Thursday, 20 February 2014

'You have so many strings to your bow!'

The strings to my bow sit happily side by side. 
Strands of talent and skill, stretched and refined. 
Perfectly parallel.
Colourful. Plentiful.

The strings to my bow resonate dissonantly, it seems.
A noise that’s certainly memorable but not easy on the ear. 
Leaping out amongst those with clear, basic chords but tricky to understand. 
Harmonies identifiable but not in-tune with the melody they sing.

My bow is stilted in growth. 
Now, the strings are stiff and
sprouting grey roots.
Too soon!

Stuck in a minor key.
Always half-way through a potential perfect cadence.

My bow is put away again.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Six Sochi Superstars

London 2012 proved our female athletes were world-class. Hefty funding and patriotic support helped our competitors to achieve brilliance. Sadly, the legacy of the summer Olympics has slowly waned but excitement is building for the event's cooler counterpart.

As the countdown to the Winter Olympics begins, Team GB stands stronger than it's ever been and many medal hopes lie in the hands of our female athletes. Here are six super female competitors set on bringing home the glory.

Jenny Jones - Snowboarding (Slopestyle)

After 10 years in the game Jones is still going strong. Her track-record is impressive and she continues to achieve in European and Global competitions. Last year, she secured the silver medal at the World Cup in New Zealand. It's the first time Slopestyle has been included in the Olympics, so it'll be interesting to see how Jones performs on this world stage.

Katie Summerhayes - Skiing (Slopestyle)

At 19 years old, she's a young competitor with stacks of skill. It's exciting for GB to put forward such a promising skier. Previously, she's placed on the podium in the World Cup and finished 4th in the X-Games. The National Lottery have invested heavily in the freestyle team and confidence only grows for our cool competitors.

Lizzy Yarnold - Skeleton

Yarnold has a fantastic story. As a talented youngster she initially competed in heptathlon, hoping to become professional in modern pentathlon. However, Yarnold was identified by UK Sport's Girls 4 Gold talent search and put forward for skeleton as a future Olympic medal hopeful. She had huge success as a junior and has continued to achieve at senior level, winning the World Cup just two weeks ago.

Shelley Rudman - Skeleton

Rudman has much experience under her belt. She competed in Turin in 2006 and bagged the Olympic silver medal but finished third behind Yarnold in this year's World Cup. She's secured a number of titles in the past so let's hope the skeleton duo spur each other on to do well in Sochi.

Elise Christie - Short Track Speed Skating

Christie bagged the bronze medal last year at the World Championships in Hungary; an historic performance as the first British woman to ever win a medal in short track speed skating. She held the 2013 World Cup title for 1000m and achieved gold at the European Championships in both 1000m and 1500m. Let's hope the Scot continues to succeed.

Eve Muirhead - Curling

Think curling; think Muirhead. Once again she leads the incredibly successful Scottish team into the Olympics with absolute class. With plenty of titles under her belt, it's no surprise that her and her teammates were the first athletes to be selected for Sochi. Muirhead was just 19 at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, so expectation is high for this experienced and determined young woman.

Let's hope these ladies get heaps of media coverage so that their own wintry legacy can be thoroughly established.

Photo credits:

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Unemployed and 'Overqualified'

Unemployment rate drops to 7.1% and yet I remain unemployed. Where do I fit?

I worked incredibly hard for my GCSEs, achieved good 'A' levels and went on to pass my degree with first-class honours.

I came out of university and couldn't get a job. I ended up in the public sector in an admin role.

I moved on, and on, to the next temporary role I could find. All the while, applying for creative jobs.

I never 'knew' anyone in the creative industry; I never got a job in the creative industry.

I'm now 25 and my CV heaves like a dusty concertina, revealing lines of admin duties and mediocre responsibilities between the dirty folds.

Earlier in the week, I had a second interview. One other candidate was up against me. I was thrilled to be considered and hoped that my thorough experience and creative background would be enough to land me the role.

At the end of the day I am given the news that I am unsuccessful. I am 'overqualified'.

Pipped to the position because my CV is a bit too shiny with my A*s and my experience is a bit too advanced for this particular job.

In the past I have been a cleaner, a retail assistant, a receptionist, worked in IT, for charity, for the ambulance service...

I have taken jobs because I've had to earn money, and have tried to make them as enjoyable as possible by taking on additional tasks and responsibilities. I have managed to build entry-level roles into something really rather skilful and worthwhile.

But in this case, where I believed I had a real shot at something good, my achievements and efforts worked against me and I remain unemployed. What bitter statistic am I?

...Anyway, on to the next one!

*I'm not technically unemployed yet. I finish at my current job on Friday and am relocating to a different area.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

2013: The Year That Was...

Don't pretend like you don't love reading these posts on how people's lives have panned out over the past year. I can't help but read them myself, so instead of ingesting everyone else's highs and lows over the last twelve months, I thought I'd write out a few of my own.

2013; The Year That Was...

Snowy (high)
Well-documented on here and much-mentioned everywhere else, I packed in my job and did a ski season last November. I spent 6 months in the luxe ski resort of Val d'Isere. It was the best decision of my life.

Bloody (low)
One week before my flight back to the UK, my friends and I took a trip to the leisure centre to have some much-needed pamper time. After a dip in the jacuzzi, we sat in the Hammam for some steamy therapy. After a while, I got up to leave and as I pushed the handle to open the door I fainted.
My robust head flopped forward and smashed the thick glass. Still clutching the handle tightly, I came round and found myself in a pool of blood. My friends, helpless, half-reaching across the shimmer of glass shards to comfort me. My horrified shrieks echoing off the water, the ceiling. Proper horror movie stuff!
So much glass was embedded in my bum where I'd landed hard and then shuffled about in the stuff, grinding it into the skin's surface, then deeper, and deeper. The doctors spent 3.5 hours tweezing, pulling and stitching me back together. They were so pleased with themselves as I happily guzzled a barrel of gas and air.
Now, I have a leopard print-esque scar on one butt cheek and slashes across various parts of my body. Never mind.

Lovey-dovey (high)
Romance took me by surprise in the mountains. Cliche and cringey as you like, I fell for a boy who took the time to help me get over my fears and made me open my eyes - both metaphorically and literally. Never ideal going down a slope with your eyes shut...
After skiing we drove around Europe in a converted van and spent 3 months on the road. It was idillic. I saw so many beautiful things and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to take the time to explore and to have shared it with someone special.

What next?
My aims for 2014 are threefold.

Use my body

After my glassy accident it was incredibly painful to move. Gouged skin takes a long time to heal. Consequently, I lost my fitness and motivation to do much else but massage bio oil into myself. Anyway, I hope to take up running properly again next year as netball tides me over for now. I've found it impossible to psych myself up to go out in the cold/dark/wet/damp/gusty/iffy outdoors.


I'm launching myself as a freelance writer. When I put my mind to it, I'm actually pretty good at putting words together. I have already written for the London New Journal (to be released mid-January) and I'll be contributing to The News Hub (launching early 2014), focusing primarily on women's sport.


I'm 25. Maybe I should think about being a grown-up next year. OR maybe I shall plan another cheeky adventure to escape the 9-5 and live my life as I have done in 2013, because it's made me ever so happy...

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby.

I think people have forgotten what The Great British Bake Off once was. I cannot believe the lengths people are going to to make this light-hearted baking show something it's not. I'm not saying GBBO should be sugar coated, but some 'fans' are ruining the whole experience, like hemp in a tea loaf, and focusing on Ruby Tandoh personally is a dangerous and wrong outcome for what used to be an innocent programme.

Paul 4 Ruby 4eva

First and foremost, the allegations that Paul Hollywood fancies her is no fault of her own. Despite the rumours earlier in the year about his American antics, the British fans have decided to interpret his creepy ways to take the stick out on the innocent one here: Ruby. Even if he did fancy her, what hassle does she deserve to receive and how does his behaviour affect the quality of her baking? P.S. THERE ARE TWO JUDGES.

Remember that time last year when Mary Berry lined up the finalists (all-male) in hottie order instead of rating their technical challenge and went round to all the journalists proclaiming her preference? NO, ME NEITHER. Do people really care about who Paul Hollywood believes to be the prettiest? All it does is spark unnecessary controversy. Yawn.


Another thing that has been mentioned many times during GBBO is the fact Ruby was working towards her History of Art and Philosophy degree and had exams throughout her time in the competition. Ruby was stressed out - quelle surprise! She only has to bake a signature pie and then go home to study for some exams about pluralistic rationalism then come back the next day to produce some casually perfect petit fours, go home to study for some exams on hedonism and then get up the next morning and do the exam and then have to come home and try to create a lovely cake out of vegetables!? She should be congratulated and praised for her diligence.

'The victim'

Many viewers are obsessed with the term 'victim', and how Ruby has been 'playing' this 'role'. The overuse of the word 'victim' is utterly wrong in these tasteless quips. Since when did people lose their grasp on what it means to be actually be a victim. What does it mean when they say:

Her lack of self-confidence was unexpected, not irritating. When has modesty and surprise made someone false and devising? Sorry, is Ruby doing an evening course in drama, too? What's awful is that now Ruby is a victim: of Twitter bullying.

Body image


I saw this article about Raymond Blanc questioning Ruby's love of food simply because of her weight.

Never mind his weak comment about 'female tears', is Raymond saying that if she were grossly obese her obvious 'love of food' would mean she would qualify as a proper contestant?! Doubtful.

As Sarah Ditum puts so neatly in her piece for the Guardian,

'Here's why I think people are so free with their dislike of Tandoh: because they follow the same narrative the media does, and they know that when a woman does well, step number two is always to give her a pummelling.'

It's so true and sad.

The Final Bake

GBBO squashes other BBC2 programmes twofold with its mega audience figures, so it's moving to BBC1 for its fifth series. As its popularity increases, I'm sure the trolls will grow like a proving sour dough. Twitter is a lazy tool which allows people to say things quickly, without thought. Viewers are caught up in the whirlwind of reality tv in real-time, where following the nasties is far easier than thinking about a point to make their own.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Euphoria Girls. Why it's wrong that a naive and innocent performance makes us cringe.

Last night I sat in my pyjamas, bought a curry from Tesco and watched the X Factor. My Saturday nights are sorted for the next four months.

I have found myself thinking about Euphoria Girls. A lot. The group of 16-17 year old girls who gave such a sickeningly 'happy' rendition of something horribly old fashioned that was only memorable because of the unconventionality of their performance.

The slightly naive, over-the-top, smiley-smiley, 'we just want to make people happy!!!!' attitude is rarely, if ever, seen amongst a group of young females on the television. From what I saw, the reaction on Twitter was incredibly negative and, although it certainly didn't encourage a standing ovation from myself, it really made me think about what we - the viewing public - believe a teenage girl should portray herself as.

For example, if the girls had come out and pouted a little more, and during their routine walked up to the judges stomping with hands on hips, were more provocative, did a butt-shake here and there etc., this would not have been shocking at all. This is what we're used to seeing.

Is it right that, in fact, we cringed at their 'young' appearance and slightly immature personalities?

Throughout the show's history, a key shock-moment for judges is when they find out how old a contestant is. 'Only 16!? Wow.' Is it the 'maturity' of their voice? Or their physical appearance and (sexual?) 'maturity' of their performance? Most of the time I feel that the majority of young female auditionees appear with a face full of unnecessary make-up and dressed as if they were in their twenties.

Sharon Osbourne stated last night that she wanted 'more attitude' from them, that that would be the only way to succeed in this process. I wonder what the girls (/the X factor producers) interpret that to be. Attitude. I should think it means 'be more sexy', and only time will tell.

It seems that being a 'PG version of the Pussycat Dolls' just doesn't give enough to voyeurism.

We are desensitised to the sexualisation of young girls, aren't we? It makes me terribly angry.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Top Tips you should read before embarking on a European road trip

1. Use a Travelex Euro/Multi-currency cash passport. This card doesn't charge you for cash withdrawals, the commission is low, the website is reliable and it's quick and easy to top-up any amount of your choice over the internet. Way better than getting charged by your UK bank every single time you get out a wad of cash. You can also use it for internet transactions.

2. Shop at Lidl. Carrefour, Super U and E.Leclerc's are cheap but Lidl is much cheaper and its stock is good. I'd never shopped in one in the UK because I'm a snob. Oh, and remember to take carrier bags or a backpack to carry your goods as plastic bags from supermarkets can be expensive.

3. When using a sat-nav, spell your destination correctly. It might seem simple, but if you're visiting little towns or villages there are usually many incredibly similar spellings where there's an extra 'l' or 'e' which may be the other side of the country. (Luckily, we caught our mistake just in time and only went an hour out of our way.)

4. Over-estimate the time the sat-nav tells you, unless you're in a ferrari. Camper vans take a while longer to get up mountain passes and hair pin bends.

5. Don't trust tap water, even if it says it's drinkable, it's not worth the risk. Lidl will sort you out for 2litre bottles for 16c each.

6. Fast-food is more expensive than you think, and usually you're better off buying a yummy fresh baguette, ham and cheese. Support the local economy!

7. McDonalds' in Italy does not allow you to use wifi unless you have an Italian mobile number. French McDonalds' is fine but you're won't be able to connect outside of opening hours.

8. Diesel is expensive in Italy, less so in Greece and France. Shop around (if you can!) and you can usually find a bargain at the supermarket gas station. Don't buy any fuel on a motorway if you can help it because you're charged a fortune for service (the guy who has to fill your tank up - you're not allowed to do it yourself) as well as a premium for the stuff itself. Plan ahead!

9. Prepare for tolls. Some are much more expensive than others, especially if you're travelling through a lot of tunnels. Do your research online before you head off anywhere otherwise you can smash your budget in a few hours and that's sure to cause many a sad face.

10. Be aware of dodgy areas. We referred to a special camping guidebook which pointed out parts of motorways or tolls that we should be wary of. You don't want anyone puncturing your tyres or grabbing something through the window...

11. In the Med you should eat as much fresh fruit, veg and produce as you can because it's usually a total bargain and super delicious. Once you get to France the food returns to the standard in the UK: extortionate and tasteless. Boo!

12. Be nice to each other. If you're the passenger, don't fall asleep.

13. If there's lots of Germans, it's a good campsite.

That'll do. Enjoy!