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.

Monday 25 June 2012

Secret Shrewsbury: shop here and buy one.

And now...for a commercial break.

For two reasons: firstly because this is my blog and I can have one if I want to. And because sometimes, the little guys get forgotten.

So while you`re taking in Shrewsbury`s fabulous medieval past, and its connections with Dickens and Darwin, have a peek at its independent shops and businesses, too. There are lots of them scattered around the town; small bright links in the retail chain.

Just for starters: well, pretty much any of the stalls in Shrewsbury`s Indoor Market; flowers, fruit and veg, clothes and carpets, Chinese spices and champagne.

But first for a mention in Monday`s top four:

Julia Wenlock`s chocolates (@TootSweetsShrew).  I`m not kidding; her salted caramels are to die for. And big slabs of chocolate with honeycomb underneath or nuts on top. I mean...come on....

Secondly: coffee.There are so many really good, friendly places to stop in Shrewsbury now- you`re really spoilt for choice. But before you order your latte, the chicken and mustard salad at Alfie and Billy`s ( @alfieandbillys  ) on Wyle Cop is hard to beat. And they`re so friendly! Plus you can watch the world go by while you`re eating, and sneak a look over the road at the window display in Blushies. Then go there...

There`s a good selection of vintage and interiors shops--but some are hidden away. Just like Eddies. On the edge of  the shops in Longden Coleham; it`s great for a browse . I nearly didn`t stop the other day, but popped in and ended up with two sets of salad servers (one with mother of pearl handles, one set in wood and tortoiseshell; (£5.50 a pair! ) a gorgeous silk scarf, a vintage lace bag for a fiver and a couple of napkins to match a tablecloth I bought there a few months ago. A lot of beautiful things, for not very much money.

And I was just jumping back in the car to go home...and remembered the hanging baskets I bought last year from the plant shop just opposite Longden Coleham school. There are some out the front, or you can ask to go through to the back of the shop, where there`s a little yard full of bedding plants and baskets. I`d never seen this bit before, and was happy to buy from here, rather than one of the massive garden centres that take you half an hour to get round and queue.

So that`s it. No, I don`t spend all my time shopping, and I certainly haven`t got money to burn. But if there`s a smaller independent business worth shouting about, in Shrewsbury or any other part of Shropshire, allow me to shout; and maybe add your favourite, too?

Have a good day!

Monday 18 June 2012

How brave are you?

Can you remember the first time someone praised you for being a tough cookie?
I reckon that, for me, it was when I was tiny, getting a sticker at the doctor`s after a polio jab.

In adult life, I went on to win a bravery plaudit for removing a spider from a boyfriend`s bathroom sink. He found that being a six foot three prop forward`s no use at all when you`re terrified of the eight legged beasties, and want to brush your teeth. The plaudit was undeserved, as it happens, because the arachnid in question was as big as my hand, and hairier than the prop forward, so I sent the boyfriend out, crashed about for a while, slammed the window shut , did that swishy handclapping gesture and yelled a resounding `HA!`.

The beastie was forgotten.

Until 3 am, that is, when boyf popped to the loo, clocked the eight legged bugger running free and let out a bloodcurdling, `YOU LIED TO ME!!!!` that was enough to wake the neighbourhood. Oops.

I`m not always a wuss, though, or dishonest; honest. I mean--doctors and nurses have told me I`m being brave when I`ve had *nasty stuff* to go through in hospitals. Maybe they say that to all the patients though. And while you`d never find me abseiling down the Shard or leaping from a plane, with or without a parachute, I reckon I`ve been dead courageous sticking up for people at work in the past. Royally hammered for it at some considerable volume right across an office once, mind, but it took a certain kind of guts, and I`d do it again. whether the bully was there or not.

You see real examples of true, tearjerking courage in the media all the time, don`t you? And rightly so. Servicemen and women who`ve risked and sometimes surrendered their lives, to protect others. People coming to terms with horrendous, lifechanging circumstances with a stoicism or a smile that`s truly humbling.

But the reason I`m even thinking about bravery at the moment is because of a story, and a woman, a little closer to home. For courage, this lady takes the biscuit. (She`s been nil-by-mouth for a couple of days, actually, but they`ll probably start loading her up with hospital rich teas and buttered toast fairly soon.)

I`m not even going to name her, because although I`m very fond of her, and we`ve talked about this, I haven`t checked that it`s ok to share her story.

So let`s call her Lucy.

Lucy has three children, a husband, a job, a home, everything to live for. She also has a strong family history of cancer, and got the shock of her life a few months back when doctors thought she had an advanced, life threatening lump in her breast. It turned out to be a false alarm, but the nightmare lasted long enough for Lucy to have to think about preparing her loved ones for the worst.

It was a terrifying, wretched experience, and she decided she didn`t want to go through it again.

So this weekend, she`s been having her two, perfectly healthy breasts removed, then reconstructed, so she doesn`t have to feel that fear again; or take her family there again.
It was obviously a major medical procedure, and morphine and an amazing sense of humour`s getting her through it.

I think it`s an incredibly brave decision. For a start, there`s the discomfort and the element of surgical risk. For some, it might seem crazy to take a surgeon`s knife to a perfectly healthy pair of boobs which have been so important to you as a woman, as a mother, as a wife. And for sure, Lucy knows she could, perish the thought, be hit by a number nine bus next week, or face any other kind of disease life chooses to throw at her.

But not breast cancer.

She`s weighed up the risks, the odds, the potential misery her young family could face without her if cancer decided to strike and claim her, and decided to lessen those odds considerably.

Could you do it?

Support your wife or partner if she wanted to put herself through it? I`ve got enough cases of breast cancer in my family to need to consider it too, but I`m not sure that I`ve got the guts to ask for that kind of surgery.

Anyway, I know that in a while, she`ll read this. So,`Lucy`? Loads of love.You`re incredibly brave. Your friends and family love and support you, and can`t wait to give you a (gentle) hug. Well done.

ps Reading this on Twitter? Please RT for me. Thankyou!!

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Why don`t you write me...

(....I`m out in the jungle; I`m hungry to hear you...)

So who compiles these blog stats, then?

Just over 1900 views of my profile page. (Hang on...updating this in April `13...nearly 4000...wooop!!--Thanks!!)

And according to the breakdown of my blog stats, in the nine or so weeks I`ve been writing it, there have been more than 4,000 page views from, well, all over the world.(Better update this too...heading for 17,000 as of April 25...!)

*Don`t want to do meself down, nor nuffink* (as we say where I`m from...) but that does seem an awful lot.

So do me a favour.

If you`re one of the (apparently many) people reading this from outside Shropshire, let me know. If you`re outside the UK...ditto. If you`re the one person in Russia who`s reportedly had a little looksie, 98 times, or one of 98 people in Russia who`ve looked and never bothered again, fair play, but say hi?  Ten from Germany, others in Guernsey and Brazil.


This fascinates me, and I`d like to get to know you, and maybe, read your blog too.

So...with additional apologies to S and G....` ....mail it today ....if it`s only to say...that you`re reading me....`

Saturday 9 June 2012

Act your age. Or don`t...

So there`s this piece in the paper today about why 26 is the time to start acting your age. And it offers, helpfully, a list of 50 `tell tale signs` that you`re all grown up.

Things like... having a mortgage. Writing a will. Knowing what an ISA is, and a tracker. Being able to bleed a radiator. Liking gift vouchers. Knowing how to change a tyre. Taking your make up off before you go to bed.

Apparently, you should be pretty grown up at 26, says the paper.

At that age, I certainly felt grown up. I had my own mortgage (is that a sign?), had been in love several times, had experienced joy, pain, grief, success and failure, could throw one hell of a party and survive the mother of all hangovers.

At 26, I could probably have  ticked off about 20 out of 50 of today`s `tell-tale signs` of being an adult.

How about today?

I`ve checked. It`s 23.This is a low score, *at my age*. This pleases me.

Some people who`ve `been round the block`, which in all honestly, I guess I have, would probably relish the thought of being able to tick off all fifty accomplishments. In fact, they`d be mortified ,at the age of lah di dah, if they couldn`t. But quite frankly, I have no intention, ever, of being able to complete the list.

I mean,OK,I`m glad I can cook an evening meal from scratch, and have been on several trips to the local tip. (These are signs of being grown up, y`see....) . I`m glad , too, that I  `have a view on politics` and `watch the news`, and also do a fair bit of recycling.

But enjoying trips to garden centres? Filing my post? Having a `best` crockery set? Get lost !

23 out of 50 is as good as it`s ever going to get. So I guess I`m never actually going to grow up.


And, for the record, I don`t intend, at any point in my life, to :

1) go grey
2) wear a beige anorak
3) wear any anorak
4) wear an anorak that resembles in any way the anorak that my partner happens to be wearing, and then *walk down the street together in them*
5) enter into a conversation about anoraks and trade names.
6) do the ironing
7) carry a spare shopping bag, `just in case`
8) stop having parties
9) stop leaping round the kitchen to `Play that funky music, white boy` or, indeed `Gimme Shelter`.
10) tell the truth, EVER, to ANYONE, about my *actual* age. This includes lying on official forms and in magazine surveys which ask you to  `tick the box to show which age range you`re in`.

Oh...and I won`t stop wearing red lippie, either.

Have a good day! --And if you`re reading this on Twitter...could you possibly RT it for me?


Sunday 3 June 2012

Armed and extremely fabulous

So did the royal pageant float your boat?

Or were you with the anti monarchists today, with their `Don`t Jubilee`ve It` banners?

From about the age of four, there was no doubt in my mind that the royal family was a good thing. You do, when your dad`s in the royalty protection team, working long hours, strange shifts, and entire summers away at Balmoral . Sometimes we got to visit him; stay in the area. I remember marching through deep, dark, pine forests, down to the rushing waters of the Dee, and finding out later that the small boy I`d been chatting to was Prince Andrew.

I always knew, of course, that dad would do anything for me, and my mum and my sister. But then to find out that he`d been selected as a personal protection officer, you realise he`d do anything for the royal family take a bullet for them. But you know he`s armed much of the time, so you hope it doesn`t come to that. And thankfully, it never did.

So today I spent much of the time not looking at Charles and Camilla weaving through the Piccadilly crowds...but trying to play `spot the bodyguard`. Not exactly difficult.... but I remember hearing so much about the do`s and don`ts. The people you watch; the sounds you`re listening for; the bigger picture.

There were plenty of times when I thought the royals saw more of dad than we did.It was probably true for a while. A royal wedding in Nepal here....trips to Mustique there...Sydney, Tasmania, Malaysia....places we could only dream about. We missed him. But were so proud of him.

And as I`ve mentioned before, the gifts he chose for us were always something special. And there were some members of the royal family who understood how much we`d missed him on long trips away. Twice we got invited for `supper` at royal palaces, to see some of the pictures they`d taken of their trip.

I mean-- HELL-- what do you WEAR?

We took advice on that; chatted, had two fantastic evenings and were made to feel really important. There were always Christmas cards from the royals; a garden party or two, and even boxes of apples from the Sandringham estate.

So, Ma`am. I hope you`ve had a great day. And I hope some of the family you have around you this evening reflecting on it, remember my dad....`McIntyre`, too.Tell them he`s been down at his local, scoffing a hog roast, and is settling down around now to watch a recording of you and the fabulous pageant from the comfort of his armchair.