High50 http://www.high50.com A global community for people over the age of 50. Reach out. Reboot. Read on. Mon, 27 Apr 2015 17:24:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 What to wear over 50: Gok Wan’s fashion tips for 50+ women plus his top six celebrities with style http://www.high50.com/style/what-to-wear-over-50-gok-wan-fashion-tips-for-older-women-plus-most-stylish-celebrities-at-50 http://www.high50.com/style/what-to-wear-over-50-gok-wan-fashion-tips-for-older-women-plus-most-stylish-celebrities-at-50#comments Sun, 26 Apr 2015 23:01:18 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=76113
Gok Wan fashion tips. Red Carpet Fashion at the Olivier Awards 2014. 620 YouTube screengrab

Gok takes time out from his TV schedule (here on the red carpet at the Oliviers) to talk about fashion for older women

My first piece of fashion advice for people over 50 is that there are no dos and don’ts. If you’ve worked hard all your life and finally have some money to spend, celebrate your femininity and embrace who you are as a woman.

However, when you’re choosing clothes to buy, the key is to address your body shape beyond a trend.

Don’t think that a trend which suited you a few decades ago is going to look as great on you now. Your body may not be in the right shape to appreciate it any more.

Three ways to give your body shape

1 Achieve an hourglass shape. The hourglass is the best shape you can achieve. That’s not because women who have a different structure look worse, it’s just that this is the body shape most clothes were designed for. You will feel like you are wearing your clothes better if you can achieve the hourglass.

2 Emphasise your waist and hips. Seeing a waistline will give your body a more feminine shape. It can make you appear to lose weight, if you use the right lines.

This might mean tucking a top into your trousers or skirt, but it works. You can look taller and more feminine in seconds.

Hips are one of the most important parts of a body to dress right. A woman’s hips are significantly different to a man’s frame. Using a full skirt, pleated trousers or a relaxed fabric gives you the look of a smaller waist.

3 Give shoulders structure. It’s important to have some structure on your shoulders. That doesn’t mean silly pads that date back to the 1980s. Think relaxed fabrics that billow over your frame.

My top six 50+ celebs with style

Kristin Scott Thomas is a great advocate for classic style, as is Diane Keaton. Monica Bellucci gets her fashion statement spot-on and always looks absolutely wonderful.

Kim Cattrall is 58 and is dressed beautifully whenever I see her. For me, she epitomizes sexiness.

Anna Wintour, as you would expect, knows exactly what to wear. Her clothes can be slightly conservative but it always works.

Yasmin Le Bon is breathtaking. She knows her body and dresses her height well.

I’m also a big fan of the Queen! What designer Stewart Parvin does with her is incredible. She always looks wonderful and is a fabulous dresser.

Can you wear a leather jacket over 50?

People often ask me whether it’s OK to wear a leather jacket in your fifties. I think it’s fine for men and woman but you need to ensure your taste is contemporary.

There’s nothing wrong with having a passion for retro clothing but don’t try to reignite a fashion trend you favoured in years gone by.

Even if you find a leather jacket from 1987 in your wardrobe that looks suitable, don’t be tempted. That’s where most people go wrong. Men can end up looking a bit Del Boy and it’s just as bad for ladies.

If I was choosing a leather jacket for a woman I would consider a waterfall front, something made of softer lamb leather, or perhaps a full biker jacket that’s been cropped.

For a guy, consider a true 1950s-style motorcycle jacket but keep it contemporary. The jacket also has to match your overall look to be cool.

If you are going to do it, do it: don’t just pop on one retro piece. You have to carry off the whole look.

Gok Wan on Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015. 620 Photo from BBC Pictures

Great Comic Relief bake Off 2015: when he’s not doing fashion, Gok bakes a mean cake

 

What I’ll be wearing at 50

I’m now 40 and there are a couple of items in my own wardrobe that I know I will still be wearing when I’m 50.

One is a biker jacket that I bought for £2.50 in a charity shop in Scotland years ago. I love that jacket but my body shape goes in and out of being able to wear it (it’s currently out – but that’s OK).

The other is a pair of trousers I bought from Benetton about ten years ago and absolutely love. They are a grey fleck flannel trouser and really good with sneakers, or dressed up with a posh pair of shoes and a black jumper.

Where to buy over-50s fashion

I rarely buy clothes online. I’m a traditionalist and like to go into a shop to see and touch the materials.

There are thousands of shops on the high street and what I’ve tried to do over the years is not focus on one. Product changes over the years and what I remember from last season may not be around any more, or look good.

Of course, where you can shop comes down to budget and that will be different for everybody. But for low to mid-priced, Zara and Marks & Spencer do great clothes, especially leather. I’m a massive Zara fan and I like Mango too.

The one website I do use a lot is ShopStyle (www.shopstyle.co.uk). It has clothes from all the main stores, with thousands and thousands of items.

I usually have a good look on the site first, choose what I think I like, then go and see the items for real in a store.

Gok Wan is an ambassador for Specsavers

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New love and old saints in the hills of Tuscany: one man’s tale of returning to Italy after heartbreak http://www.high50.com/travel/tuscany http://www.high50.com/travel/tuscany#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:01:40 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=74338
US Life Tuscany trees Paul Beaumont

Tuscany’s famous cypress trees

Ah, Tuscany! What’s not to like? Virginia Wolf, no less, described it as “the loveliest of landscapes”. You can see why: the rolling hills, the vineyards, the cypress trees, the sunflowers, the terracotta tiles, the food, the sunshine… If ever there was a place made for romance and relaxation it’s surely this picturesque region of central Italy.

I had been there a number of years ago with my wife and teenage children during a glorious, blistering summer. We had stayed in the old walled town of Lucca, had spent days wandering through its enchanting narrow streets and visited the area’s must-see destinations of Florence, San Gimignano, Pisa and Siena.

Our trip to Siena had coincided with Il Palio, the crazy bareback horse race that takes place on a temporary dirt track around the outer edges of the city’s imposing Piazza del Campo. We were there for eight hours of pre-Palio posturing, the two-minute race itself, and a half-hour brawl that erupted amongst the alcohol-soaked, sun-drenched spectators. As I said, it’s crazy, but you have to see it.

All that was in my past and, subsequently, my children have grown up and left home and, after a certain amount of posturing of our own, plus a metaphorical brawl or two, my wife and I had, regrettably, separated. We had got married in our very early twenties when we thought that love would out-live beauty, but had sadly been proved wrong.

An integral part of me losing my marriage was that I lost God at the same time. It wasn’t that I misplaced him, like I increasingly now do with my glasses, I deliberately walked away from our relationship (my wife would know how I felt). I had put up with twenty-five years of his moody silence and that was more than enough, so I left a polite note and departed (I know how my wife must have felt).

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The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

I had recovered from the rawness of this emotional trauma (along with that of losing my job and my house, all in the same annus horribilis) and was finally ready to return to Tuscany.

Going back to Tuscany

I went in October this time, a month when the sunflowers have died, the air has started to chill and instead of the evenings being suffused with that magical, translucent light of summer, the gloaming permeates the streets around the taverns just as the dinner-time zuppa Toscana is being ladled out. A slightly faded time, in other words.

However, I was there with a new partner; a woman whose golden hair and gentle smile seemed to send the shadows scurrying back to their dark corners. We visited many of the same places I had been to previously and, somehow, the new happiness in my heart bridged across to the happiness I had known before, spanning the chasm of loss and loneliness in between.

The ochre walls, the ornate, wooden doors, the craggy olive groves all worked their charms on me, as did my lovely companion, so that I felt eased somehow, and able to cherish again the old, joyful memories of this beguiling place and complement those memories with new ones made in the present.

Now Tuscany, like most of Italy, has a surplus of churches and the sight of them reminded me of the other great loss in my life: religion. I carry with me a vestigial fondness for church buildings and, as my lover had been immersed in the unholy waters of Catholicism as a child, we found ourselves visiting any number of God’s houses as we passed from town to town.

Churches of Italy

My partner would light a candle in each one, extracting a pithy visceral pleasure from the act, enhanced by the fact that she refused to pay for the privilege. “They owe me,” she explained when I wondered aloud at her apparent penny-pinching.

We were often the only people in the churches that we entered. The buildings seemed to be museums rather than dwelling places of the Most High; an impression fortified by the physical manifestations of the death cult that lies at the heart of Christianity: countless bloodied crucifixes littered the interiors, along with grotesque statues of Mary impaled with daggers representing her Seven Sorrows.

Travel. Love. Tuscany vineyards and sunflowers. Paul Beaumont

Paul’s first visit to Tuscany was at the height of summer, when sunflowers were in full bloom

More bizarrely still, were the sainted skeletons lying unnecessarily clothed inside their glass cabinets, grinning blindly in the hope of scaring the hell out of small children who were, mercifully, absent.

If I had been inclined to think of it, these old bones could have been a metaphor for my own faith: a reminder of a past life which was now deceased and no longer inspiring, or scaring, me.

Not that all my religious memories are bad ones; far from it. Similarly, not all the religion we saw in Tuscany was confined to the dead past. In one little town we stumbled across an un-prepossessing monastery, located in an anonymous backstreet.

We couldn’t resist going in; there was bound to be a candle to light. There was and, after giving life to the tiny flame, we sat down at the back of the small chapel to absorb our surroundings.

That’s when the singing started. Beyond the glass screen behind the alter a group of nuns were at choir practice, and they were having a wonderful time. They would sing a few lines, try out some harmonies, laugh, try again, giggle, and then sing like angels. We couldn’t help but smile.

They didn’t know we were there and we all but held our breath for want of remaining undiscovered while we took the liberty of looking through the window into their half-hour of pleasure.

Another bridge then, to happiness-past for me. A reminder, too, that churches can channel opportunities for joy, even if the Divinity in whose honour they are built is as lifeless as the skeleton saints. The joy is enough, after all.

So, we saw Tuscany when it was past its best, much like we are ourselves, perhaps. But it was still beautiful, and it gave us joy and happiness and, yes, love too. Maybe even a love that can outlast beauty this time.

Paul Beaumont’s book, A Brief Eternity, was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize and is available to buy on Amazon and Kindle

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Marathon man: I did no exercise and smoked 30 a day for 30 years. Now I’m addicted to running http://www.high50.com/sports/marathon-training-over-50-i-ran-my-first-marathon-at-54 http://www.high50.com/sports/marathon-training-over-50-i-ran-my-first-marathon-at-54#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 09:08:30 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=76052
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The 2015 London Marathon takes place this Sunday 26 April

I played a lot of sport as a lad and then became an RSPCA inspector aged 20 or 21. When I joined, they moved you all around the country. The job overtook my whole life from the early 1980s until 2010; 30-odd years.

I didn’t do any exercise during that time and I smoked. I was always a skinny lad but when I got to 45, I started putting the pounds on. And when I got to 54 I thought: “I’ve got to do things for me and not just for work.”

I saw the marathon on the telly over a number of years and thought I’d like to give it a go, and then forgot about it. Then my wife said to me I had to do something or I’d never forgive myself. She was right.

Training for the marathon as a beginner

I went to my local playing field, and I did a one-minute walk and a one-minute run. I did that three times, for three minutes, came home and it nearly killed me.

I said to my wife: “There’s no way I can run 26 miles, I can’t even run a bloody minute.” I was quite upset with myself and quite furious.

But I was determined, so I got a training plan and worked it up to 20 miles, and stuck to it 100 per cent.

If I had a training run of eight miles I didn’t stop once because I saw that as a failure, but I’m lucky enough that I’ve got the willpower. I did the training over seven months.

I’ve got an addictive personality and a lot of the people I run with do too. I think it has got to be the trait of a runner: if you haven’t got an addictive personality for running, why would you continue all the time?

Running made me quite smoking

I gave up smoking when I started my training and it was the biggest incentive to stop because running and smoking do not go hand in hand. I was smoking 30 a day.

I got a charity place for the London Marathon in 2010 through the RSPCA and raised £2,000. One lady gave me £600. The hardest thing about it was the initial training, doing the first quarter hour non-stop. I was so proud of that.

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During the run itself, I had a little walk at 16 miles and then when I got to 20 miles I’d had it, and then I got annoyed with myself. So I took an extra [energy] gel and it got me round.

“I must have walked about two and a half miles out of the last six because I’d had it. It took me five hours and 40 minutes.

One of my biggest motivations was the thought of having that medal around my neck and once I’d got that, I’d have it for the rest of my life.

Now running has become a bug, and I’ve done three marathons and 23 half marathons.

I had my lungs X-rayed four years after the first marathon and the doctor said to me: “Lucky you’ve never smoked”, so that was a real benefit. They appear to have repaired themselves.

I’m not saying I’m out of the woods because I don’t know what damage I did to myself over those years.

Running with a club

The first marathon I did I trained on my own, and then the greatest thing I did ever was to join the Burnham Joggers Athletics Club. [The first time] I went I found it one of the most intimidating things in my whole life but I persevered with it.

“I was intimidated because I was thinking: “Are all these people fitter and better than me?” and, second, meeting strangers can be intimidating.

But now I’d advise anyone to join a beginner’s course in a running club. Not only do you get fit, you will make really good friends. I’ve made what I can only describe as lifetime friends and that’s so important. It’s made me realise that friendship and people are more important than my job.

Sometimes I come home and worry about things, but when I’m running all my worries seem to go away.

I’m inspired by the older runners there. Alan is ten years older than me so I think: “I’ve got ten years’ more running in me”, and then I see Tommy, who’s 78, and think, “I’ve got 20 years”.

I want to be a catalyst, because if I don’t do it, no one else will. I want to organise as many people as possible to do the Benidorm half-marathon.

Also I like the idea of doing an extreme marathon, something like the Las Vegas [where people run down The Strip at night].

What I have learned is that there is more to life than work and also I’ve discovered that your world needs people to be a catalyst and say: “Let’s do this”.

Derek Wilkins has raised more than £6,000 for the RSPCA through sponsored runs

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Win a day with top make-up artist Lisa-Potter Dixon of Benefit Cosmetics and star in our 50-plus video http://www.high50.com/beauty/win-a-day-with-top-make-up-artist-lisa-potter-dixon-of-benefit-for-a-50-plus-video http://www.high50.com/beauty/win-a-day-with-top-make-up-artist-lisa-potter-dixon-of-benefit-for-a-50-plus-video#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 23:02:09 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=76050
Lisa Potter Dixon for Benefit at LFW AW15. YouTube crop

Leading make-up artist Lisa in action behind the scenes at the last London Fashion Week

We are looking for three ladies in their fifties to have a fun session with leading make-up artist Lisa Potter-Dixon of Benefit Cosmetics. It’s on the afternoon of Friday 22 May at Benefit HQ in Chelmsford.  

Lisa believes as firmly as we at High50 do that make-up at our age should still be fun. This will be a super-informative, relaxed and practical day, to update your look, get tips on how to adapt your make-up as your face changes, see how to enhance your best features, or refresh your make-up bag.

PLUS you’ll leave with the Benefit products you’ll need to recreate the looks Lisa gives you.

You’ll get instant beauty solutions for the issues you have, learn how to do make-up looks that you used to do and thought you couldn’t do any more, and find out how what your natural hair colour was when younger should affect your make-up now.

We will film the session, and edit it into a short video to go on High50, and on our and Benefit’s YouTube channels.

There are tons of make-up videos on the internet and not nearly enough showing women our age. Let’s change that! 

You’ll also get a photo of your finished look to use on your own social media and present your best you!

This is a rare opportunity as, between filming for Benefit’s tutorials on QVC and her work on fashion shows, Lisa is in high demand. Here she is in action, behind the scenes at the Matthew Williamson AW15 catwalk show at London Fashion Week:

To be considered for this fun afternoon, email support@high50.com with ‘Benefit make-up video’ in the subject line. Tell us why you’d like to be included, any make-up issues you have, and how old you are. You must attach a photo of yourself and it must be current.

Our editors will select three people and contact you by email. We may also then like to speak to you on the phone to find out more about your current make-up use and what you’d like to get out of the day.

 

 

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Yurts in the UK, treehouse rentals, cabins with hot tubs: the next-level places to go glamping http://www.high50.com/travel/yurts-uk-treehouse-rentals-cabins-with-hot-tubs-glamping http://www.high50.com/travel/yurts-uk-treehouse-rentals-cabins-with-hot-tubs-glamping#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 23:01:56 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=75991 Sky Den northumberland treehouse 620

Glamping is far more than a luxury tent with a heater and a proper bed these days. The growing popularity of staycations means top-end tipees, safari tents with hot tubs and all manner of treehouses, eco pods, train carriages and beach huts are now renovated, packed with home-away-from-home luxuries and ready to rent. 

With special offers, midweek discounts and lots of venues to choose from you can find a place in the wilds for less than £80 in some cases. 

Yurts in the Cotswolds

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Enjoy drinks on your sundeck or lie back and look at the stars from the open-air roll top bath

Hidden away in glades and woodland lie these four romantic yurts. The yurts have wooden decks and hammocks (perfect for sunsets) and inside there are cosy sheepskin rugs, double beds and wood-burning stoves. The Shepperton Yurt has a romantic open-air roll top bath as well. 

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Forget the sleeping bag, guests can enjoy a proper bed and snuggly throws in this romantic hideaway

Each yurt is located at the edge of its own secluded glade taking advantage of the sunny aspect, the valley views, ancient woodlands and flower-rich hay meadows.

Short breaks start from £290 for two people, extra guests cost £45. The yurts can accommodate up to four people.  

Knightstone Farm Safari Retreat, Exeter

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Glamp with friends or family in Devon. The farm even allows you to bring your own horse, should you have one

Set in an idyllic farm, this spacious two-bedroom safari tent lies in the heart of the Exeter countryside and has its own hot tub. Guests can look after their own chicken coop and collect their eggs for breakfast in the morning and the farm even allows guests to bring their own horse or pony to keep on site!

The owners can have campfire packs and BBQ packs ready for your arrival and guests can hire fishing tackle for an afternoon fishing on Knightstone lake. 

The safari tent sleeps four and is priced from £240 for a three-night weekend break.  

Knight’s glamping at Leeds Castle, Kent

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The pavilions are set in the grounds of the 12th century moated castle

Set in the grounds of Leeds Castle, these eight tudor tents boast one of the best backdrops of all glamping venues.

The castle was once used by King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and has over 500 acres of parkland and a large traditional maze.

The striped pavilions have four-poster beds, fur throws and wood-burning stoves and can accommodate a maximum of two adults and two children. Prices start from £100 per night and the rental season runs until the end of September. 

Sky Den Tree house, Northumberland

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Yes, that’s right, the roof opens up at the Sky Den. Stare at the stars from this ultimate treehouse hideout

Perhaps the quirkiest place to stay in the UK, and also the coolest.

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The Sky Den with roof closed

This treehouse in Northumberland has a triangular loft roof that you can open up for the ultimate view of the stars and sky. 

Sky Den was created by Channel 4 presenter George Clarke, for his Amazing Spaces show and features innovative furniture hidden in the walls and a bi-fold glass window opening onto the deck in the tree tops.

There’s also a wood-burning stove and corrugated iron lookout point.

Located at Calvert Trust Kielder within the award-winning Kielder Water & Forest Park, guests have nature on their doorstep and can enjoy a host of outdoor activities including watersports and climbing. 

The Sky Den can be rented from £175 per night. 

 

Dolphinholme Farm, Lancaster

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The farm is only 15 minutes from the coast and offers a tranquil setting

A great choice for families, the farm lies on the edge of the Forest of Bowland and has hens, dogs, cats, ducks and rabbits and guests can even help feed and milk the goats. The River Wyre is nearby and perfect for a swim or a paddle. 

There’s a communal chicken coop, where guests can collect their eggs, and the farm caters for large groups and parties. 

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Kids and adults alike will love the hideaway beds and cosy rustic interiors

The large canvas tents at Dolphinholme Farm are well stocked, have hideaway beds in cupboards (as well as proper beds in the master) and one of the tents comes with a hot tub. Tents from £269 for a four-night midweek break. 

The Tipi Lodge, Herefordshire

Tipi adventure

The Tipi Lodge has already had four marriage proposals

This family-run Tipi campsite is set in the picturesque Wye Valley by the waterside and combines camping with canoeing expeditions. 

Guests can also go horse riding, cycling and fishing. The luxury tipis have comfy double futons, outdoor fire pits and a hamper full of camping accessories. The minimum age for canoeing is 4 years old. 

The tipis sleep up to seven and are priced from £220 per night. 

Where to find the best glamping holidays

Whether it’s a romantic gypsy caravan you want or a lodge, treehouse or cabin in the woods, there are several websites that have a great range of places to glamp. Sawday’s Canopy and Stars offers Europe-wide options and is a great place to get inspiration and see some quirkier glamping venues. You can also search for hen parties, select just treetop options and find places that will cater for larger parties.

Go Glamping has good deals and a huge range of properties in the UK and Europe, we particularly like the available searches for dog-friendly glamping spots.

Cool Camping also offers reviews and a Europe-wide database and lists nearby campsites and amenities. 

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I don’t have sex with my husband any more and our marriage is happy without it (he feels the same) http://www.high50.com/love/sexless-marriage-happy-without-sex http://www.high50.com/love/sexless-marriage-happy-without-sex#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:50:40 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=75990
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Clare says her marriage is sexless, though still intimate. Picture posed by models

It’s funny to think back on the early days of my relationship with John and realise how important sex was to us both then. It’s hard to imagine that was even us.

The immediate attraction between John and me was physical when we met at work. I always joked that I noticed his beautiful bum in Levi 501s before I even saw his face. For the first decade that we were together, our sex life was active, adventurous and very much the glue that held our relationship together.

Eighteen years after tying the knot with John, I am happy to say that our marriage is a strong and happy one.

Of course, there have been a few bumps in the road (my post-natal depression after having our son Alex 17 years ago, John being made redundant when he was 48 and plunging into a full-scale mid-life crisis). But, on balance, we remain a loving and committed couple.

A marriage without sex

However, we haven’t had sex since the beginning of 2008. We still share a king-size bed every night at our home in Yorkshire. We still kiss and cuddle and enjoy a tactile, physically affectionate relationship, but it’s more than seven years since John and I made love.

So what’s wrong? How do I cope with the sadness of knowing, at the age of 53, that sex is behind me? That my husband no longer desires me physically?

The truth is, I couldn’t be happier about our situation, and nor could John. I don’t feel rejected by him because my libido, like his, has waned.

Sex isn’t how we love each other now; it’s no longer part of the fabric of our relationship, and that’s absolutely fine because we both feel the same way about it.

It’s as if we have moved to a place beyond sex. I would worry for my marriage if we weren’t tender and loving in other ways but we are, and we have always been open with each other about our feelings.

I went off sex when I was approaching the menopause, which is not untypical. It became uncomfortable and, eventually, undesirable.

I told John how I felt and he said he understood. He’d just been made redundant from his job as an engineer and was doing a lot of soul-searching, so I think sex was probably not much in his thoughts then anyway.

I thought my libido would make a comeback after the menopause but it didn’t. “What if it never comes back?” I asked John in bed one night.

“It’s nothing to worry about,” he replied. “We’re in our fifties, we’re fit and healthy and still very much in love with each other, and I don’t see any benefit in fretting about sex if neither of us is bothered about having it.”

A new phase in the relationship

His reply was both logical and reassuring. Our marriage would have been in deep trouble if one of us had still felt the need to be swinging naked from the chandeliers on a nightly basis, but thankfully we both seemed happy to move into a different phase of our relationship.

Perhaps this sounds too easy, but I have always felt secure in my marriage to John. We are very lucky that we talk easily and openly about whatever’s bothering us, and that we have shared interests.

We used to make love until dawn in the early days. Today we’d rather put on our boots and head up into the Dales for a long walk and a pub lunch, or catch a flight to Paris or Budapest to explore the city for a weekend.

We both love cooking and homemaking, taking to the road in our vintage MG, spending time with our 17-year-old son who’ll be leaving for university next year, and dreaming about buying a dilapidated property in France that we can renovate in our dotage.

Happy in a sexless marriage

We have plans and dreams, and we don’t need sex to fulfil them. We do need the closeness of sharing a bed, of cuddling up next to each other on the sofa in the evenings, of walking hand-in-hand sometimes.

I know people will judge the path we have chosen. They will say there must be something wrong, something missing, in a sexless marriage; that there is something unnatural about our celibacy.

But that’s not how we see it. So irrelevant is sex to me, in fact, that I don’t even think it would be a deal-breaker if John had it with someone else.

It would shock me because, like me, he says he’s not interested in sex any more, but it would make no sense to call time on my marriage simply because John had chosen to find elsewhere something he knew wasn’t available at home.

Anyway I’m confident that, like me, he cherishes and respects our relationship, and would be unlikely to put it in jeopardy for something we have both grown to regard as extraneous.

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From polenta to hummus to cereal cafés: the trend for restaurants with only one thing on the menu http://www.high50.com/food/eight-best-restaurants-in-uk-with-only-one-thing-one-the-menu http://www.high50.com/food/eight-best-restaurants-in-uk-with-only-one-thing-one-the-menu#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 23:01:35 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=75983
Restaurant trends_mono restaurants_steak frites. Photo from Stocksy

You can order anything you like… as long as it’s steak

Choice paralysis. Have you ever felt it, that overwhelming, over-indulged, over-privileged ennui of our times that comes from simply having too much of everything?

I get it when I nip into the supermarket for a can of beans and find I’m still there 15 minutes later, staring down an aisle of beans with sugar, beans with no sugar, beans with a bit of sugar; beans with tomato sauce, with barbeque sauce, with sausages.

My octogenarian dad gets it whenever we go for a meal; he finds the choice so bewildering that he often asks me to order for him.

For the choice-paralysed, mono-restaurants – restaurants specialising in just one thing, be it hotdogs, polenta, hummus, cereals or toasted sandwiches, are the way to go.

Though the concept has been around for centuries (what else could you call your humble eat-in fish and chip or pie and mash shop than a mono-restaurant?) the past few years have brought an explosion of them to our cities.

Some have already been and gone. A porridge restaurant popped up for a few weeks, gave us our oats and disappeared before we could say “Please sir, may I have some more”. Tincan, which only served tinned fish, gave itself a six-month shelf life – considerably shorter than that offered by its produce.

Here are some master-of-one restaurants that are hoping to go the distance

Bubbledogs, London

Bubbles, as in champagne, and dogs, as in hot, is what you’ll get at this sociable little joint. It’s owned by Sandia Chang and her Michelin-starred chef husband, James Knappet, and its uptown/downtown marriage of fizz and hotdogs is a winner.

“I didn’t want an expensive champagne and caviar bar,” says Chang, “and chose hotdogs because they’re simple and fun and complement the acidity and dryness of champagne perfectly.”

On the menu is one meat dog and one veggie option with a range of toppings, including blue cheese and celery and fresh tomato salsa, avocado, sour cream and jalapeños; the champagnes are all from small producers. Visit Bubbledogs

Other hotdog restaurants include Primo’s Gourmet Hotdogs in Leeds, serving some intriguing toppings including Jack Daniels honey, onions, sweet-cured bacon and mustard, and, coming soon to London, Top Dog, serving authentic US-style “hot dogs, hot fries and cold shakes”.

Why edible insects are on the shelves at Planet Organic

La Polentaria, London

What better endorsement can there be for an Italian restaurant with no alfresco dining than to see it packed with Italians on the first beautiful day of the year? And what are they queuing for? Polenta.

Polenta as a starter, in a creamy concoction with egg, asparagus and truffle oil; polenta as a main, with wild boar or cuttlefish and polenta as dessert, in a heavenly combo with chocolate or lemon cake, mascarpone or Nutella.

Owner Gabriele Vitali opened a cornmeal restaurant for many reasons. “First, it takes me back to my childhood when I would watch my grandmother making polenta, stirring for nearly an hour until she had the perfect consistency. Second, I liked the simplicity of using one basic ingredient and creating a full menu from it. And third, polenta is gluten-free.”

So there you are, two mono concepts in one: the only polenta restaurant, and the only 100 per cent gluten-free Italian restaurant. Visit La Polenteria.

Le Relais de Venise, London, Paris, New York

Le Relais de Venise, a true master of one, has been serving one thing only for more than 50 years. Its website attests: “Customers come to enjoy just one dish – a salad with walnuts and mustard vinaigrette, followed by steak frites. There is no menu – simply tell us how you would like your steak. Two-thirds of our steak will be brought to you. The other third will be kept warm so that you can enjoy it at its best with freshly prepared frites.” Visit Le Relais de Venise

Arancini, London

Arancini’s golf-ball-sized fried risotto balls, crispy on the outside, oozy cheese on the inside, are a thing of culinary wonder. They’re served in wraps, on their own with salad or dished up in a delicious chickpea and vegetable stew.

The first mouthful is always the best – bite through the shell and enjoy the creamy, herby, cheesy filling. Branches in Kentish Town Dalston and Old Street. Visit Arancini

Humpit, Leeds

Tripadvisor’s third most popular restaurant in Leeds is Humpit, serving hummus. I’m Greek and know how horribly wrong this humble little dish can go ­– grout, anyone? And how great it can be.

Humpit has got it right: smooth, made with the best olive oil, a tang of lemon juice and several smidgens of paprika. Delicious on its own with fluffy pitta, or elevated into a feast by toppings of tahini, pine nuts, falafel or mushrooms. Visit Humpit. Or try Hummus Bros in London, where the toppings include chunky beef and aubergine and tabouleh.

Three reasons not to jump on the kale trend

Melt Room, London

Toasted sandwich fans will be delighted to hear that a specialist bar is opening in London in May. Using the best of British cheeses, organic sourdough and free-range meat, Melt Room will be serving a tempting selection of sarnies, including the classic with Keens Cheddar, rare roast beef with Sparkenhoe red Leicestershire and tuna bean salad with mozzarella.

And not a George Foreman Grill or 50-year-old grease-encased Dualit in sight. No siree. Instead your food will be toasted and pressed using hot bricks. I honestly can’t wait. Visit Melt Room.

Simply Crispy, Belfast

A new sandwich shop has also opened in Belfast, and its speciality is crisps. Take two slices of bread, open two packets of crisps from the 35 or so varieties available, add cheese or ham (optional) and serve. Simply Crispy opened in January intending to trade only for four weeks, but three months on it’s still going strong thanks to popular demand. Visit Simply Crispy on Facebook

Moo’d Cereal House, Leeds, and Black Milk Cereal Dive, Manchester

London’s Cereal Killers has been such a success that young entrepreneurs in Leeds and Manchester have opened their own cereal cafés. Though the concept is still mono, the choice at both bars is mind-blowing, with more than 100 from all over the world, 20-plus types of milk and dozens and dozens of toppings.

It is possible to go healthy but why bother? The fun lies in having an all-out sugar overload: try Black Milk Cereal’s triple shreddies masterpiece with caramac, marshmallows, caramel waffles and chocolate milk. Follow Moo’d Cereal House on Twitter or Black Milk Cereal Dive

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We Changed Everything at 50: The Couple Who Set Up A Life Coaching Vacation Retreat in Thailand http://www.high50.com/life/we-changed-everything-at-50-the-couple-who-set-up-a-life-coaching-holiday-retreat-in-thailand http://www.high50.com/life/we-changed-everything-at-50-the-couple-who-set-up-a-life-coaching-holiday-retreat-in-thailand#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:39:08 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=75976
Life_Change_Chiang-Mai_Thailand_620x349.jpg

Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, where The Life Change People is based

I spent most of my 49th and 50th year working with my husband on a massive life change for ourselves and our family. This was not a result of unhappiness, more about a growing awareness of the courage people have to make changes in their lives.

I also had a passion developed over 20 or more years of study and training, for learning about how people do and don’t decide to make significant changes to improve their lives.

Most of my work had been in some kind of crisis intervention working in many areas including domestic abuse, self harm, people living with AIDS and those with dependencies such as drugs or alcohol.

My husband also had a counseling practice and was a lecturer in motivational psychology, particularly as part of a large body of therapeutic work on how and why people change.

Helping people change their lives

Our ‘simple’ idea was to adapt the evidence-based techniques taught by my husband to be used by people like me to support others, to anyone who looked at their life and thought: ‘Is this it?’ or for anyone feeling trapped in a job, relationship or even country, or felt held back by themselves.

We also wanted to help people whose lives had become ruled by anxiety, depression, low self esteem, fear of other people’s judgement, those trapped by ‘norms’ and ‘shoulds’ or who were frozen by fear and unable to look at life as a series of opportunities.

Life_Change_Thailand_620x349.jpg

Chrissy Richman and her family in Thailand, celebrating her 50th birthday

So we developed a change program, and the concept of change holidays. I spent my spare time researching countries, immigration laws, how to set up business and schools. Our big change also included our two children, boys of 7 and 11, so it had to be brilliant for them, and good enough to allow them to learn that everything is possible.

We were to be our own first clients and test cases! We were fortunate people with good jobs and a nice house who returned from each of our two holidays a year, brimful of plans about everything we would change in our lives. We were also the ones whose plan were forgotten before our tans faded.

Starting A New Business in Thailand

This time however, we would make it happen. We had a timescale: our eldest boy finishing primary school, and for me, as I told everyone who would listen: “I’ll be leaving this job and starting our own company before I’m 50”.

It took us two years to get everything ready. We decided on Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand as a location for ourselves and called our new business The Life Change People.

We visited Chiang Mai three times, finding a great school, a partner hotel to house and take wonderful care of people who took the plunge and booked a Life Change Holiday.

We found a brilliant local attorney to handle visas and business set-up and gave in our notice at our jobs. We sold our house only to have the sale fall through four weeks before we were due to leave.

Life_Change_Chiang Mai-Thailand_620x349

This is where we shop, instead of going to supermarkets

I then cried for 24 hours, while my husband arranged for the house to be painted inside and out, got electricity certificates and took care of other legalities to arrange for us to rent it out instead.

Then I threw away the tissues and started packing crates and selling unwanted furniture in between showing rental agents round. And we also re-homed our ducks, chickens and goats.

Finally, we headed for Essex, followed by London, to say goodbye to our closest family. Our last day out as full-time UK residents was a tour of the Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal FC, which has been very dear to our families for generations. 

The photos of that day, showing the faces of our little boys, (as they were then) walking through the tunnel to ‘see’ thousands of fans screaming in expectation captures perfectly the mixture of fear and excitement that we all felt in different measures as we flew out of England the next day to begin our huge adventure.

New Beginnings

We had arranged to spend a few days in a luxury hotel in Bangkok to celebrate our new beginning. I woke the next morning to hear the opening few bars of Happy Birthday being played on my son’s ukulele followed by singing, gifts and a cake.  

This was my 50th birthday and the start of many changes for each of us personally, for our family and for hundreds of people over the next six years who have come to stay with us in Thailand and began change journeys of their own.

It seemed and still feels like a fantastic omen: a new life beginning at 50. As my seven year-old boy wrote in my birthday card: ‘Dear Mommy, you are grown up enough now to do whatever you want’. 

It’s turned out to be true.

www.thelifechangepeople.com

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Should I eat insects? Crickets go on sale at Planet Organic, grasshoppers are on the menu at Wahaca http://www.high50.com/health/edible-insects-in-the-uk-crickets-in-planet-organic-and-grasshoppers-on-menu-at-wahaca http://www.high50.com/health/edible-insects-in-the-uk-crickets-in-planet-organic-and-grasshoppers-on-menu-at-wahaca#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:00:06 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=75928
Food trends. Edible insects_Roasted scorpion 620 Photo from Stocksy

Wood-roasted scorpion is one of a few insect dishes on the menu at fine-dining Brisbane restaurant Public

The idea of insects as a sustainable food source has been seriously talked about for several years now. But blow me down with the flutter of a grasshopper’s wing if I didn’t walk in to Planet Organic recently and see packets of crickets, mealworms,  buffalo worms and grasshoppers for sale, right in between the bread aisle and the bananas.

Not disguised in any sort of product. Just bugs in a plastic pouch. Wings, legs, eyes and all. It is the first store in the UK to stock them.

Then, in last night’s final episode of BBC Two’s back in Time for Dinner, insects were shown as a food of the future.

The Robshaw family, who have been reliving Britain’s culinary history from the 1950s to present, sat down to cricket tacos and kebabs, Asian worm stir-fry and mealworm tarts.

Unsurprisingly they found these unappetising. They agreed, though, that burgers made with beef and insect protein and cookies made with cricket flour were more appealing as they couldn’t see the insects.

But unpalatable though the idea of eating insects may seem to us, more than two billion people, in four out of five countries around the world, include insects in their diet. The 1,900 species eaten include ants, wasps, bees, termites and dragonflies.

In Thailand, for example, crispy fried locusts and beetles are popular. In Mexico, grasshoppers are a delicacy, toasted with garlic, chilli, lime and salt and sold in markets.

Last year, Mexican street food restaurant Wahaca put grasshoppers (‘chapulines’) on its Southbank menu, cooked with onions and chilli, served in a tortilla and covered with cheese.

Earlier this year, Wahaca won the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Innovation Award for championing the sustainability of insect eating. It now has further insect dishes on its menu, including Chorizo and Chapulines Memela.

In case you think I’m having you on, here is Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers demonstrating how to make the dish (the crucial moment is 3.30 minutes in):

 

Insects in street food and protein bars

Over in the US, there are further attempts to get people eating insects. A handful of US start-ups is finding ways to get insects  on to the nation’s plates, supermarket aisles and streetfood vans. Products include salted chocolate crickets, waxworm blue corn tacos, and orange and ginger cookies made with cricket flour.

A company called Exo is making protein bars using flour made from crickets, saying, “We need a new source of protein, one that can sustain the world into the future. We believe that insects are one of the solutions to humanity’s protein dilemma.” Flavours include cacoa nut and blueberry vanilla. They’re not stocked in the UK (yet).

And in Tokyo, chef Rene Redzepi of Copenhagen’s Nomo (thought by many to be the best restaurant in the world), serves ants on a live shrimp as the first dish in a 15-course, three-hour tasting menu.

Health trends: three reasons not to eat kale

Why eating insects is good for the planet

In 2013, an extensive United Nations report concluded that there are many benefits to farming and eating insects, including environmental, financial and nutritional.

Insects use fewer resources than cattle to produce the same amount of protein; they create fewer greenhouse gases than animal agriculture; and are a source of nutrition.

Many see it as the answer to the growing world food crisis that has come about because of the exponential growth in Earth’s population increasing demand for food while, at the same time, harming the environment that produces it, through urbanisation and the destruction of natural resources.

Insects emit fewer greenhouse gases such as methane and ammonia than cattle or pigs, and use significantly less land and water than cattle rearing.

They also use less feed than animal agriculture. Crickets, for example, need 12 times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and half as much as chickens to produce the same amount of protein.

On average, insects convert 4.4 pounds of feed into 2.2 pounds of insect mass whereas cattle require 17.6 pounds to produce 2.2 pounds of meat.

But, if you already didn’t fancy the idea of eating them, this won’t help: they can be fed on animal, food and human waste.

Health trends: a ‘gluten-free’ label doesn’t mean it’s good for you

Nutrition from insects

Insects contain protein, fats, fibre and several minerals we need including calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc. This varies widely, though, depending on the type of insect, the habitat it lived in, what it was fed on, and what stage of metamophosis it was at.

Like most foods, the way it is is processed before you buy it and prepared by you for consumption also affects its nutritional content.

More nutritional information is needed, and research is ongoing but the composition of omega-3 and other fatty acids in mealworms, for example, is comparable with fish.

And analysis in 2013 of 200 or so species showed that many are a good source of energy and protein, amino acids (essential for the biosynthesis of proteins, which our bodies need for development and maintenance), monounstuarted or polyunsaturated fats, and micronutrients including iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc and biotin.

The protein content varies greatly between species, but some compare favourably with mammals and fish. Their protein content also depends what they were fed on (e.g. grains, vegetables or waste). For example, grasshoppers in Nigeria that were fed with bran, which contains high levels of essential fatty acids, had almost double the protein content of those fed on maize.

Health trends: should you get into fermented foods?

Why we don’t need to eat insects

Until recently, insects seemed like an inexhaustible resource. But some species are now in danger. Factors such as overharvesting, pollution, wildfire and destruction of their habitat have contributed to a decline and climate change is expected to further affect them.

Many rural people are now having to put conservation strategies and semi-cultivation practices in place to improve habitat conservation and protect insect species and their host plants.

Tim Worstall, a journalist and fellow at leading think tank Adam Smith Institute, disagrees that eating insects is essential to feed the world. He has three reasons why population growth doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a food shortage

First, he says, conventional crop yield is increasing every year and has done for decades. If this continues, food supply will grow more than the population.

Second, if cutting-edge food production technology was available in all countries, output would increase. If African production levels increased to Indian or Asian levels we’d be “awash in food”.

Third, of all the food currently produced, half is wasted, and if this could be reduced there would be no food shortage.

How to cook insects

The biggest obstacle to eating insects, though, says entomophagist (insect eater to you and me) Danielle Martin, is “the ick factor”.

She has an entire blog trying to change our minds, called Girl Meets Bug, and has written a book on the topic, Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects. In it, she investigates our squeamishness about insects as food, discovers the scientific research into their nutritional profile that is taking place, and advocates them as an efficient and sustainable food source.

So are you inspired yet? Want to know what to do with your packet of Planet Organic insects? Dutch professor of entomology Marcel Dicke to the rescue: along with two chefs, he has written The Insect Cookbook.

The prof is a leading researcher on the topic, a winner of the Dutch Nobel prize, and quite the authority on eating bugs (and he’s walking the walk: he is a former vegetarian). This is the TED talk he gave on the subject:

The full report by UN FAO: Edible Insects: Future prospects for food and feed security

UN FAO studies into edible insects

Press articles on edible insects

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We changed everything at 50: the couple who set up a life coaching holiday retreat in Thailand http://www.high50.com/life/i-changed-my-life-at-50-and-set-up-a-business-in-thailand http://www.high50.com/life/i-changed-my-life-at-50-and-set-up-a-business-in-thailand#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 14:54:48 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=75912
Life_Change_Chiang-Mai_Thailand_620x349.jpg

Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, where The Life Change People is based

I spent most of my 49th and 50th year working with my husband on a massive life change for ourselves and our family. This was not a result of unhappiness, more about a growing awareness of the courage people have to make changes in their lives.

I also had a passion developed over 20 or more years of study and training, for learning about how people do and don’t decide to make significant changes to improve their lives.

Most of my work had been in some kind of crisis intervention working in many areas including domestic abuse, self harm, people living with AIDS and those with dependencies such as drugs or alcohol.

My husband also had a counselling practise and was a lecturer in motivational psychology, particularly as part of a large body of therapeutic work on how and why people change.

Helping people change their lives

Our ‘simple’ idea was to adapt the evidence-based techniques taught by my husband to be used by people like me to support others, to anyone who looked at their life and thought: ‘Is this it?’ or for anyone feeling trapped in a job, relationship or even country, or felt held back by themselves.

We also wanted to help people whose lives had become ruled by anxiety, depression, low self esteem, fear of other people’s judgement, those trapped by ‘norms’ and ‘shoulds’ or who were frozen by fear and unable to look at life as a series of opportunities.

Life_Change_Thailand_620x349.jpg

Chrissy Richman and her family in Thailand, celebrating her 50th birthday

So we developed a change programme, and the concept of change holidays. I spent my spare time researching countries, immigration laws, how to set up business and schools. Our big change also included our two children, boys of 7 and 11, so it had to be brilliant for them, and good enough to allow them to learn that everything is possible.

We were to be our own first clients and test cases! We were fortunate people with good jobs and a nice house who returned from each of our two holidays a year, brimful of plans about everything we would change in our lives. We were also the ones whose plan were forgotten before our tans faded.

Starting a new business in Thailand

This time however, we would make it happen. We had a timescale: our eldest boy finishing primary school, and for me, as I told everyone who would listen: “I’ll be leaving this job and starting our own company before I’m 50”.

It took us two years to get everything ready. We decided on Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand as a location for ourselves and called our new business The Life Change People.

We visited Chiang Mai three times, finding a great school, a partner hotel to house and take wonderful care of people who took the plunge and booked a Life Change Holiday.

We found a brilliant local attorney to handle visas and business set-up and gave in our notice at our jobs. We sold our house only to have the sale fall through four weeks before we were due to leave.

Life_Change_Chiang Mai-Thailand_620x349

This is where we shop, instead of going to supermarkets

I then cried for 24 hours, while my husband arranged for the house to be painted inside and out, got electricity certificates and took care of other legalities to arrange for us to rent it out instead.

Then I threw away the tissues and started packing crates and selling unwanted furniture in between showing rental agents round. And we also re-homed our ducks, chickens and goats.

Finally, we headed for Essex, followed by London, to say goodbye to our closest family. Our last day out as full-time UK residents was a tour of the Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal FC, which has been very dear to our families for generations. 

The photos of that day, showing the faces of our little boys, (as they were then) walking through the tunnel to ‘see’ thousands of fans screaming in expectation captures perfectly the mixture of fear and excitement that we all felt in different measures as we flew out of England the next day to begin our huge adventure.

New beginnings

We had arranged to spend a few days in a luxury hotel in Bangkok to celebrate our new beginning. I woke the next morning to hear the opening few bars of Happy Birthday being played on my son’s ukulele followed by singing, gifts and a cake.  

This was my 50th birthday and the start of many changes for each of us personally, for our family and for hundreds of people over the next six years who have come to stay with us in Thailand and began change journeys of their own.

It seemed and still feels like a fantastic omen: a new life beginning at 50. As my seven year-old boy wrote in my birthday card: ‘Dear Mummy, you are grown up enough now to do whatever you want’. 

It’s turned out to be true.

www.thelifechangepeople.com

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