Nicki Aitken: cycling towards a cure.

A training ride sees Aitken cycling across the Yorkshire Moores.

A training ride sees Aitken cycling across the Yorkshire Moores.

Runner, turned triathlete, Nicki Aitken, will be putting her pedalling prowess to the ultimate endurance test as she raises money for blood cancer charity; Cure Leukaemia by cycling Le Tour – One Day Ahead of the male peloton.

Aitken lost both her father and grandmother to the disease, so the challenge to complete the gruelling course, is particularly poignant for the athlete.

“Dad was my biggest fan and came to watch all my races…I wish I could tell him all what I’m doing but I know he will be looking down and would be proud of me” says Nicki.

dad-london-marathon1

Former England international footballer and blood cancer survivor, Geoff Thomas will also be joining gold medallist Aitken, tackling all 21 stages of the Tour de France together. Their journey starts just one day ahead of the men’s peloton this July.

Not only will the Aitken raise money for a cause close to her heart, but she’ll also make history as the first female to complete the 3,664 kilometre course – regarded by some as one of the world’s toughest cycle routes – in such a professional manner, with rolling road closures and pro-team support.

With a marathon time of 2 hours 54 minutes, she says it’s not the physical challenge of completing the course, but the financial challenge that is most daunting. Aitken has pledged to raise a massive £50,000 for Cure Leukaemia. “It’s time we knew more about this horrid blood disease, so research can progress and ultimately we can improve the treatment available.”

The countdown to Le Tour has very much begun with just 19 weeks left to go, and the gruelling training scheme is in full swing. A typical week consists of 6 days training, with one day off for physical and mental recovery. Despite working full time, Aitken pushes her body to the brink during early morning thresh hold training sessions and ends her day with another hard cycle session of an evening. Long distance rides are saved for the weekend when she has more time.

Kymira Training Pushing her body beyond it's limits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It’s tough but I love what I do. I am fortunate to be looked after by Nick Anderson (of Runningwithus) who ensures my training is structured and allows a training-work-life balance.” But if ever the athlete hits a rocky patch in training, she says it only takes a glance at the picture of her father to remind her of the motive behind all that hard work.

“My family and I are very close – I am very lucky to have a great support network behind me. My nieces and nephews are so excited having their Auntie ride The Le Tour De France.” Says Aitken.

Cure Leukaemia works to develop new treatments and drugs for patients suffering with blood cancers. The money raised will enable the charity to train and support research nurses  deliver more clinical trials and blood cancer treatments.

Aitken is looking for sponsors to help her raise £50,000 as part of the £1 million target for Cure Leukaemia which the group aims to raise.

To help support Aitken, Geoff Thomas and the team please donate at their justgiving page

King of Weird; Cameron J Henderson

The next big artist has been found! … in my opinion anyway (who needs a certain Mr Cowel!). Meet Cameron J. Henderson singer, producer, choreographer. Easy on the eye, he has become this month’s youtube sensation. Rocketing to fame following his compilation of Beyonce songs, there is no end to his talents. Unafraid, nor should he be, Henderson covers songs well renound for being sung by the likes of legendary artists Beyonce, Rihanna, and Bruno Mars. His composition, duets and funky dance routines complete with an original collection of props captivate his audience.

The deep soulful tone of his voice which flows through his ballads is reminiscent of artists similar to that of John Legend. ‘KingOfWeirdos’ as he’s known on Twitter, effortlessly swoons from hip-hop and rap to rich soulful ballads. But his talents don’t just end with the end of each note. Rather, through the wonderful world of Youtube, Henderson has produced and uploaded much of his work himself and even incorporates sign language as the choreography his video of  ‘Complex (hear what I don’t say)’.

Cameron J comes across as a fun, funky, cheeky chappie. His youtube channel is a testament to his diverse compilations, producing, and vocal talents. Scrolling through his many videos his arrangements cover a broad range of covers, and creatively licenced performances, including one on pop-tarts and another aptly named ‘The Capri Sun Song’ (three guesses what that’s about!) His covers of Niki Minaj’s Bees in the trap turn the original arrangement on it’s head, providing a new found appreciation for such tentative songs. But watching one of Cameron J Henderson’s videos is a dangerous idea if you’re looking to get anything useful done with your day. With each clip you’re left clicking for an encore. Scroll below, just be prepared not to be get much else done today other than singing along to his songs on repeat.

Feminism: trend or traditional principle?

The word ‘Feminism’ conjures up images of Emily Pankhurst, victorian women, and boring history lessons. But the black and white issue has burst into colour in recent years as the feminism movement  has begun to march on once more.

A new movement is gathering pace. By Cathredfern

A new movement is gathering pace. By Cathredfern

Glamour Magazine have run a feature in their monthly publication on the importance of women in society, and the injustices they face. A new BBC sit-com ‘Up the women’ is to begin this month, and now this campaign by ‘Lean In’ is hoping to raise the profile of inequality amongst the sexes.

Only 24 females head the role of executive director, out of 250 companies belonging to the Financial Times Stock Exchange, something former trade minister Lord Davies is leading an enquiry into. The enquiry seeks to ensure that by 2015, 25 per cent of directors  in the UK’s largest public companies, will be comprised of women. Lean In is an online community which fights to motivate and inspire a movement towards further emancipation of women in modern day society.

Feminism, important to men as well. by Laura Forest

Feminism, important to men as well. by Laura Forest 

A new generation of feminists have begun their drive to settle the scales of equality once more.

So where exactly is the inequality  amongst men and women making it’s presence felt? Is it just the work place? Or are women really treated equally to men in society as a whole?

Rarely, whilst out for dinner do we see men turning away the bread basket, checking the low calorie menu, or deciding between starter and main or main and desert. How often do we assume the new shelf in the living room was fitted by the man of the house? And honestly admit it we’d all be surprised if, after phoning for a plumber, they turned up in the female form.

We’re all guilty, women included, of pigeon-holing careers for each sex. The campaigns aim to change this stereotype. Promoting a thought which prevents judgements being made about a little girls for desire to be  a footballer, and boys a nursery nurse.

Lean In’s campaign asks ‘If I were not afraid what would I do?’ a question which is sweeping its way across social media sites, and soon to be raised on the professional agenda yet again.

New computer, new life

They say you don’t know what you have until its gone. Unfortunately this lesson is never more appropriate than when your laptop gives up the ghost. After two years at university, having written many essays, searched uncountable websites, stored up thousands of photos, documents, and songs the laptop died… and with it most of my life.Despite backing up my laptop once, following a friend’s disastrous experience involving a thief on a train, I forgot to do it again.

which laptop? by saikofish>

which laptop? by by saikofish

With so much material on my laptop, the fact life revolves around the internet, and with deadlines fast approaching, staying ‘laptopless’ for more than a week was leaving sweat beads dripping off my forehead. Borrowing a friend’s laptop I began to research the best laptops to buy.

Whilst doing so, it became apparent that two to three years seems the optimum life span of middle market laptops.

As a penniless student money spent on a laptop is not the sort of money you come by very often. The idea of having to annually folk out hundreds of pounds, fret over retrieving material from the hard-drive and buy back all the necessary anti-virus, and soft ware packages, the prospect of saving any money  was rapidly being sucked away.

In the process of browsing, I heard horror stories of computers breaking, lost work, and expensive repair bills. I had tried repairing the machine once before, but despite spending a third of the cost of  new laptop on replacing, and mending broken bits and pieces, the repairs failed in the long run. It appears many repairs now cost a chunk of the original price for the laptop. So the question seems to be to overhaul and buy a new one every few years or invest to repair when something goes wrong, but be prepared for it to be a short term fix.

Time change by

Time change by Guilaume

However as I delved deeper and deeper the more it seemed imperative to hone in on what it is exactly the laptop will be used for; essay writing, photo manipulation, music production, and how and when you’re going to use the device, during your commute, at a desk, in between lectures.

Lap tops sales were up in 2010 by almost half at 43.4 per cent, and with the huge array of tablets, and netbooks the market has more than enough to satisfy the needs of the fussiest of clients. The competition now it seems is on the owners; how long can we keep the machines wurring before they crash and we have to do it all over again.

Fix or twist? by jenniferjuniper images

Fix or twist? by jenniferjuniper images

St Andrews: Culture Vulture

With a history harking back to the Dark Ages, cobbled medieval street design, and a university established in the early fifteenth century, St Andrews is shrouded in history. Named after the Bishop of St Andrews it was largely recognised as the spiritual home of Scotland. Legend has it St Andrew, a Christian apostle had his bones brought to the town, sparking it’s long history entrenched in faith.

St Andrews from West Sands: Image by Jenniferjuniper

As the sea tumbles onto the flat and lengthy expanse of golden sand, its not hard to understand it’s affiliation as a spiritual soul, and pilgrimage destination.  The ancient architecture of the town creates a fantastic skyline as the browny-black buildings contrast against the cloudless blue sky (weather permitting). West Sands beach is famous for the opening sequence in the nineteen eighties film Chariots of Fire centring on the devout Christian values of a British athlete who refuses to run on a Sunday.

(Charios of Fire opening scene by serbianhuddle)

Given the spiritual heritage of this quaint town, it seems a fitting narrative to be associated with.

Modern, technology centered society would struggle here with a lack of garish large shopping malls, and without a Starbucks on every corner. This charming town is all about independent, local business. A place to silence the ring tones, and turn up sighs of relaxation. The variety of brilliant delicatessens and gourmet ice cream shops is stomach stretching. Jenetta’s Gelateria has queues stretching across the street, saying something in a town center which is less than a mile wide.

The highly acclaimed University of St Andrews ranked fourth in the UK, continues the history embedded in this Scottish region. 1413 marks the university’s founding year, and twenty thirteen sees it celebrate its six-hundredth anniversary.  Quadrangles, traditional ceremonies and the infamous red gowns epitomise St Andrews as a place of excellence to study with alumni including our very own Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Princess Katherine.

Despite such historic duties and customs to attend to as student of this establishment, student relaxation involves fires on the beach under the dark star-laden skies, toasting marshmallows next to the rolling waves. The students breathe a contemporary buzz into this peaceful town, keeping it in touch with modern habits.

Aside from history, religion, and education, St Andrews is also the international home of golf. The sport was played you guessed it, as early back as the fifteenth century, after ironically, it had been banned by King James in 1457. The small town boasts eight championship courses which have been played by world renowned golfers during the years. The Royals and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has carried a high prestige, evidenced by the society’s patronage.

Wildlife can also be found a little distance from the beating heart of the town center. Tensmuir Forest offers wildlife enthusiasts the chance to site porpoises, dolphins, wild deer, and a variety of birds. To the south of St Andrews, the Fifth coastal path stretches one hundred and seventeen miles, winding past award winning beaches offering levels of difficulty ranging from “easy to wild and demanding”.

St Andrews provides a bustling yet relaxed sea-side town in which to browse. Peruse the shops before taking a refreshing walk along the coastal paths and beaches concluding with a well-deserved ice cream. It has something for everyone, and the friendly atmosphere, has you coming back again and again. The quaint town, great locals and variety of activities makes this the perfect destination for a long weekend getaway. Despite sharing it with you, perhaps this is one to keep to yourselves. A hidden gem in the British Isles.

Honey comb  ice cream courtesy of Jenetta’s Gelateria by jenniferjuniper images

Honey comb ice cream courtesy of Jenetta’s Gelateria by jenniferjuniper images

The best coffee shops in Headingley

51 Otley RoadHeadingley

Leeds

LS6 3AB

0113 345 8441

Perhaps the most obvious choice for café und küchen is Love Rouge. A delightful boutique bakery opened by friends Lydia and Becki. Service is with a smile on elegant vintage crockery. The café is crammed with charming character. In the last week it has undergone a short renovation to expand its seating above the initial shop floor. Offering breakfasts, smoothies and luncheon, the food is both beautifully presented scrumptiously tasty. But it’s their show stopping specialty cakes which draw you in. Indulge in the sumptuous red velvet sponge, topped with lashings of vanilla frosting. If you’re a choc-a-holic savour the gooey chocolate fudge cake with chocolate frosting and real brownie pieces. Wash it all down with a steaming cup of tea poured from vintage tea pots.
Macy’s café bar and grill
6A Otley RoadHeadingleyLeedsLS6 2AA

Café by day, grill restaurant by night. Set up by Tony Hannan who’s early life was spent in Ibiza, aims to echo the alfresco dining culture using the freshest ingredients. Motown, soul and reggae music plays in the background setting off the tone of the place; relaxed, and friendly.”We try really hard to get to know our regulars, what they like and how they like it.” Their trademark lavish brownies are not to be missed. The independent ethos of Macy’s is reflected in their locally sourced ingredients. Bread from the Artisan bakery, and fresh fruit and veg from R.K Harris, both less than two minutes’ walk from Macy’s front door. For a relaxed, friendly, cool vibe this is the definitive place to go.
Mint Café33 North Lane,

Headingley,

Leeds,

WestYorkshire

LS6 3HW

Mint Cafe by jenniferjuniper Images

Mint Cafe by jenniferjuniper Images

Mint Café, located just off central Otley Road, is a welcoming open, and bright café with snug seating. It’s heritage lies in the Lebanese heritage of it’s owner. The delectable menu incorporates Falafel salad, baba ghanoush dip, and Meat Shawarma flat bread.  Even the name Mint Café harks back to its Lebanese roots – Mint being a central ingredient in many Lebanese dishes. The café feels like a hidden gem, and is obviously well regarded by surrounding ethnic communities; foreign dialects can be heard rolling around the room.
Café Lento,21a, North Lane,

Headingley,

Leeds,

West Yorkshire,

LS6 3HW

07988 660768

Cafe Lento by Briggate.com

Cafe Lento by Briggate.com

Entering Cafe Lento there is an indie vibe. Gentle rock is paying in the background. A large chunky book case stands against the wall  crammed with CDs.  Music is an important aspect of this café  often hosting  local live band nights. It is buzzing with couples, students, and families. A hand-crafted homely feel is conveyed by the baked goods, coffees, and lunches on offer, as is fair trade produce on offer. Prices range from £3.50 to £6.50 depending on your dish, but the portions are generous and satisfying. An ultimate man’s cafe; hearty food, unfussy presentation, and filled with music.
The Bowery Café54 Otley Road

Headingley

Leeds

LS6 2AL

0113 2242284

By Briggate.comThe Bowery Headingley

By Briggate.comThe Bowery Headingley

Everything served at The Bowery is organic, free from preservatives, and sourced locally. Ideal for ethical foodies. Artwork hangs from the white wash walls, floating shelves house sculptures and a pillar wall is decorated with a shabby-chique display of hand-made cards. This cafe is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the gurgling stomach. The chairs are art deco styled and sumptuous food is served on crisp white plates, understated decadence is what its all about. The menu includes croissants with organic spreads, granola with yoghurt, pies, quiches, soups, and Panini’s. Prices are reasonable ranging from £1.70 – £5.95. This café is welcoming, and family friendly.
Shakey Jakes
2  Gateway House
North Lane
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS6 3HG

Where else in the city of Leeds  will you find a place so dedicated to the art of Milkshake creation. Tucked just off Otley Road, Shaky Jakes is famous amongst the student population. The vibe is very much young, funky and fifties. Black and white tiled flooring, pink smeg fridge and the leather jackets worn by staff  scream it’s American diner theme. The only issue you’ll have here is what to choose from the extensive menu. From Simple smoothies, and frozen yoghurt to waffles and hot dogs. There are countless flavours, and toppings to truly personalise your purchase. Prices fringe on to the expensive side, but its about the experience – where else could you cram cookie dough, Reeces Cups, Toffee Sauce & Smarties topping in one glass?
Costello’s61 Otley Road

Headingley

West Yorkshire

LS6 3AB

Costello family bakery by jenniferjuniper Images

Costello family bakery by jenniferjuniper Images

Costello. Although primarily a bakery, the best pastisserie always taste better with a hot beverage in hand, especially at such cheap prices (£1.80 for any hot drink). Costello’s sits on the corner of Headingley’s main thoroughfare, a four generation led family bakery. Through it’s windows a bustling shop filled with customers can be seen, eyeing up fresh breads and pastries. You have to be fast to grab a seat but the smiling waitress, you guessed it, a member of the Costello family, provides excellent service.  Next to a mug of brewing tea, the butter melts into the warm scone and the jam sits pretty in a mini jar. Ingredients are sauced from local, and where possible, independent suppliers, a real local delicacy.

Chugging, should charity workers be paid to corner consumers into donating?

Chuggers, clip board in hand are paid charity workers. Increasingly they have begun littering the high street jostling for your money. But is the practice of cornering shoppers for custom really the way to gain donations?

The premise of charity suggests donations should be freely given, and graciously received, however the practice of jostling shoppers asking for donations is beginning to give charities an image likened to that of cold callers.

Shoppers are increasingly required to dash between stores in an attempt to avoid eye contact with the chuggers popping up like nuisance internet ads. Perusing shop windows, and strolling at leisure down the high street is becoming a thing of the past.

So are they hassling shoppers or helping charity organisations to raise their funds? I went to find out what Leeds City shoppers thought.

Jenny voxpop sequence from Jennifer Gibbon on Vimeo.