Challenge 13 – What’s the Point of It?

The title of this post isn’t referring directly to Challenge 13, obviously! But I dragged Chris along to an exhibition by artist Martin Creed called “What’s the Point of It?” on Sunday afternoon.

Billed as playful, thought provoking art the exhibition spans the entirety of the Hayward gallery. For me, it’s dominated by a few main points of interest – the giant neon Mother sign which stands at 12 and a half metres wide and rotates at variable speeds to the sounds ticking metronomes, to the three outside patio spaces and the balloon room – packed full with white balloons, aiming to “package and make visible” the air that surrounds us.

It’s an interesting exhibition – one that I really enjoyed walking around. It’s full of colour and texture and interesting shapes but the real draw was definitely the balloon room, which combines static, a bit of claustrophobia and completely unadulterated joy – and creates this week’s video blog, but only for 17 seconds.

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I don’t want to say much more because a lot of it is things you have to see for yourself, but it’s running until 5th May and is £11 to get in. Worth it, just for a few minutes to immerse yourself in the youthful fun that balloons always encourage.

Challenge 18 – Strictly Ballroom

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For as long as I can remember, I have loved to dance. From attending Dance Days as part of my Mum’s job when I was a child to putting on my best clothes and prancing round my (very small) bedroom to Janet Jackson as a teenager and taking up ballet at the tender age of 22, dancing has always given me complete and utter joy.

Now, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. I’m not designed for dancing. In a lot of ways I feel like the fact I’m so passionate about it, but so extremely awful makes me love and appreciate it even more. As a result of my love of dance, we’ve been talking about doing a ballroom class for years so when 25at25 came about, it seemed like an obvious choice for a challenge. A few weeks ago, the amazing City Academy got in touch and asked if I’d like to complete Challenge 18 with them and I jumped at the chance. They offer classes in everything from ballroom to beginners ballet to belly dancing, singing lessons, comedy classes and a whole heap more and I’d been eyeing up their classes for months.

Headed up by Derek Roofayel and taking place at Lift Islington City Academy’s taster class aims to take you on a whistle-stop tour of all things ballroom with brief introductions to the waltz, slow foxtrot, tango and jive. Though it was a dance class, the primary focus of the taster class was definitely enjoyment. Derek walked us through the dances in understandable terms, explaining the basic steps and teaching with an infectious love of each style. We only had 15 minutes on the individual genres, but the taster certainly gives a great introduction to ballroom dancing and certainly ignited my interest – so much so we’ve signed up for an eight week course which starts in May.

I’m so glad I finally got round to doing this. I think I’ve found myself another love and I can honestly say I’m smitten. Though the challenge was only to attend one ballroom dancing class, I’ll be keeping you updated with our progress once the course starts. They’ve kindly said they’ll let a photographer come along and take some pictures of us one week, so I’ll certainly share those with you in due course. Watch this space!

Challenge 13 – You’ve Got to Change Your Evil Ways

You may (or may not) have seen an outtake from American Hustle which cropped up on the interwebs last week. The video shows everyone’s best friend Jennifer Lawrence angstily lip syncing along with the classic song Evil Ways whilst cleaning her. Last week, I put out a plea for video blog suggestions, and the lovely Vic responded by suggesting I recreate it for this week’s video blog. So I obliged.

Now it’s obviously nowhere near as good – and the camera work is notably less decent. I also failed to find an awesome smock to wear whilst filming this. But I hope you’ll notice the flick in my fringe and appreciate the dollop of attitude I stole from JLaw. I’ve posted her video below too (watch that, it’s a lot better).

Post about ballroom dancing coming soon – but I’ll tell you this much. I bloody loved it!

PS: For reference, Chris has no evil ways. He doesn’t have to change any. He’s very nice. Good to great some might say.

Challenge 13 – Hot Pilates and Other stories

Soooooo sorry for the delay friends. No excuse, I’ve just been a bad video blogger this week. This challenge is starting to get pretty tough. Coming up with something new to chat about that people are actually interested in seeing that doesn’t take a lot of editing skills (of which I have very few!) every week is tricky but I’m obviously going to keep ploughing on.

I’m thinking of moving video blog day to the weekend, in the hopes that I might find something more interesting to share with you guys. If you’ve any suggestions, I would love to hear them. Please drop your ideas in the comments below!

If I’d thought about it earlier, I’d probably have recorded Chris and I getting stuck in a bog on Tooting Common earlier today, but I didn’t. Though that was mega lolz. I got verrrrrrry muddy feet and ruined a pair of shoes but that’s a story for another day.

Here’s some chat from this week – hot pilates and other stories…

We’re off to Florence on Tuesday, so expect lots of photos on Instagram, a travel post upon my return and a little absence on the blog this coming week. Thanks for sticking round guys!

Butterwick Children’s Hospice

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I feel like choosing a charity is a decision for life. Often, those who raise money for charities regularly, pick one that means something special to them and they continue to provide support to that charity on every endeavour they undertake.

Nine years ago, I embarked on another kind of challenge. I was 16 years old (pictured above. Why, oh why did I ever cut off that hair?) and I decided I wanted to raise money for a local children’s hospice who had supported some close family friends look after their young son – to whom my Mammy was godmother. I gathered the troops at my secondary school and we put on a talent show. We raised £2000 for Butterwick Children’s Hospice and the Rainbow Trust. It was one of the biggest achievements of my life. I don’t want to go into too much more detail, but you can read about it here.

Now with #25at25, I’m attempting to raise more money for Butterwick Children’s Hospice. Based in Teeside, the hospice provides care for terminally ill children and their families, but it costs £900,000 to run this incredible centre and the hospice relies on charity donations to keep going. They aim to create a “home away from home” for babies, children, teenagers and the families of those who have to turn to Butterwick for support.

The hospice has a playroom, complete with a TV, DVD’s, musical instruments, a vibrocoustic bean bag (this sounds AWESOME – it can be connected to a sound system and then vibrates to the beat enabling the kids to feel and hear the music through the bean bag) and a massive dining table for everyone to enjoy meals together. There’s also a hydrotherapy pool, a sensory garden, a craft room and a multi sensory room. The facilities are endless.

It’s always been the multi-sensory room which I loved the idea of. Fibre-optic lights, coloured spotlights, a discoball, an infinity light tunnel and bubble tubes all help to stimulate sensory awareness and help the children relax and unwind.

I know a lot of the challenges I’m doing aren’t exactly deserving of sponsorship (a lot of them are just jollies), but I do think some of them are. The Great London Swim (which I’m increasingly becoming more and more concerned about and we’ve still got 6 months to go!) is the most obvious of which, but I feel like swimming the lidos, running the Colour Run, performing ten random acts of kindness, and of course the challenge to raise money in itself might be worth a spot of sponsorship. I’m also aiming to run a 10k for Butterwick before my 25th year is out.

Butterwick is a charity I care wholeheartedly about and I will continue to fundraise for them long after I turn 26. If you want to, you can donate to them via my JustGiving page here. Even if you don’t want to sponsor me, I think taking a charity into your heart and fundraising for it can only be a good thing, so maybe take this opportunity to donate to another charity of your choice. There’s hundreds out there and it’s just about choosing one that matters to you.

And I’ll leave you with this magnificent performance from Sammy Davis Jr of Mr Bojangles. Happy 3rd March friends

Challenge 16 – The Circle Line Challenge. COMPLETE

Yesterday, myself and a wonderful selection of friends spent the majority of the day on London’s Circle Line for Challenge 16. The premise was a simple one – to ride the ENTIRE circle line, getting off at each station and taking a picture with the sign, and then either writing a poem about the tube and the surrounding area or going to the nearest pub for a beverage.

And we did it! From Victoria right back round to Victoria (that’s 27 stops I believe), with a lot more poems than required and definitely drinks I lost count of. Particular highlights include writing poems in between stations, rushing off the train, taking the photo and jumping back on the train before it left the platform. There were a couple of close shaves, but it was such an adrenaline rush. WHO KNEW!

Here’s all the photos and poems for your delectation. I know, I know. I’m sure someone will be contacting me to publish a poetry collection before long. Watch this space.

Prepare yourselves for an obviously photo heavy post.

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When you get to London Victoria,
What a sight you’ll see before ya,
You’ll be in a state of euphoria
Please come and visit, I implore ya!

St James’ Park
Oh what a lark!
Don’t go in the dark
Scary dogs bark

Westminster’s where the politicians rule
They don’t do it in a swimming pool
They won’t be taken for a fool
Unless they’re sent home from school

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Embankment is right by the river
Don’t jump in, it’ll make you shiver
The Thames will leave you all a quiver
And probably upset your liver

At Temple you’re close to Somerset House
If you fancy you might drink Famous Grouse
Temple station really lacks in charm
If anything, it mainly smells like a farm

Blackfriars – DRINK

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At Mansion House
You might find a spouse
Watch out for a louse
If you’re a traveling Scouse

Canon Street
Gives you smelly feet
When you walk to the beat
I’m not called Pete

At Monument there’s a real tall tower
Probably showing a man with massive power
Who made loads of people really cower
Possibly not, but it’s still pretty wow-er

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Tower Hill – Drink

At Aldgate there’s not much to see
So staying on the platform we will be
No shots or drink for us this time
For now we’ll stay as we are, just fine.

At Liverpool Street
I follow my feet
To a pretty cool beat
On an East London retreat

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On Moorgate you change to the Northern Line
The best place to leave you feeling fine
At rush hour it’s really not divine
So avoid it if you’ve not got a lot of time

At Barbican there’s lots of plays
And dances and ways to spend your days
So head out of the tube and cast your gaze
And waste some time in a number of ways

DRINK and Poem
Farringdon is close to where I work
Sometimes around there I like to lurk
In the office I don’t like to twerk
Pretty sure if I did, it would not be a perk

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At Kings Cross
You’ll find a boss
Whose not at a loss
For a rolling stone with moss

Excess hair
In Euston Square
An apple or pear
And many a stair

It’s not Baker Street yet
It’s Great Portland I bet
I’m all ready and set
For a photo now pet

bakeredgepad.jpgBaker Street – DRINK

Edgeware Road – DRINK

Paddington is where they found a bear
They picked him up without a care
They put him in some underwear
Then they ate some tasty Peruvian fare

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Bayswater is a really nice space
My friend Andrew is a disgrace
But our friend Sarah has a nice face
We’re going to eat in a pizzeria place

In Notting Hill they made a film
With Hugh Grant and without a kiln
There’s a carnival once a year
When everyone comes out filled with cheer

High Street Ken is for posh folk
I’m kidding really, that’s a joke
But at Harrods and Harvey Nichs prices make me choke
But I still like to go there for a poke (around)

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Gloucester Road is somewhere I don’t know
Or somewhere that I ever go
Still I hear it’s pretty nice
Except when it’s covered in ice

South Kensington is where people go to learn
At museums for the knowledge they all yearn
Science and history, it’s lots of fun
Till it gets all busy at Half Term, then I’m done

Sloane Square is where people look at art
Especially if they’re super posh farts
I don’t mean it, everyone is welcome
But mainly if I only like them.

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Challenge 13 – Draw My Life

Tonight’s video blog has been a bit of a labour of love (hence why it’s going live at 10pm – sorry!) but this week I decided to Draw My Life (and edit it a bit – so maybe this week’s blog won’t be as poor quality as usual…maybe?). You all know I’ve got mad drawing skills so this is obviously going to be a reaaaaaaal treat.

After the success of my recent burlesque class, I’m now starting to think about the ballroom dance class and I’m hoping to get something booked in the next week or two. If the weather isn’t too crazy town this week, I might try and pop to Bushy Park for my second lido swim, but as ever, I’ll keep you posted.

Challenge 15 – A Bad Run

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On Friday night, I went out at around 6pm for one of my Couch to 5k “run walks”. It’s getting to the stage now where I’m predominantly running, with only short recovery breaks. I was so proud of myself on Friday. I felt like I really smashed the run, and ran for an extra seven or eight minutes than the program directed and I clocked a full 5.5km. I pushed really hard. It was a good run. I never thought I’d say that.

On Saturday morning at about 11am, I tried to go out and run another run. I was still kind of on a high after Friday night’s trip out and I was feeling good that I could do something to make me equally as proud of myself. But as soon as I started running, my body got cross with me. My shins hurt. My legs didn’t want to move. Chris reassured me that it’d get easier and I’d start to loosen up a bit as we carried on. I didn’t. It just got harder.

It was raining. It was incredibly windy. It was cold. It was a struggle. My six minute interval run seemed like an eternity (which I know sounds ridiculous to many). I was frustrated. I was angry with myself. I hadn’t had enough breakfast, I was running on empty and I knew about it. But still I finished the run, despite a few momentary pauses and missing the last memo that it was time to walk because the wind was howling too loud.

I spent quite a bit of Saturday mulling over the fact that I’d had my first bad run, but after a while, I started to realise that despite the fact it was a bad run, I hadn’t given up. Yes I was slow and yes I got annoyed with myself but I carried on until I finished. And that’s something that I can be proud of. A friend Tash said to me that the weather was so bad I had to “feel pleased and virtuous — not nice weather to do anything in, let alone run.” And she was right.

So I decided that I would go swimming yesterday and do a KM to give myself something to be proud of again. And on Wednesday, I’ll get back to it, and push as hard as I can and just keep running until that 5k is MINE.

Challenge 8 – Get Your Butt Up, Show Me How you Burlesque

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This challenge was set by my gorgeous friend Georgia and it’s probably one of the challenges that I was most nervous about. Though I have loved burlesque for a long time and I used to do a bit of performing (mainly drama and singing) back in’t day, the prospect of shimmying, shaking and strutting my stuff as a grown woman made me feel pretty uncomfortable.

Nevertheless, myself, George and a few willing victims from my office (thanks for joining in guys!) popped along to Burlesque Baby’s Level 1 class taught by the extraordinarily talented Ruby Deshabille. It was a four week run of one hour classes in Covent Garden, the first of which took place on the 16th Jan when myself and around 25 other lovely ladies took our first steps into the world of burlesque.

At level one, there is absolutely no clothes removal. For these classes it’s all about learning the skills of burlesque, as well as finding the confidence and letting out your inner diva. The first class made me feel pretty awkward and incredibly un-coordinated but we paraded our way around the room, working on burlesque arms, struts and bumps, as well as learning the importance of facial expressions, posture, and props.

Fast forward four weeks and me and the girls found ourselves at the final class having (pretty much) learned a 45 second routine, eight of the 52 (I think) ways to remove gloves and where to find the confidence for the art of burlesque. Told to dress up to help us let out our own Sasha Fierce style alter ego, I donned my ballet leotard and a splash of red lipstick and was ready to boogie. (Apologies in advance for these pictures, but I thought photographic evidence was a must…? Awkward).

ImageUnfortunately, the tube strike meant that the teacher who was meant to be covering for Ruby, who was performing in Burlesque on Ice, got stuck on a bus somewhere en route to Covent Garden and the class had to be cancelled. We’re re-doing the last class in a couple of weeks but as the challenge was to do at least two classes, I’m declaring this one complete.

So many women have said “I’m not sure that’s for me” but level one is so keenly focused on just being bold and fabulous, I can’t recommend it enough for helping women move a step closer to fierce fearlessness. The increase in my own confidence has been almost immeasurable and I think finding that is priceless, wherever it comes from, so I’m heartily recommending every woman gives at least a couple of burlesque classes a try in their lifetimes.

This challenge exemplifies exactly what #25at25 was about for me. Despite making noises about doing something like this for years, I’d likely never have committed without being given a push. This class pushed my boundaries, got me out of my comfort zone and made me do something new and awesome. And for all it was uncomfortable at times and I’ve never liked seeing myself in a mirror less, I loved it and I’m looking forward to doing Level 2 in the future.

FYI, this is our amazing teacher Ruby Deshabille performing a fan dance – most probably my favourite style of burlesque routine. She’s a total a pro.

Challenge 13 – Not My Hands

Hello friends! Sorry for the mega delay in this week’s video blog. If you’ve met me this week, you will undoubtedly have heard that we’ve been without hot water and heating since LAST FRIDAY. Today, we’ve taken refuge at a friends just down the road for warmth, avoiding the closed Northern line and the gross weather outside.

But to make up for my tardiness this week, I’ve got a bit of a treat in store this week (I think anyway) with a game called “Not My Hands”. You can thank me later. Apologies also for my squeaky voice. Not sure quite what the craic is there but I woke up this morning sounding like I spent last night at a Foo Fighters concert. I didn’t – for reference.

Anyway, without further adoo. These are not my hands.