Food For The Brain

Food For The Brain

  • Blueberries
  • Avacadoes
  • Dark chocolate
  • Green tea
  • Apples

Apparently these are the top five foods for the brain… well, this is what Dad keeps telling me over and over again.

I am having all of them…..except I am really not in the mood for apples.

I love fresh, juicy, crisp apples in the summer.  But this time of year the only way I can get my head round apples is in a crumble.  I have to admit, I am super-duper fussy with my apple crumble.  I mean I would always be polite when someone with a proud grin sets before me their prized apple crumble.

But in reality…..I only like it my way!!!!!!!!!

Apples sweet cinnamon perhaps some sultanas thrown in.  And then a huge deep layer of crumble.  Crumble being the main event.  Sometimes oats thrown in or some brown sugar to give a bit of a crunch.

Then thick custard.  Hot or cold I don’t mind which. For extra indulgence a caramel sauce. But I respect apple crumble tastes differ.

When I lived in the countryside I was forever coming home to find a kind friend or neighbour had left a box of apples from their trees on my doorstep.  So I made a lot of crumble each autumn and had a lot of friends round on cold evenings for hot toddies and crumble.  Some had the same preference for crumble over fruit as me and my youngest sister.  But other friends complained vehemently “where is the fruit?”

Actually……I really wished I had perfected a blackberry crumble.  I used to use blackberries in an oatmeal cakey scone recipe.  It was yum but very tricky to make.

But the yummiest has to be cherries…..but in a pie.

This is just fruit.

Don’t get me started on pecan pie, banana bread, bakewell tart, carrot cake, choco cheesecakes, black forest roulades, melting choco puds with butterscotch sauce……I am hungry.

I am remembering all the dinner parties I threw in the past.  I miss that.  Living in a tiny bedsit in London means no huge dinner parties.  Although, I have squeezed up to twelve friends in…most had to sit on the floor…it was rather cosy!  One of the guys knocked a glass of red wine all over my white curtains.  I have been happy here….but now I am thinking of all the things I miss.  Memories are dominating me and devouring my contentment.

Maybe I am eating too many blueberries, my memory seems to be sharper than ever.  Perhaps I have had too much food for the brain.  Need to switch off for a bit.

The GateHouse Pub


I love Sarah’s prompt for this week, but I don’t think I can give an authoritative answer to this one. I will tell you about one pub where I have some special memories I cling to though.

Where I am living now there are pubs a-plenty, and lots of restaurants. This area is very popular with tourists and visitors. Most of the pubs are owned by Youngs – a pub restaurant company with quite an empire up and down the country. I don’t know which is the best. I have visited most of them with friends, but I have not adopted any of them as my pub of preference.

The thing about a pub is…it’s not just the food, it’s not just the staff, it’s not just about the comfort and seating, it’s not just about the music they play, it’s not just the other people at the pub…it’s all of the above that create an atmosphere that makes you feel relaxed and forget all your troubles.

In the town I grew up, all of the local pubs were a bit too rough and ready for me to go anywhere near them! But I have travelled a lot within the UK, and I discovered country pubs when local volunteers took us for a drink after a long day on a construction site or a large public event. They took us to some beautiful pubs with a relaxed atmosphere and we felt comfortable there.

Of the pubs I have visited up and down the country with friends and workmates, some I have enjoyed, others not so much. I think on the whole, when I didn’t enjoy a pub, it was because of the behaviour of some eeed-yats who had drunk too much and decided to act up. Whenever that has happened, my friends and I would make a hasty departure. That’s the risk of pubs – you never know who else will be there and how much they will drink and the effect it has on them. So we are always ready to move on when the atmosphere changes.

I have lots of memories of fun nights with friends at pubs. We have played cards, we have put the world to rights, we have shared portions of chips or onion rings, we have argued over whose round it was, we have laughed, even danced, and occasionally cried together. In London especially, many of my friends and I have lived in tiny flats, where we had to be considerate of our neighbours. So meeting up for a drink at a local pub where there was more space and we could make a little bit more noise was handy.

I know quite a few of the pubs in Highgate, Hampstead, Muswell Hill, Finchley, Mill Hill, Whetstone, Crouch End, Holloway, Kentish Town….and beyond. I am going to tell you about one pub, it’s not necessarily the best pub, but it is one pub where I have some memories with friends that I like to keep close.


My memory is of an evening that ended at The Gatehouse Pub in Highgate Village. But the whole evening is one I remember fondly. It took place on a Thursday evening, at the end of a warm summer’s day.

I met with the group I met every Thursday for a bootcamp. Normally we would run down to a local cricket pitch, where the class would start. We would run sprints, and do squats and leapfrogs and all sorts of different exercises. But this night was different. One of the lads was leaving London to move abroad as he was engaged to be married. So we were going to have the bootcamp at a different location – Hampstead Heath.

We drove to Hampstead Heath. We ran from the Highgate side of the Heath over to the Hampstead side. When we reached the Hampstead Ponds for mixed bathers (there are men only and women only ponds too), we stripped our running clothes off and all of us had our swimming costumes on. We jumped into the water and swam a couple of circuits around the pond. There was a bit of splashing each other too. There was hardly anyone else there at that time so we weren’t annoying anyone.


Afterwards, we put our running clothes on over our swimming costumes, and then ran back over to the Highgate side of the Heath. There we found a grassy spot and the guy who took the class shouted out some instructions which we followed, press-ups, squats, leap frogs and stretches.

VW camper.pngTwo of our friends (a married couple) had a VW Camper Van. So we all got changed in the back of the van. The girls went first, we had to take our damp clothes off and have a quick dry off and put on our warm dry clothes. Then it was the lad’s turn to change. Once we had all changed, we walked up the hill so we could have a goodbye drink with our friend who was moving abroad for his wedding.

After all that exercise we were hungry. So a few of us ordered some food. I can’t remember the drink I ordered…but I do remember I ordered a veggie burger. I remember that night, sitting with friends whose company I really enjoyed. For almost two years they had been a weekly escape from the challenges in my life. I felt happy with them, relaxed. Some of them knew Jack, my ex-flatmate, but they didn’t mention him. Nobody teased me about him, nobody taunted me. None of them referred to something that had been said about him and I. All of that group just liked me for me. We had the same interests, we loved keeping fit and exercising in a really fun way – outside in the fresh air.

at pub with friends.jpgI loved Thursday evenings because they were a complete escape from Jack, who had been pretty much making my life miserable for around two years by this point. That night we sat in The Gatehouse Pub and I felt happy, I felt really settled and secure. It was a lovely summer’s evening and I had spent it doing what I loved with people I felt very comfortable with. We laughed and we made a fuss of our friend who was moving. It was his last bootcamp with us and we all said our goodbyes. Although it was sad someone was leaving, I remember feeling so very happy that night.

But the very next day, Jack was back to his tricks taunting me, yet another rumour about he and I was doing the rounds on Facebook and Instagram and in Whatsapp groups. I strenuously denied it, as always. I passed Jack several times and he always looked at me with a hateful expression. That was a busy weekend. I was involved in several work projects and had training sessions to conduct. Also I helped a good friend with a huge party she had organized for the Saturday night. I only arrived back home after 3am on the Sunday morning after all the clearing up. Then Sunday was very busy. On Monday I had a television interview. I must have looked awful because I was so tired. Jack was on the same bus as me that day. He kept up his disdainful attitude.

AmbulanceOn the Tuesday I saw him several times and he was horrid. That evening, after I had been out with some friends in Highgate Village, at a pizzeria, I turned down an offer of a lift home by a friend, who lived near me. Instead, I walked to Hampstead Heath and sat on a bench and cried. At least an hour must have passed before a man sat next to me. The next morning, Wednesday morning, I was in an ambulance on my way to hospital.

at the pubIt turned out that was the last time I was ever at the Thursday bootcamp I loved so much. The last time I was with a group of friends who made me feel I could be me. The last time I was in a pub in Highgate with friends. The last evening I remember feeling happy and relaxed despite the challenges Jack was causing in my life. I cannot tell you how much I would love to be back there in the Gatehouse Pub in Highgate Village with people who made me feel comfortable and relaxed and happy.


Is there a pub near you that you would describe as the best local pub? This is the writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth MooreSarah Elizabeth Moore. Please link to her original post below:

Writing Prompt #11


Someday…When I’m Awfully Low

I woke up this morning very early so that I was ready for the busy day ahead.

I noticed that Sheryl’s word of the day was SOMEDAY. And I instantly started singing a song that made me think of Goldfinch.

However, long before I even met Goldfinch I had a best friend…who became my teenage sweetheart. We courted for eight years before I ended the relationship. I remember going to his wedding – don’t worry I had no intention of interfering like Julia Robert’s character. But it was weird nonetheless. Have you ever been a wedding guest for a former sweetheart?

I guess it was happy weird. I didn’t feel awkward. It felt natural to be there celebrating his happiness. Happy for him, genuinely, but I did feel like it was a permanent goodbye – a letting go of the past and being forced to move on. I left the wedding feeling a little lost in life. But then I remembered I had a wonderful purpose in my life, I should not feel lost. People would come into my life in the future. I knew I might fall in love again one day.

20180628_145757The only odd thing is…the next man I was truly in love with was Jack. Which of course led me to that night in the park where I was attacked. And of all the most horrid coincidents is this – that park, it was within that park that my teenage sweetheart had hired a building for his wedding. The wedding took place a few minutes walk from where I was found some years later by a security guard, who called an ambulance as soon as he saw me.

I will get round to writing more about my teenage sweetheart someday.

Letting Go Is Hard


Everyone seems to be saying their goodbyes to 2018 and declaring their ambitions and aspirations for the year ahead. I am not.

I said one of the biggest goodbyes of my life on Tuesday 11th December 2018. I have not yet contemplated any big plans for my future except to press on in my goal of returning to my home and career as an international volunteer.

In Adelaide, Australia…I believe it is about midnight now. I wonder what Goldfinch is doing and who he is with. So long as he is happy. That’s all I want for him – this year, next year – every day of every year of forever.

I shall look back on 2018 as a very beautiful year made very special by a gorgeous Goldfinch who flew into my life and flew out again. No matter what happens in the future, I will always have a part of me clinging to the myriad of exquisite memories I have.

Learning From Mumma Bear

My mum is very sweet, I have to say. Believe me…it is not just me that thinks so. People love my mum! In the town we grew up in, everyone knew my mum and people loved her. They thought she had a gorgeous personality. She was always smiling, always chatting, always showing kindness.

Just over ten years ago, once we had all left home, my parents moved closer to my grandfather so they could help him as his health was starting to decline. In the village they now live in, people have come to know and love my mum. She has the same gorgeous personality. People say exactly the same things as they did in my home town – your mum is always smiling, so friendly, so kind.

Yup that’s my mumma! I have so many stories about the people whose lives she has touched, I could easily fill a book about Mumma Bear. We could not have asked for a better example of how to be a gorgeous human being than our Mumma Bear!


Besides all the work at home, caring for a huge family, Mum did not work for money when we were younger. She wanted to be around for us during our early years. She felt starting work before we were at school would disrupt our development…or something like that. But once my youngest sister Milly had started school, Mumma then decided to go back to nursing. For several years she worked on an endoscopy unit in the nearby hospital.

I remember the very first time she received wages. After years of gratefully accepting hand-ons from other kind families, Mumma wanted to go out and buy us something new. There was a new shop in the local shopping center and they had some beautiful teddybears. Mum bought one for the three of us “little ones”. I must have been ten years old at this time, because Milly was now at school. Mine was a slightly ginger brown. I called my teddy “Max”. Milly had a white bear which she named “Snowy”. Mandy, her more beige brown bear she named “Honey”.

Three bears for three little girls. We were so grateful to Mumma Bear. We all treasured those bears. I still had Max when I left home in my mid-twenties!

That was not the only treat. Mumma Bear really wanted to treat us. She took us to a local restaurant which was famous for their naughty puddings and desserts. I ordered a Banana Split. Milly ordered a knickerbocker-glory. Mandy ordered a salad! A salad…just about the farthest thing from a naughty dessert!

Aaaaah! It’s nice to reminisce over the pages and pages of special memories of those you love. Mumma Bear was the perfect mother to the three little girls, who still think she is one of the sweetest people on the planet.

FOWC with Fandango — Disrupt

Precious Lace-Like Memories

This week’s challenge from estherchiltonblog is to write a story, limerick or poem on the subject of:

Favourite childhood memories

conquer.jpgRecently Goldfinch and I walked across Richmond Park in South-West London.  We passed a horse-chestnut tree loaded with conkers.

I started to tell Goldfinch about a precious lace-like memory that I have…one of my first memories in life in fact.  It’s a memory that is full of holes like lace, and yet it is such a pretty recollection in my mind and I have clung to it.

It is a special memory of a time before my brother became a troubled teenager and started to drift away from our happy family. For that reason all of my memories of him when he was younger and happy have remained like precious treasures to me. I have always longed for him to be happy again, a part of our family once more.

I am not ready to tell you the painful story of how my brother’s forging his own path in life has turned out for him. It has been a long and winding road for him. I am pleased that he is aware of how eager the whole family are for him to COME HOME! He is taking baby steps to get back on his feet. I would like to share one of my precious lace-like memories with you.

My brother took me to the woods a few minutes from our family home. I remember the exact woods we went to. They ran along side my primary school. Only the trip to the woods was before I ever started school. I may have been three of four years old. My brother was eight years older than I.  So he would have been eleven or twelve.

My memory of those woods is that they were very dark. I was frightened but I trusted my brother and kept tight hold of his hand. We were there to find conkers. We must have found them, because from the woods my memory jumps to our kitchen. Dad was helping us with the next stage of our task.

I remember the conkers being baked in the oven. I remember Dad helping my brother to drill holes through them and feeding string through those holes which were knotted securely.

Then came the action!

My brother was brilliant, spot on with his aim.  He kept on encouraging me to have another turn.  But it was completely beyond me to aim my conker and hit his.

I remember his excitement, his laughter during the game of conkers. But I also remember his affection for me as his little sister. I looked up to him.  I was so proud of my older brother. I remember with fondness how safe I had felt holding my older brother’s hand when we were traipsing through the muddy woods, climbing over broken branches and tree roots.

I have precious early memories of my brother before his troublesome teenage years which he never seemed to recover from.  But it is frustrating that those memories are full of holes like lace, though exquisitely pretty. Favourite childhood memories of my dear brother – happy, full of smiles, full of laughter.  My brother who was so fond of me, and whom I was so very proud of.

I cling to those precious lace-like memories.

Good Grief…I Found My Teeth

Recently, my sister Milly picked up a few items from my flat on the other side of London. She brought back some clothes and books and personal items.  I have been sorting out what she brought back and trying to decide what was useful and what I could give away.

I opened a box today and found my Purdy paintbrushes, books and training manuals (including my beloved house-keeping manual) and then there was a little gift bag with two unidentifiable objects in them.

One turned out to be a blue latex glove with some strange funny little objects inside.  I could not think what they were…and then I suddenly remembered someone had given me them at work and told them to put them down to protect the plants I had outside my French doors (I never used them) – slug pellets.  I didn’t have any problem with slugs eating my plants.

The other object was a tube full of some kind of liquid.  When I shook it to try to figure out what on earth I had kept it for, I had such a fright…it was my wisdom teeth.  Wisdom teeth are huge aren’t they.  I have no idea why I kept them.

Brings back memories…again, memories linked to my ex-flatmate.  Memories of what he did just before I went to hospital to have my wisdom teeth removed.  Anyway…I will not think about that right now…I need to leave him inside my drafts folder until I have the emotional energy to write about him again.