Aestheticons’ January Detox – Part 1


It is said that detoxing doesn’t work. Possibly? However, after the excesses of the Festive Period during which we hoover up the remains of various roast meats, pork pies, chestnut stuffing, pickled onions, cranberrys and, of course, Toblerone – all washed down with copious glasses of wine – with the arrival of January a more sensible wave of consumption is absolutely needed.

Over the years the mistake has been made of pushing the Festive Period earlier into December meaning that by about 26th December our bodies are waving the white flag. By juicing – keeping the sugary fruits like oranges to a minimum – and eating much more strongly coloured fruit, simple changes can be brought about to help you digest better and shed those holiday kilos.

I find an early New Year’s hack is to up my usual intake of Porridge. Alone it has a huge number of health benefits and ranks high on the “comfort food” scale with the addition of the best honey you can find. The iconic packaging of Scott’s Porridge Oats has been part of my family’s table since childhood – my Mother is half Scots – and whilst her counsel to make the porridge with water and salt is, I am certain authentic, it’s just not my taste.

Fill your Detox shopping basket by clicking the following AMAZON link: Scotts Porage Oats 1000g


In the passed certain members of my family have complained about the consistency of  my porridge. This can be alleviated by the use of a special stirring stick called a “Spurtle”

Add a Spurtle to your kitchen by clicking the following link: Scottish Gift’s – Spurtle – turned Beechwood Porridge Spurtle uk gift’s


An alternative to bread – which we consume in great quantities as sandwiches including turkey and bacon – I really like rice or corn crackers they are light and make an excellent base for cheeses or dips.

Start experimenting with avocados. Guacamole is simplicity itself and this iconic Mexican dish can be scooped as a nutritious dip with a chip or added to a chicken tortilla wrap with crunchy red peppers to be an excellent low calorie/low fat alternative to mayonnaise. Our simple guacamole recipe – and it doesn’t matter if the fruits are over-ripe – is to take four mid-size avocados peel and stone – you know the trick for getting the stone out I am sure – just don’t cut yourself!

Into a Hamilton Beach blender – the iconic American model as used in many US bars and diners – add the flesh of the avocados, two peeled garlic bulbs, some salt to taste, the juice of one and a half lemons, either two fresh tomatoes or half a tin of tinned tomatoes and blitz in the blender. The lemon will add flavour and ensure that the avocado pulp stays green.

Add a Hamilton Beach blender to your kitchen: Hamilton Beach HBB908-UK Commercial 2-Speed Bar Blender, 1.25 Litre, 400 Watt, Black


If you’d like your guacamole a little spicy add some Chipotle tabasco – see previous post here – Tabasco Chipotle Sauce

tobasco 1

My Achilles Heel in the colder winter months is booze. Red wine, beer and Whisky – though not all at once! Through some research towards the end of the year I found one low alcohol beer that even with its lack of booze credentials is in fact a great glass of ale – Brewdog’s “Nanny State”. An excellent Ale flavour with compelling and no doubt future classic packaging.

Please see our earlier post about Brewdog here: Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 2

Lighten your alcohol intake with Nanny State by clicking the following link: BrewDog Nanny State (Alcohol Free), 12 x 330 ml


A Virgin Mary is a great alternative. You may have already seen my favourite Bloody Mary recipe – see it here  Lea & Perrins – the vital ingredient in a Bloody Mary  and Holiday Breakfast. Well, if you can bear to hide the Stoli for another few weeks this is wonderful hit of fresh goodness. A delicious hit of vitamins and flavour great for a weekend brunch.

I am a nibbler, put a plate of Japanese rice crackers or kettle chips in front of me and there’s a severe risk they wont be there upon your return. As an antidote, I have chosen Almonds as my nut of choice. Not only do they contain a unique and God-given constituent that apparently enhances beauty – well I’ll take anything I can get – unroasted they are simply delicious.

Get Wholefood Earth’s Organic Almonds by clicking the following link: Wholefood Earth: Organic Whole Almonds 500g | Raw | GMO Free | Suitable for Vegans & Vegetarians


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Image Credits with thanks: Scott’s Porridge, Hamilton Beach, Tobasco and Brewdog.

Billingham 225 Camera Bag

Billingham 2

Returning to my core mission of celebrating aesthetically pleasing and classically designed icons mention must be made of the beautiful English made bags of M Billingham and Co Ltd – better known to us as “Billingham Bags”.

In 1973, Martin Billingham founded his eponymous business making fishing bags and forty years on the business is still in family ownership. Indeed the essence of the light brown canvas bags are reminiscent of a trout fishing bag my father gave me over forty years ago complete with many internal sections for reels and tackle. By 1978 it was discovered that a large number of their bags were being sold to a New York based photographer thus igniting the most important connection between these durable water-resistant canvass and rubber bonded bags, edged in finest leather and their obvious target market.

Typically a Billingham bag is full of sections divided by velcro sided foam panels that can be varied to accommodate several lenses, camera bodies, flash units and filters. The larger models also feature external straps to hold tripods.

The world of photography has undergone a revolution in its transition to digital image capture and a trend away from larger SLR type cameras – Please check out here our piece on the new Hasselblad X1D – Hasselblad X1D to the more convenient “point and shoot” or even the use of a high pixel camera like that of the new iPhone X. Yet it seems that the future of the Billingham bag, as the bag of choice for the professional or serious amateur  photographer, seems set for many years to come. The Billingham range has also evolved to offer a range of smaller bags designed for compact cameras and their accessories.

HB x1d-above

I bought my first Billingham bag, a large brown canvass 225 with chestnut leather piping, in the late 1980’s to accommodate my beloved SLR camera, a Nikon 801 body – to which I had attached a Nikon motor drive – and had a large flash unit, several Nikkor zoom and wide angled lenses, straps, boxes of Ilford and Kodachrome film – both black and white and colour – and a tripod. It was an excellent collection that I used regularly and produced some pretty decent photos. My habit of saving both boxes and receipts from my favourite camera shop “Fox Talbot” (that merged with lager rival “Jessops” in 1998 now owned by TV’s Dragon’s Den investor, Peter Jones) stood me in good stead. In the middle 1990’s, when we were away on holiday and our house was being renovated and some light fingered painter/decorator stole my entire Billingham bag and its contents. The insurance company were impressed by my proofs of purchase and refunded the entire loss allowing me to replace my favourite bag and its contents.

For me the most adaptable bag in the current Billingham range – and there are more expensive ones – and the one I have owned for several years, is the Billingham 225 – see here a live review of this bag –Billingham 225 camera bag

If you would like to enjoy the evident benefits of these most appealing icons of modern photography please click the AMAZON link below the image


Billingham 225 Canvas Camera Bag With Tan Leather Trim – Khaki

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Image credits M. Billingham & Co Ltd and Hasselblad AB

Holiday Breakfast

Dualit Combi 3

Late last week we escaped to the City for a few days in London. Extraordinarily beautiful at most times of the year but at Christmastime London is awash with street lights – Regent Street’s were particularly stunning – the slight hint of wine flavoured with cinnamon and a warm uplifting spirit.

Regent St Angels

Whilst family time was precious and the opportunity for a little lazing about minimal, as major retail therapy was required, the best start to any day – a good breakfast – was essential. The kitchen was particularly well stocked but a visit to the wonderful Paul’s bakery in South Kensington for fresh croissants was vital.

A brief dip into Aestheticons and we will guide you in the ways of carefully combining and judiciously using a number of  iconic items to make the perfect Holiday Breakfast.

Pretty much any bread, however “day-old”, can be improved by toasting. A Dualit toaster – please see our earlier posts here Dualit Toaster is brilliantly controllable, sturdy and iconic design. Mine over twenty years old but is still fully functioning.

Why not get your own Dualit by clicking this AMAZON link for a 2 plus Combi toaster Dualit Combi 2+2 Toaster 42174 – Polished

A Four Slice Toaster DUALIT 4 Slice Vario AWS Toaster Polished Stainless Steel 40378

Or a Six slice toaster Dualit 6 Slice Toaster 60144 – Polished

Of course you can boil water in all manner of ways but none is more stylish than an Alessi kettle – Please see our earlier post here Alessi Bollitore kettle An Alessi Bollitore Kettle is an icon of design and practicality as vibrant today as when first designed in 1983 Officina Alessi Hob Kettle with Steel Bottom, Silver


Mornings are for Coffee and Afternoon’s are for tea….

One of the very best quick coffees comes courtesy of Nescafe Original Decaffeinated – Nescafe Decaffeinated Instant Coffee 100g If time is not pressing, then freshly brewed coffee cannot be beaten. If coffee is not your thing then I cannot more highly recommend an amazing tea Fortnum & Mason’s Assam Superb – please see our earlier post here Fortnum & Mason’s Assam Superb

Using a Bialetti Moka coffee pot – please see our post here Bialetti Moka Coffee Pot make perfect coffee when combining with Lavazza’s Decaffeinato Coffee – please see our post here Lavazza Caffè Decaffeinato By clicking here you could add a Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 6 Cup to your kitchen. Please try this beautiful coffee – Isn’t “Lavazza” Italian for coffee? Lavazza Caffe Decaffeinato Ground Coffee 250g

Serving coffee or tea in a perfect cup is very important. A Falcon enamel mug is both beautiful and practical – please see our earlier post here Falcon Enamelware  Get your own Falcon enamel mug – or two – by clicking this link 1 x Falcon Enamelware Mug, Heavy Gauge (White with blue rim). 9cm

Aside from salt free butter, the perfect spread for your toast has to be Bonne Maman Blackcurrent preserve – please see our earlier post here Bonne Maman Jam Bonne Maman Blackcurrant Conserve Jam, 370g

For those of you who prefer salty to sweet then on top of cool butter Marmite is simply perfect – please see our earlier post here Marmite A big jar of Marmite should always be in your kitchen cupboard – get one here Marmite Yeast Extract Paste in a Glass Jar , 500g

Do you know what, if its a weekend and you are feeling a little indulgent why not order and make a perfect Bloody Mary –  please see our post  Lea & Perrins – the vital ingredient in a Bloody Mary which contains both the recipe for the best Bloody Mary ever it also gives you all the links to enable you to gift a Bloody Mary pack to a deserving friend, colleague or other half!

Go on, enjoy …. and make the most of those chilly holiday mornings….

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Images courtesy of Dualit, Alessi, Fortnum & Masons, Bialetti, Lavazza, Falcon Enamelwear, Bonne Maman and Marmite.

Lea & Perrins – the vital ingredient in a Bloody Mary


It’s getting to that time of year when only a Bloody Mary becomes the perfect  accompaniment to a festive brunch. There are several vital ingredients to a Bloody Mary (and equally essential in the vodka-less Virgin Mary) – with my definitive recipe below – but one of the must haves is Lea & Perrin’s classically flavoured “Worcestershire Sauce”.

Lea & Perrins’ “Worcestershire Sauce” was first sold in 1837 by Messrs. John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, who were chemists with a shop in 68, Broad Street Worcester. Other chemists in the immediate vicinity also sold similar products which have suggested some confusion of its precise provenance. Naturally the precise recipe is a secret but it is known that the ingredients comprise in part vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions and garlic.

Lea & Perrins is a subsidiary of the mighty Kraft Heinz but unlike others who have been assumed into mega-food groups, Lea and Perrins continues to operate from its Midland Road, Worcester head quarters from where it produces the version sold in Europe – which differs slightly from the US version as the UK version contains malt vinegar whereas the US version uses distilled white vinegar.

The UK version of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce is instantly recognisable by its bottle and its orange and black label.

Ok so here goes, Mark’s definitive recipe for a Bloody Mary:

Into a large jug mix Vodka – the best you have – a few decent glugs! I am a big fan of Stolichnaya Vodka and my Russian friends tell me it is one of Russia’s favourite too.


Add a small handful of ice, V8 Juice (see our previous post here – V8 Vegetable Juice ), if available, or Tomato Juice about eight to ten times the volume of vodka used, the juice of one lemon – no pips, two tea spoons of Lea & Perrins (see our previous post here Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, one tea spoon of Tabasco Chipotle sauce (see our previous post here Tabasco Chipotle Sauce), one tea spoon of horse radish sauce, two table spoons of Spanish fino sherry, celery salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir together well and garnish with sticks of very crisp celery. Serve in a tall Duralex Picardie glass (see here Duralex Glass – Picardie).


tobasco 1

Equally delicious for the designated driver is a Virgin Mary – a separate jug with all the above ingredients except the Vodka and Fino.

Get your ingredients for the perfect Bloody Mary by clicking the following AMAZON shopping links. …..And why not ask for your purchases to be gift wrapped to make the perfect gift?

Stolichnaya Vodka Stolichnaya Russian Premium Vodka 1 Litre

Lea & Perrins Lea And Perrins Worcestershire Sauce 150Ml

Tabasco Chipotle Tabasco – Chipotle smoky BBQ pepper sauce 60ML

V8 Juice V8 Original Vegetable Juice, 1l

Coleman’s Horse radish sauce Colman’s Horseradish Sauce ( 250ml x 6 x 1 )

Schwartz Celery Salt Schwartz Celery Salt, 72g

Gonzalez Byass’ Tio Pepe Fino Sherry GONZALEZ BYASS Tio Pepe Fino Sherry 75cl Bottle

Duralex Picardie glasses Duralex Picardie 1029AC04 Box of 4 High Ball Glass Tumblers Transparent 36 cl

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Images Lea & Perrins, Stolichnaya, Tabasco and V8