International Women’s Day 2018 ~ My Inspirations

International Women’s Day has crept up on us again and I’m ready and raring to celebrate. However, Women’s Day should be celebrated every day. I have so much admiration for a whole host of amazing women on a daily basis. Some are fellow bloggers, many of them are friends and there are a handful whom I admire from afar and would possibly pass out in front of should we come face to face! Of course, my own mum is an inspiration to me too – I don’t tell her often enough how much admiration I have for her.

If the Oscars showed us anything it’s that strong, passionate and utterly fantastic women are all around us and doing their thing every day.

Here (in no particular order) are just a few women from the endless list of strong females who inspire me for a myriad of reasons:

Ruth Langsford

I’ve always felt if I was to give my life story (which isn’t all that exciting before you start wondering!) to any presenter/journalist/interviewer, then I would choose Ruth. Focused, empathetic and cheeky, she’s my kind of woman and I’m full of admiration for her ever-branching career. Her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing to show women of her age that they could do it too, was inspirational in itself, however I was proud of her strength and determination and felt that she did Anton proud in turn. I look up to her and not just because I’m sure she’s taller than me!

Shirley Ballas

Staying with the Strictly Come Dancing theme, a recent addition to my best-loved and much admired women, is the new Head Judge on the show. As a Judge on the show she was measured, encouraging and warm in her approach. I feel that should I ever want Ballroom or Latin dance lessons she’s the one I’d call upon. Her speech at this year’s National Television Awards was inspirational in itself and the piece of music she chose to make her entrance to resonates. A better or finer role model I couldn’t imagine.

Fern Britton

Fern Britton was one of my first favourite television presenters and to this day I still view her as one of the most versatile individuals in the public eye. Her presenting style is relaxed, engaging and second to none. As a writer, her books reflect her personality and draw the reader in to share in her world. I am chomping at the bit to see her play the role of Mari in the Calendar Girls Musical when it goes on UK tour. She also recently shared a deeply personal story about her diagnosis of Sepsis and the fact she’s spoken out will hopefully draw more attention to the condition.

Yvonne Howard

Opera hasn’t been a genre of live performance that I’ve had much exposure to, Gilbert & Sullivan was the extent of my knowledge. My love of G&S led me to watch the ENO’s version of The Mikado which was filmed and shown on Sky Arts. I was so taken with Yvonne Howard (who played Katisha) that I embarked on a journey which has awoken me to the wonder of Opera. Searching for other performances from Yvonne has led me to discover a world I’ve been missing out on. I saw Yvonne perform at Three Choirs Festival in Worcester, last year and I am off to see her in the ENO’s Iolanthe this month. I haven’t been so excited for a production for a long time and I am constantly inspired by Yvonne and her immense talent, as well as her involvement in engaging children in Opera.

Julie Legrand

Julie Legrand is an actress who turned my head when I first saw her on screen in ITV’s Footballer’s Wives. She was playing a revolting character, and it would have been in my youthful opinionated nature to dismiss her as something quite awful and not worth my time. However, I was drawn to her, I recognised that she was an incredible actress playing a challenging role and I kept my eyes peeled for her from there on in. I’ve seen her on stage three times in very different roles. Electra in Gypsy, a fellow professional in Wit (starring alongside the outstanding Julie Hesmondhalgh) and as Mrs Malaprop in The Rivals. Recently on screen she amazed me in an episode of BBC One’s Call The Midwife. Julie never fails to entertain and astound me and she’s one of the loveliest ladies you could wish to meet, too! She’s a walking masterclass in performance.

Sarah-Jane Buckley

Here’s a triple threat who first appeared on my radar as Kathy Barnes on Channel Four’s Hollyoaks. I knew then that I was watching a super-talented actress and I wasn’t wrong. In Blood Brothers which she has toured with for almost two years now, she is the best Mrs Lyons I’ve seen – I can’t imagine anyone else in the role now. Nobody can have a meltdown or descend into madness on stage quite like Sarah-Jane can! However, I have also had the privilege of watching her play Mrs Johnstone, and THAT is a moment I will never forget. As a singer, her vocal ability is exceptional and as I saw for myself when I watched her in pantomime last year – she’s an amazing all-round entertainer. A beautiful soul inside and out, she deserves recognition every day, however I’m very glad to be able to name her as one of my inspirations on International Women’s Day.

Coming Home by Fern Britton ~ Book Review

Fern Britton is an inspiration to me, I’ve watched her present a cornucopia of television programmes and her warmth, dedication and passion have never waivered. I can’t wait to see her play Mari in the Calendar Girls musical when it starts its UK tour, I think she’ll be perfect casting in the role. With regards to her career as a writer, I admit that until her recent novel ‘Coming Home‘, I hadn’t experienced her talent as an author before, however I’m hooked and frantically back-pedalling to catch up with her other novels. Here’s my review of ‘Coming Home‘ which I could not put down and is still resonating with me.

Star rating: *****

Coming Home‘ is set in Cornwall, and the location simply leaps off the page in this stunningly descriptive, it instantly invites the reader to take up their position with a birds-eye view of the intricacies of a clever, highly emotive yet gentle story.

As the title suggests, home is at the heart of the subject and there’s a running theme of ‘home is where the heart is’, throughout. The emotions of each character are captured so particularly that its easy to care about them and to want to know more about each individual’s story.

Three women are at the centre of the action, three generations, with the bereaved Ella returning to Cornwall following the death of Adela – much loved grandmother and surrogate mother. Sennen, her biological mother, had left Ella and her brother to be cared for by Adela as life as a single parent was too much for her. With Ella and Sennen set to be reunited in Pendruggan, it’s time to start the healing process in more ways than one. The grief shared and experienced by the women is palpable, an enhancing feature of the novel.

It doesn’t take long to be drawn into the tale, the relationship between Sennen and Ella in particular evoked feelings which were all encompassing as the awkwardness, anger and love combined to create something unique. I felt that their feelings were reflected brilliantly in the splendour of the setting, too. A couple of times the ebb and flow of the drama led me up the wrong path and there were subtle twists which piqued my interest further. It almost encourages a false sense of security which is inspired.

Britton has become one of my favourite authors, she’s a wordsmith de force as well as a thoughtful and considered story-teller. Pick up ‘Coming Home‘ and you won’t put it down.

Purchase your copy here (just click the image):

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