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Keeping Warm Indoors

We have been ‘promised’ snow.  It has already fallen on parts of the UK but, as yet, not a glimmer of the white stuff here in South Devon.  Actually, I wouldn’t mind if we had a light snowfall.  It makes everywhere look so pretty.  But, of course, this is a rather selfish attitude; I should think about the people who have to go to work and not loll in bed with cups of coffee and hot water bottles and magazines and books.  But all the same, it does make everywhere so pretty.

Although we haven’t yet had a snowfall, it’s very cold and so we’re staying indoors and therefore this post is more like a re-run of the previous one, as nothing much happens!

The freesias that I bought on Saturday have bloomed.  Yes, a number of buds fell off and one of the stems was broken, but the rest revived in water and plant food.  I cut them down substantially, so they’re more posy-size than grand-display size, and they’re now on the kitchen table; the scent is wonderful.

When we decide to stay indoors it’s always nice when Postie brings nice things, and yesterday was no exception. A magazine and a book.

I think this month’s cover is particularly attractive and the bright daffodil yellow will really stand out on the newsstands.  And what a lovely room.  It looks timeless to me. It could be a room in the 1930s or today, could it not?

I took out a subscription for this magazine a few months ago and I have not been disappointed. But that doesn’t mean to say I like all the homes featured.  This month there are two homes I particularly dislike but I dare say I’m in a minority.  They are modern and austere. I do not feel I could relax in them. But one home I really like, it has soft materials and lots of interesting artefacts, pictures and books.

This room is both smart and cosy at the same time.  The furniture is elegantly placed, symmetrically, on either side of the fireplace; indeed, it is rather a formal look, but there are plain cream coloured curtains without elaborate pelmets and soft velvet for the upholstery which soften the overall slightly austere look.  Another part of this room has an attractive desk:

The book which arrived was published in 1987 and so it’s 31 years old this year.  It wasn’t expensive and as with another recent acquisition (below), the writing more than matches the quality of the photographs.

English Country, mind, is very much how the rather well-to-do lived (and at the time publication, live) in rather lovely country houses in England.  Not the grand places such as Castle Howard, Blenheim Palace, Hardwick Hall, Chatsworth, but Georgian houses, Victorian rectories and so forth, places seldom (well, in 1987) open to the public but large enough to require a whole contingent of staff to run them.    Even the writers, Caroline Seebohm and Christopher Simon Sykes, were brought up in such places where there were not only servants but also day and night nurseries and a schoolroom for the children, and of course a nanny to take charge of the young ones.

And so this book is therefore slightly ‘dated’ – it pre-dates the computer/mobile age – as well as being ‘timeless’.  I am absolutely loving reading it and looking at all the lovely photos of the houses included therein.

I do like bedrooms that have sloping ceilings to have wallpaper continuing up the slope and  right across the ceiling, and this is such a lovely small print wallpaper for a bedroom.  And so yesterday, I spent quite a bit of time reading this lovely book and my latest magazine.

I also finished reading Lucinda Riley’s first novel in her Seven Sisters series, The Seven Sisters, and very good it was, too.  Just a few little things that a good editor would’ve spotted, some speech which wasn’t quite as people might’ve spoken in the 1920s, and also at one point the term Art Deco was being explained during the 1920s when the term “Art Deco” wasn’t named thus until the 1960s.  In the 1920s this style would’ve simply been referred to as “modern”.  But a good story and I have now started the second in the series, The Storm Sister.

The day before yesterday, the sky at dusk looked really pretty, pink above the sea …

But yesterday, it was very windy and the sea was rough, so in the morning the view was quite different …

I have ‘zoomed’ this slightly so you can see the waves just crashing onto the beach.  Today, all is calm again. (Sorry about those vertical reflection lines.)  I wonder whether, before long, I shall be photographing snow?

Until next time.


PS  At the beginning of this post there is now a User Rating.  I don’t know how or why this has suddenly appeared, for I certainly didn’t put it there and I don’t know how to get rid of it.    As yet I’ve managed not to have adverts on my blog, and now this kind of thing suddenly appears.   Who needs ratings?  I don’t write a blog to have ‘ratings’; I write it because I enjoy sharing my news and views with others, no more, no less than that.  So I can only apologise for it being there.



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 haven’t had a proper snowfall here but we’ve had some snow showers this morning, interspersed with sunshine and sometimes with the sun shining at the same time (wonders: do you get a rainbow with snow and sun, and if not, why not?) I don’t think we’re due to get any pitching snow until Thursday or Friday and I’ll be quite happy if that doesn’t happen. Although I notice on the online weather forecasts that they have upgraded us from a yellow warning to amber. We’re north east of Bristol.

    I love to look at the photos of interiors but I have absolutely no natural skill for that. I just try to be clean and comfortable and not clash too much!

    Back home from my daughter’s, it was nice to get out for a couple of hours, I was beginning to feel a bit stir crazy.

    • Margaret Powling

      I hadn’t thought of that, Alison … whether you can have a rainbow when there’s sun and snow. I wonder if we could get an answer if we Googled it?
      I am sure you are more skilled than you admit, because if you have a clean and comfortable house and don’t have clashing colours, you are more than half-way there to having a nicely, arranged home which is really what interior decoration is about. But some people aren’t as interested as I am with décor. Even though we can’t aspire to live in a grand country house or a smart town house, I’ve always been interested in interiors and have read a lot of books on the subject and know quite a lot of the theory without having the remotest opportunity of putting that theory into practice!
      Still no snow here. I’m waiting, patiently!

  2. We had several snow flurries yesterday here in East Anglia and it was bitterly cold so nothing melted, today has been better with some sunshine so the snow has mostly disappeared but we are due further snowfall tomorrow, we will see!
    I especially like the picture of the country kitchen Margaret, it’s very much my kind of room being in no way all fitted out to the gills, you can just imagine sitting down at the table to have a good natter over numerous pots of tea, perfect!
    Glad that you are enjoying your book, the PD James that I picked up last week is very good and reasonably modern, well 1990, so not too dated.

    • Margaret Powling

      At last we have a light coating of snow, the first since 2010, Elaine. It is bitterly cold, too.
      Glad the P D James book is good – 1990 isn’t as old as the one I attempted to read which, I think, was 1968.
      I love that country kitchen, too; it would look good even today, just as much as it did 31 years ago.

      • Well it’s snowed all night Margaret and is still coming down, our world is now a winter wonderland! We can see the main road that bypasses the village from our top windows and there are very few cars making the journey, far more sensible to stay indoors if you can. The local radio is full of reports of roads and schools closed.
        How are things in the sunny southwest?

        • Margaret Powling

          Oh, how petty that must look Elaine. We had only a slight shower of snow and now it’s disappeared. I think it is due to arrive with us tomorrow, from the Iberian peninsula rather than Russia. Must check the food to make sure we don’t have to go out once it’s here!

          • Morning Margaret, have just heard on the radio that the met office have issued a red weather warning for Devon and Somerset, hope you are ok and keeping warm.

          • Margaret Powling
            Margaret Powling

            Oooh, a Red warning for Devon and Somerset, eh? I’ve not had the TV on yet to hear this. We were keeping nicely warm until our boiler (furnace for those in Canada and USA) failed, so we phoned our plumber at ten minutes to eight this morning, and left a message on his voice mail. He got back to us within 10 minutes and he said he had an employee who lived close to where we lived and he’d send him over. The chap arrived 10 minutes later, so only 20 minutes from initial phone call to a plumber calling – you can’t get better service than that, can you? He said the outlet pipe from the boiler, where the escaping condensing gases go, had frozen, so he heated that and wrapped old towels around it and it’s fine now. And if it happens again, we’ll know what to do. This is the first time in 32 years this has happened, either to our original boiler (furnace) or this ‘new’ one, which is only about 4 years old, so that shows how cold it has been. But not only cold, the wind has greatly reduced the temperature. But the heat was only off for a couple of hours and we do have back-up electric convector heaters in case of this kind of emergency, so we were still nice and toasty. But great service from our plumber.

  3. Hello Margaret from the snowy Surrey Hills. I’ve just come home from the most wonderful winter walk, tucked into a bowl of homemade chunky root vegetable and lentil soup and now I’m settling down to read and sew in my sunny east and west-facing sitting room. I love a snow day! I think you and I share a similar taste in interiors. When we moved here 26 years ago I took out a three-year subscription to House & Garden which I found invaluable when choosing fabrics for curtains (I still have my original curtains in the sitting and dining rooms which I had professionally made) and carpet (I chose Brintons in the colour spearmint or eau-de-nil, and they still look as good as new). I really don’t like these austere Scandinavian-inspired interiors, at least not in the UK, and read recently that they have had their day and velvet and mahogany furniture is coming back in – hooray. I thought of you again on Saturday as we visited Grey’s Court near Henley, a beautiful Elizabethan Manor House surrounded by the Chilterns and the home until 2003 of Sir Felix and Lady Brunner of ICI – I could have moved in! I think I would enjoy looking through your new books on the English style. I visited Wisley on Saturday and borrowed from their library four interesting books about gardens including one about Monk’s House, the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf. No cake for afternoon tea here as I gave my daughter the remainder of the chocolate brownies when I took her back to Canterbury on Monday. Dare I put the oven on for a batch of scones? I have an unopened jar of homemade raspberry jam in the cupboard.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I love a snowy day, too Sarah, but we rarely get them in Torbay. This is supposed to be the English Riviera, where the wealthy would come in the times of the Napoleonic Wars when they couldn’t get to the sunshine on the Continent. You’d not think it was anything like the Riviera today … from our sitting room window I can see the waves crashing onto the beach, and my goodness, it does look cold out there. We’ve had a light dusting of snow, but more expected overnight. I shall now be disappointed if it doesn’t come. But how lovely to have a walk in the snow and then return to a warm house and home-made soup. That really does take some beating, doesn’t it?
      We’ve lived on our house for 32 years and we have our original curtains, too, which were professionally made. As they say, buy good and things will ‘last’. Of course, some people would’ve tired of them, but we still like them. Oh, those austere Scandi rooms leave me cold, literally and metaphorically! I don’t like the vogue for wooden floors, either. I mean wooden floors without carpet or rugs. I think of the noise and there being unpleasant to walk on with bare feet unless there is underfloor heating. Yes, velvet and mahogany are for me, too!
      That house you visited – I must Google it – sounded my kind of house. How lovely to live fairly close to such a lovely place, and also to be near Wisley and to be able to borrow from Wisley’s library.
      Ooh, it’s scone weather – I’ll bet you are tempted to doing some baking. We’ve just had a slice of toasted fruit loaf (a bought one, the Ian Rankin frit loaf from Waitrose) and instead of butter on it we use lemon curd. Very tasty it was, too.
      Keep warm!

  4. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    What a stunning colour those freesias are. Beautiful! I like the kitchen picture; it looks so cosy. The green sofa by the fireplace is gorgeous.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, the colour is a very rich colour and the scent is lovely. That kitchen from my latest ‘style’ book belonged (or still belongs) to the stencil artist, Mary MacCarthy. I’ve always longed for a kitchen large enough to have a sofa and low table (not exactly a ‘coffee’ table, which sounds so-1970s, perhaps the lowest point in interior décor I can think of, but that’s just wishful thinking. I don’t want an ‘island’, I don’t want open plan (perish the thought), I don’t necessarily want a range (I don’t want to have to crawl on my hand and knees to get something out of the oven)but a sofa would be just lovely in a cosy kitchen.

      • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

        I had an island but we took it out (well, not exactly ‘we’. I suggested, husband executed) because it meant we could have a larger table. At a push, I can now seat 12 people which is a rare need, but very useful when the family all visit together. It has crossed my mind once or twice that if were were to remove the run of units in the dining area of the kitchen, that a sofa could be put there. It would be nice but doubt that we’ll do it. My daughter has a range and I love the look of it but there’s an awful lot of it to clean!

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          My goodness, that’s a large table, Eloise! We can get 6 around our dining table and only three, four at a pinch, around our kitchen table. But both were bought for our family (just four of us) at the time of buying our dining suite (they are called “dining sets” today, which I think is an awful description; it’s a “suite” of furniture, not a “set”) and when we bought our kitchen table, it was for the two of us after our sons had flown the nest.
          Your daughter could get an oven-cleaning-company in, ha ha! I have someone professionally clean my own about once every 9 months, between which I wipe it out myself, but it doesn’t get very dirty, I’m glad to say. I clean the hob myself.

          • Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

            My daughter in law recently had her oven professionally cleaned and it looks amazing – like new.
            The table is usually a six seater but has two inserts (I’ve no idea what the proper word is) that are stored beneath the main surface. This extends it to ten but another two can be squashed in if necessary. In fact, come to think of it, there were thirteen of us one Christmas. It does rather fill the room when fully extended!

          • Margaret Powling
            Margaret Powling

            Yes, a professional cleaner makes an oven look wonderful! I really couldn’t believe it the first time I saw ours freshly cleaned. I thought I made a good job, but it didn’t hold a candle to what he did! Like new, and that’s no exaggeration.
            Ah, inserts – that’s the secret! For your table, I mean! We bought our table as a four-seater, just for ourselves and add a couple of chairs when necessary, six is max really, plus our little grandson. When we’ve had more here for Christmas, we add a table alongside.

  5. I have just caught up on your posts Margaret, thank you for them all. I find them calming and most enjoyable.
    I have experienced a dental situation which is ongoing and most unpleasant, requiring oral surgery, so I am sorry I have not commented before, to let you know that I so look forward to your posts.
    I hope you and all your readers are safe and keeping warm in the freezing conditions.
    Best wishes to everyone.
    Pam in TX.x

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I am really sorry to hear about your dental surgery, Pam, and I hope you will soon be well again. Please do not fret about not having been able to leave comments recently, it’s just nice to hear from you whenever you can comment. It’s certainly very cold here. At the moment we haven’t had a further snowfall since the flurry yesterday, but we are expecting one later today when Storm Emma hits the south west of the UK on it’s way north from the Iberian Peninsula.

    • Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

      Calming – a perfect description of Margaret’s blog, Pam.

  6. Has the snow reached you yet, Mrs Powling? I have been reading about the beast from the east and seeing pictures of white carpets of snow in other parts of England. For people like me who live in the tropics, we only ever see snow this way!
    Anyway, I hope you are not inconvenienced too much by it and get to stay warm and cosy with your lovely magazines and books which you always photograph so well:)

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Kavitha, and yes, we have snow, and quite a lot of it! Not had this much in many years, it is quite extraordinary and, according to the Met Office, it’s the first day of spring! Our area is deep in snow, there is a blizzard blowing as we speak and so parts of our drive has snow piled up while the road, just outside, has some bare patches where the show has been whipped away by the strong wind. But we had clear warnings that this weather was on its way, and so we have plenty of food, and have the heating on night and day. And, as I speak, it’s getting steadily worse, and will do until this Storm Emma blows itself out by later tomorrow, I think. We are lovely and cosy by the fireside, and watching the News on TV and seeing the weather reports from all around the country.

  7. Those velvet couches look very comfortable indeed. And I like how the cover of the magazine shows the dog having the best seat in the house. I’m sure Barry would approve of such a photo. I agree with your views on austere-looking interiors – often when watching programs such as ‘Grand Designs’ where the finished product is all sharp angles, uncovered windows and stiff- looking furniture I’ll say out loud ‘yes but how do you lounge around in your pyjamas / leggings / trackies in that ??’. My cat and I can take up most of our four-seater couch between us with cups of tea, iPad, remote controls, cozy rugs, cushions, etc.

    Those twin beds look very cutesie. I also like the kitchen – it looks very inviting. The bright green lounge/sitting room with the blue and white striped (ticking ?) sofa is also very pretty. So much for ‘blue and green should never be seen’ !

    I hope the cold blast has blown through by now xx

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I think Barry would look good on that chair on the cover of the magazine, too, Lara! Yes, austere interiors are just that: austere. No place to get really comfortable. How do you get comfortable on chairs with wooden arms, upright sofas more like benches with a padded back? I don’t wear trackies or pyjamas around the house but I do wear leggings sometimes or a dress with tights, and I do like to lie on one of our sofas to read, you can’t do that on a bench-like sofa! Even our dining table has rounded edges, no sharp corners. Yes, some of the rooms in the book are lovely and while they were photographed 30 years ago, they’d look good today, I think. Perhaps some of the window-treatments might be different (lack of festoon blinds, which are now passe). Yes, so much for ‘blue and green should never be seen’! These colours usually look wonderful together – we only have to think of blue sky and grass, don’t we?
      We are still in the grip of icy weather, traffic at a virtual standstill and a train stranded on the south coast of the UK overnight, plus drivers stranded on the M62 motorway across the Pennines in northern England, we have had the most unusual weather conditions, especially for this time of the year. But we are snug and warm indoors, with heat and food, and won’t be going anywhere.

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