Did you think that I’d forgotten about “IBFY” this week? I had a blog tour spot for Monday and didn’t want to overdo the musings, so thought a midweek spot might do nicely to share these posts that I had found for you.
We survived our week with hubby away…..just!……..and more importantly he survived an activity week with 64 ten year olds. The weather was really kind to them and he returned looking more like he had been to Spain rather than to Kent, the sun tan covering any signs of exhaustion! At this end I continued to share drugs and my CBD vape with the politics student as he nursed, and continues to, his dislocated knee; there was one faint/fall/dislocation and only one set of plans cancelled. Not too bad going! The lovely girl even managed to get out of bed every morning to do her paper round without her dad dragging her out of bed.
As hubby arrived home, the eldest and a group of friends headed off for Snowdonia, North Wales….to go camping! Pitching a tent in the dark on one of the coldest nights this year – not my idea of fun and I think the young engineer’s better half would have preferred a B&B. They actually had snow and built the snowmen to prove it!
Meanwhile yours truly now has the results of my neck x ray and unsurprisingly it shows disc and degeneration problems in both the cervical and thoracic spine. “Where shall we refer you?” pondered my GP……um, how about somewhere that can arrange new bodywork! I think that my neurosurgeon might go off for a very long holiday when he sees my name on the Back Pain Clinic patient list again. At the moment I have no expectations and want to avoid more surgery – be it on my shoulder or my spine……time will tell!!
I hope that you enjoy this mix of blog posts that I have found this week – I have finished with a short video to highlight pain in Ehlers Danlos Syndromes Awareness Month. So sit back with a favourite cuppa and happy reading!
Disclaimer: Thanks to Love Books Group and the author for the copy of this book and the opportunity to take part in this tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The year is 1981 and young couple Rona and Craig have spent an inheritance on a large Victorian house in Edinburgh. Ex-lawyer Rona is excited to turn Wardie House into a luxury care home so sets about exploring and planning, and in the process she uncovers some history of the house and its inhabitants. The cellar and attic give up secrets from dark corners and when the sea fog descends the new owners hear strange, disturbing sounds.
There is only one close neighbour – glamorous and sophisticated American Martha – and she immediately wants to make friends with the young couple, sharing with them that the big house has been the centre of several unhappy scandals in the past. But when asked about her own life, she is secretive and reluctant to speak, giving up conflicting details of her life before coming to Scotland.
Return to the Newhaven district of Edinburgh in the late 19th century and 14 year old Jessie has found herself the centre of gossip and accusation, following the loss of a fishing boat in a storm. Blamed for the death of the fisherman by superstitious villagers, Jessie is thrown out of her home and is sent to Wardie House, the poorhouse. The home is run by the Governor and Matron, characters who rule with an iron fist and create a harsh, severe life for the many inmates of the poorhouse. Jessie begins to suspect that all is not as it seems, particularly with one of the older women, and when Jessie’s only friend finds herself in trouble, Jessie plays detective and unpicks secrets.
These secrets directly link 1898 with 1981, but it will be down to Rona and Jessie to unravel them.
I was sent a paperback copy of this novel, and whilst I am always grateful to be sent an electronic copy, there was something special about holding a book in my hands. The artwork on the cover is immediately striking and gives a hint of the haunting tale inside. Ms Lawrence alternates the book chapters between 1981 and 1898, a concept which works well to build up and to link the two parts of the story. As someone who has a tendency to flick back and forth between times, rereading sections and checking on memories, I was very pleased to be reading a paperback rather than my Kindle!
The book is well written and very easy to read. The author uses some beautiful descriptions for the Scottish scenery and I was transported to a place where I could feel the sea on my face and the thick mists swirling around the house. My favourite descriptive writing can be found using every sense in the scenes in the coal cellar and smugglers’ tunnels….no spoilers here!
The characters are all important within the storyline and in each of the two timelines there is a strong leading female character. Personally I enjoyed Jessie’s timeline the most and was able to feel her emotions and character growth as she learnt the art of survival in the poorhouse. She was used to hard work amongst the fisherfolk, but the poorhouse presented her with a very different set of challenges and I loved seeing her develop into a steely young woman, prepared to fight and protect those she loved. This is also something that is mirrored by Rona in her storyline as she learns more about the mysterious Martha, her husband Craig, the residents of the nursing home and also herself.
This is a novel that manages to incorporate the historical with the psychological and weaves a tantalising tale around haunting secrets and painful truths. The author manages to keep the suspense running throughout, whilst slowly but surely linking the timelines, until the actions of one are revealed to have dramatic consequences for the other. A great tale which is both eerie and moving in equal measures.
I found this book gripping, became invested in the characters and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Cookery writer and novelist Sue Lawrence was born in Dundee and brought up in Edinburgh, where she now lives, having lived in many places including the French Pyrenees, Ost Friesland in Germany and northern Finland. She trained as a journalist with DCThomson after an Honours degree in French from Dundee University.
She has written 17 cookery books including Book of Baking and A Cooks Tour of Scotland. Her latest cookbook is A Cooks Tour of the Scottish Islands, due out in August 2019.
She specialises in traditional Scottish food and Baking and has written for various newspapers and magazines since winning BBC Masterchef in 1991.
She moved into writing Fiction recently: her second novel, The Night He Left, was published in April 2016. Her latest novel, Down to the Sea, will be published in 2019.
About the writer’s work
Having trained as a journalist, Sue Lawrence began writing cookbooks and newspaper and magazine columns. She now writes both Fiction and cookery books and attends many book festivals around the country, talking on both subjects, but mainly nowadays on fiction (though always happy to talk Cake too!).
Another week and here we are in May – so it seems perfect to have a little May Magic as Monday came and went this week! It has been a perfect day in south London – sunny, bright and mild – what better way to start the month.
Hubby is away this week with the year 5 classes for an “outward bound” style activity holiday – or to put in in layman’s terms…..archery, hiking, zipwires, pylon climbing and more with 60 nine and ten year olds. Of course hubby has the boys’ dorms under his care after the activities finish for the day, and his comment to me on their first night was “I knew it was going to be challenging when we started our first task of bed making and one of them actually said ‘what’s a duvet?”!!”. They usually arrive home with damp kit, a bit smelly and absolutely shattered…..and that is just the adults. This year they have a bank holiday weekend to recover and I know that the adults will appreciate the extra day for R&R.
This leaves me at home with my offspring. The eldest has just returned from a surprise birthday weekend away in Dublin – lovely treat from his better half – and is now looking forward to the first package in his gift from us…..a subscription to Pong Cheese Club. Watch this space for taste testings! My main carer for the week – the politics student – is nearly as much help as a chocolate teapot as he has succumbed to Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and dislocated his knee during a footie kick around. He managed to relocate everything to the correct position – you get used to doing this with EDS – but now cannot walk, despite my best efforts with tubigrip, a brace, crutches and painkillers. We must have made a strange looking team as we put the rubbish out today…..him on crutches, me in a collar and sling – there is definitely a joke in there somewhere about the number of dislocations in a household of zebras!!! (Why the zebra?)
I started saying what a beautiful day it has been and this led me to a big achievement, namely my first solo trip out in my electric wheelchair. It has been a while coming, but today I was due to visit my friend for a haircut and whilst mum waled there with me, I came home alone. I know that it sounds crazy for a woman of a certain age to be excited to get home under her own steam, but having that little bit of independence back after so long was both exciting and terrifying in equal measures. Fingers crossed that over the next few months my joystick control and pavement driving improves – it is very hilly here, but I have good brakes!!
There is a great selection of spring blog posts here and one in particular is close to my heart, as I was a specially trained head and neck cancer nurse in a previous life. The final listing is from Angela, and I think will strike a chord with all bloggers as she explains to her nearest and dearest that it is ok either way if they read her writing or not. So sit back with your favourite tipple and enjoy!
It is Easter Monday – hope you have had a great holiday weekend! The weather has been just spectacular here in the south of Britain – the young engineer and friends have had a balmy weekend on Hayling Island (just off the south coast, near Chichester) where they donned shorts and enjoyed temperatures on the beach more akin to Club Med!
A huge event for me this week was finally being visited and assessed by a community Occupational Therapist. I can’t even tell you how long I have been on the waiting list, it has been that long!! A big plus was that said OT, Johnny, has had one previous patient with EDS so he was familiar with the condition and knew a little about POTS too. What a difference it makes when you don’t have to teach the medical professional from the word go…..although the spinal cord stimulator was something new to him. It seems that maybe I am more in need than I thought – although the kids would tell you I am needy!! – or rather I might be deemed eligible for more help than I had anticipated. Apparently it is possible for the assessment to recommend a need for a Japanese style loo – you know, one that washes and dries before it flushes (it may even play music….joke!!).
So if the OT recommends it AND the local authority agree it, I might be able to get my electric wheels out of the house via the front door in the not too distant future…..the dog will appreciate a ramp, and a walk in shower to replace the bath and a stair lift might be on the cards too. Watch this space!!
Chocolate has invaded the house this weekend. The kids might be young adults now, but they have still been given a “healthy” supply of chocolate in the shape of eggs, bars and rabbits. I have a complete new shelf of ornaments!
The blog posts for you this week include a mixture of spring and Easter posts, recipes, Earth day and health topics. Grab yourself a cuppa, sit back and enjoy!
Please remember to comment, like and share posts you enjoy – voting closes for the Annual Bloggers’ Bash Awards this week, so it would be great if you would consider voting for me in the Best Lifestyle Blog and many other super bloggers – vote here.
Here I am, already running a day late this week – but as I had already found some blog posts for Monday Magic I thought I’d go ahead and share them today. The shoulder and neck are feeling a little easier and the amount of opioid floating around my system is considerably smaller so I can put pen to paper…….well fingers to laptop!
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So what have we been up to in the PainPals house this week? I mentioned in my last post that hubby made a trip to his parents and left me in the not so capable hands of the oldest and youngest children/young adults! We survived to tell the tale although the crumbs in the kitchen drove me to distraction. On Saturday the three of us joined my parents and various other cousins for a family lunch and I was so pleased to actually make it there. The most exciting thing was being told that my cousin and her partner have booked to be married next year on a cruise aboard the Queen Mary to New York. The funniest thing was that her other half made an announcement, whilst she sat there all embarrassed saying that “it really isn’t a big deal”…….well in that case cousin, I will go to New York on the Queen Mary with your fiance, and then on to Washington and Niagara Falls!! Ha, ha, ha. She doesn’t want to make a big fuss at their “time of life” – mid 50s and 60.
The young engineer was slightly on edge during said meal as hubby was home, but he was taking advantage of a friend’s season tickets to a London football match (Fulham v Everton for you footie fans!) and had taken the young engineer’s better half with him. Would dad show him up? Would he say something really outrageous? No, son – they are both football fans (both support Chelsea actually!) and will have far too much to talk about that will not include you!! Our friend was in Paris supporting his boys in the marathon and was gutted that having lost several matches in a row, Fulham actually won!!
The house is back up to full capacity as the politics student arrived home last night for the Easter break – after false start at the weekend when he was struck down with a migraine (he promises migraine and not hangover!) after finishing an essay….early. I haven’t investigated the bags yet, but there is only so much dirty washing that can be transported on a coach trip…..I think that I might leave a trail of arrows to the washing machine.
I hope that you have had a good week and are ready to sit back with a cuppa and enjoy some fantastic blog posts. The beef and ham cheese roll looks amazing, “Getting Older” made me laugh out loud and Christie Hawkes’s post really gives food for thought. Enjoy!
It has been several weeks since I was here writing – another dodgy dislocation of both shoulder and neck leaving me out of action. I feel so guilty that I have been unable to visit my lovely in laws once again and hubby had to head of for Hereford without me. He left me in the “capable” hands of the lovely girl and even the young engineer has worked at home for a couple of days – I think a fall last week freaked him out and certainly did the dog who broke my fall! Fear not, old Sam is fine!
During my blogging silence I was delighted to receive an email telling me I have been nominated for an Annual Bloggers’ Bash Award (ABBA) – hubby and I attended our first bash last year, met some wonderful bloggy pals and have already bought our tickets for the 5th Annual Bloggers Bash in June. But I never dreamt that I would make it onto the nominee list – thank you!
I am honoured to be nominated and to be in the company of some fabulous writers!
I have been nominated in the Best Lifestyle Blog category along with some seriously good writers. Although my blog has a chronic illness focus, I am also keen to appeal to my readers who don’t have health conditions and sometimes getting the balance right is tricky. So to be recognised as a lifestyle blog is praise indeed.
It would be wonderful if you would consider voting for me – the voting is now open! Please take a look at all the blogs and categories and vote here – Annual Bloggers Bash Awards
Voting closes at 9pm (BST) on 24th April, 2019.
Monday Magic normal service will resume next week and I have some great reviews to share (written in my head!!)
For some time now I have been looking for a garment that would give my ever dislocating shoulders some support and yet that I would also be able to actually put on without dislocating said shoulders! More of this below. The Active Posture products were recommended to me and the company gave me a posture vest to trial in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Posture clothing: all you need to know
It can be difficult to keep an upright posture throughout the day, which is where posture clothing from ActivePosture® can help. Posture clothing activates muscle memory to help you achieve an improved, upright posture.
Posture clothing can be a comfortable and practical solution for problems induced by poor posture, or it can act as a supplement to training, exercise and physical therapy. Your posture has an influence on your physical health and overall well-being, so having aligned posture benefits us during work, training and in everyday life.
How does posture clothing work?
At ActivePosture.co.uk you can purchase clinically tested and medically approved posture clothing from leading manufacturer, AlignMed®. Our products are inspired by the concept of Kinesio-taping, which stimulates muscles, improves blood circulation and can aid in maintaining an aligned posture. Our posture clothing can be worn in everyday situations, whether it is during physical activities or when you are stationary.
Who is posture clothing suitable for?
Pretty much everyone can improve their posture from wearing posture clothing. It is also particularly beneficial to supplement physiotherapy and training, however, if you have a recent injury, we recommend consulting a physiotherapist or doctor before use.
ActivePosture offer products for both men and women in several different styles and colours. There is a classic v necked vest top, in petrol blue, white or black for gents or blue, nude, white, black or burgundy for ladies. A zipper fronted vest is available in both black and white for gents and ladies. There is also an AlignMe Interactive bra available in 4 colours.
The website gives clear instructions to measure for your posture vest and suggests that if between sizes you should opt for the smaller as the top must be snug. At 5 feet 8 inches and taking a 34 A/B bra, I wear a UK size 12 and ordered a Medium which fits well. I can’t comment for fit for ladies with a larger bust size, but please be aware that the vest is not fitted with cups.
My vest arrived quickly and was beautifully packaged, creating an excellent first impression for the product inside. The vest itself is made from a mixture of nylon, spandex and polyester and beautifully constructed with Neuroband support straps throughout the lower neck, shoulder and back area. These bands are all made from different levels of elasticity and exert different pressures on the body. I had requested a zipper version for ease when putting the vest on and taking it off – this is because I have recurrent dislocations, arthritis and chronic pain particularly in my right shoulder.
My Trial Period
I have had my vest since the beginning of February and was advised by the company to gradually build up the wearing time. The recommendation is to start wearing for an hour per day, but as I have a specific condition that means my connective tissue and joints work differently to the norm, it was suggested that I use it for 30 minutes per day.
The vest does feel tight initially and the shoulders need to be fitting correctly – if the vest is the correct size it is possible to feel a gentle pull across the shoulder blades and muscles, and this increases if the wearer begins to round their shoulders. There is also support around the lower back lumbar region too.
After building up wearing time over a 2 week period, I then opened a drawer and suffered a severe (even by my standards) dislocation which left my arm hanging low, immobile and in a great deal of pain. It took approx 2 weeks before the humerus would even pretend to stay in the socket…….and most days it continues to slip out as I cough, sneeze or just move! During this initial fortnight my pain was too severe to wear anything snug, but I had a long planned theatre trip and made the decision to wear the vest in order to try to support my shoulder – my main reason for wishing to trial the product.
I found the ActivePosture product to be of a high quality and very comfortable to wear. I have washed it several times, following the manufacturer’s instructions and it has maintained the shape and washed very well.
Please remember that my anatomy is slightly different and I am looking at the product for a different support – but I believe that for pure posture support and to run alongside physio programmes, this product works very well. I have worn the vest whilst sitting both at a table whilst typing and also relaxing in an easy chair and was definitely able to feel the posture support that it encourages.
I am not unrealistic and did not expect the vest to hold my shoulder in socket or to prevent my dislocations. If only it were so simple! My physio has always said that when dealing with my shoulders he must forget all that he has been taught, and instead work with me in the opposite way to how he would treat everyone else!! But I had been hoping that the vest would offer my joints and lower neck some support and I am delighted to report that it does. I have not worn the vest whilst my shoulder is completely out of joint – to be honest it is difficult to wear any top – but I have been wearing it when the shoulder/s are in the normal (for me) state of constant subluxing. My preference is without a bra underneath. I have found that the top acts rather like a compression garment and offers my stretched muscles and ligaments gentle support, whilst I hope also encouraging the muscles to do a little work themselves. (Please note that I do regular exercises when I am able to prevent too much deconditioning).
I have also noticed support across the lower neck where I have several vertebra that have a tendency to “pop” in and out. This leaves me at times with a “dowager’s hump” and I genuinely believe that the Neuroband support mechanisms in this vest have helped with better positioning and pain control. Many of you will also be aware that I have had major surgeries on my lumbar spine over the years, and a very pleasant surprise has been that this vest also gives me support and compression around this region – gentle compression (actually sometimes full on pressure!) really helps manage my nerve damage and pain.
So what of that theatre trip? Whilst still in an immense amount of pain and needing morphine for pain management, the vest helped me to sit through a loud and vibrating musical theatre experience. Since then I have also worn it to cinema film showings and out to dinner – it sits neatly and snugly beneath clothes and I have increased my wearing time. It is important to understand that the vest should be used in normal circumstances as an aid to better posture, so shouldn’t be worn all the time. You must work your own muscles too!
Have there been any negatives?
The vest is made from synthetic materials so can become quite hot and sticky in warm conditions – however it does look like a “top” so I have stripped off on the odd occasion and still felt dressed!
The ActivePosture products are expensive at a first glance – particularly as many with chronic conditions are unable to work and like myself rely upon benefits for income. The vest top retails at £99.95. However I would now say that for a product that has given me both support with my joints and my pain that it is worth the expense……I can see the research and engineering that has gone into creating a quality product and I would rather forego other clothes/meals/coffees in order to own a product that will give me support on those bad days.
In fact my final endorsement has to be the fact that I have been bought some more vests by a relative (taking advantage of the current offer!) as I love it so much!
The ActivePosture vest is a 5 star product for me!
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The company currently has a special reduced price for the products and are offering a volume discount – visit the shop here. (Note: this is not an affiliate post and I do not benefit from any orders made)
For information about research behind the product visit the site here.
Welcome to the last week of March and another Monday Magic on a beautiful spring day. We have managed two cinema trips this week – yes, two! – to see very different films but both equally striking.
The first was Bohemian Rhapsody and I know that we are very late to the party. The portrayal of Queen and particularly Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury were outstanding (if sanitised!). It is difficult not to be swept along by the soundtrack of Queen’s greatest hits and then for those of us who remember Live Aid, the depiction of the concert in the old Wembley Stadium was a true trip down memory lane. What I hadn’t expected was to be so overcome with emotion towards the end of the film and find myself in tears by the end. The depiction of a hospital waiting room and a young, emaciated man sporting a a very particular lesion on his face took me straight back to the late 80s and my London teaching hospital.
It was an extraordinary time to be working in one of the few hospital’s with a dedicated HIV and AIDS unit (see my previous posts here and here). As young nurses we were confronted by fear and ignorance of a disease that then carried a death sentence and also by a greater intolerance of same sex relationships. I can remember being asked if I had to touch the patients, or if they had different bedsheets and what happened to their cutlery after they ate!! There were question marks about applying for mortgages and if you sustained a needle stick injury the subsequent HIV test would definitely reduce your chance of being granted a mortgage. Then there was the series of commercials run in the UK by the government – brutal, scare mongering and to the point. But for me the film brought with it a sea of faces – young men – all robbed of life at such a young age. It was the first time that most of us had been confronted by the certainty of death in patients who were in our own age group. We were comforting parents and getting to know groups of friends who might have been our own. Those names and faces remain with me all these years later and as Freddie Mercury declared that he wouldn’t be a poster boy for HIV on the big screen, the tears flowed as I was transported back to that ward in 1990.
Last night we went to a special cinema screening to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the “Great Escape” – that is the actual escape during World War II that the Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough film was based on. Hosted by Dan Snow, historians were joined by family members of some of the actual RAF men who staged the escape in 1944, and also by actors and crew from the film made in 1963 to depict the events.
One of the stuntmen who set up the iconic Steve McQueen motorcycle stunt at the end of the film had been flown in from New Zealand – he had some stories!! I was really struck by the comment that it was an officer’s duty to attempt to escape and to create as much turmoil for the enemy – the Germans in this case – as possible. These men almost certainly did not expect to get home if they managed to escape, but they did plan to continue fighting and to be a thorn in Hitler’s side. Meanwhile the RAF were amongst those also remembering the men in Poland at the site of the POW camp, where the prisoners had dug out 75 years ago. It was a very long (nearly 5 hours) but worthwhile evening……even if I couldn’t stand up by the end!! When I popped my ankle out, hubby said we needed the inflatable evacuation aircraft chutes to get me down the cinema stairs….cheek!
So today I have been recuperating from my night out and have found a great variety of blog posts for you. I hope that you enjoy everything from the fire eating gutsy goddess to some fantastic tips about plastics and the planet…..sit back with a cuppa and enjoy!
I have just read a post that I could have written myself – it reminds me of a conversation that was had very recently in our house. When one half of a couple lives with a chronic condition – be it pain, disability, depression – the “normal” expectations of a relationship change, the boundaries move as partner and lover morphs into either carer or “patient”.
Pamela writes with honesty and gives some realistic suggestions for everyone in her post on There Is Always Hope blog.
I’m tackling a tough topic again today – intimacy when you live with Chronic Pain. If you remember the Cheap Trick song, it’s been on my mind lately:
I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I’d love you to love me.
I’m beggin’ you to beg me.
I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I’d love you to love me.
How do you enjoy an active and healthy love life when you’re in pain all the time. How do you appease your partner, who may not understand what it’s like to be in pain 24/7. Even when you’ve explained it a million different ways, when it comes to talking about sex, and how painful it can be, it’s not an easy conversation, no matter how long you’ve been a couple.
Welcome back to another Monday Magic! What a morning it has been with a visit to the local hospital for an”ology” appointment. Today it was gastroenterology and things didn’t bode well from the moment the nurse said they were running a little late. There is a huge white board with the various doctors names and details of the clinic. We sat and watched as nurses came out regularly and increased the waiting time for each different doctor – waiting time 45 mins, 1 hour, 1 hour 15 mins…until the registrar I saw was running about an hour and a half behind.
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Is it me, or is the waiting room always too hot when the clinic runs late? People start to become agitated, staff don’t have the right answers and tempers become frayed. Staying calm is a must – so send hubby out for some coffees and breaaaaathe! I was in and out in no time with an increased iron level, no major changes and am happy to report another young doctor seen who knew about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, POTS and the related gut issues! Now all I feel fit for is a long siesta…….
A much more exciting event that we went to this week was an Engineering and IT careers event – where the young engineer and his business partner gave a presentation – well the talented business partner spoke and the young engineer clicked the computer slides! I am now a step nearer to understanding what their business is…..cybersecurity was mentioned more than once! The robotics Professor from the local university had a little, but incredibly expensive robot with him which was fascinating. His main interest of study is using the robot for teaching both SEND children, who respond well to the consistency in information given by a robot, but also in mainstream education. It was quite unnerving when the robot was fired up and ready as his eyes were able to track you across the room and his face really did seem to be expressive. Another exciting topic was a “plasma” tool that a group of scientific engineers have created for a plastic surgeon friend. The tool is available for both hot and cold plasma surgery and can potentially be used to aid cell and skin regeneration, tattoo removal and may help reduce the growth of resistant bacteria strains such as MRSA. My head was simply spinning when we left….and I’m not even one of the students it was aimed at!
This weekend the celebrations reached fever pitch in Wales as the Six Nations rugby was won, but also in all corners of the earth where there is a touch of the shamrock needing little excuse to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. With a nod to the emerald isle, I have found you several St Patrick’s posts, along with some travel, health and beauty pieces. Sit back and enjoy with a cuppa!