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INSPIRation THE MINACK THEATRE

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Carved into the granite cliffs above Porthcurno in Cornwall, the Minack Theatre is a testament to the determination of one woman. Rowena Cade was well into her thirties when she decided to build a theatre in a gully above the Minack Rock. Assisted only by her gardener and his mate, she helped to cut and move granite to the site, which was on a slope above a sheer drop into the Atlantic. Despite many setbacks, Rowena persevered with decades of work to create a successful and much-loved theatrical venue. In 1976, when she was well over eighty, Rowena gave the Minack Theatre to a Charitable Trust which maintains it today. She continued to take an active interest in the theatre’s progress until her death in 1983. For a list of future performances go to www.minack.com

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back to basics PHOTOGRAPHY

Passion for photography

Already a successful photojournalist Jane Morgan has gone back to basics to study the finer points of photography. Here’s her guide to the art of capturing the best images

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s a teenager I attended a couple of photography

correctly in the studios. that when I pressed the shutter nothing happened. I then again the converted, or addicted, would buy it anyway just to feed the ongoing passion.

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PHOTO: JANE MORGAN

pebbles on Marazion beach with St Michael’s Mount as the backdrop

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back to basics PHOTOGRAPHY

STUDIO

PHOTO: JANE MORGAN

Studio photography in a lot of ways is easier because you are in a safe, controlled environment. However, a good understanding of lighting is required because you are starting from scratch with little of no ambient light. If you are going to do studio photography it is essential that you get yourself a light meter and use it, as this will save you hours of frustration. A professional studio will equip you with backdrops and a vast array of lighting options, including key lights, back

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a willing model and you can have hours of fun experimenting with different techniques. Black and white: the crumbling buildings of Havana, Cuba [top]; studio shot of a mosquito [left]; portrait of a swan [right]


PORTRAITS

PHOTO: JANE MORGAN

Portraiture is as much about capturing the personality, mood and expression of the subject, as the more technical side of composition

LANDSCAPES

successful landscape photographs, you’ll see that is just a perfect light blue it can look fairly boring

TOP TIP

1 to 4 stops.

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PHOTO: JANE MORGAN

Often referred to as GNDs, these come in hard or

The magic hours Make the most of the magic light at sunrise and sunset,

of bed too early or stay out too late.


back to basics PHOTOGRAPHY TOP TIP Read the manual I know it’s tiresome but if you really understand how your camera works, it will give you the edge.

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PHOTO: JANE MORGAN

Primrose skill:

PHOTO: JANE MORGAN

UNDERWATER

FLORA AND FAUNA There is nothing better than spending a day wandering around the countryside

What camera?

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ADVENTURE ANDY TORBET

A man of extremes

Adventurer Andy Torbet of BBC’s Coast battled his way from a broken back to a successful career in the army before giving it all up to pursue his ambition to become a filmmaker and presenter. Be Happy finds out what it takes to follow your dreams

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ife is looking pretty good for Andy Torbet. As we meet in a pub in London’s West End, he’s just come from a meeting with a literary agent and, following a drink and a chat with me, he’s off to meet a booker of public speakers. Despite the setback of a slow-to-mend knee injury, he looks as healthy as ever and is looking forward Coast and to the shot on the Isle of Lewis [off Uist on the Outer Hebrides],’ says Andy. ‘It focuses on some local crofters known as “sea shepherds” who regularly transport their sheep to the island to graze. The weather was bad and the crofters were not the most cooperative bunch, but I had a great time. The crew said it was the hardest shoot of the series, but I thought it was okay and I ended up carrying most of the gear up the hills to help them. The crofters didn’t faze me‚ I’m a highlander like them.’ So how did this highlander, end up with a popular shows? ‘Well it is a dream job, although the money’s not as amazing as you might think‚ hopefully that will come,’ he says with a wry smile. ‘For me adventuring has been part of my life since childhood, so I guess the urge to do adventurous

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PHOTO: ANDY TORBET

Pushing on: Andy sea kayaks west of the Isle of Mull to the offshore island of Staffa to freedive Fingal’s Cave

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ADVENTURE ANDY TORBET projects has always been there.’ Andy was born in Irvine, South Scotland and raised on the northeast edge of the Cairngorm National Park between Aberdeen and Inverness. With a forester and gamekeeper father, he was born to an outdoors life and for he and his schoolmates walking through the forest to school, snaring rabbits and bushcraft generally was a way of life. A move to Aberdeen at the age of 12 did nothing to curb his enthusiasm for adventure, and he spent a lot of time with his uncle who was a passionate hillwalker and camper. Inspired by the work of David Attenborough, Jacques Cousteau and particularly the Martha Holmes Sea Trek documentary, Andy joined the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) at 12, initially as a then sports diver by the time he was 16. ‘When I joined BSAC, membership was £7 a year plus 50p a week subs. I would snorkel out and follow the divers below me. Then, when I started diving, I cobbled together some gear – it was all a bit rough and I wouldn’t recommend that anyone does the same. The worst thing was my wetsuit‚ it was woman’s jacket. I was always frozen‚ as a kid I was nails, there’s no way I could dive like that now.’ Climbing became another interest in his life. At the time a teachers’ strike meant that no extra curricular activities took place at his school, but one teacher, a man called Wilson Moir who was one of the best climbers in the country, introduced Andy and a couple of schoolmates to the sport, setting up a training climb at the back of the school. With an interest in all things adventurous, it’s no surprise that Andy was nursing an ambition to join the army, an ambition that was fuelled by his older brother, who joined the forces at 16. However, a couple of years later when Andy reached 16 and tried to join up himself, he was advised by the army ‘I knew I was going in the army, so I thought I’d study something I really enjoyed rather than

with natural history than the commercial side of zoology. I wasn’t interested in the impact of mites on crops, I wanted to learn about sharks, gorillas, tigers, eagles‚ cool stuff!’ A positive time at university, punctuated by a three-month trip working across Canada in which he got a job as a horseback trail guide even though he had never ridden before, led to a second-class honours degree. ‘I just scraped a 2.1‚ I’m pretty 44

social secretary meant they were kind to me when it came to marking the work.’ pilot in the Royal Navy, but after a few months of training decided that life as a pilot was not for him. wanted to be on the ground sleeping in a ditch. I wanted to be a commando‚ I’d rather jump out of a before transferring to the Royal Marines where he batch of recruits were to earn their green berets, Andy was involved in a life-changing accident. ‘We were on a training exercise and I, as the smallest in the group, was given the biggest guy to carry across an assault course. We fell off a platform. It was only 12 feet high but I smashed my lower vertebrae and was temporarily paralysed in the left leg. ‘At the time the situation didn’t seem that bad, but in retrospect it was a huge blow and I lost the plot a bit. I became quite aggressive because I missed the training. It wasn’t just psychological, it was chemical‚ I was missing the endorphins.’ He was left with a tough choice: give up his dream of being a soldier by being discharged on physically unsuitable for commando service but still be allowed to continue in a less physical role. Andy chose the latter, thinking that over time he would service. When I put it to him that this was a brave choice, he gives a typically direct response. ‘I struggle when I’ve nothing to work for, but can be incredibly focused once I’ve got something to People blame school, the government, their parents for things that have gone wrong in their lives‚ and this might be true‚ but it’s your life and it’s up to you to change it.’ So, Andy set about changing his by enlisting in the Royal Engineers. It took him two years to prove diving course. ‘It was six weeks of being beasted [an army term for very hard physical training] senseless‚ mostly press ups and running,’ he says. ‘But it makes you mentally a lot stronger, and the soldier next to you wants to know that the guy next his career progressed quickly, he had already served in Kosovo and Bosnia and was now a lieutenant. applied to P Company‚ the paratrooper selection course. It was the toughest four weeks of his life, stretching him to the limits. ‘It’s a nails course, it

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Going solo: deep-water soloing on the Dorset coast. This a form of climbing where no ropes are used for protection or safety. But the climber ascends above deep water which should, if landed correctly, prevent a fatal accident


PHOTO: ANDY TORBET

“I struggle when I’ve got nothing to work for, but can be incredibly focused once I’ve got something to go for”


ADVENTURE ANDY TORBET

By now 30 years old, Andy was being steered towards to more of a desk job and was about to be promoted to major, but the idea of a more sedate role didn’t appeal. ‘I was a soldier,’ he says. So, in typically decisive fashion, he left the army with an unformed plan of becoming some sort of expedition leader. After a few months of taking stock, he took some security work in Afghanistan and Pakistan to earn some much needed money, but in between spells abroad he started setting up Halls, a former marine who had been introduced to Andy through a mutual friend in Bristol. The Three Lakes challenge was to dive the three highest altitude lakes on the British mainland in the fastest time possible. They completed the challenge in 23 hours and ten minutes, raising several hundred pounds for the Help for Heroes charity. The Three Lakes challenge was to give Andy idea for an article about the challenge to Simon Rogerson, who at that time was the editor of DIVE magazine. The feature subsequently appeared in the magazine and Andy had a platform took to the straight-talking Scot, who was always prepared to go the extra mile. His ready smile, selfdeprecating humour and can-do attitude helped him get many of those early projects off the follow including the Cave of Skulls; the Monach Isles and Britain by Snorkel. activity world, Andy decided to dedicate himself up his security work and his share in an adventure travel business he had set up with a friend. He had settled in Bristol, where he had a good circle of friends many of whom worked for the BBC’s 46

PHOTO: ANDY TORBET

breaks you‚ only one in four gets through.’ Having earned his maroon beret, he was now a junior captain in the Royal Engineers, when he transferred to the 4-9 bomb disposal unit. By now he was juggling several roles acting as airborne bomb disposal commander, underwater bomb disposal commander and commander of the maritime counter terrorist unit high-risk search team‚ he’s not one to do things by halves. The rest his time in the army included short spells in the Falklands and Northern Ireland, as well as a tour of duty during the second Gulf War. He is also very proud of the work his unit did assisting the police diving team and he was involved

natural history unit, and still lives there today with his girlfriend singer songwriter and Grammy nominee Becki Biggins, but he was still looking for that big break. In April 2011 he set a goal‚ he would give himself seven months (which is how long he budgeted his savings would last) to make it as a full-time adventurer and presenter or else he would have to go back to security work. ‘Again, I had set myself a goal and I felt completely unstressed‚ I had focus. It was like when I was disposing of a bomb, I felt completely calm and Zen.’ He wrote to Steve Evanson the series producer at Coast and eventually Steve got in touch and asked to see his showreel. ‘Steve has been a massive help,’ says Andy. ‘He asked if I would do more zoological presenting initially with a view to doing more adventurous stuff in the future‚ I said “yes” of course.’ For Andy, Coast has been a joy to work on allowing him to pursue the sort of adventuring that he has enjoyed all his life. One sequence to be shown later this year has Andy leading a team on a climb to the top of the middle Needle off the Isle of Wight. It was only the second time someone has climbed this chalky rock pin of rock that juts out to sea and they took a new route. ‘It was very dodgy, the chalk is so crumbly and was just breaking off,’ says Andy with a chuckle. So what does the future hold? ‘Well, Coast is such a great platform for a presenter, it’s a massive chip of credibility, so I’ve got lots of new projects being planned, including one that I can’t speak about yet‚ it’s an exciting project, it involves an iceberg. But I’ve got lots of other ideas as well, one of my army reports described me as “a man of extremes” and I think that’s a fair point. Hopefully I can show that in some of my future work.’

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Water way: pushing gear through the water [above]; freediving to hunt for wrecks around South Devon [right]

The next series of Coast will be televised in the summer, for more information about Andy Torbet and his work go to www.andytorbet. com. You can see clips Be Happy website www. behappymagazine.co.uk


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PHOTO: DAN BOLT


MUSIC ROCK CHOIR

For those about to rock… ‘National phenomenon’, ‘life enhancing’ and ‘an anti-depressant’ are just some of the enthusiastic descriptions of the hugely successful Rock Choir, which in a few short years has swept across the UK. Be Happy editor Paul Critcher speaks to founder Caroline Redman Lusher about how she got the nation singing

Rock Choir has become hugely successful in only a few years, how do you feel about your success? I never dreamed that Rock Choir would make such an impact on so many thousands of people. I created Rock Choir in 2005 and started teaching just 70 adults, and now there are 16,000 members taking part across the UK. It hadn’t really hit home just how much happiness Rock Choir was bringing to the members until I toured around the country last year to visit each location and watch them perform. Members would come and embrace me afterwards thanking me for changing their lives. It 52

Record makers: choir members during the recording of Rock Choir Vol 1 [this photo]; Rock Choir founder Caroline Redman Lusher [below left]

was an emotional experience for me – but reinforced that it is possible to make a difference and create something unique for people to believe in. A recent study found that singing can improve physical and mental health. Do you think that’s true? I’ve had a lot of feedback from members have experienced an improvement to their health. The basic improvement is general well-being – feeling more positive and happy, and loving life. Husbands often write in to me saying that Rock Choir has changed their wives – back to the happy,


The choir that rocks The genesis of the group was in 2005, when musician and singer Caroline Redman Lusher introduced a weekly singing session at Farnborough Sixth Form College, where she was teaching music and performing arts. The sessions proved so popular that Caroline, with the help of a loan from her father, launched a Rock Choir in her home town of a resounding success, with more than 70 people attending – even though there were only seats for 40. Word spread and the group grew. Within three years there were Rock Choirs in 12 locations across Surrey. In 2009 articles in the national press led to invitations for the Rock Choir to perform on a number of TV shows including BBC Breakfast and the Paul O’Grady Show. A multi-album deal with Universal Records was soon to follow, with more than 1,000 choir members recorded on Rock Choir Vol 1, this was followed by a special performance at the Hammersmith Apollo to which every single member of the choir was invited to participate. By 2010 membership was 5,000 strong across London and the Southeast. The time had come to expand and Caroline focused her efforts on establishing choirs throughout the UK. There was more media exposure documentary The Choir that Rocks following Caroline and her team as they established a new choir in Yorkshire and prepared for their biggest concert yet at Wembley Arena. The event raised more money Refuge and Missing People. There are now 16,000 members right across the UK with rehearsals available in 160 locations. A ‘national phenomenon’? We think so.

light-hearted women they married years before… quite emotional and lovely feedback. common improvement. It’s part of being safe in the Rock Choir rehearsal where everyone is equal, and involved in an entertaining, stress-free and exciting experience that is ‘time-out’ for everyone, away from their often stressful lives. This weight loss, better relationships at home and a more productive work life. Then there’s the brain and the effect learning the songs and coordinating the dance routines has on it… something that might

Get involved you realise that you don’t need to do a Sudoku everyday – you just need to download the Rock Choir harmonies and sing and dance around your living room. step is for the members to come into the rehearsal room and before you know it everyone’s happy. It’s amazing to watch.

Rock Choir offers people of all ages the chance to sing pop, Motown and gospel – there is no audition process and members do not need to read music or have previous singing experience. Membership is £100 per term (three terms each year). There are also several branches of Teen Rock Choirs, 18. You can give Rock Choir a try at one of the free taster sessions that the choir runs, simply go on the website and choose your local branch. For more details go to www.rockchoir.com

How do you get such a professional sound from amateur singers? The Rock Choir members aspire to be

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MUSIC ROCK CHOIR is the approach the Rock Choir team takes to teaching and the way in which we communicate with the members from the front of the room. I am very particular about who joins the Rock Choir Music Team. Being able to care, nurture, inspire and lead are four key characteristics the Rock Choir Leaders must have, as well as the high standard of music skills and teaching experience. Guiding and improving the skills of the Rock Choir members and making them believe they are good enough is very important and it takes someone very special at the front of the room to gain the trust of a group of people who have never been on stage before. There seem to be more women than men in the choirs – is it a struggle to recruit men? Everyone is welcome in Rock Choir but, yes, it does tend to attract more women than men. I’ve often tried to work out why. I used to think it was my choice of songs, being a fan of Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. I started to introduce songs by Phil Collins and Robbie Williams instead,

members from across the country coming together to sing was the most awesome experience of our lives. ITV followed The Choir That Rocks really showed the sense of emotion and accomplishment that we went through together on that day. I’d certainly recommend that if you were interested in joining Rock Choir you might try and see the documentary or look on YouTube or our website for clips of Wembley just to get an idea of it all. If that didn’t work and you were still too shy to come, I’d probably phone you and say: ‘Life’s too short, join Rock Choir and sing your heart out!’

into nearby shops or back to reading their papers or drinking their coffee and not even looking around them to gauge a reaction. Everything is planned and well rehearsed, but on the day the one element of the performance we can’t control is the reaction of the public. This element of the unknown adds a double dose of adrenalin, which creates either a massive high at the end or an opportunity to fall And are you planning anymore of these surprise performances? I am planning lots of exciting events for Rock Choir members – locally and

“Everything is planned and well rehearsed, but on the day the one element of the performance we can’t control is the reaction of the public”

in men because of it. I think a lot of our female members see Rock Choir as their precious time out each week – their husbands come home early from work and look after the kids leaving them to get dressed up and head for Rock Choir followed by a drink with their new friends afterwards. I do think more men should join though, and the ones we do have love it and the attention they get from the masses of female members around them. In fact, there are a lot of single adults out potential new partner in Rock Choir – a Rock Choir romance! How would you convince a shy singer like me to give it a try? Just experiencing Rock Choir at Wembley last summer would have been enough for you to want to be part of it – the electricity in the venue and all the 54

– it would be shame to spoil the surprise, but if members of the public see anything advertised about Rock Choir locally to them across the UK on Sunday 25th March (Sport Relief Weekend) they should certainly turn up and see what’s happening.

The sudden impromptu performances that you organise where choir members are milling about in a shopping centre and then suddenly start singing make for a great spectacle? Can you tell us bit more about them These impromptu performances are

It feels like you’ve done everything – what’s left for Rock Choir? There are hundreds of experiences I will continue to plan for the members. Maybe we will release another album, maybe we

public place and plan a performance, but that performance takes place amongst a transient audience who are the public. The public are there, going about their daily business and are startled by what looks like an impromptu performance by fellow members of the public. What they don’t know is that these people are in fact Rock Choir members who start to sing and dance to the shock and astonishment of onlookers standing right next to them. Should they join in? How do they know the moves? Is this a

members coming together each week for the fun rehearsals, the social interaction that this environment creates and the power of the music that locks it all together. The big crazy moments we have achieved in the past few years are amazing of course, but it’s the roots of Rock Choir that create the life force which allows us

Rock Choir members immediately carry on behaving normally as if nothing had happened. That’s the bit I enjoy the most – they’re rehearsed to simply walk away

most important is to maintain the roots of Rock Choir, that were my original

Last question – a tough one to to sing in the choir and why you’ve chosen them? A very tough question indeed – so many songs, so many brilliant song writers. No 1: Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox. It is a beautifully crafted


Perfect harmony: Rock Choir members for a photo shoot

song with layers of different musical and rhythmic motifs that allowed me to create a complicated but hugely satisfying arrangement for Rock Choir. The it now they can perform it. I’m a big fan of Annie Lennox from her Eurythmics albums to her current albums – her

Taste the music Be Happy’s roving reporter joins a taster session trepidation as I entered the church where the Kingston branch of Rock Choir meets. I’m not sure

faces – where were the blokes?! – before choir leader Jim Hawkins introduced himself. With a by another newbie and one of the more experienced choir members. I felt a little out of place not

song writing skills. No 2 Rock Choir song is Mr Blue Sky by ELO. The epitome of a feelgood, uplifting smile-on-your-face in the morning to get you going. I only wrote the arrangement recently and the No 3 Rock Choir song is Tina Turner’s’ River Deep Mountain High. A high-energy, brilliant song. There’s of the song that I choreographed for the members that breaks down into a fast Latin American feel, building and building until it reaches the chorus again. The routine starts of gently and the wolf whistling they get from their husbands when that section starts.

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women, sounds like a dream but I was feeling seriously disconcerted. Anyway, on with the singing. Jim packed us all in close together and started off with a few simple exercises – making lots of oohs and aahs and fzz sounds. Then it was onto the song – a classic, River Deep Mountain High. First

high we should sing. When the three sections sang together, suddenly we were singing in three-way harmonies – amazing! belting out the words. There’s something liberating about singing your heart out with a group of other people – it feels great – and the wall of sound we were creating genuinely sounded good. So there I was thinking I’d nailed this, when Jim through a spanner in my works – the actions! throwing your arm out in the right direction, but it was enough to throw me off my game. I had

doubt they add something to what would otherwise be a static performance. So, by the end of the Sounds and actions were in unison – and this hitherto reluctant newbie was singing his heart out:

guys, forget nightclubs and supermarkets, all the ladies are at Rock Choir.

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MY LIFE A

Would you like to contribute to My Life? Email your positive experiences to editorial@behappymagazine.co.uk

‘I was to get up at 4.00am and meditate for nine hours each day’ bout four years ago I wasn’t very happy. I was working three jobs, as I was saving for a Masters degree, which meant that sometimes I worked more than 70 hours a week. I was living in Birmingham with my parents, while all of my friends were having a great time in London doing jobs they liked and living in their own places. My life consisted of working extremely hard, being stressed, binge drinking, and not

I’ve noticed that the more aware of reality I’ve become, the less I want to escape from it. I don’t want to go binge drinking anymore. I don’t want to distract myself from my experience so much. I gain so much pleasure from simple things – chatting to a friend, looking at the sky, going for a walk, listening to music, sitting around doing nothing – that I’m less interested in dashing around looking for the I’ve realised that peace, happiness and satisfaction are not found in

there was more to life. For reasons I can’t remember now, I bought a book on Buddhism. The ideas I read in it resonated more deeply than anything I’d ever read before, and eventually led me to the Birmingham Buddhist Centre, where I learned to meditate. Not long after, on a trip around Southeast Asia, I booked myself onto a ten-day meditation retreat at a forest temple in Thailand. When I arrived, I was issued with white robes to wear and told that I was to get up (from a tiny cell with only a

place – that true peace is the fading away of stress without having delicious fruit of meditation. You learn to stop trying to get more of what you want and less of what you don’t want, and just accept things as they are. Through meditating, I’ve got to know myself on a much deeper level and have become aware of unhelpful tendencies and habits I have. I’ve noticed how I make the same mistakes over and over again. But with awareness comes choice – if you become aware of how you habitually react in certain situations, you can catch yourself in the act and choose to do something different. Breaking out of these patterns of behaviour is a wonderfully liberating experience. My relationships have improved dramatically

“How has meditation changed my life? It has totally transformed who I am and how I engage with the world”

for nine hours each day. I was not to speak, read, write, listen to music, leave the temple, eat after midday or adorn my body with make up or jewellery. Spiritual bootcamp. Ten days later I walked out of that place a completely different person; and I haven’t looked back since. These days, I meditate most days for anything between 30 minutes to an hour. There are two main practices I do: the ‘mindfulness of breathing’ works with the mind, cultivating awareness, concentration, equanimity and calm;

life that were previously the source of much anger and pain are now actually enjoyable, as I’ve learned to put my own needs and expectations aside, respond with compassion and communicate in more positive ways. My friendships now are deeper and more Go to www.freebuddhistaudio.com for meaningful than ever before, as I have downloadable MP3 guided meditations and become less self-centred and better able to talks on meditation and Buddhism. For an communicate, being more able to articulate excellent online guide to meditation go to and express my emotions. www.wildmind.org

practice is more about working with the emotions, cultivating loving kindness and positive emotional and mental states. This practice helps to develop a kindly, positive regard for yourself and others, regardless of whether you like them or know them. How has meditation changed my life? It has totally transformed who I am and how I engage with the world. Something magic happens when you start meditating regularly. It’s like you wake up from a sleep you didn’t know you were in. As you become more aware, it’s as if the volume of life is turned up – colours become brighter, food becomes tastier, feelings become more intense, you start to notice things you never noticed before and see things with a greater clarity. You start to

preoccupations you spent so many hours obsessing over just seem to drop away. You start to engage with life on a much deeper level. 58

it’s not an easy ride. It won’t solve your problems or make them go away. But it may enable you to face implications, rather than try to bury them or turn away from them. You will almost certainly discover things about yourself that you don’t like. This can be a painful process, but once you’ve discovered them you can start to change them, start to break out of your limitations and live more fully, more freely, less driven by habitual patterns. This is a truly meaningful life – experiencing the joys and the sorrows as fully as possible. Which is, I think at Kara Moses

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INSPIRation MUHAMMAD ALI

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ften referred to as the ‘greatest boxer of all time’, Muhammad Ali celebrated his 70th birthday in January. A sporting giant, Ali was also a social activist who refused conscription in opposition to the Vietnam War. As a result he was stripped of his boxing licence and titles during what would arguably have been his best years as a sportsman. He eventually returned to the ring four years later and fought a succession of classic boxing matches, including The Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman and the Thriller in Manila against his greatest rival Joe Frazier. Ali was World Heavyweight Champion

GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) costs £99.99 and is available from www.taschen.com 08 BE HAPPY

PHOTO: NEIL LIEFER (1966)

three times. A charming and articulate man who could speak across class and racial divides, he was and is a hugely popular figure. In 1984 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but nevertheless remains an active public figure. This image, taken by Neil Liefer and featured in the book GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) published by Taschen, shows a unique view of an Ali bout, which was fought at the Houston Astrodome. A jubilant Ali raises his arms aloft to celebrate victory in his 1966 title fight against Cleveland Williams, who lies prostrate following a knockout.


Appetite In the first of his monthly columns on all things pertaining to appetite, Simon Rogerson mixes it up in Mayfair

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ayfair is one of those parts of London shoulders with day-trippers. Despite the surface wealth, they’re having trouble

keeping an eye out for deals and discounts. In the Daily Telegraph Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, for about 50 per cent of the going rate. It’s a big room with a well-staffed kitchen designed to crank out lots of little tasting plates, the restaurant’s specialty; presumably the business model falls if Gordon can’t put bums on seats and keep the kitchen assembly-line working. Our walk from Bond Street to Grosvenor Square coincided with a brief but apocalyptic downpour that had us arriving on the steps of Maze in a state of drenched disarray. I half expected the maître d to offer us a towel instead of a table, but we were ushered across the elegant, David Rockwelldesigned room to a table overlooking the bar. Weirdly, it was exactly the same table we were given when we visited two years previously. Maze was very fashionable when it opened a few years ago; executive chef Jason Atherton’s signature dish, a cleverly deconstructed BLT, was the toast (or mini croque-monsieur) of London and sister establishments opened in New York and Prague. Now, with Atherton out of the picture working on his own projects, will the concept of French fodder of the gastro-domes in this part of town, but the execution is clinical in its precision. The idea is to you get a succession of self-contained mini-meals. The menu can appear staid in places. A cheese curd with marinated beetroot was lovely – my wife’s favourite – but you can’t move for goat’s cheese and beetroot these days. It’s in every bistro, quite a lot of pubs, every recipe book… which is strange as the only place you really see goats is at petting zoos… This, however, was the best of its breed, the yin-yang of earthy curd and sharp beet expertly judged. Some of the dishes skirted the waist-land between comfort food and effete eats: Szechuantrad rib-sticker, but with the playful addition of

langoustine alongside a braised Cox apple and the inevitable micro-pile of kale. Similarly, a roasted roast in miniature, served with a tootsie little potato salad, spring onion and pancetta. The only bum note was the beef cheek, boiled with cardamom and star anise. The resulting dish was, to me, a spongy compromise rather than a fusion of cuisines. Still, this dish, or a variant thereof, has been on the menu for some time, so someone must like it. Speaking of cheek, the wine list arrived in the form of an iPad, the novelty of which failed to distract me from the mark-up. Hoping for something clever, I ordered the apple

“Strange as the only place you really see goats is at petting zoos…” and blackberry crumble, which arrived looking like something perfunctory from the freezer section. bomb of fruit at its core. There was some frozen of the other courses. After lunch, we ambled across the West End’s backstreets towards the evening’s entertainment, in Fitzrovia. We suburbanites have an unspoken distaste for central London, but if you’ve got the time the area behind Oxford Street is a seductive parade of exiled smokers, disposable shops and forbidden side-alleys. As long as you don’t have to actually rush to do anything, it’s pure entertainment. Much later, with no time to be choosy, we ducked into a darkened, ancient pub somewhere two. It arrived on our table 15 minutes later and was, on its own deep-fried terms, rather wonderful. frozen, but the batter was crisp and the pollock inside was just right. The chips were cooked from frozen, which I prefer to the clever-clogs, oversized triple-cooked jobs you get in gastro-pubs. The meal was utterly disposable, but in the context of two hungry people with an hour before the last train home, it was, in its own vinegar-drenched way, a little slice of perfection.

*

13


Comfort Food

RICE PUDDING

In the first of a series of recipes that we can’t resist, MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace serves up a delicious dessert

‘R

ice pudding is the ultimate in comfort food. To get really creamy rice pudding, the trick is to use whole milk and cream, and bake it slowly. Any dish that can be eaten with a spoon is comfort. Rice pudding is creamy hot and sweet, dive in

2 Use the butter to liberally grease the inside of 6 large ramekins on a baking tray, or a 1.4 litre ovenproof dish. Add the rice to the dish along with the sugar. 3 half over the rice, stir well, cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

SERVES 6 4 together. Remove rice from the oven, stir in for a further 1 hr–1hr 20 minutes or until Everyday 1 1). Rinse the pudding rice under cold running water and leave to drain.

and creamy, and the top is lightly golden. The pudding should wobble slightly when the dish is shaken.

The new cookbook, MasterChef dk.com

BBCGoodFoodShow. com or GlowBluewater.co.uk for more information. 15


ENTERTAINMENT JAMES BOND

Bond by numbers

50 years of 007 Classic car: Sean Connery relaxes on the bumper of his Aston Martin in the Swiss Alps

© 1964 DANJAQ, LLC AND UNITED ARTISTS CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Nobody does it better – for 50 years the James Bond films have been entertaining audiences. Here’s Be Happy’s special tribute to 007

16 BE HAPPY


CARS 001 AMC Hornet, The Man With The Golden Gun The eight-cylinder, 5.9 litre engined Hornet was used by Bond to pursue Scaramanga, jumping over a half-sunk bridge and turning through 360º in the process.

© DANJAQ, LLC AND UNITED ARTISTS CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

002 Aston Martin V8 Volante, The Living Daylights Fitted out with a full suite of gadgets, the Volante was used by Timothy Dalton’s Bond to evade police in Bratislava. It had twin heat-seeking missile launchers, a rear jet engine booster and an outrigger system for driving on ice.

Girls, girls, girls: Pierce Brosnan as Bond with Halle Berry (left) and Rosamund Pike in

DIALOGUE Snappy asides, double entendres and quick quips are the hallmark of Bond’s movie character, from ‘Shaken not stirred’ to ‘Bond, James Bond’ classic 007 lines stick in the public imagination – here’s our selection of some of the best 001 As Connery’s Bond looks at a bikini clad Ursula Andress as Honey Rider in Dr No Honey Rider: Looking for shells? Bond: No. I’m just looking. 002 In while strapped to a seat as a automated laser beam approaches his groin Bond: ‘Do you expect me to talk?’ to die!’ 003 Daniel Craig as an angered Bond subverts a classic line in Bond: Bartender: ‘Shaken or stirred?’ Bond: ‘Do I look like I give a damn?’

004 In , as M and Q look on, Bond and Holly Goodhead appear on a screen making love

003 BMW 750 iL, Tomorrow Never Dies with missiles, grenades, a wire cutter bonnet badge and smoke and tear gas jets. Brosnan’s Bond also made use of the cell phone operated controls – driving the car from the back seat. 004 BMW Z8, The World Is Not Enough The bulletproof windscreen, remote-control pads and radar guide missile produced another to-air missile to destroy a helicopter 005 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, Die Another Day A top speed of 196mph and some special adaptations, including front grille missiles, twin target-seeking shotguns, heat-seeking missiles, ejector seat and a thermal imaging system. The

Q: ‘I think he’s attempting re-entry, sir!’ making it appear invisible. 005 When Moneypenny calls Bond while he is making love to a Danish girl in ‘You always were a cunning linguist, James.’ 006 Donald Pleasance’s creepy Blofeld encounters Bond in Blofeld: ‘They told me you were assassinated in Hong Kong.’ Bond: ‘Yes, this is my second life.’ Blofeld:

007 In

an unconscious

over him Bond: Bond: ‘I must be dreaming.’

006 Lotus Esprit Z1, The Spy Who Loved Me About as over the top as you can get, the torpedoes, a cement sprayer, rear-mounted inkjet and mine launcher. If that wasn’t enough, it also converted into a submarine.

007

Aston Martin DB5 Sleek lines and a growling engine made the Aston DB5 the stuff of Bond legend. The machine guns, bulletproof shield, smoke screen and oil slick dispenser. Stunning! For more information and to view the Bond cars go to www.beaulieu.co.uk/ attractions/bond-in-motion

»

BE HAPPY 17


ENTERTAINMENT JAMES BOND DRINKS 001 Raki Bond is given ‘a bottle of raki, a pitcher of water and a cheap tumbler’ when he accompanies Darko Kerim to a gypsy encampment in From Russia With Love. 002 Moselle wine When dining with , Bond is offered a Piesporter Goldtröpfchen ‘53 Moselle. Fleming writes ‘It was nectar and ice cold’. 003 Scotch and Soda Bond joins Felix Leiter on a night out in Harlem. He has a medium dry Martini and drink too much. He then goes onto drink three scotch and sodas followed by three inches of Haig and Haig 004 Gin and tonic While in Jamaica in Dr No, Bond orders a double gin and tonic with a whole lime, which he squeezes into his glass and then supplements with ice.

006 Mouton Rothschild 55 At the end of , Mr Wint and Mr Kidd pose as waiters and deliver a bomb to Bond’s room. Connery as Bond rumbles them by identifying their ignorance about wine. As Bond says: ‘Mouton Rothschild is a claret’.

007

Vodka dry Martini What else could we choose as the ultimate Bond drink? In the book of Dr No a selfassured 007 calls for: ‘A medium Vodka dry Martini – with a slice of lemon peel. Shaken and not stirred, please. I would prefer Russian or Polish vodka.’ 18 BE HAPPY

Strike a pose: George Lazenby standing near the Houses of Parliament in London

© 1969 DANJAQ, LLC AND UNITED ARTISTS CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

005 Tattinger champagne One of Fleming’s favourite tipples, Tattinger champagne features in several of the books, although Bollinger seemed to be


GADGETS 001 Dagger shoe, From Russia With Love SPECTRE agent Rosa Klebb’s shoe with sequence at the end of Fleming’s From Russia With Love. In the book, Bond is poisoned by the blade when a captured Klebb kicks out at him. He crashes to the ground unconscious in a cliffhanging last line. It is only in the next book, Dr No, that we discover that the blade was dipped in fugu poison, which apparently comes from the sex organs of the Japanese globe doctor who had previously seen similar cases of poisoning, and consequently saved Bond’s life. 002 Ski pole gun and parachute, The Spy Who Loved Me Camping it up in a yellow ski suit, Roger Moore’s 007 evades Russian agents in a pole to shoot one of his pursuers before jumping off a mountain and releasing a Union Jack patterned parachute.

003 Oddjob’s hat, Who can forget the alternative use of Oddjob’s bowler hat in ? Oddjob uses the steel-rimmed bowler as a devastating weapon but comes unstuck at hat at him. The hat becomes embedded in some metal bars and as Oddjob retrieves it Bond touches the bars with some exposed wire, electrocuting Oddjob in the process. 004 Ski jacket, The World Is Not Enough When Bond and Elektra King start to fall through snow and ice as an avalanche begins, Pierce Brosnan’s Bond deploys a protective zorb from his ski jacket that encases and protects them from the falling snow and ice. 005 Fountain pen, Octopussy When Bond encounters Q in Delhi, he is presented with a classic Q gadget – a multifunctional fountain pen. The pen contains a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids, which Desmond’s Llewelyn’s Q demonstrates to dramatic effect. The pen is

006 Rolex Submariner, Live and Let Die

Submariner featured a rotating saw that could cut through rope and a powerful electromagnet, which Moore’s Bond used to such comedic effect when unzipping Italian agent Miss Caruso’s dress.

007

Walther PPK gun, Dr No on Bond’s service issued pistol was used in Tomorrow Never Dies, the PPK returned in Solace. In Fleming’s Dr No 007 was issued the semi-automatic Walther PPK 7.65mm at M’s insistence after Bond’s weapon of choice, the .25 Beretta, became stuck From Russia With Love. Bond wanted to continue using his Beretta, which MI6’s armourer described as a ‘Ladies gun’ because of its his old Beretta with him, but M stops him leaving Bond fuming.

»

© 1962 DANJAQ, LLC AND UNITED ARTISTS CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Poster boy: a promotional poster for Dr No

BE HAPPY 19


ENTERTAINMENT JAMES BOND ©1974 DANJAQ, LLC AND UNITED ARTISTS CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Theme tunes

Gun shot: Christopher Lee as Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun

001 From Russia With Love Performed by Matt Monro 002 Diamonds are Forever Performed by Shirley Bassey 003 Nobody Does it Better (The Spy Who Loved Me) Performed by Carly Simon 004 We Have All the Time in the World (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) Performed by Louis Armstrong 005 Another way to die (Quantum of Solace) Performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys 006 Live and Let Die Performed by Paul McCartney and Wings

007

Performed by Shirley Bassey To hear these songs and to view the opening credits go to www. and click on the video section

Movie Villains 001 (Sean Bean) Locks Bond in a train that is set to self destruct in Goldeneye 002 Lowers Bond and Solitaire into a shark tank in Live and Let Die 003 (Christopher Lee) Sets out to assassinate Bond in The Man With the Golden Gun

004 Renard (Robert Carlyle) Leaves Bond to die in a booby trapped missile silo in The World is Not Enough 005 Attempts to kick Bond with a poisoned blade attached to her shoe in From Russia With Love 006 Tortures Bond with a whip in Casino Royale

007

Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasance) Captures a Soviet spacecraft and orders the execution of Bond in You Only Live Twice

© DANJAQ, LLC AND UNITED ARTISTS CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Moore Bonds: a promotional poster for Moore’s Bond

20 BE HAPPY


© 1962 DANJAQ, LLC AND UNITED ARTISTS CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Shell suit: Sean Connery as Bond with Ursula Andress as Honey walk along the beach in Dr No

GIRLS 001 Solitaire, Live and Let Die Played by an innocent-looking Jane the virginal Solitaire eventually succumbs to the attention of Moore’s suave 007. In the book Fleming describes her as having ‘a face born to command’, although much of this strength of character seems to have been lost on screen. 002 Honey Rider, Dr No The benchmark by which all Bond girls were subsequently measured. Ursula Andress took on the role of Honey Rider, providing an iconic cinema moment when she emerged from the sea clad in a bikini with a knife at her side. The rest of her not helped by the fact that her voice was dubbed because of her strong accent. 003 Tracy di Vincenzo, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service One of two women who truly capture Bond’s heart, Tracy di Vincenzo was played Bond but was tragically killed at the climax of the movie. This was George Lazenby’s only outing as Bond and it is often seen

performance showed that a Bond girl could be three-dimensional – tabloid rumours that she and Lazenby did not get on added to the intrigue. 004 Jinx Johnson, Die Another Day Played by Halle Berry, Jinx Johnson was a US agent who matched Pierce Brosnan’s Bond blow for blow. Her jaw-dropping reprisal of Honey Rider’s entrance from the sea stole the show. Emerging in a tangerine bikini she turns to look at the sea and an appreciative Brosnan quips: 005 Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale The beautiful but cool Vesper Lynd was Bond’s only other true love. Played to great effect by Eva Green, the double agent eventually falls in love with Daniel Craig’s intense Bond. In the novel, Vesper is wracked with guilt over her betrayal of Bond and commits suicide, leaving Bond to cope with his grief by denouncing her: ‘The bitch is dead’ he reports to his superiors. 006 Miss Moneypenny, various No list of Bond girls could be complete without a mention of Miss Moneypenny. Lois Maxwell took on the role 14 times,

Designing 007

Fifty years of Bond style The Barbican marks the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise, from 1962’s Dr No to this year’s Skyfall, with a unique exhibition showcasing the inside story of the design and movie brand. In collaboration with EON Productions and with unprecedented access to their archives, Designing 007 presents the creation and development of Bond style over its 50 year history. It explores the craft behind the screen icons, the secret service and villains, tailoring and costumes, set and production design, automobiles, gadgets and special effects, graphic design and motion graphics, exotic locations, stunts and props. Highlights include gadgets and weapons made for Bond and his adversaries by special effects experts John Stears and Chris Corbould, along with artwork for sets and storyboards by several production designers. The exhibition takes place at the Barbican in London from 6 July to 5 September 2012. For more details go to www.barbican.org. uk/bond/

combining a cool sexuality with a maternal affection for Bond. Dedicated to her career and long may it continue – if one thing in Bond can ever be certain, it is that Miss Moneypenny and Bond never get it together.

007

Pussy Galore, One of the strongest female characters in the Bond series, Pussy Galore was played superbly by Honor Blackman in the movie. In the novel she runs a lesbian crime gang and is a lesbian herself. Predictably, in the movie her sexuality is downplayed and she is seduced by Bond, but nevertheless she remains a sassy 007 who in one scene she judo throws to the ground.

*

BE HAPPY 21


travel

ICE COOL

24 HOURS IN REYKJAVIK

T

to Reykjavik. Forget the recent

great time to visit, when it’s light all night were so relaxed that some locals had to sit back and watch the city go by. and minkes.

which leads down to the bars and 12 BE HAPPY


OUT OF TOWN For a real taste of Iceland’s natural wonders, The Golden Circle tour attractions: the Geysir geothermal area; the Gullfoss waterfall and the geological wonder that is Thingvellir in a day – either independently or as part of a guided tour (www. icelandtouristboard.com)

WHERE TO EAT

the harbour. We sat on huge lava boulders whilst watching seabirds swoop around

GRILLMARKADURINN: this smart grill in the centre of town specialises in local produce. The grilled salmon was served with a broccoli puree that contrasted well with a tart sauce and salmon roe.

distance vast volcanic hills jutted into the tasty and the dessert to share just some beating. was at the Blue Lagoon spa (www. bluelagoon.com Lagoon is only a few minutes drive from the airport it was an opportunity not to Fire and ice: (main photo) bathers in the Blue Lagoon spa; (below left) inside Harpa Concert Hall; (above right) boats in the harbour; (far right) dining at Kolabrautin

the harbour, with the light playing on its many hexagonal panes of glass. Inside it’s equally impressive, with huge auditoriums design pointers from Iceland’s wonderful glaciers and volcanos rather than the more understated city. hue, with life centred around the many bars and clubs. The dimmed light between 11pm and 3am gives the somewhat inebriated revellers, a slightly surreal of Tuborg. But don’t be put off, this is a fun place and not in the least intimidating – beer was only legalised in Iceland in 1989, so they’re just catching up on lost time. For all its nightlife, bars, shops and restaurants, it’s the stillness of the city that resonates most. In the early morning, we

lagoon and onwards to the airport from tourist information centres and at most hotels. The spa is fed with water from the nearby geothermal power plant and massages available and you can even have the geothermal seawater. After an hour or so in the spa we were suitably prepared for our onward journey, in fact, I don’t

over-the-top collection of a trio of sorbets, chocolate fondant, creme brûlée, mousse and a chocolate and an ice cream bombe! www. grillmarkadurinn.is KOLABRAUTIN: located best restaurants with fantastic views over the harbour to match. We chose a tasting menu which was served with complementing wines for each course. The seared salmon with cucumber and a parsley ailoi was delightfully fresh, the pan fried with grapes, nuts, root vegetables and a potato puree offered a complex

If time allows I recommend you visit the spa upon arrival and before departure. It’s

* Thanks to: Wow Air for Odinsve (www.hotelodinsve. is) for accommodation. Launched in of European cities, including London’s Stansted airport, for more information on routes and prices go to www. wowair.com

food experience in the city. www. kolabrautin.is LAVA RESTAURANT: out onto the Blue Lagoon, this restaurant is built into the lava and offers a clean-living menu that sits well with the accompanying spa. At lunch the traditional meat soup was reviving after our time in the water and we followed it up with dill cured salmon and a sushi mix – virtuous yet appetising. Watch out for the one www.bluelagoon.com BE HAPPY 13


MY LIFE I

editorial@behappymagazine.co.uk

‘Suddenly, I could save lives. I could make a difference’ have been a keen scuba diver for more than 30 years now. aim was to reach any point between Richmond-upon-Thames and Originally from France, I moved to London in 1994 and Hampton Court within 15 minutes of being paged. discovered the wonders of the British shoreline from a Working in central London meant that my RNLI shifts mainly different angle – beneath the waves. Once, as I was standing covered from evenings to early mornings. Being woken up at 4am by the slipway in Newhaven waiting to board a dive boat, I can by a screaming pager got the adrenaline pumping hard in a fraction remember hearing the sound of maroons. Suddenly, a number of a second and certainly took some getting used to. Within a of people started running to the lifeboat station and in a matter of minutes the lifeboat was under way. Ordinary people going to a boat adrift, a drunken swimmer or, sadly too often, a person about their daily lives had dropped everything to go to sea and threatening to jump off a bridge to end it all. If one person ever assist someone in trouble out there. Soon afterwards, I took a changed his or her mind about jumping after seeing the lifeboat membership to the RNLI; my meagre contribution to what I arrive on scene, then all the training and all the nights thought was a very worthy cause. and weekends on call will have been worthwhile. One day, the Lifeboat A few months after magazine announced that joining the Teddington four new stations were to crew, I also joined the be set-up on the Thames. crew of Tower Lifeboat Volunteers were sought in central London which, in Gravesend, Central with around 500 call-outs London, Chiswick and every year, is the busiest also Teddington where RNLI station in the UK. I lived. There was going Because of its location, to be a lifeboat station less Tower doesn’t operate than a mile from home. I on a pager system but is could already see myself manned 24/7 by crew on clad in yellow foul-weather 12-hour shifts. gear, standing at the bow I didn’t mind going on of a mighty RNLI ship as a ‘shout’ in the middle it slid down a ramp and of the night. None of hit the water with a big us did, whether it was splash. Of course I applied for a false alert or a life to become a crewmember. was saved. Returning Suddenly, I could save to the station after the lives – I could make a job as the day broke on difference. And let’s face it, the toys I would get to play slight mist was a serene with sounded rather fun and the uniform looked jump in the shower back kind of cool… home and head out into So in October 2001 I town for my day job. joined a group of enthusiasts who started Standing on an overcrowded tube train at or to make a donation go to www.rnli.org.uk rush hour knowing that my actions had training every evening to become the Teddington Lifeboat crew. Other than made a difference gave me an enormous sense of satisfaction. I remember one February evening being powered with a 40hp outboard engine, we had to become familiar called to help an unfortunate South American tourist who leant with the launching tractor and its trailer, and the equipment carried over the wall on the riverside to take pictures of the London Eye on board – from the radios (and radio transmissions protocol) to and slipped. She can’t have spent more than a few minutes in the water but her body temperature dropped from a normal 37ºC to a eight-mile stretch of the river also became paramount. life-threatening 32ºC. There is no doubt in my mind that we saved Just a couple of months later, on 2 January 2002, the four her life that evening. Having recently moved away from Teddington, I unfortunately could dial 999 and ask to speak to the coastguard to report an had to leave the crew there. But I still volunteer to do occasional incident on the river. The London coastguard watch manager night shift after work with Tower Lifeboat. After ten years as a would then set off our pagers. Within four minutes, the crew would muster, get changed into their gear and launch the boat. Our sense of achievement. JP Trenque

“Ordinary people had dropped everything to go to sea and assist someone in trouble out there”

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58 BE HAPPY


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MY LIFE I

Would you like to contribute to My Life? Email your positive experiences to editorial@behappymagazine.co.uk

‘Cycling is as natural for me as, well, breathing’

t’s hard to say exactly when I started riding a bike.... Like many people, I have vague memories of being pushed along with encouraging words being shouted behind me, followed by a head turn to see where my parents were, followed by a wobbly crash. Somewhere between then and now, and a few crashes, I’ve ridden a lot of miles. I remember riding in Bicester in the early 1970s on a KHE Highriser (a German version of the Raleigh Chopper), complete with plastic tassels hanging Easy Rider style from the bar grips. Grunting every time I hit even the smallest incline on my Raleigh 3-speed racer that I pedalled to school, on my paper round, and everywhere else I wanted to go around Maidenhead. Zooming around Sydney in the late 80s on a slightly too small Pinarello, but feeling oh so stylish. Cycling in the Rockies, where some of the hills seem to never end, but are worth it for the freewheeling speeds reached on the

the New York Times writer who wrote that cycling in New York was like ‘meditation at gunpoint’ to try cycling in Rome. But aside from the chaos, cycling in Rome is like cycling anywhere. I can stop anywhere I like, park where I like, and get pretty much anywhere in the centre quicker than anyone in a car. On the plus side, in less than an hour on the train I can be in Umbria, where I can cycle through hills full of olive trees and sloping vineyards, stopping for a gelato mid-afternoon of course. In Britain and many other countries cycling is once again becoming not just a leisure activity but a viable means of transport for many. Apart from a brief period in my early twenties, I’ve always cycled. As the saying goes, you never really forget. It doesn’t matter what you ride, or how far you ride it. It doesn’t matter when you last rode a bike. Try it. A quick pint at the local, no problem, go on the bike. Cycling to and from work, easy – and a morning ride through any major urban conurbation will often throw enough surprises your way that

“Okay, nowadays I ride with a helmet, so I don’t have that wind in my hair feeling I had as a teenager – mind you, nor do I have the same bushy head of hair”

villages, then to the nearest town. As I grew, so did the miles I could pedal, and the freedom that comes with distance. I’m lucky enough now to live in Rome, where cycling is best described as a combination of exhilaration and fear. I challenge 58 BE HAPPY

awake. But then there are the things that you didn’t expect, but just add to the charm: hearing birdsong as you pedal along on a spring morning; stopping at with a complete stranger; tinkering with your bike; taking a wrong turn but discovering something you never knew was there; listening to the sound of your newly cleaned chain whirring along (okay, maybe only I enjoy that one...). But now, after a lifetime of cycling, I regularly regale me with the news that PHOTO: PIETRO PESCE

of mountain biking on a Specialized Stumpjumper in the Forest of Dean in the early 90s, once crashing into a deer (I still don’t know who was more startled). Arriving at the end of Land’s End to John O’Groats, wondering if cycling some 900-plus miles was what normal people did to celebrate their 40th birthday. But even now, whatever the bike, wherever I ride, the sensation is not that different. That exhilaration I felt as a young boy, that sense of freedom, the sense of achievement, not to mention the smile it puts on my face. It’s as natural for me as, well, breathing. Okay, nowadays I ride with a helmet, so I don’t have that wind in my hair feeling I had as a teenager – mind you, nor do I have the same bushy head of hair. Riding a bike as a kid, I realised that I no longer had to stay within earshot of my parents. I was free to go further

longer that I expected – although I never really expected anything, so I’m me. I’ve never had to think about what I

new gym. At the time of writing, I’m getting over another crash. The difference between a wobbly crash at painful. This time I broke my left femur and wrist (last time it was my back). But despite these painful mishaps, I wouldn’t give it up for the world... Sean Perry

*


Be Happy Sample Issue  

Check out this sample issue featuring articles from previous issues to get a taste of Be Happy magazine

Be Happy Sample Issue  

Check out this sample issue featuring articles from previous issues to get a taste of Be Happy magazine

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