Tweaking toes

Reflexology

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Have you experienced it yet? Or maybe you’re one of the sceptics?  I’ve met some who spoke of pains and varying levels of discomfort in their bodies and then I referred them to my reflexologist Yvonne Owen and they were converted!

The thing is that most of us suffer with differing pains as we get older – usually a result of poor posture, stress, lack of sleep or disturbed sleep – babies, children, snoring (our own as well as a partner’s!) etc – and these can all lead to pain – the aches aren’t necessarily the cause of the problem. For a while we might just live with it and accept it, but sometimes it gets bad enough to seek expert help. If we looked after our bodies more – had a maintenance plan like we do for our cars and boilers, some of the problems could be avoided.

Reflexology is a complementary therapy and well established holistic therapy treating both the mind and the body – improving our well-being as well as dealing with specific body related issues. It’s based on the principle that the body is represented on our feet by a ‘map’ of points. A therapist will apply pressure to the feet and toes which often stimulates a response in the corresponding part of our body.

Yvonne often sees people for treatment when they’re at a low point and will spend a number of sessions getting them back on their feet – no pun intended! And then through regular sessions, she can ensure they maintain their good health and manage their lives more comfortably. She can see clients weekly, fortnightly or monthly as their conditions improve and they are able to deal with their lives more easily.

Her treatment room offers the perfect surrounding for a relaxing session. It’s a dedicated space as well as a time to just focus on yourself and she offers a holistic approach – whilst concentrating on the problems her clients tell her about, she is also able to identify additional issues through her extensive knowledge of feet and the parts of the body that each area of the foot relates to – and through manipulation, massage and specific attention, she is able to assist by releasing knots and reducing pain.

 Treatment room...

Treatment room...

The history of reflexology is extensive and detailed, there is a lot of information for practitioners to learn, retain and perfect their techniques – Yvonne has done all of this and more, she offers space to her clients to talk freely and I am sure would be considered more than purely a reflexologist to many of them.

Her website details are below - I can thoroughly recommend her and look forward to my visits.  Find out more about the range of treatments she offers here http://www.yvonneowen.co.uk

Clandon Wood - Nature Reserve

A couple of weeks ago I made a visit to Clandon Wood Nature Reserve – since hearing about it, my interest was piqued so I was keen to find a convenient time to visit and find out more.  It really is a wonderful place to celebrate life and death – a beautiful nature reserve and a natural burial ground.

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A carefully managed and nurtured nature reserve which offers natural burials seems like a really sensible use of our precious countryside. It’s definitely a vision of how I’d like the future to be. A return to simplicity – no frills or unnecessary extras. The two ponds offer themselves as home to a number of ducks and are full of life throughout the year.

 

When I think about it, it seems perfectly congruent and makes total sense – life ending and life beginning in the same space. I love the peace and quiet – the open space bursting with life: butterflies, birds, wildflowers, rabbits; the list goes on. Infinite skies with regular rainbows, and tranquillity – the openness offering space to breathe and just be still. It’s a wonderful place to remember a loved one, and is equally an enjoyable place to visit in its own right.

 

When the hedgerows and meadows have fully grown and all the wildflower seeds have flowered, the space will change again and attract even more wildlife than it does during the winter. There’s a list by the office of all the birds and rare butterflies that the team have seen – as well as the more common rabbits and more familiar birds – there are some unusual sightings.

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Ecofriendly, open, accessible – offering an affordable and natural resting place. I know that’s where I want to be both while I’m alive and afterwards. Surrounded by life in a peaceful way.

Presenting a dream property

An excellent photograph can really help to sell a property – it will catch someone’s eye and tempt them further, to go and view it for themselves, and then in an ideal world, make an offer to buy it! By the same token, a bad photo will have the viewer flick past and not click the link to see more.

 

Taking property photos is always a great way to spend my time – especially when I get to see a refurbished property before and after it’s finished – or a complete build, from the muddy space and pile of bricks, to a home which is ready to go on the market.  Seeing the final product with all the finishing touches, ready to tempt the buyers, is very exciting. This particular property was a conversion to an HMO – each room was different and the high standard and style was maintained throughout.

 

Regular houses and flats, both resales and lets are also really interesting to photograph – they are windows onto the ever changing fashions and lifestyles; showing how ideas and styles develop over the years. Some houses appear firmly fixed in a particular decade, waiting to pulled into the 21st century, or potentially enjoyed as ‘vintage’ – whatever the current trend dictates.

 

And yes, tidying up, moving things and straightening curtains is all part of the role of a property photographer!

 A beautiful renovated home

A beautiful renovated home

Inspiration for a day photographing Highgate Cemetery came from reading a ghost story

Death. As cramped and overcrowded as our big cities seem to be in life! A visit to Highgate Cemetery showed me quite clearly that the Victorians didn’t have much respect for the dead. They must have literally trampled over graves to dig more graves and bury the next bodies.

 

Well lived lives are evident with much loved messages, inscriptions and epitaphs – I wonder, did these people know during their lives how much they were loved?

 

Life in the cemetery is vibrant, birdsong from robins and blackbirds, families of blue tits, wrens and pigeons, as well as the occasional parakeet, filled the quiet air. There were foxes, bright orangey red, healthy looking animals running between the tumbled gravestones, pushed out of place by tree roots, creating holes and homes for the local four legged residents.

 

It was peaceful but not sad. There were occasional cold spots even in the sunshine.  January was obviously a chilly time to visit, but it also meant less visitors, so there was plenty of space on the footpaths to wander and take in the atmosphere. A very creepy atmosphere that was created in Audrey Ziffernegger’s book, Her Fearful Symmetry, and the reason that I have wanted to visit ever since I finished reading it. Described as a horror novel, I remember it more as a ghost story and the haunted feeling stayed with me for years after I’d closed the book.

 

One thing that struck me was the range of names, from the very splendid ‘Hercules Belville’ (film producer) to the more unusual ‘Fanny Cow’. There are also a disproportionately high number of  Susannah’s – when I was growing up there was very little in the way of ready made things with my name on them. It seems that had I lived a century ago, mine would have been a much more popular name!

 

The site is divided into the East and West cemetery, the East is accessible to all for a very small entrance fee, which includes a useful map, and the West offers guided tours – simply because the ground levels are more varied and that’s where the more ornate and grand graves and mausoleums are.

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Covering 19 acres, the graves and surrounding areas are maintained by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery and they ensure the headstones and monuments remain safe.

 

Lion, the lifesize replica of Thomas Sayers (bare knuckle fighter 1826-1865) is one of the many animals in the graveyard, there are also a horse, a lion called Nero and an eagle.

 

The Egyptian Avenue was built at a time when the interest in Ancient Egypt was still high, so the association with this style of architecture and memorials for the dead was a natural one. The tour takes you through the various paths and past the Terrace Catacombs and Lebanon Circle.

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Even as it was built, Highgate Cemetery was meant to be a tourist attraction – people came and read the epitaphs to improve themselves – conservation is ongoing to ensure that we will be able to read the engravings for as many years to come as possible. Highgate Cemetery is a charity and is run as a not for profit organisation – there is still space for new burials and there isn’t any residency requirement, although certain conditions apply. Take a wander round, the tours are informative and the variety of headstones are really interesting. There are some in private spaces, George Michael for example, where you’re not allowed to visit, but the piano (Harry Thornton), bookcase (Jeremy Beadle), Karl Marx (original grave and new huge memorial head) and ‘DEAD’ (Patrick Caulfield) are all easily accessible, along with plenty of weeping angels (Doctor Who style) and sculptures of children (Beryl Bainbridge and Anna Mahler).

 

It’s a really memorable place to visit, wrap up warm and enjoy the peace. There is something very life affirming about being surrounded by the dead. It reminds us that life is limited and precious.