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Sunday Reprise

Our daughter-in-law’s mother is down here on holiday from her home in Cambridgeshire this week, and she very kindly brought me this lovely bouquet of flowers. The scent is wonderful as it contains two sprays of stocks as well as these tiny daisy-like chrysanthemums and larger white spray chrysanthemums.  I don’t feel I’ve made a very good fist of arranging them today, I might have another go tomorrow, but I simply wanted to get them into water after their long journey today.

Strange as it may seem, the one item I’m actually short of – in a house overflowing with ceramics – is a large vase.  There is only one very large one which lives on the windowsill, but it is too large for anything other than the branch of a tree, and also the tall Delftware vase in which I put the long spires of gladioli.  Therefore, I’ve removed the alstromeria from the glass vase so that this mixed bouquet could be accommodated, and I cut the alstromeria to fit into my blue and white jug, and these are now on the kitchen table.

I never mind cutting flowers down, they often look much better having done so.

It has been another very hot day and neither myself nor my husband have felt inclined to do very much and so to put it simply, we haven’t!  We had a light breakfast – he made porridge for himself, I warmed a croissant to have with apricot jam, and for lunch a light salad with a few new potatoes.  Husband has, however, been doing ironing; he has done a huge pile and shortly I will take over and do my share.

But while he was doing the ironing, he also played some music.  We both love music but strangely we seldom play music these days.  You will laugh when you see our music system, bought in 1989 or thereabouts. It still has a turntable for records, and a cassette player as well as a CD player – CDs were a novel item then, they’d only just been invented!  Now they have almost bitten the dust as people simply ‘download’ music to whatever device they might be using.

It needs a good dusting, I see, but I’m glad we didn’t get rid of it, or our quite-large collection of LPs which date back to the 1960s – many of our LPs are now well over 50 years old.

We bought our first music system in 1970, a Dynatron, which was the cat’s pyjamas of systems in those days, and cost the princely sum of (approx.) £150 which was a lot of money in 1970.   We still have it in our loft, but not the speakers.  And when the world of music went to CD and vinyl thus became old hat, we simply kept our vinyl but added CDs to our collection.

Today, vinyl is back in fashion. For us it never went out of fashion. I even have boxed sets of operas on vinyl.

And so today, for an accompaniment to his ironing, husband played Elgar, Frank Pourcel and John Williams (the classical guitarist not the composer.)

There is one downside to playing music.  It can make you rather sad.  Playing these takes us right back to the early 1970s when we had our first baby son (born 1969), and even before our second son was born.  The ‘chaps’ are now almost-49 and 45 respectively.  We can’t help but feel nostalgic for those early years and the simplicity of life them – why does it seem to have become more complicated when the achievements in the electronics industry, indeed most industries, should have made life more simple?  But let’s go into all that; we enjoyed playing just four of our LPs (above).

We have very wide tastes in music, from Bach and Beethoven to Abba and Elvis.  Had I been ironing and choosing the music, I don’t think I’d have chosen these, but having said that (sorry, cliché!) I enjoyed hearing them, especially Frank Pourcel as this is an LP we seldom played, it’s in that much-sniggered-at ‘easy listening’ genre, what some might call ‘wallpaper music’ but oh, it’s been so relaxing to listen to.

What have I been doing while husband has been ironing?  Well, I confess, not very much. I have finished book 3 of the crime series set in Cambridge by Alison Bruce (the best to date) and have started book 4, The Silence.

and I even took down off the shelf a couple of books on Cambridge that I bought while I was there in 1993, and this illustrated map, to see just where Parker’s Piece is, the area where the police station in the book is situated.  I also had a look at the lovely postcards of Cambridge that I bought while I was there and made a collage of them:

I have only visited Oxford twice and Cambridge twice, and it isn’t really fair to compare the two university cities by such brief visits, but my gut feeling was that I preferred Cambridge, and I don’t really know why, only I felt at home there.  It was a strange feeling, but although I wandered around on my own while husband visited a factory (all part of his work in those days), I felt totally at home.

And on that note I will close this short post today; I must finish the ironing, make something for a light supper and then do my nails – can’t go to the hairdresser tomorrow morning with chipped polish, can I! (That’s a statement, not a question!)

And then, back to The Silence. Oh, how I am enjoying this series by Alison Bruce.

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. My ex brother – in – law studied at Cambridge and has a 1st class degree, MSc, Phd and a professorship from there. I used to love visiting Cambridge. It seems older and more peaceful than Oxford somehow. I love the Backs although I’ve never been brave enough to go punting! Somehow my track record involving accidents makes me wary. I feel sure my quant would get stuck in the river bed and I’d go drifting off into the sunset. However. at boat race time, I’m a fervent Oxford supporter.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      What a clever ex brother-in-law you had, Fiona. I would have loved to have punted on the Backs! But how strange that you support Oxford come Boat Race time! I’m still for the light blues! Eons ago, when I was in primary school, the Boat Race was much more prominently in the News in those days, and people would go around saying “Dark Blue or Light Blue?” Now it is hardly mentioned.

  2. Stereo system! My first husband told me if we ever split up, he was keeping it. He’d saved up and bought it from his first few paycheques in the Army.

    I did not take it when I walked.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      My goodness, Linda, my post has brought memories for you, and I hope they were not too awful. But I still like our old stereo system, downloading music just doesn’t seem the same to me. I don’t want to listen to Mozart, Mahler, and Verdi through ear plugs! It would be like eating caviar with a plastic spoon (actually caviar should be eaten off the back of the hand, but that would be splitting hairs!)

      • No worries. We are friends now. A case of one of us being grown up and the other one, well, some men aren’t meant to be married. Remember when there was always an Uncle that never married? Not homosexual, just not the marrying type. I married him, lol.

  3. Last year I threw out about 20 music cassettes with a heavy heart – they had gone mouldy at some point up here in the sub-tropics ! Some of them were almost 30 years old and were recorded from vinyl or from the radio. Back when I was a poor university student and couldn’t afford to buy such things – and was ignorant of copyright laws. My first car had a cassette system and those tapes got a great workout over the years. Happy memories 🙂 I think that music (like certain scents) can invoke very strong memories for many of us. Here in Australia there has been research on the effects of music on people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Residents of aged care facilities listen to music from their youth and some who are generally unsettled, uncommunicative or unresponsive have shown positive reactions such as smiling, singing along, dancing, etc when they hear the music. I was named after ‘Lara’s Theme’ in the movie Dr Zhivago and my mum goes glossy-eyed if she hears that tune. Your daughter-in-law’s mother is lovely to bring you flowers each time she visits. The lilies I bought last week have all opened – there are two white and one orange – and are unscented (much to my relief as I find scented lilies quite overpowering). The gladioli are yet to show themselves.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Our car, Lara, which is almost 20 years old (we don’t change it because we like it. It was a top-of-the-range model with a V6 engine and it makes light work of Devon’s hills) has a cassette player and a CD player (that was a novelty 20 years ago!) I still have a lot of cassettes, like you, which I’d recorded from the radio in those days, mainly talks rather than music.
      Yes, I’ve heard of music being played to dementia patients to evoke memories for them. A very good idea. I had wondered whether you were name after Lara in Dr Zhivago – husband and I went to see that film when it was first released, it was lovely.
      Sadly, the gladioli have gone from bud to being almost dead, they haven’t enjoyed the heat one bit even though I’ve changed their water on a daily basis.

  4. Well, we still have our old Sony stack system to Margaret, bought about the same time you got yours.
    And you just can’t beat the lovely mellow sound.
    Once I suggested we part with it, luckily hubby said ‘no’. So glad we didn’t.

    Believe it or not I bought an LP this week for £1 from a charity shop, Swan Lake one side and
    Romeo and Juliet on the other.

    Hubby has just repaired an old red and white Dansette portable record played he found in his mothers attic, he was about to take it to the tip when I said it was a shame. I heard no more about it and didn’t know he’d taken it down to ‘The man shed’ where he took it apart and now it works a treat. So we went to try find a single to try it out and came back with Nelly The Elephant. Good fun singing along to that. The quality is far better than cds.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, how lovely to still have your Sony stacked system, Linda! And now to have found an LP for £1 in a charity shop, too, with Swan Lake & Romeo & Juliet. My goodness, a Dansette record player takes me back! They were all the rage in the 1950s! I wish I had my singles and EPs. I had 78 rpm singles, even Elvis was first recorded on old 78 rpms! I had his record of All Shook Up, c1957, on a 78 rpm! Oh, how funny, getting Nelly the Elephant!

  5. When I was a teenager, our next door neighbour was a huge Elvis fan as I was.
    She was a young married mum then.
    She gave me all her Elvis fan club magazines. Small booklets.
    I still have them in the bottom of the wardrobe.

    They must be over 50 years old now, maybe late 1950’s – must look sometime.

    In fact I remember being in Junior school and you were either an Elvis fan or a Cliff Richard fan, and we took it very seriously.

    This morning the postie delivered an LP. from ebay – Paint Your Wagon – date 1969
    Its remarkable what good condition its in. Will remind me of being at Art college and everyone raving about the film.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, Elvis or Cliff. I was definitely an Elvis fan, but I also liked The Shadows, Cliff’s backing group, and I have their first LP (so long ago it’s not even a stereo recording, but mono!)
      I don’t know the music to Paint Your Wagon except “Wanderin’ Star”. But I hope you enjoy it. I have the LPs of Carousel and Oklahoma and My Fair Lady all from the 1950s. One of my favourite musicals was Gigi, such a romantic film and I then thought Louis Jourdan was the cat’s whiskers! (“Fit” is what he’d be called today!)

  6. I handed over our old LPs to our son, who complained they were all scratched to which I replied, yes, because we loved them and played them a lot! I think we had an Amstrad in the era of stereo but we still had some monos amongst the motley collection. One sad thing I did, I threw out my old singles which included, an old one belonging to my Dad and my only Elvis record, Dad’s was Glorious Devon sung by Peter Dawson, do you remember hearing that Margaret!? I have forgotten how much singles cost but I remember going to our local record shop and listening to the latest choice in a booth before parting with my hard earned savings.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, when we bought our Dynatron stereo in the winter of 1970, I threw away all my singles and EP, such as the Everly brothers Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, The Shadows, etc. How foolish! And yes, I remember “Glorious Devon” sung by Peter Dawson (not that I liked it, but I remember it! Yes, standing in a booth listening to a record before deciding to buy it was one of the fun things of our youth, wasn’t it! Especially if you were parting with serious money for an LP. I still have the prices on some of the LPs and they were a serious chunk of money compared with what people were earning. But most of our music is classical, Bach, Beethoven, Sibelius, Mahler, Mozart, Dvorak etc. Listing to some of the records now takes me right back to 1970, especially the first two records we bought when we bought the Dynatron: Classics up to Date Vol 2 by James Last and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (The Choral.) I get quite tearful when I hear the James Last. Husband and I used to put the TV off and play this record of an evening, and it takes me right back to those days, almost half a century ago.

  7. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    I have visited Oxford several times but Cambridge only once. I like both but Cambridge wins hands down. Walking along the backs (the university buildings) and seeing the wonderful Kings College chapel were the highlights.
    We still have a handful of LPs. Sales of LPs are certainly rising and I read a report that the main buyers are the under 25s, which is interesting,I listen to music in the car and I like it hen I’m ironing too. I have a very eclectic collection from rock to modern country to easy listening to classical. It depends on my mood as to what I listen to but there are times when certain classical pieces seem too unbearably sad. I can only listen to them on ‘strong’ days.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, I loved seeing Kings College Chapel, such a stunning building.
      I wonder whether my mention of our LP collection will set readers looking through theirs again and perhaps playing some of them? I don’t much care for country & western or rhythm & blues, but I have a John Denver LP (inherited from my mother) and also a Glenn Campbell LP (ditto). She mainly liked classical so how she came by these I do not know! If you can’t do sad, then don’t listen to Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs! Tears will stream if you do!

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