I love … Strictly

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It feels like ages since the previous series graced our screens and I’m sooooo glad it’s back tonight!

It’s such a popular show and has got so many people dancing – including me, as it inspired my to start a Strictly DanceFit class to teach the basic steps to the favourite dances while getting fit and having fun.

This is the link to the BBC’s dedicated Strictly pages with all of the latest details about the show.

Here’s this years celebrity line-up (in alphabetical order!):

Colin Salmon starred in Prime Suspect and Doctor Who as well as three James Bond films where he played the character Charles Robinson.
Dani Harmer is the star of a the very popular ‘Tracey Beaker ‘ from CBBC .
Denise Van Outen is a household favourite thanks to her time on ‘The Big Breakfast’ through her roles on Broadway and the West End.
Fern Britton is best known for her partnership with Philip Schofield on ‘This Morning’.
Jerry Hall with her famously golden locks and model figure should feel very comfortable in front of the cameras.
Johnny Ball  is a tv legend who brough science and maths to life for so many people and I can’t wait to see him in action.
Kimberley Walsh should feel right at home with the glitz and glamour following her time with Girls Aloud.
Lisa Riley shot to fame as Mandy Dingle in ‘Emerdale’ but has recently been in a play on the West End about pole dancing.
Louis Smith clearly wasn’t satisfied with his two Olympic medals and wants the glitterball trophy next ;-).
Michael Vaughan has a hard act to follow in fellow cricketers Mark Ramprakash (2006 winner) and Darren Gough (2005 series and Christmas Special winner).
Nicky Byrne has performed with Westlife in front of thousands, but dancing is a different world.
Richard Arnold is Mr Showbiz and there isn’t much he doesn’t know about TV.
Sid Owen played Ricky in Eastenders for 25 years so is accustomed to drama.
Victoria Pendleton has nine world titles for cycling and won two Olympic medals at London 2012.

Here are the professional dancers:

Aliona Vilani was last years winner when she was partnered with Harry Judd.
Anton du Beke.  It wouldn’t be Strictly without him.
Artem Chigvintsev was the winner in 2011 with Kara Tointon.
Brendan Cole won the very first series with Natasha Kaplinsky and is famous for standing up to the judges.
Erin Boag is a fabulous dancer and has been with the series since the very beginning.
Flavia Cacace was paired with Russell Grant last year and showed the nation what fun dancing is and should be.
James Jordancan be a bit cheeky at times, but honest with it.
Karen Hauer is the newest member of the team and I’m looking forward to seeing her dance.
Kristina Rihanoff was John Sergeant and Jason Donovan’s partner in previous series’ proving that anyone and everyone can dance.
Natalie Lowe was very lucky to have been partnered with Ricky Whittle in 2009 and finished in 2nd place.
Ola Jordan won in 2009 with Chris Hollins, quite possibly the smallest partnership on record.
Pasha Kovalev joined in 2011 and made it to the final so there are high hopes for 2012.
Robin Windsor is a dancer after my own heart who loves performing and teaching.
Vincent Simone is the shortest male dancer but makes up for it with his outrageous flirting.

And finally the judges:
Len Goodman returns as the chair of the panel and with his fair and constructive comments will keep the other two fellas under control.
Bruno Tonioli gets so carried away, you can see his passion for dance and it’s infectious.
Craig Revel Horwood gets a bit of a bad press but he is nearly always right in his comments (in my opinion) just maybe could be a bit ‘fluffier’ in how he says things.
Darcey Bussell is new to the judging panel and (as a fellow fan of ballet) I think she’ll be a great addition to the team.

Only 7 hours and 30 minutes to wait until it starts!!!!!

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I love … Bunnies

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And who wouldn’t?!?

Their little faces, bright eyes and wiggly noses.  They each have unique personalities and are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Let me introduce you to Flower and Petal…

The mummy bunny

Flower likes lying against the edge of the run for some reason

The baby bunny

Petal looks soooo little here

I collected them from the Leicester RSPCA in April 2011.  Flower is mummy bunny.  We’re not sure how old she is and since it’s not polite to ask a lady her age I’m sure no-one minds.  Petal is baby bunny, born on 31st January 2011.
Their names came about after watching a well known children’s tv show with my nephews (aged 1 and 7 at the time) and one of the popular characters was singing and dancing.  My 7-year-old nephew suggested Daisy but my friend’s daughter is called Daisy so we agreed on Flower and then Petal.

They live in a large wooden hutch which I’d hoped would fit in the shed, but I was wrong – we couldn’t even get it through the door!  So it is outside, against the fence.  I invested in brackets and padlocks to keep the foxes out, then in the winter of 2011 bought an insulating blanket and water proof cover since it was a bit on the chilly side.

As I write this, they are playing out in their run, nibbling grass and dandelion flowers, and running around like lunatics.  Some people call this ‘pop-corning’ or ‘binky-ing’ – I’ll try to get a video of them in action.  In the mean time, here’s a couple more photos of them.

I’m a member of the RSPCA and they have an article or two that will interest bunny owners; one about their new campaign Hay Fever and the other giving useful tips for their diet.  Both of which are well worth a read.

I love … Music …

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… of pretty much all styles – classical, pop, rock, jazz, musicals.  From all eras.  Some for singing along with, others for dancing to and others just for listening pleasure.

At the latest count there are over 2,000 tracks on my iPod (other MP3 devices are available).

While in the doctor’s waiting room the other day I had a quick read of the September 2012 Reader’s Digest and saw an article called ‘No. 22 – Reasons To Be Cheerful’ by James Brown as part of their ‘Keep Britain Happy’ campaign.   It reccommended that you dig out your music collection, be it on vinyl, cassette, cd, or whatever and have a listen.  The nostalgia trip can be enjoyed on your own but better still shared with someone.

These are just some of my favourites songs/tunes:

Artist Singing Dancing Listening
Pink Martini Hang On Little Tomato Bitty Boppy Betty Ou Est Ma Tete?
Lilly La Soledad
Aspettami Sunday Table
Let’s Never Stop Falling In Love The Gardens Of Sampson and Beasley
Hey Eugene
Everywhere
Foo Fighters Pretender Statues
Monkey Wrench Bridge Burning
Virginia Moon
Scott Joplin The Entertainer Bethena Waltz
Caro Emerald Dr Wanna Do
Back It Up
Stuck
Robbie Williams Me And My Shadow
Paolo Nutini Pencil Full Of Lead
Ella Fitzgerald That Ole Devil Called Love
Every Time We Say Goodbye
Eva Cassidy Over The Rainbow
Summertime
The Artist 1931
George Valentin
Dean Martin Baby It’s Cold Outside
Chicago Roxie
Mr Cellophane
They Both Reached For The Gun
Jamie Cullum I Get A Kick Out Of You
Fascinating Rhythm
High & Dry
Zez Confrey Dizzy Fingers
Dido Thank you
Alex Sings & Oscar Swings Do The Cha Cha Cha
Cold Play Fix You
Flight of the Conchords Robots

I love … Stationery

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Did you ever get really excited about going back to school after the summer holidays?

I did, every year, not because I was looking forward to learning new stuff or wearing my new uniform (although they were good), but just because I had a new pencil-case, filled to the brim with new pens and things!  I used a Parker fountain pen (other manufacturers are available) and underlined everything in green, rather than red which I thought looked a bit aggressive?!

These days I still have a thing for pens.  But it’s expanded to note books of all shapes and sizes with various patterns – probably stemming from my love for covering my text books with old wallpaper.  I also enjoy decorating folders now that I’ve discovered sticky-backed-plastic!!  Then there’s the whole dividers, plastic wallets and getting things in order.

One of my favourite parts of one of my previous office jobs was going through the stationery catalogue for routine orders of paper and paperclips etc as well as setting up new desks with in-trays, pencil pots, files, furniture, you name it.  There was nearly always something on each page that took my fancy.  Imagine my delight when in another office job when I found they had a label maker!!  I was in my element and the office was tidied and organised to within an inch of its life.  I’m not all that offended when people compare me to Monica from Friends 😀
Update – 12th Sept 2012
My friends know me so well!!

I love … Teaching

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I’ve loved dancing for longer than I can remember and there’s something special about sharing that love with other people, regardless of the their age, gender, ability etc.

I love teaching the different age groups as it reminds me of the basics which are often taken for granted once you’ve been dancing for a while, and it helps me to improve as a dancer since without the basics you have no solid foundation to your technique.  This works well in classes as we have a mixture of abilities and experience.  The new people are shown the basics while the experienced people are reminded of them allowing everyone to progress.  Teaching children and adults makes you vary your vocabulary to ensure everyone understands you.

My husband, Mark, is convinced that one of the reasons I enjoy teaching so much is that I’m bossy and like telling people what to do!!  I don’t think he’s far from the mark, if I’m honest, but I like to think that I ‘tell people what to do’ in an encouraging way – come along to one of my classes and let me know!!

Tiny dancer is a great chance for a cute-fix.  Under 4’s have brilliant imaginations and no inhibitions.  Their little faces looking up at me with a mixture of amazement and fun, and occasionally ‘what are you doing?!’ is the best part.  Closely followed by watching them learn to skip (that could be an article in its own right) and developing their uniqueness.

Ballet Tone is a (slightly) grown up version of Tiny Dancer, for adults using everything I’ve learnt during my study of ballet.  Concentrating on strength and flexibility of the main muscle groups helping with core strength and posture.

In terms of favourites, tap comes second only to ballet.  It’s fun to teach as you can make up age appropriate poems to help to remember the rhythms for the steps and in a large class we can make the noises between us :-).

Zumba really is a party where I get to choose all of the music and create a hard work out which no-one notices as they’re having so much fun.  Even if a move doesn’t quite go to plan, no-one minds in the slightest – if anything it adds to the fun laughing with each other (which works your abs too)!

I love … London 2012

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I can honestly say I’ve never been so proud to be British.

All of the athletes have shown the world what they can do and they should all be so very proud of their performances.  Not just in terms of the fantastic achievements on the medal table but across the board – to even be able to compete in the Games means they’re the at the top of their sport.

The mascots song “On A Rainbow” which was released earlier this year is such a lively tune, everyone loves dancing to it, young and not-so-young.
The dancer in me was pleased to note the references to dance, ballet in particular:

  • Ian Thorpe and Claire Balding on 30th July were talking about how the Australian swimmers use ballet in their training.  They look at the movements and work on doing that movement as perfectly as you possibly can and then repeat it a thousand times.
  • Sophie Hitchon our hammer thrower was a former ballet dancer and attributes the balance part of her technique to her ability in dance.
  • Then, in the Closing Ceremony there was Darcey Bussell and the thousands of dancers (on pointe!!) from the Royal Ballet.

In addition to the sporting achievements, pride should be taken in the work that has gone into the smooth running of the proceedings; the attention to detail in the design of the venues was incredible;  the coverage on tv, radio and mobile apps has been great in allowing everyone to watch the events and join in the support of the competitors; and the volunteers who gave their time and were so very happy and enthusiastic in their help and support.

Now the Paralympics are well underway we’re continuing the greatness – last time I looked (11am 4th Sept) we were in 2nd place with a total of 64 medals (check here for the latest results and here for the BBC news stories) and their acheivements give even more inspiration to people wanting to try something new and not giving up when things don’t quite go to plan.  Just a few examples for you:

  • Richard Whitehead originally trained for the marathon but due to the various rules has moved to 200m and powered through the group to win a gold medal and while he was there broke the world record that he’d set.
  • Ellie Simmonds has now won 2 gold medals and and set a new world record in the 400m freestyle and 200m medley.
  • Aled Davies originally trained as a swimmer but on talent day found he was ‘quite good at throwing stuff’ and now has a bronze for shot put and gold for discus.

We really are a Great Britain – keep up the fantastic work

I love … technology

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when it behaves!!

Maybe love is a bit strong a word, but technology is certainly appreciated – just a shame it doesn’t appreciate me!

Allow me to explain…
I was really organised when I started this blog and had a number of posts typed up with pictures and everything (!) that I’d scheduled to post during the week while we were away (see a forthcoming post).  However, I’d not realised that they wouldn’t post while they were in draft format so in fact none of them were published.

All is not lost though :-), they just need a re-read and tweak or two and my efforts will not have been in vain.
Plus, I’ve learnt something new (which ties into another forthcoming post) and, maybe by sharing this technological blunder might prevent someone else from making the same mistake?

So, keep your eyes peeled for the posts which you should have been able to see last week, as well as new ones, which now I (kind of) know what I’m doing should post when I expect them too – lol.