Thursday, 19 October 2017


Good Morning to you,

Oh my, oh my.... this English weather of ours.

I had fully intended to update you on the progress we have made in our garden, but the weather interceded and I had to change my plans. The rain just keeps pouring from the sky and it seems to be never ending.

.... and on Monday we experienced some very strange weather.  At about 2.00 pm  an eerie haze appeared in the sky, it felt more like dusk than early afternoon. We watched for a while, thinking the haze would pass, but it stayed for an hour or more.  Later that evening we discovered the haze was due to sand from the Sahara Desert, travelling on the wind, mixed with debris from the dreadful fires raging in Portugal. It was certainly an odd thing to witness.

Although this is not the first time we have experienced this phenomenon, as a similar thing happened when we lived in Cyprus. During October, we would often wake to discover trees, shrubs and paths were covered in fine red dust and it was a devil to remove from the car, but interestingly the dust never effected the sky.

Then yesterday we endured the last throws of Hurricane Ophelia. I still went to my sewing group, but my goodness, it was difficult to walk, as the wind took my breath away.  Then today the rain has poured from the skies.  I was keeping my fingers crossed for a break in the weather, but it didn't appear.  So I had to have a re-think what I was going to do today.

I was sat on my settee, looking out at my garden, when the penny dropped.  I could not show you my garden, but I could show you the art work around my home.  It was the colours from the garden that gave me the inspiration.

Now art work is subjective.  You might love the pictures which hang on my walls, or you might not, but what I think you will agree is that our collection is very eclectic.

We are all very different when it comes to deciding what to hang on our walls. Some people, find that wallpaper provides the colour and interest they are looking for, whereas I  prefer adding pictures  and objet d'art, as each piece provides a memory of our years together. I can look at a piece and remember exactly where we were when it was bought.

Our art work is mostly inspired by our travels and sometimes from rummaging around junk shops. It is amazing what can be found. Sometimes the most perfect picture can be found in the most unexpected of places.... such as a charity shop. Maybe the frame is wrong, but the picture is perfect.  This can be easily remedied by replacing the frame to fit in with your decor. I genuinely never tire of each and every picture which hangs on our walls, each individual piece  is still loved, as much as it was the first moment it was brought into our home.  The pictures may change their placement, but to be honest that does not happen very often, once something has found its home, it tends to stay there.

For instance, I love hanging pictures in my kitchen, if there is a space, then it is filled. You can tell that I am not a minimalist. My current kitchen is not as large as my previous kitchen, but there is still plenty of wall space for me to cover,

and this vibrant Matisse print is perfectly placed in my new kitchen. I love this print because it reminds me of the days when we lived in Cyprus.  It really fills my heart with joy when I look at it, as the blue is the colour of the summer Mediterranean sky and the lemons remind me of when we grew our own lemons.  I remember the first time I made houmous (hummus), I picked the lemons from our tree, I squeezed them to release their juice, forgetting how juicy fresh Cypriot lemons were, yes you've guessed it,  I added far too much lemon juice and my houmous (hummus), well, it felt as if I was actually sucking on the lemon.

My new kitchen is an L shape kitchen, so I have plenty of space to enjoy these Cambodian dancers by Auguste Rodin. Whilst I  cook I can imagine the dancers swishing their sampots as they dance.

I love how they have been drawn, they are almost ethereal. As I love dancing around my kitchen these are the perfect prints to be hung on my kitchen wall.

This photograph makes me happy and sad at the same time.  If you have ever visited a Middle Eastern spice market, then you will know how vibrant the colours are, but there is a tinge of sadness to this photograph, because the market is almost empty, it makes me think of all the displaced families in the Middle East.  This should be a spice market which is filled with noise, with people busy buying their spices.

.... and in complete contrast, I did say I had an eclectic mix of pictures, are these two beauties,

which I bought in Italy. They are both hand painted and the frames are handmade in wood.   Because they were handmade, I love the thought that no two paintings are the same.  I adore the large frames because they make me feel as if I am looking through a window, actually, I would say I would be discreetly looking between the beautiful plants sitting on the windowsill.

Now this piece of art, you may love as I do, or you may dislike it, as members of my family do.  This was bought in New Dehli from a cooperative. Villagers would bring in their goods and the cooperative would sell them and make sure that each piece was priced fairly.  The brass has been hand beaten to create this beautiful design and I love the fact that the beauty of the brass is offset by the dark wood.

I loved visiting India, it is such a beautiful country with so much colour and vibrancy, but it is also a country with huge poverty levels. When I look at the picture it reminds me of the extreme poverty I witnessed and each day it reminds me to be thankful for the quality of my life.... it also reminds me to focus on what I have and not what I wish I had. 

Now these beautiful young ladies were bought on a visit to France.  I loved this print at first sight and knew exactly where I wanted to hang it.... but there was a problem.... there were two different prints which I loved as much as the other.  But as is always the way, money comes into the equation and I could not afford 2, so I had to choose which one to buy.  So after much consideration and a lot of mind changing, I chose these two lovely girls.

We brought the print home and the minute it was placed on the wall, we fell in love with it, all over again.

.... but I also had the perfect space for,

this beautiful girl who was left behind.  Now I was not the only one who loved these prints.... George did.  So a month or so later, George decided to go to France for a day trip,  in the hope that this young lady was still waiting for us.... and do you know she was still hung in the shop waiting to be bought.  It was destiny, she was meant to come and live with us.

.... and the final piece of work I want to show you is,

this 1960s inspired piece of applique and embroidery.... I absolutely love it.  I was a teenager during the late '60s and I vividly remember the use of oranges and golds.  In 1970 these colours were popular for the home as well as clothing. I remember having wallpaper with large orange and yellow flowers, I think this was the only time we had wallpaper on our walls. That was a feast for the eyes.... popular then, but nowadays I could not imagine living with such bright colours, although I do believe they are coming back into fashion.  Phyllis said when she visited our first home, the living room was so vibrant, it felt like she was visiting a discotheque.... do we even use such a word nowadays. 

.... and guess where I found it?

At a car boot sale a couple of years ago.  It was propped up against an old mangle.  Well of course the mangle caught my eye first, because I thought it would be the perfect garden ornament, but the vendor was asking far too much money for it. Which was a shame because George remembered, as a child, his grandmother using a mangle in their backyard and he had the same thought, as I did, that it would be lovely to have climbing roses scrambling through the mangle, but it was not meant to be. So I decided to walk over to look at this piece of embroidery which was propped up against the mangle and I loved it.  

At first glance it looked like a 'naive' piece, but in actual fact it is a well thought out piece.  When I looked on the back of the frame it came from the Grant Iveson Ltd Gallery in Whitley Bay. There is a lot of light and shade in the piece, which, disappointingly,  I have not been able to capture.

I am sorry that you can see the roof of my conservatory, but I tried every which way to take a good photograph.  I propped it up on the end of the sofa, whilst I lay down so that you would not see my reflection.... but that did not work.  I lay it on the floor, again that did not work.  I lent it against my unit, but the vibrant colours could not be seen, so I tried my trusty mannequin, my wicker chair, and whilst you can see the reflection of the conservatory roof, I feel it doesn't detract too much from the design and the colours are perfect.

Actually, each piece I have shown you, had to be removed from its usual home, because of the reflections which could be seen in the glass.  I really must change the glass to non-reflective glass.... maybe someday I will get around to it.

This is just a small proportion of art work I love and I wonder what you feel it says about me.

It is an eclectic mix, but each and every piece I absolutely love.

How about you, what sort of art work do you love? and have you changed your style over the years?

Take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.

As Always

Thursday, 12 October 2017


Good Morning to you,

Are you a casual shopper?

Do you enjoy wandering around the shops, for nothing in particular, but to see if there is anything which takes your fancy?

I have to tell you, my days of casual shopping are long gone.

When I was younger, I loved meeting up with my friends to shop.  I shopped with Phyllis and I shopped with Natasha and Danielle and still do when they come to visit, but nowadays I tend not to go to the town as much as I used to.

As I've grown older, I tend to make a note of the items I am running low on.  For instance, if I see that my favourite bottle of perfume is running low, then I write it down in my notepad. I then wait until a few more items have been added, before I take a trip into town.

.... and last Thursday afternoon, I checked my notebook,

and discovered, 

there were enough items on my list to warrant a visit to Newcastle.  I asked George if he fancied a trip into town the following day.  Although before he agreed, he did  check to make sure I was not buying him clothes. When I replied, absolutely not, only then did he agree to come with me.

Now you may be wondering about the 'absolutely not', it does sound rather harsh, but you will understand, when I tell you, that George is a dreadful clothes shopper. He loves wearing nice clothes, but he is an absolute nightmare when it comes to shopping for his clothes, and for someone who is so easy going it really doesn't make sense.  What I have come to realise is, when we were both working, George was super busy and really did not want to think about the clothes he wore, so I took on the role of buying George's clothes.  I would show George the clothes I had bought and he would happily put them on. Although having said that, I do remember on one occasion, I had bought George a pair of brown casual shoes, nothing fancy, just something casual to wear with his corduroy trousers.... yes he loves cords. Well, when I presented the shoes to George, he really did not like them, in fact I would go so far as to say George hated them. 

The offending shoes were relegated to the back of the wardrobe, never to see the light of day, for about 8 years.... honestly I kid you not, 8 years. They were brand new when we moved to Cyprus and they were in the same condition when we returned to England. So a couple of years ago, I decided it was time to do something about the shoes, they really needed to be moved from the back of the wardrobe.  I mentioned to George that I had found the said shoes and if he was not going to wear them, I would donate them to charity.  After all 8 years is a really long time to have a pair of shoes languishing unworn in the back of the wardrobe. George took the shoes and said 'Those are nice, I'll try them on'.  Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather, he really didn't remember them.  I held my tongue as George put on the shoes.  He walked around the room and said 'I like these, they are really comfortable' and so I couldn't help myself, I asked 'How about the colour?' I know, naughty wasn't I,  to which George replied, 'Actually they are nice, I think I'll wear them with my cords'.  Yes he really said that.  Now it could have gone either way, I could have mentioned the fact that George had made such a hullabaloo 8 years ago about the shoes and that was why they remained unworn, but I chose not to follow that tack, because  if I did, I think there would have been a few choice words spoken. So I decided to bite my tongue and say nothing,  so that peace and harmony could remain in the Bryson household.  Although I couldn't help myself, I had to vent my frustration somewhere, so I mentioned what had happened to the girls, who both laughed and said 'That's dad for you!' They then said, 'Don't feel down, you haven't lost your knack, remember, you really do know what dad likes to wear, even if it takes dad a few years to realise it.   So with a smile on my face I left it at that.

So Friday morning arrived and we hopped onto the bus and enjoyed a 30 minute journey into Newcastle. It is so much easier using the bus, rather than trying to find a parking space in town.  It makes the whole shopping experience, much more relaxing.

Our first stop was,

Kiehl's.  I love their products and this Turmeric and Cranberry Seed Masque sounds like it should be added to one of my dishes rather than to my face.  I love this product and I find after applying the masque, my skin looks much brighter afterwards.  I would say that, rather than rinsing off the masque, which contains seeds, I find it easier to use a wet flannel. I buy flannels from the Pound Store and wash them after each use.

The masque is put onto a cleansed skin, left to dry for 5-10 minutes, then water is added to the masque and you gently massage the face before finally removing the masque.

I know turmeric is very popular with ladies who live in India.  Natasha did once bring me a packet of  turmeric from India, especially for the face, but knowing how turmeric stains, I never had the courage to use it.  After all, walking around with a yellow tinge to the face is not a look I like.  However, I promise you, there will be no yellow tinge from this Kiehl's masque, it will leave you with a lovely glow.

We then headed to Holland and Barrett to buy,

some organic quinoa.  I use this quite a lot in my cooking as it is full of protein.  In 2015 we made a Quinoa salad and further back in 2014 we made Tabbouleh using quinoa.

I also bought some Vegan Yeast flakes, because I am trying to introduce more plant based food into our diet.  I was shocked to hear about the way a factory in Bromsgrove dealt with their chickens.  I won't go into detail, suffice it to say, I feel at the moment, a plant based diet is something I am becoming more and more interested in.

.... and now it's time for tea. I wonder, are you like me? Do you sometimes find, when your head is full of 'busy', it is hard to sleep at night. I was talking to Natasha about this, and she suggested trying Valerian tea, as she had read that it was a good aid to sleeping.  So an hour before I go to bed I drink a cup of Valerian tea, and do you know, it's working. What I would say, is, check with your doctor before taking this tea as I know some herbal remedies can interfere with prescribed medications.

It was then time to head over to Neal's Yard.

Are you confused, no it isn't someone's back garden. Neal's Yard is a company which sells ethically sourced products.  My sister in law, Gloria, recommended their products when I visited her a couple of weeks ago. I normally buy Molton Brown products, as I love their hand wash and hand lotion, but when I used the Geranium and Rose hand wash in Gloria's bathroom, I was smitten. I  decided to try the Citrus hand wash and hand lotion as I wanted to use them in my kitchen.  The hand lotion is light and rubs into the hands so easily and the combination of these 2 products are really lovely.

We then headed over to John Lewis where I chose some Christmas material for the 2 quilts I am making. I will not share the material at the moment but I will when I show you the progress I am making with the quilts.

We had thought to stay in town for a coffee, but we were both feeling a little tired, so we decided to head for home, but before we did, there was just one more shop I wanted to pop into. I was hoping to buy a pair of pyjamas for Sadie, my mother in law.

My goodness the buyers must have read my mind, because on a counter near to the entrance, I discovered these lovely flannelette pyjamas,  which I know Sadie will love. It's interesting, because both Sadie and Phyllis, my mother, love pink. Actually I have bought a pair for Phyllis as well.

So job done, we headed for home.  Well almost, as on the way to the bus top, George popped into the Dickman's Pie Shop, where he bought two pork pies.

.... so much for our plant based diet.

Before I leave you, I wanted to say, I am not paid to recommend these products to you.  They are products which I use in my own home and which I thought you would be interested to know about.  I also thought it would be fun to introduce 'Out and About With My Shopping Basket' every 4 weeks.  Sometimes I could share hats... I adore berets, or it could be a scarf or a piece of jewellery, sometimes clothes, maybe flowers, also food.... who knows.  It all depends on what I buy during the week and what I feel will interest you. Knowing me, it will be quite an eclectic mix of items.

So take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.

As Always,

Thursday, 5 October 2017


Good Morning to you,

I was reading an article in one of the Sunday supplements extolling the virtues of eyebrow tattooing.

I then picked up another magazine, that told me that the 'bald eyebrow' or the 'no eyebrow' look was in fashion.

.... and a third magazine informed me that the 'raggy, unkempt eyebrow' was the look to wear this season.

.... and before I continue, I must tell you that the reading of these magazines were not all in one sitting, although it's true to say, when time allows, I can quite easily enjoy a magazine marathon. 

The first, as I mentioned, was a lazy Sunday morning read, a few weeks ago. The second was a magazine I picked up to read at the hairdressers.  It was one of the trendy magazines, which I only read when I visit the hairdressers.... I learn all sorts of things I never knew, its quite an education and the final magazine, I picked up was at the doctors surgery.  Nothing to worry about on that point, just my annual visit to make sure everything is working as it should.

So I looked in the mirror.  How should I wear my eyebrows?  The 'no eyebrow' look, definitely not. How about the 'raggy look'? A bit messy for my liking, not that I have much choice nowadays as the eyebrow hair has become sparser with each passing year. So that left the eyebrow tattooing.... a possible, because as a teenager, I carefully plucked my eyebrows to look like the iconic Twiggy eyebrows, only to discover a number of years later, that my perfectly plucked fine eyebrows were out of fashion.  

So after years of being in fashion,  suddenly I was  out of fashion and my out of fashion eyebrows have stayed with me for the last 40 odd years. Hence the attraction of the eyebrow tattooing.

So when I read about eyebrow tattooing, I was intrigued.  Apparently micro blading is a semi permanent tattoo which gives brilliant results. The eyebrows are fuller and frame the face beautifully.

....but on further reading, I discovered micro blading is a lengthy process and painful. I didn't even touch on the cost. With the mention of pain I totally dismissed the thought.  Not that the thought was really a reality, it was just a passing thought. Just a ' I wonder what I would look like with fuller eyebrows'. Nothing more.

I knew someone who would know.  I rang Danielle, and I was right, she knew all about micro blading and she confirmed that it was a painful experience.  She asked me if I was thinking about having my eyebrows tattooed and if so, she really didn't think it was a very good idea.  

.... and why was that, I asked.  Danielle replied, 'You wouldn't want half an eyebrow tattooed and the rest left as it was.'

I didn't see where she was going with this. So, with laughter in her voice, she reminded me of the time, when as a trainee beautician, she offered to wax my legs.  

Honestly, I had quite forgotten all about my one and only foray into leg waxing. To be honest, it wasn't even a full leg, no, I am stretching it if I say I had a third of my leg waxed. Please bear with me, as I haven't gone off piste, you will see the connection shortly.

This all happened when Natasha and Danielle still lived at home. I was sitting comfortably on the sofa, with Natasha, watching a television programme, so my mind was not focused on what Danielle was doing. My leg was poised on a stool and Danielle was organising herself. As I say, I wasn't paying attention.  Now at this point, I have to tell you, I had never had my legs waxed before, so I really did not think about the pain. Danielle rubbed lotion onto my leg, then the warm wax was spread onto the lower part of my leg.  Fine so far.  The gauze was laid on top and smoothed and it was a lovely feeling.  I was feeling quite pampered and thoroughly enjoying the experience.

.... and then it happened.  Danielle, my lovely daughter, ripped the gauze from my leg and to say I nearly jumped through the roof is not an exaggeration. Added to that I screamed.  Our little King Charles, Chloe, came running into the room barking, because she had heard me scream. Natasha jumped up from the sofa concerned that the wax was too hot. Danielle, looked at me and could not believe my reaction.  I was hopping around the room in excruciating pain (alright, I freely admit, I am exaggerating a little), but I have to tell you, I am not kidding when I say, I was hopping around the room feeling pain. Leg waxing had not turned out to be the lovely, pampering experience, I thought it would be.

Now, I can hear you asking through your laughter, did I not know that the wax would pull the hair from my leg.

.... and the answer to that question would be, yes.

.... and did I not have any inkling that there would be pain?

.... and the answer would be, no, I didn't think there would be pain, I just thought it might sting just a little.

I know, it sounds ridiculous now, but I really didn't know what to expect.  Maybe I should have asked.  Danielle did tell me what she was doing at each stage and she did say I would feel a little sting.... but not pain.

When I calmed myself down, Danielle asked if I wanted her to continue and to that I said a resounding NO!  She said 'I thought not'. At this point both the girls burst out laughing and if you have heard my daughters laughter at the end of one of Natasha's Dynasty YouTube clips, then you know, they have a fabulous laugh. Through the laughter Danielle said, that as only a small part of my leg had been waxed, my legs would look very strange with a bald patch on one leg.

I replied I would rather have half a bald leg than go through that experience again.... but I had my own solution to sort out my half bald leg. I went upstairs found my electric leg shaver and shaved my legs, which turned out to be a much nicer experience.

.... and would I ever have my legs waxed again..... never, not ever.

Although I must be getting braver as I now use an epilator.... and what do I feel, only a little sting!

So back to the micro blading.  Even though it was only a thought, after being reminded of my leg waxing experience, micro blading is definitely not for me.  I'll leave that for much braver souls than I.

I think I will keep my 1960's inspired eyebrows, after all they have been with me for a long time.

Now that is enough talk about pain, it is time to turn pain into pleasure, because today, we are making,

a Summer Fruits Crumble Tart. I often make a fruit crumble during the winter time, but I have never made a tart.  I was inspired to make this recipe when I was shopping in a certain supermarket.  They had rhubarb crumble tarts for sale, but they looked quite pitiful, although  George said he liked the look of the tart. I said I could make a larger one, but with summer fruits , because I had some frozen berries in my freezer.... George was sold and my Summer Fruits Crumble Tart was a hit.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is George's choice.  Yesterday was our 47th wedding anniversary and I asked George what music he would like me to play

and he chose 'Two Hearts' by Phil Collins from the film Buster. We both love this song.

So with 'Two Hearts' playing it is time to organise my ingredients.


Serves 6 large portions or 8 smaller portions


1 tablespoon of flour for rolling the pastry
1 egg yolk ~ beaten

We have baked so many different pies over the years, that I feel sure you do not need me to show you how. If you would like a refresher, then pop over to when I made Quiche Lorraine, you will find the ingredients.  You will notice that the tart dish is 22cm (9") and today I am using a 25 cm (10") tart dish.  Don't worry as the pastry does stretch to a 25 cm (10") tart dish.


600g (1lb-5oz) frozen summer fruits ~ thawed
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of mixed spice


100g (4oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
100g (4oz) unsalted butter ~ chilled
75g (3oz) dark brown sugar
50g (2oz) walnuts
50g (2oz) oats


25 cm (10") loose bottom tart tin
baking beans
baking parchment paper

Pre-heat the oven 180C or 160C Fan oven


Make the pastry.
Roll out the pastry and carefully place into the tart tin.
Place on a tray and put into the fridge to cool for 1/2 hour.

Remove the pastry case from the fridge and line with baking parchment.
Fill with baking beans.
Cut away any excess pastry, but leave 1/2 inch all the way around to allow for shrinkage.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry case is a light golden brown in colour.

Remove the baking parchment and beans.
Brush the beaten egg yolk onto the base of the pastry case.
Return the pastry case to the oven for 5-10 mintues to dry the egg wash.

Set aside and cool.
When cooled remove the excess pastry, either with a sharp knife or by running the rolling pin over the top of the pastry case.


Drain the summer fruits using a sieve.

Reserve any juice.

Mix the sugar and the mixed spice to the fruit.
Set aside.


Sift the flour and the ground cinnamon into a medium sized bowl.

Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and rub the butter into the flour until it resembles large breadcrumbs.

Stir in the brown sugar, oats, chopped walnuts.


Spoon the drained summer fruits into the pastry case and spread evenly.

Spoon the crumble mix on top and drizzle over the remaining summer fruits juice. The crumble will absorb the juice.

Place the tart into the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown.

Then all there is left to do is, let the tart cool a little,

cut a slice 

As you can see I left the base of the tart tin in tact because I could not remove it until the tart had cooled.... I really must buy myself one of those round cake spatulas, which removes tarts from pans perfectly.  Next time I am visiting Lakeland, I will see if they sell them.  It would really make life a lot easier.

.... and no, George could not wait, he wanted a warm slice of summer fruits crumble tart and could not wait for it to cool. Well these recipes are part of our day to day living and I cannot bake and expect George to wait.... that would be mean. Although he did wait long enough for me to make him some custard. 

.... and before I leave you, I was wondering, what type of eyebrows do you have? 

Do you have the fine 1960s eyebrows? or the bold 1980s eyebrows? or are yours untouched and just as nature intended?

I'm just curious.

Take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.

As Always,

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