SOCIAL MEDIA HOTSPOTS: Where to Create Content in Wakefield

We’re often in search of that instagrammable ‘door’ because when you’re always snapping social media content, you tend to look for hotpots.

We headed to The Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield which has a whole social media trail…

An international artist’s angel wings spray painted on the walls of The Riding’s Shopping Centre is where our instagram tour of The Ridings Shopping Centre begins.

Artist Collette Miller reminds us :“We are angels of this earth” in her stunning wings modestly homed near Greggs bakery. As you enter The Ridings you can grab a perfect insta and eco-friendly outfit from the glamorous Wakefield Hospice Shop which is more of a boutique and a far cry away from the norm ‘rummage style’ charity shop.

You can then grab a bargain for your home ‘back drop’ from TK Maxx or even some unique ethical skincare products or plant-based snack to fuel your visit, plus you’re right by the instagrammable tree bar. If you’re then lucky enough to stumble on to one of the regular markets held inside The Ridings, you can grab a stunning house plant which is on trend at the moment.

That’s not forgetting just a few more steps away you’ve already hit your pit stops at Grind Cafes who serve awesome hot drinks, snacks and instagrammable milkshakes (I’m talking Oreo cookies!). Right by MADE in Yorkshire shop and the famous arm chairs in the food court “Yorkshire King” or “Queen”.

Next up is Wakefield Antiques Centre which was a delight for my Tiktoking kids not to mention buying a vintage bargain for the home or grabbing that perfect social media snap prop or you can discover an independent design and furniture at Created in Yorkshire. As well as some eco-living cleaning products.

Then onto Boots to grab the latest beauty or haircare trend or if it sweet treats are you’re thing you can’t miss the ‘candy’ and Haribo (from nearby in Pontefract where the HQ is based) from Reel Cinema as well as the cute seats. And if you’re with little ones, get a snap of them in the toy cars which act as trolleys for your shopping haul bags. Before heading down to one of the Art House’s many creative spaces – so not only are you getting a unique snap but you’re supporting local talent too.

⁃ Don’t forget to capture some music and talent on the community space where The Ridings is literally written on the floor before heading down to the lower ground…

⁃ There, you can use the Little Free Library as a phone box back drop or promote book swapping… or both.

⁃ Before shooting a colourful snap in The Yard which is made up of awesome art work from Wakefield College students.

⁃ Here, you could even have a respite with a game of table tennis or table football.

⁃ If you need the toilet, take a selfie in the mirrors where there’s great lighting around the mirrors!

⁃ Our Sparkle Studio Content Creators HQ is down here too. Here, you can book a slot at our studio to create content, blogs, vlogs, co-work or use our instagram wall and podcasting suite.

⁃ You could even get your logo or favourite photo or quote printed at the T shirt shop nearby as you leave The Yard area.

⁃ Before heading onto Superdrug for more beauty supplies.

⁃ You can get your brows and lashes done just outside in the centre of the mall.

⁃ Don’t forget nails too as there’s a nice nail salon opposite Card Factory.

⁃ Then grab a novelty gift or prop for the home and a pic from CardFactory who are also based locally, before heading back up to Poundland for a positive affirmation pad or journal.

⁃ We then purchase some heels from Shoezone to match our new charity shop find outfit from the Hospice shop previously.

⁃ Or if you’re in need of some more vintage outfit inspo head to Morgana for your perfect rock chick look or a fitted vintage dress.

⁃ As well as a gorgeous scent to boot from The Perfume Shop or Bodycare opposite (that’s not forgetting the Body care recycled plastic vases in the car park upstairs).

⁃ It’s time to fuel up again this time grab a bite to take home from Arrow Fresh – From the instagrammable Doh Boy donuts to delicious fudge and cake slabs of deliciousness, all from local suppliers.

⁃ You could create your own home platter with a cake ‘prop’ treats from Cake Box too which is also a central unit.

⁃ Don’t forget to grab a blinging phone case along the way before doing that ‘shopping haul’ vlog inside Primark.

⁃ There’s plenty of flowers and benches too if you’re shopping til your dropping or want a flower filled photo en route throughout the shopping centre.

⁃ Then it’s on to our final pit-stop at Ruby Lou’s who are always up for participating in a Tiktok or two. Make sure you also grab yourself one of their delicious home-made Belgian waffles and ice cream which is great for the ‘grid’ too and supports a family run business.

⁃ Then you’re back up to the Angel Wings.

⁃ Even if/where you park your car, there’s an instagrammable flower wall made up of plastic vases from Bodycare’s recycling.

⁃ If it’s open too, the mini rooftop allotment by Grow Wakefield is a perfect vlog spot when the weather is ok.

⁃ Plus from up here you can get a birds eye view of the City Centre.

Which ever way you enter The Ridings and follow your route around, there’s plenty of opportunities for that picture perfect pic.

Where do you love going for your social media snaps? We love all the insta opportunities @ridingscentre…Here’s just a few of our best… from Creative Spaces to Collette Miller’s Angel Wings and an array of shops. #instafriendly #instagramhotspots

By Sophie Mei Lan /

Floatation therapy: The new wellbeing workout for Mind and Body 

As I pulled down the lid of the floatation tank, I nervously immersed myself into my first Floatation Therapy ‘wellbeing treatment.’ 

Floatation therapy can help our bodies to heal from working out or the aches and pains of being hunched all day. It can help with losing body fat, athletic recovery and most of all reduce stress and feelings of anxiety or ‘overwhelm.’ 

Our mind impacts how we hold our body and vice versa which is why I am an advocate for holistic health therapies which are far from ‘airy-fairy,’ they are a super-charged way of slowly transforming us. 

“You’ve got to be right in your head before you sort the rest out,” explained Float Space owner Pete Sullivan.  

That said like many my mind tends to work much more like that of an energetic whirlwind than a Float Space experience. 

But that’s something wellbeing-convert Pete understands as he previously pedalled the lonely role of an “overweight” freelance graphic designer. 

His personal transformation began with working on his mindset.

Pete replaced the stressful stimuli of eating at a seldom-screen with a healthier lifestyle finding much of his influence of thought from UFC commentator Joe Rogan’s popular podcasts.

As they say in many Eastern philosophies that ‘we are what we consume’ which is not just ‘we are what we eat.’ We become what we listen to, see, think, eat and any sensory input we regularly consume. 

It was in this motivational podcast that Pete discovered float therapy aka Reduced Environmental Stimulus Therapy, which has unlocked him into the world of wellbeing, “I tried floating purely from a mindset angle, yet soon discovered there was so much more I was getting out of my sessions that I decided to delve deeper.” He has found through floating, breathwork and working on his mind, that he was able to transform his life, career and lose the “excess” he carried both in his body and his cluttered brain. 

 “I now fast intermittently, eat two meals a day and only between 12pm and 8pm,” explained Pete who like many has previously always felt “forced into losing weight,” but is now much happier and healthier as the huge benefits he discovered from floatation therapy prompted him to share this treatment which had transformed him. 

What is Floatation Therapy? 

It’s a water-based therapy where you are in an enclosed tank for an hour of treatment. 

The tank contains water that is as saturated as it can be with Epsom salts and is around body temperature, very much like being in the Dead Sea. 

As your mind and body float, it is beneficial to try and focus on breathing and mindfulness whilst doing it. But the setting, ambience (music at the start and end and optional coloured lights) and water help to alleviate tension all over so that we relax and our brain reaches the Theta state. 

Our brain waves; Alpha, Theta and Beta: 

  • Alpha: The ‘power of now’ consciousness 
  • Theta: Sleep and deep meditation 
  • Beta: Our awake brain wave 
  • Gamma: Our fastest brain wave 

There are many benefits of floatation therapy however, such as: 

  • Helps increase athletic or injury-based recovery.
  • Lowers chemicals associated with stress.
  • Helps lower anxiety, effectively turning off the fight or flight response.
  • It can help combat chronic pain especially for those with back problems, arthritis and Fibromyalgia.
  • Improves sleep and sleep patterns by lowering stress and adrenaline levels and increasing serotonin production.
  • Improved Creativity, Visualisation, Meditation and Mindfulness.
  • Floatation as a technique or therapy has been around since the 1950’s and has been used by many well-known celebrities to help with anxiety, depression, athletic performance and creativity.

My first Floatation Float Space experience: Review 

Whilst it’s lovely being able to float at night so you can go to bed after, for a lot of us that may or may not work. So, I had visited Float Space in Doncaster during school hours. 

This new wellbeing hub is a tranquil hidden gem off the hustle and bustle of the main road. 

Whilst sitting in the waiting area, reading some of Pete’s favourite books about the healing properties of fungi and breathwork, I opted for a green tea over a tempting coffee so that I could follow the aqua coloured flow of this newly constructed business. 

Once in the locked room, after careful instruction previously from Pete, I opted for the ‘full experience’ of entering the tank without any clothes on (although swimwear can be worn if that makes you feel more comfortable). And I even closed the tank and turned off the lights once the relaxing music had finished. 

Far from feeling claustrophobic as I had feared, I felt weirdly at ease. Initially it was challenging to simply ‘close off’ my mind but as any good Yoga convert knows, start with the breath, the ‘pranayama.’ 

Palms open as my body floated in the water I focused on my Yogic diaphragmatic breathing techniques from belly to neck and inhale through the nose and then a slow nasal exhale and a release using the same technique. 

I wasn’t sure how I would fair for 55 minutes in the dark and in silence before the ending music turned on. This was definitely a workout for my Gamma brainwave state which normally spends these hours blasting in as much work as possible before I pick up the kids. 

The time literally sailed by. It took several times to keep focusing on conscience breathing before my Theta State truly kicked in. 

You can even have a nap. Depending on what you need, you’ll feel. 

Meditation is a conscious sleep so to speak, which is the power of Yoga Kriya. 

After initially stepping into the tank with trepidation, I then didn’t want to leave the tank when the ending music chimed in to rouse me back into the physical world. 

But school run and family duties called so I quickly grabbed a shower, unsure of how I was going from this tranquil flow state and back to reality. 

I felt calmer all evening despite the odd ‘trigger’ of standard family bickering. But I ate slower, I felt calm yet energised and wondered if it would impact my sleep as Pete had alluded to. 

But as soon as I made my way into bed, I normally spend a few hours writing or studying and struggling to sleep. I felt myself just need to close my eyes. I didn’t wake until the next day. I felt amazing albeit with some stray salt clinging to my ears. This for me was one of the most powerful of the benefits I felt from just one treatment. 

It’s recommended to go at least once a month for a ‘float,’ and it’s not expensive either and great value for what you get. It costs £35 per person for an hour float although I’d give yourself a couple of hours so you can wind down, shower after floating and prepare yourself to return to the ‘real world.’ 

If you have a busy mind like me and struggle to ‘switch off,’ I challenge you to treat yourself to an hour’s float and let me know what benefits you discover. 

It’s not hard to see why it is already frequented by teams of sportspeople, wellbeing pros and everyday cluttered minded people. 

Go to Float.Space and follow this awesome volcano family business that has the potential to boom nationwide @UKFloatSpace

The Cat and the Canary – escape the screen for a comedic Agatha Christie thriller – Review

  • There’s nothing we love more than a break from working at the screen to elope to a night at the theatre.
  • Have you heard of the Cat and Canary… a lovely murder mystery for older generations of our Yorkshire Family at Leeds Grand Theatre in this light-hearted take on this crime thriller. 

Building on the phenomenal decade-long success of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, Bill Kenwright’s Classic Thriller Theatre Companypresents their latest chilling whodunit comedy thriller The Cat And The Canary, at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 23 to Saturday 27 November 2021.

This new adaptation of the murder mystery by John Willard, which inspired three classic movie versions, features an all-star cast including international superstar Britt Ekland (The Man with the Golden GunThe Wicker Man), pop sensation Anthony CostaTracy Shaw (Coronation Street), Marti Webb (EvitaTell Me on a Sunday), Gary Webster (Minder), Ben Nealon (Soldier Soldier) and Eric Carte (Bouquet of Barbed Wire).

Premise: Twenty years after the death of Mr. West, his descendants gather to learn who will inherit his vast wealth and the hidden family jewels. Within moments, the heritage hunters turn into prey. Walls crack open, shadows loom, and dark secrets are revealed.

Who is The Cat? His movements soundless, unnoticeable, and his vengeance swift! Who will feel his horrible grasp next?

The Cat and the Canary is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 23 to Saturday 27 November 2021

Book online at or call 0113 243 0808


Returning to the production is silver screen and Bond-girl legend Britt Ekland, whose numerous films include The Man with The Golden Gun with Roger Moore, The Wicker Man with Christopher Lee, and Get Carter with Michael Caine.

Britt stars alongside singer-songwriter, actor and former member of the internationally successful 00’s boy band Blue, Antony Costa, and Tracy Shaw, best known for her long-running role as Maxine Peacock in Coronation Street. They are joined by West End leading lady Marti Webb, whose credits include Evita and Tell Me on A SundayGary Webster, who played Gary Costello in Family Affairs and Ray Daley opposite George Cole in ITV’s MinderClassic Thriller Theatre Company veteran Ben Nealon, who played Lt. Forsythe in the drama series Soldier Soldier, and Eric Carte, who played Geoff Roberts in two series of Bouquet of Barbed Wire. The cast is completed by Priyasasha Kumari, Martin Carroll, Jack Taylor and Clara Darcy.


The Cat and The Canary is director Roy Marsden’s fifth Classic Thriller Theatre Company production. Other credits include the West End premieres of Agatha Christie’s A Daughter’s a Daughter at the Trafalgar Studios and Noël Coward’s Volcano at the Vaudeville Theatre. As an actor, he is well-known to television audiences as Inspector Dalgliesh in the long-running P.D. James series.

Adaptor Carl Grose was, until recently, co-artistic director of Kneehigh Theatre. His numerous plays and adaptations include book and lyrics for The Grinning Man, which Tom Morris directed at the Trafalgar Studios in 2017. Designer takis’s diverse international credits include In the HeightsGifford’s Circus and the Royal Opera. Lighting Designer Chris Davey’s work includes Witness for the Prosecution at London’s County Hall and Touching the Void at the Duke of York’s Theatre. Dan Samson is resident Sound Designer for The Classic Thriller Theatre Company. West End credits include Heathers at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and Evita at the Dominion Theatre.

Leeds Heritage Theatres

Leeds Heritage Theatres is Leeds Grand Theatre, City Varieties Music Hall and Hyde Park Picture House. A charitable trust, together we are united by a single cause; to bring people together, create the extraordinary and provide a positive environment in which to entertain and educate.

Leeds Grand Theatre

Built in 1878 by architect George Corson, Leeds Grand Theatre is a major milestone in Victorian design; famed for its sumptuous interior, plasterwork and other decorative features.

Seating 1466 at full capacity, the auditorium provides a home for performances of all types, including its resident companies Opera North and Northern Ballet. Since its Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council supported ‘transformation’ in 2006, the theatre has hosted the best of the West End and other touring productions, including large musicals, drama from the National Theatre, comedians and music. The theatre played host to the world premieres of Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s, The Girls (2015), and Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends The Musical (2017) and Band of Gold (2019).


Our learning and engagement programme – including our Youth Theatre, curriculum-linked schools’ workshops and training provision of placements and apprenticeships – enables young people from across the city to access the arts, be creative, build confidence and develop skills using the rich resources of our heritage venues.


Insta/Twitter: @leedsgrandls1

Facebook: @leedsgrandtheatre


LEEDS MODEL’S MISSION IS TO HELP OTHER DISABLED MODELS… Here is her start-up to success story which inspires us all to innovate and create a soulful business.

  • A young model who has twice been diagnosed with Cancer is championing other disabled models to get into the industry.
  • Leeds’ Amber Manning, 24, has set up her own business to help other alternative models gain coverage and acquire an agent.
  • “I can’t physically model a lot of times so it gives me pleasure to introduce others who dream of some of the opportunities I have had.” 

The long NHS waiting list may be familiar to many at the moment, but for one young Leeds woman in remission from cervical cancer, these waits have become excruciatingly familiar after Melanoma treatment in her teens. 

Rather than wait for a letter to drop through her doorstep deciding her fate,  Amber Manning, 24, has focused her energy on helping others. 

Amber who was born in Armley and lives in Horsforth, had started making her way up the modelling industry before being diagnosed. 

She said: “If I thought about my brain tumour, moles and deteriorating health conditions, it would all feel too much. 

“I was working as a model which I still do on the days I am well enough but often I am all too weak to even walk. 

“So I choose to use my mental energy to help other models with disabilities and diverse backgrounds break into the industry.” 

Amber was ‘exploited,’ in the industry when starting out as a model empathises how hard it is to navigate this murky world. 

“Not only is there not a lot of obvious opportunities for alternative models, but you can end up in challenging situations as people exploit your vulnerability.” 

Why wait to create?

The 24-year-old who has previously been featured in magazines set up her own business during Lockdown acting as the link between new models and modelling agencies and publications.

“I literally buzz off seeing someone else’s success. I have not even decided on a name yet but have nearly 30 models in my group. 

“I was jumping around the house yesterday as one model has been featured in 9 publications. It gives me so much joy to use this agonising waiting game to be focused on the future for the talented men and women I represent.” 

Amber who dreams of appearing in Vogue is determined to pursue her business alongside her own career as a model. 

“I can’t physically model a lot of times so it gives me pleasure to introduce others who dream of some of the opportunities I have had.” 

You can find out more about Amber @laura_h_wilkinsonxx And get in touch with her by calling: 07958359133

BUSINESS STORIES BLOSSOM FROM ADVERSITY: A Kaleidoscope of hope amongst our diverse communities 

From the stallholders showcasing their ethical Lockdown-made products to the woman in remission from Cancer setting up a model agency whilst waiting for treatment, there are so many stories of optimism amongst our communities.

With the cold dark nights closing in and only the full moon offering some light, it’s easy to feel gloomy in business and life.  

Our founder Sophie Mei Lan writes…

If you’re on the long NHS waiting list for surgery as many of us are, time may feel even slower at the moment at home and at work (or the hybrid life as I live) as you live by the next posted letter, only to see it’s your energy bill going up instead. But the more I am getting out of the house and meeting humble humans, I can’t help but feel hopeful as there are so many people striding ahead despite hurdles in recent times. People such as 24-year-old Amber Manning who I recently chatted to, inspire me to follow my belief that patience is a virtue, giving us space to create. Rather than ‘wait’ and trundle on, Leeds model Amber has used her time in remission from Cervical Cancer to set up an agency to help other “disabled” and alternative models. And with the opportunity the online world offers to start a business with little investment other than passion, Amber said that while she struggles to attend photo shoots these days due to her health, she wanted to give others this opportunity to thrive. 

“I literally get a buzz off seeing others do well, I literally get energy from some of my models doing so well.”

She said: “If I thought about my brain tumour, moles, and deteriorating health conditions, it would all feel too much.” Instead, she chooses to use her time in the waiting rooms and ‘on hold,’ to go on Instagram and link up other local models who are in need of a boost.” 

One of Amber Manning’s alternative models 

It is these transformational stories of Yorkshire folk which keep prompting me to smile and enjoy this ride. 

Even last week alone I’ve been working with other business owners as part of a School of Social Entrepreneurs programme designed to elevate each other as well as chatting to the many ethical businesses I met at The Ridings’ Vegan Fair many of whom had blossomed from adversity. 

“I gave up art when my mental health deteriorated,” explained one stallholder but then when I started drawing again, this was key to my recovery,” said Lucy Kenyon the artist chatting to me whilst displaying her captivating hand drawings which she had freely created to help ease her mental turmoil during isolation. 

It is this kaleidoscope of colours that make up the patterns to weave so many of our fragmented communities together. 

I finished my week floating high at FloatSpace where I discovered another gem of a human, behind the start-up company that treated me to my first flotation therapy treatment. The owner had combatted his own demons thanks to the power of such floatation tanks where you’re immersed in soothing salty water as you relax into the dark silence of the next hour’s therapy. 

A perfect metaphor for my creative freelancing spirit who normally fears the dark cold nights and wants to hibernate. 

The more people I meet online and in person, the more I am stumbling across this abundance of light and hope who opt to share their own journeys to wellbeing. Those who have a soulful desire to help others. Read more from Sophie at /

Photo By Gary Kenyon

Artist Lucy Kenyon and our columnist Sophie Mei Lan 

9 ways to run an eco-friendly business: Top tips for your business #COP2021

With more millennials looking for purpose-based activities over the ‘new accessory’ – not only can becoming carbon-neutral help the planet but also your business too.

After all, we all love businesses with shared values and it can really help foster relationships locally and internationally (if you work online) as we offer a hybrid model to clients. 

Obviously, a lot of businesses are digital-first nowadays and it can seem easier for solely digital businesses to track their footprints and reduce them too. But there are a number of ways all businesses can try and reduce their carbon footprint, such as going paperless, walk-to-work initiatives, signing up to carbon-neutral sites and, making pledges to offset their footprint e.g. planting a tree. 

Whilst the digital world can still be harmful to the environment it doesn’t equate to the save on the planet that ‘going digital’ offers. 

9 ways to run an eco-friendly carbon-neutral company: 

– Human-generated energy: Some gyms for example are cycling to better health for themselves and the planet. There are a number of machines to help you run your gym effectively and even use human power – a renewable and clean energy source.

Energym, for example, has developed retro-fitted devices that convert existing gym equipment into clean energy generators.

– Ban single-use plastics 

– Paperless admin: go digital where possible 

– Encourage recycling or digital correspondence 

– Save on electricity and gas where possible and reduce your own bills too 

– Charity challenges to help with environmental charities 

– Incentivise healthy eating, moving, and living with challenges 

– Reduce travel: From carpooling to walking or using public transport where possible  

– Encourage team building activities outdoors and maybe even ones that help the local area or even a clothes swap 

Evaluating our systems, processes, and travel costs to the planet will not only save us money but help change our impact on the planet.

Read the full blog on or go to Sparkle Up North (Featured Stories)

Enriching your everyday life with essential oils

By Kim Brookes, founder of Perfino

Religious practitioners have deployed essential oils for centuries for their aesthetic and mystical appeal, and the wealthy and powerful have always sought out the most precious oils for personal pleasure and appeal. In recent years essential oils have really come into their own as people have begun to appreciate the difference they can make to their physical and mental enjoyment of life. 

The scent of pure essential oils is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and one that is now available in abundance with a huge variety of room diffusers, humidifiers, and oil infused candles. 

Of course, everyone has personal likes, dislikes, and associations. I’m not a huge fan of Jasmine as it is rather cloying and overly sweet to my nose, but there are plenty who love it. On the other hand, I adore the scent of Rose, one of the most precious and expensive of oils as you need so very many petals, hand-picked at the break of dawn, to produce a really good Rose absolute.

There are some excellent suppliers and distributors of essential oils, and I would only ever buy from these. Not just because I want to be sure I am getting a top quality, pure oil, but also because I need to be sure that it is sustainably sourced. 

Many of the raw materials from which oils are derived, such as Sandalwood and Rosewood, are now grown under protected conditions and will require CITES (the Convention on international Trade in Endangered Species) certification. Some, although not protected by CITES, are still vulnerable to over exploitation, as is the case with Frankincense. Reputable sellers will provide all necessary certification alongside a wealth of information on purity, source, animal testing, vegan credentials, technical documentation, and a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), so my advice is to buy wisely.

Blended essential oils elevate the scent of individual oils to another level entirely. Just as with cooking and most artistic endeavours, it takes many hours, years in fact, to get a good grasp on how oils blend together to produce the most compelling fragrance. If you get it wrong it can cost you dearly with the most precious oils retailing at over £60 for 10ml, making a single drop worth around 30p. Over time you will learn that some oils are very gentle, and some are bullies, some work well together and bring out the best in a blend, whereas others can turn a lovely smell into an atrocious odour. So, either enjoy the journey, if you have the time and inclination, or defer to the experts.

Be warned of what is in the blended mix if you, like me, only want to be experiencing the scent of natural products, as so many “flavours” are now available which are not extracted from nature. It is not possible, for example to extract a natural essential oil from Lily of the Valley, or Lilac, or indeed Apple. If these ingredients are in the mix they will have been produced synthetically, in a laboratory, by the experts in fragrance chemistry.

My favourite suppliers, which can be relied on for top quality pure and natural essential oils, are Oshadhi and Makers Ingredients.

Here are a few of the ways that you could use essential oils in your daily life to make a positive difference.

Beauty and wellbeing 

Beauty and wellbeing applications abound when essential oils are diluted with a carrier oil such as Almond and Jojoba, enabling them to then be applied to the skin as massage oils, cleansers, exfoliators, rubs and so on. These products are heavily regulated for a very good reason as pure essential oils can be incredibly strong and may harm you if put directly onto the skin. This is particularly the case with certain citrus oils which are highly active, with astringent properties and photosensitivity that activates under direct sunlight and can cause chemical burns.

This is where experts have an important role to play in providing a variety of naturally derived products that have gone through a very detailed process of Cosmetic Compliance and Safety Assessment. This is achieved with reference to The IFRA (International Fragrance Association) standards for the safe use of fragrance ingredients, such as essential oils. 

As a side note, it must be said, however, that it is practically impossible to determine the effects of multiple ingredients as they mix together on the very personal chemistry of your skin. Many people are intolerant of or allergic to on skin applications, so my advice is to proceed with caution, and again trust the source. My favourite here is Aesop, a brand with true eco credentials and a BCorp to boot.

Off skin applications

If you want the enjoyment of the fragrance of essential oils without putting anything on your skin, then try Perfino natural scent jewellery, created specifically so you can wear, and enjoy some expertly blended pure essential oils without having to put any chemicals on your skin at all. This is uniquely achieved by a single drop of oil on a porous lava stone which sits inside the jewellery, giving you aromatic pleasure all day long with none of the possible pitfalls.


Aromatherapy or the therapeutic use of oils, has really grown its audience in the last decade as increasing scientific evidence supports the use of oils, often in ways that have been used and studied empirically for centuries. 

Neals Yard, which started in business 40 years ago and continues to sell from its shop in the Covent Garden area of London, has for years provided treatments using their oils supported by great credentials and a wealth of expertise. Here you can enjoy essential oils for their scent and therapeutic benefits in the context of facials, massage, reflexology and so much more, with purported benefits of increasing focus, relaxing muscles, or easing headaches.

Niche expertise and know how has further developed over the last few decades catering for the use of aromatherapy and essential oils for very specific purposes. Anatome produces signature sleep blends as well as a range of oils to support immunity, heart health, and mental wellbeing, and they all smell great.

CBD oil has also filtered into this specialist arena in recent years. Again, charlatans and false claims abound so make sure you do your research before you believe the headlines. I have found a lot of useful information from LabAroma with expert direction thanks to the very well-informed Colleen Quinn.

In the home

Cleaning and even disinfecting done with the less expensive oils, particularly the citrus oils, and especially lemon can be effective. A small drop of lemon oil in the dishwasher makes for a clean machine and a wonderful smell in the kitchen, and then there is the loo…

Fabric refreshment can be achieved with the tiniest drop of Lavender or your favourite essential oil. This is far more natural and minimal in terms of packaging than some of the products on the market which are 100% synthetic and come in large plastic containers.

And finally, spiders! There are certain insects, particularly spiders, that really don’t like peppermint. So, if you would like to control who, or what, comes into your home, and like the smell of peppermint, you can put this around your windowsills and conduct your own little experiment. This is also great for ladybirds who do so like to come into the house when we would rather they were eating the aphids on the roses.


Kim Brookes is the founder of Perfino, an innovative natural scent jewellery brand. Perfino combines expertly blended, 100% natural, pure essential oils with exquisite jewellery so you can wear scent all day long without any chemicals touching your skin. The solid recycled silver and 18ct gold vermeil, artisan designed pendant comes with six lava stones and 10ml of carefully blended natural essential oils – all sourced from sustainable growers. One drop of oil on the stone in the pendant will give you a delicate fragrance that can last for days. 


Twitter: @Perfino2 


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5 Great Ways to Cope with Change

by Sid Madge of Meeeee

Change is like love, it’s all around. Life moves and evolves and sometimes those changes are tough and sometimes they are welcome. No one knows what’s around the corner, but here are five simple ways to cope with change, in just a few minutes a day.  

1. The Natural Health Service

We’ve all been in awe of the National Health Service through the pandemic but the Natural Health Service is also worth shouting about. Change, even positive change or change that we are excited about, can cause disruption and elevated stress. Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone and too much of it can cause havoc to our health and mental wellbeing. Cortisol also creates negative feedback loops which means that the more cortisol we create in the body the worse we feel which in turn creates even more cortisol in a downward spiral. 

It’s so important to break that downward spiral as quickly as possible and one great way is to get near nature – a park will do. Pay attention to the sounds and smells and simply enjoy some quiet time and the fresh air. As autumn is with us, one thing I love doing, especially with my children, is trying (and succeeding) to catch a falling leaf. It’s also a great game and it looks very silly to anyone watching. The bigger leaves like sycamore and horse chestnut are far easier to catch as they’re bigger, But there’s great kudos if you catch a smaller one like an oak leaf. You might even create a game with points awarded for the how many you catch and how hard they are based on their size. Being outside in or around nature has restorative powers that allow us to get back on an even keel, so we can more forward constructively with the change.

Instead of sitting inside to eat your lunch, why not go to a local park with some work friends and enjoy lunch al fresco. If possible, add in a little walk too. Just breathe and listen to the sights and sounds of nature.

2. Make a move 

Another great way to disperse cortisol in your system is to move and get physically active. You don’t need to go overboard – no need to pound the pavement at 5am. Just move your body. Put on a favourite song and dance around your living room—like no one is watching—for a few minutes.  

Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy demonstrated that changing what your body is doing for as little as two minutes can massively reduce cortisol levels. In her study she had half the volunteers engage in a ‘high power pose’ for two minutes and the other half engage in ‘low power poses’ for the same time. Neither group was told what they were doing. High power poses are anything that increases the physical space we take up with our body. The classic one is the superman pose. Stand up strong, with your legs hip distance apart, hands on your hips as though you’ve just landed to save the world!  Low power poses are the opposite and take up less space so these include being hunched over looking at your phone. What Cuddy found was that using baseline levels for testosterone (confidence hormone) and cortisol (stress hormone) before and after the experiment, those who did high power poses experienced a 20 percent increase in the confidence hormone (testosterone) and a 25 percent reduction in the stress hormone (cortisol). Those doing the low power poses for just two minutes experienced a 10 percent reduction in the confidence hormone and a 15 percent increase in the stress hormone. 

Next time you need a hit of confidence during the change process, go to the bathroom and engage in two minutes of superman pose. You may feel like a complete idiot, but it will do wonders for your health and wellbeing. Start each day with a family superman pose before leaving the house!  Think of yourselves as The Incredibles! 

3. Celebrate Failure 

Change requires us to do, think or be different in some way. This often means mistakes, failures and slip ups along the way. It’s rare that we move seamlessly from one position to the other without some stumbles. Learning to ride a bike is a change—change from walking to a new form of transport—and learning to ride a bike doesn’t just happen miraculously, like the flick of a switch. It’s a journey of anxiety, questionable balance and a few scrapes. Everyone fails their way to riding a bike.

We all know this and yet when we become adults, we dread failure. It is seen as a weakness or something that must be hidden or fudged. And that is rubbish!  Failure is the only way to succeed at anything, including successful change. This is known as having a growth mindset – the idea that everything is possible and we can get better at anything if we stick with it and persevere.  

Next time you have to make some changes recognise that A to B is never linear. There will be days that you stuff up. Times when you feel that you are taking three steps forward and two steps back. That’s OK. Just keep going.  Take a minute to think about how many times you have embarked on change and created unrealistically high expectations for yourself. Stop expecting immediate perfection and instead settle for consistent effort. 

4. Positive Habits 

What do you love? What makes you happy? Is it meeting up with friends, listening to really loud music or singing at the top of your lungs in the car on the way to work? Do you love taking some time out and reading a good thriller? Or do you just enjoying some family time at the end of a challenging week? Whatever it is, do more of it. 

Change can be disconcerting. It can feel like your whole life is being shaken, so deliberately hang on to the positive habits that already make you feel happy and safe. If you don’t have any of those, make them. Take a minute to think back to a time in your life when you felt especially peaceful or happy. What exactly were you doing? Have you stopped doing that?  If so, why?  

Another great habit to get into is appreciation. In the shower in the morning or on your daily commute, take a few minutes to think about the three things that you are most grateful for in your life. Relish those things in the midst of change. 

5. Take care of the basics

If you want to emerge from change fighting fit and raring to go then you need to take care of the basics. That means eating healthy food, getting enough micro-nutrients, enough sleep and drinking plenty of water. 

That doesn’t mean that you can’t have take-outs or go out for a few drinks – just take care of the basics most of the time. Getting enough rest is also crucial. To help with sleep make sure you don’t have a TV in your bedroom and no checking Facebook or TikTok before bed. Ideally don’t have your phone in your bedroom. Get an alarm clock and charge your phone in the kitchen. Trust me – the world will not tilt on its axis if you are not within touching distance of your phone for a few hours. 

Make eating well easy for yourself. Take a few minutes to plan your meals for the week and make sure there is plenty fresh fruit and vegetables in the house. Also consider a social media detox for a day or so. You might be surprised at how much better you feel.   


Sid Madge is the founder of Meee which draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of psychology, neuroscience, branding, education and sociology, to help people achieve extraordinary lives. To date, Meee has transformed the lives of over 20,000 people, from leaders of SMEs to PLCs, to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates.

Sid Madge is also author of the ‘Meee in a Minute’ series of books, which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work or family life in 60 seconds.








Are you fulfilling your destiny? 

By Anne Jones, spiritual healer and co-creator of ‘Artaban The Musical’

Are you feeling blocked and frustrated by duty and responsibility? Are you doing what you planned to do with your life? Are you on the right track? Do you feel blocked and can’t move forward? 

You may have a clear knowing of what you want to do but you cannot achieve it because life keeps getting in the way. You may feel there is a book you need to write, a cause you want to fight for, or you may have an urge to travel and open up your life. Whatever it is, somehow you never quite get to it. So how do you shift the balance and follow your life’s purpose without getting derailed? 

To connect to your Higher Consciousness – your Higher Self

Your plan for this lifetime is stored in your unique spiritual essence which we call The Higher Self. At times of stress or emotional turmoil your focus will be on your troubles and not on your spiritual essence. You may become disconnected or not hear clearly, like using a bad telephone line. 

Here are a few tips to help you raise your vibrations and lift your spirit to enable a full and clear connection: 

  • Immerse yourself in nature. You can also use walks by the sea, in parks or in the countryside, wild swimming, gardening or any activity that suits you as nature holds the high vibration energies that will raise your spirit.  
  • Listen to or play music or sing
  • Dance or practise yoga
  • Be creative e.g. cooking, art or craftwork etc. 
  • Meditate

Here is a simple ritual I use every day to consciously connect to my Higher Self: 

1. Grip your hands together – this symbolises togetherness. 

2. Raise them above your head – this symbolises raising your consciousness. 

3. Say out loud “I am fully connected now, right now, right now” – this uses your free will and intent to make the connection.

To connect to your heart to find out your heart’s desire

You may have a sense of being unsettled, restless and needing change but at a loss to know what it is you want to do. Let’s look at how you can find your hidden inner passion. 

  • Write down everything you have ever done, including in your childhood, that you have found exciting, exhilarating and that made you feel happy and complete. There will be clues in that list that may trigger an idea for you to take forward.
  • Your mind is often guided by logic and fear, so discover what your heart wants. This simple ritual will help you to connect to your heart: 

1. Put your hands together in front of your chest – to represent the doors of your heart.

2. Open them wide three times – to symbolise your intention of opening your heart.

3. Place one hand on your heart centre, in the middle of your chest and focus your attention on your heart centre.

4. Ask your heart what its wish is; the first thought that comes into your mind is the answer. 

Your fears can block your progress

You may be blocked from reaching your goal by fear. This can be a conscious or subconscious fear from past experiences or from imagining the worst outcome. How do you overcome fears? I have found the most effective way is to face them! If there is something you really want, then do it anyway, even if you are scared. Facing fears is empowering and will knock down those invisible boundaries that limit you.

You may be following your life purpose by doing exactly what you are doing!

An important aspect of Life Purpose/destiny is that you may well be fulfilling this already! 

My belief is that when we are living kind, caring and thoughtful lives that consider the feelings and needs of others – then we are fulfilling our role as spiritual human beings. 

The hero in the new musical ‘Artaban’, which premiers in Covent Garden this November and is based on the book ‘The Fourth Wise Man’ by Henry van Dyke, faces similar challenges on his life journey. 

Artaban spent years waiting for the star that was prophesied to show the arrival of a new king. A new king that would help lead people from the corrupt and greed of life at that time. Once he saw the star, he was desperate to meet his three fellow Zoroastrian priests to follow the star to Bethlehem. There he would give his gifts, of a ruby, a sapphire and a pearl, to the baby Jesus. But Artaban’s quest and heart’s desire was thwarted right from the start as he was approached by a sick man at the side of the road. Artaban was not only a philosopher and astronomer but also a healer and his compassion pulled him to stop and help the man recover. This meant he missed the other three magi and consequently by the time he reached Bethlehem the family had moved on to Egypt. 

Artaban spent the next thirty years of his life searching for Jesus and constantly stopping to help those in need. Because he felt he was failing in his mission, he felt guilty and a failure (is that familiar to you?), however, eventually he came to Jerusalem where he heard that Jesus was imprisoned awaiting crucifixion. Once again, his urge to help him and give him his last remaining gemstone was thwarted. But, he did learn the most important lesson of all, that in truth he had fulfilled his mission – which was to help others. His acts of kindness on the way to his goal were the reality of his mission on earth.  

So as the saying goes, it’s not the goal but the journey and how you live your life day-to-day that really matters. So, relax about discovering a momentous life purpose, but follow your heart – it won’t fail you. And concentrate on living each day with love and kindness for that is what your heart truly needs and the love and gratitude that returns to you will give you fulfilment and happiness. 

For more information about Artaban, The Musical (and to listen to some of the original music) see: 

To book tickets:


Anne Jones is a spiritual healer, author of seven books translated into 18 languages, and co-creator of ‘Artaban The Musical’ which is based on the book ‘The Fourth Wise Man’ by Henry van Dyke. 

For more information about ‘Artaban The Musical’ (and to listen to some of the original music) see: 

To book tickets:


From Vegan donuts at Arrow Fresh to an eclectic mix of plant-based snacks from TK Maxx and an Oat Milk Lattes from the Grind cafe, throughout The Ridings alone you can go on your own sumptuous plant-based trail. With a renewed focus on the power of plant-based produce to help reduce our carbon footprint with COP 21 well underway. Now The Ridings Shopping Centre is playing host to its first Vegan Fair.

Vegan Market Co is holding its first market in Wakefield with a variety of ethical, sustainable and environmentally-friendly produce on Saturday 10th November from 10.30am – 4pm. 

That’s not forgetting the hand-crafted creations at Created in Yorkshire including Love 2 Grow cleaning products or the designs at Made or the charity shops offering a stylish alternative to ‘fast fashion.’ 

Here Sparkle Up North Magazine Founder and friend of The Ridings Sophie Mei Lan, who has transformed from a life-long Vegetarian to a Vegan in recent times, shares how she can still enjoy family favourites and traditional dishes whilst being more conscious about the planet.

Food as communication to connect communities and save the planet

My daughter announced to me recently “I’m Vegan mama,” shortly followed by her little sister asking what’s “Vegan” I’m going to be that.

Inside I quietly leapt with joy, as I’m Vegan too and whilst it’s increasingly popular, it’s still one of the most ridiculed diets by many with food labels so concerned by the stigma they rarely use the term Vegan in favour of ‘plant-based.’ 

If we all led a more more plant-based diet however, or had a Vegan day each week, then we could massively reduce our carbon footprint. 

What we consume not only impacts our overall health but the world too, we only need to turn to COP 26 briefly to hear this. 

My daughter is following wider trends at the moment whether it’s because it’s en vogue or she’s become more environmentally conscious, it’s a way of connecting with her friends and, I can’t deny being chuffed. 

It is also her way of expressing her own changing attitudes and values because I’ve always given her the option as my parents did with me but I never felt I was lacking as we enjoyed an array of cuisines which they separately ‘re-translated’ from their own backgrounds. 


From Sunday Dinners to home comfort food, the real staple of nutrition is feelings our grub can evoke which is why I know many meat eaters struggle with ‘giving up’ meat and fish. Yet if we look at ‘adding in’ a larger variety of plant-based food, suddenly it’s not a restriction but a conscious effort to feed ourselves well and in turn even just one meta-free day a week can help the planet. 

People often assume that as a largely Vegan and Vegetarian family, we will all be on a bland lacking diet, but you only need to pop to my Dads’ home in Sheffield to see the colourful array of recipes from Bosh brothers to Deliciously Ella cookbooks alongside his own recipes. 

We still devour Sunday Dinners, I love making Christmas Dinner and, as my sister announced via WhatsApp, last week: “Get in chips, scraps and mushy peas…oh and put the kettle on,” for when she arrived in Yorkshire for her first post-lockdown trip from New York after two long scraps-free years. We all knew the journey to the vegan friendly chippy would be worth it for her familiar ‘comfort food’ joy. 

It was also via social media that I had slathered over my Aunty’s Chinese and Malay dishes, to which I too had such a pining to return to Kuala Lumpur where the other half of our family reside. We have fond memories of delicious street food which comprises of Chinese, Indian and Malay cuisine which is largely Vegetarian. 

Through WhatsApp cookery classes from KL via my Aunty who creates food for those in need in her community, she shows her love via creating lavish feasts solely for them unable to afford to feed themselves. 

I too have been able to feel connected with her from my humble home on a Sunday morning as my mum and I cook along with her. 

Granted my daughters still don’t remember their last trip to South East Asia nor did they fancy trying my moon cakes which are popular during the mid-autumn celebrations that I used to love as a child because that’s the thing with food – it is all relative. We can create and reimagine dishes, gatherings and again the staple is the routine of sharing something with one another. 

Not only can this reduce food waste but by consciously coming together, sharing meat and dairy free recipes and dishes, we can reduce our consumption which is a major factor in climate change. A simple step, but a powerful one. 

Universally food can be a vital tool for communication and connection, not only for our own personal memories and our community but by being more conscious about what we consume, we can positively impact the environment too. 

Read more from Sophie about plant-based family life at or Vegan ideas at