Category Archives: journalism

Thursday 17 June

Today I signed on, stood on my cat and got rejected from Perfect Wedding.
Today is going to be a great day.

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This much I know

This much I know: Alyson Lammie
The professional ice skater, 24, in her own words

Alyson Lammie

When I was little, they used to call me Mountain Goat. I was so small that I always used to climb onto things to be as high up as possible. I’m still small. I still do it now.

I walk everywhere on my tip toes. Even when I wear trainers I walk on my tip toes. I can’t put my heels down, well I can, but it is so uncomfortable. My tendon is really short so when I put my feet down, I kinda slap my feet. I walk really weirdly.

The other girls at the ice rink didn’t like me arriving at such a late age to win all of the trophies. The average age to start for professionals my standard, is about 4 or 5. I started skating when I was eleven-years-old. I came from nowhere and won a lot of medals which is never popular with girls.

I haven’t had a Christmas at home for five years.

The last time I saw my grandma I got her really drunk. We were laughing so much. She died at New Year’s, aged 91. It was really shit because I couldn’t get back from tour, so it hit me really hard. One day she had a chest infection and the next, she was gone.

I have been to every city in France you could ever name, even the tiny towns.

I can’t wait to go away again. I am going back on tour in just under two weeks. I wish I was going now. I got an email this morning to tell me that they have changed it as we were meant to be going to Slovakia for Christmas, but now it looks like we are off to Athens.

I spend half my year in Utrecht, Holland. Utrecht is about 10 minutes out of Amsterdam. Holiday on Ice’s base is there, so we always start the tour off in Utrecht. It is one of the nicest cities I have ever been to and I would love to live there. Everything is much cleaner and prettier than Amsterdam, and homey. It is the Dutch people’s Amsterdam. There is a lot more culture there, whereas Amsterdam is just for people who want to smoke dope and sleep with people.

You don’t see chavs in Holland. Holland is exactly like the United Kingdom, but that little bit nicer.  Less windy, a bit flatter and everyone speaks English.

I popped a spot in a lift mirror on tour once. Lift mirrors are always the best. There is never ever anyone in this particular hotel, so I thought that’s a wicked light. Unfortunately, some guy from my hotel walked straight in.

I love cheese. The smellier the better. Blue cheese, Stilton, odd cheeses, you know, the weird stuff.

I didn’t ever imagine that I would be a skating coach. My mum thought it would be a good idea to have something to fall back on. At the moment I have one pupil and he is so inspiring. Before I started to coach him he was really bored of skating and about to quit, but now he loves it. Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm right? So, I go into each lesson really excited about what we are going to do and he feeds off it. He’s my little protege. Being 13 and gorgeous has nothing to do with it.

I hate Radiohead. I can’t stand them, they bore me inside out. I need excitement in my music. I need it loud.

I have nearly died four times. Columbia was so dangerous. There were gunshots in the street. Even in the supermarkets.

I am pretty indifferent to John and Edward.  I admire that they are getting successful for doing absolutely nothing but being hated.  People just hate watching them so much that they kind of like how bad they are.

I am terrified of pigeons. I have to cross the road if one ever comes directly into my path. It all started when one slapped me in the face with its wings. And now, even the sound freaks me out.  I try and prepare myself for when I see one on the ground and I know it is going to flap, but when it happens, I grab anyone that is around me and scream. In order to save embarrassment, I have learnt to get out of their way first.

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shorthand – done

Today is a momentous day for me. Now, together with being able to speak at a really high pitch if anything excites me, take unbelievably terrible photos that verge on being ghostly to making a clown mask look good, tie my shoes, drive a car, play the piano badly, sleep diagonally across a bed, I can make sense of squiggles and write down what you say, providing you speak at a pace of no more than 100wpm.

I passed my 100wpm @ shorthand! Another one to add to the ever-increasing skillset of a budding journalist. All that remains to be said, is –

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learning curve

I have been trying to write my article on whether good journalism will be the first casualty of the digital revolution, and I think I have reached the answer. No, I will be.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to post the question on the online community group, e-mint that Joanna Geary advised me to join. So, just before 10am this morning I popped this on there and set off for CJS. When I returned, I logged back on to see whether anyone had got back to me and I was surprised to find that there were quite a few replies.

I found that people disagreed with me, agreed with me, pointed me in the direction of Adam Tinworth’s blog, corrected me and posed me further questions.

As I read through all of the comments and began replying to them, I realised that it was the first time that something I had published had sparked that much conversation. I had brought up an issue and conversation had grown around it in an online community.

The humongous learning curve – roughly equated to the curvature of the earth – was about to come. If,  something I had written was to provoke that much intelligent response and conversation, why did I only take two minutes to write my thoughts? When I am in the process of writing a feature, it takes hours of research, fact checking and no less than two drafts, never mind the countless cups of coffee. Why should I have treated this any differently?

The curse of instantaneous publishing. I didn’t just fall into the massive black hole staring me in the face, but voluntarily plopped myself in there.

Silly girl.

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a photo published on Schmap!

This photo that I took of Bute Park in the Autumn has been chosen to be a part of an online guide to Cardiff. 

Not bad for a point and shoot…

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facebook vs twitter on a Butetown mission

I am not saying they can’t coexist peacfully in an online world, but I have been rather interested in the differing ways they can help me as I train to become a journalist.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been researching Butetown for a feature due in next week. My mission which I set myself, was to find a 72-year-old woman who still lives in Butetown.

This has proved to be rather difficult. Lazily, I posted a quick shout out on Twitter in the hope that someone might know someone, who in turn might know someone — and as if by magic, my work could be done — but I hit a dead end, very quickly. No replies and no voice could be heard from the Twitterverse. I was alone.

So, I retreated to some old, tried and tested methods, the telephone (I am a little bit distressed that I am now calling my new Blackberry, old, but yes, it probably is) and failed. No-one wanted to talk to me. I was starting to feel a little hurt.

But then, in a striking breakthrough and through some warranted stalking on Facebook — another thing I never thought I would say — I completed my mission, and with just under a week to spare. Success!

On Facebook, I was able to entwine myself into a group about the area and ask people directly whether they knew of anyone. People who were concerned enough about Butetown and ‘Tiger Bay’ to create a group about it, would surely be able to help.

My thanks go out to everyone who was willing to talk to a stranger on Facebook and help point me in the right direction.

I believe that’s 2-1 to Facebook. Keep up Twitter, you’re supposed to be the “new” social networking site.

I would really appreciate any other tips on how to find individuals on the world wide web and in the big wide world. Feel free to comment

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Capturing Cardiff with an OYBike

This week, journalists from all over the world have joined forces for the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen. On Monday, over 56 newspapers across the world ran identical front-page editorials calling for action. Hopes of a deal remain high in Copenhagen as the talks open, but whether delegates from the 192 countries represented can agree on how to cut green house gases, as easily as the newspapers decided on a headline, remains to be seen.

Bicycles are everywhere in Copenhagen and they have become an iconic part of the capital of Denmark; 37% of Copenhagen’s inhabitants cycle to work, and to get to and from the Climate Change Conference, world leaders and journalists alike have been encouraged to ‘go local’ and use the free bike scheme. As well as being environmentally friendly, it is considered chic.

Copenhagen, and other European cities, such as Paris and Barcelona, have had a bicycle hire scheme running for some time and at the end of September, Cardiff joined these cities with its own, OYBike.

“OYBike has been operating ‘under the radar’ in London for some years, ahead of its time in many ways. It’s robust; and tried and tested” said Carlton Reid, Editor of BikeBiz in a carefully chosen 140 character quote.

Launched on 22 September as part of the Walking and Cycling Conference, the Cardiff Smart Bike scheme, run by OYBike and sponsored by Cardiff County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government, hopes to encourage people in Cardiff to get out and about the Welsh capital in a sustainable way.

Joining Reading, Farnborough and London –  the OYBike system allows you to hire and return a bicycle via your mobile phone. There are 70 recognisable bicycles that are available from 10 pick up locations across the Cardiff and they can be dropped off at any of the battery powered rental stations after a quick jaunt.

The map below shows the 10 pick-up locations of the OYBikes in Cardiff:

Councillor Delme Bowen, Executive member for Traffic and Transportation said, “Cycling is a brilliant way to get around Cardiff. We have a number of good routes in the city, and I am confident that this scheme will prove to be very popular.”

Since its inception in September, 213 people have hired an OYBike. Far from being chic, not many people have seen, or even heard of the these two-wheeled delights.

One blustery, rainy Sunday afternoon in Cardiff, I thought it would be a good idea to try them out. I failed at the first hurdle. Being a thoroughly prepared journalist, I hadn’t done my research properly. You have to sign up online first.

Off I trudged home with wet trousers and frizzy hair to get involved. At least I managed to take a lovely photo of the clunky yellow and green bicycles, adorned with practical basket beauties so I could spot them easily the next time.

OYBikes at City Hall, Cardiff

Hire me:

  • To hire an OYBike you have to fill out a registration form online and then choose a subscription. For £18 a year, or £5 a week you can use the OYBikes and not worry about thieves stealing your ride. Apparently, they don’t appeal to the light fingered friend.
  • Head back into Cardiff and hire one out.
  • Switch on the rental unit
  • Select “Rent a bike”
  • Call the number displayed on the screen
  • Press the lock number of the bike you want to hire and cycle away.
  • Remember the first 30 minutes are FREE!
  • To return the bikes, press the “return bike” button, plug the cable back in and confirm the bike is secure.

It's not rocket science, it's a rental unit

Jenny Randerson, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member hopes the scheme is a success, “I think the scheme is great. Although the Cardiff scheme is a small one so far, there is scope to develop it into something really big. I see them as an important part of Cardiff’s designation as a sustainable travel city.”

Cardiff County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government hope that this starter scheme will encourage more people to take up cycling in the city and therefore, cut down on unnecessary journeys in the car.

Jane Lorimer, Deputy Director of Sustrans Cymru said, “Evidence from other schemes shows that schemes like this can be very useful in giving non-regular cyclists their first taste of being on two wheels, which then leads to them cycling more regularly.”

Once the dark, wet and wintry nights have passed and the scheme has been further developed to include more locations and more bikes, locals will become more aware of this sustainable method of transport.

As world leaders sit down to discuss the future of our world in Copenhagen, let us learn from the city of bicycles and make OYBikes an iconic part of Cardiff. We will soon see what else we can learn from Copenhagen.

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race” – H.G.Wells

On yer bike then..

The message is clear Cardiff: “On yer bike.”


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Related Links:

  • Join my Facebook group and share your stories and comments about the OYBike.
  • If you are new to cycling, a good place to start is by visiting The UK’s National Cyclists’ Organisation
  • Make sure you get a helmet before hiring out an OYBike, and a bigger bag to put it in.
  • Share your routes and find some new ones.
  • If you don’t fancy hiring a bike over the winter, another great way of travelling sustainably in Cardiff is car sharing. Helen Glaberson mentions this on her blog.
  • But if you still want to drive, try not to do this.

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