Reflexology? What’s all that about?

My friend, Theresa Thompson, has moved to a new treatment room above hair@bespoke on Foxdenton Lane, Chadderton and I’ve booked in for a reflexology treatment.

She meets me just inside the door and leads the way upstairs. It’s the first time I’ve been here and I like it already. The room has a nice aroma, plenty of natural light and a warm cosy feeling.

Before long I’m nestled under a fleecy blanket in a comfy chair, feet wrapped in a soft towel ready for some much needed ‘me time’. I don’t often get the chance to chill out and we chat a little, while she gets organised.After cleansing, Theresa starts to work through a routine that involves applying pressure to my feet, ultimately concentrating on the areas that will bring me the most benefit.

As I settle down, my mind turns to the sounds outside and floating up from the salon below. They seem distant. There’s some background music playing; barely a whisper.

“Is it my feet that are cold or are your hands warm?” I ask her. “No” she says, “I’ve got naturally warm hands. Don’t know why, they just are.”

Before long my mind drifts off again. Now and then I can feel when she’s concentrating on a key pressure point but it’s oddly relaxing. The hour passes in a half dream and before long my feet are wrapped up again in a warm towel and I sit there while she tidies up.

As I slip my shoes on she tell me she’s done “a sweep of your lymphatic system, so drink plenty of water.” I’m baffled but promise to anyway.

So, just what is reflexology? The Association of Reflexology (AOR) define it as:

A complementary therapy based on the theory that different points of the body (not just on the feet but also hands, face and ears) correspond with different areas of the body and …working these points or areas aids relaxation and helps improve wellbeing.Since gaining her initial level 5 diploma, Theresa’s continued to attend further courses to expand her knowledge and expertise.

I’m interested in why she chose this career path. She’s ex-RAF and spent over 20 years in the aviation industry; so it’s very different from anything she’s done before.

“I just started reading about it and was completely fascinated” she tells me. “I like helping people. Getting feedback from clients and realising that I’ve been able to improve someone’s life is the best feeling ever. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.” She’s on a roll

“We concern ourselves so much with looking better on the outside that we don’t attach enough importance to how we are on the inside. Our inner wellbeing needs attention too.”

She’s clear that a good reflexologist will never diagnose or claim to cure. Reflexology is a complementary therapy that works very well alongside conventional medicine and should not be used in place of seeking medical advice. If she can help you though, she’ll try. Take it from me; you’ll be in safe hands.

That’s my foot in the photo. In recent years, she’s helped me personally to ease the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease, improve sleep quality and reduce back pain.

Theresa also volunteers at The Christie Hospital in Oldham where she treats patients and their family members to some Hand Therapy to aid relaxation and sometimes, more importantly, provide a listening ear.

To find out more visit Theresa’s website. It lists the different types of reflexology she practises, how much it costs and how to contact her. Or, you can follow her on Facebook.

And, don’t just take my word for it, click here for testimonials from past clients.

Street Life: Izal and OK sauce

In the 1950s it was a child’s lot to run errands. The early years spent with mum or nan was a sort of apprenticeship for shopping alone. Soon you would be in a position to say what number you wanted the bacon sliced on, or whether custard creams were an acceptable substitute when they were out of gingers.Moston had its specialist shops but almost every street corner had an ‘Open All Hours’ type store, selling everything from Butter Puffs to mothballs and face powder. The one we used had formerly been a terraced house. There was no display window and the door was in the blank gable end wall. On entering, it was bundled firewood stacked under the staircase that first attracted the eye.

The former living room had an L-shaped counter, fronting shelves stacked high with goods. But today’s shopper would be confounded by the lack of choice. Two kinds of bacon were available, middle and rody (streaky) and two kinds of cheese – Cheshire that we bought and Cheddar which we didn’t.

In the queuing area, there was a display unit of deep, glass-topped biscuit tins. These had to be passed across the shoulders of customers for the biscuits to be weighed and bagged up. Roast ham was expertly carved with a long bladed knife, but bacon was sliced to the selected thickness on a hand turned bacon slicer. Because we kept chickens in the back garden, I escaped the potential pitfalls of carrying home a paper bag full of eggs.

It was dinned into the young that even when well wrapped in newspaper, firelighters and soap powder must be kept separate from food stuffs.

If there was no (mechanical) cash register, our purchases were tallied up in pencil on a paper bag, and totalled at lightning speed – no mean achievement in pre-decimal days.On Ashley Lane there was a chemist, baker, newsagent, butcher, and green-grocer who also sold wet fish. Vegetables came loose and unwashed, necessitating a dedicated ‘potato bag’. Ours was made of rexine, an artificial leather-cloth produced by a company in Hyde. As a boy, my father once forgot the all-important bag, and was told to hold out his gansey (sweater). He did so, and 5 lbs of King Edwards were unceremoniously tipped into it.

As the bakers only provided paper bags and tissue paper, it was advisable to take a wicker basket or straw shopping bag for pies, hot bread and iced fancies to stay intact. To get your pies, the ritual was to pay an assistant who would then pencil in a series of mysterious symbols on the ubiquitous paper bag, before placing it at the bottom of the pile. Every eye in the queue was fixed on that stack of bags to make sure they remained in strict order.

The bakehouse was on the opposite side of the road, so pies arrived straight from oven to shop, on the head of a man carrying several wooden trays covered in a cloth. When he was spotted, a ripple ran through the queue and I prayed the current batch wouldn’t run out before the bag with our order came to the top of the stack.

Within easy walking distance, we had a chip shop, ironmongers and Post Office. If Mr Barratt was serving, going to the chippie was definitely my favourite errand. He would always wrap a small piece of white paper around a couple of fat chips to be eaten on the way home.Saturday was the day for ‘the lane’. The shops on Moston Lane were there to supply all our needs from cradle to grave. There was the Maypole grocers, shoe shops, drapers, dry cleaners, and yes, even an undertaker.

In 1956 we moved to New Moston and became enthusiastic members of the FIS Co-op. My sister served her shopping apprenticeship at their Broadway stores. The large grocers had various ‘departments’ with separate counters. As each had its own queue, the trick was to send a child to the longest to keep a place for mum while she got served at a shorter one.

If you went an errand alone, the mantra was ‘don’t forget the divvy (dividend) number’. For each transaction, the amount spent along with your number was written on a perforated paper counterfoil. The shop kept a carbon copy, and after a specified time, the total amount spent was added up and a percentage annual dividend paid out. Divvy money often went toward Christmas luxuries, so that all important number needed to be etched on your brain.To my mind, supermarkets will never replace the convenience of nipping round the corner for a bottle of Camp coffee, OK Sauce or a roll of Izal, which when not performing its primary purpose, made excellent tracing paper or a comb kazoo.

 

 

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Summer’s not over yet

So much going on this summer it’s been crazy. Back in July I went to see Dogfight at NWTAC (North West Theatre Arts Company) in Moston.Dogfight is set in 1963 against a backdrop that includes Beatlemania, the US civil rights movement, JF Kennedy and the Vietnam War. The story concentrates on 3 US marines and what they get up to on their last evening before being shipped across the world to Vietnam.

The characters are naïve, rough, inexperienced, young. They’re alive today and expect to stay that way. The night is all about having fun. They bet on who can ‘make it’ with the ugliest girl. They get tattoos, get drunk, get laid. Inevitably, not quite everything goes to plan but off they set the next day to meet their fate and broken hearts are left behind.

Music and lyrics were written by the same duo as The Greatest Showman but the similarities end there. This wasn’t a fluffy fancy but a story that reflects the reality of war and its impact on young lives.

I loved the production. The attention to detail was typical of all NTWAC’s performances. From the costumes, the lighting, the atmosphere, souvenir programmes to the fabulous vocals and dance routines. All excellent.

The American accents of the young performers were f…ing impressive (believe me, you had to be there). The musical numbers carried you through the emotions of the story and the dreadful sadness of the whole situation.

A few days later I learned that some of the cast would be leaving the company for various universities and performing arts establishments. All that talent going out into the big wide world. Damn! I want it to stay here in Moston. How dare they leave!

Prab Singh (MD along with Mark Beaumont) would laugh at me because that’s the point: they’re supposed move on to bigger things, it’s what the North West Stage School prepares them for. His dream is to see their dreams come true. So all I can say is “be like me”, make the most of it while they’re here.

It’s 10 years since NWTAC was formed and celebrations are in hand. Featuring hits from a decade of performances, the next concert in October promises to be more popular than ever so book early. In fact, sign up for the newsletter on the website so you never miss out.In addition to the stage school, the company delivers a range of professional productions and runs workshops and classes that go out to schools aka ‘Theatre in Education’. They also operate a hire service sending costumes and sets countrywide and support various activities across Manchester and beyond.

Located on Lightbowne Road in Moston the ‘hub’ includes a dance school (North West School of Dance) with classes for any age, from 3 years upwards, and on Saturdays a youth theatre (NWYT) for just a £1 a session.

I’m out of breath. There’s so much going on and summer’s not over yet.

 

Full details about North West Theatre Arts Company and all they have to offer can be found on their website here or follow them on Facebook. North West School 0f Dance have their own website, just click here for information.

 

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