Puppy Love: Hank settles in

First, just to say, you can now read about my French adventures at Hello! Magazine Online. Maybe you have already!  If not, then here is a an update!  And my column/blogs can still be found in Cardiff Life Magazine too every month.

Right, now, you might remember that, not long ago, Lee and I went along to pick out a four-legged addition to our household: a Miniature Schnauzer puppy named Hank.  The breed chosen by me, because I’m allergic to nearly every other ‘make’, and the name chosen by Lee. I’m told it’s after a character in the US TV series ‘Californication’.  I’ve never seen it so I trust his namesake is a good role model!

Hank at just a few weeks old!

Hank at just a few weeks old!

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Channel hopping: From the news to ‘la vie en France’.

After 18 years working, 14 in journalism and 9 in ITV, I am for the first time in my life taking a break. Enrolling on a short term contract as a housewife. There it is in black and white. Although until I’ve started my new job, it will not really seem true.
You may not be so surprised to read that the primary reason for vacating the news anchor hot seat for 6 months was not so much a desire to bake cakes (at which I’m useless) or throw Tupperware parties (if they even exist now).  It was a more a decision motivated by the importance of nurturing the personal and the professional in equal measure.
We spend so much of our early careers competitively chasing ambitions sometimes it’s all too easy to find ourselves taking the most important things in life for granted.

Cheerleading Duties: Dublin, dogs, dentistry and the black stuff.

As regular readers will know, when I’m not in the news hot seat in Cardiff or London, I’m usually heading to France to tend to my long distance marriage!  Hubby Lee plays his club rugby there, so I’m no stranger to an airport terminal and I take very seriously my other full-time job of cheerleader wife.  This month has proved exceptional for journeys in the name of Team Byrne and the oval-shaped ball.

The Clermont Auvergne Wives' supporters club on the road in Dublin.

The Clermont Auvergne Wives’ supporters club on the road in Dublin.  All smiles before kick off.

The stage was set for a Dublin Heineken Cup final for my husband’s team.  Opponents Toulon were always going to be tough and I knew it was time to strap in for a turbulent ride. The game itself provided joy (when Clermont went over the line twice), fear (when Toulon did) and ultimately sheer disappointment.  After a match dominated by Lee’s team, suddenly the opposition managed to turn it around and it was them – not the favourites – who took the championship.  And by just one point.  Needless to say, watching my husband’s cup ambitions slip away was excruciating.

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On yer bike! Rediscovering two-wheeled transportation.

My experiences with motorised transport have been somewhat mixed of late.  What I had imagined as a pleasant, sunny weekend popping to Montpellier in the south of France to watch Lee play in the Heineken Cup semi-final, turned into an epic coach journey, traffic-cursed and plagued with sleet, snow, drizzle and ‘les travaux’.  The only thing that provided a sunny disposition was the happy result.

Safety first. Before setting off on our 'Tour de Cardiff Bay'

Safety first. Before setting off on our ‘Tour de Cardiff Bay’

Meanwhile, in the car in Wales, the problem wasn’t so much clouds, but my head being in them.  Driving to the studios, my seatbelt warning signal kept pinging at me.  It was intermittent as if there were a fault, rather than repetitive, as if someone were not strapped in.  Irritated, I assumed it needed fixing.  Then the penny dropped – or should I say the bag.  Yes, my overloaded handbag, was overloading the passenger seat.  So bulging was it, that the car thought it might be a small passenger. I felt silly.  But it did create some office laughs.

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Spring Awakening! After the longest winter, it’s going to be the hardest haul from hibernation.

 Yes, it may be May.  But the weather has taken a while to get the message.

The start of last month was the coldest on record since the 60s; it’s only been a matter of weeks since I last reported severe snow in Wales; and it’s fair to say most of us are hardly out of overcoats and thick tights.  Winter has so hogged the limelight this year, that Spring has barely yet sneaked a turn on the seasonal stage and Summer is still somewhere in the wings, learning its lines.

It hasn’t always been so shy of attention.  Unless my memories are belied by nostalgia, I’m sure I remember long, hot adolescent summer times played out to the soundtrack of Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.  So why has balmy Britain retreated to the shadows?  Well, science is working on that.  Recently, a hardy ITV news crew visited a small research station in the Arctic.  There they spoke to experts who believe that rapid melting of the ice may be responsible.  A smaller temperature difference between the Arctic and us, means a slower jet stream and longer spells of colder temperatures here.

The result: weirder winters and a nation deficient in Vitamin D.  With reserves in short supply, we’ve all been in extended hibernation until things warm up a degree or two.

Tortoises, perhaps, can teach us a thing or two about this.   Continue reading

Three’s a crowd: why it’s time to switch off mobile phone ‘infidelity’

Are you panic-stricken by missing a message, turning off your tweets or failing to file a status? Does your blood pressure rise when your battery life falls? When you lose reception, do your marbles go with it?

If the answer is to any of these is ‘yes’, then it’s time to recognise the signs of Nomophobia.  Otherwise known as ‘No-Mobile-Phone Phobia’.  Google it. It does exist.  A by-product of the technological world we live in. And it’s going viral.  A recent study found 66 per cent of people in the UK feel the fear of separation from their mobile phones.

I have observed that someone who can’t bear to be apart from their mobile, will display other symptoms too.  As interaction with your smart device increases, direct human contact decreases. I am calling this Mopho-delity.  Or Mobile Phone ‘infidelity’.       Definition: when a smart phone becomes the third person in your relationship. Continue reading

Horses for Courses: How the horsemeat scandal rescued my home cooking…

It’s just gone 7 pm in the newsroom.  The team draws breath after a busy live show. Some button their coats to leave. The late crew, including me, prepares to tuck into standard ‘ready meal’ fare and chew over the next bulletin.  It’s then that the international horsemeat scandal gallops full speed into Wales.  Positive tests for horse in processed beef products made here.

The tests, you could say, are an example of shutting the stable door once the crisis has bolted.  But, nonetheless, UK officials had chased the horse round the food chain and across Europe to be brought home to their own backyard.  Cue jokes about ‘getting the trots’ from ‘a stable diet’ and suddenly, my microwaveable lasagne was infinitely less appealing.

Remember though, the horse scare is not a health scare. In France, where my husband plays rugby, le cheval is a menu regular and recent ‘publicity’ has, in fact, boosted sales there.  The question for the consumer here is not a medical one, but one of trust.  Many of us may not necessarily be so bothered about eating horse.  We’re more concerned about how it got there and what else might have snuck in along with it.

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White Pants To Win : lucky charms & long distance love

andrea byrne

Andrea Byrne

An oh so alluring aroma of sweaty kit pervades the hallway, the remote appears jammed on sport and strange refreshments of coconut water and beetroot juice are breeding in the fridge.  My husband is home. It must be the Six Nations. Brace yourself.

One thing you can be sure of when the great tournament comes to town: everyone develops a penchant for punditry. From the die-hard rugby addict to the girl – or guy – who simply enjoys a dose of men in tight shorts (no shame – you know who you are!) – every fan becomes a sports critic. And to work in a TV station is to be at the epi-centre of armchair analysis. I have often experienced the awkward colleague avoiding interaction with me on team selection day. When Wales are ‘in camp’, the office is an extraordinary place for me to be. Home, on the other hand, offers the novelty of the ordinary.

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