The 25year journey

#seemaontheedge #housewares #sda

So I completed 25 years in this wonderful industry last month.😳 Do feel free to say “surely not” or “you look too young ”. But the truth is I am that old.

I thought I’d take a little look back (some of the words are from an old blog called The alternative CV). No I’m not looking for a job!! And yes this is a little indulgent.

All companies mentioned exist and are real as are the people I’ve met along the way. Some haven’t been able to lose me!! I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone – blame the menopause!!

Cole & Mason(Farnborough)

I joined when my daughter was 6 months old . She’ll be 26 this year! The building is right by the dump- especially yummy on hot summer days. Only the planes from the air show made the location worthwhile. I met my sister from another life here @Debbie Acquaye . It’s not a salt and pepper pot I learnt- it’s a mill. Not any old mill but a Cole & Mason mill. We hustled and beavered away to make it a success. Long awaited rounders tournament every summer that created heated competition and memories. This is where I learnt the art of detail, process and knowing your numbers thanks to @Nick Cornwall. This is also where I entered the world of Ambiente, Elite (Exclusive Housewares) and The Progressive Housewares Dinner. They all definitely deserve their own entries another time. Hard work but what fun! All that air kissing …@Ashley Rogers @Rebecca Wilson @Liz Saunders @Nadia Swinney @Freda Cronk @Andrew Thornton.

Tefal to Groupe SEB (Langley)

This is the brand that gave me my second husband. Not sure if it’s part of their ongoing ranges. I also picked up some other WOTEs (women on the edge) along the way @Louise Hickling @Laura Starkie and @Meeta Patel. Those that transition from being colleagues , to work friends to friends for life. Working for the French was a pleasure and gave me exposure to non veg veg food! They just didn’t get it in those days.Nearly 10 years of my life. Surely deserves its own private hearing. The non stick years with a few plugs thrown in. It gave me confidence and taught me the phrase “soft launch” thanks to @Ian Mackey and “more champagne “ thanks to @Glenn Meek. I fell in love with Jamie Oliver and had Conference overload and laughs with @Steve Punter @Jeremy Taylor and @Paul Neiss Too many shenanigans to publish. I perfected the art of air kissing, juggling and showing how it’s done with an all female team and learning to work with Marketing muppets as a sales tosser (@Ian Watkison) or box shifter!🤦🏽‍♀️ And they were the best Marketing Muppets around @Chris Gee and @Dominic Worsley being two of the best. This is also where I began my OU career which has led to me currently trying to finish a Masters in Classics after completing a History Degree – don’t let anyone say you’re not capable or outside pursuits will impact your work!

DKB (Cole & Mason all grown up)

I continued my love of Jamie Oliver here but may have shifted my loyalties to a certain guy called Ken Hom. I accumulated a kitchen full of tools and gadget that could chop/peel/prep any fruit or veg you care to throw at me. I learnt the value of TK Maxx -“It’s not just clearance”, whilst being a John Lewis junkie and a Lakeland luvvie. And I perfected my art for schmoozing and building the wonderful Housewares network of colleagues,friends and acquaintances. I learnt a new word “cardrobe” that depicts my mobile life. @Mark Avery @Lindsey Hoyle @Jo Adger @Louise Ayres.


The Belgian chocolate makers. No no – not unhealthy chocolate but healthy ceramic non stick. Ready to conquer the world with high energy, gusto and fabulously designed products. This business gave me my first Directorship and allowed me to spread my wings thanks to @Zouhair Yahia. It also allowed me to travel to China and HK, alas on economy. Not a good look when your buyers are ahead of you in business 😂. I learnt how to be independent, build a great team (Angela Hodgkinson Sharon Murphy Matt Sampson Guy Furby) and be even more determined.

BHETA (Birmingham)

Now at BHETA and Exclusively Shows it’s a pleasure to work on behalf of the industry with @Will Jones . Not only allowing me to stay in touch with old industry peers such as @Tony Dorgan, @Geoff Gorst @Sam Bagga @Veronica Davison. But also Strong females like @Kate O’Neill who I gave know for this entire period and @Jane Mason since she had her first son!

As you will see for me it’s always about the people and challenging and stretching myself. Work is always there. Things change and will change again. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some standout people on the retail side-@Anna Berry, @Phillipa Simons, @Kathryn Farrel, @Caroline Rowell, @Amanda Reed @Amanda Ranson @Kate Carrick . Oh look an all female cast. But I can’t leave out @Ben Phillips who was always a great sounding board. And how could I forget @Jo Howard, @Warren Lomax and @Jakki Brown who always seem to have been around keeping us informed.

How the retail landscape has changed though. Woolies used to be my biggest account. And how silly was I to keep passing up on the Amazon opportunity . Could have been running my own digital start up by now 😂🤦🏽‍♀️. Working on the promo calendar for Debenhams used to keep me busy all year and gave me the skills to duck and dive between them, Allders and HOF. The gorgeous shops that were Steamer Trading. But we now have what the consumer has created and wants (for now at least). I love the fact that there are so many Independents still going strong – adapting and working with suppliers to be just what we want on our doorstep.

On a personal level too much has happened and I keep getting told LinkedIn is not the place. But I disagree; work is a part of you and it is the full 24hours that make you not just a 45minute zoom call. And I know no one is asking for any advice but here goes …work with passion, enthusiasm, have fun and be kind. Here’s to a few more years.



The Queens, the hills and the herbs

So she said come to a well woman retreat – no boys allowed (not even you Vishal). We went looking for answers and direction and came away full, and not just our bellies. The Castel embraced us in its old walls that had seen so much pain but stands proud,alone defying the gods of the sun and wind. In view of the mountains and forests we lived like queens for a week. Even the church bell rang out to welcome us and wishes us well.

A strong woman needs sustenance. Who says you can’t eat well in the ways of the vegan? The team shopped long and far (UK & Spain 😂) to fill those kitchen cupboards. How would we do justice to all these wonderful ingredients… enter stage right Angie and stage left Nitasha and then the magic pot that kept giving.

Each meal tastier than the last (can’t decide my favourite 🤦🏽‍♀️) and all quizzing the chefs .. “what’s in that, how did you do that , what does that do for me, what herbs did you use, can you share the recipe and can I have seconds “!! Eating as a family at each meal stories and secrets were shared along with much laughter. The table was laid and cleared as if by the magic fairies. If food is love and this was then a true romance.

I suppose I should really have done this at the start but how could I put us before the Castel and the food 😂. We were just passing guests in this 10th century idyll.No ghosts, well not any those who wanted to share our food! In no particular let me introduce you to the Spanish family. We were a motley but beautiful bunch (no bias here) of varying ages but after the needles we all looked around 30 somethings!

The Players

Gujarati Ninja: Rita: she may be small but don’t be fooled !! Super glam and willing to learn everything thrown at her.

The strongest: Rekha: she may have been the oldest but again with wisdom comes strength.

The giant : Marc: the gentle giant who oozed love for his world and made the Castel a place fit for women.

Wonder Woman: Nitasha: do I really need to say anything ? Not sure if actually sleeps 😂. Gives so much of herself to us all that we do think of her as the mother.

The Creative One: Nadine: or she could be the dog whisperer. Filled with curiosity for the world.

The Silver Fox: Urmila: So beautiful inside and out. Stronger than she thinks.

The Sporty One: Asifa: Just got on with it. Nothing phased her. She is safe to share a bed with 🥰

The Adventurer: Poonam: Adventurers fall and get up and climb higher and further 💪🏽.

The Giver: Angie. I could have said feeder but that would not have been enough. Warm being.

The Observer: Seema: that’s me. Rude to talk about oneself so I won’t and will snooze.

It wasn’t a holiday you signed upto . It’s not an army camp either. It is a well woman retreat. And if you weren’t well before you certainly were on departure (well most of us 🙆🏽‍♀️).

Sharing with Asifa in the honeymoon suite simply meant we did more steps than anyone else but the prize was the awesome view! To sleep with no curtains or blinds was liberating and if I propped myself up slightly I could savour the Pyrenees.

Morning call was 6am (5.30 get up!) and Asifa and I perfected the art of getting ready for morning yoga to approximately 12 mins 😂 We started at 30!

A short walk across the main building we would enter the church – atmospheric and haunting with lit candles with a red glow.
Sun salutations completed by 6.30 we would then start kicking and punching whilst squatting. Not each other of-course. We were strong queens able to protect ourselves.

And before you could throw another ten punches it was time for the big breakfast created by Nitasha and made by Angie. You would occasionally find recycled peels and other useful veg and fruit bits somewhere. But she made us drink our coloured juices my lord! Yes 2 glasses and if you’re really unlucky. Yes of-course I will carry on. I just need a few months to grow my beetroot.

Ok girls get ready for the walking (minimum 15k steps) or an adventure. Every day we walked and talked. We climbed, we slipped, we straddled, we clambered and then we sat and rested. Refreshed with water, oranges and those little snack bars. Depending on how hard we’d worked we sometimes got two and on the last walk we were trusted to carry our own. I’m sure Nitasha didn’t trust me not to eat it straight away 🤪.

Who’d have thought we would be able to collect mint, oregano, dill, thyme and rosemary. Who needs a Waitrose !

One day we were taken to what can only be described as a fairly tale glade. With a green aura matched only by Asifa’s swimming costume. We swam (briefly) in the cold water and warmed up on the rocks with the blazing sun which made it through the trees. I felt like a Famous Five member – we had found our secret hideaway.

Our resident model on all walks was Rekha. How could you say no 😂. She would just sit or stand and we would follow. She does make a good model though and has left “the three holes” embedded in our minds.

We managed to elude the rain but some got to experience the rainbow of a lifetime.

The takeouts or the bits I just forgot to mention to date
⁃ The pulley that took everything to and from the castle ! I mean everything – you know what I am referring to.
⁃ The dogs – Truffalo and Dora . Who doesn’t have an item that hasn’t been in Truffo’s mouth. Wise old Dora was just rolling her eyes … conserve your energy little one. But there is no telling these youngsters .
⁃ The juices 😂. What colour are you today ?! No please don’t make me have a third glass. It’s good for you – ok give me 4!
⁃ The pistachio squares – I’d have been svelte if it wasn’t for these dastardly treats.
⁃ The endless teas. Even the interesting ones 😉
⁃ The lack of makeup 💄. But don’t take away my earrings.
⁃ No hairdryer , straighteners or iron – how very novel.
⁃ Black salt : it’s a love hate relationship.

Can’t believe I have to wait until September 2024 for the next retreat with this teacher. Peru I will be ready for that journey.

Thanks for the ride ladies .🥰

Photos are from a number of people.

The Fussy Tea Drinker does The Coffee Festival again

I ventured into the big smoke and to the London Coffee festival on Friday.

Some tips if you plan to come next time!

– the venue is trendy (Old Truman Brewery at Spitafields)

⁃ Not suitable for heels

⁃ It gets really hot.

⁃ It gets really busy.

⁃ Flats boots – comfort

⁃ Elbows ready, crowd control

The place was dripping with young trendy types, mostly with tight black t-shirts, tattoos, and just generally looking cool. I may have felt a little old.

Anyway I should tell you a little more about The Coffee Festival. For coffee lovers and connoisseurs this is a must do event. Every variety, combination and permutation of beans, coffee machines, method of roasting and added flavours all under one roof. A great demo area where super cool baristas were showing their skills – unfortunately wasted on me! When I say machines I mean everything from what a newbie to coffee may have (the ones that deliver the same quality of coffee through pods every morning) to those machines in trendy cafes that splutter, gurgle and require an engineering degree even to approach them. Plus all the accessories you could imagine; think coffee art.

The coffee vibe

Walking around you need to just go with the flow and not expect a normal trade show (because it is a consumer show too) with straight rows of stands. This adds to the quirkinesses of the event. I came across clothing , bags, green travel cups, healthy energy bars, cake , alternative milk and so much more. My favourite were the tea companies being brazen amongst the coffee ☕️.

Everything apart from coffee

It’s all about the experience and increasing engagement. I should know. A box arrives for hubby every month with beans, details of origin, how to make the perfect grind and tasting notes. I’ve seen “hints of honey” and “overtones of dates”. It’s like fine wine apparently. 🙄

There was Turmeric Latte, organic lemonade and ice-creams but it was far too early to be indulging in cocktails or dancing to the music that filled the air.

Every trade show needs a few djs

I have it on good authority that there are over 600 independent Coffee shops inside the M25 corridor with about 3 opening every day. These will be the ones alongside the vegan delis.

And do you know yours truly doesn’t actually drink coffee!! I feel bit of a fraud writing about this and hence why it’s a little lacking in coffee detail. I can see why it enthuses people;it is more than just about coffee. It’s about fashion,lifestyle, being green and being part of the buzz. And from a commercial viewpoint it’s great to see entrepreneurs and established brands sharing the same space. I visited some of our members (Dualit, Aerolatte, Jura and DeLonghi), connected with some prospects and even bumped into the John Lewis team.

New launch

“The can do”attitude was palpable. It’s the perfect place for new brands to showcase their products and meet the right audience in this sector – both trade and consumer.

WMF commercial

So if you’re a buyer for this category, starting your own place, a coffee buff or just “hip” get yourself down to a Coffee Festival soon.

You never know who you will meet.

Team from Progressive

Me, well I am off for a nice cup of PG tips.


Seema 🙏🏽

Sugar Love

This used to be my sugar intake (roughly for my tea in a week)…

1.5 spoons per cup

3/4 cups a day ( let’s say 3 🤔)

31.5 teaspoons per week

31.5 teaspoons of sugar !

There is so much coverage about the evils of sugar and that’s not my bag here. Some of you know that a few months ago that I was told I was pre diabetic. For someone whose life revolves around not just eating but constantly taking about food this was a real blow. I get that in the overall scheme of life it’s not up there . However having been told that I was osteopenic earlier this year and had severely low b12 (a preoccupation for most vegetarians) I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.

Happy to report that I’m not pre diabetic anymore. I’ve made or tried to make a few changes . My relationship with food is in flux.I always valued and appreciated it but almost took for granted what I could eat and when ! And know so many people who can’t and aren’t able to do that. A friend put it simply and said, “you just need a new relationship with food”.

My obsession with mangoes , sugar in my tea, having something “a little sweet” after every meal , anything fried, snacking and not forgetting the unhealthy intake of bread (thinking it wasn’t bad because I was having sourdough or seeded or anything away from a sliced white loaf!!).

Churros with salter caramel and chocolate sauce 🤦🏽‍♀️
Parathas and potatoes 😂
Mangoes and watermelon 🤦🏽‍♀️
Afternoon tea 🙄

I always blamed papa for my “sweet tooth” and the fact that I’m Indian ( we also have type 2 diabetes in the family) and my intake of carbs on the fact that I’m vegetarian… I need them to bulk out my meals. You guys have fish or meat!!

Please don’t think I’ve had some sort of awakening. Not at all. But I’ve just made a few minor changes and hoping to continue.

⁃ intermittent fasting occasionally

⁃ Rarely drink tea and when I do it’s with sweetener/zylatol

⁃ Less fruit ( no more dried mangoes my travelling buddies 😂)

⁃ trying to keep with the walking

⁃ Still having treats but just a teeny weeny bit less.

⁃ Rarely bake

When I had the diagnosis I thought I was one of the few – not so it turns out as so many people would say they had been or were the same !! So not so special after all.😂. I became obsessed with hearing everyone’s advice and got myself into a pickle. I know my indian friends will just roll their eyes and say it comes with the territory of being Indian.

We all have our “thing” we need to deal with and these are mine (atm) along wit those pesky ankles. I also have to change my mantra …”there is always room for chips, pudding or mangoes”!

We can do HRT another day 😂🙈🤦🏽‍♀️!

#stayhealthy #keepactive #keepmoving #lovelife

Resolutions, get a grip or go with the flow

Won’t be giving these babies up!

Why do we have to do this every year. Ok so no one is holding you down and forcing you to set up new year’s resolutions. Do you feel you should… I suppose that may come from something you’ve already been thinking about changing or improving or simply continuing in the coming year.

I will share a few of mine. What’s the harm I say. It’s just a little mental checklist with myself . In the past I’ve had varied success. There was the time I decided I would walk away from any negative conversation at work … I think I made it to week three. I was constant excusing myself. Note negative does not mean harmful. Then there was the time I said I would not buy any new shoes ….I did quite well but the following January I was a woman possessed !! Oh and the year that I said I would not buy any accessories – that was a total fail! I’m not painting a very positive picture of myself so to balance this out I will say that I have had lots of positive results over the years too. I love and thrive on lists so a focused target for the whole year works for me.

So perhaps I will start after the bank holiday tomorrow. These are my chosen few.

⁃ I will give more time for my Classics Masters . Did I tell you that I had started ? I was worried that I would drop out by now. Need to get reading and stop binging on Netflix recommendations – stop it you lot!!

⁃ I will shop for fresh foods more regularly so I stop the waste. I’m much better at freezing and creating random meals. After this December I also need to cook my own food 🤔😜.

⁃ I will strengthen my ankles so I can get back my fitness and dance more 💃🏾.

Just grrrrrrrr …

⁃ I will only eat samosas once a month! Hmmmm….

⁃ I will try to be a good member of my family & community.

Whatever you decide to do or not do or try to do … do it with gusto, belief and love.

We got you 2022!! You just wait and see.

Stay safe, stay healthy ans be kind.

Seema 🙏🏽

NB:: I’m avoiding any more food related resolutions as I know that I can’t be trusted !! 😋

Exclusively Exhausted – Better with BHETA

The Exclusively Team – l to r (Rajni , Helen, Will, Victoria, me, Richard and Phil) Simon Boyd, Steve Richardson and Zara Miah missing

I have been coming to the Exclusively Housewares (now just Exclusively) show for many years. First with Tefal, then DKB and lastly with GreenPan. You may think I like being in the industry, but I have yet to decide !

2019 was the first time I attended the show as part of the BHETA team (two weeks into the job), but still not fully aware of the organization behind the show. 2020 came and went without the show happening because of the dreaded COVID.

Then as 2020 came to an end, plans were beginning to form for the 2021 show. Then we moved to the August dates. Yes, it wasn’t perfect for all….but when is anything ever perfect?! And who has the luxury of choice this year?!!

So here we were with plans done, marketing done, invites sent, trends forecasted, influencers informed, magazines scheduled. Had we forgotten anything?

I got on the train from Bedford on Monday the 23rd, both excited and nervous. Numerous dresses and “flat pumps” packed. Days of the heels are long gone.

How many days?
Travel in comfort

London was back to its normal busy self and as the taxi pulled up in front of the Business Design Centre I felt happy. I couldn’t wait to get inside.

Even before I got through the doors I was met by familiar faces; do we smile, elbow tap, fist pump, shake hands or, god forbid, hug? We all laughed and smiled and did whatever we were all comfortable with at that moment.

Inside there was the normal organised chaos of unbuilt stands, boxes of products strewn in the aisles and casually dressed sales & marketing people. People missing cups, hooks, products and other bits in that last few hours of preparation. Oh, then there were too many tables and chairs/stools, not enough lighting, too much lighting, no passes, need more passes, when does the show open and close.

And so it begins

However, I know from experience that first thing on Tuesday morning it will be as if the trade show fairy has come and fixed everything for everyone. Didn’t you know about her?

The BHETA stand was expertly put together by the team.

Will Jones
Rajni Kaur- our newest team member
Cutting and sticking

The Trend Hub was beautifully created by team Scarlet Opus – how cool were those displays!

Scarlet Opus doing their thing – Shelley and Victoria

My lounge may be going into a Neo Luxe transformation – well I have the green sofa, just need the black wall and perhaps a gold bowl!? Richard ensured that all the suppliers taking part in the Brand-showcase were ready for the press, influencers, bloggers and anyone who can help with the sales and PR of their products.

I’m Richard

Day one of the show was busy, buzzy, bustling and business focused. Buyers turned out in force to support the industry. The BHETA team were welcoming our visitors.

Keeley Vernon , Helen Farnell and Rajni Kaur

I even managed to capture Helen Miller on the Le Creuset stand and Sarah Wood at the Launchpad.

Helen with Philippa and George from the Le Creuset Team
Sara Wood and the Spice Kitchen team

I got star struck by Lynsey Crombie, The Queen of Clean; her hacks are great!

Lynsey Crombie in her fab dress

No party this year but we were able to have a drinks reception; just drinks. Not even any peanuts for safety reasons. I did wonder if we could have handed out individual packets as per flights??

Marcus, Tim, Martin and Ian

Day two I was lucky enough to meet Juliet Sears; bakes amazing cakes on This Morning.

Juliet Sear

Oh and I issued the contracts for Exclusively 2022. First one back with their contract – Ijaz. Just fabulous!

Ijaz from B&I
Will and Ijaz

The show was full of beautiful, functional, eco, well designed, branded, unbranded and varied products from a number of categories. I intentionally didn’t take too many product photos as I would probably have killed my phone. But here are a few of people with some products .

Sachin Bagga showcasing Pifco
Thermos team
David Conduit & Tom Bedford
Nigel and David
Mark, Tracy, Jane and Grant
Joe Sillet-Funky Appliance
Shakti Hempson – collecting her champagne

The show was full of established businesses and newcomers.

The show welcomed more tableware suppliers.

The show saw buyers from independent cook shops, major grocers specialist stores to online.

And at the end of two days when it all finishes, the chaos reappears for the contractors to clear up.

And so it ends

I can report that I did 28,282 steps and climbed 38 flights over the two days. My poor ankles. Perhaps that will have worked of the yummy lunch and pudding served up by Liam and his team.

So, there you have it . We will see you next year. I can’t actually put into words how great it was to be with so many friends from the industry. Because we are friends now, aren’t we?

Work colleagues, work friends, friends Laura Starkie and Louise Hickling

Geoff Gorst

And fabulous to make new contacts and meet away from a screen.

Thanks for exhibiting and visiting and making this a great industry.

However you got home, I hope it was an easy journey. My uber ride back to St Pancras was rather painful, but it was a comfortable, familiar pain. Oh London… I’ve missed you.

Note to self – go straight home and don’t be lulled into a dinner date, even if it is your daughter. Exclusively Exhausted vegetarian at the German Gymnasium… all very wrong.










The Spice Cupboard – with extra spice !

Manasi’s Dabba

Well, I don’t know why I hadn’t written this before. Credit where it’s due, it was prompted by Manasi Desphpande, sending a photo of her masala dabba .

Then I remembered a sketch by Michael McIntyre about the spice cupboard and thinking what a boring bunch of unloved spices. It was shown to us by a marketing bod when I worked for Cole & Mason to get us all excited about spice . C&M are purveyors of excellent Salt & Pepper mills (please don’t offend by calling them pots, they are mills!) and spice racks. Other brands are available (I have to stay impartial now). However, I am sure an Indian spice cupboard would be a little more colourful, interesting and entertaining. Note – this is not a cookery lesson, just a little stroll through my cupboard.

Cole & Mason

So let’s start with what is a spice and what is a herb? Ok, so you don’t know and don’t really care, you just use and cook. But knowledge is power and great to impress dinner guests.

Good old Wiki says, ‘spice is a seed, fruit, root, bark or other plant substance primarily used for flavouring or colouring food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are the leaves, flowers, or stems of plants used for favouring or as a garnish’.

Herbs in my garden

Storing spices has become a mission in my house. These big ones are for my tried and tested regular.

My go to jars
Whoops 😬

They are out when I’m planning lots of cooking on a day. Perhaps I should label the Lids. I thought I should just talk about the key ones I use again and again, otherwise this could end up being a long read (which I understand isn’t the done thing on these blogs).

The salt, excuse the heart disease but I can’t live without it. And perhaps I eat just a bit too much. Just remember you can’t take away but you can always add. And for those who want to push the boat out go for the additional varieties available – we have pink Himalayan and rock salt. Good old Saxa table salt never gets to go to the party.

Salt isn’t salt

I can imagine the haldi (turmeric) all dolled up saying “move out of the way, boys, I’m now the star of this show. I’m so much in demand I’ve had to franchise myself out into different forms 😂 All the Indians roll their eyes at inflated prices of turmeric infused milk/drinks/shots. Just find a an Indian grocer and treat yourself. Watch those posh white worktops though. When she finds you, she will stay with you!

Left to right : Kasthuri Methi (fenugreek), Haldi (Turmeric), Mirch (Chilli Powder), Garam Masala, Dhaniya (Coriander Powder), Jeera (Cumin Seeds), Rai (Mustard Seeds).

And chilli powder. Shades of red, fiery and hot. I’m sure it would be a she. Don’t mess with her because too much will overpower and she will take control of the dish. The paprika is the gentler quieter cousin with a slightly sweet personality.

Garam masala is like the don of the spice cupboard. Don’t mess with him. A combo of many other spices. He is the answer to everything. Everyone has their own recipe for the perfect punchy masala.

Dhaniya (ground coriander) is the right hand man to the turmeric, I reckon. You can’t do without it. Again, coriander is such a show off! You can’t cook an Indian meal without the herb and then it ensures you have the seeds for certain dishes (!!!!) and powder as a staple.

Cumin seeds (jeera). They start the party going and once it starts sizzling you know it’s time to add Heeng or Astofoetida. Partners in crime.

Mustard seeds (rai) are a little like tiny shots of heat and, like cumin seeds, are used at the start. When they start popping, you can add the other spices.

Kasthuri methi or fenugreek Is a powerful beast. The fragrance lingers and also emirates from your pores – trust me. But I love it.Methi leaves fresh can be used for so many dishes and the dried version just add depth to a curry. Fenugreek seeds are a must for aubergine dishes. Also let me introduce you to Amchoor powder (dried mango powder). For any dishes that need a little tang..)

Amchoor powder
For little cooks

But basically, I have Indian, Italian, baking, Mexican, Middle Eastern ie Ottolenghi and randoms (One off recipes/used once eg …. marjoram? Mace?)

Use more !
Too many jar types

My spice cupboards need attention. Yes, they really do. I’ve tried to divide them into the following groups and now I’m in the new house it’s gone to pot!

Perhaps I should go back to the dabbas and create one for the following as a start
⁃ North Indian
⁃ Rest of India
⁃ Italian
⁃ Rest of world
⁃ Baking
⁃ Random
⁃ Didn’t look before we bought it again tray

Happy cooking and buying! You never know when that is going to come in use. Hopefully, this will prompt you to have a little explore in your spice cupboard.

I have organisation envy !! Manasi again

Remember Spice is for life 😂.


So a simple recipe shared with me by Simantee. It’s for a spicy tomato chutney. No measurements given .. just trial and error.

Ingredients : Mix equal quantities of fenugreek /cumin/mustard/nigella seeds in jar. This mix is called Panch Puran. Freshly chopped tomatoes (10 medium sized) chillies (I used fresh but you can use powder). Sugar – half a cup. A little salt

Method: Heat a little oil in a heavy based pot. Drop in a heaped teaspoon of mix and when they start popping add in the chopped tomatoes and sugar/chillies/salt. And just leave to cook away until the tomato juice evaporates . The longer you leave it, the better. Keep tasting and you will probably need to add more sugar. Eat with anything 😉

Get the best tastiest tomatoes
Panch Puran Seed Mix
Tomato mix simmering

A summary and conclusion to 2020…yes I know I’m a little late 🤦🏽‍♀️… a photo montage

I’ll find a way

January 2020 was going to be the start of a new chapter. Learning to live without mum and all the good and bad that came with her during her last few years. Holidays to be booked. Plans to be made. Lists to be written. Some calm to be restored. Hmmm, well, that didn’t happen, did it?!

Remembering mum in August

February 2020 was when we started wavering; we did the elbow taps and foots taps, even if it looked like a country dance. IT was coming towards us. Yes, we could go to Frankfurt. Or should we? It’s work. It will be fine. No hugs and kisses, not even air kisses. The emergence of sanitisers was overwhelming – any size and brand to suit you. Oh, how we mocked those that were being cautious!

Industry folk and friends

Halt everything.

Stop driving.

Hunker down.

Work from home.

Wash those hands.

Uncertain expressions.

Toilet roll hunt started.

Shall we zoom?

We’ll be normal soon…. it’s just one Lockdown!

Daily briefings became an addiction.

Quest for one nugget of positivity.

The art of furloughing was thrust upon us. We were the lucky ones.

So much time and what do we do first!!

Clearing out, must do.

Shed clearing in April

Gardening, grow something.

Starting the veggies
Coming along nicely
Oh my
Courgette bounty

Cooking, most definitely.

And even managed to cut hubby’s hair!

Baking, you’d be silly not to!

Yoga, for sure.

Balance and strength

Cycling, no doubt.

Walking, what, just walking ?

Lakes walking
Bedford walking
Richmond walking
Biddenham walking
Norfolk walking

Blogging, why not!

TV boxed sets, let’s stay in the game.

Quizzes, affirmative. To stay connected.

Meditation, make time.

Phew, just enough time to sleep then!

Oh and don’t forget to mask up!

Lakes .. masks on a boat 🤷🏽‍♀️

Long summer of glorious sunshine made us forget the pain and the missed “everythings”.

Happy Birthday from afar

We kept moving forward counting the losses and thanking those who propped us up. We became addicted to online shopping and formed relationships with the delivery guys.

The vaccine to combat IT were announced but we were tiered again in November. December we were hopeful for a Brexit deal and the weather was as grim as the mood. Christmas came and went. Ah well, there will be others.

It’s Christmas

Lockdown 3? Bring it on!!

And here we are nearly at the finish line. A little overweight possibly with all the home cooking and baking. Less shops, fewer jobs and….more house moves! Go figure.

This blog is only two months late because of a certain house move which is covered in my next blog. However, it seems apt still as it is a year since the first BoJo directive to stay home ….

Just hang on and stay strong. 2021, we are ready for you…now we are into Spring it has got to be good, right? We have proven we are kind, loving, giving and resourceful.

We think of those we have lost and those that continue to work tirelessly so that the rest of us remain safe. The vaccine is getting to all and I pray that we will all be in a better place soon. Family is precious so we will be together again soon.

I will be available for hugs…. that goes for you too Mr G. 🥰



NB1. My daughter finished her degree with a non-graduation like many others. She then started and continues with a Masters online.

NB2. Captain Tom showed us that anything is possible as long as you are determined and positive.

NB3. Nigella showed us how to butter toast.

NB4: Sadly, I learnt about cauliflowers bolting, but to my delight, my sunflowers stood tall and towered over me.

Hello up there

NB5: I had some random moments that made me bake hot cross buns from scratch. I’m ok now! Phew.

NB6: I realised that I was reasonably good at following recipes. No more shop bought cakes here!

NB7: I realised that community means a lot to me. Supporting others brings inner peace.

NB8: We all learnt about the R number. And became fans of Chris Whitty.

NB9: We all know where Barnard Castle is, don’t we?

NB10: I became the proud owner of a veg trug

NB11: We ate a lot of Courgettes!

NB12: A bubble became more meaningful than what it is physically!

NB13: Chem Eng girlies stay together forever 🥰. Strong women together 👊🏾

There was & There were & There will be – a year on

Time is a easy to measure;seconds, minutes, hours,days, weeks,months and years. But in real life you spend the entire time wondering what has happened to time, wishing your life away, making the most of every minute or just wasting time. It’s a mystery. People fill your world and time and then leave. Mummy did that a year ago and I have been spending days wondering how I should mark it. Silly me, all I have to do is just be with loved ones and cook in her house, our home . 💕

There was a lifetime of normal.

There was a lifetime of being independent.

There was a lifetime of being strong.

There was a lifetime of being a daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunty.

There were two children – one of each.

There was a lifetime a lifetime ago.

There were many hours at the mandir.

There were countless steps along the Broadway.

There were yards and yards of sarees.

There were never ending supply of shoes.

There were countless people fed, my cooking was in demand.

There were the strokes, they were drawn to me.

There was the dementia, when did it arrive ?

There were the months of being incomplete.

There were the piles of dosset boxes.

There were the glorious months back home in India.

There were the endless adaptations to make life easy for me.

There were the wheelchair walks to the park.

There were the attempts at frame walking, I was an unwilling participant.

There were the fun days with family.

There were the visits from the grandchildren;Nanimum and Daadiji.

There were the times I couldn’t stop talking.

There were the days I made life bleak for those around me – they didn’t seem to mind! They pretended…

There were the flowers that Guddi always bought.

There was the smile that Simon bought.

There was the love that Sam showered me with.

There were yet more ambulance rides.

There were the worried looks on faces.

There were many hospitals and many wards.

There was the garden where I soaked up the sun, the amazing tilt & space wheelchair.

There were the ups and downs of the hoist machine, some escape from the bed.

There was June who shouted all the time but she didn’t know why?

There was the lady who was beside me for many weeks and then wasn’t.

There was the young girl who lied and made lots of noise.

But she couldn’t help it, I saw the cuts.

There was the young woman who moaned all the time. She wanted a hotel experience.

There were the women who had no visitors, my heart breaks for them.

There were the nurses who called me Aunty.

There were the nurses who cared.

There were the young doctors who seemed too scared to speak.

There was the giving consultant.

There was the “get the bed emptied” consultant.

There were the relentless needles, hunt the vein.

There were the unforgivable hospital meals that Ramesh fed me.

There was the nasty thickener in everything, even the tea.

There is this room, with Sky TV no less

There is Zee, Sony and religious programmes, I want my soaps.

There is Gayatri Mantra every time Guddi is about.

There is the missing tea.

There are flowers, photos and a little temple – this is my new home.

There are the people standing over me, wanting me to acknowledge them.

This is Meadowhouse Hospice , this is my last stop.

There was my family.

There was the love.

There was the worry.

There were the tears.

There was hope.

There will be a future for all.

There will be someone watching closely.

There will be light again.


My mummy

Shashi Bala Sharma

10th July 1946 – 11th October 2019

Have you seen my mojo?

Don’t worry I am not changing careers and taking you down the path of some life coach. I suppose it’s important to actually know what mojo is before I can find it again. Mojo isn’t my dog or cat if you were wondering. My favourite definition of mojo is “your personal power”.

Luckily for me it wasn’t missing for long. But it prompted me to mention it to a few people and also try and understand where it went and why?

So why could it have gone.

⁃ Delayed reaction to turning 55?

⁃ Lack of exercise?

⁃ Persistent grey and wet weather that seems to have no end to it. Surely the earth must be hydrated by now.

⁃ Dark evenings … yes I know it’s autumn and it happens every year but how quickly we forget. I think I may become more of a sun worshipper going forwards.

⁃ The uncertainty of house buying and selling. Don’t even ask me to elaborate at this point.

⁃ Missing the student…surely not !

⁃ I had seen lots of family over the weekend and was just missing them.

⁃ Week leading up to mum’s death anniversary.

⁃ Thought of another lockdown. Head is spinning as to what projects I could take on and how would papa cope.

Things I did to get my sparkle back

⁃ Cooked, my go to place. Just need to bake over the next two days and that will make both me and hubby happy.

⁃ Went swimming early morning to start the day with gusto.

⁃ Have arranged to see friends so we can have long lingering conversations that help to put everything back in place.

⁃ Got stuck into work and embracing being back full time, no really I am.

⁃ Got out my boots and gilet. Every weather change throws up new fashion possibilities that can brighten your spirit.

⁃ Ordered another book , to go alongside the numerous others that need reading. I refuse to turn up to book club just for the chat 😂 next time;twice is enough.

And it transpires that I wasn’t the only one feeling a little “meh” on Monday. I’m sure everyone has lists of their own and it’s good to understand those.

The trick is not to try and think you need to resolve whatever this feeling or phase by yourself, even if you are an independent, confident, positive human (most of the time!). I wonder who that could be ?



NB: I don’t think Donald Trump has lost his mojo. 😂. Common sense possibly, but not his mojo… I suppose the drugs may have helped.

NNB: I think Boris may have lost his mojo though. 😂

NNNB: Richard Gere never loses his mojo 😉.

NNNNB: Stay safe and well 🥰