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Interim Report (and Architect’s prints)

Part I of Interim Report:

Several readers have said they like my ordinary daily life posts as much as the more detailed posts, so this morning (between clearing up breakfast and making lunch) here is such an ‘ordinary’ post.

I will start with the photo above – my ‘peripatetic’ roses are now in the sitting room, their last hurrah, I think. They started life in the kitchen, then spent several days outside on the garden table when we were eating outside, and now they’re in the sitting room. I think the secret to keeping flowers fresh for as long as possible is simply to change their water on a daily basis.

We enjoyed a light shower or rain this morning.  I grabbed my camera in order to record this phenomena, but by the time I’d picked up my camera, the rain had ceased.

Breakfast was a simple affair, just fruit (melon, nectarine sliced up, and some stem ginger pieces) and, for me, a brioche with apricot jam (husband had porridge after his fruit).

I love a warm brioche with some jam and right now apricot is my favourite. Come autumn and I think I will be back to eating blackcurrant jam (the best one, in my opinion, is from Lidl.)

I cut into one of the two tomatoes that I harvested (if ‘harvested’ isn’t too grand a word to use!) and it was truly awful!  It looked lovely – this is the pair of them …

… looking quite splendid on a little saucer in the kitchen, but my goodness, the inside of the one I opened was revolting; the seeds were green and had turned to a nasty mush, as if they had rotted.  Oh dear, these must be the most expensive inedible tomatoes on the planet, considering the vast quantity of water we have given the plants and the cost of water here in the South West (the most expensive water in the whole of the UK.)  I will put it down to experience.  We’re not good gardeners but at least it was fun trying!

Today, I am going to make watercress soup for our lunch, and serve that with a baguette and some cheese. I bought some delicious French Comte cheese while in Waitrose on Wednesday, that will go down a treat with watercress soup.  Right now, in the fridge, there are at least five cheeses (if we don’t count cottage cheese in the freezer, and Laughing Cow cheese spread):  Cornish Quartz Cheddar, Swiss Le Gruyere Reserve, Cropwell Bishop Blue Stilton, French Comte, and Parmigiano. I wonder if anyone else collects cheese as cats collect fleas?  A supper will often consist of baguette, cheese and chutney, followed by fruit or yoghurt.  Also, this week in Waitrose, I bought delicious lemon ice cream or, to give the name on the carton, Limoncello Italian Gelato – lemon ice cream rippled with Limoncello sauce.

I only make watercress soup when I can buy a bag of watercress that is in a bunch, not one of those salad-type packs where it’s all been chopped up and is already going to mush even when you open a new packet.  Fresh, whole stems of watercress make the best soup.  Indeed, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you only get out of food what you put in.  Fridge-bottom soup (i.e. using up old ingredients) is fine when really pushed on the economy front, but for really good food you do need to use the finest and freshest ingredients you can afford.  Do not compromise on food, cut corners on other things if needs be.

I’ve used the above photo, and the one below, before, but this is what the soup looks like when ready to serve …

But, as I say, today it will be with baguette and various cheeses.

* * * * * *

Part II of this interim report:

My late mother collected all kinds of things, in particular ceramics, paintings and books.  She wasn’t a hoarder, she didn’t collect rubbish, but she certainly had vast amounts of ‘things’.  Among her collections was a portfolio or architect’s prints from the 1920s.  She bought this in a 2nd hand/antiquarian bookshop (no longer there) where I would sometimes help out when the owners went on holiday.  This was an incomplete portfolio, there were several sections missing, but the section containing the illustrations was, to my knowledge, complete.  It is by an architect called R Goulburn Lovell, and as well as this portfolio I have a little booklet called Courage in Colour by him also his book Historical Notes on Architecture (in the front of this book it states that he was “Honorary General Secretary of the South Eastern Society of Architects, Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects and Associate of the Town Planning Institute.”  In other words, he was highly regarded.)

I love these prints and reader Marlene has said she would like to see more of them, so here is a selection, and in no particular order:

I love these prints, they are as bright and fresh as the day they were produced almost 100 years ago.  Also, they clearly demonstrate how interiors actually were in the 1920s; not everything was Art Deco!  A lot of these ‘looks’ hark back to the Edwardian era, which is much lighter and fresher than the late Victorian period in interiors  – not the absence of heavily upholstered chairs and sofas.

* * * * *

Part III of Interim Report:

I almost forgot to mention the book I’m currently reading (and enjoying):


This is the second in a series of crime novels by Alison Bruce that are set in Cambridge. The first, Cambridge Blue, introduced the young Detective Constable Gary Goodhew, an intelligent young officer who is just quirky enough to be interesting and not so quirky as to rule him out as a suitable candidate for correct police procedure.  These are certainly an excellent start to the series.

I will now close and make that watercress soup.

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. Hello Margaret,
    Thankyou so very much for taking the time to share the illustrations, they are really beautiful, my favourite is the second one.

    I have never made watercress soup, I am sure you have posted the recipe here before I shall have to have a look at make note of it. We are the same with cheeses, we often have a cheese and bread, or cheese and crackers evening, so always have a good selection to hand and anything leftover gets used in various recipes, my favourite cheese is Roquefort. Infact I might buy some today to have at the weekend with some lovely crusty baguette.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I love the prints, Marlene, and so glad I found them after I thought I’d lost them. I will do a short post on watercress soup next time; even though I’ve done this before on my blog, it won’t hurt to do it again for new readers. It’s inexpensive, quick to make, and nourishing. I also like Roquefort cheese, also St Agur.

  2. The prints remind me of a UK version of Carl Larsen “our house” paintings. Nice to see them Margaret. Also you have had rain, we haven’t, getting desperate now, the water bills are rising trying to keep our plants alive!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, the prints are slightly like Carl Larsson paintings, Heather. I have a lovely book on the work of Carl Larsson. We have had another very light shower or rain, but only sufficient to dampen the path around the house, hardly what we might call “rain”.

  3. Ha Margaret, I did laugh out loud when I read the list of cheeses currently residing in your fridge as we are definitely collectors of cheese! We also have Cornish Quartz Cheddar (special offer I believe) together with St Agur, Greek feta, Gran Padano and a basic cheese spread.
    The prints were lovely and came out really well in the reproduction, I think the last one is my favourite, very cottage cosy.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Elaine, and glad I gave you a good laugh! Until a few days ago we had Greek Feta as well, but I’d not used it all up and it had gone mouldy (easy to happen with such a runny, damp cheese!)
      I think all the readers of this blog will have a favourite in those prints, Elaine! They are so detailed, I love them!

  4. Yes, they are so detailed, and yes, I love them too!! I enjoy your daily posts, also, Margaret. I was making soup every day last year from some of your recipes, and enjoying them, too.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, that is great, Ratnamurti, that thousands of miles away New Zealand you are cooking my recipes! Talk about fame world wide! Oh, I jest of course, but I do find this blog so much fun, hence my proliferation of posts recently. I love hearing the thoughts and experiences that they often trigger in others, and learning about their lives in the various countries in which the world. It’s better than any school Geography lesson!

  5. Those prints are lovely. Thanks for sharing them. I do enjoy your ordinary day posts – well, all your posts, actually. When you, again, mentioned the Alison Bruce books, I said to myself, “that’s it!” – I went straight to my library’s site and put a hold on her first book. Thanks for mentioning them again. I’m sure I will also enjoy them.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I do hope you will enjoy the book as much as I did, Jeannine; I thought it very good for a first novel, and an intricate crime novel at that. I am reading the 2nd book and have the 3rd and 4th on order. I have also ordered the book that Elizabeth kindly mentioned: Suburban Style, and I’m very much looking forward to that.
      It’s now almost 11pm here in the UK on Friday night – unfortunately we can’t see the lunar eclipse of the moon this evening, when the earth moves between the sun and the moon, so that the moon has a reddish look, as there is cloud! Clear, hot nights for weeks end and then when there is something interesting to see, we can’t see it!!! Bah!!!

  6. I completely agree with your comments about buying fresh (and sometimes) expensive food to obtain the best results in cooking. I think it is very true.

    I appreciate your comments regarding the illustrations being Edwardian in nature. I sometimes think the Edwardian era is lost between Victorian and Art Deco. These rooms are very liveable and not overpowering. The portfolio was a great find for your mother. I attend two rare paper shows a year and have found treasures which were other people’s collections. Most recently I found a folder of book inserts. These are the small pamphlets that publishers put inside books highlighting another book. They are very charming and have led me to new books.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Donna, and it’s lovely that someone agrees with me regarding food, what you put in you get out. Quality food doesn’t always make a good cook, but at least you have a better chance of producing something really good from quality food. I’ve tried using up old stuff before and rarely has this really worked.
      I think I will write next about Edwardian gardens because, as you say, this period is sometimes ‘lost’ between the Victorian and Art Deco periods. How lovely to attend two paper shows – I think we would call those Ephemera shows, but I’ve not known of any over here but I expect there are some for collectors of such things. As well as the portfolio, I have a lovely autograph book which belonged to my late mother-in-law in which there are some pen and ink drawings of the naval ships of the day which were done by a previous boyfriend (i.e. previous to her husband.)

  7. Those prints are lovely and I found myself thinking I could happily reside in many of those rooms !

    Enjoy your watercress soup. Alas I’m not fussed on cheeses – I use grated tasty cheese or Parmesan when cooking but never (or rarely) eat cheese as it is. I don’t buy any of the fancy cheeses either. I really like marinated feta in a salad – and buying it in the container in olive oil means it lasts longer in the fridge. I made a delicious soup last week with sweet potato, potato, carrot, onion, garlic, cumin, chicken stock and then added cooked red split lentils after I’d zhoozhed it with the hand blender. It was delicious and the lentils kept me full for some time. A good winter soup – not that we’re really experiencing winter with another sunny day and 22 deg C xx

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, the rooms depicted on the prints are lovely, and the colours schemes are interesting, too. No neutral colours there and certainly no minimalism! Your soup sounded wonderful even though sweet potato is something I’ve not acquired a taste for, but I’m sure with potato, carrot and all those other ingredients, it would’ve tasted lovely. I will jot those ingredients down and have a go myself once the weather is cooler. Indeed, last night, it became slightly cooler and as well as just a sheet over me, I put on a light blanket (we have dispensed with our duvets for this hot weather!) 22C would be an ideal temperature for me!

  8. I love your ‘everyday’ posts, even when I don’t agree with what you said. 🙂
    It’s really odd about the tomatoes, almost as if the seeds inside had started germinating. Try another but pick it sooner, as soon as it is completely rad, and see if it’s the same. If it is, it looks as if you have a diff type, sadly. Don’t give up though; try sungolds which are now much easier to find in garden centres and on the internet. They are small, orange and very, very delicious. Or gardeners’ delight, also sweet and delicious, but fully red. Don’t get moneymakers though, they tend to be watery and dull in flavour, I have found.
    The prints are fascinating; thank you for posting them.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I’m always interested in another viewpoint, Joy, so please always say if you disagree with something I’ve said. I think people are so frightened of causing offence these days that amiable discussion sometimes doesn’t even get entered into (not good grammar but you know what I mean, I’m sure!)
      But we don’t devote enough time to plants, and if we did, perhaps we’d have better results. In future I think we will stick to growing runner beans in pots, with which we’ve had moderate success in the past!
      Glad you like the prints. I’m going to be posting about Edwardian gardens soon, and I hope you will enjoy that.

  9. The prints are just lovely as pieces of artwork but I couldn’t live in a room like that. I get a headache just thinking about it! It’s a good job we’re not all the same 🙂

    My Dad used to give me tomato plants no matter how many times I told him I didn’t want them and I always found them disappointing, usually ending up with a drawerful of green tomatoes which I eventually threw away. I’m not a fan of chutney.

    I do sound negative, don’t I? I don’t mean to.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, Alison, some of those rooms do look over-crowded by 21st century standards, but as works of art I think they are very attractive prints. No, you are not negative – you know what you like!

  10. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    I love those prints, so beautifully drawn. you can stare for ages picking out the detail, can’t you? I can almost imagine people in the rooms.
    We almost always have several kinds of cheese in too. Usually some feta, a piece Gruyere, Halloumi or Parmesan with a recipe in mind, a good strong cheddar to eat with crackers and always individual Babybel Lights. Cottage cheese and/or quark too for bakes or quiche. We both enjoy Stilton too. What a shame about the tomatoes.. None of ours are ready yet, but it won’t be long.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      So glad you like those prints, Eloise. I love them. I was with Mum when she bought them and I wished I’d spotted them first! But she simply kept them and now I have them. Another lover of cheese (I’ve never had Halloumi). And as far as the tomatoes are concerned, the strong wind has pushed over the pot in which they were growing and one of the plants has snapped, taking the tomatoes (the smallest, fortunately) with it. I think someone is telling me “Go to Waitrose … Go to Waitrose …!” as the first ones were terrible and now a plant has snapped!

  11. The prints are so beautiful. The colour, the detailing, superb. To think that someone has actually drawn them! It must have taken ages to finish each one!
    We missed the eclipse too because of cloudy weather. It was in the middle of the night, though, not very convenient as it is!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, those prints are a delight, aren’t they, Kavitha? Small wonder my mother fell in love with them (as indeed I did) and bought them. Yes, they were drawn and painted and look as fresh today as when they were first printed.
      We have had rain overnight again, quite heavy downpours since Friday, but the garden needs it. Already we can see the first green shoots of recovery.

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