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A Sunny Friday

I was up very early this morning and saw the sun rise above the horizon. The sky was first a delicious peachy pink before the bright golden ball appeared in the sky, and then it became too bright to look towards the sea, but I photographed the gladioli with the sun shining through the petals to remind me just how lovely it is to see the sunshine at this time of the year – well, at any time of the year.

Husband slept on, and I decided (after having had a pot of coffee) to have some breakfast while watching the News on TV.  I cut up half a grapefruit (I remove it from its skin so that I can then squeeze every last drop of grapefruit juice from the skin into the bowl) and I also had a bowl of bran flakes on top of which I sprinkled some sultanas and sliced up half a banana.

Instead of sitting at the kitchen table, I had this on my lap while watching TV.  I then wandered around the house, loving the sunlight on the various bowls and jugs of flowers.

Then another pot of coffee just as husband was waking up.  After he had showered and dressed and was off to fetch the daily paper from the local shop, I made him porridge for his return, and I confess that by then, an hour or so after my breakfast, I decided to have a warmed brioche and a little blackcurrant jam.

I then did a bit of light housework – making the bed, vacuuming, general tidying – and then I decided to make tomato and courgette soup for our lunch (plus a blackcurrant and pear crumble which I made yesterday.)  I had three pear halves left from a tin of lovely William pears (we find that tinned pears are often better then fresh ones which are only fit to eat for about half an hour of their life!  They are either too hard and tasteless, or they’ve gone what my husband calls “sleepy”. I don’t know if there is an actual term for it when a pear goes mushy?  I sliced up the pears and put them into four small ramekins and then put blackberries on top (these were commercially-produced, large blackberries from the supermarket), sprinkled just a little sugar on top of the blackberries and then topped with crumble topping (home-made, of course; half fat to flour as in short crust pastry, but without egg or water to bind the pastry together, and about a dessertspoon of golden granulated sugar.)  I baked two of them yesterday and we had the other two today.

Above is the tomato and courgette soup in which I used all the tomatoes which were going a little soft, and served it with crusty rolls which I’d defrosted and warmed in the oven, plus some freshly grated parmesan, with apple juice to drink.  Then the crumble …

The only slight problem – not that it’s a ‘problem’ as such – is that when you scoop a crumble from a ramekin, the crumble tends to end up on the bottom of the dish with the fruit on top, but actually, this looks more attractive I think.  I could leave it in the ramekin, of course, but I prefer it in the dish.  I served it with Cornish clotted cream ice cream (no soft scoop in this house; we dislike the oily taste which I presume is whatever they put in it to prevent it from freezing, a bit like culinary anti-freeze.)  I suppose this could be called an upside down crumble, like upside down cake!

After filling the dishwasher after lunch, and tidying up the kitchen, we both decided it was warm enough to work outside and, as the tulip and narcissi bulbs had arrived the day before yesterday, we spent the time planting them.  Husband removes the old compost from the pots and sprinkles that on the garden and then puts fresh compost half-way up the pots for me, as I have arthritic hands and can’t manage a lot of the heavy work (which makes me mad as I want to crack on and find I can’t) and then I add the bulbs but I can manage to scoop the fresh compost from the bags to go on top of the bulbs, and then grit on the top to deter the squirrels from robbing the pots and also as a form of mulch to keep moisture in.

The pots are simply lined up at the moment, perhaps another day I will put all the blue pots (which I’m not now keen on, but husband says it would be a complete waste to get rid of them – we shall see!  They were ‘fashionable’ about 15 – 20 years ago, but now, to me, they just look garish and I wish I’d never clapped eyes on them!)

I am tired now, I’ve not done that much today but enough to feel I’ve not entirely wasted such lovely sunny weather.  This morning another book arrived.  I’d completely forgotten I’d ordered it – 2nd hand, it wasn’t expensive – and so I shall have something lovely to browse through this evening.

I have a feeling, though, that this interior decorator’s style – lovely though it obviously is – might be just a little too-perfect for my particular taste:  I like things which don’t look too-fresh, too-new, too-manicured, but we shall see.  I love the books (and the style) of Ben Pentreath, William Yeoward, and Robert Kime and, in a previous era, Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler.  While I admire anyone who can climb to the top of the tree in whatever profession, I do think that Joanna Wood’s style might not quite chime with mine (even if I could afford it!)

On that note I will close and make a cup of tea and cut a slice of fruit cake for husband, still busy in the garden.  It has been a gorgeous day.  I hope you have had a good day, too.

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’ve been reading this before breakfast… and now I’m so hungry!! The food sounds so delicious.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh dear, I’m sorry to make you feel hungry! I have just had two small pieces of the lovely Green & Black chocolate we bought the day before yesterday! And the soup was very good!

  2. I’ve got a couple of those blue pots too but have put mine out of sight. Why on earth did we buy them Margaret? Can we blame Alan Titchmarsh? I met Alan when the Queen came to Wisley to open the new glasshouse and he was wearing the brightest blue suit which looked most odd, but that’s showbiz I suppose! I bought bulbs today at my local nursery: narcissus pueblo and tulip purissima to add to a border which I sorted out yesterday and a bag of crocus tommasianus for the rough grass under the Norway Maple (I add these every year and am slowly but surely establishing a carpet of blue despite the depredations of the local squirrels). Right now I’m browsing Sarah Raven’s tulip colllections to plant in my old weathered terracotta pots. Decisions decisions … I always replant the old tulip bulbs at the allotment in ordered rows and it is interesting to see which ones perform again. I’m picking lots of different dahlias, white cosmos and pink anemone from the allotment and it is proving to be an excellent year for pears, my Fondante d’automne are mouth-wateringly delicious. I think you have a wonderful appreciation of life Margaret and I especially notice how you manage to live in the moment, enjoying every day for all its pleasures. I’m trying to do the same.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      At last, someone else who fell for the blue pots years ago and now finds them garish! I bought them when we bought a hosta and the lime green of the hosta looked lovely in the pot, but since then I’ve changed my horticultural ideas and the hostas are in black ceramic pots and I shall have to put those blue pots out of sight before long, I’m sure!
      Oh, the squirrels are a pain! We used to have what we thought was one, he would come and have a few of our walnuts from the tree and leave us pounds of them to use over the winter and even give to friends, family and neighbours. Now he and his pals strip the tree entirely, not one is left for us.
      How lovely to have an allotment. If I were younger I think I’d like that, but now age and arthritis prevent me from doing much gardening, husband (who is older than me) does the lion’s share. Oh, to have one’s own pears growing!
      That is a lovely observation, that I have an appreciation of life, and that I live in the moment. Thank you for that. I certainly try to do both. I know that it isn’t necessary to fill each waking moment, but each day is a day less on the planet and I want to make each day as good as I can, whether it’s simply doing housework, or cooking or walking somewhere with my husband. These days aren’t repeated.

  3. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Your Gladioli look lovely, I very nearly bought some today but had Asters instead, but I think next week I may well get the Gladioli. I agree with you about pears we had tinned pears this morning with some yogurt for breakfast. We have a set of those blue pots, blue isn’t really my colour, but thought they looked ok with yellow pansies in, but like your husband think they are to good a pot to part with, I must get out and sort the garden and bulbs out soon.
    Have a lovely weekend Margaret.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Had I seen asters I think I’d have been tempted with those, Marlene, they are such pretty flowers and in lovely jewel-shades. I had white gladioli last week and now this vibrant scarlet. Perhaps a little too vibrant for our sitting room, but they are rather stunning. I think they’d look lovely in a very modern setting, perhaps a room in primary colour, black and white and Very Mondrian-painting style!
      Yes, tinned pears with yoghurt are lovely – our favourite yoghurt is Onken black cherry, we’re not keen on natural yoghurt, it’s too acidic for our tastes, ditto crème fraiche although I use crème fraiche in cooking.
      I often put white flowers in the bright blue pots, those can look good, too, or very dark blue lobelia, or even one of my favourite summer flowers, heliotrope – the wonderful purple and those gorgeous veined leaves look OK in the dark blue, and the vanilla scent of heliotrope is wonderful.
      Yes, you have a lovely weekend, too, Marlene.

  4. Hope you continue to feel better! Your days lately sound so pleasant, and such nice new books, too!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Beth. Yes, the last few days have been most enjoyable, especially meeting a friend in Brixham, visiting our son and his lovely partner at their home (just popping in for a cup of tea) and going to the garden centre yesterday. We will probably go again to the garden centre this weekend for more spring bulbs. It’s lovely to feel so much better. Not firing on all cylinders yet, but getting there.

  5. I guess I’m just out of it, but I find that I do not share your dislike for those blue pots!!! Blue is my favorite color! I have a couple blue pots, which isn’t quite enough for me, and I also have a blue ceramic bird bath, plus a small blue gazing ball.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Maybe it is that they are not as well-suited to English gardens as those abroad, Jeannine? I don’t know, but in a Mediterranean garden or perhaps a Californian garden they would look stunning, whereas in our northern climate, where summers can be iffy, hot for a week or two and then the usual grey clouds creep in, they just look too strong a colour (well, to me.) But it’s good to disagree on some things, I think; we all have our likes and dislikes and I did like them to start with. Perhaps they just need moving to another part of the garden? Perhaps different planting, or not mixed with other pots so that they form a little area of their own?

      • It is interesting – how we each have our own tastes. I enjoy the “pop” of blue in the garden and I haven’t found them difficult to plant, but then I’m one who prefers the following colors in flowers: white, pink, purple, blue, and yellow (but only if it’s lemon). I also enjoy chartreuse, grey, purple-red, and variegated foliage. I don’t find any of these a problem in a blue pot. I’ve actually, sometimes, wished I had more blue pots! I can feel you cringing all the way over here! Thanks for all your very interesting posts. I enjoy reading about your days and your thoughts.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          Oh, Jeannine, pity I can’t airlift my pots to you, ha ha! I think you have much more sunshine than we have, and perhaps your winters are less grey and dull? What do look good in the blue pots are lime-green hostas and variegated foliage. No, I’m not cringing, I expect your plants look lovely in the massed blue pots, perhaps the best way is to plant with strong colours, not to be intimidated by the bright blue. But getting away from blue for the moment, what I do like are deep purple tulips such as Queen of the Night in terracotta pots. I first saw a whole avenue of these as Sissinghurst Gardens in Kent, a famous English garden. They looked stunning.
          Thank you for saying how much you enjoy reading about my days and thoughts, that is so reassuring because I don’t want to bore people (and really, we live a very ordinary life – eating, sleeping, shopping, going for walks with the occasional visit to an historic house, garden or antiques centre thrown in.)

  6. Another one here who has totally gone off those blue pots but blow me they have lasted for years with no sign of wear, typical! I find them quite restrictive as to what can be planted in them colour wise and mainly stick to versions of white or cream then promptly move them to the back of the house so they can’t be seen.
    Glad to hear that you are continuing to improve health wise Margaret, have a good weekend.

    • Margaret Powling

      You are so right, Elaine. I find planting them difficult! White, cream, or even the same shade of bright blue lobelia. I have planted them, as I say, with heliotrope and that worked, too. But as I’ve said to Jeannine, maybe it’s because we lack bright sunshine much of the year in our northern climate.
      Thank you for your wishes re my health. I’ve been out and about today (another garden centre visit) and feel very much better.

  7. A beautiful day you had Margaret,simple things,enjoying the autumnal sunshine,although today is very dreary and very fine rain here. My motto is to enjoy every day as if it’s your first,we are only on this planet once.My son is down from London today so I’ll be meeting him for lunch.Your cut flowers are amazing,do you buy them from a supermarket? My dahlias are still flowering in the allotment and hot lips and helianthus in the garden at the moment.They had your “neck of the world” on Location location location this week.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, it is good to bear in mind to live every day as if it’s your first, and I do hope you have a lovely time with your son today. Yes, I buy all the flowers in the supermarket – Lidl’s, Morrisons or Waitrose, wherever I happen to be shopping.
      Yes, Location, Location, Location featured Paignton (well, Goodrington, the outer-reaches of Paignton) and parts of Brixham, which I didn’t recognise. But the house they went to in Paignton – I think it was the first house for one of the two couples – was in a road called Penwill Way, close to Paignton Zoo. The gardens there are rather steep, many of them have been terraced, because the houses are built on a hillside, not good for children or dogs, unfortunately. But very nice properties built I the 1960s. From that house they could easily have walked to their beach hut at Goodrington!

  8. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Your food always looks so nicely presented, Margaret.
    We have more in common! I like fruit with my cereal and often have the banana/sultana combination. Also, we eat lots of tinned pears. My mother always gave them to us as children if we were poorly. She said that in hospital they had often given them to patients who didn’t feel like eating. To this day, they are my favourite food if feeling unwell.
    I have some of those blue pots in my garden and still like them better than any others!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      How coincidental that we like tinned pears, and have sultana/banana on cereal! The best pears by far, from my experience, are the large tins of William pears in Lidl’s. They are, as Craig Revel Horwood would say, gor-jus! Another breakfast combination we enjoy – and one I’m sure I’ve mentioned before – is tinned prunes and tinned lychees! I call it a black (the prunes) and white (the lychees) breakfast. This makes a lovely starter. I also like melon balls with some slivers of stem ginger on top for breakfast.
      How funny that my remarks re my blue pots have brought lots of great comments! I think they might be called the Marmite of pots, love ’em or loathe ’em! Or perhaps they suit some gardens better than others?

  9. I agree with your comments about pears. I see them in the shops, get all excited and select a few to take home only to wait for them to soften a little and when I eat them they have overripened and taste of dirt. Plus they are so fragile it’s not like I could put one in my handbag (as I can do with an apple or mandarins) for an ’emergency’ snack. I could probably count on one hand the number of yummy, juicy pears I’ve actually enjoyed. Mind you, I think this is the case with much of the fruit and veg offered in supermarkets today. Oh and don’t get me started on tomatoes …… 😉

    I echo one of the above comments about tinned pears. My favourite dessert as a child was tinned pears and custard – maybe I should correct that to ONE OF my favourite desserts as a child as most children love dessert, don’t they – and although I don’t make custard from scratch but will buy the refrigerated yogurt from the supermarket on occasion, it never fails to take me back to those days.

    Location, Location, Location with Phil Spencer and Kirsty Allsop is one of my favourite shows. An old housemate introduced me to the series (shown on cable / subscription Foxtel here in Australia) about ten years ago. I also adore the ‘spin-off’ shows they have each made (Kirsty’s Homemade Home, PHIL Spencer: Secret Agent, etc). I love seeing the different areas of the UK, learning about the ‘sealed bidding’ real estate system in Scotland, watching the unrealistic expectations of the potential buyers and of course the lovely banter between Kirsty and Phil. There is an Australian version of LLL (oddly enough called LLL Australia) and even though the cities and suburbs are familiar to me, I have noooooo interest in watching it !! I much prefer your version. Funny, isn’t it 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, a lot of the fruit is tasteless, particularly the apples, Lara. Of course, there is only one harvest and then they go into cold store and are brought out throughout the year until the next harvest, small wonder they have little taste. And for pear also read banana, which I refer to as the half-hour banana! A banana is either hard and green or it’s mottled and mushy, so you almost have to stand and watch it and as soon as it’s neither green nor mottled – about half an hour of its life – it’s fit to eat!
      I do make custard from scratch, by which I mean custard powder and milk. I’ve never tried ready-made custard in a can or carton.
      I’m so glad you can see Location, Location, Location – it’s not so much the properties that I enjoy seeing, but the banter between Kirstie and Phil (or Kirstles and Pip as they call each other).
      Another house programme I enjoy is Escape to the Country, but I only like certain presenters, such as Jules Judson and Alastair Appleton. But it’s lovely that you enjoy the UK version of Location, Location, Location! Perhaps just because the properties shown are so very different from those in your own country.

  10. Oh we are quite spoilt here for bananas. They grow everywhere and are relatively cheap. I eat one everyday – either with breakfast or as a snack as they are so yummy. I had no idea they were so few and far between in the UK. I will be sure to appreciate them more now 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, we have loads of bananas in this country, Lara, but while some of them can be bought while they are still fairly green, they never seem to ripen properly, they just go brown and mushy. But they are the most popular fruit in the country, but while a lot are bought, I suspect a lot are thrown away. I like the small ones best, but small fruit and veg are often tastier than large ones.

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