Wednesday, June 24, 2020


1. Passengers on the bus

Visualize yourself driving a big red bus. There are passengers on the bus, and as you drive around, some get on and some get off.

The passengers represent your thoughts. Now imagine yourself talking to them. This is a great way to become more mindful of your thinking, while at the same time, distancing yourself from your thoughts.

What you need to remember is that you are the driver of this bus, the one who calls the shots. The passengers are only temporary. They will come and go.

By doing so, you can take control of the bus — your mind-bus — by saying things such as,

“Thank you for your feedback, but this is my bus,” or “Hey, this is your stop, time to get off.”

You can use this technique for any type of negative thinking, but research shows it is particularly effective for improving self-control.

2. Clouds in the sky

Imagine your thoughts as clouds floating through the sky. Sometimes they’re dark and angry, sometimes they’re light and calm. But you are not the clouds.

You are the blue sky who notices the clouds, without engaging. You simply observe them until they pass. This is the practice of self-observation, which means mindfully observing how you think.

Consider this example. If I asked you what you were thinking, you might notice that you’re kicking yourself over a missed opportunity, worrying about money, or calling yourself stupid. The idea is to take a step back and observe these thoughts until they will pass. The good news is — they will pass. Everything passes, good and bad.

When you practice this regularly, you will create a sense of detachment when challenging thoughts arise. More and more, you’ll realise you are not your thoughts, and instead of feeling overwhelmed, there will be a space, and you will be able to respond in a rational manner.

3. First and second darts

First darts are inescapable pains that life throws at us.

It might be a tough breakup, a lost opportunity, or the death of a loved one. These unavoidable pains are the essence of human existence, and if you live and love, some of these will fall on your doorstep.

In reality, however, most of our problems are not caused by first darts. They are caused by how we respond to them.

Second darts are the darts we throw at ourselves.

These are our reactions to first darts, and this is the source of much of our suffering.

These second dart reactions are more common than you think.

How often have you argued with your boss, before you’ve even gotten out of the shower?

How many times have you brought the morning traffic into work?

How often have you brought work frustrations home for dinner?

This is the essence of suffering, secondary reactions to painful events, which are often more destructive than the original experience.

Next time you recognise first darts, instead of resisting them, you should accept them completely. If you do get stuck in traffic, or frustrated in work, accept it and move on because it’s our resistance to pain that causes our suffering.

Take away message

By holding the most truth in the least amount of space, metaphors can help you to cope with abstract psychological concepts such as overthinking.

Next time your mind is busy, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed. You could kick those troublesome passengers off the bus. You could observe those dark angry clouds as they float by — without engaging. Or you could accept those first darts before they turn into suffering.

You can’t stop thinking, no matter how hard you try, but you can distance yourself from problematic thoughts — then they won’t feel so loud.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Brassica oleracea aka Broccoli 🥦

It's no coincidence that more than 300 research studies on broccoli have converged in one unique area of health science—the development of cancer—and its relationship to three metabolic problems in the body. Those three problems are (1) chronic inflammation (2) oxidative stress, and (3) inadequate detoxification. While these types of problems have yet to become part of the public health spotlight, they are essential to understanding broccoli's unique health benefits. Over the past 10 years, research has made it clear that our risk of cancer in several different organ systems is related to the combination of these three problems.

The Cancer/Inflammation/Oxidative Stress/Detox Connection

In health science research, there is a growing body of evidence relating cancer risk to a series of environmental, dietary, and body system factors. Understanding this set of factors can be very helpful in making sense of broccoli and its health benefits.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Broccoli

When threatened with dangerous levels of potential toxins, or dangerous numbers of overly-reactive, oxygen-containing molecules, signals are sent within our body to our inflammatory system, directing it to "kick in" and help protect our body from potential damage. One key signaling device is a molecule called Nf-kappaB. When faced with the type of dangers described above, the NF-kappaB signaling system is used to "rev up" our inflammatory response and increase production of inflammatory components (for example, IL-6, IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, iNOS and COX-2). This process works beautifully in temporary, short-term circumstances when healing from injury is required. When it continues indefinitely at a constant pace, however, it can put us at risk for serious health problems, including the development of cancer.

Isothiocyanates (ITCs) in Broccoli

Research studies have made it clear that the NF-kappaB signaling system that is used to "rev up" our inflammatory response can be significantly suppressed by isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITCs—the compounds made from glucosinolates found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables—actually help to shut down the genetic machinery used to produce NF-kappaB and other components of the inflammatory system. These anti-inflammatory benefits of ITCs have been clearly demonstrated in lab and animal studies. However, it can sometimes be tricky to translate the results of these lab and animal studies in practical take-away recommendations for everyday eating.

The primary anti-inflammatory ITC provided by broccoli is sulforaphane. This ITC can be directly produced from broccoli's glucoraphanin content. Numerous anti-inflammatory mechanisms for sulforaphane are well known, including inactivation of the NF-kappa B pathway. In this context, it is interesting to note that the predominance of sulforaphane in broccoli is limited to the heading version of this vegetable. Also widely enjoyed worldwide is "non-heading" broccoli, often called sprouting broccoli, broccoli raab, broccoli rabe, or rapini. In these non-heading varieties of broccoli, iberin is the most common ITC, and it is derived from glucoiberin, which is one of the more common glucosinolates in non-heading broccoli). Yet another anti-inflammatory compound present in both heading and non-heading varieties of broccoli is glucobrassicin. (And in this case the corresponding ITC derived from glucobrassicin is indole-3-carbinol.)

Omega-3s in Broccoli

Lack of omega-3 fat is dietary problem that can cause over-activation of the inflammatory system. The reason is simple: many key anti-inflammatory messaging molecules (like PGH3, TXA3, PGI3, and LTE5) are made from omega-3 fats. While we are not accustomed to thinking about non-fatty vegetables as sources of omega-3 fats, it would probably be a good idea for us to change our thinking in this area. While there are limited amounts of omega-3s in low-fat vegetables like broccoli, it is equally true that their levels of omega-3s can still play an important role in balancing our inflammatory system activity. In 100 calories' worth of broccoli (about 2 cups) there are approximately 400 milligrams of omega-3s (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA). That amount of ALA falls into the same general ballpark as the amount provided by one soft gel capsule of flax oil. While we would not want to depend on broccoli as our sole source of dietary omega-3s, we still get important anti-inflammatory benefits from the omega-3s it provides.

Other Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Broccoli

Broccoli is a rich source of one particular phytonutrient (a flavonol) called kaempferol. Especially inside of our digestive tract, kaempferol has the ability to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances (by lowering the immune system's production of IgE-antibodies). By lessening the impact of allergy-related substances, the kaempferol in broccoli can help lower our risk of chronic inflammation.

Broccoli's Antioxidant Benefits

Vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients all contribute to the antioxidant benefits provided by our food. Broccoli is a premiere example of a vegetable providing all three types of antioxidants. In the vitamin category, among all 100 of our WHFoods, broccoli represents our 3rd best source of vitamin C,10th best source of vitamin E, and 16th best source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). It also serves as our top source of chromium, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of selenium and zinc. But it is the phytonutrient category in which broccoli's antioxidant benefits stand out. Concentrated in broccoli are flavonoids like kaempferol and quercetin. Also concentrated are the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. All three of these carotenoids function as key antioxidants. In the case of lutein and beta-carotene, broccoli has been shown not only to provide significant amounts of these antioxidants but to significantly increase their blood levels when consumed in the amount of 2-3 cups per day.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

UK HMRC Codes 2020 -21

BR: You have a second job or pension that is taxed at 20 per cent.

C: You pay the rate of income tax in Wales.

D0: Income from this source is taxed at the higher rate: 40 per cent.

D1: Income from this source is taxed at 45 per cent.

L: You are entitled to the personal tax-free allowance of £12,500 and no more.

K: You have a negative amount of personal allowance, possibly because of other income, taxable benefits from your employer and money you owe HMRC.

M: Your spouse or civil partner has transferred 10 per cent of his or her £12,500 (£1,250) personal allowance to you, known as the Marriage Allowance, reducing your tax bill by £250.

N: The other way round — you have transferred 10 per cent of your allowance to your partner.

NT: You pay no tax on any of your income.

0T: All your income is taxed. You could get this if you have change jobs and have not had a P45 showing how much tax you have paid so far this year.

S: Your income or pension is taxed at the Scottish rate.

T: Your tax code requires other calculations to work out your current personal allowance.

W1 or M1: Emergency tax code. HMRC needs more information.

More Details here

Monday, May 18, 2020

Pizza in a pan

Recipe from Waitrose Cooking School. Serves 2-4 (2 x 30cm pizzas) | prep time: 20 minutes + proving | cook time: 15 minutes

See the source image


For the dough 

  • 7g dried active yeast
  • ½ tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tbsp fine sea salt

For the pizza

  • 1 x batch tomato sauce
  • ½ x 250g pack grated mozzarella / any cheese you like 
  • 150g pack essential  Italian mozzarella cherries, halved / any fruit you like
  • ¼ x 25g pack basil, leaves only ( Optional if you dont like it)
  • ½ tbsp olive oil ( Use alternative oil like Coconut / Mustard) 


  1. To make the dough, mix the yeast, sugar, and olive oil with 325ml of warm water and leave to stand for 2-3 minutes until the yeast is totally dissolved.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and mix to bring together.
  3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until you have a smooth elastic dough. Place in a large flour-dusted bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 45-60 minutes until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250℃ fan and place a flat oven tray or pizza stone on the middle shelf.
  5. Place a non-stick pan on a high heat.
  6. Divide the dough into 3 and shape into a small ball. Dust the surface of the dough generously with semolina and press the dough, flattening using your hand until you have a round even shape.
  7. Pick the dough up and stretch it out, rotating as you go to maintain a round shape. Place the dough on the surface so it catches the semolina on the bottom then carefully place into the hot frying pan.
  8. Spread 3-4 tbsp of the tomato sauce evenly over the base. Sprinkle over the grated mozzarella, mozzarella balls and half of the basil leaves, then drizzle with the oil.
  9. Place in the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes until the base is golden and crisp and the toppings are melted. Scatter the remaining basil on top and serve.

Chef's tip

Use this recipe as a base for creating your own pizza - try adding olives, anchovies, capers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, cooked ham, spicy salami, gorgonzola, ricotta or any of your favourite toppings. Parma ham and rocket is delicious scattered over the pizza after it's cooked.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Sweet Roll


150ml lukewarm milk
5g instant or dry yeast
One egg
300g bread flour
Pinch of salt
50g cream cheese
1. Put everything in a stand mixer, using the dough hook and mix it on a low speed for 15 minutes.
2. Take it out and form a round ball, put it into a bowl and proof for 60 minutes or until it is double the size.
3. Divide it into 12 equal balls.
4. Proof it for a second time for 45-60 minutes.
5. Sprinkle some flour on top and bake at 160 degrees Celsius in a fan force oven for 15 minutes. 
6. Remove and enjoy warm. 


Friday, May 8, 2020

We will meet again

Lyrics to Dame Vera Lynn's wartime classic.

We'll meet again

Don't know where

Don't know when

But I know we'll meet

again some sunny day

Keep smiling through

Just like you always do

'Til the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away

So will you please

say 'Hello'

To the folks that I know?

Tell them I won't be long

They'll be happy to know

That as you saw me go

I was singing this song

We'll meet again

Don't know where

Don't know when

But I know we'll meet

again some sunny day


Monday, May 4, 2020

Oma Water / Ajwain Water

Ajwain water for Babies and Kids

Oma water is an ayurvedic marvel, especially for women.

It cures the problem of indigestion for pregnant ladies by cleaning the uterus and stomach and solves the issue of irregular periods. 

Oma water is also often given to babies to reduce the problem of gas that causes discomfort. 

To prepare oma water, boil 2 teaspoons of roasted ajwain/Carom seeds in water.

Strain this mixture and drink. 

You can add 1 teaspoon of honey for flavour. 

Drinking ajwain water regularly is known to enhance your rate of metabolism, burns fat and thus helps in losing weight.

If you suffer from chronic flatulence, then drinking Ajwain water regularly can help with the condition

Thymol present in Ajwain seeds, helps release gastric juices in the stomach thereby accelerating the process of digestion.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Virtual museum visits

British Museum, London

This iconic museum located in the heart of London allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies. You can also find hundreds of artifacts on the museum’s virtual tour.

Guggenheim Museum, New York

Google’s Street View feature lets visitors tour the Guggenheim’s famous spiral staircase without ever leaving home. From there, you can discover incredible works of art from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary eras.

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

This famous American art museum features two online exhibits through Google. The first is an exhibit of American fashion from 1740 to 1895, including many renderings of clothes from the colonial and Revolutionary eras. The second is a collection of works from Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer.

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

You can virtually walk through this popular gallery that houses dozens of famous works from French artists who worked and lived between 1848 and 1914. Get a peek at artworks from Monet, Cézanne, and Gauguin, among others.

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul

One of Korea’s popular museums can be accessed from anywhere around the world. Google’s virtual tour takes you through six floors of Contemporary art from Korea and all over the globe.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin

As one of Germany’s largest museums, Pergamon has a lot to offer – even if you can’t physically be there. This historical museum is home to plenty of ancient artifacts including the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and, of course, the Pergamon Altar.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Explore the masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age, including works from Vermeer and Rembrandt. Google offers a Street View tour of this iconic museum, so you can feel as if you’re actually wandering its halls.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Anyone who is a fan of this tragic, ingenious painter can see his works up close (or, almost up close) by virtually visiting this museum – the largest collection of artworks by Vincent van Gogh, including over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and over 750 personal letters.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

European artworks from as far back as the 8th Century can be found in this California art museum. Take a Street View tour to discover a huge collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, manuscripts, and photographs.

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

This less well-known gallery houses the art collection of one of Florence, Italy’s most famous families, the de'Medicis. The building was designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 specifically for Cosimo I de'Medici, but anyone can wander its halls from anywhere in the world.

MASP, São Paulo

The Museu de Arte de São Paulo is a non-profit and Brazil’s first modern museum. Artworks placed on clear perspex frames make it seem like the artwork is hovering in midair. Take a virtual tour to experience the wondrous display for yourself.

National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

Built in 1964, this museum is dedicated to the archaeology and history of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic heritage. There are 23 exhibit rooms filled with ancient artifacts, including some from the Mayan civilization.

Sadly, not all popular art museums and galleries could be included on Google Arts & Culture’s collection, but some museums are taking it upon themselves to offer online visits. According to Fast Company, the Louvre also offers virtual tours on its website.
To see more of Google Arts & Culture’s collection of museums, visit the collection’s website. There are thousands of museum Street Views on Google as well. Google Arts & Culture also has an online experience for exploring famous historic and cultural heritage sites.

Friday, April 3, 2020


Setting a daily routine and good habits
Being at home all week is very new to some of us. Hopefully by now you have organised your workspace to make it ergonomic, in line with Health and Safety guidance. Following that, it’s important to get into a routine and rhythm.
  • Start your day as if you were going into the office – it helps you establish a morning routine and become more mentally ready for the workday
  • Remember to take breaks – it can be easy to become absorbed in what you’re doing, but ensure you take regular breaks, stand up, stretch, make a drink, check on your pets – anything to step away from your workspace. You should also enjoy your lunch away from your workstation
  • Make a list and plan your daily work activities – just as it does in the office, this will help you stay on track, remain focused and help you maintain momentum
  • Stop working – you can’t ‘leave’ work when you’re working from home, so ensure that you wrap up and stop for the day. If you’re working in a communal space such as at the dining table, you may like to pack up your workstation at the end of the day or week to create a physical distance from work and allow yourself to ‘switch off’
You may also experience a distinct lack of physical activity, you’re no longer walking to the station or office, doing the school run and other daily activities that add to your step count, so make sure you step away from your chair for some outdoor or indoor exercise (in line with local guidance).
  • Couch to 5k programme – a light jog or gentle run can help clear your head, increase endorphins and improve your mood. If you’re new to jogging, download this app and get started. You can also use this app indoors on a treadmill, elliptical or similar machine
  • Yoga – if you feel a bit sore after a day at your desk, yoga can be a great way to stretch out your muscles and recalibrate your posture. Yoga with Adriene covers many classes of various abilities, you could start with the 30 days of Yoga series
  • Cardio – if you prefer more high-energy cardio, find a variety of cardio, dance and pilates workouts on this YouTube channel. Joe Wicks 'The Body Coach' also has many home workouts you can follow for various abilities including a more gentle series for seniors and a daily workout for children