Just let me be me


make up

I’m sure that many of you have seen this post do the rounds on Facebook. It crops up quite frequently, a lot of the time posted by women. Sometimes, although rarely, posted by men.
I can usually ignore posts that annoy me, I tend to not waste time thinking about them or commenting on them. But this one really does get on my nerves every time I see it and read some of the judgmental comments that people write.
Please don’t misunderstand me, everyone is entitled to their opinions and I respect that. But this particular make up debate goes on and on and is often instigated by women.

If I didn’t wear make-up I would look at best homeless and at worse close to death.

Whose opinion is that? Mine.
Do I feel pressured into wearing make-up every time I leave the house? Never
Does it really matter to anyone else if I wear make-up so I feel I look better? No
Does that make me vain? I don’t think so.

I admire women who go without make-up, either all the time, or who just wear make-up on special occasions. Because it is their choice, as it is the choice of women who want to wear it every day.

Do I think that some women would look better with a bit of make-up? Yes
Do I also think that some women wear too much make-up or sometimes get it a bit wrong? Yes for sure.

But it is not my business, I would never  judge them or make them feel bad about their choices. I keep my opinions to myself unless asked for advice.

We women need to stick together, support each other and the choices we make. We are all doing the best we can and we should be bigging each other up, not judging or criticising.

In the words of Tanya from Mamma Mia-Here we go again, we should be bolstering…..
So please bolster !


Who is Nathan Moore?

Who is Nathan Moore you may well ask. That is what some of my friends were asking on Facebook and when I returned from my Butlin’s 80’s weekend in September.

Who is Nathan Moore? My chalet mates, aka Lisa, Liz, Karen and my sis in law Sharon, were discussing when we were trying to decide our Saturday night of entertainment. We knew we wanted to see Jason Donovan and sing “Especially for you” to him. On the stage before him was this Nathan Moore. After a quick stalking session via Google we discovered he was part of the boy band Brother Beyond and we only recognised one song from their hey-day in the 80’s. We did debate giving him a miss after branding them as one hit wonders.

But we were all ready to go out in our retina burning bright colours and crimped hair, so we thought we would give him a chance.

80's chicks
We staked our claim right in front of the stage as we were preparing for the wait for Jason and wanted pole position. We didn’t even stop off at the bar and went in shifts to protect our spot, we were so committed.
I am happy to report that in fact Nathan Moore is a fabulous entertainer, he did sing that one song we knew, ( “The harder I try”, in case you were wondering), but he also performed many other tunes so well and dare I say it……he was better than Jason! He also did photos at the end which of course Sharon and I had to do.


I know a lot people give Butlin’s a wide berth believing it to be a manky and dirty place swimming in Norovirus. But this is the second 80’s weekend I’ve been to in Minehead and I found it to be very clean. These events are very well organised, entertaining and good value for money. I highly recommend giving them a go.

A tale of two boy bands

This year I was fortunate enough to see 2 boy bands play live. The two occasions could not have been any more different, even if I planned them to be.
I need to tell you about the second event first. My bestie tart friend Jane and her daughter Phoebe invited me to go with them to Birmingham to see Westlife. I’ve never really considered myself to be a huge fan of theirs but not able to turn down a night away, I was all for it.
But oh boy I was not disappointed, they put on a fantastic show and I sang along to every song so I must be more of a fan than I first thought. They also did an outstanding Queen tribute which was an unexpected treat.
The three of us had a fabulous time filled with music, alcohol and a lot of laughs.
A word to the wise though, if you need walk alongside the canal to go to and from your hotel, it’s probably best not to knock back as many of the 2 for 1 cocktail combos as we did, it made it a bit tricky to safely negotiate the sometimes narrow paths and little bridges.



The first boy band story is very different. This was definitely a case of being at the right place at the right time.
As soon as I discovered Take That was coming to Bristol I knew I needed to be there. I must admit I wasn’t their biggest fan in the 90’s but they have grown on me over the years. Their stage presence was legendary and I wanted to be a part of it.
Unfortunately I fell at the first hurdle when trying to get tickets, it was a combination of not being fast enough and not waiting long enough on the phone. But not to be put off, I remembered dancing around Hyde Park a couple of years ago outside the Summer Festival, where they put on a fantastic show which I could just about see on the big screen, through a gap in the fencing.
So armed with our prosecco supply my bestie George and now friend Emma planned to listen from a park next door to the stadium. I assumed lots of people would have the same idea, but as it turned out we were the only three sad Muppets there, sat on our camp chairs sipping warm fizz from plastic cups.
It soon became apparent when the time came for Rick Astley to be on stage that we couldn’t hear a thing and George needed a wee. So we packed up and headed to the stadium with the intention of finding a better vantage point.
And then the miracle happened……. While George was in a well-known fast food outlet using the facilities, Emma and I were approached by a man selling three tickets for £20. Our faces must have immediately taken on looks of suspicion as he went to explain that he was the driver on an organised bus trip and not all the passengers had turned up. He just wanted to get some of the money back and not waste the tickets. As we were still not convinced, he proved their validity by getting George through the barrier. Emma and I wasted no time stowing our camp gear in the storage area and getting ourselves onto the pitch.
The night could not have been any better, we could not believe our luck. We were in time for the last Rick Astley song, he was fantastic. Take That were out of this world, they really are the greatest showmen.
So take that chance, plan something small, it may turn into something bigger and much more than you ever imagined.


Worked to death

I’ve always been interested in gymnastics and as a child in the 70’s and early 80’s I loved watching the greats such as Nadia Comaneci, Nellie Kim, Olga Korbut, Elena Shusahunova, Elena Davydova, and many more whose names I can’t remember.

I used to get the Gymnast magazine every month, poured over the photos, read all about the championships I would never see on TV as in those days there were only 3 channels and gymnastics didn’t get much air time, and found out random facts like Nadia Comaneci liked to put butter on her chips!!!  I daydreamed about being able to somersault and fling myself around the uneven bars like all of amazing gymnasts of this era.

So imagine my joy when I was able to join a group on Facebook called  Gymnastics – A golden era, focusing mainly on gymnasts from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, sharing photos, videos and information about all my favourites.

Since reading the posts I have a discovered a gymnast from the 1970’s I hadn’t heard of. Her name was Elena Mukhina and her story is a tragic tale of a career cut very short by injury. There isn’t a lot of information about Elena online, when I did a search the limited sites about her all seemed to have the same content almost word for word.

Elena was born on June 1st 1960 in Moscow and was brought up by her grandmother from the age of 5, after her mother died in a house fire. She became interested in gymnastics at a relatively late age and trained at the Central Red Army Sports Club.

Her coach was Mikhail Kilmenko who was well known for coaching the male soviet team. He was keen to bring in elements from the men’s competition in Elena’s routines especially in her floor work and on the uneven bars.

The hard work paid off for Elena and she shone at the 1978 World championships in Strasbourg, showcasing a full twisting double back salto dismount on beam, twisting Korbut flip on the uneven bars and a full twisting double back somersault which she did in her floor routine combined with the beautiful and graceful ballet inspired artistry that the Soviets were famous for.

Despite the successes in the 1978 World Championships, the Russians were still reeling from their defeat at the hands of the Romanians, in particular Nadia Comaneci, in the 1976 Olympic games in Montréal. The pressure was on for the women’s team to do well and win big in the next Olympic games in Moscow in 1980.

Unfortunately Elena broke her leg in training in 1979 and was put in plaster to recover. But Mikhail was under orders from senior soviet coaches to get her training as soon as possible so that she would be ready for the games. To that end her cast was removed too early, Elena knew that her leg was not healed properly and told him that it was crooked and not strong enough to train on. An Xray revealed that the bones had separated again and she was sent immediately for surgery.

Once more the race was on to get Elena championship ready, in addition to perfecting her routines, she was also doing gruelling weight loss training to lose the extra pounds gained while recovering from her surgery. Her coach wanted her to include more complex moves into her work, only really performed by men at that time. His idea was to add the Thomas Salto to her floor routine. This was a move perfected by American gymnast Kurt Thomas, a one and three quarter flip with one and a half twists finishing with a forward roll. This required a lot of strength and speed to achieve the necessary height to be able to complete all the twists and flips and be in the correct position to safely finish in the roll. Hence why it was considered a skill for the men’s competition.

Elena knew that this element was extremely dangerous and repeatedly told her coach that she risked serious injury. But despite the weakness in her leg and her exhaustion from the extra weight-loss training, she was heavily encouraged to continue to try and perfect the move. Just two weeks before the Moscow games Elena was training in Minsk, her coach was away for a couple of days, so she was left under the supervision of other coaches from the national team. While practising the Thomas Salto she couldn’t find the height required and crashed landed on her chin, snapping her cervical spine. The accident left Elena a quadriplegic and she remained in a wheelchair until her death from complications of her paralysis at the age of 46 in 2006.

In one of the posts on the FB group somebody raised the question if Elena hadn’t been injured would she have continued to excel in the national team, do well in the 1980 Olympics and become even greater than she was in those few short years of her career. The obvious answer is we’ll never know, but looking at some of the quotes from a rare interview she gave to Ogonyok Magazine after years of silence about her time in the Soviet gymnastic programme, it seems to me that she was never happy and always felt very pressured during her career. She said “We’ve always placed a high value on risk, and a human life was worth little in comparison with the prestige of the nation; we’ve been taught to believe this since childhood“, she also said “Apart from the gym and gymnastics nothing existed, I didn’t have the right to be ill, problems outside sports simply didn’t exist“.  From these quotes I believe she felt like a cog in the wheel, just doing what was expected of her, whatever the cost. I think her  most profound quote though was the one immediately after her injury, as she lay on the floor she thought to herself “Thank God, I won’t be going to the Olympics“. She never criticised Mikhail, her coach, for what happened to her. She always believed that he was also a victim of the system.

Here is a compilation video of Elena in action, some in competition , some in training. In the training footage I see an exhausted, pale and thin girl trying her very best.









Another year…. another challenge

Last year 3 crazy ladies, myself and my 2 buddies Debbie and Selena, did a zip wire ride  in central London in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. As the charity is very close to my heart I suggested and arranged the whole thing.  It was a massive challenge for Selena and Debbie as both are afraid of heights. When we climbed the tower, that moved from side to side with every step, I felt very guilty when Selena was shaking with fear and Deb looked like she was going to throw up. But they were both extremely brave and we managed to raise £1104 for the charity.

zip wire challenge

This year however there is no death defying slide through the air and no coercing my terrified friends into doing something that they really don’t want to do. No this year I have been talked into running the 10k Race for life by my friend’s daughter Phoebe.

I haven’t done any serious running since I did the Bristol Half Marathon many years ago, when the weather was so vile that I was sobbing as I crossed the finish line. It wasn’t something I wanted to repeat in a hurry. But time is a greater healer, all memories of that awful day have almost been erased and it is only 10k.

Every penny raised and donated to Cancer Research can only be a good thing, so dig deep my friends and click on the link so I can’t back out of this challenge.

Carole’s Race for Life

Three Crazy Ladies

Just when I thought the birthday fabulousness was over the tenacious trio are at it again!

While scrolling through the land of Facebook I spotted an advert for the Zip Wire London. Of course the first people I thought of was Selena and Debbie, my partners in crime for the walk over the O2 for our combined big fabulous birthdays last year. Luckily for me they had had a little tipple or two just before I suggested doing the wire and agreed to do it.

Since booking our slots a very dear friend of mine very sadly died from Motor Neurone Disease, my dad also died from this devastating illness 24 years ago. So we decided to do the zip wire as a sponsored event in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association and try to raise £1000. This amount of money will enable invaluable research and fund care and support for sufferers and their families. At the time of writing we have had enough donations to get us 53% of the way to our target.

As an adrenaline junky I can’t wait to do it, Selena and Debbie…. not so much. This is a massive challenge for both of them so it’ll be really fantastic if you the reader could click on the link below, donate to this fundraising event and help make a difference.


the tenacious trio




Fabulously Festive End

I have come to the end of my posts about my Fabulous at 50 year 2017. I have not written about every single event as I didn’t want to bore my readers senseless and also I managed to do 67 instead of the intended 50.

To finish off my very busy year my last few fabulous things were blessed by the Christmas fairies…….

My nieces and I decided to take part in the Santa run in Bristol Harbourside to raise money for Children’s Hospice Southwest. If it wasn’t festive enough running through the streets with a load of other Santas, we even had snow!

team gardiner girls santa run

For the first time in quite a few years we had a hospital ball. The Women’s and Children’s directorate of our trust gathered at the Passenger Shed of Brunel’s Temple Meads Station for a “Fairy Tale in New York” themed extravaganza. It was a fabulous night filled with bubbles, entertainment, dancing and lots of snow.

Just before Christmas 5 crazy friends gathered for a house party full of festive food, fizz and laughter.

Unfortunately son number one, Scott, had to work Christmas Day so a visit to Winchester was needed to deliver pressies and have a mooch around the Christmas market.

scott christmas

The main event was spent with the rest of my fabulous familam.

I had the amazing year celebrating reaching my half century and I’m so happy I decided to do 50 fabulous things instead of having a big party. I’ve had so much fun enjoying spending time with all my family and friends, parties, cocktails, going on jollies, visiting new places and doing slightly daft stuff.

Thank you to all my fellow fabulous thing partners in crime, you have truly made my birthday year unforgettable. I love you all



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