Home / articles / Summertime, and the Living is Easy …

Summertime, and the Living is Easy …

No prizes for guessing our first port of call this morning … I think you might recognise the emporium from previous photos of this display area?  We were in Wellswood, in the Rowcroft Boutique, where I offloaded all the books that I weeded yesterday.

As our bags were being unpacked (which we wanted back, they were our long-life hessian bags for our supermarket shopping) I took a few photos.  On one stand some lovely pottery …

The staff and volunteers really do arrange their stock beautifully, especially bearing in mind they cannot choose their stock, it’s what has been given to this charity.  Even the changing room is smart!

It isn’t often I buy anything in this charity shop, we’re usually in a hurry, but today, as they were unloading my books from the bags, I spied a book which I thought I might enjoy …

To those not in the UK, Joan Bakewell was what was referred to in the 1960s as “the thinking man’s crumpet,” a soubriquet she’s not been able to relinquish.  She used to be on a TV programme called Late Night Line Up, a sort of thinking man’s (and woman’s) chat show, and more recently she’s turned her hand to novel writing.  She has led a somewhat  ‘colourful’ life, shall we say, and I think this might be interesting.

From the charity shop to Waitrose, but no photos today as we arrived later than usual and it was quite busy, and I don’t like taking photos when there are lots of customers in the store, it isn’t good manners.

The new Waitrose magazine was available, so that is an extra magazine for me to read this weekend.  OK, it heavily promotes their goods, but it is still a nicely-produced magazine.

It might be hard to believe that this photos wasn’t ‘posed’!  I had bought nectarines, apples and red grapes and put some of them in a bowl on the table, and the magazine was close by and then I thought “they go together! ” Is that ‘posing’, I wonder?  When I don’t need to go in search of  ‘props’ for a photo because they are already there?

On arriving home I found that there had been a postal delivery, and there was another book for me …

Whether this will be my kind of read, I do not know, but it was only a few pence plus postage, worth a try, I thought.   As you can see, books are already seeping back in, like tidal water …

My goodness, how can  two elderly people go through so much food in a week?  I didn’t photograph the food today – I’ve done this so often you will think I’ve nothing better to do – but believe me, there were lots of fresh fruit and veg … tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, spring onions, bean sprouts, parsnips, red onions, nectarines, plums, grapes, apples, strawberries, raspberries, melon, bananas, dates, lemons, salad cress, radishes, new potatoes … and then I happened also to see a new line in tinned fruit … tinned peach chunks.  Only a small tin but I thought they might be a nice addition to a breakfast fruit bowl.

It was also a day to replenish things which were running very low, such as rapeseed oil, white wine vinegar, dried oregano and basil, fresh parsley, and pasta.  But we managed to find everything we needed and the only very slight impulse buy, or rather something which wasn’t on my very strict List, was the canned peach chunks.  We keep strictly to our List and sometimes even think, “It’s on the List but do we really need this?”  We are the kind of shoppers that the supermarket barons do not want!  Nonetheless, it was a very expensive morning.

Unfortunately, many of the bunches of flowers were on their last day for display, although they said that they were good for five days (some seven), but they were all fully open and in these temperatures I didn’t think they’d last until the weekend. However, I saw a bunch of freesias still well in bud, so bought those, but I missed not having some larger blooms for the sitting room.

It has been such a hot day that we were glad to return home, and once I had put the food away (thank goodness for chiller bags in which to bring home dairy produce this hot weather) we decamped to the summerhouse for a cup of tea and a baguette each (which I’d filled with cheese and tomatoes and spring onions.)  Husband then went to the coolness of the garage to work on one of his projects – the garage is cool as it’s under our house, a real man cave – and shortly afterwards I took delivery of the latest Marcia Willet novel, Homecomings.

Now, dear friends, this photo was ‘posed’.  I rushed over to where there are some pots of geraniums and waddled back with it (waddled because they are heavy) and put it on the table because I thought how nice it would look with my latest magazine and book!  The colours all go so well together, and I decided not to put a cloth on the table, but just show the rough wood for a change, all nice and rustic (or if we’re being fancy, then rustique!)  Oh dear, a stylist-manqué!

I enjoy Marcia’s novels very much, but somewhat against my better judgment; they are something of a guilty pleasure.  They are not chick lit although the covers of her most recent books, including this one, might appear to suggest the opposite – but that’s publishers for you, thinking this kind of cover will boost sales (and it might.)   It is pretty but it’s not really doing Marcia’s novels justice.  Well, not in my opinion.

Marcia’s books are always about a certain milieu – already, having read only the first couple of pages, an elderly gentleman to whom we are introduced (Ned) has had a “very long and successful career in the navy” – and the settings are always lovely ones – cottages by the sea, or houses on the moors – with kitchens where there are scarlet geraniums on windowsills instead of red demands for unpaid utility bills, and people give things like silver picture frames as presents rather than  bottles of plonk from the local convenience store.  Get the picture?  Pure escapism, and sometimes that is just what we want, the literary equivalent of a glass of Muscadet or a copy of The English Home magazine.  This doesn’t mean to say that the characters don’t have problems; they do, but they are problems that are always satisfactorily resolved and, as in Shakespeare, all’s well that end’s well.

Supper this evening was a simple stir fry (celery, leek, spring onions, small pieces of pineapple, bean sprouts and cashew nuts) with my own sweet & sour sauce (a mix of balsamic vinegar, runny honey, soy sauce and tomato puree.)  Just a check cloth, place mats, a spoon and fork and platesful of food.  No matter how I might try to jazz it up, stir fry never looks appealing, but it tasted really good.

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.

Check Also


People have often asked me who has been most influential in English interior design, both on …


  1. Hi Margaret. I must say your photos never look ‘posed’ to me – I love the way you put colours and different items together as it makes for a much more interesting photograph. To me, a photo of a book sitting by itself may be informative but it is certainly not that attractive. When things are put together, I feel you are actually creating a work of art, something that is visually satisfying and very appealing to the senses. That is why we enjoy your photos so much!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you for your kind words, Margaret. I want my photos to look attractive but not over-the-top ‘posed’. I’m glad you enjoy my photos; I enjoy taking them.

  2. I always look at your photos, Margaret, and I never have felt that they were posed, rather I felt that you are an artistic homemaker.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, thank you, Ratnamurti. After reading on a blog that someone didn’t like books with flowers, that they were posed, I worried a bit, thinking readers might think my photos too arty-farty. I love colour and I enjoy putting objects together. And as Margaret (NZ) says, a book on its own is informative, but when things are put together, they create something that is visually satisfying.

  3. Whether posed or not, your photos always look great – you have an eye for design and where things are in their own space and than shows in your photos as well as the way you arrange things in your lovely home.
    A garage under the house sounds fantastic!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Joy. I have always enjoyed putting things together. Even as a child – in my bedroom I had some old display stands from my parents’ shop and on them put all the cosmetics and toiletries that I had been given, often empty scent bottles and talc canisters and boxes of soap. I would arrange these items to my heart’s content; similarly, on the top of my dressing table (it was kidney shaped with a glass top) I would set out my brush and comb set, and pretty ornaments. After all, my parents’ had a newsagent’s shop and I read all the lovely monthly magazines even then, and saw the gracious houses and how things were arranged. Indeed, a glass jug in our sitting room sat on my dressing table (and it survived my childhood!) Then, when I started to use a camera, right from the get-go as they say, I seemed to know how to ‘compose’ a picture, it was something that came naturally, and I still enjoy making ‘pictures’ today.

  4. I agree with all the other comments your photos are lovely fresh and pleasing. Yesterday we took our granddaughter to Ferring to the seaside spent the day in and out of the waves skimming stones and collecting seashells.But boy was it hot even with a breeze coming off the sea.We had our first cherries from our tree up at the allotment and they were delicious.
    Watched the England game last night albeit we lost I think that was the game plan to avoid Brazil till the final which I think we have a strong possibility of reaching this time round.Have a lovely relaxing day,take care Margaret.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you so much, Margaret. I don’t know where Ferring is, but it sounds lovely, skimming stones and collecting seashells, just what children love to do. Oh, to have a cherry tree!!! How wonderful is that?
      Yes, we thought much the same. Last night’s game was tactical, a manoeuvre to avoid Brazil until the final, should they get that far.
      Yes, you have a lovely relaxing day, too, Margaret. I don’t think we will be going out today, when it’s hot like this and the towns and villages are crowded with tourists – well, it is summer and it is Devon – we do tend to stay more at home. Thank goodness for a garden – well, now the grass is yellow and straw-like. We did water it a bit to start with, but we’re careful with water, if everyone watered their gardens to the extent that the gardens required water, we’d soon be on water restriction orders.

      • It’s on the south coast between Worthing and littlehampton.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          That’s an area I’m not familiar with, Margaret. I know Bournemouth (but we’ve not been there since 1968!), and Eastbourne (not there since 1971!) and Rye and Winchelsea, but that’s about it on the South coast. But all our coast is beautiful. We especially like the Suffolk coast around Aldeburgh and Southwold.

  5. All the pictures are so beautiful, I particularly like the rustic one with the geraniums 🙂
    What kind of fruit is a nectarine? Is it a citrus fruit like an orange? It is not native to India so have never tasted one. So also rhubarb…have always wondered, what does it taste like?

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      A nectarine is like a peach, tastes almost like a peach, but has a smooth skin like a tomato, Kavitha. They seem to have taken over in popularity from peaches in the last few years. No, it’s not a citrus fruit, it’s technically a drupe, which is a fruit with a kernel (stone) in the centre, such as peaches and plums.
      Rhubarb is actually a vegetable but eaten here as a rather sharp fruit. Only the stems are eaten, and only cooked, they are far too bitter to eat raw or without sugar when cooked. It’s a difficult taste to describe and as I say some people really dislike it as it needs a lot of sugar to make it palatable.

      • Thank you 🙂 I never imagined rhubarb to be bitter, since in pictures it always looks so delicious like in a crumble!!

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          Well, perhaps “bitter” is an incorrect description, Kavitha. Perhaps “sharp” or “slightly sour” might be a better description. This is why it’s good in crumbles and so forth, as it cuts through the sweetness of the pastry and whatever you have with it, custard or ice cream or cream.

  6. I always enjoy your photographs, Margaret, so please don’t worry about them being posed. From reading the other comments I think you can safely say we all agree 🙂

    Mmmm nectarines. Yes, they are one of my favourite fruits. Being winter here in Australia, we can’t buy any locally grown stone fruits at the moment but I recently saw some nectarines in a supermarket which were marked as ‘Product of USA’. We are quite spoilt in that most of our fruits and veggies are grown here in Australia so it’s not unusual for shoppers to avoid fruits which are shipped in from elsewhere, preferring to buy Australian grown. As I said, we’re very lucky. I’ve been enjoying mandarins which are plentiful at the moment.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Ooh, it’s reassuring to know that readers don’t mind books with flowers, or books with anything else come to that, Lara! As I tend to buy rather a lot of both (books and flowers) they are bound to pitch up together, ha ha!
      Yes, in such a large, warm country (well, perhaps not warm right now, but much of the time) you no doubt have a lot of home-grown produce. We do have home-grown, but on a small island with 66 million people here, we do also import a lot of fruit, especially peaches and nectarines, which we don’t grow here. We’re more a cabbages and sprouts country, ha ha! Oh, that’s doing the farmers a grave disservice, we have lovely produce and right now home-grown tomatoes and strawberries and raspberries. H

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *