Belly Dance Hafla & at the Edge

Many of you know that one of my passions is the belly-dance classes I attend. I’ve been shaking it all about for nigh on seventeen years now.

The first time I was introduced to belly-dance, however, must be more than twenty years ago – when a belly-dancer came to our village WI, told us of the true history of the dances (celebratory or in commiseration, by women – for women) and got us all up and shimmying. Unfortunately she wasn’t running classes, and it wasn’t until a number of years later than I discovered Jules. I had been learning Cornish Dance for a millennium event, but that finished and my friend asked if I would be interested in going to belly-dance instead! Was I? Too right I was!

Our group holds an annual Hafla ( a belly-dance party) with which we raise funds for MacMillan Cancer support (in memory of one of our members). Belly-dance groups come to perform from all over Devon, Cornwall and beyond and great fun is had by all while raising a goodly sum for the charity! For this one we did a veil dance – lots of swishing of gauzy fabric! a youtube video can be found here

Our group, known as Shimmying Jewels, also dances out a few times a year, sometimes at Calstock Festival, sometimes at the Tavistock Edge Festival.  A couple of weekends ago it was the latter. We were all set with two performances and two dances in each part of the town (though the second dance was more as backing-dancers to a dance duet by two of our members)

The first dance was to a lively tune with a refrain that extols the ample virtues of Egyptian Ella – a belly-dancer. (And that’s almost a truism, some of the best belly-dancers are of very ample proportions, but with fantastic control over their sinuous movements!) Jules choreographed a stick dance to this – which means that a brightly coloured stick is used to enhance the moves.

I was hoping a video of this was going up on youtube – but it hasn’t arrived yet (I will link to it when it does) In the meantime here are a few stills. wp_20170708_12_08_06_prowp_20170708_12_08_28_prowp_20170708_12_10_32_prowp_20170708_12_08_32_prowp_20170708_12_10_40_pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, if you fancy belly-dancing – and know where you can join a class but are wondering what to wear – I may have just the blog for your right here  which also goes a long way to explaining what I love about belly-dance.

Though I just love to dance … any dance really … belly-dance has a special place in my heart!

Do you love to dance?

What type of dancing do you do?

Do share- you know I love to hear from you!

Sharing:

Reading the tea-leaves – bicarb to the rescue

wp_20170706_15_23_39_proHiya, now here’s a problem you might be able to help me with.
I think this household has been drinking PG Tips for well over thirty years – it has been the preferred tea that met the variety of flavour-requisites of those living here. Nothing fancy – unless you think their pyramid shaped bags are fancy – just straight-forward tea – everyone drinking it with milk (this is important to know later) some liking a strong cuppa – some (me) with so much milk in it most people would wonder where the tea was.

We have a vast array of mugs from which this tea is drunk – from Disney mugs with the initials of each of the 4 boys on – through supermarket stoneware or ceramic to proper lovely thin china. None of these ever became stained in all these years! (except the large mug one son took to using on a constant basis – never letting it get in the dishwasher – just rinsing and re-using (shudder – don’t ask!)

Now this maybe because they are usually dish-washed between uses, though rarely were they rinsed immediately after use (recommended for avoiding stains) before putting into the dishwasher. This may be due to the fact that we have very, very soft water (hard-water virtually guarantees staining – apparently). It may be due to the fact that no-one in the family drinks tea black (milk proteins are said to bind to the tannin preventing it sticking to the cup). All of the above are suggested by the internet as ways to make sure your tea-cups do not stain.

All well and good!

BUT – all of a sudden, about six-months ago, the stains started to appear!

WHY? Same cups. Same regime of ‘cleaning’. Same soft water. Same tea-with-milk. Same tea …  Or is it?

Over a year and a half ago PG Tips reduced the quantity of tea in its bags. We are talking a 0.2g reduction on 3.1g. Not a lot – but they claim ‘just as strong a brew’ and I wonder how that can be? I recall a demonstration at a tea-plantation in Malaysia where they poured cold water onto different tea bags, one high quality – one lesser. The inferior one leaked colour quite quickly, the better much less so. We were told that this was because the inferior one contained tea-dust which enhances the colour (yes, still tea-leaves – but very fine particles) and that these ‘leaked out’ through the bag making the tea look stronger.

wp_20170706_15_33_08_proLacking a ‘high-quality’ bag to compare it with in this manner, instead I broke open a tea bag and put it, dry, through a tea-strainer – not a lot stayed in the strainer as you can see …  and how fine is ‘dust’ anyway?  Not very scientific, I know – especially with no ‘old-size’ tea-bag to compare it with.

So I am not casting aspersions, as such, but I wonder if something like this has gone on – and that this is why the tea we have used for so many years now creates these ugly stains even in the nicest and smoothest of china-ware. Whatever – I now have, for the first time ever, tea stains to contend with!

THE SOLUTION

Now I have a regular task of dealing with this problem and have found my new friend Bicarb is in on the act, along with white vinegar. Which is good because I didn’t want any new chemicals in my life. I now keep a small bottle of half and half – water and white vinegar – handy. I pour some of this onto a sponge, give the mug a wipe around, coating the inner surface with the mixture. I then pour a little Bicarb out, dab the sponge into it then rub around the inner cup, with an extra rub where/if there’s a tide-line.

A good rinse – and this is done – then into the dishwasher it goes – and comes out sparkling!

Also … when I have finished the couple of boxes I have in my cupboard – I think I will be experimenting with other teas to see if any of them meet the exacting flavour standards AND do not create stains! So, dear readers, can you help me?

What’s your favourite tea?

Does yours stain your cups?

What do you recommend?

Do share – you know I always love to hear from you

Ann

 

 

Please, if you enjoyed a book by an indie-published author, help them gain a wider audience by doing a review on Amazon – doesn’t have to be in depth – just has to be heartfelt. Thank you X

Sharing:

No so much Navel Gazing as …

Oh! Here I am, back again after what seems a frenetic and frantic time. Oh, yes, life sometimes throws things our way that knocks all the writing to pot – including the blog.

In this case my father’s sudden eruption of a HUGE ulcer on his tongue, followed by numerous and sequential trips to the hospital for every type of scan, followed swiftly by an operation to remove a largish bite of his tongue and several lymph nodes from his neck following the diagnosis of cancer. Thank goodness for the NHS! Subsequently we’ve been on the recovery stage – trying to regain weight lost while eating was difficult – while eating is still difficult (with sore but healing new shaped tongue) However, things are stabilised now and I have found my lap-top and returned to all of you.wp_20170512_09_02_15_pro

And returned to the studies of everyday plants that my character – Dominica – might be able to use in her healing around AD689 – and today I’m looking at the plant known as the navelwort – or pennywort.

Wort, or wyrt,  is actually a Viking or Norse suffix meaning ‘medicine’. So the name of this plant in this country comes from later than the time I am dealing with, so I have to check with my sources as to whether it was an introduced plant – or was here already but known by another name. (Yes, Historical writing is tricky!)

I have always rather liked this plant. The round fleshy leaves are one of those edible leaves that my boys readily took to eating just for fun (after being told they were edible) They taste a bit cucumbery.. basically fleshy, wet and green, not bad in a sandwich. However, I didn’t know of their medical usage. The names, pennywort and navelwort I assumed came from their shape and the dimple, like a bellybutton, in the middle, even though, somewhere in the recesses of my mind the ‘wort’ rang a herbal-use bell.

wp_20170623_10_52_15_proNow, the mini-course I went on tells me that the navelwort, Umbilicus rupestris, have strong antimicrobial properties and would have been placed over the end of the umbilical cord and tied on, where they would dry-on forming a seal and keep infection at bay. Thus navelwort referred to this property (though under the doctrine of signatures – they would also have been saying – ‘look at me, I’m for use on the navel!’) Oddly, this use doesn’t seem to be generally mentioned in online sources, so maybe it’s a very old use, perfect for my story.

It seems that these can also be carefully dried and stored for babies that arrived out of the navelwort-growing season too. Now I am really hoping this plant in a real native as I am sure this could work its way naturally into Dominica’s medicine kit.

So, barring any other type of emergency, medical or otherwise, I’ll write to you next week – in the meantime –

have you ever eaten a pennywort sandwich – or even just nibbled a leaf?

Or do you know these plants by any other names?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you!

Sharing:

A Weedy Medicine Cabinet – Dandelions

Here we are again, we are back in the late AD600 – when the wise-woman, or the monastery-trained, were the go-to people when you were ailing. Why? Mainly because they still held the knowledge honed by the druids about which herbs had which effects on the body.

So it is that I found myself signing up to a herbalist-led course here in the Tamar Valley. My Dominica will have to use the plants that grow here if she is to be a healer (which – in my telling of the tale – she will be)

Here I am going to give a first glimpse of what I learned but how this will be used in the story I have yet to discover (that’s the way my writing works – fill up the  brain with lots of information and then let the sub-conscious sift through and weave it’s own patterns).

We didn’t even have to leave the property where the talk took place – and I suspect you wouldn’t have to stray far from your garden too for the one herb I’m going to touch on here. wp_20170512_09_06_03_pro

Hands-up those who have dandelions in their garden? *sees a forest of hands* Really? LOL 🙂 … well it seems that a Dandelion is a medicine chest all on its own.

Leaves: Make a ‘tea’ from them to drink. (A ‘tea’ basically is as it sounds, pour boiling water over them and allow to steep for a few minutes – remove herb bits – drink)

Many of you will know this is a diuretic (we all remember the warning as children not to pick dandelions as they will make you wet the bed!) Diuretics are used in many conditions today: – for reducing blood-pressure; congestive heart-failure and oedema (swelling due to water-retention) *This is not to say you should treat yourself for these conditions willy-nilly with dandelion tea!*

But did you know that dandelion tea is also a anti-lithic (a stone-breaker) that breaks gall or kidney stones to allow them to be passed?

Roots: Wash, cut and make a tea – this provides a liver-detox.

Then there’s the sap – that white milky fluid that comes from the broken stem. This can be used to treat warts. It is actually a form of latex and seals the wart off from the air. It needs to be reapplied frequently but eventually the wart will drop off leaving a wet pit on the skin that then heals up. (this make total sense – if you recall my experiment with the duct-tape method of wart removal (here) this works in the same way)

dandelion-fiels-freeimages-live! Not only that – but apparently dandelion sap was even used during the war as a latex (rubber) supply (Not one of us on the course had ever heard of that before!) but as things go – in a serendipitous manner – within a day an advert popped up on FB for Continental tyres – saying they are experimenting with dandelion rubber (due the disease attacking rubber plants worldwide) as well as for other things that use latex.

That’s dandelions for you – amazing and fascinating – now I need to check with Dulcie of Dumnonika, the Iron Age re-enactment group, who has an careful list of truly native plants, whether they were here in this part of the UK back in those times.

I’ll share some of the other medicinal-weeds I learnt about with you another time  🙂

What are your favourite herbal remedies?

Do you remember the warnings about picking Dandelions?

Do Share – you know I love to hear from you!

Sharing:

Lost in Time – researching for Dominica!

I’ve been gone one thousand, three hundred and twenty-eight years – back in time … to an era we call ‘The Dark Ages’. The Roman garrisons have gone – left these isles to tend to their problems closer to Rome with a farewell letter to the Romano-British from the Emperor Honorius, in AD410, to see to their own protection  – even as they called for aid to fend off the raiding Saxons. However, by the date I’ve been visiting, AD689, the Angles, Jutes and Saxons are well ensconced in the majority of what will become England, but the Vikings are not yet attacking.

wp_20170406_15_34_30_pro
Can you see the river Tamar, just behind the trees – and further beyond?

I am in Cornwall, here, just over the border – the river Tamar. Though, in AD689 Cornwall is not Cornwall – as such, it is part of Dumnonia, roughly Devon and Cornwall and part of Somerset and Dorset, and it is a different place culturally to the rest of ‘England’. The West Saxons (those being the closest – Wessex) have not overtaken the people of Dumnonia yet – in fact – even the Romans had made little impact here, this side of the river, either … a few forts only – no fancy towns all laid out Roman style with villas and influence over the local Kings* here. (*or ‘big-man’ as the system seemed to be in Cornwall in the pre-Roman times … and probably was even at the end of the AD600s.)

So it is a tumultuous time on the border, the threat of invasion by the West Saxons is real, they have made in-roads into Dumnonia … and they have a new battle-cry. By this time the Anglo-Saxons had, by and large, turned from their pagan gods to Christianity, some converted by missionaries from Rome, some by missionaries from Ireland. This had resulted in a clash of Christian doctrines – the Roman church and the Celtic church having different ways to work out the Christian calendar, different tonsures for their monks, and differing rules and ways of worship and a different attitude towards women. Within my time-line comes the decisive synod of Whitby, AD664, that found in favour of the Roman Church and meant that the Celtic churches that would not change were then seen as heretical – and to be wiped out.

The Church in Dumnonia, and especially the ‘Cornish’ ones backed by King Geraint and so rich in Celtic saints from Ireland, refused to change – setting themselves up for the West Saxons to proclaim a ‘religious war’ as a motive to back-up their invasions.

It’s been hard to get back to the here and now – I look at the landscape around me with different eyes – where would have been occupied? Where would have been safe? I read the names of the places I know and refer to my books to see whether I can call the place by its current name – whether the name we know is, in fact, original Celtic (Cornish) or an English name given only after the West Saxons’ invasion, or a blend … and even that has made me look at the landscape again and see things with different eyes as I find the meanings behind the words.

Those who know me in person, know that I am interested in history, mainly local history rather than that of Kings and Queens, but this is something different. To weave a story based on a few scanty legends (Dominica and Indract), set in a time that is poorly recorded (there’s the reason it is called the Dark Ages) and to try to throw myself back into that time and inhabit that landscape and that life is, for me, an extraordinary experience, both thrilling and very scary. It is also totally absorbing and takes me to a place I have never travelled before!

Wish me luck on my time-travels 🙂

Do you go time-travelling?

Do you find yourself inhabiting a different world when visiting ancient houses or estates?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you!

Sharing:

Chicken talk of yolks

The recent government rules on keeping chickens in / away from migrating birds which might be carrying H5N8 bird flu –  has made me do something I have intended to do ever since we stopped keeping goats.

When you mainly cook from scratch and grow a lot of your own veg, and buy the rest from local sources, you end up with a lot of peelings. Especially when you like to have a lot of different types of vegetables with each meal!wp_20170226_12_56_25_proNow this was never a problem when we had goats – there was always the bucket for the edible scraps for the goats and the bucket for the compost heap. The latter generally only had onion skins, citrus skins and teabags in – judiciously mixed with torn cardboard loo-roll tubes and such stuff.

When we sold the goats, prior to putting our beautiful house on the market, the vegetable peelings joined the compost bin . . . even though I kept saying to myself that I ought to prepare them for the chickens.

With the chickens compulsorily being kept in closed-off quarters I eventually did something about it!

I first found that if you just give raw peelings, toppings ‘n’ tailings, outside leaves etc to the chickens they will peck at it … but they will not clear it up efficiently … for that you need to give it a light cooking.

So, after I have cooked and served-up our meal I now drop the whole pile of peelings into the largest pyrex bowl I have already used (in cooking the meal) and pop it in the Microwave for 10 minutes. wp_20170226_14_47_25_pro

When it is cool I put it back into an old bowl (or a re-purposed sweet tub even) to take out to the chickens.

They love it – especially with the odd soft apple, from the apple store, sliced up in it too.

AND as a bonus, now they are back out on the grass and getting the extra veg-peelings regularly too, we now have the deepest yellow yolks going – yes even darker than usual – and that was pretty good anyway – and yes – this is the actual colour  – it is not a trick of the light.wp_20170301_07_06_42_proSo we get to eat tasty, rich, healthy eggs and I get to feel even better now that the peelings are being used properly again.

What do your do with your veg peelings?

Are you a chicken keeper?

You know I love to hear from you – do share

🙂  Ann

Sharing:

Lichen sclerosus and Why Borax is my new best friend

It’s difficult to talk about this – and this is why it has taken me two weeks to write one blog! After just telling my husband the diagnosis, lichen sclerosus, and that I had been prescribed ‘a cream’ for it I hadn’t mentioned it again even to him – and even though, over the course of four or five years, the symptoms got worse and worse.

Back at the end of October, the symptoms had become excruciating – and the ‘cream’ useless. I had been told that as an auto-immune condition there was nothing else medicine could offer apart from suppression of the symptoms by the ‘cream’ – a corticosteroid – classified as a ‘potent steroid’.

So, what is Lichen sclerosus? It is an auto-immune condition that affects mainly children and post-menopausal women. (Yep, tick that last box)  As I am sure you know, and auto-immune condition is one in which your own body turns on itself, destroying cells, and in this case making the skin thinner, prone to blistering, swelling, soreness, irritation and inflammation.

Lichen sclerosus also has a favourite location for this disruption of the skin – and this is why I (and many other people) don’t generally like to talk about it. It affects the skin between the buttocks and reaching forward to include the skin around the vulva. In people who have had it for decades it can even result in atrophy of the flesh.

By the end of October I was in pain all the time, especially when sitting, and every time I needed to use the toilet I faced the agony of cleaning and drying myself, and the area affected seemed to be extending. Now Corticosteroid must be used sparingly – frequent reapplication is not acceptable – not desirable – as Corticosteroid also THINS the skin!

I positioned a mirror to look – the skin was red, shiny, swollen, cracked and blistered – no wonder it stung to blazes!

This is where I am surprised at, and ashamed of, myself. I have been looking into natural ways of supporting the body and brain by supporting the health of your whole system – but I hadn’t looked for a natural way of dealing with Lichen sclerosus. I had been ambushed by the fact that it was considered an Auto-immune condition  – and, therefore, I knew that meant it wasn’t curable.

…  or did I?

 After all, hadn’t I been reading about other auto-immune conditions that had been helped by natural means – by a rebalancing of the gut-bacteria, specifically. However, I have already gone down this route for the sake of my brain, and I hope my gut-bacteria are now in a good balance and are being ‘fed’ the food-stuffs to keep them happy. I would say that in other ways my body was feeling better tuned and functioning well.

So it was, that feeling desperate, I began to research whether there was a natural way to help the condition . . .  and there was!

I read so many pages, so many personal responses. I read of people with this condition who were in a much worse state than I was – whose body had suffered permanent changes that were life-affecting. I also read of those who had found the answer – or an answer. And it involved my new friend Borax – also known as Sodium Tetraborate. I read around the subject – finding out lots more about Borax (especially about uses here) and it’s uses, trawling sites for negatives as well as positives – until, convinced it was worth a try, I sent off for some, it was only £5.95  a kilo – link here.

First it said, once you have obtained your borax have a bath – with one tablespoon of borax and one of bicarbonate of soda – just for relief. OH MY! That was SO GOOD, just in itself! That alone was enough to convince me to take the course.

Then there was the taking of borax in solution every day for a fortnight. This was in a specific high dose: One eighth of a level teaspoon of borax to be taken everyday, dissolved in one litre of (warm) spring water – consumed over the day.  Followed by a life-time of a much lower dose of borax –  every day – forever. AND the mandatory taking of a magnesium supplement always – as the borax needs that to work effectively. Magnesium citrate is easily absorbed but can also act as a laxative so I researched and decided on magnesium glycinate – which is also easily absorbed but does not have that side effect. (magnesium oxide – often sold in supermarkets – is very poorly absorbed)

(NB. The site I looked at also advised adding one eighth of a teaspoon of ground Himalayan Pink Salt to the Borax – so I did this too … to begin with, until I had the odd reaction of tingling in my face – that seemed to be caused by an overdose of sodium – so I dropped the pink salt and continued with the borax – the odd reaction faded away.
Himalayan pink salt is often recommended by natural health bloggers for ailments – and I wonder if someone was trying a belt and braces solution that worked for them – but overloaded my system with sodium? My verdict – I believe this works just as well with Borax only)

ANYWAY…. On day 5 – when I was drying myself I thought ‘Oh! What? My skin has gone numb in one small place.’ So I checked with the mirror to see where this numb area was. It turned out it wasn’t numb at all – just healed-up and looking normally pink, surrounded by skin that was still screaming at me – it only seemed numb in comparison.

Over the remaining time of the fortnight this small normal area grew – until all the skin looked pink and healthy and did not hurt any more. The swelling had gone down too – and it was only then I realised how bad that aspect had actually been.

One other thing I used over that fortnight was a simple ‘cream’ I made-up myself. Without the corticosteroid cream there was no slippery barrier to each inner cheek rubbing against the other and causing pain. So I used one rounded tablespoon of coconut oil (which is a solid at room temp) and mixed into it one level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, one level teaspoon of Borax and 3 drops of lavender oil (essential oil) The dry ingredients are dissolved into the warmed oil and constantly stirred – even as it begins to solidify. The essential oil added before it solidifies but after the oil has cooled a bit.  This then sets to a hard ‘cream’ – so I would scrape off a little and it would melt on my skin providing the lubrication on the sore skin with the soothing qualities of the other ingredients.

Three months down the line and there has been no more pain, I still take the 3mg dose of borax each day [1 tsp of borax dissolved in 1 litre of water – kept in fridge and only 1 – 2 teaspoons of this solution taken each day in water] and use a little of my own ‘cream’ especially after showers or baths.

This borax treatment is such a blessing that, despite the embarrassment, I have to share it – even if only one other person with Lichen sclerosus gets some relief from the symptoms – then it would be worth it.

 

Comments welcome as always – but …

If you wish to keep it private and just contact me then just reply to the email this arrived on (or if you have found this on the internet then email ann@ annfoweraker .com (closing-up the gaps) – otherwise go to the actual page and click comments to add yours

Best – Ann

 

ps – as with any chemical – do keep these safely away from children 🙂

pps weight stayed the same last week, down 1 lb this … and still happy with the new borax and bicarb hair treatment – and my hairdresser said that my hair felt thicker, and yes – this came out of the LS treatment too!

Sharing:

Something else I have never (knowingly) done before…

I don’t know about you – but I do not usually re-read novels. I may re-read a paragraph if, as I’m going through a book, I wonder if I understood properly something that was intimated, when subsequent events suggest I didn’t – but a whole novel – no. Even as a writer of fiction I tend to think that if I have read it – that’s it, done and dusted – there are far too many books out there to re-read fiction. Usually, if I have read a fiction book I have got from it all I wanted. Intrigue, thrills, laughter, a new perspective, escape … and then I look for the next novel to entertain me. nation

So, I can honestly say, I have never consciously re-read a novel. Now, I do know that I have sometimes started to re-read a novel … one that has come out in a new cover say …but as soon as I get into it and realise I know where it is going and that I have read it before I abandon it.

Just after January settled itself down, I was tidying a book shelf … !yes, unusual phenomena – but there were a few books that needed to be homed – so a bit of judicious shuffling had to happen! … and I spotted a novel by Terry Pratchett that I had not read – and I thought I had read them all over the years. Now I need to explain that #2 son had emptied his rucksack of books out onto these shelves, in what had been his room, before he set off to ‘climb around the world for a few years’ – and at some time he’d had a lot of Pratchett books too.

‘Nation’ is not part of the disc-world series, in fact it is not part of any of Terry’s other series either … it is a complete stand-alone. Weirdly, I hadn’t even heard of it. So I picked it out of the shelf and began reading. ‘Nation’ is set in a parallel world at a time we would call early Victorian, so much is recognisable and that which isn’t is just that little shift different and all this makes for an unusual and engaging book.

Mau, a boy about to become a man, has left his tribe as boys must, to go to the boys’ island, to come back a man. I do not think I will spoil anything by saying that as he leaves the island to return home a big wave comes, a tsunami … and all that follows is as a consequence of this.

I couldn’t but help think about the tsunami that hit Thailand, and neighbouring countries, on Boxing Day of 2004, and of the island of Koh Phi Phi where #4 son spent a few years, more recently.  There  70% of the buildings were flattened, and up to 40% people of the ten thousand estimated to have been on the island at the time (including tourists) were wiped off the face of the land by the wave, leaving 104 children with no parents. Only 850 bodies were recovered, the rest remain missing.

After I had finished reading it I went to my Goodreads page to write a review … and while I was looking for the correct version cover to put on the page I realised that this book had been first published under Pratchett – Children’s books, then only later more generally. I wondered why it was ‘for children’ – as are a few of the disc-world linked novels – but decided it was only because it featured young people as the main characters as it is as intricate and full of meaning as many of his other books.

Yes, full of meaning – as well as being full of ‘funny layers’ and ‘hard truth layers’ and quirky asides. If you are a Pratchett fan you will recognise all these aspects of his work. If you have never read them – or just picked up one and read a little bit here and there, you may think that his books are too weird, too ‘other’ for your taste, but I would urge you to settle down and read a few, to get to know the city of Ankh-Morpork and the Watch as a start. You do not need to know about their world view (a world that is a disc, on the backs of four elephants balanced on the back of a celestial turtle, hurtling through space – it doesn’t really feature much) you only need to know a heaving metropolis populated by the adventurous of every kind of sentient creature that exists on their disc-world – be it dwarf or troll, werewolf or human, vampire or Nobby Nobbs.thud

So it was, that, after reading Nation, and feeling in the mood for more Pratchett I had to resort to re-reading a novel. I chose THUD!.

THUD! Is an exquisite commentary on our times. If you swapped out dwarves and trolls for Muslims and Christians you could be near the mark. And history – oh, history and how it can be manipulated and cause trouble in the mouths of the wrong people. And then there’s the Watch – Ankh-Morpork’s policemen – made up of almost the right mixture of beings to represent the inhabitants of the city…  Sure – there are comic elements – in fact I know I literally laughed out loud more than once – but there … there it is – a fundamental message, glowing in the ‘dark’ of a ‘fantasy’ novel.

I have since gone on to re-read ‘Jingo!’ about War and those who actually wish for it, create it, push for it … to further their own agendas  – regardless of the consequences to the ordinary people … also somewhat pertinent.jingo

Do you re-read novels?

If so – What is your favourite – and how many times have you re-read it?

Do share – I’d love to know which novels you think are worth reading twice.

 

 

ps another 1lb down … 🙂

and hair still looking great 🙂

 

Sharing:

Cold Turkey Shampoo

No, Not a new ‘flavour’ of shampoo, but the first new attempt to use fewer nasty chemicals on my body.

Let’s face it – our skin is our largest organ AND it absorbs anything we put on it. Despite the long-held belief – which I occasionally still hear someone spout that ‘our skin is waterproof, sealing our flesh in and protecting it from everything’ – IT ISN’T.

Just think ‘nicotine patches’ – if our skin were truly impermeable these wouldn’t work – would they? They don’t contain a magic key to open the skin door.

I was reading around this when I read “shampoo and conditioners are applied to the whole body if used in either the shower or the bath” Oh! Come to think about it – so they are – and especially if you have washed your body while waiting for the shampoo or the conditioner to work and therefore rinsing those off is the the last bit you do – leaving them clinging to your skin.

So, what’s wrong with that? Nothing, if you like the idea of parabens and petrochemicals left on your skin.

Parabens are there more for the producer than for you – they are a type of preservative. They also happen to be a exonoestrogen and as such are able to mimic oestrogen in the body, and it is this factor that has shown a link to breast cancer.

Petrochemicals –  well, I don’t know about you, but I just really don’t like the idea of putting a petrochemical derivative all over my body (not now I think about it) This may not be rational – there are some studies out there that say the 1.4 dioxine is cancer linked – and others that say the exposure is minimal – you get more driving your car. What sort of concerns me is that if all these minimals in our lives are put together they they turn out to be maximal – to have those undesired effects within our body.

Now, I figure, if I can cut down on those that I CAN avoid – the ones I can’t may just remain at minimal levels.

There are also lots of other nasties in shampoo and conditioner – some to make the foam, some to coat the hair after the foaming chemicals have raised all the scales and made it tangly.

And apparently we do not need either of them – our hair and scalp was made to be self-cleaning … only it takes a while – anything from four weeks to 3 months to achieve its new equilibrium.

However, this doesn’t mean you do not clean your hair – you can go completely cold-turkey on any cleaning product and just wash with warm water – this may take the longest to transition, depending on hair type, or you can go the simple solution way – using Bicarbonate of soda and / or borax then vinegar (apple-cider) or citric acid as the neutraliser/conditioner.

I looked to my friend Krissi – a long-time advocate of No Shampoo – for advice and she favoured the bicarb solution and just rinse. However this can lighten hair and as my hair is darker [and the grey coloured with a temporary colour two shades lighter than my hair – so the coloured grey looks like highlights 😉 ] I didn’t want to just do that. (If I had blonde/ going grey hair I’d definitely do that!) [Incidentally, Krissi used to make all organic, no nasties cosmetics – and this part of her life I borrowed for the character Marian Wood in A Respectable Life – with her knowledge 🙂 ]

hair
Ready for fourth wash today

Now, my new friend, Borax [sodium tetraborate – a naturally occurring mineral] link here (more about this when I get the courage up to tell you*) in a combination with Bicarb is also recommended by various No Shampoo (also called, unpleasantly, No Poo) websites, and as I am very happy to rinse my body in borax* (you will understand when I do get to tell you, honest) I went for this. *OK up-date – deep-breath! I’ve told all about my Lichen sclerosus now – find it HERE

Having made up the mixture of 1 dessert-spoon of borax link here and 1 dessert-spoon of Bicarb [sodium bicarbonate] link here, in a litre of water I doused all my hair in it. Massaged it in*, then rinsed it under the shower, then made up another litre of warm water  with 1 teaspoon of citric acid, link here, in (you can use apple-cider vinegar instead if you prefer) . Again I massaged it in a bit then thoroughly rinsed it out. Lastly, another litre of water with a couple of spritz of almond oil, all this poured over, then rinsed out. It sounds long-winded – but really it isn’t – as you don’t have to work up a lather, and you are not coating your hair in a thick slime (conditioner) the rinsing takes barely any time at each stage. You only need a large plastic jug to make the mixture up in, and a dessert spoon and a teaspoon, to measure out the ingredients.

My hair is very fine, and there is not as much of it as I would like! Usually, for the first day after I wash it it is all fly-away and won’t stay up in a clip, but irritates and tickles my face if down … but by day three it gets greasy and hangs limply and separates into ‘strands’! I also have to give it a good condition too, other wise I can’t get a comb through it for the tangles. Generally I am only happy with my hair on day two.

What happened with the borax bicarb solution?

The first time I left the borax and bicarb on MUCH too long* (five or six minutes) as I was concerned that my hair wouldn’t get clean! And my hair came out like straw! Not the desired effect. However, it didn’t take long for it to ‘calm down’. NOW I know it is almost a case of pour it on, give the hair a good squeeze, maybe massage the scalp a little and you’re ready to rinse, less than a minute!

The second time, five days later, my hair was much better as I’d reduced the time the borax/bicarb was on my hair to about 1 min – and though my hair started out feeling heavier (less fly-away) than it would after a shampoo wash, it did not change and get any greasier for days. And, I realised it wasn’t tangly after washing – which, if I ever used just a shampoo, my hair definitely would be!

hair-2crop
After washing this morning 🙂 And it doesn’t tickle!

The third time (six days along) my hair was even more manageable again and I’ve left it a whole week before I felt like it needed washing. Today I’m going to wash it again … and though it has not quite been three weeks I think it is beginning to find its equilibrium.

I’ll continue to fill you in on this experiment as it goes along …

Anyone already transitioned to No Shampoo?

Any good advice / thoughts about ditching the commercial products?

You know I love to hear from you, do share 🙂 – Ann


** March – Hair update – Why didn’t I know about this before – It is the best my hair has ever been!!**

 

 

PS. Any links are to help readers only – I receive nothing for posting links

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing:

The perfect (weight-gain) storm

Ever since I came to you in 2012 to be my unseen cheer-leaders in my quest to lose my menopause weight-gain, I feel honour-bound to tell you what happens, good or … bad and make my confession.

So when my weight remained off a long-time past reaching my goal (in comparison to many ‘quick-fix’ weight-loss programmes) I told you. Well, it was good news, you’d expect me to.shocked-face

But now – today – I’m going to tell you how I put ON 8lbs over December… and Why – and How – I mean – that’s two pounds a week – on!  So how did I achieve this???

Firstly I didn’t do my weights exercises for all of December. I had a good reason for that – in the context of a minor catastrophe – whereby I was carrying a pyrex container of six pints of very hot milk from the microwave to the utility room (to cool it in a sink of cold water – half way stage of making yoghurt) when it started a wave motion and began to splash out of the covered bowl onto the floor – then I slipped on this as I stepped up into the utility room – the pyrex dish flew and smashed and six pints of milk sprayed itself liberally everywhere! The pyrex, as it exploded – which pyrex does when thrown on a tile floor – managed to send a piece up to slice through the flesh of my middle finger, on the top just above the first joint. I’ll draw a veil over the dripping blood and the clearing up – suffice to say – six pints of milk go a long way and broken pyrex is vicious!

Result – however, was that I couldn’t do my weights exercises as gripping anything caused the semi-circular cut of pop open [maybe it needed a stitch or two? I’d used butterfly strips to hold it together as my skin doesn’t likes stitches – usually swelling and going sore and red around them…] but the scar is very neat now – so my way was probably ok after all.christmas-food

So – no exercises = less muscle – so I didn’t even notice a weight gain the the first couple of weeks as fat on, was balanced by muscle lost… and secondly – then it was Christmas – and my total failure to stick to my usual careful watching of those SS (sugar and starch) carbs. Yes – I ate the second mincepie – the slice of cake each evening, the roast potatoes, the chocolates (an open tub of chocolates is the devil in disguise) AND even too much of the healthy foods, of which I cooked plenty

Lastly, I’d also been experimenting with gluten-free recipes through December, trying some out and making-up others, as a preparation for going gluten-lite (more about these another time) but what with having to taste (when you try or make a new recipe) and falling into the ‘Health Halo trap’ (just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean its not fattening) I was already eating more that my usual amount of carbs (even non-wheat grain carbs are still carbs!)

All of which, oddly enough, tends to prove that the weights programme and the sensible low carb eating works … and, as exercises are done at home in less than 15 minutes and as no food is banned (just kept a close eye on) it is sustainable – barring accidents!

Confession over – so what am I doing about it?

January the first, like many people, I was making my New Year resolution – of which I spoke last week – now here’s a bit of the detail:
1, return to my weight exercises,
2, return to watching the SS carbs carefully,
3, to SLOW it all down – to eat with more consciousness – slowing down the consumption, tasting the food more – chewing more. (difficult when the other half is a very fast eater and seems impatient for his pud – AND frustratingly – is one of those people who can eat what they like and stay slim!!)
4, Only eating if I feel hungry. (the first couple of days after a New Year’s Eve and Day over-eating I hardly felt like eating anything – so I ate minimally just for those days {frowned upon by the other-half} until my body started telling me it was ready) And it has begun to work – for as of Monday this week I had lost 3lbs of that gain – and hope the rest follows … I will keep you posted.

Any other confessions out there?

Did you take your eye off the (weight) ball over Christmas?

Do share, confession is good for the soul  😉

Sharing:

Enjoyed this blog? Please share :)