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A Mini Heat Wave


What a gloriously sunny late Bank Holiday it has been. As I write this, on Monday evening, about 6.45 pm, it is too hot to sit in the garden as the sun is now low in the sky and even the canopy of leaves from our walnut tree isn’t providing the necessary shade.

I decamped to the summerhouse and while that was pleasantly cool, I also wanted to write today’s post, so here I am in the study with the patio door open.

Yeterday morning I sat in the garden and read the morning paper and the magazine (photo above) which comes with the Sunday edition. It’s mainly fashion and beauty, but when the writers (occasionally) speak of fashions and beauty for the more mature woman, they mean someone about fifty or, pushing it, about sixty.  I am therefore off the radar, but I still enjoy reading this magazine and I  never fail to be amazed at what I think are rather silly prices for things like candles and sunglasses.

It has been too hot to work in the garden although husband did some gardening on Saturday and yesterday, but only before about 11 am and after about 6 pm.  Today we have taken life very easy.  Porridge for  breakfast yesterday and today, and then we sat in the garden.

Morning coffee, today

We have also eaten in the garden during the weekend, yesterday lunch was roast chicken, but I didn’t want to serve what I call a ‘winter’ roast but I something much lighter …

Therefore I roasted the chicken and allowed it to cool very slightly, and served it on a bed of shredded Savoy cabbage which I’d steamed (so much better to steam veg than to boil the life out of them!) and over which, when cooked, I grated nutmeg, sprinkled on some crystals of sea salt, and mixed in a little low fat cream.  This is the nicest way I can think of for serving cabbage.  I piled that in the centre of the plate and put slices of chicken on top, and on top of the chicken a quenelle of stuffing.

Well, I attempted to make quenelles, but stuffing is sticky and it didn’t really work.  But we can but try!  I was going to slice the new potatoes and sprinkle them with black pepper, but I didn’t want the food to get cold, so they look a little lumpen, even though they are quite small.  I made gravy as husband always like some gravy with potatoes and his veg, and I made leek cheese, as we like leeks in a cheese sauce to have not only as a main dish (to which I usually add pasta) but also as an accompaniment to a roast.  (I made two cheese leeks and we had the 2nd one today, more of which later.)

When he first retired, way back in 1998, husband took up painting in watercolours.  He had never painted before; he had no idea about mixing colours, but within a short time he became reasonably accomplished. He admits he doesn’t have imagination and so he copied paintings from books, such as the bird paintings of Basil Ede, and some of those we had framed and they hang in our summer house.

But for the past 15 years he’s not painted.  He has kept saying, “One of these days I will start painting again …” and yesterday out came not the paints, but his drawing books and coloured pencils.  Well, it’s a start!  He spends so much time helping other people, especially our sons and his older brother (who has eyesight problems) but I have said that he really must set aside some time for himself.  And no, I’m not going to refer to this as “me” time for him!  It was lovely to see him sketching again, not working, not gardening, not running errands for others, but doing something at long last for himself.

Lunch today was grilled bacon, the 2nd leek cheese (from yesterday) and some lovely fresh runner beans from my brother-in-law’s garden.  This was a lovely light lunch, and pudding was an apple and blackberry crumble. I made these in individual ramekins and served them with vanilla ice.

The only problem is removing a crumble from a ramekin without the crumble ending in the bottom of the dish.  Crumbles can be served in the ramekin but there wouldn’t have been room for the ice!  (And to drink:  Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer.  We don’t like this because it contains alcohol, we like it because it’s a delicious ginger beer.)

It seems that this post will be 99% concerned with food, because, finally, elder son and grandson called this afternoon for a cup of tea (daughter-in-law stayed at home to get on with some chores while the chaps were out of the house – can’t say I blamed her!)  Grandson and his mummy had made cup cakes and Grandson brought one each for Granddad and Granny, and they were lovely – lime and coconut!  We had them with a cup of tea about 4 pm. What could be nicer than these in the garden on a sunny late-summer’s afternoon with a cup of tea? The lime was just sharp enough to cut through the sweetness of the icing, they were absolutely scrumptious.

I hope your weekend has been as relaxing as ours has been.  We really have had a mini heat wave and, from what I can understand from the Forecast, this fine weather is set to continue. We shall see.

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. sounds idyllic! I have another question: what is a Bank holiday? and the purpose?

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, it’s been a very pleasant weekend, Ratnamurti, with soaring temperatures – about 28C in parts of the UK.

      Bank holidays are public holidays. It is often assumed they are thus called because they are days when banks are shut, but days that banks are shut aren’t always bank holidays, just to confuse matters! For example, Good Friday and Christmas Day are not bank holidays, they are common law’ holidays, but the banks are closed nonetheless. In England and Wales a bank holiday tends automatically to be a public holiday, so the day is generally observed as a holiday.

      So how did all this begin? Well, in 1871, the Bank Holidays Act was introduced, i.e. the concept of holidays with pay and four holidays in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and five in Scotland were designated as Bank Holidays. Some have been changed since then and now the Bank Holidays in England apart from Christmas and Easter (such as Easter Monday) are: the first Monday in May (May Day), the last Monday in May (the late Spring Bank Holiday) and the last Monday in August (the late Summer Bank Holiday, which is today.) There are no more public holidays now until Christmas, and New Year’s Day is also a Bank Holiday.

      Once upon a time everything shut on a bank holiday; offices, banks, shops, but nowadays many offices and shops remain open, only banks are not allowed to operate on bank holidays. Nowadays, the only day that most things close in the UK is Christmas Day.

      I’ll bet you wish you’d never asked, ha ha!

      • that’s interesting. Would you believe that in New Zealand we have a Queen’s birthday public holiday each year in June? Even though it’s not her actual birthday. Our employment ‘rules’ were changed a while ago so that people were only being paid casually. That is, for the actual hours worked and it wasn’t always guaranteed work. So public holidays were not being paid for, but previously they were. Luckily this is slowly changing as that sort of employment was a horror story for many families. I cannot understand why people take to the roads during public holidays either. Madness.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          It is odd that the Queen’s birthday hasn’t been designated a Bank Holiday in this country, but it is always celebrated on a Saturday and there is her birthday parade, otherwise known as the ceremony of Trooping the Colour which is staged on Horse Guards Parade in London, quite a spectacle with, best of all for me, the wonderful music of the massed bands. I don’t much about employment rules in the UK these days, but those who have to work on Bank Holidays usually receive more pay for their work that day, or instead have time off in lieu.

          • Trooping The Colour sounds so fantastic!! I have been corrected regarding employment, my nurse daughter says she gets paid a lot of money to work public holidays. So obviously some here are ok regarding holidays.

          • Margaret Powling

            Yes, most people here although no means all, are paid time and a half or double time for working on public holidays. Trooping the Colour is a wonderful ceremony – I watch it on TV and I posted about it in June.

    • Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

      I am interested to know in which country you live, Ratnamurti. I expect you have told Margaret at some point but I must have missed it. It must be interesting for you to read Margaret’s blog which so beautifully describes the nicest aspects of English life.

      • Margaret Powling
        Margaret Powling

        Ratnamurti has explained, in her recent comment, that she is in Australia, so climate and customs quite different from here in the UK. It’s lovely to have these conversations with blog friends all around the world, it still never fails to amaze me that this is now possible! Thank you for saying I beautifully describe the nicest aspects of English life, that is such a lovely compliment, Eloise.

      • Ummm…. I’m from New Zealand. I live in Auckland, our largest city, the City of Sails due to so many people owning sailing craft. And I live in West Auckland, which has a lot of bush, and ranges (so, lots of rain) plus amazing beaches with wild surf on one side, and gentle harbour beaches on the other. And yes, Eloise, it does totally fascinate me to read these aspects of English life. New Zealand is so different, more casual, quite sporty, and our history is quite different too. I love connecting with interesting people via these blogs

        • Margaret Powling

          Thank you for giving this short explanation of where you live to Eloise, which I’m sure we have all enjoyed reading. I had no idea that Auckland was called City of Sails, what a marvellous title! By “ranges” might I presume you mean mountain ranges? In this country I was always taught at school, and so was my husband (almost ten years my senior), that New Zealand, of all the countries in the world, was the most like the UK. From what you have said, I don’t think we were given a very accurate picture, for NZ sounds very different indeed from the UK. Perhaps I’ve given an incorrect picture of this country being more ‘formal’ than NZ, but no, I think we have become far more casual in this country in the last half century, and a lot of people now participate in sporting activities, such as cricket, football and rugby for women now, far more than when I was a girl (indeed although women have been playing football since the early part of the 20th century, I hadn’t heard of this until recent years.) Indeed, our women’s teams have recently done rather well in these sports.

          • Mountains are mountains here, a mount is a big hill, not as high a s a mountain, but high-ish, usually with a dead volcano in it, and Auckland has a lot of these. Ranges can be mountain ranges, or they can be large, high hills forming a group of joining hills, creating something like a mountain range. The one near where I live goes up rather high with lots of bush, and bird life, lots of designated ‘walks’. Very beautiful.

            New Zealand has changed a lot since I was a child, and in those days, many areas of this country would have had many ‘British’ ways. It was said, in those days, that we were 50 years behind the rest of the First World, in fact we were top of the Third World! But these days we are more modern. We are more formal and introverted than Australians. These days, Auckland has become the Polynesian capital of the world, and we have moved into being more a country of the world, with a very international population, so things have changed.

          • Margaret Powling

            Thanks for explaining about mountains and mounts, yes we sometimes use the term ‘mount’, meaning a steep hill, but not all that often, Ratnamurti. New Zealand sounds so beautiful to me, quite different from England, but beautiful in a different way. But of course, you have earthquakes, something we rarely experience here, although they have been known to happen, but just a gentle shake, nothing like the devastating ones that NZ can sometimes suffer. There is nothing wrong with being 50 years behind, I don’t think! I was 20 fifty years ago and life was very pleasant then! Perhaps NZ has embraced her wider international population now more than we have here, but while we don’t want many thousands coming each year, it is mainly because of quantity rather than not wishing other cultures to come here. We have such a large population, close on 66 million now, the infrastructure just isn’t there for many more arriving each year.

          • Yes, Margaret, times have so changed, in most countries. My childhood that I was refering to, was the 1950s and 1960s.

          • Margaret Powling

            Yes, my childhood was in the 1950s, too, but I was married by 1964. The 1960s weren’t quite as ‘swinging’ as some now think. It wasn’t all Beatles and mini skirts!

  2. Your husband’s sketching looks very relaxing. I have recently joined art classes. I found it very intimidating at first as everyone else in the room has had formal training – and I later found out that two of them have had exhibitions – but was determined to try something totally different and also not be put off by my lack of abilities. I now enjoy the classes immensely and have moments where I become engrossed in what I’m doing. I’m proud of myself for persisting.

    Your meals look lovely. I always get hungry reading your posts ! I will now push cat and iPad to one side so I can go make myself a cup of tea … and look for a little something to go with it ….. it is afternoon tea time, after all 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, you should be proud of yourself for persisting and continuing to attend your art classes. What do you like to draw or paint? Husband loves painting birds and butterflies, even though he copies the paintings of others, but if he enjoys it, it doesn’t matter.
      You will have had our afternoon tea by now, we’re just in the process of getting up on Tuesday morning. It’s still a lovely day. Husband is going to continue to do work on a 2nd hand wrought iron gate our younger son bought for their property and which needs a lot of renovation (the gate, I mean) and I will tackle the mountain of ironing that, during this warm weather, I have allowed to pile up. It’s a very neat pile, but ironing nonetheless and needs attention.

  3. Gosh we are being spoilt with the weather at the moment, wall to wall sunshine for the last couple of days and today is set to be the same. Your garden meals look super and perfect for the warm temperatures.
    We did venture out to the countryside fair yesterday but it was blistering hot with very little shade so only stayed for an hour or so, we did take Tilly the spaniel and she thoroughly enjoyed meeting lots of other dogs. We remembered her “pocket puddle” and a bottle of water so she could have a drink but we’re pleased to see that many of the stallholders were thoughtful enough to put out bowls of water. We stayed just long enough to see the heavy horses working and then came home.
    This morning we were up and out by 8am, we wanted to try breakfast at the newly restored Palace House stables in Newmarket, we sat in the sunny courtyard and enjoyed Eggs Royale on toasted English muffins, have to say they were pretty much perfect!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I love a country fair but yes, the temperatures were a little too hot for such a thing yesterday and in a place with little shade. Much like when we attended the country fair of our little grandson’s new school (he starts school next week, he was only four last May) and that was also on a very hot day. Is a pocket puddle a collapsible bowl for your dog’s water? It would’ve been hot for the heavy horses, too, but very thoughtful of the stallholders to put out bowls of water for dogs.
      Oh, how lovely to go stables in Newmarket, the home of racing! What a wonderful way to start the day, or the week, or the years … Eggs Royale in such a wonderful and historic setting! Most envious!

      • Yes, exactly that Margaret, it folds up small and neat into a little bag so it fits nicely in my handbag but that, with a small bottle of water, means we can let the dogs have a drink wherever we go.
        Yes too hit for the horses but did also feel for some of the competitors as well done up in their tweed riding jackets etc, phew!
        How exciting for your grandson starting school next week but daunting as well for his parents with their baby off to school.

        • Margaret Powling

          There are some wonderful little helpful gadgets on the market these days, aren’t they, such as the folding dog bowl. My husband likes the light pens – he has one by the bed so that if he drops something on the floor he can search for it more easily (i.e. a pill that has fallen under the bed!) I have a little LED light which is in the airing cupboard – imagine, a light not connected to mains electricity – wonderful!
          Our little grandson is really looking forward to starting school and he’s really ready for it. But he’s been to Nursery since he was a year old and he’s mixed with lots of children, so I don’t think will be daunted by it. He is an only child (and will remain so) but he mixes with others well, and the school has been wonderful – having the little ones in for story time at the end of the summer term, and then a Teddy Bears’ Picnic for the little ones and their parents so that they will recognise some of the faces when they start next week, and also some of the Mums organized a little get together last week, so he’ll certainly know some of the children when he starts. The teachers have also visited him at home (this is usual these days, I understand) and also he was given a leaflet all about the school so that he knows where he will have his lunch, where the loos are, where he will go to meet his parents at the end of the day, etc. And also worksheets so help his reading and writing even before he starts school. All so much better than when I started school or even when our sons started school!

  4. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Your bank holiday at home sounds lovely, Margaret. I am always touched by how clearly you delight in family and hope and the simple joys of the day to day.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Of course, this kind of leisurely Bank Holiday is only possible now since we are retired and have grown up children. When they were young and husband was working and I worked part time, like so many we tried to make the most of the extra day’s holiday and would usually pack up a picnic and head off somewhere in the car, but usually where we hoped it wouldn’t be crowded. Now we much prefer to remain at home, not a bad idea if the weather is wet, and even better when it’s fine and sunny and we can be in the garden.

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