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Hotter than Athens

by Margaret Powling-

In our normally temperate climate I never thought that I would be putting an electric fan – an electric fan, indeed! –  as the leading photo on a blog post, but here is the most useful piece of electrical equipment we have in our house today!  We haven’t used this fan for several years, but it came out today, and is busy cooling our sitting room as we speak.  Thank you to whoever designed the first electric fan, what a brilliant idea it was!

* * * * *

Another scorchingly hot day and we’ve been reliably informed that parts of the UK were officially hotter today than Rome, Barcelona and even Athens, at 30C.  And it’s set to be even hotter tomorrow.  Thank goodness we don’t have to go to work, or have any appointments, so we can stay at home and do our best to keep cool.  We Brits aren’t used to heat, but it’s so lovely not to have grey skies. 

We enjoyed breakfast in the garden again this morning, our elder son joined us for that.  Again, I felt I was providing something akin to a hotel breakfast as we all had something different.  First, bowls of fruit (strawberries, raspberries, grapes, bananas and a sliver of stem ginger on top). Then for son grilled bacon & tomatoes on toast with a fried egg; husband had porridge (oatmeal); and I had bran flakes mixed with a little Jordan’s Raspberry Crunchy, on top of which I added raisins and sultanas. 

The only thing missing from the table on this photo is husband’s porridge.   Not a brilliant photo as the sun was filtering through the branches of the tree, so I either focus for shade or for bright light. 

Son then went home to get on with work (our sons are self-employed and both work from home), I cleared the table and filled the dishwasher and made the bed. 

Mid morning and time for a glass of elderflower cordial topped up with sparkling Badoit mineral water and a slice of lemon, this is a lovely drink on a hot day.

I do like some flowers even on the garden table and the blue and ‘gold’ mug goes well with the blue floral embroidery on this little cloth.

For lunch I made smoked salmon and cream cheese ‘finger’ sandwiches, just one round each, crusts removed of course. And after that, a slice of ginger cake (a commercially produced one by McVitie, a lovely sticky cake.)  To make this more a dessert, I served it with raspberries and a little single cream and a sprinkling of icing sugar.  The raspberries were lovely with the ginger cake which was deliciously soft, the cream having soaked into it.

I have to say that the smoked salmon was something of a disappointment.  It wasn’t top grade smoked salmon even though it was from Waitrose.  If you’re going to have something like smoked salmon I do think it pays to buy the best quality you can afford (or justify!) This one simply tasted too salty, it didn’t have that lovely rich smoky flavour that smoked salmon should have.  I added a sprinkling of fresh lemon juice and a good grinding of black pepper before I made the sandwiches, too, but as I say, it was bland and salty (if something can be both of those things!) and a disappointment.  I served them with just a few crisps.

As the afternoon wore on it became too hot to sit outside, even under the walnut tree.  I decamped to the summerhouse with a cup of Earl Grey – husband found it too hot either in the garden or the summerhouse, so remained indoors.

The little butter biscuits are from Lidl’s and are lovely and light, almost little wafer biscuits and ideal with a cup of Earl Grey.  It really is a lovely blend of tea, such a thirst-quencher.

And then it became too hot in the summerhouse, with the sun now lower in the sky and directly facing the little building. I closed the summerhouse up and came indoors.  And I’ve heard on the Weather forecast, that it’s going to remain hot until at least Wednesday. 

* * * * *

For all those who love to see horse racing combined wonderful fashions (and some not quite so wonderful) it’s Royal Ascot tomorrow, starting on television at 1.30 pm.  ITV now shows racing on television but I think Channel 4 made a better fist of it, but I hope to be able to virtually attend this royal meeting. 

I don’t know whether the Queen will be there on Wednesday (the royal meeting is from Tuesday until – and including – Saturday) because it’s the State Opening of Parliament, which was postponed from last week.  I don’t expect Her Majesty can do as quick a clothes change as once she might’ve done, out of her ceremonial robes and Imperial State crown and into her race-going outfit and binoculars!  But we shall see!  She might just make it, if she has a good dresser and a helicopter to whisk her away from the Houses of Parliament to Windsor Castle in time for the carriage drive down the course! 

Until next time.

 

Margaret Powling

22 Comments

  1. Margaret

    I found your blog via “down by the sea” and what a delight it is to read every day! I went back right to the beginning and have worked my way back up to current day.I think having been born in the same era,i share your values of life.Your lovely laid tables and fresh flowers are a joy.Us brits we moan when it’s too cold and when it’s too hot,never a happy medium! I think I’ll be glad when it turns a little cooler by the end of the week.

    19 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      That is so lovely to hear, Margaret, that you are enjoying my blog and have bene reading it from the beginning. I’m glad you have enjoyed seeing the flowers I have bought over the months, and I always try and make the table look attractive, even if all my embroidered cloths are very old indeed – some purchased from Totnes market twenty years or more ago, some inherited that my mother had embroidered. Yes, we do bang on about the weather, don’t we? But as Pieta, who lives in Australia, says, she would be happy to have days around 30C!
      Regarding my older posts, I have been having a quick look at some of them and notice that some of the photos are no longer available. I have attempted to bring those photos back by clicking the box with a cross in it, but this hasn’t worked and I can’t remember which photos I used, so I’m sorry if several of them are missing when you read the older posts.

      20 . Jun . 2017
  2. Pieta

    I love hearing about ‘heatwaves’ in Britain and remember when my daughter lived there for 4 years how everyone went out to the parks and gardens to enjoy the blue skies. Here in Australia a heatwave is when temperatures reach over 35 deg celsius and sometimes it lasts for days. Last summer we had record temps of over 40 for days. I’m not being mean when I say this and I must admit that I prefer days where it is around 30.

    19 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, our heatwave of 30C must seem just nicely warm to you in Australia, Pieta! We’re just not used to the heat and the humidity is high, too, so it’s very sticky. I couldn’t imagine living where it was regularly over 35C. No you are not mean when you say you would prefer days to be around 30C, that would be a nice temperature for you, whereas here, when we’re used to just warm, often damp summers, it is hot.

      20 . Jun . 2017
  3. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    We didn’t do as much as we hoped yesterday the heat just drains the energy. I love the summer and being outside but it was unbearable yesterday. I love those plates your sandwiches are on. I see you have the same book as me through the kitchen window. I think I shall be looking through some books today if it is too hot.

    20 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      The plates are part of the dinner service that we use every day, Marlene. We have no ‘best’ dinner service, this one belonged to my mother and she bought it 2nd hand in the 1970s and I don’t know if the person she bought it from had it from new or whether it was 2nd hand to her as well! This is the ultimate in recycling, isn’t it? Buying antiques and collectables! I think it’s very pretty, there are three different sizes of plates, but no side plates (i.e. what today people call bread & butter plates.)
      The Susan Hill books are very pretty, I think; in the 1970s and 1980s there were a whole host of nostalgia books being published, which I think were kick-started by The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. The Susan Hill books aren’t quite in that style, but they are similarly very pretty. One of my favourite little books from this era is a tiny little fishing diary, Days on Loch, Sea and River by Muriel Foster, and it was published as a facsimile edition, with her delightful little watercolour sketches. Also Janet Marsh’s Nature Diary. Indeed, I feel a blog post coming on regarding some of these lovely books … watch this space!

      20 . Jun . 2017
  4. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    I just love pretty china my new cupboard in the kitchen is slowly filling up with it, I pick things up in the charity shop or carboot very cheaply, and as you say a good way to recycle and reuse,would love to see about those books, I bought the country diary only a few weeks ago.

    20 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Right. I will do a post on some of the lovely books about Nature that I have, both flora and fauna. Appropriate, too, I think at this time of the year.
      How lovely to start to build a collection of pretty china by buying at carboot sales and charity shops. Check out that handles are secure if you intend to use cups and jugs, handles being the weakest link, so to speak, with the body of a piece. Look out for collectable factories, Burleigh (named for two companies that joined forces, Burgess and Leigh); Carlton, Foley, Shelley, and so forth (obviously the more well-known factory pieces, Royal Doulton, Wedgwood, Royal Worcester, etc.) Happy hunting!

      20 . Jun . 2017
  5. Elaine

    Another fan here of pretty china, I have inherited many lovely pieces from my darling late Mum and Grandma & use it daily as it reminds me of them, likewise table or tray cloths embroidered by my talented ancestors. The right place setting can make even a casual meal special.
    We will be watching the racing Margaret, living close to a well known racing town we are used to seeing those beautiful creatures on their way up to the gallops, such a glorious sight.

    20 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, it’s lovely when we use inherited pieces, isn’t it, Elaine? I think of my mother every time I use our dinner service every day. It’s the only decent tableware we have, all the rest of the pieces are tea services, not dinner services. And if I had more, I’d have no places in which to keep them! I also look around our house and see all the pieces of china and the paintings and every one of them reminds me of my late mother and her elderly brother, my dear uncle. My Dad, lovely chap that he was, wasn’t keen on “the old stuff” as he called it; I think he’d be very surprised to see so many of the family pieces still in our home!
      Oh, how lovely to be near the gallops – it sounds like you are near Newmarket, which I would love to visit. But then I love Suffolk, my favourite county after Devon (where we live.)

      20 . Jun . 2017
  6. Eloise at thisissixty.blog

    As always, your meals are so elegantly served. My husband and I eat dinner together but not very often breakfast or lunch. He gets up very early, often before 7am, walks to the shop for the newspaper and is eating breakfast by 7.30am latest. I get up at around 8.30 but do not like breakfast until around 10am so husband’s 12 o’clock lunch doesn’t suit me. He then has an afternoon snack and we are aligned for an early dinner! Not ideal but it fits our lives. On a gym day I often skip breakfast and eat a banana with the post-exercise coffee On holiday or when we go out for lunch we manage to compromise!
    When I discovered your blog, like The ‘other’ Margaret above, I went back and read previous posts too. At that time all the photos were available …no little xs, but the same thing has happened on my blog now and I can’t reinstate them either and I only have a fraction of the number. Given that I paid For an upgrade to include a larger amount of whatever it is that supports the blog, it is rather annoying. I need to look into it.
    It’s a little cooler this morning and so much more pleasant.
    My interest is more in glass than chinaware and I particularly like the pink pressed glass. I’ve picked up several pieces from jumble sales over the years, though there hardly ever seem to be any on nowadays. As ver, lovely photos.

    20 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Now that my husband is in his 80s he gets up later than he used to; he doesn’t always sleep well, and then from around 4 am onwards, sleeps more heavily, so I often get up and get showered and dressed and then, when he’s awake and showered and dressed, we have our breakfast (after he’s gone to the shop for the newspaper – the shop that used to deliver our paper closed down, and our local one doesn’t deliver – indeed, do people still have papers delivered? We tend to eat when we are hungry, no set times. Indeed, now we’re retired (and have been for almost 20 years), I fight against regimentation. I know people who say things like, “Oh, we can’t see you on Thursday, that’s the day we do our shopping …” Again, we shop when the fridge and larder are looking if not empty, then depleted. We have no special day.
      I didn’t know you could upgrade a blog, I must investigate. I paid £100 for my blog so that I could be in total charge of it, and not have pop up adverts which annoy me and I’m sure would annoy readers.
      Do you know, I’ve never really noticed pink pressed glass! How remiss of me! I will now keep my eyes open for it. I, too, love glass, both pressed glass and cut crystal.

      20 . Jun . 2017
  7. Elaine

    Newmarket is well worth a visit Margaret, especially since the refurbishment of the Palace House Stables. It now holds the Racing Museum and Gallery together with a centre for the rehabilitation of ex racehorses, most interesting. I can heartily recommend the Tack room restaurant there, especially their brunches.
    Suffolk is a beautiful county and bit of a hidden gem especially the old wool towns of Long Melford and Lavenham, but then I may be biased.
    We have the garden contractors in today cutting the large hedges, the dogs are most disappointed that they can’t go out and investigate i.e pester!
    Have to say am guilty of only ever having read one book of Susan Hill, will leave you guess which one, but will certainly look to investigate more.

    20 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Our introduction to Suffolk was in 1984 (the summer of the Los Angeles Olympics) when we did a house swap with a family in Long Melford! What a lovely village that is, reputedly the longest village in England, I understand? We visited Lavenham, Bury St Edmunds, Aldeburgh, Snape, etc and since then have returned on our own to Aldeburgh but not since 2002.
      I tried the crime novels of Susan Hill but I wasn’t keen; but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good, just that they’re not for me.

      20 . Jun . 2017
  8. Eloise at thisissixty.blog

    Hello again, oh I do agree about doing things to a timetable. Apart from work, I rarely do anything at set times or on set days though I tend to pop to the gym on Mondays, Wednesday’s and Friday’s. Haha, that sounds very regimented! But I am always happy to change that if something more interesting is on offer. If only I could get husband to get up later we could align ourselves better. He is 71 so maybe he will change as he approaches 80!
    I have some very pretty green glass too, but although green is one of my favourite colours, for some reason it is the pink glass that I have developed a particular liking for.

    20 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Maybe your husband will get up later as he becomes older, but these habits are difficult to break. My husband’s brother, who is 18 months older than my husband, gets up very early, but perhaps he sleeps more soundly? I’ve never been to a gym in my life, but if you enjoy it, then that’s the thing to do.
      Your green glasses sound pretty but I think I’d prefer pink, too.

      20 . Jun . 2017
  9. Sarah

    Have you tried the hot salmon flakes from Waitrose? Good in sandwiches, salads and in the winter I like it tossed into pasta with soft buttery leeks. I laid a pretty tray with my lunchtime sandwiches, fruit and homemade elderflower cordial intending to watch the tennis and Ascot, but I’m ashamed to say I fell asleep. I felt so groggy afterwards that after making a pot of fresh mint tea I decided a cycle through the woods to the allotment to water and pick salad, strawberries, the first summer raspberries and broad beans was necesssary. My husband is now preparing the produce which we’re having with chilli infused salmon from Waitrose and delicious home-grown Charlotte potatoes as it is just too darn hot here. We have the Guardian delivered (the Observer on Sunday) every day and it is my special treat to read the paper in bed accompanied by two cups of tea every morning. Then I am ready for my porridge and the day ahead. Keep cool Margaret.

    20 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      No, I’ve not tried the hot salmon flakes from Waitrose, Sarah, I will put them on my shopping list! What a good idea to add them to pasta with soft, buttery leeks! I like the sound of that very much!
      Oh, how lovely to have an allotment so that you can grow your own produce and have it really fresh from the soil! I watched Ascot while in our summerhouse but I admit I had a job keeping awake! I also had elderflower cordial (sadly, not homemade; I have made it but I haven’t found a good source of elderflowers) topped up with sparkling mineral water and a slice of lemon.
      How lovely to be able to have our paper delivered. We still miss that even more than a year since it was last delivered to us. We used to love to read the paper in bed – husband with the business section and me with the main paper, before swapping over. He sometimes gets up before me, showers and gets dressed and then goes for the paper while I’m still in bed, and when he returns makes porridge for both of us while I sit in bed and read the paper.

      20 . Jun . 2017
  10. Lara

    I agree with many of the above comments – your plates are pretty, elderflower cordial is delicious (our local farmers market features a stall where bottles are sold), I sympathise with your heatwave, etc. ha ha.

    Our daytime winter temperatures are currently 18 deg C which is lovely. The sun made an appearance for several hours this morning to give us a much-needed break from the grey skies and showers. Just enough to brighten everyone’s mood again. Back to grey skies this afternoon ….. I often wonder why we Australians are obsessed with weather – a constant topic of conversation, a regular inclusion in a greeting, etc. Perhaps we inherited it from the English ? Given that weather is often a key determinant in the day’s clothing choices, activity levels (esp when hot) and so on, it’s a reasonable obsession.

    21 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Your daytime temperature for winter is like a normal June here in summer, around 18C – 20C! That is a lovely temperature, one where you can go for a walk and not feel either hot or cold. If you in Australia are obsessed with talking about the weather, goodness knows what we Brits are! We talk about the weather constantly (or seemingly constantly!) and if we tune in to the News on BBC TV, the Weather comes on about every quarter of an hour! Yes, you will have inherited this topic from we English/British, but of course, the weather plays such a role in our lives here, it’s constantly changing so even if we were to go on holiday in our own country today – in a heatwave – we’d still have to pack wet- and cold-weather clothes, “just in case …”
      This morning is the State Opening of Parliament by HM the Queen, and I’m about to go and watch that. Prince Philip was admitted to hospital last night for a minor infection we have been informed, so he will not be accompanying the Queen either to this ceremony or to Royal Ascot this afternoon.

      21 . Jun . 2017
  11. Eloise at thisissixty.blog

    Regarding the upgrade on my blog, Margaret, the basic WordPress blog site is free but an upgraded version can be purchased which allows it to be advert-free, more choice in layout and gives a greater amount of storage space.

    21 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you for that information, Eloise. My computer guru set my blog up for me, and started posting. I might need to check out about having extra storage space if I wish to keep the photos available (if this is, indeed, possible.)

      21 . Jun . 2017

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