Book Reviews

Book review – The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read… by Philippa Perry

This beautifully kind, wise and compassionate book has been a wonderful reminder of the parent I aspire to become. It goes without saying, of course, that I am not a perfect parent. Who is? The joy of this book is that it does not set out to achieve perfection (which would only set you up for failure), nor does it reprimand you for mistakes made in the past. It gently encourages you to explore your words, actions and the examples you set to your child, observing how they might affect your child(ren), how they affected you when you were a child and the possible long term effects on your relationship with your child.

It’s not about how many times you mess up, lose your rag and end up crying in a corner (with at least one child screaming on the floor at the same time). It’s about accepting that these things happen, putting actions in to place to minimise them (ie recognising your own limits and how to manage them), and ‘repairing the rupture’ by being compassionate with yourself and authentic in your restorative actions.

It has great examples and case studies of where parents have struggled with their child(ren), even to the point of wanting to leave the family unit, and offers tender, considerate and often humorous responses to the challenges we all face in our parenting (and indeed all) relationships in our lives.

It ties in perfectly with the La Leche League philosophy of ‘loving guidance’, which is one of the many reasons I kept going back to La Leche League. I knew I wanted to follow the gentle parenting path, I think even before I became pregnant, and it was demonstrated so admirably by the mums present at the meetings.

It reminded me that loving guidance is a long term investment (it also has short term benefits too), that patience is a virtue (no one has taught me more about being patient than my son), and that if you’re not looking back at your life and cringing at certain moments, you’re not learning and growing as a person, parent and human being.


15 years of Aromatherapy

It is 15 years ago, to the very day, that I received my Tisserand Institute Diploma in Holistic Aromatherapy.  It was that course, that set me on my course, to enable me to help people to help themselves. From the very beginning of the diploma, it felt right for me.  It felt like I had always done massage, like my hands already knew what they were doing and had been doing it for centuries. Learning about the essential oils and their traditional healing properties was also a feeling of coming home, and I distinctly (and proudly) remember scoring 97% on one of the exam papers. A feat yet to be repeated!

Tisserand Institute Diploma in Holistic Aromatherapy

I enjoyed dipping my toe into living in London, experiencing life in a major city as I commuted from my flat in Brixton to Kensington (the course was in Baden Powell House, right next to the Natural History Museum) and would come home to the rolling hills of Derbyshire at the weekend.  It certainly is a different pace of life, there is always something to do, something to see, a new area to explore and an adventure to be had. 

On finishing the course and settling back in Derbyshire, I went on to set up a local group of the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA), the professional body I was a member of at the time.  This gave me a sense of companionship that I missed from being away from my cohort who were mainly London based.  Although the group only ran for a couple of years, there were many friendships that grew from it that endure to this day. Something else I’m proud of. 

Most of my clients I still see today are people who have been with me from the early days, a couple were case studies for me for the diploma. Some become friends, others move on with their lives, move away. It is a privilege to be a witness to their lives and to work with them, giving them a space to relax and unwind, to escape from the world for an hour or so. 

Over the years I have studied other complementary therapies, including kinesiology, thought field therapy and Asyra health screening but I always come back to aromatherapy. It is always at the heart of everything I do, my way of life. I have been thinking recently about adding reflexology to my bow, and I know that I won’t be able to resist adding essential oils to the therapeutic benefits of that too. Who knows what the next 15 years will bring, all I can say is…. watch this space!


Alternative Therapy

What do pole dancing, writing, Argentine tango and singing (shouting) all have in common? They are all things I do to help me vent, distract myself, escape the inside of my head and generally keep me sane. 

I have been pole dancing on and off for 6 years now and it’s a fantastic way to strengthen and push my body physically. I was hooked by the second class I went to when I’d improved vastly from the week before. It took me a week to recover from the first class though! I feel strong and confident when I master a new trick and for some reason I like the feeling the day after a class when I’m stiff and achy, perhaps because it’s satisfying to know I’ve worked my body. 

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Pole makes me feel strong and confident

Writing down my feelings helps me to process them and work through whatever is going on in my world. I express my inner most thoughts in a safe place that I don’t have to share with anyone, unless I want to.  If I want to share, I write letters (emails) when I have scrawled through the fury and got to the point where I can make sense of what I’m feeling and how to communicate that in a way that hopefully isn’t confrontational. I’ve kept a diary at various times since I was a teenager, mostly when I’m depressed and angry (I’m too busy enjoying myself when I’m happy). It has helped me through teenage angst, grief and most recently a traumatic divorce.  

Argentine tango is a new form of alternative therapy for me, having started taking classes a few weeks before Christmas. I have danced modern jive for well over a decade, my first class being just before I launched my clinic, Peak Wellbeing, in 2007.  At that time, it was the only two hours of the week I wasn’t in charge, and it was wonderful to be lead around the dance floor and legitimately blame someone else when I got it wrong! Argentine tango is quite a different kettle of fish, but still requires me to empty my head of all other busyness and tune in to my partner and the music. I’m finding it very technical and am getting used to the increased level of intimacy, but I am enjoying the challenge and am looking forward to it flowing effortlessly. 

Singing is also relatively new for me, having had a course of lessons in spring last year.  I was told at primary school I couldn’t sing and am naturally a quiet person so to be heard in a new way (even if it was just by my teacher) was daunting. I loved learning how to shape my mouth to hit the notes and turn the volume up. I’ve no plans to sing in public and I’m never gonna be Nina Simone but it’s fun to practice in the car on my own or with my son. 

I included shouting in brackets because sometimes, when I’m really, really angry, I shout in my car as loud as I can.  It can be an aggressive ‘aaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!’, or yelling along to a song, or roaring an imaginary conversation (including obscenities!) to whoever has riled me. I find it’s a fab way to disperse my rage and makes me laugh at myself too. You can’t be angry when you’re laughing 😂.

And I nearly forgot, which is appalling behaviour for an aromatherapist, that I also love to have an aromatherapy massage! If I could I’d have at least one a week as it’s so soothing and relaxing. The oils are tailored to my needs in that moment and work on multiple levels, the massage relieves aches, pains and stress and reconnects me with my body. I am still surprised when I feel which parts of my body are holding tension, and occasionally by which areas aren’t!

I’ve shared the ways I look after my mental, emotional and physical health. I know others find running, gardening and/or cooking helps calm their mind and bring balance to their life. What do you do? What can you add to this list?


The Scent of Christmas

Wrapping presents, writing cards, eating chocolate and listening to classic Christmas tunes all help to get me in the mood for the big day. But there’s something missing from the picture, one of my senses is yet to be fulfilled, and that’s when I reach for my essential oils to concoct a festive feast for my nose. There’s so many to choose from at this time of year, each evoking it’s own memory of Christmas past.

Image courtesy of Black Velvet Styling

Pine and fir essential oils remind me of putting up the tree and decorating it, finding those lost baubles I’d forgotten buying and where I lived when they first went on the tree.

Orange and cinnamon bring to mind this delicious Italian chocolate nut Christmas cake by Delia Smith, which is a hit every time. To me it combines my all favourite Christmas flavours in one scrummy treat.

And last but not least, frankincense and myrrh, those most famous of nativity gifts. They bring back memories of my school plays as a girl and more recently my son’s star turn in his play group Christmas play. It was definitely a proud mummy moment.

I add a couple of drops each of 3 – 4 different essential oils to my burner, light the candle and let the scent of Christmas fill my room. If you don’t have a burner, you can always fill a small bowl/dish with water, add the oils to that and carefully balance it on a radiator for the same effect.

Wishing you all peace, joy, love and laughter for Christmas and the new year.

Image courtesy of Black Velvet Styling


A wander around Altea, Spain

I had a wonderful few days in Altea, Spain, at the beginning of this month, meeting up with a dear friend and exploring the town.


Just along the coast from Benidorm, Altea has a beautiful old town with the church of La Mare de Déu del Consol at it’s centre, perched on the top of the hill overlooking the bay.

Travel, tourism, Altea, Spain, plants, aromatherapy, massage, essential oils, health, wellbeing, healing, Belper, Derbyshire,
La Mare de Déu del Consol (Our Lady of Solace) church, with it’s sky blue domes in the centre of the old town, Altea

The labyrinthine, cobbled streets with white washed houses and small squares are home to some beautiful Mediterranean plants, including olive and orange trees, climbing jasmine, hibiscus and bougainvillea.

I think the locals must have thought me strange as I was more interested in taking photos of the plants than I was in the usual tourist hot spots!

And of course, I couldn’t resist a paddle in the sea! It had been cold, wet and windy the first few days and by the last day, when most of these photos were taken, it was beginning to brighten up. The sea actually felt quite warm (compared to what I’m used to, which is Cornish sea temperatures🥶) and maybe if I’d had another day or two there I’d have swum, but I was content just to get my feet wet ☺️.