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Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Fear not, there is life after your kids leave the nest

Monday, October 28th, 2013

It is only natural to feel a sense of loss or despair when your children fly the nest.  After years of devoting your time and attention to them, you may feel a dip in your sense of purpose and direction. But fear not, life as you know it may have changed – but as they say, change can be as good as a holiday!

Although your children have left home, your sense of self hasn’t.  You are a parent as well as a woman – a woman with dreams, desires, interests and ambitions. Having less parental responsibility frees up your time and attention – use this freedom to focus on other areas of your life, including yourself! See this new chapter as an opportunity to accomplish the things you felt you never had the time to do.

A few ideas to get you started:

Use your time creatively:

Consider volunteer work – there is an endless list of organisations and charities to choose from.

A helping hand is always a highly sought after commodity. Not only will this give you a renewed sense of purpose, you will also be making a positive difference in your community.

Consider joining, or better yet, STARTING a club. Whether it is a book club, art club or dinner club, it is a wonderful way to learn from and share your knowledge with other women. Clubs are a great platform for growth, connecting with like-minded people and socialising.

Focus on yourself – goals, physical health and forgotten ambitions.

With all of your newfound free time, there is no more room for excuses. Getting your health in order should now be a priority for you; incorporate exercise into your daily routine, cook and eat healthily, go for regular check-ups and pay attention to your emotional and mental health.

Also, now is a fabulous time to pick up a new skill. Whether you have always wanted to be a master chef, a fabulous seamstress or have gifted green fingers – you now have the time and energy to invest in learning something new. There is always room to learn and grow.

It is never too late to realise those dreams that were put on the backburner when your parental responsibilities took centre stage .If you see yourself running a marathon or your own business, now is the time to take those steps towards making those dreams a reality.

Review your living situation

Nowadays the talk is all about downsizing, cutting costs and reducing all those house and garden jobs. If you no longer want to live in a spacious house with empty bedrooms, a long term care home is an excellent alternative. There are many fabulous options for long term care facilities that will incorporate an active, exciting lifestyle with all the comforts of home.

And remember – modern technology and social media are very powerful tools. You are now able to keep in touch with your children using interactive social media programs and user friendly technology. Your loved ones are now just a click or a phone call away.

When your children fly the coop, don’t see it as a loss – see it as a magnificent chance to live, learn and grow, not only for you, but for your family too!


Indignant baby boomer speaks out

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Why is baby boomer a reviled word?

In every paper nowadays you will read comments like” the baby boomer generation is an ageing population that will put too heavy a burden on taxpayers” or “pensioners sitting on a million spare rooms”. Then there was Jeremy Paxman who said he feels “shame” at being a baby boomer and causing our children to suffer. Then he went on to muse about compulsory euthanasia ! Well, speak for yourself Jeremy!

Did we really have it all?

I can remember a childhood of one holiday a year at the chilly English seaside(although I never remember it raining). Our mum did the food shopping on the bus and in the school holidays I was expected to do it with her, carrying heavy baskets back a not inconsiderable distance home from the bus stop. She made my dresses (my lucky brother escaped that ignominy) and she turned our sheets “sides to middle”. My birthday present would be a new Cindy doll and the latest Enid Blyton. Until the late 60′s we watched a black and white TV, and we only got central heating installed after the particularly vicious winter of 1963. At meal times we were all expected to either wash up, dry up or put away. My granny wore corsets and enormous bloomers and carried all her wordly possessions around in a vast handbag – so no change there in handbag fashions then. As I became a teenager a new item of clothing was saved up for and regarded with great pride in my small wardrobe.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Life was happy and we appreciated the simple pleasures. Children’s parties were a trip to the woods and a picnic, or a cheerful afternoon spent playing ‘blind man’s buff’ or ‘guess how many things there were on the tray’. There was no stressful competition as to who spent the most on party bags or had the biggest bouncy castle.

Fast track to now, and what a difference! Many families have one car or two. Children really do have everything. Have you tried to buy something for a six year old grandchild who already has all the latest toys, a new bike, a wardrobe full of clothes and every toy and book under the sun.  If you have grandchildren, don’t tell me you haven’t been met with that annoying phrase ‘ oh I’ve already got that! Parents spend fortunes on one up-man-ship parties, spend £’00′s on birthday and Christmas presents, have all the latest gadgets and holidays abroad are the norm. Cruising round shopping centres is a pastime, wardrobe sizes have expanded exponentially and everyone has a car. No one saves money doing DIY, makes their curtains or even takes a hem up.

Whilst my generation were careful with money, and saved every penny for a house deposit, the DINKY generation (double income no kids) eat and drink out a lot, go on exotic holidays buy designer handbags, and fashion themselves on Imelda Marcos. Good for them, really I am happy for them, but then that’s their lifestyle and consumer spending choice. They yearn for the independence of living away from home and owning a house, but maybe they could do what I did and live at home to save up for a deposit?

I’m not saying that we baby boomers were not lucky too – we had free university education, the Pill without Aids, the swinging sixties (sadly I was too young to indulge in them!) and jobs were plentiful.

BUT we worked very hard, we paid our taxes, we saved money, we looked after our grandparents and now many of are taking care of our own parents. We bought our own houses, and it is only in the last 10 years that homeownership has suffered so badly. You can blame it on baby boomers as an easy target if you want, but I suggest you look to the banks and the city on that one. Strangely not every baby boomer is a retired fat cat city slicker!!

Some of us do have spare income, but where do you think the boomerang generation and elderly parents live? Who do you think supports the arts, does all the voluntary work and organises fund raisers for charities? I can assure you that most things that are voluntary and public spirited would crumble into dust without we baby boomers. We support both our parents and our children financially, and much though our children love us, I can’t really see them doing the same for us when we become elderly, so it’s just as well we have a house to sell to fund our old age.

Anyway, that’s it, gripes over- just cut out all this resentment band wagon rubbish, and stop all the baby boomer sniping or it will set me off again.


Having fun with your girlfriends

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

It is so easy to become wrapped up in our lives and become ensconced in the humdrum of daily activities and chores that one is likely to forget about setting aside quality time for ourselves to have some fun with our girlfriends. Yes, I say ‘girlfriends’ and not ‘female friends’ because in essence we will always remain young at heart if we strive to keep excitement and playfulness in our lives.

The problem with saying we’re going to get together to do a craft or something similar is that there is a great likelihood of something ‘more important’ coming up or that no one will take charge and organise the event and thus it will never happen. The solution? Formalise the arrangement and form your own little club.

A good place to start would be to speak to your girlfriends and find out who would be interested in getting together once a month with the purpose of exploring a new craft, trying out a new activity, going out for a meal, or even something simple like going for a gentle hike or walk. The options are endless. Once you receive commitment from your friends, draw up a roster of who will be in charge of organising the get together each month. Because we aren’t all multi-millionaires and because most of us are following a budget, discuss and decide upon a maximum amount that each event should cost. Brainstorm ideas of the type of things your group would be interested in doing and make sure that each member receives a copy for future reference. Just as one may, with a click of a button, take a look at an online slot selection, so your list would act as a reference guide to the type of activities your friends prefer to do. If you wish to take it a step further, create an online blog or Facebook group where you can record all your events, remind members or upcoming plans and keep an album of photographs which you can easily refer back to at any stage.

You may also decide that the person who is organising the particular month’s activities needs to bring along, for example, a chocolate for each member or some sort of inspirational card or memento. All in all, your club is what you make of it. You deserve quality time with your friends and unless you give priority to it, you may possibly find that by the end of the year you’ve only achieved a small percentage of the things you set out to do. If you start this month, imagine all the wonderful experiences you will have to look back on in a year’s time.


Support Hugh’s Fish Fight

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Hugh’s Fish Fight

No-one who has seen Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on TV, and his outrage at the waste of good fish being thrown back into the sea could fail to see how ridiculous and appallingly wasteful the EC fishing policy is. Half of all fish, like cod and seabass, caught in the North Sea has to be thrown back overboard – dead! Join Hugh’s Fish Fight now to support his fight against regulations imposed by the EC Fisheries Commission and MEPs.

We all accept that the North Sea fishing grounds have been over exploited and stocks are very much depleted compared with a decade ago, so something had to be done. But surely this waste of good food is criminal. Our fishermen cannot help but catch non-quota fish in their nets  – the North Sea is largely a mixed fishing ground and they can’t pick and choose which fish swim into their nets. According to EC regulations, they can catch these non quota fish in their nets, but then they must be picked out and thrown back into the sea, even though they are dead. In 2008 the EU estimated that between 40% and 60% of all fish caught by trawlers in the North Sea was discarded, including all the common endangered fish like cod and bass. Complete madness!

The thing is that fishermen may want haddock, but if they catch cod, for example, in addition to haddock, the cod can’t be landed if their quota of cod has already been caught. So the only legal option is for the cod to be discarded at sea. Perfectly good fish – some of the best fish in the world, fresh, healthy, valuable – end up overboard, and disposed of as ‘discard’. The trawler men don’t like it either and, given that the fish are caught and are dead anyway, they would rather have quotas measured by weight rather than species. That way they could then sell what they catch, instead of  landing twice as much fish as they need to fill a fish specific quota, and then having to discard it.

There is a huge groundswell of people registering their disgust and the fisheries minister has pledged to do something about it so, if you feel this terrible waste of over exploited fish is wrong too go to Hugh’s Fish Fight  sign up now, and add your voice to the protests.


How are your New Year resolutions going?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Ok, so they are a bit late, but I’m a firm believer that if New Year’s resolutions are to stand any chance of attainment then they are not to be rushed into. What’s that expression about acting in haste and repenting at leisure?

1.Firm up sagging muscles on tummy, thighs and arms by doing regular weight and resistance exercises. Step one (the easy bit) is complete as I have now bought a pair of dumbells.

2. Do more walking. Drag husband out at weekends, preferably ensuring there is a good pub en route for some (low calorie of course) sustenance. Book at least one big walk a week with girl friends. I really do think that at this time of year, with such low light levels, getting out into the fresh air is so beneficial. 

3. Wear sunscreen at all times. A beautician recently took a photo of my face with one of those cameras that picks up all the sun damage, and I was horrified at all the mottled brown patches.

4. Cook at least one new “never cooked by me before” dish each week, which will get me back looking at my stash of recipe books for inspiration. Here is the first one, chicken with cannelini beans and chorizo:

5. Bake some interesting bread – I have a ‘dough raising’ temperature setting on the oven so there really is no excuse.

Sloe spotting

6. Pick next autumn’s sloes earlier for sloe gin. Have you ever tried to pick prickly tiny sloes when someone else has got there before you and taken all the big low down ones? Leave it late and then also your sloe gin isn’t ready for Christmas.

7. Go on a cookery course to learn a new style of cooking.

8. Power clean the paving round the house so that we don’t dice with a slippery path when going to the bin.

9. Sort out the shed. All those never to be used plastic pots, tools put away unclean and unoiled, mower all clagged up with grass cuttings sort of thing. Then get husband off into the garage to do the same thing.

10. Improve my Italian which I am plodding on with. The trouble is remembering it all.

So there you go. I feel there should be more, but 10 is enough to be getting on with for the moment. wish me luck, and good luck with yours too.


Thoughts on assisted suicide

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Not a very Christmassy topic I know, but it is as good a time as any to contemplate it when one hears of friends’ parents suffering a slow lingering death. Why is it that we can put our pets to sleep to save them from suffering, yet we still condemn elderly and terminally ill people who are wracked with pain to a terrible lingering existence?

Faced with an ever aging population and ever more sophisticated ways of keeping a body functioning when the mind has long gone, this matter must now be properly addressed by parliament.  Surely it is far better to have a calm and painless death, a ‘good’ death if you wish, in the comfort and peace of your own home.

Current guidelines say that prosecution is unlikely when there is compassionate assistance to help a loved one die, but it still leaves a lot of doubt as to whether or not a loving helper would be prosecuted. Why is parliament so slow to move on this, when over 80% of the population would welcome a more definitive ruling?

Personally I think that a person should be allowed access to a painless assisted death if the only other option is unending intolerable pain. Who are we, who are sound in mind and body, to condemn a person to a living death that they would far rather end? Or indeed to force them into the only other expensive alternative at the moment, which is travelling to Switzerland to die in a soulless place far from home, at a date earlier than they would wish whilst they can still make the journey. Furthermore this is a very elitist option, as many cannot afford the associated costs. That of course assumes that the person can communicate their wishes. For those imprisoned in their bodies, denied the right of self-termination, there is at the moment no escape from their tortured lives.

I believe that currently legislation is only being contemplated to cover those who are terminally ill, rather than chronic pain sufferers that find it all too much to bear.

As the baby boomer generation lives longer, and indeed is now becoming the older generation, we need to think how do we want to end our days? In control, protecting our family and friends from prosecution, or kept going on drugs and machines in a twilight of non-existence? Will you have the choice?


I am a regular reader and huge admirer of Melanie Read, the Times columnist who suffered an appalling and paralysing accident when she fell off her horse over a year ago. She said that she ‘sometimes gets angry enough to wish that a few bishops, palliative care people and campaigners from Care not Killing were in my skin….facing my future’. Condemning people to a terrible lingering rather than a good death in the circumstances of their choosing is, she says, a scandal. I must say I agree.


Dear Drivers, I thought you should be aware of this email from the Met Police

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Dear Drivers, I thought you should be aware of this email I received.

Please read this important message from Crime Stoppers…

While driving on a rural end of the roadway on Thursday morning, I saw an infant car seat on the side of the road with a blanket draped over it. For whatever reason, I did not stop, even though I had all kinds of thoughts running through my head. But when I got to my destination, I called the Police and they were going to check it out. But, this is what the Police advised even before they went out there to check…..

“There are several things to be aware of … gangs and thieves are now plotting different ways to get a person (mostly women)to stop their vehicle and get out of the car.

“There is a gang initiation reported by the local Police where gangs are placing a car seat by the road…with a fake baby in it…waiting for a woman, of course, to stop and check on the abandoned baby. “Note that the location of this car seat is usually beside a wooded or grassy (field) area and the person — woman — will be dragged into the woods, beaten and raped, and usually left for dead. If it’s a man, they’re usually beaten and robbed and maybe left for dead, too.




Please talk to your loved ones about this. This is a new tactic used. Please be safe.


I’m fed up having to defend myself as a baby boomer!

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

I’m fed up having to defend myself as a baby boomer!

Suddenly everyone is anti we ‘baby boomers’ and empty nesters. And that’s before the granny bashing that has gone on post budget. It seems to have pitched the generations against each other.

Ok,  so yes my generation have had free university fees, but actually I was the first in my family to go to university. I was on almost the maximum grant and my parents had to make a lot of financial sacrifices for me to go.  If I had had to pay fees on top, the BB bashers would say that they were very low anyway (as indeed in comparison to fees nowadays they would seem to be) and they would have been paid off by now ( it was over 30 years ago so that would be likely anyway), and I would still get it in the neck as being ‘privileged’.

Yes I have been fortunate to have worked through the decades that saw a boom in house prices, but I still started off my married life as a lodger, renting a one bedroom flat at the top of a house in Bromley, and our one holiday a year was camping in France.  We certainly had no spare cash for clubbing, and our wardrobes were not stuffed with shoes and handbags. The way everyone is talking nowadays makes me think younger generations assume we just pinged into comfortable middle class by magic -they should know it has taken us 40 years of hard work!

And to end my muttering, a woman I spoke to the other day sounded positively resentful of the fact that,as new empty nesters, we were out there enjoying ourselves. Well, after 21 years of child care and related expenses, why on earth shouldn’t we in the short gap before we start looking after elderly parents and begin getting old ourselves.

Thats it – moan over!

How to make new friends when your nest is empty

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Article by Gill Buchanan, Founder of

For many of us, when we get to a certain lifestage, kids leave home (or you wish they would!),  maybe you relocate, meeting new people is not always easy. What I find is that women are getting to this stage in their life and rather than hanging up their lipstick they want to do more and get more out of life. That’s why I set up Hens Dancing which is a women’s social group with monthly meetings happening across the South east and now, with our franchise opportunity, spreading throughout the UK.

I often get asked, ‘what is it actually like turning up at a Hens Dancing social event?’

Most women come on their own the first time and for some that’s a bit of a daunting prospect. The great thing about Hens Dancing is that all the meetings are hosted and from walking through the door you will be greeted with a warm welcome and be introduced to other members so you soon feel comfortable and can relax.

I love that quote by William Butler Yeats:

“There are no strangers here, only friends who haven’t yet met.”

It is so apt for Hens Dancing. I have hosted Coffee Mornings to launch new groups where 25 – 40 women who don’t know each other turn up and within minutes, lively conversation and laughter fill the room – it is so amazing to see. Often anyone turning up late assumes that everyone else knows each other!

I think the reason for this is that when you get a group of women together there’s a special camaraderie filling the air. Women are quick to find out what they have in common, to share life’s challenges and to be supportive of one another.

This is why all our meetings have a social element. So if we’re going to the theatre we meet for supper first, or if we are having a speaker we have a chance to mingle over a buffet and lots of our events are pure social fun from afternoon teas to supper clubs.

Hens Dancing works well for those that are on their own and want to make new friends and works equally well for those that are married but enjoy a night out with the girls.

To find out more about setting up a group in your area and our franchise opportunity go to:

To see some of the hens in action go to our You tube channel.

Happy Jubilee Memories

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

What a fabulous weekend of celebrations. We started it off with a party in the garden with a bunch of close friends, with bags of sunshine and an appearance by her majesty.

Jubilee chicken, red white and blue puddings and jubilee cupcakes.

Then next day off to the River Pageant. I have never seen such crowds, whole generations of families, picnics in the middle of the embankment, toasting the Queen and eating sausage rolls, seeing that fabulous procession of boats.

Then getting soaked through and battling our way back over London Bridge to the strains of the Royal Philharmonic to the challenge of getting onto a train.

Yesterday  was an early start as our big tent from saturdays lunch took off from its guy ropes and hurtled round the garden at 5.30 am with us in hot pursuit. Then down to decorating a huge Jubilee cake with a friend for 8o villagers and a morning of cake baking.

We had a joyful village street party with everyone enjoying cucumber sandwiches and jubilee cake. It was a huge turnout from the newest born to the oldest residents.

A short break and then a bring your own supper for 300 in a barn and under a full moon the village Jubilee Beacon was lit and the queen’s health was toasted.

Back to watch the Jubilee concert last night, I was left speechless by Grace Jones,  those incredible graphics on the palace and the fireworks. A quiet day today glued to the TV, although I then really wished I had gone up again to wave my flags.

A feast of super and joyful celebrations for a fabulous Queen