Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy Halloween.

I hope that you all have a fabulous Halloween. I have had the most amazing week at the art of dance with a themed week of spooky fun and Halloween inspired classes. Check out some of the Halloween witches (above) who visited my studio for sinister fun. It seems that the art of dance is not the only school hosting a little Halloween terror, PDC approved pole dance school Emily's Pole Fitness have been sticking sweets to the ceiling and getting their students to climb to the tops of the pole to reach their rewards. One student managed a Gemini at the top of the pole so she could salvage a sweet with her toes!

PDC approved JLN Fitness have also hosted a Halloween pole dancing competition. Thanks to the lovely Jess from JLN for the fabulous bouquet of flowers she sent me to help brighten my week after my friend's funeral. The delivery really picked me up at what would otherwise have been a very low point.

You may want to check out the interview I have just done with US Pole dancer Josiah Grant AKA BadAzz (pictured above), click here to read the full article.

I will keep it short today as there are lots of little jobs I need to catch up on but I will leave you with mine (above) and my husbands (below) pumpkin carvings! 

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Judging at PoleDivas

      picture above of me doing the Extended Frodo (fao Josephine!)

Last night I had the pleasure, or should I say tough job, of judging at the South West heats of the PoleDivas championships in Bristol. I knew it was going to be a stiff competition with several ladies in the finals who all have the potential to win the finals. 

On arrival I met several of the competitors, all from PDC approved schools, and was able to put some names to faces as I met Emily from Emily's Pole Fitness, Shelley Neave from House of Pole and Lucie Tutton from In the Shadows. I also caught up with more familiar faces such as joint competition organiser Robyn Rooke from 360 Pole Dancing (PDC approved school). Robyn was was busy multi tasking but coped brilliantly with organising and MCing - great job!  The lovely Varie Anderson, Professional winner of the South West heats of UKAPP, was busy ensuring all the competitors had filled in their PARQ's, got their music and knew the line-up.

I took my place on the judges table with fellow judges Pippa from PoleNastics (PDC approved) and Stacey from Stacey Pole (PDC approved). Stacey is of course also the sales manager at X-pole and a very busy lady! We were joined by officials Josephine Ford (the original  PoleDivas founder and organiser of the forthcoming Bristol Pole Championships) and Varie Anderson. The judging criteria this year for PoleDivas is tough but fair and the the scoring allows all judges to give marks for Technical elements (40%) as well as Presentation (musicality, choreography etc) and Performance (costume, stage presence etc). The official ensure that all the compulsory elements are included, anyone failing to complete a compulsory element receives a deduction from the judges score. The officials were extremely thorough, checking and double checking the scores and using the video footage of each performer to double and sometimes triple check that the compulsory elements were as they should be.

I have to admit that last year I had my reservations about the complex judging system but this year it seemed to run smoothly and all the judges agreed on the final placings.

The Amateur section was a tough call and I find it really hard to judge critically as these ladies have only been dancing for a matter of months an suddenly they are faced with a strict panel of judges, a large audience and the joy of dealing with performance nerves!

The finals scores were very, very close with Bex Brady from Spin City Pole fitness (PDC approved) taking the title and the place in the finals. I loved Claire's performance too, her song choice and style were perfectly suited and she definitely has potential.

Next up was the amateur advanced section for those who are advanced but not yet ready to take on the professionals. Thus years heat was won by last years Amateur winner Riina Laahanen, who has certainly improved, her trick packed routine kept us all entertained and she showed a great display of strength whilst looking like she was really enjoying her routine, this girl has so much energy!

I have to admit, as amazing as all the amateur were I was eagerly waiting the professionals and already had a few performers who I was expecting to do rather well. Starting the professionals heat was the lovely Lucie Tutton who was obviously very nervous, she said that she didn't expect to win but wanted to enter for her students, which I was thought was extremely brave and admirable. Lucie managed some good tricks within her routine and did her students proud.

Another performer who stated that she didn't enter to in was the fabulous Catherine Payne, a mother in her 40's who performed like a 20 year old athlete, strong, poised and graceful. Despite not winning Catherine and the Spin City girls must have been chuffed with the performance.
            picture above of Amy Williams and Sarah Scott (Studio 22) winning the NSPDS routine for the Nation competition 2010.
For me the 2 acts that completely stole the show were joint winners Sarah Scott from Studio 22,(PDC Approved) and Jamie Alexah-Taylor from Defy Gravity (PDC approved). Both girls had completely different styles with Sarah opting for an urban routine with complex choreography and flawless tricks, Jamie chose the slow controlled option and completed the routine with effortless grace. The final scores left each girl with just 0.5 of a point between them resulting in the joint win. There is a video of Sarah's routine here but it is not great quality and doesn't really do her performance justice.

It was a sad night for former winner Annie Norris who narrowly missed out on a place in the finals lost her reigning title. It is so sad that anyone has to lose especially when Annie was still amazing. Annie has her own unique style but, like me, she suffers from tremendous performance nerves and I think the pressure of trying to retain her title proved too much on the night.

After the results were announce it was time for me to hit the M5/A38 and head home, I managed to get a brief chance to chat with the lovely Kate from Spin City as well as the fabulous Bendy Kate (UKAPP Expert  winner) and finally had the pleasure of meeting Alice Milner from Pole Dancing Bath (PDC approved). It was so nice to meet so many truly lovely people and a chance to make new friends as well as catching up with old ones.

A big thanks to everyone who made last night happen, the competition was well organised, fair and very friendly. Fair play to the audience too for showing the competitors the respect they deserved. Can't wait till the finals now!

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Remembering the Pirate of Mutley

This blog has taken me just over a week to actually write, I tried to write it last Tuesday but just couldn't get the words out.

It was last Tuesday afternoon that I discovered a good friend had died, his body was found just yards from my workplace in a Mutley Service Lane. I had been aware of the large police presence so went to be nosey and see what had happened, I was then informed that Brian AKA 'the Pirate of Mutley' or the 'Dude with the dog' had died.

Brian had been a good friend who I had known for many years, he had chosen to live rough after a series of tragic events left him unable to understand the rat race we seem to live in. One day he left the house he owned, shut the door behind him, posted the keys back through the letterbox and took to a life on the streets with his beloved dog Bella AKA the 'Rattweiller'. Some of you may remember my previous blog about a night with Brian where I referred to him as Bill for obvious reasons.

Brian had been unwell in the weeks before his death with a worsening chest infection that had left him coughing and vomiting, I had repeatedly asked him to see a GP and he had joked that if he went he would make sure he saw a female doctor and get a full physical examination as he could do with some female interaction of a personal nature! I won't describe the full conversation but it did make us both laugh.

I have, like so many, fabulous memories of Brian from the time we lived together in Keyham with Rich to the many days and nights we met on Mutley and North Hill. Often, when I finished work I would buy Brian a sandwich or a portion of spicy potatoes (with ketchup, of course!) and buy Bella a sachet of her favourite Caspers selection.
I now dread walking through Mutley knowing that I will not bump into Brian again.

I am so pleased that someone has set up a facebook tribute site to Brian and so many people have made it clear how loved Brian actually was. I had promised Brian that if anything happened to him I would ensure that Bella was taken care off and I intend to keep that promise, her first food parcel is being delivered tomorrow and will include her favourite Caspers meal and some other lovely doggie treats. 

I will never forget Brian and wish life had dealt him a few more chunks of happiness.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 17 October 2010

An Adventure!

After a difficult week involving the tragic loss of a good friend I really needed to get away from it all and cheer myself up. So, Sid and I planned a little adventure in Cappo (my little red Suzuki Cappucino). We decided to be fooled by the blue sky and sunshine and take the roof off the car and leave it at home whilst we set off to Darts Farm via Elvira's for breakfast and then a cross-Dartmoor route via Princetown, Postbridge and Bovey Tracey.

The drive out was absolutely amazing, the autumnal colours of Dartmoor were striking against the perfect, blue, cloudless sky. The roads were fairly empty and the thrill of the cross-country drive and the fresh air racing through my lungs made it thoroughly invigorating. My husband and I were enjoying ourselves until we hit the A38 at Bovey Tracy heading towards Exeter, the fresh air turned to icy cold wind pummelling our faces and turning my ears into small blocks of ice, we suddenly realised why people driving old, convertible sports car wear such strange attire - to stop them from freezing to death! I suddenly had a desire for Thermal underwear, leather hats and goggles!

Despite the cold we made it to Dart's farm in one piece and started to thaw out as we wandered around the shopping centre. Dart's Farm is an in interesting mix of amazing local produce, beautiful homeware, cute kids clothes and overpriced novelties. Be advised to shop very carefully at this place and look very closely at the prices! I had already decided I needed some more Earl Grey teabags so I picked up a small box of Cornish Tea and checked the price tag, realising the ticket must have been misprinted I replace the box and tried the adjacent packet. I started to giggle, probably in shock, as I called Sid over and asked him to guess the price of the teabags. "£5" he joked, "No, £8.99" I replied. £8.99 for 25 teabags from Cornwall! I am sure the teabags were nice but surely £8.99 for 25 teabags is a little steep? I even checked the ingredients to see if they were infused with gold or platinum but they weren't. So, as you have probably guessed, the Earl grey did not make it into my final list of purchases!

I did manage to get some lovely fresh, local, seasonal veg including Green and Purple Kale, Broccoli, and Brussel Sprouts, I also managed to find some delicious Wholemeal Bread, Salmon & Broccoli Quiche, Stilton & Guinness Pate and a selection of eggs from local farms. It was now time to venture back onto the road and face the cold winds again.

Deciding to take the scenic route again we ventured through Exeter City Centre to Quickes Traditional Farm to purchase some cheese; Mature Cheddar and ripe, stinking Jersey Brie we also bought a pint of the most gorgeous tasting milk I have ever tried, I think we may be returning to Quickes again in the very near future!

Within a mile of Quickes Farm we found another little gem in the form of the Beer Engine. The Beer Engine (pictured above) is a traditional family owned pub and brewery and all their ales (pictured at top of this blog) are brewed on site. The pub has a lovely looking menu and a great beer garden. I would highly recommend a visit!

So, it was time to head for home, I tried to stay on the country lanes for a while and then reluctantly headed for the A38 as the sun started to set and the cold increased its intensity. We didn't even get as far as Newton Abbot before I noticed my husband has stopped moving, I couldn't speak to him as the wind turbulence was deafening, I touched his leg but it was as cold as stone, fearing him dead I gave him a little prod and saw his eyes move behind his sunglasses, his hands were hidden beneath his jumper and his hood was tied closely around is face. My predicament was not much better, the 2 jackets were helping but my ears were in danger of dropping of and my fingerless gloves seemed completely unable to retain any heat. 

I resorted to uncontrollable laughter as I caught the faces of the passers by who were also laughing at the two of us in our strange attire, Sid just resorted to pretending to be dead as he told me later that any movement resulted in cold air finding further ways of invading his body. 

We finally made it home where it took Sid nearly 20 minutes to get out of the car, he then remained in front of the fire for a further 20 minutes before he was able to regain the use of his hands. It was a truly fabulous adventure and I have not laughed so much in ages. I can't wait till the next one.

Before I sign off for today I wanted to say what a fabulous time I had on Thursday evening at Jojo's book launch, the evening was a very sophisticated affair set within the stunning surroundings of the Gin Distillery and it's gorgeous vaulted ceilings. The evening was a chance to catch up with old friends including Local artist Brian Pollard and his wife Jane, Cathy Macabe, who was topless and being painted by another local artist, Jojo's lovely wife Mary and son Milo and other familiar faces. A thoroughly enjoyable evening seemed to be had by all. To order your copy of Jojo's book that celebrates the life of Robert Lenkiewicz through the eyes of his sitters just click here.

Loads more news to follow and don't forget that next week is the Bristol Heats of the PoleDivas Championships, I will be there as I am judging.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Friday, 15 October 2010

Breakfast 4 Life

Just a short blog today to share information I have just received about the Breakfast 4 Life campaign that is part of the Government's Change 4 life initiative. 

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I feel it is so important towards keeping me healthy. I simply can't imagine skipping breakfast and functioning normally during the day.  I am always amazed when students come in for a pole dancing class and tell me they haven't eaten all day, not only are they risking damaging themselves by training without the right nutrients but they will not be the getting the best out of my training sessions.

For me, most days involve a rather luxurious breakfast consisting of a small slice of smoked salmon or salmon fillet accompanied by wholemeal bread, 2 poached eggs (Cotswold Legbars or Duck Eggs!), a large spoonful of tomato Passatta ( a much healthier alternative to tomato ketchup) and a sprinkling of black pepper.

For some simple eating and nutrition advice just click here and check out the Food Standards agency's 8 top tips for healthy eating.

Stay healthy and don't skip breakfast!

Sam x

Thursday, 7 October 2010

You can help cure Cancer!

I am sure there is not a person out there who has not been affected by Cancer or does not know a friend, family member, pet or work colleague who has suffered with this awful condition. Cancer is one of the words that just sends a cold shiver down my spine and came far to close to home in April when a routine ultrasound uncovered a tumour on my liver. Luckily the tumour turned out to be benign and is not growing but I had to wait from April till September to be told that everything was OK, the wait was horrendous and I simply can't imagine what it is like to live with Cancer or to watch a loved one suffer.

Thankfully, as I type, more research is being done into preventing and curing Cancer and there are many marvellous Charities such as St Luke's Hospice who do amazing things for those suffering with Cancer as well as offering essential support to their friends and families. I am sure that many of you already donate to Cancer charities and give your time and energy to take part in fund-raising events. 

However, there is something else you can do to help that won't cost you a penny! For the past 15 years I have been taking part in several surveys to help identify the causes of Cancer and to further understand what might increase the risk of us getting Cancer in the first place. The first company I started working with was Epic Cancer and nutrition research, Their research not only helps with valuable research but gives you a great insight into your own eating habits as you record your food diary. If you would like to join in with the Epic study just use this link.

The 2nd company I am involved with is Breakthrough Generations, the UK study of the causes of breast Cancer, which to date has over 109,000 participants. This study does involve giving a blood sample which most GP's will do free of charge for you. I think giving a blood sample is a tiny sacrifice towards finding a cure for Cancer. To learn more about Breakthrough or to take part in their ongoing research just use the link above or visit the Institute of Cancer research.

Let's help beat this terrible disease as well as continuing to support charities like St Luke's who look after those for whom finding a cure is too late.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x