family · health and wellbeing · recipes


Presently based in Mexico City, my daughter endured the terrifying experience of an earthquake. Standing in a queue on nightclub stairwell (where most twenty-somethings living on the other side of the world from home should be) the quake hit. Fearing its likely collapse, she had the presence of mind to push herself and those ahead of her off the stairs and into the club – where they safely waited it out.

Although she was physically unscathed, the experience has remained within her protective recesses. The nights are very hot in Mexico and for maximum sleeping comfort the minimum in sleeping attire is required. Never sure now when the next tremor may strike, she keeps a pair of pants within arm’s reach next to her bed should she need to evacuate to the street in the wee hours. Affectionately termed her ”earthquake pants” they provide the security she currently needs to sleep well through unsettling circumstances.

And today I thought, we all need earthquake pants, something or someone we know we can reach for when life trembles. I am lucky. I have some very sound quake strides that have supported me, so I urge you to think about what are yours. For many the fabric is woven from religion, a parent, a partner or a social network. Whatever guise your pants may be, cherish them and keep them close.

I hope I am the earthquake pants for my children.

Maybe you also have a pair fashioned from the strongest material available, but have not yet discovered them or have forgotten they are there, folded securely within you. These are the pants that you slide into when the fault lines of life shift and separate beneath you. Their warp and weft threads are tightly bound by the inner strength of your human spirit – and nothing, not even a shift in the physical earth will ever separate them.

If you are experiencing or have endured your own personal instability, this is a lovely piece to help restore calm.


And here is the recipe for this brownie, with all of its cracks, splits and crevices.

Cranberry and Mixed Nut Brownie

125g dark chocolate
175g butter
3 eggs
275g caster sugar
75g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
small handful of dried cranberries
150g mixed unsalted nuts, chopped

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees (fan-forced).
  2. Grease and line a slice tin with baking paper overhanging the sides.
  3. Place chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and melt over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir constantly and cool for a few minutes once melted.
  4. Beat eggs and sugar.
  5. Blend this mixture with the chocolate mixture and fold through all of the dry ingredients.
  6. Pour into lined tin and bake for around 30 minutes.
  7. Once completely cold, slice into portions, which if you have no will power to withstand, like me, share out or place in the freezer for a rough day.


health and wellbeing


As we prepare to touch down into another weekend filled with ‘projects’ to tick off, ‘engagements’ to keep and ‘leisure activities’ to cover, don’t overlook the spine that supports all of this activity – rest.

In an age where we can artificially illuminate our lives beyond moonrise, we skew our natural sleep patterns by adhering to odd work shift hours, scheduling recreational pursuits well into the night and being lured by the temptation of digital entertainment, long after our bodies would benefit from simply being tucked into the sheets. Sleep, once a respected commodity, has now been relegated to the backstalls of our life choices.

However, short of returning to the Paleolithic age, we are not about to be forcibly blacked out from 7pm to 7am in the near future (mind you, with all of the current hype that surrounds the Paleo Diet it may not be surprising to see an emergence of a ‘darkness lifestyle trend’) so it’s nice to factor it in for yourself, where possible.

We have fauna in our midst that achieve this brilliantly.

Having said this, I cannot kip for all the tea in China, so rest defined by me, will be a quiet flip of a magazine or the week-end paper – enough time to turn a barking session into a casual shoulder shrug as I catch a glimpse of a teenage bedroom on my way down the hallway.

Finding a patch of peace somewhere, for a short space, is often all it takes to turn an Everest climb of an afternoon ahead, into a pleasant stroll among wild flowers. Even if sleep eludes, or may interfere with your night pattern, time out from the motion of life is a good thing – for us all.

Asleep in the hammock

Postscript: I really need to take a leaf out of the two and four-legged creatures under my roof – they all have the art perfected.