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Our Go Ape Experience

We all know exercise is good for us…..right…  It should also be um fun…..right??????   Bwahahahaha.  I couldn’t not share this quickly on the blog.  I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved in the last year so far.

As if some of you hadn’t thought I was nuts enough to start running at my age, I accepted a challenge from Simply Health, to try out a new Fitbit Flex, and use it for activities locally.  We all need more exercise, don’t we?

I worried a little about my hands as they’re weak, but I’m not going to let that stop me.  Little did I know what I’d let myself in for.  Numpy, yes me, that’s what I am, really and truly.  Next time someone asks me to do something like this, bop me on the head, then tell me what a great thing it is to do.  I’ll believe ya – honest.  It’s good for me too.

The challenge they set, was to do the local Go Ape course at Crathes Castle, which is something I’ve never tried before, although I’ve watched my boys try out something smaller.  They had a blast, and it looked like fun.  I could do this……right?  Ya bet I could.  Maybe….

On what looked to be a really rubbish and drizzly, yucky day, we rocked up to start our safety briefing, in our recommended clothes, ready to get mucky and wet.  With gloves on, my hair tied back, and sensible shoes on, I was ready to go with a couple of my boys.  Thankfully the sun came out and it ended up as a pretty good day.

The experience of Go Ape, promises a tree top adventure, flying down zip wires, jumping off tarzan swings and high rope crossings in breathtaking woodland.  It’s a lot to live up to.  It also sounds painful for someone who wasn’t even a couple of flights of stairs fit not that long ago, but hey, even at my age, new things are worth trying.  If I can do it, then almost anyone can.  But….and you’ll have to read on……for where I needed a boost up…

Some others in the group in front of us were taking pictures of each other, very artfully, as they only had to hook themselves on and go, but as I’d two kids to supervise, and make sure they were hooked and unhooked on each time, I didn’t get time to take any shots at all, and had to make do with the ones from my other half’s phone.  We went last, as I’d two kids to keep an eye on, and it was just as well, as we seemed to take ages.

At the top of this slide, I looked down, checked sideways, saw some people watching and pretended to be not scared at all.  Not a jot.  Who me?  You’re kidding right!



I got stuck at one bit.  I took one look at the Tarzan Swing, across to a cargo net and even my eldest said he was “shi****g” himself…  That didn’t make me feel any better, honestly…  Especially after hearing someone screaming when they did it ten minutes before us……  Having weak hands meant that I struggled to pull myself up on the cargo net after the Tarzan Swing.  My hands had almost had it, and pulling myself up to the platform was impossible, so one of the instructors had to give me a bit of a help up, which was fine.  I still had to do it myself, but with a little help from a pulley to take the pain away from my hands.  I am so glad I had gloves with leather palms on, or at this bit, I’d have struggled even more.  There was the option for a slightly easier route, but with boys being boys, they wanted to go the hard way, and mum being mum, and supervising, had no option but to go the same way… Duhhh…

The zip slides were incredibly more fun than I expected, even though I bashed my head on the second one by lying too far back as I dug my heels in to stop.  Just as well they have that soft bark on the bottom, or I’d have been spending the night in A&E.  As it was, my head sort of bounced and it was fine, but taught me to keep my head up on the next two…  Lesson learned….  Pretty quick…

The Go Ape experience, according to the internet, burns approximately 500 calories for a woman, so it’s a not too shabby way of getting some good exercise in there while also having some fun.  My shoulders ached just a little afterwards, but nothing major, although my hands might take a day to recover, but if you don’t have a touch of arthritis or anything in your hands, you’ll be fine.  I’m not sure that many other women my age would go swinging about like tarzan, but hey, we’re only as old as the things we do.  I’m nowhere near ready for the pipe and slippers…  Maybe when I’m 90!

Right, the Fitbit Flex.  Thanks Simply Health, for the lovely gift.

Fitbit Flex 1

This was easy to pair with my phone, and wearing it was quite simple, although it felt a bit strange being a little loose for the first couple of hours.  I used it to do a 5K on my treadmill to try it out, and felt oddly gratified that it showed 6.5K, on a par with my Apple Watch, when my treadmill hit the 5K, at around the same time as it takes me to do outdoors.    Bonus….I’m slow, but proving not to be as tortoise like as I thought I was on the treadmill.  Still plodding slow though.  I’m not kidding myself at all, uh uh…

This was my starting and end point today.  2062 steps before starting, and 5926 steps after it was finished, and I had food.  I was starving afterwards.  I could have eaten dry sawdust, I was that hungry.  I was going to say I could have eaten a scabby horse, but wondered if someone might actually take me seriously.  I wouldn’t eat horse, let alone a scabby one, and a scabby one, I’d be more likely to feed me to, as I’d feel so sorry for it.


The calories on this throws me a bit, as it states calories up to that point in the day, rather than for the whole day upfront.   I ate 991 calores by 5.15 and it said I was 429 calories over for the day, which is deceiving at first.   I quite like that it monitors sleep.  I’ll need to get my youngest night own to wear it and see the quality of his sleep.   He’s a dreadful night owl.

At first, I took one look at the active minutes, and went huhhhh……  Only 9 tiny minutes, heartsink…after three hours swinging about like Jane hanging from the rafters!  Then I realised it only records spells where you’re active for more than 10 minutes at a time, and with spells in-between activities, it seems to have cut out for each one.  Gutted…but makes sense.

I’m a gadget girl, so I was always going to like this anyway.  I’m a sucker for electronics and I DO like the steps it counted for the treadmill.  Not that I’ve already told you that of course.

IMG_2177 IMG_2182

So, the short story is, that getting more exercise can be fun.  Give it a go, you won’t regret it.  Even my eldest actually enjoyed it, and getting any 15 year old to enjoy a family activity isn’t as easy as making a custard pie…… Result all round..

Thanks to Simply Health for the Go Ape Experience and our Fitblit Flex

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Race For Life 2016 and Me

In my eyes, the goal  of Race for Life, is to bring women together and raise sponsorship online.  I don’t have a big circle of real life friends, but you know what, every little thing I can do to help, is a step closer to someone in the future being cancer free.  I don’t have anyone to run/walk with, and I can’t persuade anyone in real life to come with me yet.  Doing anything in public still fills me with a sense of dread, yet, I’ve agreed to run our local 10k, with the kind support of CRUK.

Ladies, if I can do it alone, so can you.  What do we have to lose?  There’s an option for a 5k if you think 10k is too far, and personally, I will be likely to walk as much of the 10K as I run, possibly more, but it’s a little over 6 miles, and I know I can walk that.  5k is only just a little over 3 miles, and with a little walking training from now till then, almost all of us could do it. It really is time to ‘lace up our trainers.’  It’s handy that my trainers have some pink in them….  I suspect I’ll have new ones by then.

Run Trainers

Yes, I can run around 8k, slowly, on a treadmill, at a push, with no wind or hills – but outside, I’m lucky if I can manage half a mile without thinking I’m going to keel over.

I’m Diabetic, I have Fibromyalgia, Costocondritis, feet trouble, and often suffer with back pain too.  Any sort of exercise is a huge challenge for me, but sitting on my backside doing nothing, isn’t an option if I’m to be healthy into my fifties, sixties and more.

For my local event 10k, the questions I wanted answered are given here.  You can find out what your own venue will have by checking the event pages.

Aberdeen 10k Facilities

  • Toilets
  • Refreshments
  • Parking available
  • Suitable for dogs
  • Suitable for pushchairs
  • This event is suitable for wheelchair users with assistance

The Course

The Aberdeen route will take you along the beautiful Beach Esplanade, taking in the amazing view of Aberdeen beach. The double lapped course is completely flat and the terrain consists of tarred roadways, with the exception of the finish straight which is a grassed area.

Meeting Point

The meeting point is within the main grass area of the event site next to Linx Ice arena. Please arrive one hour before the start time of your race.

The Training

Yes, I’m going to have to do some training, most outside.  I can walk the distance easily, but running as much as I can will be difficult, especially if I have a Fibro or Costo flare up on the day.  I’ve accepted that if it does happen, I’ll be walking it all, as no matter how much I want to run on those days, actually getting two feet off the ground makes an attack last for longer than it needs to.  Just the walk on a day like that, is a huge accomplishment.

I’ve downloaded the Race for Life App, and also the 10KIQPLAN.  There’s around 9 weeks to get moving.

Race for Life have a training plan on their website, for beginners and for intermediate runners.  I’m going to try a bit of both, to help me run outside a little.

What to Wear

I have a pink t-shirt that will do the job wonderfully, but I’ve bought the official race for life cap, as I don’t want to risk getting sun on my face.  I burn too easily to take that chance.  I also splashed out on the lightweight rain jacket, and the little wrist wallet for money and my car key.   Apart from that, I’ll have on my trainers and a pair of running trousers.  I don’t do skin tight leggings.   Maybe one day, but not yet.


I’ll be blogging my training, so if you think you’re alone in trying to do this, you can keep me company.

Other Ways to Help

If you can’t walk or run, or you’re a male, there are other ways to help, offline and online, including a Bakesale, Volunteering, Quiz Nights, or even getting your kids and their schools involved.  You don’t have to run on the day to raise money for a good cause.  Personally, I’ll open a Just Giving account and hope I can raise something to help out.  I might not raise a lot, but if I don’t try, it’ll never happen.

Find out More

With Cancer Research UK, and Tesco as their partner, a huge following, that includes thousands of women and young children has been successful across the UK.

They say:

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life is a series of women-only events raising money for research into all 200 types of cancer.

This years campaign has kicked off in earnest, with around 300 events, up and down our little land.

Did you know, that every couple of minutes, someone, somewhere in the UK, is diagnosed with cancer.  I don’t think there can be many of us who have not been touched by cancer at some point in our lives.  Personally, my mother is a breast cancer survivor, and my mother in law fought a brave battle with cancer before she died.  My own experience has been limited to rogue cervical cells which were treated when I as in my twenties.  I am ever thankful of the research done in the past, to allow me to stop those developing into potential cancer cells.

Race for Life events raise money to find new says to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.   There is no Government funding, so it’s all down to us, the people who live with cancer and it’s affects on families.

The success of race for life seems to be stemmed from largely being women, who can walk, jog, run, or amble around the courses, all with the single goal of finishing the distance, and bringing some much needed support for research.  If you want to find out more about how the money is used, check it out here.

Events that might be close enough for you to attend, include.

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You’re Never Too Old to Play on a Swing

Ok, I gave it a go, and decided outdoors running in any of my current shoes is a no go.  I only made three-quarters of a mile and my feet were killing me today.   It doesn’t help that I bruised my arches on the daft shoes with too much support yesterday, which I only felt when I’d done my 5k.

Perhaps I’ll always be a treadmill runner, but kids were bored, and nobody had to go anywhere,  so we went out for a wee jog.

In the end, we eventually went to the park, before hitting Maccy D’s.

I have to admit, that I’ll never be too old to play on swings.  I was too heavy for a while, but now I’m a more normal size, it was fun to climb the chutes and swing away like I used to do.  Who cares if I got funny looks.  I also love how my boys, even though they’re all early teens, still wanted to go play.  I bet they wouldn’t admit that in front of their friends!!!!

We had a lovely evening, and it was worth getting off our bums, cold or not.


My 13 year old took these on his phone, so forgive the poor quality, but I’ve spent so long – not doing things like this, that I couldn’t resist sharing on my blog.  Fitness has to become a much bigger part of my life, and hiding away has to stop.


The next time you go to the park, give it a go.  You never know, you might just enjoy yourself…


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Running on Empty – What I’ve Learned from beginning to Run

collaborative post

Run Watch

I did my first 10K yesterday. It was on the treadmill, and it took me forever, and I also had to walk a bit of it, but I ran solid for 90 minutes before I had to walk for a little bit, then I ran to the end.

Yes, I’m slow. It’s more of a jog than a run at my speed, but I’ve got two feet off the ground for a long spell of time. Maybe I’ll speed up, and maybe I’ll always be slow, but at my age, I’m just amazed that my body is coping with all of this.

Less than a year ago, I found myself out of breath climbing two flights of stairs. That was incredibly devastating as I used to be fit. Not 10K running fit, but I could have walked for hours on end at a speedy pace. Having a young dog helped then. Over the years, diabetes and the under active thyroid, along with my fibro which affected my feet and plantar fascitis in both of them as well, I ended up as a bit of a wreck.

I was heading towards a big birthday, and all I could see was that my life was headed towards a spiral of weight, being sick, tired and unfit. I struggled to stay awake after eating anything, but the diabetes was a bit out of control and my blood sugars were high. Once I added thyroxine, I seemed to find the energy I’d been lacking for a long time.

I started walking to get my blood sugar down and one day, on a whim, I started the couch to 5K routine. It was a killer. I barely made the first day of running for one minute at a time, interspersed with bouts of walking.

I now know that slowing to a walk is ok. If it needs to be done, there’s no shame in it. Several times, I almost gave up. Especially on the longer runs of 20 minutes plus. It seems incredible to me, that now, I think of 30 minutes of constant running as an easy run. This is me talking. 30 minutes of running is easy – well apart from the first few minutes, which are always a killer, until I find my running legs and my calf muscles settle down to a rhythm.

Yesterday, I did my usual three or four weekly 5K. Then I decided to go for 6.4k, to make it a 4 mile run. At 6.4k, I still felt strong, so kept going until around 8k, where I had to take a bit of a breather for a few minutes, then I picked the pace back up, now determined to hit the 10k mark. Possibly stupid to go straight from 5k to a 10k, but that’s an exercise high for you. I ran the last 1.5k very slowly, slower than my starting off pace, but I did eventually hit the 10k, and slowed to a walk to cool down.

My back hurt….. My feet hurt….. But I did it…..

What I’ve Learned Over The Last Few Months of Running… My Tips for New Runners – those even newer than me, and I’m still new.

It’s ok to be slow.

Never compare myself to anyone else.  Other people don’t have my health issues, and what’s tough for me, could be easy for someone else.  If you sail past me while I jog on, then just give me a smile as I end up eating your dust.

Weight loss can slow up when you start running.

I’ve heard of other people who’ve lost a pile of weight when they start to run.  I’m told that some weight is fluid retention to repair the muscles that are stressed in some new runners.  I have metabolism issues, and for me, weight loss has slowed to a snail’s pace.  I am growing muscle in my legs, and although I fit into smaller clothes, my weight is not reducing at a rate to reflect that, but it’s ok to be heavier at a smaller size clothes.  It will sort itself out over time, as long as I stay in a calorie deficit.

Other runners can be as*es…

Most other runners are encouraging, helpful and understanding.  We can’t all be race winners, or even race finishers.   If we get up off our backsides and try, we are all life winners.  I think of
myself more as a jogger, but everyone seems to refer to running nowadays, and the NHS app says I’m a runner, so run/jog, it’s all getting two feet off the ground.  I’ve heard from other newbies who’ve had their speed dissed by experienced runners.  Honestly, don’t care about it.  We’re not all natural runners.  Sometimes, people who are, don’t understand how much work it is for the rest of us.

Protein is more important than I ever thought.

Learning to run while you’re in a calorie deficit isn’t simple.  When I started upping my time running, I was finding recovery tricky.  I felt fine after the run, but quickly crashed.  Some days, I needed two days rest between a run.  After a bit of reading, I realised that I was nowhere near meeting my daily protein needs.

(Affiliate Link)

I needed to find a way to get more protein at lower calories, and got sick of things like eggs, so started looking at protein shakes.  I finally settled on myprotein, as it has 20g of protein in 25g of powder, which suits me fine and didn’t break the bank.

A recovery drink stops me wanting to go to sleep after a long run.

I’ve found my holy grail of recovery drinks.  Here’s my recipe for it.

  • 50g Frozen Raspberries
  • 50g Banana
  • 20g Myprotein Powder
  • 200ml Skimmed Milk

I blitz this in my Nutribullet for a few seconds, and I’m ready to go.  Sometimes, I replace some of the raspberries with frozen Mango or Strawberries.  I always use frozen fruit for this part, as I like the consistency and it’s easy to always have fruit in the freezer, ready to go.

It has around 220 Calories, with 25g Protein.

Running shoes are a must.

I’ve struggled with my feet throughout this process.  I tried cushioning, but those didn’t support my arches enough, although I’m told I’m a neutral runner.  Perhaps it was the plantar, but the neutral cushioned ones I had caused me problems with the ball of my feet and feeling my tendon move inside my arch.  At the moment, I’m back to my old Nike support ones, but I need more cushioning on the forefoot, so I have a new pair on order.  I don’t overpronate, so I don’t need high stability shoes, but I do need some support.

Doing some research into what shoes you need is very important.  Much more than I realised at the beginning of all this.  The right shoes help keep injury rates down.  My current Nike’s are fine for 5k, but I need more cushioning for longer distances.

Run Trainers

Don’t run in cotton joggers!

Honestly, really don’t, unless you’re in the early stages of the C25K.  I skint my knees with mine on a 5k.  I’ve got some silky trackie bums that slide over skin now, from Asda, and some others on order to try.

Enjoy it.

As hard as this sounds, it’s important to realise that exercise should be fun – eventually.  I really hated the first weeks, and I still dislike the first 5-10 minutes of a run, but once I’m past that, I now begin to enjoy it.  Who’d have thought I’d ever enjoy this…..

Music is Key.

I can speed up to some tracks, and others slow me down.  I’m making a playlist of the songs that help me to go a bit faster and keep my motivation high.  At around 7k yesterday, I got a little emotional, and almost cried.  Not from pain, but because the song lifted me and I felt invincible doing what I was doing.  I hope to keep doing this as long as I can, as I feel amazing after a run.

I don’t always enjoy every minute of a run, and some parts are difficult, but without the right music, I can’t cope.  I tried using the treadmill and watching the news, but found that too boring.  If my music is loud enough to stop me hearing my feet hit the ground, I’m happier.  When I can hear each step, it puts me right off and I almost crumble.  As well as that, some runs are just rubbish, especially if I’m not feeling 100%.

Your Nose may RUN, RUN, RUN

This did my head in to start with.  Whenever I run, my nose feels left out and decides to join in, especially if it’s cold or slightly windy.  I carry some tissues and a few antibacterial wipes in my pocket or my waist bag, as there’s nothing worse than a runny nose.

Running Outside is Tougher for me.

I do most of my running on a treadmill as I was lucky enough to get a great deal after Xmas.  Without it, I doubt I’d be running so far at a time.  Outside, my feet hurt much sooner, as the treadmill is much more forgiving on them.  I’d go outside more if I could face being seen, but I’m not there yet.  I have my treadmill facing a window, so I can see outside and just put on my music.  I started off without the treadmill though, and I’d have kept going without it, although I suspect my progress would have been much slower.

If you decide to go for it, the best of luck, and let me know how you get on.

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I’ve a confession to make.

Yes, I have.  Through stress, and under active thyroid and diabetes, over the spell of a few years, I gained a bunch of weight, and I mean a whole bunch.

100lbs if I’m to be exact.

Last June, I was diagnosed and put on meds for my diabetes and for my underactive thyroid.  The thought of losing a limb or going blind terrified me, but the possibility of losing was daunting.  I’d reached as low a point as I could go.

Yet, I didn’t really share.  How could I?  I met many of my fellow bloggers in 2011, in London, but have not met any since.

My circle has shrunk and shrunk, and while my kids are part of the reason, they’re not the reason I turned down a lovely TV company on their offer of being part of something awesome.  My weight gain was also the reason there have been so few photos of me over the last few years.   I’ve avoided the camera like the proverbial plague.

So, last June 2015, I kick started my change.  To stay alive and keep my limbs, I needed to get in control of my life.  Having my thyroid balanced again made a huge difference, and instead of maintaining and often gaining at sometimes calorie levels of 800-1000 a day, suddenly, eating 1200 calories a day meant I was losing weight which helps with the diabetes.

Having a medical condition may have been responsible for me gaining weight, but I have still had to put the work in to lose it, and it’s been a long haul so far.

I’ve lost weight in the past, pre online diet websites, and I used to track using a spreadsheet.  This time round, I took My Fitness Pal seriously, and it’s free, so I had nothing to lose by starting to log my food.  I started off being majorly stupid.  Going down to 300-400 calories a day, and all low carb at the same time.  It was completely unsustainable, but it’s the way I’d lost weight, every time, since my first “diet,” at 15, when I lost a stone the sensible way, by calories in v calories out.  What my 15-year-old self knew, was that fad diets just don’t work – at all.  Somehow, along the way, I forgot how to be sensible.  And now you know why I make so many soups….

Me (1 of 1)As of now, I’m 83 pounds down, and with only 17 to go until my gain started, probably around 2009/2010, I’m eyeing up being back to the weight I was at 15, as I can see me getting there this time round.  I’m conscious that I will have to eat at this level for what is possibly the rest of my life, eating around the 1200 calorie mark, but I can live with that.  What I struggled with is gaining at 1000 and less, as people just didn’t believe me, so I’d hibernate away from the world more and more, until I became a virtual recluse, only going out the front door when it was absolutely necessary or for people who knew me through the gain.  For people I hadn’t seen for years, I made every excuse under the sun to avoid seeing them.  Ok, I know it’s a flattering picture from a night out, but hey, after all this weight loss, I deserve a little bit of flattery. 🙂

The one thing people don’t tell you when they’re really fat, is how much of a struggle it is to get through daily life.  Just tying shoelaces is a near impossibility, as is bending down to pick things up from the floor.  And the shame, when you’re the fattest person in a room is simply incredible, if you feel all sorts of negative emotions around being overweight, which I do.  My father in law died, and the only thing I could get on my expanded backside was a pair of dark coloured jeans, that were so tight that I felt they were cutting me in half.  I saw the half lopsided eye sliding people, even though I wore what looked like a suit jacket to cover up a bit, but I suspect many people thought my wearing jeans was disrespectful, but I’d no choice in it.  I’d convinced myself that “something” would fit, and on the day, when I tried to find something……there was nothing.  It was put on the jeans or not go, and that wasn’t an option for a family member.

I’ve declined to go to two funerals of people I should have gone to, simply because I couldn’t face people seeing how fat I’d got.  I always pulled childcare duty, going out of my way to do it, in an excuse to be busy, and have a reason not to go.

Then, we’d have someone like the TV personality who gained and lost weight to “prove,” how lazy us fatties were, and I’d feel even worse about myself, and possibly eat something that took me over my very low maintenance level, and that would make it even worse again.

It’s safe to say, that I’ve lost more years than I care to think of recently, due to the wobbly blubber that I laid down under my skin.

So – extreme weight loss…. Yep, that’s what it’s called.  I qualify for that now, but I’ve still got possibly a fair few to go, before I try to reach my age 15 weight…….  I think I’ll aim for the 100 mark, then see where I go from there.  At the 100lb mark, is where people used to tell me I was too thin, despite still being past the middle section of the BMI chart.  I’ve also started C25K, using the NHS running app, and have lost inches that don’t correspond to the numbers on the scale, so I’m getting slowly smaller, despite not losing so much recently.

The big ho ha, is people I’ve not seen for months, for whom, I’ve dropped almost 6 stone, and they say nothing………  I’m never sure whether to laugh or not.  Perhaps they’re scared to say anything in case I pile it back on again. 🙂

Anyway, that’s where I’m at, and why this blog is turning so foodie.  Food is becoming something I enjoy very much now that I can eat more than I used to, but making healthy choices has become a big part of my life, with some treats thrown in.

My youngest has joined me in doing Couch to 5K, and we’re muddling along nicely, despite my fibromyalgia that means my feet often suffer.  Hopefully they get better with time, and I did the first weeks wearing Fitflop trainers…  Nothing else would do, but I’ve now got myself proper ones, and I’m really pleased that one of my boys has joined me in doing it.

The last part of my weight seems to be taking an age to shift.  I only lost 1lb in the last three weeks, so it’s going to take a while.

There, I’ve done it.  So, now you all know…

Love and light,


ps, ginger tea for weight loss tends to get mentioned a lot.  Make your own mind up about it.


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Have you heard of a cord blood bank? Should you donate blood?

I suppose you can say I was on alert after seeing BBC Doctors, where a nurse pretended to have placenta in a bag for cooking, when it was in fact chicken liver for pate.

It was only a couple of days later when I saw the headline…that simply said something like “Why do we use cord banking?’

It had me beat.  At first, I imagined some form of rope, or fibre, or perhaps even some airy, arty, cloyingly sweet name for something as simple as a blood sample from the doctor (what can I say).  I even wondered if it was something to do with some kind of blood for a speciality dish.  We Scots are used to black pudding which is made from ox blood, so although I don’t eat it, my interest was piqued.

Initially, it was a bit of a let down to find out that it’s simply storing blood from the placenta of a new born baby, within one minute of the baby being born, otherwise the blood congeals and is no good for future use.

Then I read further and discovered a whole new world of donation, that helps save lives, and I’d never heard of it.

Donations and Storage

The NHS has a cord blood storage bank.  Yes it does, strangely enough.   You can even register to donate on their website.  It seems a fairly simple thing to do.

Private v Private Storage of Cord Blood


Knowing that there is a difference between public and private storage is very important.  The NHS blood bank is public, and operates in a different way.

In the private banks, donors store the cord blood of their babies, in the hope, that if someone in their family ever becomes sick with a disease that involves stem cells, and is treatable, there’s already a store of blood that can be used, and more importantly, one that is a match.

As with any private service, fees are usually charged yearly for storage after the original bank deposit.  The cord blood banking cost can run into thousands, so it’s not something to be taken lightly


Our good old NHS Cord Blood Bank, collects from public hospitals and is free.  I can’t figure out just how many hospitals can use this service, but for those who are interested in donating, it would be worth calling their hotline to find out.

With a public donation, like any other blood donation, it’s given for the greater good of our fellow mankind.   The blood can be used for anyone who is a match for that tissue type and is not stored just for use by the donating family.   Although the donation is stored for ever more, if it has been given to someone else, then it turns out the child whose blood was donated needs it for themselves, there is no guarantee that it might still be available.  There would, however, still be the possibility for a further match in the public bank.

What Can Cord Blood Be Used For?

As well as cancer of the blood, it can be useful in cases of bone marrow problems, blood disorders, such as sickle cell anaemia, or where an immune system is not doing it’s job, or where waste products in the body are not properly being broken down.

Do We Really Need To Bank Cord Blood?

The possibility of our children needing a stem cell infusion of blood might be rare, but are people actually going for this, given that it is written about as painless and easy to do at the point of birth?

I didn’t give birth to my boys, and I’d no idea this whole thing even existed, but I suspect that if it was available when I was giving birth, I’d be sorely tempted, just for the possible benefit to some child somewhere that might actually need some cord blood in the future.

It’s not something that is ever going to be a consideration for me, but I thought it was worth sharing on my blog, as if even one person donates cord blood as a result of me raising a little awareness, some child somewhere might survive a miserable health condition in the future.

Find out more from the NHS Cord Blood Bank.

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An Underactive Thyroid

You know how it goes.  I’d get the kids up and ready for school, run the stress gauntlet of breakfast, get them moving, get my mum up and breakfasted, then myself ready for the day.  By 9am, all I wanted to do some days, was put my head back down and sleep for hours.  I ate as little as I could, given that I had terrible cravings, but still gained weight.

It did my head in.


When I got checked up recently for diabetes, other blood tests were done at the same time.  What that meant, is that I’ve found out my thyroid was blown, and probably has been for quite a while.

Healthy Thyroid

I’m not hugely under at the moment, but it’s low enough that it’s been causing me problems.  I just didn’t know what to look for at the time.

I should have known better as my mother has been underactive for many years, but hers was knocked out as a result of treatment for an overactive thyroid.

Underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism is easy to miss in the early stages.  I had no idea.  At all.  I knew I was tired, and finding end of the day difficult, although I couldn’t fall asleep, but I put that down to caring for three kids, one with special needs, and two elders with dementia.

The symptoms can be mistaken for other things, so it’s worth knowing what to look out for.  Since I’ve been put on Thyroxine, the pain I had 24/7 in my thumbs seems to have taken a walk off a cliff, leaving me pain-free, but that could also be due to having the diabetes more under control now.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it stays like that.

Symptoms Can Include

  • Weight gain.
  • Extreme tiredness.
  • Sensitive to cold.
  • Depression.
  • Slowing down of movement and thought patterns.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Cramps.
  • Dry skin.
  • Brittle nails and hair.
  • Pain and numbness in hand and fingers.

What Does The Thyroid Do?

Our thyroid regulates our metabolism.  The butterfly shaped gland in our necks is responsible for almost everything our bodies.  In other words, the hormones produced by the thyroid are dumped into the blood stream and are necessary for all the cells in our bodies to work properly.

An unbalanced thyroid will interfere with the way your body uses fats, and can make our body cells work slower than normal in hypothyroidism..  I’ve often been given sideways glances when I said that I put weight on around 1200 calories a day, and couldn’t understand why.  No-one ever believes you.  They really do think you’re trying to make excuses for putting on weight, or think you’re just lazy.  Now I know I wasn’t going mad…..

When the cells slow down, so does the heart rate, and can increase the risk of heart disease, increase the levels of cholesterol in the blood and cause fatty deposits to build up in arteries.  For that reason, it’s important to get diagnosed if your thyroid is out of sync.


Diagnosis is quite a simple blood test, that shows the levels of T3 and T4 hormone in our blood.  The doctor can tell immediately if you have it, by your results.

The Future

As hypothyroidism is often a result of our own immune system malfunction, treatment is usually needed for life.  The drug of choice seems to be Levothyroxine, and I can feel it helping already, despite only having taken it for a fortnight so far.  The disease could also simply be a result of having virus that puts our hormones out of whack, or Hashimoto’s disease, which is often hereditary.

How Can I Stop Underactive Thyroid Developing?

The simple answer is, that you can’t.   Having an underactive thyroid is quite common, more so in women, with around 15 in every thousand women developing it.

Find Out More

Find out more about thyroid conditions at Thyroid UK.


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I May Be A Type 2 Diabetic

After a few weeks of checking my blood glucose levels, it turns out I may actually be diabetic.  By saying ‘may,’ I am more than likely simply underestimating the effect.  My blood sugar readings over the time I’ve pricked my fingers regularly, have been appalling.

Blood Glucose Meter

I know some of you are wondering why I even bothered checking my readings, but when you manage someone else’s diabetes, you do eventually become curious about what your own sugar levels are like.  You mostly know my mum lives with us and has dementia, but she also has diabetes, and I have to control that for her through food, insulin and her tablets.  The exercise part is out of the equation as she can barely walk these days.

My awareness of diabetes had been growing due to monitoring her levels, but one day, around the table, I checked my whole family.  My reading was enough for me to begin keeping watch on my readings, and I am now monitoring one of my children who seems to be sitting on the cusp of pre-diabetes but is still healthy and living within the limits.

There are other symptoms of possible diabetes, which meant I had ruled myself out as a candidate.  The books said that people with diabetes lose weight as they excrete the glucose through urine and not insulin helping it into the body’s cells.  For me, that means nothing.  Lose weight, that’s a laugh.  It was, however the one biggest reason that convinced me that my extreme tiredness after eating especially was more to do with my fibro or sometimes a carb coma if I ate potatoes or pasta.

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

Only two of these symptoms applied to me, so I wish I had done something about them sooner.

  •  passing urine more than you used to, especially at night.
  • becoming increasingly thirsty.
  • extreme tiredness.
  • unexplained weight loss.
  • slow healing of cuts and wounds.
  • blurred vision.
  • increased or unsatiated hunger.

The Future

Whatever my results end up being, I know that from now on, I really need to be careful of what I eat and how I live my life.

I bought myself a blood sugar meter, but the meter itself wasn’t expensive, however the lancets and the test strips are quite pricey.  I believe that some areas of the UK don’t prescribe them for people who turn out to be Type 2 diabetes, which is either where I am, or where I’m headed.

In any case, testing several times a day is helping me keep an eye on which foods do what to my sugar levels and it can turn up some surprising results.  If I drink a diet fizzy drink, my sugar levels can go up as much as 1 mmol (the measurement of blood sugar in the UK.)  There may be other factors at play, but as a rule, my favourite diet fizz has to be rationed for me now.

Type 2 diabetes can come on very slowly, which mean we might not even notice the symptoms.  I suspect I have built up to this for a long time, and I might have chugged on for another few years before it became an issue at all, but thankfully, I seem to have nipped it in the bud.

Getting Tested

If you are in doubt, visit your G.P for a test, like I just did.  If it is diabetes, then early diagnosis can reduce future problems.  Your G.P is likely to start with a fasting blood sugar test which will indicate your levels where you have had no calories for 8 + hours.  If you are diabetic, your body will release glucose as a result of fasting and will result in levels over 7 mmol.

The interesting one for me has to be the increase in levels of hunger.  It’s something I’ve struggled with for a decade.  Apparently, in uncontrolled diabetes, where blood glucose levels are high, glucose from the blood cannot enter the cells, either with a lack of insulin or from insulin resistance.  What that means, is that bodies of people with uncontrolled diabetes cannot convert that food into energy.  What happens then, is that your hunger levels rise and simply eating more will not get rid of the feeling of hunger, as it will just top up the already high blood sugar.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that my sugar readings lately are just a blip, but deep down, I know there is more going on and that it’s likely I have had this for years.  Whether I sit at pre-diabetes or full diabetes is my issue, and I suspect I will need more tests, but in the meantime, I have a way of checking where I sit.  That gives me more confidence in controlling what I do in my daily life.

I am very early in this journey, but with the help of my blood sugar meter, I hope to get on top of it, but it will mean many food changes for me.

Find Out More

For more information, visit the NHS or

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Everyone has a right to be heard. Find out about ACC from the NHS.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) describes the things people can use to let their voice be heard.  Just driving along a road, we recognise the signs giving us instructions.  Even most non drivers know what they mean and we can talk about those things to others.Now Hear Me

But what if we don’t have the ability to say what we want in the traditional way, using our own voices and replying instantly?

Imagine if you lived in a world where people couldn’t understand what you wanted to say.  How frustrating would that be?

ACC helps people to communicate with each other.  Some people may take longer to get their point across, or need to use pictures, symbols or technology to say what is in their heads, but we all deserve the extra time it takes for them to be able to say it.

My own special needs son often uses pictures and symbols to describe his emotions as he can’t put them into words.  When he goes to respite and there are more physically disabled children, I’ve seen him use sign language to communicate with them.  It’s a lovely thing to see.

AAC helps people recognise the signs an symbols of life, even simple things like pictures, hand gestures, pictures and the vast amount of technology on the market today.   What works for one person may not necessarily work for another, but they all allow people to share those common goals of understanding and being understood.

The NHS wants to increase knowledge by the public of how 0.5% of our population can be better helped to let their voice be heard.  I think it’s an important thing for us all to be aware of.  Just a little patience and understanding could mean so much to someone who needs a little extra help to get their opinions across.

It’s difficult to put some of this into words, so I’ve added a couple of videos from the Now Hear Me campaign that explain it much better than I ever could.

Listen to Gavid Drysdale talk about using ACC and vocal aids to lead a full life.

Watch Rachel Monk and how her friends and education have grown with the assistance of ACC.

This is the advice from the ACC on what we can do to help and listen.

What can you do?

  • Recognise that a right to ‘speak’ and be ‘heard’ is a fundamental human right, whether through verbal speech, gesture, signing, picture board or high tech device. Communicating is a fundamental piece of who we are and everyone deserves to be given the time and space to do it.

  • Recognise that everybody is different and that we all communicate in a variety of ways. AAC is not a single tool or approach that will help everybody. There is a range, and people who use AAC want others to support them to communicate in the way they find most effective.

  • People who use AAC need you to be patient. Try to make sure you give people using AAC extra time to get their message across even though this can sometimes feel uncomfortable for you. It is ok to say that you would like to check that you have understood a person’s message by asking them a few questions.

  • Address the person, not their carer or anyone else who might be with them.

  • Remember communication is a two way process. It involves information going in two directions – both being expressed and understood. Sometimes people who use AAC to express themselves might have difficulties understanding what you say to them – for example if they have problems with their hearing or interaction skills. It is important to not make assumptions and to ask the person what works best for them to help them communicate with you.



    Find out more with the NHS.

    Written in collaboration with the NHS for the Now Hear Me Campaign.

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A Little Thing Called Dementia

Dementia 255

It’s the little things that count, right?  Of course they do.

I have two parents with vascular dementia, both very likely brought on by strokes.  Both affected very differently and both with different levels of needs on any particular day.  My dad, in particular is very mistrustful of people, and finds new people very difficult to live with, yet he is in the lucky position of having a lady friend who visits him often and takes him out and about.

My mother lives with us, and while she has her own wee flat in our house, with an area for her lounge, bedroom and a bathroom, she’s become introverted, not wanting to go out or meet anyone at all.  That’s not ideal.

Their support networks are very different indeed.

Good Support for my dad.

In Fife, My dad needed a hospital stay as he lived alone, about a hundred miles from us. There was nobody around him to visit, make meals or help him around the house. He found himself trapped and away from his home, tucked into a mental health hospital on a geriatric ward, despite being able to get out and about if needed.  He is quite feisty and vocal about what he wants, which led to regular meetings and plans for his future decided between social work and health professionals.

He tried going home with carers coming in to cook his meals and help him take his tablets.  It was a disaster as by that time, he was so used to the company, that he couldn’t cope and was back in hospital within a few days.  The hospital was soul destroying as his room held nothing but a bed and a wardrobe.  He had nothing personal, no TV, no outings and it was difficult for his lady friend to visit.  She needed to travel for four hours, to only see him for one hour on each visit.


When I decided to dig my heels in about removing him from the hospital and put him into a nursing home, social work (with support of the doctors) had funding in place and transferred him to a home he chose within a fortnight.

The funding assessment will be done over the next couple of months but hasn’t stopped his help appearing almost instantly.  We’re still left with the headache of what to do with the house he part shares with a residential association but that’s neither here nor there.  It will be a pain, but at least he’s somewhere with his own things around him and close to his lady friend, which is all he wants in life.

Bad Support for my mum.

My mum has a ready-made built-in carer.  Living in our house, albeit independently, I am seen as a ready-made carer whether I want to be or not, so she’s had nothing in the way of outside help at all.  It doesn’t help that she’s the type of woman who never complains about anything and just muddles through with us for help.  Even a year post diagnosis, we have still not been assessed by social work for any care she or we as a family might be entitled to, and that’s not without pushing buttons, asking the right people and more.

Being a sandwich carer is a challenge.  I have three kids, one of which regularly enters respite to give us a break, but caring for mum is ongoing too.  She’s finding it more and more difficult to do daily tasks, even to the point of showering, which she can just about manage if someone is in the room, to make sure she doesn’t fall.  She turns her frustration on not remembering things onto herself and wants to hide in her wee flat twenty-four seven.  Her care needs are only going to increase, not decrease.  She gets stressed at the thought of moving anywhere else and I just can’t put her into a home when she could easily be looked after here if someone gave me a little help long-term.

The problem is, that it’s two different budgets apparently.   I don’t know how true it is, but I’m also told that they find it difficult to find carers who would come to where we live so that she could get help with showering and dressing.  She also puts on a brave face and slips into past things to talk about, which makes them think she’s more able than she is.  Don’t ever underestimate someone with dementia.  They can fool people who are not experienced in the field into thinking they’re more capable than they are quite easily.


So, where we are we now, a year down the line, is without an assessment of need done for her, without future prospect of care unless I consider putting her into a home (my understanding which could be wrong) and we are well and truly trapped in the house as she can’t be left alone for any significant length of time with her diabetes.  That means the man is taking the kids away on his own this year.  I can’t go anywhere as nobody else is confident in managing her insulin and sugar levels, and the man isn’t keen on helping her wash and dress.  She wouldn’t be happy with him doing it either.  It’s a little thing called dignity, not having a man see her naked, even if he would simply be helping.

There are personality changes too.  From a woman who for decades, has always told me off and my own kids for feeding the dog scraps at the table, it’s gone full circle.  When my brother’s dog needs babysat, he sneaks under the table to her feet and she surreptitiously slides pieces of food off her plate and slips it to the dog.  The dog is ecstatic of course and the kids highly bemused, though they do struggle on occasion when she’s asked them the same question ten times in half an hour.

What Do We Do?

Not much to be honest.  What else can we do.  The man has to give up time in his day when I visit my dad to help sort out his messes as my mum can’t be left all day alone, and we’ve found pinning notes around the house help her to not keep having to ask if it’s morning or night etc.  We have a note on the front door to remind her to lock it when she opens it to have a look down the street, which she does fairly often.  We were finding the door constantly unlocked, and just a wee note means she sees it every time she closes the door again, and instantly locks it.  Job done.

It’s all about dignity and what we can give them.  My mum is insular and happy to stay in her own space, but my dad wants the freedom to go out and about.  I have to remind myself that when she acts like a child, it’s not personal, but I do miss my mum, the person I used to chat to more than anyone else in the world.  That person is gone now, and the one left in her place is still funny at times, can still tell great stories of her youth and feels sad at the loss of her independence.

I wish I could get her out of the house more, but the only activity days scheme that would have worked has had to reduce its service due to funding cuts.  The waiting list is so long that it’s likely she’ll have passed on before she gets to the top of the list.  I’m quite sad at how little there is out there for her to do unless she’s put into a home.

The constant care part of it all makes me really rethink my own future life and care plan if I make it to be a senior citizen requiring assistance.  I know I won’t live with any of my own boys, but I also wouldn’t want them to have to live with me and lose out on their own futures.

In the meantime, somehow, I have to find carers to pick up some of the work for the future.  If I get it in place over the next year, hopefully it’s done and we have it when she really begins to struggle even going to the toilet, and yes, it’s going to be tough going, but I’m trying.  I just don’t think my trying is good enough though, as she often seems so sad.

I don’t expect comments, so don’t feel obliged to leave one.  Today is my birthday and perhaps that’s what’s making me take stock, looking at another year of caring in the home for someone who is deteriorating weekly.

Today, I feel selfish, so I don’t plan celebrating, but I do have to get control of my life and the rubbish food I punish myself with when I’m stressed.  I must work to get my confidence back.  It seems to have taken one gigantic knock recently and I feel so rubbish at everything I do.

I just wanted to put this out there, it’s cathartic to write our struggles, even if nobody reads them.  Sorry if you’re looking for food and found one of my personal posts.  I know I don’t post heartfelt posts often these days, but hey, it’s a doozy when I do.

Take care all, enjoy your Easter weekends and happy egg hunting.

If you’re affected by dementia in any way and wish to know more, visit the NHS as a starting point.


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Taking Care of our FEET

Did you know there are 26 bones and more than a hundred muscles, tendons and ligaments in our feet?   Don’t forget the 33 joints that hold them all together.

This picture isn’t my feet, but look at them, and consider just how much work they do each and every day of our lives.


Each one of those bones, tendons and joints can cause us problems if we ignore our feet totally.

Our feet have to support our bodies, so problems with our feet can very quickly make life very difficult for us in our daily walking.  It can also affect how our knees, hips and back feel.

Looking after our feet is something that we should all pay more attention to.  It’s far too easy to ignore them as they spend most of the year hidden away from view in socks, tights or enclosed shoes, especially up here in Scotland, as we don’t often have foot revealing weather to enjoy.

What can we do to look after our feet?


It’s not enough just to wash them when you have a bath or shower, unless you have one every morning and night.

Wash them daily.  Washing our feet at night can remove any build up of grime that can cause them to be infected.

Wash them with soap and water.  Soap and tepid water will help remove the grime that can irritate our feet.

After Washing – Comes Drying

Do you skim over the areas between your toes?  Make sure you dry your feet properly, as the skin can easily become irritated.

Athlete’s Foot is a common condition that can very easily take hold if feet are not properly dried.

Cut Toenails Regularly

Cutting your nails straight across at the top can help reduce the risk of ingrown toenails, which often start when toenails cut at an angle push into the skin.

Socks and Tights

Change your socks or tights daily, to ensure you have clean clothes next to your clean feet and keep foot odour to a minimum.

Swimming Pools and Changing Areas

The potential for athlete’s foot and verrucas increases when you are using public showers and changing rooms.  Keep a spare pair of jelly sandals or fitflops for walking around in areas where there are public shared areas.

Remove Hard Skin

The hard skin that tends to look white when it’s dry on our heels or big toes can be removed with a pumice stone or foot file.

High Heels

Wear them as infrequently as possible.  If you are going out for a special occasion, think about wearing sensible shoes to get there and get home again, which keeps the wearing of high heels at a minimum.  Sadly, after plantar fascitis that persisted for over 2 years, I can no longer wear high heels unless they are spongy crepe soles, but I wish I had not worn heels so much when I was younger.

Common Foot Conditions

Foot pain isn’t something that anyone should ignore.  It is a common problem and as there are so many potential causes of pain, even from something as simple as an ingrown toenail, it’s important that you see your GP for pain or discomfort.

There are some things we can do to help ourselves for the most obvious possible problems.


Take a long and hard look at your shoes.  Do they fit properly?  Is there enough space for your toes?  Is there enough support where you need it?  I spend most of my life wearing FitFlop shoes nowadays as I can walk for miles in them, but spare a thought for me when I had plantar fascitis and the only shoe option I had for day to day wear was a pair of Crocs.


It’s possible that muscles or ligaments have been strained.  We often speak about going “over our ankle,” if we stretch or slip.  It can be by accident, or by doing more exercise than our bodies are used to, and the muscles or ligaments are stretched or twisted.


The condition that is often giggled about, but is no laughing matter for those who suffer from it.  We associate it with living life to excess with rich food and drink, but how true is that?

Gout is essentially a form of arthritis.   Waste Uric Acid builds up in the form of crystals and usually forms in the toes.  The toes become inflamed to the point of causing pain, which can be severe.


One of my kids and I suffer from these regularly.  They are usually small wart like growths on the soles of our feet and they can be painful if they are on pressure points where our feet take the weight of our bodies.

I’ve found verrucas most painful in my heels and the ball of either foot, simply due to the pressure put on those spots.  I’ve tried shop bought and prescribed verucca creams, patches and ointments, as well as the chemist bought freeze sprays, but nothing gets rid of mine until I visit the GP and she uses her stronger freeze spray a couple of times.


These are swellings at the bottom of our big toes that can be very painful to walk on.   The big toe begins to point towards the other toes and makes the big toe joint protrude into a bony lump.  One famous fashion designer who wears very high and pointy shoes seems to have a very painful looking bunion on her small feet.

Being careful about wearing inappropriate shoes might help with the pain.  I am ever grateful I don’t suffer from bunions as they look so very painful.

Plantar Fascitis

This is a foot condition I have had the misfortune to suffer from.  It is damage to the tissue that runs along the sole of the foot.  It causes pain in the heel and can be as a result of wearing down the foot tissues by exercise or strenuous activities involving the feet.

It took two years for my plantar fascitis to be relieved.  Mornings were incredible painful when I placed my foot onto the floor for the first time that day and standing up from any rest period was excruciating.

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Sponsored: Keeping Warm Over Winter

Electric Stove

The NHS states “Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health.  One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during the winter is to stay warm.”

Keeping warm can help us cut down on our risk of health problems like cold, flu and even heart problems.    Last year, we had almost a month in the very cold weather with ZERO heating.  Our boiler packed up and the new one that arrived was also faulty.  Luckily we had a duel fuel system and still had hot water on electric and the gas fire in the lounge.  It was just the gas heating in the rest of the house that we struggled with and the kids hated having showers in really cold rooms.

There are certain people who are more vulnerable to when it’s cold:

  • Over 65’s.
  • Babies
  • People with long term health conditions.
  • The disabled.
  • Low income groups.

In the UK, the NHS says that around 25,000 – 30,000 deaths a year are linked to the cold weather.   We can look at ways to keep warm over the winter which can also help keep costs down.

To stay well over the winter, we can try some of these tips:

  1. Get our flu jabs.  Over 65’s or those who are pregnant or have some medical conditions, or are carers will get it free.   I am classed as a carer and get my injection every year as soon as it is available in a bid to help stop the flu in our home but before I was eligible for the free flu jab, I used to pay for it yearly.
  2. Set our heating properly.  Keeping doors and windows closed is sensible to keep the heat in.
  3. Wear layers of clothing and suitable footwear for outdoor cold weather when we go out.
  4. Eat well. Eating hot food and drinks as well as keeping active is another way to try and keep warm.
  5. Electric blankets are ideal for keeping cosy without breaking the bank.
  6. Hot water bottles are perfect for keeping our feet warm and cosy in front of the TV.
  7. Close the curtains as soon as they daylight stops.

I know we could use a stylish wall fire from TJ Hughes  for our home office as the radiator in there really isn’t big enough to heat the room properly.  It gets overheated in summer and is extra cold in winter.  Perhaps that is because it has a very large window, but the extra heat would be very welcome in there.

If you are on a low income and feel you might struggle with fuel this year, there are some cold weather benefits you might like to spend a bit of time to find out if you are eligible for.  Some of the most common ones are:

  • Grants for winter fuel payments and cold weather payments.
  • Winter fuel payments for those born before July 5 1951.

Find out more.

This is a sponsored post.