Fifty and Fabulous

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

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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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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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Slimming World vs The Menopause

Hello Lovely Followers,

If you are one of my nice new followers, I should explain that I publish two regular posts a week. Mondays are typically quite a depressing day for a lot of people – back to work after the weekend, the next weekend seems so far away – so one Monday evening I shared a post about being perimenopausal – my experiences, my symptoms and what I had found online about the causes and remedies (read it here). Hey presto! Menopause Monday was born.

Back in August 2017 I was persuaded to join Slimming World by my mum (read my post here). I have done really well and decided to start sharing my weight loss journey with you, my lovely followers. 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 and what my loss or gain is for the week using the Weight Loss Wednesday tag.

Last week I was overjoyed to come in with a fabulous 2.5 lbs loss! My focus has been rewarded again this week with a 1.5lbs loss!

I have struggled with emotional eating and cravings this week; imagine my surprise and joy at finding this article on Slimming World about weight loss while going through the menopause! I just had to share it.

Many of you have been in touch with us to ask how the menopause might affect your weight loss journey – we’ve taken a look below.

The good news is that there’s little evidence that the menopause should be a direct cause of weight gain or inability to lose weight. Some people see an increase in weight particularly during middle age – this is thought to be primarily due to change in lifestyle and a gradual decrease in the amount of physical activity we do. So a healthy diet (Food Optimising!) and exercise (Body Magic!) will help you reach your ideal weight.

Staying on your weight loss journey

Increasing your level of physical activity can not only help weight loss by helping you expend more energy whilst active but it also helps preserve muscle tissue, and with maintaining your metabolic rate.

As at any time during your weight loss journey including plenty of Free Foods and Speed Free Foods in your daily Food Optimising will help satisfy your appetite and give your weight loss a boost.

You are what you eat

Eating a varied, well balanced diet during the menopause is beneficial to overall health, as it is at any time of life, but there are also some specific nutritional issues that are worth considering at this time.


During the menopause, a good calcium intake along with a physically active lifestyle is considered important to help ensure that bones remain as strong as possible. Bones become weaker as we age due to the loss of calcium. Large losses can result in osteoporosis whereby bones become so weak and brittle they easily break. Women lose bone at a faster rate during the menopause due to changes in hormone levels, particularly oestrogen. Oestrogen normally helps maintain bone strength by preventing the loss of calcium but levels of oestrogen fall during menopause. The importance of calcium in bone health, particularly in maintaining bone strength as we age, has been the subject of much research. The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) recommends that women ensure a good dietary intake of calcium during the menopause.

The main sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurts. Low fat dairy products such as skimmed milk still contain plenty of calcium.

Extra calcium from supplements has not been shown to have much effect on bone loss during the menopause. However, supplements may be of more benefit in later stages – some studies found that calcium supplements slowed the loss of bone in women five years post-menopause. If you’re considering taking calcium supplements we’d suggest you discuss this with your GP first.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is also important for bone health as it is needed for calcium to be absorbed from food. Most of our vitamin D is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Dietary sources include fortified spreads, meat and oily fish and are important for those whose exposure to sunlight is limited. However, as sunlight is mainly relied on to produce vitamin D, and there are few dietary sources, many individuals may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. As such everyone aged one year and over has a recommended dietary intake of 10 micrograms per day of vitamin D. Public Health England recommends that:

  • All individuals aged 5+ should consider taking a 10 micrograms supplement to ensure their intake is adequate between October and March when the skin is unable to produce vitamin D from sunlight
  • People with limited exposure to sunshine (i.e. those seldom outdoors, or who cover their skin when outdoors) or those from minority ethnic groups with dark skin, such as those from African, African-Caribbean or South Asian backgrounds, should consider a daily 10 micrograms supplement throughout the year.


Women’s iron requirements decrease at the time of menopause when periods stop. Requirements are then reduced to the same level as men (8.7 micrograms/day). Therefore, although there is a reduction in requirements, it is still important to include a variety of sources of iron in the diet. The best sources of iron are lean red meat, poultry and fish. Iron can also be obtained from plant foods such as dark green vegetables, pulses and nuts but is not absorbed as well as that from meat. Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron from plant foods so it helps to include vitamin C containing foods (such as fruits, salad and green vegetables) within a meal.

Physical activity

It’s recommended that we should all aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least 5 times a week to stay fit and healthy and help control our weight. This can include activities such as walking, swimming or gardening and doesn’t have to mean taking part in strenuous sports. Any activity that makes you feel warmer and speeds up your breathing and heart rate, while still being able to hold a conversation, counts as moderate activity. Including more activity into daily routines all counts, for example:

  • taking the stairs instead of the lift
  • walking short distances instead of taking the car
  • getting on the bus one stop further away

You’ll find lots of Body Magic inspiration in our activity section, including Building your steps to activity, Easy exercises at home and Choosing the right fitness class.


Many women experience a range of symptoms during the menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats, dry skin, poor concentration and mood swings. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) often helps relieve these symptoms and has been shown to help prevent the development of osteoporosis.

There has been recent interest in the role of phyto-oestrogens as a more natural alternative to HRT to help alleviate some menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. The idea arose due to the fact that women in Japan tend to have a much higher intake of phyto-oestrogens in their diet and a much lower prevalence of menopausal symptoms than women in Western countries. Phyto-oestrogens are a group of substances found in plant foods, such as soya beans, and resemble oestrogen hormones. They have been found to act in a similar way to oestrogen hormones but have a weaker effect.

The potential benefits of phyto-oestrogens are currently being investigated in a number of studies. However, at present the effects are not clear – while a number of studies have shown a beneficial effect, others have not. The British Nutrition Foundation suggests that further studies are needed before firm recommendations can be made and appropriate advice given. They advise that anyone suffering from menopausal symptoms consult their GP to discuss the most appropriate treatment. However, those wishing to try increasing their intake of phyto-oestrogens could include more of the following foods in their diet:

  • soya beans (Free and also an F symbol)

  • tofu (plain or naturally smoked tofu is Free)

  • soya milk (calcium-enriched soya drink can be used as a Healthy Extra choice)

  • linseed (4 Syns per level tablespoon, 6½ Syns per 25g or 2 level tablespoons can be used as a Healthy Extra choice)


Sage Advice From Fellow Blogger – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

Good Evening Everyone,

As I sit here, browsing social media to help relieve the stresses of another working week, I came across the following post from fellow blogger, Shaz, that I need to share with you.

Shaz, like me is married with children (unlike me, her kids are already in their 20’s) and works in a primary school. She is an Inclusion Lead in KS2 and is passionate about early help. She’s got a wealth of experience and is a member of Bournemouth’s Early Help Operational Board working alongside others to instigate change and growth.

Shaz is also passionate about reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet and has been blogging for eight years. I always find something interesting to read on her site and I hope you enjoy reading this too.

I have added a link to her blog at the bottom of this post that will open in a new tab so that you can check out her site for yourself.


How Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) Improves Quality of Life

Mental and emotional health is something that touches all our lives. In the past I’ve received counselling but it wasn’t until my GP referred me for CBT that I understood more about my thoughts and the changes I could make. A family member is currently on this healing journey and previous therapy didn’t have the impact that his current CBT sessions are having. Last year at school I worked with our link trainee Educational Psychologist to create and deliver a CBT programme for KS2 children.

CBT is a valuable tool for all ages and my guest today, Leigh Adley of Set Your Mind Free, is highlighting how this can help the elderly.

Set Your Mind Free Leigh Adley CBT

If you’ve always wondered what CBT is or the process that the therapy takes you through, you will be much clearer after reading Leigh’s article.

How Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Improves Quality of Life

As we grow old, our bodies begin to weaken. This makes the elderly especially vulnerable to serious physical diseases and conditions including arthritis, diabetes, cancer, dementia and cardiovascular problems. Often, any prescribed medicines merely relieve the pain and don’t offer a cure. On top of that patients may also suffer from psychological disorders or depression. These factors combined can also make a person feel suspicious or even hostile to others.

Fortunately, there are effective holistic approaches that Long-term Care (LTC) facilities can use to help their elderly patients. One of them is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy?

It’s a type of psychotherapy that helps patients deal with their problems by tackling their mental, emotional and behavioural issues. CBT is effective because it allows patients to see how their negative thoughts affect their actions.

In CBT, patients will realise the event itself is not the cause of their emotions but how they interpret that event. Take, for example, a patient’s son or daughter who doesn’t call or visit for several days making them sad or depressed. Instead of harbouring negative thoughts, CBT can help them consider other reasons like their child probably has a busy schedule at the moment.

This treatment method helps elderly patients in dealing with two major issues:

Pain management

CBT can change a patient’s view about pain. The therapy can make them realise that less pain means improved quality of life. This method can also change how the patient’s brain responds to chronic pain. Doctors can also combine CBT with other remedies like medications or physical therapy.

However, some medical studies show that CBT, compared to medications or surgery, is more effective for controlling pain because it has fewer risks and side effects.  Furthermore, CBT helps patients to develop a positive problem-solving attitude and useful life skills in dealing with pain and other issues in their lives.

Battling depression

Depression affects all people including the elderly but their symptoms are different probably due to the various illnesses they may have and the effects of the medicines used in their treatment. When the elderly get depressed they face an increased risk of:

  • Cardiac diseases
  • Death from illness
  • Reduced ability to rehabilitate

Because depression has a serious effect on the elderly, LTC doctors and nurses need to address it immediately.

CBT deals with depression through talk therapy, which can work better than medication. For severe cases, however, a combination of CBT and drug treatment can also work effectively.

How does it work?

The patient can meet and talk with a therapist for at least 30 to 60 minutes with CBT sessions often held once a week or twice a month. In the initial meeting, the therapist will determine if the patient is comfortable with the session and if CBT is suitable.

Patients should also expect the therapist to delve into their past and background. Such information is needed by the therapist to understand the patient’s current situation. In every step of the session, however, the patient has full control throughout and can refuse to discuss anything they might feel uncomfortable talking about.

In CBT, the therapist will take the following steps to assist patients in learning about their negative behaviour and how to best correct it:

  • The patients will divide each problem into different sections. Also, they may need a diary to identify their emotions, thoughts or actions.
  • With the therapist’s help, the patients can examine their behaviour, thoughts and feelings (and how this affects them personally as well as others). Also, if it’s unrealistic or unhelpful, both therapist and patient can find out ways to change that negative behaviour.
  • The therapist will assign homework that can make patients ‘forget’ their bad behaviour and reinforce positive ones. These simple assignments give patients the chance to apply the changes to their daily lives.
  • If a task isn’t working the patient can discuss it with their therapist in the next session.
  • Another advantage of CBT is that it allows patients to continue applying what they learned even after the sessions.

What makes CBT different from other depression treatments?

CBT deploys a short-term approach that requires anywhere between 6 to 20 sessions. In contrast to traditional treatments, CBT also:

  • Focuses on changing present thoughts and behaviours.
  • Sets goals during every session, including long term ones.
  • Lets patients monitor their feelings and thoughts. Afterwards, the therapist helps them deal with them by teaching valuable coping and problem-solving skills.

As LTC professionals we should always strive to look for the best ways to deal with whatever mental, emotional and behavioural issues our residents face.  CBT is the right step towards achieving that goal.

Leigh Adley of Set Your Mind Free

Leigh Adley is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist/psychotherapist based in Milton Keynes.

Her site, Set Your Mind Free aims to help people get rid of their unwanted habits or addictions.

Emotional Health on Jera’s Jamboree.

Source: How Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) Improves Quality of Life – Jera’s Jamboree


Sharing The Love – Book Stores Around The World

Hello Lovely Followers,

I know I don’t post many book reviews on this blog but reading is one of my hobbies (read all about it here). So when I came across this post from Kiersten on her blog – Once Upon A Spine – all about the wonderful oasis’ around the world that are book shops, I just had to share it.

Wanderlusting: Bookstores Around the World (Part 1)

It’s been a little while since I’ve done a wanderlust post. Don’t worry, it’s not because I’m losing my sense of adventure or desire to travel. I’ve actually been planning and researching for the upcoming trips I’ll be going on this year.

There are two things I look for first when considering a place to visit: the culinary scene and how many bookstores they have. As a proclaimed foodie and bibliophile, these are the things that speak most to me. They call me late in the evening and whisper in my ear whilst I’m asleep. “Come to me!” they say. And I listen.

Perhaps I will do a future series of posts about all the foodie destinations I plan to visit someday, but for now, since this is primarily a book blog, I’ll focus on the bookstores.

Eliot Bay Books (Seattle, Washington) – There isn’t much history to this one, but I’ve heard it’s the best bookstore in Seattle.


Shakespeare and Company (Paris, France) – This one has been around since 1919. The apartment upstairs housed several famous authors over the years, like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Boyfriend and I will definitely be visiting this one when we visit Paris in the Fall.


Livraia Lello (Porto, Portugal) – One of the most stunning bookstores in the world, the neo-Gothic building was said to have been the source of inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s depiction of Hogwarts.


The Last Bookstore (Los Angeles, California) – Lots of quirky character packed into this store, in addition to a quarter-million new and used titles. I can’t even imagine how many people go here every year just to take pictures under the tunnel of books.

Source: Wanderlusting: Bookstores Around the World (Part 1) – Once Upon a Spine

Have you visited any of these gorgeous shops? I haven’t – yet. 😉 Although I get most of my books from Amazon these days, I do visit my local Waterstones. I love the smell. Am I weird? 😉

I think I might add a board – “Amazing Book Shops” or something – to my Pinterest account. These will be added first, of course. I wonder which amazing book shops Kiersten will share with us next. I can’t wait.

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Menopause Monday – Support when you need it

Hello Lovely Followers,

I hope that you have had a nice weekend. Mine wasn’t too bad, although I did turn into a blubbering mess watching something on telly Saturday afternoon. I wont tell you what because you’ll laugh … yes you will.

OK it was Cars 3. See? I told you, you’d laugh!

I was browsing the internet, once again, on my quest to find out as much as I can about the “M” word and help me with these stupid symptom. OK I can chuckle about it now.


As I’ve already mentioned, I’m a great believer in natural remedies rather than pumping our bodies with man made chemicals, so I do genuinely look to herbalists, homoeopaths and alternative therapists first to help me with any health issues. Although, I must say, I am very lucky to have a great GP who is more open than most and will refer me to alternative therapies through the NHS.

The following article from Natural Health News has lots of background information in it (some of which is based on studies in the USA) links to previous articles about the menopause and useful some tips.


According to the rather dry, medical definition, menopause is simply the cessation of menstruation.  But women experience it in much more richly, and sometimes in enormously detailed and complex ways.

menopausal-womanAlthough we talk about the ‘symptoms’ of menopause – and there are dozens of them – the fact is that menopause is not a disease state but a natural condition. Like all life transitions menopause involves a complex interplay between body and mind, soul and culture that our limited language has never really described well.

Thinking just in terms of physical symptoms can lead to a situation where we medicalise something that doesn’t need to be medicalised.

Menopausal ‘symptoms’ do not arise in isolation. They can be worsened or ameliorated by certain aspects of a woman’s lifestyle for instance, whether she smokes, what she eats and whether she is physically active and her emotional health, whether she is depressed, anxious or fearful of change.

Symptoms can also vary both individually and culturally. For instance, in those countries which honour and revere older women, notably those in Asia, women rarely complain of menopausal symptoms.

While the decline of a woman’s production of estrogen can result in some temporary, and a few longer term, symptoms, it is our emotional response to these symptoms as much as anything which determines how well we cope.

Some women, in panic, fear or hopelessness, have found relief with conventional approaches such as HRT, though the evidence is overwhelming that HRT brings its own complications, chief among these are an increase rate of endometrial and breast cancer as well as a possible increase in heart disease.

A long road

Menopause doesn’t just happen; it’s one end of a gradual transition often called the ‘climacteric’.

This term is generally used to describe the 15 year period during which menstruation will cease. Around this fulcrum will be a number of physical and psychological changes.

You’d think as women we’d be used to this kind of pace. There is, for instance, rarely a precise beginning to menstruation – many young girls have light spotting and erratic bleeding for years. Likewise, there is rarely a precise beginning to labour – many women experience niggly symptoms on and off for days or weeks.

By calling this period perimenopause (the time before menopause) practitioners have a name to hang these symptoms on.  But there is little evidence that this is helpful to women.

Not surprisingly in one study, women’s overall health status, emotional and physical, objectively and subjectively – and not income and education – were the significant factors in how well women adjusted to the menopause.

Here also the language lets us down again. Menopause is so often defined as the ‘end’ of something and yet a compelling review, The Natural History of Menopause, which details work of Pennsylvania State University scientists, the elasticity of women’s cycles comes to light.

Using hormonal measurements, the scientists suggest that during the climacteric women’s cycles lengthen and lengthen until ‘menopause’ which could be described as more like a really long menstrual cycle. Indeed even after menopause some women will get light spotting and other menstrual symptoms from time to time.

It’s a challenging concept and of course it still doesn’t address the fact that menopause does bring physical changes that can make life uncomfortable.

Self help for menopausal symptoms

For those who are simply not willing to take the risks associated with hormone replacement and other medical drugs, there are many natural remedies which can ease the transition abound.  It goes without saying that a healthy diet is important. But herbal and other approaches can help too. It’s worth remembering too, that treating these symptoms during menopause is not much different from treating them at any other time of life.

Studies show that today’s women prefer non-medical treatment for their symptoms and want more support from their GPs – and their partners in pursuing these. Because menopause has become something of an industry, studies into the effect of natural remedies abound. This should make choosing alternatives more straightforward, but in truth the world of menopause remedies is full of myths and untruths.

Menopause triggers so many physical changes it would take a book just to address them all. Here’s our pick of the best approaches to a handful of the major conditions associated with menopause:

Hot flushes

Hot flushes are so individual that it is hard to find consistent evidence on what will help. Practical approaches to hot flushes include dressing in layers so you can put on or peel off as required and carrying hand fan (which with practice can be an elegant solution, here’s a fun video on how). It can also be useful to have a facial spritzer either in your purse or by the bedside. Go for one made with rose or orange flower water or with cooling, calming essential oils.

Vitamin E can help relieve hot flushes for some women, as can pomegranate seed oil. Certain bioflavinoids may also have an estrogenic effect, as well as being supportive of the vascular system. When combined with vitamin C (1200mg daily) have been shown to relieve hot flushes. The herb black cohosh may be useful for some but phytoestrogens derived from soya or red clover, appear to be only moderately effective. In fact, some studies show no benefit at all.

There is evidence that weight loss in conjunction with a low-fat, high fruit and vegetable diet may help to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause. A recent study has also shown that hypnotherapy can help cut the frequency and severity of menopausal hot flashes by up to 80%.

If hot flushes are worse in tense situation, keep some Rescue Remedy or Emergency Essence on hand to calm things down. A 2013 study found that diet is also key.

The researchers found two food patterns were associated with fewer hot flashes: high fruit intake and Mediterranean-style diet (veggies, garlic, red wine, tomatoes). On the other hand, high-fat and high-sugar diets were associated with high rates of reported hot flashes. Other food triggers include caffeine, alcohol and spicy food.


The climacteric can bring major changes in sleeping patterns. A combination of stress, anxiety, depression, hot flashes/night sweats is the likely cause. This is an important time to practice good ‘sleep hygiene. So 1) Make your room dark quiet and safe; 2) Keep your room as cool as you can; 3) Skip alcohol and tobacco.

Use a sprizter (as above) or keep a facecloth in a bucket of cool water near to hand at night so you can cool yourself quickly and get back to sleep. Some women find that special pillows the keep the head cool can greatly help them get a better night’s sleep.

A diet deficient in vitamin B12 may also promote insomnia and it may be important to recommend menopausal women increase consumption of B12 foods rich like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and other dairy as well as fermented soya and whole grains.

Practicing yoga has also been shown to improve sleep in menopausal women. It can also be helpful for relieving stress and depression, as well as keeping you limber.

Vaginal Dryness

This is a difficult problem to talk about and a difficult one to solve. It has long been believed that foods which are high in phytoestrogens include, flax seeds, fermented soya products like tofu and miso, fennel, celery, rhubarb, parsley, clover sprouts, high lignan flaxseed oil as well as nuts and seeds, may help. There is some evidence to support this, but the science is by no means conclusive.

Eating these foods regularly is a good idea even if you don’t suffer from vaginal dryness, as they increase the diversity of your overall dietary diversity.

One study post-menopausal women who added soya flour (45 g daily), red clover sprouts (10 g daily) and linseed (25 g daily) for a period of two weeks each, demonstrated an increase in the number of superficial cells which line the vagina at the end of the six week period. Since thinning of the vaginal walls is linked to dryness, this increase could help symptoms of vaginal dryness and irritation.

The herb Pueraria mirifica, which contains numerous phytoestrogens, has recently been promoted as an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. In one double-blind study, the herb showed promise for improving vaginal dryness. In another trial comparing Pueraria to standard estrogen treatment (0.625 mg conjugated equine estrogen), researchers found the herb to be equally effective at relieving a range of menopausal symptoms.

Supplementing with maca may also help boost libido as well as energy and vitality. These days you can also buy certified organic personal lubricants for temporary relief (a better choice than the conventional chemical laden types).


Depression is rarely just a physical phenomenon and can’t easily be correlated with ‘hormones’. If you have been prone to depression before menopause, you may be more prone to it during menopause.

Low mood can be exacerbated by major stresses in the lives of menopausal women, which can so often translate into feelings of depression and unpredictable mood swings, are most often caused by family or factors other than menopause.

For instance, in one study around 25% of menopausal women are caring for an elderly relative, which can certainly be stressful.  So, seek help and support, either from a therapist or someone who can take the reins at home. Trying to do it all can just increase the sense of isolation that some women feel during the menopause. Remember also that sleep problems and depression go hand in hand.

Your diet and general level of nutrition is also important. Getting enough healthy omega-3 fats can help combat depression (whereas trans fats have been associated with a greater tendency towards irritability and depression). Evening primrose oil may also be helpful for some, though not all studies agree.

Lower levels of estrogen in your blood may make less tryptophan available for conversion into serotonin – our natural ‘feel good’ hormone. Thus supplementing with this essential amino acid or eating foods rich in tryptophan (dairy, poultry, fish, seaweed, bananas, dried dates, peanuts and all protein rich foods) may make a contribution to easing symptoms of depression and insomnia.

20 March, 2014 By Staff Writer – Natural Health News

See also:  How to prevent brittle bones and Soya – how the world’s healthiest food is making us sick 

Source: Support during the menopause

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Menopause Monday – Detox Dieting

Hello Lovely Followers,

So, here I am again posting something about the menopause. As I have already said, I am at that age where the “M” word is begin bounded around in my circle of friends and colleagues and I am sure that I am perimenopausal because I’m experiencing quite a few of the tell-tale signs. 😉

In my research, I’ve noticed that the same foods keep popping up; I’ve already increased the amount of soya I consume since joining Slimming World (read my Weight Loss Wednesday posts to find out more) and I had taken caffeine out of my diet a couple of years ago by switching to decaffeinated tea (I don’t drink coffee) as one of my colleagues had recommended that it helped reduce her menopause symptoms.


I found the article below on the Natural Heath News website. As I’ve said before, I’m a great believer in natural remedies rather than man made chemicals so I was very interested in the suggestions made in the article that supposedly helps with the symptoms and the Detox Diet itself is very similar to the healthy eating plan that I’m already on through Slimming World!!

Oh, and I’ve added a few purchase links to help, if you’d like to try out some of the suggestions yourself or the simple detox diet yourself.

Your detox diet for menopause

The menopause is potentially one of the most liberating transitions in every woman’s life.

It can herald a shift to greater freedom and personal satisfaction as you move from constantly supplying family needs to having more time and space to express your own purpose. Making love can also become more relaxed and adventurous as the fear of pregnancy recedes.

In more traditional societies the role of the older woman is well established in the community and such things as wisdom, calmness and more time to observe and reflect are valued and respected.

From an energetic perspective during the fertile years a woman’s spiritual energy ebbs and flows during her menstrual cycle, after the menopause the spiritual contact can be more direct and consistent.

There are still societies where the cessation of periods that indicates the menopause physically, is just that and no other symptoms are expected. Japanese women, for example, are known for their lack of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, attributed mainly to their increased consumption of soya based products, which are high in phytoestrogens.

In western society ageing has become associated with failure and losing one’s function, becoming less useful and unattractive. The emphasis on youthful appearance has led to a great fear among many women of showing the natural signs of ageing and embracing one’s changing role and status.

The key to a healthy menopause is to accept it as a time of transition into a new phase of life and not view it as the beginning of a decline. There are many positive examples of women at this stage of their lives who have changed careers, moved to a different part of the country or chosen to pursue their own interest in such things as a natural medicine course, gardening or painting.

If you are finding it difficult to have a positive attitude towards this major life transition then the Australian Bush Flower Essence called Woman Essence can be very helpful.

It has been developed to encourage a woman’s own innate strength and beauty and it will help to harmonize mood swings and balance the emotions during the menopause. Simply take a few drops morning and night for a few weeks.

The menopause transition

Like all periods of transition, the menopause can throw up symptoms both emotionally and physically as we move through it.

The average age of the menopause is 52 (although anything between 48 and 54 is normal and many woman may be younger), and the cessation of periods is the observable result of a number of complex hormonal changes occurring within the body.

The ovaries, the pituitary and the hypothalamus in the brain are the glands that communicate with each other to regulate the menstrual cycle. During menopause the hormonal balance begins to change, and less oestrogen produced by the ovaries.

At around the same time, more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are produced by the pituitary. It is usually the level of FSH that is measured when testing for the menopause occurring.

These hormonal changes, when out of balance, are responsible for the symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats that can occur during the menopause.

The decline in oestrogen fluctuates at first, but eventually tapers off. This is then replaced by a form of oestrogen called oestrone, that is converted from androgen mainly produced by the adrenal glands.

Insufficient oestrogen can lead to the symptoms of hot flushes, vaginal dryness and in the longer term, osteoporosis. This emphasises the importance of having healthy adrenal glands if we want to enjoy good health after the menopause. The adrenal glands are especially prone to damage by poor nutrition and an excess of stress.

What goes wrong?

The liver has the job of breaking down ‘old’ hormones and eliminating them from the body. If the liver is not functioning efficiently then these ‘old’ hormones continue to circulate in the body causing PMT-like symptoms, hot flushes, irritability and headaches and can eventually lead to a range of tumours such as fibroids and, when malignant, to cancer.

Going on a detox program can really help the liver to regenerate and this is why a regular detox can be the key to reducing menopausal symptoms.

Misc_fruitThe Detox Diet

This cleansing diet is a 10-day programme that is suitable if you are basically healthy but want to clear your system out and give your liver a chance to regenerate.

If you have a particular health problem you should have a consultation with a naturopath before going on a special diet.

Day 1

Fruit for breakfast, lunch and in the evening. Choose one fruit for each meal from the following: apples, pears, kiwi fruit and grapes. Eat as much fruit as you like at one sitting.

Day 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Fruit for breakfast. For lunch make a mixture of at least five salad vegetables: mix grated roots, sprouts and leafy vegetables.

In the evening eat cooked vegetables. Make a soup by boiling a mixture of at least five vegetables. Do not add any salt or seasoning. You may add fresh, chopped herbs or a handful of mixed seeds.

Day 7, 8 and 9

Breakfast as day 2. Lunch as day 2 but in addition eat two rice cakes or two rye crispbreads. Evening as day 2 with the addition of a portion of brown rice or millet.

Day 10

Breakfast as day 2. Lunch as day 7. Evening as day 2 but in addition eat a baked potato with a small knob of butter (it will taste delicious!)

Things to pay attention to

Drink lots of mineral water every day. Obtain as many as possible of the fruit and vegetables organically produced. Important things to avoid altogether throughout the diet are: tea, coffee, smoking, salt, pepper, recreational and non-essential prescription drugs and late nights.

A simple salad dressing, made by combining olive oil, lemon and fresh chopped herbs, may be added to the salad lunch.


  • Mid-morning you can have an additional portion of fruit or a fruit smoothie.
  • Mid-afternoon you can have a handful of roasted seeds e.g. pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds. Do not add salt.

This detox diet should be carried out at least once a year and preferably twice a year. Spring and autumn are traditional times to undertake a detox.

The above article is excerpted from Understanding the menopause: natural solutions that really work by Susan Curtis (Winter Press, 2007). Susan’s book features advice on a range of different natural options to ease the transition of menopause.

13 September, 2011 By Susan Curtis

Source: Your detox diet for menopause

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Menopause Monday – It’s Not Just HRT

Hello Lovely Followers,

WOW! The internet really has hundreds of hits about the menopause – causes, symptoms, magic remedies and theories.

Are any of you, my dear followers, at this well documented stage of your life too? I know some of you are years away from the menopause, hopefully by the time you get there, we will have invented a cure! Lol! But if you are soldiering on through the sweats, changes to your monthly cycle, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, depression, loss of confidence, feelings of being invisible and/or changes in your libido or sex drive then my Menopause Monday posts may be just what you need.

I found the article below on the Natural Health News website, I’m a great believer in natural remedies rather than man made chemicals so I was very interested in the suggested herbs to help with the hot flashes!!


I’ve added links to some of the suggested remedies throughout the article to help make things easier if you want to buy them (opens in a new window). I would be interested to know if you’ve tried any of the alternatives to HRT and whether they worked for you.



Doctors need to brush up on alternative approaches to menopause

Herbal and complementary medicines can safely be recommended as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for treating post-menopausal symptoms says a new review.

The review published in The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist outlines the advantages and limitations of both pharmacological and herbal and complementary treatments for women with post-menopausal symptoms.

The menopause – which ‘officially’ begins when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 months – is associated with a significant drop in estrogen (or oestrogen) production and can cause an increase in vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes), genitourinary symptoms (vaginal dryness, sexual dysfunction, frequent urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence), and musculoskeletal symptoms (joint pain) as well as sleep and mood disturbance.

One of the most common menopausal symptoms is hot flushes; approximately two-thirds of post-menopausal women will experience them, and 20% of women can experience them for up to 15 years, states the review.

Herbs-for-hot-flashesHelp for hot flushes

Low estrogen levels can also be linked to longer-term health issues such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis (though this is not by any means the only cause). While conventional drugs are available to treat post-menopausal symptoms, many non-pharmacological treatment options are also available.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can effectively treat hot flushes, improving symptoms in 80-90% of women, says the review. However, the author notes, that there are serious health risks associated with HRT, such as links to breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, and cardiovascular problems.

The seriousness of these risks means that many women seek safer alternatives, many of which can be equally effective, such as behaviour modification and herbal and complimentary medicines, says the author.

According to the author, between 50-75% of post-menopausal women use herbal options to treat hot flushes, and of the complimentary therapies, soya, red clover and black cohosh have been the most investigated.

Soya contains plant estrogens and previous research has shown supplements can reduce hot flush symptoms by around 20-55%. Red clover, a legume also containing phytoestrogens, and black cohosh, a plant originating from the eastern United States and Canada, have also been reported to ease post-menopausal symptoms.

No nasty side effects

The review recommends these herbal treatments as there are no significant adverse side effects associated with them, as long as they are used in women who do not have a personal history of breast cancer, are not at high risk for breast cancer, and are not taking tamoxifen.

Iris Tong, Director of Women’s Primary Care at the Women’s Medicine Collaborative, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Rhode Island, and author of the review said:

“Up to 75% of women use herbal and complimentary medicines to treat their post-menopausal symptoms. Therefore, it is vitally important for healthcare providers to be aware of and informed about the non-pharmacological therapies available for women who are experiencing post-menopausal symptoms and who are looking for an alternative to HRT.”

The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist‘s Editor -in-Chief, Jason Waugh added:

Post-menopausal symptoms can be very distressing and it is important to review the advantages and limitations of the non-pharmacological treatments available as well as the pharmacological ones. Even simple behaviour modification can make a difference to post-menopausal symptoms, including keeping the room temperature cool, wearing layered clothing, relaxation techniques and smoking cessation.”

15 January, 2013

Source: Doctors need to brush up on alternative approaches to menopause

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OOAK? What?

Good morning everyone,

As that festive season is fast approaching, I’ve been browsing more shopping sites than usual recently and I kept coming across the word OOAK.

I was flummoxed!

Luckily, I found the post below on a very friendly blog that helped clear it up for me.

Here at the Round Top Antiques Market you may find just about anything; antiques, vintage items, re-purposed items, new reproduction pieces made to look vintage, hand crafted items. The list is endless. With miles of tents, buildings and open air venues and unlimited vendors all vying for your attention and your shopping funds it proves to confound and confuse most shoppers.

One of the signs I found most confusing is “OOAK.” I noticed it in several places but, I never heard of that as a descriptor for vintage and antique pieces. What could it mean?


How do you pronounce this word? Long O plus oak like the tree? Maybe a new strain of oak tree I’ve never heard of? But that wouldn’t explain the artistic items with which this word is usually associated.

Or possibly OO as in oolong tea plus ak with a short a? Sounding like some kind of tribal word or possibly an Eskimo word? Maybe describing a technique for making the artisan item?

After chatting with one of the artisans, I learned OOAK stands for “One Of A Kind.” Who knew? One of a Kind!

Interesting items lovingly crafted by an artisan with bits and pieces that when put together make a beautifully eclectic look….one of a kind.

Now when you see OOAK, think of all the time and effort it took to find the pieces to make that one of a kind piece and learn to love and appreciate them all the more. Then purchase the one that feed your soul and makes you smile. The artisan will appreciate you loving their work and you will have a One of a Kind piece to add to your collection.

For the next two weeks I’ll be blogging from Warrenton Texas at the Round Top Antiques Market. Follow me, learn about the quirky, strange and unusual items, people and things to see.

You can see the original post by clicking the link below.

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Some Facts From The Woodland Trust

Hello Lovely Followers,

I was browsing the internet and wondered how many British charities were founded during the year I was born? As some of you may know, I have been known to support a cause or two and I found this interesting post so I thought I’d share it with you all.

Our ancient woodland are very important to me and so I’ve signed petitions and donated money in the past to The Woodland Trust; they want to see a UK rich in native woods and trees, for both people and wildlife and are a voice for the environment who seek to effect policy change through their research and campaigns.

I’ve kept all the original links and have posted the link to the post itself at the bottom.



11 must-know facts about woods and forests in the UK

Woods are a vital part of the ecosystems that give us the essentials of life. Woods and forests really are amazing places, not only are they beautiful but they provide us with many benefits. Without them the world would be a very different place. Here are 11 key facts about woods and forests in the UK.

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims:

  • i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable,
  • ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life,
  • iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.

1. Woods and forests are cities for our wildlife

(WTML / John Bridges)
(WTML / John Bridges)

Our woods and trees are home to more wildlife than any other landscape. The UK’s woodland has some of our richest habitats providing homes for thousands of species including many of our mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates. Woods, and more specifically the trees within them, provide shelter, food and safe places to hide and breed.

Discover wildlife activities you can do with family.

2. Trees in forests communicate with each other through a fungal network or ‘wood wide web’

Fungi have fine threads that spread underground called mycelium. Trees use mycelium like an underground internet to link with other trees and plants. They use these networks to communicate, such as to warn each other of danger. They also use them to share nutrients, older trees will pass nutrients to their offspring that are growing nearby. These partnerships are called ‘mycorrhiza’.

3. Not all rainforests are tropical, we actually have rainforests in the UK

(WTML / Phil Formby) The Celtic Rainforest at Lennyrch in Wales
(WTML / Phil Formby) The Celtic Rainforest at Lennyrch in Wales

The UK is home to a few small pockets of rainforest. They are temperate deciduous forests with a constantly moist environment that encourages growth of mosses and ferns.

4. Woods in the UK are structured with four layers: canopy, understory, herb layer and ground layer

The canopy is made up of the leaves and branches of the tallest trees. The understory or shrub layer is the vegetation below the canopy from smaller trees or shrubs, such as hawthorn, that grow in low light. The herb (or field) layer comes next, plants that grow here depend on how open the canopy is and often need gaps of light to grow. The ground layer is the forest floor filled with mosses, fungi, leaf litter and decaying wood.

5. Galloway Forest in Scotland is the UK’s largest forest at 297 square miles

The next largest is England’s Kielder Forest in Northumberland which is 235 square miles.

6. Around 13% of the UK is covered in woods and forests

(WTML / David Rodway)
(WTML / David Rodway)

The UK is the second least wooded country in Europe after Ireland. In comparison Europe’s average tree cover is 44%. Not enough trees are being planted in the UK meaning we could soon be in a period of deforestation. This is why the Woodland Trust works to create new woodland and connect existing woods by planting native trees.

Find out more about our tree planting.

7. Just 2% of the UK’s land mass is covered in ancient woodland

(WTML / Jane Corey)
(WTML / Jane Corey)

Ancient woodland is defined as areas that have been continuously wooded since 1600 in England and Wales, and 1750 in Scotland. It’s not the trees but the soils that give them this name. The soils have been preserved from human interference for centuries. This has resulted in the development of complex ecosystems that make ancient woods unique and irreplaceable. The Trust is working hard to protect these habitats before they all disappear.

Find out how you can help.

8. The UK’s woods are home to almost half of all bluebells in the world

(WTML / Lesley Newcombe)
(WTML / Lesley Newcombe)

The UK is famous for its stunning bluebell carpets that bloom in our ancient woods from April to May. They are a slow spreading bulb flower with each bulb potentially living for years. New flowers bloom from the existing bulbs every year. But they face many threats from trampling, habitat loss, competition and hybridisation with Spanish bluebells, and from people picking them or digging up the bulbs (this is illegal).

Join the Big Bluebell Watch.

9. The Woodland Trust owns over 1,100 woods across the UK which are all free to visit

We believe everyone should be able to access woods near them for free.  We also buy woods to safeguard and restore them, where we can. We take on sites with existing or ancient woodland or create new woods by planting. Some of our popular sites have both, such as Heartwood Forest in Hertfordshire.

Find a wood to visit near you.

Charter for Trees, Woods and People
Charter for Trees, Woods and People

10. Last year, on the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forests, a new contemporary Charter for Trees, Woods and People was launched for the UK

Over 70 organisations, local groups and thousands of people worked together to create a Tree Charter that will guide policy and practice in the UK. It is made up of 10 principles that illustrate how we should use, value, protect and celebrate woods and trees. Over 130,000 people have shown their support by signing the Charter.

Find out more about the Tree Charter.

11. Spending time in woods and forests, or even just around trees, is proven to boost our health and wellbeing

(WTML / Judith Parry)
(WTML / Judith Parry)

Lots of research provides evidence that woods benefit our health. Studies have shown that patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster and with fewer complications. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Being near trees helps our concentration by reducing mental fatigue. One study discovered that a forest stroll had beneficial effects on blood pressure, heart rate and the immune system.

Discover woods and forests for yourself

We hope you enjoyed learning some interesting facts about woods and forests in the UK. Why not go and discover the wonder of woods and forests first-hand with your family or friends? We offer lots of activities to get you started as part of our family membership.

Source: 11 must-know facts about woods and forests – Woodland Trust