Life Is Like A Bicycle

That great US Statesman Claude Pepper once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. You don’t fall off unless you plan to stop pedaling.”

Well, I don’t plan to stop pedaling any time soon and last week something rather exciting happened to me.  As a mature woman I took possession of a new bike…possibly only the 4th bike I’ve ever owned!  Cycling at my age is still an option, only riding my new bike is somewhat different from previous “wheels” because it is motorized!

Styles of bicycles change over the years, but cycling is timeless and my super new white bike (with green trimmings of course) is what the cycling trade call an eBike by GTech [I bought it online as I do or most things nowadays]! It looks like rides like a conventional mountain bike, but has an added boost of electric power which gives me an extra push.  This “push” reminds me of when as a little girl my Dad would give my back that little extra “power push” as I wobbled off on my first 2 wheeler bike.

My new bike is just so thrilling to ride pedaling like on a conventional bike but making the ride easier by giving that extra boost of power when needed, such as up and down hilly slopes.  It’s suitable for young and old alike with its electric power helping one travel for longer and making the journey enjoyable.

At first I was concerned that my new form of transport would not do the job of helping me to keep fit.  However, it is such a pleasurable experience that I get on my Ebike two to three times more often, riding out in the fresh air fearlessly covering longer distances than I did on my conventional mountain bike. I can go fast if required thanks to its small light motor. This doesn’t make the bike at all heavy and its light enough for me to carry up my front steps. The electric motor’s detachable battery comes inside with me, to re-charge in the kitchen alongside my mobile phone. How 21st century am I?

As I’ve proudly pedaled along on my new GTech eBike I’ve met several people for whom manual cycling had become too painful because of arthritis, back, knee problems and hip replacements. In their 60’s and 70’s they have all splashed out on eBikes. They love the freedom of cycling, feel fit and tell me their electric bikes are the best thing ever because they can now cycle further without pain.

It goes without saying that we were all wearing safety helmets and reflective jackets. You don’t get older without getting wiser!

Q1 – Skin tags

Please can you advise me what to do with a couple of small flesh coloured growths that are hanging off my skin? One is on my neck and the other in my armpit. They don’t hurt but I really dislike them and they don’t look very nice! Jennifer Armitage…Salisbury

A1 – Skin tags

Well Jennifer, I do understand your concerns. But, skin tags (acrochordons) are small harmless growths that look similar to warts; they are very common, knobbly and hang off the skin, whereas warts are usually flat. They’re particularly common in older people and people with diabetes.  Pregnant women may develop skin tags, caused by changes in their hormone levels.

Mostly flesh coloured or brown they vary in size from a few millimeters up to 5cm wide and are often found on the neck, armpits, under the breasts or around the groin, under the folds of the buttocks or on eyelids.

Overweight people with excess folds of skin and skin chafing, may develop tags where skin rubs against skin – or clothing. Skin tags are harmless and don’t usually cause pain or discomfort.  If skin tags are small with a narrow base it’s possible to remove them yourself, by tying off the base of the tag with dental floss or cotton thread. This cuts off its blood supply and makes it drop off.  Or you could cut it off with fine sterile scissors.

Some skin tags die from a lack of blood supply and just fall off if the tissue has twisted. Don’t attempt to remove large skin tags yourself, they will bleed heavily.  They can easily be burnt or frozen off so talk to your GP for advice. However, removing skin tags is regarded as cosmetic surgery and rarely available through the NHS. The NHS will only carry out cosmetic surgery procedures if the problem is affecting your physical or mental health.

If the unsightly tags are upsetting you, or snag on clothing, Jewellery and bleed, you may still want them removed. You usually need to pay for this procedure so consider making an appointment with a privately practicing GP. Sometimes they can be surgically removed using a local anesthetic.

Q2 – Comfortable house shoes

Dear Diana, I work from home and spend a good part of my weekdays around the house. I’m also a fidget so leave my desk 100 times a day to do little jobs around the house, up and down stairs, etc.   I tend to wear slippers for comfort but I’m realising this is not good for my feet. My home is cool, even in summer, so I’m looking for a recommendation for a ‘house shoe’.  Here is my wish list. Kind regards, Anna Everitt …. Bristol


  • Comfortable – for all day wear
  • Supportive – for all day wear
  • Suitable to wear socks with

Nice to have;

  • Modern style (neutral and inconspicuous)
  • Light outdoor use for taking bins out
  • Washable

A2 – Comfortable house shoes

Phew!  Anne this is a bit of a tall order but I have a few suggestions.  Like you I work from home spending my time at the PC and taking regular breaks to do a few chores around the house and garden.  Consequently, my requirements are somewhat similar to yours so I look for shoes made of natural, supple, durable leather with a fabric lining.  Leather allows the foot to breathe and can provide long term comfort and gentle support.  Shoes need to have a generous space in which to be able to spread your toes naturally, with soles that are shock absorbing, non-slip and provide underfoot cushioning.  Probably like you I don high heels and dress up for special occasions or conversely fall into the habit of slopping around the house in non-supporting “ballet type” light, flat shoes.

Neither shoe is good for feet if worn over long periods and both can cause back pain, so look instead for comfortable shoes with posture correct heel height to encourage a good walking position.  Feet vary in both length and width, but happily many of the great shoes around this season have adjustable Velcro fastenings or laces to ensure a great fit.  These comfort shoes are no longer just practical and fuddy duddy, but come in exciting colours and designs to suit most tastes and can look great with both trousers and skirts. The best selection of shoes and sandals I have discovered recently are by Padders, Hotters and Clarks.  Happy ambling!

Great Posture Never Goes Out of Style

Diana Moran – The Lady 21st April 2016 – Great posture never goes out of style.

“Jane reminds us that God is in his heaven, the monarch on his throne and the pelvis firmly beneath the ribcage. Apparently rock and roll liberated the pelvis and it hasn’t been the same since” says the delightful Emma Thompson on her heroine – Jane Austen.

Our posture is the position in which we hold our body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. But if like me you sometimes stand or sit incorrectly the result is a headache or back pain! Ouch. Our bodies were designed to move with rhythm and ease, just watch a good gardener scything through tall grass, his whole body moving in harmony and natural grace. Sitting down is something we do to take the weight off our feet, but our daily routine should be a mixture of sitting, standing and moving. But, the style and pace of our modern life makes it difficult to maintain this balance, so we spend much of our time hunched up over a desk peering at a screen or driving long distances straining our eyes, with pain and discomfort resulting from these uncomfortable postures.  We need to retrain our bodies to sit and to stand correctly.

Correcting our posture can feel awkward at first because our body has become used to our bad habits, but with correct posture and our body in good alignment we can alleviate headaches, back or neck pain, and fatigue.  Every morning I stretch for 10 minutes, checking any pains or strains before I start the day. And good posture involves training our bodies to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where less strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments.  Strength and flexibility exercises correct muscle imbalances, improve body awareness, makes our backs strong and resilient and alleviate muscle tension.  Standing (or sitting) tall will boost your bearing and self-confidence and help you look and feel younger! Great posture never goes out of style.


My 80-year-old mother suffers from osteoporosis.   She recently fell and broke her hip and is in danger of losing her physical independence.   I’ve heard that osteoporosis can run in families.   Is this true?   If so what can I do to avoid it?  Anne D – Berkshire


Dear Anne, I’m sorry to learn of your mother’s accident.   Osteoporosis – fragile bone disease affects 3 million people in the UK.  1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men will break a bone mainly as a result of poor bone health.

However, in many cases it is a preventable disease, and not just a consequence of growing older.  Look at your lifestyle. Does it include a well-balanced diet containing plenty of calcium plus vitamin D to build strong bones, and regular weight bearing exercise? This changes have been found to help prevent the disease.   Some women are more at risk genetically and you need to be aware of this.   So, Anne, please consult your doctor.   He may recommend a change in lifestyle, HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or specialized drugs to slow down bone loss and maintain bone density.   Talk to your Doctor about your bone density.  It can be monitored with a bone scan (Dexa) screening although it’s not always available on the NHS.  Alternatively, you could contact a private clinic that would perform a bone scan for a fee. Good luck Anne and for more information


As the years go by I find I need to eat less than I used to.   What are your Golden rules (or should I say Green rules) for a healthy eating plan as we get older? Margaret P – London


Dear Margaret, don’t worry! As we age we can make more of our lives by eating a healthy well balanced diet, it’s that simple! A poor diet can all too often be linked to certain preventable diseases or conditions.  For example, an excess of sugary foods leads to tooth decay and obesity, too much fat in the diet contributes to heart disease whilst too little fibre causes constipation and possible cancer of the colon and bowel. Eating too much of the wrong foods makes the skin, especially on the face, pallid and spotty.

Let’s not forget we eat to give our bodies energy in order to function.   All foods and drinks contain calories which are a measure of energy needed for our body to function and to repair.  The main sources of energy come from Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats.   Many people need less food and those excess calories simply get stored up as unsightly fat deposits around our bodies! So what foods should we be eating?  Well I like to keep things simple, so let’s cut through the maze of advice and look at my basic rules for a well-balanced and nutritious diet.

Eat less of the 3 S’s

  • LESS Saturated fats (Cut down on the amount of red meat by substituting chicken or fish).
  • LESS Sugar
  • LESS Salt

Eat more of the 3 F’s

  • MORE Fish
  • MORE Fibre (Fibre helps improve the digestion)
  • MORE Fruits and vegetables

It’s that simple Margaret – I look forward to knowing how you get on!

Friendship – The Secret to A Longer Life

The harsh reality of life for us females in the 21st century is the need to work hard and for longer if we want to enjoy the extended longevity of life. Maintaining good health is an important tool in order for us to succeed, so we need to learn how to help ourselves by tackling some of the issues which affect our wellbeing, such as physical and mental fitness, nutrition and relationships.  Of course working hard is important, but so too is playing hard, and we need to get the balance right if we are to keep fit and be well.   Play mates, whether they are male or female can play their part too in keeping us happy, healthy and wise.

I think a true friendship is one of the most important relationships we can have with another person. Some people will be fortunate to remain close friends forever throughout life.  I make a great effort to keep up the relationships I share with my special old friends, and try to make them aware of how lucky I feel for having them beside me, through both the good and bad times. I enjoy telling those special friends how much I care about them, and express my joy at having them in my life, and how I cherish our relationships both night and day.

Life is full of physical, emotional and mental challenges and the knowledge that we are not alone is important to us all, whatever our age. The old saying “A problem shared is a problem halved” is so true.  Bottling up emotion and worry can be seriously detrimental to our health and simply talking through our concerns can make all the difference to one’s state of mind.   Although many of us have families who would listen to us, we often would prefer to shield them from our worries and concerns.

With some friends we sense that our souls are closely connected, and as soul mates we know that wherever we are, whatever we do or whatever we say – they’ll be there for us – to listen and still remain friends.  I am sure you have many good friends but because of distance you are unable to talk as often as you would like to.  However, when you do it’s quite remarkable how you are able to pick up straight away where you may have left off years ago.  Perhaps this is what’s meant by “Forever Friends”!

Question 1 – SUMMER LEGS

I am looking down at my legs in despair; they haven’t seen the light of day since last summer.  Do you have any tips on how I can make them look half reasonable for my summer holiday which is in a month’s time? Maureen Chilcott – Edinburgh

Answer 1

You can help your poor pins by giving them a little TLC!  Start by removing unsightly hair, and then exfoliate by giving them a good scrubbing to remove dry scaly skin.  An old fashioned “loofah” does a good job, towel dry and pile on a nourishing skin cream. If you have cellulite use one of the special brand creams containing caffeine and anti-oxidants to target the problem areas. When applying any creams or lotions massage the whole length of legs, starting from toes and working upwards with sweeping strokes, to boost circulation and reduce water retention.

It’s never been easier to give your legs a healthy glow and by simply using a fake tan avoiding skin damage from the sun’s rays. Some products can be applied professionally in the beauty salon, it’s not cheap but the results are worth it.

Other self-tanning products can be applied at home before going to bed.  They are colourless, dry quickly and give spectacular results by morning without ruining your bed linen.  Some well-known brands of moisturisers also contain a gentle fake tan, which applied daily will build up to transform your pale legs with a subtle glow. Look out for the latest self-tan products which come in the form of in-shower tanning lotions to give you a glowing pair of pins the moment you step out!

Question 2 – MAKE UP TIPS

Diana I have been so busy bringing up my family for the past 10 years and have neglected myself, particular my looks.  I’ve lost my confidence and am now totally stupid when it comes to applying makeup.   Do you have any tips to help me? After so long I feel I need to learn and start all over again! Jennifer McNally…Swindon

Answer 2 

Always make up in daylight if possible. Overhead lights cast downward shadows and if the light is behind you, you can’t see enough. Get into a good routine.  Start with moisturising day cream or a simple tinted moisturiser containing SPF (sun protection factor). And that’s it!   Or, if you are more adventurous, use a foundation matching your skin colour (or blend two colours together if you can’t find a good match).

Squeeze a small amount into palm of hand, apply sparingly with tips of fingers. Now for a concealer, best applied with brush, around eyes, spots, high colour and blemishes. Pat into place. Maybe finish with a light dusting of loose powder, but avoid crow’s feet and smoking lines, (powder accentuates them).  Less is best!

If you’re brave, experiment with colour.  Use blush (powder, cream or tube) apply to “apple” of your cheek for a healthy glow.  Coloured eyeshadow can flatter and “bring out” eyes.  Apply with fingertip or brush, but don’t overdo it (avoid shiny eyeshadow).  Accentuate eyes further with eyeliner and mascara.  Brown is kinder than black especially if you are not used to make up. However waterproof mascara is difficult to remove and harsh make up removers may break lashes.

Well shaped eyebrows complete grooming so tame, comb and define. Finally use a lip liner pencil to draw shape, fill in with a flattering colour, or simply lip gloss or jelly for a more natural look.

Have fun Jennifer and wait for the compliments!

Beauty Really Is Skin Deep

Some years ago when I was writing a book about ways to avoid premature ageing I was amused to read a quote by Erwin Tschachler, a Professor of Dermatology who said “Ideally we should do a study of ageing in a Nunnery, with subjects who have stayed out of the sun and subjects who have lived their lives without vices”!

Sounds a bit boring to me but I get his point!  Skin reflects our lifestyle and some of us succumb to vices such as smoking, excess alcohol and processed foods.  However, stress and lack of sleep, certain medications, inactivity and over exposure to the sun all contribute to the ageing process. Our skin is the body’s only external organ, protecting what is inside and keeping harmful things on the outside.  It effectively retains essential fluids, protects internal organs, resists infections and acts as a physical barrier to damage.

We spend a lot of time and money worrying about the top layer of skin, the epidermis, which we see daily in the mirror.   But skin has 2 more layers, the middle dermis and lower hypodermis. And beauty really is skin deep, because what goes on below the surface in the dermis and hypodermis is what really matters. These lower layers contain hair follicles, nerve endings, connective tissue, blood vessels, sebaceous and sweat glands, and collagen fibres. This is where the skin process begins, with new cells being constantly formed and renewed.  It takes approximately 30 days for these new cells to find their way up from the lower layers to the top layer.

What we see in the mirror when they finally reach the skins surface are old cells, which are then shed naturally in a continuous process.  But the older we get the longer this process takes!  So what’s new? The most damaging factor is over exposure to the sun which affects the skin cells causing cell damage, but also poses health threats including skin cancers.  The effects from the sunburn may not be visible for years (40 years in my case) but harmful rays will have done their damage.   I learnt the hard way to protect my skin, particularly sensitive facial skin from sun’s harmful rays and pollutants. I use sunscreen containing SPF 15 (sun protection factor).  I consider higher than SPF 30 or extreme sun block unnecessary as we all need some sunlight (Vit D) to protect us from osteoporosis

Beauty can be ageless, it depends on knowing what your body and skin needs most.  Adequate sleep speeds the healing process, and nourishing maintains it helping us look and feel our best. “We can’t beat Old Father Time – no but some women drive a mighty close bargain with him”


When I brush my teeth I have noticed that my gums have become incredibly sensitive, and often hurt for a while after brushing. They don’t bleed but it has become quite an annoyance. Are there any toothpastes I could buy without irritating ingredients? Do you have any other suggestions?

Francis Hird, Cambridge


Francis making simple changes such as using desensitizing toothpaste and brushing less vigorously could make a difference.  Many types of toothpaste contain harmful chemicals so I personally use Sensodyne toothpaste specially designed for sensitive teeth. Brushing after we have been eating or drinking acidic foods which soften and make our teeth more vulnerable, may cause the enamel to be more easily worn away. Maybe you are one of those people who often grind your teeth during the day or more usually during sleep?  If yes, this can expose the lower layer of dentine making the teeth more sensitive. Gum disease (Gingivitis) can also cause receding gums and if left untreated can lead to Peritonitis which damages tissue and the bone supporting your teeth.  Francis your symptoms could be more than just a nuisance, because receding gums leave dentine exposed making the teeth very sensitive.  I think it’s time to pay your Dentist a visit to be sure your tooth pain is not the result of a more serious condition. Keep smiling!


During a recent holiday to Crete my husband noticed that the whites of my eyes had developed a slightly yellowish tinge. That was a month ago now and my eyes still haven’t returned to normal. My sight hasn’t been affected and the colour change is minimal but noticeable to me. I am 51; could this be a side effect of the menopause?

Rona Gower, Cheltenham


Well Rona, by co-incidence I have just read the result of a small study claiming a link between yellow eyes and Menopausal 50-59-year-old women who had been taking Hormone replacement therapy, or Prempro.  I will look out for further studies.

But normally the whites of eyes or sclera are white in colour, but one can get yellow sclera (also called scleral icterus) caused by a high level of bilirubin in the bloodstream.  Bilirubin is made in the liver and is yellow in colour.  If a person suffers from liver disease, the liver can no longer process the breakdown of red blood cells and bilirubin, its natural metabolic product, and no longer enters the bile. Instead it builds up in the blood and tissues, including the sclera of the eyes.

One of the first signs is yellowing, probably caused by blocked bile ducts, leading to a backup of bilirubin.  More seriously it could be a sign of Cirrhosis of the liver due to an excess of alcohol damaging the liver. Or Hepatitis, caused by toxins – but most commonly by a virus that infects the liver, resulting in its dysfunction. Bilirubin backs up and the individual will suffer from jaundice.  Rona, since your eyes have been affected for over a month I would advise you to drink plenty of water and to talk to your GP mentioning any medications you may be taking.

Be Happy, Healthy and Wise

Fitness is an attitude of mind; I believe “Age is mind over Matter” and if you don’t mind it doesn’t matter!  Ageing is inevitable, a depressing thought and nothing we can do about it, or is there? No, we can’t add years to life but we can add “life” to the years we have!  Maintaining good health enables us to pursue ambitions, hopes and dreams with many older people continuing to lead interesting lives.  Feeling well helps us enjoy the increase in longevity by giving us a sense of wellbeing, relaxation and confidence.

Being fit is being able to do the things you want to do, when you want to do them.  Maintaining fitness should be a necessity of life, not an option! People who get it right may experience a decrease of some physical ability in their 60’s whilst others not at all! Many individuals enter advanced old age still performing at the level of younger adults.

Pensioners now outnumber children for the first time in British history. “Grey power” is growing and without the social and economic restrictions of the past, have the opportunity to travel, make new relationships or continue with further education, irrespective of age, gender, colour, class or creed. So youth had better start realising that there is life after sixty!

Ageing and inability is not the same thing, trouble is today we use our brain instead of our brawn, to the detriment of our physical wellbeing. We sit around too much in work and home, with heart disease, joint problems, osteoporosis and digestive disorders the end results. We need to get out of the habit of disguising physical and some mental problems as “just old age creeping on”.

Recent research by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that just 10 minutes brisk walking also improves one’s mental state by increasing self-esteem and reducing stress and anxiety. It concluded that people who regularly exercise have a 20 – 30% lower risk of depression and dementia. When we’re active chemicals called endorphins are released giving us the “feel good” factor.

Wellbeing is not just about the Body, it’s about the Mind and Spirit too. Being socially active can help reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety, stress and worry.  So get out there, and get chatting. Talking through personal worries with others can half a problem, or at least put it into perspective!

Question 1

Sometimes I find myself falling asleep at say 20:00 and sleeping straight through till 07:00. After waking up I often feel as if I haven’t slept at all. My husband says I should just let myself sleep, but surely sleeping for so long cannot be good for you? I usually force myself to stay awake until 23:00 when I feel it’s acceptable to go to bed. Is there a natural way to help me stay awake? I have tried coffee.

Lucinda O’Brien, Kent

Answer 1

You think this is a problem? Well I say “who could be so lucky”; most of us would love the ability to sleep so well and for so long. According to the NHS most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night and you can set a regular bedtime schedule by working out what time you need to wake up. It would appear that your body needs those 9 hours!

Most people will envy you, winding down is a critical stage in preparing for bed and you would appear to be an expert! Personally I find that writing my “to do” list for the next day organises my thoughts.  It clears my mind and a few relaxation yoga type stretches helps relax my muscles. Exercising vigorously has the opposite effect.

For some a favourite way of relaxing is taking a warm bath (not hot), which helps the body reach a temperature that’s ideal for rest. Reading a book, listening to the radio, or gentle hypnotic music and sound effects will calm and relax others.

So Lucinda enjoy your sleep and appreciate just how lucky you are!

.Question 2

Recently I have noticed that my hands have become awfully dry and are peeling. I don’t use moisturizer as I have never had this problem before. Due to my job I have to wash my hands several times a day with antibacterial scrub and hot water. The peeling is rather embarrassing. Can you advise any solution?

Emma Hammerfield, Sutherland

 Answer 2


Emma you don’t say what your job is, but friends of mine in food preparation, hairdressing and nursing complain of dermatitis.  Avoid contact with detergents and other strong cleansing agents or use plastic gloves. Don’t apply hair lotion, hair cream or hair dye, or peel or squeeze oranges, lemons or grapefruit with bare hands. Wear gloves for chopping raw food, especially onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes and raw chicken.  Avoid direct contact with metal, wax, shoe, floor, furniture and window polishes and be careful not to get solvents such as white spirit, petrol, trichloroethylene, turpentine and thinners on your skin.

To speed healing wash hands in luke warm water and a gentle skin cleanser without perfume or tar. Best to avoid soap, use soap substitutes instead.  Rinse hands thoroughly under running water and dry carefully with a clean towel, especially between the fingers. Avoid wearing rings, but if you do, don’t wash with soap as it collects behind the ring and irritates the skin.  Apply plenty of moisturizer (emollient) cream after washing hands.

Rubber can cause eczema/dermatitis, so if you wear rubber gloves, put cotton ones inside them. If water gets inside take glove off straightaway, rinse and dry it. Don’t wear gloves for more than 15-20 minutes (they get sweaty) so having a couple of pairs on the go helps.

Remember Emma, even it seems completely healed, your hands are still at risk of dermatitis for at least 4 or 5 months. So keep protecting them and using your moisturizer which forms a layer over your skin helping protect it against irritating substances that might cause your dermatitis to flare again.