— Ellie Broughton


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Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, and the film that followed, spurred a new generation of women to tackle huge walks like the 2,650km-long Pacific Coastal Trail. But one walker had already set out on another, much longer, walk when Reese Witherspoon hit the big screen.

Sarah Jackson had just finished her sociology degree when she embarked on one of the most gruelling anti-gap years imaginable. Some 10,600km later, though, she’s smiling: at the end of this month, aged 24, she’ll become the first woman to walk across Canada from coast to coast. (She still hasn’t read or seen Wild, though).

She often walked with a partner, and admits she took breaks to go home for Christmas, but has essentially spent two years living outdoors, out of a backpack, spending much of her time alone.

Sarah was kind enough to talk to me about her trek for Refinery29’s UK site. Read more here.

If you’re interested in reading more work I’ve done for the site, check out:

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05xejnbRAn Elle article about the daily diet of a so-called health expert had foaming at the mouth, so I wrote about it for Independent Voices, the comment site for The Independent. 

It was the irony that first caught everybody’s eye.

“Bacon,” one person tweeted – enough to catch anyone’s attention. “Her name is Bacon.”

Amanda Bacon runs a juice bar in LA and was just featured on the website for US Elle. It was a ‘day in the life’ feature about what she eats – or, to be more accurate, what she doesn’t eat.

Because Amanda Bacon’s ‘diet’ consists of only a handful of solid food every 24 hours. She consumes (spoiler alert): tea, a warm drink, veggie ‘shots’, juice, bee pollen, cashews, another juice ‘shot’, raw courgette and olives, more tea, coconut yoghurt, fresh and dried fruit, hemp milk, seaweed and mushroom broth, and almond milk. At bedtime, she eats chocolate made from raw cacao, mushrooms, and rice protein.

At one point she literally eats dust. ‘Brain dust’, to be exact: it’s hard to tell from the website what’s in this supplement for nut milk. My guess is, not brains.

Click here to keep reading. You might also want to read other rants, raves and disclosures:

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“Six months ago I wouldn’t have agreed to be interviewed for a newspaper – absolutely no confidence there at all,” Paul confides.

“I’ve been using tools all my life, so that’s not much of an issue, but the main difficulty is actually dealing with people. At one point I just wouldn’t go near people. Now I can at least talk to them. I’m not exactly fond of it yet but I’m not running away from it either.”

I spoke to Paul about the charity project Restoration Station – a furniture restoration course for people going through rehab. Click here to see the feature in full on the Hackney Citizen’s website.

I worked as the features editor at the Citizen in 2015, covering stories including:

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I was lucky enough to interview NHS volunteer Dr Gordon Gancz about a day in his life at the Ebola Treatment Centre in Port Loko, Sierra Leone. 

Click here to see the article as it appeared in Pulse magazine


I wake up in my own room and eat a bowl of cereal. I hope the milk hasn’t gone sour; the people who run the staff accommodation turn the generator off at night to save power and during the day the fridges warm right up – temperatures can reach 32°C here.

I’d never worked abroad before this, but I’ve stayed in army accommodation as a civilian adviser to the armed services. But unlike that experience, most of the time the shower here doesn’t work, and the laundry service brings your clothes back smelling worse than when you sent them.


I have a meeting with heads of department to plan the day, then make the three-mile trip through the bush to the Ebola treatment centre (ETC). It’s called a ‘treatment’ centre, but as there’s not yet a cure, all we can do is keep patients rehydrated (as per WHO guidelines). I am responsible for staff health so I travel in an ambulance fitted to treat both Ebola and non-Ebola illness, including traumas (there’s a high risk of road accidents here).


Arriving at the ETC, I begin the elaborate handwashing routine. It certainly lays to rest any anxiety I had about the infection control part of CQC inspections. We use some of the operating procedures we developed in York where we trained (casualty evacuation plans, for example), but others we adapted when we came over. I also take my temperature because I’ve established a practice where no staff member with a temperature over 38°C is allowed inside in case of ill health (such as malaria, Ebola, or a stomach upset).

But when you’re dressed up in an Ebola suit and two masks, goggles, a snood hood, a rubber apron, wellington boots and two pairs of gloves, you get incredibly hot. Just yesterday, a member of staff came out of the red zone (where Ebola patients stay) having been in for an hour instead of the recommended 35-40 minutes. He collapsed, so I had to resuscitate him – undress him, spray him down, get his legs in the air, try to restore his blood pressure and pump him full of rehydration salts in the hope he didn’t fit.

In the red zone, we use a buddy system to watch out for one another. We also write our names on our suits so patients and colleagues know who’s inside them.

We currently have 12 patients, but this will go up to 20, then 100 when we operate at full capacity.


Twenty new doctors arrive from Denmark, who will take over from us when our stint ends. I explain our systems, what their lives are going to be like and give them top-up training about protective equipment. Then they start shadowing us in the red zone.


As the lead for staff health, I have a very varied workload. For instance, yesterday I saw an impacted wisdom tooth, secondary syphilis, appendicitis and a patient who had jumped off a moving bus.  I also visit the government hospital to diagnose and prescribe for patients discharged from the ETC. Many survivors have other health problems after Ebola, such as the nine-year-old girl who is now being treated for bilateral pneumonia.


I visit the Command and Control centre with the police commander, a colonel and the local Royal Army Medical Corps leader. We collate key data, such as the number of people who’ve been picked up that day, the number of dead, the number of positive tests and the burial report.


After consultations with sick staff, I eat supper. I don’t miss English food that much but I can’t deny I was pleased to receive the coffee and Stilton that my son and daughter posted to me for Christmas.


A four-day lockdown has just begun to keep people off the roads while the army and police go door to door to find people with Ebola-like symptoms. They’re trying to stop the virus spreading – many are reluctant to seek treatment. A lot of people get infected after washing dead relatives before burial – whole families have been wiped out in this way.


I go to bed, but I’m on call and have had to deal with something every night so far – thankfully just over the phone.


If you’re interested in health features, you might also like to read about how NHS treatment will change by 2050.

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New waves of wearables are changing the way we exercise, but intuition remains the smartest ‘app’ we have for monitoring our own health. I spoke to a UK GP, a gadget guru and a professor of wearable technology for a supplement that ran in The Times to find out how personal tech might reduce our risk of CVD in the next twenty years.

I discovered that wearables are unlikely to be a solution for everyone and are only likely to have a short-term benefit. Dr Deborah Lupton, a sociologist who researches self-tracking and digital health technologies at Australia’s University of Canberra, points out that most people who buy apps and wearables are already interested in voluntarily managing their own health and don’t use the apps or devices for long.

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