Sunday, 21 October 2012

22. See a ballet

What – Swan Lake performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet company
When – Thursday 18th October 2012 at 7.30 pm
Where – Sunderland Empire Theatre
Who with – Myself (what can I say I like my own company)

I’m not sure why I added seeing a ballet to my list, it was possibly as an attempt to add a bit of class to my life but also I had the curiosity to see whether a production without any spoken dialogue could hold my attention for 3 hours. . .And do you know what? It did. It was bloody brilliant!

The Russian gentleman Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikousky originally composed the ballet in 1876 and has been performed across the world ever since. Even if you don’t know the full story of Swan Lake the music is instantly recognisable. Without a live orchestra then I don’t think they would have been able to do the score justice. It was superb! I remember in primary school being introduced to Tchaikousky in assembly. I think we even had ‘Tchaikousky’ on our spellings list one week – to any teacher’s reading this, please don’t follow in my teachers footsteps and do this; it’s a really hard word to spell!

Not to give too much of the plot away it is a classic good versus evil story with the hero Prince Siegfried being a typical bloke and seeing some hot woman that he wants to make his wife but screws it all up when he falls under the spell of an evil magician (though having no dialogue then that could be open to interpretation, I personally think he was thinking with his pants and not his head. . .) There are a few parallel’s with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet so it would be interesting to know if Tchaikousky was influenced by his work. You can find more in depth information about the plot line from the company’s website 

I thought I would get a bit bored by the constant dancing but I could not take me eyes of the dancer’s feet and legs! The way the women can dance on their tippy toes and the way they can extend their limbs and the flexibility in their bodies are incredible – this did surprise me considering how tight the male dances trousers were (it left little to the imagination!) As a complete ballet novice I could appreciate the dedication, athletic ability and endurance these dancers must need to sustain the level of dance throughout the whole show. I don’t think there was one inch of fat on any of the performers! What Birmingham Royal ballet had also done (which I’m not sure whether other company’s do) is that they added a degree of theatrics running through the production that helped to hold your attention.

For me the person that stole the show was a character called Benno, Prince Siegfried’s best mate danced by Tzu-Chao Chou. The way he was flinging himself around that stage with the biggest grin I have ever seen on his face that did not falter once was so impressive.

The scene that stole the show was the opening to Act IV, the final act. The curtain opened to the lake scene with fog completely covering the ground. As the orchestra started to play the swans dramatically emerged from the sea of fog and started to dance. It was a spine tingling moment, the crowd, which had been pretty reserved up until that point went wild, thundering applause rang out throughout the theatre – a more than deserved reaction to the opening of the final act. If I could describe it in one word it would be 'stunning'. 

All in all absolutely loved it and will definitely be going to see another ballet (I can't believe it took my 26 years to see my first one!). I think top of the list is The Nutcracker. The only thing that I was a bit unsure about was the Sunderland audiences reaction to the 'baddie' with their booing - may I just remind everyone that this is a high quality ballet production and not the Christmas panto, ha ha

I think what this post highlights is that one of the fantastic things about my tea cup list is that it is opening the doors to new experiences that don't have to be a one time only affair but they are experiences that are igniting new interests in me and ones that I can share with my friends and family. On that note bring on the next experience!


Monday, 23 July 2012

12. Travel first class

This needed to be done. I don’t like trains (the fact that I work in a train museum is irrelevant) and if I’m going to travel on the last day of term after a week at work then why not book a first class ticket to rock up to Laura’s in style?  On my next list I’m going to include travelling first class on an aeroplane!

So. . .my first experience of first class is that PEOPLE ARE RUDE! – No one (and there were at least 5 ‘men’ sat in that carriage helped me to get my case up onto the luggage rack. Normally I wouldn’t have minded but it was really heavy (probably from the two bottle of Champagne in there?! At least those won’t be carried back up to the Toon) Oh and my sportswear Laura Wilson requested us to bring – God knows what she has planned but you know it’s gonna be filth! (It turns out that it was a boxing bootcamp session. In the words of Lyndsay Airey “I have never been so ravaged by a man. I’m hot, sweaty, covered in mud and gagging for more” or words to that effect.

Anyway back to my first class experience, not only would no man, woman or child come and help a damsel in distress with her bag the ‘man’ I was sat opposite (I didn’t think I’d have to look at someone else’s ugly mug the whole journey) said to me in ‘oh no there is a pole up my arse so I need to talk like a tit ’ English “Oh I think I’ll just move over here to give us a bit more room” – you know the type., you just do that sweet cakes and get out or my way. Because I have no intention of moving. Those of you that know me well know how I refuse to sit on a train than in the seat I have booked in advance.

I’ve just been brought a complimentary tea – alright then!

I’ve just been brought a complimentary cider (I had to ask for ice though) wahh!

I just looked up from my book, looked out the window and saw a field full of sheep prancing around in the evening sun – now that’s what I’m talking about.

“Would you like another drink madam?” – attendant “Hmm, yeah why not. Another cider would go down a treat, thank you.” – me AND it is not some cheapo Strongbow cider its Rekorderlig, Sweden’s finest.

Now people can I just ask, at what age is it acceptable for someone to refer to a woman as ‘Madam’? I personally don’t mind it. It makes me feel respectable and sophisticated than old and past it. But maybe it is just a polite way of calling someone an old bag, wahh.

“Would you like something to eat madam?”

Onion tartlet, side salad, rosemary and sunblush tomato roll and a slice of ginger cake, washed down with another Rekorderlig.

“Would you like another drink?”

Well after 2 hours 28 minutes of pure naughtiness I rock up to King’s Cross half cut, in need of a wee and on a mission to find St Pancras and locate the train to St Alban’s. 
Onwards and Upwards!

I did eventually find the train btw.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

2. Have something published

Right. Now I know that this is no Harry Potter novel or an academic paper appearing in the British Journal or Archaeology but I don't care. It is in print, in the public domain, available for people to read therefore it counts as published in my eyes. Maybe instead of 'have something published' it should have been 'have my name in print' instead? 

If you'd like to hear more about my exciting scouting activities then just ask. And you never know this maybe the start of a string of publications - I am intending to write a book called 'A crash course to being a scout leader, surviving and not having a nervous breakdown' just in case you get dropped in it like I have, lol. Oh and also when I visit Lord Baden-Powell's grave in Kenya I will be recounting my experiences to the readers of Scouting magazine. . .


Sunday, 10 June 2012

7. Learn to knit

Kitted up!

I'm going to see the knitting guru on Saturday that is my Nana (legend!) to get down with the basics, casting on, casting off, turning corners (does that have a special name?) 

I'm thinking that there are going to be a lot of naked sheep around with the number of times I cock it up (sorry sheep!)

My Nana live in Yorkshire so I can't just pop round when I go wrong so if you are reading this and can knit, or knows someone that can and would like to do their good deed for the year then make yourselves known and we can organise a knitting afternoon with coffee and cake!

Maybe I'm being over ambitious but I'm hoping to get really good so I can start making these by Christmas (courtesy of Lyndsay Airey) so if you haven't got your requests in yet then let me know what kind of Meerkat you'd like.

It's me if I were a Meerkat!



9. Raise £1000 for charity

I thought I would start off with something easy(ish) to get the fundraising ball rolling and then work my way up to a more strenuous sporting activity to try and raise my target (The Great North Run?! Biking the Coast to Coast?!) 

I got a flyer through my door for the St Oswald's Hospices 5th midnight walk ( and it sounded like fun - I may have also been encouraged to join in with the promise of a cuppa and bacon sarnie at the finish line! St Oswald's provides specialist care for local adults, young people, children and their families. They do some amazing work across the region and have helped a tremendous amount of families through difficult and challenging periods in their lives. 

I know money's tight at the moment for most people and you'll have other friends and family asking for sponsorship so I'm not asking for a big donation but how about the price you'd pay for a pint or a glass of vino? - so next time you go out have one less drink so then technically you won't be out of pocket?

So hit the link and get donating. . .If I reach my target of £333.33 then I will do the walk in this! (now there is an incentive!)

Bring on 7th July 2012!

Hello everyone

You all be glad to know that I've completed the walk, firstly a massive THANK YOU to everyone that sponsored me - you are all awesome. I didn't reach my target (which I am glad of because wearing that hat would have been ridiculous!) but I did make an amazing £279!

It wasn't a race but 12th out of 1000 ain't bad! It was an awesome event to take part in, spirits were high and everyone was ready to go. I  made the mistake though of cycling to the event - didn't think through having to cycle the two miles back at 2.30am! Didn't have to dodge too many drunk people.

                                                             That's a lot of pink!

                                                                         Action shot!

Feel free to make some suggestion on how to raise the other £721 (and no I am not doing the Great north Run) but I like the idea of cycling the C2C. . . 


New entry - Wednesday 3 September 2014

Just a quick post to say that I have joined the masses and been nominated (by Laura Fenwick) and completed the ALS ice bucket challenge. This is a really good article from the BBC highlighting the positive effects of this so called 'fad' by some critics

Even if the ice bucket challenge now fades into memory it has still raised millions of pounds for charity and has raised an unmeasurable amount of awareness for motor neuron disease. My video is at this link another thing that it has highlighted is that I need to lay off the biscuits and up my exercise regime!


Sunday, 20 May 2012

21. Celebrate a birthday abroad

Well ladies and gentlemen, as the dawn of my 26th birthday looms I am busy writing a 'to pack' list for my and Laura Fenwick's excursion to eastern Europe.

I've heard amazing things about this city (a castle, sex museum and beer?! what more could a girl ask for) and have been wanting to visit for the past few years so no better time than the present. All I need to do now is survive three days in Sunderland, four Ancient Greek & Olympic poster workshops, three minibeast workshops and an evening at Scouts (a task easier said than done!)

Watch this space for a blow by blow account of 24th May 2012, it's going to be epic. . .

Well what can I say? After having a few days to reflect on my break in Prague I can hand on heart say that it is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.  I think the glorious sunshine could enhance the appearance of any city but the Czech people obviously take great pride in preserving the cities architecture and heritage. I would recommend to everyone reading this that if you haven’t been to Prague then get yourselves on low cost holidays and get booking a trip.

Walking into the Old Town Square just took my breath away. It’s an image that you’ve seen time and time again in the media but actually being there, seeing it for real just adds another dimension to it. The astronomical clock is as awesome as I thought it would be - The oldest astronomical clock still functioning in the world! The little skeleton (a representation of Death) that rings the bell on the hour every hour to allow ‘The Walk of The Apostles’

We spent an afternoon looking around the Josefov (The Jewish Quarter) including the Old Jewish Cemetery that is thought to contain over 100,000 graves which was extremely humbling. The exhibition of pictures drawn by children held within one of the Nazi concentration camps reemphasises how much the Czech people, especially the Jews suffered under the Nazi rule and occupation of the country.

The Vltava River splits the city in two and offers stunning views of the castle on the North West side and the Charles bridge, we took a stroll along before having beer and some really good Czech food (you may also be shocked to learn that I made Laura Fenwick drink my free shot because now that I’m the wrong side of 25 I’ve turned over a new leaf not to partake in the drinking of shots!)

I haven’t even mentioned the Castle, the Charles Bridge, the Cathedral, the Loreta, Petrin Hill, Salvador Dali’s exhibition, the Sex Museum, multiple beer & ice cream pit stops, the arduous climb up to the top of the lookout tower, Wenceslas Square or the most incredible buffet breakfasts (and I mean the ones that would make Laura Wilson quiver at the knees – sorry I didn’t manage to get a photo taken) I’ll fill you in over a pint if you want any further details of my escapades in Prague because there is too much to choose from to go into here.

All in all it is going to have to be something pretty special next year to beat turning 26. Thanks for reading and check out my Facebook page to see more photos of the trip.

Monday, 7 May 2012

1. Get a tattoo

I wouldn't describe myself as an impulsive person but getting a tattoo was not on my to do list this weekend. 

Getting a tattoo is one of the biggest decisions in life that you can make. Its a permanent accessory. Not many things in life are permanent but I've wanted one since I was seventeen. Its taken me eight years to think about where I wanted one (not anywhere that will get too wrinkly or stretch when official old age kicks in) and what design - something with personal meaning to me and a design will be timeless. I choose a heart for a lot of different reasons. Its a universally recognised symbol of love, which is something that we all need. According to some historians, the heart-shaped symbol has been here since the existence of man. Its a symmetrical shape, I love maths and it's sooo cute.

I can't wait to whip my wrist out when I'm an old woman and show my grandchildren. 

There was only ever going to be one person that I would get my first tattoo with - Laura Wilson - she rocked up at 10 pm on Friday, we discussed life, love and lists over cheese and Hoegaarden and then 15 hours later I find myself in the tattooists chair. We rocked up at Tattoo Station, (I think the tattoo man didn't think I would go through with it. He told us to come back in half an hour after a coffee to make sure we were serious.) I must admit there was one point where I thought I was going to throw up and wouldn't be able to go through with it but I got over it, I just thought fuck it, if Britney can do it then so can I. There was also no way I was going to ask the tattoo man for my money back.

A lot of people have asked me whether it was painful. Now, you've got to take into account that someone is repeatedly sticking a needle into your skin so its not going to be one of the most comfortable life experiences but I wouldn't say it hurt really bad. I can understand why some people say getting tattoos are addictive.  It may have eased the pain because the tattooist was fit - Mr hot tattooist guy if your reading this then get in touch and you can take me out for a pint.

Well I think the end result is pretty awesome.


Sunday, 29 April 2012

Introduction to THE LIST.

I’m a great believer in writing lists. Especially during times of change, when you may start to feel a little lost, unsure as to where the path is going to take you next.  One thing that scares me in life is one day waking up and seeing that my life has passed before me and I haven’t achieved anything. 

There are lots of things that I want to do during my life so many that I could spend all day listing them and then spend the next year being indecisive me and not achieving anything (for example  I’ve been constructing the below list for the past 8 months.)  Sooo with that in mind I’ve written 30 things that I wanna do before the BIG three zero so that I can have a more focussed direction.

  1. Get a tattoo
  2. Have something published
  3. See the aurora borealis
  4. Learn to cook a Sunday dinner
  5. Ride on horseback across a beach
  6. Watch a rugby match in New Zealand
  7. Learn to knit
  8. Visit Loch Ness and hunt for Nessie
  9. Raise £1000 for charity
  10. Plant a tree
  11. Have a massage
  12. Travel first class
  13. Order (and pay for) a bottle of champagne in a bar
  14. Have a surfing lesson
  15. Paint a canvas
  16. See the pyramids of Giza
  17. Visit Stonehenge
  18. Learn to play poker
  19. Have a pint of Guinness in Dublin
  20. Sleep under the stars
  21. Celebrate a birthday abroad
  22. See a ballet
  23. Go on a camping holiday
  24. Read ‘ a long walk to freedom’ by Nelson Mandela
  25. Jump in a pool fully clothed
  26. Have a spray tan
  27. Go and watch a premiership football match
  28. Sleep in a castle
  29. Sing in public
  30. Complete my Wood badge training 

Stay tuned for the next four years and twenty four days to see if it can be achieved (also if you can help me out with any other then just let me know. Trip to Dublin anyone?) I know I’m going to enjoy fulfilling my list (especially completing the Wood badge. . . ) and I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences.

Just finally, I would like to dedicate this to Laura Wilson.  It never ceases to amaze me how you can make me laugh, make me cry, make me drunk?! (sometimes all three at the same time) and yet managed to inspire me to make sure I don’t waste my life but do everything I want to do and more. I’m sure you’ll get more than one mention in this blog along the way so 'thank you' in advance.

This is for you. I know who I’ll be with on 24th May 2016.