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!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Flipping bottles

Entry forms leave me cold; retweets and like-shares positively frigid. So any competition with a novel entry mechanic has my attention from the off. As a matter of fact, the more fun it is to enter the comp, the less I care what the prize is - and sometimes about winning full stop.

Buxton Water ran such a promotion about a fortnight ago, with goodie bags for the first 50 people to tweet video evidence of them flipping a water bottle (Buxton, obvs), along with the #buxtonflip hashtag. The video with the most retweets also won a much bigger prize, but I didn’t pay that part much mind as (a) it was tickets for something I couldn’t attend and (b) spending the weekend acting adolescent was never going to get me into my (teacher) wife’s good books.

I should add that I don’t typically buy into purchase-necessary competitions, but as my first-born was already pestering for a plastic bottle to lob around the back yard, I figured this one might also buy me a half-hour of peace. As it happens, it was a mere five minutes, but peace is peace, right?

After a few practice flips, I captured some passable footage and called my lad in, flipping the bottle once more - looking, for all intents and purposes, like I’d pulled it off first time. Momentarily speechless with awe, he looked at me like I was some kind of god. What can I say - seven-year olds are easily impressed, and as a parent, you’ve got to get your jollies.
And indeed, further jollies ensued a week later with the delivery of a tee-shirt, USB stick, iPhone case, earphone case, keyring containing a disposable shower poncho, and a rubbery trumpet accessory that makes phones marginally louder when on speaker mode.
I wasted no time in using the cable tidy, which is why I forgot to photograph it along with the other goodies!
Out of interest, I did a quick sweep for the #buxtonflip hashtag just a few days later. As far as I can tell, less than half the prizes were given out, providing a textbook example of the extent to which odds can shorten once a little effort is required - there’s a lesson there, my comping friends!

What effort-based competitions have you enjoyed lately - and were you lucky?!

Friday, 9 June 2017

My Lucky Patch

How many daily lotteries do you play? I’m down to two - any more than that and I get all panicky if I forget to check in each day.

The main one I play, however, is My Lucky Patch, which is like the Free Postcode Lottery inasmuch as the winner is pretty much selected by sticking a pin in a map, but broadly speaking, the similarities end there.

As with the other free lotteries, the size of your potential win increases by a nominal amount every day you check in. Unlike the other lotteries, daily check-in also rewards you with additional lucky patches (ie entries into the daily draw), theoretically improving the odds of you winning. In this way, regulars are rewarded with additional entries into the daily draw (unlike with other lotteries, where your odds diminish as more people join the game).

I’ve now checked into the site sufficiently often to have a potential prize pot of £250, so you can imagine how excited I got a couple of weeks back when I saw that the day’s lucky patch was in Norwich. Check out my near miss - two squares closer and I’d have hit paydirt! I've had the Free Postcode Lottery miss me by a couple of streets before, but this was a couple of car-lengths!
Screen grab from My lucky Patch
If another free lottery sounds like your cup of tea, sign up here [disclosure, I get a 15 patch bonus!]

Be lucky!

Do you play the free lotteries? How are they working out for you?

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

My first spa #win

Just before Christmas, I won a £300 voucher for Virgin Experiences. A sensible person might have spent some time browsing the catalogue, as it were. Not me. In about the time it took to write that last sentence, I’d blown it on a spa break. In my day-to-day life, I waste hours deliberating over the merits of Decision A versus Decision B; not this time, however - I just went arrow-straight to the nearest place with chips and a dressing-gown dress code.

That place was Clarice House, in Bury St Edmunds, and I booked the break to coincide with my 15th wedding anniversary. Given that we hadn’t so much as grabbed a pint to celebrate any anniversary since the delivery of our first-born in 2010, I figured that back rubs and jacuzzis would make a pleasant change. (Here I should add that the package also included unlimited use of the hotel gym, though why anyone would entertain an exercise bike when they could spend the day in a fizzy bath escapes me.)
Clarice House, in Bury St Edmunds
Clarice House, a fancy old pile in Bury St Edmunds
So, after half a year of waiting, the day finally came. We bundled the children off to my mum’s house, fired up the Astra, and broke down 20 minutes away from our house.

The RAC promised to arrive within three hours (three!). Such faint reassurance invariably puts my stress into fifth gear, and indeed, for the next 90 minutes there was a bona fide risk that my anxiety would boil into a violent but ultimately pointless assault on my vehicle; that or vomiting on the grass verge. I try not to be a control freak, but I had seen the day going differently. Thankfully, the hotel was sympathetic, and rescheduled the treatments for later that day.

In the end, we lost only two hours of R&R. Small mercies, I suppose, but my state of mind was plain to see, even by the time we arrived at the hotel another hour later. Indeed, two hours of pool, jacuzzi and steam room made barely a dent on the residual tension, as evidenced by the therapist’s unrestrained awe vis-à-vis the incredible gnarl of my shoulders (largely accumulated since I last relaxed, some time in October 2016).

Credit to Michelle, however, for delivering one of the most effective back rubs of my life - I dread to think how much lactic acid she released from my knotted muscles. Judging from the way I stumbled out of the treatment room like a zombie on mogadon, it seemed pretty clear that those toxins were the only thing holding my body together. I collapsed in the relaxation room until reality came back into focus.

Regrettably, that was a little quicker than I would have liked, if only because of the piped music. I’m clearly the minority, but I’d rather listen to extra-mild cheddar than the emotionally vacant tedium of “relaxing music” - there’s more soul in a tape full of ZX Spectrum games. So I schlepped back up to our room and sat in the vast bathtub until it was time to eat.

At the risk of dwelling on things not going to plan, dinner didn’t start by going to plan. That was because we were given a complimentary bottle of prosecco, however, so I can let that stand - everything goes better with bubbles, after all.

As it was only a few pounds more, we upgraded to the perfectly cooked and deceptively large steak meal. I say deceptive because, as a doltish bumpkin, I am unaccustomed to eating from rectangular platters, and before I knew it, had over-eaten. I then compounded the matter by shoving down a humungous crème brulée.
Fancy truffles
The lovely kitchen crew gave us some bonus truffles, which I couldn't eat until breakfast time
Good times did not ensue. My belly thre its rattle from the pram, and I spent the rest of the night feeling horribly ill until, by the grace of God, I fell unconscious. Indeed, it wasn’t for another two days that I could eat anything without feeling like I’d ingested cast iron. Again, this wasn’t high on my list of objectives for the break.

Nevertheless, when dawn came with rosy fingers, I felt many times better than the night before. Perhaps not man enough for the full English, but sufficiently strong for eggs royale and a sneaky pain au chocolat before the digestive predicament came to light.

Still, we had full use of the facilities again, so a lie-down in the relaxation room (this time with suitable distractions) was just what the doctor ordered. That and another hour and a half in the jacuzzi and steam room.

Sadly, of course, all good things must com to an end, and so we loaded up the car and promptly ducked back inside to order lunch, which we ate on the terrace, and followed up with a leisurely walk around the grounds. Well, there was no need to rush, was there?!

This was one of my biggest ever wins, and while it might not have gone exactly to plan, it was still the best time I’d had in months and a brilliant reminder of why I love this hobby!

Spa breaks are a permanent fixture on my wish list - is there anything you couldn’t win enough of?