My 4 Gorgeous Girls, Becky, Lauren, Elise & Kate

October 20th, 2011

My Girls

Posted in: From the Author by Molly Hopkins on October 20th, 2011
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Bootcamp it with Brealy Bootcamps.

September 20th, 2011

 A Step Towards The Body You’ve Always Wanted.

I’ve just returned from a six day stay at Brealy Bootcamp. I’m a new woman. Like totally different. I’ve  been transformed from a wine guzzling, nachos munching sofa  blob, to a show-offy pony tail swinging fitness fanatic, (well almost, my pony tail is too short to swing). 

 I arrived at Camp Brealy on Sunday rather the worse for wear, after a fabulous party in Eastbourne to celebrate the publication of Unlike A Virgin by Lucy Anne Holmes, (which is an absolutely amazing read). Celebrating is something of a specialty of mine and Lucy is equally practiced. Subsequently, I trudged up the gravel path of Paramoor House set in the beautiful Chiltern Hills with a bongo drum banging in my head.

A very cheerful Jules, the Lifestyle Coach, caught me wandering aimlessly around Paramoors splendid Victorian oak panelled hallway. Jules linked her arm through mine and lead me to meet Julie Brealy, founder of Brealy Bootcamps. Typically, Jules and Julie are fit and trim, but obviously I forgave them for that, because they were going to make me fit and trim.

 I was the first of my group to arrive, and so helped myself to a cup of herbal tea and a slice of carrot cake, and had a wander around the grounds.  Paramoor House is an excellent example of a fine Victorian country seat, with a fabulous garden that provides delicious organic vegetables for Paramoor’s kitchens.  I was surprised. I had expected an assault course, a running track and bland dormitory style accommodation. After all this was a Bootcamp, not the set of Downtown Abbey.

Once our complement of participants arrived, we were directed to the Blue Room, where we sat in squishy tasseled sofas and listened to Jules and Julie as they gave us a run down on what to expect from our week at Brealy Bootcamp. I was gripped. I wished I’d done this year’s ago. I felt like clapping. This was going to be a week of absolute self-indulgence. Menus would be selected and cooked for me, calories and fat content would be assessed and portion sizes controlled. I would have a personal trainer, (this is no exaggeration because Julie Brealy has eyes in the back of her head, and she can magically see around corners, she knows if you slack before point of death, she misses nothing). At my finger tips would be the expertise of a nutritionist, hypnotherapist, masseuse and a running coach.  This week would be all about me. I would have more staff looking after me, nurturing me and catering to my every need than Jennifer Aniston. And it was up to me to make the most of it, and I fully intended to do just that, definitely!  The only tiny niggle in the back of my mind was that I wasn’t fit. Not even a little bit. My idea of a jog is hot tailing it down stairs if the Henry Hoover is on the tumble. Would I be able to keep up? But that was an inconsequential point, because I was here to get fit. Apparently all I had to do was exercise from sunrise to sunset. I mean, how hard could that be?  

Jules suggested that each member of the group introduce themselves and tell us why they had come to Brealy Bootcamp and what they hoped to achieve. I’m nosey, so I switched to uber attentive. And again, I was pinned. Strangers we may have been, but it was as if everyone had taken a truth pill. “I’ve gained four stone in two years, because. . .” was the opening statement. I felt an immediate connection and a rush of companionship towards these people I’d only just met. I was in the mood for a kit-kat, a cappuccino and a gossip, when suddenly the introductions were over and it was time to check into our room, put on our trainers and show what we were made of.  And frankly, I wasn’t made of much. I moaned for two days. If I wasn’t grumbling about how much I hated running, I was harping on about missing white wine. I took my watch off because in circuit training I was checking the time every 30 seconds.  I feared I might vomit my tonsils with exertion.  And then on the third day something truly amazing happened. We went on a four mile power walk through the beautiful Berkshire countryside. Our group paced themselves according to ability. The two show offs Sharon and Cranmore, (you know who you are), were as usual way up front. I followed the Lorna, Ali and Hannah trio.  We fell into a trudging chatty rhythm, comparing our partner’s sexual prowess and ripping the people to shreds that audition for the X-Factor even though they can’t sing, (why do they do it?).  We must’ve had a lot to say, because before I knew it we were back at camp. And I, Molly Hopkins had power walked four miles, just like that, with no effort whatsoever. Apart from the uphill bit when Lorna pushed me, and Hannah pulled me, and Ali chanted, “come on, come on, you can do it.”  And I kept saying, “you go on, leave me, leave me, I’ll be fine.” Like a Vive la Revolution heroine. In my defense the hill was practically perpendicular. The point is, I had walked four miles. I was inspired. I felt absolutely fabulous. I had reached a level of fitness to boast about. Well I thought so anyway.

And so the following day when Beverly the running coach arrived with her Labrador Leyla to take us on a ten mile stroll, (I swear Julie called it a stroll), I was jogging on the spot and doing star jumps. I was raring to go, I couldn’t wait.  And OK, it didn’t quite pan out as planned because Hannah and I collapsed after five miles, (I blame the raring to go, I’d worn myself out). We sat in a field and phoned Julie to come and pick us up. Which she did, tearing through the hedgerow in her posh 4×4 like the Charge of the Light Brigade, (it’s all part of the service).  But still, five miles, blimey! Amazing! Don’t forget I walked four miles the previous day, so we’re totting up a fair old distance now. Me, who only ever walks up and down Oxford Street.    

At Brealys Bootcamp there are no military camouflage jackets, no jackboots and no whistles. Julie and her team encourage by means of persuasive cajoling. Their goal is to tease you towards your personal potential by means of a skillfully designed fitness regime, enabling you to keep to pace regardless of your fitness level. When you decide you cannot walk another step, it doesn’t matter; because suddenly it’s time to lie on your back and torture your abs, the formula works . . . it works brilliantly. This expertly crafted fitness programme is further complimented by a delicious and well balanced eating plan; I was on a diet but didn’t need willpower.

In the  evening after a relaxed meal in the dining room where we ate in a chummy circle, we would move into the sitting room. Ali practiced her Sports Therapy Massaging skills, (you have magic fingers Ali), and the rest of us would argue over the remote control. It was just like being at home. There was a sense of unity amongst our small group. We became friends. OK, a bit of a skirmish broke out at netball, and again at rounders, but that’s understandable. After all who wants to be on the losing team?  Not me.

 The end of the week came too quickly and as an unwelcome surprise. And as for the results, well I don’t want to boast, but I lost 7lbs. I was amazed; I lost 7lbs in six days. Our ‘Biggest Loser’ was Reg, who lost an astonishing 14lbs, and Julie and Dolly took 2nd and 3rd place with 11lbs and 10lbs respectively. But it doesn’t end there. Brealy Bootcamp menus and recipes were distributed, email addresses exchanged and details of our follow up maintenance programme discussed. Brealy Bootcamp keeps in touch with you, offering support and advice on how you can maintain your weight loss and work towards achieving the body and fitness you’ve always wanted. How is that for service? It’s unbelievable really.

At home on Saturday morning, my alarm went off at six o’clock, (big groan that was the time it had been set for all week at the camp). I switched the alarm off. And then, the weirdest thing happened. I got out of bed, got dressed and put my trainers on. I know! I know! Even the dog was surprised, I swear he lifted an eyebrow when he saw me.  I went running, only for 20 minutes. Still it was 20 minutes longer than I would have bothered to do before. Will I keep it up? I hope so. Will I go back to Brealy Bootcamp? Definitely. Without sounding cheesy because I hate a cheesy-talker, but if I can lose 7lbs in six days, anyone can. So check out www.brealybootcamps.co.uk.

Posted in: From the Author by Molly Hopkins on September 20th, 2011
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My Rant !

August 21st, 2011

I rarely air my political views, primarily because I seldom have any, although I do have a fascinating repertoire of mock political views. I bring them to the fore should I find myself at a function, trapped in a coma inducing conversation, with some snoresville person that everyone else has managed to avoid.

However, there is one issue that I would like to have a little rant about, and that’s the ridiculous meteoric rise of university fees. What on earth is David Cameron thinking? (For some reason I usually call him Andrew Cameron, he doesn’t look like a David to me. I don’t know why the name Andrew sticks in my head, because he doesn’t look like an Andrew either. He looks like a Rodney).

 From next year students signing up for a three year course could be facing a student loan of a horrendous £27,000, as opposed to the £9,000 cost of three years tuition at the moment.  Who had that brilliant idea? Isn’t it fantastic? A whole generation will begin working life with an enormous black cloud of debt hanging over their heads. A cloud of debt larger than most people would ever dream of committing to, not even  for home improvement, or a new car or a deposit for a flat!

 I don’t doubt there is a need for an injection of cash into our education system. I just think the government should generate the cash some other way, and there MUST be another way.  My rant is on behalf of the parents and students facing the hugely inflated fees next year. I think David (Andrew, Rodney) Cameron, needs to do a serious bit of back-tracking on this issue. It simply isn’t fair.

No good will come it.

Posted in: From the Author by Molly Hopkins on August 21st, 2011
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Fashionista Day In London !

August 14th, 2011

Last week retailers across the UK flocked to London for the UK’s leading fashion buying event, Pure Fashion at Olympia Earls Court. My friend Hazel and I had freebie tickets, courtesy of our daughters who were slaving behind the scenes on a four day work experience placement. We were really looking forward to it . . . until we got there.

Laid out before us were over 1,000 brands of contemporary womenswear, boutique showcases, stylish evening and occasionwear, handcrafted jewels, bespoke hats and some of the most elegant and stylish footwear I’ve ever seen. I was gripped with stomach churning excitement. My credit card was ON FIRE, it was literally seeping radiation. The Olympia Exhibition Centre had been transformed into a glittering textile mirage. My kind of place !

‘Amazing,’ Hazel said, digging in her handbag for her facial mist.

I grabbed her elbow and weaved past a party of slow walkers in front of us.

 ‘Isn’t it remarkable how rails and rails of magnificent fabrics can fill you with such emotion?’ I said.

A nymphy model wearing a tiny gold silk bikini top, and Arabian pantaloons over slim hips walked past us balancing three coffees in a shaky triangle.

‘I love that look,’ Hazel said pointing rudely.  

I imagined myself wearing the pantaloons, although I altered this visualization slightly by morphing myself to a size eight, and putting an extra six inches on my legs. I have to say, they suited me.

Hazel and I were wearing heels, but cleverly had flip flops in our handbags.

‘Let’s put our flip flops on and get marching. Don’t buy a single thing until we’ve seen everything. It makes sense to visit all 1,000 stalls, to get a feel for the place.’ I told her.

She was already ripping at her sling back stilettos, flushed with radiance.

‘Absolutely,’ she agreed.

So that’s what we did, we hiked around the entire arena. It took four hours. And we felt great, we felt tired, disheveled, happy exhausted. We felt as though we’d been mountaineering. Hazel’s foundation was blotchy and her forehead was pink, she looked suntanned, she looked as though she’d been on a Fat Camp Orientering Course.  I flipped open my hand mirror. I looked exactly the same.  

‘I know what I want to buy,’ Hazel said in a rush.

‘So do I.’

We both had our eye on the same jacket. But that was fine, because it came in eleven different shades. We stood side by side and admired ourselves in the mirror. The calf length rushed silk jackets with motif silk lining were only THIRTY SEVEN POUNDS . . .  I know! I know! Bargain of the century, we couldn’t believe it. Why hadn’t we thought to go to a Fashion Exhibition before? This jacket would’ve cost four times the price in any boutique I’ve ever been in.

‘I’ll have it,’ I told the salesman handing him the jacket.

 ‘At that price we might as well buy two each,’ Hazel quite rightly said.

The salesman took his pen from behind his ear.

‘So you want four hundred each?’ he asked.

Four hundred? Was he mad? OK, it was a nice jacket, but who on earth would want two hundred identical jackets. Not even my sister who’s famed for multiple purchasing would go that far. I wondered if he’d been drinking.

I tried not to appear condescending.

‘No, two each, so four in total,’ I said over slowly.

The minimum order was 50 garments, he explained politely. Only retailers could purchase, he informed us. Every Exhibitor at the event was a wholesaler, he added. He wouldn’t sell to us. Not even for a bribe. I tried.  I would have offered him anything, I would  have offered him Hazel for that jacket.  I wanted it so badly.

My hand flew to my forehead, my shoulders slumped and my jaw dropped. Hazel was big eyed and bewildered, she looked like a bit part actress in a silent movie, ( the one tied to the railway line). She couldn’t find words. Neither could I. We had run a flip flop marathon for nothing. I felt deflated, depressed and murderous. What was the point of going to an Exhibition if you couldn’t buy anything? Why were we there? My feet were suddenly killing me.

We hit the bar, mourning the missed bargains, what else could we do.  By six o’clock Hazel had a swizzle stick behind each ear, and I had a collection of cocktail umbrellas in my cleavage. And for our own safety the barmen had stopped putting sparklers in our pitchers of margarita. So at least we finished the day on a high. Hazel and I are survivors.

 If you want a day out, where you’re plunged into a forced economy drive, then I would highly recommend it. You won’t spend a penny, simply by virtue of the fact that no one wants your money. On the plus side, the Catwalk Shows are amazing. The girls are gorgeous and the atmosphere is electric. The only downside is that you go home empty handed.

Posted in: From the Author by Molly Hopkins on August 14th, 2011
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Everyone On The Beach Was Reading The Same Book !

July 26th, 2011

Posted in: From the Author by Molly Hopkins on July 26th, 2011
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It Happened In Paris Is Everywhere !

July 21st, 2011

http://www.cbsoutdoor.co.uk/Our-Media/Visualiser/bus_mega_rear/Bus_mega_rear/?AdvertId=en_GB_uk-08_8ff8777154e474089595adc61c6039a6

Posted in: From the Author by Molly Hopkins on July 21st, 2011
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Ann Summers Reckie

July 13th, 2011

To help fine tune a couple of chapters of IT HAPPENED IN VENICE I popped into Anne Summers this morning. Not to buy anything, just to take a casual look around. It’s not my kind of shop, not at all.  I picked up a basket. Not that I thought I would need one, picking up a basket was an impulsive action. I have to say I was impressed with the lingerie. At a very fleeting casual glance I noticed that the briefs are flirty, skirted, unique and sexy. Bras are made of gorgeous shimmering satin with cleavage boosting cups. Basques are luxurious and available in a variety of rich colours, and stockings are glossy and come in a spectrum of  shades and trimmed with intricate lace. I dropped a couple of bits and pieces in my basket, and ambled over to the rather cluttered wall to wall shelves. I picked up something that looked suspiciously like a medieval thumb screw, although made of baby pink rubber.

‘Can I help you?’

I wheeled. A glamorous young girl with big dark hair and heavily made up eyes smiled at me. There was an awkward silence. I couldn’t make up my mind if she could help me or not. I didn’t want anything. She gazed at me curiously. I had the baby pink thumb screw in my hand.

‘No thank you,’ I said at last.

‘Do you know what that’s for?’ she asked me looking at the thumb screw.

Hell would freeze before I admitted that I didn’t.

‘Of course I do,’ I heard myself say. ‘In fact I have one at home,’ I felt compelled to add.

‘So do I,’ she told me, with a long slow sigh of unadulterated bliss. The look on her face was beatific; she smiled at the thumb screw reverentially. I had to have it!  I would read the instructions on the box when I got home. Whatever it does for her, I mean to find out. I chucked it in the basket.

‘Still there’s no harm in having a spare,’ I told her.

She gave a nod of agreement.

‘Can I interest you in our outfits?’ she asked.

‘Outfits?’

I knew my expression was blank, what outfits?

‘We have Fifi Maid, Cheerleader . . .’

I cut her off.

‘Eer, no thanks,’ I said politely. ‘I’ll just browse if that’s all right with you.’ I told her with a dismissive gesture.

But she didn’t go away; in fact she shadowed me, and gave me a run down on the logistics of my anatomy, like a Consultant Gynaecologist. And I have to say, most of what she told me was news to me. I’m a great believer in taking professional advice when it’s given. And all the better if  the advice is given for free. And it occurred to me that I would look ungrateful if  I didn’t buy anything. I let her pilot me around the shop, we grew quite chummy in the end. I smiled modestly as she ran my items through the till, and OK, I was surprised when my bill came to £95.00. But I’m hoping as it’s research of  sorts that its tax deductable. Surely it should be?

Posted in: From the Author by Molly Hopkins on July 13th, 2011
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RNA Fabulous Weekend

July 12th, 2011

The RNA Annual Conference was a rush to the bar, (nothing changes there then). Over 150 writers, agents and publishing professionals got together for three days of talks, seminars and workshops. But more importantly just to party, socialise and meet fellow authors both published and unpublished.  I wouldn’t miss it for anything. But I have to say, the barman might not be overly enthused to have us back. He looked exhausted, quite trance-like actually. In fact, I wondered at one point if he was in a vertical coma

Posted in: From the Author by Molly Hopkins on July 12th, 2011
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Romantic Novelists’ Association Annual Bash

July 12th, 2011

Posted in: From the Author by Molly Hopkins on July 12th, 2011
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Golf Day Dilemma !

July 12th, 2011

I’m invited on a Corporate Golf Day. But I cannot connect with a ball, not even a ball that’s stationary. Tennis is totally out of the question because that involves a whizzing ball. Golf is no better.  Have you seen the minuscule size of the head of a golf club ? I’m sure I could manage to play golf with a tennis racket though ! That’s decided me. I’m going. The champagne is free. My liver expects me to go.

Posted in: From the Author by Molly Hopkins on July 12th, 2011
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