No Horn Here

Another week, another work trip. Four nights, three hotels, two countries. Walking into my room on Monday I laughed out loud: a bed big enough for quite some party, leather headboard, sultry lighting…

“Some hotel rooms are wasted on work trips,” I tweeted. Within minutes Maria, Molly and Jade had all revealed a hotel kink.

It got better. I may have started with the leather headboard, but two days later I got the cow. “Nothing like getting the horn in a hotel,” quipped Molly.

I rarely get the horn in a hotel. I average a week a month in them. The combination of jet lag and long shoot days means I either flop down and am out cold, or busy brain keeps me wired and insomniac. I get horny when I check out of a hotel. Giving back a key card, not taking it, signals play time for me.

But here’s a little horniness just for you, ladies…



Kaleidoscope boobs

This photograph happened completely by accident one night this week while I was sat up in bed undertaking the decidedly dull task of organising iPad apps! Swiping through, I found a photo app that I have no recollection of ever downloading. Opening it up I was faced with this strange kaleidoscope image of my own chest. I quickly snapped it.

I’m going to try not to dwell too much on the body negative in my Exposing 40 project, being as it is a positive exercise, but I’ve written before, when posting anonymously on Exhibit A’s site, that in the past I haven’t got on very well with my boobs. They do a good job of signposting traffic south-west and south-east and you could drive a bus between them. Add to this the fact that (unless they’re being entertained or I’ve tweaked them to attention for the sake of a photo) I have one flat and one inverted nipple, and you get a picture of my tongue-in-cheek ambivalence towards them!

So I was quite amused to see the kaleidoscope lens effect create cute plumptious hearts of my boobs. Are they begging me to love them, I wonder?


The Shape of Things to Come

When I started this project a month ago I didn’t really imagine that I would contribute to any meme other than Sinful Sunday, but when Molly posted this week’s Kink of the Week prompt it sparked a memory so connected to the essence of Exposing 40 that here I am.

In Stepping Out I mentioned the night out with my “soul sister” friends. There are a lot of nights out with these three women – actually they are more often nights in – but either way they are always hilarious, rejuvenating, and heavily seasoned with prosecco.

On this particular evening, about 18 months ago, one of them rocked up with her Rigby and Peller corset. On a previous night we’d all ended up prancing round her living room wearing her ludicrously high sex shoes, taking photos of our feet and giggling like teenagers. Actually, prancing is a lie. I think we wobbled on the spot. Ever since, she’d been promising to bring along her corset.

Fast forward a couple of hours, dinner is done, and I am being strapped in. Two of them embarked on this mission with gusto. The look on the host’s face as she walked into her living room to find me flanked by one friend who’d rolled up her sleeves and another who’d removed her top completely and was working in just her bra, such was the effort they were putting in, was priceless.

I loved feeling each tug as the laces were tightened and the giddy anticipation of wondering what I would look like. The photos of that night are not great ones – they are shot quickly on iPhone, many are grainy and out of focus. The corset clearly doesn’t fit me very well – I think it’s one thing to accentuate your chest and another altogether to have it exploding out in strange distorted creases. But I love these photos. I still look at them occasionally and smile at the memories of the evening.

Shortly after, unstrapped and breathing again, I sent a series of the photos to a guy I was chatting to but was yet to meet. “And this is my favourite,” I said, attaching the photo below to my last message. “Is that because you look fucking gorgeous?” came the quick response.

Fucking gorgeous.

I don’t think of myself as fucking gorgeous. That’s not me fishing for a compliment – when I set the bits of me I don’t like against the bits I do, on balance I am generally content with what I’ve got going on – it’s just ‘fucking gorgeous’ is a pretty bold statement.

But I did feel like that for half an hour wearing that corset: my boobs were up and my belly was under control in a way that, as this week’s Sinful Sunday shows, neither are naturally wont to do! I couldn’t believe this shape that had been created.

One day I will buy a corset of my own and create that shape all over again.




AndromedaToday I am off to the Rubens exhibition at the Royal Academy. The website describes him as being “best known for his fleshy nude women.” So I thought I’d have a go at mocking up one of his paintings for this week’s Sinful Sunday! I settled on Andromeda.

Quite by chance, on the day that we celebrate motherhood in the UK, the only material I could find that was diaphanous enough to be a useful prop was my Granny’s wedding veil. I am not sure what she’d make of this! I am pretty sure she wouldn’t approve of the fleshiness of the model – she was forever telling me to wear a girdle (really!) and would promise I could have her beautiful old coats, but only once I lost some weight. But I do think she’d smile at this project.

I have my suspicions that if she’d been born a few decades later, her life would have been a little more like mine – childfree and full of travel. The youngest of seven daughters and mother to three sons, she didn’t try very hard to hide the fact she liked animals more than humans. With a magnifying glass she used to pore over a tiny map of the world, trying to find where I was working that month. “You’ll never settle down, will you?” she asked me once. It sounded more like an expression of concern than a question. “Don’t”, she said next, “I don’t think you’d like it very much.”




Today is International Women’s Day.

Today I fly from the UK to East Africa, via the Middle East. I leave behind a property I own, an active and enriching social life, and lovers who challenge my mind, body and assumptions about myself. I enjoy respect and independence in my personal and professional life. I do not need to seek permission from my husband or father to travel.

I will fly via a country where women are flogged for illicit sexual relations and where this blog would likely be dubbed a cybercrime and a threat to social values under restrictive freedom of expression laws. I will work for a week in a country where some two million women had their clitoris and labia removed before the age of five and their vagina sewn up (bar a tiny opening for menstruation) until marriage, and where they can expect to be a grandmother three or four times over by the age of 40.

The freedom to enjoy, own and express our bodies is born out of where we are born. It is a freedom I cherish. Sadly women’s bodies are still political territory. Fighting to retain freedom for ourselves at home and to win it for women around the world is why International Women’s Day matters.


PS: I may not have internet access where I am going so a friend has posted my link to Sinful Sunday and will be approving comments on my behalf. If I can’t get online I will reply to your messages and look at your pictures when I am back next weekend.


This Woman Can

A quick follow up and back story to yesterday’s Sinful Sunday post, which was hastily snapped and bashed out in 10 minutes between showering and diving into the wine and cheese!

I was looking at my running app on the way home from yesterday’s race. On 2nd March 2013 I ran 0.93 miles and it took me 15 minutes! Four months later I ran the London 10k and got my first medal. Ten months after that I ran the London Marathon. I am sure yesterday’s medal – my third – will not be my last.

But, I am still really bloody slow. Faster than a 15 minute mile for sure, but still slow enough to be in the last few hundred crossing the line of an 11,000 strong race. Do I care? Yes, I care enough to want to get better because I know I can, but I don’t care enough to stop doing it.

You wouldn’t look at me and see athlete. I am 5′ 10″ and a solid 13 – 13.5 stone. When the BBC had its athlete generator thing on its homepage during the Olympics my height, build and weight put me closest to a member of the Jamaican women’s shot put team. A lithe Paula Radcliffe I am not! But I still ran the same 26.2 miles through London that she previously had, because I decided I wanted to and so I did.

This is something else I’ve noticed about getting older. Exercise is no longer about making ourselves look a certain way, it’s about making ourselves feel a certain way. It’s  about challenging ourselves, putting in the work and experiencing the joy of achievement. We no longer spend silly money on expensive gym membership only to wear our lack of attendance as a badge of honour indicating how busy our social life is.

As life diversifies and responsibilities encroach, exercise gives us time with our friends, not away from them. Even better than that, it gives us valuable time alone with the most worrisome decision being which playlist or TED talk to load and whether to go left or right at the next junction. More and more of my friends are taking up sport that takes place outdoors too – running, military fitness, netball, rowing, long distance walking, open water swimming. Fresh air and taking on the British weather – double win!

And I love that we are all doing this. No matter our weight, ability, family or career responsibilities we are quietly making time to look after our physical and mental wellbeing. Because, like I said, for most of us these days that’s what exercise is about – not how it makes you look but how it makes you feel. Because a healthy, glowing, happy person is one you want to be and be around a whole lot more than one who’s slaving in the gym to get into a dress.


The title of this blog is in total homage to the This Girl Can campaign, which I absolutely bloody love!