Monthly Archives: November 2015

All tangled up!

So, I have done a couple of posts recently on caring for your wigs. Well…. I don’t always care for mine. I try my best, and what I have previously shared is best practice. But what if you have something in mind for your wig? 

I bought a long, blonde crimped with in the sales early last year, I love crimped wigs, but having naturally dark hair, I wasn’t sure what blonde would suit. This blonde for me, felt too light… so it wasn’t ever going to be in my daily rotation. As you can see from the featured image, I have had a little fun with the wig 🙂 And that I am the Queen of derp faces – I cannot take myself seriously, clearly not a model heh

I was asked by a neighbour if I could come and help at her daughter’s birthday party, and we somehow agreed that I should do it dressed as Elsa from Frozen… so the wig was transformed, which to be honest was pretty easy! 


The only thing you really need to be aware of when styling a wig like this, is making sure that the wig cap is covered. As these wigs are not really designed to be pulled up and around you can easily show the cap, and even worse (especially if you have dark hair) your own hair line!

I don’t think I made a bad Elsa, all things considered, and thought that would be the end of it. I could drag the wig out for make up, if if anyone needed an Elsa wig (or a plus size Elsa LOL).


Early last year, I got talking to Wechselberg (Wechselbalg Facebook Page – give him a like!) about Hazel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and we were both inspired by the witches, more so the concept art attached (which is another post!) and I knew exactly which witch I would tackle first. You see, I like a challenge – I had a wig I didn’t really care for, so it was the perfect excuse. 

So I set about making the wig resemble the hair of my chosen witch, including plaits and braids, tangles and general untidiness. I had no intention of ever returning her to her former … glory? So I really had a lot of fun, back combing, pinning, sewing… just treated the wig as badly as you can imagine!


And this is the result of my hard work! I really had a lot of fun, and it felt quite liberating treating my wig with such disregard. The worse I treated her, the better she ended up looking. It was the first time I really put together an entire outfit to complement my makeup, and it turned out rather well!

I haven’t really had any cause to use the wig again, but figured it would be beyond my capabilities to get her back to normal, and that I might need a message up wig again. Into a cupboard she went.

Until thursday, when my friend called and asked if she could borrow my ‘elsa wig’ … well, like I said earlier, I do like a challenge. I knew the basic principles, combing out gently, fabric softener, steaming, washing in warm water, and praying to the gods of good hair. 

The wig started out like this:


And I honestly thought I would be at it all weekend, I figured I had four days to get it to the point it could be put back into a braid and look like an ‘Elsa wig’ again. I sat down in the bathroom with my trusty backcombing brush (ironic I know) and slowly started brushing the messy dreads out from the bottom. I then started on the various braids that had been backcombed so they would stay in place and not unravel. It took 40 mins, and then I brushed out my wig. I was honestly expecting to take long, it was a lot of fluffier but washing would help that. Because I had not applied heat while restyling the wig, it bounced back so to speak. 

After it had been brushed out, I soaked the wig in a lukewarm bowl of water with wig shampoo – any mild shampoo or fabric softener works equally as well 🙂 and dried it overnight.

As you can see, she turned out pretty nicely, and is now braided up as an ‘Elsa Wig’!

(please excuse my lack of a top, I was about to do some body painting!)

While I am not for a moment suggesting that would should all back comb your wig to within an inch of it’s life, it is doable, and you can get some great results, and wigs can be rescued! 

If you have found that your wig it damaged, nearing the end of it’s life, and you are lost as to what to do, you can always speak to Scarlet von Trapp who did an amazing rescue on a wig, which really was beyond my ability! 



Life in plastic… is fantastic?

So last week I touched on the difference between real and online friends – it was a topic on the radio show, and there was split opinion. I am firmly in the ‘internet friends are real friends’ while my co host feels that they are entirely separate creatures. Now, I use social media a lot, and there are a variety of friends, some are purely online, and I am unlikely to ever meet them. Others are people I have known for years, but am no longer geographically close to, others are work friends, current and old, there are networking friends, of course, there are people who actually realise I am not a cat, and see through my filtered photos on I.G.


As touched on in a recent blog, social media can be a lifeline for many – there is someone you can speak to, you can let your hair down, be yourself without the same responsibilities that you have in your ‘real life’ there is a reason after call, the phrase ‘on the internet, nobody knows you are a cat’ was coined. I have moved around so much in my life, although I am finally (touch wood) settled, it has meant I don’t have the same support network that many of my peers seem to enjoy. It is nice to know that I can still keep in touch with people I have met and shared my life with. One thing that I have realised – Social Media can be a fantastic support tool. I really wish I had had this support network in my early twenties. Since a lot of us move around, and don’t have the friends and family close enough to lean on, I have realised what a great help it can be. Being in groups of people who may have similar interests but not necessarily same life experiences, or opinions. That can help, advise, offer opinions, or even just understand what you are going through. And often, being able to type out something in its entirely without interruption, worry that you are boring someone, and getting opinions of several people and not just one person. It can be great because you will not always just get the answer you are looking for.


 It is odd, I am actually more likely to have you as a FB contact than your phone number. Asking for someone’s number to me, feels very intrusive but FB … it is all there. You have a degree of control over what people see. And it requires as little or as much investment as you want. How many people do you add and never hear a peep from? And what about when you don’t hear back from people – it is that strange situation – ‘ghosting’ is the term I believe – where people are there … but not there. With people you see, or don’t see, it is easier to reconcile the situation, you grew apart, life got in the way, it wasn’t really a strong bond. When it is on line, the amount of investment, certainly in time and effort, is much less so to be ‘dumped’ by someone online… it feels worse? I mean what does the occasional like hurt? Just check in with a comment once in awhile?


I love my on line community – I have had so many opportunities, and learnt so much – for example, if it wasn’t for the amazing RoxyLee (ROxyLee’s FB page) I would not have been so inspired by Special FX makeup. She took the time to not only share her amazing work, but talked me through a number of techniques, and was just so happy to help. But I do view facebook as a tool, as an opportunity to network. And it is important to remember it is nothing more than a tool and not a replacement for human contact.

RoxyLee as Harley shot by SuperHero Creations by Adam Jay


But as much as I adore my on line friendships and community, it is important to stay connected in real terms – in a recent magazine article it looked at how social loneliness is one of the biggest issue facing society- so a couple of points to remember. It isn’t important how many people you have on your friends list if you never go and see them. Make sure you are making dates to go meet people, shopping, having a coffee etc. When you are alone, utilise it, pamper yourself, read that book you have been meaning to for ages, do some exercise, craft. Remember that if you feel lonely, it is because you need a social connection. Even if your friends are available (real life can be a complete bitch like that) maybe find something new to do. Local councils offer a wide range of short courses, you could sign up to a gym, join a class, pop into your local book shop and ask for advice on new reads, go to events organised by local businesses. Try old interests and new. And at this time of year, there are lots of opportunity to volunteer and help people, shelters, soup kitchens etc. So you will be helping people and meeting new people. Win/win situation 🙂

Thank you for reading, I hope this has made sense!

If you want to hear our previous shows, links are on our page, and we welcome comments, suggestions and music requests 🙂

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Love and relationship

So today on the show we looked at love, and relationships – it was quite an interesting show in which we started by looking at why it is also the ‘other’ that gets blamed when a relationship breaks down. Why do people not reflect on their own relationships and try and see what happened, why just dump it on someone else’s doorstep? And moreover, who is to blame… is it the person in the relationship of the intruder in the relationship ? It is horrible to think that someone would deliberately break up a relationship… but then the person may not know that there is a relationship. It is down to context, but I would say that the relationship shouldn’t be so easily broken… if there weren’t already cracks present.


During the show, I asked for happier stories to try and lift the mood somewhat, and I have to say, my faith in humanity was restored- here are some of the stories that were shared :

R.M :So me and my bf frank met about 12 years ago, were friends. His gf at the time was a friend of mine. We all lost touch for about 7 years and last year me and Frank got talking on Twitter ( I hadn’t used it for about 2 years) over the programme house of cards. We then added each other on Facebook we talked about having a catch up as friends. I went to London for a job interview and my train stopped in Crewe and I had a good few hours to wait for my connection to Liverpool so me being me cheekily said why don’t you pick me up and we can go for a few drinks somewhere. We ended up getting drinks from a McDonald’s drive thru and talking in a car park for ages. Then he took me home. I said you may as well come in and have a coffee before heading home. We ended up talking till 5 am about everything and anything. He turned to me and said I may be reading the signals wrong but I think we should kiss so we did. He went home the next day and came back and took me and my little boy to the cinema and we have been inseparable since. He asked me to be his gf (I told him he would have to ask) and I said yes. Up until this relationship I didn’t know what it was to be in a happy relationship. He stole my heart with his smile and makes me laugh every day. I have had relationships where I felt like I was in love only to be miserable but now I’m so happy I could burst. Oh and I spoke to my friend who is happily engaged and had no problems with me and Frank being together. And we recently celebrated our year anniversary.


P.R : (Paula had a much needed delivery of chocolates left on her doorstep) I had pms and he had a really terrible chest infection and a cold he didn’t want my kids to catch so drove about 10 miles feeling like death to find a 24 hour supermarket and another 5 miles just to leave it on my doorstep. He waited until he home to tell me it was there.I get a text every morning to remind me I’m beautiful and that he’s thinking about me with something equally precious when he’s falling asleep. He treats me as if I’m made of gold and all of this after leaving a husband who has abused me for the last 10 years and convinced me I was ugly and worthless. Such a lucky lass to have found a beautiful fella who thinks as much of me as I do him… and he’s 6’4! I lose my mind over his height because I’m 5ft which he thinks is perfect. We finish each other’s sentences and all that corny shite too xxx


L.E : Me and my partner have been together nearly 3 years and he still makes me smile everyday, he cares for me and tells me he loves me, he washes the pots and cleans the house after a long day at work because he says I shouldn’t cook and clean, and we woke up this morning and had a finger lightsaber fight in bed, and fell about laughing, when you find love like that you can’t go wrong.


T.B :  Me and joe have been together for 8 years, we met in really dark circumstances (suicide of a friend) but hit it off straight away, the weirdest part of our story is that when I was 11 and moved to my city we met! We remember meeting each other at his mums gym but didn’t meet again despite hanging out with all the same people (just at different times) throughout our teenage years! He’s amazing, he’s been there through some tough times in my life and has given me a beautiful son.
I don’t have much family and he only has his mum for family so we are each other’s family! It’s crazy how when the time is right… It will happen.
He still makes me laugh, still gives me butterflies and I can’t imagine life without him! our relationship started during such a bad point in my life that he saw me at my worst and now knows even better now to help me get through tough times, he’s my opposite in star sign, we are pretty much each other’s balance, he taught me to be more tough and strong and I taught him to be more loving and calm, he helps me think logically and rationally and I help him open his imagination when he needs it.

When you find someone who you can or have been through so much with… It’s a beautiful thing.


The show started off in a negative place, with one of our listeners sharing a situation that she is in currently. Her friend is going through a divorce and his wife has cited her in the papers. She is just friends and of course it brought up questions of not only why it is the ‘other’ party that is blamed, but why women are so cruel.  The reason we are specifically targeting women is … well we are women so it is difficult to know what a man’s thought process is. But thank you to the above posters sharing their stories, it turned the show around and really helped bring a little positivity into the proceedings! Thank you so much for reading, listening and getting involved!

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Revenge on thou wig!

Okay, so you have your wig. You have even worn it around the place a few times. It feels okay but you’re still not entirely sure what you are doing. That is fine, that is why I am here!

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What you might feel, is that it just looks a little unnatural, no roots, a little shiney… so there are a couple of things you can do to help you feel more confident when wearing your wig!

How about adding some roots to your wig – you can do this to both natural and colourful wigs. It makes them feel more natural and can even help hide a lighter coloured wig cap. If you are unsure, I would start with eye shadow to practise. This will give you an idea of the finished result. You can then upgrade to mascara and even using sharpie pens to help make things more permanent. The first 2 can easily wash out.

Another thing that might help give you a little confidence is using hairbands, and hats. Like I said in my earlier post, it is fairly unlikely that your wig will come off. But some nervousness around this is understandable! The colder months certainly lend themselves to practising – using hair bands, bandanas and beanies among others to hold your hair in place.

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But what happens when you take your wig off… how do you store it? Well I used to keep all my wigs on wig stands, but my collections has outgrown my ability to do this, so I split it between storing them in the bags that they came in, and wig stands. Wigs that I know I will be wearing a lot tend to stay on the stands, and the rest got in a wig bin. No matter where they are being stored, they are treated the same. I make sure that I brush through the wig once I have taken them off. It is important to start at the bottom of the wig and work back up to the roots. This will minimise any pulling and extend the life of the wig (the hair doesn’t grow back). Now if you find your wig is getting tangles and are struggling to brush through, don’t force it. There are a couple of things you can do to help.


Firstly, you can use a spray, and there are a couple of different methods – one is using a mix of a cap of fabric softener in spray bottle of water. Alternatively you can use hair detangling spray or even a specialise wig spray. I like to make sure that I am storing my wig in the best possible condition so it is ready to wear next time.

Sometimes a simple brush won’t do, or you just realise you have worn it a few too many times and want to refresh the wig. Well then it needs a little wash. Please don’t be scared of washing your wig, it is simple and painless!

Now for this, you will need a sink/washing up bowl, towel, mild shampoo/wig shampoo. You need to fill your chosen container with lukewarm water – it is important to remember that the wig is effectively made up of plastic fibres and using hot water will alter its structure. All you need to do is gentle swirl the wig in the water and let is rest – I usually leave it for around 30 mins. Once I am happy it has soaked enough, I drain the water, then rinse any soap with cold water and wrap the wig in a towel – again about 30 mins because I don’t want to press, just get any excess water from it. And after this time, it gets popped on a wig stand and left hanging over the side of the bath overnight to dry.

And I promise, your wig will hold its shape/curl/wave when being washed!

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Now lastly, something people have mentioned with wigs, is that they can look really shiny, and this makes them look and feel more unnatural. Washing them can sometimes help take the shine off but if you want to do something a little quicker, and with immediate results, try a dry shampoo. All you are doing is spraying it on and finger combing it through. I would personally recommend trying out a couple of different travel size before committing as they are all different so they will vary. You are looking for a dry shampoo that has a fine spray and won’t leave a white residue. Really the same thing you would be looking for when picking it for your own hair!

I really hope that this has helped you gain a little more confidence when wearing wigs, if you have any questions or comments please drop me a line!

images – and remember to use Gill15 for a 15% discount on your order!

Is this real life, or just pixel fantasy … ?

On this week’s show (link below if I remember) we discussed friendship, and the difference between real life and facebook/social media friends. There is some pretty strong opinion that there is no real replacement for real life friends, the type you can go out and have a coffee with and not just message on FB or trade likes on pictures.

Now, I guess I am looking at this from a slightly different angle to most people, whose main contact with the idea of an online friend, is through social media platforms like Facebook. But I have been playing MMORPG’s games a lot longer than I have had a facebook account (Yes, I am THAT old, and yes, I was THAT late to the party). I have known many people for over a decade and that is a strong bond. And I guess, the other thing that binds this sort of relationship is that when playing a computer game, more so MMORPG than say an FPS is that you are having to work as part of a team, it is using the same skills that you would use in your daily life.


Now, I do spend a fair amount of time on FB, and in various groups, one of which is a World of Warcraft group. This morning one of the members posted something which really tugged at the heart strings, and for me, cements my opinion on whether pixel friends can be real friends, here is her post :

Kelly Mathews

I got in game tonight only to get a whisper from my oldest friend in the game. I met him when I started playing years ago, in a Ghostlands guild called Jester’s Court. He was the nicest person I had met in the game and showed my boyfriend at the time and myself so much kindness. He’s a big part of the reason I do so many nice things in game. After talking to him and adding him on real ID, I found out he was in his 60s and played after a stroke left him unable to work. His wife liked to watch him play and spend time with him that way, even though she didn’t play herself. When I logged on today he informed me that he had buried her today after weeks of struggle with her health. I never met her nor talked to her, but I cried. I wish I could do something for him so badly to help because it hurts me to know he’s in pain. They were married over 34 years.

This kind of thing is the reason I get a bit upset when people try to say online friendships aren’t “real” friendships. When all of the emotions involved are as genuine as any friendship, whose job is it to judge that it isn’t real?

(I just want to thank Kelly again for allowing me to use her post in my blog – to stay on topic, we aren’t friends on FB but we have managed to connect)


So really, I think that gaming, and the friends you make there, are not exactly the same as the friends you make on FB, or other social media. I mean really you are not basing any of your opion of that person on first impressions. You don’t know what they look like, often you will not hear them, most of the conversation will be related to the game. Any of the other information shared is going to be edited heavily. And you are, again, working as a team. Be it because you are in a guild together, because you group to do quests together, of because you run dungeons together. It still comes back to having to work together, to some extent. Its like having a really, really long blind date. You are basing your opinions on someone purely on your in game interactions.

Sure, that female elf character you are chatting to, could be a middle aged man, could be a teenager, could be an actual girl. But unlike your social interactions when face to face, or when you have real ‘proof’ – you are going to treat them differently to your other social interactions. Although you may eventually end up adding them on Facebook, follow them on twitter, and drool over their pictures of food loaded onto I.G – your friendship has already been cemented without a lot of the window dressing normal relationships have.


Last week I also instigated a discussion on my facebook page, following people proclaiming social media as evil and that they would be seeing who their ‘real friends are’ by who would keep in contact them outside a social media platform.

One friend said that she feels she can be the person she wants to be online, and more herself.

Another, that she has more friends online, and that she goes to those friends (myself included) before her ‘real’ friends. That she feels that she is ‘cooler’ online.

Another suggested ‘Its not how you meet someone its how you interact with em in my view.’ Which i really liked.

I had an interesting discussion with a friend :For me it’s been a lifeline too. Especially as an adult, it’s been helpful for friendships. I have to spend so much time at work, I don’t know how I’d make friends otherwise. Too, I’ve always wanted my work life separate from my non-work life. And I’m in a weird position also where I’m stuck between too different generations at work: Baby Boomers and Millennials. I connect and relate to way more people now than I did previously to being on social media and even having a smart phone. Also, too, I think back to when the lovely wife was on hard-core anti-viral meds, then immunosuppressants to combat the uveitis that is taking her sight. She was sick constantly. We couldn’t go anywhere. When I wasn’t at home, I was at work. We saw virtually no one we knew in real life. If it wasn’t for social media, I think we both would have broken under the weight of that loneliness.

While another friend offered this : There are different categories of online friends, I think. People you’ve never met, people you’ve met once or twice, people you meet irregularly, people you used to see regularly, but don’t anymore (what with all that growing up shiz people do), ad people you see regularly. Friendships tend to get stronger / the people tend to mean more to you as you move through those categories, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

I will continue to look at friendships in another blog post, so keep your eyes out. It is interesting to think about how or why relationships work and I hope you have enjoyed my blog x


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    So, as you all know, I am a wig addict and have a healthy collection. Currently Revenge Wigs are helping feed my addiction but more on that later.


Recently I have spoken to a few people who are new, and maybe nervous about wigs, so I thought I would do a quick intro which I will follow up at a later date!

Firstly, wearing your wig. Now, I do have fairly short hair, and just pop a wig cap (net) over my hair before putting my wig on. Now if you have longer hair, there are a few ways to tidy your hair up before putting on your wig, it will depend on your hair type, and how much you have. You might be able to simply put it into a low pony tail and cap. But if you have thicker hair, you might want to braid your hair first. I would use a cap over any of these as it will help keep strays under control.


However, if you have very thick hair and are worried, or want to make sure your hair will look good after wearing a wig, you might want to consider pin curls to keep your hair in place, which will also leave your hair in cute waves once you take them all out. If you have a shaved head, you won’t need a wig cap, but if you are worried about your wig moving, you can use the top of a ‘hold up’ stocking turned inside out to help secure your wig.

When you are first putting your wig on, it is important to make sure that you make any adjustments to the wig :


Depending on how big your head is, you can adjust the elastic fastening/straps at the back into the slots along the bottom of the cap. This will help adjust the wig to help it stay put. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right first time – just keep tweaking. I wouldn’t make it too tight as this can become uncomfortable when wearing for long periods of time.

Another thing to keep in mind when adjusting your wig is that there are ear flaps on either side of the wig, just where the clips are to the side. These needs to be positioned just in front of the ear for comfort. Might need a little moving around, but it is rare to get your wig cap in the right position first time.

Now the picture above shows a cap with clips – this isn’t standard nor does there seem to be a particular reason to have these inside. Some people do swear by them, and find they help secure the wig. Personally I don’t utilise them as I have a high hairline so I wear my wigs a little lower. If you do like them, you can easily buy them on Ebay and sew them into your wig (using the above picture for a reference).

Once the wig is on, you can secure it with pins, I have cut down, but it will depend on the wig, the heavier the wig, the more likely it is that pinning will help it feel more secure.


When you first get a wig, it is certainly worth wearing it for short periods of time to get used to it – I would pop mine on to go shopping etc while still getting used them, or wear them around the house. Once you get used to wearing wigs, the world is your oyster.

One thing to remember when wearing your wig out – it is unlikely to slip, it is unlikely to fly off your head. People are really unlikely to notice it is a wig, and 9/10 will compliment you rather than make a negative comment. Enjoy it. If people are looking at you, strut – give them a reason to look!


Now once you are used to wearing your wig, you can have a play with it – I tend to treat mine like real hair, I put them into buns, put on hair bands, plaits etc. There is nothing you can’t, in theory do with a wig. But I would recommend making sure you are covering the edges of the wig cap all the way around when styling your wig. And when styling changes the weight distribution, make sure to account for this. When I recently re styled a wig with plaits pinned to the back of my head, I made sure I added extra pins to the top of the wig to help it stay up.

Now this is just a little intro, I will go into more detail in my next post, and discuss storage and washing your wigs 🙂

Also, if you are looking to buy a new wig – head over to and use the discount code gill15 for a sweet 15% off your order 🙂


I am a little in love with the above wig. It needs to be mine!

Women … well written

Okay, bit of a ranty one, sorry in advance.

Women. Why are they still sidelined? I am going to just concentrate on books and films here but obviously it has wider meanings.


I am working my way through a zombie lit anthology (judge away) and in most of the books I have read so far, no matter the sex of the character, there seems to be a doctor/nurse somewhere either parents, friends, neighbours etc. The husband/father figure is a doctor and the wife/mother figure the nurse. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the author is male or female.

Then we have the ‘all female’ ghostbusters, allegedly an ‘all female’ Oceans 11.Ghostbusters_1

WHY IS THIS EVEN REQUIRED? What happened to strong female characters being unapologetic about their strength. and of course showing my age but I remember shows like     Thunder Cats and She Rah. There was never any question of being forced to like a character because of her gender. Nor was the fact a character is female an issue that ever seemed forced. Of course, reflecting on something from my childhood is going to be coloured by my rose tinted glasses.


Then we have SuperGirl, which was eagerly awaited by many. I have for the most part checked out of the Marvel & DC offerings on screen (small or silver) as they are just not matching my expectations. Which is always going to be a risk when you are using a medium that requires a degree of imagination. The same can easily be said for many book to screen offerings. But SuperGirl – this was going to be something special, this is A GIRL cast in the leading role, not ANY role but a SUPER HERO. (yes it does hurt when I roll my eyes so hard)

Again she is supported by male characters, and while some of her dialogue is okay, she is blown out of the water by Calista Flockhart’s character. And I will stop picking apart SuperGirl because I have watched one episode and it is dulling my point 🙂

Women are complicit in their own positions, when a female writer feels that it would only be believable if a female character is a nurse, but a male character can be a doctor. Or am I missing a point .. are they passing their own ironic comment on the entire situation.

Why can’t women just be strong, unapologetic characters which out coming up with some excuse, being embarrassed. Love her, or hate her, Joss Whedon created a great character with Buffy. Actually, I never actually felt any of the characters were held back because of their sex. And that is what is the thing that has got under my skin. Why should it matter sex a character (in whatever format) is to begin with, can we not just have strong characters without an agenda?

Is that too much to ask for, characters that avoid stereotyping without making a song and dance about it. Female characters that you can relate to for just getting shit done without spouting feminist agenda bullshit. Female characters that are strong, and relatable and that actually don’t need to have boys sitting around as support.



Learning to be flexible

Life long learning

An ongoing, voluntary and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.
The concept of Lifelong learning was
 introduced in Denmark 1971 and which is, formal learning, informal learning and self directed learning.
A result of curiosity, good humour and self-motivation, leading to personal wellbeing.
is intrinsic and we engage in learning from cradle to grave.
Does not necessarily link
 to attainment of formal qualifications.
Particularly those aged 45+, remain far below the target of 12.5%.
Implementation of adult learning remains weak and has not gained recognition it deserves.
It is essential to ensure that older people’s skills keep them active and meeting functional demands of life. Much more needs to be done and achieved in this area.

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I guess this isn’t the article you are looking for 🙂 This week on the show we looked at lifelong learning and it is something that I have always been surrounded by from a young age. But it is also something that links in with the other aspects of getting older. Maintaining flexibility – both mentally and physically. I remember my elder relatives commenting on limitations when getting older and many doing what we would now call braining – crosswords and puzzles.

With that in mind, I have always made sure that I keep a degree of flexibility in my body and mind, even though for various reasons I am not at the healthy weight I would like – a gym buddy exclaimed ‘you are really flexible’ mid training session a couple of weeks ago. I was pretty pleased with this as I don’t think I am exceptionally flexible but we all have our strengths.

Anne Martlage agreed to share her experiences on lifelong learning with us, and here is some what she wrote for us on the matter.


As a young adult I travelled , perhaps more than was usual in those days. This exposed me to direct contact with different cultures and languages.

Working in the Embassy of India in Stockholm, made me learn Hindi by distant learning. In the meantime I had also obtained qualifications in the Swedish language.Alongside, I assisted a journalist to translate the news Headlines into English, which in turn he sold to the various embassies in Stockholm. These contacts and influences accounted for a steep learning curve.
I started a university course in Stockholm, never finished as once again I was on the move.

After several more adventures, I landed in the UK and was offered a job at an educational agency. First priority was to learn all I could on the British Educational system and write a short handbook on the subject for the embassies and parents who were looking for schools and further/higher education for their children in the UK. My learning curve went straight up during those years. I also went to classes for a proficiency cert in English.


When I started working at a College of FE as European project co-ordinator and manager, I was on a constant learning curve, courses in the evening (Spanish, Italian, French conversation). I was the first at the college to complete an NVQ in business at the workplace, when this was first introduced. My work also made it possible for me to study the educational systems in the various EU countries I worked with, their cultures, languages.

The young people on the programmes I organised, taught me even more, understanding, staying young in spirit, looking at the world and history around us more closely. I attended other courses relating to the Hospitality industry and had the privilege to visit and learn about the workings of many prestigious establishments.

Since I retired, which was far too early at 65, but..,.I have taken up book restoration, volunteering ( a really good way to meet people and make friends and get immersed in history) and various other crafts and trying to update my knowledge of languages on a regular basis.
It is very easy to just remain at home, read a book, watch a film and ignore the rest of the world, when you don’t have to get up at 06.00hrs and be alert all day long.


I find it very important to get out, (some days I have to kick myself in to action) meet people ( I have membership at a gym, I try to go to 3 or 4 times a week), took up Nordic walking. The gym especially is a social hub and an incentive for many to leave their home. (Many of the day time regulars are middle to old age) It is important to find the motivation to undertake activities, meet people, especially when you reach a certain age.
I try to catch exhibitions in the local area, even after all these years in the area, I constantly find more to discover about the local history, geography, language etc I also try to visit at least one garden, historic house in easy reach of the town I live in, on a regular basis.

Travel has been part of my life so far, the best way to to keep mind and body active.

Volunteering – Abroad

Last weeks radio show was about volunteering, and the lovely Jaye Cope recorded a piece on her experiences for us. I have the transcript below for you, including all the relevant links. I don’t know about you, but when I listened to her, I had tears in my eyes. I hope this inspires some of you! (i have used Jaye’s photos in the body of the article)

Link to the shows FB page :


My Name is Jaye and i spent my summer volunteering at Aspire Orphanage in Cambodia.


Aspire Training and Education is an Orphanage and School based in Trang Village just outside of Siem Reap. It was set up by Mr Sean Samnang on the 14th November 2012- he lives on site with his wife Borey and his 3 children. Two of his children attend school there but the youngest is only 25 days old! Aspire is a Non-Government Organistation that relys on donations and funding from outside parties, businesses, individuals and volunteers.

Currently Aspire is home to 40 children offerring them education, protection and a brighter future. Each child is treated equally and given the opportunity to grow up as children should in a safe and positive environment.


The school provides lessons in English, Traditional Dance, Japanese Lessons and more recently computer lessons for the older children.

Sean has previously helped 5 students gain employment and currently there are 4 students who wish to finish University and help at Aspire by becoming teachers themselves- this truely is a great testament to Sean and the opportunities Aspire brings to each child.

My time at Aspire

After initially signing up for 2 weeks volunteering 7 weeks later i had to leave to catch my flight home.
I spent 7 weeks being a teacher, a friend, a footballer, a brick layer, a gardener, a walking climbing frame and above all i was a student. I learned so much from the children and adults there- they truely inspired me and put a lot of things in to perspective for me! I made friends that turned in to family and memories that will last a lifetime. I miss them all very much but i will heading back at Xmas after ive completed fundraising for a Xmas party for them all!



Whilst i know i live in a country that has provided me with free education, opportunities and many safety nets if it all goes wrong. Cambodia is a beautiful country with friendly, inspirational people but life is very hard for the vast amount of people there. There are no safety nets. If you have no money your family doesnt eat. Then to be a child in that situation where either your parents can no longer look after you or you find yourself on your own is not a nice thought where ever you live in the world.
It is cliche to say i want to help make a difference but it is clear that Aspire has and will continue to have a positive impact on these childrens lives and i will be supporting them any way i can.


Where are they now plus long and short term goals

Currently the new school building and volunteer house are partly in process but this work has temporarily stopped due to a lack of funding- the current classrooms are wooden with tin roofs and open sides which make it sometimes impossible to teach due to wind, rain and even the heat.
Progress is slow but it is happening and everyone remains positive and is looking to the future.

Long term goals at Aspire is to secure a sponsor and complete the new concrete school building and volunteer house. This will secure Aspires future and that of the children that live and learn there and will give them the room to grow, employ teachers and open its doors to more children in the community and ultimately give everyone a brighter future.
With the completion of the new school building the next step will be a library for the children- it will be in the new building so the books will be protected from the elements.

Short time goals but also the most important is ensuring Aspire is able to run on a daily basis.
A personal goal for me is to set up a UK based office for them in order to fundraise over here.
Aspire has already started working towards becoming more self sufficient and now have a small garden area, chickens, a cow and a fish pond to provide a source of food and income.
Currently Sean makes a monthly rice donation to the families of children who attend school but live in extreme poverty- I know they are looking at expanding this to more families in the community.


    My next goal for Aspire is to raise money for a Xmas party for the children and their families- i am hoping to raise £1500. The money would pay for food, soft drinks and a small present for each child consisting of 1 item of clothing and a new school set (book, bag, pencil). Every child deserves a special Xmas- your donation will help towards making it a Xmas to remember

If you would like any more information on Aspire then please contact me on via the methods below.

If you would like to make a donation to the Xmas fund then please go to my just giving page:

For monthly donations, sponsorship or volunteer inquiries please contact me on 07775868295 or

Aspires FB page:

Volunteering with animals

Paula Ruane recently discussed her volunteering with me as part of the Lifestyle:MK show about the same. Although it was featured as part of the show a couple of weeks ago – and you can find links on the page – I figured that it would be worth putting my discussion with Paula into a blog post so you can all get a better understanding – I have included all the appropriate links as well. This is the extended version as I did run out of time on the show! I hope you enjoy reading this, and it inspires!


Paula, what volunteering do you do, and what does it involve?

I work mostly with bull breed specific dog rescues and an ex battery hen rescue. The work I do with the dog rescues involves attending the homes of potential foster carers or adopters to assess the suitability of the living environment and to discuss the details of the dog’s care such as exercise arrangements and veterinary costs. This is what is known as home checking.
I also participate in transport relays when animals are being moved from unsuitable situations to a rescue facility or from a rescue when a suitable home has been secured. The transport runs are a series of handovers at rendezvous points.

Another aspect of my voluntary work is what’s called cross posting. This is the sharing of appeals for homes, support, rescue assistance and fundraising online, mainly on social media and using the connections in my network to generate the maximum exposure for the cause in question. Much of my cross posting activities are centred around “overdue” dogs for people known as pound pullers. Pound pullers essentially remove unclaimed dogs from the pounds by finding rescue spaces or foster homes for the animals in order to prevent them being euthanized after the standard 7 days.

You mentioned working with battery hens as well, what does this entail?

The work I do with the battery hens is much the same as the work I do with the dogs but I also assist by taking part in collection days when a number of homes within a certain radius have been found, there is a set rendezvous point and the new owners all collect their hens from the one place. The hens are rescued from commercial laying farms at around 18 months old because their laying has slowed after intensive farming so they are sold for slaughter to be replaced by young birds. They are treated for parasites and vaccinated then homes are found.
The hens are rescued by


It is easy to see how important the work you do is for the animals, but what do you personally get from this?

Yeah, I meet the cream of humanity in the people who rescue, transport and adopt/foster. I feel better about myself knowing that I did a good deed and I find it life affirming to know that I gave a small amount of time to make a huge difference and the sense of achievement is worth more than money.

I’ve had 2 hopeless cases be adopted this week, directly from my Facebook posts and tags. One was a dog at risk of being killed as type under the dangerous dogs act simply because of his appearance and he was also out of time in the pound. The other was a little dog who was taken from Gumtree to save him from the fighting rings but he was scared of being left alone and was aggressive to other dogs so was about to be pts. Both were adopted this week, they were the 2 boys who have been really personal to me despite never meeting them. This is what rescue and welfare gives back, love and tails that never stop wagging xxx


Paula, you really are amazing!

Diesel I only found out about today and maverick was fostered almost as soon as I shared him and adopted by his foster mummy this week. Its kinda self serving though I get such a kick from it xx Its a miracle to see so many people giving a shit when there’s such a disposable attitude to animals.

and some of the dog charities I am involved with are and

The pound pullers are assisted by who raise money to make things like emergency kennelling possible by paying for dogs to be boarded in privately run kennels to get them out of council pounds. are non species specific and are a small organisation who work hard to save lives every day even if it means risking their own and it has been life affirming to have worked with any one of these organisations