The Orion Cafe, LS6 a lovely experience with great salad and coffee!

 Greek Salad at The Orion Cafe,  LS6.

If you fancy some Mediterranean food on a warm (or cold) evening,  I can recommend going Greek at Hyde Park Corner. I ordered a Greek Salad, which was so lovely I went back the following evening and ordered it again!

Orion has a charm about it.  It feels authentic, laid back and warm. The atmosphere along with the current heat wave made it easy to imagine that we were somewhere more exotic than Hyde Park Corner.  After dinner we attempted to put the world to rights whilst sipping Greek Coffee and sharing Halva!  It’s definitely worth a visit and salads are reasonably priced below £5.

Incidentally, I looked up  ‘Greek Coffee’  and found a splurge of articles written earlier in the year linking it to longevity. Whilst I tend to take claims of this kind with a pinch of salt, and understand there are mixed claims about coffee,  It certainly has made me think about swapping my Latte for a Greek !

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PS. The photograph, wasn’t taken at the restaurant – but the cup did have the same cute filled-in handle!

🙂 Vicky

Nutrition and Wellbeing

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I’ve always intended to eat better, ever since meeting Danny 30 years ago, the macro biotic juggler who could walk backwards down the stone steps in my garden juggling 5 balls. There must be something in it, I thought. However I don’t have that kind of discipline – never juggled more than 3 balls (badly), and rarely been able to eat well for very long. But I can see it makes sense, and that generally the more attention I pay to what I eat, the better I feel.

About 10 years ago I won a copy of Amanda Geary’s ‘The Food and Mood Handbook’ and it really impressed me. Browsing through it now, I read ‘food is more than fuel to keep you going, and what you choose to put in your mouth can influence the state of your mind. Greater control of your moods and energy levels is possible through exploring the links between diet, nutrition and emotional and mental health.’ The only thing that stands out in my memory is how brilliant sweet potatoes are – I don’t think I ever touched one before, but I’ve enjoyed them ever since. I’m ashamed to see that my rizla paper marker is stuck at page 23, and that I never got on to chapters like ‘Brain Chemicals and Gut Feelings’, ‘Caffeine and Chocolate’ or ‘Good Mood Foods’ (there are tons of them). Why is looking after myself such hard work?

Anyway now Leeds Mind’s Peer Support service, which has already been the subject of a post on these pages in March, is about to run a six week Nutrition and Wellbeing Course, aimed at providing us with an understanding of basic nutrition and how it can affect our mental wellbeing. They say “using fun and interactive tools, and discussing our positive and negative associations with food, the sessions aim to improve our ability to make healthier, balanced food choices that will help our mental and physical selves.”

Sessions will include; Food and Mood, Basic Nutrition and Eating Socially. The course will run on Tuesdays, 1:00 – 3:00pm, 4th June through to 9th July.

They want to be sure that attendees feel they will get what they need from the course before attending, and want interested persons to meet with a facilitator, who will explain the content of the course and what it involves. The bad news is that meetings will be held tomorrow on Friday 24th May, from 12.00 – 4:00pm at Clarence House in Horsforth – sorry it’s so late in the day telling you this. The meetings will be on a one-to-one basis (rather than a group activity), and will be 15 minutes long. To book one you need to ring Leeds Mind on 0113 305 5802 or email luke.rushworth@leedsmind.org.uk

The publicity also says that If you will struggle with attending on 24th May, a telephone call may be arranged at a time that suits you, so even if you pick up this information after the event there may still be a chance of getting on the course. Go for it. Remember, you are what you eat, and you don’t want to be a pork pie all your life, do you?

Terry

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The Road To Recovery, Peer Support Groups at Leeds Mind.

I have recently been attending Peer Support Groups at the Wellbeing Service at Leeds Mind – Clarence House in Horsforth.

Initially I felt quite hesitant about attending a support group. I wondered if it was the right thing to do. Was I going backwards? Was I too vulnerable? What would it be like?  Would I get entangled in other people’s stories?  However I did decide to go and it’s been really beneficial.  I have found it to be a really supportive environment.

There are a variety of courses including: Confidence Building, Self-esteem, Assertiveness Skills,  Mindfulness and Relaxation techniques. Some of the courses run for a day and some of the courses are run over a number of weeks.  The facilitators all have personal experience of mental ill-health and are professional, skilled, insightful and caring.  I appreciated that the group was facilitated by people who have personal experience – I think it’s so important.  It’s not an ‘Us and Them’ environment and so it put me at ease.

One of the reasons why I think it works so well is that the groups feel very safe. The courses have structure and everyone speaks in turn around the group. If you want to you can pass on your turn – if it feels too much.  There are ground rules in place which are discussed at the start of a course which  include things such as: to try not to talk over each other, respect each other, that it’s okay to make mistakes, to refrain from giving advice and to keep things confidential.  The setting is beautiful and non-clinical. One room in particular has a stunning view over a lovely garden which contains lovely trees and squirrels can be seen scampering around.  There is a kitchen so you can make yourself a cuppa in the break-time .A small affordable donation is suggested for the sessions but it is said that this is not necessary if you really cannot afford it.

Attending the groups has given me chance to express my feelings and share my experience in a safe environment, with people who understand and are non-judgmental.  I’ve also gained a lot of insight from other people’s experiences.

One thing that has struck me is just how nice everyone is – there is something quite humbling about the experience.  If there is anything positive to take from experiencing mental illness/distress – is that perhaps that it can make people more understanding.

There is no formal referral process – please call the Wellbeing Service on 0113 305 5802

Thank you to Leeds Mind,

VIcky

Words for Wellbeing

Have you ever thrown yourself into something and then just when it’s too late to draw back, you panic? That’s how I felt when I started a weekly writing group for patients in a mental health unit. I was motivated to start the sessions by my own personal experience of the enjoyment and therapy that writing can bring, and by the large amount of research evidence I’d read showing that writing can be of therapeutic benefit – both psychologically and physically. But I was nervous – would I enjoy the sessions or hate them? Did I have the right skills? Would the patients gain any benefit? Fortunately the answers to those questions were: yes I loved doing the sessions from the beginning; yes I had prepared enough beforehand so that my skills were up to the job (but I am still learning all the time); and yes patients do tell me that they gain benefit from the sessions.

At the time of writing I’m leading weekly groups in a mental health ward and a psychiatric intensive care unit, and a monthly group. In my writing groups I do not feel like a therapist or a teacher (I am neither), I feel I just sit down with some people, we get to know each other a little, and we write together. I believe that writing does you good, whatever you write, but that different people need to write different things and in different styles, for example: thoughts and feelings, memories, imaginative stories, poems. What I aim to do is help people discover what they need (or want) to write and inspire them to keep writing – and they inspire me right back!

Freewriting is a powerful writing technique that can draw out unexpected thoughts and feelings. When working in a mental health unit I feel it’s helpful to use prompts for Freewriting, such as sets of words: pool, moon, sky, cloud; or snow, cave, mountain, river; or red, blue, green, yellow. Freewriting is just one of the techniques I use; others include writing about postcards of beautiful landscapes, and photographs of people. For example, writing a detailed description of a beautiful or interesting place, from life or from a picture postcard, is calming when someone is feeling anxious or distressed. It’s a sort of writing meditation.

Sometimes a patient has something going on in their life that I can see would be a good thing for them to write about, for example, I suggested to one patient she write a letter from her future self (a time when she is well) to her small grandson to tell him how much he inspired her to get well. Her daughter has put the letter away in a box until the little boy is old enough to read it.

Another woman told me part way through a writing session that her mother had sadly just died, and that she’d been unable to get out of the psychiatric ward to say goodbye. She mentioned that she had happy memories of her mother. So I abandoned the writing exercise I’d planned and suggested instead that she write about one of her happy memories, which she did. She said afterwards how surprised she was that she hadn’t cried when writing the memory about her mother and that she’d found doing the writing a great comfort.

Writing about painful thoughts and feelings can sometimes be helpful, for example, to achieve clarity or catharsis. But it’s important not to write down your negative thoughts if all your thoughts are negative. And please believe me – writing does not have to hurt to do you good. Writing about happy memories is good for your wellbeing, writing imaginative stories and poems is good for your wellbeing. Write whatever you want to write, and why not write a little every day?

I’ve edited/co-authored and published a not-for-profit book, WORDS FOR WELLBEING, to encourage people to write for their wellbeing. It’s an uplifting read and packed with writing ideas and personal stories. To find out more follow this link: http://trioross.wordpress.com/new-words-for-wellbeing-book-extract/

Best wishes and get writing! Carol.

Carol Ross was born in Ryhill in West Yorkshire and is married with a 15-year-old son. She has lived and worked (in the NHS) in Cumbria since 1995. If you would like to know more about Carol’s work, and get further writing ideas and inspiration: look on her blog http://trioross.wordpress.com/, Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/WordsForWellbeing?ref=hl and National Health Service web page http://www.cumbriapartnership.nhs.uk/words-for-wellbeing.htm. Carol is on Twitter as Trio33.

Woodhouse song thrush

Hyde Park or Woodhouse Moor, as the Friends of: more accurately call it, has to be one of the most popular and busy open spaces in Leeds. I have a particular nostalgia for it as it was a place where,as children my brother and I played. Our family lived in Woodhouse Square. Little Woodhouse, (check out the stunning slideshow on Little Woodhouse Online http://littlewoodhouseonline.com/gallery/?show=slide)

Several years ago my brother returned to live in this area, adjacent to the park, and it enabled me to regularly use the park for exercise and much needed time for reflection after visiting him. My brother’s long term, chronic mental health problems affected his motivation, preventing him from strolling with me, these visits often left me heavy hearted, but walks across the moor to town raised my spirits. Taking photographs there gave a creative outlet to my melancholia and feelings of frustration at not being able to ease his distress.

After one such visit on Good Friday this year the park was less of a bustle than usual, possibly because of this a song thrush felt bold enough to alight quite near me, being very short sighted I rarely spot birds, so it was a special privilege, it had it’s beady eye on me and stood his ground, tilting it’s head to listen to the few words I passed with him, too scared to scare it off by slipping out my camera phone, I simply enjoyed the few minutes granted me. It had been raining therefore he was too busy looking for a wormy treat to honour me with a song.

My day brightened. I planned to research  more information about song thrushes, as I was sure I’d read they were in decline and I planned  to return the following day with my camera…………..

…within the space of the next few hours I received news that my brother had died suddenly. The memory of sighting that chirpy little song bird comforted me and seemed even more special.

It’s my experience that loss of any kind…. opportunities missed when ill …… people close to us in death……can push us in to a state of transcendence, a heightened awareness which is not accessible most other times. I’m not sure I believe that birds are the messengers they are described as in myth and legend  but I like this Turkish saying  ‘his soul bird has flown away’.

I’m sure Woodhouse Moor will continue to be my favourite urban stomping ground for years to come, it feels a safe enough area for a lone walker to stroll, I’m reassured by the presence of the wardens who patrol regularly in their buggy.

The park has been the setting for some dramatic and  interesting events both during the civil war in the 17th century and in more recent times for my personal battle with the ‘stormy search for self’, I’ll save these stories for a future post, possibly on my own blog site! yes. although previously dubious about the usefulness of social network blogs etc, I’ve become so enthused during the training course to see it’s potential as a creative outlet for expressing thoughts and musings which might otherwise be left under wraps.

Sue Margaret

I’m making a splash about Bramley Baths!

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Bramley Baths are brilliant. Period. Discussion over, writes John Baron.

They’re also incredibly beautiful and full of character and history. The Edwardian Baths are some 108 years old and still include many of the original features.

Entering the pool is a bit like stepping inside Doctor Who’s Tardis, as you feel like you’ve been transported back to a bygone era. The changing rooms are located around the side of the pool, there’s a fabulously beautiful balcony, and just gazing up at the incredibly detailed roof on a dark winters’ night is a sight to behold.

It makes me forget the stresses of the day. Problems seem to just wash away as you swim. There’s also nothing remotely like it in Leeds as it’s a place you can escape to and lose yourself in its history.

It’s got real character. But its charm and beauty don’t just extend to the Grade II Listed building. The staff are friendly, and there’s a real sense of community surrounding it. I take my five year old son on a Friday evening (he thinks it’s great fun to splash daddy) and you often bump into the same people there – and you strike up friendships, which has been an unexpected bonus.

Bramley Baths was restored in 1992 and it is the last survivor of eight public baths built in Leeds between 1899 and 1904 but sadly it faces an uncertain future due to council budget cuts. The Friends of Bramley Baths group – which is made up of local swimmers and Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves amongst others – is hoping to take over the swimming pool. It also hopes to raise money by issuing ‘community shares’ to local residents and users.

I do hope the future of this fantastic resource can be safeguarded for another 100 years. It’s a real lifeline for me.

Around Christmas time I felt really dark, as if there was a black cloud havering over me that wouldn’t shift. I put it down to overwork but knew something wasn’t quite right. I was quite shocked when the doctor (my GP, not the Time Lord!) diagnosed me with a mild depression (I’d never even considered it) and offered me a choice between regular exercise and tablets to get me back up to speed. I chose Bramley Baths. Long may it make a splash!