Giggle Knickers

Stress incontinence. We’ve all been there. Whether through childbirth, obesity, our lifestyle choices e.g. smoking, or simply because of ageing. You laugh, cough or sneeze and do a little wee. It’s embarrassing, it’s upsetting and it’s inconvenient. Stress incontinence is a pain in the bladder. No more jumping up and down on trampolines for us. It isn’t normal and shouldn’t be accepted and you should seek medical advice for your symptoms.

In the UK alone, 1 in 3 adults, that’s over 3.5 million women, are living with this condition and the taboo’s surrounding it. From the moment we start being potty trained we are taught that we have to stay dry, to hang onto our wee until there is a toilet available. But what if we can’t simple hold on? What do we do if our leakage takes us by surprise?

The NHS recommends lifestyle changes such as losing weight, stopping smoking and cutting down on our alcohol and caffeine intakes. I have to say, since I stopped smoking cigarettes my bladder incontinence has improved, mainly because I now longer spend my waking hours coughing like a ship’s stoker. They say we should do pelvic floor exercises. Who, like me, does so many pelvic floor exercises that in theory they should have bladder muscles of steel, yet still leaks? There are surgical solutions and medications available but only as a last resort.

So, what do most of do? We turn to sanitary products. Panty liners, pads, Tena Lady’s and the like. Britain is the highest consumer of sanitary products in the EU. In 2018 it is estimated that we will consume 4.1 billion sanitary towels alone. Around half of those will go into landfill and unbelievably, the other half will be flushed down the loo, to end up in our rivers and on our beaches. Nice.

However, there is a solution at hand. A few months ago, I took part in some discussion videos based around the menopause, for a company called Esteem, who make clothing for ladies experiencing menopausal symptoms. Whilst there I met a lady called Anne, who along with her business partner Judith, runs a company called Giggle Knickers, making eco-friendly, washable knickers that are designed to securely hold onto those little leaks, whilst still keeping you dry.

Anne and Judith originally met 20 years in Henley, whilst both studying university courses. Anne was from Manchester, a mother to five and a teacher, while Judith was from London, also a mother and had a career in the fashion industry. The two became firm friends and vowed to work together at some point. That point came when one of them had had surgery and couldn’t find any suitable post-op underwear. Judith decided to try and design something that she wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen in, that was economical and at the same time kept you dry.

The next couple of years she spent researching and developing the product around the kitchen table and eventually she cracked it. Underwear that is comfortable, made in high quality cotton yet because of its hi-tech, protective panel, keeps you dry by pulling liquids away from your skin and holding on to it without pooling.  The patent pending core that she developed is designed to comfortably hold up to 30ml or 6 teaspoons of liquid. The core itself is not bulky, it feels like panty liner thickness rather than a sanitary towel, so it is lightweight and discreet.

Once happy with the prototype, Anne came on board and they started to source manufacturers. Initially they tried to find someone in the UK to make them. They even approached the knicker firm, Kinky Knickers in Manchester, who had featured on the Mary Portas TV series, Mary’s Bottom Line. Unfortunately, for the volumes involved, British producers proved too expensive and so they turned to China. Being ethically minded, they ensured that the factories they use operate in an equally principled manner, to ensure that workers have safe working conditions, are treated fairly, paid a fair wage and that no child labour is used.

In the meantime, they began a Kickstarter campaign to fund the initial production and off the back of that, they were asked to appear on Dragon’s Den. Eventually, armed with a business loan, production commenced and the first batch of knickers went on sale in November 2017.

It is early days yet, so Giggle Knickers, like Henry Ford’s Model T, only come in one colour…black and in one design. However, they come in 5 sizes, from UK 4-6 to UK 18 and cost £12.99 per pair. As business builds Anne and Judith aims to produce more colours and signs. They also want to develop a men’s range. Giggle Knickers, is a company that wants to benefit as many people as possible, so 20p from every purchase is donated to the Free A Girl India charity, which aims to fight against human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Giggle Knickers are available online, direct from themselves, with 20% off orders of 3 pairs or more.

“Don’t let a trickle stop your giggle.”

 

Photos: © Giggle Knickers. Do not reproduce without permission

 

 

 

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Kit and Kaboodal

Well, what a summer we are having. If the weather carries on like this we’ll beat the halcyon Summer of ’76. Now, I don’t know about you, but it drives me mad that the high street is already starting to put out its Autumn/Winter lines while I’m still building my summer wardrobe. Guys, it’s only early July.

God help you if you have booked a holiday in September and not got around to buying your clothes and accessories by mid-June. As for bikinis and swimsuits, forget it after the May Bank Holiday. If you leave it too late, or heaven forbid book a last-minute break, you’ll end up going away with jumpers and knee-high boots, as I have learnt to my cost in the past.

However, this year I have discovered an online clothing company called Kit and Kaboodal, who still have plenty of summer stock in and are bringing on new lines every week. They are a family run business, based in the gorgeous market town of Boroughbridge, near Harrogate. They stock Lagenlook clothing, cosy knitwear and premium linen clothing and I have fallen in love.

For those who haven’t seen the term Lagenlook before, it translates from German as layered look. A good exponent of Lagenlook fashion is Helena Bonham Carter. It is quite a quirky, bohemian look, often very relaxed and perfect for hot summers and cold winters. I love this look. It is so easy to wear, especially when your waistline is expanding through the menopause, like mine is. But, it isn’t about hiding your figure, it is about complementing it with elegant draping, asymmetry and feminine detailing. It is a celebration of all shapes and sizes and it looks good on anyone.

Kit and Kaboodal is run by husband and wife team, John and Helen Marsden and Helen’s daughters, Naomi and Laura, who between them have decades of business and retail experience. All of which has made this company a huge success, not only on the UK but abroad too. The American and Australians are particularly in love with Kit and Kaboodal clothing.  Originally started in their own home, the company now operates out of purpose-built offices and warehousing just up the road. The stock flies out so fast that they have their own in-house photographic studio, in order to shoot it as soon as it arrives. Another thing I love is that they shoot their clothes on ‘real’ people; themselves, their staff and their relatives. No stick thin teenagers, who should be studying for their GCSE’s here.  Several times a year they open the warehouse doors to the public, so it is well worth keeping an eye on their social media.

This year I have bought several bright dresses and tops, a pair of wafty harem pants, (see below) and 2 pairs of sparkly espadrilles. All of which were exceptional value. Kit and Kaboodal also have frequent flash sales, so if you sign up for their regular newsletters you won’t miss out.

But don’t just take my word for how lovely Kit and Kaboodal clothes are. Whilst writing this piece I put a shout out on the Kit and Kaboodal Members Facebook page, in order to gauge what others think about the company and their products. Here’s just a few of the replies I received:

Karen – ‘I love K&K because it’s the best way to look original and stylish – but the best thing of all is it’s comfortable and affordable.’

Elaine – ‘Best thing that’s happened to me in a long time, lovely, well made clothes, just that bit different and affordable.’

Janine – ‘It has an edge. When you wear it you know you can be an individual. It’s for those women who don’t want to be beige.’

Jane – ‘Finally found my groove.’

Trudy – ‘Have to mention the K and K staff , they are amazing and their customer service is as well, nothing is too much trouble for them.’ (Have to say I totally agree).

Kit and Kaboodal have very generously offered you lovely readers an exclusive 15% discount. Shop online at https://www.kitandkaboodal.co.uk and enter the code WARM15 at checkout. Share your purchases with us on our social media. Discount code is valid for the next 28 days.

All photography is copyrighted by Kit and Kaboodal and cannot be reproduced in any format or on any platform without their express permission.

 

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Living With The M Word

 

One of the main inspirations for starting this blog was the M word. You know, that word that Cissy and Ada used to silently mouth on the brilliant Les Dawson show. The thing your older female relatives cryptically referred to as ‘the change.’ The condition that you think you know about until you start it and then realise that you know nothing or very little anyway.

I’m talking, of course, about the menopause. Also, the peri menopause. Who even knew that was a thing? A menopause before your menopause. Like a trial run menopause. Now I should point out that I don’t even know for sure if I have started the menopause because I haven’t had it confirmed by my GP and also, I am reluctant to give up my mini pill because my periods have always been a nightmare. About two years ago the practice nurse said I should come off to see if my periods had stopped but within a week I was a hormonal, moody, tearful wreck so after the fortnight from hell, I thought bugger this and went back on it. However, I am closing in fast on 53 so the chances are I have.

Also, when I read the symptoms for the big M, I am definitely there or there abouts.

  • Change in the frequency and heaviness/lightness of periods – the jury is out on that one until I stop taking the mini pill but they didn’t suddenly reappear last time.
  • Hot flushes – Tick. Especially when I’m cooking. I have to break off and go and stand in the garden wringing wet and puffing like a carthorse.
  • Night sweats – Tick. But few and far between.
  • Difficulty sleeping – Tick. But then I always have, so may or may not be connected.
  • Reduced sex drive – Huge tick. I always had more than my fair share of a libido but now, in the words of Boy George, I’d rather have a cup of tea.
  • Vaginal dryness – Tick. Moves swiftly on.
  • Mood swings – Tick. Although I fear they would be far worse if I wasn’t taking the pill and various anxiety medications.
  • Weight gain – Tick. Dear goodness, yes and thrice yes. I’m beginning to wonder if the Menopause Bad Fairy creeps into my room at night and attaches me to a bicycle pump.
  • Brain fog – Tick and then some. But I suffer that anyway with my Fibromyalgia, so who knows.
  • Other symptoms – Tick. I have less body hair than before which frankly is bliss. I can now go four days instead of two between leg and underarm shaves. Dry, thinning skin. Tick. The tell tale signs of aging are now showing on the back of my hands and on my décolletage and I don’t tan as easily as I used to.

In spite of all the doom and gloom above I’m looking forward to finishing with all the hormonal stuff. I certainly don’t want any more children, other than grandchildren, so frankly I can do without my female plumbing and its accompanying problems. I see it as liberating, the ultimate in female emancipation. Although I am rather wary of ending up with osteoporosis, so I’m making sure that I’m keeping my calcium and Vitamin D levels up through diet and supplements, trying to exercise more, (when I have the energy) and I have replaced cigarettes with an electronic puffer.

I had thought about going on HRT, mainly because it makes your skin all glowy apparently but recent breast cancer scares have put me off and to be honest I don’t seem to be having too torrid a time at the moment. Then, I also found out something that shocked me to the core. Something I had never heard before but I guess made perfect sense. HRT can re-start your periods. Oh no, no way, not having it, not ever! The thought of going back to that monthly hell and shenanigans had me running for the hills. I’ll just stay moody, sweaty and achy thanks.

So what support is out there for us ladies of a certain age? I would say your first port of call is your similar aged female friends and family group. They will all be experiencing the same or similar symptoms and are probably more than willing to discuss their own experiences. Secondly, head to that fount of all knowledge, the internet. Just type the word menopause in to Google and over 31 million results pop up. Gulp. Obviously, you have to be selective in what you read because some of it is utter poppycock, so I would say stick to the tried and tested, the NHS, BUPA, mainstream media sites etc.

You will also find some excellent peer written websites out there such as Menopause Goddess and Fab Over Fifty that are packed full interesting articles, tips and advice. Social media is another great platform on which to search. If you put #menopause into the Twitter search bar you will find a wealth of people, pages, news, videos, all sorts. For instance, I found out whilst researching this, that in a recent survey only 19% of U.S. women questioned knew what to expect from the menopause. An interesting conclusion gained from the results is that the majority of women don’t think about the menopause until they start experiencing symptoms and that was certainly true in my case.

What now? Well, for me it’ll be a case of keeping on doing what I’m doing. It also gives me the best excuse in the world for everything. Missed appointments. Sorry, it’s not me it’s my menopause. Getting snappy with people because they are just really, really annoying, menopause or no menopause. Sorry, it’s not me it’s my menopause. Fancying a day slobbing on the sofa? Sorry, it’s not me it’s my menopause. Brilliant! I may never have to go anywhere or do anything again.

Join in the conversation on my social media channels and let me know how you a coping with the menopause journey.

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