#Win 2 Tickets To The Dambuster Taking Place At The Peak District

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Are you an avid walker, or do you fancy trying your foot at it?

Maybe your looking for a way to raise money for a charity in need of funding… A sponsored hike could well be the way to do it.

Why not set yourselves a real change, let’s just say a 25 mile one?

Today I’m running a fantastic competition here on the blog. I’m offering one of our lucky readers the chance to win a Free registration package for 2 for the following event

Date: Sunday 28th April 2013

Location: Peak District, starting at Hope Sports Field

Time: 7.30 am

A little more about this exciting challenge. The Dambuster (25 mile* walk):

The Dambuster is a magnificent 25-mile* walk in the Peak District and forms the perfect backdrop for walkers looking for a challenge in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Incorporating a varied terrain and breath-taking views over the valleys, Ladybower Reservoir, Edale and Win Hill, you will be walking over stunning Jacob’s Ladder before returning along Mam Tor and Lose Hill. What more could you ask for from a charity event?

*Please note, distances are currently approximate and are subject to change. Walkers will need to complete the walk within a maximum of 11 hours although we estimate the vast majority of people will complete the walk between 6.5 and 9 hours.

It is recommended that walkers in this event are aged 16 and over (all participants under 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian over 18 at all times).

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The prize includes

Registration from 6.30am
Personal walker number
Downloadable guide book containing detailed route information
Emergency pack including a whistle and foil blanket
Great send off at the official start at 7.30 am
Well marshalled course
Regular checkpoints including water points, first aid and toilet provision
Warm welcome back to the finish where you will receive a finisher’s souvenir and well deserved congratulations

This is a fantastic opportunity and by winning this prize it would mean that you won’t need to worry about covering the registration fees before raising funds for your chosen charity.

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So… How about it? A challenge of a lifetime set amongst an amazing backdrop of beauty.

To win just comment telling me why you want to win the prize? Are you planning to raise money for a specific charity or do you just love a good old hike.

For extra entries tweet…

“I want to win tickets to the Peak District’s The Dambuster walk with @Clairelouise82″ adding the link to this post. Provide the link in a comment or your twitter handle.

Please leave an additional comment for both entries.

An email for contact reasons must be supplied.

Competition will close on the 10th April 2012 at 11.59pm

Please visit the event website for more information on this walk and others.

T&C apply: Open to those in the UK only, competition will close on the 10/04/2013 at 11.59pm, winner has 48hrs to confirm their prize or risk a redraw.

Self diagnosed eBay addict

I wake up in the morning reach out for my iPhone and here’s what I do…

1) Check my email
2) Check my twitter
3) Check my blog
4) Check my eBay
5) Check my Facebook

For goodness sakes I’m not even joking! I often sit and try to cast my mind back to those days before social networking and online auctions such as eBay bloody existed, I know my life wasn’t boring so why do I now consider it to be just that if I’m unable to check-in to my 5 online hotspots throughout the day?

Yes, Social media is taking over the world and i’m happily clinging on and going for the ride!

Seriously though, I don’t sit for hours tweeting and liking, life won’t allow me. Yes, I’m a mother, I have a family to contend with! Yet I do find myself frequently popping in and out to my online life, modern technology such as the iPhone makes this an easy task to achieve.

Now, if you noticed number four on my list is to check my eBay. Now this much loved online auction site has griped many including myself, only I’m surprised just how long that actually took to happen.

As a lover of shopping its rather strange that I’ve only actively been buying and selling through eBay this year. My friends and everybody else I know seem to have been at it forever and although I’ve always been completely aware of such happenings I had never found myself needing, nor wanting to use it… Well till now!

I think that maybe the sensible side of my brain made sure I stayed away. I’m the kind of person whom is quiet easily drawn in and rather hard to suck back out!

Hands up… I absolutely love that land called eBay!

Now although I have recently sold items on eBay I’ve actually brought a considerable amount more. So, what is it about buying on eBay that I just can’t seem to get enough off?

The fonder of eBay in my opinion is one very clever so & so. It’s simple, we’re not just get the frill associated with shopping we are also getting the buzz of winning! Then there is that aspect of getting a bargain and who in gods name doesn’t like getting one of those.

I have had my fair share but a bargain can only be that if we really need such items in the first place. I’m currently hooked on bidding for dresses and pretty vintage style clothing for my daughter. I’m also always on the hunt for trendy boys wear for little man and the toddler as well as indulging my shoe habit a fair bit of late. But although you’ll often hear me state “You can never have to many pairs of shoes” in all honestly one can and I probably have!

So, what is it I’m checking when I’m reaching for my iPhone at 7am. First thing I need to check is that of my buying list… You know, items i’ve won and items I’m winning! Then I’ll check my watch list and make the early morning decision on wether I want to bid on any of them items. Next up its of to my Selling list, where I’ll check to see how any of my listings are proceeding and maybe share them via my connected social networks.

Now although I’m holding my hands up here and admitting that yes maybe I am a little bit of an eBay addict, I can still say with confidence that items I’m bidding on get a max bid which I stick to. There has been the odd item I’ve battled for but now I use a special technique “Would I buy it right now in a shop for the same price?” this normally does the trick.

As for selling, this is a buzz in itself. It’s great to list a desirable item then kick back and watch the interest and watchers grow. It’s also rather lovely to watch your item ending especially when the price rises beyond what was expected.

With three growing children and my own over flowing wardrobes caused by obsessive shopping trips and hoarding items for donkeys years I have a fair bit of stuff to sell. Unfortunately eBay are only allowing me to list 10 items per month and despite my continuous request for a higher selling allowance and ebays promise to send me a letter as verification of my address they still have failed to send it so I’m stuck. Another problem with selling on ebay is the fact that I never seem to transfer the funds made from my listings back into my bank account via PayPal to withdraw! Why not… Because I use it to buy more!

I’ve been reasonably lucky with my listings and this is mainly due to some great sellers tips passed around by friends here on the net. Here’s a few I’ve been introduced to which have worked well for me!

1) In most cases list items as singles (especially when selling branded clothing and lovely children’s pieces) this also cuts down your postage costs.

2) Don’t start your listing to high as it puts people off.

3) Add photo packs (great for free and reduced insertion days)

4) Be reasonable with P&P and offer a combined postage.

5) Recheck spellings before confirming a listing as you don’t want to be coming up on the listings over at “Fat Fingers”

6) Add pictures from varying angles

7) Don’t list for no less than 10 days ( this means your item gets seen more and end up in many a persons watch list)

8) schedule listings to finish at around 9pm as this is normally a child free time (unless your living in my house)! It’s true though it’s the most least busy hour of a person’s day, unless you work nights or are tucked up in bed.

9) List brand names and picture the labels

10) Reframe from listing a “Buy it now” price (this often makes people reluctant to bid more in the end if the item doesn’t sell before the end time)

11) It does no harm to hit the share button and blast out to your followers on social networks.

I do follow the above and for me it’s been beneficial.

But what about buying on eBay?
I’ve got some awesome buys for a steal, example… TOPSHOP woman’s coat (brand new with tags) original price £75.00 won bid at 99p and the P&P was £3.00, Infant Red LEGO Kickers won bid at £1.04 and the P&P was £2.70 and another great one was a bundle of girls clothing consisting mainly of dresses from next, monsoon and Zara, number of items 13 won bid at £6.00 and p&p 4.00

So… Is there a trick in getting things for monkey nuts?

The TOPSHOP Coat and the Lego Kickers both had typos within the listings title which I found using the “Fat Fingers” app available on iTunes. The clothing bundle consisting of 13 pretty dresses made the mistake of listing within the wrong category as well as having an early hours ending time.

I have found in the short time I have actively been using email that feedback is of great importance. I now read this before biding (unless the item is ending within seconds when I’ve discovered it and I really want it that is). I brought a pair of Adidas women’s trainers for a steal at 99p but the seller took my PayPal and seemingly never sent the item. I’m all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, but when you state, “I’ve sent so out of my hands” when I inform you it hasn’t been delivered. Then tell me on a second occasion, “I don’t care it’s your problem” then I get the sneaky suspicion you never sent it anyway. Yes it’s just 99p with a fivers P&P but it’s beside the point and after several attempts to reason with the seller and opening a case with email I gave her bad feedback.

Feedback helps buyers feel more confident in bidding on your items making you more money. As a stay at home mum and full time carer I just sell the odd item and then use the funds to bid on items I need for the children. But I can sell the money that can be made easily with the help of eBay and it’s something I’d consider come Christmas. If my sellers allowance is increased that is!

I’d love to hear from any eBay pros, please feel free to leave your comments and any useful tips or wise advice within the comment section below.

Below is a picture of a few items I’ve brought and what I’ve paid (yes there are plenty more from where they came from)!

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Mummy Bloggers are a lot like Marmite, You either love um or you hate um

Hi my names Claire I write two blogs and yes, I’m open to working with brands!

Long Pause

(((((BANG)))))

That was the sound of me being shoot dead!

Seriously people, move on, get over it, who bloody cares!

This stigma attached to the “Mummy blogger” is worn out, old, dated and if I’m honest, a tad boring. Did I rage with anger when I sat reading the odd twee, (that seemingly grew in a pestiferous rhythm) labelling us “Mummy bloggers” as nothing other than scummy greedy blaggers?

Yes, a little, after all… who didn’t?

Do I still have a little anger manifesting deep within me?

Hell no!

You see, blogging is based around relationships, the whole mechanism of your blog is built up around relationships, reviews or no reviews!

You have your relationship with your readers, those with your twitter and Facebook followers, your community of like-minded bloggers and of course you have the relationship between blogger and brand!

It’s keeping these relationships positive that counts, it’s what matters. You want your readers to be happy and I feel that even though not every review will be read by your regular readers, they will still return to read what ever it is that interest them because you blog with passion and proficiency! I’m sure that if they are looking for a review on a certain product, they will look through yours first!

This is the beauty of email subscription, if one article isn’t to you’re liking then you just delete the email, no harm done! When a post does fall into their inbox that does interest them, they will hit the link and make their way over! It’s like a magazine, unless you’re highly lucky, you never read a magazine cover to cover as there are bound to be bits in there that have no interest to you whatsoever! The point is true followers will stick about, appreciate your writing, after all that’s why they subscribed in the first instance!

So… why do I care what some random pesky person on twitter has to say when expressing they’re flagitious and unsightly remarks, after all most are made by those who lack the skills to write a review so therefore sit about all day deliberating on what to do next, actually try it, or just pop on twitter and mock the “Mummy blogger” who does it and does it well, all in the hope of an argument unfolding! Sad, I know!

Now the only time I find such remarks offensive is when they are made by fellow bloggers, one’s who vacillates between conflicting opinions as and when it suits them! A month down the line such bloggers are often found hosting a somewhat converted blog from personal content into this top-notch review site… Now that’s just bloody annoying!

So, with the blogger, blagger debate in full swing in the run-up to Christmas, I began to notice a huge decrees in the number of PRrequest sent via the twitter hashtag, tweeted by my “now apprehensive fellow bloggers!”

Then came the tweet, the one containing that big question…

“Is this the end of the mummy blogger?”

I laughed, I laughed a little then I laughed some more!

“Baby… this is just the beginning!”

It would only be a matter of time till the request started filling the timeline of that hash-tag once more and with it would come a host of PRs and Brands willing to comply! You see, I have seen requests made by bloggers, that have me thinking, “You cheeky sod” and some bloggers can be a little greedy, but as long as they are delivering what they have promised, then to call them a blagger is barbaric, cheeky OK, Blagger… I don’t think so!

PRs are not credulous, they approach the blogger offering reviews, they also receive direct requests from bloggers that are full off ebullience. If the PR/Brand in question agree then that partnership a long with its agreed terms and conditions, is designed to benefit both! The PR gets its client considerably cheaper advertising on a site that quite often has more hits than your larger big brand sites, the blogger reviews a product of interest, gets to voice their opinions, supply honest feed back while doing what they love… writing/blogging! Only if that blogger does this in return for payment, can the review item be looked upon as a “FREEBIE” otherwise, I feel it’s a pretty low payment for the potential hundreds, even thousands of hits a brand can obtain via that honest, detailed product review.

What’s important here is the relationship between blogger and brand, a good mix makes the perfect working relationship and as long as they are happy with you as much as you are with them, they will return in the future and you’ll be happy to accept any offers when they do.

We are women as-well as mothers… a few blog post calling us a name or two, or that of a string of RTs on twitter, branding us freebie grabbers with no self-respect isn’t likely to knock us down, it just fills us with more doggedness! I for one have been dealt bigger and uglier situations then this one! I make my own choices as a grown arse woman, no fellow blogger, tweeter, or other, contradicts what I do on my blog, it is my blog after all!

I blogged for well over 2 years before I even considered a PR request (which wasn’t due to a shortage of emails containing invites to some of the hottest events while gaining access to some of the top products on the market at that moment in time). Yet, I was on a mission to get my son a statement of special educational needs, a school to meet those needs, a winning outcome of a pending disability discrimination tribunal case, on top of coping with sleepless nights, miscarriage, pregnancy, a new addition to the family and a personal journey of self discovery! A review did not appeal to me (even if it was something pretty cool) anyhow, I had no time, it wouldn’t be fair on anyone, myself, family, readers or the PR/brand offering.

It’s now January 2012, the Mummy blogger/blagger debate is still out there baring its ugly head, yet I can’t see it, and don’t wish to nether!

I’ve sat back and observed twitters PRrequest timeline as its refilled itself with bloggers requests once more! The signs that would indicate the past events is no more! I’m pleased that my fellow bloggers haven’t been pushed away by these hostile, jealous, over opinionated haters, even if the odd request is somewhat “Cheeky”

If anything I love them “Cheeky” requests, you know the ones…

“Established blogger is lost without her iPad 2 since the nipper threw it down the loo, anyone out there wanting to send me one in exchange for an extensive review on my blog #cheekyprrequest”

Why do I love them?

Because it alway brings the “Anti Mummy Bloggers” sliding out from the woodwork, joining forces, it quite obviously give them a means of conversation, therefore meaning that in actual fact, “Mummy bloggers” are doing what they do best… creating hot topics of conversation therefore giving social media a good old push in the right direction!

“Mummy bloggers” are a bit like Marmite, you either love um or you hate um!

Personally, I think we are pretty awesome #mummybloggersareawesome :)

20 things that make a successful Mummy blogger

I’ve been blogging over three years now and truly love it! At first I thought it may be a bit like keeping a diary and if this was true, then it would be a passing phase that’s forgotten two months down the line. This didn’t happen and I discovered that I truly loved to write and then broadcast that piece of writing to anybody out there interested in what I had to say. I enjoy it and find myself wanting to engage in such an activity on a day-to-day basis.

I’m no expert, but I have been blogging over on my blog “A boy with Aspergers” for a long time now! I love to social network and have therefore discovered like-minded bloggers, all parents blogging separately but somehow coming together as one community. With this in mind, I think I’ve discovered one or two tricks to keep you on track and on your way to becoming a better if not successful blogger.

  1. Passion is what keeps a blog floating, without it… your nothing… you will sink quickly and disappear!
  2. Be honest, it’s the key to gaining a good readership
  3. Join up to twitter, tweet your post, find like-minded bloggers, most importantly interact as well as promote, this way others get to know you and are more interested in what you may have to say on your blog (you will also uncover truly lovely and talented people along the way)
  4. Create a Facebook fan page, link this to your blog, set your blog to auto post to your Facebook page, followers can then navigate their way to your blog every time you post something of interest
  5. Join Social groups such as BritMums, get involved in blogging campaigns, voice your opinions without fear,  involve yourself in group conversations, (or even start your own) via the forum or specially designed groups hosting like-minded bloggers.
  6. Many mummy bloggers are creative and enjoy taking pictures. Get involved in photo projects such as project 366, Silent Sunday  & Satcap, then link your post to the linkys in other blogs (don’t forget to check other people’s links within the linky).
  7. Successful mummy bloggers are those who help others, whether it’s by giving advice to a fellow bloggers on Tech issues or supporting a charity campaign.
  8. Become part of the community! Mummy bloggers have become much more mainstream now. You can find plenty of articles about us in national papers and even through the TV, when I started blogging I chose not to involve myself as much as I do now, plus there were certain sites and social networks that took me a while to discover. My advice is to step into the community, not only can you gain advice and support, you can also bag yourself a good friend or two!
  9. Comment on other blogs you enjoy reading! Successful mummy bloggers build both good relationships and readership by commenting on other bloggers post (plus replying to those who commented on their own).
  10. Don’t blog for the hell of it, good mummy bloggers produce great content by blogging when the urge takes them (giving its possible with the kids around your feet). Blogging just to keep your post content regular or your stats high, will only produce poor content
  11. Create a YouTube account and vlog to your heart’s content then link up with others that like to vlog (checkout the BritMums vlogging group).
  12. When them creative ideas Pop into your head, write them down on paper… or if possible share it there and then (after all, the next day you may have writers block)
  13. Don’t do something because every other blogger is doing it, do it because you want too… if you don’t like it, then don’t blog it… it’s that simple. Everything you post, needs to be there because you really wanted to write it, its my opinion it shows within your writing (I even make sponsored post my own, and never write a full press release)!
  14. Many great mummy bloggers do reviews on their blogs, others don’t… personally I feel the hype of the blogger blagger debate crushed the confidence of some mummy bloggers… If you want to review, do it, stand proud and don’t worry what others say or think… successful mummy bloggers are strong mummy bloggers
  15. Attend conferences and bloggers workshops! This allows you to gain ideas, get advice, mingle with bloggers and brands all while having a good time. Britmums Live and tots100 blogcamp are worth a visit.
  16. Great mummy blogger are not afraid to start a huge debate. I feel debates are a great way to get readers and comments on your blogs as long as you feel strongly about what you write and its true to your heart then its worth writing… plus your honesty will win you more readers in the long run.
  17. Stick to what you know! I’ve read blogs where someone has written a post that’s been of interest within the media therefore assuming it will gain them lots of traffic. However they clearly have no idea about the issues at hand, therefore losing a load of traffic in the long run.
  18. Be up front about what your open too. No one likes to see a blogger stating.. “I’ll never except a product for review” only two months later their blog is full of them.
  19. Be careful what you write. Don’t leave yourself open to copyright theft (you can get free protection) and be careful when posting pictures or content that isn’t your own. Publishing content of this type should only be done so when giving full recognition to it’s original author, plus a full link back..
  20. Successful bloggers do check their states, submit their blog URL to directories such as the Tots100 top mummy bloggers listing, although it is advisable not to become obsessed by states, ranks and whatever else… it still helps to have a goal and target for the month, it gives the blogger drive (difference is we just don’t cry about it if we don’t reach it). The most important thing to remember is to be original!

So, there you have it, my little list of tips! Yes, I could have added one or two others but with a toddler shouting “Mummy” in my ear, that’s my call to go!

Hope it helps and I’d love to hear how any of you newer bloggers are getting on!

LOST IN A LAND CALLED TWITTER

Yesterday I found myself in quite a heavy debate when a friend stated that those on twitter were lost in a fantasy world, they needed to start living in the real world!

Sometime ago I may have agreed with my friend, so, why not now?

Two years ago, Twitter was nothing but a giant puzzle to me. I tried but just couldn’t get into the whole thing of tweeting, I failed miserably!

English: Tweeting bird, derived from the initi...

Image via Wikipedia

Believe it or not despite having an active twitter account with a twitter grade of 98, I’ve only been doing this tweeting malarky actively for around a year!

Sitting with a coffee in one hand and my iPhone in the other I scroll through my twitter timeline, I’m presented with hundreds of tweets from people (yes, real people) from all over the world! Overtime I’ve created a collection of followers, many I follow back, all with something to say and share with their fellow tweeters. The whole experience is customised the way I want it! You build this close-knit homogenous group of like-minded people, sometimes separating them into lists of smaller groups enabling you to create different groups for each and every one of your particular interests, whether that’s competition tweeters, news tweeters or fellow bloggers like myself!

Although twitter is a great way to promote a business, blog or website, there is so much more to it than this… It’s also a great place to engage in conversation! One minute you may find yourself talking politics with one tweeter, the next you’re holding a conversation with another 20 or more covering the events of last Friday night! Ok, we’re not sitting across the table from one another having a face to face conversation and yes, I admit it, some of these people I’ve never met and not likely to either, though there are many I have been lucky enough to met in person and yes, I’d go as far as calling them my friends.

So, how comes when I explained this to my friend she still failed to understand or even agree to disagree?

Well, apart from her being as stubborn as old boots, she isn’t exactly internet savvy either! For this reason alone I judged her mystification to be based purely on ignorance rather than malice.

Though I believe the above to be true, I do acknowledge the fact that this friend was also referring to how much time I spend tweeting! With this I asked myself…

“Do I spend too much time on twitter?”

Now, I cannot deny that there have been a few occasions where I have lost track of time as my timeline fills itself with more and more interesting content! Yes, I have found that every now and then the iPhone has somehow got stuck to my hand, I’m under no illusions that it hasn’t, yes I know this to be true! OK, I could have been spending this time doing the more productive things that life requires, such as cleaning the house (what fun). Yet, it safe to say that twitter has never stopped me from living!

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

What’s more, I feel much good has come from the land of twitter, take the London Riot Cleanup as a perfect example! I myself assembled a team of local people to help me clean up Lewisham! This team was assembled in no more than a few hours with the power of a hash tag. This was seen as a positive thing right! Those people who Re- Tweeted my tweets for help were very real, and living very much in the real world! Those people who set out to help me that summer’s morning were again very real people, living in a very real & sometime crawl world! The revolution of a hash tag also brought with it positive media attention, not only was I interview by Gabby for the breakfast show on BBC radio (after she see my tweet I must add)! But I was also met by a host of BBC news reporters who followed us around all day and then shared the cleanup with the rest of the UK via a 6 O’Clock news report! Surely this is a positive thing, one created with the help of twitter?

Twitter holds the technology to send news fast, it enables you to gain support for charities and campaigns, once of great significance, after all, where else can you get a message around the world in a matter of seconds?

Free twitter badge

Image via Wikipedia

Anyone and everyone can be a part of twitter, making it what they want it to be! Social, business, a mix of both… that’s the point, It doesn’t matter because it’s your creation.

You will find everyone from celebs, charity campaigners, mummy bloggers to the average Joe,  all tweeting about something or another, reaching out and becoming an influence in their own right. It’s a place these groups of everyday people are able to come together and complement one another despite their way of life.

Twitter is real… very real, it’s a place made up of units upon units of millions of real people all with a message for the world, something they want you to know… its follower! Whether that’s the fact they are sat on the train next to the most annoying person ever to grace the planet, or whether they just experienced the very first tremor of China’s massive quake… they just wanted you to know all the same!

Like anything else… drink, sex or drugs, you only find yourself lost in a land called twitter if it isn’t used the correct way… in moderation!

Yes, I like twitter (a lot, a lot, a lot…) Do I find myself tweeting on a daily basis? Umm… Yes! Do I check my mentions daily? Umm… Yes! Does it stop me from being the person I am, a mother with a healthy relationship with her children? Umm… No! Does it stop me from looking after myself and my children? Umm… No!

So… am I lost in a land called twitter?

I don’t think so, and for those who do… your just a little bit bonkers!

One that doesn’t understand the significance of something so powerful will of course fail to see its purpose and how much of a reality it really is!