Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Pelvic Flaws

Alternative titles I considered for this post were Mrs Vicar's Knicker Stickers, and The Bottom Line. If that's already too much information, and you feel that a post about feminine hygiene will put you off your breakfast or afternoon tea, then may I respectfully suggest you go and watch an edifying and amusing DIY film by Big Clive instead, and come back here tomorrow.
I have debated long and hard about posting this one, but as I am trying to be more eco-conscious and this is one significant change which I have made to my lifestyle, I thought it was worth sharing. And this is World Continence Week [yes, that is a thing!] and gussets are the topic of the day after my MP's outburst last week.
Bottom line - I am a woman in my early sixties, and I'm past the menopause. My first pregnancy was difficult, and there were problems when the doctor stitched me up after Liz was born ['stitched me up' is an understatement] Fortunately the doctor who saw me after Steph's birth was great and said "I think we can repair some of that damage". But I subsequently needed a colposuspension operation to treat incontinence issues and a prolapsed bladder. 
I'm grateful my op was before the great pelvic mesh scandal which has blighted the lives of so many women. I am truly sorry for the way they have suffered. However, I still experience the occasional leak. I calculated that my use of sanpro and pantliners has contributed more than 20,000 pieces of plastic to landfill in the past 45 years. Every liner has a plastic strip, every tampon comes wrapped in plastic, and then there's the outer packaging...I feel bad about that. 
If I were younger, I'd definitely be using a Mooncup each month. These reusable devices cost under £20 and last for years - conservative estimates show the average British woman spends in excess of £1000 on sanpro in her lifetime, and 1.5 billion items of sanpro are flushed each year in the UK.
So, what have I done about it? I heard about Thinx - a company in the USA which produces 'period-proof undies' - you wear 'em and wash 'em. Admittedly, they have had mixed reviews, and some women say they have had problems with leaks and stains. But the Thinx company then decided to tackle feminine incontinence, and produced a range called "Icon- pee-proof-panties" 
I am alarmed by the growing popularity of Tena Lady briefs. The cost [around £200 p.a.] is bad enough - but just think how much plastic is going into landfill. And however hard the ads try to persuade me that they are a glamorous solution to a potentially embarrassing problem, these are, quite frankly, Pampers Disposable nappies for grown-ups.
I appreciate that OAPs in a Care Home with major incontinence issues might need something like this. But I am not ready for that yet.
I investigated Icon a little further. Developments in fabric technology in recent years has meant that super absorbent cloth [often using natural fibres like bamboo and hemp] can be made so that a lot of liquid can be absorbed by material which is not excessively bulky. This is often the basis for babies' washable nappies. Other fabrics have a one-way wicking system which can draw moisture away from the skin [used in sportswear as well as underwear] and lightweight, waterproof, but breathable fabrics can contain the moisture.
I calculated how much I spend on underwear and pantliners each year. Icon pants are expensive- they are only available from the States. In the autumn they had a deal for UK customers, and four pairs for the price of two. I agonised about it - if they last me 5 years, that's equivalent to my current spending on pants and liners. I bought some, and in November started wearing them.
I love them - so comfortable, in comparison to having paper stuck in my briefs. So efficient dealing with leaks, and they look just like ordinary pants. They wash and dry quickly. The company prides itself on its ethical standards, and for every pair sold, a donation is made to a charity which helps women in Africa who suffer with fistulas. Apart from the price, I am absolutely thrilled with my pants!
And the best bit? Once I owned some, I was able to check out the construction thoroughly - they are just like regular pants with a built in washable pantliner gusset. And there's a fabulous UK company called CuddlePlushFabrics which sells the wicking fabric, the 'Zorb' and the waterproof cloth, so you can make your own. I picked up some appropriate briefs in TKMaxx, ordered some fabrics, and made myself some more pee-proof-panties - these worked out at around £5 a pair. The picture shows two pairs of pukka Icon pants [black, blue], and two of my home made ones [black, pink]. 
As far as I am concerned, this is a no-brainer. If I can have more comfortable underwear, which handles my occasional leaks better than regular pantliners and reduces the amount of plastic being sent to landfill, then that is what I am going to do.
I started wearing these back in November - well over six months ago - so they have been thoroughly road tested now [on the motorway, on the bicycle, in the classroom and in the pulpit, walking, running, dancing] You can keep your Brazilians, thongs, tangas and G-strings - I am very happy with this hip-hugger style which keeps me cool, fresh and comfortable all day, thank you.[that's a model in the picture, not me!!] Someone else left her underwear outside our MPs constituency office at the weekend!
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Monday, 18 June 2018

Faith, Chope, And Clarity

I am a woman of strong convictions, and I wish to make my position clear...
I believe that I have a responsibility to be a good steward of God's creation. That includes caring for animals
  • so horses and dogs should be properly protected from attack, when they are being used by Police Officers, to maintain law and order.
  • so circuses should not be allowed to use wild animals in their acts, whip them, or dress them up in undignified, uncomfortable costumes. Wild animals should not be or kept in confined conditions and forced to travel long distances to perform for the amusement of people.
I believe that it is important to show compassion on the sick
  • so homes for those with mental health issues should be carefully monitored and regulated, especially with respect to force being used against residents.
  • so it should be as easy as possible for their carers to visit them in hospital, and have free access to car parking facilities
I believe that those who are in positions of power have a duty of care to those who are weaker
  • so landlords should not be allowed to enforce 'revenge evictions' when tenants raise complaints about serious faults in their housing
  • so repeated complaints about bullying should be properly investigated
  • so a proper inquiry into the response to the Hillsborough tragedy was vital to the injured and bereaved.
Furthermore, whilst I may not always agree with another person's lifestyle choices
I do not believe homosexuality is a crime, or that it was right that a man like Alan Turing should have been prosecuted. I agree with the Queen's wish to grant him a posthumous pardon.
I do not believe a person should be forced to inhale someone else's carcinogenic cigarette smoke, so I feel it is right to ban smoking in public places.

And I believe that a woman has a right to walk to church, or stand in the street, or do her shopping, or teach her class, or enjoy music in the park without some perverted man taking a photo up her skirt - either for his own gratification, or to post on his Facebook page, or share on a pornographic website.

Unfortunately I live in Dorset, and my MP has blocked all the above issues when they were placed before Parliament. With one single word on Friday, he delayed the 

Please don't tell me that he is 'concerned about sloppy lawmaking'. It is one thing to be concerned about Parliamentary procedures- it is quite another to repeatedly impede the course of lawmaking just for the sake of it. He has already admitted that when he objected, he didn't really know what 'upskirting' meant. His daughter, like mine, is in her thirties. How would he react if this happened to her?

Sunday, 17 June 2018

In The Palm Of His Hand

When I went to Albania with Siobhan two years ago, we discussed the fact that I seemed to know all their hymns and she knew none of them. We decided that the Protestant and Catholic music traditions overlap, but there are some songs which one group sings more than the other. Last Sunday we went to our Churches Together Songs Of Praise, held at St Antony's RC Church, West Moors. We had a hymn I do not recall singing before. 
It was written in the 1970s by a priest, Michael Joncas, for a friend whose father had just died. It's based on words from Psalm 91, Exodus 19 and Matthew 13. It has been bouncing round in my head all week and I thought I'd share it today. My research shows me that every Catholic on the planet seems to know it, and probably sang it at their Granny's funeral. Please forgive me if you know it already.  I'm obviously rather late to the party with this one. Whether it is new, or familiar, I hope you enjoy it too

And He will raise you up on eagles' wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Two Ingenious B*st*rds!

Not my usual language, but this is the surname of the two brothers who played a significant role in the town of Blandford. They are commemorated all over the place. 
In 1731 [65 years after London's Great Fire] Blandford suffered a similar fate.  The fire began in the afternoon of 4th June in a tallow chandler's workshop [these men made soap and candles]A hot summer's day, a light breeze, and plenty of thatched roofs and wooden buildings meant the fire spread rapidly - over 90% of the property was lost. By 7pm, the fire had burnt itself out, leaving just a few brick buildings [like the Old House and the Almshouses] remaining. 
The word spread to London of this disaster - and the following year an Act of Parliament decreed the town should be rebuilt within four years in brick and tile. Benefit events were held at places like Drury Lane Theatre, the King and Queen sent money, and Commissioners were appointed to oversee the building.
John and William Bastard were in charge of the rebuilding and regeneration..
As Bob had an appointment at the Blandford Community Hospital last Tuesday, we decided to make a day of it and check out the town. We saw the information panels, the Almshouses, and many of the interesting properties
The brothers certainly worked hard to fulfil their remit to make the town 'rise like a Phoenix from the ashes'
In 1540, the term 'Forum' was added to the name [because a market was held there] but most of the time now, that addition seems to be dropped. 
The town is home to the Hall and Woodhouse Brewery, and just behind the town centre you will find the Woodhouse Gardens, given in 1945 in memory of  family members. The modern sculpture, the lovely planting of roses and lavender, and plenty of benches , make this a pleasant venue to sit and enjoy the day.
Blandford received its royal  charter in 1604, and in 2004 that was commemorated in a number of ways. There was a mosaic design in the centre of the gardens, and a number of well maintained floral displays [sponsored by the Rotary Club] throughout the town.

We parked just behind the  town centre, in the Long Stay CP adjaent to the M&S Foodhall. £1.50 for 10 hours is good value!
The scruffy little path through to the main street was full of colourful wildflowers - untended but charming
The Parish Church may be full of history - boxed pews, old tiles, memorials to those brothers, and to Mr Lewen, also instrumental in the rebuilding. Mr L's plaque is topped by a marble flame - the Victorians added wooden choir pews, and copied the flames, as a sign of regeneration and new life in Jesus.
This generation has added some lovely embroidered banners, and the presence of informative posters, a drum kit, guitar amps, and a good PA system encouraged us to believe that today's congregation is lively and active.
We arrived early and had a good breakfast in The Forum coffee shop, where the affable owner directed us to sit in "The Royal Box" - a cosy corner with armchairs and coffee table. Excellent coffee was served - and there were magazines and papers to linger over as we ate. Then we wandered round all the many CS, and a number of wool/craft shops. We were conscious that people were all very friendly, and it is clearly a town where the locals know each other and smile and chat to visitors too. We had lunch in Reeves' Bakers [same chain as we visit in Salisbury] 
Lunch was;
a round of chicken and bacon sandwiches on lovely wholemeal seeded bread
a round of coronation sandwiches also on lwsb
a packet of crisps
a fresh side salad - with tomatoes that tasted lovely
six cakes [2 each of light fruitcake, coconut slice, and malteser cakes]
and a pot of tea [4 generous cups- we could have had refills if we'd wanted]
and paper bags to take home any leftovers [4 cakes!]
We got all this food and drink - and change from a tenner. What excellent value!
The visit to the Sleep Disorder Clinic was very successful too - Bob no longer needs his sleep mask, and has been signed off by the SDC. He is officially no longer suffering with Sleep Apnoea!
A great end to a lovely day.
Well done John and William - I think you would be proud to see how this town continues to thrive, almost 300 years after it was nearly destroyed.

Friday, 15 June 2018

World Cup Stitch Up

I am really not bothered about the World Cup - but I confess to being enthralled by the BBC trailer. It is all done in embroidery! When I first started pointing at the screen and yelling "Look, Bob! look at that stitching!" my OH suggested it was probably all computer generated. But he's wrong [a rare occurrence] If you haven't seen it yet, here it is 

Two guys, Edward Usher and Xander Hart, from the BBC Creative Team were tasked with coming up with a memorable trailer [this headache occurs every four years ever since we all started humming 'Nessum Dorma'] Remembering that Russia has a great tradition of tapestries, they decided to produce something depicting the history of the World Cup. 
Then they considered the brutalist concrete architecture of the 1960s and created an "embroidery machine" reminiscent of a futuristic Moscow bus stop from the Communist era - a machine which bursts into life every four years to create a tapestry.They approached animator Nicos Livesey who has previously made a film using machine embroidered panels 
The result is amazing - loads of previous World Cup highlights which even a non-footie-fan like me remembers- Bobby Moore in 66, Gary Lineker, Iceland's thunderclaps, Zidane's 1998 headed goals...
The London Embroidery Studio reproduced these in 608 panels [enough to stretch the length of a football pitch] Their machines worked 23 hours a day for 3 weeks - which is amazing, over 270,000 metres of thread went into the stitching!

The panels were put together to make the clip, and a soundtrack was recorded at the quintessentially British Abbey Road Studios. Sir John Tomlinson sings an old Russian Folk tune 'Ochi Cherne ' [Dark Eyes]  The title sequence for the actual footage of match programmes will be the same tune in a different version by Sigala [aka Bruce from Norfolk] I cannot manage to upload the brilliant video about the construction of the trailer, but you can watch it if you click HERE

I love it! and I admire the commitment which has gone in to producing this. I doubt I shall watch any of the matches though [unless England or Belgium get to the final]

Thursday, 14 June 2018

No Stool Pigeons Here

Nobody seems quite sure of the origin of this phrase meaning decoy or police informer. Some say it is from the practice of fixing a dead or replica bit to a stool to attract other birds - but that word was probably stole meaning tree stump. Others say it's from the French word estale, a decoy bird. Nothing to do with three-legged seating. Who cares?
When we first moved to Dorset, I lamented the loss of my kitchen table. It was the right height for me to sit for meals, roll pastry etc. But three years later, I'm getting used to climbing up onto the stool, and eating at the 'breakfast bar'
And although I mutter about being high up, there is one great advantage - I'm perched up higher, and can look out into the garden at mealtimes and watch the birds.
There seemed to be fewer birds for a while, after Jim's oak was felled in 2016. But lately they've been returning. Our lawn is not a pristine green carpet, but daisies, buttercups, clover, dandelions and other wild flowers thrive there. A recent Guardian article has encouraged me enormously, as it describes how 're-wilding' can benefit the environment. It does make sense, when you think about it - our British wildlife is designed to eat the plants which grow in our soil/climate - so filling our gardens with imported foreign plants is expecting them to change their diets. [but this is not an excuse to avoiding weeding]
I've noticed all sorts of birds, the RSPB site is helpful - we have noticed herring gulls, blackbirds, robins, tits, swallows, magpies, woodpigeons, starlings and more. The 2018 Great British Birdwatch revealed interesting facts about Dorset gardens and the increase in the number of smaller birds visiting us here in the South West. 
I have been aware of many birds eating from the feeder on the tree at the front of the house- but not from the feeder I hung at the back - I suspect that may be the frequent presence of neighbouring unfriendly cats.
Do you have any interesting feathered friends visiting your garden?

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Don't Tell 'Em Pike!

This is such fun - fifty years since Dad's Army was first shown on the BBC, and the Royal Mail has announced that on June 26th they will be issuing a series of commemorative stamps. How cool is that? I may buy up some second class ones with Private Pike on.

Ian Lavender is the only cast member still alive, now aged 72. No longer the fresh faced young Private Pike. I am glad that he's around to see this celebration of one of the best shows, which still brings a smile to so many faces.