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Making the Most of a Wet January Day

This was my first cup of coffee of the day.  The cup looks normal size, doesn’t it?  Let me assure you that it is a breakfast-size cup and saucer and it weighs a ton when filled with coffee so that when I carry it I use both hands, and when I take my first sips I also hold it in both hands.  But that first cup of ground coffee of the day is the best one, isn’t it?

I was up early this morning and saw that it was raining.  Husband was still asleep but even on a winter’s morning, I enjoy the early morning. I mooched around the house, quietly, and had a look at a couple of my interiors/décor books. And then I realized that one of the houses in one book was also in another book – how had I missed this?  I often see the same houses in different magazines, and when this occurs I slip one magazine inside the other so that I can see the two features, side by side.  In this case it was a cottage in Wiltshire but it went under two different names in the two books:  Keeper’s Lodge and Waterside Cottage.  It is a habit – perhaps a quirk? – of mine to spot duplications of properties such as these in the various books and magazines that I buy.

 

I then decided to lay the breakfast table and make a start preparing our breakfast before making a fresh pot of coffee and taking one to my now-waking husband.  I thought, as it was such a dark and rainy morning, I would make a cooked breakfast and so we had prunes (for husband) and grapefruit (for me – I segment a fresh half grapefruit and put it into a bowl; I don’t want to be fiddling with the half a grapefruit at the table) and scrambled eggs on toast with a rasher of bacon, toast and marmalade, and apple juice and a pot of tea.  I  told husband that as the bed linen had been changed yesterday, so all was beautifully fresh last night, and he’d had coffee brought to him as he woke up, and breakfast made for him, if he was in an up-market B&B what had been provided would have cost him at least £120,  if not more!  I told him he was a very lucky chap!  But he knows that!

I thought it would be a change to have a pretty embroidered cloth on the table today, and I particularly like this one as it has blue stitching which goes well with the blue & white crockery.

After breakfast, and after I’d loaded the dishwasher and husband had made the bed, we decided we would go out.   Husband put the cushions on the bed differently from how I arrange them and wondered whether I’d notice? What a silly question, when have I missed anything like that?  But how he’s placed them looks just as nice; he thought I’d change them as they weren’t as I placed them!

The post then arrived:  two new books …

I thought I’d try this novel by Elizabeth Goudge but in a way I wish now I’d opted for an older copy, even if showing obvious signs of previous use.  This s an attractive paperback, but I think it’s one of those publish-on-demand books and somehow, while looking perfectly alright, it lacks  character. I can’t explain this, but somehow a book which was first published in 1963 should (to me, anyway) look like a 1963-published book. This one doesn’t.  To many, this won’t make any difference, the words are the same, but the book just does not look nor feel right.

The other book is …

I enjoyed Harriet Welty Rochefort’s book, Joie de Vivre, so thought I’d read one of her previous books.

The other item in the post was not as exciting as books, but infinitely more practical:  two pairs of oven gloves, the kind where you slip your hands into either end …

 

I’m not keen on ‘fancy’ kitchen items, I much prefer plain and simple. And yesterday the following item arrived …

Yes, it’s a radiator brush!  For the first time we hope to be able to clean out our the radiators, although we think we will need the vacuum cleaner alongside to vacuum the brush as it emerges, dust-full, from each section of the radiators.  But I’m leaving this job to my husband, he’ll have hours of fun doing this, won’t he?   Indeed, this brush looks much nicer than it appears here. It’s pliable and reminds me (if you overlook the handle) of the prehensile tail of a monkey, as it’s long and very soft.

After we’d tidied away the breakfast things, made the bed,  and opened the post, we decided to go to one of our favourite shops, one of those wonderful shops which sell everything that you can’t find elsewhere.  We love it there, you name it, it will have it.  And so I bought a new cake board for next Christmas (nothing like being early, eh?), eight new candles – I will have to eat my words about candles! – a new bottle of silver polish, and a new small baking tin, just large enough for a few roasted veggies for the two of us.

After that we walked back to our car in the light rain, and decided to go to our favourite sea front hotel for hot chocolate and a shared toasted tea cake. (after our cooked breakfast that was all we wanted.)

The alstromeria are now fully open and look very pretty …

And with that I will close and make 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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26 comments

  1. Another wonderful post, thank you Margaret.
    You have, in your writing skills, a special talent for taking us with you and sharing your day and your lovely home.
    Your pictures add to the delight and are excellent.
    I am very impressed that you both manage to wait to take pictures before tucking in to the meals. I do not think I could restrain my husband!!
    Pam in TX.x

    • Margaret Powling

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Pam; I gave the pea & mint soup recipe especially for you! I will write more in due course. Yes, husband knows now not to tuck into food until I’ve taken a photo – not all meals are suitable for posts, a lovely beef stew can look just like cack on a photograph, but still taste good! Some foods simply aren’t photogenic!

  2. Hello Margaret,

    I have been following your blog for a while now, as I used to live in your local town before moving to another part of Devon five years ago, when I married my husband. I know the places you write about well, and still visit this lovely area regularly, as I’m the writer-in-residence at Brixham Heritage Museum.

    I just had to comment when I saw that you had bought one of Elizabeth Goudge’s novels. I have collected many of her novels from charity shops and country fairs over the years. My favourite is ‘Gentian Hill’; such beautifully evocative descriptions of the locality and sympathetic characters, while the historical background is so real, I feel as though I am living through those times, so long ago.

    I hope you enjoy ‘The Scent of Water’ – I shall have to find my copy and read it again!

    Samantha

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Samantha, and how lovely to hear from you. I am ashamed to say that I have Elizabeth Goudge’s Gentian Hill sitting on my bookshelves but, as yet, haven’t read it! What an admission when Ms Goudge lived for a time in Westerland, not more than two miles from where I now live. However, I was just a little disappointed with the paperback of The Scent of Water, as I mentioned in my post of today and have, since then, looked for an early copy on http://www.abebooks.co.uk and have found one, hard back with dust jacket, so I shall look forward to that arriving. If I wanted simply to read the book I could invest in a Kindle, but I like the look and feel of a book, too. Yes, I know that might be considered by some to be silly, but we all have our little foibles!
      What does writer-in-residence at the Museum involve? That sounds a very interesting position.
      Again, thank you for reading my blog and for leaving a comment.

  3. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Your husband is a very lucky man, you are a wonderful homemaker Margaret. I could do with one of those radiator brushes, let me know if it works.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Marlene … mind you, I’m lucky, too, of course! I was only teasing when I told him how lucky he was! He does so much for not only me but our whole family and for anyone seeking his help. And he’s always so busy. One neighbour once remarked that he never saw my husband walking around without holding some kind of thing associated with work, whether it was a paint brush, a chisel, a ladder, garden shears, secateurs, wheelbarrow, mower …
      Already we’re pleased with the radiator brush! It’s slim enough to go down the various narrow sections in the radiator and husband pushes it down and brings it back up again, holding it in his left hand while, in his right hand, he holds the nozzle of the vacuum and as the brush emerges, he vacuums the dust clinging to the soft bristles. Well worth the money, we’d say.

  4. I love the feel and look of a book, too, Margaret. I don’t think that electronic devices will ever replace books. And like many others, I too enjoy reading about Devon, through your eyes and knowledge. Plus, I also love the way that you lay your table, I miss living like that. New Zealand is such a casual country, that even a nicely laid table is not as nice as your photograph. The summer storm and flash flooding (in areas) has passed, along with 98% humidity so I may have a wee soak in the morning sun to celebrate.

    • Margaret Powling

      I confess to having ordered an old copy, Ratnamurti. A bit extravagant, I know, but I just can’t like this modern edition even though it’s very nicely produced. How silly is that? But someone will enjoy it because I will take it, along with some other books. to the charity shop.
      There is nothing at all wrong with a casual approach to eating, Ratnamurti, and believe me, how I lay the table is fairly informal in England. I just happen to like cut glass and believe me, all the cut glass we have, apart from a pair of lovely Waterford decanters, is 2nd hand (well, many-hand as some of it is obviously very old.) It is deeply unfashionable here right now, no one buys cut glass any more, similarly ‘brown’ furniture (unless they buy it to paint) but we love cut glass even though it looks formal. I also love blue & white crockery (the Burleigh ware I use is pottery, not porcelain) and I like to decant things like jam and marmalade into dishes which, I suppose, isn’t casual, but I just think the look makes the effort worthwhile. If you like this approach, then go for it, I say. Set an example which others might follow. A dear male friend, an ex-collgeague of my husband’s when they were both working, often laughs (good naturedly, I mean!) at us when we use cups and saucers 90% of the time and not mugs (I used mugs at breakfast today as the mugs are blue & white). He says we are the last people in England to use cups and saucers, but I then explain to him how sensible cups and saucers are, the cups don’t leave ‘rings’ on tables! There is usually a reason for most things that we use. Saucers were once what we drank from. Cups originally didn’t have handles, the tea was brewed directly in the little china bowl and then tipped into the saucer to drink from. Hence, cups and saucers. Once we had teapots and cups with handles, this method was no longer necessary. As I say, there’s a reason for most things.

  5. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    What a lovely post – so much to respond to! I do love your blog, Margaret. It’s like a magazine full of all kinds of interesting bits and pieces. I have my first cup of coffee of the day as follows: 3 times a week at work, twice at the gym and twice at home. I can’t face it as soon as I get up in the morning.
    Your husband is very well cared for. I think you should negotiate half price B&B (seeing as you know him). Win-win situation!
    The cushions on the bed made me smile. Of course you would notice! Sometimes I just have to move something on the mantelpiece just a couple of inches or so, because when husband dusts he just doesn’t seem to be able to get the spacing right (I work, he doesn’t. I cook, he rarely does. We have an agreement when it comes to vacuuming and dusting)!
    I’ve not heard of Elizabeth Gouge. Book covers are very important. I once bought a paperback just because I loved the picture of a small girl in red shoes. I think it was called ‘In a good light’ by Clare Chambers and it proved a jolly good read, which only goes to prove that you CAN judge a book by its cover!
    The radiator brush looks very interesting. I’m glad to hear it is a success. I want one.
    I have a little oven glove story. Daughter in law couldn’t find her oven glove yesterday. When she went to check on two and a half year old last night, there he was fast asleep wearing the misplaced oven glove!
    No, no, no. You are not the last people to use cups and saucers. I do (though husband likes a mug). I rarely have one at home, except when he ‘forgets’, but I do have a mug for work. I can only think of one friend who uses cups and saucers. We are a dying breed!

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, Eloise, that is lovely to hear as it’s just what I wanted/intendedfrom my blog: my own personal magazine-style blog, little snippets of the things I enjoy which I hope others will also enjoy. And lovely that you, too, drink mainly from a cup and saucer! I was drinking from them long before everything vintage and pretty cups and saucers became ‘all the rage’ (dreadful expression!)
      Yes, I might negotiate a half price B&B fee for husband! Joking apart, as with your husband, we help each other. This evening he’s been vacuuming for me as he knows that the suction on our vac is so great I have difficult with it, whereas I made the supper. But, like you, I often have to go and re-arrange things slightly if he’s done the dusting, moving photo frames and stacks of books and vases of flowers to how I would have them.
      I’m glad you also feel that the covers of books are very important and, like you, I’ve often bought a book simply because I liked the look of it. But it’s not just the cover, but the feel of the book, the print, the paper and pages, and if 2nd hand even the smell (I can’t abide a book that has come from a smoker.) Mind you, publishers do tend to pay a lot of attention to covers, hence all the pink and turquoise girly covers of chick lit – they sell books!
      Oh, that’s so funny about the missing oven glove! Children!
      Now for an early night with my books. Bliss.

  6. You were very observant to notice the same house in the two magazines. My friend is a wonderful decorator and her home was featured in an Australian interiors magazine about eight years ago. Several photos accompanied a well-written article and many of her friends (including me) bought copies of the magazine to enjoy. Well a few years later she saw those same photos of her home in another magazine being used in an advertisement for a paint company – and the wall colour had been changed. We all thought it was a bit cheeky – someone using the photos of her home to advertise an interior paint brand and colour which she hadn’t used at all ! I suppose with digital photography and whatever other technologies, any old image is now up for grabs.

    Your breakfast table looks lovely, as always. The blue and white print looks particularly pretty with the white tablecloth. Your new radiator brush looks like an interesting gadget. I hope it works for you. We don’t have a heater in our house – our winters are very mild and of short duration (unfortunately for me). We have ceiling fans in most rooms and they go constantly from about September to March. The blades collect dust as they go round and round and the front edges need to be wiped over with a dry cloth every now and then but are otherwise maintenance free.

    Your hot chocolates and toasted teacakes (we call them English muffins) look like a lovely treat. I recently re-read ‘The Number One Ladies Detective Agency’ by Alexander McCall Smith with an audiobook from the library. I say ‘read’ but it was ‘listened to’. The story is set in Botswana and is so beautifully written that you feel you are there. This morning I am drinking Rooibos tea in a nod to the main character. It’s a nice change.

    This morning cat and I are heading to the vet clinic for her annual vaccination. She who is my loyal companion and laid back homebody, turns into an angry, snarling, vicious beast on these trips. I’m sure the vet staff will roll their eyes when they see us in the appointment book this morning. She has bitten or scratched (or both) almost all of them over the years. I usually take a cake with me by way of compensation-slash-apology ! She spends most of her days indoors with me, going outside to enjoy the fresh air or laze about for only an hour or so and keeps all other cats (and dogs) out of her territory. Nonetheless her vaccinations are important to give us peace of mind. No doubt I will be laying down with a cold facewasher on my forehead once we get back home !

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, poor vet and poor cat! She must be really terrified of going to the vet to react like this. But our cats were just the same. I’m sure they knew even before we got out the cat carrier that something was afoot, as we had a hard job finding them on eve-appointment-day. But how kind to make the staff a cake, that should soften the blow as they say! (I think what you refer to as a “facewasher” would be a “face flannel” to us.)
      What we had were tea cakes which in England are different from muffins, which don’t have any spice in them. Tea cakes are gently spiced, not much, but they have fruit and spice in them (nutmeg or cinnamon) and muffins are different, difficult to describe … I shall have to buy some of each and photograph them together!
      Usually, when you are featured in a magazine or have an article published in a magazine, you relinquish the rights pf the piece to the magazine and it can then do what it wants with it, sometimes distributing it among the company to publish in other magazines or even selling the photos for advertising.
      We seldom have weather in this country that demands the use of a fan for longer than a week or two, but we do have a portable fan for hot weather which we take around from room to room if the weather does turn very hot – well, very hot to us in the UK.

  7. I would not say that your ability to find the same picture in more than one place is a quirk – I would say it’s evidence of your sharp eye and discernment! Yes, your husband is a lucky chap and I’m glad to hear that he knows it.

    • Margaret Powling

      I have always been able to do this, Jeannine. I remember as a child also spotting when a room had been printed back-to-front, as years ago, when I used to read Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens (my parents had a newsagent’s shop so I could read all the style magazines) there used to be the architect’s plans of the homes and from those I learned how to read a floor plan. And then when I saw a photograph of a room and looked at there the windows and doors were and then looked at the plan, I thought, this isn’t right … and of course, the magazine had reversed the photo of the room.
      Yes, husband knows he’s a lucky chap, but then I’m a lucky woman, too!

  8. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    I think of your blog as an online ‘Good Housekeeping’! (my favourite real magazine). The great thing is that I can’t sit and read it all in one day as I am apt to do with a paper magazine. I like that yours is ‘drip fed’ over the month.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you so much, Eloise; to be compared with Good Housekeeping is such an accolade, I will have a hard job living up to that!

  9. I would like to know how you make out cleaning the radiator brush. That’s a task I can’t quite do right and the lint and dust fall onto the floor when I put it away. Also, I love your silver pattern. It’s not stainless steel I don’t think. Is it sterling? The pattern is lovely – functional yet pretty. A pretty good combination. I also dislike too-decorative kitchen things. The big elite chain store here in the US thinks I need to change my batter scraper spatula each holiday; from poinsettia-handled ones straight through to turkey feathers and Easter eggs and bunnies in the middle.

    • Margaret Powling

      Regarding the radiator brush, Donna, husband used it and had the vacuum nozzle attachment at the ‘ready’ as he pulled the brush from the radiator each time. As it came up the vacuum sucked off all the fluff and dust. Afterwards he cleaned under the radiator with the small brush attachment and I was surprised as there was little to no dust floating around in the air, or clinging to the radiator brush.
      The silver-ware on the table is Oneida Community Plate and the design is Hampton Court which is silver plate, not solid silver. We first bought four place settings in the early 1970s as we couldn’t afford any more in those days, we thought just a place setting for each member of the family, ourselves and our two sons, would be sufficient. And then, a few weeks ago, all these years later, we saw bundles of it in the Antiques Centre in Topsham and bought them, so now have more knives, forks and spoons. Yes, it needs polishing every so often, but we prefer it to stainless steel, and it’s not heavy to hold, either. Oh, how funny, fancy batter scrapers! That’s given me a good laugh this morning, Donna!

  10. Your embroidered table cloth is so beautiful and looks very elegant on your table.
    When you read the hard bound copy of ‘ the scent of water ‘ do tell us about it. I read about it somewhere and it’s in my list of books to buy.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Kavitha. I do like my embroidered tablecloths, some of which my mother embroidered, but certainly by no means all of them. This particular cloth was given to me by a friend who thought it might look nice in our summerhouse (she gave it to me not long after my husband built our little summerhouse in the garden).
      I will certainly report back on The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge when I have read it – if, indeed, the story is to my liking.

  11. Another lovely post, thank you Margaret, clicking on your link and finding a new post is one of life’s little pleasures.
    Your breakfast table puts mine to shame, we do sit at the dining room table but there is usually various jars of marmalade ( orange for my beloved and lime for me) plus the butter dish, no napkins or glass dishes I’m afraid , I really must up my game ☺️
    I tend to only have one cup of coffee a day so it must be a good cup, Italian ground in a large china mug, to be savoured over breakfast.

    • Margaret Powling

      Ooh, one of life’s pleasures … my goodness, such praise, Elaine! I won’t be able to get out of the study door, my head will be so swollen! I sometimes put the jars of marmalade on the table, especially if we decide to have just fruit and then toast and marmalade and there might be various kinds, plus honey. I love lime marmalade – I might now get some, how you’ve reminded me! I also like ginger preserve, too. Lovely in winter! It’s funny, I love lime and ginger on toast, but on a warm brioche I only like raspberry or blackcurrant jam.

  12. I love to read your blog and see the photos of your tableware and food and I think to myself that I must make more effort, but alas I’m too lazy. We always eat our main meals up to the table rather than in front of the television but that’s probably more to do with my clumsiness than anything else!

    Must try harder!

    Pouring with rain again today, we have been out as I had to get new trainers – I had two pairs and both started leaking this week – but we were glad to get back again.

    • Margaret Powling

      You are not the only one who is clumsy, Alison! I have very weak hands now and easily drop things, I have to take extra care.
      I just enjoy laying the table with pretty things, and really it takes no more time to put out cut glass glasses than it does cheap supermarket tumblers, or pretty plates instead of not-so-pretty ones. Indeed, our cut glass, as I’ve said before, is all 2nd hand, most of it from Quay Antiques (or inherited from my late mother) … one bargain lot was five lovely cut glass tumblers for £15, i.e. £3 each. Well, I wasn’t going to leave them there for that price. Seldom does anything match, but we don’t mind that. I made soup for lunch today so will be posting the recipe for that soon.
      We haven’t needed to go out today but I have an appointment tomorrow so have to go out, but I don’t think the weather will be any better!

  13. Margaret,
    Please let us know how you enjoy the book by Elizabeth Goudge. She is one of my favorite authors and I read her books again and again. I agree the new publications of her novels lack character but a least they are available! Many of her books are out of print and some can be quite expensive.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I shall certainly post about the Elizabeth Goudge novel once I’ve read it. I’m still reading Rosamunde Pilcher’s Coming Home as it’s almost 800 pages long and I tend only to read in bed or sometimes in an afternoon. And yes, the new publications certainly give readers an opportunity to read her books without them being horrendously expensive (if available.)

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