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Living with an Alcoholic – follow up story

Alcoholism affects everyone in a family

Alcoholism affects everyone in a family

We have had several readers writing in following our feature Living with an Alcoholic published in May this year and here is another account we have received

When I heard about the death of the husband of a dear friend of mine I was shocked. Stewart was a charming, very active and creative man. He had suffered a massive heart attack. He was 70 years old.

Born in India to English parents he and his siblings were sent to what are referred to as lesser public schools when the family returned to England.

Stewart served in the British army in the Far East, he was caught and interned by the Japanese.

When he returned home the three children were away at school and his wife had become a well known architect.

Not unusually, Stewart was a drinker, which became heavier as time passed. He travelled to London three times a week by train from Gloucestershire. His behaviour was such that he used to be taken to Paddington station and put on the train by the taxi driver. He would be met by another taxi driver in deepest Gloucestershire who would drive him home and help him into the house.

He usually managed the stairs  but if not his wife would cover him with a blanket and leave him there, after all she couldn’t move him.

He had promised over and over to stop drinking, but his wife knew he hadn’t stopped as she found bottles hidden all over the house, even finding one in his dressing gown that hung on the bathroom door.

She often spoke of the stress of living with an alcoholic and said her doctor had warned that her her blood pressure was sky high. He told her if Stewart hadn’t died when he did, she wouldn’t have lived much longer.

As it was she lived for another 15 years but always felt guilty for not being able to help him stop drinking even though she did accept he alone was responsible for his behaviour.

Jean Jarvis, contributing author

Some websites offering support:

NHS Support
Support for Families and Friends

If you would like to send in an account of a personal experience that you feel might help others, do get in touch. I can assure you of complete confidentiality.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor


Tropical Fruits Giveaway – Are you a Winner?


The winners of the Tropical Fruits Giveaway are:

K Bolton, Wilts
N Clifford, London
L Jeffs, London
K Christodoulou, Herts
S Darby, London
D Johnson, Devon
H Izzard, Manchester
C McLeary, London
D Criscuolo, Surrey
D Hilliard, Powys

Not a winner? Perhaps you didn’t include all your contact details. Two entries drawn didn’t include postal details so we had to draw again.

Why miss out on future giveaways we will be offering soon … books, skincare, tickets to shows …  Just click on the Sign me up! box at the bottom of the righthand column


Miró the Surrealist – Major Retrospective 2011

Approach to Miró the Surrealist - Major Retrospective Tate Modern 2011

Approach to Miró the Surrealist - Major Retrospective Tate Modern 2011

The major retrospective of Joan Miró the Surrealist at Tate Modern 2011 comes to an end on Sunday, 11 September.

Renowned as one of the greatest Surrealist painters, working in luxuriant colour, Miró worked in a rich variety of styles. This is a rare opportunity to enjoy more than 150 paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints created across six decades of an extraordinary career.

Give yourself at least two hours to take in this exhibition, I went round twice, using the audio commentary. I came out rather over ‘Miróed’ but completely in awe of his range of artistic styles. Overall I looked at The Farm for the longest. It has such a story to tell, I could have looked at it for hours and even then found something new to see.

This really was intended as a must-see exhibition by Tate Modern and for once I agree. If you can squeeze in a visit this weekend I think you won’t regret it.

The last exhibition tour on Saturday is at 12.15 for just 15 visitors. This costs £5 plus of ticket £15.50, concessions £13.50. The exhibition closes on Sunday. You can Book online or call 020 7887 8888.


Christiane Kubrick Wife of the late Stanley Kubrick Exclusive Interview + Book Giveaway

Christiane Kubrick at her easel

Christiane Kubrick at her easel

Last century, there were a few film directors who rewrote cinema. Apart from London-born Alfred Hitchcock, geographically the closest to South East film buffs was Stanley Kubrick, New York born but happily settled in Childwickbury, just north of St Albans, for many years before his death.

Known as an obsessive who valued his own privacy and space above all else – his classic A Clockwork Orange was withdrawn from circulation for many years in the UK because he didn’t want to engage in discussion about its potential for social harm – it’s hardly surprising that this silent iceberg of a talent had the potential to overshadow his talented wife, German-born Christiane.

Life is always hard for the lesser-known partner in a well-known relationship. Whatever their achievement, they always face the danger of being just a footnote to a more famous life. However, Christiane Kubrick has always done her own thing and has gained an international reputation as an artist to boot.

Descended from a melange of theatre directors, actors, writers and musicians, Christiane’s parents were opera singers and encouraged her into a career in the theatre, although her impulse was always to paint. However, she found early success as a dancer and actress – this included leading roles in theatre, radio, TV and film productions, when she was seen by Stanley who cast her in the only female part in the film Paths of Glory.

But the desire to paint never left her. Despite family commitments, she continued painting, studying at UCLA, the Art Students League in New York and at St Martin’s School of Art in London.

Then, following a family move to the UK in the 1960s, she began to exhibit – the Cork Street Galleries the Grosvenor Gallery, the Drian Gallery and the Mercury Gallery. Later, Christiane was elected Chair of the Women’s International Art Club, founded with a legacy from suffragette and artist Sylvia Pankhurst to defy a law that prohibited women from exhibiting their paintings. And she was also chosen four times for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

At the same time, her work appeared in her husband’s films – in a curious mirror image of wardrobe designer Shirley Russell’s contribution to her husband Ken – as well as in works by Steven Spielberg, on a CD cover design for cellist Alexander Baillie and the cover for a novel by Gabriel García Márquez. Her paintings have been widely collected in the USA and Europe, with both prints and posters published, first by Athena Fine Art Posters and latterly by the Bentley Publishing Group. Many are reproduced in a series of fine art books in Japan and in 1990 a selection was published by Warner Books in a book Christiane Kubrick Paintings* selected as Art Book of the Year on American television.

Enough? No, there’s more! In keeping with the theatrical tradition in her family, she designed the sets for the Palace Opera’s successful production of Hansel and Gretel which was chosen by the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London to be its Christmas Show for two consecutive years.

That experience of theatre design led her to use an Apple Macintosh computer and the computer program ‘Painter’. She now uses these as a complement to her painting and also as a tool in her multimedia projects. Her recent activities include exhibitions for Art in Action at Waterperry (Oxon) and Open Studios (Herts).

She teaches regularly at workshops in Hertfordshire and Shropshire, as well as exhibiting and selling her work over the web.

Remembering Stanley

Remembering Stanley

So, that’s Christiane Kubrick – artist, creator, woman, mother. Ask her about Stanley and you get the stock response: “As and when the time comes that I feel I must say more, I will.” But that’s no problem – she’s a fascinating force in her own right. And she demands, in the nicest possible way, her own identity as an artist. “I don’t know whether Stanley wrote anything about my painting,” she says. “He might have mentioned it when he used my work in his films, but I’m afraid that’d be too long a search!”

Let us then take Christiane Kubrick as her own person, an artist of substance – ironic, humorous, whimsical but full of substance.

Here she is in conversation with In Balance magazine in 2007

IB: Have you always painted?
CK: I have painted all my life, I have painted professionally, from the age of 25 – before that I needed to learn how to draw. I come from an extremely theatrical family, so that’s all I ever really knew, opera and stuff. And I had a puppet theatre from day one it seems to me and I repainted the puppets and I learnt how to sew, I really learned painting, sculpture and sewing and all that in my wish to build the theatre and I made sets – sadly I don’t have them any more because the early ones must have been very funny.

IB: That was important to you?
CK: I know I gave it everything I had and I started to play with electric lights and water – nearly killed myself!

When I think hard, because the children have asked me about these things, I think it was when I had all the childhood diseases. When I had scarlet fever I remember just doing the theatre for weeks – that’s why I think I was better in class at drawing than the other children, just simply by doing it all the time.

Later I studied at St Martin’s School of Art and wherever I could in between babies and stuff!

IB: You’re German. What’s your background?
CK: I was born in 1932 in Braunschweig, a town in North Germany. I then lived in many different places as my parents were opera singers. Later, I was evacuated and I lived in my Nan’s relatives house in a brickworks, in the countryside. Then I lived with lots of other people after the war and went to boarding school.

I was 23 when I met Stanley and we got married a year or so later. I had been married before – criminally young – and had my eldest daughter, Katherine, in Germany before I went to the US. Stanley and I had Vivien who lives in California and Anya**.

IB: Moving to your paintings, the colours you use are very vivid, strong. Are they what you see or what you’d prefer them to be?
CK: I tend to see the world in bright colours, but now I’m longing to use more muted versions. I hope it comes not from growing older but from being more sensitive.

IB: So your style changes …
CK: Yes, it goes in phases. It’s a bit like handwriting – one day you write and it looks okay and another day you think how beautiful and neat it looks. Seems to be true of painting too.

IB: Do you sell most of your work?
CK: Well, it goes in waves, I sold very well at first on the Internet but that was because I was riding on Stanley’s coat tails and when he died lots more people looked me up, otherwise I think I wouldn’t be looked up that much. So that was good for sad reasons. It seems to have evened out. I sell at ‘Art in Action’, I sell to people who collect my work – overall I have sold a little over half my work. Of course, when I was young I sold them very cheap and I sold lots!

IB: Away from art, what makes you angry?
CK: The war in Iraq, but it’s not something I want to speak publicly about …

IB: What don’t you want to talk about when you’re asked for interviews?
CK: Some journalists are very clever and they surprise you. I hate that perplexed moment when you gush out the first thing that comes to your mind, or you are dumbfounded and you say nothing. Either way you look a fool.

IB: What sort of things?
CK: There were a lot questions about whether Stanley minded my being German – that kind of thing. People just assume that you’re a kiss and tell person – that’s insulting. I didn’t want to appear to be an idiot – it was that very thing that Stanley was afraid of with the press. He said that you do your very best, you work very hard and you only show the stuff you think is really good and then in an interview it’s undermined by nervous babble. He only wanted to talk about things he had considered carefully. He didn’t think he was quick witted enough to cope with intense interviews.

IB: Of course, you were married to Stanley and supported him. But what did you personally think of his films?
CK: I liked all his films, each one in its own way as they were very different from each other. As a painter I liked very much Barry Lyndon and 2001 – I liked the last one very much. Perhaps I felt the least connection with Full Metal Jacket where the topic was more alien, but I thought that was a good film as well.

So much time was spent on each one they represent whole periods of my life and I don’t have a favourite film. It depends on my mood at the time.

IB: He worked at home, though? So you were involved?
CK: He worked at home and prepared the film at home. It usually started when he read a story he really liked and he would talk about that particular story and how he could make it. Then, if it was really something he thought would work, he would make a budget and work out the casting. It took a long time to do it carefully and he enjoyed the preparation enormously. The driving force was a longing to see the story on screen.

IB: So you knew everything that was going on with his films while he was making them?
CK: Yes, because it happened at home.

IB: What did you learn from him?
CK: I learned from Stanley that you had to be thorough and patient, not self indulgent. He was good at putting different hats on. He was producer, business man, director. One instance I can remember was where he really liked a particularly long scene. He said “I think it’s particularly wonderful but it’s too long. It doesn’t help the whole enough for me to put it in.” And he whittled away at it. Often it was very painful to let go of something he thought was really good and he’d put it in, take it out, suffer in other words, but he also expected to do that. Paintings are slightly more protected because they will be there no matter what. The worst thing that could happen is I don’t sell but there are no other people pulled in, no one else suffers and the whole thing doesn’t collapse because I do a lousy painting. Film is different, it is so big and expensive. It needs ability and endurance to succeed, only a few people can do it, and Stanley did.

Val Reynolds Brown & Dave Reeder

1. Christiane Kubrick at her easel © Pintail Media
2. Remembering Stanley © Christiane Kubrick

** Died 1999

August 2011:
I met Christiane recently when she generously offered a copy of her book to give away to an In Balance reader

If you would like to enter the prize draw send an email to with Christiane Kubrick Paintings in the subject box and your full contact details in the text box.
Last day of entry 10 November 2011. One entry per household.


Rosemary A Herb for Health


Rosemary © Pintail Media

Will Shakespeare knew rosemary. The plant that is! In ‘Hamlet’, Ophelia states the long-held belief “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”

It’s now known that antioxidants in rosemary help prevent aging in cells and aging is associated with memory loss. Pregnant women may be advised to avoid large doses as a medicine in case it induces abortion – but otherwise it’s a beautiful-smelling, super-tasting safe herb.

Respected as a holy, magical and healing plant, one legend maintains the original flowers of rosemary turned from white to blue when the Virgin Mary spread the Christ-Child’s linen, or her own cloak, to dry on a rosemary bush. (Actually the flowers vary in colour, blue, pink or white, depending on the species and variety). In some areas it’s said to bloom at midnight on Old Christmas Eve, 17th January, (though usually later on, in the spring).

Another gardening anecdote relates it growing well not only for the righteous but for a woman who rules her husband and household. To stop gossip, some husbands removed the root so the bush died! Greek scholars, sitting exams, wore garlands of rosemary, believing it helped mental concentration by improving blood flow to the brain. Since the thirteenth/fourteenth centuries, rosemary has been known worldwide as ‘Queen of Hungary’, after the Hungarian Queen was certain her paralysis (maybe gout or rheumatism) had been cured by ‘Hungary water’. This was probably produced by macerating rosemary flowers and flowering tips for a month in alcohol, then straining through fine muslin and taken medicinally in 1 tspn doses.

As a symbol of fidelity in love in Elizabethan times, flowering sprigs were woven into the bridal wreath; bridesmaids, groomsmen and wedding guests were given sprays of rosemary tipped with gold and tied with coloured ribbon, while at the wedding feast, sprigs of rosemary were dipped into the wine before the bridal pair had a drink, to ensure happiness and love. New Year guests were given rosemary plus an orange adorned with cloves. At funerals, to denote the deceased would not be forgotten quickly, rosemary was included in wreaths, and small sprays carried by the mourners, were strewn on the coffin as it was lowered into the ground. A sprig of rosemary fastened to a doorpost, was said to ward off witches and stop snakes entering, while rosemary attached to clothes, offered protection from evil spirits, witches, fairies, thunder, lightning, physical injury, assault, and the plague. Judges wore a sprig to defend themselves from being infected by those brought before them. As for incense, if unavailable, rosemary was burnt. There’s a recipe for rosemary incense in ‘Leslie Kenton’s Healing Herbs’ (see Notes below).

Rosemary originated in areas bordering the Mediterranean, appreciating the full sun and close proximity of the ocean; hence its name from the Latin, ros and marinus, dew of the sea. Popular in monastic gardens, it was brought over the Alps to northern Europe by the first Christian monks.

In Britain it should be treated as a half-hardy perennial, tolerating a poor but benefiting far more from a well-drained soil. Pinching out the tip of the main shoot will encourage side growth – it can grow up to 2 metres (6ft). Dwarf varieties grown in pots, have the advantage of being easy to transport indoors for the winter. Propagation is by seeds, cuttings or layering. Cuttings, best taken from a woody shoot in late summer, will need protection from frost and cold winds while young.

Fortunately rosemary can be harvested fresh all year round but if not possible, it can be dried. If flowering tips are to be dried or frozen, cut the sprigs when the flowers are open. To dry the leaves, pick the sprigs before flowering, and hang them in a warm (not above 40°C/104°F), airy place, away from direct sunlight. Don’t leave them hanging up for ages or they’ll become tasteless and gather dust. Better, use a flavour-sealing, quick dry method – spread them on a tray covered with muslin, place it in the warming drawer of a (used!) oven or an airing cupboard and leave for a few days until they are dry but still green. Then they can be stored whole, wrapped in paper, in a drawer or dry, dark larder or the woody stems discarded and the leaves placed in dark-glass bottles.

As said at the start, rosemary is a safe herb. Germany’s ‘Commission E’ (conductors of the first comprehensive study of herbal medicine) found that drinking rosemary leaf infusions helped problems with upset stomachs, indigestion and appetite loss, while the external use of infusions and oil could ease circulatory complaints and rheumatism. Rosemary essential oil has potent antioxidant, antiseptic and antimicrobial abilities.

Some old remedies may at first seem strange (such as to prevent giddiness by combing hair daily with a comb made of rosemary wood), but research is frequently confirming our ‘wise’ past knowledge of plants. Gerard in his ‘Herbal’ of 1636 recommends the distilled water of the flowers, drunk morning and evening, as a mouthwash/breath freshener, while nearly a hundred years later, boiling cider with a sprig of rosemary for 15 minutes and drinking it at bedtime, was remedied for increasing sweating to reduce a cold.

Nasal congestion can be eased with this homemade chest rub (though not if the skin is broken, sore or sensitive). Pour boiling water over a handful of rosemary flowers and leaves, leave for 25 minutes and then strain. Transfer the contents of a small jar of vaseline into a heatproof bowl placed in a saucepan of boiling water. When melted, add the rosemary infusion and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring well. Remove from the heat and when cool, stir in 8 drops of oil of rosemary, stirring again before applying to the chest. (Don’t store this in a fridge).

For those suffering from asthma, see if this infusion can help, taken each morning during a bad spell; a pinch each of rosemary, orange flower water and thyme in a cup of boiling water.

Could rosemary be of help in the treatment or delay of Alzheimer’s disease? Rosemary contains compounds that will retard the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) playing a key role in cognition and reasoning. As these compounds can be absorbed through the skin, regular use of a rosemary shampoo, either a commercial one or rosemary tincture added to a herbal shampoo could prove beneficial.

The pain of neuralgia may be eased with an infusion of combined rosemary leaves, lavender flowers and lime blossom, or the infusion used as a compress, placed warm on the affected area. Even a little sprig of rosemary placed inside the mouth may help.

For someone who has fainted, one or two drops of rosemary essential oil on a tissue or a handful of leaves crushed into a ball, held under the nostrils can help to revive, backed up with an infusion of 1 or 2 tsp of crushed leaves in a cup of boiling water.

An infusion of 2tspn of dried rosemary per cup of boiling water can bring relief from pain, including pre-menstrual symptoms, or place 56g (2ozs) of rosemary in a muslin/cloth bag and leave it in the water when running a bath. Likewise, rosemary added to a footbath is great for tired, swollen feet.

Rosemary oil can be purchased or made at home, to use eg for massaging onto painful joints and bruises. Pour a cupful of olive or almond oil over two handfuls of rosemary leaves in a jam jar, cover with a piece of muslin or cheesecloth secured with a rubber band and leave for 2 to 3 weeks on a sunny windowsill. Then strain it into small screw top jars and store it in the dark.

An ointment which may soothe eczema, skin irritations and rheumatism is easily made by melting in an enamel pan, 1tbsp rosemary oil with 4 tbsp white petroleum jelly. Stir it well and then put in small jars and cover when cold.

Aromatherapists use essential oil of rosemary in a massage during treatment for depression, whilst a morning drink of rosemary infusion can also be beneficial. However, if suffering from high blood pressure, rosemary must be avoided in aromatherapy treatment as it stimulates circulation.

Extracts of rosemary are often found in proprietary soaps, perfumes, toilet waters and hair preparations. As a hair treatment, since massaging the scalp stimulates the circulation, helps decrease dandruff and encourages hair growth, massaging using one part rosemary oil to two parts almond (or olive) oil, can promote healthy hair and even a better memory. And a rosemary infusion as a final rinse can benefit dark, dull or oily hair.

There’s a useful decoction recipe for puffy eyes in The Herbal Health and Beauty Book (see Notes below), while the New Herb Bible (see Notes) includes rosemary in recipes for an antiseptic mouthwash, a soothing bath oil, a skin cleanser, a scrub, a tonic and a soap. To refresh skin that is sensitive and dry, try applying twice weekly, a hot compress of rosemary and mauve flowers.

Within the home, small bags made from muslin or cheesecloth and filled with dried rosemary, can be placed in clothes drawers to help deter moths while providing a fragrant smell. Or make a little herb pillow containing rosemary, cloves and nutmeg. Rosemary was one of the herbs used in tussie-mussies (nosegays), needed in the Middle Ages to hide bad smells, but also believed to protect the holder from disease as well as being presented as declarations of love, (rosemary for remembrance). Fresh sprays of leaves and flowers in a vase, in a herb wreath or a pot-pourri can help cleanse the air and provide perfume, while burning rosemary sprigs outdoors can keep insects at bay. Rosemary essential oil can be added to furniture polish and to wax or oil when making candles.

Before fridges and freezers were invented, rosemary was placed with meat so to some extent its antimicrobial properties could help preserve the meat. The aromatic, pungent leaves are used, fresh or dried, with lamb, beef, chicken, pork and fish, while the flowers and chopped young leaves can be added to salads. Rosemary is contained in the Herbes de Provence seasoning blend. It adds flavour to grilled meat, barbeques, ratatouilles, sauces, etc; to mushrooms, soup, soft cheese; to biscuits and jam, as well as to fruit-cups and mulled wine. (It’s one of the herbs used in vermouth). Using fresh sprigs allows them to be removed easily before serving. Additionally, bees feeding on rosemary, produce excellent honey. For an easy-to-make rosemary, garlic and pepper oil, look in ’A Handful of Herbs’ (see Notes).

And how about trying my recipe for
ROSEMARY AND CHEDDAR SCONES (Makes 20-30 depending on the cutter size) 340g (12oz) self-raising flour
Salt and pepper
40g (1oz) butter or margarine
1 level 5ml tsp dried rosemary
100g (3oz) grated cheddar cheese
1 beaten egg
140ml (1pt) milk
Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F, Gas Mark 8)
In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt and pepper, rub in the margarine and then add the rosemary and cheese, mixing well.
Stir in the beaten egg (reserving a little for brushing the tops), and then the milk.

Again mix well. Roll out on a floured board until 1cm thick. Cut into rounds, place on a greased baking sheet, brush the tops with the beaten egg and if you like, sprinkle extra grated cheese on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Leslie Kenton’s Healing Herbs Paperback edition published by Vermilion (Random House), London, 2002. ISBN 0-091-88428-4

The Herbal Health and Beauty Book by Hilary Boddie. Published by Optima (Little, Brown and Company (UK) Ltd, 1994 ISBN 0-356-21030-8 contains herbal remedies for health problems such as dizziness and laryngitis, as well as beauty treatments for the face, feet and hair.

New Herb Bible by Caroline Foley, Jill Nice and Marcus A.Webb. Published by David & Charles, Devon, 2002. ISBN 0 7153 1363 0

A Handful of Herbs by Barbara Segall, Louise Pickford & Rose Hammick. Published by Ryland Peters & Small, London, 2001. ISBN 1-84172-109-3 combines the notes of a horticulturalist and a food writer, illustrated with suitably refined photos; includes ideas for scented candles, a wreath of herbs, a recipe for rosemary and garlic flavoured pizza/bread, the use of rosemary for finishing touches to a dining table, for adding perfume and decoration to a room, even for adding perfume to writing ink.

All the books are linked to the Amazon website for easy ordering.

Sìne Chesterman
Sìne’s interest in gardening and botany started at an early age with her own patch in her parents’ garden, and learning which plants were natural healers. Brought up with old and tested remedies, and gardening methods, now termed ‘organic’, she still practises natural ways of pest control.  


Puppy Problems 3: Winnie Eats Too Much

Winnie’s Woes – Winnie eats too much … 

Written from Winnie’s point of view

Winnie in her basket

Winnie in her basket

That was a lovely lunch. I really enjoyed the crunchy bits and the soggy meaty stuff. I feel quite full so perhaps I’ll have a snooze whilst Claire is upstairs before our next walk. She’s shut me in the kitchen so I guess she might be a while.

Oh, what’s this – Claire has left the door to the pantry open. I’ll just put my nose next to that crack in the door. Oh … that smells nice … mmm, smells like those delicious biscuits we have on walks. I love those.

I better just leave them alone. She probably wouldn’t like it if I go in there. The door is usually closed – I’ve checked several times …

I’ll go and have a lie down. Put the thought of extra biscuits out of my mind.

Bored …

Bored and slightly peckish …

Hmmmmm …

Now I don’t feel so tired, I just want to have a peek at those biscuits.

Wait, what’s that noise? Is it Claire? She’s coming down the stairs! Oh no she isn’t. She’s just walking around upstairs, on the phone …

I’ll just have a look at the biscuits. I’ll just shove this door aside with my nose. Ow, that didn’t work, paw then. Yes, that’s better. Mmm, the biscuits, they do look yummy. I know I’ve just eaten but it’s a long time until tea time and I do get hungry in the afternoon, especially after our walk …

I’m sure she won’t mind, or notice, if I just have a few, just a couple of nibbles.

They’re so delicious! I can’t stop eating. Maybe I should just try and eat as many as I can before she comes downstairs. Hmph-munch-yum-dee-hmh-lish-hmp-usss!

Oh dear! My tummy hurts! Oh my goodness, look at it, it’s huge. Ooowwww, oh it hurts so much. I’ve eaten far too many biscuits. Almost half the bag is gone! And on top of my lunch. Crikes, she won’t fail to notice that. Oowwww. Whine whine …

Winnie, are you okay?

Oh, cuddles. Careful, my tummy hurts … whine whine

Oh no, she looks confused, she’s patting my tummy.

Winnie … blah blah blah, biscuits … 

Oh no, she’s seen the open door! Oh please don’t find the bag … oh she has, and she’s looking at me again … oh dear, she looks upset … please don’t tell me off!

Winnie … .blah blah blah blah blah

Oh more cuddles, and stroking. Oh now she’s picked me up. Where am I going?! The garden? Oh, OK, I guess maybe she wants me to go to the toilet … trouble is I don’t feel like doing one yet … Oh my poor tummy!

Whine whine, pitiful whining …

Note from Claire: Poor Winnie was only doing what little golden retrievers do best – eat! I thought I’d closed the pantry door and I’d also left her biscuits at a silly level so she could get at them too easily. Her tummy eventually went back down again, but it was a bit like waiting for Pooh Bear to get thin again when he got stuck in Rabbit’s front door.

Breeder’s advice:

Young puppies will be extremely inquisitive and you must be one jump ahead. Some things could even lead to the death of your puppy – chocolate for instance. Overeating dry food could (on rare occasions) cause the stomach to bloat and if it then twists, you have a real emergency on your hands. Two courses of action can be taken: either invest in child proof locks or simply keep anything edible on a high shelf and – possibly – in a “chew proof” container.

Pat Thomas bred her first litter in 1971 and has bred Border Collies, Irish Setters, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Papillions, Labradors and, of course, Golden Retrievers.

Although Winnie is not yet in season most of her litter is booked. This is usually the case, although too many of one sex can be a problem. As a Kennel Club Accredited Breeder, Pat has free access to the Kennel Club website and if she have any puppies not sold, she puts them on there. However, mostly the pups are sold by word of mouth and families returning for a second, third and even a fourth puppy.

Part 1: Winnie discovers digging is not a popular activity!
Part 2: Winnie Eats a Shoe

Have you read the bestseller The Puppy that came for Christmas …  A true story that has appealed to dog lovers and non-dog owners alike – it is both truly heart warming and heart wrenching.

Recommended Links:

Anythingdogz – an excellent website owned and run by Lisa Evans, an In Balance reader

Helpful Holidays offer holiday cottages in the West Country that welcome dogs.  See their Helpful Holidays website.


Jane Eyre – Major New Film – Giveaway Copies of Penguin Classic

Penguin Classic - Film tie-in

Penguin Classic - Film tie-in

The Penguin Classic Jane Eyre is the tie-in book for the major new film directed by Cary Fukunaga to be released next Friday, 9 September.

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell and Judi Dench it promises to be an exciting version of a wonderful story.

Orphaned Jane Eyre undergoes a baptism of fire – from suffering the cruelty of her coldhearted relatives to the harsh regime at a charity school. Emerging from these experiences a fiery heroine, Jane challenges inequality and the hypocrisy of her keepers. But the strictures of her upbringing are a thing apart when faced with her love for the brooding Mr Rochester and the secrets of his dark past.

Bronte’s controversial proto-feminist classic has had over eighteen film adaptations. Cary Fukunaga, the director of this 2011 versions, says ‘I’m a stickler for raw authenticity, so I’ve spent a lot of time rereading the book. Other adaptations treat it like it’s just a period romance, and I think it’s much more than that.’

Radical in its time for its depiction of women and its challenge to accepted class standards, Jane Eyre has attained enduring significance for combining these controversial issues with a classic love story.

Charlotte Bronte (1816-55) was the eldest sister of novelists Emily and Anne Bronte. Jane Eyre appeared in 1847 and was followed by Shirley (1848) and Villette (1853). In 1854 Charlotte Brontee married her father’s curate, Arther Bell Nicholls. She died on 31 March 1855 in Haworth, Yorkshire, and The Professor was posthumously published in 1857.

This is one of our all-time favourite books and are so looking forward to seeing the new film version.



We have three copies to give away to In Balance readers
To enter the draw send an email to with Jane Eyre – Cary Fukunaga’s new film in the subject box and your full contact details in the text box
Make sure your entry reaches us by latest 5 October 2011
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