Column: Janey Lee Grace finds chocolate can save the day

PUBLISHED: 14:10 24 July 2010 | UPDATED: 15:03 20 February 2013

When it comes to choosing an original gift, Hertfordshire Life columnist Janey Lee Grace finds it's not always as easy at it sounds...

TRICKY coming up with ideas for gifts isn't it? We've no sooner gotten over Valentine's Day then Mother's Day looms, followed swiftly by a ridiculously early Easter. My mum, bless her, is almost 80 as well and definitely will not be wanting a gift of yet another 'dustabrah' for the mantelpiece, so I had to rack my brains for an 'experience'.
You'll have seen all the ads for 'adventure days' I'm sure but somehow the thought of my old mum trying to bungee jump didn't quite get me reaching for the credit card even though they say all ages and abilities welcome.
I did the usual of course - flowers, though this time from a lovely Organic flower company (trust me I'm not just being trendy - you won't believe the difference) and I knew that my sister was taking her out to the theatre for the night but I wanted something else... something unusual and memorable.

A baffling dilemma
At first I thought of sending her for a spa day or for a facial and manicure but while I could reel off several of the excellent salons and spas we're blessed with in Hertfordshire I hadn't got a clue about Dorset where she lives. I also had to bear in mind my reputation as 'queen of holistic recommendations' and it simply wouldn't do to be bullying everyone else into using natural skincare products and then sending my old mum off for a toxic mix of parabens and perfumes.
Talking holistic pampering, I must tell you about my new find, and right on my Herts doorstep - a natural non toxic nail polish and treatment and yes, even a mobile nail technician to go with it - what joy! I promised to give her a plug, so check it out if, like me, one whiff of that regular nail polish knocks you for a six!

Time for help
Back on the task in hand, I posted a message on my very own forum asking if anyone had an idea for a holistic, healthy but fun present for an 80-year-old good-time loving lady. All kinds of ideas came in including links to luxurious hotel spas and gift vouchers for personal shopping.
One member suggested I do what she does every year and book a night at a central London hotel with a terrace, just so you can stand and look over the rooftops singing 'chim chimeney...' but it was while browsing other topics on the forum I came across a message titled 'Give me chocolate ... NOW'.
I'm sure I've waxed lyrical about my fascination with chocolate before, a gene inherited from my mum no doubt. I recall a conversation with the president of the Ladies Circle who is convinced that chocolate can be included as one our five portions of daily fruit and veg as it's a bean and therefore veg. Nice try Michelle, and I'm sure you're right up to a point, but the nutritional benefits are a conversation for another day.

Forget the sugar
I have though recently become a fan of 'Raw chocolate' and trust me it's very different from the sugary, milky additive-laden stuff we buy on a regular basis. I gave Steve Wright and Tim Smith on our Radio 2 show a square or two of raw chocolate live on air and I was jolly glad it wasn't TV from the look on their faces. It's a kind of earthy taste and perhaps a bit of a 'grower' but good nonetheless.
But the bee's knees is Raw Chocolate Pie from
Now you're talking - it's a kind of bar (pie would suggest a huge plateful) of raw chocolate sweetened with agave nectar and enhanced with nuts and seeds. Divine! And they are another good fair-trade brand of course.

Close to perfect
For Mum my mind was on the sugary sin there's no doubt, so I googled 'chocolate in Dorset' and there was my answer in all its glory. Gift - sorted. I've now coughed up for my mum to go on a chocolate making course, with a professional chocolatier I'll have you know. OK, it's not a trip to the Trevi fountain but she'll get to eat from the chocolate one. Apparently she will learn the craft and make her own collection of Belgian chocolates to take away.
Oh what bliss. I was looking for holistic - well I think it sort of ticks that box, chocolate is a delight for all the senses - and I wanted fun - it will definitely be that. And I wanted healthy...ah yes.... I'm reminded again that we are all 'imperfect'. I may just need to pay her a visit with four ravenous children straight after that. And after all that chocolate we'll both be needing a trip to a holistic spa...

A moment of Grace
Janey Lee Grace is a mum-of-four and lives in Herts. She
is the author of Imperfectly Natural Woman and Imperfectly Natural Baby and Toddler.

Janey's tips and recommendations can be found at

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