Millions of women have the condition, and yet it is little understood. Anna Druet, research scientist for period and ovulation tracking app Clue, explains what it is
It's time to take your Mac 'N' Cheese to the next level, with this simple twist, you can add chicken to make a delicious Mac 'N' Chicken Pot Pie.
Pumpkins, squashes and gourds have enjoyed rather wet conditions this October. These striking fruits (strictly speaking, berries) are not for the faint-hearted but the recent surge in their popularity is no doubt thanks to their combination of vibrant colour, exuberant vigour and extraordinary shape. The fact that the smaller ones and those with bushier growth will fit into small gardens must widen their appeal. Pumpkins, squashes and gourds are tender annuals, most of which come from three species of Cucurbita: pepo, maxima and moschata. They are native to the warmer parts of the Americas, especially Mexico, where they have been grown since 7,000 BC. Their willingness to interbreed has given rise to many cultivars and for centuries they have been cropped commercially, particularly in the United States and France. Most have trailing stems as well as large, lobed, sandpapery leaves, though the shape differs depending on the original species. And all have yellow flowers with male and female carried separately on the same plant. Where pumpkins end and squashes start is not clear cut. One indicator is that pumpkins are yellow or orange and round whereas squashes come in many wonderful colours and shapes. In layman's terms they fall into four groups: summer squashes, such as pattypans and crooknecks, as well as courgettes, none of which store for long; autumn squashes, such as marrows and vegetable spaghetti (so-called because its flesh comes away in strands), which last in good condition for a couple of months; winter squashes, which store for up to a year and include both pumpkins and butternuts; and ornamental gourds, which are grown for their looks, although several, such as the tiny 'Jack-be-Little' and the wonderful 'Turk's Turban', are also edible. These can be dried and used for decoration, lasting for many months in good condition. Bottle gourds, named after their flask-like shape, are derived from Lagenaria siceraria and have white flowers but are not edible. In countries such as Peru they are often intricately decorated. The fruit can be quite smooth, ridged or as warty as an old toad; they can be green, turning orange with age, or any other colour from red to white, greyish-blue or almost black. And striped. Size ranges from a 1.5lb 'Baby Boo' to 'Atlantic Giant', which has weighed in at more than 1,000lbs. Caroline Boisset is a long-time devotee. A trained horticulturist and author who lives in the East Midlands, she became hooked years ago, by chance, after she bought a single packet of seed of 'Rouge Vif d'Etampes' while visiting her parents near Paris. The plan had been to use them as groundcover in her new kitchen garden. But the orange pumpkins grew so well that she began asking friends and family to bring back new seed from their travels to the US, France and Australia. In 1995, she won a Gold Medal for her display at the RHS. Caroline grows about 20 different cultivars each year but, all told, the tally is 100. She sows pumpkin seed in a cold greenhouse, never earlier than April, two to a 6in pot in garden compost, with the seed on edge, and protects them against mice. She plants out the seedlings immediately the frosts are over into well prepared and fertilised soil. She plants seven to a 7ft by 14ft plot and they flower in three to four weeks. This is the moment to keep them well-watered, with a weekly foliar feed; if they dry out, growth stops. They set fruit themselves and often spontaneously drop surplus flowers. When the trailing stems encroach on the path, she turns them back towards the plant. In October a slight frost often melts the leaves, leaving the fat pumpkins sitting on the ground. She cuts them with a handle (a bit of stem) attached, brings them in to a light, north-facing conservatory to cure completely, then stores them in an airy pantry. This way they should keep long enough to try out most of the delicious sounding recipes in her book. Caroline Boisset's recommendations
I started working with Caryn Hibbert, founder of Thyme at Southrop, Gloucestershire, back in 2008. I helped Caryn with the design of her own garden and then the cookery school garden. I quickly realised Caryn was no ordinary person. Previously she had worked as an obstetrician and gynaecologist then, with three children under three, she moved into philanthropic work and helped to raise funds to build a children’s’ hospices. Her next move was to Southrop, where her creativity began to bloom. Having acquired a stunning Cotswold manor house and a range of barns and outbuildings, Caryn decided to develop them into a “village within a village”. Creating this unique place, more lifestyle than hotel, has been her passion and focus for more than 10 years. The beautifully converted buildings sit within 150 acres of farmland, including beautiful water meadows, acres of grazing Welsh black mountain sheep, bees, an extensive orchard and a large kitchen garden. The ethos of the Ox Barn restaurant in the 19th-century former oxen house is local food using that day’s ingredients. Head chef Charlie Hibbert, Caryn’s son, helpfully tips me off to great veg varieties that he is using. Camilla, Caryn’s daughter, is helping to develop the retail and marketing. Green and edible
When we bought our house in 1976, I couldn’t tell an oak from an ash. Growing up in South Africa, my only gardening memories are of my nanny saving her night-time pee to pour, diluted, on to the veg patch, and of my dad, shirtless in the blazing sun, mowing the lawn with a tiny, motorless mower. The smell of newly cut grass and the clack and whirr of the rotary blade still comes back to me 70 years on. And I remember my mother’s pride in her English mulberry tree, which produced more flavoursome berries than the African mulberry that grew in front of the house and which could shelter half a dozen cars under its massive branches. In autumn, mulberries carpeted the floor, staining our bare feet black. I didn’t get the gardening bug until we’d been in our Cotswold house for 10 years or so. In that time, I learnt little and cared less. Which is just as well, as those were the years when the front lawn was for cricket or football and when dogs, hens and children wrecked what flower beds we had. I did grow veg and flowers for my restaurant business, but this was strictly business. Straight rows of produce, much of which would be rejected by our chefs, who preferred carrots to be uniformly straight and free of soil and carrot-fly damage. In the 1970s it was almost impossible to buy mangetout peas, baby cauliflowers, Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac, French tarragon, courgettes with the flowers attached or ‘Marmande’ tomatoes. So we tried to grow them. We also grew flowers, which I’d wake early to pick. My husband would drive them to London while I drove the children to school.
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Naturally enough, everyone’s attention is focused right now on Covid-19, but it’s worth remembering that other pandemics are available. You may be happy if your garden has the space for a big tree, but given the apocalyptic headlines about ash dieback, you may be less happy if that tree is an ash. However, research published in the Journal of Ecology offers cause for mild optimism. From 2012 to 2018, researchers monitored the progress of the disease in an area of about 23 square kilometres in northern France, around the village of Champenoux near the city of Nancy. The area included a couple of large tracts of woodland, together with areas of agricultural land with scattered hedges and small woods, plus the village itself. In the large woods, ash was usually present at low density, along with oak and hornbeam, while many of the small woods were pure ash. Ash dieback was first reported in France in 2008, and observed for the first time in the study area in 2010. By 2012, two years later, ash dieback was observed throughout the study area, with three quarters of trees showing at least limited symptoms. Clearly, the disease had no trouble spreading among the many ash trees present, which is hardly surprising, given the extremely effective airborne dispersal of its spores. But the researchers were surprised by what happened next. Many trees went on to develop severe symptoms, with large amounts of canopy dieback, but almost all of these badly affected trees were in woodlands, and serious stem cankers in particular were largely confined to woodland trees. Trees out in the open, many of them in hedgerows, generally did not develop serious symptoms. The question is: why not? A small part of the answer was the presence of other ash trees; those close to many other ash trees tended to develop more serious symptoms than those mixed up with other trees. But a much more important factor appeared to be climate.
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Story and video from SWNS A teenage boy who has eaten nothing but SAUSAGES every mealtime for his entire life has been cured of his bizarre food phobia after being hypnotised over Facetime. Ben Simpson, 15, would refuse to try anything other
As with all trends, someone distinctly uncool always has to come along and mess it up. And so it was when photos of Matt Hancock circulated on social media last month, which featured the Health Secretary wearing – in place of his usual pale shirt and pink tie – a blue drill workwear jacket. Some Twitter users saw it as the death knell for the jacket, which had been enjoying a hipsterish following for the past couple of years. “Oh well,” said one, “it was a good look while it lasted.” And yet for gardeners, this staple remains a cool-weather must have, and nothing Mr Hancock does will change that.