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May Flowers

White cherry blossom in the small park yesterday in town (where we needed to buy paint for the garage door after we had done the food shopping)

We awakened to sunshine, yesterday; it was a truly beautiful morning.  I had been up early, catching a glimpse of the sunrise, before I headed back to bed for another hour’s sleep …

This was the sky just before six this morning, the reflections of pink streaking the sea.  You can’t beat Nature for a gorgeous colour scheme, can you?

Once up, we decided to drive to Lidl, where we’d stocked up on washing up liquid, washing machine liquid detergent, all those necessary but not necessarily inspiring products, and then we headed to Waitrose. Car park almost empty, and the store again almost to ourselves.  Also, another rather nice food display in the entrance – I couldn’t tell you what the recipe was, I was too busy choosing flowers after I’d taken this photo, but there were leaflets and ingredients so that you could pick them all up and make whatever was the recipe of the week (or day) at home …

I had already bought pink roses and daffodils in Lidl, but wanted something scented and, as we know, roses from supermarkets have absolutely no scent. So bought freesias yet again (a wonderful bunch with no less than 9 stems this week) and some Brompton stocks (unfortunately, only 4 flowers to the packet which I think it is a little mean.)

Don’t worry, I won’t dot these various colours all around the sitting room like floral Smarties! The daffodils are for the kitchen, the roses for our bedroom, the stocks for the sitting room, with the freesias for the dining end of our sitting/dining room but once the daffs are ‘over’ and the freesias have opened out fully, they may find their way to the kitchen where I spend a lot of my time.


Are these daffodils last hurrah?

Stocks behind the sofa – their scent is wonderful  (I added some greenery from the garden)

Roses in our bedroom

Freesias, but they are yet to come fully into bloom

A couple of floral items I’m not totally convinced about are a pair of pillow cases I have bought.  I got carried away with a half-price offer!   I just thought they might make a nice change from the plain white bed linen that we have used since forever (I don’t mean the same bed linen, but I always buy white) but they are not quite me, I have to say, and they also clash with the cushions on the bed and the prints above the bed of Redoute roses. See what you think …

However, husband remarked at how beautifully soft the cotton is and how comfortable these new pillow cases have made the pillows.


It is now Friday.  The computer failed again yesterday when I was halfway through writing this post, but my computer man instructed me in how to reset the router, so all is well again.

To continue …

I have been a little disappointed with the tulips this year.  A combination of perhaps the wrong choice of tulips and the atrocious weather we have had, with snow and rain, the rain for weeks on end.  Most tulips are over now, but these are still looking pretty, our tulips’ last hurrah!

We actually did some gardening yesterday, I emptied some pots of jonquils and narcissi, and I’ve planted up four pots, two with white antirrhinum and two with delicate purple violas.  Once I empty all the pots of bulbs I can see how many plants I need to get for a summer display. I have bought some pretty pink geraniums and I think I will plant those in the pale green planters by our back door.

Unlike my two other monthly style magazines, that have opted for yellow as their leading cover colours, these, these two have chosen pink.  I think these covers really do suggest the kinds of style magazines each are:  on the left, the magazine which shows mainly stylish readers’ homes, not particularly grand, but beautifully decorated, and on the right, the more grand country houses, seldom starkly modern, and usually with the most glorious antiques.

I had heard great things about …

Fever-Tree mixers.  Even one of the check-out assistants in Waitrose mentioned to me that they were far superior to any other mixers she had tasted … and she wasn’t trying the hard sell, I am sure! … and so yesterday I succumbed to Tonic Water which has angostura bitters in it as flavouring, i.e. making a pink gin (which I’d never had before.)

We don’t drink regularly, just occasionally, and unless the day is very hot I don’t add ice to G&T because I don’t want my drink watered down (of course, some may down it in one, so there’s little chance of the ice melting!) I loved the flavour of the tonic, but husband found it slightly too bitter.  My glass is on the left … as you can see, I’ve already had a sip!

And while I didn’t have the fruit cake (above) with my G&T, I thought I’d show you my latest baking effort … the all-in-one fruit cake which I make from an old Stork advert recipe from the early 1970s.  You put all the ingredients into the bowl together, mix, put in a tin and bake and it always comes out perfectly. No sunken fruit, and really moist and tasty.  This is just to demonstrate the even distribution of fruit (raisins, sultanas and glace cherries.)

And finally … the sea yesterday afternoon, a really deep blue. I have zoomed very slightly, it looks a little further away from our sitting room than this, but it’s still a pretty view over the rooftops to the sea.


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. Morning Margaret,we brought or is it bought? the mixed bunch of chrysanthemums yesterday in Waitrose,your flowers in your branch of Waitrose look a lot healthier than ours. We’ve been out in the garden weeding and turning the soil,front garden today. We have a spare patch in the beds and are looking for low perennial plants with scent,any ideas? Sun is shining today barometer is reading 32c in the conservatory and looks as though it’s here for the next week or so,how the sun lifts our spirits. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      After I had bought my flowers, Margaret, I saw some assistants putting new flowers out and thought I really ought to go and change mine … the stocks re dropping already, but then stocks don’t last very long, sadly, you might do better with your chrysanthemums. I really don’t know of any perennial that is scented, but there must be some. Maybe other readers of this blog might know? Any suggestions, anyone? I would be inclined to plant slow-growing Daphne shrubs, as they can be kept low and have a wonderful scent. My goodness, 32C in your conservatory! It’s chilly here in Torbay this morning, I’ve had the heating on!

  2. Hello Margaret,
    It is always such a pleasure to read your beautiful blog, all the flowers look gorgeous. I know you are interested in opinions Margaret, so I do like the pillow cases, but like you say they do clash a bit with the other cushions and pictures. What a brilliant idea recipe of the week with all the ingredients on the display, I really like it.
    Have a good weekend.
    Best wishes

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, so much, Marlene for your kind words re my beautiful blog. Thank you for your thoughts on those pillow cases. They do take a bit of getting used to and really, I don’t think I’d have bought them had I enlarged their photo on my computer screen and then put one of our cushions next to them! This is what I try and do when I buy something online, and it usually works, but at £24 for the two I thought it worth a punt, as they say. And the quality is very good. I think I will return to the Sophie Conran website, though, and order some more with the scalloped edges … Chris ironed my pink-edged pillow cases and scorched one. It’s easily done if you’re not careful, even with cotton which takes a hot iron, so I didn’t shout at him! After all, he usually makes a very good job of the ironing, I can’t complain. I think it happened because it was the first pillow case in the ironing pile and perhaps the steam hadn’t worked it’s way through the iron, and yet the sole-plate was red hot.
      Yes, I thought Waitrose had got a winner there … a display for the recipe of the week, and all the ingredients required. I will take a closer look at this display in the future.

  3. Have you shared the recipe for the all-in-one fruitcake before? That looks delicious!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, Kathy, but I can’t remember which blog post in which I mentioned the fruit cake, Kathy, so this is it:
      You can bake it in a round tin or a loaf tin, it doesn’t matter, I’ve used both and it’s equally delicious.
      Set the oven at around 160C, and you will bake the cake on the middle shelf.
      Into a bowl put:
      4oz margarine
      4oz caster sugar (I used golden granulated caster, but you can use white caster)
      2 eggs
      8oz self-raising flour
      1 level teaspoon of cinnamon
      Grated nutmeg
      12 oz mixed fruit (I break this down into 4oz sultanas, 4oz raisins, 4oz glace cherries, and then I chuck in about an ounce of candied peel, but this can be left out if you prefer.)
      All you do now is mix the whole lot together. I admit it looks a dog’s breakfast to start with but eventually it begins to look like a cake mixture. Put into the prepared tin (I use loaf tin liners) and bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly. You might need to bake it for about 10 minutes longer, or perhaps it’s not cooked through but is browning too quickly on top, so reduce the heat but allow to bake for a little while longer.
      Allow to cool in the tin.
      As I say, very simple.
      And then simply enjoy!

  4. How about Lily of the Valley as a scented perennial. We are enjoying ours at the moment. Although they are quite invasive, I’ve planted them where I want them to take over.

    Margaret, you write like friend to friend about every day happenings of a happy housewife. Maybe your audience is much the same age. I so identify with so many things you do. Even some of your vases are like some I own and here I am in the USA. I make my own vinnagrettes too which truly are so simple, I don’t know why more people don’t make their own.

    Bless you for blessing all of us with your daily musings. We love it!


    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you for your lovely comments, Lucy. I’m delighted you feel that it’s like writing to a friend … well, we are a group of friends now, world-wide, which is absolutely great and how I hoped my blog would be when I started it in August 2016. How amazing is that, that some of my vases are similar or the same as some you have!
      Yes, home-made vinaigrette is so easy, you can make it just before you serve a salad, no need to have a jar of commercially-produced stuff in the fridge at all.
      And yes, lily of the valley would be wonderful perennial flowers, their scent is superb.

  5. I think your new pillowcases are quite lovely. I think they go quite nicely with the overall theme of roses. I don’t think it matters that the color is a bit different.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      We are now getting used to the pillow cases, Jeannine. And you are right, it doesn’t matter that the colour is a bit different – I’ve always said I don’t like things matching exactly. But I confess I have sent for a pair from Sophie Conran, so I shall have more scalloped-edge white ones again, this time with pale green edges to the scallops. The flowers on the floral pillow cases are supposed to be dahlias but really, they could be any large flower. I would say, though, that the cotton is a lovely quality, beautifully soft, and they were a half-price bargain.

  6. A lovely post Margaret and how pretty are those flowers, I am due to go shopping at some point today and can see a couple of bunches making their way into my trolley. We are back from holiday now and the apple tree is in full blossom so a few sprigs of that will also make their way indoors, treated carefully they should hopefully last a few days.
    Whilst in the West Country we did pop over the border into Devon for a drive trough Dartmoor, beautiful and we were very taken with Tavistock, lovely market town with some good, independent shops.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I have been shopping again, early, this morning, Elaine, but didn’t buy any more flowers, just salad things as the weather is set to be fine this weekend and we hope to be outside for at least some of the time. Oh, how lovely to have some apple blossom indoors!
      Tavistock is lovely! There is a great pannier market there and they have lots of antiques and bric-a-brac stalls. Yes, a good market town with some lovely independent stores. We love a trip across Dartmoor, via Totnes, Ashburton, Two Bridges, etc, to Tavistock. It’s about a 80 to 85 mile round trip from our house, but it makes a lovely day out. Sir Francis Drake was MP for Tavistock, of course – it was Drake who had Drake’s Leat built which supplied fresh water from Dartmoor for the people of Plymouth. Also, much of the town was built by the Dukes of Bedford, hence Bedford Square and the Bedford Hotel.

  7. Thank you for the fruitcake recipe, I might try that tomorrow. I was hoping someone had asked for it!

    I did like the pillow cases but I’m not sure I liked them with your other stuff. But if you are getting another plainer pair then you can use these as spare ones, and it’s lovely to have good quality soft cotton.

    Very hot here, I sat in the garden earlier but I’ve had to come in now. The cat was out with me for a while but then went up to her bed. About 10 minutes later she dragged herself out of bed and flopped across the landing 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, you are right, Alison … the pillow cases are nice in their own right, but they don’t go with the cushions on the bed, or the Redoute prints above the bed, nor with our rose-patterned curtains (which weren’t on the photograph.) But I will use them occasionally – I still prefer pure white on a bed, with perhaps a green or pink edge.
      It’s hot here now in Torbay – we went out early so were back early, and husband has been helping elder son in his garden do some fence repairs while I’ve tackled the ironing and a few other housekeeping jobs. I am now going to the summerhouse for the hottest part of the day and then perhaps some gardening this evening, once it’s a little cooler.
      Oh, your poor cat won’t like the heat, will she? Maybe the landing is the coolest place for her.

  8. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    We went to Waitrose today and saw an identical display! I couldn’t tell you what the recipe was either, but I’d only gone in for lemons and didn’t want to be tempted by anything else so it was straight to the checkout.
    More gorgeous flowers. Id always understood that they should be displayed in an uneven number so it does seem odd to sell the stocks in a bunch of four, but I bet the smell was still wonderful.
    Lucy mentions Lily of the Valley – such a lovely scent but I never see bunches on sale. I wonder why that is?
    Honest opinion on the pillowcases is that they are pretty but I’m not keen on them with the cushions. I like the cushion pattern better. I had a suite back in the late 80s which had a very similar chintzy pattern and I loved it. I don’t think roses ever go out of fashion. I’ve designated tomorrow baking day.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, it’s so easy to get led astray in Waitrose, Eloise; you did very well to keep your head down, grab lemons and head for the check-out! I wasn’t quite as wise as you and although we had been there yesterday, I bought more than I originally intended.
      Yes, I’ve noticed how lily of the valley are seldom seen in ranges of flowers in a supermarket – might it be because they are poisonous? But then other flowers must be poisonous. Or perhaps one cut they don’t last very long?
      I agree – the pillow cases will find their way to the back of the linen cupboard I think, but oh, they are so soft and lovely to sleep on. The cushions are lovely, they are silk (but they were inexpensive also, I might add.)
      Ooh, a baking day, that sounds lovely!

  9. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    Perhaps you could get a couple of plain silk cushions for use with the new pillowcases and then alternate. With regard to the softness of pillowcases, I always sleep on a pure silk one (reputedly good for skin and hair). I take them with me wherever I may sleep! Amazingly soft.
    Had Husband not been with me, I would almost certainly have bought more in Waitrose. He’s not a happy supermarket shopper!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      That’s a good idea, but the new pillow cases also clash with the floral curtains, so I think I will just put them to the back of the linen cupboard and use them only occasionally. I’ve heard silk pillow cases are good and meant to be good for the skin (and fewer creases on the face when you wake up!) Husband will go with me to the supermarket as he knows I usually, although not always of course, stick to my list and I go around at a cracking pace. We are not dawdling pensioners, ha ha!

  10. Thank you for the beautiful photos of the variety of flowers. I especially like the pink roses in that pretty vase / jug in your bedroom.

    I have also bought things online only to be a bit unsure once they have arrived. For my part, I like the paintings, the cushions and the new pillowslips but perhaps not altogether. Given that the new pillowslips are nice to sleep on – a very important factor – perhaps you could use them occasionally. Or else tuck them behind two pillows with plain white pillowslips (we have two pillows each on our bed). Unless of course you end up with so many pillows and cushions that getting into bed each evening and making it again each morning becomes a full time job ha ha.

    The pink tonic looks very pretty 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lara – yes, more flower are in our home … I would be rich it weren’t for my flowers/books/magazines/perfume/soap habits!
      You are right, the pillow cases aren’t right with the other items, but the Redoute prints look fine with the cushions, I think. The pillow cases (thankfully, not expensive; half price in their sale) will live at the back of the linen cupboard, I think! Yes, we have two pillows each on the bed, plain white ones and then either plain white on top or the ones with the coloured edge. I’m looking forward to seeing the pillow cases with the green scalloped edges. No, I wouldn’t add more pillows and cushions. This became a fashion fad about a decade ago. We even stayed in a B&B once and there were so many frilly lace cushions on the bed that they stretched almost to the foot of the bed, they looked ridiculous.
      I bought another bottle of the pink tonic. There are various flavours but I stuck to angostura bitter bark flavour. There was one with cinnamon but I didn’t think I’d like my gin with a hint of cinnamon somehow.

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