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What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘grandparent’? If it’s a little old lady knitting in a rocking chair, then you might want to think again. These days you’re as likely to see an octogenarian tweeting from her iPad as casting off her purl stitch.

Gransnet, the social networking site for the over 50s (don’t let the name fool you – all older people male or female, grandparent, parent or not are welcome to join us!), launched in 2011 and is now the largest social networking site for older people in the country. New members have been joining every day for the past 2 years, to talk about everything from politics to memories, books to relationships, snorkelling to, OK, yes, knitting. In 2013 came the launch of Gransnet Local, a network of sites across the country run by people aged 50-plus, offering listings of activities and events; a directory of services, from health centres to plumbers; forums for discussion of local issues; and the possibility of meeting up.

One of the joys of the internet is that no one has to know what you look like. The great thing about the web is that prejudices – about someone who has a disability, or is over 50 and living alone – don’t have to get in the way of who you are. Gransnetters value this anonymity. Even so, it quickly became apparent that many of them do want to meet offline, particularly once they’ve made friends. Members have taken it upon themselves to organise lunches and visit each other, including in hospital; some have even holidayed together.

Gransnet Local Colchester is the local site covering the whole CO postcode area and is thriving with new groups, businesses and events being added each day. Discussions have started on the local forums and a monthly newsletter is being sent out. Gransnet Local Colchester also has Facebook and Twitter pages for those wishing to take social networking for the over 50s one step further.

It is free to join and free to add to the local website listings, whether it’s to tell everyone about your fantastic hairdresser or inviting us all to your jumble sale. There is also the opportunity for local businesses to advertise to their target market or to offer promotions or competitions.

We want to hear from you if you have something to add to our local Gransnet community.

 

National Organising Week (November 1-7)

NOW-logo-300Want to clear your clutter? Do it NOW! That’s the message as Britain’s organising experts launch a drive to make life simpler and help you get the most out of your space, time, and belongings.

The Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (apdo-uk) has been on a mission to help the people of Britain get better organised for a decade.

Now to celebrate its 10th birthday apdo-uk is holding National Organising Week (NOW) – a campaign to inspire everyone to tackle their clutter. From November 1 to November 7 apdo-uk will be holding activities and sharing our top tips to get organised and cut out the clutter.

Local professional organiser and apdo-uk member, Samantha Bickerton of Organised Spaces says: “Britain today is described as a ‘throwaway society’ but the reality is that a lot of us feel bad about getting rid of stuff we don’t need, use or love, even if it doesn’t have a role in our life any more. Add the ‘waste-not, want not’ philosophy we have inherited from previous generations to a world where consumer goods are more affordable than ever before and the result is a rising tide of clutter chaos. And when clutter is clogging up your home, it creates a mental muddle too. Clear it out and you’ll not only have more physical space but you’ll lift an emotional load off your mind at the same time – plus you’ll save yourself all that time you currently spend looking for things you can’t find! Getting started, however, can be the hardest part of the whole process. Sometimes the task of tackling the clutter on your own can feel overwhelming, and that’s when a professional organiser can help clear a path through the mess and the stress it brings to a calmer life and home.”

The message for National Organising Week is Do It NOW! Here are seven tips, one for each day of the week, if you always find an excuse to put off clearing your clutter.
7 tips for decluttering – one a day for a week to get you started:

1. Wondering where to start? Choose an area that gets everyday use so that you’ll immediately benefit from improving it. Make it a small area, such as a shelf, table  top or drawer, so it’s achievable and inspires you to do more.

2.  Set a timer  for 5 mins a day and work on decluttering an area. You won’t get it all done, but 5 mins a day soon adds up. Increase it gradually up to 15 mins.

3. Pick one item a day in the house, that you don’t need or use, to get rid of. Recycle it or keep a bag in the cupboard for the charity shop and add the daily items.

4. For a bigger project like a room, loft or garage, schedule chunks of time regularly into your diary. Work on the area for two – three hours at a time.

5. Struggling to stay motivated? Write down your decluttering goal and display it where you’re working. Seeing: ‘gain more storage space’, ‘find important items quicker’, ‘make money from selling stuff I don’t need’, can help you keep on track.

6. At the end of a decluttering session, dispose of items you don’t want immediately to avoid clutter build up elsewhere in your house e.g. take them to the charity shop, drive to your local recycling centre. For this reason, at weekends, Saturday mornings are best for decluttering so you have the afternoon to dispose of things.

7. Pay more attention to what comes into your house. Be the gatekeeper of your front door – don’t bring home free papers, or buy things you don’t need or love.

For more information contact your local organising expert and member of APDO-uk:

Samantha Bickerton

Samantha Bickerton of Organised Spaces

Telephone 07902 834 146, Email info@organisedspaces.co.uk .

Strictly come dancing…down the aisle?

IMG_4448“Will you marry me?” I was gobsmacked. My boyfriend of only five months had not only gotten down on one knee to propose, but done it on a stage in front of 700 people. And, not just any stage, but the one on Strictly Come Dancing!

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I went with my husband to see the second live show of Strictly, in October 2013, and that he somehow managed to arrange the proposal without me knowing.

We’d been discussing marriage, so I already knew he was trying to plan the perfect proposal. Little did I know it would be in such a dramatic fashion! It all came down to so many factors aligning on the day. Nolan, who is now my husband, only had an afternoon to make it happen and hope it would all pan out.

Luckily, I knew someone involved with Strictly who had managed to get me two tickets. We only found out on the Friday, so I immediately booked a hotel room in London and began planning what to wear. A sparkly sequin dress, of course!

While on the train to the studio I was already getting excited, while Nolan looked somewhat nervous. He convinced me to lend him my phone to ‘check the football results’ as his battery was low, so I thought nothing of it. In fact, he was frantically trying to contact my friend at the show to ask whether she could help him.

On arrival at Elstree studios all audience members had their phones taken off them so as not to record any of the show. Nolan sent a final text to my friend to let her know we’d arrived, and now it was all in the hands of fate.

After waiting in the bar area and then queuing outside the studio for what seemed like an IMG_4468age,we were eventually let into the studio; it seemed so much smaller than it looks on TV! Our seats were fantastic, only a few rows from the front in the VIP section where friends and family of the performers sit. Surrounded by celebs and in the audience of my favourite show in the entire world was just incredible. I had no idea it was about to get a whole lot more exciting!

Nolan was holding my hand for most of the time and his palm was sweaty. He’d been told by my friend, who’d received his message and been only too pleased to help, that the compere would ask for volunteers before the start of the show, so he had to make sure I put my hand up. But there was no stopping me from standing up and jumping about to get the compere’s attention when he asked for someone to come and sit in Darcey’s chair. “You really want to do this don’t you?” the compere said as he looked over in my direction. “Tell you what, I’ll come back and use you for something else later on,” he said, much to my disappointment as I felt surely he’d forget.

And so we sat through the rehearsal and long two-hour live show, my bum getting sore and feeling rather sweaty in my sequin dress. But I was on cloud nine so I didn’t care.

Finally, there was a break in proceedings; we had a mere 15 minutes to go to the loo before they began filming the Sunday results show. I was too excited to even contemplate a toilet break which was fortunate as the compere again began chatting to the crowd and got me up out of the audience.

“Follow me up onto the stage” he said. Wow, I was getting to go and meet the band. I shook hands with Dave Arch, the band leader. Then it got even better. “Ok, now I’m going to let you do something no one else from the public has ever done before,” he said, and walked with me up those infamous curved stairs to the top of the set. Once he’d descended again, he announced: “Ladies and gentleman, it’s Katy Evans!” to which the band played the Strictly intro music and I pranced down the steps, stopping to pose here and there and milking this one-in-a-lifetime moment. At the bottom I even did Bruce’s little ‘shuffle’ dance across to the centre.

“Ah, but now you need a Bruce to dance with,” said the compere. “Who are you here with?” I gestured to Nolan.

“Let’s get him up here!” the compere shouted. Horror struck me. ‘Nolan hates attention; and he doesn’t dance; oh my God, what if they get us to do a dance in front of everyone? He will be mortified,’ went the thoughts in my head within a split second.

So, when the compere handed the microphone over to Nolan I was flummoxed. The next thing I knew, he was down on bended knee presenting me with a gorgeous ring and asking for my hand in marriage. By now I was in another dimension, my sense of hearing ceased temporarily and it was all too much to take in. Shocked, I grabbed the ring and then hugged Nolan. The compere said ‘So was that a yes then?’ to which I replied ‘Yes, yes,’ into the microphone.

IMG_4464Apparently the audience were all whooping and cheering but I didn’t really hear them until we were walking back off the stage, and head judge Len Goodman was coming back onto the floor. He came over to me, took a look at the ring and kissed my hand. I hugged him and said ‘I love this show!’ and then we went back to take our seats.

It all happened so fast and I was in a daze. Had I been prepared (but who can be for something like that?!) I’d have run over to the judges chairs and held up Len’s 10 paddle!

Fortunately, my fabulous dancer friend had been able to sneak up to the gallery to take a few pics of the big moment. Nolan and I got to attend the after-show party, meeting many of the contestants and professionals.
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So, that’s my Strictly proposal story. And, not only did Nolan do that in front of so many people, he also let me teach him a dance for our wedding, which actually made him more nervous than the proposal! The things you do for love…

Katy Sunnassee lives in Colchester and teaches FITSTEPS, the new Strictly Come Dancing-inspired ballroom and Latin workout. For more information, visit www.strictlyfunfitness.com or www.facebook.com/fitstepswithkaty.

Also on Twitter @katyfitsteps

You can comment on this story on Gransnet Colchester’s local forum.

Silver Sunday

silver.sunday.round_400x400Silver Sunday was launched in 2012 by The Sir Simon Milton Foundation and Councillor Christabel Flight, Westminster City Council’s Older People’s Champion. The project was set up to combat the loneliness experienced by older residents in the borough of Westminster and to encourage community interaction through an annual day of events.

In 2013, the day went national and saw over 180 events take place across the country in support of Silver Sunday.

Held on the first Sunday of October, Silver Sunday has now grown into a national celebration of older residents and their contribution to communities.

Silver Sunday 2014 is on 5th October and is set to be even bigger and better with events happening right across the UK.

From concerts to congas, museum tours to tea dances, there’s something for everyone.

Events will be publicised on the respective organisations’ websites while a full list of events will be published on the Silver Sunday website – www.silversunday.org.uk.

Follow us on Facebook – Facebook.com/silversundayUK

Follow us on Twitter – @SilverSundayUK

Ancient Roman Cache Discovered

Originally posted on Updated Antiques:

Dear Readers

As I am currently away in what shall remain an undisclosed location, I cannot inform you of my current mission. My safety and that of those assisting me is dependent on my silence. I shall update you when my journey is complete and there is no fear of reprisal from the enemy.

I am able, however, to apprise you of the details of a great finding in Britain. Beneath an unassuming Essex department store are the hidden jewels of some ancient Roman woman. It seems that near 2000 years have passed since the righteous Queen Boudica (the spelling varies) sacked the small Roman village of Colchester, and in the fear and panic of the day at least one woman decided to bury her most prized possessions in a small bag, likely with hopes of surviving the attack and retrieving them later. Fellow archeologist Dr. Philip Crummy has been…

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