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I would like to start by thanking you all for your very kind comments regarding my 300th (and all previous) posts.  It has been wonderful to hear how much readers … no, friends … enjoy my posts and my photographs.  I look at people’s Instagram pages (although I’m not on Instagram) and I marvel at the wonderful homes there, manor houses, farmhouses, etc, and therefore I’m really touched that readers like our home and how it is decorated and arranged, for it doesn’t have a fancy kitchen with an ‘island’ in the centre (I wouldn’t want one as it would impede the flow in what I consider the perfect triangle of kitchen design:  preparation area – hob – sink); it doesn’t have an Aga or a modern range; and it most certainly doesn’t have a wood burning stove in the sitting room.  But we love our home, even though it’s simply a 1980s build in a Close of 20 such properties.  The 1980s certainly won’t go down in history as the 20th century’s golden age of building!

* * * * *

I thought today I’d mention colour, simply because two things arrived here yesterday which are full of colour.  But first to breakfast today …

We had porridge (oatmeal) for breakfast, made with milk.  Husband has golden granulated sugar on his, I have golden syrup (not maple syrup) on mine. And we had mugs (instead of cups) of tea.  I used mugs just for a change (they are china, not pottery – I don’t like the texture of pottery against my lips while drinking.)  But if this were a professional photograph of food, it would fail.  Why?  Because I’ve shown something white (the porridge) in a white bowl.  Porridge would look far better in a coloured bowl, but I just happen to like our white bowls, they are the right size for porridge.  Now, compare the above photo with this one below, where I have put the golden syrup onto the porridge.  Better, eh?

It’s all to do with colour. Indeed, the porridge would not only look better in a coloured bowl, but with fruit on top, but I’m not keen on fruit on porridge although I like it on cereal.

Right, back to colour and the things which arrived yesterday.  First, a book.

This is a lovely book, I’m delighted with it.  It’s by an Australian interior designer, Anna Spiro, and it is like a breath of fresh Australian air.  Some of her arrangements are a bit too whacky for me, indeed for someone who loves colour (me), there’s rather a super-abundance of it here, so at times I think to myself, “I’d just like to rest my eyes for a moment on something plain and simple …” but overall, I give this about an 8/10, simply because it’s such fun!

Anna hands out some good advice, such as “Buy well from the start … instead of wasting money on of-the-moment items that will most likely be discarded down the track, it’s important to buy good pieces in the first place.”  What have I been saying all along? “*Buy cheap, buy twice!”   I am also with her when she says, “To create visual impact, grouping like items together in cabinets or shelves can not only be of organisational value but can also be striking and beautiful.”  She talks about art, and how to arrange it, about textiles, about flowers, and most importantly, about colour.  And I’m very much with her when she says, “Pink is like a little ray of sunshine. It bursts through the other colours and brings unquestionable happiness to any room.”  I second that!

[*I would like to add that we all have to live within our means and we can’t all afford expensive items – and sometimes expensive doesn’t always mean well made.  But what we can do is look for quality 2nd hand items rather than buying poor quality new items.]

Just four photos showing pink, only the rose was in our garden, the other three at various times in our home

And some of the pages from Anna’s lovely book …

The second item that arrived was the Royal Albert cup and saucer that I ordered a few days ago.  I fancied a partner for the floral cup and saucer I already had, and which I mentioned recently, and together they look pretty on the mantelpiece, if slightly gaudy!  I like colour but I don’t do ‘gaudy’.   However, I think, with flowers in them in summer, they might actually look even better.

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 pretty new teacup and its friend, Margaret! Your new book looks interesting, too. I will go look at it on Amazon. I once had The Gentle Art of Domesticity but, thinking I’d not be likely to reread it, donated it to the library. I still probably wouldn’t reread it, but would peruse the photos again. But … I lack space for books, so it’s books in, books out around here. I don’t always get which ones to donate right, but all in all I haven’t had too many regrets. (And I can always check them out from the library!) I don’t think I’ve seen Golden Syrup here, but I haven’t really looked. Lovely post!

    • Margaret Powling

      I enjoyed Jane Brocket’s The Gentle Art of Domesticity, and since then she has written many more books on home crafts, but this is the only one that really interested me.
      Golden syrup is quite different from maple syrup, Bess, as it’s refined from sugar and doesn’t come from the maple tree. It is used on porridge (your oatmeal) and some people have it on pancakes, and it’s used in making flapjacks, a sticky/crunchy kind of biscuit (cookie).
      Glad you like the little ‘new’ old teacup and saucer!

  2. Your cups and saucers are lovely together. I think it’s hard to make oatmeal look good! It’s so lumpy and blah colored. Don’t get me wrong – I do like oatmeal, it’s just difficult to photograph and make it look good even in a different bowl, I say.

    • Margaret Powling

      You are right, it’s really difficult to make porridge (oatmeal) look tasty! Mind you, I don’t allow any lumps in mine, Jeannine, ha ha! I beat it so that it’s fairly smooth – it’s a case of getting the right ratio of milk to oatmeal, I think, and then cooking it long enough. My mother used a proper porridge pan, a double saucepan with boiling water in the bottom container and then another which sat on top with the porridge in it, so that the porridge didn’t stick to the pan when heated – the steam from the boiling water cooked the porridge. Some people cook it in the microwave but as I’ve mentioned before, we’ve never bothered with a microwave. But you are right, it would still look like an insipid mess even in a coloured bowl!

  3. What a feast of colourful things for a cold and grey winter’s day! The rose is lovely and you have really captured the beauty of tulips in your photos, Margaret. Instead of Valentine cards I suggested to my husband that we just have flowers and I think I’ll be hinting at tulips. Your book looks very inspirational.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Anne, and yes, the colours really cheer up a dull, grey and now very wet day, here on Wednesday morning! Husband and I don’t send each other Valentine’s Day cards, indeed, he’d not know it was Valentine’s Day even having walked past all the hearts and flowers in the supermarket! He just doesn’t notice such things! I don’t mind he’s not a romantic person in that respect because he does so much for me all the time – yesterday, he cooked the pancakes that we had for our supper, it being Shrove Tuesday. I made the batter and he fried them, and they were lovely.
      The book is lovely, not quite my style, but lovely to look and, as you say, it’s inspirational.

  4. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Such vivid colour on the cup and saucer – I like it a lot. Black allows the striking colour to ‘shine’. Do you think you will ever drink from them, or will they remain for decoration only?
    I like neutrals for decorating but relieved by pops of colour and I definitely like groups rather than single items here and there.
    Pink isn’t a colour I use but I did many years ago when, as a young homemaker, I saved hard to afford some beautiful pink velvet curtains. I treasured them.
    Porridge has to be accompanied by fruit for me! Raspberries, blueberries or banana are most likely.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, there might be occasions when we drink from those cups. I might indulge myself even more and search for the two side plates that go with them, but that would be an indulgence as they are quite expensive and, do I really need them? The answer is clearly No.
      The new book advises – or suggests, might be a better word – plain white for walls, and the same shade of white for everything, such as ceiling, walls, skirting, doors, etc, and then add the colours in the furnishings. I can understand this viewpoint, but I love pastel coloured walls (and some richly coloured walls, too) and I love wallpaper – our hall and stairs has a Colefax & Fowler paper, sadly discontinued, called Saltram Trellis, and I’ve always loved it. But a neutral background is really useful as you can put almost anything against it.
      As you say, pink isn’t a colour you use, and I haven’t used it much, either until we recently decorated our bedroom (well, two years ago – that is recently to us!) and we chose a floral fabric for our curtains and so pink has crept in, but only in the bed cushions (again floral) and some pretty things on my dressing chest.
      I must try fruit on porridge again and see if I like it, I wasn’t keen first time, but sometimes it’s a matter of simply getting used to something.

  5. I like pink but don’t have much of it at home these days. My bedroom was pink in my twenties and early thirties. Maybe that was enough !

    Your arrangements are always very stylish and I enjoy your photographs.

    We have golden syrup on damper – a very basic type of bread which can be cooked with a campfire. We used to make it on Australia Day (26 January) when we would have a barbecue breakfast with family. Golden syrup was the perfect topping for it.

    It’s impossible to glam up porridge for photos. I used to love my morning porridge but gave it up (reluctantly) when I changed to gluten free foods for health reasons. I buy gluten free muesli (which is definitely an acquired taste and costs a kings ransom) and enjoy it in the cooler months. I hadn’t heard of cooking porridge with a double saucepan. I use the microwave. A dear friend cooks porridge in a saucepan for he and his wife each morning. I think doing things the slower way can be nice – life can be too rushed. I used to enjoy cooking risotto as it involved standing and stirring at the stovetop for about 20 minutes – you couldn’t simply leave it.

    • Margaret Powling

      So many women and girls love pink, Lara, don’t they? Toys for girls, clothes for girls, all in shades of pink. I’ve never been all that fond of pink, but when you think how beautiful pink roses are, from the palest pastel shade to the deepest plum, it makes me wonder why I’m not keen on it so much as, say, a wall covering which is pink, or a bedspread that is pink? I think it’s good for a highlight colour. Our bedroom curtains have pink in them (roses) but the pink is more a cerise than a pastel pink.
      Oh, that’s a new word for me, damper (as in damper bread.) I’ve never heard of that as a type of bread, only it was a word used for a fire, when you closed a damper to prevent air flow and thereby reduce the fire. And as you say, this was a basic bread cooked by a campfire, so maybe there is a connection somewhere there to our use of damper.
      Last week we were in the supermarket and wanted a sandwich to have with our coffee (the coffee is ‘free’ but of course, we’re not idiots – this is paid for in the higher price of some of the items) and there was only a sandwich left that we fancied (egg & watercress) but on gluten-free bread, so we had that. I didn’t like it at all! My goodness, is this what people who have to have gluten-free have to have? It tasted really strange to me, I’m sorry to say! I think I’d have to go without bread entirely if I had to go gluten-free. Husband couldn’t taste the difference, which made me laugh, so he ate my portion as well as his own, ha ha!
      Yes, I think most people would cook porridge in a microwave today, only we’ve never bothered to have one (it would be just something else to find room for in our kitchen).

  6. Rogers, a Canadian sugar refiner, used to produce golden syrup. Haven’t seen it in years, some of our supermarkets sell the Tate and Lyle. But in a jar, not a tin. Roge s used tins and squeeze bottles.

    I make ou porridge in a Le Creuset saucepan. The weight of it seems to prevent burning or sticking

    Happy Valentine’s Day.

    • Margaret Powling

      How lovely that you can still buy golden syrup, Wondercollie. It also comes in squeeze bottles over here, but I like the old-fashioned tin. Once all people start to buy it in plastic bottles (more plastic waste, oh dear …) the tins will disappear, and they are rather attractive, I think, nice enough to have on the breakfast table.
      I used to have some Le Creuset pans, but they are now too heavy for me to handle, let alone with they have food in them, so the only Le Creuset dish I now have is one that rarely comes out, an oval gratin dish. But it’s great to hear that the porridge doesn’t stick to them.

  7. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    I do love a bowl of porridge Margaret, I love it with some crunchy demerara sugar on top. I haven’t had any this week , we have been having berries and yogurt with a piece of toast and marmalade.
    Your tulips really do look beautiful, I might treat myself to some flowers this week, the bulbs in the garden are doing well, I long to see colour in the garden again.
    I like the cups and saucers Margaret, nice to have something a bit different.

    • Margaret Powling

      I have some demerara sugar in the larder, I might try that next time, Marlene, on porridge. I love the sweet taste of syrup as I seldom have really sweet things to eat. Strangely enough, we’ve not had yoghurt for a few weeks, and Chris isn’t keen on blueberries, and the raspberries have been very expensive in the supermarket, so we’ve been eating pears and bananas instead.
      I love tulips and these have been lovely and are lasting well, too. Like you, can’t wait for the spring bulbs to actually burst into flower, but a couple of months yet, I’m afraid.

  8. I like porridge cooked in milk, too. But if I had any form of sugar, I would get rather tired a few hours later, and go hunting all day for more sugar! But a nice piece of fresh fruit , which I have before the porridge, does not have the same effect. I too like to eat fruit separate from my porridge.

    We have a beautiful porridge in New Zealand called Scotch Oaties, which I love. A lot of Scottish people settled in our South Island, and that’s where the oats are grown.

    • Margaret Powling

      I didn’t know that sugar could have that effect, Ratnamurti. I don’t have a lot of sugar in my diet, but I do love syrup on porridge. like you, I like fruit separate from porridge, I find that the two textures don’t go together. I love fruit and often will start breakfast with a fruit platter. Tomorrow we will start with melon as I have a melon which has been ripening. We have Scots Porridge Oats as well as Quaker Porridge Oats in the UK, but I don’t know about Scotch Oaties, I will check that out when next in the supermarket!

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