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The Spring Equinox

Today, the 21st March, is the vernal equinox and how lovely to awaken to sunshine this morning.

I love early morning when the world is fresh and I can wander around the house with my cup of coffee, not necessarily doing anything, just thinking about the day ahead.

Below is a corner of our sitting room with the sunshine pouring in from the large bay window.

After all the snow which, thankfully, has now melted (although I admit I did love seeing our garden as a winter wonderland) and things are back to normal again, we decided we’d have a walk along the sea front in Torquay.  So, after breakfast (just porridge today for both of us) we drove into Torquay, parked the car, and walked to the harbour.

I was fascinated by this tub of a boat with a ‘matching’ smaller one next to it, as if it was mother and daughter, or father and son!

The netted structure on the right hand side in the photo above is the covering over Living Coasts, the sea life centre.

All the above photos are of the inner harbour.  The  outer harbour now has the Torquay Marina.

We walked all around the harbour (this is possible as there is a bridge across the entrance to the inner harbour) and then back to our car via what are known to locals as the Rock Walk, although the formal name is the Royal Terrace Gardens.  Here, among lots of plants which will tolerate the sea air, are two magnolia trees and they are just coming into bloom.

We decided we’d go and have coffee at a favourite café on Babbacombe Downs but when we got close to it there wasn’t anywhere to park, and so we decided to drive back to our favourite hotel on our own sea front and have lunch.

The dining room at the Palace Hotel, Paignton

The conservatory was filled with diners (it’s a large conservatory, too) and so we were offered a table in the dining room (above) which is usually only used for dinner in the evening.  A few other people were also having lunch so we weren’t in isolated splendour.

I immediately noticed the new chairs.  There is a dark blue carpet and this has a pattern of grey ‘stars’ and paler blue ‘dots’, and the chairs go beautifully with this carpet although blue isn’t a traditional colour for a dining room.  The new chairs are certainly an improvement on the old, rather dull, chairs (below.)

Here, above, are the old-style chairs, which were smart but a little dull

Instead of sharing a beef club sandwich today, I decided to have chicken liver pate with crostini and a cup of coffee, while husband had his usual beef club sandwich and half a pint of lager & lime.

The pate was very nice, served in a miniature Kilner-style jar, but I needed to request more crostini as three small pieces were insufficient with which to eat a jar filled with pate.

We then went home and I found that two new books had arrived …

I love this series by Jacqueline Winspear, and if you’ve not read the Maisie Dobbs books, I do recommend them. There are now at least 14 in the series, sufficient to keep you happy for a while.  But whatever you do, read them in chronological order, starting with Maisie Dobbs, as the story develops from the First World War to the 1940s.  The covers of these books are a treat in themselves; here are four of them …

The other book which arrived is …

I read about this book in the Review section of the Saturday issue of The Daily Telegraph. It is the story of a diplomat’s wife, a great list-maker, between 1939 and 1957 (when she died, only 42 – although looking at the  photographs of her in this book, of which there are few, she looks much older.  But then, people did have a tendency to look older then, didn’t they? Perhaps because of the age in which they lived, perhaps because of the clothes and hairstyles.)

And finally … the tulips failed to impress this week; they keeled over and flopped about, and so I cut them down and made a posy of them.

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, I hope you are having or have had a lovely first day of spring (well, it’s the first day of spring in our northern hemisphere.)

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. A lovely walk in the sun 🙂 We had sun too but it was deceptive, the air was still very cool. We did have a walk to the park. Nothing beats a harbour walk though, always so much to see.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Alison, and yes, it’s been lovely to be out and about and getting some fresh air after days spend indoors because of the snow. But I was well prepared and I confess I quite enjoyed seeing the world covered in a white blanket. The harbour, though, is always lovely to see, I really enjoyed our walk.

  2. We have had a lovely first day of Spring thank you Margaret, this morning we drove out to the Brecks (particular part of the Suffolk countryside ) and took the little dog for a good long walk. It was lovely for all of us to stretch our legs after the recent cold weather and everywhere there were signs of nature bursting into life. This afternoon I went over to the stables and gave my mare a really good groom, she is shedding hair like mad and very itchy so loved every minute!
    The new chairs are certainly an improvement on the old ones and good to hear that everywhere was so busy, people out and about enjoying the warmer weather. I can see why you needed more crostini to go with the pate and what a novel way to serve it.
    I am currently reading ‘Howards End is on the Landing’ by the author S Hill and in which she writes about her own book collection, very interesting but has made me realise how woefully small my own reading list is!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, how lovely, to drive to the Brecks … I’ve only read of this area of Suffolk, we used to stay in Aldeburgh when we visited Suffolk (although our visit in 1984 was to Lond Melford). I seem to recall we visited a forest and I think the name was something like Knettishall – it was wooded and then had a heathland area where we had a picic (our lads were quite young then.) Is this in Breckland? Spring is such a lovely time of year, easily my favourite and yet it doesn’t seem to last as long as autumn and winter, sadly. Before we know it, the bluebells will be in bloom and next news it will be summer. I’ve never groomed a horse in my life, but I expect that was good exercise for you, all that brushing, as well as lovely for your mare!
      Yes, serving pate in a little jar like that was rather a novel way, and it was very tasty. I think I’d have preferred some crusty bread with it, though. The crostini wasn’t substantial enough for me.
      Howards End is on the Landing is a lovely book, I have that one and Jacob’s Room, the follow up book, too. Don’t fret about your own reading list. I’ve read few recognised ‘classics’ but I still enjoy what I read. Reading, unless for an examination, is for enjoyment.

  3. Some toasted sourdough (bruschetta) would have been nice I think. My son gave me purple and yellow tulips for Mothering Sunday and they are still looking fresh and gorgeous. He even arranged them beautifully for me in my Porthleven inky sea blue ginger jar bought in Cornwall in 1985. I think the narrowish neck of the ginger jar has helped to support the tulips so they have not become floppy and blowsy – yet! It has been glorious here today and I took myself off for a six mile walk this afternoon. I saw primroses and violets flowering together on the woodland floor and the bluebell shoots are now a good six inches above ground. I walked through rolling chalk downland, woodland and wood pasture and it felt so good to be out. I even picked up some loose bits of sheeps’ wool and have washed it and once it is dry I will gently brush it and spin it using just my fingers. I like to bring home wool when I find enough (about 25g worth today) to make it worthwhile to process. We’re having a springtime supper tonight – homemade quiche Lorraine with various salads and the first rhubarb gently poached in the oven with orange zest, juice and honey. It would have been my mother-in-law’s birthday today so in her honour I have potted up some primroses from the garden for the table. Have a lovely evening Margaret. We shall be watching Michael Portillo take the train in India later – we missed it last night as I was at yoga. I wonder if he will be doing yoga!?

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      My goodness, Sarah, a 6-mile walk! I don’t think I could manage that now, but a stroll around the harbour was better than sitting at home. Those tulips sound lovely and yes, tulips benefit by being in a narrow-necked vase or jug to support the bloomd. My goodness, that is truly industrious – spinning wool from the discarded bits you have found. I once wrote a piece for a magazine on the woollen industry in Great Britain. My late uncle was the group manage of four or five (I never can remember exactly how many) woollen mills on the Lancs/Yorks borders in the 1940s and 1950s, and it was said that he knew every process from taking the wool off the sheep’s back to producing a beautiful woollen blanket.
      What a lovely idea – to pot up some primroses for the table in honour of your late mother-in-law. Also, I think you will enjoy the Portillo prog, we certainly did

  4. I think Knettishall is out Diss way so would imagine that the wooded area could well have been Thetford Forest, beautiful area and yes, part of the Brecks.
    Yes, grooming a horse can be very tiring and guaranteed to keep the dreaded bingo wings at bay 😊 my girlie adores all the attention and will stand still for hours whilst she is pampered.
    I didn’t realise that there was a follow up book Margaret, another one to add to my list! You are right, books are there to be enjoyed.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Both these names ring bells, Elaine, but I truly can’t remember, only we enjoyed seeing this area of Suffolk.
      How lovely that your mare enjoys being groomed and stands still for you.
      Yes, Susan Hill wrote another book similar to Howards End is on the Landing, both are interesting. I take it you’ve read 84 Charing Cross Road (and seen the film?) This is a book list in itself, but of course, not all the books listed are to my/your taste, perhaps, but a lovely read nonetheless. It is one of my favourite books (and a favourite film, too.)
      Have you read The Cazalet Chronicles? Those, too, are favourites of mine. Similarly, long before Elizabeth Jane Howard wrote her books, Norah Lofts (who lives in Suffolk as no doubt you already know) wrote the Town House trilogy, and while I read those books I only really enjoyed the first one. I felt she got fed up with the long saga of a house from medieval times to the (then) present day when she moved out of the early period. But the first one is a good read.

      • I happened across the film earlier in the year Margaret and absolutely adored the gentle feel of it, must admit that I am yet to read the book.
        I also enjoyed the Cazalet Chronicles after they were recommended to me by my darling Mum and the four books have remained a permanent fixture in my book collection. Some books are more transient as in I will pick up a copy, usually in a charity shop, read them and then pass them on.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          So glad you have enjoyed the film of 84 Charing Cross Road. The book is very readable and there are a couple of others by Helene Hanff, too. There is also a 5th Cazalet Chronicle which Elizabeth Jane Howard completed just before she died. It is good, but I don’t think on a par with the first four when she was truly in her writing prime. The Cazalets are also in my permanent collection.

  5. The photos of Devon harbour look so lovely. It’s just starting to get cooler here in NZ, but also mysteriously still very hot…..

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I think our seasons are becoming very muddled, Ratnamurti! We have had periods today when it was really mild, when I just wanted to put the central heating off, and then suddenly it would turn very cold and we were almost shivering! Very strange! But the walk around the harbour was most enjoyable. It’s one of my favourite walks, there’s always something different to see.

  6. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    A walk beside the sea on a sunny spring morning; I am feeling very envious! Harbours are one of my favourite places to walk and always feature heavily when on our holidays. I love to watch the comings and goings. We could hardly live further from the sea, but there are a few places where we can visit a marina – not as lovely as a harbour though.
    I love the blue chairs – how unusual but aren’t they attractive?
    The tulips look so pretty when almost blown. I still have my yellow lilies – now 12 days old and still looking fresh.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, a seaside or harbour walk is lovely, Eloise, but once the weather is warmer we enjoy a walk in our local country park, too, which has woodland, lanes, fields, and so forth, all within the Borough of Torbay.
      Yes, I thought the blue chairs in the hotel looked very smart. I don’t care that much for blue for a dining room, but I think the previous owners kitted out the whole of the ground floor in this dark blue carpet, in the hotel lounge and part of the conservatory as well as the dining room, and also the curtains are blue in the dining room, so rather than try a contrast which mightn’t have worked, they opted for yet more blue and I have to say it looks very smart.

  7. It seems many of you enjoyed the fresh air after being cooped up in the second big freeze. It’s supposedly autumn here but I’m still wearing summer clothes. Although I did make a lamb casserole the other night – using the slow cooker as it’s too hot to use the oven.

    Your photos are lovely, Margaret and I did enjoy that tour with you 🙂 I would have also needed something extra with the pate.

    We are having houseguests arrive soon and husband is in the kitchen cooking up a curry for our dinner tonight. I enjoy his cooking but he is a lot messier than me so I end up with all the more washing up ! Our guests are staying for three nights and we are very much looking forward to their company. We only see each other about once a year but fall easily into conversation each time. Friendships such as those are precious.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, it was lovely to be out in the fresh air again, Lara, and I’d certainly have shared the pate with you, there was rather too much even in that Miniature Kilner-jar for me. But today I don’t think there will be any walking – it’s tipping down with rain and has been since yesterday afternoon.
      I do think men are messier in the kitchen. Perhaps they assume that we will clear up after them, whereas we know that we will have to clear up if we make a mess! How lovely, though, he is cooking curry for your guests. Three nights is just perfect. After all fish and guests go off after three days (an old adage!)

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