C25K – the magic formula

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Sweaty, buggered, no make-up, hair scraped back, yet this is one of my favourite photos of me.

It was 8 September 2013, I was 46 and I’d just completed my first 5k race. Continue reading

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The 10 joys of getting older

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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?

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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…

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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.

My top ten telly programmes of all time – kinda

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I was having one of those flicky nights where no matter how many times I hit the remote control, there was still nothing to watch on TV. There are more channels than ever before and I went through every one of them – twice – in despair.

So I did what any 49-year-old would do. I bemoaned the state of modern life and started talking about “When I was younger…”, only to have Mr 50 Sense join in – what? This was my monologue – and start his own trip down memory lane which ended up with a “Guess the theme tune” from YouTube.

There were so many great TV shows that I’d forgotten about and bring back a wealth of memories. If I were on a desert island, here’s my top ten (and a bit). Continue reading

15 signs you’re getting old

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My mam once told me that she wakes up and she’s 18. Then she tries to get out of bed and she’s 80. I know what she means – some days I wake up and I still feel I should be heading off to sixth form. Which is why I spent a half hour squealing on the swings in the local playground last week. (It was Mr 50 Cents fault as he was pushing me too high.)

So how do you know when you’re getting old? Well, I’ve discovered that there are some subtle signs to watch out for… Continue reading

How to become a journalist

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No doubt you’ve seen the Facebook post from former English teacher Abi Elphinstone on failing the SATs tests and telling children all you needed were “ideas + passion”. It was the subject of one of my infamous rants on how ridiculous a message it is. Tell children they don’t need education and can get by on “ideas + passion”? Nonsense.

It got me thinking about my own life and want I would tell my younger self if I could go back in time.

And it would be to learn to type.

Continue reading

Feminism’s true winners – men

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I rarely get a seat on my morning – or evening – commute. I join the train late in its journey and the seats are all filled with businessmen, heads down looking busily at their phones or bashing away on their laptops, legs spread wide and elbows at sharp angles.

It never bothers me usually – but then comes the period. And when Keith Moon is belting out his greatest hits on my ovaries and I’m desperately clinging onto a pole trying to stay upright and I’m praying for the drugs to kick in, I hate feminism.

Continue reading

When I’m sixty-four

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“Guess what I watched today?” said my mam.

It’s a question that strikes fear into my heart. She’d just been to the day centre – God bless the NHS – and it could have been anything. She had a small stroke a few years ago and at times can’t quite remember her words, so a conversation can turn into a Two Ronnies‘ sketch. Continue reading

Secret shame of the peri-menopausal woman

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Saffy. Licensed by CC by 2.0

I promised to be honest in this blog and yet… is this a post too far? Will I regret it? Will I be greeted by jeers and titters on the Tube tomorrow morning?

Okay, probably not.

But I’m about to write on a subject that few women like discussing and most keep to themselves – hair.

Continue reading