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By Dawn’s Early Light

Oh, how I love the early mornings in spring. There is special quality to the light but perhaps it just seems like that after all those dull winter days when it never really gets properly light, when, as I’ve often said, it looks like twenty past four in the afternoon all day long.

Many years ago my mother acquired this vase. At the time I thought it was the most hideous monstrosity; I wondered why on earth she liked it so much?  Our tastes seldom differed; we both couldn’t stand dolls, wondered why so many women went overboard for loads of soft cuddly toys – in particular teddy bears (the exception being those that had belonged to them as children, or to their own children) – or the Victorian boxes and so forth smothered in sea shells, or automatons, or even clocks, which remind us of time literally ticking away.  But Mum loved this vase and I remember her filling it with the wild flower, Honesty.  But not the actual flowers, but their seed heads which were like little discs of mother-of-pearl (nacre.)

Mum bought the vase from a lady whom I never met who’d had it on what is known as a credenza (an ornate display cabinet) which my mother also bought and which is now in our bed sitting room.  But the vase is in our bay window and this morning I thought how beautiful the porcelain was with the sun shining on the painted flowers.  It is quite a tall vase, about 17 inches, and about 9 inches at its widest part.  It is hand-painted, not transfer-printed. There isn’t any distinguishing potter’s mark, but its quality sings out, whether or not you like this kind of thing or not.  And with the sunlight shining on it, the photo taken at 6.15am, I can’t help but feel joy, remembering Mum’s delight in this vase, remembering the huge bunch of Honesty which she’d prepared for it, removing the outer casings of the seed heads to reveal, like an oyster shell, the wafer thin ‘mother-of-pearl’ concealed inside.

The best cup of coffee of the day is the first, is it not? And this is a large breakfast-size cup, not our usual tea cups. We  bought only two of these because only ourselves were going to use them; they aren’t the kind of cups we offer visitors to our home to drink from – they are very large and rather heavy and so when I drink my early morning coffee from one of them, I support the cup with both hands.

I have been sitting, reading my book, The Memory Shop, which is appropriate as I’ve been thinking of my mother and her love of antiques and how she has passed that love down to me.  The Memory Shop is about a young woman who for various reasons needs to clear her grandparents’ home after their death, and she ends up selling their antiques in her pop-up shop, endeavouring to match the items to whom she considers appropriate people, a delightful story.

I then moved around, taking photos of the early morning light on certain things in the sitting room and hall.  The sunlight hasn’t yet reached the study where I’m now sitting as this room faces west.

Stocks in the sitting room, sunlight on the books and ..

freesias opening in the warmth of the early morning.

Meanwhile, in the hall, sunlight was leaching out almost all colour from our Panama hats on the desk …

My hat is the one with the black band, by the way.

And the barometer has moved in the right direction, indicating fine weather …

And the temperature was rising even as I was taking this photo of the thermometer in the hall …

Celsius on the left, Fahrenheit on the right

And back in the sitting room, sunlight leaching colour momentarily from part of the top of the bookcases …

That special light only lasts for a couple of hours until the morning has really woken up.  I am now going to make a second pot of coffee, then shower and get ready for another day.  I hope you enjoy your day, wherever you are.

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. What a surprise, having just posted about vases (on your previous post).
    Yesterday I bought exactly the same vase you have in your photo today, the glass
    one in right side of photo.
    Will be interested to see what flowers you put in it.
    Love your mums vase

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Linda. I seldom put flowers in that particular cut-glass vase because it has a very wide neck and will only take fairly short flowers, and lots of them to fill the vase, but it’s a pretty vase, nonetheless. I love having vases of different sizes, colours and shapes, to suit various types of flowers.

  2. I found the same when I got the vase home.
    Maybe hydrangea flowers or similar would do.
    Will try them when the times right.

    I showed my hubby the summerhouse photos and he asked
    what your husband lined the inside walls with once the hardboard was on
    as its such a smooth surface.
    I wonder if you could ask him
    Many thanks

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      He simply painted the hardboard, Linda, a couple of coats of Farrow & Ball’s estate emulsion. But yes, the surface is nice and smooth. If you would like me to, I can send you more photos of the construction than I showed on my blog, that would give your husband more of an idea of what work is involved.

  3. There is certainly something about this time of the year Margaret, that makes you wants get up early with the sun and make the most of the day. It was really quite cold first thing but has warmed up nicely now and we are set for a pleasant weekend. We have just got back from having lunch at a local pub and we even managed to sit outside in the sheltered garden, we took our spaniel as knew the pub welcomed dogs. She is such a well behaved little dog and enjoys being out and about so no hardship to have with us.
    I too like to match vases or jugs to flowers and funnily enough have some of the same purple stocks currently displayed in the fireplace, being such lovely tall plants they can take a larger vase and the one they are in belonged to my darling Grandma, I think of her every time I use it, oh and I got my stocks from our local Waitrose last Saturday and they are still going strong!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, we are still very much animals, aren’t we? Awake when it’s light, and going to sleep when it’s dark. Mind you, getting up so early, I’m rather tired now and it’s only 14.52! (Or, translated, almost 3pm)
      How lovely to find a good pub that allows well behaved dogs to be there, too. I hope you enjoyed your meal.
      How lovely that you can use the vase your Grandma once had. It’s great that a couple of generations on, that these things are still being used and enjoyed.

  4. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    I love the way that light can make such a difference to the way something looks. For me, the best is early evening summer sunlight. It casts the loveliest colour onto our bedroom walls. If it was a larger room with space for an armchair I would sit in there to read. In Autumn I like the late afternoon golden light, just before it starts to fade.
    The vase is definitely to my taste though the younger me wouldn’t have liked it either. It’s interesting how our tastes change.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, I love early evening sunlight, too, Eloise. This comes into our study which faces west. Unfortunately, none of us can have everything unless we live on a mountain top, we don’t see the sunset as we do the sunrise, there are house ‘in the way’. But the light from the sunset comes into our study which makes it glow. And autumn light has it’s qualities, too.
      That vase is really large and when I went to measure it, just to see how tall it is, I turned it and the flowers on the ‘other’ side are white convolvulus, I think I should’ve turned the vase and shown both sides! But I thought it horrible when young, but now I see its beauty.

  5. Hi Margaret. I think this special morning light brings to life the beautiful special things you have in your home. The vase is stunning and I loved hearing about it’s history. Your things are not only beautiful but that they mean something to you and you have a connection to them. That is what makes a home special to me. Your fresh bouquets of flowers are so lovely. I didn’t get a chance to buy fresh flowers for my home this week. Hopefully, things will quiet down around here in a week or so (busy buying some new rental property), and I can enjoy the beauty of spring. Sending you my best wishes, Pat

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Pat. I’m glad you enjoyed my early morning light post, and also you share my liking for the tall vase. I think all the items that I inherited have a ‘story’ to tell. When I went to Mum’s house (where elder son and his wife now live with our little grandson) she would often open a cupboard and get out some of her treasured items and tell me about them. I just wish I could remember more about them! Some, of course, she inherited from her father and also her eldest brother, a bachelor who lived with my parents (that sounds strange these days, but my Dad had no family to speak of so when he married my mother, he shared the family home with my mother and her widowed father and bachelor brother and it was considered quite normal in the war years – it was only much later in the early 1950s). My grandfather and my uncle were, of course, Victorians, and like so many working class in those days and somewhat unlike today, they did much to try and ‘better’ themselves, through collecting things for their homes (having some ornaments indicated that they could afford to spend some money on them, they weren’t just on the breadline, so to speak) and through accomplishments – uncle learned to play the piano and was also a skilled artist. So they acquired things and as they seldom threw anything away, I ended up inheriting so much. But I couldn’t possibly keep it all, so I weeded it; some went to auction, some to charity shops and some, beyond rescue, went to the tip. At least by the time I inherited, I was in my 50s and I did appreciate which things were worth keeping.
      Best of luck buying a new rental property, Pat. I presume this is to let out to others, not for yourselves to live in.

      • This is a fascinating story to learn about your family. I’m very much interested in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. I too inherited many items from my Mother and grandmother. You are correct in that the new property week be rented out. Thank you for your gracious reply to my comment.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          I’m glad I’ve not bored you witless, Pat, with talk of my family, the Victorian and Edwardian periods are very interesting periods of our joint histories.
          The buy-to-let market here has taken a slight nose-dive in recent years, certainly after its height a few years ago following the financial crisis of 2008. The sad thing is that if people can find the money for a down payment on a property to buy, mortgages are usually considerably less than paying rent each month. On average, renting a 3-bed house within the Bay is around £900 – £1200 a month (and I’m not talking of the better areas which, obviously, command even more money, or in the cities) which is a staggering amount for a property which you will never own.

  6. It’s lovely that you have pieces which belonged to your mother and memories of her using them. I have bits and pieces from my late grandmothers – gifts I received from them during their lifetimes as well as pieces after their deaths. Many fond memories for me, too.

    We are enjoying another beautiful autumn day here in my part of the east coast of Australia. Sunny, blue skies that go forever, 21 deg Celsius and no wind. My friend and I went for a walk along one of our local beaches with her dog – it’s a dog-friendly beach – at about 11:30am and soaked up the sunshine. I love watching dogs romp along the sand, run through the water and play together. I’m back home now with my cat and typing this last bit quietly as she really dislikes dogs !

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, the things we inherit or have been given often have such strong personal memories, Lara. Indeed, the book I’m reading right now is about such memories, and is called The Memory Shop by Ella Griffin, and I’m absolutely loving it. Of course, there is a slight mystery behind the story, it wouldn’t be a romantic novel unless there was a strong underlying story that is more than just memories of objects, but it’s a lovely read. And some of the smallest things, the most insignificant things, can hold the strongest memories, they don’t have to be expensive or grand to be important.
      21C is such a lovely temperature – warm enough to be outside and not hot! I would like temperatures to be around 20C to 24C all the time!
      Oh, dogs so enjoy a beach, romping around, rushing in and out of the water. We have few dog-friendly beaches in the holiday season, I can’t think of any, but once the ban is lifted at the end of the summer you can see them all with their owners enjoying themselves once again.
      Talking of cats disliking dogs, many, many years ago, when my mother lived in her large house where our Close is now built (she sold to a builder – it’s a long story), her neighbour had a dog who would sneak into my mother’s large garden. At that time my mother had a Siamese cat, William, who detested this dog, and one day when it came into the garden the cat chased it – it was so funny to see a cat chasing a dog and not the other way around – and the dog, so my mother told me (for I wasn’t there at the time) set off like a steam train, Whoooooooo-Whooooooo, making such a funny noise in its attempt to escape. My mother was a very good mimic, and I wish I could translate the sound for you here, but it makes me laugh, even today, about 40 years later!

  7. More photos of the construction of summerhouse would be good to show my husband – thanks.

    Went to Sainsburys yesterday and they had some pretty things reduced
    Cushions in their Meadow Range, pretty pale flowers on the front and pale green backs
    Also matching candles in ceramic jars called Foxglove & Daisies – how could I resist?????

    Perfect for a summerhouse – just need one now!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Right, then, Linda … I will send more pix and I’ll ask husband here to mention what he used for the construction. He actually made the window frame but bought the original doors (they were internal doors as we couldn’t find ready-made exterior doors of the kind we needed) but they were no good at all and in the end he actually made the doors, too.
      Oh, how lovely to find some pretty cushions. Floral cushions are so popular now, and rightly so, they are lovely. I need to look for some new cushions for our summerhouse. The ones out there are old ones from our house.

  8. Honesty brings back fond memories of my mum,she always had them displayed in a tall blue glass vase she bought from Dartington glass. My husband is a glass collector whereas I love bone china. We would love a summerhouse alas not enough room,our house came with a very large conservatory so we use it as our garden room.Our garden is about 30 x 40,with a water feature, I love sitting in the garden hearing water running so soothing. Lilac blossom envious of you and your fellow bloggers,we bought a white one last year and it still hasn’t flowered,maybe next year?! Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I think glass and bone china complement each other, Margaret. I love both! And how lovely that my mentioning Honesty brought back memories for you, too. But even though you don’t have room for a summerhouse (and believe me, our garden is tiny) having a conservatory/garden room is equally lovely. Our garden is even smaller than yours, and sadly, we have no water feature. I love white lilac best of all. We used to have one growing in the hedge (our neighbours hedge) but suddenly it disappeared – maybe he cut it down? Who knows?
      Yes, you have a good weekend, too, Margaret – I will be watching The Wedding, hopefully in the little summerhouse. I’m planning on getting food ready today, so that I can enjoy it, hopefully without interruptions (and then the FA Cup Final for husband afterwards, a busy TV-viewing day, but in the garden.)

  9. Thanks in advance.
    Look forward to seeing more photos etc.

    The Meadow cushions look so much prettier than they do on the website and a bargain
    reduced from £14 to £7.
    Well worth a look.
    I think lilac can take a few years to flower (according to hubby) that is.
    Next doors lilac is sending lots of runners under our fence at the moment.

    Got white tobacco plants to plant out today, hope snails and slugs don’t like them.

    Looking forward to watching the Wedding.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I will check them out on the website, Linda, thank you for that. £7 is peanuts for a cushion for the summerhouse, that would be great if they are what I’m looking for.
      Lilac loves an alkali soil, and the laurel hedge is very much an acid soil plant, so perhaps it was just a fluke that the lilac grew there and then possibly died. But white lilac is gorgeous and the scent of lilac is one of my favourites in the garden.
      Oh, white tobacco plants (nicotiana) are wonderful, and look good at dusk.
      Yes, enjoy the Wedding!

  10. Dear Margaret, It is a beautiful day in Britain and I for one, am waiting for your impressions of the royal wedding. Especially your opinion on The Dress….I was a bit disappointed in the simplicity and her hair but I’m over 50…lol!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, Donna, I thought Meghan’s dress was stunning! I absolutely loved it. So simple, so elegant. But strands of her hair kept escaping. I don’t like the fashion for wisps of hair that aren’t caught up, if a woman has her hair ‘up’. But other than that, I loved the dress. It looked almost medieval in it’s simplicity to me, so we will have to agree to differ on that.
      But what a wonderful sunny day, the temperature not too hot, and clear blue sky. And oh, how splendid the service, and I especially loved the music, the gospel choir and the cellist. I prepared lunch early this morning so that I could sit in the summerhouse and watch it all from beginning to end.
      What I would’ve liked, though, would’ve been someone to accompany Meghan’s mother. I thought she had such dignity, but having to come over from American and then meet all our royal family, having tea with the Queen and Prince Philip, and then face all those crowds, well, she was truly remarkable, I thought. And so I would have liked her to have had someone to be with her, perhaps a friend as supporter. But Prince Charles looked kindly towards her from time to time and escorted her into signing the register. Overall, a splendid day for Harry and Meghan, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It must feel strange, an all American girl (or I should say, woman) being thrust into the heart of the British royal family, from a country who got rid of the monarchy and now she’s a royal duchess. She had such poise, I think she will be a real asset to the new young, modern royal family.

  11. Agree was all beautiful
    Loved the cellist and the choir

    I wish my MIL had been here to see the wedding she would have
    loved today.

    Its very hot outside, planting some Cannas that we got from an NT house earlier
    this year.
    They had boxes of them with a sign saying

    Help yourself and just asking for a donation

    We picked up 2 as they were huge and very muddy and have split them into six plants

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, a lovely wedding service, Linda.
      How lovely to have some cannas from the NT. I should’ve done some gardening and it really wasn’t too hot, but the light was very bright and I found it dazzling out there in the sunshine, so hopefully I will do a bit of gardening early tomorrow morning.

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