Race For Life... DONE!


Cancer has affected our family in so many ways already and I shout loud and proud about wanting to support cancer charities and research but it's been a long time since I actually got off my arse and was proactive outside of what I have achieved online.   Six weeks ago I made the decision to take part in the Race For Life in Blackburn.    

I knew I would never run it because I am not fit enough but at least I had an end goal and this was a great kick up the backside to get myself on the route to better fitness.  Over the past few weeks I've been on training walks on the canal near our house and round a few local parks and then my daughter - my own Cancer survivor - asked to join the Race For Life with me.  We didn't have a personal best time but estimated that we could complete the course in about 45 minutes.

I never expected the evening to be as emotional as it was.  My husband came with us (dog in tow) to support us and the "Moment's Silence" (for those who have passed) and "Moment's Celebration" (for those who have survived) just before the Race For Life started made me well up.  And the rest, as they say, is history... 


Our Race For Life In Pictures



Race For Life, Blackburn, 2013Race For Life, Blackburn, 2013

Our "I Race For Life For..." signs
Mine says, "I RACE FOR LIFE FOR my daughter - diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at 14 months old.  SURVIVOR!  She is running today!  She is now 22 years old."
Rachel's says, "I RACE FOR LIFE FOR Grandad and Chris... RIP"


Race For Life, Blackburn, 2013Race For Life, Blackburn, 2013

Team Drama Llama waiting in the "Walkers" section at Race For Life, Blackburn.


Race For Life, Blackburn, 2013Race For Life, Blackburn, 2013

Off we go... And we hit 1K in about 10 minutes...


Race For Life, Blackburn, 2013

2K and 3K done in another 10 minutes each...


Race For Life, Blackburn, 2013Race For Life, Blackburn, 2013

4K done a lot quicker than we thought and then the final 500m sign appears...


The end is in sight so we run the last bit... 42 minutes - RACE FOR LIFE... DONE! 


Race for Life 2013Race for Life 2013

Race for Life 2013

We've added our signs to the remembrance board.


THANK YOU

I have to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has already donated on our Just Giving page.  We have SMASHED our £500 target but it's never too late to click.  You can hit the "Sponsor Me" button below and donate online (or to any other Race For Life 'pot') or you can follow the text instructions below too.  Please remember to claim Gift Aid if you pay UK tax.
 
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Text NJOH99 and your donation amount to 70070

If you're in the UK and pay tax please do not forget to hit the Gift Aid button - it doesn't cost you any more but ensures that the charity can claim the basic rate tax on every pound donated.  Read more here.  The text is free through the Vodaphone JustTextGiving service. Read more here.  You will be given the option to select Gift Aid in a follow-up text.

Reflections

This was an extremely well organised local event although more marshals could have been allocated at the furthest part of the walk as the course wasn't clearly marked (especially for us first time participants).  Some people were cutting corners and the crowd was following suit.

Even though this was an all-woman event, it was FANTASTIC to see men in the crowd joining in the warm-up and encouraging their female family and friends.  It was also very heart-warming to see family and friends lining the route and clapping as we jogged/walked past.  The atmosphere on the main field (at 4k) was unreal; there was a huge buzz in the air, with people shouting encouragement and cheering.

When I ran the last 100 meters the adrenalin kicked in and I felt like I could have run for so much longer (I probably couldn't have done) and I felt that 5K Addiction that so many of my friends talk about.  It really has spurned me on to want to train harder, faster, longer and to jog the Race For Life next year.

Myself and Rachel also talked about taking my granddaughters along when they are both six years old (in three years time) and making it an annual family event.  I hope it would give them an understanding of an important community event and  how this type of charity is so important in their lives - in all our lives.



Cancer Research UK, Race For Life

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And a couple of extra "Thank You's" to some larger organisations that have made our journey a little easier.  To Aqua Pura (one of the main sponsors of the Race For Life) for paying the entry fee for both myself and Rachel and donating £100 to our fund.  To SportsShoes.com for providing proper running shoes for me which have ensured that my feet were protected during training.  To Zalando for providing some training shoes for Rachel and sports clothes for both of us.



Soundrack To My Life - Lyrics

soundtrack to my life
Soundtrack To My Life has been on a bit of a hiatus recently but I will  be starting it up again properly next week.

Recently I've downloaded a few old albums (Faith by George Michael, Blast by Holly Johnson and Mr Bad Guy by Freddie Mercury) because I only have them on cassette and I fancied revisiting them outside of YouTube.  Here's my favourite track from each album.

Heaven's Here, Holly Johnson, Blast 



Kissing A Fool, George Michael, Faith



Your Kind Of Lover, Freddie Mercury, Mr Bad Guy 

(seriously, if you have never heard this album then go and find it now)




I don't know about you but when I hear a song on the radio that is from an favourite old album, I automatically predict the song that would  have played next on the album.  I can't seen that happening much with the next generation because the availability of digital downloads means that you don't necessarily purchase a full album any more, only individual tracks that you like - or you purchase a full album and cherry pick your favourite tracks to upload onto your mp3 player or phone.

Does this mean that the traditional format of an album doesn't have a long future?  Are we all creating our own personal playlist or compilation album in the same way we used to make mixed tapes?

When I was at school I took mixed tapes one step further and used to write full letters only using lines from different songs.  It wasn't easy - it was painstaking.  I have no idea why I did it either because no-one ever understood it or even appreciated it.  Those of us of a certain age will remember having to stop.start.stop.start the music and write lyrics out by hand (more popular songs had the lyrics printed on a poster of the band in Smash Hits or, very occasionally, lyrics were printed on the sleeve of the record or on the cassette insert).  None of this Google lark!  Even then, nothing was completely accurate and after listening to those old favourites in clear, digital format it transpires I have been singing the wrong words to some of the songs for years!  


If you had the opportunity, what would be the albums that you'd want to revisit?


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By the way, if you didn't catch the Peter Kay tour gig on Channel 4 a couple of weeks ago, you might appreciate this misheard song lyrics clip...



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soundtrack to my lifeI already have a few victims participants lined up to continue Soundtrack To My Life but I'm always on the lookout for more.  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.



More Tea?

a cup of tea
I love a good cuppa but The Perfect Brew is a very individual thing, isn't it?


A few weeks ago, Tara shared her brew making method and I agreed with her up to the addition of sugar; she was aghast at my "need for three".

Our tea tray at work is a smorgasbord of delights as we all have different tastes.  You can pick from your regular tea, green tea, Earl Grey with vanilla (lovely smell, no taste), decaffeinated tea (what's the point?) and a range of flavoured teas (usually about three or four on the go).  There is also a small jar of coffee and sachets to make cappuccino.

Twinnings TeaIt's interesting to find out what certain flavours are meant to achieve so the Twinings "Awake" (with ginseng, rooibos and ginger) and "Sleep" (with camomile, lavender and vanilla) teas caught my attention simply because I struggle to sleep a lot and need a good burst of energy in the mornings.  

Teas like these are a quick fix in the mornings; no faffing around - just pour on the boiling water, wait a couple minutes for the tea to brew and drink.  Also, I am a great believer in psychology so if I am consciously thinking about winding down whilst sipping my last brew of the day I feel it helps to achieve the ultimate goal.   

Tea India
I never used to be adventurous with tea until a couple of years ago when I was sent an array of teas to try.  Apparently you can do way more with tea than just drink it!  Who knew?  So today I've been trying out this recipe sent to me by Tea India using their black tea.  It's really easy to make and the biscuits smell amazing when cooking!  The biscuits are very much like breakfast bars but solid enough to dunk in your cuppa.


Ingredients


  • 2 Tea India black teabags (leaves only)
  • 125g butter
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 70g self raising flour
  • 120g oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1.5 tsp mixed spice


Method


  1. Preheat the over to 180 C
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and soft sugar
  3. Add the oats, flour, tea leaves and spices and mix until well combined
  4. Roll the cookie dough into a log shape approximately 5cm in diameter.  Wrap in cling film and chill for 5 minutes (the dough, but you can chill for this time too - or tidy up like I did)
  5. To bake, remove from the fridge, unwrap and slice into 12 even sized pieces. Place on two baking trays lined with baking paper
  6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are just golden brown
  7. Allow to cool on the baking tray before serving them warm
  8. These cookies will keep in an airtight container for four days


Recipe by Ravinder Bhogal and reproduced with permission

I can't drink fruit/herbal teas all the time but I am giving myself a pat on the back for choosing naturally sweet ones so that I don't have to add sugar to them (I sometimes chuck a sweetener in there though because 'real' sugar tastes too sweet - odd but true).  I have to admit that I'm so fussy about how my tea is made that I drink coffee when out and about but I never really enjoy it.  

Are you a tea or a coffee drinker?  How do you like your brew?  










Review : Sennheiser HD 205-II Headphones from Maplin

Over the past few months I have been using Google Hangouts more regularly and have been advised to use good quality headphones to help with the quality of sound and to reduce echo.  The Sennheiser HD 205-II Headphones seemed like the perfect choice to try out.

These headphones can be found in the music section of the Maplin website.

The Review

Sennheiser Headphones
Using the Sennheiser HD 250-II Headphones in a Google Hangout definitely did create a better experience for me because I could have the volume of the other participant(s) quite low which means there is less distortion of sound.  The cushioned ear-cups made for very comfortable wear too.

I discovered that the right ear-cup rotates forward and backward which creates a one-ear listening experience.  I am going to see if I can take them into the studio when recording my radio show so that I don't have to wear my headphones at an awkward angle when guests are in for interviews and studio chat.


Listening to music through the headphones was enjoyable.  The sound was crisp and clear.  I've also done a bit of research into the battle between closed ear-cups and in-ear bud.  Put simply, the closed ear-cup reduces external sound so you can hear more detail in the audio you are listening to.  With in-ear buds you are more likely to crank up the sound to experience the same effect which can be damaging to the .

headphones then and nowHowever this research does allow me to share this image that I found... a comparison of headphone size over the past 20 years or so.

Overall

I'm loving these headphones.  The Sennheiser brand is respected and recommended by many people in the music industry and this price means that they are easily affordable.  I would like both ear-cups to rotate so that you have a choice but this is a small adjustment that could be made in the manufacturing process.  Also the packaging was incredibly difficult to unwrap (hard, sealed plastic) and I had to attack it with a pair of scissors however my husband noted that they headphones were secure and protected and would not have damaged in transit.

Additional Specifications



I received the headphones for the purpose of this review.  Please view my disclosure policy for more details.


What's In My Handbag (Part 4)


My biggest achievement of this week is managing to acquire a Cybher satchel (it's ok, I know the boss *wink*).  It's one of the brand new 'Pod' bags from The Leather Satchel Co and in glorious neon!  And in true "What's In My Handbag" style I thought you'd like to see how I'm using it.


(there's almost a series of these on my blog now - I think I have a bit of a handbag problem)


In comparison to my everyday handbag (from Mia Tui) it's small so I panicked about how I was going to use it. But then I realised that it's going to be perfect for two reasons.  

For work, I use a very beautiful wheelie case (from Pink Lining) but small items rattle around the bottom of the case.  The Pod bag is ace for keeping them all together.  In here I've got my portable hard drive, a Flip camera, my work badge, a dongle (that word always makes me giggle like a child), a spare pen and a USB charger for my phone.



But it's also the perfect size to use for when I'm running walking taking part in the Race for Life on 26th June.  We will have to leave the car a fair way from the park so I'll need somewhere for my keys and my phone on the day.  If you're running, walking or spectating (in Blackburn) on that day and you are blinded by my bag, give me a shout and a wave! 

And here's the rest of the crap I carry around with me all the time in my Mia Tui bag:  Filofax, wallet, phone, tissues, touch-up make-up and mirror, deodorant, Vaseline lip therapy, a contact lens case, comb, umbrella, chewing gum, polos, spare pen drive, two sets of keys (home/car and work), spare pens, nail file.  


I wonder if I actually need to carry all that around with me (probably not) and how much it actually is worth?  I envy men who can fit everything into two pockets and women that carry the tiniest bag around with them.  

Do you carry a huge bag with you all the time or 
do you have any tips for me on trimming my handbag contents?



PS.  If you're buying from the Leather Satchel Co you can get £5 off using my affiliate code
0JG0OGSPH6JAK

Team Drama Llama is GO! Race For Life Update

Cancer Research UK Race For LifeToday the Race for Life registration confirmation email arrived.  It's all a bit real now.

But... the BEST thing EVER is that my daughter, Rachel, has asked to participate with me.  Remember - that's who I'm running for - the one who had Cancer when she was a baby

Team Drama Llama
old photo of Team Drama Llama


So we have created Team Drama Llama because that describes us both down to the ground!  Rachel is a million times fitter than me (much like I was when I was running round after two children under the age of five) and will not even need the next two weeks to get up to speed (no pun intended).

The race (and I use that term really loosely where I'm concerned) is in just two weeks but I'm managing the 5K in just under 40 minutes, walking fairly quickly, with a dog in tow that wants to wee every 20 paces (and we don't mention the time that he fell in the canal and almost dragged me in with him, OK?).  I've even jogged a bit!!  Not bad for someone who is normally tethered to a laptop or mobile device.

It's been lovely pacing out my training walks.  I've been using an app on my phone called Endomodo which maps the walks, tells me the time that it's taken me to complete my circuit and gives me some fitness stats too.  I'm lucky enough to live next to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, close enough to the park where my Race For Life will be held and have enjoyed a gander through a meadow in Preston when my husband came for a walk with me at the weekend. 

leeds-liverpool canalHaslem Park, Preston


Yellow TreeWitton Park, Blackburn

*whispers* I'm enjoying this a lot more than I thought I would.

So all you need now is a reminder of how to sponsor us


You can visit our Just Giving page and donate online

Team Drama Llama Just Giving Page

You can text NJOH99 and the amount of your donation to 70070


And don't forget to claim Gift Aid when prompted if you're eligible



THANK YOU FROM TEAM DRAMA LLAMA!

Related:  It's official, I'm running the Race For Life
Thanks to Aqua Pura for arranging our registration and a £100 donation


Over at The High Tea Cast... I'm being Gleeful!

high tea cast logo
I make no secret of the fact that I'm a total Gleek but I've been far from happy with Season 4 of Glee.  You can find me over at The High Tea Cast today talking about the rise and fall of Glee.  Let me know if you agree or disagree with my musings.

Art

Our house is a little bit quirky in the fact that it's like the TARDIS.   From the outside it looks like a northern mill town two-up-two-down but it's wider than it looks and stretches back quite a fair way.  It is a corner terrace with no gardens and was built somewhere around the turn of the century; we believe 1899.  The house hadn't been updated in about fifteen years when we bought it but it was one of those houses that we knew we wanted as we walked into the hallway.

The inside isn't anything special (apart from the fact that it has five bedrooms) however this original cornice is in the hallway.  We have only cleaned it up and painted it and found nothing else as interesting in the house when stripping back and modernising. 

cornice

My wall hangings have matured with me over the years.  I was never one for keeping anything that the children created (you can read about that on The High Tea Cast) but I do have loads of photographs in those multi-aperture frames.  I also have a few of my own cross-stitch pieces lining the stairs and family pictures on canvas but there are a couple of special pieces that mean way more to me than to the rest of the family.  They're just not as sentimental as me, I guess.



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Spray Art


spray can art, futuristic


This piece was created for us by a spray can artist in the street in Ibiza whilst we were on holiday.  I can't remember the price but we bought two - the other one is slightly smaller and has a purple hue.  It was gifted to my daughter when she moved into her first house.  

It is amazing to see a blank canvas turn into a futuristic piece of fantasy art in front of your eyes, in the street.  If you've not seen spray can art before, take a look at this clip on YouTube when you've finished reading here.

This picture hangs in our main lounge.

Local Artist


Ibiza painting


Again, from Ibiza, I found this picture at the Hippy Market in Ibiza.  The signature says "B Ceruttitlugo" but I've failed to find anything out about him/her.

Every time I look at it, it whisks me back to the island and when we retire to Ibiza this is the sort of house I want to live in.  Traditional white stone, near the sea, in the back of beyond.  

This picture hangs at the top of our stairs.

Childhood Memories


Kippford


Many of my childhood holidays were spent in the caravan, in a small fishing village called Kippford in Dumfries and Galloway.  I have happy memories of beaches, rockpools, evening walks to the pub, the little village shop and secret hill top walks.

Mum had bought two paintings of Kippford and had them hung in the hallway of her house.  When she died, my sister and I took one each.  

My picture now hangs in my bedroom.  It's the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning.

Grandchildren


Grandchildren


An artist called Natasha Gomperts offered to recreate a favourite photograph of my grandchildren using a technique called "monoprinting".  When she sent me the finished article she included a few extra prints of different sizes.  Some were dished out to family and I kept this one. 

Whilst I recognise it as a photo I took, I love the hand-drawn feel it has.  

This picture hangs in the main lounge.

Old Romantic


jar of hearts


I go on and on and on about a photo set I took a couple of years ago which I called "Jar of Hearts".  I had my favourite shot blown up (it's HUGE) and put on canvas.

This now hangs above our bed and all my husband could say was, "I hope it doesn't fall off one night and kill us in our sleep."  Which says it all really...


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I got the inspiration for this post from Michelle who blogs at The American Resident but would love for you to share what art work you have hanging in your home?  Let me know in the comments.  


EARLY PREVIEW : #fathersdayfilm

I've been sent this trailer to share with you but no other information.
Great cast line up too...
Ray Winstone, John Simm, Charles Dance and more!

INTRIGUING!!

What do you think it's about?


Apparently all will be revealed on ITV on 11th June so stay tuned.

You can help me drum up interest by hitting the tweet button below.






This is a sponsored post and will be connected to sponsored tweets
Please seen my disclosure policy for more details

Women On Banknotes

Normally I steer clear of gender specific topics, having dipped my toe into feminist issues on only a couple of occasions previously.  However, whilst watching the Cybher tweets scroll past at the weekend a topic caught my eye coming from the Social Women & Business session; women on British banknotes.

All the women that I believe to be inspirational to me are women that I know in real life and it scares me to think that there is a generation of young people that believe the 'women of our time' are identified by what is reported in the media or seen on the ever popular reality-style television programmes.

When Winston Churchill replaces social reformer Elizabeth Fry as the face of the £5 note there will be no women (other than the Queen) featuring on English banknotes.  Now, you may argue that Queen Elizabeth II appears on all the notes but, even though she has been an inspirational woman in her own right, she would have appeared on the banknotes regardless because of who she is and not what she has achieved.

The campaign to have more women on British banknotes has been launched by The Women's Room but there's loads of information on Eva's blog.  In a modern world, where we fight for equality on a daily basis, it seems only right that this equality is extended to something that we would use every day.  Subliminal reminders are sometimes more effective than the low-concentration viral campaigns appearing in our social media timelines.

There are many obvious suggestions of female banknote stars as we are all used to hearing the names of suffragettes such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davidson.  A major player such as Amy Jonshon would also be an instantly recongisable choice too.  I love Sian's suggestion of Mary Quant which immediately made me think of women such as Anita Roddick (founder of The Body Shop) and Sue Ryder (volunteer during WW2).  Also, with a local-to-me theme, Barbara Castle (politician) is a woman that achieved greatness in a predominantly man's world and Joyce Grenfell is a name from the world of entertainment that I have grown up with and who has inspired much of my observational writing.

But the woman that I would wholeheartedly suggest for our banknotes is Marie Stopes.  As I'm sure you know, Marie Stopes was a women's rights campaigner and was a founder of the first birth control clinic in Britian.  She was writing about equality in marriage at the beginning of the 20th Century and giving practical advice about sexual relationships.  She also had strong views on abortion, stating that birth control should be used to help control family size.  An amazing forward-thinker using science as the basis for her beliefs.

marie stopes
Image Credit |  Marie Stopes International 


I want you to tell me who your inspirational woman is.  Let me know in the comments or, if you have a blog, write about it and get more people thinking about it!

Also, sign the petition and then tweet your thoughts (or your blog post) using the hashtag #banknotes to @TheWomensRoomUK 

To keep this going I am going to tag a few friends - they are the ladies of The High Tea Cast, Sophie from Super Amazing Mum, Lynn from Salt and Caramel and Ruth from Lemonade Life.




Creating A Space Outside - The #roomforimprovement Challenge

I love a challenge.  It spurs me on to finish a job that was started.  MoneySupermarket have created a campaign to spark some creativity and show that you can revamp a room on a tight budget - £50 to be exact.

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We have a tiny back yard and, even after seven years here, we still miss having a proper garden even though we are not very green-fingered.  We occasionally sit out there but it's not very inspiring or pretty.  It's always in need of a 'touch-up' because we are an end terrace so we get the brunt of the weather.  It's a hard space to do anything with because it is so narrow but it gets all of the afternoon and evening sun in the summer.

#roomforimprovement, moneysupermarket,

We bought

  • Builders sand & cement (£9.08)
  • Masonry paint (15.98)
  • 2 x filled hanging baskets and brackets (£13.96)
  • Plants and compost for hanging baskets in the shed  (10.98)
(and I promise, that is not a fix.  We just bought things we thought we would need and it added up to exactly £50 after a discount on the plants that was available on the day.)

We already had

  • additional paint
  • hanging baskets
  • a wind ornament that Kev keeps telling me is a waste of money
  • furniture
  • a barbecue

Jobs that needed doing

  • tidy up
  • level the floor
  • paint the walls, windowsills, back step
  • clean the windows
  • hang the hanging baskets
  • fill the wall baskets
  • fix the outside light
  • clean the barbecue
  • clean the chairs

How we did it

I learnt how to make and lay concrete.  That is my biggest achievement of the year.  It might not be perfect but it's a huge improvement and hides the cracks in the floor that were there.  The back step had a corner missing so we used surplus cement to shape and create a new corner.

We repainted the walls, the windowsills, the ridge tiles on the top of the dividing wall (and since the photos have been taken we have also painted the back step and drainpipe).

I hung the hanging baskets on new brackets.  I mixed all the plants up and, after watching a few "how to" videos on YouTube, planted the wall baskets and we screwed them to the wall.  We had one spare so that has been hung under the shed window at the back of the yard.  I also upcycled an old watering can (you can see it on the window ledge) and some yellow buckets I found in the shed and made them into planters.  It's a shame that they aren't yet in bloom as I'm sure they will be gorgeous when they finally come out.  (See the end of the post for the flowers that I chose)

The chairs were scrubbed with hot, soapy water and I may still make some cushions for them if I can find some material with an interesting "outdoors" pattern on.

The light was fixed and now works on a sensor.  I hung my wind ornament under one of the hanging baskets.

What do you think?

#roomforimprovement, moneysupermarket


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As promised, here is a list of the plants I have used in the baskets and planters:

Upright Lobelia (Cambridge Blue)
Petunia (Red Morn)
Petunia (Rose)
Petunia (Cool Britania Mix)
Snapdragon (Pink)
Upright Geranium (Red)
The two hanging baskets are assorted Petunias

Here are some more pictures of the work in progress 
(click on the collage images to enlarge) 
and a video of the wind ornament.  It's mesmerising.  I love it!

#roomforimprovement, moneysupermarket





#roomforimprovement, moneysupermarket