Tag Archives: food

Pricey season

A table of Christmas foodImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The cost of Christmas: Some seasonal favourites have gone up in price since last year

From boxes of chocolates to mince pies and even Brussels sprouts, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a table piled high with food.

But the price of the festive grocery shop has spiralled this year, thanks to growing food inflation.

Food and soft drink prices rose by 4.1% in the year to October – the biggest growth in four years and a move that’s hit some perennial Christmas favourites particularly hard.

The average price of smoked salmon shot up by 22.9% between November 2015 and November 2016, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

Brussels sprouts are up 8.4%, while Christmas puddings are 7.7% more expensive, according to the figures.

In September and October, consumer price inflation hit 3% compared with a year earlier – the highest level in five years and 0.9% above the rate of wage growth.

But some of the key components of Christmas – including popular presents such as smartphones and clothes – have seen average prices rise by far more than that.

So what’s behind the increases? And are we tightening our belts this Christmas as a result?

Grocery squeeze

The pound has fallen by as much as 20% relative to other currencies following the Brexit vote in 2016, meaning that retailers who rely on imports have seen significant price rises.

The UK brings in about 50% of the food we eat from overseas, so supermarkets have been under particular pressure.

Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG, says that consumers are particularly sensitive to food price changes.

“Before 2017, grocery prices were falling off the back of the supermarket price war,” he says.

“We have gone quickly from a position where people are used to their weekly shop getting cheaper to getting more expensive.”

Mr Martin points out that the effect is psychological, with people paying more attention to rising prices than falling ones.

“Some sectors are hit particularly hard. For example, the price of smoked salmon has gone up markedly and that is an important part of Christmas for many people,” he adds.

Although some foods have become more expensive, we are buying it in increasing quantities. Over the three months to November, total food sales increased 4%, according to the British Retail Consortium and KPMG.

And it seems we are still keen to treat themselves as Christmas approaches, but are being more innovative in how we shop.

One in three shoppers say the cost of Christmas is a growing concern compared with last year, says grocery research firm IGD.

About 45% of shoppers told the IGD they would start Christmas shopping early to spread the cost, compared with 35% who said the same last year.

And 43% are planning to spread the bulk their food shopping across a range of stores – twice as many as were planning to do a big Christmas shop in one place.

Tech troubles

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The rising price of phones means users are holding on to their handsets for longer, according to some reports

Many tech enthusiasts will be hoping for an iPhone X in their Christmas stocking. But they could be left disappointed if the price hikes seen on smartphones make them an unappealing purchase.

The cost of premium smartphones has been rising steadily each year. Average prices increased by 10.2% in 2015, 16.7% last year and 6.7% in 2017, according to technology analysts Gartner.

PC price hikes have been even more pronounced, with the average selling price rising by 23% in 2016 and 14% in 2017 – after an average fall of 29% in 2014.

Technology prices largely fell by 3-5% every year until 2012, but now things are different, says Ranjit Atwal, a research director at Gartner.

“On the PC side, a lot of people started to buy better models that were higher spec, so started to move up the price curve,” he says.

“Then there are issues around exchange rates. When the pound fell in 2016 we saw quite a big increase in pricing. The cost of the components has been increasing too.”

Will this strike tech gifts off Christmas lists? Phone users are typically holding on to their handsets for four or five months longer, as prices have become more expensive, Dixons Carphone’s chief executive Seb James warned back in August.

But Mr Atwal says shoppers aren’t overly bothered by price hikes.

“Smartphones are much more pervasive – everybody has one,” he says.

“People don’t buy them all in one go, so they don’t really realise. Groceries are a frequent purchase: if the price of milk goes up 5p, you notice that.”

Clothing woes

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Average clothing prices have risen 11.5% since last year, after retailers timed the winter wather better

Prices have gone up 11.5% in the UK online clothing, shoes and accessories market from November 2016 to November 2017 on a like-for-like retailer basis, says data analytics platform WGSN Instock.

WGSN’s Nivindya Sharma notes that retailers have had to grapple with increased sourcing costs as the pound lost value after the Brexit referendum.

Incorporating this year’s trends such as ruffles, embellishments and embroidery in designs has also pushed prices up, while the fashion for upmarket trainers has given retailers a boost.

“There is an increasing propensity among shoppers to buy less, buy better,” she says.

“As a reaction to this, retailers have invested in expanding or introducing their premium collections and price points. There is also a greater volume of premium wool products such as merino and cashmere now available on the High Street.

“Shoppers are increasingly concerned about value for money, so retailers have had to really justify their price points through initiatives such as design innovation, quality, premium fabric or high-profile collaborations.”

Shops have also learnt from last year’s mistake of discounting clothing too early.

The mild winter weather of last year meant shops had to slash the price of coats and jackets. This year, they waited until the temperature started to drop significantly, making shoppers more willing to pay full price.

As a result, women’s coat prices online have gone up 6.8% year on year, while women’s jacket prices have gone up 9.9%.


Ex soldier says Foreign Office ‘betrayed’ Chennai Six

Billy Irving at Glasgow AirportImage copyright PA
Image caption Billy Irving thanked campaigners for their support when he arrived in Glasgow on Wednesday

A former paratrooper who spent four years in an Indian prison claims he was “betrayed” by the UK government.

Billy Irving and five other men were imprisoned in 2013 on charges of smuggling weapons and ammunition.

Their convictions were overturned last week and Mr Irving was the first of the “Chennai Six” to return home to the UK.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it had worked “tirelessly behind the scenes” to reunite the men with their families.

However, in an interview with the Scottish Mail on Sunday, Mr Irving, from Paisley, criticises the efforts of the FCO.

“I can never forgive the UK government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,” he told the newspaper.

“We would have been freed much sooner if they had really engaged in our plight and fought for us. I feel disgusted and betrayed.”

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Billy Irving was pictured shortly after his release from prison

The 37-year-old is former corporal with the Parachute Regiment who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He was one of a group of veterans working for an US maritime security firm on a ship in the Indian Ocean when they were picked up by the Indian coastguard.

During their time in prison, he said he had to eat rotten food and endure “rancid” conditions.

He said his relief at being home was tempered with sorrow at missing out on the first few years of his son’s life.

His fiancee, Yvonne MacHugh, led a high profile campaign to have Mr Irving and his former colleagues released from the “hell hole” prison.

She told the paper that former foreign secretary Philip Hammond was “useless and uninterested” and she also criticised his successor, Boris Johnson.

“For Boris Johnson to hint that he had some part in their return is the height of hypocrisy,” she said.

“I’ve written to him a number of times asking for a meeting and never had a reply. How dare he?”

Ms MacHugh said the prisoners would have been released two years ago if the FCO had done their jobs properly.

Image caption Yvonne MacHugh has campaigned for four years for her partner Billy’s release

“I will never forgive the FCO,” she added. “At times, their lack of interest just made everything worse.

“They put business ventures before lives. They complicated situations and moved goal posts. They would offer to help, then they didn’t follow up. They’ve never said, ‘Sorry, we messed up’.”

In response, the FCO said that since the men’s arrest in October 2013, the case has been raised more than 50 times at ministerial level and nine times with the Indian prime minister.

Mark Field, the minister for Asia, visited the men in prison on 12 October 2017 and he met families and campaigners in London.

A spokesman for the FCO said: “The UK government was delighted that the men were released and the Foreign Secretary also paid tribute to those who campaigned for them.

“The Foreign Office worked tirelessly behind the scenes to reunite these men with their families.

“This included lobbying on their behalf, visiting them in prison, updating their families, and maintaining close contact with their legal team.”


Who are the Chennai Six?

Image caption (From top left, clockwise) Nick Dunn, Paul Towers, Nick Simpson, Ray Tindall, John Armstrong and Billy Irving

Nick Dunn from Ashington, Northumberland

Paul Towers from Pocklington, East Yorkshire

Ray Tindall from Chester

Nicholas Simpson from Catterick, North Yorkshire

John Armstrong from Wigton, Cumbria

Billy Irving from Connel, Argyll


The woman making money from food porn

Blogger Kimberly Espinel earns a living by showing people how to photograph their food for social media.

She charges about $270 a session.

She says most of her clients don’t work in the food industry but want to show off their meals on Instagram.

Video journalist: Patrick Clahane

Baker cooks up miniature Bethlehem out of fruit cakes

Bethlehem scene
Image caption The confectionary model of Bethlehem took five months to create

A baker has created a miniature version of Bethlehem out of 36 fruit cakes to raise money for a school playground in her village.

Lynn Nolan last year made a model of her Derbyshire village for charity.

This time she spent five months and used 90kg of icing making the 6ft (1.83m) edible Bethlehem.

Youlgreave Church of England Primary School is hoping to raise cash towards a £60,000 target when the cakes are auctioned.

Children from the school and other villagers helped with the baking project.

More stories from around the East Midlands

“We used 50kg of marzipan and 48kg of raisins, currants and sultanas and four litres of whisky,” Mrs Nolan said.

Image caption Everything in this unusual nativity scene is edible
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Modern day Bethlehem – the lighting of a Christmas tree this month outside the Church of the Nativity, where major renovation work is ongoing

Last year Mrs Nolan made a tasty replica of Youlgreave out of cake.

The cakes remain edible because they have been soaked in whisky, which preserves them, she said.

Image caption Lynn Nolan got plenty of help from pupils at the school in her cake-baking challenge

“I’ve no (overall) plan to work with, it just happens as I go along. The only thing I have is the picture in my head, so I’ve got to go with that,” she said.

The models are on display at the village shop until 15 December.

The planned play area at the school will include a stage, trail, climbing wall and artificial grass.

Image copyright Gary Bagshawe
Image caption Last year, the cake version of Youlgreave included the George Hotel with food and drink on its tables

D-list diets

Images of food in panelsImage copyright Getty Images

The British Dietetic Association has released a list of diets they say we should steer clear of in the new year.

They include the Raw Vegan, Alkaline, Pioppi and Ketogenic diets, as well as Katie Price’s Nutritional Supplements.

Sian Porter from the BDA said: “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

The British Nutrition Foundation agreed that the five diets are best avoided, while Dr Aseem Malhotra, author of The Pioppi diet, defended his meal plan.

Raw Vegan

Image copyright REX/Shutterstock

Gwyneth Paltrow, Megan Fox and Sting have all come out in support of a vegan diet of uncooked foods.

Supporters define raw food as anything that has not been refined, canned or chemically processed, and has not been heated above 48C.

They argue that applying heat destroys some of the natural enzymes in food and that the body therefore needs to do more work to break the food down. They also say you lose nutrients through this process.

But Mrs Porter said: “People think that vegan is shorthand for healthy, but it requires careful planning to make sure you don’t miss out on important nutrients.”

The NHS suggests vegans consider taking vitamin B12 and vitamin D supplements.

Heat also brings out the nutrients in some foods, such as carrots while others, such as potatoes, cannot be eaten raw.


Tom Brady and the Duchess of York have been famous proponents of the alkaline diet.

The diet is based on the theory that you can change the pH balance (level of acidity) of your body and blood through the food that you eat – despite there currently being no substantial evidence to suggest that this is possible.

Advocates have claimed that high levels of “excess acid” in the body contribute to a range of health conditions including arthritis, osteoporosis, kidney and liver disorders, and even cancer.

They suggest eating “alkaline foods”, primarily fruit and vegetables, to correct this.

But, according to Cancer Research UK, while eating more fruit and vegetables may help you lose weight, the pH of your food will not impact the pH of your blood.

Mrs Porter said: “So if it works to lose weight, it’s because you’re cutting down on calories.”

The NHS says that the alkaline diet lacks evidence, and advises against cutting out whole food groups, as some versions of the diet suggest.

Katie Price – Nutritional Supplements

Image copyright REX/Shutterstock

Katie Price has released a range of hydration, breakfast and meal replacement shakes.

According to the website, the drinks support muscle tone and maintenance as well as decreasing snacking and cravings.

Mrs Porter said: “The problem is people need to reintroduce food so you want something you can stick to.”

While rapid weight loss can be motivating, the BDA said it is unsustainable and that appetite suppressors are not a healthy or advisable way of losing weight.

Sarah Coe from the BNF said: “Meal replacement products can be useful for people that have a lot of weight to lose, but should always be used under supervision from a health professional.”

Katie Price Nutrition did not respond to a BBC request for comment.

Pioppi Diet

The Pioppi diet claims to promote the principles of the Mediterranean diet to promote weight loss and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The authors, Dr Aseem Malhotra and Donal O’Neill, recommend a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet with fruit and vegetables, fish, olive oil, alcohol in moderation and exercise.

They suggest intermittent fasting and discourage eating red meat, starchy carbs, and sweetened treats.

The BDA accused the pair of “hijacking” the Mediterranean diet with their agenda, saying it was “ridiculous” to include coconut oil or cauliflower for a pizza base as one of their suggestions.

Mrs Porter said: “We all know now that a Mediterranean-style diet is one of the most healthy diets to follow. But it’s not low carb.”

Image copyright Science Photo Library

The British Nutrition Foundation agrees, saying that a traditional Mediterranean diet typically includes pasta and rice at every meal.

Mrs Porter added that the argument to eat a high level of saturated fat was based on evidence that had been “cherry-picked rather than looking at it in its entirety”.

She said: “Why it might help you lose weight is because it’s making healthier choices and you’d be having overall less calories.”

But Dr Malhotra, a cardiologist and adviser at the National Obesity Forum, said: “The Pioppi Diet is an independent evaluation that marries the secrets of one of the world’s healthiest villages with the latest medical, nutrition and exercise research to bust many myths prevalent in today’s weight loss and health industries.

“It has received endorsements from a number of eminent international doctors, dieticians, Cochrane researchers and sports scientists.

“One has to question the financial links and influence of various food companies on the BDA. In my view, they cannot be trusted as an independent source of dietary advice.”

In response to this, a BDA spokesperson said: “The analysis we release is always based on evidence and is unaffected by the important relationships we have with the nation’s food producers.

“Our spokespeople, like all dieticians, are required to adhere to evidence-based practice as part of their registration with the Health and Care Professions Council.”


Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kobe Bryant has been linked to the Ketogenic diet

A huge number of celebrities have been linked with this diet including Kim Kardashian, Kobe Bryant and Alec Baldwin.

The premise is to eat a very low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet, with carbohydrates coming from non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds.

The aim is to push the body into a state of “ketosis”. Because it doesn’t have the glucose from the carbohydrates, it instead breaks down fat to produce energy.

Ms Porter said: “The sinister thing here is people saying it can cure cancer and things like that – it absolutely cannot!”

She said by not eating carbohydrates, you avoid eating the calorie-laden things that generally accompany them: “If you’re cutting out carbs, such as pasta, you’re cutting out creamy sauce. If you’re cutting out bread, you’re cutting out butter. If you’re cutting out biscuits, you’re cutting out sugar.”

The danger, she said, is that you can lose a lot of fibre from your diet which is important for gut health. Also, by removing whole grains from your diet you’re depriving your body of many vitamins and minerals.

The BNF advises that it can be effective for losing weight in the short-term but this weight loss can be hard to sustain.

So how do I lose weight?

The BDA has a fact sheet recommending some of the best ways to lose weight. They suggest:

  • Keep a food and mood diary to monitor how the two are connected
  • Make a list of non-food related tasks you can do to distract you from thinking about food
  • Set realistic goals: losing only 5-10% of your weight has massive health benefits
  • Avoid eating at the same time as doing something else, such as watching TV, as this can cause you to overeat
  • Half fill your plate with vegetables/salad and divide the other half between a protein and a starchy carbohydrate like potatoes or rice

Wormwood Scrubs prison sees ‘surge in violence’

Wormwood ScrubsImage copyright PA
Image caption Wormwood Scrubs is one of the UK‘s most iconic prisons

Chronic staff shortages, food running out and a surge in violence were among the findings of a critical prison report into Wormwood Scrubs.

Inspectors also found areas of the west London jail were strewn with litter, attracting rats and cockroaches.

Chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke said the findings painted an “extremely concerning picture”.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the jail was recruiting staff in a bid to “urgently” raise standards.

Wormwood Scrubs ‘dangerous for officers’

The HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ report said Wormwood Scrubs, which holds more than 1,200 men, had high levels of often serious violence, resulting in some significant injuries.

It also detailed how food routinely ran out in one wing, with staff having to source a half-used tray from another servery or distribute “mountain survival” dried food packs.


Key findings

Image copyright PA
  • There had been a “dramatic” increase in violence against staff, with more than 90 assaults in the six months to July, when inspectors visited the jail
  • Far too many windows facing the perimeter wall were broken, which enabled prisoners to retrieve contraband thrown over the wall
  • The prison stores had not been open for many weeks, leaving staff to “scavenge” for many basic items needed by inmates
  • A case sample found important aspects of public protection work had not been done, potentially leaving some serious issues unmanaged

Publishing the latest assessment, Mr Clarke said: “Wormwood Scrubs is an iconic local prison serving communities in London.

“Overall, this was an extremely concerning picture, and we could see no justification as to why this poor situation had persisted since 2014.

“The governor and his team were, to their credit, working tirelessly to address the problems faced.”

‘Significant improvements’

The MoJ said the prison had taken “decisive action” to reduce violence and was working to urgently improve conditions.

A spokesman said: “We know staffing remains an issue, so we are recruiting 120 extra officers and will cut the time taken for new recruits to begin training.

“The addition of new, senior probation staff has also led to significant improvements in resettling offenders into the community following release.

“We are pleased inspectors recognised the hard work and dedication of staff at the prison, especially in improving education and purposeful activity.”

Just one week left to donate to the Toys & Tins Appeal to help vulnerable women and children

THERE is just one more week left to bring in your donations for the Telegraph & Argus Toys & Tins Appeal which provides gifts to children and food for families fleeing domestic violence.

The appeal was launched last year and readers and businesses have yet again jumped at the chance to help those less fortunate.

Last year, each child being looked after by charity partner Bradford Women’s Aid, received a gift on Christmas morning.

Again this year a reader has donated cash anonymously which he specified was to be used by the charity to buy things for the women which Bradford Women’s Aid have said they are pleased to do.

The same reader donated cash last year which was used to purchase store vouchers so the women could buy whichever items they needed.

We are asking for gifts of toys for girls and boys of all ages and tins and non-perishable foods which have a long shelf life. They may be left in our reception at Hall Ings between 9.30am and 3pm. The last day for donations is Friday, December 15.

‘Upcycle” Christmas gifts at weekend festival run by arts group

A LOCAL arts group will hold a mini festival for people to create and “upcycle” their own low cost Christmas gifts.

The Brick Box is inviting people to its Ivegate base this weekend for Indie-Cember, a two day event that will mix music, crafts and food.

During the event there will be workshops from stop animation to LED bauble-making, as well as stalls by local artists and makers, and free live entertainment.

In the evening, there’ll be a late-night party with some of the city’s grassroots DJs and promoters.

It starts on Friday at 7pm with piano music by Imani Hekima, acoustic music by Gerrard Bell-Fife and a “wRapping zone” that mixes hip hop and present wrapping.

On Saturday there will be stalls by local groups selling gifts, numerous workshops, live music and DJs until late at night.

The event is being supported by Bradford Council’s Visitor Fund.

A spokesperson from The Brick Box said: “Indie-cember is a festive nod to Bradford’s brilliant DIY ethic, and also a way for people to get together and prepare for Christmas without having to spend lots of money.

“We want to teach people how to make and upcycle things, as well as show them what else is being made in the city by some of our skilled craftspeople.

“Throw in some very talented musicians, lots of food and drink, and some indoor snow, and it’s going to be a real Christmas party as well as a useful place to do your shopping.”

‘Stark’ increase in overweight youngsters

Overweight child by a swimming poolImage copyright Getty Images

There is a “stark” increase between the ages of seven and 11 in the proportion of children in the UK who are overweight or obese, new data suggests.

The study of nearly 12,000 children found 25% were overweight or obese at age seven, rising to 35% at 11.

Between 11 and 14, there was little change, however, which researchers say may be because children of this age are making more of their own food choices.

Campaigners are calling for more action on weight issues in younger children.

Mothers’ education

Researchers from the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) at the UCL Institute of Education analysed information on nearly 12,000 of the children taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study, who were born in 2000 and 2001 and have had their weight and height measured at the ages of three, five, seven, 11 and 14.

Rates of excess weight varied by nation, with nearly 40% of young people in Northern Ireland obese or overweight compared with 38% in Wales and 35% in both Scotland and England.

The levels showed little change up to the age of seven, but then made a big jump in the next four years.

At the age of seven, 25.5% of the boys were overweight or obese – but this proportion rose to 36.7% four years later.

With the girls, 23.7% were carrying excess weight at seven – but 33.9% were overweight or obese at 11.

However, at 14 the boys’ proportion had dropped to 34.1%, while the girls’ had risen slightly to 36.3%.

The data, which was collected between January 2014 and March 2015, also revealed a link between young people‘s weight and their mothers’ level of education.

Nearly 40% of 14-year-olds whose mothers had no qualifications above GCSE level were overweight or obese, while the proportion was 26% among those whose mum had a degree or higher qualifications.

Also, children who were breastfed as infants, and those whose parents owned their own home, had lower odds of carrying excess weight at 14.

Dr Benedetta Pongiglione, co-author of the study, told the BBC that while it did not investigate the reasons for the levelling off in rising obesity in 11- to 14-year-olds, trends suggested why this had occurred.

“We know that that age of early to mid adolescence is a time where children start to make more decisions on their own, which can imply different… physical activity, diet and other choices,” she said.

“Peer pressure also plays a bigger role in their lives.

“From what we observe, maybe the time between seven and 11 is when parents take most of the decisions.”

Prof Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance, both called for restrictions or a 21:00 watershed on junk-food advertising.

Prof Fewtrell said a range of measures should be considered, including “statutory school-based health education in all schools and robust evaluation of the soft drinks and sugar reduction programme“.

Ms Cerny said it had to be made “easier for families to make healthier choices”.

She added: “Children can see up to nine junk-food adverts in just 30 minutes while watching their favourite shows, and we know this influences their food choices and how much they eat.”

Prof Emla Fitzsimons, another co-author of the study, said: “Children who are overweight or obese face an increased risk of many health problems later in life, including cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.

“There is still a worryingly high proportion of young people in this generation who are an unhealthy weight.”

The government has plans to try to cut childhood obesity, with a tax on sugary drinks coming into force on 1 April 2018.

Independent think tank the Centre for Social Justice has suggested it follows the example of Amsterdam, which is the only European city to have lowered obesity rates in the past five years with a variety of programmes – mainly through schools.

Childhood obesity rates have also fallen in New York after a poster campaign on the subway system.

‘Like hot knives’ inside

Image caption Endometriosis affects one in 10 women in the UK

“It feels like hot knives stabbing through me, like fireworks going off inside me, like something twisting and stretching and taking over me.”

This is Jaimee Rae McCormack’s description of the pain of endometriosis.

The condition, where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body, can cause chronic pain, painful sex and lead to depression and infertility.

Here the 27-year-old from Cardiff tells of the impact it has on her life and her 13-year fight for a diagnosis.

Image caption Hypochondria to food poisoning: Jaimee was given a range of diagnoses before discovering she had endometriosis

“I’ve suffered with endometriosis since I was 12 but it wasn’t until I was 25 that I was finally diagnosed.

“The condition has had a huge impact on my life. I haven’t been able to have a career because there are days I’m in too much pain to leave the house and I have hospital appointments sometimes four times a week.

“If it wasn’t for my supportive family I would be lost and in huge financial trouble.

“It means sex is painful and and I have physiotherapy to help in that department.

“I won’t know how it has affected my fertility until I start trying for a baby.

“I have certainly felt depressed at times which has really got me down as I love to smile.”

When Jaimee first became unwell she was frequently at her GP‘s surgery but felt she was getting nowhere: “Tests were coming back clear and I was being told there was nothing wrong with me.”

She was eventually prescribed a series of different contraceptive pills and then fitted with a coil which “helped massively”.

But it was short lived: “By the time I got to 18 things were really bad,” she said.

“It really affects my bowel movements so I have diarrhoea all the time.

“Because of that I was constantly being told it was irritable bowel syndrome .”

By the age of 21, Jaimee had graduated with a degree in contemporary textiles and was working in Sweden as an au pair.

But she was very unwell: “One time I had terrible sickness and diarrhoea for 12 hours, to the point where I couldn’t breathe,” she said.

“I flew home to Wales and saw my GP who told me I was homesick. I was told to finish my contract in Sweden and come home – which is what I did.

“After returning home my quest to get to the bottom of my illness really began.”

She underwent allergy testing, and was tested for coeliac disease: “Everything kept coming back clear all the time and everybody thought I was wasting their time.”

She paid privately for an endoscopy and a colonoscopy and this led to the discovery of two chronic duodenal ulcers.

“We thought we’d found what had been going on with me all these years,” she said – but it turned out to be a red herring.

By the age of 23 her health had hit an all-time low: “I was sick for so long and so weak as I blacked out and had to be rushed into hospital,” she recalled.

This time she was told she had food poisoning.

Before long she was back in hospital, this time for a month of tests. She left without a diagnosis.

But she was determined to get to the bottom of her illness. She started having acupuncture and it was her acupuncturist who first suggested it could be endometriosis.

“I started looking into it,” she said.

“It took two years of pestering GPs and requesting referrals before I was finally given the diagnosis in December 2015.

“It made a huge difference to know it wasn’t all in my head.”

Since her diagnosis Jaimee has had three operations and the endometriosis has been removed from her liver, appendix, colon, rectum, fallopian tubes, uterus and bowel.

“The pain lower down has got so much better,” she said.

“The cramps used to be so strong, almost like I was in labour. I’ve looked into it and for centuries it was called “suffocation of the womb” and sufferers were executed because people thought they were witches.

“I can understand that, sometimes it is almost like I am possessed.”

She is now waiting to hear if she will be given a PET scan to see if she has endometriosis around her lungs and heart.

For the past four years, Jaimee says medics have frequently encouraged her to have a baby – the condition can cause infertility and some women report pregnancy helps with symptoms.

Endometriosis symptoms:

  • Lower tummy or back (pelvic) pain – usually worse during your period
  • Period pain that stops you doing your normal activities
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain when going to the toilet during your period
  • Feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee during your period
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • The condition mainly affects girls and women of childbearing age and less common in women who have been through the menopause

But this is not something she is considering: “I’ve lost count how many times doctors have suggested I have a baby – probably over 20 times.

“It would be cruel to bring a child into the world when I’m sick so often.

“For some women having a baby helps but for others it doesn’t.

“They’ve managed to get rid of the endometriosis from all of my uterus, so I’m hoping I have my fertility, but I won’t know until I start trying for a baby.

“It’s just not the right time now. It will be in the next couple of years and I hope I haven’t missed my chance.”

Image copyright Robin French
Image caption Jaimee has been painting a wall of her house to raise awareness of the condition

Jaimee has found an unusual way to stay positive: By writing information and painting images images on a wall of her house and sharing the images on social media to raise awareness of the condition.

“I’ve drawn flowers with 10 petals, one black to represent the one in 10 women who have endometriosis.”

Image copyright Robin French

Her work has had a mixed response: “One person said I was being disrespectful. Someone else called the police.

“But then I got a photographer in to photograph the work, and since then it has been really positive.”

Jaimee’s condition has left her feeling depressed and low at times but the painting has helped: “Since starting the wall, on my down days all the messages with other women struggling keeps me going and inspires me to keep shouting out and raising awareness for this awful condition.”

Image copyright Robin French