Monday, 17 July 2017

Building a Car for the #NoddyChallenge

Kids love boxes. Everyone knows that. Less well known is why. Research from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has the answer: it’s because womb lining actually feels like cardboard.

That's right - playing in boxes makes children feel safe; it takes them to a blissful, happy state - a world without sibling rivalry, where food is on tap and they don’t have to wash their hands before dinner.

Don’t believe me? Google it. Well, actually, don’t - it’s utter hogwash. Kids love playing in boxes simply because they can let their creativity run riot!

My lads amply demonstrated this last Friday when I'd barely finished unpacking a fresh delivery of mundane adult stuff (new towels - whoop!) when they snatched the box to make some vehicle or other, or possibly a pterodactyl.

The next day it rained. In my house, that's a Grade A Emergency. Why? Because it makes the children exponentially harder to vent. [This may not be the universally accepted term, but given the strange banging and gurgling noises my offspring produce when kettled, the semblance to boilers really is uncanny.]

But I digress: indoor pursuits were needed, and since the towel box was to hand (or more precisely, underfoot), a solution presented itself.

We were going to make a car.

Not any old car, you understand, but an awesome car. And who has the most awesome car? Noddy, of course!

Now, you all know Noddy - he’s been around since 1949, making such characters as Dennis the Menace and even Spider-Man look like utter Johnny-come-Latelys (Johnny-come-Latelys who can’t even drive, at that).

What's more, he's been the subject of two dozen books by the irrepressible Enid Blyton, and no fewer than nine TV series, the most recent of which reimagines him as a Toyland detective who explores mysteries while encouraging young viewers to explore their own world and make discoveries.

And with this in mind, today we were going to explore paint.

Our first discovery was that the boys' stockpile of paint was much smaller than I recalled, so we had to raid the tester pots I’d been hoarding under the stairs.
First-born attends to the ironmongery
The second discovery was that children really shouldn’t be trusted with emulsion.
Next, the steering wheel and headlamps
Still, with brushes, scissors and a can-do attitude, the boys focused themselves on the task in hand.
The finished product
And as their how-to video shows, they succeeded in turning the drab old box into this awesome replica of Toytown’s most iconic vehicle.

Never have I seen the older one so determined to make something - much less something of this magnitude. Suddenly, I'm not so scared of rain!

This is my entry into the #NoddyChallenge Blogger Competition hosted by Tots100 in association with The Book People.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Another voice: Hello Lorna Beattie!

Meeting Nikki Hunter-Pike was so much fun that I've decided to publish a mini season of chats with some other great compers. With this in mind, I collared Lorna Beattie - Blogger-in-Chief of Mission Competition and asked her the big why (and also how)…

Why do I comp? Because I get such a buzz from it! There’s nothing like seeing an email titled “Congratulations” and wondering what the next words are (though it’s a bit of a gutter when it just says congratulations you’ve signed up to yet another email list). I also like it because I can treat people to things that I couldn’t otherwise. My dad is a massive cycling fan so I dedicated a lot of time to winning him an ace cycling present for his 60th birthday, including a £70 jersey I could never afford on my student budget.

It’s the perfect hobby for spreading the love isn’t it? Who doesn’t love bonus gifts?! But, as you say, it takes a lot of time - and organisation. How do you stay on top of it?

Sure, it takes a lot of time, but so does any hobby. This isn’t something I do just for the freebies (though they are nice) - I do it because I enjoy it. I love going into shops and searching for the word ‘win’ or doing crosswords for the chance to win a tenner.

As for keeping on top of it, I set reminders, have lists and use the Facebook and Instagram save functions. I also email myself a lot. It’s like talking to yourself … but via email! 😂 I have a routine and part of that is checking my emails for wins and also checking reminders from myself.

I also use phone reminders. It takes a bit of time to set up at the start of the year, but then I just update as needs be. So, for example, when it comes to #nationalpeanutbutterday, I’m all set to go.

Ahh, the peanut butter - I knew it was coming! I was chatting about personas just the other day, and you are totally the Peanut Butter Comper!
Haha! Yes - my comping mates all know I adore the stuff, and as a result, are always tagging me in related comps on both Twitter (@LaurieBeat) and Instagram (@lornab22) - the same goes for tea. It’s one of the things I love about comping - compers are lovely people and they look out for you (and your wishlist!).
Lorna also loves tea - can you guess?
That’s so true - tag buddies play such an important role in Twitter and Instagram comps in particular, but there’s no substitute for full-on teamwork!

Absolutely! And besides, the banter is fun!

So if there’s anything to take away from this chat it’s this: organise your diary, and get to know your comping buddies.

And enjoy yourself!

Well, I hope you enjoyed chatting with Lorna! If you have any more questions for her, please add them to the comments below, and maybe we can hook up with her again sometime soon!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

What you say about you...

Tell me about your comping persona: is it you, the whole you and nothing but the you? I suspect not.
In fact, I’d guess that your comping persona pays no nevermind to the majority of traffic in your head.

For example, would you start a thread in your preferred comping forum about your forthcoming MOT or tell a promoter that you ran out of leeks last night?

Yes, such information might create a more three-dimensional picture of you, but it’s hardly germane to the task in hand, ie comping.

What *is* germane is this: your passions. Yes, we all love Apple tech and holidays, but I'm talking about everyday passions.

Maybe your thing is socks. That being the case, I imagine you’ve already entered every last sock competition out there. Well, that’s a start.

The next step is to tell all your comping buddies that that’s what you’ve been up to. Share the comps with them - tell them how just how much socks excite you! No - more than that! How you live for socks. How you breathe socks. How you would swap your first-born for a barrel of socks.

Start tagging your friends in other comps (Twitter is especially good for this), and nudge the conversation to - you’ve guessed it - socks. Doesn’t matter if the comp is for biscuits or dishwasher tablets - steer the narrative to socks.

Why? Because now you’re the crazy sock lady, and whenever your comping buddies see another sock giveaway, you’ll be the first person they think of, and before you know it, you’ve got a dozen eyes out there, hunting down sock comps, and you can start banging on about the next thing - granola perhaps? Socks full of the stuff!

I wish I could claim this piece of crazy genius as my own, but as it follows a recent conversation I had with Lorna Beattie, I'm giving the entire credit to the peanut-butter-coated vinegary tea-swiller herself!

I’ll be tapping Lorna for some more pearls of wisdom sometime very soon, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, if you’ve got an idea for the first brick in your comping persona, let me know in the comments below. And more importantly - tell your buddies, then tell them, tell them and tell them again!

Friday, 30 June 2017

Unboxing June 2017

This month won't blow anyone away - but there were a few treats nevertheless...

And special thanks to Rebecca!

Friday, 23 June 2017

With Grate Power Comes Grate Responsibility

Last week I mentioned that KISS were running a really cool competition ... Well, I *have* entered after all. It's a bit of a rush job, on account of work running me ragged, but hope springs eternal, right? And in this instance, I hope the promoter loves drains...

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Another voice: Hello Nikki Hunter-Pike!

As any pro athlete will tell you, rest days are as important as training days. The same holds for comping - at least, that's what I tell myself when I take a break in order to neb at what other folks in the game are talking about.

The great thing about checking out other comping blogs is that you never know what you’re going to learn.

Well, that's almost true - you know you won’t learn much from Gary Wasabi’s Golden Luck Muscle. Still, as a pretty average comper who happens to like blogging too, at least I’ve got tea and sympathy in spades.

Nevertheless, I’m acutely aware that any blog benefits from a bit of glamour now and then. To this end, It's my pleasure to introduce the one and only Glam & Geeky Mum - Nikki Hunter-Pike!

On the off-chance you don’t recognise Nikki’s name (where have you been?! She posts in a whole bunch of comping groups!) I’ll let her introduce herself in her own words…
It's Nikki Hunter-Pike - that's who!
I’m a retired optician, blogger and mum of three (sometimes five). I’m also known as Glam & Geeky Mum (more geek than glam) over at my blog, which I started as a side project back in December when it became clear that having a day-job was frankly incompatible with meeting my son’s medical needs. Having a blog is a great way for me to gain back some identity - it makes me feel like an individual with something to contribute rather than just a full-time carer. I’ve done a few guest posts here and there, and love to blog to inspire and raise awareness. This can range from showing all the amazing inclusive things that my disabled son can do to sharing tips and suggestions about my hobbies (including comping!).

Your blog may be relatively young, but anyone who reads your monthly win lists can see you’re a premier league comper! How long have you been in the game?

I’ve been a comper before I even knew what one was! When I was a child, I constantly bugged my mum to enter competitions. Eventually she gave in and bought me a pack of postcards and some stamps so I could enter them as I found them. I thought I entered LOADS. In reality, I probably only entered about 20 (I was limited to the number of stamps I had!). I do, however, remember winning a giant Jelly Baby filled with Jelly Babies, a massive box of Nivea goodies, and a Planet Hollywood leather baseball jacket.

That might not be a huge number of prizes, but it was enough for me to realise that winning competitions was something I could do.

You lived my dream! I was desperate to be a comper when I was a kid. I think I’d seen an advert for Compers News (or whatever it was called at the time) and thought - yes! I had it all figured out. The reality, however, was that I entered a couple of competitions on Saturday Superstore then lost interest. But you kept it going then?

Actually, no - I think my Mum couldn’t afford to keep buying the stamps. Also I probably got interested in other things ... such as the opposite sex!

Ha! I guess hormones and comping aren’t natural bed-fellows… So when did you pick it up again?

Shortly after broadband internet was first launched in 2000, I realised that there were competitions that you could enter online. I decided entering competitions for free was even better than paying for stamps. (I still didn’t know that there was an entire movement of people who just entered comps - I thought I had stumbled across a genius idea that no one else had thought of.) I spent a few evenings trawling my way through the net and entering comps, but even after two months of doing this I didn’t win anything. Not a sausage. So ... I gave up.

I’m sure two months must be the peak burn-out period for new compers - certainly, my first couple of months were completely fruitless too. So what made you come back?

About three years ago, I read an article about a woman who had won £16,000 worth of prizes in a single year, and decided that if she could do it then so could I. Things were slow to start with and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing or how many competitions I should be entering.

After I found a competitions listing website, I started religiously entering at least 30 comps a day. And I noticed I had started to win every now and then! It’s at that point that I felt I first became a true comper. That said, 30 comps a day is nothing compared to my comping routine these days! I put a lot of effort in now, but it does reap rewards. So far this year, I’ve won over £10K worth of prizes. Who knows - I may even surpass the figure in the article that inspired me to discover the comping world properly!

Outstanding! Performance at this level is incredible - not to mention inspirational! That said, it’s worth underlining the sheer graft that goes into results like this: this isn’t luck - it’s time and effort, routines and systems. That's something I’d love to chat about some other time - I don;t suppose you'd be willing to give us some insight into what it takes to be this successful?

Of course - it'd be a pleasure!

I hope this introductory interview has whet your appetite for more - personally, I can't wait for a sneaky peak at what it takes to be a top-end comper! If you've got any questions for Nikki, please add them to the comments below...

Friday, 16 June 2017

WIN! £2,000 + gaming notebook + drone

KISS is celebrating the imminent release of Spider-Man: Homecoming by running an amazing competition for vloggers. The prize - as you can see from the headline - is pretty tasty. As for the gig, well that sounds fun too:

Send us a link to a video which you’ve made which you think is awesome - it can be about anything you like ... music, film, fashion, dancing etc, you decide!

Sadly, my video skills are pretty limited. Even if that weren’t the case, my main pursuit outside of comping is photographing drains - a pastime yet to grasp the public’s imagination.

I’m not saying I won’t enter, but if I do, it’ll be purely for the fun of the challenge. That and raising the profile of one the more esoteric hobbies out there.

The first finalist will be chosen (and contacted) on Friday 23 June and the second on Monday 26 June.

For more information, check the KISS site.

Or just watch the trailer for the movie - because it does look awesome!