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Saturday, 29 November 2014

STRICTLY COME SHOPPING - A seasonal look at compulsive spending


Can I come out now? As Black Friday turns into Spent-up Saturday, I can't help wondering if shopping will soon be  available as therapy on the NHS. For while I stayed home this weekend it seemed like the whole of the Western world set out with money in their hands to give themselves a much-earned tonic. But was it really a tonic?

Judging by the fights that broke out amongst desperate shoppers looking for a bargain, it turned into an ordeal.  Ok, so fighting over a parking space at this time of the year is to be expected - but tussling over a cut-price smart TV in the middle of your favourite store? Now that sounds like desperation. Or even compulsion. So I decided there must be self-help books to   conquer this strange phenomenon that we women have known about for years.

After much research, I've come up with some perfect self-help books - ideal Christmas presents for those who have already  bought everything they need - and don't need -  for themselves. So here goes...

The Shopping Addiction Cure: How to stop your compulsive spending forever!  by Olivia Sanborne
At only 21 pages this book promises to 'help you understand the meaning of  addiction and what steps you can take to control your spending..'  At £1.85 your purse will still seem depressingly full and your knowledge fairly limited.  But if you can't resist  you can buy it here

To Buy or Not to Buy - Why we Overshop and How to Stop was written for our friends across The Pond but is equally relevant to we Brits.

  • Do you use shopping as a quick fix for the blues?

  • Do you often buy things that you don’t need or can’t afford?

  • Do your buying binges leave you feeling anxious or guilty?

  • Is your shopping behavior hurting your relationships?

  • Have you tried to stop but been unable to?

  • If so, you are not alone. Nearly 18 million Americans are problem shoppers, unable to break the buying habits that lead them into debt, damaged relationships, and depression. If this describes you, or someone you care about, the help you need is here.
    Drawing on recent research and on decades of working with overshoppers, Dr. April Benson brings together key insights with practical strategies in a powerful program to help you stop overshopping. As you progress through this book, you’ll take back control of your shopping and spending and create a richer, more meaningful and satisfying life.

    To Buy or Not to Buy - Why we Overshop and How to Stop

     But my favourite book, written six years ago by the lovely Sophie Kinsella, though not strictly self-help, is still a novel that every  big spender should read.

           On the face of it, Rebecca Bloomwood has it all. Confident, single and happily living in des-res Fulham with her best friend Suze, she's a financial journalist who spends her days writing articles advising other people on the importance of budgeting and prudent investing. Her private life is a different story though; Rebecca manages her own finances in a way that would make most of her readers' hair curl--for Rebecca is a woman on a mission--she just can't stop spending.
    I look up and I'm in front of Octagon. My favourite shop in the whole world. Three floors of clothes, accessories, furnishing, gifts, coffee shops, juice bars and a florist which makes you want to fill your entire home with flowers. I've got my purse with me. Just something small, to cheer me up. A T-shirt or something. Or even some bubble bath. I won't spend much. I'll just go in and... I'm already pushing my way through the doors. Oh God, the relief. The warmth, the light. This is where I belong. This is my natural habitat.
    As the plot unfolds, Rebecca finds increasingly bizarre and often highly comical ways to ignore her ever-growing debts and mounting pile of unpaid Visa bills and red bank statements. Got a bill you can't pay? No problem. Just take it out for a walk and deposit it in the nearest skip whilst no-one is looking. Need to justify that £120 velvet scarf? Don't worry! It was a snip at half price in the sale, so what initially looks like a splurge is actually an example of canny discount shopping. Rebecca's disastrous love life mirrors her finances. And her career seems to be taking a turn for the worse, too. That is, until she finds a financial story that really sparks her journalistic interest, and begins to spar with handsome and successful financial PR millionaire Luke Brandon. Witty, light-hearted and often hilarious, The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic is the ideal read for anyone who has ever found themselves mentally justifying rash purchases in their heads, or buying just one more pair of black trousers because they are so different from the other eight pairs in their wardrobe. --Emily Lowson

    The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic

    And if you like this one - try the rest in the series...

    Happy Reading everyone!


    Monday, 17 November 2014

    Cats, Christmas - and a bull that got my goat!

    Children's author David J Garnett called into my book signing this weekend  at Greenlands FarmVillage, Carnforth, Lancashire  where the annual Christmas Craft and Food Fair turned out to be the busiest on record!

    As well as meeting some lovely readers we managed to raise almost £30 for Children in Need, thanks to some very generous customers.

    The mild November weather made it easy for young and old to mingle with a host of animals - cows, bulls, goats, sheep, donkeys and a very friendly turkey which seemed intent on making friends with everybody.

    Meanwhile author David, who lives in Bolton-le-Sands on the edge of the Lake District, explained that he was inspired to write The Glutton Cat - the story of a very greedy moggy- by his friend's cat Mindy, who, has a reputation for eating too much!

    An adventure story for children, the 56-page illustrated paperback is available for £5.99 from  David, who works full time for Network Rail in Carnforth as an electrical engineering technician, has just finished the sequel  aptly entitled The Further Adventures of Glutton Cat - the Legend of Hector. 

    And now for some more photos of the animals at Greenlands Farm.

    Lunch anyone?

    Taken for a ride? 

    My thanks go to The Bookworms, the Lancaster-based reading group who hosted the
    book signing.


    Friday, 14 November 2014

    Hard to bear? Twenty-four-hour interview stint breaks world record!

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    John hears the news that he's broken the world record!

    I helped to break a world record today - along with almost three hundred volunteers. The star of the show was BBC Radio Lancashire's popular presenter John Gillmore who worked  round the clock interviewing every single one of us to raise money for Children in Need.

    Known affectionately as 'Gilly', John held 293 live interviews  over twenty-four hours in the Blackburn-based studio - beating the previous record-holder's  (an Italian broadcaster) total of 256.

    Embedded image permalink
    I do my bit

    And what a day it was! The studio was buzzing with a carnival atmosphere that belied the serious intention behind the task. We all wore Paddington-bear type tags so that we could be easily identified and played a game of musical chairs as we gradually moved up the queue to take our place in the studio.

    Just ahead of me was Dr Nick Lister, of the Lawrence House Academy and Space Centre, Fleetwood, the UK.s only school of astronomy.  He was very excited about robotic space probe Rosetta's successful comet landing  after 10 years work by the European Space Agency. As I watched  his live interview I felt like I was witnessing a piece of history taking place.

    People came from everywhere to discuss their charity work, their businesses, their successes, their plans and their achievements.

    Along with  a very lifelike Pudsey Bear,  several animals even made it into the studio  to have their moment of glory.

    And then there was me, of course, talking about Baggy Pants and Bootees.  All very humbling, really.
    I'll be doing a book signing at Greenlands Farm Village Christmas Fair in Tewitfield, Carnforth this weekend  (Saturday November  15 - Sunday November 16) from 10am-5pm. This is kindly being hosted by Carnforth-based reading group The Bookworms and £1 from every copy sold will go to Children in Need.

    Watch this space for the final total raised by Radio Lancashire's Gillathon . And spare a thought for the  unstoppable John Gillmore.  I hope he's having a well-deserved rest...

     Greenlands Farm Village Christmas Craft and Food Fair

    Monday, 10 November 2014


    This is my grandfather, James Richard Brown,  who fought with the 2nd Royal Guernsey Light Infantry and the Royal Irish Fusiliers in World War One. He was invalided out of the army on May 6, 1919 after losing a lung. Today I am thinking of all the other brave soldiers who never had the chance to be
     fathers and grandfathers.
      Gold Bless them all.


    Monday, 3 November 2014


    A new website, a new novel, plus a sequel to Baggy Pants and Bootees. There - I've made my New Year's resolutions early and nothing can stop me  from reaching my goal.

    The problem with November is that it's easy to get distracted from completing the work-in-progress. Should I blog about Guy Fawkes Inn that I discovered on my last trip to York?

    Guy Fawkes Inn


    Should I increase my marketing to gain maximum exposure for the festive season ?


     Should I join the group that will make me lose a dress size before the festive season. (I'm always losing things, but a weight isn't one of them.)

    Find your name here

    I wonder if that magazine editor still wants my piece about how I got published?


    Did I  say I'd give a talk to that lovely writers' group before Christmas?


    I love the new hardback from my favourite author, but I'm still only halfway through it...


    I need more 'likes' for my facebook author page.  Not to mention followers on twitter.... It can pay to be cheeky              

    Is the word disorganised in the dictionary? I can never find it....

    Now where was I? Oh yes, my plans for next year. I've written them down at the beginning of this blog.  All I have to do is follow them. Wish me luck!