Category Archives: comedy

Fighting For Ellie: holding pads and hill sprints

So my first training update – as many of them are likely to be – is all about first time experiences.

This week so far I’ve done my first Pad-Smash session at Millennium (Monday night) and my first Hill Sprints up the very beautiful but utterly sadistic Bothal Bank (Tuesday morning).

Like seriously, my little Phoebe Fiat 500 doesn’t like dragging her arse up that thing and my little legs have substantially less horsepower than she does!

It was also very nearly my first instance of throwing up as a result of working out – something that it would appear is some sort of uber-grim rite of passage for any serious boxing trainee. So I’ll keep you posted on if and when I achieve that accolade. I might even take a picture for ya 😉

As it happened today I narrowly avoided a spewing incident – but it was a close run thing.

The thing about Hill Sprints (Yes I’m giving ‘Hill Sprints’ capital letters. You would too. If you don’t respect them, they’ll kill you) is that your head will keep telling you that you don’t need to stop long after your body has quietly come to the opposite conclusion. This is because just as the uphill sprint gets too much and everything’s screaming at you to stop, you do, returning to the bottom of the hill in what in comparison to the uphill part feels like (undoubtedly doesn’t look like but definitely feels like) a proverbial jog in the park.

So guess what. By the time the short window of time has passed that gets you back to the bottom, the uphill bit now somehow seems like a good idea again. Well not exactly a good one but certainly a not-terrible one. Do 7 of these though and if you’re anything like me your body will eventually ‘put it’s foot down’ and use the threat of impending vomiting to convince you that the uphill bit is very much not a good idea any more. Yes only 7. But we’re talking firsts, here!

On the plus side, the photo below shows Bothal, of Bothal Bank fame. So it’s not the worst of places to visit first thing in the morning, even if it is a bit rainy…


Yep, Northumberland’s quite nice.

Going back to the other first of the week – Pad-Smash at Millennium on Monday night came directly after I had (if I do say so myself) kicked a Fighting Fit circuit class in the dick. It was super-encouraging to go in there and kick its arse because the last twice that I’d been in, Fighting Fit (a high-intensity circuit class) had unquestionably kicked my arse. The only difference really being that this time I was very aware that I had only 6 weeks until Fighting For Ellie and needed to start training in earnest. So I decided I was going to smash Fighting Fit – and I did.

Now the significance of this lies in the fact that I’m relying very much for the success of this whole process on the belief that by the very virtue of deciding that I’m going to achieve something, I can achieve it. So naturally this small confirmation of the fact that deciding I’m going to do something is the key to accomplishing it, was very welcome indeed.

Directly following the 45-minute circuit class and with my “let’s do this” head firmly on, after a brief water-break as the class members changed over, we started to warm up for an hour’s class on pad-work. as I warmed up I thanked the sadistic workout Gods that it was ‘just’ pad-work and not sparring, because I was sodding knackered already.

Now you’ll notice that I put the “just” in inverted commas. This is because since having that thought on Monday night I’ve realised the error of my ways and won’t refer to the pad-work session as ‘just’ anything, ever again.

Now there are pros and cons to doing pad-work with Gav Humphries as your partner. The pros include that he’s bloody good at holding pads (which it turns out is actually harder than throwing good punches, or at least more confusing) and a good pad-holder makes for a good training session.

The cons are simple – when Gav repeatedly punches pads that you’re holding  with the tiny hands on the end of your chicken-wrists for half of an hour-long session. It eventually gets to fucking hurt.

About 50 minutes in (so 95 minutes into my gym session all together) I asked Gav if we ever got to leave the gym again or if this was it. I mean I knew there was a second wind in there somewhere and that I’d finish the class but we did get to leave at some point, right? I needed to know there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

Thankfully it turned out we were allowed to leave. After a “burnout.” This turned out to consist of what felt like endless consecutive sets of straight punches, right & left hooks and upper cuts followed by burpees and press-ups. My self-consciousness about making a racket whilst throwing everything into a punch was very quickly wiped out. There was no way in hell I was finishing that without a peep! I managed it though and even managed to keep my face almost grimace-free while Gav took his turn at what felt like 7,000,000 punches. Then did star-jumps until everyone finished their own burnouts.

Let’s just say I left more than a little bit exhausted and after talking to a friend in the carpark for 20 minutes – very cold – as the once-warm sweat went cold on the back of my t-shirt.

I have to admit that I decided against a third first tonight by dipping out of the sparring class that I’d been considering. I’ve heard the sparring class at Millennium (where you make your way around the class practising sparring with as many different partners as possible) described as a shark-tank. And after watching one or two of them I can confirm that description to be terrifyingly accurate. But I’ve got to fight – that kind of being the point of this whole thing – so after a few more pad-work sessions and some practice at home over the next couple of weeks, I’ll have an undoubtedly hilarious account of my first sparring session for you.

This feels like leaving it a little bit late to get into those classes to be honest but with the Punch-Drunk gigs running Monday-Wednesday next week, Monday and Wednesday’s classes will be a no-go 😦

Guess I’ll just have to make up for lost time!



Thanks for reading!
L xx

Punch Drunk Blyth – reigniting a community?

When some friends asked me a while ago if I wanted to go to a comedy gig at the Social Club at the bottom of my street, I thought it sounded like a good laugh (hardy-har). It was being hosted by a local lad whose sister I was good friends with at school and still keep in touch with, and I’d heard about how well he was doing.

So I asked my friend to reserve a ticket for me and I forgot about it. Because I didn’t reserve my ticket myself, I hadn’t joined the Facebook group or even looked it up online. So I didn’t know who the acts were, how the ticket sales were going, or even what time the doors opened. Seriously, I think I asked my friends about 4 times the week before while we were arranging who was getting lifts with who etc, what time I had to be there.

The point is I didn’t realise it was actually a pretty big deal.

So I went down – running late as is to be expected with me – and met my friends who were already there and wondering where I was. We found some seats and watched the place fill up. By 10 minutes before the show started, people were apologising as they squeezed past the uniform rows of chairs laid out for the event, to sit on the sofa’s that run along the walls. It’s fair to say the room was packed and there was a definite buzz in the air.

Punch Drunk - the girls

As the host took to the stage it was clear that he was nervous. This was his home crowd after all and they were clearly expecting a lot. Many of them had followed his career more closely than I had and they knew he was certainly no amateur! I was expecting Kai Humphries to be good and he didn’t disappoint, warming the room up with his unique and hilarious take on growing up in our hometown. What I wasn’t expecting – as like I said I hadn’t looked into it at all – was the calibre of acts that he had convinced to play a gig in our tiny Northumberland mining and port town on a Monday night, at the social club.

When Kai introduced the first act I recognised the name and when he came on stage I realised that I had seen him a few times on TV. It was a young scottish comedian called Daniel Sloss who is quite simply far too successful to be the same age as me (no bitterness there I swear)! He’s had 6 majorly successful runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has been on TV in the US as well as at home in the UK (but I still reckon Newsham Side Club has to be a highlight)!

The second act was Matt Reed, a comedian from Sunderland who has played major comedy clubs across the UK. Wisely he elected to break the ice very early on by assuring the room of die-hard Newcastle United supporters that he couldn’t give a flying you-know-what about football! He went on to crack everyone up and by the time Kai came back on to introduce the headliner, I was having a whale of a time (and was also on the right side of tipsy).

Somehow I still hadn’t looked at the line-up (or overheard anyone talking about it) so as fits my typically oblivious way of stumbling through life, I still had no idea at that point that the headliner was Andrew Maxwell, a massively successful and well-known Irish comedian who I’ve watched on TV countless times. Needless to say, he too was hilarious.

As well as having a great night with some old friends and seeing some great entertainment, I was blown away by the effort that had gone into a comedy night at my local social club. The work put into the whole thing by the host and the promotions team, as well as the willingness of successful comedians to get involved in bringing something new and exciting to a small community that isn’t exactly in the middle of its heyday, was an amazing thing to be a part of.

Local charity Princess Ellie’s Trust – set up by a local family who lost their 2 year old daughter to septicaemia as a result of meningitis to raise awareness as well as funds for the Meningitis Research Foundation and the Paediatric Intensive Care unit at a Newcastle hospital – raised almost £500 through ticket contributions and selling/collecting at the event. The charity will continue to be associated with the Blyth\Punch Drunk events which will be held once a month.

The initial February date on Monday 16th has sold out and there has been so much demand that the organisers have put on a second night on Tuesday 17th! I’ve roped in all of my family and 8 of us will be going to the Monday night this month. For £7 a ticket, it’s a pretty decent way to spend a Tuesday night!

Punch Drunk Extra Date

This is big news for a town of our size that has a less-than-great reputation. The buzz from the first event has everyone wanting to help make this a long-running thing and people are excited to see where it could go. As for re-igniting the community, I’d definitely say they’re making a damn good go of it!