Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Strictly Confidential

Ok, so I guess my big secret is out, and I am delighted to finally be able to say that I will be appearing in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.  The past few months have been absolutely crazy as I’ve had to keep this under wraps, and the lengths that I’ve had to go to, to keep it secret were unbelievable!  With any correspondence in regards to the show such as emails and meetings etc I was never allowed to mention the word ‘Strictly’, I always had to refer to my new job as ‘Legal’, which was also my code name for the show.  I even had decoy cars sent round to my house in case the press picked up on it.  I felt like I was working as a spy…..can you imagine ‘the name is Outen, Van Outen 007, I’m Legally Blonde and licensed to thrill!!!!!!’

Before my life was ‘strictlyfied’ and all the craziness took over, Betsy and I flew to Thailand and we managed to spend some relaxing time on the beach.  As Lee is in America it was a perfect opportunity for some Mummy and Betsy time.
Me & Betsy

My time with Betsy is precious and it was so lovely to spend some uninterrupted quality time with her as she is growing up so fast and is so much fun to be with.  She is already very girly and loves dressing up, and was thrilled when we sported matching outfits on the beach.  We stayed at the W Retreat in Mae Nam, which was absolutely beautiful, and our stay there was made all the better by the wonderful staff. It was amazing, and I would highly recommend it, especially for families. 

 With my best friend Tamara

The reason we were in Thailand was to attend the wedding of my good friends Jamie and Nok.  I’ve known Jamie for years and he now lives in Thailand, so it was lovely to get to see him get married on a sun kissed beach with a group of our closest friends.  Although I made the most of this relaxing time, I did have one crazy fun filled evening at the hen night.  My girlfriends and I went to see a really funny cabaret show, and it was hysterical!!!!  It was a fantastic evening and we had such a laugh!


The day after I arrived home from Thailand I took Betsy to see the launch of the new BBC Children’s Show ‘Get Well Soon’. It’s presented by paediatrician Dr. Ranj and its aim is to get children to look after their own bodies.  It’s suitable for both toddlers and older children and I thought it was a great idea to get kids and their parents watching together and understanding their bodies.  Both Betsy and I loved it, and cannot wait to watch it on TV together.

With Dr.Ranj at the
 Get Well Soon Launch

Oh my goodness!!!! Now we head straight into the launch show for Strictly and the craziness starts again.  Once again due to the to secrecy of the contestants we all had to wear Brucie masks when we arrived at the studio to conceal our identities, before the big ‘reveal’  I thought this was hilarious and tried mine on to show Betsy before my car arrived and it really freaked her out, bless her!!!

Strictly Confidential

As all of you who watched the show probably now know, I am partnered with the lovely James Jordan.  James has yet to win the coveted glitter ball trophy, and I know he is hungry for success, so I am so pleased to be dancing with him.  The only problem is….. we are going to be a nightmare together, as we both have very similar, very naughty personalities, and we have literally not stopped laughing since we’ve been paired together!!!

James and his gorgeous wife Ola live near to me in Kent, so it will be perfect for training together as we wont have far to travel.  Ola is partnered with Sid Owen, who also lives near to us, so I’m sure that the four of us will hang out for dinner together as we are all so excited and get on like a house on fire!!!!

Strictly has always been one of my favourite shows, as I love all the showbiz glitz, and I am so, so excited about appearing in this years show, but I have to say that I was a quite upset at the criticism that I’ve come under from the press about my involvement with the show due to my previous dance experience.  I would like to take this opportunity to express that I have danced at theatre school as part of my training, and I did appear in the musical Chicago where I had one dance number, but apart from that, my dance experience is very basic, and secondly, I am not the only competitor that has appeared in the show that has had basic training.  This competition is not musical theatre, it is ballroom, and this is a world that I am in NO way familiar with.  

Ballroom is totally different, firstly I have never danced with a partner, you have to be in sync, remember your footings etc, these are things that I’ve never had to do in my career so far and this is a massive challenge for me. However, I’m really looking forward to learning a new skill, and I’m really happy as Betsy is so looking forward to seeing her Mummy dance.  I know she’ll love the costumes and make up too, and the lovely ladies in the costume department have said that they will make her a mini costume to match mine…..I can’t wait to see her little face, she’ll be thrilled!!!!!  

The last seven days have been manic as I have been getting Betsy off to nursery, then juggling rehearsals with interviews and television recordings, as well as trying to do the housework!  And, I feel that I’m at a slight disadvantage this week as my feet are so badly blistered due to dancing in heels, that I can’t even get my shoes on and I’m  having to practice barefoot until they heal.  Even so, I wouldn’t change a thing as I’m loving every minute of it! 

However, there are a lot of people in this year’s competition with huge fan bases, so I really need all the support that I can get, so I’m reaching out to all the hard working mums out there to pick up the phone and vote for me when the live shows begin as I really need your help, and with James’ guidance, hopefully I can show that this Mum can strut her stuff every Saturday night!  

Feet, please don’t fail me now!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

This Is The 'Mo'ment

Well, it’s been another really busy, but fun filled few weeks.  Like most people living in London, I was a little bit sceptical about how the Olympics were going to affect us.  We had been warned about all the disruption to roads and airports it was going to cause, and I have to admit, I thought it was going to be a complete nightmare.  However, as the opening ceremony approached, I decided to get into the swing of things and invited a few of my friends around and we had our own celebration to welcome in the London 2012 Olympic Games.  It was a fantastic evening and we all got into the Olympic spirit, and to be honest, although I’m not a sporty person, I have to say that the spirit of the games has never left me.

A few days later, Lee, Betsy and I flew up to Aberdeen for my best friend Cozi and her partner Duncan’s wedding. Cozi is probably best known for singing ‘Baby When The Light’ with David Guetta, and we have been friends since I was 11, so it was amazing to be able to come to Scotland and share her special day with her .The venue was Drumtochty Castle, it is a beautiful setting for a wedding with the 19th Century castle hidden away in a wild woodland Glen. Betsy kept asking where the Queen was bless her, so I had to keep telling her she was sleeping as it was too difficult to explain that this wasn’t the castle where she lives. The wedding was amazing, we danced all day and night, and with Cozi being Greek Cypriot and Duncan Scottish, we had a complete mash up of dancing styles. I have to say it was the most fun that I’ve ever had at a wedding.  Little Betsy had a ball too running around the dance floor all day with her new playmates.  It was a great time catching up with friends and a wonderful few days.

When I returned, I recorded an interview with Cheryl Cole for This Morning.  We chatted about her forthcoming nationwide tour, ‘A Million Lights’.  It’s Cheryl’s first solo tour and she was telling me that she’s feeling a little bit nervous.  It was the first time that we’d had a chance to catch up properly since we climbed Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief in 2009, so it was lovely to have a girly catch up over tea and biscuits.  To see the interview in full, tune in to ITV’s This Morning on Tuesday, 11th September.

On Route to Interview Cheryl wearing
Olivia Rubin
Autumn / Winter Collection.

As most of us have, Lee and I have been glued to the television over the past couple of weeks, watching the Olympics.  As I said, I really got into the spirit of things and even Betsy was cheering on Team GB with us in her red, white and blue outfit. So, imagine my delight when I was invited along as a guest of B.A.

I was given two tickets and decided to take my nephew Sunny.  Sunny is only 10 years old but is already a really good swimmer.  He’s the 6th fastest in the Junior Essex team and what could be better than such an iconic event as the Olympics to inspire him to work hard and hopefully reach his full potential. What a night we had, we saw Usain Bolt , the fastest man on earth, and the Jamaican team win the 4x100m final and break a world record. But in my opinion we saw the event of the Games, Mo Farah winning the 5000m final and winning his second Gold medal for GB.  What an atmosphere!! I can’t tell you how amazing it was.  We were out of our seats and chanting ‘GO MO!!!!!’ with every step that he ran.  The whole of the stadium cheered like a Mexican wave as he ran around the track to victory.  It was unbelievable, what a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience that Sunny and I will never forget.

When I woke on Sunday morning, although I had no voice from cheering, I was still on such a high!  I popped out on the coffee run and picked up a copy of The Sun as I was guest columnist.  It was great fun sharing my opinions on all things topical from ‘setting an example’ to ‘fifty shades of Grey’.  What made it even more special was that the paper was full of positivity, about how ‘great’ Britain really is, with all our success at the Olympics.  There are certain things that I keep and put them together as part of a memory book for Betsy when she is older, and this is something that I’m definitely going to include.

The closing ceremony was a wonderful evening celebrating British music, the highlight for me though was seeing the Spice Girls perform, as sadly I missed them on tour, so it was great to reminisce back to my younger days when girl power ruled. Although I was sad to say farewell to the London 2012 Olympic Games, I am so proud as a nation at what we have achieved.  In 14 days we have shown the world, not only what a wonderful city London is, and how we can produce world class athletes, but how we can come together as a country, and pull off such a spectacular and faultless event as this. 

I have always worked hard and never taken anything for granted, and this is something that I hope to instil in Betsy, but these athletes who train so hard, and have to sacrifice so much to reach they’re ultimate goal, an Olympic medal are truly an inspiration to the youth of today and to the nation. I know that seeing Mo receive his Gold medal on the podium to the sound of the National Anthem brought a tear to my eye, and is a ‘Mo’ment I’ll never forget.  London 2012, I’ll miss you, you did us PROUD!!!!!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Dancing Myself Dizzy

After a really tiring few weeks which ended with a long week of very early mornings working on Daybreak, was I ready for some me time.  I’d been so looking forward to a few days away with my two friends Chris and Kirsty, and now here we were, all packed and ready to go at the airport.  The last time Kirsty and I were here, we were heading to India for our 485Km charity cycle trek for Great Ormond Street Hospital, but this time it was all about FUN!!! 

This trip was a treat to myself; it was a break from the nursery run, from work and all the household chores.  I knew Betsy was in great hands with Lee, so I knew I had nothing to worry about there as they both love spending quality time together. So it was an opportunity to take myself back in time and let the party loving side of me loose, and dance myself dizzy!!!!

We only had four days in Ibiza, but we made every second count. We stayed in the North of the island which is very quiet, so we were very lucky that Kirsy had decided that she did not want to drink and kindly offered to be our very own personal taxi service. Chris, who is a really good friend that I’ve known for years, had warned Kirsty that she was likely to have two VERY drunken casualties by the end of the night, but she was still happy to oblige.

I can’t believe how much we crammed in. We ate tapas in the Old Town, and partied at Space night club and Eden.  We also went to the recently opened Ocean Beach Club.  There were a lot of paparazzi there and you may have seen pictures of me dancing along in the pool to Sister Sledge who were playing there?  However, the highlight for me was seeing David Guetta in an open air venue and dancing away into the small hours.     

When I’m at home I don’t go to clubs at all, so I was making sure that I used up my years quota of dancing in four days!  Even though, we stayed out late I made sure that I made the most of the beautiful sunshine, as the weather has been so bad in the UK that I was determined to make the most of the rays, and was out by the pool early every day. I was sad to leave Ibiza, I had a wonderful time, relaxing and being carefree, but it was back to reality, and back to the rain!!!!  But even the rain couldn’t dampen my spirits with Lee and Betsy waiting at home for me.

As soon as I got back I had to arrange something special for my hubby Lee’s birthday.  He was away on his actual birthday touring with his show West End Men, and was feeling a bit fed up that he couldn’t spend it with us.  So, to make it up to him, I planned a special night a few days later.  Lee thought that we were going out for dinner with friends, but I surprised him with a private pod on the London Eye.  It was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it, especially now, as it’s such a special time to be in London, the Union Jack’s were everywhere! 

We then went for a meal at the Cube restaurant on the Southbank and ate the most wonderful food, and had a sneaky glass of champagne.  To continue his birthday, the following day we had dinner, with more friends at Mango Tree, a fabulous Thai restaurant, so I think it’s safe to say that Lee really enjoyed his birthday after all!!!  All I feel I’ve done since I’ve been home is eat and drink…..All that dancing must have worked up an appetite!  So after a week of indulgence, it’s back to work. 

I was proud to be asked to become ambassador to the We Are Women campaign.  Its chosen charity this year is Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.  I was inspired when I watched the documentary about Jade Goody, and seeing all the young women talk about their fight with cervical cancer.  It really hit a nerve with me as it’s one of the cancers that we don’t seem to be that aware of.  As women, we all know that smear tests are not pleasant and we can make all sorts of excuses to put it off, but watching this program really motivated me to get involved and lend my voice to encourage women to go for a smear test, as those few unpleasant minutes could save your life.  For more information please go to Facebook.com/wearewomenuk

The next few days for me are very busy, but the sun is shining, so perhaps our prayers have been answered and summer is actually here? One good thing about the awful weather is that there are plenty of sales on.  I managed to nip out between filming yesterday and nab myself a lovely little sundress in the French Connection sale. So although we can’t count on the weather, the one thing we can count on is that all us girls love a bargain.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Outen About

Cor blimey, what a week, I'm shattered!!! The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind for me. Being back on breakfast television came as a bit of a shock to the system..... Having to set your alarm for 4am everyday!! I haven't been up at that time since Betsy's night feeds, and now, just when she's sleeping through the night and I can finally get some sleep, I'm up with the lark again.
However, it was all worth it as I got out and about each day meeting new mums from all over the country, and got to try out some of the biggest fitness crazes to hit the UK.
I know that a lot of women feel the pressure to get back into shape after having a baby and as a new mum myself, I know how pregnancy changed my body. My hips are wider, my rib cage has expanded and my feet are a size bigger! Even after two years, I still don't feel like I've got my body back. Years ago I would have felt the need to skip meals to get back into shape, but as I've got older, I've realised that it's much more important to focus on being healthy, than being thin, and that exercise and a good diet is the key.
So I was excited when Daybreak invited me to try out some new fitness classes such as Bollywood Dancercise, Zumba toning, and cheerobics.

From London to Newmarket via Skegness, I was on a mission to put the fun back into fitness and get some new mums into shape.

Bollywood Dancercise
wearing Sweaty Betty
It was a really nice way to meet new mums from around the country and we were so lucky that the weather stayed dry for us. However, after all the early starts, I really wasn't prepared for how tired I'd feel by the afternoon. It was like having jet lag for a week..... And I have to admit that I had to sneak off mid afternoon for a cheeky nana nap!
The weekend was just as busy as I celebrated two of my friends birthdays. On Friday we had a fun night of karaoke at Lucky Voice in Islington, then on Saturday, Lee and I headed to Kent with my friend Tamara and her boyfriend Mark to the Hop Farm Festival. Lee and Mark went off to watch some football, but Tamara and I really got into the festival spirit watching Bob Dylan and Randy Crawford.

It was a lovely weekend spent with friends and family, which we finished off by going to the Rare Breeds Centre in Woodchurch with little Betsy.
I have been so busy that I haven't even had a chance to see Lee's episode of Bedlam which was shown on Sky Living last week. I've recorded it though and can't wait to get a chance to sit down with a cuppa and watch my hubby proudly on the tv.
Today, I'm up at the crack if dawn again   as I head for the airport to fly up to Bonny Scotland. I'll be in Glasgow as part of the Transform Your Patch campaign. I'm competing against Emma Willis, Robbie Savage and Fazer to win the much needed funds to be spent on a project which is close to my heart.... Playgrounds.
I am frantically trying to get some votes to regenerate land into some much needed playgrounds. So vote for me at www.transformyourpatch.com/vote and help me win the funds to transform a patch near you.
Have to go now, I've got a flight to catch..... Look out Glasgow, I'm coming to get you!
No rest for the wicked eh!!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Red, White and Blues

What a weekend!!!  How fab is it to be British, after four days of celebrations, of street parties and union Jack’s, forget about the reds and the whites, I certainly have the post jubilee blues.

Isn’t it fantastic how the whole country comes together to celebrate the reign of our great monarch for her diamond jubilee.  Like most people we had arranged to attend a jubilee party but sadly, my little girl Betsy had chicken pox so the three of us spent it at home watching avidly on the TV.

Although I had to work over the weekend we still managed to have a fantastic time with lots of lovely food and drink….and cheering at her Maj.
Filming the Lorraine Show for ITV.
Dress by M&S .

On Bank holiday Monday I filled in for the lovely Lorraine on her ITV show. Then rushed back home to Lee and Betsy where we settled down to watch the big concert outside the palace.  The highlight for me was my hero, Kylie Minogue, both Lee and I were sitting on the sofa singing along to our hearts content.

Then on Tuesday I was at Smooth HQ to record my bank holiday Jubilee special where I got to chat about people’s experience of meeting the royal family and play some top tunes.

As the festivities came to a close both Lee and I felt a little deflated and had post Jubilee blues.  However, we have the London Olympics coming soon so let’s hope the country will come together again and get behind Team GB.  Come on Great Britain lets show the rest of the world what we do best….. Throw a bloody good party!

Welcome To My World

Since early childhood I’ve always kept a diary.  I’ve always liked writing things down, so now at the ripe old age of 38, I’ve decided to take it a step further and write a blog.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, but never had a chance to get around to.  So let’s get with the 21st Century and go all techno!!!!! 

As a busy working mum I’d just like to give you an insight into my lifestyle, juggling being a wife and mother with the crazy world of showbiz.
So welcome to the Diary Of A Showbiz Mum , or Mrs Mead as I like to be called, and in the words of Kylie, ‘Come Into My World’