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Blackbird on a plantpot

If you’d love to see more wildlife in your garden, clever choices for your borders and herb patches can give nature a helping hand.

And by making space for the mini-beasts you can provide for the whole food chain, without shelling out for specialist supplies.

When you leave part of your garden untouched, with good access to other gardens or wild spaces, you are creating safe area for wildlife away from human influences.

An undisturbed pile of logs makes an excellent hideaway for an incredible number of insects which in turn can attract birds and mammals.

But if you prefer a more orderly garden, you can still provide additional food and shelter for all the small things – and some of the big ones too – with a good mix of plants.

  • Trees not only give birds somewhere to nest but can provide fruit for foxes, badgers and even deer
  • Hedgerows, such as holly, provide essential cover and corridors that join up green spaces for small mammals
  • A range of shrubs that flower at different times will improve the diversity of visitors to your garden
  • Longer grass is essential for egg-laying insects such as butterflies, so leave a bit of lawn untrimmed
  • Taller flowers will attract flying friends from bees to dragonflies
  • Night-scented plants such as buddleia and evening primrose are great for moths which in turn are a feast for bats
  • Wall climbers can provide links between gardens for pollinators
  • Make a calm haven in coastal gardens with trellis and evergreens to act as a windbreak
  • Don’t forget your water feature: ponds are essential for amphibians and offer a bath and beverage for birds
  • Choose your own compost over peat – the latter is a threatened habitat while compost heaps are a warm home to reptiles as well as a great source of nutrients for your garden

There is some debate between experts over whether native plant species are better for our wildlife and a study is currently underway at the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Wisley garden in Surrey to determine which bugs like best.

Helen Bostock is a RHS wildlife gardening specialist who runs the Plants for Bugs project and has researched the most frequently recommended plants to attract the birds, bees, butterflies and more.

Her top ten plants every wildlife gardener should consider for their patch are: sunflowers, foxgloves, thyme, lavender, honeysuckle, rowan, ice plant, firethorn, barberry and purple loosestrife.

We all love eating chocolate and now there’s even more reason for it to put a smile on our face.

Increasing evidence suggests that our once guilty pleasure can actually have health benefits, which is just as well, considering the average Brit scoffs a whopping 196g – the equivalent of six Cadbury’s Flakes – every week.

One theory why we love chocolate so much is that a brain-active chemical called phenylethylamine in cocoa allegedly stimulates the same reaction that we experience when we’re falling in love.

Another is that we crave it in an unconscious bid to top up magnesium – a mineral that helps bolster against stress – but the evidence is thin on the ground.

“There’s actually little evidence that chocolate is truly addictive in any physical sense,” says registered dietician Elphee Medici.

“It’s more likely the uniquely seductive combination of aroma, sweetness and texture, and the fact we associate it with pleasure and reward that makes us love it so much.”

In other words, it tastes great and can do us some good too, as long as you choose the right types and don’t go too mad (most health experts recommend that we stick to about 30g of chocolate a day, or six small squares).

In celebration of National Chocolate Week (8-14 October), here are 10 reasons to tuck in:

1 It may help lower blood pressure

Flavanols found in cocoa beans aid production of nitric oxide, which stimulates blood vessels to dilate.

One analysis of 850 mainly healthy participants found that flavanol-rich chocolate and cocoa products had a small but statistically significant effect in lowering blood pressure in the short term.

Processing can lower flavonol content, so for best effect try a traditional cocoa drink made with “non-alkalised” beans (£3.50 for 125g from http://www.chocacao.co.uk)

2 It might help to keep you smart

A nice mug of cocoa might also help an ageing brain, a recent study in the journal Hypertension found. Elderly participants who received high flavonol chocolate drinks had improved mental performance after eight weeks.

3 It doesn’t give you spots after all

“This is a myth”, says Elphee.

“No one food that can cause acne, though there is some evidence that an unhealthy diet in general – high in refined carbohydrates, low in fruit and vegetables – may be a factor.”

Interestingly, both dark and milk chocolate have a relatively low glycaemic index, having a more favourable effect on blood sugar and insulin – and, potentially, your skin – than other sweet foods like sugary drinks or marshmallows.

4 It could help protect against heart attacks and strokes

Chocolate is high in saturated fat, but the particular type – stearic acid – predominant in cocoa butter does not raise cholesterol like other saturates.

Research at Cambridge University found that people consuming the most chocolate had a 37% lower risk of heart disease and a 29% lower risk of stroke than those who consumed less chocolate.

However, this “high” intake only amounted to 63g a week, and study author Dr Oscar Franco, urges: “Chocolate may be beneficial, but it should be eaten in a moderate way, not in large quantities and not in binges.”

man

life and love

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D341689031&field-keywords=Love+and+life+by+Gillian+Sims

Always Remember

dragom

dragom

Some folks’ll boast about their family trees,
And there’s some trees they ought to lop;
But our family tree, believe me, goes right back,
You can see monkeys sitting on top!

To give you some idea of our family tree,
And don’t think I’m boastin’ nor braggin’,
My great, great, great, great, great, great, great Uncle George,
Wor the Saint George who slaughtered the Dragon.

Aye, he wor a blacksmith, not one of the sort
Who shoe horses and sing anvil chorusses,
He used to shoe Dinasauss – big woolly Elephants,
Thumping great Brontosauruses.

Well, one day while he shod a Brontosauruses,
A feller ran into the forge,
He wor shivering with fright and his face pale and white,
And when he got his breath he said ‘George –

‘Eh, I’ve just seen a dragon, a whopping great dragon,’
And uncle said ‘Seen what? A dragon!
Thou’d best see a doctor, you’ve got ’em owld lad,
Eh, I thought you were on water wagon!’

But the fellow said, ‘Nay, ’twere a big fiery dragon,
‘Twere belchin’ out fire as it run!’
And Uncle George said ‘I could do with a dragon
With coal now at two quid a ton.’

And the feller said ‘Eh, but what’s more
I’ve just heard that the old Baron up at the Castle
Says, him as kills Dragon can marry his daughter,
She’s lovely and she’s worth a parcel.’

Then fellow goes off and old Uncle George thinks,
Of the brass and the bride in old satin,
So he brings out his pup and a pair of his ferrets,
And says to ’em ‘We’re going ratting.’

The ferrets they cocked up their noses with joy,
And the old Bull pup’s tail kept a-waggin’,
Then Uncle George shoves ’em a’side rabbit hole,
And says to ’em ‘Go on, fetch Dragon.’

Then suddenly he smells a sulphery smell,
Then he sees a big gigantic lizzard,
With smoke coming out of its eyes and its ear’oles,
And flames coming out of its gizzard.

And was George afraid? Yes, he was and he run,
And he hid there in one of the ditches,
While the Dragon, the pig, ate his ferrets and pup,
Aye, best of his prize-winning er – she dogs.

Then George said ‘Gad zooks! I’ll split thee to the wizzen,
By Gum, but he were in a fury,
And he runs to a junk shop, and buys a spear,
And he pinches a Drayhorse from Brew’ry.

Then he sallies forth with a teatray on chest,
On his head he’d a big copper kettle,
With a couple of flat irons to throw at the Dragon,
Owd George were a real man of mettle!

At last he meets Dragon beside of the pump,
Dragon sees him and breathes fire and slaughter,
But George he were ready and in Dragon’s mouth,
He just throws a big pail of water!

The Dragon’s breath sizzled he’d put out the fire,
Our family are all clever fellows!
Then so as that owd Dragon can’t blow up more fire,
With his big spear he punctures his bellows.

Then finding he’d killed it, he out with his knife,
He had gumption beside other merits –
And he cuts open Dragon, and under it’s vest,
Safe and sound are the pup and the ferrets.

That night the Old Baron gave Uncle his bride,
When he saw her he fainted with horror,
She’d a face like a kite, worse than that the old Baron
Said ‘George, you’ll be Saint George tomorrow.’

‘Course, as St George t’were no drinking nor smoking,
They barred him horse racing as well,
And poor old St George, when he looked at his Bride,
Used to wish that old Dragon to… Blazes!

And he got so fed up with this being a Saint,
And the Princess he’d won always naggin’,
That he bunked off one day and he opened a pub,
And he called it the ‘George and the Dragon.

And he did a fine trade, eh, for years and for years.
People all came from near and from far there
Just to see Uncle George and the Dragon which he had had,
Stuffed and hung up in the bar there.

T’were a thousand feet long and three hundred feet ‘wide,
But one day while a big crowd observed it,
It fell off the nail, and squashed Uncle George,
And the blinking old liar deserved it.

Copyright; Weston & Lee

bin

6 Ways To Boost Your Child’s Immune System

We don’t just have to accept our child’s current state of health. We can actually take measures to boost their defenses, speed healing, and help them to gain a greater level of wellness.

Here’s how:

1. It starts with a great diet.

Children’s immune systems can take a hit if they’re constantly being bombarded with food intolerances, additives, preservatives, and sugar. When a child has a food allergy, her digestion suffers, inflammation is ramped up, which makes fending off viruses and bacteria much more difficult. It’s a similar story when a child takes in more additives and preservatives than her body can deal with.

Sugar has been shown in many clinical trials to actually suppress immunity. To keep kids well, limit their overall intake of additives, sugar, and find out which foods are allergens. Focus on plenty of fresh veggies, whole fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs, and meat.

2. Maintain your child’s microbiota!

Probiotics are the friendly helpful bacteria that naturally occur in our guts. They protect our digestive tracts, help us to digest food, assist in toxin clearance, and shield us from invading bacteria and viruses. When this bacterial balance becomes disrupted in children, we can see changes in a child’s ability to fend off infections.

I recommend starting children on a probiotic supplement containing lactobacillus and bifidobacteria strains early on — between 5 and 20 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day depending on age.

3. Help calm their stress and anxiety.

In today’s fast-paced world, parents are overstressed, children are over-scheduled, and everyone suffers. Children’s bodies have the same response to stress that adults’ do — their cortisol and adrenaline rises. When this elevation in stress hormones is sustained, their immune systems’ response is lowered.

It’s important for children to have lots of down time, time for creative play, and simply times of rest. Busy bodies need to take a break every now and then for their immune systems to thrive.

4. Make sure they’re getting enough good sleep.

Most children are not getting the required amount of sleep. Depending on age, children need between ten and 14 hours of sleep per day. And it’s the quality of sleep that matters most. For proper secretion of melatonin (our sleep hormone), children need to sleep in the dark, without a night light. Since electromagnetic frequency has also been shown to affect sleep quality, make sure your child’s room is unplugged. Make sure all electronic devices are unplugged or better yet, just keep them in another room.

5. Remember that fever helps fight infection.

Although many parents panic at the first sign of a rise in temperature on the thermometer, it’s important to recognize that fever is only a sign of and not an illness itself. Fever is your child’s body’s response to an infection and without it, her body isn’t as effective at fighting the illness. The truth is, your child’s immune systems works better at a high temperature too, so she can get better quickly. Please note that while I do encourage fevers, it’s important to see a physician to make sure the fever is not a sign that something else is going on.

6. Supplements and herbs can work wonders.

The best supplements to boost a child’s immune system are vitamin D and zinc. The herbs elderberry and astragalus are my favorites for recurrent respiratory tract infections. For allergies, fish oil, vitamin C, and nettles work wonders. Please make sure to see your physician before starting your child on any new supplement or herb regiment

scan

  • First credible study of effect of violent gaming on brain
  • Test group of 22 young men showed ‘clear’ differences in MRI scans after one week of gaming
  • Areas effected seem to be those that control cognitive function and emotional control

Games such as Assassin’s Creed feature a huge amount of physical violence – and MRI scans demonstrate that playing such games DOES have an effect on the brain

Violent video games and other computer entertainment have long been criticised for damaging youngsters’ brain.

But activists such as Oxford Professor Baroness Greenfield have often presented little science to back up their allegations.

However, extensive research into the subject has now provided worrying results that support her claims.

‘Screen technologies cause high arousal which in turn activates the brain system’s underlying addiction,’ the neurologist said last month in an attack that accused games of causing ‘dementia’ in children.

‘This results in the attraction of yet more screen-based activity.’

And now the first genuinely scientific attempt to analyse the emotive subject has thrown up astonishing results that suggest she is right.

Differences in brain activity between young men who played violent games and ones who didn’t were visible in a randomly assigned sample in just one week.

A presentation at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America told how fMRI scans were used to analyse the effects of playing violent videogames on brain activity.

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GREAT ADVICE

Spring Clean_BDH

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Spring Dreams

Xiong Nai Xin Retreat

butterfly_treeWillow in blossom.

Butterfly spreads wings in air,

Dreaming of springtime.

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A nice family moment!

Natures rest

scarcrow

Whilst the lilies blaze

In the summer rays

The butterflies dance

In their summer romance

The robin awaits

The fresh worms to escape

From the ground

They tease,until they are found

Where gardeners sow

Fresh veg to grow

Potatoes,leeks and marrow

The scarecrow stands so proud

Thankful for the sunshine now

He watches with an evil eye

When the birds reluctantly pass by

Roses parade along the fence

Flirting with the bees,

Soaking up their heavy scent

Capturing the moment

Of this summer scene

Gillian Sims

Send your poetry to gillianandthomas@yahoo.com

food

 

Nutrition for kids is based on the same principles as nutrition for adults. Everyone needs the same types of nutrients — such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fat. Children, however, need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages.

So what’s the best formula to fuel your child’s growth and development? Check out these nutrition basics for girls and boys at various ages, based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Consider these nutrient-dense foods:

  • Protein. Choose seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Fruits. Encourage your child to eat a variety of fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruits — rather than fruit juice. If your child drinks juice, make sure it’s 100 percent juice and limit his or her servings.
  • Vegetables. Serve a variety of fresh, canned or frozen vegetables — especially dark green, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas.
  • Grains. Choose whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, or brown or wild rice.
  • Dairy. Encourage your child to eat and drink fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy beverages.

Aim to limit your child’s calories from solid fats and added sugar, such as butter, cake and soda. Look for ways to replace solid fats with vegetable and nut oils, which provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Oils are naturally present in olives, nuts, avocados and seafood.

If you have questions about nutrition for kids or specific concerns about your child’s diet, talk to your child’s doctor or a registered dietitian.

 
 
Ages 2 to 3: Daily guidelines for girls and boys
Calories 1,000-1,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 2-4 ounces
Fruits 1-1.5 cups
Vegetables 1-1.5 cups
Grains 3-5 ounces
Dairy 2-2.5 cups
Ages 4 to 8: Daily guidelines for girls
Calories 1,200-1,800, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 3-5 ounces
Fruits 1-1.5 cups
Vegetables 1.5-2.5 cups
Grains 4-6 ounces
Dairy 2.5-3 cups
Ages 4 to 8: Daily guidelines for boys
Calories 1,200-2,000, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 3-5.5 ounces
Fruits 1-2 cups
Vegetables 1.5-2.5 cups
Grains 4-6 ounces
Dairy 2.5-3 cups
Ages 9 to 13: Daily guidelines for girls
Calories 1,400-2,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 4-6 ounces
Fruits 1.5-2 cups
Vegetables 1.5-3 cups
Grains 5-7 ounces
Dairy 2.5-3 cups
Ages 9 to 13: Daily guidelines for boys
Calories 1,600-2,600, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 5-6.5 ounces
Fruits 1.5-2 cups
Vegetables 2-3.5 cups
Grains 5-9 ounces
Dairy 3 cups
Ages 14 to 18: Daily guidelines for girls
Calories 1,800-2,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 5-6.5 ounces
Fruits 1.5-2 cups
Vegetables 2.5-3 cups
Grains 6-8 ounces
Dairy 3 cups
Ages 14 to 18: Daily guidelines for boys
Calories 2,000-3,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 5.5-7 ounces
Fruits 2-2.5 cups
Vegetables 2.5-4 cups
Grains 6-10 ounces
Dairy 3 cups
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