Sylvie Guillem: Life in Progress

For those of you not familiar with dance and ballet, Sylvie Guillem is extraordinary.  She has had a long career for more than 30 years and has taken the brave decision to retire at the age of 50.   Her career has been scrutinised within the world of dance and nobody expected her career to last… she had shape, she wasn’t conventional, she used her body in a way that other dancers didn’t, she interpreted the music and created dance, she was probably a nightmare for those trying to recreate a piece… and reviewers and other dancers and choreographers didn’t hold back in criticizing her.  But probably in spite of the comments, she’s bought dance to a different place.  Introduced a new dimension and allowed others to travel that road with her.  She challenged and because of this dance has changed, challenged and stereotypes shattered.

I think the strength of love and respect for Sylvie Guillem was clearly demonstrated in that extra dates have had to be added to her final tour because the tickets sell out instantly.  I missed out on seeing her at Sadlers Wells and as soon as I heard about the extra performance at the Colliseum in London, I messaged an ex-colleague to tell him and ask if he’d like to join me… if I can get tickets. His instant reply “I’m on holiday then.  B***.  But I’ve just come back from Sadlers Wells. Amazing! But we’re so sad. I LOVE her. But – wow – she is awesome. Take a hanky”

Sylvie-GuillemA few pictures borrowed from the internet of the performance and which I hope capture the emotion of the stories being delivered through dance.Sylvie-Guillem-and-Russel-012Her final piece was truly emotional.  It was danced, as she always dances, from the heart.  But the quiet dance resonated around the auditorium as the piece ended with her walking through a doorway and looking back at us, one last time.  There were people visibly moved by the performance and I, for one, had a lump in my throat and perhaps something in my eye.

Sylvie Door

I have no doubt at all that Sylvie will be missed within the world of dance.  However I am absolutely sure that her resolute strength and determination will have opened doors for dancers in years to come.

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 19.08.42Good luck Sylvie with the rest of your ‘Life in Progress’.

Guardian review
Independent review
DanceTabs review

PROM 11: Fiddler on the Roof (My Proms No 1)

Not an empty seat in the Albert Hall this evening for Prom 11 – Fiddler on the Roof the lead performed by Bryn Terfel.

I’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof on stage several times and was intrigued to see how they would perform it on the stage as a Prom.  Remember there’s no real set, no backdrop, no scene changes and a huge audience surrounding the stage.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Bryn, and the supporting cast, together with an incredibly fine orchestra, took the entire audience with them on a journey through the story of Fiddler on the Roof.  The performance had been stripped back to the original script, music and song – perhaps a harsher and more honest version.

Fiddler on the Roof

A long performance but worthy of much applause.  Even the youngsters a few rows in front of me, up way past their bedtimes, seemed glued to the stage and were also caught up in the story.


You can listen to the performance on the BBC website for a further 30 days here

Riding for the Disabled – National Championships

Today was Day 2 of the 2015 National Championships for the Riding for the Disabled in Hartpury, Gloucestershire.

RDA Nationals

A truly inspirational event when you see the joy and enthusiasm with which everyone participates.  The incredible connection between rider and horse to be so professional and accomplished in their abilities.  Truly their various disabilities don’t hold these riders back and it is an honour to see the culmination of many many hours of practice and dedication for these riders in the National Championships.  Well done everyone.

My very talented niece once again made it through to the finals of the dressage and it was my absolute pleasure to be there today to support her.

Fortunately the weather this year was glorious (unlike last year) and Tori was one of the first in her group to compete.  I’m no expert but I could see a huge difference in her performance from last year and the previous year.  Here’s a little video.

And some pictures.

Tori riding

Tori’s test card and her well deserved rosettes.  Fourth place in her group (green rosette)Tori RosettesHighest Place Rider for the Pony Club in her GroupPony Club Highest PlaceAnd lots of love for Jinks afterwards.

Jinks loveWell done Jinks and Tori (my super talented oldest niece).  xxx

PS  If only there was an equestrian category for Intellectually Disabled in the Paralympics… why isn’t there?

PPS Huge thanks to Tori’s cousin, Danielle x

La Boheme at the Royal Opera House

I know I say this a lot… but WOW!

Im ready for La Boheme

Tonight I was treated to a night at the Royal Opera House to see La Boheme.  No ordinary production either.  Conducted by none other than Pacido Domingo who has performed this opera many many times but whom you could clearly see was proud to be conducting a flawless performance from both orchestra and singers alike.  An incredibly gifted man leading gifted actors.

But there’s more.  Just before curtain up, we were told that this was to be the final John Copley’s production and therefore there would be a couple of ‘added extras’ (as if we needed more!).  The whole cast would do an extra curtain call between Acts 2 and 3.   (Usually the child actors and many extras for Act 2 are long gone by the time of the curtain call.)

AND as this would be the final time the set was to be used (after 40 years), the set change between Acts 1 and 2 would be done with the curtain open.  Wow and Wow again.  I managed to video most of it and I think you’ll agree it’s an incredible skill to create such intricate sets and then to orchestrate the changeover swiftly, precisely and, it seems, effortlessly.  Click here for video.

The whole performance was spellbinding, glorious, magnificent and emotive.   Truly never fails to disappoint.

And the final curtain….

IMG_9622An amazing evening and such a gift for me to have been there.

Guardian Review
Telegraph Review

Don’t you just love this bar… everyone SHOULD be dressed in evening gowns and black tie to complete the picture!



6 monthly scan results

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Royal Marsden for my Summer 6 month scans – chest x-ray, ultrasound and boob squish.  Stupidly (and I should know better) I neglected to take some ibuprofen before my boob squish.  I was once again in extreme pain and so super envious of ladies who don’t have pain.  (How do some ladies go jogging without a secure bra?)  I suspected the mammographer had spotted something as she insisted on doing a couple of extra scans to ‘get in the sides’.

Next up was my ultrasound.  Whilst I was changing into my ‘everso sexy’ dressing gown, I heard the radiographer being called in to see my mammogram results.  Long story short she said she could see a small dot but suspected it is a cyst.

Today was my appointment with my consultant.  He has vast experience with phyllodes tumours as well as a wonderful disposition and honest, caring approach to me, the patient.  I’m so very grateful for such a fabulous consultant.

We talked about ‘the dot’.  We’re not sure it’s a cyst.  I’ve had no other cysts before now.  BUT rather than poke around and upset my breast tissue, we decided to leave it ‘just so’.  My consultant has asked that in six months we have a full set of scans and tests again (usually I have a mammogram once a year in the Summer).  He did, however say that if I had any concerns or worries at all, I was to contact him directly and an appointment would be found.  I’m happy with this.  I appreciate his experience and the open discussion.  I feel assured I’m in the best hands and care.

He also made sure we spoke about my auto-immune disease.  The drugs I had taken and the side affects I’m still left with (as well as the residual disease).

We spoke about my friend who’s currently undergoing surgeries following the discovery of new phyllodes tumours in her heart, liver and lung.  He wants me to forward details of the hospital and surgeon so he can learn more about the case and educate himself and his team.

We also spoke about a clinical trial that I’m trying to get set up in the UK for Phyllodes.  I’ll write more about it soon… hopefully with good news.  Once again, he wants me to keep him in the picture so that he can ensure he/the Royal Marsden are able to recruit for the trial.  Such positive news, we hope.

Finally we spoke about life.  His and mine.  He asked me how I was doing.  Was there anything else I was worried about.  Any other aches, pains or points of concern.

I feel totally looked after… and hopefully the dot will remain just that, a dot.

Kew the Music – Caro Emerald

You know me.  Yes Girl!  If I’ve not tried something or been somewhere and get asked, I’m sure to say ‘yes’.  (Well to most things!)

So when my friend asked if I’d like to see an open air concert at Kew Gardens, I jumped at the chance.  I bought my ticket and then googled Caro Emerald to see what I’d be seeing/listening to.

Andreya Triana: 6.30pm – 7.00pm

Jack Pack: 7.15pm – 8.00pm

Caro Emerald: 8.30pm – 10.10pm

Caro Emerald

Seriously fabulous smiley music.

What a beautiful setting.  We had glorious weather and thank heavens the rain held off.  A small picnic, drink and gossip first on our picnic rugs and then the concert began.

A great atmosphere and variety of ages loving the evening’s entertainment and location.

Proud Aunt Moment

Today I was invited to attend my nephew’s end of term Celebratory Event.  Many of you will know how supremely proud I’ve been that he was invited to be Head Boy this year.  I had absolutely no doubt that he’d step up to the added responsibilities, carry them out with his usual enthusiasm and zest but also to understand that to be a Head Boy is often so much more than just new tasks.

Today was his final day at a school he’s loved for the past 6 years.  I remember when he started, a small ‘squirt’ of a boy who looked up to the Year 8s both in stature and with a mix of admiration and fear.  Now he was Head Boy, Year 8 and was being looked up to.

The school not only looks at education, academia and sport but also encourages all their pupils to adopt and behave in accordance with The Prior Way.

Prior Way

I’ve always known my nephew has all these qualities in truckloads but today he was awarded by the school for doing so.  What better qualities for life and living are there, than those in the Prior Way?
Joe & Award

As Head Boy, he was asked to speak at today’s Celebration.  OhMyWord, Joe was amazing.  He wrote the speech himself and honestly I think he’s found his new vocation.  His delivery was fabulous.  Timing amazing.  Inclusion of funny and serious elements perfect.  Here’s Joe’s Speech.

I think you’ll agree with me, he’s fabulous.  And Lewis Moody on Twitter posted:
Lewis Moody Tweet

I’d adopt him as my son any day :-)…but certainly no doubt about his speaking prowess.

Some pics from the day:
Joe Collage

On the way back to London I heard this song being played… yes you should wear sunscreen but hey there’s a whole lot of other great advice for living in here too…. Click here

Saturday Fusing & Slumping Glass

I signed up for a short course at the College.  10-4pm for four consecutive Saturdays.  This course was all about learning how to cut flat glass and then fuse with other pieces of glass, powder and frit to make some flatwork.  Then either leave the piece as a flatwork or, if you wish, to slump this into shapes to form bowls, plates, signs etc.

Some photos to demonstrate what we covered.

Picture 1 – using pencil and paper we considered what we’d like to make.  Drawing out exactly what we wanted to achieve.  Then cutting out plastic pieces to match this.  When I was with David Mitchell a few years ago he taught me to draw out the design precisely and then use the paper and pencil as a template.   Personally I’m not sure the plastic pieces helped whereas measurements and precise paper template would suffice.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday

As you can see from my piece below I didn’t follow the design but did end up with a fun piece that had many sharp lines and angled cuts.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday1I also created this.  I wanted to see what would happen in a high fuse when I had pieces laying over one another.  The blue pieces lay on the top of the green for the firing.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday2Making the piece below, I used transparent and opaque glass together with frit, powder, confetti, stringers and a copper flower (made and donated by another lady on the course).  I’ve left the piece flat and enjoy the light coming through it when on a stand.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday3Our tutor also showed us how to make our own moulds.  Firstly using clay to get the shape, wrapping clay around to dam it, then adding plaster to become, once set, the mould.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday4Then I tried my own mold.  I was keen to use a shell for some shape but was, it turned out, too gentle and should have pressed much harder to get the shell shape in the clay.  The second thing I learnt from this exercise was not to wipe around the clay so it’s damp when I pour the plaster… it sticks to the board and will break when removing it!  But I was determined to use what was left of the mold, hence below.

The red piece Dad now has against a window in his conservatory.  I thought I should use the smaller mold piece and created the blue dish which I think I’ll incorporate into something else in time.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday5I created a small round piece with opaque and transparent glass and then using the tutor’s mold slumped it to give a funky shaped piece.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday7I wanted to experiment with rods and created a triptych for a friend.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday6Then a little experiment using float glass and frit to then slump over to get a handkerchief piece!

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday8Finally a few pictures of some of the other work created by my classmates… so much more gifted than I!

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday9

Wimbledon 2015 – Day 5

Tennis in SW19 never fails to excite the nation and unite us in supporting the Brits.

My only visit to SW19 this year was to Centre Court.

Wimbledon 2015

I managed to get tickets in the ballot and was delighted with the matches being played on on Day 5:

Richard Gasquet (FRA) [21] defeated Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [11] (6-3 6-4 6-4)

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] defeated Bernard Tomic (AUS) [27] (6-3 6-3 6-3)

Serena Williams (USA) [1] defeated Heather Watson (GBR) (6-2 4-6 7-5)

How fortunate were we to be in Centre Court for what I consider to be the match of the year – Williams v Watson.  The atmosphere was electric.  The majority of the spectators were supporting our home girl, Heather Watson.  The game was so incredibly close and (bias I may be) Heather so nearly won!

I think this little clip shows the level of excitement.

A beautifully hot day where fans and sunscreen was the order of the day for players and spectators alike.  A wonderful little video across Centre Court at the fluttering of fans.

Hot day in Centre Ct

And, of course, time to visit the No 1 Ball girl at Wimbledon again.  My wonderful Abi.  I think this slo-mo video shows you the extent to which they are trained and professional.

Henley Regatta 2015

I know I’m blessed with fabulous friends who invite me to wonderful occasions.  Today was no exception.  I was invited, for another year, to join a party of friends at Henley Royal Regatta.  Amazing day, gorgeous Pimms, delicious lunch (yummy beef!), energetic rowing to watch and the company of great friends (new and old).

Henley 2015