Monday, 24 June 2013

Walk like a Duck........Bad Habits!!

As the years go by you wonder why some of us seem more prone to various joint malfunctions.  At school we were taught to stand tall, shoulders back, tummy in.  I can't remember anyone talking about our feet and their position when walking.

I have had trouble with my knees since my mid 30s and I have managed their troublesome nature to a now better relationship.  This came about mainly because of a trip to a superb physiotherapist who specialised in sports injuries.......the sports aspect does not relate to me :)

However why does relate to me is that I tend to walk like a duck..........because I suppose it is comfortable.  I am not the worst offender I say defensively.  However now that I am aware of this aberration, I notice everyone else's shortcomings!  My physio talked about my knee problems and the way I walk and told me if I want to get my body and anatomy back into alignment I would have to change my ways!!!  .....and this would improve my knee problems considerably!!

This advice which I readily accept has been reinforced by my son.  When he follows me he often calls out to me "12  o'clock".  This can be quite irritating as my husband also joins the chorus.

However thinking about the clock makes me pay attention to the way I am walking does feel unnatural to me to walk in this parallel fashion particularly after years of abuse.......but it has made a difference - I have less trouble with the joints. I still have to remain vigilant as there is a tendency to return to the old and familiar despite its negative consequences .

Being good is not easy is it!  What do you think?

Saturday, 15 June 2013


About 20 years ago I had to have a hysterectomy.  At such a young age I was advised to have an HRT implant.  I must admit that following my operation and taking HRT my life and well being has increased considerably.

Every 6 months I see my consultant and have a top up implant and also have a breast examination. Every 18 months I have a mammogram. So I am well monitored!  Of course I had the concerns most women have about using HRT and certainly some of the negative articles  over the years have made me reassess from time to time.  However my consultant has always provided me with good realistic advice and I have continued to feel the benefits.

 I have found this recent article in The Telegraph reassuring. It talks about the benefit/risks and about recent research which provides a different perspective on that which has gone before

Not that this positive news provides room for complacency - I still believe we have to remain vigilant and monitoring is vital if you are taking HRT longer term as I am.

This is very much an individual choice and you have to conduct your own research and seek advice.
On balance I feel that so long as I can minimise the risks in terms of monitoring, diet and exercise I feel more or less comfortable with continuing with the treatment.

What is your experience of taking HRT?

Sunday, 9 June 2013

National Portrait and National Gallery

I never grow tired of going round our great museums.  Last week we went to the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery.  We have been so many times but each time we revisit we are amazed at the fact that there is always something new to see or something we have missed.  My particular interest is the Portrait Gallery and I love to scrutinise at close range and pick up the various techniques which have been used.  The most impressive paintings were Dame Kelly Holmes by Craig Wylie   (more like a photograph, I prefer a painting which provides for interpretation but this is truly superb nonetheless) and my favourite from many times of viewing - Freud's self portrait.

We also saw the Duchess of Cambridge's portrait.  When this was first unveiled I felt that maybe the artist had come in for undue criticism but having seen it .......for my part I was quite dismayed.  There were elements of likeness but the spirit and personality seemed to be missing. The features seemed to be out of proportion particularly the nose.  The pressure on these artists must be enormous and we are all so capable of providing criticism.  It really is worth going and see what people are talking about.

What we did comment on on our visit last week was about the volume of tourists.  We have to pay to go to museums abroad, ours are free to everyone.  I can appreciate that the Government want these great exhibits to be available to all but we have to be realistic and practical.

If everyone who entered these buildings paid just £1  it would go someway to cover a little of the enormous overheads.  You could exclude schools, students and senior citizens and still have change.  It really is worth thing about!!

Friday, 7 June 2013

How many pairs of shoes does a girl need?

Do you know how many pairs of shoes you own?  If you count them you may be in for a shock!  I have collected shoes over the years and some I can't bear to be parted from ........but others have been selected for  minor culls from time to time.

In my youth I would wear high stilettos despite being 5ft 8 inches which often took me over the height of my escorts.  My husband is taller than me but some of my shoes present a challenge.  He really loves to see me in high heels however.......

I realise that as I get older my ability to stand for long periods of time has diminished significantly and so the really high ones are reserved for special occasions.  I have invested in mid heels and also a set of flatties.....and the ones you can bend and carry in a handbag for emergency foot pain!

Having a shoe fettish is a very feminine thing and its interesting to see that no matter what your walk of life the appeal of fashionable shoes is irresistible.  There are some however who think this is sooooo superficial  and would never dream of succumbing ......good for them......... There was an article in the paper the other day from Professor Mary Beard highly intelligent lady who by her own admission is not really a fashionista.....but when it comes to shoes she can hold her own!

I decided to do a shoe audit recently and I was amazed how many pairs I have.....different heights, colours and appeal.  I house them mainly in perspex boxes so I can choose what I want for the day.

I have dabbled with most of the labels....Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Ferragamo, Zanotti, Miu Miu, Chanel - all of which I treasure...........

so how many pairs do I have?   ......I stopped counting at 70........  lust for shoes does not diminish with age!!!!

other article from a mature lovely lady....

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Flower Power...........

Isn't it fantastic having a sunny day ?  Never thought we would get one.  One of the most frustrating things in a garden is that the plants and flowers never reach their full potential if they miss their biological timeslot.  We all know how disappointing it is when the climate is unkind particularly with frosts wiping out the blooms on magnolias and camellias.

Thankfully we are now enjoying the fruits of out labour in our garden.  We moved into a new build house 7 years ago and had to start from scratch.  My husband and I mused at the time about the number of gardens we had had to tackle and never fully had the benefits. We do intend this time to stay put and to tend rather than develop!

It has been a challenge trying to get the garden into reasonable shape.  We have extracted bricks, breeze blocks and other general builders rubble.  Even after 7 years we are unearthing rubbish  - you wonder why some plants don't survive and then you find out why!

Gardening is so rewarding. When I was working I found it very therapeutic and helpful in reducing stress levels.  Now in retirement it is another interest, an interest which enhances our property and gives us great satisfaction and a great environment in which we can relax and keeps us fit!

Our standard wisteria coming out at last!!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Secrets of a longer life!

According to an article today the secret to a longer life has 4 elements

1.  Regular Exercise

2.  Eating a Mediterranean - style diet

3.  Keeping a normal weight

4.  Not smoking

Theses are the findings of a large study by researchers at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Few surprises here really.  With such strong messages from this study and from all the other findings from other research we read daily you would think that the penny would drop and we would look to improving our daily lives.

I am minded of a situation I used to see regularly when I attended my last gym which was quite extensive as was....... the car park!  Some would turn up in their gear and almost come to blows with others to try and get the parking slot the nearest to the gym entrance so they wouldn't have far to walk  when they had finished their session..........

another anecdote - a  colleague decided to go on a diet and eat her breakfast at work.  She brought her own cereal bowl which wasn't small and filled it to the top with bran flakes and then covered with milk to the rim.  She devoured this in seconds and felt she was eating healthily.  She then had a latte......because .....yes you have guessed it - it was healthy.  When it was pointed out to her how many calories she had consumed before 9am she was shocked.  She then started to look more closely at the calories she was consuming in a day and it was close to 3000!

The harm smoking does to your body is well known often with fatal consequences.  Smoking also has an impact on appearance. Greyness in the skin and premature wrinkles particularly lines around the mouth.

Do we ever learn..............


Saturday, 1 June 2013

Support Local Markets!

It really is worth supporting local markets - such variety and  at reasonable prices. You also have the hustle and bustle and bartering which adds to the atmosphere.

Yesterday we bought this delicious Focha olive bread for £2 - it was so big we ate half and froze the rest!

also we chose 2 cheeses from an extensive range - a Stilton and a fantastic goats cheese

Couldn't resist these really fresh peppers - cost £1

We certainly will be making a return visit!

austerity solution!

I have listened to to people talking about austerity and food banks  I have  in the past have had a time when you do feel moments of despair trying to make ends meet. The lessons of my mum and cooking from basics helped in overcoming many of the challenges. It is a myth to think that people who have little money need to be less healthy. What is needed today is basic cooking.

I often feel that in the supermarkets they provide a range of products which match the needs but do not address the versatility and thriftiness of local markets.

Today we went to St Albans Market and bought these items which were far cheaper than the supermarkerts and they will be more cost effective for those who cook and freeze leftovers

cost £1.00
enormous cabbage £1.00


Why am I highlighting this today ..... today we were  pleasantly surprised by the range of products of the market and also how much cheaper than the supermarkets.
If you are prepared to invest just a little time and energy you can provide a good meal at reasonable costs.

Here is a flavour of things we bought.....above and below!!!

one bunch bought in supermarket last week £1.00 5 bunches £1.00
Enormous cabbage £1.00 last week supermarket very small cabbage £0.95

shop wisely, have basic skills , care enough to have enthusiasm to make a difference !!! Do not rely on convenience!!! Eating  healthily has nothing to do with having more money it is to do with a will to do things differently and not rely on taking easy option!