Fifty – and fabulous friends


Well hello, strangers. Yes, I know, look at the date. It’s been a crazy year. First of all I was ill throughout most of January and February. Nothing serious nor worrying, but staring at screens when I wasn’t at work just wasn’t happening. Then life went nuts with work trips and interviews with some amazing people and we started a podcast with Olly Mann… All very interesting but again, left me not wanting to stare at a screen more than I wanted to.

But now I’m back – and I’m FIFTY!!!! Yup, it happened. And it was fabulous. A weekend filled with family and friends, far too much food but loads more good cheer.

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2016 was a wonderful year


Ha! Now that surprised you, didn’t it? Someone singing the praises of a year in which we saw the UK divided over Brexit, Donald Trump – DONALD TRUMP! – elected president of the United States, hate crimes rise, an MP killed for speaking up for the helpless, war in Syria, the return of the Cold War and the death of Princess Leia (not to mention all the other heroes we grew up with).

Added to that, this year, I heard about the first death of someone I’d known at school. Other people I know have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses.

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Am I hot? You bet I am


I have a confession – I’m a terrible Geordie. If it’s winter, nine out of ten times I go out I wear a coat.

I know, I know, that’s a shocking admission but it’s true. I can’t stand being cold. I’ve had the facility guys at work at my desk more times than I can count (not that that’s much, having failed my maths O’level five times) to change the direction of the air-con. Meanwhile, from November, I don thermals more days than not and can’t go to bed until Brian the hot-water-bottle-toy-dog-thing-that-you-microwave has been in for at least 15 minutes to take the chill off.

However, these last few weeks, I’ve been the one sitting on the tube with my coat sat on my lap; the one in bed throwing the quilt off me and searching for the cold spot; the one…

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Raising a glass to Esther Mahlangu and all women of spirit


It’s been a crazy few weeks, filled with travels and work and moments when I’m filled with imposter syndrome and think: “I’m just a little lass from the slums of Byker. How the hell am I so lucky to be experiencing this?”

Mind you, I think anyone meeting South African artist Esther Mahlangu will think the same.

Esther is one of those people who fill you with awe. I was invited to an art class led by her by (Belvedere)Red Vodka – she’s designed a special edition bottle for them to help raise funds for the fight against Aids.

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The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ Years Old – and other tales


As you probably could tell from this post, I love being a journalist. I love striving to bring readers truth, justice and the best place to have a cappuccino when you’re stuck up a mountain in Nepal (hey, hipsters read too, you know).

But I’d be lying if there weren’t a few selfish reasons behind loving my job – and they’re the reason I’ve been a bit quiet recently.

You see, instead of indulging my love of writing, I’ve been two-timing the keyboard with the luscious fruits of others’ typing skills after raiding the book cupboard at work.

Yes, we have a book cupboard. Continue reading

The eyes have it… eventually


This is a weird age. At one point, when I look at it written down – or when I have to scroll back through the years to register online and the mouse is moving like Mo Farah – I feel old. Or rather, I feel I should be old, because most of the time I feel the same as I did in sixth form.

There is a feeling, once you get past 40, that you should start disappearing, blend into the background and let the beautiful young things shine. Don’t wear short skirts; don’t have long hair; wear comfortable shoes…

It’s the feeling when you look in the mirror and think: “A woman nearly 50 should not be wearing that outfit”, as I did a few weeks ago with the get-up below. But then, I think “short skirt, black tights, flat shoes – still got it”. Continue reading

Thank EU very much


And now it’s August…

July’s been a busy month. We started off with a weekend away in Bournemouth and ended it back home in Newcastle, meeting family across from Canada who I haven’t seen for three years (practically to the day).

In between, there’s been lots of gym visits and a discovery that I can actually play squash – if you don’t worry too much about my service. Continue reading

The 10 joys of getting older


After the doom and gloom of the past few days, I needed a cheer-me-up so counted the blessings of growing older…

  1. No more periods.

A friend of mine adores Auntie Flo coming each month. “I feel like a woman,” she says. I say she’s a bloody fool – as I may have told her once or twice or 59 million times. No more pain, no more hassle, no more mood swings (that one’s added at the insistence of Mr 50 Sense). I mean, obviously, I’ll be saying goodbye to white jeans, pouring blue water on me knickers and skydiving, but some sacrifices are worth it. Continue reading

Nourkrin – my hair loss saviour?

V0019845 Women wearing four different styles of fashionable wigs.

Photo: Wellcome Images. CC by 4.0

Right, well that’s been a pretty crap three weeks. An ear and sinus infection has meant I’ve barely been able to look at a screen outwith working hours so my apologies for the lack of posts. And a big thank you to the NHS for sorting me out.

Followed straight away by a big boo to doctors.

When I went to my local GP to see about my receding hair, I was sent away with a blood test and a flea in my ear, made to feel quite silly for caring about such a thing. If there was nothing wrong with my blood levels (there wasn’t), the only alternative was to go private. Consequently, I didn’t bother and turned to Boots (which you can read about here).

I’ve been using minoxidil for about four months now and really, I can’t see much difference. (When I looked at my photos, I realized how useless a snapper I am so even more apologies for not uploading them.) There are a few baby fine hairs on my right temple, but they’re sporadic and patchy. Certainly not worth the £95.96 I’ve forked out – even with Boots points.

I have had success elsewhere, however. I’m 99 per cent certain that the fine down on the sides of my cheeks as well as my sideburns has grown. There’s a definite shimmer when the sunlight grabs it. Again, not really what I wanted.

Worse, though, my skin has been terrible since using it. I’ve developed a terrible rosacea-like redness and really horrendous spots. Since it got worse, I’ve used a system of trial and error, discarding any new skincare treatments I’ve tried during that time, but to no avail. The only constant has been minoxidil. I may not want a Bobby Charlton combover but a Cousin It was looking very tempting…


So when I went to see some skincare experts a few weeks ago, I was a little worried about what they would see. Too many memories of snooty women at cosmetic counters….

Turns out, however, they were also the people behind Nourkrin hair loss tablets and kindly offered me – without any knowledge that I had a blog – some to try out after having such a bad time.

Nourkrin is a food supplement that you take twice a day after meals and restores the natural growth cycle of your hair. It’s not cheap, but the outlay, worked out over the six months they advise you to take it (the length of the growth cycle), is only about £5 more a month than I was spending on the minoxidil. Which probably works out equal to the minoxidil plus the amount of foundation I was having to use. Plus, unlike minoxidil, some users can stop taking them after six months, if the condition has been caused by stress or so on and that has now stopped.

But actually better than the tablets, they told me I wasn’t alone.

It seems an incredible 60 per cent of women will suffer from some form of hair loss – a fact I had to hear from a men, because women are too embarrassed to discuss it.

“That’s the problem,” they said. “Men grow up seeing their fathers lose hair or go bald and know they have a good chance of following. Women don’t see that.”

Spot on. My mam’s hair has thinned – but only once she got into her 80s and she’s still got more than enough to rock a pretty good fringed bob (which was a bit scary when I last went home and realised I’d been eyeing up exactly the same style for myself).

Nor is female hair loss as cut and dry as it is with men. There are a load of factors that can play a part: hormones, pregnancy, stress, diet, even how we style our hair (Mo Mowlem once said she blamed her trendy bandana for her hair not growing back around the hairline. Turns out, she was probably right). And it’s not always permanent. Get help early on and you may be able to reverse the damage.

So don’t be fobbed off as vain or petty.

It’s also important that we know we’re not alone. Knowing that almost two-thirds of us will suffer has helped me a lot. This isn’t me being a freak; it’s me being a normal woman. Very normal.

I’m still not going gently into that good night, but I’m not as bothered about this effect of aging as I was and not sweating about it any more – and I have to say, my hair is looking better since starting these tablets. I no longer have to yank out great big hairballs from the shower drain (you’re not eating, are you?) and my hair looks thick and healthy. Hopefully the tablets will stop it receding, but I’m happy with how my hair is and I’ve got long bangs now which have stopped me feeling so exposed around my forehead and that has helped ease the stress. Hand on heart, I do think all this is helping.

And best of all, now I’m don’t have volcanoes exploding on my face.

One other thing I have to thank – along with the doctor who recommended it – is cold tar shampoo. Just to add to the delights of a receding forehead, what hair I did have has been hit with this bizarre form of dandruff. It’s in a tiny little patch right at the front of my head only it didn’t snow but stuck to the locks. Thanks to Capasal, it’s now gone. I use it twice a week – followed by conditioner – and then the other times I wash my hair, I use Cien Pro Vitamine Shampoo Repair & Care from Lidl (yes, you read that. This is an honest blog). It’s great stuff and leaves my hair soft but not floppy useless and unable to hold a style.

But the biggest thing I want to say is – women, you are not alone. My lovely Ines de la Fressange lookalike who I saw on the tube also had hair loss around her parting and she looked stunning.

So can we.