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More Minor Indulgencies

After three days of going out – two garden centres (Monday), the Zoo (Tuesday) and Waitrose and The Range (Wednesday) on Thursday and yesterday we battened down the proverbial hatches as very cold weather enveloped even mild Torbay.

There is one thing I like about being retired – apart from those days when we have, say, a dental appointment (as we have on Monday) in which case we need to be up and out of the house quite early –  is being able to take a cup of coffee back to bed on a cold winter’s morning and simply stay there as long as we like.  And so I enjoyed this minor indulgence, getting up quite late after perhaps two or even three cups of coffee.

But once up, showered and dressed, I would make us a ‘proper’ breakfast.  By ‘proper’ I mean not just porridge or a slice of toast and marmalade, but fruit (in this case prunes, below) and scrambled eggs on toast with bacon (or bacon & tomatoes on toast, one of my favourite breakfasts.)

Yesterday, Friday, our second day at home, with the weather very cold indeed, I made a roast chicken lunch.  I have been buying chickens from Waitrose that have been fed an Omega 3 rich diet, and as well as tasting very good, I hope their meat will also be doing us good.

The small roast potatoes look a trifle lost in this large dish, but my plan was to put all the veg in this dish but, instead, I put our veg onto the plates; we had stuffing with the chicken, purple sprouting broccoli, and carrot and white turnip mash, which I particularly enjoy (mashed with Normandy butter, which isn’t as strong as the bright yellow English butter, and black pepper) plus the small roasties and gravy.

We have watched some of the Winter Olympics but really, much of it leaves me cold.  Oh, I couldn’t resist that!  What on earth is ‘halfpipe’ and ‘slopestyle’?  I thought Olympic Games were meant to emulate traditional games, not include what I call circus-style ‘tricks’?  Such things as the alpine biathlon, speed skating, and even ski jumping, yes, but all that somersaulting on what look like skateboards look to me just plain silly.  Clever, I don’t doubt, and dangerous, too, but silly.  We might as well have the egg & spoon race, the sack race and, of course, let us not forget the three-legged race, in the Olympic Games.

When not watching people rushing down icy tunnels, head first on tea trays or doing what Clare Balding likened to the Grand National (i.e. over the jumps) on skies, I began reading Lucinda Riley’s novel, The Seven Sisters. This is the first in a proposed series of seven novels about seven non-related sisters (i.e. all adopted.)  I am very much enjoying it and on the strength of this novel, have already ordered the next two, and the fourth will be in published in paperback very soon.

Being me, I just had to put my hot Bovril in a blue mug so that it would go with the book.  But you know by now what I’m like for colour.

During the week two boxes of soaps that I’d ordered arrived from L’Occitane.  As you also know, I love fine soap, whether it’s by Roger & Gallet, Penhaligon’s, Floris, Tisserand, Bronnley, or as in this case, L’Occitane.  I had been given a box of their Shea Butter soaps for Christmas and we’ve just come to the end of those, so I re-ordered those, plus a box of floral-scented soaps.

After being indoors for two days, although it was nice to be in a cosy, warm home with plenty to eat and books to read, today we decided to drive to Waitrose as we needed just a few things, especially if the weather is set to become even colder next week, as the weather people on TV have promised.   We needed just a few basic things such as bread and potatoes but of course, I found a few treats for us, too.

I hope the freesias will flourish because as I unwrapped the cellophane several of the buds dropped off, indicating that they’d been without water for quite some time.  I’ve cut them down to half size, and plunged them into water and plant food, so I hope they will revive.  And oh, a box of lovely macarons.  Husband doesn’t care very much for these, but there again, I do think they are a female indulgence.  But he’s not gone without, don’t you believe it.  He chose a slice of New York style cheese cake.

I also picked up a new magazine, which will be my reading later this afternoon.

We drove home via the seafront.  It was quite windy and very cold but we parked for a minute or two so that I could photograph the waves …

As we arrived home the sun put in an appearance and I took some photos in our very untidy garden, as there are buds on our camellia bush and lots of flowers on a hellebore.

The late winter sunshine was shining through the hall window onto what might be the last bunch of daffodils from the supermarket.  A catalogue from Sworders, the fine art auction house, had arrived, something else to browse this afternoon.

It, very conveniently, has daffodil-yellow on the cover!  Thank you, Sworders!

I then made us ham, cheese and chutney sandwiches for lunch and now we’re going to have mugs of hot Bovril.

I hope you are enjoying a pleasant, restful Saturday.

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. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Hello Margaret,
    It is lovely being retired isn’t it, I know my husband loves it. There is always something to do though, we are busier than when we were both working, but it is nice that you can do things as and when you please.
    Love the Primroses, very pretty, our local garden centre has some double ones and I might treat myself to a few next week.
    L’occitane soaps are lovely, I have had them myself before, I only use nice soap now, yes they may seem more expensive but they last, much better than mushy cheap supermarket ones, which you can easily use three bars to one good one. Auction catalogues make a good read.
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, being retired is lovely, being able to pace oneself, take things slowly now and again, or speed up when you suddenly feel the urge to garden, or spring clean, or go out for a long walk, or take photographs, or write to a friend, or make a lovely meal or even do – as I do occasionally still – some writing. Just faffing around, arranging flowers, making the home look as good as I can, is a pleasure when we don’t have to cram that in between going to work. We are still busy but we don’t feel pressured as we did when going to work. We don’t need to spend a lot of money on holidays or dining out to enjoy ourselves, just being at home and not having to be in an office by 8.15 (for him) or 9.30 (as I used to have to be) is simply wonderful.
      I’m so glad you are a convert to good soap, Marlene. It lasts longer and is, usually, kinder to the skin, I think. I love the lather than you get from the lovely shea butter soaps by L’Occitane. Another producer of fine soap is the Italian company Nesti Dante – how could I have forgotten that! – and I shall be ordering a box of their Romantica soaps (floral) before long.
      Oh, I’ve seen some lovely furniture in the auction house catalogue – why people buy brand new when they can buy quality Georgian furniture for a very reasonable price, I do not know. There might be a few bumps and scratches, but so would we have if we were over 200 years old!

  2. Whilst not officially retired, I am not working at the moment having given up my last job to care for my late Mum and with my beloved often working from home we can usually enjoy a relatively easy start to the day. That said our little dog won’t allow much sleeping past 7am so he usually gets up first to walk her and then brings me a cup of lemon tea in bed, such a treat.
    Ha ha Margaret, I love the fact that you even match your mug to your book, how colour coordinated are you! I was in Ely yesterday and picked up some books in one of the many charity shops there, I found a couple of PD James and a Raymond Hill so that will keep me busy for a few days.
    It’s certainly turned much colder today and we are expecting snow on Tuesday/Wednesday, no matter, the cupboards and freezers are full, we have nowhere particularly to go so can stay at home if need be.
    Another fan here of good soap, I do like that rose collection from L’Occitane and also Cotswolds Lavendar.

    • Margaret Powling

      No, dogs certainly don’t allow one to have leisurely starts, Elaine! I know this from when we had our younger son’s dog, Barry, here to spend the night. This doesn’t happen very often, but Barry is an early riser!
      This colour co-ordination is getting out of hand, but I’ve always noticed colours, Elaine. Even as a child I wanted my bedroom decorated in a certain way, colour was always vitally important to me. Strangely enough, finding a marker for this predominantly blue book wasn’t easy as I have few postcards or bookmarks that are mainly blue. But I did find one that is moderately suitable.
      Do you know, I used to love the books of P D James and then a year or so ago I attempted to re-read one, one of her very early ones, and actually, I didn’t think it was very good. How our ideas change! Of course, writing, as with technology, has changed quite a lot over the past few decades and a book written in 1968 or thereabouts seems rather old-fashioned now, not simply because of the advance in technology – which is inevitable – but in the writing style. But I hope you enjoy your P D James and Raymond Hill novels (didn’t he write the Dalziel & Pascoe novels, or was that someone else?)
      Oh, I forgot to mention Cotswold Lavender, and also Norfolk Lavender, and also the Cotswold Perfumery. Since I posted my blog I’ve ordered some Nesti Dante soaps, ones I’ve had before the Romantica collection. They will scent my underwear drawer.

  3. I missed you in Waitrose – what time were you there? I would like to meet you as i8 feel I know you through your blog!!! If your flowers do not last then please feel free to return them and we will sort a refund out.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Fiona, I’ve had a look at my receipt and it was timed at 10.43 am and then we had our ‘free’ coffee in the car park. By the time we drove down through Wellswood and down to the sea front, the clock on the clock tower on the Strand read 11.05am. I shall have to ask for you next time we’re in Waitrose! Email me if you like (using the Contact icon) and then you can tell me, if you like, when you are working. I don’t think the flowers will flourish, I had to cut lots off the stalks to give the buds a sporting chance, but I’ve through out the label, I might retrieve it from the waste bucket so that I can bring it back. A shame, as I love freesias and although they only normally look like green stalks to start with, within a few days they open up and scent the sitting room with their lovely fragrance.

  4. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Oh freesias are wonderful, aren’t they…such a divine smell. What a shame that you lost some of the buds. It’s infuriating when that happens. And macaroons…mmmmmmm! The trouble is that if I have any, I just keep eating them. I always treat myself to a box to take on holiday when self catering. What excellent taste you have!
    Love the bowl that the primula are in.
    There is a L’Occitane shop in Worcester and I always pop in for a look. Their perfumes are very nice.
    Unfortunately I am only semi retired so have to get up early sometimes, but it seems more and more that even on non-work days my schedule is full so I don’t get much of a lie in very often.

    • Margaret Powling

      No, what excellent taste WE have, Eloise! My mother’s favourite flowers were freesias. I remember, as a young girl in our newsagent’s shop, a lady would bring my mother whole armfuls of long-stemmed freesias that her brother had grown. They scented our small living room behind the shop and I’ve never forgotten them. It was this lovely lady who gave me the gorgeous book I have on French fashions from the Victorian period and which I wrote about a long time ago on my blog. I can’t imagine anyone entrusting such a lovely book to a child (I was about 11 or 12 at the time) but she knew of my love of fashions and clothes and so thought I’d appreciate it, and I still have it.
      Yes, that bowl is one that belonged to my grandparents, I love it, too.
      I think it’s hard to have a lie-in when you normally go to work on some of the week days. I couldn’t lie-in when I worked part-time on Mon-Thurs inclusive (9.30 – 2.30). And on a Friday I would take my mother shopping, so no lie-in until the weekend in those days. Now, I lie-in whenever I feel like it – pure luxury!

  5. Such a soothing and beautiful post, Margaret, and your photography is gorgeous. You writing is very calming and the accompanying images are food for the eyes 🙂

    I love starting my day with tea in bed, sometimes too. I either read a book or write on a mini-laptop.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Fiona, lovely to hear from you! I’m so glad you are now settled in your new home and have your lovely doggies as companions, too! Thank you for your kind comments – as you know, it was you who encouraged me to have my own blog and I have to say I really enjoy writing it and receiving so many positive comments – and I’m learning all the time about life in different countries which is something I truly enjoy.

  6. You are such a bad influence! I’ve had Nesti Dante soaps before and they are lovely – so I’ve just ordered some more. I have no self control. Ah well, at least it’s not chocolate 😉

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh dear, I don’t mean to lead people astray, but if then they buy good soap rather than supermarket soap which goes all soft and slimy, then perhaps that is a good thing? I trust your family will also enjoy the gently fragranced soap and the lovely lather.

      • You can only lead people astray if they want to be led! I can afford it but I have that annoying personality that makes me feel guilty if I spend money on myself.

        • Margaret Powling

          I hadn’t thought of that, Alison, that you can only lead people astray if they want to be led. But that is a good thing, Alison: that you can afford good soap. The thing is now to stop feeling guilty. But that little voice which says, “No, you don’t really need …” whatever it is you want, is also a good thing. It prevents us spending unwisely, although a few little indulgences shouldn’t rock the fiscal boat. There is a saying, “A fool and his money is soon parted,” so even though I like books, magazines, perfume, flowers, and fine soap, I buy them within my financial means. I know you will really enjoy your Nesti Dante soaps and they will last (if, like I have, you have bought a box of six) many months.

          • I’m going to remember that quote, “you can only lead people astray if they want to be led.” Thanks for that, Alison. So very true. All this soap talk makes me want to look further into it (am I being led?!). I buy Dove soap for my husband and for myself, I much prefer body wash. Actually, I would prefer that he prefer body wash as well, but that isn’t going to happen. I find there’s so much less “soap scum” in the sink, tub, and shower walls if body wash is used. Any thoughts about that? Maybe better soap means less scum (?)

          • Margaret Powling

            Yes, it’s a good line of Alison’s, isn’t it, Jeannine? I’ve tried a body wash but I still prefer soap, I find body wash and all those liquid products a little slimy. Perhaps you live in a hard water area, in which case soap will leave more scum, but we have very soft water with little to no scum at all. But as we only shower, never bath (I can’t get into or out of a bath because of my arthritic hips) and have only ever used soap, I really don’t know whether there is less scum with soap than with body wash/shower gel.

    • My soaps have been delivered (yes, it is a pack of six different ones) and look and smell lovely. I can’t wait to use one but I have a sliver left to use upof another one. I had a pack of nine different ones for Christmas, good soaps but only about an inch square. I hate to complain, but they are square so hurt your hands for the first day or two, and then they quickly become too small to get any decent lather from. It’s a shame because they smell lovely. I suppose the idea is that you find one you love and buy the full size but that’s not really working for me.

      At the other end of the scale I love Di Palomo Wild Fig and Grape soap. It smells divine and lasts for ever but the cake is so big I struggle to use it for a week or so.

      There’s no pleasing me 😉

      • Margaret Powling

        My soaps are ‘out for delivery’, Alison! I do hope you will like them, I love these soaps and they look pretty, too. Yes, cubes of soap aren’t nice to use, they really do hurt your hands. Husband likes oval soaps which really fit nicely into the palm of the hand (such as Floris and Penhaligon’s and Bronnley). Oh, I must look up that soap you mention, Di Paloma Wild Fig and Grape … that sounds gorgeous. But I know what you mean, a soap has to feel right in the hands as well as smell nice and have a good lather.

  7. That all sounds lovely, Margaret. A beautifully gentle way to spend the day. Small indulgences like this are wonderful – and oh, the luxury of a lie in!

    I often promise myself that I will have one, but then I end up getting out of bed around 5am, full of energy and ready to face the world. This is not so bad during spring and summer, but is a real nuisance through the dark months of winter…of course the cats and the dog all think it is wonderful, so on the very rare day when I sleep in beyond that time, they start rattling the kitchen door. Helpful little creatures! On those days I am grateful for a good strong coffee.
    Books are my greatest indulgence.

    • Margaret Powling

      I’ve never felt inclined to jump out of bed at 5am, Elaine! I might be a lark rather than an owl, but right now I’m an owl at both ends of the day, late to get up and early to go to bed! But when you have animals to attend to they do make sure you get up to attend to them! Books aren’t an indulgence, though, are they? More a necessity!

  8. Like Eloise, I think your bowl is lovely, Margaret and complements the primulas well. They are such cheerful flowers. I had been thinking about scented soap recently so I will have a look in the L’Occitane shop in Nottingham which is our nearest city now. I ordered the Anna Spiro book from our local library, particularly as we feel so lucky to have such a lovely library in our small town and we are making sure we use it! The book is very interesting and colourful – nice to pick up and browse through.

    • Margaret Powling

      I love primroses, but best of all the wild ones in the hedgerows, Anne. When we were young we used to go ‘primrose-ing’, picking them for vases in the house, but these days people have learned this isn’t the wisest thing to do, but I do miss having a bowl of primroses on the table, the wild ones.
      I hope you will enjoy the Anna Spiro book, it’s certainly colourful! We also have a lovely library in our town, which is wonderful considering so many have closed.

  9. We are watching of your unseasonal cold snap on our nighttime news. Snow everywhere and pictures of people skiing instead of walking. As much as I’ve moaned about our long, hot, humid summer I don’t envy what’s happening in your part of the globe. I hope you are all keeping cosy indoors xx

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, there is snow in much of the country, Lara. Not deep as in countries such as Canada but a covering of the white stuff, nonetheless. But so far we’ve not had any here in Torbay. We’ve been ‘promised’ that we will have some by about Thursday. I shall be rather disappointed now if it doesn’t arrive!

  10. We have just stayed a few nights with dear friends who have lovely taste in decorating and are very clever in painting, sewing, modifying, building, etc. They often buy pieces in charity shops – things that I wouldn’t even notice – and transform them into wonderful items. There was a large collection of decorating magazines, several from the UK which I enjoyed reading and checking the websites of many of the brands advertised. There was no danger of me blowing the budget as the companies delivered only within the UK – just as well ! Oh how I drooled over the beautiful sofas, bespoke kitchens, wallpapers, home offices, etc. So many of the colours, furnishings and fixtures were so different from what we have in Australia, which makes sense I suppose due to our different climates. Poring over those magazines from the UK was like catnip for a stickybeak like me 🙂


    • Margaret Powling

      What a lovely expression, “catnip for a stickybeak”! I love that! But yes, I expect your homes in Australia are much more simply furnished, fewer ‘warm’ materials and colours for curtains and sofas as you don’t need them! And wallpaper is fashionable once again here, it goes in and out of fashion. Your stay with your friends sounded lovely and some people are very talented at making the most unlikely of objects into useful and beautiful things. I wonder which magazines you were looking at, perhaps they were some that I know or buy?

  11. I can’t recall the full title of the magazine but it was (something)etc. I distinctly remember the ‘etc’.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I will have a think about this, Lara. I do know there’s a title with an ‘etc’ tagged on the end, such as Living, etc, but not sure. Maybe another reader of this blog might know?

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