Health and well being

Recently I’ve not been feeling very good. My hernia popped a few weeks ago, not because of allotment digging but whilst sitting in work. And it’s been very uncomfortable. I managed to push it back but since then everything I eat sits very heavily high in my chest and makes me feel ill. Also working shifts has played an issue as eating later in the evening is really impacting too.

So I made a decision to try something different, I’ve tried it for a week now and it’s really made a difference but also some unexpected results too.

I’ve been having a yogurt/milk fruit smoothie for breakfast, with some porridge oats and a similar smoothie in the evening, when on a late shift (approx 3 times last week) and I have felt much better. I have used different types of fruit and change the combinations to vary the flavours, colours and textures to get the most vitamins, minerals and fibre possible. I have included nuts in some and oats in others. Also I’m having regular meals on the days I am home early enough to sit and eat with the family.

I’ve never been a regular breakfast eater, but I’m not finding it a struggle to have this as I can make it as thick or thin as I wish so can drink easily or take to work and slurp slowly during the morning. Also by pulsing rather than juicing I can leave ‘bits’ so have to chew a little making it last longer and more satisfying. Before starting this I would often not have anything to eat of a morning and be really hungry and grumpy by 11 o’clock and looking forward to finishing at lunchtime to get home and eat something, usually bread based and then suffer for it. However since having these I’m not feeling hungry, probably thanks to the slow release oats, and I’m not permanently thirsty.

I used to find myself making many cups of tea or coffee a day, and evening but when I’ve had the smoothies I’m not so thirsty, and this week has been exceptionally hot.

The biggest bonus is how I feel, less bloated even after eating a ‘proper’ meal, my skin looks and feels better too and I’ve lost 4 pounds this week but feels like much more as the bloating has gone, and my clothes feel looser so clearly it is having an effect. So I’m going to continue with this for the time being.

I’ve stocked up ready for the coming week, I have bananas, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, apricots, kiwis, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb and apples also walnuts and almonds. I’m mostly using fruit for these as I have plenty of veggies when eating my family meals. I’m hoping in the future to be using more home-grown fruit as they become available on the allotment. I have added ginger to some and honey in others, sometime just the fruit and no oats. They all have been different and I’m finding flavour combos that I like better than others but still lots to play with. I am using a natural yogurt and/or skimmed milk.

I’m going on holiday in a few weeks so any extra pounds I can lose is a bonus, especially as I’ve just bought my first ever bikini !


Finally a harvest !

I’ve been very neglectful of the allotment over the last couple of weeks due to family issues taking priority. Apart from a quick couple of visits to make sure the greenhouse is watered everything else has been mostly left alone.

Thanks to a combination of warm/hot days and rainy days the weeds have gone bonkers, so this weekend was operation weeding, feeding and getting the early potatoes out of the ground.

I started by tidying the greenhouse and pulling out suckers, chopping off lower leaves and feeding the tomatoes and aubergines (eggplants, for our American friends) and I have my first aubergine growing ! The greenhouse is looking like a jungle, again.

Every year I say I’m going to plant a few less but they still take over and fill the space.

Next job was a quick tidy of the asparagus, raspberries, beans and pumpkin beds, and it looks like we have our first pumpkins starting to set. We only grow these to carve for halloween, and these plants came from last years pumpkin seeds.

Then it was time to finally (about 2 weeks later than it should have been) to get the Charlotte potatoes out of the ground. The foliage died off a while ago so I was hoping that the potatoes would be ok as we’ve had lots of very heavy rain this year. I spent about an hour just weeding before the digging began, and I’ll be honest the first two plants gave about 4 small potatoes so I wasn’t very optimistic. However then they got bigger and bigger. They are more like baking potatoes than new potato sized but still very usable, one of the last to be dug up was the biggest and a fairly bizarre shape, which Oscar thought was hilarious. I forgot to take the trug, and had been using my bucket for the weeds so the potatoes went into a washing up bowl and filled it. A decent crop that will make plenty of meals for us.

I pulled a couple of larger spring onions and another courgette. The peas have finished now, so I’ve left a few on the plant to dry for planting next year. I have sown more carrots (fingers crossed these grow) and some pak choi in the greenhouse to keep the pigeons off them. I’ve also got a few things growing at home from seeds we bought at Chatsworth flower show, luffa and cucamelons. Both are almost at a size to go into the greenhouse and hopefully it’s not too late to get some crops from them.

Now I’m exhausted, but things are growing and we’re eating our own crops regularly, I’ve started a list of plants and varieties to grow next year. Things I’ve enjoyed, or not and I’ll be looking at trying to get some seeds ready for the next growing season.

A busy week

Things have been very busy this week, we’ve had family issues to deal with, car problems, work and inconsistent weather so the allotment has been very neglected. Apart from a good soaking in the greenhouse on Monday I’ve not been near until today. I felt very guilty, especially when I saw the weeds, but they’ll have to wait until another day.

All I did was give everything a good water and feed the things that needed it and harvest a few bits for Sunday lunch.

However the things that made me smile with joy are the flowers, mostly bulbs and plants that I put in last year, again they’ve been a little neglected but they are all the better for it.

The wine was a gift from my plot neighbour for looking after his plot a few weeks ago whilst he was on holiday.

I hope my beautiful flowers have made you smile too.

A sad time for the family

The last few months haven’t been very kind to our family.  In October last year my uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it’s one of the most aggressive cancers and very difficult to treat if found in the late stages. The signs make it difficult to diagnose early too, abdomen or back pain, sudden onset diabetes, sudden weight loss and appetite loss, nausea and vomiting, itchy skin and dark urine. You may have some, all or only one of these symptoms, generally it is found when being treated or investigated for other problems. Unfortunately my uncle was stage 4 and due to how aggressive this cancer is, even with 12 weeks of chemotherapy it spread to multiple organs and he lost his brave battle in February.

Shortly after this my other uncle had a fluke accident, he fell from the emergency exit of a coach, around 15 ft high onto a concrete floor and broke 17 bones and punctured both lungs. Thankfully he wasn’t alone and emergency services were there very quickly and after a couple of weeks in intensive care he was moved into a rehab ward. He was doing really well and was up and about quite quickly, thankfully he’s always been very active so this helped with his recovery. He had a slight relapse with a bout of pneumonia, but this was to be expected after his lungs had taken a bit of a beating. He is now home and still has a way to go but getting around well and even been back to work a few hours.

In April my auntie was taken into hospital, also with pneumonia, and after a few weeks backwards and forwards, with various problems she came home and seemed to be doing well. Then last weekend we got the worst phone call any family could ever have. She had taken bad overnight on the Friday and lost her battle on Saturday morning. Personally I think she was just too tired to carry on the fight. Over the years she has battled everything, breast cancer on both sides, both knees replaced, one twice, her shoulder needed replacing, she had a lot of lymph nodes removed and all the time she worked full-time, six days a week. She was self-employed so quite often she was back in work within days of being out of hospital, not the best way to recuperate and probably didn’t help. She was one of the funniest, craziest people (every family has one) and she always made a family get-together great fun. She will be missed very much, but we have lots of funny stories and know that she’s no longer in pain and actually passed very peacefully.

It has given us all a great shock but also made us all realise life has to be lived to the full. Both her and my uncle gave everything to life, and both lived it to the full.

Please if you have any signs or symptoms as described above then go and see your doctor, better to be checked than leave things too late.