29 July 2015

Acupuncture, A First For Me.

Over the last few weeks, I have been having physiotherapy at my local minor injuries hospital to help with my knee problem. About two weeks into my treatment, I was chatting with my lovely physiotherapist about how the treatment was going and I happened to mention to her that I was having problems with my foot, the foot on the same leg as my bad knee. After a lot of poking and prodding, it turns out that it is almost certainly my foot that's has been causing most of the problems with my knee. Apparently, I have a bit of an imbalance as a result of the pain in my foot, caused, most likely, by arthritis and it's that imbalance that has caused my knee problems because I walk "funny" ..... not a technical term but you get what I mean. 

Each week, my physio has massaged and manipulated my foot, she has used ultrasound on the affected area and has given me exercises to do to loosen up the joints and it seems to be working. Then, at my appointment last week, she suggested I try acupuncture and strangely, I found myself hesitating. I know she is fully qualified and that many people swear by it, even my mum has had acupuncture in the past and has said it was very helpful and in principle, I think it's a good idea. Frankly, if it helps ease the pain in my joints it has got to be a good thing. I'm not even squeamish about needles but last week, I found myself making excuses as to why I couldn't do it that day and then praying fervently that when I turned up today, she would have forgotten about it. 

No such luck. We went through the usual massage and manipulation and I was just breathing a sigh of relief that my half-hour was almost up when she brought up the subject again and asked if I would like to try it. Not wanting to seem like a big wussy baby, I said of course I would and after taking a few deep breaths and shutting my eyes, one by one the 4 needles went in. I have no idea what I was so worried about. After the initial pin-prick sensation I couldn't feel the needles at all and after 20 minutes reading a book on my iPad, I felt thoroughly relaxed and my foot, although a bit sore from the manipulation and massage, felt surprisingly ok. I shall definitely be saying yes to acupuncture next week if she thinks it will be beneficial and I can't help thinking that if I hadn't been such a scaredy cat, I might well have tried it sooner. Hey ho lol live and learn :-)

Excuse the ugly feet ........ I snapped a quick photo with my iPad, because I wanted proof for my mum that I had actually been brave enough to try it. 

28 July 2015

Scaring the Gardener and Dog Friendly Beaches in Cornwall

I always think it must be a bit of a shock for the people that only know me outside of my house, to actually meet me at home, in my natural environment. For the most part, when I go out and about, I dress tidily, if a little unconventionally, I usually remember to brush my hair and I am very focused on what needs to be done or bought or organised. The rest of the time, though, it's an entirely different matter. When I am at home, either relaxing or sewing or creating stuff, I like to be comfortable so I wear ratty tracksuit bottoms, full of holes from cats clawing their way onto my lap, an assortment of paint-stained t-shirts and jumpers and with either the radio or tv blaring away because I don't like to be in a quiet house, the silence drives me to distraction. My only organised activity in this mass of chaos is first thing after I get up in the morning, come rain or shine, I walk my dogs in my field in my pyjamas with a mug of tea in one hand and a slice of toast in the other.

My neighbours are all used to me wandering through to the field dressed like this and never comment except, perhaps, to remark favourably on my choice of PJ's. Not so my new gardener! I was late getting up this morning due to some strong antihistamines for my spontaneous urticaria, which has been quite bad lately and I'm now taking antihistamines every day to try and stop the episodes. The ones I took last night were strong enough to stop a charging rhino and knocked me out completely so when I leapt out of bed this morning at 8.45am, almost 2 hours later than I usually get up, the gardener caught me hopping around the patio in my PJ's doing a final poop-scoop in readiness for his visit, while on my mobile with my youngest daughter discussing the differences between serial killers and spree killers ..... a long story involving a 9 series box set of Criminal Minds and a lot of late nights! I'm hoping this hasn't scared him off. He's a very nice gentleman and I'm just hoping that it didn't freak him out too much because a good gardener is hard to find and is like gold dust 'round these parts!

Now for the dog friendly beaches. I was doing a bit of research for another guest blog post I'm writing and I came across the map I always kept on the reception desk at the holiday park where I worked. It's something I used to get asked a lot so I thought I would share the map and the link with you, in case you were venturing down to Cornwall on your hols. I don't take my dogs to the beach any more, they mostly spend their time roaming the field because my Collie is afraid of the sea and won't walk on the sand, my Dalmation gets car sick and my Malamute, has a coat so thick that he takes weeks to dry out and the sand in his coat makes him itch. Quite frankly, it's much less stressful for all concerned if we stick to the countryside, but I do know that lots of people bring their dogs to Cornwall with them and want to take them to the beach ....... our four legged friends need a holiday too right? 

There are a number of beaches that are dog friendly all year round and there are some that are dog friendly for certain parts of the year. 

If you click here, you can go to a page where you can see what all the numbered beaches are and you can download your own copy of this very very helpful map.

20 July 2015

Flower Cuttings

It's drizzly and raining here in Cornwall, yet again and it's getting kinda depressing. Even if it's not drizzling, it's grey and muggy with no sunshine at all and I find it's very hard to concentrate when it's stuffy and muggy and drizzly. Anyhow, I have been pottering in the garden between showers and the other week I had to cut off a big rose branch that had snapped under the weight of the wet roses and on a whim, I stuck the three rose sticks into the tub that my cucumber plants were growing in. When they started to sprout, I was thrilled and decided that as the sticks were looking good but were getting bashed about by the growing cucumber leaves, I would move them to their own individual little pots. They were great for a day or so but then 2 of the sticks went black and the leaves fell off and they were clearly dead. The other one limped on for another couple of days and then that also died. I'm guessing that it's because I disturbed them too soon so when the same thing happened again a couple of days ago and I had to cut down another rose branch, I snipped it into three and having learned my lesson, I put each stick into it's own little pot this time and so far, they are looking nice and healthy.

It got me to wondering, what other plants can you do this with? I have been grovelling to neighbours who have all said I can take some cuttings of things in their gardens and when the rain stops, I'm going to be hopping around like a plant cutting ninja to see what I can collect. 

Does anyone have any tips for me? I'm a total novice at this and I have to confess, all my veg has been a disaster this year with most of the plants ending up on the compost heap ........ probably why I have turned my attention to flower cuttings, maybe I will have more luck with them :-) 

15 July 2015

The Not-So-Simple Pasty

First of all .... let me say, this is NOT a sponsored post and all the pasties I ate I paid for :-)

I was very excited the other week to be asked to write a guest blog post for a holiday cottage company. I was given free reign over what I wanted to write about and I gave myself a deadline for submission and was all gung-ho and fired up about it until I realised that writing a post for someone else's blog is a far cry from writing one for my little blog and guess what ....... I had massive attack of writer's block. In fact I think that writer's block coupled with blonde moments, senior moments and menopause moments all collided and I could not think of one single thing to write. 

I submitted the words and pictures to the lovely people at the company but I am not holding out much hope of publication. In the meantime, however, I did get some lovely research done that I thought I might put to good use and write a blog post for here. For the guest blog post I wrote about Looe. I live just outside Looe, about 7 miles away and we often go and have a walk along the harbour or down the little lanes and there are some lovely places to eat in Looe, especially some fabulous pasty shops. 

There is a very long history of pasty making tradition in Cornwall and it has been a documented part of the British diet since the 13th Century. In the 13th century, it was mostly the upper classes that ate pasties, with scrumptious fillings like venison, beef, lamb and seafood, flavoured with rich gravies and fruits. It wasn't until the 17th and 18th Centuries that the pasty became widely consumed by miners and farm workers as a means to provide them with a warm, hearty meal during the day. Apparently, the sign of a good pasty was that it could withstand being dropped down a mine! I'm not sure how the shop keepers would have reacted if I had started chucking the pasties into a mine to test how good they were So I had to come up with a plan B ..... I had to eat them :-)

Pretty much every bakery in Looe, in fact probably every bakery in Cornwall, sells their own tried and tested version of a Cornish pasty and I'm sure that most people who come to Cornwall have tried one, I mean, let's face it, it's practically compulsory and the traditional filling of beef, swede, potato and onion encased in a golden pastry crust is absolutely delicious but, some shops have experimented with other ingredients and have come up with some amazing combinations. Including ...... sweet pasties. Oh my goodness. SWEET PASTIES ...... just how heavenly is that?! Fruit, jam, custard and a whole host of other delicious sweet fillings all topped off with a dusting of icing sugar .... oh my! What's even more fascinating is that sweet pasties are not a new idea! Apparently, it was common for the pasties to provide not only a hearty, savoury main course lunch, but also a sweet or fruity desert course. The savoury filling would be cooked at one end of the pasty and the sweet course at the other end. So ingenious :-)

Anyway, after tasting countless pasties from many, many shops in my quest for deliciousness and probably gaining more than a few pounds in weight,

Here is the verdict. 

Drum Roll Please.

My very favourite pasty was a tie between the breakfast pasty from Sarah's Pasty Shop, a scrumptious combination of bacon, sausages, egg and beans 
the apple, rhubarb and custard pasty from Pasty Presto, both of which were utterly delicious. 
You can click on the names to get links to their websites.

Sarah's Pasty Shop East Looe and pasty menu from the shop. They do sell a whole host of other pies and pastries as well although there were way too many for me to eat my way through in such a short period of time.

Pasty Presto in East Looe

Breakfast Pasty

And here is one last small crumb of pasty-related information.

The crimped edge of the pasty, apart from holding everything inside, was a very important part of the pasty, particularly with tin miners because, not only is tin mining a mucky job, even worse, arsenic was often present, along with tin, within the ore that the men were mining. The thick crimped edge, that the men held onto, wasn't eaten but was was thrown away in order to avoid arsenic poisoning.

 Fascinating stuff.