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The newly-elected Speaker of the House of Commons–Sir Lindsay Hoyle–has revealed that he’s recently been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Photo by Jessica Taylor

He had been losing weight at what his wife thought was an alarming rate. She persuaded him to see his doctor–who sent him to A&E.

I’m going to cope with it. I’m going to manage it. I’m going to get through this. The fact is I feel really well. We know what it is – that’s the good news – and of course, I have got to get over it and get on with my job.

The House of Commons elected me to be the Speaker and there’s nothing that’s going to stop me from doing that.”

Theresa May made a similar announcement some years ago– a courageous step for a person with such a prominent profile.

I’d read somewhere that she enjoyed cooking, so I sent her my book Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics and received a gracious reply in a 10 Downing Street envelope:

I plan to do the same for The Speaker. 

In the meantime, Sir Lindsay, here is a warming winter vegetable soup that features in my new (fourth!) cookbook, to be published in the UK on June 4th, 2020– and available for pre-order now on Amazon.

Vegetable soup

Simply that—a soup with vegetables

1 medium onion—in small dice

1 leek—finely sliced

3 garlic cloves—pulped

1 carrot—in small dice

1 stick celery

2 tbs olive oil

1 fennel bulb– bite size dice

2 carrots– chopped to bite-size

2 sticks celery–bite-size dice

1 medium turnip–bite-size dice

8oz butternut squash–bite-size dice

1 tin/can tomatoes broken up with its juice

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a bouquet of bay leaf, sprigs parsley and thyme

2 pints stock (I use organic vegetable stock cubes.)

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the smaller diced vegetables.
  • Turn over in the oil and cook gently until tender.
  • This is the taste “engine” of the soup that will slowly deepen its flavours.
  • Add the larger dice vegetables and turn them in.
  • Add the tomatoes and turn them in.
  • Lay in the herb bouquet and add the stock and lightly season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring up to the boil and cover.
  • Turn the heat to low and simmer for a half-hour or until the larger diced veg are tender.
  • Remove the bouquet of herbs and add a swirl of your best olive oil.

 

I’m making this soup today!

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All these events are free.

If our paths cross, hope you’ll come say hello!

 

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CoverBook

In New York City:

ManhattanSigning

In Los Angeles:

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In Palo Alto:

RevisedBooksInc

In Arlington, Virginia (Washington D.C. area):

Arlington

 

Poldark

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There are a few places left on this extra cooking workshop in the first week in June (4th-8th) and in the extra autumn workshop at the end of September. The focus is hands-ons cooking of Mediterranean cuisine–with the accent on healthy recipes.

This June weekend will be the sixth I’ve run chez Dominique and Philippe, the warm and welcoming owners who run the beautiful La Terrasse in Lautrec.

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We start with tea–well I’m a Brit!–in the garden on Thursday afternoon and finish with a celebratory Sunday lunch.

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We eat outside in the garden as much as possible!

We eat outside in the garden as much as possible!

In between we top and tail, chop and slice, chew the fat and generally hang out together round the large central table of the working kitchen of the gite which Dominique and Philippe designed specifically for cooking courses.

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We are blessed to have Simone Sarti (pictured below) with us who keeps everything ship shape and the wheels turning.

Friday morning, we walk to the little market held in the main square of Lautrec and buy the makings for lunch, then go back and prepare it together.

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Friday evening we give ourselves a break and dine chez Valerie—a fine cook—in the converted barn where she and her partner, Bernard, have created a delightful table d’hôte.

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They have a sociable “Long John Silver” parrot in residence who is in love with Meredith and hangs on her every word.

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Saturday morning shop at the open air market in Castres, our nearest town, buying our fresh food for lunch.

Before the final dinner, Phillippe offers his expert take on local French wines in his extraordinary cave deep under the house.

Each attendee–Bravehearts to me!–has their cooking station with a chopping board, cook’s knife and an apron!

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It’s a hands on workshop–we are all in it together

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The aim is to have fun, make friends and eat well.

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The setting for all this is Lautrec—a medieval bastide (hilltop) village in the Tarn, proud of its designation as Un des plus beaux villages de France. It’s famous for its pink garlic–l’ail rose–and hosts a Garlic Festival the first Friday in August every year, attracting 10,000 visitors!  On a clear day you can see the Pyrenees from the hilltop.

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So far into the melting pot have jumped Bravehearts from the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, France, Italy, Australia and Majorca.

The pictures tell the story–it’s the people who’ve made it work.

Come be a Braveheart!!

Here’s more about it…

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Diabetes Logo

This week marks the end of the testing season–feet, heart, liver, kidneys, prostate, skin–you name it!

On Monday it was the annual love fest with Dr Nguyen Ngoc Luong, my opthamologist.

A man of few words, Dr Luong sits on a swivel chair with an alarming revolving table to his right.

At the push of a button this table goes in to action, swinging round to position a new chin rest at eye level between me and the good Doctor. This happens three times in the course of the test.

Then comes the checking of my long sight.

Reading off the numbers or letters projected on the wall opposite, as Dr Luong slips different lenses in and out of the “pince-nez” he fastens onto my nose.

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I feel like a schoolboy keen to answer teacher’s questions correctly.

Now it’s time for the most intimate moment of the session.

We both shift nervously on our chairs preparing to stare into one another’s eyes for a few breathless moments.

My freshly shaved chin juts towards his as he points a penetrating light at my pupils–shining  it into every corner of my cornea and beyond.

Breaking the spell, he leans back and utters three precious words. To my relief–a few days short of Valentine’s Day–not “I Love You” but…

“Pas de diabétes!”

I uncross my fingers–and feel foolish again for indulging in the Superstition Game.

Another year CLEAR!

 

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The UK’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, has revealed that she was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

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It was a real shock and, yes, it took me a while to come to terms with it,” she said. “It started last November. I’d had a bad cold and cough for quite a few weeks. I went to my GP and she did a blood test which showed I’d got a very high sugar level – that’s what revealed the diabetes.

“The symptoms are tiredness, drinking a lot of water, losing weight, but it’s difficult to isolate things. I was drinking a lot of water. But I do anyway. There was weight loss but then I was already making an effort to be careful about diet and to get my gym sessions in.”

The Home Secretary says she has been told that she will have to inject herself with insulin twice a day for the rest of her life–but she has no fear of needles and intends to carry on in her Cabinet post.

Mrs May’s determination to get on with her life reminds me of my mother, Molly Ellis.

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June 1955. Brother Jack in Molly’s arms. Her doctors overcame their doubts about letting her proceed with the pregnancy despite being a Type 1 diabetic.

Molly was diagnosed with Type 1 aged 38 in 1953.

She too injected herself twice a day for the rest of her life.

Eventually she died of a sudden heart attack linked to her condition–but she made it to 67–almost 30 years with Type 1 diabetes–and in those days treatment was not as advanced as it is now.

Molly was not a professional politician–and the cabinet she loved best was hanging in a corner! But she carried on leading a full life, running the household and raising three boys.

The last six years of her life were spent in a Buckinghamshire village called Brill–not too far from Oxford. She and Dad retired there from London. They threw themselves into village life and were much appreciated for it.

I’d wager that not many in the village, apart from her doctor,  John Spence, knew she was diabetic–and few would have understood what it meant.

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Molly relaxing in Brill–after preparing lunch I’d guess!

She never liked to make a fuss.

Her heart attack happened one morning as she was finishing dressing to go shopping. Her heart finally gave up after years of struggle.

Her gift to me was an understanding of how damaging diabetes can be if ignored. When I received my diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in my mid-fifties, I took it seriously, thanks to witnessing my mother’s journey.

There’s still a shocking ignorance surrounding the condition.

Theresa May’s high profile and very public admission that she is Type 1 helps focus attention on and heighten awareness of this ruthless and insidious menace.

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As I came out of the new organic supermarket this morning, the dry heat hit me–transporting me directly to California.

That would be nice.

Enter the shop in France and exit six thousand miles away and close to the ocean–all stocked up!

Dream on–though they did put a robot on Mars this week–not in my lifetime.

Good weather for a stressful day–a double clinic visit and the results of a blood test.

On second thoughts, maybe California and the land of perpetual sun is not such a good idea….

My first clinic visit is to a skin surgeon for him to look at a small cancer on the left side of my nose.

Stop PressPoldark’s scar becomes a reality!

Pas de soucis–the dermatologist assured me, providing a referral to Docteur Mylonas, the plastic surgeon–nothing to worry about!

He confirmed what she’d told me–that the culprit was the sun.

I had spent all my sun capital!, she’d said, charmingly.

Docteur Mylonas picked a date at the end of August for the small operation.

Just after lunch on the 28th suit you?

It’s this easy? Seems so. 

That’ll be forty euros for today, says the receptionist, all reimbursable barring 2 euros.

Quel système!

The blood sample was taken–here in the kitchen–at 8 am Tuesday by our friend, Sylvie, one of the local team of nurses.

Just the quarterly A1C  (measuring the glucose levels in my blood).

Sometimes the result comes in the post from the lab the next day.

Nothing yesterday.

I listen anxiously for the postal van’s vibrations on my return from the clinique.

Just before 1pm–a tad early–I hear it and go out to the box.

The envelope is there and the moment of truth–eek!

Worryguts in my head, it’s bound to be bad…

I unfold the paper and…

6.4% is clearly written–0.1% less than 3 months ago. In the range of normal–just!

A silent whoopee is followed by a moment of self-satisfaction as the anxiety recedes.

But there is no room for complacency, Robin, I quickly remind myself.

The 6pm appointment with the cardiologist will round off the day!

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A brief talk to the assembled group

Wonderful book event in Georgetown last night!

Thanks to author, nutritionist and all-around whirlwind, Katherine Tallmadge for organizing the event; Nancy Taylor Bubes for opening her beautiful home to more than 80 guests, the American Institute of Wine and Food  for co-sponsoring, and Executive Chef, Janis McLean of Bistrot Le Zinc for demonstrating the potato-less salmon fishcakes recipe–and thanks to all who turned out, many bringing dishes prepared from recipes in Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.

The Washington Post’s Food Editor Bonnie Benwick was present the entire evening and wrote a wonderful account today: http://wapo.st/xGHO30/.

We leave balmy Washington D.C. where the magnolia blossoms are opening for the Windy City  tomorrow!

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