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Have you made a will yet? If not, find a solicitor who will draw up a will free of charge during November as part of Will Aid. The lawyers give their time for free and hope in return you'll make a donation to the Will Aid group of charities (suggested donations - £75 for a single will, £110 for a pair of matching 'mirror' wills or £40 for a codicil to an existing will).Click here for more info.

Hello from Mumsnet HQ...

Tana Ramsay MPU

Where it has been quite a week - never before have we felt so much empathy for the Three Billy Goats Gruff. Still, at least we have a new discount partner on board to cheer us up: Emma Bridgewater, purveyors of quality kitchen and tableware no less (come back Cod, look what you're missing). And to celebrate they're giving £250 worth of vouchers to one lucky Mumsnetter.

Our November book of the month poll is up and running, and the theme is detective novels. So dust off your tweed jacket and magnifying glass, and cast your vote. Don't forget we're discussing October's Book of the Month, The Ghost Road by Pat Barker next Tuesday evening (28 October) - so you've still got time to order your copy and join in.

It wouldn't be a newsletter without us begging you to do a quick poll. This week's is about trick or treating and has two questions (so should take all of about, ooh, 10 seconds) and everyone who completes it will have the chance to win a two-day family visit to the Halloween Scarefest at Alton Towers.

And now for this week's parenting news ...

Sats scrapped: The government has abolished Sats tests for 14 year olds following the collapse of this year's marking process and widespread criticism of the tests. But, despite condemnation from teachers unions, tests for 11 year olds will continue, ministers insist. Under new plans introduced by schools secretary Ed Balls, each school will have a 'report card', based on a New York scheme, that will grade every school in England and give parents information on which to judge schools (Guardian 15.10.08).

Family unfriendly pubs: Children are the most unpopular customers in British pubs, according to the Good Pub Guide 2009, which has logged a record number of complaints about youngsters. Pub-goers told the guide's editors that relaxing over a pint or meal out was increasingly being ruined by unruly children. "People have finally snapped," said Fiona Stapley, co-editor of the guide. "Children are driving them mad. And, of course, it's the parents' fault." She said more pubs should adopt the JD Wetherspoon rule, under which parents or adults with young children are allowed only two drinks (Times 14.10.08).

Other stories in brief

Staff shortages are stretching some premature baby care units to the limit, according to a survey by campaigners (BBC Online 16.10.08); almost two-thirds of school rebuilding projects in England are behind schedule, figures obtained by the Conservatives show (BBC Online 13.10.08); the Health Protection Agency has been called in to deal with an outbreak of TB at a private nursery in Knightsbridge, London, after more than 30 children and seven staff contracted the disease (Daily Mail 15.10.08).

Hot threads

Competitions

In honour of all things ghoulish, this week you could win a fearsome night's stay for four at the Alton Towers Scarefest. The prize includes a two-day theme and water park pass (and you'll double your chances of winning if you complete our trick or treat poll).

Quote of the week

UnquietDad on why he doesn't fancy himself as the material girl's DH number three: "Christ, imagine being married to Madonna. I mean, no amount of hot kinky sex or lashings of money can be worth that much high-maintenance freakery and rampant muscly neurotic gym-bunny ninja weirdness."

Planning an autumn day out? Mumsnetters recommend:

Carmenere's recipe of the week: Pushchair's chilli and garlic spaghetti

Everyone needs a throw-it-together-from-the-contents-of-the-cupboard recipe in their repertoire, and this chilli and garlic spaghetti is just that. Perfect for when you can't be bothered to cook (and much better for you than 'ping' cuisine).

That's your lot for this week. We're off to sharpen our fangs. Mwah ha ha.

Love,
MN Towers

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