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A Sunny Sunday

by Margaret Powling-

We started today with how we usually start a sunny Sunday – well, a sunny any day since we are retired – with breakfast in the garden.  This is my favourite breakfast:  grilled bacon and grilled tomatoes on toast ,and fresh fruit.  However, as the bacon was hot we thought we’d have it first, rather than the fruit.  The fruit platter consisted of grapes, cherries, some banana slices, raspberries and strawberries.  I use whatever is to hand, and if we’re low on fresh fruit, I also use tinned pears and tinned pineapple. 

We love to eat out of doors. We’re not keen on barbecues, we just carry our everyday crockery and food outside. It’s the eating it out of doors that we enjoy, we don’t eat any particularly out-of-doors picnic-style food. 

It was far too hot to do any work, even gardening, so after husband had collected the Sunday paper from our local shop and then watered the plants, we sat on the loungers under our walnut tree.

This is the view as I looked up at the sky through the branches of the tree. 

Lunch was just a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich each, and I had the sandwiches ready on plates when our younger son arrived with Barry-the-dog to wish husband Happy Father’s Day, and so I handed him my plate of sandwiches (he’d not had lunch) and I made another round for myself.  He stopped and chatted for a while before going to see his brother (our elder son) who, as I’ve mentioned, lives just 50 yards away. 

We enjoyed being in the garden.  We had sufficient shade from the tree until late afternoon when the sun had moved around to the west.  Around three o’clock elder son, our daughter in law and our little grandson called, as it was Father’s Day.  I had just taken out a tray containing tea and slices of lemon sponge, so of course little grandson wanted some cake! (The glasses contain water, by the way. We make sure we have plenty of water to drink this hot weather.)

 

We need new lounger cushions. We had some very old ones that had ‘belonged’ to our previous (plastic) loungers, but they really were very much past their best and so we got rid of those last year and now can’t find suitable ones for the steamer chairs.  As with The Apprentice, “the search for the steamer chair cushions continues …”

When our family left I decamped to the summerhouse and watched Escape to the Country.  I enjoy this programme but am irritated by some of the people (correction, I am irritated by a lot of the people!)  on the programme, some of whom it is blatantly obvious are not really interested in buying any of the properties and sometimes a voiceover at the end says that they have now extended their search area, or even are searching in another part of the country entirely.

Husband joined me in the summerhouse and I made us drinks of elderflower cordial topped up with Badoit sparkling mineral water, and two little macarons each. 

I love our little summerhouse.  Hard to think it is almost seven years since husband built it for me.  The only new things in it are the chairs … well, they are hardly new any longer, we bought them about three years ago (in a Sale.)

The summerhouse is tucked away in the far corner of our small garden and although we live in a Close of 20 houses, few people notice when we are in the summerhouse or are having our meals outside.

It is now time to close up the summerhouse for the evening and come into the cool of the sitting room – curtains have been drawn against the heat of the day, so it’s pleasantly cool in there now.  And a new programme with Timothy West and Prunella Scales to watch, one of their Great Canal Journeys, this time in India.

The garden this evening – it’s small but we have grass in which to wriggle our toes, somewhere to sit, somewhere to eat, the summerhouse for shade, and some flowers. 

Hope you have had an equally restful day.

Until next time.

Margaret Powling

18 Comments

  1. Pieta

    Your summer house is so special and your garden is beautiful.

    19 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Pieta. Our garden is very small and needs a lot of attention right now. The peonies have been a disaster this year. Far too much rain while they were in bud and they simply rotted on the stems. Never mind, the grass is now very green in spite of our recent spell of hot weather, and I have violas and cosmos in pots which are very petty. I love the little summerhouse, it’s very small, only 8ft by 6ft but large enough for a couple of chairs, a table, and a small TV. It’s lovely to be able to watch summer events that are broadcast while being almost outside in the garden.

      19 . Jun . 2017
  2. Elaine

    What a smashing summer house Margaret and a perfect spot to while away a few hours.
    It was very hot here yesterday (East Anglia) and set to be the same today. We are lucky as the garden surrounds the cottage so we can usually find a shady spot, we sat outside for most of yesterday and only came in when the boys wanted to watch the end of the cricket. They loved the sponge btw and had two generous slices each, they are both hollow-legged and can eat for England!

    19 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Our garden at the front is open plan to the road, so we don’t use that at all, there are grassy banks which need a lot of cutting, too. The back garden is the only part we can actually use to sit in, but with our tree there is shade until quite late in the afternoon – without the tree it would be unbearable. How lovely that you have a wrap-around garden so that you can always find a shady spot.
      So glad the boys enjoyed the sponge! This mixture can be adapted. If you leave out just a small portion of flour and substitute it for cocoa powder (better than drinking chocolate in this instance) you get a rather nice chocolate cake. You don’t have to remove too much flour because cocoa powder is quite oily so it adds to the moisture content of the cake. Once cool, I put a buttercream through the centre made with margarine as I don’t like butter made up with icing sugar and sieved cocoa powder, and on top I ice with melted Bourneville chocolate (melted in a bowl over hot, but not boiling, water – making sure I don’t allow any moisture into the bowl from the water, that makes it go cloudy and you can’t use it.)
      Also, you can use strawberry or raspberry jam and fresh strawberries and raspberries and then a layer of whipped cream. Actually using (whipped) double cream in this instance is better – although not healthy! – because whipping cream doesn’t stay whipped for long, and if you use double cream you can use half of the cake one day, and half the next, provided it’s kept in the fridge. So if you have friends or family coming, this looks really spectacular. You don’t need to do much to the top, just icing sugar and even a few raspberries or strawberries in the centre.
      I also turn it into a coffee and walnut cake, adding some Camp coffee essence to the mixture and then making the buttercream with margarine, icing sugar and some Camp coffee, and decorating with walnuts (and I sometimes add chopped walnuts to the sponge mixture.)

      19 . Jun . 2017
  3. Jo

    We’re so lucky to have gardens, aren’t we? Somewhere nice to enjoy the good weather, when it eventually arrives. I like your summerhouse too. We spent yesterday at the beach as it was such a beautiful day.

    19 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Strangely enough, Jo, we don’t go to the beach in summer even though it’s only down the road! WE enjoy a walk by the beach in cooler times of the year, but we don’t like sitting out in the heat of the sun these days, and my days of wearing a swim suit are long over! But it’s lovely to enjoy the beach and even have a paddle, the cool water is good for the circulation, I understand. We just spent the day in the garden, and loved it. But at least we know we have the beach close by if we should wish to go there. And yes, we are very lucky to have gardens.

      19 . Jun . 2017
  4. Lara

    Your summer house is so pretty and I never tire of your photos and descriptions of your garden, your food, …. well, anything really !

    We are wet wet wet here. Our winter has finally arrived which is lovely (for me) as I love wearing jeans, skirts with boots, three-quarter sleeves, jackets and scarves. The intermittent showers are a bore but you can’t have everything. Our lawn is so waterlogged that the groundwater is now above the ground level. The wild ducks from the lake about 250m from our house have taken over the front yards of surrounding houses and waggling their little tail feathers with delight. I’m using the weather as an excuse to read books, read the daily paper, crochet, cook comfort food and have baths every day (instead of showers)….. I’d shake my tail feathers, too, if I could 🙂

    ps bit disappointed that Barry didn’t make it into any of the photos ……

    19 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      We could do with some of your wet right now! The garden is looking a little dry even after all the rain we’ve had. I expect it won’t be long before we’re advised to use water carefully! This always tends to happen after we’ve had a few days of hot weather! Oh, how lovely to see the wild ducks! We only have seagulls, or rather herring gulls – there is no such specie as a seagull, we just call them that! And yes, you are doing the right thing, enjoy doing nothing only reading, crocheting, etc.
      As for Barry … well, I did take his photo but it wasn’t good! The sun was very strong and he had his little eyes closed! He loves to lie in the sunshine, but of course, when it was as hot as yesterday, we only allowed him to lie in the sun for a very short length of time.
      We’ve already had breakfast out of doors, elder son joined us and now I must clear up the kitchen, load the dishwasher and make the bed. Then I can do nothing very much for the rest of the day … but I mustn’t forget I have articles to write. My deadlines will soon be upon me!

      19 . Jun . 2017
  5. Eloise at thisissixty.blog

    We also had a relaxing day as it was too hot to do anything very much. I didn’t even bake a cake which I usually do on a Sunday. It seems churlish to complain about the heat when we so often moan that the weather is dull but…PHEW! I best like the sun when accompanied by a breeze. Our garden is entirely south facing and there is really no naturally shady part. The trees, which would offer some actually only shade the rockery which does not lend itself to sitting upon!
    Most years we put up a canvas gazebo but it got torn in a strong wind last year and looks very shabbier than remembered so we’ve decided that it has to go. Currently we have a large sun umbrella over the garden table and may just use that this year.

    19 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Our younger son also has a south facing garden, with little to no shade. South facing is lovely unless it’s blisteringly hot as it has been these past few days. I think my lucky stars that we have a house with a huge walnut tree to give us shade in summer and nuts – provided the squirrels leave us some! – in winter. And our summerhouse is in the shade of the tree, too, so it keeps it cool (and we have electricity in it so we can have a heater in the autumn, should we wish to sit out there. It’s really so we can have a lamp, or music, or the small TV on … I’m looking forward now to watching Royal Ascot while in the summerhouse!)
      It must’ve been hot for you if you didn’t make a cake, Eloise!
      I’m now off to sit in the garden again, having cooked breakfast for elder son (who lives very close by) and husband and myself, got the washing on, made the bed. I think time for a sit down with coffee.
      Your canvas gazebo sounds a bit like the cushions we had for our steamer chairs and which used to be on our loungers. We parted with them last year but haven’t been able to find suitable replacements.

      19 . Jun . 2017
  6. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Your garden looks delightful Margaret, very pretty , plenty of colour, we love eating outdoors, like you we don’t do barbeque’s although if requested by the men I occasionally cook some sausages, chicken that sort of thing indoors to take outside , but as you just take our everyday food outside, I can’t imagine not having a garden, I personally could never live in a flat.

    19 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I’ve no problem with eating sausages, etc, out of doors, provided they are properly cooked indoors first of all. I’ve always found barbecues highly overrated. But they are more a social event than a food event, I think. But as with you, just eating our everyday food outside. No, I wouldn’t, by choice, live in a flat, either, even if there was a communal garden, it’s not the same as being in your own little green space, is it?

      19 . Jun . 2017
  7. Elaine

    Thank you for the cake ideas Margaret, am thinking perhaps chocolate with whipped cream and raspberries next.

    19 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, that sounds lovely, Elaine. Indeed, at lunch time today, I jazzed up a simple McVitie’s ginger cake, which is really a very nice sticky pudding-style cake. I cut us each a generous slice and then put five large raspberries alongside, then poured over just a little single cream and a sprinkle of icing sugar on the raspberries and voila, a proper dessert but with little effort involved. The cream soaked into the ginger cake and it was really nice, both in flavour and texture.

      19 . Jun . 2017
  8. Samantha

    I’m preparing to move from a flat to a house with a garden and am so excited! Being a novice gardener, I would love some recommendations for flowers that are easy to care for.

    I’m also looking forward to being able to eat outside, but how do you keep the pesky flies and wasps away from your food when you eat outside?

    20 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Samantha. How lovely for you to be moving from a flat to a house with a garden. However, it’s difficult to know where to begin to give advice to a novice gardener. I’m not a good gardener by any means, our little garden is all very hit or miss, but somehow we manage to make it look acceptable. Husband does most of the gardening as I can’t bend down because of arthritis, but I do the pots in the autumn and fill them with tulip and narcissi bulbs for the spring.
      I think the best way would be for you to go along to your nearest garden centre and get a soil testing kit. Then you will know what kind of soil you have, whether neutral, acid or alkali. Some plants will thrive almost anywhere, others will only thrive in the kind of soil that suits them best. Much depends also on the direction your garden faces, whether it has full sun for much of the day, as in a south facing garden, or little sun, an east or north facing garden. Also, how much light your garden has, whether it’s totally exposed, or whether it is overshadowed by buildings or trees.
      Look at other gardens in your neighbourhood and see which plants thrive, then they might do well in your garden although that it’s always a certainty. Bear in mind if buying shrubs that some of them can be come large very quickly. When we moved here we bought a eucalyptus, not thinking it would get very tall – boy, did it grow! Husband lopped it regularly but after about eight years it had to be cut down completely. Also, some plants will tolerate a heavy soil that retains moisture, other plants like a free draining, lighter soil.
      Buy a basic gardening book, which will explain about plants and shrubs. And, of course, think about the flowers you have always loved and see whether they might be suitable for your soil. Also, much will depend on how large or small your garden is, and whether it needs hard landscaping to start with or whether you are taking over an already mature garden. Consider before you start to do any planting, whether you will want a greenhouse and where that might be sited (not under trees, greenhouses need light), and whether you want to erect a small shed for your tools. It’s best to get the bones sorted out to start with. And you will need somewhere to sit, it’s no fun having a garden that is so stuffed with plants that there isn’t anywhere to relax. And perhaps you might like to have a summerhouse, too, in time, and where that might be sited (I advise in the shade, if there is any.) So lots to consider. Read all you can about gardening, watch Gardener’s World, and if there is something you don’t understand, make a note of it and Google it.
      Easy to care for flowers are herbaceous plants such as cranesbill and Johnson’s blue geranium and the lovely alchamilla mollis (lady’s mantle). That has lovely acid green leaves and lime yellow fuzzy flowers, and goes well with to many flowers. But also, if they are easy to care for (which also means that they thrive and tolerate all kinds of conditions) means that they can be garden thugs too, and spread everywhere. But I don’t mind these spreading as they rather nice!
      As for the flies and wasps, well I have to say that we are seldom troubled with them! Maybe they just don’t like us. They might descend if we had food crops, but our garden is very small and we don’t grow produce, so no fruit canes or strawberries to attract wasps. I’m sure you will be able to eat out of doors without being stung or flies crawling all over your food. I do believe there are special candles, too, to light and have out of doors to put the blighters off!
      Do look in again and let us know how you get on with your garden.

      20 . Jun . 2017
  9. Rochelle

    What a stunning garden you have! I’m new to your blog since Fiona Ferris recommended it on hers, and I’m enjoying it so much. You have given me many ideas as I work on my own little garden. We’re in the middle of a large and messy project of drain construction by our town in Michigan to correct poor drainage. It will be wonderful when it’s finished, and we can properly landscape without the annual spring flooding. We’re close to our neighbors, and I love how you have given such a private and cozy feel to yours in a smaller space. And that summer house — so charming!! I’ll have to try to sort through your older posts to see more garden pictures!

    21 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      I am delighted, Rochelle, you have found my blog via Fiona’s lovely blog, so welcome! Thank you for your kind comments regarding our garden, but it’s by no means perfect, but that’s a garden for you; as long as we have some grass, a few pretty flowers and somewhere to sit and relax and have meals, we’re happy. While the drainage is being done, the whole place will be upside down, I’ve no doubt, but once in situ, you will benefit from it with no spring flooding. As you can see from photos of our garden, we are overlooked by neighbouring properties, not only those at the back beyond our boundary wall next to the summerhouse, but also to the side, but it’s not as if they all stand in their windows all day long staring at us, e have lovely neighbours, and in a way, I don’t mind that they can overlook our little green oasis, as few of the houses have proper gardens (or back yards as you would refer to them – here a yard is usually a small concrete area, not a garden).
      I am sorry that on some of my older posts, some of the photos have been removed. This wasn’t by me, perhaps it was by WordPress, and I’ve been unable to reinstate them; but never mind, there are quite a lot to look at.

      21 . Jun . 2017

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