Thursday, 30 June 2016

Imagination can enrich your life

       Hotel’s booked, passport’s in order, cases are packed and you’ve checked in for the flight. Surely there’s nothing more exciting than the run-up to a holiday - unless you’re a worrier like me!
        Not for me the thrilled anticipation of sun, sea and sangria. I’m one of those unfortunate glass-half-empty sort of folk who lie awake at night imagining every conceivable disaster - from lost tickets and forgotten toothbrushes to terrorist attacks and plane crashes! ‘What if? What if? What if?’
       Which goes to show that while imagination is a wonderful gift it does have a downside. We all have one, of course - even the most practical people need to think ahead if only to plan their trek to the bus stop – so maybe it’s worth considering how to avoid the pitfalls of overthinking and make the best possible use of our minds.

What is imagination?

       According to one dictionary, it is “the ability to form pictures or ideas in your mind of things that are new and exciting, or things that you have not experienced.” You don’t have to be an artist or writer to possess this ability; we use imagination every day.

Negative uses of imagination

       Living in a dream world. There’s nothing wrong with daydreaming.* It can be both pleasant and beneficial, as well as an excellent way to pass the time when waiting for that bus. But there are times when you need to remain firmly in the here and now. Attending vital lecture or work briefings, driving a car and caring for children are all activities that demand one’s full attention. And what we imagine can also be harmful - romantic fantasies, for example, will eventually cause heartache if you or the person concerned is already spoken for. Dreaming of a future with someone else’s spouse may eventually lead to immoral realities.
       Believing wealth or fame bring happiness. Money and material possessions are necessary, of course, but imagining they’re the be-all-and-end-all would be a big mistake. ‘Things’ simply cannot bring happiness or security, however much you acquire. Just ask someone who’s lost everything in wars or natural disasters; survivors are only too glad to escape with their lives! As for fame, many well-known people have come to regret their loss of privacy and often face real problems as a result.  Seeing yourself as a celebrity may seem attractive, yet the reality is very different.+
       Imagining the worst. I’m certainly not alone in worrying about things which may never happen. Not only is it a complete waste of time, but it uses far too much energy, leads to anxiety, stress and discouragement, and can cause illness such as heart disease or depression. By overthinking negative scenarios, you effectively become your own jailer, afraid to do anything, go anywhere, meet anyone or enjoy new experiences. So stop it!

Positive uses of imagination

       Foreseeing problems and avoiding them. Travel, social events, sports, work, entertainment…..whatever your plans, it’s always wise to think about potential snags or dangers and take steps to avoid them. Going on holiday is an obvious example. I tend to worry about losing documents, so make it a habit to keep passport, insurance and driving licence details somewhere safe, just in case. If going out for the evening, it’s wise to organise transport well in advance in order to get home safely. Okay, axe-wielding maniacs may not be roaming the streets every night, but it pays to be cautious! Use your imagination, do whatever it takes to protect yourself and you’ve less need to worry.+
       Planning how to resolve disputes. It could be a friend or relative with a grievance, a difficult work colleague or a dispute with your boss. At various points in your life you have to deal with awkward situations. The worst way to handle them would be to dive in, all guns blazing, on the spur of the moment. The best way would be to think about the situation, try to see the other person’s point of view and list your arguments accordingly. Write down what you need to say. Then edit it, removing any slights, slurs, curses, lame excuses, accusations and over-emotional outbursts. Rehearse your speech and sound down the main points, try to imagine any objections your protagonist may come up with and how you will answer them. In this way, you’ll be calm, cool and well-prepared.
       Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. One of the wisest rules ever written was: “All things that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them.” If everyone in the world followed this advice, we’d have far fewer problems – but it requires a very special quality: Empathy, the ability to feel another person’s pain in our heart. How can we cultivate this wonderful virtue? Simply by using our imagination, putting ourselves in someone else’s place and asking ourselves how we would feel. Doing so will help us know how to treat others in the most compassionate way, developing good relationships with everyone around us. 
       Yes indeed, imagination is a wonderful gift. Use it wisely and it will enrich your life!




Monday, 13 June 2016

Will there ever be a meat-free world?

       I must confess, I do like bacon - and the odd chicken dinner. Not as enthusiastically, as some, I might add, and I’m rapidly fancying that rack of spare ribs a lot less than I used to, but I've certainly eaten my share.
So the following statement is not a pious, self-righteous attack on carnivores but an honest presentation of the facts:
       Humans are not designed to eat meat.  
       If, like me, you believe in creation you also have to believe God's words to Adam in Genesis chapter 1:29*. "Here I have given to you every seed-bearing plant that is on the earth and every tree with seed-bearing fruit. Let them serve as food for you."
       It doesn't end there. According to Genesis 1:30, even animals were vegetarian: "And to every wild animal of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens and to everything moving on the earth in which there is life, I have given all green vegetation for food."
       Of course, we all know this idyll didn't last. Adam and Eve turned away from God and were turfed out of Eden to eat bread in the sweat of their faces until they returned to the ground (Genesis 3:19). The treacherous twosome lost their wonderful privilege of filling the earth with their perfect children, caring for the animals and turning the rest of the earth into a paradise.
       Even so, meat was not on the menu until after the flood^ when God gave Noah and his descendants permission to eat flesh. (Genesis 9:3,4) No doubt in consideration of the animals, he instilled in them a fear of humans instead of the trust they had enjoyed originally. (Genesis 9:2)
      The good news for animal lovers is that meat eating will one day be abolished. When the catastrophic results of Adam's rebellion are reversed, all living things will return to their original diet of seed-bearing fruit and vegetables. Isaiah chapter 11 promises: "The cow and the bear will feed together, and their young will lie down together. The lion will eat straw like the bull." (Isaiah 11:6-9)

* New World Translation
^ "Was there really a global flood?"

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Does Bio-Resonance really work?

       A few years ago, a friend of mine - let’s call her Stella* – had severe digestive problems and was diagnosed with Candida, which causes the naturally occurring yeast in the intestinal tract to proliferate. It then leeches into the bloodstream and attacks other organs, emitting more than 70 toxins at the same time. Symptoms include joint pain, headaches, migraines, dizziness, extreme tiredness and an insatiable craving for carbohydrates and anything sweet (For more details see web-link below)
       Despite a drastic change of diet and assorted natural remedies, including colonic irrigation, Stella’s health continued to worsen as her weight dropped, her energy levels plummeted and her self-esteem virtually disappeared. Eventually, a friend put her in touch with David*, a specialist in Bio-Resonance who, after one 2-hour session, identified her problems.
       She did not, as previously thought, have Candida at all. All her symptoms were apparently down to flukes (worms or parasites) which had been feeding off her gut for several years. Using a machine that locates bacteria through electro-magnetic impulses, David sent her home with the order to “eat and drink whatever she liked.” Within a couple of weeks, her eyes were bright and she’d put on a much needed couple of stone. She was cured.
       Faced with that result, it’s no wonder then, that, when beset by inexplicable joint pain, tiredness, persistent headaches and a little nudge from my friend Stella, I decided to visit David and try this ‘miracle’ treatment for myself.
       This is where I need to explain something about the history of bio-resonance. It first came to light some 80 years ago when pioneering practitioner Dr Royal Rife discovered that magnetic and electrical waves could effectively treat many kinds of disease. In 1934, 16 terminal cancer patients were sent by the USC Medical Centre to receive bio-resonance from Rife. All 16 were cured. After USC doctors verified these results, the therapy continued to achieve astonishing success, featuring in many books, papers and articles of the time.  Unfortunately, much of Rife’s original research has since disappeared; whether it’s just been forgotten or maliciously destroyed and suppressed is open to debate. It’s worth noting, however, that Dr Rife and several of his team died under mysterious circumstances while in the process of curing thousands of terminal illnesses. (See website link below). Small wonder David and other practitioners try to stay beneath the radar, as attempts have already been made by certain organisations to ban the rapidly growing use of bio-resonance.  
       Another issue for bona fide practitioners is its adoption by New Age healers, leading prospective clients to believe - mistakenly - that bio-resonance is due to mystic powers rather than proven, easily explained and, according to David, entirely natural science.  
       David is a handsome, well-built man in his late forties who, on the day I met him, had a hint of tiredness around his eyes. He'd just got back from Dusseldorf after attending a conference for private health practitioners from all over the world. Apparently, bio-resonance is widely accepted by Germany’s medical profession, although it's not yet available mainstream.
       David sits on one side of a table on which rests the bio-resonance machine, a device that looks similar to a medium-sized office printer. On the other side is a comfortable chair where the client sits, holding a steel rod in each hand. These rods conduct information from the body’s electrical frequency to the machine.
       For the first visit, a client is given a full diagnosis followed by treatment over a 2-hour session. Once the machine is operative, David holds a wooden handle with a light steel whip-like attachment which begins to swing languidly from side to side. David is surprised by its lack of oomph and wonders why this ‘wand’ is not rotating rapidly as it normally does. He puts its lacklustre performance down to my non-existent energy levels, an indication that my blood pressure is extremely low.
       The procedure takes time, so David explains the latest advances in bio-resonance. Apparently, there’s a new, high-tech machine being introduced that’s a lot more complex than the one he is using for my first visit. Stella, who has come to hold my hand, is thinking of setting up a similar practice herself, but for basic treatment rather than the diagnostic side of things. I think she’d be excellent, as she’s really well up on nutrition and various conditions such as....
       “Candida!” says David. “It’s very wide-spread - gone right through your body.” I gasp. Surely not. What does that mean?” I ask tremulously. Actually, I already have a pretty good idea because of what Stella went through. “No sugar, no flour, no dairy products, no wine and definitely no yeast for 5 weeks,” says David. “That should get it under control. Then we’ll zap it during your next treatment session.” Why not now? “Because there’s so much of it," David replies. "There are roughly 20 different types of candida and you have them all. Zapping the lot in one go would make you feel very, very ill, so do your best to starve it beforehand and it’ll be a lot easier to get rid of.”
       “Five whole weeks!” I exclaim.
       “You’ve got off lightly there,” says Stella. “I was struggling for two years when I thought I had it.”
       “No sugar!” I wail. “For five whole weeks!” What about wine?
       “Oh, no wine,” says David. “Besides, when there’s as much yeast in the system as you have, it ferments and makes you feel drunk anyway.” Somehow, getting merry on a yeast infection doesn’t have quite the same allure as a nice soft Merlot! Stella is as sympathetic as is possible to be with someone as wimpish as me. And hey...there are worse things in life.
       In my case, following the recommended diet did the trick but usually, once a diagnosis has been made, treatment is through electro-magnetic waves set at precise frequencies according to the nature and extent of the disease. Both diagnosis and treatment are entirely painless.
       Bio-resonance has been claimed to cure many illnesses – even cancer, as mentioned above. In fact, according to David, it was the remarkable results of bio-resonance in treating his own cancer which convinced him of this therapy’s amazing powers and made him determined to help others.

After my first bio-resonance session, I managed to bring my candida under control with remarkable effects on my energy levels and general well-being. I now visit David about once a year for a check-up and a welcome boost to the system.

*Not their real names

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Royal flight of fancy puts republicans in a spin

       So Prince William and his wife Kate hired an £8m helicopter. This story - featured large in a national paper - took a dim view of this flight of fancy, quoting the cost (£5,000) and tutting puritanically at Will and Kate's apparent laziness in choosing 45-minutes by air over a much longer but cheaper journey by land.

       And, in an attempt to get its readers on side, the article stresses that such extravagance comes from the pockets of ordinary hard-working people who are expected to bow, scrape and touch their forelocks for the privilege.

       But will the proletariat be stirred to action by such princely goings-on? Will blue- and white-collar workers unite behind the republican flag? Should members of the monarchy be tumbrelled along the mall lined by peasants baying for blood?

       Hardly. Let's not forget that kings, queens and princes are put on high only because lesser mortals actually want someone to look up to. Although - or even because - many once-trusted institutions are falling by the wayside along with our belief in God, humans still feel the need for figureheads, the reassuring presence of a well-known face. And, because celebrities come and go or - unforgivably - grow old, monarchs and their offspring will do nicely. 

       Of course, monarchy* comes at a price.  When the nation of Israel was formed under the Mosaic law, rulership was by Almighty God through His judges and prophets. This worked well as long as the people kept to the commandments, but when the prophet Samuel grew old and his sons proved unworthy of taking on their father's role, the people demanded a king. They wanted a majestic icon, just like the kings of the surrounding nations - someone they could see. "Give us a king to judge us."

       Samuel was devastated at what was, in effect, a rejection of Israel's God. Under inspiration, he warned Israel not to appoint an earthly ruler, listing everything a king would have the right to demand. "He will take your sons and put them in his chariots and make them his horsemen.....and he will appoint for himself chiefs....and some will do his plowing, reap his harvest, and make his weapons of war.....He will take the best of your fields, your vineyards and your olive groves, and he will give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grainfields and your vineyards, and he will give it to his court officials and his servants. And he will take your male and female servants, your best herds and your donkeys.....he will take the tenth of your flocks, and you will become his servants." (1 Samuel 8:1-18)

       Did the people listen? No, they were determined to have a king "like all the other judge us and lead us and fight our battles." Anyone who has ever studied the history of Israel will know how few kings succeeded in bringing peace, security and happiness to the people. On the contrary, most of Israel's rulers caused untold misery.

       Fortunately, modern-day royals have comparatively few powers, existing almost solely to be seen and admired. And if they bring gaiety (along with a thriving tourist industry) to the nation, who would begrudge them the occasional helicopter ride?

*Monarchy (the Greek word mon’os meaning ‘alone,’ and ar-khe’ meaning ‘rule’) is the oldest form of human government, a system which has long been viewed as a unifying force. One eminent teacher of medieval history, John H Mundy, explains,   “Because it transcended particular parties, the institution of monarchy was suited for large areas with diverse and conflicting regional interests.” (See my post

Sunday, 1 May 2016

A walk in the Peak - Wormhill and the River Wye

       It’s Friday morning, the sun is shining and my lovely daughter has come up from London for a few days of fresh Derbyshire air….and to see me, of course!
       But Madam already has plans. Before the milk cools on her porridge she’s leafing through the little Green Book*. “Now, where shall we go on our walk today?” she asks.
       I sigh inwardly. “Well, I was thinking….”
       “Oh THIS looks good! Wormhill. Not far to drive - and it’s by a river with breathtaking views!”
       Views? Oh-o. Where I live ‘breathtaking views’ mean only one thing - upward slogs up breathtaking hills!
       “….and it’s 5 miles!” she adds, reaching for her sand boots. “Oh good!” I reply, “We’ll be walking all day!” Gingerly, Madam shakes each boot to make sure no spiders have taken root inside. “I wish you wouldn’t keep them under the stairs.” she moans, but I’m busy looking for the oxygen mask! 

      Wormhill is a tiny hamlet near Peak Forest on the Sheffield road, a nice drive through gorgeous scenery. We manage to find the perfect parking spot outside an ancient church graveyard. “That’s handy!” I thought. Actually, I rather like graveyards, so we spend a few minutes strolling around and reading old tombstones before setting off on the first leg of our journey.
       “About a 50 yards past the de-restricted sign, we turn right at the footpath sign.” my daughter directs as she strides ahead confidently (and a little too quickly for my liking!) This brings us to a grassy path leading downhill and, true to the little Green Book, the view is wonderful if a little scary. “Let’s not get too close!” I warn, as Madam pushes towards the edge. Time for a photo. “Oh no! You’re not going to take photos all day!” she tuts. Seems she has a thing about my hobby. 

       We then follow a stony path wreathed by gorse bushes to the bottom of the gorge and cross a bridge over the river.  

       From now on, it’s uphill all the way but, despite the panting and gasping, the vista that awaits us is truly worth the trek with its dry stone walls, distant rolling hills and lush green fields. The sweet air of Derbyshire is like nectar which even a distant muck-spreader can’t spoil. Fortunately, the wind is blowing the stench in the opposite direction!

       Having reached the apex of our climb, the path levels off and takes us through Blackwell Farm just in time for the owner to pass by on his tractor, giving us a friendly wave. We pause in the farmyard to admire the views. “Are you lost?” asks a lady emerging from a barn. “No, just looking,” I reply, although in fact I was about to take another photo! Situated on top of a hill, Blackwell Farm must have the some of the best views in Derbyshire – magnificent scenery on every side! It also produces one of my favourite delicacies - Stilton cheese! 

      The Green Book now tells us to continue along the farm’s drive, turn left at the bottom and cross the main road at the next junction. A few more yards of tarmac and we take a sharp left along a walled footpath which opens up to more panoramic views of the Peak as we head for Miller’s Dale. 
       “Oooh, the book says there’s a pub there! The Dale House Inn” exclaims Madam. “I could do with a coffee!” Now that sounds promising….
       Sadly, when we arrive at Miller’s Dale village, there’s not an alehouse in sight. A group of builders renovating a large property on the main road have never heard of the Dale House Inn - and if anyone would know they would! Although the Green Book has proved unerringly accurate to date, it was published 35 years ago, so the hostelry has obviously shut down since then.
       Disappointed, and by now very thirsty, we follow the footpath along the River Wye back to where we crossed the bridge originally. An information sign tells us to watch out for water voles by the river’s edge but, look as we might, we don’t see anything except torrents of water and broken branches being swept along with the current. It’s been a long, wet winter and the Wye is wider and deeper than usual. 

       As we walk, my legs begin to buckle and my lungs are tightening with every step. Eventually, having crossed the bridge again, what was a gentle downhill ramble at the beginning of our walk now looms ominously into sight; the gorge is rising and the slope we first descended looks a lot, lot steeper going up!        
       “I’m just going to have to take it easy!” I announce as we start the ascent, yet Madam has no problem at all. She bounds ahead of me, her stride as strong and confident as ever. Talk about feeling my age! At least I can take more pics while her back’s turned!!

*Short Walks in the Peak Park by William and Vera Parker
Maps by Paul J Williamson

Published by Derbyshire Countryside Ltd. 1981

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Does being 'nice' get you anywhere?

       It all depends where you want to go.

       Columnist Liz Jones* believes niceness gets you nowhere, citing several unpleasant experiences she’s had of late with ungrateful and uncaring people. Sadly, the world’s like that. Not so much ‘do as you would be done by’ as ‘do others down before they do you!’

       Yet I firmly believe that true niceness gets results. My daughter (who despite being extremely nice is certainly no pushover), works for a building society and, as you can imagine, receives her fair share of complaints. Many customers are indignant and some are downright nasty, but is she phased by this abuse? Not on your life! The worse they are and the more they rant and rave about their overdraft/failed payment/interest rate or whatever, the calmer and more intractable my girl becomes until even the most determined plaintiff slams the phone down in defeat, exhausted and a good deal poorer!

       On the other hand, a customer who is apologetic for their error (in banking, the customer is rarely right!), is reasonable and nice gets 5-star treatment. In fact, my daughter will go out of her way to help them, even persuading the powers-that-be to reduce or drop any penalties.

       None of us are perfect, of course, and however hard I try to be a nice person, I’ve had my moments. Impatience, pride, anger, envy, resentment and sheer selfishness can influence us all at times, while the world we live in seems to foster such negative traits. No matter who or where we are, there will always be challenges from others and, when slighted, insulted or faced with aggression, it takes huge self-control not to retaliate, to keep one’s cool. To be nice.

       But does being nice, as Liz may argue, simply get you trampled on? It depends what you mean by nice. According to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘nice’ has 3 meanings: 1) ‘good natured, kind’ 2) ‘subtle, slight’ 3) ‘fastidious, scrupulous’.  For me, however, there can be no better description of all round niceness than Galatians 5:22 which lists the spiritual fruitage of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control." Far from being weak, such qualities can have a powerful and positive effect. 

       With so much violence, selfishness, haughtiness, pride and greed surrounding us, it may seem easier to follow the crowd, but please! don’t go that way! Don’t let this horrible world grind you into its mould. And don’t let anyone stop you being NICE!

The Book of Proverbs by King Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, highlights some nice benefits:  

“An answer when mild turns away rage”

“A mild tongue itself can break a bone”
“He that is slow to anger (patient) is better than a mighty man”

“All his spirit is what a stupid one lets out, but he that is wise keeps it calm to the last.”

“The one who is slow to anger has great discernment, but the impatient one displays his foolishness.

“The desirable thing in earthling man is his loving-kindness,” 

“The goodness of the righteous makes a city rejoice”

Saturday, 9 April 2016

A walk in the Peak - Eyam

       I’ve been meaning to write this post for a fair while now but, you know how it is……’time and unforeseen occurrence’, not to mention my addiction to online scrabble!
       Anyway, having been dragged away from the computer by a group of friends recently, I joined them for a walk in Eyam, a quaint little village in the heart of Derbyshire’s Hope Valley where I learned some fascinating facts for all you history buffs.    

       Eyam (pronounced E’em) has quite a history, dating back at least as far as the Romans who discovered a rich vein of lead in the area.  The village was recorded in the Domesday Book under its olde English name, Aium – and would have remained an attractive yet obscure hamlet but for a shocking, heartrending disaster 6 centuries later.

'Black Death' illustration courtesy of
       In 1665 the Bubonic Plague (aka Black Death), already raging in London, arrived in a bundle of cloth infested with fleas.  The first victim, the local tailor’s assistant George Vickers who took delivery, died within a week of contracting the disease that was already spreading like wildfire throughout the village. 
       Attempting to contain the infection, the village rector Reverend William Mompesson and Puritan minister Thomas Stanley, drew up an emergency plan of action, which called for supreme sacrifice from the residents.  Bodies were to be buried by their own families, church services were relocated to a natural amphitheatre in Cucklett Delph, and, most famously, the entire population agreed to be quarantined, cordoning themselves off in order to protect neighbouring communities. 
       For 14 months, the plague decimated the village, causing at least 260 deaths. The exact figure is unknown, although, according to one account, only 83 people survived out of a population of 350. 
       These survivors were later thought to have had exceptional immune systems, which according to one research programme, were passed down to their descendants...some of whom are thought to be resistant to HIV/AIDS!*
Rose Cottage, home of the Hawkesworth family

One of many plaques relating to plague victims
       Today, Eyam is a thriving tourist centre, populated mainly by well-heeled stalwarts of St Lawrence’s, the parish church. 

St Lawrence's Church, Eyam

       Architecturally and geographically, little has changed since the 17th century. Most of the buildings in the centre of the village have remained intact, frozen in time for curious visitors. 

       Even the stocks remain, ready to punish the drunk and disorderly!

      Our walk took us past Eyam Hall and the local Museum (sadly shut at the time!).....

.......through the village square with its dainty tea room, to the Miners Arms public house, which has quite a history of its own. (See Plaque) 

Miners Arms, Eyam

       From here, we strolled up a steep lane towards open country where we met a herd of llamas looking beautifully snug with their amazingly soft coats.....enough wool for a few hundred pashminas, no doubt!

The views were spectacular......  

View of Eyam
 ....with bags of stile!

Stile and signpost to Mompesson's Well

  ....although the going got tough occasionally!