Fifty and Fabulous

The thoughts, loves, rants, interests & inspirations for Gen X

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Menopause Monday – Baby Steps to Improve my Wellbeing

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to another Menopause Monday post, can you believe this is the final one in April!

If you are one of my nice new followers Hello! I would like to take a moment to explain to you what Menopause Mondays are all about. I feel that Mondays are typically quite a depressing day for a lot of people – we’re back to work after the weekend and the next weekend seems so far away – so one Monday evening back in January, I shared a post about being perimenopausal; my experiences, my symptoms and what I had found online about the causes and remedies. I found it quite therapeutic getting it all out there and decided to do it on a regular basis. Hey presto! Menopause Monday was born. If you are interested in reading any of my previous post, just search the tag #Menopause Monday or click here.

I have been on HRT for almost a month now and although my menopausal symptoms have seen various degrees of improvement, I’m still feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious all too frequently for my liking.

Last week, I re-blogged a very helpful post by the lovely Shaz about how to deal with stress and anxiety. I loved the advice that she included in her post so much that I started her Mindfulness Challenge the very next day! Shaz created a daily task check-list in the form of a calendar that can be downloaded from her blog; I downloaded it, printed off a copy and stuck it on our fridge.

What I like, is that none of the tasks are daunting – apart maybe no.8 Turn your phone off for 2 hours which I have to do tomorrow and no.26 No gadgets for at least 2 hours (and I don’t think switching it off when I’m asleep counts)- eek!!

I’m hoping that Shaz’s daily tasks will help eliminate my anxiety, stress and feelings of being overwhelmed; I will let you know if I notice a change.

Have you tried any mindfulness techniques? Have they worked for you? At school we use mindfulness colouring sheets to give the children periods of calm. I used to love colouring when I was young; perhaps I should allow myself time to do a bit of colouring down the week…


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My Heart Is Breaking.

Hello Lovely Followers,

I’m sorry but today I just had to share this upsetting article that I found on TES while looking for resources for our next topic at school.

I can’t believe how widespread this issue is – teachers report an increasing number of children are coming to school hungry – but I know that in both the primary schools I’ve worked in, I’ve given food (fruit or toast) to pupils who haven’t had breakfast, I’ve even sorted out a lunch for a KS1 child (7yrs old) who came into school with an unwashed lunch-box that had mould growing in the compartments and a mouldy mini sausage roll in the bottom section!

Suffice to say, in every case, procedures are followed and incidents like this are always recorded.

Exclusive: ‘Mum didn’t have any food’ – the rise of pupil hunger

Schools increasingly stepping in to provide food for children and families

Boy sad hungry

They are heartbreaking but all too obvious tell tale signs – grey-faced children and pupils rummaging through the school bins for scraps of food.

Teachers are warning that more and more children are coming to school ill-equipped for learning because they are not getting enough to eat at home.

Celia Dignan, senior policy adviser at the NEU teaching union, told Tes: “Teachers are telling us that they are increasingly seeing children coming to school hungry because they haven’t been able to have a nutritious breakfast.

The trend is confirmed by the results of a snap Tes online poll of teachers this week in which 88 per cent of respondents said that they had noticed a rise in the number of pupils coming to their school hungry. More than 90 per cent said had provided food for undernourished pupils.

Benefit changes were the most commonly cited reason, closely followed by parental neglect.

Caroline Rodgers, headteacher of Brockley Primary School in Chesterfield, said: “Sometimes the kid will say, ‘I have tummy ache’.

“You ask what they had for their breakfast – sometimes they’ll say, ‘Mum didn’t have any food.’ Other times you just get that stare, and they don’t need to say it.

Nathan Atkinson, the former head of Richmond Hill Primary in inner-city Leeds, knew there was a problem at his school when he realised his pupils were scavenging food from the rubbish.

You’d find that when you put fruit out, there were children who were putting three or four pieces of fruit in their pocket,” he said. “Or somebody had discarded a half-eaten apple, and another child had taken it from the bin and was eating that apple – what was left of it.”

After introducing successful initiatives in his school, from buying a toaster for every classroom to hosting a café on two days a week for pupils’ families, he founded Fuel for School, a not-for-profit company that sends unwanted food to schools to sell through their own market stalls via voluntary donations from parents.

The scheme’s success led to Mr Atkinson being shortlisted for the 2017 Global Teacher Prize.

At Medina Primary in Portsmouth headteacher, Howard Payne, has seen a sharp increase in the number of children arriving for school at the start of the week looking visibly hungry.

It’s a very sensitive issue,” he said. “You have to look for clues, one of which is children will look withdrawn and grey in pallor. The school tries to help families as much as it can, and as subtly as possible. For some families, we put food into a plastic bag and the children take it home,” Mr Payne said.“We’ve sent a letter to their parents, saying ‘This is available, if you feel you don’t want to accept it, please let me know.’ All of them have accepted it.”

This is an edited article from the 20 April edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click here. This week’s Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and like Tes on Facebook

Source: Exclusive: ‘Mum didn’t have any food’ – the rise of pupil hunger | Tes News

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Weight Loss Wednesday – The Clock is Ticking

Hello Everyone,

This is the last Weight Loss Wednesday post for April. Goodness me, this year seems to be flying! So, how has your week been? Did you have a nice Easter Easter weekend? I’ve got to be honest and say although I loved spending time with my family, I didn’t do a great job of avoiding all the yumminess that surrounded me. 😦

My weight loss has definitely got a recurring theme at the moment; last week 1lbs loss and then when I stepped on the scales tonight I had a 0.5lbs gain. Why is it so difficult to recapture that initial focus and drive?!

I came away feeling even more low and depressed. I know that I haven’t been on plan for a number of weeks now and although I always come home from Image Therapy feeling positive, I know that I have to do better to see the losses that I am looking for. Once again this week, I am blaming the menopause for my emotional state and the subsequent high-syn foods that I’ve been grabbing. When I stepped on the scales tonight I had a ?lbs gain/maintain/loss. *sigh*

I need to get out of the funk I’m currently in; I said last week that I needed to have a plan and stick to it. I only have two weeks left in the 12-week Countdown I bought; my target is ?lbs away but realistically a 2-4lb loss is not unachievable if I follow Food Optimising 100% like I did in those first few months after joining.

I would love to hear from you if you’re struggling on your weight loss journey or if you’ve found some successful strategies that work for you. What do you do to stop yourself reaching for those high syn foods?

I hope you have a good week.


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Menopause Monday – The Demons of Stress and Anxiety

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to another Menopause Monday post.

If you are one of my nice new followers Hello! I would like to take a moment to explain to you what Menopause Mondays are all about. I feel that Mondays are typically quite a depressing day for a lot of people – we’re back to work after the weekend and the next weekend seems so far away – so one Monday evening back in January, I shared a post about being perimenopausal; my experiences, my symptoms and what I had found online about the causes and remedies (you can read it here). I found it quite therapeutic getting it all out there and decided to do it on a regular basis. Hey presto! Menopause Monday was born. If you are interested in reading any of my previous post, just search the tag #Menopause Monday or click here.

I have been on HRT for almost three weeks now but it hasn’t stopped my feelings of  being overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. Do you believe in fate? Well I was having a particularly bad day today – Easter goodies surrounded me while I’m trying (and failing) to stick to the Slimming World plan – but while I was checking my email and visiting some blogs I follow, I saw a wonderfully helpful post by Shaz talking about stress and anxiety. How did she know I needed this, now? I wanted to share it with you, so I’ve copied & pasted the whole thing, including her links which will open in a new tab.

I love the advice that Shaz includes and although I haven’t read all of her related posts that she mentions (yet), I’m already feeling more positive that I’ll be able to find a range of strategies to help with these blasted menopausal symptoms. I’ll let you know next week.


Source: How to deal with stress and anxiety – Jera’s Jamboree


How to deal with stress and anxiety

Stress is an important part of life.  We do need it! However, it becomes a problem if we’re continually on high alert and we perceive a threat where there isn’t one.  There are different ways to deal with stress and anxiety and, in my experience, we all have favourite activities that help us to unwind and step away, giving us time to look at a problem logically (rather than our primal instinct to survive).

My long-time favourite de-stressor is reading in bed.  I can’t just slip into bed and fall asleep straight away.  Thoughts whirl round in my head and make me restless.  I’ve tried making notes before going to bed but that just seems to focus me on the problems I want to solve!  We all know that a good night’s sleep goes a long way towards functioning appropriately the next day and reading is my panacea.  The good thing is that I step into another world.  Not so good is when I tell myself ‘one more chapter’ and before you know it you’ve lost a couple of hours of sleep 🙂

Crochet is another activity that helps me wind down.  The rhythm and movement are meditative and often a solution will just pop into my mind (even when I think I’m not focused on an issue).  Walking does that too!

Resilience is something we talk about a lot in my team at school.  We share different strategies with children helping them to build a tool kit in the hope that when life throws them challenges in the future, instead of reacting with fight or flight they can be in control of how they view the challenges and react in a different way.  Resilience is not innate, we’re not born with it but we can improve it.

April is National Stress Awareness Month so I thought I would take the opportunity of gathering together the articles I’ve already written on the blog.

A mixture of tips and resources on how to deal with stress and anxiety (mostly for adults but a couple for children too) I hope you’ll find something useful to help you.

How to deal with stress and anxiety

Articles on Jera’s Jamboree

Gratitude Challenge : Journal a positive mind

30 day Mindfulness Challenge

How to identify emotions and make a change

How to find your silver lining

How to turn a negative into a positive

How to find peace in a frantic world

How to take control of your life

Natural Mood Booster

5 tips to relieve stress and anxiety

Mindfulness Resources

Children and Emotional Health

How to help a child with anxiety

I recommend you check out the National Stress Awareness website.  It’s a fabulous resource for:

  • Explaining stress
  • Resources and guides
  • 10 step stress solution
  • Stress at work

What do you do to de-stress?

Do you have any tips to share?


Last summer I gave a shout out to my blogging buddy Kate’s new venture, Book Spot Box, a subscription box which has gone from strength to strength.

With reading being one of my favourite ways to de-stress, I’m giving away to one of my UK readers the April Book Spot Box.

Rivals theme from Book Spot Box giveaway in the article how to deal with stress and anxiety

The ‘Rivals’ box features some of Kate’s favourite fictional rivalries and is perfect for fans of ACOTAR, Shakespeare and The Wicked King. Each box contains 6 items (5 of which are exclusive to the April box), a paperback book, signed bookplate and a bonus item from the publisher.

The featured paperback was published in 2018 and is the first in a series. Set in a dangerous broken world, it represents the ‘Rivals’ theme beautifully with its split narrative and tension of all kinds. Kate literally could not put this book down! (Please note, this book is not suitable for younger readers)

Easy entry on the Rafflecopter below.  Please read the Terms and Conditions before entering.

Good Luck!


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Weight Loss Wednesday – Easter, Chocolate, Oh My!

Hello Everyone,

Here we are again, another Weight Loss Wednesday post. So, how has your week been? Are you looking forward to the extended Easter weekend? I’ve got to be honest and say although I’m looking forward to spending time with the family, I am very anxious about all the yummy treats that will be surrounding me. 😦

Following on from last week’s 2lbs gain, I came away feeling even more low and depressed. I know that I haven’t been on plan for a number of weeks now and although I always come home from Image Therapy feeling positive, I know that I have to do better to see the losses that I am looking for. Once again this week, I am blaming the menopause for my emotional state and the subsequent high-syn foods that I’ve been grabbing. When I stepped on the scales tonight I had a surprising 1lbs loss.

I need to have a plan and stick to it. I have three weeks left in the 12-week Countdown I bought; my target is 8.5lbs away but realistically a 3-6lb loss is not unachievable if I follow Food Optimising 100% like I did in those first few months after joining.

I would love to hear from you if you struggle, especially during holidays too. What do you do to stop yourself reaching for those high syn foods? If you haven’t got any tips, I hope you find this Slimming World article as helpful as I did.

Food is a huge part of Easter celebrations, and it’s super easy to make a Food Optimising version of the traditional lamb lunch.

When it comes to sweet treats and a special Easter breakfast, we’ve also got it covered! Enjoy them this weekend, safe in the knowledge that your weight loss will stay on track.

Hot cross baked oats

Traditional hot cross buns are a huge 9½ Syns each – and that’s without the butter!

The good news is there’s a way to enjoy that spiced flavour for as little as 4 Syns (using your Healthy Extra ‘b’ choice). Enjoy Easter breakfast in bed with these hot cross baked oats.

Soft-boiled eggs and dippers

This is a stunning Easter breakfast and a great way to enjoy tasty Speed Free Foods – you’ll never go back to plain old toast soldiers!

Serves 1
Free (or using Healthy Extras)

2 eggs

For the Free dippers:
Cooked asparagus spears
Cooked lean bacon or ham, trimmed of visible fat
Roasted sweet potato wedges
Cooked sugar snap peas
Cooked baby sweetcorn
Griddled courgette strips

For the Healthy Extra dippers:

35g halloumi cheese (Healthy Extra ‘a’ choice), sliced into ‘soldiers’ and griddled
50g rye bread (Healthy Extra ‘b’ choice), sliced into ‘soldiers’ and topped with plain quark, smoked salmon and black pepper
2 Ryvita Original crispbreads (Healthy Extra ‘b’ choice), spread with Marmite

How to make:
Place the eggs in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Pop into egg cups and remove the tops, then serve with your choice of dippers.

Tip: Duck eggs make a fab alternative to regular hen’s eggs – there’s lots more yolk for your dippers! Boil them for 6 minutes (depending how large they are).

Fruit flowers

The kids will love to help you make this impressive fruity centrepiece. Who needs chocolate eggs?

You’ll need:
Any colourful melon, e.g., cantaloupe, watermelon
Kiwi fruit
A whole pineapple
Blueberries or redcurrants
Green grapes

Flower-shaped cookie cutters
Wooden skewers, carefully cut to different lengths

  • Slice the melon, pineapple and kiwi into rounds, then carefully cut out flower shapes using the cookie cutters. Thread onto the skewers, adding ‘petal’ layers with the different fruits, and a centre with a blueberry or redcurrant.
  • Thread the strawberries onto skewers with the leaves facing downwards.
  • Create ‘stems’ by threading 4 or 5 grapes onto skewers.
  • Place the skewered fruit flowers into a vase or container and serve!

Chocolate choices at Easter

There are loads of options for getting that chocolate fix at Easter – without piling up the Syns!

  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with our Chocolate Orange, Rocky Road or Fruit and Nut Hi-fi bars. Enjoy two bars as a Healthy Extra ‘b’ choice or 3 Syns each.
  • Swirling a Cadbury Highlights 11g sachet into plain quark gives you a delicious dessert for only 2 Syns. Top with chopped fresh apple, raspberries or strawberries.
  • These Easter chocolate cornflake cakes are 4 Syns each

More egg-cellent low Syn options

  • Cadbury Mini Egg Nest Cakes – 9 Syns each
  • Lindt Bunny Paw, 20g – 5½ Syns
  • Cadbury Creme Egg Minis, 89g bag – 2½ Syns per egg
  • Kinder Mini Eggs, 75g bag – 1½ Syns each
  • Lindt Mini Gold Bunny, 10g – 3 Syns
  • Tesco Milk Chocolate Easter Lollies – 2½ Syns per 10g lolly
  • Galaxy Caramel Mini Eggs, 80g bag – 3 Syns per 12g egg
  • Cadbury Oreo Egg, 31g – 8½ Syns
  • MaltEaster Milk Chocolate Bunny, 29g – 8 Syns
  • Asda Free From Hot Cross Buns, 75g – 10 Syns
  • Maynards Bassetts Jelly Babies Chicks – 1 Syn each


Menopause Monday – A New Beginning

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to another Menopause Monday post.

If you are one of my nice new followers Hello! I would like to take a moment to explain to you what Menopause Mondays are all about. I feel that Mondays are typically quite a depressing day for a lot of people – we’re back to work after the weekend and the next weekend seems so far away – so one Monday evening back in January, I shared a post about being perimenopausal; my experiences, my symptoms and what I had found online about the causes and remedies (you can read it here). I found it quite therapeutic getting it all out there and decided to do it on a regular basis. Hey presto! Menopause Monday was born.

You may remember last week I told you about my adventures to get the HRT prescription that my GP had written – read about it here. My GP prescribed a daily tablet of 1mg of Femoston to help with my menopausal symptoms.

Before I started taking it, I read through the leaflet inside the box to check whether I needed to take it before or after food and whether I needed to take it at a specific time of day. You all do that, right?! Read the small print.

Anyway, I was shocked when I came to section 4 – Possible side effects.

Most of the stuff listed was what I was hoping these tablets were going to get rid of; headaches, migraines, vaginal thrush, nervousness, feeling sick, feeling unwell, weak and tired, unscheduled bleeding or spotting!! OMG! These potential side effects are confirmed on the NHS website too if you want to check them out. Could it get any worse?!

My heart sank when I read that increase in weight was also a possible common side effect (in less than 1 in 10 but more than 1 in 100 patients treated). Although in the next paragraph it warned that less than 1 in 100 but more than 1 in 1,000 patients treated experienced a decrease in weight. I’m hoping I’m one of them! Lol!

So since taking Femoston have I noticed a change in my menopausal symptoms?

Migraines have reduced but i still get headaches almost daily, some of which are painful ice-pick ones.

Hot flushes do seem to have reduced during the day and they definitely don’t go on for as long as they did but I’m still getting them regularily at night.

Mood swings have improved. I still cry at the drop of a hat but I don’t seem to get as angry.

I am still feeling completely overwhelmed and unable to cope with demands. I have a new sympathy with kids/adults with PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance).

Menstrual symptoms haven’t improved yet, all day Friday I suffered with stomach crampIt’s and headache.

I’m going to end on a positive and say that I’m generally sleeping better. Last Wednesday night I had a glorious 6hrs of sleep for the first time in I don’t know how long. I know I’m on Easter holidays but I plan to celebrate every little success!

It’s still early days but I will continue to post my thoughts and symptoms while on this menopausal rollercoaster.

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Weight Loss Wednesday – School Holidays: My Kryptonite

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to another Weight Loss Wednesday post. So, how has your week been? Do you have a spring in your step? I seem to have lost mine for the moment. 😦

Following on from last week’s 0.5lbs loss, I came away relieved once again that my inconsistent eating habits hadn’t caused a weight gain. Each week I come home from Image Therapy knowing that I have to do better to see the losses that I am looking for. Once again this week, although I’ve been better at cutting down on the high-syn snack foods when I needed an emotional boost I’ve been far from “on plan“; pizza last Wednesday evening then a Chinese takeaway last Friday. When I stepped on the scales tonight I had a 2lbs gain. Upsetting but not unexpected.

Having a plan and sticking to it is the not-so-secret secret that we all talk about at group. Being on Slimming World means that you are never on your own when faced with food triggers or situations that can be detrimental to the success of your weight loss journey. School holidays are always a tricky time for me; no routines, close to trigger foods, reduced activity. It looks like I’m not alone, Slimming World have already thought of how they can help their members during school holidays and following on from chatting to others at group tonight, I thought I’d share the following article from the SW site.

I would love to hear from you if you struggle during holidays too. What do you do to stop yourself reaching for those high syn foods? If you haven’t got any tips, I hope you find this article as helpful as I did.

A break from school doesn’t have to mean taking a break from your weight-loss campaign. Here’s how to breeze through the hols and be slimmer at the school gates!

‘My daily routine’s gone right out of the window!’

Holiday help The holidays are a great opportunity to get children involved with meal prep – they’ll love grating, weighing out ingredients, cracking eggs and so on. Get your Slimming World magazines and recipe books out, or visit our recipe section and ask the kids to pick their favourites. Older children might like to help with the shopping and cooking, too.

Child-friendly meals

‘I’m tempted by the kids’ treats’

Holiday help Save yourself from the children’s chocolate stash by preparing your own treats, such as Speed Free Food fruits like melon, strawberries and raspberries piled high on your favourite fat-free yogurt.

chicken and bacon salad

Prepare lots of Free snacks, like chopped fresh fruit and veg sticks, Slimming World quiche or houmous, so you always have something ready in the fridge.

It might help to label your own treats with Syn values, so you can see at a glance how they’ll fit into your 5-15 Syn daily allowance:

• Lotus Biscoff The Original Caramelised Biscuit = 2 Syns per biscuit

• Cadbury Caramel Freddo = 4.5 Syns per 19g bar

• Walkers Crisps Pops = 4 Syns per 19g bag

‘I’m a working mum and want to make the most of the few days I do have off with the kids’

Holiday help If you’re going out for the day, hang on to your money and Syns by taking a bumper Food Optimising picnic with you. Tuck into home-made pasta and potato salads, cooked chicken drumsticks (skin and visible fat removed), frittata, cooked lean meats, Quorn fajita strips (Free), hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit and fat-free natural yogurt while everyone else joins the long food queues.

If you’re going away for a few days self-catering, sit down and plan your meals beforehand. Pack some Food Optimising supplies, like sweetener, fat-free vinaigrette and low-calorie cooking spray, so you don’t waste precious family time shopping.

half term exercise

‘I’m having trouble fitting in my usual exercise’

Holiday help The secret is to find plenty of fun, child-friendly ways to keep fit instead. If you’re off to the beach, take a football, frisbee or a cricket set.

Dust off the bikes and go on a family bike ride, or do plenty of running around playing tag at the park. Even your back garden can help you keep active if you put up a badminton net, bounce on the trampoline or do some sports day-style races.

Anything that makes you feel warmer and speeds up your breathing and heart rate counts as Body Magic!


Menopause Monday – Why Does Everything Have To Be An Epic Quest?

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to another Menopause Monday post.

You may remember a while back, I bit the bullet and made an appointment to see my GP about all the symptoms I was having; he booked me in for some blood tests and scheduled an ECG for me. Read about it here.

Last week he confirmed that I was going through the menopause. Well, I think we all knew that, right?! Lol! He prescribed HRT in the form of a daily 1mg tablet of Elleste Duet and even sent my prescription direct to the pharmacy of my choice. Now that’s service!

I elected to pick up my magic pills from the Boots in town as I was going in the next day anyway; perfect.

I paid for an hour parking and Child2 and I went around town working our way through our “to do” list. I had left picking up my Elleste from Boots till last and stood patiently in the queue waiting to be served. Imagine my disappointment when the lovely pharmacist told me that unfortunately, it was out of stock – problems at the manufacturers – and wouldn’t be available until 3rd May!

Boots kindly released my prescription back to me so that I could try another chemist. I did. They were all out. 😦

So I decided to go back to my medical practice, explain the situation to my GP and get a prescription for another brand – the pharmacist in Boots recommended Kliofem or Kliovance as a suitable alternative – as I said, she was lovely.

My GP was busy but I left a message at reception explaining what had happened. I wasn’t planning on going into town for another week, so I also asked that my replacement prescription be sent to a different pharmacy closer to my home – Tanday Pharmacy+. The receptionist said that was OK, tapped away on her computer and told me that my doctor was usually very efficient and to phone back either later that day before they closed or tomorrow to make sure it had been done. Again, another very helpful lady to assist me on, what was turning into, my epic quest to get menopause relief.

I dutifully phoned first thing the next morning and was told, sorry the doctor hasn’t written my new prescription yet. I must confess to have been rather disappointed but I am known for my patience, well, that was until the Menopause hit and now you just have to take your chances on my Russian Roulette of mood swings! Lol!

It seemed I was having a “I can be patient” moment. I left it until after lunch and called again – *phew* yes, my new prescription had been written and sent as requested. I was halfway there to getting my hands on my magic pills. I decided to give the pharmacy a few hours and phoned them while I was waiting to collect Child1 and Child2 from school.

When I phoned Tanday Pharmacy+ they confirmed that that had received my prescription and that it was ready to be collected! I almost jumped for joy, however,  I was sat in the car outside of school, so I thought better of it. 😉

Tanday Pharmacy+ is on my way home, so I parked outside and went in. I waited for less than 3 minutes before I was paying the £18.00 prescription charge for the 3 months supply of my new magic pills.

So, lovely peeps, I have my magic HRT pills and have been taking them each night before I go to sleep since I picked them up. Are they helping with my menopausal symptoms? Read my next Menopause Monday post to find out. 😉




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Genealogy Hunting In Wiltshire

Hello Everyone,

I love history, I know I haven’t posted anything to my blog about that recently (see my last post here) but those of you who follow me on Twitter will know I tweet quite a bit about it. 😉 This weekend I’ve been back on Ancestry UK working on my family tree – a project that has been ongoing for a number of years now which you can read about here.

I was browsing their blog posts when I came across the article below about the launch of the Wiltshire Wills Collection. The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre is still a place I need to visit as I’ve traced a few of my family lines as far back as I can with Ancestry UK.

Have any of you created your family tree? I love working on mine and I am finding it very interesting. I think researching your ancestors helps bring history to life and gives it a more personal perspective.




Posted by Kristen Hyde on January 31, 2018

With the launch of the Wiltshire Wills collection, Claire Skinner from Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre explores the historical significance of wills.

The probate collection of the Diocese of Sarum alias Salisbury (more popularly known as the Wiltshire Wills collection) is a collection of over 500,000 images of wills and related records from the whole of Wiltshire and Berkshire, part of Dorset and the parish of Uffculme in Devon. There are around 118,000 wills of various lengths, plus related records mainly dating from the 1560s to 1858 which include inventories of goods, administration bonds, and bonds for tuition or guardianship of children.

Through Ancestry, the Wiltshire Wills collection is being made available online in its entirety for the first time, thus completing the work of the HLF-funded Wiltshire Wills project which began in the early 2000s.But how have wills changed over time, and what is the value of a will for a family historian? Understanding more about these documents can be helpful for your family history research.

What’s a will?

Under an Act of Parliament of 1529, the purpose of a will was for the testator (person making the will) to pay debts, provide for their spouse, arrange for care of children and make charitable bequests for the good of their souls. They usually have a standard format and structure, starting with ‘In the name of God Amen’ and going on to commit the testator’s soul to God and their body to be buried in a named location; they go on to list the various bequests the testator wishes to make; any debts they owe; and then they name their executor(s) and sign or make their mark. Last of all there may be a probate clause in Latin, written by the court which proved the will, often just a few months after the date the will was written.

It is important to remember that under the pre-1752 calendar, a document dated Jan-Mar would be dated the previous year, so a will dated 17 Jan 1713 is actually 1714 under the modern calendar. If someone died without making a will the court could administer their estate under what are called ‘letters of administration’ instead.

The Value of Wills for Family History

In the 16th and 17th centuries wills were increasingly used to provide for each member of the family left behind, making them particularly useful for family history.

A good will for demonstrating this is that of John Baker of Pitton in south Wiltshire, made in 1688, (P26/387), in which he bequeaths 20 shillings to his daughter Elizabeth Pilgrem, £4 each to his grandchildren John, Stephen, and Diana Seward, Anne Toomer, and William, John, Anne and Elizabeth Smart; 20 shillings to his son in law John Seward; and the residue of estate to his daughter Ann Seward, the wife of John Seward of Pitton. As you can see, three generations are mentioned in the same document, a real boon to family historians!  Wills also usefully include the occupation of the deceased – in this case a yeoman farmer – and may be accompanied by an inventory of their goods which can be very useful in showing the possessions of the deceased and their relative wealth.

Not all families were harmonious, of course – a mother who clearly had serious misgivings about what would become of her sons after her death was Margery Williams of Baydon. She added this codicil to her will in 1797: “Whereas it is the Misfortune of my sons Benjamin and Joseph to be very indiscreet and imprudent and as they have expended their Fortunes and I am extremely apprehensive any Other Property would be in like Manner Wasted and Yet unwilling that they should be left entirely Destitute…” she wills that her son Francis Williams should pay them 2 shillings a week for life!  (P5/1799/27) People weren’t just concerned about their human relatives. Mary Goddard of Swindon included an unusual bequest for the care of her pets after her death: in 1788 she left £2 11s to her servant Grace Buckland “to take care and protection of my Cats and Dog, which I desire she will do with tenderness.” (P3/G/748)

Wills were also used to give instructions for the funeral: the 1681 will of Mary Beake, P5/1681/7 states: “I doe order that there be forty shillings layed out in Cakes and bread and that there be a Kilderkin of beer at my burial.” (A kilderkin was 16-18 gallons).

Sometimes wills tell us a lot about the personality of the testator and their sense of humour, something which you often won’t get from other records, for example this instruction in the will of Nicholas Daniell of Sutton Benger, 1726, for the inscription on his tombstone speaks volumes:

“From Gout and Pox and Plague and Women free
From Law and Physick and Divinity
And Knaves and Foole of every Degree
From care, fear, pain and hard necessity am freed. In what a happy state am I.”

An unhappy lovelife is also obvious in the will of Henry Hunt of Enford, 1773 (P1/H/1231) whose wife “with great Clamour, Violence & Outrage, endeavoured to hinder his making any will, declaring positively that he should make none.” Henry replied “Then this must be your will, not mine” and added “Thus it was she made her first Husband’s will”, meaning no will at all. Nevertheless Henry did succeed in making his will – he had no time to make a formal document but the testimony of his friends and a scribbled note made at his sickbed by one of them proved sufficient for the court.

Who could not make a will prior to 1858?

There were four main categories of people who could not legally make a will.
1) Children (boys under 14 and girls under 12)
2) People of unsound mind or lacking senses (only in the latter case if it meant they could not understand the will)
3) Those lacking full freedom – ie slaves, prisoners and married women without their husband’s consent (the latter before 1882)
4) Traitors, heretics and apostates (eg atheists)

Normally a will had to have certain elements to be legally valid: the date, the testator’s mark or signature (witnessed), and the nomination of an executor, but if no will in this format existed then other forms of will might be accepted by the courts. For example, Henry White’s lovely informal handwritten will of 1835 found on the reverse of an old letter was accepted:

Wills could be made on any material though normally they are on paper. Parchment wills are normally the probate copy made by the court, rather than the original.

Since making a will was possibly regarded as ‘tempting fate’ making a will was often left till the last moment when a testator was ill and facing death. If it was too late to make a written will a testator could give their wishes in the form of a verbal will, copied down – otherwise known as a nuncupative will. An interesting example of this is that of Nicholas Perry, senior, a carpenter of Salisbury St Edmund, who rode over to Combe Bissett where one of his sons lived, to tell him his will orally, because of ‘Contagion in Sarum’ in other words the well known outbreak of the Black Death in Salisbury in 1627. (P4/1627/4.)

Women and wills

Prior to the Married Women’s Property Act of 1882 a married woman could only make a will with her husband’s consent or if there was a pre-nuptial agreement which allowed her to do so. There were no restrictions on widows and spinsters making wills and therefore there are far more of these than wills of married women. These include the inventory of goods of Jane Forget, dated 1588 who had been a nun at Wilton Abbey – the will shows that even though the abbey had been dissolved for fifty years, Jane continued to live a devout life and gave away all her clothing to the poor in her will. (P5/1588/19) Women usually appear in their husband’s will as the executor of his estate, at least until the 18th century.

Probate/proving wills

During the Middle Ages the church gradually gained the right to prove or validate wills and grant administrations of the estates of the dead in all but a few places in England and Wales. The church took responsibility for validating wills and making sure the wishes of the deceased were adhered to through its courts. The church continued to hold authority until 1858, except for the Commonwealth period when the church courts were temporarily closed down in the 1640s and 50s – the wills for this period are at the National Archives in Kew.

When someone died their will had to be taken to the appropriate court – this could be quite complicated to determine. In some years a larger court might take responsibility for a smaller one and have the right to prove their wills. Within the Diocese of Salisbury there were 28 probate courts, including the bishop’s, the two archdeacon’s, and many peculiars. If goods or land to the value of £5 were held in areas covered by the jurisdiction of more than one court, the will would be proved in the higher court. Thus if it fell into two archdeaconries it would be proved at the bishop’s court; if it was in more than one diocese it would be proved at the appropriate archbishop’s court eg Prerogative Court of Canterbury or York. Therefore wills of rich or famous people are unlikely to be found in the Diocesan collection – the PCC was also seen to confer a certain prestige so people like Jane Austen, who didn’t own a lot of property but were of a gentry background, had their will proved there.

Once in court, the executor and witnesses swore that the will was definitely the testator’s last one, and the judge, if satisfied, would grant probate. Probate had to begin within four months of the death, and often would be much sooner. If the executor refused, or if the person died without making a will, the court would appoint administrators to sort out the estate. The court kept the original will and it is the originals which form the Wiltshire Wills collection. A second copy would also be entered into the court’s register, which is why you may find two wills for the same person – they should be identical except they will lack the original mark or signature of the testator.

The executor had to arrange the funeral of the deceased, and pay for those costs, and then make an inventory of the goods. The goods were valued at their ‘second-hand’ price and gave the executor an idea of the size of the estate available to administer – debts had to be paid before any legacies could be paid. For example William Trahare of Sherborne in Dorset, a retired soldier who had fought in the Napoleonic Wars, left his pension in 1802 to William Spooner, inn-keeper, “to discharge myself of my just debt due to him.” (P5/19Reg/4)

From 1858 the proving of wills became a civil responsibility and post-1858 wills have not been included in the Wiltshire Wills project.

Start exploring the Wiltshire Wills collection now on Ancestry.

Source: Where there’s a will, there’s a way – Ancestry UK Blog

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Weight Loss Wednesday – Why Am I Eating This?

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to Weight Loss Wednesday post. So, how was your week? Do you have a spring in your step?

If you are one on my lovely new followers, hello. I’d like to take a moment to explain to you what Weight Loss Wednesdays are all about. Back in August 2017 I was persuaded to join Slimming World by my mum (read my post here). I had done really well and achieved my two and a half stone lost certificate in December 2018 (that’s 35lbs for my American followers), however, over Christmas I put on half a stone (7lbs) and decided to start sharing my weight loss journey on this blog to help me keep focused. I attend my local group on Wednesday evenings to get weighed and get inspired, so when I get back home I post how I’ve got on; any tips we talked about and what my loss or gain is for the week, using the Weight Loss Wednesday tag.

So following on from last week’s 0.5lbs loss, I was relieved that my inconsistent eating habits hadn’t caused a huge gain but I know that my weight doesn’t always reflect what I’ve been up to for that week, sometimes it shows on the scales the following week. So coming home from last week’s Image Therapy I knew that I’d have to do better this week to see the losses that I was looking for. I can’t say that I’ve been back on plan 100% but I’ve been cutting down on the high-syn foods when I needed an emotional boost this week. When I stepped on the scales tonight I had a 0.5lbs loss.

Being on Slimming World means that you should never feel hungry, but sometimes we don’t eat to fill a physical need but rather an emotional one. Slimming World have already thought of how they can hep their members with this tricky issue and following on from our discussion in group tonight, I thought I’d share the article from the SW site.

I would love to hear from you if you’re an emotional eater too. What do you do to stop yourself reaching for those high syn foods? If you haven’t got any tips, I hope you find this article as helpful as I did.

When it comes to weight loss, your desire to eat can be a friend, not an enemy. Discover how to satisfy your appetite, conquer your cravings and decode your hunger cues.

Looking forward to and really enjoying food is one of life’s great pleasures. And there’s a reason we talk about having a ‘healthy appetite’ – for many of us, going off food can be the first sign we’re coming down with something, and when we feel peckish again, we know we’re on the mend. When we’re trying to slim, though, we can have mixed feelings about our appetite, and even start to feel as if it’s sabotaging our weight loss plans. It’s great news, then, to know that having a healthy appetite is a good thing when you’re losing weight. In fact, satisfying it with generous portions of Free Food will help you stay on track, lose weight and keep it off, all while enjoying your meals and never needing to feel hungry.

More than hunger

It’s easy to think that hunger and appetite are the same thing, but there are some important differences. Hunger is a signal your body sends when it needs more fuel to keep it running effectively. Appetite is your overall desire to eat, and while being physically hungry is one reason you might reach for food, there are lots of other complex processes involved. To begin with, there are various chemicals in your body that influence your appetite, from hormones that encourage you to start and stop eating, to neurotransmitters that send signals inside your brain.

Then there are the physical aspects of eating, such as the taste, the action of chewing, and the stretching of your stomach as it fills with food. All of these play a part in how satisfied you feel after a meal. Even if all these signals are helping you to feel full, it’s possible to ignore them because you’re distracted – perhaps because you’re watching TV while eating, feeling ill or worrying about something.

Our senses – taste, sight, smell and even hearing – can also influence how much, when and what we want to eat. Have you ever suddenly felt your mouth water because you caught a whiff of freshly baked bread, or not felt hungry until you heard the rustle of a bag of crisps? Plus, sometimes what you drink can interfere with these signals. Alcohol, for example, stimulates your appetite, so the more you drink, the more you feel compelled to eat – that night, and the morning after.

It’s getting emotional…

On top of all those physical reasons why we might feel hungry, our emotions can affect our appetite, too. The gut is sometimes called the ‘second brain’, and it actually does send signals straight to our little grey cells. The pathways go both ways, too – which is why our stomachs might start churning when we’re nervous, or feel full of butterflies when we’re excited. And for many of us, the automatic response to any difficult emotion, whether it’s stress, worry, shame, guilt or disappointment, is to eat.

Because we often grow up associating food with comfort and distraction, it can feel like we really do need to eat when we’re upset,’ says clinical psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos. ‘You might initially feel better because you get a short serotonin spike when you eat. But that wears off quickly, leaving you with uncomfortable feelings, and often a new layer of guilt or frustration with yourself about what you’ve eaten.’

So when you’re not hungry yet still craving food, what you’re really craving could be an emotional boost, or a bit of assurance that you can cope, or that you are loved or appreciated. But the human brain likes to do things on autopilot, so, for example, if you get into the habit of reaching for food when you’re stressed, it won’t take long for the brain to make an association and trigger thoughts of food whenever you’re under pressure. ‘And every time you eat because you’re stressed, you reinforce the incorrect belief that you can’t cope without it,’ says Dr Papadopoulos. ‘If you haven’t developed any other ways of soothing yourself, you can’t think of them when you feel upset or under stress.

Eat more, lose more

Feeling deprived of food, which can happen when following a restrictive diet plan, may itself create uncomfortable emotions. ‘Hunger can make us feel agitated,’ says Dr Papadopoulos. And given that we need food to survive, it makes sense for the brain to send out ‘red alert’ signals when food seems to have become scarce. That’s why simply slashing the portion size of what you normally eat, or cutting out certain foods altogether, doesn’t work for many people.

A smarter approach is to work with your appetite, by making food choices that will maintain or even increase the amount of food you’re eating to help you feel full and satisfied, while also cutting back on calories – exactly what you’re doing when you’re Food Optimising. The scientific name for foods that tick the magic boxes of filling and low calorie is ‘low energy dense’; technically, foods with the fewest calories per gram, and those we call Free Food at Slimming World. Plus, some foods are extra filling due to the protein and fibre they contain – you’ll find them marked ‘P’ and ‘F’ in your Food Optimising book. So there’s more to weight loss than simply calories in and calories out.

A lot of people give up on diets because they feel hungry between meals. Our research shows eating low energy-dense foods can help overcome that problem,’ says psychologist Dr Nicola Buckland. Take carrots, for instance – you would have to munch your way through a whole bag (around 250g) to consume 100 calories, whereas you can eat 100 calories-worth of chocolate (around four squares) in seconds! Or, compare two lunches: a baked potato with cottage cheese and a large mixed salad; or a plain ham sandwich on white bread. One is likely to leave you feeling full and satisfied, and one thinking: ‘What else can I eat?’ Yet both contain roughly the same amount of calories (around 300).

A new study* has found that people who base their weight loss on low energy dense foods feel more satisfied and lose significantly more weight than those who simply count calories. In a lab setting, women who’d eaten generous meals of low energy-dense foods based on Food Optimising felt less hungry, more full and had less desire to eat at the next meal than when they’d had smaller portions of higher energy-dense foods. The study also compared women following Slimming World’s Food Optimising plan and going to group once a week with women following a calorie counting-based programme. After 14 weeks, the Slimming World group had lost more weight than the calorie-counting group, and also felt more in control of their food choices, enjoyed their food more, and showed greater confidence in their ability to stick to their weight loss plans.

The pleasure principle

Have you ever eaten a meal that you didn’t really enjoy, then felt like having something else afterwards to compensate? That’s our appetite at work again. Alongside choosing Free Food with properties that help us feel full, our meals need to look, smell and taste good. ‘Being physically deprived of food creates hunger, but being emotionally deprived of food also has an effect,’ says Dr Jacquie Lavin, Slimming World’s head of nutrition and research. ‘Meal satisfaction comes from a combination of fullness and enjoyment. So even if we have enough calories to keep us going, we will still want more if we’re not eating food we enjoy.

Making delicious and tempting recipes from low energy-dense foods helps you feel like you’re not missing out, especially when they’re lightened-up versions of your favourites, using herbs and spices to add flavour without Syns. ‘If you’re eating low energy-dense meals that keep you fuller for longer, with healthy snacks and a treat every day from your Syns, you’re less likely to crave unhealthy foods because you’ll have satisfied both your physical and your emotional hunger,’ Jacquie says.

Getting in tune with your true appetite takes a bit of practice. So, if you notice you’re eating when you’re not hungry, remember it’s just part of your journey to a happy relationship with your appetite, and you’ll learn a little more each time about what makes you reach for certain foods. And when you do feel like eating, embrace your appetite – keep Food Optimising and relish every mouthful! Because once you’ve got the balance right for you, you’ll be on track to reach target and stay there, while enjoying your food more than ever.

*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.
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