Archive for February, 2012

February 28, 2012

Favourite Oscar Frocks.

A special, additional post, just for my Twitter friend @Hennie07 who wanted to know my views on the Oscar dresses!

There must be nothing more terrifying than getting dressed for a giant global audience, and I applaud everyone who made it down the red carpet without incident. The only thing I can compare it to is my own wedding day, when I was fortunate enough to have my wedding dress individually designed and made for me. Of course, my audience (apart from all the people who happened to be at Nostell Priory on the day) were people who loved me, not those waiting to tear me apart. So, for that reason, I’m only adding photos here of dresses that I particularly loved. There will be no mention on my blog of the ones I hated, although I will go as far as questioning what on earth Angelina Jolie’s leg was doing, as it seemed to have developed a mind of its own over the course of the evening…

I had a really quick look through the dresses at lunchtime and this is very much an instinctive reaction. No time for pondering over them for ages. I am sad that I didn’t think better of Livia Firth’s dress, as I know it’s part of her Green Carpet Challenge to wear ethical and environmentally friendly clothing, but it just wasn’t a favourite for me this time around.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my favourite dresses of the Academy Awards 2012.

Jessica Chastain in Alexander McQueen

Emma Stone in Giambattista Valli

Penelope Cruz in custom Giorgio Armani

Octavia Spencer in Tadashi Shoji

Gwyneth Paltrow in Tom Ford

I think my absolute favourite is the Tom Ford dress. The chic simplicity of it, coupled with the cape, makes for a stunning change from all the sequins and flounce of many a red-carpet dress. Gwyneth makes it look effortless, although there has no doubt been a lot of backstage preparation!

Emma Stone’s Giambattista Valli is gorgeous. Yes, it’s got a giant bow on it, but the cut and colour are perfect for her, and I love the boldness of it.

Octavia Spencer’s Tadashi Shoji dress was for me, a brilliant example of dressing well for the red carpet with a curvier figure. I loved her acceptance speech too, so honest and heart-felt. What a night she must have had!

I know that Penelope Cruz’s dress is exactly what I denigrated above, as it is pretty flouncy – but hell, it’s a princess frock, isn’t it? If I got a red carpet opportunity, this is probably what I’d wear!

Sarah Burton cannot put a finger wrong, and this heavily embroidered McQueen dress on Jessica Chastain is proof of that. It’s stunning. It would have been amazing to see some more British designers showcased – Mary Katrantzou, Jonathan Saunders, Erdem. Although, they might be a little too fashion forward for red carpets perhaps?

So, there we are. Do you agree with my choices?

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February 27, 2012

Dirty Dozen: twelve questions.

I’ve been tagged twice with this meme, so I thought I’d do one lot of questions this week and one lot next week! All I have to do is answer the twelve questions they asked me. This time around I’ve been tagged by some of my favourite online friends at More Than a Mum.

I’m not going to pass on this meme, because I’m fairly sure everyone I know has done it by now (which I think is why I ended up getting it twice) but if anyone out there wants me to set twelve questions for them to answer, all you have to do is shout!

Here we go:

1)    What song can’t you listen to without crying? ‘Tiny Dancer’ by Elton John. I have no idea why. Literally, no idea… I also cry quite often at ‘Everybody Hurts’ by REM. But then I usually play it when I’m in the mood for a giant cry and it always makes me feel better afterwards.

2)    Which book changed your life – or at least made you think a lot? The book ‘What Do I Do When I Want To Do Everything?’ by Barbara Sher changed my life completely. It made me come to terms with, accept and actually thrive on the personality traits I have that make me incapable of being a specialist!

3)    Which of your personality traits do you most hope your children will inherit? Curiosity about the world and an endless desire to learn.

4)    Which of your personality traits do you most hope your children will NOT inherit? My inability to stick to a budget…

5)    Why do you blog? It’s really just a place for me to put all of my life’s plans, experiences and thoughts. Although I am a mother, so by default it’s a mummy blog, it is not a ‘Mummy Blog’ by design. I wanted a place for all of me, not just the part of me that is a mum. By accident, I’ve realised how much I love to write, and now I miss the process if I don’t blog for a few days in a row.

6)    What do you wish you’d known before becoming a parent? How scary, exhausting and expensive it would be! Most of all, I wish that I’d realised the compromises I would have to make. The minute you become a parent, you cease to be the most important person in your own life, and for me, that has taken some getting used to. These days I work really hard to balance being ‘mummy’ with being ‘me’. I think it’s vital to retain a sense of yourself as an individual and to make time for the things you love to do too – a happy parent makes for happy kids. I also wish I’d gone to Japan and New England before I’d had the kids. Although I did a fair bit of travel beforehand, those two places are on the top of my Bucket List, and it’ll be a while before I get to either of them. It might have been nice too if someone had warned me about the horrors of ‘In The Night Garden’ on repeat…

7)    What is your top ‘me-time’ tip? One of my very favourite things to do is wander round a bookshop or library, without a particular book in mind and just stumbling across something great to read. They’re great places for the mind and soul, but also, they’re pretty quiet! Finding time to read is the greatest luxury and it does make me sad when I hear that people feel as though they don’t have the time. I know that it can be easier at the end of a hard day to watch television, but switching it off and opening a book can transport you out of your daily life in a way that nothing else can.

8)    What can’t you live without? See above – books and magazines form the backbone of my personality. From as early as I can remember, I have always, always carried a book or magazine with me, whenever I have left the house. I even take one with me to the cinema. You just never know… I would also find it very difficult to live without tea. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I adore tea. My iPhone would be the piece of tech I’d rather not be without these days either. On a more serious note, I couldn’t live without my incredible family and network of friends.

9)    Which of all your blog posts are you most proud of and why? I like all of them, but there isn’t one that particularly stands out – you tell me which is the best! I think I’m proudest of the ‘Who are Margot and Barbara?’ page most of all. It underpins what the whole blog is about, and that authenticity is the thing I strive for the most with the blog. Which is why my subject matter can range from fashion to Antarctic explorers…

10) Have you ever met a famous person? Who and where? I’ve met quite a few people who I would consider to be famous, but only really in the equine industry. I once worked for a website company at Bramham International Three Day Event, and during that day I met and worked with Mark Todd, Ginny Elliott and Capt. Mark Phillips (father of the now-more-famous-Zara!) They were all amazing, and proved to me that sportspeople at the very top of their game can be genuinely great ambassadors and generous with their time. Although it didn’t help that when I was with Capt Phillips, my mum was there and she spent quite a lot of time doing terribly loud stage whispering about how old he was looking…

11) What is the best thing about parenthood? Cuddles; the giant guffaws of laughter when my kids are being funny; the pride when I see them doing something new for the first time, or being kind to each other or someone else; the way they smell; the singing and dancing; the fact they think I’m awesome; the excuses to buy and then eat tonnes of Haribo. Revisiting my own memories of childhood experiences and passing them on – especially the books! Teaching them to bake cakes and eating the cake mixture. Finding Nanny Plum from ‘Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom’ – she rocks. Overall, sharing the world with them and seeing it anew through their eyes. It all makes up for my answers to number 6! Being a parent is the hardest and yet the best thing ever.

So, that’s my twelve for this week! I’ve been tagged with this again, so I will do another twelve questions next week. I rather like feeling as though I’m being interviewed…

February 24, 2012

In Bed is the New Front Row: London Fashion Week.

As I write this, London Fashion Week is just coming to a close.

Fashion is a subject that I return to time and time again. I love it. I used to work in fashion retail, in between veterinary nursing and my degree at agricultural college. An odd mix, I grant you, and one that probably ensures that I will never be on the Front Row at any catwalk show in the near future. That, and the fact that I’m a thirty-five year old woman with two small kids and a 9-5 job doing something completely different. Oh, and despite a wish list as long as my arm,  no money to spend.

But as luck would have it, I no longer have to sit on the Front Row to see some of the catwalk shows unfolding before my eyes, at the very same time as the people who were actually invited! The wonders of technology, together with some kind of democratisation of fashion and (whisper it) a desire to be profitable in uncertain economic times have led to live-streaming. Lovely live-streaming, which means that I can sit in bed with a cup of tea, and watch the fashion as it happens. In bed is the new Front Row, as the fabulous @Bettymagazine tweeted to me the other day ( I know, I’m name dropping, I might get a ticket one of these days…)

I’ve spoken before about the speed of the fashion industry being a bit of a pain – and at the moment, I’m still not yet wearing the spring and summer pastel frocks I was promised and I’m already thinking about the clothing I might be wearing in the bloody winter. This is because, despite my protestations that everything needs to just slow down a bit, I am still drawn like a moth to a flame, towards the whole thing.

So, what have I managed to see?

Mulberry: Emma Hill’s show, influenced, as far as I could tell, by ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ (although that might just an indicator of how far my life is removed from what is fashionable) was beautiful. Too much fur for my liking – I would never wear it – but the colours and textures of the tweed and lace pieces were stunning, and I am finding myself thinking even more about how the hell I could wear orange, a colour I love, but which does not love me. Most of the Twitter chat around this show was centred around the new Mulberry bag – the Del Rey – which, named after Lana, is a beautifully classic number which will be available in the Autumn. Seriously, Lana Del Rey has been around for about half an hour and she’s got a Vogue cover and a Mulberry bag? That’s some work…

McQ: Livestreamed via their Facebook page, this was a bit less successful, purely because of the way the formatting had been designed. Having said that, it was still easy enough to see that I want everything in this collection. Suiting reminiscent of the war years in olive green and burgundy, incredible petticoated dresses with floral applique and the most beautiful finale by the bride, Kristen McMenamy, it was shiver-down-the-spine wonderful and felt like Sarah Burton had returned to the McQueen archive, and brought the best of it, with her own twists, to the catwalk again.

Mary Katrantzou: One of my very favourite designers ( I wrote about her prints here) and  the toast of the fashion industry with collaborations with both Top Shop and one of my perennial favourites, Longchamp. Now, I’ll say here, that this live streaming was a bit of a nightmare to watch, clashing as it did with the school run (honestly, what were they thinking?)  Still, I kind of managed it. And, WOW, was it worth it. For the first time, the Parisian couture embroiderers, Lesage, have worked with a London designer and the addition of this incredible embroidery to the  intricate and unique digital prints brought a whole new dimension to her work. An amazing collection and one that cements her position at the very top of the fashion industry.

So, in bed is the new Front Row. It’s been a pleasure to see some of the the Autumn Winter 2012 collections on the catwalk. Now all I need to do is work out how I’m going to afford some of them…

February 22, 2012

Rhubarb, rhubarb.

I couldn’t resist a giant bunch of Wakefield forced rhubarb at the market. Such a cheery bright pink, it’s too beautiful to leave behind. Of course, then I had no idea what I was going to do with such a huge amount once I’d got it all home. A dessert of some kind is usually in order, and rhubarb crumble with custard is an obvious winner.

However, a call was issued to the Twitter hive mind  and my reply (from @gazpachodragon, someone who I only met for the first time on Monday and who I think is amazing) came back. Make rhubarb Bellinis! As the Bellini is traditionally made with prosecco, one of my favourite drinks, it felt a bit like fate.

The recipe originally comes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who has championed the cause of rhubarb for a long while. In fact, I remember when he guest edited an early edition of of Olive magazine. Although the title remained the same, on each page of the magazine, where it usually said Olive, instead it said Rhubarb…

I’m digressing, as usual.

The rhubarb is simmered in orange juice with some unrefined caster sugar, until it’s soft but not hugely pulpy. In the original recipe, Hugh uses 1kg (trimmed and cut into 4cmi-ish lengths) of rhubarb with the juice of a large orange and 125g golden caster sugar. I think I used roughly that – although to be honest, I didn’t measure it thoroughly! Simmer it until it softens, then take off the liquid. Add one part of this to three parts of prosecco or champagne and you’re all done. If you want to make it pretty, you can add an egg whitened sugar rim to your cocktail glass.

Of course, now is peak champagne rhubarb season. Wakefield in West Yorkshire is the capital of the rhubarb growing industry and will hold the annual Rhubarb Festival of Food and Drink next weekend, Friday to Sunday. I’ve not managed a visit to the forcing sheds yet, but apparently, you can hear the rhubarb creaking as it grows in the dark…

February 20, 2012

A Date in Whitby.

On Friday, we took the day off work and went to Whitby for the day, just the two of us. Although being parents is clearly the most important thing we’ll ever do, we like to have a day off without them every so often. A break from routine and a chance to catch up on our relationship as a couple. After all, one day the kids will be off (at University, if I get my own way!) and it’ll be just us again. So, it’s good to make sure we have something to talk about apart from the kids.

Whitby, in North Yorkshire, is one of our favourite places to be at any time of year and with any company. Famous for many reasons, including being part of Bram Stoker’s inspiration for ‘Dracula’, it’s a small town situated on the east coast, with dramatic headlands on either side that can be walked along as part of the Cleveland Way National Trail.

Although it was a bracingly cold day, it was nice and clear, so we walked along the beach almost to Sandsend, a little enclave further north before turning back for tea in The Mad Hatter tea-room at La Rosa hotel  – a unique, eclectic and eccentric hotel with a lovely quiet eco-feel about it. There is no environmental preaching here, but the use of vintage, second hand and environmentally friendly is very evident. A wonderful location and one I hope to stay in soon. Lewis Carroll, author of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ used to stay at the building, as evidenced by their blue plaque. Amongst the collection of ephemera and terrifying Punch and Judy puppets in the display cabinets are letters written to him at that address.

Then to Endeavour Books on Grape Lane, where the second-hand volumes are lined from floor to ceiling (on the chance of adding to one of my book collections) followed by fish and chips in the famous Magpie Cafe.

So, a quiet but lovely day, a chance to chat and re-charge our batteries next to the sea and remember who we are are as a couple, just us, before re-entering normal life as ‘Mum and Dad’…

February 18, 2012

Lunch at Create: A menu dilemma

This week, I managed to tick off a rather lovely one of my 35:35 Challenges and finally eat at Create, a restaurant in the centre of Leeds. Not just a restaurant but a social enterprise too, offering jobs and training to people who have suffered from long term unemployment. Of course the social enterprise part would be all very worthy but not enough, if not backed up by great food. Thankfully, as reviewed by everyone from Twitter friends to Jay Rayner, the food is excellent. Truly excellent. At the moment, there is a lunchtime offer. Two people, two courses, £18.50. Incredible value for such lovely food. Which is why the place was  full on Wednesday lunchtime!

I’m clearly not a restaurant critic or food writer. I have some very odd favourite foods. I do like food a lot though (which is why I’ll never be waif-like) and therefore feel that I have enough of an opinion to comment. I had a spelt pumpkin risotto to start and then (as recommended by the friendly waitress)  smoked haddock topped with an amazing fried poached egg with leeks and potatoes as main. The risotto was a great size for a starter, the texture was lovely and the goats cheese mixed in with the pumpkin gave it a lovely little bit of sharpness amongst the creaminess of the spelt. My haddock was perfect. Smoked without that horrible yellow colour, thank goodness, and topped with a perfectly poached and still-soft egg, it was a plate of pure pleasure to eat. Just thinking about it again is making me hungry!

My lunchtime companion had a pumpkin bake as a main course followed by a shiny pale pink rhubarb pavlova dessert. She said that everything was lovely too.

The main problem I had was in choosing what to eat. I always approach every food-choosing opportunity as if it were my last meal ever. One day, in the hopefully VERY distant future, it will be. I really do need to get over it every day though. The other thing I struggle with is the dilemma of whether to choose something I know I love, and will therefore enjoy, or something that I’ve never had before. This obviously is a bit risky, as it could turn out to be horrible. However, like I say to my kids – you’ll never know if you like it if you don’t try it!

So – new rules for me:

1 – Sometimes a sandwich is just a sandwich. Something to keep me from hunger. I am obviously grateful for this, but I don’t need to take all day deciding between egg or cheese. Seriously.

2 – When eating out in a restaurant, if I’m only having one course,  I will pick something I know I like. If I’m having more than one course, I’m going to make sure I include something new. Life is supposed to be a series of new experiences, after all!

We had such a great lunch that we’re already planning our next visit to Create, during which I will follow my new rule – something I know I like and something new. Who knows, if we keep going back, I might get to work my way through the whole menu anyway…

February 17, 2012

My first Glossy Box

After a bit of deliberating, I signed up to GLOSSYBOX this month, and, weeks after the rest of the subscribers got their January box, I got mine.

For those of you who haven’t heard, it’s a monthly subscription service (costing £10 a month, plus postage)  of beauty products. Each month they send a box of five sample sized products for you to try and review. If you like them, you can often buy directly from them at discounted rates. Every month you also review the products you’ve been sent, earning points for a free box. You might have read the post I wrote when Minibreak Mummy sent me something from a box she’d received, and the quality of that made me think that I’d give it a go.

The packaging is lovely. Although I like to think of myself as environmentally aware, I do get a bit excited by beautiful packaging. It’s a weakness, I know. I  will make sure I re-use the lovely (and sturdy) pink box it came in, and I’ve already eaten the sweetie, so that’s taken care of!

Here is the box:

My five products were:

Clarins Extra Firming Day and Night Creams. I’ve been a fan of Clarins for a long time, mostly through my Mum who has used it for as long as I can remember. . In fact, the Extra Firming range, if I remember rightly, is one that she uses. Now, I’m not going to talk about being an older woman again and have been very happy with both of these samples. Lightly fragranced, rich and easily absorbed, they’re clearly a high quality product and really what I would have expected from the brand.

Eyeko Eye liner in Emerald Green. This was a full sized product and I’ve used (and been complimented on it) quite a lot. I love the colour, which I wouldn’t have chosen on my own. It’s soft and gentle on the eye, easy to smudge to create a softer line and long lasting. I recommend this one lots.

Murad Primer. I’ve known of this brand for a while, but not had the chance to try any, so I was happy to be given this chance. It’s a tinted primer, which I wasn’t expecting, as most of the other primers I’ve used have been colour free. It’s light and easy to apply and although I’ve only used it a couple of times, I do think that it helps to even out my skin tone.

F.A.B. Body Moisturiser. Designed for sensitive skin, this moisturiser is scent, paraben and colour free. Although initially it felt quite greasy to the touch, it sank in really well and left a long-lasting softness to my skin. I really liked it, and now could do with industrial quantities of it to help me get my legs out of my Winter hibernation mode and ready for tights-free skirt wearing in the Spring!

In all, I’m really pleased, and will happily use up all the products. Nothing for Lucy Brown’s Beauty Box Swaps this time around! (If you are interested in Beauty Box Swaps, also take a look at their very busy Facebook page here, for loads of enthusiastic swappers)

A success, then. I’m already looking forward to next month!

February 15, 2012

MP3 Shuffle.

The lovely Ruth and Loretta from @More_Than_A tagged me with this meme a while ago and it’s taken me until today to get it finished! I am very easily distracted…

All I have to do is this:

  • Stick my rather vintage purple IPod onto shuffle.
  • Take note of the first five tunes that appear
  • Tag some more lovely bloggers to do the same

Easy! Except, I’m going to cheat. A little. This is because my Ipod is the only one we have and so there are an extraordinary amount of things on there that have nothing at all to do with me! If I just chose the next five things that came up, it would go something like:

  • “Under the Sea’ Disney’s Little Mermaid. This is clearly not mine, even though I know all the words and have been found, on occasion, dancing to it.
  • All of the back catalogue from the Beastie Boys, Radiohead and Seth Lakeman. All belong to my husband (even though I like all three) and have been the subject of some argument about how much space they take up. In truth, I’ve taken quite a lot off. Let’s keep that between ourselves, shall we?
  • Something along the lines of BBC Talk Italian: Unit Three ‘Ordering Food and Drink’ All of the Italian language stuff is mine, but it’s not exactly music, so I’m leaving it out.

So, now I’ve broken the rules, let’s get started!

  • La Valse d’Amélie. Yann Tiersen. From the soundtrack to the film Le Fabuleux Destin d’ Amélie Poulain (usually known as Amélie). This is my favourite film of all time. When I was quite nervous about driving, I used to play this in the car. It’s beautiful, soothing and a reminder of lovely things. I go to Paris every year, if I can afford it, and spend quite a lot of time imagining I am in this film. I was talking about  favourite films with some people the other day. Upon hearing mine, a lovely colleague of mine said (un-prompted, I hasten to add!) that she thought I could be in Amélie. My life is complete…
  • Winter Winds Mumford and Sons. from the album Sigh No More. This was the first Mumford and Sons song I heard and will always remind me of the winter of 2010, when we used to listen to it, singing along after one too many mulled wines. They headlined at Summer Sundae too. It was the first festival I’d been to for ages – in fact, since having the kids – and it was so good! I highly recommend Summer Sundae, even if you do have kids, as there is a brilliant family section and separate camping area. Plus, and this is a good thing for us older women, there is an inside stage with proper toilets!
  • Dancing with Myself: Billy Idol. I knew this would start to get embarrassing at some point. Here it is. I love it. A song that I will sing to and have a little dance to. Whereever I am. Even on the bus. That period in time will always be one of lovely nostalgia for me – I seem to have instant recall on the lyrics to all eighties/early nineties music, which irritates the hell out of my husband.
  • L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. Noah and the Whale. From the album Last Night on Earth. I love this song, and it reminds me of a lovely friend of mine who once wrote the some of the lyrics including ‘You’ve got heart and you’re going your own way‘  in an email – and said that it reminded her of me. A great one to sing along to, even if the husband and I do debate what the actual meaning is. He’s convinced it’s about suicide, whereas I refuse to be anything but optimistic about it!
  • Shake it Out: Florence and the Machine, from the album Ceremonials. I bet most folk have got a bit of Florence on their Ipod. There’s not a lot that hasn’t already been said. I particularly love that she’s a Chanel muse, even though Karl had her appearing, Botticelli’s Venus- like, out of a giant clam shell this season!

So, that’s it. Not as embarrassing as I’d thought. Having a quick scroll through, I see there could have been Pat Benetar, Led Zeppelin, Bombay Bicycle Club, Angela Lansbury (yes, she of Murder She Wrote) Simple Minds (Don’t You Forget About Me, from the soundtrack to The Breakfast Club) Britney, Bat for Lashes, Foo Fighters (love Dave Grohl) Neko Case, Oh No Ono, The Pixies and so on.

So, it’s a pretty eclectic mix. A bit like me, then, I suppose.

Before I go, there is a song from Laura Hocking  I want you to listen to that the brilliant @janeydodge sent my way recently. I utterly love it.  It’s been in my head for days and is fast becoming a new theme tune! It’s especially great for those of us who need a bit of motivating to get off the sofa, plus it’s very funny.

And now I’m going to tag @Minibreakmummy who wrote a great post recently about soundtrack tunes, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with.

February 13, 2012

A Great White Silence

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and now my carefully planned schedule has gone completely out of the window, so you’ll have to bear with me until I get myself sorted out again!

Anyway, last week, I went to my first event at the very friendly and welcoming Wakefield Film Society. They screen a variety of (mostly independent) films at the West Yorkshire Police Training Academy, which is where I found myself on Tuesday night. It’s very like a normal college campus except there are car-parking spaces reserved for people with job titles like ‘Head of Fingerprinting’ which made me chuckle.

The film we went to see was Herbert Ponting’s film of the 1912 expedition of Captain Robert Falcon Scott to reach the South Pole; ‘A Great White Silence’. Those of you who have been here before will recall that my family have something of an obsession with Scott, and up until this point I have resisted being drawn into discussions about it.

(I should perhaps point out that this might contain some spoilers, depending on what you already know about the story of Scott!)

That is, up until Tuesday. The film, silent, but with a music score somewhere between eerie and impossible to listen to, has haunted me for days. It begins in New Zealand, as the ship ‘Terra Nova’, sets off with Scott and his men. There is plenty of footage of  dancing and surprising silliness from the crew. The horses, dogs, and supplies are all lifted onto the ship, and we see them leave, waved off by hordes of people along the shoreline.

The footage continues with more filming of the crew, the sea, and as it gets closer to Antarctica, the prow of the ship breaking up the ice on the surface of the water. Upon arrival, filming is split into two main parts. The first is slightly dull footage of penguins and seals, with very anthropomorphised text accompanying it. Lots of ‘Mr Penguin and his wife’ type stuff. I had to keep reminding myself that this was the first ever footage of these animals. We are so fortunate with nature documentaries using cutting edge media to supply us with astonishing images, it is easy to forget both that Ponting was not only the first to film there, but that he paved the way for what is happening in documentary film-making today.

The other part of the footage is far more interesting. This is of the men. We see them going about their duties, collecting scientific samples, training and exercising the ponies and dogs. It has such an air of poignancy and intimacy about it, especially footage inside a tent, of some of the team changing their socks, preparing their pemmican and getting into fur sleeping bags. Later on we see the depot laying parties set off, together with what would become the polar party of Scott, Oates, Bowers, Evans and Wilson. The final footage is of their departure and the musical score is ‘Abide with Me’ as the accompanying text tells their tragic tale.

The story of Scott is well-known. As they reached the Pole, they found that the rival explorer Amundsen had got there first. Although Scott’s expedition was never about a race to the South Pole, it became one in the eyes of the media, and we cannot imagine how they felt upon their arrival to see the abandoned tent of the other party.

It was on the return journey that they all met their end. Evans had an accident and died of a head injury and Oates, succumbing to the effects of frostbite and feeling a burden on the party, walked out of the tent off into the ice, never to be seen again. Bowers, Wilson and Scott himself died in their tent of starvation, exhaustion and cold a mere 11 miles from the depot of stores that would have saved them, after walking (and man-hauling their equipment) for over 800 miles in the coldest place on Earth…

2012 marks the Centenary of this expedition. Over the past hundred years, Scott has been the subject of much criticism and ridicule for his leadership and decision making. Now, it is realised that he was a true hero. The contribution made by this team to scientific exploration is huge, not to mention that of Ponting, whose eleven months spent as part of the team led to the incredible images of this film and over a thousand ground-breaking still photographs taken using glass plates.

Like I said, I have avoided being drawn into the hero-worship of Scott. No longer.


February 8, 2012

Theme Tune.

I went to the doctors today and during the course of our discussion she referred to me as ‘an older woman’. This young and impossibly glamorous GP made me feel dreadful, and although I laughed it off at the time, on my walk home, I was close to tears. I know I’m coming across as a bit of a drama queen but it was genuinely a shock. I feel as though I’m only just getting going with my life and here I was being written off as ‘older’.

So, I stuck my Ipod on, turned on shuffle, and miracle of miracles, my theme tune came on.

That’s right. I have a theme tune. It’s not my favourite song ever made – I’m not sure that I have a favourite. It is, however, the song that I choose when I want to pull myself together and get myself off the sofa. It’s the one that will be on the soundtrack of  the film of my life story, in which I will be played by Drew Barrymore. Or Kate Winslet. I need to decide before filming begins… I recommend a theme tune. It never fails to get me in a better frame of mind, more upbeat and positive. Helpful when people call me ‘older’, when I need to get off the sofa and into the gym, when I want to get working on one of my challenges.

The one  thing that her comment did do is to remind me of the swiftness of time. I am thirty-five. I will be thirty-six in June and I’m still only half way through my 35:35 Challenge. At this point I am fairly sure that I won’t make it to 35 Challenges by June. I have to say that I’m not terribly bothered by this. The point of the challenge was to get me out of a rut. It’s already done this.

Yesterday I signed up to Joel Runyon’s Impossible League. I love that it sounds like a group of super heroes. I’ve already changed my Bucket List to ‘A List of Impossible Things’ – which, unlike a static Bucket List, is a dynamic, ever-changing list of things, some of which are linked together. A good example of this might be a running goal, which starts at 5K and then ultimately might result in a marathon. As there is no limit on the variety of things that can be added to this list, it’s great for a scanner. I might even add my List of Impossible Things here, so that you can all see my progress and make sure I keep on track. I’m excited about joining this community, and challenging myself to do the Impossible. I will be the super hero in my own life story. Even if I’m ‘older’!

And my theme tune? “The Time is Now’ by Moloko…