And then it was Friday!

Another week has flown by! I can’t believe it’s Friday already! So much has happened in just a few days!

Technically for us it was only a 4 day week as we took Monday off. If you read my previous blog you will know we spent the weekend in Gloucester. As we hadn’t had a break for 6 months, I really needed to charge my batteries!

So on Monday, we decided to extend our weekend and head to Stonehenge for the day!

I can’t believe I’ve never been before. It’s only a couple of hours drive away. It’s also free if you belong to English Heritage, which we do, so there has really been no excuse.

The weather was on our side! It was a beautiful spring day. Don’t get me wrong, it was blooming cold and windy, but the sun was out.

When you drive to Stonehenge you may be surprised to see it from the road. Well I was! It was just like the first time I saw the pyramids in Cairo.

I had visions of them being in a remote area. Next to a busy road was not what I expected!

Although it is free to enter for us, you still have to book a slot. This is such a good idea as it limits the crowds.

Once you collect your tickets, you can go into their visitor centre which tells you all about the history of Stonehenge. English Heritage are really good at giving you information in the form of audio equipment. Sadly, in the excitement we forgot to get ours! It didn’t matter though, there was still a lot of information about.

Next you get to walk around a replica village. I was a bit disappointed here as only one little house was open for you to view! This meant everyone was focused on the one building rather than spreading it around.

Next you board a shuttle bus that takes you to the stones. They run every few minutes, so it’s all relaxed! You can walk it if you like, but as I said, it was a tad chilly!

Nowadays you can’t get very close to the stones. I can’t believe people used to try and damage them!

There is a good footpath around so you get a great 360 degree view of the stones. With the sun out and perfect blue skies, our cameras were busy!

If you go, look out for what is left of the old road next to the stones! Being so close, I can see why they moved it!

Here is an account of our day.

It was such a lovely day we decided to call into Bourton-on-the-Water for a very late lunch.

One of the benefits of going to tourist places this time of the year is that you miss the crowds.

We only had 1 extra day off, but I felt like I’d really had a good relaxing break!

Tuesday was back to work. Boo hoo! We live in hope to one day win the lottery so we can both travel more! It probably won’t happen, but you have to have a dream!

Have a great weekend!

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Dr Foster Went To Gloucester

That line had been going around in my head all weekend! My hubby and I were in Gloucester for one of our date weekends. It was driving me mad, so I decided to look it up on Google! And there it was! A nursery rhyme from my childhood:

Doctor Foster went to Gloucester,
In a shower of rain,
He stepped in a puddle,
Right up to his middle,
And never went there again.

Thankfully for us, the weather was dry. It was quite cold, but the sun was out. In fact, I would go as far to say, a perfect spring weekend.

It got me thinking though, how the nursery rhyme came about. I have a fascination with these things, as well as phrases and words. I decided to research the nursery rhyme a bit more!

There are many stories about how it came about, but my favourite is about King Edward I. He apparently was travelling to Gloucester on his horse, when he fell off into a puddle, and refused to go back there again!

I have to say to most, Gloucester wouldn’t be many peoples first choice of a destination for a date weekend. It certainly wasn’t mine, but when my hubby suggested it, I thought, why not!

I couldn’t remember ever going to Gloucester in the past, so it would be a new experience. Also, the whole purpose of a date weekend is to spend time with hubby relaxing, seeing new things.

We had heard that the Quays and Cathedral were both worth a visit, we love photography and exploring, so we set a date in the diary.

I went to my trusty website – Booking.Com, to see what hotels were available. Initially, we wanted to stay near the Quays, so we could go out in the evening for a nice meal and drinks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything that was either still available, in our budget or nice.

I did see a beautiful old hotel called the New Inn which was in the centre, unfortunately, it didn’t have parking on site. Check out my Youtube video of our trip to see this hotel. It really is stunning. Another hotel kept popping up though! Hatton Court Hotel. It was a beautiful old manor house, about 10 minutes drive from Gloucester, with panoramic views of Malvern Hills and Gloucester. It looked perfect.

The rooms all looked lovely, but as this was our first break in 6 months, I decided to upgrade to the Junior suite to get a spa bath! My Youtube video doesn’t do the place justice!

With the dogs being looked after, on Saturday morning, we drove the 50 miles to Gloucester. We decided to head first to the Quays. Old warehouses were now converted to places to eat, drink and shop. Many of the top names had outlet stores there. Hubby and I are not shoppers so only did a very quick walk through the shopping area, but if shopping is your thing, I think you would really enjoy it.

The warehouses had been restored beautifully. Photography is our thing, and we were able to get some lovely pictures of not only the warehouses, but the docks too. It certainly was worth the visit. Some warehouses are still in need of a bit of love, but you can still see their beautiful and feel the history behind them.

It is so nice to think that this area has been preserved in such a way that its history can still live on with modern life.

If you have watched the recent Alice in Wonderland, Through The Looking Glass, with Johnny Depp, you may even recognise it!

We next headed to the Cathedral. As we walked up to it, it took my breath away. It was absolutely beautiful. We expected to have to pay to go inside, but was pleasantly surprised that the only charge was £3 to take photos.

The man in the shop selling the photo tickets was so lovely. Very warm and welcoming.

The Cathedral inside was magnificent. There was so much to see. There were rooms everywhere, plus a viewing balcony over the whole of the cathedral.

The Cathedral is the resting place of King Edward II but the king that never was! The son of William the Conqueror!

When you look at my Youtube video of the day, you may even recognise some of it from Harry Potter! I have to say, as I walked down the corridors, I was waiting for Harry to pop out of his invisible cape!

Mary Queen of Scotts, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who were also filmed there!

The stained glass windows are amazing. It is worth taking time to look at them in detail. They all tell some amazing stories. Some of my favourites are captured on my YouTube video for you.

The city itself is a city of 2 halves. There are a lot of modern/60’s buildings around, but every once in a while you will find a little gem! There are still some beautiful old pubs and buildings worth a visit.

I am glad now we went. It was certainly a memorable visit. If you are ever visiting the Cotswolds or Cheltenham, I would certainly say stop off there for a day visit.

The hotel for the evening – Hatton Court was beautiful. The views were to die for. Our room looked right out across the Malvern Hills. As I said above, I had upgraded us to the Junior Suite. At first I was a little disappointed as I was expecting a sofa and coffee table in the room. That was purely because of my own expectation, but when I got over that, the room was lovely.

If I had one criticism (except the sofa!!), it was that the bed needed to move to the opposite side of the room, so you could lie in bed looking out at the views across the Malvern Hills. That said, you still had nice views over a field.

The bed was sooooooooo comfortable and big. I don’t think I have ever slept in such a comfortable bed!

The Spa bath was definitely worth the upgrade. After a day of walking around, to relax with a glass of bubbly in the bath was divine!

We booked dinner in the restaurant. I have to say, that was outstanding too ! Service was second to none as was the food.

In the morning we went down to breakfast. There was a lovely array of cereals, pastries, fresh fruit and juices, plus a comprehensive hot menu to order.

The waitress was busy, so we told her not to worry when she apologised for a short wait in taking our order! Hubby and I were chilled after a fabulous day and evening, so were not in a rush.

After 45 minutes though we were a bit concerned. I asked the manager! Our slip had fallen off in the kitchen and been missed. They were so apologetic. I think we had 3 separate apologies in total. I don’t mind if things go wrong when you get this kind of service.

This hotel is certainly on my top 10 of UK hotels to visit. If you want to try it yourself, visit http://www.booking.com/s/42/mariaw59 to get £15 off your next booking.

So our date weekend to Gloucester was a huge success. Sometimes, the less obvious of places have the biggest surprises!

Check out my video to see what we did and saw. https://youtu.be/v7UUH6Stu58






Letter to my scales!

It is with deep regret that I find myself writing this letter!

We have been together for many years now! You have always been a trusted friend. We have seen some highs and lows. You have always been honest with me. You have never hidden the truth from me, regardless of how bad it has been!

You have ensured my clothes on a Wednesday don’t exceed 0.3kg! You have even made sure I have never exceeded my baggage allowance when I went on holiday!

We have fond memories of my puppies when we checked how much they were growing! It was lovely to see them grow week on week.

You have been such a huge part of my life.

It saddens me now that you have suddenly changed towards me! I don’t understand why! There seems to be no explanation!

I’m doing everything I can for you. I’m eating well, I’m going to the gym. I’ve even done dry January ! What more do you want from me!

I really don’t want us to part company but this attitude towards me has to change!

I hope this letter will clear the air between us.

I look forward to seeing the changes in you when I see you again soon!

Your ever hopeful friend

Xx

When the scales are not kind to you!

So, from 1 January I have been trying to shift a stone in weight, which I had put on last year.

I decided, as well as getting back fully into my healthy eating, I would also do dry January. Anyone who knows me, will know that I love my wine. Especially Slim Wine, and in particular their sparkling wine!

So when I suggested I would do dry January, everyone laughed, and said there was no way I would do it! Now if you know me, you never say things like that to me, because if you do, I will make sure I prove you wrong!

27 days into January, I am still going strong. Even an opened bottle of fizz in my fridge has not bothered me!

I honestly thought that not drinking alcohol would really help me lose that stone quickly! The plan was that I could lose 3.5lbs per week for the 4 weeks of January.

I started again writing what I was eating each day in my journal. I ensured I planned every meal. I have completely stayed on plan every day. I am allowed 15 syns a day with Slimming World, but gave myself a 12 syn allowance each day. Most days I have had less that 3 syns a day!

Everything was in place for a fantastic month.

The first week I lost 3.5lbs Woo hoo. I then went down with the flu. This meant, that I went from planning to go to the gym 4 times a week and doing 17,000 steps a day, to doing only about 1500 steps!

On top of that, my asthma flared up! After a visit to the doctors, I was given steroids! That week I dreaded the scales, but was over the moon to see another 3.5lbs off! Happy days.

After 2 weeks off, I eventually returned to work. I had continued to eat so well, I was sure that now I had increased my walking, I would achieve the 3.5lb again if not more! I was so disappointed when the scales said only 1.5lbs!

I could easily have fallen off the wagon, but I didn’t. I have a goal in my head, and I want it more than anything.

When I started this journey, I measured myself. Today, I revisited those measurements. I may not have seen the scales moving in my favour, but the inches had. I was so pleased to see 1.75 inches off my bum and an inch off my waist.

Sometimes, you also need to look at the non scale victories to see how well you are doing.

I have 6 more days on dry January. I have 3 opportunities to go to the gym before month end!

I may not be at the target I want on 1 February, but I will certainly be closer to it than I was on 1 January.

So what ever you have to lose, whilst it is good to set yourself a goal, don’t give up if you don’t reach it when you planned to!

Our bodies are funny things! Sometimes, they take a bit longer to catch up with us.

I’m going to hit that target, I know I will. Why? Because I want it!

If you believe in yourself, anything is possible!

Watch my personal account of this week! https://youtu.be/UYYyPGo37kM

Wear your poppy with pride!

This Sunday marks 100 years since the end of the first world war.  It is hard for me to really imagine what it was like to live all those years ago, but one thing is for sure, every day, I am grateful for the sacrifice that was made back then.

The war began on 28 July 1914.

I remember when the Falklands War started on 2 April 1982. Argentina invaded the Falkland islands over who should own it.  It only lasted 74 days.  I was 13 at the time.  I had only really known about war from our history lessons and what I had read.  I remember feeling a bit scared of what it would mean.  Would my dad have to go off and fight?  Would our house get destroyed?   Everything was going through my head.  Thankfully for us, this war didn’t really impact on us day by day.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for WW1.  Back on that awful day in 1914, the lives of millions of people changed overnight and forever.

The war started because Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnan wife Sophie of Austria was assassinated.   Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the nephew of Emperor Franz Josef and heir to the throne of Austria and Hungary. The assassination was planned by a Serbian terrorist group, called The Black Hand.  The man who shot Franz Ferdinand and his wife was a Bosnian revolutionary named Gavrilo Princip.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914, it triggered a chain of events that resulted in World War 1.  After the assassination, Austria-Hungary threatened war on Serbia. They set out some very high demands that Serbia must meet. Germany sided by Austria-Hungary, while Russia sided with the Serbians. At this point, Europe was at the brink of going to war.

One month after the assassination, on July 28 1914 ,Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia with the backing of Germany. Germany then declared war on Russia on August 1, and on France on August 3.

On August 4 1914, the German troops marched on France and the route they took went through Belgium. Since Britain had agreed to maintain the neutrality of Belgium, they immediately declared war on Germany.

British and Germany forces first fought at the Battle of Mons in Belgium. This was the first of many battles between Britain and Germany on the Western Front and is when World War 1 started for Britain.

There were 2 sides to the war.  The Triple Ententes (Allied Forces) which was us here in Britain, France, Ireland and Russia.  The other side was known as Central Powers which was Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Many of the countries involved in the first World War had problems with each other before the war, but when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed,  Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.  Germany declared war on Russia and France not long after.  This followed more and more countries joining in the fight.

The United States didn’t get involved at first, but after a British passenger ship was sunk by a German submarine, killing 128 Americans, pressure from American citizens caused the US government to get involved.   The President at that time, Woodrow Wilson, wanted to avoid a bloody war, but the Germans declared that they would sink any ship that came to Britain.  Woodrow, had no option, but to enter the war to help Europe restore peace

In total 32 countries became involved in the war, including China, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Japan, Montenegro, Liberia, Romania and Portugal.

Over 65 million soldiers went to war.  Over 8 million of them never returning.  Another 21 million were injured.  Those that did return, must have seen and heard some horrific things in their time.  They would never come home the same person as they left!

Conscription

Britain soon realised that they couldn’t continue fighting with just the current voluntary recruits.

You may remember from your history books, Lord Kitchener’s campaign – promoted by his famous “Your Country Needs You” poster.  It was quite successful.  Many men were proud of their country and wanted to fight for it.  Over one million men had enlisted by January 1915.  But this was not enough.  We had already had many casualties.  More men were needed.

The government decided it had no choice.  It had to increase the numbers of soldiers.  The only way to do this was through conscription – compulsory active service.  Parliament was divided but they knew that the French army were suffering, they had no choice.

In January 1916 the Military Service Act was passed. This forced conscription on all single men aged between 18 and 41, but exempted the anyone deemed medically unfit, clergymen, teachers and certain classes of industrial worker.

Men who refused to fight on moral grounds (Conscientious objectors), were also exempt, but were given civilian jobs or non-fighting roles at the front.

A second Act passed in May 1916 extended conscription to married men.

Conscription was not applied to Ireland because of the 1916 Easter Rising however many Irishmen volunteered to fight.

Some boys even lied about their age, to be able to fight for King and Country.  The youngest British soldier was in fact only 12.    Sidney Lewis was one of 250,000 underage soldiers.   Sadly for some, it wasn’t always to have the privilege to fight for King and Country.  For some it was to escape their lives.  How desperate must they have been to feel this was their only option.

You can imagine, this was not popular with some people.  In April 1916, there were demonstrations in Trafalgar Square.  Many men initially didn’t go when they were called up.  In the first year though 1.1 million had enlisted.

The age limit was increased in 1918 to 51.  Even though the war ended in 1918, conscription continued until  1920.  In total, conscription increased the army by 2.4 million.

Can you imagine your father or brother coming home one day, and getting their paper to go to war?  They would have heard what was going on.  They knew that they were possibly going to their death.  As a wife or mother, watching your husband and sons leave, never knowing if they would return.  I’m emotional just thinking about it now.

They could of course write to each other.  In fact over 12 million letters were sent during the war.  Many men were away for many years.  Missing out on seeing their children grow up.  The letters and photos they were sent must have been so precious to them.

Thankfully for Britain, 9 out of 10 soldiers returned.  Sadly, when you know how many died, the same can’t be said for other countries.

Why did the War end?

Britain had blocked all the ports in Germany with its Naval boats.  Germans were starving as supplies couldn’t come through, and their economy was collapsing.  Protestors started asking for the war to end.  Pressure was falling on them.  Something had to change.

The emperor at the time, Kaiser Wilhelm II decided to step down on 9 November 2018.  2 days later, the leaders of both sides met at Compiegne in France.  Here they signed the peace armistice.

Although we celebrate the end of the war on 11 November at 11 am, when it was signed and the fighting stopped, the war didn’t officially end until 28 June 2019.  This was exactly 5 years after Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.

It took 6 months to negotiate the peace treaty before the Treaty of Versailles was finalised.  In this, Germany had to accept full responsibility for starting the war.  They had to surrender their territories and colonies as well as reduce the size of its armies.

Why do we wear a poppy?

We wear a poppy to remember those who have given their lives in battle.  It is said that the poppy was the first flower that grew on the battlefields after World War I ended. It is said that the red of the poppy, is from the blood that filled battlefields.

In the spring of 1915,  after losing his friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was so inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battlefields, he decided to write a poem – ‘In Flanders Fields’. This poem is now famous. Read it and see what you think.  It really captures the feeling, don’t you think?

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 

From then on, the poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance.

How should you wear it?  It varies, whoever you speak to!  Some say men should wear it on the left, and women on the right, like you would a badge or brooch. The Queen wears hers on the left, so maybe not! There are also many people who say that the leaf should point to 11 o’clock.   Whatever the correct way of wearing it is, the important thing is that we do wear it and know why!

You may not know those men who went off and fought for us, but if you dig around in your family history enough, you will find someone in your family that was effected.  Even if you don’t, those brave men fought so you could have the life you have today.

There have been many more wars since this one.  Many more have died because of War,  The poppy is to remember them all.

A couple of years ago I bought my husband a very special poppy from the British Legion.  It was made out of a bullet shell that had been found in the fields in France from the Somme.  With it came a certificate to commemorate a soldier who died.  We don’t know him.  It doesn’t matter.  He still died for us.

My husband wears it every year with pride.

We shall remember

From July to November 2004,  the Tower of London with covered in 888,246 ceramic poppies.  They were created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper.  They were to remember the first full day of  Britain’s involvement in WW1.  Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red was an emotional tribute to all that fought.  My hubby and I both bought one each so we can always look at them and remember.

As in many towns and cities, Warwick too have a display in the main church of St Mary’s.  All the poppies are hand knitted or crochet.  Its amazing how many hours have gone into this.  Some have been sent from countries across the world.  My hubby, stepdaughter and I went for a visit to see it recently.  A church seems the perfect place for it.   If you get a chance, please go and visit this or any other display.

At 11 am on Sunday their will be a 2 minute silence to remember all the fallen soldiers.  What ever you are doing at that time, stop!  Take 2 minutes out of your life to remember!  I always shed a tear.  Writing this blog has raised the same emotion!

Don’t let those brave men and women have died in vain.  Keep them alive in our hearts.  All of them!

Oh what a night!

Aaahhhh! Sometimes I get so frustrated ! Take the other night. What should have been a 10 minutes drive, turned into 2 hours in my car and not actually going anywhere!

So what happened ! Traffic happened !

I planned to go and visit my parents after working at home.  Between my house and theirs, is an island which leads you to a motorway, a bypass, and two other roads leading to Warwick and Stratford Upon Avon! There had been an accident northbound on the motorway at our junction, which brought the motorway to a standstill!

It’s amazing how much traffic a motorway takes. You only realise this when all those cars then try to find other routes to get to their destination!

Initially, I started off down my usual road.  As I said above, it should only take about 10 minutes, maybe 15 when its busy.  It involves 2 main roads, but they are usually moving!

I knew I was in trouble, when only minutes into my journey, I came to a standstill!  After about 15 minutes of not moving more than a few inches, I decided it might be a fabulous idea, to do a U-turn back into the village, and go up the back road!  Perfect!  Or so I thought!

What I hadn’t thought about, is that the thousand of cars that wanted to go northbound, had also left the motorway earlier on, and had used the same back roads!

An hour later, I was no further getting to my parents that I was when I left home!

Now, I am usually quite resilient.  Its the evening, so apart from cooking dinner, I’m not under a strict clock to get to my parents.  I say that, but then when you factor other drivers, that goes out of the window.

To help me through the boredom of sitting in a traffic, I decided to speak to my brother using my hands free phone.  We are not moving at this time.  We haven’t moved for a while.  Then for some unknown reason, I hear a car horn behind me!  Now, I don’t know if it was the direct car behind me, or the one behind him, but come on!  The car in front of me is only inches away from me.  The car in front of him the same, and so on.  What did they want us to do?   If that didn’t wind me up enough, 5 minutes later, they started doing it again!  I mean, what planet were they on?  The only way I or any other car could move, was to open the boot of the car in front and get in!

It’s time like this, I wish I was brave enough to get out of my car, and ask them, politely of course, what they feel hitting the horn was achieving!  The spot I am in, has views of the 3 roads ahead.  All of them are at a stand still too!  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out, that no-one is not moving just for fun!

At this point, by brother persuades me to turn around and head back home, which is actually a fabulous idea!

There is an island in front of me so I edge myself towards it.  I mean, I am now going to be going against the traffic.  In theory, I should be able to get around the island and do a U-turn.  Oh, that would be too easy!  It would actually mean someone would have to use their common sense.  Something, that once you get behind the wheel of your car, in a traffic jam, goes!

I’m at the Island.  Its taken me some time to get here, don’t get me wrong, but I am here!  Traffic is backed up, because the 3 roads off it are at a standstill.  The only exit that is free, is the one I want to go back up the road!

So I am there, i’m excited that I could soon be on a road which is moving!  That was short lived.  The car to my right on the Island is in the lane that wants to go to the exit that isn’t moving,  sees me and moves forward and blocks my entry onto the island!

Seriously, why would you do that!  I’m now stuck again! Great!

After some time, the traffic has moved enough for me to get through.  Yey! No!  The car to my left decides she is going to cut across me to get onto the motorway!  Thankfully, I’m going so slow, I can stop to prevent us from colliding!   I tell myself, it’s ok, she obviously wants to get out of the traffic too and is doing a U-turn, so taking this opportunity to do this!  I’m annoyed, but I get it!

That would be too simple wouldn’t it!

What actually happened is, she thought it would be a good way to get through the traffic onto the road she wanted, rather than sit in the correct lane.  She now realises, she can’t.  What she has now done, is stop anyone else getting around the island to escape this madness, including me!

So once again, I am stuck there until the traffic has moved enough to give me room to get by!  I was tempted to drive on the grass around the Island, but I thought better of it!

I decide to relax and stay calm!

Finally I am free!  I call my hubby and leave a message to say i’m coming back home.  I should home soon as I am now going against the traffic!

Happily, i’m singing along to the radio.  Then I see the car lights in front of me!  They are not moving!  Aaaah.  It seems every other car has decided to turn around!

Thankfully, there is no-one on the horn, or cutting me up!  I’m just sat there!

After 2 hours, I finally see my village.

I am now very stressed and frustrated.  Not because I have been in traffic.  I had my radio, had made some calls, and it had given me some time to have some thinking time.  Usually these are positives.  No, the reason I am stressed, is because I still can’t believe the behaviour of drivers!

I fully appreciate, that everyone has probably had a long day at work, and just want to get home.  The reality is, there has been an accident.  Someone at best has been hurt, at worst died!  They are healthy and safe in their cars! Getting road rage, or doing stupid things to get to your destination sooner that isn’t practical, isn’t going to help.

The next time  you are stuck in a jam, think about what you are doing, and the impact of others around you!  Everyone is in the same boat as you.  Use the time to reflect on your day, plan something, make calls to those people you have been promising to speak to (only if you can do so hands free though).

If you have children at home waiting for you to read them a story,  can you do it hands free over the phone.  I know you won’t have a book with you, just make it up!  Use the situation you are in to inspire you!

There is nothing you or anyone else can do to change the situation you are in.  Turn it into a positive.   You never know, you may feel better about the situation too!

Menopause

Today at a work away day, myself and other fellow managers attended a session on the subject of the Menopause!

Of all the subjects you would expect to be on the agenda, that certainly wasn’t one of them! It was quite funny seeing some of the men around the rooms expression, when they first saw it!

Being a women who was pre-menopausal from 45, and is now post menopausal, I was quite interested!

What was even more interesting, was the reaction of other ladies in the room! There were those of us in the room who absolutely could tell a few stories, in particular about the hot flushes, and those too young, but who were a little unsure or even nervous about it!

My husband is a manager for the same company, so for me it was a great opportunity to get him to fully understand why I need that fan on at night!

So who will suffer from the menopause?

The simple answer is any women!  Women from the age of 45-55 will start to experience the menopause.  The average age is about 51, but 1 in 100 women will get it before they reach 40.

The menopause is caused by a reduction of oestrogen in the body, and is a natural form of ageing!  Things such as cancer, radiation or chemotherapy, and hysterectomies can bring the symptoms on early.

You may have heard of women being ‘on the change’ in times gone by?  I suppose we are, as our bodies are changing!

Pre-menopausal

This is the first stage!  Its also known as perimenopausal, and is when the body starts producing less eostrogen.

Post Menopausal

You are classed as post menopausal, if you haven’t had a period for 12 months. This includes spotting, however light that may be!

So what are the symptoms?

Every women’s symptoms will vary, but below is a list of what you could expect:

  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of memory
  • Emotional
  • Anxiety
  • Heavy periods
  • Bloating
  • Hot flushes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Cystitis
  • Low Mood

Symptoms can start months or even years before periods stop, and can last for 4-8 years.  Although it can last many years longer!  I have friends who have had hot flushes for well over 10 years!

Every women will have different degrees of symptoms.  Some of them so extreme, it will impact on their day to day life.

What can you do to help relieve the symptoms?

This will vary, depending on the severity and type of symptom!

For me, it has been the night sweats and hot flushes.   I need to sleep with the fan on! I’ve even been known to stand outside naked in the snow to cool off! Don’t worry I had no neighbours then!

I also wear layers, so I can strip off more easily!

Memory loss has also been a bit of a problem, but that has been in short spurts!  At one time, I thought I was having the start of dementia!  I now make sure I put everything in my diary.  I make lists and keep notes of important things.  Now I have learned to recognise what it is, I’m more relaxed.

I think its important to understand that every women will go through, in some shape or form the same as you, so don’t be afraid to laugh it off, or talk about it!

A good diet and exercise will also help you, but if you are struggling, don’t be afraid to discuss the symptoms with your doctor.  They may be able to prescribe HRT or offer other support.  Unfortunately, as I had breast cancer when I was 42, I am not able to have HRT, as it is believed to increase my chances of getting it again.  Don’t let that put you off talking to your doctor.  Everyone’s symptoms are different.  They will be able to give you lots of advice and tips.

I have even see recipes to help with symptoms.  I’ve never tried them myself, but I do know someone who has and felt that they worked for her.

So why did we have a session on it today at work?

It’s probably not what you would expect on an agenda, but I have to say, I was so pleased it was.  I don’t think I heard anyone (and there were over 100 managers there today) walk out of the session, with anything but praise for it.

It’s important in the work place for managers to recognise and support staff who may be going through the menopause!  If they are not confident to raise it with them, at least know who else could.

You could be a really solid member of staff, but if you are struggling to sleep due to night sweats, your concentration dips, or you are having any of the other symptoms, it could impact on your performance.  By dealing with it openly, reasonable adjustments can be made.

I hadn’t thought about it until today, but most women hit the menopause at the same time as they are at the peak of their careers.  When you have worked so hard to achieve success, it would be a shame to think, it would be impacted by something brought on by mother nature.

So if you know a women who is being different to normal, think about why that might be?  Talk to them and offer them support!  They will really thank you for it!