Follow me on Twitter: @janemcintyre12



I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Ten good reasons to love the rain...with MUSIC!

1) If you go running; you have an excuse not to: the puddles and stuff.
2) It`s so cold, you need cake.
3) You can put the heating back on *even though it`s April*. (Just)
4) You can feel all smug and cosy when it`s hammering down on your roof.
5) You don`t have to wash the car. Pointless at all times, especially now.
6) It waters the garden and the farmers` crops (yeh ok, enough already)
7) You don`t have to ponce around in skinny summer vests just yet.
8) You don`t have to cut the grass.
9) Your kids` footie matches all get cancelled so you don`t get soaked on the sidelines.
10) You can snigger at the `Holidays at home are GREAT` ad campaign on telly.

Now shut up moaning about the weather and have these as a little musical hot water bottle from me to you.... just CLICK and singalong :)

The Lovin' Spoonful 

The First Class - Beach Baby


Beach Boys - Do It Again

Saturday 28 April 2012

It`s Saturday: Get Passionate.

Know how many times I`ve been to the Greenhous Meadow in Shrewsbury--home of Shrewsbury Town Football Club?


Once for the fantastic Midnight Walk in aid of the Severn Hospice a couple of years ago. We warmed up there before the event; and hugged each other in the dead of night a couple of hours later after a brilliant fundraiser.

Oh..and the Elton John concert last year.Shouted and sang ourselves hoarse from the terraces.

Today`s decibel levels are likely to be louder still, as the Shrews try and clinch automatic promotion. Just because I don`t `follow` football,the Shrews are `my` local side.I watch their progress, listen to the match commentary on BBC Shropshire, and get a taste of the passion that true Shrews fans feel, week in, week out, for their team.

I did some shopping the other week at the retail park near the ground. I was heading back to the car, but was stopped in my tracks by the rising roar of Shrews fans from the Meadow. It was brilliant to hear the swell of passion for their side.I stopped and smiled, and back in the car, was gripped by Stuart Dunn`s explosive, compulsive commentary all the way home. Have you heard him..or the equally fab Nick Southall covering the Telford games? Whether you love football or don`t; they`re painting the picture for you; capturing the atmosphere. They have an incredible skill.

Listening to the build up to today`s crucial game made me think of other, fabulous sporting moments that have had me shouting at the radio or the television. `That` Wilkinson kick in the Rugby World Cup. Redgrave`s fifth Olympic rowing gold. Shropshire`s Sandy Lyle winning the British Open in `85 and the Masters three years later. Gripping stuff, all of it.

With passion,comes pride--and you share that pride if it`s `your` team raising the cup,clinching promotion or winning gold for your country. Roll on London 2012--I`m going to be screaming at the screen when the athletics start.Just don`t touch the remote.

Today though, it`s local, and it matters. So don`t knock me because I haven`t watched the Shrews in action.I`ll be there in spirit, listening to Stuart and his sidekick Steve Cross, reading tweets from the Shropshire Star`s Dave Burrows, and willing them on.

PS (hours later....they did it! Well done #Salop...and well done, well done Dave Burrows from the Shropshire Star--top Shrews fan  !)

Thursday 26 April 2012

Pie and a pint, please.

I`m off for lunch with Jo shortly.

And frankly...I`m a bit worried about it.

She`s suggested somewhere that,well,how can I put this..she`s suggested somewhere that I might have considered for lunch about two decades from now. So for that reason, to be honest, I`d rather not say any more.

OK. It`s in a garden centre.

And I know the food`s supposed to be lovely. But my dad goes for lunch in garden centres. Won`t we feel-you know-out of place? Or maybe that`s the point. She wants to take me somewhere that makes me feel positively juvenile.

Mind you-it was the same Jo who led me and a colleague astray a few months ago at a very fine cocktail bar in town. We dressed for the occasion. Knocked a few back. Spent a fortune. The place was heaving. And most of the clientele were a fair bit younger than me. And Jo, actually, though she`ll thump me for saying that. Did it matter? I dunno.

When our 21 year old daughter popped back from University for the weekend recently, she was aghast to hear that her dad would be in town on the same night as her. With `the lads`. `But he`s not going into any know...MY bars, is he?` she whispered. He didn`t.

So are you defined by the places you visit? Once you`re over the age of 18, is there an unwritten, unspoken age limit on restaurants and bars?

And if you have to be the `right` age to frequent some places, do you have to be the right `kind` of person, to visit others? I went to the Lucian Freud exhibition in London recently. Don`t ask me for details; I know nothing about art (yeh, ok...`but I know what I like...`)So I went to learn. And although there were clearly scores of true art lovers there, standing back and admiring his amazing talent; there were quite a few who, I suspect, were there to be seen. The ones who spent more time looking at the crowd than the canvas.Quite a few had little Chanel handbags dangling over their shoulders. Get the picture?

But maybe I worry just as much about what people think. You know..where I am; who I`m with. For instance-if I fancied, say, a pie and a pint, and I knew that the best ones were served up in a very traditional `spit and sawdust` type pub in town....packed out, pretty much, by blokes...would I venture in...alone? Would it be the `right` place for me to be seen? Or would the other,regular boozers in there...snigger ? Maybe I should just tuck in and forget Fred and his ferret at the next table.

Love to know what you think ;0)

Tuesday 24 April 2012

I`m brand-y. Fly me.

So what do you have to do to get sponsored round here, then?

On some blogging sites, including this one; there`s a little column of options down the side. And one is tantalisingly marked `earnings`.

I mean-it`s ok if you`re one of the first home in the London Marathon. They got bright red Virgin branded towels thrown round their shoulders. If you were fourth or fifth; forget it-you were just ushered round the back; sweating anonymously.No photo opportunity, see?

And it`s easy if you`ve got the cheek. Apparently some of the beach volleyball players in this year`s Olympics will have a QR code (quick response-yeh-funny..) on their bikini bottoms.It links to their sponsor`s site. How close you have to be to their backside with your mobile before the link kicks in; I`m not sure. And how would you convince anyone that you were `just activating the QR link` anyway? Dodgy.

It helps if you have a name, doesn`t it? Like Daniel Craig. I read that his new Bond movie, Skyfall,sealed a deal for him to be seen drinking Heineken in at least one scene. You wouldn`t want to be shaking and stirring a can of that, really, would you? It could go off all over your gorgeous blue trunks. Mmmmm.

Mind you; there`s dosh in drinking even if you`re not quite as well known as Daniel. If you`re someone like Fred Dell, for instance. Did you read about him? His pub in Fleetwood has made him a `freeman`. He`s been drinking there since 1936. And now gets free beer for life. (I mean--he`s 94. There are deals, and deals, aren`t there? If you want me, Bombay Sapphire; I`m ready for you. Do it now).

Of course,I can say `Bombay Sapphire` as often as I like now, because I don`t work for the BBC any more. When you`re signed up to the Corporation, you have to be damn careful about product placement. And showing your political colours, if you have any. Just for the record; I always found Keith Barrow to be a real gent. He was damn polite about my coffee in the studio; and smelt of lovely cologne. I still have a soft spot for Vince Cable. ( No, I know, but I can`t help myself.I think it might be the ballroom dancing.) And I definitely find Chuka Umunna *interesting*. There. That`s balanced.

Finally, now that I`ve got the bit between my teeth,I might just throw in a quick *Nike Nike Nike*; given that I`m running again. I appreciate that I`m hardly belting over Tower Bridge with the world`s cameras tracking me. I`m actually shuffling through a village with a population of about 300. But it`s a start.

(Is that enough, do you reckon? I-what- sit here with a plate of marmite toast and a coffee and wait for the phone to ring? OK then.)

Tuesday 17 April 2012

London calling

Shropshire`s a beautiful place to live. We`re so lucky to have access to its hills,lakes,stunning castles and beautiful market towns.And although it`s got its pressures, it always feels like life in the slow lane. In a nice way. So now and`s good to have a shot in the arm of city life too.Even if it`s just to appreciate what you`ve left behind.

I know as soon as I get off the train at Euston tomorrow, my first instinct will be to run. I was born in Ealing, in west London and remember being taken on the tube as a toddler, running down endless subway corridors against the rush of the underground draught if we heard the rumble of the train pulling in at our platform.

At 19 I was commuting from the suburbs to the city to work as a journalist, nearly always running for the 8.08 to Charing Cross, squeezing in to find a seat, then leaping in and out of taxis or trains and sometimes catching planes during my working week. Always against the clock.

Tomorrow there are no meetings. No business courses. No pressures. I booked a ticket ages ago for the Lucian Freud exhibition, so an amble round that is on the cards, then dinner and a show with my eldest daughter who`s studying in London.

On Thursday at Charing Cross station I`ll smirk at the commuters belting across the concourse, and head out against the flow to see Dad in Kent. That`s the plan. So if I`m in your way, or not running quite as fast as you (even though I could....)...then tough luck. I`m taking my time.

Monday 16 April 2012

Don`t mess with my Toot Toot...

.......but feel free to mess with yours...especially if you`re driving behind me while I`m out running and you just fancy er...parping your horn.

Back in the eighties you`d have seen me swing round with a roar and a rude gesture. But today--out in the sunshine, and now that my furious and feisty feminist past has mellowed...I`m grateful for all the toots I can get, frankly.

Of course,the lorry driver might have been alerting me to his presence, in case I fancied leaping into his path. Pah. I do, often get it wrong.

Only moments before, I`d turned from the lane where I live into what we call `the secret path`. It runs between the lane and the main road, and is narrow with overgrown trees and shrubbery each side, quite dark and tunnel like but lovely really. Anyway,it runs alongside our neighbour`s garden.I usually stride up the lane to warm up a bit, trot up the path, and start running when I hit the main road.

Today I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of Fred. That`s not his name, but I`d like to conceal his identity. Fred was sitting in the middle of the (narrow, remember...and dark) path, on a fine, ladder backed kitchen chair. `Lost the plot`, he said. Not sure whether to empathise enthusiastically....or turn back and tactfully pretend I hadn`t seen him, I tried a `pardon?`. `WATCH THE POT!`;he repeated, pointing to the tub of paint he was using to touch up his fence.

See what I mean about getting the wrong end of the stick? I`d finally got to the end of my route (really not far...but further than yesterday) when I noticed two of the village` statesmen, standing at the end of a driveway.`You ant come farrrr`, said one. I told him I`d only just started running again..and this was my morning mile. At which point they both chortled...and started reminiscing about the last time they could `go a mile in the morrrrrrrrrnin`.

Ahh. Village life. Double entendres. Happy running....!

Saturday 14 April 2012

Ninety minutes from now........`ll be all over. Jo Cunningham`s incredible 12 hours on a cross trainer at a gym in Shrewsbury. She`s raising money for the Alzheimer`s Society, and Al`s Cafe, a social group for people with dementia, and their carers. And yes, I know I`ve written about Jo before (please grab a look at my April 6th post :`When the going gets tough` find out why I love this girl...! But here you go: once more, with feeling.

Whatever you`ve been doing today, Jo`s probably been pounding away on the cross trainer for much of it. I last called in on her at around 3pm, and she`d only had two breaks of around a minute each. She looked fresh, smiley, full of energy, and was going at a cracking pace.

That was eight hours in to her amazing charity challenge. Much earlier, there`d been just three of us in the gym. Jo, Tara and me. Tara`s mum has Alzheimer`s. So does my dad. And Jo`s own dad has a form of dementia called Pick`s disease,diagnosed when he was still just 58. We had this strong, heartbreaking link in common, and talked about how cruel the disease can be for those with it, and those who love them.

Whether or not you know someone with dementia, please spare a thought,or a bit of cash, for Jo, the ones we love, and her extraordinary feat today.

I`ll be back at the Shrewsbury Club (used to be the Welti)just before 7pm tonight to see Jo finish. Why don`t you come along too and give her a huge cheer. Go Jo. You`re an amazing mate, and what you`ve done today is an inspiration">

Friday 13 April 2012

Tales of the unexpected (and a PS to this)

Sometimes, it`s good to have a routine, isn`t it? A few months ago mine involved getting up at 3.30 every morning to produce a radio show--hard in winter, but a pattern all the same.

When you work in news, you never really know what lies ahead, but you know roughly when you`ll be reporting it! Now I`ve left the Beeb,for the first time in years,there`s no real structure to my day, which is weird, but I`m loving it. I`m going to freewheel for a bit, and see what happens.

But even if you`re pretty sure you know what`s going to happen most days at home or work, there`s occasionally one call, one conversation, one chance meeting...once incident, maybe...that can make your schedule, your day;and sometimes your life... turn a rightangle.

Even though I haven`t got a strict routine at the moment, something happened to me this week that could throw things out of kilter.

Doesn`t mean it`s good. Or bad. And I`ll ignore today`s date completely. But it`s got me thinking. Anyway...whatever today holds for you...hope it`s happy.

PS: Oh ...and that thing that threatened to throw everything out of kilter? A scary lump on my neck. Which, after what happened last year..wasn`t welcome. Several examinations and blood tests`s apparently `nothing to worry about`. Phew. Life goes on ;0)

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Drunk in tent

Did you hear that hail? It was bad enough pounding the top of my car roof this morning, but looked a bit grim for the row of tents at our local campsite.No tea brewing, by the looks of things. No sign of life at all, really.Maybe they`d gone for the double zipped sleeping bag option to beat today`s icy blast.

I`d never really believed you could have that much fun under canvas. The ground`s so damn hard. Then a neighbour, who by chance, owned a marquee company at the time, suggested we all bring in the new millennium in one of his. It was massive.The whole street got together; invited friends;shared the catering;booked the posh Portaloos;sorted the sounds--oh and the `in-tent heating` and a fantastic night was had by all. With many more new years eve celebrations to follow, in similar amazing marquees.

You have to get the tent pegs in tight, don`t you? I know this; because at a post party coffee and brandy session round ours at about 3 am one wintry January 1st, I realised to my complete horror that I`d left several untouched *chocolate* puddings on a table in the tent. It was dark. And snowy.The lane was full of potholes. And my skirt was tight and my high heels high. But, like I said, it was chocolate. So I walked--kind of sideways--down the lane, to find the marquee securely zipped up for the night. Like a canvas Fort Knox.There was only one thing for it. I burrowed under the bottom of the tent, and slithered in,like a commando. Not *commando*, you understand, but like one. Covered in mud (it had been a long night, and I was past caring...) I just managed to stand in my heels and locate my chocolate roulade and a banoffee pie, I think.Now.How to get them back out of the marquee....and home (in heels).

I checked (and confirmed) they were still good enough to eat; passed them under the gap I`d curved into the canvas until they rested on a low shelf of snow outside,then followed them through. This had taken about forty minutes. It was another fifteen or so, before I was standing upright, in the snowy field, in heels, with a plate in each hand--desperately trying to keep the chocolate on the china.

I staggered back down the lane, and with mudsmeared hands and face, (there may have been a little chocolate on my face memory`s hazy....)...held my trophies aloft to my guests. As they climbed;waving maniacally at me, into their three, homebound taxis. They were pretty wasted; but believe me, the puddings weren`t.

The field where the marquees used to be has been turned into a plot for a lovely house now, for the same neighbour, so no more parties. But plenty of memories.And an enduring curiosity about life under canvas....

Tuesday 10 April 2012

We`re all in this together

Nope. Nothing to do with D.Cameron or E. Miliband and which of the two leaders claimed the slogan first. (We`re clearly not, anyway, try another line.)

No..It`s a song...quite a cheesy one...but one that I still love...and am now counting the hours to hear.It`s part of a show tonight at Theatre Severn, put on by an incredibly talented young director called Ross Wigley.He can sing, dance, choreograph, lead a team, motivate them...and he`s still just 21.

His company`s putting on High School Glee`sical this week--promising to be a lively combo of some of the top tunes from both those productions, and a few Disney gems in between. And I guess when we hear the `Together`song, it`ll underline how hard the entire company`s worked on this. They range in age from 15 to late 20s. Some, like our 15 year old daughter,are studying (occasionally)for their GCSEs--in between rehearsals.Others are applying to university, or already holding down jobs--a couple of teachers and estate agents among them.

But between them they`ve worked so hard--some even bashing out set construction and costumes. And they can sing--really well.

I`ve often tweeted from the cold, dark carpark outside their rehearsal venue, late on Tuesday nights....longing for a hot coffee and a warm fire. But tonight we see the results of all that hard work inside, and I know it`s going to be fabulous (another musical clue there...).

It`s also a bit closer than the production that dancing daughter no.1 directed, sang and danced in a couple of Saturday nights ago, at the Tramshed in Woolwich.(By her Uni`s Glee Society. God I`m glad they love musical theatre and not Shakespeare....).

For various reasons, that meant an afternoon hammer down the M1 and a drive back to Shropshire the same night, in the wee small hours.Knackering? Certainly. Amazing? Definitely. Proud to be their mum? What do you think.....?

Monday 9 April 2012

Life`s a beach...

......and it`s been too damn long since I ran along one. Aberdovey; actually, in February, bright and calm, as the sun was coming up.

Now look at it. Easter Monday and it`s bucketing down; in spades, which isn`t great if you`re sitting at the seaside with misted up windows and a back seat full of fractious children.

But I still think...rain or shine, there`s something mesmeric about just gazing out to sea. It`s a great stress buster. But always best if the place isn`t too packed.

I once spent an entire, post A level fortnight with `the girls`on sunbeds in Magalluf, close enough to hear skin sizzling all around. Yep,we got golden tans, cheap cocktails and love letters from Lars, Henrik and Sven until September, or very, very late August at the least, but we could have been anywhere.And the beach was so packed with row upon row of slow roasting tourists that we couldn`t really see the sea anyway.

Give me a brisk winter walk along Harlech`s vast expanse of sand any day; rain or shine...or if it`s got to be abroad,steer clear of the Costas and try one of Normandy`s sassy, classy Honfleur.

Or if you want a little taste of Trouville to whet your appetite; catch the delicious Rachel Khoo tonight (BBC2 8.30pm ;repeated on Saturday 11.30am on BBC1) with the latest edition of The Little Paris Kitchen--she takes a day trip there. Yes I`m a fan. Someone who loves Paris, food, and red lipstick..AND the seaside? A bientot x

(On Twitter? Me too: @janemcintyre12 and @normandycottage)

Sunday 8 April 2012

Chocolate:the final frontier...

I love it and I hate it. If I taste even the tiniest corner, I have to finish the whole damn slab. Yep, even if it`s a family sized stonker. The kind the health police have now told chocolate companies to label as *IDEAL FOR SHARING*.Get lost. Fat chance.

I did, however, once share an attic flat at the top of an old mansion in Chislehurst with a wonderful girl called Anita. Because a couple of the rooms were Toblerone shaped;chocolate (and men) were on our minds a lot of the time. Mine (chocolate bars...not blokes...) would arrive in a rush; the result of a quick dash to the garage and a sprint up three flights of stairs to work off what was to follow. In,slam door shut; frenzied ripping off of wrappers; scoffed. Game over.

Anita, though, would unwrap hers slowly and seductively.... teasingly breaking off just a square...then maybe another...then leaving the rest of it seminaked ; peeping through the folded back wrapper...tempting anyone (I was her only flatmate) who might glance into `her` cupboard to check out the tomato puree situation. In her mind, it was there as a little treat for herself the next night. She soon learnt that was a bad idea. Finders, keepers. You see it; you eat it. Fact.

I`ve tried the completely calorie free variety too--you know--the bar you munch in the car all alone? Nobody sees you eat it if you drive fast enough ; so you get home..and the chocolate thing never really happened. Until the scales give your secret away. Been there, didn`t like it.

But I`m staying strong! It`s been tough. I would, frankly, kill for one of Julia Wenlock`s chocolate covered honeycomb bars today, or virtually anything she produces at her Shrewsbury based business, (she`s on Twitter, too, at @TootSweetShrew ...go my share...!) but once I know the story.These days, the bathroom scales are making me smile, and that`s the way it`s going to stay .Happy chocolate chomping if that`s what you`re up to today :) And happy chocolate week to Julia and everyone else whose beautiful creations tempt and delight us.

Saturday 7 April 2012

Pine cones and Metro maps

I`ve awarded myself the Order of the Pine Cone this morning. My morning runs are still slow, and short, but I`m getting there. And instead of leaping over the carpet of cones in my path today, I picked one up. OK, a bit like a trophy. I`d made it to the end of my village without the use of a defibrillator. And I threw it in a basket full of the little beauties when I got home.

Most are from a twenty footer in the garden, which started life as your standard festive, fairylit affair. On the 13th day of true love said to me...`fetch a shovel,love; this might take root`.

Anyway, we planted it; and it`s now massive. It rains a few cones down from time to time to show how well it`s doing.Others are from walks and places visited . No idea what my fascination with them is...but I`m going to collect one every time I run.

Oh..and the Metro map? I strapped it to the front of my diary with a high tech elastic band in murky, mizzly January; longing for freedom, and Paris in the springtime.

One`s now sorted; one`s so close I can smell the boulangerie. Simple rewards; effective incentives.Want to know your best route from La Fourche to Michel Bizot? I`m your girl. And if I see the odd Parisian pine cone while I`m there; I`ll nab one of those too: as a memento and a symbol of mission accomplished.

Friday 6 April 2012

When the going gets tough...

............people like Jo Cunningham get going. Have you heard about Jo? These are some of the things she`s good at: journalism, PR, radio production, juggling life as a working mother,walking Daisy, looking pretty good most of the time, coping with the crap life throws at you...did I mention being a good mate? Yeh I know I mentioned good mates in the last post; but without them--where would you be, really?

So instead of sitting here in my trainers thinking I should go for my daily dash, I`ll dedicate this one to the lady who started me running again, about a year ago. Not only did she sort out that `couch to 5K` app thing on her iphone; she made sure, pretty much, that we stuck to it. We ran about three times a week round the paths behind Sundorne Sports Village.It got to the stage where I could even breathe. And, eventually, gossip. Only in short bursts, mind;so it never got too salacious. Sadly.

Then the `being a good mate` thing stepped up a gear but the running had to stop (heard of DCIS? Not too threatening, but with my family history of breast cancer it was scary, and I could`ve done without it..). And Jo was one of only a handful of people who knew I was getting up at 3.30 am to produce a live radio show, then rushing off for three weeks` intensive radiotherapy every lunchtime.

She, and Ian and a couple more special people got me through that. And I`m running again. (Yeh, I`ll go out in a minute, honest, coach.)

But anyway....Jo`s had tough times of her own. You can read about her Dad, and what she`s doing to help him and others with different kinds of dementia, on the link below.

And when you`ve read it, think about how long you could last on a cross trainer...and how on earth Jo`s going to spend most of 12 hours on one, a week or so from now.

Like I said, she`s tough, and she`s kind. She even did a radio feature on Al`s Cafe, which is one of the places which will benefit from Jo`s efforts. It was an amazingly powerful piece of radio, and quite rightly ended up on BBC Radio 4`s Pick of the Week.

So--it`d be great if you could support her.Click here:">

Thursday 5 April 2012

A Big Mexican

Meal, that is; not bloke. Guacamole, enchilladas. spicy chicken n`cheese --oh and tortilla chips with all kinds of things on top, warmed and served up as canapes.

That was the feast served up on Saturday night, by the man they called Dolmann back in the 80s, when he had a number one hit in Me-hi-co. Truly.

It was called `High Sex Drive`, and, come to think of it, we should have got him to sing it for us.A kind of inter-course treat.

But `Yes, Chef!`, as he became known , and the non Mexican sounding Maitre D` (aka Ian Perry), were way too `busy in the kitchen`.

And it wasn`t *just* that it all tasted fabulous. It was the gesture. By some amazing mates who sat in my house and raised several glasses to the start of my new life.Life outside the BBC bubble. Life with a dollar in my pocket and freedom to do, every day, what I wish.

It was a top night.They`re fantastic mates. And do you know...they washed up afterwards.