Tag Archives: contest

A Writing Contest and a Chance to Save the Wolves!

Wolves in a snowy landscape

Writer and wolf-lover extraordinaire, Kate Johnston, aka 4am Writer, is running a fun writing contest over on her blog. Help Kate save El Lobo, the Mexican gray wolf, and write a 250 word story which features a wolf in some way. But I’ll let Kate tell you the rest, so hop on over there, and hurry, the deadline is 31 March – Contest link.


Is This Hat Ridiculous Enough Carrie?

Vanessa in a colander hat

If you missed my last post because you were Christmasly absent, you still have time to enter to win a prize! In short I’m asking people to suggest silly, frivolous things I can do over the year, and show on my blog. Carrie Rubin suggested that I count the new year in down from 10, and then finish with a tuck jump, wearing a ridiculous hat.

Well ok then! Here is the video of me doing that – for obvious reasons it had to be done in one take, so it’s not…erm…COMPLETELY perfect. First the video starts from me counting 9 not 10, secondly I seem to be having trouble holding up the right number of fingers as I count down, next my tuck jump is rather pathetic, and finally my son interpreted in his own way my request that he throw a handful of sparkly stars over me at the end. But at least it was fun, and that was the objective!

If you want to join in, and be in with a chance of winning, you have until 15 January to do so, pop back over to the previous post and leave your suggestion in the comments there (but don’t forget to leave a comment here first about how hilarious you found the video, not for my benefit you understand, just so that Carrie feels her suggestion was appreciated! Yep, that’s the reason, for Carrie’s benefit, I’m fine, but she needs that kind of reassurance you know).

What fun have you had so far this year?

The Worst Poem in the History of the World Ever Ever Ever…for Jilanne!

A long time ago, some of you may vaguely recall we played the Five Truths and One Lie game. As with the previous time I did this, I offered a prize of a poem written and read out by me for the winner. Boy did I end up regretting that. After the deadline passed, I randomly drew one of the names from those who guessed correctly, and the winner was…wait for it…wait for it…oh right, I’ve already told you in the title, Jilanne Hoffman! Congrats Jilanne!

And that’s when the trouble started…

I felt totally uninspired to write any kind of poem. That’s ok, I thought, I’ll leave it for a bit and come back to it. So I left it for a bit, came back, still no inspiration. I wrote a blog post about something else instead. As the weeks passed, I kept thinking about it and worrying about it, I kept telling myself to stop being silly, I’m not a poet, I’ve never claimed to be, nobody is expecting some incredible work of genius poetry. Just do SOMETHING Vanessa!

But the more time passed, the more I felt that the poem had to be really good to justify taking so long, and I therefore felt more and more stifled in my ability to write it. I put up two more blog posts, I apologised for not having done the poem yet. I stressed some more about it.

A few weeks ago I decided it was getting embarrassing, I couldn’t write any more blog posts until I did the poem one, and I didn’t, and weeks passed, and I didn’t do any blog posts. I barely showed my face around anyone else’s blogs for fear of being asked about the winner’s poem. And then this past weekend, it suddenly struck me – nobody cares! I was getting myself into a state over something that was just meant to be a bit of trivial fun. Anybody who may have cared a bit at first, has long since moved on.

So I forced myself to just throw something down on paper yesterday (or actually on screen), thrust my phone at Neil, and said…

“Neil, video me now, we’re doing this in one take, it’s terrible, but let’s just do it!”

“Sure. Is that what you’re wearing?” (For the record, men, nothing good ever came from that question).

“Yes, I’m wearing my squirrel onesie, ok? I will add a string of daisies round my head to make you happy though. Is that better? Does that make you happy?!”

“Um…yes…you look er…great Vanessa…I’m just wondering though, and this is only a suggestion, but-“


And he did. It’s not pretty, it’s not funny, it’s not clever, but it is finished!

Sorry Jilanne to have given you such a lousy prize, and for it to have taken so long. Now can we all just move on and pretend this never happened?

Oh you might still want to know which one was the lie. This one was the lie:

2. When I was about 22/23 I went out shopping with my slippers on, and didn’t notice until I was in the shopping mall, and so quickly popped into a shoe shop to buy an emergency pair. I spent rather too long browsing, and after a while was approached by two policemen who spoke to me in kind tones, smiling and glancing at my slippers, telling me it was time to go back to the centre. I wasn’t quite sure what centre they were talking about, but I eventually managed to persuade them that I didn’t need to go back to any centre, and had simply made a footwear error!LIE!

If you want a reminder of what the other, true ones, were then you’ll have to go back to the original post.

Do you write poetry? Have you ever got yourself into a disproportionate state over something silly? Have you ever thought that a squirrel onesie and a daisy headband was a good fashion choice?

It’s Time to Play Again!

Fairground ducks

We previously had such fun playing the Five Truths and One Lie game on here. Do you remember? So I thought we’d play it again. Last time, the prize I gave was to write a poem for the winner and record myself reciting it (prizes don’t get much better than that right?). Darla from She’s a Maineiac won last time:

I thought I’d do a different prize this time, but couldn’t think of anything good, so I’m doing the same prize again.

Here we are then, five truths and one lie about things from my past. Tell me in the comments which one you think is the lie. If more than one person gets it right, there will be a random drawing. If nobody gets it right, I will do a poem for the person who I think gave the best reasoning for their answer.

Only one guess per person folks. You have until this time next week. Ready? Go…

1.  When I was a child I used to think that horses made that clip clop noise with their mouths rather than with their hooves. I think it was probably because when people pretend to be horses they often make that noise with their mouths.

2.  When I was about 22/23 I went out shopping with my slippers on, and didn’t notice until I was in the shopping mall, and so quickly popped into a shoe shop to buy an emergency pair. I spent rather too long browsing, and after a while was approached by two policemen who spoke to me in kind tones, smiling and glancing at my slippers, telling me it was time to go back to the centre. I wasn’t quite sure what centre they were talking about, but I eventually managed to persuade them that I didn’t need to go back to any centre, and had simply made a footwear error!

3.  In my early 20s I had a makeover done in a magazine. This was my first experience of discovering that magazine/newspaper writers can completely make things up. They printed a supposed quote from me saying “I never thought my hair could look like this, I’ve got curls!” Seriously, who talks like that? (Try saying it out loud).

4.  I was extremely greedy as a small child, and one of the ways this manifested itself was that I used to sneak tubs of margarine out of the fridge and eat them with a spoon. My parents used to find empty tubs of margarine hidden in my room.

5.  When I was about 11/12 (1981/2) a well-known TV comedian kissed me on the mouth backstage after a live show, not in a creepy secretive way, but in a joke way. He did that thing of pointing at his cheek for a kiss and then turning his head at the last second when I went to kiss his cheek. It’s a real sign of how times have changed because there were other adults around, everyone laughed, it was no big deal, and I wasn’t bothered by it (other than feeling a bit silly that he’d tricked me). Now when I look back at it I find it a bit inappropriate, but back then it all seemed quite normal. I’m not going to name him because he’s still a well known personality and these things can get blown out of proportion, it was innocent at the time.

6. When I was five I went on a trip to Malta with my Mum, and we took a ride on a horse-drawn carriage. My head got bashed repeatedly throughout the trip by something hard sticking out of the carriage. It hurt so much I was having to fight back the tears, but I didn’t say a word about it, because I was embarrassed to in front of the man driving (is “driving” the right word?). A couple of days later, I fell down some marble stairs outside the hotel and cut the back of my head pretty bad, I still have the scar. It wasn’t a good trip for my head!

If you’re short of posting ideas, why not do a Five Truths and One Lie game on your blog? If you do, let me know so that I can come and play yours!

photo credit: Sutton Coldfield Carnival 2012 via photopin (license)

So, Who Identified the Truths Correctly?

Last week we played five truths and one lie on here, and lots of you had a go at guessing. I can now reveal that the lie was…the juggling! I’m afraid I cannot juggle five balls. It’s true that juggling is a skill I would love to have, but I don’t have it. Seven of you guessed correctly, and the randomly selected winner from those was Darla from She’s a Maineiac! Hurrah, congrats Darla!

I’ll give a bit of a run down on the list in a moment, but first, as promised, here is your prize Darla, a poem written and recited for you, by me…

The run down on the votes was:

1) The juggling, 7 votes.
2) The knitting, 12 votes.
3) The Piccadilly line, 3 votes.
4) The scary sea experiences, 3 votes.
5) The changing schools tale, 7 votes.
6) The stand-up comedy, 2 votes.

Regarding the knitting – this one received the highest votes, with several of you saying that you just don’t see me as a knitter. I figured this one would receive the highest votes because I don’t really see myself as a knitter either! And yet I love it. As I mentioned, I just don’t have time to do it these days, which is probably why it’s never come up on my blog. My grandmother was a great knitter and she taught me when I was a young child, so maybe there’s something comforting about knitting that reminds me of happy childhood memories with her.

Regarding the Piccadilly line – yes, I know it off by heart. It’s not the most interesting of party tricks to watch, so it’s best just done in my head.

Regarding the scary sea experiences – not much to say here, they happened as described!

Regarding the changing schools tale – this one received quite a few votes. It seems that several of you believed I could do that but you found it hard to believe that anyone would allow me to change schools without parental approval. I know, it is pretty hard to believe, and yet they did! We’re talking 30 years ago though, I doubt that could happen today.

Regarding the stand-up comedy – yes, I twice put myself through it. I’m pleased only two of you voted for that one though, or I’d have been all insecure like “Nobody thinks I’m funny enough!!!” The reason I did it a second time even though I found the first time unbearably nerve-wracking was that I wanted to see if the second time around the enjoyment would go up and fear would go down. It kind of did, but not enough to make me want to pursue it further. I’m not saying I would definitely never do it again, but I don’t think I would.

Well, congrats again to Darla, if you don’t already follow her fabulous blog, then go check her out, tell her Vanessa sent you. And if you have a go at this game, do let me know so that I can come and have a play!

It Was All Jen and Tonic’s Idea!

Last week, over at Sips of Jen and Tonic, Jen did a fun game to see how well her blogging followers know her. She told us five truths and one lie about herself, and invited us to guess which one was the lie. She then suggested that others might like to do the same thing on their blogs. Several others have already, and now I am!

I’m also offering a prize with mine, oh yes! Is it cash? No, it’s something better. Is it a gift certificate? No, much better. Books? Wine? Chocolate maybe? No, no, no. Far more exciting than that. One lucky winner will get…wait for it… the fantastic prize of me writing a poem specifically for them and posting a video of me reciting it on my blog! Da-daaaa!!! You’re welcome! If only one person gets the right answer, they win. If more than one person does, then I will randomly select one from those. If nobody gets it right, then I will randomly select someone from all those who guessed. One way or another, someone who makes a guess will get a poem from me whether they like it or not.

So, read the six things below about me, and guess which one is the lie, and answer in the comments. I’ll get my poker face ready…

Vanessa doing poker face

Is it still acceptable to play poker in your PJs in front of a big flower while going a bit cross-eyed? It’s so long since I’ve played, I don’t know what the etiquette is any more.

1) I’m quite a proficient juggler. It was something I’d always wanted to do, so several years back I bought a kit that came with an instructional video, a tips ‘n tricks book, and some juggling balls. I managed to work up to juggling five balls, and was very pleased with myself! Every so often I dig my balls out and have a little practice to make sure I don’t lose the skill.

2) I’m not really one for doing practical crafts, but I do love knitting; I find it very therapeutic, and am fairly good at it. I barely ever do it anymore because of time, but when I was pregnant I knitted baby blankets, cardigans, loads of unusual booties and some teddy bears. A few years ago I knitted chunky woolly hats for my friends for Christmas. I plan to knit a lot when I retire.

3) I can recite the whole Piccadilly line off by heart. I learned it over 25 years ago when I lived in London and had to travel on that underground line to and from work every day, and have never forgotten it. Staring up at the map helped me avoid catching anyone’s eye. It looks like this:

The Piccadilly Line

4) As a child I had two scary sea experiences that I’m pretty sure are the reason I’m nervous in deep water. When I was 5, I and three adults got stuck in a horrendous thunderstorm when the motor on our motorised dinghy broke while we were way out at sea, and it started filling with water. When I was 10, I and two other kids and one adult almost got stuck on a large raised area of sand when the tide was out, and we didn’t realise it had started coming back in around us and cutting off our access back to the beach. We only realised when the lifeguard came rushing out to help us get back!

5) When I was 13 I decided I didn’t like the school I had been going to for two years and wanted to change. While my Dad was away in Greece for a fortnight, and I was being looked after by my gran, I told the school I was at that I wasn’t coming back, went to see the headteacher (principal) of the school I wanted to change to and told him I wanted a place there. I made all the arrangements myself, and by the time my Dad got back from his trip I had already started at the new school, and he had known nothing about it!

6) Last year I twice performed some stand-up comedy at two pubs in London having never done it before. I did get lots of laughs which was quite a buzz, but unfortunately the extreme cramping nerves I felt leading up to it far outweighed any pleasure I derived from it.

To be in with a chance of winning the unique poem written and recited for you (again, you’re welcome), please  leave your guess in the comments below by end of play this Friday, November 29. And if you found this fun, why not do the same thing on your own blog! (You don’t have to do the poem bit).

P.S. Only one entry per person! (I’ve had to add this after Bulldog was very naughty).