I’m going to trek through the Sahara in 2019

I’ve decided to do one of those mad challenges that people occasionally embark on. I’m going to be taking on a Sahara Trek next February – five days ploughing through arduous terrain in Morocco and it’s all in aid of The Brain Tumour Charity.

I promise not to bore you too much over the next year, but I will be sharing my ‘journey’, where appropriate.

I’m not exactly in great shape, so part of the challenge will be getting fit again and ready to spend hours in scorching temperatures, trudging through sand with a pack om my back.

It would be wonderful to be able to count on your support – there will be as many lows as there will be highs, I’m sure.

> And it’s dead easy to donate via my Justgiving page

Thank you!


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Why don’t banks target the younger generation any more?

Midland's Griffin from the 1980s

If you grew up in 1980s Britain, you’ll easily recognise the above yellow figure. The Griffin was the embodiment of Midland Bank (later to become part of HSBC).

One of the big selling points of Midland – if you were a kid – was the chance to join the Griffin Savers Club. It was a basic savings account, but you got a free sports bag, dictionary, file and more when you signed up.

First out of the blocks a couple of years earlier, Natwest also tried to encourage the youth of the 80s to become customers by launching their Piggy Bank scheme – the more money you saved, the more piggy banks you got.

As my generation grew up, the same banks tried to encourage us to upgrade to a full-on Student Bank account using a free Young Person’s Railcard or HMV vouchers as incentives.

Continue reading “Why don’t banks target the younger generation any more?”

Let’s talk about death, baby*

A not-insignificant part of my week has been taken up discussing the aftermath of loved ones dying.

As part of our continual reassessment of the free advice guides we supply at Age UK, we run focus groups with older people to ensure we’re covering the right topics.

With information about money there’s little room for leeway, but an emotional topic like bereavement often requires more consideration.

Thus, I’ve run two workshops with small groups in both London and Norwich encouraging people to openly discuss their feelings and how they coped after someone close to them died.

Taboo subject

Death is an odd topic. Most of us hate speaking about it. In spite of its inevitability, it’s a ‘big’ issue that either manifests itself in complete avoidance, or else the phrase ‘Oh, you don’t want to talk about that!’

But actually it’s exactly what we should be doing. Not only before we shuffle off – in order to plan and get your affairs straight – but also after the event when those left behind are at their most raw and exposed.

Everyone we spoke to agreed that – no matter how hard it can be – talking about the person who’s died and also your own feelings is the way through it.

Confront – don’t avoid

If you’ve been through a bereavement, one of the most excruciating parts is when you first encounter others after the death and you know they’re worried about you crying and – in many cases – they visibly avoid you.

To some extent that’s natural because many of us haven’t been through a similar experience, but what we really want is for someone just to offer a few words of condolence, ask how you’re feeling and then treat them as normal.

Bereaved people don’t sprout horns or wings – they may just be a little more sensitive than usual.

So the next time someone you know loses a close relative or friend, do the right thing and just talk.
*With apologies to Salt ‘N’ Pepa