Eyes Down For A Full House!

I know, I know. I’ve been away for ages. You probably thought falling masonry had landed on me or something but no, to be honest, I’ve just been enjoying myself a bit too much.

I’ve had a makeover*, a birthday and a weekend in London to see the Harry Potter studio tour at Warner studios (Even if you only like HP a little bit – go! It’s brilliant and it makes you proud to be British).

Here I am, outside number 4, Privet Drive (the Dursley’s residence. But you knew that…!)

Oh, I’ve also missed my blog’s second birthday, which was October 14th. And when I did finally manage to log on, I had 81 spam messages waiting for me. Which probably served me right.

And in between times I’ve been acting like a ‘lady what lunches’ and all that kind of stuff, which I definitely can’t afford (from a time or money point of view).

Enough! It stops here.

So, let’s catch up on some free writing competitions….

Virago: ‘Fifty Shades of Feminism
if you’re 18 – 25, a UK resident and..err, (sorry guys), a WOMAN, then you might be interested in this competition, which has a £100 prize and the promise of publication in Fifty Shades of Feminism, an anthology that ‘will bring together 50 women, from politicians to actors to scientists’.

They want 1000 words (max) on ‘what feminism means to you’ no later than 1st November 2012, so if that sounds like your cup of tea (and you are enviably young! According to the blurb, actually you are ‘on the cusp of your adult life’!), then have a look here.

The Guardian Travel Writing Competition

And for the rest of us, who don’t fit the bill for Virago, The Guardian has just launched a lovely travel writing competition, with no less than 7 fabulous holidays up for grabs as prizes.

The person who forwarded the link to me said this competition is, “a bit like that awful school task, ‘What did you do on your holidays?’” Hmm, I actually used to like that ‘awful school task’! (not that I had anything particularly exciting to impart, I should add. My holidays mostly revolved around guinea pigs and riding my bike).

They are looking for pieces about holidays from the last year or so (but who’ll know?) and you’ve got until 4th November to submit up to 400 words on one of the 7 categories:

•‘An encounter’ – win a nine-day tour of Brazil
•‘A place I stayed’ – win a luxury week in Turkey
•‘A journey’ – win a rail trip across Canada
•‘A short break’ – win a winter break in Iceland
•‘A thrilling activity’ – win an activity trip to Finland
•‘Family holiday’ – win a UK glamping trip for six
• And, my personal favourite: ‘My crap holiday’ – win a cycling trip to Denmark

Read the rules at the bottom of the page carefully if you’re going to enter. Don’t get disqualified, for example, by sending them an attachment. They clearly state that all entries must be in the body of an email.

They’ve also kindly included some tips on writing a travel article, here.

You can enter a different story in every category, if you like (but only one entry per person per category).

This sounds like a fun competition and 400 words isn’t too arduous so come on, we can all have a go! (errm… I’ve just realised that I haven’t actually been on holiday this year. Not a ‘proper’ holiday – just mini-breaks – so I’m going to have to be pretty creative with my attempt!)

Bingo Short Story Competition

And finally, you’re going to love this one: ‘Playing Bingo’ website is running its first ever short story competition! It’s free to enter, there are cash prizes of £300, £100 and £50 and all you have to do is send them a story of between 1500 – 3000 words by 28th Feb 2013. Oh and the theme of your story must be ‘bingo’.

This is the perfect excuse to ask my friend Julie to take me to bingo with her mum. I mean, proper bingo, in a bingo hall, where it’s all serious stuff.

It will be purely research, of course.

*I won a ’10 years younger makeover’ from Cotswold Style magazine. (I sent them a photo in which I looked about 75. They had no choice but to pick me!). Here is the before… and the after! (I know, it’s weird. I have that cardboard cut-out at home now and it even made the builders scream).

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17 Responses to Eyes Down For A Full House!

  1. Patsy says:

    No way does the cut out look 75 or scary – I do agree the new you looks good though.

  2. No, you look like Mum and daughter, what fun a makeover would be. I’m resembling my Grandma a bit too much these days. You could have fun with the cut out, have her constantly staring out of the window to keep the neighbours on their toes. Thanks for the links, glad you’re back.

    • Susan, I am having fun with the cut-out! I took it over to my mum and dad’s and put it in front of the door, rang the doorbell and walked back to get stuff out of the car on the drive. All I heard, when my mum opened the door was ‘Ooooh!’ and then hysterical laughter. It has definitely given everyone a laugh. I hated it so much when I saw it, that I was going to put it on a bonfire, but I think I’ll keep it for a bit!!

  3. Michaela Eyley says:

    Helen, you look so beautiful and sparky in that “after” picture. Well done on winning the makeover. I’d love to have one – preferably by Auntie Gok 🙂 Enjoy and show off your new look, it’s amazing. A client told me about the HP studio as he took his daughters and wife and they all loved it. I have never read or seen any Harry Potter so I suppose it would all be lost on me. Well, maybe one day I’ll catch up.

  4. Michaela Eyley says:

    The feminism competition sounds interesting as well as I think I may be able to contribute something to it but tough luck for me – I am too old. Still, read a very interesting article in the German “Stern” magazine about Alice Schwarzer, the German version of Germaine Greer I suppose.

  5. KH says:

    Hi Helen – thanks for the info. You always look great in the pics I’ve seen – bright and full of fun. But the new look really suits you. You look gorgeous! Good wishes KH

  6. Julia says:

    I can only echo the other comments. You look fab – and thanks for all the tips and info.

  7. Jo Tiddy says:

    Obviously once you hit the grand old age of 26 you’re too old to be a feminist… or perhaps real life just gets in the way…

  8. Tracy Fells says:

    Happy birthday Helen (sorry it’s a bit late). thanks for all the great competitions – I tried the travel writing one last year so will definitely have another go.
    And you look amazing in the photo – you looked great to start with now look stunning and years younger. Go on please share the secrets of the makeover…

    • Ah bless, that’s kind, Tracy (by the way, saw your Newsfront items x 2 in Writers Forum! Well done – send them a couple more and you’ll win soon, I’m sure!)

      I was tempted to write more about the makeover but I had to resist, because this is supposed to be a ‘writing’ blog, not a ‘blathering-on-about–myself’ blog! However, I will say (seeing as you asked!!) that we had a wonderful stylist, Michelle Blake who did our ‘colours’ (there were 3 winners) and advised us on what we should and shouldn’t wear (I am ‘Summer’ and I should never, ever, wear black, apparently! Which is good because I hardly ever do!). Then she ‘dressed us’ (lots of trying on of clothes – ah, that was nice), then we had our hair and make-up done at ‘Blushes‘ and in between there was lunch and a proper photo shoot with a silver umbrella (still got to see the results of that) AND finally there was a ‘reveal’ at an evening event. It was fab! I was a bit nervous about it but I enjoyed every moment. It was a really special day.(and I haven’t even told you about all the skincare stuff they gave us to use 2 weeks before the day!).

      • Michaela Eyley says:

        Oh, what was the skincare stuff, then? Spill, Helen 😉 My kind of area…

      • Ooh, get you two, wanting to know about the skincare! Anyway, it was ‘Novostrata’ which is Korean apparently. Have a look on the website. It’s good stuff. They gave me the foaming cleanser, the brightening eye cream and the regeneration emulsion (worth £100 for the three) and I think they’ll last a couple of months each. http://novostrata.co.uk/store/

        ________________________________

      • Tracy Fells says:

        Yes, will definitely keep trying with WF!
        What a lovely day. Sometimes it’s great to be pampered. Hmm yes I’d like to know more about the skincare stuff too – and did you get anything for writer’s bottom?

  9. Alice says:

    I’ll add that you really do look fabulous in the photo – sounds like such a lovely day. Thanks for all the info too.

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