Posted in cooking, Debate, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Home, nutrition

Sausage, Apple and Cider Casserole.

I decided to use apples in a main savoury dish and this is my own recipe, after looking at some ideas on Pinterest. Apples are in abundance in September and whilst I bought my cookers from the supermarket, you will find these being sold from private growers along roadsides and garden corners. The price I saw was 0.50p a bag. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop to buy.

Why we should eat more apples?

The health benefits of apples here on Pinterest.
Ingredients:

This will make you two casseroles, so you could have a meal for two days.

12 Tesco finest pork and apple sausages.

One medium sized onion.

Two cooking apples.

1/2 of a butternut squash.( tip: I cut the butternut squash, scooped out the seeds and cut the flesh away from the very tough skin from the inside of the vegetable. Peeling the skin is hard work.)

Potatoes, ( I used six but amount can vary depending on how many potatoes you want in this recipe).

Two carrots,

Five large mushrooms,

Handful of frozen peas.

350 mls of cider divided into two casserole dishes.

Two tablespoons of fresh basil chopped.

1/2 teaspoon of mango chutney mixed into an instant gravy granules gravy.

Method:

Simply layer the potatoes and butternut squash covering the base of the casserole dish.

Add the diced mushrooms and carrots.

Fry the sausages for five minutes to give a brown appearance and lay on top of the vegetables.

Fry the onion in the oil used for the sausages and add on top of the sausages.

Place the uncooked sliced apple on top.

Add the cider and pour gravy into the casserole dishes.

Add the handful of peas.

Add chopped basil.

Cooking times:

I have an electric fan oven, so set an intial temp of 200C but then turned the oven down to 180C after about 30 mins. Cook until the vegetables are soft. For me this took about one and a half hours. For the last 15 mins, I left the casserole dish top off to reduce some gravy juice and to give the sausages a final brown.

Family tasting:

Everyone really enjoyed this and we have just finished it up today. For all the cooking I have done recently, either with recipes or without, this has been the most favourite dish to date with a good thumbs up from the family. Generally, it was considered that I had the right flavour combinations and the correct amount of cider. The pork and apples sausages’ flavour was enhanced and there was not one ingredient that overpowered the rest.

What could have been improved?

I would have liked to have added a Yorkshire pudding for a contrasting crunch.Black pudding has also been suggested.

Next month will look at starters and snacks. I want to use Tumeric, as this appears to be one of the most talked about spice at present and its anticancer properties is a hot topic in nutritional circles at the moment.

Please feel free to share your ideas here with apples or sausages.

Thanks for stopping by. See you again I hope next month.

Posted in achievement, Art, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, Environment, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Ideas, Liberation, Modern society, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts, Writing

Mindfulness: the Way to Declutter your Head.

I was in a newsagents last week when I spotted a new magazine called Breathe:it was the first issue.

  This magazine is written for a growing sector of readership, just like myself,whose desire is to enhance their physical,social and mental well-being. Designed to include four aspects of living: wellbeing, mindfulness, creativeness and escapism, the magazine is beautifully presented and covers a wide range of related topics, all of which are highly interesting and fresh in presentation. I am already eager to see the next issue on sale, September 22nd and have it marked on my calender. 

But what does it say about the reading habits, especially of women, and of a movement ( gathering an ever greater momentum ) where there are now courses and qualifications for a different type of practitioner? I am talking about the subject of mindfulness, and the interest clearly is growing enough for a publisher to create a new magazine, to include this subject, to live calmer, less stressed and more meaningful lives- lived in the present moment.

For someone who has experienced anxiety and stress, sufficient to have produced depression in the past, mindfulness is helping me now in a number of ways; the main benefit being in the unclutering of the mind. This mental dejunking has had several spin offs and I would like to share those here:

It keeps my anxiety into perspective and I will only focus on a concern in the present moment. A worry about a potential, confrontational meeting, regarding a thorny issue next week, can wait until then.

It has empowered me in my relationships. I am finally shaking off the need to be liked. Believe me, this has taken me years! I can be proud of who I am and have no need to seek others approval. I recognise my own power and this power has yielded results, so that gives me more courage to be assertive. This spiral is on a trajectory of only one way which is up. This excites me.

It has helped me to think more creatively. As a result, I am now starting to doodle mindfulness scribbles and pictures. I intend to share some.

It has helped me develop new hobbies. I have taken up drawing and really enjoy it. It does not matter about the level of skill. When I draw I forget everything. The concentration of the drawing keeps me totally in the present.

As a result of drawing, I have taken up postcard colouring. This is a nice spin off. This has brought joy to my family – so much so that one has been framed. This has brought me happiness, knowing that such a simple thing can bring other people joy.

I listen more, but realise I still don’t really listen at all well. There are gaps in people’s conversations that I don’t always pick up. This has been a shock. I am tuining in more to people and can respond better to them. Challenge yourself on this next time you listen to someone. Is your mind mentally on to the next task of what to cook for dinner?

I have started meditations and have returned to a much simpler form of Christian faith which includes prayer. I am beyond astonished that how these prayers have been recently answered. I search out quiet space, churches, under skies, on my walks for these types of moments. I am grateful so much for this.

I have found time to take up blogging again and to really think about what I want to write. Words jump out of my head randomly for future blog post. In the space of my mind, a book idea and even its title is already taking shape. I just need the belief to write it now and to say I am good enough to do it.

I have uncluttered the house. This has been going on for two years now since moving and embraces the minimalist movement. I like simplicity and space. Even my clothes tastes have changed. I like minimalism and follow Joshua Becker and his minimalist blog site.

Over thinking for me has been a real problem. I think too much most of the time. This is a hard habit to break. Recycling your thoughts have a shelf-life. Sometimes, you just have to bin the trash once and for all.

So these are the main changes and observations to date and these won’t be by far the end, of that I am certain . In the meantime, I am looking forward to reading Breathe and wish the magazine every success. My close friend tells me that when you are in tune with your heartfelt desires, things like books find you. I wish I had found mindfulness years ago but am glad to have discovered it now.

Go out and find out for yourself. You might be in for a few surprises! I would like to hear what you find.

 

Posted in achievement, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, Liberation, Modern society, Politics, Thoughts, Uncategorized

So We Left

I have decided to write a post concerning the UK’s decision to leave the EU and why, against the astonishment of my own husband and some friends, I decided to vote Leave.

The Brexit camp have been accused of right-wing prejudice, racism and divisiveness, and indeed there will be some who have these motives; a kind of selfishness against humanity of which there is no dignity. However, I wish to defend myself and others here who have been branded by this one brush of darkness.

I am a humanitarian and centre – left in politics. I volunteer for an NGO, am an environmentalist and against neo-liberalist policies. I have never voted for UKIP, nor even the Tories in the last three elections.It has been breathtaking to read the strength of feeling in this debate, some of which has been nasty and potentially patronising, because we dare to ask for controlled and responsible immigration and to take back control of our own destiny.

Decent people with passionate feelings and concerns, as to why we should have stayed have vented this anger;that by denying the Brussels State Machine of Federalism we should be denying the very heart of compassion, love and care for which the majority of people are aligned to. But let’s get to the heart of this debate and why people decided to vote Brexit with three words: beaucocracy , globalisation and immigration.

1) I think we can all agree, that the then Common Market back in the seventies was about free-trade. It wasn’t about stopping another World War, ( NATO was largely formed for that purpose.) Neither was it about creating a single currency, with ever greater political integration. Along with the trade agreements came rules and regulations, and as the years wore on the rules became longer, with more red tape and countless counter clauses and more strangulation with it.

Recently, I drove past some old orchards in Suffolk. My Dad told me that when we joined the EU, the orchards along with the apples were dug up and destroyed. Why? Because we had to accept the French Golden Delicious imports instead. We weren’t allowed these apples grown for years on our own soil anymore.

The same can be said with the decimation of our fishing industry with the Agricultural and Fishing policies, enforced quotas and a sharing of maritime waters.  Lowestoft, my home town, was a thriving fishing community, now this is all but dead. No wonder then, that as early as 1975, people were uneasy and we had a re-think to stay. However, we were in the grip of a recession ( The Three Day Week loomed large in people’s minds),so we decided It was best to hang -on -in- there and stay and hope for the best.

2) You have to ask the question. Why when one country decides to leave a club of traders should there be so much fury, economic blackmail, worry and anxiety? This is of course tied into globalisation. This leads to one pivotal question. Has the EU become so powerful that to dare leave it creates such a horrific reaction of market forces of doom and despair? Of stock market collapses, shoring up of the pound against the Euro and economic fall-out. Should one institution ( comprised of now 28 nations) hold that much dominance, that much power in the world? To want to trade more freely with the rest of the world comes a robust no, like you have no right to ask. How dare you! That the cost is so high no one dares to do it because of your pension fund. Market forces and capitalism at its worst is what springs to mind here.

When Greece was at the mercy of the EU, after it elected a government to address its virtual bankruptcy and collapsing Euro, what happened next?  The newly elected Prime Minster wad told by Merkel this is what you will comply with, or you won’t get your bailout and you will go bankrupt. How many days did they have to shut their banks for, nearly a week? Where was their democracy in all of this? The Greek government wanted a different way, whether that way was right or wrong is not the issue here, but to not have any control was, and still is. Thank God, we did not join the Euro in 1992. That situation could well have been us.

Therefore, You can not wonder why comments were raised about Germany winning the war, by the back door. This is not working together for the common good of man. This felt like a dictatorial superstate. I didn’t like it one bit.

3) Now, let’s talk about immigration and let’s start with Gt Yarmouth. 71.5% of the town voted to leave. Yarmouth has a large immigrant population, run down, depressed and poor. Like Thetford and Boston of which the later had the highest vote to leave of 75.6%, It has a high non-British- born population. Ok, nothing wrong with people’s from other countries coming to live and work here in principle ,but I do have a problem with Gt Yarmouth and Boston for two good reasons which is repeated, especially in inner cities.

Firstly, the creation of ethnic ghettos where you walk the street after nine at your peril. The English man just does not do this there. This is repeated in Luton, Northampton and Bedford, ( that I know of ) because my brother and parents have either worked or lived close to these areas. They have been exposed to it. This is not a racist statement, this is a simply a fact.

An example of this being that my Mother was told by my Dad to keep her eyes down and walk quickly past a gang of East European men raiding cars in broad daylight in Gt Yarmouth. No one did anything for fear they would get a knife in their back. Ok, we can’t say this one action reflects the majority’s behaviour by  these ethnic group. I work with some of these people and they are great but you can see why society is sick and tired of unremitting, unrelenting immigration, given this situation and why right- wing factions seize upon this example.

These passions continue to run high when welfare benefits are sent back home to renovate a house in Romania ( in a documentary last week) or child benefit.  This is against a backdrop of our own homelessness – a national disgrace of which over 300,000 are left on the street or in hostels and savage disability benefit cuts. Mr Cameron wanted to stop much of this welfare going abroad but most of you will know the outcome of his renegotiations on this issue. Mr Brussels said once again,no.

Secondly,  today I learned of an individual having no district nursing cover at their surgery. An A/E department recently asking for only life-threatening injuries to come in because services were at breaking point. Are you seriously suggesting those of you in the Remain camp that we continue to have unlimited free-movements of labour, across 28 member states, not even addressing the huge refugee crisis ( another topic entirely) given the resources we have in schools, hospitals, surgery and housing? Ok, this is a government funding issue, yes it is, but we still don’t have the infrastructure whose ever fault it is. I want to see controlled immigration and I resent being called a racist for it.

To conclude: no, I am not a brain-dead, bigot, nit-wit having a fit of madness to vote leave. I have read widely on this subject. I have given consent based on informed information to the best of my knowledge. I have listened to both sides, even read a whole book about it.

Ultimately, I don’t wish to be part a United States of Europe, at Brussels’ mercy, of seeing TTIP ( sanctioned by the EU ) to erode our already precarious NHS. I don’t want to pay my hard earned taxes to shore up Brussels, their sub committees, beaucocracy, for MEP expenses, etc,etc. I don’t want to see exploitation of migrant workers on low wages, living in container blocks like battery farm hens, such as those in our Eastern ports. I don’t want to see depressed wages for the rest of us as a result.

Yesterday, contrary to feeling ashamed, I was proud to be British. To stand up, be counted and have courage against the hysteria and the scare-mongering. I am European, want to trade with Europe, be friends with Europe, work together with Europe against war, climate change, famine and disaster. I just don’t want to be a part of a federalist super state. For that I am maligned and chastised today by those in the Remain camp.

If we in the Leave side are so wrong and the EU is such a sound institution, then why have we got a domino effect rippling across the continent after 24hrs. France, Denmark and Holland are asking for the vote too. We dared to question. We stood up for the true meaning of liberty, equality, fraternity. Yes, there will be extreme right-wing factions seizing the chance to promote their dangerous ideology but in reality it is going to be the Common Man, the Working Man, without an extreme political agenda that will seize the day and have the deciding vote.
Make no mistake, the EU will change as a result of this vote, it has to. PIty Brussels never gave us a chance to change it from the inside. It will change and secure its future because we Brexits were brave enough, against the tidal flood of criticism, to vote for a new path. The British vote was the catalyst. Perhaps then, for once in a very long time we can say, that this may not be defined as our finest hour ( I am not comparing myself to Churchill) but it certainly wasn’t the darkest one by a long shot.

Go on Britain, let’s come together and make this work!

Posted in Debate, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet

The Benefits of Lemon and Honey

Who has ever tried a cup of boiled water with one teaspoon of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey? I hadn’t until recently,after reading the many and considerable health benefits of this drink, though I decided to put two teaspoons of honey in the cup,rather than one. I like things sweet!

It looked insipid and rather weak, bland and not very exciting. It tasted OK though and it was drunk until the cup was empty.
However, I wasn’t inspired to try it the next morning (the old drinking habit of tea beckoned.) Being honest,I can see why it would not appeal first thing in the morning and why many people would not bother with it.
But, my further reading encourages me to not give up. If you read anything about this subject of lemon and honey in a drink you will find much information about why it is so good for us.

Here are just a few reasons:
1) Taken on an empty stomach, it is an excellent colon cleanser and prevention of constipation.
2) It boosts our immune system and cleans our lymphatics .
3) It reduces infection and colds.
4) It suppose to help with weight loss, though why this is so I would need to research further.

( My fact finding then took me to this site linked here:). This is a comprehensive list and one which is repeated and endorsed several times over with other health-sites explored.)

http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/why-drinking-water-early-in-the-morning-good-for-health-p214/

It would appear that the super properties of both lemon and honey makes this a source of excellent health benefits. So, I am encouraged to give this another try.If you have read my other postings, you will know that the thrust of this work is to find ways of reducing costs whilst promoting health and healthy weight. Therefore, I have been reading about ways to conserve fresh lemon.

Lemon juice can be frozen in ice trays, and can stay fresh in the fridge for two to three days. The exact cost of both these food products I need to still check on, though I recall that it is very cost-effective. I shall be adding any comments on any other information found and prices of both lemon and honey from the supermarkets in the comments box. Also, how I have got on with my next task of drinking this daily for a week, without altering anything else to both diet and lifestyle. This is to see if it has any weight loss benefits for me

So, in the meantime, what else have I been up to since last posting?
I have re-organised my kitchen, its utensils, food and general cupboards. This blog is having one very non-predicted outcome: The organisation of my time.

In order to feed a blog, this requires planning,organisation and time to write and think over ideas- time I am short off. So I have been looking at my entire day and what I am actually doing, when and how. This has been the one and most positive impacts so far in my efforts to reinvent my blog postings. I have felt more in control and more organised and my morning routine has been calmer and a good start to the day.

It’s still taking me sometime to get posts done, due to research, editing and so forth but I am hoping I will get quicker and will be posting once a week, (if not more in the school holidays,) when I am not at work full-time. So please bear with me and keep reading.

When you work in an environment where a staff-room promotes all sorts of discussion you can not help but hear the conversations of others. I have heard about soya, caffeine and headaches, a new diet, ‘getting back on the wagon’ and not slipping. You see, lots of people talk about food and health more than you think. In fact, I think this subject is the most talked about, especially in women, but the one that generates a battle most people confess to be often loosing with the most weakness and the most frustrations. So I would be keen to hear from any body who has any experiences to share with me here, not only with this this beverage, but any other topics that could be included in future postings. My blogs may be slow but they are written with serious care. Thanks for viewing.

Posted in Debate, families, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet

So Where Does H.E.L.E.N Go From Here?

Hi,

Yesterday, I posted a new blog post launching H.E.L.E.N ( which stands for Health, Eating, Learning, Education and Nutrition) and so far, the comments have been great and really encouraging. I had 103 visitors to my site and I guess the reason for that is, hopefully, most people can relate to what I have said so far with their own bodies, habits and minds.

So, I have taken a look at my site and updated a few things, along with the new picture, to make a more effective statement as to what I am up to. Please feel free to make any comments and suggestions. This is not just my site now but yours. I want you to own it and share it, if you want to. By visiting here, my hope is that you are taking a vested interest in you and your families health, happiness and well-being.

One of my facebook friends started a discussion with me and I thought it contained some really important points that I wish to share. So many people that I have spoken to, when we are talking about long-term conditions, have what I call an overlapping jigsaw affect, of multiple symptoms and problems impacting on each other. Often, you go the GP with the biggest and most pressing one in mind, that is affecting you the most, and the doctor will do their best to sort it out. But I truly believe that only joined up thinking ( Yes, the holistic approach that a 10 min GP consultant can’t cover) is the only way to reduce the NHS bill and most importantly save the patient more distress and illness in the end.

One scenario goes something like this:

A person puts on weight due to comfort eating because of long-term stress, or trying to quit smoking. We all know the addictiveness of smoking, so we kick one habit for another which is often eating. Stress raises cortisol levels and the body goes into the ‘flight or fight mode’ and this creates hormonal signals which says to the body, please store fat. The person feels fed up because more weight piles on. They start to diet, only this causes other chemical reactions which also tells the body to store fat: this body is in starvation mode now! Weight loss is hard work and they give up. Weight gain over time then causes old joint problems to flare up, or make their already existing hypertension (raised blood pressure) worse. They go the doctors, are prescribed more pills which in turn can cause side-effects, and that then exacerbate another condition previously under control.You get the picture.

Four people I know springs to mind here when giving the above example. I cite it because this is another reason why I wanted to do this blog. How can we find the answers to such a common scenario but very tricky to solve problem? This is what I am going to be digging over and over, until I, and I hope others on here will share their answers with their replies. I don’t have straightforward explanations, but when I was a district staff nurse, I passionately believed in the the concept of what was then known as ‘The Expert Patient.’ People finding out what works for them, or not and SHARING IT.

Today, I will leave you with this. This morning my husband and I started a new drink. It looked weak and white washed sitting in the cup. Until I learned to drink water, on its own, recently I wouldn’t have given it house-room. It is hot water with lemon and honey; one of the best digestion remedies there is apparently. It was OK. Tell you more about it next time and why lemon and honey are so good for you. I am hoping it will help with my Rosacea, as this has been shown to be linked with a digestive problem. To establish the root causes of disease, rather than just treating the surface, remains one of the greatest challenges facing C21st century medicine today!

( Disclaimer: These are personal views and are not intended to replace trained medical consultations. Therefore, always obtain the necessary medical advise, and do not stop taking any medication, unless advised to do so by a your medical practitioner.)

Posted in Change, Children, Commitment, Debate, families, goals, Health, Home, Modern society, Thoughts, Uncategorized

I Am Seriously Worried

Yesterday, I started to really look and notice something for the first time. Walking along the seafront, my eyes wandered around the people and their outlines. Many were overweight, and the striking thing of all was that many young and middle-aged women were not just overweight but clinically obese. Yes, the word most Women I am using here, from what I saw yesterday. And overall women appeared to be fatter than men. I wondered why.

That word fat is an awful word isn’t it. We don’t like saying it, as it potentially portrays a negative comment about an individual. It conveys that we have no self-control. That it is our fault we are just big. Fat is bad both in word, shape, image and representation. It is an ugly word and you just don’t say it. We avoid it and look beyond it to another conversation. TV programmes have aided this invisibility of weight. Being in love with your curves, dressing to enhance the natural shape are the things to do. Yet, I know several women who have tried to “diet” another bad word. Like me, they can fluctuate from weight loss to weight gain and then stop and start.

Against this, we have a tide of programmes showing us every aspect of cooking. People like to watch Masterchef, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Olivier showing us to how to cook. We have no shortage of inspiration tips and advice. Cooking on a budget, cooking something different. Cooking healthy nutritious meals, it’s all there. Sadly, most of us appear to be using it for entertainment against the reality of true cooking or not, as the case may be.

We have had a lot of media coverage about the ailing health service struggling to cope, the time bomb of heart disease, the labelling of food and a food industry that is committed to serving us fat, sugar and salt. The simple truth is we are losing the battle on eating a diet to give us health. A newspaper report this week showed stark figures that our children will die before we do, as their weight and lack of exercise spirals out of control. The not so hidden rise of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease (yes, as we consume ever dangerous amounts of alcohol) is causing greater alarm bells than ever before. We simply won’t have a health service able to cope. Societies health is going to collapse and the infrastructure to support it unless we take some radical action now. This is what is going to happen and that is why I am seriously worried.

I can’t begin to answer all the questions that could be posed here as to what could be done about it. What I do know is, how hard it is to lose a few pounds. How when you go out to eat, in the vast majority of typical restaurants, you find it almost impossible to eat low-calorie, low-fat, tasty food. I know full well how easy it is to throw food in the supermarket trolley just because your are tired after a day’s work and just want to get home. And once you are at home, you just throw something quick and easy into the oven because it’s just too much bother. How you need time to shop wisely, how you need positive energy to make the changes. Healthy eating and weight reduction is hard and it can be costly. Many people on ever tighter budgets can’t do it and the apathy is, I just don’t care. I do my best, I eat what I can.

We eat for comfort, we treat ourselves to chocolate as a reward to ourselves for a hard day. I am not judging overweight people at all. Everything is stacked against us. I am not overweight but I am in the same boat as most of us. I will be sharing on my next blog what changes we have managed to make here as a family. It’s not been easy and by no means has the battle being won yet but we are trying. This is being done because quite simply we can’t rely on our health service to patch us up. It isn’t going to there for much longer. We have to look after ourselves now the best way we know how.

Posted in achievement, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, goals, Government, Health, Human Rights, Learning, Modern society, Politics, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts

The End Of My Nursing Days.

In my twilight days of nursing there saw an introduction of a laptop computer. We all had one provided and training on how to use it. Those days had seen our area of work extend and staffing cut. The laptop had one very important function: to record data. This is what we all had to do. My area of work was then in the community, so I travelled a lot, covering many miles sometimes between two surgeries caseloads and in all weathers.

Every detail and work entry had to be recorded on a system called System One. So that meant that every phone call, procedure, paper work, (EG, if it involved an referral or assessment), was logged. This had to be done for every patient visited. The time we took to do each thing and how long it took to get from one patient to the next. This was logged in our work dairies and then onto System One. You still had all the patients personal records of care to do in the home as well, I might add. This was asked for to help see where the workload was, for accurate records of patients, and to prioritise resources.

You can imagine that this was a lot of work and when we could not get it done in the days schedule, it had to be taken home to do it. We were all given the appropriate connections to the data base to get this done. At the same time, my e-mail box was forever getting fuller. New policies, training, forms, referrals and memos. I personally was finding it harder to keep up. Sometimes, my brain was a fog and the effort to juggle the balls was becoming harder. My own personal stress levels went up and I felt vulnerable. Vulnerable that I would miss something, forget something. I had a note book and wrote everything I needed to do down so everyone got seen, every task and communication done. My tick list was ticked off at the end of the day and shredded. I worked incredibly hard but the passion and the enjoyment went to a very low point.

It was like being a hamster on a wheel. The harder you ran, the harder the wheel turned and it just went round and round, always to the same place, never to finish. Because the hamster was always running and the wheel just ended up at the same point for you to run all over again. It felt like you were getting no-where.

Sometimes, a ray of energy would emerge. A really excellent job was done, you had made a difference to someone’s life and job satisfaction prevailed. You were happy and pleased and felt it was all worthwhile. But, like the hamster, the next day you were back to just running, eventually you burn out and that is what happened to me.

In the end, I had had enough. I had done all that I could do. I knew that there was no end in site to any of it, if anything it was going to get worse, and I have been told that since then it has got worse and I am well out of it.

But I took 28 years of care with me and it was brave decision but I just said no-more. I thought, as it had been my identity all my working life, it would be hard to let go. But it hasn’t been. Now, my new life working in a school as a teaching assistant has made me so happy, opened up so many new doors. I have never looked back. I go to work each day never having the dread or the worry. There is no stress and if there is it is very minimal.

I had some wonderful times, happy memories, really dark days, sadness and some regrets. But I did something worthwhile and I did it well and for that I am proud. I have written these blogs to defend my former profession. I could not just sit back and let the recent press hound us in such a way, without trying to defend those still brave enough to work in nursing.

I would say to the general public one thing. Come and do a shift. Put a uniform on for a day and live it with us. See what it is like. I am not defending shabby care, hostility and I am not minimising the pain that bad care has caused to families. I feel ashamed that such cases have existed. But the general public just has to know how hard and almost inhuman it is to be asked to just keep going, like we are now asked to do in such work conditions. This is the vital message I want to convey to any reader out there.

Later this week: a summary of what has gone wrong, given what I have discussed here and what can be done now if at all?