tea total

delicious tea - cute graphics too

delicious tea – cute graphics too

I love tea!

My husband thinks I’m addicted to it.

I don’t want poncey tea, I’m a PG/yorkshire tea girl and I like it made just like builders tea (but without the 4 sugars – half will do as I’m pretending I don’t take sugar!).

I am aware that a cup contains about half the caffeine (50 caffeine points – or whatever they are measured in) as coffee (100) and that I should really be on the green tea wagon with everyone else but the honest answer is that I can’t stand green tea and it is a waste of hot water and a clean mug in my book (quite apart from the fact that I keep trying it, it still goes cold in the mug and gets thrown away!!) so there is little point.

And whilst a score of 450 on the caffeine front is still very much within the safety limits, and means I can have 9 cups per day, no problem. Most days, though, I don’t come anywhere near that


In the interests of health and also because I am not short sighted enough not to realise that there might just be a green tea/tree hugger tea out there for me, I have been trying a few things.


I have a number of different boxed tea bags and leaf tea to try and decided to give each tea a score.

Twinings Green Jasmine Tea

I started with this one as I already know that I quick like jasmine tea (as served in good Chinese restaurants). I have discovered that the leaves need to be so few in number or they really only need to see the water for a few seconds before the leaves need to come out.  Otherwise it becomes quite overpowering and has a stewed bitterness to the flavour.

too many leaves and left too long

too many leaves and left too long

Score 5/10

Whittards Hangover Tea Bags 

I don’t buy this tea for hangovers but because it is THE nicest fruit tea on the market bar none. Hard to come by as they seem to run out on a terrifyingly frequent basis so I used to buy about 4 boxes each time I got the chance & have a little supply that will see me through a fair few cups.

I like it because it is fresh, fruity and not too sweet. You can pick out the fruitiness and it feels like a nice clean wholesome flavour. It contains Hibiscus Flower and I think that May well be where the lovely taste comes


The colour is lovely



Score 9/10

Twinings Early Grey Tea

Earl Grey has been in the news recently for it’s heart healing properties all thanks to the wonderful Bergamot used to flavour it (smells pretty nice too and I love it in skincare products!). I hated Earl Grey when I first tried it as a teenager but it has become a store cupboard favourite. I think putting Earl Grey in makes this little test a bit of a cheat but I would definitely say it ranks up there with the herbal tea teas for it’s health properties..

Score 9.5/10

M&S Citrus Tea

I always have lemon tea of some kind in my cupboards as a few people who visit seem to drink it so it was quite readily on hand to try.

It’s OK and it is probably done better by others but there is still that slightly grassy taste about it which puts me off. I didn’t have it very strong (having learned my lesson on the Jasmine Tea) and that is definitely an advantage until your palate becomes accustomed.

I might persevere with this one as it’s ok but I do very much like a simple single slice of lemon in hot water. It is also a good way to wake up your liver I believe.

Score 6/10

Sage Tea

It is lovely and much less like drinking grass cuttings than most herb teas. It has such useful and powerful herbal and medicinal properties too that it is worth having in your garden for drinking even if it doesn’t get into your christmas stuffing:- it is cooling in the heat and also reduces menopausal hot flushes to name but a few.

a few tender green leaves in boiled water releases the essential oils

a few tender green leaves in boiled water releases the essential oils

sage is so easy to grow

sage is so easy to grow

Fresh has also got to be better though so this was straight from our garden.

Score 8/10

Mint Tea

Lovely and refreshing even in the heat, mint tea is so simple and easy.  Again, fresh leaves straight from the Garden and into the pot.

Rosemary Tea

Like the mint tea, this has a freshness to it that makes it lovely to drink in the heat (Rosemary is part of the Mint family) and has great healing properties. Known to boost the immune system, it also improves blood circulation, is a great anti-inflammatory and is full of those lovely anti oxidants.

All round a great herb.

What you don’t drink or cook with is also great to use in handmade skincare.


Whittards Lemon & Lime Tea

Then of course there is the pretend tea……

The turkish do a wonderful apple tea, the principle of which a lot of the flavoured sugars that dissolve into an instant tea follow.

This Whittards Lemon & Lime Tea has too much sugar for my pallet but it is very refreshing, especially served ice cold.

Whittard's Lemon & Lime Tea Granules

Whittard’s Lemon & Lime Tea Granules

Score 7/10

Builders tea still scores 10/10 compared to all these others but I’m getting there and drink a greater variety than just my PG now.

builder's tea

builder’s tea

The next question is whether it tastes better made in the cup or in the pot? AND should the milk go in first or afterwards?

love bug


love bug biccies

I’m not much of a baker and although I used to love it as a teenager, I don’t have much time for it these days. There is always something I’d rather be doing if I was honest.

a plate of bugs

a plate of bugs

But Valentines Day is a tricky calendar event when it comes to us girls getting for our boys.

fizz and love bugs

fizz and love bugs

My plan was to make some romantic sweet biscuits for JC.  So, I thought I’d spend friday evening making these cute little love bug biscuits.

It was quite therapeutic and fun too although I am clearly short of certain tools such as icing bag and nozzles which meant the icing bug head, tail and spots are painted on with a brush.

half finished love bugs (I like these and will make them like this next time)

half finished love bugs (I like these and will make them like this next time)

Not my best artistic endeavours but they are tasty and look really cute.

shadows of the heart cut outs

shadows of the heart cut outs

Might have to rethink next year though as I’m not sure they went down quite as I had planned. LOL.

Utility Boot Rooms

I hate mess and things that are untidy need to be out of the way; behind a door or drawer front of some sort if remotely possible.

I love a well ordered, easy to manage spaces

neat and ordered

inspiring – neat and ordered

These spaces in other peoples homes are inspiring and I’m very envious.

colourful and organised

practical – colourful and organised

We have an odd shaped area off our lincolnshire kitchen which was used as a dining space by the previous owners.

It’s narrow and really doesn’t lend itself to anything other than somewhere to dump stuff.  It houses the hoover, dishwasher, washing machine, ironing and has become somewhere to hang coats so it has become our Utility/Boot Room.

coats, boots and many, many other bits

coats, boots and many, many other bits

It is far from perfect but does a sterling job in providing hanging space for a rather large collection of green coats and long boots.  It needs a few things adding such as a  clothes dolly so we can dry the washing without calling on the radiators or having a clothes horse standing in the way somewhere on those wet days when it will be wetter if it was hung outside.

We have a clothes dolly; it is stored in the garage but that is as far as it has got so far.

a sea of green and camo

a sea of green and camo

The space also needs blocking off with a bit or wall and a dipped pine door (that we also have stored in our garage).  The opening is already partly closed off and begs to be finished.

We have made some progress though……

machines and bags and stuff

machines and bags and stuff

It now boasts a worktop where there had previously been none.

It has transformed the space. It provides a valuable and incredibly useful surface for dumping things on such as the dog’s towels, shopping basket, dog leads, binoculars, cameras, wallets, keys and all those other things that we need handy pretty much all of the time.

picnic baskets and blankets

picnic baskets and blankets

I think the dogs feel safer having their beds underneath something when they have a sleep to so I think they like the change.

baskets and storage

baskets and storage

It has worked well so far and I can’t wait for the door and wall to be done so we can close it off from our coats smelling of our last meal and we won’t have to look at all the mess anymore.  Just as it should be!!

There’s a man in the village who I have all my hopes pinned on!

coffee madam?

coffee in my 'work' mug

coffee in my favourite ‘work’ mug

I love coffee.

I don’t drink a lot of it. Maybe only a cup or two a day but when I do, I really enjoy it.

For years I used to have a percolator, then I moved onto a cafetiere and after a particularly lovely stay with friends in Rome, I used a traditional stove top coffee pot for a while.

my barista recommended keep cup for travelling with coffee

my barista recommended keep cup for travelling with coffee


None of them was completely satisfactory for drinking coffee at home.

Percolators seem to burn the coffee very quickly, cafetieres stew it and render it heart attack strength coffee if you don’t drain them quickly and I never manage to watch the stove top pot carefully enough to stop it boiling!!

We have friends, Kate and John, who rave about Nespresso and after one particular sampling the delights from their machine, JC decided that we should get one for the kitchen.

Since our kitchen is pretty small and we don’t have any workspace to speak of, he thought we should build an extension to increase the size of our kitchen.

Seems a bit extreme for the simple pleasure of a cup of coffee but there you go!!

When I get something into my mind, it generally stays there until it is resolved in some way and I didn’t fancy waiting for the age it would take to get around to building an extension before I could enjoy a good coffee at home

a coffee machine

a coffee machine

Anyway, having been completely convinced that Nespresso was the way to go, we stayed with friends in the Peak District in the summer and the cottage had a coffee machine that seemed to make lovely coffee every time.  After a weekend of faffing about and drinking lots of cups of frothy coffee (when we weren’t necking sauvignon blanc by the gallon), I was pretty convinced that the faffing was worth it.

There is absolutely no denying that Kate is right and the Nespresso pod system is incredibly easy with no mess and no faffing whatsoever but I found  I didn’t actually mind the faffing. It’s not like I want to drink coffee throughout the day and then not sleep at night. I just want an odd cup that is really, really nice.

The ritual of grinding the beans, filling up the filter, attaching it to the machine, frothing my milk and waiting for the pruck, pruck, pruck noise as 2 little nozzles deliver the dark creamy coffee into my little cup is rather rewarding.

in place and ready to use

in place and ready to use

I have cleared the decks, found a corner in a cup’d for the toaster and the magimix and placed my order with John Lewis for a next day delivery of a lovely shiny new De Longhi espresso machine

ikea dinera coffee cups that match the sofa!

ikea dinera coffee cups that match the sofa!

We are experimenting with coffee blends, we are experimenting with frothing and we have bought new coffee cups too. It has been sooooo much fun.

We still don’t get it right a lot of the time just yet (JC is better at it than I am!!) and my barista art skills leave a lot to be desired but it’s fabulous.

can ya till wot it iz yit?

can ya till wot it iz yit?

We will still build the extension of course but there’s no pressure to get on with it to house a coffee machine now!


the fabric tree at the national

the fabric tree at the national

We are very lucky living in London.

Everything is here and I love it.

the centurion at 'the savoy'

the centurion at ‘the savoy’

There are wide open spaces, incredible amounts of wildlife, galleries that are free to enter, ever evolving architecture, a busy river, a comprehensive transport system, more restaurants than you can shake a stick at and some of the best tourist attractions there are in the world.

I spend a lot of time in London at meetings and on sites but I am guilty, like most London residents, of not taking advantage of anywhere near enough of the amazing things that sit on my very doorstep.

classic scene of parliament from the south bank

classic scene of parliament from the south bank

As usual this is only put to rights when we get visitors who want to take in the sights.

JC’s sister and her other half joined us for a weekend a few weeks ago.

the wonderful london eye

the wonderful london eye

And it gave us the perfect chance to soak in some sights.

We don’t see them often enough and it is a real shame as we get on really well. The boys used to hang around in the same groups when they were troublesome teens and JC’s and his sis have been pretty close in the past.

Both ‘kids’ were bought a weekend away by JC’s mum for Christmas. A great present that took us off to the gorgeous countryside along the Thames in Oxfordshire and theirs brought them down to London to see us.

the under side of the hungerford bridge

the under side of the hungerford bridge

We saw the inside of a few pubs & coffee shops but we did lots of walking. Even though it was bitterly cold, it gives you plenty of opportunities to stop off for something to eat or a warming drink. We had a great time wandering along, chatting, sight seeing and generally catching up while soaking in the surrounds.

London is very small really and if you aren’t in a hurry, you can link up with some fantastic sights and catch a few more besides if you look out.

some urban art (this changes almost daily)

some urban art (this changes almost daily)

There are lots of surprises.

And it is constantly changing (whether through your perception of it or actually changes).

You should look up too, there are some wonders and delights above the eye line that lots of people miss in their mission to get somewhere particular but a wander and a gander is to be recommended.

the courts of justice (constantly featured in the news unfortunately)

the courts of justice (constantly featured in the news unfortunately)

Some of your discoveries may not be quite along the lines of what you expect as I found at the royal courts of justice where some eejit had grafittied my name (nearly). Great fun for a photo but a real shame to see it.

grafitti by one of he doors at the royal courst of justice

grafitti by one of he doors at the royal courst of justice

Especially when there is some incredible graffiti around the city that has become a tourist attraction in itself.

beyond here lie dragons

beyond here lie dragons

We covered miles and caught up loads as well as seeing some bits of london that we haven’t seen for a very long time and enjoyed some of the great things that it continues to offer.


I can’t actually wait to do it again.

some delicious street food in the piazza

some delicious street food in the piazza

An Old Boy

max and hamlet

max and hamlet

I have blogged about my sister’s terrier Hamlet before. He’s been around for ever. We think he is about 12 or 13 but no one is quite sure.

His eyes have recently become a bit milky and we think it has affected his sight but he is fit and generally very well. He is, however, very, very grumpy.


having a cuddle

His grumpiness has got him into trouble in the past but it is kinda how he is and that is it. To be fair to him, he is only grumpy with other dogs, he clearly loves people and he especially loves men.  His diminishing sight and overall grumpiness hasn’t been an issue really until recently when Fizz came to join his household.



She’s young and has boundless energy, I think she jumps into view and scares the bejesus out of the old fella. She gets told off A LOT. Add that to the fact that Heston, who also joined this previously ‘one dog’ household is as tenacious in his attempts to annoy Hamlet as Fizz is in her attempts to annoy Heston and the end result is that no one in the household, especially Hamlet, was happy anymore.

We took him for a few weeks at the end of the summer to give everyone a holiday from each other and hoped that when he went home, order would be restored, Fizz would have settled down and the grumpiness would have subsided slightly.  Unfortunately for all concerned, it was even worse.

After struggling for a couple more weeks, my sis & Kit made the very difficult decision that perhaps Hamlet really needed some peace and quite and that a new home might be the ticket for the Old Boy.


He is undoubtedly grumpy and he has nuclear rancid breath that could render you speechless from 20 paces but JC & I didn’t hesitate to offer him a home and told my sis that he could come to spend his dotage with us and Max. He wasn’t to go elsewhere under any circumstances.

Max, our 4 year old JRT, winds him up sometimes and isn’t always pleased about sharing us but we 4 all to rub along fine and have settled into a new slightly different routine but it seems to suit.


There is still enough space for a cuddle on the sofa.

There is still enough space on the back seat of the car.

And there is still enough food to go around.

settling down to an afternoon nap

settling down to an afternoon nap

We have spare leads, spare beds, spare bowls and many more things that have made the transition an easy one. Also, we know Hamlet, he used to come and stay with us for his holidays before we had Max and he absolutely LOVES London.

We are all happy with the set up and I am sure that Hamlet and Max are happy, fit and well in this new arrangement.


My sis called around over Christmas and it was the first time Hamlet had seen her and Kit in a few weeks. He was clearly DELIGHTED to see them and stood at the gate for a while after they had left which gave me a few moments cause for concern.

We subsequently went for a walk with them and a full quota of dogs and everyone had a great time.  Hamlet is still spritely even though he grumbled a few times it was evident that he was enjoying himself. I did think he is probably missing his original pack and you have to ask yourself if you have done the right thing for the old fella.

there will be snoring soon

there will be snoring soon

It was very clear at the end of the walk where he wanted to be and who he was going home with! He practically made a run for it!

He’s on our sofa dribbling and snoring quite loudly as I write!!

a new lady in the family

little cutie

My sister has two terriers, Hamlet and Heston, that we (& Max) love. Their number has been increased recently by one. They have been joined by a lovely little lady called Fizz (a much more manageable name than the very grand kennel club title with champagne in it).

I’ll lie down; that should help

She comes from a home of friends of ours who’s bitch Poppy had a huge brood of 10 to my sis’s friend’s black labrador Hugo.

err, what are you doing?

Fizz is a little cutie; bold a brass and completely undaunted by 2 terriers, a teenager and a busy household.

if it’s happening; I’m there!!

Puppy is an old boy now (in spite of what his nick name alludes to – he is actually called Hamlet and is about 12 years old!) and although he has always been a bit grumpy, a boisterous young thing in the house has taken his grumpiness to new heights. Needless to say, having come from a large brood Fizz couldn’t give a fig!!

Heston ignored her for a few days, no longer being the youngest or cutest, and although he is laid back and a sweet little chap, he has found her a bit a annoying too. She just doesn’t give up and pesters the bejesus out of him.  Typically, Fizz isn’t remotely bothered and sees it all as a challenge.

let me at it

She is indomitable, incredibly sweet natured, affectionate, brave, cheeky, very gorgeous and still has paws that have that amazingly clean and sweet smell you only get with puppies (and those paws are pretty big so there’s still room for growth).

Sadly the paws will change but her other glorious traits will stand her in good stead for a busy life with lots of other dogs in it. She will eventually work as a peg dog but it’s all about fun at the moment.


Max met her some weekends ago and having been the annoyingly enthusiastic, over energetic puppy himself just four years ago, he now finds this all a bit irritating in others…… for about 10 seconds!!! The he piles in and the fun really starts.

Having found big brother love with the wonderful Bosley, he loved playing with her and while she is still about his size, his strength and weight is an advantage. Just wait Maximus, she’ll be a good few kilos heavier than you soon!


She has grown loads since then and although Hamlet came to stay with us for a few months while she got over her most puppyish stage, I’m not sure he’s any happier about her presence now that he has been reinstated and she still remains endlessly energetic.

His sight is going and he seems to love peace and quiet these days. Bad luck for the poor old chap because there’s none of that with Fizz about!!!

I wonder if he’ll be visiting again soon?

num num!!