How to make the perfect cup of tea

There is always time for tea poster, Shula's office poster

Shula’s office poster

a cup of tea is Never a waste of time

I do love a good cup of tea but everyone has a preference, I’m not sure that my good cup of tea lines up with other people’s good cup of tea. A good cup of tea in my book goes by the name of ‘Builders Tea’ and the usual analysis is that it’s only a proper cup of tea if the spoon can stand up in it! In answer to the age-old question ‘does the milk go in first or last?’ …. if you look at usage it used to be that the hostess would say, on handing over the tea, ‘milk or lemon?’ …. which means obviously that it should go in afterwards.

Everyone has their own particular way of making tea, BUT, a big thing that continental people don’t appear to understand is the difference between coffee water and tea water. Coffee water must definitely not be boiling, but tea water must be boiling and that is why on the continent you don’t get a good cup of tea, because they don’t understand the concept of boiling water, as to them boiling water is a ‘no no’ because they don’t drink much tea, they drink coffee and you don’t have boiling water in coffee… so thats dealt with them!

One last point, I believe a tea bag is wrong. I submit to its prevalence and convenience but really a tea bag doesn’t make a proper cup of tea. You need a large leaf tea and you must let it brew long enough for the leaf to uncurl otherwise you are not getting enough of its essence. On this occasion waste as much time as you like brewing that perfect cup of tea!

Vitamins, another waste of time in my opinion!

Milly Rich, breakfast at aged 99

Milly Rich, breakfast at aged 99

My everyday breakfast has all the vitamins I need

I believe vitamins are expensive wee! I don’t think people should take vitamin pills unless they are deprived of proper nutrients, a bit like the sailors who used to travel for months on board ships and suffered from scurvy due to lack of fruit and veg.

I think I am perfectly fine without them and so are most people if they eat a balanced diet. I’ve survived 99 years without resorting to vitamins. It’s just a way to encourage people to spend more money, there is no point in them, what isn’t used is passed out thus making for very expensive wee.

This is my breakfast, prunes, porridge, wheatgerm, seeds, pine kernels and mixed nuts. The scales is my daughter Shula’s, she weighs everything, I trust my own eye.


My Beauty routine 3 steps, 5 minutes

Milly Rich, 97 years old, 2015, Brighton, England

Milly Rich, 97 years old, 2015, Brighton, England

looking perfectly presentable for 99 years OLD

I read the average make up / beauty routine these days includes 27 steps and takes 40 minutes!

Who on earth has the time to do that every day?

My beauty routine has always been a quick one. Water and moisturiser.  I use Aveeno moisturiser after years of using Estolan, a good classic that works for me I believe, although I’m not sure what I would look like if I didn’t use it. It’s been around since 1945 and contains natural oatmeal (so I’m porridged inside and out).

People always say I have a lovely skin but to me it looks exactly like everyone else’s.

I naturally sleep on my back, which does help prevent sleep wrinkles and keeps my skin smooth I suppose. I also use an innovative pillow system called Waking Beauty that I have invented together with my daughter, but more of that on another occasion. As for my hair, I comb it a different way each day to stop it from getting flat, I put it up away from my face with a few clips and that’s me done, 3 steps, 5 minutes and looking perfectly presentable for 99 years.


How to create your own destiny and make your life exactly what you want it to be

Morris Levrant Air-tight valve for pneumatic tires 1911, Patent US999506

Morris Levrant Air-tight valve for pneumatic tires 1911, Patent US999506

Be it known that I, MORRIS LEVRANT, a citizen of the Empire of Russia, and a resident of Brooklyn, city of New York, county of Kings, State of New York, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Air-Tight Valves for Pneumatic Tires, of which the following is a specification.”

My father, Morris Levrant, made his own destiny

I come from a family of people who invented their own destinies and we are still doing it. Character attracts circumstance, the sort of person you are attracts what happens to you and I’ve always been in charge of my own destiny.

Having said that I’ve had no experience of the world at all actually, even though I’ve lived through two world wars, because I met my husband when I was just 18 and still at art school.

My mother came over from Moldavia with her family as refugees in the late 1800s. She went to school here and finished when she was 12. She could read and write and spoke good English. She was also very artistic and set up her own business when she was 18 as a corset maker.

My father originally went to America and settled in New York. He married and had three children and was an inventor, he was very clever, he invented something to do with bicycles, we still have the original patent. He eventually divorced and came over to England where he fell for my mother, he besieged her, he used to wait outside the house for her. Her father didn’t allow her to marry him until he had produced all sorts of evidence that he was divorced, but eventually they were allowed to marry and I was born in 1917, a month before the end of the First World War. We used to live on the royalties of the product my father invented. You can google the invention.

At that time the Middle East, specifically Palestine, was opening up and you could go out there and set up an Empire, so we all went. However there was a war going on in which my father had to take part, we were only there a month before he got himself killed. My mother couldn’t speak the language and was nine months pregnant. We were stuck there until my uncle came to rescue us and took us back to London where we lived in his attic until we got a little money together and my mother set up her corset making business. We made a little living from this in Bethnal green.

I decided when I left school that I was never going to be anything other than my own boss. I loved drama and joined a Play Reading  Society which is where I met my husband.I was 18

We were married for 72 years, so as I said before not very adventurous.

However, I have never doubted myself, I saw a use for seashells that nobody had developed and I took action to achieve what I wanted.

My business was a  success. It grew in different directions but I’ll leave that story for another time.

Many things might have held me back, I still made a successful business from nothing.

I do believe you can reach your true potential by making your own destiny.

Think positively.  Never give up.

I believe character attracts circumstance!

Is it OK to have too much of anything?

Milly Rich aged 99 reading her morning newspaper July 2017

Milly can’t eat breakfast without a newspaper

Everything in moderation except reading

I’m a night person; I don’t like daytime so I don’t tend to spend much time in the sun. I don’t need to worry about my skin ageing from too much sun

Some people are addicted to getting a suntan, I’m addicted to print, I don’t know when that was aroused but if I see print that’s it, I just don’t move, it’s an addiction.

I don’t go and sit in the sun for hours, I’m happy with my print addiction.

Not only is it inescapable I’ve no wish to escape it, I enjoy it and there aren’t enough hours in the day to satisfy it! In many cases I don’t remember all I read I just enjoy the act of reading, I retain what interests me.

I was mad about the ‘pictures’ when I was younger, I remember that you only saw the screen through a haze of cigarette smoke!

There were cigarette machines outside practically every shop and so much advertising for smoking, but now it’s a big ‘no no’.

That’s an addiction that definitely ages you and possibly kills you.

I wonder how many other things that were once popular turn out to be lethal?

Sugar! Sugar, sweetie pie, sugar plum; sugar used to be a good thing because it was a rarity, nowadays it is an addiction that again is proving lethal to some.

What is too much sugar? Who recommends it and what do they know?  Eat sensibly and then you don’t have to give things up totally.

Finally getting back to the sun, you were originally told not to stay out in the sun due to sunburn, which was painful, but it was never associated with cancer.

Nowadays the risk of skin cancers and the certainty of wrinkles mean most people use sun creams.

Just as we’ve got used to it we’re warned it can lead to Vitamin D deficiency and leave off the sun cream for a bit.

Too much of anything is never good for you, everything in moderation…except reading!

How can there be an “intelligence” with so many wicked things happening in the world?

Milly and Shula Rich 1948, Balham, London

Milly and Shula Rich 1948, Balham, London

The whole purpose of life is continuity


Does everything have a purpose?

Everything fulfils a purpose, but that may not have been its intention.

If you say something has an intention, that indicates an intelligence.

I think there is no intelligence, I think it’s all random.

How can there be an intelligence with so may wicked things happening in the world?

I don’t believe in God and whilst I am on the subject why do people always refer to God as a man?

If indeed “He” did create us why would He create the bad in some of us, surely we would all be good?

Whatever He is, He is an elderly and would be Jewish as they were all Hebrews then.

The Bible claims Jesus to be the Son of God and he was a Jew so therefore God was an elderly Jewish man!

I love stories  and I love the Bible stories, they are wonderful stories, but that is all they are in my mind.

I think that people have a need to believe. How many million people are there in the world? Do you really think this Deity has a personal interest in each one? If so why would He allow millions to be massacred in the world wars? it’s ridiculous.

And as for people killing in the name of God that would mean God is a murderer.

If He is so powerful surely He can do it himself, He sent ten plagues, didn’t He? Parted the waters of the Nile! If somebody did an analysis of that, there would be natural explanations for it all.

It’s the nature of life that it ends and it flourishes.

Why are there bad bacteria? Why is there cancer? There are also cosmic catastrophes, lumps of earth colliding. The idea of space is impossible to encompass, it’s too big to encompass and we can only do what our limitations allow us to do.

All life is in a cycle, it lives and it dies to make way for the new, it is a constant renewal system. The whole purpose of life is continuity, apparently nothing lives forever in its same form, it only lives through constant renewal and that in my opinion is the purpose of life.

Can you make your own luck?

Milly Rich aged 99 conchology cabinet shell collection July 2017

Milly Rich’s conchology cabinet. Some shells are considered lucky.

What exactly is luck? How can one define luck?

People are often quick to say ‘I’m  lucky ‘or ‘I’m not a lucky person’.

Well what is luck? I could say that-

“I’m lucky to have my daughter”

or I could say

“She’s lucky to have me”, or – “we’re lucky to have each other”

You could say you were lucky if you found £5 on the pavement, but that is and isn’t luck, it certainly isn’t lucky for the person who lost it!

I think people are wrong about luck.

Most people assume that luck is something you get; well I think you should consider that luck is something that you don’t get!

There’s an epidemic… you don’t get it, therefore you are lucky.

Another example: you could get ready to travel for a weekend break in a lovely city but something stops you from going – you assume its bad luck.

However, then something unexpected happens in the city and it turns out that you were lucky never to have gone.

Luck is what you don’t get.

I don’t have a one-track mind and if you look at luck in both ways too, not just in the sense that luck is about receiving something good, you can turn a negative event into a positive one.

I would say a good definition of luck is  “chance”.

But also consider it as something you don’t get.

How to turn a negative into a positive

For instance if you were in love with someone and they went off with someone else you may be thinking that you’ve lost the love of your life, but, it then turns out that they good, therefore you are lucky to have lost them!

Luck is frequently what you don’t get and to a certain extent you make our own luck. Most of us define luck as being something good that happens to us, but luck is often something which at the time you consider to be not good, but turns out to be just the opposite.

Things that could have happened didn’t happen, or things that you wanted to happen didn’t, but the outcome turns out to be good!

Luck is often something you don’t recognise at the time, so with this in mind look at the positive side of things and consider how lucky you really are! After all our thoughts and behaviours are responsible for most of our luck.

Accept chance there’s not much you can do about it anyway!

Comfortable shoes

Milly, Shula, Norina at Gavin and Phalla Wedding 2005, photo by Fraser Grey

Milly, Shula and Norina at Gavin and Phalla’s Wedding, 2005. Photo by Fraser Grey.

If your shoes aren’t comfortable it shows on your face

There’s nothing worse than painful feet. If you say your feet are ‘killing’ you it’s not a joke they probably are. They’re killing your looks, they’re killing your mood, they’re killing your attitude toward yourself. You can’t love yourself when your feet are killing you. If you don’t love yourself you’re going to find it very difficult to love anyone else you may be around.

Don’t wear shoes that are painful and ‘kill’ your feet. Whatever attraction you think they provide, this is cancelled out by the effect on your temper, on the kind of person you are and even on your reaction to other people. I mean if all you can think about is your painful feet you’re not going to sparkle, are you?

I have to wear comfortable shoes, often I don’t like them and go without. I try not to think about my feet because they have always been swollen (I have lymphedema, another post later), so I concentrate…

  1. On sparkling conversation.
  2. Making my top half as attractive as possible. Successfully I think.
  3. Being pleased with myself and not wanting what I don’t have. If you practice this you will then naturally be very pleasant to others, which will in due course radiate back to you. You create an aura around yourself, people want to be close to you, they warm themselves on you.
  4. On doing good and feeling good. If you feel good other people feel good. It’s nice to be surrounded by approval. Approval is a glass house for personality and if you are happy you will live longer and you will enjoy living longer.

There’s not much use in living longer if you don’t enjoy life and since I’m practically 100 I know what I’m talking about!

How to be Loved by Others

Milly & Shula Rich, Niece Caroline & Phil, sitting on the sofa all smiling

Me with Shula, my niece Caroline & her husband Phil

Look people in the eye and show kindness

My mobile phone is always with me but phones and technology can take over people’s lives. We can forget to show kindness and politeness to each other. I see people walk around with their heads down and their eyes on screens, earphones in their ears, meanwhile the world passes by without notice. With all the technology on offer the fact that there are living, breathing human beings around us is often lost!

We live in a world that really doesn’t exist, locked into technology. Where will this go? Communication as we know it will be gone.

Actually, your face changes when you speak differently, the face follows thoughts, feelings and the spoken word. If you always speak gently and respectfully you will look so much more attractive. In the words of Roald Dahl:

‘If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely!’

A delivery person knocked the other day with a package I had to sign for. When I signed I really meant it when I said what a pleasant and courteous delivery it was. As I said this to him you should have seen his smile, and all over such a simple, considerate acknowledgment.

I think most times people accept deliveries they just scribble on the pad offered to them and that’s that, they never think of the feelings of the deliverer. Seeing his reaction it occurred to me how easy it is to be gracious and respectful to other people. That’s very important. Look people in the eye and show kindness.

Always compliment graciously. It makes such a difference when you give someone a compliment and you see their face change. It shows you are acknowledging they are human and deserve to be treated well.

Older people, and I suppose I must count myself as one now, historically have often criticized the young. That’s not right, so think before you speak! Find something nice to say to people if you possibly can, you might say ‘oh what a nice colour your jumper is’ for example, and watch the change in their expression and the way their face softens and engages with you, it will make your day as it made mine!



Five things you didn’t know about me with some wisdom, humour and beauty tips

Milly Rich, 97, showing the photo of her and Cyril Fletcher in 1969, almost 50 years later

Me at 97 years old. The photo of me with Cyril Fletcher taken in 1969.

No. 1. In October 2017 I will be 100 years old

Having so far enjoyed a century of life’s delights and demands, I have more than a few pearls of wisdom to impart! I am hoping that my regular blog posts will offer a little bit of laughter alongside my experiences on how to make the most of whatever life throws at you… and sometimes how to throw something back at it. Please take from it whatever personally works.

Although I’m 99 I don’t feel any age in my head, I’m me and if I want to do something I have the confidence to do it, that’s what ultimately counts. I’m not necessarily aware that it’s self-confidence, I just never doubt myself. I think of new businesses and ventures all the time and if I want to start something I just get on with it…