Taking Responsibility For Your Own Health FOOD


Considering tomorrow today

Taking responsibility for your own health FOOD!

 “We are what we eat!” so they say. Alongside exercise, your choice of what you eat, drink, breathe or absorb in some other way into your body must surely be the easiest contribution you can make to improving your own health. So let’s take a look at day to day eating and drinking – DIET.

To many, the word diet equates with trying to lose weight and certainly being over weight or obese is not good for your health at this very moment. It is also a predictor of a huge range of potential future health problems, from complications with pregnancies to difficult menopause; sports injuries to later life fractures; asthma to Alzheimer’s. It is no surprise, that with an eye to the future, that public health policy has a large focus on reducing obesity, hoping to educate children, through the menu of school dinners, to choose, and enjoy, healthy food options naturally as they grow into adulthood. For those of us grown ups whose reaction to being told it would be a good idea to lose weight is likely to be “But, I can’t live without… chocolate, cheese, chips, my mid-morning croissant, a fried breakfast at the weekend, or a glass of wine.” and so on, it is likely to be harder. One could concentrate on the unpleasant symptoms of diseases and conditions that are more common amongst the overweight, however if you are the optimistic type it might be preferable to find some positive motivations.

In 2004 Glanni Pes and Michel Poulain published the paper from which the concept of Blue Zones developed. Their study in Nuora Province of Sardinia, was exploring an area where there was no gender gap in longevity. Unlike other countries and indeed other parts of Italy, as many men lived to the oldest of ages as women. The area had roughly twice as many centenarians as the Italian average. Not only were people living longer but they were living in active good health far longer than elsewhere. National Geographic journalist Dan Buettner coined the term Blue Zones and added 4 more areas to the list and studied different aspects of life in those zones. At a time when in most of the world the average age of the population is getting older, there is great interest in successful aging and the prize of both a long and a healthy life.

General recommendations for a healthy diet usually mention the Mediterranean diet with lots of vegetables and fruit, protein from fish and plants rather than meat, reduction of free sugar, low salt and with an emphasis on whole foods and reducing processed food. It is often said that your plate should be colourful and that by choosing foods with a variety of natural colours you will be ensuring a balanced diet.

There is a lot of information on the internet, advice on diet and, in particular, on specific foods to help manage particular health conditions, all of which can be very confusing. It can also be contradictory and misleading, so take care where you take your information from. Use well known sources NHS, UK, USA and European Charities, World Health Organisation, Universities, academic journals and databases. Look for confirmation from elsewhere, check references and if an academic paper is cited at least check that it is published and you will normally be able to read a summary, called an abstract, at the beginning to check it out. If it is very scientific and you can’t follow it be careful.

While looking for information on a healthy diet I came across a couple of interesting bits of related information:-

• People who grow their own, eat more fruit and veg than those who just buy them

• An average household in the UK wastes a shocking 68kg of fruit and veg in a year. People who grow their own waste only 3.1 kg.

So read The Village Gardener and get growing for your own health and that of the environment.

Further information:-

• There is Netflix docuseries on all aspects of the Blue Zones https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/ 81214929

• Information on the Blue Zone Diet in more detail https://www.bluezones.com/recipes/foodguidelines/

• World Health Organisation information on a healthy diet. https://www.who.int/news-room/ fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet

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 Llangorse Mynydd

 Llangorse Mynydd

Llangorse Mynydd

It was 13 weeks since I had been out with the Wenvoe walkers, so it was with some trepidation that I joined them on a trip to Mynnydd Llangorse. As we set off at a cracking pace, I thought I will never keep this up but soon got into the swing of it. The route is basically a climb from the car park outside Cwmdu village hall (fee £1) up to the moors on the top of Mynydd Llangorse and then a descent.

It was ideal walking weather slightly cloudy but dry with rain clouds hanging on the hills. The land was lush with grass and there were some wonderful old trees. Harebells were spotted and then seemed to be everywhere alongside the footpath.

Ahead of us were some dilapidated buildings. Three very old tractors stood, as if on parade, in a field. At the farmhouse slates were missing from the roof and guttering was falling off; it looked as if one end of the house was probably weatherproof, and the rest deteriorating. The corrugated iron roof of the barn was rusty with more holes than rusty iron. But there were several cars and apparently someone does live there. Even a sign for the bridal path looked as if it had been there forever being completely covered in silvery lichen, apart from the blue outline of a horse and rider.

Continuing we spotted orange waxcap fungi on the steep slope above the farm. Now we were getting closer to the purply pink flowers of the heather strewn moors. The heather on Mynydd Llangorse was ‘going over’ but that on Pen Tir, our return route, was glorious. It was close to lunchtime when we reached the trig point and Llangorse lake had not come into view, but we sank into the springiness of the heather to eat. It was quite cold with some of us wishing we had gloves!

Dark clouds still clung to the hills around, and rain was visible in the distance, but at last there was Llangorse lake, looking quite murky, below us. A cairn marked the turning for the path over Pen Tir and we were soon surrounded by heather in full flower with its subtle scent.

The descent was gradual at first, and the last half an hour was steep which I found quite demanding. But what a lovely walk. Although dark clouds clung to the hills, we had got away with some sunshine and just a few drops of rain. After refreshments at Tretower castle, we drove home over the top and were lucky to see a kite and a wide rainbow.

Walk 7.2m 1350ft.



Crickhowell and  Llantwit Major


A good start to this walk; as we drove over the mountains (through Beaufort for the views) to Crickhowell car park, we saw cloud inversions and the valley mist starting to rise.

The walk route was undulating, we started with an uphill stretch along a road heading east out of Crickhowell. As we climbed, we enjoyed aerial views of the town and the surrounding countryside. It was not long before we were on footpaths and amongst trees. At one point we found an old favourite, a huge, sweet chestnut tree which we posed under, as we did the last time we passed this way. Nearby someone had altered a sign bordering a military camp: ‘Warning this is a literary camp. Beware of sudden loud noses.’

The hollow in an old oak was so large a man could have taken shelter inside it. At Llangenny we continued north following the beautiful Grwynne Fawr river, where we were soon enjoying ancient trees and the waterway. There was dappled shade and a lovely old bridge over the river. A pretty fungus, grey with white edges grew in a bed of moss.

Coming to a more open area, the hills around us were bathed in sunshine, the earlier mist having lifted but it was still hot and humid. As we walked along a road the hills behind were framed by the roadside hedge and we paused to take it all in.

Now buildings started to appear, and we were back in the outskirts of Crickhowell. Outside one house was a wooden carving of an animal with a large snout sporting binoculars and a rucksack. The Tourist information centre provided a second wooden sculpture (this time with a walking stick and rucksack) a cuppa and culture; there is a gallery upstairs with interesting artwork and reasonably priced cards. An excellent day’s walking in gorgeous countryside. Map OL13 Walk 7miles 1050ft.

 Llantwit Major travelling west along the coast

We parked at the sea front in Llantwit Major where there is a café and toilets and, if the surf is up, surfers. Walking past the lifeguard’s station we climbed the steep steps up to the coastal path travelling west. The path is well maintained but can be very muddy in wet weather. I enjoy a linear walk going as far as I am comfortable and then returning the same way. If you are feeling more adventurous you can take one of the paths heading inland to create a circular walk, but you will need a map to do this.

The last time I did this was a beautiful sunny morning with hardly any breeze so that the sea was very calm. We walked past Tresillian Bay (a stony beach to negotiate here) and were on the way to St Donat’s Bay when a rescue helicopter passed overhead. We were able to watch the helicopter lower itself close to the water’s surface and then lower a man to ‘rescue’ a dummy they had thrown out into the sea. From our vantage point on the cliffs everything looked tiny, and you wonder how they ever spot people in such a vast expanse of grey. Later we met some local children who were camping and taking part in outdoor activities at Atlantic College during their summer holidays.

St Donat’s Bay, Atlantic College, is a good place to stop on the sea wall for refreshment. It was here that we turned back to Llantwit Major. The coastal path and Heritage coast continues to Nash Point, then Monknash, Dunraven Bay and Ogmore. All of it splendid walking with brilliant views but even on bright days you may need warm clothes as the wind along the coast is usually quite strong

“The Labyrinth of the Spirits” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

“The Labyrinth of the Spirits” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The first few pages of this 500 page novel giving the description of Regina Aeronautica’s bombardment of Barcelona during The Spanish Civil War and the subsequent escape of Alicia Gris, the heroine, was extremely evocative and the brutality of the Franco Fascist era from 1936 until his death in 1975 particularly well written.
The story is basically a detective novel where Alicia Gris acting as a police agent is commissioned to find Don Valls who has mysteriously disappeared.
The novel is gritty, gripping but at times very dark with several difficult passages of graphic details of gruesome tortures.
Despite the fluency of the narrative the writing occasionally becomes rather mundane and the momentum is lost but Zafón soon rectifies these passages by introducing an absorbing twist.
Apart from two dissenters the group found the tome fascinating and a real page turner with most of the group awarding marks of 9 and 10. The overall mark was 7.
Thank you must go to our hostess, Jill, who provided us with delicious cake

Wales’ 20-Mph Default Speed Limit


Considering tomorrow today

Wales’ 20-Mph Default Speed Limit

Forum Member Gareth Stone gives his view of the 20mph discussion.

Wales’ 20-mph default speed limit…

On 17/9/23, Welsh Government legislation reduced the default national speed limit from 30-mph to 20-mph. A week later, I drove to Northampton for our grandson’s 10th birthday. As we neared, we noticed 20-mph zones in the surrounding villages and the residential area where they live. England seemed ahead of Wales here.

When the 20-mph default limit in Wales was initially debated, it had wide political and institutional support. Within weeks, there’s been a record-breaking petition calling for its reversal. I couldn’t understand the reaction, so I decided to take a ‘fresh look’ at the various arguments and viewpoints.

Some truths…?

In 1990, the Department of Transport set out guidelines for the introduction of 20-mph limits. Road safety publicity messages at the time included ‘Kill Your Speed, Not A Child’, identifying speed as crucial to reducing risk of injury in accidents.

From 1991-1999, 450 such 20-mph speed limits were introduced in the UK. By 2003, there had been a 56% decrease in accidents and a 90% decrease in fatal / serious injuries. The biggest reductions were in child / pedestrian injuries.

Road safety – reducing crashes, injuries and accidents – saving lives…

50% of road casualties in 2018, occurred on 30-mph roads. The World Health Organisation identified the most effective way to improve pedestrian safety was reducing vehicle speed. Figures and evidence here alone justify the move to 20-mph. Speed (and longer stopping distances) significantly increases the risk of injury in collisions.

ROSPA identifies a fatality risk of 1.5% when struck by a car at 20-mph rising to 8% at 30-mph. If your child runs into the road and a driver hits the brakes, a car travelling at 30-mph would be doing 24-mph when the car travelling at 20-mph had stopped. The safety argument is hard to contest, saving up to 100 lives in Wales over 10 years and preventing up to 20,000 injuries.

Improved health / well-being…

Vehicle speed is the main reason why people do not walk, cycle or allow their children to walk, cycle or scooter to school. Lower speeds encourage active modes of travel such as walking & cycling. It’s not only safer for children to walk to school, older people also feel able to travel more independently and safely. This reduces the number of cars on our roads; and in turn reduces congestion for those with no other choice.

Improved air quality and environment…

Driving at 20-mph does not mean extra pollution. Speed in residential areas is not continuous or steady. You are always braking, accelerating, pulling out at junctions, stopping at traffic lights, overtaking parked buses, delivery vans etc.

Factors contributing to pollution levels are driving style; acceleration; braking; vehicle condition; distance travelled and engine temperature. 20-mph should improve the smooth flow of traffic. Driving smoothly reduces particulate emissions. Particulate emissions especially smaller PM2.5 ones are linked with respiratory problems, diabetes, mental health conditions, depression and autism.

Costs and savings…

Welsh Government analysis puts the direct costs of the policy (changing road signs, markings and the marketing campaign) at c. £32.5m (spread over 2022-27) and the cost to the economy, c. £6.4bn (over 30 years).

Hayward identified that the £32.5m will be quickly recovered as the cost-savings from reduced deaths and serious injuries will be substantial. This also benefits the Welsh NHS more widely across other areas.

£6.4bn over 30 years equates to c. £200m pa – still a huge number. Much of these costs are attributed to short journeys. If you remove these disproportionally expensive short journeys from the equation, the costs fall to c. £57m pa, which again could easily be offset by the savings from fewer accidents.

Other factors…

ROSPA received concerns that traffic calming in 20-mph zones had negative consequences, such as vehicle damage, injury to passengers, slowing down emergency vehicles and increasing vehicle emissions.

Research showed no evidence of vehicle damage from properly negotiating humps and no permanent changes to vehicle suspensions. Levels of passenger discomfort were generally acceptable if speed limits met, and spinal impact was an order of magnitude lower than that which caused injury.

Further research showed that delays to emergency vehicles were generally in the region of small numbers of seconds.

Further evidence:

  • Many countries already do it, and it works.
  • Councils can keep major roads at 30-mph and arterial roads in/out of cities will not change.
  • Over 0.5m children will find their walk or cycle to school safer and healthier.
  • Fewer accidents and bumps which clog up towns/cities will lead to less congestion.
  • Noise pollution reduced in built-up areas.


My final thoughts…

Evidence shows that 20-mph default speed limits on residential roads, outside schools and busy pedestrian areas saves lives and reduces injuries. They improve the environment create safer communities and make quieter, more pleasant places, where people feel able to walk / cycle. They reduce air pollution and benefit people’s health and the local economy.

Getting to 30-mph requires twice the energy as getting to 20-mph. People living in communities with existing 20-mph limits are positive about the changes.

Of course, 20-mph seems slow. That’s the point. It may be annoying at first as we all, as drivers, want to be at our destination. But think of the cyclists and pedestrians that benefit so hugely, and the reduced air and noise pollution.

Finally, consider that when seat belts were first introduced 40 years ago, in 1983, some will recall the widespread resistance to the change. Who would consider driving without them now?

A fuller version with references to research and evidence of pilots is posted on the Forum blog,https://wenvoeforum.wordpress.com/ where you can put forward your own views.


The Wind Blown Hairstyles


The Carers stroll at Barry Island was a hair raising experience as the wind swirled around Nell’s point spoiling hairstyles! Still, ruffled hair is a small price to pay for a leisurely stroll, a chat with friends and of course, the Italian ice cream at the end!



Grey Skies Did Not Dampen The Spirits

The Stress Buster Strollers


Some gloomy grey skies did not dampen the spirits of the Stress Buster strollers on their monthly walk. Smiles and chatting were in abundance as they strolled through the woods in Romilly Park, uphill on the grass of marine drive, then down the promenade to take a look at the Bull’s Nose on thr Knap beach. Next was Watchtower Bay which was at its best with the tide far out showing the golden sands. A walk through the lakeside gardens and coffee…and more chatting finished an enjoyable, fun morning out!!

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