“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.” – Winston Churchill
Good morning peeps, meditation done.
Quote for the Day:
“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.”
It is very important to know where you come from to know where you are going.
Everything I have learnt as a child and experienced as an adult, the diversity and heritage of my background and all the amazing people I have met on my journey have made me who I am today and will help me plot my future with all the amazing opportunities which have been placed in front of me today.
My Father Maxwell Opuni Agyei is Ghanaian and my Mother Sheila Ann Macdonald was born in Rio de Janeiro my Granddad Hector Macdonald met my Grandmother Elaine Inez Barrett out there and they moved to the Highlands when my mum was six.
My grandmother, Inez Elena Barrett, was born on 5th September 1906 in Crouch End, North London. She was the youngest daughter of Walter Barrett and Emily Wright. Walter was born in Kentish Town, London and left England in 1887 to be a cowboy in Mexico!
In September 1908, my granny left England with her mother, brother, sister and governess for Sabinas, Mexico to join their father. The family returned in 1910, following the start of the Mexican Revolution – by all accounts a hasty departure.
In 1911, granny and her parents left again this time for Brazil, heading for Rio Grande do Sul, the southern-most state in Brazil, where her father managed a cattle ranch. Here she led a life of outdoor freedom, and according to a letter from her mother to her sister in England: “She is out from morning till night. Tre (her father) has been teaching her to shoot – she loves it and is becoming a splendid shot. She has a wonderful nerve, and is afraid of nothing. She ought to have been a boy”. I should add that my granny was only eight years old when that letter was written, and would accompany her father to “receive cattle”, “loved farm work” and one of her favourite pets was a monkey.
In October 1916 the family returned home, when unfortunately in tragic circumstances her mother died, and so granny spent the next six years at boarding schools. Up to then, she had had no formal education. After leaving school, she returned to Brazil to live with her father. In 1931 she and her father returned to England, and in 1932 her father died. Sadly, by the time my grandmother was in her mid 20s she had lost both parents.
My grandfather, Hector Macdonald, married granny on 1st June 1933 at the Anglican Church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Hector Macdonald was born on 15th July 1894 at Western Urray, Muir of Ord, Ross-Shire. He was the seventh child of Alexander Macdonald and Duncanina MacInnes. They had 13 children, of whom 10 survived to adulthood, and owned a farm, which remained in the family until the mid 1990’s. Granddad was a Highlander through and through and won the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in the 1st World War, whilst serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.
Today’s picture is of my grand parents, Hector and Inez Macdonald on their wedding day in Brazil
The Macdonald’s lived on a farm called Ellan Vannin in Cullicudden. Farming in those days meant hard physical work; it was a mixed farm of crops, fruit, sheep, cattle, pigs (occasionally), chickens and turkeys. Granny was now back leading a similar life to that of her childhood, and she too had a busy life running a household and helping with various farm jobs. At harvest times and “tattie” lifting, there were meals to be provided for the helpers and they were never short of visitors enjoying a holiday in the Highlands. And of course, it was a very healthy lifestyle with much of the meals provided by the farm – eggs, milk (granddad did the milking), cream, butter (made by granny), vegetables, rabbits and chicken or turkey. Mod cons such as electricity and mains water did not arrive in Cullicudden until the mid-fifties. Granddad always ensured the children had regular jobs to do on the farm, such as feeding hens, collecting their eggs, fruit picking, hoeing neeps and helping when herding sheep. Incidentally, my granny’s knowledge of cooking was nil when she returned to the UK, having always had servants in Brazil, but she soon mastered the art. Her mother, however, had been a good cook, and from her letters she often mentions her garden and her crops of fruit and vegetables in Rio Grande do Sol.
After a short illness, granddad died at the early age of 61 on 1st April 1955 at the Royal Northern Infirmary, Inverness, which was particularly tragic for a man who had survived the horrific traumas of the First World War and was so enjoying his life of retirement in his beloved Highlands. I understand during the First World War an officer’s life expectancy was about one month – a junior officer was 11 days.
Within 3 months of granddad’s death, the family had left the Black Isle for Sussex, and stayed with my grandmother’s sister and husband on a smallholding. In 1956, granny bought a house in Hassocks, West Sussex, which is where I was brought up.
When I was growing up, I was amazed by granny’s strength and fitness. She walked miles everyday and when we moved to Cyprus when I was 6, we would have lunch on the beach after school everyday (we went to school from 8am until 12 noon) and then go running along the beach. Her hands were incredibly strong from years of wringing out washing and the necks of chickens on the farm. She always washed and dried clothes by hand and felt no need for a washing machine and drier right up to her death, on the 8th November 1994 at the age of 88.
As a child growing up in Hassocks, a West Sussex village, 8 miles outside Brighton, at the foot of the downs, in the shadow of 2 windmills, named Jack and Jill, which mark the spot where Jack fell down the hill in the famous nursery rhyme, I spent every minute of the day living, thinking and reading about football and it and all other sports became an obsession. I would read comics like “Tiger and Scorcher” reading about the exploits of “Billy’s Boots” and “Roy of the Rovers”. Thursday’ mornings were particularly exciting as this was when “Shoot “magazine would drop through my door. Breakfast would involve me being head down in a magazine reading about sport, whilst shovelling frosties into my mouth with an ungainly grip of a spoon, without looking up, pausing only for gulped breathe, much to the distraction of my Grandma’s distraction, I still hold a spoon in that way today.
I would sleep with a football, surrounded by pictures of my beloved Manchester United Heroes, Alex Stepney, Stuart Pearson, Gordon “Gillette G two” Hill, Stevie Coppell, The Greenhoff brothers Brian and Jimmy, Gordon McQueen Martin Buchannon, Sammy McClroy, Lou Macari etc., but pride of place was 2 huge posters hung on my ceiling of Edson Arrantas De Nascimento or Pele as he was better known, staring down at me in his respective Santos and New York Cosmos kits.
I would read about any sport and remember reading about an American Footballer who had a huge back, which he put down to doing pull ups as a kid, so down the garden I was everyday doing 3 sets of 10 pull ups, with shocking bent arm, swinging technique, off our cooking apple tree branch. Even today the first thing I do when I go to the gym is 3 sets of 10 pull ups, probably still with the same shocking, bent arm, swinging technique.
Our garden was a multi purpose sports facility for my friends and I, the backdrop for years of competitive battles between myself and the Price boys – David, John and Keith the scene of dramatic penalty shootouts and the concluding event of our “Superstars” competition mimicking the events of the iconic 70’s TV series.
Saturday night was and still is my favourite time of the week, as it is the night when my favourite program “Match of the Day” is aired. Back then in the days of Motty’s legendary sheepskin and Jim’s chin you only got highlights of 2 games, but it was inevitable that no matter how much I loved the programme, I could never get the whole way through an episode of MOTD without falling asleep. Much to the irritation of girlfriends past and present, after forcing them to sit through my favourite programme, yet another habit formed in childhood has stayed with me throughout my adult life and I still fall asleep during MOTD. Nowadays thanks to the invention of Sky + and the repeat showing early on Sunday mornings at least I don’t miss any of the football action, which really impresses the fairer sex.
I would run from my house in Grand Avenue, through the village, along the cinder path until I got to the bottom of the downs, with Jack and Jill windmills at the top. I would then run up that steep hill everyday imagining I was Muhammad Ali, pushing myself when I had nothing left. This self-discipline really helped me later in life in my sport and dance careers and now when my personal training clients train with me they do so under the watchful eye and inspiring image of Muhammad Ali captured so amazingly in a portrait I commissioned by the fabulous street artist and long term friend, Alex Young.
Another great inspiration as a child was the exploits on and off the track of Olympic legend Daley Thompson arguably Britain’s greatest-ever athlete and sportsman. Who can forget him winning the decathlon gold medal at the Olympic games in 1980 and especially in Los Angeles in 1984? Who can forget him whistling the national anthem when receiving the gold medal or the infamous T-shirt he wore at the closing ceremony asking the question “ Is the world’s second greatest athlete gay? Both incidents caused equal out cry at the time. My own defining moment for Daley Thompson was when he managed to clear a personal best in the high jump and he did a back somersault to celebrate on the crash mat, I was amazed and ran upstairs onto my bed and didn’t come down until I too could do a back somersault. Again this is yet another habit I still maintain from childhood in adult life (I am seeing a pattern here) and today when I am at a swimming pool I still have to enter the water with a back somersault.
I used to watch all Gene Kelly’s movies and try and copy all his numbers as a kid, later on I would wear my mum’s carpet out in the hall listening and practicing my moves listening to the music and voice of Michael Jackson in front of the glass of the front door, which would become like a mirror in the dark of the night and it was in the hall that I had practiced for hours to perfect my robotic moves and had learnt to moonwalk after seeing Jeffrey Daniels of “Shalimar” performing on “Top of the Pops”, which was years before Michael Jackson moonwalked. I still had all my “Caster” style soul boy quick feet moves, spins and could flip and do back somersaults. Every time I danced anywhere, the Beacon Centre youth club, KHCC pavilion, The Dyke, Coasters and The Pink Coconut in Brighton the dance floor would clear and I would be performing a solo in the middle of a huge circle of people.
And now as I I sit in my mum’s house today in Cromarty a few miles away from the farm she was brought up on Ellan Vannin in Cullicudden on the Black Isle, most of the things I still do today and the daily habits I have formed stem from my childhood. I am still obsessed by sport, health, fitness and dance and I spend every, minute of everyday reading, watching, learning, writing and participating in it, it is my love, my life and my business.
I feel very blessed to do what I love, being able to share a lifetime’s knowledge and experience and I am extremely grateful to the universe to have so many wonderful opportunities placed in front of me on my table as I plan 2017 and the years ahead.
The first opportunity in 2017 I can share with you is my yoga retreat in Morocco from Saturday March 18th to 25th and if you would like to introduce yoga into your life or strengthen your daily practice why not come and join me at The Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort the new five-star luxury destination in El Jadida Morocco
Click Here to find out more
The location is amazing.
It is a truly unique coastal destination resort, less than an hour drive south of Casablanca and set in a region abounding in contrasts that has preserved all its authenticity.
Rooms and suites overlook the lagoon, the golf course, the swimming pool and the patio, plunging down to the sea from the terraces and offering a 180-degree view over the Atlantic Ocean. The view will take your breath away.
Look forward to your future by Clicking Here today
Have a wonderful Wednesday peeps
Breathe, Believe and Achieve
Be Happy, Healthy and Wise
Keep on Winning Smiling and Living the Dream