James is On ‘This Morning’…

Not a typical blog post, more just a video clip and write up from the ‘This Morning’ website. I think I’ll write something more extensive when the whole treatment has finished. I am due to return in the Autumn but I have no idea what’s happening! All part of the fun…
Bald busters Male grooming expert Richard Anthony joins us to offer his follicle advice

This Morning

The issue of baldness is something many men worry about, but very few admit to.Not only can it lead to daily jibes from friends, it can affect your relationships, confidence and even career.

Richard Anthony joins us to offer advice on how to treat and cope with baldness.

What does Richard recommend for our case studies?

James Gaydon

Treatment: James is testing the Satura product range which costs £3,000 for four months of treatment in a clinic. The three products in the range he will be using are Satura Rosta – regrows and thickens hair (twice a week in a clininc); Satura Pro – stops hair loss and thickens hair (daily) and Satura Super Scalp – for oily/freasy hair, dandruff, inflamed and itchy scalp (daily). Once this treatment is finished, there are no more costs involved and this is not something you have to continue to use for life. The hair you grow back will stay. The products are all 100% natural and there are no known side-effects to the treatment. For more information, go to: www.gzlabs.co.uk

Nick Ward

Treatment: Nick is going to use Procerin Tablets and XT Foam which costs £200 for a four-month supply and claims to have no unwanted side-effects. This product is ideal for men with thinning hair or a receding hair line.  The less hair you have, the longer it will take, and if you have been bald for some time, it is likely that the hair follicles have died and can’t been kicked back into use. In the first two to three weeks you may notice an increase in shedding – this is because the hair follicles which are in their dormant phase are being kick-started into growth: the old hair falls out to allow for new hair growth. Between three to four months you should notice a significant improvement in the health of your hair: it may start to feel thicker and fuller. At this stage, many users also report a reduction in the thinning of their hair. For the best result, users should continue using this for six-plus months. For more information, go to: www.procerin.com

Tony Flack

Treatment: Male grooming expert Richard Anthony will be seeing Tony regularly for four months. By regularly cutting, dying and looking after his hair, Richard believes he can improve its health and thickness. For more information, go to: www.richardanthony.co.uk

Tags: hair

http://thismorning.itv.com/thismorning/style-and-beauty/bald-busters

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James is ‘Living With Epilepsy’

Published February 2011

Lindfield Life

Getting my head around it

My body was beaten up but I had a real sense of being under the control of something in my head. I was filled with fear knowing that it could happen anytime.

The doctor lent over his desk, looked over the top of his glasses and said “Well James, you have epilepsy, how do you feel about that?”. I wanted, initially, to let my fists do the talking and show him how this news wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.

I am not the violent type so I just fumed. I let him explain that many people take this type of news badly and as a consequence need to be referred to a psychologist to help them readjust. It was about six months earlier that the first incident happened.

My dad was woken by a banging coming from my room in the early hours. I was known for keeping odd hours (I was a teenager) so my dad lay there for a moment before realising that this wasn’t just me being inconsiderate but that something was wrong. As he walked in my room I was having a seizure. They used to be called ‘grand mal’ but nowadays are referred to as tonic clonic seizures. My body convulsed and shook like it had electricity being passed through it. With my jaw clenched I struggled unconsciously for breath and my eyes rolled back. Mum and dad stayed with me while the convulsions continued and then after a few minutes they began to ease. The doctor came and even now I can remember the smell of his jacket. I think all doctors over a certain age who wear jackets and have the medical bag have a similar smell. However, I think they say that before or after a seizure your sense of smell can be heightened (don’t quote me, I have it, but I am not a doctor!). The doctor said that I had suffered a seizure but the cause was unclear and at this time no specific medical treatment was required.

I think anyone may have a seizure once and that may not mean you’ll have another, so it was a case of wait and see what happens next. He advised rest and correctly stated that my body would feel fairly battered. To be more accurate I felt that I had been 12 rounds with a pro boxer. My tongue was blood-red with teeth marks and swollen, all my muscles were filled with lactic acid and ached, I mean really ached, and I had a banging headache.

Once the doctor and his strange smelling jacket had left my mum gave me a Magnum ice-cream (a rare treat usually) to reduce the tongue swelling but on this occasion there was no pleasure in the eating. It actually hurt to open my mouth and my tongue didn’t want to be consoled.

Time passed and I tried to shrug off the event and continue on. I was always aware that ‘it’ may return and did do some research on epilepsy, but confident that I didn’t fit the epileptic demographic it wasn’t something I was going to worry too much about. I was coming up to 17 years old so I was concentrating on gaining some financial independence, and keen to have fun with my friends.

About six weeks later it happened again. Much the same situation except this time it was a shorter episode. This time I actually woke up after the seizure (I cannot recall how much longer after) however I was petrified. My body was, as before, beaten up but I had a real sense of being under the control of something in my head. I was filled with fear knowing that it could happen anytime. There was no way I could sleep that night until I passed out with complete exhaustion.

I saw the doctor and he arranged for an Electroencephalogram (EEG) and MRI test. Although my fears were becoming reality, I was also really pleased that questions were hopefully going to be answered. The possibly horrible truth was better than the very scary unknown. The doctor showed me the results of both tests and both were unremarkable. No I didn’t have a tumour, and yes I did have a brain. My poor GCSE results were down to my inability (laziness), not a medical deficiency.

At this point he delivered his diagnosis with all the tact he could muster. Epileptic? What? You said the tests were clear…? How do I feel about it? Come here and I’ll tell/show you! I believe it was this same doctor that told me how epilepsy will affect my life. Specifically, I couldn’t work with children as I could harm them during a seizure. Sports teacher plans out of the window then… no need to aim high with any further academic qualifications.

Despite learning to drive when I was 15 years old (when working on a farm) I couldn’t hold a driving licence of any kind until I had been seizure free for 3 years. Independence denied. Stuck in my rural village for another 3 years (at least).

Furthermore, I had to take pills everyday, twice a day. I was given the standard anti epileptic drug called Epilim. These purple tablets were to be taken every morning and every evening to ensure that the drug remained in my blood around the clock. I really did need to start living by the rules that were being laid in front of me.

As I walked from the doctors to the car I made a decision. I could either become angry, frustrated and be a victim in this situation, or live to the maximum that I could and endeavour to overcome any obstacle. Well there was no choice so I decided it was time to ‘man-up’.

Later in my mid-twenties, after many seizure free years I had another seizure while I was working for Volvo as a salesman. This was a daytime episode so this meant I lost my licence for 1 year (DVLA were more lenient by now) but importantly I lost my job. I had to reluctantly ‘sign on’ while I had an increase in my drugs and started taking Lamotrogen (also used as an anti-depressant) with my Epilim. As I was keen not to sit about I went to a college for people with disabilities for a year to study Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. The college was residential and was a really interesting experience. Plenty of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Well to be honest not so much rock n’ roll. I didn’t seem to fit the demographic there for sure. I spent most of my time as a recluse in my room minding my own business trying to avoid getting involved in the police raids (two in 10 months). There were a lot of people angry at life, frustrated by the limitations of their bodies and many who had also had their lives turned upside down and dreams and aspirations broken. The impact of my disability on me was not as harsh as those experienced by others. I was, and I am, very lucky.

So in conclusion, life is hard, it is full of surprises, some good and some bad. It is my belief that the important thing is how we choose to respond to the challenges that we face. One thing I am reminded of again and again is how lucky and privileged I am. Regardless of what happens I have family and friends that love and care for me, and now as I write this at 34 years old I am particularly blessed with my wife and two children. With this love and support nothing can touch me. Our blessings always outweigh our troubles, sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of that.

Someone who knows more about Epilepsy than me can tell you about the relevance of this diagram. I just like the colours…

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James is Eating For Free

Pigeons… an easily sourced free food that has been sitting under my nose…

As I continue to look for food to forage and struggle to find people willing to let a stranger with a gun roam around their garden/land I have had to look closer to home – literally.

Since reading a blog post by Nick Weston (Tree House Diaries) about a 100% foraged meal I have been inspired to try it out for myself but lacked the confidence to take aim within my garden due to legality. I was encouraged to check it out by some like minded mates and it seems I am allowed to shoot in my garden if NO pellet leaves the boundary of my property. GREAT NEWS!

Up until now the pigeons have ruled the roost, but not anymore (well they are perfectly safe for 99% of the time when I am at work) but when opportunity presents itself I like to gather the food on offer.

It seems always important at times like this to state that shooting animals is not a good idea unless it serves a purpose. Any animal or berry that I remove from the countryside has one destination and that is my tummy – via the kitchen.

Before
Ready to roast (well almost)

After

I will soon be taking bookings for my first “Food For Free Meal” and I cant wait… I am a little way off as I am giving away too many pigeons to chef friends but with two in the freezer it wont be long.

Short of a loaf of bread for sandwiches the other day I cooked 2 pigeon breasts with garlic, bacon pieces and pasta. I stirred in some Thai source…. which was a bad choice of source… but it was very nice all the same!

I am learning as I go!

Nick’s Blog post on his forgaged meal is below…

http://www.huntergathercook.com/

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James is Eating Out.

I love my wife… I really do… but she drives me nuts.

The opposition I get when I wish to cook anything that you don’t generally find in Sainsbury’s (although these days you’d be surprised) is so great that I only ‘go there’ when I need to. In any good marriage you choose your battles carefully. Nine years of marriage and I am still learning which are the right battles…

Ok so enough marriage guidance – my point is that I have got a new outlet for cooking my wild food and enjoying the outdoors.

My good friend Charlotte has an allotment in Lewes which is a great venue to meet up on a cold evening, upturn some large flower pots for seats, build a fire and throw a pan on the hot flames.

Charlotte works for an organic vegetable producer and so always has something good to bring to the pot from work or indeed from her patch around us and I try to bring at least one meaty offering from a field (rabbit) or tree (pigeon) to cook.

The food is not exclusively free, foraged, or wild. In fact the meat and fish for our first meal was 100% supermarket produce, and there was no theme to it! Plaice, sausages, lamb chops, lamb kidneys, and a piece of steak… Since then we only supplement our hunted/gathered offerings with items to have a variety of food to eat.

Charlotte and I worked together some years ago but do not know each others friends so each time we meet up we invite a person that we would like the other to meet, and hopefully that person will enjoy sitting out in the cold sharing stories and eating what we have. Despite more recent meals being prepared by torch light and the chopping board is wood from a pallet, there have been no complaints so far verbally or from anyone’s guts!

Speaking of guts we had an interesting experience last time with offal as we had to visit a supermarket to buy some kitchen roll and water to boil the vegetables (ok, ok… poor planning) and on our walk around Steve, (our invited guest) disappeared and returned with 6 lamb hearts. Rough…. hearts… um, not my thing…. but I could not let Steve-o out do me, so I warmly congratulated him on his find and reluctantly went to the checkout.

Once the flames had died down and veg was ready to go on Steve took great delight in cutting up the hearts into manageable pieces. He clearly was listening in this GCSE or A Level Biology because as I sat wittling my hazel ‘folk’ I could hear him proclaim “I think this is the ventricle” and later “this must be one of the arteries”. I tried to ignore it as it wasn’t helping be ‘O.K’ with eating this much over-looked food. I suggested that they should be stewed (which we didn’t have time to do) to soften them up but this feeble attempt to avoid eating these hearts wasn’t enough to dissuade Steve or Charlotte.

It would be nice to drop a picture in here of the hearts but I rarely think about taking photos when out doing these things, and I was trying to stop myself retching so taking a picture for future reference was not high on my agenda – sorry.

Yes I ate some. I did it, it is done. I am unlikely to do it again…

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James is No Ray Mears

I checked the weather forecast on Friday morning; no change – rain, rain, and more heavy rain, but my enthusiasm for the weekend was not dampened.
Once we had gathered Leon the lead instructor led us deep into the dark wood to ensure that we had as authentic experience as possible of survival. Having two children I couldn’t help but be wary of Gruffalo’s lurking with terrible teeth and turned out toes… but the wood was Gruffalo free.

The rain was already falling heavily but all of us were looking forward to what was ahead. A male nurse, a solicitor, a warehouse manager, and an IT technician were some among the group and we all had an interest in bushcraft and had different levels of experience but what we all had was a desire to get stuck in and enjoy the course.

The campsite with only a basic tarp and camp fire.

On arrival at the ‘campsite’ we had a warm mug of chunky lentil soup and got straight into ‘Fire by Sparks’. Using a Fire Steel we scraped sparks into a bundle of hay. For some this was picked up quickly but others took a little longer to get the technique. Afterward with a cup of hot nettle tea Leon explained the importance of the four cornerstones of survival (fire, shelter, water and food) and how we were going to cover each component in the morning. As the fire died down we turned in for the night.

We slept under a tarp (canvas sheet) with rucksacks as pillows and listened to the rain falling above. Camaraderie increased and we laughed into the night about what was to come and we soon felt at home with each other and shared stories.

We slept under the tarp on the first night during heavy rain.

Next day we were up at 7am to collect water from a nearby stream. Following it to the source we collected several litres which were then filtered through special canvas bags (later boiled too) next we went foraging for food. As we walked Leon showed us different plants, fungi and berries and explained that some are good if cooked (Acorns) and others will stop your heart beating within minutes (Foxglove). With this in mind nothing went into the tin without Leon giving it the nod… Other than the last of the blackberries we collected burdock, roots from bulrushes which taste like sweet potato, elderberries and some garlic bulbs from a river bank.

We used Millbank Bags to filter the water we collected before boiling it.

Back at camp we drank more nettle tea and made breakfast.  Flour mixed with water and a sprinkle of raisins made bannock; a basic dough. When cooked it was absolutely delicious. Later we learnt how to gut and skin rabbits which resulted in lunch and dinner which were two very tasty meals added to the other things we had collected.

Once the rabbits were prepared we kept two for spit roasting and the other two were browned and added to a stew.


As the rain continued to fall Leon explained that it was now our turn to build a shelter. I pulled down a previously built shelter made by someone that clearly didn’t have much/any rain to contend with and started over. This was my big mistake. I should have placed new bracken and on the older more compacted leaves to increase the density of the roof covering rather than replacing it. By the time I realised it was too late and I just had to get as much bracken as possible which was very energy sapping.

My loose leaf shelter. My accommodation for night two.

As I unfolded my foam mat and sleeping bag (with broken zip) I feared the worst. I did have an ace card up my sleeve; a bivi bag – a waterproof covering for my sleeping bag so I felt as ready as I would ever be. I wiggled down into my bag hoping that I was the only thing with legs in my bag. Once I found a position that didn’t hurt I prepared for sleep. You yourself will know that point where you exhale deeply as you relax your body for the first time and prepare for a change in consciousness….. well it was at this time I felt a drip land on my forehead. It was only a drip so I wiped it off and still congratulated myself on the shelter I had built. Three and a half hours later with rain dripping from everywhere I could take no more! Fumbling to find my head torch I tried to get out of my sleeping bag which was stuck to me and struggled to pull on my wellies on which were behind my head…not easy in a 3 foot high shelter. I marched up to the tarp used the previous night and closed my eyes… ahhh the joy of a tarp… I quickly slept/passed out.

I opened my eyes…. at last it was morning, AND it wasn’t raining. With more bannock and nettle tea in my tummy we evaluated the success of our shelters. Leon then taught us about making ‘Fire by Friction’. After much effort with the bow and drill I tipped the orange ember into some dry tinder (hay) and teased it into a hot spark and then a flame. The sense of achievement and satisfaction was amazing. It was great to encourage others to keep persevering until they too had smoke then fire. Then we looked at how to turn stinging nettles into cord which I struggled with from the start, but others did really well.

Fire by Friction kit. Bow, spindle, Hearth, and Bearing block.

The last cooking activity was lunch; a sea bream gutted, washed and then slowly cooked on a stick in the heat of the fire, this was fairly straight forward and tasted really good. Finally for the last hour we were shown how to make a wooden spoon using a piece of silver birch. Using a saw and a crook knife we all managed to create something that looked like a spoon. We chatted about what we had learnt and what we would do again and how and much we were looking forward to a hot bath!
You may have noted that I haven’t mentioned the toilet… well this was a survival weekend…. best left at that!

www.wildwoodbushcraft.co.uk

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