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A Few Quiet Days

The week has flown past following the Easter weekend.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t firing on all cylinders for the early part of the week, and so I took things as easy as I could, not doing too much of anything – housekeeping, cooking, or going out.  But by Wednesday morning I was picking up a little and when elder son texted to say he was going out with our grandson for brunch (our daughter-in-law was working, our son was caring for our grandson) and would be like to join them, I thought, why not?

We quickly got ourselves ready and our son collected us and we went to Hoopers, the rather nice department store overlooking the harbour in Torquay.  The café is on the third (top) floor, but even though it wasn’t much later than 10.30am, already all the tables by the windows were taken and so we chose a table overlooking the ‘well’ down through which we could see all the various floors right down to the ground floor.  Have no fear: this ‘well’ is contained behind toughened glass.

There are tables all around this ‘well’ and above, a lovely glass atrium …

Son ordered himself a ‘full English’, our little grandson had pancakes and maple syrup, husband had a toasted tea cake and I had a fruit scone with a pot of tea.  It was a lovely way to spend a rather dull, wet morning.

A lovely display of citrus and turquoise items for the summer garden and kitchen

From there our son drove us to a large branch of Sainsbury’s as he wanted to buy a magazine for our grandson as they were all going to Cornwall for a two-night break the next day (Thursday).  I said I’d buy our grandson a magazine as well, so that he’d have plenty to look at in the car.  This particular Sainbury’s is huge by my reckoning, and while I was mightily impressed by the wonderful displays of flowers, fruit and vegetables (my main likes in any supermarket) it wouldn’t be a store that I would wish to shop in every week; the hustle and bustle, the noise, the volume of people and the sheer size of the place put me off, but I couldn’t resist some flowers and bought deep wine-coloured alstromeria and pink lisianthus.

We spent the day at home on Thursday doing not very much.  After the usual housekeeping – making the bed, preparing meals, just general tidying up – I spent quite a lot of time reading.  I finished the novel by Catherine Law, The First Dance, which was well-written but while I enjoyed it in many ways, ultimately I felt it was rather a sad book.  I always hope that what are basically romantic novels (and I don’t mean chick lit) have happy endings, or if not happy, then uplifting and positive.  I felt this lacked that, but as I say, overall a well-written novel.  What I have found uplifting, though, has been Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path, which is easily one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.

This morning we were up with the larks. Well, if there had been any larks, that is!  Seagulls, more like.  We were showered, dressed, breakfasted and out of the house before nine o’clock.   We drove to Waitrose – this store would be perfect if it had a cafe and a loo, but it was formerly a Co-op store and had neither then, and simply doesn’t have the space for them – as I had quite a list of things to get today, including various types of sugar – wicked stuff but it’s difficult to bake without it! – such as muscovado and golden caster.  Of course, I bought flowers – white freesias, for the third week running, and cream-edged-with-pink spray carnations.

I think these will look lovely when they open up. The spray carnations I have put into two vases …

A few on the hall table and some in the sitting room …

Again, these will look lovely when they open fully.

I also bought two magazines, and picked up the free Waitrose magazine and the weekly Weekend Waitrose paper.

I love a Saturday afternoon spent sipping tea and reading The Daily Telegraph and magazines such as these above. I don’t usually splash out on Country Life but there is a feature on the English look in décor, so I couldn’t resist that.

In the Property section of the The Daily Telegraph today there is an article which I will be reading shortly on Wentworth Woodhouse which has the longest façade of any historic house in England (twice as long as that of Buckingham Palace.) The house is in need of much restoration, now estimated to be around £200 million.  Yes, an eye-watering amount.

For more about this house, read the book Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey, which tells its amazing story (Catherine’s other book – and I wish she’d write some more – is The Secret Rooms,  equally intriguing) …

I love equally fiction and non-fiction, and right now I’m engrossed in the latest in the Seven Sisters series of novels by Lucinda Riley, the latest being The Pearl Sister

For more about this series of books, take a look at www.lucindariley.co.uk

And now for another cup of tea, the article on Wentworth Woodhouse, and then another chapter of the book; a lovely way to spend what has turned into a chilly and dull afternoon. The heating is on and a soft woollen throw is ready for me on the sofa.  And, after a ‘proper’ lunch of steak pie, mashed potatoes, peas and gravy, it will be crusty cheese bread and a variety of cheeses and olives for supper, just things to put on a tray and carry in to eat by the fireside.

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. I hope you are indeed better now, I miss your posts and always worry that you are unwell. It’s always a relief if you are just busy, but I’m sorry you were unwell at the start of the week.

    I’m just starting a cold, mundane but not much fun.

    We need some proper Spring weather with more than one day of sunshine before the rain and gloom comes back again.

    Anyway, take care.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you for those kind words, Alison. I do have a few minor health problems, having osteo arthritis which makes me very stiff when I wake up, and also diverticulitis, and also having had my gall bladder removed a few years ago, but most of the time I’m fairly chipper. I just get tired a little more easily these days. But I tend to bounce back and also the weather affects me quite a lot. When it’s dull and grey I just feel more tired. When it’s bright and sunny, I feel so much better regardless of the aches and pains, if that makes sense! I’m sorry to hear you are starting a cold. I don’t think the common cold is taken seriously enough. We tend to get over them, we all suffer from them from time to time, but they make you feel really miserable and bunged up. Yes, we need some proper spring weather. We had some sunshine this afternoon but it only lasted for about an hour and then it clouded over again, back to it’s usual grey self! Oh, for some long days of sunshine and blue skies …

  2. Hello Margaret, this is my first post although I found your blog a while ago and have been folowing you regularly. I have read the book Black Diamonds as we live about 15 miles from Wentworth Woodhouse and although we haven’t been inside the house we have walked walked past it through the grounds and walked round the village. There is a lovely garden centre with a magnificent cafe and an antiques emporium with a small cafe and shops in the stables area near by. It is a lovely village and well worth visiting if you ever find yourself in Yorkshire. We live close to the Last of the Summer Wine country which also has magnificent scenery and lovely villages.

    I’m just watching Julie Walters on a train journey down to Cornwall which goes to Dartmouth and St Ives which has a very nostalgic feeling for me as I worked in Falmouth in my late teenage years and had my first romance with a potter in St Ives. Your area of Torquay we visited last June and loved it but the weather didn’t quite play ball. It was very wet.

    I enjoy your blog and will post in your comments again.

    Regards Beverley

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you for leaving a comment, Beverley, and for following my blog. How lovely to live so close to Wentworth Woodhouse, it looks a remarkable place even if it does require zillions spending on it!
      I missed the prog this evening with Julie Walters but I think I’ve seen it before – I think she visited Kingswear Castle at the mouth of the River Dart if my memory serves me correctly? How lovely to have had a romance with a potter in St Ives – that sounds very much like a Rosamunde Pilcher romantic novel! I’m sorry the weather wasn’t good when you visited Torquay last year – but even in bad weather, the whole of Torbay still has scenic beauty, it’s just not nice traipsing around in the rain.
      Do look in again.

  3. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)a

    So sorry to read that you have been feeling under the weather. I do hope that you’re improvement continues. The flowers are all lovely, especially the freesia. I’ve commented before on the little pear dish, but once again, I love it!
    A cup of coffee with a magazine or good book is one of life’s little pleasures (and we both enjoy those)!
    We had my son and his family for lunch today, then we went to the park and afterwards I slept for an hour! Those little boys exhaust me.
    Crusty bread and cheese…perfect!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you for your kind comments, Eloise, and I am feeling better now. I was just tired, I think, after the busy Easter. Yes, I love the pear dish, too. It is a piece of Fielding’s Crown Devon ware and I have a rather nice grape drainer which I might put on the table for a change (then I have an excuse to buy more grapes! Sometimes grapes look lovely and then taste to sour for our liking).
      Yes, little children are lovely, but they can be exhausting! And the crusty bread and cheese made a most acceptable supper this evening.

  4. I just finished a book (from the library) titled: The Road to Enchantment by Kaya McLaren. The writing was just eloquent and you felt like you were there. It was a very satisfying book to read, and now I’m the hunt for more of Kaya McLaren’s books. My library has two more. I do recommend this one! You can go on Amazon and look at reviews, etc. It is a well-written book.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you for mentioning that book, Kathy. I will make a note of it. It’s lovely when you find a ‘new’ author, isn’t it, one whose books are totally satisfying.

  5. I love reading your posts Margaret even though I don’t always comment. I enjoy your comments on books you have read and jotted down a number of titles. Since retiring a couple of years ago I think I have felt under the weather a bit more than when I was working. My daughter tells me that I should expect it as I’m getting older!
    I hope you have a happy week and your weather becomes a bit more spring-like.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Pieta, and thank you for reading my blog – readers mustn’t feel they must comment, but it’s always nice to hear from them when they do. I’m sorry to hear you have also felt slightly under the weather. I think when we worked we forced ourselves out of bed because we had to get to work on time even when we didn’t always feel on top form. I hope you will feel more the ticket soon.
      At least there is no rain (so far!) this morning. Later, we hope to watch on TV the Masters (golf championship) from Augusta, Georgia. We love to watch that, it’s one of the highlights of the sporting year (and then the British Open in July.) We are not sports man people, but we do love to watch these two golf championships, each so very different: Augusta, a staggeringly difficult park-style course (but such a beautiful course) with so many water hazards and bunkers, and our ‘links’ courses, by the sea, and subject to a variety of weather conditions.

  6. It was good to read that you were improving health wise Margaret after a less than perfect start to the week, you are right to say that the weather can easily influence how well, or not, we feel. We have recently enjoyed a couple of warm sunny days here in East Anglia and it was lovely to be able to go out without a coat, I have started to wash all the scarves and gloves ready to put them away for next winter, hope I haven’t peaked too soon!
    What a lovely place to sit and enjoy a cup of tea whilst having a rest from shopping, the restaurant in our local John Lewis store looks out across the rooftops of Cambridge but of course the window tables are always the first to be taken.
    The flowers look beautiful as always, hope you enjoyed your afternoon of reading.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Elaine, I am feeling a bit better than I did earlier in the week. I’m sure the weather affects us, but when we’re younger we are often better able to cope – in any case, if we have to get up to go to work, that is what we do. And how lovely you’ve had a couple of sunny days.
      Do you know, although there is a John Lewis dept store in Exeter, I’ve never been there. The city of Exeter is only 20 miles away but we’ve not been there for at least four years! Madness, as it has much to offer, not only shops, but lovely restaurants and cafes, a great Museum and, of course, the magnificent Decorated Gothic Cathedral. How lovely to sit and look out over the rooftops of Cambridge – I love Cambridge. Only been there a couple of times while husband went there on business so I had the days to myself, and right away I felt ‘at home’ there, as if I already knew the place, which was really strange. It had an almost village-like atmosphere, and I loved strolling from our hotel across Jesus Green to the shops and cafes. I have very happy memories of the place. And of course, I visited as many bookshops as I could manage!

  7. I hope you are back on all cylinders. I had started to worry when you hadn’t posted a column, fearing you were unwell, so I was relieved to see a fresh post from you today 🙂

    Your morning tea with your son and grandson sounds lovely. A very special treat for you all. Thank you for including the photos of the department store. As I live in a regional town, the nearest large stores are about 20km away but none of them are what I’d call department stores (or nice, for that matter – none have cafes instore). They are mostly franchises or larger supermarkets and ‘family stores’ like Target, KMart, Big W and the like. I need to drive about an hour to reach my nearest department store. When I worked full time I would fly to Sydney (my hometown and Australia’s largest city with a population of about four million) four or fives times each year. I would visit friends and family and shop like a demon ! I was diagnosed with CFS/ME over three years ago and one of th common symptoms is hypersensitivity to noise, light, odour and touch. Bright lights and noisy places can be like torture for me so I need to be extremely well rested beforehand to venture into such environments and must also limit my time there. Large shopping centres can leave me particularly unwell – like a combination of migraine, seasickness and a hangover. As such I rarely get to simply wander through large department stores and admire, touch, sample and buy. I have found, though, that looking at items on the internet (most online shops now have good websites) and browsing thru Pinterest is a suitable substitute – even better as I rarely buy anything as I like to ‘feel’ items ha ha. No ‘buyers remorse’ for me 😉 Reading your post allows me to live vicariously 🙂

    Those wine-coloured flowers are especially pretty and of course you have the knack for displaying your flowers in pretty vases and in just the right locations in your home to maximise their beauty.

    Wentworth Woodhouse looks majestic indeed. Perhaps when the renovations are done – or even done in key areas – the venue can be used as a location for a wonderful movie or television series. I mean one of the major draw cards of Downton Abbey was its location (Highclere Castle ?), although I realise the kitchen and downstairs areas were recreated in studios. Australian television series ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’ are based on novel(s) about a lady ‘amateur’ detective, Miss Phrynie Fisher, living in 1920s Australia. She is single (much to the horror of her aunt), very bright, attractive and always beautiful turned out. I think it is filmed in Melbourne (capital city of Victoria) and her house (a mansion, really) is beautiful. Of course she is always two steps ahead of the police, is fluent in many languages, can shoot, is proficient at unarmed combat and is well-read whilst wearing the most sleek bobbed hairstyle and stylish fashions of the day. In lieu of any good ‘bonnet dramas’ currently showing, I’m now watching this series on pay tv as I missed it first time around (which is often the case for me).

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lara, and thank you for your kind comments. I’m so sorry that you have ME (I’m not sure what CFS is) and I do now how certain conditions – such as noise, crowds and bright lights can made someone with ME feel really ill. The dept store where we went, Hoopers, was always a dept store from years and years ago when most towns had them, but apart from a family-owned dept store in the nearby town of Newton Abbot, it is the only one which we like. One, which belongs to a large chain (I won’t mention it by name for fear of offending those who like this store) I do not like. It’s strange what can put you off a place, but in this store, it’s the smell. It doesn’t smell bad, it just smells of cheap scent and plastic! Hoopers is a smart store, it’s seldom crowded, it is quiet and relaxing. I can’t bear noise, either! We have had to write-off many a café simply because of the noise.
      I have a DVD of a the Miss Phryne Fisher Mysteries, but I couldn’t get into them. I thought, because they are set in the 1920s, I’d enjoy them, but I found they were not for me. Strange as I love the Mrs Bradley Mysteries (with Dame Diana Rigg, made years ago of course) which are set in much the same period. Oh, that’s a lovely description: bonnet dramas! That’s a bit up-market on ‘clogs-and-shawls’ genre!

  8. Hello, Mrs Powling, how nice to see a post from you. I’m sorry about your feeling a little under the weather and do hope you feel fine in a day or two. I love all your flower arrangements, they look so effortlessly put together. The carnations, this time are beautiful. I wish you some sunny days in the week ahead!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Kavitha, for your kind good wishes. I am feeling better than I was earlier in the week, or I should now say “last week”.
      Yes, I also love the spray carnations. Indeed, I bought two bunches of larger carnations to take with me when we went to visit a friend on Friday. They were beautiful and I was almost tempted to buy a bunch for myself, but didn’t. Now I regret it as they were my favourite, cream edged with a deep plummy red. But I have these small spray carnations and when they open out fully, they will look lovely. I don’t actually spend much time arranging flowers, I’m certainly not a flower arranger. I just find what I hope is a suitable vase or jug and cut the flowers to size (I don’t like to see too much stalk unless they are elegant in their own right) and splay them in the vase or jug so that they don’t look bolt upright, as if I’ve simply removed the wrapping cellophane and shoved them in the most handy jug!

  9. Hello Margaret, it is such a treat coming here and reading about your relaxing week illustrated by your super photos. The Crown Devon pear dish is perfect for you I think and I can just get a scent of those delicious freesias. Did I mention that there is a clump blooming now in the walled Rose garden at a Polesden Lacey. No I could not believe it either, especially after the freezing wet winter we have had. But spring is on the way and I’m listening to a favourite radio programme “Words and Music” on Radio 3 and I do believe we have broken the back of packing up 26 years of our life prior to moving on the 18th. The sorting, cleaning, wrapping and boxing so the boxes are packed like a tightly fitting puzzle is more time-consuming than you might think. My daughter is on her way home (it is her 22nd birthday tomorrow and such a treat to have her home for her birthday), my husband is cooking dinner and it is “Ordeal by Innocence” on the telly tonight – bliss. Have a lovely evening Sunday evening Margaret.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Sarah, for saying it’s a “treat” reading about my relaxing week! I will have to buy different coloured freesias as buying white every week is getting a bit boring, but they are so beautiful I just love them.
      Best of luck for your move on the 18th, I hope all will go smoothly, or as smoothly as a move ever goes! And how lovely to have your daughter home for her birthday, too. I shall forego the Ordeal by Innocence as we are watching the Masters from Augusta National.

      • I haven’t got into the golf this year but my husband is recording it so we may fast forward through the best bits later. I have a lovely photo of my four-day-old daughter sitting on her daddy’s lap watching Augusta. Her expression says: I am fully awake and concentrating on the golf so there is no way I am going to sleep!”. In the 1980s and early 1990s I used to travel to Atlanta Georgia every April for a humungous intermodal transport show and one f the highlights was always a round of golf. I am definitely not a golfer but with an eye for the ball I managed to acquit myself reasonably well.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          How wonderful, Sarah, to have been to Augusta! Most envious. What a beautiful course it is, but oh, so difficult.

  10. I was happy to see a new post from you, Margaret. I hope you feel better every day. The weather tends to affect me as well. Consistent spring weather would sure be uplifting. We are in a period of it being very cold and snow is in the forecast for this evening into tomorrow – not much, but still – it is April and it seems we should be done with snow. We still have some snow on the ground from our last snowfall! At least the sun is shining today – that helps.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Jeannine, and it’s funny how the weather affects us, isn’t it? Today brightened up considerably this afternoon, but I have felt tired again, so have rested. We had a long day yesterday, up with the larks and then watching the Masters from Augusta National until the last round had been played, and in a moment I’m going back to watch the final day’s play. My goodness, you still have snow! I really can’t complain then, can I! We have had some sunshine this afternoon and the tulips are coming into bloom, but sadly, after such a winter of snow and rain and high winds, our tiny garden is a real mess.

  11. I think freesias are my favourite flowers. It’s the lovely fragrance and they come in such beautiful colours too. I love pinks, lily of the valley and sweet peas for the same reason.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Joy, and I agree, freesias are gorgeous flowers, they have it all, colour, shape and fragrance. And I agree, pinks, lily of the valley and sweet peas, too, all with such wonderful and yet distinctive scents.

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