Wednesday, 1 May 2019



My parents both had euthanasia. We are Dutch, and they had wanted this for a long time. They both made preparations: a pile of documents about when, and how, they wanted to die.
By the time my mother was very ill and in hospital, she said: enough.
They took her home.
We children came over, with spouses and offspring. There was not much space in their flat but that's where most of us stayed.
We talked, or just sat together.
When the day came, grandkids and in-laws said goodbye, and the three of us came with her to the bedroom, one by one at first. We talked some more. Then we all
came in together.
The doctor gave her a drink.
She died.
Can you imagine anything more peaceful and, dare I say it, happy?
My father did the same a few years later. He was 85 and had enough. One day he fell out of bed, refused treatment and that was that.
We all came, said goodbye - and have beautiful memories of that day.

I live in the countryside and most of the funerals I have witnessed here have been good. The vicar tends to know people, even if they don't attend the services. When someone dies, everyone turns out. The service is usually in church, not the crematorium, whatever they did or did not believe. Of all the off-putting places, I find crematoria some of the worst.
Me, I want to be put in the earth, to be transformed in fertile soil, for new life to begin. With a wooden cross: by the time the wood has finally rotted away, no one will remember me anymore, so someone else can have that place. And that way the churchyard won’t ever fill up!

People have all sorts of fears and reasonings about euthanasia, but I don’t care for reasonings.
In Februari I was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. The only good side of this disease is: when the time comes, I’ll be able to choose: stop breathing or have gadgets attached to me. And that will be MY decision.

Annemieke Wigmore, 01460 53165, See also

alphabetical index of subjects

alcohol                       Dec 17:                 
                                  Dec 14:
antibiotics                  Sep 15:
                                  Apr 17:
arthritis                      Apr 14:
brain food                  May 13:
bread                         May 10:
                                  Oct 16:
breakfast                   Jul 10:
                                  Aug 12:
butter                         Feb 12:
                                  Apr 10:
calories                      Jan 12:
chocolate                  Jun 13:
cholesterol                Nov 13:
                                 Apr 11:                         
                                 Mar 10:                                       
coughs                     Nov 14:
cravings                   Jun 12:
dairy                         Oct 17:
death                             May 19:
                                 Feb 17:                           
dieting                     Jan 15:
                               Jul 11:
drink                        Dec 17:
                                Dec 14: 
eggs                        Jan 17:
eyesight                   May 18:
fast food                  July 18:
fat                             Nov 18:
                                Nov 13:
                                Jun 10: 
faeces                     Sep 17:
fatigue                     April 19:
fever                        Dec 15:
fish                          April 18:
                               Jul 12:
insomnia                  Apr 15:  
milk                          Oct 17:
                                Sep 11:
salt                         Oct 15:
                               Oct 11:
soup                       Feb 19:
soy                         Aug 13:
stress                     Jul 14:
sugar                     May 17:                     
                              Jun 15:
                              Jul 13:
throat                      Nov 14:
vitamins                  Mar 13: 

May 2018: our precious eyesight

Our precious eyesight

We don’t normally realize how precious our eyes are, until we get trouble. Short sight, far sight, those are easily dealt with. But what about cataracts, glaucoma, and the feared macular degeneration?
Every so often, another piece appears in the papers, saying how scientists have at last invented a clever way to deal with one or another of these. But even so, and till some of these miracle cures have become mainstream, prevention is still best.
There are lots of things we can do for ourselves. Good food is always a very important one, which also happens to improve our health in other respects.

To prevent yourself from getting eye problems, or to alleviate them once you’ve got trouble, it is important to include the following in your diet. 
Lutein and zeaxanthin: in eggs (free range), coloured fruit, leafy green, spinach, kale, collard greens, cos, broccoli, sweetcorn, peas, Brussels sprouts, pumpkins, orange peppers, pistachio nuts, grapes.
Carotenoids are plant pigments responsible for bright red, yellow, orange and dark green hues: in for instance carrots, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, red capsicums and oranges.
Vitamin A/beta-carotene: liver, egg; fruits/veg (carrots, pumpkin, squashes, spinach, kale, tomatoes).
It's important to combine lutein, carotenoids and vitamin A with fat like butter or olive oil, so our bodies can absorb the benefits.
Zinc: oysters, shellfish in general, meat/poultry, beans/peas, nuts/seeds, egg yolks, whole grains, cheese. Veg(etari)ans: see [1].
Vitamin C: we all know where they are: in fruit and veg, especially when eaten raw. 
Vitamin E: in seeds/(pea)nuts, dark leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, plant oils, (shell)fish, pumpkin, avocado. 
B-vitamins: B2 deficiency can lead to dimmed vision and red, itchy, burning eyes. In meat, cheese, almonds, mushrooms, spinach, marmite/brewer’s yeast, eggs, milk. This vitamin is damaged by light.
Vitamin B6 can prevent macular degeneration when taken with B12. It also improves absorption of magnesium, which helps production of tears. In seeds, nuts/seeds, fish, poultry/meat, dried fruit, capsicum, spinach, broccoli, marmite/brewer’s yeast, whole grains, beans/peas, potatoes in their skins. 
Vitamin B12 lessens our chance of getting macular degeneration, when taken with B6. It also prevents glaucoma. In (shell)fish, liver, beef/poultry, marmite/brewer’s yeast, milk/yoghurt and eggs.
Omega 3: in oily fish (sardines, mackerel, herring), walnuts, flax seed/oil and egg yolks. Brussels, kale, spinach, pumpkin, broccoli and watercress also have some, but in a less useful form.
See also [2].

ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION doesn’t help our eyesight at all. It drains our stores of critical vitamins and nutrients, like the above mentioned vitamin A and zinc. It also depletes supplies of B-complex vitamins: this can harm the liver [3], which converts beta-carotene into this vitamin A. Dry or red eyes are only a minor effect [6]. Much worse is that drinking alcohol increases the risk of cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. See [4].

MACULAR DEGENERATION develops when the part of the eye responsible for central vision stops functioning properly. Reading becomes difficult, colours less vibrant and faces are hard to recognise. It is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in people over 60, which is why they often speak of AMD, age-related macular degeneration.
There are two forms, the wet and the dry, the latter being most common. There is no treatment for the dry form, but a lot can be done with the proper food and supplements. The wet form cannot be cured, only slowed down, mainly with injections [5]

Very important, and not commonly known, is the damage done by so-called blue light. This is light with wavelengths shorter than 480 nanometer. It is harmful because it can penetrate all the way to the back of the eye, bypassing the eye’s natural filters. Blue light is not new, but the amount of exposure we get, through digital devices and energy-saving lights has grown enormously. Artificial sources include smart phones, tablets, computers, Mp3 players and TV’s; also CFL’s, LEDs or halogen, the so-called energy-efficient lightbulbs. The effects of these are cumulative, and macular degeneration can be the result [6].
Fortunately we can protect ourselves by wearing so-called blue-blockers, glasses (often fit-over ones) which block the harmful rays [7].
PS It’s interesting to read what we are supposed to go through when one of those supposedly eco-friendly bulbs breaks - see [8]!

Risk factors for cataracts are: a history of the condition in the family; smoking; over-exposure to UV rays; regularly drinking too much alcohol; diabetes; eye surgery; corticosteroid medication or a high intake of refined sugar.
When in the first stages of cataract formation, it is relatively easy to slow or stop the process. You can of course wait till they get worse, but a cataract operation, though common, is still an operation. And while most patients get good results, a small percentage are left worse off. And did you know that up to 3% of those who have had cataract surgery will in future develop a detached retina?
If you decide to try and do something yourself to protect your eyesight, remember that this will benefit the rest of your body as well.
So what can you do at this moment?
In the first place, follow the above advise about food. Lutein and zeaxanthin; vitamin B1, B2, C and vitamin E are excellent. Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful anti-oxidant - in organ meats and spinach. Supplements never work so well, and have their drawbacks. Glutathione, another strong antioxidant, is produced in our body. Production is boosted by eating: asparagus, broccoli, avocado, spinach, garlic, grapefruit, squash, potatoes, courgettes, watermelon, strawberries, meat, eggs, brazils, seafood, and sunflower seeds. 
The herbs bilberry and gingko also help. And see [9].

All sites seem to agree that regular mild exercise is important to prevent glaucoma, and so is diet, see above. Smoking, caffeine and white sugar are out again, I’m afraid. For details see [10].

And here are some suggestions of natural remedies you can try for minor complaints.

There are various types of eye infections you can get: blepharitis, styes, red eye/conjunctivitis, pink eye, dry eyes etc. For useful sites, see [11].

Keep your eyes in constant movement. Roll your eyes upwards, downwards, sideways and in circular motions for a few minutes at regular intervals [12]. And, apparently, the brain ignores floaters faster if you gaze at the moon for just five minutes every night. Easily said ….
DRY EYES - see [13].
PUFFY EYES - see [14].
YELLOW EYES - see [15].
UNDER EYE BAGS - see [17].
EYESTRAIN - see [18].
STYES - see [19].
TWITCH - see [21].

And did you know that rubbing your eyes is bad for them? Personally, when they itch, I massage the corners with saliva .... Just bathing them in cold water also helps [22].


SOW or plant out:
direct: beet, calabrese, carrots (though June sowings get less rootfly), french/runner beans, kohlrabi, lettuce, sweetcorn, swede, salsify/scorzonera, spring onions, spinach (beet), courgettes, marrows, pumpkins, (sugar) peas, leeks, cabbage, cauli, sprouting broccoli (early May), kale, beans, cucumbers, marrows, melon, pepper, sweetcorn, tomatoes; squashes late May. If pea moth's a problem, wait till mid May.
Green manure: if you have space, do it now. See [23]. 

veg: spring greens, cabbage, spinach, chard, cauli, salad leaves/lettuce, radish, rocket, asparagus, sorrel, watercress, rhubarb, seakale.
herbs: chives, parsley, mint, lovage, summer savoury and chervil.
wild food: broom buds, chives, dandelions, fat hen, hogweed shoots, hop shoots, meadowsweet, sea spinach, sorrel, watercress, wild fennel, wild garlic, wild rocket, samphire.
game: wood pigeon, lamb, mutton, guinea fowl, rabbit, duck.
fish: bib/pouting, flounder, herring, pollack/lythe, red gurnard, whelk, Northern prawn, squid, British crayfish, lobster, (brown) crab.



PASTA DIFFERENT for 1 to ???
Lots of shredded greens like cabbage, (frozen) peas, pasta, easy-to-cook meat like mince, sausage or bacon; basil, (cream cheese), spices, seasoning.
Prepare the vegetables, and heat slightly salted water. When it boils, throw in the pasta and veg, which should take roughly the same time to cook. If the peas are frozen, add them a bit later. If you use sausages or bacon, cut in ab. 2.5cm pieces and fry.
When the veg-pasta mix is done, pour off the water (good for soup!) and add the mix to the frying meat. Stir; season; add basil and spice it up, chilli is good. Also, or instead of the meat, mix in some cream cheese if you like and make sure it melts.

For the flavour base: 
3 tblsp cooking oil, 1 large diced onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tblsp curry powder, 1 tsp allspice powder, 1 tsp nutmeg powder or 1/2 tsp freshly grated, 1 1/2 tsp paprika, 2 tsp dried thyme leaves/3 tsp fresh, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp black.
For the curry:
360ml potatoes cut in 1.2 centimeter cubes, 2x400-gram drained tins chickpeas (keep the water), 400-gram tin of diced tomatoes, 480ml (chickpea) water, 2 sliced shallots, chopped parsley, salt.
Heat the oil, add the first lot of ingredients and cook for 3 minutes until the onion is translucent. Then add the potatoes and cook for 2 more minutes. If the spices start to stick to the bottom, put in a tiny splash of water. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, and the liquid. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and the sauce has thickened. Adjust salt. Stir in the shallots and parsley. Serve with rice, or add just a little bit more potatoes for a full meal. 

FISH CAKES,  4 patties
1 tin (ab 112g) mackerel,  ab. 120ml cold mashed potatoes, small minced onion, 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, 1 small egg, beaten, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, flour, oil.
Sauté the onion till soft but not burned. Take out of the pan and mix with fish, mash, egg, lemon juice and seasoning. Shape into patties. Dredge in flour, fry about 10 minutes or until brown, turn once. Drain well.

Dried spaghetti for 4, 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle, 8 chopped anchovy fillets, 3 chopped garlic cloves, chilli flakes/powder, 1 tsp dried oregano, 400g can chopped tomatoes, large handful black olives, 1 tbsp roughly chopped capers, (large handful fresh basil).
Cook the pasta al dente. Heat the oil, throw in the anchovies and sizzle for 2 minutes until they’ve broken down. Add garlic, chilli and oregano and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the tomatoes, increase the heat and bubble for 3-5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Stir in olives and capers. Drain the pasta, leaving a bit of water coating the strands, then tip into the sauce. Stir, add some olive oil and mix while heating it thoroughly. Serve straight away with fresh basil if you have any.

For more recipes see May issues from former years - click on May 2018 on the right hand side. Or go to, which still has eight recipes for this year. 
We also have an alphabetical index of subjects, which you will see if you click on this month, in the top right hand corner.

Next month: did you know?
To see this now, go to and scroll down.

[7] In 2007 I was diagnosed with dry macular degeneration - the form which is supposedly incurable. The optician told me it was good to eat kale, which inspired me to do some more research. This is when I found that important nutrients to fight MD are lutein, vitamins C and E, beta carotene and zinc (and if you take lots of zinc you should take copper as well). 
Lutein, as well as many other nutrients, is abundant in kale. In general, dark leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables are excellent. Kale and marigold tea have been my standby ever since. I bought blublocker glasses and still use them when watching the computer, the tv and in a car when faced with unpleasant headlights. Online you can get blueblockers to wrap around your prescription glasses from £40 at Click on anti-glare spectacles and make sure you choose one with blue-blocking filter. Or order ‘wraparound fitovers’ via Robert Frith ( opticians in Devon or Somerset.
I managed to get rid of my macular degeneration entirely by these means, plus some acupuncture treatments. You might not be so lucky, but you certainly can do a lot yourself to prevent it getting worse.