Reading Time: 5 minutes


More than two decades ago I had a conversation with the lovely Actor, Alison Steadman, who was then married to legendary Film Director Mike Leigh.  They were already heavily into promoting environmental issues of pollution and waste, and educated me into the hazards of buying coloured loo paper, saying it was non-biodegradable.  I have bought the white stuff ever since.

So where did it all go wrong, and why is it only now we are being made aware of the amount of plastic in the World’s oceans, which is set to treble in the next decade unless drastic action is taken to prevent it.

We have been warned that plastic is one of the most enormous threats facing the world’s seas, along with metal and chemical pollution.

It has apparently been swept under the carpet or beds of the Ocean for decades, and now only as it is now at danger level are we on high alert where our sea waters are concerned.

The Netherlands, who are famous for their environmentally friendly approach, have led the way by opening the World’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle and other Nations are encouraged to follow.

But we need to take it further and take control through research and awareness before the problem escalates even more.

Louise Edge, Senior Oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK warns us “Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats facing our oceans, with items ranging from whole plastic bottles to tiny microplastics being found in seas all around the world”.

“If strong action isn’t taken now, the problem will get exponentially worse. More research is needed on the many different facets of plastic pollution, but it is already clear that we must end our relationship with throwaway plastic and find alternative packaging solutions which won’t harm our environment.”

Professor Edward Hill, executive director of the National Oceanography Centre, said it was time to change the “out of sight, out of mind” attitude to the world’s oceans.

He said the Blue Planet television series has helped people visualise what is going on in the oceans, provoking both wonder at what is down there and horror at the impact humans are having.

“It’s this sense of the unexplored world on our own planet, but also it’s important to us. We know less about the bottom of the sea than the moon or Mars, but nothing lives on the moon or Mars, but things live in our ocean and they’re vitally important to us,” he said.

More about: | plastic pollution | single-use plastics

If we want to contribute to the awareness of this alarming discovery, we can make a difference by creating plastic free awareness in our own homes, and pass the knowledge onto our kids, so that they lead by example.  If you click onto, it will give you some great tips for the start of your own plastic free awareness campaign.

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Reading Time: 5 minutes


It may seem these two disparate concepts are hardly related, but they often go hand in hand.

Many of us are labelled at birth by our parents, as the ‘clever’ one or the ‘creative’ one or even the ‘hopeless’ child, which is merely based on how they want us to live their lives.

I had a phone call last year from a close friend, distraught after her elderly Mother had thrown out some of her favourite clothes and childhood possessions.  Marianne had recently moved back in to look after her since her Mother’s physical and mental health had deteriorated, but had taken a short break away from the daily grind of being a constant carer.

On her return she had found her wardrobe and chest of drawers invaded, with half of the contents given away to charity.  My friend who already suffers from anxiety and self-doubt, was thrown into a major frenzy – and it took her several days to return to any sort of normality, blaming herself for abandoning her Mother.

This was however, the turning point for Marianne, who realised after several months of counselling that it was in fact her Mother’s way of getting Marianne to carry the rage and anxiety she had been feeling herself prior to her outburst.

Added to this Marianne had always been told that out of all of her siblings, she was the one who was the major disappointment, and would never make anything of her life.  On the contrary, she has been a high achiever, even more so than her two sisters, but who constantly seeks her Mother’s approval, which is never recognised in spite of her major accolades in her successful career in the City.

How many times do you hear in a marriage or relationship breakup, that the man or woman has to leave because his partner is ‘crazy’.    This always sits uncomfortably with me, because you can bet that they will go on to meet someone else and evoke the same pattern of behaviour in their new relationship.

Therapists and psycho analysts call this ‘projection’ as they are in fact again getting their partners to carry their anxiety or feelings of hopelessness so that they don’t have to.

If this is hard to digest, let me give you a very simple example of how it works and how toxic this type of ‘projection’ can be.  A close friend who is also an exceptional therapist had a new client several years ago who was suffering from depression, so badly that he wanted to end his life.  My therapist friend David spent the entire session baffled by his account of what had happened since his wife’s departure, and at the end of the session told her he felt he was carrying his partner’s feelings of desperation.   He left feeling a lot happier.

Two hours later his estranged wife called him saying she was feeling suicidal and wanted to give the relationship another go!  He thankfully declined, and as far as I know, has remained anxiety free ever since.

I hope this may be helpful to those of you who are suffering with anxiety and depression, because if you look closely, you may find some of it may not even be yours to carry.

If you or anyone you know are struggling please check out the following websites for
help or just for someone to talk to

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Discovering Yoga – A Lifelong Exploration – From Inactive Slug to Beautiful Butterfly

Discovering Yoga – A Lifelong Exploration – From Inactive Slug to Beautiful Butterfly

Reading Time: 11 minutes


I attended my first yoga class when I was 18 years old after signing up for an 8-week beginner’s course. I went along with my Mum because I was really self-conscious at that age, and reluctant to turn up anywhere on my own.

As a slightly rotund school leaver, emerging from my chrysalis of gruelling exams as an inactive slug rather than a beautiful butterfly, I had heard that yoga was good for losing weight and wanted to see what it was all about.

I dabbled with yoga on and off for the next 15 years or so, using the foundations I learnt during that course to slip in and out of classes without sticking to a regular practice. I have been a yoga tourist of sorts, attending classes whenever I’m on holiday in various locations and collecting t-shirts from the different studios. I literally have “been there and got the t-shirt”. These days I’ve been reading about yoga philosophy (stay tuned for my next article for more about this!) and am starting to understand that yoga is about more than just stretching and wearing the latest leggings. It is actually a physical, mental and spiritual practice with benefits far outreaching flexibility and strength (haha, out-reaching… get it?!). This has got me thinking about committing to my practice, and working out what sort of yoga I really want to pursue.

So, if you’re like me, a budding yogi or yogini, how do you choose a class that suits your lifestyle and philosophy? There is a myriad of yoga styles around these days, and although many are based on the same asanas (yoga poses) the classes can be vastly different. I’d like to share with you some of the knowledge I’ve picked up through personal experience as well as from my books to help you work out where to begin. Read on for a list of popular yoga styles.

Hatha Yoga: an umbrella-term for yoga styles that use a physical practice as a method of achieving enlightenment. Since the term “hatha” is used so broadly these days, it’s difficult to know what type of class you’re walking into. In most cases the class will be relatively slow (so the poses are held for longer) and gentle (good for beginners or those looking for a relaxed style). In general, hatha emphasises the yoga postures as well as breathing exercises, so provides a good mixture of strength and relaxation on a physical and mental level. The word “hatha” is sometimes translated to “ha” meaning sun and “tha” meaning moon, so it is about balancing and uniting opposites. Classical hatha classes are devoid of music, incense burning or acrobatic poses. Expect to get a little sweaty but not be completely worn out.

Vinyasa: this is also a general term for a collection of yoga styles. A class described as a “flow” class is a vinyasa style. This is an energetic style because the poses come in rapid succession and there is an emphasis on synchronising the breath with the movement. Sun salutations are often a feature.

Ashtanga Vinyasa: this style is based on an ancient text called the Korunta, and was developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. There are 6 Ashtanga series (set of poses carried out in a specific sequence) which increase in intensity. Linking movement to breath is emphasised. Power, flexibility and discipline are key to this style. If push-ups aren’t for you, then neither is this fast-paced style. If you are up to the challenge, the benefits are physical and mental strength and calmness.

Power Yoga: a fitness-based offshoot of Ashtanga yoga, developed in the US by Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest. It is vigorous style that will raise a sweat and increase strength, stamina and flexibility. It doesn’t follow a fixed sequence of poses; instead, the individual teacher designs their own sequences and the class can be even faster paced than traditional Ashtanga. Today, the term “power yoga” can describe many vigorous vinyasa styles.

Bikram Yoga: founded in India by Bikram Choudhury and seemingly taking over the world! Regardless of which Bikram class you walk into, the next 90 minutes will see you guided through the same sequence of 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises, in a room heated to 40°C with a humidity of 40%. The teachers even have a standardized dialogue to follow. The idea is that the heat promotes flexibility, speeds up your metabolism and flushes toxins. It is certainly challenging physically and mentally, and you may feel light-headed during your first class or two, but afterwards you’ll feel exhilarated. If you suffer from any major medical conditions, it’s not a class to be taken without your doctor’s say so. Remember to hydrate before, during and after! The Bikram phenomenon has led to the creation of “hot yoga” which is a class done in a heated room (not always as warm as 40°C) but without following the strict Bikram series. This can be really lovely for deepening your stretches if you’re a cold frog like me. A special hello to the lovely ladies at Hot Zen Yoga, Gerrards Cross, who were very welcoming when I was a tourist up their way.

Iyengar Yoga: this style was developed by the late B.K.S. Iyengar, an extremely influential Indian guru. Iyengar places a large emphasis on accurate musculoskeletal alignment, so a pose will be held for some time while you carefully adjust your body to achieve perfect positioning. Hence this style is much slower, but not necessarily easier, than other styles. Iyengar yoga utilises props such as blocks, straps, blankets or bolsters. The aim of this style is improvement in overall physical health. It is said to be helpful for tension and chronic pain.

Anusara Yoga: a relatively new style of yoga meaning “follow your heart”. Based on the hatha style, it was developed in the US by John Friend. The classes are energetic and importance is placed on precise alignment within the poses, so expect to get sweaty. With this style rooted in non-dual Tantric philosophy, you will find an emphasis on the greater spiritual purposes of the practice. The heart-space is a key theme, with many “heart-opening” poses. Classes begin with an invocation or centering and conclude with Savasana and/or meditation. The aim is for students to leave stronger, more flexible, and feeling uplifted and empowered by revelation of their divine nature.

Sivananda Yoga: a form of hatha yoga developed by the late Swami Sivananda in India. The five principles of this type of yoga are proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet (vegetarian), and positive thinking / meditation. There are 12 poses in this style, and they focus on developing strength and flexibility of the spine.

Kundalini Yoga: this is quite a unique form of yoga. Its main aim is to awaken the sleeping consciousness (the energy at the base of the spine) and draw it upwards through each of the 7 chakras to release a powerful, positive life force. This is achieved through movements like twisting, rocking, singing, humming, jumping and wheezing. The movements are often repeated for minutes at a time and are synchronised with the breath. It leaves you feeling like you’ve had a fairly decent workout, and is said to be helpful for back injuries, insomnia, and concentration. It’s even said to lead to enlightenment.

Yin Yoga: if you’re familiar with the principle of yin and yang in Chinese philosophy, you’ll understand that yin is passive and feminine while yang is active and masculine. Yin yoga therefore is about passive stretches and introspection, in contrast to styles like Ashtanga and Bikram which promote heat and motion. The aim of yin yoga is to achieve deep stretching and move into deep relaxation. This is done by placing moderate levels of stress on your connective tissues to improve circulation to your joints and muscles. You won’t find strenuous poses such as sun salutations. Rather, many of the poses are performed sitting or lying, and are held for 3 to 5 minutes (not always easy!). This is a lovely relaxing form of yoga but not without its challenges.

Nidra Yoga: the aim of this style of yoga is to achieve the deepest possible state of relaxation whilst maintaining full consciousness. Your teacher will not guide you through any poses, but rather they guide your attention through different parts of your body and through a series of visualisations and emotions while you lie completely still. This form of yoga is amazing for reducing stress and anxiety (and can even be helpful for serious conditions such as PTSD) and is said to enable you to enter deeper levels of your mind’s consciousness. The hardest part is trying not to fall asleep while you are so deliciously relaxed.

Needless to say, this is not an exhaustive list of yoga styles. You may also have heard about kids yoga, pregnancy yoga, chair yoga, laughter yoga, acro-yoga, restorative yoga…. Phew!

Nothing can replace the guidance of an expert yoga teacher, so it is highly recommended that you join a local class to develop your yoga practice. However, for practice at home there are excellent free resources available online, such as the very comprehensive Canadian-based DoYogaWithMe (


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Reading Time: 17 minutes


When I met Steve Spiegel at Pinewood Studios last week it was like being in the presence of a famous rock star with the charisma of a guru. One thing for sure, I knew there was something special about this man, now in his prime, and as he related his experiences, I felt it important to share his inspiring story with the rest of the World.

With the acceptance of mental health issues taking many forms, from anxiety and depression to lack of self-esteem and dysmorphia or bad body image, Steve had experienced them all.

Steve Spiegel

To combat the internal turmoil Steve turned to drink and then drugs, and so when he eventually freed himself of the habit, he felt he had ‘served his apprenticeship’ and opened The Provy, a revolutionary rehab centre in Bournemouth in the mid-nineties.

He had fierce opposition both locally and from many authorities, but soldiered on and it is now a successful and respected concern, and although ‘retired’, he continues to work there as a counsellor three days a week.

Steve also has no intention of slowing down, and is again developing and implementing private counselling sessions and workshops with people with dysmorphia and body image issues.

Born in November 1948 to two hard working Londoners, Steve’s childhood was one of sadness. His Dad was disabled so was unable take him to football or do the normal things that dads could do with their sons.

‘He was unsteady on his feet’ says Steve ‘it was traumatic as a kid when he fell over or fell down the stairs but he was a good man though and really wise.

At home we all did chores together such as cooking and cleaning and I was pretty self-sufficient from an early age.

I also hated the way I looked. People said I was good looking but that’s not how I felt.  I was aware of my bony shoulders, skinny arms and legs and knobbly knees.  I wouldn’t let people see any of these and tried to keep myself covered and often wore a couple of jumpers to make myself look bigger and hide my shoulders.

I thought I was a nice kid, but people who knew me back then said I was angry and not someone to cross. I got involved in lots of fights, but that was usually me fighting other people’s battles and running from my own. I was a very good scrapper but I hated it. The problem I had was, I never backed down as it would have just added to my shame of feeling inferior.

By the way, I’m not trying to make excuses, as the above certainly affected my self-esteem, but I don’t believe that it made me an addict or alcoholic.  I did however want to change my reality, which I succeeded in doing with my addictive behaviour pattern.

My happy memories were of music and football. I could mime in front of the mirror and be whoever I wanted to be, especially by jumping about to various tracks on our radiogram.

Then rock n roll came along and my sister had a few records and I’d play them alone in her bedroom. I have now discovered so much about that time and how certain events affected the little self-esteem I had left. The shame I felt about being ‘less than’ was paralyzing.

It was then I discovered alcohol.  I was about 11 or 12 when I stole some money from my dad and bought a bottle of very cheap sherry, I then went to the bedroom and drank it. My bony shoulders seemed to disappear as did my skinny arms and legs. I’d found a solution.

Drugs and alcohol seemed to give me confidence. They took away my inhibitions and I embarked on a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Over the years it became more serious and I couldn’t stop. Getting into dangerous situations was a pretty regular occurrence and I became involved with dangerous people and was well out of my depth.’

Then after years of drug and alcohol addiction, a visit from an old friend helped Steve to understand how deeply in trouble he was and he agreed to attend a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous.

After the death of his beloved Father, Steve continued in his recovery, relapsing several times.

Then after a terrible experience with his drug dealer, in spite of not being at all religious Steve went home and sank on his knees and said

‘God, please help me as I can’t go on.’ 

Shortly after that Steve booked himself into to a West Country treatment centre.

‘I hated it there but it saved my life. I was completely broken, physically, spiritually, mentally and financially. I asked them to stop my detox on the night of November 26th as the next day was my birthday and I wanted to be clean for it. I’ve not used since. I have now been 27 years clean and sober.

I went back into music and managed a couple of people and then went to this music conference in Manchester where I’d been asked to speak. After really embarrassing myself I realised this was no longer for me. I fled the place and got home safely.

I started work as a volunteer in a street drug agency in south London and enrolled at Birkbeck College for a counselling course which I passed with distinction.

`I then joined The Priory to work in their new rehab centre in Jersey. I was there for three months and in that time had been formulating an idea for a new type of treatment centre. I had meetings with various places and although they were interested, I didn’t feel they were what I was really looking for.

Through a strange set of circumstances, I met a Bournemouth GP, Dr Peter Turnbull. I’d put a plan together on what was then a revolutionary type of abstinent based treatment on the back of a customary envelope and had presented it to him.

Peter was of the same mindset as me when it came to the type of treatment delivery I had envisaged and was keen to get started. Peter and I hit it off and he said I could have a room in his surgery in which to deliver the therapeutic programme I’d devised and I could share an office. He agreed to prescribe the detox and other medication and I did the rest.

I asked Peter to suggest a name? He responded with ‘The Providence Projects’ which I loved. I went home and looked up the word ‘Providence’ in the dictionary and Providence it became. We registered with the help of a friend as a ‘Non-Profit Making’ organisation.

Providence Projects

After using drugs and alcohol for over a quarter of a century I was 3 years 10 months clean and sober and ready to take on my new mantel of trying to rescue those suffering from a variety of addictive disorders. Whilst using I was prepared to go to any lengths to get my drugs and now, I was just as determined to continue to maintain my recovery and help others. It turned out to be my calling I guess and it fitted like a glove.

We opened The Providence Projects on the 12th September 1996. 

In the beginning there was a lot of hostility towards us but we soldiered on. I heard people say that I was too early in recovery to run such a place.

The papers ran a big spread on ‘Ex-Junkie Runs Treatment Centre’ and The Sunday Telegraph ran a magnificent piece in their magazine entitled ‘Heroin by the Sea’ which didn’t go down too well with the local dignitaries. It was also different to all the other treatment centres being GP (and ex-junkie!) led and we initially called it Quasi-Residential Treatment.

The patients or clients would live in the accommodation we had rented and come in to our centre for treatment every day. The philosophy being that fully residential treatment centres were good, but what happens when they complete treatment after being sheltered from the real world for a period of time.

Room at Providence Projects

We wanted people to experience the ‘real world’ on a daily basis and as we felt there was safety in numbers, and each house had to keep together. We also encouraged laughter and took the clients out weekly for fun activities. We felt it was important for people to see that life could be fun without alcohol and other drugs.

An initiative called Safer Cities gave us a grant of £5,000 and the local Bail Hostel in Boscombe gave us a contract to treat three or four clients of theirs at a time.

The first two clients were Johnny Handsome and Jamie O’. I’d met them in treatment when I relapsed and they’d really helped me stay put. Now here they were as our first two clients. Our third client, Suzie was someone I’d spoken to in London previously and she wanted help. Suzie is still clean; Johnny has moved away but we occasionally communicate and he is enjoying life. Jamie unfortunately eventually lost his battle with drugs and died.

Around this time my partner (now wife) Carole closed her Company and moved down to Bournemouth. After a few months and after a few financial mishaps Carole joined me at ‘The Provy’ becoming the administrative engine behind it all and I have to say that Carole, Peter and myself made a formidable team and a power for good.

After a year we moved to what was then a ramshackle building just by The Crescent. This is where the street dealing had previously gone on. The dealing moved to another location when we opened. From day one we were full and it was my belief that we should never have an empty bed and I’d drag people in off the streets for treatment.

We started to get contracts from various social service departments and then one from Transport for London. Various charities also started to use us and we grew from strength to strength. The most important thing to me was seeing people get well. We always had a few free spaces as we were in a position to do so in those days as we also had funding from the surgery and a contract with the local police.

The past few years has seen a dreadful cut in funding for treatment and so many centres have had to close as a result.

We then won a tender for the delivery of treatment to those on DTTO’s (Drug Treatment Testing Orders). Although we were an abstinent based 12 Step centre and we didn’t comply with some of the terms of the tender, we were still awarded it for the whole of Dorset. For three years running we had the best outcomes in the country by a country mile. Then the goal posts were moved and we were told our treatment was too intensive.

The fact that we were one of the least expensive in the country didn’t come into it nor did the fact that during this three-year period only one of the clients was arrested and over 65% successfully completed our programme clean and sober. I’d better get off my soap box as I can really go on about this one.

At the time we were delivering treatment in Bournemouth and Weymouth. We eventually closed Weymouth and purchased two buildings in Bournemouth.

Every year we hold a reunion, usually at the Royal Bath Hotel where we put on a banquet and entertainment for ex and current clients. Ex peers would be invited to share their experience of treatment and say how their lives are today.

I could write so much about the Provy, so many stories but maybe I can sum it up by saying, we’ve had thousands of people come through our doors but when you think that addiction not only affects the addict and alcoholic, the eating disordered and the gamblers it also affects their loved ones, family members and the community as a whole. So, when one addict/alcoholic recovers the knock-on effect is enormous. So many people’s lives improve.

With regard to the people who worked with us. The majority were originally clients who went on to study and then came back to work at The Provy and most of them have been there for many years.

Carole, Peter and I retired about 7 years ago. Carole’s son Paul now owns The Provy but I was missing working with clients so much I currently sneak back three mornings a week to take group therapy and deliver workshops and just generally speak to the clients.

My future Plans: 

I’m currently planning to put in place another revolutionary idea regarding treatment for addicts and alcoholics together with family members and/or loved ones so they can all recover together. It’s a really important element that is missing in order for loved ones to understand exactly what drives the addict and what they go through and also for the addicted person to understand how their addiction has impacted upon the family or loved ones. It may also be about fresh beginnings. I’ve only just decided to do this so I’ve just drafted a temporary webpage that doesn’t say much as yet but does detail some of the services I offer.

I also plan to reopen my Body Image workshops and groups which have been extremely successful over the years in helping those suffering from Dysmorphia and Eating Disorders.

So much for retirement!!

Should anyone require details about accessing The Providence Projects or other treatment facilities, interventions, family therapy or other services offered, or to find out about Steve’s future plans you can contact him on 

T. +44 (0)7880 990 990


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Passions run High at the County Register

Passions run High at the County Register

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Passions run High at the County Register by Tracey Cater

If you have any reservations about dating, Tracey will put you mind to rest as she talks about her confidential and proven approach as a dating Dating Adviser for The County Register, an exclusive introductions agency.

‘In my role as a Membership Adviser, I make sure that there is total transparency and honesty throughout the process, for new clients joining The County Register. Our clients are professional men and women who expect, and deserve, an elite service.’

Tracey speaks with conviction as she describes her unique approach:

‘Previously, I have carried out roles as both a Matchmaker and Matchmaking Manager. Just like the rest of my fellow employees at The County Register, I am absolutely passionate about the personal introductions we provide for our clients. Those who join us are all looking for a long lasting, loving relationship. Many have been through heartbreak and loss of some sort, so our approach to all of our members is one of sensitivity, compassion and professionalism.

Online dating is usually discussed during an initial consultation, as many people have suffered bad experiences. I make it clear that the service we offer is 100% confidential and also that our clients are all ID checked, using a verification system provided by Lexus Nexus.

My attitude towards my role is to guide a client through the joining process, managing their expectations and making sure they have chosen the membership that best suits their needs. I am one of a very hardworking and honest team of people. We all operate with integrity and emotional involvement. I absolutely love my job and I’m incredibly proud to work for The County Register, alongside an amazing group of individuals.  With our wide experience of personal matchmaking, we understand the uncertainties you may feel. It may be some years since you were dating; other issues, such as a career or family may have taken priority, or you may have reached the stage where you are ready to share your life with someone – you just haven’t met that person yet. An important part of our service is to advise, counsel and listen to your concerns.

I’d love to speak with if you’d like to find out more about dating with The County Register.  Please do call me, for an informal chat on 0800 644 4110 or email:’


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