Who’s the mug? Jezza or the BBC?

mugslap400How ridiculous. The top news billing by Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 yesterday afternoon was all about whether Jezza was to be sacked or not. Relegating the German air disaster to second place.

Have we all gone completely mad?

As fond as I was of the Top Gear boys I’m not sorry their days are numbered. I can’t see anyone replacing Jezza in terms of bad behaviour and even if the BBC tries to, it won’t be the same or as good.

It’s over…

What will Jezza do instead?

Let’s not worry too much about big boy Jezza I say! Assuming this wasn’t a put up job, he will have a cunning plan B you can be sure. As I see it (and would do myself in the unlikely event of me EVER being in his situation, haha…) the BBC can’t stop him earning a living so he’s likely (and surely free?) to replicate the ‘Boys Behaving Badly’ formula elsewhere. For example, whilst the use of explosives in classrooms and kitchens will make entertaining and scientific adult TV (albeit potentially dangerous…), blowing up cars, caravans and whatever his latest ‘up yours’ wheeze, doesn’t necessarily make this a driving programme.

What the BBC will have created is the Jeremy Clarkson ‘Boy Behaving Badly’ brand and show which may or may not sit nicely on a Sunday evening on a TV screen near you.

An alternative to Top Gear?

Let’s not worry too much about the BBC either! They might even decide it’s politically correct time for a motoring programme for and about women?

I’m picturing a programme that includes amateur fast women racers strutting their stuff – there are many who can’t get the sponsorship money men do. Let them prove what they can do around a track, like Dunsfold perhaps, and then invite their male (amateur) equivalents to race them/see who wins in the end.

This could be run a la X-Factor; with regional aptitude/interview/speed trials – all filmed of course and more about the people than the cars.

By all means involve Jodie Kidd, Vicki Butler-Henderson and Nurburgring’s Sabine Schmitt in case a well known name with a motoring pedigree is needed to front this.

One thing is for sure, all the women would be MUCH better looking than Jeremy Clarkson.

We could then add in reviews of cars by and for women plus mystery visits to car showrooms & garages and so on…

Out of this will likely emerge a BIG female personality to win the hearts and souls of the TV watching public – the ones that couldn’t stand Jezza probably.

Why not give us girls a chance to do things our way, BBC, and confound those stereotypical male perceptions about our driving knowledge and ability once and for all?

FOXY Steph

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Dumbbell time for women

I was interested in this study which seems to suggest that men are more competitive than women in areas other than just motoring…

But that some women might do as well as men, if not better (!) in the long term.

It also seems as if there might be something we can do about this weighty gender difference!

And if you haven’t guessed already, we’re looking at dietary matters here – not driving differences as you might imagine.

Do men lose weight more easily than women?

After a scientific study to compare male and female participants following a variety of diets (Atkin’s, SlimFast, Rosemary Conley and Weight-Watchers) Dr Sally Norton suggests that men beat the women hands-down for initial weight loss.

After 2 months, men had lost twice as much weight as women – however, their weight loss slowed over the following months, suggesting women were more likely to stick with the new eating regime for longer.

A recent review of 49 studies on the subject found only a small difference in weight loss between the sexes – but it was in favour of the men.

Why do men lose weight more easily than women?

It’s not just one reason. In the same way that weight-gain is due to many factors, weight-loss is influenced by many different factors too and these may affect men and women differently…

+ Most men are bigger than most women to start with.

Men, on the whole, are bigger than women – and the bigger you are, the more energy you burn just by moving around or, even just by sitting on the sofa, doing nothing much more than existing! Their basal metabolic rate is greater….and as basal metabolic rate accounts for about 70% of the energy we burn every day, you can see why they may have a head-start. All they need to do is cut down their intake a bit, and their greater energy-burning capacity means quick results.

+ Men have more muscle.

Men tend to have more muscle (fat-free mass) than women – and bodies with higher muscle composition burn more energy. What’s more, as we get older our muscle mass reduces (by about 8% per decade over the age of 40) – a condition known as sarcopenia…which may help explain why our ability to lose weight is affected by our age as well as our sex.

When we think of exercising to lose weight, we often think of aerobic exercise – pounding the treadmill, brisk walking, swimming. Studies show, however, that people who engage in mixed forms of exercise, adding resistance training to aerobic, tend to lose more weight…especially around the waist where it is associated with more health problems.

It makes sense for women to challenge the men for the dumbbells and build a bit of muscle in their own right!

+ Men are less involved in food preparation

A sweeping generalisation, of course, and I know many men who do all the cooking at home (not mine, sadly!)…

Why are women less likely to diet like men?

+ It’s often the women who prepare and dish out the food to children and partners, giving her more time and opportunity to pick. Those ‘forgotten’ calories soon add up.

+ Women are at home more

Women are more likely to work at home than men and to spend less time away from home than men. We know that over 2/3rds of women are wage-earners with around half of those working part-time for a whole host of reasons including family commitments and overheads.

This puts many women closer to the biscuit barrel and therefore more susceptible to snacking during the working day.

In contrast, men who are busy at work with no easy access to the family fridge or snacking cupboard seem less able to feed hunger pangs in between meals.

+ Women are more likely to be emotional eaters.

Another generalisation, I know, but my years of sitting in clinic back up research that shows that women are more likely to comfort eat, snack out of boredom or frustration or eat for many reasons other than hunger.

Many men, in contrast, seem to just over-indulge in pints and portions!

It can be easier to address simple habits than the underlying stresses and emotions that may drive over-eating; and many diets fail to do anything other than restrict food intake.

At the end of the day – male or female – what can we all do?


We can’t fight our XX chromosomes but we can make some changes to maintain a healthy weight. Our basal metabolic rate may account for 70% of our energy expenditure but that still leaves 30% in our control… and that comes down to our activity.

1/ Keep on-the-go, taking every opportunity to move, and the energy burnt will soon clock up.

2/ Given the choice, walk don’t drive…

3/ Add in some muscle-building exercise too and you will not only look slimmer, but burn more calories even when you put your feet up afterwards!

4/ Look at your diet. Have a sustaining breakfast like porridge to last you through till lunch (or eat it for lunch if the afternoon is a low point for your energy levels).

5/ Banish the biscuit barrel in favour of healthy snacks like fruit, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

6/ Finally, look at ‘when’ and ‘why’ you are eating as well as ‘what’.  Is it guilt-eating or stress from trying to juggle a job and family… and failing to do both as well as you think you should? Take steps to address those underlying issues as well as ensuring you have covered the basics of portion control and eating real, non-processed food.

This is a guest blog by Dr Sally Norton, a UK leading health expert who founded www.vavista.com with the intention of helping people eat better to then live and work better as a direct response.

To interview Dr Sally Norton please email Teresa Dadey or phone 0750 2111 217

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Mary Portas makes over female friendly used car dealer

mary portas comingBack in October I was invited to be part of the Mary Portas Secret Shopper series because we now identify, vet and approve used car dealers, not just garages, with women in mind.

And tonight (Tuesday 17 March, Channel Four, Secret Shopper, 8pm) we’ll see what Mary makes of all this, including behind the scene events I haven’t seen but that will likely make compelling TV for women drivers and not entirely comfortable viewing for many used car dealers in the motor industry.

The first filming session I got involved in was at Silverstone when I met up with three lovely female driving instructors (more about them in my next blog) who had similarly strident views about what women want. And as you might expect, women telling men what to do doesn’t always go down well although whether that bit will be filmed, we’ll have to wait and see…

The second bit was at the car dealer itself, Gatehouse Cars in Aylesbury, where Mary had done her magic to spruce up the car sales setting. On what was a cold and grey day in an industrial looking environment…

I’ll be interested to see how this all comes together.

My main delight was to hear Mary saying what I’ve been saying for years now ie that this dealer (and many others like them in the motor industry) needs to up their customer service levels to get them right for demanding women because women expect MORE than those men who have got used to the way motoring things are in overly masculine garages and car dealers. And of course, higher standards benefit men too.

mary nails certificateAnd because, with a bit of luck, she’ll be pinning one of our FOXY Lady Approved certificates on the Gatehouse Cars wall so women can see that they have a female friendly car shopping choice if they use one of our dealers.

And that we welcome all feedback from females about their car shopping experiences afterwards. To keep them on their toes and so we are happy to promote them to members of FOXY Lady Drivers Club.

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Then along come three buses…

three-london-busesYou know the transport analogy about famine and feast in that you can wait for ages for a bus then three trundle into eyesight together…

Such seems to be the case for FOXY this month. After months of typically spasmodic PR, March is to bring us three potentially big events (as in buses…) that all look likely to land at about the same time…

Here’s what I am talking about.

1 ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Motor Industry’ Award

The first of these was my receiving the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Motor Industry’ on 12 March which was presented at the IMI Annual Dinner in London.

This matters because it has been awarded by The (industry) Professionals – the body of individuals who support the case for licensing, invest in training and collect qualifications to demonstrate their commitment for ongoing improvement. Those industry luminaries that perhaps didn’t know of my work in the past are likely to want to know more about me and what I do.

This makes me feel very proud and of course it endorses my work and is likely to get me in through doors that might previously have been closed to me. Which will be good for the industry, says she!

I received this award on account of of my work to raise awareness of measurable quality standards to do with garages, repairers and car dealers among women drivers – this means they can enjoy better services than they might on their own. We do this from within the Club’s membership of 12,000+, by identifying and promoting genuinely female friendly businesses/services and ultimately by encouraging more women to consider a motoring career.

And after years of being a lone campaigning female voice in these areas I feel encouraged, supported and revitalised…

2 The Mary Portas Secret Shopper TV series

Back in October I was invited to appear on the Mary Portas Secret Shopper Channel 4 TV series which will air on 17 March at 8pm. This features a used car dealership in Aylesbury and whilst the episode has yet to appear I understand that this business was a long way short of being female friendly at the outset.

I was then involved in a wacky car park setting at Silverstone where, together with three equally foxy female driving instructors, we told the car dealer team what we all knew women wanted when they went new car shopping. But was the business getting service levels right for us? We weren’t convinced at this stage.

Forward three weeks and we then met at the used car dealer for the big female friendly reveal… Then time to forget all about this afterwards because it has taken nearly six months to reach our TV screens.

You’ll have to see what it looked like on the night and make your own mind up. Did the dealer do enough to get the FOXY Lady Approved female friendly sign of approval – and certificate on the wall? I can’t possibly say.

3 Come In Japan…

The third (bus) came out of the blue when I was invited for an interview by The Yomiuri Shimbun. No I didn’t know it was Japan’s largest and most influential daily broadsheet newspaper either. Or that it had a circulation of more than 10 million making it the biggest newspaper in the world!

Interview mission accomplished in the FOXY Lady Approved London Morgan car showroom in Kensington last month, we now await publication on 24 March of what was a very comprehensive review of the FOXY business, Club, garages and insurance, as well as our ethos and ambition.

Who knows what further opportunities this might bring other than a clear impression to anyone interested that what we are doing is something the paper thinks their female readers will be interested in and might want a similar model made available there perhaps?

So that’s what’s happening behind the scenes for us this month. The opportunity to advance the FOXY cause in the UK for starters then who knows! Bring it on for summer I say…

FOXY Steph

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Do Mums know they are breaking EU rules?

rulesMothering Sunday is a good reason to stop and think about what busy Mums do for us in a typical day, all usually unpaid.

Then be sure to thank them for doing this, despite their breaking EU rules…

According to research revealed by Clintons, the greeting cards people, the typical number of hours that British Mums spend looking after their children would be in breach of the European Union’s Working Time Directive if this work were to be treated in the same way as paid employment.

The EU Working Time Directive 

Did you know that the Working Time Directive states that employees should work no longer than 48 hours per week. Workers are also entitled to a rest period of eleven consecutive hours in every 24-hour day, a rest break every six hours of work; an uninterrupted rest period of 24 hours in every seven day week, and paid annual leave of at least four weeks every year.  

And employees who work night shifts have extra protection and cannot be asked to work more than eight hours in a 24-hour period.

Bringing up baby


Baby experts recommend that a baby between the ages of 12-18 months should sleep for around 14 hours a day, meaning a parent is actively looking after their child for the remaining ten hours.

Across a 7-day period, this comes to a minimum of 70 hours a week, exceeding the maximum limit of a 48-hour working week specified by Article 6 (b) of the Working Time Directive by a shocking 22 hours.

On top of this 70-hour minimum, mothers are constantly “on call” to respond to emergencies, meaning their actual rest period is often as few as six hours a day. 

Of the 14 hours of sleep a baby should get each day, around three hours come in the form of daytime naps, and the remaining 11 hours come at night.

Article 3 of the Working Time Directive states that workers are entitled to a “minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24-hour period” and therefore getting up in the middle of the night if the baby starts crying would be in breach of this rule. 

Looking after a baby for seven days a week is also in breach of Article 5 which specifies that “per each seven-day period, every worker is entitled to a minimum uninterrupted rest period of 24 hours plus the 11 hours’ daily rest referred to in Article 3.”

The history of Mothers Day

Mother’s Day originated in the United States in 1908 when Anna Jarvis from West Virginia held a memorial for her mother.

During the Second World War, American soldiers brought the celebration to the UK, where it merged with the older religious festival of Mothering Sunday when people would return to their mother church for a service held on the fourth Sunday of Lent known as Laetare Sunday. 

Something for you Dads…

Dads this is a joke blog and we hope you can laugh with us here.

We all know that if it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t be in breach of these rules…

So we’ll be saying thank you (mostly) when it’s Dads Day in June.

Finally a vote of thanks to Clintons Cards who cheered us up and reminded us to go out and buy Mum a card before it’s too late.

FOXY Steph

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