Monday 30 March 2020

Garden Lighting Guide for Summer!

{Collaborative Content} Most homeowners have some sort of garden lighting arrangement already, whether it be security lighting or decorative. However, if you want to give your garden lighting an upgrade, here is a garden lighting guide for summer!

Garden lighting guide for summer – how to enhance your features

Almost all gardens have a feature that dominates the landscape, whether it be a tree, an ornament or even a water fountain! So, why not use lighting to enhance this feature? Use ground-based spotlighting to highlight key areas that you want visitors to notice!

Manipulate the space

Ask any expert about garden lighting techniques and they will mostly discuss layers. By carefully planning out where to position your lighting, you can do wonders to the space! Use your lighting to create a striking contrast between light and dark areas, making small gardens appear bigger and adding depth to large landscapes.

Picture Credit


Did you know that lighting elements from behind can have a huge impact on your garden? Create an heir of mystery by placing your lighting behind your flowers, ornaments and more. It’s a great way to highlight your garden if you don’t people to see the lighting fixtures themselves.

Shape and form

How you layout your lighting can also influence how it directs the shape of objects. By placing your lighting in front of flowers and shrubs, you can create beautiful shadows in the evening that add more depth to the space. This is a great idea if you would like to change the mood in the evening!


Not only can you use lighting to change the shapes in your garden, but also to direct those who visit! Think about the areas you want people to notice more, walkways you’d like them to stick to and plan around that.

So, how would you like to light up your garden?

From wall and ground lighting to decking and pendants, there are so many lighting styles you can layer to create the perfect garden. 

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Does CBD Help with Anxiety?

{Collaborative Content} One of the big claims about CBD - and one of the reasons many people buy products infused with the compound - is that it can calm anxiety in a way comparable to prescribed medication, and without many of the side-effects that make prescription drugs so difficult for many to take. 

It’s important to do your research before you make a decision that affects your health, mental or physical. Whether you prefer CBD edibles, oil, a vape or CBD tea, if you’re relying on them to help calm your anxiety you need to be confident that they will in fact help. When it comes to CBD products, it's also good to know things like how long does an edible high last so that you know exactly what to expect when you do consume them, and are able to work out how much you should eat in order to achieve the desired result.

What is CBD?

Before you start, you need to understand just what CBD is; you may think it is a new trend but really it is actually very beneficial - doing your research, of course, is the responsible thing to do when you’re taking a new medication or supplement!

CBD is a natural compound derived from the Cannabis plant. That might make you question why or even whether it’s legal - Cannabis is a controlled substance in many countries around the world with possession alone punishable with a prison sentence and fine. Fortunately, recently the World Health Organisation conducted a study into CBD and found that, in isolation, it’s not psychoactive, addictive or otherwise harmful. This means that CBD products are legal to be sold with negligible amounts of THC as long as they have no more than .2% traces of THC which is the compound in Cannabis that causes the distinct high that makes it so popular.

What Does CBD Do?

As a cannabinoid, CBD acts on the body’s endocannabinoid system - a series of receptors spread throughout the body that produce different effects when different compounds in this class bind to them. 

Those who believe in CBD’s positive mental health effects claim that the compound stimulates the endocannabinoid system in a similar way to the nervous system, which produces a similar effect to prescription antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. As it’s free of THC, you can enjoy the reduction in anxiety and depression without the attendant intoxication and undermined judgement that come with using Cannabis.

Does it Work?

These are bold claims, and it pays to keep a sceptical mindset. Fortunately, the research that scientists have been able to start is showing some early indications that CBD can indeed match the claims that are made about it. 

While research is in its early stages - it only really began after the WHO cleared CBD of the stigma associated with Cannabis - the early indications are that the compound does act on the brain in the way described and it could be a useful supplement to your mental health regime if not a replacement for clinical options.

The Key to Getting Pregnant?

{Collaborative content} When you decide the time is right to start on your journey towards parenthood, you dont want to wait around! Unfortunately, for a lot of would-be parents, waiting is precisely what they have to do. Even if youre in the peak of reproductive health, with no bar to your fertility, youre at the mercy of sheer chance: pregnancy is never a certainty, and you may simply be unlucky. If you have a health condition that affects your fertility, then those odds lengthen further.

Unfortunately, there is no single key to getting pregnant, but there is one very important thing you can do to shorten those odds and increase the likelihood of your getting pregnant, and it all revolves around ovulation.

Ovulation is the event that makes you fertile: you can only get pregnant when sperm encounter and fertilise an egg within 24 hours of it being ovulated. If you can answer questions like When does ovulation start?’ and How long does ovulation last?you can boost your chances of getting pregnant when you want to.

Ovulation and Fertility

Ovulation and fertility are linked, but they arent one and the same: you dont only have that 24 period in which you can get pregnant. Sperm can survive up to five days in a womans body, so sex from up to 120 hours prior to ovulation can potentially lead to fertilisation and pregnancy!

Knowing when you ovulate is still key to your fertility: if you can predict when you will ovulate, then you know when this fertile windowwill begin. You can consciously focus your attempts to conceive on this time when you stand the greatest chance of success, which boosts your odds of getting pregnant!

Tracking Ovulation

The two most common methods you have of tracking ovulation are ovulation predictor kits, and BBT tracking. OPKs test your urine for the surge in Luteinising Hormone that causes ovulation, and use that tell you when youve ovulated - its an easy test to use and widely available but not always accurate if you have any kind of hormone disruption that could affect your readings.

BBT tracking involves taking your temperature each morning and looking for small changes across the course of your whole cycle. If you detect a rise of a tenth of a degree thats sustained for three days at least, its an indicator you are ovulating.

The key thing to do is to apply what youve learned to your next cycle. If your tests show you you ovulate on the 14th day after your period, then you know that next time, you should begin trying to conceive from the 5th day after your period to boost your chances of getting pregnant!

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Covid -19 and a Nurse in Primary Care *update 3*

It's corona update time again. I am a few days late, I wanted to write, I did, but I couldn't. Thursday took it out of me, I don't even really know why, the day wasn't bad as such it just felt tough. It started with going to watch my son who is in year 3 perform his class assembly. Kids had been dropping like flies at school through illness, self isolation and I suspect parents just not wanting their kids in school. It was pretty emotional watching it, thinking that come Friday, school was going to be no more for many of the kids for quite some time. I was unsure if my children would perhaps be going back to their school as I am a key worker. Very odd vibes at the school, hearing the year 6 children say how gutted that they wouldn't be able to perform in their summer production was pretty heart breaking.

When I got back to work my telephone clinic was full, this was welcomed to be truthful as it kept me busy for the rest of the morning up until lunch. However, the phone call to the 86 year old patient to discuss their results for them to tell me they'd been unable to get any milk and was therefore just sticking to drinking boiled water broke me. How could this be happening? Why are people so selfish to be leaving our elderly and vulnerable like this it is just grossly unfair. I wanted to help them out but they assured me that they were going to go out again the morning to try and get some. We all felt so awful and very much aware that this is the reality that we are seeing at present, so much so my colleagure phoned them on Friday and offered some milk that she didn't need but thankfully they had managed to get some milk. 

I don't know why I felt so emotionally drained when I got home, stress and the worry of the unknown I guess. It's all so odd and rapidly changing at the moment, for someone who likes to be in control this is tough, anything out of my control is unnerving. As soon as I got home I couldn't really speak to the kids, I said hello and ran a bath and then I cried. I cried so much, I couldn't stop, the tears just kept coming, it was so unlike me. I felt so exhausted despite not having 'done' much. My husband didn't get it, I didn't really, my brain is confused. Everything just not how it should be. The kids, none the wiser just that the 'stupid corona' in my 7 year olds words is a pain and needs to go away - yes son it really does. 

My shopping was then delivered. I normally order on Wednesday for delivery on a Thursday but this order I had to do on the previous Saturday night due to the unprcendented increase in online shopping - great, thanks UK hoarders. Not ideal when you are relying on this to feed your family for the week. When it arrived it was barely worth it, I got about 25% of the stuff I had ordered, most was unavailable or subbed, I had no milk, bread, frozen stuff, meat etc, etc. To make matters worse they had subbed my prosecco for bucks fizz, pretty sure the Sainsbury's driver thought I was slightly insane when I told him he take that f*c*ing thing back, I was saying it in a jovial way but my eyes were slightly crazy ! My poor husband kept apolgising or me saying I was a Nurse and I'd had a bad day...... bless him. I couldn't eat, I just felt so down in the dumps, my husband made me have some toast but it was like eating cardborad to be honest. He tried to lift my spirits but I went to bed feeling incredibly deflated and depressed about everything. I then was woken in the middle of the night by my youngest, not really sure she woke up but I put her back into her bed and then I couldn't really get back to sleep, too much running around my mind!

Friday I tried to get out of my funk and focus on some positive things. This was slightly marred by the fact I had to sort out the kids schooling for the forseeable and arrange that with the school as I am a key worker. So I plod on. We all plod on because at present it's all we can do, we will as a nation get through this it just is going to be pretty sucky for a while. 

Stay safe and keep well all, I will be back with another update soon.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Covid - 19 and a Nurse in Primary Care *update 2*

Good evening! I was hoping to do some daily updates but I don't think I can keep up with doing that if I'm truthful, it's tiring! Tuesdays are my early start (7am) so I am shattered by the time I get home and then take my youngest to a dance class so by the time both of my kids are in bed there is not much left of  the day OR my energy to sit and write anything of worth. Today is my day off so I have some time to do a brief update you with how things are in GP land. 

You can read my first update by clicking here. Yesterday still felt all a bit strange. Starting at 7am on a Tuesday usually feels alot calmer and quieter but it is even more so when you know you are seeing minimal patients. As I mentioned in the previous post the patients we are continuing to see are baby immunisations, cervical screening that are on annual recalls (i.e have had treatment through colposcopy, abnormal results or HPV positive), urgent woundcare/bloods and injections that can't be delayed. It is down to clinicians judgement at this point, the same applying to the Dr's who are telephone triaging all of their appointments. I had two patients booked in between the hours of 7am and 09:30 and a couple of phone calls to make, the rest of my time I was replying to tasks, admin bits and bobs, stocking up and doing some drugs checks. I then had a baby immunisation clinic from 09:30 for a couple of hours so it was nice to see a few faces and chat to the Mums that came in, all be it through a mask. It all felt a bit surreal.

I've found it to keep up a cheerful persona if I'm honest, it's been quite draining ensuring that protocol is being followed while keeping up a rapport with patients at the same time reassuring them. At the moment there are things we can be doing to busy ourselves but what happens when these are all done I wonder? Every day things are changing, we get updates and I do feel that we are being fairly well looked after in our organistion but I feel very much supported in the team I work within, we've all got each others backs. I wonder how long this will go on for, of course no one can answer this at present. We have to take it day by day. I worry if I am asked to go elsewhere, although I am NHS I am employed through the GP surgery so a totally different contract. I haven't even really thought about if any of us need to self isolate at home. The update tonight from Boris advising school closure's was no surprise but that 'key workers' such as myself will benefit from being able to send my children to school. This both terrifies me and relieves me in equal measures, however if it isn't the kids own school I will be relucant to send them somewhere totally unfamiliar, I await further information!

Tomorrow I have a telephone clinic booked in the morning and it will keep me busy till lunch time which is great. I will fill my afternoon with some admin and probably cleaning and tidying and I expect cancelling clinics for next week. Watch this space for my next update. Stay safe and keep well out there.

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Lifestyle Factors that could be Affecting your Mental Health.

{Collaborative content} Whether you are currently struggling with your mental health or you’re interested in doing whatever you can to protect your mental health in the future, you may want to start by looking at your lifestyle. Although much of mental illness is unavoidable, there is a significant lifestyle factor at play in many cases of poor mental health and doing what you can to improve the way you live from day to day can really help. Starting from the inside out can really help, tackling your digestive health can be a good way to start, check out Nucific reviews for some inspiration.

With that in mind, here are some of the key lifestyle factors that could be harming your mental health:

Low activity levels

We all know that exercise is good for our physical health and wellbeing, but did you know it is just as important for your mental health too? Exercise has been found to be an effective way of treating depression, often working as well as medication, and since it is free and does not come with any side-effects...well apart from a few aching muscles maybe, it is a great thing to incorporate into your daily schedule.

Ideally, you should try to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day to get those endorphins pumping, but that doesn’t mean you have to sweat it at the gym - a brisk walk can be just as effective if not more so since time in nature has been shown to improve mental wellbeing too. Try a few things and see what works for you; the more likely you are to stick with an exercise the better it will be for you.


A lot of people who are struggling with their mental health use smoking as a crutch. It helps to distract them and gives them something to do, which is perhaps why around half of all mental illness sufferers are smokers. However, smoking is really not a good way to go when you’re having trouble with your mental health. Various research over the years has shown that giving up smoking can improve your mental health within a matter of weeks.

Of course, quitting smoking is hard and when you’re already feeling unwell, adding the extra stress to your life can seem like too much to bear, which is why you may want to take it slow by first cutting down, vaping or seeking specialist help to get you off the cigarettes. If you really don’t think you can manage it right now, wait until you’re in a better headspace and tackle it then. Removing those nasty toxins from your body will not only boost your mood, but it will benefit your physical health, lowering your risk of heart disease and lung cancer, amongst other things, significantly.

Drinking excessively

There is nothing wrong with having a drink or two here and there, but many people who are struggling with their mental health start to self-medicate with alcohol, drinking more than the recommended weekly amount, and increasing their consumption as their mental health gets worse. The thing is, the alcohol is almost certainly contributing to their worsening mental health.

As you will probably know, alcohol effects the brain in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, it can increase feelings of stress anxiety and depression by depleting the brain and body of vital nutrients. It’s also pretty easy to become dependant on it, which can cause fatigue, depression, physical illness and so many bad things. If you drink too much, and you think it’s becoming a problem, you may want to see your doctor or look into local alcohol rehab facilities. If it hasn’t gotten to that point, but you tend to use alcohol as a crutch, try replacing it with a healthier behaviour such as exercise, reading, or seeing friends. Alcohol in moderation is fine, but drinking to excess won’t help at all.

Poor diet

Your diet doesn’t just dictate your weight or physical health - it has a direct impact on your mental wellbeing too. If you eat lots of unhealthy processed meals, sweets, crisps, and stuff that has a low nutrient value, not only will you feel sluggish and unfit, but you’ll probably feel mentally low tool.

If you want to eat for better mental health, you should focus on consuming healthy homemade meals with a focus on whole foods. You should also ensure that you get plenty of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which can be found in oily fish, avocados, walnuts and tofu amongst other things. These fatty acids are known to feed the brain and boost mental health when eaten regularly. They’re also pretty delicious as part of a healthy balanced meal.

People who are feeling down can also be tempted to skip meals or overindulge, but both of these ways of eating can make symptoms worse. It’s far better to eat three healthy balanced meals each day with a couple of healthy snacks such as nuts, carrot sticks or fruit, in between if you need them.

Poor physical health

Unfortunately, if you suffer from poor physical health, you are more likely to struggle with your mental health too. This is understandable because things like chronic pain can be difficult to manage and hard to cope with. Not only that, but infections can cause stress and other mental health symptoms too. That is why it is so important that you do not neglect your physical health. As soon as you notice any issues with your health, see a pharmacist, doctor or appropriate healthcare professional and do what you can to manage/treat them as soon as possible to start feeling better fast.

Toxic relationships

Toxic relationships can shatter your mental health. If you’re in a relationship - romantic or not - with an individual who puts you down all the time, makes you feel bad about yourself, gaslights you, etc., do what you can to get out and get safe as soon as possible. If you don’t, you could have years of stress, anxiety and depression ahead of you. Put yourself first and severe ties with the toxic people in your life.

Spending too much time online

The internet is a wonderful resource and there is absolutely nothing wrong with using it on a regular basis. But, if you spend all of your time online looking at models on Instagram or comparing yourself to your friends on Facebook, your self-esteem is going to take a hit and you’ll probably end up feeling quite low. So, turn off the phone more often, have a social media break or only follow accounts that make you feel good about yourself and see how much better you feel as a result.

Not getting enough sleep

If you don’t get enough sleep, your physical and mental health will suffer. Sleep experts say that anything between 7 and 9 hours is enough for the average adult and that is a figure you should aspire to because going to bed and getting up at the same time each day helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, This can help you to recover faster from physical illnesses, and more importantly, it gives your mind and body the time it needs to rest and repair, so you’re less likely to feel anxious, stressed or depressed when you get up in the morning. Sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and if you're struggling to get adequate rest, you can try out sleep supplements or cannabis products like Delta 9 gummies, which may aid in promoting better sleep quality. You can search the internet for a reputable cannabis store and buy delta 9 gummies online, or you can also source them from a local dispensary. However, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating any new supplements like gummies into your routine.

You don’t make time for meditation

Some people tout meditation as a miracle cure for all that ails you and although that isn’t close to being true, it is fair to say that a regular meditation practice can be hugely beneficial to your mental health. When you meditate, you learn to take things in your stride more. You learn how to stop ruminating on the negative, focus more on the positive, and even how to give yourself a break from thinking full-stop. What’s not to love?

There’s no substitute for good mental health care, but these lifestyle changes could make a significant difference to your health and wellbeing.

Monday 16 March 2020

Day 1 - Covid-19 & a Nurse in Primary Care.

Well what a day in GP land. I thought it would be good (mentally) for me to have a bit of a brain fart and write about how my job as a practice nurse is changing rapidly in light of covid-19. I will try and briefly update when I can to give you an insight of primary care at this trying time. 

I have been watching the events unfold with trepidation wondering what lay in store for myself and my colleagues. We're a good team, we're strong and we rally around each other so I haven't been concerned about our team work one bit. It came as no surprise when last night I was informed that all face to face appointments were to be cancelled and only urgent and patients that can't be delayed were to be seen in surgery. The Gp's also triaging calls to determine the needs of other patients. Face to face appointments for nurses and HCA's (health care assistant) includes things like urgent bloods, wound care, ECG's, baby immunisations, depo contraceptives and 12 weekly injections which shouldn't be delayed. Telephone triage and long term condition reviews (i.e diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular, hypertension etc) were also to be carried out by phone, but we tend to do this anyway so not too much in the way of change in that sense. 

Just a pretty scenic picture to cheer things up!

Most of mine and the healthcare assistants face to face appointments had already been cancelled by my practice lead. On starting work I had a brief catch up with my collegues to see how we were all feeling, generally all good. The girls on reception were already in PPE (personal protective equipment) to field the incoming calls and greet patients on a one to one basis that were able to be seen in the surgery. My other collegue, who is an amazing secretary, was ready and waiting to meet the patients by the doors to direct them to the other nurse that was seeing patients face to face at this point. My job was to cancel the rest of my clinics for the rest of the week other than urgent appointments and to work on my diabetic (QoF - quality of frameworks - google it, I'm not going into it haha) patients to try and achieve any missing markers. My afternoon consisted  of a 'virtual clinic' to which I phone and complete LTC (long term condition) reviews, this was a pre existing clinic so a busy but not a bad afternoon.

It felt strange today. There was no hustle and bustle in the waiting room, less chatter and lots of questions been asked, we were all in good spirits but a little bit uneasy. None of us know what the next few days have in store, we are receiving changing advice daily depending on the advice from PHE (public health england) and the WHO (world health organisation). I will greatly miss seeing patients for the moment and from the people I spoke to today that were over the age of 60 there is certainly an element of unrest and anxiety from them, I spent much time reassuring them that if they have any concerns they must ring us and they will be seen by a Dr or ANP (advance nurse practitioner) as required. One of the GP partners bought us all pizza to boost the morale, what a nice touch and it did help as we were able to scoff some food and have a quick chat over lunch.

Of course,  this is just the tip of the iceberg. It's is a changing situation and I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. What this space for an update and wish us in primary care luck, we have never been up against something like this, it's going to challenge and test us beyond belief. 

Saturday 14 March 2020

Making your Garden Pet and Child Friendly!

{Collaborative content} If you want a garden where the entire family can relax and have fun in total security, you’ll probably want to make sure that it’s both pet and child proof. Making the garden as safe as possible for your babies and fur babies will give you peace of mind and make sure you can make some incredible memories while spending time there.

Below, we’ll take a look at a few pointers you can use:

Raise Your Flower Beds
Raised flower beds are perfect for keeping your flowers away from little feet - both the furry and the human kind. You’ll be able to protect your more delicate plants this way, and ou can keep your hardier shrubs where they are.

Know Which Plants Are Toxic
It’s a good idea to keep toxic plants out of your garden altogether. Some plants are toxic to cats and dogs, and when ingested they could be fatal. Just some of these plants include:
  • Azaleas
  • Bluebells
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Mistletoe
  • Rhubarb

The list is far more extensive so you need to ensure you know which plants are safe and which are not if you have pets.

Install Secure Fencing
There should be no gaps or holes in your fencing if you don’t want your dog to escape. If they like to dig, it might help for you to have an area they can do that. This can be their play area, and they can hide toys or treats there. You could also plant catnip for your cats. You may not be able to stop them from digging, so give them an area where they can safely do it.

Make Sure You Have Places To Take Cover From The Sun
Shady spots are crucial for both toddlers and pets. Your pets are constantly wearing that thick fur coat, so make sure they have somewhere to retreat from the sweltering rays. You could even purchase a small hut or tent for them especially for this purpose, although whether they use it or not is up to them.

Reduce The Use Of Chemicals And Fertilisers
Chemicals and fertilisers can help your garden sometimes, but replacing them with more natural alternatives will be better for your pets and children, as well as the wildlife in your garden. Slug pellets are particularly poisonous.

Keeping Your Grass Healthy
If you want healthy, green grass no matter who is walking (and peeing) all over it, the best thing to do might be to install artificial grass. You can get samples from a place like and figure out if it’s for you. Artificial grass still needs a little maintenance, but it’ll look better for longer.

Watch Out For Your Water Features
Water features could be a drowning hazard in your garden. Most drownings of 2 and 3 year olds happen in the home and garden. Even near drownings can cause major injuries. This doesn’t just mean ponds where your child could fall and not get out - even a bucket of water left lying around could be an issue.

Wednesday 11 March 2020

The History of the CICA.

Photo courtesy of Jon Tyson (Unsplash)

{Collaborative content} The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, or the CICA, is a UK government agency which dates back over 50 years. You may have heard about CICA claims for victims of crimes, but if you want to know more about what the CICA is and what it does, then the following guide can help. The UK government sometimes makes changes to the CICA.

What is the CICA?

The agency that is today known as the CICA began as the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board in 1964. It did not become the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority until this was established in 1996. Based in Glasgow, the CICA operates in England, Wales, and Scotland, and is funded by the Ministry of Justice and the Justice Directorate. The scheme is designed to pay financial compensation to victims of violent criminal injury in the UK. Northern Ireland has a separate compensation agency within its Department of Justice instead of the CICA.

Are there any problems with the CICA?

Over the years, the agency has made payments totalling more than £3 billion to victims of violent crime. This is the most generous compensation scheme of its kind in the world. That said, the CICA has also received plenty of criticism for its handling of criminal injury cases. In some cases, the CICA failed to make an adequate compensation award. Much criticism is aimed at the way that the process can re-traumatize vulnerable victims, consider them to have contributed to their injury, or deny compensation for those with criminal convictions.

Have the CICA rules changed?

The most recent iteration of the CICA scheme was reformed in 2012 under Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. The newer rules are more complex and restrictive than before, with strict criteria for eligibility and a 35-tier system of tariffs split into Part A and Part B to cover different types of injuries and their compensation award value. Most recently, the abolishing of the “same roof” in 1979 was made retrospective as of 2019. This means that victims who were denied compensation previously due to living with their abuser will now be eligible to make a claim.

Who can contact the CICA?

Anyone who has been the victim of a violent crime and suffered a long-lasting or permanent injury can apply for compensation from the government after reporting the crime to the police and assisting with their investigation and the prosecution as far as possible. Adults can claim on behalf of child victims, or family members may claim on behalf of deceased victims. If you seek legal assistance from a solicitor for CICA claim advice, they may contact the CICA on your behalf. You must contact the CICA to make a claim within 2 years of the criminal injury.

How to Contact the CICA

It is possible to contact the CICA online, call the CICA on the phone, or write to the CICA and apply via post. There is an online CICA contact form if you want to contact the CICA with an enquiry about an existing case, such as checking the progress of an application. It is not possible to visit the CICA offices in person, because they are not open to the public. You can contact them using the methods above between 8.30am and 5pm on weekdays (from 10am on Wednesdays). You can contact the CICA to report fraud or make an FOI request.

Saturday 7 March 2020

Coronavirus. How worried are we?

The words that we've been hearing alot of recently........nope not Brexit....that is old news for the moment! We have a new epidemic sweeping the nation, Novel Coronavirus AKA COVID-19. From the moment we first heard about it affecting Wuhan, China in December 2019 (although I suspect there was more to it than we initially heard) the UK news then became consumed with the reporting of the virus. 

Photo Credit unsplash

So what do we know about COVID-19 at the present?

- So far in the UK there has been 115 confirmed positive cases (as of Friday 06/03 morning). Information from  tells us that as of 6 March, a total of 18,083 people have been tested in the UK, of which 17, 968 were confirmed negative. 

- We know it is seeming to be spreading at quite a fairly alarming rate with the confirmed number of cases on the increase, which is to be expected as a new virus entering the population. But how worried should we be?

- It seems to be more prevalent in the over 65's, children at present seem to be unaffected as far as being reported. Mostly we are being told that cases are mild, symptoms ranging from a fever, cough, cold like symptoms and shortness of breath. For the 'healthy' person a full recovery is to be expected but for the elderly and those with long term conditions or a weakened immune system it could pose quite the risk and could progress to sever pneumonia. 

We are seeing panic buying and genuine worry from many people. The media adds to the mass hysteria as they always do and from my point of view as a nurse in general practice I do wonder just how at risk we all are. I have also very recently returned from Dubai, walking through the airport it was at the front of my mind that it's a breeding ground for bacteria and a multitude of germs! Thus begs the question how do I know I haven't been in contact with someone harbouring coronavirus?! So for myself I am a little concerned as I would hate to put anyone at risk and don't hugely want to put myself at risk but I'm no more concerned than contracting normal influenza or norovirus for example! In the grand scheme of things and to put things in perspective there are alot more annual deaths from seasonal influenza that coronavirus at present, however we have not reached the peak of the virus and it's likely to get worse before it gets better so it's a case of watching and waiting and of course taking universal hand washing precautions which we should all be doing anyway to prevent the spread. 

As a Nurse this fascinates me and how it is panning out, spreading etc etc and I thought I would ask some fellow bloggers their thoughts. The general thoughts are mixed.

Carly from Crazy Tots and Me isn't concerned at all and says; I believe it's just the same as having the flu although it's completely different. But I feel selfish for not being concerned because it does affect those who are vulnerable, my mother is quite vulnerable as she's often ill. I try not to worry because there's nothing we can do about it and it has been mentioned that there won't be a vaccination for it for at least a year minimum.

Josie from Me, them and the Others is not in the slightest bit worried about the virus from a health point of view but I’m self employed running an events based business, because of people’s concerns they may choose not to attend my events or I may have to cancel them if that becomes the government guidance so I am now worried about my livelihood, as I imagine a lot of other self employed people are.

Debbie from Mums the Boss is not so concerned for herself and and family, not really worried at all. Even if they shut the schools and send the kids home for a while, we’d have great fun! I think the panic buying is funny and certainly not worrying about stuff myself. But I have a couple of friends with various health conditions that could do without getting a nasty cough right now. I worry about my dad in his care home.

Katie who blogs over at Counting to Ten on the other hand  is getting increasingly worried, but I think the newspapers really aren’t being helpful. I fully appreciate the flu is more dangerous, but a widespread pandemic of any illness will still cause loss of life and disruption. I don’t want to lose any of my loved ones so it’s one more thing to worry about. I have recently started to change my behaviour to limit the germs my family are exposed to.

Laura who writes over at Autumn's Mummy says I wasn't too worried, putting it down to the media catastrophising everything again. However, the alarming rate that it's spreading at and the lack of knowledge about it is causing me to become increasingly concerned. It doesn't help that there has now been a case very close to home!

photo credit unsplash

Jennifer from Rice cakes and raisins isn't overly worried; at this point from a health point of view for myself but more so for older relatives. From I business point of view, I do wonder whether it may begin to affect bookings in the baby classes I run as people opt to stay home. Time will tell I guess.

Nicola who blogs at Travelling with boys is concerned. The death rate is considerably higher than normal flu and I have a 14 month old baby who I feel is at risk. I'm also worried about money if we have to take extended amounts of time off work to look after ourselves or our children if we fall in.

Lisa from Mumma Scribbles is a bit worried. Mostly for my boys as I would rather they didn't get it. I'm more worried about my smallest who never deals with coughs and colds very well and usually ends up in hospital with croup etc. I'm also worried about my Mum being in the be cautious age group and also, we are getting married in June and I don't know if this will have any impact on that if it continues. We have a lot of elderly relatives that I'm worried about. I am doing what I can to keep us healthy but it's spreading now at quite a rate.

Finally, Kimberly from Oddhogg says I have type 1 diabetes which puts me in the high risk category. I have had a pneumonia vaccination but that is not guaranteed to help. My husband and eldest child are both fairly resilient when it comes to bugs, but my youngest struggles with his chest regularly and pays fairly frequent visits to the hospital and so I do have concerns that he may be badly affected. I don't fear death for us, but I do think it could have a big impact on our family.

So as you can see there are mixed thoughts and some genuine concern, as mentioned above this hasn't peaked yet and it's unclear how things are going to play out. Personally I think the panic buying is extreme and unnecessary but the emphasis on good hand hygiene and infection control measures is paramount. We should still continue as we have been but be cautious about physical contact and just being a little bit more health aware. I would love to hear your thoughts about things and if you're concerned or stockpiling?

Fingers crossed that things don't get too awful. I think a little perspective from people would be good and It would certainly be nice to see something else featuring in the press!

Just how are you Supposed to Design a Garden?

{Collaborative content} The warmer months are slowly on their way, waving goodbye to the winter with love and appreciation. This means that once again we will soon be considering our exterior space, spending time in the garden and allowing our children to play there during the weekends and after school. The arrival of the sunny weather once more may get your creative juices flowing again, and this may lead you to ask ‘just how am I supposed to design this garden?’

When we have the ambition to make the most of our green space, we can immediately begin to feel somewhat overwhelmed by the task. It’s like staring at a blank canvas on an easel, we know that the first brush stroke to get the painting going is the hardest stroke of all, because it immediately plucks a direction out of the infinite choices you could have made, by extension limiting yourself to a certain plan.

Yet these plans can be wonderful. It’s our hope that with the following advice to guide you, designing a garden can be a carefree and worthwhile use of your time. Please, consider:

Excellent Inspiration

Finding inspiration shouldn’t feel like a chore. Some may arrange it to feel just like that, which is often borne from the idea that you need to be perfect and to try and find a perfect replica of another garden to guide your efforts. But truly, inspiration is more than that. It might come through reading gardening magazines, watching television programs or YouTube channels that shed light on someone elses’ project. You may also find inspiration walking through your local gardening centre, or heading to a larger and more impressive facility further afield.

Inspiration, from the colour depth of flowers to the beautiful arrangement of a garden path and how the lights help it look ethereal at night, will help you encourage your decision making process with more confidence, and that in itself can be a wonderful thing to build and enjoy.

Know Your Purpose

What’s your purpose for designing this garden this year? Do you wish to restore some of the natural beauty of the property now that you’re renovating it? Might this enable you to install some french doors and a beautiful deck or patio to help you entertain with relative ease as the interior and exterior of your home merge?

Might it be that you wish to grow vegetables this year? If so, segmenting space for said root vegetables can be a great idea, as can looking at the best greenhouse ideas to help you squeeze out the most value from this process. Might it simply be that since you’ve had tree surgeons completely remove a somewhat broken and rotting treeline from a property you’ve just moved into, you now have much more space to work with? That can be a great, yet humble place to start.

When you know your purpose, you can define your garden inspiration and practical decisions around that, which gives you an orientation to follow. To that end, this process will be much less confusing.

Have Fun With It

Have fun with the process. You don’t have to win any awards to enjoy a beautiful garden you most appreciate. For instance, your project for that month may be purchasing overarches to line the garden pathway, which you then paint white and line with orchids. Maybe you’re interested in building a small and humble treehouse for your children, provided it’s safe. Additionally, maybe you’re happy with opening up space for a garden trampoline for your children to enjoy, despite this cutting into space where you could have planted a flowerbed.

It’s fine to fit your garden for you, even if the colors of flowers that go together may not be the first choice of a florist, or maybe despite needing to repair a fence. For instance, sometimes elderly homeowners decide to use synthetic turf to help their garden stand out and make the environment much easier to maintain, which is understandable. No matter what you go for, make sure it makes sense to you, and allows you to enjoy this space in health and appreciation. Curating your garden space shouldn’t be a chore, it should be a practice you enjoy and take part in because you wish to. No matter if you hope to achieve that all on your own, or with the help of a landscape architect, you’re on your way.

With this advice, we hope you can better design your garden with confidence.