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A Busy Sunday


First of all, many thanks to all those who have commented and have reassured me that what I have been writing hasn’t been boring you all witless!

It has been a lovely sunny day here in South Devon.  There really is nothing I like better than a day that isn’t too hot, nor too cold, no chilly wind, indeed, just the right temperature for us to work in the garden.

Well, I say “us” but husband does the lion’s share while I prepare meals because if I go into the garden and work first, by the time I’ve done that I’m too tired to start cooking.

So here is husband above, in old gardening clothes, sweeping up the leaves from the walnut tree.  The grass will have one last cut very soon. The garden always looks tidier once the grass has been cut.

While he was sweeping up, having already been for the Sunday Telegraph (to read later), I prepared breakfast.  I had half a grapefruit again, and husband had the last of the tinned prunes. Then husband had porridge (oatmeal to those in USA and Canada) and I had Jordan’s Raspberry Country Crisp, which has few raspberries in it so this is something of a misnomer; I’d call it Country Crisp With Hunt the Raspberry!  (On top of which I sliced some banana and scattered some sultanas.)

We then changed the bed linen. Husband helps with this as he knows my arms ache shoving the duvets into the duvet covers and giving them a good shake – we have single duvets on a double bed, which is cosy as there is then no risk of a draught down the middle when one of us turns over. I do recommend this.  Once the bedroom was tidy, I filled the washing machine and got my little electronic helper working for me.

Husband then returned to the garden, opened up the summerhouse (which actually needs a clean out before autumn/winter really sets in), and I decided to do some cooking.

I had a couple of Bramley apples in the fridge so thought I’d cook them so that I would have a base for four small ramekins of apple crumble.

Then I  cooked 500grms of lean steak mince, first sautéing onions, adding the meat and browning it, adding a can of chopped tomatoes, and some seasonings (I used dried basil today, and beef and veggie Oxo cubes) adding some water and then allowing it to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, I peeled potatoes as part of the mince mixture would be turned into a cottage pie for the two of us, and the rest would be made into two two-person lasagnes.

As the potatoes were simmering I made a béchamel sauce for the lasagne, adding a carton of low-fat cottage cheese and just a little parmesan for extra flavour. I don’t use cheddar cheese as in a cheese sauce, it’s too oily on top of lasagne, I find cottage cheese added to the béchamel makes a lovely sauce which complements the mince and the sheets of lasagne (I use fresh lasagne from the supermarket chiller, not dried).

Here are the two two-person portions of lasagne and (closest to the camera) the cottage pie.  They are at the ready-for-fridge-or-freezer stage, they still need to go into the oven when required, for the final baking.

Unlike a lot of the cookery programmes on TV, where they must have a veritable army of cleaners rushing around after the messy contestants, I have – as my mother instilled in me – always cleared up as I cooked, starting with a washing up bowl in which is hot soapy water, and an empty dishwasher. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, on these TV cookery programmes I’d have marks deducted for messy, unhygienic cooking, and all cooks would have to have long hair covered/tied back. I can’t stand seeing long hair dripping across someone’s face and dangling close to the food.  Seldom do I see anyone washing their hands, too.  Yes, these programmes are fun, but let us not kid ourselves. They are not about learning to cook or learning about food values or how to cook on a tight budget or how to eat for good health.

For lunch we  finished the French onion soup I made yesterday and after I’d tidied the kitchen  I also went into the garden – as husband had emptied some of the pots of the dead cosmos and dahlias, I planted them with tulips and narcissi.


I have now potted-up 12 pots with spring bulbs.  I have about four more to do, but again have run out of bulbs, so perhaps one more  trip to the garden centre will be made in due course.  In the back border I have planted six large alliums which were a birthday present.  I have planted Queen of the Night tulips, which are very dark purple, in the above black ceramic pots.

We spent about half an hour in the summerhouse with a cup of tea and a Marlborough bun cut in half (we bought the last three in Waitrose yesterday, knowing that there would be one each yesterday and one to share today) and I had a quick look at the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine and the Sunday section.

About four o’clock we called it a day.  Husband put all the gardening tools away into our small garden shed (around the corner of our house, tucked almost out of sight, a shed he built himself many years, to match our house, i.e. not a wooden shed, but breeze block which is rendered and painted to match the house walls) and we came indoors.

I will now do the ironing and put the cottage pie in the oven to cook.  The sitting room is tidy …

and if there is nothing I want to watch on television this evening, there are always plenty of books to look at.  I love to come in from a day in the garden to a tidy sitting room. It needn’t be pristine and polished, but I like the two sofas’ cushions tidy and the carpet swept.  It is far more relaxing to go into a tidy room than into one and then having to start tidying up!

I hope you have had an enjoyable Sunday, and that the sun has shone for you.  Have a good week, whether you go to work or are retired.

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. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    It has been a beautiful day here as well Margaret, the week ahead looks set to be good, so we must have a garden tidy up, leaves are everywhere here, we have a big horse chestnut out the front and as well as covering the drive the leaves blow in the back as well. Very productive making a few meals at once, I like to cook but not everyday, like you I would rather make a few extra. I can’t abide clutter and mess in the lounge, it is a relaxing place for at the end of the day, I can’t chill if there is mess. I love you books on the table, they look very inviting indeed.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, all the leaves make a real mess but that’s autumn for you, and I love the scent of the leaves of the walnut tree as we sweep them up – unfortunately husband has lost his sense of smell, but I tell him how lovely they smell! I was in the surgery yesterday (for my ‘flu jab, as mentioned on yesterday’s post) and the nurse said, “You smell nice!” and I told her |I was wearing Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue, and yet husband couldn’t smell it. I do think, along with Mitsouko, these are my two favourite fragrances, even more so than Hermes’ Caleche and 24 Faubourg.
      We are alike there, Marlene. I can’t relax in a cluttered, untidy space. The books are on our dining table which I now use as a sofa table as we only require it being ‘up’ as a dining table when the family come for a meal. Other than that, we eat at the kitchen table. I like having books to pick up and browse, I also like a jigsaw puzzle on the table, we’ve not done one of those for a long time, though. We had a spate, some years ago now, of doing jigsaw puzzles. A lovely winter occupation when there’s nothing to watch on TV. Well, nothing that we want to watch, I should say.

  2. Another wonderful post! And not boring in the least!!! I was wondering, when you do polish your wood furniture, do you use anything special or anything particular that you “swear by”? Alas, much of mine is covered at present to attempt to protect it from my brother’s kitties (I am his caregiver; he lives with me), but I’ve noticed the condition of your tables, etc.; their surfaces look especially beautiful. Hoping you and yours have a great week, too, Margaret! Blessings, Bess

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Bess, and you might be relived to know that I seldom polish the wood furniture, I just dust it about once a week. Sometimes I use Pledge, a spray polish, but really for good furniture you can’t beat a wax polish such as Antiquax. But even the National Trust now doesn’t polish very often, or so I have learned from various programmes on TV. A light buffing with a cloth after removing the dust keeps it looking OK, but we’re not precious about it, we just use it. What you can’t see are the small scrathes on the dining table and nest of tables from use and, of course, the desk in the hall was 2nd hand when my mother bought it for me when I was about 12 years old in 1956 and it’s been used constantly since then.

  3. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    I don’t think I have heard of a Marlborough bun; please explain! I really like Materchef and some of the other cookery programmes but the uncovered hair always makes me annoyed. I have even seen contestants taste food and then put the same spoon back in the pot to stir!
    I find that frozen mashed potato topping on pies can be a bit watery when defrosted…any tips?
    Your pots will look fabulous in the spring. I have always liked Queen of the Night tulips – very dramatic.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      We didn’t know of Marlborough buns either, Eloise, until my friend who shops in Waitrose as we do mentioned them to me. They are to be found in the fresh cakes racks, where they put croissants and doughnuts. But you have to go early to get them, we were just lucky yesterday to have found three that were left! They are a bit like a Chelsea bun in flavour, a little bit spicy but not overly so, with fruit in them and a sugary glaze on top, they are lovely and remind me of the buns we paid 1d for in break at my grammar school (the old penny, when there were 240 of them to the pound, pre decimal coinage which came in 1971). You could Google them and you will see them on the Waitrose website.
      I think the secret with mashed potato is you are going to freeze it is not to add anything which is wet when you are mashing them, such as cream or milk. Perhaps just a little butter but keeping the mash as dry as possible. I prefer not to freeze cottage pies, but lasagnes freeze very well, as do casseroles and curries, of course.
      I’ve put the Queen of the Night into black pots – perhaps mistake, I like them in terracotta pots usually, but I thought I’d try this out.

      • Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

        Thank you. I shall try freezing just the potato without adding anything. I had given up and started freezing only the filling, adding the mash just before cooking.
        I think the tulips will look fabulous in black pots. Remember to let us see them.
        I remember pre-decimal coins of course. On the day we changed, during half term I think, my friend and I caught the train to Birmingham and in the Bull Ring shopping centre you could take your money to a specially set up stall where they would exchange it for ‘new’ money. It was all rather exciting. I remember buying an emerald green coat for £9 in the sale on that very day. Heavens, if only I could remember day to day stuff as well as I do all these pointless details. Haha!

        • Margaret Powling

          They are not pointless details, for therein lie the details of one’s life, Eloise. I can remember small details just like that, even clothes I was wearing to certain events. How lovely that emerald green coat sounds!
          I don’t recall much about the change over to decimal currency, I know when it was in February 1971, but I don’t remember much about the actual day or using the new money. Of course, decimal currency makes addition and subtraction so much easier. When I was a child the farthing was still in currency, never mind the halfpenny! Just think, a farthing was a quarter of one old penny, and there were 240 of those to the pound, so there were 240 x 4 farthings to the pound = 960! They had a little wren on the reverse side of the coin to the sovereign of the day.
          I hope that mashing the potatoes without milk or cream and very little butter (if used) will help and yes, I hope that the Queen of the Night tulips look good in black ceramic pots. My gardening is very hit or miss!

  4. Your breakfast table looks so beautifully set. I know I comment each time on how beautiful your table always looks but I am sincere in my compliments.

    Our spring has been quite hot already so reading of your duvets (which we call doonas) on the bed prompted me to comment that we are sleeping with a top sheet only for most of the night already. We had two cool nights recently where we had to use a light blanket and it was so lovely as I sleep much better when it’s cool. The rain was very welcome as it’s been an extremely dry winter and the air has been very dusty (not good for those who suffer allergies) and news reports of our farmers suffering is always awful.

    I, too, have made four individual ramekins of apple crumble (although I use gluten free flour). I had four apples that were looking quite sad and didn’t want to waste them. I will bake them all tonight so we can have two tonight and two tomorrow night (reheated in the microwave). Another of my favourite desserts – well one of the several of my favourite ha ha ……

    What is a ‘Marlborough bun’ ?

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      The hot nights are now a fond memory, Lara, as we are well into autumn, and one night we even put the electric mattress cover on (an electric blanket which fits the bed like a fitted sheet.)
      Thank you for saying the breakfast table looked attractive. I don’t do it specially, I just happen to like a pretty tablecloth and we just use what china we have, all of what you see (apart from the plain white bowls) I inherited from my late mother.

  5. Oops I should have read the comments (and your responses) first. I have seen your description of a Marlborough bun. I will also google so I can see what one looks like – a picture paints a thousand words, as they say 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Marlborough buns are delicious. They are not creamy, they’re quite ‘solid’ in texture, but we love them!

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