Thirty years ago this weekend, people were noticing the nights drawing in, looking forward to gaining an hour when they put the clocks back in a few days time, and leaving nice big gaps in the wood piles they were preparing to make sure roast hedgehog wasn't on the menu for the day after bonfire night. And my mum was about 2 weeks away from giving birth to me. I don't know what she was doing exactly - I wasn't there (well, OK, technically I was but I couldn't see out) but I guess she was probably painting the woodchip yellow in the nursery and folding terry nappies.
That was back in 1978, which means that now, in 2008, I'm sat here noticing how dark it is, looking forward to an extra hour's sleep next weekend and enjoying the last few weeks of my 20s! Seeing as I'm going to be 30 this year, I thought it'd be a good idea to do something a bit different to celebrate.
Please please know that I don't expect anything at all from you. You don't have to buy presents or anything at all. If you don't want to or weren't going to or are wondering how you came to be reading this because you don't even know who I am, feel free to stop reading. BUT if you were thinking about sending me something for my birthday, read on....
Presents are lovely, and much appreciated, but really not necessary. This year we moved from a house in Coventry to a flat in London. Just ask any of the lovely people who helped us move in here - we've got way way too much stuff (and way way too many stairs to have carried all those boxes up!). I honestly can't think of anything I need or want this year, or where I'd put it if I could think of anything!
So... here's the plan. We've been involved with Grassroots in various ways over the last few years. It's a great charity that does all sorts of things in the UK and the rest of the world. One of these 'things' they do is an Alternative Gift shop, where you can buy mosquito nets, food parcels, pigs and all sorts of things which are used in the communities supported by the Child Sponsorship programme in Tanzania. I'd really love it if any money that you might have spent on a present for me could be sent to Grassroots instead so that they can put it to good use in this community.
I haven't selected a specific item from the alternative gifts yet - it seemed to make more sense to wait and see how much we raised between us before thinking about that side of things. Once I know, I'll talk to Hugo and Sharon about how that amount could best be used. If you're one of the lovely people who contribute, I'll make sure we let you know what happens.
If you do want to be part of this, head on over to the Donate page on the Grassroots website. From there, you can either donate by credit card, or download a form with all the information you'd need to send your donation by post. Alternatively you can send donations to me and I'll pass them on BUT if you're a taxpayer, it's much better to go directly to Grassroots as you'll be able to gift aid your donation which makes it worth a whole lot more. If you have any trouble with this, contact me or Grassroots and we'll sort it out.
If you do contribute, please make sure you add a note saying that its part of this so that the money ends up in the right pot.
Again, please don't feel you have to do this, or anything else, for me. Its just great knowing that you're our friend and hanging out with you every once in a while. If I'm still up to visiting people once old age hits, it'd be great to see you soon!