News & Events

September 2021

Positively Pink & Creative Skill Share

I do hope that you have managed to avoid Covid and have enjoyed the rather unpredictable weather of the summer months. As I write, I hear about the rise in case numbers, especially in schools, and of the possibility, should case numbers continue to rise, of a short lockdown in October. I know that many of us will have still be feeling rather cautious about behaving as though Covid has disappeared from our midst, and I will certainly continue to wear a face mask, socially distance and cleanse my hands for some time to come and especially during the flu season, which will shortly be upon us.

HIGH JINKS - UP AND RUNNING AGAIN!

I am delighted to report that rehearsal workshops for our fabulous ukulele band High Jinks have now restarted and we can meet (socially distanced) every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month in the main hall of Cumnor Old School, 7.30­9.00pm. We look forward to honing our skills in the coming months and embracing the opportunity to play/sing at charity events as and when such gatherings open up again. Do come and meet us (with or without a ukulele) on October 13th and 27th.

DO YOU PLAY THE UKULELE A LITTLE OR A LOT?

Our High Jinks, our very own Cumnor based ukele band is looking for others to join in the joyous delights of this wee instrument.. We have lots of fun, once a fortnight, discovering new music and preparing for future performances at various charity events. It doesn't matter if your ukulele has been gathering dust for a while - most of ours have too. Why not give it a buff up and come along to give us a try? Contact me (details below) for more information.

NEWS OF POSITIVELY PINK

Sadly, our group's reopening will be delayed for a little while longer. There is still considerable uncertainty surrounding the future impact of the pandemic. We acknowledge the need for face to face contact especially through difficult times, but we also want to do our best to keep as safe as possible members

who are vulnerable, having current treatment or recovering from treatment for cancer. Please look after yourselves, contact me whenever you would like to and watch out for more news on our website.

CREATIVE SKILL SHARE

We will be gathering in the Old School main hall at a time and date to be advertised in the CPN in November. Ifyou have any ideas about what creative skill you would like to learn, or to share with others, or you would like to help the group in any way, please contact me (details below) and we will discuss the possibilities when we meet.

PINKY'S TEAROOM

The reopening of Pinky's Tearoom is proving to be a little more difficult to predict because of the increasing Covid numbers and the need for the utmost safety of visitors and staff I suspect we will have to wait until at least the first Wednesday in November to open the tearoom, 11.00am -l.30pm in the Old School kitchen. We will watch the progress of the virus very closely and let you all know more in next month's CPN. We very much look forward to the time when we can welcome you all once more for the opportunity to meet up with old and new friends, help raise money for Positively Pink our local breast cancer support and activities group and to enjoy your coffee shop specials plus homemade cake, soup, panini, salad etc. If you feel you might like to help us by making cakes, soup, serving in the tearoom or supporting us in any other way, we would love to hear from you (contact details below).

Due to the pandemic, we have not been able to plan a Cumnor Festival of Performing Arts for this year, but we do hope to hold some very special concerts later this year and look forward to holding a super duper festival next year.

Jean Pryce-Williams is a ukulele playing ex nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, aromatherapist, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to Positively Pink our local breast cancer support group, our Creative Skill Share group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com

July & August 2021

Positively Pink & Creative Skill Share

I suspect that post 'Freedom Day', many of us will still be feeling rather cautious about behaving as though Covid has disappeared from our midst to be confined to the annals of history as a dark and miserable blip. At the time of writing, I certainly continue to wear a face mask, socially distance and cleanse my hands, just as we were advised to do during lock­down. I very much enjoy being with other sensibly cautious friends and I remain keen to do all I canto keep us all safe and healthy during the flu season and colder winter months ahead. I am a gal who enjoys a jolly good knees up, but I am also hopeful that we should all enable each other to make it into a healthy 2022 full of social contact, conversation and fun times together.

Pottering in the garden has been a tad challenging during this ridiculously changeable summer weather, in which we have seen every conceivable extreme condition known to man and womankind... gales, floods and blistering heat, all within a 24 hour period! I take my hat off to all things in the natural world for managing to stay perky while all around is going bonkers! I look forward to giving a little of my time and energy to working with nature, rather than using my resources to throw spanners into the works of the natural order.

Perhaps you may be glad of a few more hints and tips on ways you may care for whatever garden space with which you are endowed, and save a bit of our planet without having to resort to buying new stuff or using harsh chemicals which can cause harm to you and the environment at large.

NO GREEHOUSE - NO WORRIES

To get your lovely seedlings off to a fabulous start without the benefit of a green house, encourage your teenagers (or any other teenagers who happen to be passing by) to sup up the last dregs of their tooth enamel etching soft drinks and then snatch (very gently of course) those plastic 1 or 2 litre bottles from under their noses.

Remove the labels and cut off the bottoms of the bottles. With these creations you can cocoon your darling seedling babies and offer them a peaceful micro greenhouse sanctuary away from all the frosts, rains and winds we have now come to associate with our good old British summer. Remove the 'greenhouses' once the seeds have germinated, the plants have had a chance to pop up with a little enthusiasm and the cuttings have rooted.

COFFEE FILTER SOIL BUNG

If your otherwise tranquil life is disturbed by the troublesome problem of soil escaping from the hole in the bottom of your flower pots every time you water them or move them around, tranquility can be once more within your grasp. You may have tried the age old tip of placing bits of broken crocks in the bottom of your pots (so where are these crocks when you need them?). When you have eventually managed to find such items, or robbed your driveway of small stones, eagerly sought because they do help to offer necessary drainage -alas, along with the drained water can come a mini avalanche of soil. Enter stage right - the tranquility savour extraordinaire - the humble used coffee filter. Yes, that soggy thing left over from your favourite brew.

Placing the filter inside your flower pot before putting in the soil will stop the leaky dry earth and wet muddiness problem and offer sufficient drainage until the plant has had time to develop a good root system and provide a muckiness strainer itself By which time, the filter will have biodegraded -result!

On the other hand, if you never filter coffee and are looking for another way to encourage your flower pots to drain considerately, cut up rugged chunks of old sponges (not the delicious Victoria variety) which you may have lurking around your home and place them at the bottom of the pots. The sponges retain moisture and create air space without allowing water to stagnate thus encouraging root rot to have a hey day.

DO YOU PLAY THE UKULELE?

High Jinks, our very own Cumnor based uke band is looking for others to join us as we recompense our rehearsals again this month. Sadly, we lost our lovely friend Tina Hodder this year. Tina was such an enthusiastic and gifted player whom we shall dearly miss, but we will meet keeping Tina close to our hearts once a fortnight in Cumnor when we will have lots of fun discovering new music and preparing for future performances at various charity events. It doesn't matter if your ukulele has been gathering dust for a while - most of ours have too. Why not come along and give us a try? Contact me (details below) for more information.

FEED YOU - FEED YOUR PANSIES

After preparing yourself a delicious meal with veggies, stop and contemplate for a moment before you pour the water in which they were boiled down the sink -cool it and water your plants with the nutrient filled elixir -they will love you for it.

CARDBOARD SEED TUBES

For an easy peasy way to start off seeds and enabling them to be planted into the garden without having to disturb their wee little roots, save your toilet paper and kitchen towel tubes. Cut them into approx 3 in. lengths, make a couple of cuts up one end of the tubes and fold together to form a bottom. Hold the said bottom together with paper tape and pop the upright tubes into a waterproof tray or tub. Fill the tubes with potting soil and introduce your seeds to their new mini residence. When the seedlings have grown a rooting system, move them (in the tubes) to their appointed place in the garden. Keep the tubes below the soil surface so that they do not evaporate moisture from the earth and roots. Instead of using the aforementioned 'waterproof tray or tub' in which to start off your seedlings, try using a clear plastic box as a mini greenhouse -on hot days, the lid can be propped open a little with a couple of sticks. These boxes are versatile and inexpensive and can have other applications off-season.

A POT WITHIN A POT - NO SO POTTY

If, like me, you find that you have committed to the ground plants that you imagined would look great in a certain spot in your garden, only to find that within weeks its shape, colour or height screams 'big mistake' from amidst its disapproving neigbours. You either ignore its pleas and try to turn your attention (and that of your visitors) to another part of your vast acres, or you go at it with an accusatory thrust of the spade, slicing mercilessly through its heroically achieved root system. I do apologise for this tale, which is most unsuitable for anyone of a nervous disposition, but it had to be said in order to attempt to save a plethora of plants from the same ghastly plight. You may be glad to hear that the solution to this scenario, played out in countless beds throughout the land, is the double pot. You simply need a bunch of pots of the same size, nest them one inside the other, plant your peripatetic plants in the double pots and bury them at ground level. Whenever you discover a tragic error of judgment or just fancy a change, you just lift out the top pot and put in a different one. This method is also helpful if you need to bring plants into somewhere snug for the winter, and it enables you to replace plants which have had their season with ones which are ready to enjoy their big moment.

We much look forward to reopening Pinky's Tearoom very again at 11am until 1.00pm on the first Wednesday of every month in Cumnor Old School. It will be great to welcome you all again and to offer you the opportunity to meet up with old and new friends while supporting the work of Positively Pink our local breast cancer group. You and your friends can enjoy your full range of coffee shop specials plus homemade cake, soup, panini, salad etc. Watch this space for more news in next month's issue.

Due to the pandemic, we are not planning a Cumnor Festival of Performing Arts for this year, but we do hope to hold some special concerts later this year and look forward to holding very a super duper festival next year.

Jean Pryce-Williams is a ukulele playing ex nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, aromatherapist, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest. For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to Positively Pink our local breast cancer support group, our Creative Skill Share group or helping in any way, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com

June 2021

Positively Pink & Creative Skill Share

After a fairly long spell of cool grey days, how lovely it is to have some warmth and sunshine to enjoy. The bonus to these more balmy days is that, at the time of writing, we can invite our family, friends and neighbours into our gardens to share some, much longed for, companionship and conversation. In my experience, not everything in the garden is rosy though... The weeds have shot up towards the sky as though they are all on anabolic steroids, any enthusiastic wild plant conservationist would be thrilled at the way every conceivable species of green thing (presumably caste out of some generous bird's digestive system) has made itself a cozy home between my patio pavers and the fence posts (guaranteed to withstand hurricanes for at least 15 years) are, after just 8 years of comparatively gentle puffs, being held semi erect only by the dogged determination of the bindweed. For fear of being found wanting in the garden maintenance department, I must hasten to add that mine is a garden which has been pretty regularly tended during both lockdowns... what if l had let it do its own thing? I would obviously have needed a machete to get a foot inside the gate!

Perhaps you are a person of exceptional aptitude for greenery titivation and you have not a single wayward blade of grass ­you remain completely at peace with the prospect of the close inspection of your horticultural prowess by friends and loved ones... Perhaps you have long ago laid your estate to a power­wash-only-once-a-year slab of concrete, which is impenetrable even to weeds equipped with hefty pneumatic drills. Whatever the case, you may be glad of the few hints and tips on ways you may care for whatever garden space with which you are endowed, without having to resort to using harsh chemicals which can cause you, Aunt Gladys, Little Johnny, Colin the cat and the environment at large -harm.

EPSOM SALTS (Magnesium Sulphate)

My Granny used to run for this remedy when her digestive tubing needed a good nudge, but a box of this stuff can work wonders in the garden too. It can be purchased inexpensively from chemists and health food shops.

Slugs will look for pastures new if you sprinkle some of the salts around their usual haunts.

Make your grass greener and brighter by adding 2 tablespoons to 4 litres of water. Drench the lawn, then repeat with just plain water to make sure the salts get to the roots.

Tomato plants and rose trees will thank you for adding a tablespoon of the salts to the can once a week when watering.

GARDEN HOSE

Earwigs who imagine a festival of feasting on your prize dahlias and other flowering lovelies can be cunningly lured by placing 30cm long pieces of old dry garden hose wherever the ravenous creatures lurk. Leave the hose there overnight and collect the crawlies filled tubes in the morning.

Young trees can be persuaded to grow straight if a length ofgarden hose is wrapped around the tree and a stake in a figure of eight and the ends secured with wire or a strong elastic band. The hose will not damage the tree as it grows and there will be sufficient movement for the tree to develop its own strength.

VINEGAR

To make a trap for those beasties who are making short work of munching their way through your fruit and veg: Fill a 2 litre soft drink bottle with 200g of sugar and 200ml of cider vinegar. Slice up into small pieces a banana skin, add 200ml of cold water and give the whole thing a jolly good shake. Tie a piece of string around the neck of the bottle and hang it from a low branch or place it securely on the ground. Replace with a new trap as necessary.

If, like me, you hanker after getting your flower seeds with large woody husks off to a flying start, lightly rub them between two sheets of fine sandpaper. Then soak them overnight in a solution of 1/2 litre of warm (not hot) water and 100ml of cider vinegar. Next morning, rinse the seeds and plant them. You can use the same solution (not the sandpaper) to speed up the germination of other (possibly smaller or softer) seeds.

Do a basic test for soil alkalinity by placing a small handful of earth in a container, adding 100ml of white vinegar. If the soil bubbles or fizzes, it is alkaline. To test for high acidity, mix the soil with 100ml of water and 100g of bicarbonate of soda. If the soil bubbles this time, it is acid. If you need a more precise pH level measurement for your particular plants, pick up a simple DIY testing kit from a garden centre.

If your acid-loving plants, such as azaleas and hydrangeas, suddenly have prematurely early yellowing leaves, it could be that there has been a drop in the plant's iron intake or the earth's pH level has risen above 5.0. Rectify either problem by watering around the plants once a week for three weeks with 200 mls of a solution made with 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and 1 litre of of water.

To treat diseases on your garden plants, such as black spot, powdery mildew and rust, add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 2 litres of water and spray the affected plants with the solution during a cool part of the day, until the condition is cured.

If you are not in the habit of thoroughly cleaning the blades on your lawn mower after use, grass can build up on the blades and form a lovely habitat for insects, maggots and other pests which can migrate to other areas of your shed or garage and lay in waiting ready to surprise you with broods of offspring and extended family. I know you probably will not feel inclined to attend to the mower after a long spell of trundling up and down your vast acres of estate, but a swift wipe down of the blades with a cloth dampened with undiluted white vinegar will thwart any creatures bent on holidaying in your shed as nonpaying guests.

SALT

Exterminate dandelions in your lawn by pouring a small tump of cooking salt in the centre of each plant. The lawn will look a tad strange for a few days, but the dandelions should soon be rotted right down to the roots. If you have trouble bending to achieve this task, any old rigid hollow tubing held upright can be used to direct salt which you can pour into the tube from the top with a jug. Salt can also be poured onto weeds that grow up between paving stones.

THIS AND THAT

As a vitamin and mineral feed for roses, bury crushed eggshells and banana skins near the roots.

Eggshells crushed finely and spread on the ground around vulnerable plants will also deter slugs. The slimy chaps are not too partial to coffee grounds either.

Instead of expensive chemical fertilisers, collect autumn leaves each year and place them in black bags, weigh the bags down with rocks or bricks, make several small holes in the bags with a garden fork and leave them until spring, when your fantastic free leaf mould will be ready to use.

Water roses in the morning, preferably before any hot sun can get to them, because the water drops can act like tiny magnifying glasses and scorch the foliage. If you water in the evening and you have heavy or clay soil, the water may not drain properly and the roots may rot.

When pruning roses, cut the stems at a 45 degree angle. Cutting them straight across can allow water droplets to stay put and can cause the plant to die back.

Do not throw away all those nettles that have taken over your garden during the great rains of May, lay them out to rot (preferably away from an open window or favourite seating spot), pop them in a bucket, cover for 2-3 weeks and pour the smelly, but fabulously beneficial concoction on the ground around your plants. It is especially good for tomatoes.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to open Pinky's Tearoom until the position regarding the Coronavirus becomes clearer, but we very much look forward to the time when we can welcome you all once more for the opportunity to meet up with old and new friends to enjoy your coffee shop specials plus homemade cake, soup, panini, salad etc.

DO YOU PLAY THE UKULELE?

High Jinks, our very own Cumnor based uke band is looking for others to join us as we recompense our rehearsals again after lockdown. We have lots of fun, once a fortnight, discovering new music and preparing for future performances at various charity events. It doesn't matter ifyour ukulele has been gathering dust for a while -most of ours have too. Why not come along and give us a try? Contact me (details below) for more information.

Due to the pandemic, we are not planning a Cumnor Festival of Performing Arts for this year, but we do hope to hold some very special concerts later this year and look forward to holding a super-duper festival next year.

Jean Pryce-Williams is a ukulele playing ex nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, aromatherapist, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to Positively Pink our local breast cancer support group, our Creative Skill Share group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com

May 2021

Positively Pink & Creative Skill Share

As I write, our Coronavirus restrictions are being lifted further with Boris Johnson declaring that friends and family members can meet up and hug again for the first time in a year. Although I am delighted that many of us can now enjoy the companionship and sharing we have much longed for, I am very much aware of the ongoing threat we face of new variants of the virus and the severe problems still experienced by many countries. We will need to continue, for quite some while to come, to do all that we can to keep ourselves and each other safe and well.

Continuing our theme from last month, I share here some further tips on how to make our home environment a little safer from some of the nasty chemical sprays, powders and compounds in other clever guises which promise to transform our homes into palaces of squeaky clean and gleaming delight. I suspect that most of our undersink cupboards are heaving with all manner of highly scented (or darn right smelly) products which undermine our health and fill our country's waterways with life defying nasties.

I share this page again this month with the Creative Skill Share group because, although at Positively Pink we are largely concerned with keeping ourselves as happy and healthy as possible during and after cancer treatment, we have no desire to keep good things under wraps. Perhaps we could all do a little more to support the physical health of ourselves, our families and our planet by replacing the use of chemical additive products which cause us harm with the more natural items found in our food cupboards? We will be surprised by how many pennies we save... and by the reduction of troublesome skin and respiratory complaints. So here are some more store cupboard goodies to help you to beat the grime and spread the love...

BANANAS

I know it sounds bonkers, but you can polish silverware and leather shoes/handbags, etc., with the inside of a banana skin. Just remove the loose stringy bits from the skin and rub it over the silver or leather. Buff up with a clean soft cloth and, as if by magic, the shine will be restored.

A similar method as above can be used to restore lustre to your dusty and dingy house plants (surely we all have one!). This is particularly useful when you know the giver of that Swiss cheese plant or Mother-in-Law's-Tongue which has been languishing all forlorn in the corner, is about to call round and you want to reassure him/her that its magnificence is truly cherished. Lovingly wipe down each leaf with the inside of the banana skin (perhaps you might also like to serenade the lovely greenery with uplifting melodies). Then, if necessary, very gently buff with a soft cloth.

Instead of using proprietary brands of face masks, mash a medium sized banana into a smooth paste, then apply it to your face and neck. Let it set for 10-20 mins, during which time, avoid looking out of the windows for fear of frightening the neighbours, then rinse it off with cold water. For a super luxurious face mask, mix your mashed banana with 50g plain yogurt and 1 tablespoon of runny honey. Rinse as before.

Bicarbonate of Soda

If, during lockdown, you have become a keen devotee of home grown or organically grown shop-bought vegetables, fruit or salad, it is wise to rid the fabulous products of the earth of those wee crawly, slithery creatures, their toilet remains and all those other little human digestive system challenges which thrive in soil. Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of cold water to which you have added 2-3 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda: then rinse under running cold water and dry. Alternatively, apply a small amount of bicarb onto a clean wet sponge or vegetable brush and lightly scrub. Rinse well.

To avoid trapping germs in the grooves of your splendid wooden chopping board, give it a timely scrub with paste made from 1 tablespoon each of bicarbonate of soda, salt and water. Rinse with hot water and dry thoroughly.

Most kitchen drains can be unclogged without the use of powerful chemicals. Simply pour in 200g of bicarbonate of soda swiftly followed by 200ml of hot vinegar (heat in microwave for approx 1 minute). Depending on the severity of the said clogging, leave the mixture to work from 10 mins to overnight, then flush through with plenty of hot water. If you know the drain is blocked with a rather less than attractive ball of fat, make the final flush through with boiling water.

You do not need to clutter up your bathroom with chemicals to clean your toilet. Just pour 250g of bicarbonate of soda into the toilet cistern once a month, let it stand overnight and flush a couple of times in the morning - this will clean both the cistern and the bowl. If necessary, you could also pour a few tablespoons of bicarb directly onto stains in the damp bowl, leave for a few minutes, then flush away.

Shower heads can harbour a multitude of dangerous bugs, so keep yours clean by covering it with a small plastic bag part filled with 50g bicarb and 200ml of vinegar. Loosely fasten the bag around the shower head using tape, a bag tie or rubber band, making sure that the head is fully in contact with the mixture. Leave for about 1 hour, remove the bag, rinse the head and run the shower to flush through any debris. Stand back to admire the clean and shiny results!

Top Tip

Bicarbonate of Soda does not last forever. You can tell if yours no longer warrants a place in your store cupboard by pouring half a teaspoon of it onto a plate, adding a few drops of vinegar or fresh lemon juice and seeing if it fizzes... if not, it's time to go and buy some more. A sealed box of bicarb is usually alright for 18 months, whereas a 6 month old opened box is living on borrowed time.

Tea

When the shoes/socks in your house (never yours of course) start to smell a tad unwholesome, put an end to whiffy feet by bathing the offending bodily parts in a daily tea bath. Make a lovely strong brew, cool and soak the trotters. Your household will breath freely once more.

To give your mirrors and windows a streak free sparkle, dampen a soft cloth in a 'strong brew, wipe it all over the surface of the glass and buff off with a soft dry cloth.

Freshly brewed tea is great for cleaning wooden furniture. Boil a couple of tea bags in a litre of water (adjust for the size of the item), let it cool. Dip a soft cloth in the tea, wring out any excess and wipe over the furniture. Buff dry with a clean soft cloth.

Some Words of Warning

Try the fabulous preparations above on a small inconspicuous area of your treasured possession before committing to the whole shebang. I have personally tried all of the tips mentioned and they have worked well for me, however I cannot guarantee that they will work for you on your items which will be made from a variety of different materials... Care is the watchword to bear in mind.

Update

Unfortunately, we will not be able to open Pinky's Tearoom until the position regarding the Coronavirus becomes clearer. We will have to wait until the government's easing of restrictions are tested. However, we are watching the situation closely and very much look forward to the time when we can welcome you all once more for the opportunity to meet up with old and new friends to enjoy your coffee shop specials plus homemade cake, soup, panini, salad etc.

Due to the pandemic, we are not planning a Cumnor Festival of Performing Arts for this year, but we do hope to host some very special concerts later this year and look forward to holding a super-duper festival next year. If you, or anyone you know might like to perform next year, please feel free to contact me.

Jean Pryce-Williams is an ex nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, aromatherapist, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to Positively Pink our local breast cancer support group, our Creative Skill Share group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com

April 2021

Positively Pink & Creative Skill Share

As I write, our Coronavirus restrictions are being lifted tentatively and I sincerely hope that we will soon be able to meet up with some of our friends and relatives for much longed-for companionship and sharing. Having said that, I am very much aware that we will need to continue, for quite some while to come, to do all that we can to keep ourselves and each other safe and well.

Looking from a slightly different angle at our efforts to care for ourselves, I have been considering how to make our home environment a little safer from some of the nasty chemicals with which, in an effort to keep our abodes reasonable fresh and sparkly, we bombard ourselves. I know how easy it is to reach for the bottle or spray can of that magical substance which promises to make your sink/oven/windows/plug hole/ work surfaces, etc., so clean and gleaming that you will swiftly become the envy of your neighbourhood and all who survey. Added to which temptation is the promise that you will raise yourself to the great heights as one who is worthy of accolades for battling with grim and grease so triumphantly that you manage to 'kill 99% of all known germs".

Although we at Positively Pink are concerned about keeping ourselves as well as possible after cancer treatments, I believe it is certainly worth considering cutting down on household use of chemical packed cleaning products and turning to other items such as salt, toothpaste, vinegar and lemons, etc., which most of us have lurking in our store cupboards. Apart from the fairly obvious benefits of reducing our exposure to nasties such as poor health inducing parabens and other chemical additives used by many cleaning product manufacturers, we can all be a whole lot kinder to ourselves and our planet too. Over the next couple of months or so, I hope to share with you on this, and our Creative Skill Share page, some ways to beat the grime and spread the love...

Lemons

Banish all those unsightly mineral deposits on chrome taps and other tarnished chrome by rubbing it with lemon rind. Rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.

Beat those tough stains on marble (only the genuine article). Cut a lemon in half, dip exposed flesh (not yours - the lemon's) and dip into some table salt, rub on the stain and rinse off Marble is petrified calcium (probably from the remains of seashells) which is porous - hence its ability to stain easily.

Brighten your lack lustre aluminium pans with a quick rub with half a lemon and a judicious buff up.

Make your tarnished brass, copper or stainless steel gleam. Make a paste with lemon juice and salt (or replace salt with bicarbonate of soda), coat the area and leave for 5 mins, wash in warm water, rinse and polish dry. The same mixture can also be used on metal sinks. Apply the paste, rub gently and rinse.

Remove those rather less than attractive hardened bits of various meals which have erupted in your microwave by mixing 3 tablespoons of lemon juice with 300ml of water in a microwave proof bowl. Microwave on 'high' for 5-10 mins until the steam condenses on its inside walls, roof and door, then just wipe away those happy take-away food bits memories with a dishcloth.

Toothpaste (Non-Gel)

Clean off the sticky residue on your iron's soleplate, left behind by the over enthusiastic pressing of your finest garment (in my experience, it's more likely to belong to your partner), by applying toothpaste when the iron is unplugged and cool. Avoid getting water on the electrical components. Rub with a rag and carefully rinse clean.

Spruce up grubby piano keys (real ivory or plastic), by brushing with an old toothbrush and toothpaste. Then wipe them with a damp cloth.

Remove scuffs from leather shoes or handbags. Squirt a small amount on the scuffed area and rub with a soft cloth. Then wipe off with a damp cloth and polish in the usual way.

Prevent steamed up mirrors and goggles/visors by coating them with toothpaste and wiping off. Do not use on spectacles with special coating.

When your lovely guests insist on ignoring the coasters you have strategically placed on your splendid wooden furniture, remove the tell-tale water marks by very gently rubbing a little toothpaste onto the area with a soft cloth. Then wipe it off with a damp cloth and, when completely dry, apply some environmentally kind furniture wax.

Salt

Remove the residue left behind in a vase after your lovely flowers have met up with the other contents of your recycling bin. If you can reach inside the vase, rub the offending deposits with salt, then wash with soapy water. If the neck of the vase is too narrow for your digits, place some uncooked rice (a couple of inches deep) inside the vase, top up to about half-way up with a strong salt solution and give the vase a good shake. The rice/salt combination should leave the vase sparkling clean. Remember to use a strainer when emptying the water ... otherwise your next problem will be a bunged-up plug hole!

Avert a red wine stain on carpet disaster by pouring a little left over white wine (should you be disciplined enough to have any left over, or second-best mineral water) over the area while still wet - this will dilute the colour. When the red colour has disappeared, soak up as much of the fluid as you can with paper towel and then clean the spot with a sponge and cold water. Sprinkle the area liberally with salt, wait for it to dry and then hoover up the residue.

Stop oven spills from hardening. Next time your culinary masterpiece flows over onto the oven floor, throw some salt onto the drips while still fluid. When the oven cools, simply wipe up the spill with a cloth. The same technique also works for overflow situations on the hob.

Clean off lipstick marks from glassware. Lipstick manufacturers work tirelessly to ensure that their lipstick stays attached to our lips, even in some of the most severe conditions we encounter. Therefore, it is no wonder that the resilient stuff stays stubbornly glued to our finest glasses, even if we do risk subjecting them to the extreme glassware sport of dishwasher survival. Before washing, simply rub the edges with salt.

Erase tea and coffee stains from cups by mixing white vinegar with salt in equal proportions and rubbing with a sponge.

Vinegar

Burnish that favourite pair of scissors that one of your darling loved ones has used to cut sticky things. Don't use water to wash them - the rivets may rust. Instead wipe them down with a rag soaked in full strength vinegar and dry off with a rag or towel.

Conceal light scratches on furniture, mix some distilled or cider vinegar and iodine (from the chemist) in a small jar and paint over the scratch with a small artist's brush. Use more iodine for darker woods and less for lighter woods. Leave to dry and apply environmentally kind polish.

Add 3-4 tablespoons of white vinegar to a large bottle of washing up liquid. This will increase its grease busting capabilities and enable you to use less of the liquid.

Some Words Of Warning

Wear protective gloves and try the fabulous preparations above on a small inconspicuous area of your treasured possession before committing to the whole shebang. I have personally tried all of the tips mentioned and they have worked well for me, however I cannot guarantee that they will work for you on your items which will be made from a variety of different materials... Care is the watchword to bear in mind.

Update

Unfortunately, we will not be able to open Pinky's Tearoom until the position regarding the Coronavirus becomes clearer, but we very much look forward to the time when we can welcome you all once more for the opportunity to meet up with old and new friends to enjoy your coffee shop specials, plus homemade cake, soup, panini, salad, etc.

Due to the pandemic, we are not planning a Cumnor Festival of Performing Arts for this year, but we do hope to hold some very special concerts later this year and look forward to holding a super-duper festival next year.

Jean Pryce-Williams is an ex-nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, aromatherapist, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to Positively Pink our local breast cancer support group, our Creative Skill Share group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email.· positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com

March 2021

Sue Oliver, Professional Head of Mammography, and Dr Davina Deniszczyc, Medical Director at Nuffield Health, have written a thorough guide (below) to checking your breasts for any unusual aspects. It is a great, possibly lifesaving, idea that we gals should aim to do at least once a month. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with almost 50,000 women diagnosed each year and around 11,500 resulting deaths.Thankfully, due to advances in medicine and greater awareness, more women than ever are surviving this. As with all cancers, the earlier it is diagnosed, the less likely it is to spread and the more chance you have of quickly getting back to living the life you love. Breast cancer can occur at any stage in a woman's life cycle, so it is important that whatever age you are, you check your breasts regularly to monitor any changes.

What should you look for?

We have looked at general cancer signs and symptoms before, but this time I think it is important to focus on breast cancer. It is not just lumps that you should be checking for. There are several other important indicators of breast cancer. Get in touch with your doctor if you notice one or any combination of the following changes in your breast:

  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin

  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling

  • A nipple that has changed position

  • An inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)

  • Clear or bloody fluid leaking from the nipple

How to perform a breast check

Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders level and your hands on your hips.

Here's what you should see:

  • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and colour

  • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling

But if you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor's attention:

  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin

  • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)

  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling

Look again at your breasts with your arms raised above your head and look for the same changes.

Now, lean forward and look for any dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin.

While you are at the mirror, look for any signs of discharge coming out of one or both nipples ( this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).

Next, examine your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first three finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Make a circular motion, about the size of a 2p coin. Check the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from armpit to cleavage.

Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; for tissue in the middle of your breasts use medium pressure and for the deep tissue in the back use firmer, but not uncomfortable, pressure.

Many women find that the easiest way to examine their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, as in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements as before.

What should I do if I find changes in my breasts? Don't panic, most lumps found will be completely normal. All breasts feel different and are naturally lumpy. But if you do find changes, contact your doctor who will listen to your concerns and perform an examination. Please remember that you have the right to request a female doctor to perform the examination or to have a female nurse present. Stay safe and well...

For a chat, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com See our website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk

February 2021

During this pandemic, it has been so important to find ways of helping our bodies and minds to stay reasonably fit and active. During lock down and other mobility restricted times, so many of us have felt the build up of stress and anxiety which hinders restful sleep and brings about a multitude of stress related ailments. This is why I have decided to take a look at a stress busting therapy that has really come to the fore in recent months - aromatherapy. This is quite a vast topic of which I can only scratch the surface in this article. I have this month combined my usual pages for Positively Pink and Creative Skill Share in order that I can offer you a glimpse of the basic understanding of the topic in relation to stress management. If you are already knowledgeable of the subject, perhaps a look at some of the references below may help further expand your knowledge. I know that several of you members of our Creative Skill Share groups already enjoy making scented candles and toiletry products and this may whet the appetite for incorporating essential oils into your lovely creations.


Aromatherapy (A)

Aromatherapy products, once thought as somewhat exotic, have now even sprung up on the shelves of our supermarkets. Aromatherapy candles, bath products, essential oils, and other fabulously scented items (although to be honest, some can smell distinctly less than fabulous) are now widely available and have been heralded as effective in many health-giving ways including as an aid for soothing babies, relieving stress and

promoting a sense of well-being. These claims may indeed be true, but as with any product which can have an effect on our bodies, for good or otherwise, it is wise to research for yourself whether or not it is safe and lives up to the claims being made.


Although the use of aromatic plants appears to be as old as civilisation itself, with many texts from ancient Egypt to Asia and a large part of the Mediterranean area describing various processes involving the making and use of healing ointments and oils, poultices, healing perfumes and religious ceremony preparations made from plants. During recent years, a fair amount of research has been done to evaluate aromatherapy's

benefits, but there will always be room for study. Here are some of the findings to date:


Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy - something that can be considered for use alongside medical treatment, but certainly not instead of it. Essential oils are highly concentrated essences made from flowers, leaves, roots, peel, resin, seeds and bark of some plants.


One of today's most popular essential oils for aromatherapy - lavender has been shown to reduce some distress in infants and promote sleep in both infants and adults.[1] It can also alter brainwaves and behaviour.[2] Aromatherapy can reduce the perception of stress, increase contentment, and decrease levels of cortisol, the "stress hormone".[3] Some studies have shown that aromatherapy massage can have some beneficial effects

on anxiety and depression.[4] Massage with aromatherapy provides stronger and more continuous relief from fatigue especially mental fatigue-than massage alone.[5] Aromatherapy combined with massage carries greater benefits than either strategy by itself.[6] It can enhance the relaxation benefits of meditation, (as with incense prayer and meditation). Even a five-minute prayer and meditation session can offer the passive stress relief benefits when combined with aromatherapy.[7] Not all aromatherapy scents bring about the same effects on people. Individual scents have their own unique qualities, so it is important to choose with care the ones we use.


While aromatherapy is not the magic 'cure-all' that it is sometimes purported to be, it does at the very least appear to have proven effects as a stress reliever. As I have said, it can be used with massage, but also in a more passive way by filling your room with the scent from a essence scented candle or aromatherapy diffuser (to avoid a towering inferno, battery operated diffusers are probably preferable).


I would like to stress at this point that because there are many products on the market made from synthetics and a plethora of chemical additives, it is so important to use good quality products, which have genuine essential oil ingredients, from a reputable supplier.


Article A Sources:

1 Vaziri F, Khosropoor M, Hidari M, Pourahmad S, Morshed Behbahani B, Saki F. The Effect of Aromatherapy by Lavender Oil on Infant Vaccination Pain: A Double Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. J Caring Sci. 2019;8(1):17-21. doi:10.15171/jcs.2019.003


2 Sowndhararajan K, Kim S. Influence of Fragrances on Human Psychophysiological Activity: With Special Reference to Human Electroencephalographic Response. Sci Pharm. 2016;84( 4):724-751. doi:10.3390/scipharm84040724


3 Hosseini S, Heydari A, Vakili M, Moghadam S, Tazyky S. Effect of lavender essence inhalation on the level of anxiety and blood cortisol in candidates for open-heart surgery. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016;21(4):397-401. doi:10.4103/1735-9066.185582


4 Babakhanian M, Ghazanfarpour M, Kargarfard L, et al. Effect of Aromatherapy on the Treatment of Psychological Symptoms in Postmenopausal and Elderly Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.] Menopausal Med. 2018;24(2):127-132. doi:10.6118/jmm.2018.24.2.127


5 Gok Metin Z, Ozdemir L. The Effects of Aromatherapy Massage and Reflexology on Pain and Fatigue in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pain Manag Nurs. 2016;17(2):140-149. doi:10.1016/j.pmn.2016.01.004


6 Lakhan SE, Sheafer H, Tepper D. The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pain Res Treat. 2016;2016:8158693. doi:10.1155/2016/8158693


7 Soto-Vasquez MR, Alvarado-Garcia PA. Aromatherapy with two essential oils from Satureja genre and mindfulness meditation to reduce anxiety in humans. J Tradit Complement Med. 2017;7(1):121-125. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.06.003

Oils for Relaxation (B)

Although aromatherapy oils are 'natural' products, they are very potent and if used incorrectly can be toxic, so please be sure to consult a pharmacist or well qualified aromatherapist to gain a thorough understanding of how to use powerful essential oils safely. Studies have shown that not all scents are created equal, nor do they affect human physiology and behaviour in the same ways. [2]


Lavender

Lavender is associated with feelings of contentment, improved cognitive performance and mood. It has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and it has other mild sedative and calming effects.[4] It can help soothe babies and new mothers alike and promote positive mother-infant interactions. This oil is often used to promote sleep in infants and deep a deeper than usual sleep in adults. It can be a great choice for anyone trying to relax at bedtime or feel more calm and relaxed during the day. A real essential oil based lavender sachet next to your bed or diluted oil sprayed on a tissue and placed in your pillow case can do wonders for relieving stress and help you unwind from your day. [1]


Rosemary

Rosemary is associated with feelings of contentment. It has been shown to have positive effects on performance and mood.[3] Rosemary has also demonstrated the ability to reduce cortisol levels.[4] This means that rosemary aromatherapy can be a good choice for de-stressing during the day when there is still work to be done.


Peppermint

Peppermint aromatherapy has been found to aid memory and alertness.[5] It can provide a great pick-me-up for overly busy, tired and stressed adults and students in today's frenetic world.


Ylang-Ylang

Ylang-ylang has actually been found to decrease alertness and slightly lengthen processing speed. It can promote calmness and reduce stress, making it a good option for unwinding and destressing at the end of a long day.


Lemon

Some research has shown that lemon oil may possess antidepressant-type effects. It is also a good choice for stress relief and mood enhancement.[7]


It is important that most essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil, generally 1-3% essence to oil (such as apricot kernel, sweet almond, grapeseed, sesame,jojoba, or avocado oil) but NOT water.


Possible Side Effects

Certain essential oils may not always be appropriate for everyone; therefore, if you are pregnant or have: epilepsy, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sensitive skin, allergies or some types of cancer seek advice from your GP or other primary health care provider so that you can be ensured that your condition is accurately diagnosed and that you may first receive any conventional treatments you may need.


As a general rule, essential oils should not be ingested because some are inherently poisonous. Great care should be taken when applying some oils to the skin. It is important to do a small skin patch test on a more tender part of your skin (ie the inside of the forearm), before using any new essential oil.


Although there is much to be considered when thinking of using essential oils, under proper guidance, there are a great many benefits to be gained and enjoyed from inviting these age old well-being boosters into your life.


N.B. The information contained in this article should not be taken as a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using complimentary medicine or making a change to your normal regime.


Please see the very helpful National Association far Holistic Aromatherapy Safety information page for further guidance.


Article B Sources:

1 National Cancer Institute. Aromatherapy With Essential Oils (PDQ® )-Health Professional Version. Updated October 25, 2019.


2 Sowndhararajan K, Kim S. Influence of Fragrances on Human Psychophysiological Activity: With Special Reference to Human Electroencephalographic Response. Sci Pharm. 2016;84( 4):724-751. doi:10.3390/scipharm84040724


3 Sayorwan W, Ruangrungsi N, Piriyapunyporn T, Hongratanaworakit T, Kotchabhakdi N, Siripornpanich V. Effects oflnhaled Rosemary Oil on Subjective Feelings and Activities of the Nervous System. Sci Pharm. 2013;81(2):531-542. doi:10.3797/scipharm.1209-05


4 Boehm K, Bussing A, Ostermann T Aromatherapy as an Adjuvant Treatment in Cancer Care--A Descriptive Systematic Review. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2012;9( 4):503-518.doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v9i4.7


5 Meamarbashi A. Instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014;4(1):72-78.


6 Tan LT, Lee LH, Yin WF, et al. Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, and Bioactivities of Cananga odorata (Ylang-Ylang). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:896314. doi:10.1155/2015/896314


7 de Sousa DP, Silva RHN, Silva EFD, Gavioli EC. Essential Oils and Their Constituents: An Alternative Source for Novel Antidepressants. Molecules. 2017;22(8):1290. doi:10.3390/molecules22081290


Jean Pryce-Williams is an ex-nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, aromatherapist, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.


For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or Creative Skill Share groups, or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email:

positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com


See our website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk

January 2021

I sincerely hope that this year offers us all a much healthier, happier experience than 2021. With the restrictions we are necessarily under, and the pressure the NHS is facing, it could be very tempting to delay seeking medical advice for non Covid related ailments until the virus activity has reduced somewhat. However, amidst all the pandemic news with which we are bombarded every day, there is still woven a clear message from medical advisers that the NHS is still very much 'open for business' for all our illnesses, and especially our life threatening events such as heart attacks, strokes and cancer. So, may I take this opportunity to strongly encourage anyone who becomes aware of any new lumps or bumps, pain, weakness, slurring of speech, numbness, bleeding, breathlessness or unusual discharge to seek medical help immediately. The causes of these signs and symptoms may be something trivial, but they could also be warnings of something much more serious which needs prompt attention. The NHS, even in these challenging times, is very much there for you, so please do get any such new concerns checked out speedily.

We at Positively Pink exist primarily to offer support to people who have experienced, or are currently being treated for, breast cancer, but we also care deeply about anyone with cancer of any type. At this time, when it is so important to look after ourselves well, I offer a short list of simple ways to aid our self-help efforts:

Catch some rays (in moderation) or pop a supplement.|
Many studies have found that the 'sunshine vitamin' Vitamin D can reduce the risk of some cancers and improve our bone health. It is also important during the times of the pandemic and some studies have suggested that many people who suffer badly from the virus have low levels of the vitamin in their systems. I must add that it is not clear whether such people had low levels before they caught the virus or their levels were made low by Covid 19. Regular exercise is also so important and so receiving· our boost of vitamin D from sunshine is probably the healthiest, happiest combination. However, research suggests that taking a supplement of 400-800 IU, under medical supervision, is recommended for most of us, especially in the winter. As always, I must reiterate that if you plan to change your exercise or vitamin taking regime, it is important to talk it through with your doctor.

Follow an antioxidant rich diet. The link between cancer and nutrition is so powerful that there is a peer reviewed medical journal called 'Nutrition and Cancer' which is devoted to that topic. Some highly recommended foods/drink which may be easily incorporated into everyday diets:

Ordinary tea or green tea contains powerful antioxidants which help to protect our cells from oxidative damage - harmful changes due to free radicals and other substances produced in cell metabolism that can lead to cells becoming cancerous.

Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries and apples are all packed with antioxidants, as are tomatoes (and these red beauties pack an even more powerful punch against cancer if cooked).

Cold pressed olive oil. This wonderful oil is best consumed cold, possibly in dressings, because high heat can alter its qualities. For some time, it has been understood that regular consumption of olive oil, as in the Mediterranean diet, can cut cancer incidences.

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage are a must in your veg basket. Garlic and onions contain the compound organosulphur which can be fantastic at influencing enzymes to detoxify carcinogens. This compound is also clever at supporting the immune system and scavenging free radicals in the blood stream. It is recommended that we consume garlic and onions in some form every day... I suspect we would all be a little more relaxed about doing this if we knew all our friends were doing so too, especially the ones we may like to kiss when the pandemic is over! Perhaps you would like to join me in a Cumnor Parish 'Garlic rules ok' campaign to encourage kissable friends to join in?

Jean Pryce-Williams is an ex-nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com Website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk.