September already?


Where’s summer gone?  What’s happened to the hazy lazy warm days when we slap on our sunscreen, dress in flimsy apparel designed to keep as cool as possible, enjoy a surreptitious whippy ice cream and think wistfully of weekend barbeques and long summer evening walks in the meadows……   Summer didn’t last very long at all… too short and over too soon.  July’s thunderstorms are past although the memory of a bolt of lightening joining with a sharp crack of thunder just beside me as I walked to my house is etched into my memory.  Little Meg, the Dandy Dinmont who was faithfully trotting alongside me at the time, moved with a hitherto unknown speed, dashing into the open door of the kitchen, where she lay, panting, her little heart fluttering wildly and her already big eyes huge looking bewildered.  Her response showed me that I was not exaggerating my horror at almost being hit directly with a lightening bolt!  Considering a single lightening bolt can contain up to 1,000 +  volts of electricity with the accompanying hot air discharging as thunder: if this happens in close proximity as I experienced, the flash is infinately powerful and the clap of thunder, deafening!  ….A close escape for both me and Maggie especially since we were outside in the open near the neighbour’s tree: perfectly placed as conductors of electricity.

August too has come and gone: those of us with the belief (and the stomach!) cheerfully consumed oysters on the 5th of the month, knowing that our finances would be healthy for the next year.  The ‘Glorious Twelfth’ saw the start of the hunting season when grouse need to be canny and careful to survive the hunter’s bullet.  Sad the heart that hears the crack of the shotgun on shooting days,  hoping that each volley finds its mark causing the least amount of suffering to the innocent bird.     Farmers are as always, busy working on their land, harvesting precious crops until late in the evening.  From early morning till long after dusk, the familiar rumble of tractors can be heard on country roads returning home having cut the corn all day long; perhaps looking forward to a hearty harvest supper of home made game pie, lashings of vegetables, all rounded off with warm freshly made crusty bread and pickles from the previous harvest!  In truth, not to burst romantic bubbles, farmers wives are all too often an essential part of the harvesting and can often be seen driving tractors alongside their spouses, so the idea of the comely farmer’s wife dutifully serving a home made supper in her Cath Kitson apron is probably a myth nowadays.  Still, such a meal could constitute a wonderful Sunday lunch with friends and family.

Lastly, our little feathered friends have too soon flown off to sunnier climates, leaving us bereft of their delightful company.  Swallows, swifts house martins are perhaps most identifiable as they collect in flocks, sitting on overhead wires, twittering softly until, drawn by some unidentifiable instinctual signal they leave, taking to the sky to begin their amazing journeys which will end as far away as Africa and Morocco.

The Autumn Equinox around September 22nd marks the time when the sun is above the horizon for 12hrs and throughout the world the day and night are similar in length which is a remarkable feat.  Enjoy !

Sugar sugar everywhere!

Remember the story of the gingerbread house deep in the forest? After Hansel and Gretel were abandoned by their evil stepmother and weak father: fearing they were doomed for ever, left to die in the forest with no one to save them, they could not believe their luck and good fortune when, quite by accident, they stumbled upon a gingerbread house! On closer inspection our two plucky little abandonees found that the entire structure was made of scrumptious sugary wonderfulness and could not resist tucking into its splendid tasting walls and windows…..mmmmm….soon, feelings of fear and worry gave way to intense delight and euphoria from their sugary treat.
But. Unbeknown to our intrepid twosome, a cruel and wicked witch waited inside the house. Beckoning the unsuspecting siblings inside with the promise of tasty treats to their little hearts’ content, the children soon found to their horror that she had the worst of intentions! She wanted to eat them!! Oh woe!! Of course, the children were made of strong stuff: resilient and optimistic, they soon hatched a plot and, seizing their opportunity, shoved the nasty old wizened crone unceremoniously into her oven where she perished: never to frighten children again. Wahey!
Well, it was something like that.
In a funny old way, the story is scarily similiar when we consider sugar. Sugar gives such a powerful ‘hit’ that lots of us use sugary substances in times of stress and worry. Just as the children felt all of their troubles were over when they discovered the wonder of the confectionery house, so too, sugar can boost our mood incredibly, by creating a surge of dopamine in the reward centre of our brain which responds by releasing a powerful ‘feel good’ factor. Try this little experiment: mute the sound on your tv sets and watch a couple of adverts selling chocolate. You’ll probably notice that the marketing angle likens the sensation of eating chocolate to….. well…..adult pleasure.
So far fantastic! Bring it on! I’ll have some of that and more!! Except for one thing: one little bitty eeny weeny spoiler: Just as the wicked witch was hiding inside, waiting to do away with our little lonelies: so too, the sugary rush causes blood sugar ‘spikes’ that over time, cause similiar problems to a drug addict. Yep, that old feel good part of the brain very quickly needs more and more sugar for the SAME effect! And the brain, not realising that it’s only sugar for goodness sake: reacts by creating powerful cravings which if not satisfied, cause horrible side effects including anxiety, severe irritability and fatigue.
Ahhh, I hear you say, “I know when to stop and I can easily give up chocolate.” Yes I guess some of you can, but whether or not you can may lie in your genetic makeup and your body chemistry as well as a cheeky little aside of personality and willpower! Add to that the massive amount of hidden sugars in our diet and we have a recipe for disaster! Just like our little twosome, what appeared to be a wonderous find turned out to be disasterous; threatening their very lives!!
So how do we murder the witch: how do we bounce back from adversity: how do we overcome the demonic power of sugar: how can we cleanse our bodies of this poison and free ourselves like Hansel and Gretal did?
Answers next time……………………………………………………