30 Apr 2011

Becky's Book Review #2 - More To Life Than Shoes by Nadia Finer + Emily Nash

Book: More To Life Than Shoes: How to Kick Start Your Career + Change Your Life
Author: Nadia Finer + Emily Nash
Genre: Job hunting/careers/women/self help
Star Rating: 5/5

General Description
As per the book blurb itself, this is perfect for anyone who has wondered if there's more to life than living for the glass of wine at the end of the day, knackering yourself on the tube and just generally wondering WTF am I showing up in this office for every damn day.Through a series of exercises, mini essays and more importantly, interviews with women who've achieved some amazing things, this book will help you realise that apparently, there is more to life than shoes!

I'm not normally a fan of life coaching/self help/career coaching type books - I guess I've always been a bit dubious and snobbish about them. However when Nadia from MTLTS sent me a link to their website, I totally fell in love with the concept of women supporting other women to achieve their dreams. As I said in WoTW the other day, we don't celebrate our achievements often enough and this book helps you figure out how to achieve your dreams. Actually more importantly than that, it helps you figure out what your dream is and to 

me, that's half the battle.

Another part of the book - that I liked the best - were the interviews scattered throughout - particularly with Martha Lane Fox, Rachel Johnson + Kanya King (founder of the Mobos). 

If you like....... 

What Colour is My Parachute? Erin Brockavich Sliding Doors Getting Things Done The Secret...inspiring true stories, female empowerment, practical advice
....then you'll like this

Why You Might Like This Book
You're curious about self-help/career coaching and tempted (tho cynical) about books in that genre

You're bloody fed up with life
You need some inspiration
You need a helping hand
You want some practical exercises to help you figure out what makes you happy at work and play

Why You Might Not
You're happy with your life

You're not happy with your life but you have no desire to change it
You're not yet in a place to make change in your life
You're not a feminist 
You don't like inspiring stories

So all in all, I am now converted to self-help+career coaching. This book was so inspiring and the exercises were great - I did some of them with a friend in the pub and we both came away feeling a lot more positive about what we wanted.

Thats all for now. Thank you and goodnight

Stupidgirl has left the building

27 Apr 2011

More Carrot, Less Stick - Word of the Week

(Achievement n: Something accomplished successfully, especially by means of exertion, skill, practice, or perseverance. Ety: noun of action from O.Fr. achever early 14c.,  "to finish, accomplish, complete," from phrase à chef (venir) "at an end, finished")

You know what? I think that we, as writers, bloggers or generally as PEOPLE, do not blow our own trumpets enough and share our achievements with others. Over all the previous Word-of-The-Weeks (WoTWs) I've talked a lot about learning and growing and developing, not just as a writer (well, my journey as, er, a writer/blogette type person) but I don't think I've really posted enough about just `owning` what you do. And no matter how big or how small, if it's an achievement to you then it should be celebrated - and that's what this week's WoTW is all about.

First of all, I want all of you, every single person reading this blog to give themselves a pat on the back (or if that's too hard, have a bit of chocklit, that's good too). I want to you to do that to say thank you because the first thing we are celebrating, in the name of achievement is that this week, we passed 10k views of this blog since January. Yes, wow, yikes etc - more than 10 thousand individual views of this blog (and not all of them were me or my mum). So big THANKS  to all of you who read this blog, who comment, who say lovely things to me on Facebook/Twitter etc etc, it is so very appreciated and I could not have done it without you. I'm not sure where this blog is headed or what the end purpose is yet, but I think that 10k views in 3.5 months is not to be sneezed at and I have so loved blogging - so all you guys are kind of, holding my hand, encouraging me to continue. That to believe that just maybe, I can write for some kind of audience. So keep on with that pat on the back/chocklit eating - pretend it's from ME!

Secondly, achievement - as I said, nothing is too big or too small. I think we spend far too much time beating ourselves up and stressing about things, and forget that sometimes, on bad days, even getting out of bed is an achievement. In fact, depending on my mood, all of the following can be achievements for me:

  • Getting out of bed
  • Looking at people when I'm wearing my glasses (can't bear to do this because I think I'm so ugly I don't want them to see)
  • Making it to the top of the climbing wall
  • Blogging
  • Pitching to clients
  • Running for ONE MORE FUCKING MINUTE (past 5 minutes...!)
  • Not having Maccie D's for lunch
  • Scrambling down to the crag when climbing (this can be scarier than climbing)
  • Killing spiders
  • Sleeping when I'm home alone
So if you've done anything today that involved confronting a fear, doing something you didn't want to do, doing something nice, writing, blogging, creating and just generally being you and being fab, I want you to take the next 5 minutes and just celebrate that. Be happy, you rock. 

Finally, please make sure that every day, you just take time to think okay, you know what, I'm not so bad, in fact, I'm doing pretty well at this - whatever it is that `this` for you is - being it writing, climbing, creating - even just living. I definitely don't do this enough - and I'm not saying we should all be big headed - but sometimes you can beat yourself up when instead you need to be your inner cheerleader (especially if she looks like Santana or Brittany from Glee).

And that's all for this week's WoTW - just a short one as I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo tired after doing lots of climbing on real rock including an 18 metre sea cliff climb (check this out for a pic - tho it's not me in the pic). Hope it was okay - let me know your thoughts below, as ever :)

Thank you and goodnight

Stupidgirl has left the building

25 Apr 2011

Didn't You Get The Memo....A Newbies Guide to Book Publishing (part 1)

Hi everyone, hope you're having a good Easter Monday! After a long train journey home from Wales, I thought I'd do another Stuff-I've-learned-as-a-newbie post (see my blogging one here)....this time on what I know about the kerazzzzzzeeeee world of book publishing...

I decided to write this post because I used to work in bookselling and publishing. Not for a huge period of time granted, but just over five years in two internationally renowned publishers gave me a little insight into what happens in those ivory towers. So, I don’t make any great claims to know everything at all about publishing, this is just what I know and I thought I’d share it with you. As with any advice on the net, take it with a pinch of salt and a dash of common sense. Knowledge may be power but equally a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. So with that caveat, let us begin!

In my opinion informing yourself on the intricacies of the publishing world can be a big asset to a new/debut/wannabe author…. You might feel like finishing your ms/wip/greatest work of fiction is the hard bit over and done with, but in some ways your journey has just begun. Firstly, if you’re reading this and you’ve already gotten a book deal, many congratulations, that’s awesome – and indeed you may already know some of the below. On the other hand (like me) you might still be in your first draft but thinking ahead to submission and just feeling a little WTF about everything. In which case, this blog post might be helpful for you.

1) Money, money, money….
Okay, please don’t forget that, for better for worse, a publishing house is a ultimately, a business. If they buy a book, to a certain extent they are looking for a return on their investment. Admittedly they don’t always get it right, and they can afford to take a hit, but mostly they’re looking for books that will SELL. It might sound fairly obvious but remember this when you’re getting rejections, editorial criticism and so on, don’t take it personally. It’s the whole `business` thing coming into play. And ultimately the more you sell, the better for YOU – if you plan to make a living from this whole writing malarkey.

2) What flavour is your book?
It might sound like a total no-brainer but what is your book about? Have you got an elevator speech for it? If you can’t do this for your book, you need to be able to. I appreciate that not every book is classifiable or slots neatly into a genre – how else would we have gotten supernatural romance if not for Twilight + True Blood, or the boom in YA if not for genre busting novels like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. However, most books can – and do – fit roughly into a genre. So perhaps think about:
  • Where might your book sit in a bookstore? 
  • What sort of authors/reviewers would you want to write blurb for the jacket? 
  • What is your competition out there? (c’mon there’s gotta be someone!) 
  • What would the blurb on the back of your book say? 
This might seem initially challenging *but*, as I’ll come onto later, it’ll really help you when it comes to marketing and pitching your book. (NB not for your query letter though). It might also help you crystallize the core story of your book.

24 Apr 2011

Save the last dance for me - a top 10 list, a photo and a general catch up!

So, wow how awesome has the weather been this weekend?! I hope that if you've been in a easter-celebrating country that you've been scoffing chocolate for every meal - and even if you're in a non-easter-celebrating-country that you've had lots of chocolate.

I've been with my in-laws celebrating my oldest sister-in-law's wedding (I have THREE sil's - who read this blog, I must be *nice* :P) and it's been a wonderful weekend :) I outdid my housemaid skills with the following:

- I made 3 different beds
- I emptied the dishwasher 3 times
- I did 2 loads of washing up

Which is more than I've done in my own house in the last month.....

The wedding itself was fab - and I was honoured to do this reading - which I was bricking myself about doing but didn't fluff any lines woopee. Or cry - also woopee! I also had a lot of fun playing with the flower girls - similar mental age y'see. Lots of bubble blowing and confetti throwing and general hilarity :) More importantly the bride looked wonderful and I wish the couple many years of happiness

Just for your delectation, here is a picture of me pretending to be a bridesmaid....

(Photo courtesy of http://www.s-north.co.uk/ )

Oooh, also, before I forget, the most awesome band `Under the Driftwood Tree` played the wedding - they did some really cool covers of The Specials, Prodigy, Dizzee Rascal, Jessie J, The Killers etc but more importantly their own stuff rocks. They're kind of folky, alternative, indy, rock stuff. If you like Stereophonics, Arcade Fire, Jack Johnson, the Killers, etc you'll probably like them....

They've been featured on the BBC, interviewed by Fearne Cotton *and* I think they've just been signed - so definitely ones to watch. You can follow them on Twitter, `like` them on Facebook and also checkout their MySpace page. I definitely plan to catch them next time they gig in London!

So, you've had your photo and your catch up - and here is today's list - Top 10 First Dance Songs. Bit weddingy yes, but it seemed appropriate :) As ever, it's not a definitive list, I make no apologies for my taste in music, it's just what I like!

1) Moon River - Frank Sinatra: so, er, we had this as our first dance. I've blogged about it before, here. I think it's a really smoothy classic. It's a song from pretty much the day we got together

2) Let It Be Me - Ray LaMontagne: I never heard this song until I went to a friend's wedding last summer and totally melted watching them mouth the words at each other.

3) Iris - GooGoo Dolls: Just a lovely, fab song. And quite a popular `alternative` first dance song too :)

4) All I Want Is You - U2: I know, lots of you hate U2. I don't. Live with it.

5) At Last - Etta James: The Obama's had this at their inauguration ball which lowered my love for this a little, but it's just got such a lovely, romantic, vintage-y feel. Etta's voice is amazing too :)

6) These Arms of Mine - Otis Redding: Yes, this is in Dirty Dancing, yes I love the film and this song is  so full of yearning. It's lovely and slushy. Boooooo to you cynical non-romantic types!

7) First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Stereophonics (cover): Nearly had this as my first dance. Kelly Jones has *the* most amazing voice, possibly better than the original. If you've not heard this, it's like listening to an aural version of velvet + whisky +gravel mixed together.

8) Never Tear Us Apart - INXS: Well, firstly the video is very gothy romantic, but Michael Hutchence is/was a total love god. Me + husbando both love this song

9) Feeling Good - Muse (cover): This song makes me so unbelievably happy, Muse, surprisingly, do a great line in love songs but this cover version is, IMO one of their best songs. Matt Bellamy's voice is supreme in this.

10) Moondance - Van Morrison: I know this one is a little cheesey but I've always liked it - it's a bit of a classic and, I think, a great summer wedding track. Definitely one to dance barefoot to on the grass.

So that's it for today. I'll be back later in the week with a book review, a `Didn't You Get The Memo` guide to publishing for authors` and various other bits + pieces. Have a good one :)

Thank you and good night

Stupidgirl has left the building

17 Apr 2011

The higher the note, the louder we shout - My Top 10 Karaoke Tracks

I think you might have all guessed this post was coming, especially after this and this and er....this. I've not always been obsessed with karaoke, it's more that I'm now officially allowed to sing in public - something I've refrained from doing since the following episode:

Autumn 2001 - I'm at university, in my room. My then best friend (and now husband) walks in...
Him "Are you okay?"
Me: "Yeah, fine, why do you ask?"
Him: "Well I thought I heard you screaming in pain?"
Me: "Er......no, I was ah, singing along to my Bryan Adams CD"
End of scene, both parties extremely embarrassed, I vow never to sing aloud, in public, again....

Until someone introduced me to the concept of karaoke booths...(I blame @originalrobyn and @leopardprintlou for this). Hence lots of going to karaoke and getting very excited about it. It has since come to my knowledge that there's a fair few of you out there who have *never* done karaoke. I find this quite alarming, it's like not doing fancy dress as an adult. The whole point of karaoke is not to sing well....but to have fun making an absolute tit of yourself with the added benefit of pretending to be a famous person.

So here is my list, I hope that it inspires some of you to go out and have - as Lucky Voice puts it - "most liberating, heart-racing, life-affirming ...experience on earth"....

Top 10 Karaoke Songs

1) Livin' on a Prayer - Bon Jovi....you know you want to, you know all the lyrics and you don't need the tight jeans or the hair to have an awesome time air-guitaring to this one. All together now "oooooh livin on a prayerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr"

2) Bad Romance - Lady Gaga...The lyrics of this song completely confound me, as does the random spot of french somewhere towards the end. Plus there's more ra-ra-ra-ing than Boney M could have ever dreamed of. Therefore it is HYSTERICAL singing along to this and pretending to the bacon-wearing lady monster.....luckily for you guys, there are no videos of me doing this.

3) Killing In The Name Of - Rage Against the Machine...I'm not sure fun is the right word here so much as abso-fuckin-lutely rocking awesome doing this one. The lyrics aren't hard and I have to say, yelling FUCK as loudly as possible into a microphone is very enjoyable. Pretending to be Zach de la Rocha - surprisingly good way of spending a saturday night.

4) Like A Virgin - Madonna...had to get a bit of ol' madge on this list, and it was a close call with Like a Prayer, but this one wins hands down for all the inventive dancing you can do whilst singing along to again, the totally bonkers lyrics (Lady Gaga clearly learned hers somewhere). The only thing missing is a lion and a wedding dress - they don't seem to be provided in the props boxes!

5) Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield...this is worth doing if you've got someone who can actually sing in your group. But even if you haven't it's fun pretending to be eyeliner-ed up to the max and belting this little number out.

6) I Would Do Anything For Love - Meatloaf...a surprising little entry this one but so much fun to sing as a duet. Nothing beats staring passionately into your best girlfriend's eyes, begging them to "hose me down with holy water/if I get too hot". I have a fabulous video of two good friends singing this one - but I've been banned from posting it on here. Needless to say it's definitely a go-er.

7) Alone - Heart....er,all I can say is that if you watched the video in yesterday's blog post, your ears might have bled...but it's fucking funny! And clearly an awesome karaoke track. 

8) It's Oh So Quiet - Bjork...what.a.frickin.giggle, is all I can say. Totally love doing this one - it's such a happy song and you get to act out the whole Bjork video. Plus the last time I did this one, the karaoke lyrics didn't say `shush` they said `sush` which after a couple of drinks seemed hysterically funny...maybe you had to be there!

9) The Bad Touch - Bloodhound Gang...unfortunately due to the hysterically dirty nature of the lyrics of this song, I can't sing it without collapsing into giggles every time. It's well worth it though - and you can get reeeeeeeal creative with the dancing to this one - er, `interpreting` the lyrics shall we say.

10) Sweet Child o'Mine - Guns N Roses....yeah ya knew it was coming. It *is* my favourite song after all - and it is the ultimate in air guitarring karaoke numbers. Oh yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh *makes devil horns*

So that's it - am aware that my tastes are quite....specific! So let me know yours - comment below, lets get some karaoke tune lists going. And maybe one time, I'll have Lucky Voice/blog party for anyone who can make it!

Thank you and good night,

Stupidgirl has left the building

16 Apr 2011

Fun with Leeds - a rather silly girlie weekend photo essay

(Advance warning, terrible video of me doing karaoke at the end)

So last weekend I went up to Leeds to see some very good friends of mine for a much planned and awaited weekend away with the....

The weekend commenced with an INCREDIBLY early trip to Kings Cross but as the sun was shining and we had our starbucks lattes, we definitely felt like we were on...

After arriving at Leeds, we spent some time in the sunshine admiring the view....

And gossiping and listening to some music....

We then headed back from the pub in the sun to make ourselves look pretty....

Before heading out for some food...

Now we were ready to rock...

15 Apr 2011

Becky's Book Review #1 - Kate's Wedding by Chrissie Manby

This is the first in a series of book reviews I hope to do on the blog - possibly alternating them with the weekly interviews....I'll be covering a range of genres, so even if you don't like tonight's genre, be sure to check back regularly for something more to your taste. And who knows - you might be persuaded to try something new.....so here we go, hope you like it..

Book: Kate's Wedding
Author: Chrissie Manby
Genre: Hmmmmm chick lit/women's fiction
Star Rating: 4/5

General Description
Kate Middleton isn't the only bride getting married on April 29th 2011, there's Diana, born in July 1981, running amok with Daddy's credit card, aiming to have the biggest and bestest wedding ever. And then there's 39 year old Kate, who never expected to get married and now finds herself planning for a wedding that seems to be spiralling out of control during one of the most stressful times in her life...

Perfectly timed to coincide with the Royal Wedding mania, this book shows all sides to wedding planning and the stress leading up to taking your vows. It's both funny and sad in equal measure - and introduces some characters that I'd love to have heard more from. Tapping into the wedding zeitgeist perfectly, this is one to read for those of us who are sick of the royal wedding, but love to hear about REAL (if fictional) weddings. Definitely one for the plane, train, car, bed or bath this easter holiday!

14 Apr 2011

Didn't You Get The Memo?...Top 10 Newbie Blogger Tips

So I thought I'd try something new on here. I'm not normally all that good with change but, after having a few days off and then coming back to a wonderful reception to my post last night, I wanted to give you guys some more (hopefully decent) content.

I try to give back and share as much as possible, so this post is about all the stuff I wish I'd known back in January. If you're an experienced blogger you'll probably know most of the below - but there might be some good links for you! After the tips there are also a couple of questions that I got asked earlier today about blogging. And remember, if you've got tips to share or other questions to ask please post them in the comments part.

Tip One - Don't expect to get it right first time.
This applies to content, blog layout, lots of followers, jargon, gadgets, the lot!
It took me a little while to tweak my blog layout to just how I wanted it and to add the gadgets I wanted. Not all of them are suitable when you're just starting out IMO anyway - I didn't want to set up a Facebook page in the first week, when about 2 people were reading my blog - and one of them was my mum. Make sure that when you do add gadgets they are relevant to your blog as well.
PS By gadget I mean the stuff on your blog that's not the actual writing - like top 10 posts, archives, pictures, links, blog rolls etc

Also take the time to figure stuff out in the early days - you probably won't have that many viewers, so it won't matter if you muck up a couple of times! There's so much helpful advice out there - take it. I would particularly recommend (as ever) Novel Publicity for their advice on blog layouts, using social media and how to set up FB pages. Check it out!

Be kind to yourself - there's no one watching you or judging you - your blog is your domain and what you say goes! Which brings me on to......

Tip Two - Be Yourself
Don't write for other people, write for you and what you're interested in. Easier said than done I know. I was really scared when I started blogging, I thought WTF am I doing this for (see here)  - there are so many bloody bloggers out there, yes really! but I kept going (see here) because wow, people started reading the blog - and commenting - and asking me stuff. So I realised that there was an audience for my writing and that other bloggers were not the enemy - we're all unique. So keep writing - someone out there will like it. I found it helpful to write a set of rules for the blog, to remind me - and my readers - what I was all about. And maybe it was a bit silly, but I wanted to have a little integrity on my blog - after all, I bare my soul on here to thousands of people, all over the world.

Tip Three - Play Nicely
Okay, repeat after me....Read...aaaaand SHARE. Read....aaaand SHARE
You know when someone sends you a funny link and you just have to share it? Well the same goes for blogging and links and cool websites. Share. A lot. All the time. This is kind of the point of blogrolls - a way of showing other blogs that you're into, but for me, I try to regularly do shout outs in my posts of cool sites, places I've been to, books/blogs I've read, music/films etc - you get the picture. It's about sharing the love. Also what you like doesn't have to be hugely popular. I love giving newbie bloggers a shout out on my blog - because established bloggers have done it for me. It's kind of pay-it-forward in blogging. On the plus side, if you do mention someone - let them know - sometimes they'll link to your blog on a tweet or even, their blog. However this is not the main reason to do this.

I also like to read + follow lots of other blogs - just because I am truly fascinated by other people. I read a wide assortment of blogs - from management to weddings to campaigning to writing to climbing....and I love it. I feed off this information. And it reminds me to stay true to what I do as well. So once again.....read...aaaand SHARE!

13 Apr 2011

Snapshot - Word of The Week

(Snapshot n.: A photograph taken with a small hand-held camera, an isolated observation Etym: also snap-shot, 1808, "a quick shot with a gun, without aim, at a fast-moving target;" photographic sense is attested from 1890.)

I know, I haven't blogged much over the last few weeks. As I said in last week's bumper post (here) real life keeps getting in the way - work is hectic. Then I decided to go to Leeds for the weekend to see some friends - and it broke me. As you might have guessed from my tweets and/or facebook, I'm sick. I have woman-flu. This differs from man-flu in that in spite of a full fever, not being able to hear, having razor blades in my throat and aching all over, I martyrously attempt to "work" before being told to go home sick. It also causes one to make up words - apparently `martyrously` is not a word. Sorry.

Anyway instead of a nice well thought out blog post, I thought I'd just give you a little snap shot of what's tickled me over the last couple of weeks. Kind of a cross between a list, an interview, and news aggregator. Besides, I already sent one email to my boss this morning - from my sick bed - that ended "Oh god, does that make *any* sense" - so it's best I don't try to think too hard.....

What I'm Reading:
Kate's Wedding - Chrissie Manby (review to come but 'tis awesome)
More To Life Than Shoes: How To Kickstart Your Career (also review to come but really inspiring)
To The Moon & Back - Jill Mansell (you'll need tissues for this one, it's lovely!)
Also to read in due course, The Killer Inside, The Passage, The Group, Money (Amis) and The English German Girl. But only when my brain is not so full of snot.

What I'm Listening To
Moby, Eva Cassidy, Neil Finn, Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, Bonnie Tyler, Jessie J, Starship, Blink-182, Nirvana, Weezer....
Oh And and and my friend's *awesome* band Two Trick Horse they're relatively new + gig in Leeds if you're around there. Definitely one to watch (well, listen...er, you know what I mean)

Websites + Blogs I've Discovered/Visited
Loves & Life of a London Girl (another dating blog....it's vicarious pleasure as I'm married!!)
The News With Nipples (writing/feminist/interesting stuff blog)
I Know, I Need To Stop Talking (funniest blog ever, about kids, mummies, wine, front bottoms)
Novel Publicity (advice for writers site, amazing social media tips)
Viadeo (social networking site, a little like LinkedIn, interesting + one to watch)
Social Glitz (awesome site/blog about social media/networking - great advice)

New People I've Followed on Twitter
@markborkowski @mashable @queenofshops @stefanstern @the3rdgirl @NaomiAKlein @sophiehannahCB1 @sourcerkelly @antoniaharler @james_rowe 

8 Apr 2011

Fun with Flirting - A photo essay from the Lucky Voice speed duetting evening!

I tell you, it's a damn tough life being a blogger. Seriously, beavering away at a hot keyboard, trying to think of witty, entertaining post material so that readers will hang off your every word. It's at times like this that you wonder why you bother....oh! wait a second.... I do this for fun...I have a regular job :P

But, in the name of blogging, the amazing folks over at Lucky Voice invited me to come along to a recent speed-duetting event! In case you don't know I've gotten to blog for them before - my top 7 first date karaoke tunes can be found here. I love a bit of karaoke - and am going away this weekend to do just that - I'll be posting my top 10 karaoke tunes on sunday night ....

Anyway the event was held with the dating site MySingleFriend.com (providing the single people) and also rather excitingly with lovely people over at Glee 'cause the new glee dvd is out. The Lucky Voice bar was crammed with beautiful people when I got there and straightaway I knew this would be a night to remember

When I told people I'd be blogging about a speed-duetting event, most people were a bit WTF is that all about but judging from the reaction on the night, it's a sure fire way to date *and* have a laugh - could this be the next big thing on the dating scene?

As well as being *forced* to sing Jessie J's Do It Like A Dude....I loved living vicariously through other people's love lives :P and the speed duetting was fabulous - and here are some pics to prove it. I challenge you not to smile looking at this little lot....and check out the sing off videos at the end of the pics :)

And as promised, here are a couple of videos from the sing off - I think you'll agree that they made cute couples!

That's all for now folks, I'll be back on sunday.

Thank you and good night,

Stupidgirl has left the building

7 Apr 2011

A Bumper List Post - 30 Day Song Challenge

Okay so this is a list (30 songs) and a WoTW (music) and a general ramble post all rolled into one. Which is to apologise for the serious lack of blogging over the last few days - bloody real life got in the way. And that little thing called work - gah! 
Anyway I hope you lovely folks out there - and in fact all over the world - are well. Special hello to the lovely people who follow this blog in Israel, Japan, UAE, South Korea + India. Am honoured that you like my ramblings!

So here it is, my 30 day song challenge post. In case you don't have a bloody clue what I'm on about, I think you'll find it's pretty self explanatory. Each day last month I had to pick a specific song that reminded me of something. If you're finding this explanation as clear as mud, just read on.....

WARNING - this is a long post....

Thirty Day Song Challenge:

Day 01 - My Favorite Song: U2 - Where The Streets Have No Name. Just so beautiful. I love it so very much.If you watch the vid, the song starts around 2:30 in.

Day 02 - My Least Favorite Song: All Saints cover of Under the Bridge. Just. So.Wrong.

Day 03 - A Song That Makes Me Happy: Guns'n'Roses - Sweet Child of Mine. As I have blogged before, this song is fucking awesome. It just is. And I think Axl's fit. Sorry about that!

Day 04 - A Song That Makes You Sad: Corinne Bailey Rae – Just Like A Star. This song makes me tear up a lot. It reminds me of when my grandmother died after being ill with cancer. It's such a beautiful song and the lyrics are very poignant.

Day 05 - A Song That Reminds Me of Someone: Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart. This reminds me of several someones but speshly the Wine Wharf ladies, you know who you are!

Day 06 - A Song That Reminds You of Somewhere: Richard Marx - Right Here Waiting. When I was little we drove down the west coast of the US from San Fran to San Diego and this song was CONSTANTLY on the radio. Reminds me of sunshine and blue sea :)

Day 07 - A Song That Reminds Me of A Certain Event: Planet Perfecto - Bullet In The Gun. Not a certain event per se, but the first year of university certainly. I felt like a bullet out of a gun. And slightly out of control.

Day 08 - A Song That I Know All The Words To: Madonna - Like A Virgin. Oh and I LOVE her outfit in this video. NOT the wedding dress, the electric blue leggings bit. I modelled my hen night outfit on this!!!

Day 09 - A Song That I Can Dance To: Jessie J - Do It Like A Dude/ La Gaga - Bad Romance. Bit current I know, but wanted to mix it up a little. These are sure to get me straight on the dance floor. Even if that dancefloor is my kitchen....Oh and I'm not entirely sure what a mandem is....

Day 10 - A Song That Makes Me Fall Asleep: REM - Nightswimming. A very lovely, very calming, very melancholy song. But it's lovely. And husbando likes it too :)

2 Apr 2011

Fun with Climbing - A Guest Photo Essay from Gaz Parry

Hey everyone, happy weekend! Hope you're having a great one. If you didn't catch yesterday's interview it's here, and it was with SIX time British climbing champ, Gaz Parry! Amazingly Gaz kindly submitted to my request that he also do a photo essay. So here you go!

Great memories from competitions. My first international podium. 3rd at Birmingham in the World Cup and in front of a home crowd.

The first time I ever sport climbed abroad was here, Buoux in France. 15 years later I returned to climb this classic route, Chouca.

My first expedition took me to Greenland. We climbed the World’s highest sea cliff. The Devils Thumbnail 4490ft. Sadly my friend and team member Mathew was killed in an abseil accident.

Another expedition to Madagascar. This is climbing near Diego Saurez in the north of the island. An area called Montagne Francais in reference to Madagascars French Colonial past.

Madagascan children prepare the days rice at 6am in the Tsaranoro valley.

The last climb of my Madagascar trip. A first ascent of the hardest route at the time in Mada. Naufrages Du Rhum.

France again doing what I enjoy. Hanging out in holes in the Ariege valley of Southern France

My 2008 expedition took me to Pakistan in an attempt to climb Trango Tower. Bad weather meant we didn’t make the summit, but an amazing trip was had by all.

France again. This time Christmas Day near Briancon. Climbing in the morning and snowboarding in the afternoon. We were on our way to Spain.

Our new home in Spain, we came for a few months at the end of 2008, bought a house and are still here.

Outside our front door with Kate, Joseph the horse and Blackie the cat. We have another 3 cats and numerous dogs

 Sandi Sox. Our first dog and our absolute pride and joy. She was only with us for a year, the memories she left are amazing, sadly she died last month. It has been the saddest month of my life. We now have another Spanish Podengo. We rescued Morgana after she spent 8 years in the Kennels. She now lives happily in an armchair.

Thanks Gaz, that was awesome!

I'll be back tomorrow with my top 10 songs to write to and lots more stuff coming up in the week.

Thank you and goodnight

Stupidgirl has left the building

1 Apr 2011

This Much I Know Is True - An Interview With Gaz

Tonight’s interview is in a rather special location and has a rather special guest! As some/most of you know, I do a fair bit of indoor rock climbing with my husband. Recently husbando has been training for a trip to Spain under the auspices of a rather exciting climbing coach Gaz Parry.

Gaz has won the British Climbing Championships SIX times, he is on the British Climbing team and has climbed the world’s highest sea cliff! He is also a climbing coach, lecturer and currently resides in Spain with his girlfriend Kate where they run Epic Adventures – a climbing and Adventure Company.

During one of Gaz’s many trips back to the UK to route set* for various climbing walls, I was honoured to interview him at The Castle, an indoor climbing centre in North London. So, Gaz is eating a pot noodle and I am eating a piece of yummy chocolate tiffin and drinking a smoothie – we are also, briefly, joined by women’s climbing champion Leah Crane. I am, needless to say, a little star-struck by both. This interview is a little different and I hope you enjoy it….on with the show!
Me: Firstly, thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be interviewed. As with all the interviews, I always start with a tough question! Could you tell us what the best piece of advice you've received is?
GP: Hmmm that’s a tough question! Probably “don’t do as I do, do as I say" my dad circa mid 1980s!

Me: Hah, such a parental thing to say!! Can you tell us a bit about how you got into climbing?
GP: Well I was always quite sporty – played a bit of rugby – but I started climbing when I was12. I’d done a fair bit of walking and hiking with my dad so it just stemmed from there really. I never climbed with my dad mind it was with my mates from school.

Me: And, although you’re a professional climber/coach now, did you study/have a career before that?
GP: I left school when I was 17 - I just wasn’t in the right place to study at that point, I just wanted to have fun and climb. I went back to college when I was 26 to study Countryside Management – it covered stuff like lambing and building walls and also business theory. I really enjoyed the combination of learning and also getting my hands dirty as it were.

Then I worked as a sales rep for North Face - I enjoyed it, getting out and meeting people – although presenting to senior management at a major account can be a little nerve-wracking! The company went through a few changes – being bought out etc and I just decided one day to resign. My obsession with climbing was pretty much taking over my life anyway – I was doing a lot of competing!

Me: Tell us a little bit about competing and how you focus/prepare for them – was it harder when you were younger?
GP: Focus is a combination of the physical + mental. I don’t think about other people/competitors– it’s all about getting into the `zone` as you hear many athletes talking about. Getting into the `zone` is not something that can be taught, it is individual and takes discipline to learn to do it. When I was younger it didn’t come so easily but now I can slip into it without effort.

Also with climbing there are so many variables to take into account – you can be at your strongest but you also need to be able to problem solve + route read. For example in 2007 I was very strong + fit but just before the European Climbing Championships, all the skin fell off my hands The fresh new skin was impossible to climb with – and yet nothing I did could have prepared for that.

Me: That must have been frustrating. I’d love to know - does anything scare you at all – rock climbing can be seen as an extreme sport?
GP: Not inside on plastic but outside yes, of course - heights can be dangerous and scary it’s all about getting to be familiar with an alien environment, and learning to trust yourself and your rope work/safety skills and developing a mindset to go with that.

Having said that, on one occasion I was competing in a major championship and my head just completely went and it was very scary then. Had a total meltdown in terms of being in the zone and being focussed – having the mental strength to climb is important to combat the fear.