Monday Miscellany

by Margaret Powling-

Visiting a zoo can’t be on everyone’s Monday agenda, so I thought it might make a pleasant change to visit our local Zoo Environment Park as it is now named.  I posted about this some weeks ago when we decided to buy ourselves a season ticket. We worked out we only had to visit three times and after that our visits would be ‘free’.  Not only that, the ticket permits entry to Living Coasts, the Zoo’s coastal park in Torquay.

This morning we thought, for a change, we’d visit the Reptile & Tropical House and the Desert House.  Unfortunately, most of the animals in the Reptile House do like to hide themselves away or perhaps they are so well camouflaged we just think this is what they are doing!  However, the little chap above was showing off his lovely green coat and, while munching on some lettuce, decided a more pastel shade looked better (see photo on right.)   We saw several more animals, such as a boa constrictor (he was huge, you wouldn’t want to ‘tangle’ with him!  He was submerged in a deep water tank with just his little nose above the water, as if in a hot tub!) and a flat leaf gecko (well, I think that is what it was, I didn’t make any notes.) 

The place was really tropical, with lots of tall plants and waterfalls, really impressive. From there we  emerged directly into the Desert House which, as the name implies, is very desert-like, with sand, cacti, and succulents. Here there were birds flying around and as the building is quite long at least they could really stretch their wings.

We only stayed there about an hour, the idea was to have a walk away from traffic and as the Zoo is only a mile or so from our house it’s the easiest place to visit for a walk.


The next thing in this Monday Miscellany is this …


The contents of my bag.  I’m always fascinated by what we women carry in our bags. Here, there are no sweets, no chocolate bars, no roll of Polo mints, no chewing gum, no makeup apart from a compact and lipstick and a small phial of perfume, nothing that I do not actually need while I’m out and about.  I did have a small umbrella with me this morning, but that isn’t something I normally stow away in my bag.  I want my bag to be as light as possible and so here is the list:

At the top you will see a black zipper bag. This was actually a freebie makeup bag which came with a magazine many years ago.  It is ideal for my things, as I tend to put all the items that go into my bag into this, with the exception of my wallet and my camera (I was taking the photo with my camera, but it goes in that little black container on the left.)  By putting all the things into the black zipper bag, I can simply remove this from my bag when I change bags over and pop it into another one.

The other items are: sunglasses, distance glasses (I’m wearing my reading glasses which would go in as well), the little pouch to put them in; wallet;  lipstick, compact, perfume; handkerchief (usually for drying my hands when I wash them in public loos); a small hairbrush; spare front door key; anti-bac wipes; Kleenex tissues; notepad and pen; mobile; car keys.  My mobile is ancient, I’m almost too embarrassed to show it! A smart phone it is not.

I wonder what’s in your bag right now?


And to complete my Monday  Miscellany …


The All-in-one fruit cake I’ve mentioned on previous occasions. I thought you might like the recipe …

4oz of margarine (or butter);

4oz caster sugar;

2 eggs;

1/4pt milk (less two tablespoons);

12oz mixed fruit (I use sultanas, raisins and glace cherries which I have rinse to remove the sugar and then halved);

8oz self-raising flour

1 level teaspoon mixes spice (I use cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg);

Walnut halves to decorate the cake.


Place all ingredients except the walnut halved in a mixing bowl.  Beat with a wooden spoon until well mixed.  Place in a greased and lined 2lb loaf tin (or use a round tin as I have done here).  Decorate with the walnut pieces.  Bake in the oven at 325F or around 160C for approximately 1 hour.  Test with a skewer to make sure it’s cooked – if not, return to oven for a few more minutes. 

This cake is best left to cool completely before removing from the tin, and then best left until the following day before you cut into it, if you can wait that long.  We rarely can! 

(I have been using this recipe for the past 46 years since I cut it out of a magazine in 1971!)

Until next time.





Margaret Powling


  1. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    How lovely to be able to pop to the zoo when you fancy, I would love that.
    I have gone from big shoulder bags to small across the body bags now for everyday, and I don’t usually carry much in them, if we were out for the day I would take a bigger bag and carry some of the items you carry. I can’t stand the weight of a bag on my shoulders anymore.

    12 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      It’s so funny, Marlene. We’d not been for over ten years and it’s on our doorstep – well almost! And then we thought we’d buy a season ticket, so that we can go any time we like between now and next April. We’d forgotten how lovely it is in the zoo, there are so many areas to see we will never get tired of it.
      You and me both – I can’t stand the weight of a bag on my shoulder any more and I think this is why I’ve had such problems in my left shoulder (I feel strange carrying the bag on my right shoulder.) I will have to get a smaller, cross-body bag, I think. The one I have is just a bit too small. It has to carry essentials: door key, car keys, mobile, sunglasses, reading glasses, distance glasses, wallet and at least a hanky or tissues, and my mobile. I don’t think I can go out with fewer items than these.

      12 . Jun . 2017
  2. Pieta

    I’m afraid my bag must be heavier than yours but it does inspire me to clean it out and see what I have but don’t need!
    I love visiting a zoo and my daughter is going to buy me an annual pass so I can visit with my grandson when I mind him on a Thursday. he loves the animals and short, frequent visits will be so much fun for both of us.

    12 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, short frequent visits to the Zoo are lovely, Pieta. That is what we are now having. We even went on the little train last time we visited which takes us around the island on which are gibbons. It only takes about five or tix minutes to travel this short distance, but children love it. However, we didn’t have the excuse of having our grandson with us on that occasion – I just wanted to have a ride on the little train!
      I do often have more things in my bag but yesterday, before I went to the Zoo I checked the items and what you saw is what was in my bag. I now intend to get a cross-body bag to take the weight off my shoulder. I have one, but it is very small indeed, and won’t hold the basics.

      13 . Jun . 2017
  3. Eloise at thisissixty.blog

    What’s in my bag right now – an ‘inner bag’ which is moved from one bag to another.I like bags almost as much as shoes and often change them so it’s easier to have an inner bag. In this bag is my similarly non-smart phone (in fact I’ve just written on my blog about my elderly mobile phone) reading glasses (and sun glasses when appropriate) , purse, keys and a make up bag which contains a lipstick, mirror, small note book and pen, a tiny sewing kit, wipes, tissues, comb, paracetamol, a nail file and nail glue. The latter refers to glue for finger nails. I rarely break one but if I do, I do like to be able to give it a chance of survival until I get home to do a proper repair. If I remember, I also carry my i-pad so that I can take photographs – I need to get into the habit of taking it out and about. I like fairly large bags but have a couple of much smaller ones and some nice evening bags (which don’t get used very often – my favourite one is about 25 years old).
    The fruit cake looks tasty! I use a fruitcake recipe (Aunt Deirdre’s apple cake) from an old copy of the baking booklet from Bygones museum in Babbacombe (I’m sure we have ‘spoken’ of this lovely place in the past). The recipe is useful for making a lighter Christmas cake too.

    13 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      I confess I used to carry more items in my bag than I do now, Eloise; I simply can’t carry the weight around with me any more. I sometimes remove all but the smallest amount of loose change from my wallet/purse and put it into a very small purse, with just a fiver and my Visa card, as my wallet is quite heavy even when empty.
      Yes, the fruit cake is tasty and so easy to make as you fling everything into the bowl and just mix up, no creaming this or folding in that.

      13 . Jun . 2017
  4. Lara

    I think I was a snail in a past life as I have a tendency to try to pack everything into my bag and in recent years have purposely bought smaller bags to encourage me to be frugal – well as frugal as I can be ! I have a diary (I like paper, storing everything electronically is not for me), good biro pen, handkerchief, umbrella, keys, wallet, snack (usually raw nuts or muesli bar. I know I’m not nice when hungry), coin purse, toiletries bag. That’s as frugal as I can manage. In warmer months I also carry a small fold-up paper fan and a bottle of water. I understand about always carrying your bag on one shoulder – it feels peculiar on the other shoulder and I have tried so many times as I know it’s better for posture etc. Cross-over bags are lovely and I have two but they are smaller in size than my handbags so I don’t use them much – I feel ‘lost’ if I don’t have everything with me. I’m sure there’s a psychological term for such a condition 😉

    I baked a fruit loaf on Sunday. As I’m restricted to gluten free foods these days, I used ‘normal’ self raising flour firmly believing I would not eat any ….. well it smelt so delicious that when it had cooled sufficiently I sliced off the end piece for hubby to taste – and ate half of it ! Gosh it was good 🙂 He has since been enjoying it with cups of tea and there is about one-third left. A simple recipe, too, from an old cookbook and failsafe. Made with love – the most important ingredient.

    13 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      I think we’ve all been guilty of over-packing our bags, Lara, frightened that we might need the items! I know I have. Even now I like to make sure that we have water (to drink, I mean) in the car, tissues and wet wipes, a rug in case we decide to sit down somewhere, umbrelllas, a spare pair of flatl shoes in case we decide to walk any distance and I only have smart shoes on (not necessarily high heels as I can no longer wear ‘heels’) so it’s little wonder that often my bag has similarly been packed with all kinds of things which rarely have been needed.
      Your cake sounded lovely, and I agree that love is a very important ingredient! Perhaps the most important!

      13 . Jun . 2017
  5. Joyce

    Hi Margaret…I would like to make your fruitcake recipe but need to clarify one detail about the milk measurement…is it 1/4 pint (pt)? I’m thinking your measurements are millimeters so pt is confusing me. I learned what caster sugar is through google; that was a new item for me. So fun to learn new things. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    14 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Joyce. I’m sorry to have confused you! A quarter of a pint is 142ml, but you need to take a couple of tablespoons (which are a bit larger than a dessertspoon) from that measure, otherwise the mixture would be too loose. We use both Imperial and Metric measurements here in the UK – most old cookery book recipes are Imperial, i.e. lbs, ounces, pints, etc, while now they’re in grams and millilitres. Caster sugar is finer than the more usual granulated sugar, the kind you’d put on your cornflakes. I use all kinds of sugars for baking: caster for sponges such as Victoria sponge or lemon drizzle cake; soft brown sugar for rock buns; dark Muscovado for Christmas cake. I hope you enjoy making the cake and then enjoy eating it!
      Caster sugar got it’s name from sugar casters, the canisters with a perfortated top so that you could sprinkle the sugar on desserts which were a little sharp, such as stewed rhubarb or apples.

      14 . Jun . 2017

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