Bubblegum, Brighton & Other Adventures

So it seems once again my life is running away with me!  I managed to disappear to the country for another couple of weeks, before I knew it I realised I hadn’t checked in again for ages! When I’m surrounded by fields and flowers and family, time just has no concept to me. So here I am, back in London and back to life as we know it…
 
I spent my time in the country scouring the vintage shops, socialising with our friends and eating glorious meals at our favourite restaurant The Stagg. One particularly memorable outing was to Ludlow, where we ate the most divine bubblegum ice cream, clearly along with time I had no concept of diet either!
 
Since I’ve been back there’s been a lot of the usual office catch up, as well as some exciting meetings, including talking over the upcoming Starlight Express worldwide tour. I had brunch with the gorgeous and talented Robin Cousins at Soho House where every mouthful was gulped down to make way for our non stop chatter, and also a top secret meeting at the R.U.G offices to confer with the Lord who is Andrew Lloyd-Webber himself.
Wednesday was an exciting start to the day, filming an interview for the new London Lifestyle TV channel up at the top of the Gherkin. The views were spectacular, and I could have happily stayed up there for hours. That evening however was a party to end all parties. The ITV Summer Party was in a beautiful and exquisitely decorated garden. There was food and nonstop champagne with guests so familiar as TV faces I thought I knew them all when actually I didn’t! The highlights for me were seeing Olivia Coleman from Broadchurch and Kevin Whately from the family favourite Lewis. I also chatted to old friends Ant and Dec, Holly Willoughby, Emma Bunton, Louie Spence, Ben Shepherd, Dermot O’Leary, Ross King (who had hot-footed from USA for the party), the surprisingly calm Keith Lemon, the sweetly adorable Matt Lucas and the beautifully kind Helen Fospero. Of course there were many more including the usual gangs from Essex and Chelsea, and it was wonderful to see everybody mingling and mixing. Sadly my phone decided to die on me as I was leaving the house so I couldn’t take any pictures, and I woke up the following morning with my head banging wondering if it was all a dream…
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The weekend was a belated birthday treat from my Sister and her husband, who took myself and my partner to Brighton for the day on Saturday. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was in my element wandering through the Lanes. The vintage shops there are some of my favourites, and I made sure I really scoured them thoroughly! We ate at Riddle and Finns, which I have to say was just heavenly. The day was superb from start to finish, only marred by the time I got home feeling a little worse for wear due to getting a bit of sunstroke. Hence Sunday was spent in bed drinking lots of water and catching up on my stack of magazines by the bed.
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Feeling much spritelier and continuing in the birthday spirit, we took my partner to Odette’s in Primrose Hill on Monday to celebrate his birthday, and I have to say the food was out of this world. Light and fresh, and incredibly good value, I would highly recommend it to anyone local or otherwise, and I can’t wait to go back soon.
 
One thing I did want to share with you all is that this year, I’m really excited to have been asked by Save the Children to be part of their fantastic dance event the Ultimate Danceathon, taking place this October. Last year’s event was a huge success and it was great to see over 9,000 people all over the UK dancing to raise money for such a great cause. There were so many different styles of dance involved – from professional clubs to groups of friends who juts get together and dance in their living rooms! It just goes to show how great dance is at bringing people together! What’s even more exciting is that this year anyone who raises over £300 with their event will be entered into a prize draw to have tea with me – I’m really looking forward to a lovely afternoon chatting all things dance! If you love dancing and think that you’ve got what it takes to host a five-hour dance event then why not sign up this year? It’s really easy to get involved, you just register online at www.savethechildren.org.uk/dance and then get everyone together to dance for five hours and raise sponsorship money to help vulnerable children. Save the Children will even send you an organisers pack with everything you need to organise an event. 
 
So it’s another busy week ahead, and I’ll be sure to check in next week without fail to tell you all about my adventures with dogs, The Apprentice runner up Lusia Zissman, and WAG the Musical…
 
Until next time…
Love Arlene x
 
 

The Megablog

Hello again,

It’s been an absolute whirlwind of a week, and I have been super snaphappy along they way! There’s so many pictures to share with you of all the fabulous and totally diverse places I’ve been, and I thought it would be a great way to start the week…

So this blog begins last Friday night, and dinner with the family at one of our favourite places to eat, HIX in Selfridges.  I think the madness started when Abi and I (who are total non drinkers) were seduced by the very exotic looking cocktail menu, and decided to order ourselves a couple. Well Abi took one sip of her Cosmopolitan, me one of my Chocolate Martini, and we were away with the fairies. After sliding the drinks over to Alana to finish we floated off to the second floor to look  for something I could wear for Let’s Dance the following evening, a dangerous combination when intoxicated and credit card to hand… We had left Angus and Alana’s boyfriend in the men’s shoe department, when Alana got a text saying “”I think Justin Bieber is here, he just picked up the shoes next to me” Well Abi who had been wobbling along through DVF, was off like a shot! Sadly she didn’t find him, but she still had Tuesday to come…

Saturday morning, feeling slight fuzzy headed, I wandered down the road to the hairdressers for phase one of operation “Saturday Night TV Glam Over”, to be completed by Alana on arrival at the BBC. I was off to be a judge on Let’s Dance for Comic Relief, alongside Radio 1’s Greg James, and comedian Lee Mack.  It was a hilarious evening, the highlight most definitely being Vanessa Feltz’ Cher costume, she looked amazing!  The winning performances from Jodie Prenger and Lee Nelson were genius, and the standard of the show overall was fantastic. You can catch up on the show here.  It was strange knowing that’s the last time I’ll be a judge at BBC Television Centre, as it closes it’s doors at the end of this month, and I felt a real mix of emotions thinking about all the times I’ve had there.

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My judging partners in crime, Greg James and Lee Mack.

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Two comedy legends, Richard Curtis and Basil Brush!

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A sad goodbye to the magical Television Centre.

Sunday morning I was up and at ’em early again, getting ready for the Tesco Mum of the Year awards, that I was attending with Abi, and also presenting one of the awards. It was a truly moving afternoon, and the stories of courage and truly selfless acts of some of the women told were just incredible.  I was truly honoured to be there, as were some of the people I managed to snap along the way.

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My darling Abi and I at the awards.

Monday came around again, and it was an exciting start to the week with a meeting at Candoco, a disabled and non-disabled dance company I am going to be a patron of – so watch this space for upcoming news of their latest projects. Later that afternoon I headed off to Radio 2 to chat with Nation’s favourite Claire Balding, where I also met Phillips family idol Mary Berry. The amount of times I hear “but that’s not what Mary Berry would do” is enough to make you never set foot in the kitchen again!

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The fabulous Claire Balding and I.

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Everyones baking hero, Mary Berry.

Tuesday was all about the Loose Women, and I was thrilled to be a guest, talking all about my upcoming challenge for Malaria No More called Live Below the Line.  Me and my Team Arlene – which includes Abi, Coco and Tully – are all going to be living on £1 a day each for a week to raise money and awareness on just what can be done to help prevent this terrible disease.  Please please sponsor us whatever you can, it will be so appreciated, and help motivate us for the challenge! Click here to find out how.
I had all of half an hour back home after Loose Women before I was back in my comfy shoes, and off across London to the O2 with Abi for, yes you guessed it, Justin Bieber!  One of my oldest and dearest friends Tony Selznick was here to join us, and as he’s close friends with Justin’s hairdresser, we had backstage passes, VIP, the lot! Although as I’m sure you can guess not so much my scene, Abi was in her element and we did all have the most fantastic evening.

Brazil was Wednesday’s theme, and I was in meetings all day about the new Brazilian dance project I’m working on with Pamela Stephenson, and although I can’t say too much at this stage, I can say it going to be dynamite!

Thursday I started my day with a breakfast meeting with my darling Richard Roe, assistant extraordinaire, and Wizard of Oz partner in crime.  We talked all things dance, all things gossip, and laughed hysterically at all our memories of Canada. Then it was back home to pick up my case, and get on the train to Manchester with Alana for a very special charity night “Dancing with United”, a Strictly themed night with stars from football, showbiz and Strictly all strutting their stuff for Man Utd’s very own charity.  It’s an amazing programme helping kids get out of gangs and off the streets, many becoming mentors themselves to help other kids in their position. I was amazed hearing the some of the stories, and felt very honoured to be helping such a great cause.  There were some real legends from the footballing world there, including my fellow judges Gary Neville and Nicky Butt.  Of course there were my fellow dancing superstars Louie Spence and Strictly’s own Camilla Dallerup, who joined us on the panel at the last minute after her partner Peter Schmeichel was taken ill earlier that day.  The dancers included current football hero Fabrice Muamba, Quinton Fortune, and Coronation St stars Anthony Cotton, Shobna Gulati, Jenni McAlpine, and Lisa Riley, and finally Sky Sports presenter Jacquie Beltrao. The standard of dancing was fantastic, and honestly one of the best events I have been to, with amazing attention to detail, and real northern hospitality. One of the funnier moments of the trip was me remembering as I arrived at the station I hadn’t brought any jewelery to wear, so it was a – literally – 35 minute dash round Harvey Nichols to find a necklace while the car was waiting outside!  This was only made funnier by getting it back to the hotel, realising it totally didn’t go, and doing the same crazy trip back to return it before running madly to make the train home the next morning!

See who you can spot in these pics:

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I managed to get a couple of hours rest that afternoon, between trying to get through the endless emails I had been too busy to do all week, and then I was ready and out the door for the opening of Ballet Boyz, the talent was truly breathtaking and it was a beautiful production.

The weekend finally came, and it was absolute R&R, which included being cooked the most delicious Mothers Day meal by Alana, with Abi arranging the most beautiful flowers and decorating the dessert with tiny dried purple flowers and petals strew all around the cakes, it was all just exquisite.
I can barely keep my eyes open as I look at my diary and the mad week to come… So until then…

Much love
Arlene x