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Another Gallimaufry

Yes, another gallimaufry, many months after the first.  Gallimaufry?  A collection of unrelated things.  A lovely word, isn’t it?

To start, just something pretty … flowers on the breakfast table.  The sweet Williams were just the tiny ones, the off-cuts, which I put into a tiny jug and which are now flowering; the red rose from bouquet which consisted mainly of chrysanthemums; and a single Gertrude Jekyll rose from the garden, with its lovely scent.

Followed by a not very good start to the day.  Our car had developed a water leak.  Husband located the cause – a crack in the radiator hose.  As we have an appointment tomorrow (and thus require the car) we phoned our local garage but they are fully booked and can’t have our car in until later in the week, or even next week and, in any case, they suggested it would be too risky to drive the car to the garage even though it is only 2 miles from our house, as the said cracked hose with water spewing out, could cause damage if the engine over-heated.

And so I phoned the AA (Automobile Association) as we are fully covered not only for roadside breakdown services but also for home start.  Within half an hour a very pleasant man-with-yellow-AA-van arrived, and while I made him a cup of coffee, he effected the repair.  He said it was good for at least a month of two, but as the coolant in the radiator which contained not only anti-freeze but a substance which protected the engine all year round had leaked with the water, having a proper garage repair sooner rather than later would be a good idea.  I will get on to that forthwith.

Before he left, I just had to take a photo …

Years ago, AA men travelled around on motorcycles in khaki uniforms, sedately, bolt upright in the saddle,  and if you had an AA badge on the front your car, they would salute you!  Hard to believe today, but as I took his photo, this AA man saluted me (with a big grin, too!)


Something nicer than a cracked water hose was the delivery of a box from L’Occitane  which contained a present for our younger son whose birthday it is tomorrow …

And with is some samples of their products which I will try out in due course …

It seems that everywhere now we are being encouraged – along with serums – to use oils, whether it is for our hair or our skin.  I’ve yet to try anything like this and I trust that all these oils and serums aren’t going to add to the fatbergs that are now appearing in the sewerage systems throughout the country.  When washed off our bodies, these have to go somewhere, don’t they?


Next, lunch.  While husband painted the door frame and eaves on the summerhouse I made cauliflower cheese for lunch.

Just a simple meal,  cauliflower steamed until tender in a cheddar cheese sauce with the addition of 1 vegetable Oxo cube, and then popped into a grain dish and grilled. A sprinkling of chopped parsley makes a white-ish meal look more appetizing.


And finally, a book …

I have just finished reading three most enjoyable books, all fiction, and what might be classed as ‘light novels’ but definitely not chick lit.  Ella Griffin’s two gorgeous novels, The Memory Shop and The Flower Arrangement (I don’t know which I enjoyed the most, they are both excellent reads), and more recently Veronica Henry’s A Family Recipe, with a dual narrative, part set in 1942 and part now, connected by characters and setting (the city of Bath.)  I have several books in my To Be Read pile but I wasn’t in the mood for any of them, and so took down from the shelf the kind of book which used to be known as a ‘bedside book’, the kind of book people used to buy specially for a guest bedroom, to put alongside a carafe of water and a posy of flowers.

Although I read this when I first bought it, almost a decade ago, it certainly merits re-reading, and this book of short essays was just what filled the space between the end of reading three lovely novels and what I might choose next, a light sorbet of a book, a reading palate cleanser.

Modern Delight is an anthology in aid of Dyslexia Action and the London Library. It was published in 2009 by Faber & Faber, and has a Foreword by Sophie, Countess of Wessex.  She says …

“Back in 1949, J B Priestley, that self-declared ‘grumbler’, write a magical collection of short essays on the little things in le that caused him delight.  A gin-and-tonic, the sound of football, detective stories in bed, meeting a friend, smoking in a hot bath, and charades were among the many things that he found delightful.  This fascinating new book, Modern Delight, updates the J B Priestley idea and places it in the current context, sharing the delights of people from all walks of life.”

People who have contributed to this book include: Joan Bakewell, Antony Beevor, Alain de Botton, Sebastian Faulks, Stephen Fry, Michael Morpurgo, Kate Mosse, Bill Nighy, Jeremy Paxman, Justgine Picardie, Nigel Slater, Roy Strong, [the late] Sue Townsend, and Lynne Truss.

Topics include, and not necessarily by the above writers, Paris, Pleasures of the countryside, Beekeeping, London parks, French movies, Charity shops, Family life, Sunday breakfast at home, Red toenails, Rescue chickens, and My cats.

I am now going to see if I can locate a copy of the original J B Priestley book mentioned by Sophie, The Countess of Wessex.

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. Hi Margaret,
    If you use the L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil, be careful, it can, on occasion, make the floor of the shower cubicle a bit slippery!
    The Almond Milk Concentrate however, is wonderful, I go through pots and pots of the stuff, and no, it doesn’t make one smell of marzipan!
    I’m a huge L’Occitane fan, their products really suit my skin, although I find their fragrances a bit too subtle, I like stronger perfumes.
    I’ve been using the Immortelle Divine skin care range for quite a few years now, the cream, eye cream, serum, youth oil and cream mask, none of it’s cheap, but it lasts for ages, and I buy it online when they have offers on.
    Just before last C*****mas (far too early in the year to mention the word) I changed to their newer range, Divine Harmony, and have to say, it’s fabulous! Even better is that the Cream and Serum are available as refills, so after buying the ‘pretty packaging’ first time around, I’ve bought refills once, and will need to do so again in a few weeks. Buying the refills saves me £40 a time though!
    We’re having Lamb Koftas in home made flatbreads for supper this evening, but tomorrow will be Cauli Cheese, probably served with bacon. As soon as I saw your lunch I got a cauli cheese craving!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, I’d not thought of that, Colette, so thank you for the warning. I shower all the time, I’ve not bathed since 2004! I certainly won’t be using the shower oil, then, I wouldn’t want to risk slipping or my husband slipping if he showered after me and the floor was slippery. I use St Ives body lotion and have found that very good, but I’m willing to try Almond Milk Concentrate when next I need to buy a body lotion. Like you, I once had one of their fragrances, but many years ago. It was Tea Rose but was so light as to be almost not there, and I prefer a stronger fragrance. If I’ve bought a perfume, I do want to be able to smell it!
      I confess I have no idea what Lamb Koftas are, I’m not very adventurous with my cooking! Yes, cauliflower cheese with bacon is lovely, and I often do cauliflower cheese as a vegetable dish to have with other vegetables when we have a roast meat meal.

  2. “Gallimaufry” what a nice word!
    As for oils in cosmetics, I believe that most part of them should be absorbed by our body or hair and not go to drainage. Otherwise what we are paying for as consumers? :)))
    Thank you for another cheerful post!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I love the word “gallimaufry”, and I think it’s fun to use different words.
      I’d not thought of that, Maria … that the oils in cosmetics are absorbed by the body or hair. After all, that is what the oils are designed to do. I must be very silly not to have appreciated that! All I could see was masses of oil being washed down the plughole after a shower or bath, and an oil-berg clogging the piles, ha ha! Glad you enjoyed my latest post!

  3. Margaret, I sometimes wonder about all of this ‘stuff’ that we use in various ways, clogging pipes and such. I seem to always be unclogging baths and showers. I love L’Occitane , although I seldom have the funds for their products but how special to have little trial sachets to try.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I have only been given a product once, Ratnamurti, a body wash which I’ve yet to use as I’m old fashioned and love soap! This is the first cologne I’ve bought and it’s a present for our younger son whose birthday it is today. I have bought their soaps, and they’re lovely, and once a fragrance, which was so light that I hardly knew I had any perfume on! Yesterday, I tried a sachet sample of a body cream which contained shea butter (I learned that came from the nuts of the shea tree – I had no idea what it was although I had heard of it) and it was very nice, but also very thick, as if I were applying cream cheese to my legs. My legs still feel a little oily this morning, so when I shower some of that surely will be washed down the drain and add to the clogging of our sewerage systems? This is one product I shan’t be buying.

  4. Another fan of L’Occitane here although I have to pick and choose what to use as the prices can be prohibitive, I did buy my beloved some of their aftershave balm for a present and now he is a fan too. I do like their soaps and tend to buy them in packs of three as they are good to tuck away in underwear drawers etc until they are needed, makes everything smell sublime.
    The book sounds wonderful Margaret and has been added to the never-ending list!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Elaine, and yes, I have been looking at the L’Occitane website and find their prices rather high. I love their soap, though, and like you, buy it in boxes of three and tuck it away in my underwear drawer to scent the contents. I just hope our younger son will like the L’Occitane cologne, but I had a sniff and it’s gorgeous, so I think he will! There was a free gift with it with three miniature products, so he will receive that too, plus some money towards their garden refurbishment.
      The book is a light read, something to be dipped in now and again, an ideal bedside book.

  5. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    I love oils and use a facial night serum oil from my favourite producer, The Blue Lemon, a couple of times a week in place of my usual moisturiser. My hair is too fine for an oil but my hairdresser daughter in law uses Moroccan oil on several of her clients’ hair. I like to mix essential oils, lavender and geranium, with Shea butter to make a body moisturiser, again bought from The Blue Lemon. I’ve been using Bare Mineral’s facial serum under their day moisturiser for some time now.

    I like cauliflower cheese but not with a gravy dinner. Sometimes we have it as the main item with grilled tomatoes and petit pois as a vegi meal.
    Your book reminds me of an old Oxfam one I have called ‘Pass the Port’ based on the after dinner speeches of various speakers. It’s a great book to dip into.
    What a good sport your AA man was.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      How do you use oil on your hair? Is this before you shampoo it, or before you go to bed, or after you’ve dried it after shampooing? I have some Moroccan oil that was a freebie, but I really don’t know what to do with it! But are serums and moisturizer both necessary? I just use a moisturizer and my skin seems fine. Any more grease and I think I’d be oven-ready!
      Ooh, that book sounds good, Eloise – Pass the Port! Also good are John Julius Norwich’s Christmas Crackers (published long ago – they were first published privately for his friends.)
      The AA man was a gem, and I didn’t even ask him to salute. I’ve emailed the Customer Services to thank them for the speedy response and the excellent service of their employee. Well, we’re all pretty good at complaining these days when things don’t meet expectations or fall well below acceptability, so I like to say thank you when things have gone well, or someone has “gone the extra mile” as they say today.

      • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

        Two or three tiny drops of oil rubbed through hair that has been towel dried helps it retain moisture and makes styling easirr…so I am told.
        The use of serum was described to me as the ‘underskirt under the dress’. The dress on its own may be ok but the underskirt makes it hang better. Using serum, it helps the moisturiser sink well into the skin. My skin is very dry but is definitely better for using serum. I use it morning and night but I don’t use a night cream – just the same moisturiser for day and night. I don’t use a specialist eye cream either. I alternate jars (I.e. I use a whole pot of one before reverting to the other) between Bare Minerals Essential Moisturiser and Filorga Time Filler. I think it’s all about personal taste (not literally…I don’t eat them!) and what feels best for the individual.
        I do so agree about thanking people and recognising good service. Coincidentally Husband had to call out the RAC today. He needed a new battery i.e. His car. I sometimes think that I could do with a new battery!

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          Can you recommend a serum, Eloise? I have dry skin and I was given a Vichy serum (a freebie) and used it but I couldn’t really detect any discernible difference, my moisturizer still sank into my skin. I don’t use a night cream as I don’t like the feel of it on my skin once I’ve cleaned my face ready for bed. I’ve never heard of Filorga Time Filler. I am very naïve where these products are concerned. I spend very little on my facial and makeup products, just moisturizer, foundation, some powder to set the foundation (but so that I don’t look like I’ve been ‘floured’!) and eye makeup and lipstick. Yes, you are right, it’s what’s right for the individual. These products are serious money, though, so I won’t want to rush out and buy them in case I can’t see any difference once they’ve been applied. If the serum is the underskirt, what about the moisturizer? I thought that was the underskirt to the foundation. But, as you say, it’s a case of what works for the individual.

          • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

            I like the Bare Minerals one, Margaret but I’ve also used one from The Green People. Its good for moisturiser to sink in – your skin is ‘drinking’ it up. Apparently the serum sinks in and draws the moisturiser in. Does it all work? Is it all necessary? I’ve really no idea but I did once work with a woman who had the worst wizened skin ever and she proudly told everyone she had never put any ‘muck’ on her face! Perhaps the memory of her haunts me! I spend too much on pampering and maintaining but my excuse is that I buy very, very few clothes! What I have, I keep for years.

          • Margaret Powling
            Margaret Powling

            Thankfully, my skin is reasonably good, I’ve used a moisturizer since I was quite young, when we were told to cleanse, tone and then nourish our skin! Yes, these people who say they’ve never put muck on their faces don’t seem to appreciate that the muck actually protects the skin rather than ruining it!

  6. Mary-Louise Mielcarz

    Hello Margaret,

    I keep my scented soaps in a pretty painted bowl in my bathroom which makes the room smell wonderful. I never thought of putting individual bars in my underwear draw, great tip!


    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Mary-Louise. Yes, placing soap in drawers, away from sunlight, too, helps keep their fragrance and also scents the drawers and its contents. Mind you, if you have a number of soaps, you could still put some in a bowl in your bathroom, making the room smell wonderful, too.

  7. In Australia we have the NRMA – National Road Motorists Association, I think – a large organisation which sounds similar to your AA. The ‘Roadside Assist’ team are trained mechanics who are wonderful people, rescuing those whose cars have broken down, batteries gone flat, cars been bogged, keys locked in their cars, etc. One tv advertising campaign a few years ago presented them as white knights. Having been ‘rescued’ by them several times myself over the decades, I thought th description was apt. Your AA white knight looks very sweet in that photo. I hope the mechanical repairs don’t break the bank.

    Your goodies from L’Occitane look very nice. I must confess that I find their products too strongly perfumed for my sensitive nose. Several years ago when I worked in an office the man who sat next to me used one of their shower gels regularly and he smelt divine (I know it was a L’Occitane product as I asked him but can’t remember which one). I have a couple of L’Occitane handcreams which were given to me years ago but they languish in a drawer. A waste, really. I need to find someone who will use them 🙂

    ‘A light sorbet of a book’. Very clever !

    Very nice of you to send an email thanking your AA man. As you say, many are quick to complain but few take the time to provide positive feedback.

    I think applying oils to your hair – certain oils, I mean, not just any old thing – probably works better if your hair is dry in nature and also quite thick. In the past I’ve had hairdressers and one beautician (whilst doing a facial) apply warm oil to my hair then massage for some time. It felt lovely and had a positive effect on my hair afterwards but I’ve never done it myself. I imaging if your hair was fine it may not have the same effect as the hair feels very soft (limp ?) afterwards – possibly not the effect you’re after.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lara. No, when we take our car to the garage, I don’t think it will be an expensive job, but one never knows until one is actually presented with the bill! Yes, these roadside mechanics are wonderful and have to deal with all kinds of breakdowns.
      Yes, the cologne I bought for our son was quite strong, much stronger than the light fragrance that I bought several years ago which didn’t last very long on my skin. I’m happy to report that he’s delighted with it.
      I know that men used to use hair oil, hence the use of antimacassars (those little washable covers on chairs and sofas that were used when men used Macassar oil) and my father used Brylcreme (the RAF chaps in WW2 were known as The Brylcreme Boys as it was the fashion then to use this hair cream) but I’ve never tried oil on my hair.
      I have been rather naughty and orders several books, but more of those when they arrive! Some will be light sorbets, maybe even trifles (in both senses of the word, a mere trifle meaning inconsequential, and trifle, meaning a sweet dessert).

      • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

        Ooooh, antimacassars, I remember those! I’d bet that my children have no idea what they are. I shall ask them.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          I wonder if anyone reading this hasn’t a clue what antimacassars are without looking the word up in a dictionary or online? No, I’ll bet my sons, aged 45 and 49, have no idea what they are! And what about Dolly Blue bags! I can remember those but I don’t think anyone under 70 will remember them! (They were for ‘blueing’ the washing in the wash tub; they turned the water deep blue and therefore any whites being washed appeared much more a blue-white than a dingy grey, in the days before automatic washing machines and detergents with brighteners.)

  8. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    My Aunty used Dolly blues but my mum didn’t. I don’t know why not. We had a mangle in the outhouse. I expect some would wonder what that was too.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I remember them but I don’t recall my mum using them, either, Eloise. I think she was too busy working in my parents’ shop to worry to much about whether the whites were really up to snuff. Things got washed and dried and ironed, but she didn’t fuss over the things, she had so many other things to do. Yes, we had a mangle, too!

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