Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Life versus Euthanasia and the Miracle of Christmas

Christmas is coming and my Mother has been enjoying a Christmas Fayre in her residential home, listening to the local school choir carol concert and to spending time with her family and opening presents.

It's a far cry from Christmas 2008 when her life and ours had a much grimmer outlook.  My sister and I had spent five years nursing her in her own home and pleading for carers and nurses through the social services .  During 2006/7 I managed to get the social services to send an officer to assess her for care .

They bring a big fat booklet of tickbox questions, sit right in front of the elderly person they are assessing and ask, in a demeaning fashion, can you toilet yourself?, can you make a cup of tea?, can you pull up your own nickers and do up your own buttons?  If you are compos mentis and have pride as my Mother has, you tell them Yes to every question even though that is not the truth.  They don't use their eyes to determine that the grossly swollen legs and feet and walking frame means she can't walk far, that her shaking hands which can barely hold a cup mean she couldn't make a cup of tea or do up her own buttons.   They have a limited budget, they are instructed to give as little care as possible, so they encourage the elderly person to tell them how good they are managing on their own, rate them as low in need on the scale as possible and then go away.  A few weeks later they write you a letter saying your elderly parent is fit and well, doesn't need care, and they wish you all the best.  Budget saved for another year.

From that first abortive bad experience of an assessment I learned that it was necessary for me to be present when a social services officer was doing an assessment, it was necessary for me to express my opinion on my Mother's needs and abilities or lack of them and most importantly to insist that I signed that tick box report they sat , self importantly, putting together, only when I was satisfied the answers reflected the truth of my Mother's situation not their interpretation of it.

But before I arrived at that stark understanding of how to deal with the uncaring adult care social services my Mother made her first attempt at suicide. She was in pain, she was virtually immobile and she wanted to be independent in her own home or she wanted to be dead. I found her collapsed on her bed from an overdose, I called the ambulance, did CPR  and got her into hospital . Two days later when she finally came round we sat and hugged and cried and she promised she wouldn't do it again. I told her she had children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and they all loved her, God wasn't ready, he must still have a purpose for her and that she must wait on him to say when her time was up.

Social Services, called in by the hospital this time to reluctantly do another  assessment decided maybe their budget would stretch to putting someone in morning and evening to get her up and put her to bed.   In between we two daughters and her elderly brother were in and out every day, cooking meals, toiletting, washing, cleaning and trying to cheer her up, mostly to no avail. I spent endless hours trying to persuade her into a wheelchair I had bought, just to get her out of the house for a walk or perhaps to the nearby library or chapel but her depression and agoraphobia had become so deep , getting her to even eat was becoming difficult, to leave the house was impossible.

I didn't see suicide attempt no,2 coming but I should have done.  I didn't find her, a carer did, and she was already in hospital by the time I heard about it. Did it force me to listen to the arguments for and against euthanasia? Yes. I'm still against it. I can't see how it can be right to take a life when that life can still be useful and valuable.  Again we hugged and we cried and she promised yet again that she wouldn't make another attempt at suicide.

The 2nd suicide attempt  prompted the social services after much agonising and worrying about their budgets to put in an additional nurse in the mornings and a carer three times a day. Mum called them back and told them she had rethought her situation and wanted to go into residential care. More endless tick boxes manipulated to give as little care as possible, another letter saying despite her virtual immobility she didn't qualify for residential care. Privately the officer told me they were keeping as many people as possible out of residential care, they simply hadn't got the money. Truth is of course they were paying over the top salaries and expenses to too many executive councillors and senior pen pushers; frontline care was not a priority and still isn't!

As best I could, whilst looking after the needs of the rest of my family, I virtually camped on her doorstep. I'd gone home for a couple of hours one afternoon to cook a late tea knowing her carer would be in to settle her into bed, when the inevitable happened and we ended up with suicide attempt no.3. The carer called me in a panic finding the house in darkness. I instinctively knew what had happened.  And there she was again collapsed and unconscious on her bed. When I stood by her bed rubbing her cold hand through my shaking fingers I ran the euthanasia arguments, she had spoken of many times, through my mind, Should I call the ambulance or should I sit by her bed through the night and let her slip away?  I've no idea whether I was right or wrong, but this was my Mother and I knew if I did that it would leave a scar on my soul I couldn't live with. I called the ambulance and started CPR under instructions from the emergency operator.

After this attempt, they put Mum, despite the fact that she was in her nineties, into the psychiatric ward at the hospital . She was there from October and through Xmas.  They were the grimmest days of my life and hers I suspect. Back came the social services and their endless soulless assessments that refused to offer any useful help.

But one thing had changed. Me. My Mum had been to hell and back. She was still with us by some miracle. That Christmas she asked me to buy her, for a Christmas present, a trip to the Digitas Clinic in Switzerland. I wanted her in caring residential care and that was what I was going to get her. I just didn't know, during those dark bleak days of winter, how to do it.

In early January with Mum still incarcerated in a psychiatric unit and saying only that she wanted to stay there until she died, my sisters and I went into a meeting with an adult social services officer desperate for a solution.  He wanted to put her into an apartment block, three floors up, where carers would be in a ground floor office on site and on bell call 24 hours a day. We had found a brand new residential home, cosy and comfortable, with 24 hour carers and nursing care and close to her old home and we wanted her there.

It was the endless argument over money not needs, again, of course. Except now , having researched, I had an ace up my sleeve.  I had been and inspected the apartment he talked about. It had lovely wide opening windows out of which my mother could and would have hurled herself at the first opportunity.

'Did the adult social services' I asked ' have a Duty of Care to protect my mother from her suicidal tendencies and which her consultant had assured me she would be confirming to them in writing?  And as a consequence did they have a legal responsibility to ensure that she was housed in a safe place with proper 24 hour care?'  

He halted in the middle of ticking his endless boxes and his face fell.  And as easy as that our case was won and Mum had her place in a residential home where we knew she would be safe and well,

It was only half the battle of course as Mother hated it to start with. But gradually she came out of her shell, started having a regular hairdresser and let them manicure her nails.  She made friends and started to enjoy some of the entertainments that come and go. When she roused herself to tell the chef how to make proper gravy and decent custard and then to advise the visiting vicar that they wanted their old hymns not his choice of modern one's I knew we'd turned the corner!

A few weeks ago I took her out, with the aid of a wheelchair taxi, Christmas shopping.  The first time she'd been out around the shops in more than ten years.  She's developed a passion for new clothes and I've promised we'll go back around the sales when weather permits.

But for me the best moments have come this week. Her grandchildren and great children are visiting her in twos and threes (more than that and she gets too tired). She cried when she told me Monday that a great-grandson visiting Sunday looked just like her grandson who had died young and how pleased she was when he talked about his university plans for the future.  We laughed at the antics of her two small american great- grandsons with their broad accents and boisterous behavior who've flown in from Washington DC especially to see her. And yesterday as we sat by the blue and silver Christmas tree and talked about Mum's previous despair about her great grand-daughter YoungNell's medical problems she actually grinned at YoungNell's own tomboy plans for the future; her love of yachting and kayaking and hopes of becoming a marine biologist or some such thing.

Mum is finally at ease in her mind. She is interested in and enjoying her large and thriving family growing around her. She has become a true Matriarch , not sure I'll ever attain such status!  Life, good and bad, is going to continue through her family for a very long time and hopefully she'll be around for more Christmas's to chart their ups and downs.

For us the question of euthanasia remains. Were we right or were we wrong to deny her the right to end her life?  For us, as a family, I think, enjoying this Christmas season together as we all are,  it was the right decision. And it is always about a family and not just one individual. But others will think differently no doubt.

Merry Christmas Folks! Best Wishes for 2012!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Lazy Sunday and a Tribute to Postmen Everywhere

Forced out of bed from my lazy cuppa tea by the doorbell.  Xmas presents ordered from Amazon Thursday arriving today courtesy of Royal Mail. Very efficient. The Postman is always more important to us at Xmas than any other time of year and has been for generations.

It started me thinking about the way the last government decimated our Rural Communities and Post Offices and wondering whether now, and only now, if they are beginning to recover. At least I hope they are.

In 1999 before the axe fell Royal Mail/Post Office turned in payments to the Treasury of £310million from it's profits. They were vibrant and viable and had been built over the centuries by amazing entrepreneurs with foresight, something the Blair and Brown governments utterly lacked.  

The Royal Mail/Post Office  has the most amazing history that spanned the entire world and made the service the envy of the planet.  After the advent of the Penny Black and the introduction of the business model that allowed those wanting to send letters and parcels to buy stamps to pay the cost; countries everywhere copied our great idea.

The postal and letter service, started in the 1630's, operated differently.  It required those receiving letters and parcels to pay the cost of their delivery on the doorstep. You could really annoy someone you didn't like by sending them unsolicited letters and parcels for which they then had to pay.

But the best bit about their history for me was how the poor paranoid Cromwell employed men to work nights opening mail before it was delivered in the hope of finding those folks plotting against him!  Lovely Man!

Anyway it's had some difficult years struggling to survive and I hope now that Online Shopping, which is growing in leaps and bounds, is going to provide the profitable lifeline it needs to rebuild the business.

We've lost the milkman delivering to our doors, I'd hate to lose the Postman!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Failing Education & Rising Youth Unemployment. Who is To Blame?

So youth unemployment has increased by 67000 this summer and is now running at 1.02 million.

During the 1990's Youth unemployment steadily declined from 700000 to reach a low of 475000 in 1996/7. GCSE's and A Levels, back then, were the respected qualifications valued by employers and universities. From 1997 to 2006/7 Youth unemployment figures increased marginally from 475000 to 512000.

In 2003/2004 the government of the day began changing the education system producing a report entitled  Every Child Matters. A grand sounding strategy that never, in reality, produced any grand results and I know having struggled through those years with YoungNell,  fighting every inch of the way to get proper access to healthcare and education for her and having to pay for it out of our dwindling pension, when the NHS or the education system let us down, which it frequently did and still does,

During this time, NVQ's and BTEC's, previously only available to adults in the workplace who wanted to boost specific areas of work knowledge , were brought in for 14 years olds and between 2003/2006 the uptake on these qualifications by 14 to 18 year olds rocketed by 260% with a matching big reduction in GCSE's and A Levels being studied.

Children with these dumbed down qualifications, which they had been told were the equivalent of GCSE's and A Levels although they weren't , began to enter the workplace in 2007 to 2009. Employers began to complain that youth applicants for jobs had poor educational skills and unsurprisingly between 2007 and 2009, on Ed Balls watch as Secretary of State for Education, youth unemployment exploded upwards from 512000 to 775000.  In 2010 , just before the election , it was 800000 and rising.

Of course I wouldn't have known any of this , in line with most parents I suspect , but for YoungNell.

In Year 8, 2009/2010, her 2nd year of comprehensive, or Academy as it had then become, YoungNell had had a prolonged spell of illness and her school grades were falling. Worried, I took myself off to talk to her Head of Year.

  "Not to worry"  he said complacently  "in this day and age GCSE's aren't everything , plenty of vocational qualifications to be had".

I asked for an explanation never having heard of vocational qualifications.  I didn't like the answer. NVQ's in pedicures and manicures, BTEC's in personal development on why smoking and drugs are bad etc.  Did they sit exams in these subjects ? was my next question.

 "Well , largely tick box type tests"  came back the self satisfied reply "easy peasy, everybody gets a pass"  

I'm afraid the interview ended on a fraught note with me stating that I expected the school to educate YoungNell to GCSE A to C grade standard in the core subjects of Maths, English, the Sciences, History, Geography and French and ensure she was entered for the exams.  Head of House said that was a school matter and not for me, They would tell me what exams she would study for and take, not the other way around,    Hmmm. We parted with frosty politeness and I went away to plan my next battle move.

I researched the comments of children who had 'graduated' with BTEC's in 2009/2010 and found there was a lot of despair amongst students and parents as children coming out of school with these "GCSE equivalents" ,with plans for further education or jobs were going nowhere.  One of the comments made by a disappointed BTEC student published online on TES sticks in my mind :

"Don't do BTEC's or listen to anyone who tells you to take them up. They will tell you they are the equivalent to a GCSE.  They are worthless.  6th Forms do not value BTEC's whatsoever"       I could publish a hundred or more of these sad comments just like this one, about how neither colleges nor employers valued the wretched BTEC's,  but this one says it all.

Next step, interview with the Principal!

Nice man, not used to dealing with a grandparent with set opinions rather than a more easily influenced parent I suspect.  To break the ice he offered me a very decent cup of tea and biscuit and we sat and talked trivia for a few minutes. By the time we got to the nitty gritty he realised I'd done my research and my homework not to mention made my mind up.  I produced statistics for the failure of many BTEC's and statistics for the support of GCSE's , then I explained unequivocally that we had committed a fair portion of our annual pension for the foreseeable future and employed KS3 and would eventually employ KS4 tutors, privately,  in all the GCSE core subjects that we considered were important. If the school was not able to enter YoungNell in the GCSE exams when the time came then we would be finding another means by which to enter her. He smiled rather nicely, spoke enthusiastically about his school and conceded that of course the school would support us in our ambitions for YoungNell.  They would do everything possible to work with the tutors we were employing.  Oh and the school never meant to imply that our views would not be taken into account.  Ha! At least we parted with an amicable handshake.

We've moved on a year since then and education between state and private tutors is going swimmingly for YoungNell.   Meantime Gove, the current Secretary of State for Education, commissioned the Wolf report into education which was published in June 2011.  It has completely vindicated my views on vocational qualifications in schools and I have to admit I had to strongly resist the urge to run off a copy and sent it to YoungNell's school with an 'I told you so' letter..

The Wolf Report said two things of great interest to parents & grandparents who are the primary carers of grandchildren .

1.  Perverse incentives for schools have encouraged the teaching of vocational subjects which attract most performance points for the schools but which do not provide the pupil with a qualification that offers a route into further education or employment.

2.  The report recommends that GCSE in English and Maths should be taught to all pupils and that the choice of courses should be what's best for the pupil not what boosts the school's performance tables.

Until I had read this report I had not understood that the performance indicators put in place for schools were also acting, detrimentally against pupils interests. How many parents have?

So who is to blame for the debacle of poor educational skills and rising youth unemployment?

Is it the fault of loony politicians who shamelessly experimented with our educational system without a care for what was likely to happen to childrens futures?

Is it the fault of teachers who must have known they were, and still are, turning children out of school with worthless qualifications that will not get them into further education or a job?

Or is it the fault of parents/grandparents who simply accepted the words of the other two and believed their children were being properly educated for a bright future?

Well I don't know.  But now that I do understand the tragedy that has unfolded I intend to stay closely engaged with YoungNell's education for the duration.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Miracle of the Humble Poppy.

The other day I read an article in the mainstream UK press that said the poppy was nothing more than a fashion icon worn by folks seeking attention. Then there was the protest group who said they would be burning poppies on the 11th because they symbolised a glorification of war. And to cap it all there was the insensitive, out of touch with reality, FIFA , who said it could not be worn by footballers because it was a political symbol!

How have we so lost touch with the origins of how the humble poppy came to be the miracle that gave hope to ex servicemen abandoned by their own government? Have we forgotten their sacrifice, the tragedy  of their suffering, their despair, heroism, laughter, humour and their compassion?  These were young men between the ages of 19 and 39,  who were conscripted on all sides of the conflict, forced by law to go and train for 10 weeks and then shipped out to fight in the trenches. 10million soldiers died in WW1 - most of those never found the comfort even of a grave. Although as I found touring the battlefields of Belgium, even today the bones of those men are still being discovered during autumn ploughing, when they are then given the respect of a proper burial .

A few years ago I went to Passchendaele where my Grandfather died on the night of 7th October 1917 , the Somme/Albert where an Uncle aged 19 died on 3rd September 1916 and Jussy in France where an Uncle died aged 23 as the Germans broke through the Canal in the dawn hours of the 23rd March 1918.   No bodies were ever found for these men - all that remains are carved names on memorials. The sisters, wives and mothers were left to just carry on with very little acknowledgement of their loss. Stoicism it was called at the time,. Doing your duty for your country and your family. Politicians weren't very caring. Someone wrote a book entitled Lions Led By Donkeys.  It was true then and it's true now.

Anyway I ended up in Ypres.  It had been flattened in the 1914-1918 conflict and was painstakngly rebuilt after WW1, in it's old image by locals, so that it looks exactly as it did before that War.  It is a beautiful place.    If it suffered any damage in WW2 that also has been rebuilt.

In the perfect replica of the original medieval Cloth Hall I found the amazing ' In Flanders Field' Museum that commemorates every nation that fought in World One on all sides.  I originally thought, no doubt because I was told it as a kid that the Germans over ran Belgium and fought the English and the French.

How wrong I was!  The Museum is a fantastic place . A real eye opener on truth.   Some sixty plus nationalities, all colours , all creeds, all religions, a myriad of languages, amazing customs, intriguing foods,  cooked and shared over the western front campfires, music and instruments from every continent.   Some fighting on one side, some fighting on the other. All suffering the same hopes and deprivations, the same desire to get the chance to go home alive.

Was there prejudice?  I expect so.But from the Museum I got the feeling there was more fellowship amongst the carnage and hardship, than prejudice.

Anyway that brings me to the Poppy and how out of this dreadful war it became a symbol of hope.

10 million soldiers may have died in the conflict but millions more were left, maimed, blinded, traumatised to find their way home to countries that had no plans for how to deal with them.    Returning American ex-servicemen adopted the red cornfield poppy , which had bloomed along the trenchlines snaking through Belgium and France to the borders if Switzerland, throughout the war, as their symbol.

Meanwhile millions of British ex- servicemen struggling home faced a grim task of no jobs, no medical care for their injuries and trauma, no homes in some cases.  The UK government was virtually blind and deaf to their problems and immense poverty and hardship followed.

In 1921, ex-servicemen's clubs across the UK, appalled at what their members were facing, united to form the British Legion to raise money and help those the government was not helping.   An American ex serviceman suggested the British Legion adopt their red cornfield poppy as their symbol and as a means of fund raising.    The British Legion went one better and set up factories in the UK to make the poppy and employ maimed and injured ex servicemen who could not find work anywhere else.

The first Poppy Day Appeal raised £100,000 plus in 1922 - a huge sum of money then.  In 2010 the Poppy Appeal raised £30million and the British Legion has gone from strength to strength now having four state of the art rehabilitation centres that deal with injured soldiers.

The British Legion still fulfils it's original goal which is ' to respect the dead and care for the living' and it is that sentiment that the poppy represents.

So No! it isn't a fashion statement, it isn't a symbol of warmongering and it isn't political. What it is, is the ultimate symbol in how ordinary men and women can create, from compassion, an enduring organisation that   is founded only to care, support and help.

So when you see them collecting for the Poppy Appeal , please give generously.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Bread and Exercise!

© Copyright Trish Steel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

There's nothing like homemade bread. Our ancestors have been baking it for generations and I always feel bread baking puts me in touch with my historic roots and with nature.

One of my favourite stories about bread baking comes from Pliny the Elder who wrote that the Iberians (ancient spaniards) used the yeasty foam from beer to produce a good light bread.  I'd like to have tried that! Another medieval method for producing yeast was to mix wheat bran steeped in wine and then ferment. I think old breads made from these methods must have had amazing flavour.

For lots of years now I have been making my bread with a bread maker. 100's of recipes and endless varieties.    Lazy - but machines these days make great bread, even if they are noisy when you set the timer for kneading in the middle of the night and then forget to shut the kitchen door!

Anyway, when I decided 2011 was my year to get fit, I began to get a bit disillusioned with having to add fat and sugar and oil to bread recipes and started looking for another way to make bread the old fashioned way with just the four basic ingredients of yeast, water, flour and salt.

The following recipe is one I've tried and tested many times now and I think the quality of the loaf and it's flavour is far superior to anything I produced in my bread machine. The hand kneading also provides great exercise for the hand, arm and back muscles so benefits all round. It's actually really good for you if you have arthritic hands as I do , really exercises the hands and gets the blood flowing.

12 fluid ounces of tepid water
500 grams of strong white flour ( I prefer Allinsons or Doves Farm)
2 good teaspoons of Hovis Fast Action Bread Yeast ( I can't get any other to work as well for me)
1.5 teaspoons of fine salt ( I prefer sea salt)

1. Pour 3 to4 fluid ounces of the warmish water into a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on the top - give a brisk whisk and leave to froth for 5 minutes

2. Add 1/4 to 1/3 of the flour and mix to a paste . Cover, leave in warm place for 20/30 minutes where it will rise.

3. Add the rest of the flour and salt and enough of the remaining tepid water until you have a pliable but not sticky dough.

4. And this is the exercise bit!   Flour up a board, turn out the dough and knead for 10 minutes. Nothing complicated about it. Fold and squeeze or squeeze and fold then turn to left or right and do it again and again!

5. Place in bowl, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for a couple hours whilst it doubles in size. Time for housework and coffee now.

6. When risen, turn dough out onto floured board and knock the air out of it by folding and squeezing. Don't overdo it - it doesn't need kneading again.  Shape dough into oblong and place in a greased loaf tin ( the only fat that is used in the whole of the recipe!)

7. Let loaf tin stand, covered, for about an hour until well risen then place in an oven preheated to Gas mark 7 / 220C for 40/45 minutes.

8. Turn out and eat hot. Great!

To be extra healthy you could add a couple of dessert spoons of sunflower or poppy seeds.

I double up the quantity and make two loaves at a time. They freeze really well.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Of Grandparents, Fathers, Family and the Future.

David Norgrove has just published recommendations on Justice and the Family that are generating some debate.  The most controversial elements of his report are that " father's should have no legal right to shared time with their children following separation" despite the law demanding that they make maintenance payments, and his dismissive attitude towards the value of grandparents in their grandchildren's lives to the point where he also decrees that they too have no legal rights, that they may be potentially damaging to grandchildren during divorces if they take sides and that they must seek expensive processes through a Family Court if they want access to their grandchildren when it is denied.

Much has been written about the desperate need for a male role model in the lives of boys being raised by single Mums and how this would prevent the spread of gang culture so prevalent in some parts of the country.  I'm no social worker and wouldn't know if this is so, but I do know that girls too need contact with their fathers as well as their mothers and I speak from the experience of raising a grandchild and watching that child grow happily into her relationship with her father as they spend quality time with each other every other week.

Every child deserves the right of easy access to both of their parents if it is possible.  Of course one has to add the caveat that the safety of the child is paramount and it is sometimes in their best interests that parental access is denied but that can be true of mothers as well as fathers and the law should not differentiate, as David Norgrove is proposing, between them on any basis other than safety .  Shared access should be the starting point of any law protecting children's and parent's rights.

This brings me to David Norgrove's attitude to the  value of grandparents in all of this. He has dismissed us as 'potentially damaging' and left us with the need to pursue expensive litigation through the courts should we want access to grandchildren if it is denied us. Grandparents he says' should have no rights in law'

He has completely ignored the valuable role many grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren, a role that impacts significantly upon the economics of this country and that nurtures children and the values of family life on a large scale.

Approximately 150,000 children are being raised in Britain today by their grandparents. If those children were in care the cost to the state would be about £5.5billion annually. The majority of grandparents who have taken on this parenting role get absolutely no support or help whatever from the state and neither do they ask for it.  This despite the fact that many are pensioners on straightened means and about 10% have failing health or suffer serious chronic health conditions.

There is a further issue here about which I have first hand knowledge and that is that about 50% of those children being raised by grandparents are disabled or suffering from serious ongoing health conditions.  I'll save the stories of our struggles to get fair access to healthcare and education for our grandchild and how we have had, on occasion, to resort to using our retirement fund to buy such care when the NHS or education system has failed us, as it regularly does, for another blog post sometime.

Meantime however , it seems to me that grandparents are saving the state £billions by shouldering the responsibility of parenthood a second time around and that it's little enough to ask that in return the state should acknowledge our valuable contribution and grant us proper legal rights.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Golden Glory of Lemons to Ward off Winter Blues.

Having spent much of last winter laid up with pleurisy I have spent the last nine months exploring ways of getting fit like eating  5 a day fruit, exercising with 20 minutes yoga each morning, walking 3 miles briskly
2 /3 times a week and swimming when I can fit it in.

To start off the day I take a daily dose of fresh lemon juice and honey in a little boiled water. (Juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon of honey and 2 tablespoons of boiled warm water). The first of my 5 a day and really wakes you up at 6.30am!

Lemon Juice is a powerful antibacterial. Lemons are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C,
Vitamin P ( bioflavonoids),Niacin, Thiamin but low in sugar.

It is a great cleanser for the body!   It is said that lemon juice taken regularly helps control palpitations and high blood pressure possibly because of the presence of bioflavonoids.  It helps to quench thirst in diabetics, relieves abdominal disorders, wards off colds (Vitamin C) and eases coughs and chest infection. 

A book entitled The Lemon Juice Diet by Theresa Cheung suggests that adding lemons to the diet encourages weight loss because it balances the digestive system and lowers the impact of food on blood sugar.

A fun way to get the kids to benefit from lemon juice and increase their 5 a day is by making homemade lemonade with honey NOT with sugar!

Healthy Perfect Lemonade

The juice of 4/6 Lemons
4 Desert Spoons of Honey 
1 1/2 pints of Water

In a pan gently heat the honey with a cup of the water until melded together - don't boil.

Pour into jug with remaining water and the lemon juice.  Stir briskly.

Chill in Fridge before serving. 

You can adjust the quantities of lemon juice and honey to suit your own taste.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Autumn Optimism

OK so winter's on the way!

But I've got juicy Black Russian tomatoes ripening in the greenhouse and intriguing Potimarron squashes (only 3 fruits from 6 plants but nonetheless!) maturing ready for soup making in October. Just have to work out my recipe. I'll post it in a few days.

Next year's holiday is already in the planning stages - a first time cruise in the Med. Hubby wants an Alicante market to buy shoes, I want a tucked away tapas bar in Barcelona and young nell, who has just had her ears pierced and thinks she's now the bee's knees, is hoping for boutiques in Cannes - I think that might be an £ouch!

I'm busy watching the autumn conferences of the libdems, labour and tory parties. I'm struggling at the moment to work out whether labour thinks it's red or blue. And it's odd that their senior people don't like marriage. Ed Miliband openly admits he didn't want to marry his long term partner and mother of his children and only did it because the party insisted on it.  His shadow chancellor Balls says his children have taken his wife's surname of Cooper and Harriett Harman , the labour deputy leader, has kept her own name even though she has a long term partner, Jack Dromey and children.    Doesn't anyone in the labour party think that stable family life is good for kids anymore?

Three projects in the planning, young nell's halloween school cake sale for charity, Guy Fawkes BBQ Supper and Xmas.  More of which later.