The masks that define us….. Blog by Aly

It’s weird how divisive wearing a mask has become. People whom I considered rational have gone ballistic over either the need to wear one or the need not to. I get the confusion, the government continuously give us varied messages and to be frank downright lies…. I am on the wear a mask side, I can’t rationalise not wearing one and with the many hospital visits we have had over the last three months due to Mick’s eyes I am more conscious then every of the vulnerability of the human race and the need to protect each other.

Wearing a mask is completely alien to me so I am recording the process through art to produce a series of work for an online exhibition. I am also taking commissions at £25.00 each (including p&p UK). I can be contacted on


The Sea The Sea…..

Blog by Mick – Seascape in oil painted whilst in lock-down #isolationart. This could be a new avenue for me to explore – I would appreciate any feedback. #IrisMurdoch #TheSeaTheSea

The sea

‘The Sea The Sea’ Oil on canvas board. 16″ x 20″.

This painting has sold for £110.00 pounds if you would like to commission a piece drop  us a message or email

Isolation sketches

Aly’s blog –

I stopped being a full time artist about 10 years ago as life took me down a different path working as a community engagement worker. I loved my job but at the end due to a variety of reasons I left seven months ago and am now focusing on art again. I have rediscovered my love of Matisse and he has helped me fall in love with drawing again. It’s like I am picking up where I left off a decade ago…. still a long way to go though….

Each ink sketch is on acrylic paper. 25.5cm x 17.5cm, signed.

Top left hand corner ‘For Poppy’.

Isolation Sketch ‘For Poppy’.

£15.00 includes p&p to the UK.


Right hand side ‘Flowers for Caitlin’.

Isolation Sketches ‘Flowers for Caitlin’.

£15.00 includes p&p to the UK.


Bottom left hand corner ‘Red Roses’.

Isolation Sketches ‘Red Roses’

£15.00 includes p&p to the UK.


Fanny Flowers

Blog from Aly – As the isolation continues we are painting pictures that are affordable and can be posted at little cost. Mick has painted these flowers that we have named ‘Fanny Flowers’ , the reason  being all in the eye of the beholder! These wee oil paintings are on canvas board, 7″ x 5″, signed and are £20 each or 3 for £50. The postage is £3 to the UK.



Fanny Flowers

These wee oil paintings are on canvas board, 7″ x 5″, signed and are £20 each or 3 for £50. The postage is £3 to the UK. Available pictures are shown above please email preference, to More in the pipeline.....


When Mick fell asleep….

Blog by Aly –

I have been knitting wee flowers to launch my art project #1in100 (more details on launch) which will be a response to my bipolar.The project will consist of 100 art pieces which will be exhibited in galleries or online, each exhibition having 100 art pieces within it. I reckon I can do this over 20 to 25 years so better cut down on the cake and get healthy as I am almost 50 now!

The premise is that 1 in 100 of us have bipolar which I think is quite a high number and it’s about time we came out of our mental health closet and let the world know we are here and are nothing to be scared off! Disclaimer – I expect some of us are a bit scary -I probably am sometimes after to much whisky!

Anyhow more of that on launch ….. meanwhile in other isolation madness…..

Mick fell asleep the other afternoon and I turned him into ‘Ophelia’ by John Everett Millais…..


Knit Knit Knit….

I have a pile of knitting books and patterns and have decided to break up the projects that I am working from by taking the one on top and making something random from it. Then putting it on the bottom and so on so on…. first choice today was this wee keyring. Great fun to make.

Knitted keyring from Cute & Easy Knitting by Fiona Goble. Published by Cico Books.

Accidental Daal

Running low on provisions is quite normal for us at the minute as we have been managing on ESA and UC for a while now and with the Virus we have been careful to only go to the local shops when we really need too. Yesterday’s lunch was a cobble together and it tasted amazing. Proper comforting.


Accidental Daal recipe –

Serves 2

Ingredients – This is what we has in our cupboard so adapt as necessary.

Red lentils – we had approx. an 8th of the bag so used all of that.

1 tin coconut milk

2 chopped cloves garlic

1 large diced spud

1 heaped tsp of turmeric

1 tsp black pepper

1 heaped tsp chilli flakes

Pinch of salt

Water to top up if needed.

Method – 

Put everything in a pan, bring to the boil and then simmer – it took about 40 minutes to get really creamy. We added a bit of water near the end to prevent sticking. That’s it!








Still isolated…Mango and banana cake and ice cream

This is not a cooking blog – just been fun to share our isolation recipes  and other things that are keeping us distracted through this unnatural time. My bipolar is still extremely level and although I have had moments of ‘down’ time I think this is due to me missing my family and friends. rather than a bipolar wobble.  I am more concerned about becoming hyper than down as I worry about being in a confined space and needing to whizz about.

Today we were up about 8am and had some hot cross buns for breakfast that were kindly donated alongside the bananas and the mango by Food Cycle an incredible organisation who re-purpose food, before it gets to landfill, from local supermarkets.  It has been a struggle for us since I had to leave my job over 6 months ago now and go onto ESA. My partner is on Universal Credit in-between art workshops and commissions. The workshops have all stopped and the commissions are few and far during this uncertain time.

Anyhow on a lighter note  I decided to have some cooking time today rather than teaching Mick and made for the first time ice cream and mango and banana bread (all vegan).


Mango & Banana Ice Cream –

Ingredients –

2 mangoes

1 Banana

3 tbs non-dairy milk

Method –

Peel the mangoes and the banana and chop into small pieces. Put them on a piece of baking paper on an oven tray and pop in the freezer. I left mine over night.

Put them into a blender with the milk and blend, blend, blend.  It took a while and a fair bit of scraping down the sides but once it got going it ended up smooth and creamy.

Pop back in a container in the freezer.


Banana and Mango Bread –

Ingredients – 

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegan marg.

1 cup egg alternative – I used a small jar of economy apple sauce

2 ripe bananas

1/2 mango cubed

1 tbsp plant based milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon ( I bashed a small stick up in a pestle and mortar)

2 cups of self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp vanilla extract


Method – 

Preheat oven to 160C.

Put baking paper in loaf tin or I expect greasing a loaf tin would be fine also.

Cream sugar and marg.

Add egg alternative and stir.

In a separate bowl mash bananas and add this, the vanilla extract, the plant based milk and the mango into the marg. mixture and stir well.

Add the dry ingredients and stir.

Bake for 1 hour.

mango cake

Check out they are awesome.




Isolation baking. Mick makes shortbread….

Yesterday Mick wanted to learn to bake shortbread….. we have videoed the process and you can find it on our Facebook page @alyandmicksmith .We can’t find out how to edit so they are a bit unprofessional and long but honest…and it is something we can keep to look back on after we are all released from captivity.

vegan shortbread

This recipe was meant to serve 12 however Mick has made it into 6 portions as is the  cook’s prerogative! We are vegan so if you fancy making some vegan flapjacks here’s the recipe –

Mick’s Vegan Isolation Shortbread – 12 portions –

Ingredients –

125 g margarine (we used Flora vegan marg.)

125g light brown sugar (it’s meant to be white caster sugar but we didn’t have any)

180g plain flour

Method –

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl

Stir in the flour to get a smooth paste

Push into a small square baking tray (ours was 18cm x 18cm) try to make it 1cm thick

Cut into portions – Mick’s handy tip – use a pizza cutter

Preheat the oven to 190C

Chill in fridge for 20 mins whilst oven is heating

Bake for 20 minutes

Leave as long as you are able to cool and scoff with strong coffee and try to forget the amount of sugar you have devoured by promising to yourself that you will get up at 6am tomorrow morning and go jogging…