Time to get your Father’s Day cards

All the card shops are filled with Father’s Day cards.  It’s that time of year again.

Father’s day cards tell our Fathers/Pas/Dads/Daddys about how much they mean to us.  Whether they are the strong silent type or the life and soul of the party – let’s show them we care.

I know time’s tight and life’s busy but just choose a card on here, drop me an email on sharon@slsolutions-nw.co.uk or tweet me on @apaforyou and I will drop a card off at your house or post it to you free.

All cards here are either £1.50 or £2 for a larger one and there’s something for everyone….

I’ve been busy – what’s your excuse?

So much happens every minute of every day: Life is short. Help is available.

Work. Family. House. Business. Errands. To-do lists. Occasions. Shopping. Hobbies. Cooking. Memos.

Time passes us by so quickly – we need to spend as much time as we can doing the things that are important to us – to our souls.

In the past 12 months I have gained clients, my mum has been poorly in hospital, I have been on holiday, my auntie got ill and sadly passed away, I have organised 4 trips, We’ve had a Christmas break, I have had 2 houses for sale and am in the process of buying 1.  I have made friends and lost friends but what I haven’t done is kept my website up to date!

What have you been busy doing?  What do you need help with?

Do you struggle with time and the pressures of life or do you struggle with mobility?

I’m your everyday PA.  Call me and see if I can help.  Have a look at my services page.

Admin. Errands. Repairs. Data input. Gift wrapping. Packing. Shopping. Sorting. Relief work. Temp cover. Ironing.

Whatever help you need – just get in touch and we’ll make a plan.

The cat that got the cream

Just thought I would pop a note down to let you know about my super exciting day yesterday.

S L Solutions is well and truly on the map with their first invitation to a press launch of a musical.  We arrived at The Winter Gardens in Blackpool on a bright but chilly day and mingled with likeminded socialites & business people.  We were then led through to the rear stalls entrance so that we could fill up the theatre from the front.

As I waited my turn in the queue to take our seats I was both surprised and delighted to see a number of cats in the audience.  They were posing and preening themselves and rubbing their ears and taking it all in.  One little mischievous cat (surely macavity?) was hiding under the seats and pawing at peoples’ feet making them jump.

As I was there on my own I could pick and choose where I sat and got a great seat about 10 rows back in an aisle seat.  I had a great view of the cats while they generally mingled with us and ‘performed’ – jumping and rolling about and play-fighting with each other.

The lights went down and the pianist came onto the stage closely followed by Heart FM presenters who introduced David Ian, the producer who will be bringing the CATS production from The London Palladium up to us here in Lancashire.

The Blackpool Opera House is THE only place that we will see CATS outside of London in 2015 and in 1989 it was the first venue outside London that the show was staged.

David Ian told us a bit about his work with Andrew Lloyd Webber and the history of the CATS musical.  He then went on to introduce the lead star of the show which is to be singer and presenter Jane McDonald.  Jane gave us a rendition of Memory sung beautifully and then had a quick Q&A session along with David.  During the session Jane told of her love of Blackpool and that it was the first venue after her show The Cruise where she brought her show and it seems ironic that the same venue has been chosen for her to star in the role of Grizabella.  She said it seemed like it was just meant to be and a “dream come true”.  David also confirmed that the show music will be in the form of a full orchestra and that “Andrew would not have it any other way” and he promised that the production would be as good as, “if not better”, than the current London show.

We finished with photo opportunities in the Winter Gardens with refreshments being served too and then off I popped to the box office to make our reservation.

So which cat got the cream? Me! Well it was such a great experience I feel like I did.

We should have a great afternoon in Blackpool seeing this wonderful show and having a drink or two before or after and an optional light lunch before hand too.  Contact me on event@slsoultions-nw.co.uk or find me on Facebook by popping slsolutionsnw in the search box.  Email or message me for tickets.

 I look forward to seeing you on this event or another one soon – check out my events pages to see which you fancy.

How long have you got?

So, he’s still dusting off his knee and you’re walking down the aisle (well, in your imagination anyway)!  You’ve been planning this moment since you were 17  and you’ve got everything sorted – where it will be, what you’ll be wearing, how you’ll have your hair and maybe even what colour scheme your wedding will have.  It all seems so easy when you are daydreaming but it’s now that the hard work begins….

There’s so much to think about, decide on, find, source, organise, book and of course pay for.

It is true to say that a wedding can be as small or as large as you want it to be – it is your day and, as a couple, you should not be swayed into doing things you don’t want to do and certainly not things you can’t afford.  Starting married life with thousands of pounds of debt is not the best plan anyone ever had.  But, however big or small your wedding, there is one thing for certain, you will have the biggest to-do list you’ve ever had before in your life.

You will need to be super organised and very disciplined when planning your wedding.  I won’t just list the many things you need to consider as that wouldn’t be very interesting reading.  But I will say that the first thing you need to do is decide on a month during which you would like to get married and, of course, which year (as that will determine how quickly you need to get started!)

You will need to set a realistic budget and then you need to source things that fit within that budget and into your overall wedding theme.  What feel do you envisage for your wedding?  country? vintage? chic? traditional? modern? sparkly? or romantic?  Anything goes – it’s all about you and your style.

However, your theme could sway your preference of a venue – or vice versa.  All the most reputable wedding venues get booked up months (even years) in advance, but if you don’t want to compromise on your dream venue then you could perhaps get married on a weekday instead of the weekend.  BEFORE you make a firm booking and pay a deposit – you MUST ensure that both venues for the ceremony and the reception are available.  In some counties, registrars cannot be booked until 12 months before the wedding (but I need to book my venue before then – I hear you cry!) well in this instance you must be the most organised you have ever been in your life and go ahead and book the reception venue, but 12 months before your wedding, as soon as the registry office opens, you should telephone and book your day in.  There are only so many celebrants and they can’t be in two places at once.

The next big decision you need to make is whether you want a professional photographer at the wedding?  They are expensive but good ones are worth their weight in gold and again, for this reason, the best ones get booked up a long time in advance.  They create the memories you will have of your day and, no doubt about it, you WILL miss most of your day!  They will capture the essence of the day, and all of this rolled together will help you remember lots of special moments as your memories begin to fade.

At this stage you will need to start thinking about your dress.  The accessories can wait a while but you should start to think about the style of dress you would like and you should certainly make appointments with at least 3 different bridal shops.  Making your decision can take a few weeks or it can take a few months but the reason you need to consider this early is, even though you are browsing dresses in shops in towns and cities near you, it is very rare for a wedding dress to be bought ‘off the peg’ (although they are becoming much more widely available in department stores in recent years).  It is highly likely that your dress will actually be ordered from, and made in, China, India or other far-flung countries.  It is usually necessary to allow 6 months from ordering a dress to allow time for it to be ordered, made and delivered.  It must then be tried on, altered if necessary and then pressed or steamed ready for your big day.

Finally, although it is an added cost, if you are getting married around any holiday time (either summer or winter) or it is very important to you that all the most important people in your life are there to share your special day, then you should consider sending out ‘save the date’ cards to all the guests you plan to invite.  Unfortunately, this then brings another to-do item to the forefront and you will need to consider your guest list and this can be a very tricky area.  In any case, if you can decide on who you want to share your big day with you then sending these cards can just inform people to keep the date free if they are planning a trip around that time.

Similarly, you will need to inform the special people in your life of the date and ask them to be bridesmaids/Groomsmen/Flower Girls/Best Men or women – wouldn’t it be devastating if you didn’t get round for a few months to telling your best friend from university that you wanted her as a bridesmaid only to find she had booked the holiday of a lifetime and wouldn’t be able to be there to share your day?!

Most other things can wait a little while and so maybe, just maybe, you can have a few weeks rest before you have to start sourcing the rest of your wedding suppliers (more on that next week). Phew!

It really is a big task – needing many hours to spend on research, checking availability, comparing price lists, getting and checking recommendations/reviews, viewing venues, making bookings, paying deposits and so the list goes on.  Some people revel in it and some people want to crawl under a stone and hope that someone else will do it for them.  This can happen and it is usually a family member that takes the reins and leads the way.  Unfortunately, your ideas can then get lost in the midst of someone else’s.  Someone who is not impartial enough.  Someone who will have too much influence over you!

So don’t be panicking about all those things.  Just start to enjoy the beginning of your new life together.  You want to carry on going on date nights and have romantic nights in – not be hunched over a phone or computer wondering how to get it to all come together.  If you want impartial advice and assistance leaving you free to spend time together but don;t want somebody to ‘take over’ then a wedding PA might just be what you need.

Be sure to watch out next week for some tips on what else you need to concentrate on in the run up to your wedding!

Life is a Cabaret Ol’ Chum

Well, another group of theatre fans took themselves off to Blackpool for a 3 course group lunch in Pizza Express (which surpassed our expectations and was exceptionally tasty and the staff were very helpful and friendly).

After lunch we walked the 2 minutes to The Opera House which is situated within the Winter Gardens and took our seats which were as usual in the mid stalls.  Going as a group booking had gotten us an unbelievably fantastic 70% off the ticket prices and so we had paid only £15 each per ticket.

To a packed audience we were treated to Will Young greeting us as the ever so slightly crazy Emcee.  The show was truly professional and the singing and dancing was top notch.  Will actually plays 2 characters and is equally as funny as both.

About 50% of the show is more like a play and during these times I wondered if my guests were enjoying the darker side of the show.  In many scenes there are only 2 actors at a time on stage and there is a lot of spoken word.

Guests said the hairs on their arms were standing up and they were entranced and at the end there were even tears (I always know the guests have truly got into the spirit of a show if there are tears).

I am a little biased and I think Will makes it but I have seen it twice, with him in the lead on both occasions, so I don’t have anything to compare it to.

Go and see it for yourself if you get the chance for comedy, laughter, singing and dancing; along with shocks, suprises, a little bit of sauciness and tears – Cabaret really is a must see for any theatre lover.

Come and join us on a future trip – tickets still on sale for Priscilla – Queen of the desert (Manchester, February) and soon to be on sale for Mamma Mia – Blackpool, July 14).

All in a day’s work for a VA

Have you ever had one of those day’s?  Well, today was one of them but, as always, I thrive on a challenge.

Technology let me down on a number of occasions today.  First of all I felt like I was in a twilight zone when trying to make a booking for one of my events – but perseverence is worthwhile and I was extremely pleased with the outcome – many clients were very happy with the outcome of that telephone conversation.  It HAD , however, taken me probably a total of an hour and a half making multiple phone calls and reaching multiple voicemails!

Then, a number of emails disappeared into an abyss, for no apparent reason other than my phone didn’t like the weather I presume, so that was work I needed to duplicate.

I was sent a flyer by a client to promote an event for her business, only to find the format wasn’t functional for its intended purpose.  But it’s okay – a good hour’s sourcing and research brought me to my answer!

Finally, as I was just about to implement the solution – lo and behold – I get the purple screen of death on my computer which then proceeds to shut down and restart leaving me rattling through some paperwork until I could ‘get back to it’!

So, here I am and once again it’s midnight.  Another day over – I wonder what tomorrow might bring?

Perhaps I need a VA!?………

Posted in VA

In Blackpool with the Woods!

Well, another good day on an slsolutions event.  This time it was a trip to Blackpool for a matinee performance of Priscilla – Queen of the desert with guests travelling from Thornton, Preston, Accrington, Blackburn and Bolton.

We arrived by bus, train and lift and met in The West Coast Rock Cafe on Abingdon Street. Here there’s something for everybody and the food we chose ranged from garlic mushrooms, Burritos, a combo plate, pasta bake and a boring burger (no, really! it’s called a “boring burger” on the menu).

The music is loud enough to give plenty of atmosphere but not too loud so that you can’t have a conversation and the drink we consumed ranged from water through bottled beer and continued into liqueurs!

A short walk (about 1 minute to be precise!!) to the Opera House Theatre in the Winter Gardens and we found our seats (stage left of the stalls).  With only 2 minutes to go the theatre was barely occupied and, by the time the curtain came up 5 minutes late, only a 1/3 of seats had been taken.  It was unbelievable – Blackpool in the height of the summer holidays – I have never in my life seen a theatre so empty.

But.  The show must go on…and go on it did!

Over the next 150 minutes we were singing and clapping and jigging in our seats (well, some in the isles actually).  We were woo’d with the campest, shiniest, most colourful show I have seen for many a year.  The interval found us giddy with enjoyment as yet another disco classic brought the first half to a close.

The story is good with plenty of rip roaring comedy moments and heart-wrenching tear-jerking ones too.  It really is a feel good show with lots well known hits to sing-a-long to.

The empty seats around us did not affect our enjoyment of the show – although maybe our appreciation was not as loud it would have been from a full house.

Please support you local theatres – otherwise they may not be around in the future.  If you would like to got to the theatre or on other outings, but have no-one to go with then maybe you would like to join us on a future event?  If so, please get in touch here – we are a friendly bunch and welcome any newcomers.

Our next planned show is Wicked on 3rd October but this is sold out.  Next availability (at the time of publication) is for Cabaret at the Opera House on 19th October 2013 (this show features Will Young as Emcee – Winner, Newcomer of the year 2013)

Food, drink, laughter and tears!

The sun was shining for our trip to Manchester.

Hundreds of people gathered in Hardman Square, sipping cocktails and watching the Wimbledon Men’s Semi Finals on the big screen (a lovely way to end the working week).

The whole group came together in Carluccios where we shared pastas, risottos, breads and ice creams (and of course a few Peronis were taken too).

On arrival at the Opera House theatre – only 2 minutes walk away – we took our centre mid-stall seats for a perfect view of the stage, in anticipation of the show which would shortly begin.

The production on this occasion was “Ghost – The Musical” and it went down a treat.  We were entertained by a mix of upbeat songs, heart tugging ballads, comedy moments and mystery and magic.  Whilst the set had changed slightly since my 2 previous group outings it had mostly improved for the better.  There was plenty of toe-tapping and giggles, but most people were bleary eyed as the lights came up after a fully expected tear-jerker ending.

A good night was had by all – old friends met and new friends were made – here’s to the next one – cheers!