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The first day of Autumn

Today, the quarter day, is the official start of Autumn.  My plan was simply to pop over to Wellswood, a rather pleasant area of Torquay, and buy some special birthday and anniversary cards and do some mailing of items, too.

After that we were going to return and I was going to crack on with some much-needed housekeeping.  But once husband and I were out and about on a sunny early Autumn morning we were both somewhat reluctant to return home immediately our errands had been accomplished.

But first, I must show you the lovely window displays this week in the Rowcroft Hospice Boutique (I had popped in there to return two fashion magazines I’d bought in there last week, so they can re-sell them; I like to see a fashion magazine now and again, especially lovely ones such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, but I do not wish to keep them as I do my interior décor magazines).  Indeed, I had a chat with the window dresser – she informed me that they think about up-coming events that they can turn into themed displays, such as the Agatha Christie window last week.  Today’s windows celebrate Autumn …

and the return of Strictly Come Dancing, which starts again on TV tomorrow evening …

“We tend to hold a few things back if we think they will be suitable for such a window display,” the window dresser told me, and boy, there is sufficient bling here to dress many a dancer on Strictly!  The window looks even better in reality than on my photograph.  And there is even an homage to dear old Brucie, with his autobiography in the front of the window.

Husband visited his barber while I bought the greetings cards and visited the hospice boutique and then, errands complete, we decided to have a snack in the Palace Hotel on the seafront …

Soon you will all be bored witless by my endless comments about our coffee and/or snack lunches here, but there is nowhere else in our town quite as nice.  White napery, always biscuits served with coffee, always peanuts and olives served when you order food, even a humble sandwich.  Today we decided on our usual – one round of beef club sandwiches, horseradish sauce ‘on the side’ as I don’t like it and husband does, and a pot of coffee for two.  You may choose the sort of bread you want (white, brown or granary) and whether you want crusts on or removed, and whether you want chips or crisps.

Above is one round, which is far too much (unless, as last time, we were very hungry indeed) and so we request an extra plate and then we share the round between us …

The single portion shared between the two of us

On Tuesday, after having had my hair highlighted and cut, I decided it was time for a new lipstick for autumn but when I visited Superdrug I saw that there was a 3-for-2 offer and so I thought I might as well take this up as the lipsticks were more expensive online and at least in the shop I could really check the colours.  These are the three I bought …

All L’Oréal (lovely creamy lipstick), two which are Color Riche Matte, and one (gold case) which is simply Colour Riche.  The colours are, left to right:  348 Brick Vintage; 302 Bois de Rose; 640 Erotique.  Lovely colours for autumn.

Each month we receive a copy of Balance, the magazine of Diabetes UK.  A few years ago husband was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes although he wasn’t prescribed any medication as his blood sugar levels were just slightly above the normal reading.  With our already low-fat, low-sugar diet (in the main, but we allow ourselves small indulgences) his blood sugar levels are now normal but I decided to ‘join’ the charity, and with my subscription there comes this magazine each month.  So far I’ve not used any of their recipes but I rather liked the look of two in the current issue and tried them out. First soup …

It was easy to make this soup and it was really very similar to my tomato and red pepper soup that I already make.  Main ingredients here: onion, red pepper, red lentils and a can of tomatoes, with the ‘spice’ being cumin.  I didn’t bother with the topping of onions but simply topped the soup with low-fat crème fraiche.  We decided it was pleasant but we actually prefer my own version, i.e. without cumin, even though there was only 1 teaspoon of the spice in the soup.  But I’ve saved a portion (for two) in the freezer and that will be handy one day when I simply don’t feel like cooking.

The other meal I made was …

This was better.  I used a braising beef for this and when, after 2 hours of very slow cooking on the hob, I tested the meat, it was tough as old boots.  I was very disappointed, having cooked it EXACTLY as the recipe said.  If you do this (i.e. follow a recipe exactly) and something is slightly amiss, not quite to your taste, you can adjust it next time.  However, I allowed the stew to cool as we weren’t using it that day, and once it had cooled the meat was really tender, it had had chance to ‘relax’.  Indeed, this is a very tasty stew and we have sufficient for another meal in the freezer.  I served it with rice and some cauliflower cheese as a veggie, but a green veg would be good (I simply had the cauliflower cheese made and in the fridge.)  It would be a lovely stew to have with, say spinach and crusty bread, or with baked potatoes.

And now it’s almost the weekend – wherever you are, I hope you will have a lovely one.

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 love peeping into your life Margaret.
    The charity shop windows are so inviting, they have a talented window dresser.
    I can understand why you and your husband so enjoy the Palace Hotel, I would too, please keep telling us about your outings there.
    Even a modest sandwich when presented so beautifully with the extras, becomes a special treat. My husband and I often share a meal, it is quite enough for us and we often have a dessert and coffee at home following a meal out.
    I liked the look of your recipes and will try them soon.
    Enjoy your weekend.
    Pam in TX.xx

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Pam, over the Pond in Texas! I’m delighted you like “peeping into my life” as you put it, and yes, that is a favourite charity shop. I just wished I’d had longer to browse in it this morning, but I had to do a few errands before husband had had his hair cut at the barber’s shop. Indeed, I often go in with him and chat with his barber who has been cutting husband’s hair for years. At one time, women simply didn’t go into a barber’s shop, just as they didn’t go into a public house (pub) but today all that has changed, thank goodness. Similarly, men didn’t go into women’s hairdresser’s salons, but my hairdresser cuts men’s hair (although she charges more than a barber, of course) and often husband will sit there and wait for me while I’m having my hair washed and cut.
      I’ve digressed … and I’m glad you’re not bored witless by my witterings about our trips to the Palace Hotel, even for a sandwich. We also had a small cake each when we arrived home, with a cup of coffee. And the day wasn’t all frivolities, either; husband has prepared and painted three windowsills in our sitting room that were looking like they needed a bit of a facelift, and I’ve done all the ironing. It reminded me a little bit of the books for children in the 1950s, the Ladybird series – you possibly had similar ones in America – where Daddy did ‘manly’ things, such as repairs to the car or painting the house, while Mummy (or Mommy) baked cakes in the kitchen! The children in the Ladybird books were called Peter and Jane, so when I catch husband and myself doing what once were considered ‘male’ and ‘female’ tasks, I say “This is yet another Peter and Jane moment!”

      • You have been busy Margaret, but that is satisfying to end a day knowing what you have achieved.
        I am British, I came to the US 27 years ago on a work contract which was supposed to last for two years. The rest is history.
        That is why I so love keeping in touch with all things British.
        Yes I do remember the Ladybird books, I enjoyed them and so did my son who is 38 now. In fact when I was opening some stored boxes recently, I came across his Ladybird books, a whole collection, I have not counted them but there must be 50.
        I am thinking of putting them on eBay.
        Best wishes.
        Pam in TX.xx

        • Margaret Powling

          My goodness, going to the US for just a 2 year contract and staying there – there is a story there, Pam, I’m sure. Well, you couldn’t have come to a better place for all things British, or perhaps that should be English (although I do have a little Scottish blood as my maternal great grandmother was a Scot). How wonderful to have found that Ladybird collection of books, I’m most envious! Our sons enjoyed them best of all as book-tumbling as in domino-tumbling. They would set the books up in a line, perhaps through the house, under their beds, down the hall (yes, they had a lot of Ladybird books in order to do this!) and then start them tumbling by pushing the first one over and watching them collapse, one after the other. For two little boys, that beat reading them! You could sell them on eBay, but check them out first via various 2nd hand book websites to see if you have any which are collectable. First editions in good condition of some of them might be sought after and therefore might fetch a good price.

  2. I love the in-between seasons, Margaret, autumn and spring. I have given up on ‘modern’ cookery, as I dislike a lot of it. All through winter and the cooler days of spring and autumn, I make soup for lunch. Red lentil soup without tomatoes (I’m allergic to tomatoes), but with heaps of vegetables, was my mainstay for many years. Although now I am a convert to your vegetable soups, with some cheese. I always give my excesses eg books, unused make-up, clothes, knick-knacks to the local church and hospice shops. It is one way of ‘giving back’.

    • Margaret Powling

      That is lovely, Ratnamurti, that you have enjoyed my vegetable soup recipes. There are lots of soup that don’t use tomatoes, and all are nourishing and tasty. And yes, you are right: giving our unwanted things that are still in good condition to the local charity shop or church is a good way of ‘giving back’.

  3. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Your charity shops certainly know how to put on a good display, I am a huge strictly fan and am looking forward to it tomorrow night, I always used to love watching the dancing on ice also, we did go to see Torvill and Dean and some of the other celebs and dancers in a show and it was amazing. The stew looks and sounds so delicious, a perfect example of good simple comfort food. I have some of the loreal lipsticks in nude shades, I love them really moisturising, I do need to get some more lipsticks as I don’t have many left now.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, the hospice boutique always looks lovely and it’s just like a boutique inside. It had a total re-vamp a couple of years ago and it’s lovely, with displays of shoes and jewellery and so forth just like a lovely retail shop, i.e. not a charity shop.
      Strictly Come Dancing is great fun – I love to see the fantastic costumes!
      A new lipstick really brightens the day, doesn’t it, actually and metaphorically!

  4. Those lipsticks colours are lovely Margaret, I must admit I do like to wear a lip colour even if it’s just with a slick of mascara and nothing else, it always makes me feel more ‘ together ‘ if you know what I mean.
    What an effort that hospice shop makes with its window, certainly makes you want to wander in for a browse.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I agree – “more together” is how I feel, too, even with the minimum of makeup. Indeed, I look ill without some colour, having a rather pale skin.
      I love to see the windows in the hospice shop. I like to support this local charity which depends solely on donations, as I’ve known several people who have had recourse to their care over the years, all of whom are sadly no longer with us.

  5. Those two meals sound and look delicious. I made a big pot of veggie soup during the week and thought – sniff – this will probably be my last one for a while as it will be too hot soon. I froze about six containers, each with sufficient for two serves, so can enjoy later.

    I have never heard the term ‘quarter day’. Do you use it for the start of each season ?

    The shop window is quite spectacular- and given the frequency of changes they must put in a lot of effort. I, too, pass on my clothes, handbags, shoes, etc to local charity shops when I’m done with them. With menopause resulting in slight changes to my body shape I found many of my existing slimmer-fitting tops no longer flattering or comfortable so bundled them up for donation. I figured someone my (pre-menopausal) size would get the use out of them, rather than having them languishing in my cupboard. The money raised goes to those less fortunate. All good karma.

    I’ve worn lip gloss more and more over the past decade. I feel naked without some colour on my lips. I wear much less makeup nowadays, living in the subtropics as it just slides off in the (many) humid months, but a tinted moisturiser (with high SPF) and lippie are non-negotiable for me ha ha. Change of season is a good motivator for a fresh new colour. You have inspired me to look thru my dresser drawer and change over the two or three lip glosses which live in my handbag. I’m easily amused 🙂

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lara. I don’t think many people use the term “quarter day” but that’s what those days in 21st of March, June, September and December are. I don’t know where I first heard it, either. Maybe I might Google it! Of course, March and September are the equinoxes, and June the shortest day and December the longest day here in the northern hemisphere.
      I’ve never worn lip gloss, only lipstick. And I’ve yet to buy a tinted moisturizer – perhaps for next summer I shall do that! But a new lipstick at the beginning of a new season makes a refreshing change from the ones we have been using.

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