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Let Us Celebrate Good Friends

Yesterday, I met a dear friend for lunch. She was treating me for my birthday.  Although my birthday was last month, it mattered not one jot that we were having our lunch yesterday – we’re both busy people, she has also been away on holiday, and yesterday was the first day convenient to us both.

We chose to have lunch where we last had lunch together (for my friend’s birthday in July), at our local hostelry, the Palace on the sea front.  I was glad that we had decided to meet at 12 noon because, not having booked a table, unreserved tables were few but we managed to find one in the conservatory where it was bright and sunny.

My friend had brought me a lovely bunch of salmon pink roses (top photo) and I have now put them in the copper lustre jugs on the mantelpiece.  I love pink roses and these look especially good as the colour of pink matches almost exactly the pink in the Royal Crown Derby lidded box.

This was the conservatory as we were leaving yesterday. There is an area, equally the size of this one, behind me, and all the tables in that area were taken, too.  You might notice that the Christmas trees are ‘up’ – they were being decorated when I arrived, and in the foyer a tall one, reaching to the ceiling, was being adorned in brilliant turquoise blue baubles and bows. Not my favourite Christmas colour, but I suppose it was chosen to go with the blue carpets which are throughout the ground floor of this hotel.

My friend chose vegetable soup and I chose a Thai fish cake, with a bowl of sweet potato chips to share.


My friend’s soup looked very thick, but I’m sure it was nourishing.  We both chose a dessert of Bailey’s creme brulee, and it was delicious.  I forgot to take a photograph before I started to eat …

We didn’t have coffee, we were too full, and to drink we both chose something simple, my friend having tonic water and myself sparkling mineral water.

But this isn’t really about food, or the setting, but about friendship.  How fortunate those of us are who have good friends, really good friends, those with whom we can talk freely, about not only things in general but things which are close to our hearts.  Those who help us if called upon, those who love and understand us.  So let us celebrate friends and tell them how much they, in turn, are loved and appreciated.

Another friend had called the previous afternoon.  I haven’t known this friend as long as my friend with whom I had lunch yesterday, but she is just as dear to me.  The length of time that we have known our friends doesn’t really matter, does it? Of course, we treasure those whom we have known for decades – I have one friend I’ve known since I was 7 years old and I met her on my first day at school in Devon, having moved with my parents from Lancashire.  Also, my friend in Canada who was my bridesmaid and who had introduced me to my husband way back in 1962.  She is one of the dearest friends and an ocean separating us can’t ever come between us!  Another dear friend I also met at school and she became my next door neighbour when we were both young married women in the 1960s.

The friend who called on Monday afternoon I’ve known only a year or two, but we are totally on the same wavelength, as the saying goes. She said she was on her way to a charity shop with a pile of magazines but suddenly thought that I might like them?  Would I like magazines?  Does a cat not like cream?  I said that I would pass them on to a charity shop when I had finished with them …

The Simple Things – with which many of you will already be familiar – is a very attractive magazine, and I have enjoyed looking at these.  I’ve only browsed through them as yet and will soon sit down and take them more slowly, one at a time. The photography  is superb.

Although this magazine promotes the ‘simple things’, simple doesn’t always mean inexpensive:  for example, there are wonderful pages of recipes but then I look at the ingredients … a cake requiring rose petals and rosewater, and a ‘salon supper’ with dishes that include asparagus, parma ham and pomegranate.  Nothing wrong with such recipes, but they are neither simple nor inexpensive.   But there are features on interesting subjects and here and there a short story or a poem.  I particularly enjoy some pages of short, snappy features under the collective title ‘Miscellany’, which include funny little snippets of information, the kind which could appear in one of those up-market children’s magazines such as Aquila or Whiz-Pop-Bang.  There are also articles on things which bring comfort: scent in the home, flowers, and filling the house with hand-crafted items.  But this magazine is not about frugality and I don’t think it pretends to me, but it is about making our homes as lovely  as possible and enjoying yes, the simple things in life.  Which I think most of us would wish to do.  These magazines are like lemon drizzle cake on a summer’s afternoon, or a mug of hot chocolate by the fireside in winter.

Now for something completely different (as the Monty Python team used to say):

My version of the simple things, but here I’ve opted for frugality, too.  I used – I could say “used up” – cold cooked chicken (left over from Monday’s roast) with some macaroni and leeks and made a chicken, leek and pasta bake for lunch,  served with toast made from the last of the bread in the packet.  Three of us to lunch today, elder son was here as our daughter in law was at work and our grandson, still on half term from school, was at holiday club run by his former nursery.

Finally, did those of you in the UK see the wonderful sunset last night?  We don’t have a particularly good view of sunsets here, the view to the west being obscured by houses, but the whole sky was red, it looked wonderful.

And then, just as quickly as it arrived it began to fade …

The sky became purple, and then inky blue, eventually, not ten minutes later, night time had descended on the Close.

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. Totally agree with you about good friends, Margaret. I have lovely friends, some that I was at school with or worked with many years ago. We speak occasionally on the telephone and each time it is as if we had only spoken last week, despite the fact we are scattered around the country. Other, more local friends, are equally dear, and it is lovely to meet and spend even a short while with people we love and trust.
    The sunset here in the south west was truly beautiful last night, your photos are lovely. Nature really is wonderful. I tried to take a couple of pictures with my iPhone but it never truly shows the rich redness of the sky, they come out too yellow. You have managed to capture it perfectly.

    • Sadly, my small Sony camera didn’t really capture the redness of the sky last night, but I enhanced the photo very slightly so that it looked almost as red as it actually was. But for a small, fairly inexpensive camera, it does very well.
      How lovely that you also have friends of many years, those you were at school with or those with whom you worked. Sadly, one of my dearest friends died almost 4 years ago and I still miss her, but this is inevitable in life; but the memories are there, no one can take those away. I think it was Dr Johnson who said (and I paraphrase, as it’s years since I read the quotation) we must keep our friendships “in good repair” meaning we must keep in contact with those whom we love.

  2. Beautiful sunset. I really miss that where I now live, I cannot see neither the rising nor setting sun. It feels as though I’ve lost something precious. And I cannot see the rising moon either….. (sigh) My oldest friend, from my teenage years, has requested that I describe her as my friend of the longest duration rather than my oldest friend. The laughter over the years has never ever subsided, between us, and we both now that we are always there for each other. Very special indeed to have close friends. ps what is a Close?

    • That is sad, Ratnamurti, you have lost out on seeing the sunrise or the sunset. We don’t see the actual sunset, but the effect in the sky beyond the houses opposite to our house, but we do have a glimpse of the sea and the lovely sunrises in summer and early autumn.
      Oh, that’s funny – the friend of the longest duration rather than oldest friend! But those shared moments from long ago, they are something to treasure, aren’t they?
      A Close is a cul-de-sac, a road with only one entrance and you have to turn the car around to come back out again. It can also be called a no-through-road, and there’s a road sign with looks like a T with a heavy bar across the top so that drivers know that they can’t drive through the road to go elsewhere. This prevents traffic entering unless they are visiting someone in the Close.

  3. Your lunch of chicken, leek and pasta bake looks delicious. After all my talk of a splendid table last night, we wee both so tired and hot (the humidity was awful here yesterday afternoon) that it was all I could do to cook dinner, never mind fussing over presentation. Fortunately my husband is always a grateful recipient of anything I prepare and ate all of his dinner as well as my leftovers (I’d served myself too much). It was a simple dinner of (gluten free) spaghetti with bacon, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and black pepper. We were supposed to have a curry made by Himself but he was late home from work and I prefer curries that have time to cook through, to allow the flavours to develop. Today’s weather is much more sensible for eating curry anyway 🙂 …. I agree with your sentiments regarding friendship. The duration of friendship can be decades or months but it’s the shared values which matter. I’m fortunate to have a couple of dear friends whom I’ve known for 20 years and we know each other’s family histories, relationship disasters, careers, etc intimately and can fall into conversations easily regardless of the time spent apart. We have shared secrets, disasters and rejoiced in each other’s successes. When they hurt, I hurt and when they’re joyful so am I. Friendship which can endure time and many changes (marriages, family deaths, careers, babies, migration, etc) is to be cherished as not all are so fortunate.

    • I love spaghetti, but with a tomato sauce (home made but using canned chopped tomatoes). I’m not surprised you felt unable to lay the table when it’s so hot and humid! It’s as much as you can do in those circumstances to make a meal, I would think!
      Yes, shared values in friendship are what usually secure a friendship. Friendships are wonderful things, and should be cherished.

  4. Lovely sunset pictures – thank you. The roses are beautiful. Your lunch with your friend sounds and looks delicious. I agree with you about friends – we must keep up with them and they are so dear.

  5. I share your sentiments regarding friendship. Good friends are truly one of life’s blessings. I have old friends and new friends (who share similar interests and values) and they are all precious to me. I have one dear friend ( older than me) who is going through struggles now with losing her sight to macular degeneration and it is so sad to see someone who had such a love of reading now unable to read a book. We both loved watching the birds as they flock to the bird feeders in winter and now she is unable to see them. When friends go through struggles we share their pain and sometimes all we can do is be there with a hug and a listening ear. My friend is a retired OB GYN and we became friends when she delivered my two sons. Another dear friend who is now 88 befriended me not long after my dear mother passed away. She moved away from the area but we still chat on the phone frequently and get together for a visit which often includes a trip to the theatre. She is such an inspiration as she is kind and caring and always thinking of others.
    It is lovely that you enjoyed birthday lunch with your friend and the roses are lovely.

    • I am so sorry to hear about your friend losing her sight to macular degeneration; my brother in law has the same problem, Marilyn, and it’s really upsetting for him, especially as he can no longer drive. And it’s lovely that you have friends of all ages, one of my friends is in her late 90s and I’ve friends who are also 20 years younger than me. They are all valued and cherished, and now I have my friends here, who comment on my blog and whom I appreciate. Yes, friendships are to be valued, Marilyn; and thank you for your kind comments.

  6. Yes, here’s to friends, delicious food, interesting magazines and beautiful skies! You capture all of them wonderfully.

    • Thank you, Beth. It’s a chilly Sunday afternoon here in South Devon and I’ve just loaded the dishwasher after a very easy lunch – delicous home-made minestrone soup I made yesterday and then some little madeleine cakes (bought ones, but very nice ones) which I split and put raspberry jam in, and then made custard to go over them. Simple, but a lovely dessert. I even added a tiny splash of port (a bottle lurking in the kitchen I’d had since last Christmas, not really suitable for anything but cooking!) to the madeleines before I poured on the hot custard, it was like having a hot trifle and quite delicious.

  7. I’m afraid I’ve been AWOL on the blog reading front recently, but managed to catch up at the weekend and have discovered a new magazine, thanks to you, Margaret. I hadn’t seen The Simple Things before but after a struggle found it in Sainsbury’s yesterday. I say struggle because it was tucked away on the top shelf and if I hadn’t been consciously searching for it I wouldn’t have spotted it. So, when my chores are finished this afternoon I’m going to put my feet up with a cup of tea and have a read. It’s so nice to discover a new magazine that’s a wee bit different to the usual same old, same old! Not a “celeb” in site, yay!

    • Hello, Pamela, lovely to receive your comment. Yes, The Simple Things is quite different from most other magazines. It’s not one I would buy regularly, but now and again, but it was lovely to be given all those to read. I will take my time, reading them over the autumn and winter months. I can’t stand magazines filled with Z-list ‘celebs’, or even A-list ‘celebs’! Not my kind of thing at all. The English Home is still my favourite, though, as I love to see the beautiful houses even if we live in a more humble abode! One can always gain colour schemes and ideas of for display and so forth.

  8. What a beautiful sunset; so red.
    Lunch or eve just a coffee with a friend is one of life’s delights. ItreSure my friends.
    I’m with Pam – A magazine,coffee, a slice of cake and a warm room on a cold afternoon is another one.

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