Soundtrack To My Life - Wendy

soundtrack to my lifeToday on Soundtrack To My Life, the songs have been chosen by someone you may only know as a donkey.  Wendy normally goes by the name of "Very Bored in Catalunya" and uses a straw donkey as her avatar.  Even I didn't know what she looked like until earlier this year when I finally had the chance to meet her at BritMums Live.  I have featured Wendy today because she is Guest Twizmaster on the Friday Twiz tonight, giving me the chance to join in.  Let's see if she's got some tracks to get us in the weekend mood.


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Olivia Newton-John - Take Me Home Country Road

I suppose I had better start in chronological order ... way back, way, way back when I was just a nipper, well about 4 or 5. I have very vivid memories of a house we used to live in. I remember leaving wax crayons out on the floor, a bit too close to the gas fire which then melted nicely into the carpet...

I also remember my mum playing her rather small collection of 45s. By and large, my mum's music taste has, and will always be, shit. But I remember the song Take Me Home Country Roads, sung bizarrely by the Aussie Olivia Newton John. The song then came back into my life at aged 13 at school camp when we used to sing it along with a handsome geography teacher on the guitar each night with tin mugs of ovaltine before bed.


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Soft Cell - Tainted Love

When I was about 10 or 11, we all used to buy the comics and trade posters in class, most of the girls were into the up and coming Duran Duran, and the boys were all mad keen on Madness. For some unknown reason, other than a superior taste in music, my poster of choice was Soft Cell. Whilst I will also maintain that their version of Tainted Love is a timeless classic, having my 10 year old bedroom walls covered with pictures of Marc Almond was a bid weird.


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Erasure - A Little Respect

As this a supposed to be about my life, I guess I have to throw in a song that reminds me of bad times. The Circus album from Erasure was my album of choice though times of marital arguments and the odd bout of domestic violence, on top of all the anguish that an average 15 year old girl goes through trying to understand herself at time when not much is making sense. But I think I'd struggle to remember any track from it however, A Little Respect (despite it being a couple of years later) always takes me to a very dark place.


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The Stone Roses - She Bangs The Drums

My turbulent teens continued until I was 19, but there was a little bit of light relief via the music scene. At 17 I went with a group of friends to alternative club in Nottingham called Rock City (still going strong) and had my eyes, or rather ears opened to the music I would really come to love. A song came on that I'd heard on a late night Radio 1 program (I could say it was John Peel, but it might not have been...) but it somehow changed not just my musical taste from cheesy Wet Wet Wet type bands, but also somehow managed to start to drag me from the black clouds that blighted my late teens.

What is the wonderous song you ask? Well... She Bangs the Drums by The Stone Roses is the answer


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The Byrds - Mr Tambourine Man

Ok that really fucking mean Nickie wouldn't let me have six, or rather after a small twitter debate she threatened to cull one [NOTE FROM NICKIE: 'tis the rules.  Deal with it!], so sorry t'husband and Maurice and Robin Gibb - I would have put in our 'first dance' to the fabulous track Words by the equally marvellous Bee Gees. But this is not to be.

Instead, I have to look to my all time favourite song. It doesn't really have a back story other than anyone who knows me really well in real life will probably think of me when they hear it. It's the kind of song that makes me really, really wish I could play the guitar. It is delicously mellow, tranquil and melodic - perfect for summer days. If only I had lived in the sixties to get high on LSD and sway from side to side with long hair and gay abandon....


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soundtrack to my life
Wendy normally resides over on her blog - Very Bored In Catalunya - where there are no boundaries to her subject matter (check out her open letter to the Daily Mail Femail section - very funny and very true).  You can also catch up with Wendy on Twitter as @vbincatalunya and her Facebook page.

If you want to join in with Soundtrack To My Life you can complete this form and I'll be in touch when your feature is due to go live.  Click on the mix-tape to the right to read all the "Soundtrack To My Life" entries.

Review : ECCO Shoe Style

Shoes... SHOES... S.H.O.E.S... I'm getting to Imelda Marcos status with my shoes at the moment but with the recent indeterminable weather it has meant that I've gone out in flip-flops when I needed galoshes or worn boots when I could have got away with pretty sandals.  Because my feet have been encased in boots most of the time (flat, warm, safe) I have been dying to get back into heels.  I've had the opportunity to try a pair of ECCOshoes which looked pretty cool, although I wasn't too sure about the shape at first.

I'm lucky that I can dress for work in a smart/casual way because I flit between the office and off-site project work.   As the Sculptured 65 is a brand new range I've styled them up in both a smart and in a casual way to see what felt best.

I have been looking for a great pair of shoes to wear with this knee-length dress and these are perfect for it and I can totally see me teaming them with a pair of thick-knit tights in the winter with other knee-length or jumper dresses.  Right at the other end of the scale (and totally my most favourite look) was my 'skinny jeans and fitted t-shirt' look which worked as a "fits all occasions" look when teamed with these shoes.

I'm also really fussy when it comes to heel-height - and you know I'm totally honest when it comes to reviewing products - but these are the perfect height for me, even if I did think they looked a bit of a strange shape in the beginning.  I've fallen in love with them now though.

And even though this is a review, I'd love you to share how you'd style up this shoe. They are going to carry me right through to the winter and I desperately need some fashion tips.
This is a Sponsored Post.  Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Inspirational Quotes

I'm not normally into inspirational quotes, however sometimes something just stops me in my tracks, even though it might seem 'cheezy'!  I am not sure whether it's a new state of mind within my new job role or just old age.   Anyway, I saw these two posters at a meeting today (immediately Instagrammed them, natch) and thought that we could all use these quotes either for ourselves or our children.   What do you think? 


"The choices we don't make are as important as the ones we do make"

"No two flowers bloom in exactly the same way"


Soundtrack To My Life - Kylie

soundtrack to my lifePlease welcome Kylie as this week's Soundtrack To My Life contributor.  Kylie writes about being a parent of a premature baby and how that journey has affected them as a family.  You'll notice that today's choices have a bit of an Aussie theme running through some of them and that is because Kylie is originally from Tasmania.  However, this boomerang hasn't returned... we've got her for keeps! Over to Kylie and her musical excerpts.


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Hunters and Collectors - Say Goodbye

When I was growing up in Tasmania, all my friends were very much influenced by music from the UK and the States.I felt there must be a better way, an Australian way and I fell upon Hunters and Collectors. This song, Say Goodbye, is a very grown up pop song and an enduring favourite.


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Joe Jackson - Is She Really Going Out With Him?

One of my favourite things to do as a teenager was listen to music programmes, Countdown and later Rage, the all night music programme. I discovered Joe Jackson, and quickly amassed a collection. Finally, in 2003 I caught him live at The Acadamy in Manchester. His voice was failing and the audience carried him through. It was an awesome moment as the crowd provided the falsetto for "is she really going out with him?"



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Redgum - I was only 19

I've always been very politically active, writing letters, protesting, whinging, and I love political music. I often wish I could stand on a street corner belting out a song like Billy Bragg. When thinking of political music, especially in Australia, there is a lot of choice, but perhaps my natural choice is Redgum, typically Australian, angry yet cheeky too. Although long over, when this song was released, the Vietnam War was still a hot topic. Although protesting had ended Australia's involvement, the implication was that veterans were often shunned, not supported, and this song helped address that.



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Oasis - Stop Crying Your Heart Out

Ten years ago I moved to England, thinking I'd be here a year or so. I had a lot of trouble settling in at first and often felt deeply homesick. I had no access to the internet at home, so often would go to the internet cafe at Debenhams in Manchester, now sadly defunct, and nearly every time I went this song would be playing, even now when I hear it, it brings up deep feelings of homesickness, and memories of that time.



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Luka Bloom - To Make You Feel My Love

In 2009 my world changed forever when my little boy, Joseph, was born at 27 weeks gestation. I turned, as usual, to music. Many songs from that time provided me comfort, perhaps the most poignant was Wires by Athlete, that I used to listen to and hang on to every day. But perhaps the song I love the best from that time, and one that has marked many points in my life is this one.



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soundtrack to my life
You can find Kylie over on her blog - Not Even A Bag Of Sugar - which has both personal posts on but has also developed into a trustworthy advisory site where other premmie parents share their stories too.  One of her more recent posts talks about how grief is a personal emotion and people in the public eye can find themselves open to criticism if they don't conform to traditional ways of coping.  You can also find Kylie on Twitter as @kykaree.

If you want to join in with Soundtrack To My Life you can complete this form and I'll be in touch when your feature is due to go live.  Click on the mix-tape to the right to read all the "Soundtrack To My Life" entries.

#AppyBitches - The Grand Finalé

Our final #AppyBitches activity was supposed to show a 30-minute discussion between a fab group of bloggers where we talked about money saving and time saving apps for busy parents.  However, I only found the big red BROADCAST button after everyone had left, as you can see...


Myself and Paula were joined by:


and we discussed which apps work best on iPad (sometimes they are just enlarged versions of iPhone apps), how some apps are best developed rather than newer versions created and we compared apps for the iPad against apps for the (newer) android tablet. There was talk about social media apps (Twitter and Facebook featured heavily) and how shopping and banking apps are becoming more popular.  I also believe, at one point, we agreed that I was going to find out how to become ordained online and conduct a marriage ceremony via a Google Plus hangout using the Bible app.

You can see all of Paula's recommendations over on #AppyBitches - The Diary and there are a few extras over on her blog - Cad É An Scéal - but she's written a very special poem for us all to enjoy.


I'm sure you're all familiar
With all the lastest tech
Smartphones replacing handsets
iPods replace tape decks

Broadband over dial-up
No more that screechy sound
And touchscreen is the way to go
No buttons to be found

And I remember when a tablet
Was a headache cure
Yet now it is the must-have gadge
In every home, I'm sure

And what's become the latest thing
What's now our fascination?
The thing that makes our lives run smooth
The download application

An app to do your shopping
An app to find your way
An app that's like the bible and can
Even help you pray

An app that gives the weather
Telling when the rain will pass
An app to check your balance
And an app to pay your gas

An app to help save money and
An app to help you spend
Even when you've overdone it
There's an app to money lend

An app for stalking Facebook and 
An app of course for Twitter
There are apps to make you lazy and 
An app to make you fitter

An app that finds your favourite tunes
Pop, disco,  funk and jive
An app that let's you perv which also
Makes Tom Daley dive

An app for money matters when
You need your mobile banking
And although I haven't checked I'm sure
There is an app for wanking

This project has been lots of fun
The boss can be quite picky
Thanks for the iPad, British Gas
And thanks, of course, to Nickie


Massive thanks to British Gas for the inspiration for the activities and the posts. We have been helping promote their the new British Gas app which, if you are a British Gas customer, helps you to manage your account online.

This is a paid relationship between myself and British Gas.  
Paula was provided with an iPad for her participation in this campaign.
For more information about sponsored posts and campaigns please see my disclosure policy.


This One Doesn't Have A Title Because I Can't Think Of An Appropriate One

Should you ever write a blog post so personal that it feels as though it shouldn't be in the public arena?  I've been attempting to write a blog post for a few days and each time I start, I stop a few lines later.  I'm not sure if it's the nature of the post or just the fact that I'm not ready to write about it yet.

It might be easier to explain.

David Beckham's Tattoos

Is it wrong that I'm not gawping at David Beckham in his pants but drooling over his tattoos?
That's some seriously amazing work there.
What do you think?

2012


David Beckham in his pants showing off his tattoos


David Beckham in his pants showing off his tattoos

David Beckham in his pants showing off his tattoos

2013


David Beckham in his pants showing off his tattoos

David Beckham in his pants showing off his tattoos

David Beckham in his pants showing off his tattoos

2013 (second shoot)


David Beckham's Tattoos, sleeve

David Beckham's Tattoos, close up, sleeve




2014


David Beckham in his pants showing off his tattoos

David Beckham in his pants showing off his tattoos

2014 (second shoot)


David Beckham in his pants showing off his tattoos


David Beckham in his pants showing off his tattoos



David Beckham in his pants showing off his tattoos









All images from From the 2012, 2013, 2014 H&M Campaign
Found on Google and again on Google and again on Google and, just for a change, Eonline UK

"safe search" off, naturally...  *cough*



#AppyBitches : The Diary

I bet you're all wondering how the #AppyBitches / #BGSaveTime campaign is going?  Well, first of all, Paula didn't do a runner with the iPad but she stuck to her brief and researched a number of apps to see how they could help her organise her life and maybe make it a little easier.  Her trip to Ireland to catch up with her family was the perfect place to start and she's been keeping a diary for me during her holiday and on her return home.  Let's see what she's been up to - over to Paula.

Relight My Fire : The London 2012 Olympic Legacy

Olympic Cauldron, Phoenix rising from the ashes
Picture Credit : Yahoo Sport
After the glorious Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, the amazing achievements of all the athletes and the "Team GB" record-breaking medal stash we were left with a bit of a damp squid of a Closing Ceremony.  I don't doubt for one minute that organising an event of that scale takes a lot of inspiration and forward planning and was it marvellously bonkers as only the British can be but it took Eric Idle, Freddie Mercury and John Lennon to save the day and two of them are dead!

Who's been looking at MY tits?

I'm a massive fan of slogan t-shirts and many of you will already know about my favourite - "Social Networking Ruined My Life" - which is, more often than not, my Facebook profile picture.  I have got plenty of t-shirts with unusual images or slogans on them - the weirder the better.  My favourites include:
NEWSFLASH: I am special and will never be one of you
Life is not a popularity contents... Oh, wait, yes it is
Boomerangs are making a comeback
Video games ruined my life.  Good job I have another two [followed by two red hearts and one faded out heart]
I love them.  I think they are fun.  I believe they add a bit of color and humour to the day.

Until this weekend, that is.

We were in a flooring shop and I was wearing my "NEWSFLASH" t-shirt.  The shop was empty and we were stood at the till.  One of the (male) shop assistants said, "Can I ask you a question?  Why is it that you can wear a t-shirt with writing on it but when we try and read it we get accused of looking at your ti... [he searches for a better word] chest?"

I'd never thought about it in this way and now I'm over-thinking the whole situation.  It was a genuine question but asked in a lighthearted manner.  And if I'm being totally honest, I'd never noticed anyone, male or female, looking at my tits whilst wearing one of these t-shirts.  But then I don't ever feel that I am the sort of person who experiences that type of attention anyway. 

Slogans are meant to be read but am I subconsciously attention seeking?

Soundtrack To My Life - Violet Fenn

soundtrack to my lifeThis week on Soundtrack To My Life I am featuring an internet friend who I have known for about seven years yet only had the chance to meet earlier this year at the Cybher conference.  Violet Fenn (yes, that's her real name - she changed it by deed poll) and I have very different blog themes but her "deads" fascinate me.  More about that later - here are Fenn's musical choices.


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Ralph McTell - Streets Of London

When I was about six, my dad used to teach guitar in the evenings after my brother and I had gone to bed. This was one of the first songs that he taught his pupils and I remember so clearly lying in bed with the thin curtains vainly trying to keep the summer evening light out, hearing this over and over and over again.


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The Damned - Eloise

This isn't the first song I owned by The Damned - that credit goes to 'Noise Noise Noise', which I procured from a friend of my father's when I was about 11 (I had eclectic tastes from the start). But it was the first time they were really, nationally famous, and suddenly my friends 'got' what it was that I loved about them.


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Kim Wilde - Kids In America

When I was about 11, there was a weekly Sunday afternoon disco at a local nightclub. I remember it being wildly exciting as it actually had a 'grown up' smell about it and the floors were sticky with god knows what.

Oh god, how I wanted to be Kim Wilde, rather than a frumpy, chubby preteen from the Midlands.


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Pulp - Do You Remember The First Time

This song was the soundtrack of my (very) misspent twenties. Many a Friday night was spent bouncing drunkenly round the local indie club to this, wishing I lived in Sheffield and pretending that the geeky boy in the corner looked like Jarvis (he really didn't).

Fast forward to last year. By the most convoluted set of circumstances I ended up watching from sidestage as Pulp headlined the last night of Leeds Festival, whilst Jarvis's identikit son danced like a demon behind me and his dad sprawled like a sexed up spider on the stage out front. The most amazingly surreal night of my life.

(Editors Note: this link takes you to the very night Fenn is on about - she was stood on a viewing platform just to the right of the second "P")


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Nick Cave - The Ship Song

Ohhhh - be still, my beating heart... I could have picked anything of Nick's and it would be in my favourites list, but this is one of the prettiest. My love for him knows no bounds (and is most certainly not rational).

Filthy, sexy, occasionally unpleasant and always ferociously intelligent, Nick is the only person on my 'allowed' list, yet also the one person that I never want to meet because I'm too scared that I wouldn't be interesting enough for him. I prefer to live in blissful ignorance.


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soundtrack to my life
You can find Violet Fenn over on her blog - The Skull Illusion - which is hard to explain but is based around post-mortem photography.  I promise, it's not as macabre as it sounds but maybe the taxidermy is!  You can also find Fenn on Twitter as @violetfenn   

If you want to join in with Soundtrack To My Life you can complete this form and I'll be in touch when your feature is due to go live.  Click on the mix-tape to the right to read all the "Soundtrack To My Life" entries.s.

How To Make A Blog Badge (with grab code)

Geekalicious - Think Geek - How To


example
There is a great trend at the moment for sharing the blog love by displaying a button to show your affiliation.  The usual places for these are in the sidebar of your blog or on a separate Affiliate page.

This tutorial is designed to help you create your own badge and to show you how the HTML code is constructed.  This gives you a bit more understanding so that you can create buttons for almost anything - to click through to pages on your own blog, to promote all posts under a certain label or even to point your visitors in the direction of a guest post you have written.





Step 1
Find a picture that you would like for your button.  You can use any image you like but preferably a picture that you have taken yourself or a free* image from the internet.  A bright image is good but relative to the subject is better.


Step 2
Use the direct link code
Upload your image to an online storage website (or your own hosting area).  If you have one with facilities to edit your image this will make it easier for novices (like me).  I use Photobucket but there are other similar storage and editing websites out there**

Step 3
Edit your image (in Photobucket or similar) to approximatly 120 x 120 pixels - any smaller and it will not be prominent enough, any bigger and it might take over someone's sidebar and discourage them to display it.  At this point you can also add any text to help promote your cause.

Step 4
Now to code everything up.  I will use the HTML that I created for my own button and colour-code it for simplicity.  If you copy the code below into "notepad" and change the necessary links/information you will be able to save your code on your own computer.


<a href="http://www.geekalicious.co.uk/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1353.photobucket.com/albums/q676/iamtypecast/Geekalicious/GeekaliciousThinkGeek150x200_zps660ff4ce.jpg" border="0" alt="Geekalicious" /></a><br /> 


<font size="2">Grab my button<br />and link to my blog</font><br /> 


<textarea cols="20" rows="10"><a href="http://www.geekalicious.co.uk/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1353.photobucket.com/albums/q676/iamtypecast/Geekalicious/GeekaliciousThinkGeek150x200_zps660ff4ce.jpg" border="0" alt="Geekalicious" /></a></textarea>

  • The yellow section is the exact link you want your visitor to be direct to when they click on the button
  • The red section is the direct link to the uploaded image
  • The green section is to help with screen readers.  You can put any text here for screen readers to describe the image.
  • The purple section is the text that visitors will read to be encourage to place this button on their blog.
  • The blue section is the sizing of the text (2) and the white "grab" area (20 columns x 10 rows).  Adjust these to whatever you prefer.
  • The black text is basic HTML and should be kept as displayed.


For information only
The first section displays the button
The second section displays the text
The third section displays the "grab code" in a handy box

Step 5

To place this widget on your blog sidebar use the HTML/JavaScript widget facility in your blog dashboard - simply copy the text and paste it into the widget box, then save.  If you're like me and prefer things centred then add <center> at the beginning of the HTML and </center> at the end of it.


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If this post has been useful then I'd love you to say 
"thank you" by displaying my blog badge in your sidebar

Geekalicious
Grab my button
and link to my blog



NB: If you are using Wordpress.com (free, not self-hosted) then you will need to add the code into a "text widget" and place in your sidebar or footer.  You cannot use this code in the body of a post.  

* the best way to search for a free image on Google Images is to click advance search and use the drop-down menu to search for images "labelled for reuse with modification".  You can also use Flickr.  Use the search box for your theme, click "advanced search" then tick the three boxes at the bottom that allow you to search within the Creative Commons-licence content, to use the image commercially and to adapt that image.  I always find it polite to comment under the chosen image and link to the uploaded, adapted version

** if anyone has any recommendations please let me know in the comments section.


Soundtrack To My Life - Hollie

soundtrack to my lifeIt's time for another Soundtrack To My Life and today I am featuring the very lovely Hollie Smith.  Hollie is a complete technophobe when it comes to blogging but she relies on myself and a couple of others to help her out there.  Her main forté is writing - and she seems to be pretty good at it considering she has (at the time of writing) ten books published, including one that I reviewed a while back - You And Your Tween.  Here is Hollie's musical interlude.


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Frank Sinatra - How About You

I grew up with my dad's music of choice crackling on the turntable in the background. He was into the genre they call 'Easy Listening': Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee. This Sinatra song is one of his best. I loved it then and I loved it now.


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David Bowie - Fill Your Heart

 I used to play my brother's Hunky Dory LP all the time when he wasn't looking. Later I bought my own copy. Then I had it on CD. Now I've got it on my iPod. So this song has been on my life soundtrack for decades. It's not that it resonates for me, necessarily. It's just a fecking wonderful song.


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 Fat Larry's Band - Zoom

Best slow dance of my life.
(Although he was a total twat, in retrospect.)


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 Ben Folds Five - Battle Of Who Could Care Less

Nightmare having to select just one Ben Folds Five song - they've all been on a permanent loop for me since the late1990s - but as this was the one that brought them to my attention in the first place, and as it proved a very relevant soundtrack to the long, messy end of a significant relationship: this one.


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 Emotions - Best Of My Love

Because disco rules. Always has, always will.


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soundtrack to my life
Hollie's books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format and her new book - First Time Mum: Surviving And Enjoying Your Baby's First Year - is out NOW!.  You can also find Hollie on Twitter as @holliemsmith41 and she writes a self-titled blog too.   

If you want to join in with Soundtrack To My Life you can complete this form and I'll be in touch when your feature is due to go live.  Click on the mix-tape to the right to read all the "Soundtrack To My Life" entries.

Does anyone have to be "Britain's Greatest Olympian"?

In case you've been living in a hole for the past few week or don't actually spend your life on social media, you may have noticed that the London 2012 Olympic Games are currently happening.  I haven't written about the Games yet as I am a frustrated ex-athlete who's career was cut short by an accident.  I just sit here, watching in awe, trying to push my jealousy to the back of my mind.  Seriously, though, I am gobsmacked by the dedication that our athletes put into their sport and it's all because they love what they do, not because they get paid to love what they do.

Our medal total is growing and there have been amazing achievements by ALL of the athletes in the Games (let's just ignore the shoddy sportsmanship during the badminton for now), not just the ones who have won medals.  Are we forgetting that the athletes that have qualified to represent our country at the Olympics are the best we have, not the only ones we have?  It just so happens that sometimes there is another athlete who is better than them.

So when the Huffington Post UK (amongst other media outlets) try to create speculation over who is our greatest Olympian ever - Sir Steve Redgrave or Bradley Wiggins - I ask if it really matters?  Can we not just celebrate success no matter on what level it is achieved?  

Surely if the Opening Ceremony is our benchmark then our greatest Olympians are the next generation of athletes?

London 2012, Olympic Games, olympic torch, opening ceremony,