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July is Independent Retailer Month Comments Off on July is Independent Retailer Month

Posted on June 29, 2016 by Fancy Dress Ball

IndependentRetailerMonth

July is Independent Retailer Month, a campaign led by Clare Rayner to highlight the role small, local independent businesses play in our community. Clare Rayner is the founder of “Support for Independent Retail,” a source of support, advice, ideas and inspiration to help independent retailers and consumer facing businesses.

Independent retailers are very important. Not only do they keep our high streets vibrant and alive, they also contribute to our communities and local economies in a way massive multinationals don’t. When you buy from an independent, you’re not increasing a share price; instead, you’re helping to pay for a child’s school shoes, for piano lessons or for food shopping. Even better, the profits from a local business mostly go back into the local economy – when the owner of the business goes out and does their own shopping locally. In fact, for every pound we spend with a local independent business, between 50-70p goes back into the local economy. But if you spend that pound online or out of town, just 5p will trickle back into your local economy.

Independent retailers are the people who give our children work experience, who provide raffle prizes, who take part in local events and village fetes and school presentations.

This Independent Retailer Month, why not try to spend a little more with local retailers – whether they’re coffee shops, butchers, salons, restaurants or market traders. Let’s all do our bit to keep the great British high street vibrant and full of life.

Even better, why not attend an Independent Retailer Month event. Check out the website to see what’s happening locally.

Wimbledon is Coming! Comments Off on Wimbledon is Coming!

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Fancy Dress Ball

Wimbledon

Wimbledon starts today and we can’t wait! With Andy Murray’s recent win at Queen’s, can he earn himself another Wimbledon title? Today’s the day the excitement kicks off!

In celebration the beginning of the world’s favourite tennis tournament, here are five things you might not know about Wimbledon…

It’s the only major tennis Grand Slam tournament still played on grass.  The Australian and US Opens are both now played on clay.

The first women to play in the tournament did so in full length dresses. The men wore full length trousers until 1946. There are still dress regulations today, so that a woman wearing a low-cut top showing too much cleavage will not be allowed onto court.

In 1966 Billie Jean King won her first Wimbledon championship and received a £25 gift voucher. In 2000 Venus Williams won Wimbledon and received £300,000.

Only one man has ever won a Wimbledon title while wearing glases. In 1954 Jaroslav Drobný, a former Czechoslovakian citizen, won Wimbledon and in 1959 he became aBritish citizen in 1959.

In order to become a ball boy or girl at Wimbledon, you must train for eight hours per week for four months before the start of the tournament. There are over 200 ball boys and girls used to collect tennis balls during Wimbledon.

 

Will you be settled in front of the TV for the next two weeks to watch Wimbledon? Or are you travelling to watch the matches live?

Friday is International Fairy Day! Comments Off on Friday is International Fairy Day!

Posted on June 22, 2016 by Fancy Dress Ball

FairyDay

This Friday is International Fairy Day, a day for all of us, young and old, to celebrate all things fairy. Fairies have been an important part of Celtic culture for centuries. These mythological creatures are depicted as mischievous and magical, with the ability to fly and cast spells. Fairies traditionally live in Tír na nóg, the land of eternal youth.

In 1904 JM Barrie wrote in Peter Pan that when the first baby laughed, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and that was the beginning of fairies. Since then of course, fairies have been taken into popular culture with first the Peter Pan movies and then the newer franchise of Tinkerbell movies. Young children love to dress up as fairies, and with the summer solstice and midsummer this week, this is the perfect opportunity to dust off those fairy wings and celebrate!

According to Cicely Mary Barker, the author of several fairy books, “Summer is a very busy time of year for the fairies. However they do make time to have fun at Midsummer to thank the sun for shining its light and warmth on their flowers, helping them grow.”

Fairy lore says that Midsummer is a time of year when the veil between the human world and fairies thins, allowing the worlds to mingle. People were warned not to fall asleep outside at Midsummer because they might be carried off by the fairies. And of course, there’s the famous Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream where unwitting humans get caught up in the forest realm of Queen Titania and King Oberon, becoming victim of the mischievous fairy Puck’s magical pranks.

 

World Productivity Day Comments Off on World Productivity Day

Posted on June 20, 2016 by Fancy Dress Ball

WorldProductivityDay

Today is World Productivity Day! A day for us all to be… more productive! And it’s a Monday too, so a brilliant way to start your week off. To celebrate, here are ten top tips to help you to be more productive…

  1. Make a list! Use something like Todoist to keep track of everything you need to get done. You can set reminders and even recurring tasks so that you can keep on top of things… and get a great sense of satisfaction when you tick things off!
  2. Set a timer. Use the Pomodoro Technique to give yourself a time to work towards. It’s amazing how much more focused and productive you can be when there’s a timer ticking down!
  3. Limit your TV time. Nothing productive was ever done in front of the TV. Limit your time to one hour or less per day, and just see how much you can get done!
  4. Get up earlier. Set your alarm for half an hour earlier, and use that time to do something you don’t normally have time for. Over time, you can set it earlier and earlier and get loads done before everyone else has even opened their eyes!
  5. Drink more water. When you’re dehydrated you have less energy and are less productive.
  6. Switch your mobile off. Or at least put it on silent. It’s amazing how much you can do when you’re not constantly being interrupted an distracted by texts and calls and Facebook notifications!
  7. Eat that frog! Each morning, find the biggest, most horrible task and do it first. That’ll make it much easier to plough through all the smaller, easier tasks afterwards!
  8. Ask yourself a question: “is what I’m doing right now, getting me closer to where I need to be?” If the answer is no, why are you doing it?!
  9. Switch off your wifi. If the task in hand doesn’t need the internet, switch it off. You’ll get so much more done.
  10. Embrace single-tasking. Multi tasking is a myth; it doesn’t exist. Stop pretending it does, and discipline yourself to focus on one thing at a time.

What’s your favourite productivity tip?

Sunday is Garfield the Cat Day Comments Off on Sunday is Garfield the Cat Day

Posted on June 15, 2016 by Fancy Dress Ball

GARFIELD

This Sunday is Garfield the Cat Day. In fact, June 19th is actually Garfield’s birthday – since the first Garfield comic strip appeared on June 19th, 1978. In fact, you can see that comic strip here. The lazy, fat, cynical ginger cat with a love for lasagne and coffee is beloved by thousands the world over. In honour of his birthday, here are some things you may not know about him…

  • Garfield was born on June 19th 1978, in the kitchen of Mamma Leoni’s Italian Restaurant, weighing 5lbs and 6 ounces. The owner of Mamma Leoni’s soon had to choose between getting rid of Garfield and closing down his restaurant from lack of pasta, after Garfield began to eat all the lasagne he could get his paws on.  Garfield was sold to a pet shop.
  • On Garfield’s 25th anniversary in 2003, several strips were featured with him interacting with the version of him from 1978.
  • Creator Jim Davis named Garfield after his grandfather, James Garfield Davis who himself was named after US President James A. Garfield. Garfield’s grumpy attitude also came from Jim Davis’s grandfather, who he described as ” a large, cantankerous man.”
  • At an amusement park in Pennsylvania called Kennywood, there is a “Garfield’s Nightmare” ride which was created with input from Jim Davis.
  • Garfield is the world’s most syndicated comic strip.
  • In Sweden Garfield is called Gustav.
  • There are 11 Garfield comic strip books, and every one has been a New York Times number one bestseller. In fact, Garfield at Large was number one for two solid years. They had to change the way the bestseller list was compiled because other publishers were complaining that their authors couldn’t get a look in!
  • Jim Davis originally intended the comic strip to focus on Jon, but several agencies asked him to focus on Garfield instead.
  • In the very first cartoon strip, Jon Arbuckle is a cartoonist, but that’s never mentioned again.
  • The comic strip is set in Jim Davis’ home town of Muncie, Indiana.
  • Jim Davis maintains control over Garfield’s final product, but he no longer draws the comic strip.
  • In the 1990s there was a famous Garfield Stuck On You cuddly toy with suction cups on the paws – but Jim Davis originally designed it with velcro on the paws, with the idea that it would be stuck to curtains. The suction cup design was a mistake.
  • In 2011 there was a full length stage musical called Garfield Live in Muncie, Indiana.
  • Our favourite piece of Garfield trivia: from 1982 to 1994, Garfield was voiced by Lorenzo Music. Lorenzo Music also voiced Peter Venkman in the Real Ghostbusters cartoon. Peter Venkman was played by Bill Murray in the Ghostbusters movie, and Murray also voiced Garfield in the 2004 movie.

Wednesday is Smile Power Day! Comments Off on Wednesday is Smile Power Day!

Posted on June 13, 2016 by Fancy Dress Ball

Happy Smile Day

This Wednesday 15th June is Smile Power Day. This is the day when you have an excuse to show off your beautiful pearly whites and smile to your heart’s content. Did you know that even if you’re feeling rubbish, smiling can make you feel better? It’s been scientifically proven that if you put a pen into your mouth horizontally, forcing your mouth into a smiling position, your mood will improve. Go on, try it; we dare you!

“Smile Power Day” sounds a bit cheesy but your smile really does have power. When you smile at someone else you brighten their day too. And no, we don’t mean sending smiley-face emojis; we need real life, cheesy grins here!

Why not spread the smiles far and wide? Here are some ideas for simple ways to make people smile…

  • Smile and say “good morning!” whenever you pass someone in the street. Even if they look super grouchy and fed up.
  • Call or text a friend just to say “hi” and tell them 3 things you love about them.
  • Give out compliments willy-nilly. Even if you don’t know the person, tell them their hair looks great or that colour really suits them.
  • Hold the door open for the person behind you
  • Leave a tip when you buy your lunch. Even if you’re in a fast food place.
  • Buy a sandwich for a homeless person
  • Send a postcard to a friend with a nice message on the back
  • Surprise someone with a small gift
  • Buy flowers for someone
  • Leave a thank you note for the cleaning staff at work (and maybe a packet of biscuits)
  • Buy a parking ticket and hand it to the next person who comes to the meter
  • Give someone a lift
  • Babysit for a friend for free
  • Mow your neighbour’s lawn
  • Help someone carry their shopping
  • Hug a friend or coworker for no reason
  • Wave to a child on a bus or in a car
  • Call someone’s voicemail and leave a corny joke
  • Send a copy of an old photograph to a childhood friend or relative

Don’t forget, you’re not limited to Wednesday to make someone smile; you can do it any day of the year! But do make a special effort on Wednesday to spread the love!

Thank God It’s Monday! Comments Off on Thank God It’s Monday!

Posted on June 06, 2016 by Fancy Dress Ball

ThankGodItsMonday

Today is Thank God It’s Monday Day. Today is the day when we all try to raise morale on a Monday. It seems to be a national (if not global) tradition to hate Monday mornings and to live for the weekends – but realistically, one in every seven days is a Monday. And if you don’t like what you get up and do on a Monday morning, perhaps now is the time to do something about that! Life is too short to be miserable every single Morning; why not make a change and jump up shouting “Thank God It’s Monday!”

Here are some ideas for making your Mondays more bearable…

  • When someone asks how your weekend was, tell them about all the epic adventures and fun you had. If you spent all weekend on the sofa with Netflix and pizza… make up a few white lies about slaying dragons and running marathons! Make it a fun game to out-awesome each other.
  • Listen to some awesome music. If you really hate Mondays, make a Monday morning playlist filled with some brilliant tunes to make you feel brilliant. Listen to it every Monday morning and you’ll soon begin to love Mondays!
  • Go for a walk! Make your Monday meeting a walking meeting, or just get outside on your lunch break. Preferably find a park or green area to walk around and take some deep breaths in the fresh air.
  • Play some practical jokes on your coworkers. Check out this post we wrote about working on a Bank Holiday for ideas.
  • Perform a random act of kindness. The best way to feel good is to make someone else feel good. Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the queue. Bring cakes to work for no reason. Compliment your coworker. Say good morning to every single person you pass on the way to work. Simple things that cost nothing (or very little) but will brighten Monday morning for both of you.
  • Watch a mindset video. You can find loads on YouTube and they’re great for making you feel more positive and inspired. This one is only five minutes long:
  • Pretend it’s a charity fancy dress day. Who cares if everyone else is in their normal clothes; pretend there’s an excuse to get out your fancy dress, and rock it with pride! Extra points for face paint!
  • Perform some kind of exercise. Yes, we know it’s Monday morning. But even a few minutes of star jumps or squats will get the blood pumping around your body and make you feel more alive. Try it, we dare you!
  • Do some tidying. Just ten minutes of organising your work space, your kitchen or somewhere else that’s a bit messy will make you feel infinitely better about things. Unless you’re one of those weird people who always keeps everything tidy.
  • Take a nap. Not while you’re supposed to be working; that’ll just get you fired and ruin your Monday. On your break though, find a quiet spot and take a quick nap. Some top executives swear by having a daily nape to keep them on the ball and with it. Top tip: nap in your chair with your keys in your hand; if you fall too deeply asleep your keys will drop and you’ll wake up!

However you spend your Monday, try to do something a little different today to make it a little more perky!

June is Great Outdoors Month! Comments Off on June is Great Outdoors Month!

Posted on June 01, 2016 by Fancy Dress Ball

GreatOutdoorsMonth

June is Great Outdoors Month! What does that mean? It means we pray for a less traditional British summer, so that we can get outside and enjoy the great outdoors!

Getting fresh air is good for you in so many different ways. It can aid in digestion, improve your blood pressure and strengthen your immune system. It can also help to make you happier and bring your more energy. Getting outside can help you to feel more refreshed and relaxed if you’re having a stressful day, and it can even strengthen your immune system by bringing your white blood cells more oxygen to help them fight bacteria.

Here are our five top tips for enjoying Great Outdoors Month:

1. Go to a Festival!
June marks the beginning of festival season in the UK, with festivals big and small happening everywhere. Get a tent and a poncho, and buy your tickets!

2. Go Camping
If festivals are not your thing, why not get some of the great outdoors by going camping! These days there are lots of glamping sites around so you can have a very upmarket experience while still getting your fill of fresh air.

3. Go for a Walk
This website has loads of fab walking routes all over the UK. Why not pick a route, get your hat and your walking boots (and sun cream and an anorac) and head out for a walk!

4. Visit a National Park
There are fifteen national parks in the UK. Why not check out the National Parks website to find one close to you. There are usually lots of attractions and things to do in a national park, and there are plenty of places to park up and go for a stroll or sit by a river or lake.

5. Have a Picnic
You don’t need to visit somewhere special in order to celebrate Great Outdoors Month; you can just head down to your local park with a tartan blanket and a wicker basket! Pack up a picnic and get outside in the great outdoors!

Can you think of any more ways to celebrate the great outdoors? Why not share them on our Facebook page!

Working on Bank Holiday Monday? Let’s Make It More Fun! Comments Off on Working on Bank Holiday Monday? Let’s Make It More Fun!

Posted on May 30, 2016 by Fancy Dress Ball

 

 

working bank holiday monday

Remember when you were at school, and a bank holiday meant a day off? These days so many of us seem to end up working on a bank holiday, which is pretty rubbish.

Here are some ways you can make your bank holiday day at work a little more fun…

  • There’s always someone who manages to get the day off for Bank Holiday Monday; that makes it open season for pranks! Cover their desk in sticky notes; encase their stapler in jelly; move the letters on their keyboard. For a more long-term prank, pour cress seeds into their keyboard while all the keys are off. This video shows you how to change their keyboard letters:
  • Before you leave, duct tape an air horn to the wall behind the door. When your colleagues come in tomorrow morning, they’ll open the door, activate the air horn and jump out of their skins! Even better, tape the air horn to the bottom of someone’s office chair so that it goes off when they sit down!
  • Go out at lunch and buy several packets of balloons. Blow them up and fill a meeting room or toilet cubicle with them!
  • Empty the hole punch onto someone’s desk/chair/in-tray (basically anywhere; those things are so irritating!)
  • Move every piece of furniture one inch to the left. People won’t notice it to begin with, but they’ll be bumping into things all day!
  • Buy an industrial-sized pack of cling film, and wrap everything in sight. Or you could use wrapping paper – but that’s a little too easy to remove, right?
  • If you’ve a copier in the office, change the settings so that it copies everything at 100% – or 20%!
  • Stick tape over the bottom of everyone’s mouse so that it won’t work
  • A great game to play among your co-workers while you’re stuck at work on a bank holiday Monday is to choose a movie (Star Wars is always good) and see how many times you can mention characters or places from it when serving customers or just generally through the day. For tips, check out this legendary weather report from Sian Welby:

If you’re stuck at work today and find a clever way to pass the time, make sure you share your ideas with us on our Facebook page!

Happy Towel Day! Comments Off on Happy Towel Day!

Posted on May 25, 2016 by Fancy Dress Ball

Happy

 

What is the meaning of life?

Well, it’s the number 42, of course!

 

Today is Towel Day and anyone who understands that the number 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, will already know that today is Towel Day – and what that means!

Towel Day is, of course, the day of the year when we celebrate Douglas Adams, writer of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s super easy to celebrate Towel Day – all you need to do is… carry a towel around with you all day, as advised in Chapter 3 of the book.

Of course, as well as carrying your towel you should post about it on social media, using the hashtag #TowelDay.

Meanwhile, here are 5 fun facts about Douglas Adams’ amazing book…

  1. It was based on actual hitchhiking! Douglas Adams hitchhiked from London to Istanbul in 1971 with a copy of a book called Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Europe. One night while drunkenly star gazing in a field, he decided that someone ought to write a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because “it looked a lot more attractive out there than it did around me.”
  2. The towels’ significance in the books is also based on real life. On a holiday to Greece with his friends, they were always having to sit around and wait for him while he found his towel, which he kept losing. Adams said, “I came to feel that someone really together, one who was well organised, would always know where his towel was.”
  3. Arthur Dent was originally named Aleric B Dent but Adams changed his name to Arthur during a taxi ride to a pitch meeting with the BBC.
  4. Douglas Adams famously said that he loved deadlines: “I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.” His publishers didn’t love that whooshing sound so much though, and when he was writing the fourth book in the series they actually locked him up in a hotel suite for three weeks with his editor until the book was finished!
  5. Adams said that the answer to life, the universe and everything was 42 because it made for a good punchline. There had been years of speculation from fans about why he’d chosen the number 42 and many thought he had some obsession with the number but Adams said “The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary smallish number, and I chose that one.”

Enjoy Towel Day, and if you’re celebrating in towelly style, don’ forget to share a photo on our Facebook page!

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