World Space Week

My topical article for October was about World Space Week. It was fun to research something that didn’t fall into a health or history category!

It was fascinating to learn about not just the work NASA is doing, but the work being undertaken by private companies determined to help humanity explore deep space, colonise other planets and benefit from the resources the universe has to offer.

In our lifetimes, we may see a team go into deep space on the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle that Lockheed Martin is building for NASA – opening up the universe and its secrets for us.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s Space X company is already shuttling cargo back and forth to the ISS, set to add crew members to its manifest as early as next year. The reusable rockets it’s working on could revolutionise the way we see space travel by making it much, much cheaper and convenient.

And if Planetary Resources have a say in the matter, we may also see the production of rocket fuel in space (from water-rich carbonaceous chondrites) and the mining of asteroids for precious metals.

NASA itself is not idle, of course, intending to investigate the Kuiper belt and deepen our understanding of ice dwarfs and how they evolve.

As for me, I’m torn between thinking these billions could be better spent here on Earth and acknowledging that many technologies developed for space eventually benefit people right here – and that, with the state of the Earth already, perhaps planning for safe boltholes is an entirely sensible option.

If you’d like to delve deeper, why not visit the World Space Week website yourself, which has links to the projects and companies at the forefront of space technology and exploration.

You, Your Bones and Osteoporosis

It was World Osteoporosis Day on 20th October, so not surprisingly, when I looked ahead for subjects to pitch for this month’s health column, osteoporosis was top of my list.

My health column discussed what osteoporosis is – a weakening of the bones and a loss of bone density – and also what causes it and what you can do to prevent and treat it. It’s appeared in various print magazines and on some websites too.


So, how likely is it to affect you?

Quite likely – particularly if you’re a woman. Worldwide, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men aged 50 and over will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. Us poor women are at greater risk after menopause because of our falling oestrogen levels. Hyperthyroidism, a BMI of 19 or less, smoking and heavy drinking are some of the other top risk factors.

Osteoporosis can affect any bone, but the wrists, hips and spine are the most commonly affected. You can help to prevent it by taking regular weight-bearing and resistance exercise and ensuring you have plenty of calcium, protein and Vitamin D in your diet, The exercise will not only help you maintain your bone health but also help you maintain your flexibility and balance – meaning you’re less likely to fall!

Go and eat a yoghurt immediately – and jog to that fridge, lifting weights as you go!


This Month’s Health Column Sept 17

Long time no see, little blog, yet I have a host of unfinished posts lurking… never mind. I’m back with some brief news about this month’s health column. That’s the one published this month, not the one I’ve written this month. I work three months ahead on these, so sometimes I need to check what’s out at the moment!

This month’s column is on organ donation because Organ Donation week started on Monday the 4th and because organ donation is so tremendously important.

Want to know a horrible fact that really proves how shallow a race we are?

96% of us would take an organ if needed. Yet only 29% of us are on the Organ Donor Register.

It’s a little hypocritical, don’t you think? And yes, before someone shouts at me, I do know that a (very) small proportion of people can’t be organ donors. But even so.

Imagine, for a moment, getting the call that tells you someone you love has been in an accident and that they need a transplant – or visualize the scene in a doctor’s office as you’re told that you or a loved one has some dreadful condition for which the only permanent cure is a transplant.

Now imagine spending months in a hospital because there aren’t any organs available, while around you, every day, people with usable, healthy organs that could save the life of your child, parent or partner die, destroying and wasting those organs – all because they couldn’t be bothered to register as an organ donor. But of course, unless you were a registered donor yourself, you wouldn’t be in a position to wail and rail against the injustice of it all. The wheel turns…

So, if you’re not an organ donor, I urge you to not just think about it, but take action. In June 2017, when I wrote the article, there were 6342 people on the UK national transplant waiting list. Three people die every day in the UK due to a shortage of donated organs. Signing up many more donors may not eradicate that problem, but it could help.

Here’s a pic of one version of the published article and underneath, some info you might need if this has made you consider registering as a donor. Don’t forget that you can become a live donor too; there’s more info on that on the websites I’ve listed below.














How to Register as An Organ Donor

You can register online at You can also join the Register at your GP surgery or when you apply for a driving licence, European Health Insurance card (EHIC) or a Boots Advantage card.

Wales adopted a soft opt-out policy in 2015, which means that if you do not opt out of organ donor registration, you are presumed to have no objection to being a donor.

How to Donate Organs or Tissues as A Living Donor:

To donate organs,  contact the transplant centres. Numbers are available here

To donate tissues, Contact the National Referral Centre on 0800 432 0559 (Freephone) or Email:

For more information, visit: (Scotland) (Wales)

#Writer Beware: Not All Fame Is Good Fame

From time to time, people contact me to say how much they’ve appreciated one of my health columns. It’s nice to get those emails, social media messages or comments via the website; I like to feel the articles are being read and that they’re helping people. If one of my columns has been published in a local magazine, I sometimes get some rather lovely pleasant face-to-face feedback, too.

However, I was reminded recently that my control over how my humble Word documents are transformed into printed articles in magazines is limited – and that not all fame is good fame…

“They’re talking about your article!!” chirruped a Facebook message from a friend last month. I frowned at her link, which was to a post on the FB page of a local village. What was that image? Why were they laughing about my article? I squinted. Wasn’t that a picture of the short version of my article, printed in a local magazine?

I leaned closer. Why had somebody drawn a circle around th-


World Blood Donor Day Blooper

No. I don’t know how that made it to print, either.

I went straight on the internet to see if I could find digital versions of other print magazines in which it might have appeared.

Phew! Luckily, the article has appeared in other publications with a less embarrassing graphic. People in Birmingham and various parts of Yorkshire have been spared potential blushes, as have many others across the blood donor day 3

Unfortunately, people in Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire weren’t so lucky. I would apologise, but honestly, that side of it is nothing to do with me!

The moral of this story? Never write an article with a title that could be turned into something dubious by a graphic designer’s one-letter typo. It’s certainly made me give my titles a second look…


This Writer’s Resolve: No More Resolutions!

Reading a post by Valerie-Anne Baglietto on the Novelistas Ink site the other day reminded me of something I’d forgotten: the original meaning of resolution. It’s all to do with breaking things down into their constituent parts, basically, similar to its meanings in the fields of chemistry and physics. And because I’m a sad muppet, this led me to write a business article based around the chemical and physical meanings of ‘resolution’. (Honestly, it was a cracker. But it’s not out yet, so I can’t link to it and show you).
In case you’re interested, here are those chemical and physical definitions.

CHEMISTRY resolution: the process of reducing or separating something into constituent parts or components.

PHYSICS resolution: the replacing of a single force or other vector quantity by two or more jointly equivalent to it.

My article for business owners and freelancers encouraged them to study their existing work patterns, projects, clients, products and services, and assess them as separate entities, considering their value and time/stress to income/satisfaction ratio, possibly with a view to outsourcing tasks that didn’t make the best use of their time or talent – such as bookkeeping or web design.

After writing it, I realised that using these meanings of resolution for reflection and change could be just as valuable to my life in general as it was to my freelance writing career.  And as last year’s resolutions were never revisited in this blog (despite my stated ‘resolution’ they would be!), and were mostly unsuccessful, I decided not to make any New Year’s resolutions. Not of the typical, modern, ‘eat lettuce every day, give up donuts, write 3 squillion words a week, walk to work’ variety, anyway.

I would be different! I would make scientific resolutions, breaking down what already exists and examining the separate parts to see what needs eliminating, replacing or pursuing.Having let this thought swim about my head today, so far these magical insights into general home life have occurred:

  • the whole sharing-the-emptying-of-the-dishwasher does not work
  • the allocation of cooking duties doesn’t fit new circumstances (Arty Daughter starting work and now usually being the last one home Monday to Thursday).

Nothing profound, but I’d already made plans for managing our weekend commitments better as a family, so there’s a whole swathe of changes involved there. More thoughts might occur later.

As for work – well, to quote my own article:

“It’s time to identify the parts of your working life that don’t work and either eradicate or change them, rather than cling to them out of habit.”

She who advises it and writes it should, er, follow it. So I did, any conclusions were:

  • I need to stop feeling guilty about not pitching for new editing/proofreading work (although I may do so towards the end of each week, if I want to). I have enough regular writing work and semi-regular clients not to stress about it. In any free time, I should be writing stuff I want to write, even if it does mean I get disowned by a certain freelance marketplace site. I’m not too keen on its increasingly heavy-handed blackmail tactics that force you to do all your work through it anyway, or how it penalises you for being busy with independent projects. The t&cs for new starters are lousy, I’ve discovered, and if they’d been in place when I first looked at the site I’d never have joined. Their customer support is pants too.
  • Before I was a writer, I was a reader. Two of those ‘constituent parts’ of my life that aren’t working too well are reading and blogging, and I’ve been intending to get seriously stuck into book reviewing for ages. So that’s the nearest I’m getting a standard New Year’s resolution; more blogging, and more of it about books.

Again, I’d already designed a weekly timetable to schedule in sessions in school, doing school prep at home, regular writing commitments, household chores, blogging and writing whatever takes my fancy (because I’d realised scheduling designated time for these was important – and the only way they’d get done). It was all getting quite resolved, in a chemical and physical sense, before I even stumbled on the idea.

So that’s the plan. Or more accurately, those are the changes to the separate bits that were already there.

Have you made any resolutions? Did you stick to the ones you made last year? Perhaps you should try ‘loosening, undoing and dissolving’ the big sticky knot of your life into its separate parts to take a good look at it.

Good luck!

I Know What I Wrote This Summer

Despite my current hankering for fiction and the fact that I’ve got a new novel on the go, I do still enjoy writing non-fiction – particularly when I get the chance to research topics that are new to me, or to delve more deeply into subjects I know little about. When the articles are diverse, it’s even more fun -and it’s good to not always write about health and wellbeing!

Over the summer, I wrote about all sorts.

Roger Bannister 1

Roger Bannister.

The Pomodoro Technique.

Granite (seriously. I called it Fourteen Gripping Facts about Granite, but they changed the title. You can read it here).  Various types of non-surgical cosmetic procedures.




Drones snip

The Honours List.

The Small Merchant Taskforce.

How businesses can go green. Why businesses should go green.

How business owners can avoid stress.




The WI Centenary.

I also edited a coffee table book on a company’s history and another about angels, and wrote articles for the winter about International Mountain Day and New Year traditions, as well as the usual health column offerings.




Tax and Formula One.
This week, I’ve written about Harry Potter and business broadband, and it’s only Tuesday.

That’s a good start to the week!