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Spring Has Arrived

It is a bright blue morning.  We awakened to sunshine pouring in through our bedroom window making patterns through the Venetian blind onto our bed.  I love mornings like this; I’m very much a morning person, and even better than being tucked up cosily in bed at night, is that lovely early morning feeling when the sun is high in the sky and after the long winter, at last you feel some warmth on your skin again.

Eagle-eyed among you will notice a white blob on the tree (above) in our neighbour’s garden.  No, not a white bird, unfortunately, but a white plastic bag which has been caught by the branches during the recent blizzard.

Sunshine continues to brighten our sitting room, too, and I took this photo of the pink lisianthus (which I bought yesterday) not half an hour ago

Please don’t think we have a three-course breakfast every day; most days it’s a light breakfast of porridge or cereal or toast and marmalade, but I just fancied fruit today, so that is what we started with …

I think it’s time I changed the table cloth (although it’s clean) otherwise you will get fed up seeing the same one whenever I post photos of food!  Anyway, we started with slices of pear, raspberries, red and green grapes.  Next, husband had porridge …

On this he has golden granulated sugar and a little milk.  I had Scotch pancakes with maple syrup.  I’ve been converted to maple syrup!  OK, I’d not want it on my porridge, that’s reserved for golden syrup, but on pancakes for breakfast (not the home-made variety which we make and have with sugar and lemon juice, but the small pancakes I buy in the supermarket) marple syrup is very nice. I never thought I’d say that. Perhaps maple syrup, a bit like Marmite and olives, is an acquired taste!

Yesterday, as husband needed to pay a visit to B&Q (a DIY warehouse for those outside the UK) and ScrewFix (similar, but where you choose items from a catalogue and then, at a counter, ask for what it is you need, a very speedy way of doing things) I suggested we also pay a visit to Waitrose as it wasn’t that far away.  OK, we didn’t need many things, but I thought we might as well do the shopping and re-stock the larder etc.

I know it might seem odd photographing our groceries, but I’ve done this for many years now, long before I had a blog, and it’s fun looking back at the foods we bought, say ten years ago and thinking, “Oh, we’ve not had that for a long time …” or “My goodness, I’d totally forgotten about that …”

You will notice that there appears few items of fresh vegetable here, but underneath the pears is a pack of spinach, and also there are leeks, onions and carrots.  I have plenty of veg in the fridge, really, this shop was really a top-up.  I often wonder how two people can get through so much food, especially when we don’t over-stuff our faces, but I think it’s because I cook everything from scratch so require a lot of basic ingredients. I stocked up on sultanas and raisins too, yesterday, also basics such as tinned tuna, tinned salmon and even a pack of A4 white envelopes – I didn’t want to pay a visit to the stationer’s which used to be called Staples but which has recently been bought-out by another company, the name of which escapes me – just for envelopes.

The above photo doesn’t show the ‘free’ paper we had, nor a large baguette which we enjoyed with veggie soup for lunch (home-made, extracted from the freezer and re-heated) nor the flowers. I was surprised to see a lovely array of flowers in the store yesterday, so soon after the disruption to deliveries because of the snow.  I chose a bunch of pink lisianthus, and took a photo of them not on this morning, but also last night.

The other treat – for flowers really are a treat, one of life’s small luxuries – was a bar of my current-favourite chocolate.

Later, I shall be looking through the David Austin Rose Handbook for 2018 as we need to choose a climbing rose for our new arch for the garden.  Our old arch blew down in the recent storms (not the snow blizzard, but before then) but before any rose can be planted, the arch will need to be erected. I shall have to consult the handyman here about that.

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. Hi Margaret,
    Staples is now ‘Office Outlet’, which sounds a bit cheap and nasty, but as I haven’t been into one of the stores since the take over, I should really reserve judgement!
    There’s an enormous difference in timing between spring arriving where you are and up here in the north west! We have dull, depressing grey skies, last night was mainly torrential rain, but I did get out for an hour this morning to do a bit of tidying up in the back garden.
    My husband is spoilt for choice as far as DIY supplies are concerned, within twenty minutes drive we have a huge B&Q, a Wickes, a Screwfix and a Toolstation, the latter two of which are about two hundred yards apart!
    I acquired the taste for Maple syrup as a young child, my maternal grandmother had lived in Vermont between 1919 and 1925, so it was a favourite thing in our family! Mind you, I also love Marmite and Olives, oh and Pickled Walnuts, now they really are an acquired taste!
    We’ll be off to Waitrose tomorrow, I have an order from John Lewis being delivered there, I hope they have some Lisianthus in, I love them, particularly purple and white!
    I just had a look whether my favourite highly scented rose ‘Fragrant Cloud’ is available as a climber, but it’s not. We have two in large granite pots either side of the steps down onto the lawn, the smell is fabulous!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      The rose, Fragrant Cloud, sounds wonderful. I’ve looked it up and it’s a hybrid tea (no picture of it in the David Austin handbook, sadly.) It says it’s a coral-scarlet, which in a granite pot would look wonderful, as well as smell wonderful!
      We’ve never been in Wickes although there is one only a couple of miles away. As for pickled walnuts, I once bought a bottle but I can’t remember what they tasted like! We have a walnut tree but for the past couple of years it has been stripped of nuts by squirrels. Yes, spring arrives earlier here in the south west than up there in the north, but after that lovely bright blue start to the day it has clouded over and is quite chilly again now.

  2. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Firstly Margaret, what a productive baking day you had a few days ago.
    It is nice to feel the weather warming up a bit now, I went out today and felt rather stuffy in my big jacket, time to change to a slightly lighter one I think. I like maple syrup on pancakes but not on porridge. Mary Berry made Drop Scones last night, which are basically the same as scotch pancakes just another name. I have just printed the recipe out as I had a request to make some.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I enjoyed the baking, Marlene, and we’re still enjoying the rock buns and have only had one slice each of the fruit loaf. Yes, drop scones = Scotch pancakes, one and the same are they not? I have never made drop scones since I was doing Domestic Science at my grammar school. I don’t know why they taught us to make such things; another thing we made was a sweet omelette, in which you separated the eggs from the whites, beat up the egg yolk and whisked the whites and folded the then-meringue mixture into the egg yolk mixture before frying the omelette and then putting jam in it and turning it over. I’ve never made one since, I thought it looked disgusting! But I suppose it was considered haute cuisine c1959!

  3. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    A bit of sunshine after dull days is wonderful. I love to need my sunglasses when driving!
    I like maple syrup but not golden syrup but I don’t like any kind of syrup on porridge. Your breakfasts always look so nice. Husband and I rarely eat breakfast together except on holiday. He eats early but I like to eat later.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      You have probably told me before, Eloise, but what do you put on your porridge if you don’t like golden syrup? Perhaps sugar or honey and fruit? Or just fruit? I try and make breakfast look nice, but really, it’s no trouble, I just put out what crockery we use all the time. A pity that you and your husband can’t meet ‘in the middle’ time-wise, he eating a little later and you a little earlier, then you could breakfast together? But if it suits you both to have what you want, when you want it, then there’s nothing wrong with that!

      • Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

        I have fruit (often raspberries but it could be Apple. Peach, banana or blueberries) with a little Natvia plant sweetener on my porridge.
        Husband eats at around 7.30am whereas I can’t usually face anything much before 9am. It suits us but it is nice on holiday when he waits for me!

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          7.30 would be too-early a start for either of us these days, Eloise. It’s now 9.20 and husband is having his porridge but this morning I’ve had a lazy morning reading in bed and will shortly prepare just some fruit for myself – pear, raspberry, banana, grapes. I’ve tried blueberries several times but can’t say I like them although I know they are supposed to be Good For Us. I love to read in bed of a morning, I feel that if I’m reading in bed, that’s acceptable, but if I laze around all morning reading, once I’m up and dressed, that isn’t acceptable – silly, really, as the time police aren’t going to chase me!

  4. Greetings dear Margaret. I’m so happy to see you’re having beautiful, warm spring sunshine. We’ve had some glorious clouds and some refreshing rain down here in Southern California. It’s too bad you can’t send me rain and I’ll send you sun 🙂 I don’t know if you realize what an inspiration you are to many of us. Since I discovered your blog last summer while I was in Turkey, your blog posts have motivated me so much. My husband and I are empty nesters and we enjoy many of the same things you and your husband do such as our outings to lunch and grocery shopping. We’re going to lunch at the beach today but it’s uber SoCal with palm trees and surfers. How I would love to go to your area at the historic hotels you have shown (reminds me of the places Hercule Poirot would go to). It’s fun seeing your grocery shopping items as I too cook from scratch. You’re such a wonderful, creative cook/baker. May I ask who taught you to cook/bake or maybe you are self taught? My mother always cooked from scratch but was not a creative cook. I love to cook and bake and explore new things to make so I guess I’m self taught. It’s always a joy to read your post and I look forward to popping in again to say hello. Regards, Pat

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful, Pat, if we could mail each other some weather? A ray of sunshine for us, a dollop of rain for you!
      Oh my dear friend, what a lovely lot of comments regarding my blog and my baking. My mother taught me to make a simple Victoria sponge cake when I was very young, I think I must’ve been about eight or nine. I know that by the time I was 12 I could make a roast dinner unassisted (again, taught by my mother; she was very careful to make sure I knew that an oven was HOT.) My parents, as I’ve mentioned before on my posts, had a newsagent’s shop and so Mum was glad of my help when she spent much of her day behind the counter serving customers. I also Domestic Science lessons at school, but apart from being shown how to make a basic white sauce, not many of those lessons have been much use, apart from the theory of food, such as fats, starches, proteins, vitamins and minerals. However, hygiene and the preparation of food and gathering all the utensils we would need before we started any recipe were instilled in us, and such lessons have stood me in good stead. I always empty the dishwasher before I start (so it’s ready for dirty dished) and line up the things I’m going to use, both the utensils and the ingredients, and I make sure I have a clean towel on which to dry my hands and so forth. When I see programmes such as Master Chef I shudder when I see women (and some men) with long hair dangling over the food, and how they push it back with their hands and then use those hands on the food without washing them, and how when they run out of space on their work stations, I’ve then seen some of them pop things on the floor! I’d have marks deducted for poor kitchen practice, but no one seems to mention this.
      I only bake very basic things, though, Pat. No cup cakes smothered with rich, piped cream and then smothered with sprinkles (what we used to call hundreds-and-thousands). Indeed, it’s a very long time since I made a chocolate cake but I feel the urge to make one of those coming on! But it’s a simple on, a chocolate sponge with chocolate butter cream through the middle and then melted dark chocolate on top. Couldn’t be simpler.
      I hope it won’t be long before husband and I have coffee or lunch again at one of our favourite hostelries, so that you can, vicariously, join us! I hope I continue to be an inspiration, but I’m a very long way from becoming a domestic goddess.

  5. Such a difference your pictures show – compared to your recent storm pictures. We had snow last night and it is snowing as I write this. Very wet and heavy snow. One of these days spring will come!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Sorry to hear you have had snow, Jeannine. It looks pretty to start with but once it’s slushy and dirty it’s truly awful, as well as being cold and slippery. I do hope spring will arrive soon with you!

  6. Maple syrup, it always makes me smile. Last year there was a huge theft of maple syrup in Quebec and it was national news for days. I get small, maple leaf shaped bottles and put them in the Christmas stockings as it’s a bit expensive here, even though we produce it.

    Marzipan and chocolate, the food of the gods according to my husband. He’s German through and through despite his family moving here in the mid 1950s.

    Porridge? If it’s made from scratch, you only need salt on it. Yes, I’m a Scot. No syrup or sugar, just salt.

    We are still below zero and joy of joys, the City has said they will blade the ruts in the residential streets BUT they won’t remove the snow scrapings.

    I think blogs are the modern, internet era version of penpals. We write to people, who we have very little chance of actually meeting.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I love the idea of those little maple-leaf-shaped bottles of maple syrup, how pretty they sound! But fancy maple syrup being expensive in Canada where it is produced! I think I paid around £5 for my bottle and it was the least-expensive one in the supermarket (there were about four or five different ones available.)
      Your below-zero temperatures and all that snow for months on end sound horrendous, with even he Council having to ‘blade’ (I presume you mean chop off the tops of the ruts to smooth them out?) the ruts.
      Yes, blogs are a bit like pen pals (I had several of those) but even more so, I think they are like correspondence magazines (I belonged to two of those in the 1970s.)

  7. We had heavy rain for much of last night. I woke several times as our cat was sleeping between us and I needed to move her so I could turn without falling off the mattress ! I heard on this mornings radio news that a woman had driven into a swollen creek last night and the car was swept downstream – the driver manag d to escape but couldn’t free her 70’yo mother and ran half a kilometre to raise the alarm. It took emergency services 90 minutes to rescue the mother. I get so angry when I hear these reports – stupid drivers putting the lives of others at risk. Every time heavy rain is forecast in our area we are inundated with cautions not to drive into floodwaters, no matter how well you know the road. Several people have died in the last few years. Argh. End of my rave.

    Slightly cooler temps this morning and lower humidity thanks to the rain so I am going to bake a cake. Your last post inspired me. It’s been too long since I’ve had homemade cake in the house – it’s been a shockingly humid summer for us. My husband will think he’s won the lottery when he comes home later today ha ha. He loves his food – as do I. As I’m restricted to gluten-free foods for medical reasons, baking cakes from scratch has not been successful as gluten-free flours vary so much. As a result I use only packet mixes for cakes these days but there are now so many to choose from that I don’t feel hard done by at all. Unfortunately the sugar content is quite high in the packet mixes but given we don’t eat sweets, chocolates or drink fizzy drinks and our diets are good quality fresh foods, an occasional treat doesn’t hurt. As we’ve all commented before, treats are essential to keep us smiling !

    Glad to read of your sunshine. I can’t imagine long winters with dull skies are good for the mind. No one likes to be cooped up.


    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, driving into floodwater is something to be avoided; well, not avoided, just not done at all. Thank goodness they managed to rescue the driver and her mother.
      I wish you every success with your baking today, Lara … by the time you read this, you might have baked and even eaten your cake! It must be annoying, though, when gluten-free flours vary so much … the effort you put into making a nice cake and then the disappointment when it doesn’t come out quite as you’d hoped.
      The day went downhill yesterday after that bright start, be clouded over and became grey and dull; today, we’ve had a similarly lovely blue-sky start so I hope it won’t go the same way today!

      • I made banana muffins (as the only packet mix I had was for muffins) and the house smelt lovely. I had accidentally forgotten to turn on the timer and checked on them purely by chance . They were slightly more ‘golden’ on top than ideal but I think it actually improved the texture of the muffin tops. I enjoyed one with a cup of black Rooibos tea in my favourite China mug in the afternoon – then another as the first was so good ! Portion control isn’t one of my strengths 😉 i took four into my neighbours in the afternoon as they’d kindly given us eggs last week when we’d run out. A good exchange, I thought.

        I’m off to visit an elderly gentleman friend this morning. We enjoy a cup of tea and chat. A lovely way to spend a morning xx

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          That was lucky, Lara, that you checked the oven by chance! I use the timer for all kinds of things these days, even to let me know when a favourite TV prog starts at 3 pm in the afternoon (Escape to the Country, a house-buying programme). The banana muffins sound lovely even if they are a little more golden on top than you wanted them to be! That was a lovely thing to do … to take some to a neighbour. We have a neighbour who is a fisherman (a hobby, not his employment) and when he brings us fish I then make him and his wife a cake of some kind, or scones. Enjoy your chat with your elderly gentleman friend, that does sound a good way to spend a morning.

  8. I love the pictures of your weekly shopping, it’s nice to see what someone in another part of the world is buying:)
    Just received a couple of photos from a friend in Leeds. He says they had another unexpected heavy snowfall and all roads are closed.
    I hope the sun is shining in South Devon.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Kavitha … yes I thought seeing shopping from another country might be interesting. I expect it differs substantially from your own shopping.
      I have heard from my cousin in Lancashire that they have had another snowfall and yes, here in Torbay, the sun is shining and it’s reasonably mild (well, milder than what it was last week when the snow came!)

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