caring for skin through the winter

if you have suffer from dry skin, especially in the winter months – remember the central heating being on doesnt help, but if you put a glass of water by your radiator this will help put back moisture into the air – add a few drops of lavender essential oil for a lovely aroma –   then there are lots of different products out there, other than cortisone cream which is what doctors seem to dish out.

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.  my favourite though is golden tumeric cream by  sunseeta – it works in all areas that are dry and irritable.
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.   Good old simple is actually good too and is very affordable and in all supermarkets.  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 – liz earle products are very good for people with sensitive skin, as is australian organics for the hair.   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 – and good old coconut oil – try one of the organic ones –  it really has worked.

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.

incidentally wholefoods have a a 25% discount off all cosmetics this week, so definitely worth buying your natural products from there.

new eateries in manchester

I go to manchester so often that sometimes I don’t go any further than my mothers house and the Chinese restaurant that she loves to eat in.  but now and again, I love to explore and if my friends are around they take me to new discoveries.  its such a pleasure to see manchester become more inventive with independent shops and eateries.  the norther quarter is far more interesting to walk around than the shopping streets of manchester and is a short walk from Picadilly train station.

Mackay market has just opened in that area and is housed in a splendid 1850’s listed building and is a wonderful new addition to manchester’s eateries – open from mid morning to late evening, it was pioneered but the same imaginative team that created Altrincham market.   however they don’t do breakfast till 10am, but we got breakfast at Ezra & Gil, which was perfectly nice and offers the popular modern version of cornflakes – avocado on toast!   describing itself as an “evolutionary concept in urban coffee, cafe culture and general provisions.”  Ezra meaning ‘helper’ and Gil meaning ‘happiness’, Ezra & Gil’s ethos is all about creating a coffee experience with a relaxed mood and an array of smells, tastes, sights and sounds to feed the senses.

strange as I don’t think that I had tasted avocado before the age of 35 and now my kids see it as a  normal everyday food  as we did with an apple or orange.  I.have a passion for teapots – beautiful everyday objects as well as being useful.


100 years today

today marks 100 years since women in the UK first got the right to vote – sadly this did not include all women – working class women were excluded unless they owned their own property or had a university degree.   this didn’t come without a struggle. throughout history many women campaigned incredibly hard to make this happen and these include amazing women like Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie Jane Austen who published anonymously as women writers were not taken seriously,  Emmeline Pankhurst who fought incredibly hard to get the right to vote for women in the UK.

I loved this film – suffragette – not just because of the costumes, cinematography and the brilliant acting, but because it highlights the struggles of women all over the world;  happily we have gone beyond most of the challenges that women in the early 1900’s faced, but it reminds us that traces still exist in some parts of the world.  its hard to believe that women  had to sacrifice their children and homelife to voice their right to equality.   As a woman i salute their bravery, determination and resilience to effectively allow our lives to be as they are today.  carey mulligan just goes from strength to strength and edwardian london looks great with its bustling streets and laundry.


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I read the book about the lives of the pre raphaelites by franny moyle – inspired by  seeing the exhibition at the Tate – i felt that i wanted an interesting read about the times and tales – there have been so many stories about the beautiful women in the paintings.   its an enjoyable book and especially as its around the same time as the dickens book by clare tomalin and relives the history of london streets – am so glad to be a female in our modern times though, unless you had money and social position,  there was so much inequality for the life of the poor woman;  it was difficult to rise out of your class, even with the influence of money and friends.

what saddens me is the demise of letter writing – if it wasnt for letters none of these stories would have  been discovered – most of the book’s factual points are taken from the personal letters  and diaries that were written.  with our modern day emails and text, none of these are permanent – its rare to even print photos now, everything is kept on a screen, and then eventually replaced and updated.  i guess keeping a blog, like mine is the modern diary, except you share it – there is no way i would have wanted someone to read my diary when i was young.  i remember keeping one for several years in my early teens.

i have decided to letter write again, and if no time for a  letter then to send notes with cards, its much more romantic!


taking a walk

if you fancy a short drive to the countryside, why not head for the chilterns – beautiful hilly countryside, with cute unspoilt villages such as hambledon and  turville – great for walking, so dont forget your walking boots – unfortunately bob doesnt do mud, so walking on anything other than pebbled lanes is out of the question.   he does do cycling, and what we did see, was cyclists all over the chilterns, apparently the gentle hills and windy lanes are a cyclists dream.     a great place to stop and have lunch or afternoon tea is danesfield house – sit in the lofty reception room with galleried library, set in beautiful grounds overlooking the river thames, its hard to believe that you are only an hour away from central london.

paris in January

A visit to Paris to accompany our daughter en route to a language course half way round the world brought a pleasant walk around a city that we have frequented many times and yet still manage to find new discoveries each time.  we stayed in the newish hotel – Hotel Monge, quite pleasant, had a great offer for 3 of us in a room – situated next to the Pantheon and a short walk from Notre Dame and St Germain. ( we are on the eternal look out for perfectly priced comfortable hotels).  this was an area that was new to us and as its full of students, was young and vibrant with a lot more affordable eating places.  I managed to see the Irving Penn exhibition – an in depth retrospective of works throughout Penn’s life, starting with his early street photography, fashion photos, portraits of renowned writers and artists – to his striking flowers and travels abroad.  such a diverse life all captured beautifully.  made me want to take my Hasselblad camera out again.

Fortunately we had a bright day for walking – Robert’s favourite thing in cities is just to walk and explore, stopping now again for coffee and lunch and maybe popping into the odd shop that captures his eye.  Paris is full of odd courtyards and squares – its grandeur never ceases to amaze me.    the banks of the Seine are overflowing so there were no boats or riverlife, apparently January had more rain than usual.  we ate lunch at chez George, deliciously simple food in a very traditional Parisian setting;  tables are literally side by side.  its pricey, but isn’t most of Paris and it seems to be that you pay for the quality.  take a walk through the Palais Royal or Tulieres – beautiful manicured spaces that are emblems of a city that I never tire of visiting.


on the make

i bought a second hand sewing machine a few years ago from our local shop chapmans  that specialised in hoover repair and sewing machines – its a 70’s bernina and they gave me 10 years guarantee on it too, just to reassure me that this machine will go on and on and is trustworthy – sadly the shop closed after being there for many years.   at first it was something to help me quickly take up the kids hems, the boys need their trousers reinforcing in places and my poor bedding gets so worn out in places that i decided to repair and restore, rather than throw away.  i must admit, i was partly inspired by Jane Brocket and her recycling and sewing bug- she in fact buys everything that people have discarded and turns them into wonderful works of art. i

ray stitch is a recommended place for haberdashery, ribbons, fabrics  and sewing classes – looks lovely and there are a wide range of classes available from absolute beginners up – its a great gift idea to give to that person who has never sewn in their life!!  tea and crafting also looks like a very interesting place – you can do one off workshops, learn to knit, make a lampshade or a ring, or just about anything.  sew over it, looks very creative  too.   you can also join classes at your local adult education centre, such as city lit, working mens college.

so with your ever growing list of things to do in the new year, you can add sewing classes – it may never happen, but at least the intention was there!  I recently had a go at embroidery – sewing in front of the TV using the only stitch I can remember from school  –  I did do needlework and domestic science at school, it was definitely a fun part of the curriculum.



dwarf iris

I can’t understand the weather – one day its so cold and windy, next wet and humid – I don’t think that my garden knows either;  I just noticed the first snowdrops and dwarf irises sprouting up and yet it doesn’t feel like spring yet.  did you know that irises were used for their medicinal purposes and to make perfume – these days they are popular for any occasion as they convey courage and admiration as well as faith, hope and wisdom. I hear that its due to be cold again next week, so I am hoping that it doesn’t kill them. iris20Jan2014_0067 iris20Jan2014_0060 iris20Jan2014_0058 iris iris_0071 iris_0054 iris_0045

flowers springing up in my garden at the moment