Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Ride Safely Up There Big Man!

I was very much a Daddies girl growing up. I have two brothers, but neither of them really took a shine to tinkering in the garage with motorbikes like I did. I cherish those moments, the pair of us, in our matching bandanas, working away. By the time I was 10 years old I had become an expert at passing spanners and rags.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household that was gender-fair. If boys wanted to do ballet, they would have done ballet. If I wanted to play rugby and tinker with bikes, I could do just that! I like to think that growing up in this environment had a lot to do with the soldier I became and the officer I am training to be today.

But back to the bikes! From a young age I was desperate to ride pillion on my Dad's Harley Davidson, but my Dad had a rule! Nobody was allowed on the bike until they were big enough to touch the foot pegs. Well, every week I was in that garage, stretching my legs down to see if they would reach the pegs. This went on for many years!

Until one day, Dad decided I was FINALLY big enough to go for a ride. This was music to my little ears! We had such a great trip out on the bike that day. He took me to go and get my ears pierced in a little tattoo and piercing shop where he knew the owner. I remember the owner of the shop asking, 'Is that your little girl Kev?', to which he replied, 'Yes, that's my girl'.

And I was, very much his girl. I remember breaking my arm when I was about 10 years old. The surgeon needed to weigh me for surgery, but I would not be separated from my Dad. To that end, the surgeon had to weigh my Dad (holding me), and then deduct Dad's weight from that figure. I felt safe in his arms. I felt that nothing could hurt me there.

After his brain injury, my Dad and I developed a very special relationship and in recent years we had become very close. I would visit as often as my military career would allow and we would often sit for a good few hours and put the world to right. I will miss his emails dearly, full of advice. I know how proud he was of me, because he told me so often. I received many letters whilst serving away in Afghanistan, but my favourites were those from Claire, where she would write little notes that my Dad had typed out on his specialised computer. Notes like, 'Keep your head down babe, I love you'.

I have no doubt that I will see you again Dad. I will see you in the eyes of your Grandchild, Finley. I will hear you in the memories that are stored in our hearts and that will be told and retold and remain vibrant for eternity. I will hear you every time I hear the familiar roar of a Harley Davidson or the skid of a motorbike wheel. I will hear you every time I turn the radio on and hear Bob Segar, ZZ Top, The Rolling Stones or The Eagles. Ride safely up there big man!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Toughness Knows Not Gender

An ex-boyfriend once told me that he felt emasculated by several aspects of our relationship. He didn’t like that I was higher in rank than him, earnt more money than him and he hated that I trained harder and more often than he did. It made him feel like 'less of a man'. It still shocks me that, in a society where a woman is running for presidency in the United States, that there are men out there who still hold these primitive views on the relationship between sexes.

I recently watched a short film, made by PS Cummings for The CrossFit Games, and felt so inspired. The film pushes the message that, ‘toughness knows not gender’.

Being a female soldier, I know this more than most. I often get frustrated with individuals when they tell me, outright, that women are not strong enough, fit enough, fast enough or robust enough to serve within the British Infantry. TOUGHNESS KNOWS NOT GENDER! It is not the individuals sex that makes them weak. It is THAT individual. More importantly, it is the mindset of that individual that makes them weak. I have worked alongside some outstandingly fit female soldiers during my career and some very unfit ones. Likewise, I have worked and trained with some exceptionally fit male soldiers and some that I could run rings around.

Susan Cahn, author of Coming On Strong, wrote, ‘if women were no longer a fragile, timid group in need of protection, men could not be assured of their own role as powerful protectors, and consequently relations between the sexes would have to change.’

In his thought provoking video, PS Cummings describes the barbell as a symbol of strength. He goes on to state that the barbel, 'stands for everything a ‘boy' is taught to chase, power and bravery.' But thousands of gyms are now filled with women all learning the barbell's lessons of resilience and grit. Sending out the message that toughness knows not gender. 

Women are incredible and, in today’s society, are more than capable of performing in the same arena as men. Men should lose no pride to conceding victory to any woman that runs further, finishes faster or lifts heavier than they do! If your partner is fit, disciplined and driven, you should be proud of them. Don't feel intimidated or emasculated by their success!

Sunday, 15 May 2016


I recently attended an extremely vigorous selection process to move into a management position in my job. The self induced pressure and stress that I put myself under whilst preparing for this selection process was ridiculous. I am very pleased to say that I passed and that the hard work and sleepless nights were all worth it! But it got me thinking about self induced pressure and the drive that many of us have to succeed.

I recently read a book titled, 'Everything You Need You Have'. The author, Gerad Kite, is the founder of the renowned Kite Clinic in London. He believes that the way we are living today is making us ill. That for all the choices we have, for all the improvements in our material lifestyle, people are more unhappy that ever, because we have lost the ability to tap into our inner selves.

In the fast-paced, aspirational society in which we live, it's accepted as normal for us to look endlessly outside ourselves for meaning and purpose - what can I get? Where will I be? Of course, we all want to do well, to climb the ladder. However, Kite argues that all this looking ahead has the effect of keeping us in the thrall of a perpetual future: "I just need to get on leave"; "when we've paid of the our credit card, we can really start enjoying ourselves"; "if only we didn't have this rain"; "once I have finished this course everything will be alright"; "once my husband is back in the country I can start having fun again". And yet the truth is that when we do eventually get there, there's rarely any real sense of arrival, there are no flags - and, even if there are, the celebration's are all too often short lived as we jump to focus on the "next big thing".

I am guilty of this. I set myself huge goals and often put myself under insane amounts of pressure to achieve them. Often putting my relationships with the the people I love second to my goal. Once I have achieved that goal, I very quickly set myself a new task. I am always striving to move upwards, to achieve something else, to push myself further. I would say I have achieved a lot in my career, but at what cost? Kite argues that, many people in the world today equate happiness with being busy or even mildly stressed; these people say it makes them feel "alive". But as I have discovered, this thought is just a part of a whole range of problems caused by how disconnected we have become from our true selves.

After reading Kite's book, I think I will spend the next few months spending my time and energy on those around me, that have supported me no end over the last few months. It's time to stop, and look inwards and find myself content with what's here and now. It's time to simply relish the joy of now. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Skeleton Bobsleigh

I have been on the Army Skeleton Bobsleigh team for 3 years now and it truly is the most exhilarating and rewarding sport. The Olympic bobsleigh track at La Plagne in the French Alps had many of our team shaken, stirred and terrified in 2015. So many of the Army Skeleton Bobsleigh team were pleased to hear that the 2016 Championships were going to be held at Winterberg, Germany. This year we were really pleased with the amount of novice Skeleton athletes that came to compete at the Army Championships. We spent the week prior to the Championships being coached by Stuart Hayden. Stuart kindly came back to coach the Army team this year, which we were very grateful for.

After finally mastering corner 9 (which was no easy feat), I was able to retain my Army Champion title. For the men’s race, this year, the title was taken by Nathan Jackson, a very promising athlete, who has spent a great deal of his own time training and competing around Europe this season.The Inter-Services Women’s Skeleton Championships was a very close race this year. The Army women’s team beat the RAF team by just 0.01 of a second. Chelsea Ainsley, a novice slider from the RAF team, slid very well this year and is one to watch for next season. This year was the first year in a long time where the women’s Army team won gold at the Inter-Service Championships and I could not have been prouder of my team. Nicky Moxon, Sarah Raby and Rhiannon Graham all slid superbly. The men’s team also did us proud, winning silver.

The first British Championships under the newly merged British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association took place the following day. Laura Deas saw off the challenge of fellow GB Skeleton slider Jor’dan McIntosh to claim gold. McIntosh capped her comeback season following brain surgery with the silver, whilst I took bronze, less than 24 hours after retaining my Inter-Services title. It was an absolute honour to race alongside such promising GB athletes. I hope this season that we see more novice sliders introduced to Skeleton as the sport seems to be going from strength to strength.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016


Physical training has always been something of endless fascination to me. Having read so many reviews about the benefits of CrossFit, I decided to take a look for myself. I really want to notice a change in my body. I have always been very lean, a natural runner, but I long for more muscle mass and a stockier frame. I want to be strong, not skinny. 

On Monday I attended my first CrossFit session at CrossFit Colchester. The coaches were really friendly and we got started straight away.

Warm up squats - 3 sets of 5 (increasing weight each time)
Main set - 4 x 9 squats - 30kg - every 3 minutes - (30kg is all I could manage)

The WOD (Workout Of The Day) then followed.

50 air squats
15 wall balls
15 box jumps
10 burpees
10 lunges

20 minutes. For time. 

It doesn't seem like long. I can tell you now, it was brutal!

To say I was exhausted, post workout, is an understatement. I have never felt so depleted of energy in all my life! My legs felt like they were going to buckle underneath me on the walk home! But I LOVED it. The sweat, the determination, the atmosphere in the gym. It felt amazing to be a part of that positive energy.

The atmosphere was fantastic and the coaches helped give feedback on technique throughout. As a complete novice, I thought I would feel somewhat useless. This wasn't the case at all. The coaches made me feel so welcome and equal. Although I feel like I have been hit by a bus (my quads and bum are SO sore), I feel motivated to return tonight for my second foundation session! 


I recently read, in Scientific American, about the therapeutic value of blogging.

Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits.

Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in HIV patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.

Well we shall see!?