Should children attend funerals?

Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 is one of my favourite podcast downloads. Recently I caught part of a discussion about whether children should be allowed to attend funerals. Having not been allowed to attend funerals as a child myself, and having vivid memories of my feelings at the time, it is a subject on which I have quite stong views.

I think it is important to allow children the opportunity to say goodbye and to include them in the grief. It helps to take the mystery and fear away and is comforting and reassuring even if the sadness must be felt. But, interestingly, on the Woman’s Hour show, views were mixed. One man who, as a child, was made to attend his father’s funeral has never quite forgiven his mother for making him go. Other callers had experiences similar to my own. What they all have in common is the vivid recall of how they felt as a child, and even 40 or 50 years later, they still have regrets.

Woman’s Hour is a very good show and well worth checking out on iTunes if you’re passing.

Reasons to be happy about 2011 being the Year of the Rabbit

Rabbit on Grass
© Sascha Burkard |

What do Frank Sinatra, Germaine Greer, Jane Seymour and George Michael have in common?

Give up? Apparently they were all born in the Year of the Rabbit.

And, in case you didn’t know, a Year of the Rabbit  begins on February 3, 2011 and ends on January 22, 2012. 

The good news is that a Rabbit year is supposed to be good for calming the nerves and, Izzy Muses for one could do with a bit of nerve calming.  

Being a Year of the Pig girl myself, apparently I’m compatible with the Rabbits  so I hope to run into a few fun bunnies in 2011. I’ll also be making lots of wishes this year as apparently it’s a good year for getting what you want. 

By all accounts, it’s going to be a great year for Rabbits and Pigs and indeed Sheep but sadly the omens are not quite so promising for Roosters.

 Did you know that a happy rabbit purrs just like a cat? Or that the ten most famous rabbits of all time were allegedly:

• The White Rabbit – featured in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865)
• Peter Rabbit – created by Beatrix Potter (1902)
• Simply known as ‘Rabbit’ inWinnie the Pooh (1926)
• Thumper – featured in the Disney classic Bambi (1942)
• Bugs Bunny – made famous by Loony Toons (1944)
• Miffy – created by Dutch author & illustrator Dick Bruna (1955)
• Dillon – character from The Magic Roundabout (1963)
• Watership Down – a book and animated film about a herd of rabbits (1972)
• Roger Rabbit – from the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
• Energise Rabbit – created as part of the battery manufacturers advertising campaign (1989)

I bet you’re dying to know what your Chinese Zodiac sign is by now. There’s loads of places online to check it out. Here’s one, just to make it easy

And let me be the first to wish you Happy Year of the Rabbit.

London Fashion Week, February 2011

London Fashion Week is coming up in February. If fashion’s your thing, it’s definitely worth checking out the website which has lots of info on the designers and some great images and video of the clothes.  The Irish designers to watch out for include Paul Costello, Orla Kiely, Simone Rocha and John Rocha. The provisional schedules have been published and what’s catching my eye is the sophisticated glamour of Caroline Charles’s collection.

Dropping the Undesirables – Top Food Trends for 2011

Home Economics – Top Ten Food Trends for 2011

Lemons on tree
© Patric Schmid |

Word from the creative team at My Secret Kitchen, a company that launches unusual and trend setting foods through home tasting events  is that 2011 will see us focusing on ten top themes:

  1. Reducing salt, sugar and other undesirables
  2. Adding a citrus twist – not just orange and lemon but also tangerine, bergamot, and others. Bergamot is the one that gives Earl Grey its scent in case you didn’t know.
  3. Eating from the hedgerow –rosehip, blackberry, elderflower and sloe
  4. Smoking, toasting and roasting for added flavour
  5. Functional foods that taste good but are also good for you
  6. Home entertaining
  7. Extreme BBQs (I see all BBQs as extreme – and unnecessary)
  8. Flourishing fair trade and free range
  9. Increasing popularity of exotic flavours – Thai, North African cuisine
  10. Good quality chocolate.

With the exception of the BBQs and the potentially competitive home entertaining, these don’t seem too scary.  I like the emergence of good quality chocolate and I can’t help being excited by the prospect of the fruits of the hedgerow on the supermarket shelves. I wonder who’ll be doing the harvesting?

A Menopausal Woman’s Perspective on Topshop’s new looks for Spring and Summer 2011

Snake Valley, Swedish Summer, New Age Constellation and Graduation – Topshop’s new collections inspire Izzy’s menopause musings

You know, I don’t think I ‘get’ fashion. The sad fact came home to me this week when I read about Topshop’s new looks for Spring / Summer 2011. I won’t take too much of your time detailing their new Snake Valley collection since women of a certain age are probably not going to be rushing out any time soon for a high-waist skinny leather trouser or hotpant. If you were there for hotpants first time round, you’re probably safer to avoid the revival. Blanket ponchos, tie-dyes, feathers, fringing are just some of the other elements that make up the Snake Valley look which “is inspired by the 70s Gypsy Rocker character embodied by Jimi Hendrix and Lenny Kravitz”.

But, lest you despair, there are some less intimidating alternatives. Swedish Summer, for example, inspired by 1970s glamour combines vintage pieces with a dramatic, sweeping silhouette. That’s good. After all, we probably have the vintage pieces even if we don’t have the dramatic sweeping silhouette. I confess I don’t remember too much in the way of ‘glamour’ from the 70s. Glamour to me, at least, is more a sixties look personified by those fabulous darlings like Zza Zza Gabor and Elizabeth Taylor. Still, Topshop’s Swedish Summer range which “sees soft Art Nouveau and William Morris floral prints mixed with glitter, foil and crafty fabrics like patchwork” does conjure a certain nostalgia and I wouldn’t rule out a look at tunic dresses, palazzo trousers, mid-calf skirts and a macrame bag and floppy hat as accessories – these sound a lot more manageable than the skinny leathers – although, if you are brave enough, there is a rather nice little skinny leather pencil skirt on at the time of writing.

I am holding out more hope for the New Age Constellation collection although I am somewhat concerned that urban sportswear inspired by “pared-down look of the mid 90s” might not be practical around the office.  I’m all for jackets and vests – heck, vests are a critical component of the menopause layering wardrobe – but boy-cut trousers and high-tech nylon parkas are perhaps not the ideal elements to team them with if you’re over 50.

So, I’m plumping for the Graduation collection of mix and match separates in “conversational prints and stripes, like something from the pages of a Jackie annual”. Its ages since I’ve seen a Jackie Annual – I wonder if you can get them in the iBooks store or for the Kindle? But I digress. Admittedly, I haven’t seen The Graduation Collection but I like the sound of crisp, clean shapes even if I’m somewhat less keen on denim culottes and chambray playsuits. “The overall vibe of the trend is young, irreverent, quirky and at times geeky, whilst 70s colours are mixed with timeless classics”.

Being something of a timeless classic myself, bring it on, I say. Bring it on.

Charlie Dimmock inspires me to get back in my menopause wellies

Charlie Dimmock, you’re my hero!

Charlie Dimmock I foolishly  mentioned that I liked a particular gardening publication recently and was told that was probably because I fit the demographic.

Does that mean that the onset of menopause is turning me into a cardigan and wellies wearing gardener? You know, it just might since I do, after all, own a very respectable pair of menopause wellies.

But, heck. Why not? After all, Charlie Dimmock has been my heroine for many’s the long day. No one can quite put together a garden like she can and I share her passion for water features. Charlie’s on my mind this week because I just heard that she is to be the new face of Gardening Direct. The more I think about that, the more inspired I am to get out into the garden and do a bit of pre-Spring clean. In fact, after a month of snow and freezing weather, I sensed the merest tremor of excitement when I caught sight of my camellia last weekend and thought that it can’t be too much longer until it bursts into bloom. Already the blowsy poppies have put up a respectable showing of foliage and the daffodil bulbs are pushing up new growth. Bring it on, I say and I’ll be keeping an eye out for Ms Dimmock in the garden centres.