Don’t Look Down

I didn’t watch it because I have a fear of heights that makes the mere thought of being stood on something as insignificant as a kick stool makes me want to cry however if my Twitter timeline was anything to go by, flipping loads of you did. I’m talking of course about the Channel 4 documentary, ‘Don’t Look Down’ about local Southampton Spiderman, James Kingston, scaling the highest heights without any safety equipment.

I remember the day he first came to my attention as I distinctly remember announcing to the office that ‘some dick’ had free climbed the crane in Ocean Village, ‘yes’ I said, ‘that massive behemoth that dominates the skyline outside Tesco’, ‘yes, free climbed as in no ropes, no harnesses, no PPE!’ I exclaimed. PPE being ever the watchword in these parts you’ll understand. ‘What a prick’ was my summing up of the situation.

I drove in to work the day after the documentary and found myself queueing in traffic past the Northam gas works which James has also scaled and I could see people around me pointing, gawping at the sheer size of it, and wondering how on earth he came to be at the top.

An unexpectedly beautiful picture snapped out of my car window whilst sat at the lights.
An unexpectedly beautiful picture snapped out of my car window whilst sat at the lights.

My stomach was doing somersaults and I was glad when the lights changed and I could drive on because if I’d stayed there any longer I’d probably have been sick. I had a similar reaction when the gas works loomed in to view on my way home as well. It’s funny how things change though.

Driving to work yesterday after hearing some tragic news I was brimming over with tears and emotions and found myself yet again queueing to go past the gas works, only this time I saw it with fresh eyes. Yes it’s still an incredibly irresponsible thing to be doing, and I pray to God that nobody copies him or that anyone attempting to rescue him (God forbid he should need rescuing) comes to any harm but it’s his choice to do it. It’s his choice to make the judgement call that climbing up these structures is more important than thinking about the risk of something going wrong and of those he’d leave behind, however putting that aside for a moment…

I can’t get the image of him standing at the top of the gas works out of my head. The air looks so still around him and in that moment he must have felt invincible. Perhaps it’s because it’s an image that we so rarely see of the busy, noisy, smelly city that I live in that’s got me thinking about it so much. Perhaps it’s because yesterday morning, when life seemed so futile and fragile, I’d have given anything to feel invincible, even for a moment.

Review: The Black Bottle, Winchester

Almost this time last year the lovely J-Swizz asked me if I’d help celebrate the occasion of her birth at a self-service wine bar in Winchester and I’ll admit I was dubious. J-Swizzer is a fan of culture and fine establishments but also loves hot heavy beats and dancing like a mentalist – my thoughts turned to a Yates’ Wine Lodge affair with frenetic music and vending machines dispensing WKD Blue, Stella Artois and prescriptions for Chlamydia.

I literally couldn’t have been more wrong. So when it came to arranging a birthday celebration of my own with the Thunderbirds there was only one place I wanted to go.

The Black Bottle looks pretty unassuming from the outside, the black slightly foreboding frontage belying what’s going on inside. Entering through the side door you step immediately into the bar where you’re greeted like an old friend by the bar staff before being given a Black Bottle card and asked how much you’d like to load on to it. The place looks like a quirky little cottage all cosy and welcoming with the wines divided into different rooms – a red room and a white/rose room both upstairs and down. It’s easy to grab a table and then start exploring the wines on offer which are dispensed by the glass from the discreet machines on the wall. You can buy a 25ml taster, a 125ml small glass or go all out and have a 175ml large depending on your preference.

One of the boys in our group played it safe and did taster glasses of pretty much every red on offer whereas yours truly played wine roulette and took the plunge with large glasses, just hoping I wasn’t going to pick something I didn’t like. My friend Harold is a bit of a wine connoisseur and so grabbed a menu and made suggestions for people to try but if you don’t have a Harold in your friendship group then the staff are knowledgeable and friendly and always happy to recommend a tipple or two. We ordered a couple of charcuterie platters that came with manchego and breadsticks to fill up some rumbling tummys and spent the evening laughing, chatting and drinking – total bliss.

I had a lovely night with some of my favourite people and can’t recommend the Black Bottle highly enough. It’s great for a drinks occasion with a group of friends, and would be brilliant for a date with a special someone, if you’re in the area you really should check it out. Their website is http://theblackbottle.co.uk and they run regular wine (and yummy cheese!) tasting events.

Peptac and Pep Talks

Tuesday morning began dark and early with a double shot of Peptac and a pep talk from Barney as I toddled off to the station to go to my first work based networky event. I had meetings lined up with potential new suppliers and a glitzy party to attend and was going in off the back of two nights lying awake stressing and feeling sick with reflux dramas again. Not the best start you’ll have to agree.

So I went, I saw, I started small, en route to feeling like I could conquer by having a chat with a man about some water filters before building up to the big stuff like indemnities, RFP’s, duty of care and malaria. By the time I’d gone through my scheduled appointments I was feeling on a roll and skipped off back to my hotel Rydges Kensington (positively lush) for a little power nap pre-party. The bed in my room was so wide it took two roll overs to get from one side to the other, although it took me doing three roll overs and ending up on the floor to calculate that… I woke up still feeling a bit ropey but had to put on my big girl panties and get down to reception for our transfer to Madame Tussaud’s for the shindig. Having shrieked with fright at the show when a human statue tapped me on the shoulder mid meeting, it’s fair to say I was a bit (a lot) freaked out by the idea of being surrounded by waxworks, particularly Amitabh Bachchan who looked freaky as FUCK. The Amadeus angels were bringing round G&T’s and V&T’s and the iPhones were out in full swing as people were snapping away.

I was impressed by Kate Winslet,

Great rack...
Great rack…

Blown away by Judi Dench,

To be fair, I saw her from across the room so didn't see the plastic fantastic hands!
To be fair, I saw her from across the room so didn’t see the plastic fantastic hands until I got closer!

FREAKED OUT by Justin Bieber – sooooo girly!

This is all shades of wrong, right?
This is all shades of wrong, right?

And a little bit sad to see Princess Diana tucked away in a darkened corner away from everyone else. I didn’t know a soul at the party so was really grateful when one of the suppliers I’d been talking to came and took me under his wing before chastising me for grabbing a wine and an iced water from the free bar. Having offered to get me a drink from the bar, when he found out I wanted a water he, as a Scotsman, took much chagrin and told me to get my own drink – the cheeky fecker! It felt a bit naughty being in the building after hours and being able to get properly up close and personal with the waxworks (Oh poor Johnny Wilkinson in his ball kicking thumbs out measuring pose that makes him look like he’s begging to be bummed). There were those of us who were sensible (boring?) and nursed a couple of glasses of wine over the course of the evening, those of us who got stuck in on the beers but managed to call it a night just in time (the Scotsman) and finally there was the shaded lady…

She was absolutely bollixed beyond all belief. Wearing sunglasses at night indoors and being unable to stand upright without swaying is normally a good sign that you’re a bit lubricated. Standing underneath Tom Daley’s waxwork swaying gently whilst going ‘wooooo’ at the simulated swimming pool at half past eight at night still wearing sunglasses is normally a good sign that it might be time to switch to water.

We were impressed by his armpit hair!
We were impressed by his armpit hair!

Bimbling down the stairs before bumping into this guy:

Jonah Lomu, beefy and beauts.
Jonah Lomu, beefy and beauts.

and then proceeding to rant at him for getting in your way because you fail to realise he is in fact, a waxwork, is a sign it’s time to get in a cab and head home to bed. I was convinced she was going to pass out behind a waxwork and get locked in for the night so I had a quiet word with the cloakroom lady on the way out. When she asked for a description so she could keep an eye out, I just said “sunglasses, absolutely shitfaced”. I’m so classy.

The next morning at the exhibition I was joined by a colleague and we were both really chuffed to stumble across the massage stand, a cheeky shoulder massage and we felt ready to face the day. Meetings done we headed for the tube hopping on at West Brompton however even though we coordinate international travel on a daily basis, lovely colleague and I still managed to get lost and ended up right back where we started at Earl’s Court on the platform wheezing with laughter as we were so completely disorientated. We eventually managed to get ourselves back to Waterloo and on a train heading in the right direction and by the time I got home even though my bed is small and a bit lumpy I’ve never felt more grateful to sink into it and pull the covers over my head…

Review: Energise You by Oliver Gray

2012 was all about a Mr Grey for a lot of women, and I think 2013 is shaping up to be all about another Mr Gray and not just for the fairer sex… Oliver Gray, ex tennis player and personal trainer, and Managing Director and founder of energiseYou has recently released his book ‘Energise You’, the ‘ultimate health and energy plan’ and as soon as the book landed on my doorstep I couldn’t resist curling up on the sofa armed with a green highlighter and diving in.

The book has seven chapters that centre on the seven key elements that impact most on you and your well-being – Mind Management, Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise, Computer Use, Re-Energise and the doozy, Work-Life Balance. Before I knew it I’d read the book from cover to cover and was logging on the energiseYou website in order to take their on-line energy check to see where I was most deficient before putting my head back into the book for a second slower read and the chance to think about applying the knowledge to my life.

The way the information is laid out and broken down makes it far more manageable than other ‘self help’ books I’ve read and there were quite a few eureka moments where it was like Oliver had de-cluttered a tiny part of the fog inside my brain. Since reading it, it’s like I’ve had nuggets of wisdom implanted in my noggin that pop up when I least expect them and point me in the right direction, such as putting down my phone, iPad and laptop for at least an hour before going to bed in order to help myself get to sleep. Sounds simple doesn’t it? And yet it had never occurred to me until I was sent this book.

I’ve been using Oliver’s book for a couple of weeks now and apart from last night when I had the worst night’s sleep since records began, I’ve noticed a marked improvement in my energy and in my sleep quality. I’m going to give it three months of implementing the changes suggested in the sleep and re-energise chapters and then take the on-line energy test again to see how I do before moving on to some of the other areas in an attempt to gain some balance.

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to get a bit of pizazz back in their life, for £7.99 you can’t really go wrong and if you’re anything like me you’ll be dipping in and out of it and sharing tips with all your friends. It’s available online at http://www.energiseyou.com/book and there is a Kindle version on Amazon at £4.19.

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