Wednesday, 4 July 2018

the labyrinth is growing...

Natural universal energetic forces work in a perfect symphony with organic natural creation. Most of the life force on this planet uses the symphony of energies and all it creates is perfect.

Our pure being or our body is attacked daily by pollutants that build up around the world, by convenient foods, inactive lifestyles and by the way we live.  The result has been an acute rise in chronic health conditions

Our garden is full of organic medicinal plants and vegetables laid in beds that form a compass with four directional points.  There are eight quadrants with pathways that encourage change of direction. This forms the basis of our labyrinth – a place to walk and take in the magnificent colour shows of nature. 

The healing herbs brush against anyone walking the paths, awaking fragrant scents into the air - these really ‘heal your senses’  We are also building a stone walkway that allows a faster change of direction for anyone who needs to change their body energy and allow rational thought to persevere. 

We are lucky to live in rural Britanny where historically energetic forces have formed an infrastructure over thousands of years and that has manifested into an intense vitality. 
The vitality is so strong, its affect on mind, body and soul is powerful and positive.  There is a calm, tranquillity that helps find a deep peace and encourages natural graceful living.

We are promoting that graceful peacefulness with our labyrinth

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The real life of a plant

 Plants for life

Flower essence is a simple, natural and effective aid to help deal with emotional  traumas.

Our plant life offers us the means to heal ourselves and there are an abundance of blooms that have been identified as effective remedies.  These remedies are used in everyday life and have successfully helped people redefine themselves.  The remedies are a positive energy that helps overcome negativity. 

A negative state of mind and negativity in thoughts and words is the beginning of illness or dis-ease.  It’s an easy state to fall into and easier still to allow negativity guide your life when you’re at a low ebb.

The positive energy of plant life helps settle emotions and bring them back to their equilibrium point. It is the energy that balances the physical body.
Organic living material runs on Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy.

Your physical body has an optimum equilibrium balance and it governs how well individual parts of the body works.

For instance, at its optimum energy, your heart will keep beating at the right pace and time so your heart can do its job and stay healthy.  Our body can look after itself very well.

Unfortunately we live in a world where people suffer hurt in various forms and even more unfortunately they don’t know how to deal with it.  Their reactions can be negative and this can impact hugely on the body energy.

Flower essence is a vibrational medicine.  It takes from the plant its unique quality and uses it to help balance the body energy.

How does vibrational medicine work?

Simplified, flower blooms or leaves are placed in pure water and left to infuse.  Water has a double polarity and therefore able to act as a magnetic force that holds the vibration of the plant so retains the memory of the plant.

The flower essence can be diluted to 200 to 1 and still retain the memory of the plant.  Less is best.

Vibrational medicine can be made from plants, mountain rock, gemstones, and most elements on the planet.

We can all benefit from vibrational medicine because we’re all energy.  As hard as the concept is to understand, we are, in fact,  99.5 per cent energy and the rest of us is formed from the organic matter on this planet.

It is easier to introduce energy as the one and only fundamental essence of life.  

It is the original essence.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Teenage Suicide 


I recently had to write a eulogy after the death of my teenage nephew, Edward, when he took his own life.  I was asked to do this as I had been a journalist in my working life and my sister and her husband were not emotional able to put it together.  It was probably the hardest 'piece of copy' I have ever had to write and then deliver at a requiem mass.

Our family took their places in the church, still reeling from a sense of disbelief a month after Edward had made the decision to take his life.  

 Edward's young friends packed the church and toppled outside into side rooms, the hallway and church grounds.  They had gathered still in shock, suffering with a sense of loss and horror - all of us gathered in a place where the world stands still, unable to comprehend the reality.

We said goodbye to our handsome 18-year-old who had recently celebrated his birthday, passed his driving test, was everyone's friend and had his whole life yet to unfold ahead of him.

I am writing this now two months after the event for a few reasons.  The first is to highlight the seriousness of teenage depression, to publish the urlogy in the hope it will help people with a similar loss put the necessary words together and then as a kind of therapy for me and the need to verbalise the most awful event in my 65 years of life.  

Edward words

Thank you for coming to Ed’s final farewell. I think he would be extremely pleased to know how many people have come to show how much they care. 

I am Ed’s aunt, Anne and I have been asked to say a few words about Edward on behalf of his mum, dad, brother and sister.  Karen, Alan, William and Katlin.

Although they are now a family trying to come to terms with the lost of such a precious young life, they are very aware of the great shock Ed’s death has caused.

Edward had a wonderful future of exploration and growing up ahead of him.  He was so full of life, love and laughter that it seems inconceivable to those who knew and loved him that he could fall off track badly enough to take his life.

In that one dark moment of insecurities and wavering self-esteem everyone here has lost someone dear to their hearts….

Karen and Alan would like us all to reflect on the 18 years he enjoyed while he was here.

Ed was a young man who had huge dreams and aspirations.  He was creative and inventive. He had a great number of friends. 

He often looked to his parents for advice and could take that advice and turn it to his advantage.
On joining his secondary school, Edward did not immediately make friends so his dad suggested sharing his sweets.
What his dad didn’t realise was that even at this young age, Edward was an entrepreneur.
His early gestures not only brought him lifelong friends but it turned into a lucrative sideline.
He would bring a kitbag of sweets and drinks to school to sell at profit.  This financed his hobbies during his secondary education.
His mischievous nature was always at the forefront and he would sign his older brother up to websites for adopting a donkey , giraffe , and any other animal he could think of - the more recent prank included a dodgy dating site.
Edward had a delightful charm which he used to rescue himself from various tricky situations when he had overstepped the mark:
When being told off he would spread his arms out wide and say: “ someone
needs a cuddle”.  He used this on his mum to good effect .  
He lived with humour and on most occasions would be the ‘life of the party’.  His quick wit was readily on call and he could set someone up in an instance.  When his sister, Kaitlin, was singing along with a song Ed would ask her
who sings that song?
 Kate's would reply with the artists name and Ed would merely say:
“let's keep it that way!”. 
On first meeting his newly born nephew, Roux, he cradled him in his arms, looked up  and said is this all he does ?
Ed was a normal, everyday boy.  He had the normal teenage ability to consume lots of food and his mum’s sweets.
He thought that a ham cheese and marmite baguette was the food of the gods. He had a love of fried chicken and could unbelievably eat a whole bucket. He was confidant to many, he listened and always wanted to help.
But… Ed had a heart that was too big.  He questioned life too deeply -  at the time -  teenagers struggle to find their place in the world.

We will all have many cherished memories of Edward.  It is these happier times that we encourage you all to take forward with you in life.

Both Karen and Alan would take great comfort knowing whatever your age, and particularly Ed’s young friends, whatever you achieve and in all your successes – you will look for joy in all you do.
They sincerely want  Ed’s death not be a reminder of grief and pain but want you all to see it as a reason why you need to look for the happiness in your own lives.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Moving to France

So we’re off to France.  That’s the two of us, Anne and Andy, three dogs, Charlie, Lily and Bob and the horse, Shiloh.  We have a loose plan of renting for a year and enjoying the lifestyle.

Life in North Yorkshire is lovely and we do enjoy where we live in a village not an hour away from the coast and ten minutes away from the historic city of York but we always fancied being down ‘south’ too.

Our desire to live in the south of England  sort of migrated across the channel at some point.  It culminated from winter escapes to Spain when we’d travel through France in January and return in April. Even when France gave the impression of being ‘ferme’ for the winter, we resonated with the country. 

Of course, it could be the nostalgia it invoked in us as we viewed ‘free to roam’ open space which in turn set off a number of  wistful memories of the days of old in the UK. 

France shouted a welcome to us like the south end of Britain never did.

We settled on Brittany because the euro tunnel isn't a massive trek so would be less stress on the dogs and for the ease to drive to northern Spain.
We looked around the diverse region and decided  we wanted to be close to the Nantes Brest canal and an inland lake but within easy travelling distance of the coast.  We’d like warm weather and a lively, possibly vibrant environment.  It was all doable in a small hamlet 10 minutes drive to the medieval town of Josselin in the department of Morbihan. We could cycle or horse ride into the local village with our dogs for the daily bread.  Room enough for all the animals and a house that was perfect in every sense.

Josselin has chocolate box looks and a chateau overlooking the Nantes to Brest canal.  It’s fairytale appeal is inviting and has a mix of everyday and tourist shops with all facilities necessary to live day by day.  
There is a strong French/English community. Poermel is about a 20 minutes drive, a much larger town and by the magical Broceliande forest.  Further afield again we have two cities, Vannes and Rennes and the atlantic coast.

We found our house by fluke and cheek.   The only house letting resource we had were two sites offering holiday homes.  I used the Anglo info forum and started a discussion which turned up a few offers but not suitable for us. We have a friend in France who was also looking out for us.  We wanted an uncomplicated let and came out to look at two houses but the owners had stretched the truth and they were totally unsuitable. 

House renting isn’t easy when you are far away.  Most of the estate agents were looking to sell. As luck would have it, we were in the company one evening of a couple who looked after holiday homes and gardens.  They also had the homes of British people who were back in the UK and who couldn’t sell.  We signed a contract for a year minimum with a couple who had to go back to the UK, couldn’t sell their house and were delighted at our offer as we were at the prospect of renting a beautiful home – not holiday home – a real home.
What started out as a potentially complicated and lengthy house hunting procedure was finalised in a  over a cuppa and we will be in Josselin around November time.

Look out for the next blog on dog friendly France

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Low carb seeded bread



Seeded low carbohydrate bread

This is a recipe that has taken nearly a year to perfect but this latest experimental loaf is as near perfect as I dare hope for.  The ingredients make this bread low carbohydrate but not gluten free.

From the beginning I have aimed for a bread mix that gives me the feel, texture and taste of the bread I’ve eaten all my life with as little carbohydrate as possible.

My ingredients for this recipe are lots of different types of flour but only because I was using bits I had left in the cupboard, however, I don’t think it matters what type of flour you but you will need to stick to a few necessaries.

All these flours worked, it is entirely up to you what combination you use so long as you always have a small amount of wheat flour, vital wheat and pea protein.

From my experience, I found the soy flour and sesame flour a little bitter so I tend to use smaller amounts.  I am wary about using too much flaxseed, too as this can be overpowering for my taste which is why I opted to use a wide variety for a better taste. I generally aimed at 500 grams overall in weight which was what my yeast liked to work with although the recipe on the back of the packet suggested more flour.

I was also aware of costs and in my year long adventure with bread, I have managed to work out low cost by literally grinding my own ingredients in a coffee grinder I had.  To buy ground pea protein is hugely expensive for small amounts.  Pea protein in literally yellow or green split peas so I bought a packet at 79p and it worked three loaves for me. (I have also ground dried marrow peas I found but they did taste very much of peas).   Pea protein is pure protein and gives structure to the bread. I bought golden linseed and ground it into flaxseed which is a much fresher way, too.  Sesame seeds grind well but peanuts don’t.  Psyllium husks helped bind the bread together and has high fibre contents but be careful not to use too many or it produces a slimy texture.  Chia seeds have to same fibre content but again be careful not to add too many as they, too produce a slimy texture.  Ground almonds works well but is expensive. The Vital Wheat is necessary to add gluten to the nut flours which have none.   Strong white flour is necessary as is rye and the carb content is around 80 carbs in white and 50 in rye per 100 grams.  A mix of the two effectively gives about 60 carbs.  These flours are your highest carbs but as this bread is high fibre and protein, thus extremely filling you will need only very thin slices.  Even if you wanted to, you’d be hard pushed to eat more than a slice at a time.  I have managed to cut this loaf thin enough to make about 20 and sometimes more slices.

The bread in the picture cut very thinly and held together well.  It was crusty on the outside and nicely moist in the middle.  One loaf lasts my husband and I a week and keeps very well.

For this loaf:

100 grams mix of strong white and rye flour

100 grams Soy flour

  50 grams ground almonds

  75 grams Pea protein

  25 grams sesame flour

  20 grams psyllium husks

  25 grams coconut flour

  75 grams of Vital Wheat

  30 grams of flaxseed

100 grams of seed mix

Mix all ground flours and wheat flour together and add 30 grams butter, teaspoon of salt and a teaspoons of  (real) sugar or equivalent honey.  You will need real sugar to activate yeast. 

If you want a sweeter bread use about a tablespoon of alternative sweetener but not xylitol as it will kill the yeast due to its natural reaction in destroying fungus

Add to this 7grms of quick acting yeast

One tablespoon maybe two of natural full fat yogurt

One egg

One pint of warm water.

Mix well with dough hooks on an electric mixer.  My mixer is a hand one and I just moved it around to help the motor cope as you will be working with dense flours. Make sure your dough is moist and adjust water to suit.  I found about a pint was good and it resulted in a sort of gooey dough.  If your dough is too solid don’t be afraid to add more water. This bread mix is very forgiving!

Turn on your oven to 50c for about a minute and then turn it off. This merely creates a warm environment for the yeast to work.  Pop the bowl of dough in and leave it for up to two hours.  I cover mine with a little cling flim but very loosely so it has a chance to breathe

When the dough has doubled in size – or near enough doubled – take it out and place on oiled bread oven tray.  Don’t knock it back.  It will make two loaves.  I found by letting it rise the once, it didn’t sprawl and was much crustier than my previous breads. So, it only needs to rise once.  Heat your Heat your oven up to 220c and put the bread in for 15 minutes.  Turn oven off and leave it in for another five minutes. 

If the process has gone according to plan you will have two weighty loaves. One to use and one to freeze.

Let me know how it goes….

Friday, 8 August 2014

A tribute Great War 1914 - 1918

A tribute to those who fought in the Great War 1914-18

Tribute to  WWI soliders

In 1914 they rose to the call
answering with loyalty
and patriotic footfall

For hope and glory they obeyed the imperial law
to help fight in the war that was to end all wars.
Now one hundred years later - same  place and same time  - the last post is playing and church bells chime

I stand on a ground that was once called no man’s land -
it was a desolate place of  barbwire and trenches and across the frontline spanned.

A surviving veteran of the hellish scene wrote:   “there was incessant gunfire and poisonous gas, that blinded and tore at lungs and throat.”

Now here I stand, as you once did, on that same soil  reminiscent in the killing, sorrow and grief
and breathe an air that ever evokes memories of  the horror, of disbelief.

The sun shines its warm rays today on poppies, wild flowers and fields afar
but on the horizon of many lost lives, there is still a sadness - forever a scar.

Never let the suffering, indifference to fellow men, the pain be forgotten
never let it be in vain
I proudly pay homage to the men who fell in the Great War of 1914 and today I commemorate the date
in my own lineage of time at the Menin Gate

A.Main 2014

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Back in time

The Golden age of steam train travel

YORK railway station was the perfect setting to greet the steam hauled Waverley as it chugged its way along the distinctively long platform.
The train was primed and prepared to take us on one of the country’s most famous and best engineered tracks from Settle to Carlisle for an authentic trip to recapture the golden age of rail.
My excitement and that of my fellow travellers was tangible and helped create an atmosphere of unconcealed pleasure as we watched crimson heritage carriages moving steadily towards us under the power of the Scots Guardsman 46115.
The evocative smell of the coal driven steam engine filled our senses as it billowed out in dusky clouds before disappearing upwards into a blue sky.
The polished engine resplendent in its BR Brunswick green glinted in the early morning sun as slowly it came to a halt with the sound of rhythmic shunting and a sudden clamping of wheels.
All of us were waiting with great anticipation, for the trip across the Yorkshire countryside in a style long forgotten. We were about to revisit the golden age of rail when train travel was designed not only for swiftness and convenience but for sheer pleasure from start to finish.
The prospect of spectacular views and a landscape only visible from this line of track made it all the more special because we were about to travel across some of the country’s most remote and inaccessible regions.
Our group was made up of all ages with various agility, the young and not so young.  Some  to experience a moment in time, some to reliving their youth and the serious train buffs, there to measure speed, sound and other technical parts of the operation.

This was going to be a day return, not only on an exceptional track that would take us up and over peaks, through dales and across famous viaducts but it would also transport us back to the opulent time of train travel.
Our party was met by our Great Rail Journeys tour manager, Mike Williams who has been working with the company almost since it was formed 25 years ago and whose love of travel, people, long train journeys and hills made him the ideal guide.
This was the first steam train journey that Great Rail Journeys had put on so it was it was also an initiation for Mike who handed out our itineraries and other facts of interest.  He too was enthusiastically looking forward to the day and what was to unfold.
As we boarded carriages that had passed many milestones of their own over the years, we settled into the plush velvet seats taking in the surroundings and interior of carriages that are no longer in standard use.  
I was sitting at a table of four, already set with white tablecloth and cutlery with a flower centrepiece and a table lamp.
From my window seat I watched people working out their own seating arrangements and the excitement was clearly palpable.
We were filling up fast and soon I was joined by a party of three who I was about to share the day with.
Michael, Sheila and Joan were out to celebrate Joan’s first anniversary of her triple heart bypass in her 89th year.
Across the isle a couple were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in a way that had been very much part of their courtship and marriage. He was a train buff from the age of three and she had happily supported his passion, announcing that their first date was sitting at a cold railway station waiting for a steam train to pass by.
In the next booth there was a couple who had recently moved to Yorkshire from Cambridge and wanted to experience the county. They were sitting with a couple who had travelled from Scotland to join the train for an adventure back in time.
The whistle blew and the train slowly pulled out giving us a grand view of the station and in my opinion, the perfect backdrop for the Waverley.
Built just outside the city walls, it has magnificent curved decorative ironwork that dominates the 19th century architecture. It is reminiscence of long forgotten days and characteristic of a station that that has witnessed much change since it was built in 1877 - then the largest railway station in the world.
Soon the train was picking up speed and making its way towards Leeds.
My fellow passenger, Michael, leaned across to point out some famous landmarks, places that had one time been home to the majestic engines in the once extensive sidings, now a huge housing estate and an original junction which was now the site of a massive supermarket.
Michael, I discovered, was a York City historian, avid cricketer, Yorkshire cricket club fan and also a steam train enthusiast so I had the advantage of getting to know local history along with what was in my itinerary.
Joan was also a York historian and was helping to compile a book about the city and as we travelled, I shared their memories of yesteryears and we also made a few of our own.
All three of my fellow travellers had worked for the chocolate factories, Rowntrees and Terrys and my history lesson on York would not be complete without mention of the chocolate industry created in the 18th century that had, along with the railways, created the majority of jobs for the people in the city.
As we approached Leeds station, we passed the impressive circular building of the Corn Exchange built in the 1860’s.
This said Michael escaped the redevelopment of the city in the days when buildings were being pulled down rather than renovated.
Here we picked up more passengers and not long after leaving the station, a welcome champagne cocktail was served with which we toasted the day.
I surrendered to a delicious full English breakfast served by the dexterous skill of waiters who could place food on our hot plates and tea and coffee in the breakfast cups, despite the swaying motion of the train.
As the train swallowed up the miles the urban city gave way to open countryside, my attention was taken by the couple celebrating their 40th anniversary, despite my neighbour Michael’s enthusiasm about a disused mill that we were passing and his account of the demise of the industry.
Over the isle, the anniversary husband had looked up from the books and charts in front of him, to point out how we were climbing and to notice the sound of the engine.
I wanted to listen, to this quiet man who could probably write his own book on the railway.
As he studied the books in front of him, his wife smiled over and then turned back to staring out of the window, lost in her own reveries.
She looked as though she was recalling days gone by and dreams.
Suddenly she looked up:
“My husband has been mad about trains since he was three years old, his mother would have to take him off the window ledge because he  would sit there all day watching them.
“This trip is an anniversary gift from our children,” she smiled fondly.
The train was heading for the Aire Valley and into the Yorkshire Dales, calling at the historic railways stations,  Shipley, Keighley and Skipton then at Appleby where we were to stop to take on water.
We rolled on through rugged countryside that opened out into vast areas of unspoilt and untouched lands.
Along the track people lined the roads, bridges and grouped together at junctions to wave, men dipping their flat caps in respect.  We waved back feeling like royalty but it was the grand and regal engine and its flamboyant approach that was drawing the admiration.
Photographers were out in their hoards, they were along the tracks, in the fields, on rooftops all seeking a timely moment to capture a shot of history in motion.
We travelled on and upwards on one of the country’s most arduous climbs from Settle junction which is a gradient of one in 100.
Someone walking down the isle stopped to ask us if we heard how hard the engine was working to carry its freight towards England’s highest station, Dent.
There was great excitement in the carriages as people took their places by the   windows to watch for the Ribblehead viaduct.
Looming up ahead was the famous 440 yard long structure which has 24 arches, some up to 165 feet tall that took four years to construct using the local limestone – a most spectacular bridge that spanned the foot of the Pennines.
Directly in front was the 2414 ft high peak of Whernside and then passing into a cutting we entered the 2629 yard long Blea Moor tunnel.
Once out of the tunnel, spoil heaps were our first sighting as we curved towards the 100 ft tall ten arch Dent Head viaduct and then an imposing 11 arch Arten Gill viaduct which is 117 feet above the water and then on to Dent, 1,150 feet above sea level and the highest mainline station in England.
At Appleby where the train was to take on water, we had 20 minutes to stretch our legs and decide whether we wanted to spend the afternoon there or continue to Carlisle.
I was invited onto the footplate of the steam engine and met engine driver Mick and fireman, John,  who had both worked on the railways in the early days before steam engines were  disbanded and thrown on the scrap heap in favour of the diesel.
Faces spotted with black soot from the engine’s funnel, they had both been working with steam again since the engine’s restoration and triumphant return and, said Mick:
“It’s like being lads again!”
I elected to continue on to Carlisle and enjoy the scenery yet to be discovered.
The train departed, waved off by another band of smiling loyal supporters and again, along the track people lined the roadside, waving and dipping their hats and we infectiously smiled back.
All of this created a brilliant atmosphere, feeling of cohesiveness and strangely a sense of national pride.
As we pulled into Carlisle having had a light lunch served by the same immaculate waiters we all went off in search of the city.
I had never been to Carlisle before so wasn’t sure what to expect and on that particular day they had a continental market with interesting smells that unfortunately lured me in because I then spent too long exploring the market to see much of the City.
It was the stall that boasted olives from Belfast that won my curiosity because I just had to know how olives were related to Ireland
Carlisle is one of Britain’s oldest cities which dominates the borderlands between England and Scotland.
It has a stirring past linked to Celts, Romans, King Arthur and Bonnie Prince Charlie who have all left their mark.
There is an ancient castle and cathedral quite close together and I popped into the cathedral briefly to hear  the choir rehearsing.
My time was moving swiftly on so I had to head back to the station.
Our homeward bound journey was relaxed and our tables set for a four course silver service dinner.
Once again I was impressed by the way our waiters could get the food on our plates, it was a topic of conversation for most of us whose eyes were riveted to the spoons that could hold slippery vegetables in their grip while waiters stood steely against the rolling track.
The sun was still quite high in the sky as we left for York and as it slowly lowered it created a changing light across the escarpment. Beams of sunlight hit various points on the hillsides and cast shadows and reflections in the valleys which brought to mind  the expression ‘God’s own county’.
It was verified with a broad and colourful rainbow that crossed from one side of the track to the other.
“A perfect ending to a perfect day” toasted my fellow passengers as we all raised our glasses.