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A Quiet Weekend

Barry came to visit us yesterday (Saturday).  His mummy and daddy were having some time on their own (it was his mummy’s birthday), doing some shopping and having lunch out.   As a young doggy, Barry would run around all the time, but he is now seven and likes nothing better than an afternoon snooze.  I invited him to write a guest post, but he declined.  He was more interested in curling up for a blissful sleep.

There is a reason for this middle-age dog’s tiredness.  His mummy and daddy have had their garden totally fenced.  Completely.   And so, for the first time in his life, Barry is able to run in the garden without being on a long lead so as not to escape.  Mind you, I expect he’s working on that.  He is, after all, a Patterdale terrier and terriers’ raisons d’etre is to escape.   At first he didn’t quite seem  to believe his luck, being lead-free, but then he enjoyed chasing up and down the lawn.  No wonder the little chap was tired when he arrived yesterday.  Not only a run around the garden, but his mummy and daddy had taken him for a walk in a nearby park.

Yesterday and today have been quiet days for us.  I’ve pottered … well, I think that’s the word … doing a bit of housekeeping, a little cooking, sometimes sitting and reading, or watching a DVD.  I made cauliflower cheese yesterday for our lunch (and kept two portions for our lunch today – we don’t mind having the same meal two days running if it’s economical and saves cooking again.)

We had it on trays while watching the News on TV.  I know it’s not the best way to eat, and watching the News is not exactly something which aids digestion, but it was a cosy way of eating our Saturday lunch.

We didn’t have a newspaper yesterday – sometimes the Saturday paper really annoys us, with too many sections, few of which we actually wish to read.  Sunday’s paper is better; fewer sections but more interesting ones.  I even like the Stella magazine in the Sunday Telegraph although some of the fashions are not only outrageous, but outrageously priced.  Today, a leather shirt (I can’t think that that would be comfortable) priced at over two thousand pounds and a skirt, a mere snip at around six hundred pounds.  Obviously, there are women who will buy these things, not only because they are wealthy but also because they will think they are the very glass of fashion.  Sadly, fashion and style aren’t always close relations.  Having said that (sorry, cliché) I do enjoy reading Stella magazine; it keeps me in touch with the latest skin-care and make-up products and new trends in décor.  Not that these trends influence me, but I like to keep up-to-date in my knowledge of such things.

* * * * *

One thing I would like to mention here is that I think I inadvertently upset one reader, Jane in America, by my remarks about Hallowe’en. This is what I said:

“Items for Hallowe’en are on the shelves, so on my next visit [to the supermarket] I will be buying some of them for Trick or Treat night. While we don’t particularly like Trick or Treat night, or rather Hallowe’en as we still prefer to call it, many children do enjoy it, but it does seem to have overtaken our traditional Guy Fawkes (or Bonfire) Night, on 5th November.”

As a child and as a young adult with two small sons, we loved Bonfire Night, when there was a bonfire and fireworks’ display at our children’s primary school.  There were hot dogs to eat and fizzy drinks for the children and hot drinks for the parents.  But since those days, Hallowe’en, another tradition where children would have Hallowe’en parties, has become Trick of Treat night, when instead of holding parties, children knock on strangers’ doors and yell “Trick or Treat!”  Some, of course, are escorted by their parents and they are then usually polite and look quite sweet, in a way, dressed as witches and all manner of ghoulish creatures, but we have had teenagers arrive, often in groups, and while they perhaps mean no harm, they can appear rather menacing in the eyes of some older folk.

I took down from the shelf a book called Mother Tells You How.  This is a collection of practical tips which were in Girl comic which was a best-selling weekly comic in the UK from 1952 to 1960. I loved this comic, and especially the picture strips.  Here are two featuring Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night.

They are very much of their time but I think it demonstrates the lack of commercialization in the 1950s, how the fun was home-made and not bought ready-made in a supermarket.  Bonfire Night was much ‘bigger’ than Hallowe’en in those days, with children making an effigy of Guy Fawkes who would eventually be put on top of the bonfire, and they would be told of how this man (and others) attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament.  Trick or Treat night, which I believe originated in America, has since overtaken Bonfire Night in popularity, and while in my youth children would stand in the centre of the village or town with their home-made ‘Guy’ and ask people for “a penny for the Guy” (meaning some money towards fireworks), they didn’t go around knocking on the doors of strangers’ (or even neighbours’) demanding “trick or treat.”  I would not wish to spoil any child’s fun and I appreciate that times have changed; we always answer the door and hand out sweets and loose change, but I know which kind of celebration I prefer.

* * * * *

As we didn’t have the paper yesterday and as I was ‘rationing’ (as I did’t wish to finish it too quickly) Alan Titchmarsh’s lovely book, The Haunting (for although I’ve more on order, they haven’t yet arrived) I thought it might be fun to watch a DVD which I bought a few weeks ago …

This is an excellent film of three black women mathematicians who worked for NASA, a most enjoyable and uplifting film.

Today (Sunday) has been another quiet day, which began with porridge and the paper in bed.

Porridge (aka Oatmeal) is a lovely way to start the day, isn’t it?

Off now to make chicken curry for our supper this evening, then a read of the paper, a little more of Alan’s novel, and a cup of tea.

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. Hello, Margaret, I’m also enjoying a quiet weekend — they can be just the thing. Some restorative reading, putting things in order, taking care of various loose ends always makes me feel more capable of dealing with whatever comes next. Often the quiet times are my favorite.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Beth, and I’m glad you are also having a quiet weekend – having a quiet time is very restorative. In our busy lives quiet times are often the best times.

  2. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Barry looks so cosy, no wonder the little chap was worn out, at least no worries of him escaping. Like you we are happy to eat the same thing 2 days in a row. I really fancy a cauliflower cheese, one of my favourite veg.
    I am a party pooper when it comes to Halloween I’m afraid the gangs of teenagers ruin it for the little ones and to be honest I don’t agree letting children just go and knock on a strangers door, but there you have it, it’s just how we feel. We all have different thoughts and opinions.
    If I could afford to spend £600 on a item of clothing I still wouldn’t.

    • Margaret Powling

      It seems strange to me, too, Marlene, that children allowed to rush around and knock on the doors of total strangers’ at Hallowe’en. The now-rare party, organized at home, seems much the best way of celebrating, I’m sure. I
      No, I’d not spend £600 on a garment either. Mind you, years ago, I did buy a Burberry trench. Much the same one is now in excess of £1200! It certainly wasn’t that price, but it was expensive. But it was useless in rain. Because it was a trench coat didn’t mean it was actually waterproof! But I loved it nonetheless! It was very smart. For rain I put on a waxed raincoat at a fraction the price from a country store!

  3. I agree with you about Hallowe’en, they start in America and migrate over here! As a child I looked forward to my father bringing home a box of fireworks for Bonfire night and have fond memories of him trying to nail Catherine wheels onto the fence and hoping they would twist round! A box of sparklers and I would be happy as larry! We’ve had a quiet day as well enjoying the autumnal weather and now sitting down with a glass of red wine,with good tv entertainment,Countryfile,Strictly and Antiques Roadshow.Hope the strong winds don’t effect you tomorrow I think we will escape them here. Take care.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, Margaret, sparklers and Catherine wheels, they were such fun!
      While we don’t sip red wine (we went off wine a while ago and if we have a drink now it’s either non-alcoholic, or Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer, or an ice cold G&T) but we also enjoy Countryfile and the Antiques Road Show, two traditional but lovely programmes. Yes, strong winds heading our way, perhaps more to the southern most tip of Cornwall than ourselves in South Devon, but we don’t need to go out tomorrow, we can batten down the hatches, metaphorically speaking.

  4. Hello Margaret,
    Barry looks so comfortable there!
    I remember in my part of the UK – the North- that 31st October was always referred to as “Mischievous Night” in my childhood and not Halloween. This was the night when my dad would wire the gates down, etc, to stop kids up to mischief dismantling them and such like. Maybe this was just a northern thing! Halloween seemed to take over eventually – no more swedes/turnips to carve and hang on a rope with a candle in. Bonfire night used to be a big thing – but only on the one night. I’m frightened to death of fireworks personally but am already beginning to hear some. I remember having baked potatoes put of the bonfire – gosh Health & Safety would have a dicky fit!!

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello Mrs L Hughes, Yes, Barry knows how to make himself comfy, on a chair or on our sofas!
      I can’t recall the 31st October being called Mischievous Night, and I’m a Lancashire lass (well, my parents were Lancastrians although we moved to Devon when I was six years old) but you might be from another northern county. I didn’t know that the children played tricks, such as removing gates! But any excuse for children to be naughty on one night of the year and I expect they loved it!

    • All Hallows Eve or Halloween has been part of my upbringing for as long as I can remember. But here in the US it’s changed a bit as many parents are weary of letting their children knock on stranger’s doors. Now, there are many places were organized parties are given where children can go and trick or treat safely. Like many holidays now, the over commercialization is there. Your little visitor sleeping on the couch is adorable! Pat

      • Margaret Powling

        Hello, Pat (and to Mrs L Hughes). This is indeed good news, I think. Holding organized parties seems a much better way of celebrating All Hallows’ Eve rather than going around, knocking on doors.
        Yes, Barry makes himself very much at home, Pat. He was actually sleeping on the chair which is behind where I sit in our study at my computer. He is very good now and only barks when someone comes to the door, he wants to go out for a call of nature, or a cat passes the window.

  5. I’m afraid I don’t like trick or treating, I’m old enough that it wasn’t around when I was growing up and I don’t answer the door to anyone in the evenings. Even Guy Fawkes night has become a problem because it’s not “a night” it seems to last for two or three weeks with never ending fireworks. And just as they seem to be done, it’s New Year! Luckily none of our pets have ever minded the noise of fireworks but I know some people have a terrible time with their pet

    I’m such an Eeyore, I know.

    Barry looks very cuddly – does he like to be cuddled?

    I’ve had a pottering day too really, got two loads of washing dried outside and did some gardening at my daughter’s. My hands are a bit painful now but never mind.

    I hope your quiet weekend has made you feel perfectly well again, although you always seem to keep busy.

    • Margaret Powling

      No, we didn’t have Trick or Treat when I was young, either Alison. If I were on my own I certainly wouldn’t answer the door to anyone after dark, whether it was Hallowe’en or not. And you are right, the bangs and whooshes from fireworks start anytime soon and go on until after New Year in our parts! No, you are not an Eeyore – I think you speak for the silent majority.
      Barry is a lovely cuddly little dog! He snuggles up if we’re sitting on the sofas (we have two sofas at right angles to each other, and we tend to sit on one each – or lie on one each!)
      So you also suffer from painful hands … they are awful, aren’t they? Like toothache in the joints. Strangely enough, I’ve never had a problem typing and I’ve typed all my life.
      Yes, I’m feeling much better now, thank you, and I hope you will have a good week.

  6. I remember my grandmother having a trenchcoat in the 1960s that she wore forever. It was such a classic shape and so flattering. But, being New Zealand, it actually was a raincoat as well, and not a Burberry. When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, everyone had a raincoat which was rather smart, as we all walked and took buses. New Zealand can be exceptionally rainy! I do recall at one stage having a raincoat which was quite heavy, quite long, brightly coloured, with a hood. We no longer have many bonfires here on Guy Fawkes, due to fire restrictions. We also are no longer allowed to burn our burnable rubbish! Possibly it’s different in the countryside. But the fireworks thing is still alive and well on Guy Fawkes, but again, there are restrictions on when you can buy them. We do have trick or treat here, but not many families do it. I usually have to throw away the sweets that I buy for it. And happily, the children are accompanied by an adult.

    • Margaret Powling

      A Burberry is a kind of raincoat/trench coat, Ratnamurti, in a traditional stone colour with a check lining. Yes, we always wore raincoats in the 1950s and 1960s. Indeed, I had two I remember well – one was a lovely glowing pink/orange shot silk raincoat (it had been giving a waterproof coating) and had large mother-of-pearl buttons, and the other was an olive green with a knitted collar and cuffs and a zipper front, very trendy at the time (and yes, the word ‘trendy’ dates me!)
      I expect there are restrictions in this country regarding bonfires but seeing as we never have a bonfire, living in close proximity to neighbours, this has never been necessary to investigate. How amazing that in New Zealand you also ‘celebrate’ – if that is the word – Guy Fawkes’ Night, 5th November! That is wonderful news, and long may the tradition continue! And it’s much more civilized (and much more safe) if the children are accompanied by an adult.

      • thinking back to the 1960s era, your coats do sound trendy! Fab, actually.

        • Margaret Powling

          I do wish I had photos of me wearing them, Ratnamurti. I have always loved clothes. The olive green coat, waterproof cotton with knitted collar and cuffs … the zipper went right up through the collar and it turned into a cowl neck which was very trendy at the time. I loved it.

  7. Hi I love reading your blog and was so surprised somebody else used to read the Girl. I even sent for their little badge which I still have today (somewhere safe in the house though heaven knows where).

    • Margaret Powling

      I loved Girl comic, Ann! I had it from when it was first published, as my parents (as I’ve posted about) had a newsagent’s shop. I also had School Friend, which was my first comic. It wasn’t as colourful as Girl, but I loved them both. I also had the Girl and School Friend annuals each year. How lovely you still have your Girl badge!

  8. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    As a child I’d never even heard of Halloween until I was invited to a party where we ‘bobbed’ for apples. When my children were small we made cakes with lurid icing, turned out the lights and lit candles. It was all very low key. My grandchildren like dressing up ghoulishly and there is often a party or two, though rarely in someone’s home. I buy sweets to give out to the local children when they knock on the door.
    Guy Fawkes was definitely much better known when I was young. My dad would put the fireworks in an old biscuit tin and neighbours would come with theirs. We always had a big bonfire in the garden.
    With my children we would go to the local scouts bonfire which was a good affair with hot dogs galore! A couple of times I put on a party for friends and their children. We would eat baked potatoes with tasty fillings as we watched the fireworks. The only fireworks I hear (rather than see) now are the bangers that are let off in groups of 20 or more after midnight on a regular basis for several weeks before 5th November!

    • Margaret Powling

      Bobbing for apples was fun! Simple pleasures, eh, Eloise. I think our little grandson will be dressing up this year for the first time (he’s now four) but perhaps not going around door-to-door yet, even with his mummy and daddy. One of the very best bonfires I remember, though, from when our sons were small, was for HM the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977, when the whole village – or what seemed like the whole village – walked to the highest point around, called Blue Mountain, and a bonfire was lit in celebration of the occasion. That was some bonfire! But that was in June (not on the anniversary of her accession, but of her coronation.)

      • Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

        Sounds wonderful, Margaret.

        • Margaret Powling

          Yes, it’s been a pleasantly restful day, Eloise. And I only cooked egg and bacon for supper rather than making chicken curry. But I will be cooking tomorrow, and sometime during the day the new freezer will arrive. WE have been ‘promised’ strong winds tomorrow, too, with an Amber weather warning. Funny how we ever managed in the 1950s/60s/70s without all these warnings. It’s autumn, approaching winter, we have strong westerly winds, we simply used to put up with it and stayed indoors if it pelted with rain (or put on raincoats and wellies if we had to go out.) Indeed, most if not all children wore raincoats and wellington boots to school when it rained, and changed into indoor shoes when they got to school. What happened to common sense, I wonder?

  9. Girls Chrystal was my comic of choice, but I always had a Girl Annual for Christmas.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Anna. Although I used to see Girls Crystal in our shop I never really liked it because I was a lazy reader and only liked the story strips and Girls Crystal had more real stories! What an admission, ha ha! The Girl annual was lovely, though, wasn’t it? So colourful in an age when most things in print were in black and white with the occasional colour plate to liven things up.

  10. Thank heavens I am not the only one who dislikes Halloween, it is All souls night, not some tacky American commercial enterprise.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you for your comment, Edna. It seems we are unanimous in disliking Trick or Treat and would prefer a return to the tradition of All Souls Night, or Hallowe’en as we now know it.

  11. I was delighted to see a photo of Barry when I opened your post. He looks so very cute and snugly on the rug. And I expect he has chosen the comfiest spot on the couch. Our cat is very good at doing same 🙂

    We’ve had respite from our humid late spring with two days of good heavy showers here in our part of the globe. The grass has turned green as if by magic – whereas last week it looked as if it would catch alight if a spark were to occur. The temperature and humidity has plummeted. Lovely. I used the opportunity to do some extra cooking and housework jobs whilst it’s been cool – the opposite of ‘make hay while the sun shines’ as my friend’s dear late mother used to say ! I’m always curious as to how the weather bureau (or Bureau of Meterology as it’s called here in Australia) distinguishes between ‘rain’ and ‘showers’ in their weather forecasts – and whatsmore how do they calculate the percentage probability of rain. I think it’s more like a few people sitting around with a thesaurus and a coin to toss (such as ‘heads it’s light showers with sunny periods or tails it’s sunny day with intermittent showers’) to devise the forecast for each day. Or maybe they roll the dice 😉

    I enjoyed a DVD also – ‘Her Majesty Mrs Brown’ with Judi Dench (as Queen Victoria) and Billy Connolly (as her Scottish Highlander servant, John Brown). I had seen it at the movies when it was released c 1999 and had forgotten much of it. Anything with Judi Dench gets my vote. I adored her and Geoffrey Palmer in ‘As Time Goes By’. This tv series was very popular in Australia and has been screened many times.

    I enjoyed reading those comic strips. Very sweet.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, Barry certainly knows how to make himself at home, Lara! He was here yesterday evening, too, when his mummy and daddy went to the theatre (a comedian, not one they particularly like but they thought it might be fun – and it was all that was on). Barry curled up with my husband on one of our two sofas in the sitting room and went to sleep. But as soon as they were approaching he was up and barking long before we knew they their car was pulling up outside.
      Yes, Mrs Brown is a good film, Judi Dench is one of our bet actors. But she learned her craft when speaking well was part of the profession – sadly many actors now mumble, simply because it’s fashionable not to annunciate clearly.
      Oh, the weather forecasts! We tend to watch News 24 and the weather seems to be on every 15 minutes or so! No, I’ve no idea how they differentiate between showers and rain! Maybe someone stands outside with a raincoat. If it becomes slightly damp, that’s a shower, if they are totally drenched, that’s rain! But glad you have had some respite from the hot weather. Here, we’re awaiting the forecasted ex-hurricane which is meant to be hitting the coast of Ireland as we speak, then it will move northwards to Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and possibly parts of the UK mainland, especially in the south where we are. The wind is strengthening, but hey, it’s autumn, we get these high winds at this time of the year! In Ireland schools have been closed in anticipation of 80mph winds. Sensible, because if the powers that be know this hurricane (or the tail end of it) is coming and they’ve not taken precautions, they would be then held accountable.

  12. How cosy does Barry look enjoying his afternoon snooze, my old Labrador is 13 years old and a tad creaky with arthritis so spends much of her day sleeping, she even has a special orthopaedic bed to support her elderly joints, spoilt? No never ☺️
    Another one here not keen on Halloween or Samhain as it can be called. As we live on the outskirts of the village down a longish, dark gravel drive we don’t tend to get many visitors, the first year I lived here I did buy some chocolate treats just in case but ended up having to eat them myself, it’s a tough job etc

    • Margaret Powling

      What a good idea, Elaine, to have aorthopaedic bed for your dog. I’d never heard of those for pets!
      It seems few people enjoy Hallowe’en, and yet it proliferates. If we stopped buying the tat in the shops, stopped carving pumpkins (what a waste, unless the pulp is turned into a meal), maybe the commercialization would disappear … but then, the manufacturers would think up something else for us to waste our money on! Oh, I do sound a misery, but I’d rather give my money to charity than buy a plastic witches outfit (I know some might say I don’t need to buy one, ha ha!)

  13. Hi Margaret,
    I’m late to the conversation, but I just wanted to add a little more from an American perspective about Halloween. I’m not sure when trick or treating became a part of the celebrations, but I know it goes back at least to the 1940s, probably earlier. It isn’t a separate part of Halloween, and there are usually parties as well, sometimes before the date itself, sometimes on the date. Bobbing for apples, etc., is what I remember from the parties in my childhood.
    We get lots of trick-or-treaters at our house now, and the costumes are so inventive, generally homemade, but sometimes storebought, for the kiddies who love their superheroes. I have to say, that I’m not fond of the older kids coming out–if you can shave, you shouldn’t be asking for candy!

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, Christie, that echoes my feelings exactly … if you shave you shouldn’t be asking for candy, or “sweeties” as we might say here. I’ve nothing against children having fun and we love to see how inventive their costumes are, but somehow a lot of people in the UK have felt that we have imported this Trick of Treat night from America and our own Guy Fawkes/5th November celebration, which has been going for centuries, has taken something of a back seat, it coming so close to Hallowe’en. But we always give sweets to children, we wouldn’t wish to spoil their fun. Thank you for commenting, lovely to hear from you.

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