Bloggers write

"Write something worth reading or do something worth writing" A blog by Amy Willis, a multimedia journalist based in London

Miley Cyrus’s father approves of pole dance at Teen Choice Awards

Billy Ray Cyrus, the father of Miley Cyrus, who plays Hannah Montana, has defended her pole-dancing act at the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles.

Miley Cyrus’s raunchy dance routine at the Teen Choice Awards raised a few eyebrows but her father Billy Ray says he approves of her behaviour.

The 16-year-old Hannah Montana star cavorted around a stripper pole during a performance of her song Party In The USA earlier this month.

Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus defended his daughter saying her moves were all good, clean fun.

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Filed under: Portfolio, UK News, ,

French game of boules hailed by Buddhist master

The French game of boules has been hailed as a tool of meditation by a Buddhist master, Maître Kaisen.

Maître Kaisen, 56, a Buddhist master born to a family of Polish immigrants in northern France, says playing pétanque – boules – increases your ability to ignore outside distractions.

And he has written a book to share his theory. His book, L’Esprit de la Pétanque (The Spirit of Pétanque), is based on 35 years of pétanque practice.

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Filed under: Portfolio, UK News,

X Files back for a third movie

Actress Gillian Anderson has revealed a third X Files movie may be released in 2012.

Actress Gillian Anderson has revealed a third X Files movie is in the pipeline.

The 44 year-old, who plays Dana Scully in the show, told media at the Sarajevo Film Festival there had been discussions for a possible release in 2012.

Anderson starred in the X Files movies with David Duchovny, 49, as Fox Mulder, in 1998 and 2008.

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Filed under: Portfolio, ,

Millions spent on NHS management consultants with Labour links

The Department of Health has spent almost £500 million on management consultants, including deals with firms which have hired senior Labour figures and high ranking civil servants, an investigation has revealed.

The disclosure of more than 100 contracts worth a total of £470 million last night engulfed the Government in accusations of “cronyism”.

Among those recruited by the favoured firms are a former health minister, an ex-adviser to the health secretary and a senior Whitehall official responsible for encouraging private sector involvement in the NHS.

Doctors’ and nurses’ leaders expressed concern over the use of resources which could have paid for more than 60,000 hip operations, or the annual salary of 22,000 nurses.

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Filed under: Portfolio, UK News,

A-levels: Row over maths standards

A fresh row over A-level standards broke out as it was disclosed that a third of A grade mathematics students failed the Cambridge University entrance exam.

By Amy Willis and Graeme Paton
Published: 10:00PM BST 21 Aug 2009, The Daily Telegraph (front page)

Hundreds of top students with offers to study the subject were rejected after failing the maths test set by the university to identify the brightest candidates.

Geoff Parks, head of admissions, suggested that it was difficult to pick out the most able sixth-formers based on A-levels alone.

The disclosure comes just days after students celebrated another round of record results. The number of passes increased for the 27th year in a row while more than a quarter of entries was graded an A.

Filed under: Portfolio, UK News, , , ,

Sixth case of Legionnaires’ disease investigated

A sixth case of Legionnaires’ disease is being investigated by health officials after another patient was admitted to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashton.

By Amy Willis
Published: 7:00AM BST 19 Aug 2009, The Daily Telegraph

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has confirmed they are now leading an inquiry into six cases of legionella infection in East Kent. This latest case is a man in his 60s who is said to be in a serious but stable condition.

Three of the cases, one of whom was an inpatient, have been linked to the William Harvey Hospital although no links have been found with the latest case.

Two weeks ago Kevin Carroll, 50, from Dover, died from the disease after being admitted to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital which is also run by the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust. The HPA has said he was suffering from a separate strain of the disease.

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Filed under: Portfolio, UK News

Published articles by Amy Willis (click to download PDFs)

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio

In a dark dark hole… a visit to the Welsh showcaves

I am standing in a dark, echoing cave, carved by millions of years of rain water trickling through. The air grows cooler as you pass through the entrance. The underground labyrinth has begun.

I weave my way through the stalagmites and stalactites in the Dan-yr-Ogof cave brushing my fingers against the stone, wondering how many droplets of water it took to make it this smooth.

Water is dripping from the ceiling and I can hear what sounds like a waterfall in the background.

The rasher of bacon, by Rachel Slater- Flikr

The rasher of bacon, by Rachel Slater- Flikr

Round the dimly lit corner is a pillar of stone in a pool of water- a stalagmite and stalactite which have met each other on their quest upward and downward.

Cascading from the ceiling is a frozen waterfall of fingers hanging down.

And then… a rasher of bacon? A bizarre looking stone which unbelievably does look like a rasher of bacon.

This is followed by a group of stalagmites called the nuns and the angel.

At the far end is a real treat. The waterfall  I heard in the background from before. You have never seen a waterfall until you have seen an underground waterfall, truly spectacular. There is something about the sound of water falling onto rock that seems so peaceful.

As I reemerge from the cave, the humidity of the warm air outside (yes it is still Wales) comes as a bit of a pleasant surprise.

The sun is shining as I make my way up a very steep hill to the Cathedral cave.

Cathedral cave is huge. Water is flowing from the rock face above and there is a small river floating through to collect it. At the far end is a pulpit of flowers and a sign saying couples are able to get married in the cave- hence the name. Sounds like a pretty cool idea for an alternative wedding. But I leave pretty quickly as the area is already getting crowded.

Below is a video of the daytrip to the caves. Shot at the end is the water leaving the caves and forming the River Lynfell. You can take a virtual tour of the caves, which are in the Brecon Beacons in Wales with this link. More photos to come, so watch this space.

Filed under: Activities, blog posts, Cardiff sport, Videos, , , ,

Rugby heroes take bronze in tan battle

Apr 27 2009 by Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

WELSH rugby players Andy Powell and Mike Phillips stripped off to get spray tans in Cardiff as part of a skin cancer awareness campaign.

The sporting stars, who are preparing for the Lions 2009 tour to South Africa, took time out of their training programme to get sprayed in the Tiger Tiger bar in Greyfriars Road, to raise awareness of Safe Tan Summer.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Record crowd for ‘absolutely fabulous’ flower show

Apr 20 2009 by Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

RECORD numbers turned out in the sunshine for the final day of the Royal Horticultural Show in Cardiff yesterday.

More than 7,000 people flocked to Bute Park – the highest number of visitors on any one day since the show started five years ago.

Families enjoying the colourful blooms and intricate gardens described the event as “absolutely fabulous”.

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Are there too many celebrity statues?

Apr 20 2009 by Amy Willis, Western Mail

THE growing fashion for celebrity statues has come under fire, amid claims they are becoming all too common.

Every week new bronzes seem to spring up in another town to celebrate a famous face with local links.

In Wales comedian Tommy Cooper is one of the most recent additions to the list of statues which also includes a bronze of “matchstick-man” boxer Johnny Owen, and former rugby scrum-half Gareth Edwards.

The statue of Cooper, which was officially unveiled by Sir Anthony Hopkins, has a prominent position just across from the town’s famous castle.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

He left school with no GCSEs, but he’s back as a trainee teacher

Apr 14 2009 by Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

A VALLEYS student who left education with no qualifications or prospects when he was 16 has returned to his old school – to train to be a teacher.

Lyndon Powell, 37, of Clare Street, Merthyr Tydfil, left Cyfarthfa High School after failing his GCSEs because he didn’t go to any of the exams.

“I was a bit of rebel when I was younger,” said Mr Powell, who now has two young children of his own – Thomas, eight, and Ffion, five – with wife Karen, 39.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Wales outshines the Med as visitors flock to our beaches

Apr 13 2009 by Amy Willis and Owain Bury, Western Mail

WALES left much of the Mediterranean in the shade over the weekend, giving the country’s tourist trade a welcome Easter boost.

The better-than-expected temperatures helped many attractions enjoy a bumper Bank Holiday.

With Wales experiencing largely unbroken sunshine and temperatures up to 16C – much higher than large parts of the Med – the national parks welcomed thousands of visitors over the weekend.

The Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre at Libanus, near Brecon, reported around 1,500 visitors on Saturday alone. Previous Saturdays had half that amount with an annual visitor number of around the 160,000 mark.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Danielle Bux bans WAGs from her wedding to Gary Lineker

Apr 13 2009 by Amy Willis, Western Mail

WELSH model Danielle Bux has banned footballers’ wives and girlfriends from her wedding.

The 29-year-old lingerie model, who will appear on reality TV show Hell’s Kitchen tonight, is set to marry former footballer Gary Lineker in Italy, this year.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Sports Council for Wales backs gardening for helping us stay healthy

Apr 13 2009 by Amy Willis, Western Mail

GARDENING is set to become the latest health-boosting exercise as thousands of families head outdoors.

Research has suggested that one to two hours of gardening a day can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.

And the Sports Council for Wales has recommended gardening as an ideal daily cardiovascular workout.

The health benefits of gardening have been revealed ahead of the start of the RHS Show Cardiff, this weekend.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Pop princess Duffy laments the single life

Apr 11 2009 By Amy Willis, Western Mail

SOUL singer Duffy may be a bestseller in the charts but time spent winning music awards has put a strain on her love life.

The Grammy-winning songstress has admitted that she has not had enough time to find a boyfriend.

The 24-year-old singer from Nefyn, in North Wales, is planning to take a few months off and is hoping to find love.

And she has said she is not ruling out using a dating agency.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

People forced to spend their holidays at home

Apr 6 2009 By Amy Willis, Western Mail

THE Easter getaway began this weekend with more people expected to stay in the UK this year than travel overseas due to the current economic climate.

A survey by insurance company Legal & General revealed almost three in five people are changing their holiday plans, with around 20% opting for a “staycation” at home. A further 21% plan to stay with friends and family, rather than face the expense of booking into a hotel. One in five people who took a holiday abroad last year intended to stay within the UK for their break this year with 18% saying they can not afford a holiday overseas due to the recession. Families with children were the most likely to change their plans and stay at home, according to the research.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

Left in the dark

As Britain moves closer to the rebirth of the nuclear power industry, a special investigation by Amy Willis reveals that schools – only a matter of miles away from British nuclear power stations – are without stockpiles of anti-radiation drugs and information about what to do in a nuclear emergency.

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Filed under: UK News

Mobile-media vox pop

WalesOnline’s Amy Willis went to Cardiff’s cafe quarter in Mill Lane to find out how building works are affecting the area. Click here to see the video

Filed under: blog posts, Portfolio, , , ,

Dispute over historic stone in Llandaff

Apr 2 2009 by Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

OLIVER Cromwell’s historic hitching post is at the centre of a Llandaff pub dispute.

The Llandaff Conservation Group has voiced concern that the plans for the Maltsters Pub could endanger a rock which plays a famous role in Cardiff’s history.

According to the group the 2ft high rock, which sits next to the corner of the pub, was used by Oliver Cromwell to tie up his horse as he passed through South Wales in 1648.

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio, , ,

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