Sunday, May 15, 2011

Put On Your Best Lycra, It's Eurovision Time!

Eurovision. Yes, we are going there. Much easier to ignore in Australia when the competition is only broadcast on SBS, at least 12 hours after all the glitter’s been swept from the stage. Whole other matter when you’re in the UK and Blue is representing. Don’t know who Blue is? They’re the boy band referenced in Love Actually, the one that Billy Mack tried to knock out of the number one spot in the charts by gettting himself naked. I know, I thought they were fictional too.

Of course, there was the office sweep. I drew Ireland, which landed me with The X Factor winners Jedward. Not sure if you will have heard of Jedward in Australia. I hope not, for your sakes. Picture a yappy, hyperactive Chihuahua whose sad, lonely owner distastefully groomed with an overabundance of hairspray. Now picture that morphed into a human form. Then times the image by two. That’s Jedward. But, you know, I paid my one quid and naturally wanted to see a return so, for one night only, I got behind Jedward. I have no morals.

So, sitting at my (Australian) friend’s place last night with Indian takeaway and chocolate, we joined Dusseldorf and the rest of the EU and wondered whether we were about to witness the beginnings of another ABBA. I wasn’t hopeful. It also dawned on us that for the first time in our lives, we could actually legitimately vote in Eurovision. We didn’t. But it was nice to know we could.

Right from the beginning of the broadcast, I was on the edge of my seat. As the hosts welcomed viewers, and barely a minute into the show, Australian viewers got a special shout out by the hosts. Surely this qualifies us for an honorary entry in next year’s competition???

And then came the outrageous costumes, questionable lyrics and synchronised dancing. Here are my highlights for 2011.

Lithuania’s song ‘C’est Ma Vie’ was not only sung in French and English but also incorporated sign language. Any tri-lingual performance gets my tick of approval. Although, let’s pause to consider the hearing impaired community who, for the past fifty odd years, thought they had been spared the delight that is Eurovision. There’s no hiding now, friends.

I can’t tell you whether Ukraine’s song ‘Angels’ was any good. I wasn’t listening. But I was completely enthralled by the sand painting that was happening in the background. Expressive faces, birds and scenes of mother nature expertly crafted by hand on a projector screen while the singer, adorned in far too many feathers, performed her piece. There was a moment where the idea of a finger painter winning Eurovision 2011 was a real possibility.

Russia’s Alex and his posse of male dancers ticked all the necessary boxes – lycra, cheese factor, male dancers, winking to camera – and undoubtedly won the hearts of girls and boys alike.

France’s entry was a puzzle. That’s to say, I enjoyed it very much. The operatic Corsican piece ‘Sognu’, reminiscent of a revolutionary Les Mis musical number, far exceeded the quality required for a Eurovision entry. I think they may have walked onto the wrong stage.

Then came the process of calling through each participating country’s votes. How eccentric/psychotic are some of the hosts? I mean, where do they find them?? It’s like that 30 second spot is the first time on television for some of them. Compliment the host city? Fine. Compliment the lead host? Also fine. Belting out a few bars of your own ‘hit’ from yesteryear? Not cool.

So Blue didn’t win. Nor Jedward. I’m crushed. Mariah Carey look-a-like Nikki Jamal led Azerbaijan to victory with a pretty but not exactly memorable duet with a pretty boy. Here’s hoping they achieve half the success of ABBA.

Danke schoen Dusseldorf. Auf Wiedersehen.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Un Gelato, Per Favore

Every time I find myself in Italy I get a little smug. Because, you know, I can say a whole 5 phrases in Italian. Actually, I can usually quite successfully buy train tickets, order food and ask for the bill, ask for and get directions and did I mention order food? So long as none of these prompt follow up questions. Italians speak fast, really fast. And they generally don't tend to phrase all their sentences in the present tense for my sole benefit. They like to use the conditional and past historic and future and subjunctive and what's the subjunctive again? No, I wasn't listening in that class either.

I do remember, "Dario e` sempre in ritardo" though, as everyone who did even two weeks of Italian using Avanti would too. This brought back fond memories for some when I posted the line on Facebook as we all recalled how Dario was always late in every bloody chapter. Not so useless it seems when the Italian trains decide to run late and only announce this in Italian. Thank you, Dario, for your selfless tardiness.

So, anyway, I've just spent 9 days in Italy, eating my way through Rome, Florence and Venice, and hoping to improve my high school learnt Italian. Early into the trip, I got some great advice from a waiter, who was learning English himself. He said to me, "Just speak. Don't think about it, don't rehearse it, and definitely don't worry about making mistakes. Just speak." As his four years of English far exceeded my four years of Italian, I listened... and spoke. And I got better. I now know about 20 new nouns, all gelati flavours. 'Mele verde' is green apple by the way, and delicious. I did get pesce (fish) and pesca (peach) mixed up once. That was embarrassing.

As anyone who has learnt another language can attest, when you're trying to gain confidence in conversation, there's often a lot of self-talk going on, conversations whirling around inside the head as you determine whether you have all the words to form that sentence. Or whether you can avoid using the conditional tense even though you probably should. Then, building up the confidence to try it out. Then by the time you open your mouth, the moment's passed and the person you were talking to has already handed you the change and is looking to the person behind you in the queue. And as you walk away, it dawns on you then that the third person singular future tense for the verb 'to be' is sara`. I have a love-hate relationship with my self-talk. I will try to figure problems out in my head. But when I do, it usually surfaces like a weird case of turrets. Like when it started raining in Rome and I couldn't for the life of me remember the word for rain. I wracked my brain for 20 minutes, when it suddenly hit me. "E` piove!" I said aloud to Mary, our hotel owner, while we were mid conversation. And it had already been raining a good 20 minutes by this point.

I was so inspired to get better at Italian that I even bought myself a couple of kids' novels to read. I'm starting on Harry Potter e la Pietra Filosofale. Ok, it's taken me a week to read 50 pages but has proved to be really useful in forming more interesting sentences and learning figures of speech. I am curious though to see if I'll ever need to use Muggle or You-Know-Who in a sentence but I remain hopeful. Babbani and Lei-Sa-Chi, if you were wondering. I sense that this drive to learn is already waning as I return to London. Unless, maybe, I can find an Italian speaking job that desires expert knowledge in wizardry and fruity gelati. If you hear of something, please let me know.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

This is Summer

The most quintessential London moment happened not at Wimbledon or on Oxford St on a Saturday afternoon or even last Thursday when, on The Strand, I saw a red bus, a red telephone box, a black cab and two policemen with those round police helmet thingies ALL AT THE SAME TIME. My most quintessential London moment happened tonight when, following a sunny 20 degree day, everyone - and I do mean EVERYONE - in Hammersmith turned up to the pub by Hammersmith Bridge at 5pm for a pint in the sun.



When the emails started circulating at work at lunchtime today with the suggestion that the post work drinks should move from the usual Stonemasons to the river, we all thought we were being particularly innovative. Seems like we weren't the only ones with the clever idea. The river bank by the bridge was packed by the time we arrived with people spilling out all along the riverside where the Blue Anchor, Rutland and The Dove - three equally lovely pubs - all stand in a row. And it was at that moment, standing in a tank top and skirt, on a day where the temperature barely reached 20, that I realised I've become a true Brit. How ever will I cope when the temperature gets higher???


Awesome work people.


The pub was packed when we arrived.


And even when it got dark, it was equally packed.

Apparently, it will be 24 degrees on Sunday. I may pack my bikinis and sunbake in Hyde Park. Then again, I'm not a chav (or bogan for the Aussies). Maybe just a cute summer dress and flip flops while I enjoy some much needed vitamin D.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Will Never Get Tired of Seeing Red Telephone Boxes

I've had the telephone box theme on this blog for almost a year now. It seemed fitting as the blog is loosely about my experiences in London. The picture was downloaded from the many themes available for download from Blogger. So imagine my surprise when I found, purely by accident, the exact place near Covent Garden where that picture was taken!

Here's the picture I took last week, at a slightly different angle, but clearly the same row of telephone boxes.



It doesn't matter how long I've been living in London, I still get turned on by a handsome red telephone box. Here's another I found on The Strand last Thursday as I people-watched over a coffee in the sun.



Isn't it beautiful?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Skydive!

It finally happened last weekend – I jumped out of a perfectly functioning plane at 13,000 feet... and it was amazing!

So, the day of March 5th started at 5am. I woke up feeling a little bit nervous, but not very. As I waited at London Paddington Station, a little peckish, I knew it was probably more sensible to resist a MacDonald’s breakfast. I didn’t resist, and gave in to temptation. On the way to the airfield, I wondered whether the sausage and egg McMuffin would make its way back up and if so, when.

Everyone – skydivers, instructors, friends – milled around the manifest area at Hinton airfield, waiting for the first jump of the day. There were about 50 people diving that day, 30 of whom for the Charity. Someone advised that because the weather was favourable, we could go up to 13,000 feet, 3,000 higher than initially advised. ‘What??’ I screamed, then wondered why I reacted so dramatically. As if an extra 3,000 feet would make ANY difference once you’re up there anyway.

When it was finally time for our turn, we went through a final briefing – when to cross arms, when to stretch them, how to land etc. I think I tried so hard to remember the instructions that I forgot to get nervous. Going up the light aircraft, I remember looking out the window and thinking, ‘Gee, what a great view. Jumping from here would be great. Except when I looked round to my instructor, I was told we were only 2000 feet high. Another 11,000 to go!

Once we reached the right altitude, everything happened really quickly that it became hard to process any feelings. We were given the green light, then the roller door at the side of the aircraft was opened and the girl ahead of me was practically pushed off. That was good, because going next, I really didn’t want any time to think too much... about anything. She disappeared off the edge, literally DISAPPEARED, like a black hole swallowed her up. Half a second later, there was no sight of her and the instructor. Wow, so that’s how fast gravity works. And within 30 seconds, I was in the place where she was with my instructor dangling me off the edge of the aircraft, legs hanging over the edge, and... to be honest, I can’t remember much from that moment. I can’t remember if I was given a countdown or any warning that we were going over. I just felt a falling sensation, which lasted no more than one or two seconds literally and then something else took over. I stopped feeling like I was falling. It was like, once my body stabilised and I was facing the earth below, I was left with the sensation of floating. Sure there’s a strong wind blowing into my face and I could hardly move my arms due to the pressure, but it certainly didn’t feel like a falling sensation. 13,000 feet is well above the clouds and you literally have no point of reference to indicate that you are going from point A to point B. So for the entire freefall part, I could only see clear blue skies surrounding me and a fluffy blanket of white cloud below. It never felt like I was getting any closer to this soft white blanket.





I then felt a tap on my shoulders, from my instructor pointing at something to my left. Oh, that’s right, I paid for a cameraman and now I have to wave at him. I waved. Then what? He was still there. So I waved some more and then I gave him the thumbs up. And he was still there. At this point I was at a loss as to what else I should do. I tried to talk. That didn’t work. Opening and closing my mouth was too hard. I tried to move my arms about but only managed to look like an idiot.



It surprised me how clearly I could think while freefalling. I had wondered how I would react, and secretly feared I might black out mid air, or worse, wet myself. Thankfully, I did neither. The fact that I could be freefalling and still be lucid was what surprised me most. So anyway, within 45 seconds, I got the knowing tap from the instructor, which meant that he was about to pull the cord for the parachute. I pulled my arms back to my chest and before my palms even hit my shoulders, I felt a tug and a pop in my ears to indicate that the freefall had come to an end. At this point, we were still above the clouds. My instructor checked in to make sure I was still ok before pointing to a small rainbow off to the side, a full multi-coloured circle resting above the clouds.

Interestingly, someone asked me later how long the freefall lasted. About 45 seconds. And how much distance did we cover in those 45 seconds? About 5000ft, I responded. So, had you continued to freefall for just an extra minute you would’ve hit the ground? Awkward silence, while I pondered that one.

Thankfully, that was the last thing on my mind while we floated back down to earth. As we landed, I was so surprised at how close we got to the manifest area where everyone at the Charity was standing and cheering. Who would’ve thought you could control a little parachute with such precision? I had quietly feared my landing would somewhat resemble Bridget Jones’s unfortunate landing in a pig sty.



The adrenalin I experienced that day was unlike anything I’ve experienced before. In terms of fear, I’ve been far more anxious about dental appointments in the past. I’m not saying this to suggest I’m brave – I’m really not! – but to highlight that something indeed takes over you when you prepare for a skydive. Of the 50-some people jumping that day, NO ONE was a quivering wreck – even the girl who was afraid of heights!

My closing remark is this – DO IT! Don’t over think it, just do it. Honestly, think about all the people you’ve met or known who have done a skydive – how many have said it was unpleasant or average? EVERYONE raves about their dive. So, DO IT! And even better, do it for a charity that you believe in – much harder to back out that way.

And lastly, to all my generous sponsors, thank you so so so much from the bottom of my heart for your generosity and your support. It was an honour to have done this for The Prostate Cancer Charity and together, we raised a whooping £446.37 which goes towards support, research and campaigning for men and their families who live with prostate cancer.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

If you do one new thing this year, join a book club!

I’ve often found strong and convincing arguments against joining a book club, despite harbouring deep down a secret desire to be part of one. I’m too busy, I suck at commitment, I can’t finish a book a month. But if I were to be really honest, the overarching reason why I’ve avoided book clubs is the fear that I would sound stupid.

Well, I bit the bullet this year and joined the book club run by my workplace. I made the leap for two reasons: I was reassured there’s actually be very little discussion of the book; and people at work already know how slow I can be.

The best thing about being part of a book club is that you get to read books that you wouldn’t normally pick up off the shelf. My reading selection is often quite conservative – I find something good and stick to it. After I read Monkey Grip for the first time, I proceeded to read another 6 of Helen Garner’s books... in a row. The second best thing about being in this particular book club is that we force ourselves to leave work at a semi decent time and we go to the local pub.

So the book that was chosen by one of the book club members this month was Doris Lessing’s The Grass is Singing. Definitely not something I would’ve picked up at the book shop if I was on my own. But hey, we’re all about trying new things here and I’m so glad I gave this a go. The story is set in Rhodesia during the war and surrounds Mary and Dick Turner, a white British couple living in a remote farm among black indigenous communities. In the opening pages of the book, we learn that Mary is found dead in their home, and their black cook, a young male, has been arrested for the crime of her murder. Over the course of the novel, we discover who Mary was and how she came to her eventual death. I won’t give much more away except that this is a good choice of book for group discussion, for the reason that the characters, the writing and the ending can polarise people.

I didn’t feel stupid tonight, in fact, I so enjoyed having people to discuss the book with, to vent my frustrations and share what I learnt, to hear different interpretations and opposing views. And yes, as promised, the conversation did eventually stray from the book, which was also nice.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

High Tea... Ealing Style

Sitting on your arse and waiting to be pushed out of a plane isn’t traditionally fun. So on the weekend I had a fundraising ‘do’ at our place to build my confidence, raise awareness, and encourage some further donations.

This led to an interesting observation – I’m more nervous about baking and hosting than I am about skydiving. I think the idea of completing the skydive has been with me for long enough that I’m now immune to any emotions that are tied with it. The thought of preparing food for other people – and being entrusted with the task of not poisoning anyone – is sheer terror. So much so that I did a test run for my batch of Mars Bar slice. My friend Tammy’s recipe, it involved chopping up some Mars Bars, sticking them in the microwave and then mixing with Rice Bubbles before refrigerating. Oh, and topped with melted chocolate. And yes, I did f*#k it up by forgetting to grease the tin... then burning the Mars Bars.

So, being a Sunday afternoon, it was decided that the fundraiser would be a High Tea (of sorts) where I would serve sandwiches, scones, sweet stuff and plenty of tea. And because Cherie’s nan’s cheesy dip has never once disappointed (cob loaf hollowed out and filled with three types of cheese, ham, peppers and spring onion then baked for an hour), we had to roll that out too. Some of my lovely friends also kindly brought along some homemade brownies, for which I was incredibly grateful.

If my goal had been to give all my guests clogged arteries and tooth cavities, then I passed with flying colours. First on the menu was finger sandwiches. There was ham, brie and mustard; chicken, brie and spinach; grapes, brie and mint (sensing a theme here??); and of course, cucumber and cream cheese with chives. Next, came the scones, freshly baked that morning with jam and thickened double cream. And lastly, all the stuff that will get people bouncing off the walls – Katie’s strawberry iced cupcakes, Courtney’s dark chocolate and peanut butter brownies, Sharleen’s brownies and my honey joys and Mars Bar bites. Add to that, the cheesy cob loaf, dip and crackers, crisps and biscuits and no wonder we had to practically roll people to the tube station afterwards.





Ultimately, it was a successful and civilised afternoon, to my great relief. We raised £100 from the day and I hope my friends enjoyed themselves. A big thank you to all the talented bakers who kindly came to my assistance with their delicious cupcakes and brownies, and to my gorgeous housemates who helped me shop, prep, clean, cook, entertain, make tea and clean again. And to all the generous donors – THANK YOU!!

I jump in just 10 days! If you haven’t yet sponsored me and would like to, please visit my fundraising page: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/skydivebee85 The money we raise will be going to The Prostate Cancer Charity who do an amazing job in supporting men and their families living with prostate cancer, fund important research and work tirelessly to raise awareness for prostate cancer in the community.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

When your housemate can predict your time of the month better than you, it’s time to move!

My new favourite bar is B@1 in Hammersmith where they play awesome music and most nights of the week they have happy hour – 241 cocktails. Last night, my housemates and I took full advantage of this. We were celebrating two things – Katie passing her exam and Katie and me finding a new place to live.

It’s rather surreal to think that we are approaching the end of our lease in Ealing. With Cherie heading back to Australia in May, Katie and I decided on a change of scenery and this week set out to suss out the Hammersmith area, to get a feel for the market and prices. We hadn’t planned on viewing any properties until March, about a month before getting booted from our current house. But last weekend, we just happened upon a house, not too dissimilar from our current four-bedroom, in Hammersmith that would become available in April. We called the agent, lined up a viewing, put in an offer the following day and two days after that, paid the deposit. Done! In the coming month we will need to find two more housemates to occupy the spare rooms but much prefer being in this position than the other way around. So if you are looking to move around April and like the sound of Hammersmith, give me a buzz. With four tube lines and about eight bus routes, you can’t go wrong.

So, an eventful week and well deserved cocktails at our soon-to-be local. B@1 has an impressive menu of cocktails from Pisco Sours to Mojitos to Singapore Slings. So you can drink your way around the world. Last night, I started on something vodka based, moved onto something rum based and ended on something ice cream based. That wasn’t the smartest idea and had me on the brink of throwing up for what felt like forever. Half a block of Lindt chocolate and no dinner didn’t help the situation either. The girls coped better than me, but only marginally.

Really looking forward to getting to know the area better once we move in. Pubs by the river, funky bars and cafes, theatres.... if you know of any good Hammersmith secrets, please share!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Here Comes the Sun (And I Say It's All Right)*

I'd like to think I haven't resorted to writing about the weather on this blog. But I do want to make mention the FULL DAY OF SUN we had on Monday. That's right, an entire day from morning to late afternoon of sunshine. Sure, it was 4 degrees for most of it and we still rugged up in coats and scarves, but hello vitamin D. It's funny how something as simple as sunshine can change the mood of... well... everything. It was hard not to smile yesterday - even people on the tube seemed cheerier.

Otherwise, life in London has been rolling along at a spectacular pace. It's hard to believe that we're approaching the last couple of weeks of winter. Days are certainly getting longer and it's not uncommon to be leaving work when the sky is still showing some colour. I have accepted that I probably won't see snow again until December. Which, come to think of it, will probably be upon us before we know it.

I say that because we're moving house soon and I've started the arduous process of househunting this weekend. Who would have thought that we'd be approaching the end of our one year lease already! More likely than not, Katie and I will be looking for new housemates from April so let me know if you're in London and looking too.

And, it's just 18 days until I do my skydive for Prostate Cancer awareness. Please, please, please donate to my fundraising page here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/skydivebee85

Even a small donation will make a big difference to The Prostate Cancer Charity and the amazing work that they do.

*In case you missed it, that's a Beatles song and I've been humming it all week. How could you not?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Not All Advice Is Good Advice

Everyone seems to have an opinion about the dos and don’ts of skydiving. Because my friends all want to help, of course. Don’t jump if you have a toothache – it’ll make it much worse. If the parachute doesn’t open, aim for trees – you’re more likely to survive. Or, if the parachute doesn’t open and you’re over water, try to hit the surface of the water at an angle of 35 degrees. The fact that Oxford is nowhere near water is the least of my concerns. And did you know that someone once had their parachute cut off by a vindictive “friend” just before they jumped out of the plane? Oh, no, that wasn’t advice – I just read it somewhere once and thought you might be interested to know. Hmmm.... people, stop helping.

Actually, the best bit of advice I received was from TNT magazine this afternoon. It said: as soon as you jump out, shut your mouth. At first, I thought it was to keep the flies out, but then my housemate explained that there probably won’t be any flies at 10,000 ft in the air. But with the strong, cold wind blowing into your mouth, it’ll dry out the mouth within seconds. And probably explains the thing about the toothache too. Note to self: bring lip balm.

A reminder that I’m doing this for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which is happening in March in the UK. The idea is to jump out of the plane with arms open wide yelling, ‘I’m Aware!’ I have warned the Charity that, despite all good intentions, there is a small possibility that I will be doing the whole thing in the foetal position.

If you would like to help my cause and think you hold some brilliant wisdom on how to survive a plummet to Earth, you probably don’t. Or I’ve heard it all before and will shortly publish it on this blog. I would, however, prefer your kind donation. To date, I am on £110.00, an awesome figure so thank you to everyone who has already donated. If you haven’t and would like to, please visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/skydivebee85

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

So, How Is It February Already???

The start of February often brings with it the wonder and disbelief that we're a month into the year already. A time when most new year resolutions are crumbling apart, one chocolate bar at a time. February is the month when all memories of the previous year are wiped - you can no longer blame the over-eating and over-drinking from the holiday season as an excuse for poor performance at work, and even the 95% off the RRP Christmas decorations have all but disappeared from shops to make room for the army of Easter bunnies who have been well trained by Mr Wonka to further stuff with whatever that remains of those wretched resolutions, or good intentions as I like to call them. All this when, really, all I can focus on is remembering to write 2011 instead of 2010 everytime I fill out a form or have to sign something.

Oh, and don't get me started on Valentines Day.

I've tried Googling for the 'darkest' or 'deadliest' day of the year, supposedly the day in which most suicides happen. I wouldn't be surprised if it fell in February. But, alas, I got distracted by the research that said Wednesday is the deadliest day of the week, where a whopping 25% of suicides happen. Interesting, but irrelevant. But do take care of yourself tomorrow and remember that no matter how bad things seem, I still love you.

So anyway, I do believe that things aren't all bad, certainly if you live in the UK.
Because the quicker the weeks go by, the closer we get, at least, to summer and longer days and the possibility of sun. My love for vitamin D is strong.

On the other hand, I grew up in Australia, where January is the month of summer dresses, beaches, school holidays, barbecues and re-runs of Friends. February marked the end of all that - or at least the opportunity to enjoy the aforementioned sun and crappy TV due to work or school. Couple that with an inability to commit to losing that weight or quitting those cigarettes/chocolates aannnndddd the thought of getting old and you soon find yourself reaching for the vodka... unless you resolved to quit that too. Then you're an idiot.

So this February, I'm being positive and looking forward to summer. I'm staying positive that it will be a long and hot summer too. I'm enjoying chocolate, every calorie of those bunnies. And I intend to get better at writing 2011 without the liquid paper.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This Isn't Flying, This is Falling... With Style!

In just 43 days, I WILL be jumping out of a plane shouting 'I'm Aware!' to raise awareness for Prostate Cancer. Yep, the deposit has been paid, Virgin Money Giving fundraising site has been created and my manic YouTubing of anything and everything skydiving has begun. Shit. No backing out now.

So the plus side to this challenge is that I don't have to run or cycle or train. The down side is that I feel completely helpless, knowing that there is little I can do to make this any less scary between now and the 5th of March, which, by the way, is when the jump takes place.

The logical question to this is, why??? For a start, I've never done anything like this before. Only last October did I, for the first time in my life, go on a carnival ride that went upside-down. I don't have a morbid fear of heights but I trust harnesses and ropes and the sensation that my bodyweight is being supported - ie. rock climbing, good; bungee jumping, bad. But hey, live outside your comfort zone, right? And importantly, I want to raise as much money as I can for my chosen charity, The Prostate Cancer Charity. And really, it wouldn't be an experience if it wasn't terrifying. I mean, you wouldn't sponsor someone to go for a ride on a rollercoaster.

I will be fundraising in the coming month, with the hope of raising at least £395. To visit my fundraising site and to donate, please go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/skydivebee85

This is possibly one of the biggest things I will attempt to do and your support would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Am I Crazy?

Ok, so there's an opportunity to skydive in March and I'm seriously considering doing it. I'm petrified just thinking about it. I don't mind heights, but free-fall is not something that sits well with me. Googling the likelihood of dying from skydiving has proved unhelpful.

However, I should explain that there is a good reason for me to be considering this (keyword being considering, so don't hold me to it yet!). March is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and I am looking to raise awareness and money for prostate cancer. Jumping out of a plane seems like a good enough way of doing this. And also, as we all know, cycling and marathons are just not how I choose to fundraise because, frankly, I can do neither.

So, it's for a good cause. It could be absolutely amazing - if I don't black out or die. It could very well be a personal triumph - again, if I don't black out or die. What do you think? Should I do it? Encouraging words will be appreciated. I'll make a decision over the weekend so stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Working Out with Nell McAndrew

The word endurance can be defined as: the hope that this wretched pain will end in the next sixty seconds. Anyone with no hope left in the world would not succeed in an endurance test.

This is the insight I gained tonight while doing Nell McAndrew's Ultimate Challenge workout DVD. How else is it possible that I lasted an entire hour of jumping, squatting, tightening and lifting?

Nell McAndrew, according to Wikipedia, is an English glamour model, TV presenter, Lara Croft model for the video game and 'has released many popular calendars'. Good for her. I'd not heard of her before because, well... I'm not a sixteen-year-old English schoolboy.

So, housemate nunber one brought Nell home last week with the hope of getting fit again after the holiday season of, 'Yes, why don't we order pizza and Thai on the same day and stay in our pyjamas and watch cheesy movies and not shower?' But housemate number one had really hoped to get fit via osmosis so Nell stayed on the coffee table for several days holding our chocolate and red wine in place. Then, in stepped housemate number two, who with the pressure of having to be in a bridesmaid dress in September, unwrapped the plastic cover on the DVD and made me dig out my pilates clothes (which were buried below my summer dresses - what does that tell you???).

It was fun at first, three pathetically unfit girls jumping around the living room, arms waving about, fists banging into walls, furniture, each other. Then came the not so fun part - squat and hooooooooooooollllllldddddd. We grunted and swore like we were giving birth to hippo calves. The whole time, evil Nell had this smug grin on her face, peppy and chipper and not losing a sweat. Look at her - don't you want to slap her too?



As if this isn't bad enough (and it was at this moment I got the insight into human endurance), THEY LIE TO YOU! On more than one occasion, Nell's camp yet beautifully toned and bronzed male counterpart, who led the charge, yelled: "Just three more now, three, two, one, and eight, seven, six and five..." Yeah, no.

I was ready to give up fifteen minutes into this aerobic 'ultimate challenge'. But each time the rhythm changed to a slower pace, I had hoped the routine would come to an end. Forever the optimist, I clung onto that thought for forty-five minutes. And you know what? The three of us all made it to the end of the hour-long workout. Not sure if I entirely agree with the methods, and I still believe Nell to be smug and evil, but hey, WE DID IT!

So Nell, I will give you another go. I do feel great about myself right now, even though tomorrow morning could be a completely different story. I reckon with your help I can get those ultimate results that you promise. But please try to be less peppy in your future DVDs. Or at least sweat a little.