Friday, 25 October 2013

Food for life

It's difficult, and it's even more difficult when you get closer to Christmas.  Sugar abounds. It's everywhere.  There's sugar in things where you don't expect it; there's sugar in so much that is part of our culture.

Think about it.  Birthdays - there's birthday cake; at Christmas it's Christmas cake; the same for weddings.  There's working breakfasts with chocolate croissants.  There's elevensies with sugar-saturated biscuits and how about a cup of tea and a slice of cake?  In some cafes it's impossible to order anything which does not contain sugar.  If they don't have a cheese scone, then I go without.

Ah, but cheese. Well, that's one of my problems. I love it. I especially love blue cheese and having denied myself anything with a live culture during chemo, I continue to scrump cheese in amounts that I really shouldn't. In case you were wondering, that's what has taken up residence around my midrift!

However I do still try because I really do believe that without the change to my diet which I made immediately I'd been diagnosed with lung cancer, I wouldn't be here today.  And it follows that the metabolic imbalance,  that my body most certainly suffered in the run up to the diagnosis, could return and that's something I certainly don't want.

I'm reminded today of what I should be doing food-wise by Chris Woollams' email today which has pointed to me his excellent diet article.  If you've stumbled on this blog because of cancer, than do sign up to Chris's emails and take a look at the website CANCERactive. What he says makes so much sense.

My nutritionist says:  if you can't pick it or kill it, don't eat it - and ultimately that's probably the best advice when it comes to what you should be eating for the best possible health.  In this ever-pervading sea of refined sugars and compromised fats, I do try so hard to be good.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Buy with Confidence using the Trading Standards scheme - or not

Friends of mine have recently had a real problem with their curtains. They are not the sort who just pick anyone from an advert. In fact when it comes to trading standards, they demand the highest, so they are always likely to do background checks so that they can buy with confidence.

They bought some very expensive material and after checking with customers the reputation of a curtain maker, who is registered with the "Buy with Confidence" scheme, they handed it over.  The job was quite easy: a couple of curtains floor to ceiling, and three sets of much shorter ones.

The result: a bodged job, with seams not straight, hems undulating, fabric stretched, lining showing, pleats uneven.  Now I don't like making curtains; in fact I hate it.  As many of you know, I'd rather make a silk wedding dress and corded lace bolero. So I'm likely to rush a curtain job and make do here and there.  But even I wouldn't have hung those curtains because they were so obviously wrong.

Duly summoned back to see the problem, the curtain maker agreed there were faults.  She admitted to subbing out the job and not having checked it.  But instead of taking the curtains away and completely remaking them which would have been the only possible way to deal with the problem, the curtain maker did a few adjustments here and there, resulting in unseemly creases. The error was them compounded when the curtains were steamed.  The result of this was to cause shrinkage in one layer of fabric (it has two distinct layers which are intervowen) and not necessarily of the other.  Yes, you've imagined correctly.  The result? Puckering.

My friends were unable to get any satisfaction and now had ruined fabric and a mess hanging in their lounge. Eventually after giving the maker several opportunities for redemption, they resorted to the small claims court where they won hands down on all counts. But have they got the money? No. The curtain maker has now asked for a variation of the payment order and my friends must wait while the liability is discharged in small amounts over several months.

So why am I telling you all this?  Well the curtain maker advertises using the "Buy with Confidence" scheme and logo obtained through Trading Standards at our local Council.  The council representative has been entirely useless in helping my friends or having the curtain maker removed from the scheme, despite the court judgement which is a direct result of their own incompetence and failure to put right a problem. I see that the business is still listed both on the Buy with Confidence website and our own Council's.

And I've just opened the latest edition of a local publication to find the same curtain maker advertising with the "Buy with Confidence" logo.  So, if you're thinking of using a supplier and you see this logo, if I were you I would treat it with great scepticism.  All it appears to mean is that the supplier originally jumped through a few hoops to get their credentials. If they don't subsequently fit the bill there doesn't appear to be any mechanism to remove them from the scheme or if there is, it's not working.