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Minor Indulgencies

There is an article in today’s Daily Telegraph which advocates that we should “rediscover the pleasures of unvirtuous living.”  The idea behind this is that if we’ve been rather hard on ourselves during January – setting targets which we mightn’t have achieved – this can lead to “falling off the wagon” in February.  Indeed, according to  Julie Montagu (yoga teacher) “rather than being so strict and sanctimonious, we’re far better off indulging  ourselves a little at this bleak time of the year.”

Well, I’m all for a little indulgence.  And I do mean “little”.  I’ve not gone mad and hit the shops running but I have been kind to myself as, if you’re a regular reader, you will have noticed the books, perfume, magazines and flowers that have found their way into our home.  Small indulgences are the spoonsful of sugar which help January  go down.

And so today, we popped along to Waitrose. Yes, we were only there two days ago, but we wanted the Saturday Telegraph and if, like us, you have a My Waitrose card, this entitles you to a free newspaper and a free carton of coffee (if you spend £10 on a Saturday, which  isn’t particularly difficult) and so we left a few items off our shopping list on Thursday and bought them today and so grabbed the freebies. That we had a ten mile round trip in the car to get them is another matter!

We had two indulgences; a packet of Viennese swirls (one of which I had with a cup of tea this afternoon – see photo above) and a bottle of Plymouth gin.  We’re not keen on wine (apart from dessert wine over ice as an aperitif) but we do love an ice cold G&T.  But it has to be quality gin and while we’ve tried Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray, we still like Plymouth Gin the best.  I say we’re supporting local industry as it’s still made in the distillery on the Barbican in Plymouth and some years ago husband and I took a tour of the distillery and saw the gin being produced.

This bottle should last us until Christmas at least, the rate at which we drink!  We have phases of having one glass each for a couple of days and then no more for weeks on end.  But it’s nice to think that the bottle is in the fridge for when we do fancy an ice cold G&T.

After Waitrose we went to the charity shop where, on Thursday, I’d seen the five Royal Doulton side plates for £3.50, and this morning I bought them.

I admit they wouldn’t be my first choice if I was buying a tea- or dinner service, but for £3.50 for five of them, I’m not going to argue with that; they are fine  for breakfast or a snack, and will go with some plain white crockery.

I took some photos inside the charity shop – it’s the same charity, our local hospice, as my favourite charity shop in Wellswood …

I had a basket of magazines (yes, I’m parting with some!) and some books to dispose of but as they were very heavy I suggested we dropped them off at the charity shop in Wellswood, where there is a loading-and-unloading bay right outside.

One rail (above right) had nothing but black formal wear, like a high-end boutique, and all in very good condition.

It might look as if I spend a lot of time in charity shops and the answer is that I don’t.  But I do like to off-load my unwanted books and magazines, hence my reasonably-regular visits to the charity shop in Wellswood.

Just along from the charity shop where I bought the plates there are some other rather nice shops, one of which sells painted furniture, Annie Sloane paint, cushions, mirrors, etc …Shop window photo – sorry about the reflections in the glass (and in the photo below)

and another is a dress agency (or 2nd hand dress shop, not quite sure which as I’ve not yet been inside.)

Another small indulgence was another bunch of iris from Waitrose as they were in the ‘reduced’ bucket, and I also bought another bunch of daffodils so that they will be in bloom when the ones which are now fully open have died.

I have also taken delivery of two room sprays from French Soaps, one Sandalwood, one Jasmine.  Both are lovely. I have photographed them on a mainly-purple silk scarf as purple is the colour this year – it’s everywhere in magazines and newspapers.

And finally, the daffodils in the hall, now fully open, a breath of spring on a very wet and dull Saturday in January.

I wonder if you have enjoyed a few minor indulgencies this month, no matter how small?

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. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    My indulgences tend to centre around pampering. I get my hair blow dried twice a week (once paid for, the other in exchange for a basket of ironing) and once monthly eyebrow waxing, manicure and back massage. The latter loosens up the knots in my shoulders to which I am very prone.
    There are few tangible indulgences. Perfume and make up are generally replenished by way of Christmas and birthday gifts, though I will treat myself if the need arises. Books and magazines are mainly sourced from the bookshelf at the gym. Unusually, I did indulge recently in a new ornament. I haven’t bought such a thing in years, but I really fell for a small ‘bronze’ (resin) hare. I’d defy anyone to know the difference between him and the much more expensive ones I saw in a shop in Dartmouth (unless they picked him up, of course).
    Your plates are very pretty. I have mainly white or cream china but there are a few pretty pieces too. The bottle of gin is similarly long lasting to my bottles of liqueur. I drink rarely but when I do, it’s very nice.

    • Margaret Powling

      I have never had a massage (apart from a facial massage, a freebie many years ago when husband and I stayed at a posh hotel in order that I might write about it) and my hairdresser doesn’t offer manicures (yes, I could go elsewhere but my nails are in poor condition, they’ve never recovered from when I had chemo and they are now very weak and also ridged) and my eyebrows are almost non-existent so I have to feather in brows with a very soft pencil (I’ve tried a liquid but it wasn’t as effective). But these are lovely indulgences if you enjoy them, and why not, as the advert says, because you’re worth it! And if they make you feel good as well as look good, they are worth every penny. Perfume and books and flowers do it for me.
      Your resin hare sounds a delight, and it matters not one jot that it’s not a bronze. Our plates were white for years and years (Royal Worcester Verona design) but now I rather like having coloured crockery, especially the Burleigh blue I’ve bought in recent months.
      Regarding liqueur, after having a couple of bottles of Tia Maria and some Baileys at Christmas I’m right off these now, so I reckon we’re coming out of winter into spring, and I won’t want the warming taste of these drinks, but the chilled taste of G&T! Yesterday we craved a salad and so I made a huge mixed salad for our supper and we really enjoyed it. Yes, spring must be around the corner!

  2. I love your “new” plates. What a find. I eat off a modern side plate as I’m one of these people who have problems leaving food on the plate. My older side plate is actually too small for a meal. Small indulgences? I have a healing, deep tissue massage session about once a week, it’s quite like shiatsu, and I find that extremely therapeutic. It’s a big indulgence really, but I happily go without the small ones just to have it.

    • Margaret Powling

      If deep tissue massage makes you feel well, Ratnamurti, then it is a wonderful and worthwhile indulgence. Glad you approve the ‘new’ old plates. They are quite small, but lovely as a side plate for bread and butter or a piece of fruit.

  3. I love your new to you plates Margaret, they are a perfect find, well done.
    How wonderful your shops look, I want to step inside. I much prefer a shop like that to a large impersonal store with merchandise that all looks the same.
    I must tell you that your soup recipes were much enjoyed and I did not blind bake my quiche bases yesterday and they were fine, so thank you.
    I am another one who enjoys a massage. I am training my husband in the technique so that we can do reciprocal massages, he is doing quite well but certainly prefers to be on the receiving end.
    Pam in TX.x

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, the little plates, for they are quite small, are rather pretty. Husband is none-too-keen but I think once I use them on a pretty cloth, with white bowls and other items, they will pass muster. I told him he had to use his imagination when looking in charity shops. If you see something that was used for something else originally – such as a deep tureen – you have to think “what could I use that for today?” and a tureen could be used for bulbs, and ‘salts’ as I found in the Quay Antiques Centre, can be used for olives or butter or nuts.
      I’m glad you enjoyed seeing the charity shops. These days, charity shops (or thrift shops I think they are called in the USA) look 100% better than they did even a few years ago, that awful used-clothes smell is no longer there, they are clean and tidy places and they each have their own way of displaying the goods. One I went into last week displayed their clothes according to colour rather than size or type (by type, I mean all shirts together, all skirts together), so that there were rails of pink but they contained blouses, trousers, skirts, jumpers, etc, and then rails of blue, green and so forth. It looks wonderful! I wish now I’d taken photos, but I will go there again and next time with my camera at the ready.
      Oh, that is wonderful! The soup recipe was enjoyed and you’ve cooked a quiche without blind baking and it worked for you! I’m thrilled as much as you are. Just think, I’ve explained to someone thousands of miles away, simply, on my blog, a recipe that works for them and a technique that also works for them!
      My goodness, all these people who enjoy massages … maybe I ought to book myself in somewhere and give it a try.

  4. Indulgences. I’m buying for my sons. They need a few things that, despite both having good jobs, they just can’t afford at this time in their lives.

    The eldest is getting married in the next year, so we’ve bought him the jacket to go with his kilt. Next up is one for his brother who will be in the wedding party. The local highland outfitter is retiring and there will be no more kilt rentals in this part of the world. One jacket will be used but the other is new, the person who ordered it changed his mind. The shop owner was left with a 44 long! We came to an agreement.

    Royal Doulton. I always think of Hyacinth Bucket and her Periwinkle set, when I hear Royal Doulton.

    • Margaret Powling

      That’s lovely you are buying things for your sons. We do the same for ours.
      Now, Linda, that sounds like you life north of the border, if your son will be wearing a kilt? Full highland dress looks so smart and is also colourful. I hope that the jacket that was left will fit your son.
      Oh, dear old Hyacinth Bucket and her “Royal Doulton periwinkle …” I’d completely forgotten that! I’m not particularly a fan of Doulton although, of course, Sir Henry Doulton is the only potter who was knighted. They started out, as no doubt you know, making sewerage pipes and other items of sanitary ware, and only later turned their hands to art pottery and tableware.

  5. Hmm, small indulgences, I do have a luxury facial every six weeks but I am lucky enough to have a niece with her own beauty business so enjoy a special rate. Other than that it’s fresh flowers for the house, good quality candles for the hearth especially during the winter months and I do like to ocassionally burn essential oils. Oh and books, lots of books!!
    I really don’t subscribe to dry January or any of these hair shirt type deprivations, but then I don’t over-indulge either so don’t feel the need to cut back drastically. If I feel that my body could do with a general cleanse I would wait until March/April time when the warmer weather is coming and I no longer crave the more comforting food of the colder months.
    I can see why you were attracted to those plates Margaret, they are pretty and will no doubt be useful especially at breakfast time.

    • Margaret Powling

      Do you know, as well as never having had a massage, I’ve never had a facial. What does it involve? Just a creaming of the face and a gentle massage, or full makeup afterwards? But yes, always fresh flowers, they are a lovely indulgence. There is a vogue now (things which go around, come around; these were popular in the 1960s/1970s and dropped out of fashion) house plants, and while all greenery looks lovely (well, if it’s not brown-leafed and dusty!) I still prefers fresh flowers. Oh, and books of course.
      I’m glad that you, also, don’t subscribe to what you so beautifully called the hair-shirt type deprivations in January; as with you, we don’t over-indulge so there really is no need to cut back. This morning’s little indulgence has been breakfast in bed with the Sunday paper (courtesy of husband collecting the paper from our local shop and making porridge for us.)

      • Firstly the face is cleansed followed by gentle massaging to both the face and the head. Then she applies a mask which covers my eyes, mouth and just leaves breathing space on my nose (not sure we trust anyone else to do this part) and whilst that works it’s magic she gives me an arm and hand massage. This part is my favourite I have to say, I suffer from tendonitis in one of my elbows and find this most soothing. Finally the mask is peeled off in a whole sheet (weird!) and she applies a light serum. All in all it takes 45 minutes and leaves my skin very fresh and glowing.
        Re houseplants i can never seem to keep any, apart from a few little cacti sitting on my kitchen windowsill, oh and a pot of basil in the summer but that doesn’t really count!

        • Margaret Powling

          That facial sounds wonderful, I think I’d like that! There is a beauty parlour/spa in Torquay which certainly looks nice, so I might make enquiries. The draw back for me would be going out into the street without make-up on afterwards! Of course, I suppose I could whip out the mascara wand and lipstick, but my eyebrows are non-existent and need ‘help’!
          Sorry, not keen on cacti, I don’t like spiky plants. I get pots of Basil from the supermarket all year round, but even though I water them, they still die, the weather just isn’t warm enough for them in winter, even though I remove them from the windowsill at night. But I do like fresh basil even in winter, for on spag bol and anything with a tomato sauce, or tomato and courgette soup.

  6. Ha ha, the hair shirt comment made me laugh!
    Pam in TX.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, Elaine’s description of how some people behave in January is so funny, isn’t it! Made me laugh, too, Pam.

  7. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    I like a facial, and a pedicure too but don’t have them on a regular basis as I can’t afford to do everything all the time! So these only happen occasionally such as when I get bought a voucher. One of my 60th birthday presents was a six hour salon session including facial, pedi, massage, manicure, blowdry and lunch. It was wonderful.
    When I worked full time I used to spend a long weekend every year at Hoar Cross Hall Spa. As well as all those treTments I would chill out on the massage chairs (amazing) and go to yoga relaxation and meditation classes.
    Yes, my indulgences, big and small, are almost all of the pampering variety.

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, what a wonderful 60th birthday present, Eloise! I’m sure you enjoyed every single moment! I’ve never gone in for such things as pampering, perhaps I should try it. Some might think I’m pampered enough having a husband who does so much for me, ha ha!

  8. I stumbled upon your blog by accident ( can one stumble when on a laptop? ) I recognised your header as I live in Brixham!! I will probably meet you one day as I work part time at Waitrose Torquay. What a coincidence!

    • Margaret Powling

      What a coincidence, Fiona. Husband and I do our weekly shop in Waitrose, Torquay branch, and for a top-up shop on a Saturday morning when we get our ‘free’ paper and coffee. If you see me, do say Hello!

  9. Oh, those blue and white plates on the charity shop wall! My favorite. Yes, I have indulged: candles! There is a lovely small business which makes soy candles in jars in many different scents. I was able to get them at half off with free shipping! That was my indulgence. They are wonderful and burn very nicely.

    • Margaret Powling

      Many people love candles and they do give a very gentle light, but I’ve always considered them a fire risk so rarely have them unless I’m going to be in the sitting room for some time so can keep a close watch on them. Also, I’ve been learning, from an article in the paper last week (and yes, I know we should take some of the advice with a big pinch of salt) that “we should … be wary of candles.” Ian Colbeck, professor in environmental science at the University of Essex, wans that as all combustible material leads to increased particles in the air, which could find their way to your airways, we should also be wary of scented candles.” He goes on to say that it’s estimated that these may contribute to around 8,500 deaths in the UK and that it will greatly exacerbate asthma, allergies and breathing conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Oh, dear, innocent little candles doing us harm now! You can’t win, can you? Of course, there are ways of cleaning our air in our homes and – surprise, surprise – there were adverts for air purifiers alongside this feature.

  10. Another thought-provoking column, Margaret. And it’s not just me who thinks so, judging by all of the wonderful comments.

    The topic of ‘indulgence’ can trigger so many different responses. It’s lovely reading the responses by others and thinking about your own ‘indulgences’ – or whether they are necessities ! For me my monthly remedial massage is a necessity to manage various aches but I also consider it an indulgence as I enjoy not only the process but also how wonderful I feel afterwards. Of course our indulgences/ necessities change over time based on our incomes, our financial commitments, our tastes, fads and trends, etc. One of my favourite indulgences is to enjoy the few moments between stirring and waking first thing in the morning – that relaxed, dreamy state when you’re cozy in bed, unaware of what day it is or even where you are. Even better is when you can fall back to sleep, even if only for a bit. Cool mornings are ideal for this type of sleepyhead behaviour 🙂

    My other favourite is my first cup of tea in bed with my favourite China mug. Even better if my husband has brought it into me. Now that I no longer work full time I have only a couple of days each week where I must wake to an alarm and ‘hit the floor running’. On those mornings I don’t have my first cup until hours later.

    In these days of rush rush rush, ‘multitasking’, consumerism and high levels of household debt being considered the norm, I think it’s important to acknowledge our individual indulgences and be grateful. So, thank you for prompting me to do just that !


    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Lara, for your lovely comments. Yes, that semi-wakeful period in the early morning is lovely, especially if you can snuggle down under the duvet again (well, we can do this most mornings as we are retired and have been for 20 years.) Indeed, this week marks 20 years since my husband took early retirement at age 62. How the time has flown by.
      I’ve never had a massage, remedial or otherwise, except when I was having my cancer treatments and was offered aromatherapy on the NHS! This was more than a decade ago. I tried that but didn’t enjoy it, or rather I didn’t care for the female practitioner applying the oil and massaging my tummy. But perhaps it was just the wrong person and the wrong circumstances. Maybe in a very nice salon rather than in the hospital I’d enjoy it.
      Oh, and that first cup of tea or coffee of a morning … bliss!

  11. Hi
    when I lost my eyebrows last year (we don’t know why )I had them put back on with semi permanent make up.
    It’s a bit like a tatoo but as I said NOT permanent.
    I love it every morning when I see my face.

    • Margaret Powling

      That sounds like a good idea, Liz; as you say, like a tattoo but not permanent. Eyebrows frame the face, we look very strange without them as I experienced when I lost all my hair through cancer treatment. But that was over a decade ago but while hair on my head returned, my eyebrows have since been very sparse and need a little help with make-up.

  12. Hello Margaret, love this post about minor indulgences, how important they are to our self esteem. Self care is so important to our well being and those little indulgences are part of that. Of course, they are different for everyone, what matters is that they make you happy. I enjoy the occasional facial or massage, books to read and of course fresh flowers.
    Just wanted to add, I had a go at making your carrot and red pepper soup this weekend and it was delicious! X

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Dot. It would seem from all the comments I have received, that massages and facials are uppermost on the minor indulgencies list for most readers, and so they must be lovely! I’ve yet to experience either, but now I’m beginning to think they might be worthwhile! We also like fresh flowers; even a humble bunch can bring a room to life.
      Oh, that’s good news, that you enjoyed the carrot & red pepper soup! It’s lovely and so easy to make, isn’t it!

  13. Hi Margaret,
    Royal Doulton Old Colony side plates are available from China Search, at a cost of £10.15 each! You can enjoy using yours even more now, knowing that!
    We’re ‘growing’ our collection of Wedgwood Cornucopia, we’ve got eight of everything we need, but we like it so much that now we’ve started buying extras, such as the coffee cans, and I’ve just ordered the covered vegetable dish!
    I keep checking charity shops for any odds and ends of the range, but so far without result!

    • Margaret Powling

      My goodness, Colette, £10.50 each side plate! I like them but I don’t like them that much! However, I’ve looked up the Wedgwood Cornucopia design and it’s no wonder you love this, it’s so beautiful! If I were starting out buying a dinner service today, this is exactly the style I would choose! And now you’ve ordered a covered vegetable dish (these used to be called tureens.) I hope you have many years of enjoyment from this lovely tableware.

  14. “Small indulgences are the spoonsful of sugar which help January go down.” What a perfect sentence this is! What a wonderful sentiment! Hear, hear!!

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Beth. Do you know, I’ve no idea where some of my sentences come from, they just enter my head! But we’re now into February and spring is on the way, our tulip bulbs are showing and before long we will be able to venture out and tidy the garden. Glad you liked my ‘perfect’ sentence!

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