Sunday, 26 December 2010

Yes Indeed

It's going to take me a long time to grasp the idea that she’s gone.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

I haz a Christmas Tree


For several years now I haven’t bothered with this Christmas lark at all. I don’t believe in it, I absolutely abhor the over-consumption and commercialism and I don’t have time for all the Santa crap either. If one must follow this tradition, then I much prefer the Spanish version, where – in keeping with the original story, at leastthe Three Kings bring the gifts and where there are fun public events one can attend.

After all, what does Christmas mean now in the UK, apart from shopping and eating?

This year I decided I’d have some subtle decorations and try to muster up some festive feeling. So far, it’s failing miserably and the only thing I can think of again is how much I miss the joys Christmas season I’d become familiar with in Tenerife.

Largest model railway in the world

A model railway enthusiast's wet dream, but I particularly liked the bit in the commentary, where he describes the people figures, starting with "thick people."

Via: Bits and Pieces

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Hip Pain at Night? The Problems of Pain and Lack of Sleep

imageBy Paul J Watts

Hip pain at any time is hard to handle, but hip pain at night when you should be relaxing and getting a good night's sleep, even mild pain can seem to be intensified to an unmanageable degree. This is especially true when pain disturbs your sleep, either because you cannot get comfortable enough to relax and fall asleep or because the stress of on-going pain affects your mood and your ability to "switch off". Aching joints are one of the most common causes of sleep problems. Hip and leg pain at night is made worse by the pressure placed on the hip and knee joints as you lie in bed. Moving in bed demands that these joints be twisted and if flexibility or movement in the afflicted joints is limited then turning can be a real problem.

Lack of sleep leads to increased pain. We all need sleep in order to heal and conserve strength; not sleeping for any reason makes pain during the day worse but furthermore, lack of sleep makes pain management a much more difficult process. The stress, anxiety and frustration caused by insomnia, as well as the loss of concentration and general poor health that can result, can be as big a problem as the pain itself. If poor sleep patterns become a habit, your sleep can suffer long after the pain is gone. For this reason, sleep is an important part of your management of pain.

Uncovered: 5 easy ways to Sleep Despite the Pain

1. Choose a good firm mattress, with advice from a bed specialist if possible. Too soft and the joints are poorly supported, too hard and the joints cannot relax.

2. Keep to your normal sleep schedule, go to bed at the normal time and if after lying awake for 20 minutes you still cannot sleep, get up and do something gentle and not over stimulating until you feel tired again. This is healthier than lying awake becoming frustrated.

3. Help your body relax more easily at night by doing gentle exercise that does not aggravate the pain throughout the day. Often the cause of sleeplessness through pain is due to a lack of physical exertion throughout the day so keep as busy as your condition allows.

4. If you find that your pain wakes you throughout the night, this is likely to be when you move, turn over or twist in your sleep. Pain when turning in bed can be alleviated by lying on a shiny or slightly slippery surface. This could be a sheet made of satin or a nylon sleeping bag, whatever helps you to turn more easily with less resistance despite stiff joints. This is especially useful when suffering from pregnant hip pain.

5. Manage medication and therapies carefully to make sure that you are less likely to suffer at night; take pain medications before bedtime when suitable and do not overdo things after having alternative therapies or using complimentary medicine - remember that your body needs time to process therapy and time to wind down after receiving it before sleep.

Pain does not have to mean sleeplessness; with careful management you can maintain a sleep pattern that allows your body to heal itself and your mind to deal with what is important.

Find more information on hip-pain problems and pain relief exercises and tips go to our blog at

Paul Watts

Monday, 13 December 2010

Survey Says We Are Not Scroungers

"Related to that is my favourite finding from the survey: 93% of people who are off work due to sickness are officially impaired. This may seem obvious to us, but with government and media trying to persuade us that we're all scroungers, it's really interesting to note that this survey makes it seem unlikely. People on Incapacity Benefit, ESA and other disability-related benefits really are disabled, based on this survey. That's HUGE, as evidence in our favour, and we need to use it in our campaigns."

Where's the Benefit?: The Life Opportunities Survey and how it relates to cuts to benefits and services:

Monday, 6 December 2010

Store-cupboard special: pea soup


It’s been a long time since I posted any of my culinary disasters exploits here, but today I was moved to make some nice warming soup.

Yes, I did say pea soup, although, looking at the colour, you may wonder if I spelled that correctly. Smile

Because of a long list of food and chemical intolerances, I don’t dare eat processed; tinned or packet soups. I’m also not strong on things that require effort – being constantly exhausted and unable to stand – so I’ve become quite adept at throwing minimal ingredients together into a slow cooker and coming up with something cheap, reasonably wholesome and vaguely edible.


  • A tablespoon-sized slurp of olive oil
  • A handful of chopped onion
  • 250 grs (half a packet) green split peas
  • Vegetable stock
  • 1 litre of hot water

Notes: Use the ordinary olive oil, not a highly flavoured virgin type. Ready-chopped onions are a God-send for those of us with wrist pain and weakness (Tesco sell them frozen that can be kept in the freezer.) If you’re using fresh onion, about a half of a medium one will do. Use whatever stock: cube, granules, etc., that you can tolerate. Organic is good.


Slurp the olive oil into the slow cooker, toss in the chopped onions, throw in the split peas and vegetable stock and pour over the water. Set on high and leave it to do it’s thing for 3-4 hours. Whizz with a stick blender, serve.

This will make 4-5 large bowl-sized portions to last all week.

(Alternatively, if you want to make this on the stove, it will take around 30 – 40 minutes, simmering in a conventional cauldron saucepan.)

Now you may think that the reason I made this is because it’s winter and Britain is shivering under sub-zero temperatures, but you’d be wrong.

No, the real reason, to borrow a Spanish phrase, is “para mojar pan” (to moisten bread). Actually, disguise might be a better word. Again, because I’ve developed an intolerance that bloats my stomach and sends my IBS spasms into overdrive, seemingly to wheat, if not gluten, I decided to try a new bread.

They say it’s gluten-free and wheat-free. To that, I’ll also add that it’s flavour-free and has a texture somewhere between cake and cardboard, with the emphasis on the latter, but I can’t abide waste, so soup it is! Smile

Saturday, 4 December 2010

‘Tis the season


A last look at the snow, which for just 2 days of this week, sent this little corner of Hampshire into utter chaos. To be fair, the area has never seen this much snow in one go before within living memory and neither had my cats – one of whom seriously hated it, the other enjoyed it immensely. Strange beings.

Overnight, last night, so much rain had fallen that it had washed all of that snow away, barring just some tiny traces that have also since been washed away by further rain during the day. It seemed to have melted, the temperatures have risen and there are liquid puddles, but I’m informed that the roads and pavements are still like sheet ice, so going out is still impossible.

Apparently, not even the main roads in this area have been gritted, which is exactly the same as didn’t happen last time we had snow too. Over the border into Dorset, at least the main roads have been cleared, so it’s reported.

Since I stagger, slip and slide even in perfect weather and always hurt myself when I fall, I think staying in is a sensible and very necessary precaution.

To be honest, over the last several days I’ve felt so low and sluggish that it has taken a supreme effort just to walk to the loo or the kitchen and back and just those activities – already simplified to the least possible exertion – have been too much for me, making it necessary for me to lie down to “get over” the exertion in between trips. Today, just walking to the kitchen and back made me shake from head to foot from the over-exertion: it’s almost impossible to explain how weak and generally unwell one feels as a result.

So, OK, I wouldn’t have been able to go out anyway, but somehow, when the weather adds yet another level of difficulty and makes being housebound a complete fait accompli, it’s the final straw and becomes harder to bear.

On Thursday, all the trains in this area were suspended and we had no mail deliveries. Our buses didn’t run on either Thursday or Friday.

Nothing new, of course, but this whole “Britain surprised by a sprinkling of annual white stuff, yet again”, is becoming very seriously irritating.

On Thursday I couldn’t have gone to a pre-arranged meeting, walking a mile each way in snow, but then as I couldn’t get an answer on the phone, I’m guessing nobody else could either. On Friday, my course was cancelled, but again, I wouldn’t have been able to get there, walking, in any case.

And today, I decided to give the local Christmas Extravaganza a miss, not just because of the ice, but also because I reckon the title is a piece of seriously extreme marketing exaggeration – considering the size of this no-horse town and the general level of excitement one might expect around here. Frankly, I couldn’t be arsed, which is about how I feel about the season generally.


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