Italian Ice- Creams and Fish Suppers in Scotland

I wrote this post for my travel Blog, But thought it might be of interest to you, so here it it!

I have just read Mary Contini’s book Notes to Olivia about her Italian family’s early days in Edinburgh. She is the owner of the famous deli, Valvont and Crola. Scotland’s oldest Delicatessen and Italian Wine Merchant and one of Europe’s most original Specialist Food Shops. I will come back to the story of this a bit later.

Scotland has long enjoyed an affiliation with Italians since the first immigrants arrived in the late 1800s. It is estimated there are tens of thousands of Scots of Italian heritage, including high profile figures. Italian immigration into Scotland forever reshaped the country’s culinary and social landscape.

Interestingly, post Brexit in 2016 there was the biggest surge in immigration in 100 years. One thing that makes it similar to the first phase of immigration from Italian is that large numbers are fleeing due to the lack of opportunity often in Puglia, Calabria and Sicily.

From the late 19th century, Scotland saw an increase in Italian immigrants. At this time, many Italians experienced poverty. Men fled to Scotland to make money to support their families in Italy, sending for them later. For some, it was seen as a stopping point en-route to America. Initially, they came from northern areas such as Tuscany, but emigration spread to the south by the 1900s. When America changed its immigration policy and closed the door of opportunity for many of the poorest Europeans, Scotland saw a further increase in Italian immigrants. The main reasons to seek a new life was as a direct result of economic conditions. Living conditions were harsh, with famine and sometimes droughts. Furthermore, Italy had an agricultural-based economy that was experiencing severe hardships and industrialisation was slower than in other European nations.  Many saw an opportunity to go elsewhere to earn a better living. After a slow start, in which the Italian immigrants failed to make any real economic progression, the Italians seized the opportunity to move into the catering world. Initially working as ‘hokey pokey’ men, selling ice cream from barrows, these men had been recruited in London and then sent to Scotland. They quickly moved into working-class areas, combining ice cream making with selling fish and chips. Restaurants and takeaways were established and sold food made using ingredients widely available in Scotland like fish and potatoes. To this day most Scottish towns still have an Italian chippy.

Fish and chips became essential to the diet of the ordinary man and woman, through the latter part of the 19th century and well into the 20th century. The fish and chip trade expanded greatly to satisfy the needs of the growing industrial population of Great Britain. In fact, you might say that the Industrial Revolution was fuelled partly by fish and chips! Nobody, however, could dispute the Italian influence after they had spotted the business opportunities to be had north of the border by selling pesce e patate. Stuart Atkinson, Scottish executive councillor with the National Fish Friers Federation, said their role was significant. As large numbers of Italian immigrants entered the Scottish fish and chip trade from around 1890 by 1914, they dominated the trade and opened shops throughout Scotland.

From humble beginnings, by the 1920s these barrows had been transformed into luxury establishments in the city centres via working class areas. There are many famous Italian businesses in Scottish society like Nardini’s which boasted a beautiful Art Deco tearoom that became a key attraction. There was a greater degree of acceptance from the Temperance Movement as the cafés chose not to sell alcohol. Cafés such as these were as much an assertion of identity in a new land as they were a business as a means of breadwinning. Helping to integrate the new arrivals into the communities of Scottish towns and cities. They were popular ventures for immigrants, and locals took very quickly to the idea.

In Glasgow, police statistics show that in 1903 there were 89 ice cream shops in the city. A year later that number had nearly doubled, reaching 184, and by 1905 there were estimated to be 336 ice cream shops in the Glasgow area alone. Many made a living from the Scottish sweet tooth. ITally is slang for Italian and the title refers to both Italian blood and to the raspberry sauce added to ice-cream. It is fair to say that Italian cafés were at the heart of Scottish culture, but the question remains as to whether Italians were fully accepted in Scottish society. Their cafés were often the scene of unruly behaviour. This led to cries that the Italian cafés were morally corrupt, articles appeared in newspapers reporting the ‘ice cream hell’. Their popularity wasn’t universal and they did encounter some hard times along the way, which most likely strengthened the ties of the growing Italian community, who helped one another when needed. Immigrants can enrich and bring a new dimension and flavour to the customs and culture of their adopted land. And I am sure that the colourful Italian community must have added character to the dour cities, towns and villages in Scotland.

What whetted by interest in this subject was the story of brothers Alfonso and Vittorio Crolla who emigrated to Scotland and established a small ice-cream and confectionery in 1906. They were to team up with Raffaele Valvona in 1934, by that time an elderly shopkeeper who was thought by the Italian community to need the acumen of the Crolla family. They sold easily affordable food, mainly to the Italian immigrant community. This succeeded brilliantly, helped by the fact that a lot of returning troops after the war, who had fought in Italy, had acquired a taste for the Italian meats, olives and cheeses. Having concentrated on inexpensive produce, Valvona & Crolla made the shrewd decision, as supermarkets began to undersell local businesses, to specialise by importing the best Italian food and drink. They were to be a pioneer of healthy food, never failing to point out the virtues of low-cost tomatoes and packets of spaghetti. Alfonso died in the war, but Alfonso’s son, Vittorio continued to work with his uncle, taking over the business in 1945 with his brother-in-law, Carlo Contini.

For 40 years Victor Crolla, was the head of the family at Valvona & Crolla.  His Italian delicatessen was famous not only in Edinburgh but among tens of thousands of festival and other visitors to the Scottish capital. The language in the shop was sui generis (a hybrid between Leith Scots and High Neapolitan) It speaks volumes for the family’s relationship with the Scots that during the Second World War the shop’s loyal staff continued to keep it open so that there was a business to return to. Victor Crolla, stepped down in 1985, but in the words of his nephew Philip Contini who ran the shop, he continued to be the spiritual head of the store. In 2019 Philip and his wife Mary, handed over the reins to their eldest daughter, Francesca Contini Mackie, Alfonso’s great-grand daughter making this a fourth- generation family business, bringing a little bit of Italian sunshine to the grey skies of Scotland.

I wish them a continued success; I am a great believer in family and local businesses. I also think it shows how important it is to mix cultures by immigration and hope this does continue as it enriches all our lives for the better!


Veganuary 2021 has had the largest pledge since it’s beginning in 2014. More than 500,000 people signed-up for the 31-day vegan challenge, surpassing the 2020’s total of 400,000. So exactly what is this and who or what is Veganuary?

Inspiring and supporting more than one million people in over 192 countries to try a vegan diet in January. It’s a non-profit organisation encouraging and supporting Veganism. They have worked with businesses to drive up vegan food provision in shops and restaurants, and have made veganism more visible and accessible by working with national and international media. Matthew Glover is the co-founder of Veganuary. After 17 years of working in the window and door industry, his priorities and focus changed when he became vegan in 2011. With a drive to reduce animal suffering, Matthew used his business and marketing skills to launch the Veganuary campaign in 2014 with his partner Jane Land, a former English teacher turned animal campaigner. Today he continues to guide the charity along with a team of very talented and dedicated trustees.

Not just for January, but throughout the whole year, Veganuary encourages and supports people and businesses (large multinational corporations and smaller high-street retailers alike) to move to a plant-based diet as a way of protecting the environment, preventing animal suffering, and improving the health of millions of people. Its website providing: great recipes, interesting articles, workplace challenges and eating guides, as well as helping to fund and support projects.

The UK is now officially the world leader for vegan food launches. Mintel reports that around 16% of new food products released in the UK in 2018 were vegan, which more than doubled the previous years’ output. (Veganuary is cited as being behind this up-swing) In 2020 more than 600 brands, restaurants, and supermarkets promoted the campaign and launched more than 1200 new vegan products and menus in the UK market alone. Products like: Gregg’s Vegan Steak Bake, Pizza Hut’s Pepperoni Pizza, KFC’s Vegan Burger, and Subway’s Meatless Meatball Marinara.

Perhaps the biggest landmark is that British supermarkets have embraced and promoted Veganuary this year more than any other, even advocating the reasons to try a vegan diet. It’s truly game-changing in taking the trend mainstream. As retailers vie with one another to bring out bigger and better vegan products and menus to capitalise on the huge popularity of Veganuary. Now cynic’s could say that, they are simply using it as a marketing opportunity, but I think that would be a bit unfair. As the bastions of the food supply chain, they do know and understand that the most sustainable way forward is plant-focused. And their involvement as well as the endorsement of the medical world has encouraged more people to take up a vegan diet or to at least be more open-minded than previously. Many more people are interested in giving it a go.

Having been a vegetarian on and off since a teenager, I know how difficult it was to find affordable, tasty vegetarian food both in supermarkets and restaurants at times, vegetable lasagne and nut roast been the only uninspiring offering on the menu. Today, the variety is huge and its no longer a take it or leave it attitude to non-meat eaters. It’s quite exciting to see how so many changes have happened!

Aldi has a webpage that not only highlights its plant-based products but also sets out the main reasons to try a vegan diet: caring for animals, staying healthy, being greener and more sustainability. It also features dozens of vegan recipes, tips on vegan swaps and a link to Veganuary’s website. Asda also has a dedicated webpage that explains what a vegan diet is and highlights three of the reasons to try vegan: it’s better for the environment, it could improve your health and it’s delicious! It also features their top vegan product picks and encourages people to sign-up for Veganuary. Tesco has launched its first Veganuary TV and radio ads. It also has a dedicated webpage with recipes, product highlights and tips on making vegan swaps. M&S also releasing its first Veganuary TV and radio ads and produced a 31-day Veganuary meal plan with ideas for making plant-based eating exciting every day of the month. Morrison’s launched a £25 Veganuary Essentials box filled with much-loved vegan favourites to help give your January a kick-start. It also dedicated a Veganuary shopping page on its website featuring all its plant-based products.

As, we come to the end of January, did you try the Vegan diet? If so, I hope you enjoyed it! If not, there is still a whole year to make changes to your diet, not just a single month. So possibly a couple of small changes or baby steps, once a week? 

See  for some great ideas!

Diets- The Good and Not So Good

The New Year is often a signal that it’s time for a fresh start and that has never felt more welcome than in 2021. After nearly a year spent staying home, stressing out and comfort-eating, many of us are looking forward to getting more active, healthier, and taking off all those quarantine pounds in the next 12 months. In a year where our lives were turned upside down, our eating and drinking habits changed accordingly and not for the better. And with health at the forefront of our minds for the foreseeable future, foods that enhance immunity and keep us healthy rule the day.

If you type best diets to lose weight into Google, as I did, it will bring up masses of results. Its totally overwhelming and it doesn’t help when there are pages upon pages of conflicting information in-between lots of dodgy science. When you start researching the best ways to lose weight, your head can start spinning with all the different miracle diets. It can be impossible to know which one is the best to try or to avoid!

Many celebrities have been endorsing their personal weight losses, often very extreme diets and social media like Instagram has an army of true believers, who post about how great they feel after giving up carbs, sugar, meat or food on the latest fad diets!

I have to say at this point, that I am not a trained expert, I am like you interested in eating better and losing some unwanted extra weight. I have visited websites, that I hope offer beneficial and safe advice like the NHS website and been watching on TV where nutritionists and doctors have dieters try out the various diets under supervision.

I have tried many diets over the years, some more successful than others. A knee injury has meant I have not been able to exercise, and the lockdown, poor sleeping patterns and less activity has taken its toll. I find myself with some weight to lose! I had been attending some lectures from a nutritionist and had started to learn more about a more balanced diet, which had whetted my interest. I received several great books on healthy eating as well as too much chocolate for Christmas. I will let you know how I get on later. But in the meantime, see below!

The Good

Throughout my research, the diet that came out on top, time and time again was the Mediterranean one. This is less of a diet and more of a healthy eating plan, so the pounds will come off more gradually, however it is easier to stick too and maintain in the future. Longer- standing Diet plans like Weightwatchers are also still giving good results with a moderate eating and exercise plan.

Mediterranean-style diets– Based on the heart-healthy lifestyle of Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. These diets include healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, and fish at least twice a week, plenty of beans, fruit, leafy greens, and whole grains, and even a daily glass of red wine. You can eat cheese and red meat only in moderation. This diet’s primary appeal is in its numerous health benefits and its an enjoyable diet compared to some others. On my travels, I lost weight eating this way and was healthier too.

Weight Watchers or WW-This diet company has been around for years with good results and many dieters been able to maintain their lower weight. The updated version is my WW+, after a personal health assessment you are given a colour-coded program that assigns you a certain number of points per day. (Foods are given points based on calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein) You can eat whatever you want within that range. You can also eat an unlimited number of 0-point foods (most fruits and veggies and lean proteins such as fish, tofu, beans, eggs, and chicken breast. Coaching in groups or one-to one and advice on exercise, sleep and wellbeing is offered, online or by app. Research has found that dieters assigned to WW were more than eight times more likely to lose 10% of their body weight over 6 months than those trying to diet on their own.

DASH– is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, but it’s not only for people with high blood pressure. As it is also promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The DASH diet, is a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating pattern. This plan borrows elements of the Mediterranean diet, but it’s a very specific eating pattern that’s been highly researched. It recommends specific portions from various food groups, depending on one’s daily calorie needs. The rate of weight loss can be slow, as it’s a sustainable long-term diet. Your daily calorie needs are determined by your age, sex and activity level. A limit is put on sugar and salt. This diet includes: 6 servings of grains daily, 3-4 servings of vegetables, 4 servings of fruit and 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy. Also recommended are 3-4 ounces total per day of lean meat, poultry, or fish, 3-4 servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes per week and 2 servings of fats and oils daily.  I haven’t tried this myself, but it has been medically endorsed and the diet books have been best-sellers.

Intermittent Fasting Plan-My nutritionist friend is a great fan of intermittent fasting and is in such great health. As a major trend. It’s claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health and perhaps even extend lifespan. There are a few different ways to do the intermittent fasting plan:

The 16/8 method -Fasting every day for 14–16 hours and restricting your daily eating window to 8–10 hours. Doing this method of fasting can actually be as simple as not eating anything after dinner and skipping breakfast. You can drink water, coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages during the fast, which can help reduce feelings of hunger.

Eat Stop Eat involves a 24-hour fast once or twice per week. For example, if you finish dinner at 7 pm on Monday and don’t eat until dinner at 7 pm on Tuesday, you’ve completed a full 24-hour fast. You can also fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch. Water, coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid foods are permitted.

Fast 800 Diet or 5:2 diet is for those who are trying to lose weight quickly and helps to re-set their metabolism. This was created by Dr Mosley who originally wrote the Blood Sugar Diet because he was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic. A Mediterranean Diet is eaten for five days and then for two days only 800 calories. In a University of South Australia trial, the 5:2 group also lost 40% more body fat than the standard dieters and most interestingly, their blood sugar control improved, so many were able to reduce medication. People find this way of eating to be easier to stick to than a traditional calorie-restricted diet as for five days per week, you eat normally and don’t have to think about restricting calories. For dieters with more weight to lose this could possibly be a good starting diet.

Replacement Meal Diet-Even the NHS website states that meal-replacement diets can be effective at helping some people lose weight and keep it off: like Slim fast and Huel. These are more convenient to dieters as there is not a lot of preparation needed as in some of the other diets. Shakes and bars are easy to take to work. My sister lost five stone using the slim fast diet but when she returned to eating normally (her poor eating habits) the weight went back on. So, it does work short-term. But there’s a risk of putting the weight back on again once you stop using the products, as meal-replacement diets do little to educate people about their eating habits and change their food behaviours.

Vegan or Plant-Based Diet-Now, I was a bit surprised at this one as I thought that a Vegan diet was motivated by ethical and moral beliefs rather than weight-loss. Going vegan won’t necessarily help you lose weight but by following a healthy eating plan eating high-quality vegan food like leafy greens and plant-based proteins, you could lose weight. These diets did feature amongst the best for losing weight. Going a step further than the traditional vegetarian diet, vegans shun all animal products, including dairy, eggs, and honey. With the new era of plant-based meats, going vegan is easier than ever. You just focus on eating whole foods derived from plants. Plant-based foods tend to be higher in fibre and lower in fat than animal products, keeping you filled up for fewer calories.

The Flexitarian Diet-Flexitarians are also known as flexible vegetarians or vegivores. Quite simply there are no rules. Some flexitarians will have a meat-free meal once a week while others will only eat meat on rare occasions. As a lapsed vegetarian, who would find a vegan diet difficult, this is quite appealing. Whereas the vegan diet goes one step beyond vegetarianism, the Flexitarian diet, gives you the flexibility to have a small amount of meat on occasion. There are no strict calorie limitations, though a 5-week plan that provides around 1,500 calories a day. By filling your plate with more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and plant proteins and sticking with the low-calorie plan, you can lose weight and improve your health, there are some great recipes to try.


I also came across a few more controversial and possibly dangerous diets. As a rule of thumb anything from a celebrity is best taken with a pinch of salt as our life’s and requirements are very different.

The Paleo Diet– is still getting a lot of attention, even though it’s nearly impossible for modern-day humans to stick with this diet over the long-term. Based on the eating patterns of our Paleolithic ancestors, this diet requires a strict adherence to foods that would have been hunted and gathered, including lean meat, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables. Any diet that has a large list of what’s not allowed is going to be very hard to maintain and cutting out numerous food groups from your diet can also eliminate many important nutrients.

Keto Diet-Celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and Halle Berry are fans of this low-carb diet.  Similar to the Atkins diet. but as carbs are gradually increased on the Atkins diet, intake stays low on the keto diet. You can lose weight initially on this high-fat, low-carb diet, which puts your body into a state of ketosis. (With no carbs to burn off for energy, your cells start burning off stored fat) But keeping your body in what is basically a crisis state is not a viable long-term plan, the diet can lead to side effects such as headaches, muscle soreness, constipation and fatigue. This is not one for vegetarians due to its heavy reliance on meat and lack of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. I think this diet is too restrictive and lacks health benefits and balance.

The Atkins Diet-One of the biggest fad diets in the industry. The Atkins Diet has now reformed itself as a refreshing new healthy eating plan according to its website.  The pioneer of low-carb diets, Atkins promotes weight loss by restricting carbohydrates and sugar and loading up on protein. The updated diet plan does now include vegetables and berries but still lacks adequate fibre from whole grains and beans.  which can have negative consequences on gut health and moods.  Now, I have tried this one, I lost weight but had bad breath, flacked energy, and didn’t enjoy it that much.

The Five-Bite Diet-From Californian Alwin Lewis, the Five-Bite Diet requires you to skip breakfast and then only eat five bites of your meal at lunch and dinner. The very small portions of this diet will promote weight loss but eating only 10 bites of food per day is not a healthy way to lose weight, I think we can all agree on that. The hunger and lack of satisfaction and lack of nutrients provided by this diet ensures it will be unable to be sustained and this restrictive meal plan will lead to lack of energy and muscle loss. Avoid It…..

The Alkaline Diet Popularized by Tom Brady other celebrities, the idea behind the alkaline diet, is that your food can affect pH levels in the body. This fad diet has no scientific basis. And what about the alkaline diet’s side effects? Whilst, it’s good to reduce your intake of red meat and processed foods, restricting entire food groups can negatively impact your body. A strict eating plan which eliminates grains, dairy and animal foods may be deficient in protein as well as vitamins and minerals. So, there’s a huge risk of malnutrition, especially if you’re not taking supplements or getting important nutrients like protein elsewhere.

The Cabbage Soup Diet-Another fad diet that has been around forever, I tried years ago and it didn’t work and caused a lot of wind. The Cabbage Soup Diet emphasizes eating large amounts of it as every meal. You are allowed to eat one to two other low-calorie foods daily in addition to the soup, which is supposed to accelerate weight loss in seven days. Does it work? Short-term, yes for some, but it can’t be sustained in the long-term and after a very low-calorie diet when you return to regular eating will likely cause you to regain any weight lost. So, is it really worth it?

I hope this has given you some ideas, a diet is personal and what works for one person doesn’t for someone else. But I think a well-balanced diet which builds on a gradual weigh loss and changing eating habits would be more sustainable that a restrictive eating plan and much less of an ordeal!

Learning More Lingo…….

Many Britons are turning to learning languages like never before, according to the Guardian Newspaper. French is one of the most popular choices, as many adults have taken up an online language course during lockdown. The timing does seem at odds with recent events like Brexit and Covid stopping overseas travel. With our recent exit from the European Union, should we be saying a very firm and British Goodbye? Yet for many in the UK, it seems that on our departure it is more a case of Au revoir.

Academics maintain the recent upsurge in language apps in Lockdown, shows a pent-up interest and wish to study languages. For a nation supposedly averse to speaking other languages, the British have been turning in large numbers to foreign tongues as a first resort in the absence of more traditional forms of entertainment and communication.

It shows there are a lot of people who want to learn a language. It’s surprising how often you meet people in all walks of life who are taking language courses. But many people have been put off by unrealistically difficult exam syllabuses at school, GCSE and A level papers are too demanding and grading is too harsh when compared to other subjects. Oxford Professor Katrin Kohl

Formal language learning in our schools has declined substantially over the last 15 years, but there are some signs of encouragement. The British Council’s annual Language Trends survey showed a marked increase in children who took French or Spanish at GCSE in 2019, although A-level entries were still down. It would be great if parents could encourage their children to see the importance of learning another language. In 2018, 96% of pupils in upper secondary education in the EU’s 27 countries learnt English as a foreign language. In a majority of EU Member States, more than three fifths of all upper secondary education pupils were learning two or more foreign languages.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the human experience is our ability to connect with others. Being able to communicate with someone in his or her language is an incredible gift. Bilinguals have the unique opportunity to communicate with a wider range of people in their personal and professional lives.

Despite the decline in schools, adults continue to value language highly, the British Council found that during the lockdown, 10% of adults in the UK began learning a foreign language or returned to one after a break. A third of those surveyed said that Spanish was the most important language for young people to learn, followed by French at 20% and Mandarin at 18%. Thousands more are learning Spanish, German, Italian or other EU languages, with some of them hoping to improve their language skills to a level where they qualify for citizenship of a European country. Since British citizens no longer have the right to live and work in EU countries after the 31st of December 2020.

The UK is now one of Duolingo’s top five countries by the total number of daily learners, according to the app’s UK general manager, Colin Watkins, with a rise in new learners of 132% on last year. (Although it has to be added that we have always fallen well behind our European friends in learning another language in the first place) Events like Brexit and Covid plus cultural moments like the Olympics are driving the change, he said. “Brits now want to be better citizens of the world when we travel, when we do business, when we meet people in the UK.”

I was introduced to Duolingo by a work colleague in lockdown. And since June 2020 have been learning three languages every day.  I introduced my mother to this App and at 76 years old she is learning Spanish. I like the easy- to- use, fun format of Duolingo, I don’t think you could become fluent by this method alone, and I have combined a mix of CDs and books as well as the app. It’s surprising how much daily progress I have made.

I have long been embarrassed at how poor my own language skills and those of my fellow Brits are compared to my French, Spanish and German friends. To think that many ex-pats cannot speak the language of the country they live in is wrong on so many levels. Just because English is spoken in most countries is not really a valid excuse. Today, you can simply use your smartphone or other devices to translate everything on-the-go. But whilst technology certainly helps with communication, it will never replace personal interactions. Be warned, Google Translate is also not fully accurate!

Colin Watkins, from Duolingo, says that many of the 15 million people who have signed up to Duolingo’s online courses are not aiming to become fluent but to gain a basic level of understanding. As one of our first courses French was already very popular, so to see it make the top five shows new learners have chosen it because they want to travel there in the future, maybe want to do business, emigrate, or just pick up on what they learned in school.”

Other language learning apps are seeing similar rises. Memrise saw a large increase in new users in March, and 70% of people using its platform are learning Spanish or French, while German, Italian and Japanese are also popular.

The app, Babel helps its community remember the vocabulary they learn through six memory stages using “spaced repetition,” moving words through exercises that are arranged to aid retention. In bite-sized, 10–15-minute lessons, students have opportunities to gain skills in reading, writing, grammar and speaking in their target language in likely scenarios, especially for travel.

Yes, learning a new language is a big challenge. But if you can get in the right state of mind and you’re not looking for overnight fluency, the progress you make can make can make you feel incredibly proud. You do have to remain consistent for a few months to see some steady progress, but it is totally worth it and the more you do it the easier it gets. It’s also a great way to keep your brain in trim as studies have shown that using more than one language can delay the onset of dementia by four to five years. Benefits well-worth having, I would say.

Bon chance et au revoir.

Happy…ish new…ish year

So, 2021 starts, it’s a Happy…ish New…ish year. Life is still very uncertain for many of us. We have gone back into Lockdown in the UK, Brexit, despite been finalized, is still always on the news. Donald Trump is still saying exactly the same as last year.  The terrible scenes from the USA are like a bad Hollywood movie, my thoughts are with them and I hope that moving into 2021 some calm can return to this fractured country of America .

It’s been a Luke-warm, start to the year, after such a challenging 2020, that’s for sure, but all we can do is just carry on, as best as we are able to do. Most year’s usually starts with a list of New Year resolutions that are rarely kept. This year, you can’t start going to a Gym, only to stop in February and March. And there is no real excuse to not start writing that novel, you never quite have the time to do or learn a new language. You have lots of free time to fill.

So, I suppose it’s a rare opportunity, to get fitter, thinner or start a new hobby with less reasons to not be able to do so. When things then do return to some normalcy, we will be fighting fit (Physically and mentally) and raring to go again?

Depression is always worst in the dark winter months and post-Christmas, been stuck at home makes this even worst. So, finding something enjoyable or purposeful to do, is going to help to keep those dark feelings away. Whist, I do try to keep up with the news it can be very depressing, so watching fun films or reading a great book can be uplifting. Netflix, have a good selection of films and series to catch up on. Anything creative is also a great way to spend time, it doesn’t need to be gallery- worthy but just enjoyable. It is possible to buy most art- stuff online, The Works and Great Art, offer good service and prices. So have a go, even get your children involved. Making and creating is ageless.

Many local libraries are still open for collections and have a free on-line kindle and audible book resource.

Keeping in touch with others is vital, by telephone, WhatsApp, Zoom or Messager. If you do know of people on their own, keep in touch, please. Together, things can be better. Support others and be supported yourself. I think that this is something we have all realized more than ever. We are all part of a community.

Together, we can all make 2021 a more prosperous and happy year.

As, the famous line goes It’s a wonderful life. Take care and stay safe.