Bums In Saddles

This evening I tore myself away from a sunny beer garden, good friends and the first bout of non rainy good weather we’ve had in FOREVER, voluntarily clad myself in lycra and cycled like a mentalist in the HOTTEST ROOM IN THE WORLD whilst wondering what on earth was possessing me. I pushed myself to my limit, and found myself alternating between wanting to die, doing sicky burps and thinking of my friend Jamie and the rest of the Chain Reaction Cycles One Day Ahead project.

Being an altruistic lot with the requisite screws loose (you’ll see why they need those as you read on), Jamie and a few friends wanted to do something to raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research UK and the Ben Trend Foundation. Not content with doing things by halves, they hit on the idea of cycling the entire Tour de France… All 3,749km of it. Gulp. Add to that approximately 200 pro riders bearing down on them as they attempt to stay one day ahead of the main peloton and it all adds up to a serious challenge.

There was I whinging about having my bum in the saddle for 45 minutes when Jamie and the rest of the gang are on day 6 of their Tour de France challenge, with 1227km already covered and a whopping 2,522km left to go. I was pedalling away imagining Jamie and his silky smooth legs (something to do with aerodynamics apparently) going round and round and round for 23 days of bike based slogging. Mental. By the end of my class I felt quite sprightly and had a little spring in my step, I only hope the One Day Ahead team spirits are as high as the finish line slowly but surely looms into view.

To read more about the Chain Reaction Cycles One Day Ahead project visit One Day Ahead
To sponsor the team from the comfort of your sofa as they slog it out in the saddle visit Virgin Money Giving
To send them some encouragement, check in on their progress and see them give route tips to Mark Cavendish, drop in on their Twitter @LeTour1DayAhead


Talonted is Talented

I’m a secret nail art fan even though I’m as cack handed as they come and can just about manage to paint my own nails without going all over the lines. I love the bright colours, intricate and crazy designs some people sport however I prefer to stick to muted colours with the odd red or bit of glitter thrown in sometimes. I’m always looking for ways to indulge my secret love which is why it’s a good thing that the super talented Lex came into my life via Twitter because man alive, she gives good nail!

She regularly updates her blog Talonted with the latest design she’s rocking and I’ve put a selection of my favourites below but really you need to head over to her site to see her entire portfolio.

How Cath Kidston kitsch cool are these?
Busy busy bumblebee...
Autumn leaves
In a galaxy far far away...
How much love for these loved up nails?

The best thing about Lex’s love of and talent for nail art is that she has recently started a service whereby you can request your own acrylic nail extensions painted to your own specifications. If you have a design you want Lex to work her magic on, head over to the Talonted Facebook page where for a mere £10 you can have your own personalised extensions. A bargain!

Guest Blogger: Benjamin, I Can Handle It

Upon noticing that Ally had decided to take on some guest bloggers I had a dilemma. I really wanted to write something, as I am a huge fan of the very page that these words are displayed on, but I instantly thought – how can I compare?

Luckily, this gave me an idea – I’ve decided to write a short piece on giving yourself the opportunity to handle whatever comes your way.

I first came across the notion of letting yourself handle anything and everything in Susan Jeffers celebrated book Feel the Fear and do it Anyway.
Like many similar books, I feel at two-hundred pages it is too long. However, I did take away one clear message from the book, the notion that:


Such a simple sentence, but it has been incredibly effective. I put the idea into practice straight away. Whenever an awkward situation came up at work or within any given social event, one where perhaps I didn’t feel completely qualified to deal with it, or indeed failure to do the task well would resolve in harsh disciplinary action, I would just say to myself: I CAN HANDLE IT.

You’re thinking in the present tense. I CAN HANDLE IT. It’s affirmative. Much like when athletes visualise running across the finish line first, the visualisation process is a lot more effective when they associate the image – they look at the image through their own eyes, rather than watching them win the race through the eyes of a stranger.
By telling yourself you CAN handle any given situation you are sending a message to your brain telling it to buck its ideas up, because failure is not an option!

When I was a teenager, full of angst, hatred for the world, and indeed cider, every so often, when I looked upon my painful and dreadful life I would think to myself “Actually, if I just act like everything is okay I feel a whole lot better”. Obviously everything was okay – but at that age everybody’s against you – especially yourself.
These periods of “Acting like everything is okay” didn’t last long, but I realise now that this was a form of the “I can handle it” notion.

We all have it within us to handle any given situation, and more importantly, feel confident in doing so. This is much the reason why I read Ally’s blog in the first place. She can handle it, and she knows it.

So without sounding too much like an overpaid therapist, I advise you to, just for today, say “I CAN HANDLE IT” when a situation arises that you would normally stray away from. An awkward call at work, an irate customer in a shop, or a project that seems just too big to start. Whenever you confront a situation that makes you feel in over your head, just say to yourself I CAN HANDLE IT, and leave the rest to you.

For more from the wonderful Benjamin scoot on over to http://benjaminspall.com – Huge apologies to Benjamin for being an idiot and forgetting to post this on Saturday!

Guest Blogger: Edward on the art of ‘The Wedding’…

My good friend, Long Tall Ally recently asked if I’d like to write a guest blog for her readers covering my views on my impending nuptials. By nature, I’ve never been one to hold back on offering an opinion, least of all to a captive audience and thus here we are; you the obedient reader and me the overwhelmed writer.

I’m definitely a traditional romantic. Having drugged her Dad and taken pictures of him in compromising positions with a fully gimped midget in order to blackmail him for his permission, I proceeded to plant the seeds in her mind that I wasn’t ready for marriage and didn’t agree with it just to throw her off the scent. The tears and bag packing suggest that I perhaps went a bit far when I queried “Why in the blue hell would I want to marry a big ugly moose like you?!”, but it was all worth it to see her face when I proposed on a gondola in Venice. Lots of tears later, I was an engaged man wiping his eyes dry. It was a happy day for all as we rushed back to the hotel and rang everybody we knew to tell them the good news. In retrospect I think Katie’s milkman was a little surprised to get the call as was the cash assistant from my local garage, but we just wanted to share our joy with the rest of the world.

I told several close mates of my plans and they all gave a beautifully stereotypical view on my decision. “Why do you want to get married at 26 you loser? You’ll never get to shag another bird again…” was the generally misogynistic consensus; clearly none of them are Premiership footballers… I used the old cliché “Why would I want to eat a burger out when I can have steak at home?”. One of my mates then quite beautifully, and in perfectly keeping with the ongoing metaphor, explained that “Sometimes you are out, you’re hungry and you can’t be bothered to go home and cook something up from nothing”. My argument that “burgers are bad for you though and lead to heart disease” seemed to fall on deaf ears and even I had gotten somewhat lost in the metaphor. I suppose my friends just didn’t get it – perhaps they hadn’t had that perfectly cooked and seasoned bit of steak that I’d been ‘tucking into’ for the past couple of years, or maybe they just preferred a three course meal? The various food based metaphors will now cease – as a metrosexual male I don’t even particularly like steak – I’m more into seared scallops and dauphinoise potatoes.

I consider that modern girls are of the ‘Hello Generation’, the only weddings they are really exposed to are the ones they see in Hello magazine – an outrageous celebrity affair with full size nude ice sculptures, juggling elephants and wedding dresses with enough material to clothe the entire African continent. As such a marriage in a registry office with a few close family and friends followed by a posh meal in a private function room of a restaurant simply doesn’t cut the mustard and fulfil the dreams of a mega wedding. The problem facing us was that our modest budget was suited to the small intimate wedding; my fiancée had grander ideas however.

Due to massive families our modest and affordable aim of 50 people escalated to nearly 100 people – and that was just for the service, we had even more for the reception. As a control freak I was hugely uncomfortable that this was becoming unmanageable…my custom made ‘Ed’s Wedding Spreadsheet’ couldn’t cope with the numbers involved. How could we possibly have our wedding without inviting my incontinent, cross dressing, vegan Uncle Alf? Apparently “Quite easily – I’ve managed having not seen him since I was 4 years old” was not the correct answer to keep the parents’ happy.

We decided to write down what was most important to us so that we could cut costs; the art of compromise in action meant that to accommodate Katie’s desired dress budget, us paying for her three bridesmaids to be beautified was scrapped and my insistence on a veritable banquet at the wedding breakfast meant that arriving by helicopter flanked by Playboy bunnies was no longer an option. Fortunately we both scored the cake very low on our wish list – neither of us had any intention of paying the extortionate fees we’d seen around so we decided on a standard M&S cake which we’d decorate, or rather ask someone with better hand eye coordination to sort. To further cut costs, Katie asked her family friend to drive her in his posh car, we decided to make our invites ourselves and a friend of mine blagged us one of the ‘Hello’ magazine photographers for us at an outrageously low rate, all of which finally bought us back on budget.

I guess what I’ve learnt is that planning a wedding is no different to the rest of a relationship. It’s all about communication and compromise and if you work together; everything works much better. I’m still trying to convince her to let me have at least one Playboy bunny though….

Editor’s Note: Ed is a talented musician and producer, check out his website http://www.edjamesmusic.com or check him out on Twitter @edjamesmusic

Guest Blogger: Lorns Little Ramble…

An avid reader of this blog, it is great to be able to have the opportunity to appear as a guest writer. It almost makes me feel famous!…

When invited to do this, I thought long and hard about what I could say. How could I match up to the satirical wit that is our Long Tall Ally? I mean, Short, squat Lorns doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

However, the way I see it, we all have our very own ‘tales from the scales’. For me, it’s been a lifelong battle, I am like Oprah, but without the TV show and huge salary.

I worked out tonight that in my life I have been on 37 diets. I remember once just eating hot dogs out of a tin with a side of beetroot. I have joined Slimming World, Weight Watchers, and Rosemary what’s her face, and once even went to a dance class at Pineapple Dance Studio. It was mirrored, I was in hell, enough said. So 37 diets, which is one diet a year for the whole of my life! Even my recent dalliance with breast cancer made me wonder if somehow, as a fringe benefit, I could lose some of the chubb. Instead though, all I got was ‘ROID RAGE’ – pumped full of steroids which made the water sit on the fat and make me look even more like a sumo wrestler, but at least this time round, I really didn’t care as it meant I was getting better right? Woo hoo.

Yeah, so I mentioned the breast cancer then? Also known as boobie C, bad boobie, bastard boobie and boobies with attitude. Being diagnosed with this put everything into perspective. It suddenly makes you realise that life is happening whilst worrying about the size of your arse. I had a bigger fear, a bigger worry. It seems extreme but the day I was diagnosed I remember saying ‘Dear God, I will never bitch about myself or anyone again as long as I am OK’. Seriously though, the joker upstairs realised that this could never be the case and so a boobie chop was on the cards, along with chemo and radio gaga and more of the same. Lather rinse repeat…

I realise this isn’t a laugh a minute post, but I have never actually written about this in this way before. I am not even sure you will end up reading it. Cancer suddenly threw any worry about my big hips, my massive boobs, and my chubby arms into perspective. They may have been chubby but they were mine! I would even go as far to say that I now embrace the curves, I look forward to my breast reconstruction, I get excited about my hair growing, I love life again. I love myself at last. It’s a shame it took cancer to do that, but salvation comes in many shapes and forms.

I just read this out to D. The man who has been at my side throughout my illness. He has just told me that he doesn’t see ‘any of that’ – when he looks at me, he just sees me. That’s pretty cool eh.

I am not saying that I will never moan about my chubbiness again, that never will I look longingly at the low cut number in Reiss and wail ‘IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME’, but what I have now is perspective, family, friends, and hope.

Indeed, it seems the future is peachy – or maybe that’s just my arse?