Reading Time: 5 minutes


It is a well shared belief that if you own a dog or cat, your life expectancy can be increased by a number of years.  I am sure that this is true in the majority of cases, but as the owner of a gorgeous kitten and young rescue Labrador, am an expert on the dos and don’ts of a pet owner, and with all of the wonderful benefits of these blissful animals, there is still a lot to consider before committing to the joys of pet ownership.

Before you decide to take on an animal, consider it carefully.  Look at your lifestyle, family, environment and bank account.  Because owning an animal does not come cheap and does come with a lot of responsibility.

Cats are probably easier and cheaper than dogs, because they are far more independent, and can be left at home for longer relatively unsupervised, and if you are not near a main road, with the aid of a cap flap, can even be allowed to wander around outside when you are not at home.

If you are considering owning a dog, this is far greater a deal, in that they need walking, grooming and a lot of attention.

Both need injections, flea and deworming treatments, pet insurance and care when you are away.

Again cats are easier to leave under the watchful eye of a neighbour you trust, who can feed and watch they are in good spirits.  Dogs however need to be walked and fed several times a day, and so unless you have helpful friends, family members or dog walkers, then think carefully when taking on a dog.

I am not being the voice of doom and gloom because I love my pets, as does my husband and kids, but you have to sit down as a family, and write down all the expectations and expenditure as explained, plus the food, so that it fits into the family budget and lifestyle.

Explain this to your kids too, so that they understand that a pet comes with a lot of upkeep and responsibility.

The cost per month for a cat or dog can be anything from £40-200 per month, depending upon the amount of cover that you need if you are working or out of the house for hours at a time.

For instance, if you are thinking about owning a larger dog, it will need a lot more exercise, so you should source a local dog walker who does not cost an arm and a leg before you decide to go ahead.

We have found a local doggie day care ‘paradise’ where we can drop our Labrador off for the day to play with other dogs for only £8 for the entire day, and if we are away just £16 per night or two days.

This is a real ‘find’ and without this facility we could not afford the expenditure of a walker or dog minder or carer, who can be as much as £20-35 a day.

Also on the plus side, if you decide which variety of food is good for your pet, you can buy it in monthly online which will bring down the cost.  We have gone for an organic healthy eating variety – and keep it in the freezer for both animals, and they are thriving on it.

So, having explained the considerations, if you are all in agreement, or if you live alone, and feel the desire to own a pet, it will be one of the most rewarding and life enhancing decisions you have made.

It will add a new dimension to your household and your lives, is a well-known distraction from depression in the elderly, and will give you years of happiness and love that you will cherish forever.

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Stem Cells Are The Key To ‘Future Health’

Stem Cells Are The Key To ‘Future Health’

Reading Time: 7 minutes


I had just had the most wonderful news, my partner John and I had been trying for our second child for months, not long in the grand scheme of things, but it seemed like an eternity.

Then when it was confirmed that I was pregnant, and at my four month scan that I was having twins – we were over the moon. We had everything, a four year old daughter a new home and now two babies on the way.

Then we were dealt a devastating blow. Our young daughter had been quite off colour for a couple of months, and even a little before that. It didn’t seem worrying at first because kids get sick and there are some nasty bugs out there. But I began to get worried when she slept from five in the afternoon until sometimes eight in the morning, quite out of character.

Our local GP told us it was nothing to worry about, and as I became more concerned, I even drove a couple of hours to our old doctor only to be given the same advice. But I was still worried.

One Saturday she became very unwell and developed a rash. I decided to take her to A and E thinking it was probably my paranoia, but needed to check for my own peace of mind, my partner came with me.

They took a routine blood test and I knew there was something wrong when we were called into a room and was surrounded by consultants. Remember by this time I was heavily pregnant with twins and they were worried about my reaction. Our world was about to fall apart. She was to be admitted to hospital straight away and her chemo was to be administered immediately. They warned me she would be very unwell as a result of the treatment, let alone the disease.

Our beautiful daughter had been diagnosed with Leukaemia. I remember the hell we went through on the first night in the hospital, Louise was just lying there looking up at me. She seemed unaware of what was going on but we were all scared to death.

Fortunately for us, the strain of the disease was the most curable, and that was the news I wanted to hear. I had read up on all the options overnight, and was getting prepared for the worst. So when the consultant told us – we were extremely grateful that with recent developments in treatment, that she had a 95% chance of survival. It was good enough for us.

My mum and dad came in every day and we all stayed through the night on a rotor as the chemo was taking its toll on Louise and in turn on us. Added to the fact that everyone was worried about how I was going to cope with the pregnancy after receiving the devastating news.

But nature has a way of protecting us, and when a young doctor said to me ‘you have to be strong, after all you don’t want three sick children’. These were the words I needed to hear and I began to regain my confidence.

That is when my partner and I decided to approach Future Health to store the stem cells for our new twins, apart from their protection, there was a one in four chance that Louise could utilise them too.


The representative from Future Health, Hannah was extremely helpful and sympathetic, and there were a multitude of questions I needed to ask her before we knew they were the right company for us.

It was something about the way they approached our situation, and their flexibility and simple approach. There was nothing scary about the otherwise daunting prospect of having a complete stranger at the birth, apart from the doctors and midwife, taking samples from the placenta.


The day arrived, I had been booked into hospital for a caesarean due to my situation. The Future Health specialist had been caught up in a train strike, but they promptly organised another representative to attend the birth at Kingston Hospital. I have little memory of it, but my partner assured me that it was very nonintrusive.

The report came that the samples were very strong indeed, and we now know that the future of our twins health is covered for all eventualities. We have the option of requesting them for our daughter too if we ever needed them.


As my parents always said, good always comes out of bad, and in this case the good is that we were introduced to Future Health, which has made a huge difference to our confidence as a family.

We would like to thank all concerned for making the process so effortless and reassuring, and would advise anyone who is thinking of stem cell capture to investigate Future Health for this procedure.


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Reading Time: 5 minutes


As the Summer sets in and we are watching a variety of sport on TV, and witness optimum health and fitness with our sports stars, we can only observe our own reflection in the mirror, and set out to shape up.

I did that recently, having lost a bit of extra weight I am proud to report, but needed to tone up.  As always, with a really busy schedule and juggling act between family and career, decided to try something a bit different that would fit into my programme.

Fending off the jeers of colleagues I decided to explore the local Bowling Club.  Oh I know what you are all thinking, elderly men in their airtex T shirts, and their ‘other halves’ watching on whilst sipping lemonade.

But to my amazement, the local Bowling club was filled with young singles and couples, as well as some even younger contenders as well as the over 60s as in any club.  They were welcoming and helpful, and I played my first bowling game ever under the watchful eye of a private coach at the club, and discovered I wasn’t bad at all.  Plus the exercise regime was not strenuous but steady with all the bending and stretching, and the social interaction good as everyone was so friendly.

The club manager offered that I come back again before joining to make sure I was comfortable in doing so, and so I went away with a completely different attitude to Bowling Clubs.

As luck would have it, I was then invited to my local Tennis Club by a local acquaintance, and although I had a secret desire to be an ace at Tennis, had never cut it at school and it had been years since I played so told them that I had no talent for the game at all.   In fact I would be embarrassingly bad!.  My colleague, who was one of the coaches at the club assured me that it did not matter at what level I played, he would be able to help and inspire me to play.

I was quite excited at the prospect, and so only last week I took myself off to the Tennis Club which is literally two minutes away from where I live, and was again greeted warmly with drinks on the terrace whilst watching a variety of tournaments played at very different levels.

It is now down to me to decide which one ticks all the boxes, because both of them are great options to have, and as well as toning up, will provide some great diversification which we all need in our lives.

It is also great that these local clubs are open after working hours and at weekends, and so there is no excuse not to join.  Even with a hectic diary, it is possible to fit in a couple of hours a week as a minimum of time to allow for yourself, and can easily be scheduled in with your weekly visits to yoga or the gym.

I will let you know which one I decide to join, and you never know, I may choose both.  There are no rules to joining clubs, apart from the rules of the clubs themselves, and once you have put your prejudice and self-doubt in your pocket, you will be ready to go.

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Reading Time: 6 minutes


As someone who has always taken risks in my career and personal relationships, I am always told that I look really calm and in control.

This is certainly the case most of the time these days, but I have suffered huge bouts of anxiety over the years, and for no particular reason. When the stress levels were at their peak, I would be mentored by an exceptional psychotherapist who would tell me to live through the anxiety, feel and experience it and come out the other side. He would say ‘so what sort of prejudice do you have against anxiety, it is part of life’. So instead of pushing it away, I would go into it more and then it would pass more quickly.

Nowadays I tend to be able to manage the stress levels far better and spend less time stressing about the future, because that is what anxiety is. My daughter, who is now in her twenties, reminded me recently when I was about to relapse into worry about some small issue in my life, saying ‘If you continue on this path, what message are you sending to the Universe’ – strong words of wisdom indeed, and those I have reiterated over and over again throughout her life. How timely that they should be reflected back to me.

So what has this to do with Vision Boards you may well ask, and that is a very good question.

As a result of this Mother/Daughter conversation, we both decided to create a Vision Board, to give ourselves an image of how we want our lives to look in the future.

Vision Boards are a culmination of all that we want to achieve in our lives, and they really do work. In my mentoring work, I always advise my mentees to create a five-year plan, which nine times out of ten they thank me for as their aspirations start to come true.

Vision Boards can be created as simply as you want, and should reside in a chosen area of your work space or most favoured room where you will see it the most.

You can create it from a very simple pin board using magazines, quotations, paintings or drawings or a combination of imagery acquired around the goals and aspirations in your mind’s eye.

Too good to be true? There is no such thing, and judging from the world-wide best seller ‘The Secret’ there is no limit to what you can achieve if you know what it is you desire.

Your vision can be as large or minute as you make it, and your ambitions could be huge and seemingly unrealistic, but according to recorded history, if you see and absorb your aspired goals each day, it does change your brain patterns and will set you on the road to changing the course of your life.

One case history recorded someone who had spent her entire career in an office as a PA, catering for the boss’s needs; after doing a course in NLP, funded by the firm, she completely changed the course of her career as she did her own Vision Board. She is now a ‘boss’ herself, but a far better one to her own assistant, as she has experienced the ‘dumbing down’ of subordinates from people in power.

Another friend closer to me had a wish list as a child that she put in a box for when she grew up, and she had written that she wanted to live in Central London and have six kids. For a career choice she wanted to be an actress and have a certain amount of money. She now lives in Holborn in a five-storey house, is married to a man who had two kids previously, and now has four of her own. She is also now starring in a well-known television series, her name remains anonymous for now! She had created her own ‘Vision Board’ long before it was fashionable to do so.

So when you begin to worry, spend time with it but not too long, and then start to visualise what you would like to happen in your life; thinking about the material aspects like the career, relationships, home and finances are important, but it is more about how good those material things make you feel. So remember to visualise the feelings of happiness you have had at certain times in your life and create a space on the Vision Board for those too.

After all, it is all about love and happiness at the end of the day, and if a Vision Board can help you to achieve these powerful sensations as well as your life ambitions, then your mission is well and truly accomplished.

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Reading Time: 5 minutes


What is it about arms that women don’t like? Our own arms I mean, and particularly the tops of our arms. It is true that our arms have been the comfort of many a baby, weeping teenager or saddened adult. For centuries our arms have laboured and toiled for us, and so why are we reluctant to bring our upper arms out in public, calling them names like ‘bat-wings’ or worse?

Having got all of the ‘why put down our arms’ questions out of the way, it is a fact that it is the one area of a female body that is considered the most unsightly.

It is true that even in the eighties, before I had kids and gained the baby weight, when my arms were quite trim and well-toned, I still yearned for the arms you see in airbrushed supermodel poses in magazines. Utterly impossible for most of us.

So let’s get the shaming psychology out of the way, and begin by getting real and understanding how we can improve those upper arm wobbly bits and start to bring them out into the open.

I am constantly reminded of mine as my grandchildren love to squeeze them in their hands slapping them from side to side, laughing at the sheer joy of Grandma’s wobbly bits, as I silently endure the humiliation, but not really minding too much, as anything to please the grandkids. But when we want to reveal our arms for a sexy dress or swimming costume, it is a completely different kettle of fish.

We can start with some easy exercises, which only have to be done for five minutes a day to make a difference.

Never mind the baked bean tins, although you can try that one as well, using them as weights. But my exercises are far more effective, and you start by stretching the arms out to the side and tipping them over with palms facing backwards until you feel a tightening in the upper arm region.  Draw them both towards the back so that they try to touch behind you, work toward that and get a little bit further every day.  Within a week you will see and feel a difference.

Make sure you moisturise your arms each day and really massage the upper arms to help tighten the skin, this again will also impact on the way you feel about this part of your body, and get you closer to loving the area that you have been trying to hide for decades.

If you are not ready to reveal, then cover up gracefully with a shawl or wrap, and try to purchase one that doesn’t enhance the fact that you have something to hide. In other words, go bold with colour as you would any garment, and be creative in the way you drape the material.

The other thing to be aware of is you are not alone, and share this alarming ‘attitude of arms’ with a huge percentage of women across the Western World. So be aware, take action and you will become well-armed in no time at all.

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Reading Time: 5 minutes


We have recently spoken about a major Detox, whether it be in your diet, alcohol intake or Digital activities, so now we have the most challenging, especially if you or your partner like to hang onto things that are well past their sell by date.

My parents were prime examples, so much so that some of their keepsakes actually came back into fashion after a few years.  It was actually my Dad who had the addiction to clutter, but was cleverly overcome by my Mum who packed the ‘rubbish’ into storage and put it in their very ample loft space in tidy boxes.

Nowadays, we are much better at throwing out unwanted belongings, especially furniture, ornaments and clothes – as they are easier to recycle or sell online or give to charity.

I recently had a major declutter, and feel a lot better for it, helped tremendously by a revolutionary book I’d heard about by Marie Kondo, a Japanese organising consultant, which began from friends comments on how she had transformed their lives.

The book is called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, which has sold millions of copies across the World.

Marie Kondo’s book is simple but instructive, and if you take it seriously, is revolutionary about how your approach clutter.

Her first instruction is to identify and put your hands on everything you own, asking yourself if it makes you feel good, and if it doesn’t, thank it personally and then dispose of it.

Secondly, once only your most joy-giving belongings remain, put every item in a place where they are visible, accessible, and easy to grab and then put back. Only then, she says, will you have accomplished your housekeeping happiness, and cleaning will be easier and more satisfying.

You may find this idea challenging at first, as a working mother or if you have lived in a house for a long time with a lot of precious memories embedded in ‘things’ around the house.  But according to an array of home owners and occupiers, who have followed the advice of Marie Konde, it is life changing and can become a blissful remedy to depression, anxiety and even lead to releasing endorphins that you didn’t know existed.

It may not surprise you if you have been following any of my articles in the past that I have tried this myself, and it began with my overly laden wardrobe of unwanted clothes, especially tops and jumpers.

It was hard at first to get rid of ‘favourites’ but I discovered I had several of the same type, and discovered I only wore one of each of them anyway.  So after eight black bags had been filled for the charity shop, I started to feel better and certainly more enlightened as Ms Kondo had suggested.

I am now starting on the home itself, and even if you really really don’t want to let go of old heir looms, then why not store them away in the loft to see how you feel with a clearer living space, which in feng shui speak, can only lead to a more productive clutter free future.

So for once I would advise ‘Do Try this at Home’.

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