went in the oven, they caught a little bit on one side but were otherwise fine.

Finally, there was Pollo con Pimentos en Salsa Meditteranea, chicken and peppers in a tomato and breadcrumb sauce.  There was a lot of chicken in this little bowl.

All of this was washed down with Sangria, or at least my version.  A snack pot of fruit, including the juice, was steeped in half a bottle of Rioja for 24 hours, just before serving some more fruit was added along with ice cubes, this was topped up with a bottle of Cava.


Breakfast the next day was Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo.

Next Sunday I will be trying the Churros along with some thick Hot Chocolate to dip them in.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

IT'S A PUPPET!! Sorry, I mean IT'S A BATCH!

This is a debate that raises its head on a regular basis, especially in our office.  Half of the office think it is a roll, so what do you expect to get if you ask for a sausage roll?  A sausage in a bread product, or a sausage encased in pastry?  If you google sausage roll, you get images of a sausage in pastry.

To me, a teacake is a sweet fruity confectionery, a hot cross bun without the cross if you will.

A cob is something you sweat (sweating cobs) or get on if you are in a temper (getting a cob on), it is also a horse.

A barmcake is something you call a dafty.

Bara is a word I associate with a rich fruitcake.

You keep your baps in your bra.

Breadcake, I have no idea about.

A softy is what you call a daft lad.

Barm?  See barmcake.

A muffin is a heavier, doughier batch.  Or a type of cupcake.  Or what hangs over too small jeans.

A bun is a sort of cake, or what you put your hair in.

Morning Roll?  Not even going to go there.

A stotty is something northern.

Batch - there we go, the correct name for the item.

Oven Bottom, this is where some of the heavier bread items are baked.

Roll, some thing a sausage is served in.

Scuffles, something caused by calling a batch by the wrong name.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Zombies confuse me.

Are they dead?  They seem to be as they die and then 'reanimate', but if they are dead, why do they need to feed?  Surely they should be more like a Golem from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, you can give them a task and they will just keep going until they are told to stop, no need for rest or food.

Are they alive?  In later series of The Walking Dead, some people turned without being bitten.  How did this happen?  

And what causes a zombie in the first place, yes I know in the majority of books and films zombies are created by a zombie biting a human, but what created the first zombie?  Is there a secret Government task force creating viruses that could do this?

What happens if a zombie bites a vampire?  Does it become a zombie that can fly?  And if this hybrid bites a human, what does the human then become?

Can zombies cope with stairs?  Would they just climb up them or would they just fall and pile up on each other eventually creating a slope for others to climb up?

These are the questions we need answers to!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

So where are we supposed to walk our dogs?

Our local City Council are hoping to bring in a law which will stop dog owners walking their dogs in parks, cemeteries, car parks and on pavements next to roads.

So where are we supposed to walk our pets?

The pedestrianised city centre?  After all, there are no roads or parks here.  Just lots and lots of people who might make the dog feel frightened and threatened, leading him to snap at people if they get too close.

A tow path?  Good idea, and assuming that there is a usable towpath near you, just make sure that you haven't walked on a pavement to get there, or, heaven forbid, parked in a car park that the dog then has to walk across.  I suppose you could carry it.

Plus any usable towpath will be full of fishermen to negotiate round.

Of course, if the ruling comes in, it will only affect responsible dog owners, those who care about their dogs enough to train them, look after them properly and clean up after them.  The irresponsible dog owners will just carry on letting their dogs run riot allowing the nay sayers to shake their fingers and say' see this is what happens when dogs are let out of their house'.

There are enough poor animals now that are never taken for walks, is this going to be the fate for all our beloved pets?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

My Fancy Dress needs for the year.

I have four Fancy Dress events coming up in the next few months and I have no idea where to start!

The themes are (1) Freddie Mercury; (2) Naughty at Forty; (3) Sheer Heart Attack - I will explain this one and (4) Doctor Who.

The first three are for the annual Queen Fan Club Convention, this is a fantastic event involving lots of music, lots of alcohol (known as Convention Water), competitions, both Queen based and non-Queen based, and catching up with old friends.

I don't want to just buy an over the counter Freddie Mercury costume as there will be people in attendance who will be wearing handmade to the original pattern costumes which over the years will have cost them hundreds of pounds.

I think the easiest way to get round this is to go as Freddie, or Ian Beale*, in the I Want To Break Free video.

I am sure I have got a Vanessa Shanessa Jenkins costume that I can adapt!

Naughty at Forty is because the 40th anniversary of the formation of the fan club.  I really don't know what to do for this.  The best I have come up with so far is a forties style outfit but I am not sure how to a naughty element into it.

Sheer Heart Attack is because as well as this year being the 40th anniversary of the fan club, it is also the 40th anniversary of the album, Sheer Heart Attack.  Again, no idea where to start.  Should I borrow some scrubs from work and go as a surgeon?  

I could go as a stick of rock, Brighton Rock being the first track on the album,  I could try and recreate the Killer Queen outfit from We Will Rock You, Killer Queen is the second track.  

Doctor Who is for a Halloween party but there is just so much choice!  Do I go as a Doctor, an assistant, a baddy?

Any suggestions would be gratefully received!

*Oh, and the Ian Beale reference...

Friday, 11 July 2014

My first Glycolic Peel, the final post.

This is my final update on my Glycolic Peel.

Day 6 - I am now on 4 x 500mg flucloxacillin tablets a day now, for the next 5 days at least.  My GP tells me that my hair follicles are infected.  Lovely.  I am not infectious, so no need for time off work.

Day 8 - The blisters (they are not spots according to the GP) I have are drying up and going hard for some reason, I am still getting more spots and they are still spreading, but the new spots are smaller and the spreading is slower.

The antibiotics have given me raging diarrhoea, I have had to cancel my plans to go to the Godiva Festival this weekend.

I feel drained and could quite happily go back to bed (it is currently mid afternoon).

Day 14 - My stomach has finally settled down, shame I can't say the same for my face.  I still have scars from the infection and also some lingering blisters.  I still feel drained as well, probably due to the dehydration from the diarrhoea.

I have two dark brown spots on my chin which look like moles but which were not there before.

The enlarged pores that I had before are still in evidence, they have now appeared in areas of my face that were not affected before.

I still have problems with blackheads and blocked pores, both in the areas that were problems before the peel and in new areas since the peel.

The fine lines and wrinkles are still there, and have multiplied.  My face swelled up and now it has gone back down, my skin has the crepey appearance of a withered balloon.

Despite no skin peeling off my face, the acid seems to have removed my tan making me look very pale.

In conclusion, it was a very bad idea.  I will not be having another one and from now on will stick to face masks and scrubs!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

When competition prizes don't turn up.

I was reading a blog post earlier, this one in fact, by the lovely Given To Distracting Others about people cheating at competitions.  My first thought was 'what's the point in cheating when prizes you win without cheating don't turn up', then the bee that lives in my bonnet started buzzing and this post was born.

Back in March of this year I entered a competition, hosted by a fellow blogger, to win some make-up, the prize was actually a bronzer and a nail varnish.  I was lucky enough to win.

I am still waiting for the items to arrive.

I have contacted the host on a couple of occasions to be told that they had been too busy to post and would try and do so the next weekend.

All the time they were too busy to post my prize, they were posting about blogger events, launch events, they also seemed to be working their way around all the bars, clubs and burger bars of London, not too busy for that!

The items were from M&S, so if they had wanted to, they could have kept the prize bronzer and nail varnish, and whilst they were waiting for one of their burgers to arrive, could have ordered the exact same items online and had them delivered to my local store.  I would have happily collected.

If they hold any more competitions, I would be interested to see if the winner actually receives their prizes.

The second prize that has not turned up was a twitter retweet competition held by a shop chain back in May.  The prize was a goody bag, which from the photo looked like it contained a tote bag, a voucher for the shop and some other items.

I have contacted the twitter account with regard to the whereabouts of my prize and I have not had the courtesy of a reply.

There are, of course, bloggers and brands who are so fast at sending out prizes that you have barely had time to send them your address, or so it seems.

Why can't every competition host be like that?

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Breakfast Club - Who Were You?

Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did 'was' wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain... ...and an athlete... ...and a basket case... ...a princess... ...and a criminal.  Does that answer your question?... Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

I have recently watched The Breakfast Club again (I always preferred it to St Elmo's Fire) and I was wondering, those of you of a certain age, who did you see yourself as?

I always saw myself as the Ally Sheedy basket case character, even though it turned out that she wasn't actually a basket case, I was certainly no Molly Ringwald princess.  

I also had a major thing for Judd Nelson, at least until I saw him in Airheads anyway.

So, who were you?

Were you the brain?

The athlete?

 The basket case?

 The princess?

 Or the criminal?

Do you even know what I am blogging about?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

My first Glycolic Peel, part 2

The continuing story of my peel.

Day 4 - The whiteheaded pimples on my chin are taking over!  They have increased in number and in size extending under my chin too.  The worst of them popped in the shower.

The rough, discoloured patch on my chin is drying out and getting more and more sore.

Bits of skin are starting to flake off.

The beautician has advised that she has sent the batch of lotions back to the manufacturer for testing and has offered to refund our money, she would also like to see the damage to our faces so we are trying to arrange a time when we can get out of work, obviously evenings are out for her as that is when all her bookings are.

By the end of the day, the pimples had started to spread further up my face, on to my cheeks and further under my chin.  A few are starting to appear on my forehead too.

The rough area has started to crack and weep again.  It also looks very red where the cracks are.

Boss no.2's face is starting to improve, although there is still a very obvious scar across her chin.

Day 5 - I did a bad thing last night, after making sure my face was clean I popped all the pimples.  I know it was wrong but it was so satisfying!  Unfortunately, I now seem to have twice as many.

I found a lump of my chin on my desk just after lunch, or at least some of the crusty brown stuff that had been on my chin.

The spots are getting worse and are still spreading.  I look horrendous.  My nose is starting to peel which is really annoying as I can see it!

This is my chin currently.

I was googling again to find out if this is normal and came across this website, Health, Beauty and Skincare Products.

It made for interesting reading.

Complications after a medium peel may require medical attention. If the skin starts to blister or develops an infection, get to a doctor. Pus filled blisters are a sign of infection and will probably require anti biotic and anti viral medication.

It’s a good idea to do a patch test at least 24 hours before the actual peel. Some people are allergic to the ingredients in chemical peels.

If you have oral herpes, you are at a greater risk for infection and scarring. You should get a prescription for anti viral medication to minimize the risk of a flare up.

I do have a lot of coldsores, nothing at the moment, but this question was not asked.  Nor was a patch test even offered.

I really don't know what to do for the best.  After telling the beautician that we would like to see her, we have heard nothing.

I have now decided that if I wake up with more blisters and pimples tomorrow, then I will go to the doctors.