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Highs and Lows

October 3rd, 2012

Well, it’s definately been a week of highs and lows this week! The high was filming for South Africa’s very prestigious ‘Top Billing’ show. I was really looking forward to it as I’d worked with the team before on the ‘Expresso’ show and know what fun they can be. The shoot went really well and I got to do an exercise session and talk fitness tips with the delightful and extremely professional Johnathan Boynton-Lee. Johnathan won a competition to find a new presenter for the show and it’s easy to see why he won. It was also a privilege to be working again with the lovely Liezel (Giraffe) vd Westhuizen although it’s never a good confidence boost standing next to someone who’s legs finish where your armpits start! The programme is due to air next week and I can’t wait to see what it looks like on the big screen.

The low was a truely horrible Sophie Scare! As many of you may know, my lovely old Lab Sophie has cancer and we’ve been living on borrowed time with her for a while now so when I came across her lying on the floor in obvious pain and discomfort I naturally feared the worst. I heaved her into the car (not an easy task I can tell you!) and rushed her round to the vets where I made a complete show of myself by lying down beside her on the floor of the waiting room and howling my eyes out! Everyone was incredibly kind and not at all British for once, they handed me tissues and a couple of people even joined in with my tear-fest! Eventually they managed to prise me away from her but not before I’d given her once last farewell hug.

That night I prepared the children for the fact that Sophie probably wouldn’t be coming home again and we waited with dread for the vet’s phone call. When it came, it was good news – Sophie had made it through the night and seemed to be getting better! It’s a week on now and she’s completely back to normal (ie eating us out of house and home), I can only assume that it was in fact something she ate and living in the middle of a farm as we do it could have been anything!!

Something rather lovely has come out of this episode – Benson now seems to realise what Sophie means to him and has been giving her extra doggy kisses and cuddles, even as I write this they are lying entwined together on their dog bed – so sweet!

Well, it’s definately been a week of highs and lows this week! The high was filming for South Africa’s very prestigious ‘Top Billing’ show. I was really looking forward to it as I’d worked with the team before on the ‘Expresso’ show and know what fun they can be. The shoot went really well and I got to do an exercise session and talk fitness tips with the delightful and extremely professional Johnathan Boynton-Lee. Johnathan won a competition to find a new presenter for the show and it’s easy to see why he won. It was also a privilege to be working again with the lovely Liezel (Giraffe) vd Westhuizen although it’s never a good confidence boost standing next to someone who’s legs finish where your armpits start! The programme is due to air next week and I can’t wait to see what it looks like on the big screen.

The low was a truely horrible Sophie Scare! As many of you may know, my lovely old Lab Sophie has a few problems and we’ve been living on borrowed time with her for a while now so when I came across her lying on the floor in obvious pain and discomfort I naturally feared the worst. I heaved her into the car (not an easy task I can tell you!) and rushed her round to the vets where I made a complete show of myself by lying down beside her on the floor of the waiting room and howling my eyes out! Everyone was incredibly kind and not at all British for once, they handed me tissues and a couple of people even joined in with my tear-fest! Eventually they managed to prise me away from her but not before I’d given her once last farewell hug.

That night I prepared the children for the fact that Sophie probably wouldn’t be coming home again and we waited with dread for the vet’s phone call. When it came, it was good news – Sophie had made it through the night and seemed to be getting better! It’s a week on now and she’s completely back to normal (ie eating us out of house and home), I can only assume that it was in fact something she ate and living in the middle of a farm as we do it could have been anything!!

Something rather lovely has come out of this episode – Benson now seems to realise what Sophie means to him and has been giving her extra doggy kisses and cuddles, even as I write this they are lying entwined together on their dog bed :)

I’m very happy to report that last week’s wedding went off without a hitch – my hair and ‘very green’ dress were fine in the end and I didn’t embarrass myself – apart from when my stiletto heels kept sinking into the soft lawn pitching me backwards mid conversation – not particularly classy!

This week has been very exciting as I’ve started ‘Cross Fit’ and after three sessions so far I’m loving it! At the moment I’m still learning the technique (a combination of sprinting, rowing, skipping and climbing etc combined with barbells, pull-up bars, kettlebells and a range of bodyweight exercises). Once I’ve mastered the techinique I’ll be able to go to classes and I can’t wait. What I love about the concept is the fact that the huge variety of exercises changes every time so there’s no opportunity to get bored. I also love that I’m being taught in a class, this is quite rare for me and a valuable experience – it also gave me an opportunity to wear all my lovely new Reebok kit in public! Interestingly despite it being class taught each person is only competing with themselves so it’s perfect for all abilities and those lacking in confidence.

I’ve also discovered that the philosphy behind ‘Cross Fit’ is actually very similar to my own and to the NIVEA ‘On the Go’ programme and that the new things I’m learning will compliment and enhance the programme further. I’ve certainly come away from it with inspiration for new short routines and can’t wait to try them out.

It’s also fired me up to hold some more Booty Camps. After the last one I had a lot of feedback from women that would like to bring their partner to the next one so I’m considering the idea of Saturday Booty Camps – watch this space!

Gary the Greyhound is no longer with us – after much deliberation and heart searching we all decided that it would be better for him if he lived with other Greyhounds in a house dedicated to his particular needs and happily I can report that he is now has a wonderful new home in Tunbridge Wells with another Greyhound called Danny. We can go and see him whenever we want and have regular updates so we know that he’s very happy and settled. I can look back now and think how grateful I am that Gary came to OUR door for help – I’ve since discovered that he’d been to many of our former neighbours without success. I’d like to take the opportunity of thanking the Kent Greyhound Rescue organisation for all their help and support during this time. Their website is: www.KentGreyhoundRescue.com

As you may have guessed, this Geordie lass is not particularly girly and when a wedding invitation arrives, the initial feeling of excitement is usually followed by a panic attack about what to wear. I have to confess that I go into denial until the week of the actual wedding and then rush around at the last minute trying to throw something together – and true to form that’s the situation I find myself in today!

The wedding is this weekend and after forcing myself to go shopping yesterday for a dress and a sort of ‘fascinator / mini hat thingy’(are these in or out?) I also bought Kate Middleton shoes(nude ones but cheaper) I was feeling quite smug and confident that this time I’d cracked it! Imagine my despair when on twirling in front of Mr M his first comment was ‘it’s very green’, followed shortly by ‘have you got any other ones?’

Wedding hair ‘do’s’ are in my ‘Room 101’ as well – I have the sort of hair that just will not hold a style and of course I’d forgotten to book an appointment, the only one I could get was for 8.30am for a 3pm wedding so that was a non starter! My eldest helpfully informed me that she had heard that Andrea McClean from ‘Loose Women’ uses heated rollers to tame her fabulous locks and had the most beautiful hair in the World so I wellied it down to Boots to get my hands on some.

An hour later I fixed the last roller into place and relaxed with a sigh of relief. 3 minutes later they’d all slipped out! According to my little resident hair expert I’d used the wrong size clips, ‘just let me do it Mum!’ she sighed, so I gave in and let her do it – 20 minutes later they were all on the floor again!

All I can hope now is that by the time of the wedding I will have channelled my inner Andrea McClean and will be looking totally fabulous – or NOT!

The wedding is this Saturday, will report back

Summer Holidays

September 3rd, 2012

I’m so excited! We are going to the Paralympics tomorrow, the Olympic Games were awesome enough but to be able to see the incredible achievements of people who have overcome such incredible physical difficulties is going to be something else entirely!

This will be my third Olympic outing this summer – I was lucky enough to get tickets to the Women’s football at Wembley for Team GB v Brazil, I came away really impressed by the quality of the women’s playing of ‘The Beautiful Game’. I’ve also already been to the Olympic Park – the lovely people at Adidas invited me to their Press lounge and I had a fab time gawping at all the Team GB athletes as they did their post event interviews.

I have to say, we’ve definately experienced the ‘Legacy’ of the Olympics in our house – these last few weeks of the school holidays have been given over entirely to various sports. I haven’t done any work at all (not helped by our rural steam powered broadband dying on us for several days!) Instead the kids have been on a couple of sports courses and spent a lot of time at the local pool pretending to be Michael Phelps. I’ve also discovered my inner Bradley Wiggins – I’ve been out with the kids a lot on our bikes – exploring our new surroundings – mind you I’ve also discovered that gears that were fine in London are completely pants when it comes to trying to cope with the hills around here!

The hills have been good though for providing a beautiful terrain for Power Walking which I’ve been doing most of the summer with a friend of mine, our Reebok Easytone’s have been working very hard this Summer.

It hasn’t all been about sports though this summer – I’ve done a few educational things too with the kids – we had a family wedding Up North so I took them to the wonderful Hadrian’s Wall and the other day we went to the relatively new Dickens World near Chatham. I was didn’t know what to expect and was a bit aprehensive- but it was really well done with actors dressed up as Dickens characters and several short enactments throughout the day and everything set within a re-creation of Victorian London. I came away feeling that the kids had actually learnt something!

Talking of learning – I’ve become quite an expert on sheep and goats living as we do in the middle of a sheep farm. The farmer who owns the house we’re renting is very friendly and more than happy to pass on his knowledge. He’s even let me help out a few times and I can reliably inform you that chasing a goat across a field and then holding it while an enema is administered is a surprisingly good workout – my arms were really feeling the after effects the next day! I can’t wait until Spring when he’s said I can help with the lambing and yes I know it will mean getting up at 4am and might involve sticking my arm up a sheep’s bum but it’s all part of getting the most out of life’s experiences and opportunities!

The holidays

July 30th, 2012

Just got back from our family holiday in Morocco, with temperatures hitting the 50s it was never going to be easy with two youngish kids. My eldest did get quite frazzled especially having to wear the obligatory head scarf – although she did look fab in it!

The highlight of the week was a ride out on camels into the Sahara Desert where we camped out under the stars and my past Festival experience came in very handy in a place without loos! My youngest discovered his ‘inner Lawrence of Arabia’ with a fine command of his camel and I took the most amazing photo on my ipod of the shadows the four of us made as we trecked across the sand. I even managed to get some inspiration for some moves for a workout from a demonstration of traditional Berber music and dance!

Back now in Blighty’s mini heatwave and very excited about The Olympics (or should I say London 2012 Games – don’t want to get into trouble for breaching copyright!), anyway, I took the kids into London yesterday and the atmosphere was amazing, everybody was really buzzing and the kids loved spotting all the official pink Olympic direction signs.

Of course we’re still surrounded by boxes even though it’s weeks now since the move. A little angel has joined us, however, in the form of my young God Daughter who it would seem has a love of cleaning – in the time she’s been here she has totally organised my eldest’s bedroom, cleaned the house from top to toe and just now I found her hoovering out the car! I rang her Dad just now to ask if she could stay a second week…

As always the school Summer Holidays are a bitter sweet combination of quality time with the kids whilst also fighting the Boredom Battle, trying to get some work done and trying to make sure that healthy exercise is obtained by all. I’ve discovered lots of things that kill two birds with one stone like Strawberry Picking – the farm is a 15 minute walk down the lane (exercise), the picking takes a couple of hours (Boredom held in bay) and they come back with lovely fresh fruit (that’s the shopping done!) Another good ruse is water fights in the garden – they think they’re having naughty fun but actually they’re burning off loads of energy running round and round in the fresh air! Other healthy diversions I’ve so far come up with are dog walking and garden treasure hunts.

It was my birthday last week while I was away, and today Kate my assistant brought me a bag that she’d made for me – it’s made from a fabric featuring British dogs and has a red heart keyring attached to it featuring an S with a crown over it – I love it!!

Moving and Goats

July 4th, 2012

Well we did it – we finally moved! but of course being a Maxwell move it had to have a bizarre encounter with an animal somewhere in it, so in a minute you’re going to meet Mabel….the goat!

All was going well, we got the keys, all the boxes were packed and the big day arrived. I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep and got up at 5am (!) I drove over to the new house (which is on a farm) with the dogs and decided to take them for a walk while I waited for the rest of the world to wake up. I hadn’t gone far before I came across a discarded sheepskin rug lying in a ditch and nearly jumped out of my skin when the rug bleated. Thinking I must be hallucinating from lack of sleep I made to move on but then the rug moved! Of course by now the dogs were going loopy and nosing round the rug so I went to have a look and course it turned out to not be a rug at all but a very cute, very young goat who looked completely dehydrated.

Well, I couldn’t leave the poor thing lying there like that so I went back to the house, found an old curtain to wrap it in and brought it back to the house. When the removal men turned up at 10am thay found me crouched on the lounge floor feeding a goat water from an improvised teat made from the fingers of a Marigold glove!

To cut a long story short, the goat turned out to be called Mabel and had been missing for a few days and we are now definately in the good books of our new landlord the farmer!

To be honest Mabel was only one of many curve balls that were pitched my way during the move – I’d only just got back from my trip to Poland and also had to cope with school Sports Day and junior Maxwell’s violin concert both of which were helpfully scheduled to coincide with moving day! The removal men thankfully were fantastic, a really nice bunch of guys and even the Grandmas pitched in to ensure that we got in!

The kids break up at the end of this week and then we’re off on holiday – I just can’t wait!!

This week I was in Poland -Not for the football, I was there for NIVEA to help out at a bloggers’ event. I didn’t get off to a great start – everyone was very impressed when I walked out of the airport with only a tiny bag, it was at this point that I realised that I’d left my suitcase on the carousel!

I really enjoyed the event which was held in Sopot a really beautiful seaside resort and Poland’s answer to Monte Carlo. The bloggers were lovely and as most of them were in their twenties they were definately up for some fun. On our last night we went to a fantastic restaurant and were entertained by the runner up in ‘Poland’s Got Talent’, the very talented Piotr Karpienia. I managed to embarrass a few of the younger bloggers by demanding an encore and then enncouraging them to join in!

To be honest it was great to get away from the fallout from ‘GuineaPigGate’ – just before I left we had an ‘incident’ in the garden – the ‘pigs run was moved accidently and unfortunately this left it on a slight slope which left a gap underneath for the guinea’s to escape through – and escape they did! After much screaming from the youngest Maxwells I spent the next hour dressed in my salopettes lying full length in a big patch of nettles waving a carrot around and trying to coax ‘Elvis’ to return to civilisation. It was a big family effort, even the grandparents had a big role. Honestly – the things we do for our children!

We had further trauma last week when the eldest of the junior Maxwells had to go into hospital to have some teeth out. It was horrible watching her going under the anaesthetic and even worse seeing her in pain afterwards, I can only imagine what it must be like for the parents of seriously ill children

On a lighter note – we finally move house this week. Mr M has been sorting out quotes to repair the doggy damage to the house, which so far incudes replacing chewed doors and all the carpets. This is the first time we’ve had carpets downstairs and I can assure you it will definately be the last – dogs, guinea pigs and carpets definately do not mix!

Jubilee etc

June 15th, 2012

Well, that’s the Jubilee weekend out of the way and what fun we had! We started the festivities with a camp over in the school grounds. We took our Camper Van and slipped into full Festival mode listening to the (surprisingly good) school band. Next morning I had a very unusual workout using the apparatus in the school playground and what a great workout that was, I’m going to do it more often!

We also went to some great parties, my favourite being a 1950s one where everyone dressed in vintage 1950s clothes and burnt off the Hog Roast by Jiving and Jitterbugging. I can certainly recommend it as a great form of exercise!

Another great form of exercise is the Zumba classes that I started trying out a few weeks ago. The thing I love about Zumba is that it’s not at all precious or pressurised – just a great fun way to burn off the calories. After we’ve moved I’m going to start taking my eldest so we can have some girl time.

Two weeks to go now and I’ve sort of started packing, I’ve also started tackling the garden which needs to be pristine when we hand it back to the agents – I’ve come up with a cunning plan for mowing the lawn which doesn’t involve having to get the lawnmower out…Guinea Pig Power! – By moving the run on each day, that grass is slowly being nibbled away one small patch a day!

So the ‘pigs’ are one section of the Maxwell Zoo that’s in my good books at the moment – I can’t say the same for the Canines. Benson and Gary have both been behaving like delinquent teenagers lately and taking rather too much interest in the Guinea Pigs. I’ve had to return to full training mode with both and no letting up I’m afraid boys :)

Girls are Champions

May 22nd, 2012

We are the Champions! We are the Champions!

Yes, you’ve guessed it – my team – the Girls, won the Breast Cancer Campaign’s Girls v Boys race in Southwark. The atmosphere down at Southwark Park was amazing with a real sense of camaraderie and many people running in memory of friends and family that have been affected by Breast Cancer. The lovely Chris Cracknell was extremely gentlemanly and decided to run with me, rather than take off and lap me several times, as he could easily have done being the international athlete that he is! It was great also to meet MP Simon Hughes who was the official race starter.

It was a great end to a week in which I went to Belgium to work with the lovely people from HealthCity who run an international chain of sports facilities. I was there to pass on the wisdom of the NIVEA on-the-go workout program.

At the weekend we went to see a new baby and we all fell in love with Nina, I was very worried by the gooey expression on Mr M’s face when it was his turn to hold the her!

In the evening we went to a special birthday party, getting into the party spirit as I always do, I decided to get up on the dance floor to ‘throw some shapes’ when I was accosted by a gaggle of pre-teens who saw it as their solemn duty to teach me to dance properly! I proceeded to do some very shocking *Bad parent dancing*

Happy to see some sunshine this week and looking forward to some warm outdoor workouts at long last. I have a list of things to do as long as my arm but due to lack of Vit D potential in the UK lately I’m off out!

A quiet week

May 10th, 2012

This week has involved working from home, being Mummy, Wife, Animal trainer and Cleaner.

I was doing really well on a few levels and was feeling rather in control of life’s Merry-Go-Round, UNTIL …
I managed to embarrass myself massively midweek – well actually it was Gary’s fault not mine! – Some parents (whom I hadn’t met before!) turned up to collect their offspring from a playdate, I bounded out of the door in my dirty wellies enthusiastically waving hello just as Gary decided that it was time for me to try out hurdling as part of my fitness routine – he blocked my path and I went flying, landing in a bedraggled heap right at the feet of the most immaculately dressed parents I have yet seen! Startled but very gracious, they very kindly offered me a hand up, but my hands were so muddy and grazed that I couldn’t possibly accept and spent the next 5 minutes floundering around on the wet driveway trying to get up!

I now have a blackened and swollen knee that’s almost the size of a football, this has put my training on the back burner for GIRLS V BOYS race for Breast Cancer Campaign on 20th May www.breastcancercampaign.org

Happy Birthday to my lovely Labrador Sophie who becomes a teenager today – at least there’ll be no teenage trauma about spots and boyfriends with her! I never ceases to amaze me how an arthritic dog can leap on onto a worktop and eat the contents of a bin in under 1 minute!

We also move again house in seven weeks time, I can’t believe we’ve been here nearly a year now, our tenancy has come to an end and it’s time to make a more permanent move. I’m looking forward to it with a mixture of dread and excitement – there are lots more country walks around the new house which will be even better for the dogs, but the downside is the logistics of moving the entire Maxwell Zoo which of course now includes an extra dog and two Guinea Pigs!

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