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A ‘Peter and Jane’ Day

Geraniums still in bloom (well, almost)

The title of this post might puzzle you:  a ‘Peter and Jane’ day.

For those who learned to read using the Ladybird books reading scheme, or whose children used this scheme (the look-and-read scheme) will remember a little boy called Peter and a little girl called Jane who helped their Daddy and Mummy; Peter did the manly things with Daddy, helping to repair or wash the car, mow the grass, while Jane helped Mummy in the house, cooking and cleaning.

Therefore when we have a day at home in which husband is in the garden and I’m in the house we laugh and say we’re having a ‘Peter and Jane’ day.  Yes, husband is capable of vacuuming and dusting, and I could mow the lawn if I’d a mind to, but we tend to do the jobs for which we’re best suited; I have the eye for detail in the house, and husband has the strength to lift bags of compost and push the lawnmower over the grassy banks at the front of our house.  Sexist or not, it works for us.

Almost all the tulip bulbs have now been planted.  Indeed, they would all have been planted by now but I ran out of pots in which to put them, and so husband has removed some old narciccus bulbs from a couple of very old pots, replanted the old narciccus bulbs in the garden, and washed out the pots. Tomorrow we will go to the garden centre for compost; we’ve only ericaceous compost and rose compost left.  Then I will plant the last of the bulbs.  Job (well, almost) done!

Meanwhile, I did some jobs in the house.  I cleaned the shower room and then decided I’d clean out the little lidded basket in which I keep my makeup (only the small items; moisturizer and foundation live on one of the glass shelves in the shower room):

I drastically weeded the basket, brushed it out, re-lined it with white kitchen paper, and put the items I was keeping tidily back in the little boxes I use as compartments.  This is the sum total of my makeup – positively frugal by most women’s standards, I would think – apart from a selection of lipsticks in the box (with overspill in the basket) which I bought some weeks ago in the charity shop in Wellswood:

I also keep all my nail polishes in the fridge, the best place to keep them to prevent them going tacky.

I also cleaned out the top drawer in my bedside chest of drawers – this is where I keep all those things you simply don’t want on show … medications, sore-throat lozenges, Vicks vapour rub (I’ve been told by my podiatrist that Vicks contains the best nutrients for toenails, equal to expensive nail creams), emery boards, and so forth.  I then realized that I have far too many books in my to-be-read piles, so I do need to weed those soon:

I don’t mind two or three books by the bed, but this is getting out of hand.  And because of all the books, there’s little-to-no room for a vase of flowers.  The mats are for my night time glass of water and early morning cup of coffee.

After cleaning the shower room and our bedroom, and between loading and unloading the washing machine several times, I made lunch.  It had to be something quick and easy today, otherwise no housework would’ve been accomplished:

One of my favourite ‘fast foods’ is a prawn salad.   I chop up some much-maligned Iceberg lettuce (we like Iceberg lettuce, and make no apology for this – it is crisp, and we like crisp lettuce and Iceberg lettuce isn’t bitter like most Little Gem lettuces.  We don’t like bags of leaves which look more like weeds to me, and have nasty stalks which I find difficult to chew – and have almost choked on before now); and add peeled and de-seeded cucumber (sliced) and some salad cress, and then I pile on the prawns for which I’ve made my own quick marie-rose dressing (i.e. salad cream/ketchup/lemon juice).  I then sprinkle a little paprika on the prawns, and serve it with granary bread.  All this takes about ten minutes, as I say, “fast food”.

I did plan to have a dessert, but we found we’d had sufficient to eat by the time we’d had this.

Later in the afternoon younger son arrived with Barry-the-dog:

Barry kept me company while I watched Escape to the Country, my one afternoon TV weakness.

Then, a postal delivery.  Indeed, two postal deliveries.  I had ordered  a pair of dark grey Per Una jeans from Marks & Spencer and another jumper in the shade called chilli as the first one I bought was a little on the large side (it will be useful over shirts.)  I then dug out from my scarf drawer a large shawl-type scarf (which I have had for many years) as I think will go with these jeans and jumper and make a ‘new’ outfit:  

I even have red shoes, so if I don’t want to wear black shoes, or black boots, they would make a change:

This photo courtesy of Hotter catalogue (2016)

There was also a grey jumper with my order but it was very disappointing.  It was a polo-neck and I expect a polo-neck to sit snugly around my neck, i.e. not to be baggy as in a roll neck or cowl neck.  Also, the jumper had obviously been on a hanger for a long time and there were knobbly hanger marks in the shoulders. Furthermore, around the middle of the jumper it looked as if it had been rubbed, and so I’ve sent it back.  I’ve now ordered another style of textured grey jumper with a round neck, plus the same style in cream.  We will see how those look/fit in due course.

The second postal delivery brought three small packets.  Inside each packet was … wait for it … drum roll … one pair of knickers!  This was a three-for-two offer, but instead of all three pairs of knickers being in one packet (for they take up little room!) there was a white one, a black one, and an almond-coloured one in each packet.  Fortunately I wasn’t paying postage on this, but I’ve no doubt the cost of such postage and packing is included in the goods that we all buy.

I like full-brief knickers, but although these might be described as ‘big girls’ knickers’, they are at least pretty and lacy and fit nicely under jeans. I would’ve preferred the offer to have included three of the same colour, and cream-colour at that (they used to make very pretty cream-coloured lacy knickers to go with my cream lacy bras) but no, if you want this offer this is what you get.  I can at least use the black pair with my black lacy bras (and the almond pair with an almond bra) but I don’t wear white underwear, never have been particularly keen on it, but I’m sure these will be worn sometime.

We are now both quite tired after our ‘Peter and Jane’ day at home, husband having done  planting, weeding, sweeping of paths, and myself having been busy on housekeeping, and we also had a trip to the Tip (we still call it the Tip but I suppose we should call it the Re-cycling Centre) with garden waste.  Indeed, it’s been quite a productive day.  What have you been doing today, I wonder?

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. Margaret – a silly question, but: do you cook the prawns first? OR just get them out of the freezer and stir your dressing through?

  2. This post made me smile as when I ordered the sateen jeans I also ordered new big girl’s knickers – yes the three for two offer in black, white and almond! White isn’t my favourite colour for underwear either. They came separately from the jeans but at least were in the same packet, how ridiculous that yours arrived in three separate parcels. That, coupled with the sizing muddle they’re in these days makes you wonder what’s going on at M&S, they used to be so reliable for everything.
    A lovely, pottering, housekeeping post today. You have the ability to inspire me to get on with some long overdue housekeeping jobs here. Inspiration is always welcome!
    Barry is just gorgeous, he looks so spotlessly clean, does he have a bath especially before visiting you?

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, Jan, it really does make you question what’s going on – or rather, what’s wrong? – at M&S these days. Little wonder that they are losing customers. Perhaps they should concentrate on selling quality products even if it means slight price rises. Surely their target customer isn’t the person who wants the cheapest quality for the cheapest price, but someone who wants reasonable quality at a reasonable price? It certainly used to me. I’m not talking Burberry quality for Burberry price, but items worth having, clothes which look smart but are not frumpy, either. As for store layout, just don’t go there! We wanted cords for my husband but we couldn’t find any, and it was only when I happened upon an assistant (tidying the hats) and I mentioned to her it was a shame that there were no cords for men any more that she explained that there were … “Follow me …” she said, and off we went, yards and yards away from where the men’s trousers were, to an area beyond the underwear and nightwear, to the back wall of the store where there were … cords for men. Almost hidden, as if they were they were ashamed to be selling them! How weird is that? Why were they not in the obvious place, i.e. next to the men’s trousers? I rest my case! They have lost their way over almost everything except food. And seeing as I don’s shop for food in Marks and Spencer, I really can’t comment on that.
      Our son and daughter in law keep Barry looking very fresh and clean. But he’s quite easy to keep clean as he’s such a short-haired dog.
      Glad you have found my post inspirational, Jan. More of the same tomorrow, I expect, a trip to the garden centre for compost and then more pottering, perhaps.

  3. Your prawn salad looks delicious and one that will be on my summer menu. My husband and I love iceberg lettuce as well although I do enjoy baby spinach leaves and some radicchio mixed in on occasion.
    I wish we had Marks and Spencer in Oz; we have most of the other overseas chains. I did buy some clothes there when I was overseas. I think that with the onset of online shopping most of the clothing chains are suffering and trying to be all things to all people rather than keeping to their traditional market.
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    • Margaret Powling

      The prawn salad is so easy to make, Pieta, and it’s a really ‘fast’ dish when you are pushed for time. I also use these cooked prawns in a curry, made very simply (food has to be simple for me, I don’t like complicated recipes.(
      Yes, I think you are right, Pieta. Marks & Spencer are trying to be all things to all people. When I looked at the Reviews online for the jeas I buy, the age range of the reviewers were given and the majority I read were 65+ so this should tell M&S that this is their core market, i.e. women of a certain age. But we women of a certain age do not wish to look like frumps. We like smart/casual, well made, well constructed clothes in good fabrics in attractive colours – well, I do – and without a lot of ditsy bits added, treating women like children. Men don’t have lots of silly bits added to their clothes, why then should we? Or perhaps a lot of women like embroidered bits, sequins, extra ribbons and so forth. I’m afraid I don’t.

  4. We are the same Margaret really, my husband is in charge of out door jobs and me inside. Good idea for the lipstick storage, a good way of re purposing the little note paper box.

    • Margaret Powling

      I love finding new uses for things which might otherwise be discarded, Marlene. As swoon as I saw the little box I knew what I could use it for. Besides, I love little boxes, whether from wood or, in the case of this one, cardboard.

  5. I wondered what the knickers photo was all about Margaret, anyway all was revealed (so to speak…) I’m a fan of cotton for underwear but the pretty stuff is usually in man made fibres isn’t it? Barry looks very happy, we have a visiting dog just now, black, white and spotty!
    Just to say Marlene’s details are still appearing, also the save my details box has been ticked. I’m removing it and posting hoping nothing else appears when I send this comment.

    • Margaret Powling

      Until a couple of years ago I wore only white or black Sloggis, thinking the best thing since sliced bread. Just one seam and therefore no wrinkles under clothes or tights. But then I thought that they looked pretty bleak and I thought “why not try a silky pair?” and I’m now totally sold on the comfort of the ones I bought, they are not too tight, they don’t have what I refer to as ‘wire cutting’ legs and they look pretty even on someone a bit larger in the derriere. They are silky but it’s cotton where it matters, shall we say. I like them very much.
      Oh dear, Marlene’s details appearing … I wish I could help but I don’t know what to suggest. I thought this had ceased, but obviously not.
      Barry is a happy little dog, and he loves to sit with me (well, with anyone!) when I’m reading or watching TV. Oh, how lovely – a black & white spotty dog!

  6. Hi Margaret, I’m back with you after a period of ‘radio silence’. A dear dear friend (and former work colleague) recently took his own life and I have been struggling. To say it’s a tragedy that we’ve lost a wonderful gentleman doesn’t describe our loss. I’m searching for answers that simply aren’t there. Please take a moment to hug your loved ones and ask them ‘R U OK ?’ (this is an Australian campaign to prevent suicide). I will enjoy going back and reading all of the posts now. Your new jeans, jumper and scarf look lovely together – and the red shoes are beautiful. I LOVE red shoes. Always have ! I have even less makeup than you, never having felt the need to buy a lot of products as I know I’d never use them on a day to day basis. I watch makeup tutorials on YouTube (The Daily Connoisseur and How To Be Chic, being particular favourites) and enjoy learning about different products, shades, techniques but that about it. Ha ha. Delighted to see Barry again. He is a firm favourite of mine. A small town about 30km from my home has converted an area of its small post office into a cafe and the co-owner-cum-host is a small terrier called ‘Dennis’. He is elderly and has a cozy bed near the entrance so that he can greet customers – or simply receive pats and adoration whilst he rests. As he has short hair, he wears jackets in the cooler months. Each time I drive in that direction I ‘call in to see Dennis’, as I call it, and will have a hot drink. Being a terrier, he is keen on chasing things and a few months ago had a nasty sore on his nose which the lady told me the vet had said was a rat bite. Rat one – Dennis nil. It’s since healed nicely, I’m sure the extra attention from concerned customers helped. He is a rescue dog and was apparently mistreated by the original owners, so it’s lovely he is living out his ‘autumn years’ with caring owners and adoration from passing trade. Cheers from Australia where despite the reported nationwide drought my area has seen so much rainfall the past weeks that my cat and I have webbed feet xx

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lara, and I was growing a little concerned that I’d not heard from you for a while, but in the circumstances that is understandable. My dear friend, that is indeed a tragedy and I am so sorry to hear about your former colleague. Male suicide especially (as opposed to female, I mean) is on the increase here in the UK, so much so that the Government has appointed a Minister for Suicide. Whether this will help, I do not know, but at least the problem is being addressed. So, I’m sending virtual hugs all the way from Devon, across the oceans and continents, right to you.
      I loved hearing bout Dennis, the elderly terrier. Barry is also a terrier and would love to go chasing rabbits and so he’s kept on a lead 99% of the time when he is taken for walks. Sometimes, though, they do what I’ve described before as “a biscuit run” where our son and daughter in law stand some distance apart, each with dog biscuits and call Barry from one to the other, so that he gets a run. The biscuits (only tiny ones and not that many) help concentrate his mind rather than rabbit holes!

  7. ps I’ve just read heather’s comment and wanted to let you know that my name and (bogus) email address appeared, so all was fine here. I use a bogus email on public fora as I had an unpleasant experience with someone years agao (stalker) and am oversensitive with my privacy as a result.

    • Margaret Powling

      What a nuisance this is, Lara. I wish I could get rid of it. I think we are right to be careful with privacy. That is why it took me a very long time to decide even to have this blog and I’m not on any other media sites.

  8. A wonderful idea for storing your lipsticks,I’ll have to be on the lookout for one of those in the charity shop.iworked there on Friday and you cannot believe what a throwaway society we live in,some bags were coming in with brand new items still with their tags on and in the bag they were ordered from!What has happened to make do and mend,I say!Ive still got recollections of my mother darning my fathers socks. Another beautiful day here,looking on the long range forecast it’s changing end of the month just in time for Bonfire night.

    • Margaret Powling

      The little box will just about take two rows of lipsticks in the top flip-top section, Margaret, but some of my lipsticks (in the basket) are too ‘fat’ to lie on the top, or too long, so they are in the basket. I have 20 lipsticks (and a freebie which is a very tiny one I keep in my bag) but some are very old but I’m reluctant to part with them as the colours have been discontinued and I like them, even though there’s not much left of them. I expect they are filled with nasty bacteria by now, but I don’t recall ever being made ill by lipstick, so they’re staying there for now! I used to have lots of different shades of eye shadow, too, but I seldom see any palettes of colours that I like these days. Must have another look at Look Fabulous Forever, even though their products are expensive, as they have non-shiny eye shadow which is kinder to older eyes. I have one of their lipsticks and it’s really lovely. Hope this isn’t construed as an advert for LFF, and I only ever mention things of which I’ve had personal experience.
      Oh the awful waste these days. What annoys me is that our Sunday paper, because there are so many supplements and advertising flyers in it now has a whole load of these things in a plastic bag, the same paper that would (rightly) grumble about the proliferation of plastic! I do think this needs pointing out to them; I’m very tempted to do so, as no one else appears to have noticed this!
      Yes, it’s another lovely day here, too; I love sunny autumn days.

      • I used to useLiz Earle products but have found since they have been taken over twice now,they are not so good.But I have been converted to LFF and find they are excellent for mature skin! I now use their lipstick,lip primer, eye primer and their eyeshadow.Just received in the post today her new skincare range. I know they are more expensive but have found their products go a long way.

  9. I like Iceberg too – can’t stand bitter leaves. I also buy pea-shoots which I like better than rocket (which I find very ‘chokey’) or watercress.
    I like M&S pants too but buy the ‘High-leg’. I’m quite happy with white though get irritated because no matter how carefully they are washed they soon lose the brightness of brand new ones.
    It’s funny how often I read your blog and think ‘I do that too’. I keep my make up in little boxes in a basket! It’s so much more accessible than a make-up gab, though I do use one with a couple of touch-up items in it if I’m going out. At work I keep a lipstick in my drawer.
    I smiled at Jan’s comment on M&S sizing. It frustrates me no end – I have FOUR different sizes of M&S clothing in my wardrobe and they all fit me the same. Even the same style can differ in size when in another colour. It’s ridiculous…… I’d better stop right there!

  10. Meant to add – I LOVE the ‘Peter and Jane’ day and know exactly what you mean.
    So far as jobs go – horses for courses, I say. We are quite traditional in our roles (though we each do our own ironing).

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