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Friday Musings

This will be a short post today for no other reason than both husband and I are both beginning to feel what we think are the effects of continued hot weather, and so we’re going to take it easy today.   Not that writing my posts is exactly onerous!  I enjoy writing them (and taking photos with my posts in mind).

Shortly, I will decamp to the garden with my book.  I am really enjoying Marcia’s latest, it’s a delightful summertime read.

And yes, that’s my panama hat.  I have only two sunhats.  I find sunhats that suit me are difficult to find and usually buy my hats in a gent’s outfitters where they have a good selection of panama hats.  Men’s hats are so much nicer than women’s hats.  I have a small head and short body, and therefore large hats make me look like I’m wearing a dustbin lid.   Neater ones, such as this one (above) look so much better on me.   When I see women dressed for garden parties and Royal Ascot wearing huge great saucers of hats (sadly, the Duchess of Cornwall is partial to this kind of hat) I think they look rather ridiculous.  I once read, it might’ve even been said by Christian Dior, that doyenne of style, that a hat should never exceed the width of a woman’s shoulders, with which I agree.

This is me, about three summer’s ago, wearing my other hat, which is at least 30 years old.   Husband really likes this hat even though it’s now no longer pale raffia colour but rather a dirty run-burnt colour, but I put a scarf around the crown and tie that in a large bow at the back and it’s surprising the compliments this old hat has received!

Anyway, back to today.  We woke up quite late, around 8.30am after a restless night because of the heat, and consequently we have not long since had our breakfast.  Fresh fruit and a boiled egg & toast for husband and a croissant and apricot jam for me, with mugs of tea.  Yes, mugs.  Not my usual style, I know, but they are china mugs.  I don’t much care for thick pottery mugs, I just don’t like the feel of them on my lips.  Fussy me!

As I mentioned I parted with around 60+ books yesterday, at least 50 of them paperbacks and some hardbacks, too, and then I found the Joan Bakewell autobiography which came home with me, and the two books that were delivered, Cambridge Blue and Homecomings.  Well, folks, this morning two more books have arrived.  Not exactly a tidal surge of new books (new to me, I mean) but a gentle trickle in this direction!


Now I have  to admit to being somewhat spendthrift with The Choir.  This is the first contemporary novel by Joanna Trollope. Some of you might even have read it.  It was published in 1988 and around 22 years ago it was dramatized into a six-part TV serial.  However, I had never bought a copy of this novel in hardback.  Indeed, in all the various times I spent helping out in my friends’ bookshop, I never saw a copy of this book in hardback, and when I looked on www.abebooks.co.uk this week, there was only a single copy available.  And it would be an expensive first edition signed by the author, in Fine condition (which means with a dust jacket) would it not? So it was either grab that one and shell out what was for me serious money, or wait until a cheaper copy appeared.  But would a cheaper copy ever appear?  If this was the only copy on the whole of the Abe Books website, this book is obviously scarce, and so I bit the fiscal bullet and bought it.  For a book that was published 30 years ago it is excellent condition, I’m absolutely delighted.

I think there is a difference between buying from an actual bookseller than from a private person wishing to offload some books on eBay or Amazon.  A bookseller knows the difference between Mint, Fine condition, Good condition, and Fair condition.  I’ve had books from private sellers who think creased spines and yellowed pages are books in Very Good condition when they most definitely are not.  If I’ve paid just a 1p plus postage, I’m not going to fuss, but sometimes it is obvious that the seller has bought the book at a boot sale or in a charity shop and not even examined it, for I’ve had books that have had ripped pages that had been advertised as Very Good condition.

And now my Joanna Trollope collection is complete, and I will soon have the pleasure of re-reading The Choir, which I still think is one of her best novels.

The Nicky Pellegrino is just an inexpensive paperback for reading in the summer afternoons.  I won’t say “beach reading” as we don’t go on the beach, we leave that to the tourists.

And now, back to the garden and my book,

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. Hope you have a restful afternoon in the garden Margaret and both you, and your husband, are back on top form very soon. The current hot weather is very tiring, I am trying to make sure that all chores are finished by lunch so that we can spend the afternoon out of the sun, either in the shade of the apple tree or in our lounge which only gets the sun after 4pm.
    The chores include exercising the animals so have been riding my mare in the cool of early morning and walking the little dog first thing as well, I hate to see dogs out in hot weather being made to walk on scorching pavements, their poor paws!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, it’s awful to see dogs out in hot weather, they really hate the heat don’t they, and of course, the pavements scorching their little paws. How lovely to ride your mare in the early morning, though, that must be lovely. I’ve not done any chores at all today, just trying to keep the place clean and tidy, but must clean the shower room later, I try and keep essentials clean this weather. But off to the garden again now, to the summerhouse, with my book and a cup of tea. We only had a cucumber sandwich for our lunch as we had a very late breakfast. Thank you, husband and I are now feeling much better again. I’ve instructed him to Drink More Water!

  2. Margaret, I am in complete agreement regarding the differences between an eBay-bought book and a bookseller -bought book. I purchased an early copy of Mrs. Miniver from eBay after it was rated in “fine condition”. The book’s pages were so yellow and the book so musty, I could not read it and threw it away. Also, the boards were separated and it came to me with a rubber band around it!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, that book sounds awful, Donna. No wonder you threw it away. How on earth someone can rate a book as Fine Condition when it’s held together with rubber bands beggars belief, doesn’t it? I’ll wonder what condition a simply Good Condition book might be in, ha ha! I trust you have now a copy of Mrs Miniver? And Jan Struther’s Try Anything Twice, and even perhaps the biography of Jan Struther (aka Joyce Anstruther) by her granddaughter, Ysenda Maxtone Graham?

  3. Your descriptions make me laugh – so cute! The heat is unbearable here as well and promises to get worse before it gets better. I’ve been out doing a little weeding – in the shade – and of course watering my pots of flowers and herbs so they don’t expire. So good to have air conditioning. We would be miserable without it.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Jeannine. We, in the UK, are not used to extremes of temperatures, therefore in winter when we have snow and low temperatures, we are ill-equipped as a country to deal with them (many older homes still without even double glazing or central heating, especially in poorer areas, councils not spending on snow-moving equipment for something that might-not-happen when other services take priority etc) and in summer, after a week or two of what they refer to as ‘drought’ (not drought experienced by some countries when it hasn’t rained for many months, perhaps years) we are told not to use our hose pipes for our gardens, and to conserve water. So now we are watering our garden pots with just a few buckets of water a day, after one of the wettest winters on record. We need more reservoirs but then people complain that they are drowning lovely countryside in order to make them. Air conditioning is almost unheard of here, apart from in large shops and offices, and yet temperatures rose above 30C in some areas yesterday. We do have a fan which we put on when it gets very hot, but as I say, this kind of heat is rare and usually lasts a very short period of time. I hope you keep your pots going!

  4. I am selfishly hoping that your warm weather lasts a little longer as I will be in the UK in August. It has been quite cold here in Oz and I am looking forward to thawing out. However I do sympathise with the effects of hot weather and hope your restful day was pleasant.
    I love reading about the books you have. I haven’t read any of Joanna Trollope but will now dive in. My books now reside in the cloud or on my iPad as I don’t have much room for the hard copies. I do frequent our local library as having a proper book to read is still a pleasure.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, how lovely for you, Pieta, to be here in the UK in August! I do hope you will have some good weather.
      Unfortunately, I don’t think Joanna Trollope’s book, her first contemporary novel published 30 years ago (The Choir) is available on Kindle as my cousin tried to buy it and failed, but it is available in paperback. I don’t know about her later novels, I expect they are available. I’m sorry you have cold weather, but perhaps, as you say, you will be able to thaw out in the UK in August! I sincerely hope so!

    • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

      i like your hat very much, Margaret. I need to get a new one as I’ve been caught out by this hot weather. I threw my last one away as it became crushed on the way home from our last holiday.
      I have found World of Books to be reliable as to the condition of books.

      • Margaret Powling
        Margaret Powling

        Thank you, Eloise, I could do with a new hat, too, but I’m too lazy to go shopping this hot weather.
        Thank you, also, for the tip re World of Books.

  5. Can you believe we are having such a prolonged spell of good weather Margaret? Your garden picture says it all and what’s on the table looks very tempting. Hard to do much just now, make the best of it I think? It’s ages since I read any Joanna Trollope, I’m not a total fan but I’m glad you found a good first edition. I am enjoying dipping into “Modern Delight” a book you mentioned in a previous article, an interesting variety of contributors, witty and thoughtful by turns. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Glad you are enjoying Modern Delight, Heather. I have just finished reading Marcia Willett’s latest novel, Homecomings, and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I have to say that it helps to have read Marcia’s books in the order in which they were published as she often – as she has done in this book – brings some characters back from previous novels, even if they are only in what in film and TV would be referred to as “cameo roles”. In this book we have Clem, Tilly, Jakey and even Janna from a previous novel, also one of the main characters, Dossie, is from a previous novel. But this doesn’t mean Marcia’s books can’t be enjoyed even if you have never read one before. This one has quite a large cast of characters, and a couple of them only make fleeting appearances: Prune (short for Prunella) a young female trainee-gardener working in a local NT property garden, and her equally-young paramour, Ben, who works in the local village pub. I felt they were included so that the age range, as I all Marcia’s books, is from the young to the nonagenarians, so every reader, whatever her age can relate to the story. But a lovely read.

  6. What lovely photos – I do like that hat and it suits you very much. Like you, I’m taking it more gently in this heat although it was lovely down the allotment just now, in the shade with a breeze blowing. I’d like to have stayed there longer but dinner was calling (or my tummy was, anyway!)

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I don’t think I’d be able to cope with an allotment, Joy, as I had difficult getting down to the ground, or more precisely, getting up once I’m down!!! It’s scorching here, I’ve drawn the curtains here in the study and the Venetian blind at the window, and in a moment, once I’ve responded to your comment, I will close down the computer for the night, as I don’t think the heat in here will do the machine much good.
      Thank you for your kind comments re my hat – as I say, it’s ancient (between 25 and 30 years old – bought it in a a shop in Dartmouth long, long ago) but it comes out every year, dollied up with a scarf.

  7. Wearing a hat to protect yourself from the sun is an excellent habit. Most Australians over the age of 40 have had skin cancers frozen off or cut out after a lifetime in the sun. School uniforms for infants and primary school children (5yo to 12yo) include broad-brimmed hats and children are required to wear them when in the playground. It is hoped that by protecting the skin of school kids from regular, daily exposure the high incidence of skin cancers we have today won’t be so for future generations.

    I hope that you and your husband are feeling better after your recent heatwave. Drinking water is critical – sipping regularly is ideal but easily forgotten sometimes. Rest up xx

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      That is a good idea, for children to wear hats. When I was little I went to a small private school (this was the 1950s when people were more smartly dressed anyway, no jeans in those days unless you were a manual labourer) and a Panama hat was part of the summer uniform. Our little grandson always wears a hat in the sun and plenty of sunblock, too.
      Yes, sipping water is critical, but getting a chap to drink when he’s not used to consuming water all day long is difficult, he just doesn’t think about it. And old people, unlike children, rarely feel thirsty therefore they easily become dehydrated.

  8. I love your hats, Margaret. I wear a panama hat too, I love it!

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