Researching a family

A couple of newspaper articles that hit our national news that concern me….

Mitochondrial transfer is controversial because the healthy donor DNA is inserted into IVF embryos. That means the genetic material is not only carried by the child that grows from the embryo, but is passed down the female line to all future generations. So far there is no evidence that the procedure is dangerous, but unknown side-effects could emerge and affect all of the generations that carry the donor DNA. (The Guardian)

Despite the discontent, many scientists are backing the procedure saying it will offer hope for women who have no other chance of a healthy family. (The Telegraph)

My response is:

1) Unknown side effects – dont you think they should be explored and the worst case scenario understood before a vote is taken to proceed with making this legal?

2) There is another, more ethical, chance of a healthy family – adoption. Since Autumn last year, over 8000 children in the UK are waiting to be adopted (

So this is what I emailed my local MP…..

Having seen recent news headlines regarding a vote to change the Embryology Act in a bid to defeat mitochondria, I share concerns outlined by Fiona Bruce MP regarding the safety of such a procedure and any unknown side effects. I would be very wary of voting for a procedure that isn’t 100% safe and I would argue that more needs to be done so that a vote can be taken that is better informed on safety.

On the broader issue of family planning, I would like to know what the Government is doing to speed up the process for adoption. It is a shame that adoption figures were higher in the 70s than they are today, resulting in more children being brought up in care. I believe more should be done to promote adoption as an alternative to costly IVF treatments and the legal minefield of surrogacy through publicity on adoption success stories, the numbers of children currently waiting for a loving family and the support that exists for families wishing to take this life-changing step.
This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.


Apologies for being wrapped up in my own troubles at the moment but there doesnt seem to be any let up.

After being bucked off from a great height by a horse yesterday, my dog came off worse in a fight with another dog at least 6 times her size. It was her fault for picking the fight in the first place (she is a Jack Russell so believes she can take on any thing – in this case a pointer) but nethertheless, you start to worry when you see her being flung in the air from the jaws of another dog and blood.

At home, myself and my husband are co-existing in misery and playing the waiting game as to who is going to mentally break first.

My right arm is not faring well post-buck and I am finding it difficult to lift above my waist.

It would all be slightly more bearable if the sun was shining but a grey January day seems to be adding to the blues.

Then there is the great idea of having a dry January…..

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.


An email to my Mum in Spain…..

It is still hideous at home, when he finally said he wanted a talk last night (I attempted on Sunday but he didnt want to talk as Top Gear was on!) he just started going on about finances, incomings and outgoings, like everything was to do with that. I said something had to change but he doesnt think me going back to work will be any better and he still doesnt realise why I was so upset about my birthday and moans at me for ‘keeping going on about it’. I just wont be happy until a line has been drawn under it and he has to draw that line. Earlier I started to panic that the panto was going to finish late and that Rich would be angry when we got home and sure enough he was. He called me a prat for being late, when I had busted a gut to ensure she had a nice day and he hadnt even bought the card. When he got home earlier I saw him scan the house with a face like thunder as toys were scattered everywhere and the children were prancing round the house and I found myself frantically tidying up. I realised that I have been going through this routine every day but it is only now I have stood back and seen what is actually happening. Which would explain why I physically tense up when he gets back home from work. I dont think he sees that he is doing this.
Earlier today I was riding a horse and he bucked me off – (dont panic he is a nice horse but was resisting to doing work as he is a bit nappy – so I applied a strong leg which pressed his buck button). I thought I would be able to sit to it, but once I was too far up his neck that was it I knew I was going to hit the deck. I walloped the back of my head and had to take a painkiller to ease off the ache (thank god my hat was on – though will probably need to get a new one now). I got straight back on and he was as good as gold but at least I know what button NOT to press! The reason why I mention it is I feel our marriage is going the same way and am I delaying the inevitable by clinging on to the neck. My husband has a similar button and I am growing tired of avoiding it. Not looking forward to the fall……
This blog is for Unicef.
Thanks for reading..

Finding spirit

I helped out with my friend’s pony today, getting him from the field to the yard for his 6 weekly pair of new shoes.

He is a spirited chap who knows his own mind and has his own characteristics that have set like concrete as the years have gone by. Now in the horsey equivalent of a man in his 80s, he is cantakerous but mischievous. If he was in a care home he would send the nurses flying every time he needed a bath.

This little Welsh pony sent me going round in circles in between shoes, as if we were doing a dance round the stableyard to try out his shiny new tap shoes. The only way I could keep him remotely still for the farrier was to constantly feed him apples, carrots and mints to take his mind off being a fidget. Then the noise of the beagles on their exercise echoed round the valley. The noise of anything hound like puts every equine in the vicinity ‘on edge’. They stand as if they are obeying a two minutes silence to a cenotaph somewhere in the sky with their ears to attention to catch the next fascinating sound. In many ways they are like meerkats, on high alert for the next predator.

He was joined in this stance full of awe by a horse in a stable who looked like he was going to rob a bank with a hood covering everything except his eyes. Another horse stood in the field – all standing to attention in the same direction.

It was in this pose that I was able to admire the beauty of the horse and the inherent intelligence that is innocent and sensitive to experiences both negative and positive.

It made me think of the horses sacrificed in World War One and the plight of the surviving horses who were slain after the war to feed the hungry French.

If you want evidence that an inner spirit exists in living things, there is no greater proof than the spirit that lies within horses.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Government ‘gases’ the countryside

We have been gassed – by the approval of a biogas plant. The following list states several reasons why Biogas is harmful to the environment – would you want a factory producing this gas within a couple of miles of your house?? The Government are encouraging the development of this fuel in many rural areas across the country – yet another example of the Government throwing caution to the wind when it comes to protecting the countryside we have left in this country.

Extracts taken from contributors to

Although this seems to be a popular fuel particularly amongst the farming community, and because it is produced from waste products; I am nervous about the lack of regulation particularly when this fuel can produce high levels of Hydrogen Sulphide (sour gas) which is highly toxic. There are farmers that produce biofuels without really exploring the safety issues of the product and indeed the bi-products that they produce. I wonder if they know that most bio fuels in liquid form are methanol rich, and have a tendancy to damage nitrile seals. Also Sour Gas emissions into the atmosphere produce acid rain ( H2S +H2O = H2SO4 after balancing  the equation of course). There is an official site but I’m affraid to say it paints a “rosey” picture. Its populartiy is attributable to the use of waste materials however I have less positive views until I see regulations more approprite to the refining of bio fuels. Check out the website it is endorsed by DECC.

The final composition of biogas depends on the source of origin, for example household wastes give 50-60% vol of CH4 while agricultural waste and wastewater treatment plants sludge give CH4 60-75% vol. They also give unwanted compounds like CO2 in a significant amount which ranges from 19 to 38 % and a small quantity of H2O about 6% vol. Agricultural waste give the highest H2S amount that varies from 3000 to 10000 mg/m3, while wastewater treatment sludge gives 1000 to 4000 mg/m3 and household gives the lowest among them, 100 to 900 mg/m3. Household wastes give also a 0 to 5% of N2, aromatic 0 to 200 mg/m3 and organofluorinated or organochlorinated 100-800 mg/m3. Agricultural waste also gives 50 to 100 mg/m3 NH3.

Analyzing further as for the safety concerns, we may check each compound of the final biogas product individually for their potential danger. CH4 is not a toxic gas but it is higly flammable and any leak could cause an explosion, while it is also an asphyxiant gas and inhaling it in great amounts can cause even death. CO2 is also an asphyxiant gas and it can cause from intoxication and poisoning till death according to the amount inhaled, while oxygen presence does not play a role in treatment. Converting the above H2S quantities into ppm we can see that agricultural waste as source gives from 1999 to 6664 ppm, wastewater treatment sludge gives 666.4 to 2666 ppm and household gives 66.6 to 600 ppm. The permissible exposure limit of US Occupational Safety and Health Administration per 8 hours is 10ppm, while in 500ppm and over it causes neural stimulation and rapid breathing till death. It has the characteristic odor of the rotten egg so it can be traced by humans easily, except if its concentration is higher than 100ppm when it sets out of order the olfactory tissue. H2S and H2O are the number one factors of corrosion, a serious issue that cause major problems in the industry. NH3 is toxic for the fishes, while for the humans 66.7 to 133 ppm may cause eyes or lungs irritation. N2 has no significant effects or critical hazards on humans. Toxicity of aromatics varies according to the aromatic compound from not toxic to highly toxic the same as with organofluorinated and organochlorinated compounds.

This blog is for Unicef. For every missed blog post I put £1 in the pot. I missed a blog last night so ‘clink’ goes another £1.

Thanks for reading.

At home Mum on the rocks

This was an email I sent to my Mum in Espana:
Dear Mum,
…………Talking of birthdays, there has been no improvement between me and hubby. He is refusing to apologise and I am refusing to let it go so we are now in stalemate, co-existing under the same roof but not communicating unless absolutely necessary – it is hideous. As a protest I have stopped cooking meals for him and doing his washing. As a result there is so much less for me to do which is great! He took an aversion to my lovely retro phone so that is now unplugged on the side and it is just being used for role play games – I didnt even bother to have a battle over that one. It turns out that he had to go through the formal process of interview at his work to get the full-time role and he had been getting worked up and stressed about it – think my birthday was in the wrong week. He complains that he is tired which is true but I still cant find a valid excuse for being so horrible on my birthday so I dont have much sympathy. I think something needs to change as the wear and tear of the job and the commute and working 6 days a week is causing wear and tear on our home life. I have threatened separation and his pride gets in the way of fully taking that on board and he just goads me to go ahead and do it. I am worried that by the time he realises what a fool he has been, it will be too late and too much water will have passed under the bridge. I want to do what I can (e.g. mediation) and may suggest it when he is ready to discuss further as I feel he would benefit from the views of a third party neutral person.
In the meantime, I have started looking at applying for jobs again as the last time we hit rock bottom I was an ‘at home Mum’ and I think that this is a recipe for disaster as far as our marriage is concerned!
Thankfully Lucy and Karen are on the phone/ in person to support me but what I find most worrying this time round is that i dont feel sad enough about the situation. Its almost as if I want to see what living on  my own would be like as I have never been without him since the age of 17! Turning 35 has flicked a switch in me, in that I am now looking to the next decade thinking by the time I am 45 will I still be treading on eggshells around his moods, feeling guilty every time I use my bank card, worrying that if I purchase something for the house without his approval he will just try to chuck it away or push it to one side and  will I still have to tailor my career around his? Unless he is wiling to face up to his increasingly stubborn and belligerent behaviour (as Louise says the ‘1950’s man’ syndrome) I will have to seriously re-consider things….
As much as I love hurling cakes across the room, I would quite like to eat some birthday cake next year!
This blog is for Unicef.
Thanks for reading.

Floods in Malawi

Thank God for blogs – if we relied on the world’s press alone to dictate the headlines to us, then this tragedy in Malawi would have just passed the West by. Good to see Unicef ‘s work on the ground providing tents for those displaced – a charity my blog supports also.

Africa far and wide

Hushed by the sound of rain, they sleep.  Lying side by side – children, grandparents, mothers and fathers – breathe deeply and dreaming of tomorrow.

Not so far from the slumbering mud house, the banks of the Shire River quiver and crumble.  The raging torrent; bloated and full with mud and debris, slams its full weight into the curves of the river,  devouring it and dissolving all hope of a peaceful sunrise. A wall of water builds its strength; higher and higher, onward and outwards, closer and closer.

IMG_3814 Mwanza river in flood

Like a sponge, the family blanket soaks up the chocolate brown liquid, cooling the family beyond comfort and waking them with just a whisper of bad news.

The whisper soon becomes ‘shouts’…screams even, frantic activity. A single chicken bursts through the open door and clambers onto the rim of a plastic bucket. The tied up goat bleats helplessly…

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My friends and I are going to do the lottery this week in an attempt to win enough money to go on a girly shopping trip to New York.

Despite various depressing goings on with our marriage, I can dream of uninhibited feminine retail therapy in the big apple to keep me going.

I watched a documentary last night on BBc Four about a horsewoman and horse breeder based in New Zealand (although a born and bred American) called Scott who set-out on a journey across Asia to locate the origins of the Appaloosa horse (the spotty type). Scott wanted to prove that the American Appaloosas were in fact related to the bloodlines of Appaloosa’s in Asia, where the breed in fact originated from.

This journey took her through the plains of outer Mongolia where the winters re harsh and the only respite is in a toasty yurt eating goats head wrapped up in blankets. Despite being 69 years old, she coped well on horseback at high altitude and was overcome with emotion when she caught the first sight of an ‘Appy’ running wild across the plains. Their spots were perfect and their manes looked beautiful blowing in the wind. They took hair from the manes to create DNA samples, which they then had tested in labs based in Texas USA. The news confirmed Scott’s theory that Appallosa’s originated from Asia and that American ‘Appy’s’ are distant relatives.

Aside from her horsey quest, the journey gave an insight into Scott as a person and her line of 5 marriage. She confesses that she should have married a cowboy as none of her men were ‘horsey’ and they didn’t understand her love of horses.

Maybe that’s where I am going wrong….

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Nutty times

Life is like a box of chocolates……you finish the sentence for me.

Life goes more like this, you see a tin of quality street, you open it in eager anticipation of the sweet stuff and you get……nuts or worse….a random collection of marbles/ pennies/ screws.

This is how I feel right now. On my birthday I thought I was heading for a whole tin of Quality Street, when actually it turned out to be nuts.

This is actually the story of our marriage. Sometimes we have chocolates and sometimes we have something else either less exciting, disappointing or downright depressing.

In times of stress in our marriage I am all too quick to start doling out the d word ‘divorce’ as my parents did. Trouble is I’m like the boy who cried wolf and it will eventually lose its effect and be met with just a ‘yeah right’.

Its my children I dont want to get scarred from this process. It made me reflect on my growing up in a broken home and what I found worse was living with a man who was pretending to be my Dad and tolerating him and my Mum being lover 5 days a week ( I was with my dad at the weekends).

So, if divorce was to happen I have made a pact with myself – no more guys – just me, myself an the kids (and some girlfriends). I do really love my husband so if our relationship ultimately fails I cant see how any other guy could top it.

Now I just have to roll with life’s punches (or nuts) and waiting and see.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Birthday highs and lows

It is nearly midnight on the day of my birthday and what an emotional day it has been. The highlights of the day include: my daughter and son bringing me porridge and tea in bed; enjoying a lovely frozen scene dog-walk out of a story book across fields I enjoyed playing in as a child; nearly having a full-on collision with a range-rover and taking a Top Gear style detour over a large bank to avoid a massive insurance claim and, potentially, injuries; spending an amazing day shopping in London with my best friends and enjoying afternoon tea; finishing the day wanting to divorce my husband with his birthday card smouldering on the fire and a massive dent in his shop-bought mini birthday cake.

There is a quote from one of the Bridget Jones movies that best sums up the day and it goes something like this: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that just when something good is happening in your life another part goes spectacularly wrong”.

So while I was enjoying ‘up’ times I had ‘crap’ times too, such is the rollercoaster of life. The down-side of having a good time in London is that it takes a while to get home relying on public transport if you live rurally. So I came home to a very grumpy husband expecting me to be home in time to share a pizza and cake with him, but I was late. He decided instead to give me the cold shoulder and have a go without a word of ‘Happy Birthday, I hope you had a nice day’ in sight. Seeing that my evening was a lost cause to his negative emotions, I did what any other sane woman would do who had been accused of not putting her family first before herself on her birthday…I chucked his cake across the room and in a fit of temper ripped his card in two. He then said how muuh effort he had had gone to to buy the cake in his lunch-break. I said ‘What’s the point of a cake and card if you cant be nice and civil to me?’. As I walked off I heard him scold the dog for attempting to eat the cake off the floor.

I said to him if the boot was on the other foot, I would have been pleased to see him regardless of what time he got back on his birthday as it was his day to do as he wished. I would certainly not have made him feel guilty for having a good time.

My girlfriends were shocked to hear the grumpy text message he sent to me on the train home and said that it wasnt right for him to make me feel guilty. It wasnt until they highlighted this to me that I realised he made me feel bad most of the time about things that I do on my own. My Mum is standing by my choice to study for a new career even though I konw I will not receive his support.

I am concerned about what will happen in the future as I want to stay as a close family but at the same time I am not willing to be brow beaten permanently in order to sustain harmony. In short, I am torn.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.