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We are in a state of transition between late summer and early autumn, when mornings and evenings are darker and chillier, but days are still quite mild, especially when the sun shines.  The fruit bowl still has some nectarines and grapes, but citrus fruits and apples are making an appearance again, and ice cold G&Ts are giving way to port or ginger wine.  We are not what you’d call ‘drinkers’ as neither husband nor I care much for wine, apart from a Muscat wine over ice as an aperitif, and even our bottle of gin, still more than half full, has been in the fridge for many months.  But these fruits and drinks sort-of illustrate this transition period, when the light throw over a thin sheet is replaced by a duvet on the bed;  when a cotton throw on the sofa is replaced by a woollen one; when we prefer a cup of Ovaltine before bed rather than a cup of tea –  just slight changes marking the changing of the season.

The next job, but not an onerous one, will be chossing the bulbs for spring.  Oh dear, decisions, decisions …

I have bought tulip bulbs from Sarah Raven for a number of years and they have always been beautiful.  The actual bulbs might be the same as in any bulb catalogue, I really have no idea if they are different, but what is different is that Sarah puts many of her bulbs together in collections, colours and styles which look good together, although there are single variety packs, too. 

Even the monthly magazines are adopting autumn colours and this month’s issue of Homes & Antiques is no exception; and in a morning, the bright blue of summer is giving way to a lighter, hazier sunrise over the sea (which we can now see, our neighbour having had his high hedge cut.)

I apologise for the slightly grubby look to this photo above, but it was taken through a rain-spattered window.  That black blob in the centre was a bird flying past.

Yesterday, we had a few errands to do … a trip to the local tip, aka recycling centre,  to take garden waste, after which a brief visit to the accountant, then to the bank, then to the supermarket and, finally, to my favourite charity shop which supports the local hospice so that I could give them the books I weeded out last week.

As I’ve shown before, this Boutique (for it’s a very up-market charity shop!) always has well-decorated windows.   This week, as it has been the Agatha Christie Festival in Torquay,  one window has been decorated in 1920s style, and to great effect.  Don’t you just love this blue, embroidered,  1920s evening dress?

It is impossible for me to get better photos as there is so much reflection in the window glass from passers by and parked cars.  The whole window is  decorated in shades of blue and cream and looks lovely – champagne saucers, paperbacks of Agatha Christie novels, jewellery and feather boas complete the 1920s look.

The other window is currently decorated with Autumn in mind …

I love the little ‘dog’ as much as the lovely cream wool coat.

Returning home, I found that two parcels had arrived for me, but these were quite disappointing. The first was from Boots the Chemist. I had ordered some make-up products but it looked as if they had been in their warehouse for a very long time. The make-up palette was scratched and with a lot of grubby fingermarks on it; similarly, a lip precision pencil (for lip-lining, a means of reducing the feathering which comes with age) was also grubby, and although a new lipstick looked reasonably clean, I didn’t want it when it had been in the package with these two other grubby items.   The invoice also looked as if it had been on the floor and someone had stamped their size nines all over it.  And so the whole lot has been returned.  I’m not angry, such things are bound to happen on occasion, but where is quality control?  Surely whoever put these items into the padded bag must’ve know they weren’t in an acceptable condition?

Similarly, a paperback book arrived.  Admittedly, it was 2nd hand, but its condition had been described as Very Good.  I used to help out in an antiquarian/2nd hand bookshop, and had this been in the stock in that shop, the condition would’ve been considered Fair, perhaps Good at most.   The cover was creased (I expect a spine to be creased if a book has been read, but the cover doesn’t need to be badly creased as well, and not if described as Very Good), and several pages had curled up on the lower right hand side.  Had I paid 1p plus postage and packing, I’d not have minded, but the total cost with postage was closer to £10.  This book has also been returned.  I will say , though, that the seller was swift to acknowledge my complaint and has resolved the problem amicably.

But another parcel arrived later in the day, and oh, how delighted I was (and am!) …

It is difficult making a bottle of perfume look good against a plain background, and so I’ve placed it one of my favourite silk scarves, one which I think is suitable for the fragrance, if that makes sense?  I have never had L’Heure Bleue in an eau de parfum before, only eau de toilette, and the depth of fragrance is astonishing.  I love it!  It is in the same style bottle as that for Mitsouko, and on the Guerlain website it says of L’Herue Bleue:

L’Heure Bleue diffuses its atmosphere at the very moment when the sun disappears beneath the horizon and the sky is painted with night’s velvet.  Jacques Guerlain celebrates this fleeting moment with an armful of suave and delicate flowers enveloped in a breath of powder taking wing toward oriental notes. His fragrance, L’Heure Bleue, is an exquisite ode to the enjoyment of life and romanticism. It superbly expresses the moment when “the night has not yet found its star”.

Designed by Georges Chevalier, its bottle is underscored with graceful scrolls typical of Art Nouveau. Its avant-garde stopper, in the form of a hollowed heart, evokes the delicate romanticism of this perfumery masterpiece and represented a real technical feat at the time.

So now I have two of my favourite fragrances to take me through autumn and into winter, Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue.  Yes, it has been an  extravagance, but I have a favourite website from which I buy perfume and these two fragrances were at a much-reduced price (and they are the genuine article.)

And today’s post brought something rather lovely, too …

Tom Holt is the son of the late Hazel Holt, best known for her Mrs Mallory cozy crime novels.  Sadly, Hazel – with whom I corresponded for several years since I interviewed her in her Exmoor cottage she shared with her husband and their adorable Siamese cat, Flip – died almost two years ago, but I treasure the memory of that visit with my husband, and the many years’ friendship that we then shared following our visit, and the books of hers which I loved and which I reviewed for regional magazines.  Tom wrote this book in the 1980s but it has now been re-issued, and I love the 1920s’ style cover.  I think that the woman featured on the cover, no doubt Lucia, looks rather like Victoria Beckham!  Perhaps from the pose rather than her features?

These two photos might be entitled “Gladioli’s  last hurrah”, because soon these lovely late summer blooms will give way to chrysanthemums and asters.

And to end this post, the view of the road from Totnes to Paignton via Berry Pomeroy this morning (through the car windscreen) showing that the trees still have leaves but the season is changing …

I hope you will all have a lovely weekend.


Much later …

An amazing double rainbow this evening … how lovely when Nature springs such a lovely surprise such as this …

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. Beautiful gladioli Margaret, the year is certainly turning and despite the warmer sunshine this morning the rain soon blew in, luckily I was back from the yard by then ( not sure if have said that I have a horse? ) so spent the afternoon tucked up on the sofa reading. My current book is The Murder in the Vicarage so that ties in nicely with your pictures of the tribute to A Christie in the shop window.
    I’m pleased that the problem with your book purchase was quickly resolved and don’t blame you at all on returning those cosmetics, like you say where is the quality control!

    • Margaret Powling

      No, I didn’t know you had a horse, Elaine. That’s something I’ve never done: ride! You’re a long way up on a horse! Seriously, I expect he or she is lovely and you enjoy every moment spent with him/her.
      I must confess I’ve never read an Agatha Christie novel even though I have some on my bookshelves!

      • It’s something that I have done since I was a child so it’s very much part of my life Margaret, my current horse is a beautiful grey mare, almost white actually and a real sweetie 😄
        Must admit that this is the first Agatha Christie that I have read, picked it up as part of my winter reading list and have to say that I am really enjoying it, no forensics, no technology, just gentle sleuthing and intuition!

        • Margaret Powling

          Your mare sounds beautiful, Elaine. I hope you manage to ride her often.
          I might have Agatha Christie’s novel, Murder at the Vicarage on the bookshelf … I might try it.

  2. I believe L’heure bleue was Jean Rhys’ favourite perfume. There is a fascinating biography of her titled “The Blue Hour” by … Lilian Pizzichini (thank you Google!). I’m sure you’ve read “Wide Sargasso Sea”, the back story if you like to the mad woman in the attic from “Jane Eyre” and Charlotte Bronte’s imagination. Her other books are also well worth exploring. She died a sad and lonely death in a Devon village, but fortunately her writing lives on.

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, Sarah, I didn’t know that – tht L’heure Bleue was Jean Rhys’ favourite perfume. Yes, I’ve heard of the book, but not read it. I also didn’t know she had lived in a Devon village. There is also a novel called, if I remember, Blue Dusk by Susan Goodman, about a woman whose favourite perfume is L’heure Bleue.

  3. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Good afternoon Margaret, we are not big drinkers either, we will have a small tipple like a shot of raspberry vodka or something similar on a cold evening, I must get some ovaltine and some horlicks in.
    That blue dress is beautiful, I have always enjoyed seeing fashions through the ages, I love the art deco period.
    Another era I have always been interested is the Victorian era. Another new perfume, just remind me how many bottles do you have now? I love perfume today I have chosen a rose fragrance.
    I hope you found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, Ovaltine for Autumn, Marlene (we’re not keen on Horlicks, but are disappointed that Bournvita is no longer available in this country, so I buy that – only now and again as it’s expensive – online; I think it’s produced in India.) So that Ovaltine is more like Bournvita, we make it up with 1/2 Ovaltine and 1/2 drinking chocolate, and we use the lovely Twinings’ Swiss Milk Chocolate drinking chocolate.
      Yes, that blue 1920s’ dress (whether a true 1920s’ dress or a look-alike) is stunning, and like you, I love the fashions of the 1920s and 1930s. If you’ve not seen it, the 1980s’ two series of Mapp & Lucia had the most wonderful fashions, as well as being a wonderful couple of series from E F Benson’s books.
      I only started buying perfume again last year, soon after we decorated our bedroom and I had a little dressing chest. I always had one or two fragrances, but now I have rather more than one or two. I have some in the bathroom on the glass shelves, but most of my perfumes are currently in our bedroom. So far the tally is 14 plus the box of 8 phials from Miller Harris plus one little extra phial from Miller Harris which came separately. So, if you count all Miller Harris phials (9 of them in total) as one perfume, then there are 15 different perfumes. And I would still like to get Miss Dior and Chanel 19! Not smelt the latest, Gabrielle, but I expect it is like so many modern fragrances, smelling a bit like candy floss or bubble gum! But I am incorrigible where perfume (and books, and flowers, and magazines, and soaps!) is concerned! But it could be worse – I could have a drink or gambling or smoking habit, none of which I have thank goodness!
      I searched for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (well, two pots as there were two rainbows!) but it remains elusive!
      But I did have another £10 win on the Postcode Lottery, ha ha!

      • simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

        I regularly win £10 from the postcode lottery, the big ones coming hopefully.

        • Margaret Powling

          I have won three times, just £30 in over a year, but I don’t mind, the £10 each month goes to charity so it’s all in a good cause and with the hope of the Big One!

  4. Your photographs are beautiful Margaret and I so enjoyed your descriptions of the changing seasons and your daily life.
    Here in Dallas TX we still have high temperatures, around 90f in the daytime, but the nights are cool, 60f or so.

    Oh my how I would love to look around that charity shop, its looks as though they receive some very generous donations.
    I look forward to all your posts, thank you for writing them.
    Pam in TX.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Pam, over there in Texas, and thank you for your very kind comments regarding my photographs. Yes, that particular charity shop often has lovely things, perhaps because it is in one of the better-off areas of the Borough in which I live (Torbay is a very large area, taking in three towns, Torquay, Paignton and Brixham and many small villages as well). However, some things aren’t what they seem. I recall, a year or two ago admiring a beautiful handbag (actually on a shelf behind the counter) in shades of black, brown and green. It was really beautiful, but then I saw the price tag of £80. Now, that is serious money in any shop for me, let alone a charity shop. So I enquired about it and the assistant brought it down from the shelf and put it in front of me. So I asked why the large price tag and she said, “Look at the reverse of the price label …” and I did and found it was snakeskin. I couldn’t bear even to touch it after that. Now, that is silly, I know as we wear leather shoes and don’t have a problem with that – leather is from an animal, and snakes are animals, but we just don’t see products made of their skin quite as often, do we? Maybe it went to some wealthy person who didn’t mind carrying round the carapace of a dead python or whatever! But it certainly wasn’t for me, £80 or even £8!
      My goodness, you still have high temperatures. I have just put the central heating on, it’s almost 7.30 am on Sunday morning, just to warm the house and then it will go off once we are showered and dressed. It’s not cold yet, there’s just a slight drop in temperature overnight.
      So glad you enjoy my posts. I hope to post again soon, perhaps later today.

  5. Could you share the website from which you obtain your fragrances? I came by here late at night before heading to bed so that I would have sweet dreams!

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Joy. I don’t know whether this website/company mails to places other than the UK, but I use a website called Perfume Click as they sell both Hermes and Guerlain and Hermes fragrances, and many others. Another good company that I use is Escentual. I do hope this isn’t interpreted as advertising; I am mentioning these two companies simply because I have used them and found them to be reliable, and this is a personal viewpoint. Thank you for looking at my blog.

  6. I have a lovely bottle of L’Heure Bleue as well. One of my other favorites is White Shoulders–I feel like “wholesome glamour” every time I wear it–something that Doris Day’s characters in her romantic comedies would wear! I also like Coco Mademoiselle and Miss Dior, among “vintage” perfumes.

    My husband and I just finished watching the 1980s series of Mapp and Lucia starring Prunella Scales and Geraldine McEwan and really enjoyed it. I recognized Hazel Holt’s name from reading her biography of Barbara Pym. I hadn’t realized that she wrote mysteries. I will have to check those out.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Chrisie. Yes, Hazel Holt wrote most enjoyable cosy crime stories which are all set in and around the area of Exmoor in which Hazel lived. In homage to her friend, Barbara Pym, she referred to her local town of Minehead as Taviscombe (as Barbara had named the town thus in one of her own novels.) The stories are very easy reads, they feature Mrs Shelia Malory, a widow who is also an academic, her dog and cat, her home life and how she helps the local police solve murder mysteries. She could be considered a modern-day Miss Marple, I suppose. The books are deceptively easy but I know from my years of correspondence with Hazel how hard she worked on them so that would sound easy! What I would suggest is that you look up http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk and check out the list of books by Hazel and read them in chronological order, as the back story develops – her family life, her friends, etc – develops as the series continues. They are not for everyone, they are what I say, “cosy” crime, village life, Mrs Malory baking cakes, cleaning our cupboards, and feeding her cat and dog, but at the same time pondering how someone died.

      Oh, I love Miss Dior. However, the current Miss Dior is a new fragrance and if anyone wants the old-style fragrance, they must buy Miss Dior Originale. Why on earth they couldn’t just stick to the original and then call the new fragrance something else I do not know. I don’t know the perfume White Shoulders, but it sounds very 1960s Doris Day romantic!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the Mapp & Lucia series – great fun, isn’t it! I think it’s better – well, different of course, but yes, better – than the more recent one with Anna Chancellor and Miranda Richardson.

      • Thanks for the tip on reading the mysteries. I’ve just finished a couple of Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels, and these Sheila Malory mysteries sound very enjoyable.

        I did not know that bout Miss Dior/Miss Dior Originale. Should be interesting to compare the two if I ever come across the original.


        • Margaret Powling

          I haven’t yet smelt the new Miss Dior, Christie, but I’d rather they named it something totally different because if the formula has been changed it is therefore a different fragrance. I loved the original Miss Dior which was my first grown up perfume, bought for me by my mother just before I was 12 years old.

  7. Here at home in the Southern Hemisphere we are moving from winter to spring but along the east coast of Australia we didn’t have much of a winter and I fear we won’t get much of a spring season, either. Last week I sorted through my wardrobe, removing the items for cooler weather and bringing out bits and pieces for the warmer weather. Whilst I’m far from a ten item wardrobe, I like to remove out-of-season clothing from my wardrobe or else it gets cluttered. I saw mangoes in our local,supermarket but refuse to pay $AU3.00 each and will,wait until the season kicks off properly and the prices come down (and the flavour improves). Mmmmm summer fruits – I can’t wait !

    Shame two of your parcels were a flop but good that you could exchange / refund.

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, I’d love to be entering spring/summer right now, Lara, my favourite season of all being spring! But as yu say, $AUS3.00 for a mango seems rather a lot to me, and I don’t even eat them!

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