Dreaming about spring

 

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Spring Blossom by Nick

Whenever I think of spring it reminds me of visiting the University town of Oxford in England.

Described as the ‘city of dreaming spires’ by poet Matthew Arnold, because of the amazing architecture of the university buildings. 

It’s an inspiring place; author Lewis Carroll wrote his famous novel Alice in Wonderland here in 1862.

The story is based on a girl called Alice who follows a white rabbit into a rabbit hole and arrives in wonderland.

During her adventure she goes to a mad tea party in chapter seven, or more popularly know as the Mad Hatters tea party.

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to fall down a rabbit hole and explore wonderland for yourself? Inspired by the tea party; I’ve written my own short story based on this idea.

Two Versions of an Amazing Dream by Nick 

A strong smell of tarmac rises from the ground. 

“Yes, that blue teapot tastes good, its made from blue chocolate!” 

From a car window a teacup is thrust out,

“Lovely tea dear, one sugar or two?” 

The ground is hazy, full of green, large, grass; it smells fresh.

Food spread over the grass; doughnuts with jam, pies covered in cream and a red jelly cake with a palm tree in the middle.

A recognisable face dressed as a orange bear eating pies. Cream all over his face. A clown face looks directly at her and disappears in clouds of cream. 

“Pies everywhere I go; I can see pies raining from the sky” Cream covers her, she can feel it on her nose.

Jane looks again at a large pillow. She is awake.

***********

As Jane walks along in the park a stranger rushes up to her and says

“Yes that blue china teapot tastes good, you have a similar one to mine, it was made of blue chocolate. All I can say is it tasted good, when can you bring me another to try?”

A car pulls up next to Jane, the window winds down and a passenger passes her a cup of tea.

 “Lovely tea, dear, one sugar or two?”

Jane’s vison blurs, she shuts her eyes, opens them, and notices in front of her a mass of green, huge blades of grass. 

She is laying on the grass now and in front of her is an amazing picnic. Doughnuts oozing with jam, pies covered in cream, and a red jelly cake in the middle decorated with a pineapple. 

Her friend’s face is visible. He seems to have turned into a giant orange bear and he is hungrily tucking into a pie, covering him in cream. Next to him an inflatable clown snatches the cream pie from his hands and hurls it into the air. The clown shouts 

“Pies, Pies everywhere I go, I can see pies raining from the sky” 

The cream lands all over everything. Jane notices a large blob of cream on the end of her nose. She tries to wipe it off with a tissue and finds she can’t.

Jane moves her head and looks down at a large pillow, she is lying in bed and has woken up. What a crazy dream, did I really dream that!

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Visit to Fountains Abbey

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Fountains Abbey Photo by Nick 

My contribution to World Poetry Day is set in Fountains Abbey, Ripon, North Yorkshire.

Visit to Fountains Abbey

Long distances we have travelled,

To experience this monastic splendour,

As we arrive, on this warm September day,

Pausing at the visitor centre,

Route mapped out by a welly clad woman,

Our journey starts on its final descent,

We are unaware of what lies ahead,

Into view appears an amazing sight,

A magnificent ruined abbey,

Explorers we become at last,

Amongst colossal columns and Gothic arches,

Reaching up with dizzying heights,

Shards of brilliant white sunlight,

Shine through vast windows,

Suddenly a flock of Jackdaws take flight,

Circling the tower in swathes of blackness,

Beyond a backdrop of brilliant blue sky,

Happiness engulfs our being,

Is it possible we are experiencing reality?

Or dreaming?

Poem by Nick

For more information about visiting this world heritage site, have a look at the link below.

Fountains Abbey National Trust website

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Fountains Abbey Photo by Nick

New Decoupage Designs

I’ve just completed a few new items, all heart shaped. Each item was painted first and then covered with decoupage paper and other decorations. For further details have a look on Etsy

Decoupage Heart Shaped Box

Decoupage Wooden Heart (front and back)

Decoupage Wooden Heart (front and back)

Tell me the truth about…Cheese

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I am a cheese lover, I particularly like goats cheese for its strong unusual flavour.  In the past, I would regularly tuck into cheese sandwiches every day; selecting different cheeses to eat every week. 

I’m not in a minority enjoying cheese with around a third of us eating cheese regularly in a meal. 

The top five most popular cheeses in Britain at the moment are:

English Cheddar

Red Leicester 

Brie 

Mozzarella 

Parmesan

This trend seems to be growing with the increase in popularity of vegetarian foods recently. More people are becoming aware of the health benefits of cutting down on red meat and are also aware of the environmental impact of production processes. An appealing alternative to this appears to be cheese.

The most surprising fact is that one in ten people habitually eat a chunk of cheese as a main meal.

I’ve been trying to cut back on saturated fat intake along with my carer. Until recently I’d eaten cheese and thought it was not particularly any more fattening than any other type of food; except fruit and veggies which you can eat in abundance.

I discovered reading food labels in detail, that it is very high in saturated fats. Much higher than most red meats in fact and therefore not much help if your trying to cut back on saturated fat.

Cheese can contribute to increased levels of saturated fat in the diet fast if it’s eaten regularly. An alarming fact if you have switched to cheese recently and thought it was a healthy option to meat products.

Why is saturated fat something to be aware of in a diet?

Saturated fat in a nutshell……

Eating too much saturated fat in your diet leads to your body producing excess cholesterol which causes blood arteries to become blocked or restricted. This in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease which includes heart attacks, angina and strokes.

The easiest way to reduce this risk is by lessening the intake of saturated fats. There are some quick and easy ways to start making a difference. Avoid or reduce full fat dairy products such as cream or cheese (skimmed or 1% fat milk is much better than full fat milk). Also cut back on pasties, pastries, pies, cakes, chocolate, coconut milk, coconut oil and palm oil. When eating meat choose low fat meats such as chicken, turkey, venison, veal or rabbit.

In addition you can have foods that reduce cholesterol in the blood.

Soluble fibre (e.g. fruit, vegetables, oats and nuts) absorbs and carries the cholesterol out of the body.

Plant stanols or sterols inhibit cholesterol absorption in the gut. These are available in fortified foods such as Benecol.

For more information about diet and healthy eating have a look at the following website:

NHS Live well, eat well

Further details about heart disease and stroke:

British Heart Foundation information and support

Stroke Association

Look after your health and your heart….

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Spotlight on Mindfulness for fibromyalgia

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This week, I thought it would be worthwhile spending time discovering how mindfulness can help and perhaps trying it out.

In a previous post I mentioned that mindful meditation has been proven to help the symptoms of fibromyalgia. I was intrigued to explore this in more detail. 

How can mindfulness be described?

In a nutshell, it’s focusing our attention purely on the present moment. Doing this without letting the mind drift back to past memories or thinking about future events. Mindfulness is embracing the present with acceptance, without judgment.

The monkey mind

There are so many distractions for us to focus our mind on. To illustrate the monkey mind, try this exercise for a couple of minutes.

Focus your mind on your breathing.  Think about where you can feel movement in your chest from your breathing.  Concentrate on this area, for a few minutes. You will notice your thoughts stray, thinking about numerous things other than the breath.

These thoughts are from past or future experiences. The mind is rarely focused on the present. It jumps from one subject to another, like a monkey playing. This practice is called the monkey mind.

Why should I try mindfulness?

Clinical researchers have carried out a number of tests which have shown that mindfulness can improve your overall health and wellbeing. For fibromyalgia sufferers the benefits can be:

  • lower stress levels 
  • lower depression
  • improve the quality of sleep 
  • reduce anxiety 
  • encourage positive thinking
  • alter the way the mind reacts to difficult situations 
  • improve decision making 

How do I start to practice mindfulness?

Start by focusing on your senses when you carry out your everyday routine. By thinking about the feel, touch, smell and the sound of everything you are experiencing. 

If you carry out a task such as washing the dishes, think about the heat of the water, the texture and feel of the plates, the scent of washing up liquid and the sound of water filling up the bowl. 

If you have a regular daily routine build some time into it every day to practice mindfulness.

You could try changing your daily activities. For example if you regularly go for a walk and always walk the same way; try changing the route to one your not as familiar with. Or try a completely new walk. 

By changing your routine to something different or new it will get your mind to focus on a familiar task in a different or new way.

Thought watching 

If you find while you are concentrating on tasks thoughts interrupt you. Just observe them, try not to be side tracked by them.

Introduce a label for each thought that arises; ‘I’m nervous about a exam result’, label it ‘thought’, or a feeling ‘I feel worried’ label it ‘emotion’; and go back to the task you are carrying out.

This practice will help train the mind to not follow a thought and get sidetracked by it. Just observe thoughts without judgment, acknowledging them, and labelling them. Going back to the task.

Mindfulness meditation

Taking mindfulness a step further incorporating it into daily meditation practice can encourage the mind to work in a regular pattern.

Mindfulness meditation works by silently spending a few minutes every day thinking about one aspect of the body, such as breathing awareness and acknowledging thoughts, when they arise and bringing back attention to the breathing.

Have a look at my page on Meditation for more information about suggestions for meditation practice.