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My Birthday Weekend


The lilies which are now fully open

The latest posy of flowers from the garden, perhaps the last of such posies for this year

A pot of chrysanthemums in the hearth – I love their striped colours

Not quite the shade of pink I like best in the bedroom, but still pretty roses

I have had three lovely few days. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary, and when you get as old as I now am, birthdays aren’t quite as meaningful  as when we were children, with lots of toys, games and ice cream. But as I’ve said before, it’s a privilege to get old, and even though I’m almost half way through my 70s now, that really is a cause for celebration, especially when I have a lovely family with which to share the event, and friends who have been kind enough to remember me.  And, I might add, lovely readers who enjoy my ramblings  on my blog!

My last missive was mainly about visiting Avon Mill Garden Centre followed by visiting Kingsbridge.  That was on Saturday.  On Sunday our daughter in law invited us to lunch for my birthday as she was working on the actual day (yesterday).   She made a lovely meal – and a great chocolate cake with candles (you have to have candles on a birthday cake when there are little ones around) – which we enjoyed in their garden as the day was bright and sunny.

I was also given presents from the family presents then, and so this has spread the event over several days – Saturday and Avon Mill, Sunday in our son and daughter in law’s home, and yesterday my actual birthday.  Our dear little grandson met us at the door and right away pushed his present into my hands, and then proceeded to open it for me!  He is adorable at age  five, but what little one at five isn’t adorable?  It was a lovely bar of L’Occitane lemon-scented soap, and then he shoved it under his Grandad’s nose so that he could have a good sniff!  Poor Granddad has lost his sense of smell (I think this happens to a lot of males, perhaps more than females).  Son and daughter in law bought me a pale green ceramic pot for the garden, with some tulip bulbs,  and our younger son and daughter in law gave me a pretty silk scarf and silky bamboo socks.

I just love these socks, they look almost too pretty to wear!  And how good they will look with a new pair of shoes that I bought only this morning.  I have needed some brogue-type shoes for a while.  I have perfectly-formed feet but even though they still look pretty good for an oldie, they are painful because of arthritis, and so although a shoe might fit perfectly, it isn’t always comfortable.  But I think the new pair by Josef Siebel shoes might be just about alright.  They are not glamorous, but they will look fine with jeans and cords.

How I would love these in tan, polished leather!  They already look well-worn to start with, as if I’ve not cleaned them and trudged through a farm yard and then failed to clean off the slurry.  But this is what ‘fashion’ decrees and, as you know, it’s very difficult to find things which aren’t a la mode.  Choice is limited to what manufacturers have produced this season and what fashion decrees.  Husband has now come to understand this when I’ve complained about narrow soles on my shoes.  “Buy some with wider soles!” he says. Now he understands that if fashion says “narrow soles” that is what is available and only that.

But back with Sunday, after our lunch we sat and chatted in the garden and then we drove our younger son home (our other daughter in law was using their shared car, she was doing her local radio show that she does in Exeter on the 2nd Sunday of each month and, unfortunately, couldn’t be with us, but it’s very hard – as no doubt many of you will have experienced – to get all family members together at the same time) and on the way home, I managed to snap this view of the River Teign just as we were about to go over the Teign Bridge. I love this view, indeed, I love the River Teign.

I had lots of birthday cards as well as presents, from family and friends.  I love to receive cards (21 at the last count) and I enjoyed opening these in bed yesterday morning, with a cup of coffee.

It was a lovely day yesterday, my actual birthday, and we decided to visit to Saltram, the National Trust property near Plymouth.  We arrived about 11 o’clock to find the car parking area absolutely packed with cars, which surprised us as it was a Monday – I thought this would be a quiet day after the weekend – and also after children had returned to school. But it’s a very popular place with dog walkers and they are able to park their cars without having to pay to go into the house and garden, and they go for walks by the River Plym.

Anyway, we found a parking space and we decided first of all we’d have a bite to eat and a cup of tea, and then a stroll in the gardens as the weather was so nice.

We know the house well as we’ve visited it many times, so going inside the houese was last on the things to do list.

This is the first view of Saltram, as you round the stable block (where the entrance is) … I won’t show you the front as that is currently scaffolded as the building is being re-painted 

We ambled across to the Chapel Tea Room in the grounds, and there I chose a sandwich for us to share (cheese and onion marmalade) and a slice of cake, also for us to share. We had not long since had breakfast so didn’t want a proper lunch, and this, with a pot of tea, was quite sufficient to satisfy us.

There are tables and chairs inside the Chapel Tea Room, but we sat outside in the early autumn sunshine.  Inside there was a table filled with lovely cakes, it was difficult to make a choice but I opted for chocolate marble cake.


They use vintage china, none of it matching, but that is part of its charm, and loose-leaf tea, with a strainer.

We then had a walk around the gardens …

The orangery isn’t far from the Chapel Tea Room, and outside are orange trees in their version of Versailles tubs.  I was surprised – although I can’t think why, after all it is an orangery, the clue is in the name – to see oranges growing on the trees …

So not only is tea grown in Cornwall (the next county) at the Tregothnan estate, but oranges are flourishing at Saltram in Devon!   Oh, I do wish I’d had the cheek to nip one off, just to try it!  I’m just too well-behaved for my own good!

Another area, behind the Chapel Tea Room, has this elegant bench and more white tubs.  Close by, a small bed of dahlias, many of them now ‘over’ but for this beauty …

We then went in the house. When we visited last year the Saloon was scaffolded so that the ceiling could be repaired. That work has now been completed but before the repaired carpet can be re-laid – a wonderful Axminster carpet, the largest that factory had ever produced at that time – the silk damask walls are going to be washed (I don’t suppose for one moment that involves taking the damask down and putting it in a washing machine with a dose of Persil), and the paintings and the chandeliers re-hung.  I think all this work will take quite some time yet and it might well be next year before the room is back looking wonderful again.

Robert Adam’s wonderful ceiling 

And what it will look like (only cleaner and with no leaks from the roof) when finished (this photo from several years ago)

We also looked in the kitchen, and some of the lovely bedrooms …

Kitchens were always lofty places, to allow the heat and smoke from the fires which cooked the food to rise up and away from the cooks and the food.

And while I love the 18th century Chinese wallpaper in a couple of the rooms (it really is exquisite) I just love this bedroom (above) … I have serious bedroom envy here!  And just look at this wardrobe (below).  I don’t think you will find anything like this in IKEA.

I love ‘flame’ mahogany, it’s such a richly coloured wood, and being a hardwood, is suitable for fine carving.

I then went into the National Trust shop and found a pair of lovely soft black leather gloves for my husband (he lost one of his leather gloves last year, and currently only has a ‘chunky’ pair of winter gloves; the new ones are smart black leather and were a very reasonable price. )

I also found a small pair of binoculars which will slip easily into a pocket or bag. We have a large pair which live in the boot/trunk of the car but often while we’re out and about they remain in the car, but with this tiny pair, although not quite as good as the large pair,  we will enable us to see distant objects more clearly, and all for just £15.

Yesterday evening a dear friend called with a bunch of white freesias for me …

… a lovely embroidered pochette – the kind in which to keep hankies – and a beautiful, embroidered birthday card.  She told me that she had seen the pochette in a brocante while in France this summer and as it had my initials on it – MP – she just knew it was for me!

And I shall have her embroidered card framed for our bedroom, it is so pretty …

I must also show you (below) the very pretty bottle of toilette water that another dear friend gave me, along with snowdrop bulbs for the garden …

As if all this was insufficient to make me a very happy birthday girl, my favourite magazine, The English Home, arrived yesterday, along with the book I had ordered (2nd hand), another book by historian, the late John Cornforth.  (I also had a letter published in The Daily Telegraph yesterday.)

The book – which was very inexpensive as it’s an ex-library copy (again, that library’s loss is my gain!  Perhaps they are dumbing down libraries now, as well as TV programmes?) – is a sheer delight even though, of course, all the photographs of the historic houses contained therein are in black and white, but they do date to long before 1935.

And finally … another dear friend called while we were out and he kindly left a card and this bunch of dahlias from his garden.  How beautiful they are.

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. A very happy belated birthday Margaret, you’ve had lovely gifts and flowers and outings too. I do like your new brogues, they look very stylish. I also have arthritis in my feet and wear mainly Hotter shoes as they’re immediately comfortable but those you’ve chosen are really attractive.
    I’ve been reading back through some of your archives, a lovely wander through your posts, you make even the most everyday happenings of housekeeping, breakfasts and lunches inspirational! A very enjoyable read. The photographs of you that I’ve seen are also lovely and you always look both stylish and elegant. In one post about housekeeping you had a row of newly ironed clothes hanging, may I ask where you buy your Breton tops?
    I look forward to reading more about your ‘daily doings’ which I can assure you are certainly very far from boring. You have a way of writing which inspires me to go and tackle my own ironing basket and get the cleaning tackle out!

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Jan! Yes, brogues are in fashion right now. And when they’re on, they actually look better than here. They’re a soft brown leather, not a polished leather (which I would prefer) but I think they will be comfortable, or as comfortable as my feet allow. I have four pairs of Hotter shoes, all the same size but they are like a Mary Jane with a little heel and in suede and once warmed up with my feet in them, the suede stretches and my feet move down towards the toes as I walk, and the toes are then squished against the end and hurt. But in every other respect the shoes fit, they just don’t feel comfortable.

      I’m delighted you have been enjoying old posts. I don’t know about being inspirational, but it’s nice that you find my posts thus. As for Breton tops, I have bought them from various sources, from Joules, from Crew Clothing and one, the red and white striped one which is my favourite and a true Breton top (not one made in the UK) is called Amor-lux but I bought it so long ago online I can’t remember from which company I bought it, but it was a French company I think. Right now I need a whole raft of new winter clothes but find it difficult finding really nice clothes in decent materials which look smart, neither frumpy not ditsy, and in my size, for I’m a little pudding and go between a size 16 and a size 18 depending on the make.

      I think that is a lovely compliment – that I’ve inspired you to get out the ironing basket and cleaning tackle! I think keeping a house reasonably clean and tidy is the first essential of housekeeping – all the faffing comes secondary to this, the arranging of the furniture, the colour schemes, the flowers, the ornaments, the pictures, for they are very much secondary to a clean and tidy environment in my book. I don’t mean that everything should be cleaned to within an inch of its life – we’d be cleaning 24/7 if that were the case – but just reasonably clean: a clean sink in the kitchen and worktops and oven, rubbish emptied, the bathroom clean with fresh towels, the bed made and aired each morning, and so forth. This needn’t take forever, and it can even be enjoyable when we change our attitude and drop the love-to-hate housework attitude, and instead consider it’s simply making our environment better and more pleasant for ourselves and our family.

      • Thank you for the Breton tops information, I haven’t bought anything from Crew Clothing in the past but I’ll order a couple of tops from there.
        After reading the comments I notice you have another reader called Jan, I’ll rename myself Jan (in the UK) in order to prevent any confusion.
        The pesky details in the name and email boxes have appeared again. I’ve checked my autofill details and it doesn’t appear to be a fault here. A mystery.

        • Margaret Powling

          With Crew Clothing (this isn’t the same as J Crew, the American company, Jan) they do tend to cut their clothes on the meagre side rather than the generous side, so for example if you take a size 12 you might need a 14, and so forth (similarly from Joules). I looked up Powder-uk yesterday, from where my lovely new socks came, and they have lovely accessories, especially their scarves, so I might treat myself to one of their scarves, they would brighten up my navy winter coat, now in it’s third season (time I looked for a new coat, as the navy one wasn’t an expensive one as coats go.)
          I do wish I could do more about the details in autofill. They don’t appear on my computer screen. But reader Heather wrote to me and said that there are a lot of problems at the moment and even a website that her husband attends to for a local group is having problems such as this, I’ve not been singled out for this it would seem.
          Oh, thank you for adding (in the UK) Jan, to help prevent any confusion with you and the other Jan.

        • Margaret Powling

          I had just written a reply and it disappeared … mea cupla no doubt! One thing I would say is that Crew Clothing do tend to cut their clothes a little on the narrow side, so if you’re, say, a size 12, then you might need a size 14. I don’t worry about the size on the label as long as the clothes fit. I’ve had a 14 raincoat from Joules which is generous and a 16 from M&S that is tight. They’re all different, aren’t they?
          Thank you for making clear which Jan you are!

          • Thank you for the sizing information although I do wish I had the option of being a size 12 and ordering a size 14! I’m neither of those sizes I’m afraid. Yes the sizes do vary so much, I also don’t worry about the size on the label but it would be very helpful and less time consuming if the sizes didn’t vary, how wonderful if we could just order our size and know the garments would fit, wherever they came from. They even vary within each company, you could order 2 different garments in the same size from one company and find them very differently sized.
            I need some new things for Winter too, I hope you’ll show us what you buy, I could do with the inspiration!

          • Margaret Powling

            I’m neither a 12 nor a 14 sadly, either, Jan! And yes, it would be less time consuming if sizes were standardized, taking into account the cut of a garment, so that it fitted. What annoys me most of all, though, is that when an item is made in a larger size, such as a jacket, manufacturers assume that if you need more space across the bust, you then have grown longer arms! Have you noticed how women tend to wear sleeves that are far too long? The flap around their fingers. Men’s suit jackets and coats don’t do that, they allow a few inches of cuff to show. I always have to have sleeves professionally shortened, I hate sleeves that flap around the finger tips.

  2. My very best wishes for a Happy Birthday Margaret!
    You had a lovely time surrounded by family and friends, thank you for letting us share your day.
    Again, your outing was delightful and such gorgous pictures. I love the places you choose to visit.
    Wonderful show of cards indeed, good idea to frame the embroidered one, it is beautiful.
    Pam in TX. xx

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Pam, I was delighted to share my birthday weekend with my blog readers, whom I now consider my penfriends. I had many penfriends as a child and looked forward to their letters, and the comments from readers is much like that, only the more modern version!
      Yes, I shall frame the little pink card, it’s so beautiful. It will be ideal in our bedroom.

  3. Happy Birthday, Margaret! Your 3-day celebration sounded lovely, and I like all your nice gifts. The lilies, dahlias and your garden bouquet are just a big Wow! All so pretty.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Bess, I had a lovely birthday weekend, it was great fun and, what is more, the weather was good, too. The lilies and dahlias are lovely, also the freesias and the little posy of flowers from the garden. It’s like a florist’s shop in our sitting room right now!

  4. A very happy birthday to you, Margaret. It sounds like you had some really lovely times over the last few days. I have just discovered the magazine The English Garden. Oh my, it is so wonderful! Wonderful enough that I have ordered a subscription for myself. I have also started reading Cambridge Blue by Alison Bruce as recommended by you. I am enjoying it, so thank you again for the recommendation.

    • Margaret Powling

      Is this the comment I missed responding to, Jeannine? How remiss of me! I do try and reply to everyone who is kind enough to leave a comment, I hate to miss anyone out, so my apologies. Yes, The English Garden is a lovely magazine, its the ‘sister’ magazine to The English Home which is my absolute favourite. Husband is currently reading Cambridge Blue and is enjoying it. He’s not a great reader of ‘stories’ as he calls novels, much preferring to read the newspaper or New Scientist magazine which younger son passes on to him or, failing those, anything technical or instructional. So for a novel to hold his attention it must be better than average.

      • Not remiss at all! You are very kind to respond. But since you do always respond, I thought it strange that you hadn’t and I wanted to make sure you had gotten my thanks for the book recommendation.

        • Margaret Powling

          Yes, I do like to respond to comments, Jeannine. When I leave comments on others’ blogs I do hope I get a response, but sometimes if a blog is very popular and there are many comments, the blogger would find it very hard work to reply to them all, I do understand that. It must never become a chore and everyone uses their blog in his or own way.

    It sounds as though you had a lovely time celebrating your birthday Margaret, and you received some lovely presents too!
    After all the years I spent standing behind a lending library counter, my feet are a mess, but Josef Siebel shoes help no end. My son calls them my ‘granny shoes’ but that’s fine, as I’m a granny to his son! I get mine from Costco wholesale, so the prices are good too. They’re not glamorous, but neither is hobbling along with a pinched expression because of aching feet!
    Saltram looks lovely, my husband would have been spoilt for choice with all those cakes, but I covet that wardrobe, it’s a thing of beauty.
    I would have been sorely tempted to ‘pinch’ an orange, but I think I’d have resisted.
    That Chrysanthemum in your hearth is a beauty isn’t it?
    It’s not really a case of libraries being ‘dumbed down’, but now that so many people use the internet, many non fiction books just aren’t being used, so libraries hold book sales, to make room on the shelves for new book stock and also to raise what funds they can, as local authorities all over the country are slashing book funds. Libraries are seen as a ‘soft target’ when it come to cutbacks, which annoys me greatly, but when councillors make up their tiny minds, there’s no reasoning with them.
    Take care.

    • Margaret Powling

      I had a lovely few days, Colette, for my birthday (this morning not quite as much fun – an ECG at our doctors’ (plural as there are four GPs there) surgery.
      I have put on my Josef Siebel shoes this morning, but they slop a bit at the back, even though I’ve done them up tightly. I’ve even put an insole in them, and I’m wearing socks and not nylon ankle-highs, so I just hope that I will be able to get used to them – they didn’t do this yesterday so perhaps when I’ve been on my feet all day, they will spread (my feet, I mean) a bit and fit neatly again. But they are comfortable.
      I was a bit cheeky in saying libraries might be dumbing down when they are the last bastion of standards in literature, so apologies for that. They have to make space for new books, space being finite, and also raise funds for new books, I do appreciate that. And if a book isn’t being borrowed, then it’s for the chop. You can’t make people borrow them, can you, regardless of the quality of the content!

      • If your shoes are still a bit loose at the back, try fitting sticky backed suede heel grips in them. I bought some lovely bright pink leather loafers in the spring, and ‘wore them in’ during very hot weather, not thinking of how swollen my feet would be. Consequently, now that the weather’s cooled off, they’re a bit loose at the heel, but heel grips have sorted that out.
        Also, have a look at Moshulu shoes, they have some beauties, and they’re made in Devon, how good is that?

        • Margaret Powling

          Oh, thank you for that info, Colette, I shall certainly get some of those! They will be good for my Hotter shoes, which are a suede Mary Jane (I have four pairs in three colours, i.e. two the same in blue because I thought I’d wear them out quickly as I like them, but I haven’t as they slop a bit too much! This could solve that problem. The other colours are a soft taupe and a tomato red) with little kitten heels, nice with a dress or with jeans. I will look up the Moshulu website and I think there’s a Moshulu shop in Totnes, too.

  6. Belated Happy Birthday from me as well!! It sounds like you had a wonderful birthday celebration. Did your little grandson help you blow out the candles?? Little ones always seem excited by that task.
    I think I have read nearly all of your posts now and I have enjoyed them all. You make home keeping inspirational!! I agree with Jan that you always look so stylish in your photos, elegant and classic!

    I am still striving to have my oven look as shiny as yours!!! (LOL)

    Enjoy the rest of your week.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Mayilyn, yes I had a great day and our little grandson was very keen to ‘help’ me blow out the candles! Thank you for saying I look stylish, I need to get some new clothes for autumn/winter as I didn’t buy any last year apart from the navy floral dress which I wore on Christmas day, so I really need to smarten up my act a little bit!
      My oven now needs a good clean again. As the oven cleaner makes such a good job, I might just shell out some money and have him do it for me. Husband thinks that terribly spendthrift, and it is, but my goodness, he makes such a good job it puts my efforts well in the shade!

  7. Wishing you a (belated) very happy birthday and good health for the year ahead. It sounds like you’ve had a lovely few days and the many cards and gifts are beautiful. I enjoyed the pictures of your visit to Saltram: the cakes, your table or lunch, the oranges, the magnificent rooms. I always wanted leather gloves, thinking I would look so stylish and sophisticated. The closest I ever came was a pair of black ‘suede’ (or something that wasn’t smooth and fitted) gloves which served me well for several years but now that I live in an area where keeping myself cool is a priority, I haven’t worn gloves for many years. I love watching old movies where the women always wear (white) gloves. I’m sure they would have been impractical, let alone a bother to wash and keep clean, but I can still swoon ….. I had never heard of a ‘pochette’. Yours is very pretty. I carry a handkerchief in my bag (spell check tried to change it to ‘hankering’) and have a couple which belonged to my late maternal grandmother. My grandmothers were very different from each other in personality but both valued the importance of a clean hankie 🙂 My late paternal grandmother would often place a lace or embroidered handkerchief in my birthday card. Lovely memories ❤️

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you for your good wishes, Lara, and yes I had a lovely few days. No, I doubt whether gloves are an item of clothing much used (if at all!) in Australia! I love gloves, and Marks & Spencer sell very nice leather gloves which are reasonably priced. OK, they are not the quality (I’m not referring to the quality of leather, but of the manufacture, how they are cut and put together) of some more expensive makes. I went mad a few years ago an bought a tan leather pair which were quite expensive, but they fit beautifully.
      I think pochette is an old-fashioned term for a little pouch. It suddenly came to me, but I must look it up and see if it’s a real word! Now I am wondering about it myself! How lovely that your paternal grandmother used to give you a lace hanky with your birthday card, what a lovely gesture.

  8. It sounds like a very lovely extended celebration. Happy belated birthday, Margaret!

  9. Happy belated birthday wishes to you dear Margaret. Sounds like you had a lovely celebration weekend with your dear family and friends. And, how nice to receive such lovely gifts and cards. I always enjoy seeing your flower arrangements and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a striped chrysanthemum. It’s quite unique and beautiful. The mahogany wardrobe is beautiful. It reminds me of my mother who loved mahogany furniture so the home I grew up in was all mahogany furniture. No oak was allowed since I think oak was the wood of choice when my Mom was growing up during the depression. So, of course she didn’t like it in her own home. Your new book purchases have inspired me and I just ordered Pyne’s Royal Residences by John Cornforth. You are so lucky to live next to such historical places such as the National Trust properties. Enjoy your birthday week! Pat xx

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Pat, I had a lovely day, indeed, a lovely weekend. The chrysanthemum was in Waitrose and I simply couldn’t leave it there, but it was under £4 which I thought was a good bargain, and I do like a bargain.
      Yes, that wonderful mahogany wardrobe. I suppose it was really what is known as a clothes press as when it was made no doubt clothes were put together differently, bodices and skirts, and they would’ve been neatly folded and put onto sliding shelves in the press.
      I once wrote a piece for an antiques magazine about oak furniture but after a brief introduction, I continued by saying, “Broadly speaking, English furniture falls under three headings: The Oak Period (embracing the furniture of the 16th and early 17th centuries); the Walnut Period (which includes the late 17th and early 18th centuries); and the Mahogany Period (which begins with the reign of George III in 1760.) The names of the monarchs have been applied to styles of furniture belonging to their reign, although the Tudor, the Stuart and the Georgian reigns do not coincide exactly with the periods of oak, walnut and mahogany.”
      I went on to say,
      “While the earliest of the furniture periods is referred to as Oak, furniture was not made exclusively from this wood but also from beech, ash, yew and elm; a medieval chippy [that’s a carpenter, in case you don’t use this term, Pat] wouldn’t be influenced by the fashions of the day but by the most accessible trees from which he could make a bench of stool. Such furniture would have been fairly crude – simple planks for tables and benches – with surfaces that bore the marks of the joiners’ tools and, because the designs of such practical pieces are timeless, they are not always easy to date.”
      I then went on to explain lots more about English Oak furniture and then said, “In 1603, with the death of Elizabeth 1, there were no immediate changes in the styles of English Oak furniture although the emphasis was increasingly towards comfort and, by 1640, a domestic social change meant that instead of eating in a hall at a large heavy table, people now ate at smaller, folding tables (know as gate-leg because of a hinged leg that supported the flap top) … Court cupboards were still being made but in the farmhouse it was the dresser – originally made without the separate fall back with shelves – which became the single most important piece during the 17th century.”
      I concluded by mentioning the Commonwealth period (when we didn’t have a monarch, following the English Civil War, won by Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarians) and also with the Restoration of the Monarchy and the exuberance of the Court of King Charles II (the Merry Monarch as he became known) “and with it the Walnut Period, the second major period in the history of English furniture.”
      I hope you will enjoy the John Cornforth book, and yes, we are very fortunate to live near such lovely historic houses and gardens to visit.

  10. Happy Birthday Margaret! I’m touched by the plethora of flowers you received. People sometimes think they must buy expensive gifts to make it meaningful when simple things such as a bunch of homegrown flowers, a petite bottle of scent, or an embroidered bit make it so special and quaint. Must ask if you don’t mind, did Husband proffer a gift as well?

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Donna, and I wondered whether anyone would pick up on that … no, no gift from husband. We tend not to give each other presents, after almost 54 years of marriage we just don’t feel the need. Others might think this strange and mean, but we don’t feel slighted in the least, we know we love each other. He gave me a lovely card, that was quite sufficient. What he does all year round for me is worth more than a present twice a year (we’re the same with Christmas presents) – all the gardening, all the house maintenance, cleaning and keeping the car road-worthy, any jobs around the house that need doing (including much of the ironing these days and the vacuuming, and taking over when I don’t feel well.) It is a true partnership, and this is worth far more than presents, and in return I do what I can for him, making sure he has a good diet, the house is kept clean, making appointments for him and so forth. What he does for our family is immeasurable, he helps our sons and daughters in law, and also helps look after grandson, too, a real granddad! If I had wanted something specifically he’d just have said, “We’ll go out and get it” but there was nothing I wanted. But we had a lovely visit to Saltram, it was a lovely day.

  11. Happy Birthday!! Margaret, you do such a lovely blog, and I so enjoy it. I love your gifts, they are so thoughtful. Oh, and I like Virgos, too xxxxxx

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Ratnamurti! Oh yes, I’m very much a Virgoan, one who likes things well-organised, slightly pedantic, but also inclined to fret and worry about things. But I had a lovely birthday, it was a lovely day in every respect.

  12. Glad you had a lovely birthday weekend, many happy returns. Fabulous pics!

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Faith. I am still having computer problems and now my Office Outlook is failing to work, so I can’t send my photos to anyone, only put them on my blog.

  13. It was a very very happy birthday, dear Mrs Powling.

  14. Happy Birthday 🙂

    I’ve got plant envy over that striped chrysanthemum, I must look about and see if I can find one for myself.

    Sounds like a lovely few days

  15. Happy birthday Margaret. It was lovely to see your up to date photos of Saltram (a place I associate with so many happy family holidays when as a little girl we used to stay in one of the gate houses on the Saltram Estate). I loved your reply about your husband. My husband of 26 years has his birthday on 13 September and is just brilliant at keeping everything clean and tidy and organised (a true Virgo) and we never give each other presents either, although I will cook a special birthday dinner and make him a cake. If we need something we buy it, but actually our needs are very few. We have planned a visit to Sarah Raven’s garden at Perch Hill on Friday and we will take a picnic and probably meander to Bateman’s (Rudyard Kipling’s home) for afternoon tea. I have just started developing arthritis on the outside of my right foot and in the little finger of my right hand. A good friend recommended Rhus Tox, a homeopathic remedy and I may consider acupuncture as well as she has experienced excellent results from both. So important to look after our hands and feet. Love the bedroom, especially the chaise longue, and I am very lucky to have two lovely pieces of Georgian mahogany furniture, both of which are in daily use.

    • Margaret Powling

      Lovely to hear from you, Sarah, and yes, your husband sounds a true Virgoan! At last, another couple who don’t feel the need to buy presents for each other. I think we’re in the minority, though, Sarah. I feel sure that some people (not readers here, they’re far too sensible!) think we’re either lazy or simply mean, when we’re neither.
      Oh, I hope you will enjoy both Sarah Raven’s Perch Hill and Bateman’s. We went to Bateman’s many years ago and also to Scotney Castle which I think is in the area. I hope he has a lovely birthday, and you too of course!
      How lovely to have some Georgian furniture that is still in use today. We didn’t have space here for some of the good pieces my mother had, so they are now with younger son.

  16. Happy Birthday Margaret! It looks like you had a lovely time. September is a very nice time to have a birthday. The weather is so pleasant and you have the good fortune of having the Sapphire for a birthstone and Morning Glory/Aster for your flowers. I think those are all so pretty.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Jan, and yes, I had a lovely time. It was all very low-key and most enjoyable. Yes, when we became engaged, I chose a sapphire for my ring and yes, asters are my flower (although the ones I had in the house last week have now gone.) It has been dull and damp today, but we did have a short walk this morning after a visit to our GPs’ surgery.

  17. Sounds like the perfect birthday, celebrations with loved ones and a lovely day out!
    Congratulations Margaret, may you have many more perfect birthdays!
    Warmest wishes x

  18. Glad to hear you enjoyed your birthday Margaret, Saltram looked lovely in the sunshine, the cakes looked good too…..keep me away from those. We would also have shared the cake and sandwiches, in the hope that the calories wouldn’t cause too much of a hit, some hope! The restoration work inside the house looked interesting, it’s a beautiful house but has a homely atmosphere too. Anyway, sounds as though you have had a good week.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, thank you, Heather, Saltram was lovely. Such a gracious house with it’s Neo-classicism make-over by Robert Adam – well, if you like Adam-style, with his wedding-cake style plaster-work and sugared-almond colours! I love it, but not everyone likes it, of course (I’m not keen on Victorian Gothic, we all like different things.) There are several other rooms to see if you do make a visit, it’s just the Saloon and dining rooms that are in a state of repair right now. And I would recommend the Chapel Tea Room over the main cafe next to the house.

  19. It does look like a wonderful birthday weekend indeed. Belated, but very Happy Birthday wishes to you, Margaret.

    I sent an email, through your contact information above, with book recommendations from the Torquay History Society about the 1866 storm, I hope you received it, but if not I’d be happy to try again.

    Very best wishes, Lynne K

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lynne. Yes, I must apologise for not responding to your email for which I thank you very much. I have had endless problems with my email as I changed my host to Blue Host which is fine for my blog (although since I changed, those awful ‘rogue’ data details have appeared and continue to appear on some readers’ comments) it is not good for emailing, and I’m trying to get this all sorted out (yet more time, more money being spent.) So please accept my apologies for not responding. In due course I hope to go through all my backlog of emails and respond to them.

  20. Belated good wishes for your birthday, Margaret. Eating home-made chocolate cake sounds a great way to enjoy it, even if not on the actual day but I’m all for stretching birthday’s out over several. You certainly had some lovely, well thought out, gifts. And more cake in the autumn sunshine at Saltram sounds perfect.
    I like the Saltram kitchen – although grandeur of the living rooms in such places delight, I’m always more interested in the more domestic stuff.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you for the birthday wishes, Eloise, I have had a great birthday week, and Saltram is such a lovely place to vist. I would’ve taken more photos in the kitchen only it was filled with visitors and it was therefore difficult taking a photo without someone being photographed as well. One of the best houses, in my opinion, to visit for a glimpse of life below stairs is Lanhydrock (Natinal Trust, Cornwall.) but the house is mainly Victorian, so relatively modern by historic-house standards. But there is a whole range of kitchen rooms, from the large kitchen itself, to the still room, the meat and fish larders, the dairy, etc.

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