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The Food of Love

843 560 Vita Burton-Davey, Working to be better each day

herbs and oil

I like cooking. I am a fairly good cook. My friends and family are generally very complimentary about the meals they have shared with me.

It is not, however, the applause nor the mastering of the skills involved in cooking which gives me pleasure: it is the understanding that the love involved in making a meal for friends or family is a gift which is given back a thousand fold.

I love good food and care about how it is produced and where it comes from. If I have grown the food myself, even if the ingredient is a handful of herbs, the whole dish carries more love, it carries more meaning for me and more care for the consumer.

Consumer – the loved one consuming the meal I have prepared.
Consumed – the loved ones being eaten.



The love, and the care extends to all: I choose my vegetables with care, growing what I can and finding or inventing recipes to use a wide range of seasonal herbs, vegetables and fruit. I choose the meat I cook with the utmost care. Animal husbandry and the environment are important considerations in the choices I make. I have chosen to eat meat after careful thought (and after several forays into vegetarianism) and am very aware of how much I use, how many meals contain it and its provenance. I care about the people I cook meals for.

Love is the essential ingredient in cooking: both for the cook and the cooked for. It is hard work preparing meal after meal for family and it is hard work preparing a special meal for friends but the love involved in this daily act of nurturing makes it a gift to the self, as well as to family or friends. It makes the labour a labour of love.

There is something very basic about preparing food for others and for oneself which reaches back through the ages and reconnects us with reality rather than the modern construct we inhabit. We need to eat and if the food we eat is homemade our sense of wellbeing and security is also fed. If we have given time and energy in producing the food, if we have plucked it from the earth, washed it and incorporated it in the dish we serve, the gift we give is magnified. If we have bought the individual ingredients, choosing the best on offer and prepared the meal from scratch, we have earned the appreciation of those we share our meal with and can feel satisfied with what we have done.



Visceral satisfaction is quite rare in many people’s daily lives. Unless one is involved in very practical work or play, it will be something that is seldom experienced. The physical act of cooking is immensely rewarding. Once one has gained some experience, there is a meditative quality to cooking and one can lose oneself in the routine of a regularly prepared meal or anticipate the reception that a popular family dish will elicit.

Cooking and eating are very sensory activities. The smell, look and texture of the food we eat and of course the taste, combine to bring us an experience other than that of merely sustaining ourselves. Washing of vegetables is an extremely tactile and tender act. Cleansing to ensure the health of those who will eat the food we make is an act of basic care. Peeling and chopping and heating have been a part of food preparation since pre-history. That link, back to our past, can be felt in the body and the heart when we make a meal. I believe that the inherent knowledge that food is precious and that it need be respected, is embodied in the act of selecting, cooking it and being mindful whilst eating it. This is felt more strongly as one gives more and more attention and love to the processes involved.


The loss of this connection which fast food and ready meals have brought has led to food being undervalued, factory farmed and homogenised to extremes. Many of us do not want to bear witness to the reality of the suffering of factory farmed animals. Most animals suffer in death and to only consider their end is to close our eyes to the longer term suffering which is for most part, their lives. I do not kid myself that good animal husbandry, free range and organic or small farm produced meat, means that there is no suffering but within my choice to eat meat, I do my best to care for the consumed. Most of us turn a blind eye to the waste involved in the production of fruit and vegetables with barely a blemish or size discrepancy. Do we really care if our apples are all the same size and shape?

When cooking for family and cooking for friends our love and our care extends far beyond the immediate, far out into the world. Loving cooks are true environmentalists, true lovers and true friends… of those who are close to us and of the earth we share with all living things. The things we need to eat!

‘And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead
are standing about you and watching….

Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.’




Time Is The Real Luxury Asset

1024 640 Marta Bellamoli, Marketing Co-ordinator


Every era in history has pros and cons. Many people will argue a simpler life with no technology lends to great happiness. Some people say an agrarian society slowed the pace of life and focused on the importance of family. Life 100 years ago promoted more physical activity outside. Every era could potentially be seen as great.



Based on the comparative past, the period of history in which we currently live could be considered the greatest. Getting information is easy, life expectancy is higher and infant mortality is lower; we have a better medical response and disease protection. Electricity, education, safety help us to improve our lives.

Despite what it looks like, we are actually living through the most paradoxical period in world history. We have a complete comfort but we have the feeling that our time is never enough as an endless day would be necessary to cover all our commitments. Prosperity and wealth are not enough but time is everything.

Quoting William Henry Davies, poet and writer:

“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare. […] No time to see, in broad daylight, streams full of stars, like skies at night. No time to turn at Beauty’s glance, and watch her feet, how they can dance. A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”

Time is the most precious resource that humans possess and we are all equal in how much we have: we all have 24 hours each day to live as best as we can. How we spend our time and how we earn make the difference between one person and another.

Time is the fundamental need for yacht or jet owners. Time is far more important than the opulence of the boat or having the latest of the aircraft. Countless people spend a lot of money to buy, equip and maintain that boat or that jet which unfortunately they do not have time to enjoy or they use for an infinitesimal part of the year.

How much time does an ‘object’ need to belong to us? Sometimes recognition begins as sudden adhesion, but the most tenacious dreams are the result of a recognition that builds and weaves slowly. Which is the real sense of ownership? The autobiographical fabric behind everything. Probably it is ideally suited to foster in the older adult a belief that those assets are meaningful and something of which to be proud. What makes them priceless? Time; both time spent to own an ‘object’ and time used to enjoy an asset.

In this era of permanent running, acceleration and ubiquity, where technology makes us omnipresent and omnivorous, simultaneously here and elsewhere, geographically traceable and trackable, taking time for ourselves means granting a luxury. Whether doing one thing at a time or allowing ourselves a break to enjoy our time fully.

With a more and more intense pace of life because of too many commitments, our time has become the real luxury to find. How could we completely and utterly relish our time? The answer is a private jet or super yacht.

Whether it’s a quick one-day business trip, or a transfer for a few days to practice a favourite hobby, thanks to private jets, travelling is fast and without queues, weekends are relaxing and stress-free, and finally we can benefit from our time. The same can be said of yachts. Taking the necessary time, we can enjoy not only navigation but also boat living and travelling; those are essential factors to ensure that yacht becomes something we truly own.

The pleasure is greatest in savouring the sunset by sitting in the comfort of our own yacht, the ecstasy is complete watching a sunrise from the sky, just sat in the cockpit our own jet.

The contemplation is the real escape: pleasing to the eyes, facing the sea, the horizon, the nature, tasting of a holiday in some spectacular and paradisaical places, away from all, just breaking the daily rhythms. We are accustomed to the word ‘contemplation’, but it contains the Latin root ‘templum’, which recalls not the passive attitude to watch, but an active listening attitude, the ability to interchange empty and full sensations and to see fullness and spaciousness. That is being able to open gaps to lighten loads.

We can live with a little less of everything… except spare time and what makes us feel happy. It is not a mandatory rule for all, but a good approximation that can be adapted to most of us. And it is the best recipe.


Why Taking Time off Work & Going On Holiday Is Important

940 788 Rachel Le Feuvre, Reset Button


Do you feel like you can’t take a vacation? Do you worry that if you have a day off, the office will fall apart? Perhaps you’ll look like you don’t care enough about your job? Nobody knows the client like you do, no-one knows your project like you do. In fact it’s harder work to take a day off than it is to just go to work every single day of the year.

Well…if you agree with any of the above, then you definitely need a day off.

A recent report claims unused holiday days are at a 40-year high, with nearly a quarter of all paid vacation days in the States not being used, with the Brits not far behind.

When I worked at a top ten advertising agency in NYC, the EVP called a meeting to tell us, her staff, that she ‘didn’t want people taking vacation days off willy-nilly expecting everyone else to pick up the pieces’, and ‘a week’s holiday is not a right, it’s something that has to be earned’.

I believe she was wrong. Even though she may be successful, it’s not the best or healthiest way to do it. We all need to take a break. Here’s why:

1. Reduce your stress
When you’re in the midst of all the stresses and pressures of work it’s hard to see things clearly or rationally. Taking a proper holiday break helps give you perspective on the role of your job within your life. Staying aware of this viewpoint on your work/life balance when you return to work helps you maintain composure and decreases the effect of stress and likeliness of burnout.

2. Improve concentration
Taking a holiday improves your effectiveness and concentration throughout the rest of the year. Unwind from your everyday stresses and you’ll return with confidence, ready to face your work-related challenges. It gives the body the chance to replenish itself – like letting the grass grow back.

3. Increased job satisfaction
Knowing that your employer appreciates the importance of you having some personal time makes you feel valued. Richard Branson recently announced unlimited holiday days for his staff. It can lead to better teamwork and a boost to everyone’s morale. Work is then a collaborative effort, each employee is prepared take on each other’s roles to allow each of them to have their time off, She was proud of the fact she’d worked every day straight for 6 years before taking a single day off. It was the most demotivating fact any of us had ever heard. Every employee left the meeting feeling thoroughly deflated.
knowing that this is what will be done for them too.

4. Have some family time
Dealing with your partner and/or children after a hard days work can be exhausting. Have a break and you’ll have some important time to bond and relax and grow as a family. Just make sure you plan a holiday where it’s easy for everyone to enjoy themselves.


5. Improve your health
Taking a holiday is good for your health. The New York Times recently reported that those who take less than one holiday every two years are more likely to suffer from depression and burnout. Those who fail to take annual holidays have a 21% higher risk of death from all causes and were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack.

Piling the pressure on yourself because you know your workload better than anyone else isn’t a reason not to take time off work. In fact, you could be doing more harm to yourself and your clients. You work hard all year round and you’re entitled to those days off. And even you have a boss who thinks holiday should be earned, you’ve earned it!



Five Simple Tips For A Stress-Free Holiday

940 529 Clare Evans, Personal and Business Coach


In a few weeks or maybe even days, many of you will be heading off for a summer break.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed In the time leading up to a break as you try to clear your workload, manage multiple projects and head off with a clear desk and your handover completed.

Avoid the stress of last minute panic, working long hours and general chaos in the last few days by following these five tips.

Plan ahead – What needs to be done over the next few weeks and when are you going to do it? Plan 2 to 3 weeks before your holiday so you have to time to organise your workload and schedule accordingly.

Keep the week or 2-3 days before your last day in the office as free as possible. Avoid overbooking your diary with too many meetings in this week. You may not have enough time for all the follow-ups and actions needed or expected before you leave and you’ll end up with even more to handover.

Prioritise – the ‘important’ things you need to work on before you leave. Don’t leave them to the last day or your last few hours. If you’re pushed for time, what are the priority tasks you need to complete to keep things moving while you’re away? What can wait until you get back and is there anything that’s likely to slip through?

Set time limits on tasks. You’ll get things done quicker and be less distracted, especially if you only have a limited amount of time available.

Delegate – What’s going to happen to your business or workload while you’re away? Who’s going to answer calls, respond to emails, look after your clients, customers and projects? If you need extra resources, ask in good time.

Remember to switch on your voicemail and/or ‘out of office’ message (and switch it off when you return – make a note in your diary).

Handover – Set up a handover meeting(s) with your team or direct reports a day or two before your last day in the office.

If you have the right systems and processes in place it will be easy to provide status updates and keep track of projects and expected actions while you’re away.

Communicate – Let your team, customers and clients know when you’re going to be away and for how long. Give them and yourself plenty of time if you’re expecting work from them or need to get information, updates to them before you go.

And finally …

You holiday is meant to be a break from work – unless you’ve specifically booked it as a working holiday and your family or friends are in agreement, avoid the temptation to work while you’re away. While a cursory check of emails may be needed or you might be contacted in an emergency – focus on your family and friends first.

If you find you often spend the first few days of your holiday feeling unwell, exhausted or ill, you way be suffering from adrenal rebound. It will take you longer to relax, unwind and enjoy your holiday.

If you’re in the habit of spending much of your intended ‘holiday’ working, it’s an indication that something’s missing or needs to change. You need to look more seriously at your time habits, your boundaries and priorities.


On your return:

• Don’t overload your first few days back at work.
• Allow time for planning and catch-up on your first day back.
• Book handover/update meetings with your team.

If you want to enjoy a stress-free holiday and be more in control of your workload but don’t know where to start – give me a call or book a time for us to chat and make your next holiday even more relaxed and stress-free.


What is Reiki?

759 1024 Dawn Waterhouse


What is it anyone wants more than anything else on Earth? “A fast car, a big house, private schooling for my children, that is why I work so hard.” Think again. What is it YOU want? Health, happiness, wealth, love, someone to share with you?

Let me share a secret with you, what everyone really wants to know, in order to be their healthiest, happiest, wealthiest etc is to connect with who they are. To know themselves. The question is, how do we go about finding that. We are not born with a manual that can be perused when things go wrong, there is not a help button that you can press to search for the answers … so how do you find the solution to the question you asked as a child.

Born in Japan in 1865, Usui Mikao was a philosophy student, and had studied martial art, religious and other philosophy available to him at a time of big change. During this era, there was a massive search for inner connectedness, and Usui pulled together his research and started teaching what he felt was a great to help to everyone, regardless of any religious belief.

What happened during Usui’s teachings was reported as amazing. He was sharing lessons to help his students break down old bad habits, and help them develop new practices. He was helping them reach their own true nature and inner knowledge. What was most amazing from his teachings was that his students received healing from the sessions, not something that Usui had necessarily initially intended at all. The combination of helping his students reconnect to their spirituality and also blessing them (called a Reiju) brought about a very positive healing effect.


We all have the innate ability to heal and connect to our inner self. The problem is we tend to gradually lose this connection and forget it ever existed. This can lead to a wide array of health conditions and anxieties / sadness / etc that simply need not be. To learn Reiki (pronounced Ray Key), you need a Master to work with that you feel comfortable with, and although you will only need a few days training for each level, you need to be ready to make take the first step on your journey to discovering who you are, being ready to let go of old habits that do not serve your true self’s higher good.

This sounds a little harsh – but in reality – it is actually amazing and most empowering. A student starts their journey with their Master teaching them the meaning of the five precepts (or codes of conduct) and a blessing. Whilst you can explore the precepts on your own without the blessing, the blessing helps the journey and the inner healing process.

Your Reiki Master will also teach you exercises to help clear your Ki (Chi energy / life force energy). I shall share the first precept with you now; do not live by it yet for you need to truly understand it for it to help you, just let your subconscious mind consider it for a while:

“Do not anger”

We will delve deeper into Reiki next month ….

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