London: An Underground Map for panicky Claustrophobics like me.

I am a claustrophobic who has spent well over five years, if not more, avoiding the tube to avoid panic attacks. I welcome the news that Transport for London has brought out a new Tube Map showing us where tunnels are, though most of it will be away from Central London.

The only way I have managed to get on the tube recently is by heavy anxiety medication which help prevents the palpitations and hyperventilating. They are not completely perfect, but they help and I recommend them. I use a combination of anxiety and high blood pressure tablets. I have also been to a hypnotherapist, an expert ironically, in childbirth hypnotherapy, in Tunbridge Wells and learned breathing and trance techniques (yes, learned some hippie’ techniques. I also make sure I have someone with me I know who knows my condition and I try to take something to distract me, like a book, magazine or even knitting, which is better. However, there is still a risk of me getting one, in front of all these strangers. I try to keep my journeys very short and avoid crowded carriages at all costs.

If there is a choice, I would still go by the bus, cycle or walk. Even with medication, I have to get off after a few stops, if not, the next one before. If there are five stops, I could actually get off twice and then take the bus. It does generally get worse the longer I am using the tube network, particularly if there are a lot of people around, who seem to be ‘ok. I would say that dark tunnels definitely make things worse for me so knowing there where the tunnels are would help. It has been a pain for friends who aren’t claustrophobic.

The new map shows me where the tunnels are. It is a step in the right direction, but I think what will also help, is having less crowding on the tube, training people to have Mental Health First Aid, even having a carriage just for those with mental health anxiety issues, as it can be difficult having a panic attack in front of lots of ‘normal people’, where we can be very vulnerable in our situation as people do not understand or know what to do, but, the best thing is for me, is to be able to get off when I want to, rather than be fined for setting off the emergency alarm. When I have a panic attack, I don’t find that anyone helps me either. I feel an ‘idiot’ even though panic attacks can affect anyone, even geniuses. The bus is my favourite though, so if I can use the bus, and I am not in a hurry I will.

The sheer lack of control is ‘my big thing’ and I feel that I have more ‘control on a bus’. I would add that the priority seats on the tube are also helpful, as sitting down relieves anxiety.

However, if there will be loads more people on the tube train, that will mean that it’ll be more crowded for us claustrophobics! However, the bus is much cheaper than the tube, so it still will be my first choice for short journeys.

Link to Map: Tube Map showing where the Tunnels are https://tfl.gov.uk/maps/track/tube

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Kent: Passengers on South Eastern Railway take their dogs to work today

It is National #Takeyourdogtowork day which is great for mental health in the workplace, and gets the dog out too, and, of course, immensely spoiled.

I was pleased to see some railway passengers taking their beagle to work this morning, on my way to London Bridge. The lady took the dog after 10am and avoided the crowded rush hour so he was quite comfortable.

Hope to see more and more people take their dogs to work, perhaps more often than a day, to help animal welfare charities and reduce workplace stress and sickness. It also makes the workplace more fun and ‘human’.

To take part next year, keep a note of this website: https://bringyourdogtoworkday.co.uk/ for details.

DIY British Sherbet: Review

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I made some sherbet today and I wanted to test it out.

Now, I am an aunt, so ‘I have to do ‘aunt things’ and get into practice for when I need it.

I was inspired by a stall selling sherbet at a Food Fair at Syon Park. They did lots of flavours, including pizza (which I am still working on). This particular recipe is a ‘plain one’ other than a few sprinkles. If you add liquid, like coconut flavouring, there will be a ‘fizzy reaction’. The photo above was when I put flavouring in it, so it is a bit ‘ball’ like but you don’t need to use any flavouring so it will be more powdery looking.

In the UK, sherbet is traditional eaten with a stick of licorice or eaten with the fingers. Nowadays, cooks use it as a topping for ice creams.

INGREDIENTS

Citrus Acid powder (I got this online, but you can apparently get it at pharmacies)

Bicarbonate of Soda

Sprinkles and/or edible glitter (from a cake decoration shop)This adds a little texture and colour if you want it.

Icing Sugar (be generous)

Vintage Sweet Bags (You can get a good range, blue, green, yellow, black and ‘mixed’ on Amazon.

Optional: Licorice sticks from Simpkins on Amazon (not licorice roots) If you can find a good health or candy store, even better as you don’t have to pay for any delivery charge.

Tip: You only need a little citrus acid powder and bicarbonate of soda. The more citrus acid you use, the more ‘sour’ it is.

REVIEW: It is not bad at all.You don’t need to buy sherbet in the shops now, it works! It is fun to have a variety of sprinkles to make it more unique and ‘homemadey’. I would give it a 9/10 and a Gold Star in ‘Aunt Points’

Love it! Traditional Chinese Baby bangles

I wanted to buy my new baby nephew something special, and something to hand down in the family. I didn’t want and ‘baby tat’.

So I bought a beautiful Sterling Silver chinese baby bangle. I have never heard of this concept (bear in mind I am never around babies). I was aware that some babies these days have earrings, but I thought that was dangerous, and a bit tacky. I was lucky to have strong Chinese connections myself, even though I am not Chinese, but I have always been very drawn and interested in their traditions, ideology and thoughtful idea.

I was lucky to find a local jeweller at a stall at the Surrey Quays, in Rotherhithe, London who sells wonderful, intricate and meaningful silver baby bangles.

Chinese bangles are a traditional custom for Chinese famillies to give to newborns which helps give them good luck. These bangles are adjustable and can fit a baby up to a child of five. In a world where things are more global, I think it is great to spread this idea to Western babies too.

The one I have in the photo has a message to give the baby which is ‘protection wherever the baby goes‘ and it is decorated with cherry blossoms. My nephew was born in the spring of 2017 so it is ideal. My own great-aunt gave me a chinese silver token when I was a child and I thought it was nice that I could carry on this one. It is really cute and the baby would love the jingly bangles.

I decided not to tell the family what the message was, but leave it up to them and the child to find out for themselves so it would add more fun and meaning. It will also be a talking piece. This are wonderful gifts for a baby shower and particularly by close relatives and special people.

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A little world of caution: Some people can be allergic to silver, so you can try the bangle on a different arm and see what happens. This item would not be good for a baby who is teething.

For famillies (and expats) who are looking for Chinese baby gift ideas and inspiration, see http://www.chineseamericanfamily.com/chinese-baby-gifts/