Friday, 30 May 2014


My friend Rich and I decided that we would go for a curry.

Did I ever mentioned that that during the month of May I signed up to 'Meat Free May' this is an initiative of 'Friends of the Earth' (FoE)  where you are encouraged to give up eating Meat and Fish and embrace a Vegetarian Diet for the Month.  There are environmental, moral, economic and health arguments for participating.  I decided to sign up out of curiosity and interest.  I am not a vegetarian, and I am not militant in my views about vegetarian issues, but I generally chose not to eat meat; and I am hugely supportive of any campaign which aims to reduce and eliminate animal suffering.  (How anyone can eat 'Foie gras' is entirely beyond me.)

It is interesting that there has been a lot in the papers recently about the use of 'Halal' meat and the treatment of the animals, and the labeling of Halal meat, which has started a huge debate about labeling where meat comes from.  I obviously have my own personal views on the subject, but this BLOG is not intended to make moral judgments, or to preach.

Anyway, Rich and I decided we would go for a curry.  We thought we deserved it.  Rich and I have known in each since high-School, so we were about 11 when we met.  Rich and I went to the Cinema a few weeks back (see CINEMA BLOG). I love Rich lots (and I know he'll be somewhat uncomfortable and embarrassed at that obvious and apparent public display of affection).  He wrote me poetry when we were in high-School.  He is a great friend.

Rich is a vegetarian, and for him this is a personal choice which doesn't reflect in his expectations of others.  He has his own personal views on the subject, but doesn't preach to others.  We went for a pint, then we went for a curry.  We ventured to the Jamal.  The local Balti House, where you take your own beer. The Jamal is a fantastic little Balti House Restaurant (in Braunstone Gate for those of you who know Leicester) it has recently been newly refurbished and looks fantastic, all very modern and clean and light.  However, importantly the food is as good as ever.  We started with Popodoms and Pickles, well you would wouldn't you?  Rude not to really.  We both had a Biryani for our main course, which is a rice-based dish, with extra mushrooms.  It was delicious, not too spicy, just with a very subtle kick.  DELICIOUS. 

So for me an evening of good friends, good food, and good beer.   How splendid.  What else could a girl wish for? Well, perhaps Ice-Cream? But that might be pushing my luck. I had a great time.   A really great time.

Friday, 23 May 2014


It is quite a few weeks since Valentine's Day, actually a couple of months now (see my VALENTINE BLOG).  But I'm still thinking about love and romance and dating.  Thinking about it; not actually doing it.  Obviously.  I've read a few posts and articles recently about 'MS and dating', and about people who are 're-entering the dating world having found out they have MS'.  Articles that have considered the fact that; 'dating is hard enough' without the pressure of 'disclosing a diagnosis'.  Articles that have asked the question, 'When do you tell a new flame about your MS?'  Oh My Goodness.  Thing is, I never really bothered entering the dating world in the first place, before I was diagnosed with MS, never mind the thought of 're-entering' it now I have been diagnosed.

The thing is, I've never, I've not, I have never felt that I needed to be part of a 'couple' to be a 'whole'.  I always sort of thought that somehow I was 'enough' just being me.  I have been told that I am 'more than enough', and I don't necessarily think that that was meant as a complement.  It is just that dating is never something that I felt that I had to do, or that I have done.  I've got friends, very good friends, both male and female very good friends and I never really thought too much about finding that 'special someone'.  Yes, if they'd have showed up that would have been lovely, splendid even, more than splendid, I do like the idea of finding someone to share the journey, the trials and tribulations, the adventures, the journey with; but I've never really actively looked for someone.  I just sort of optimistically hoped that they'd turn up when the time was right, that 'they'd find me.'

The whole dating, getting married, having kids thing, I just haven't.  I don't know what I have been doing, what I have been messing about at, but not dating, that's for sure.  I was 40 last year.  I should be married.  Or married and divorced.  Or married and divorced and married again.  I'm not.  I am and have pretty much always been single. Probably should have tried harder, made myself look more presentable, brushed my hair, wore some lippy or something.  But I didn't, and I'm not.

So, I know very little about dating, and I know even less about dating with MS.

What am I supposed to do?  Am I supposed to declare my MS?  Is this something that has the potential to scare prospective dates/boyfriends/husbands away?  I can assure you I already have masses of things that have the potential to scare prospective dates/boyfriends/husbands away!  I am not conventional and I am not easy, but this isn't because I have MS, this is because I am unconventional and not easy.

But I guess the fact that I live with a chronic debilitating illness is something that I really should consider discussing with potential people whom I may date. I experience fatigue, anxiety, spasticity, sensitivity and pain due to my MS.  This sometimes makes me grumpy.  I don't always want to go out, or I want to go, but am not always able to.  I guess these are things that I should try and explain.  I have really bad balance issues, and I'm clumsy sometimes (quite a lot of the time) and sometimes I slur my speech, so even though I am 100% sober you might think I'd had a drink or two.  So, if I went on a date and had a pint; or even half a pint would they think I was wellied, sloshed or inebriated? Would they think I was a cheap date?  (I am a cheap date due to my CEA Card - see CINEMA BLOG).  And that is before I even start to I explain my other obsessions and unconventionalities which have nothing to do with my MS, I don't know, things like my obsession with Sherlock HOLMES (see my previous SHERLOCK HOLMES BLOG). This is something that has been with me since I was c. 13.  My unconventional dress sense - stripy tights or animal print tights; and big boots, how do I explain those things?.  Well, I can't walk in shoes; especially with even the slightest hint of a heel, so I always wear boots - which are not terribly ladylike but are easily explained, they help my balance but why the stripy tights?

To be perfectly honest I already have enough to deal with, that I am trying to deal with, that I am trying to come to terms with, that the issue of what a potential date thinks of my MS really is not my foremost concern.  They'll probably be put off by lots of things before I even mention my MS, so I'm really not too worried.  I think it may have been Marilyn MONROE who commented: "If they can't handle me at my worst, they don't deserve me at my best" - yeah, I think I have to agree.

I am me.  That is it really.  I am me, and I have MS.  But if you love me, you'll love all those things about me, even the things that make me hard to love.  I'm sure I've got plenty of those; MS is only one of them.

Friday, 16 May 2014


I looked out my Great Grandma's Be-Ro Recipe Book the other week to make Pancakes.  (See my PANCAKE BLOG).

I love cooking.  I love spending time in the kitchen creating and making and baking, and then eating.  Or at least I did. I find that cooking is one of those activities that I used to derive an immense amount of pleasure from, but that as my MS has progressed, I find that cooking, baking and pottering in the kitchen is one of those activities that I just don't seem to be able to muster either the energy or enthusiasm for. This is indeed a sad confession.  And not only the preparation and making; but even the eating, as I really have virtually no appetite for anything much at all.  That my MS has robbed me of my appetite, my appetite for food and to a lesser extent my appetite for life, I think is one of the saddest admissions of them all.

Anyway, I sat and nostalgically flicked through the old Be-Ro Recipe Book. Not a Recipe Book of glossy photos of delicious creations, but a reminder of tried and trusted and loved recipe.  I used to derive a huge amount of pleasure simply from perusing recipe books and from planning events and occasions when I could try recipes out. Flicking through Be-Ro I was reminded of this simple joy.  And in that moment I was reminded of the simple pleasure that I derived from baking and making. My enthusiasm returned.  I was reminded of the simple but absolute joy of making something delicious.

For me, this joy is multiplied a thousand times over if I know that I am making something for someone else, and that they will be pleased, thrilled or happy that I have spent my time making something for them, making something they can eat.  And that they will know that whatever it is that I have made has been made with love.

I decided to make Lemon Curd.  It was a no-brainer.  An obvious choice.
Lemon Curd really is for me a hugely evocative treat.  A simple pleasure, but steeped in the memory of making it with my Great Granny.  And I was reminded of the quotation: "Cooking is like Love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."  I think anything that is cooked with Love always tastes that little bit better; it is like 'Love' is a magic, secret ingredient.  And for me, nothing is made with more Love than Lemon Curd, the Lemon Curd I made with my Great Granny, and so nothing is ever quite so delicious.
Lemon Curd really is very simple to make.  Only four ingredients are required:
  • 4 Lemons
  • 4 Eggs
  • 4 oz Butter
  • 1 lb Sugar
The method is pretty simple too.  Wash and dry the lemons, and grate the rind from each.  Then half the fruit and squeeze out all of the juice.  Add the juice, rind, sugar, butter and eggs into a bowl.  Place the bowl over a pan of water (kind of like a double sauce-pan or double-boiler).  Then just stir over a gentle heat with a wooden spoon until the sugar and butter are melted and it begins to thicken.

This is then spooned into Jars, or Tupper Ware containers to be posted out (to share the love) but it never usually lasts for long.

So, Lemon Curd on Hot Buttered Toast, with a Mug of Tea - in my 'Keep Calm and Love Benedict CUMBERBATCH' Mug.  What could be more glorious?

Friday, 9 May 2014


I worry.  I worry way too much.  And I know I'm not the only one.  I'm naturally good at it.  I can't stop it.  I need to stop it.

Most people do worry, and in some instances this can be positive or even productive i.e. if it prompts people to take precautions, such as buying insurance, wearing sun screen, wearing a condom, stopping smoking, eating healthier, drinking less or avoiding risky or dangerous behaviour altogether.  This sort of worry is useful, has a purpose, it's sensible, valid, and reasonable.  This isn't the type of worry that I am talking about.

No.  I'm talking about that anxiety-laden-stress-related worry.  I'm talking about that all-consuming, panic-inducing, terrifying kind of worry.  When you let the irrational thoughts take over. I am talking about when levels of worrying can reach toxic levels.  I am talking about when worry becomes extreme; when worrying reaches and becomes excessive.  And not only excessive, but irrational.  This is certainly not positive and not productive.  Excessive worry is the main component of what is known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry; sometimes to the point where the perceived doom and gloom seem to be apparent indicators of impending disaster.

Worry therefore refers to a negative set of emotions or fears, very much in the same way that people experience anxiety (see previous ANXIOUS BLOG). And, as with anxiety, worry can also be accompanied by physiological symptoms such as sweating, dizziness, insomnia, fatigue, restlessness, increased heartbeat or raised blood pressure.  These are unpleasant side effects to say the least.  And, it is difficult, almost impossible to function when the worrying reaches such excessive levels.  It is difficult, almost impossible to turn off these negative feelings and the physiological symptoms that accompany them.

People worry about all sorts of issues.  I worry about all sorts of issues.  Work. Health.  Relationships.  Money.  Family. Friends.  Some of these fears and worries are justified.  But, sometimes, quite a lot of the time, these fears and worries are largely unfounded.  And even when worries are justified, worry does nothing to control these fears. Worry does not find a solution. Worrying does not help.

It is now thought that worry may be genetic, with examples of worry being hereditary and running in families; therefore some people perhaps have a genetic predisposition to worry.  I know that I especially worry about things that are out of my control, and that I can do nothing about.  This really is a silly thing to do.  I know it is a silly thing to do. And yet, I still do it.  I worry excessively about things that are not within my control.

It has been found that caffeine may cause or worsen anxiety.  That GAD sufferers may be abnormally sensitive to caffeine, and that eliminating caffeine can largely eliminate GAD in some cases.  However, it should be noted that anxiety can temporarily increase during caffeine withdrawal!

So, worrying doesn't achieve anything, worrying doesn't take away tomorrow's troubles, it simply robs today of its joy. So the message would seem to be 'Don't Worry.  Be Happy', and 'Love More.  Worry Less'.

Friday, 2 May 2014


They say, "We don’t lose friends.  We find out who our real ones are."

I am incredibly lucky to have a number of kind, loving, energetic, strong, supportive, caring, courageous, amazing, absolutely AMAZING people in my life.  These people I am proud to call my friends.  I read a lovely article about friendship this week: '13 Socially Acceptable Ways You Act Only With Your Best Friends'.  It is frighteningly accurate:

I want to express my gratitude to those people.  To that AMAZING group of people I call my friends.  But somehow the words 'Thank You' really don't seem enough, are not hardly enough to convey all that I want to say; to let those people know how much I appreciate them.  How much I need them.  How much I love them.  I don't see all of those friends every day, not every week, not every month, not every year even, actually there are some people that I haven't yet met in person, but I can still class them as my friends, they support me.  I know that they are there; and that means the world.

Some of them have been patient and taught me things, have educated me. Some have shown me kindness.  Some have made me laugh.  Some have made me tea.  Some have shared chocolate. Some have shared adventures.  Some have bought me a beer.  On occasion too much beer.  Some have lent me money.  They have been there for me when I have needed someone to be there for me.  They have not always been able to sort things out for me, or even help, but they have ensured that I haven't faced things alone.  This is a true test of friendship.  More than I could ever ask for.  Something I am immensely grateful for.

The opening lines of the film 'Peter's Friends' begins (Stephen Fry VOICE-OVER):
"There are some friends you know you will have for the rest of your life.  You're welded together by love, trust, respect or loss.  Or in our case, simple embarrassment."

I am welded to quite a few people, yeah, especially by the embarrassment  bit.  And, yes, they are welded to me.

It is said that, "No man is ever poor who has friends."  I think that the line is used in the film 'A Wonderful Life' and it is true.  It is also true that "The happiest miser on earth is the one that saves up every friend that he has."  That quote is attributed to Robert E. SHERWOOD.

I am lucky in that I do have a wide circle of friends from various areas of my life. They make me feel valued and supported and loved.  They make me feel happy.  Some theories suggest that good friendships do actually enhance an individual's sense of happiness and well-being.  Indeed, a number of studies have found that strong social supports improve the prospects for good health and longevity.  Conversely, loneliness and a lack of social supports have been linked to negative emotions and ill-health.

I value my friends, I am grateful for my friends.  I am very fortunate that I have people in my life that care for me, who encourage me, who love me, who accept me 'just as I am' and for that, I truly am blessed.