• St Albans Race for Life 2016

    Race for Life Medal
  • Film Review: Swallows and Amazons

    swallows and amazons
  • Film Review: The BFG

  • Featured Post: What appliance could you not live without?

    using washboard

St Albans Race for Life 2016

Race for Life Start

This morning I completed my 10k for the St Albans Race for Life! It took me nearly 6 months of regular running, with I must admit, the past month off following an injury and a new time consuming job. But, I did it! It was quite a scary prospect and it has been worrying me the past week quite a lot, not least because of the high temperatures we are experiencing here in the UK. I knew that there would be an uphill part of the course and i’m very used to running on the flat and so I wasn’t all that sure if I could manage it. I was also a bit worried that it might become a bit of a personal Race for Life, given my high anxiety levels, the heat and everything combined.

In the end when I finally dragged myself down to the park I was greeted with a sea of pink and lots of enthusiastic people. I realised very quickly that I didn’t need to worry about it being a really competitive event as everyone was just there to have fun.

Queuing up to start running I saw someone I knew and had a bit of a chat. This helped take my mind off things and I’d suggest that if you were considering doing the race its a good idea to get someone to do it with you. Once we set off, I forgot about being on my own and put my headphones on. I quickly released that this isn’t a competitive event at all, everyone seemed to be running quite slowly. In fact considerably slower than I normally run. The sheer volume of people also made it very difficult to overtake people until about 6K into the race. This was quite a good thing as it meant that I didn’t push myself too much in the heat. I even managed to run uphill (the pace was a good 3 seconds slower than I normally run though!).

By about 7K I actually began overtaking some of the people who were walking. I have to admit this was a great thing for me and really spurred me on. I also decided to take my headphones off and to listen to everyone around me. It was great to hear all the shouts of support! I managed to do the Race for Life 10K in just over an hour, I was pleased with this time because it was such a hot day and an unusual time for me to go running.

The marshals were brilliant, they were so supportive and encouraging and for me, flagging a little bit in the heat that really helped. So, thanks so much to all of them.

Race for Life Medal

Race for Life Medal

Would I do it again?

Yes! I’ve enjoyed all the training I’ve done for the race and this is something which I intend to keep up. although I’m not sure if I will run at a competitive race. My seven year old daughter was inspired by the day and we intend to do some mother- daughter runs and i’ve promised her that we will do a race together (more likely a 5 k).

I’m proud that I managed to raise a decent sum of money for Cancer Research UK, this is such an important charity which does really important work.

The Race for Life was an empowering experience, it was genuinely humbling seeing everyone pulling together and running in support of their loved ones. I spent quite a long time reading the notes on everyones backs to see who they were running for, some messages were upsetting and some up-lifting. It highlighted just how many people are affected by Cancer and how many people really care enough to try to make a difference.

Top Tips

Go along to the warm up- this is great fun and gets you in the mood

Find a friend- I think I would have found the experience much easier with someone to go along with (although I managed)

Drink plenty of water before the race. There are toilets so no need to worry!

Don’t worry! This is a supportive event, its not in the least competitive which is fantastic.

Practice the route- It just so happened that a lot of the route was on my usual running route. The familiarity really helped me.

Have fun! This is about raising awareness, money and having a good time.

I did it!

I did it!

There are plenty more Race for Life Events happening if you’d like to have a go then you can sign up here. If you’d like to sponsor me you can still do so here.



Film Review: Swallows and Amazons

swallows and amazonsVery rarely a children’s film comes along which as an adult you love. This is one of those films.

Swallows and Amazons is one of my favourite children’s books and I must admit that I was slightly worried that the film would not do it justice. I didn’t need to worry, the film does justice to the book and manages that difficult feat that you find with some of these classic books in making it accessible to this generation of children.

The story tells us about a family who have a holiday in the Lake District. Their father a sailor is out at sea and they are alone with their mum. Resolved to have an adventure they take a small sailing boat out onto the lake to reach an island where they can camp. This is the stuff of dreams, I cant think of any children nowadays who would be allowed such a privilege. Their boat is called the Swallow and they meet some pirates (local children) called the Amazons. Together they end up embroiled in a spy drama. Its about friendship, sibling relationships, pulling together, coping with adversity and much more. For me it was about reliving my childhood dreams of adventure, for my own children it was about the relationships between the children.

Have a look at the trailer:

This is a beautifully directed, thoughtful film with an excellent script. The scenery of the lakes, alongside the carefully considered costume add to the overall feel. The adult stars  Rafe Spall, Andrew Scott and Kelly Macdonald perform their roles brilliantly, but the children are clearly the real stars of the film, especially little Roger who reminded myself and my husband of our third child. The dialogue between the children was spot on, so much so that the children came out remarking how they thought their conversations (and general dynamics) were very similar to our household.

Once in a while we go to a movie where all of us come out smiling and remarking how brilliant it was. This was one of those films. I want to go on holiday to the Lake District now and to be little and to sail a small boat to an island and camp. I guess we could do some of those things.

Swallows and Amazons Cast and crewWe were really fortunate to have the cast, writer, producer and director introduce the film for us. They clearly cared about making this film and how to correctly convey the essence of the book and you could see their pride. I can see why as they have produced what has to be one of the best films of the summer.

You must go and see this film, you wont be disappointed its simply brilliant. You can see it in cinemas from August 19th

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/swallowsandamazons/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/StudiocanalUK

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Film Review: The BFG

I date many of the things I remember in my childhood by the Steven Spielberg film which was out at the cinema at the time. My sister loved ET and I remember her being in reception at school whilst I was learning to read. She got an ET keyring after seeing the movie and we both cried about ET going home. Raiders of the Lost Ark made archaeology seem glamorous and perhaps influenced my future career as an archaeologist. Twister was at the cinema when I was at uni and so on. So you can imagine how exciting it was to be invited along to the UK premiere of The BFG.


The photo above shows us sitting by the tree from Giant Country. The whole of Leicester Square was transformed into Giant Country and it was absolutely magical. That wasn’t all the children were thrilled to meet Lindsay from Blue Peter who told us that they were covering the premiere on the programme so do watch out for that!

The BFG is one of my favourite Roald Dahl books, I’ve written a lot on this blog about how brilliant his books are. Not least because you can read them and enjoy them as much as an adult as you  can as a child. Its basically the story of orphan Sophie ( loosely based on Sophie Bfg1Dahl the authors grand-daughter) and her dreamlike adventures with a Big Friendly Giant. If you’ve read it you wont need me to say anymore, if you haven’t – well- I wouldn’t want to spoil it.

The film features Mark Rylance as The Giant, a role which he performs superbly and Ruby Barnhill as Sophie. They both give brilliant performances and the mix of animation and live action does work surprisingly well. There are some real visual treats and an epic music score. We all loved the fact that Sophie had a northern accent, a treat since we had assumed she would be American.

Have  a look below and check out the Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/BFGMovie/

However, as much as I’d love to say that we really, really, really loved the movie, it was just a little too long. It seemed a little bit like a series of scenes threaded together and I found myself counting down the plot points from the book. Now, that said, I read the book many years ago and my 9 year old happens to be reading it at the moment. He tells me that it isn’t quite the same story as the book in places- inevitable- but I guess this could be a bit disappointing for big fans (I’d have to read the book to check though).

From what I recall, The BFG was quite a multilayered book and is actually really quite dark, even sinister in places. The brilliance of the books is that they are just that little bit un-nerving. I think this is where the movie goes wrong, because it all feels a little bit Hollywood and magical. Its a beautiful looking movie and there is a fairytale ending. It just didn’t feel quite like the book felt when I recall reading it, or how my 9 year old feels reading it at the moment.

Overall, we enjoyed the movie. It isn’t a bad movie, it works in lots of ways and is a good film. I suspect its just not for hardcore Dahl fans and more for Spielberg fans. To be honest I’m wondering if i’ve finally grown out of Spielberg. The kids liked it, I suspect they wouldn’t put it at the top of their list of this summers recommended cinema viewing but it wont be at the bottom. A firm 3.5/5 from us.


From the imaginations of two of the world’s greatest storytellers, Roald Dahl and Steven Spielberg, THE BFG tells the extraordinary tale of a young girl named Sophie (played by British newcomer Ruby Barnhill) and the Big Friendly Giant (played by Oscar Winner Mark Rylance) who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. Together they embark on a marvellous and buckswashling adventure filled with snozzcumbers, dream jars, frobscottle and even the Queen! The mismatched pair form an unlikely friendship that will inspire enormous bravery in the BFG and give Sophie a taste of the family she dreams of.

Directed by three-time Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg, the film reunites the director with his Oscar-nominated collaborator on “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” Melissa Mathison, who adapted the childrens author’s timeless adventure for the big screen. “The BFG” is produced by Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Sam Mercer with Kathleen Kennedy, John Madden, Kristie Macosko Krieger and Michael Siegel serving as executive producers.

The film stars three-time Tony Award®, two-time Olivier Award, BAFTA and Oscar® winner Mark Rylance as the Big Friendly Giant; Penelope Wilton as the Queen; Comedians Jemaine Clement and Bill Hader as Fleshlumpeater and Bloodbottler; Rebecca Hall as Mary, the Queen’s handmaid; Rafe Spall as Mr. Tibbs, the Queen’s butler; and introduces newcomer Ruby Barnhill as Sophie.

The story was first published in 1982 and has been enchanting readers of all ages ever since. Dahl’s books, which also include “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “Matilda” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” are currently available in 58 languages and have sold over 200 million copies worldwide.

The BFG will visit cinemas across the UK & Ireland from July 22nd, 2016.


Featured Post: What appliance could you not live without?

using washboard

Using a washboard- good training for when the washing machine breaks!

The other day I received an interesting email from Beko telling me about a poll they did on Twitter asking people which appliance they couldn’t live without. The consensus was that people couldn’t live without their fridge freezer in fact 49% of people said so!

I must admit I was really surprised about this as for me this would not have been anywhere near the top. I know this for a fact because a couple of years ago we were without a kitchen for a couple of months and as a result we were also without appliances. For me, with three children the thing which we needed the most was the washing machine. I could make do without a dishwasher, a microwave was a reasonable standby instead of the oven and I could just keep the cold stuff outside (although it did prove expensive having to pop to the shops every time we wanted a frozen item).

As the children get older and I’ve gone back to work properly, rather than working from home or ad-hoc hours, I’ve noticed just how much I use the washing machine. Its used at least once or twice per day for a full load of washing- children generate SUCH a lot of washing.

The eldest is studying Victorians at school and I got out our washboard to show him how Victorians would have done their washing. We last used this when the kids were tiny (see the picture above which I just thought was so cute I had to use it!). We had another go with it and then we considered our laundry pile and the amount of time it would take. The conclusion was genuinely quite horrific, i’d probably be spending at least three hours a day just on laundry if I had to do it the old fashioned way!

Sitting back and evaluating how lucky we are nowadays to have all these appliances to help with our domestic chores really puts stuff into perspective. Our lives would have been so different event forty years ago. Technology has improved the way we cook, the ease of access to food. It has saved us time, effort and made our lives so much easier. For me the next task is to train the children how to use it all, the eldest has been given lessons in washing machine use, they can all use the oven but unfortunately they cant reach the microwave!

I’d love to hear what appliance you cant live without, do you agree with me or do you agree with the Twitter poll?

Running Away

Trainers or work?

Trainers or work?

Its been quiet here on the blog over the past four weeks. Thats because I have a new job, its a big responsible job and as i’m just at the start of my journey into it- very challenging. Unfortunately this has also coincided with the imminent arrival of the culmination of a years work on the St Albans Literary festival, a busy time at the museum where I lead workshops and an imminent formal assessment for one of my children. I don’t have a cleaner, a cook or general house-keeper (unlike many of my peers) and so I’ve had to squeeze in the odd bit of housework in order to stave off the rats and mice. There’s also been the wardrobe issue- jeans and tatty t-shirt not being all that acceptable in boardroom type meetings.

The result has been a virtual standstill on my running. In many ways a literal standstill as i don’t have the time or energy to fit it in. Cake at break time is a sort of right of passage in my new job as well and the occasional glass of wine (especially needed after the mental trauma of it all and possible self medicating given I haven’t included my 3 children in the list above or the 6 I have on the morning school run). This is a health disaster. I can see why people don’t achieve 10,000 steps now- they don’t have the time!

Its only four weeks to the St Albans Race for Life. I fear i’m going to let myself down and the past 6 months of running nearly every day will not be reflected in my efforts and time. This weekend I have managed to drag my exhausted bones out early both mornings, for a 5 km and a 7 km run. The times have been rubbish around 6:30- 6:50 per km average). At times I have felt near death. Its amazing what a difference a month of poor living makes! However, I’m keen and determined to pull myself out of this, mainly by looking to the future August looks promising with many of my work related challenges settling down. So, I can get through July and I can do everything well or at least to the best of my abilities.

How does one approach running after a month? I’ve done it by trying to regain the levels I was at before, making sure that I warm up well and stretch well afterwards. Music seems to help. I think I need some help on this one. Taking ones mind off the challenge whilst doing the challenge is also good. I’ve been pondering the EU Referendum (which could have consequences for our family in terms of finances) and a mixture of rage and despair has had a strange effect on my time. Rage is a good emotion for speed in running!

One of the other thing I have done is to treat myself to some long compression socks. These look quite cool as they are bright and also seem to help with my toe numbness. I think its always good to buy new kit to spur oneself on (if you can afford it).

I’m running 10km in the St Albans Race for Life, i’m currently doing it all alone. If you’d like to join me then sign up here and let me know. Its a very worthy cause and if you haven’t sponsored anyone yet and would like I’d love to  see your support here.