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Cosy at Home on Dull January Days

We have been experiencing a few rather dull days.  Not particularly cold but not warm either, the sorts of days when we feel lethargic, lacking much energy.

And so, yesterday morning, still suffering from a painful back, dear husband kindly went to collect the Sunday paper from our local shop and then made porridge for us, while I remained in bed.  A lie-in like this is lovely and I made the most of it.  Above you can see my bedside table (actually a chest of drawers – I love drawers in which I can hide all the necessary-but-not-attractive items: emery boards, paracetamol, Strepsils, which no one wants to see every time one enters the bedroom) and here is my second cup of coffee of the morning.

Once husband returned with the paper he made us porridge for breakfast which I enjoyed in bed …

Once nourished I looked for the sections of the paper I particularly enjoy:  Stella magazine and the Sunday (i.e. features) section …

I was interested to read an article on the Kennard family who live in their ancestral home, Forde Abbey, near Chard, Somerset, which we visited ten years ago.

Forde Abbey was built in 1140 as a Cistercian monastery and it flourished until the Dissolution by Henry VIII (which began in 1539).  After being empty for around 100 years it was bought by Edward Prideaux, attorney general of Oliver Cromwell and, according to the article in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, he set about “transforming it into a magnificent ‘palazzo’ residence”.  It really is a lovely place to visit, and the gardens are particularly beautiful.

The elegant cloister at Forde Abbey

(the four photos above from our visit in 2008)

Today, Monday, my back was feeling much better and so I made breakfast not only for ourselves but also for our elder son who joined us.  Melon, banana with slivers of stem ginger to start with, followed by grilled bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and toast, with apple juice to drink …

And then, with the post, came the latest issue of …

which I’ve been reading this afternoon as my back had begun to ache again, but nothing like as badly as yesterday (or the day before) so that’s on the mend.  A hot water bottle and a cup of restorative tea work wonders, don’t they?

As we’d had a substantial breakfast, which I served rather late (11.15am!) we didn’t have lunch but around 3pm I made some Marmite toast and also spread some cream cheese on Jacob’s cream crackers, just sufficient for us until we have our supper this evening.

It is already dusk but it’s actually looked like 4.30pm all day long.   February will soon be here, and snowdrops and crocus will be flowering in the parks and gardens.  Birds are already beginning to sing in our hedge and house sparrows are fluttering to and fro, making nests in the eaves of our house.  Spring is coming!

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. Over the last week I’ve seen snowdrops appearing and even some daffodils on the verges along the roadsides. I saw a lonely primrose too – hopefully that will soon be joined by lots more.

    It has been dull here too. The forecast said cloudy but dry so of course it rained as soon as I pegged the washing out.

    Another day over and nearer to Spring 🙂

    • Margaret Powling

      My goodness, a primrose … that’s early. We have some daffs out in out front garden, but only three so far. Yes, another day nearer to Spring, Alison!

  2. I think my husband bringing me a cup of tea in bed every morning is my favourite indulgence. I have to say that some of your reader’s indulgences in the comments of previous post sounded a little bit tortuous to me. You would make the most marvellous bed and breakfast hostess judging by the look of your breakfasts. Totally scrumptious. And marmite toast never fails to satisfy. Your piece on Forde Abbey has reminded me that the best snowdrop displays are often to be found in the grounds of old monasteries and abbeys because the Knight Crusaders brought the bulbs back from the Holy Land. Mottisfont near Winchester is my favourite place to see snowdrops en masse and to make the trip even more worthwhile there is also beautiful winter walk garden. I hope your back continues to improve. It sounds as if you are doing all the right things – keeping moving as much as you can and resting when it starts to ache.

    • Margaret Powling

      I’ve always thought that I could’ve run a B&B, Sarah, even though I know such establishments are very hard work. But over the years we have stayed in many B&Bs and only a few have come up to my expectations although the few that have have been very good establishments indeed. I love cooking breakfast and even for the family I try and present it as nicely as possible.
      One of these days I must visit Mottisfont Abbey. I first read of this historic house in a novel and I’ve always wanted to visit there, especially when the roses are in bloom, for I know that it’s famous for its rose garden. I didn’t know that about the Knight Crusaders, though, bringing back bulbs of snowdrops from the Holy Land.
      Yes, massage does sound a bit like torture, Sarah, ha ha! But gentle massage mightn’t be too bad! I have rested my back this afternoon and then I took myself to the kitchen and made a chicken Caesar salad for our supper and it was very tasty.

  3. That picture of the cloister is particularly striking Margaret, how ironic that one of Oliver Cromwell’s right hand men should wish to live in somewhere so palatial, hardly in line with the ethics of a puritan life is it!
    We live reasonably close to Anglesey Abbey and they always have a marvellous display of snowdrops (over 300 varieties) followed by daffodils and crocuses, we really must make a point of visiting in the next few weeks.
    I do hope that your back in continuing to improve.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I thought that, too, Elaine … one of Oliver’s chaps living in such splendour. Of course, I don’t suppose it was all that splendid after having been empty for a hundred years, but no doubt he thought it was a good do-er up-er, as they say today!
      I’ve not been to Anglesey, but I think those displays of the spring flowers must be lovely. I don’t know anywhere locally where we can see snowdrops, but Dartington Hall gardens has a lovely display of crocus.
      Back bad this morning, when yesterday it was so much better, but it will get better, it just needs time.

  4. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Wow! What an amazing building. I love the cloisters photograph. Somerset is not too far away. I can see us visiting there. I’ve also stayed in some excellent B&Bs and some that have been very disappointing and I think I know what works and what doesn’t. I’d love to ‘design’ one but I wouldn’t want to run one. You do wonder how some owners can get it so wrong!
    Breakfast looks excellent. I’d come and stay in your B&B, but no tea in bed, thank you. I only drink coffee!

    • Margaret Powling

      My drink by the bed was coffee, Eloise, and very good it was, too! But you are right, you do wonder how some owners of B&Bs get them so wrong. My theory is some of these owners haven’t experienced a really high-quality B&B themselves and so obviously don’t know what is expected. The last B&B we stayed in was in Somerset and it was lovely.

  5. You would be a wonderful B & B owner and hostess. Such a lovely table you set. Thank you for the pictures of the “castle” – the cloisters photo was my favorite. I do hope your back feels better soon. A massage sounds great to me – although things like manicures and pedicures do not appeal at all.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I’m fond of the photo of the cloister at Forde Abbey, too, Jeannine, and the sun shining that day showed up the wonderful stonework. I always liked the idea of having a B&B, a rather lovely old manor house preferably, but the reality of the very hard work, well, I think the appeal would soon wear off! When we have stayed in some lovely houses we have thought that the owners (sometimes quite old) have perhaps opened their houses as B&Bs simply to keep the places going.

  6. Those pictures of Forde Abbey are magnificent. Yesterday I was watching a show (part of a series) where UK renovation tv series host Sarah Beeny is repairing / restoring a magnificent 97-room building in a rural area of Yorkshire (?). She and her husband bought the property for about £450,000 10-11 years ago and live there with their four young sons, two cats and a dog. The particular show I watched showed many rooms which were in ruins (the place was apparently empty for years during which time many of the original fireplaces, etc were stolen) but there were several rooms used by the family for day-to-day life, as well as a very grand dining room which they were restoring. They had found a small section of the original wallpaper (c1840s, I think) from this room and sourced a wallpaper manufacturer with a basement filled with wooden templates which were used to print the patterns onto the paper. They found theirs – sized about 1m x 1m it looked very heavy – and it was used to reproduce the original red-on-red ornate wallpaper. A $15,000 handmade marble fireplace was well over their budget so using much ingenuity, one of their builders crafted one out of MDF board and they painted it to look like marble. Although the show was only one hour long and only detailed one room, I was amazed at the passion, energy and dedication of the owners and the craftsmen (and women) involved. Only 90-something rooms to go !

    • Margaret Powling

      I remember that programme, Lara! It was on our TVs several years ago and at that time Sarah Beeny was rarely off our screens – we’ve not seen her for some time. She now has an online (or she had) estate agency business.
      One of the wallpaper manufacturers who still print wallpaper from their old blocks is Cole & Sons and today they still have lovely papers, many of them historic patterns from their archives.

  7. B&b isn’t such a big thing here in NZ. A lot of people go camping near the ocean in summer. This tortuous past time does seem to be quite popular. Your meals always look so nice. And that building! What a treat to have those in one’s country, and nearby too. Hope that your back has started to calm down

    • Margaret Powling

      I’ve never camped, Ratnamurti, although camping is popular – perhaps not so much as it was in the 1930s when hiking and camping and the great ourdoors was very popular! Of course, people have camper vans and caravans these days with all mod cons, and there are lovely campsites on which to stay. But to stay in a really lovely B&B, perhaps one that has a great garden, too, is most enjoyable – especially if there is a good dining pub close by for evening meals.
      My back is still iffy, it just needs time to calm down.

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