Challenge 2016

Wishing a Happy New Year to all my readers. 2015 was a quiet year for me on here. I’d love to say it was because I was so busy living it up, but I wasn’t. I just got side tracked with other things!

Well 2016 is going to be a busy one for me which I want to start writing about. It’s going to be a tough one as I’ve committed to two main challenges and I have several others in the pipeline as well as a house move in May!

The first challenge is to be part of PACT2016 with some wonderful people on Facebook. The challenge is to exercise every day and to log all the miles you do. If you miss a day, you pay £1 (up to £10 a month) and the aim is to make 500,000 miles in the year. The money all goes to Birmingham Children’s Hospital and their research and treatment of Child Brain Tumours. The cause is one that I have supported before and I’m excited to be helping, albeit only a little bit, again in 2016 (https://www.justgiving.com/PACT2016/).

The second challenge is one that will help with the first! And that’s to run my first ever marathon. This isn’t the first one I’ve signed up for as some of you may remember, but it will be the first one I ever do. And possibly the last.

Previously I have trained for a marathon but haven’t taken part on doctors orders, but this time, I am eating right, sleeping right and have been training for the training plan!

I will be running the London Marathon for two charities. I couldn’t make a decision between the two that I have most wanted to support so it’s a 50/50 split.

The first is the ‘Fishermen’s Mission’. They do a wonderful job supporting our Fishermen (those who work tirelessly to provide you with fresh fish every day!) and their families. They do a stunning job and this charity supports them through times of injury, illness and helps their families in times of bereavement.

I have become more and more fascinated by the effort put in by those at sea, ever since I got to know a few of the people of Brixham, in Devon. My visits there, coupled with watching programmes such as ‘The Catch’ brought home to me the troubles they face and I want to help in any way I can. Brixham itself has such a wonderful spirit and they put on two of my favourite events of the year – BrixFest and FishStock – where they celebrate the town and it’s Fishing Heritage. Worth a visit if you want to experience a working seaside town with some fabulous characters and a great community feel.

The second charity is much more personal to me. EDS Support UK help suffers of a little known condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It’s an inherited condition which causes a lot of pain and discomfort to those who have it. I have seen the pain it causes, as my sister has the condition. I was tested for it a few years ago and I was given the all clear. Ever since, I have wanted to help raise money and awareness for the condition.

So tomorrow, 4th January, I start my training plan. You know the biggest problem I’m going to have? Not snacking on things that are just going to make me feel lethargic and not revved up for my training!

The killers for me are chocolate and crisps. Both of which are still in my house and willing me to eat them. I did attempt to do some good cooking today, but that didn’t work too well as my Venison pie was a bit of a let down… Needs more practice some may say. I think I might just admit defeat and stick to what I’m good at… Stir fry, steamed fish/chicken and curry!

Anyway, here’s the begging bit… If you can spare some money, even 50p, then I would be very grateful. I know that it’s hard for many to part with any money these days, but it will help me get round that course and it will make a different to both of these charities http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=jemmaphillips

Yellow socks and a crush

Commuting. You have to love it. No, seriously, you have to. If not, you leave.

I pondered this earlier when wedged between the armpit of a rather handsome man (he smelt of lovely aftershave too – would it have been wrong to mention this to him?), a middle aged lady, two young men (one rather smiley and the other behind me so I could only hear him) and a young woman. How we all managed to occupy a space of about one sq meter I don’t know, but it’s some special magic applied to the likes of the Jubilee Line at London Bridge.

Middle aged lady and I couldn’t help but laugh as we pulled into Southwark and no one wanted to get off. All we could hear was ‘for godsake’ coming from the equally crowded platform.

Eventually, as we pulled in to Waterloo, someone wanted to get out of the tin can and I had to force my way off, pushing smiley man out and to the platform, moaning as I went that I probably wouldn’t get back on. Smiley did what he obviously does best and smiled back at me. Encouraged by the eye contact of a fellow commuter I asked why we do this. He laughed and agreed and then, when the people had finished exiting the train, he waved me back on before anyone else. Thank you Mr Smiley.

I found this brief mutual appreciation of our hell from a fellow passenger rather soothing. Two stops later and I was even granted the gift of a seat! When I departed my train, I followed a rather jolly man with squeaky shoes and the most amazing socks. Yellow with black dots. I was mesmerized by these and quite disappointed that they weren’t there to entertain me while I was trying not to launch my bag into the sensitive parts of Mr Handsome from the Jubilee line. It’s these little things my friend, that keep you sane when wedged in a train/tube.

I found myself apologising profusely to another gentleman when I squeezed (ok, pushed) myself onto the Bakerloo line. I can’t help but apologise. It wasn’t his fault there was no room. Although having to spend one stop on tiptoes in order to not stand on some other poor man’s feet was, perhaps, a bit too much.

The other dilemma when commuting is hair. Men don’t tend to have this problem, but as a woman with long hair, it’s a nightmare. When you are squeezed between people, you are trapped. If the hair is down, you risk overheating. If the hair is up, you risk everyone around you getting a taste of your latest shampoo and/or hairspray when you turn. Or in my case, the latest frizz controlling product.

I was feeling rather pleased at Paddington having survived the tube part of my journey. More smiles headed my way as the guard at Platform 11 was trying to herd people to their correct trains.

The problem of knowing where your train will leave from, is when things change. He saved multiple people from missing the right one and mostly because he recognised them! Good work that man!

End of season – finding my team of the year with a difference

As we approach the end of the Football season, other than who’s going up/down and who’s had the luckiest escape of the year, one of the big talking points is the player and manager of the year.

The likes of Aguero, Van Persie and Parker find themselves nominated for the PFA Player of the Year and as for thoughts on the Manager of the season, well, I think it’s unlikely to be ‘King Kenny’.

Rather than joining the millions of other people already debating this, I’ve found myself wondering about the season’s ‘Media Team Of The Year’. By this I mean the commentary team and anchor(s) that have most impressed this year. Either through sheer brilliance, knowledge or ability to convey what is happening/happened while giving us, the viewer/listener the best service.

While those on TV get to debate who their ‘Football Team Of The Year’ is, why shouldn’t we pick our own dreamteam to take us through a match. From the pre-match banter, to those at the ground taking us through the tackles, dives and goals, through to the post match analysis.

I think I need more time to publish my own ‘team’ but any suggestions are more than welcome for either Radio or TV. Obviously as this is a dreamteam, there’s no need to worry about the politics of which channel they’re working for.

Relocation and dinner

My plan for this year was fairly simple. I’d be moving back to Gloucestershire and commuting to Moorgate in London every day. I’d even decided on the flat that I was going to try and get (close to Stroud train station) and then look to buy somewhere once I’d settled into the commute.

Now, I’m looking for a place in Oxfordshire, trying to establish a good commute to my new office while being within an hour or so of Gloucester. It looks like it will be possible, but I’m not very good at having so many choices.

It’s a bit like when I go out for dinner. I gaze at the menu for a while before announcing there are three possibilities. Then someone pipes up with the specials board and throws me into complete confusion over the addition of two more that I fancy. Cue a good 20 minutes of inner angst over which one to choose. Trying to work out if it will taste good and satisfy my hunger or leave me pining after everyone else’s dish and having to listen to someone in the corner say that they told me I should have gone for the Lasagne.

The upside with being indecisive with food, is that you can change your mind or order something else with the cost being minimal. You might get some odd looks or moaned at briefly but i can live with that.

A home on the other hand, tends to leave you with a hefty bill and a minimum term to live out. Slightly more complex than swapping Steak for Pizza. Although I’m not sure I’d do that… Maybe the Lasagne is the better choice… Sorry, where was I…

Now, my latest plan is centred around Witney in Oxfordshire. It’s still a fair commute to work but with more choices than the dreaded A40/M40 route. I can see a few weekend trips there coming up to see what it’s like. Can’t believe I’ve only got just two months before I need to hand my notice in at my current place. Where’s the time gone?!

Looking back to look forward

A few years ago I made the decision to leave broadcast. I’d been working in and around broadcasters since I was 16.

I remember my first job. I was answering the telephones for Sue and Pete Wilson on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. The work was fun, chatting to the regular callers and ensuring the phones were answered as promptly and politely as possible. I was just shadowing to start with, but soon I was on my own when the guy I’d been working with, Matt Peacock, moved on to present his own show in the morning.

I had the time of my life at the Radio Station. I put in a lot of hours and listened to everything that went on, learning the ropes and taking up every opportunity to try something new. I moved on to present Sport Bulletins, to help out when the Sport team of Paul Furley and Ian Randall weren’t in and I loved it.

Even better was my stint co-presenting the Summer Saturday Sport show with Richard Atkins. I provided the bulk of the Sport input, including securing an interview with the Minardi F1 team boss Paul Stoddart. Sadly it was the day both cars fell out of the 107% rule and he spent the afternoon with the Stewards!

Over time, my career moved on and with stints at BBC World Service (working for grey bars – 24 hour news) and both Audio and Newsroom Playout project teams, I found myself wondering about the world outside the newsroom.

I don’t regret taking time out. Working as a software developer in Gloucestershire was good, but I must admit I don’t miss the peak time rush of Flamingo Flowers. Working in Despatch over Valentines Peak to help the team get the pallets on to vehicles and out the door was actually a lot of fun, but don’t tell them that.

Around 19 months ago, I got the opportunity to move back into London and back into broadcast. You may have heard of Bloomberg. A Financial and Television company which broadcasts 24/7, with shows out of the US, UK and Asia. As a Broadcast Engineer it’s been almost perfect. My colleagues have been amazing and are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

This week, I resigned.

So what now? Well, it’s time to take a step back into software development but within Broadcast. And sport. Time will tell on the detail but needless to say, I am very excited about the coming months!

Sadly it does mean that I won’t be taking part in the Arch to Arc cycle challenge for Help the Hospices. I plan on taking part in one of their other events, but not this one.

One thing you’ll notice missing from this blog, is my time at University. I did go. Part time, for 2 weeks. I quit after I got a job travelling with the BBC as part of the training team for their digital audio playout system.

Everything I know now, has been through hardwork, determination and passion. I wouldn’t mind attending a course as you always pick up new ideas, but for me, I wouldn’t change a thing about how I got where I am now. I’ve met too many wonderful people and have too many great stories to ever want to change that.

A day to remember

I don’t think I’ll be alone in saying that Saturday 7th January 2012 was one of the best days out I’ve ever had.

The third round of the FA Cup saw Cheltenham Town travel to Tottenham Hotspur. The invasion of Ruby clad fans, arriving by Coach, London bus, overground train and car ended with what I can only describe as a beautiful sight outside the ground.

My day began, as ever, at St Neots train station where several men stood, decked out in Spurs kit, staring at me like I was from another planet. I’m guessing their geography skills were good and they were trying to work out what a woman in a Cheltenham Town shirt and scarf was doing 60 miles North of London and 110 miles from the club’s town.

They didn’t ask. I didn’t approach them.

My journey consisted of chatting with some friends, who were off to watch (a victorious) Stevenage FC at Reading and working out the travel plan for myself, my Spurs friend (P), his daughter and nephew. It was the first time P’s daughter had watched a match and the first time any of us had been to White Hart Lane.

Once we’d eventually arrived at the ground (on a bus full of Spurs fans!), we met up with several Cheltenham fans and headed for a pub. It was at this point we successfully went the wrong way and wound up with a good 10 minute or so detour. Why does that always happen?

As we started down a small street opposite the ground, we turned in time to see the team coach arrive, with Cheltenham Manager Mark Yates clapping at everyone on the pavement and the players watching on. It gave us all (P & family excluded I feel!) quite a buzz.

When we eventually arrived at the pub, we opened the door to be greeted by a packed bar. A bar full of Cheltenham Town shirts. The atmosphere was brilliant with everyone singing and chanting.

A little while later we headed back to the ground. Walking up the stairs, to be greeted by the sight of Ruby shirts on the pitch with that backdrop was amazing. Sadly the Cup run for Cheltenham was to end with a 3-0 defeat but at the hands of such opposition and putting up a good fight, I’m not sure many (if any!) could complain. Match Report.

It’s been said a number of times, but I hope the players realise just how proud we all are of them. Same goes for the work put in behind the scenes. From the moment we were drawn against Spurs the club has been professional and quick off the mark, while still providing answers to even the smallest (some times repeated!) questions on Twitter.

From organising the ticket sales, coaches, handling queries from left right and centre, and of course the ever faithful Robins Player coverage, it’s been excellent, while not letting the league coverage slip. Keeping everyone up to date, to the point where local media was close to saturated with Cheltenham Town news and views!

The best feeling for me, since Saturday, was walking into my office today and a Spurs fan commenting on how good Cheltenham played against them.

So now we look ahead to what is sure to be a great couple of months of league action and a chance to close the gap at the top of the league.

My only request?

That more of those who came to Spurs, come along to watch them in the league. Yes, visiting White Hart Lane was a great day out, but there’s nothing better than watching your team home or away in the league.

End of the Year – goodbye 2011

So here it is. The end of 2011. A chance for people to claim a new start and how they are glad to see the back of the last 12 months.

Does the chime of Big Ben at midnight on 31st December wipe the slate clean? Does it mean that the memories of attending that funeral of a loved one, those broken hearts/bones/promises are all forgotten on the stroke of 12?

Of course not. Those are the experiences that make us who we are now. Those memories will stay with us, sometimes for the rest of our lives. I appreciate that a new year does signify the start of a new beginning, but then so does spring, or the dawn of a new day.

Perhaps a resolution for the coming year should be to live each day for the here and now. To remember that every day we have the chance to change the shape of our future not just on 31st December. Perhaps not to have the celebrations though….

I, like everyone else, will be cheering in the New Year and hoping that 2012 is filled with laughter and the joy of making new friends. Also I will be hoping its one of cheering on the best team in League Two to promotion.

2011 for me was hectic. It saw the loss of a family member, illness, heartbreak, fun, laughter, regular trips to Cheltenham Town, finding Twitter, meeting some of the best people (via Twitter!) and making a decision to shape 2012 – moving back to Gloucestershire.

My priorities in life changed dramatically in 2011 and when I look back on the person I was, even 3 months ago, I can barely recognise myself. The uptight, stressed person of September/October has gone. The people who filled my days with questions on where my life is heading, have gone. The coming year will be exciting with, no doubt, sorrow and heartbreak, but also laughter, fun and most importantly smiles. One thing is certain, I’m gonna have one a hell of a time in 2012!

Happy New Year!

How to leave the day behind…

Every day when I leave my office, I can’t help but smile. The City at night is a beautiful sight. The tall buildings lit up against the brooding night sky.
One of my fondest memories from my time working in Canary Wharf was at Christmas. The tree branches delicately strewn with blue lights, paving the way to the sky scraper outline which signifies part of London’s financial heartland.
It’s amazing how much this can relax you after a long week or just a bad day. In a similar way to walking out of the office, breathing in the cool evening air, stretching your arms out wide and throwing your head back to stare up at the star speckled sky. Grinning manically is an option at this point. Yes, I’m sure most think I’m crazy when they walk past, but this, like the sight of the city lights helps clear my mind of the working stresses and puts everything into perspective.
My only reasoning on why this is, is that the size of the buildings or the sight of the vast expanse of the sky, put into perspective the days stresses.
Ok, so there are aspects of my day that some would find frightening, but in reality, its TV. Not life or death. If it reaches life and death then I will resign and find myself a remote farm on top of a hill in Wales with no internet or phone signal.
Its just a shame that there isn’t a beautiful view in St Neots as I step off the train or that the throwing arms out wide and staring at the sky doesn’t work twice. If it did, I may have slightly fewer dark thoughts about First Capital Connect. I think I’ve had the slowest journey ever from Hitchin this evening and it’s not helping my happy state that I left London in. Argument for moving into the City? Don’t think so. I’m not that desperate. Give me half an hour and my smiles will have returned. Can’t keep me down for long.

People around us

Today was definitely a challenge. Hadn’t felt the best when I woke up and to be faced with the prospect of my working area of the City being close off due to the student protest on tuition fees, was not something I was relishing.
My journey in provided me with the perfect tonic. Just a couple of stops in, a gentleman got on and sat opposite me. He was sporting leopard skin boots. The weirdest part was that other than the footwear, he was dressed very sedately. Dark coat and dark coloured jeans. I was in too much shock and sat far too close to take a photo as proof for my blog.
I couldn’t imagine leaning over to him, ‘Excuse me, sorry, I’m just taking a photo of your boots, hope you don’t mind’. Guessing I’d get an amused look back and he’d either think I had a foot/boot fetish or was one of those annoying commuters who tweets/blogs on trains about everyone else. While I’m on that subject, the man opposite me now is eating a flapjack and drinking coffee. I’m jealous.
Anyway, while I was still staring at the mans boots (probably now just thinks I have a fetish), the train filled up and a woman got on to sit next to me. Up until this point I was considering tweeting (@sportmadchick) about the man in the boots, but thought better of it.
The woman sat down and from her small backpack, she pulled two knitting needles, a ball of wool and a partially knitted item. It’s the first time I’ve seen anyone knit in the 8 years I’ve been doing this journey. She continued knitting until we reached London where she happily put it away and got off the train. I hope she manages to get it finished in time. Looked like it was for an item of babies clothing.
Oh and an update on the Finsbury Square camp… Couldn’t see a HR tent, but they do have a First Aid one. Safety first.