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One Thing Leads to Another (or Weeding my Reading)

I will start at the beginning, like all good stories.  I was up early. I mean, early.  4.30am early. No, I will not say “up at sparrow fart” or anything like that, as I think that’s silly.  Just early will do.

The previous night hadn’t been good, husband was unwell, and so we slept little.  But last night, as I was so very tired, I retired to bed (as they’d have said in Jane Austen’s day) at about 8pm, and slept until 4.30am without waking.  When I did wake I felt fine, and as it was almost light outside, I got up and made coffee.

Before I knew it, I was taking photos of the sunlight coming through the walnut (again!) and actually reflecting on the camera lens.   Oh, don’t you just love early mornings in summer?

I quickly showered and washed and dried my hair, dressed, did my makeup, and made breakfast which we had outside; husband also up and showered and dressed by then.

 

Melon, bacon and tomato and toast, with coffee to drink, and toast and marmalade as well.  After which I quickly filled the dishwasher and then decided I’d clean the kitchen worktops (counter tops.)  I removed everything, and gave it a thorough clean (not that it was very grubby, but crumbs sneak into corners when you’re not looking) and then I cleaned each item as I put it back, the toaster, the kettle, the bread bin, the knife block, etc.

I then decided, after so many days spent outside, it was high time to give the sitting room a clean.  I washed the windowsills, and then washed the cut glass and cranberry glass items which ‘live’ in the bay window.

I then asked husband to help me move the cream sofa so that I could vacuum under it. I can manage the large terracotta sofa, as it has casters on all corners, but the cream one has only casters on the front – goodness knows why – and the back has legs, so the whole sofa needs slightly lifting at the back in order to roller it forward and it’s too heavy for me to do this.  That done, I moved the other sofa and vacuumed under that, plus under the lamp tables, the standard lamp, and the nest of tables.

And then, in the corner of the sitting room, a pile of cookery books, which have been there for the best part of two years, looked reproachfully at me.  I have been trying to think of a place to put them (in an already book-stuffed house) and husband even said he’d make a new bookcase for me, but it would mean moving a pretty side table and lamp (photo below) in order to do so, and I like this table where it is – it’s been in this position since 2002! – even though it now has a pile of décor books living underneath.

This is just some of my large collection of ‘interiors’ books

And some ‘overflow’ interiors books, with my four ‘London’ books by Liza Picard

And so, one thing led to another:  I began to ‘weed’ my paperbacks.  I began with the As and worked my way through to the Zs, and then the Virago paperbacks, which is a separate collection in itself.  Oh, it pained me to do so, but I had to be ruthless in order to find space for the cookery books. I needed at least two shelves and I also needed to part with some cookery books (go on, weep. I almost did.)

Here is the ‘weeded’ pile for the charity shop tomorrow.  What a shame all you readers can’t come and have a rootle through and help yourselves!  And the books are all in good condition, too. No manky books here, no siree.

That done, I  had space for the cookery books.  I sorted the A-Z paperbacks, and this is what they now look like. Bear in mind this is only the paperback section of fiction.  Hardback fiction is in the bed sitting room, and  other various collections, such as my Joanna Trollope collection and my Mary Wesley collection, are elsewhere.

 

And now, ta-da, the cookery books, wedged in tightly but the titles are visible.  They have to lie on their sides – because of their size – as these shelves were originally intended for my paperbacks (they are fixed shelves.)  The remainder of the Viragos are here, plus the last of the paperbacks, the Ts and Ws.  I parted with a title with an author whose names begins with Z, so no Zs (or Xs or Ys come to that.)

It looks like the shelves are sagging, but no, they are quite straight. The camera does this, I’m afraid.   At one time I had a lot more cookery books than you can see here, but I’ve simply had to part with them because of lack of space.  But I have kept two from the 1960s for sentimental reasons. One, the Woman’s Own Cookery Book, is the very first thing I bought for my ‘bottom drawer’ in 1963 after our engagement.  Do young woman have ‘bottom drawers’ today?  I don’t expect they do.  And the other book is the Nancy Spain Colour Cookery Book which my father bought me at much the same time. My goodness, I could look up some retro recipes in those, could I not!  One I used to do was called Swiss steak and it involved a packet of Knorr tomato soup!  Truly. With steak!  But there were no cook-in sauces in in the 1960s when we thought a dried Vesta Prawn Curry was exotic!

And so, all the paperbacks and the cookery books are now put away, and the sitting room is dusted, polished and vacuumed.  There is no pile of cookery books any longer in a corner.   I can now stand back and admire my housekeeping (only joking!)

 

 

 

 

So there you have it, a morning spent ‘weeding’ and cleaning. And I’ve photographed my books without any flowers close to them!

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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45 comments

  1. Margaret, you have a “move in ready” as they say in real estate terms house!!!! You should be so proud of your skills! No allergies in your house from dust mites! It would be such a pleasure to sit on your sofa and sip a cup of tea with you. Before we left Massachusetts, I gave 450 cookbooks to some young ladies that were getting married and it was a win/win situation. It gave them joy and it was that much less the movers had to move to California. Enjoy the sunshine. Lucy

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      My goodness, 450 cook books! If you took just one recipe from each, that would be enough for a recipe book in itself. I have always liked cookery books, but other books take priority, such as my interiors/décor/architecture/social history books, and my fiction, too. The study is filled entirely with non-fiction. As for dust mites, I’ve not cleaned upstairs yet … but I will get there. The sitting room hasn’t been decorated since 2002, and the curtains are the original ones from 1985. But buy good and things last. Buy plain/classic, and they won’t ‘date’, either. Well, I trust the room doesn’t look too-1980s! Yes, we are enjoying the sunshine, it’s lovely, and not too hot today.

  2. Your living room doesn’t look 1980’s or any era Margaret. It looks tasteful and charming. Elegant quality furnishings are always stylish and don’t date. I always enjoy a peek to other people’s lives. Thank you for sharing.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you for your kind words, Sally. We like our sitting room (which doubles as a dining room when we put the table out, but as it’s usually just the two of us here, we eat at the kitchen table and only put up the dining table for high days and holidays, family meals, etc. The two chairs that belong to it has been used thus: two in the study and two in the kitchen. Multi-tasking furniture! When we have the table ‘up’ rather than as a sofa table, we just bring in the chairs from the other rooms. We always had the dining table in use when our sons were at home, and now they are grown up with homes of their own.

  3. I don’t keep many books as I just don’t have space for them but I do love to see full book shelves. Someone’s going to pleased when they visit that charity shop.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I think the charity shop people will like them, Jo, and their customers. I’ve the first six Charles Finch novels (19th century crime, an American writer who sets his novels in England), and several green Viragos, and a couple of very nice style books which while they are nice weren’t quite what I wanted, one by interior designer Joanna Wood and another on French interiors. So yes, I think the charity shop will love them. I didn’t really want to part with them, but space is limited.

  4. I find it very hard to part with many of my books, so now I just don’t. However, sometimes I’ll get some from a charity book day, or the op shop, and if I know that they’re not going to be a keeper, they go into my pile of ‘stuff’ which is going to the op shop. Your sitting room looks so lovely. Cosy yet somewhat elegant .

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I was unable to part with books until I helped out in a friends’ antiquarian/2nd hand bookshop many years ago. All the books had belonged to someone (or belonged to several people) before they came into the shop, only to be bought yet again, the ultimate in re-cycling. And then I realized that you could part with books, you didn’t have to keep them if perhaps you had read them and they were OK-ish but you new you’d never read them again, or if you bought a book and then after a few pages decided it wasn’t your cup of tea, that sort of thing, in other words, only keeping those that you hadn’t read and were going to give a try, and those you had read and loved. All this applies only to fiction, of course. When it comes to non-fiction, I have parted with many books, those I bought simply for research for an article. But then there are the books I love, and those remain and I have to say, I do buy far more than I part with so the problem of where to keep them is an ongoing one.
      Thank you for your kind comment re our sitting room. I’m going back there in a moment to watch the 2nd half of the Brazil v. Serbia footy match.

  5. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    I thought 5.30 was bad enough but 4.30am…you’ll soon be going to bed and getting up at the same time! I have a solution to your book-space problem. I think you should open a private lending library. So long as half the books are out on loan, you’ll only need to find space for the other 50%.
    well, I can’t say that I’ve ever heard the ‘sparrow; expression – is it a Devonian saying? We refer to Larks in the Midlands.
    Early morning sun is lovely but my favourite is an early evening in summer.The light in our bedroom at that time is wonderful. Our house faces almost north so it’s only in the morning and evening that we see the sun. The back garden gets it in between.
    I’m sure that ‘bottom drawers’ are a thing of the past. Mine was an ottoman and I remember buying a small kitchen item each week – a cheese grater, tea towels, a butter curler (quite why I thought this essential, I have no idea) anmd my first cookery book – The Hamlyn All Colour Cook Book (which had a contribution from a lady who was later to become very well known – Mary Berry).

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, 4.30am, and I felt fine, too.
      A private lending library would be great, would it not? People are often astounded when the see the volume of books here, especially those used to buying only the occasional Dan Brown or 50 Shades of Chick Lit. Mind you, I’d not want to have to do all the paperwork, and sending out the book-overdue notices, ha ha!
      No, I’ve read it on others’ blogs, the up at ‘sparrow fart’ saying, same as I’ve heard of ‘silly o’clock’, again which sounds a bit daft to me. Yes, I know it’s meant to be funny, but now it’s a cliché. Yes, up with the larks is an old saying. I’m just parting with one of my books with that very title (by Tessa Hainsworth). I enjoyed her three books but, sadly, they have to go now. Someone will love them. I’d make little bundles of the books which are in series, and sell them for a bit more than what they would bring in individually, but that’s the bookseller in me coming out.
      Yes, I love early evening, too, in summer and it makes me very nostalgic for when I used to visit a dear friend in her lovely home of a summer’s evening way back in the 1970s when we first met, and our boys were less than a year old. Sadly she died a few years ago, but when I see the sun at a certain angle of an evening, I think of her lovely sitting room, and the two of us chatting, and drinking cups of tea.
      Yes, I bought all kinds of things for my bottom drawer, kitchen implements as you say, and I even had some lovely embroidered pillow cases. Oh, that Hamlyn books was so popular!
      Oh, I had a butter curler – can’t think what’s happened to that now! I also have a hard boiled egg slicer – whoever uses those now! All very Retro!

      • I still use a hard boiled egg slicer when I have an egg sandwich.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          I’ve only used my eff slicer about twice in our whole married, life, I’m surprised it’s still in the kitchen drawer, Alison. When I made egg sandwiches, I mash the hard boiled egg with a little salad cream, salt & pepper and some chopped chives if I have them, and spread that onto the bread.

      • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

        I use my egg slicer regularly and always have! The item featured at the top of my daughter’s list of essentials when she was planning to leave home for university. I like sliced hard billed eggs on toast .

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          I’ve never had sliced hard boiled eggs on toast, Eloise! Obviously, I’ve not lived! I can’t say I care for hard boiled eggs that aren’t mashed up with some salad cream, they are just too “eggy” if you know what I mean!

        • I like that too Eloise, I often have that for breakfast.

          • Margaret Powling
            Margaret Powling

            To Eloise and Alison,
            What have I been missing? Sliced hard boiled eggs on toast!!! One of these days I shall have to try that.

          • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

            Even better with a smear of marmite on the toast!

          • Margaret Powling
            Margaret Powling

            In reply to Eloise and Alison,
            Oh, I love Marmite!!! But even that isn’t the texture that it used to be years ago when it was more like a paste. Now it’s more gluey.

  6. Excuse me, but you should stand back and admire your housekeeping! It looks wonderful! And a job well done. I, too, wish I could be there and go through the books you decided to donate (although, what am I saying as I have stacks of books passed on to me by my sister!).

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, Jeannine, I think you would enjoy a rootle through the books – but other people’s books are always fun to look through, to see what they’ve chosen.
      OK, I will admire my handy work yesterday, then … our sitting room now looks fresh as a daisy!

  7. Such a lovely picture of your garden in dappled sunlight! We got to see your entire sitting room today from different angles. It looks absolutely spice and span after your housekeeping.
    I spied a Rachel Allen book in your collection. I’ve watched her cookery shows on TV and love them ☺️

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I am up too late this morning to see that early morning dappled light, Kavitha. We didn’t wake up until 7.15am but a few mornings of getting up at 4.30am ensured we were really tired last night and I slept like the proverbial log.
      Yes, I have one Rachel Allen book, but because it was piled in a corner with all my other cook books for almost two years, I’ve not yet tried any of the recipes. I remember her mother being a chef on TV, too.

  8. Sorry, that was meant to read spic!

  9. The early morning sunlight dapping through your walnut tree is very pretty Margaret and we will remember these halcyon days of summer when it’s a cold, dreary winters day won’t we? Up with the larks is one of my favourite sayings and regularly used.
    Years ago my cookery book collection was effectively culled by my 2 year old labrador who, annoyed at me going out and leaving her, spent a couple of happy hours taking them off a shelf and ripping them up, I came home to her standing belly deep in ripped up paper, looking incredibly pleased with herself! The lesson learnt that day was that Labradors take a long time to grow up ☺️ I have gradually built the collection up again, mainly thanks to charity shops and that’s why I always pass any unwanted books on.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, my goodness, what a naughty dog! But as you say, Labradors take a long time to grow up. I don’t think our younger son’s dog Barry will ever be mentally mature! I’m glad you have managed to build up your collection again via charity shops.

    • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

      Many years ago my Golden Retriever had similar fun with a sizeable collection of vinyl albums!

      • Margaret Powling
        Margaret Powling

        Oh, another naughty doggy! When Barry-the-dog (who, as you know, belongs to younger son and his lovely partner) was a puppy, me managed to get into our bedroom and find one of my husband’s hearing aids that he had put by his side of the bed (i.e. not in it’s box!) Barry chewed it up but, thankfully, didn’t swallow the battery. It cost us £50 to have a replacement. But it would cost a lot more to replace a record collection!

  10. A very productive morning indeed and your room looks really lovely. There’s something very satisfying about a good clear out, I think. It unclutters the mind as well as the home.
    I’m really sorry to read that your husband wasn’t well and am glad he’s recovering.
    Have a lovely day.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you for your good wishes re my husband, Joy. Yes, he’s fine thank you. I think he simply didn’t drink enough water during the day and he was sick, and becoming dehydrated can make you sick. Why do men always need reminding to drink more in hot weather? Common sense, sadly, isn’t common to all!

  11. You did very well to remove all of those books. I understand how much you enjoy them. I’m sure the staff at the charity shop will be grateful for the donation of good quality items and the funds go towards such a good cause, as you have explained before. Give yourself a pat on the back – provided your arms aren’t too tired after all the cleaning !

    I hope your husband is feeling well again xx

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, it was quite a pile of books, over 50 paperbacks and some rather nice hardbacks, too. The charity shop were delighted to have some more books, and while there I bought some raffle tickets in their latest draw which will be drawn tomorrow.
      Cleaning is very good exercise as well as having a pleasing result at the end of it!

  12. I’ve noticed the comments I’ve made tonight (my time) in response to this post and the previous didn’t appear with the usual ‘your comment is awaiting moderation’. Instead, the comment appeared as is. Has something happened to your blog ?

    • Same thing happened when I posted today.

      • Margaret Powling
        Margaret Powling

        Alison and Lara, I’m sorry this is happening, but if it’s a real nuisance, let me know and I will see if it can be changed.

        • It’s not a problem for me but it might be for you if you get inappropriate comments. It’s only happened for me today.

          • Margaret Powling
            Margaret Powling

            Most inappropriate comments go into Spam, Alison (thank goodness!) and all the comments appear on my Dashboard page, so if there is anything that was unsavoury, shall we say, I can delete it.

          • Margaret Powling
            Margaret Powling

            That’s great, Alison, just as long as it doesn’t present any problems for readers who wish to comment.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I don’t know why this has happened, Lara. Does it affect your comments at all? I hope not. I haven’t changed anything, but of course, I had those problems which the person from the Fiverr website managed to correct for me, but whether this has affected the comments, I do not know. If it’s a problem, let me know and I will ask her about this.

  13. Your home looks lovely Margaret, as always! I spied a couple of books on your little table by the fireplace which I recognised as I have them too – Lessons from Madame Chic and At Home With Madame Chic, both by Jennifer L Scott. I always loved reading as a child but sadly didn’t seem to find time to do so when I was working and bringing up family. It is only since I retired that I have been able to enjoy reading again.
    I tend to only purchase new factual books which I intend to keep, I have several on a similar theme to Madame Chic . The odd novel usually comes from the charity shop which is then returned once read. I do enjoy Rosamunde Pilcher stories and enjoy re-reading those occasionally.
    However I am certainly not an avid reader by any means. Always enjoy your blog though! X

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Dot, for saying our home looks lovely. And you are right, I have the three books by Jennifer L Scott and enjoyed them very much – they are the kinds of books you can pick up and re-read at any time.
      I was slow to learn to read as a child but once I got hooked onto Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books and the lovely ballet books by Lorna Hill (of which I’ve posted before, but a long time ago), there was no stopping me. When I didn’t have much time to read, when our sons were small, I just read magazines and eventually I started borrowing from our local library again, taking the lads with me, an almost-four year old and one year old in a pushchair (for younger readers, that’s a buggy – oh, how our language changes.)
      I remember the first book I borrowed was L Hartley’s The Collection, and I loved it. I also joined a book club and gradually my library began to grow. Of course, my tastes developed and I found writers I’d not hitherto heard of in 2nd hand bookshops, and of course, new writers who were being published in paperback in the lovely new bookshop (I mean for new books, the shop had been there for years) in Totnes. Eventually, through visiting a 2nd hand bookshop regularly, I got to know the owners and eventually they asked if I would help out occasionally, and that is when I went from one side of the counter to the other, and there I learned much about books and the book trade in general. Today, a week doesn’t go by without me buying a book or books, I’m still hooked on books! I get positively twitchy if I don’t read at some point in the day.

  14. Hi Margaret,
    I worked as a Lending Librarian for 38 years, and you have no idea how happy it makes me to see your books in beautiful alphabetical order. I hate to see books just ‘plonked’ on shelves in no particular order at all.
    I wish my living room looked like yours, but as we have 22 month old grandson here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I no sooner get it tidy and he arrives like a whirlwind!
    It may be an idea to get some Electrolyte tablets (decent health food shops have them) for your husband. When the weather’s very hot, sometimes even drinking lots isn’t enough. Having just one drink a day with an Electrolyte tablet dissolved in it will prevent any risk of him getting dehydrated.
    I still have my egg slicer, and use it quite a lot, my husband likes sliced hard boiled eggs with tuna and salad. It’s also very handy for slicing mushrooms!
    I’m a cookbook fiend, Amazon just love me! I had a sort out three weeks ago and sent thirty cookery books to the charity shop, and am going to need to get rid of a lot more. The problem is that they’re like good friends, it’s physically painful to say goodbye to them. Still, needs must!
    Well, I’ve had a little sit, time to do a bit more housework, it’s 29c here today, so apart from hanging washing out, and bringing it back in, I’m staying indoors. The sun awning is down over the French windows, so the living room, although it faces south, is quite cool, so it’s a little bit of houseork, a little sit, and so on!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Having worked (although only as a helper, not as a regular assistant) in an antiquarian/2nd hand bookshop, Colette, I love to see my books ‘ordered’. I just wish I had more space to organize the non-fiction, but they are organized as much as space will allow, for example style/décor are together, biography and autobiography are together, A – Z by subject, country and gardening are together, British topography next to country as the two are invariably linked in some way, social history is next to history, and so forth. Fiction is, of course, A – Z, both in the paperbacks and in the hardbacks. Some series are together, for example Persephone books, Observer’s books, Shire Books, Virago books. Books just plonked on shelves would really upset my sense of order – perhaps I’m OCD where books are concerned!!!
      When we used to help look after our little grandson (pre-nursery, pre-school) it was a losing battle to keep things tidy, but it was worth it to have the little fellow here. But by the time he was crawling he was attending nursery.
      I will take your advice and put those Electrolyte tablets on my next shopping list.
      I don’t know what the temperature is today in the sun, but it has been a steady 20C most days in the shade of our walnut tree – we have an outdoor thermometer/clock on the side of the summerhouse.

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