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.

Friday 28 December 2012

2012: The best bits

2012: Truly a life changing year. From  Mexico (in my kitchen) a little hideaway in Normandy, to Paris,  New York , Trafalgar Square, Bath , Kent, Blackheath, Greenwich, Soho.... and  many other places in between.  If you had anything to do with these smiles....or are one of my army of fantastic friends, old and new, thankyou.
Wishing you and yours health, happiness and lots of love, fun and frolics in the year ahead xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Tweets by @janemcintyre12

Sunday 23 December 2012

Running at Christmas? Are you MAD?

(Did you find this on Twitter? Pls RT for me? Go on...I`m always RT`ing your stuff ;)  )

And so this is Christmas. It`s ok to eat and drink more. Add a few pounds. Skip the morning run.

That was my thinking, as I lay all cosy in bed this morning. Until I sorted myself out. I know--there`s nothing like a self righteous ex smoker to bore the pants off you, banging on about the benefits.Or a `fitness freak` trying to force you into a 5K. (A whaaat?)

I`ve never been a regular smoker (apart from the school- uniformed, More Menthol phase in the forest* ) so I can`t tell you how good it is to stop. But I have felt like a lardarse, and I don`t want that feeling ever again.

`All` you have to do, they say, is to eat less, and move more. If I`m in the right zone...I can train my brain to want less food. Way less. `Moving more` can be a challenge though, especially in the winter.

You need to want to do it. The duvet dreaming was fabulous. But it gave me time to realise I hadn`t done any useful exercise for days. These were my....

....ten good reasons not to run today:

1) It`s effing cold and windy out there.
2) You know you can`t run with the wind against you.
3) You`re a bloody crap runner.
4) You might die of a heart attack and plop into the swollen Severn.
5) No one will actually know whether you go running or not anyway.
6) It`s two days before Christmas. There`s stuff to do.
7) You can just eat fruit today.
8) You might twist your ankle and not be able to dance at the party, or even just pose in heels. 
9) Just swim more. You like swimming.
10) It`s so cosy here.

I fessed up on Twitter. And there was beautiful Annie (@mossofbath)...saying she`d just got back in from her run. ( A proper one.She`s well fit. Really.)

That was enough. I got dressed, tooled up with trainers, ipod belt, pink running jacket, shades and gloves..and hit the road. Randomly, ELO`s Hold on Tight blasted through my (furry, gorgeous) headphone speakers by way of a starting pistol, and I was off.

False start. Too fast. Here`s the thing, you see. I`m actually the world`s worst runner.Yes I DO get out on my #morningmile as often as I can. But then I stop and start, miss a couple of days, get out of puff, get distracted, give up, walk a bit, take a picture or two, chat to the neighbours, and realise I`m not really building up my mileometer at all.

So, I`ve decided that has to change. I need to be able to get out there and run for five miles, more, eventually, without stopping, and while sustaining a steady breathing pace. But it`s not going to happen without a bit more effort and self belief. So I stopped on the bridge over the flooded River Severn, took a picture for the hell of it, and carried on running. And told myself this stuff. So it`s to remind me, really. But if it helps you too, or even makes you scoff with derision, that`s OK, because I did it anyway.

Note to self: Ten damn good reasons why you need to run today:

1) It`s cold out, so you won`t get hot and sweaty.
2) You`ll feel fantastic when you get home.
3) Someone might have washed up while you`re out.
4) You can listen to loud music that no one else in the house will like (see above); sing it, loudly even, and nobody will complain.
5) You promised yourself when you were going for radiotherapy at lunchtime every day for three weeks, and saw a lady running along the Welshpool Road, that when it was all over, you`d do that too, to celebrate being well. She`s still running. C`mon. You promised .
6) Instead of finding excuses, think of the thousands who`d love to be `able` enough to wear trainers and use their legs.You`re bloody lucky. Get the hell out there.
7) Yes it`s only two days till Christmas, but you`re actually ready for it. Jamie (@jamierothwell on Twitter) says he`s *going postal* in Asda. You don`t have to.
8) The dress is size 12.  
9) You`re not going to die young like mum.You`re going to stick around, remember?
10) Yeh, it`s tough running against the wind. Hard and tough. But then you turn round , and the wind carries you home. You`ll feel it in the small of your back, giving you a gentle push, like a running mate.
11) `Shuffle` might land on `Rock Me Gently` by Andy Kim. You like that one.
12) Exercise boosts mental agility. You could learn to count.

OK...over to you. I`m serious. Running tips welcome!

(Oh and PS: That thing about smoking Menthol More in the woods, during double tennis? Scroll down and read `Teach Your Children Well....` Go on, please. I risked a bloody detention for that. Every bloody week, actually.)

Sunday 16 December 2012

Connecticut. Love, loss--and legislation.

A glorious, chilly, sunny Sunday morning...somewhere deep in the English countryside; a couple of miles from home. A shop, selling broadsheets and tabloids in a stand; side by side in grim solidarity; their front pages a paper patchwork of grief.

 It`s what I`d come for; `the Sunday papers`; knowing they`d be full of Connecticut. The kind of story that you`re not sure you can continue watching when it`s on each gut-wrenching detail unfolds.You can look away, mute the sound, shield your eyes as if you`re watching a horror film--but this happened. This was true.

I don`t know if it hurts more, hearing details like this when you`re a parent. Any humane human, with an ounce of compassion, can relate to this one; can`t they? I tried to imagine the unimagineable. You can`t get close. I rewound to a family holiday at Disneyworld in France. Peak season; packed park; crude,clashing colours, a deafening cacophony of cartoon choruses; everyone clamouring and queuing to hug Mickey and Goofy; smiling; shrieking with delight.

Then: bang. Silence. She wasn`t there.

Our youngest; aged eight,  had slipped from our side. Your heart pounds. Your mouth is, in an instant, dry. Your vision is blurred. Your voice won`t work; won`t rise above a whisper, cracked, curdled; unheard against the pulsating, rocking, now mocking rhythms all around you.

There we were:a father, a mother, a sister, tiny dots in a heaving mass of millions, calling; saying, one name, again, and again; with growing, palpable, panic. You grab at people--have they seen her? know..eight; you think she`s eight, blonde haired...wearing what? Your mind is blank. Pink, probably; but you have no idea what your child is wearing that day. Oh, what--you`re not English? So you can`t even help? You`re enraged. It`s been one minute.

Then three minutes; then six. Then the happy families around you turn, in your mind into grotesque villains, accomplices in some unspeakable plot. A career writing, reading news headlines sends your brain into overdrive. You sense each man; every man around you has played his part in grabbing your child, passing her to another man, and another, out of the park, out of Paris, and you glare, and scream her name louder, angrily now, and the panic is pounding like nothing you`ve ever felt before; a panic you never, ever want to feel again.

Seven minutes, eight, close to ten; now; your voice is fading; you`re alone in the crowd, you`ve split up, gone your separate ways; gasping, grasping at uniformed staff, guessing wildly which way....  no one`s helping; everyone`s the enemy; and, before she is found, safe, you`re sure, as you fear the worst, that you`ll soon want to harm yourself badly, jump off a cliff; but first, kill whoever has done this; whatever `this` is, to your precious, trusting child.

Fast forward to today. And you multiply that panic ten billion times over, a hundred billion maybe and then some, and it doesn`t come close, nowhere even near it, to the panic of the Connecticut families, hearing something`s happened at the school ; and it might have happened to their child.

I got home, and tried to read the papers` version of this unspeakable tragedy. I scanned the headlines; but my eyes jumped to a quote from one of the tiny survivors, a boy, trying in the best way he could, to comfort his teacher and his classmates, as she locked them away from the gunman. ` I know karate,` he said,` so we`ll be OK`.

And you realise that at that age, you do think everything will be ok. You trust people. And you should be able to do that.

I`ll read the rest later. I just feel I owe it to the parents caught up in this, to understand what happened, and to try and get a sense of their loss, and to tell them here, in the only way I can, how much I feel for them; and will think of them in the days and months ahead.

You just hope that, along with sympathy and prayers, and love ; there`ll be legislation . Action. Some kind of awakening. To at least reduce the risk of this ever happening again.

Thursday 13 December 2012

No go on...I`m listening.....

Bit busy. Can`t stop. Could write my own words--but the stuff I`ve overheard this past week has been classic. Do you do this--hear snatches of conversations and either stifle a giggle in the street......or want to butt in and find out more?

I do. Must be my journalistic training; always on the look out for a scoop.

These aren`t scoops, but they`re all true. (Watch out if you`re ever sitting behind me on the bus, by the way...)

1) "I`m going to try for that performing arts place in New York. Haven`t told mum yet. She thinks it`s free in America. It`s a hundred thousand dollars."

2) "I love a log fire, me.With those orangey bulbs, you know, glowing...."

3)"She`s booking Lanzarote. But he thinks he`s going to Ron`s in Coventry..."

4) "It`s not rats and mice you need to worry about. It`s them bed-bugs...."

5) "It doesn`t bother me going out in these rollers. They`re designer. "

6)" If you`re going to park in a loading bay, but not, you know, load....then pretend to load something, just for the cameras"...

7) "Just get them a bloody bottle. We don`t like `em.`They never come round. Wrap it and that, like. Then we`ll  have it."

8) "Look Archie! The Christmas giraffe!"

9) "Oh of course. Cobblers are shut on a Thursday, aren`t they...?"

10) "No I`m not. Because you know what happened LAST time I was in a jacuzzi....."

Monday 3 December 2012

The 12 HEYs of Christmas

They`re everywhere. Glossy women`s magazines with smug pictures of Dawn French, Fern Britton, Livia Firth and Cat Deeley on the front; boasting that they`ve got Christmas `all wrapped up`.

Party canapes, making one bottle of Cava go six ways, the perfect gift guide, the ideal LBD for your shape,and that vital Christmas Day hour by hour cooking countdown will all be there. Along with
 `tantalising` glimpses into how the other half spend their big day, and some tips on `making time for me`. (Just buy one in your life, and stash it away until next year because they don`t change much.)

Or read this.

Sorry if it`s a bit irreverent. I do realise that for some, Christmas isn`t Christmas without a bit of stress.

But it doesn`t have to be. So here are my 12 `heys `of Christmas. Hey! As in revelations. Many of which I learnt the hard way...but now that I`ve seen the light, feel I ought to share with you, as it`s the season of goodwill. It would be incredibly irritating to write HEY! at the start of each one, so just think it, OK?

1) Children`s toys. Get them now. And secretly assemble them in the office, or up in the loft or somewhere. This advice comes to you after a decade of discovering, on Christmas morning, that toy kitchens, plastic play houses, ride-on horses, Barbie Jeeps and magical castles can take HOURS to put together. That`s if the instructions are in English, and you have the time and the practical skills required.Trust me on this, or risk toddler tantrums and cold turkey.

2) Christmas cards: Optional. Has it got to the stage where you have so many to write that it`s become an RSI inducing ritual? Do you actually know the names of all the family members on the card you`re writing this minute? Are you so tired and bored that your signature just a GP`s scrip-scrawl ? Maybe think about making a donation to your favourite charity in lieu of cards instead. And while we`re on the subject of cards, don`t write `catch up in the new year !!!!` if you don`t mean it. If you said it on last year`s card, or they did, and you haven` ain`t gonna happen.

3) Christmas cash--one year, me and my sister realised that we were just sending cash up and down the M1. I`d send her a voucher, she`d send me one of the same value.And then we`d send cash to each other`s children. Each envelope cancelled out the one received. If the grown ups in your family really do have enough `stuff`....maybe don`t march around town aimlessly trying to find them a gift--just meet up for a fab meal out sometime soon, or make a donation to a charity that really needs the dosh?

4) Cooking. It has its place.And gives millions of people endless hours of pleasure.But if you`re not one of them....ask for help. Assign tasks. Share the load. And.... psssst. Christmas markets and festive fayres sell fanTASTic cakes and mince you don`t have to bake unless you want to.

5) Turning up unannounced.`s the season of goodwill and there`s every reason to invite friends and family round for a drink, a knees up, a meal, or more. Surprises really CAN be fun. But if it`s the (not that interesting) couple you met on holiday five years ago who were `just passing` (just as you`re settling down for your favourite movie)`s not that great. Don`t be that couple. Check first.

6) Turning up unannounced...WITH BIG GIFTS. Has this happened to you, too? Not ONLY did they take us by surprise when the room was a complete bombsite with bits of toys, satsuma peel , dog hair, fractious, overtired children and broken nut shells everywhere....but did so armed with piles of presents that, like the guests, we really hadn`t anticipated. Big, expensive gifts. Awkward? Very. Advice in these situations? a) Effusive thanks and honesty  b) Effusive thanks and shedloads of booze down their necks so they don`t notice you`re not reciprocating c) posting a small child on lookout so that you can turn off the lights if said couple approach. Not advised, as children have a habit of screaming `but mummy, we ARE in...` just when you think you have it sussed. Ring first.

7) Working on the Big Day. Lots of people have to. All the blue lighters. People in hospitals. People in hospitality. People on the radio. So while Christmas is special, for lots of reasons.....don`t beat someone up literally or metaphorically, if December 25 is `another day at the office` for someone you love. See them another time.

8) The Food Shop. I remember one year, pre Christmas Sainsbury`s was so crowded that the queues almost reached the back of the store. Most big chains have opened more tills, and got faster. But why risk it? a) do it now and stuff it in the freezer and b) are you *really* going to eat two trolley loads before the shops open again (often on Boxing Day) ? Do you need it all? I reckon we spend so much, and often waste so much on `just in case` stuff. Cut back. Eat less. Give something to your local food bank.

9) Decorations. Do it your way. If a minimal, ice-white winter wonderland with everything matching floats your boat, go for it. Brrrr...but good luck. But if you`re the terraced house I passed near Crudgington last night (December 2) with virtually every brick covered in flashing, dancing lights, and you`re keeping it that way until the new year, then thanks! It made me smile on my dark, cold journey, and looked fantastic.

10) Wrapping up presents. Ohhhhhh. So much fun when there`s time. Such a toil when it`s 1 am on Christmas day and the Sellotape`s nearly finished. And all the tags have gone.I suppose it`d be easier to wrap stuff as you get it. But it`s advice I never heed so...see you at the kitchen table at 1 am on Christmas morning, probably. Don`t lose the end of the Sello, ta. Oh, and `cheap` wrapping paper, isn`t. It rips so easily that you need twice as much to go round the gift, so you might as well buy the more expensive, thicker stuff and stay calmer.

11) What Women Want. Don`t be that man with the `rabbit in the headlight` eyes in Marks and Spencer`s lingerie department this Christmas Eve; grabbing anything that`s left (often in festive red)  because `she can always change it`, and because you checked her cup fitting with the assistant who was `about her size`. Ask her. And, while we`re on the subject...ask HIM. He may not `need` any more socks.

12) Santa Claus is coming to town....He will, and the look on your children`s faces when they realise he`s been, and has scoffed  the mince pie and beer you left out...AND that Rudolph has chewed a couple of the carrots the kids selected for him ...will stay with you forever, and make all the hard work worthwhile. And anyway...they help you see in the dark.....

Have fun xx

PS: The little felt Christmas decorations in the picture are by the lovely Kerry (aka @Kerry_pt3 . You didn`t think I was that clever did you?) And ...number 11? Um...lips are sealed but check out @tootsweetsShrews at Shrewsbury Market Hall if you want to see a big smile on Christmas morning.... !

 I've Done Xmas. Everything wrapped. Stamps bought and waiting to be stuck on. Even made my own tags. I've had 12 months Jane