Hello – thanks for looking in!

16 Aug

Hardly changed at all!

 I hope you like the photo on the right – taking charge on the bridge of MV Oceana!  Previous visitors will notice (I hope!) that I have revamped my website to bring it into the 21st century.   I’m not brilliant, to say the least,  at all this technical stuff, so big thanks to my friends at Easily.co.uk for doing the tricky stuff.  I promise I will try and keep it up-dated as much as possible but it’s not always easy finding the time for everything life throws at you!

If you want to contact me about anything at all, then you are in the right place. If you would like me to come and speak at or host an event I would be delighted to hear from you.

An update from Peru

23 Jun

Being up a mountain means not much of a mobile signal but Christine has managed to send a couple of pictures back to us to prove she is alive and well.

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Muscular Dystrophy Campaign – Trek Peru

18 Mar

Hello!  Before you log straight off, can I make it clear that I have already covered ALL the costs of my trip and EVERY penny donated on this site will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. I am NOT asking you to fund an adventure holiday for me!

In June this year I am attempting a personal challenge – a trek to the lost City of Machu Picchu which will be immensely rewarding and uplifting for me but I need YOUR support to make it all worthwhile for Muscular Dystrophy.  You can donate by visiting my Just Giving page.

YIPPEEEEE – LOST A STONE!!!

10 Mar

With Macchu Picchu looming I needed to lose some weight – will have quite enough to carry in my rucksack without personal saddle bags!   A friend told me about Slimsticks – and they are brilliant – stone gone in 6 weeks!

Have a look for yourselves on their website.

Twitteriffic

1 Mar

TWITTER – I’ve signed up for Twitter – user name @brit_battleaxe – well, it seemed appropriate.   It’s totally bonkers – I just use it for lighthearted stuff, but it does get a bit addictive so I must look out!

Interview with Women Talking

19 Feb

Here is an interview I did recently with Women Talking.

DOWNTON ABBEY BLUES

24 Nov

DOWNTON ABBEY BLUES – SUNDAY EXPRESS  Autumn 2010

Julian Fellowes, Oscar-winning creator of ‘Downton Abbey’, is a long term friend.  The Hamilton household has been on tenterhooks since he first told us about his exciting new ITV series.   As soon as we knew the dates, I rushed to put them in the diary and then, every Sunday for seven weeks, our lives revolved around it.

Now it’s over what are we to do on a Sunday evening?   I am old enough to remember when Evelyn Waugh’s masterpiece, ‘Brideshead Revisited’ similarly dominated our lives for eleven weeks in 1981.  No video recorders or Sky-Plus then.  It was absolutely imperative not to miss the programmes and a regular group of friends gathered every Wednesday to share another gripping aristocratic saga.  

Nothing quite like ‘Brideshead’ has hit our screens until ‘Downton’ although ‘Cranford’ came close.    Such historical costume dramas succeed because they are about real people of all classes, their personal histories, motives and relationships; their pain, their evil scheming and reluctance or enthusiasm to embrace change from railways and the telephone to the horrors of war.   We subsume ourselves in the characters, imagining ourselves in turn as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, Lady Mary or the hapless Daisy – or the Earl of Grantham, Mr Bates and Thomas the malevolent butler.

Despite the multi-generational appeal of the characters, the stiff upper lips and bickering, the undoubted star of the show was the stupendous Highclere Castle.  In reality, built for the Earl of Carnarvon by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament, it is piquant that Downton’s’ success has secured an otherwise precarious future.  Only weeks before the series aired, Andrew Lloyd-Webber was circling the current Earl like a vulture surveying its carrion, ready to spend zillions to acquire it.  

Away from Highclere, nitpicking nerds have been delighted to spot the odd anachronism, whether TV aerials or yellow lines!   I didn’t notice them and don’t care anyway.   I did, however, spot one solecism – the use of ‘Istanbul’.   In 1912, it was still Constantinople, a surprising lapse for someone as meticulous as Julian.  A deliberate error, perhaps, to keep pedants on their toes?

‘Downton’ is set on the cusp of great social and political upheavals.  An aristocratic family, already in crisis, is severely jolted by repercussion from the sinking of the Titanic and about to be split asunder by the ‘war to end all wars’.  Suffragettes are on the march and change is in the air as the modern world rushes in like a tsunami.  

 ‘Downton’ transports us to a different era in the perfect escapist entertainment for which autumn Sunday evenings were made.  I’m agog for the next series – and the next.  Meanwhile, I suppose we’ll just have to don fancy dress and play the parts ourselves at home – or get out the ‘Cluedo’ and imagine Colonel Mustard doing his worst in Highclere’s library with the lead piping!’

Celebrity Masterchef

24 Nov

My latest madcap outing was on ‘Celebrity MasterChef 2010’ where I managed to get to the final, together with Lisa Faulkner (who took the title) and Dick Strawbridge.   I seriously amazed myself as I honestly never thought I would get anything like that far.  I promise I am really nothing more than an averagely competant housewife – but I did manage to rise to the challenges as they came along.    We had a lot of fun along the way and it was a truly unforgettable experience.   The trouble is that none of my friends dare invite us for dinner and I feel worried about inviting anyone because they will now be expecting MasterChef standards and, let’s be honest, in a busy life there isn’t always time!

We actually filmed it all last winter – starting shortly before Christmas 2009 and finishing on 17th February.   Anyone who says I can’t keep a secret should remember that I didn’t even tell my close friends whether I had won or not – and I had to keep that to myself for about six months!