*Some items in this post have been sent for review

What is the secret to choosing great summer clothes for men? Dressing for each season brings it’s own challenges.  In the autumn and winter thicker fabrics, dark colours and subtle patterns suit the colder weather. The summer bring hot weather and humidity. Light fabrics and bright colours will help you embrace long lazy sunny days.

Summer clothes for me

Choosing Great Summer Clothes for Men

Looking good during the heat of the summer requires a little planning. Looking good whilst staying smart can be a difficult task. Men who look stylish in the winter can take on an anything goes attitude in the summer. Think clashing prints, socks with sandals, three quarter length trousers and hankies with knots on the head. With a little forethought you can avoid the wild on holiday look and dress to look stylish despite the heat.

Tips for Summer Dressing

When dressing for the summer think about colour co-ordination, good fit and minimal style for a smart but casual look. You should have certain key pieces in your wardrobe and use them with accessories to create a different look.

Shorts

A decent pair of shorts can transform your summer wardrobe. When choosing shorts ensure they are not too short. Just above the knee is a good length to aim for. Choose shorts that are not too baggy without huge pockets to add bulk. They should add shape to your figure without being too tight. Ensure you have a couple of pairs to choose from, tailored shorts for a smart casual look or more colourful shorts for the beach.

Summer clothes for men shorts

Summer clohes for men shorts

Shirts

In the hot summer weather it is more than likely you are sweating more than normal. To help allow your skin to breath and prevent overheating choose shirts made of natural fabrics. Cotton and linen are natural fabrics that allow the skin to breath whilst absorbing moisture. Silk is also a good choice. Don’t be afraid to add a pop of colour to brighten up the outfit. Keep shirts loose to encourage air flow and keep you cool.

Trousers

Choose loose fit trousers in lightweight fabrics to help keep you cool this summer. Chinos are great for dressing up with a summer shirt. They look good for both formal and casual occasions. Choosing lighter colours will also help to reflect the sunlight and keep you cool.

Summer clothes for me

 

Footwear

Summer is time to bring out the loafers, sandals and canvas shoes. Invest in some no show socks to avoid blisters and to prevent the long socks with shoes or sandals look which does not look good. Leather loafers look great with tailored outfits whilst canvas works well with shorts. Bare feet are great for relaxing in the garden and letting your feet breath.

Colour

Experiment with colour. Don’t be afraid to try bright colours and bold prints. Just make sure you match them with a neutral colour so that you don’t clash. Be careful with yellow though. I have found that yellow attracts wildlife. At a beach both my husband and son had yellow t-shirts and the midges would not leave them alone. A yellow t-shirt was also a great attraction to a donkey!

Do you have any tips for choosing great summer clothes for men? Let me know below.

You may also be like to read my tips about getting men ready for a wedding.

 

 

 

 

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 *Some of the items in this post have been sent for review

When the weather is hot why not treat yourself to some perfect iced tea to quench your thirst. Serve with some Earl Grey cupcakes for the perfect teatime treat in the garden.

The British are great lovers of a cup of tea. The ritual of putting on a kettle and making a cup of tea has a magic about it. There is a great belief that the cure for everything is a cup of tea. We certainly drink enough of it, as a nation we drink 165 million cups per day. As an ancient Chinese proverb says:

“A day without tea is a day without joy”

Afternoon tea is another of those quintessentially British traditions.  A cup of tea around four in the afternoon with the accompaniment of savouries and cakes is a special occasion. It is something everyone should experience and indeed I recently tried afternoon tea at the Copthorne hotel in Newcastle. Afternoon tea is something everyone should try.

Iced Tea

Whilst a hot drink of ta is very much a British thing in America you are more likely to find iced tea.  Cold tea is not a new thing, cold green tea punches spiked with liquor were popular in the nineteenth century. Iced tea became popular in 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. The summer was very hot and Richard Blechynden who was offering free hot tea soon realised an iced version would be more popular. The idea caught on and the iced tea is now popular though North America.

There are two types of traditional iced tea in America, Iced Tea and Sweet Tea. The only difference between them is the amount of sugar. Both are a refreshing drink on a hot day in a glass with plenty of ice.

Iced tea

Choosing the right tea for the occasion

It doesn’t matter if you are having a hot cup of tea in the afternoon or an iced tea. The key to having a pleasurable cuppa is in choosing the right tea for the occasion. Not all tea tastes the same. The flavour of the tea depends on how it is grown, processed and brewed. In the growing stage the amount of light reaching the tea will affect the flavour. Green tea and matcha is grown in the shade. Less sun means less chlorophyll will be in the leaves which makes the tea less bitter.

After picking the tea leaves are dried in the sun. The amount of time they are left to dry also impacts the flavour. Green tea is not dried for long whilst black tea will be left to dry the longest. While the tea dries enzymes in the leaves are working to transform leaves which gives the tea its distinctive flavours.

Adagio Teas

Recently I have been trying out a range of teas from Adagio teas. These are hand-picked teas that are sourced directly from artisan growers to produce tea that is full of flavour. No matter what type of tea you like there is one to suit you. Green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, you name it they have it. If you are unsure which tea to try then you can pick up sampler sets which will help you discover a new favourite.

Adaigo teas

Being from Newcastle I was pleased to see Earl Grey teas.  Earl Grey of the tea fame was a  British Prime Minister who was responsible for many reforms over his career. He was also from a local Northumbrian family. He stands atop Greys monument in the centre of Newcastle surveying the city from its lofty heights.  The box contains four types of teas: Earl Grey Bravo, Earl Grey Moonlight, Earl Grey Green and Rooibos Earl Grey. These are all loose leaf teas and on opening each of the packets you are met with a wonderful aroma. The teas all have wonderful flavour and are great for baking. The vanilla tones in the Earl Grey moonlight made it perfect for making Earl Grey cupcakes.

 
Adiago tea earl grey moonlight
 
Chai teas are one of my favourites. the subtle spiced flavour adds some excitement to a cup.  The Chai tea box has a range of teas to excite any palette. Thai Chai brings you the exotic flavours of coconut and lemongrass whilst Masala Chai has a warm aromatic flavour that is perfect on a colder day. Spliced Apple Chai is more refreshing with its apple and spice tones whilst Chocolate Chai is just comfort in a mug.

How to make the perfect iced tea

Iced tea is easy to make from scratch and is perfect for the summer. All you need are a few tea bags, water and sugar if you like your tea sweet. These are some tips to help you make the perfect iced tea  for this hot weather.

  1. Start with good ingredients. High quality tea will give the best flavour.
  2. Make sure you use enough tea bags. When you cool the tea the flavour is less intense. A good rule of thumb is to use two tea bags for three cups of water.
  3. Don’t leave the tea to steep for too long. This can make the tea taste bitter
  4. If you are using sugar add it to the hot tea before cooling. If you want to sweeten the tea afterwards use sugar syrup. This can be made easily by simmering equal parts of sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Stir one or two tablespoons into your tea, according to taste.
  5. Let your tea cool before refrigerating. This stops it going cloudy.
  6. If you want to add flavour use fresh lemon juice.

Adiago teas have the perfect solution to making iced tea.  Their iced tea pouches allow you to make iced tea easily. I have been trying the Roobos vanilla iced tea pouch which has a lovely flavour. All you do is steep the teabag in two pints of water overnight. In the morning you have a pitcher of cold tea, all you need to do is to add ice.

Adaigo teas

Adiago teas roobios iced tea

If you are a fan of matcha you can also make a lovely sparkling matcha drink that is perfect for a hot day.

Earl Grey Cupcakes

Whilst experimenting with tea I thought I would try baking using tea and made a batch of Earl Grey cupcakes. I chose to use the Earl Grey Moonlight tea from Adagio which combines the citrus Earl Grey flavour with the taste of vanilla and cream. You can really taste the creamy vanilla tea flavour in the cupcakes and they go perfectly with a glass of iced tea on a hot day. The tea leaves also add a subtle flavour into the butter cream icing. I made a large batch of these cupcakes and they did not last long.

Earl Grey cupcakes

Earl Grey Cupcakes Recipe

Earl Grey Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

Cupcakes infused with the delicate flavour of Earl Grey tea.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 2 tsp Earl Grey moonlight tea
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 80g butter
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 eggs

For the frosting

  • 250ml milk
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 80g butter

Directions

  1. Add the tea leaves to a bowl and pour over the water.
  2. Leave to steep for thirty minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190C Gas Mark 5
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar until soft
  5. Sift the flour, baking power, salt into the butter mixture and rub together until it is like fine breadcrumbs
  6. Mix the eggs and milk in a bowl and mix
  7. Strain the tea water into the egg mixture to remove the tea leaves
  8. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir into smooth
  9. Add to cupcake cases and bake for twenty minutes until springy
  10. Get the strainer full of tea leaves and sit it in a bowl with the milk to infuse the flavour
  11. Mix together the butter and icing sugar until soft
  12. Add the milk and mix till fluffy
  13. Add a little icing to the top of each cupcake

Do you have any favourite recipes you like to make with tea? Let me know below.

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Recently we went for afternoon tea at the Copthorne Hotel Newcastle. This hotel is found on Newcastle’s quayside overlooking the famous bridges.

Afternoon tea is a delightfully British institution. It is more of a formal occasion than the serving of a hot drink.  Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford in the 1830’s,  can take the credit for the creation of the afternoon tea tradition. As  it became possible to light houses late into the evening the evening meal became later. Anna would get hungry mid-afternoon in the break between lunch and dinner. She began inviting her friends to take light refreshment and tea mid-afternoon. The tradition caught on in high society leading to the afternoon tea we know today.

I recently went to the launch of NovelTea in Fenwicks, This is alcoholic beverage perfect for the afternoon tea occasion. This made me realise I should take my son for afternoon tea as he had never been. I found a deal on Living Social for Prosecco afternoon tea at the Copthorne Hotel Newcastle. It was £19 for  tea for two instead of the standard £38. I made a booking to go along.

Come along inside… We’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place. – Kenneth Graeme,  The Wind in the Willows

Travel to the Quayside

Our booking for afternoon tea at the Copthorne was on a Sunday afternoon. Coincidently the same afternoon that Newcastle were playing to see if they got promotion to the Premier league. Anyone who knows Newcastle knows that the toon is home to passionate football fans. The outcome was dependant on Brighton losing  their match and Newcastle winning. There was a buzz and excitement in the air and the town was full of Toon fans making their way to the match. My son had his phone close at hand to find out the score was from my husband.

The Copthorne Hotel can be found on Newcastle’s quayside and is a short walk from the city centre and the train station. Newcastle’s quayside is one of my favourite areas to walk around. It is a lovely stroll along the quayside with a great view of the river Tyne and Newcastle’s famous bridges. You can walk across to Gateshead over the Millennium Bridge to visit the Baltic, a centre for contemporary art. The quayside has plenty of shops, restuarants and nightlife as well as history. If you ever get the chance to tour the Swing Bridge it is fascinating.

Newcastle's quayside

Quayside Market Newcastle

Every Sunday Newcastle Quayside Market takes place between 9am and 4pm. The market has been part of the quayside as long as I can remember. Like the quayside it has undergone changes over the years. When I first came to Newcastle it was a fabulous place to buy cheap towels and sheets as well as fresh produce. Market traders would shout about their bargains and it was a bustling hive of activity. These days it features independent traders selling handcrafted goods. It is also a great place to pick up local produce. You will find a great mix of artists, jewellers and food producers and street food. The market is still vibrant and bustling and a great place to wander around.

We had seen many of the food producers recently when visiting the Proper Food & Drink Festival in North Shields. I took advantage of the chance to stock up on some more Geordie Bangers, delicious sausages and some Pete’s Pudding. This delicious flavoured pease pudding is great with sandwiches. Resisting the street food as we were looking forward to afternoon tea, we went over the bridge to the Baltic and took some photos of the river from their viewing platform.

Quayside market newcastle

Quayside market newcastle

quayside market newcastle

Quayside market

Quayside market

Quayside market

Quayside market

 

The Copthorne Hotel Newcastle

Soon it was time for our afternoon tea and we made our way to the Copthorne Hotel. As we went back over the Millennium Bridge we could hear cheers ringing from St James Park. From the noise we knew that Newcastle had won the league and were going up as champions. My son soon got a call to confirm this which made his day. Afternoon tea would be the perfect celebration of the occasion.

I have been to the Copthorne Hotel before when I took part in some cupcake decorating classes. As well as decorating some cupcakes we got a tour of the hotel and a peep in the bedrooms. I knew that it is an impressive place. My son has never been inside. After walking into the foyer and seeing the grand piano he was really looking forward to his tea. He was expecting something special.

Copthorne hotel Newcastle

Afternoon tea at the Copthorne Hotel

We made our way to the tearoom and were shown to our seat which had a lovely view of the river. We were able to watch the world going by as we ate.  Whilst busy the room was not crowded and service was swift. The staff were courteous and attentive without being in your face.  Shortly after sitting down a glass of prosecco was brought for me to enjoy. This was crisp and refreshing, a lovely accompaniment to the afternoon tea. . My son had to make do with a glass of pop. I was given the option of having tea or coffee. After choosing tea a cake stand was brought to the table, to my son’s delight. Never having been for afternoon tea before he was not sure what to expect.

The cake stand hid three layers of deliciousness. On the bottom plate were delicately cut finger sandwiches. Scones with jam and cream took centre place and pretty cakes took pride of place on the top. A small pot of tea came with the cake stand, containing enough for two cups of tea. Some more hot water would have been nice, but to be fair I never asked for any.

Afternoon tea at the Copthorne hotel

Afternoon tea at the copthorne hotel

Afternoon tea at the copthorn hotel

Afternoon tea at the copthorne hotel

The afternoon tea

As its traditional we began with the sandwiches. It is always difficult to choose which to have first.  With a selection cheese and pickle, ham and tomato, egg mayonaise and tuna and cucumber it took a while to decide. The sandwiches were lovely and delicate with the crusts cut off. The cheese and pickle was our favourite with a great savoury flavour and the tang of pickle. The scones had a lovely home made look and were obviously freshly made. I had the endless debate with my son about goes on the scone first, jam or the cream. To me it is obvious that the jam must be first with cream as the topping. He was not sure but did agree that the jam and cream was a delicious combination. The jam was particularly tasty adding a lovely fruity tang to each bite.

Afternoon tea at the copthorne hotel

 

Afternoon tea at the copthorne hotel

AFternoon tea at the Copthorne

The top layer of the cake stand had three dainty cakes each. A Victoria sponge, a chocolate brownie and a slice of carrot cake. These were dainty and delicate portions but I could easily have eaten a slightly bigger slice. Maybe I am just greedy! The chocolate brownie oozed chocolate flavour and the layer of chocolate icing on the top made it feel decadent. The carrot cake was was lovely but the overall winner was the Victoria sponge which was light and airy with flavourful jam and cream in the centre.

Overall thoughts on afternoon tea at the Copthorne Hotel

Overall our experience of afternoon tea at the Copthorne Hotel was a good one. The service was great, the food was good and we enjoyed the view over the river.  Even though it was busy due to it being a match day our food came quickly and we did not have to wait. It would have been nice to have some extra water to top up the teapot. This was a minor niggle and I am sure it would have been bought if I asked. I would definitely recommend afternoon tea at the Copthorne and it is worth keeping an eye out on discount sites for a bargain.

Now I have tried afternoon tea at the Copthorne hotel I am on the lookout for other great places in Newcastle to try. I know my son is looking forward to trying out other place. Do you have any recommendations? Let me know below.

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*Some items in this post have been sent for review

These six ways to add personality to your home will help you make a home that feels welcoming. This will make visitors feel comfortable and want to linger.

Have you ever walked into a home and felt like you are entering a show home? It really doesn’t feel welcoming. The pristine condition makes you feel uncomfortable and not wanting touch anything. A home should make you feel at home. By adding touches of your personality to your interior your home will reflect who you are and what you love.

Adding personality to your home can be simple and cheap. It can be as simple as using your favourite colour to paint the walls or adding a few family photos in a prominent location. These are six simple ways you can add some personality to your home.

Six Ways to Add Personality to your Home

Use your hobbies to make a statement

Using your hobbies in your home decor will add instantly add personality to your home and make a statement. Do you practice yoga? Why not create a zen corner and create an instantly relaxing space in your home? Maybe you run in races and have a collection of medals.  Create a space where you can showcase these achievements. If you are a keen photographer get some of your photos put on canvas and display them on your walls. Not only will these items look good they also create a talking point when you have guests.

Show off your books

Books are a great way to make your home feel more personal. The titles speak of your personality, interests and passions. In my home you will find lots of cookery books sharing shelves with thrillers, chick lit and historic novels. I would love a library like they have in some stately homes. Every wall containing shelves of books with ladders that you can move round to access them easily. Modern homes are space constrained so this is not practical. Instead get a few bookcases or floating shelves.

My son has piles of books spilling off the cupboards in his room. To organise these and also to add some decorative accents into his room I got some cat scratch bookends from Uncommon Goods. I think they add a quirky touch to his room. They are also keeping his books in one place so they are not longer all over the floor.

Cat bookends from Uncommon Goods

Cat bookends from uncommon goods

If you are looking for quirky items to add personality to your home Uncommon Goods have a great selection. The firm began in 1999 and has its headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. They feature unique jewellery, designer decor, hand crafted gifts and much more. Half of the products sold are made by hand and a third of the collection uses recycled or upcycled materials. I could spend hours on the site browsing. There are just so many unusual items that are great for home decor. 

Add ornaments and plants

Ornaments are a great way to show off your personality. If you have a collection of objects get a display cabinet and show them off. I have a corner of my living room where I display my collection of dragons. There are also a number of quirky ornaments and scented candles on my fireplace. In the corner of the fireplace you will find a stone gargoyle. The most recent addition to my ornaments is this Deep Sea Sand Art from Uncommon Goods.

Deep Sea Sand Art from Uncommon Goods

Deep Sea Sand Art from Uncommon Goods

I find this sand sculpture absolutely fascinating. Turn it round and the sand will move and fall into a new position. The mix of light and dark sand flows and falls creating a new landscape every time. There is something calming about watching it.

Plants are another way to add a sense of calm to your house. Add a plant into a corner for a splash of greenery. Just don’t forget to water them.

Show off your art

Pictures and paintings look fabulous on walls. You can pick up canvas prints quite cheaply in budget stores which look great. Why not frame some of your photos and hang these on the walls? It is a way to enjoy some of your family memories. If you have a favourite artist you could get a print of some of their paintings and frame these.

Add a splash of colour

Adding a splash of colour to your home is an easy way to show off your personality. Pick your favourite colours and show them off. This can be done by adding cushions, pillows or throws in these colours. Throws can help make a bedroom look cosy.  Colourful cushions look inviting and brighten up a sofa. Add a colourful rug to your floor. These splashes of colour bring a fresh lively look to your home. My favourite cushion is a personalised one that looks like my dog, Eddie. It makes me smile whenever I look at it.

Personalised cushion from Mr Nutcase

Make the most of your outside space

Do you have a garden or back yard? Make the most of your outside space by making it an area the whole family can enjoy. Invest in some garden furniture so you can eat al fresco in the summer. Add some garden ornaments into a corner to make a feature of it. Encourage nature into your garden by planting wild flowers to attract bees or adding a bird feeder for the birds. I have a bird table and I really enjoy watching the birds. They have their own personalities and traits which provide some entertaining moments. There is nothing nicer than sitting outside on a sunny day so make the most of your garden.

These are my six ways you can add personality to your home. Do you have any tips you can add? Let me know below.

 

 

 
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Queen of Puddings is a traditional British dessert. It consists of custard layer spread with jam and a soft meringue topping.

The British have been making different puddings from bread and milk since the seventeenth Century. Bread and butter pudding is probably the most well know but there are many variants.  As well as bread and milk some of these include jam and meringue. Queen of Puddings is one of these desserts. It can also be known as Manchester pudding.

The origins of the dessert are not know. It may date back to the turn of the twentieth century when Queen Victoria is said to have made favourable comments about the dish. This could have given rise to the name Queen of Puddings. We may never know but this is a delicious dessert fit for a queen.

Queen of puddings

Queen of Puddings

These days Queen of Puddings is a rather retro recipe and not made often. It is a shame as it is a lovely dessert and a great way of using up stale bread. For me it is also a way of using up the last of my frozen raspberries before the new summer crop arrives. I already have lots of green berries and suspect I may have more berries than last year.  Queen of Puddings contains raspberry jam and I chose to make my own.  Shop bought works just as well though.

Queen of Puddings is a recipe that brings back memories for me. It is one of the first recipes I made during Domestic Science classes at school. Today this is better known as food technology. When the dessert was complete it was put into a Tupperware box and I took it home for my parents to try. Needless to say the pudding got rather mixed up on the way home but was still delicious. The recipe is so easy to make, it could easily be made with your children.

Queen of puddings

 

Making Queen of Puddings

 

To make Queen of Puddings properly you need time. The custard mixture does need to soak for twenty minutes before cooking. You can cook it without soaking but you will not get the same creamy texture. When I think back to my Domestic Science lesson I am not sure how we made the pudding in an hour. We didn’t make our own jam which did save a little time. We just spread shop bought jam onto the custard base.

If you do have the time it is worth making your own jam. It really is not too difficult. The extra taste it gives the dish is worth the effort. It really does not take that much more time, you can easily make the jam while the custard is soaking and baking. This retro recipe for Queen of Puddings is definitely worth the effort. The whole family will enjoy it.

Queen of Puddings Recipe

Queen of Puddings

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

A custard base with a jam and meringue topping for a delicious dessert.

Ingredients

  • 600ml whole milk
  • 25g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Finely grated zest 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 medium  eggs, separated
  • 130g  white breadcrumbs

For the raspberry jam (or use shop bought)

  • 150g frozen raspberries, defrosted
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions

  1. First make the custard base.
  2. Put the eggs, milk, butter, lemon zest, vanilla essence and 50g sugar into a pan.
  3. Gently heat until the sugar dissolves and the milk is steaming hot, not boiling
  4. Leave to cool
  5. Separate the egg whites and egg yolks
  6. Beat the egg yolks with a whisk then whisk into the cooled milk mixture
  7. Add the breadcrumbs
  8. Grease a pie dish and pour the breadcrumb mixture into it
  9. Leave to soak for 20 minutes
  10. Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2
  11. Bake the custard for 35 minutes until golden and set
  12. To make the jam heat the raspberries in a pan for 5 minutes until the juice is released
  13. Add the caster sugar and bring to the boil for five minutes, stirring all the time. The mixture should thicken.
  14. Let it cool then stir in the lemon juice
  15. Spread the jam over the custard
  16. To make the meringue topping whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks
  17. Add the remaining caster sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking in between until the meringue is smooth and glossy
  18. Top the jam with the meringue
  19. Bake for 20 -25 minutes until stiff on top

Why not pin the recipe to make later?

Queen of puddings recipe. A custard base topped with raspberry jam and meringue makes a delicous and tasty dessert

Do you have a favourite pudding that you make with stale bread? Let me know below.

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