Sip Sip Hoorah – it’s the luxury liquor from Yorkshire!

Ay up! It’s a ‘boot time for a winter tipple…. from the back growths of Northern Yorkshire!

gooseberry-gin

Yes, that’s right. The proud Yorkshire business, Raisthorpe Manor, has produced a gorgeous Gooseberry Gin Liqueur that bagged a gold star in the Great Taste Awards last year – made with love from scrumping in nearby hedges.

The drink boasts the flavour of gooseberries and the character of the fruit, and it also comes through with little bursts of green acidity – adding a splash of colour and tutty fruity to the bleak winter landscapes.

Movers and makers (and cocktail shakers?) Raisthorpe Manor Fine Foods is run by husband and wife Julia and David Medforth in deepest darkest North Yorkshire. The conception of their food and wine venture started out with humble (or crumble?) beginnings: with Julia foraging for fruit in nearby hedges.

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Raisthorpe’s Damson Port was one of 125 British products out of nearly 10,000, that picked up a trio of Gold awards at the as ‘the Oscars of the food world’ last year.

The Gooseberry Gin makes a good after drink for a roast dinner and a more luxurious and knowing nod to the North than your average Yorkshire pud.

Happy winter everybody!

 raisthorpemanor.com

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Why schizophrenia need not rob us of a life in academia in The Guardian!

After opening up about my mental health problems, I received the help I needed to do my lecturing job well, writes Erica Crompton in The Guardian.

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On an autumn afternoon in 2009, I was fired from my job as a university lecturer. I hadn’t declared my schizophrenia on an application form and this was treated as gross misconduct. Many years later, I returned to the lecture theatre – but this time I was open about my condition, to a much more positive response. I learned an important lesson: that if I’m open about living with a mental illness, I can receive the support and help that I need.

I’ve since continued to work and have found it good for developing my sense of self-worth. I’m not alone in experiencing this. Elyn Saks, who also happens to have schizophrenia, is a remarkably high achiever. She first fell ill in 1977 and joined the USC faculty in 1989. She is now a tenured professor of law, psychology and psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law; adjunct professor of psychiatry at the UCSD School of Medicine; and on the faculty at the New Centre for Psychoanalysis.

For Saks, who has also authored a book about her experiences of schizophrenia called The Center Cannot Hold, work has been key to recovery: “When I’m writing an argument or counter-argument, the crazy stuff recedes to the sidelines,” she says. “Work gives me a focus and a sense of self-esteem. And for me it is the last thing to go. As I have come to say, my mind is both my best friend and my worst enemy. Being an academic with schizophrenia has been largely positive.”

She wasn’t open about her condition at first, though. “I was closeted the first two or three years at USC. I then self-disclosed to four people pre-tenure; then another six post-tenure; and of course to the whole school on the publication of my memoir,” she explains. Her story ended up reaching even further when it became an opera.

Working it out

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She notes, however, that when it comes to achieving high she is not one of a kind. “People often tell me that I’m unique. But it’s just not true,” she says. For a paper on psychiatric services, she interviewed about 20 people with high-functioning schizophrenia, including high-flying doctors, lawyers and a chief executive. She says: “Our subjects described techniques they’ve developed to manage their symptoms – anything from challenging their problematic thoughts to manipulating their surroundings to engaging with spirituality.”

Stephen Lawrie, professor of psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, agrees that hiring and working with people with schizophrenia is beneficial to their recovery. Through the Scottish Mental Health Research Network, his department works with people with schizophrenia, and other illnesses, to develop research ideas and projects that would be interesting to and acceptable for patients.

Lawrie suggests that work can help people feel useful and valued, while also helping others to appreciate the difficulties facing people with schizophrenia and their strength in the face of adversity. He says: “There are many benefits to employing people with schizophrenia. In general, if anything, people with schizophrenia are more kind, caring and considerate than the general population.”

There is also good evidence from clinical trials, he says, that a scheme called individual placement and support – which gets people into competitive employment with training and support on the job – can help people with schizophrenia get jobs and keep them. “By giving people jobs, employers would contribute to an increased understanding and acceptance of the condition,” he adds.

An example of such inclusive practice can be found at the University of Westminster, which hosts a Recovery College tailored to people living with mental illness. A peer support worker, someone with lived experience of mental illness, will work with professional staff to deliver training programmes to improve lives.

Francesca is one such senior peer support worker. She says working at the university is an opportunity that is beyond any expectations she had when she was unwell: “During my time in hospital I thought a lot about wanting to use my experience as a way of supporting others in future, in order to help them feel understood and less alone. At the time I never thought this role would exist… Doing this work gives me a sense of purpose, and has given meaning to the difficulties that I went through in the past.”

It also ensures she stays on track and practices self care. “I believe that my role keeps me motivated to keep well and look after myself in order to support others in doing the same,” she says. “This responsibility has added huge value to my daily life and future aspirations.”

 

Other universities use mental health first aid training courses to equip staff for dealing with mental health crises among colleagues and students. Caroline Hounsell, director of product development and partnerships at Mental Health First Aid England, says: “Academic staff are facing increasing working hours, with less resources, and more demands – which is taking a toll for those working in higher education. Our training seeks to support staff as well as students, because we recognise that both communities are facing unique challenges.”

Hounsell says there is a real need to educate people on how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and how to best support someone who might be experiencing difficulties.

None of this support was in place when I was lecturing and struggling with my own mental health. But I’ve kept in touch with one or two of the students I worked with during my ill-fated lectureship. One told me that I was the best lecturer she had, and her mother even took me out to lunch recently. So it’s important that people with schizophrenia have hope that they can achieve their ambitions and goals – greater recognition among universities of the need for added support is certainly a welcome development.

Join the higher education network for more comment, analysis and job opportunities, direct to your inbox. Follow us on Twitter @gdnhighered. And if you have an idea for a story, please read our guidelines and email your pitch to us at highereducationnetwork@theguardian.com

Down on the ‘free-for-all’ farm that offers a spiritual twist in Positively Scottish

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“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus.

For me, the invincible summer can be found in Lesmahagow, some 25 minutes south-east of Glasgow, just off the M74, writes ERICA CROMPTON, in Positively Scottish.

Here I discovered a spiritual eco-farm retreat through Worldwide Opportunities for Organic Farming (WWOOF), a global collection of farms where you can work the land in exchange for accommodation and food.

The Krishna Eco Farm in Lesmahagow, or Karuna Bhavan, is home to a community of over 30 people, made up Hare Krishna monks, families, volunteers and the wider Krishna community.

It sits atop a steep hill. If you’re coming by bus and walking here, expect to feel the burn as you reach the entrance. To begin with, you’ll find a navy and white sign letting you know you’re in the right place and acting as a gate to the women’s ‘ashram’ (ashram meaning home in Indian, where the Krishna religion originates). It’s in front of the men’s ashram (the two houses are divided as that sort of thing isn’t allowed here on the sacred grounds).

thumb_img_0997_1024Accommodation is basic, and shared, but often there aren’t many travellers stopping over so you may find you have a room to yourself like me. The heating is on, and my abode for the next five nights is stencilled with elephants and peacocks with plenty of floral fabrics in a rainbow of pastel and primary colours. I could be in India with all this 1970s wicker furniture and wooden floors…although a glance outside at the plump and heavy Scottish rainclouds reminds me I’m not.

You don’t have to be devout or don the tangerine robes to reap the spiritual benefits here, though many do after escaping the rat race or leaving behind troubled pasts. The WWOOF scheme means you can help harvest crops for six hours a day, five days a week in exchange for a bed, and the meals (much of which are made from the crops here).

13423885_10154315812036907_5156835934155131328_nVolunteers are a staple in the running of the temple. Head gardener Bhakti Vinode (above) says: “Labour on the farm has helped us in a big way and we couldn’t cultivate the amount of land without the volunteers – we’ve been depending on them and they bring life to the farm.

“Personally I feel enthused when I see things growing. I work hard to cultivate the land then plant the seeds, so it’s nice to see the seeds germinate after all the hard work. I feel I’m doing something for the world, like I’m contributing. Everyone needs food so I like to grow food and teach others how to grow food. We can feed the hungry but we also have to educate people how to grow food. Growing food gives me a purpose in life.”

Earn your keep, take a working holiday, or stay as long as you want while you get back on your feet if unemployed or homeless. It can even help those with mental health problems, says Bhakti. “We do some horticultural therapy here too. People with mental health problems come along and we encourage them to grow food as it makes them feel more positive.”

For those who don’t want to do the farming, you can pay £10 a night for the same deal and explore the surrounding areas. However you’ll be still be expected to observe the house rules, such as no alcohol, no meat, and no sex.

thumb_img_1060_1024Those rules are keenly observed by the monks and you can’t miss them dotted around the grounds in their orange robes, sometimes chanting “Hare Krishna”. They mostly cut lithe, warm figures with their shaven heads fully focused on their work. The farming is also known as ‘Bhakti yoga’. It’s done with devotion for the Hindu God Krishna and forms a crucial part of the devotees’ lifestyle.

Bhakti takes his spiritual name from Bhakti yoga. Of the practice, he says: “Working on the land keeps me fit and it helps regulate my life. I have to be there every morning to water, feed, and weed the seedlings. Most important is I love what I do. Practising Bhakti yoga means I grow food with love and whoever eats the food feels the love while eating.”

You’ll often find Bhakti working in one of two large greenhouses that sit aside the women’s ashram, a little further up the hill and framed by a winding path to the temple right at the top.

Chanting, meditation and yoga take place in this colourful and diminutive temple with intricate carved deities covered in garlands which are made on-site with the marigolds that Bhakti and the volunteers’ harvest.

The marigolds only add to the colour to the site. I also visited this summer for the Hindi Festival of Lights. With monks and friends, we threw coloured paint at each other while singing and dancing. The best part was sitting in the farm grounds around a campfire with sheep until late. But it’s not uncommon for a devotee to rise at 2am to start their mantra rituals.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner follow the early birds at 8.30am, 1.30pm and 7.30pm. The food is all vegetarian and much produced on site, such as the spinach and the potatoes. They call it ‘Prasadam’ and it tastes a little like curry – think saag paneer rather than vindaloo, as it’s all very mild.

Of the food, Bhakti says: “Prasadam means everything to me. It’s spiritual food, and when I eat it, I feel the love! I like to serve Prasadam to others. The Beatle George Harrison said he hopes in the future there will be Prasadam restaurants and takeaways on every corner and I can see that happening in the future, because it’s great food.

“Everyone that comes to the Krishna eco farm gets Prasadam and it’s always such a nice occasion sitting and eating it together – it’s enthusing to see after growing the crops and makes me feel happy and peaceful while bringing the love out in my heart. It’s so easy and everyone can take part.”

I, too, took part. Healthy eating was welcome on my stay and after five days without coffee, booze, and meat I do feel energised and not a little lighter (it must be all that bending and stretching over the spinach).

Sanctuary and peace don’t cost the earth on the Krishna eco farm. So free-loving, colourful summer vibes can live on through the wildest of winters.

For more information on the Krishna eco farm, go here.

 

Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration and the everyday – a review

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Hearing Voices (the exhibition and supporting website) and Hearing the Voice (the interdisciplinary research project which produced the exhibition in collaboration with Palace Green Library) charts the phenomena of voice hearing. The Hearing Voices supporting website (and also at the exhibition) are a detailed and empowering take on an archaic mystery that left me feeling like there’s more to schizophrenia than pills.

Although diagnosed with a psychotic illness, schizo-affective today, I rarely hear voices. I have done in the past, though, but they have always felt a world away from the psychiatric wards on which I’ve spent a little time. For me, the voices I’ve heard have been shared by my mother and have always felt otherworldly, spiritual, like a dream. The idea that these voices are more than just disturbing thoughts for the few is explored in full both at the exhibition at Durham University and on the online portal at hearingvoicesdu.org.

A series of 10-15 minute podcasts, which have a feel of Radio 4 about them, explore voice hearing in every plausible context apart from the gutter press headline-grabbing crime stories in the local paper. Tracing all voices from God speaking to Adam & Eve, to literary greats developing their characters with the added auditory for which novelists are often renowned. All is blended into the study’s plot channelled through predominately academic narrators, with stories from people of the International Voices Movement hemmed into the rich tapestry for good measure.

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Many people can find the voices they hear distressing but the spiritual aspect of the study is especially fascinating for me and it’s been helpful locating unusual experiences (less the voices and more the tactile hallucinations) in a holistic context. For instance, I keep a dream journal to help with making the next day’s decisions and for inspiration. I’ve also used the Tarot cards to try and bring new perspectives on tricky problems. And I regularly use Buddhist meditation and Traditional Chinese Medicines for relaxation.

A paper published in Schizophrenia Bulletin this month, looked at the voice hearing experiences of non-help-seeking voice hearers and diagnosed patients with auditory hallucinations. It says that those with negative voices are more prone to a negative reaction or stigma from others and concludes that much can be learned from those hearing voices who don’t have the diagnosis.

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[Image courtesy of Rai Waddingham on twitter]

A shift in others’ perspectives on what voice hearing means would be a welcome one. Freelance trainer, consultant, writer, public speaker and trustee for the National Hearing Voices Network, Rai Waddingham, is involved in the Durham exhibition, too. She’s Vice Chair of ISPS UK, Chair of Intervoice and an Executive Committee member of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis. From 2007 – 2015 she managed Mind in Camden’s London Hearing Voices & Distressing Beliefs Projects (including Voice Collective youth project and the London Hearing Voices Prisons Project). She also happens to hear voices. Rai, however, today rejects her psychiatric label and considers herself a ‘survivor’. It’s always great to see co-production in action and for this project she facilitated workshops for young voice hearers.

“No one understands if you try to explain … so you just put up with it”                                         Workshop participant

While this online study and exhibition fully acknowledge how terrifying voice hearing and hallucinations can be, it also looks at the lesser-known and more welcomed attributes to the phenomena. Most of the podcast material is mannered, but this is undoubtedly the correct sane and measured response the voice hearer deserves. I don’t want to be afraid of voices or hallucinations, delusional or otherwise. I might have preferred Radio 5 to Radio 4, but what refreshingly different, distinctive and thorough study this is.

  • Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration and the everyday is on show at Durham University’s Palace Green Library until 26 February 2017. Details of the associated events programme are available at www.hearingvoicesdu.org, and information on Durham University’s interdisciplinary voice-hearing research can be found at www.hearingthevoice.org.

Forget the church! Here are 10 more imaginative ways to get married

In case you haven’t already got the memo, you don’t have to get married in a white dress in a church.

Fancy flying to the moon for your wedding?

What about a traditional Thai blessing like Kate Moss and Madonna?

Or perhaps the ocean is a good metaphor for the depth of feelings you share with your fiance?

Whatever takes your fancy, there’s a weird and wonderful nuptial package to make your wedding album stand out from the rest and give your guests a day to remember.

From balloons and Vedic ceremonies to medieval hand-fastings and Buddhist blessings, here’s a round-up of some imaginative ways to tie the knot and celebrate your love for one another.

1. Balloon brides

An increasing number of couples are getting hitched in hot air balloons and there’s some stunning backdrops to choose from like in New Mexico.

The balloons can host up to 12 passengers and a small party might even spot cupid up in the clouds.

Just be sure to bring your minister and your witnesses.

 A couple of lovers sit on hot air balloon at Pablo Ecological Valley in Zhuzhen, Liuhe district
(Picture: Wang Xin/VCG)

2. Hand-fasting and jumping over the broomstick

For centuries, couples have ‘jumped the broomstick’ and promised each other friendship and fidelity in a hand-fasting ceremony that was traditionally Pagan.

It’s a fun way to celebrate your love and is still offered as a non-legally binding ceremony in the UK, such as at Tutbury Castle.

3. Vedic wedding

Don your best robes and flower garlands for a Vedic wedding, a traditional Hindu ceremony, at places like Bhaktivedanta Manor.

With water and fire blessings, these are tremendously opulent and will see the bride and groom together for several lifetimes (if you believe in that sort of thing).

Maharashtrian Indian Bride And Indian Bride Groom Perfoming Mangalshutra Vidhi In Wedding Ceremony.
(Picture: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

4. Tsok Puja

Celebrate the Tibetan Buddhist way with a social gathering, a Lama’s blessing and offerings of plenty of food.

A ‘Tsok puja’ takes up to about an hour and consists of chanting, and a little quiet time for some mantra recitation in the middle.

You can also enjoy the ceremony without the wedding, like at the Kagyu Samye Dzong in London.

5. Wedding on the slopes

Combine your love of skiing with your nuptials and hope to God your marriage doesn’t go downhill too soon!

Companies like Wed ‘n’ Ski offer packages for snow enthusiasts, with ceremonies taking place while they’re skiing or snowboarding.

There’s even an option in Switzerland to wed in an igloo. Go on, melt a heart.

Kelley McGhie , left, Sander Wyjad , both 30, of Nederaland, kiss together after attending a mass wedding ceremony at the top of Loveland Ski Area
(Picture: Glenn Asakawa/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

6. Prisoner of love

Give a whole new meaning to the term ‘ball and chain’ by getting married in a former prison.

The Malmaison Oxford is based in a medieval castle and used to be a prison.

But it is also, I’m told, a beautiful venue for weddings.

7. Cabaret kisses

Fancy being a burlesque bride and a groom with glowsticks?

Then dance on to Cafe de Paris, a notoriously decadent London nightclub and cabaret spot that can be hired for wedding receptions, too.

Burlesque diva performing burlesque show act.
(Picture: Getty)

8. Cave wedding

The path to love doesn’t always run smoothly, so why not have your wedding among the Slovenian mountains?

Predjama Castle is set against the rocky backdrop of a towering cliff and is the largest cave castle in the world.

And, you can host your wedding inside the enormous cavern of its cave.

9. Thai long drum parade and a water blessing ritual

Kate Moss and Madonna both had Buddhist blessings to show their affection and cement their relationships.

The best place to go to have your own is Thailand.

There are a number of all-inclusive packages, including for a traditional Thai wedding at the Manathai Koh Samui.

10. At sea

Cruise lines often offer weddings at sea.

Norwegian for example, offers an itinerary featuring the exchanging of vows at the summit of an Alaskan glacier, helicopter ride, sparkling wine, flowers, and a wedding certificate and cake.

Go on, sail off into the sunset together.

See the original in Metro UK here!

Special edition newsletter for 10th anniversary of Careif

As part of my mental health campaigning, I’ve guest edited a special edition newsletter to help global mental health charity Careif celebrate 10 years!

Today, I’ll be at the House of Lords to meet with peers, psychiatrists and senior mental health figures to talk about Careif and my volunteering to produce the newsletter…

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Read the full newsletter careif-newsletter-10th-anniversary

 

Research breakthrough offers improved vision for healthy eyes in Ophthalmology Times Europe

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A new breakthrough in ophthalmological research signals major potential implications for motorists, train drivers, pilots and sportspeople

Irish-based research holds out the prospect of even sharper vision for those who already have good eyesight in a study of over 18 years-worth of work with over one-hundred subjects.

While most ophthalmologists focus on restoring sight, a new study has been published that actually improves healthy vision. Titled CREST (Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials) the research was conducted by the Macular Pigment Research Group at Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI). Based at Carriganore House in Waterford, it’s part of the School of Health Sciences at Waterford Institute of Technology, set in a small city on the south coast of Ireland (like many small centres since the advent of the internet and the consequential levelling of the academic playing field, has developed a worldwide reputation for vision science.)

New ways of seeing are emerging from the first rigidly-designed study of its kind, with results culminating in 18 years’ work, the latest research funded by the European Research Council involved 105 volunteers undergoing complex tests of vision over a 12-month period.

Lead-researcher Professor Nolan has authored over 80 peer-reviewed research papers, with a research focus on the impact of carotenoid supplementation on and his colleague Professor Stephen Beatty has been involved in ophthalmic research since 1994, and has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers.

Today their latest research demonstrates, for the first time, that supplementation can optimize vision in people who do not exhibit eye disease. The results of this study have important implications for those who rely on their vision for professional reasons, such as high-performance sportspeople like golfers, hurlers, cricketers, tennis and baseball players,, motorists, train drivers, pilots, police and military marksmen and those involved in quality control.

Speaking to Ophthalmology Times Europe about his work, Professtor Beatty says: “Of the 105 subjects, 53 received daily supplements while 52 received a placebo (the control group). The outcome unequivocally demonstrates that those receiving macular carotenoids – lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin – enjoyed meaningful benefits to their visual function. The improvement recorded was primarily in people’s contrast sensitivity – how much contrast a person needs to see a target (i.e. how faint an object can you see).”

Whereas most research in this area has focused on corrective action for those who have already suffered vision loss as a result of eye disease, this new study concentrated on those with strong and healthy eyesight, and yet found marked improvements in vision among those who received specific dietary supplements such as MacuShield over a year.

“In other words,” says Professor beatty, “and again for the first time, there is now a robust evidence base in support of supplementation in any attempt to optimize a patient’s vision, and this is especially important for patients eager to achieve maximum vision.”

The improvements in visions were observed after 12 months of supplementation with Macushield/Macuhealth. This formulation (10 mg L, 10 mg MZ and 2 mg Z) is commercially available as Macushield in Europe and as Macuhealth in North America, and remains the only formulation shown by level 1 evidence to confer these benefits in healthy eyes; this observation is unsurprising, given that the formulation (Macushield/Macuhealth) contains MZ, the carotenoid that is dominant in the central fovea where vision is sharpest and where oxidative stress is greatest.

So what’s the science behind eye health supplement Macushield? Professor Beatty tells us: “This finding is consistent with reports in patients with age-related macular degeneration, where it has been shown that continuous supplementation is required for best results.[7]  The observed improvements are realised, we believe, as a consequence of the filtering properties of macular pigment (this pigment is located at a pre-receptoral level, and it screens visible blue light, thereby attenuating the vision-degrading impact of blue light [i.e. chromatic aberration and light scatter]) and as a consequence of macular pigment’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (thus facilitating neural efficiency and the visual cycle).  In fact, these findings are unsurprising, given the macula’s evolved ability to selectively accumulate just 3 of the 60 carotenoids in a human diet.  In other words, it is no accident of nature, and we now know that these carotenoids are located at the macula in order to optimise vision.”

Prof Stephen Beatty adds that there are also significant quality of life implications emanating from the research findings – “There has been an understandable focus in research to date on aiding those with failing eyesight as a result of disease. What this latest work demonstrates is that people who are free of eye disease (especially if they are lacking the nutrient in the eye) will experience improved vision as a result of appropriate supplementation. Clearly this will enhance one’s quality of life in everyday activities, such as enjoying a pleasant view, but these improvements in contrast sensitivity will also make it easier to read printed text, thereby easing eye strain and fatigue in the workplace and at home. In short, these findings have important implications for those seeking maximum visual performance, whether for work or leisure.”

In the context of a double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial (i.e. level 1 evidence), that supplementation with a formulation containing lutein (L), meso-zeaxanthin (MZ) and zeaxanthin (Z) in a ratio (mg) of 10:10:2 results in improvements in contrast sensitivity (i.e. appreciation of faintness) at two spatial frequencies (i.e. target sizes) in healthy subjects.  These improvements in vision are equivalent to a full line of vision at those spatial frequencies, and are therefore clinically meaningful.  This intervention, which consists solely of naturally occurring nutrients already in the human food chain, represents the first means of improving eyesight in normal subjects since the invention of spectacles.

Prof John Nolan, Principal Investigator for the CREST study and founder of the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, added: “All of us involved in this research are tremendously excited about the outcome – not only from a scientific perspective but also because of the significant benefits it will have for a wide range of people. Many people may already consider themselves to have ‘good’ eyesight, but now we know that many of these would benefit from appropriate supplementation. To take the example of drivers on our busy roads, improvements in contrast sensitivity, such as we have seen in our study population, would allow for earlier and more accurate detection ofmoving and non-moving objects in our field of view, and will therefore improve driving safety. Sportspeople – especially those in fast ballgames – also stand to benefit greatly, and we were delighted to have Noel Connors, the Waterford senior hurler and All-Star undergo testing at our vision research centre.”

“This is a game-changer for eye care professionals,” concludes Professor Beatty. “Put simply, if a patient asks his/her ophthalmologist/optometrist “Is there anything else I can do to make my eyesight better?”, the eye care professional can now confidently invoke this level 1 evidence base and reply “By taking appropriate supplements that contain lutein, meso-zeaxanthin and zeaxanthin.””

Read the full version with graphs in print here: ote1016_016-019_macushield

Sale at Sotheby’s helps restore sight in Ophthalmology Times Europe (cover story!)

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A Gerhard Richter painting donated to CBM by an anonymous donor has raised 44,500 Euros at a Sotheby’s auction.

The artwork exhibits German painter Richter’s familiar layered and squeegee technique – a cool, colour photographic landscape with a spell of speedy, but splendid brush strokes spanning the surface and distorting the vision.

The sale of the piece last month will go toward cataract surgeries in developing countries, the secret art admirer donating the artwork to the German charity Christoffel-Blindenmission (CBM) for a good cause. The proceeds will finance sight-saving surgeries for 1,483 people who were blind due to cataract.

The inspiration behind the auction of Richter’s artwork is German ophthalmologist Dr. Omid Kermani. He and his colleagues from the eye-clinic Augenklinik am Neumarkt in Cologne already support the work of CBM. The ophthalmologists started a project called “eyes for eyes” to fund cataract surgeries in Nepal. For every cataract operation he and his colleagues perform they donate the money for an operation in Nepal. In the CBM – supported hospitals in Lahan and Biratnagar (Nepal), a staggering 97,000 people received cataract operations in 2014 and regained their sight.

Named “Untitled (23 ‘Jan. 2015)” the artwork is an oil on colour photograph, sized 11.1 cm by 16.4 cm and was auctioned in the “Contemporary Art Day Auction” in London on the 11th of February. “This artwork helps us to save eyesight! A cataract surgery improves lives sustainably,” said CBM-Director Dr Rainer Brockhaus. “We thank the donor and the acquirer of the painting very much”. Sotheby’s also contributed to the good cause, by arranging all the logistics, including transportation, free of charge and waiving their commission, enabling all profits to go directly to the charity.

Worldwide, there are approximately 20 million people who are blind due to cataract. It costs just 30 Euro to perform a cataract surgery at CBM-projects in developing countries. Ophthalmologist Dr. Kermani adds: “Eyesight is so precious. It costs so little to give it back.”

See the full article here

Crocs the dignified footwear of choice

We all know that owning a pair of Crocs is your entry pass to being uncool. Who can forget the viral image stating that the holes in Crocs are where your dignity seeps out? But what is cool? Is there an item you can own that will make you the envy of your friends? How about a fridge always stocked with Vintage Cristal or a Chanel makeup bag stuffed with Mac cosmetics?

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The truth is that cool and its definition can be tricky but need not cost the Earth. Cool can be found in the history of the swinging Sixties, with its round John Lennon shades and freaky hair. It’s through the eyes of the filmmaker who pans her camera over a Parisian street at midnight. Kelis got it right, too – we can find cool in a milkshake!

Trends come and go but cool is timeless and meaningful to the wearer. One of the things I was taught at Chelsea College of Art is that cool, like good art, is always personal. Being cool is being yourself and not following everyone else.

I’ve heard it said that “if you stand still long enough you always come back into fashion”.

So maybe I’ll just put my Crocs at the back of the wardrobe for now.

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You never know when the embarrassing item you hide under your bed might be in Vogue again and if you keep hold of it for the future you can always say you started a trend next time round!

{Since writing this for CoolFashionStyles.com designer Christopher Kane has put Crocs on the catwalk for SS17 – see image…}

10 amazing places to see in India’s Golden Triangle published in Metro

India is a culture-filled, spiritually-steeped country as vast as it is colourful.

Cities burst with energy, rickshaws speed through crowded streets and crumbling ancient history neighbours tropical paradises.

Here’s 10 must see stops in and around Delhi, the Golden Triangle and the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur.

1. Old Delhi, Delhi

Serving as the symbolic heart of Delhi, this walled city was founded by a Mughal Emperor in 1639. Today, it’s a burst of the brightest people and buildings.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Old Delhi (Picture: Getty)

2. Red Fort, Delhi

Overlooking the river Jamuna, the Red Fort was built when the Mughal Empire was at its peak, between 1638-1648. It houses a number of museums so you can take in some more splendid history.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Red Fort (Picture: Getty)

3. Taj Mahal, Agra Fort

The world’s most famous temple and not without good reason. Its white marble exteriors will have you awestruck.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Taj Mahal reflected in the Lotus pool (Picture: Getty)

4. ‘Baby Taj’, Agra

Also known as the “jewel box” and sometimes called the “Baby Taj”, the exquisite tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg is often regarded as a template of the Taj Mahal.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
The Baby Taj Mahal (Picture: Getty)

5. Amber Fort, Jaipur

A honey-hued fortress palace in the Aravalli Hills, Amber Fort is perfect for those who love forts and old monuments. It boasts a chamber of mirrors and the interiors are covered in decorative arts. You can also visit for the striking views of the gorge.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Amber Fort, Jaipur (Picture: Getty)

6. Fatehpur Sikri, Agra District of Uttar Pradesh

This magnificent fortified ancient city was the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1571 and 1585, during the reign of Emperor Akbar and abandoned on the emperor’s death.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Fatehpur Sikri (Picture: Getty)

7. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

This majestic building is known as the Palace of the Winds and was built by King Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Hawa Mahal (Picture: Getty)

8. Raj Ghat, Delhi

Resting along the banks of the Yamuna River, and just South of the Red Fort, a simple black-marble platform marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated following his assassination in 1948. It’s inscribed with what are said to have been Gandhi’s final words, Hai Ram (Oh, God).

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Raj Ghat (Picture: Getty)

9. Qutab Minar, Delhi

The tallest stone tower in India stands 238 feet tall. Built between 1193 and 1369 it symbolises Islamic rule over Delhi and commemorates the victory of Qutab-ud-din over the city’s last Hindu king. The tower is made from two distinct stones for an artistic feel – red sandstone, and the upper two, white marble.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Qutab Minar (Picture: Getty)

10. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

One of the most majestic tombs built in Delhi during the Mughal rule, is the Humayun’s Tomb. It’s a feat of Persian architecture. Commissioned in 1526, it come into being nine years after the death of Humayun, by his widow Hamida Banu Begum.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Humayun’s Tomb (Picture: Getty)

You can take in all these sites on the Taste of India 7 day tour with Virgin Holidays. Prices start from £999pp for September 2016.