Five years has passed….

Hi Mum

I can’t believe it’s been five years since you left.  Sometimes it still feels like yesterday when we watched you close your eyes and go to sleep. Sometimes it feels like forever since I heard your voice.

So often I find myself reaching for the phone to tell you something or just to have a chat – I wonder when I’ll stop doing that?

As I start a new chapter in my life, I’ve been sorting through some more of your things and found some great pictures and cards.  My home phone also broke recently so I plugged in my old one only to discover a whole heap of voicemail messages from you.  How strange to hear our voice after all these years and to know that I won’t hear it again.

Five years since you passed is also significant for me and my health.  I found the lump on the morning of your funeral.  Gosh it’s been a strange five years.  Five years is so significant in cancer terms as most are able to consider it to be the point of ‘all clear’.  As mine was a special/unique/rare/whatever variety, I get to continue the regular checks beyond the five years.  It’s so odd to think you knew nothing of this part of my life, the cancer bit!

Anyway, thought it was time to post some more pictures of you…

Mum TennisSherborne School House Cup Winning Team of 1956

MumGlamI wonder why this photograph was taken?  Looking v glam

21and18Mum at our birthday party celebrating my brother’s 21st and my 18th

BarbadosHolsMum and I chilling in Barbados

MumPartyingBrilliant!  Love that I’ve found a pic of a squiffy Mum with a ciggy!

Miss you Mum


My Prom 23 – Mozart Requiem

IMG_6059Conductor – Donald Runnicles with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Choir of Scotland.

Tonight’s promenade began with a piece by Scottish composer John McLeod.  “The Sun Dances is a glowing, iridescent work inspired by an Easter folk legend from the West of Scotland”.  An interesting piece, bright, upbeat and colourful.

At the centre of the programme is Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony in B flat major.  Seriously love this Symphony.  It’s robust but elegant.  It’s fast but captures you with every note played.  If you don’t ‘do’ classical music but want to start… here‘s a great piece!  Listen and I’ll be seeing you at next year’s Proms!

Our final selection for this evening’s performance was Mozart’s ever-popular Requiem in D minor.  Mozart’s poignant and prescient anticipation of his own death.  Such an incredible piece that tells such a story about Mozart’s life.  The choristers were the National Youth Choir of Scotland – incredible performance and despite the youth present, the performance given was so experienced.

IMG_6060BBC’s Listen Again to this Prom click here McLeod and Beethoven and here for Mozart.

IMG_6058The obligatory ‘selfie’ with Helen.

My Prom 22 – War Horse


Albert Hall War Horsep01xw0y7A Prom inspired by the National Theatre’s play based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel, featuring a new suite created by Adrian Sutton from his score for the original production, as well as other music from the period with performers including the Proms Military Wives Choir & Gareth Malone.

Life-Size War Horse Puppets by the Handspring Puppet Company, Proms debut artist.

Cambiata North West
BBC Concert Orchestra
David Charles Abell conductor

Without gushing too much, it’d be very hard to truly tell you about tonight’s performance.  So I will.  The performance was spell-binding, emotional, beautiful, visually incredible and audibly amazing.

Never have I believed a puppet to be real as I did tonight.  The War Horse, foal and goose – all puppets worked by humans but to an extent that every movement and mannerism reflected the animal it purported to be.  It wasn’t long before you forgot entirely that there were skilled puppeteers and believed the animals were truly there.

I’ve not yet seen the play The War Horse nor the cinematic version.  I don’t feel I need to now either as tonight’s performance must surely top them both.

The inclusion of the Gareth Malone and the Military Wives Choir was inspirational.  They became part of the story and, on the eve of centenary of the First World War made it all the more present and poignant for doing so.

Clever staging allowed for part of the floor of the auditorium to open up and bring up a canon which was fired during the performance, for soldiers to appear through a field of corn.  There was snow to illustrate the length of the war through the seasons and the writer Michael Morpurgo on stage as a witness and then to hand out the ears of corn.


Truly an utterly brilliant performance on stage accompanied by the most incredible choices of music and song.  I’m quite sure that I wasn’t the only person with a tear in my eye and a little choked at the emotive performance.

The Times


Happy Birthday Pops

Dad BirthdayCelebrating Dad’s birthday!

What you can’t see in the bottom left picture is that Dad is trying hard to suppress his own giggles as he watches his Grandson Joe have a very infectious giggle-fit…. below is a selection of pics of ‘the other party’!


(***Sorry Joe, you told me I wasn’t allowed to post it on Instagram but you didn’t mention my website!  Love you oodles x)


Pure Viva Cleanse – Results

I completed the 3-day juice cleanse yesterday evening.  I haven’t felt the same ‘clean’ feeling that I’ve felt with previous cleanses and find myself a little underwhelmed with this package.

Was I hungry during the 3 days? Yes.  I found having 6 juices a day a struggle.  I would have preferred less juices during the day but a larger volume in each ‘serving’.  Each bottle was only 330ml in volume, mostly sweet in taste and thinner juices than I’m used to.  This culminating in my going to the fridge more often (with 6 juices a day), feeling unsatiated and the sweetness leaving me with a craving for breads. This package, being just the juices with no instructions or timetable, meant I neglected to drink as much water as was probably required, I felt ‘clogged’ and I constantly craved food.  Usually at the end of a detox or juicing period I find that if I crave ‘food’ then it tends to be healthy options, fruit, salad or nuts.  The sweet taste of these juices has left me craving unhealthy options so I wonder if my body isn’t alkalised following this cleanse.

Did I get congested?  Yes.  Despite my taking digestive stimulator capsules in addition to the juices, there was little movement!  TMI?

Do the juices last in the fridge? Yes.  There was less separation of the juice content during the 3 days but a good shake before drinking is required.


Calorie counting?  On each of the juice bottle labels are the nutritional facts of the content.  This includes the calorie count for each.  I was surprised that each bottle had 200-250 calories meaning that for a 6 juice day this worked out at approximately 1,300 calories.


Would I do it again? No.  I didn’t feel this pre-prepared juicing plan provide me with anything more than the juices which I could buy from Pret or similar outlet selling cold-pressed juices.   Although caveat to that would be that as this was an offer at £59 +delivery it may work out cheaper.

Would I recommend Pure Viva Cleanse? No.  I didn’t feel the overall service was great.  Ordering was cumbersome, my only phone contact disappointing and the juices were just juices ie no plan, instructions or information.

Oooh and the all important question….

Did it work and results? As a ‘cleanse’ probably not.  I don’t feel ‘lighter’ nor that wonderful ‘clear’ sense of being that I usually feel after 3 days of juicing.  I did however lose another 1.5kg.

Pure Viva Cleanse – 3 day Juice Cleanse

This morning saw the arrival of a new juice cleanse from Pure Viva Cleanse.  An offer from LivingSocial meant that the 3 day juice cleanse was reduced to £59 (normal value £99) together with a £10 delivery charge.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 09.04.38The ordering process was a little cumbersome.  Firstly you are required to make your booking online via the website.  I would have then expected something further about arranging delivery but you’re left hanging with your account indicating that it is ‘on-hold’ but no further explanation.  FYI despite my order having been delivered this morning this order in my account remains ‘on-hold’.

I waited to see if the status would change or anyone would contact me – they now had my details in my account.  A few days later when nothing had changed, I telephoned the number on the website.  My call went through to a mobile and I felt was answered in an abrupt fashion.  I enquired about how to set up the delivery date and was quickly told to give this information and order number over the phone together with payment details for the £10 delivery cost.  When I asked about the ‘on-hold’ reference on the website being misleading I was told this was how the website worked.  Not great customer service for a first time sale.

Packaging – The juices are grouped into ‘daily’ heat-sealed plastic bags which are rammed into a chill bag.  The contents are only mildly cold and the bag barely able to close.  I’m also acutely aware that there are no instructions, leaflets or information within the package.

Viva CleanseThere are 6 juices a day, each in a 330ml bottle and numbered to make it easier.  In addition there is a bottle of ‘lemonade’.  I’m unsure if this is a separate drink or like other detox juicing programmes contains lemon juice for adding to the first hot or cold water of each day.

I have looked at the website for programme instructions, more particularly with reference to the ‘lemonade’ but feel the most informative programme instructions to be on the LivingSocial offer page.

It appears the lemonade is an additional drink and I will need to buy some fresh lemons for my morning water and lemon ‘wake-up’ drink.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 09.04.24

EssentialGreenJuiceJuice 1 – Essential Green (daily)
Kale, Cucumber, Apple, Celery, Lemon, Ginger

Enjoyable green juice.  Not too ‘green’ in flavours for those new to juicing!


Juice 2 – Essential Red (daily)
Beet, Dandelion, Apple, Parsley, Lemon and Carrot




Juice 3 – Garcinia Essential Berry Extract (daily)
Garcinia Cambogia, Acai Berries, Blueberries, Goli Berries, Raspberries, Green Coffee Extract




Juice 4 – Energiser (daily)
E3 Live AE, Coconut Water, Pineapple, Mint, Ginger




Juice 5 – Refresh Tonic (daily)
Romaine, Pear, Mint, Cabbage, Cucumber





Juice 6 – Skin Deep (daily)
Strawberry, Kiwi, Lemon, Apple



LemonadeVivaCleanseJuice 7 – Lemonade (one per detox)
Lemon, Lime, Cayenne Pepper, Raw Agave




I’ll let you know how I’ve got on with this cleanse in a few days.

My Prom 14 – Duruflé, Ravel and Simon Holt


As you know from previous posts, I love going to different concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and I’m also a huge fan of the Proms.   The diversity of the Prom concerts put together over the season means also that even a seasoned Promenader or classical music aficionado will be challenged by some pieces performed and also learn to love or hate new composers/compositions.

Fortunately for me, Pod organises our Proms season by sending out a list of concerts that he and his wife are interested in attending a few weeks before they go on sale.  I, together with other friends, reply with our choice of concerts that we’d love to join them for. Pod then patiently, and repeatedly, redials the booking line number at the moment the clock chimes 9am and until his call is placed in line with the thousands of others who are keen to secure Proms tickets. This year he was only 4,000(ish) in line and successfully managed to secure all the tickets requested.  What a star and quite some feat of patience.

Tonight saw the first of my Proms season.  Our party of four consisting of Pod and Helen, Pod’s brother Ciarán (pronounced ‘Kier-Ron’ (Irish)) and myself.  We met first for a drink and bite to eat at The Queens Arms, a fabulous pub hidden in a Kensington Mews.  Wonderful company, lots of tales and laughter together with great food setting us up perfectly for our short walk to the Royal Albert Hall, climbing the stairs to our second floor box and devouring a cooling ice-cream for dessert before the start of the performance.

Tonight’s programme consisted of pieces by Ravel, Holt and Duruflé (pronounced ‘doo-roo-flay’).
Conductor – Thierry Fischer.
Performed by the wonderful BBC National Orchestra of Wales together with the BBC National Chorus of Wales and the National Youth Choir of Wales.


Love love loved the pieces by Ravel.  New pieces with which I was unfamiliar and ones that I would love to hear again and to once again lose myself in Ravel’s music.  I found La Valse utterly mesmeric and could listen to this again and again.

Duruflé’s Requiem was, in the main, unknown to me.  However some pieces I recall Mum performing as part of a Marlborough Summer School choral week and other pieces reminded me of long summers in Taizé some many moons ago.  Again pieces that I’d love to listen to again.

Simon Holt’s world première of Morpheus Wakes however was a work that sadly didn’t do a thing for me.  I found it jarring on the ear and wondered if the high pitched composition would find itself in a sci-fi film of the future (a genre of film that doesn’t appeal to me).  Certainly, and sadly, not a piece of work that I want to listen to again.

That’s why I love the Proms programme – I always find something familiar, something challenging and something new in each and every Prom.

Proms14SelfieThe ‘somewhat blurred and looking like a loony‘ obligatory selfie!

Ravel, Maurice (1875-1937) – Valses nobles et sentimentales, for orchestra
Holt, Simon (b. 1958) – Morpheus Wakes (BBC commission; world première)
Ravel, Maurice (1875-1937) – La Valse, for orchestra
Duruflé, Maurice (1902-1986) – Requiem

BBC Listen Again – Ravel and Holt here Ravel and Duruflé here

Juice & Cleanse …continued

Following on from my earlier post, the second part of each day consisted of the following juices:

3. Lunch – Cucumber, Watermelon, Mint, Lime
4. Dinner – Beetroot, Apple, Carrot, Turmeric
5. Supper – Celery, Cucumber, Lime

As per the instructions I interspersed the juices with lots of water, some with bicarbonate of soda and some glasses with psyllium husks.  I also had a bath with Epsom salts and wrapped up warm before going to bed to help the detox.

Each day is the same throughout the detox.  5 juices, lots of water with psyllium husks, bicarbonate of soda and a lemon shot first thing.  Before your morning shower you use the body brush to wake up the lymphatic system and at night a bath in Epsom salts.

The part of the instructions that I neglected to follow was not to overexert or play competitive sport during the detox.  Many of you will know my obsession with playing tennis when the sun shines and this week is no exception.  I’m also redecorating so between tennis matches performed my own Bikram yoga going up and down a ladder with a paintbrush in this ridiculous summer heat.

I did have a headache during day 2 of the cleanse but wonder if despite the pints of liquid and water that I was drinking, due to the heat and exertion, I was simply dehydrated. As I’ve not had caffeine or a normal diet for quite some time (mostly juicing) I don’t think it was a withdrawal.

The juices are all delicious.  I’ve enjoyed trying combinations that I don’t usually juice and I’ve surprised myself liking grapefruit and turmeric!

Was I hungry during the 3 days?  No albeit full of liquid.  Generally I tend to make thicker juices than those on the detox so mentally I felt ‘hungry’.  But reminding myself it’s only 3 days and getting prepared mentally for a detox helps.

Is the Psyllium Husk enough to keep the bowel moving?  (Possibly TMI)  By the middle of day 2 I felt I needed to take a couple of digestive stimulator capsules, but everyone is different.

Do the juices last in the fridge?  Yes for the 3 day detox however they do separate a little more each day.  I found that I would need to vigorously shake each bottle more as the detox went on.

Would I do it again?  Definitely.

Would I recommend Juice & Cleanse?   Yes.  Easy website to discover plan options, simple ordering process, well thought out and prepared plans, fast delivery of well packaged juices and plan content together with a wonderful personal service.

Oooh and the all important question….

Did it work? Is my Tummy Trimmer?

During the detox I lost 6.5lbs or 3kg and YES my tummy is trimmer!

Juice & Cleanse

As you know I’m very familiar with juicing now and happy to create my own juices or follow a Juicemaster plan.  However I wondered what the pre-prepared juices were really like and if this might be a solution when I’m busy or working again.  I’m keen to continue with the juicing as the many health benefits are obvious to me… the migraine headaches that had plagued my life for the past 2.5 years have still not returned, I’ve lost weight, I’ve a heap more energy and most of all feel lighter in body and mind.

So early this morning a courier arrived with some pre-prepared juices and a cleanse plan from Juice & Cleanse.   The juices were well packed in chill-packs to keep it cool.

IMG_5981I chose the 3-day Tummy Trimmer plan.

IMG_5980Half way through Day 1 and loving the new flavours.  I started my day with a lemon shot in cold water (a great start to any day and usually I will have hot water with a hefty slice of lemon).   Then I followed this with a glass of water with psyllium husks.  This has to be drunk quickly as it turns a bit gloopy but is extremely beneficial during a cleanse to keep the ‘system’ going!  I’m also drinking lots of water with a small amount of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in it.

This morning’s juices were also new flavour combinations for me and both were delicious.

1. Breakfast
Orange, Grapefruit, Cayenne Pepper

2. Mid Morning
Cabbage, Carrot, Ginger, Apple

Will keep you posted.

Riding for the Disabled – National Championships

So very proud of my niece, Tori.  She’s once again qualified through the regional groups to the National Championships in dressage.

The RDA National Championships is a wonderful event where people with all sorts of disabilities are able to showcase their incredible ability and skill to ride horses to a high level.


Such a shame however that unlike last year’s heatwave at the finals, this year it was p’ing with rain, muddy underfoot and the very real threat of thunder and lightning.

Michelle and Tori were up early getting Jinx ready for the competition.  Trying themselves to avoid the rain showers whilst grooming him and then hiding out in the horse trailer to plait Jinx’s mane.

When we arrived at Hartpury it was clear that sadly the bad weather had an affect on the competition.  Not only were the outdoor arenas waterlogged but the spectators simply weren’t there in the numbers of last year.  Such a shame for the competitors not to have the support.

The dressage competitions were held in the indoor arenas which created even more challenges for many of the riders.  The sound is very different indoors, the confined space within which to warm up and prepare and added to which there was the occasional clap of thunder outside which reverberated in the arena and created difficulties for the riders to handle their horses.

However all the adverse conditions simply demonstrated that these plucky riders are made of sterner stuff.  Amazing competition with some truly inspiration and incredible riders.

Here’s a few pictures of Tori during her competition.  10th place in the Nationals.  She did brilliantly.