Sporty Spice on mission to escape wild weather

By Roger Moroney

Former Spice Girl Melanie C is relieved to have swapped Britain's torrential rain and floods for blue skies and dry terrain as she prepares for Hawkes Bay's Mission Estate Winery Concert tomorrow night.

Sporty Spice, real name Melanie Chisholm, lives about an hour out of London and said the relentless rain that had flooded much of the south of England over the past weeks had been "pretty bad".

Travelling to a place such as Hawkes Bay during a New Zealand summer was one of the "highs" of a musical business which could have its ups and downs, she said.

She will perform alongside Ronan Keating, Sharon Corr, Billy Ocean and Leo Sayer in the show called Irish & British Invasion - Party at the Mission.

Melanie C's only other visit to New Zealand involved a stopover at Auckland Airport on the way home from a tour of Australia.

"I've finally made it on to the ground. It's quite a daunting journey from the UK and so nice to be here - I'm taking it all in."

It will be a short visit, though, as she flies out on Sunday.

"My mummy duties await me," she said, adding that daughter Scarlett's fifth birthday was only a week away.

Melanie C celebrated her own 40th birthday with a large group of friends at a concert at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London.

"A lot of friends came up on the stage to join me - and of course we all partied until dawn."

Tomorrow, she will perform six songs as well as teaming up with Keating for a duet. "I'm excited about getting out there to perform with the orchestra," she said.

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