... at the lovely Beeb, after a week away on The Wright Stuff (which was lovely too!)
Congratulations to the Reading Rockets, for winning yesterday at the National Finals against Leeds in Manchester. Well done to Matt Johnson, assistant director of coaching, who joined us on this morning's programme.
Thanks too to Sarah Winckless, former Olympic rowing champ, who's now doing great things with the 2012 athletes. I asked her if it was true that, with each Olympics, a new sport is added to the whole scenario. Apparently it is, but only as a "demonstration sport". With London 2012, it will probably be one of three likely sports - netball, squash or darts. They haven't yet announced which. Please don't let London 2012 be the Darts Olympics. That would just about set the image of austerity Britain, wouldn't it? AAAaaaagh!
She looked lovely on her wedding day. Her second wedding, that is. The wedding to Prince Charles. She is clearly a wonderful partner for him. Perhaps she's even a decent Duchess. But I cannot help feeling uneasy about the marketing of Camilla, the rehabilitation of her image.
I am very much of the generation that felt I knew Diana. I met her many times. We shared friends, and even a hairdresser. We talked together about cot death, about children, about marriages and men. We weren't friends, but I know Diana wasn't perfect, and might have been very "high maintenance", even manipulative. But she was right when she herself remarked in that famous interview with Martin Bashir that there were three in her marriage. And there should NOT have been.
Camilla as Queen, one day, in a crown that should have been Diana's? No, I really cannot take it. And all this fuss about Camilla appearing on The Archers? Ugh.
Today I met a couple, Simon and Pat Davis, from Bray, whose lives have been transformed by messing about on the river. They've built a business out of boats, sold it and now created a charity which takes disadvantaged and disabled children and adults out on the river. It was a great pleasure to meet them, and if you want to know more - have a look at their website
I so want to have a go.
Today I met Nick Speakman from Hermitage-based 3D Wood. He's a chainsaw carver and can do some wonderfully artistic things with wood. At the moment he's working on a piece for a theatrical family, based on the theatrical comedy/tragedy masks. You can just see it inside his van. It's going to stand in their hallway, apparently!
Just want also to send my love and best wishes, and commiserations to anyone who was at the races at Newbury on Saturday. Those were such distressing scenes, when those two wonderful horses died after receiving what we presume, at the moment, was some sort of electrical shock.
Still on sport - I cannot believe I actually did this - what's happening to me? There I was at home, painting a door, when I caught sight of Wayne Rooney's amazing goal on TV on Saturday afternoon, against Man City, and I recorded it to show to my boys when they got home. What an incredible goal - thought to be Rooney's Best Ever! He was flipping through mid air, backwards and upside down and still managed to get it in the goal. Fantastic! As soon as my sons walked in the door (newly painted) I said: "you've just got to come and see Wayne Rooney's goal!" They thought I'd flipped myself.
Ooh - and congrats to everyone concerned with The King's Speech, after a triumphant evening at the BAFTAs.
All in all, a thoroughly good weekend.
...and I'm not just talking about Graham McKechnie, our sports reporter here at BBC Radio Berkshire. The one with the weird green wig is Bill Newton, one of the drummers for London Irish
games at Reading's Madejski Stadium
Today, I did an "insider's guide" to going to the rugby for the first time. I went along to see London Irish play there for the first time a few weeks ago and couldn't recommend it more highly. I had a fantastic time. Don't know anything, really, about rugby - but when a guy grabs the ball and runs, it makes sense to cheer him on and get excited - especially if he's running in the right direction! Plus, I had one son either side to explain a few bits and pieces.
The drumming was something I hadn't expected - but it really adds to the atmosphere. And I recommend, if you can get it, an Irish coffee at half time.
Cross fingers they win this weekend. If you want to hear the insider's guide - go to the iPlayer!
Meet the two extraordinary women who started The Pink Place in Basingstoke
, a sort of hairdressers/sanctuary for women fighting breast cancer - a place where women can go, get their hair done, perhaps an Indian head massage, some counselling and even do a spot of "boob bonding" in total privacy and empathy. Use your imagination!
If you want to want to know more - go to their website! Currently, it's held every other Monday (next one is on the 21st) in Basingstoke. But the girls want to expand it - to every day, all over the country.
Sounds a brilliant idea, and given the need, a vital one indeed!
cos I'm changing the horrid old door handles on my bedroom doors - but I am having to learn how to gauge whether I need mortice mechanisms or roller latches. And I've had to learn what a "backset" is.
I need an apprenticeship in carpentry. Always loved woodwork but went to a girls' school and we only learned how to bake upside down flans and something called Queen's Pudding which I haven't tasted since my first effort at the age of 14.
But on today's show, I met Gareth, who's on a carpentry apprenticeship at Reading College. At least he taught me how to saw in a straight line! It's National Apprenticeship Week, which is a great initiative to try and influence more employers to get on board. Great idea, though possibly a bit late for me.
By the way - a backset is the vital distance between the edge of the door and the doorknob. Cos if it's not far enough, you scrape your knuckles on the door frame. You really needed to know that, didn't you?
I've spent the morning at the Royal Berkshire hospital
- and met everyone at the renal unit. It turned out to be a real morning of girl power. Yes, I know there are wonderful male doctors, nurses, professional fund raisers there - but today I met some remarkably feisty females without whom the Royal Berks would be a lesser place, I reckon!
So best wishes and thanks to ward sister, Jill, and Matron Leo. It was lovely to see them again - today was my third visit. But the award for feistiness must go to an amazing woman who's made it to the top of her lofty professional tree whilst also being a wife and mother of three. She's a consultant oncologist at the hospital but also President of the Royal College of Radiologists, spearheading the "Year of Radiology" which is celebrating 100 years since Marie Curie won her SECOND Nobel prize for pioneering discoveries which led to the whole treatment process. She's Jane Barratt, clearly a fan of Madame Curie.
Listen again to her interview with me this morning - a celebration of girl power!
But I know what Anna Ford means when she says David Dimbleby is lucky that, even though he's a charming old dinosaur
, he can still be seen as thoroughly employable at the grand old age of 77 - and on television, too.
Whatever you think of Dimbleby and his new contract, which will give him another five years on Question Time - the question is - why don't we see older women on TV? Dimbleby proves that you don't have to be chocolate-box good looking to be viewed as a professional, doing a credible job if you've got what it takes.
So why does it seem that women must be chocolate-box good looking to stay on TV? Anna herself still looks great, and has acquired an authority she didn't have when she was the doe-eyed doyenne of ITN News back in the seventies and eighties. I'm sorry to say, it's plain, straightforward discrimination. We live in an ageist, sexist society and the world of tv is more to blame than most.
Come on, let's see some older women do their job as well as we know they can - right into their seventies - as they do in the USA, where older TV newswomen hang onto their jobs well into their wrinkly years.
It's just on our doorstep, but how many of us have ever been there, let alone walked through the beautiful countryside, drank at the pubs and looked for the bunny rabbits?
In 2012, it will be the 40th anniversary of the publication of the famous book by 90 year old author, Richard Adams. And to mark the occasion, there's an exhibition of paintings of Watership Down, by Italian born artist Aldo Galli, in co-operation with Adams.
If you fancy that as your start point, the exhibition is at the Sandford Springs golf club in Kingsclere, Hampshire. It's only on this weekend, though.
I've known Lizzie Webb
since 1983, when Greg Dyke re-launched TVam with Nick, me, Roland Rat, Wincey Willis doing the weather, and "Mad Lizzie" Webb. Lizzie was a phenomenon in those days, something we'd never really seen on television before. But she almost immediately became hugely popular.
Now, she's doing something completely different - away from the cameras and the newspaper headlines. She's using her experience and enthusiasm, and her obvious skills at both communication and exercise, to transform the lives of young people in and around Berkshire. They're youngsters who've dropped out of society, who come from dsyfunctional backgrounds, many of whom are in trouble with the law, most of whom have been excluded from school. And she turns their lives around, by getting them interested in exercise and training, and encouraging them towards qualifications and even becoming trainers themselves.
This weekend, some of her pupils will be instructing the police at a special event at St Lawrence Church in Reading at 4pm, Saturday. The very kids who've been at the wrong end of the law will be challenging police to fitness routines, and showing them what they've learned.
I can't tell you how inspirational Lizzie is - and how amazing her pupils have become. I'll be meeting them on Monday's programme. But for the moment, I wish them all the very best on Saturday.
He's the man with the best title ever for his autobiography - "In the Time Of Nick". Great, eh? It was wonderful to catch up with my wonderful old friend, Nick Owen
, this morning on my radio show.
We hardly ever get to see each other much, but we do always stay in contact, thanks to text messaging! When we first worked together, there was no such thing as texting, no emails, no twitter, and actually no computers. I remember our first fax machine, brought into the ATV Today newsroom in Birmingham, where Nick worked as the sports presenter, and I as a newsreader and reporter. It was the size of a Mini Metro.
A lot has changed since those days. He's a dad now, and a grandfather! And I'm a mum of four - all of my sons now several inches taller than me. Nick has since become a "veteran" in the world of tv and radio. He started his career at BBC Radio Birmingham some 40 years ago, has since been presented with a lifetime achievement award, and hailed as Speaker of the Year!
He's a great admirer of the poet AE Housman, who wrote "A Shropshire Lad".
This is Nick's favourite:
Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
Catch Nick tonight on Midlands Today