Vol. 1 A/W 2020 Â£10.00
womanhood. Welcome to a better future. Inside these pages is a vision shared by many women. Womanhood magazine is here to challenge stereotypes and positively shape our perception of age, encouraging a future where woman are represented and valued no matter what. From this page onward, youâ€™ll find inspiring real women in the words you read and images that you see.
THE TEAM Editor: Phoebe Paton CONTRIBUTORS Words: Cecilia Paton Rachel Marlow Laurie Bronze Charlotte Verdeyen Claire Dyer Helen De Gregory Hilary Hares Jane Cable Beth Moloney Pamela Davies Deborah Jenkins Julie Clay Slyvia Fountaine Nikky Gaylor Miriam Blyth Jordan Turner Jane Davies Phoebe Paton Photos: Andy James Laurie Bronze Charlotte Verdeyen Claire Dyer Annie Sprat Pamela Davies Naomi Sparks Slyvia Fountaine Phoebe Paton Joesphine Gray Jane Cable Magic Bowls Jesser Paton Illustrations: Hazel Anne
Helen De Gregory by Phoebe Paton
Phoebe Paton Helen De Gregory
Womanhood is a quarterly publication. The articles published reflect the opinions of the respective authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the editor. @2020 womanhood. All rights reserved. All material in this magazine may not be reproduced, transmitted, or distributed in any form without the written permission of womanhood.
EDITORâ€™S NOTE page 5
SPOTLIGHT ON MOROCCO page 62
WHY THE WORLD NEEDS WOMANHOOD MAGAZINE page 6
EFFORTLESS VEGAN DINING page 72
THE NEW ICONS page 10
FIND YOUR NATURAL BEAUTY page 80
DRESSED FOR SUCCESS page 22
TIME TO RELAX page 86
HELEN DE GREGORY page 24
THE MISSING PIECE OF THE PUZZLE page 90
FOR THE LOVE OF WORDS page 40 LIVING THE DREAM page 42 EXPLORING A NEW WAY OF LIVE page 44 WHAT NEXT? page 52 IS IT TIME... TO MOVE TO THE COUNTRY? page 56 OUR ABC CHALLENGE page 60
IS IT TIME TO TRY WEIGHTLIFTING? page 94 THE MENOPAUSE JOURNEY page 96 STARTING THE CONVERSATION page 100
EDITOR’S NOTE This first issue of Womanhood magazine explores ageing, in a society where many women over 50 feel unrepresented in the fashion and beauty industry, now is the time to challenge stereotypes and positively shape our perception of age; encouraging a future where we can all embrace growing older. Our collective understanding as a society of what later life looks like remains woefully outdated. Age no longer dictates the way woman live. Physical capacity, financial circumstances and mindset arguably have far greater influence, and there’s no fixed pattern for how any of us grows older. We dive deeper into this issue with an interview with myself and my mother, my inspiration behind creating Womanhood. Coming from a generation of rebels, she lives life according to how she feels, rather than how others believe she should, as many women the same age now do. We also discuss the modelling industry and personal style with Helen De Gregory, seen on our front cover for this issue. Womanhood then explored identity, lifestyle and tackled taboo topics such as menopause and sexual wellness with business owner Nicki Gaylor. Whilst including inspiring stories and conversations with real women, to provide readers with inspiration on what to do next, whether it’s to travel to a new destination, try a vegan lifestyle or start a new career. I’d like to thank all the people who collaborated with us (published authors, influencers, photographers, travellers and artists) from across the UK who made this possible. As for models we approached real women over 50, all different shapes and sizes to make everyone feel represented, I feel really proud to have produced a magazine where retouching wrinkles in not an option, we aim to see the beauty in the imperfect and learn to feel comfortable with our scars, signs of age or the stretch marks. I’d love to know what you think of our first issue, and which articles you most enjoy. Thank you for reading and joining our community of the next generation of powerful woman. Phoebe Paton.
WHY THE WORLD NEEDS WOMANHOOD MAGAZINE. Interview with Mother & Daughter Cecilia and Phoebe
What inspired you to create the magazine Womanhood? P: I’ve always hated the way older woman are portrayed in the media, and it made me worry about growing old myself. I knew when I reached 55, I wouldn’t be interested in reading a magazine about having a perfectly decorated house for Christmas and being told how to do practical stuff in a dummed down language. So, I sat with my mum one night and started brainstorming this idea. C: Yes, when Phoebe came to me with this idea it made me realise how ‘ageing’ is looked down upon, in fact when you reach the
middle-aged mark you find older woman are all stereotyped to be the same person. For the younger generations there are hundreds of magazines tailored to different styles and interests but for my age group there are just old-fashioned options which have not kept up with the modern woman. Who is Womanhood for? P: Womanhood is not just for ‘one’ type of woman, it is for the independent woman, woman in business, the woman who works from home, the mother, the grandmother, the daughter, the retired woman and the woman who likes to change things up. The aim is to make all woman feel good and inspired.
P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y Jesser Paton
“It’s such a wonderful way to walk into the future...”
Why the World Needs Womanhood Magazine
How did you decide on the name of the magazine? P: Deciding on the name of the magazine was a really tough decision, I had started off with a completely different name and only decided to change it later on as something just didn’t feel right, I couldn’t put my finger on it. I really wanted to include ‘woman’ in the title but found it hard to create a unique name which wasn’t already an existing publication. Then one day talking with my mum she suggested sisterhood, I liked this but then womanhood just came to me and then there was no going back! C: I agree, I think womanhood sounds sophisticated and gives a community vibe as if we are all in this together and as a customer I think that’s important! How did you decide on what topics were included? P: This involved research, I was nervous about getting it wrong and I didn’t want it to come across as a 22 year old woman telling other woman how they should be living their life. However, with the help of others I was able to come up with plenty of ideas to suit a wide range of woman. I really feel privileged to be able to curate stories about amazing, interesting woman and their journeys. C: Yes I got all my friends involved and asked them what they would want to read about, many of them also offered to write articles and I thought that was great as many of us are sick to death reading about celebrities, we want to hear real life inspiring stories.
I believe that the area’s covered in this magazine will inspire and motivate a lot of woman my age, whether that’s to try a new activity, new fashion look or try a vegan lifestyle for a week. Is there anything else you want to say to readers? P: I just want to add that ageing should not be viewed as scary or something to be ashamed of anymore, in fact it’s a privilege and life should never be spent worrying about it but having fun and being your best self. We are women, we matter and deserve to be acknowledged no matter what our age. C: I agree, in the past ageing was portrayed as a closing down of opportunities but really for me it has been the complete opposite. When I was young, I planned the direction of my life, I went to college, secured a job, got married, had two daughters but now I have no set plans and the opportunities are endless. This magazine will hopefully get that across to others who haven’t quite realised that, as it’s such a wonderful way to walk into the future.
THE NEW ICONS RACHEL @fashionable_later Rachel Marlow aged 59, also known for her successful Instagram account, has become part of the growing group of older influencers inspiring all generations from her bold stylish fashion choices. I am a 59 year old retired Primary school teacher with a passion for fashion. I started to post outfit pictures to Instagram about 20 months ago. I wasn’t expecting to get much response but my following grew rapidly. I use my grid to express my love of bold colours, beautiful dresses in particular and eclectic styling.
I don’t want to be defined by my age and I’m showing that anyone can wear anything! I get a good amount of brand interest and have been lucky to work with clothing brands I have admired for years. I do try and be sustainable and check out the ethics of a brand first. I’ve promoted all sorts of things: not just clothing. A recent book launch, a ladies’ magazine, jewellery, beauty products, treatments and even a well known tea brand. I have to like and believe in what I am endorsing though. It’s a very sociable world and through it I’ve made great friends. I think it has provided many opportunities for me and expanded my horizons.
Photographer: Andy James Dress: Dream Sister Jane Shoes: Lotus Shoes Boots
Photographer: Andy James Jacket: Joules Skirt: Baukjen Jumper: Bella Freud Shoes: Lotus Shoes Boots
Photographer: Andy James Dress: Dream Sister Jane Shoes: Marks & Spencerâ€™s Boots
Coat: JD Williams Turtle Neck: Lily Silk Trousers: Roman Bag: Lulu Guinness Shoes: Peacocks Ankle Boots
The New Icons
“I am proof it ’s never too late to follow your passions ”
LAURIE @vanity_and_me Laurie Bronze, 55, lives in London with her partner Dee, 54. She runs the blog Vanity and Me and has eight grandchildren. I first discovered my love for fashion and beauty when I was in school, but I never thought one day I could be influencing people on current trends. I was first inspired to start my online account after reading about another woman who had started blogging about her hobbies. Inspired I started my own blog about my interests, writing about all things fashion, beauty and lifestyle. I had no idea what I was doing, I hadn’t even sent an email before I started, but I do love a challenge and my family were keen to help and give me guidance when needed.
I only started with a few followers, but by expanding my blog content onto Instagram I found more and more traffic came to my blog. One of the best parts of being an ‘influencer’ is the community, I have made some amazing friends and gone to fabulous places and events. A downside would be how time consuming it all is, if I worked seven days a week blogging I wouldn’t make anywhere near what I did working. For me though it is worth it, because I enjoy it and it makes me happy. I often pinch myself now when some of my favourite brands approach me to collaborate. But I am proof it’s never too late to follow your passions, what do you have to lose?
Top: Baukjen Blouse Skirt: Baukjen ‘Alanah’ Skirt Bag: Mango
Dress: Vintage Marni Bag: The Italian Hand Bag Company Shoes: Dune Knee High Boot
Outfit: Marks & Spencer
The New Icons
CHARLOTTE @marksandspencer_charlotte Charlotte Verdeyen, animal print and sunglasses fanatic has over 20 years experience in the fashion industry. She now works as a visual stylist and ‘M&S’ insider. I have always had a passion for clothes and how to put them together, I studied fashion design at University and graduated with a 1st, I then went on to work and tried various roles across buying, designing and account management. I decided to check out of the rat race once I had two children and began a career as a visual stylist in store. I was then selected from over ‘400’ applicants to join M&S’s ‘Insider’ project and have since gained 10K followers in 10 months. My role as an
insider is to simply show how to style M&S products and everything the store has to offer in my way, and I have to say I love the role! My pictures have gone worldwide and I still can’t believe it. I wouldn’t describe myself as an influencer as such, as my job is just to push products and show M&S products in a stylish way as many assume it’s a ‘granny’ store. My favourite style tip which I swear by is to know what suits you and your body shape, and have something in your style that identifies you. Also don’t be afraid to play with fashion, mix prints and clash colours, they make the best statement!
Outfit: Marks & Spencer
Outfit: Marks & Spencer
The New Icons
DRESSED FOR SUCCESS Words: Claire Dyer Claire is a poet and novelist from Berkshire. Her poetry collections are published by Two Rivers Press, with a further book forthcoming from them in April 2021. Her novels are published by Quercus and The Dome Press. Today she writes a piece about her journey with her personal style.
I was fifty when a lifelong dream came true and I became a published author. Not only that, but in the year I turned fifty, I had not one, but two books published. The first was a book of poems that had taken me ten years to write, the second was a novel (the eighth I’d written). Having held a vast number of different jobs over the years (secretary, register lady at my kids’ school, HR forum coordinator in Mayfair, Clerk of a Worshipful Company in the City of London, the list goes on), I embraced being Claire Dyer The Author with gusto!
and booted business woman, one totally on message with her career as a published author. And what happened?
Well, I went shopping with my good friend, Sue, and we picked out something from House of Fraser that would have suited me in any of my past careers: a black and white shift dress to be worn over black trousers, with black boots and a black handbag. Hardly imaginative, eh? When it comes to ‘image’, I think the problem then, and I commissioned a website, took still is, that I am still the girl I “It took a my social media interactions to used to be: slightly awkward, a whole new level, said ‘Yes, yes, while to find my unhappy with her size and yes,’ to every PR opportunity shape, someone who favours that came my way. Fortunately baggy clothes, plain colours personal style” my kids were grown up by then and high-heels because she’s and I could spend my days, short, and the choice of designs nights and weekends ricocheting around the in high street stores were limited, designed country meeting authors and poets, giving more for thirty-something girls about town, writing workshops, and doing talks and rather than fifty-something hermit writers. poetry readings. Also fortunately, I had a really understanding husband who supported Since then, however, I have discovered the me and, in writing circles, was more than internet! As much as I find targeted ads on happy to become known as Mr Claire Dyer. social media to be disturbing, they are very useful when it comes to introducing people One challenge I wasn’t prepared for though like me to outlets selling quirkier clothes, was how Claire Dyer The Author should clothes that are baggy in plain colours and dress! In preparation for my first ever lunch that I wouldn’t naturally pick out in a high with my first ever fiction publisher, my (then) street store. And so, rather than trawling agent asked me what I’d be wearing. I should, through the concessions in these stores, I now she said, be considering what image Claire buy one or two statement pieces a season Dyer The Author would like to present. from the likes of Buykud, or FloryDay and the ladies I meet in the changing room at the Ooh, I thought, is this the chance for me to gym when I go for my daily swim now often reinvent myself? I could become bohemian ask me where I get my clothes from, and I say and waif-like, all chunky silver jewellery (with a wink) they are designed for Claire and scarves. Or I could become a suited Dyer The Author!
HELEN DE GREGORY A conversation about personal style, modelling in your 50s and ageism in society. Hi Helen. Thanks for taking the time to model for Womanhood magazine, can you tell us a little about yourself? Of course, my name is Helen I am a model in my 50s, a mum of two and recently engaged. I love the idea of Womanhood magazine and was honoured to model for a publication catering to my age range. I’ve had a sneak peek at the rest of the content and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Thanks so much, I’ve loved working with all these amazing women. Let’s talk about your career, did you always know you wanted to be a model? Is it a career you’ve enjoyed since starting? Like many girls, I always had a desire to become a model so when I was signed up to
an agency and jobs started flowing in, I was overjoyed as it was a hobby and a job at the same time, modelling also made my interest in fashion stronger. It is a career I’ve enjoyed but that doesn’t mean its been easy going, as you have to be willing to travel, keep control of your diet and work out regularly which is harder at this age than it once was. But for me it’s worth it as I love the feeling I get after doing a shoot. One thing I will say is how modelling and technology has advanced so much since when I first started. In the past photographers would have never been able to see the photographs at the time of the shoot, so to ensure lighting was correct the photographer would always take a polaroid picture in every new position I was in to see how it looked. Where as now, if lighting is off or there’s a hair in the wrong place it’s so much easier to fix.
P H O T O G R A P H Y & S T Y L I N G B Y Phoebe Paton
Topshop Blazer £49.00 Topshop Trousers £30.00 Zara Bodysuit £8.95 Pinko Belt £82.00 Malone Souliers ‘Marion’ Heels £475.00
Meet Helen De Gregory
Wow that’s hard to imagine! You mentioned modelling isn’t always easy going, are there lot’s of requirements of being a 50+ plus model and getting jobs? Do you feel pressure to keep in shape or use special treatments? I haven’t noticed a massive change; I always apply a little fake tan to give me some colour and make myself feel more confident before a shoot. I obviously make sure my hair is freshly cut and dyed but I do this for me as a personal preference not because I feel any pressure to. Completely understandable, so in your experience, are companies starting to use more models over 50? And, what’s your opinion on brands who are targeting older woman using younger models to model their clothes on their website? I thought my career of being a model had a sell by date when I first started, but the fashion industry has slowly started to wake up to the fact that woman over 50 are a highly under-represented market, and therefore by brands embracing older models I have been able to carry on with modelling as a part time career. However, I do find it strange how many brands who are targeting woman in their 50s still choose to use 20 year old models for their campaigns, body shape changes so much as we age, a dress on a 20 year old will probably not look anything like they would on say a 55 year old. If they want us to buy the item, surely it should be us in the product? I guess age in the past hasn’t be considered ‘high fashion’ but I think times are changing, it’s just a waiting game.
Let’s talk about personal style. How would you best describe your style? I believe that style is personality related, and you cannot be stylish if you lack selfconfidence. So, for me, it is not a piece of clothing that instantly makes me feel confident and stylish, it’s my personality. But if I were to describe my style, I would probably say simple with an edgy element and harmonious with my mood. One of my favourite looks would be a girly dress but then styled with a leather jacket and trainers to suit my personality. Yes I think we’ve managed to capture your natural style in the photographs well, is there a way you go about choosing your clothes and what inspires your outfits? I am inspired by photography, street fashion and magazines. My 25 year old daughter is also into fashion so it’s nice to be able to discuss our interest together and give tips on styling to one another. It’s great to have someone to discuss fashion with. Would you say your style has changed at all since when you started your career? It really is. Hmm, being in my 50s I now I have more of a disposable income to invest in timeless designer pieces which I wasn’t able to do at the start of my career, but I still mix designer items with high-street pieces I like, my favourite high-street stores would be Zara and Topshop, often seen as shops for younger generations but I’ve found some great staple pieces here.
Topshop Coat Â£85.00
Meet Helen De Gregory
“I don’t believe there should be any rules for woman at any age, they should just wear what makes them feel good”
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you? Yes and no. I don’t believe there should be any rules for woman at any age, they should just wear what makes them feel good. But for me, I think it’s better to look my age rather than dress as if I am 10 years younger. Clothes that suit my body shape are sexier and better fitting than a fashion trend made for a younger woman, like the crop top trend. Trends just aren’t made to suit everyone. I would agree with that statement. Would you say age or stage of life impacts fashion, style and the way you look? I have encountered inspiring people of all ages and professional backgrounds showing off their unique and fun looks. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is being in my 50s does not mean I have an old fashioned and classic aesthetic. Staying young is a state of mind, being curious, maintaining a sense of humour, and staying connected with your childhood. From doing this interview and fashion spread on my personal style, I hope it inspires other women no matter what their age, that they too can express whatever their personal style is.
Donna Ida Jumpsuit £295.00 Nike Air Force Trainers £79.95
Meet Helen De Gregory
â€œBeing in my 50s does not mean I have an old fashioned and classic aestheticâ€?
French Connection Jumpsuit £55.00 Prada Brogues £585.00
Meet Helen De Gregory
Reiss Dress £90.00 Zara Leather Jacket £75.95 Nike Air Force Trainers £79.95 Necklace: Monica Vinader Marie Mini Pendant £85
“I think it’s important to keep pushing the fashion and beauty industry for a change- it’s about time we are all represented”
Do you have any style tips for woman over 50 that you would like to share? I would say a perfect fitting bra can make a big difference to your appearance, so getting a bra which is professionally fitted can do a lot for an outfit. I would also say not to be afraid of colour, some colours can make a huge difference to your look. I know that I can be very monochromatic, this is one of my downfalls as is my love of beige and cream, but I do try to push myself out of my comfort zone with colour, and often when I do, it makes a big difference to my emotions. A tip I have to put an outfit together is to start by choosing a staple piece, then make everything else subtle round it, so it adds to the outfit but does not avert attention away from the staple item. Yes, I witnessed you do that when we were picking out the outfits, it’s a great way of styling outfits. Well for the final question I wanted to ask if you plan to continue with modelling, and if so how do you see your career developing in the future? Thank you, something I’ve learnt over many years! I do plan to continue as I do enjoy it, I think once I reach my 60s-70s I’ll actually get more jobs than I do now, as often brands are looking for either really young models or slightly older models than myself, not really in between. I think it’s important to keep pushing the fashion and beauty industry for a change, it’s about time we are all represented. But yes, I hope my children are proud when they still see me in magazines or brochures in 10 years’ time, probably as a grandma!
Sandro Dress £315.00 Malone Souliers ‘Maureen’ Heels £475.00 Zara Earrings £9.95
Words: Hilary Hares.
FOR THE LOVE OF WORDS. Ever since I was told that the letter ‘b’ had a fat tummy and that the letter ‘d’ had a big bottom, I’ve always had a profound love of words. At school I channelled this passion into being good at English and from the moment I went out to work I got involved with writing articles, producing newsletters and scripting speeches even though it often wasn’t part of my job description. If anyone was leaving the company I was usually called upon to write a piece of witty doggerel to mark the occasion and, from time to time, I penned an occasional atrocious poem. By the time I reached the end of my career as a professional fundraiser and grantgiver I had refined my skills and was successfully using the power of words to persuade people to part with hard-earned cash on behalf of a variety of good causes. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to take early retirement, however, that I realized I could channel my love of words into an entirely new direction. I’d missed out on University when I was young and so I decided to do a BA in Creative Writing. I loved the course, especially the poetry modules, which I found especially challenging, and so I went on to do an MA in Contemporary Poetry which included a teaching module.
As a volunteer, I teach a Creative Writing class at my local hospice. This gives me a wonderful opportunity to work with a plucky group of amazing people who are battling cancer and yet are still determined to be creative and to make every minute count. During that time I’ve also written over six hundred poems. A number of them have found homes in print and on-line and later this spring Marble Poetry -www. marblepoetry.com will be publishing a collection of poems about my childhood entitled Red Queen. The great thing about a poem is that, if it’s any good, it will be a small box with a big idea in it. Distilling that idea with an almost homeopathic zeal is a constantly rewarding challenge and, even now, I still get a thrill when I sit down with a blank page in front of me. A poem can be about anything and I’ve been inspired to write about topics as global as climate change and as parochial as a mystery pair of false teeth discovered in a bathroom cabinet. One poem has, however, as yet eluded me. I’ve been trying to write about a lobster for the past eight years. I’m currently on the thirty eighth draft and I still haven’t got it right. I’m not giving up, however, and I will get there in the end. Wish me luck!
PROSERPINA who is tasked to carry the seasons as she splits her year between her husband in the Underworld and her mother on Earth A rape at the start that powers into love. Sheâ€™s his but still the tidal tug of mother-love drags back. Up. Down. Loss. Gain. Torn, between. She chooses for a mother: songs for the throats of birds, courageous seeds, the milky weight of breasts, days that take time, fronds, new mouths, fresh work for bees, open doors. Back, down. She returns by moon. For him: casements that seep an ancient light, brown, the ooze and fill of ditches, embers, bedded furrows, quiet creep of spore, the longing to linger left by smoke.
By Hilary Hares.
P H OT O G R A P H Y B Y Jane Cable.
Living the dream.
Jane Cableâ€™s story on how she made her dream reality.
It’s the dream, isn’t it? Reach your fifties and decide to throw in the day job so you can move to Cornwall and do something creative. There are so many times I’ve had to pinch myself because for me it isn’t a dream – it’s the reality. Astute financial planning helps. For us it was the decision not to have children, which makes it sound rather Machiavellian, but parenthood isn’t for everyone – and not going down that route and working for thirty years instead certainly helps put pennies in the bank. We factored in no money at all from my writing, because in the past everything I’ve made from my books has been ploughed back into my authoring business. And I do view it as a business – I’m not happy when people describe me as early retired. I may not leave the house to go to work every day, I may not make a living wage from what I do, but I certainly view writing as my third career. So, what exactly do I do? I have a publishing deal with Sapere Books, which now covers three novels. The first, Another You, came out last year. The second, Endless Skies will make its appearance over the coming months and the third, presently without an acceptable title, needs to be handed in to them by 31st March. And this as yet untitled book is really exciting for me, because it’s set in Cornwall. I’ve finished the first draft and am currently working through to improve it. It’s my first dual time-line, set in 1815 and 2015, so there’s a serious historical element and as the plot thickens and becomes
richer I find I’m needing to add a little more research to my already extensive notes. So the first part of every day is editing and researching, while I try to keep away from social media. Social media is a must for any author who wants to connect to readers and I certainly do. As well as Another You I have two independently published romances to promote and in March I’m having a blog tour for one of them so I’ve been busy staggering to the post office with piles of paperbacks and preparing extracts and guest posts. The amount of marketing required is huge, but if you embrace it and try to make real connections it becomes good fun. In a creative community like Cornwall those connections become real people too. From a little group on Facebook spring regular meet ups for coffee and cake, and collaboration in all sorts of other ways. Through this I have made many new friends, one of whom has become my talks partner, and together we hope to appear at some of the Cornish literary festivals this summer and we regularly give talks to local societies and clubs. So please don’t assume I’m spending my time dreaming away down here. Even when I appear to be simply out walking in reality I’m working on my next plot… and loving every second of my writer’s life.
P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y Annie Spat.
EXPLORING A NEW WAY OF LIFE. An interview with Beth Moloney about splitting her life between the UK and Sierra Leonne.
Exploring a New Way of Life
Hi Beth. I understand you live in a unique way of splitting your time between Devon and Sierra Leonne, how has that come about?
Wow, how did you meet your partner Ayo?
My partner and I visited Sierra Leone together for the first time 12 years ago. It’s a beautiful unspoilt country and my partner Ayo’s home originally, although he had been living in the UK for 20 years.
So going back to the project you have developed, whats it called and why?
The following year we returned as we wanted to start looking for land to live there part of the year. At first we looked at land by the sea but instead we found some land with a beautiful tree in a lush growing area inland, only 20 minutes from the sea. The following year we decided to build our first cabin using mud bricks made from the clay soil which is popular in Sierra Leone. A couple of years later we built 2 more and decided to make them guest houses as there are very few in Sierra Leone and most are very poor quality.
What was the reason you decided to do it?
He was my drumming teacher in Devon.
Our place is called Ategbeh Garden because it’s in the area of Waterloo called Ategbeh Town.
I don’t know really- just one event followed another, and I suppose we wanted our own place as we go there so often. We didn’t buy the land with the intention to have guest houses...we just came up with the idea one day. It really is a unique idea, did you encounter any problems doing it – i.e. are there planning laws to overcome? The main problem was getting the work men to do the work to the standard we wanted. The standard of building here is very poor and people either live in corrugated iron huts or rather ugly cement houses and we wanted to make something different-using local materials but to western standards. I ended doing all the painting, they just slap it on and paint over the windows. Also I did the tiling as although I’d never done it before I knew I would do it better than anyone else having seen the standard of tiling!
We were all ready for our grand opening when Ebola hit and our flights were cancelled. It was a terrible time for Sierra Leoneans. The following year we came out and opened, I come every winter from November to March and Ayo stays till May. Our business has grown steadily and with the help of the Lonely Planet and Bradt guides we are doing very nicely. It’s not really a money making enterprise, more just a way of life, and the income we get pays for us to live here comfortably but we don’t want too many Did you ever think this is too big a project or was guests that it becomes a chore, as we do all the it a joy from the start? cleaning and cooking ourselves. Looking back it was quite a life experience and It all sounds very interesting, so what do you the place we have now and the life we live here is do when you are in Devon for work? wonderful, but I do wonder how we did it ! When we’re in Devon I work part time as a cook in a vegetarian restaurant. Ayo is a musician and plays in a band Baka Beyond and we also busk together (African drumming). Our needs are very simple and we prefer not to be committed to full time work. This last summer we busked our way around Austria and Germany. Continue >
I don’t know how you managed it all! What would you say is the ethos of Ategbeh Garden? It’s twofold- to provide comfortable accommodation in a country that is not geared up for tourism at all, and we try to help our visitors experience Sierra Leone from the inside- it’s hard for travellers to experience rather than just observe. Secondly, when Ayo left 32 years ago there was a plethora of music, dance, theatre but the war put an end to that. Now he wants to reintroduce all that with workshops, teaching the children dance, drumming etc. Can you expand on the recent history of Sierra Leone for our readers who may not know? Well there was the crippling war for 12 years and then just when things were really beginning to improve Ebola hit and plunged everything right down. The iron ore mining companies which provided a lot of income packed up and left and Sierra Leone is going through hard times right now.
We’ve had 2 different caretakers looking after our place while we’re away and both stole from us, including selling our car! Now we have a wonderful woman who was our neighbour and friend and she moves in to our cabin while we’re not there, looks after our dogs etc and everything is as it should be when we get back. Selling your car! I did not expect that. I see you use Airbnb – where do the majority of your guests come from i.e. what country? We didn’t either. It’s actually a complete mixture- French, American, British, German, New Zealand. How far away from an airport would you say you are? About an hour or so. Is it safe to drive? Yes, pretty much but not as easy as in UK. The transport minibuses and motor bikes are maniacs at times!
How has this effected its people?
I can imagine. So what would you say to someone to persuade them to come and visit Ategbeh Garden or Sierra Leone?
Things are really hard for people right now. The exchange rate is so bad that all the imported foods such as rice and onions which are their staples, have gone up steeply and the price of fuel had gone up 3 times in 2 years which affects food prices enormously (the fish is sent inland, the crops grown inland come to Freetown etc).
If you want to experience an unspoilt, nontouristy African country where you’re not hassled as you can be in many countries, this is the place to come. Ategbeh Garden is slightly off the beaten track and part of a real community. This is one of our reviews:
What a shame, it’s nice to know people like yourself are doing what you can to help. Is it difficult to find reliable people to run your project when you are not there? It is extremely hard to find someone trustworthy, so much so that we close the business down while we’re away.
“Their warmth, ethos and knowledge of the area as well as wider country and its history, will be invaluable to you as a guest, as they can advise you on the next leg of your journey as well as help you get the utmost out of your stay. I’m told Waterloo’s not generally a tourist destination, but it is absolutely worth visiting if only to stay with Beth and Ayo.
Exploring a New Way of Life
The accommodation overlooks lush green communal plots farmed by local women, and is a delightful, dare I say rather luxurious place to stay. The compound has no walls, barbed wire, guards or gates; you’ll meet Beth and Ayo’s friends- young and not so young- who are regular visitors, and have the chance to interact with the community in a way you never could as a tourist passing through or even as a expat or aid worker.” It sounds like such a unique special place. How about food, do you grow all your own? I love it and no, I’ve tried with seeds from England to no avail but as we are right in the growing area where local vegetables are incredibly cheap, we content ourselves with what’s here. We do however have loads of bananas!!
[Laughter] So, what is normally on the menu? A mixture of African and Western, such as fish casserole with steamed cassava, yams, green bananas, or black-eyed bean stew with cucumber and lime salad, or peanut butter stew with fish and vegetables. Then pasta with aubergines, sundried tomatoes and olives or vegetable fried rice, even egg, baked beans and chips for people who want something simpler. Most people choose the African food though as they want to try it but are wary of street food. Sounds yummy, what about power/energy? We have our own generator- there is no electricity in Waterloo. What is it like living in two different countries what do you miss about each when you are in the other? When I’m in England I miss the simplicity of life in Sierra Leonne, my dogs and the wonderful warmth. When I’m in Sierra Leonne I miss the variety of foods and crave dairy products – cereal with cold, fresh milk and yogurt. I used to miss my children, 30, 28 and 24, but now the internet has improved so much, and I can use messenger, WhatsApp etc I can chat to my hearts delight and not feel distant. I also miss the telly and just the Englishness of things! Yes it’s weird how it can be such simple luxuries we miss. Does it take you time to adjust when you change countries? It used to but it doesn’t at all now. I came out in November leaving the cold grey dinginess, arrived here with the heat, colour, noise (people are so noisy here!) then went back for Christmas which is such a contrast between the poverty here and complete excesses of Christmas in England, and then back here again. I find it strange how normal it feels to me now.
What are your plans for the future – developing more cabins? I don’t think we want to expand now, we’re really happy with the way things are. The musical side is developing nicely-Ayo is now doing dance and music with children from inner city Freetown which is very rewarding. It sounds it. Finally, any words of advice to Womanhood readers? Well, about 6 years ago I got malaria very badly. Luckily, I was due to fly home anyway and did so feeling horrendous. I went straight to the hospital and they kept me in overnight to keep an eye on me. By morning I couldn’t seem to move my legs properly, so they sent me for an urgent MRI scan and discovered my spinal cord and brain stem were badly swollen. Over the next few hours I became completely paralyzed from the armpits down. I nearly died as it was affecting my breathing. Anyway, after months in a stroke ward and spinal injuries rehabilitation centre, I slowly learned to walk again. A year later when I went back to the specialist, he said he couldn’t believe I was walking into his room like thathe wasn’t expecting me to walk again. It’s definitely changed my view on life-it’s so precious and I don’t do anything I don’t want to do, try and do as many different things as I can and make the most of every opportunity. Most importantly my relationship with my children is even stronger than it was and that’s saying something! So my advice would be for every other woman to do the same, take every opportunity life throws at you and don’t let anything hold you back.
Exploring a New Way of Life
“So my advice would be for every other woman to do the same, take every opportunity life throws at you and don’t let aything hold you back”.
WHAT NEXT? “When on earth are you going to retire/stop work?” This is a question my friends ask a lot, because I’m 67 and show no (well very few) signs of giving up the daily grind, despite being of such an advanced age. Words: Pamela Davis.
am a women against state pension inequality (probably in more ways than one), but lucky that I’m in the older bracket and only had to wait until I was 62 before I could get my state pension, unlike many less fortunate women just a year or two younger than me. Ok so I could stop work. But I don’t want to. I work part time, 18 hours a week, teaching literacy skills to prisoners at a category B prison housing sex offenders. This may seem an odd job to many people, but I’ve been doing it for almost twenty years, and despite my rather ‘dodgy’ students, I still enjoy the practise of teaching and interacting with people in the classroom. Surprisingly, it can be a lot of fun and is definitely rewarding and challenging in equal measures. However, the paperwork is altogether another matter. Don’t get me started on profits, ‘targets’ and ‘evidence’ based teaching! Don’t get me wrong - I am looking at what to do next as I don’t intend to go on teaching
indefinitely. However, I like having a salary; it has allowed me, over the past few years, to do a lot of travelling - to Australia, the USA, China and South Africa in particular, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. In South Africa I spent a couple of months volunteering in a school, which was even more challenging than teaching here. Imagine trying to react usefully to a student who is learning to read - in Afrikaans, which I don’t speak! Just a note - I am single now, and people say I’m ‘brave’ to travel alone but I think it is just about mindset and careful planning. I haven’t been anywhere I would feel too uncomfortable (when I went to China I joined an organised tour because otherwise this would have been a bit too much outside my comfort zone) and I don’t take idiotic risks. I’m not very brave or intrepid at all. I always ask if there are areas I shouldn’t go alone, particularly at night, and follow local advice and use a bit of common sense.
P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y Pamela Davies
“Now families are grown and hopefully independent, there is the freedom to choose what to do and when to do it, whether it be travelling the world or taking up a new activity at or near home. So - why not spend a little time on ‘self’ and look to the future, not the past?”
I also bought a pony last year, finally achieving a childhood ambition. This is also very expensive…but I have learned a lot and have enjoyed improving my skill in the saddle, going out riding and getting to know a whole new group of people, whilst also improving my fitness levels. Even though the pony seems to be doing most of the work, it is surprisingly hard on the rider - I have a core of steel now! I want to be able to go on travelling and doing lots of other things, challenging myself in a variety of ways. Not ready to hang up my passport and take up crocheting just yet (my daughter tells me crocheting is now a pastime of the young so maybe I will!). So I keep on working. However, as part of my ‘Get out of jail free
card’ over the past couple of years I have set up a room in my home for Airbnb and have had many interesting and - mostly delightful visitors. I have also signed up with a company which arranges visits to the UK for people who want to improve their English. The student stays in my home, and lives as one of the family, and I give them formal English lessons each day for a couple of hours (happily, I qualified to teach English as a Foreign Language several years ago). Last summer, I acted as host to a lovely Italian woman and her 11 year old daughter. They were great fun and worked very hard at their English. The daughter, Viola, already spoke really good English, which helped! In Italy many children start English at the age of five.
What Next? 55
Well, when they left, they invited me to visit obviously the most important bit). However, them at their home near Bologna in northern this would involve spending a few months in Italy so, in October, I packed my passport France so will have to wait until I stop work, and a change of socks (extremely small bag I suppose. allowance on Ryanair) and flew to Rome to meet them. I was given a private (free!) tour However, my reasons for continuing to of the Vatican and we spent a couple of days work for the time being are much more than looking at many of the other glorious sights financial; it may sound a bit pompous, but in Rome and discovering lots of I like to know that I am still interesting ‘authentic’ Italian contributing to the community foods (not entirely beneficial in a tiny way, as well as having “WE DON’T to the waistline), then took the the mental stimulus of teaching Bullet train north. I stayed in and the challenge of juggling HAVE TO their home for the rest of the lots of balls in the air at the week, with the whole family same time. STOP DOING making me feel very welcome. It was lovely, as was Viola’s So, what I am saying is, being WHAT WE grandmother, who spoke no in our fifties or sixties (or even English at all but kept patting seventies or eighties) doesn’t WANT” my back and smiling to make mean we have to stop doing up for it! what we want (or maybe we can start doing what we want, for They are coming back to stay the first time in our lives). A lot with me again this summer. It is so lovely to of people have health and/or money issues, I make new friends in other parts of the world. know, but I think it is about mindset, much I also have new chums in Adelaide (friends more than physical or financial restrictions. of a friend who were brilliant and spent a Now families are grown and hopefully week entertaining me, showing me the sights independent, there is the freedom to choose and letting me share their pool when the what to do and when to do it, whether it temperature got up to 46.6°C). We have been be travelling the world or taking up a new emailing recently about the dreadful fires activity at or near home. So - why not spend they are suffering. It seems even worse than a little time on ‘self’ and look to the future, we have been seeing on the news here. not the past? One other thing I want to do is to try to learn to speak enough French to do more than ask for wine and cheese (although this is
IS IT TIME… TO MOVE TO THE COUNTRY? Deborah Jenkins is a free-lance writer who writes regularly for the Tes, Macmillan and Peak Education. Deborah also writes for faith-based publications such as CWR’s Inspiring Women Every Day and is a regular speaker on local radio’s Thought for the Day. She blogs at stillwonderinghere.wordpress.com. Today she writes about her move to the country which simultaneously broke and mended her.
A year ago, I remember walking into town one afternoon. It was one of those thin winter days with splashes of sunshine, wind and a smell of woodsmoke. As I passed the local school, I could see parents gathering and a teacher in the distance, marshalling her class. Usually that would be me. But I had left my school at Christmas, after thirty years based in London, to move to this small town in Sussex for my husband’s job. That move simultaneously broke and mended me. We began talking about it several months earlier. At the time, I was teaching three days a week, working as a free-lance writer and travelling in two directions to help support ailing parents. As well, our daughter, who was suffering from anxiety, was doing her finals two hundred miles away and needed me like never before. The pressures were piling up and when Steve saw this job, we decided it would tick many boxes. Principally, it was in
the town where one set of parents lived and was still on the main line to London and only an hour and a half from our old stamping ground. For this reason, I did not anticipate it being such a major change. But it was. A bit like a plant being ripped from soil or a bird torn from its nest. Between the goodbyes and hellos, the scattered coffee cups and half-packed boxes, the curious and tender eyes with which you discover a new place… here I was, in my mid-fifties, dropped like a stone in a new place, with no job and no children to sweeten the fall. To be clear, I had fully approved this move. But change, even a desired one, is not easy. One year on, I am settled and happy. If I had known then what I know now, I might have handled things differently. I wish there had been someone willing to answer these kinds of questions: -
“I did not anticipate it being such a major change. But it was. A bit like a plant being ripped from soil or a bird torn from its nest”.
How will we know when it’s time to move? I think, based on my experience and those I’ve spoken to, there is usually a combination of circumstances or a certain ‘trigger’. The former could be more general - a sense of restlessness, a desire to have ‘at least one more adventure’ – or specific, such as needy parents or a stressful job. The trigger for us was when my husband had an unexpected diagnosis – a tumour in the heart – and needed emergency surgery. He came through the operation spectacularly well, but it made us think. Do any of us know how long we’ve got? What do we want for the next season of life? We decided our long-held dream to move to the country was a now or never thing. He began to look for jobs and when this one came up, it seemed to make sense. He is a Baptist Minister and the church was almost exactly what he was looking for. Our youngest was nearing the end of university and had only one more summer at home. I wanted to write more, and a move out of London would make this possible. Besides, I was brought up in the country and
had always yearned for fields and trees and a soft scoop of sky beyond the window, instead of concrete. Finally, my very ill in-laws had moved here to be nearer my brother in law’s family but were proving challenging to care for. What about my job? It’s hard leaving a job when there is nothing to go to. You may be in the fortunate position of being able to work from home or to start applying for jobs in the area, once you know you’re moving. Or you may not. I had decided to take a term or two off as I had a couple of paid writing projects to be getting on with and I knew I could combine those with settling us in at home. But the thing is, if this move is right, it is right for both of you. It might be that you will have to wait before getting the right job but there may be steps you can take to prepare for that. I did short and long-term supply teaching for a while and finally found a couple of days a week at a school five minutes’ walk from my door. It is actually perfect.
How will I leave this house? After many years in a house where the very walls seem to echo memories, it’s painful to think about leaving. We had virtually rebuilt our London house five years previously having scribbled plans for our perfect home on the backs of envelopes for as long as we could remember. It was not a big house but we had designed it ourselves. I loved that kitchen with a passion. But, hard as it is to leave a place, at the end of the day, it’s only a house. People make a home and the people will be going with you. We were fortunate as we live in a manse here so we could rent our London home out. But I doubt we will ever live in it again and the sense of loss was palpable. The church was buying a new manse so we still had the experience of choosing somewhere and it was exciting to think about what we wanted. While there are still things I miss about the Hampton house, there are so many advantages to this one. It’s bigger, it’s quieter, I look out of the window at banks of trees. We have a double garage and a large garden – things we would never have been able to afford in London. Every day I am grateful for our lovely home in the country. There is no arriving without leaving. How will the children cope? If you still have children living at home, or coming home for holidays, you may worry about their reaction to the move. They will have their own battles, but there will benefits for them too. My daughter was not happy about us moving out of London but now she works there, she loves coming to the country some weekends, bringing friends with her. Our two grew up in Turkey but had to come back to the UK suddenly at the age of 8 and 13 respectively because I was ill. It was horrible for them. Our daughter hated the local primary and our son had to find his place in
a UK secondary at a time when hormones make life impossible anyway. But they had a wonderful send-off from their schools abroad, they made new friends quickly and after the initial difficulties, settled into life in the UK with gusto. They both did well at school and uni and now have great jobs. Young people are often more adaptable than we are. They will cope. How will I manage without my friends? This is a tough one. It will hurt saying goodbye and if, like me, you were young/had babies/ supported each other when the kids left etc. it will be huge loss. But I told myself I would never lose the old friends and I would make new ones too. I chat with my old friends from London every day on social media. They come for a day or weekend in the country and I go back to London for special get-togethers. I know I’m blessed to be only an hour or so away. But, wherever you go, good friends will come and see you. You will never lose the people life has given you if you are determined not to. And one year on, I have several new friends whose company I enjoy enormously. What about those tricky weeks before I move? Once you’ve made the decision, told people and started packing, there’s that weird sense of half-belonging where you feel you don’t really belong anywhere. Friends talk of events you won’t be around for, they don’t ask you to planning meetings at work, you lurch from goodbye party to goodbye party. But you haven’t left yet. I found it was important at that time to make regular time for my two or three closest friends, even though there was so much to do. I could offload my mixed feelings, chat and plan future visits and share the things I was dreading as well as those I was looking forward to. Time spent with those you love most will keep you grounded when everything else is spinning. It is our people who help us stay sane.
Is it Time... to Move to the Country?
“Moving might break you, but it will mend you too - short term pain for long term gain. And one year on, like me, you may thank God you made the change when you did.”.
What about my pets? My daughter asked me to put this one in. She was very worried about Oliver, the black and white cat, who had lived his whole life in London. Our vet suggested putting him in a cattery during the move so we knew where he was. This, ridiculously, was one of the scariest things for me as he’d never been in one before. But we found one on-line near our new home, visited it to check the owner was a nice person (she was) and drove him down there the day before our move, hoping he would survive (he did). We got him back the day after the move and kept him in for a week before accompanying him around his new patch. He loves it here. There are fewer cats (so many dogs in the country!) so he has fewer fights and a bigger garden. I can’t pretend I don’t have the odd downer, particularly when I see photos of old friends meeting up without me or think of my old school and the great team spirit there. But then I remember all the good things about living here – our beautiful house, the nature reserve behind it, the Ashdown Forest, the sea, shopping with my daughter in Brighton, the extra time for writing – and I feel blessed. Moving might break you, but it will mend you too - short term pain for long term gain. And one year on, like me, you may thank God you made the change when you did.
Our ABC challenge. A story about 3 friends, 1 challenge and 6 rules.
Three women who made friends at a toddler group over 20 years ago and who now live in three different countries have taken up a challenge to visit a different town/city together every September. With 7 children between them who are now all either at University or gainfully employed they concocted a cunning plan to have annual mini breaks to catch up and drink wine in new locations as a well-deserved bit of escapism from the usual routines. Although theyâ€™d always kept in touch, being in different places and having children to look after meant they hadnâ€™t seen each other for a while, so soon after they reconnected at a 50th birthday party a plan was hatched and loose rules established:
1.Two nights, three days and short haul to cut costs, travel time and carbon footprint 2. Staying at Airbnbs which is cheaper than hotels and also eases sleeping arrangements for the snorers, insomniacs and those of us suffering from hot flushes 3. No fixed agenda, just a bit of culture and shopping between meals and talking 4. No competitive parenting, in fact as little talking about children as possible 5. Silliness to dominate after all those years of sensible child rearing 6. Return home with renewed energy and vigour
A conversation with Julie Clay, one of the 3 friends who started the challenge. Hi Julie, let’s start by talking about your first trip, which year did you start and where did the letter A take you? Our first trip was in 2018 to Amsterdam, a place we had all wanted to go but never been. Wow sounds like a great place to start, what were the high points of that trip? So many high points, but I have to say that Amsterdam was a beautiful city to walk around, which of course we did a lot of, as none of understand Google maps! The city also has great food and we are big foodies. We also stayed in an Air BNB houseboat which was an experience in itself, and we were able to feed ducks from our pied a mer with strange confectionery, they seemed to enjoy-fluffly nuts! [Laughter] Sounds like a good time! Did you have any low points whilst in Amsterdam? Only managing to miss out on the brown cafe experience by being directed only to a cafe that was painted brown! What a shame, what about the letter B, where did you plan for that trip? Berlin! We stayed at an Air BNB again, on the ground floor of a block of residential apartments. We were able to see iconic places we had only ever read about such as Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate and East Side Gallery.
Wow, I’ve heard Berlin is an amazing place from many people. What were your best and worst parts about Berlin? Wow, that’s a tough one, I actually can’t think of any low points for this trip. A high point would have to be the fantastic brunch on the rooftop restaurant at the Reichstag, I would recommend everyone to visit! I’m very jealous, sounds like quite the experience. Have you started planning your 2020 trip for the letter C? Yes! This year plans are afoot to head to Cagliari in Sardina. Where we plan to eat more pasta and drink more wine! It’s Italy, why would you have other plans? [Laughter] That’s very true! Lastly, what has this ABC challenge done for you and would you recommend it to other woman? It’s been amazing, we always had other stuff going on in life and we struggled to meet up, but this challenge has given us the excuse to dedicate 3 days to each other, to just go away, have fun and not worry about anything else in life. I would recommend all woman to do it with their friends, although maybe we have been a bit ambitious with completing the alphabet by our 80s! Maybe once we reach a certain age we will have to do two a year to make sure we complete it!
SPOTLIGHT ON MOROCCO My 1 week guide
orocco has been a place at top of my bucket list for a while. I sensed before visiting that it would be a destination I would fall in love with, and I can conclude Morrocco is indeed a charming, enchanting place steeped in tradition. I was especially surprised to find that there really is something in Morocco for everyone to enjoy. I must add, although I fell in love with the North African country, it was not just a boho wonderland of tranquil corners and sparkly lanterns that it often is portrayed to be, central Marrakesh in fact was one of the least tranquil places Iâ€™ve ever been- with street harassment and an endless fast-stream of mopeds zigzagging down alleyways, it could be a major turn off for some. But even though it can be loud, chaotic and abrasive, it is weirdly part of Moroccoâ€™s charm and the culture is a unique and an extraordinary experience to tick off your bucket list. If you are willing to tolerate the chaos to see one of the most intricately beautiful countries, then this guide is for you.
P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y Phoebe Paton
Spotlight on Morocco
“The Atlas Mountains are also where you’ll discover the purest form of Berber culture, with tiny, traditional stone villages on the edge of the mountainsides“.
Day 1-2 My top tip is to head straight to the Atlas Mountains to ease yourself into the Moroccan culture. The Atlas Mountains is perfect for hikers and nature-lovers, or just as a retreat for those who want to escape fast-paced life and relax by a secluded pool reading a book and looking over the breathtakingly beautiful red mountains. The Atlas Mountains are also where you’ll discover the purest form of Berber culture, with tiny, traditional stone villages on the edge of the mountainsides. In fact, one of my highlights from this trip was trekking through one of these villages and being greeted by welcoming local children. One child approached us and asked us a question, we politely asked the guide to translate and found they were asking for a pen or pencil for their school work. Luckily, I was carrying my rucksack I had previously taken to work and had a pack of pens, handing them out to the children and seeing their faces light up at such a small luxury warmed my heart.
Where to stay? The Kasbah Bab Ourika A hidden jewel no one wants to share. Traditionally a Kasbah was a place a local leader would live as it would provide defence with its high walls when the city was under attack. This Kasbah is located just 35 minutes from Marrakech’s international airport, located on a hilltop, at the apex of Ourika Valley, it looks down to the river, green fields and groves of olives, oranges and lemons, and up to the dazzling red mountain tips. Offering unforgettable views, Berberinspired interior and traditional Moroccan food, which I still go on about to this day, this Kasbah is a must visit. Although 2 days is all you need to take in the views, go for a guided hike and visit the spa, I would happily go back and stay for a week. However, I must add that internet access is limited, yet for me it is part of the charm being able to disconnect from the outside world.
Spotlight on Morocco
“Transformed from a pretty pint sized medina... to a place where the souks now coexist with hip young Moroccan designers ... boutique hotels and ... sleek restaurants”.
Where to stay?
Just a 3-hour 30-minute drive away from the mountains lies bright and breezy Essaouira, located on Morocco’s Atlantic surfing coast.
Heure Bleue Palais
The drive here from the mountains was very entertaining, we passed tree climbing goats and our driver stopped off at an argan oil factory, which helped split up the journey time. I found Essaouira was a step up in activity levels from the Atlas Mountains, however the seaside town is a lot less chaotic than Marrakech. In the past few years the town has been transformed from a pretty, pintsize Medina with a tranquil air to a place where the souks now coexist with hip young Moroccan designers, simple guest-houses transformed into boutique hotels and the eating and drinking has gone from fishermen’s shacks to sleek stylish restaurants. Again, there is something for everyone here, whether you enjoy surfing, shopping, eating fresh seafood or visiting famous Game of Thrones film sights, you will not run out of things to do.
Located in the heart of Essaouira, this luxurious hotel is the perfect option. With a panoramic outdoor swimming pool on the terrace, offering a magnificent view of the Medina and the ocean in the distance, it was truly perfect and would highly recommend.
When did we visit? We decided to visit in May, the temperatures vary considerably during this month all over Morocco and depending upon where you are it can be hot, warm or cool. It was generally warm for us, with temperatures reaching up to 26 degrees. However, whilst in the mountains you will need extra layers compared to central Marrakech.
Day 5-7 A 2-hour 40 min drive away lies Marrakech. Offering more than just a touch of exoticism and romance, Marrakech is a magical, far-away-feeling destination, a place you can’t help but experience with every one of your senses. At first, I was worried I had not left enough time to explore the vibrant city, however after spending 3 days here, I was a slightly relieved I had spent the other days relaxing. During our trip in Marrakech we decided to do a guided tour with a local, which I highly recommend in order to stay clear of scams and any other harassment. The tour was incredible, exploring the medina and souks, Bahia Palace, Jama El F’na Market, Saadian Tombs and of course, a carpet shop. After this busy day, we fancied a taste of luxury and swapped our comfy walking sandals to fancy wedges and visited the legendary La Mamounia for some late afternoon cocktails. Here we were able to explore the luxury boutiques located on the grounds, as well as the stunning gardens. The rest of our time in Marrakech we decided to venture out to the famous Jardin Majorelle, owned and renovated by fashion designer Yves St. Laurent. Although at times slightly crowded with tourists, the garden is truly an oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Marrakech. Although I had seen pictures of the gardens many times before visiting, the Majorelle blue was truly breath taking, especially in contrast to the green cacti and blooming flowers. We discovered two museums amongst the gardens, the first was a Berber museum, which was fascinating and obviously the YSL museum is a dream for any fashion lover. The whole day was truly incredible, and I left the gardens feeling inspired and invigorated. As for food Marrakech has no shortage of choice when it comes to eating, with everything from street food to sumptuous feasts. Although I experienced plenty of good food, my favourite meal had to be at theatrical Dar Yacout restaurant, whilst eating there are musicians playing traditional Moroccan music to add to the ambiance. The food was delightful, although there was way too much for us with around 5 courses, so make sure you go hungry! It was a truly magical experience and I can’t wait to return again one day.
“Offering more than just a touch of exoticism and romance, Marrakech is a magical, far-away feeling destination, a place you can’t help but experience with everyone one of your senses.”
Where to stay? Riad Berbère Built by a wealthy Moroccan family in the 17th century, the riad has been authentically renovated by leading Belgian architect Quentin Wilbaux. Warm red and ochre carpets and furnishings contrast beautifully with the riad’s cool whitewashed walls. Traditional architectural elements, from original cedar-beamed ceilings to galleries of archways and fine hanging lamps give a sense of an enchanted palace frozen in time. It has a cosy home-away-from home feel about it and offers tranquillity after exploring the fast-paced city.
What to wear? I decided to pack long dresses, loose trousers and conservative tops for my trip. Although Morocco is not that strict with their dress code, it is an Islamic country therefore dressing appropriately to their culture often gets a better reaction from the locals.
Words: Phoebe Paton
EFFORTLESS VEGAN DINING R E C I P E S & P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y Sylvia Fountaine
Meet Sylvia Fountaine â€“ former restaurant owner, caterer, and chef, living in the Pacific Northwest, sharing fresh and healthy, globally-inspired, veganforward recipes, grounded in the seasons.
Effortless vegan dining
SIMPLE BREAKFAST MUESLI
Serves: 1 Time: 10 minutes
INGREDIENTS • 4 cups organic rolled oats or other grain, toasted if you like • 1 cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, or a mix • 1 cup toasted nuts – slivered almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts
• 2 tablespoons hemp seeds ( optional) • 2 tablespoons whole flax seeds (optional) • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (optional) • 1 cup dried fruit- cranberries, raisins, cherries, goji berries, raspberries, blueberries
• 2 tablespoons chia seeds ( optional) METHOD
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Store in a large 8 cup air-tight jar. Serve with nut, soy or oat milk, fresh berries or fruit and a drizzle of honey or maple. In the winter I love this served with vanilla flavoured oat milk that has been warmed up. Enjoy.
Effortless vegan dining
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER PASTA WITH TOASTED WALNUTS, PARSLEY, GARLIC & LEMON ZEST S e r ve s 1-2 Ti me: 3 0 m i nut e s
INGREDIENTS • 1 head cauliflower
• 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 fresh garlic clove- very finely minced
• 3 minced garlic cloves ( divided)
• Generous drizzle of olive oil to coat,
• salt and pepper to taste
• Salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste
• 1/4 teaspoons chilli flakes
• Finely grated vegan pecorino
• lemon zest from one lemon (divided)
• 2 tablespoons capers
• 4 ounces pasta ( bucatini, linguini, spaghetti or any other gluten-free noodle) • 1 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley METHOD
Preheat oven to 425 F Trim and cut cauliflower into small bite-sized florets and place in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil to coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, 1/2 of the lemon zest, 2/3 of the minced garlic and some chilli flakes. Toss well and spread out in a single layer on a parchement-lined sheet pan, and place into the middle of the hot oven. Roast until tender and golden and caramelized in places, about 20-25 minutes.
While the cauliflower is roasting, cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and place in a bowl. Drizzle pasta generously with olive oil to coat the noodles, then add the remaining finely minced garlic, the chopped parsley, remaining lemon zest, crushed toasted walnuts and when cauliflower is done, add it to the bowl and toss. Sprinkle with vegan pecorino and chilli flakes. Taste, adjust salt and pepper and add more if necessary. If it tastes bland, it probably needs a little more salt.
SZECHUAN TOFU AND VEGGIES
S e r ve s 1-2 Ti me : 3 0 m i nute s
Effortless vegan dining
INGREDIENTS • 8 ounces tofu, patted dry and cubed ( or sub shrimp or chicken cubes) • 2 tablespoons olive or high heat oil • generous pinch salt and pepper
shredded brussels, or shredded broccoli) • 1 cup shredded carrots or matchstick • ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
• ½ cup thinly sliced onion
• 1 cup asparagus, snap peas, or green beans
• 4 ounces sliced mushrooms (optional)
• optional : 6- 8 small dried red Chinese or Arbol chillies
• 2 cups shredded cabbage (or
• garnish: scallions, sesame
Heat oil in a skillet. Season oil generously with salt and pepper. With tofu, I generally use ½ teaspoon kosher salt per ½ pound of tofu. Swirl the seasoned oil around until spread out uniformly. Add tofu and sear on at least two sides, until crispy and golden. Be patient here. Set aside.
To the same pan, add a little more oil if needed, onion, and mushrooms and sauté over medium high heat – stirring constantly, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining veggies, add the dried chillies if you like -and lower heat to medium, and sauté, tossing & stirring for 3-5 minutes until just tender or al dente. Tender, but vibrant and still slightly crisp! Add the Szechuan Sauce, starting with ¼ cup and adding more to taste. Cook the sauce 2 minutes, letting it thicken a bit. Toss in the crispy tofu right at the end, just to warm it up. Divide among two bowls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. Add chilli flakes for more heat. Serve this just as it is, or over rice, or noodles… enjoy.
Time: 40 minutes
Effortless vegan dining
• 2 cups flour (spelt, whole wheat or • ¾ cup maple syrup gluten free flour blend ) • 1 teaspoon vanilla • 1/2 cup rolled oats • 1/3 cup soy milk or nut milk • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder • 2 teaspoons lemon zest • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda • 2 1/2 cups diced rhubarb, divided • 1/2 teaspoon salt (cut into small ½ inch dice) • 1 teaspoon cardamon • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon • 1–2 tablespoon chia or flax seeds (optional)
• 1/2 cup nuts ( sliced almonds or try pecans or walnuts) optional • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar • Coarse turbanado sugar, optional
• 1/3 cup olive oil or melted coconut oil METHOD
Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, add flour, oats, baking powder soda, salt and spices. Mix well. To the bowl add soy or nut milk and increase it to 2/3 cups total. Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and let it curdle. Then add oil (or melted coconut oil), maple syrup, vanilla and lemon zest. Give a good stir to combine. Add 2 cups of rhubarb (reserving 1/2 for the top). Add half the sliced almonds (saving some for the top). Spoon the thickish batter into a well greased, non stick muffin tin or line with muffin cups. Sprinkle the top with remaining almonds. Tuck in few of the reserved rhubarb into the batter of each muffin, colourful side up. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if you like. Bake 23-25 minutes. Check doneness by inserting a skewer or small knife into the center of middle of the muffin. If it comes out clean they are done. Let it cool. Using a knife, loosen the edges of the muffins to release. These will keep 3-4 days, covered or sealed, at room temp. Enjoy.
MODEL: Cecilia Paton PHOTOGRAPHY AND STYLING: Phoebe Paton Blazer: Zara Culottes: Mint Velvet
FIND YOUR NATURAL BEAUTY An essay about accepting our skin and exploring beauty regimes. Words: Phoebe Paton
he face is often one of the first places to show the passage of time, accepting the smile lines, wrinkles, discolouration and skin pigmentation as a natural process of ageing is not always easy. However, after reading about French woman and their beauty regime recently, I was inspired by their approach of embracing ageing rather than fighting against it, the French expression ‘être bien dans sa peau’ couldn’t be truer. It basically translates to ‘feeling good about yourself is about feeling good about how you look.’ So, it’s time to embrace all changes, as they are all natural and caused by a numerous reason such as: the fat in our face losing volume, years of sun exposure and changes in oestrogen levels, among many others. So how can we enhance our natural beauty whilst embracing our changing skin? We are mostly told to avoid alcohol, sugar, coffee, sun and smoking, oh and have at least eight hours’ sleep a night and drink continuous pints of water. But this sort of routine isn’t sustainable, and even if it was, colder weather conspires its own stress and imbalance to the skin. So, my tip would be to keep your skin hydrated by using moisturising creams/oils
or serums (depending on your skin type) to retain your skin’s natural glow and improve the way the makeup sits on your face. I always make sure the face products include SPF to avoid any further damage from UV rays, but I must admit I still love having a tan and use a gradual tanner moisturiser occasionally to get a natural tint. Incorporating a gentle exfoliant once a week to remove any dead skin is also great when trying to improve your skin elasticity. Make up can also provide natural enhancements just like skincare, whether it’s used to balance your skin colour or just to add some glow. For some a foundation with a golden undertone will suit best, as it balances the redness many might experience in their face. Another aspect to consider in coverage, some women might opt for a medium coverage foundation, as it gives you coverage without looking caked on, fuller coverage may also run the risk of defining wrinkles more. But everyone’s skin is different, so visiting a beauty counters and asking for samples and advice is a great way to find products which suit you.
Eyebrows are also important when enhancing your natural beauty as they frame the whole face, by drawing fine lines in upward directions you can give your brows a bushier and fuller look, as our brows are prone to become more sparse or thin with age. As for lips, they often start to lose their colour with age (resulting in a less precise lip shade), they also might before dryer in texture, so adding a tint of colour whilst moisturising the lips is perfect for enhancing your natural beauty. Using a lip liner is also an option if you are looking for further lip definition. Picking a half shade darker than your lipstick or natural lip colour, creates the illusion of fullness but also avoids creating too much of a line.
NATURAL MAKEUP, DAYTIME LOOK Cecilia Paton created a guide to her fresh natural look shown in the photographs. She takes us step by step through creating this look and has included some tips and tricks for applying makeup to older womenâ€™s skin.
Find your Natural Beauty
01. Cleanse your skin, my favourite is the Tropic’s Smoothing Cleanser as it made from 100% natural ingredients and melts away existing make up and impurities, perfect for sensitive skin. 02. Massage moisturiser into the skin, again I use Tropic’s Skin Dream Age-Defying Firming Cream Concentrate, which plumps my skin up and gives my skin more elasticity. 03. Apply a light coverage dewy foundation, my go to foundation is Laura Mercier Silk Crème Moisturising Foundation, this blurs fine lines, wrinkles, discolouration and skin pigmentation. 04. Conceal under your eyes, I use Trinny London BBF Serum Concealer, this brightens dark circles but also hydrates your skin, illuminates and doesn’t crease into any of my wrinkles. 05. If you’re prone to oily skin like myself you may wish to powder your face, I use the Laura Mercier Translucent Powder in areas such as under the eye, sides of nose, and chin. This prevents any creasing, mattifies areas and is really lightweight on my skin. 06. On the eyes I use Becca eye tint in soft brown all over the eyelid and on the lower lash line. Blend gently up to socket line so that there is no edge to the shadow.
07. For the brows I use Benefit Precisely My Brow and draw upward little strokes to give a fuller look. 08. I apply light layer of mascara to top and bottom lashes using Benefit BADgal Mascara, my daughter recommended this to me as its weightless, lasts up to 36 hours and really lengthens your lashes. 09. On the cheeks I use my Tropic Blush in shade Golden Apricot on the apples of my cheeks and blended up softly towards temples. I then use Benefit Hola Bronzer to enhance my cheekbones, side of nose, forehead and jawline. I then use the same Becca highlighter I used on my eyes to highlight my cheekbone. 10. On lips I use Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick in shade Angel Alessandra, which gives a subtle peachy tint, whilst being super moisturising which is perfect for winter lips. I then use Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Liner in shade Pillow Talk to give an illusion of a fuller look. 11. For perfume, I love my Francis Kurkdjian Paris Baccarat Rouge 540 for colder months, it can be pricey but the jasmine and woody musk hint to it is addictive.
TIME TO RELAX Sound baths- the perfect opportunity to destress, time out, meditate, rejuvenate and enjoy the power of the sound waves – a chance to embrace your inner hippy. Words: Jane Davies
I experienced my first sound bath about six months ago when I was volunteering at a centre for the visually impaired. One afternoon I was assigned to guide a new resident and they had chosen to attend a gong bath. I was not at all sure what a gong bath was at first and thought it sounded a little ‘hippy dippy’ but in the spirit of adventure I went in with an open mind. The facilitator Steph explained about the various effects and benefits the session may have. I was quite sceptical about the possibility of deep relaxation and meditation state she indicated could happen. In the past I have tried to meditate and have experimented with mindfulness in an attempt to reduce stress and anxiety but to no avail as I don’t have the patience or temperament for meditation. At the front of the room there were some huge gongs and other instruments which I later found out were Tibetan singing bowls, crystal singing bowls, and chimes. I laid down on my yoga mat and Steph explained the process. We started with some guided relaxation after this the music from the gongs started and the sound washed over me like water in a bath. The gongs created this harmonic sound that seemed to reach inside me it was so penetrating. I felt my consciousness ebb and flow and for once I felt
my mind was completely clear, no wondering mind and intrusive thoughts. When Steph started playing the crystal bowls, I felt a tension release in my jaw area (I have a history of teeth grinding at night). Later Steph explained to me that the bowls she was playing were in tune to the ear nose and throat area and that was why I felt a release in that area. Steph moved around the room playing some of the smaller instruments above our heads. She played some chimes that sounded like fairies and then as she finished the session with some rattles to bring us all back into the present moment with different instruments meant to ‘ground you’. The music lasts for just over an hour. I felt I had been on a journey inside my head. I couldn’t tell you where I’d been. The thing that made it so special is that it is a totally immersive mind and body experience. Sound doesn’t just enter through your ears, the vibrations go through your whole body whether your ears are consciously listening to it or not, massaging and stimulating you inside and out. Different gongs are played to stimulate different brainwaves. After it was over, I felt deeply relaxed, like after having a massage. I floated out of the session resolving to attend another one soon. Since this experience I have attended when possible a session once a month. Continue >
PHOTOGRAPHY: MAGIC BOWLS
Afterwards I always feel a sense of rejuvenation that quiets my mind. Most people love the experience and report back they sleep very deeply on the same day of the gong bath. The History of Gong Baths and How They Impact The Body Sound has been used as an effective tool for helping to improve health and wellbeing for thousands of years. More recently yoga studios and health centres in cities across the UK have seen the popularity of sound baths rising. In ancient eastern beliefs they believe in seven chakras ruling different aspects of our well-being. When they get in balanced or blocked the body is affected in the form of anxiety, depression and illness. Sound frequencies have been studied and it has been found that music in all forms does fascinating things to the brain and that sound healing can improve anxiety, depression, and overall mood. Therapeutic instruments such as Tibetan singing bowls and gongs stimulate the alpha and theta brain wave frequencies associated with meditative, clear and peaceful states of mind. Alpha brainwaves are present during light meditation, daydreaming and deep relaxation. Theta brainwaves are present during REM dreaming sleep, deep meditation and hypnosis. These states are considered the gateway to the subconscious mind and it is here where we experience heightened creativity, depth of imagination and access to the subconscious realms where deep seated healing can take place. Therapeutic sound also impacts our nervous system, slowing the heart, brain and respiratory rates down to induce a state of deep relaxation and peace. When the brains waves and body are synchronised, balance can be restored, and stress can be released.
Time to Relax
“I felt I had been on a journey inside my head. I couldn’t tell you where I’d been.”
How to find a Sound Bath? The best place to start searching for a sound bath is local yoga studios. Often there are independent practitioners who hold regular sessions at community centres. Practitioners often advertise on facebook. Tips for your first Sound Bath Go with an open mind. All sound baths are different, as are the facilitators and their methods for creating a sound experience. Remember to take a yoga mat, and rug and a small pillow so you are comfortable and warm. Body temperature can drop suddenly when you are fully relaxed and feeling cold will spoil the experience. What should I expect during a gong bath? Each person’s experience is unique and its possible for gong bathers to have a range of experiences from visions, to epiphanies, to creative solutions and even some have reported psychedelic like experiences. You may experience a range of emotions and reactions such as laughing, crying, feeling scared or angry and anything in between. Many people feel a sense of bliss and peace after a gong bath. Gong bath sessions have been described as: relaxing calming, centering, energising, transforming and healing. It can help people with depression, stress and anxiety, building resilience, emotional blockages and bereavement, pain management and illness, but many attend sessions purely for relaxation. Should you try it? Perhaps you feel you feel perfect relaxation would be to stay at home and binge watch a TV box set with a glass of wine. But I say, embrace your inner hippy. See how it makes you feel.
THE MISSING PIECE OF THE PUZZLE An essay about unlearning dieting and loving your body. Words: Miriam Blyth
fter just short of two decades, I decided to give up dieting. Not because I didn’t want to lose weight, but because I had found the missing piece of the puzzle to lose weight, and keep it off, as a naturally slim person would do. I had been dieting for years. The weight would come off, and back on again more times than I can remember. I tried every diet going, Slimming world, Weight Watchers, The blood group diet, The Harcombe diet, Atkins, Slim fast, Juice diets, Calorie counting, and more, nothing would sustain the weight loss. In fact, over time, I was gradually gaining weight steadily. I was exercising plenty (over exercising at times) and still, I just could not shift weigh and keep it off! This just went on and on and on. I’d recognised I had eating issues, had counselling, and still couldn’t get anywhere near where I needed to be mentally. It got worse and worse. the more I dieted and it didn’t work, the harder I’d diet.
Then in 2014 I fell pregnant with my first baby, followed by 2015 falling for my second! Between those 2 years, things were better I guess, but I was still going mad in my mind. After having the children, my body confidence was terrible, well, to be honest it was terrible from the start of it all from years back. I was constantly telling myself I was fat, I just could not accept the way my body was. I felt sad, I felt useless, and I couldn’t understand why. Why was it, that I was exercising consistently, eating ‘healthily’ and still nowhere near where I wanted to be! I joined a bootcamp near to me, made huge progress where exercise was concerned, and I joined a Slimming World group vowing it would be it. I opened up a fitness account on Instagram to give me accountability and hey presto!
I was off. And it worked! But for how long? Months at a time, but then I’d always come unstuck. On plan/off plan, binging then being a saint. I was convinced all diets work because they put you in a calorie deficit, but it’s aligning a diet to your mindset. And then, I came across a book. Josie Spinardi’s book, ‘How to have your Cake and your Skinny Jeans too’. And there it was……the missing piece of the puzzle. The psychology. Because who knew right, that restricting food - causes you to binge eat. And that’s not just some made up rubbish. It’s brain science. As soon as I realised that I’d been using the wrong tool to lose weight (a diet) I went to work undoing it all right away. I didn’t quite realise how long it was going to take to undo it all, but I was willing to give up the shackles and free myself into a life without food obsession. I think it is a very individual journey, because unlearning dieting, and relearning how to eat to your body’s natural hunger is going to vary for everyone. I guess it’s how zoned out you became. Not only this, you have to replace habits and work on your behaviours. And habits have to be easy ‘for you’ to do, or you won’t do them! So figuring all that out is a massive learning curve, and when we learn, whilst we’re learning, things happen, things crop up which make us feel failed, but we haven’t failed - we have to LEARN from those experiences, and overcome them. It’s so funny. Now I’m in a position where I can view the world from different angles, the dieters perspective, the naturally slim persons perspective and the intuitive eaters perspective.
A dieter will not believe there is any other means to weight loss other than a diet. They view naturally slim people as ‘extra’ - they’re basically blessed. They could never be like that themselves, because they love their food too much and would ‘just not be able to stop’, which is actually just a self limiting belief. The naturally slim person has never had issues with food, and they just don’t get dieting at all. I can see why, because when your hunger/ fullness is in tune (as it should be) and your habits and behaviours are the norm, why on earth would you want to actually count what you eat or restrict food groups?! An intuitive eater is anti diet, they think anyone seeking weight loss is dieting, because it’s intentional. They’re about body acceptance, which is fine, but we’re not talking about restricting yourself, or doing crazy stuff to lose weight. Losing weight without dieting actually sits in the middle of all of them. To lose weight not dieting, you cannot intentionally lose weight, because that is dieting, and diets don’t work. They cannot be sustained. We’re talking about addressing your habits and behaviours and by doing so, weight loss is a by product of that. The only way to lose weight is in a caloric deficit. So if you are managing the way you execute your day, neutralising food and building a healthier relationship towards it, you will put yourself into a deficit unintentionally. The aim isn’t to get to a ‘goal weight’. The aim is to work it all out and learn your body, your habits/ behaviours, so that your body will gravitate to it’s own natural lean, without you having to force it there. And it will do it, because you will inevitably be ditching a load of unnecessary calories, without ‘trying’.
Illustration by Hazel Anne
“There is a lot of self love that needs to be applied, particularly if you’re anything like I was where I just could not accept the way I looked for years.”
The missing piece of the puzzle
Our bodies weren’t designed to carry too much ‘excess’ fat, because it’s taxing on our organs. But it’s important that you realise that everybody’s body and natural lean is going to be different. You have to take into consideration body composition. There is a lot of self love that needs to be applied, particularly if you’re anything like I was where I just could not accept the way I looked for years. Hating yourself slim will never work, you need to be coming from a place of love, where you care enough about yourself to take care of yourself. Then of course there’s learning how to disassociate food from emotions, which will take you much longer than your average 6-12 week PT programme (which by the way won’t address the psychology at all, hence the regains). But once you truly learn, and keep learning, there comes a tipping point, where all of a sudden you better handle these situations. I’m still learning now. I’ve been diet free since April 2019. At present, I’m under Leslie Hooper’s Group Coaching programme (since October 2019) Leslie is basically a Habit/ behaviour Coach. She has given me Structure to learning habits in a sequence, which has been a really important step in all this, as when you give up dieting you miss the structure of it. This is structure, but it’s using the correct tools to get sustainable weight loss, and maintain like a naturally slim person would. I cannot believe the freedom I feel. It is hard, I’m not going to lie! Like learning to drive. It takes months of learning, before you can get in the car and drive on autopilot. And you make mistakes! You hit the kerb from time to time. But what you don’t do when you know you want to drive solo, is say, ‘Oh, I can’t do this’ and give up. You keep going for lessons,
and learn from any mistakes you make. I’ve maintained a weight range, but have definitely lost some body fat. The weight has been a little up and down, which is scary because you worry it will stay that way, but I recognise I’m in a learning phase still. You don’t plant a seed and expect to eat the fruit straight away. It needs to grow first. Fat loss is inevitable, because the amount of calories you cut out through habit change - not food change - habit change. So for example, under Leslies programme, we make eating the activity. We sit down at the table to eat 3-4 times a day, and unless we’re sat there, we don’t eat. So the amount of food you instantly cut out, because you’re not picking in between, not a single bite, lick or taste, calories are automatically cut without ‘trying’. You have to remember these are not rules, they’re strategies. Rules suggest we have to stick to that, and the brain will process that as restriction/deprivation, and drive you to do the thing you’re trying not to do. Strategies however, are plans of action. They are things that will help you get your desired result. By filing the information in your brain as a strategy rather than a rule, you don’t have to do it. You’re just going to do it, because you know it will serve you. The brain will not process that as deprivation, and if you do feel like walking along a beach eating ice cream, who’s to stop you? What you do most of the time is what counts right? There are so many facets to unlearning dieting, and it’s hard, which is why people give up! But if you take the time to truly learn how to eat to your own lean, you eventually go on autopilot and are able to sustain eating in balance without ‘trying’.
IS IT TIME TO TRY WEIGHTLIFTING? A conversation with personal trainer, Jordan Turner. Hi Jordan. Can you explain a little about yourself and what you do? Of course, I’m 30 and I own my own personal training gym in North Wales and have over 12 years’ experience in the industry. I offer group training sessions, 1-2-1 personal training sessions specifically focused on weight training, and I also offer tailored nutritional advice. Why do you believe that weight training is better for mature women than other exercises such as cardiovascular training? The reason many women come to me for assistance with weight training is because as you age, a certain amount of degeneration occurs in many structures within the body. Two of the most common symptoms associated with aging are muscles loss and bone density loss which becomes more aggressive as we age. Cardiovascular training can break down muscle, and extreme cardio exercise can also lead to further problems such as poor posture, injuries, muscle and joint pain! Therefore, by incorporating small doses of cardio alongside strength training, women are more likely to see the results they want. Wow, I had no idea cardio training could have that effect on us. So, what are the benefits of weight training? Many don’t, weightlifting is often seen as what you do when you want to ‘bulk’ up, but not many realise that it burns hundreds of calories and really helps you tone up whilst losing weight. Weight training can benefit anyone at any age as it increases bone
density and muscle strength, but in over50s it is particularly important for women who want to reduce the effects of aging and muscle loss. Weight training also increases the body’s store of proteins and metabolites, which helps stabilize the immune system. Elderly people who weight-train actually have higher numbers of proteins and metabolites, which can help to improve recovery after major traumas, such as surgery. It has also been proven to help with sleep, decrease blood sugar, blood pressure, prevents diseases, particular cancers and also keep diabetes away! What’s not to love! Oh, and it does wonders for your posture. That’s a lot of benefits I wasn’t aware of myself. So, what do you recommend women in their 50s and above should do if they wanted to try it? I think the best thing to do is to hire a personal trainer who will show you how to lift weights properly, design your weight programme and educate you on what is best for you. As although there are benefits, there are also risks if weights aren’t lifted in the right way. If personal 1-2-1 training is outside of your budget, look to see who provides group training sessions in your area. Many gym owners like myself offer classes for just £5. However, if you do a group session make sure to let the trainer know you are new to weight training, so they can keep an eye on your posture and assist you if needed. There are also plenty of videos on YouTube which can help educate you further on lifting weights.
M O D E L : Josephine Gray P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y Phoebe Paton
T H E M E N O PAU S E J O U R N E Y An essay about women and their journey with menopause. Words: Phoebe Paton
enopause often has a stigma attached to it, which stops women from starting a conversation around the topic, explaining why the term is still surrounded by myth and confusion. It explains why many women approaching menopause either fear it or are in denial that it will ever happen to them. Ignoring or fearing menopause is not useful, in fact it’s difficult to understand why we are not educated about the process from a young age which could potentially solve this issue, as facing and engaging with it strengthens us, especially when we discover there can actually be some positive aspects.
I once read about a woman called Barbara Younger, who described her journey as a hormonal rollercoaster, which I think it a pretty accurate representation. Women may begin to feel lost in unexplored territory of body and psyche, so it’s completely normal for this to have an impact on your mood. Although it is easy to blame your emotions on other things at this time, you soon realise that if you are despising the living room wallpaper one minute and adoring it the next, this might just be the roller coaster of menopause. Yet if we can stay on the ride with a positive attitude and self-care, menopause brings significant rewards that are specific to women and to the post-fertile So why is the process confusing? Well from stage of life. Of course, at times you’ll need a young age we are brought up to hang to let out a scream or two, but as Barbara onto our youth as long as possible, so it says, “when you scream on a coaster, it’s a can be really difficult to embrace such a happy scream, a scream in celebration of direct indication of ageing, and menopause your courage for getting on the ride in the can seem so, well, final. But menopause is first place. So, celebrate those roller coaster transition, a time for strengthening and emotions as you celebrate all that makes maturing which allows for a new depth of your very own life, including menopause, the character to develop and shine through. But is greatest, wildest, best ride in the entire park.” there a way to help understand the process?
Although many women have spoken up about feeling deeply re-energised and inspired following menopause, getting to that point can be extremely difficult. More recently there has been more publicity about the psychological effects of menopause along with the physical symptoms. These include memory problems, anxiety, mood changes and loss of confidence. For a woman who works, they may feel these symptoms are impacting on their performance, but as there is still a stigma attached to the word, many feel too embarrassed to talk about it. They think that they won’t be taken seriously or fear of being thought of as ‘old’ or ‘past it’ - concerns that have all been highlighted through various research. Celebrities such as Meg Matthews and Andrea Mclean have written about their own experiences, as many women are incorrectly treated with antidepressants for menopausal symptoms. As women are retiring later in today’s generation, it is even more vital for others to understand menopause as retirement age is rocketing to 76. This means that women need to work 10 to 25 years post menopause. However, statistics currently tell us one in
four women consider leaving work due to their menopause symptoms. If employers started to show more support to women through this transition, they will be keeping experienced, talented staff, saving on recruitment costs and training. But, it’s not just about the bottom line – put simply, it’s the right thing to do. So, although menopause may not be the most enjoyable rollercoaster of your life with the day to day symptoms and emotional up and downs, menopause signifies the passing of years but also the gaining of wisdom and selfknowledge. To help get to grip with menopause it’s important to break it down into its three stages, each of which has its own predominant logic, needs, challenges and blessings although some of these may blend into the next stage or go on for longer or shorter lengths of time. Not one experience of menopause is the same as another. But with better understanding, perhaps we can start to shine a new light on the process.
“from a young age we are brought up to hang onto our youth as long as possible, so it can be really difficult to embrace such a direct indication of ageing”
(Average age 40/45-50)
(Average age 50-51)
This phase can last up to ten years, from when you first notice your periods changing to when you have your last period. For most women this time is experienced as a gradual shift in hormone levels that begins to show changes in: • Menstrual bleeding: can become heavier, less frequent, or you may experience spotting. • Sexuality: higher sex drive, lower sex drive, stronger orgasms, changes in sexual orientation and desired partner. • Sleep: can becomes less reliable as menopause approaches with night sweats contributing to the disturbed nights. • Metabolism: during this stage it’s easier to put weight on; thyroid and other imbalances may arise. • Mood: an increase in mild anxiety and depression.
Menopause is used to describe the whole transition, but medically menopause actually refers to the moment in time that occurs 12 months after your last period. Here, menopause refers to the whole year following your last period, which is the most symptomatic phase of the transition for most women, often giving rise to:
RECOMMENDATION: At this stage it is important to consider simplifying your life, so you will have a bit more time to yourself while going through the transition. It is also recommended that women enter menopause properly wellnourished, with a sensible exercise habit in place, and protect your adrenals by reducing the amount of coffee and alcohol you drink. Foods high in phytoestrogens (plant chemicals that mimic oestrogens in the body) have also been labelled as menopause helpers.
• A sense of feeling lost and uncertain. • Heightened emotions: the past, grief and regrets come to the surface, often together with increased demands of teenage children and aging parents. This can lead to an increased sense of vulnerability. • Peak of menopausal symptoms e.g. hot flushes, insomnia. • Mood – e.g. mood swings, irritability. Some woman also find it difficult to concentrate like they once did at work and complain of a ‘brain fog’. This can lead to feeling like you’re unable to do a job as well as they once could do, leading some to even consider giving up work. The psychological symptoms of this stage are often overlooked. Most people recognise the stereotypical hot flushes, but what surprises many are the psychological effects. RECOMMENDATION: Give your body and head space to adjust. If difficult feelings come up, try to accept them and allow them to be. Many women will feel temporarily more emotional – but try to see this as an opportunity for you to clear your mind and enter the next phase of your life with more self-awareness and inner clarity. Educate yourself on medications out there to help with symptoms, such as HRT or more natural methods, your journey is unique and one medication won’t suit all, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about your options.
The Journey of Menopause
POST-MENOPAUSE (Average age 52-58) After the first year without periods the body is still adapting to lowering levels of hormones and learning to make hormones in different parts of the body than the ovaries. Women often continue to experience menstrual symptoms like hot flushes, irritability, anxiety and insomnia. But good self-care will mean for most women that these symptoms are now abating, and gradually subside entirely. Psychologically, if you have been able to clear the mind of the residue of emotion left by past reproductive trauma such as abortion, miscarriage, and romantic and family disappointments, you will start to feel lighter and freer. POST-MENOPAUSE ALLOWS YOU TO: • Look at your life with different eyes and make decisions based on the present. • Respect your body and learn to love it and look after it. Many women lose tolerance for alcohol after menopause and do better if they drink less or nothing. Changes in metabolism mean you can’t get away with consuming empty calories as much as you once did. Hard exercises which include a lot of jumping around may be better replaced by strength training to lessen wear and tear on joints. • Get regular check-ups as this transitional phase can be a vulnerable stage for health.
S TA RT I N G T H E C O N V E R S AT I O N A conversation with Nikky Gaylor about her brand Sylk, the concept of intimacy, how sex impacts relationships, and how to find empowerment.
Illustration by Hazel Anne
Hi Nikki, could you give a little background to the readers about your brand Sylk and the story behind it? Of course, so Sylk is a plantbased female friendly formula which gently soothes vaginal dryness and provides lubrication just like your own, our product is made in New Zealand with kiwi vine gum extract. It’s mainly used by women who experience dryness as a side effect of cancer treatment, menopausal symptoms or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, it just provides a little extra hydration to keep everything feeling sexy when making love. It was actually my parents who discovered Sylk in the 1990’s when my Dad was working in New Zealand, his background was the pharmaceutical industry and he recognised that this lovely, natural lubricant was unique and there was nothing like it back home in the UK. He became the UK distributor and started to sell it via mail order. My Dad worked really hard at driving awareness of Sylk amongst health professionals, particularly those looking after women. In 1997 he successfully applied for Sylk to go on prescription and the rest is history. From there we were able to sell it over the
counter to wholesalers supplying pharmacies throughout UK and the business began to really grow. As many women know, vaginal dryness is a symptom of menopause which your product helps solve. Do you think there needs to be more of a conversation on menopause so there isn’t a stigma around it? Yes, for sure, although I was bought up with Sylk as a family business so we were open about talking in general terms about menopause and vaginal dryness, I don’t remember ever talking to my Mum about her own experience. So, it wasn’t till I reached the age of 45 that I am began to understand the impact menopause and related symptoms can have on a woman’s health and wellbeing. I do think a lot is starting to change though, and conversations around menopause are starting to open up, largely driven by celebrities like Meg Matthews and Andrea Mclean being so open and honest about their own experiences. However, vaginal dryness is still very much a taboo subject and I think that has a lot to do with the fact we just don’t like talking about our intimate parts, although it’s one of the most comment symptoms of menopause. I discovered that
only around a third of women who suffer from vaginal dryness seek medical help, which is why there needs to be more of a conversation surrounding this. As women we are forecast to all spend around 1/3 of our life postmenopausal and vaginal dryness is the one symptom that won’t go away, we need to make sure we are informed and aware of what we can do to ensure so we can enjoy a healthy sex life for as long as possible. What advice can you give to women to feel more at ease with their bodies and sharing themselves intimately? I’ve never met a woman who thought she had a perfect body no matter what their age, although when you’re in your 20’s, your body probably looks pretty good. Even so, many women this age still have body issues. Leading to the question which might have circled all our heads at some point, “how could anyone love me when I don’t have a perfect body?”. This shows how body image weighs heavily on a woman’s mentality which strongly affects intimacy. If we have self-acceptance of our bodies and own them, we can begin to feel empowered and confident within a physical relationship with someone else.
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The vision of Womanhood is to create a better future, where wise, well-travelled, well-read and experienced women are not labelled as irrele...
Published on May 2, 2020
The vision of Womanhood is to create a better future, where wise, well-travelled, well-read and experienced women are not labelled as irrele...