Posted on : 01-09-2013 | By : Cindy | In : Travelling
I look out the train window as we swish past ancient stone villages and rolling farmland dotted with hay bales looking like giant bobbins. After three weeks without rain the usually green fields are parched and brown. Normandy is known for its rain and yet we are about to spend five sunny, hot days exploring Bayeux, tasting Norman cuisine and visiting the D-Day sites.
I am not as enthusiastic about war history as my husband and son and the thought of spending two full days visiting war graves, war museums and war sites does not thrill me quite so much as a food tour would have. Fortunately our guide, Brigitte (“My mother named me after Brigitte Bardot”) tells us lots of stories which add the human touch.
One of our first stops is Pegasus Bridge, north of Caen near Benouville. It was here that three gliders each carrying thirty soldiers landed on a narrow strip of grass just after midnight on June 6 1944.
Posted on : 14-08-2013 | By : Cindy | In : Travelling
After a pleasant two hour train ride from Gare St Lazare across the flat Normandy plains we arrive in Bayeux. We trundle our bags a leisurely ten minutes to La Tour Louise in rue Tardiff, a quaint residential street just behind the famous Bayeux cathedral.
“Bonjour, welcome!” Our friendly host, William, greets us. “Please take a seat in the lounge while I finish here,” he says in romantically accented English. We sidle ourselves and our luggage past a ladder and two workmen who have just finished hanging the most beautiful chandelier in the entrance, and sink into richly upholstered chairs, admiring the way the chandelier reflects in the full length mirror. William’s mother comes out to admire how the chandelier reflects in the wall sized mirror and is clearly delighted. “Two for the price of one!” she says in French.
While we wait for William to finish with the workmen, his father joins our conversation and I chat in French with more enthusiasm than skill. This is their family home and was also their upholstery shop where they produced plush furnishings for homes around Bayeux, including Christopher Forbes of Forbes magazine.
Unhealthy eating can cause as much DNA damage as exposure to radiation. This is just one little gem of information I picked up from listening to Dr Michael Fenech, Research Group Leader in Genome Health and Nutrigenomics at CSIRO, speak at a seminar for dietitians last week.
He described how a deficiency of folic acid in the body can be more damaging to our DNA than unsafe doses of radiation. We all know that healthy eating has a huge effect on the body but to hear it in terms of the effect on DNA somehow adds more power to the argument.
Plenty of folate in your body means longer telomeres. Telomeres are like the hard bits at each end of a shoelace. They are strips of DNA at each end of a chromosome which protect the DNA in the chromosome. Each time the cell divides the telomeres get shorter. When they get too short the cell can no longer divide and becomes inactive or dies. Researchers measure the length of a person’s telomeres as one indication of DNA damage and consequent aging.
So what we want is long telomeres, not short ones. Eating processed meat, a high homocysteine level (caused by low folate intake), low B12, obesity and stress are all associated with shorter telomeres – not a good thing.