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Correspondent’s week

This week by freelance personal finance journalist and author Sam Downes

I am sure that all freelance journalists have their rituals. Mine is an hour and a half of ashtanga yoga (the kind Madonna and Gwyneth do) every morning followed by a glass of warm water with lemon followed by a macrobiotic breakfast, etc, etc. Well, it would have been if I had not been out late at the Bradford & Bingley media awards. I came third in the national journalist category – my entry included a feature for CosmoGirl.

Thursday is the Building Societies’ Association’s annual dinner and I have started my pre-Christmas detox. Five hours and a large latte later, am enjoying a gossip with Tanya Jackson of Yorkshire Building Society. Will start detox tomorrow.

Wake up on Friday in a panic, two features to write, one on health insurance and another on how to be a money diva. Have also got to give my sister – who’s an accountant – last month’s expenses. Interview experts for health feature, stop by at the library but my intention of having a quiet read is scuppered by a couple who are giggling over a Ukrainian guide book. Watch the latest Cameron Diaz film In Her Shoes with friends. Stuff my face full of popcorn. Will start detox tomorrow.

After an hour spin class on Saturday, go to get my hair highlighted. After sitting still for a hour – a nightmare even when I’m at home watching television – my hair looks no different. Decide to take my own advice and act like a diva and they agree to do it again for free – next week. I had been looking forward to this treat, bah! My mood gets worse and I cancel my date for that evening – by text – and head over to my sister’s. We sit and watch the new Cinderella DVD with my nieces Annalise and Grace.

Start up early on Sunday with a wee bit of work then head out for an eight-mile training run with Amy. We are attempting a 12-mile race in two weeks to raise money for the pre-school department of our old primary school St Joseph’s. Five miles later we are knackered. We pass our church – St Joe’s – just as morn-ing mass is ending. A couple of the younger members of the congregation take in our appearance and burst into giggles.

After some yoga, I try to face Monday. First I talk to Paul Farrow of the Sun Tel about a couple of stories he wants me to write, one of which I have to get exclusively. Finish off insurance story and the money diva piece and at 5pm have to face an hour of trying to rework a book idea. It gives me something long term to think about as earlier this year I had funding to start work on the launch of a glossy magazine (financial, of course) but the idea is now on hold. Give up and head to the gym for a circuit class.

Start a piece on credit cards on Tuesday. Am also chasing a story on annuities and an A-Day-related story. Spend a nail-biting two hours ringing up contacts begging for help with case study and then text a couple of fellow freelancers asking if they want to join me at the Framlington screening of the new Harry Potter film on Saturday. Later on, I meet Amy for our speed training with Bishops Stortford Running Club. The field is very muddy, it is freezing cold and I get lapped at least five times by a very long-legged bloke.

The trains try to outwit me on Wednesday but I finally catch up with John Morgan of L&G. We talk about the benefits of detoxing and the Turner report. Head to the gym for a spin class, meet Kevin Carr of Lifesearch who gives me a new angle on the health insurance feature. A friend from where I used to work points out that my new dress makes me look like Audrey Hepburn. Think I will wear it more often.

Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Paul McMillan, email: or telephone: 020 7970 4776


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