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 29 September 2014

Autumn changes...and packing up the past

It`s hard to enjoy your panini when an aggressive goose is jabbing you in the back. Funny too--just one of the things that made the three of us roar with laughter over lunch beside a Shropshire lake just now.

A couple of years ago we`d have been sitting together round a busy newsdesk-anxiously racing against the clock, planning and reading news bulletins or researching programme reports.Then a couple of us got the chance to take the money and run; jumped at it; and haven`t looked back. The third in today`s group works part time now--leaving her free to write, and do as she pleases.

We`re all lucky to have that kind of freedom now--the chance to meet a friend, do a day`s work at the other end of the country--or not--or jump on a train for a couple of days away. All three of us have faced some really tough challenges in our lives recently. And for all of us, autumn, as it always seems to do, is bringing yet more changes.

Friends are dropping their sons and daughters at University. I`ve just hugged and said goodbye to my youngest daughter for a few months. Her gap year has taken her to the French-Swiss border to work as an au pair. The house is so quiet. But we`re all incredibly proud of her.

And tomorrow--preparation for yet more changes as I head to Kent to continue packing up my late dad`s belongings, ready for his home to be sold. The shredder`s nearly blown a fuse already; chewing its way through decades of correspondence, council minutes, and `phone bills going back as far as the early 1990s. No, I don`t know why he kept them, either. But the house has lost its beating heart now, and it`s time to let someone else breathe new life into it. Busy days lie ahead: sorting through everything; trying not to linger or shed too many tears over the endless photo albums; choosing a few of his huge, cosy winter jumpers to hug me in the chilly days ahead; and bagging up the remainder for his favourite local charities.

It`ll be tough heading out to his beloved garden, maybe taking cuttings from the plants he nurtured. If I can find the key, I`ll take a last look round his little shed and open one of the empty but still aromatic tins of Balkan Sobranie, that he kept for bits and bobs. I might bring one home. Then it`ll be time to rake up the leaves.

Autumn. Time for change. Kids to school. Students to Uni. Birds migrating to warmer climes, even. Probably why that bloody lunchtime goose was after my panini.

Monday 8 September 2014

Technology: you big tease

I get excited by new technology. I like anything that lets you access information more quickly, contact people you need to talk to urgently, or perform chores more speedily. I adore Twitter--the pace; the people; the public rants and the virtual hugs. I love being able to book a room, a trip, a flight, in five minutes. And I don`t even mind the driver-less trains on the London DLR any more.

But sometimes, even when you think you`re up to speed, technology makes a bloody fool of you. It`s not just me--I checked with a scientific sample* of tech-savvy people. So here`s what`s making the blush list:

1) Waiting for a set of double doors to part automatically--in the two seconds it takes you to realise that they`re the kind you have to push open.

2) Starting to say a cheery: `Oh, hi....!`to a recorded message when the number connects.

3) Aiming your car key`s `unlock` button at the wrong vehicle and being sure you can hear your own motor mumble: `behind you, stupid...`

4) Holding your hands patiently under a `non` automatic tap in public loos.

5) In spite of your shame, going on to then hold your hands under the `drier`, before realising it`s a paper-towel dispenser.

6) Waiting so you don`t spoil the tourist`s shot of Nelson`s Column; then realise they`re taking a selfie.

7) Touching the *wrong* kind of screen with finger and thumb-tip to enlarge the picture.

8) Asking your daughters if they can think of any more examples, and getting `that` look.

*OK. There`s no sample . I did all these.

Tell me I`m not alone.

Or forever hold your Tweets.

Happy Monday :)

Friday 5 September 2014

Trash in the attic? Worth HOW much??

Have you ever counted how many `flog-yer-gubbins-in-a-fleece-without-being- fleeced` and `antiques-owned-by-aristocracy-feigning-surprise` type shows there are on daytime TV now?

No--nor had I--but when I was housesitting recently, I found myself with time on my hands and a large mug of coffee, and so did some channel surfing.

Honestly, the TV listings are now packed tighter than a car-boot trestle table with shows like these. You know...people raising a bit of revenue from an ornament. People who `know about antiques`(they have monacles and things), battling to flog other people`s cast-offs for the biggest profit. Teams, even, trying to be first to spot a gem amongst the junk.

We lost Dad recently, and face a fair bit of sorting, ourselves. I always knew it would be a hard task--not just because he`d lived 85 years--but because he was loath to part with many of the items he`d accumulated over that time.We have box upon box; drawers and shelves, and oh yes. The files and folders.

That`s one reason why, as I recorded here, I try to cull my own clutter from time to time. You never know, I might find something useful, or valuable myself.

I mean--don`t you just love it on the Antiques Road Show... when they tell someone really nice that a painting is 'genuine...' or that the piece of pottery they dug up in the garden is 'Actually Very Important'.

Usually, I want to shake the well heeled, tweed jacketed brigade who don't miss a beat when informed that the mahoosive painting of a Man on a Horse is worth twenty grand. I mean... come on - they knew. 'Ooh, we'd never sell it,' they say. I would. Give me a painting worth twenty grand and I'd be off down the auctioneers. Then the travel agent's.Via the cake shop.

Still. A recent monsoon gave me the chance to sort through stuff in a big pine chest of drawers in the spare room. I needed it for clothes, not 'stuff ' , quite honestly, so I had a root through.

(If you're one of the Antiques Road Show team, and you fancy valuing any of this stuff, by the way, contact me via this blog. We can keep it discreet. Snigger.)

First off - the headline news: no diamonds. No works of art .No historical documents (apart from my O and A level certificates). Here's what... for some reason... I've chosen to save in a drawer, for decades.

1) My dad's old  brown leather Boys' Brigade belt. Must be from the 30s. Brass clasp.

2) Mum's autograph book from the 1940s. Someone called Irene Soar signed it. And she added a little ditty. As you did in those days. Clearly, she thought mum would find it useful. It reads: "She who sitteth on a tintack, shall surely rise". Really? Is that some kind of wartime code? Or maybe mum's elocution exercise that day. She spoke proper, see?

3) A Geliot Whitman sub's Depth Scale. Sounds dodgy,but is ok really. Ask a sub-editor.

4) My first ever journalist's contacts book. (Who even HAS them these days?) featuring the telephone numbers of several royal palaces; some radical health campaigners, and quite a few MPs and ministers of state (many now deceased.) We didn't have the internet then.

5) A signed photograph 'to Jane, from Elton John'. It's genuine. I had platform shoes. It has 'provenance'. It also has the Sellotape marks on the corners where I stuck it to my wall.

6) The last ever edition of the London Evening News. (Do I still need this?) Lead story: that it was the last ever edition.

7) A batch of love letters from boys in several European countries. And a few here in England. (I could find you, but I promise not to...) Ahh. The things you realise, looking back. What a load of old baloney.

8) A boxed edition of Saturday Night Fever. Fabulous.

9)The diary of Jane McIntyre, aged 15: "All morning revising French. But I can't stop thinking about Paul T. He's so gorgeous. I'm definitely going to talk to him at youth club on Friday. I've got to"...!

10) And the most precious of all: A sealed, crumpled letter from our youngest daughter to Santa Claus. I must have *stashed it away*. I don't know if I dare open it. I might later.

So there. Several drawers of gubbins. And some golden memories. You can bid if you like. But I won't sell.