One Photo No Words; 23rd November 2014 Ice the reindeer

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How To Fight Fraud with NatWest

Having been a victim of card fraud not once but twice, I was pleased to be given the opportunity to share Natwest’s ‘How To Fight Fraud‘ interactive tool.

In both cases I was very fortunate in that my bank dealt promptly with the fraud team and I got all my money back. This was several years ago and the way we are targeted is getting evermore sophisticated, so, as according to the Financial Fraud Action UK, fraud cost the British population more than £600m in 2013, I’d say prevention is better than cure.

From NatWest:

When we say ‘fraud’, we’re referring to criminal attacks and scams that take place through a variety of methods including computer malware, identity theft, telephone banking and online shopping. To help reduce fraud in 2014, we think it’s important to understand the tactics that criminals are using, and more importantly, learn how we can protect ourselves.

Using data compiled by the Financial Fraud Authority, NatWest have created a tool that takes users through the 11 most common types of fraud. The aim is to inform and help users with the prevention of different types of fraud.

I think we’re all trying to be more savvy about online and offline fraud but it can’t hurt to learn new information when it becomes available.

I won’t go through everything but the first subject to come up is especially pertinent given the time of year. I’m sure I’m not the only one of us that has done, or intends to (get a wriggle on, only 32 shopping days!) at least some of their Christmas shopping online.

online fraud screenshot


Where are you doing your Christmas shopping? Online or on the high street? 

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The Prompt: A Letter writing a letter


She gathered her thoughts and then gathered pen and paper.

As her tears flowed so did the words, but, too many words, she didn’t want to ramble, she just wanted to express herself. Express her thoughts, express her needs, express her hopes and her fears. She wanted to do this succinctly and eloquently though, not drown the page with the emotionally charged ramblings of a desperate woman!

One, and then several, paper balls made their way into the waste basket that afternoon. This was not productive, she needed to get this down and have the letter done before he came home from work and discovered her. He would be expecting a meal being readied but she couldn’t even put a sentence together, let alone a lasagne!

She knew what she wanted, no, needed, to write, so why was it so hard to put a few words in the right order? She took a deep breath and picked up the pen once more. Pausing only briefly to glance towards the bag by the door she started to write…

Dear John,



Prose for Thought
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World Television Day

Where would we be without TV?

I should have known there was a World Television Day as there seems to be a day for everything else, but, I didn’t. Did you? It’s been around a while:


In recognition of the increasing impact television has on decision-making by bringing world attention to conflicts and threats to peace and security and its potential role in sharpening the focus on other major issues, including economic and social issues, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 November as World Television Day (through resolution 51/205 of 17 December 1996).

World Television Day is not so much a celebration of the tool, but rather the philosophy which it represents. Television represents a symbol for communication and globalization in the contemporary world.


Tomorrow we’re being asked to choose a favourite tv clip to share with the world. I couldn’t pick just one so I’m sharing this Chandler from Friends compilation. Always my favourite! :) #WorldTVDay

9 reasons the world loves TV!

Imagine for a moment that, as of tomorrow, your television set stopped working. What’s the first thing you’d miss? Your favourite drama series? Staying in touch with the news? Seeing your sports club in action?

Maybe. But TV’s importance in society goes deeper than that. Television is a medium that improves the world, triggers imagination, raises curiosity, encourages education and gathers millions around common interests.

We believe in television as a medium that does good, we believe in television as a medium that triggers imagination, arises curiosity, encourages education and gathers millions around common interests. Here are nine good reasons why we should celebrate television today.

TV has authority

Today information is everywhere. But television has a particular authority. If you see something on TV, you know that millions of others are also seeing it, and that it has been verified, produced and created by professionals. That’s why television remains the most popular and trusted platform for news, culture, sports and entertainment.

I do trust TV news stations but it does sometimes seem like we can be overwhelmed with information. I’m of course aware that there’s an off button, and some days the TV doesn’t go on at all, but, back in 2003, when my partner was in Iraq, it was all too easy to be consumed with 24 hour news. 

TV creates communities

Great television programmes create communities around them. TV shows, live events and news make animated conversation for friends, family and colleagues. They bind people together and trigger reactions on social networks…

This is true; Twitter gets swamped with comment (both positive and negative) when a big show is on air. In these times of watching TV on delay though, the #nospoilersplease hashtag is just as common!

TV inspires the mind

Television is a fantastic educational tool. It broadens knowledge of different cultures, promotes tolerance and global understanding of international issues. Through current affairs, discovery, lifestyle, cooking shows and children’s programmes, television encourages scientific and cultural curiosity.

I agree it can be inspiring; I’m sure more than a few of us have attempted a recipe seen on The Great British Bake Off! I remember when I was younger there used to be programmes for schools on in the morning. My first love of words coincided with the character Wordy but I can’t remember if the show was called ‘Look & Read’ or ‘Words & Pictures.’ I’m sure those of you of a certain age may well remember him!

TV delivers quality

Thanks to the hard work of talented people on and off-screen, building on decades of experience and on new ways of working and communicating with audiences, the production quality of television programming has never been better than it is today.

Certainly some TV shows are filmed like movies these days. No more wobbly cardboard walls like there used to be in Crossroads back in the day!

TV gives a voice to good causes

Thanks to its unrivalled reach and emotional power, television enables effective calls for action during humanitarian crises, natural disasters and social emergencies. It reaches out to society through programmes and communication campaigns on environment, healthy eating, physical activity, responsible sexual attitudes and responsible alcohol consumption, and many others.

A fine example of this was the BBC’s Children In Need just last week. Year by year it raises more awareness and more money than before. Someone did quite rightly make the point last week that it would be more use if the stars involved donated money rather than time but I’m sure most do in some way or another. At least I hope so!

I donated *and* dressed up as Pudsey at work so I’m sure celebrities can stick their hands in their pockets too! Lisa as Pudsey 2014

TV goes hand-in-hand with sport

Without television, professional sport would be unrecognisable. Millions enjoy watching live sport every week from all parts of the world in ever-higher picture quality, and enjoy the sense of unity that sports coverage creates. Televised sport has other benefits: it promotes sport’s values and ethics, and it inspires people to follow healthy role models.

I don’t watch anywhere near as much sport as I used to. I’d follow football, tennis, formula one, olympics…Saturdays used to revolve around World Of Sport with Dickie Davies (yes even the wrestling!), but, though I’m still interested, my dizzy migraines mean I often can’t sit and take everything in.  I think there are too many channels purely dedicated to sport but I remain pleased it’s televised.

TV stimulates the economy

The global media sector of which television is a major part employs  millions of skilled workers across the world; over 1.2 million people are estimated to work in the audiovisual sector in the European Union alone*. In addition, the success of commercial television as an advertising medium generates revenue which can be reinvested in even more great programming for viewers.

I thought the only way it stimulated economy was people falling over themselves to get the latest television technology! There were some TVs with huge curved screens at the shops the other day. I very rarely go into town so they were very new to me. It only seems like yesterday I was excited to have a flat screen! 

TV embraces the digital age

Consumers now have more opportunities to enjoy television content than ever before. Viewers can watch on multiple screens and interact within fan communities and social platforms. The social television experience is completed with exclusive online content, pre-release of sequences before linear-TV broadcast, digital video interviews, making of videos, backstage photos and many others.

Thank goodness it does…I loved ‘Ripper Street’ on the BBC but they cancelled it, there was even a Twitter campaign to bring it back! Luckily Amazon stepped in and I’ll be able to watch the third series on my laptop. 

TV reaches consumers & builds brands

Television ensures that consumers know about new products, services, ideas and projects. It strengthens the position of existing brands and reassures consumers about the choices they make.

I’m torn on this one. That certainly used to be the case but now a lot of us skip the ads while watching TV don’t we? I suppose that’s where product placement comes into play though!

* Source: EU Audiovisual Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee

If my television stopped working though I wonder how much I’d miss now that there’s online streaming. My laptop plays DVDs so I could still watch films and box sets. I’d probably listen to the radio more and get more of my reading pile actually read but I would miss setting time aside to sit and watch something. Getting a drink and a snack to settle down on the sofa ready for a favourite programme…hmmm…what would you miss?


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Woof Wednesday: Stella’s Pet Shop Bowl Review

Hello again woofers! I have been a very lucky girl again and have been sent some nommy stuff from the generous humans at PetShopBowl. Mum said that they must have known what a greedy Labrador I am to have sent such a big box full! woof wednesday pet shop bowl parcel

She took absolutely ages to get it open for me but I just couldn’t wait to give it all a good sniff! woof wednesday pet shop bowl

First to try was some kibble, Hill’s Ideal Balance, the chicken and brown rice variety. Mum doesn’t like messing with my main meals too much and was just expecting a sample size for me to try. But look, the bag is nearly as big as me! woof wednesday Hills woof wednesday hills kibble

You’ve probably seen my breakfast bowl before, I won it on Twitter you know! It has compartments that stop me, what mum calls, inhaling, food in my typical starving Labrador fashion. She cleverly, or so she thought, put some of the Hills in with some of my normal Gentle food, but I could sniff out the new stuff straight away and ate that first. woof wednesday breakfast

Mum would like me to point out that there’s no doubting the quality of the Hill’s kibble but as I’m, ahem, senior, she thinks we’re safer to stick with what we know. All I know is that is was nommy and I wanted more. 

I was allowed one more, measured (boring!), portion and then Mum said she was going to see if some dogs more needy than I could use it. More needy than I? Hasn’t she seen my best begging face?!

The Pet Shop Bowl people kindly said that Mum could donate the rest of the bag to our local food bank. There are plenty of donations of human food but not everyone thinks about whether the needy families have pets. I regretfully helped Mum reseal the bag (she also wants to point out that this is a very useful feature) and she took it away out of nose’s reach.


But that wasn’t the last of the taste-testing work, oh no. There was more to come!

Mum thinks I don’t realise but I know that she hides my epilepsy tablets in my dinner…she makes out I’m getting some sort of wet food privilege in the evening but I’m not daft! Anyway we were sent a few cartons from the Almo Nature Daily Menu range, and I really liked those. There are several meaty and fishy flavours to choose from; I don’t know how you’d decide, I loved all of them!

Also in my big box were some bedtime biscuits from Lily’s Kitchen. We already have some items from Lily’s Kitchen so we knew these were good. Even though I’m somewhat of an old lady now I still can’t calm down when Mum says it’s bedtime and these biccies have some lovely soothing things in to help me feel relaxed. Don’t worry woofers I still have plenty of energy to race mum to her warm duvet! woof wednesday almo nature woof wednesday lilys kitchen

You may be wondering why Pet Shop Bowl has ‘bowl’ in the name, well, I’ll let them tell you:

The reason we set up PetShopBowl was to provide a subscription service to provide maximum convenience and help you save even more precious time, carrying heavy pet supplies and spending money on expensive pet foods.

Why not try our Bottomless Bowl auto reorder service & never worry about running out of pet food again. By selecting Bottomless Bowl you will be sent & billed your chosen product(s) at the frequency you have chosen.

And do you know what else? It’s not just for dog food, the family feline can get in on the act too!

I know I’d love a bottomless bowl of food, who’s with me?! 

Stella pawtograph new blog colour 2014

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Feast Your Mince Pies On These

I haven’t made mince pies in years, especially when I was wheat intolerant as well as dairy, the pastry just doesn’t work right without gluten!

So several years were spent searching for the elusive perfect ‘free from’ mince pie, a couple of years ago I found some good ones in Holland and Barrett but they got discontinued. Last year’s winners by a clear margin were Udis but they have yet to hit the shelves around here so alternative action needed to be taken. I could happily eat mince pies all year round but my bad cravings start mid-October!

I’ve re-introduced a little wheat back into my diet so thought I’d make some myself. Remembering how awful I was at pastry making I did cheat with thanks to the supermarket but the rolling and cutting and filling and baking skills are all my own :) mince pies done

Another thing I’d happily eat all year round is marzipan. This has caused a little controversy during festive food discussions and I never dreamt it was a love it/hate it thing like Marmite!

Therefore, some of my mince pies have marzipan in and some don’t. To be honest once they were cooked they didn’t taste much of marzipan at all so I’ll do that part differently next time.

There was a bit of pastry left over when my tin of 12 was done so I made a few mini ones. I used one of the the flower shaped cookie cutters to make a small enough case and they worked brilliantly so I might do more of those next time. mini mince pie

According to my post on Sunday, some of you don’t even like mince pies at all! What is the world coming to?!

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Aches & Pains Be Gone With GOPO

A few weeks ago I was offered the chance to partake in the 12 week GOPO® Challenge.

I’ve written before about my chronic backache and joint problems and also about the tablets I’m taking to prevent vestibular migraines and ease anxiety. Therefore, I’m somewhat reluctant to add painkillers to the daily medication mix.

GOPO® Joint Health is a unique patented food supplement made from specially cultivated rose-hip which may play a valuable role in the care of joints and joint tissues. It is also rich in vitamin C which is essential for normal collagen formation, needed by the body for healthy bones and cartilage.


Information provided to me by GOPO® states that an extensive evidence base demonstrates that this supplement:

1. Significantly and rapidly reduces joint pain
2. Reduces the number of tender and swollen joints
3. Improves joint mobility and daily activity levels
4. Reduces morning stiffness
5. Improves mood, sleep quality, energy and well-being
6. Reduces the need for painkillers
7. May be more effective than paracetamol and glucosamine

I think it has to be worth a try. Said to be a powerful anti-inflammatory anti-oxidant with no known side-effects, it won’t do me any harm but, it might also do me a lot of good. There’s little more frustrating to me than having a non-dizzy day ruined by not being able to exercise much because it’s too painful!

The recent damper, cooler weather has brought into focus that my age old aches and pains are going nowhere fast and the Shock Doctor ankle support is still playing a regular supporting role.

So, today is day one. Of course I’m under no illusion that this will be a cure-all for all my ailments but if I can reduce the most painful symptoms, life will be much more pleasant!

I’ll keep you updated on progress.


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