Category Archives: Lifestyle

Filtered Water for Tea & Coffee

Yes, the English do love their tea and they have quite good types from Earl Grey and English Breakfast to Jasmine and Darjeeling. There is nothing like a brisk cup made with filtered water. Yes, you heard right. This is an important daily ritual, and you want it to taste great. Natural water can have a chlorine taste in the north of England where I reside in Sunderland. Who knows what other chemicals lurk in our liquid.

The art of tea is well known abroad and we English are proud of it. It is a tradition that we welcome people to emulate. You can enjoy a spot of tea in the afternoon with a scone and some clotted Devonshire cream. Jam adds pizzazz while honey is the sizzle. Using a beautiful tea set makes it a lovely pastime as well especially if you have guests. A tea cozy will keep it piping hot in case you are a bit late coming to consumption. Some like them floral, some like them plaid. It is not an intense decision, but fun nonetheless.

You can make your tea with a kettle such as an electric stainless. They come cordless which is a nice feature. I love the glass versions where you can see the water boil before your very eyes. You say that you don’t need to filter the water if it is whirling about bubbling in profusion. I say why not. I still believe that both coffee and tea require filtered water to maximise the taste and flavour of your favourite beverage. Even an inexpensive faucet water filter will improve the taste of your tea or coffee. Make it a practice and find out for yourself.

Taking tea is so relaxing. You foreigners should try it on a regular basis. You will enjoy shopping not only for new teas, but fine sweets and jams as well. You can buy all the best English brands on line these days and they will be at your door in no time flat. Loose tea is for connoisseurs, but bag it if you must rather than pass up on the pleasure altogether. The preparation is important and part of the process, so don’t cut corners. Do it right for best results.

Think of the aromas: black current, spice, herbal, vanilla….it is just heavenly. It is a perfume-like essence that permeates your oral cavity and warms the nose. When it is in fine bone china, it is completely delicious, literally and figuratively. If you are in a tearoom in town, you can drink along with your fellow travelers and enjoy homemade sweets or savories as you prefer. Come four o’clock, your mouth starts watering and your brain sends messages to your feet to get moving.

Do you like tiny sandwiches, shortbread, and cookies? Teatime allows you to indulge. This has been an English tradition since the 17th century and still holds sway in the late afternoon. You need a bit of etiquette in terms of holding the cup properly—gracefully to avoid spills. Then sip and never slurp. Once you get your filtered water, you are ready for a wonderful, age-old experience.

Pressure Washing Professionals Do It Better

There is no place like Sunderland in the world: we have everything. Some things come in smaller packages, but it is all here. In addition to the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker, we have the best carwash around. In fact, it may be the best in the entire UK region. I kid you not. Come and see for yourself.

If you want a clean car, you know where to go in these parts. The car practically drives itself, it is so excited at the prospect of a good wash. It knows it will get tender loving care and its coat of colors will shine and gleam. I partake of the professional services every two weeks. It is part of my regular routine, even if the car is not showing any ill effects from the weather as yet. If we get a real downpour, and they come often certain times of the year, I go a bit more.

What do I find? It is a simple structure on the front street in town next to the gas station and a mini mart. I get nothing but hand labor—no automatic machines that can’t distinguish between a jalopy and a Rolls Royce that whip those stiff strips of fabric with too much abandon. It isn’t getting Pressure Cleaned like the cars that go through the auto wash. Instead, I get soft wiping cloths and not just air spray that leaves telltale signs and spots. I get the chamois treatment and special wheel rim cleansing. The windows and windshield are pristine and divine. Nothing is too fast or impetuous, except maybe the power washer, which has its role—just the right amount of spray and it’s done, especially on the fancy metal wheels.

The family owners of the carwash takes great pride in this special enterprise. It has been handed down for at least two or three generations by now. Locals have come to know each personally and every employee attendant on duty. You can also get a hand wax for a little more if you have the time. It takes an hour since they do it perfectly, rubbing away dull areas of faded paint with expert hands. If there were prizes for best the carwash in England, this one would win every time.

The world is so fully automated and it’s for good reason most of the time. I suppose it’s faster and we are all busy as bees. But we still get manicures and massages by hand, and we don’t want them too quick or superficial. Same with the family car. It wants its due after roaring about the countryside day after day, dodging vans and motorcycles, keeping everyone safe and secure. You want to reward that good behavior lest it rebel one day when you are lost on a quiet lane late at night and you forgot your mobile phone. This local carwash, very special indeed, is so great that I wish I could take the family dog along. He would love the pressure washer in particular. It would be a nice, vigorous rubdown.

Lose Weight and Save

There is more than enough attention given to weight these days. There are miracle pills, potions for overnight cures and even special scales designed for weight loss. England is no exception. We don’t produce the shockwaves that Americans do with rising obesity statistics, but we can lose a stone or two. Diabetes is not limited to the US and it is, indeed, rampant in the western world. With an aging population approaching retirement, perhaps now is the time to get a new digital bathroom scale.

The scale is a symbol of sorts. It implies balance and order. On the other hand, it often denotes ill health, gluttony, and self-indulgence. Philosophy aside, it is wise to take stock now and then, and learn the facts. You may be gaining weight without realizing it and jeopardizing your longevity and so weight management is an important thing to focus on for your overall height.

On the brighter side, a local shop was having a sale on bathroom scales and I was quite interested in a purchase. Mine had seen better days. Oh, it still works, but it is archaic in form and function. I went to price the high tech models and was impressed with all they can do. They not only give you the figures, record the info in your smart phone or laptop (by wireless Wi-Fi), give your BMI, and signal alarms when you go over an amount you have set as your goal, but they do it digitally and with precision.

This, I decided, was for me. In spite of the discount, I was surprised at the cost not having bought one in a decade (or maybe I have a hand-me-down). No matter. This was going to be a fundamental part of a new programme of health and well-being. I was heavy (pun intended) into dieting and getting fit. I planned on exercising, if only walking, a few times a week, and watching the calories. Counting them would be tedious, but my smart phone does it for me. Great app!

The store was open late for the sale, so I sauntered over after dinner one evening and made the rounds of the wares. The sizes for a typical bathroom scale were fairly similar as I did not need a stand-up doctor’s office model. Just the usual floor device with a nice big LED display. The idea of keeping a log was appealing as it practically does it for you. It was like a flat funky computer lying there on the tile waiting for instructions.

I was surprised at how many people turned out to buy scales. I guess they have changed enough in the last few years to warrant an outlay of cash. We are all feeling the pressure of the media and the explosion of concern about added poundage. We are even told to watch the weight of our pets! So, I am on my way to a svelte new persona with the guidance of a digital marvel that will keep me on track….I hope. Of course, what I eat will be the real deciding factor about the quality of my future life and how the world will view my appearance.