all this washing of hands

we all must be suffering from parched hands – all this washing with harsher soap.  I must admit, I am still using a more natural soap thats more gentle but washing thoroughly after I return from the outside.  this strong wind is not also helping the skin.  if you suffer from dry skin, especially in the winter months – remember that the central heating  doesn’t help, but if you put a glass of water by your radiator this will help put some moisture back into the air – add a few drops of lavender essential oil for a lovely aroma ;  there are lots of different products out there, other than cortisone cream which is what doctors seem to dish out. cortisone is good in small doses and especially to stop spreading and keeping the excema under control, but try and use sparingly and then use the more natural options.  my poor husband has very dried out excema knuckles now as he is washing his hands every hour at work.

my daughter has always suffered in the creases of the arms, ever since she was little, and i have tried so many different products.  I am quite a natural person, white witch my son calls it, but generally i try to use natural to cure illnesses first, then if i have to resort to the chemical stuff, fine.  the best of all the products i have tried for dry chapped skin is Napiers, Infant Starflower cream – its soothing, penetrative and doesnt sting.  Calendula cream can sting excema, and therefore make it look redder.  barefoot sos is another soothing moisturiser.. one of my favourites though is golden tumeric cream by  suneeta – it works in all areas that are dry and irritable. hopes relief is an excellent moisturiser for excema and irritable skin.  one cream that really helped my excema breakout last year was dermalex, its apparently steroid free, but it really worked for me. the wonder product for me at the moment is borage oil, which I squeeze from a capsule, it doesn’t smell wonderful, but it is an amazing soothing oil that I use on dry patches on my face before my moisturiser – Liz Earle sensitive moisturiser also has borage as its key element and it really is soothing. I find that at different times of your life, your skin reacts differently and products that did work, no longer do, so I list the products so that you can find what suits you.  I recently discovered Cicaplast balm from Roche Posay and this is quite soothing and if you get the one with the SPF 50 in it, it will help shield some of the sun rays.

other alternatives –  Stellaria cream by Neale’s Yard, or Aloe Vera moisturiser from B Natural Skincare, which is equally as good for any part of your body and Goats milk cream from Elegance.    Apparently lanolin is a big aggrevator of the skin, so avoiding products containing lanolin is advised.   For general everyday use, shower gel, body cream,  aveeno, seems gentle enough and is affordable to just use generously all over the body.  Aveeno has many different creams, some for the hands, some for the face, and it really is moisturising.   hope’s cream is a great non steroid cream and also is available as a body lotion – I use this cream a lot and is my favourite daily body moisturiser at the moment – I alternate between the Hopes Cream and Aveeno.  Remember that hair products, shampoo, conditioner, and especially hair dye all contain chemicals and can cause allergic reactions – it was one of the main culprits in my daughter’s case – its the lathering agent that can cause reactions.  liz earle products are very good for people with sensitive skin, as is australian organics for the hair.   Green people do a very good sensitive hair range and this is great for itchy scalps and people with allergies.   simple products are also non irritating if you want something that is widely available.  the best cream i have tried for dry cracked heels is from dr organic, virgin olive oil cream , homeoplasmine  and good old coconut oil – try one of the organic ones –  it really has worked.  Also using borage oil from the Ordinary helps moisturise those dried out feet.  for lips I love skin & tonic’s naked lip balm. 

As with all creams, i tend to think that your skin gets use to all creams and changing is always a good thing, as your skin responds to new things.  Of course, everybody is different and they react to things differently, but natural is worth a try and none of the above are very expensive, so worth a try.


nature produces the best vibrant colours

I feel that its constant cooking, shopping and clearing up at the moment – in reality there are not always 4 people at home for 3 full meals a day.  its hard to stock up for a week, because things go out of date and I do think that we have all got a bit spoilt with choice and variety – personally I could live on brown rice and veg, but the rest of the family find that so boring.  I love going to the many street markets in london and especially seeing  the interesting array of vegetables from natoora and fern verrrow vegetables – their displays looked like art pieces – i have never seen so many beautiful shades of string beans.  check out tomorrow channel from Tom Dixon with daily recipes.   natoora also do home delivery.

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poetry is a healer at times like this……

its a very strange and unknown time in life and history – our day to day living has been changed overnight and its hard to take this all in.  I find that poetry can really help us to cope with new realities and assess the unknown ahead.  When we are stepping out into uncharted terrain, alone or together, poetry can capture our emotions. It can share our vulnerabilities and scars, along with our strengths. I heard a powerful poem by Nikita Gill on the radio, one that she recently wrote in response to this outbreak and immediately it stirred my thoughts, and I had to look her up.  I found a lot of beautiful poems, this one, I particularly loved.


Your heart beats approximately

104,000 times in a day

and each one of those heartbeats

is far too valuable to waste

on comparing

yourself to another.

You were given your heart’s

unique rhythm to dance

to your very own beat.

Not to the beating of anyone

else’s heart.

Just your own.

Nikita Gill

Now that you have the time, you can treat yourself to one of her books – I definitely will and read her beautiful but poignant and truthful words.

exercise in this strange strange time…..

its a very strange time and we are all trying to adapt to a new way of life, hopefully it will only be for a short time, until we can battle this virus.   its very easy to sink into sadness and depression and not want to do anything – its equally hard to motivate oneself with all this uncertainty and news.  I have decided to start some kind of routine to take me away from dwelling on things too much.  I start with a 12 minute meditation by the brilliant Clare Connolly – I first heard her soothing voice on Jo Good’s show and found her on insight timer.  I haven’t actually subscribed to it, but they offer some free meditations.  strangely I had subscribed to Calm, another app for meditation and mindfulness a few months ago, and I find this so helpful when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.  since this has happened, my sleeping has got more interrupted, but I think that  using apps like this are very helpful.  I love to listen to the masterclasses, especially the one by Elizabeth Gilbert and Pico Lyer, who offer really sound advice about life.

I now do a 15 minute dance cardio by Tracy Anderson, which is a good start to the day or go for a long walk – this was spurred by the fact that my blood sugars have been higher in the last few years, which is a warning to diabetes, so I really have taken this in my stride to try and reduce my sugar level.  apparently 30 mins high energy exercise helps with this.

swing dance was something I have stopped and started, but again its a really enjoyable form of exercise, and they have started an online dance video swing train, 30 mins that looks fun and you download.   triyoga are in the process of doing online classes too, so check out their website.  and online Adriene has lots of classes, short or long, so perfect anyone to fit in the day.  in the evenings I am doing 10 mins of  band strengthening exercises to keep the bone density up, but my favourite choice at the moment, is simply fast walking around the park – of course we need to do this safely at the moment, keeping our distance.    I admit that I don’t do all of these things every day, but each day, I try to choose one or 2 of the exercises to just keep me in shape, stimulate your brain and heart and also to give you some general routine to the day.   I wish you all safe and happy days filled with new exercise routines! and if anyone has any other suggestions, please share!


cuba and doctors

I am guessing you are all feeling like me, scared, anxious,  unsure and frustrated of the unknown;  none of us has ever experienced anything like this before, so there is nothing to compare or learn from.  its a frightening and unsettling time to live in, but strangely it has also brought the worse and best out of people.   its made me realise how lucky we were, how we have lived our lives without fear and freely – now just taking a walk in the park is a simple pleasure.  I love the community spirit though, please help your vulnerable neighbours and keep to the rules so that we can keep the simple pleasures going.

as you may know, we recently went to Venice for our 25th wedding anniversary, and we were so lucky to have a stress free time there, and yet a couple of weeks after we returned, it all went downhill.  It really makes me cry to see the amount of deaths that one country has experienced.  but then I heard that 50 medical staff from Cuba have flown into help Italy – what an amazing and selfless task!  I know that each country has its own worries and problems, but I do think that as this is a worldwide problem, we should work together globally too – I hope that whoever finds the vaccine first shares this worldwide rather than tries to make money out of it.  I was shocked to find out that medicine is the one thing that countries can profit from.

I also forgot that it was in 2014 that Cuba again helped out with the ebola crises.  Cuba is renowned for its wonderful medicine and wealth of doctors, but now i have utter admiration for its compassionate and selfless offer of treating patients .

sadly world travel seems a long way away, but i still have fond memories of my visit to havana a few years ago, its definitely somewhere that I would recommend to take the children to before it completely changes and becomes modernised like the rest of the western world.   i loved the architecture, the tumbledown crumbling buildings, the vintage cars and especially the interiors, some of which had been restored for tourists, but better that than they collapse into dust.
the french pharmacy was founded in 1882, but turned into a the Pharmaceutical Museum in 1964 – medicinal herbs were processed here, which are the source of drugs.  there are beautiful medicinal jars, books and utensils – all showing the history of medications available to the public.  situated on the main shopping street, Obispo, between mercaderes and san ignacio, Havana, entrance is free and its well worth a visit.  like most of restored old Havana, everything seems to be a museum.  i guess that as there is nothing much to sell, then all these beautiful buildings can only serve to be museums.    you can still however buy a few basic medicines, and you can see locals choosing from the small display cabinet amongst the exhibition pieces.

there is something soothing about old pharmacies, there used to be lots in london, but they seem to be getting modernised all the time.   dont know of any old ones now with the beautiful cabinets and jars except in Paris.   you would have to scour the old markets like portobello to find stuff like this.   i have old chemistry bottles in my bathroom, filled with bubble bath and shampoo.


The only way to get through this difficult time is to use the time to recuperate, renew and grow – life was already a fast pace, so apart from all the spring cleaning and rubbish clearing of my cupboards, I have decided to do one creative thing a day;  it might be a photo, a drawing, a piece of writing, an alteration of an old dress, a new recipe or even catching up on an old movie…..   rather than thinking lockdown and isolation, think creativity, innovative and peacefulness.

yesterday I took some photos of the ranunculus that I had in the house.


its that time of year when we come to spain to open the house for the spring – and inspect all our renovations done over the winter;  so for a change we flew into malaga and booked a night in the old town.   malaga is a busy airport for commencing your  holiday on the costa del sol – you fly in, you drive out – i dont think that a lot of people actually stay in malaga.  we normally stay in the hotel Molina Lario, which is perfectly situated, in the old town, by the cathedral and near the sea – there is a little swimming pool on the roof terrace too, but this time we tried Palacio Solecio- a newly restored Palacio; all these hotels look pretty much the same,  quite corporate but the rooms are very clean, the beds comfortable and if you book in advance, you can get a good deal.  what i love about malaga is that it still has beautiful old shops and bars, including the wonderful antigua casa de guardia which is 175 years old that still serves its wine from the barrels and writes your tab in chalk on the bar.   eat lunch or dinner at restaurant los melizos,  very good seafood –  they have several restaurants in malaga as do el pimpi , who also have a lovely outdoor terrace area too just in front of the roman amphitheatre .  the bar at el pimpi is very atmospheric and you can just have tapas there.   walk around the amazing mercado central de atarazanas, with its beautiful stain glass window – its divided into 3 parts, fish fruit and meat, but you can find all the wonderful culinary delights of spain in there.  you must also find time to visit the museo picasso and  the house where he was born .  other museums worth visiting are Museo de Malaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen and the recent Centre Pompidou.   I would definitely choose malaga as a starting point to our holiday in vejer – not only is it authentically spanish and cultural, but only 2 and half hours from our house.   there is so much more to explore!