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Olympic Cynicism Obliterated

I have always loved the Olympics – since LA, with Coe V Ovett, Carl Lewis, Ed Moses, Fatima, Daley and Zola Budd.   I was really cynical and un-excited by the thought of London 2012. I don’t know why.  I half heartedly attempted to buy tickets but gave up pretty quickly. I arranged a holiday during them so I could be out of the country.  Even the Torch Relay didn’t start a twinkle of interest.  (I sat at home working on the day that the torch came jogging through Newbury, being held aloft by Clare Balding and others).

Then, at the end of July, I was in southern France in a remote rural gite watching the opening ceremony on a tiny, wonky tv screen and the twinkle started twinkling.  Wow. Even twitter was impressed.  I started to perk up a bit. But not enough to watch much in the first few days.

Then I watched this amazing semi-final in women’s Judo, while coming in from the pool to grab some fromage et pain.  Gemma Gibbons’ shock semi-final win. I jumped about a foot in the air at this very moment. Her ‘I Love You Mum’ still gets me every time it’s since been replayed on montages.

 And at this very moment I experienced full-on Olympic love again. 

I was already on the edge, I was pleased to be proved wrong in my miserable cynicism of how it would all be run. Delighted in fact.

From then on in, the BBC coverage (even in France with an ex-pat TV licence, a TV and an iPad) was immense,  I was addicted. We watched ‘Super Saturday’ in a hotel bar in Amiens, France and screamed the place down. Amazed at the gold rush that us Brits had not witnessed in our lifetimes.

I’ve loved Claire Balding, the gamesmakers, finding new stars and stars of the future and for Rio 2016.  Even Matt ‘Mundane’ Baker’s ecstatic commentary of the Men’s Gymnastics final made me giddy.  I adored Tom Daley’s reaction to his bronze, that’s a true sportsman in the making.

Greg Rutherford’s long jump and his amazement at his new-found star billing.  Wiggo-mania – just wow. Dressage?! Who’d have thought I’d get tingles down my spine from that?

Sir Steve Redgrave being the official ‘Hugger’ of the games…. the Velodrome bursting with decibels and medals, and of course,  interview of the games, Chad Le Close’s dad with Queen Clare Balding – just beautiful.

Andy Murray, winning, and at Wimbledon! Those amazing Brownlee brothers in triathlon… obviously Mo and his Mo-Bot, Jessica Ennis, Nicola Adams….  I could go on….

And I continue to be overwhelmed by the Paralympics.  I have no words to describe the respect and awe I have when watching these athletes of the highest standards – their comradery, the competitiveness, humour, joy and disappointments – all what sport should teach us about in life. Hat’s off to the amazing Ludwig Guttmann, creator of the Paralympics.  I wonder if he ever imagined it would climb to this wonderful spectacle.

The swimming amazes me, one-legged High Jump, blind Long Jump, Oscar, David Weir, table tennis, the women’s 4 x 100 relay team bronze!  and wow, Jonny Peacock! I never want it to end…


I am going to be more sad when this ends than I ever thought possible.


Things I won’t do when I’m a ‘Social Media Guru’

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Things I won’t do when I’m a ‘Social Media Guru’

No, obviously I am not a Social Media Guru (SMG).  I have been using social media as a business tool for about 3 years. It is, in my opinion, a great tool for learning, sharing and building your knowledge and contacts in your area of business.  It does work, but it works best for those who have taken the time to understand the platform ‘from a followers/connections prospective’.   Learn from those that do it well, and note what annoys you about the activity of others.  And then, when you are an SMG, don’t forget these things.

I understand that we all have to start somewhere, we have all been ‘newbies’ and all made social media gaffes that we shouldn’t have.  How we laughed when I tweeted a personal tweet from a firms corporate account by mistake on tweetdeck!  And I forgive people, for a while at least, if they RT their Follow Fridays. Recently though, I am seeing so many ‘social business guru’s’ making so many mistakes, that it is depressing me.  Newbies making an effort is good, SMG’s making them is not good.  I am a social media evangelist, but I would rather use Facebook or cut my arm off,  than ever term myself an expert or guru.

I recently attended a national social media event in London, where one of the ‘experts’ talking on the panel about using twitter in business successfully  had an account with under 100 followers, under 500 tweets and even those were sporadic and just broadcasts about himself, no sharing, no interaction, no personality. I have not named and shamed here as there maybe a valid reason…. maybe his real account got hacked?

I also recently followed another self-branded SMG, as I knew the name, and quickly realised that I used to follow and had unfollowed as their posting levels were too frequent and I received the dreaded auto DM welcome message and link  from them. *Shudder*

I will never brand myself as an SMG, this I swear on the SM Bible, and I will live by the 3 following commandments, which I offer as advice to those SMG’s out there:

  • Thou shalt pace thyself – You are sharing blogs and links about social media for professional use because want to be seen as a good resource and someone to follow by those interested in the same.  Tweeting articles and blog links over ten times in an hour is SPAMMING my timeline. Stop it. It dilutes the good stuff that you may be sharing.  Because it’s too frequent I get tired of seeing such a vast range of links from you.  And I follow usually around 600 active accounts, so you are going some to annoy me.  This rule is relevant ESPECIALLY at the weekends – yes, I know that some links get their best traffic evenings and weekends, when professionals have the time to read.  Over 15 different links on Sunday morning, however, makes me think that you have automated your account and you really ought to be tweeting about your weekend and interacting with people personally.
  • Thou shalt practice what thy preaches – You are tweeting many articles on good and bad use of social media, what turns people off, what loses followers, how to build an engaged following, how to gain more business using LinkedIn etc etc etc. I know because I have read some of the links you have shared.  However, have you read them?  Based on my experience you are ignoring the advice you ‘share’ with others.
  • Thou shalt ban the use of automated DM’s – I have said this before  in 8 Things I hate about Business Tweeting way back in May 2010 – automated Direct Messages that say ‘Hi! Thanks for following me/us! Check out this link so that we can sell to you! It’s all about us you know!’  I am all for connecting with followers, but if you want to, do it in person and build the relationship.

So, ironically in a blog about good social media use, I have shared some of my pet hates to you SMG’s to help you not annoy me, and maybe others- maybe you’ll vote me up on Klout or Quora?  Maybe not. But please don’t make me unfollow again, as some of the things you share we can both learn from.

Disclaimer: This is about some self-proclaimed SMG’s I have recently encountered.  There are however some really good, specialists out there too.

My 12 Days of Christmas Tweeters Message

I have done it again.  I bought the cards, I wrote them. I even addressed them. They are still sat in a pile in my kitchen and I have missed the last day for 1st class post in time for Christmas.  I also found the pile of last years cards, addressed and non-stamped in a bag of wrapping things last night.  I am so bad.

So instead of e-greetings, which I hate, I have decided to do a virtual message of Christmas cheer to those online buddies who if it were *real-world* (and I wasn’t a rubbish correspondent) I would be exchanging cards and some 12 days of Christmas presents with…


On the first day of christmas my Partridge in a Pear Tree  present goes to the fabulous and gorgeous @PeacockPete – it’s the closest I could get to a peacock,  Amazon were out of them, but with a bit of glue and some coloured feathers no-one will know the difference.  My wish is also to see each other in 2012! Have a wonderful Christmas gorgeous.



On the second day of Christmas my Two turtle doves present goes to @MrStu69 – you know why and it couldn’t be a nicer, more perfect gift for a lovely chap.  He has one major fault, that being the team he follows, but as I am a very generous person, I have given him the benefit of the doubt and like him anyway.  Plus the fact he lets me beat him at Words with Friends regularly. Have a great christmas Mr Stu.




On the third day of Christmas my Three French Hens present goes to the lovely @RaeMck – one of the few online pals I know IRL and used to work with way back before my twitter life.  She is kind and funny and sometimes very direct, I love her when she ‘says it like it is’.  I read her Coop and the Gang blog about her lovely chooks in preparation for when I get some in 2012 when I move *hopefully*.  Have a fabulous christmas Rach, I chose the Three French Hens as you have three and maybe in their family tree there is some French breeding way back? x


On the fourth day of Christmas my Calling (or Colly) Birds present goes to @CaptainFlashman who will need the birds to keep in contact with all his twitter chums and family when he starts his new exciting role in the New Year in Europe. He did tell me where, but I would have to kill you if I told you.  He leaves Winchester and that means my moans about the direness of the A34 Hell Road will be a solo past-time from now on. Sad times. He also needs a few good wishes as he is a Blackburn fan, poor guy.  Enjoy your time oop North with the lads 🙂


On the fifth day of Christmas my Five Gold Rings present goes to @saarflondonbird as a token of five bits of good things that are going to happen in 2012! Or five rings that she happens to be given by five rugby playing hunks?  She is a feisty and lovely bird who deserves all those and more 😉 Hope you have a fab Christmas and a stunningly good new year!


On the sixth day of Christmas my Geese-a-laying present goes to @demererabird for feathering her lovely nest (aka SVH).  She can use the eggs to bake her lovely Lemon Drizzle cake and more for a cake sale that I can contribute funds to her planned expedition this coming year Everest Base Camp. She’s a lovely local tweep who I really should meet this year 🙂 Hope all goes well and have a wonderful christmas 🙂




On the seventh day of Christmas my Swans-a-Swimming present goes to  @RockChickGill who is the most elegant and lovely lady gliding through my twitter feed. She is also protected by the Queen 🙂  Hope you have a happy christmas Gill and thank you for being so lovely.  2012 is definitely our time to meet – see you at the Boat Race for an Oxford v Cambridge drinking date?



On the eighth day of Christmas my Maids-a-Milking present goes to @NateFitzgerald – the maids can provide him with lots of free milk to help with the catering requirements for his Christmas guests, ample Christmas milk and cream for Linus. Also the odds are that one of the maids with the dairy supplies will pass Mrs Donaldson’s approval and may become more than a milking maid to Nate in 2012.  Keep on writing. I love it and read it, even when I don’t comment. I hope you are feeling a bit better and have a successful 2012 x



On the ninth day of Christmas my Ladies Dancing present goes to the feisty and funny @gillian_b and @nicnicus who always make me laugh and their bickering is something to behold. Gillian is also known to dance in  the office (if she’s there alone). Hope you gals had a fab time in NYC and have a great Christmas and very happy new year.  Thanks for the entertainment 🙂



On the tenth day of Christmas my Lords-a-Leaping present goes to @KingofAnkh  whose late night twitter DJ sessions are funny – especially if he has been at the wine. A clever boy who loves University Challenge and is a music and film geek too. Lords was the closest I could get to royalty with my Christmas shopping. Have a god Christmas x



On the eleventh day of Christmas my Pipers Piping present goes to the fabulously talented baker girl @HairyMcFairy wishing her ten pipers to help her in her piping for all those wonderful cakes and cup-cakes she bakes. I am campaigning for her to be on the Great British Bake Off in 2012, so join me. Have a wonderful Christmas Annie x



On the twelfth day of Christmas my 12 Tweeters Tweeting wish goes to 12 of my other regular tweeters as they keep up a steady rhythm in my feed. Thank you all for some entertaining tweetage this year 🙂 @CateColes, @rutthenut, @_andythehat, @andrewlindsay, @eleanorc, @snowgirl72 and @thorn_waite, @ValiBG, @Jake_in_notts, @nigel_richards, @Nigel_Morgan and @cooda.

A tenuous post, but full of Christmas cheer!

A very merry Christmas to all.

Working girl

I was reading through my back catalogue of blog posts, and came across a post entitled New Girl which I wrote just over a year ago, a day or so before I began my current job.

It made me think of how I view that job and my life now.  I was apprehensive about the new job, in a much bigger firm, and the juggling of home life around this full-time post.

Well 14 months on, I can tell you how that panned out…

The balancing is sometimes hard, but due to having an understanding boss (hopefully he won’t read this) it’s very rare that the job really prevents me from being there for the girls when I need to be. Admittedly, since my younger DD has started senior school it has been a lot less stressful.  That extra step makes it a lot easier.

I experience the things that all full-time working mums do. Weekends that have to revolve around food shopping, chores and laundry, while trying to ‘do stuff’ with the kids. Busy weekday evenings, where you never seem to sit down until 9pm. And manic mornings with school runs vs breakfast/early meetings.

I had/have a lot to learn in my new role.  It took a bit of time to settle and not find everything confusing.  But I learned more in my first 6 months than I had in 3 years at my last job within the same field.

I have added value, I work with some great people (and some tricky ones) and rarely dread going to work.

I don’t regret it, enjoy it a lot. Any downsides are ones that would be replicated at most other jobs too, so I can’t complain. But it truly feels like I have been there 2 years+ instead of the 14 months it has been. Is that good or bad?

My ten guilty pleasures

I probably have a lot more than ten, but these are the only ones I am prepared to share with you.

  1. Big pants. There. I’ve said it. Big high pants. Cosy, tummy flatteners and actually, I did read somewhere that some sexy actress always wore them… maybe I am not alone. (and when I say Big I mean the shape, they are still pretty colours and fabrics, they are not grey with failed elastic.)
  2. Tweeting while I am in the bath drinking tea.
  3. Casualty. Not the place, the programme. I love it. I have even recorded it. I can’t watch the staged accident happen and cover my face, but its a Saturday night staple for me.  Even with Charlie walking round with that confused look on his face all the bloody time.
  4. Phil Collins/Genesis – yes I know. *hangs head in shame* But I like about eight of his songs.  While we are on the embarrassing music vibe, I also like a bloody good sing-a-long to Barry Manilow.  
  5. I have also bought clothes from Supermarkets – and worn them, to death.  I have just purchased the Gok Wan at TU jacket thing.
  6. Candles. I am a bit obsessed with good candles. Smelly, but not sickly, I have my christmas stash already growing in a cupboard and I almost ALWAYS buy one when I go to TKMax. I hate to think how much I have spent on candles and then burnt them. You won’t believe how cheated I feel if they turn out crap too.
  7. I have tried to avoid food until now (being on a diet) but I do love taramasalata and ham sandwiches. I have also been known to eat taramasalata and marmite. And I was not pregnant.
  8. I am a closet reader of both Piers Morgan and Liz Jones’ diaries. Not only are these both in the Mail on Sunday, but I actively seek them out. I don’t know whats wrong with me before you ask.
  9. Also I enjoy OK magazine. I am that trashy. I have just grown out of Heat though. Sadly I have greatly enjoyed reading my mum’s Woman and Home now ….
  10. Mrs Doubtfire – I just cannot watch this film enough. I am never ever bored of it.

Jurys Out on Jury’s Inn

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I am so going to rant on Trip Advisor this time. Just like ranty man’s review I read last week of this very hotel. Jury’s Inn in Plymouth.

I knew before I arrived that the parking situation was less than ideal. I had chosen to ‘temper’ the ranty reviews of this as being a bit OTT. They weren’t.

It’s a dingy car park, under Mecca Bingo. That should describe it well. It’s under the hotel too. Is there any direction to hotel residents? No. None. It’s rubbish.

It’s £10 per day parking. Oh, the night before you check out you can get a voucher for £6 instead of £10. wow.

So you have to walk 10-15 mins to update your parking everyday. (no helpful access to the hotel from car park.)

Checked in and the professionally unhelpful receptionist was just that. Didn’t offer newspaper option, credit card information (to enable tabs at bar, restaurant or room service) or anything that could be helpful.

Lifts – they can only be operated by keycard, one button at a time, and regularly go up and down the floors at random, it took 10 mins to go 5 floors, on more than one occasion.

Three of us in our room, one towel. Three small, rock hard pillows. We called for more and were told ‘as we are full we don’t really have enough’… ‘if we can find some we’ll bring them.’

First morning, our room door was opened and banged shut by cleaner before 8am!

Can I just say, I hate this £100 per night hotel? When I get home I am so getting Ranty on TripAdvisor.

I won’t be staying at Jury’s Inn again either. I tweeted them and nada. They make Premier Inn experience like Four Seasons.

*rant over* (for now)

Bad things about bad backs

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Well its now been over two weeks since I innocently bent over to pick up a towel, getting out of the shower, and felt the disastrous ‘ping’ in my lower back. Within 20 minutes I was in full spasm and unable to do much but crawl to try to dress myself.  I was due to be at work, but after an agonising 50 minutes of getting myself dressed I realised that this was one of those ‘bad episodes’ and hard-core pain-killers and anti-inflams were going to be the most I would be able to manage.

My OH was out of the country, girls on holiday with their father, parents zooming around Scotland on their Goldwing and I had a 12 stone dog trying to comfort me by trying to lay on me, as my crawling around was most fun to him.

Called Lady P, assured her that I was in fact dressed and not crawling around naked, so she agreed to come see me.  By this time I had over-reacted on the Naproxen and Tramadol dosage (well, it had taken half an hour to get them and to stand up so I made th most of it.) and by the time she arrived, I was ‘drunk on prescriptive drugs’.

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