REVIEW: The Danish Girl

True love, confusion and transgender issues in the 1920’s, what more could you want from a film?

After seeing the trailer for The Danish Girl I knew I had to see it.

Eddie Redmayne pulls off the ultimate identity overhaul as ‘the danish girl’ the gender reassigned Lili Elbe/ Einar Wegener, one of the first to undergo a sex-change via surgery.

Set almost a century ago somewhere between 1926 and 1931 in Denmark The Danish Girl is the story of Einar Wegener, a happily married succesful landscape painter, discovering who he really is and his journey towards making his dreams a reality. The very talented Alicia Vikander plays the role of Einars wife Gerda, a not so successful portrait artist, who struggles hugely with her husbands change but at the same time is one of the only people to believe he isn’t insane.

It all begins when Gerda asks her husband to fill in for her female model who can’t make it to pose for a painting she is working on. Einar dons the silk stockings, silver pumps and hold the gown against his body in the feminine pose expected of him.


Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne before Lili has been ‘created’

When the model eventually shows up, she responds to the image of Einar posing by giving him a name, Lili, soon to become his alternate persona.

Gerda later requests her husband attend an artists ball with her, something he detests, but as an compromise Gerda suggests he attend as Lili.

Obviously Lili is very hesitant to make an appearance at first, but Einar agrees.

There are then many scenes after showing the excitement between between both Gerda and Einar when searching for the perfect wig and gown for Lili, mostly in Gerda. Is the creation of this new person a distraction replacement for the child the couple have struggled to conceive?

The next scene could arguably be the best scene in the film, a Cinderella reveal moment a coming out scene.

Lili is revealed, she can feel all the eyes in the room on her, and realises that this is how beautiful women feel all the time and enjoys it. If you take nothing but this lone gender swapping lesson in body identification then I believe this is enough to come from such an important film.

A young man named Hendrick takes an interest in Lili, which she enjoys, and he kisses her but Gerda is watching. The couple return home and do not discuss the incident and when Gerda wakes the next morning Lili is gone and you can see Einar is genuinely struggling to cope.

It then occurs to Einar that he should see a doctor about his gender confusion, but he is very much mistaken in thinking they can offer him any help in becoming the woman he thinks he is.

The medical community’s response to the situation, up until very recently, was to diagnose the patients with schizophrenia or as clinically insane and treatment was to try and shock or drug the sickness out of them.

When he finally finds a doctor who understands his situation and wants to help him by suggesting a very new gender reassignment surgery. Here Gerda says her most important line in the film,


Redmayne as Lili exploring her feminine side

“I believe I am a woman.” Einar tells the surgeon, “…and I believe it too,” Gerda adds.

Throughout the film Gerda remains the positive half of what begins as and surprisingly remains as a loving couple. Alicia Vikander gives an amazing performance as the woman who’s husband no longer wants to live as a man.

After deciding to go through with the risky surgery, a childhood friend of Einars, Hans Axgil, shows up and creates a love triangle between the couple.

Einar tells Hans he has contemplated suicide but he couldn’t bring himself to kill Lili too. Many Transgender people have these exact feelings so this is a well overdue portrayal of real life situations.

The struggle is a real one at the time with prevailing homophobia (shown with a Parisian gay bashing) and the sexual politics in the 20’s. It was still an early time for women’s rights and someone trying to follow their female intuition at a time which meant ceding the social privileges that came with being a man.

After Lili’s surgery she finally has the body she has longed for. However, all isn’t well, as she had rushed into the second surgery without proper healing time, the recovery is not going well and she becomes very sick and dies. The film ends with Hans and Gerda in Denmark watching Lili’s scarf blow over the sea.

The film is beautiful in the way it tells such a tragic story of a woman trapped in someone else’s body.

However, it is nothing if not sensitive to how old fashioned viewers (voters) might respond to the issues at hand. All of the pricklier details have been removed and it keeps in with the LGBT movie tradition of tragically killing the “monster” in the end.


from Tside

Boy orphaned in fire finds new family

A LITTLE boy who suffered horrendous burns in a fire which killed his Mum has rebuilt his life – thanks to the love of his adoptive family.

Jacob Glover was just two-years-old when a devastating fire ripped through his London family home and killed his mum, Deanna Sparks. He was only saved by the brave actions of neighbours who fought the flames to pull him out.

But after suffering from 80% burns, spending months in a coma and even having to even learn to crawl again, he is now a happy eight-year-old living with the Grover family in Middlesbrough.

 Jennifer Grover, 42, and her husband Ian decided to adopt little Jacob after seeing an advert asking if anyone would be willing to take him in.

“It was heartbreaking, Jennifer remembers, “He didn’t have anyone and I knew we just had to do all we could to help him. Even though he was from London and was so far away, I knew he was the child for us.

“It hasn’t been easy. When he was younger he had terrible flashbacks of the fire and sometimes wake up screaming from his nightmares.

“But it was worth it. He is such a big part of our family and we love him to bits.”

With so many physical and mental scars, social services believed that Jacob would never find a permanent home and would spend his life in foster care.

National statistics show that children above the age of two are  harder to place with adoptive parents. Jennifer believes if they hadn’t stepped in, Jacob would have spent his life in the care system.

“The process was extremely overwhelming,” Jennifer said. “Due to Jacob’s background it took us at least a year to get the adoption legalised.

HAPPY AND SMILING: Jacob is the character within his family

HAPPY AND SMILING: Jacob is the character within his family

“From paperwork to health checks, it was extremely intrusive and there were times we feared that he may never be ours.

“We knew we had to stick in and make sure we helped him every way we could.”

Jacob will have to be treated for scar tissue – which can be seen on his arms legs and entire torso –  in until he is at least 18, but he doesn’t cover it up or hide his injuries.

While going to school was initially difficult as he struggled to be away from the security of his new family, he has grown in confidence and has made a firm network of friends.

“He’s extremely proud of being adopted and from the age of three he’s wore it as a badge,” Jennifer added.

“I would take him shopping and he would be trailing after me shouting ‘I’m adopted’ to anyone who would listen. He knows he is special and we chose and fought for him to be ours, despite all the obstacles.

“He loves being with us and for a long time particularly struggled to be away from me, his dad and his brother and sister Katie and James. There was a settling in period at school where he really struggled.”

But now, thanks to the support of Jacob’s school and the ongoing love of the entire Grover family, Jacob is now like any of his classmates – a happy and bright little boy.

FAMILY MEMORIES: Jennifer's house is full of Jacob's happy moments

FAMILY MEMORIES: Jennifer’s house is full of Jacob’s happy moments

Jennifer added: “Chandlers Ridge were fantastic at easing him into school life. They set up a nurture group where children from all walks of life get together and play. Now he’s a completely different child.

“It has been such a journey for us all, but it has been one of the most important things we will ever do.

“I’d always encourage people to adopt. Throw yourself into it, do your research and make sure you have a good network around you.

“You really have the ability to change a little person’s life forever.”

If you’re considering opening your home like Jenny and Ian, Middlesbrough Council are still keen for new adoptive parents to come forward. For more information visit

from Tside

Ronnie Moore praises gutsy Hartlepool after crucial win over Wycombe (for Bethany Usher)

HARTLEPOOL United manager Ronnie Moore was full of praise after his side produced a battling performance to overcome promotion candidates Wycombe.

Scott Fenwick converted debutant Nathan Thomas’ low cross ten minutes before half-time to give Pools a welcome three points: their first since mid-November.

Manager Moore said: “It was a tough game that, Wycombe have the best record at the back in the league.

“We got a little bit of luck at times but we defended well when we had to and it’s nice to beat a team in the top six to show how decent we can be when we do play.”

CALM BEFORE THE STORM: Both sets of players line up before the game

CALM BEFORE THE STORM: Both sets of players line up before the game

The win saw Hartlepool move six points clear of the relegation zone, although they do have the luxury of having several games in hand on those teams around them.

Moore was evidently pleased with his sides determined attitude and was full of admiration for the effort his players showed.

“In the last two games we’ve had here we’ve played and got nothing. Today we dug deep and held in there – and I’ve got nothing but praise for them.

“That’s the sort of win we love, when we grind it out. We saw it out and it was a fantastic win.”

Despite only arriving in the week, 21-year-old winger Nathan Thomas, signed from Mansfield, made a good impression on Moore as he enjoyed a promising debut.

Moore added: “You can see what’s to come from him, there is plenty to whet the appetite. His movement is good and it was a great ball across for Scott to finish it.”

Thomas had to be withdrawn early in the second half due to a calf problem, with the fans also giving him a rapturous reception as he left the field.

“He had to come off with a tight calf but you could see what he’s about with the goal. When he gets his fitness levels right we’ve got a hell of a player there, I think” said Moore.

Hartlepool remain in 21st place, but are now six points clear of the drop zone. They face a tricky trip to seventh place Accrington on Tuesday night.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.




from Tside

Youtube and Football – Do the two go hand in hand?

Football – one of the biggest sports in the world. Youtube – THE biggest video platform in the world. But over the past few years the two have combined to make some megastars.

It has come to the point where football and Youtube go hand in hand to make quite a formidable partnership.

If you haven’t heard of the F2 Freestylers, then prepare to be amazed.

These two footballers make you question how good you have to be to make it in professional football. Billy Wingrove and Jeremy Lynch are the F2, and together have took football youtube channels to new heights.

BALLERS: Jeremy Lynch and Billy Wingrove are the F2 Freestylers

BALLERS: Jeremy Lynch and Billy Wingrove are the F2 Freestylers

Their ‘tekkers’ (that’s street talk for technique) are something that only people can dream of. Billy played for Tottenham youth team before being released to play semi-pro from the age of 16 to 19. At 19-years-old Billy started freestyle football and was getting paid good money to do his skills, so took that up instead.

If your looking at the video and wondering where you may have seen Jeremy before… then cast your mind back to 2008 when George Sampson won Britain’s Got Talent. Jeremy played for Arsenal but at 15 he was released for being too raw at understanding the game ‘off the ball’. So off he went to university to do his coaching badges, but in his last year he entered BGT. He managed to get to the semi-finals.

FOOTIES GOT TALENT: Jeremy Lynch on BGT in 2008

FOOTIES GOT TALENT: Jeremy Lynch on BGT in 2008

Together they (thankfully!) met together to make the F2 three years ago and over the past year alone have went from having 600,000 subscribers, to today having 2.6million. Yes that’s a staggering 2M more than one year ago!

It’s no doubt that they are the best at what they do and have landed regular stints on popular Sky 1 show Soccer AM and creating their own clothing range, Rascal.

But success of football on Youtube has spurred on Premier League teams. They too are now branching out into Youtube in order to give their fans behind the scenes content at their favourite clubs. Clubs such as Chelsea and Man City have nearly a million subscribers combined. It gives that extra element that allows people to watch pre-match tunnel cams, training sessions and content that comes exclusively to the Youtube channel.

So why do they do this? Is it just to give their fans what they deserve to see or is it to make even more money? The main reason for them creating a Youtube channel is to give them even better recognition around the globe in places such as China, Australia or USA. Probably so that when pre-season arrives, if they decide to go abroad on tour, people will come see them!

Obviously there’s trend here and joining it is new to the Youtube game, footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa.

THE BEAST: Footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa

THE BEAST: Footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa

Nicknamed ‘The Beast‘ it is clear to see why he has bossed defenders around for years but at 33-years-old, he almost at the average age (35) for a footballer to retire. He’s looking towards his next career move no doubt, and looking to follow in the footsteps of one of his mates, KSIOlajideBT. It’s no doubt that KSI has been a Youtube success story to behold, having a staggering 11.7M subscribers to his name, plus a rap album, clothing range, film and book. You haven’t heard of him? KEEP UP!

You could argue that KSI ‘made’ Akinfenwa what he is today, having used him in many of his FIFA videos.

But Akinfenwa, who has been recognised recently by the Guinness World Record for being the strongest man in four FIFA video games, has launched his own Youtube channel. It features him doing a variety of things such as football challenges to his very own ‘beast in the kitchen’ segment.

It’s clear to see that the gap between football and Youtube isn’t so short, with many footballers and clubs joining the platform to give something extra to their fans. But hey, let them do it! It gives us footy fans something extra to watch mid-week!

from Tside

Tside’s Sound of 2016.

The North East is buzzing with local talent. Here are Tside’s choices of who you should listen out for in 2016.

   1. Plaza.

The 4-piece Hartlepool alt-rock band have been making waves in the local music scene for the past year. They have supported Jaws at Newcastle’s Think Tank and have just recently sold out one of their headline tour nights. With fantastic songs and incredible stage presence, they’re the ones to see live this year.

You can download Plaza’s EP here:

Plaza: Headed for big things.

Plaza: Headed for big things.

    2. Figmennt.

Billingham’s very own shoegaze rockers have been busy building their fan base throughout 2015. Now they’re starting the New Year with new music and it looks very promising. If their last single “She” is anything to go by, you know that this next release is going to be great. If you haven’t checked them out already then now is the time to.

Download their single for free here:


Shoegaze: Billingham born Figmennt.

  1. Lord Swans.

Matthew Bulmer, AKA Lord Swans, has had a very successful 2015. With air time on the radio and BBC Introducing picking up on him he’s been very busy. Lord Swans are an indie pop band with big hooks and catchy lyrics. If you’re looking for something fresh in 2016 then look no further.

Check him out here:

lord swans

Matthew Bulmer: The man behind the swan.

  1. The Smokin’ Coconuts.

You may never have heard of the genre World Music, yet it’s one of the most infectious genres out there to date. Led by front man Jon O’Neill “The Smokin’ Coconuts” are one of the North Easts most interesting bands. They blend jazz, indie, salsa and rock all together to produce these crazily big songs. Look out for their madness in 2016.

They have four EPs up for grabs right now:

smoking coconuts

The Smoking Coconuts: musical madness at its best.

  1. Kingsley Chapman & The Murder.

After the split of Teesside’s “The Chapman Family” Kingsley Chapman didn’t give up on his musical dreams. Now, along with “The Murder”, Kingsley has spent time at London’s Abbey Road studios and played a range of gigs across the country. He’s a man with passion and this is reflected in his music. 2016 will no doubt bring big things for this band.

Find them here:


Man on a mission: Kingsley Chapman leaving Abbey Road Studios.

  1. Ali’s Love Child.

Releasing their debut EP early last year, the band seemed to go quiet in the music scene. However now they’re back for 2016 with new music and a some serious gigs lined up. Ali’s Love Child are a band that hold the remnants of 70’s rock & roll. They’re a definite listen for those who like big guitars and catchy rock songs.

Check their EP out here:

Alis LC

Ali’s Love Child’s first EP artwork.

  1. Goy Boy McIlroy

Releasing their latest EP “Duell” at the back end of 2015, Goy Boy McIlroy set themselves up for a big 2016. The Darlington band are full of energy and enthusiasm. This is shown through their live shows and on stage presence. If you haven’t gave Goy Boy a chance then you should, because they’re going to be big in the local music scene this year.

Check out “Duell” here:

Smiles all round: Goy Boy McIlroy have a promising 2016.

Smiles all round: Goy Boy McIlroy have a promising 2016.

8. Mouses.

Billingham Lo-Fi duo Mouses have had a very eventful 2015. After they played a headline slot at Newcastle’s infamous “Cluny” they were instantly recognised as one of Teesside’s best bands. They toured around the UK and even extended their fan base to Germany. At the moment anything is possible for Mouses.

Find all of Mouses music here:

Mouses: hard work pays off.

Mouses: hard work pays off.

  1. Cattle & Cane.

After their debut album smashed into the charts, Cattle & Cane’s world began to change right in front of them. Landing themselves a massive tour of the UK and watching their fan base grow in size, surely 2016 will be the year everyone is talking about them. You better get listening…

You can buy their debut album here:

Success: Cattle & Cane after one of their many gigs.

Success: Cattle & Cane after one of their many gigs.

  1. Grolar Bear.

This indie rock 4-piece may only be young, but they carry the sound of an experienced band. Releasing a small amount of music in 2015, Grolar Bear are focused on gigging and developing their own live performance whilst slowly building an army of supporters to join in the local music scene. 2016 has a lot of potential for this band.

Check them out here:

Grolar Bear putting on a show with their increasingly popular bear head.

Creating an image: Grolar Bear working hard to establish a name for themselves.


from Tside

Middlesbrough’s adoption scene set for an “exciting” change

Adoption is a word we often throw around in the media. Brought out only when the Jolie-Pitts children take centre stage in the paparazzi world or Madonna decides to open her arms to love another child again.

However the reality in Middlesbrough is a little different. In 2012 the Evening Gazette published an article stating that looked after Teesside children had a waiting time of 552 days. That is over 500 days that they were waiting for a fresh start with a new family.

Fast forward to 2015. The national statistics estimated that 61% of looked after children were in care due to abuse and neglect and there had been a 5% increase in the number of children in care since 2014.

Lynn Woodhouse, Family Placement Team Manager at Middlesbrough Council said that the majority of children that can’t find a family are those who have suffered from harsh backgrounds early in life, leaving them with medical issues.

“Adoption is still an issue in Middlesbrough and this is due to the high level of deprivation in the area,” she said.

MIDDLESBROUGH'S CHANGING SCENE: Lynn discusses Middlesbrough's adoption future

MIDDLESBROUGH’S CHANGING SCENE: Lynn discusses Middlesbrough’s adoption future

“Many people have a tendency to think that adoption is about normal, sweet children but the vast majority will have suffered in some way.

“Research has shown that the impact of the child in the womb by the mother not looking after herself properly can actually have an effect on the child’s upbringing.”

In 2015 David Cameron  said he wanted to speed up the adoption process thus helping the children to be placed in a loving home quicker.

Alongside the other changes, the Prime Minister introduced in the Adoption Support Fund which helps offer therapeutic services for both adopters and children.

However, Lynn stressed the backstory behind Middlesbrough’s low adoption figures even suggesting that the areas statistics are quite high compared to other towns.

When the Prime Minister brought in his new agenda to speed up the adoption process he also introduced timescales for which children need to be adopted. Agencies up and down the country are then marked on a scorecard which reflects how successful their working is.

Lynn said: “Many adoption organisations just obey the timescale and choose the easier children over the difficult ones to improve their scorecard.”

“I will not compromise a child’s future due to time frames. Every child has a chance. That’s why there’s more to the figures than you see.”

A person who wasn’t put off by the waiting times was Jennifer Grover, 42, who adopted her son Jacob six years ago.

ALWAYS SMILING: Jacob wears his adoption with pride

ALWAYS SMILING: Jacob wears his adoption with prideA person who wasn’t put off by the waiting times was Jennifer Grover, 42, who adopted her son, Jacob six years ago.

Due to Jacob’s difficult upbringing Jennifer found that her waiting time reached a year and she had to go through various stages in order to bring him home.

“The adoption process used to be a thing that was segregated to particular age groups but now they’ve loosened the rules it seems a lot easier.” she said.

“However the process is still extremely in depth for the difficult children. It takes months of paperwork and court dates to finally bring them home, which is frustrating as while this is going on your in contact with the child and spending time with them.”

Although the people willing to adopt is steadily increasing, it leaves gaps in the age range. Babies, sibling groups and teenagers are hard to place meaning that they often get left in the system until they’re old enough to leave.

It seems like the Prime Minister still has his work cut out in order to make the process perfect but Lynn is confident that big changes are happening.

“Adoption is a really exciting place to be at the minute.” she said.

“We used to say that adoption was similar to a ‘twin set of pearls’ meaning that it was confined to older women who adopted babies in order to do their bit by giving them  a better life.”

“Now with David Cameron’s support we’re seeing a whole new era into our adoption services.”
For more information visit

from Tside

Wheelchair Football – take a seat for the new beautiful game.

Participating in sport is something many people take for granted. It can become a normal part of people’s lives, often without thought.

Throughout the years, sport for those with disabilities has grown, testament to this is the improved coverage of Paralympic events.  But it’s still felt that sport often eludes those with more severe disabilities.

One sport that has changed this issue is wheelchair football.

Wheelchair football is a fast growing competitive sport, the beauty of it being that even those with the most severe disabilities are able to play.

As the name suggests the sport is played in wheelchairs. However, not just you’re average run of the mill wheelchairs. These are specialised powered sports chairs capable of a high-speed, limited to 6.2mph by the governing bodies in the sport.

Each chair’s speed is strictly monitored before competition to ensure safety and no unfair advantage is given.

Each chair is front mounted with what is typically called a bumper, which is used to hit the ball.

Many of the players have never had the chance to play a fast-paced competitive team sport in their life.

So it’s not difficult to see why it’s becoming evermore popular with the sporting community.


Wheelchair football is becoming popular.

Cath McNicol, from Marton, has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and plays for Middlesbrough Powerchair Football Club (MPFC).

She said: “I feel like I belong, it’s a sport which is fast-paced and team based that I can play independently.”

“I believe there are not enough sports within the Paralympics that cater for people with more severe physical disabilities.

“It’s also a crowd pleaser. Everyone loves a bit of football.”

Like  other sports the coaches play a very important role in bringing a team together.

But unlike it’s able-bodied counterpart wheelchair football has both male and female coaches.

Age is also less of an important factor.

One of the youngest coaches is 14-year-old Millie Bean from Marton.

Middlesbrough Powerchair Football clubs first team coach Carolyn Bean said: “It makes me feel warm inside and happy that  people  with a disability  are able to play football and be part of a winning team.”

Supporters are a big part of any sport, wheelchair football is no different.

Matthew Stevens from Kent, the father of a player, said: “My son plays and watching him play makes me feel immensely proud most of the time and a little frustrated on occasions, I feel privileged to be a small part of the sport.”

For more information on wheelchair football visit The Wheelchair football association web page.

from Tside

Nĭ hăo Middlesbrough


INTERNATIONAL student Cheng Gu has come to Middlesbrough to complete her studies here at Teesside University, where she will spend three semesters completing  her journalism degree.

It’s a huge step for anyone moving from home to university, as it’s often a brand new area with brand new people.

The leap from busy Shanghai to chilly Middlesbrough was a massive 17 hour flight for Cheng – that’s almost 6,000 miles away from home.

Tside reporter Rebecca Connolly finds out more.




from Tside

Celebrity trainer behind Kate Hudson’s body talks pilates, Zen and Hollywood … and why you should ditch the bread

Nicole Stuart-At work

I first met Nicole on Instagram when she gave me a virtual telling off about including ciabatta bread in my so-called healthy diet. So the first thing I learnt is that Nicole Stuart tells it how it is.

“You have to lose the bread,” she told me. Ok duly noted, no more carbs for me.

Based in West Hollywood, California, Nicole, 40, is a Pilates instructor, celebrity trainer and former dancer whose motto is:

“With exercise or any pursuit, consistency over a long period of time equals results.”

She practices what she preaches and with her toned physique and glamorous, groomed-to-perfection look, she could give any 20 year old a good run for their money. With glossy brown hair, fresh dewy skin and piercing blue eyes, Nicole has a glow about her which reveals her inner passion for exercise and wellbeing.

For Nicole fitness goes far beyond just a job. She told me that it is exercise that makes her feel happy in life and she seems to take vast amount of pleasure in spreading this happiness to others.

Nicole counts Kate Hudson, Goldie Hawn, Courtney Love and Anna Faris as her clients, to name just a few. If Kate Hudson’s physique and Goldie Hawn’s ageless beauty is anything to go by then this is a woman who seriously knows how to get results. Nicole has worked with Kate for 15 years and now counts her as one of her closest friends. Kate also credits Nicole with inspiring her throughout the many years they have known each other.

A new mum to five-month-old son Keaton, Nicole tells me about her own childhood. She has had anything but an ordinary life. “I had a crazy childhood, very dysfunctional. My mom and dad divorced when I was two. I have no brothers or sisters,” she recalls.

Nicole Stuart and Baby Keaton

The actress and Pilates trainer was born and raised in Las Vegas and then moved to New York aged 18 to study acting at the Stella Adler studio after being accepted into UCSB School of dance.

“I always want to perform but was incredibly shy. As a child I wanted to dance, sing and act.”

She achieved this goal, as I imagine she achieves all of the tasks she sets for herself. Her sheer drive is evident in everything she does.

Nicole spent 14 years as a dancer and studied many forms of dance including jazz, modern jazz, ballet and tap. She now incorporates dance into her Pilates technique for a holistic approach to exercise.

Ironically for someone with such an impressive clientele and successful life, Nicole says her biggest career moment is yet to come and seems almost unaware of her own achievements.

“I’m still waiting for that to happen. I wrote a memoir about my childhood called Vegas Girl. I’m hoping to get that published. Soon,” she says.

What is hard not to love about her is that despite her celebrity friendship circle, successful business and happy family life, she is friendly and down to earth and wonderfully ordinary. (As ordinary as you can get in Hollywood). She tells me that her favourite food is the simple and surprisingly not carb-free steak frites, which is somewhat reassuring.

As I daydreamed about getting on a plane to have Nicole transform me into Kate Hudson (anything’s possible right?), Nicole talked me through an average day in her life.

“I’m going to give you an example of today. I woke up at six, spent time with my baby, got dressed and drove to my first client in Bel Air. I had two more clients and then walked around the golf course with one client. That’s about three-miles. Then I went to spin class. I got the groceries, then home to see my son. I went back to the gym to train three more people. Then I home cooked dinner and went to rehearsal for an acting workshop I’m taking next week until 10pm or 11pm tonight. Go to bed do it all over again tomorrow. Try to keep my sanity and chant,” she says.

With such a hectic schedule it isn’t hard to see why Nicole takes her spiritual beliefs so seriously. Her social media accounts are filled with inspiring and inspirational quotes. Spirituality is a huge part of her life and she told me about the best advice she has ever been given: “It’s from my Buddhist practice and it’s about having faith always. I struggle very much with that.”

There is something about Nicole, a certain vulnerability that comes across in a lot of what she tells me. She told me what had been the hardest part of her life. “My personal relationships I had that were not healthy, breaking that circle and strengthening myself, my inner self. Knowing I deserve better,” she recalls. There is a running theme, an underlying self-doubt, which seems unbelievable considering all of her achievements.

Nicole was trained by world leading Pilates guru and fitness expert Mari Winsor, who is credited with bringing Pilates into mainstream popularity across the globe.

True to Nicole’s childhood ambitions she was awarded a dance scholarship by the University of California, Santa Barbara and also won a Scenie for her acting role in Modigliani.

She has also appeared in television shows and films, including Devil’s Due, Bride Wars and Criminal Minds.

The talented mum even has her own successful iPhone and Android App QE2 which allows people access to her renowned training sessions, whilst they are on the go.

Her advice to anyone looking to transform their lifestyle is: “Make yourself have structure and a spiritual practice. Exercise everyday do something, anything.”

Nicole is married to Matt Marquez and has a five month old son named Keaton. With such a lovely family it is easy to understand why home is one of the places she loves to be. She describes her perfect day as “staying home or laying on a beach in Mexico or Hawaii with a margarita.” She has plenty to be proud of and explains that her proudest achievements have been “writing my memoir and script and having my son and husband and my training business”. She tells me that her parents house and Tulume Mexico are her favourite places in the world.

It would seem though that even the most talented and accomplished women still have some regrets.

Nicole says: “I wish I would have applied myself more in school and finished college.”

For someone who wishes she’d applied herself more she has carved out an incredible career.

If Nicole could be anyone for a day she would be Oprah and she says that the person who has had the most influence on her life is Kate Hudson. She explains: “Some of my clients have become best friends because we’ve spent so much time together and gone through a lot.”

Nicole is as at home on the Hollywood red carpet events as she is on a Pilates mat. She seems to gracefully transfer between glitz, glamour make up and stunning gowns to barefaced and Zen-like in the exercise studio. She has been a stunning blonde and also a more natural looking brunette but carries both off to perfection. It is perhaps this kind of versatility in her look, in her career and in her outlook that has made her so successful.

Make no mistake, Nicole is no vacuous celebrity. She is fiercely passionate about animals and children’s rights abuse and promotes the causes as much as she possibly can.

What, if anything could make her feel angry? Being held back by anyone in anyway seems to be one of them. Nicole explains: “I get angry when people tell you no or that you can’t.”

It is hard to imagine someone with such a strong work ethic when it comes to diet, exercise and spirituality having any bad habits but Nicole confessed to a couple, which she says are her worst. “ I use to smoke but haven’t done that in years. Staying too busy is another one,” she says.

So what is next for Nicole? Her plans always seem to focus on achieving balance which fits in with her practice of Pilates and her passion for Buddhist wisdom.

She says her ambition for the future is “to write and only train part time”. It is easy to see how this would be an appealing next step as her current schedule is extremely busy and must not leave as much time for writing, especially with a young baby to care for.

On her e-mail sign off she has the following quote which seems to encapsulate both the difficulties she has faced in her life and the joy she finds in acting, dancing, training and family.

“Life is painful. It has thorns, like the stem of a rose. Culture and art are the roses that bloom on the stem. The flower is yourself, your humanity. Art is the liberation of the humanity inside yourself.” Daisaku Ikeda.

I will certainly be first in the queue to buy her memoir as soon as it is published.






from Tside

Maybe next year? North-East clubs crash out of FA Cup

The third round of the FA Cup, the highlight of the football calendar for some, brings optimism and a sense of sporting magic with it every January.

Fans up and down the county dream of walking down Wembley way, preparing to watch their team walk out for the final of English footballs most historic competition.

For all the North-East teams however, that dream will now have to be put on hold until next year, as Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Sunderland and Newcastle were all beaten on Saturday afternoon.

Middlesbrough may be soaring at the top of the Championship, but their four game winning streak was halted by fellow promotion hopefuls Burnely at the Riverside Stadium.

Despite Diego Fabbrini opening the scoring from close range, Burnley scored on the brink of half time to shift the game in their favour, when Rouwen Hennings headed home after good work from Sam Vokes.

Aitor Karanka would have been disspointed with his sides usually impeccable defending when Stephen Ward crashed home the Clarets winner with twenty minutes remaining. Boro’s memorable win at Manchester City in last years cup run now feels a long time ago.


BORO BEATEN: Sam Vokes tussles for the ball with Boro defender Daniel Ayala

The meeting between League Two stugglers Hartlepool and Paul Clement’s vastly improving Derby County had all the ingredients for an upset.

Despite their lowly league position, Pools boss Ronnie Whelan would have been impressed with his side’s dogged display in a first half which saw few chances.

Jake Gray superbly volleyed home Micheal Woods’ pinpoint cross early in the second period to get the cupset alarm ringing, but it was short lived as Jacob Butterfield rifled home from distance to draw the Rams level.

Veteran striker Darren Bent showed his class with five minutes left on the clock, finshing experely and eliminating a brave Hartlepool side.

Hartlepool United v Derby County - FA Cup Third Round

GRAY DAY: Derby triumph despite Jake Gray’s wonder strike

You couldn’t have blamed Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce for resting players with the Black Cats Premier League survival taking preference over a cup run. However, a strong looking team took to the pitch at the Emirates to play current holders Arsenal.

Jermaine Lens repaid the thousands of Sunderland fans who made the long trip down from the North-East, as he captilised on Laurent Kosicelney’s mistake and flashed a shot past Petr Cech.

The lead lasted less then ten minutes as Joel Campbell equalised, but Sunderland held their own until the 72nd minute. Quick fire goals from Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud deflated hopes of an upset, sealing Arsenal’s second 3-1 victory over Sunderland this season.

arsenal 3-1 sunderland

CATS GUNNED DOWN: Olivier Giroud seals Sunderland’ exit

Newcastle have failed to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup since 2012, so their trip to Watford took on extra incentive as they looked to give their loyal fans a long awaited cup run.

McLaren fielded a strong side against one of the Premier Leagues surprise packages this season, and they looked threatening with Ayoze Perez missing a guilt-edge chance.

With the match meandering towards the break Georginio Wijnaldum’s woeful backpass allowed Troy Deeney to round Rob Elliot and tap in.

Newcastle huffed and puffed for large parts of the second half, but their lack of quality was evident as they once again were dumped out of the competition at the third round stage.


MAGPIES STUNG: Newcastle fall at the first hurdle again


FA Cup Third Round Results:

Middlesbrough 1-2 Burnely

Hartlepool 1-2 Derby

Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland

Watford 1-0 Newcastle

from Tside