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A Golden Dawn

Dawn was truly golden this morning. I had been awake since 4.30am when husband made us a cup of tea. He then went back to sleep but I got up, read for a while, made a pot of coffee and then as the sun broke through the bruise-coloured clouds, I took the above photos, above and below.  I knew we were in for a lovely day, and not before time.

I like being up early when it’s sunny and the earth is new and fresh. I made a 2nd pot of coffee while husband slept on, and enjoyed that in the study, admiring my handywork, having spent at least two days cleaning the room (I still have some jobs to do in there, but it’s 100% better than it was.)


The study faces north west (the patio doors facing north) and, with the door open to the hall, you can see the sunshine coming in via the dining room window, which faces due east.

Once up, showered, and dressed, I made breakfast.  Elder son joined us for breakfast this morning and we had fruit, and then poached eggs for the chaps, and two small pancakes with maple syrup for me (Scotch pancakes, not home-made this time.)

As we had no bananas (which sounds like the old music hall song, “Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today …”) I opened a tin of peach halves and cut some into pieces to add a little sweetness as the raspberries are rather sharp tasting.

I cooked two poached eggs for each of the chaps …

As I cooked them in the simmering water together they looked like double-yolked eggs, but that doesn’t matter.  I then served them on toast with black pepper and a little parsley (white savoury food should have some greenery on it, or so I read recently.)

My plan for today (which didn’t materialize) was to clean out the summerhouse, but instead I cooked a roast chicken lunch and also made a rhubarb cake as I bought the rhubarb last Friday and it needed to be used.   Oh, this is such a lovely moist cake, more a dessert than cake, and lovely with some whipped cream, and it can be served warm or cold.  I have dredged the top with icing sugar  just to finish it off.

The cake does ‘sink’ a little but that’s to be expected with the weight of the rhubarb on top, and as it’s so moist I didn’t remove it from the cake tin’s base, so once cut you can (unfortunately) see the tin with its silicone paper circle.  We enjoyed a small slice each and I will cut the rest into 1/3rds and freeze them separately, each will make a dessert for us in the future.

I couldn’t make up my mind which photo to use, so I’ve ended up showing you all three.  The cake is made exactly like the toffee apple cake but using rhubarb instead of dessert apples.

I am now going to make us a cup of tea and maybe, just maybe, I might summon the energy to start emptying the summer house so that I might sweep it out and then steam-wash the floor and clean the windows before I put all the things back again.   On the other hand, I might just decide to take my cup of tea in there and sit and read my book. I actually think that’s a much better plan!

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. Gosh, you were up with the lark Margaret, how lovely to watch the sun rise on what has been a very, warm sunny day.
    That cake looks absolutely delicious, we both love rhubarb with a passion so it certainly wouldn’t last long in this house, especially with a dollop of cream, yum.
    We did take advantage of the warm weather and cleaned out our big shed, not as glamorous as your summer house, but it has become a bit of a dumping ground over the winter so certainly needed sorting. My potting bench is now once again clear and ready for some work!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I was really up with the lark – indeed, I think I beat the lark to it this morning! The cake is lovely, more a dessert really than a cake.
      Our summerhouse is tiny, Elaine, just 8ft by 6ft, but we were limited to this size because of the walnut tree and the boundary wall, and still leave sufficient space for a table and chairs on the little terrace in front of the summerhouse. But it’s a nice little place in which to sit and read or listen to music or watch TV (but we tend not to watch much TV out there, preferring peace and quiet.)
      Sadly, our arch in the garden collapsed this winter and with it, the clematis montana and a honeysuckle. Rather than trying to rescue any of it, the whole lot has been dug out and we will erect a new arch (I say “we”, meaning husband) and plant new climbers, perhaps a pair of roses. There is a lot of tidying up and planting to do in our small garden, it’s looking very scruffy at the moment, but then, we have had a rotten winter and spring. Today has been the first really pleasant day. Well done on cleaning out your big shed – wish we had one. But there again, if we had, we’d only fill it and it would be something else in need of cleaning out!

  2. The thing with sheds, is that I’ve never had a shed that didn’t get damp. Where I live gets a lot of rain. I love spring, and spring flowers. Margaret, what is the difference between Scotch pancakes, and the other pancakes?

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Husband built our little summerhouse and it is double-skinned, unlike sheds you buy in garden centres which are usually made of rough timber and are single-skinned. Between the inner and outer walls there is insulation, too, and between the ceiling and the roof and under the floor. It is totally watertight and last year, when roofers repaired our small flat-roof porch area (it’s not a real porch, separate from our hall, but just a small flat-roof area) we asked them to put an extra layer of roofing felt on the summerhouse, and so now it’ll be good for several more years to come. As yet, and it was built in 2010, there hasn’t been any dampness in it at all, thank goodness. And we have a very wet climate here in Devon, too.
      Scotch pancakes are small ones, a bit thicker than normal pancakes that we have with lemon and sugar. They used to be called drop scones when I learned how to make them when I was at school, when you dropped a small amount of batter onto frying pan.

  3. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    Wha an absolutely stunning sunrise. I used to drive to Worcester to work and each morning passed a particular point where, over the months, the landscape was totally changed according to where exactly the sun (or lack of) was positioned. I loved it on those days that the sky appeared golden.
    Your rhubarb cakes looks so moist and very appetising. I love rhubarb.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, it’s lovely to see the landscape changing with the seasons. Many years ago I used to help out in a friend’s bookshop (antiquarian/2nd hand books) and I loved the journey to the shop in a south Dartmoor town. On the way I would pass a small orchard, so I would see the apples in the autumn, all rosy and red, and then a little further on a very tall tree (not sure of the specie) which turned from green through the various shades of autumn to a rich brick red before the leaves fell.

  4. As always, your photos have me salivating. It’s 7:20am here and I’m lying in bed with my first (and most important) cup of tea of the day. I’m yet to have my breakfast and only had a very light dinner last night so am certainly hungry now after seeing your pictures ! The cake looks delicious but it’s your beautiful crockery, table linen, cutlery, etc that certainly adds to the aesthetics. It’s a wonder your son didn’t return for lunch 🙂

    We are seeing the first real signs of autumn here. Yesterday there was a lovely breeze. I went to the cinema with friends and we sat at outdoor tables and chairs afterwards drinking tea and coffee and it was very nice. Mind you, I’m still wearing summer clothes. Although I don’t adhere to the ‘ten item wardrobe’ of Jennifer L Scott (aka The Daily Connoisseur), I do put away most of my ‘off-season’ clothing into our spare room and wear the same outfits on high rotation. It’s been such a l-o-n-g summer here in Australia that I feel like I’ve been wearing the same clothes for years. First world problem, I know, but I’ve always felt better dressed in my clothes for the cooler months. My ‘uniform’ of dark jeans / pants, ballet flats, 3/4 sleeve tops and scarves is much missed. I’m bored bored bored with what I’m wearing and looking forward to turfing one of the dresses and a couple of the tshirts which have now seen better days. As I said, it’s a first world problem and I’m grateful to have a lovely home, husband, friends and family 🙂

    I made (gluten free) apple crumble in individual ramekins a few days ago. I use the recipe which Fiona Ferris posted on her blog ‘How to Be Chic’ a couple of years ago. I’m heavy handed with the cinnamon so the house smells divine as it cooks. I serve it with lashings of fresh cream, simply poured over the top so it soaks all the way through. I also add sultanas to the fruit (which I first soak in boiling water to allow them to ‘plump up’). As I had a very late lunch yesterday (after coming home from the movies) I wasn’t hungry at dinner time so I had one of the leftover apple crumbles. In my pyjamas. In front of the tv. Watching my favourite home renovation shows – I flicked between one based in Canada and another in the U.K. I always enjoy watching the huge differences in room layout, floor coverings and furnishing between countries. Sitting cross-legged at the coffee table. Bliss !

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I did ask son if he would like lunch, too, but he our daughter in law had left him things for his lunch (while she was at work and grandson at school.) All the crockery we use is old, apart from the new Burleigh blue & white pottery I bought last year. The cups and saucers and side plates on the table yesterday were 2nd hand from a tea room, items that customers had brought it, given to the tea room and were sold in aid of a charity. Indeed, I bought another tea service there, my favourite white/orange/gold one that, I admit, we seldom use as it’s so delicate, but I must use it otherwise we will never see it! I also have my pretty violet-decorated tea service and that will be coming into use shortly now we’re in spring. That was a 2nd hand ‘find’ in the Quay Antiques Centre in Topsham. But it’s fun to make the table look nice, and it doesn’t take any longer to put out pretty plates as it does to put out mundane plates.
      I am fed up with wearing warm winter clothes just as you are fed up with your summer things! At last, today is fine and sunny again. Before long we will be complaining about the heat, I’m sure!
      The crumble sounds lovely, and I also enjoy watching homes programmes, such as Escape to the Country (more about buying homes than renovating them, really.)

  5. Margaret, I feel we’re kindred spirits even though miles separate us. To appreciate the majestic golden sky at dawn, to have complete joy in preparing a beautiful table for all to enjoy, even if it is just breakfast and then to present the glorious rhubarb cake is truly heaven on earth! Thank you so very much for sharing your daily special moments that fill your heart with joy. It’s what make my heart sing too. Lucy

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      How kind of you to say that, Lucy: that we are kindred spirits! As husband and I are retired I admit I have the time to admire the dawn as I did yesterday morning, and to lay a table for breakfast rather than eating a slice of toast on the hoof while getting ready for work – mornings used to be such a rush in our working life. So now I love to lay the table with pretty things, arrange flowers, make sure that while we don’t decorate often or spend oodles of money on fripperies or on the latest gadgetry (our hi fi system was bought in 1987, but it still works!) I keep our home clean and tidy (or I try to!) so that it is a pleasant environment in which to live.
      The rhubarb cake is very tasty. We had a small slice (shown on the photo yesterday) and I’ve put a small portion for us to have today into the fridge, and the rest is now in the freezer.

  6. I thought I’d quickly add this simple recipe for fruit crumble – credit to Fiona Ferris of ‘How to Be Chic’:

    1 cup plain flour (gluten free but you can use ‘normal’ flour if you have no such dietary restrictions)
    2tbsp desiccated coconut
    4 tbsp cubed cold butter
    2 tbsp brown sugar
    1 tsp cinnamon (i use more, but that’s just me)
    Fruit – I core and dice 4 apples (I prefer to leave skin on) and blast in the microwave for two minutes until soft. Soak 1/3 cup of sultanas in boiling water until they plump up. Tinned apple is good, as is tinned apricots, or combination. The amount of fruit you use can be determined by the volume of your ramekins / dish.

    Place all ingredients – except the fruit(s) – into a large bowl and mix. Use your fingertips (only) to rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
    Using either individual ramekins or a pie dish (or similar), put in your fruit.
    Lay your crumble mixture on top. Cover the fruit or else it will burn in oven. The mixture doesn’t need to be ‘packed down’.

    Bake for 30-40 mins at 180 deg.C.

    Serve with cream, ice cream or custard. Or all three ! Yummy as leftovers and easily reheats in a microwave.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Ooh, those fruit crumbles sound lovely, Lara. I make something very similar in ramekin dishes, but I’d not thought of adding sultanas, although I sometimes add cinnamon to the crumble topping. I will copy this lovely recipe from Fiona Ferris (How to be Chic blog.) Thank you for taking the time to copy the recipe for us.

  7. It is good to hear that Spring has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere although knowing how fickle weather can be it might disappear on a whim. There is something comforting about sunshine – especially after the long hard Winter ‘you’ have suffered. If the dry days continue I’m sure we’ll be able to hear all the associated garden noises like lawn mowers all the way down here 😊

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      It is another sunny day here in Devon, Cathy, but I don’t expect it to last … we seldom have the same weather two days running! Right now, 11.42 am on Thursday, husband is cutting the grass around our house (grass on three sides) and I’m nursing a sore tummy – I think I must’ve strained it humping all those books about! So I’m taking it a bit easy and this is really annoying me as I wanted to get on cleaning out the summerhouse! How is it the moment I feel energised the old bod lets me down! Grrrrr!
      Yes, the sound is of a garden mower … ours!!!

  8. Margaret, you magazines appear to have post-it notes. Are those for your quick reference? Your study is very pretty and I love the black “Mrs Delany” lamp!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, Donna … well spotted. They are post-it notes, but as they have been in the magazines for so long, the notes on the end, telling what the article I’ve flagged-up is about, have faded so I can no longer read them! Some of these magazines go back to 1985 and before I had these magazines I had another large collection. When we moved here, before I had any shelves on which to put the magazines, they were stored in the garage. Husband said that if I didn’t move them he’d take them to the tip. I didn’t move them, and he did! But I began to collect again, the now have a vast collection, but they will have to go eventually, space being finite.
      I had never thought of the lamp as being a Mrs Delany lamp. Not heard of a floral lamp being called thus, but I do love the work of Mrs Delany and you have reminded me of her wonderful cut-flower pictures (there is a lovely book about Mrs Delany which I have: The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock.)

  9. The cake looks delicious, I’ll have to search for your recipe 🙂

    I was up early – obviously I was up through the night with the cat but I eventually gave up at 5.30 and got dressed. It’s another lovely day here. I’ve cut the grass, got two loads of washing out and vacuumed through the house. I’m waiting for the grocery delivery now. My son and his family are coming tonight for a couple of days so I had things to do before it gets too warm and I can’t be bothered.

    Your study looks very welcoming now, good work!

    • I found the recipe – 9th February 2017 in case anyone else is about to search.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Another early bird, but this time because of your elderly cat. But sometimes it’s lovely to be up and about before the world is up, isn’t it? That special quiet or early morning, which is my absolute favourite time of the day (just as I prefer spring to autumn, I prefer dawn to dusk.) And you put your early morning to profitable use, cutting the grass, doing the washing vacuuming, etc. Perhaps the anticipation of the arrival of your son and family caused you to waken early so as to get on with preparations for their visit. I know if we have guests coming, I’m usually awake early to get on with things in this way.

      • Alas it wasn’t anticipation, it was just the cat. She had me up at 1.25, 2.15, 2.40, 3.30, 4.45 and then I gave up at 5.30. There’s only so many times you can get back to sleep.

        Of course she’s had a lovely day asleep in the sun…..

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          Oh, this is awful, having to be up so many times for your cat, but I know she’s old and you really do look after her. Does she sleep in your room? Perhaps she just needs to feel you close by? Or if she is suffering from failing kidneys, maybe she likes to be near a source of water – our ginger cat when he was on the way out sat on the draining board so he’d be close to the tap. He must’ve known there was water there. And, typically, your cat has slept for much of the day!

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