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More Little Luxuries

Surely, it must be one of life’s luxuries to be able to see a glorious sunrise when so many people have limited vision because of macular degeneration or other sight problems.  This was the sunrise this morning, and a glorious sight it was.  The sun now rises to the south of our house, not as easterly as it does in the summer, above the sea.  Seldom is the sky this brilliant colour at any other time of the year, and although I was just out of bed I rushed to get my camera before the sky changed, which it was doing moment by moment.

And then it was gone, and the whole sky became a pastel, uniform grey.  Just ten to fifteen minutes of Nature’s paintbrush, and then it was as if Nature had suddenly ripped that up her painting and presented us with a fresh, blank canvas.

Last Christmas our elder son and his wife gave me a lovely present of a top from Crew Clothing. I really liked it, but it was just a little bit tight and so I returned it to what is the ‘best’ department store in Torquay.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have my size in stock, and they checked with Crew Clothing and the larger size was completely out of stock.  Therefore, I accepted a gift card, to be used at any time within the next year.  I had carried this gift card in my wallet ever since, but time was drawing close to when it would be void and so, today, off we went so that I could search for something nice to spend it on.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see any clothes I liked, even if I decided to put the gift card amount towards something more expensive.  I am finding that so many of the various companies now tend to produce much the same kind of clothes:  thin fabrics, some cotton, some silky, none of which appeal to me; either loose fitting to cover lumps and bumps and which make everyone over a zero size look pregnant; or with pleats over the ‘middle’ which again isn’t a flattering look.  I looked at clothes by Sea Salt, Joules, Crew Clothing, The White Stuff, Masai, Jaeger, and many others, and they were all much the same.  Most of the higher-priced items were long and flowing, so that I’d have looked like a ship in full sale wearing them (and in danger of tripping up on the loose material were I not to have them shortened, costing yet more money) and the cheaper makes were often tunic-like, not flattering for a short-waist apple-shape like me, as the hem is at the widest part of the body.

I have said long and often to my husband how difficult it is to find dresses that are in lovely materials and flattering to my shape, and he said I’d obviously not looked (trust a man to come out with a silly statement like this!) but today he had to admit they were all tarred with the same brush.   Shapeless sacks, skimpy fabrics, nasty patterns, poorly put together (with the exception of Jaeger, which was nice but have you seen this season’s leading colour for their coat?  It is neon blue … I felt I had to shade my eyes to look at it!  My goodness, I’ve seen dimmer traffic lights.)

And so, after looking around three floors of clothes, including hats – my goodness, a woolly pull-on hat with a fake fur ‘bobble’, like a rabbit’s scut, was priced at £59 – and bags; a Michael Kors that was quite nice, but certainly not nice enough for me to part with over £250, therefore I decided to buy perfume.  You really can’t go wrong with a bottle of good perfume; it doesn’t need to be tried on, just sniffed, and if you are familiar with a number of  fragrances, all the better, you just need to choose one that you currently don’t have.  And so I came home with a bottle of eau de parfum

I have loved Chanel No 19 for more than 30 years since my husband brought a bottle home from a business trip.  In those days you could buy replacement bottles for atomizers, but atomizers are no longer necessary as most bottles of perfume are now their own atomizer.  However, I have kept that original atomizer as a keepsake, as I have other bottles (now empty) of perfume from all those years ago.  As soon as I got home I opened the lovely package and knew I’d made the right decision:  a classic fragrance instead of a poorly made, mass produced dress.

Yesterday, we popped into what we call our ‘local’, the hotel on the sea front, for sandwiches …

Our usual beef club sandwiches, with salad and a few chips …

And today, we called again, and this time we shared a round and had coffee (which comes with biscuits) …

For a change we had smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber club sandwiches, and they were lovely, and even though we only had two quarters each, they were very filling.

The title of this post is More Little Luxuries in which I include the lovely sunrise, the perfume, lunch yesterday and today in our favourite sea front hotel, but also flowers.  Yesterday I bought two bunches of chrysanthemums, very reasonably priced, and they are the most beautiful autumnal colours.

You could say that they’re “fresh as a daisy” and all for just £4.  That is a little luxury, is it not?

This evening, as the sun went down, the sky over the sea looked lovely, but no matter how I tried, I could not remove the reflection in the window glass (this is through a non-opening side window), but I wanted you to see it nonetheless, and if you look carefully, you can just see the moon.

Again, what luxury to be able to see such a lovely sky on the last day of November, St Andrew’s Day.

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

    I think we are all guilty Margaret of over looking life’s little luxury’s , we have so much beauty all around us, and should all take more time “stop and smell the roses” as the saying goes.
    Your husbands comment made me chuckle, bless him.
    I do love l, I have Chanel no 5, once my husband found a brand new bottle when he was a coach driver and no one claimed it, so I was kindly given it. I do love perfumes. I scrimp and save on everyday things, but I do like decent toiletries etc.
    The flowers look beautiful, very good value, and I bet they will last a while.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, life’s little luxuries should not be ignored and so many are free … washing that is line-dried and smells of fresh air, flowers in our parks and gardens, sunrises and sunsets, even a rainy day for where would we be without rain? Lovely cloud formations (and I have contemplated joining the Cloud Appreciation Society!) and seeing the changing of the seasons. It’s not all a case of throwing money at things, having the latest electrical gizmo, is it? I save on some things in order to buy what I think is worthwhile, quality food, nice clothes (I’d rather have one decent coat than twenty dish-rag T-shirts), flowers and perfume. Oh, and books and magazines, of course, but they are like food and drink to me. Well, food, because apart from the bottle of Tia Maria recently purchased, we don’t ‘drink’.

  2. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Little luxuries, as we have often said, are the best. Not least because they are affordable luxuries. Indeed they are sometimes even better than affordable; they’re free. Sunrises, sunsets, rainbows, mackerel skies….we just have to look up and there are so of the best free little luxuries in the world.

    I do so agree that the clothes in the shops are very uninspiring. I used to really like Masai clothing and have a great favourite lightweight coat but in the past couple of years, I’ve seen nothing that makes me think….Wow, I want that!
    A bottle of favourite perfume always works as a treat. Best of all, there are never problems with it fitting!

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, mackerel skies are lovely, not seen one for a while, though. I’d never heard of Masai clothing until today. I thought they were a tribe in Africa! But perhaps that’s where the company stems from, or their designs stem from. As you say, nothing makes us stop and say, “Wow, I want that!” Sad, isn’t it, when we are prepared to part with money and we can’t find anything remotely tempting. Hence my perfume purchase, but I’m so delighted with it and the fragrance makes me very nostalgic for the days, 20 years ago, when husband was at work and often went abroad and sometimes – although not always, for these were business trips, not holidays – a duty-free bottle of something rather nice, whether it was a bottle containing five Dior miniatures, a lovely flacon of Opium by YLS (the original one, the current one isn’t a patch on the original which I absolutely loved) and the aforementioned Chanel 19.

  3. Chanel 19 is my summer scent. Chanel 22 is what I wear in winter. Unfortunately, 22 can only be purchased in Chanel Boutiques. A very dear friend gave me a bottle for my 50th birthday. He said it was the best shopping experience of his life and that if he had to buy a gift for any other women, he’d definitely go back.

    I hate shopping for clothes, I joke that is why I became a nurse, just put on a uniform. As long as it’s clean, I’m good. My favourite dress shop has changed direction and became a destination for er, more mature women than me (and I’m nearly 60). I used to be able to go in and easily pick several outfits, now, it’s hard to find anything I want.

    • Margaret Powling

      I have never experienced Chanel 22, but what praise for the boutiques! Yes, just to put on a uniform is a kind of clothes freedom, isn’t it? You know exactly what you are going to wear and in a way it also makes you that person, whether it’s a nurse, airline pilot, serviceman or -woman, even the refuse collectors. Yes, there are shops which seem to cater for more mature women, but even though I’m 73 I don’t feel I’ve reached that stage yet!

  4. What a spectacular sunrise Margaret, the colours are simply stunning and like you say, it’s Mother Natures portrait gallery.

    It’s very hard these days to find any decent clothes isn’t it, everything seems to be set up for a throw away society, that is pay little for it, wear it a once or twice and then bin it. I must admit I no longer find clothes shopping at all exciting, I’m not a seamstress in anyway but will look at the hems etc of any new purchase and nothing seems to be of much quality does it, even with a heftier price tag.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, the sunrise was lovely, Elaine.
      I really dislike buying clothes now and even the more expensive ones aren’t made as well as they used to me. I can remember facings and hems and skirts with linings, there is nothing like this now, everything is so skimpy, even those with larger price tags. I’m back in jeans and jumper again today, it’s very cold. But then, it is the 1st December, it’s not mid summer.

  5. I agree Margaret – expensive clothes are also now not so well made. And what a pity that people don’t know how to hem by hand anymore. The sunrises are beautiful. Most magical time of day, to me.

    • Margaret Powling

      I remember being able to hem and mend clothes, Ratnamurti, it was part of our education. Hems now tend to be machine sewn and just don’t look as good as a proper hem that has been hand stitched. I feel sorry that young women today won’t be able to experience the quality clothes similar to those I bought in the 1960s. Yes, they were a bit above-average price-wise, but they weren’t out of my reach on a moderate wage. The same quality today would be prohibitively expensive, even if you could find it.

      • I was taught to have less, but better quality so that they lasted. Consumerism seems to have produced a “must have” society. Sadly.

        • Margaret Powling

          Yes, fewer things and better quality is a very good mantra, Ratnamurti. Sadly, I couldn’t find anything at all that I liked the look of, expensive or not. But thankfully, I have the new floral dress which looks quite nice. It’s never going to look stunning on my little dumpy body, but at least I don’t look like I’m wearing Santa’s sack!

  6. I was going to leave a comment on your clothes buying post (very smart purchases btw) to say that I have a Christmas Day tradition of wearing my beautiful red wool crepe Bickler dress which I bought to wear to my best friend’s wedding in December 1987. It still fits like a dream and and I adore wearing it. I remember (because I always remeber such things) that it cost £89, but when I think of how many parties it has been to and how it makes me feel it is priceless. I only have a small wardrobe but half is devoted to clothes that date back 10, 20, 30 years because I agree with you that the quality is simply not there today. When my son graduated in 2016 I searched high and low for a new summer dress but to no avail. Too skimpy, poor fabric, badly made. So when in March this year I spotted a dress in Jigsaw that I liked I did not hesitate to try it on and bought it without a second thought. It has graced my daughter’s 21st birthday in April, her graduation in July and our 25th wedding anniversary in September and gives me pleasure every time I open my wardrobe. Back to this current post now and I love the sunrise and those gorgeous chrysanthemums. We saw a beautiful sunset at Uppark today. We had popped in for a pot of tea on our way home from the walking the Coffin Walk around Emsworth harbour. I have made two luxury purchases this week Margaret, both possibly influenced by you. Yesterday after my haircut in town I treated myself to a new Laura Mercier lipstick from Space N.K where the young lady assistants are excellent on colours etc and today I bought from a little antique shop in Emsworth one lone Waterford crystal champagne flute. I collect odd but nice glasses and was delighted to find this one to add to my collection. The dealer wanted twelve pounds, I cheekily offered five and he accepted. Antiques Road Trip has a lot to answer for … Hope you’re having a lovely evening. Tomorrow we’re going to Hinton Ampner and then to Gilbert White’s house at Selborne – two of my favourite houses, especially when they are decorated for Christmas.

    • Margaret Powling

      Our red dress sounds wonderful. I just wish I could fit into the clothes I wore years ago (even if I had them all, which I haven’t but I do have a lovely red velvet long dress I wore to a dance in 1972 and that is gorgeous, I simply can’t part with it.) But the modern clothes are, in the main, poorly made from inferior fabrics and even if I wished to shell out hundreds of pounds on one dress, which I don’t wish to do, I seem unable to find something in a style to suit me so live in trousers and jeans for the most part. Well done on finding a dress in Jigsaw, money well spent if it will serve for several occasions.
      I love the sounds of the Waterford crystal champagne flute! When it was the occasion of my husband’s 20th year with his company, they gave him an amount of money (as they did all employees on serving 20 years) an amount of money with which to buy a ‘present’ and then they would be given the present at a special tea party, to which wives (and husbands if the wife were the person to be presented) were invited. We chose the present together, and while most people chose electrical goods, we chose two Waterford decanters and we still have them when I expect most electrical goods from 1983 will have long been consigned to the tip. £5 for a crystal glass is such a bargain, too. And the lipstick sounds a lovely buy, too. I’ve not had a Laura Mercier one, I must try one of those before too long.
      I have never been to Hinton Ampner but I should love to visit there, I do know the story of the property and have Ralph Dutton’s book, A Hampshire Manor.

  7. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    I still hem by hand ad do minor mending. I’m not sure that my daughter or daughters in law even poses a needle and thread!

    • Margaret Powling

      Actually, I confess that if I have any mending to be done, husband usually does it. He’s much neater at it than I am!

  8. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Possess … auto correct thinks it knows everything!

  9. Hello Margaret, love the photos of the sunrise and the autumn colours of the chrysanthemums. Agree with you re trying to find nice smart clothing that is also of decent quality. Dresses don’t really suit my pear shape so I tend to stick to separates. I don’t wear jeans, I have bought them numerous times but they always finish up at the charity shop, they just don’t seem to fit right and feel stiff and uncomfortable. I buy some items at E W M but find a lot of their stuff frumpy! I am 70 and I often think if I am not going to wear it, who is? When are manufacturers going to realise the baby boomers were at the forefront of fashion and design in the 1960’s and certainly do not want to look frumpy just because we are in our 60’s and 70’s now! I tend to stick to classic separates, usually in neutral cool tones and brighten things up with a scarf and/or handbag.
    I suppose they are a couple of my little luxuries (scarves and bags I mean, though none of them are expensive) but so agree that there are lots of little luxuries that don’t cost a thing. One of mine is to just have a quiet hour or two to myself, to read or do a crossword, give myself a manicure and just appreciate some ‘me’ time. We all need our little luxuries, they just make life worthwhile. X

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Dot, and I agree, jeans are a nightmare to get to fit properly. But really, they were originally designed as work clothes for men, weren’t they, and men aren’t our shape! Men don’t have wide hips and well-padded posteriors (well, most of them don’t). My husband can wear jeans beautifully as he’s straight up and down, no bulges like we women. Only women with boyish figures (and I’ve seen few of those recently) can wear jeans successfull, unless they diet stringently and are a six foot size 10 (English size 10.) The closest I can get to fit are Marks & Spencer High Rise Per Una Embellished jeans. I’d rather they weren’t ’embellished’ (some black beads on the pockets of the black jeans, navy ones on the indigo jeans) but at least they are a reasonable fit.
      Oh, EWM … about 30 years ago they had some very nice things. I once bought a lovely camel wrap coat from EWM and some lovely skirts, dirndl style (I could get away with them then!) in wonderful soft heather colours and lovely cowl neck jumpers in jewel shades and a lovely neat little cropped jacket in chocolate brown which I loved. They have gone downhill since then and are hell-bent on making women of a certain age look even older! Don’t they realize that we might be in our 70s but we still want to look smart (I shudder from using the word ‘trendy’ but I can’t think of an alternative right now.)
      Oh, yes, scarves are a little luxury (unless they are very expensive Hermes) and I found my lovely blue silk Jaeger scarf in a charity shop, and the creamy, black and gold one on which I photographed my new bottle of Chanel 19. I wear this scarf with my black jeans and a white shirt or an off-white (not wool, but a wool look-alike). And yes, having some ‘me’ time is, indeed, a luxury in our fast-paced lives.

      • Thanks for the tip about jeans from M&S, I will have to check those out. The cream and black scarf is lovely, I have several scarves which were bought in charity shops ( no Hermes unfortunately!) x

        • Margaret Powling

          The jeans are cotton, not denim, Dot. They are OK, not wonderful but at least they fit around my waist and derriere. Regarding Hermes scarves, I was once given one as a present but it was an awful colour so I couldn’t wear it and in the end sold it in a clothes exchange shop, or whatever they are called where you can sell clothes 2nd hand, not a charity shop. The scarf would have cost around £200 in those days, and I got £25 for it, but it was no use to me as it was bright, and I mean BRIGHT blue. Not a nice shade, a really in-your-face colour, quite awful. What a shame, and such a beautiful quality.

  10. I have really enjoyed reading this post and all of the beautiful comments. Alas I feel I can only echo what everyone has said before me – perhaps this is my ‘penalty’ for being ‘late’. Ha ha. My only excuse for being late is that the humidity here makes me lethargic and everything is twice the effort……As always, your photos are beautiful. I always get an appetite reading your posts 😉

    I agree with everyone’s comments about the difficulty in finding decent clothes that fit your shape, suit your colouring, are suitable fabrics, are well made AND don’t cost an absolute fortune. Is it that we are asking too much – I don’t think so. I’m fairly confident in saying that each of us in this group are different body shapes, ages, lifestyles and yet we are all,saying the same thing.

    As we’ve said before, it’s life’s little luxuries and treats that make life enjoyable. Whether it’s something small like a new cake of soap, something free like a beautiful sunrise (or sunset) or something more substantial, it’s very much an individual thing. Gratitude is important 🙂

    • Margaret Powling

      Never worry about commenting ‘late’ Lara, I’m just delighted that you and others comment at all! But it seems world-wide, not just here, that we women are finding difficulty in finding decent, well-fitting clothes that look good and don’t cost the earth. Yes, we are all different body shapes, have different lifestyles but we all say the same thing!
      Oh, yes, a new cake of soap is a lovely little luxury! Yesterday, my little luxury was the latest issue of a lovely magazine.

  11. Hello Margaret,

    I think your husband, and mine must be brothers! He is for ever telling me I’ve not looked properly and that there “must be something.” So I challenged him the other day saying, “OK you find it,” he tried, he really tried but in the end he had to admit defeat, and I still don’t have a nice dress for Christmas.

    This is such a lovely post which I enjoyed from beginning to end. Thank you!

    • Margaret Powling

      I think most men must think like this, because it’s so easy for them. Well, relatively easy. They wear trousers, shirts, jackets. Job done. Oh, if only we could get away with a couple of lounge suits and some smart shirts and ties, wouldn’t life me so much more simple! Thank you for looking in, Barbara.

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