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Angelena Boden

Angelena Boden

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Simple Eating

Call me nosy but I can’t help peering into other people’s shopping trolleys when I have to make my dreaded weekly dash round the supermarket. I did get into the habit of shopping online but it took away a chance to people watch which is always good fodder for a novelist.  

Some trolleys are stocked entirely with fruit, vegetables, low fat, low sugar products which makes me immediately put a packet of syrupy pancakes back onto the shelf as the guilt kicks in. Others are piled high with… well the other kinds of foodstuff. I’m not being judgemental but I am curious about how many people cook from scratch these days in the way I was taught by my mother as opposed to relying on a ‘bung it in the microwave’ approach.

One of the reasons for over-shopping is there’s too much choice and not always enough thought into meal planning unlike in the early sixties when women did a major shop in the grocery store – my mum used to put her order in at the local co-op to a smiling man in a brown overall every Thursday for a Friday delivery – and a fresh food shop when required. Everything was planned ahead but then we didn’t have a luxury of a freezer.

Even with very limited ingredients, we were well fed, healthy and the only thing I refused to eat was offal so I went without for that meal.

A chicken on a Sunday was a treat followed by canned peaches and carnation milk. Mum would boil the chicken bones on Monday to turn into a well-seasoned soup or stew with plenty of home-grown vegetables and potatoes or pearl barley for thickening. It would last a couple of days at least. Cottage pie, baked stuff haddock, cheese and potato flan, tinned salmon rissoles were all made from scratch without additives or unnecessary sugar.  Much of it was plain cooking with very little to spice it up… no mayonnaise but salad cream for a simple lettuce, cucumber and tomato salad maybe with a bit of ham or a boiled egg. Red and brown sauce were available but if I recall, it was used sparing in my childhood home. Does anyone else remember having thin slices of cucumber in malt vinegar as an accompaniment to a Sunday tea?         

One of the things I do recall was we had three good meals a day, breakfast, dinner and tea and snacking was restricted to an apple.  When I used to tell my daughters these tales, when they were younger, they would say, ‘ Bo..r..ing.’

I recall the day my mother tried to be a bit more adventurous. Dad came home from  a heavy day at work to find a Vesta beef curry on his plate, the rice arranged in a circle around the rim  and what passed for his first taste of spicy ‘food’ in the middle. ‘It’s foreign,’ she told him with trepidation. He walked out and went to my aunt’s. That was my first memory of fast food to be followed by the first Chinese restaurant in my home town. I’ve been lucky in life to travel all over the world and that’s meant trying out different cuisines. Now I’m no longer tolerant of sugar, wheat, spice and fat, the idea of a can of sliced pears in their own juice is a welcome treat.


Managing Life Transitions


                                                                                 Moving from one way of living to another.

ü Are you struggling to make sense of changes in your life, especially if you’ve not actively chosen them? 

ü Do you find you no longer enjoy the career you’ve worked so hard to build and the idea of farming llamas in Peru is more attractive?

ü Do you get a strong urge to leave everything and everyone behind to start a new life now you’ve hit your forties?

ü Maybe you feel you’ve done it all and there’s nothing motivating you anymore.

ü Do you fear death?

Some changes are forced on us against our will but others are part of a natural cycle linked to aging and maturity. We feel these internally with no obvious external trigger. These can be the most alarming.

Transition leads to transformation and can be a painful experience depending on personality, past experiences and mind set.

Managing Life Transitions is a one day workshop focusing on practical solutions to guide you through difficult times in your life.   

The programme covers:

  • Your story so far – chance to share personal experiences and get other people’s perspective on them.
  • The career crisis – when your work is no longer meaningful.
  • The 28-32 challenge – the close of one cycle and the start of another.
  • The wake-up call around 40. What the internal clock is telling you.
  • Time to give something back – the challenge of the 60s.
  • Debt, divorce and debt – don’t let them destroy you.
  • Coping with loss.
  • Developing resilience and realistic forward planning.

Angelena Boden has 35 years experience in training, coaching and mentoring people to manage change in the workplace. She has gone through many personal changes in her own life, some of them knocking her off balance for a long period. Her personal experience is shared in this programme with the aim of showing that with the right mind set, patience and a willingness to reach out you can turn a crisis into an opportunity.

The fee for this course is kept below normal commercial rates to make it accessible to as many people as possible. It is limited to 15 places per course. It may be possible to offer a free place to someone who can demonstrate a genuine need.  Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol programmes.

To express interest, please contact Angelena on .">.


My Dying Sunflowers

For me, one of the saddest sights heralding the end of summer is when my sunflowers droop their heads and prepare for death.  The helianthus, to give it its Latin name, embraces life in five rapid stages; - germination, growth, flowering, seed development and death. So do most plants but it's the speed at which this happens that fascinates me. 

One minute you’re planting the tiny seed, then you turn round and your sunflower is six feet tall, its flattened brown face trimmed with glorious yellow petals, turning towards the sun to gobble up as much light and heat as possible. Its short blooming period is followed by the ripening of the seed over about a month, followed by the end of its life cycle.

To me it seems the whole process is over in about two months, long before the petunias, geraniums and pansies lose their lustre. I am sure the gardeners out there will debate my superficial explanation and time lines but you get the idea.

Sunflowers, as we know, were made famous by the nineteenth century Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh who painted versions of them in vases, from full bloom to withering. Sunflowers were not solely the inspiration for artists.  Chinese symbolism links the sunflower to good luck and vitality. Religious meaning ties them to a spiritual knowing and a search for the light. In astrology, sunflowers are connected to the sign of Leo which is ruled by the sun.  My favourite bit of symbolism is that of Clytie, a water nymph in Greek mythology. When she lost the love of her life, Apollo, she turned into a sunflower.

Why should I be so bothered about the life cycle of the sunflower?  To me it’s like a film on fast forward of our own life cycle. Rapid growth, reaching a climax point which can be different for all of us although many say it’s around the midlife point of forty then we begin the slow decline towards physical death.  

The sunflower can represent those people who charge towards success as if there’s no tomorrow. Growing tall, above the rest, reaching out for the good things only to find they burn themselves out too early. It’s exhausting having to be bigger, brasher, and bolder than the others all the time. It’s like the bragging on social media. Isn’t it best to pace yourself and not reach too high too quickly?

The sunflower is greedy for the light because that’s what she needs go through her lifecycle but there’s a lot of merit in keeping below the radar sometimes and hibernating in a dark place (think duvet days) to let the process of maturity occur naturally. Nature works best when she does things in her own time.

I’m more like a snowdrop. First up. Can't wait to get going. Small but hardy. I get my head down to get through bad times and battle through all weather and I keep popping back up! What sort of flower would you be?

I’ll leave you with a verse of a lovely poem by William Blake.

Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done;


Don't Abuse Apostrophe's!

A short rant and a deliberate mistake in the title!

As an author of novels and business books, I am constantly checking my ancient grammar books which I found in a box when I cleared out my Dad’s house, (he died in 2013). These are dated 1967, the year I went to what used to be the Ernest Bailey Grammar School in Matlock.

My two pet grammar hates are using less (cars) instead of fewer (cars) and could of instead of could have. Ok, Ok, I AM the grammar police but how can children learn another language if they don’t know the rules of their own? |My many years of Latin, French and Spanish depended on a good grounding in English. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned but I do think my generation were taught English Grammar to exceptionally high standards so glaring mistakes, such as with the apostrophe, stab me in the eye.

The following are a handful of examples I’ve picked up over the past two weeks.  

  • Room’s for rent
  • Book your city break’s here.
  • Doctors parking only
  • Cats toys (more than one cat)
  • Its a great day
  • Look at it’s tail.
  • MOT’s while you wait.

I was amused and pleased to discover there is an organisation for the protection of the apostrophe http://www.apostrophe.org.uk/  

As they say, the rules governing the use of the apostrophe are very simple so why are there so many mistakes, especially by businesses hoping to impress customers? Please, please check your signs before you make them public.

Now the comma is a mystery since rules seemed to have changed. It’s certainly misused and overused. My old English teacher use to say, ‘you can put that bag of commas away.’  I still make mistakes as you might discover.

 The most obvious time to use the comma is when making a list; - pens, pencils, paper.  You need a comma to break up long clauses. My favourite use of it, is as follows; Having read the book before, I decided not to join the discussion. See a comma as a breath.  

I was taught never ever to use a comma before and or but.  However, as usual there are exceptions. I’m not even going to go into the tale of the Oxford comma.  This excellent link explains all you need to know.


So, is my grammar perfect? Of course not. I rely on experienced editors and proof readers to pick up my mistakes when my books get close to publication.

Oh and by the way, don’t get me started on the rules of me and I.   Is it bigger than me? Or is it bigger than I (am)? 

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