Friday, 28 February 2014


Ever wondered what we get up to at Crossfit?  Today was open day: (30 x double under skips + 15 x snatch) ... as many as possible in ten minutes.  Simple!

And here is what it looks like.  My friend Jess is modelling.  Thanks Jess!  Here she is starting her first set:

And here she is killing my poor attempt in her last set:


Thursday, 27 February 2014

I'm off...

To Mongolia!

Flights are booked!  Here is a random photo of me in a moustache and a bridesmaid dress to celebrate.

The call of the Colonel

Every once in a while, cycling home, I don't make it past a certain point on the Old Kent Road.  Oh well!

While waiting for my dinner there was a tense stand off between some tired looking KFC staff and a customer who was v.cross to receive his BBQ sauce in sachets rather than tubs.  And wasn't prepared to order a dipper meal to receive his tubs.

The angry customer's friends stood behind him and giggled while he bought drinks for random passers by and threatened to touch the manager.  I was nearly crying with laughter by the time the manager gave in,  whilst crossly asserting "you can't touch me you can't touch me".

Response?  "I'm going to touch you AT NIGHT fam.  And whenever I like!"

Lol lol lol.  

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Eye Health Innovation Grants

Need a reason to donate?  Read on ...

Standard Chartered’s Seeing is Believing, a collaboration between the international bank and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), has awarded eight innovation grants totalling USD1 million to a series of institutions, including  NGOs, an NHS Trust, universities, and a private company in a bid to bring high quality eye care to low-middle income countries.

In May 2013, Seeing is Believing called on innovators from across the world to bid for funding to develop new ideas with the potential for significant impact on the way eye health is delivered in low-middle income countries. After receiving over 300 proposals from institutions from more than 50 countries, eight grants have been awarded:

  • CBM UK: establishing the optimal and most cost-effective primary treatment for glaucoma in Africa
    The grant will fund an African glaucoma laser trial to test the long-term clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a new, pain-free laser treatment for glaucoma – Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). CBM will evaluate whether the long-term costs and success rate of SLT are better than current treatment approaches involving the continued use of eye drops, with a view to recommending SLT as a primary glaucoma treatment across Africa.

  • Ellex Medical Pty. Ltd: halving the cost of cutting-edge lasers for eye treatments in the developing world
    The grant will fund a pilot project for the development of a low-cost, affordable pattern scanning laser for use throughout the developing world, in order to improve patient access to laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy.

  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: applying innovative NHS practices to train health workers on one of the leading causes of blindness
    The grant will fund an online training model that’s proven effective in training staff to accurately identify diabetic retinopathy in patients in the UK. The model will be scaled up and tested internationally, initially focusing on training health workers in Indonesia, Botswana and Bangladesh.

  • London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine: management skills for the forgotten middle  
    The grant will fund a project to develop and pilot the use of an online portal to deliver free planning and management training to remote-based, mid-level health workers in Botswana, Ghana and Kenya. As mid-level health workers have a better on-the-ground view of the eye care needs in a given area than senior health workers based in capital cities, this idea hopes to dramatically increase their management expertise. 

  • London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine: testing new approaches to tackling glaucoma, the second largest cause of blindness in Africa
    The grant will be used to assess the cost-efficacy of using motivational interviewing, a technique developed to treat drug addiction, to help increase the take up of treatment among patients suffering from glaucoma. The team will also assess whether laser treatment is a more effective option to surgery.

  • Operation Eyesight Universal (Operation Eyesight): a revolutionary approach to school screening in Africa
    The grant will fund a pilot test so that Operation Eyesight can establish if school screening can be improved by applying the use of an adapted smartphone called Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek)*. Operation Eyesight’s pilot will focus on Kenya, but has potential to be scaled more widely in Africa and beyond.

  • The Royal Society for the Blind (RSB): showing employers that with some assistance, blind people can be productive employees in South East Asia 
    The grant will fund a pilot project that evaluates whether the loaning of specialist equipment to employers, such as Braille devices, will assist in improving employment rates for blind or visually impaired people in South East Asia.   

  • Wake Forest University Health Sciences: bridging the surgical gap to tackle blinding trachoma in Africa 
    The grant will fund a project to bridge the gap between classroom training and real-life surgery for nurses carrying out treatment for trichiasis – a painful and blinding condition affecting trachoma sufferers. The project will test whether specially constructed life-like models can be used to improve surgical success rates for trichiasis, which to date have been poor.  

Richard Meddings, Chairman of Seeing is Believing, said “When we announced that we were giving grants to find new and innovative solutions for eye health in low-middle income countries these initiatives are exactly what we wanted. All the ideas have the potential to significantly impact the way eye health is treated and supported. If they prove to be successful, they can be expanded to other hospitals and communities, in Africa, Asia and beyond.”

Peter Ackland, Head of IAPB, said “We have a series of great ideas to bring new solutions to some of the barriers standing in the way of eliminating avoidable blindness for good. The projects seek to tackle some of the biggest challenges in eye health.  How to bring treatment to the millions of people in rural areas?  How to address some of the key human resource challenges in Africa?  How to combat rising problems like glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy? Giving innovators the freedom to test their ideas could help us find the next breakthrough in eye health innovation.”

Two kinds of innovation grants were made available: a USD50k grant to back the development of innovations at initial pilot stage; and a USD200k grant to support innovations that have undergone some initial testing and are looking to prepare themselves for scale up.  The grants announced today represent the first wave of grants being offered. With USD2 million worth of funding still left to allocate, the next wave of funds will be made available over the next five years. 

*Peek is an adapted smartphone that carries out comprehensive eye examinations in even the remotest of settings.The Peek team is led by Dr Andrew Bastawrous and Stewart Jordan from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in partnership with Dr Mario Giardini at the University of Strathclyde, and Dr Iain Livingstone at the Glasgow Centre for Ophthalmic Research.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Another exciting package

It's childish, I know, but getting things delivered is so exciting.

Thanks kind people at Torq - this little lot should keep me powered up for some time!

I think people at work are starting to think I'm completely crackers, though.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Power Saturday

Anita... You seemed so innocuous!

So happy! So welcoming!  But then you unleashed your instrument of torture...


Power Saturday

Anita... You seemed so innocuous!

So happy! So welcoming!  But then you unleashed your instrument of torture...


Friday, 21 February 2014

Puppy surprise

Unexpected bonuses of puppy: 

#1 he is pretty well housetrained (!) but the evil beast has taken to peeing on his puppy pads.  I.e. not elsewhere. Win.

#2 the cats love him

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The most exciting package yet?!

After exorbitant customs charges and some delay...

A massive box!

With exciting contents...

Hopefully this will carry me 1000kilometres across the steppe!  With a little help from some horseflesh, obviously.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


One and a half days into the week and I'm tired.  Even when you're doing things you love, feeling knackered takes some of the fun out.  Can I go to bed at 8pm without feeling like a complete loser?!

Anyway - to reintroduce a bit of fun, here's an incredible Valentine's shop window display in Greenwich...


Yes, that is a pink PVC nurse's outfit and, yes, the mannikin is holding a whip.  Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice you rock!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

A new friend

This weekend was notable because of the beautiful weather... 

This other Eden

...and because I rode Sadhira for the first time.  You may remember her from earlier appearances as Katy's very own wonder horse, complete with bucking and rearing motion.  

Earlier photo. May be a while before I'm brave enough to fiddle around whilst sitting on this (Sadhira, not Katy)

I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous but, trusting in Maggie's judgment and with my heart in my mouth, I hopped on and ...slipped straight off.  Which is what happens to idiots who are so focused on not falling off they forget to check their girths.  

Sadhira, on the other hand, as minxish and determinedly unpredictable as ever, betrayed my anxiety by behaving like a kitten (leaving the far more able Maggie P to handle Manita who was feeling the first flush of spring) (at 21!).  Lots of mane flicking and a little prancing, but the little mare was so busy looking pretty she hardly noticed me - I'd like to think we both had a jolly time.  Maggie's horses are the nail in my animal-fondness coffin, I think - all characters but so willing to please I feel like I ought to write a thank you note after riding!

Peritas also behaved inpeccably and had a lovely time with his new friend...

Post enthusiastic humping by both parties. Not named in vain, it would seem! 

Tuckered out, the little chap slept all the way home.  But what a first day out.

More, please!

GUEST POST: Anya de Iongh on Adventure

I’ve known Róisín since I was born and I’m following her Mongol Derby preparation with much excitement!  I share her passion for adventure, excitement and challenge and I hope that this post will show that adventure comes in all shapes and sizes and is open to everyone, able bodied or not.

Before my health deteriorated a few years ago, sailing was a central piece of the jigsaw of my life.  Being on the water, socialising with sailors and everything about the sport defined me.  

Anya at Cowes in 2009
After my health deteriorated, however, sailing was outlawed by my doctors and the jigsaw that made up my life started to fall apart.  Physically, sailing wasn’t ideal, but I quickly realized there would be a serious risk to my sanity if I didn’t get on the water! 

"Is it so nice as all that?" asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.
"Nice? It's the only thing," said the Water Rat solemnly as he leant forward for his stroke. "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing," he went on dreamily: "messing—about—in—boats; messing—"

The more I thought about it, the clearer it seemed: even crossing a road carries risk, so I would never be able to live a life free of risk.  I started thinking about how I could manage the risks associated with sailing.

Enter Chesil Sailability, a local group passionate about going sailing regardless of disabilities.  Inspired by the London 2012 Paralympics and born of a determination to create a legacy for local people with disabilities, Chesil Sailability is now coming up to being one year old.  For me, with some physical support and exploring Paralympic classes, Chesil Sailability meant that sailing was suddenly a reality again!  

Chesil Sailability sailors
One of my most memorable sails this summer was in September during a relapse.  I had spent the previous three days confined to bed with any trip out of bed taking an inordinate amount of effort and I was struggling from serious cabin fever. I hitched a lift to Portland and with the boat ready for me on the fully accessible pontoon, I was able to flop into the boat from my wheelchair.  I was cast off the pontoon and despite being unable to move my legs and with only one fully functional hand, I just pulled the main sail in gently and off I went.  Suddenly, didn't have to haul myself where I wanted to go in a zimmer frame and deciding to go a few meters was easy.  The relief and pleasure was indescribable.  There really is no medicine quite as good as being on the water on a sunny summer's evening! 
Anya back on the water
I’ve only ventured as far as the waters of Portland Harbour (where the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing was held), but other sailors have ventured far further…

Hilary Lister has become the first disabled woman to sail around Britain, using three straws in her mouth the control the boat (steering and two sails), as she is only able to move her head.  Sailing around the UK is an incredible feat for anyone, let alone with all the additional complications of her health.

Hilary on the water
Following in Hilary’s footsteps, a young girl called Natasha Lampart has used the same ‘sip-puff’ system, sipping and blowing on straws to control everything on the boat, to sail a Mini Transat (a 6.50m trans-Atlantic racing yacht) around the Isle of Wight and across the English Channel. 

Natasha in a pretty funky helmet!

Venturing further afield, in 2010 Geoff Holt sailed unassisted across the Atlantic despite being wheelchair bound after suffering a spinal cord injury many years ago.  He now has a wheel chair accessible powerboat called Wet Wheels, a regular sight at big sailing events, and which allows people with disabilities front row seats for on the water action, or just sharing the freedom of being afloat.

Geoff Holt
The most recent addition to this impressive list of adventurers is Gerry Hughes, who has just become the first deaf yachtsman to sail single-handed around the world. 

Gerry Hughes

Portland Harbour may sound tame in comparison, but Chesil Sailability has been an adventure in itself.  This year, our adventures include our first event, a weekend of competitive racing and trialling some new boats. You can follow our adventures on Facebook, Twitter and our website

Good luck with your adventures, Róisín!

Anya de Iongh is an active self-manager managing her long term health conditions and supports others to to do the same as a self-management coach for My Health My Way.  She is also involved in research and education, bringing a patient perspective to the agenda and in her spare time she is the PR Lead for Chesil Sailability.  She tweets as @anyadei and blogs at

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

My friends threw a rejection of the patriarchy party...

And we all failed and fell in love with the only man present.

What a wonderful evening - thanks guys. Happy Valentine's Day one and all.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Three in a bed

Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know I have a new dog...

Peritas!  He's an English toy terrier, an old native breed - little, but robust and quite long legged so when he's grown up he should be able to come running.

The cats were, alternately, delighted...

And slightly less amused.  There were three in a bed and the little one said...

Eff off.

But Peritas is quite clever.  He just waited for the Evil One to go out and then hopped in.

Peritas, 1, the Evil Beast, 0.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Trees, beautiful trees

I'm also raising money for Cool Earth, who work with indigenous communities to save rainforest.

My next fundraising drive is for Valentine's day and I'd like you guys to dig deep to save millions of acres and put local people back in control.  There's no greater gift for your loved one than clean air and a beautiful planet.

You've got two days to help raise £150...and in the last two days I have received donations totalling £90, so £60 to go!

You can donate here:

Give me a toot if you see me in my Cool Earth kit!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

I wish I could be a little girl again


I could read these stories for the first time...

I could stick pictures...

I could sleep like a baby...

And everything would be SO MUCH FUN!

Thank you cousin for letting me join in!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Skiing with little girls

Yesterday my littlest cousin refused to put on ski pants and insisted on her tutu. 

Today, less resistance. Is there anything sweeter than little girls in ski gear?

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Training on hold

While I spend time with my little (second) cousins in Geneva!

We're about to go snow shoeing and eat fondue.

As a warm up for tomorrow's guest post from my friend, sailing lady Anya de Iongh (@anyadei), take a look at this incredible man:

Thanks for the link @chesilsailability!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


But where to stick them?!  I feel 14 again!

The excitement!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Where are the jokers?

This past week has been something of a trial.  

The first Derby press release went out and I got to see who my fellow riders are for the first time.  I eagerly scanned the list looking for jokers - you know - the kind of people who might have put "playing the Virgin Mary in the school play circa 1989" as their only achievement and I'm not entirely sure who they are.  I was slightly horrified. 

In a blind panic, I emailed my friends.  What have I done, should I back out etc.  One reminded me of my "world class achievements" in ... blagging it.  Thanks Tom.

But another wrote one of the best emails I've ever received and here it is.  Views are obviously not mine.  

"- 1 England polo player; Used to stopping every hour or so. Doubt he can keep at it for long enough (regardless of myths from Jilly Cooper books)

- 1 world champs endurance rider; Ha! if you practised enough you could totally do that. Bet he/she will have an off day/get food poisoning because can't handle mongolian food (vs. you who has covered that part of training with Nando's)

- 1 world champion ski-bobber; Er....have you seen Cool Runnings? All they can do is run fast for 2 seconds and then slide/fall down a slope fast. not a useful skill for derbying

- 1 airline owner; Branson doesn't look like he would handle a horse well. Not competition. Marriage material?

- 1 Cossack Stunk rider; Er, what's a Stunk? Do you mean Stunt? If so - it is his job to fall off horses dramatically. This will likely prove troublesome on the derby.

- 1 rescue diver; and Land = not his/her medium of choice.

- 1 Mixed Martial Arts fighter and tv presenter Did he used to be married to Jordan? If so potentially used to riding wild animals. But will likely freak out at lack of access to fake tan.

- army chaps Army guys are not used to female companionship. My advice - distract them with your feminine wiles. Then ride off into the sunset without them and win."

Me, The Author and Miranda 

Thanks Coates.  I still feel a bit overawed tho.  

Monday, 3 February 2014

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

So this was my weekend...

Brilliant Torq bar for breakfast - tastes like raspberries. Not raspberry flavour, but real raspberries.  Thanks Torq and the Adventurists!

A little light cleaning...

Clever Chip poo'd in his water bucket.  Nice.

A delightful ride out with Willings demonstrating how to sit a rearing, really!


Then it was a quick wash and brush before dinner in Henley.  Note: do not use silver hair shampoo if you aren't silver - it's purple and it smells.  And renders your hair straw like.

The Silver Fox

Mondo, Gelling, Henry, Robbie and Padmore

Gelling, Padmore, Elliot, Bethan, Alice

Bethan, Alice and Sarah

Mondo obligingly told a story of how he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory... I took notes. Not that I've ever been within sniffing distance of victory, but just in case.

Mondo: the ladies love him but he doesn't notice

Robbie and I pushed on. 

And then it was 4:45am

The only cure for a hangover is fresh air. Actually, there's no cure, but...

Moo en plein air

A beautiful day in Henley

Remind me why I live in London?

And then via KFC home to clean my boots.