Thought for the Day: Age

Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face.
– Albert Camus

Thought for the Day: Age

Drawing by Sara Kirschenbaum

I remember reading an article about the beautiful Nigella Lawson as few years back. She said that she used to add a few years to her real age when she was asked how old she was. She used to get very admiring and favourable comments and compliments about looking so much  younger that the age she said. I wonder if Nigella had continued to add years to her age now?!!!

I am afraid, age and ageing can’t really be halted.  One way or another it would show.  It may be in your grey hair, telltale wrinkles on the forehead or under the eyes. Loosening of jaw line, sunspot at the back of your hands, turkey wattle on your neck and so much more.


Plenty have tried to defy aging, but only very, very few lucky ones have succeeded.

While you have youth, use it wisely.

My favourite quote about age is by Oscar Wilde. It is so clever and witty and of course, so true.

Youth is wasted on the young.

Another quote to think about:

Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.
~Maurice Chevalier

Autumn Arrives in London

Tulip Tree Leaf, photo by PH Morton

photo by PH Morton

Liriodendron tulipifera Aureomarginatum, commonly known as Tulip Tree

Autumn Arrives in London

As our summer season ends and so autumn arrives in London and Great Britain.

The word autumn has ancient roots alluding to the passing of the year. In the USA and some parts of the world this season  is called ‘the fall’.

This year, we have had mixed weather, from a wet and cold winter through a sunny and wet spring rolling into a sunny and wet summer.

We had two of the hottest days in September for over 100 years, with temperature reaching nearly 32C (89F).

Yes the British weather can still excite conversation among Brits. 😉

It is still quite mild with rain and sunshine and I can still wear a T shirt, without feeling cold. 🙂

The most common sign that autumn is approaching is when the leaves on deciduous trees. change colour from their spring and summer colour of green, to browns,yellows, reds and orange.
The leaves then soon after start to fall from their twigs and branches.

In autumn, some of the trees produce spectacular colour combinations of the above.

Deciduous is a Latin term meaning “falling off at maturity”

Leaves that fall off their tree branches in autumn are from the broad leaf type, having large areas to soak up the sun.

Trees that have these types of leaves need maximum food and energy to grow and produce fruit, such as apples, pears and berries etc.

These leaves have reached maturity by the end of summer using up the green chlorophyll pigment they contain to produce energy and food via photosynthesis for the tree in spring & summer.

As the daylight grows shorter with the arrival of the colder days of autumn and winter, the leaf receives decreasing amounts of  warm sunlight.

The leaf can no longer produce enough food for it’s tree, therefore it will trigger a kind of self destruct sequence.

As the temperature lowers, the leaves try and remain above freezing to provide nourishment to the tree until the last possible moment.

As the green pigment fades in the leaf, other pigments appear, which were masked by the dominant chlorophyll.

One pigment is carotenoids, which produce rich yellow, orange and brown colours, such as in carrots, banana peel, pumpkins.

Another pigment produced is called anthocyanins which are mainly red and purple.

As autumn progresses, the leaves become weaker, insects feed and worsening  weather take effect.

Within the stem of a leaf which is attached to it’s branch is the abscission layer, which chokes of the leaf veins that transfer water and food to the tree via the branch.

This further decays and weakens the leaf and stem, so the leaf becomes detached from it’s branch and so falls to the ground, it’s important work done.

Evergreen trees retain their leaves through cold freezing winter weather, because their smaller area leaves, some are needle shapes have a coating of a wax that helps protect them from the extreme cold.


Photo by PH Morton

Enjoy these wonderful seasonal colours and think of the sacrifice the leaf made to produce them.

Korean Yellow Pickled Radish

pickled radish, photo by jmortonn

pickled radish, photo by jmorton

Korean Yellow Pickled Radish

Due to excessive, almost obsessive watching of Korean dramas (Kdramas), Korean way of life as depicted on television has influenced how Peter and I eat our dinner.

Suddenly we are going to Korean restaurant to try Korean cuisine, which thankfully is pretty nice.

BBQ Ribs a la Wagamama


Wagamama BBQ Ribs, iPhonePhoto by JMorton

BBQ Ribs a la Wagamama

We had barbecued ribs at Wagamama and enjoyed them so much that I thought I should try to make them at home.

Below is a recipe that makes the ribs taste like Wagamamas! 🙂


3 pounds pork ribs, separated to individual pieces, cut in half if ribs are long
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed & minced 🙂
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 brown sugar
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 stalk spring onion, chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (white wine/cider vinegar)


Preheat oven at gas mark 200°C.

Using a large bowl, make up the marinade by mixing together the onion, garlic, ginger, honey, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil  and vinegar.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add the ribs, cover them with the marinade. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for at least half an hour or overnight in the fridge.

Transfer everything in an ovenproof container, cover with aluminum foil.  Place in the middle rack of the preheated oven and cook for 1 hour.

Remove the foil, spoon in the marinade/sauce over the ribs and return on the top rack of the oven and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes.

Place the cooked ribs on a serving bowl, pour in the sauce over the ribs, then sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Enjoy with freshly boiled rice or noodles.


Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup. photo by JMorton

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup. photo by JMorton

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Autumn or fall is just around the corner.  The air is definitely chillier, the evening shorter.

Warming soups are now much needed and appreciated more if they are really tasty.

And we have just the business here, spicy sweet potato soup is a delicious one dish meal.  It is easy to make and really filling and warming, a true taste of home.

I love sweet potato or camote as a child.  But I have come to love them all over again after watching Korean and Japanese dramas where boiled sweet potatoes were often shared and enjoyed by lovers and within families.  So sweet! 🙂

Anyway, for the recipe:


1½ tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 red bell peppers, deseeded and diced

250g sweet potato, peeled and diced

350g tomatoes, chopped (2 cans plum tomatoes, drained and chopped)

¼ tsp of turmeric powder

¼ tsp chilli powder

½ tsp ground cumin

½  tsp caster sugar

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1½ pints vegetable stock or 3 bouillon cubes dissolved in 1.5 pints of hot water

Method of preparation:

Using a large saucepan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the garlic and onion then gently cook until softened and translucent. This may take about 3 – 5 minutes over moderate heat. Do not brown or burn. 🙂

Put in the the red peppers, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.  Also tip in the turmeric powder, chilli powder and cumin. Cook for 5 minutes until vegetables start to soften.

Turn up the heat and pour in the vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat,  cover the saucepan and leave to simmer for up to half an hour or until the vegetables are completely tender.

Remove from heat and allow the soup to cool down.

It can then be pureed using a blender or run into a sieve, leaving off all solids such as tomato rinds.

Return the pureed soup to the pan and heat up.

Serve by adding a tiny pinch of salt and ground black pepper as well as a squirt of olive oil.

Enjoy with some buttered bread!


Commonplace Book

Commonplace Book

As our dear visitors can see in the title heading of our blog, we describe it as being a Commonplace Book.

What is a commonplace book?!!!

It has a very long history; the first commonplace books are believed to have been compiled from the 14th century and continued to be popular onto the19th century.

They can be regarded as a kind of scrap book where the compiler noted and collected scraps of information, etc. Entries are made only in handwriting and if needed illustrated by hand too. These were what differed a commonplace book from a scrap book –  no cutting and pasting bits of paper!.


commonplace book

The  subjects of interest can be diverse; such as poems, prose, short essays, tracts, critique, prayers, observations,academic, thoughts/ideas on subjects, drawings/illustrations, myths, folklore, quotes, news, lists, recipes, facts on various subjects, etc.

Collecting items like this to record in a book was called  commonplacing.

Commonplace books were first known in fourteenth century Italy. They were known as zibaldone.   The books were referred by Italians as “salads of many herbs.”

They often included sketches and cursive written scripts. Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio kept such books.

17th-century-commonplace book

17th century commonplace book

Later among others, Thomas Hardy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Francis Bacon,Mark Twain  and John Milton all kept commonplace books.

A Commonplace book is not a diary or a journal,

Commonplace books contained notes and sometimes drawings on subjects, which were of particular interest to the collector and compiler. The collector may have copied/sketched or made notes of articles, tracts etc., from rare and not generally available books. Public access to libraries were rare too in those days.

These compilers may even had contributed to the social media of their age when showing or lending out their books to others.

We think  today’s 21st Century internet blogs serve as a type of commonplace book.

The blogger collects items of interest to themselves from various sources the internet, newspapers, reference books (as we do) etc., and which they think might interesting to others by sharing on line.

Humans have an insatiable thirst for the varied and diverse topics that make up our modern lives.

Welcome to our commonplace book, welcome to


Our Home Harvest 2016


Our Home Harvest 2016


When we were both still gainfully employed,  😉 it was hard to maintain our fairly long back garden, where the lawn must be mowed, the bushes regularly trimmed, the pond life fed, the garden furniture repaired, etc., the list went on.  We, therefore,  paved over parts of it, but still kept some smaller flower& plant beds and a good size lawn.

A good idea in any size garden is to use plant pots or troughs to grow plants, flowers and vegetables.

Some of the larger pots are fitted with small wheels (like castors) on the base.

This means that we can easily move large plants, such as the tomato plants, to follow the sun as it moves, to maximise exposure to the light and heat.

This spring, and as in previous years, Jean & I decided to try and grow some tomato plants in three of our large pots.  Tomatoes are quite inexpensive and plentifully sold in shops and supermarket during the summer, but growing your own has its own reward.  You can be sure of the freshness and they seem to taste better 🙂




This year’s weather has been mixed in London & SE England.

A rarely frozen and wet winter was followed by rain alternating with hot sunny days in summer, extending well into September. This combination has resulted in a nice crop of tomatoes. some have ripened and hopefully the others will soon as well.

Our two potted small apple trees have produced their ripe fruit nearly a month early this year.

They are ‘Jonagold’ apples, which are sweet and a little bitter to taste but simply delicious.

We found that If you have two potted apple trees, keep them near each other in order to get at least one good crop, this helps cross fertilisation from the bees etc.

We find each year that one tree produces more apples than the other.

However, this year both tree have a lot of apples, thanks to the weather.

our-pear-treeWe have one potted Conference variety pear tree, near the end of the garden, and as with the apple trees we also need to get another one as this lonely tree only produces a pair of pears each year.

Our wild blackberry bush has also produce a bounty of berries this year too!

We wonder if this year’s winter will be cold and wet again. Snow has not fallen to settle on the ground here in nearly the last two years, much to our grandson’s disappointment who is wishing of building a snowman in the garden!

Apples In Vinegar

Apples in vinegar, Photo by JMorton

Apples in vinegar, Photo by JMorton

Apples In Vinegar

30 years in London has not taken the Filipino out of me, especially when it comes to food.  Despite a diversity of food collection and selection widely available in the UK, I remain having a taste for fruits soaked or dipped in the most sour vinegar, mansanas sa suka. 🙂  It is probably my Ilocano blood or Tagalog as well. 😉

While I love it so much, when I asked Peter to taste it, he said it was ok, unusual combination of vinegar and fruits (sweet and sour) but not really his cup of tea.  He is more of a custard or cream man.  I supposed it is really an acquired taste.

Nevermind 🙂 more for me, I say! LOL

However, when our dear seven year old grandson visited this week, he declared that he wanted sour tasting apple slices and was happy to tuck in when I made him some. He is showing his inherited Filipino taste buds. 🙂

Anyway, I have been eating our apples from our garden.  For me, this is the perfect time, just before the apples are ready for the picking.  Apples in September are still halfway to being really sweet, they have that little sour taste to them and they are rock-hard, which is perfect for ultimate crispness.

To prepare my apple in vinegar, I chop two apples and drizzle them generously with cider or red wine vinegar (malt vinegar is good as well).  Sprinkle them with a bit of salt (mind the blood pressure!).  Give it a good stir, ensuring that the vinegar gets into all the apple pieces.  Leave to soak of a few minutes while turning on the telly for another dose of Korean drama.

Heaven is here on earth! 🙂