Dagenham Days: The story continues…

As promised on Twitter this week, I caught up with Scott Redmond, a freelancer writer, who is working on a book about growing up in Dagenham. While researching his family history, he’s discovered quite a few twists and turns along the way, which has been picked up by local newspapers and organisations.


Scott, last time we caught up with you, you were reminiscing about how our local high street used to be, where has your story taken you now?

My early parts were very much trotting down memory lane, reminiscing and reminding myself of things I should have long since forgotten. Those nostalgic hugs got me thinking about the things from my childhood that never really stacked up, since then it’s been like playing detective in a search for facts.

You’ve been discovering a few twists along the way, without giving too much away, what’s been one of the best?

Discovering several uncles I knew nothing about was pivotal to the story. Delving in to why they’d been erased was never going to give me any Disney answers. One of them was closely linked to the Kray’s I quickly discovered. I also discovered my mum had been on trial at The Old Bailey when she was 17….


Where are you looking to take your story next?
It’s more a case of where it’s taking me. Being 100 per cent factual each discovery gives me my words.

You’ve received a lot of local interest, who has got involved so far?
I’ve embraced social media, it’s something I’ve had a love hate relationship over the years. For Dagenham Days it’s been nothing but positive. Via Facebook and Twitter I’ve found various people who shaped my childhood. Only this week I hooked up with the girl next door at 49, I’ve not seen or heard from her for almost 30 years. The Dagenham Post have been supportive, they’ve run two articles so far, each one resulted in residents of Dagenham getting intouch with facts about my mum’s family.

 Your doodles are definitely a talking point on your Facebook page, where do you get your day to day inspiration from for them?

The doodles came about by accident. I needed a map of Dagenham, to highlight areas I have refered to. I tried to find one but in the just doodled one, since then I’ve done over a 100. They help to engage people and compliment chapters that I’ve written. I’ve also done a few doodles for The Made in Dagenham musical gang, they’ve used them on their own social media with surprisingly positive results!


What’s next for you and the book? Do you have a target date for finishing?

If this was a work of fiction I could tie up the loose ends and write that last line, being factual that’s not a luxury I have, nor want. It was suggested by someone who’s read it all that I split it in to two books, one being the early nostalgic and social history sections, the other being the playing Miss Marple part and looking for facts. It’s an idea but I think it’ll work better in one lot.

What inspired you to write DD in the first place and what has been your most favourite part of the process so far?
There was no eureka moment, I just started writing sections after reading Kath Hardy’s book Secrets My Mother Kept, which is also set in Dagenham albeit in an early era. I love writing, the last seven years I’ve freelanced on motorcycle magazines, having stepped away from that this filled my passion for writing. Researching if, buts and maybes and discovering the truth is the most rewarding part of this process, it helps me understand not just who I am, but who my parents really were!


To keep up with Scott’s story, you can follow him on Twitter at @DagenhamDays or check out his Facebook page.



You know you’re from Essex when…

My last little post You know you’re a Commuter when,’ went down pretty well with you all so I’d thought that in honour of my home country and the many misconceptions people have about it, I’d do another little list.

Slap your hand to your face every time you can relate to each point!

Image from Share Inspire Quotes via Pinterest

Image from Share Inspire Quotes via Pinterest

1. As soon as you say you’re from Essex, people yell: “Oh my god, shut uuuuuuup!” *Le Sigh*

2. People ask if you live near/have seen/met/ shared saliva with any of the TOWIE crew…urgh.

3. Because of the above reasons, you have resorted to saying that you’re from East Laaaaaandaaaan instead or as I call it, Lessex.

4. People ask you where your white stilettos are…pur-lease that was left in the 70s. Besides white shoes are in now, ya hear!

5. “Why are you so pale, don’t you use fake tan?” No, funny enough, I don’t want to go through the Dulux colour chart.

6. Explaining to people that you are actually 100% au-natural, no silicone for me thank you!

7. We’re not all hairdressers/models/TOWIE members/drug-dealers/wide-boys.

8. Yes, I have been to Sugar Hut, 195 and the Brick Yard but like the west-end, they’re a tourist trap. Essex is not the only way!

9. Yes, we really do refer to Basildon as Bas-Vegas.

10. No, we don’t all drive Mercs/BMWs/Mini Coopers.

11. Most of us live in terraced housing, not gated apartment estates.

12. There is more to Essex than just Brentwood, Chigwell and Loughton.

13. I have never been to Marbs and probably won’t ever.

14. Contrary to popular belief, the majority adhere to the main fashion ‘rules,’ legs OR boobs out, never both.

15. Saying “Oh, don’t worry she’s from Essex…” every time we come out with something silly will result in a punch in the face.

16. We don’t spend all of our weekends shopping in Lakeside, I spent three years of my life there, got far better things to do.

17. No, everyone in Essex doesn’t know each other (or sleep with each other) its a big county y’know! (1,300 square miles to be exact!)

18. We’re not all thick, some of us actually have more than 5 GCSEs.

19. Getting ready for a night out doesn’t take all day, it takes me an hour.

20. The majority of us do not own a silly little spoiled pet, that we’ve dyed pink. REALLY?!

21. The Essex lad exists but he doesn’t always come preened in a polo shirt (or a thong!)

22. It’s not all cat-fights and thrown drinks on a night out, daaaaarling.

23. We don’t all name our kids Chardonnay and Dave.

24. The Duck-pout usually is a result of far too much Botox.

25. If being Essex works in our favour, we will (admittedly) use it to our advantage…alriiiiiight.


I’m off daaaaan the pub for a glass orf Proseccooo, catcha laters babes!


Nostalgia: Dagenham Days

I’ve mentioned before about having a guest blogger or joining forces with another, so I was more than happy to collaborate, when Scott Redmond approached me about featuring some excerpts from his book that he’s currently working on, called Dagenham Days. It’s a collection of memoirs from Scott’s childhood growing up in the East London Borough of Dagenham, which of course is a subject close to my heart as it’s also my birthplace. This little chapter about the town’s local high street is particularly nostalgic, as the area has changed so much over the years, even from my childhood to now. I think you’ll agree that this is an interesting and poignant read:

“It’s hard to imagine a time when shops actually shut, not just at teatime but also all day Sunday. The shops were about 5 minutes away; the pavement from our gate was interrupted all the way to The Heathway. The Heathway was the main route that tore through Dagenham’s centre. The top end joined the A13, right by the high bay Ford warehouse, another proud entry for Dagenham in the Guinness Book of Records. Fords dominated the skyline, its presence sadly missing from the landscape these days.

 The Heathway falls in to two areas of my memory bank, pre and post the Mall being built in the early 80s. The days before the new shopping centre rose out of the ground like a massive legoland feature with its dark red brick structure are a bit less memorable to me. The main shops I remember are still there now, three decades later, just with different shopkeepers and more heavily fortified. Woolworths was one of the bigger stores, a place to check where your favourite record was in the hit parade, allowing you roughly to know when you needed to listen to the top forty to tape it on a Sunday, and the heavy clumsy buttons on the tape recorder always managing to mess up a perfectly clean pirate copy.

 A mixture of butchers, bakers, hairdressers and the odd electrical shop made up the tapestry of the Heathway. There were two electrical shops that I remember clearer than others. Rumbleows was the biggest, situated half way down the hill between Parsloes Avenue and the Heathway tube station that ran beneath us, the station itself sat dominantly at the top of the hill, its glowing underground logo always lit. Tandy was the other one, just beyond Rumblelows if walking down from the station. The shops were both very different when you went in. Rumblelows was your first stop for washing machines, fridges and TVs where Tandy’s was more geeky, things like remote control toys, CB radios and electrical components. If you bought something your details were logged and one of their catalogues appeared in the post four times a year, the Christmas one was always hidden.

 The corner store was Gipps, a fresh fruit and veg. store, well actually more of a market stall that appeared from behind the vandalised roller shutters, a bit like a pop up shop. The men on the stall always wore white overall jackets, in the summer the white cotton jacket was probably cooling, in the winter it needed scarves and fingerless gloves to prop it up. These were the last of the days where people only bought what they needed that day or so, the freezer revolution and the supermarket style of shopping was already choking these independent traders. Gipps always smelt fresh, fruit always looked appealing, you could touch it, feel it and they always rounded up the contents of the brass bowl on the Salter scales before it slid inside a brown paper bag with their logo on, which kept people happy whilst doing an otherwise medial chore of buying Granny Smiths and Jaffa’s.

 The opposite side of the road saw an old Odeon, it looked dated, unloved and ripe for rising from the ground, but instead B&Q opened a DIY superstore, its car park being part of the attraction I guess.

 A massive fire broke out one summer’s evening, I could see the top of the building directly from my single glazed bedroom window, smoke funnelled skywards at an alarming rate, and I run between the garden and my bedroom for about five minutes before heading to Heathway to watch the veteran building burn. This was like a major event, everyone was there, and all gawping and watching the concrete landscape go up in thick black smoke. It burned for hours, the fire brigade were unable to save the building, Johnny Diggines was off duty but appeared with his camera, no doubt hoping to sell a few shots achieved with special access from his fireman mates to the local rag. Which he did.

Photo courtesy of Scott Redmond

Back in the day…Photo courtesy of Scott Redmond

 The Mall was a much needed injection in to the Heathway’s arm, usually if you wanted anything more than a newspaper or some spuds you’d have to head to Romford or Ilford. The bus stop outside the tube station delivered plenty of Routemasters to assist in hitting these shopping meccas. I never really liked Ilford, no idea why, probably because my mum also opted for Romford I suppose, so I did the same. A 174 or 175 bus took you on different routes to the same place, a bus journey was a treat when a nipper but a chore when a teenager. I’d always sit upstairs, again when an infant at the front, imagining I was the driver, and then almost out of spite to myself at the back when the calling card of puberty arrived depositing me with spots on my face.

 Romford had all the big stores, Debenhams even had escalators! Littlewoods and BHS both battled for the middle classed pound, with Marks and Spencer’s later taking the Littlewoods store site after they lost! You didn’t have to want to shop, you could just hang around, and of course get up to mischief, the multi story cars parks were always handy for paying for the day trip…

 The Mall was like a pint sized Romford, the horseshoe type layout made it feel larger than it was, the shops weren’t traditional local business types, instead shops like H Samuels where most of my last minute Christmas shopping was done, I’ve no idea why they didn’t build a petrol station inside, after all we all like de-icer for Christmas. Rumblelows were the first turncoat store to leave the old Heathway site and go upmarket, well for Dagenham it was.

 The floor of the Mall was tiled, apply some rain that was swept in its well lit insides and you suddenly had a great BMX track, minimal effort on the pedals and a sharp rear brake helped to create long skids that didn’t wear your tyres out, if it was your bike or someone else’s..

 My mum’s daily trip up the shops continued, there was always something she’d forgotten or we’d run out of, her trolley often overloaded, my dad helped though, he chucked away the bag part and modified the flimsy base with a nice off cut of mahogany, well known for its lightness, not! It was ever varnished in special lacquer, he spoilt her at times. This allowed the maximum weight to increase say a pack of loo rolls in to something much more heavy duty, sacks of potatoes could now be transported at ease, she never moaned, because if she did nobody would listen she’d say, humour hides many a truth.” 

Scott describes himself as: “A 43 year old ex Dagenite. After years of messing around with motorcycles in 2007 I discovered writing and photography, I’ve freelanced since.
I enjoy perfecting the art of mooching, exploring my new found passions and avoiding salad.”

For more information or for freelance opportunities, please contact him at scott.redmond@sky.com

If anyone is interested in writing a little guest post for Essex and The City, feel free to let me know through any forms of media.

Girls Night Out: Hallo’freakin’ween

November already?! Gheeeez, where does the time go?! I’m trying to be very good money-wise for the next couple of months because there’s birthdays, family get-togethers, Christmas and NYE plans galore. I’ve started writing out my Christmas lists (sad but organised!) so that I can just try and get everything done in one hit, although easier said than done because everytime I think to myself I’ll do some shopping this weekend, the thought of doing so on a Saturday fills me with dread. Maybe I should just order everything online and save myself a trip but I guess it’s all part of the ‘magic,’ as they say.

Anyways, without further ado, I’m sure you’re all dying to know how my Friday night for Halloween went…messy to be honest, apologies for the cliche! It was awesome just to have a girls night out, with my lovely friend Emma playing hostess with the mostest and providing us with food and cocktails before we went out and a bed/sofa to collapse in when we returned. Imagine 6 girls getting ready for a night out in the same space- glitter, eyelashes and tights galore! All of them looked pretty darn good too, here’s a few pics pre-partying.

Sabrina, eat your heart out!

Sabrina, eat your heart out!

Amy looking fangtastic

Amy looking fangtastic

Adeena as Black Swan

Adeena as Black Swan

Yo ho me hearties! Swashbuckling Stacey

Yo ho me hearties! Swashbuckling Stacey

Our hostess with the mostest- Cadet Emma

Our hostess with the mostest- Cadet Emma

Josie the Pussycat

Josie the Pussycat

Just your average Friday night out...

Just your average Friday night out…

I’ll spare you (and ourselves) the aftermath pics…

So Halloween’s over for another year, as is Bonfire night. Still, you wouldn’t think it, sounds like World War III outside from where I’m sitting. The run-up to Christmas has well and truly begun, although I’m still scarred from my years in retail and I literally can’t listen to a note of Jingle Bells until at least the 1st December.

Hope you all had an awesome weekend, enjoy the rest of your week and I’ll see you on the flip-side.

Coming to Essex and The City soon- my next adventure and a well-overdue fashion post on Winter Warmers.

Calm before the Storm

So did anybody else expect to wake up to a Wizard of Oz type scene outside on Monday morning? Yeah me too…the media eh? *Tsk* 

Living on the borders of good ol’ Essex and East London, I didn’t come across any flying farm animals but just a few scattered wheelie bins and a very small fallen tree, the path was clear for my journey to work. The district line was no worse than it usually is and trundled along at a snail’s pace, stopping every so often, perhaps to give us a slow scenic tour of a dual carriageway and people’s back gardens. I mean, there can’t be that many signal failures, can there?

And to those of you who were bleating, “St Jude, come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough,” you don’t seriously want to wake up with no roof above your head, do you? Over-hyped yes, but don’t underestimate Mother Nature. Think of all those poor people who have been seriously affected by the storm, with no power and flooding and those who have lost their lives, rather than raving about having a duvet day.


Anyways, moving on from my hippie rant, October’s been a quiet month and as I’ve said before, I do feel like I’ve aged 20 odd years through my preference to stay in rather than go out. It’s all in aid of a worthy little adventure that I’ll talk about by the end of this week, one word: Excited! And of course, it’s Halloween this Thursday so I’ll be swapping my PJs and slippers for a witch’s get-up. I really wanted to go as Poison Ivy from Batman but y’know so little time and all that jazz but I have been looking to Pinterest and other bloggers (Vivianna Does Makeup, Katie’s Beauty Blog) for some Halloween make-up inspiration. This time last year my friend Joanna and I were on our trek up North for our Ibiza friends’ party but this year we’re having a girls night out in good ol’ Essex. Photos and a blog post to follow of course, what are you all dressing up as this year?

So before Christmas is upon us (gahhh…that word again!) ‘Gig season’ starts, which hopefully means evenings out in the likes of Camden and Brixton once again. XFM announce their Winter Wonderland line-up tomorrow and after last year’s awesomeness, I’m hoping to get my hands on some tickets. On the 28 November, I’m heading to the O2 with my friend Amy to swoon over Kelly Jones see Sterephonics, which I cannot wait for! They’ve been on my Gig Bucket-list for the last few years so I’m excited to be able to finally tick them off, unlike the sold-out Arctic Monkeys tour *sob*.

And then of course, there’s the actual Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, where I’ll be donning my new Penguin jumper and no doubt, one of my many tea cosy hats. I’m still looking for that perfect pair of Winter boots (I know, I know- massively unorganised this year!) and the New Look pair that I have my eyes on, are sold-out. Canary Wharf have also just opened up their ice-skating rink (until 16 Feb 2014) but I think I’ll just laugh  spectate with a hot chocolate in hand. The Jubilee Mall is also hosting Canary Rocks this Friday 1 November to celebrate the opening of some brand spanking new stores to the Wharf including Banana Republic, Cos & Cath Kidston…apologies to my bank balance in advance!

Phew! After all that, I’m glad that October has been a quiet one…calm before the storm indeed! Except this morning, when I caused a kerfuffle amongst the cosmetics stands in Boots by knocking over a whole stand of Barry M nail polishes. I blame my Accessorize Tote bag, she’s so clumsy…

Barking & Dagenham Triathlon 2013

This Sunday hasn’t been your average Sunday, I mean waking up at 5am for a start! Today was my first team triathlon and even though I’ve been practicing 400m sprints in my swim sessions, I still woke up, sick with nerves with about 3 or 4 hours sleep to keep me going. Luckily, it was a fresh, sunny morning and after a good ol’ good kick of caffeine to wake us up, my awesome team mates Kiki and Adam and I (TEAM KAD!) made our way to my local leisure centre.

The Barking and Dagenham Triathlon held its third event this year and it attracts a mixture of competitors from all age groups and local triathlon teams, running clubs, swimming teams etc. You can choose to compete individually or as a team and when I found out about it, I thought it would be an awesome new challenge to do and I can now say that I’ve caught the triathlon bug. Team KAD will be coming to an event near you soon! I’d eventually like to complete a whole individual one but baby steps…

The BD Triathlon consisted of a 400m swim (me) 20km cycle (Adam) and a 5k run (Kiki) so I was even more nervous to be kicking off proceedings. I was entered into the final heat of the swimming leg, where I was the only female competitor, which didn’t help to calm my initial nerves ha! But I let Girl Power prevail and done my best to show that I wasn’t going to let that worry me- hoorah for womankind! I had several dreams on the nights leading up to today, where I dropped the timing chip and  fell over while running along the main road to the transition area in my swimming costume. My mother even told me that she’d pay big money to come watch me dart out of the swimming pool like a bat out of hell. Cheers Mum, we all know where I inherited my clumsiness from though! Ha!

I’m pleased to say that none of the above happened and all of our transitions went smoothly! After completing my 400m in 07m21s, Adam clocked in with a time of 50 minutes, although he actually timed it using his stopwatch on his bike as an impressive 39 minutes. The roads unfortunately were not closed off for the cyclists and runners and the millions of traffic lights meant that they had to stop a few times. Our very own Jessica Ennis, Kiki then completed our relay and ran across the finishing line to our jubilant cheers, clocking in a time of under 30 minutes!

We had to wait a short while before they revealed our times and we were grateful at this point that the triathlon had started so early because as lovely as this heat has been, it’s never ideal when you’re doing outdoor physical exercise!

 So…overall we finished with a time of 1 hour and 21 minutes, making us the relay team winners!!! 

Team KAD- Relay Winners of the 2013 BD Triathlon

Team KAD- Relay Winners of the 2013 BD Triathlon

We are absolutely overjoyed seeing as it’s our first triathlon as a team, such an amazing feeling! A massive thank you to all of our friends and family who wished us luck and all of your lovely messages! My trophy and medal is now proudly displayed on my mantlepiece, I may even wear the medal as a statement necklace at work for the rest of the week!

And dya know another reason why this Sunday is not your average Sunday? Tomorrow will be a proud day for my family as we celebrate my bro’s graduation from university. Of course, I have my outfit sorted and I’ll be tweeting and sharing photos throughout the day tomorrow. Thank god for having Internet again, serious blogging withdrawal symptoms! More to come very shortly but for now*…


*Warning: this blog post contains cheese of the grandest kind

Challenge Completed

Last night I’d pretty much lost count after my fourth celebratory “well-earned” drink (cheers guys!) and was surprised to wake up hangover-free this morning; I believe it was the midnight snack of Nutella on toast that saved me. Today has been one of those glorious lazy days where it’s perfectly acceptable to be in your pyjamas until midday and have biscuits with every single cup of tea, just because it’s Sunday. Even more acceptable when you have achy shoulders but a shiny medal to show for it.

Those of you who know me well will know that I get nervous about pretty much anything (new job, a presentation, sometimes even before nights out in a weird kind of nervous-excited way) and so I was pacing up and down my hallway yesterday morning, moving from room to room in the house trying to figure out what I could be doing to whittle away the couple of hours I had before I had to hit the pool. In true OCD style, I decided that doing the housework while listening to Kisstory was about the only thing that was going to calm my nerves in a strange, therapeutic way. As annoying as it is though, nerves give me the adrenaline rush I need in order for me to concentrate on doing something, some would call it unnecessary pressure but I know I care about something if I worry slightly over it. A slight admission there into one of my little habits.

Habit number two- when I’m nervous, I become even more clumsy than usual. In the changing room, I was all fingers and thumbs as I attempted to put my hat and goggles on:

Drop the talcum powder.

Drop the hat.

Goggles…goggles? Where the hell are my goggles?!

One bite of a Nutrigrain bar.

Drop my water bottle on my foot. 

Have a fight with the changing room door and my sports bag.

Hit my arm on the locker door as it closes.

And then almost slip over on the wet tiles as I make my way to my lane with Eye of the Tiger playing in the background gently mocking me. 

During the ten minutes of our warm-up, all I kept thinking about was whether I’d flake out during my 5K and left gasping like a goldfish on the poolside. However, like my own advice that I dish out in pretty much every single one of my blog posts, I decided to take a dose of my own medicine and  as cheesy as it may sound, basically told myself that You. Can. Do. This.

I always wanted to complete the 5K within 2 hours and although I told myself, that I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t manage to do it within that time because of course completing the challenge in itself was an accomplishment, I was absolutely determined to do so.

And so, I completed my 5K Swimathon Challenge in 01:53:02!



Massive thank you to all of you who wished me luck yesterday, who’ve sponsored and supported me during my training and of course, to all of my friends and family who came out last night to celebrate with me. Thank you especially to my parents who came to spur me on and my brother who was my designated ‘spotter’ and kept me going when I began to feel tired.

At one point, I could feel my hands just smacking the top of the water as it became an effort to put one arm over the other, I could feel my pulse in my head, my throat felt raw through my breathing and one misjudged tumble-turn had resulted in a rope burn from the lane dividers. Hearing my bro shout at me “10 more lengths!” was my last bit of encouragement for me to sprint to the end. Even though my legs felt like jelly, my goggles had left a comedic imprint on my silly, grinning face and MGMT “Kids,” was playing as I finished, it felt awesome to have accomplished my challenge within the time that I’d aimed for while raising money for a worthy cause.

If you fancy getting involved next year whether you want to do the 1.5K, 2.5K or 5K as an individual or in a team, you can register your interest for the 2014 Swimathon on their website. Whether you want to challenge yourself or use it as an incentive for fitness regime, it’s all worth it to raise money for such an amazing charity.

Its already made me think of other challenges that I can take on and although I wouldn’t be able to do anything like the London Marathon within the near foreseeable future, something like that is definitely on my bucket-list but y’know, one step at a time!

Sunday night fear is starting to creep in but it’s been another brilliant weekend and no matter what life throws at you, it’s these brilliant weekends that make the best memories.

Get your Game Face on

Happy Friday at last and Happy Payday weekend for most of you, whether you’re out tonight or saving yourself for tomorrow, have a good one! I’m having a quiet one this evening in preparation for the Swimathon tomorrow so MasterChef is probably about as exciting as it gets and I even declined a chocolate eclair at work today *sob*! Don’t worry, I’ll be making up for it at my local tomorrow night, I’m sure.

After what seemed a never-ending week and my last two practise swims, I’m strangely starting to feel a little bit nervous- the butterflies-in-your-stomach kind of nervous. I started my training for the Swimathon back in September and I’m aiming to complete the 200 lengths within 2 hours but obviously it’s not a race and at the end of the day, completing the challenge itself is an achievement.

The amount of sponsors and support I’ve had has been absolutely amazing and I’m looking forward to spending time with friends and family tomorrow evening. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far (current donations amount to nearly £200 online and offline!) and I know I keep repeating myself (sorrysorrysorry!) but if you wish to sponsor me to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer UK, please click the link below:


The deadline for fundraising is the 30th June 2013 so there’s a plenty of time to get involved.

Donations are essential to allow the Marie Curie Nurses to continue the amazing support they provide

Donations are essential to allow the Marie Curie Nurses to continue the amazing support they provide

The work that the nurses do at Marie Curie Cancer Care UK is incredible and with our support, it will help them to provide free hands-on care and emotional support to those with terminal illnesses and their families in their own homes, right until the end.

In order for the service to remain free, donations to the charity are essential; £20 can cover one hour of nursing within a patient’s home while £3,000 covers the cost of Marie Curie’s nursing service nationally for one hour.

For more information about the work that the Marie Curie Nurses do and of course to see how your donations help to make a difference, please visit the website here.

I’m off to get a good night’s sleep, with a mental playlist in my head in readiness for tomorrow (I’m thinking a bit of Daft Punk with some Two Door Cinema Club and Rudimental, I’ll despair if I get Pitbull stuck in my head on a loop!) and I’ll keep you updated via Twitter. Follow me at @daniellestacey1 with the hashtags #swimathon #takeonachallenge and of course, my favourite #justkeepswimming.

Wish me luck!

Just Keep Swimming…

There’s nothing better than sitting down on the sofa at the end of a long day with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit…unless you’ve given up on sugar for Lent of course! I’m quite aware that I sound like a little old lady and I frequently find myself now falling asleep in front of the TV/reading a book/on my laptop at the ridiculous time of 9.30 in  the evening, before I am shook awake and manage to stumble up the stairs in a daze.

I relate to the phrase “Living for the Weekend,” more than ever now and count the days down to Friday in order to cram my weekend full of fun shenanigans before Sunday evening creeps in. Gone are the days of staying up until some unearthly hour frantically tapping away at my laptop on Facebook  trying to finish off an uni assignment or going out mid-week with the rest of the Nation’s students to take advantage of £2.50 Jager bombs. I mean, I’m not saying my social life has gone completely out of the window, I guess things just change.

One of the things that I’m grateful about with my 9-5 life, is the routine that I can plan around it. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m back swimming with the Masters squad and I’m currently on a training regime for my 5K (200 lengths) Challenge for the Swimathon in April. I’m averaging about 120/130 lengths in my sessions at the moment and don’t worry, I’m well aware that I constantly need to step it up a gear each time because for me, the 5K is definitely a challenge, despite having swum since I was a kid.

An indoor pool is always ideal

An indoor pool is always ideal

It’s like any physical challenge, whether you’re doing a Triathlon, the Marathon or the Tour de France, it can drain you mentally as well as physically. When I get in from work sometimes, I just want to put my feet up and pretty much doze for the evening, especially with the arctic weather we’re experiencing at the moment. However, I think a lot of the time, you have to psyche yourself up for these challenges and train yourself into thinking of only the positives e.g. “When I’m in the water, I don’t have to think about anything and I always feel awesome after a session,” rather than thinking “Oh god, I’ve still got another 50 lengths to go and I’m so tired and hungry.” It helps that swimming is second nature to me and it’s definitely my own of therapy that helps me through the week.

I mean of course any challenge that you do is hard, otherwise it wouldn’t be a challenge! You’ll always have good days and bad days with things but use the bad days as a catalyst to kick arse next time. At last night’s session, I planned on doing 120 lengths and I could have just got out of the pool and be done with it for the evening. However, I had ten minutes left and I was so in the zone when you’ve smashed past the mental barrier that can sometimes set you back, that I ended up doing 10 extra lengths on top of my 120. Sounds cheesy, but I felt so much adrenaline afterwards.

The worst thing you can do with anything is to give up completely. I’ve had times when I can hear my own pulse in my head, my breathing becomes erratic, my eyes are red-raw from the chlorine (even with goggles) and I feel like I can’t lift my arms over my head any further. Obviously never push yourself to the point of causing danger to your health and always stop doing anything that causes you pain e.g. muscle pain, cramps, nausea and dizziness etc. Always allow time to recharge your batteries after a session and re cooperate before getting back into the swing of anything too but once you’re back, live and kicking (excuse the pun) get back on track and give it your best shot. At the end of the day, if you try your best at anything in life, at least you know that you gave it your all.

Despite Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Adlington announcing her retirement from competitive swimming at the age of 23 last week, she said:

“If you really love something that never dies and it never goes away. And that’s what it’s like with swimming…I genuinely love the sport whether I’m competing or not. Whatever I’m doing I’ll still love the sport, it’s such a great thing to be part of.”




If you would like to sponsor me for my 5K challenge at the Swimathon, please see the link below. Thank you!


Cabin Fever and Wanderlust

First and foremost, I apologise for my lack of blogging posts since New Year’s day; a slight affliction of the January blues and getting back into the swing of things post-Christmas are mostly to blame. Nevertheless, I am now writing to you from the cosy pit that is my boudoir, having decided that hibernation from today is the way forward.

Don’t get me wrong, snow’s pretty and all that jazz but unless you’re at primary school age where snow days are inevitable because Dairy Crest can’t fulfil their delivery duties, it loses much of its elements of fun. As I’ve probably mentioned before, I hate being cold with a passion and would happily live in Sahara-like conditions all year round if I wasn’t confined to the British Isles. The winter months over here and our dismal summers constantly give me itchy feet and if I were offered a job in somewhere like Australia tomorrow, I’d be on that plane quicker than you can say “G’day mate!

Wanderlust...a very strong and impulsive desire to travel. Photo courtesy of enjoyeventscoblog.com

Wanderlust…a very strong and impulsive desire to travel. Photo courtesy of enjoyeventscoblog.com

As much as I find change to deal with at times, I do have this underlying craving for a change of scenery and working abroad has always been one of my major life goals. I guess it’s all about timing and money in this sense because with the uncertainty of the economy, people feel even more pressured to hold on to their current jobs for security purposes and of course, to travel and work abroad, money is another massive factor. If you’re slightly more carefree, perhaps you’ll chuck a few belongings into your polka-dotted handkerchief, get a one-way ticket to anywhere and promise to return when the economy has “sorted itself out.” A girl can dream right?

While I plot my imaginary escape to paradise in my head, in the meantime, I am living my last day and a half as a 22 year old…eeeek! Although I can’t imagine I’ll develop wrinkles overnight, it does take me one year closer to the big 3-0 and as they say, time flies by when you’re having fun. I do however look forward to a week’s worth of revelry with my friends and family, snow or no snow!

I am also still embarking on my fitness regime, which was temporarily thrown off course by illness, but I have now officially signed up for the Swimathon 2013, where I’ll be taking on the Ultimate 5K Challenge (that’s 200 lengths in layman’s terms!) in April. The Swimathon helps to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care, an amazing charity whose nurses help to provide home support for people with terminal illnesses and their relatives.

Since 2007, more than 100,000 swimmers have jumped in the water and raised vital funds, last year alone more than 26,000 swimmers raised a staggering £2.4 million.”

So if you would like to show your support and help me raise funds for a brilliant cause, you can sponsor me here and donate online at:


Thank you so much for your sponsorship in advance and I will of course keep you up to date with my progress on here. I’ve so far been hitting the 100 lengths mark in my sessions so far and like with anything long distance, it’s all about building up your stamina. I’ve always wanted to get involved in the Swimathon, having swum competitively from my childhood to my teens and I wanted a goal to work towards so that I could get back into it and have the added bonus of keeping fit. It also ticks off at least three goals on 2013’s Bucket-list; keep fit, take on a challenge for charity and get back into swimming. Hoorah!

Working abroad is definitely on my general bucket-list and although, stranger things have happened, I think it’s always a little sensible to keep your goals slightly realistic. But of course, my inner carefree soul hopes that she’ll be writing to you from a beach this time next year.