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The Last Bank Holiday of the Year

This weekend it is the final Bank Holiday of the summer, and Monday is a public holiday here in England.

Yesterday, television News showed the hoards of people attempting to ‘get away’ for their holidays at airports and at stations (I won’t say “railway” stations as that has always been considered tautology; if you spoke of a station it was obvious that you meant a railway station, just as “horse” riding is tautology when the correct terminology is simply “riding” – what else did you ride?) and then the News ‘went’ to a reporter, standing on a bridge somewhere overlooking a motorway with three lanes of traffic in either direction almost at a standstill, and him explaining how busy the roads were.

It’s funny how reporters always have to show such things – when there’s a flood they have to don wellies and stand in the water; when there’s a hurricane they are somewhere trying to stay upright in a teeth of a gale.  It’s all very silly.

Anyway, while all this was being shown,  husband and I were sitting peaceably in our summerhouse, enjoying a cup of and a slice of ginger cake (not home made, but no matter.)  We are amazed that in the 21st century, i.e. a very a long time since the advent of Bank Holidays which enabled workers to have a day away, perhaps at the seaside, being taken there by what we called charabancs, peoples act like lemmings and go away en masse.  It just seems a bit silly to me that because we have an extra day’s holiday tacked onto  our annual leave allocation many of us feel we must ‘get away’.   It is something that we have never done, but there again, there has been no need, living as we do in a seaside town.

And there we sat, amazed that so many people are prepared to put up with the discomfort of long tail backs on the roads, overcrowded trains that somehow don’t quite run on time, and delays at airports.  OK, some will be going away for longer, than the weekend, but why leave it until now, one of the busiest weekends of the summer?  Just think how awful if would be if  going away at a Bank Holiday was made compulsory!

This morning husband went to visit his brother who needed some assistance with a DIY job, and so I had a leisurely breakfast outside.  My goodness, we have some sunshine at last, and while not hot, warm enough to sit outside.  Lovely!

I’d actually had porridge (that’s oatmeal to those in USA, Canada, Australia, NZ) with golden syrup about 8 am, but I had been to the local mini-market and came home with baguettes and a croissant to have with apricot jam and coffee.  Husband doesn’t care for croissants (truly!) so one, just for me.

It was lovely sitting outside, reading the Saturday paper and having what these days is referred to by some as “down time”, which I think another silly expression such as “quality time” (there are other silly expressions which are totally meaningless, but right now they have escaped my elderly brain!  Ah yes, another is things which are now “curated” when that simply means they are simply chosen or sorted satisfactorily.   And everything has to have a “hub” these days, not just car wheels!  I wonder if you know of any other meaningless expressions to add to these?  Always on programmes such as Escape to the Country and Location, Location, Location, couples are always seeking an escape from the rush and bustle of today to spend “quality time” either together or with their children.  What’s wrong with just “time”?  What happens in the “quality” part of this phrase, I wonder?

I also spent  time reading some of the book reviews and I noticed a new book by Gillian Tindall, some of whose previous books I have enjoyed.

She has written a book (The Tunnel Through Time)  about the machines which have bored under London to aid the construction of Crossrail, and although I do not know London (not having been there more than half a dozen times in my life) I am always interested in great feats of civil engineering, and this must rank with the most ambitious of those. Perhaps one for my book List?

Post today was rather nice.  I had ordered some beauty products and they arrived.  I don’t splash out on expensive products because much of the expense is in the pretty packaging and the very expensive advertising campaigns and while I am a sucker for pretty packaging as much as the next woman, I don’t like parting with mega bucks to gain the same result from a less-expensive product. I learned my lesson with a Chanel lipstick and a bottle of Dior nail polish, neither of which came up to expectations.  No, I stick with products which are reasonably priced and work for me and look sufficiently smart enough to have on the shelf in the bathroom.  Such as the Boots No 7 range.  I return to this again and again, plus L’Oréal face cream, and Sally Hansen nail polish.

One new product I am trying out is the eyebrow pencil (Brow Artist Xpert) which is also by L’Oréal.  I used this for the first time this morning and already it has proved better than the Yves Rocher eye pencil I bought some time ago, and at a fraction the price of the Yves Rocher product.

L’Oréal Age Perfect, Golden Age (which, it says on the box – not exactly reassuringly – “For Very Mature Skin!”  They mean we ancients!); Boots No 7 Stay Perfect foundation, and the L’Oréal Brow Artist Xpert pencil.  Actually, I made a silly mistake and ordered this particular foundation rather than No 7 Lift and Luminate foundation (where do they get these names?) which I usually use, but no matter. It’s the shade I use, and the difference is hardly discernible.

Two Sally Hansen ‘Complete Salon Manicure’ nail polishes also arrived, on the left Aria Red-y, and on the right, Enchante, my two favourite colours at the moment. I don’t care for blue, green, purple or black nails (Barry, our younger son’s dog, has black claws. They look nice on him, but I wouldn’t want them.)

Husband returned home and we had lunch in the garden …

Just a light lunch, mini baguettes, Normandy butter, Badoit water, salami, ham, beetroot salad, tomatoes, strawberries, a few crisps, and half a mini pork pie each.  Not the healthiest of things, pork pies, but when they are mini ones and we only half each, not too wicked, I trust?

Yesterday, this lovely book arrived in the post.  It had been mentioned on another blog I enjoy reading, so how could I resist this facsimile edition of a illustrated journal of Victorian gentleman’s journey on the Norfolk Broads with three friends?

This afternoon I shall spend time in the garden (there might be a little work done, I mightn’t be totally lazy!) with this book, a cup of tea, and also the book I am currently reading and very much enjoying …

I bought this book about three months ago when I was researching the subject of butterflies (even though this is a work of fiction by Fiona Mountain, it is based on fact) but I would say that the book is better than the rather bodice-ripper cover might indicate.  Do not be put off by this rather modern-looking woman on the cover, as if dressed for a New Year’s Eve fancy dress party.  And with the book, along with a cup of tea, I might just indulge myself a little further  …

I don’t often fancy a particular kind of chocolate bar, but this week I suddenly thought I’d like one of my old favourite from the 1950s, when I lived with my parents in their newsagents’ shop (and which I’ve recently posted about) and surprisingly, the taste of this chocolate bar – for I had one a few weeks ago – is much the same as it was then.  Which is something I can’t say of many things from those dim and distant days!

Whatever you are doing this weekend, I hope you have a most enjoyable one.  And aren’t caught in any traffic jams!

Until next time.


About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. I think you are so lucky to live near the sea, can swim or beachcomb any day you like. For children in high rise or on huge inner city estates, this BH will be the last opportunity to escape such environments until half term or even the winter festival. For the working masses it is the last break until the winter festival. It is long dark nights from end of Ict. onwards, please try and put yourself in the shoes of those who live in less fortunate circumstances. Thankyou, and blessings upon you. Anna.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I do appreciate where we live, Anna, and thank you for expressing another point of view. I do feel for those in high rise or inner city estates, but what I dislike is the rush and bustle of the Bank Holiday. I certainly wouldn’t wish children in such places to be deprived, though, of a trip to the seaside, and I hope that many will get that today, and really enjoy it. But I also hope they won’t be in a hot car in a long tail back and needing the loo. I came from the industrial north of England and in those days – the 1950s – whole towns closed down for Wakes Weeks when the whole community upped sticks and went on holiday for two weeks, or stayed at home if they couldn’t afford to go away. What I would say is, wouldn’t it be a bit better if instead of compulsory Bank Holidays on the calendar, we were given those days as part of our annual leave, to use whenever we wanted to and help prevent the chaos on the roads and rail? Just a thought.

  2. I doubt that we will be going too far this weekend Margaret, suspect most of it will be spent in the garden, making the most of the warm August sunshine and lapping up that Vit D.
    We may venture out on Monday, there is a countryside fair on in a nearby village and it’s always interesting to watch the various demonstrations that take place together with the horse and dog classes.
    The chocolate bar looks very appealing, I seem to remember that Frys did a fruit version years ago with each rectangle being a different flavour?

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, a countryside fair in a nearby village sounds the ideal Bank Holiday bit of fun, Elaine! I’m with you there! Not far to travel and yet a celebration of local village life.
      Yes, Frys did make a fruit version, a different taste in each ‘section’ of the bar, but they weren’t very nice – well, not in my opinion. I used like Frys Five Boys chocolate bars, too. Does anyone remember those? They had five photos of little boys on the front, from crying to smiling, the smiling one obviously having had a bar of the said chocolate! One of my favourites was a Tiffin bar (not sure who made those, perhaps Nestle) and it had bits of biscuits in it as well as fruit. I wonder what other readers enjoyed as children?

      • We plan to take our little spaniel to the fair as she enjoys watching the agility classes and might even have a shot at the dog with the waggiest tail! Our elderly Labrador can stay at home, she dislikes busy places nowadays and gets really quite distressed so will be far happier snoozing in her basket.
        I was born in the sixties so childhood sweets to me mean blackjacks, fruit salads and sherbet pips ☺️ The only chocolate we had was our eggs at Easter and Quality Street at Christmas, it certainly wasn’t an every day treat at all.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          Oh, she sounds adorable, Elaine! I do hope she is entered for the waggiest tail contest!
          Oh, yes blackjacks! I remember we sold them in the shop, but I never liked them. I remember, too, the boxes of confectionary such as Meltis Newberry Fruits and Meltis Savoy (they were like petits fours). And Callard & Bowser Butterscotch, which came wrapped in silver paper in a white sort of envelope wrapper, with the Callard & Bowder name and logo on the front. And Rowntree’s Black Magic chocolates, and Terry’s All Gold, too. But as you say, chocolate wasn’t an every-day treat. Even in our shop, I wasn’t permitted to help myself. What I also loved were sticks of barley sugar, those long sticks that were twisted sugar cane. And aniseed balls! And Zubes, which were cough sweets, but I liked them anyway! They came in a little round tin and were sugar coated, small wonder a child would like them!

          • Funnily enough I never liked Barley Sugar at all but suspect that’s because my Mum used to give me one during a car journey in the vain hope of stopping me being sick!
            Aniseed twists or cough candy as we called it used to be a favourite, as were rainbow crystals, chewing nuts and midget gems. It’s a wonder my teeth survived!

          • Margaret Powling
            Margaret Powling

            Yes, that what was given to children to stop them being car-sick: barley sugar. I liked cough candy, too. Oh, such memories of the sweets we sold in the shop. I loved lemonade powder, too, which was poured into little paper bags and you could stick your finger in to lick the lemonade powder. I don’t remember rainbow crystals, or chewing nuts, I think midget gems were little hard gums in jewel-like colours, weren’t they?

  3. Gosh Margaret, you sure “do” things nicely. Your meals in the garden are laid out so well. I’m afraid I don’t take such trouble, but always admire and appreciate those who do. I’m with you on the things people sometimes say. Wish I could think of an example to add to yours, but I’m sitting here a “blank slate”!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I love to lay the table in the garden. I don’t do it to ‘show off’, I just like the table laid with a cloth (all of them are ancient, I might add – I bought this on years ago in Totnes market).
      Words and phrases have a habit of suddenly being in vogue, don’t they, such as those I mentioned – “down time” and “quality time”. Before long they will disappear again, I’m sure, and something new will have taken their place. By the time I’ve noticed them, though, they’ll already be “past their sell-by date”! “Hygge” was last years very much over-used word, surely? I even used it on a post myself (shame on me!)

  4. Words! There are couple that come to mind,”gutted” why can’t people say disappointed! And genre what’s that all about?! Should it not be type? Sweets,my favourite from my childhood was “flying saucers” you can still buy them today but the rice paper and sherbet doesn’t taste the same! Enjoy the rest of this beautiful weather.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I’m afraid I can’t recall flying saucer sweets, but they sound fun, Margaret! Yes, “gutted” is another term that we could do without! Fish are gutted, not people, ha ha!
      Oh, one of the worst is the response to “How are you?” which currently is “I’m good!” No you are not “good”, you are well!

  5. Fry’s Chocolate Cream enjoyed here yesterday.
    It tasted all the sweeter as my Granddaughter bought it for me.
    I have been struggling to find any decent books lately..
    However, your blog is always a delight to read.
    The effort you put into your posts is appreciated.
    Thank You!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you so much, Virginia, and I’m delighted you enjoy reading my posts and that you also appreciate the effort involved (which is rewarded by readers’ enjoyment of the posts.) So glad you enjoyed a Fry’s Chocolate Cream, too, yesterday. It’s an inexpensive little luxury and the dark chocolate compliments the cream filling, I think.
      Books are very subjective, but I think another book post might be the order of the day shortly, but sometimes it really is hard finding a book to suit the mood, isn’t it? I am enjoying the book I mentioned in yesterday’s post (The Last Bank Holiday …) as it’s based on fact. However, I’ve only read the first 30 or so pages and it’s a long novel, ore than 500 pages, so only time will tell whether I make it to the end.

  6. I remember Fry’s Chocolate Cream being my sister’s favourite chocolate bar, it’s years since I’ve had one. The weather’s decent here for a change, many’s the bank holiday that it’s been pouring down. We haven’t got any plans but I’m sure we’ll venture out somewhere.

    • Margaret Powling

      It’s funny, Jo, but when we think of something from the past that we once enjoyed, we want to sample it again, hence my buying a Fry’s chocolate cream (and I enjoyed it!)
      We are enjoying a sunny, warm day here in Torbay but are not venturing out and about, just sitting in the garden for the moment (I’ve just popped inside to make elevenses – coffee and a mini baguette each with marmalade, lovely! I’ve a chicken roasting for lunch) and a bit of weeding later on. It is nice to go out at a Bank Holiday when you work for the rest of the week (I mean go out to work, i.e. are not retired as we are) but perhaps places close to home so you don’t end up in a long tail back on the roads.

  7. It’s a lovely weekend here too but we’ve only had a walk to the park, which was very pleasant and I got to talk to lots of dogs which is the main reason I go.

    I remember liking the different bars of chocolate mentioned and also Old English Spangles sweets. I like Caramac too and still do but I can only eat a little bit because it’s much sweeter than I remember. It’s not normal for me to only eat a little bit of any chocolate even if I don’t like it much. I’m not a big fan of plain chocolate and my favourite is Cadburys Dairy Milk. I’m not very sophisticated 😉 I try not to buy any because I have no self control and can’t eat just a little bit. My husband has a square a day. I think he must be an alien!

    I wonder if our parents and grandparents rolled their eyes about the language we used – I expect they did – but maybe we didn’t change things as much as nowadays because we didn’t have as much exposure to American television and films.

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, yes, I’d forgotten Old English Spangles (black and white wrapper, I think?) Indeed, I liked all the Spangles, and also Refreshers, which fizzed a little in the mouth. I wasn’t so keen on Caramac as it was very sweet, but I liked Lion bars with the biscuit bits in them (I’ve mentioned Tiffin, which I loved.) I similarly have little self-control over chocolate but we buy dark chocolate – Waitrose’s own dark chocolate with hazelnuts – and just four small squares of that will satisfy our chocolate cravings! Yes, my husband has much more self-control regarding chocolate. I do think chocolate is a woman-thing. Maybe it tastes different to men?
      Language changes all the time, I quite like that, but it’s meaningless statements I dislike such as “down time” and “quality time” to spend with children or husband/partner. It just means time in which to relax, I think, or time with children or husband/partner.
      The walk in the park sounded nice, especially talking to dogs. I wonder what they said? “Nice day today!”
      “Like yer coat, lady!” “What’re you having for dinner?”
      I tell you, I’m losing the plot!

      • I think they said “watch out, here comes that crazy dog lady again” 😉 They don’t seem to mind though.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          I have a tendency to talk to cats and dogs, too! I thought this was quite normal! Indeed, I use the same tone of voice when talking to (a) husband (b) sons (c) grandson (d) Barry-the-dog. Husband never knows, if Barry is here, whether I’m addressing him or the dog!

    • Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

      Haha, I like the reasoning behind your husband being an alien, Alison. I have one of those husbands too. How DO they do it?

  8. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Hello Margaret, what a lovely weekend it has been, your lunch in the garden looks wonderful, you have a lovely tasty look lunch there, just the sort of thing we do regularly. I have a few of the sally hansen nail polishes infact I used one today, I have quite a few nail polishes, I don’t like cheap ones which chip off in no time.
    You have one of my favourite chocolate bars there Margaret, I love them and the one in the green wrapper as well, years ago there was also a five centres one, do you remember that one? I really wish they would relaunch those, they were scrummy.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Marlene, and yes, it was a nice simple lunch. Today’s involved a little bit more effort, but I might post about that.
      I’m surprised how many comments have come in regarding the Fry’s Chocolate Cream, it seems like it is universally liked! And, strangely enough, it still tastes much the same as it did in the 1950s. Yes, I remember the five fruit centres but I wasn’t keen on those, only the chocolate cream.
      No, I’ve tried cheap nail polishes and they are a total waste of time, but the Dior one wasn’t all that good (or perhaps I didn’t apply it properly.) I have been using a clear nail polish as a base coat until now, but I’ve bought a proper base/top coat, and have used that and will see how long my newly-applied polish (done this afternoon) lasts before it’s chipped. I don’t like chipped nail polish but sometimes it’s inevitable and we’ve not the time to remove it or touch up the chips with some fresh polish. I have just counted my nail polishes (many are the same colour, bought by mistake – shows how I tend to go for the same colours!) and there are 22 currently in the fridge (the best place to keep them!) Now I’ve added three more, a base/top coat and two more Sally Hansen colours. I’m sure some of them are years old and possibly very sticky now.

  9. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    I confess I think I must have around the same amount as you.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      And I’ve bought more than these and got rid of the colours I don’t like! Very pale colours just don’t suit my elderly paws!

  10. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    My dad loved Fry’s mint cream. It’s the only chocolate I remember seeing him eat. I like the peppermint one better and I also thought the fruit one very nice.

    What a pretty book the Broads one is. I love the painted effect of the illustrations.
    My bank holiday weekend began on Friday when I cooked lunch for four girlfriends. On Saturday I took my granddaughters school-shoe shopping. Sunday was a mostly rest day but we did visit a country park for an hour or so, then Monday has been a ‘stay at home and write’ day. We tend not to venture out on bank holidays but we did often do so when we were both working full time. I think people tend to do this because to get a week away, it is only necessary to take four days annual leave instead of five and annual leave is very precious!

    I am a long time user of OPI nail polishes. I find that they last up to ten days so long as I used a base coat, two coats of polish and a top coat of Orly dry n sec (a product which penetrates the layers and bonds them). Even cheap polish will last well if this is used on top but many cheaper ones contain substances which are banned in some countries so I tend to leave them alone. We are not very good in the UK at banning suspect additives in cosmetics.

    My most disliked ‘trendy saying is: “the bottom line is….” ,

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I find it such fun … I can write a whole post and “the bottom line” (ha ha!) is a little piece on Fry’s Chocolate Cream bars and that resonates with so many readers! Just one little chocolate bar! I’ve seen the peppermint one, I must try that.
      I love the little book on the Broads – there is a companion volume (which I’ve not bought … yet!) called Camping on the Wye (for readers who aren’t in the UK, the Wye is a river in southern England, between England and Wales).
      Yes, I should imagine that going out on a Bank Holiday when working is perhaps ore enjoyable than when retired; the need to ‘get away’ is all the greater, but we have always hated all the traffic, so have tended to remain at home.
      I, too, have used OPI nail polish and found them excellent. That is what I did yesterday: a base coat, two coats of polish and then a top coat … we will see how long it lasts! I don’t know Orly dry in sec, might Google that!
      Oh yes, “The bottom line” (which is what this is!) is another minor linguistic irritation!

      • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

        My mistake – now that I have the bottle in front of me, I see that it is called Orly Sec ‘n’ dry. There’s another irritation – what is wrong with using ‘and’ or ampersand?

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          I Googled it and found it, Eloise. Looks like it might be some good stuff to use. I’ve put it on my Wish List for when I next have a little splurge on Amazon. Yes, “and” or an ampersand would be much better.

  11. I think for me the most important part of Bank Holiday is the getting together of family . Whether in a city high rise , by the seaside or a suburban semi . Most people having the same day off and able to get together ,an extra day apart from the weekend when most working families are catching up. On Friday we spent a lovely evening in Sidmouth Devon UK ,watching the Red Arrows R A F display team perform over a blue sea with a clear blue sky . Many other extended families and groups of friends having a picnic , grandmas on folding chairs , young ones sitting on rugs on the headland . Yes I expect many had journeys to get there , but so worth the effort to share a happy time .Tonight a BBQ at our home 12 of us , food cooked by sons and son in law , preparation shared by the girls , grand children and dogs playing and having fun with garden games .Hearing other families and friends enjoying time together .The effort made by everyone to enjoy that precious extra day in busy lives . If in a high rise or a semidetached or by the sea .Happy memories through the Winter short days until the next festival Christmas .

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, that’s a lovely way to spend a Bank Holiday, Jo, especially if the family haven’t had far to travel to be together. The air display sounded lovely! And being with family is important. We are both fortunate that our families live close by and are in regular contact with them. A barbecue such as you are having is a lovely, happy bonus.

  12. I dislike the word ‘awesome’ being used to describe almost everything. Another Americanism having made its way into the Australian vernacular.

    I enjoyed reading the many comments – and your responses – regarding chocolates and lollies. I didn’t recognise any of the names. I had a friend many years ago who came from New Zealand and whenever members of her family came to visit their suitcases would be half-filled with NZ chocolates and lollies. Always a treat as they looked and tasted quite different to our Australian goodies.

    I agree that your tables are always beautifully laid and a delight to look at 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I have always – now, I realize quite wrongly – that New Zealand and Australian goods, such as sweets and chocolate, would be much the same. Here, far away in the Northern hemisphere, the two countries, as they are Commonwealth countries (formerly British Empire) the two have tended to be spoken about in the same breath, but as you are demonstrating here, they clearly are different in their cultures. As well as English-made chocolate in the UK we also have Belgian and Swiss chocolate, such as Lindt, one of my favourite chocolate producers.
      Thank you for your kind comment regarding how I lay our table – Our garden table needs painting so without a cloth it looks really tatty. But then, why worry? It’s a garden table, it’s bound to get weathered!

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