Monday 28 November 2011

How to comment on a blog post

Many Grape Vine readers are new to the world of blogs, and some of you have never visited any other blogs, or commented on them, but there are so many lovely competitions being run by lovely, friendly bloggers that it really is well worth joining in. Not only do you stand a better chance of winning than you do in many other kinds of competition, but you could get to know some interesting new people too. The majority of blogs are run by individuals and one-person businesses, so there isn't the "facelessness" of simply filling in a form on a website or writing your details on a postcard.

But when I have run competitions here on the blog, a few Grape Vine readers have told me that they didn't know how to comment. Go on, you old blogging hands who are tittering behind your hands now, you must have been first timers once! Today's advice is for the newbies who may, one day, be as experienced as you are!

First of all, a blog is different from a website and often the blogger doesn't have much control over the form that they use. So some blogs  - this one included - don't have a box to collect your email address. This means that unless they are using a widget like the Rafflecopter one I have used for recent competitions, the blog owner will need a way to contact you if you win.

One way to do this is to sign up for  a Google account. You can do this at or by clicking on the "Join this site with Google friend Connect" button that you will see on the right of many blogs. Once you have signed up, go to your dashboard and  choose "privacy" and tick  the box marked "Show my email address". That won't show it to the whole world, but if you have followed a blog and then win  a competition on it, the blogger will be able to email you to tell you that you have won.

If you don't want to do that, and have a Twitter account,  you can use that as a way to be contacted. Just put your Twitter name in your comment.

If you don't have either of these ways  top be contacted, you may want to give your email address in your comment. But please, don't write it in its usual form. There are computers set up to search the internet for email addresses that appear anywhere public, and when they find them, they deluge them with spam. You don't want that to happen, so write it in a way that a computer can't recognise. The most popular way to do this, and one that most bloggers will understand, is to replace the @ sign with the word AT.

Right, we've worked out how you can be contacted when you win, now we need to find out how you are going to actually make that comment! First of all, make sure you are reading the specific post rather than the whole blog. To do this, click on the subject line at the top of the post you are reading, for instance "How to comment on a blog post" at the top of this one. Next look for the words "comment on this post" or "post a comment". They will usually be at the very bottom of the post, but occasionally right at the top. Sometimes you need to scroll a long way down, past other comments, to find them. On the Grape Vine blog, scroll right past the end of the post and past the "You might also like" suggestions  and you will see a box to write your comment in. On some blogs, instead of the box,  there will be a  link: click on it and the box will appear in a pop-up window.

Write your comment in the box, making sure that if there is a question, you have answered it correctly,  and if necessary, left a way to contact you as described above. Then select "Google ID" if you have one, or otherwise "anonymous" from the  drop down menu, and click on "Post comment". On some blogs you will be given a Captcha code to fill in before your comment is complete.

Once that is done, your comment will appear immediately, or a little while later after the blog owner has approved  it. There is one final thing to do if you are entering a competition that uses a Rafflecopter widget, and that is to go back to the widget and click "I did this" next to the "Leave a comment" option. The widget  will collect your email address safely and securely so you won't need to worry about spammers.

If you are new to commenting on blogs, why not try it out here? Just say Hello, tell me what you want for Christmas, tell  me about the weather - just say SOMETHING so that next time you see a competition that asks you to comment on a blog, you won't think "I can't do that, I've never commented on  a blog". And as I check all comments before they are posted, I promise I won't allow your comment to appear if you have accidentally included your email address.

And then why not take a look at some of the lovely blogs on "My Blog List" on the lower right of this page, where you might find some competitions to make a start on!

Thursday 24 November 2011

Win some gorgous treats for the babies in your life!

Silver Cross has another wonderful competition for us. This time they are giving away the whole of their Owl and the Pussycat range  - a massive bundle of treats consisting of:

  • Owl & the Pussycat Musical Waterball

  • Owl & the Pussycat First Year Picture Frame

  • Owl & the Pussycat Moneybox

  • 2 x Owl & the Pussycat Trinket Boxes

  • Owl & the Pussycat Musical Ball

  • Owl & the Pussycat Owl Rattle Set

  • Pussycat Rattle Set

  • Owl Comforter

  • Owl Hug Toy

  • Pussycat Hug Toy

  • Owl Beanie

  • Pussycat Hug Toy

  • Owl Beanie

  • Pussycat Beanie

  • Boat Beanie

  • All you need to do to enter is head over to their Facebook page,  "Like"  the page if you don't already (I expect most of you already like it because of the beautiful doll's pram competition they ran recently!) and answer the simple question on the Competition tab. The competition closes on December 2nd.

    Wednesday 23 November 2011

    My day in Reading - what a lot of new competitions!

    Grape Vine readers, and others who have read my "A day in the life..." post, will know that I try to have at least one day a week devoted entirely to visiting as many shops as possible in search of new competitions. Some days they are utter failures and I come home with nothing at all, but most trips yield a fair crop of new competitions. However yesterday I staggered home with a bumper bundle of new competitions, and some of them close very soon so read on for more information. For anything you need to act on before the next issue of Grape Vine comes out, the information you need is given here.

    This week for my "safari" I drove to Reading and parked in the Oracle centre, so my first stop was the shopping centre there. Although these competitions were found in Reading, they should be available in branches of the same stores all over the country.

    Shoon had an entry form with their Ecco Gore-Tex shoes - simply try a pair on to be given an entry form to hand in for a draw to win a trip to the Ice Hotel. Closing 30 Nov.

    The Fenn Wright Manson concession in House of Fraser had a form to hand in for a draw to win £500 worth of gift vouchers and £500 of diamond jewellery, closing 11 Dec.

    Also in House of Fraser, the Triumph lingerie department had a form to hand in when you bought any item of Triumph lingerie, for a chance to win a trip on the Orient Express, closing 31 Dec.

    Heading on through the centre, I passed Disney store  where the Gift List competition closes on 27 Nov  and New Look where store card holders will  be given a lucky treat envelope  every time they make a purchase  of £30 or more, until 15 Dec. Each envelope will contain a treat ranging from a discount voucher to a holiday.  Ernest Jones had a comp with GC  watches, closing 16 Dec (for full details, see the December Grape Vine).

    H Samuel had a form to hand in for a chance to win a Chamilia bangle, closing 04 Dec and Hush Puppies  had one to hand in to win a pair of shoes a month for a year (oh, yes please!) closing 31 Dec. Another form to hand in in L'Occitane - sign up to their mailing list for a chance to win a £500 hamper. No closing date was given.

    The Bank Fashion catalogue  contains several competitions, all closing in December and January, while the Office one  directs you to for a chance to win a chalet holiday in the french Alps,closing 31 Nov.

    Moss Bros have posters advertising a competition to win  a 40" LCD TV and Blu-ray home entertainment system and  a digital camera, with 10 runners up getting a digital camera and  a copy of the film The Hangover Part II. Closing 11 Dec.

    In Debenhams the Virgin Travel shop had a form to hand in for a chance to win £1,000 off your next holiday, closing 30 Nov.

    My final stop in the Oracle was HMV  where I bought a copy of the DVD Top Gear At The Movies which had a sticker on the outside saying "Win a trip to the Valencia Grand Prix". Apparently the comp details are on the DVD, so as  it doesn't close until 22 Mar I've not watched it yet. I was pleased to find that the DVD case also contains a comp to win a Smart TV, which also closes next March.

    Out into the town centre itself, to hand  in my own entry for  the  Clas Ohlsen competition. Check your November Grape Vine update for a reminder of the details - it closes on 10 Dec.

    High and Mighty menswear  shop had a form to hand in to enter a draw for £1,000 to spend in  store, closing 29 Feb. A few doors along,  Jessops catalogue features two rather specialised photography competitions.

    In Hawkins Bazaar you are given an entry form when you spend  at least £10. Fill it in there and then and return it to the assistant for entry into a draw to win £1,000, closing on Christmas Eve. The Modelzone catalogue says there is a Christmas competition in store with £100 and 5 x £20 vouchers to be won, but all I could find was their usual monthly draw for £50 of vouchers. And talking of catalogues, the JD Sports catalogue contains a competition to win a trip to next year's Snowbombing Festival, closing 31 Dec.

    In the Altimus store, the Paramó catalogue contains a comp to win walking equipment, closing 01 Feb and a reminder of the ongoing  Nikwax competition.

    Having exhausted the town centre, I drove on to some of the out of town retail parks. First stop was  Toys'R'Us to spend some gift vouchers I had won. The assistant persuaded me to take up the offer of a Gold Card loyalty card, and I'm glad I did as registering it online at gets you entered  into a draw to win a £500 trolley dash, closing 30 Nov.

    Then on to Hobbycraft where, as usual, I spent far too much. Luckily there was a money-off voucher in the latest issue of their magazine, which also is giving away a trip to the Ice Hotel - head over to  to enter. Closing 30 Nov.  There are other giveaways in the mag, which will be listed in the December GV.

    My next stop was Tesco where I picked up a pack of Sugar Puffs with a competition on them to win one of 40 x Wii and 5,010 x Skylanders characters. This closes 30 Sep 2012. A few other on-pack competitions I spotted turned out to have closed,  but a leaflet promoting the Tesco credit cardhad details of a draw to win back the cost of Christmas. closing 05 Jan, and one at the Tesco Pharamacy had a draw to win a holiday to Lapland, closing 31 Dec.

    By this time the sky had turned black and  it was about to pour with rain, so, with a quick glance in The Range and Majestic Wine to see if either had any new competitions (they didn't) I headed home. But my day wasn't over - I  had to sort through all the Christmas brochures and catalogues I had picked up to see if any of them contained competitions, and then open lots of mail for the London Competitors Club of which I am Membership Secretary.  It is renewals time and renewals are flooding in thick and fast.

    When my husband got home he said, "Have you done anything today?"
    "Oh," I replied, "Just the usual....."

    Wednesday 16 November 2011

    CLOSED Win the DSA car and bike books - and you could win a car!

    Every year, the DSA runs two tiebreaker competitions, one in their range of books for  car drivers and one in the books for motorcyclists. The prize in the car books is a car - a Peugeot 107 or similar car - and the prize  in the bike books is £1,000 worth of bike clothing. You have plenty time to think of your tiebreakers - the competitions don't close until the end of 2012!

    Together, the two books would set you back £27.98 but I am giving you the chance to win them BOTH. Just go to the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions.

    Oh, and make sure you DO follow the instructions! Last time I used Rafflecopter for a competition, some of you thought you would take short cuts by filling in the pop-up forms but not actually doing the actions. Well, if you do that, it might look as if you have entered - but when it comes to drawing the winner, your entries show  up as not being valid (this is the same with all rafflecopter competitions, whichever blog you enter them on).

    UK entrants only, please, and the competition  will close at midnight on Monday 28th November. Note that as comments are moderated, you may not see yours appear immediately. I might be asleep, or out looking for new competitions  for Grape Vine..... or something..... but unless your comment is inappropriate it will appear eventually.

    Thank you all for entering this competition which is now CLOSED. The winner is 

    Option: Follow @janesgrapevine on Twitter

  • Extra Info: @clarateddy

  • Well done!

    Monday 14 November 2011

    My VIP trip to Masterchef Live

    This time last year, I was delighted to win a pair of tickets to the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham. While I was at the show, I popped my details on an entry card and posted it in a box by the entrance, for a competition to win tickets to Masterchef Live in London this year. There must have been tens of thousands of entries,  so I was delighted to get a phone call earlier this year to say I was the winner.

    The prize consisted of VIP tickets for four people on two days, front row  tickets for all four of us to two of the Chefs Theatre performances, a night in a hotel and £500 of spending money.  The show ran from 11-13 November and we took the prize trip on the 11th and 12th.

    On arriving at the show, we  made our way to the VIP lounge, a room set aside just for people with VIP  tickets, where we were given shopping bags and show guides and £20 each of tokens to use in the restaurant area. The lounge was a comfortable, spacious place where we could safely leave coats and shopping, relax with a cup of tea and a snack - or even a glass of champagne - and  enjoy talks  and demonstrations specially laid on for VIP visitors. There were even  a few VIP only competitions! It would have been quite possible to spend all our time at the show in  there, but we were anxious to get out and see what the  show had to offer.

    Tim Anderson cooks against Phil Vickery, hosted by John Torode and Greg Wallace
    Masterchef Live doesn't have as many "big business" exhibitors as the Good Food Show,  the emphasis is much more on the demonstrations which took place at several places in the hall, and on the restaurant area where small dishes  typical of the menus of a dozen top London restaurants were on sale. The upstairs gallery was host to scores of stalls from small producers and I was delighted to meet up with friends from Twitter such as Kate from Gower Cottage brownies, the lovely boys from Daas beer  and former Masterchef finalist Tim Kinnaird.

    Also upstairs was a  large hall hosting the Wine Show  - tasting glasses  and highly tasteful glass holders to hang around our necks  were also included in our VIP bags.

    Masterchef winner 2011, Tim  Anderson

    One of the joys of  having a two day  ticket was that on the first day we didn't need to do  any shopping.We could look around the stalls (and of course enter the competitions) without having to juggle bags and boxes. As we left at the end of the first day, we were given  VIP goody bags crammed with samples, recipe books and packs of  biscuits.
    me with Marcus Bean, last year's winner of Iron Chef UK, and  Michael Caines
    The second day was  a repeat of the first, with more shopping bags, show guides, goody bags and meal tokens, but this time with an added treat - the PR lady looking after us had managed to arrange for us to have our lunch in the Green Room where all the celebrity chefs went to chill out between performances. There we were lucky enough to meet Michael Caines, this year's Masterchef winner Tim Anderson  and Plenty's own Superstar, Juan Sheet!

    My life is complete, I've been hugged  by Juan Sheet!

    Sunday 13 November 2011

    Some lovely wins for Grape Vine readers!

    Readers of Grape Vine love to be winners! And each month,  they can notify me of any wins worth £500 or more that they have had, so they can appear on the Winners List on the front cover. At the end  of each year, every entry on the list goes into a draw to win a 6 month extension to their subscription and 100 second class stamps.

    I love to hear of the wins that readers have had, and other readers  say that hearing about big wins and hoping that they, too, can be a "Cover star" spurs them on to try harder with their own comping. Yes, reading about other compers' success really CAN make you a winner.

    So here, to inspire you all, is a list of the big wins sent in by Grape Vine readers in just one month, October 2011.

    £500 – Chicago Town pizza
    VIP meet and greet with The Saturdays
    Olympics trip – Morrisons/Cadburys
    £2,800 – Dickinson’s Real Deal
    weekend in Hull – New! Magazine
    washing machine – Waitrose/Persil
    weekend in London – OK magazine
    £1,000 of toys – Mattesons text comp
    £500 hotel voucher – Hello magazine
    luxury break in St Andrews – OK magazine
    VIP trip to Aegon Masters tennis (£800)
    trip to Lapland –Clas Ohlssen
    £10,000 of gadgets – Currys
    VIP trip to music awards with helicopter tour, lunch at the Ivy, night at the Dorchester and more – web comp
    tickets to Coast anniversary meal and choice of dress – Coast
    TV, Blu-ray player and more – Sci-Fi Now
    year’s fuel (paid as a  cheque) – BP
    Designer mirror (over £1,100) – blog comp
    Holiday to Grenada – Daily Mirror
    Spa  break – Boots/Dove
    £500 rug – Norfolk magazine

    Well done again to anyone who recognises their win here. The Winners List is only open to current Grape Vine subscribers - see here for details of how to subscribe.

    And look out very soon for an account of a recent big win of my own - a VIP trip to Masterchef Live! 

    Thursday 10 November 2011

    What do you REALLY think of Jeremy Clarkson?

    He's the Marmite Man  - you either love him or hate him Or do you?  Everyone has their own views on Jeremy Clarkson, not all of them charitable.

    Experience Mad would like to know just what you DO think of him, and in return for completing their very short survey they are giving you the chance to win a driving experience in a Ferrari 360, Aston Martin DB9 or V8 Vantage, Lamborghini Gallardo and Porsche 911.

    To give your opinion and enter the draw, pop over to The survey closes at the end of November  so that the results will be out in time for the Top Gear Christmas Special.

    Tuesday 8 November 2011

    AN EARLY CHRISTMAS TREAT FOR MUMS AND DADS! WIN Christmas Gifts for your family, your friends and YOU! has put together a fabulous online Christmas Gift Guide complete with ideal Christmas Gift Ideas for all the family, reviews and recommendations, great small gift business features and best of all... Christmas Gift Give Aways with gifts up to £100 each plus exclusive offers and discount codes!

    Supportive Business Mums was founded by Ces Loftus, a designer, brand buzz creator and work from home mum. Ces says : "Christmas Shopping can be stressful as well as time consuming and costly. I have put together a great selection of ideal gift ideas, all from small businesses as opposed to the high street and offering some great discounts and special offers too. We have some awesome prizes up for grabs and all you have to do is visit the online features, click through to the sites you are interested in, then comment on the Christmas Guide Blog to say which products are on your Christmas Wish List! You double your chances of winning by sharing the Gift Guide page on twitter and facebook. An early Christmas treat ready to make your life easier and save you some money!"

    Do you want to win a gorgeous gift for yourself and have gifts for family and friends sorted too?

    Quick, get over to there are so many fabulous gifts including, clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery, bath and beauty products, pamper products, candles and homewares, art, personalised gifts, cards and paper, books, novelties, stocking fillers and toys to be won!

    If you have a small business selling products suitable for Christmas Gifts and would like a free feature on their guide then contact Ces Loftus by email at

    NOW GO and WIN yourself something fabulous! Good Luck Everyone!

    Monday 7 November 2011

    Do you know Britain's luckiest person?

    Do you know Britain's luckiest person? Or maybe you feel YOU deserve that description? A journalist called James Tegerdine is looking for someone who fits that description, or someone who makes a living out of winning competitions, for a story which would be published in newspapers and other publications all over the world.

    If you would be interested in letting him interview you, or know somebody else who might (but please get their permission first!) please get in touch with him at - and tell him that you were sent by Jane Willis of Grape Vine so he knows right away which feature you are talking about.


    Friday 4 November 2011

    Some competitions that just missed Grape Vine

    Printing deadlines being what they are, occasionally a new competition appears after Grape Vine has gone out, yet closes too soon to be included in the update.

    Here are two that did that this month.

    The first was found in Asda, a small tear-off pad  by tins of pre-mixed Southern Comfort. The leaflet directs you to  where you will find the instant win promotion; play the game for a chance to win one of 100 sets of 4 tickets to the Juke Joint party on November 17th. The site says there is also an instant win promotion connected with free voodoo hats given out when you buy a Southern Comfort in participating pubs.  Both close November 14th.

    The second is at Sainsburys. Swipe your Nectar card when buying any of the following:
    - All Coke, Powerade and Glaceau Vitamin Water drinks
    - All Cadbury 120g, 140g and 230g bars
    - All P&G products including Pampers, Head &Shoulders, Gillette and Fairy
    - All Heineken lager
    - Selected fresh fruit and vegetables.
    to be automatically entered into a draw to win one of 1,500 family tickets to the Paralympic Games. You will get one entry for each product you buy, but can only win one prize per Nectar card. This closes 15 November.

    Thursday 3 November 2011

    Hand made Thursday - a wedding card

    This weekend I am going to the wedding of the daughter of two of my oldest friends. We've known Philippa since she was a tiny tot - not right since her birth, as we lived overseas for the first year of her life. But we are practically courtesy Aunt and Uncle to her. So I wanted to make her a really special wedding card. And as almost always when a very special, keepsake card is what I want to produce, the Bookatrix embossing board was called into action.

    This time I cut one of the pages twice, once in card and once in acetate, then cut out the centre of the card one to reveal the acetate windows below and the patterned paper (won in a Twitter competition!) in the layer below. The windows  were finished with peel offs and a stand made from matching patterned paper. The little rosebuds finishing the corners look flat in the photo but in fact are quite deep. They came from a Hot Off The Press kit.

    I neede to make sure it didn't get damaged in the post so I made a matching box.

    This post is for the Handmade Thursday linky at White Lily Green

    Inspire Me Beautiful

    Win a lovely treat for Peppa Pig fans

    The latest competition on the Tesco books blog is  for one of 5 Peppa Pig bundles. They include a copy of Peppa Pig Time for a Story, Peppa Pig Pirate Island Sound Book and the Peppa Pig 'International Day' DVD.

    To enter, simply pop over to the blog post here   and  tell them which animal you would like to be, if you could, and why. You can get extra entries by asking your children which animals they would like to be too. The competition closes on Friday 18th November.

    And here is my granddaughter Lara, on a day trip to Peppa Pig world, wearing her favourite hat - a Peppa Pig one of course!

    Tuesday 1 November 2011

    Win six months subscription to Grape Vine

    Do you know that the Grape Vine website has its own monthly competition, with a six months  subscription to be won every month?

    Last month, there  were 383 entries, but 66 of these were disqualified for not following the instructions. So make sure you read carefully and do what it says, not what you THINK it says. The task was set up to trick spammers, not humans, but it's surprising how many humans are caught out too!

    Multiple entrants had their first entry allowed, but subsequent ones were disqualified.

    To enter, just pop over to this page  and fill in the form. This month's  competition closes on November 30th.

    While you are there, why not request a FREE sample copy of Grape  Vine? Anyone who has never  had a copy before can request a free copy  - but hurry! Stocks of the November issue are already limited!