Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Y is for Your Support

Y is for Your Support

Since beginning my writing journey I have been overwhelmed by everyone's support. I have had my writing page and twitter page shared and lots of people have read my blogs, especially since I've been doing this A to Z blogging challenge.
The challenge has been quite difficult and sometimes because I've been tired I've had to cheat (like today) and upload 2 blogs, but I haven't missed a letter so I guess that's ok!

The person who supports me the most and has to listen to stories, blogs and poems over and over again is my hubby. Bless him he has to listen to so much crap and listen to me moaning because I can't find a way to continue with a piece of writing.

So to all of you who have supported me and continue to do so, those who have believed in me and not changed the subject when I've spoken about my writing and those who haven't unliked my page because they can't be arsed to read my mutterings please take a flower with my love!

X is for Xenophobic

X is for Xenophobia

Xenophobia "deep rooted, irrational hatred towards foreigners" (Oxford English Dictionary)Comes from the Greek word xenos meaning strange, foreigner and phobos meaning fear.

Xenophobia is quite a touchy subject at the moment to put it mildly. Xenophobia is the fear of anything perceived to be foreign or strange. It can manifest itself in many ways involving how people perceive an "outgroup". An outgroup is a social group that a person does not identify themselves as being part of for example a person's ingroup could be the Labour party and the outgroup could be the Conservative Party.
People can fear losing their identity, be suspicious of the outgroup's activities, show aggression and have a desire to eliminate it's presence.
This was shown in it's worst form by the Nazi Party and the Jews in the Second World War and also by other dictatorships the world over.  
The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) is a human rights declaration adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993 in Vienna, Austria. They urge that "governments take immediate measures and develop strong policies to prevent and combat all forms and manifestations of xenophobia and racism".

There are two main forms of xenophobia. The first is fear and hatred towards a new or recent group who have come into an established society for example: immigrants, towards an established group who are not part of the larger ingroup or a group who has expanded by territorial conquest. This can lead to violence and hostilities, which in turn could lead to pogroms and genocide.
The second form is primarily cultural and the objects of the phobia may be for example foreign loan words in the national language. This type of xenophobia doesn't often lead to aggression, but political campaigns can result in cultural or linguistic purification.

What could cause someone to become xenophobic about an individual or group of people? A negative experience whether it be physical, emotional or economic with an individual or a few members of the outgroup in question could lead to the experience being over-generalized to all members of the outgroup. You could be conditioned by your parents, peers or propaganda to feel xenophobic about an outgroup.
We all see this in our everyday lives. I often hear the phrase "I'm not racist but...." which usually means that something racist is going to come out of that person's mouth. The other favourite phrase that people say is "They come over here taking our jobs!" Who are "they" and if there is a job that no one else has applied for are "they" taking that job?
Everybody can be a nasty person at some point in their day. If a white, British male yells at you in a car park are you going to become xenophobic about all white, British men you meet that day? If you are white and British yourself I doubt that, but I have seen people who I thought were nice individuals turn on a race of people just because one person from that group of people said something nasty to them. Where is the sense in that? Unfortunately though this type of behaviour is what leads to Xenophobia.

There are also a lot of groups around who disguise themselves under names with political meanings and even stand in elections. They call themselves patriotic and claim that they want England to be English. The thing is if you delve deep into their manifestos you will see lots of racist connotations and you only have to Goggle or YouTube some of these groups to see the hatred they show towards other ethnic groups. 

Personally I try to like everyone. The only reason I won't like someone is if they have done something to upset me or a loved one. If that person happens to be a foreigner or belongs to a religion different to mine I won't hate everybody of that nationality or religion just because of that individuals actions. It may seem simplistic, but really it's not.

I am the granddaughter of an Irish immigrant. I am Catholic (not practicing). If you are nice to me, I'll be nice to you whether you be British, foreign, Black, White, a Jew or a Muslim. 

Spread the love and make your own opinions based on your own experiences. Be brave, stand up and tell people if you think they are being xenophobic or racist.

Remember Edmund Burke's quote above, because it stands true just as much today as it ever did.

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Monday, 27 April 2015

W is for Wow

W is for Wow!

Today I went to Brands Hatch with my Hubby and Son to watch a FREE Formula 1 event. Yes you read that right FREE!! Hence the Wow on my status.

F1 is so elitist that it usually costs a small fortune to get anywhere near a F1 car, so when I saw that Brands Hatch was throwing open it's gates for free today we had to go along.
The reason was that Lotus F1 were filming there today. Hats off to Lotus F1 and Brands Hatch for allowing fans to see the cars in the pits and to watch them out on track.

We missed Romain Grosjean as he did the morning session, but we did see Pastor Maldonado on track and practicing pit stops as well as Jolyon Palmer. We saw this years car the E23 and an older Lotus the 72 E-5.

We sat in the Grandstand by the start/finish straight and had a fantastic view. The sound of the older car was tremendous. The newer car sounded good, but it didn't go through you like previous models did before all the changes.

So a lovely way to spend a Monday afternoon and we missed the rain too.

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Saturday, 25 April 2015

V is for VE Day

V is VE Day 
8th May 1945

Friday 8th May 2015 commemorates 70 years since we saw Victory in Europe putting an end to the Second World War in Europe. The war carried on in Japan however for another 3 months. There will be many events across the country celebrating this event the 70th anniversary of VE Day.

During the Battle of Berlin on the 30th April 1945 the Nazi Leader Adolf Hitler committed suicide. Germany's surrender was authorised by Reichprasident Karl Donitz and the Act of Military Surrender was signed in Reims France on 7th May 1945 and in Berlin on the 8th May 1945.

Daily Mirror Front Page

In the United Kingdom over one million people took to the streets to celebrate the end of the war in Europe. The Royal Family appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with Prime Minister Winston Churchill to wave to the crowds assembled in the Mall.

From left: Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, King George VI and Princess Margaret

However after the days of celebration were over people began to mourn their lost loved ones. The victory over Hitler was bitter sweet. Tough times still lay ahead and rationing in Britain didn't end until 1953.
In July 1945 Churchill was not voted in again during the General Election and Britain began a fresh start. VJ day that came in August 1945 was a more subdued affair. The United Kingdom had started to rebuild and move on.

To find VE Day 70 year celebrations please visit the official Government site here

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U is for Uniforms


How many uniforms do we wear through our lives? So far I have worn a primary school uniform, secondary school uniform, college uniform, nurses uniform, BP uniform, cleaners uniform and now a Morrison's uniform. Two of my uniforms have been a lovely shade of green. Who the hell chooses these uniforms?? 
In most cases the higher up the firm you go the less uniform you have to wear. Why is this? Is it to keep us minions in our places? I can't think of any other reason why my manager doesn't wear the same uniform as me to be honest.

School uniforms I think are a good idea. I personally think they should be stricter on styles. Money is tight for a lot of families and they can't afford the latest fashions so if the school's policy on uniform was stricter this would save a lot of money and a lot of heartache for parents. I don't agree with this new trend of having to buy items with the school logo and name emblazoned on them from specialist shops. One colour for each school in the area could be agreed on so parents could buy a blue blazer for school A and sew on the school logo badge. When I was at school our blazer was blue and you bought the badge and the tie and that was it! We didn't have to have special sports kits and special sweatshirts etc.
Wearing a uniform to school saves having to worry about fashion or if you have the latest correct style, plus it keeps your own clothes nice. Mind you there are so many non-uniform days for one cause or another kids probably wear their own clothes more than the uniform you have spent so much money on!

School Uniform Design

Nurses uniforms show the qualification of the nurse and obviously show patients who is a nurse and who isn't. You would hope too that the staff don't wear their uniforms outside so they stay hygienic. Doctors don't wear white coats any more though as they were thought to be unhygienic although some hospitals are reintroducing them as a shorter sleeve version to make hand washing easier. Most hospitals now have changed to wearing different coloured scrubs which always looks a bit Holby City to me! 

Out - Unhygienic

In - What Doctors wear now

Holby City - Must admit I love it!!
Uniforms can also be viewed as sexy. There is even a Uniform Dating Service! Having worn a nurses uniform and been covered in everything from sick to urine my uniform was anything but sexy, yet you can still buy a sexy little nurse uniform easily and it still a fantasy for some men. Ditto the French Maids uniform. Have you ever seen a French Maid? I think they probably look like most maids and not like the costume suggests. 

Typical Nurses Uniform

Fantasy Nurse

Typical Maid's Uniform

French Maid's Costume
What is it about uniform that we have the real and the fantasy? I can't leave the ladies out here so how about a fireman or mechanic (I quite like dirty overalls!)

Bristol's Firefighter's 

A fantasy Firefighter

Mechanic at work

Fantasy Mechanic

Even people who wear suits for work follow some kind of dress code. A lot of offices will not allow workers to wear jeans, yet trendy companies like Apple and Google encourage their employees to look casual.
I really don't know what I prefer to be honest. I know I want my Bank Manager to be in a suit and tie not jeans and a t-shirt. I want my hospital consultant to be in a suit or scrubs and not jeans and trainers. I don't mind someone working in a clothes store to be dressed in the clothes they are selling. I prefer people working on trains, buses and in supermarkets to be in a uniform so I can see who works there if I need help. Similarly I want to be able to spot a Police Officer if I need one. That's another thing, don't you think that the Police are looking more and more like Action Man? Where's the big helmet gone and the smart jacket? Or am I just getting old?

I guess uniforms will always be around. Even in futuristic films the people flying the space ships that take us to Mars are wearing air hostess type uniforms, so I guess they are here to stay.

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Thursday, 23 April 2015

T is for the Tufty Club

The Tufty Club

If you are of a certain age (like me) you will remember the Tufty Club. It was a road safety campaign which began in 1953. It featured clear and simple safety messages for children as part of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents or ROSPA 
Tufty Fluffytail was created by the late Elsie Mills MBE along with characters Minnie Mole, naughty Willy Weasel, Mrs Owl the teacher and Policeman Badger who always rescued the children in the nick of time.
 In 1961 the Tufty Club was set up as a nationwide network of groups and at it's peak there were 24,500 groups registered across the UK. Tufty and his friends were updated in 1979 and again 1993 to keep up with the changing times.

History of The Tufty Club 

1962 - More than 60,000 children joined the Tufty Club which was expanded to admit older children.
1965 - Tufty Club was featured in a scene in Cyril Fletcher's Christmas pantomime.
1966 - There were now more than 2,000 Tufty Clubs.
1972 - Tufty Club membership passed two million.
1973 - The Transport and Road Research Laboratory reported favourably on the value of the Tufty Club which now had 10,000 affiliated clubs.
1979 - HRH Princess Michael of Kent became the first president of the Tufty Club.
1982 - The Tufty Club celebrated its 21st birthday with a national road show.
1984 - Comedian Ted Rogers invited Tufty to make his pantomime debut in Bournemouth to pass on road safety tips to his young audience.
1993 - Tufty was re-styled and modernised to bring him into the 1990s.
1994 - Tufty went on a nationwide tour of the country.
Information taken from ROSPA

I joined in 1977 at playschool. I was lucky enough to be sent to a Montessori playschool in a beautiful old house set in large grounds. I can remember having road safety practice using the driveway of the house with the teachers riding on our toy cars!
I wore my Tufty Club badge with pride and I still have it. It is now stuck to the inside of my kitchen cupboard and still makes me smile. I can remember one particular story where naughty Willy Weasel opened the car door while the car was moving and nearly fell out the car. I don't know why that stuck in my head, but when my son was younger and in the back of the car I always locked his door or made sure the child safety lock was on so he couldn't be a naughty Willy Weasel!

There were great books that accompanied the road safety campaign such as this one:

 and other teaching aids such as this jigsaw:

Of course there were other road safety campaigns like the Green Cross Code Man famously played by Dave Prowse of Darth Vader fame and later the Hedgehogs who gave their message to the tune of "King of the road" by Roger Miller.

Green Cross Code Man - Dave Prowse

The Green Cross Code - Hedgehog Campaign
Road safety is still such an important issue, especially with hundreds more cars, lorries, buses and motorbikes on the road. Cyclists are more prevalent too on modern roads and children should be taught from an early age to look out for cyclists when crossing roads (we have cyclists who race down our road and have been recorded at speeds of 36 mph) and to ride their own bicycles properly and safely too.
I often see parents dragging their children across roads, because they cannot be bothered to wait for the green man. Sometimes parents run across the roads too. This is very bad practice and children will remember this and do it whilst crossing on their own. 
So if you have little ones make sure they know the basic rules of the road.
 Stop. Look. Listen. 
Have a look at this Tufty Road Safety Campaign here and reminisce about quieter roads and remember Tufty's Kerb Drill!

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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

S is for Spring


Spring a time of new growth and rebirth. How does Spring make you feel? I like the warmer days and being able to open windows and put washing out on the line!
I don't like the dilemma of deciding whether to turn off the heating for the rest of the year or putting it on just for 20 minutes in the morning to heat up the bathroom. We live in a cottage which has next to nothing in the way of insulation so we have blankets and extra heaters everywhere and we all own thermal underwear and socks! The bathroom is freezing as it is a dorma built later onto the 1790's timber frame. Plonking your derrière on a cold seat is bloody horrible, so the warmer weather is most welcome.

Yesterday we went for a walk to a Woodland Trust property nearby and saw our first bluebells of the year. There were also Wild Primroses growing and a Chiffchaff singing away in the treetops. There were also lambs and we ending up rescuing 6 lambs who had got themselves the other side of the fence because some idiot had left the gate to the field open. Remember the Countryside Code for the UK 



Spring Lambs

The gorgeous Cherry Blossom has all gone now leaving pink carpets on the streets and darker pink leaves behind. We have a lot of blossoming trees where we live and they look absolutely stunning when they are heavy with blossom. Another beautiful Spring tree is the Magnolia. I've always wanted one, but we have a concrete garden (in a cottage - how crap) and I don't know how well it would flower in a large pot.

Cherry Blossom

The daffodils and hyacinths are also dying off although I have some Winston Churchill variety that are all just flowering with double heads. I am leaving all the greenery on the daffodils until Monty Don on Gardeners World tells me it is OK to chop them back :-)

We have had some very warm weather in the South East of England. We went down to Seasalter last week and it was 25 degrees. People were dressed in shorts and t-shirts in April. What happened to April showers?
Yesterday at Tankerton beach it was so windy that my ears actually hurt from the cold and the temperature was only 12 degrees.

Why do British love to talk about the weather? I think it is because we don't get a gradual temperature rise. It goes from being cold to hot and then hot to cold again within days. Our sensitive skins can't cope with it!

So here's to BBQ's and evening walks along the beach, ice-creams and reading in the garden.

Welcome Spring!

Cute animals just for the hell of it!

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

R is for Returning to school

I decided I needed a bit of help with writing a novel, so I booked myself on a Creative Writing Class at my local adult education centre.

So today R is for......

Returning To School

OK so this part of the blog is before I go back to school. My class starts at 10am today, but I'm going to post this blog later on this evening so I can tell you all how it went. 
Yesterday I went into town and got a new notepad, highlighters, pens and some paper clips. I have no clue why I got paper clips, but I am sure I will find a use for them somewhere if only to thread together and make snakes! 
I have no satchel, but I do have a nice big bag to put all my things in. I neglected to buy a pencil case either, but I am sure if everyone else has one I can get myself one so I don't feel left out.

Now I am a woman of 41. I left school in 1989 and then attended college where I successfully gained qualifications to allow me to teach children with Special Needs. I also completed a Nursing course and worked in a busy A&E department, Theatre and Medical Unit. I have led parents evenings, dealt with drunks (not at the same time), beaten cancer and am a wife and mum. So tell me why I am absolutely terrified of going to this course today?
I want to write. I have always wanted to write. I am currently writing 2 novels and enjoying every minute. This class is going to help me to do what I want to do and hopefully help me do it better, but I am still worried. I am worried I will have no clue what anyone is going on about, I'm worried that if they set us homework I won't have any ideas, I'm worried people will use words I don't understand or terms I haven't heard of. What if they are all far more intelligent than me and I look like a dunce?

The time for worrying now has to pass because notebook in slightly shaky hands I am off.....

My local Adult Education Centre

So I did it! I enjoyed every minute of it. I walked in and introduced myself to the tutor and sat with a young lady of 18 who was lovely. Other students began to arrive who had done the previous terms course, but they were a friendly bunch.
After all the enrolment and induction was done it was straight in at the deep end with a short story that had to be written in 20 minutes. We had to pick 4 cards from a pile. Each had a feeling, a person, an environment and an action on them. 
I picked:
A famous
Police Officer
At a Fancy dress party
Seeks revenge

The story came to me quite easily which surprised me and I wrote about a Police Officer made famous because he had arrested a jewel thief seeking revenge on a woman that had criticised his wives baking! I had to read it out, which filled me with fear, but it was ok and people laughed at the parts they were supposed to laugh at.
My homework is the same exercise but this time I have:
A compassionate
At a campsite 
Finds not all is how it seems


I am already looking forward to next weeks class and sharing my story with the other students.
Oh and the paper clips? Nope still no use for them yet x 

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Monday, 20 April 2015

Q is for Quiet Time

Before today's blog I would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support of Saturday's P is for Pelvic Radiation Disease. A lot of people had no idea what I go through and their messages were lovely. Also it has raised awareness which is great, so thanks for reading :-)

Q is quite a difficult letter to talk about. I decided on Q for Quiet!

Quiet Time

Salvator Rosa
Be silent, unless what you have to say is better than silence.

Adjective: Making little or no noise
Noun: Absence of noise or bustle. Silence, calm
Verb: Make or become silent. Calm or still

In this day and age it is difficult to find anywhere quiet. When we do find somewhere other people then hear about it, then they visit and the place loses it's silence. 
I cherish silence. I work in a busy, noisy environment so when I'm not at work I like to just be quiet. I have mentioned in other blogs that we used to have a Neighbour From Hell (NFH). This wasn't simply a neighbour who left his bin in the wrong place or played music loud on a Saturday night. This person mounted a campaign against me, my husband and 5 year old son that lasted for 13 years. It only ended when we moved. He would play loud music ALL DAY, EVERYDAY. From the moment he got up Radio 1 would be blaring in his bedroom, he then moved down to the kitchen where the radio would then go on in there. This would carry on until he went out or if he stayed in the noise would move to the lounge and then through the night we would have loud drum and bass music.
He then over the years moved onto slamming doors, revving motorbikes, riding motorbikes up and down the side of our house, banging on walls and finally throwing rocks at our windows. This was a 55 year old man and as far as we know he still lives in his house tormenting the new neighbours.

So we downsized and moved to a village. The village has a main road running through it so that is noisy. There is no escape, but as the traffic eases all we can hear is the birds singing and not long after we moved in I heard an owl for the first time.
There is a country park nearby where in the evenings you can hear blackbirds singing and other birds beginning their roost. The dawn chorus rings out loud and clear and on a Sunday the church bells call worshippers to prayer.
I can turn off my TV and read in relative quiet, but not silence.

Where can we find absolute silence? Actually absolute silence is a very strange thing. My son is deaf and our local Audiology unit had a major refurbishment. they installed soundproofed rooms. The audiologist showed us round and I asked to go in one of the rooms with the door shut. First of all it felt like my ears had popped. Then when I realised my ears hadn't popped and got used to that feeling I began to hear a high pitched noise. It started to drive me mad. I then started to worry that I had tinnitus! The Audiologist told me this was normal. He said that we are just not used to complete and utter silence and it's as if our brain "fills in" some background noise.

So where do I go for quiet? Well I'm not revealing my places, because then you'll all want to visit and it won't be quiet any more! There is a monastery near me where I go sometimes and there is a chapel inside which is lovely and peaceful.
Libraries certainly aren't the quiet places they used to be. Our new library now has banks of computers and rooms where you can register births and deaths. I walked around the village library the other day and there was a lady on Skype. She had headphones in, but she kept laughing out loud and snorting. Quite off putting when you are trying to read. Today there was a Pensioners coffee morning so I heard all about Doris and her toe operation while I was trying to chose books. I know that libraries have to have that kind of thing as otherwise they will close down and that's not good.


So many words for something we all crave on some level. Mind you some people don't like quiet. They prefer noise and hussle & bussle. I remember being left at home when I was 18 while my family went on holiday. in the dead of night I could hear all sorts of strange noises that I hadn't heard before. This was because there was quiet. I had two younger brothers of 4yrs and 1yr so quiet was something we never experienced. Without the background noise I could hear floorboards moving as the house settled and pipes creaking.It was horrible.

Now though I just want parts of my day to be quiet. I want to sit and read in peace with just the sound of birds tweeting. 
Not much to ask for is it?

Saturday, 18 April 2015

P is for Pelvic Radiation Disease

This is a subject that affects me daily

P is for...

Pelvic Radiation Disease

When I survived Cervical Cancer and finished the surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy I thought that's it, I'm all better. For a while I was ok just very tired.
After a few months though I was still tired and going for a wee was akin to passing razor blades. I would dread going for a wee and thought by stopping drinking so much that would help. Nope! I had something called Radiation Cystitis. If you have had cystitis you will have some idea of what I'm talking about except this is like no cystitis bout I've ever had. Forget powders and paracetamol, this needed the big guns. Luckily I ended up with an excellent Urology Nurse and I am pumped full of medication regularly to keep me functioning. Daily I take 3 different tablets to help my bladder regenerate its lining. Every 2 months I have to visit the hospital to have a catheter put into my bladder and a medication fed into my bladder. I then hold this medication for a hour and wee it out. This treatment has been done weekly in the past and will be again if I have another flare up. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis BEFORE I got cancer too, which has the same effects as Radiation Cystitis - I'm lucky that way!!
A flare up means I'm bedridden. Pure and simple. The pain is horrendous, I feel like I'm getting flu, I have to sit in a warm bath to wee and drink loads of water.
Helpful comments of drink cranberry juice leave me wanting to punch people, seriously if that would help don't you think I would be doing it??

Unfortunately having any Pelvic radiotherapy will more than likely cause you to have problems afterwards. It affects men and women and the symptoms can take 10 years to show themselves.

After the bladder symptoms arrived I started to get the odd twinge in my hip and back. Unfit, overweight, slept funny, need to exercise, all these excuses and reasons went through my head. Nope none of these, but my old friend Pelvic Radiation Disease! My facet joints either side of my spine have been damaged beyond repair which causes immense pain. As a result I have to take painkillers daily and have recently had pain and steroid injections into my back.

Then (oh there's more) I had a lot of tummy pain. I knew it wasn't period pain or a cyst on my ovary because everything was removed when I had cancer. It didn't feel like my bladder pain either. After 7 days of not being able to go to the loo I was rushed into hospital with an Atonic Colon. Basically overnight my Large Colon had decided it wasn't going to work any more. Like a petulent child it stomped it's feet and shouted "I'm not working anymore!!" I have had surgery and have to still carry out treatments which are hideous. I don't want to go into this condition fully, but it's changed my life and pretty much defines who I am now.

I thought I was alone. Why me?? I've survived cancer, but I am ill constantly. It even sent my blood pressure so dangerously high I was hospitalised. Then I found information from Macmillan Cancer Support about Pelvic Radiation Disease.
It's hideous basically and if people had any idea what I go through on a daily basis they would probably wonder how I function!
But function I do. I go to work, care for my disabled son, do housework, go out with friends, go for walks, read, write, watch tv and generally try to be a good wife, Mum and friend. 

I have learnt that you can't give in. If you do then the cancer has won and that's not going to happen any time soon. Yes I have crap days where I am moody and bursting into tears all over the place, but I try not to be like that.
Life is tough, but I'm alive. So if some days I am miserable and bite your head off, try not to take it personally I'm probably having a really shit day!

If you know anyone who has had Pelvic Radiotherapy please share these links with them and let them know they are not alone. Remember it affects Men and Women as Prostate Cancer is treated with Pelvic Radiotherapy too.

Late effects of Pelvic Radiotherapy Macmillan Information
Cancer Research Information

Unfortunately I was told by the Pelvic Radiation Disease Association to remove the link to their website and their logo from my blog even though they are the best source of information. I was also removed from their Facebook group, which is sad as I had made a lot of good friends there. But onwards and upwards!

A Radiotherapy Machine

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Friday, 17 April 2015

O is for Orangutans and Palm Oil

A step away from books again today to a cause that my Husband and I feel quite passionate about.

Today O is for 

Orangutans and Palm Oil

Palm Oil has become an ever popular ingredient in food. Sometimes food producers don't label it as such and just simply write Vegetable Oil. Palm Oil can be found in cakes, biscuits, desserts, ready meals in fact just about everything. It is also being used increasingly in cosmetics. Some cosmetic producers boast they don't test on animals, but they kill orangutans during the deforestation process or simply cull the animals that are in their way.

So what? I hear you say. Well to produce Palm Oil, palm trees must be planted. To plant these other trees have to be chopped down and areas of forest cleared. The main driver of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia is Palm Oil and 85% of the worlds Palm Oil comes from these areas. An area of forest the size of 300 soccer fields is cleared every hour in these areas. This means that many Orangutans lose their habitat and simply have nowhere to go or are killed during the burning of the forest. The worlds population of wild Orangutans has dropped by 50% in the last decade and a staggering 80% of their natural habitat has been destroyed or altered in some way.
Other species affected are the Asian elephant, Tiger and Sumatran Rhinoceros. The Asian Elephant and Bornean Orangutan are endangered whilst the Tiger, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Orangutan are Critically Endangered. 
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUNC) has classified the Bornean Orangutan as Endangered with approximately 55,000 left with 5,000 killed a year. The Sumatran Orangutan is Critically Endangered with approximately 6,300 left and 1,000 being killed a year.

As a consumer you can read packaging and not buy items which contain Palm Oil. Challenge manufacturers and supermarkets if the oil used isn't named and ask why these items need to contain Palm Oil.
I can't bring myself to buy anything containing Palm Oil any more as I imagine Orangutans being killed and babies being orphaned. 
There are many organisations that care for the orphaned babies and for the adults that have lost their homes, but that shouldn't be the case. Humans should not be interfering with their habitat in the first place and certainly not re-homing them. 

There are so many charities out there trying to help so please visit some of the links below to see what you can do to help.

Say no To Palm Oil
The Orangutan Project

There are some horrendous pictures out there of the cost of planting palm oil which I don't want to include, but believe me it's awful. 

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

N is for New Books

Books, books, books

N is for....

New Books

The smell, the feel, the excitement of a new book is something most people will understand. Equally a lot of you will think I am a complete nutter who needs sectioning as soon as possible.
I love books. I love the smell of old books and I love the feel of new books. I am a break the spine kind of girl with paperbacks, but if I borrow a book I would never do that. 
If a friend lends me a book and says "Don't bend it or turn the corners over on the pages" I don't question it as it is the same instruction I would give. If I lend books I write down who I've lent them to and I worry about them - the books not the people - until they are back on my shelf again.

I have an ereader and I get excited about new books on that, but not as much as a physical book that I can hold.
I remember there being some kind of book buying club when I was at Primary School. I think it was called Bookworm or something similar. You had a long form and you could order books. I loved this time of the month when this form was handed out. I can remember getting The Railway Children, Midnight Kittens by Dodie Smith and Dog which came with a free Yorkshire Terrier poster.
I would wait excitedly for these books to be delivered which would take forever.
When they arrived I would take to my room and devour the book in a couple of days. I would study the cover picture for every little detail, read the dedications, the publishing page and the back of the cover. Then I would begin the story. I would totally immerse myself in the story and live in that story for a while.
I had no idea what a so called "Book Hangover" was, but it is obvious to me now that I suffered from quite a few of those over my childhood.

The Railway Children by E Nesbit

The Midnight Kittens by Dodie Smith

Books are so easy to access nowadays. You can shop online, in book stores and even chuck - sorry gently place - a book in your trolley with your weekly shop. In fact some paperbacks are now cheaper than some of the glossy magazines. Of course there are still libraries (which we must use otherwise they will disappear) where new releases can be borrowed.
However I still meet people who don't read. I mean they don't read anything not even a magazine. I just don't understand that. How can you not read for pleasure? 

I bought our son books when he was little. Board books with just pictures at first, then short stories with a few words, then we started buying beautiful story books (which we still have 20 years later!) like Guess How Much I Love You, Five Minutes Peace, Percy the Park Keeper and anything featuring Postman Pat and finally Roald Dahl sets and classics like Oliver Twist.

Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Percy's Bumpy Ride by Nick Butterworth

I wish I could convey the feeling of getting a new book and the joy of reading a new story either for yourself or reading it to somebody. I understand though that some people have problems with literacy and simply cannot "get into" a book. I have found some links for organisations that can assist with reading problems, so if you know someone who needs a little help please direct them to the help out there.

Improve Your Maths, English and IT Skills 
Read Easy
The Reading Agency
The National Literacy Trust

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