Tower of London Remembers : Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

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To mark one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World war, an incredibly impressive and striking art installation called ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red‘ has been installed (and continues to be installed) at the Tower of London.

I understand that it was the imagination of ceramic artist Paul Cummins who proposed the idea and with the assistance of stage designer Tom Piper, the project is coming to fruition.

888,246 ceramic poppies, each poppy representing a British military fatality during the war, will progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat over this Summer.

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I’ve seen photographs and listened to commentary on the radio talking about the installation but truly until I arrived there on Wednesday evening I’d not realised the full extent of the impact.

The installation itself is stunning, rich red in colour, each poppy beautifully crafted and individual in it’s perfect form.  Yet together creating this image of blood pouring from the Tower into the Moat in such a striking and moving way.

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We arrived shortly before the evening’s Roll of Honour was to be read.  As we stood looking down into the Moat we listened to the Yeoman Warder reading out a list names.  Each name and rank was read with care and respect.  The Yeoman looking up at the silent group of onlookers and pausing after each name.  At the end of tonight’s long list of names of soldiers who had died too young and lost their lives fighting for our Great Britain, an officer moved up to the ‘mound’ and played the Last Post.  Each note resonated around the Moat and almost clung to the Tower before drifting off into the evening’s last light as the sun went down.  Still and solemn silence from the large group of onlookers with most of us occasionally dabbing an eye.  An incredibly moving experience and one I shall remember for a very long time.

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Since attending, I’ve now registered as a volunteer so that I can play a part in this installation but more importantly to honour the men and women who gave their lives in  World War I.

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Poppies can also be purchased here and I understand will be dispatched after Christmas 2014.  The sale proceeds are going to support 6 UK service charities.

If are in London before the installation is dismantled carefully on 11 November 2014, you MUST go to see it.

3 day Raw Detox with Nosh

I’ve just completed a 3 day Raw Detox programme with a company called Nosh.  Great name for a company!

Another pre-prepared juicing programme which includes 18 smoothies, six ‘colon cleanse‘ sachets, three ‘superfood booster‘ sachets and a phone call with a nutritionist.

Once again, I used a site called LivingSocial to get a discount.  Reduced to £69 from their usual £159.  (The offer is still available as I write this)

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 23.46.17This programme appealed because of the variety of ingredients in the smoothies together with the addition of spirulina, chia and acai.

However soon after I placed my order I realised why Nosh is reviewed with such complimentary comments (I googled it before placing my order).  It’s not JUST a juice/smoothie programme but truly offers a service.

On placing my order I received an automated acknowledgment.  This was closely followed by another email that urged me to book my time slot for a phone consultation with a nutritionist at the end of my 3 days.

Then a couple of days before my delivery was due I received the below email.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 15.05.58 What a wonderful way to prepare people for their detox.  Working with them to consider what lays ahead and coach them, utilising some simple email text, into the right frame of mind.

I then received this email the day before delivery.

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My smoothies were delivered early Sunday evening.  Again I’ve got to applaud their delivery slot as let’s face it a Sunday evening delivery is a great time for people to be in and also to prepare for the week ahead.

Nosh DetoxAs I unpacked the bottles I noticed something wonderful on the labels.  The ingredients of each bottle also contained ‘Love’ ‘Joy’ ‘Bliss’ and ‘Happiness’.  What a fun touch.

Nosh Detox1Also in the box was one sheet of paper with all the instructions I needed for the three days.

NoshInstructionsHonestly, how easy is that to follow?   I have to confess that I like a schedule to follow.  I like it to have times to follow too.  Otherwise I find that I’m spending too long hovering around the fridge or in the kitchen and that may lead to temptation.  Also reminding me to drink water and hot drinks.  It probably sounds daft to need to be reminded but it helps.

On each day I received an email encouraging me.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 15.06.58Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 15.07.08Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 15.07.25On my third day, I’d booked in for a chat with the nutritionist.  A very useful end to the programme which allowed me to ask questions about the programme, mention what I’d like to take forward and receive advice about why certain vegetables and fruits are good for juicing and also if there are any additions or supplements that might be good for me.

A final email the day after I completed the 3 days with suggestions of how to maintain the benefits from the detox and continue with this healthier approach.

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Finally the usual questions:

Was I hungry during the cleanse?  Very rarely.  The smoothies were well balanced in their thickies and thinnies which meant that I wasn’t physically hungry.  Also being reminded to drink lots of water helped when my head (not my stomach) was saying it was time to eat.  So much easier to ignore or quieter when I’ve been drinking water or hot water with lemon juice.

Did I get congested?  A little on the first day or so.  However day 3 was definitely an elimination day… but not so bad that you worried about leaving the bathroom!

Would I do it again?  Yes but I’d definitely prefer with a discount or offer.  With the LivingSocial offer each smoothies was £3.83.  At full price the smoothies would be £8.83.  However you also get included the superfood booster supplements and cleanse sachets  and a telephone consultation with the nutritionist.

Do the smoothies last in the fridge?  Yes.

Would I recommend it?  Yes and even, if you can afford it, at the higher price.  It’s not cheap but it’s certainly a full service that you’re getting.

Overall, I’ve loved the Nosh Raw Detox 3-day smoothies.  I certainly feel lighter and it’s also evidently worked according to my scales too.  I enjoyed each of the smoothies, all tasted delicious.  The properties in the cleanse sachets and superfood booster supplements clearly work too.  Most of all the ‘package’ is a wonderful short burst to feeling energised, lighter, cleaner and healthier.

Love my Skype chats…

with my nieces.  They’re always such fun lengthy chats with oodles of giggling and laughter.

Last night’s chat even included a lesson on the trapeze!

SkypeChatNiecesJust wish they lived closer so I could have my hair done with beads and threads and give them more hugs too!

Super Eleven Shake – Super Green Cleanse

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Early morning on Tuesday I took delivery of this parcel.  I’m trying out the Super Green Cleanse by Super Eleven Shake Ltd

First impressions.  Panic at the small size of the parcel!  Eek is that ALL I’m having for 3 days?

15 well packaged bottles with uber amounts of sellotape around the lid of each are in their own little compartments.  There’s a small amount of bubble wrap around the bottles.  Fortunately as this box is delivered by courier I suspect it hasn’t been out of their fridges for long and each bottle is just below room temperature.

Quickly decanted into the fridge (as per instructions):

IMG_6397There’s a leaflet in the box explaining what is in each bottle, when to drink and what to do for maximum results during the 3-day cleanse.

IMG_6431I’m quite sure ‘newbies’ to juices and cleansing would be horrified by the bland greenness of the juices and the ‘gunk’ at the bottom of each bottle.  However, for me, this lifts my spirits.  I’ve missed green juices and I’ve missed seeds!

Despite it being mid-morning, I’d only had hot water with lemon so far so decide to start the cleanse straight away.  My initial taste of the juices told me it was melon juice!  How odd… but super tasty.  Even with lots of vigorous shaking before opening the juice I’m aware that the seeds are gathered at the bottom of the bottle.  A little water added, another swirl of the bottle and I got them.  Obviously a little to learn about drinking this concoction but by the end of the 3 days I’ve mastered it.

Was I hungry during the cleanse?  Sometimes but I know it’s just in my head.  I managed to keep on top of drinking lots of water as well as the juices which helps.

Did I get congested?  The seeds and ‘gunk’ have helped with the fibre aspect of juicing too (TMI?).

Would I do it again?  Yes but not at full price.  Once again I used a Groupon offer so the 3-day Super Green Cleanse was £59.99 which works out at £4 a bottle.  The full price is £249.99 which works out at £16.66 a bottle.  I don’t see how this cost could be justified for 15 green juices no matter how the juice is extracted.

Does the Super Green Cleanse bottles last in the fridge?  Yes, there doesn’t seem to be any oxidising and the lids are securely taped down with layers of sellotape.

Would I recommend it?  Yes but only at an offer price.

I’ve loved this cleanse.  Probably partially because they were green drinks.  Overall I feel lighter, energised and have dropped several kilos.

Soulmatefood ‘Perfect Cleanse’ – My Results

‘Perfect Cleanse’ for 3-days.   Finished last night with a nighttime tea.  This ‘cleanse’ was only 5 small juices a day with lots of water.  I have completed the cleanse but now are craving sweet foods and breads.  Although some would argue that is due to my stating that I worried with all the fruit content that I would crave ‘bad foods’ and I’ve set myself up.  Maybe so… but I do!

I feel lighter but I don’t feel totally cleansed.  I’m a little surprised that the cost of the package (if I’d paid full price) is so much when in real terms it’s just 15 small juices.  Ok so it claims to be the ‘world’s first hypostatic cleanse’ but what does that really mean to me?

Was I hungry during the 3 days?  Yes.  Not only hungry but craving sweet foods.  I distracted myself with some tennis, pilates and DIY but can’t help but feel by just ‘suggesting’ lots of water that perhaps I needed more specific instructions or, as with the Juice & Cleanse detox, the addition of bicarbonate of soda or lemon juice which made me drink more water.  Simple yet it worked.

Did I get congested?  Yes and bloated.  Once again I took some digestive stimulator capsules but not much movement.

Do the juices last in the fridge? Yes.

Would I do it again? No. The majority of the juices were fruit based and I personally felt that the sweetness of the juices didn’t help me feel lighter, stimulate any detox and also left me craving for bad foods.

Would I recommend Soulmatefoods? At full price, No.  With an offer, maybe but to someone starting out on juicing that isn’t ready (mentally) to do a more vegetable based juicing regime.  I also felt the instructions and care were slightly less than I’d hope from a package that is trying to encourage people to continue with juicing and healthy eating.

I did note however that Soulmatefoods do a range of healthy food plans delivered to your door.  These look great and appear to be balanced menus perfect for a busy lifestyle.  They have a 6-day trial menu for £150 which looks good.  Have you tried them?  Or perhaps if you do, let me know what you think?

Oooh and the all important question….

Did it work and results? As a ‘cleanse’ I’m not feeling it.  I did however lose another 1kg.

3 day ‘Perfect Cleanse’ from Soulmatefood

Late yesterday afternoon the courier arrived with a neatly packaged box from Soutmatefood.

SoulmatefoodBoxInside the insulated box are my juices for the next three days.  There was a icepack in teh centre of the juices however this had already melted.  The inside of the box wasn’t particularly cool – perhaps worthwhile getting the delivery in the morning, if possible – hopefully the juices will remain fresh for the 3-day juice cleanse.

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Instructions read (shake and drink juices every 2.5hrs with plenty of water) and juices were put away in the fridge ready for my start today.

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Once again I’m using a Groupon Offer to try Soulmatefood Perfect Cleanse.  Normal price is a whopping £195 but with the deal it’s £65 for the 3 day cleanse (+ £5 delivery).  Reducing each bottle of goodness from £13 to £4.33 each.

A quick summary of the cleanse:

The Soulmatefood Perfect Cleanse, the world’s first hypostatic cleanse has intense alkalising and anti-oxidising properties, giving your skin a healthy glow and your body packed full of vitamins. Our nutritionist has given us some great, insightful facts for each of our 6 steps!

1 – Carrot, Apple & Ginger
– 24% Vitamin B6 – essential for healthy red blood cell production
– Great source of beta-carotene, essential for healthy skin and immune function
2 – Cucumber, Kale, Broccoli, Celery, Lime, Lemon, Apple/Pear, Spinach and Avocado
– High in folate – essential for cell division and new cell production
– 59% of the RDA in Vitamin C
3 – Lemon, Cinnamon, Chilli and Ginger
– Chillies are a great source of antioxidants
– Ginger also has antibacterial properties which can aid immunity
4 – Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, Beetroot, Lemon, Redcurrant, Kiwi and Orange
– 68% RDA Manganese
– Full of powerful antioxidants known as anthrocyanins
5 – Cucumber, Kale, Broccoli, Celery, Lime, Lemon, Pear, Spinach and Mint
– High in potassium – an essential electrolyte that helps regulate cell fluid and blood pressure
– 50% of the RDA in Vitamin C
6 – Soothing night time detox tea
– help aid digestion
– relaxing, soothing and comforting

PERFECT CLEANSE INSTRUCTIONS
DO refrigerate the juices immediately.
DO sip the five parts of your cleanse in order throughout the day alongside 5 glasses of water.
DO exercise lightly whilst on the cleanse.
DON’T drink coffee or alcohol whilst on the cleanse.
Enjoy your juices every two and a half hours and make sure you shake them well!

Some interesting ingredients and combinations however I’m concerned that the majority of the juicy content is fruit and therefore probably quite sweet.  I know that, for me, sweeter juicing means that I often crave ‘bad’ food types during and after a cleanse.  I’m also concerned that the bottles are 250ml each meaning a total of only 1.25 litres of nutrient based juices each day and a hankering for breads!

We will see.  Watch this space!

Issy’s ‘List for Life’ continues….

I’ve mentioned my friend Issy before and fulfilling her List for Life now also known as her ‘Phuck-it List’.  Whilst we were away in Verona last year we plotted how we would achieve a number of other adventures on her list.  One of the things she said she’d love to do would be to dine at The Square in London’s Mayfair.  How fortuitous that the very talented 2 Michelin star chef is my cousin (well 1st cousin once removed but who’s counting), Phil Howard.

Since our Verona trip we have spoken of this dinner on many occasions but the urgency of organising it was brought to the fore a few months ago when it was decided that Issy’s treatment was to cease.

Rather than being a small intimate dinner for Issy and a couple of friends we asked Phil if Issy could have the private dining room at The Square.  This would enable Issy to invite friends and family to share the magnificent dining experience with her.  During chemo Issy, like so many others in treatment, had found it difficult to taste food properly and certainly to enjoy or savour it.  With no further treatment Issy has been enjoying tasting food once more and at every opportunity in the most glamorous of places, however her appetite is much smaller.  So Issy thought a tasting menu would be perfect!

I cannot express how truly wonderful and kind Phil has been in orchestrating a tremendous and memorable dinner for Issy.  Phil spoke with Issy directly to discover her ingredient/food loves, likes and dislikes.  He then created dishes based on their discussions and sent Issy the menu for approval.  I could almost hear the joyful whooping from her when she shared the menu by email with tonight’s dinner guests.

We met early at The Square in Mayfair.  A glass of bubbles enjoyed whilst the party arrived.  A buzz of excitement from our dining posse.  It was very evident that each of us had put a little bit of sparkle whilst dressing and so honoured to be sharing this experience with Issy (and to dine at The Square!).  We were then shown to our private room where Issy had laid out our name cards.

During the incredible amuse bouche we took turns to introduce ourselves to the table and say how we know Issy.  What a perfect spectrum of guests from her childhood, from school, London, work, partying, cancerland and, of course, her family.  The guests had travelled far and wide to be at this dinner – from Cheshire, America, even one chap from Hong Kong and of course London and surrounding areas.

Issy's Square Dinner peopleI know that chefs hate ‘public’ taking photos of food.  I’m an uber amateur and no ‘food stylist’ so apologies as the next pictures truly don’t do any of it justice.

Issy's Square Dinner foodBelieve me when I tell you each and every mouthful of the entire tasting menu was utterly incredibly deliciously beautifully unique and special.  Phil had also paired each and every dish with wine… spot on with every sip.

I can’t thank Phil enough for creating such a perfect dining experience for us all.  For allowing Issy to share it with her friends and family.  For making it such a special memory laden evening for each and every one of us.

Thank you Issy for inviting me to your exclusive dining experience and allowing me to, once again, be part of your List for Life.

If you’d like to follow Issy’s journey, she’s writing for the Huffington Post.  Follow her progress here.

Bench visitation

A very special evening ahead and with perfect timing there was just enough time to meet up with my friend Kelly for a spot of bubbles at my bench in Berkeley Square.

Kelly at my benchHave you visited my bench?  If so, let me know but please don’t post any photos with teh plaque – only visitors get to see what it says!

and, of course, the obligatory ‘selfie’

Selfie with Kelly in Berkeley Square(my crazy staring eyes!)