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A Rainy Saturday

It has been a very rainy Saturday, but kind husband went to collect our Saturday paper from our local shop and after completing some chores, we stopped for elevenses, although they were actually half-past tenses.  It is nearing Easter and the bakery shops and supermarkets are selling hot cross buns – well, they’ve been selling them since the new year so by now a lot of people will have had their fill of them. These were our first hot cross buns this year; they are traditionally eaten on Good Friday and I can remember a time when they were only baked and bought on Good Friday, and you either ordered them to ensure you had some, or you queued for a long time and hoped that the shop wouldn’t run out of stock.

Easter has now become a marketing hot spot on the commercial calendar and while many of the things available, from chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs (nicely traditional) to crackers and almost anything with a bunny printed on it, are undoubtedly attractive, how much of this is really necessary?  I love to have crackers at Christmas but do we need them at Easter as well?  Will we soon be having Mothering Sunday crackers, Hallowe’en crackers, and for those in American and Canada, Thanksgiving crackers?  Or maybe they’re already out there, only I’ve just not noticed them!

The food section of today’s Telegraph Magazine reviewed various brands of hot cross bun and I’m sorry to say that those I had bought didn’t fare too well, but we liked them!  The reviewer said that while they were full of fruit they lacked spice. Well, that is in their favour for us, as too much spice gives us indigestion.

And so we had our hot cross buns and there are two left in the freezer for Good Friday.  I’m not religious but I am a traditionalist and we will enjoy them on Good Friday morning with a cup of coffee.

Elevenses (or half-past tenses) over, I cleaned the shower room.  Husband later cleaned the shower cubicle – it’s not like a modern wet room and I’m sure to some people our bathroom and our shower room will look very old fashioned as we haven’t changed them since they were installed by our builder 32 years ago.  Anyway, I cleaned the sanitary ware and the glass shelves.  I only like to display some items of makeup on the shelves, all the necessary things such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, and so forth, are well hidden in a bathroom cupboard.

Some of my perfumes (in their boxes) plus husband’s colognes, and a couple of china ornaments, one holding my makeup brushes.

After mentioning my visit to my podiatrist which several readers have commented on, I thought I’d show you the heel balm which she recommended for very dry or cracked skin.  I have been using this for a couple of years and although it’s not the least-expensive such product on the market, you only need a very small amount (this is therefore only my second tube). I hope this won’t be considered an advert for this product, only I have personally found it helpful.

I also spent time dusting and vacuuming the sitting room and the hall this morning, making the bed and generally tidying.  I also finished a pile of ironing that husband had started yesterday, and it is now waiting to be put away in the airing cupboard.

And soon it was time to stop for lunch.  Husband isn’t keen on pasta and I don’t think it’s fair to inflict upon him something he doesn’t care for (although he does like tagliatelle with a pesto sauce) so while I made spaghetti with a home-made tomato sauce for myself, I made scrambled eggs on toast with smoked salmon for husband. And for dessert, just a small slice of Sicilian lemon tart with a teaspoon of low-fat cream and some raspberries.

Soon after lunch there was a postal delivery and I received the latest novel by writer, Rachel Hore.

I have read and enjoyed all this writer’s books and I’m looking forward to reading this one, too.

At three o’clock I decided to down tools, make a cup of tea and watch Paddington 2.  And it was a delight from beginning to end!  I absolutely loved it!  Husband watched half of it, but then decided it wasn’t for him – he prefers funnier animations or CGI films, such as the Toy Story  or Shrek or Ice Age series. And once the film had ended we watched the Oxford v. Cambridge University Boat Race, but unlike in my youth when this was considered something of a big national event, we only heard it was taking place today by chance.  Perhaps, too, it was because of the tides on the River Thames that it was held so late in the day … the street lights were on by the time Cambridge passed the winning post!

And now we mustn’t forget to put our clocks forward by 1 hour when we go to bed (although the actual change occurs at 2 am).

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. Our clocks were changed last weekend in the US. A few states don’t change at all. I grew up in Canada where crackers were part of Christmas. We’ve lived in the USA for 48 years and they were not accustomed to crackers when we first moved here. About 15 years ago they started appearing, but I don’t think most knew what to do with them unless you were of British or Canadian heritage. The gifts inside were usually quite lame. I haven’t seen them pop up for any other season…………..yet! L

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I dislike this twice-yearly changing of the clocks, Lucy, it takes me at least a week to get used to the ‘new’ time. My goodness, I thought the USA would’ve been quick to adopt the tradition of Christmas crackers! I think they are a lovely tradition, with their silly jokes and paper hats and totally useless ‘gifts’. Mind you, some of the better brands which are quite expensive (not that I buy those!) have very attractive gifts inside them. But even the ones we had a year or two ago had nice things, such as a pen, and my husband was really pleased to have a tiny compass (I said that would help him tell him which way was up, ha ha!)
      Mark my words, after Easter crackers which I’ve seen with my own eyes, there will be others in time!

  2. I have also resisted hot cross buns, despite them being displayed at face level on the counter at our local bakery. Oh the temptation ! Like you, I’m not religious but am a traditionalist and I like to keep hot cross buns for Easter or else they’re no longer special. I’m not fussed on chocolate – in fact the last few times I’ve had some I’ve had problems sleeping and wonder if the caffeine and sugar has affected me – so don’t buy Easter eggs but hot cross buns are a weakness 🙂 The last few years I’ve restricted myself to gluten -free versions (due to health reasons) but they’ve been quite disappointing so have decided I’ll have ‘real’ hot cross buns this year. One or two won’t kill me, surely, but if they do what a way to go !

    My late grandmother was Russian and we would enjoy traditional Russian Easter fare prepared by her each year. She died in 2006 and no one in the family had thought to learn the recipes from her while we could. No doubt this happens in many families – recipes, stories, strangers in old photographs and so on. In 2011 a dear friend who is also of Russian descent dragged out her late mother’s scribbled recipes and we spent the day baking – and it was a WHOLE day where we had access to two kitchens in adjoining apartments. It was exhausting but so much fun as we did everything the old way, allowing ourselves only one modern convenience of a food mixer. My family members were delighted as I hadn’t told them what we were up to and we spent the Easter weekend enjoying the Russian Easter cakes (called ‘Kulich’) and the sweet, creamy, dried fruit-laden ricotta-based spread (called ‘Pashka’). We repeated the event for another two years until my friend moved away. I no longer make the kulich as it really does require two people and an entire day but making the pashka for family and a few special friends is an annual event. As it is eaten only at Easter and is a reminder of my late grandmother (and the memories of sitting in her kitchen drinking tea and chatting) it is very special.

    I will add Paddington 2 to my list of movies to watch.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, Lara, what a wonderful story of learning (and baking) those Russian recipes! I’d never heard of Kulich (Russian Easter cakes) so I’ve learned something this morning! And the fruit-laden ricotta-based spread, pashka, sounds wonderful! What a lovely time you had, but what a shame that your mother hadn’t learned the recipes from your grandmother. Mind you, I’m the same. My mother used to make a lovely Christmas pudding. It wasn’t the dark, heavy pudding associated with Christmas here in the UK but a light pudding which tasted glorious … she said she put a bit of this in and a bit of that in, what she had, but it always tasted wonderful. What lovely memories of your grandmother you have.

  3. I didn’t know Hot Cross Buns were traditionally eaten on Good Friday. My husband only commented to me this morning that we haven’t had a single Hot Cross Bun yet. This is true, but I have had quite a few Easter eggs! Thank you for another lovely post, Margaret!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Kellie, and thank you for leaving a comment. Yes, hot cross buns (the cross represents the cross of the crucifixion) are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, but now they’re in the shops soon after New Year. Actually, the recipe for them is not unlike a British tea cake, which you slice and toast and eat with butter, the main difference is the cross on the top. Glad you have enjoyed this post.

  4. I’m afraid we’re guilty of eating hot cross buns all year round! I find them to be moister and spicier than a tea cake and I prefer them. I accidentally bought some salted caramel and chocolate ones in Tesco a few weeks ago and was a bit annoyed when I got home but Oh My Goodness what an excellent mistake. They must be really bad for you because they are so good! Obviously they wouldn’t be everybody’s choice and I didn’t expect them to be mine.

    I made Easter biscuits on Friday. My eldest daughter has been hinting for the last few weeks and I won’t be seeing her over the Easter weekend so I gave in. Most of the ones in the shops have cinammon instead of oil of cassia and just don’t taste the same. I have to make them in the food processor nowadays because my hands won’t let me rub the fat into the flour so unfortunately the currants get slightly chopped up, but it doesn’t spoil the flavour.

    We have a lovely sunny day here today and the washing is almost dry. I do like to see a line of washing in the garden.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, that’s so funny, Alison, but so true … if something tastes really good it can’t be good for us! I expect Waitrose has some salted caramel hot x buns, too, so I might look for those, or even in Lidl where we really must go soon to stock up on things like dishwasher tabs and waste bags. But don’t feel guilty about eating hot x buns all year, if you can find them, and they taste better than tea cakes.
      I’ve not heard of oil of cassia so I must Google that.
      It has been sunny this morning and I persuaded husband to visit the local garden centre with me as I wanted to get some primroses for the table for Easter Sunday but when we looked at them he said he liked the bright red ones … oh dear, I had visions of pastel yellow, but there were selections in colours so bright they looked almost fluorescent, but as I usually choose flowers I thought, I can’t demand pale yellow and ignore his likes all the time, so bright red they will be! But the cloth is green with pink/red/yellow flowers on it, so they will be ‘cooled’ by the mainly-green cloth. I also bought some small with which to decorate the table. Oh dear, I’m being sucked into the commercialisation of Easter just as we are Christmas!

      • Just had a quick search on oil of cassia and it seems like something that’s particular to the Bristol area. Once you’ve had Easter biscuits with it in then nothing else tastes the same. I usually buy it from Boots chemist and a tiny bottle lasts several years. You are supposed to use 3 or 4 drops but I normally use twice that! I mix it in with the beaten egg so it gets distributed evenly though the biscuits.

        That’s something new that I’ve learned, I just assumed everybody had them with oil of cassia. Of course, that explains why most supermarket ones just have cinammon which is far inferior 😉


        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          Thank you for that, Alison. If these Easter biscuits are so delicious I’d be tempted to make them at other times of the year, just as others eat hot x buns all year round now. But there again, that would make them less-special at Easter, wouldn’t it? But now I know that if I decide to try my hand at these biscuits, I can get some cassia oil, so thank you for sending that link.

  5. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Hot cross buns are now on sale all year round here, I do love them but I kind of think it spoils the tradition a bit. There are all these fudge ones, chocolate ones etc as well, but I love the normal ones, nice and simple.
    Thankyou for mentioning the heel balm, something I really need, underactive thyroid which I have causes problems with dry skin on the feet, I have tried so many things and nothing has worked yet, I will order some from Amazon.
    Have a lovely rest of the weekend Margaret.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I enjoy hot x buns, too, Marlene, but I can’t say I’ve seen them all year round in Waitrose, perhaps I’m not looking in the right place! Mind you, we have a List and go around the supermarket at break-neck speed. We can be in and out in 20 minutes or less if we put our skates on. The faster you go around, just grabbing what you usually buy, the faster you can get out (and hopefully spend less money … it’s browsing that causes customers to end up with more things in their trolleys than they intended, although one needs also to hunt for bargains – but they are only bargains if you would normally use them, of course.) I’ve never heard of fudge or chocolate hot x buns, but this is the same with everything these days. I was in Morrisons on Friday and wanted plain coleslaw, but I had to search high and low for it, there were so many with additional flavourings which I didn’t want.
      I have very dry skin and always have had, Marlene, and this really does help my feet. I slather it on each morning after showering and at bedtime I use a lovely Roger & Gallet Rose Precious Restoring Balm – what’s “precious” about it I have no idea, but the smell is lovely and it’s really pleasant to use.

  6. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    I love a hot cross bun too, mainly traditional ones but I quite like the M&S berry ones too, but chocolate hot cross buns … … NO, NO, NO! I’ve bought a few over the past weeks but it’s nicer, and more of a treat, when things aren’t available all the time. The commercialisation of Easter annoys me. I’m happy to buy chocolate eggs or bunnies for the grandchildren, but draw the line at Easter trees and decorations.. It seems that every occasion is now an opportunity to encourage overspending.

    Rachel Hoare is a writer I enjoy. She’s very similar to Kate Morton whom I also like. I’ve just started reading the new Dorothy Koomson book, The Friend.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Likewise, I don’t want Easter trees or decorations, Eloise. Yes, soon every occasion equals a

      Yes, every occasion will soon be a spend-fest, Eloise. Similarly, I don’t mind the eggs and chocolate bunnies, but I draw the line at trees, and general knick-knackery.
      Yes, Rachel Hore and Kate Morton v. similar in writing style, but of the two I like Rachel Hore best. Another favourite writer is Katharine McMahon (who has a book out later this year, I believe), also Charlotte Betts and Judith Lennox.


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