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At Home Today

When I say “At Home Day” I don’t mean this in a social context; we weren’t ‘at home’, i.e.  ready to receive visitors, but at home as opposed to going out.

We woke to a chillier temperature and drizzly rain – indeed, I put the central heating on for an hour just to warm the house up a bit – but we didn’t mind in the least because we hadn’t planned on going anywhere. Indeed, I wanted to so some much-needed cleaning as I have done next-to-no cleaning during the prolonged hot weather.

And so, after breakfast (a very light breakfast this morning, porridge for husband, croissant with apricot jam for me) I changed the bed linen.  I love to see a bed nicely made, and today I happened to see, in my new magazine, a photo of the pink-edged pillow cases that we have. Does this mean for the very first time we’re in the vanguard of décor style?  I think not!


The right hand pillow has flopped a bit, but I really didn’t think I needed to re-take this photo.  After I’d made the bed I cleaned the bedroom (although the wardrobe still needs clearing out and given a through cleaning and tidying) and then I cleaned the kitchen. Not the insides of the cupboards, that would’ve been a job too far at the moment, but the work surfaces and the floor, and those jobs that sometimes get left – cleaning out the toaster (I try and do this once a week but that doesn’t always happen) and I bleached the filter and plunger for the cafetierre which becomes stained with coffee over a period of time.  All these little things aren’t difficult, but they take time.

We had a snack lunch, but that doesn’t mean convenience or junk food.  I can make soup from scratch in 20 minutes, and today it was leek & potato soup.  It’s so easy to make with just one large onion, two leeks, and three medium-sized potatoes, all chopped and sautéed, and then boiling water added to cover. Then four vegetable Oxo cubes crumbled into the mixture and the mixture allowed to simmer for 15 minutes.  Then a drop of milk is added and the whole lot blitzed with a hand-held blender, but not until totally smooth – we like some pieces in the soup.  And before serving, a little dollop of crème fraiche and some chopped parsley.  We had it on trays in the sitting room as we were watching cricket on TV.


After this we each had a small coffee ice cream (i.e. the ice cream in a cone).

I took a couple of photos of the lisianthus in the sitting room, which we bought yesterday.  Our elder son kindly took us to Waitrose as our car developed a rather awful squeal, and so we took it to our local garage. They diagnosed brake pads and we’ve now had them replaced.  But as the car was out of action for a day, elder son asked if we’d like to do our shopping and so we took the advantage of his offer.

They blooms are so fresh, with luck and regular changes of water, I hope they will last longer than a week.  The blooms are really pretty, the petals are very much like tissue paper.


Mid-morning my new magazine arrived, along with a book.  I love The English Home magazine,  it is my favourite – not that we live in splendour like some of the residents of the homes included each month, but it’s just lovely to see such beautiful homes and from them we can all pick up decorating ideas and how to place furniture, paintings, books and ornaments.

There are some yellow dahlias in the garden and as it was raining, I cut some and brought them in rather than allowing them to become soaked and wilted.  I popped them in a little yellow glass vase which normally ‘lives’ in the shower room.  It’s very pretty, as it has been hand-painted with a floral design, but it is glass and not pottery.

This afternoon I continued to dust and vacuum, and then, after 16 years without any pictures on the fireplace wall, we decided to have a look at the paintings we have stored in the loft and perhaps put some up again.  We do have some paintings in the dining end of the room, and three portraits of Italian fishermen over one of the sofas on the opposite wall to the fireplace …

but none on the fireplace wall.

And so we have hung two watercolours – on the left is St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol and on the right, the Wills Tower, Bristol – to the left of the fireplace.  This took a lot of measuring and checking, as I wanted the tops of the pictures to line up with the top of the mirror and the centre space between the pictures to be in line with the centre of the lamp table.  Yes, I’m fussy!  Out came the spirit level for all this!

My late mother had these watercolours mounted and re-framed in the late 1980s and now we think that the dark blue-green mounts are a little harsh for our sitting room (although we like the actual frames) but perhaps they just need a bit of getting used to after having had unadorned walls for so long?  We now have to choose a painting (or pair of paintings) for the other side of the fireplace.  We have several more in the loft from which to choose.  Right now there are three lined up, and we’re trying to decide which we like the best … it’s like the hanging committee at the Royal Academy!

And now I’m going to make us a cup of tea – husband is watching the European Games on TV – and then I shall sit and read my new magazine. Tomorrow, the cleaning continues!  But for now, it’s time to rest and relax before bedtime. And I think I’ve earned a small piece of chocolate today!

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. I like how the paintings look. Your sitting room is lovely.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Jan. I like symmetry; I won’t be able to match the paintings exactly (by size and style, I mean) on the other side of the mirror, but as long as there is a degree of balance, the whole scheme won’t look too wonky! Or I hope it won’t. We’ve not decorated this room since 2002 but it still looks reasonably fresh, once it’s been dusted and vacuumed.

  2. Margaret Powling

    I haven’t seen either building, Linda, ad I have never been in Bristol (apart from a week-long course in the 1960s when I was a civil servant for a short period and that was in a nasty looking government building in Flowers Hill)but it’s always sad to see once-lovely places going downhill, isn’t it? These are just two watercolours my mother bought in the 1960s, and I really like them.

  3. I love symmetry too. You should see me at Christmas when I’m decorating the tree – I can’t sit down for 2 minutes without bobbing up to tweak an ornament! Drives my husband mad but I can’t bear it if it’s all uneven, it would really spoil it for me, and I’m the same with everything. Doesn’t mean my house is perfectly clean and tidy but wherever possible things are straight and lined up! We have a picture on one wall of the living room, the one which adjoins the next house, and that sometimes goes skewhiff. We think maybe it’s the movement of them up their stairs although we rarely hear them on the stairs, but it’s just enough over time to make the picture slightly out of line. Of course I have to bob up again and put it right 😉

    My husband says I’m OCD but I know that’s an actual illness whereas I’m just a bit fussy about certain things.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I think we all have a touch of OCD in us, Alison. I hate things skew wiff, too. I even like the jars lined up with the labels to the front in the food cupboard or in the fridge. To stop the picture from moving, I once read that it should be held up by two picture hooks, not one, spaced a little way a part. This will prevent the picture cord from moving when there is a slight movement from the floorboards, which is then transferred to the wall and sends the picture adrift slightly. I’ve never tried this, but it’s worth a try if the picture keeps on moving.

  4. Hope you enjoy looking at your Bristol pictures Margaret, I’m in Bristol quite a lot visiting family. I like going there, especially the harbourside developments and taking a ride on a ferry, a good way to see the sights. I haven’t been inside the Wills Tower but I’ve done the steep walk from the harbour front up to the Cabot Tower, wonderful views once you get your breath back!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I think we will have to have a city bread in or near Bristol, Heather. It’s a place I simply do not know. We have travelled through it and I’ve been both over and under the Clifton Suspension Bridge, but we’ve never actually stopped there to spend time in this historic city. I don’t even know of the Cabot Tower, my ignorance knows no bounds! And it’s not that far away from Torbay, we could be there in a couple of hours!

  5. I think you’d enjoy the shops and cafes in Clifton Margaret and there is a very good open top tour bus that takes you to round all the sights, hopping on and off at points of interest all around the city and harbour. The SS Gt Britain has been a great restoration success and the M Shed museum, plenty to see….I’m your virtual tourist guide aren’t I…?!
    I should add I liked your soup recipe, it’s been cold and wet today, it sounded just right.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I’m sure I’d enjoy Clifton, Heather and I love a ride on an open-top bus to see the sights. And it would be great to see Brunel’s SS Great Britain, too.
      The soup is very tasty and very easy. It’s best with very fresh leeks, no good using those that have lingered in the fridge for a week or more, because then the leek flavour isn’t quite as strong and this is already a very mild-flavoured soup. But I love it, and with granary bread of even the now-so-popular sour-dough bread, it’s lovely.

  6. Oops, grammar errors galore, apologies!

  7. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    There’s a lot to be said for a day at home – pottering, titivating and preparing food. Even when there are jobs to do it can still be quite relaxing. Shame about the weather as Eldest son and family have travelled to Torquay this morning to spend a few days there.
    I’ve done a bit of baking today and was about to make pea soup when I remembered I’d used the last of the potatoes last night. I couldn’t be bothered to shop today so will make the soup tomorrow.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I enjoy a day at home as we had yesterday (and again today) Eloise. I hope your eldest son will enjoy Torquay even though the weather hasn’t been good these past two days. I have also done baking today, but I’m saving that for my next post. I wonder whether you could’ve used a courgette in the pea soup – that would’ve perhaps been the necessary ‘thickening’ agent (which is really what the potato is.) I’ve not tried courgette instead of potato, but it might be worth a try sometime. I love to experiment with soups.
      Regarding the pottering and titivating, we still have another picture to hang on the right hand side of the fireplace – we think we know which watercolour we will choose, it’s one that husband was given (his choice) after 30 years’ employment with his company. He was similarly given a present after 20 years, and for that he chose two Waterford crystal decanters (they can sometimes be glimpsed on some of my photos.)

      • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

        I had a courgette so could have tried that. Never mind, I’ve done a top-up shop today and bought potatoes. I like experimenting with all kinds of cookery. I tried rose and lavender shortbread yesterday but the recipe needs some adjustment before I write about it!

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          I was once asked to do an old recipe as a trial for a history magazine, biscuits which had cloves and rosewater in them, and they were awful. Looked nice but far too much clove (I followed the recipe exactly), not what we liked at all. But I have had sponge cake with lavender in it and it was lovely (at the Cotswold Lavender Farm, but about 12 years ago!)

  8. The flowers look beautiful. I really like the prints and their frames which you have put up. Alongside the Grandfather clock, they just look as though they are in the right place, from another era, gracing the times of today. Plus, you have inadvertently inspired me to make some soup – a ‘what’s lurking in the fridge ‘soup.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Ratnamurti, I do think the pictures look good with the grandfather clock (which belonged to my husband’s parents). We think we will have the mounts changed. In the evening light they look fine, but by daylight, they seem a little too ‘heavy’ for the actual pictures that mounts are supposed to enhance.
      Hope you enjoyed your ‘what’s lurking in the fridge’ soup!

  9. I’d say you earned more than one small piece of chocolate! You have been very busy and you’ve gotten a lot done – well done you! As for putting the heat on – I can’t even imagine such in mid-August! We have our air conditioning on as, while it isn’t too bad outside, it just gets too warm and uncomfortable in the house. I just came in from working outside – pulling weeds, raking soil, picking up rocks, trimming roses. It is good to come inside for a quick bath and have it a comfortable temperature.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, Jeannine, we sometimes have cold mornings even in August! But then the day warms up, or we become accustomed to the lower temperature, I’m not sure which! In the UK our weather usually changes all the time, we are the world’s crossroads for ‘weather’ so we can have one hot day and then one cold one, one fine one, then one rainy one. Yesterday was really dull, or “as dull as ditch water” we used to say, and today we have blue skies and sunshine once more. So popping on the heat for an hour early morning wasn’t unusual for us. Or maybe we’re just a couple of wusses!
      Our garden is a mess. It’s been ravaged by the heat. We must make an effort to tidy it up a bit before autumn descends on us and it’s too cold to work outside.

  10. Hanging pictures is one task I struggle with. No matter how many times I have measured, marked and measured again, the picture always seems to end a bit higher or lower than originally intended. Hanging two pictures side-by-side would be enough to drive me to tears – or to drink, for that matter 😉 You did very well to accomplish such a fiddly task.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Husband does the picture hanging, Lara. Do you hang the picture from the hook before you put the picture hook in the wall, so that you can measure the ‘drop’ as well, i.e. from the top of the frame to where it hangs? When husband hangs a picture (having done the measuring) he puts the nail for the picture hook into the wall very gently in case it has to come out again, but it’s usually just a fraction ‘out’ first time, if at all. After that, if it’s not right, he can adjust it up or down a little, and the picture also covers the ‘additional’ small hole in the wall. But he does measure very carefully – it is slightly annoying that the two large pictures are very slightly different sizes, but we’re certainly not going to have them totally re-framed because of this, it would be a very costly exercise. No, just new mounts which we hope will improve their appearance.

  11. Yes I measure to allow for ‘the drop’ but somehow it still doesn’t work for me. I love pictures in magazines where someone has hung multiple pictures in different sized frames on a wall. Done well, this can be a great look. Mine would look more like a jigsaw puzzle I’m sure ha ha.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I like multiple pictures on a wall, too, Lara, these can look very effective whether they are all, say, black and white photographs, or a mixture of paintings, watercolours, prints and photographs.

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