Every year I have to find something new to take part in, that challenges and pushes me outside of my comfort zone and has the effect of terrifying me witless. This year was no different. Thanks to persuasive talents of one Shirley Pinder from BT, I agreed to abseil down the GPO Tower along with Martin Bayfield, Helen Skelton and a few others and a platoon of Royal Marines headed up by the Big Boss, Ed Davis. I know... I'm not sure how that happened either. (Note to self; block all future calls from Abseiling Shirley, as she is affectionately known in our house)...
Horse-riding can be accessible to anyone and everyone. In addition to the pleasure it brings, there's also a strong element of physical and mental therapy being around horses. They make you feel calmer. The Riding for the Disabled Association is a charity that's close to my heart and I try to help as much as I can. The organisation gives people with limited movement the opportunity to feel full movement on a horse. It gives children with disabilities access to therapeutic interaction with horses in a safe and supportive environment.
Thoroughbred race horses are magnificent animals, so trusting, caring and graceful. But they are also highly strung and flighty. The children at Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) need an animal which is patient, safe and with a calm temperament, so the type of horses we keep at Manor House Stables wouldn't be suitable... the great news is that Clare did eventually manage to help find the perfect horse for the young people in Carlisle, a beautiful and gentle natured horse called Nutmeg. And it's not just Nutmeg that will help the riders at RDA.
We've swapped urbane, well-briefed and articulate interlocutors like Clare Balding, John Inverdale and Michael Johnson for slack-jawed rubes who struggle to recall the number of players fielded by a team and say things like "for me, it's a game of two halves and at the end of the day the lad give 'undred and ten percent in and araand the box."
For years the BBC's voice of swimming was the unfortunately named Hamilton Bland, whose TV career ended in controversy in the late 90s. There's nothing bland about his successors, former Olympians Adrian Moorhouse and Andy Jameson, who sounded as though they'd swallowed several gallons of Red Bull as they jabbered their way through last night's pool action at London 2012.