Why am I wasting the chance to scoff my bodyweight in doughnuts?

Why am I wasting the chance to scoff my bodyweight in doughnuts?

Why am I wasting the chance to scoff my bodyweight in doughnuts

1:15 AM on 12th May 2011

Waiting game: Lorraine doesn

Waiting game: Lorraine doesn”t know what to do with herself after finishing work on maternity leave (posed by model)

My maternity leave started on Friday. I took the children to school, had a scan, made a dent in the washing pile, found the missing swimming hat, picked the children up, went to the park, collected another three children along the way, supervised all six as they rampaged around and, ignoring the restraining order the oven took out against me in 1990, attempted to cook dinner from a recipe.

It was as busy as being at work (but with less grateful recognition for the effectiveness of my activities, obviously). All in all day one went smoothly.

But when I got up on Saturday morning my feet had swollen. I couldn’t even get flip-flops on. Then I had a nosebleed. So I was rendered useless by 7am. No value to anyone because I couldn’t do anything. The washing machine breathed a sigh of relief. But what was I to do now

I was stuck on the sofa, feet up, resembling Gilbert Grape’s huge mother. Ginormica Candy (the biggest of all four of my babies) wriggled so much inside the bump that I half expected her elbow to poke out of my ear.

The trio of trouble performed a magic show to occupy me. It was a little stressful because I was instructed to keep my eyes shut for most tricks, especially the one where the cross-dressing four-year-old stood by a half-open window promising to make a cushion disappear. ‘Call me Susie and say abracadabra,’ he commanded in his pink nightie.

This was followed by a lengthy and disturbing conversation with Gracie-in-the-middle, seven, reviewing the reasons we can’t name the hamster they’re saving up for ‘Danger of Death’.

Then they disappeared for various weekend play dates and birthday parties and I lay there wondering what to do next. Just ‘being’ seemed pointless. I felt feeble, brought down by pregnancy.

I felt even more pointless by Sunday night having contributed little to the weekend and knowing I wasn’t going to work on Monday either. What was my purpose

I know in 12 days time, I’ll regret that I wasted my chance to scoff my own body weight in doughnuts while watching The Only Way Is Essex in a quiet house. But the beginning of maternity leave is an odd sensation for a working mother.

You are on the brink of a discombobulating change of identity. It’s even more disturbing when you’re in any way physically incapacitated.

Each time I’ve begun my maternity leaves, I’ve feared this feeling of uselessness. I miss the comfort zone of my job while I run the gauntlet of daily failures that can overwhelm you after a newborn comes into your family life.

I feel especially useless during the days between quitting the office and giving birth. Being on the domestic front line confuses women like me. I need a mental reboot, like a computer or a mobile phone.

I’ve worked full time since I was 16. My identity is so bound up in my career that being alone in the house (before school pick-up) is an unknown quantity to me.

Beyond the normal chores, I don’t know what to do — but still wonder if I am doing it right. And I do everything at speed, conditioned into achieving things swiftly by my usual office schedule.

This is what scares me most when I entertain thoughts of giving up work to stay at home full time. Exactly what will I do all day Work is where my skills lie. I have no qualifications. No hidden talents.

My desire to keep my job shouldn’t de- prive me of a large family; I manage both.

Men do it, and it seems to be working, especially with the support I can afford and a helpful partner. But maternity leave is a taste of what it would be like if I was a full-time mum. Who would I be

Of course when Eliza/Maud/Merryn/Steno (the four year old’s bizarre suggestion) arrives, I will be over-occupied, but even then maternity leave is hostile territory.

It is fraught with the perils of potential boredom, and worse still the worry that I will forget how to do what I do at work. Or that someone else will do it better in my absence.

It’s about confidence, isn’t it I think you have to be extremely confident to stay at home full-time. Secure in your own company. I know women like that. I’m just not one of them.

Lorraine Candy is Editor-in-chief of ELLE

The girl who set sail on a Disney dream and vanished into thin air

The girl who set sail on a Disney dream and vanished into thin air

Murder Suicide Or did Rebecca WANT to disappear The girl who set sail on a Disney dream but vanished into thin air

2:01 AM on 12th May 2011

With her broad smile and infectious enthusiasm for life, Rebecca Coriam was always going to be the perfect candidate for a job with Disney.

Little wonder that from among the hundreds of hopefuls interviewed for jobs as ‘children’s counsellors’ on board one of the three family-themed cruise ships in the Disney fleet, it was Rebecca who stood out.

The 24-year-old could hardly have been better qualified for the role, which involved organising children’s activities on board the 83,000-ton cruise ship Disney Wonder.

Missing: Rebecca Coriam, pictured on holiday in Mexico aged 16, disappeared without a trace seven weeks ago

Missing: Rebecca Coriam, pictured on holiday in Mexico aged 16, disappeared without a trace seven weeks ago

She studied sports science and childhood studies at university, was a volunteer with the Army cadets, loved children and anything even remotely sporty.

‘She had to travel to London for the interview. It was evening by the time she rang. I knew straight away it was good news,’ says her mother, Annmaria. ‘I felt so incredibly proud and happy that I think I rang everybody I knew.’

Sitting next to her husband, Mike, in the conservatory of their cosy bungalow on the outskirts of Chester — where they raised Rebecca and her sister Rachael, 26, and cared for dozens of foster children — Annmaria’s face falls at the memory. For the Disney dream that began amid such excitement almost exactly a year ago has become a living nightmare.

Seven weeks ago, Rebecca disappeared without a trace from the 11-deck cruise liner as it sailed along the Mexican Riviera.

She was last seen on board at 5.45am on March 22 by a young male colleague who was concerned that she appeared upset, but when he approached to check if she was OK she insisted she was fine and on her way to bed.

Rebecca, however, apparently never reached her cabin. The alarm was raised when she failed to appear for work at 9am the following day.

Both the Mexican Navy and U.S. Coast Guard scoured the waters, but no trace of Rebecca was found.

A search on board the ship similarly yielded no clues — save for a pair of stray flipflops, which could have belonged to anyone.

Mystery: The cruise ship Disney Wonder had been at sea for just 24 hours when Rebecca went missing

Mystery: The cruise ship Disney Wonder had been at sea for just 24 hours when Rebecca went missing

So what can have happened to Rebecca Coriam Did she, as authorities seem to think, fall or jump from the ship Was something more sinister at play Or could Rebecca still be alive

That possibility has been given added weight by an intriguing new clue, in the form of an email to her parents notifying them of suspicious activity on a bank account which they suspect was Rebecca’s.

Yet there have been no sightings of her. She has vanished into thin air — and nobody seems to know why.

There was no sign that Rebecca, a super-fit triathlete, was a young woman planning to take her own life. On the contrary, she was excited about returning home on Easter Sunday and enjoying one of the perks of her job — taking her family to Disneyland Paris.

There was no boyfriend that her parents knew of, but she seemed happy and appeared to be enjoying her life on board the 3,000-passenger Disney Wonder.

‘She had so much to look forward to,’ says Annmaria, 51. ‘She had been so pleased about getting the Disneyland passes for me, her dad, hersister Rachael and one of her two foster brothers.’

Adds Mike: ‘Every time we spoke to her, she had something to tell us about what she had done or where she had been. She was excited all the time.’

The last message Rebecca sent to her mother was the day before her disappearance. It read: ‘Mum, are you OK I’m fine, I’ll ring you tomorrow.’ Hardly the words of a distressed young woman.

That call never came. Instead, Mike answered the phone at 10.45pm to be told by a Disney representative that Rebecca was missing at sea.

 Rebecca Coriam

Worst nightmare: Rebecca”s parents, Mike and Annmaria, are desperate to know what has happened to their daughter

The next few days are a blur for the couple. ‘We flew to Los Angeles,’ says Annmaria. ‘It was the hardest journey we’ve ever made. We had no idea if there would be fresh news when we landed.’

Initially, the couple were told Rebecca may have been in a highly emotional state in her final hours on board. They were informed that CCTV footage had been found from the morning of her disappearance showing her upset, drunk and banging her head.

What they saw when they made the painful journey to the cruise ship (which completed its seven-day trip through the Pacific before docking at Los Angeles) was quite the opposite.

‘We were shocked. We were expecting to see what had been described, but instead she looked absolutely fine,’ says Annmaria.

‘She just looked like Rebecca. At first, when she walked into shot she had her hands in her back pockets like she always did.

“She wasn’t stumbling like she was drunk. She didn’t look drunk at all. In fact, she wasn’t a big drinker. I don’t think we’ve ever seen her drunk.

‘Yes, she made a phone call, and then she ran her hands back through her hair, but there was no banging her head. We’ve been told she was upset on the phone, but we have since spoken to the girl she called, who also worked on the ship. She said Rebecca was a bit upset but that she calmed right down and said she was going to her room.’

The couple do not know what had upset their normally cheery daughter in that final phone call, and their requests to return to the ship to try to lay their questions to rest have been turned down.

That the couple have not been given more information, nor even been told what their daughter did after finishing work on the evening before her disappearance, is an indictment of the investigation into Rebecca’s disappearance.

They did speak with Rebecca’s colleagues and visit the tiny bunk room she shared with a young American woman, but there was nothing to suggest she had been in a troubled state. The walls were covered with family photographs, and on the desk were the passes to Disneyland Paris.

With no further clues to work on, the couple returned to Britain. But just over a fortnight ago, this baffling tale took a fresh twist when an email dropped into Annmaria’s inbox.

It was a message from Rebecca’s bank reporting unusual activity on her account. It said that on April 19 somebody had tried to access the account.

The email was sent just before the Easter holiday, and the couple read it on Good Friday. Annmaria and Mike have been asked by police not to divulge the precise content of the message, but it was from a major British bank and gave every indication of being genuine.

Sea mystery: British cruise worker Rebecca Coriam went missing from a Disney ship in the Caribbean 13 days ago

Sea mystery: Cruise worker Rebecca was last seen at 5.45am on March 22

The parents do not know if Rebecca had given their details as an emergency contact for the bank. Such emails are not unusual when there is irregular activity on a credit card.

Mike, 57 and a self-employed gardener, tried to speak to the bank concerned, but was thwarted by ‘customer confidentiality’ and told he would have to wait for the police to get in touch.

It was only after the police started to investigate the email and Rebecca’s banking arrangements that the parents realised they had paperwork for an account in their daughter’s name that should have linked with a credit card — but the card was not among the belongings they brought back from the ship.

So was it Rebecca using her card Was someone — a thief, an opportunist, possibly her killer, even — using her card These are just a few questions among the many that this bereft couple want answered. ‘We are still waiting to hear back,’ says Mike.

They have passed the email to police but dare not hope too much. It could be a mistake, or even a cruel hoax.

Painful: Rebecca

Painful: Rebecca”s family making a TV appeal for information on Rebecca

So what do her parents think has happened to their daughter

‘We just don’t know,’ says Mike. ‘But what we do know is that Rebecca wouldn’t want to put us in this situation. We’ve never believed she simply disappeared overboard and drowned.

‘Maybe she fell in the water and was picked up by a fishing boat. Maybe she lost her memory and is in a little village in Mexico. Maybe she was attacked. Maybe she was on board after all and got off.’

He is too diplomatic to criticise the police, but it is clear he feels frustrated at the limited scale of the investigation. Thanks to the vagaries of ocean law, the inquiries are being handled by authorities in the Bahamas, because that is where the ship was registered.

Puerto Vallarta: The Disney Wonder was three days into a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise when Rebecca disappeared

Puerto Vallarta: The Disney Wonder was three days into a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise when Rebecca disappeared

Mike points out that when the couple visited the Disney Wonder they were told that just one police officer from the Bahamas had boarded, fully three days after Rebecca’s disappearance.

‘One officer to interview everyone,’ he says. ‘The boat was never emptied of passengers or crew. Some people told us they didn’t even realise something had happened until they saw it on the news.’

Mike lives in hope that someone — anyone — might come forward with a fresh lead. But unless or until they do, the agony of uncertainty continues.

‘Some days are worse than others,’ says Annmaria, ‘but today it’s been seven weeks and any anniversary of her disappearance is especially painful. In our hearts and minds, though, we feel she is alive.’

Missing: The woman disappeared as the Disney cruise ship made one of its regular weekly trips from Los Angeles along Mexico

Fears: Rebecca as the Disney cruise ship made one of itsregular weekly trips from Los Angeles along Mexico”s Pacific coast

Mike adds: ‘It’s not that we are not prepared to face the alternative. But we know she would never harm herself. We just know. That’s why we have been totally mystified from day one.’

Their worst fear is that Rebecca is never found. ‘What then How do you carry on and cope’ asks Annmaria.

For now, the cycle of anxiety and despair continues, mixed with the small flame of hope of two parents determined not to give up.

‘As much as we want answers now, we have prepared ourselves for a long wait,’ says Mike. ‘We think somebody has to know something. There must be a lead.

‘We will do anything and everything to keep searching for information until we know what has happened to our beloved daughter. We will never give up.’

Why are so many women ashamed of being granny?

Why are so many women ashamed of being granny?

Why are so many women ashamed of being granny

1:30 AM on 12th May 2011

Well, silly me. For a moment back there, I thought I might be in with a chance of some fun, some support — at the very least, some camaraderie. When I read of the launch of a website called Gransnet, the very name suggested it should have been right up my street.

True, I’m no fan of its effortlessly smug sister site, Mumsnet. But I am an out-and-proud grandmother to 18-month-old Milly. She is — by far — my number one interest in life, and I am distantly aware that not all my friends, for some strange reason, are equally fascinated.

So Gransnet, I imagined, might be just the ticket. Somewhere to go, just to share the excitement. Other grandmothers to meet, just as doolally as me. Most of all, like-minded people, consumed with curiosity about the burning issues of these, our later years.

Young at heart: More grandparents want to prove they have much more glamorous things to do than babysitting (posed by model)

Young at heart: More grandparents want to prove they have much more glamorous things to do than babysitting (posed by model)

Such as: why can’t we give grandchildren sweeties as bribes, as our own grandparents once did If we do, is it OK to lie to their parents about it Is it really wrong to smack a small paw when it’s reaching for a hot stove And why does little Milly laugh herself to hiccups at my efforts to get her to walk, clearly reasoning that as long as her crawl outpaces my run, what’s the point

Aren’t questions like these the passions of all older women who are lucky enough to have grandchildren Apparently not.

Read Gransnet for a week and you’ll be forced to conclude that there are swathes of women out there for whom grandchildren have become less a source of pride than of shame.

You know the kind of woman who lets slip she has a grandbaby, then simpers with delight at the corny old compliment, ‘Wow! You don’t look old enough…’ This website is so full of them that it’s astonishing they opted to join a group called Gransnet in the first place.

It’s hard to credit, but not even half of the ‘cyber conversations’ engaged in so far even mention grandchildren. At all.

Admittedly, it’s not hard to see why: in this youth-obsessed culture of ours, the more you make of your grandchildren’s place in your life, the more you are making of the age you must be to have them.

So throngs of women, most of whom we might safely assume to be north of 60, adopt relentlessly hip online names (or somebody’s idea of hip: ‘Slinky’, ‘Bikergran’, ‘Divawithattitude’).

All right, they seem to be saying, maybe we do have grandchildren … but let’s not bother with that. Let’s, uh, I know! Swop (sic) recipes for strawberry dacquiris! Find frocks to make our arms look young! (Boden is best, apparently.) Ways to make our hair look young! (Guess what Dye.)

Everything is about being ‘cool’ and ‘young at heart’, with lots of icons for happy or sad faces; cute when you’re texting at 16 but, frankly, puerile at 61. Whatever next ‘Innit’ at the end of every sentence

None of this would matter, I suppose, if it were just about one small website which, in spite of its self-aggrandising promotion, will probably not be widely seen or used.

The worrying thing is that Gransnet is probably a pretty accurate representation of what’s going on out here in this, our wider world. And, as an insight into the mindset of modern grandmotherhood, all one can say is, God help the grandkids.

Crucial role: New mums need grandmothers to provide love and support (posed by model)

Crucial role: New mums need grandmothers to provide love and support (posed by model)

In mitigation for some of my contemporaries, we are under huge pressure. You cannot open a newspaper these days without seeing some siren of stage and screen, knocking 70 but ‘looking half her age’.

We are instructed to worship at the altar of Dame Helen Mirren and her fellow goddesses of perpetual, if implausible, youth. We are persistently hard-sold every weapon in the arsenal that ‘holds back the years’.

There are more of us than ever, our disposable income is far greater than it used to be — so c’mon! Spend the kids’ inheritance: get thee off to thy Saga holiday! Or better still, take up skydiving in your 70s.

We are so thoroughly badgered into a terror of old age, that we kick against its trappings. We don’t want to knit, we cry. We don’t want to wear a grey bun. We don’t even like Werther’s Originals!

Fine. Don’t eat them then. Buy a motorbike, cut your hair in a mohican and colour it purple if you must.

But to turn our backs on every single aspect of old-fashioned, traditional grandparenting strikes me as throwing out the baby with the lavender water. It’s a loss for the baby and, goodness knows, a loss for the woman too busy with youthful little me-me-me to find time for it.

Babies might not need a rocking chair granny, but they still need an experienced hand and a gentle cuddle on a soft, squidgy knee, even if it creaks just a little more than it once did. Babies don’t need home knitting, but, when Mum is frazzled senseless with exhaustion, they do need a dependable, loving second shift.

Most of all, babies, especially as they grow older, need to know there is somebody who is not a parent but is still, unconditionally, in their corner.

One friend admits that until her children were ten she allowed nobody other than her mother to babysit because, ‘When the lions come roaring through the window, she is the only person in the world, apart from me, who I know will stand unflinchingly between them and the babies.’

To be fair, for many — indeed, I hope, most — grandmothers, that remains true.

More and more, however, we read not of the joys but of the tribulations involved in hands-on grandparenting when there is soooooo much else one could be doing. (What Pilates Leg-waxing Shopping at Boden)

One Gransnet member was typical of the ‘cool’ generation of oldies when she bleated that, in spite of the fact she doesn’t work, why should she be expected to fetch her grandson from school

Should Should Never mind the child, or even its mother; does this woman have no sense of what she is missing I tell you, here on Planet Sarler, there’s no such thing as ‘should’; here, it’s more of a ‘May I Please’

I collect my granddaughter from nursery every day. Like thousands of grandmothers, I’m lucky to be a near neighbour of my daughter and her family; I’m also lucky in that I work from home and can juggle accordingly.

But it’s not because I should; it’s because I can. Either of her parents would happily pick her up after work, if I would let them. Hah! That’ll be the day.

An hour before they are due home, I sneak along there. The look on Milly’s face when she sees me is beyond dreams: she knocks over her little pals in her scramble for the up-up-up swing into a hug.

Home we come, for our daily hour together; curled up on the sofa, completely forbidden foods in each perfect, tiny hand and ZingZillas on the television, which the nursery bans. And I love every precious moment of it.

Look, I’m as sensitive as the next woman about being taken for granted. But this is me doing the taking; me having the time of my life; me reaping the final and finest reward that being a woman has to offer.

And from where I sit, this new and achingly trendy grandmother, the one who feels she still has more to prove and better things to do (like logging on to Gransnet) is cutting off her nose to spite a very silly face indeed.

Lamb-dressed-as-mutton: She"s one of the world"s most beautiful stars… So why does Katherine Heigl dress like a middle-aged woman?

Lamb-dressed-as-mutton: She"s one of the world"s most beautiful stars… So why does Katherine Heigl dress like a middle-aged woman?

She”s one of the world”s most beautiful stars… So why does Katherine Heigl insist on dressing like a middle-aged woman

1:28 AM on 12th May 2011

Lamb-dressed-as-mutton: Katherine Heigl, pictured in LA today with husband Josh Kelley, seems to favour a rather middle-aged style for her off-duty look, often sporting a mostly grey or beige paletteLamb-dressed-as-mutton: Katherine Heigl, pictured in LA today with husband Josh Kelley, seems to favour a rather middle-aged style for her off-duty look, often sporting a mostly grey or beige palette

Lamb-dressed-as-mutton: Katherine Heigl, pictured in LA today with husband Josh Kelley, seems to favour a rather middle-aged style for her off-duty look, often sporting a mostly grey or beige palette

Katherine Heigl Katherine Heigl 080511 Katherine Heigl

Old before her time: Ms Heigl on Tuesday last week (left), on Sunday (centre) and last month (right) is just 32, but she looks like she has raided her mother”s wardrobe

Understated: The star, pictured in March at a restaurant in Los Feliz, often wears shapeless grey garments

Understated: The actress, pictured in March at a restaurant in Los Feliz, often wears shapeless grey garments

Katherine Heigl arrives for the 80th Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008Katherine Heigl attends the 44th Annual Country Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010

Making the effort: It seems the star can look fabulous when she wants to, such as on the red carpet at the Oscars in 2008 (left) and at last year”s Country Music Awards (right)

Film: THE UGLY TRUTH, starring Katherine Heigl

Screen siren: The 32-year-old looks every inch the bombshell as the star of The Ugly Truth

Zara Phillips: A thoroughly modern bride as she follows Princess Anne and poses for Country Life

Zara Phillips: A thoroughly modern bride as she follows Princess Anne and poses for Country Life

Forget girls in pearls… Zara”s a thoroughly modern bride as she follows her mother and poses for Country Life

1:28 AM on 12th May 2011

Outdoor girl: Zara poses with her labrador, Storm, for the magazine

Outdoor girl: Zara poses with her labrador, Storm, for the magazine. She is wearing a 60 microfleece from her own Musto fashion range – with the label”s name and the fabric make, Polartec, clearly on display. A 6,000 watch by Rolex – one of her sponsors – is on her wrist

Like mother like daughter: Princess Anne appeared in a 1971 edition of the magazine

Like mother like daughter: Princess Anne appeared in a 1971 edition of the magazine

Well-bred:The latest edition of Country Life, which features Zara Phillips

Well-bred: The latest edition of Country Life, which features Zara Phillips” portrait on the “posh page three”

Bar Refaeli unwraps for new lingerie campaign

Bar Refaeli unwraps for new lingerie campaign

Red hot! Model Bar Refaeli unwraps for new lingerie campaign

1:26 AM on 12th May 2011

Gift-wrapped: Bar Refaeli models for the latest Passionata campaign

Gift-wrapped: Bar Refaeli models for the latest Passionata campaign

Loyal employee: This is the third collection Bar has modelled for the French lingerie brand

Loyal employee: This is the third collection Bar has modelled for the French lingerie brand

Specs appeal: Bar works the naughty secretary lookFallen angel: The model rocks a feather boa

Specs appeal: Bar shows off her versatility – and killer curves

R

Fits like a glove: Bar was voted the sixth hottest woman in the worldGlamourista: The model is also the face of Escada

Hot stuff: The Israeli was voted sixth hottest woman in the world in a poll by Maxim magazine

Bar Refaeli Bar Refaeli

Busy bee: In between modelling, Bar has also been busy as the new face of Escada perfume

The striking similarity between Kate"s Royal wedding dress and gown worn by Berlusconi"s Princess goddaughter

The striking similarity between Kate"s Royal wedding dress and gown worn by Berlusconi"s Princess goddaughter

Mirror mirror: The striking similarity between Kate”s Royal wedding dress and gown worn by Berlusconi”s Princess goddaughter (but who is the fairest of them all)

2:24 AM on 12th May 2011

Isabella OrsiniKate, Duchess of Cambridge

Similarities: Italian-born Isabella Orsini (left) was stunned to notice the likeness between her own gown, from her wedding two years ago, and the Sarah Burton dress worn by the Duchess of Cambridge last month

Isabella OrsiniPrince William and his new wife the Duchess of Cambridge

Mirror mirror: Both women are slim, very pretty brunettes, who married into European royalty

Isabella Orsini

Making an entrance: Like Catherine, Ms Orsini had a long train on her gown by Belgian designer Gerald Watelet

Kate Middleton

Fashion statement: Catherine”s dress had a full skirt and dramatic train to match the Westminster Abbey venue

Style inspiration Grace Kelly, who became Princess Grace of Monaco when she married Ranier III in 1956

Style inspiration Grace Kelly, who became Princess Grace of Monaco when she married Ranier III in 1956

Hot flushes treatment: Cool ways to halt menopause symptoms

Hot flushes treatment: Cool ways to halt menopause symptoms

Hot flushes treatment: Cool ways to halt menopause symptoms

2:03 AM on 12th May 2011

The onset of the menopause is not a prospect any woman relishes and, this week, scientists delivered even more bad news — women are developing symptoms younger and suffering from them for longer than previously thought.

Until now, the average age for a woman to go through the menopause in Britain was 52, and in most cases the symptoms would be done and dusted within three to five years.

However, after following 400 women in their 30s and 40s for 13 years, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S. found that, for some women, the dreaded hot flushes or night sweats which often accompany the menopause can last for as long as a decade.

Ways to cool down: Scientists say hot flushes can last for a decade

Ways to cool down: Scientists say hot flushes can last for a decade

Worse, women are starting to develop them at the relatively tender age of 45.

The symptoms of the menopause, which as well as hot flushes include mood swings, difficulty sleeping, irritability and vaginal dryness, are caused by falling levels of the hormone oestrogen.

Despite being one of the most common symptoms of the menopause, affecting three in four women, the causes of hot flushes are still largely unknown.

One theory is that changes in hormone levels, especially falling levels of oestrogen, put the body’s temperature regulation system out of kilter.

Mistakenly thinking the body is overheating, it boosts blood flow to the skin, so heat is lost.

As a result, women experience intense heat, accompanied by red, blotchy skin and a racing heart for between four and ten minutes.

To combat these episodes, a doctor may prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which makes up for this short-fall in oestrogen.

However, many women have been put off this option after a string of reports linked HRT to an increased risk of health conditions such as strokes and breast cancer.

There are other options to combat menopausal symptoms.

For instance, for hot flushes, a doctor may prescribe antidepressants.

But what is out there on the High Street Here, Professor Mary Ann Lumsden, chair of the British Menopause Society and gynaecologist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, reviews a selection and we rate them out of ten.

Bionorica Menoprett is 10.25 for 30 tablets, and Arkopharma Phyto Soya High Strength Night and Day is 22.49 for 60 capsulesBionorica Menoprett is 10.25 for 30 tablets, and Arkopharma Phyto Soya High Strength Night and Day is 22.49 for 60 capsules

Bionorica Menoprett is 10.25 for 30 tablets, and Arkopharma Phyto Soya High Strength Night and Day is 22.49 for 60 capsules

10.25 for 30 tablets. Available from Boots and health stores

These one-a-day tablets contain extracts of black cohosh. This member of the buttercup family is said to help with a number of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, poor sleep, mood changes and irritability.

A Bionorica black cohosh extract was shown in a study of 62 women to reduce symptoms as effectively as HRT. It can cause side-effects such as digestive upsets and itchy skin, but those occur in less than one in 1,000 people.

Our expert says: ‘Black cohosh is the most extensively tested of all the herbal products for the menopause, but most of these studies have been small. It has been found to be effective for some women.’

Rating: 4/10

22.49 for 60 capsules. Available from Boots and chemists

These tablets are designed to be taken twice a day — one in the morning and one at night. Both contain isoflavones, plant chemicals that are thought to mimic the female hormones oestrogen.

A study of phyto soya published in the journal Menopause in 2002 found it reduced hot flushes in 60 per cent of the 75 women who took part in the study after four months.

Our expert says: ‘There is some evidence to support the effectiveness of isoflavones, but not all the studies are conclusive and some are small. Also, because these compounds behave in a similar way to the naturally-occurring hormone oestrogen, they should not be used by women who have a history of hormone-dependent cancers such as breast cancer.’

Rating: 5/10

Ladycare Magnes is 23.96 and A.Vogel Menoforce Sage Tablets are 12.80 for 30 tabletsLadycare Magnes is 23.96 and A.Vogel Menoforce Sage Tablets are 12.80 for 30 tablets

Ladycare Magnes is 23.96 and A.Vogel Menoforce Sage Tablets are 12.80 for 30 tablets

23.96. Call 0117 971 0710 or visit lady care-uk.com

This small magnet is attached to the front of the underwear, and is ideally worn all day. It is thought to have an effect on the part of the nervous system that affects heart rate and perspiration.

A study of 35 women last year who wore it found that 70 per cent of them reported an improvement in hot flushes and night sweats.

Our expert says: ‘I can’t see how this would help overcome a fall in hormone levels. If it does have any benefit, then I would think it is down to placebo effect.’

Rating: 2/10

89.99. Available from lifemax.co.uk and amazon.co.uk

This is a pad filled with a gel that delivers a cooling effect. Around the size of a small blanket (70cm by 90cm), it absorbs the heat from the body and requires no batteries or mains electricity, and can be used again and again.

Our expert says: ‘Anything that is cooling may help women having a hot flush. Normally they have to leap out of bed and have a cold shower or a drink, so this may help.

‘Some of my patients use smaller cooling aids that you keep in the fridge and wrap round your neck, and they do get some benefit from them.’

Rating: 4/10

12.80 for 30 tablets. Available from health stores and chemists

Sage has traditionally been used for the relief of menopausal hot flushes. One small study, commissioned by the manufacturer, and involving 69 women, found that taking this reduced the number of hot flushes experienced by two-thirds. Take one tablet daily.

Our expert says: ‘There is very little evidence to suggest that sage does actually work.’

Rating: 2/10

Holland and Barett

Holland and Barett”s Red Clover Blossom capsules are 13.99 for 100

13.99 for 100 capsules. Available from Holland & Barrett stores, hollandandbarrett.com or by calling 0870 606 6605

Red clover is a herb with weak oestrogen-like properties. In one study on a group of 30 women given a form of red clover sold under the name Promensil, it reduced hot flushes in 44 per cent of the women — more than in a group given a placebo.

Our expert says: ‘Some studies show this to work while others show little or no benefit.

‘However, a review of five studies including 400 women concluded that overall it had no better outcome than placebo.”

Rating: 4/10

15.31 for 60 capsules. Available from Boots, Lloyds pharmacies and selected Tesco stores

This contains evening primrose oil to help with ‘hormonal balance’ and soya, a source of isoflavones thought to mimic oestrogen. Both of these ingredients are said to help counteract hot flushes. Take one or two tablets daily.

Our expert says: ‘Evening primrose oil is taken for many hormonal complaints such as the menopause and PMT despite there being virtually no evidence that it works.

‘This does though also contain isoflavones which maybe of benefit to some – but no more than a placebo pill would be.’

Rating: 3/10

8.95 for 60 tablets. Available from naturesbest.co.uk or by calling 01892 552 094
Vitex agnus castus is a flowering plant also known as the chasteberry fruit.

It was shown to stabilise hormone levels, reduce hot flushes and lessen vaginal dryness in a German study of 100 women published in Menopause in 2009.

Our expert says: ‘One trial did show that this had some benefit, but this was quite small. It needs more research.’

Rating: 3/10

Elizabeth Jagger poses nude for Playboy like mother Jerry Hall and dad Mick approves

Elizabeth Jagger poses nude for Playboy like mother Jerry Hall and dad Mick approves

Lizzy Jagger strips off for Playboy wearing just a pair of boots and bunny ears in raunchy photoshoot

7:13 PM on 11th May 2011

In the nude: Lizzy poses completely naked save for a pair of furry bunny ears, a pair of thigh high boots and uses only her long locks to cover her modesty

In the nude: Lizzy poses completely naked save for a pair of furry bunny ears, a pair of thigh-high boots and her long locks to preserve her modesty

Bunny girl: Lizzie Jagger bares all on the cover of the June edition of Playboy magazine

Bunny girl: Lizzy Jagger in a sheer sarong on the cover of the June edition of Playboy magazine

Like mother like daughter: Lizzy with her mother Jerry Hall at the Harrods Winter Sale last year. Jerry posed for Playboy in 1985 and Lizzy has now followed in her footsteps

Like mother, like daughter: Lizzy with her mother Jerry Hall at the Harrods Winter Sale last year. Jerry posed for Playboy in 1985 and Lizzy has now followed in her footsteps

Dancing With The Stars 2011: Has US success cost Adele her voice?

Dancing With The Stars 2011: Has US success cost Adele her voice?

Has American success cost Adele her voice… or is it just the cigarettes Singer can”t hit high notes on Dancing With The Stars

11:31 AM on 11th May 2011

She”s currently No.1 in the American charts with her new album 21 having managed the impressive feat of cracking the U.S. market.

But last night British singer Adele was forced to cancel one of her planned performances on Dancing With The Stars because, as she put it, her voice was “knackered”.

The 23-year-old star, who was pictured out in Beverly Hills the night before, did sing her track Rolling In The Deep.

Losing her voice: Adele performed on Dancing With The Stars last night, but was forced to cancel a second planned song because she couldn

Losing her voice: Adele performed on Dancing With The Stars last night, but was forced to cancel a second planned song because she couldn”t hit the high notes

Under the weather: She explained to host Tom Bergeron that she needed to save her voice and that Delta Goodrem would sing the cover of Natural Woman instead

Under the weather: She explained to host Tom Bergeron that she needed to save her voice and that Delta Goodrem would sing the cover of Natural Woman instead

Adele in Beverly Hills on Monday night with a packet of cigarettes in hand

Adele in Beverly Hills on Monday night with a packet of cigarettes in hand

But fellow guest Delta Goodrem was drafted in at the last minute to perform a cover of the Carole King hit Natural Woman instead.

No doubt Adele”s smoking habit would not have helped matters.

The London-born star explained to host Tom Bergeron that she was struggling to hit the high notes on the song, so would only be performing one track.

She said: “I was going to be covering Natural Woman but my voice is going a bit, its knackered and I need to save it.

“Delta Goodrem has stepped in with an hours notice, so thanks very much. I am gutted,” she added, amusing Bergeron with her very British vocabulary.

Deltathen sang the legendary song with just an hour of rehearsal, after earlier singing a duet of the song I”m Not Ready with former DWTS contestant Michael Bolton.

Last night”s results show saw actor Romeo, 22, given the boot.

Riding high: The British singer is currently No.1 in the American charts with her album 21

Riding high: The British singer is currently No.1 in the American charts with her album 21

Date for the night: Adele was joined by RnB star Tinie Tempah as they headed to sushi restaurant Katsuya on Monday in Beverly Hills

Date for the night: Adele was joined by RnB star Tinie Tempah as they headed to sushi restaurant Katsuya on Monday in Beverly Hills

Karate Kid star Ralph Macchio managed to survive another week, though, despite limping through Monday”s performances due to a leg injury.

He will now join NFL star Hines Ward and partner Kym Johnson as well as actress Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

Rounding out the final four of the hit dancing competition are the team of Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas.

To the rescue: Fellow performer Delta covered the Carole King track instead

To the rescue: Fellow performer Delta covered the Carole King track instead

True professional: The Australian singer only had an hour to rehearse after being drafted in at the last minute

True professional: The Australian singer only had an hour to rehearse after being drafted in at the last minute

Friends: Delta Goodrem posted up this picture of herself and Adele on her Twitter backstage after their performance

Friends: Delta Goodrem posted up this picture of herself and Adele on her Twitter backstage after their performance