Wednesday 27 February 2013

Thinking about Food

After last week's blog post poem I've been giving 'stomach-gate' some serious thought. I recently saw an advertisement on the TV for a Food Smart - Change 4 Life campaign. I signed up and received a bright yellow pop-up recipe book with lots of healthy recipe ideas. I even downloaded their 'Be Food Smart' app on my iPad... and yet... and yet...

Why do I keep finding myself sitting beside an empty cake/chocolate wrapper with incriminating crumbs around my mouth? Is it enough to blame it on comfort eating? Is it? No, I don't think so either.

One of the main messages in the Food Smart campaign is to cook from scratch as there is so much hidden salt, sugar and saturated fats in ready-made foods. I do usually cook from scratch, except when we go for the occasional restaurant meal. Restaurant food isn't the healthiest way to eat. I watched a famous chef on the TV the other evening making a 'really tasty' shepherds pie. He used equal amounts of butter and potato when making his mash. Gaaah!! All that cholesterol!

My major problem is snacking in-between meals. The Food Smart campaign suggests exchanging chocolate and cake for fresh fruit but I know, truly in my heart I know, that I wouldn't stick to it. I love fruit but I have it as well as the chocolate and cake and so I'm going to try and change the ratio bit by teeny bit and see if I can kid my body into accepting the 'fruity' in place of the 'sugary'. Well, it's worth a try and it's recommended in today's Guardian in this article Healthy Food: can you train yourself to like it?
Look! I'm even experimenting with new fruit.
Anyone know how you eat sharon fruit?
It's a bit solid!
As for exercise, the suggestion in my poem that I do sit-ups is now out of the question as I've pulled something very painful in my lower back. [You see, I said it was intolerable!] And so I'm going to start walking more and see if that makes a difference. Watch this space!

What do you do when/if a similar stomach-gate looms large in your life?

Monday 18 February 2013

I'm an A to Z Friend

This April will be my third A to Z Challenge and it's going to be especially exciting as, this year I’m also lending a hand behind the scenes. Last year, with well over 2000 bloggers taking part, the admin became unwieldy so A to Z Friends [like me!] have been drafted in to help. 

My team leader is Damyanti from Amlokiblogs,

Her team includes Misha from My First BookMina from Some Dark Romantic, Pam from Unconventional Librarian and me of course!

And here is my official badge:

One of the things we’ve been asked to check on is whether participants have posted up their A to Z 2013 Badge yet. You can see mine top right and it links you straight to the A to Z Challenge page so if you need to get your badge then that’s the place to go. The application list is there too and it’s still open so if you haven’t already signed up, what are you waiting for? Get over there, sign up and make sure you don’t miss out.

[For those who don't know what I'm talking about, we create posts in alphabetical order six days a week during April. We visit lots of other A to Zers and they visit us.]

This is what I get from the A to Z:
  • I love writing out the lists pre-April and planning the month’s posts.
  • My number of followers increases.
  • I get to meet a lot of interesting bloggers
  • I’ve made many blogging friends through the A to Z and some have become real as well as virtual friends.
  • I get a headache when people post up 1000+ wordy posts each day. I want to get round as many people as possible and so I won’t have time to read your carefully crafted 1000+ words, not during April.
In 2011 I wrote each post using exactly 40 words. I even made up a name for them. I called them Quadragintals. I’m not going to impose such a tight restriction on myself again but I promise to keep my A to Z posts snappy and to the point. I'll be revealing my topic shortly. All I will say is that I'm enjoying researching it just as much, if not more, than last year's Nostalgia posts.

If you ARE taking part:  Have you planned your A to Z  yet? 

If you're NOT taking part:  What do you like [or dislike] about the A to Z Challenge month?

Friday 15 February 2013

Have we stopped listening to older people?

The headline in The Guardian on Tuesday 13th February said,

      “Francis Report shows we have stopped listening to older people.”

The Francis Report, published on 6th February 2013, sets out 290 recommendations for improvements in the NHS. This was in response to the neglect and unacceptably high death rate in the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust hospitals.

One of those recommendations is that there needs to be more of a culture of care in the nursing profession.

I wonder how many experts it took to come to that conclusion. I hate to repeat myself but two years ago I was screaming - literally screaming because my Mum was being neglected! I was screaming about the fact that nurses in charge of caring for my mother, were not caring. From where I was sitting, standing or pacing up and down, they were not rushing around caring for other patients either. They were propping up their work station, chatting, drinking coffee, or they were nowhere to be seen. I accept that this was only one ward in a huge hospital but I saw it happening again and again and it infuriated me.

I blogged about my series of official complaints two years ago. I even got as far as two telephone interviews with the Chief Executive of the local NHS Trust. He had the grace to be shocked by my revelations, or perhaps this wasn’t grace. Perhaps it was political distancing. Was his reaction a part of the culture of fear highlighted in the Francis Report?
  • Let us stop, as a nation, being afraid to complain.

  • Let us start, as human beings, to listen sympathetically to the needs of others.

  • Let us hope that if we witness such neglect in the future, we can report it in the confident knowledge that there will be no repercussions on us or on our elderly, hospitalised relatives and that someone will listen, someone will care and someone will do something about it.

[I shall now step off my soap box and stop shouting... for the time being.]

Thursday 14 February 2013

My Life in a Card

An awkward child,
I was in awe of those huge red cards
The boxed variety with the satin, padded hearts
That my sister received in the post.

I soon learnt the game
Not signing the card
Looking at his face
Wondering if he’d guessed.

Before I knew why or how
The card had lost its meaning.
I’d buy it in-between feeding the babies
Doing the school run
until I knew
without a doubt
that my marriage
was broken
And it would take more
much more
than a red heart
on a card
for it to mend.

I never planned it but love came again
And all the better for the passing of time.
Two cards on the mantelpiece
Signed because we know.
A teddy with a red bow
A meal at home for two.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mr A.

Monday 11 February 2013

Preparing for A to Z

I love lists. 
I love writing them. 
I love reading them. 
I love them so much that I’ve written a blog post for the A to Z Challenge Blog about this list obsession of mine. It’s called '10 Reasons for Loving Lists'. Do pop over and have a read.

It may be over a month away, but I’ve already started preparing my posts for this April’s A to Z. It’s because I love making lists and this year’s post will rely heavily on lists… but I’m not saying any more about it here because I've said it all on the A to Z Challenge Blog.

See you over there... but before you go, if you fancy having a look at my last year's A to Z Nostalgia posts you can visit them here.

Friday 8 February 2013

The Weight of the World

I received an email this morning, unsolicited, from an organisation claiming to address major world issues. They talked about the terrible plight of women in India who are afraid to walk along the streets for fear of being attacked. They talked of saving the bee who is vital to our existence but is slowly being poisoned by our use of neonicotinoid pesticides. They reminded us of the continued existence of sweat shops and their use of young children who should be learning and enjoying their childhood. The sorrows of the world are both endless and unfathomable.

But this email, unsolicited, then asked me to donate money. I hesitated before sending it to the Spam box. I know that all these troubles exist. I know that my money could help. But I’d rather donate to one or a number of these worthwhile causes by sending my money to recognised charities rather than give it away online to an emailer, an unsolicited emailer.

It’s sad that we live in a world where so many injustices take place. Closer to home there have recently been yet more revelations about neglect in hospitals, people being left for days in their own urine and excrement, frail elderly left to die of dehydration for the want of nurses who care.

It puts all our hype about Richard III into perspective. Even so, I’m pleased to read that York has backed down and Leicester will now be able to keep his body for reburial in Leicester Cathedral. At least that’s a good result but how do we go about tackling all the real injustices of the world? We could start by caring about each other rather than just ourselves, or am I asking for too much?

Tuesday 5 February 2013

An Archaeologist's Dream

It truly is an archaeologist’s dream to find a complete skeleton in the first trench opened that turns out to be a missing King of England. Phillipa Langley, from the Richard III Society, personally raised over £10,000 to finance this dig. Many of the local archaeologists admit now that they thought it was a lost cause but they were wrong. The exact spot that Phillipa Langley had identified as having been where the choir of the Greyfriars Priory once stood, was THE spot.

Reconstructed head using scans of the skull.
We’ve had time to get used to the idea but even so, yesterday, with the confirmation of the DNA results, the whole City was buzzing. Everywhere we went people were saying, “Have you heard the news? It’s really him!” For those of you who want the finer details, they are well documented on the University of Leicester website so I won’t repeat them here.

The people of Leicester have long had a connection with Richard III. King Richard’s Road is a busy main street running along the West of the City. There are Richard III schools, Richard III pubs and Bosworth Field is only a few miles out of town. Now we learn that his body will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral, beneath an inscribed stone that already bears his name and there will be a Richard III Visitors’ Centre opening very soon. We're really looking forward to welcoming lots of new visitors to the City. 

But there is one thing I must insist upon… when you come to visit, don’t forget to contact me [You can send me a tweet or mention it on this blog] and we’ll meet up for a coffee and cake. Now that IS a result!