Jo Ward

Jo Ward has 123 articles published.

Christmas survival guide

in Features

Christmas is coming and the excitement is building. Alright, I know it’s early, but twinkling lights are already evident in shopping centres and the sentimental adverts that cajole us into buying lots of Christmas goodies that we don’t really need have started to be shown on television. 

So what is the secret to having a happy and stress free Christmas?  It’s meant to be a time of good cheer, but for some it can be anything but merry!

Mum on the Rock has a few tips that may help. 


It’s only one day. Why do we all get ourselves so worked up over cooking the Christmas dinner when it’s really not much different to preparing a Sunday roast?


Present buying can be stressful, especially for those of us on a budget. Teaching children to understand how fortunate they are that they receive lots of gifts is important, so a nice idea can be to also make Christmas about giving to others. Asking them to donate one of their presents to a charity of their choice will help them learn that not everybody is as lucky as they are.

Supermum’is a myth!

 “I did all my Christmas shopping four months ago,” she exclaims. Whilst it can be a good idea to pre-plan and look out for bargains, how many of us realistically buy next year’s Christmas presents in the January sales? 

Make your freezer your friend

Leaving everything until the last minute can be exhausting, so take advantage of your freezer and fridge and take the chaos out of Christmas.  Most all your Christmas dinner dishes can be frozen or put in the fridge beforehand.


Make a list – and check it twice! Well, maybe don’t do that, but definitely making a list will ensure that you don’t forget to buy a present for Auntie Sue or omit to buy the cranberry sauce. 


Nobody can be expected to do everything, so divvy up the jobs. Get someone to lay the table the day before, get someone else to peel the potatoes and make sure that someone else is in charge of buying batteries. Toys without batteries on Christmas Day equals disaster, and nobody wants to make that trip to the garage to buy some. 

Immunity and seasonal Excesses

in Health & Beauty

The season of excess is upon us! We all know the old adage “everything in moderation,” meaning that it’s good to avoid extremes, so don’t overindulge in festive food and drink but also don’t abstain. You can eat and drink in moderation and still enjoy the festivities.

There is nothing worse than waking up the day after a party with a hangover, but did you realise that this is caused by ethanol, a substance found in alcohol which is a toxic chemical which, among other uses, is used as an industrial solvent added to gasoline for vehicle fuel!

It’s no surprise therefore that ethanol is responsible for some nasty effects in the human body, including dehydration, disrupted sleep, electrolyte imbalance and an upset stomach. With this in mind it is a good idea to focus on healthy drinks as a substitute for alcohol and to keep your body hydrated. 

Drinks that Support your Immune System

There are drinks that you can make yourself to support your immune system. 

Hot lemon and ginger tea – lemon and ginger are both full of antioxidants and vitamins, so drinking a cup every day can be good for your immune system.

Berry smoothie – berries are really good for you as they’re full of the vitamins your body needs.

Orange or grapefruit juice – a glass of your favourite citrus juice every morning with your breakfast will give your body some much-needed vitamin C

Alternatively, Captain Kombucha Original Bio-Organic Drink from Holland & Barrett is a delicious naturally bubbly drink with unique nutritional benefits. Every bottle is created and fermented with Captain Kombucha culture and only the highest quality certified BIO ingredients.


Keeping your immune system healthy and functioning is essential and one of the best ways to support your natural immunity is to nourish your body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive (the ones your body can’t make by itself).

There isn’t just one vitamin that helps to support the immune system, there are a few! Here are some of the best vitamins to keep topped up if you want a healthy functioning immune system:

Vitamin A is essential for the normal functioning of the immune system. Some sources of vitamin A include eggs, cod liver oil, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin C helps support the cellular functions needed for a healthy immune system. Oranges, orange juice, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, strawberries broccoli, and red/green peppers are some of the best sources.

Vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine) helps support our immune systems, as well as nervous system function, protein metabolism, and red blood cell formation. It’s usually found in animal products like pork, fish and eggs and plant foods like chickpeas, wholegrains, bananas, squash and more.

Vitamin B9 (Folic acid). Also known as folate, vitamin B9 plays an essential role in chemical reactions in the body that affect our immune system. Good sources of folic acid include broccoli, leafy green vegetables, and Brussels sprouts.

Vitamin B12 helps make nucleic acid and cell proteins associated with our immune system. You can find it in meat, fish, dairy, eggs, enriched nutritional yeast, fortified milks and mock meats.

Vitamin D helps to keep your immune system functioning normally. We make most vitamin D by exposing our unprotected skin to direct sunlight. 

Taking vitamins such as milk thistle in the form of Holland & Barrett Over Indulgence Milk Thistle Capsules or Overhang Revitalising Drink With Milk Thistle can help with recovery from excessive food and drink intake. Alternatively, take a multi-vitamin and multi-mineral formula tablet such as Holland & Barret Radiance Multi Vitamins & Minerals One a Day which provides all round nutritional support for adults.


One of the biggest ways you can support your immunity is to eat a healthy diet. Superfoods, which are so-called as they are believed to be nutritionally dense, contain a variety of nutrients such as vitamins, fibre and antioxidants that can benefit your overall health. These tips can help you get more superfoods into your diet:

Look at the colours on your plate. Is all of your food brown or beige? Then it is likely that antioxidant levels are low. Add in foods with rich colour – choose the veg you like!

Add shredded greens to soups and stir fries.

Try replacing your beef or poultry with tofu or another meat alternative.

Add berries to oatmeal, cereal, salads or baked goods. Start your day with a tasty bowl of porridge made from Prewetts Coarse Oatmeal which is available from Holland & Barrett and is high in natural fibre 

Make sure you have a fruit or a vegetable every time you eat, including meals and snacks.

Have a daily green or matcha tea. Try Heath & Heather Organic Imperial Matcha Tea Bags from Holland & Barrett. 

Make turmeric, cumin, oregano, ginger, clove, and cinnamon your go-to spices to ramp up the antioxidant content of your meals.

Snack on nuts, seeds (especially Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds) and dried fruit (with no sugar or salt added). Holland & Barrett Nut Mix contains Brazils, Cashews, Walnuts, Almonds and Pecans, all rich in vitamins, fibre and protein. 

Advisory Information:

Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking any medications or are under medical supervision, please consult a doctor or healthcare professional and always read the label before use.

Different Faiths Different Traditions

in Features

Although Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Christmas, Christians mostly see Christmas as a religious holiday occasion, while most non-Christians mark it as a cultural time of year.

With over 4,200 religions around the world, some of which celebrate Christmas and some of which don’t, we take a look at a few of the different celebrations and traditions that are celebrated by other faiths. 


Hanukkah meaning ‘dedication’ is an eight day event and commemorates when the Jews were able to reclaim their land from the Seleucids around 200 BC. It typically takes place between late November and late December, beginning on the 25th day of Kislev, which is the ninth month of the Jewish calendar.

Christmas sometimes overlaps with the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah where the customs are similar to that of Christmas and apart from sending cards to loved ones, and decorating the Christmas tree, you will find them lighting candles on the menorah (candelabra) and frying latkes (pan-fried potato pancakes). Although there are only eight nights of Hanukkah, there are nine branches on a menorah because the one at the centre is intended to hold the Shamash, a candle used to light the others. During each night of the festival, the family gathers around the menorah. On the first night the head of the family lights one candle with the Shamash and on the second night two candles are lit, and so on, until all eight candles are lit on the eighth night. Each night, gifts are given. In some families, children play a spinning game with a small four-sided wooden top called a dreidel. On each side of the top is one letter of NGHS, or Nes Godol Hoyoh Shom, which means “A great miracle happened there.”


Diwali, the five-day Festival of Lights, is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world and depending on the Lunar Calendar it is held in either October or November. It is widely associated by Hindus with the goddess Lakshmi, who symbolises three virtues: wealth and prosperity, fertility and abundant crops, as well as good fortune.  

The festival celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Festivities reach their peak on the third day, Diwali itself, when the occasion is marked with candles and lights in homes, businesses and temples and people dress up in brightly coloured new clothes and beautiful saris, shiny gold and silver jewellery and paint their skin with henna designs. 


Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan, which marks the month the prophet Mohammed is believed to have had their holy book, the Koran, revealed to him by God. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, being 11 to 12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. The celebration starts at the first sighting of the moon in Ramadan. 

Muslims cannot eat and drink at all in the daytime during this period, breaking their fast, called sawm, only when the sun sets and again before the sun rises. During the fast, no food or drink is consumed, and thoughts must be kept pure. Followers of Islam believe that fasting teaches patience, modesty, and spirituality.

Meals served before sunrise are called Suhoor, and after sunset they are called Iftar, and these meals are eaten with family or with the local community. Many Muslims observe Iftar by eating three dates, just as the prophet Mohammed did when he broke his own fast.

Suhoor and Iftar meals typically contain fresh fruits, vegetables, halal meats, breads, cheeses, and sweets. The days are spent in prayer and reflection and it is also a time when Muslims are encouraged to give to charity, strengthen their relationship with God and show kindness and patience


The fast ends with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, meaning ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The three day feast, often referred to as ‘Eid’, is a time when family and friends give thanks to God and usually begins with morning communal prayers with people congregating in mosques and at community centres where Muslims wearing their finest clothes greet each other by saying ‘Eid Mubarak’, which is Arabic for “Blessed Eid”. Prayers are traditionally followed by a big meal where gifts are shared.


Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American culture that takes place from 26th December to the 1st January, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually on the sixth day.

Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their homes with colourful objects and wear brightly coloured kaftans made from African cloth called kente, primarily in three colors: green (a symbol of Africa’s rich land and hope for the future), black (representing people of African descent), and red (which stands for their struggle).

At the centre of the celebration is the lighting of candles on the Kinara (a seven-stick candleholder) which is placed on a straw mat (mkeka), alongside a basket filled with fruits and vegetables (mazao), a communal cup (kikombe), and gifts (zawadi). Ears of corn (muhindi), one for every child in the family, are placed beneath the kinara. Kwanzaa celebrations often feature African drumming, dancing, and storytelling and, of course, a feast that may include black eyed peas and collard greens which are a type of large, leafy green vegetable


Buddhists do celebrate Christmas, but in a non-Christian way, focusing on helping the needy and giving back to others. On the 8th December Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, which is when Buddha achieved enlightenment beneath a bodhi (fig) tree. In many Buddhist homes a fig tree is decorated with lights to commemorate this event and a traditional meal of sweet, sticky rice will be eaten and heart shaped cookies are baked to symbolise and match the leaves of the fig tree. 

Sandy Burnett and all that jazz

in Features/Personal Profile

Musician and broadcaster Sandy Burnett came to Gibraltar in October to present his illustrated talk entitled ‘All That Jazz’ to The Arts Society at the Garrison Library.

“I’m a funny mixture of classical musician and jazz musician,” he tells me. “There are other kinds of musicians who train all their lives to be second oboe in an orchestra, and that is a fantastic profession, but it is not me. I am much more a bigger picture type person so that is why I gravitated towards talking about music as much as playing it because I really wanted to put music in context of where it comes from.”

Sandy explains that he didn’t come from a family of professional musicians, although there was always music at home, but that music has always come quite naturally to him. “At my boy’s school in Glasgow in the early 1970s we all were playing recorders, and from then there was a very enterprising Saturday string school that encouraged people to play string instruments in the classical setting,” he says. “It was very natural for me to play the violin but we were also taught music theory which gave me a very good classical grounding early on in my life.”

During his musical upbringing, Sandy credits the system of youth orchestras as a brilliant way of learning his craft. “In Glasgow there was a youth orchestra and we used to play symphonies and concertos conducted by professional conductors and with tutors from the big orchestras,” he states. “Then I went on to play with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, and it was a really important way into the making of music for me.”

It was in the 19070s whilst listening to BBC Radio programmes that weren’t just playing classical music that Sandy became interested in contemporary music of all kinds, including Jazz. “When I was in sixth form at school we discovered a double bass in the school music cupboard, and as I already played bass guitar and guitar I picked it up and taught myself how to play, and years later that is what I am still doing.”

Leaving Scotland to broaden his horizons, Sandy applied and got in to St. Catherine’s College Cambridge. “It was a lovely nurturing friendly place with a really mixed intake and we would go to lectures to study music, but the main activity was done outside the lecture room when we would write music, put on concerts ourselves, do theatrical shows and hold events, and sometimes they would be terrible but sometimes good,” he laughs. “I was still playing violin at this time, but I really don’t very much anymore, certainly not for money.”

During his twenties, Sandy became a theatre musical director, but didn’t feel it was the way forward for him. “Through a stroke of luck I pitched for and eventually got a job as a radio presenter/announcer for Radio 3 at the time when the ethos was changing in the mid-90s and they wanted to bring new people in who knew about music from the inside as players,” he says. 

“That gave me a lot of experience of how to convey the essence of a piece of music to listeners, and although a lot of them are connoisseurs who listen to the radio, particularly that radio station, a lot of them aren’t and I think without people like me having a go at doing that – there is a real risk that we will lose the audience altogether.”

Yet another ‘string to his bow’ is that of author. His book The Idler Guide to Classical Music came about after Sandy held weekly classes in The Idler bookshop in Notting Hill in London. “The literati would come in and I would talk to them about classical music and I realised that there was a gap in their knowledge, so the bookshop asked me to put it in book form to fit in with another series of Idler Guides.”

Lecturing for The Arts Society keeps him busy with around fifty talks a year to various societies across the UK and Mainland Europe. “I also take people to music festivals through cultural tour companies – mainly in the classical field but sometimes Jazz as well – and the rest of the time I compose and play music,” Sandy comments. “I think you can tell I am quite enthusiastic about what music can do.”

“For years I have been experimenting with bringing the first side of my work, which is talking about music, together with the second side of my work which is playing and conducting music, so I am doing discovery concerts and discovery events, going to Malta in October 2023 to collaborate with a choir there about the music of William Bird – Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite composer.”

Asked if he has any unfulfilled ambitions, Sandy replies: “to do more of the same but better – and also to see if I could bring my practical music making together with the insight side of things so that we can create discovery concerts and break down barriers within and also beyond music itself.”

The Chief Minister, The Hon Fabian Picardo. Looking Back, Looking Forward

in Features/Personal Profile

Like Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol where the author was attempting to communicate a radical political message in a form that would help to effect real change, Jo Ward talks to the Chief Minister about the past, present and future of Gibraltar. 


It has been documented that as a boy growing up in Upper Town the young Fabian Picardo said that it “always made me think about the huge potential that the bay of Gibraltar could have as long as we were able to work together with our Spanish neighbours.” 

Looking back, how does that make the Chief Minister feel now that he is the one that may be able to deliver on that thought?  “We are on the cusp of delivery on the Treaty,” he replies, continuing to say that delivering the Treaty would be a huge success on behalf of the negotiating team of the United Kingdom and the European Union and therefore of Whitehall and the Gibraltar Team that he has have had the privilege to lead. “It is also a success for our Spanish colleagues who have worked to get the European Union interested in this negotiation.”

“We are close enough that we might soon be able to say that we have agreed the principles of the Treaty, which will be quite something because the complexity of this agreement is something that those who complain we have taken too long really fail to understand.”

There aren’t many people who have been serenaded by The Hon. Fabian Picardo, but as he considers the successes of the past year he breaks into song with the first two lines of ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham!

“2021 wasn’t my toughest year in Government, but it was the toughest year I have ever had in my life,” the Chief Minister states. “We lost more Gibraltarians to one cause of death than we have ever lost even in war, we lost more of our revenue than we have ever lost, and we gave away more of our money than we have ever given away.”

“Our key achievements were communicating with people in respect of the pandemic, dealing with how to pay the additional BEAT payments that we paid to companies and ensuring that we gave additional assistance through not enforcing Government levies,” he says. “All of these things were much more complex than the simple and straight forward 2020 system where you were giving people money so that they could survive.”

“Not only were we bringing back communications with the rest of the world, at the same time we saw the European Union accept the start of negotiations between the UK on the issue of Gibraltar with a mandate that was completely unacceptable and which resulted in very difficult negotiations – so it was one hell of a year!”


The Chief Minister tells me that 2022 has been slightly better but still not easy. “You don’t sign up for a job like the one I do if you want is an easy ride,” he remarks. 

This has been the year when the Government has been accused by the Opposition of a ‘failure to deliver affordable housing estates’, and whilst The Hon. Fabian Picardo agrees that there is currently a shortage of affordable housing he comments that the Government are going to deliver more affordable housing in twelve years than the GSD ever did in sixteen. “It is important to judge a criticism against the reality of what objectively has been impossible – so if you look at the numbers of homes that we have delivered between 1988 and 1996 – and the number of homes that we have delivered now between 2011 and 2022 – the GSLP has delivered more affordable housing than any other party in the history of Gibraltar.”

He goes on to say that “we wanted to have delivered even more but of course the pandemic stopped us from breaking ground on two of our key projects – Bob Peliza Mews and Chatham Views – so once we deliver those we will be far ahead of any entity in the delivery of housing, so when you look objectively at the criticism that has been made and you judge it against the record of delivery, the Opposition should wash their mouth out with political soap and water!”

During the past year the cost of living and inflation rates have been rising – as they have in most places – but what has the Government done to help the people of Gibraltar who are struggling on a daily basis? “The key factor here has been the war in Ukraine and that is what has driven up two things, first of all the cost of energy and because energy pervades everything that we do, in particular in the things that we sell, it has pushed up inflation.”

“What we have done in Gibraltar which we have been keen to ensure people understand is that we have capped the increase in the price of energy in a way that is much more designed to deliver to working people than any other European democracy, or indeed anywhere else in the world that is not an oil producing state,” the Chief Minister says. “We have ensured that pensions have increased and we have ensured that the minimum wage has gone up – more than it has ever gone up in our history, and it has gone up by 8.5% up to £8.10.”

In June it was said in Parliament by GSD MP Roy Clinton that Gibraltar is on a “public finance knife edge” balanced only by increased borrowing that has buried the community “under a mountain of debt”.  Asked how Gibraltar will pull out of a deficit, the Chief Minister answers that the situation in which we find ourselves is akin to the situation that every European democracy, and indeed all states except the oil producing states, find themselves in.  “At the time of Covid we decided to pay everyone who had been locked down by us a salary based on the minimum wage less taxes and social insurance,” he states. “For staying home we gave you £1,100 for a few months, so the cost of that and funding the GHA through the Covid period, funding our companies directly where we gave them big payments and foregoing revenue, because we kicked forward tax liabilities and social insurance liabilities – the cost of that is in the region of £350 million plus.”

“All our politicians agreed that we should do this and now the question is am I going to be the one holding the baby of responsibility?”  The Chief Minister says that he is very happy to be because he was ready to do this two years ago, is ready to stand up having done it now and he is ready to work to pull us out of it now too.  “At the same time as we have raised the minimum wage, ensured that our pensioners get an increase in the state pension and welfare benefits and we have capped the cost of energy and we have also put up taxes by 2% for two years.”

Although he admits that will not fill the £350 million to £500 million pound deficit in our public finances, it will start to. “We will also put up other costs to ensure that we start to recover the costs of the Covid pandemic – it is essential that we do that – when I did that in June in my budget people complained that I was raising taxes and yet you look at what happened in the United Kingdom in September – when a different sort of budget was tried – which was simply to reduce things to create economic stimulation without providing for repayment of the public finances and we saw how the markets reacted to that.”  The Chief Minister says that the budget that we saw two weeks ago from the United Kingdom was a budget much more brutal than the one he had to deliver in June but was more akin to what he had done and that is what people called ‘responsible’. “In Gibraltar there is no austerity but there is a move to ensure that without austerity and in a responsible way we are bringing back stability to the public finances.”


The New Year will hopefully see the delivery of the new Airport Tunnel and the Chief Minister confirms that they have put out a tender for the management of the tunnel. “It is a very sophisticated system which operates to the current modern standards of how a tunnel should be created, run and managed but of course this one also goes under an airport so different issues arise and we are ready to see that start of operation in the first quarter of next year.”

There is also the prospect of the new football stadium. “This is a magnificent project that is going to produce the stadium that Gibraltar needs which will be a national stadium, so it can’t be compared to stadia which do not host Champions League matches,” the Chief Minister states. A cost of £100 million has been mentioned, but The Hon. Fabian Picardo clarifies this by saying that it is not only the cost of developing a stadium, but ancillary things such as apartments, a hotel and commercial facilities. “You need to be able to sell those ancillary things in a way that pays for the first one completely so that you have no capital outlay for the stadium,” going on to say that it is a way of creating jobs, economic growth and lasting facilities for Gibraltar. 

Looking further into the future, what is the Chief Minister’s message for the people of Gibraltar?

“We have been through the most difficult period in our modern history in the past thirty-six months, and we are now at a fork in the road,” he states. “With the Treaty our future will be bright with the United Kingdom and with access to Europe for goods and for people, but if we go down the other fork in the road and we have no Treaty our future is equally bright but with a different sort of economic activity and adapting ourselves to different rules on mobility.

“Given the security we have in the Freedom of Trade Agreement that we have with the United Kingdom – there is no reason not to be optimistic about Gibraltar’s future, no reason not to continue to believe that Gibraltar’s economy will grow, that socio-economically Gibraltar will continue to thrive.

Gibraltarians are not just here to stay, they here to grow and they have shown that Gibraltar belongs only to the people of Gibraltar who will make all decisions about its future. Whoever leads Gibraltar in the future needs to always look up towards where we are going and not down to those sniping at their ankles and the people of Gibraltar will then always prosper.”

Booste your immune system this autumn

in Features/Health & Beauty

Autumn is here and the winter months will soon be upon us, so preparing your immune system now will give you a better chance of getting through to the spring without suffering from severe bouts of cold and flu. If you do catch a cold and your immune system is strong, your symptoms are likely to be less severe, so here are some ways that you can help support your immune system.

Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is considered a superfood and the benefits of taking Manuka honey have been celebrated for centuries because of its anti-bacterial and healing properties. Manuka honey comes from the nectar of flowers on the Manuka bush in New Zealand.

Taking Manuka honey, whether straight from the spoon or stirred into your morning cuppa, can benefit your wellbeing. If you struggle with hay fever or seasonal allergies, you may find that Manuka honey can help with your symptoms. 

Manuka Doctor produces 100% pure New Zealand (it’s not mixed with variants from other countries) Manuka honey – approved and tested in the science lab. Try Manuka Doctor Manuka Honey Multifloral from Holland & Barrett. Bringing Manuka honey into your diet is a great way to support your immune system due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Some of the bad habits that we picked up during lockdown, such as poor diet choices and indulging in too many takeaway meals, can contribute to a weakened immune system. The result of indulging in unhealthy meals too often can lead to a low intake of nutrients that support immune system functioning, such as Vitamins A and C. 

Supplements can play a big role in supporting our immune system. Vitamin D is an important nutrient that contributes to the normal function of your immune system and helps maintain normal bone and muscle function. Even with natural exposure to the sun some people may still be at risk of low Vitamin D. Other natural sources of Vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, sardines, milk, eggs and liver. To make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D, take Holland & Barrett Vitamin D3 Tablets daily, preferably with meals.

Vitamin C, found naturally in a variety of fruit and vegetables, is also an important nutrient for normal energy yielding metabolism and reduction in tiredness and fatigue, but taking a supplement every day, such as Holland & Barrett Vitamin C & Wild Rose Hips Caplets can boost your immune system. 

Exercise is really important for maintaining the immune system, whether that be a brisk walk to the shops instead of driving, or a swim in the sea or the local swimming pool. Going to the gym can help you to hit those fitness goals, and taking Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Powder Chocolate from Holland & Barrett can help you reach your daily protein goals quickly and easily. Most people who do not exercise and eat a relatively healthy diet will reach their protein goals without really trying, but if you exercise, that number goes up and a protein powder could really help.

As many of us are back to having an active lifestyle again, it’s important that we let our body have enough time to rest and recover, allowing us to feel re-energised for the following day. B12 is known as one of the most important vitamins for normal energy-yielding metabolism and it also helps to maintain normal nervous system functioning. Your body doesn’t make Vitamin B12, so it’s important to get it from a balanced diet. Beef, pork, eggs, milk, cheese and fish are all good sources of B12. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, it may be that you aren’t able to get enough B12 as you are excluding those food groups. B12 can be found in some breakfast cereals and nutritional yeasts and in supplements such as Holland & Barrett Timed Release B12 tablets.

There are lots of other ways to supercharge your immune system. Smoothies can help you reach your five-a-day in no time. And while there aren’t many rules as to what you should put in your blender, there are recipes you can follow that are designed to contribute to the normal function of your immune function. Try adding different fruit and vegetables to support immunity, such as banana, clementine & mango or a delicious triple berry kiwi smoothie. If you’re not into smoothies, try a refreshing cup of hot lemon and ginger tea. Lemon and ginger are both full of antioxidants and vitamins, so drinking a cup every day can be good for your immune system. Alternatively, wake up to a cup of Pukka Ginger Joy Latte – a thrilling blend of ginger with turmeric and cinnamon to boost your immune system and a great way to start the day. 

It’s also a good idea to think about supporting your child’s immune system, especially if they seem to be constantly falling ill from colds and bugs. Making sure they eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day isn’t easy, especially if they’re a fussy eater. Try giving them Holland & Barrett Healthy Kids Multivitamins + Omega 3 Juicy Orange Capsules. Each capsule bursts to deliver a juicy orange flavour that they’re sure to love.

Christmas food traditions

in Features

What do you think of when you’re planning your Christmas meal? Many of us will be thinking of roast turkey with all the trimmings, a delicious vegetarian nut roast or maybe a baked side of salmon. 

Whatever your choice, it’s always interesting to find out the surprising festive and specific seasonal foods that are eaten around the globe during Christmas.

Let’s start in the antipodes.  


Whether you’ve been to Australia or not, we’ve all heard of the ‘barbie on the beach’ tradition where a feast including meat and seafood is cooked up for family and friends. It’s not surprising that with so many of Australia’s immigrants having come from England and Ireland that they have brought their own Christmas customs with them. Christmas pudding and mince pies are popular but Aussies have their own dessert tradition called White Christmas, especially enjoyed by children, which is an easy no bake slice made using ‘krispie’ breakfast cereal, coconut and dried fruit. 


Christmas in the Philippines is the longest Christmas celebration in the world, starting as early as September and ending in January. Lechon, taken from leche the Spanish word for milk, is slow roasted pig often stuffed with ingredients such as a bouquet of herbs and seasonings like leeks, garlic, salt, and lemongrass and served with a dipping sauce. 

Bibingka cakes are another Christmas treat in many parts of the Philippines. These moist rice cakes are made from glutinous rice, coconut, sugar, and margarine, and are often sold by street vendors. 


When it comes food eaten during the festive period in Guatemala, Tamales top the list as the most popular throughout the country, with over 250 regional varieties. The main ingredient for Guatemalan tamales is a dough (masa) made with corn flour mixed with water, wrapped around a variety of fillings, including chicken, pork, beef, cheese, and vegetables then typically steamed in a banana leaf wrapper, but they can also be boiled or baked. 

Guatemalan tamales are often served with a side of salsa or guacamole and there are several different types eaten including colarados (red) stuffed with a thick, flavourful tomato sauce, roasted red bell pepper strips, capers, green olives, and chicken, beef or pork, and negros which are darker and sweeter than their red counterparts due to the added chocolate, raisins, prunes and almonds. 


One of the things that Italians love most is to talk about food. Christmas food traditions vary throughout Italy from the north to the south. The Feast of the Seven Fishes (where families eat seven types of fish) is held on La Vigilia di Natale (Christmas Eve) and is a popular custom for Italian Americans and parts of Southern Italy, but isn’t generally practiced throughout the entire country,

Historically Natale (Christmas Day) was one of the few days of the year where people would eat expensive dishes made with meat. Nowadays, tradition hasn’t changed much and most Italians indulge in a feast of abundance, often several courses lasting for hours (sometimes all day). The meal begins with a classic antipasto spread featuring dry cured meats, salami, cheeses, olives, artichokes and more. The first course is pasta that varies by region. In Southern and Central Italy, they enjoy baked pasta, in Northern Italy, Lasagne Bolognese and filled pasta like ravioli is the preferred choice, followed by the main course of roasted veal, baked chicken, sausages or braised beef.  

Panettone (literally meaning ‘big bread’) is the classic sweet bread made with candied peel, sultanas, raisins, and dried fruits now enjoyed the world over, but especially in Italy where there won’t be a  Christmas table that this dessert cake isn’t found.    


The most popular Christmas Eve dinner is ribbe (pork ribs or pork belly, bone in), typically served with sauerkraut, red cabbage and/or sprouts. Lutefisk (cod cured in a food-grade alkaline solution known as lye), is rarely served other than during the festive season, as is Rakfisk, a Norwegian speciality which is trout that has been salted and fermented for up to a year. 

South Africa

The southern hemisphere Christmas meal is either turkey, duck, roast beef or suckling pig with yellow rice, raisins and vegetables, followed by Christmas pudding or a traditional South African dessert called Malva, which is just like a steamed sponge reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding, best served with custard. 


Known for their culinary expertise, the French have historically had their festive spread on Christmas Eve, known as Le Réveillon de Noël. For some of the wealthier French a decadent seafood platter laden with lobster, oysters and scallops and garnished with fresh truffles and caviar was a necessary custom. Other classic holiday dishes include game meat such as doe, wild boar, venison or pheasant and for dessert bûche de Noël, or chocolate Yule log cake.


Finally, we go to Japan where unbelievably the must-have for Christmas is fried chicken from fast food chain KFC! Ever since the 1970s when KFC ran a successful Christmas marketing campaign it has been the food of choice for the Japanese and it is rumoured that families reserve their festive ‘Party Barrel’ meal up to two months in advance.  

What will be on the menu for your Christmas meal this year? Whatever it is, although the food is important it is more about the joy of sharing food and spending time with friends and family. 

Hand Painted Christmas gifts from Kim Morris

in Features

Are you looking for that unique Christmas gift this year, maybe something a little different to the normal presents found in the high street? 

Kim Morris is a talented artist and crafts person who can help you add some personality to your gifts that kids and adults alike will love. 

After attending Southport College of Art, Kim went on to do a graphic design and photography course. She then went on to work for various makeup companies, including Estée Lauder, before undertaking a beauty therapy course. Her makeup talents saw her competing in body painting competitions at the Blackpool Winter Gardens and other venues around England. 

Tenerife beckoned in the 1990s where Kim ran fashions shows in some of the top hotels on the island and she also taught guests how to hand-paint swimwear and leisure clothing at some of the hotel holiday clubs.  

Kim sold her handcrafted items, including children’s hand-painted shoes and denim clothing, at Los Christianos and the old Torviscas market. She also made a name for her hand designed wedding shoes for brides and bridesmaids as well as silk garments, so get in touch if you would like to order some exclusive custom-painted pieces.

Fast forward to today and Kim can customise kid’s canvas shoes or sneakers with a one-of-a-kind personalised design. How about their favourite cartoon character or superhero? Either you provide the shoe or she can. 

Kim can also make-to-order cushions with an original design of your choice. If you give a custom handmade gift to a child, friend or loved one, you will be giving them a personalized gift that they’ll always cherish. 

Place your orders for Xmas now to make sure you get the size and design you want. Kim can be found at the Ocean Village Market here in Gibraltar every Sunday.

Tech Guide: 5 Gift ideas for 2022

in Features

 Apple Watch Ultra

The Apple Watch Ultra has everything you love about the original series, but is built to serve those who are harder on their equipment. Great for athletes, first responders, or others who work extended shift times, the Ultra model has a battery lasting up to 36 hours, or up to 60 hours on low-power mode. Additionally, the corrosion-resistant watch face is made with a titanium casing and features more accessible buttons, plus it offers up to 100 meters worth of water resistance. 

Several apps have been upgraded as well, including the GPS, compass, and workout app, which now features “advanced metrics” like Heart Rate Zones and Running Form. Every single model has the option to add on cellular service, too. Anyone for a run through the woods?

LARQ Self-Cleaning Water Bottle

What’s better than an aesthetically pleasing water bottle to cover in all of your favorite stickers? One that also sanitizes itself, for starters. This self-cleaning bottle uses ultraviolet (UV) light to sanitize the water inside and neutralize bacteria on the inner walls—all you have to do is tap the button to start the process, but it activates itself every couple of hours, too. Batteries should last you up to a month, but they’re easily rechargeable with the included MicroUSB cord.  

The stainless steel bottle comes in six different colors and two different sizes, but each combination is double-walled and insulated to keep your water cold for an entire day (or hot for up to 12 hours, if you’re into that kind of thing).

Bluetooth Beanie

For the outdoorsy types in your life, this beanie is a thoughtful choice. It comes with Bluetooth headphones inside of it, making it a great accessory to have on hand for chilly winter hikes or early morning runs. And the headphones are removable, making the hat easily washable. Another reason to appreciate it? The batteries are good for up to 20 hours of use. 

Rocketbook Fusion Smart Reusable Notebook

For the students or other furious notetakers in your life, this sustainable notebook comes in 14 different cover colours with reusable sheets. Using the specialized pen and companion app, you can upload your notes to any cloud service of your choosing, and then wipe the pages clean to start fresh again. 

With 42 pages total across seven different layouts (including a task list, planner, calendar pages, lined sheets, and more), you’ll be able to track whatever you need easily, without wasting trees to do so. 

The Original Rubik’s Connected

This Bluetooth-equipped Rubik’s Cube pairs with an app to help your giftee finally learn how to solve the seemingly never-ending puzzle. The app will show them the orientation of the cube in real-time and tracks their stats as they progress. 

It also comes with mini-games, going above and beyond the old fashioned Rubik’s experience. Once your gift recipient has upped their game, they can also opt to connect with other players around the world and compete against them to see who can finish first.

Jamie Reid

in Features

Insight talks to award-winning author Jamie Reid, a lifelong punter and racing enthusiast, ahead of his visit to the Rock as part of the Gibraltar Literature Week. He is also a journalist having written for the Guardian and before that the Independent On Sunday, and for ten years he was a regular columnist for the Financial Times magazine How to Spend It, where he wrote the Smart Money column as well as feature articles which he continues to write to this day.  

Born in 1954 in Kent, Jamie Reid’s passion for horse racing and gambling was instilled in him by his grandmother. “She was a gambler and owned shares in some racehorses in the 1920s and 30s and she used to take me racing when I was growing up,” he says. “I loved the atmosphere of racecourses like Brighton, Lingfield and the Epsom Downs (home of the Derby), and the raffish combination of the toffs and the spivs, and because they were some of the few places in England where you could encounter that in that era there was always a sense of illicit pleasure about it.”

After school, Jamie went to read English Literature at University College Oxford and then went on to Stanford University in California. “I decided that I didn’t want an academic life,” he tells me.  “I was always passionate about the theatre and I had done a lot of student writing and acting when I was at university, going on to do some acting professionally as well as writing for The Stage.”

It was whilst he was working as a resident writer at The Young Vic Theatre in the late seventies that Jamie met some independent publishers from Scotland who were fascinated by the whole world of horse racing and gambling. “They were looking to try and do a novel about horse racing and gambling that wasn’t just a straight Dick Francis take on it, and I wrote a book called Easy Money that came out in 1985 which turned out to be the beginning of my writing career and that led to me getting employed as a journalist writing about racing, and I have been doing that on and off ever since,” he explains. 

Agreeing that he is drawn to the darker side of life, both his novels and non-fiction books cover the seedier side of racing. “I have always loved stories about people who are neither wholly good nor wholly bad and there were a lot of characters like that in the racing and gambling world that captivated me,” he comments. “There was always a feeling that some of the scams, cons and attempts to pull off betting coups at the expense of bookmakers was something that you instinctively wanted to cheer on rather than disapprove of.”

Around 2011 Jamie was fascinated about the true stories of racing chicanery and corruption that seemed far more interesting than anything you could make up.  “I was lucky enough to strike up a partnership with a very splendid publisher called James de Wesselow – the driving force behind Racing Post Books – and I put to him this story called Doped which was the account of one of the biggest doping scandals in British racing history in 1962 featuring bookie Bill Roper, a married man with a Swiss mistress, who needed extra funds to juggle two lives. “The story threw a light not just on the racing of that period but on the whole social scene in Britain when the sport of racing was still governed by the Jockey Club who were predominantly elderly white gentlemen with little knowledge of the underworld or betting,” Jamie explains. “For many years Bill Roper and his accomplices ran rings round the Jockey Club and it was only when they tried to dope a horse belonging to the Queen Mother that the enquiries became much more serious and the Jockey Club realised that they needed the assistance of Scotland Yard to catch the murderous London gangsters.”

Apart from assiduous research, Jamie says that he was lucky enough to meet elderly gentlemen who had been alive at the time who remembered the protagonists. “They rather liked being mentioned in a book and loved sharing their tales, giving me their first-hand accounts, and fortunately the non-fiction book, which read more like a novel, went down very well and won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award in 2013.” 

One of these gentlemen was a professional gambler back in the day who had worked for a bookmaker. “When I went to see him in his London flat he wasn’t living in the most glamorous circumstances by any means, but he had dressed up very smartly in his tailor made suit and tie and looked very dapper,” Jamie states.

Another helpful source of information was the bookmaker Victor Chandler, someone else who is known for his sartorial style, who Jamie got to know when he was working as a journalist in the 1990s. “Victor was great fun and very good company and he put me in touch with people who had known not only his father, who was also called Victor Chandler, but also his legendary grandfather Bill Chandler who died in 1946 who was a big-time player in the 30s and quite a rogue.”

The idea for Put Your Life On It, the authorised biography of Victor Chandler, was mooted around the end of the Nineties when Jamie went to interview VC (as everybody called him) at the RAC Club in London after the announcement that he was moving his business to Gibraltar. “He regaled me with stories about his family history and at the end of our meeting I asked him if he had ever thought of doing a book about this,” Jamie says. VC responded that he really should do it sooner rather than later because otherwise some of the old characters who had known his father and grandfather wouldn’t be alive any more. “It took us another twenty years or so to actually accomplish this and the book, chronicling the social history of a betting business family for over 100 years, was finally published in 2021.”

For those of us who don’t know the term ‘put your life on it’, Jamie explains that it’s a race track expression. “In the great days before the internet when race courses, particularly at the weekend, had big crowds of spectators, most of them gamblers, and there was a lot of animation, noise and activity, where bookies would have Tic-tac men relaying the odds, people would sometimes run up to each other at the last minute and say “so-and-so’s backing this horse” indicating that they had been given the nod from the trainer and ‘you can put your life on it’!

Victor Chandler is known as the most recognised face in bookmaking. Jamie says that if you had been a racing lover and enthusiast in the last twenty or thirty years, although he may not have been equally recognisable to the public at large, you would immediately know who Victor was if you saw his face. For many people, Victor Chandler is indelibly linked to the BetVictor TV commercials which Jamie thinks were some of the worst and unfunniest TV commercials ever seen. “I don’t think that VC would disagree with that,” Jamie laughs. 

The fact that Put Your Life On It is an authorised biography meant that Jamie was able to talk to members of VC’s family and to people who worked for him. “At the end of this book we leave the possibility that there will be a sequel where we might go into aspects of his story which we haven’t told which are more personal,” he remarks. 

“Victor is just a fund of very amusing anecdotes about his misspent youth, which I identified with, because he got chucked out of school at one point and I nearly got thrown out of my school for being caught in a betting shop in school uniform, and we both had that shared sense of the fact that a day at the races thirty years ago was somehow breaking the rules in a very enjoyable way – and that permeated all his conversations about his life.”

Jamie Reid’s fascination with the shadier side of life can be witnessed in his book, yet another true story, entitled Monsieur X: The incredible story of the most audacious gambler in history, which features the story of a handsome, charming and well-educated French professional gambler from an aristocratic family called Patrice des Moutis who took on the French state in the 60s and 70s. “He kept winning so much money they changed the rules to try and outwit him but ended up driving him into the arms of the French Mafia.” Jamie has constant hopes that the book might be turned into a film.

“My latest book is called Bandit Country and will be published next June,” he states. It is about the boom in one armed bandit gambling slot machines in the early 60s and about two Londoners who went up to the north east of England  where they made a fortune selling slot machines to the Working Men’s Clubs. “These machines had actually come from the Mafia in America who had a surplus and who were very happy to supply people in the UK, and these guys made so much money out of it – a lot of it very dodgy but there was no law against it at the time – that they were able to open nightclubs in Newcastle, briefly known as the Las Vegas of the north.”

“Then it all went terribly wrong when one of their collectors was found shot dead in his Jaguar on a winter’s morning in a small Durham mining village in 1967 – and that became known as the one arm- bandit murder and the story is all about that and the effect that had on their empire,” Jamie explains. 

For more fascinating stories you can see Jamie Reid on Saturday 12th November at 10 am at the John Mackintosh Hall Theatre. Tickets are available from   

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