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Out and About

We had some errands to attend to this morning. First, a visit to the DIY store, B&Q, for bits and pieces for husband.  We weren’t long in there and then we drove to Totnes to return two dresses I bought, rather rashly, a couple of weeks ago. Nothing wrong with them, they just didn’t suit me.  I made the mistake of thinking that a shift-style dress which covered lumps and bumps would look better than a clingy one which showed the extra curves, those we weren’t born with but which we have acquired over the years.  But no, a shapeless dress simply makes me look like an oblong on legs.  Furthermore, one of the dresses had a small percentage of wool in it, and wool makes me itch.  I thought I could get away with just a small part being wool, but no.  The moment I tried it on again at home I realized that, too, was a mistake. So both have been returned.

We then decided to have a snack lunch in our favourite sea front hotel and as it was a nice day, then have a stroll along the beach.

The sun was pouring into the conservatory area, it was lovely in there. We only had a round of beef club sandwiches which come with a few chips and salad, just sufficient for a light lunch. And as I’m regaining my appetite after being unwell, we had a round each today, rather than our usual shared round.

As I mentioned recently, the Christmas decorations are already in place and it all looks very nice, but with seven weeks still to go until Christmas I’m sure the staff at least will be fed up with looking at them by the time Christmas comes.

There is one very tall tree in the foyer and smaller trees elsewhere on the ground floor, with garlands around the fireplaces and the archway between the lounge and the bar.

A view of the hotel from the Green between the hotel and the beach

The beach with just a few people today, walking their dogs

During the week, another magazine arrived, and now I have all four of the Christmas issues of my favourite style magazines.  I really don’t know which one I’d choose if I wasn’t familiar with these titles and I were standing in front of a newsagent’s magazine stand … I wonder which you think is the most enticing as a Christmas read?

While we were in Totnes this morning I decided to treat us to two small boxes of chocolate. I adore rose and violet creams. Well, any chocolate creams really, and Beech’s have several flavours including ginger and lemon, but in the end I chose coffee and violet.

When we returned home, having had a walk and a light lunch, we decided to watch some more episodes of The Collection, a 2-DVD set that I received during the week.  This drama series was shown on one of the pay-for channels, perhaps Sky, I really don’t recall, and so when it appeared on DVD I decided to buy it as we had been unable to see it.  We have seen the first four episodes and have been very much enjoying it. It’s set in a couture house in Paris in 1947 but it’s an intriguing drama, about loyalties during the German occupation during WW2, and the two brothers who run this couture house and their indomitable mother (played by Frances de la Tour.) Michael Kitchen (Foyle’s War) also has a role in this drama series.

This 2-DVD set arrived by the same post as  Homes & Antiques magazine and, once again I couldn’t help but notice how the colours chosen for both these covers were very much the same.

And so we enjoyed a couple of hours watching this lovely drama, with a cup of coffee and a couple of chocolates.  My goodness, we know how to live!

I don’t know if any of you watch the Channel 4 programme Gogglebox?  I’m not keen on ‘reality’ TV shows but this one is a little different insofar as it simply shows various couples and families watching certain TV programmes.  It has been running now for a few years and I got a bit fed up with it after a couple of series, but since the arrival of a very witty couple, Giles Wood and Mary Killen, I watch it just to hear what they have to say.  And I would add that some of the other families sometimes make some asute and witty remarks, too.  But Giles and Mary are, without a doubt, the stars for me.  And they have just written a book …

Giles is an artist specializing in portraits of rooms (rather than people), and Mary is a columnist/writer.  They live in a thatched cottage in Wiltshire. Giles would rather garden than get on with his work and is forever seeking peace and quiet, and Mary is gregarious, loves to visit London and meet friends.  This is a diary in a year in their lives and it’s both funny and moving.  I absolutely loved it.

My current reading is Claire Tomalin’s autobiography …

I am about half way through this book, which reads as easily as any novel, with elements of the novel contained therein, i.e. equal quantities of triumph and tragedy.  Her first husband, Nicholas Tomalin, was killed on an assignment as a war correspondent and she is now married to novelist and playwright, Michael Frayn.

And later I hope to listen to a CD which has arrived today.  Yes, I still occasionally buy CDs. I haven’t a clue about ‘downloads’.  This one is Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. I’ve loved the overture for years but I don’t know whether or not I know the rest of this music, but it will be interesting to find out.  But how could I not enjoy his music when he wrote the marvellous West Side Story, surely one of the finest musicals of the 20th century?

This is a 1991 recording with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

Tomorrow it is Armistice Day and Remembrance Day on Sunday.  A time of the year for reflection. May you have a peaceful weekend.

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 like your lunch out! How civilised & somewhat elegant: nice, proper sandwiches, not great chunky designer rubbish; just a few chips; and a salad. It’s ironic how closer fitting clothes make one look better rather than loose ones, when trying to ‘minimise’ the extra curves. A couple of years ago, a stylish tried to put me into floaty chintzy clothes & I felt like a whale – I just looked like a fat lady trying not to look fat. Armistace Day: is this when the Queen is involved in remembrance ceremony? I love British ceremony, so stepped in tradition. My ex husband (decades ago) is a returned serviceman, and our Anzac Day is the most important day of the year for him. But these days are for us all to pay respect, I feel.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, the loose dress made me look like I was wearing a sack. OK if you are a zero size but not with my curves.

      We have Armistice Day, the 11th of November, when many people observe two minutes’ silence at 11 o’clock in the morning, but many years ago the Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in London, when Her Majesty lays a wreath on behalf of the nation, is on the Sunday closest to Armistice Day. This year Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, will lay the wreath on behalf of the Queen, and Her Majesty will observe from a window in the building close by. This is an indication of the gradual movement of duties once carried out by the Queen to the Prince of Wales, and this is understandable, the Queen now in her 90s. Yes, Anzac Day will be the most important day in the calendar for New Zealand and Australia, and I think it’s good that we spend just two minutes once a year reflecting on those who gave their lives for us. The ceremony in Whitehall is always a very moving one, especially the march past after the service by the veterans. This column of men and women who served our country and the commonwealth, rather than becoming smaller each year, tends to grow with veterans from the many conflicts since 1939/1945.

  2. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    House & Garden would be my choice if going just by the appeal of the cover.
    What a(nother) coincidence. You will think that I am just saying this for effect but my chocolate choices would have been coffee, ginger and rose & violet in that order! A friend often includes Beeches chocolates In my birthday present.

    Strangely another thing we have in common are those acquired curves. I feel rather like my son when he received his first pay packet from a summer holiday job and saw how much tax he had paid. He complained that no one had asked if he wanted to join!

    I feel sorry for people who work in those shops which continually play Christmas songs from the start of November. Looking at decorations would be less traumatic, I think!
    My current reading material comprises the latest Peter James detective Roy Grace novel, and a re-reading of David Crystal’s Stories of English….(a history of language book). I’d not been aware of Claire Tomalin until you mentioned her the other day.

    My mum used to love Armistice Day. She was the standard bearer for the local British Legion for several years and was terribly proud of her army service. I have probably mentioned this before, but visiting the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas was one of the most moving experiences I ever had.

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, what a coincidence, that you love Beech’s chocolate creams! I think, after having had the coffee ones, I still prefer the violet and/or rosecreams. Must get to Totnes on my own soon, so that Someone won’t know how many boxes I’m likely to purchase!
      Oh, that’s funny about our son and his first pay packet. A bit like when I started school, age 5. Being an only child with only a much-younger cousin living nearby to play with, I’d had no contact with other children before starting school (no playgroups in 1949) and when I found I had to go on the second day I decided I’d been once and didn’t like it and decided I wouldn’t go again. But I soon learned that this wasn’t optional, a bit like tax!
      How wonderful that you have visited the National Memorial Arboretum. We visited Tynecot when we had a long weekend in Bruges some years ago, that was very moving too. All those war graves, so plain and simple (designed by Lutyens) but so poignant. And we also went to the Menin Gate in Ypres.
      House & Garden is lovely. I’m having it for 1 year as it was a good offer. But it’s not my favourite magazine, I think that is still The English Home. But there are some lovely features in Homes & Antiques and this month the historic house visited is Castle Howard in Yorkshire (dressed in all its Christmas finery.)

  3. I find the cover of The English Home the most enticing. Your comment “an oblong on legs” was hilarious – it gave me such a picture in my mind! The Collection started on our PBS channel a few weeks ago. I tried one episode and didn’t even finish as I just couldn’t get into it. Your mention of Michael Kitchen makes me wonder if I was wrong in my snap judgment as I really enjoy him. You and your husband sure do know how to live – I agree.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I like The English Home cover, but there again, I like them all! Glad I gave you a laugh, but I really did look like a lump of wood in a shapeless dress. The problem with The Collection is we have difficulty hearing n what some of the actors say, in particular the American wife of the leading actor who plays Paul Sabine, head of the couture house. Americans, while often speaking faster than we English, usually pronounce their words well so that we can understand what they say, but this woman mumbles – well, she does to me – much of the time. So far Michael Kitchen has only had a small role, but we’re only at the end of episode 4 and there are four more to go. It is a slow-burner, but somehow I’m enjoying it.
      Yes, sandwiches and half a pint of beer, a DVD and some chocolates – that’s living, isn’t it!

  4. Welcome back to blogland Margaret! I’m so happy that you blog is up and running again. When I wrote a comment the other day and said I could access your blog, the next day I couldn’t when I tried. All of your new magazines look like a good read especially the Homes Antiques since I love anything with history. I have never tried violet creams although I do see them on the Fortnum and Mason website. They sound heavenly. Your book reviews come in handy as I just finished The Haunting which I learned about from your blog post. It was a very good book indeed. Tomorrow is Veterans Day here in the USA; a day to honor those veterans who fought in many battles. I hope you enjoy your weekend. Pat

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Pat! Yes, I think overall I’m drawn to the cover of Homes & Antiques. It is unusual in shades of grey and black with touches of red, not the usual red/green cover, or the more modern silver look.
      I am sure that the chocolate creams from Fortnum & Mason would be rather expensive. These from Beech’s are very reasonably priced at around £2.50 for a small box of ten chocolates.
      So glad you enjoyed The Haunting, I thought it was a lovely story.
      Today is our Armistice Day, as the First World War stopped at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month so that would be 11 o’clock on the 11th November 1918, and we all stop for two minutes silence then, and again tomorrow on Remembrance Day when we watch the ceremony from The Cenotaph in Whitehall, London.
      Yes, you enjoy your weekend, too, Pat.

  5. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Hello Margaret,
    I have always been the same with wool, I find in the past it makes my skin prickle and itch , and I won’t put up with that for the sake of fashion, we need to feel comfortable don’t we. I am also a huge fan of rose and violet creams, violet being my favourite, but creams in general are my favourite chocolates. I love your book recommendations I shall be buying the book by Giles and Mary, I have just had a preview of it on Amazon, I am going to enjoy that for sure.
    Have a lovely weekend.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Marlene, and yes, even the thought of that dress with a little bit of wool in it can make me want to scratch. I once bought a cashmere jumper, a beautiful one at great expense thinking it would be different from wool, but no, the moment I picked it up I started to itch. I can remember even as a child when my mother bought me a little white angora bolero to wear over a party dress (it was cold weather!) that really itched with it’s long strands of angora wool. So I only wear cotton or man-made fibres (which aren’t as nice as wool) next to my skin. A wool coat is fine, it doesn’t have loose fibres like a jumper, but jumpers and dresses with any wool are total no-nos.
      The Giles & Mary book is very short, Marlene. You will be through it in a couple of reading sessions, so while it’s great fun, bear in mind it’s a very fast read. I saw them on Gogglebox last night. Giles was slurping his tea and Mary was trying to prevent him from doing that – he claimed he was drawing in air with the tea to cool it!

  6. I always seem to be taking things back because the fit is not to my liking and they look better on the hanger than on me! I am putting the Giles and Mary book on my Christmas wish list – they are my favourites too.
    English Home is the one I would go for it must be the warm gold colour of the front cover.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Viv. Yes, clothes look lovely on the hanger in a shop, they also look great on five foot ten size zero models. When you are five foot two and a little chubby the effect of a shift dress in a size that fits has the ‘oblong-on-legs’ effect, sadly. Something fitted actually looks better on a larger person than a shapeless shift.
      The Giles and Mary book is lovely, but it is a quick read, but worth it for the enjoyment, a bit like a nice box of chocolates.

  7. Hello Mrs Powling, I am very happy to be able to access your blog again. When you read a certain blog regularly and then suddenly find you can’t access it, it’s upsetting, a bit like not being able to get through to a friend, I think. I did try to get your email address through Google, instead was directed to certain sites which had published your articles over the years, so I enjoyed reading those in the meantime:)
    I like the cover of house and garden. The colours look very appealing and christmassy to me.
    I have never had violet creams before. Would certainly like to try them sometime:)

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Kavitha, and thank you for looking in again. I’m also delighted you have been able to access some of my writings. But my blog is now back working again. I’ve no idea what happened, but I was told that it was the ‘hosts’ fault and I now have a new host for my blog.
      It seems that House & Garden and also The English Home have been the most popular of the covers, and I agree they do seem the most ‘Christmassy’ of the four I have shown.
      Violet creams are delicious. I hope to buy more of these for Christmas. We have favourite sweets for Christmas, among which are sugared almonds and Turkish delight.

  8. When I read the first one or two sentences I cheekily thought ‘I wonder if Margaret found the correct bits for her husband’, as if he needed a grease and oil change or a few rusty bits replaced ! If only it were so easy to replace our body’s faulty parts 😉

    Your lunch looks lovely. Mind you, since I’ve eaten gluten-free for several years (medical reasons, I’m certainly not following a fad), anything with REAL BREAD makes me salivate. Gluten free bread can be as enjoyable as the packaging, depending on the brand.

    Your sand is quite orange in tone compared to ours (east coast of Australia). Beaches on the west coast of New Zealand have black sand which can take a bit of getting used to 🙂

    I would enjoy all of those magazines and feast on every article, photo and advertisement. I love love love reading magazines from other countries and have a fixation with television shows featuring English real estate. Location Location Location with Kirsty and Phil in particular.

    I don’t decorate our house much at all for Christmas. In my twenties and early thirties I always had a freshly cut pine for a Christmas tree and would decorate the house – twinkling lights outside too. The smell was divine – until early January when you dragged it out of the house leaving a trail of dead pine needles behind you. The past 10-15 years I have used a small artificial tree that stands about 30cm tall and several Christmas-themed ornaments which I group together on our sideboard. I no longer do Christmas cards – once upon a time I did about 30 each December but stamps are now $AU1.00 each and most people use text or email these days. Our family don’t buy / exchange gifts between the adults (this suits us). Mum and I do things together instead of gifts – last year we went to a nail salon in a large(ish) shopping centre the week before Christmas and had a relaxing manicure / pedicure (where we sat in the massage chairs and read trashy magazines offered to us). I paid for her and mum paid for me ! win-win.

    I enjoyed ‘The Collection’ when it screened a few months ago on our version of pay tv called Foxtel. It’s funny that one of the comments was about Americans speaking fast – or at least the character of Paul Sabine’s wife. Australians have a reputation for speaking fast. When I’m with my Aunty we speak quite fast – my late grandmother (who was Eastern European) would chastise us ! When hubbie and I were in US (west coast) several years ago we were asked many times if we were English and a couple of times if we were from NZ (aka ‘Kiwis’).

    Like Ratnamurti in NZ, ANZAC Day is our major day of remembrance in Australia. At 11am on 11/11 we also have a minute’s silence.

    • Margaret Powling

      It is so good, Lara, that you also hold remembrance services as we do here, you with ANZAC Day and we with our Armistice Day (yesterday) and today with Remembrance Sunday. Just two minutes a year is little enough time to spend remembering those who fought on our behalf and often lost their lives.
      We have now watched five episodes of The Collection and are really enjoying it – apart from the actress (to be politically correct I suppose I should say actor, but how then do we differentiate between a male and female? Or perhaps it’s best not even to try!) who plays Paul Sabine’s wife who speaks very badly regardless what nationality she is. How lovely it was to hear Michael Kitchen speak, how clearly he annunciates his words but doesn’t sound ‘actorly’!
      I still send about 80 cards each Christmas, and we also hand-deliver cards to several neighbours, so we must buy about 100 cards in total. But we still enjoy receiving cards from friends and relatives whom we seldom see, it keeps us in touch once a year. Sadly this year a few more have fallen from their perches, but I continue to make new friends so the balance of cards being sent remains much the same.
      Husband is sitting next to me at his computer and I mentioned his bits and pieces and we had a good laugh. He wouldn’t trust me to find the right bits and pieces to put him together! But yes, if only replacing our faulty body parts was that simple! I mentioned the black sand to him and he said, “That’s not sand, it’s coal!”

  9. Hello Margaret, is this the Mary Killen who has an advice column, for social difficulties, in the Spectator?
    I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and am captivated, I must confess you are my ‘carrot.’ Do a few chores then I may read a few blog entries, and am reading my way through from the beginning.
    I don’t know if I can comment on long-past postings. It’s late here in the USA, good night.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Sheila, and how kind of you to leave a comment after ‘discovering’ my blog. Yes, you are quire right, it is Mary Killen, and she is married to artist, Giles Wood. Together, they have appeared on the Channel 4 programme, Gogglebox (a bit of nonsense, currently not on TV but which has had several series) in which ordinary families are shown watching TV programmes and commenting on them – sometimes, it’s very funny indeed, and Giles can be very droll. I only watch the show to see ‘Giles and Mary in their Wiltshire cottage’. Sometimes they are doing other tasks while watching; for example, on the last programme I watched, they were sorting out a basket filled with socks and trying (but not succeeding!) to pair them up.
      My goodness, you will have your work cut out, reading my blog from the beginning (August 2016). But I hope you enjoy it. Of course, some of the photos might, by now, have been removed from early posts by the website ‘host’, but many will still be there. Yes, if you wish to comment on long-past posts, please do so. When comments arrive for me to ‘approve’ the website tells me to which post the comment refers. It is early morning here on Wednesday, just gone 5 am, but I went to bed early so had seven hours sleep before 4 am, so am up now with my first cup of coffee of the day, a day which promises to be as sunny as the last few we have had.

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