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Things To Do On A Wet Day

I’m starting this post with something I found – not that I’d actually lost it, it was there all the time – a few days ago.  I had been searching, as I’d mentioned, for the little floral cup and saucer and then located it with a collection of Honiton Pottery, in a box where I never expected to find it, nor had any recollection of putting it there.  But during my searches, I found this candlestick.

When my mother died in 2000 it was necessary to part with a lot of her various collections and one of them were her ‘brasses’.  Victorians, as my mother’s parents were, were very fond of brass, and they had collected candlesticks, all in pairs, and in various sizes, and as well as those, my father, who had served in the Royal Air Force in India before WW2, came home with various Indian brasses.  All these went to auction but one item – this candlestick – I kept.  It was a solitary candlestick, but I just loved the classical columnar shape.   And so, yesterday, husband polished this candlestick for me.  At first I didn’t know where to place it, as finding a place for a single item which doesn’t relate to anything else is often tricky.  I tried it in the window, but somehow it wasn’t right there …

And so I put it with the black coffee pot (which I use for flowers), a little Oriental teapot for one, and an ink well, because they are all rather ‘shiny’ things.  Indeed, husband gave the copper Art Nouveau lid to the ink well a polish, too.  I love this ink well.  Not that I use it. I mean, who uses ink wells today?  If we use a fountain pen (as, indeed, I still do) we have ink cartridges.  But years ago one might’ve filled this with Stephen’s or Quink ink.  What puzzles me is that the style of the glass well is actually Art Deco, but the lid is very much Art Nouveau, a style which pre-dates Deco.  Never mind, I love it not only for it’s style, but because when my mother bought my desk for me when I was 12 years old, she also bought this ink well to sit on the desk.

Yesterday, you may recall, was Shrove Tuesday and, as such, we did as many people did, and had pancakes.  Some have them for breakfast but we’re not as well organized as some, and we had them for our supper.  I made the batter and husband fried the pancakes for us – he’s far better at that than I am! We had them, as most English people do, with lemon and sugar.  I will save maple syrup for other things, but for English pancakes, you can’t beat fresh lemon juice and golden granulated sugar.  And in case you think we always sit at the table, wrong! We had the pancakes on trays watching Michael Portillo’s Railway Journeys across North America.

As we don’t have pancakes often, husband was a little out-of-practice with the frying and he said that they actually needed just a little longer in the pan, but for me they were delicious. From 1/2 pt milk, 4 – 5 oz of plain flour and 1 egg, we had three pancakes each.  Quite sufficient for our supper.  Delish!

This post is headed Things To Do On A Wet Day, and it has been very wet indeed today. The rain has poured down, it has been wall-to-wall greyness from the moment we woke up (rather late, gone 9 am) to the time when we drew the curtains this evening.  So one thing to do was to have a lovely breakfast.  Today, it was grilled bacon (just 1 rasher each, dry-cured bacon) and grilled tomatoes on toast, and then toast and marmalade or honey, with coffee.

Husband then did some work for our sons’ business, and meanwhile I made our bed, generally tidied up, made late-morning coffee (breakfast wasn’t until gone 10 am, after our late start) and then younger son called with Barry, the grand-dog.

Barry is now, I think, about seven years old, quite old for a little  dog or, in the very least, middle aged.  We had a nice chat, I told him he was handsome but no matter how he put on his butter-wouldn’t-melt expression, he wasn’t having any B I S C U I T S.  This photo looks a little washed out because I had to lighten it – it was so dark today that Barry was merging into the darkness!  He’s wearing a little waistcoat which doubles as a harness.

Later on, we all had lunch, and then after son and Barry had left, and I’d cleared up the lunch things, I went into the sitting room and put the fire on so that I could be cosy, and then sat and read.

And that, really, is where I spent much of the rest of the day.  That is what is so nice about being retired – not having to fight our way home from an office, not having to brave the rain between office and car park.    After having had a cooked breakfast and a cooked lunch, supper was just a sandwich, nice’n’easy.  Indeed, a rainy day is sometimes welcomed as it tends to make us relax.  If it had been bright and sunny today, no doubt I’d have found jobs which needed attending to.  Instead, I’ve had a lovely relaxing time.  I hope you have, too.

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. Ah. A rainy day spent at home is always welcome in my book.

  2. Hello Margaret, yes, I agree, your day is the best kind of day.
    I love being retired and am never bored. I remember so well when I was working, waking up to rain and that sinking feeling knowing I had to brave it to get to work.
    Your candlestick is lovely, so nice that you have it to remember your parents collection. It is not possible to keep everything and its a good solution to just keep a sample. I had a similar situation when my Mum died, I lived in the US and she in the UK, so I was very limited as to what I could bring home. Honestly, it still haunts me to this day how ruthless I had to be. One thing I can suggest, it is to photograph an item that you are letting go, at least you will have that to remember it by.
    I do think also that the younger generation do not seem interested in the vintage family things. I know my son is not, one day maybe he will think differently but here and now it is of no interest to him. To the end I am being firm with myself and parting with things long kept. I have always been a bit of a hoarder, something to do with the make do and mend post war era I grew up in I suppose.
    Best wishes, stay warm and well.
    Pam in TX.x

    • Margaret Powling

      It is a very good idea to photograph things, as you did, Pam. My Mum had some rather nice clothes. She was never wealthy, but she bought carefully and at one stage in her life she knew a very wealthy lady and they were the same size for clothes. When this lady had worn an outfit a couple of times, she sold them and often Mum would buy them. They were perfect, not a mark on them, and some of them really designer clothes and some she bought for me, too. They were not modern enough for charity shops, items from the 1960s, which today are very much collected and so I decided to give them to the National Trust’s costume collection at Killerton House here in Devon, and their costume curator came to see them and choose the best of the outfits for the collection, so many of them will be cared for and sometimes put on view for the public, which I think is lovely.
      Fortunately, while elder son prefers more modern things, younger son loves all the old things my mother had, and he has much of her furniture in his house, and he was delighted to know that in my Resources Cupboard I have eight large boxes of her belongings, as well as many paintings stored in our loft. I will eventually take some of those out and perhaps hang them again in our sitting room. Yes, we who were brought up in that immediately post-war era find it hard to part with perfectly good things, we consider it wasteful. Besides which, so many of the things were lovely in their own right, and also have such personal and evocative memories attached to them.

  3. Barry is so cute! And I love his name! I agree, lemon and sugar is the very best pancake topping. I will have to watch out for Michael Portillo’s North America programme – I absolutely loved his ‘British rail journeys’. Susan

    • Margaret Powling

      Michael Portillo’s latest railway journeys end on UK TV (BBC2, 6.30-7.00pm each weekday evening) this coming Friday, so only three more episodes of this series to go, Susan. It’s been on for a month and I’ve watched every one, it’s been excellent.
      Yes, Barry is a dear little dog, and yes, lemon and sugar is the best pancake topping.

  4. Barry’s toothy grin is adorable. It’s good to see that he continues to get the best seat in the house ! His little jacket cum harness is fetching.

    Reading yours and Pam in Texas comments about saving belongings from our mothers makes me feel all gooey and sentimental. I’m fortunate to have several items from my grandmothers – items they gave me and others which were left to me after they died. Those things are precious as they evoke strong memories. I would never make a minimalist either 🙂

    i continue to envy your cool weather – at about 8:30 this morning the radio announcer said it was 94% humidity. I’m sure my brain fried in today’s heat. It reached 31 deg today.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, Lara, Barry is a dear little dog, it was nice to see him yesterday.
      How lovely that you have some of your grandmother’s things. I never knew either of my grandmothers, they died long before I was born, sadly.
      Oh my goodness, that sounds awful – 94% humidity, and 31C. It’s chilly here but there’s a bright blue sky.

  5. Oh Barry, you are such a handsome little chap but even that couldnt persuade your human Granny to give you a biscuit and quite right too!
    We had a very similar day yesterday Margaret, the house was battered all day with heavy wind and rain so it was a perfect day for keeping warm and snug inside.
    Another one here who can totally relate to the heart breaking decisions needed when clearing a parents home, I went through the same last year when my darling Mum died and the family home needed sorting through. As others have said you can’t keep everything but I chose quite a few bits and pieces that now have pride of place in my own home. The most emotive thing I found were my parents love letters to each other when they first met and got engaged, they were kept in a memento box tied up with ribbon for 54 years. I couldn’t possibly throw them away but neither could I read them ( they were and still are private between them in my eyes) so the box came home with me and now sits in the bottom of my wardrobe, part of them to cherish always.

    • Margaret Powling

      Barry has a tendency, like dogs do, to cock his head to one side and look appealing. I’ve told him it doesn’t work with me, he can’t have a biscuit and that is that! You have to be firm with dogs, they’re pack animals, and you have to let them know you’re top dog!
      I was sorry to hear your mother died only last year, Elaine. It took me more than two years even to begin to sort things, it was all in what is now our bed sitting room upstairs, it was like Steptoe’s yard, everything piled up, but I just hadn’t the inclination to go through it. Eventually, I made the move and started putting things into some kind of order, things to keep, things for the tip, things for the charity shops and things for auction. Of course, the things which went to auction didn’t fetch much, I never expected them to, but it 2002 was about the height of minimalism and no one wanted pretty things on their shelves, they wanted two or three green apples on a white plate and a bunch of twigs in a vase at most! The vogue for everything vintage has arrived since then, but too late for my mother’s belongings.
      How lovely to have your parents love letters. I don’t have anything like that of my parents, but I do have the receipt from their 3 night honeymoon (Dad was in the RAF and on leave just for the wedding in March 1940). I think you are right not to read the letters, perhaps you will just pass the on to your own family – they will be sufficiently removed from the letters, in a manner of speaking, not to feel intrusive in reading them, perhaps.

  6. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Lemon and sugar is, in my book, the ONLY way to eat pancakes. We haven’t had any yet as husband has been a little out of sorts for the past few days, so I’ve suggested that I make them at the weekend or next Week instead.
    I absolutely love the inkwell. I still use Watermans ink (not a cartridge) as I have done for more years than I can remember. I wonder how much more ink my large scrawl has used over the years than if I had had small neat writing!
    On a cold rainy day there is little more appealing than a cosy sitting room with a fire.
    Your candlestick looks perfect by the tall coffee pot. I like groups rather than single items. I didn’t keep many of my mums things but I do have a few of which I am particularly fond.

    • Margaret Powling

      I’m sorry to hear your husband hasn’t been too well, Eloise, and I hope he will feel better soon and that he is able to enjoy pancakes at the weekend.
      Glad to hear you still use a pen. Husband bought me my Parker 51 when we first were going out (it was my first birthday present from him, I don’t mean my first birthday, ha ha!) but the inside has now perished. I could have it mended, but even the barrel has cracked and I now use a Lamy Safari pen.
      Glad you like the candlestick, it seemed to go quite nicely with the other items.

  7. Yes, we post war children definitely are waste-not-want-not. My childhood (not my teens) were so frugal! Empty house, very few toys, very few outings. However, we were resourceful, and I find that a great attribute.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, we post-war children were resourceful. I was so fortunate in that my parents had a newsagent’s shop and so I had my fill of newspapers, comics, magazines and books to look at, provided I was really careful with them so that they could be returned to stock. But I had my own magazines, books and comics, too. But toys were for birthdays and Christmas only, rather than having new toys all year round, that many children have today.

  8. I love it when Barry features in your blog – he looks such a character!

    • Margaret Powling

      Barry is quite a character! However, he’s a terrier (a Patterdale) and as such can’t be trusted off the lead, his raison d’etre is to go to earth (hence the name terrier), to chase rabbits and so forth. Our son and his partner sometimes allow him off the lead in very open spaces, far from roads or other people and they do what they call a ‘biscuit run’, where as they each have some dog biscuits and he runs from one to the other of them when they should “Biscuit, Barry!” so that keeps his attention away from other things but gives him exercise as well! I would add they are tiny biscuits, and he is getting exercise!

  9. love it Margaret. Proper English Marmalade too on a beautifully laid table! Now I know you love Marmalade I will bring you in some of husband’s. You can’t beat it. x

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Gill, for looking in and for leaving a comment! I’d love some of your husband’s marmalade. Mum used to make ours, she’d have what we called a marmalade marathon in January each year and make 100lbs (or 100 jars, as some were larger than 1lb and some smaller) and she would give us half, so that we’d have 50 jars to last us the year! I have her recipe somewhere, but I’ve never made it myself. I know she used not only Seville oranges, but also a grapefruit and a sweet orange in her mixture and it was lovely, with a jewel-like clarity and colour.

      • Hi. Lemon and sugar only on my pancakes….. Love Barry the dog.

        • Margaret Powling

          Yes, lemon and sugar on pancakes! Mind you, I’ve tried maple syrup on Scotch pancakes (what we called drop scones when I learned how to make them when at school) and I didn’t care for maple syrup at first, but now I quite like it – so different from golden syrup, and it also makes a nice dressing for salad or cabbage/kale, when mixed with lemon juice.
          Barry-the-dog is quite a character!

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