By Anna Nicholas

Eating your heart out

On a train to Bournemouth the other day I sat opposite an enormous family. I’m not talking about numbers in the clan but their combined weight. The mother and father each must have weighed in at about 20 stones and had to occupy double seats while the three blubbery offspring, all probably under the age of 14, sat behind gorging on McDonald burgers and fries. The assortment of food on the table was equally staggering – hordes of fizzy drinks, crisps, chocolate and sweets and two Domino pizzas. On the very same morning the results of a 20 year long study into obesity levels in children, undertaken at King’s College London, had been released. The research showed that children in Britain, especially those born around the time of the new Millennium, were careering headfirst towards a precipice. Of a sample of 370,000 children, one in four below the age of 15 was found to be obese and statistics reveal that the situation is getting worse. It’s extraordinary that in an age where good health and better eating habits are buzz words continually trumpeted by the government, Britons are eating more than ever. And all the wrong things, at that! I was very tempted to lean across to Mr and Mrs Obese and tell them that they were handing their children a premature death notice but of course they wouldn’t have cared for my interference and probably would not have seen the error of their ways. I’m not sure how much is done in schools to drive home the message about healthy living but it needs to be a two pronged effort with the parents educated at the same time as their children. One of the ways to motivate is to get all involved in sporting activities which run parallel with developing good eating habits. Many activists claim that more safe facilities are needed across the UK to encourage sport at all ages but is that really the issue? It was reported the other days that fewer Britons are availing themselves of municipal swimming pools and a great many who began sports at the beginning of the year have already thrown in the towel. The problem of obesity in our society is very troubling, made more grotesque when one considers world poverty and the wretched lives of those who spend their days scrabbling for food in tips and on heaps of waste. I am still haunted by memories of watching tiny, near naked children in Katmandu crawling over towering piles of rubbish in search of anything to eat. Food for thought indeed.


Hello, Goodbye

On a frosty night in London there’s nothing better in my book than heading for one of the capital’s best theatres to enjoy a new play. Last week, I popped by the impressive modern and spacious Hampstead Theatre which was showing Hello Goodbye by Peter Souter. A fresh and witty RomCom of sorts, it featured two very talented young actors, Shaun Evans and Miranda Raison, who between them managed to keep the audience gripped through both acts despite a simple stage set and only a brief intervention on stage by two other characters. The joy of Hampstead, rather like the National, is that there is plenty of room to sit and enjoy a drink or something to eat before or after performances. With some of the older theatres in London, conditions can be so cramped in the bars that it’s usually impossible to find anywhere to perch and there are queues a mile long at the intervals. With purpose built contemporary theatres, watching a play and enjoying a catch up with friends in a relaxed environment is a great combination for a fun night out.


Love is in the air

Once again luxury Five-Star, Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel, is launching a Valentine’s Day love letter competition which is calling for entries from island residents – of all nationalities - over the age of 18 who’d like to try their hand at writing either a fictitious or heartfelt letter. The competition is now open and for the lucky winner there is the prize of a night for two in the hotel’s super luxurious two-floored Faro Suite which has heavenly vistas out to sea and to Soller Port’s old Sa Muleta lighthouse. The suite even has its own vast terrace with private Jacuzzi so for all those would-be writers, now is the time to sharpen the quill or to get busy on the computer. Letters must not wobble over 1000 words and can be written or typed in Catalan, Castilian or English. All entries must be received by 14, February and sent via e-mail to or by post directly to the hotel. Once again I shall be sitting on the judging panel along with Caty Pomar, tourism boss at Soller’s town council, fellow author Mar Mella and the hotel’s head of marketing, Marta Centeno. For the next few weeks up at the Jumeirah Port Soller, love will certainly be in the air!


Thorn in the side

Years ago Australian author Colleen McCullough - who has just died aged 78 – took the world by storm with her treacly bestselling novel, The Thorn Birds about a fated romance between a priest and a woman from the Australian outback. Many other authors jumped on her wave of success including the British mother of an author friend of mine whose similar sort of title won her a huge publishing deal. Outspoken with a porky humour, McCullough, a neurophysicist by profession, described the TV mini-series of her book, as ‘Instant vomit’. She went on to write many other books from Norfolk Island, a remote outpost in the Pacific, where she was assured some degree of peaceful anonymity.

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