Wednesday, 31 December 2008

I wish you all a fantastic 2009,

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Monday, 29 December 2008

Post Xmas blogging

After a fabulous Xmas I thought I better get back to blogging, I, like most of us, seem to have put on a few pounds over Xmas and still have a fridge full of cheese to plough through. It seems that a good Pole jam is called for very soon to get me back into shape for the new year.

I thought I would share a few photos with you from the last few days starting with this one of me in my Xmas attire and one below of my husband in his festive finery!

As I am preparing for 2009 I thought I would update the pictures on my blog so I have added some new ones and removed some old ones. I am also working a new website for the art of dance - watch this space!

The only downside to the festive period has been the visits to my Grandad that have usually resulted in tears as I hate to see him the way he is, I do however understand that he is not going to get better. I have a meeting with my family and social service today to discuss long term care plans, I am not expecting the meeting to be easy.

As the new year approaches I have many plans for 2009, There will be many changes at the art of dance hopefully for the better and I intend to add some new tricks to my repertoire ready for some pending exhibitions that are happening in February and March - full details to follow.

Just before Xmas I had the pleasure of a visit from art of dance baby Ava with proud mum Penny, We hope that Ava (Or Darth Ava as she is affectionately known) will be joining us on the poles very soon!
I also received this lovely e-card from friends Maya, Fay and Jay which made me smile!

Lastly for those of you who haven't read it already you must read Hayley's great Xmas blog. To celebrate the start of 2009 I hope to give you some great fitness tips to help you start 2009 with a healthy approach! But for now enjoy some more mince pies and sherry!

Stay healthy,

Sam x

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Happy Xmas

It is now 2.30pm on Xmas day afternoon and My husband and I have just finished our breakfast! We are both adorning our special Xmas day costumes - pictures to follow - and are now getting ready to start on the beer and then prepare the Xmas dinner. The Radio is set to digital channel Gold and is belting out a selection of classic Xmas tunes although we did start the day with Black Xmas courtesy of Planet Rock!

I want to wish you all a wonderful Xmas and I hope that you all have the best 2009 possible. I also want to send my deepest sympathies to the family of the
Plymouth based soldier from 42 commando who died in Afghanistan yesterday and to all those who have lost loved ones recently.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x x

Monday, 22 December 2008

Gluttony & Local produce

After stocking up on a few extra Xmas luxuries my husband and I found ourselves munching our way through most of them last night, there was just something too tempting about the various goodies lurking in the cupboard for them to be saved until Xmas day. Therefore today I feel like it is boxing day, I feel stuffed and hungover but it is a work day and I have to teach soon not, that I deserve any sympathy for my gluttony. It wasn't all bad yesterday as the evening started with a beautiful oven cooked sea bream with steamed local broccoli and Canarian style new potatoes, pudding came in the form of Blake's of Cornwall mince pies: OK so these are not the cheapest mince pies in the world and at £2.75 for 6 my husband nearly had a heart attack but they are divine and are made with brandy and port and sumptuous spices (can't find a web link but you can order by phone 01579 342159 or if you live in Plymouth you can purchase from them Seymour Ave stores in St Judes) The mince pies slipped down gently as they were accompanied by a generous dollop of Rodda's cornish clotted cream.

The evening was rounded of with some Kettle chips and Mrs Crimbles wheat free Coconut macaroons and several pints of real ale washed down with two shots of Amarula, hardly a good example from a fitness professional!

My Xmas greed has subsided today and I have returned to normal eating habits as well as spending an hour on the pole to help burn of some of yesterdays indulgence. I have also consumed some innocent smoothie of the month - Lemon, ginger and honey, it is a very refreshing drink and just one glass has 2 portions of my RDA of 5 fruit a day, also the ingredients have properties that are rumoured to help fend off many winter nasties such as colds and flu.

After my distinct lack of blogging I hope to make up for last time by blogging every day for the next 3 days! I may even blog on Xmas day but am not making any promises as the fridge full of Sharps Doom Bar may have othyer ideas. I hope to blog tomorrow on a
council plan which has infuriated me!

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

p.s. I will leave you with this video clip sent to me by the lovely AmyTree of pole dancing in 1953 - no taboos then so why so many now, the vid doesn't really get started until about 1 minute in! before you watch the clip you may be interested to know that Cirque Du Soleil has finally recognised pole dancing as an artistic form and has signed up MPD Australia champion Felix for it latest show Zumanity.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


I like my blog to be inspirational but I feel that the content of today's blog will actually be quite depressing, I wasn't feeling great when I woke up today due to events that I will come to later but my mood worsened when I picked up yesterday's Herald to read over breakfast. The first few pages were full of stories of horribly anti-social behaviour and it made me wonder quite where our society is at, A blind lady had her white stick robbed from her in Central park resulting in cuts to her face, yet another Plymouth soldier has died in Afghanistan, a local police woman has been found guilty of abusing her position but was only sacked after being suspended for a year on full pay! I could go on but I will get to the main point of today's blog.

Of course the real cause of my sadness is nothing to do with the local news but due to incidents surrounding my grandfather over the last few months. My Grandad is a great man: Flight lieutenant Commander Rowles was an inspiration to me as a child, he was caring yet stern, dignified yet loving and he absolutely worshipped my Nan. A few years ago the family had noticed a deterioration in my Grandads memory which was later guessed to be Alzheimer's. In the last few months the condition has worsened and he has also been diagnosed with prostate and bone cancer. At the age of 85 the last thing I want to see is My lovely Grandad suffering, he has given so much of his life to others, he fought in WW2, brought up a family of 4 and now he can barely cope with eating, walking and talking.

On Sunday, after 4 visits from the paramedics in the same number of days, the decision was made to take him into nursing care for a 3 day assessment to see what could be done. I visited him last night but he barely recognised me. He was sat in small room, alone, there seemed to be very few staff around, a half dressed elderly Lady sat abandoned in the corridor and another elderly gentleman shouted repeatedly from his room seeming just to want to talk to someone. I have many years of experience with elderly care but it is very different when you are visiting a relative and very different when, from my experience, the standards of care have fallen way below what they should be. My Grandad kept asking if he could go to sleep, I went to find a member of staff to see if it was ok for me to put him to bed, I found one nurse who said it was fine so I set about helping him into bed, it felt strange helping my Grandad into his pyjamas in this starnge room that was alien to both him and myself, he seemed confused and upset, he didn't really understand where he was but he was aware that his wife was not with him and that seemed to cause him great distress.

I kissed him good bye but he didn't respond, I left the ward feeling very upset and tearful and wishing that the end of my Grandad's life could be more dignified as he deserves so much more than the condition he is in presently. Elderly care in this country seems to be dying out, I feel appalled by the way we treat the people who have bought us up and looked after us, surely we owe them the same in return. I know that when budgets are cut the elderly and the mental health budgets are always cut first but the standard in place today are simply unacceptable. I am now back off to visit my grandad.

Stay healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Xmas came early

Being the humbug that I am I never look forward to Xmas but yesterday I started to see things a little differently. Up until last year I hadn't bothered with Xmas decorations but my husband had persuaded me to buy a tree, I bought a lovely pot grown tree which I then re-potted and the tree has now spent a year outside only to return to the front room last night. Not only did my husband take on the job of decorating said tree he also arrived in the front room in a full Santa costume. We had a fun evening and I felt that lovely warm wintry feeling, the front room glowed with candles and Xmas lights and I had Santa sat next to me on the sofa! Even my psychotic cat chilled out!

Last week included the discovery of a new pole trick - pictures to follow. The pole trick came about after the lovely Amytree suggested I try a cradle invert to brass monkey! At first I suggested the move may be impossible but couldn't resist the temptation to try it anyway. I failed to achieve the brass monkey but managed to get into a position that my body has never adopted before, Jo said that the trick looked good but there was one major flaw - I couldn't get out of the trick! It seemed the only possible way to remove oneself from said pole was to just fall off! I will keep working on the new trick until I find a nice graceful way of releasing my body from the pole. The trick does result in two fantastic bruises - one on the forearm and one on the back of the calf muscle!

On Friday Jo (see picture of Jo holding bread rolls!) & I ventured to Torquay in the search for a new venue for our Kelly's fitness pole dancing, despite an extensive search we failed to find anywhere but we did manage to find the Tudor Rose tea rooms so we could stop for some very tasty French Onion soup -I enjoyed the seafront lunch and imagined that perhaps at some point the wonderful Agatha Christie would have been dining in similar fashion!

I noticed in yesterdays Herald an article about fundraising for the fantastic animal Charity -Woodside, I wanted to mention how great Woodside are but also to have a little whinge at the RSPCA. In the last 5 years I have contacted the RSPCA on 3 separate occasions and on each occasion they have been unhelpful and have failed to respond to 2 reports of animal suffering, the third contact was when I found a live 4 foot snake in my back garden - neither the RSPCA or the Police were able to help in any way and so the snake was left to eat its way through many of my baby cockatiels before we managed to capture it, bear in mind that both the police and the RSPCA had no idea whether this snake was harmful or not. I must also mention that one call to the RSPCA involved holding for 22 mins before being cut off, as you can imagine when you have a live 4 foot snake wondering around your back garden you really want to speak to someone who can help. One rep from the RSPCA said not to worry as the animal would die overnight due to the cold, this did not reassure me and the result was that is was nearly 18 months before my husband was able to catch the snake during which time it had not only eaten several more cockatiels but had also grown by over a foot! My point is that if you want to support an animal charity then please pick a local charity such as Woodside and not the RSPCA.

I am still looking for a designated charity for the year but will also donate £40 to Woodside to sponsor an animal - I will look forward to posting pictures of the art of dance new sponsored creature! Please visit the woodside sponsorship page and let me know which animal you think the art of dance should sponsor!

I did find a very amusing Burlesque video which I have just uploaded to Sue's blog for any of you who may be interested.

Tomorrow I am off to London, I will explain all about that later this week!

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Charity news and general stuff.

I was horrified to read in this week’s Herald the devastating news that the Plymouth Family Support Service are scheduled to close on the 23d December due to lack of funding and a huge increase in their rent. I think many people are unaware of the work that the PFSS actually do and I believe that the negative impact on Plymouth will be felt after the service is closed. The PFSS carry out a huge amount of preventative work with both children and adults. What is even sadder is that I had promised the team at PFSS that they would be our designated charity for 2009. I am particularly annoyed that Plymouth City Council couldn’t find the £20,000 that the PFSS needed to see them through to Easter next year, this amount is nothing in comparison to the work that the PFSS actually do and I am annoyed that the PCC can find £60 million pounds for the elitist life centre and not the small amount requested by the PFSS.

In light of the PFSS closure we are looking for a new designated charity, I would really like a local charity that works with children and adults focusing on preventative care. I have had some suggestions but would appreciate any input so that we can find a charity to work with for 2009.

On the subject of charities I must draw your attention to the work of the East Devon Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the charity aims to help improve the quality of life for those suffering with cystic fibrosis. I was thrilled to hear that the trust have just bought a pole for one of our Torquay students who has CF, Kim Quaintance noticed that attending fitness pole dancing lessons helped her condition dramatically, her bone density improved as well as her lung capacity this resulted in fewer tiresome visits to Exeter Hospital. I am waiting for the next EDCF newsletter which will discuss the subject further.

Whilst I mention Torquay, I must inform you that after a breakdown in communication between myself and the owner of the Bishop's Court Hotel in Torquay we are no longer offering lesson in the Torquay area, Jo and I will be travelling to Torquay on Friday to look at some possible new venues. You can check out Jo's latest blog and Nixi's latest blog here. More news to follow.

Get well soon Mum x x

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Holiday Smugness

As most of you will know I have just returned from a fabulous week in Lanzarote with my husband, we both needed a break from work and when you are self employed you have to get away to really switch off. We stayed in a gorgeous 200 year old finca in the north of Lanzarote in the tiny village of Soo, if any of you are thinking Lanza-grotty then think again, thanks mainly to the work of Cesar Manrique Lanzarote is, in my opinion, the best of the Canary islands. In addition to its stunning Volcanic landscape Lanzarote has a special charm, a great climate and some amazing fish restaurants (I will come to them shortly). The other reason for our visit to Lanzarote is the convenience of travelling from Exeter airport, it is only a 4-hour flight so you can travel door to door - Plymouth to Lanzarote in just over 6 hours!

Firstly let's mention our home for the week - Casa Margerita - pictured below left - has been lovingly restored by ex-pats John and Jacky Kennedy. The finca is named after the previous occupant, Margerita who lived in the house for many years with her husband Juan. The finca features three bedrooms (2 en suite) situated around a traditional courtyard, it also features a tropical garden with a large heated swimming pool. It was missing a pole and despite my attempts the wooden posts around the gardens were simply not adequate so I have had a much-needed break from the pole. I think most of my energy was used up in the practice of eating and drinking.

We used our hire car extensively throughout the week soaking up much of Manriques work across the island. Our first visit was to Jameos del Agua, an amazing underwater cave formed over 3000 years ago. The underwater lagoon has its own unique species of blind albino crabs as well as many great photo opportunities. Our next sight was Mirador El Rio - pictured below right - the most northerly point of the island. This spot is not suitable for anyone who is scared of heights although if you are scared of heights you would not manage to overcome the twisting, death defying roads needed to get you to the El Rio. The Miraodor El Rio, like jameos del Agua is another Manrique creation and it demonstrates his ability to work in harmony with nature.

Our last Manrique hotspot was the essential attraction that is Timanfaya (Firemountain), this huge volcano is still active and all the food cooked in the restaurant is cooked from the heat of the volcano, Timanfaya is situated within the national park so is highly protected. The entrance fee of 8 euros includes a coach trip around the volcano, again a warning that if you don't like heights then you won't enjoy Timanfaya!

If you are visiting Lanzarote then any of the Manrique spots are a must do with Timanfaya being perhaps the most essential visit. One word of caution - don't bother eating at any of these places as the food is pretty poor, opt instead for any of the fantastic local restaurants dotted around every village. One of my favourites was Casa Ramon in Caleta de Famara where we enjoyed the 5 fish platter- pictured below- a mouth watering grill featuring 5 freshly caught fish accompanied by Canarian boiled potatoes and the essential mojo sauce. There are more good fish restaurants in the picturesque village of El Golfo, I recommend walking / driving a few minutes past the main car park in El Golfo and trying the smaller restaurants rather than the two main restaurants that you first see on your arrival in the village. Whilst in El Golfo it is worth visiting the green lake - pictured below- formed from the collapse of one of the islands many volcanoes.

Another tip for getting the most out of Lanzarote is to get a hire car, ours cost only £60 for the week and as fuel is cheap on the island it is a very cost effective way of getting around. We found out that coach trips from Puerto del Carmen can cost up to 100 euros whereas if you visit by car the entrance fee is only £8 euros, the coach trip may include a meal but it is still an expensive option.

If you really want to enjoy the island then make the effort to learn a few words of Spanish, most of the islanders have some English vocab but I think it is polite to try to speak the islanders language whilst you are there as you will be looked after so much better. Just simple words such as please and thank you and of course the essential phrase - dos cerveza por favor (2 beers please). Also worth noting are the Spanish words for cold and hot - Calor or Caliente means hot so when you use the letter C on a tap don't expect it to mean cold! Another phrase worth learning is 'con leche' meaning with milk, as most coffee is served black.

Perhaps the fish of the week must have been in the lofty village of Femmes (more dodgy roads if you want to eat here!). Femmes is a sleepy little village with a restaurant overlooking the south coast, the restaurant doesn't look that inviting but trust me the food was amazing and there was even a village cat to entertain you whilst you eat.
As Lanzarote provides the perfect environment for cacti and succulents take advantage of the opportunity to buy lots of aloe vera based products. I treated myself to some aloe vera lip balm and soap both of which are lovely.

Regular readers of my blog will have read my rantings on the ridiculous refuse collection the UK seems to be adopting so how refreshing it was to re-live the Mediterranean way of getting rid of your rubbish. During the week my husband and I made only two trips to the local refuse collection points, it is within walking distance of the house and can be used as often or as little as you like, so the day you cook fresh fish you can get rid of any remains quickly and easily without waiting for the swarm of flies and ants to move into your bin. This way of getting rid of rubbish suits all, even the oldest occupant of the island seems to be able to manage to carry a carrier bag sized bin to their communal bin and of course each refuse collection point also features an array of recycling bins so that you can effectively dispose of your rubbish. I didn't see one overflowing bin or any litter - take note Plymouth!!

My final meal of the holiday was eaten at the capital of Areccife and was a Canarian speciality of black spaghetti with garlic and king prawns - trust me it is absolutely delicious. I know most people haven't been convinced by the picture below but the proof is in the eating:

I could carry on writing all day but I am sure that I have bombarded you with enough smugness for the whole week. To summarise Lanzarote is a great island getaway which I can highly recommend to anyone, it is renowned for its surfing, para gliding, hang gliding and cycling so can be a great activity hotspot if you like a little more action. If, like me, you prefer the ultimate relaxation then go and simply enjoy the weather and the food! I am now feeling completely revitalised and ready to take on the world so be warned!

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Friday, 5 December 2008

I'm back!

After a fantastic weeks break in Lanzarote I am back in beautful Plymouth. I will blog later about my holiday and the stunning island that has been my home for a week. In the meantime check out the full video of Felix's winning performance at Miss Pole Dance Australia. I do not have the words to describe it:

You simply must check out Sue's (Georgina Gale) pictures from her latest photoshoot with Chris Trent from global eye photography.

More news from me tomorrow,

Stay Healthy,

Sam x