Monthly Archives: December 2012

French Wine growers add their expertise to skincare

Grapes + Science = Glamour


Once, the grapes being tended by the men

traditionally driving the horses in the

vineyards would be destined for wine – but

today they might just as likely be used

for skincare.

As a teetotaler, it may sound silly to be interested in wine and vines, but talking to a Sherry vineyard  owner, he mentioned that the climate around Herez in Southern Spain, was so dry, that the vines send their roots down 3 – 4 metres seeking moisture.

Vines need moisture to grow.  But it took a clever Frenchwoman to put two and two together, and use this ‘dig deep’ ability to help our moisture-hungry skins.

She founded the skincare firm Caudalie,  and it’s fans have grown by word of mouth ever since 1995.  Since then she and Dr. Vercauten from the University of Pharmacy in Bordeaux, the famous wine-growing area of France, have been developing purely natural products to help our moisture-starved skins.

Recently, having been put on new drugs that have landed me with the usual dry, dry skin, I have been trying out Caudalie products;  at first sceptically – but now I see how they work I am not only a fan, but have been buying their products as present for other friends with the same problems.

As the Caudalie research team say:

“Organic grape water and grape seed oil will calm down and rebuild the skin. The polyphenol will stop free radicals leaded by the stress of the disease.”

Vine Body Butter

One of the first products I just had to try was Vine Body butter, and this is a real Hero product.     My body drinks it in, as it is incredibly soothing;  as soon as I started to use it I could feel the benefits as my Brillo pad skin started smoothing out.   I wish I knew what ingredient in modern drugs gives one this nasty dry skin – but somehow feel the drug companies don’t care.

The Body Butter contains grape-seeds (anti-oxidant) and grape seed oil (used a lot in cooking!) 

  • Shea butter – always a star ingredient
  • Avocado extra – another natural smoother

and sinks in without any trace of grease.

Like all Caudalie products, it is sold through pharmacies and Chemists;  the French believe in using the pharmacists’ knowledge, not just go in for medicines as we seem to do.   Cost:  £20

A very sensible idea is the way Caudalie uses the inside of boxes to show graphics on how to use the creams, serums, etc.  I think that this was the practical idea of the founder, Mathilde Thomas – and it’s really very sensible.  Once wonders why this has never been thought of before.

(Takes a woman to think up something so practical!)

So once you have unwrapped the products, flatten out the package and look for hints and tips inside – the S.O.S Serum had helpful diagrams on how best to massage it into your face.  There is also a helpful guide to which products go on first, so you don’t have to hunt round to find out which cream goes under/on top.

Vinosource Moisture Recovery Cream

This can be used as a Day or Night Cream

I used it on its own during the day, and at night massaged in the S.O.S. Serum first, then patted on the Recovery Cream.

Then went to the OAP’s Party at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.  I arrived feeling like the oldest person there, but everyone was so complimentary about how well I looked – I soon perked up!

Cost £19.90

Chemists know all about the products

Near my new home is a wonderful Chemists – Chelsea Pharmacy.  They stock Caudalie, and I found Rima incredibly knowledgeable.  She told me about the Caudalie cleanser, and also recommended their Grape Water spray as being just the thing to moisturise my skin whilst I sit at my lap top all day in a centrally-heated room.  She is quite right!



You can apply the Moisture Recovery Cream both in the morning and evening – I hope this answers your question, do let me know if there is anything further you need.

Kind regards,


Josie Pohlinger

Senior Account Executive


+ 44 (0) 20 7381 6226



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NHS shoots itself in other foot

Does anyone listen?  These loverly slogans are the latest issue from NHS to persuade us that

 Everyone Counts

Well, if the bean counters in Richmond Towers haven’t noticed, is there any hospital really operating ‘7  DAYS A WEEK’?  Or is this the latest money-wasting exercise?

LaLaLite obviously inhabits the same Alice in Wonderland country as his predecessor, when it comes to fatuous slogans that mean nothing.

Wonder how much this latest exercise cost us?

Has anyone thought if they got down to actual work, instead of writing Fairy Stories (even though it is Christmas) they could go a long way to saving the money the NHS needs.

But I suppose this will mean a lot of ‘Consultants’ will be out of work.  Well, if this is the standard of their work, a good thing too.

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NHS shoots itself in foot – again

English: NHS logo








My Heart Surgeon leant over the desk: “now I have to tell you the risks”.   (Having just been told I needed a 7-hour heart operation, surely I was savvy enough to realise that carried a huge risk?)

“If anything happens, will I know anything about it?”

“No – you will be under anaesthetic” he told me.

“Right – then it’s your problem”, was my reply, and we went on to more sensible questions.

What Doctors are For

Drugs had produced my heart problems, and I relied on my doctor to choose the best person to operate and repair the damage.  I SO did not need ‘Choose and Book’;  faced with a list of possible surgeons, I wouldn’t have had a clue whom to choose;  but a sensible doctor would know which surgeons had a good record for survival, because they had accepted ‘last hope’ cases whom no-one else would help.

NHS Interferes

 LaLaLite (the new Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt) is showing  just as much grasp of essentials as his predecessor,   LaLa Lansley.  Latest dictat info from Richmond Towers says “surgeons will be ranked by how many people die in their operating theatres”. 

This means a junior doctor, newly qualified and only trusted with the most basic procedures, will be top of the tables;  an experienced surgeon with patients queueing up from around the world, who will operate on many ‘no hopers’, will probably be way down the bottom of these silly, time and money-wasting statistical tables.

Can we please get back to sensible health care, where one’s GP is trusted to do their best for their patients, not waste valuable time and money having to compare paper statistics?

 Does anyone listen?

After shooting itself in the foot, today’s dictat is called

 Everyone Counts.

Well, if the bean counters in Richmond Towers haven’t noticed, is there any hospital really operating ‘7  DAYS A WEEK’?

LaLaLite obviously inhabits the same Alice in Wonderland country as his predecessor.

Wonder how much this latest exercise cost us? 

Has anyone thought if they got down to actual work, instead of writing Fairy Stories (even though it is Christmas) they could go a long way to saving the money the NHS needs.

But I suppose this will mean a lot of ‘Consultants’ will be out of work.  Well, if this is the standard of their work, a good thing too.

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Understanding NHS language

Nurses need Degrees


to understand NHS jargon

English: East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust

NHS jargon needs its own Ambulance Service (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


We may not be able to understand what doctors tell us – but spare a thought for NHS staff, who have to content with providing a ‘spectrum of adequacy’, when treating patients.

NHS Trusts are asking medics to provide this – but would you know what it is?

 The Plain English Campaign is gunning for the NHS, and its latest examples of mindless ‘officialese’.  In the running for ironic Awards is this gem from North Staffordshire, rejecting an application for a new pharmacy…..

There was not currently a gap on the spectrum of adequacy sufficient to conclude that the provision of pharmaceutical services is not currently secured to the standard of adequacy’.

 Er – wonder what that meant.

The invaluable website  comments on the newly revised SHA guidance entitled ’12 hour trolley breach protocol, Version 3.0 updated November 2012′. 

 It contained the usual strong language and nonsensical directives to make hourly phone calls to on-call commissioning directors (they must love receiving these – provided they can get through).

 A full root cause analysis should be undertaken for all 12 hr trolley waits these should be submitted to the Commissioner and LAT within 72 hours of the incident. Any 12 hour trolley wait is not acceptable under any circumstances and CCG’s are expected to use whatever mechanisms are appropriate to penalise Trusts who allow such waits to happen.

 Does anyone in the NHS think that perhaps the medics looking after patients are looking for the best solution?  Reminds me of the time I visited Brasov Hospital in Romania, where a tin of baby powder was so precious it was kept under lock and key.  There, they really have to play ‘box and cox’ with patients, and no stupid directives to stop them from doing the best under trying circumstances.

But so far the top contenders in the Plain English Golden Bull Awards contain four ‘entries’ from NHS Trusts.  Seems patients are not the only ones who can’t understand what medics are saying.

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Playing Tennis with NHS Commissioning

You cannot be serious


 I stared open-mouthed across the Reception Desk in our local hospital’s MRI department.

 John McEnroe’s  words came to mind.  I had turned up at Imaging Dept. of local hospital;  had phoned directly to try and get an appointment (been told they couldn’t make a booking over the phone, so believed them) and  turned up at their desk to get an appointment for a Scan for a painful spine.  Then they told me the latest ‘lie’ in a sorry tale of ‘pass the patient’.  

It all started when I  went to see GP, bent double with spinal pain.  

He dubiously asked if I wanted to use ‘Choose and Book  to make an appointment for a Scan?   Try anything once, is my motto, so said Yes.  

When the hand-over from LaLa Lansley to LaLaLite (Jeremy Hunt) took place, it was obvious no-one had explained to the new boy that he should see the NHS books were balanced – it was NOT to ensure the NHS makes a profit from treating patients. 

Recently our local hospital has commissioned a Northumbrian company, Connect Physical Health (CPH) to offer scans – and they commissioned another private company to write up all their doctors’ notes.    So we seem to have ended up with a company at loggerheads with the GPs who commission the procedures, and anxious patients unable to take up appointments with Consultants, as the outsourced transcribing company hasn’t written up the notes.

This is providing endless possibilities for mix-ups, delays etc., a lot of money is being shunted around but the end result is the patient gets a fragmented and inefficient diagnostic service.

Start the Match

After three weeks went by with no appointment for a scan,  my Match with CPH was on, as I desperately tried to get a date :


CPH are past masters at this game.  Within the first few minutes they knock up points in quick succession, telling me :

  • You don’t have right form                                                                                                       LOVE –  15
  • Your GP can’t refer for an MRI                                                                                                        LOVE –  30
  • Your Letter not received (this is an ACE, as I can’t challenge)                                          LOVE –  40 
  • Finally, “we have received letter, but are too busy to do anything”                                      O  – 1



Next game

  • by this time I am working out how much it is going to cost to go over to France.   First call was to highly popular University Hospital of Lille, who offer me an appointment for Christmas Eve – at least the French work then.                                                                                                                                                                                   15 – LOVE
  •  CPH then say my letter is not right letter for MRI Scan                                                           15 ALL
  • CPH back again “We have received letter, and it IS right one ,                                                                                                              but there is no appointment we can give you for six months                                                 15 – 30
  • I get angry, and tell CPH that I am going to France                                                                    30 ALL
  •  CPH gasp:  “Er, we can offer you an appointment at 3 pm THIS AFTERNOON”     


 End of Match analysis

  • Be patient – the ‘Provider’ may come up with umpteen excuses.
  • Write these down – at least as proof you are NOT going mad
  • But in the end, Providers are there to make money (unlike NHS in-hospital services). 
  • If you don’t come for your scan via the NHS, Providers won’t get paid by the NHS. So this is when YOU say you are going to France/Germany/Italy etc. and they panic – seeing their payment slipping away.



If you want to go to France

  1.  The French aren’t as stupid as us, and frown on ‘Medical Tourists’.  So when you book, make sure you let them know you are going to pay.
  2. The EHIC card does NOT cover this type of medical treatment.
  3. Many staff speak English, and websites usually have a Union Flag you can click on.
  4. You are given adequate time – no rushed 10 minute appointmtents
  5. Friends who go there say cost of Scans is far below what we pay in UK (I do know local hospital charges £120 for DEXA Scan – in Italy I was quoted £40)

The very-efficient Lille Tourist Office says it might be easier to get an apointment in a Centre d’Imagerie Médicale rather than in a hospital, where they have to deal with emergencies and put their own patients on top of the list as well as patients refered to them by doctors who are part of the Sécurité Sociale scheme.

Here are a few in Lille, starting with the most central Centre and going on to furthest away from the city centre (but easy to get there on the underground).  Put 00 at beginning of number if phoning from UK, and ask to speak to an English speaker.  With some telephone tariffs, it costs between 1p. and 4p per minute, cheaper than the NHS’s 0845.

Radiologie et Imagerie Médicale Lille Centre
101 rue du Molinel
+33 3 20 52 52 53

Centre d’Imagerie Médicale
73 rue Jacquemars Giélée
+33 3 20 57 07 19

Centre d’Imagerie Médicale des Bois Blancs
144 avenue de Dunkerque
+33 3 20 09 92 92

Centre d’Imagerie Médicale de Lomme
712 avenue de Dunkerque
+33 3 20 93 42 09

 Lille Tourism & Convention Bureau (non-profit association with English-sepaking staff)
Palais Rihour | Place Rihour | BP 205
59002 Lille Cedex (France)

Tel. from abroad: +33 (0)359 579 400

Getting there

 Eurostar operates up to 9 daily services from London St Pancras International to Lille with return fares from £69. Eurostar also offers connecting fares from more than 300 stations in the UK.                                                  

Fastest London-Lille journey time is 1hr 20 minutes.

Tickets are available from or call 08432 186 186

Standard Premier

With the option of flexible fares, Standard Premier offers more leg-room with on-board staff offering a light meal and a selection of magazines.

 Standard Premier fares start from £189 return

Lille Europe station (where you arrive) has plenty of taxis, and as medical centres are mostly on outskirts you will need one (not too expensive).  Once you have finished, the station is a ten minute walk from the shopping area.

Having Fun after

I love to eat in L’Ecume des Mers – but the tourist board can give you details of lots of other good restaurants.

And the centre of Lille is a wonderful traffic-free shopping zone  – a 10 minute walk from Eurostar station (don’t forget there are two stations in Lille).