Reading Time: 5 minutes


How many times recently have you heard the words ‘don’t beat yourself up’ or ‘don’t put yourself down’.  I can bet it has been said to you a number of times in recent years.  I know I am guilty of doing both, and it is now time to stand up to the ‘inner bully’ and show it who is boss.

It is hardly surprising as we are constantly ‘bullied’ by the media, ordering us to look more attractive, younger, thinner, smarter – unrealistic goals when juggling any sort of descent lifestyle.

As a woman of a certain age, I now feel compelled to fight back at this tough tyrant within, and have begun to congratulate myself on bringing up a family – no easy feat, being a great friend and partner, my own skills and talents, and doing a list of my assets.  I don’t mean in monetary terms, but my own attributes, and if you search you will find there are many that you can write down about yourself.

If you have this list by your bed, or in a prominent place where you can read it daily, I guarantee the negative feelings relating to yourself will begin to disappear.

Since I instigated this exercise into my own regime, as advised by a renowned life coach, ‘miracles’ started to happen, I was advised that they would.  I was sceptical at first, but seeing a close friend successfully turn her life around, I was urged to try it, after all what did I have to lose.

So this, along with daily meditation, my life began to turn around for the good.  I can’t explain how things began to improve, but can certainly pinpoint when, and that was the moment I stood up to the inner ‘bully’ and resolved to overturn the negative feelings I had for myself and stop setting myself unrealistic goals.

Small things started to happen at first, like a Yoga class appearing, practically on my doorstep and a part time job opportunity mysteriously coming up that would not eat too much into my time.  I have even been given affordable beauty products and treatments at the local spa, and a multitude of benefits I hadn’t previously been made aware of.

Perhaps it is the Universe rewarding me for taking action against the ‘bully’, or maybe I am now freed up to notice my own good fortune, but I recommend taking charge, as it can only be for the greater good, and certainly in these circumstances, it will be for your own inner strength and future.

So, the rule of thumb is that bullies are actually cowards, and if confronted will always back off.  So if you have done any sort of meditation, now is the time to have a serious talk with your inner ‘bully’ and tell them their voice is no longer effective in your World.

When the pressure is off you can then decide what is best for you, and you will be surprised at how liberating it will be to make your own decisions, based upon what you really need to make you happy.

If you would like more information on the above subject or any sort of holistic help, please contact us at, where we can recommend related reading and life coach options.

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Reading Time: 4 minutes


It is a great time of year to meet up with old friends and family, going to School Nativity plays, Church choirs and Christmas Shopping, but the down side is, it can be pretty exhausting too, and this is the time when our immune system can be low and we are prone to picking up bugs.

I attended a brilliant concert put on by the Nottinghill Community Choir last weekend and had VIP status having known the Pastor from a ‘past life’ when he was still a performer, but not in a religious sense, and I found myself sitting next to one of the top voice coaches in London.

With our compatible interests, and before the singing began, he and I struck up a conversation, and as we spoke he tipped an aromatherapy oil on his hands, explaining that he carried a potion called Four Thieves around with him at all times, to ward off the inevitable viruses that were in abundance at this time of the year.  He also went on to tell me that the source of this incredible remedy stemmed from as far back as the Bubonic Plague in France in the 17th century, when four thieves who lived underground, robbing graves and bodies of the afflicted, were completely immune to the disease through their discovery of this unique elixir.

On further investigation when I returned home, I discovered that these essential oils are a combination of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary, which smell divine as well as being an incredible preventative potion against ill health.

Fascinated by his story of its source I also investigated that this story, recorded in French folklore, goes on to say that these four reprobates were captured and put on trial and the inevitable sentence of the time, Death by Hanging was bestowed upon them.


However, using their wits, they promised to reveal their source of immunity to the plague and were subsequently pardoned.  The rest is history, and the remedy remains in their name, although 20th century French herbalist Jean Vardet has since perfected it in his wisdom.


I am astounded that the Four Thieves remedy is not a household name and so have done some more digging and discovered that they are incredibly expensive on most health websites, but a major find is they can be purchased at a reasonable price from Anglesea Organics Ebay Store online.

As you can imagine, I could not wait to share the news with you all, and have already put in my order for myself and the whole family.

As some of you may know, I have a daughter and son-in-law and three young grandchildren, who will all benefit from this amazing remedy, especially before Christmas when taking part in so many activities and being exposed to the elements and as many of us are.

I believe in it, and at only a few pounds, it would be great for all of us to try it and see.  If it works as my new ‘friend’ insists, he will definitely be on my Christmas card list now and for many years to come.





Reading Time: 4 minutes


Ancient grains have made a big comeback this year, and as big as Quinoa was when it came back into popularity in 2013, so are ingredients like hemp, chia and buckwheat.

As with all diets, they are really a rehash of the old or the ancient ones, and we have the ultimate solution to your endless yo yo effect, in that getting your digestive system up to speed (literally), the rest will take care of itself.

There are compatible foods where you combine protein with neutral foods or the neutral with starch meals, but otherwise, never the ‘grain’ will meet.

So, to get started, consider fish and chicken as your protein options and vegetables such as asparagus, green beans, carrots, celery, peas and spinach as your neutral.

Then if you would prefer a starch option, then add oats, buckwheat and quinoa.

But this is just the beginning as you cannot live on these foods alone, and there are more options like using molasses instead of sugar, and olive or cold pressed seed oils and the fruits and pulses that are compatible and essential to make this diet work.

If you are enjoying this concept, then take it a step further and invest in one of the related books where they will elaborate on this and add recipes and explanations of how important it is to get the gut functioning, and make sure you don’t keep going back to the fad diets that are only temporary.

We have sung the praises of Gudrun Jonsson before, but never tire of her advice and recipes, and see her as the original ‘gut’ doctor.  Gudrun is a biopath who has been studying the reaction of the gut for more than three decades, and so her recipes have been tried and tested, and her books and ideas are constantly being updated but don’t go out of fashion.

The Gut Reaction Eating Plan: Choose, Prepare and Combine Foods to Cleanse ...

Preview the book here

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Reading Time: 6 minutes


Many years ago when I was attending a spiritual healing retreat, a guru told me that if I had ‘plastic surgery’ the Goddess would not be happy.I have always remembered those words, and have watched carefully as more and more people have gone under the knife to look good. I have to admit that I have also considered this myself in spite of the warning as the years have progressed, but am fortunate to have inherited a very good skin and bone structure, but nonetheless felt it was time for a bit of enhancement.

I had also been contemplating a few areas of improvement, and so a few months ago began to investigate less invasive ways of doing so.  So I started checking out my options and stumbled on the Deluxe Clinic. The Deluxe Clinic resides in the affluent area of Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire, often referred to as the ‘Hollywood of England’, mainly due to its celebrity inhabitants and easy proximity to Pinewood Studios.

My family moved to Gerrards Cross as their their film career was taking off in the seventies, and they had moved their ‘empire’ to Pinewood.  So I am familiar with the fabulous energy of the village and the well-known faces, even though it has undergone changes over the years. So it was a delight to discover the Clinic with its expertise in Hifu which is a brilliant non-invasive laser face lift.  Not only is it administered by well trained staff, but the clinic works with trained nurses and even the NHS with many of its techniques.

The tariffs of this revolutionary cosmetic surgery are also extremely competitive and are well below the prices of most London salons.I decided to check it out, and was warmly greeted by the owner, Simona Goci, who took the time and trouble to introduce me to the other members of her staff and spend time explaining the various treatments.The premises themselves are pristine and the treatment rooms tranquil and geared for the greater good of the client.

In spite of my reservations, Simona was completely reassuring but honest, and told me in great detail the areas of my face that she would recommend could be improved.  She also gave me a number of options, but not once did I feel she was ‘selling’ to me.

After a lot of questions and considerations, I signed up to try the Hifu facelift.   HIFU Face and Neck Lift (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) also known as Non-surgical Facelift has become one of the most sought after lifting treatments for face and neck. 3D SkinMed is a one-off treatment which will help you achieve tighter, firmer, lifted skin! It all sounds so easy, but believe me it was a major decision, especially for someone like me who had been warned not to interfere with nature’s bigger plan.

The procedure takes a couple of hours, and is virtually pain free.   Simona herself is in charge of the Hifu and is an expert.  She explains what she is doing at every stage, and I felt nurtured and in good hands.The effects take three months to reach their optimum level, as the skin has to readjust and tighten gradually over time.  I was told I may not see an immediate difference but I did and friends and colleagues have remarked on how well and young I look, even after a few weeks.

I would certainly recommend anyone who has been considering having ‘work’ done to check out the Deluxe Clinic as their methods won’t make such a dent on your skin or your bank account. I would also recommend that wherever you live, this is a great place to check out, and is well worth the journey, even to make a special trip.

If unlike me you want to keep the treatment a secret, their staff are discreet and confidential.  I am quite happy to recommend this to others who are in need but don’t want to go the invasive route, as it really does give a boost to both your skin and your confidence. I have also consulted my oracle, and feel that in spite of the advice of the guru, the Goddess is pleased with my decision, as it enhances her work in the first place, rather than reinventing it.

If you would like a free consultation call Deluxe Clinic on 01753 885777.
Or visit the website at

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Reading Time: 5 minutes


As my old science teacher would say, the only way you will succeed is by using the three P’s – which are perseverance, patience and for the life of me I can’t think of the third.  In fact, all have thought about when trying to lose weight in the past is just one P, and that I am not able to publish, but to give you a clue, is also a word used when drunk!

In the past year, several of us at have been under the watchful eye of Gudrun Jonsson, a revered Kensington based bio-path, who has monitored our diets and put us on an organic regime to regulate the gut and get the system working again.  This has resulted in a massive weight loss of several hundred pounds between us, and we now have the challenge of sustaining the weight loss.

It is true that successful weight loss is more than a few visits to weight watchers or slimming world, but for the more committed it is a complete life change in diet and exercise.

It sounds challenging and it is, but if you really want to change your shape and improve your health, it is well worth the investment.

I would strongly recommend that you sign up to a recommended nutritionist like Gudrun, but if you can’t make the trip to London, then there will be many in your area, but make sure you read the reviews and try to access one who has some sort of medical experience or knowledge.

Once the digestive system has been accessed, and you have a diet plan in place, you will begin to see the difference immediately as we did, and the pounds will start to drop away.  We gain weight when there is too much acid in the blood, which can be due to all sorts of factors but stems from the central area of the body, the gut.  So once that is sorted, the rest will follow.

It is true that exercise accelerates weight loss, but it is 80 percent diet, and a brisk walk every day or a visit to a yoga class or the gym two or three times a week are sufficient to support your regime.

My diet needed a bit of tweaking but was not drastic, and I was able to add some really tasty foods like avocado and quinoa, pomegranate and papaya as well as rye bread and tahini.

You will also be pleased to hear that you can drink alcohol, in moderation, one or two units a day will not affect your diet – preferably with your lunch or dinner – although I elected to sustain from alcohol completely for the first couple of months when I was kick starting my system.

Once you have lost the weight, and you definitely will, the challenge is to keep it off.  We have been advised to watch our food combinations – do you remember the old Atkins diet.  Well there you have it, and if you stick to not eating carbs with protein, the weight loss will sustain or even increase.


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Reading Time: 19 minutes

As part of our Women who Influence series, we speak with Doctor Lesley Phillips about juggling family and career and running her successful craft company THE SOAP KITCHEN.

Lesley casts her mind back to those early days, when her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, how she urged her to continue with her medical studies, and her brave life choices along the way.

To be honest and to dig deep there is one huge part of my life’s journey that has affected me. I was unfortunate to lose my mother when I was 21. This was very hard at a time in my life when I was at medical school in the midst of my fourth year. 

She wouldn’t let me take time off my studies during her terminal illness as she wanted me to succeed, it was difficult but the right decision and I respected it. Obviously I would go home when I could and regularly spent time with her before her death. I know she was proud but worried about me being a doctor and the sacrifices I would have to make. She thought that this sacrifice would be a family life. Herself and my grandmother hadn’t been able to pursue a career like many of both their generations because of family commitments which was more of a barrier then. I think I have moved that forward like a lot of women of my generation and you can do both if that is what works for you. 

My daughters are her only grandchildren and I do know I would give anything for her to have known them. People of my age who still have their mothers are finding they are getting elderly now and that does bring problems. I consider them lucky to have had that time and that relationship over many years which is priceless. I know there is pressure on women to keep youthful but having the privilege to remain healthy and be able to age gracefully should never be taken for granted

If you cast your mind back to when you first heard of the concept of your new creative hobby/business, which is now THE SOAP KITCHEN, what aspect of it attracted you the most? 

I was attracted by the fact that this was a craft based business. I have always loved making things and started sewing when I was around 5 years old. My parents used to smoke before the dangers were fully known and gave me a catalogue to choose anything I liked from the vouchers out of the cigarette packets. I chose my first sewing machine. I learnt to knit at a young age too. Everyone in my immediate family got handmade gifts for Christmas, whether they liked it or not! I used to love going to the annual flower festivals and fetes in the village and buying handmade items out of my pocket money. I remember also helping at a local event in the village when I was about 15. I had made some things to sell. I was on a stall next to a local artist. He was so impressed that he gave me three of his original illustrations as a reward for my efforts. I went on to organise my own craft sale outside our house to raise money for charity. 

So I suppose the concept in the infancy of the business reconnected me with a passion for craft. I hadn’t had time for being creative over the previous years due to being at medical school and then the long hours working as a qualified doctor. We spent time researching what was available for soap making by visiting large hobby and craft exhibitions which rekindled my interest in creativity. 

Were you at a stage when you were looking to change some aspect of your life, or did it take you by surprise? 

At this point I had just had my second child and me and my husband felt that we wanted more freedom to be ourselves with more flexibility in our lives. I was working as a full time GP by then, leaving home before my daughter was awake and getting home when she was in bed. I started to question who I was doing this for ? I didn’t want to miss out on her childhood. I had a lot of responsibility for a large number of patients in my NHS practice. After a 15 year full time career in the NHS we make a difficult decision and decided to relocate to North Devon where we had bought and renovated two cottages ( another story in that we also ran a property development company at that time). We loved going there and each time coming back home felt such a wrench. The eldest daughter was due to go to secondary school so we had a window of opportunity for her to start in a North Devon school at the right time. 

I had also had an unusual encounter with one of my patients sometime before this. During one of my consultations with her, she suddenly took my hands and held them tight. She looked me straight in the eye and said to me, you will leave this practice and this place. She told me she was clairvoyant, she said don’t worry about it, it will be for a good reason and it will be the right decision. I was quite taken aback as my plans at that time were for a long commitment to the practice and I had a large mortgage to pay. I have to say being very practical I wouldn’t have been that open minded about her claims. I didn’t say much and just finished the consultation as I would have done normally. Maybe in some way she gave me permission to let go and put myself and my family first when I needed to. I do sometimes wonder how she is. She did say good bye at our last meeting before I left with an ‘I told you so’ look that said it all, it was quite special. 

Why did you call it the Soap Kitchen? Such an innovative name. 

We were playing with words one evening and as there was no other such business in the UK at the time had a pretty much free reign with choosing the name. We thought The Soap Kitchen portrayed the message that making soap was something that could be easily done in the kitchen using basic utensils. My husband designed the logo with a ladle to reinforce the brand and the message. It isn’t a difficult craft and in a way is akin to baking, it is crucial to have the right ingredients weighed and measured and follow a recipe. Natural soap making is our core product but we now supply ingredients to make all sorts of toiletries and beauty products. Bath bombs are particularly popular and easy to make but we have also expanded to provide candle making supplies as our fragrances and essential oils are suitable for both. 

Was it tough for you in the beginning, juggling family with a new business and a high powered career.

It was really tough at the beginning when we first moved. To start with foot and mouth hit the area soon after we moved to North Devon which had a devastating effect on the local community. We had decided that we weren’t going to use a childminder as we had in the south east so we juggled childcare as well as work. I ended up working more weekends than ever before doing markets and craft stalls which was enjoyable but not that profitable. I also had to establish myself as a locum GP in surgeries that didn’t know me. I was finding that local GP surgeries demanded me being on call which was something I had hoped I had left behind, the most stressful part of the job. Locum work was not as well paid as it had been in the south east so I helped set up a locum group to address this issue. I met some lovely locum GP colleagues who were very supportive. I was offered two part time GP jobs but it meant a commitment to a partnership again so I declined however tempting the income was. 

I decided to get myself trained to do occupational health assessments so that I could have more flexibility in my medical work. We were lucky in that my parents in law live in the area too and enjoyed having my youngest daughter who was still pre-school to help out. She had a lovely time, going to the beach most weeks with them and exploring the area. 

Did you have a vision for the business, and did you ever imagine it would grow into such a successful business. 

There was never a long term plan for the business and I think if someone told us then how much we would grow I would have thought they were joking. I would have fallen off my chair I think. I had some experience of running a business as GP partnerships are self- employed businesses and employ their own ancillary staff with the responsibility that entails. These skills have been very helpful as we have taken on more and more employees over the years as we have grown. 

In more recent years with the support of our staff we have been able to go to international trade events for the cosmetic industry and have been overwhelmed by the reception we have received as we are now well established and a known brand. 

Do you think it is you and your husband’s passion for the Soap Kitchen that has driven it, and do you need that commitment for a creative industry to thrive. 

We both have continued passion for the business and continually embrace change and move forward, there is no room for complacency in business. As well as passion in the early stages there were hours of unpaid work and meticulous attention to detail. Being honest to the core beliefs and being prepared to say no as necessary when ideas are not compatible. You can’t be half hearted and the way you present a creative business needs have an identity and originality. It’s own story needs to be told and it needs to be honest. We have always listened to customers and over the years have built up a huge network of suppliers to meet their needs. We make sure that we can deliver all the latest beauty trends and quality ingredients in quantities and prices that suit our customer base. We have also made sure we are always ahead of the game as regards to ecommerce. Looking forward, being mindful of SEO and ever changing demand of the internet. We manage the website in house and upload all the products and keep the website fresh. We provide excellent customer service and our staff are proud to have a Feefo 5 star gold award. We have had this two years running since we started using the service to get validated customer reviews. 

Were there times when you had to really struggle. 

There were many times when I struggled through this journey. Giving up the security of a GP partnership and relocating your family to different schools is a leap into the unknown. Basically we reinvented ourselves and took charge of our lives and future. We always had my career to fall back on and when times were tough I had to go out and get any extra money we needed. That was very hard and stressful but I have managed to juggle my career. I am still a practising doctor with GMC revalidation and maintain my CPD ( Continued Professional Development). My career now spans 32 years and apart from a few months maternity leave with my two daughters I have never had a career break. 

Do you still love the business and would you have made other choices if you had the opportunity again?

I still love the business and am proud of what we have achieved. We are spreading the passion to our employees and try to choose staff that can identify with our core values. We still steer the business but respect the input of our team as they do the day to day running of the business. Given the same opportunity I would make the same choices. The question I often ask myself is whether I would have chosen medicine as a career. It is such hard work and dampened the creativity I had from an early age. I still have a passion for textiles and in another life I would pursue a career involving creativity from the outset. My sewing teacher told my parents that I was very talented at a parents evening but in those days if you were scientifically minded probably like now that would be seen as the sensible option so I dropped the subject at school. It never occurred to me that I could make a living out of something I loved to do as a hobby. This is now given out readily as sound career advice, choose something you are passionate about as you are more likely to succeed. 

Medicine however has given me the power to change my life and the skills and professionalism to succeed in business. It has also been humbling to have the opportunity to help people in times of need and make a difference to their lives. 

Who do you feel are your core customers and why? 

Our core customers are women aged 30 to 50 years. We don’t however stereotype as it is great to have customers of all ages and there are now an increasing amount of men getting on board with natural beauty and male grooming. A lot of our customers seek us out as they are fed up with large corporations marketing products that contain unnecessary chemicals that are not skin friendly. It is akin to concerns about the food we eat. Customers demand to know what they are using and want to do the best for their skin. As well as hobbyists we also supply businesses. We have been there and done it ourselves so understand the challenges and the regulations. We have a tiered price system that includes discounts for larger quantities to cater for this customer base. Also now 30% of our business is to Europe and the wider world. We have a lot of customers in Scandinavia which is interesting, there is a large home crafting culture in these countries like the UK. 

Like other businesses we are concerned about the effects of Brexit and do not want to see any barriers to trade. 

Do you now have the lifestyle you have dreamed about? 

I would say I do and I am very lucky. We have a lovely house in a beautiful location. We own our own warehouse and have a thriving niche ecommerce business. We have a 5 minute commute to work and can see the sea and countryside en-route. 

Our daughters are grown up and both live in Bristol and consider Devon their home rather than Kent where they were born. We often see them and it is lovely when we do. I think the only thing that is different than the dream is the amount of work we still do. You can’t take your finger off the pulse in business. I am still committed to my medical career and dedicate at least one day a week to this. 

We are just busy people and remain focused on our vision and it is hard to let go and maybe it is not quite the time to do so. 

We are starting to have more breaks and doing a more travelling so that we see a bit more of the world. Part of the dream was spending time enjoying the area and I would like to visit more local places and explore Dartmoor and Exmoor properly. Perhaps we need to give ourselves permission to have time for this on a regular basis and not feel guilty for it. 

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