Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Strictly Update - Week 9

Happy Memories
Russell may have sadly been evicted from Strictly Come Dancing, but that doesn't mean he has time to kick back and relax!

Although he's busier than ever, Russell still finds time to write up his fabulous blog, and here's what he's been up to this week.....

Although I am no longer dancing the light fantastic with the rest of my friends this has been a far from quiet week.

Monday evening saw me once again on the couch with Zoe for “It Takes Two” and a chance to talk about Saturday night’s show. The Golden Shot from the big cannon and my flight through the air on what felt like a very small tea tray! Big hugs, big kisses. I love Zoe and I enjoyed every minute of our time together on the show.

Later in the week I was signing the new “Strictly Come Dancing” book in a West End bookshop and we were all amazed by the sheer numbers of people who turned out to snap up a signed copy.

More interviews, more photo-shoots and I think you’ll be amazed by some of the stuff the glossy celebrity magazines had in store for me.

I spent time with the Daily Mail who wanted to talk to me about my career and all the wonderful things I have done in the theatre over the years. It really is amazing when I pause for breath and look back over the years and think of all the wonderful people I have met, the places I have seen and the things I have been up to.

One of the wonderful things I simply have to mention is the number of children who have sent me their drawings of Flavia and I strutting our stuff. It’s so kind of everyone to send those lovely drawings in especially as they all show Flavia and me getting 10 points from all the judges! They are all on my fridge (I have a very big fridge!)

Lots of texts and calls from the gang on Saturday afternoon. Everyone is being very nice and saying how much they miss me, but “Strictly” is a competition and the standard is soaring to stratospheric levels that only the very best can hope to achieve and maintain.

So what did you think of Saturday’s show? Just as good as ever, in fact it just gets better and better doesn’t it?

I loved Alex’s cheeky Charleston and thought Holly was just mesmerising. Robbie and Ola pulled off an exciting Samba in more than one way while Chelsee delighted us all with a wonderful performance. What can I say about Harry and Jason? They are just so good, such great energy and movement, such entertainment. Just marvellous.

I thought Anita and Brendan’s cha-cha-cha was simply spectacular. Anita is such a lovely person her exit from the show will leave heart-shaped hole in the “Strictly” line up. Nevertheless, it is the nature of the show that one couple must leave the competition every week.

I am meeting all the gang again next week because we are all starting our rehearsals for the “Strictly Christmas Special” It will be fabulous to see everyone again and it will definitely be a “Must See” in everyone’s Christmas viewing schedule.

Thanks for being there

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A Coliseum Wrestle!

A Wrestling night to remember!

The Oakeley Blog has already shown its support for the brilliant Save The Coliseum campaign and it's most recent fundraising venture, the fabulous Halloween party (which was a huge success by all accounts - more on that later!); and now we want to help spread the word about their latest mega event.

The Friends of the Coliseum are going bigger, better and burlier than ever before with their Fight for the Coliseum live wrestling extravaganza.

If you think you're tough enough to handle it, the night promises to be action packed and full of boisterous fun and games. The main event is a massive Rumble, and there's also the World Championship title at stake, in what promises to be a belter of a match.

You won't want to miss appearances from top wrestling stars, as this brilliant event comes back to Porthmadog. We all remember that this is where WWE legend Mason Ryan began his career - so don't miss out on this amazing night where heroes will be made!

This Saturday 26th November at The Ganolfan is the place to be. Be there, or be very square indeed.....

Prices: Adults £7; Children £5 and Family (2 adults + 2 children) £22
Doors open 18:30; event starts 19:30
Tickets available online at www.savethecoliseum.com or from Cob Records, Porthmadog.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Strictly Update - Week 8 Show

Strictly Come Cannon!
What a show it was on Saturday! Russell, we really thought that was the best yet - what an entrance, and we agreed with Alisha!

We're so so sad to see you leaving the show, but thank you, thank you, thank you for entertaining us and lighting up our Saturday evenings. It's been a joy, and it seems you feel the same. Please pop into the Oakeley soon and teach us some moves!

Over to you to say Strictly, farewell.....

Well…. There we are - all good things must come to an end.

Saturday’s Wembley show was an exhilarating, exciting exit for me and I couldn't have asked for a better send off.

The Big Bang theory saw me flying through the air with maybe not the greatest of ease and then landing to jive with the fabulous Flavia. It was all great fun, but you know and I know that each week one couple flies through the air and lands with a bump!

Even so the audience gave us a standing ovation. Sir Bruce claimed I had “Done it again!” Alisha said “Just when you think you’ve seen it all – that was the best ever entrance on Strictly” Bruno claimed it as an “Incredible or bit of madness” and he “Loved it!”

Craig was reduced to a “Revolutionary!”

Len added that whenever people talk about the history of “Strictly” they will always say “Do you remember when Russell Grant flew out of that cannon at Wembley?”

In many ways it is sad to go; I will miss the other dancers and all the wonderful people who have helped me backstage and away from the camera’s lens in production, wardrobe and make up. In other ways it will be nice to catch my breath before the final show and spend more time at home in the mountains of Wales and of course in the Oakeley. I must also start learning the lines for my pantomime season in Milton Keynes.

We have waved goodbye to some lovely people and there will be more sad moments before the final in Blackpool but that’s what the show is all about.

Well Good Luck to all those still on the floor. They are all fabulous dancers. Each one of them deserves to win. I will miss you all, but I won’t miss those long practice sessions or those nerve racking results shows!

Finally I have to say a sort of goodbye to all you faithful followers of this blog from now on the blog will have to be once a week just after the show. It has been a joy to write for you and I know by the many messages you have sent in that you have enjoyed reading it.

I shall end where I started – All good things come to an end! See you soon my friends


Friday, 18 November 2011

Strictly Update - Week 8

Wales at Wembley!

Well, the big day has very nearly arrived! As we speak, we're sure Russell is super busy with some last minute preparations and practices!
We think it's brilliant that Russell is flying the Welsh flag for all of us, and we wish him ALL the luck in the world for Saturday evening.

We'll be watching, and cheering, as always. Have a ball Russell, or should that be, a jive?
Over to you for an update on your hectic week.......

This week I have spent all my time down in the Big City rehearsing for the Wonderful Wembley Whizz Bang! Of course every silver lining has a cloud and my cloud this week has been not being able to go home again to Wales and catch up with all the local news.

Now, I must start the blog with a big thanks to Billy and Ezra. Who are Billy and Ezra you might ask? Well they are the guys who were waiting behind the screen on last Saturday’s show with the golden glittery “Ferrero Roche” suit. That quick change was a real show stopper! Thanks guys.

As you might expect its been another busy week practising for what looks like being a real blast. Flavia and I have been getting into jive mode and the Wembley show needs a much bigger performance to fill that huge space.

The press interest has been phenomenal so there have been loads of interviews and photo shoots for Flavia and I to get along to in between our jive sessions and the most wonderful news of the week for me was that Radio 2 are putting together a special “Strictly on the Radio” show I will be presenting the show and you can hear it at 10.00pm on December 30th so reach for your diaries now and make a note.

Wednesday night Flavia and I were off to catch up with Zoe on “Strictly It Takes Two”. We always love dropping in on Zoe because we have such a good time.

I listened to Ian Waite and took on what he said about my head and kicks. I know I can sometimes have a bit of a nodding dog look when I am on the floor so I appreciate what he had to say and I aim to get a thumbs up from Ian for Saturdays show.

The real high spot of the show was the wonderful message from the fabulous Kylie. I have been a fan of hers for years and now, it seems, she is one of mine! Simply stunning and such a surprise I found myself welling up. Thanks Kylie.

Thanks too to Alex from Surrey for her lovely message of support and encouragement. It’s great to know the next generation are enjoying “Strictly” and that I am putting a lovely smile on their faces. Another very BIG thank you to James from Stockport and Madeleine from Retford who both sent me their drawings of me and Flavia. James seems to think all the judges are about to give me 10 points. Let’s hope that’s an omen for this week’s show.

More from me on Monday about how the Wembley show went.

Thanks again for all your wonderful messages and the encouragement you send. It means so much.

If you are one of those who have sent me a message I must ask for your patience. Usually I deal with them all straight away, but the BBC have sent all the messages to my home and because this week has been so busy I have had to stay in London so I won’t be able to deal with the post until I get home again hopefully next Monday.

“Thanks for being there!” and Keep Dancing!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Sunday Treats

What are you up to on Sunday?
As regulars to the Oakeley Arms will know, Sunday is one of our favourite days. And that's because Sunday is CARVERY DAY!

We've been told by many of our regular diners that the Oakeley Arms carvery is one of the best in Gwynedd. A bold statement we know, but we thought we'd let our happy, and full, customers  speak out for us!

As well as piling your plate with delicious local meats, vegetables and all the trimmings from the carvery, we also let you in on another secret and a fabulous Sunday treat. Special guest singer Mared Emlyn charms Oakeley diners every Sunday with her selection of chilled out modern and classical songs. From show tunes to folk songs to classical ballads, at the tender age of 15, Mared has mastered them all.

Mared, who's a pupil at nearby Ysgol y Gader in Dolgellau, has been singing since she was five years old. She's won numerous national Eisteddfod prizes as well as countless local recital and musical competitions. In a few weeks time, she'll be trying the Grade 7 Singing exam at the prestigious Royal College of Music. And not only does she sing, but she plays the piano, harp, guitar and drums.

She certainly is a talented young lady. So what are you waiting for? Come along on Sunday for Gwynedd's best carvery and a magical musical treat.
See you there!

As well as appearing at the Oakeley every Sunday, Gwynedd based singer Mared performs at private functions, parties and weddings. For more information, you can contact her at parry4py@btinternet.com


Monday, 14 November 2011

Strictly Update - Week 7 show

Way to Wembley!
Well, Russell has only gone and done it! He's made it to the fantastic Wembley show next Saturday, and we are thrilled to bits for him.
He totally deserved it after his excellent performance on Saturday. Over to you Russell for a glimpse into your busy week..... and good luck with the rehearsals for this week's coming extravaganza. When you've a spare minute, you'll have to pop to the Oakeley Arms to teach us some moves!

It’s been a busy time since I last had a chance on Thursday to update my blog. A busy, but an exciting and even exhilarating time.

The days have passed in a melee of press interviews, practice sessions and preparations for the big show on Saturday. I have even had a couple of photo shoots for the glossy, celebrity magazines so I hope you’ll have as much fun seeing the photos as I had during the shoot.

Saturday night was a real high. Great dancing and great scores for Harry and Aliona and don’t they deserve their place at the top of the scoreboard. They are just so fantastic on the floor the rest of us just look on in admiration.

Chelsee and Pasha’s Foxtrot was “Elegant, graceful, gorgeous and sophisticated” and it earned them a well deserved second place with only one point behind Harry and Aliona. Holly and Brendan shared third place Jason and Kristina and once again they bring that special starry something to the evening.

It fell to me to bring the show to an end with one of my favourite songs “I am what I am” from the hit show - La Cage aux Folles. Well I was what I was and I had the greatest time dancing the American Smooth with Flavia and I think I did pretty well all things considered. Did you like the quick change? I have never been in and out of my clothes quicker! A standing ovation thrilled me to bits. The audience loved it. I loved it and I hope you loved it too.

Len dubbed me “The Giant Ferrero Roche” and followed it up with a “Well Done!”

I took Alisha to a “Fun Place” and Bruno thought I “Couldn’t wait to get out of the closet”

A single “Immortal” from Craig crowned my night.

Did you like the video before the dance with multiple me’s coming out of the woods to serenade the fabulous Flavia. We had some real fun and laughs doing that with the BBC crew up in the beautiful hills of my home in Wales.

Sunday brought us together for the results show and we had to say good bye to the Big Man with the Big Heart. Audley and Natalie bowed out with their usual grace. We will all be sad to see them go, but that’s the way the show goes and sooner or later we will all go except for the wonderful winner of this year’s show.

Now I have a very busy week ahead of me. The Wembley show looks like being a true extravaganza. There are extra practice sessions built into the schedule. In between rehearsals there are more interviews and photo shoots to keep me busy. Whatever you do don’t miss Saturday’s show I can promise you it will be something special and you’ll see things you never thought you’d see and I can promise you, you’ll never see again! Intrigued? Tune in and watch!

More from me on Thursday about how the week has gone.

Thanks to everyone at The Oakeley Arms, sorry not to see you this week - The BBC film crew will miss the special ribs that are the talk of the BBC.

If you are one of those who have sent me a message I must ask for your patience. Usually I deal with them all promptly and reply straight away, but the BBC have sent all the messages to my home and because this week is so busy I have to stay in London so I won’t be able to deal with the post until I get home again next Monday.

Just one special mention – thank you to young James in Stockport for his drawing of Flavia and I getting 10 points from each of the judges and thanks to Madeleine and Violet Karczewski for her drawing and her kind words. They are both up on the fridge!

“Thanks for being there!” and Keep Dancing!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Strictly Update - Week 7

Ribs O'Clock!

Goodness me, it's been another busy week for our dancer Russell. It's the American Smooth dance this weekend, and we too are hoping that Russell and Flavia will storm the score boards and make it through to next week's show from Wembley!
As always Russell, we'll be cheering you on. Over to you for an update, while we get busy making some more stocks of our famous ribs! They are certainly proving a BIG hit........

This week has been rather different and difficult.

Poor Flavia was due to travel from London to North Wales for our usual practice sessions, but with one thing and another the whole day was lost. Delayed leaving London Flavia travelled with the BBC film crew and got tangled up in traffic so she didn’t reach North Wales until 9.30 at night.

Not only that but because we had lost so much time the film crew decided to do some interview sessions straight away so filming began about 10.00 at night at The Oakeley where the crew are staying. After such a long day Flavia was her usual cheerful, charming self but I am sure she must have been tired out. We left the crew tucking into The Oakeley’s famous ribs that are rapidly becoming a legend amongst BBC film crews!

So a whole day was lost and so was our first practice session for the American Smooth. One thing it did give me a chance to do was to reply to all the kind and thoughtful messages, letters and emails people have sent. There were so many it took me most of Monday, but it’s always good to hear from everybody.

Wednesday was another busy filming day with some unusual shots that I am sure you will really enjoy on Saturday night’s show. You won’t want to miss it.

The American Smooth belies its name; it’s really quite demanding being a blend of Foxtrot and Quickstep but Flavia has made it all go as smooth as possible and I hope you will enjoy our interpretation and our dance to one of the big show stopping songs of all time.

Thursday was an early start. Down to London for a series of press interviews, photo-shoots and preparing for TV appearances on “It Takes Too” with the lovely Zoe and “This Morning” on Friday.

For those of you who don’t know I am an avid football fan. Mostly non-league club football. I have regularly been on Radio 5 Live and Talksport. Coming up soon is the first round of the FA Cup and so I am adding my thoughts on who might be the clubs to watch on Football Focus. If you’re a footy fan like me be sure to tune in.

Then it will be heads down and dancing shoes on for some last minute practice sessions ready for Saturday’s show. I am hoping to make it through to the following week’s big show from Wembley. That will be something well worth watching. From what I hear it will be a real spectacular!

More from me on Monday about the Saturday’s show and what the next dance will be.

Thanks again for all your wonderful messages and the encouragement and generous support you send me.

“Thanks for being there!” and Keep Dancing!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Christmas Cheer at the Oakeley Arms

Haaaaaapy Christmas!!

Just joking..... we know it's a little early. But, it'll soon be here, in all it's festive glory.
Have you decided where to celebrate yet? Well, we can help you out; come and join us for some festive fun and frolics at the Oakeley Arms!
Here's a sneak preview of our brilliant Christmas Menu - you saw it here first.

We can cater for office parties, family parties, Saturday parties, buffets and carveries - there are loads of options.
Just contact us for more details, or to make bookings. We'll happily send you a copy of the menu by e-mail or  post.
Happy Christmas!!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Strictly Come Dancing News - Week 6

Pase Doble Success!
This week was another success for Russell and Flavia - they Pasa Doble-d all the way into next week's show, hurrah!
We were watching Russell, and cheering you on as always! We loved the radical interpration - what a great surprise!
Over to you for an update - hope the nail varnish remover did the trick!

So…… The Paso Doble was my passport to another week in “Strictly Come Dancing” I hope you enjoyed the comic interpretation of this dramatic dance that Flavia and I produced on Saturday night.

From Anita’s Charleston to Chelsee’s Charleston we were treated to a spectacular evening of ever rising standards and styles. As the weeks fly by I am sure you’ve noticed the work levels rising and the performances becoming more and more exacting and exhausting.

We are all hoping Artem’s painful injury will ease over the weekend. I feel sure his determination to carry on will carry him through, but we all have to be careful and it just goes to show that even the fittest of and even the most highly trained can sometimes be taken by surprise by our bodies. Nevertheless Artem danced his way through the pain barrier and carried on to produce a “Cool and sophisticated” jive that captivated us all with its energy and intensity. Holly and Artem deserved every one of their 34 points.

Topping the score board were Chelsee and Pasha with a “Pleasing, teasing” brilliant performance that our Craig proclaimed “FAB-U-LOUS” and so it was!

So far as points are concerned it wasn’t Jason’s week and it wasn’t Robbie’s either but we all know that there are some dances that bring out our best and some we find more difficult and challenging. Even so both gave us wonderful performances and both were receptive to the advice and guidance of the judges.

Flavia and I were the eighth couple to take the floor in a light hearted interpretation of the Paso Doble. Last Thursday I blogged “our version will be very, very different” and I am sure you agree now you’ve seen it. Once again Craig was reduced to a single “ASTONISHING!”. Jennifer, standing in for Len thought it “Entertaining” Alesha “Loved it”. Bruno caught the essence proclaiming: “It was a Benny Hill version of a Paso Doble – demented and fabulous.”

Sadly, each week we have to say goodbye to one of our company. This week it was my friend Lulu and her partner Brendan. We will all miss them and we will remember her stunning Halloween performance.

Back to Wales for a short rest. Tomorrow I shall be catching up with Flavia in the afternoon, that will give me a little time to write some horoscopes, catch up with the fan mail and, I believe, there are one or two newspapers who want to speak to me about Saturday’s show.

It’s a long journey each week from north Wales to London and back again, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. There really is “No place like home” and the mountain air of Snowdonia, the company of friends and neighbours and the chance to chat with people at our local shops make the trip worthwhile.

Thanks to everyone at our local Porthmadog supermarket who turned the store upside down searching for nail varnish remover! My wonderful make-up department gave me black fingernails for the Pasodoble. Rushing for the car I forgot to take it off before leaving Television Centre. Amazingly I had none at home. My god-daughter Lucy came to the rescue in the end – you can always rely on her!

More from me on Thursday about the week’s practice session - the next dance? American Smooth to I Am What I Am - rather me don't you think! Thanks again for all your wonderful messages and the encouragement and generous support you send me.

“Thanks for being there!”

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Strictly Update

Strictly Saturday

What would our Saturday evenings be now, without Russell and Flavia to cheer on, and cheer us up? We're wishing you lots of luck this week with the tricky moves Russell.
Over to you to find out what you've been up to this week.......

It’s been an interesting and inspiring week so far.

First of all, Monday morning brought a flood of emails to be dealt with and later that morning the postman arrived with a bundle of fan mail. On top of all that there are all the wonderful messages on Twitter and Facebook. I am totally bowled over by all these messages. Many of them tell me a little about people’s own history and how “Strictly” cheers them up at the weekend and how much they love to see Flavia and I take to the floor.

Talking about Flavia - we have been working on the Pasa Doble and practicing hard each and every day. Flavia really is a joy to be with. At once uplifting, motivating, inventive and with a total focus on what needs to be achieved each week.

I am finding the Pasa Doble is quite a difficult dance, it has its roots in the intense colour and drama of the Spanish bullfighting arena and is based on the type of music played at the entrance of the matadors. The bullfighter’s role is played by the man and traditionally the woman takes the part of the matador’s cape. But our version will be very, very different. I won’t say too much now but watch us on Saturdays show and I am sure you will be surprised, even amazed!

Wednesday evening saw me down at the local rugby club and if you think you will be surprised by our Pasa Doble wait to see what the rugby club get up to! As you can imagine there will be some hilarious moments.

Something a little different is in the offing! You may not know it but I am often on BBC Radio 5 Live talking about non-league football and sometimes cricket. I take a deep interest in all sorts of sport but especially non-league football and always have done, so it comes as a surprise to a lot of people to hear me talking footy. 5Live and Talksport are two stations who interview me regularly to get my thoughts on various matches and clubs. This time around I will be chatting about next weekend’s FA Cup 1st round and what surprises it might hold.

I shall be joining Zoe again on “Strictly It Takes Two”. It’s always great to see Zoe, she is such fun and the show is one of my favourites.

I am looking forward to Saturday’s show so much. It’s great to be dancing to the wonderful music and genuine joy to meet the rest of the gang. They are really wonderful people. Isn’t it a pity that at the end of each weekend we have to say goodbye to a couple. That’s “Strictly”!

More from me on Monday about how Saturday’s show went. Thanks again for all your wonderful messages and the affection and generous support you are giving me. You’ll never know how much it means to me.

“Thanks for being there!”

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Cemetery Junction

Some "grave" goins-on at the Oakeley

Ok, so Halloween has been and gone, but we're staying with the Halloween theme for this blog post as we venture into the spooky cemetery in the Oakeley Arms garden. Yes, you read right - a cemetery at the Oakeley..... a dog cemetary, of course!!

The little dog graves in the far corner of the garden often attract quite a lot of attention from visitors and passers by, but they've been part of the Oakeley for as long as we can remember.

None of our faithful hounds are here yet, thank goodness, but some of the graves are more than 100 years old!

There's a similar Dog Cemetery at nearby Portmeirion, though of course it's much larger than our small patch. It was started by Adelaide Haigh, the eccentric tenant of Aber Ia (the manor house that became Portmeirion's Hotel building).

She absolutely adored her dogs, and they all slept in luxury in one of the manor house bedrooms. Apparently she read sermons to them in the belief that they were as religious as she was. When her beloved dogs died (and she had lots of them because she took in any stray that happened to pass), she buried them in the grounds of the estate, erecting grave stones with gushing epitaphs for her loyal companions.

We've yet to spot any spooky canine sightings, but who knows what these days after halloween will bring? Come along to the Oakeley and keep your eyes peeled for some four-legged ghosts!