Elder and His Endeavors to Chav Our House Up This Christmas….

For goodness sake. Does anyone wish to adopt Elder? He comes with a vast quantity of Christmas lights and trainers.

I kind of have to take some of the credit/blame, depending on your viewpoint of Blackpool Illuminations strength Christmas lights  on residential houses.

Our neighborhood is pretty cool and we all seem to love a bit of paying things forwards and Freecycling. But recently, Freecycle seems to be taken up with some right tat from the rest of the area. And our town is small by comparison to the rest and gets lost in the scheme of things.

One of the clever ladies at school decided to set up a swap/borrow/free group on Facebook, which has for the most part consisted of us Mums going into school with bags of unwanted coats, kitchen stuff and other such stuff to swap or give to another Mum. It’s lovely actually, on the same day as one Mum was given two of Mini’s hardly worn but sadly grown out of coats, I became the proud of owner of a canvas picture I had wanted for ages that someone else had no room for.

There are members outside of school too, and a lady advertised that she had some outdoor Christmas lights she no longer wanted, and I asked for them.

I possibly should have checked how many there were, being that we don’t have that much space on the front of our house and her home is one of the one’s I look at on the bus and think that when I win the lottery I may consider buying.

Elder went off to grab what I thought was two small lights, only to find there were literally boxes of the things, all in good condition, and the lovely lady offered to drop the rest off for us.

So, yes, in essence, I am complicit in having aided his new idea to chav the house up.

My idea though is to further pay it forward and offer some to other Mum’s I chat with at school, and luckily one such Mum is very happy to partake in the general Christmas spirit of increasing one’s electricity bill to astronomical levels and annoy the neighbours in one hit.

Elder though can see no issue with our lack of outside wall space. He points out we have wall space inside the house we can put them up in. Inside.

I can now foresee lights of the strength that I shall spend the entirety of December with a migraine.

His particular fave is apparently going to go above the decks.

(Insert slightly concerned face here)

He also likes the idea that we have what every street has- a miserable sod- and who complained bitterly about the fireworks that went off at the local men’s club on the corner at the weekend. He feels it is his duty to give the silly old bugger something to whinge about with our light show.

As I said, would anyone like to adopt him for Christmas please?

I would add that when we first met, the first Christmas we properly spent together (our first was spent with him eating Chicken by himself and me at my parent’s for the last time ever), he didn’t want so much as a piece of tinsel up in his flat until I persuaded him after a party on Christmas Eve.

I shall no longer just be broke down to the levels of overpriced tat my children want and which I shall no doubt give in and buy, but also by the bill I shall receive in January for having a mini light show inside and outside my house.

If you can see a strange light in the sky come December and wonder what it is in the Southeast, it’s just my house lighting up the sky and annoying miserable old gits county wide….

 

Speaking of Christmas, that was the very first topic at my new Lunchtime Live with LazyGirlUK radio show over on Radioactive FM.

If you missed it, you can listen again at my Hear This page or at the Radioactive FM site, and you can listen to the tracks separately at my Spotify Playlist

I’m back next week, 12pm-2pm UK time and will let you know next week’s discussion topic soon. You can request mentions and songs via the hashtag #RadioactivefmUK or by tweeting to @radioactive_fm

Affording Christmas: How Brighthouse Makes It Easy to Fall into Debt

Christmas is a few weeks away now, and, as a parent, I’ve started to look at my budget for presents for the brats.

It seems now more than ever, despite the credit crisis still effecting lots of families, toys and tech is ever increasing in price. Most toys now start at £15, with some reaching well over £100. If you have older children who want the latest games console, for example, the latest XBox One, you wont have much change left from £370.

So, whilst the majority of us will think about how we’d love to buy everything our little cherubs write on their list, most will take a small selection and buy what we can afford.

For others, they find another way- the pay day loan or Brighthouse.

I decided to test Brighthouse after hearing some horror stories from friends who have been taken in by their glitzy adverts.

Brighthouse is the largest rent-to-own company in the UK with 270 shops in High Streets from South to North. They offer their “customers” the chance to own those “must have items” like iPhones and TVs, and rather than saving up for these luxuries, they can take them away almost straight off for a relatively small amount.

Sounds easy? The adverts certainly make it sound very simple.

They use normal looking mum characters who, for example, have had their pesky and much used washing machine go bang, and then show them happily putting their feet up after Brighthouse solves their issue- they even watch a big, pricey TV with their cuppa courtesy of Brighthouse, of course.

Its almost like Brighthouse paint itself as a modern day Fairy Godmother. However, when I saw this advert, I wondered why the Mum wouldn’t simply claim from her home insurance, or use a laundrette. She could even have advertised on Freecycle, or bought a good second hand model for under £50 from eBay or Gumtree.

Sadly, for every person who feels like me that these ads are too good to be true, there are those who are taken in.

So,  just how easy is it to become a Brighthouse customer?

I picked a random product- a laptop- from their site, and in under 1 minute I was offered it. All they asked for was my address, phone number and email address, along with my marital status (all very easy to fake as they only ask for proof of your bank details to be brought into store).

If I had of decided to proceed, for £17 a week I could have had a top of the range Samsung model.

£17 a week doesn’t sound like much really. And when you consider you would need to walk into a regular retailer with between £250 and £300 for the same Samsung model, that’s not going to be possible for everyone, especially at Christmas.

However, when you read further, and yes, Brighthouse does make the full pay back clear on the site (although its a scroll down the page and its not clear right at the top what the interest is, in fact it makes more effort to tell you the spec and its £17 a week) you will pay 94.7% APR over the time you owe them money.

If you pay this loan off within 104 weeks (that’s assuming you don’t fall behind), you will pay a staggering £1,768 for a laptop.

That’s an extra £1,468.

Not surprisingly, I wasn’t in the market for that kind of mark up. No laptop is worth paying that much for (in fact, I think that was about the price of the first home PC my dad bought on Windows 95 in the mid 90s).

I had no intention of continuing with them. If I want a new laptop, I am much happier keeping an eye out for a bargain on second hand sites (my current laptop cost me a mere £20).

However, Brighthouse had my phone number and email address- part of the process to see whether they will take you on as a customer (and their owner, Caversham Finance promises they are a “responsible lender”). Once they have this, they will not leave you alone.

Since Thursday of last week, when I decided to investigate how easy it was to gain Brighthouse Customer status, I have been phoned 73 times on my mobile, from 8.30am until 9pm. 

I have been bombarded with calls from the local store to me, telling me they are happy to sign me up for whichever “must have” my heart desires. They have left voicemails to this effect. All I need to do, they say, is bring in my bank details and I can walk out with a range of items!

As for my inbox, well, its the same story. Despite clicking “unsubscribe”on the first email I got, I have had several “are you sure?” type emails.

Even if you decide that, actually, its not a luxury item or must have enough for you to be ripped off, Brighthouse just does not leave you alone.

It can be tough being a parent in financially difficult times, and, to my mind, Brighthouse makes it their business to sign you up by playing on the need for ever more impressive consumer goods.

Saying that a top of the range mobile phone or laptop is a “must have” for instance. Since when?

They seem to really play on the heart strings of the less well off.

Brighthouse should be avoided, but sadly, it’s obvious that many will be taken in and no doubt will still be paying for this Christmas for many more Christmases to come.

Yes, in an ideal world we’d all love to give the family every top item they would wish for. But, in the longer term, Christmas is about family, about being with your loved ones and enjoying yourself, and no amount of debt is going to change that. Once there are presents under the tree, the younger kids will be happy that Santa has come, whether they have a sensible amount spent on them or not.

It doesn’t hurt children to say no, nor does it hurt to want an iPhone but to settle for a second hand lesser model that works. Giving it, whatever the price, is never a good lesson to teach your children, but Brighthouse would disagree if it means ever more customers lining their pockets.

The only people who gain from Brighthouse is the fat cats that own it.

Don’t Mention the C Word (Yet)

Why people?

Why is my sodding Facebook feed and my supermarket walk filled with the dreaded Christmas already?

I swear if the supermarkets get any earlier, we’ll get the run up to Christmas type adverts from January 1st onwards.

I say dreaded about Christmas, but I do enjoy it, I just enjoy it from the correct time in December.

I don’t even start thinking about presents until mid November. Yes I know there will be those of you who have already done all their shopping, and had it wrapped, and their cards written, probably since July. That isn’t what Christmas is about.

 Christmas wouldn’t be fun in our house if I hadn’t left it up until the last minute every year since records began. The only year I was ahead was last year, and it felt weird having everything sorted so early on (by early on I mean mid October).

It should be a law in this country that, until after firework night (another custom hijacked so now you get 3 months of fireworks rather than one night as it should be), no shop is allowed to display anything containing the words “tis the season” or ” ho ho ho”, or hang anything remotely tinsel related, anywhere.

As soon as Mini brought home an Operation Christmas Child leaflet from school, she came home and stuck her Christmas list to the fridge. It brought me out in a rash. That and my purse hid in trepidation. I don’t think she quite got that the child she was meant to sort out for Christmas was many countries away, not in her house.

Every advert break is met with choruses of “I want that” about every multi-coloured plastic tat that the toy companies chose to display. And you just know that, if you do give in and buy a selection of the tat, by Boxing Day most will be chucked in the toy box, and the choruses of “I want that” will begin all over again.

I don’t mind planning the food, I don’t even mind the hit my bank account takes.

But please, lets be sensible, and celebrate Christmas when it should be celebrated.

So, That Was Christmas Then.

You know me guys- I am proper rubbish at actually wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all on time. That is down to me being disorganised (6,000 emails in one inbox alone that I am yet to read), and trying to keep two mad kids from going crazy whilst stuck indoors down to awful weather.

However, we are yet to need the services of a boat to leave our house (although we were worried for a bit down to the fact we live at the bottom of a big old hill and the drains started to overflow by Christmas Eve), and, from tomorrow when the lazy arse teachers go back (damn their inset days) and the Brats are back at school, normal (for us) service should be resumed.

What will 2014 bring?



Moving, without doubt.

Where? Well, no idea. I feel more displaced than Mary and Joseph right about now. Our Cretin Landlord rang 3 days prior to Christmas expecting to suddenly have architects in with an hours notice (which, if it hadn’t been 3 days before Christmas would have been annoying enough) to measure up for our house to be made into rooms (no, we didn’t know he wanted to do that, we haven’t given notice or indication that we hate Maidenhead that much we are naffing off pronto). On being told politely to eff off, he got all “we’re bad tenants” on us.

Yes, bad tenants who live in a house we pay handsomely for with windows I currently keep in their frames using vast quantities of gaffer tape, and which has a bathroom currently growing it’s own mould eco system on the ceiling of, not to mention a roof that, yet again, leaks. 

So, I wont go into what I shall be doing to him when we do move, but we all recall the “fish revenge” incident on one such dickhead, don’t we?

Yet we have no idea where we are going. I got into the idea of Cornwall but since alot of it appears to be under water right now, and we know not one person who lives there, I am kind of put off a bit. Which made me nostalgic for the good old days in Kent of having friends a plenty and Elder’s eldest sis living a reasonable enough to babysit distance away. Except for the fact Gills is a rat hole, even worse than when we moved now, full of pick pockets and crime. 

We looked further out in Broadstairs, Whistable and Ramsgate to find no room at the inn  (or an inn we could afford). You clearly get what you pay for, so the only areas we could reasonably afford (as, let’s remember we are scraping through in Berkshire as it is) are the types of places we don’t want to end up. Full of crackheads, pickpockets and rat hole flats.

I am, to the point, of putting a map on a dartboard and pining a dart in to choose where we go to. 

Christmas itself was pretty good, Elder made the big sin of forgetting to get me anything. He was made to feel very bad for this, and later on, Mini and I invented the new parlor game of “let’s see how much make up we can cover Daddy in before he wakes up and throttles us”. A good time was had by all (especially those who played along via Instagram). In our defence, there was a pause in “quality programming” before Doctor Who came on, we were bored. He took it well. 


Mini has driven us crackers with her new One Direction Cds. No, I have no idea why I thought it was a good idea, I now know how my Dad felt on Christmas Day 1994 when he bought me East 17’s Steam album, which he allowed me to play at dinner time. Until the sweary part came on and it was banished. Its clearly karma that she is so in love with Harry that she gets very cross indeed when Littlest tells her they should get told off for calling their song “Best Song Ever” as it clearly is not at all. In his view, She’s a Rainbow by the Stones is.


New Years Eve was spent with around 80% of the Deegan brother sister clan and their kids, minus Eldest Bro (in Oz- the lucky so and so) and Eldest Nephew. We got back at 2am, the kids who swore they were not tired and wanted to watch Nick Jr fell asleep in 5 minutes flat, and we all stayed in bed until 11am (thank god- gin hangovers plus brats ain’t pretty).


So, what you all looking forward to this year? What are o#your predictions?

Let me know in the comments 🙂

Last Minute Gift Shopping*



Christmas is the time for cheers, good food and most importantly presents (my kids would agree on that last one). However, some of us still haven’t quite figured out what to get our loved one this Christmas season and with so little time to spare; I think I need to lend a helping hand where I can.




Toddlers or Babies?
I’m sure this has already been taken care of, because what more do kids appreciate more than toys? If your child hasn’t adopted a Moshi Monster yet, then ‘tis the season to get adopting, or you could get them a few Moshi Monster toys for their overflowing toy collection.

For Mum
Instead of the odd home ware, why not get her something that is truly just for her enjoyment alone? A great gift idea would be the gift of time off, so she can finally enjoy some well-deserved “me time” after all the hustle and bustle of Christmas. You could get her a gift-certificate to a local spa; or even more grandiose, add up with a few family members and get her a night at a hotel that provides such a service.

For Dad
You don’t have to complicate gift shopping for dad here; men are simple creatures, and they will appreciate most presents. It could be anything from the latest apple gadget (if he is techie), to some nice pair of underwear or thermals from Figleaves.

Brother?
Consider what they may already own here and just get them an add-on that they have been saving up for, but haven’t gotten around to buying yet. For example, if he owns a game console, then it might be easier to simply get the newest game for that console or if he is a rabid movie fan, then check out Amazon for their new releases. They are pretty quick to deliver, even this far along. Alternatively, if he is past the whole gaming phase or never quite got into it in the first place, then consider getting him something like the Jean Paul Gaultier set of cologne and aftershave. Trust me, he’ll love the smell – it’s a classic.

Sister?
Women, whether in their early teens, late teens or adolescence, are not that hard to buy for. Essentially because most items these days are made for women – so you are bound to find something they’ll like. Why not get them the new Urban Decay Eyeshadow Palette if they are into beauty and fashion?
Remember, girls can be techie’s too and all personalities vary; so there is no point in getting the recipient something that doesn’t appeal to their personality.

Research, research, research…though, I wonder if you still have time?

Your Chance to WIN a Brand New Kindle Fire HD with SSE!

Christmas is so very close, you can almost smell the turkey roasting in the oven.
Personally, once the dinner is cooked, I’ll relax- however, using my Tablet makes the job a little easier, recipes wise, as I can have a handheld device to refer to (and have sneaky book and magazine reading time too!) rather than lugging a big heavy book around the kitchen.
Tablets, like the Kindle Fire HD are brilliant, but at this time of year can be an added expense that you can’t justify.
Fear not!
If you, or a loved one has a Kindle Fire HD at the very top of their wish list this year, then Scottish and Southern Electric’s Your SSE facbook page has just the competition you need!
SSE wants to say a big thank you to all it’s Facebook fans and customers by giving away a luxury item which is sure to keep the whole family happy.
Until 18th December, Facebook users who like their helpful page can play their Christmas Elf competition. It’s free to enter (and don’t worry if you aren’t currently a liker as new members can enter too) and great fun!
I tried the game out myself, along with some help from the Brats, both of whom found it very funny and very easy (not to mention exciting to help Mummy). The idea behind the game is to help SSE’s elves generate enough energy to power the battery of a Kindle Fire HD tablet in a variety of fun ways. Can you make the first elf run enough to light the torch? Can you make the last elf jump on the belly of another?
Want to see how easy it is and have the chance to win a great addition to any home?
Then go enter now!
Good luck everyone!