Busy Doing Nothing …

by Margaret Powling-

 … Working the whole day through, trying to find lots of things not to do …


I’m sure you know the old song, and it sums up how today has been.  I started out with every intention of doing several jobs but instead I just did pleasant things, not what you could call work at all, not even housekeeping.  But first, I cooked breakfast for husband, myself and our elder son (who lives close by, his wife was at work, grandson at Nursery and he was very busy so I thought it would be a treat for him to have his breakfast made and all he had to do was walk the 50 yards from his house to ours, sit down, and eat.)

Really, when I do breakfast it’s like a B&B as we all have something different. Husband now prefers porridge (or oatmeal I think you would call that in America or Canada), I prefer to have a bowl of fruit and then a bowl of bran flakes mixed with some crunchy cereal all topped with sultanas, sliced bananas and perhaps some raspberries (and definitely not sugar to spoilt it!) and son loves to have fruit to start with and then a cooked breakfast. So this is what I did. First laid the table – I always lay a table first, no good thinking about that once the food is ready.  Then I pop the grill on and get the bacon and tomatoes grilling, measure out the oats and milk and get that cooking for porridge, and then once all that is underway, prepare the bowls of fruit for myself and our son.  I also make tea (1 bag Earl Grey, 1 bag Indian) and put out two kinds of milk – semi-skimmed for husband’s porridge, skimmed for the tea – plus marmalade and honey in case anyone wants that with extra toast.  I tell you, it’s like a catering kitchen.

As well as grilled bacon and tomatoes (on which I sprinkle dried Basil), I fry some sliced Portobello mushrooms and a lovely egg from our egg man who delivers them to our door  (few food miles, they’re from a lovely chicken farm in East Devon). 

And so, breakfast all ready, I text our son, and he hot-foots it around and we sit down and have our breakfast together.  A good start to the day.


When all that was cleared away, I changed the bed linen and eventually got some of it onto the line …

Husband had put the garden chairs out for us, and you can see the pattern created by the shadow of the leaves from our walnut tree on the sheet and pillow cases.

Once the fresh bed linen was on the bed, I changed the flower water … there are tightly budded alstromeria in the sitting room at the moment, but they will open in due course, and some of the sweet Williams are still doing well (I change the water frequently). These are the pastel-coloured ones I had on the sofa table last week but now cut down to fit a smaller vase which I have placed in the punch bowl in the hearth.  They will last a few more days, I think.


As I wasn’t able to find any pastel pink roses for our bedroom this week, I chose white instead, but that meant changing a few of the scent bottles around on my dressing chest … you can see now how I have been busy doing nothing, can’t you?  I think the other term is “faffing” …

While I was arranging the flowers the doorbell rang – it was a delivery from Penhaligon’s. I had bought their lovely Blenheim Bouquet soap in their summer Sale …

Also some lip balm. I’ve never used lip balm before – I have used Lypsyl when I have had chapped lips following a cold, but as I’ve always worn lipstick I have never felt the need for lip balm.  But it was £3 in the Sale, so I thought I’d give it a try …

I’m afraid it does look like tan shoe polish, but it’s quite pleasant. I wouldn’t buy it at the full price of £8 but for £3 worth a punt as they say.


Lunch was easy; I used the two remaining asparagus and potato tartlets I made at the weekend from the freezer, allowed them to thaw, and then popped them into a hot oven for 15 minutes. We had them with salad, new potatoes and coleslaw.


After lunch I decamped to the garden and later, husband joined me and we had tea and sticky ginger cake (not my own, I might add, but a commercial one by McVitie’s) …

I am really enjoying the book by Harry Mount, How England Made the English, and am half way through it.  So much history in it to devour, so many things I’d not heard of (does that surprise me?), it’s a great book if you want to know how England ended up looking like it does.


As the sun motored around and even though our walnut tree had recently come into leaf, it didn’t offer sufficient shade, so I decamped to the summerhouse  – husband went to do some jobs inside the house – with yet another cup of tea, this time Earl Grey. I even picked some roses and Johnson’s blue geraniums for the summerhouse …

I then spent my time reading back issues of The English Home

So, a very pleasant day, no work done (unless you count making breakfast for the three of us, plus changing the bed linen, and putting together an easy lunch, changing flower water, and clearing up after meals and popping the crockey into the dishwasher.  Indeed, the sort of day I could manage quite easily every day!

Finally, the heliotrope (and some lobelia) are coming along nicely by the back door …

I love heliotrope for their wonderful vanilla scent. There is a pot either side of the back door. They are more purple than the royal blue colour above indicates.

I wonder what you have been doing today?

Until next time.

Margaret Powling


  1. Eloise at thisissixty.blog

    I’ve been to the doctor’s, the gym and for a manicure. I’ve done absolutely no housework or anything remotely domesticated other than to crack, beat and pour three eggs onto leftover vegetables to make a tortilla kind of thing!
    It’s been beautifully warm and sunny today and now there is a slight breeze. I do enjoy the evenings being light until late.
    I like the sound of the book and shall look out for it. I’ve been thinking about reading material for my Lake District holiday and want to get a copy of ‘A shepherd’s Life: A tale of the Lake District’. I thought it would be rather apt. Also, I read part of Helen MacDonald’s ‘H is for Hawk’ as background for a university assignment and I’d like to read that in full.
    Do let me know if you decide to venture into providing B&B – breakfast sounds lovely!!

    14 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      I hope your visit to your GP wasn’t too stressful, but also nice to go to the gym and then have a manicure. I’ve had manicures in the past but have never managed to keep the nails looking good for more than a couple of days! But oh, they looked lovely for a few hours!
      We also cracked eggs for our supper this evening, neither of us feeling sufficiently hungry to have a full meal, so we had scrambled eggs on toast. Aren’t eggs useful!
      I am really enjoying the Harry Mount book and he has written a similar one (which I have) and which I mentioned a few blot posts ago, A Lust for Window Sills – A lover’s guide to British buildings from portcullis to pebble-dash, and I’m looking forward to reading that, too.
      I enjoy making breakfast and putting an attractive, well-cooked and well-presented plateful of food in front of husband and son (and also our younger son if he happens to arrive here at breakfast time.)

      14 . Jun . 2017
  2. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Sounds like a pretty perfect day to me x

    14 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Marlene … yes, I enjoyed it and feel more rested for having done not-very-much.

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

    Sounds to me like your sons would certainly want to find a reason to visit for breakfast!
    We eat a lot of eggs. My favourite way is hard boiled and sliced on top of marmite on toast.
    Well, what a surprise at the doctors – appointment was 10:20am. I arrived at 10:10 expecting a 45 minute wait which seems the norm. I booked in on the electronic screen and was called even before I could sit down!! I had pneumonia last summer and have scarring on my right lung. I have had several lots of antibiotics since for an ongoing infection that just won’t clear and am still having routine check ups. Looks. Like another CAT scan is on the cards.

    14 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      How awful to have had pneumonia. I had double pneumonia as a child and so if ever I have a chest X-ray for any reason, I always mention this as my lungs are also scarred. Indeed, we moved from what was then the industrial heartland of England (Whitworth, near Rochdale, in Lancashire) soon afterwards, to Torquay, where my parents considered the cleaner air would be more beneficial to my health. So this Lancashire lass ended up in Devon, and my parents never regretted it, they loved their adopted county. I was fortunate insofar as I survived, but I was taken to hospital only just in the nick of time, apparently. In those days there were few antibiotics (I’m speaking of 1951) and I was given a medicine called M&B which I can remember was quite nasty to take, but I survived (obviously) although I was in hospital for 6 weeks and then in an orthopaedic hospital afterwards, learning to walk again as I’d just about lost the use of my legs having been in bed for so long. So I’ve had first-hand experience of having had pneumonia, a very nasty illness.
      I do hope your infection clears up soon.

      14 . Jun . 2017
  4. Eloise at thisissixty.blog

    Goodness me! I was very poorly but the fact that it was 2016 meant that it was a less traumatic time than it would have been in 1951. How awful for a little girl.
    I am certain that a move to the sea would prove beneficial to me too!

    14 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      The funny thing was that, apart from my father who died of a stroke aged 66, my mother (and later my uncle – her brother – and my grandfather – her father, who moved to live with us in Devon in the mid-1950s) all lived to a good old age, my mother almost 88 and my uncle and grandfather aged 92, while our relatives in Lancashire died very much earlier, one uncle in his 50s. I can’t put that totally down to coastal fresh air, but it must’ve had some bearing on it, surely? I really was very ill indeed. The only thing that saved me, I’m sure, is that my father was the newsagent who had the paper round in the hospital and, as such, got to know many doctors and consultants. He told one of them that his daughter – me – was very ill but our GP had said I should be sent back to school, I was just malingering. This very kind consultant immediately came to see me and within the hour I was in hospital, he said an hour later and I’d have died. It was a very incorrect diagnosis by our family doctor! My pneumonia was a complication of having had measles. I can just remember being taken in the ambulance and then being put in a cot on the children’s ward and thinking, “I’m nearly six years old, I’m too old for a bed with sides to it!” Even though I was very ill, I was most distressed that I’d been put in what I thought was a baby’s bed!
      Even today I can remember the names of the nurse and ward sister who nursed me back to health: Nurse Lorrimer and Sister Quinlan. The hospital was Rochdale Infirmary.

      14 . Jun . 2017
  5. Sue

    I managed to get three pieces of mending done today, they have been waiting for 2 or 3 weeks. Tonight I made the effort and got them done.

    14 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Well done on the mending, Sue. It’s lovely when a job that you don’t really want to do is accomplished, isn’t it?

      14 . Jun . 2017
  6. Lara

    I think your day of faffing sounds lovely. Don’t sell yourself short – preparing three different breakfasts, stripping a bed, washing and putting clean linen on a bed is all hearty work and well worth a sit down with a cup of tea afterwards. I had errands to run this morning and decided I would treat myself whilst out with morning tea in a cafe. It was very disappointing due to my poor choice of what would accompany my pot of tea. I fancied toast (not feeling like anything sweet) and the only gluten free option offered was something called sprout bread. I figured well, nothing ventured nothing gained but it was like a mouthful of …. I can’t even describe it …..Suffice to say they had a hide to call it toast…. and all of the tiny black bits were stuck in my teeth. I had slathered it in peanut butter but that hardly helped. $11 for a small pot of tea and inedible toast. Ouch.

    15 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Sprout bread? That even sounds awful, Lara! And with black bits in it? Had they ever tried eating it themselves, I wonder? I don’t know how Australian dollars translate into English pounds, but $11 for tea and toast sounds very expensive to me. What a shame, when you were so looking forward to this little treat.
      But you are right, making the breakfast and then clearing that up, tidying up generally (that is a given), changing the bed linen, washing and putting the laundry on the line, re-making the bed with clean linen (not the stuff I’d just washed, of course), all took energy and time. So perhaps I did deserve a little sit down in the afternoon.

      15 . Jun . 2017

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