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What a Difference a Day Makes

Yes, such a difference from 24 hours ago when we were in the clutches of an icy blizzard.  Overnight, snow has turned to rain and then by mid-afternoon, the sun was shining.  The above photo was taken about ten minutes ago, just before 6pm, Saturday. The sky over the sea is hazy and I have zoomed slightly so that you get the full benefit of the pink sky over the sea.  All is now calm again.   It is also much milder and the snow is fast disappearing (and the bulbs are recovering).

Here are just some of the spring bulbs in our back garden, narcissi and tulips (photo taken early this morning.) They look a little battered and bruised but I think there’s life in them still.  Since I took this photo this snow has all but disappeared.

We were up bright and early again, and one of the first jobs husband did was to start sweeping snow from our driveway.  There was absolutely no need; we weren’t taking the car anywhere but when I looked out several men in their various drives were doing this.  Is it in male genes to sweep drives free of snow?  A bit of Neanderthal lurking within?  I know that for older chaps this Isn’t A Good Idea as the cold air has a tendency to thicken the blood and this can heighten the risk of heart attacks, but try telling that to husband.  He knows this anyway as it has been mentioned on TV by medical people Who Know About These Things, but will be listen?  No.  Neanderthal breaks out, along with the broom and spade.  The snow that he shifted is now melted and it would’ve done this anyway by now. And did we need to take the car out of the garage?  No, of course we didn’t.  And the other chaps across the road, seen sweeping their drives?  No, their cars have remained in situ all day, too.   Aren’t men funny? (I mean funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha.)

When he came back inside, he was cold, wet – for by now it was drizzling icy rain – and breathless, but he appeared to have enjoyed himself so I suppose that is all that matters.  Perhaps sweeping snow for men is a bit like building snowmen for children:  just something they feel they must do but they don’t really know why!

In the meantime I prepared breakfast. I thought he’d like a cooked breakfast today, but first we had fruit (prunes for husband, red grapefruit for me) …

and then we had bacon, eggs, tomatoes (on which I sprinkle dried basil), mushrooms, toast, marmalade and tea …

If the eggs don’t look pristine this is because for once I thought I’d ‘turn’ them. All very tasty, so we didn’t need any lunch as we had breakfast around 11.30am.  No, it wasn’t brunch, I’m not keen on this portmanteau word. This was breakfast.

After breakfast I decided to give the kitchen a clean.  Not the cupboards, just the worktops, windowsill, and floor so that it’s now all clean and tidy again.  It’s surprising that no matter how you wipe the surfaces and sweep the floor after food preparation and serving, small crumbs find their way into places you missed even though you thought you had been thorough.

I don’t often show photos of our kitchen.  It isn’t the most modern kitchen, indeed it’s 32 years old.  We made a few changes in 2000 (and that is now 18 years ago) and put in a new oven, hob, extractor fan over the hob, sink, and worktop, plus new wall tiles, and flooring, and since then we have renewed the flooring although I made a mistake in thinking that black would look good.  Unfortunately, it makes our already quite-dark kitchen (for it faces north) even darker.  The cupboards are oak and although 32 years old there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, so we keep thinking that we might simply paint them, put in new worktops, new sink, new hob, new tiles, and new flooring and this will give the kitchen a much-needed face lift. It’s just having the energy to start, especially when it’s still workable and not really in bad condition anyway.

I don’t like having to have a washing machine in the kitchen.  Kirstie Allsopp, décor guru and doyenne of many TV programmes such as Location, Location, Location,  is against this, even calling it unhygienic.  But we are not all able to have utility rooms or the latest must-have, a dedicated laundry room (or a pantry or boot room.)  I really wanted a black washing machine but we couldn’t find one (our dishwasher, a Bosch, is black, but they don’t make a matching washing machine – how silly is that? Perhaps those who organize these things at Bosch consider that if you can afford one of their dishwashers you can have a dedicated laundry room so a change of colour won’t matter!) And so the nearest machine with some black on it was a Whirlpool, and I have to say I’m delighted with it.

Anyway, the washing machine is in the kitchen, and next to that is the double Neff oven, next to that the larder cupboard, next to that a space where I can keep the ironing board (in 1985 architects didn’t consider where one might keep such things as ironing boards or vacuum cleaners and I’m not even certain whether such practicalities are considered today, unless you are able to design your own home from scratch that is) and next to that, the fridge/freezer.  It is a very practical kitchen. Well, we did design it ourselves way back in 1985 (including the space for the ironing board as there wasn’t sufficient room for a dedicated cupboard for it.)

It is actually a very pleasant kitchen to work in and there is room for us to have our meals at our small breakfast table.  When our sons were at home we had an oak gate-leg table which we could put up for when all four of us were eating, and we also had our dining table in our sitting/dining room which was ‘up’ with all the time, with the four chairs around it, ready for use.

Once the summer is here, late afternoon sunlight pours into the kitchen and transforms the room into a very pleasant place in which to cook and fro which to meander out to the garden with trays of drinks, cups of tea, and supper to enjoy under the walnut tree as the sun goes down.

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. Nothing wrong with oak cabinets! I have them, as does my son who bought a house three streets over from us. I just want new countertops, tiles, and flooring. I’ll get it done before I retire.

    Snow shovelling, my husband just did the driveway. He loathes an icy drive. I think he even dusted off his truck. We have a two car garage, I park inside and our 74 VW lives on the other side.

    It’s still snowing, -11 and we still have at least two more months of winter.

    I wish our snow would disappear overnight! Usually, our residential streets get the minimum of care from the city. Currently there is at least 10cm of ice under the new snow.

    Your bulbs should be fine. Our tulips don’t bloom until early May.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, WonderCollie (Linda?) I would hate so many months of snow, but then, you are geared up for it and we, who only have bad weather – really bad weather, I mean – like this once in a decade, and then only for a couple of weeks at most. Hardly worth councils buying in expensive snow moving equipment to have the money tied up in plant they have to house for years only for them to come out once in a blue moon. As you in Canada or America? You might’ve told me before, so I apologise if you have, for I have forgotten.
      I can’t wait for spring to arrive, I’m fed up with the cold already!
      Glad you approve oak cabinets. We have always been reluctant to paint them because once painted, you can’t go back. I think it will be just new worktops and tiles and flooring, sink and hob, and give the cupboards a good clean and perhaps a fresh coating of Patina, which husband used in 2000 and it brings up the grain in the wood a treat.

  2. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Haha, my husband is a sweeper too. I tell him that I would rather walk through the deep(ish) snow than slip and slide on the cleared path that then ices over. He, quite reasonably, points out that I don’t go out when it’s snowy anyway. But I might, mightn’t I? Our neighbour even cleared the pavement from his house to ours but I’ve not noticed anyone making use of these few feet of snowless Tarmac. Yes, they are a peculiar species.
    Our washing machine is also in the kitchen, like most people’s I’d guess. I’d love a dedicated laundry room and did once think about getting rid of the cloakroom to use the space for the washing machine but once the grandchildren came along I was glad not to have done. When little ones need to go, they need to go!
    My kitchen is 21 years old (partially updated with new work tops etc. about eight years ago) and whilst a sparkly new one would be nice, I can think of many things I’d rather do with the money, always assuming I had it in the first place!
    Breakfast looks very good.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      What is it with these men? I’d rather walk on the crunchy snow than a scraped-clean-path that is icy! I said, “Why clear the path to the back door?” to which he replied, “Well, someone might call …” but seldom do people call unannounced, except our sons and elder son, who lives close by, simply crunched to the back door through the snow. We’re not expecting royalty, the Lord Lieutenant’s emissary isn’t going to pop around to the back door with an invitation to Harry and Meghan’s wedding! But he scraped the whole path free of snow, and the snow which he piled up simply melted an hour or two later.
      We have a bathroom upstairs and a shower room downstairs, each with a loo, but I’d not want to remove either of them but oh, how I’d love a dedicated laundry room, that would be my dream … not an island in the kitchen, not a range, not a wood burner (never wanted any of those) … just a laundry room, with drying rack, all the equipment, lovely cupboards with slatted shelves for all the sheets and pillow cases and tablecloths and tea towels, baskets holding lavender spray and such like … well, we can dream, a bit like some chaps dreaming of Lamborghinis!

  3. Hello Margaret. I like your kitchen as it looks very comfortable and cozy. We also have oak cupboards which we talk about painting for an updated look and also to brighten it up, but it doesn’t seem to get on out priority list. I’m curious if your washing machine doubles as a dryer or if you have a separate machine for that?

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Joyce. Thank you for saying the kitchen looks comfortable and cozy … it is, although I’d love it just very slightly larger so I could have a sofa in there. But at least it’s a very workable kitchen, everything within easy reach but not cramped either. Yes, painting the cupboards isn’t a priority, I doubt if they will ever be done and really, we’re in two minds about that anyway. I see so many kitchens I magazines that are in pretty pale shades and I think, “We could have our kitchen like that, the cupboards are good quality, they’d look lovely …” and next I think, “Why paint oak?” I think it will be a very moderate re-furb if ever we get around to it!
      The washing machine is just that, a washing machine. I have a tumble dryer in our garage (to get to the garage we need to go outside as it is underneath our sitting room; we also have our 2nd freezer in the garage.)

  4. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Hello Margaret, the snow has just about melted away now and light rain has started, I know what you mean about men and snow, that made me chuckle. I love your kitchen and the oak cabinets, I really don’t think it looks dated, I would be very happy in your kitchen. We are lucky in this bungalow we are living in at the moment, it has a separate area at the end of the kitchen which has a utility area which we keep the washing machine and dryer in and I also have a kitchen trolley thingie which has vegetable trays and whatnot on and it has a coat and shoe area and has the patio doors which lead to the garden. It is a very useful space but the only thing I don’t like is that it is open. I don’t suppose we could ever afford a place with a utility room. It is nice to have a table in the kitchen, and one somewhere else if room allows.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Marlene, and yes, our snow has almost all melted away now. Glad my comments about men made you chuckle, it was meant to but there was more than a grain of truth in it, I think, as so many men feel they must get out and clear snow, they don’t sit back and think “how pretty” as we do.
      No, I suppose the kitchen isn’t too dated. I mean, a cupboard is a cupboard, isn’t it? We changed the little brass handles (that were on the cupboards originally) in 2000, for wooden knobs, so that made it look less fussy-and-very-1980s to improve their look. In a way, a round table in this oblong or a room doesn’t look quite right but it’s the right size just for the two of us. But you never know, Marlene, you might find a place with a utility room, or at least a porch area where you could leave coats and boots. Every so often I find a row of shoes and boots in the kitchen, just inside the door, ourselves having removed them as we’ve come indoors, and then I eventually gather them all together and put them away, because if you leave such things too long, other things ‘join’ them … husband’s tools for the garage, stuff for re-cycling, etc. A day or so later you have a whole collection of things which don’t belong in the kitchen! I like the idea of your trolley-thingie, that sounds a useful piece of kit.

  5. We’ve got oak cabinets in our kitchen – I was going to say and it’s new but thinking back it must be about six or seven years old now. Time flies when you’re retired. I’ve been retired for five and a half years now and it was done while I was still working. I longed for oak cabinets for years and I’m still happy with them. I dont love the flooring which I struggled to choose at the time but I hate having things done so much that I’m prepared to put up with it.

    Still waiting for the hallway to be done though, that cat is going to live forever! (Waiting to have the carpet done when she’s gone, the previous cat stropped it to death and she sheds like a – well I don’t know what, whatever sheds a lot).

    Everything in your house seems to have been well looked after and that’s what makes it all so lovely.

    • Oh and I remember commenting some time ago about dithering over a new suite in the living room. In the end we got some stretch covers from Amazon and they have transformed it so I don’t have to fret over that any more.

      Yes, I do fret over silly things!

      • Margaret Powling
        Margaret Powling

        That is great – that you have found new stretch covers that have transformed your sofa, and far more inexpensively, perhaps, than buying a new suite of furniture. Yes, we all tend to sweat the small stuff, occasionally, Alison – First World problems, I think they’re called.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Six or seven years would be ‘new’ to me, Alison, when our kitchen cupboards are 32+ years old, 33 come December. But they have been excellent. It was a Schreiber kitchen that our builder was installing, but unlike the other houses in the Close we asked to do our own layout and also we paid extra for taller cabinets (to the ceiling), some glass-fronted ones, and also the top portion, I’ve forgotten the name, not a plinth and not a coving, but something like that. The other cupboards that were installed in the houses in the Close are those short wall cupboards, much smaller than ours. We also had more cupboards that he was going to install and originally we had integrated white goods, but they have long gone. It was very smart when new.
      Thank you for saying our home appears well looked after, that is a lovely compliment. I think it’s because we come from parents who were either Victorians or Edwardians, and they were taught to look after things unlike today when even on adverts on TV you see people leaping onto sofas. What makes me smile is that I very much doubt whether the sofas that they advertise wouldn’t take much leaping on!

  6. The thaw is almost complete here in East Anglia Margaret and I for one cannot be happier, apart from the initial euphoria of some snow it quickly became a pain and I do not do well being stuck inside for too long. Your spring bulbs look good and will bring a splash of colour soon to the garden, we have daffodils budded up and the snowdrops are hanging around, sheltered as they are. We must have had a few little rabbit visitors over the last few days as the new fronds on my bronze fennel have disappeared, likewise the green shoots on the parsley and chives.
    Your kitchen looks fine as it is, like others I would like a utility space and could just about squeeze one in if I amalgamated the downstairs loo and the boiler cupboard, but it’s so handy having a toilet downstairs so am happy to leave it as it is. Kirstie Allsop obviously has the means to be a lot more hygienic than us mere mortals 😂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I didn’t mind being indoors during the snow because I knew it wasn’t suitable weather for being outside in what was actually a blizzard on Thursday/Friday. I stocked up well with food, we were really warm and cosy, and I love sitting reading. OK, a walk would’ve been nice, but husband at 82 isn’t the age now for a long walk in sub-zero temperatures, and it’s not wise for someone with a heart condition; the blood thickens, has difficulty getting through the arteries and we all know the consequence of that. So we stopped indoors and kept warm. Oh dear, rabbit eating your herbs, but I suppose we can always buy them in the supermarket whereas poor little rabbit hasn’t that option.
      Thank you for saying our kitchen looks fine – that is really reassuring as I don’t really want to start on a mammoth painting task. Well, it wouldn’t be me, it would be husband. He would do it for us, but do I want to put him to that trouble? I’m sure we could do a partial re-furb with a new sink, hob, worktop and flooring and that would look really nice without changing the cupboards in any way.
      Yes, the Hon Kirstie Allsopp can no doubt have all the ancillary rooms she requires … laundry, pantry, larder, boot room, flower room … meanwhile we have to ‘make do’ with just a kitchen, ha ha!

  7. As the snow is receding it has made me very happy to see miniature daffodils emerging from the white blanket and nodding their heads merrily as though nothing has happened. A lesson for us all perhaps, certainly me 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      How lovely to see the daffodils, Alison! Ours aren’t yet in bloom, but I think it’s frost that does more damage, snow acts more like a duvet for the plants. Our look find, but only time will tell when they bloom (or not.)

  8. I agree with everyone else’s comments that your kitchen looks very cozy and inviting. Our kitchen is the original and our house was built about 20 years ago, I think. We changed the cupboard handles (from dirty white plastic to a shiny metal handle) but aside from that, everything is original. It is what was fashionably called ‘antique white’. The cupboards are all laminate doors, the benchtops a mottled pale green laminate and the wall tiles are light cream in the subway style. Like yours, our cupboards go to the ceiling, which I like. I occasionally sigh out loud and think that I’d like to change it all but to be honest we don’t have the budget (we are a one income hoisehold due to my inability to work) and even when we did (when we both had good steady incomes), we preferred to spend the money on holidays and other nice things. We don’t have table and chairs in our kitchen – the kitchen is part of the open plan area which includes the dining room and lounge room, which is typical in Australian houses.

    I bought my first home in 1990 and it had the original 1955 kitchen with a broken oven, a stove with only two working hot plates, four tiny cupboards, two drawers and such little bench space that I would erect the ironing board as extra bench space regularly. Oh and it also had only two power points – both were single. I cooked in that kitchen for four years, saving for its refurbishment. i remember no matter how much I scrubbed it never looked clean to me so when the new kitchen was installed (and was about three times larger) I was over the moon.

    We have also had a change in weather. During the night we had rain, which sounded lovely. The high humidity which nearly killed me yesterday has gone. Hubbie was sorting out the garage for much of yday and went through four shirts yesterday. I had two showers (the second one was a cold shower at 4pm) and he’d had three by bedtime. Whereas I try to do my errands early morning and rest in the worst heat of the day, he does the opposite. So I guess it’s not just shovelling snow that doesn’t need to be done that’s the only odd behaviour men do !

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      First of all, thank you for such a lovely long comment and for describing both your kitchens, the one you have now and the decrepit one you struggled with for four years. But my goodness, that humidity! I think it’s sometimes easier to cope with the cold weather (apart from travelling in it; the UK came to almost a standstill during this heavy snow, with no rail or road travel and airports also closed) as we can make our homes cosy, but hot weather … well, there’s no escaping it. Oh, I had to smile when you said that it’s not only shovelling snow (that doesn’t need to be done) isn’t the only odd male behaviour! They really are from Mars, aren’t they?

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