Archive for the ‘health’ Category


October 18, 2016




Aretha’s a wonderful little shop in Plaka, dried fruits, herbs, soap, coffee beans, music …

Where else would you find pure Lesbian soap?

Try the dried Greek apricots. On the outside, dry, dusty, but bite into them and release the most delicious flavours.

Why buy tourist tat, when you can take home something special.

Run by the helpful and knowledgeable Yannis.

Caracoli not the best coffee shop in Guildford

July 8, 2016

What I thought would be a quiet cappuccino and cookie, turned into being harangued for an hour by a manager who should either find alternative employment or be fired, as he is not doing the reputation of Caracoli a lot of good.

He did not like my review. Fine, I am not in the business of PR for a coffee shop that is not the best in town. Put a sign outside saying you serve the best coffee in Guildford, a sign that is illegally obstructing the highway, is asking for trouble.

If a a review highlights problems then address the problems, but do not complain.

And yes I am happy to discuss issues raised, and offered, once served a coffee, was willing to sit and discuss in a civilised manner.

But no, had to stand for an hour listening to his petty gripes, and demonstrable ignorance on coffee.

Barista surly. Maybe not always surly, maybe  a bad day, but on the day I was served, she was surly to the point of being rude. I can only describe what I find.

Another bad point of manager, and why he is not fit to be a manager, you do not discuss a member of staff with a customer, unless invited to join the discussion. I felt quite sorry for her, she was trying to do her job within earshot and looked very uncomfortable.

Comany policy to put chocolate in a cappuccino. In that case company policy is wrong. You always ask. That they may not ask in Costa, is irrelevant unless you consider yourself to be in competition with Costa, but then do not masquerade as a quality coffee shop.

I had been told by barista it says included chocolate. I looked on the board. It does not.

He claimed the coffee beans shows roast date.

I pointed out, that when I was looking and could find no roast date, I was asked by a member of staff, could they help me. A member of staff who from our conversation, unlike the manger, was knowledgeable on coffee. I said yes, and queried lack of roast date. Staff member agreed, and said he could tell me beans had been roasted ten days ago. That is fine, if one asks, but it should actually say.

Manager pointed to a series of digits below best by date, that needed a magnifying glass to read. A cursory glance and would assume a batch no. It did not actually say  roast date, simply a sequence of digits.

I just about manged to read. I was shocked by what I saw, and queried to check that what I saw was correct.

The beans were roasted last October, ie October 2015, yes? He agreed yes.

No quality coffee shop would sell beans this old, they are long past their optimum.

With this he disagreed, demonstrating his appalling level of ignorance.

I had noticed before no aroma coming from the bag. I had assumed poor quality packaging. That may be the case, but now I can see may also be due to the age of the beans, long past their optimum.

This is why, often do not see roast date, as then can sell beans not at their best to unsuspecting customers.

If there was anything wrong with our coffee, customers would complain. Not really, there are too many coffee shops that serve undrinkable coffee and they are still in business.

Nothing wrong with our web site. Er, yes, except it provides no information on your coffee.

cappuccino and cookie

cappuccino and cookie

He made a coffee, which was brought out to the terrace.

Watching him make the coffee, he did at least understand that needed to be ground fresh for each coffee. Whether he understood why, a moot point.

It was not good, the surly barista did a better job.

To erect a board outside claiming best coffee in Guildford is laughable. Not undrinkable as would expect from Costa, Caffe Nero or tax-dodging Starbucks, but not good either, not something I would wish to drink again. I left it half drunk.

Now I could see why they added chocolate. To disguise the fact that not very good coffee. Poor quality beans (one wonders how old), lack of ability of the guy who made the coffee.

Caracoli Guildford shattered glass pane 01

Caracoli Guildford shattered glass pane

The terrace is on a suspended glass floor. Whilst I was sitting there, one of the panes shattered. Not spontaneous there was  a reason why.

Concerned by what  saw, I tried to take a picture highlighting the multiple fractures. It was like  car windscreen when hit by a stone.

Manager appeared, shouting at me, wanting to know what I was doing, why I was taking a picture.

I showed him the shattered glass pane, explained the terrace was not safe, and he had to have structural engineers in to check, and that in the meantime, the terrace had to be closed off.

He then blatantly lied, claimed it had been like it for some time. Not true, as minutes before I had witnessed it shatter.

To ‘prove’ it was safe, he walked onto the glass pane. An unbelievable act of crass stupidity. I watched the pane flex. None of the other panes flexed.

He then went on to make a complete fool of himself, claiming he as manger understood the structure of the building, as that was his job. He is managing a coffee shop, and not doing a very good job, but now he is a structural engineer responsible for the building. If it was not so serious, it would be laughable.

I was then ordered to leave, I was only there to cause trouble, and if  did not leave, security would be called.

I replied fine, please call security, I will ensure the media is present.

He stormed off, threatening if I ever walked in again I would be escorted out by security.

Begs the question what security?

I left a little while later.

Caracoli Guildford shattered glass pane

Caracoli Guildford shattered glass pane

As I walked down the stairs, I looked up and could clearly see the fractures. At risk was not only anyone falling through, but anyone below.

Below it is a different store, Steam Trading, selling pots and pans and similar goods. Caracoli occupies the second floor of the building.

I asked for the store manger. An acting manager was available.

I showed her the problem.

She said she had already had to rope off part of her store due to previous cracked pane.

She apologised for the manner in which I had been treated and thanked me for drawing the danger to her attention. She said she would have to contact the owners of the building, and assured me whatever the manger of Caracoli may think, the terrace would be taken out of use.

What I also observed a waiter from North Africa who I had not seen before. A pleasant guy, friendly, but not being well treated, bordered on racism.

Caracoli need to send senior management into this coffee shop, both manager and surly barista need to be kicked out on their ear, you do not, as the manger tried it on, fool around with health and safety, potentially putting lives at risk.

Serious breaches of health and safety, especially if it puts lives at risk,  leads in most companies to instant dismissal, as does cavalier attitude to health  and safety.

Lidl trip hazard and obstacle course

June 27, 2016
Lidl trip hazard and obstacle course

Lidl trip hazard and obstacle course

Two weeks ago in Lidl, boxes and pallets everywhere in the aisles. Quite dangerous. The usual piss-poor service.

Last week, again piss-poor service.

Today, pallets and boxes in the aisles, though not as bad as two weeks ago.

I pushed boxes to one side to stop people tripping, and explained to the shop girl, she should not be leaving boxes in the aisle, someone could trip.

They have got eyes have they not, was the response.

Do their staff have no health and safety training?

I explained to the girl, if someone tripped, she was liable, as was the store.

Once again the usual piss-poor service.


Poundland asbestos hazard

June 27, 2016
Poundland Aldershot

Poundland Aldershot

Why was one of the aisles in Poundland blocked off?

I asked.

The ceiling had collapsed, and asbestos had been exposed.

I was horrified. Why was the store open putting staff and customers at risk?

The store should be closed, the risk assessed, and not reopened until the asbestos is removed.

EHIC fiasco

February 11, 2016



EHIC, or what was E111 card, is a card that in theory entitles to free health care when travelling in Europe. In practice you may found it is not accepted and have to pay or rely upon travel insurance.

My EHIC requires renewal, it expired in January.

I call the number on the card. I get a robot. I wanted a human, I got a robot.

Sometimes it is yes or no, sometimes say what I want, sometimes press a number.

Date of birth a problem, eventually get around that.

Message tells me have to hand National Insurance Number or NHS number. I am asked for EHIC number.

So far so good, until my address.

Robot fails to understand my address. My address could not be simpler.

Several attempts, the robots gets it wrong each time, then passes me to a human. It passes me to a dead line.

I try again. This time I ask the robot for more options. One option is a human. Once again robot passes me to a dead line. I am cut off.

I try their website.

Although I use a password using the mix of characters specified, it fails as non-compliant. We go through this several times. Eventually it accepts my password.

Now, e-mail to be sent to confirm.

No e-mail sent. Several hours later no e-mail recieved.

A QR code is shown, to download EHIC app. I try this. I scan with Kaspersky QR scanner. The link it provides is not valid.

I again try calling. Same problem with robot. It cannot understand my addresses, offers to pass me to a human. Passes me to a dead line, then I am cut off.

I try downloading the EHIC app from Google play. Why does it require access to my photos?

App downloaded and installed and opened. It then starts downloading data. I have never known this happen before. What is this data, nearly 12Mb of data, far larger than the app itself? Data download restarts. Error message, data corrupt, contact developer. I try one more time. Data downloads, all systems go. It beggars belief, all the app does is send me back to the webpage where I started.

The only use for the app would be to apply for or renew EHIC, to display once obtained. These are the very things it does not do.

In the meantime, I send a message to EHIC via facebook. I detail the problems, ask that they call me or e-mail me. They say they reply within the hour. They do not. A reply a couple of hours later. I am told to look in a junk folder as that is where it will be. I had already told them no e-mail received. They do not call me back as I had requested.

Warning: There are a lot of bogus websites that charge for obtaining EHIC. It sis free.

38 Degrees loses the plot

December 23, 2015
Lewisham choir

Lewisham choir

38 Degrees urge me to buy a single promoting the NHS, apparently if enough fools can be pursued to part with their money, it will make the Christmas No 1 spot. Does anyone actually care what is the No 1 spot?

It’s going to be close. In just three days time, the battle for Christmas number one could be won by a group of NHS doctors and nurses who have recorded a song about the NHS.

The Christmas charts are usually dominated by whichever X-Factor song Simon Cowell chooses. But this year, there’s just 2,000 record sales between the NHS song and Justin Bieber. And there are millions of 38 Degrees members. If just 10,000 of us spend the 79p to buy the song, we could make sure the NHS gets to number one.

It’ll mean millions of people will hear that the NHS needs saving over the festive period. The song will be announced on Christmas Day and it’ll raise lots of awkward questions for Jeremy Hunt as every radio station and TV chart show plays the song.Please can you stand with the NHS this Christmas and help get the NHS to the top spot? Just click one of the options below to buy the single and bump the NHS up the charts.

The winner will be announced on Christmas Day at 1pm. Imagine the NHS nurses and doctors switching on the radio during their shifts and hearing the nation has decided the NHS deserves the top spot this year. It might bring an extra smile while they’re looking after our loved ones this Christmas.

Putting the NHS at number one this Christmas will send a powerful message to the staff who make our NHS something to be proud of: thank you. And a ripple through government as millions of people hear the message that the NHS is in trouble. Can you help bump the NHS single to the number one spot and prove Britain loves the NHS?

I do not buy rubbish. Not when there is music around worth buying, musicians worth supporting.

And where do they release this festive  jingle? Er, tax dodging Google and Apple.

Methinks  38 Degrees has lost the plot and scored a massive own goal.

I can see their logic, but not directing to iTunes or Google Play.

Why not direct to bandcamp?

It is also on Amazon, and beggars belief being streamed on Spotify.

Full marks to Justin Bieber for directing his fans to buy the NHS festive jingle, not his own offering. And anything but the garbage promoted by Simon Cowel.

Lunch at Turn Fit Deli

December 18, 2015
Turn Fit Deli

Turn Fit Deli

Turn Fit Deli only opened early this month and shot straight to No 1 coffee spot in Guildford (No 2 jointly shared with FCB coffee kiosk and Harris + Hoole). Word of mouth.

I popped in, with the intention of popping back later for a coffee, got half way down the road, it was cold and damp, thought why not, turned on my heals, returned and had lunch.

Beef ragu. Not something I would as a rule have, a sort of minced beef stew with rice. Spicy, a tad too spicy. But otherwise excellent. Flat wooden spoons. I probably should have used a fork. A man had soup, which he said was excellent, though he commented it was a little too spicy. Not easy, soup with a flat wooden spoon.

Served in a paper pot, which is folded over the top. OK for takeaway, though I can see grave danger of spillage. Far better, paper or card tray or pot, with plant based-cellulose lid (as they do at Iydea in Brighton). All can be recycled through a compost heap. But for eat in, far better on a plate or in a bowl.

egg and bacon muffins

egg and bacon muffins

I learnt they do breakfast. On display egg and bacon muffins. Unusual and looked delicious, though I would not eat, as I do not eat eggs.

I returned later for a cappuccino, and learnt they have a breakfast choice, but cannot recall what, other than I think maybe muesli and porridge may have got a mention.

Minimalist, modern, one large communal table and a little breakfast bar if you wish to people watch by the window.

The large communal table could have a sign, conversation table, as the couple of times I have been in, people friendly and intelligent conversation has ensued. Not what would happen in any of the ghastly chains in Guildford of which there are far too many.

Quiet. One of the big downsides of Harris + Hoole, very noisy downstairs.

We need a network of small business like Turn Fit Deli, either small family business or open coops, each supporting each other.

Next step would be acceptance of faircoin and adoption of a Guildford local currency, something Experience Guildford should be looking into and getting off the ground.

Turn Fit Deli, to be added to places to eat in Guildford.

Dear Mr Hunt

December 2, 2015

Junior doctors voted 98% in favour of strike action.

The first of tree days of strikes was to have been held this week.

Cancelled because finally Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has agreed to talks, but too late for many whose operations were cancelled.

Do we wish to see the Health Service privatised from within, as that is what is happening?

Blood red rain

April 10, 2015
calima - haze caused by dust from Sahara

calima – haze caused by dust from Sahara

Blood red rain is possibly an exaggeration, but high pollution levels in England over the last few days, expected to peak today, with people warned to take care.

High pollution levels to hit southern England, add to the mix pollution from France and dust from the Sahara.

A major spike in air pollution across much of England poses a risk to those suffering from respiratory diseases, older people and children, health charities warned today.

The government pushed its smog alert levels to “very high” – its most extreme pollution warning – for some parts of south east England.

In Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings the official advice for all residents – regardless of their health – to reduce their physical exertion. Older people and children on Easter school holidays have been urged to avoid any strenuous activity at all.

In other areas of England, particularly the south east and Midlands, the smog levels will be high enough to cause problems for those with pre-existing problems.

When The Green Party puts forward someone to speak, it does help to have someone who actually knows what she is talking about.

On World at One (wato) on BBC Radio 4, transport spokesman Caroline Russell welcomed dust from the Sahara, as part of the pollution mix. She added because it made it visible.

An extremely crass comment to make. Any pollution mix is bad, worse than the constituents, a toxic cocktail. Dust from the Sahara is very bad.

Periodically, Tenerife is hit by sub-tropical storms, it turns very warm and what appears to be mist out to sea is dust, when it hits, extensive damage, dust is blown in from the Sahara, everywhere covered in fine yellow dust.

Within days, many people fall sick, coughing, flu-like symptoms, ache, groggy head, fever.

Speaking to a doctor, I asked was it an allegeric reaction, very fine dust penetrating deep into the lungs, or was it carrying in viruses. She said viruses.

I still have bronchitis, a month on from a sub-tropical storm hitting Tenerife. The last few days feeling much worse, coughing, blocked up, tired and weak. I thought maybe high pollen levels. Now I realise, suffering from high pollution levels.

Caroline Russell talked of people walking and cycling and gave a figure of £30 per head. Where did this come from?

Why oh why, did she not talk about bringing railways back into public ownership? Though she did talk about better integrated public transport.

Why oh why did Green Party not put forward Tamsin Omond. Tamsin knows what she is talking about and she is a candidate in London.

A wonderful breath of fresh air, Caroline Lucas on BBC Radio 4 Any Questions. A glimpse of what could have been had the Green Party had the good sense to put Caroline forward for the Seven Party Election Debate last week.

Wato were also at fault. Three main parties on earlier, the usual pathetic drivel. Why were they not put on the spot on air pollution?

When there is a high pollution alert, why is there not a ban on cars entering cities? They do this in France. Public transport is free. Much easier to achieve when public transport is in public ownerhip.

Why are our towns and cities not car free? Follow the examples of Athens, Istanbul, Puerto de la Cruz, Bassano del Grappa, Cascais, Santiago de Compostela, in all of which the old parts of the cities are car free. In Istanbul, deliveries are in the morning or early evening, vehicles park on the outskirts and deliver by handcart.

Aldershot has the crass stupidity, of late afternoon, vehichles permitted to drive through pedestrianised streets. For the last three months, this has not been possible due to the laying of waterpipes. Now people have got out of the habit, make it permament. People have been able to enjoy the benefits over the last three months. There is also more people on the streets late afternoon. This one act, would achieve far more than the crass stupidity coming from the local council.

It is claimed 27,000 deaths a year from air pollution. Where does this figure come from? It sounds an exaggeration, but even if only 2,700, it would still be too high.

People need to exercise more, walk, cycle.

In Cascais along the promenade, and in Tauro Parque in Puerto de la Cruz, there are outdoor exercise machines for people to use, popular and fun to use. Why not install along the seafront in Brighton?

We need a better integrated public transport scheme, cheap, reliable, and in public ownership.

Alton Station is classic how not to. A bus stop marked bus-train interchange, the bus timed to leave as the train arrives.

We need far more information at bus stops (often not even a timetable), and on the buses.

At A Coruña, bus stops have live information, show the buses, where they are, estimated time of arrival.

Across Europe, next stop displayed on the bus and announced in English and the local language.

The HS2 gravy train should be scrapped. The money invested in improving the existing rail network.

Why are developments permitted that will only cause an increase in air pollution?

1720s Tumbledown Dick demolished for a 200+ seater Drive Thru McDonald’s.

Air pollution would rule out additional runways at Heathrow or Gatwick, or any airport expansion in the south of England. Mayor Boris has already vetoed expansion of London City Airport.

air pollution forecast Friday 10 April 2015

air pollution forecast Friday 10 April 2015

Exercise helps fight Alzheimer’s disease

February 7, 2015
brain scan

brain scan

Evidence continues to accumulate that physical activity can help hold off the changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease and perhaps the devastating symptoms of the disease itself.

The latest information comes from researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, who looked at 317 late-middle aged adults and determined that those who exercised five times a week or more had fewer of the age-related changes in the brain that are associated with the disease and did better on cognitive tests.

Age remains the single greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s, greater even than having the gene found in many people with the disease, the study confirmed. But “what we have shown here is that physical activity diminishes the deleterious influence of age,” said Ozioma Okonkwo, an assistant professor of medicine at the school who led the study.

People who exercised had less accumulation of beta amyloid plaque, the proteins that build up in the brains of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. They had less shrinkage of the hippocampus and less reduction in use of glucose in the brain, two other symptoms of the disease.

And they had fewer neurofibrillary tangles, twisted fibers inside brain cells of people with Alzheimer’s. When researchers tested the people who worked out, they did better on memory and visual-spatial tests.

An increasing amount of research has shown that exercise can help hold off Alzheimer’s disease, including this study, which The New York Times called “inspiring.” The University Wisconsin research, published in November in the journal Neurology, adds strong evidence from examinations of the subjects’ brains to support that conclusion.

“A large body of work, including observational and intervention studies, has shown that physical activity is beneficial for maintaining cognitive function and delaying the onset of (Alzheimer’s disease) and related diseases among older adults,” the researchers wrote. “However, it is only recently that studies have begun to investigate the potential effects of physical activity on biological markers” associated with the disease.

People in the study were recruited from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention. About three quarters of them have a family history of the disease, which puts them at greater risk for developing it. They were assigned to the active group if they worked out at moderate intensity for 30 minutes a day, at least five times a week.

Okonkwo said his group’s “observational study” needs to be followed up with a true controlled study in which people are assigned to work out for various amounts of time.

Nevertheless, he said, “exercise does have some real potency in diminishing one’s risk of Alzheimer’s, assuming one was on that path to begin with.”

Republished from Washington Post.