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A Busy Friday


Today we have experienced what might best be described as a hint of spring.  We awakened to blue skies and glorious sunshine and so, rather than turning over and going back to sleep as we have been doing during days of torrential rain, we almost jumped out of bed (metaphorically speaking, our jumping days are long past!) and were out, heading towards Lidl and Waitrose, by just gone 10am.

We don’t go to Lidl as often as we used to, but we do buy products for the washing machine and dishwasher there, plus their excellent coffee, so tend to stock up when we do go.

Once we’d stocked up on the household products we headed to Waitrose. I have to say of all the supermarkets – and we have tried all of them over the years – it is easily our favourite, and today I had a collection of their own money-off vouchers which they had sent to me as a My Waitrose card holder.  Whether they are relating the vouchers to what individual customers buy I don’t know, but we could use several of them which is unusual, they’re usually for items we don’t normally purchase.   And so we have had several bargains including £2 off flowers, £2.50 off any magazine, and so forth, and when I checked my receipt we’d had £12 off the total, plus we had a free newspaper and free coffee for each of us.

I love seeing what people buy, I look into shopping trolleys and imagine what they will be cooking, so here is our trolley’s worth for today (the ice cream went straight into the freezer, Kelly’s Clotted Cream vanilla ice cream).  This photo doesn’t show the items from Lild’s which were mainly household products, with just a few veggies, such as cucumber, salad cress, bananas, and a cauliflower.

We bought a sandwich in Waitrose and had half each, with our ‘free’ coffee, while sitting in the car, the sunshine making us so warm, even with the car windows open, we had to remove our coats.  Then home, and after putting the food away and tidying the kitchen, I changed my clothes and joined husband who was already working in the garden.  It was sunny and reasonably mild, with no wind, and so we started tidying up the garden after the winter.  I swept the terrace in front of the summerhouse, moving the table and chairs and bagging up all the fallen leaves, and husband began dismantling an old metal arch that had collapsed in high winds in the winter, and chopped down the clemantis montana that had been on this arch for years (the weight no doubt not helping the poor old arch.)  This area of the garden needs attention and we intend either to replace the arch and plant a climbing rose, or perhaps remove even the honeysuckle that is planted there and which we haven’t removed (as yet) and plant a small fruit tree.

On the seaward side of the house, facing due east,  I’d put the small pots in which I’d planted crocus a couple of years ago (they flowered last spring and after they had finished flowering, instead of removing the crocus, I just tucked them away until they re-flowered this year) and brought them to the area in front of our back door.  They haven’t all bloomed yet, but they will, eventually, I hope.

Crocus in the small pots, narcissi in the large blue pots (one of these days I will get rid of them, I liked them 20 years ago but now I prefer terracotta, black or pastel green)

It was lovely to be out of doors again rather than indoors, watching the rain coursing down the windows.  Even sweeping paths, generally tidying up, removing twigs from the grass where they had fallen from our walnut tree, and then putting the dustbins back where they ‘live’ (they are washed by a bin washing company once a month, and it was bin-wash day today, so they’re all clean and sweet-smelling, the large black wheelie bin, the boxes for the recycling and the food waste bin. I like to have them all washed even though the recycling items don’t really make the boxes very dirty, and any food waste is in biodegradable bags.  It is also good to support a local tradesman.)

I think we spent about two hours in the garden during which time we had a mug of Borvil.  I’d forgotten how lovely a mug of hot Bovril is while out in the garden!

We came in about 3 pm, by which time it was becoming chilly, and then I arranged the flowers we had bought, spray carnations and daffodils from Lidl (how could I resist these at 95p a bunch) and lisianthus from Waitrose.  Oh, and a small miniature rose from Waitrose, reduced to £1.99.

The lisianthus and the carnations are now in the sitting room …

And the miniature rose is in our bedroom …

Last week’s daffodils, still in bloom

And lots of reading matter … I bought the latest Country Living magazine, using the £2.50-off voucher.

A little while ago a dear friend kindly sent me Tracy Chevalier’s novel, The Last Runaway. I have started reading this and am enjoying it very much.  A theme running through the book, appropriately like a ‘thread’, is the theme of quilts (or ‘comforts’ as they are called in America – well, according to this novel.)  I just happened to have a spare bookmark from a Persephone novel which shows patchwork, and thought this would make an appropriate bookmark.

I do like to ‘match’ a bookmark to the book I’m reading, if that makes sense?  Either in colour or style or in some way, such as this one showing patchwork.

And just as I finished arranging the flowers (I say “arranging”, but I do no more than cut them to a suitable size and put them in vases or jugs) I had a delivery of a book which I ordered yesterday.  My cousin has read each one in the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley and recommends them, and so I’m going to try the first one, after I’ve read The Last Runaway, of course.

In all, husband and I have had a most enjoyable day.  We’ve not been anywhere special, we’ve not had lunch out – unless you call a shared sandwich and Waitrose coffee in the car sitting in the car park lunch out! – but we have enjoyed, as ever, being together, doing the shopping (and appreciating that we can afford to shop while being aware that many people aren’t as fortunate) which includes some treats such as flowers, magazines, chocolate, none of which could be considered essential.  We enjoyed being in the garden, even if it does need much more attention after the winter. And we enjoyed our mugs of Bovril, drunk outside, in the fresh air.  How good it is, and I don’t wish to sound smug, to be able to enjoy such simple pleasures.

The view from the side window of our sitting room’s bay window late this afternoon, the end of a very pleasant day (sorry about the reflections in the glass)

I hope you’ve had an enjoyable day.

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. We too have had a great deal of sun today Margaret, so much so that the solar lights in the garden are casting a decent amount of light now it’s dark.
    I made the most of the lovely day and took my horse out for a long hack, she seemed as pleased as me to be out and about for a change and stepped out well, we even saw a couple of roe deer on the far side of the field, beautiful.
    It’s funny that you mention a warming mug of Bovril, I hadnt had any for years and then recently had a cup at a football match and liked it so much that I picked up a jar next time we went food shopping.
    As always your flowers look so attractive and I loved the idea of matching a bookmark to a certain quality in your current read, you have such an eye for detail.

    • Margaret Powling

      How lovely for both you and your horse, having a long hack. Mind you, I’d be terrified that far up on an animal who might rear up at any time! But you can see further on a horse, I’ve no doubt, than merely walking the country lanes. What a beautiful country we live in, every county so different. We are very fortunate, indeed.
      Bovril is lovely, there really is no substitute for a mug of Bovril when working in the garden on a cold day or, as you were, at a football match!
      I might post some of my photos, taken years ago, of books and bookmarks. I use postcards as well as regular bookmarks. I don’t always search for something special, but I have several bookmarks in a wicker basket in our study and I just happened to see the patchwork one, and thought it suitable for the book.

  2. A sunny day here in the Midlands too – at long last! Snap with the Waitrose vouchers – they’re stopping doing the ten favourite customer-picks promotion in favour of sending out tailor-made vouchers. Like you, I was able to use all mine and saved £10 plus free drink/newspaper. I’ve got £6 of Tesco vouchers too but will put them towards diesel. Your spring pots look as though they’ll be lovely. Not a good day otherwise – smallest granddaughter (2) is very poorly with chicken pox – no doubt her sister (4) will be getting it too. I got it at age 30 – not nice!

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Mrs Hughes (Lee?) I began typing a reply, and it might appear, when I had to re-log in for some reason … computers, don’t you just love ’em! But to your comments … yes, I had a letter explaining about the My Waitrose card and only half-read it, but this new idea of having the vouchers tailor-made is a good one (well, for Waitrose as well as the customers) because if the vouchers are for things customers don’t want (and I think in the main we’re a lot of traditionalists, we tend to buy much the same things each week with perhaps the occasional new item) it’s a waste of their time and money to print vouchers that go straight into the bin. Well, two of us – you and me – used our vouchers, didn’t we!
      I’m sorry to hear your little granddaughter has chicken pox and no doubt her sister will get it, but perhaps better now than later. Our sons had it when they were teenagers and it made them quite ill, and you having at 30 can’t have been pleasant.
      Cold here and dull after the lovely sunny day yesterday. No two days the same in England!

  3. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    It is certainly a good thing to shop around, Lidl and Waitrose sound a good combination. I always think Lidl’s fruit and veg look very good.
    Your pots are doing well, same here, the crocus look lovely. Blue is not really my colour but I do like blue pots in the garden.
    Have a lovely weekend Margaret.

    • Margaret Powling

      I am hoping, Marlene, that this will be the last season for the blue pots immediately outside the kitchen door. WE have had them for about 20 years. I think they would look better – for they are far too good simply to dispose of them – around the side of the house next to next door’s laurel hedge (the hedge that divides our property from our neighbour). There the blue wouldn’t look quite so garish next to all that very dark green, and they could be planted up with small shrubs or bulbs for the following spring. In their place, terracotta pots of the pale green ceramic pots such as we have next to the back door.
      Yes, you have a lovely weekend, too, Marlene.

  4. You don’t sound at all smug, just grateful for the good things in life. We have had two nice days now and I have dried washing outside both days. Not exciting to a lot of people, but that always makes me happy. We managed two walks today as well. I refuse to go out walking for the sake of it when it’s wet and cold, I don’t believe it can be good for body or soul. But when it’s sunny and milder like today then I do like to make the effort. It is an effort for me because I don’t enjoy walking for the sake of it, but there’s always a chance of meeting people with dogs and that makes it worthwhile 🙂

    I think we’re due rain tomorrow afternoon but at the moment the sun is just getting lower and there’s a blackbird outside singing his heart out. He was singing before it got light this morning too. Spring can’t be too far away.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you for that, Alison … I’d hate to sound pleased with myself, i.e. smug.
      How lovely it is to be able to dry our laundry outside once again after the damp days of winter, and how lovely you were able to have walks again when it’s a reasonable walking temperature and not freezing cold! It’s almost 5pm now and while it’s light, it’s turned chilly again, time for a cup of tea by the fire, I think. But as you say, spring can’t be too far away! I love to hear a blackbird singing – we have a blackbird who comes every year and sings in our walnut tree – I pretend it’s the same one, but perhaps it’s just any blackbird who is in the area and stops off in our tree for a rest!

  5. Hi — Just so you know, in California where I live, they call “quilts”, quilts. We’ve got the annual quilt show and classes at Asilomar in Pacific Grove and never, ever heard a quilter call their work a comfort. Interesting how words change when you travel around.

    Never-the-less, your blog is one I read every week and totally enjoy. You are a wonderfully comfortable writer and makes your part of the world clear and concise to me, plus it’s just downright enjoyable!


    • Margaret Powling

      Thanks for putting me right on that point, Margaret – I thought quilts and comforters were different things, comforters more like our duvet only thinner, and quilts just that, patchwork with a backing and with a padding between the then ‘quilted’, i.e. stitched together with intricate stitching. But in the book the character (a young Englishwoman living in Ohio) said that Americans called quilts “comforts”, so thank you for putting me right. I once went with a friend to the American Museum at Claverton Manor near Bath, here in the UK, to see the quilts and they are absolutely wonderful.
      I’m delighted you enjoy my blog! I have had so many lovely comments which I feel I don’t really deserve as I only write about our home life and the places we sometimes visit and as it’s been such a cold and wet winter we haven’t been to many interesting places so my writing has been just about cooking, flowers, books and trips to the supermarket. But if readers enjoy the blog, that makes me very happy, so thank you.

  6. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Tesco tailor their vouchers too – very useful. Waitrose is my favourite supermarket but we don’t have one nearby. I like Tesco better than any of the others but we do have a particularly spacious branch. I hate cramped supermarkets and have been in a few Tesco like that.
    The weather here has improved too. Lovely winter sunshine with the promise of Spring. What an interesting late afternoon sky.
    I’ve read a few Lucinda Riley books and enjoyed them. I’ve just started ‘A place called winter’ by Patrick Gale

    • Margaret Powling

      It makes such sense, doesn’t it, Eloise, to tailor those vouchers, so that they’re used and not wasted, it’s a win-win situation for both supermarket and customer.
      Yes, as well as price, I think most shoppers would put having spacious aisles one of their priorities when shopping in a supermarket. For me another is the noise factor. It is seldom, if ever, noisy in the branch of Waitrose where we shop, but our local Morrison is one of the noisiest places I know and we seldom go there. Much of the noise is, of course, the customers, but also the beeping of the tills (noiser then elsewhere) and also musak or announcements over the sound system. All of this tends to make me want to just leave the trolley where it is and run out. I have never liked shopping there although it is the closest supermarket to where we live, but as well as noisy, somehow it always seems declasse, and if that makes me a bit of a snob, so be it, but I’d rather part with my money in an environment I enjoy being in, so it’s Lidl for cleaning products (indeed, Lidl is a nicer store to be in than Morrisons for me) and Waitrose for food. I say “cleaning products” but I do get some natural products also online from Starbrands, lovely Cleanology products.
      I tried a couple of Patrick Gale novels but didn’t get on with them. That isn’t to say they’re not good, only not for me.

      • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

        To be honest, I’m not really enjoying ‘A place called Winter’. I think it’s well written but the story is not grabbing me. I’ll give it a little longer but may abandon it.
        I don’t like noisy places either.

        • Margaret Powling

          I have tried at least three Patrick Gale books and somehow I wasn’t able to enjoy any of them, Eloise, and gave up after a few chapters, and so it doesn’t surprise me that the story isn’t ‘grabbing’ you. I am really enjoying The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier which my kind friend sent me (as she’d enjoyed it and we tend to like similar books.)

  7. It’s the little pleasures in life which make us happy. l am moving this weekend & intend to have flowers in the house.

    • Margaret Powling

      Best of luck with your move, Ratnamurti. I hope you will tell us more about that in due course, and it will be lovely for you, once you are settled into your new home, to have flowers – they really make a house feel more like a home (provided, of course, you are not allergic to them.)

  8. Quilts are quilts everywhere in the USA, as far as I know. And, I myself am a quilter! Still love those blue pots! We still have snow, so no going out to start cleaning up.

    • Margaret Powling

      How lovely that you are a quilter, Jeannine. My mother used to make patchwork bedspreads, but she didn’t quilt them, she just backed them with plain material, but they were pretty – always hexagons and totally random, using whatever material she had to hand, not the wonderful designs that people make today. Oh, how awful to still have snow … here it’s just damp and dull, but at least we can get out and about if we need to.

  9. Lovely that you were able to enjoy time outside in your garden.

    As always, your photos are lovely and your writing very descriptive.

    I’ve heard of Bovril but never had it.

    • Margaret Powling

      Bovril is made from beef, it comes in a jar (a bit like Marmite, but a totally different product) and you spoon a teaspoon into a cup or mug, pour on boiling water, stir and enjoy. You maybe have a similar beef drink but under a different name, Lara?

      • I’m not sure if there is an equivalent in Australia. I will have a stickybeak next time I’m in the supermarket. We probably have Bovril here but I’d not come across it.

        • Margaret Powling

          Perhaps Bovril hasn’t made it’s way to Australia, Lara. It’s like a runny version of Oxo, from which you can also make a hot drink, but in my opinion, it’s far better than Oxo for a drink as Oxo is mainly an ingredient for casseroles and stews. I’m sure if it was available you’d have noticed it.

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