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ENJOY A MOUNTAIN OF FREEBIES IN SWITZERLAND! With the Villars-Gryon's Freedom Pass, you get free, unlimited use of local trains, buses and gondolas and sport, cultural and entertainment activities. Available free of charge to anyone staying in Villars-Gryon-Les-Diablerets resort (whatever your choice of accommodation, from B&Bs and hotels to apartments and ApartHotels) throughout the summer until 25 October 2009.

Hello from MNHQ...

Where we're nervously noting the length of the summer hols and really rather hoping you'll give us some child-entertainment inspiration by posting great Days Out Reviews. In a spirit of you-scratch-our-back-we-scratch-yours holiday solidarity, we've done the rainy-day options bit by giving our DVD and Video Games Reviews a nice big summery update.

Thank you to everyone who took our 2009 Mumsnet Census. (And well done to muggglewump, solidgoldbrass and orangesarenottheonlyfruit who won some distinctly covetable prizes.) We're busy gossiping about analysing the results and will be sharing the juiciest nuggets soon.

Now for this week's parenting news ...

Schools places under pressure: One in five local authorities in England is reporting that the recession is making it harder to get a school place. This is due, says the Local Government Association, to parents abandoning private schools to save money and to the paralysis in the housing market, which means fewer parents are moving out of urban areas. Meanwhile, ministers announced an extra £200 million would be made available to deal with the shortage of reception places in primary schools. (BBC Online 15.07.09 and Guardian 15.07.09)

Mums' wages hit: Motherhood 'devastates' women's earnings, meaning women with children are earning about 22% less than their male colleagues, according to a report from the Fawcett Society. And the damage seems to continue well after children grow up and even after they have left home. For each year a woman is absent from the workplace, the researchers say, her future income will decline by 5%. (Guardian 10.07.09) 

Other stories in brief

RUN, JOG (OR SIMPLY STAGGER) 5K FOR BREAKTHROUGH BREAST CANCER. There's still time to sign up for the Adidas 5K Women's Challenge on Sunday 6 September in London's Hyde Park. The MNHQ team will be there - why not come along, too?

Hot threads


This week's prizes are:

It's easy to enter (and keep an eye on winners' corner to see if your name has come out of the hat). 

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Quote of the week

whomovedmychocolate explains why the female of the species should get this swine flu nonsense firmly in perspective: "Man flu is worse than swine flu as no woman will ever experience that sort of pain."

So the kids need to get out more? Mumsnetters suggest...

Find more Mumsnetter recommendations for great days out near you in Mumsnet Local - and once you get home, please add a review in our new Days out/Attractions section.

Aitch's TV round-up: The Wire, Tues 21 July and beyond, BBC2, some ungodly hour
I will allow that the erratic scheduling of The Wire (perhaps the greatest TV show ever made etc etc) has not been conducive to your viewing pleasure but, for those of you who have not been watching, it's not too late to start. I'm happy to report that Series 4 is the best of an otherwise magnificent bunch, so please do take the time to press 'series link' on the hard drive and enjoy it. If you don’t have a hard drive, a Sky Box or aren't familiar with the more rarified elements of your video instruction manual, you're snookered. Damn those schedulers' eyes.

Blog of the week: Why I don't read pregnancy books
whistlejacket plans the crowning moment of her imminent third labour: "In one of her books, Sheila Kitzinger talks about allowing your body to open up and give birth. One of her clients apparently cried out, 'Open, gates of Jerusalem!' as her baby crowned. Last time, I think I said, 'It hurts.' I must think of something more inventive for number three."
Bursting to blog? Why not start your own?

Recipe of the week: 2handsomeboys' Banana Cake
So scrummy (and simple), you'll be willing those 'nanas to go a bit ripe round the edges. Serve warm from the oven for a teatime treat or with a dollop of yoghurt and
seasonal berries for a celebratory start-of-the school-hols breakfast.
Review this week's recipe here - or why not post one yourself?

That's all, we're off to try to make sense of our video instruction manual...

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