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A Change in the Weather

Yesterday was a bright and beautiful day, cerulean sky, warm sunshine.  It couldn’t have been nicer for autumn, believe me.  Husband was working with elder son on some home repairs and so I had the use of our car and drove to Waitrose for the shopping.  The entrance had an attractive display of pumpkins and other decorative things for Hallowe’en (and I bought some bags of sweets for children who might knock on the door on Hallowe’en.)

Nothing on the shopping list was truly essential but as we’ve been ‘promised’ much colder weather this weekend, I like to be prepared.  Call it ‘siege mentality’ if you like, but there’s nothing as reassuring as a full larder/fridge/freezer when the weather suddenly turns too cold for us to venture out.  And when you are older, as we are, “too cold” can just mean a chilly wind;  it doesn’t necessarily mean four feet of snow on the ground.

Our usual modus operandi when shopping is for husband to grab a trolley while I get in to the supermarket as quickly as possible to look at the flowers while he then gathers our bags and our beakers for the ‘free’ coffee.  We whip around the aisles and are then off to Ilsham Valley or somewhere with our ‘free’ coffee and a sandwich A S A P.   But yesterday, on my tod, I really enjoyed browsing, something I’m not in the habit of doing.

However, browsing has a sting in its tail:  although I had my list,  because I wasn’t paying sufficient attention to it, I forgot several things.  How could I, when they were clearly printed on the list?  That’ll teach me to saunter and allow my eyes to wander all over the pretty boxes of Christmas goodies, won’t it?

Once home, I put the food away and put the beef cassserole I’d made the day before into the oven to re-heat.  Then I prepared some new potatoes and peas to go with it, ready to pop on to cook when husband came home. I’d had my ‘free’ coffee sitting in the sunshine in the car, with an egg & cress sandwich.  After I had tidied up the kitchen I sat down and watched Escape to the Country on TV and then opened the latest Period Living magazine, which you will see spread across my knees in the photo above.

This is the first of the December magazines I have bought, and as always it just seems odd to be faced with Christmas trees when we’ve not yet had Hallowe’en.  But it was ever thus, and next month, entitled the January 2019 issue, there will still be lots of Christmas items in it, I’m sure.

With the magazine there is a supplement on cosy ideas for this time of year and, not only that, a pretty calendar for next year …

I bought just one bunch of flowers as I have the pretty roses from my friend from Tuesday, and also the cyclamen in the pink lustre bowl are still looking good.  I chose deep wine red roses this time and they will look even better when they open from their tight buds …

Having an afternoon in which just to sit and relax is lovely at any time of the year, but in autumn, when I switch on the lamps and have a cup of tea, coffee or even hot chocolate and a new magazine to read, it is most enjoyable.  I then decided to crack open a few of our home-grown walnuts …

I’m not as good at shelling them as husband is, I tend to crack them so fiercely that they come out of their shells in tiny pieces, but they still taste good! (And that is water on the glass, by the way!)

I stocked up on fruit in the supermarket and while much of the fruit ‘lives’ in the fridge (the extra packet of tangerines, lemons, pears, apples, strawberries and raspberries) I put some of the fruit into a bowl in the kitchen, and I suddenly thought how pretty just an ordinary bowl of fruit can look, almost like a 17th century Dutch interiors painting …

Today, we drove to Totnes and visited Morrisons supermarket to buy the items which I’d overlooked yesterday.  The weather was fine but much colder than yesterday, and when we came out of the supermarket we decided – instead of going for a walk, as planned – to drive back via the little Devonshire village of Berry Pomeroy (best known for it’s ruined castle, said to be one of the most haunted in the country) and go to Otter Garden Centre for hot chocolate.  I took the photos below (through the car windscreen, hence some reflections on the glass) of the road from Totnes to Berry Pomeroy.

At Otter Garden Centre we made our way to the cafe where we had scones and hot chocolate. I have to say the hot chocolate was very sweet, rather too sweet for us.  I must remember next time to have coffee or tea!

We had a quick look at the plants, although we weren’t intending buying any today. Although I’m not keen on what I tend to call ‘knick-knackery’ I thought the display of robins rather attractive, even though you’d not find me buying anything like this for our garden or Christmas tree.

I wont show you the Christmas Reindeer that are back this year for a repeat performance (they are ‘singing’ reindeer and really they can’t help but bring a smile to your face) or the shop which has now been decked out with Christmas trees and fairy lights – I think it’s a bit premature for such things, but no doubt they have to do what they can to bring the customers in. Even the Christmas Tree farm nearby has now opened up with a Grotto and Christmas shop.  Instead, I will leave you with this lovely display of winter-flowering shrubs …

I hope you have a lovely weekend wherever you are.

Until next time.

About Margaret

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 really do not enjoy shopping. I go with my wee list, a couple of times a week, and I’m in and out quickly. I go to my local, as it’s small, so it doesn’t have heaps of choice. Too much choice, and I greatly overspend on things that I don’t really need. But I do like the way that you make it into an excursion. Much more gracious.

    • We are normally out of the store very quickly, Ratnamurti, but yesterday it was so peaceful in there and it’s such a lovely store it was nice to amble along the aisles (they are quite wide aisles, they’re not narrow as they are in some supermarkets in the UK) and just take my time and not feel hurried in any way. I really enjoyed it, actually, which surprised me. If only they had a cafe there … well, if they had I might still be there! But I have a list that we stick to unless we happen to have forgotten something which should’ve been on the list, seldom do we find we have any ‘impulse’ buys in the trolley. Mind you, I have one confession to make, or “fess up” as they say in modern parlance: when I found our favourite coffee ice cream was on offer, I did buy two instead of one!

  2. The popularity of Halloween (and all of the plastic tat associated with it) seems to be growing in our country, too. I’m not a fan of it but won’t criticise others’ involvement as I recall one of your readers took offence last year…..The photo of your loungeroom looks very cozy and inviting…. So good of the squirrels to leave you some walnuts 🙂 …. The photo of the robins is very pretty. We don’t have robins in Australia (at least I don’t think so) but we have plenty of brightly coloured parrots. Some are stunning in their plumage and also very clever. We have many magpies (black and white) around our home – large birds with beautiful song and their young (with grey plumage) stay with them for some time. They are very clever but have a reputation for swooping at people when nesting, causing injury at times, but fortunately ours seem quite chilled.

    • Oh dear, Lara, Hallowe’en has spread it’s nasty tentacles as far as Australia, has it? More plastic tat with which to fill the oceans. Oh dear, I can’t see fish wanting to dress as wizards and ghouls, can you? Seriously, it has become a big business thing now, and I’m sure a lot of money is being spent on this rubbish. At least when we were children and we went bobbing for apples, we could eat the apples and they didn’t pollute the earth.
      Yes, Mr and Mrs Squirrel have left us lots of nuts this year, but we don’t know why? They are very tasty nuts. We thought at first there might be something wrong with them, but no, they’re fine.
      Oh, robins are adorable. They’re feisty little birds, but they’re nosy, too. When husband is gardening, there’s always a robin close by, waiting for a juicy worm be might unearth, or just being plain nosy as to what he’s doing.
      We have far too many magpies, too; they tend to be nasty creatures that fight other birds and make a right racket in the tree.

  3. Yes, can we at least have Halloween over before the Christmas trees, etc come out!

    • I wish this were the case, Jeannine. We have Hallowe’en, and then our Bonfire Night (5th November), and then Armistice Day on 11th November and Remembrance Sunday (the Sunday that is closest to Armistice Day), all to come before Christmas … we don’t need to see decorated Christmas trees just yet. Sadly, the commercial world things differently.

  4. Too early for Christmas things although I just sent a couple of small parcels to cousins in NZ and Canada and was told they’ll only take five days. So someone will receive these a bit early! Last year I left things too late. We’ve grown some pumpkins at home but these will be for eating, I really like roast pumpkin and like seeing them in the shops, at least Halloween has encouraged pumpkin eating for some and lots of hard work carving them for others. Is your little grandson going to do Halloween Margaret? I bought a few sweets to hand out on the night.

    • I’ve never eaten roast pumpkin, so have no idea what it tastes like but overall I’m not keen on squash although I can say that I’ve only had butternut squash soup and I thought it overrated. I’m not sure whether our little grandson is going to do Hallowe’en, Heather, but I have bought sweets to give to any little ones who call at the door. At least now supesrmarkets actually sell bags of sweets specially for this purpose – before it was a case of buying a tin of Quality Street or Rose’s and handing out those, when children love the jellies and chewy sweeties in lurid colours.

      • Oh roast pumpkin is lovely and I think the best way to cook it as roasting brings out the sweetness. I leave the skin on. Cook it longer than you might think – the sweetness will reward you. Any leftovers can be added to a salad (couscous and other roasted veg, for example). I used to cook only butternut pumpkin but switched to jap pumpkin a few years ago when that was all available one day and haven’t looked back. Pumpkin is popular in Australia. Mind you, I hate it as a kid and didn’t develop a taste for it until my 20s 🙂

        • It sounds lovely, but I’m not all that keen on sweet things served as savoury, Lara. I’m not keen on sweet potatoes (which, of course, aren’t potatoes at all) although we had some as sweet potato chips when I went to lunch with my friend during last week and they were fine, but overall, not keen on them. If some roast pumpkin was on a menu I might be tempted to try it, though, because of your recommendation.

  5. Hello Margaret, I agree with you that it’s too early for Christmas decorations in the store but the same thing is happening here in the US. Regarding the pumpkin discussion, pumpkin pie is a staple here in the US beginning with the Autumn season and usually served at ourThanksgiving tables. I think it’s an acquired taste for those who’ve not had it before. When my daughter worked overseas for a few years, she missed not being able to buy a can of Libby’s pumpkin puree to make a pumpkin pie. But, as Lara suggested above, it’s easy to make your own pumpkin puree by baking the pumpkin and blending it in the blender. I’ve never eaten pumpkin as a savory dish but I have eaten butternut squash as a savory as it’s very popular. I hope you had a wonderful day and are keeping warm. Regards, Pat 🍁🍂

    • Hello, Pat. I’ve never had pumpkin pie, but I do know how popular it is in the US and is served, along with turkey (but not with turkey, if you understand me!) for Thanksgiving. We’ve had a quiet day, the clocks have ‘gone back’ 1 hour now and it’s dark by 5 pm, which I do not like. We went to bed later last night, and stopped in bed longer this morning, to try and make the change easier, for it always makes me feel out of synch for a good few days. It is cold now, but not freezing cold, just autumn/early winter cold, but we’re snug and cosy in our home. We’re just about to watch the first part of the new John Le Carre serial, The Little Drummer Girl (which I expect will be shown in the US in due course.)

  6. Hello Margaret, I’m not a fan of butternut squash soup either, it does seem to be on the menu at so many places here now. I do like to have soup especially in the winter but my heart sinks if that’s the only soup offered on the menu. We’ve had a quiet day too, the clocks going back do make a difference don’t they, like you I’ll be out of flunter for a few days now. Did you enjoy The Little Drummer Girl? I thought it made a promising start. I liked The Night Manager too. Keep cosy.

    • Yes, it’s often the “soup of the day” isn’t it, Jan, without a choice. Indeed, I’ve stopped altogether buying soup on a menu in a cafe or restaurant as I make soup so much myself and know how we like it (not too salty, not overpoweringly peppery, band also the consistency, neither too thick or too thin.)
      I like your expression “out of flunter” which I’ve not heard before, but it describes the feeling after the clocks have changed admirably!
      Yes, The Little Drummer Girl did make a promising start – we loved The Night Manager – and we also enjoyed Berlin Station on More4 (which is on Thursday nights – you could get the first part on catch up).

      • Oh good, thank you for that information I’ll watch that too.
        After a very frosty start we’ve had a beautiful sunny day, I hope you’ve had the same.

        • While The Little Drummer Girl had reasonably good speech, we found that Berlin Station was marred yet again by mumbling actors (it didn’t help that for we English they were speaking American-English and gabbling at top speed for most of the time … they know their lines, but we don’t, so it would help if everyone just slowed down just a tiny bit, too.) But I Googled the prog and got the story line so I then knew what they were doing! This does help in this kind of convoluted plot-line drama, I find! I did try to put the subtitles on Berlin Station, but there didn’t appear to be any, or rather, they weren’t available on catch-up.

        • I’ve looked, I’ll watch that first episode tonight, it looks good.
          Well I certainly am feeling out of flunter, it’s been hard to motivate myself to do much in the house today. All intentions to catch up with some house jobs have fallen by the wayside. Any inspiration welcome!
          Husband has been under the weather for the past few days with a heavy cold so perhaps that could be creeping up on me too. Have a cosy evening.

  7. Your comment popped up as I posted mine. Oh no, not mumbly speech! We do have difficulty hearing what people say in dramas, husband is deaf in one ear but I have perfect hearing and still struggle. We have the sub titles on for most things to make it easier for him and I appreciate them too for the dramas.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one with perfect hearing, Jan, and still can’t understand much of what is gabbled in dramas. It is the modern way of acting, I think, but there again, a lot of the speech today is simply bad and surely there’s no excuse for it, they attend drama school – don’t they learn how to speak clearly, how to project any more?

      • I watched it last night on the catch up thingy Margaret, I did find the subtitles on the task bar at the bottom (where the stop/start control and timer is) on the right hand side. There are four symbols and the second one the ‘S’ is for the subtitles. I was glad to have found them because I wouldn’t have understood much of it otherwise!

  8. I love looking at Christmas stuff but am much more selective than I used to be about what I get. I have a little personal tradition of buying one tree ornament each year but it has to be ‘special’ in some way. If I don’t find one, then I don’t get one that year.
    Yes, I have way too many ornaments, but one more never went amiss!

    • Most of the items that could be described as ornamental – paintings, ceramics, glassware – we have inherited, Joy, from my husband’s mother (i.e. from her we inherited our lovely longcase – grandfather – clock) and my mother (just about everything else you can see on photos of our home, with the exception of the furniture, although there are small items of furniture that belonged to my family, and larger items are with our younger son as he loves properly-made antique furniture which has withstood the test of time and still looks good.) Therefore, I’m seldom tempted to buy ‘ornaments’ either at Christmas or any other time of the year; indeed, in what I refer to as my Resources Cupboard, I have 8 large boxes – and they are large, those plastic ones with lids for storage – of well-wrapped ceramics, glass, indeed all kinds of things from a pair of Indian slippers to a brass smoking set that my uncle brought back in his kit back from WW1 (of which there is quite a story.) I have a slightly jaundiced approach to all the Christmas tat, I’m afraid. I know a lot of people like it, but I just find it unnecessary. This isn’t to say I don’t like to decorate our home at Christmas, because I do, but in a very small way and with natural things – bowls of our own walnuts, chocolates, Christmas cards (which I love) and a real Christmas tree. I know you can buy very realistic artificial trees now, they are rather splendid (and a splendid price) and you can dig them out each year, but to me that isn’t the point – it’s bringing a real tree into the home that is what I like – and I’m not sad that it’s been cut down before it reaches its prime; they are grown for the purpose. Like you, I look for one or two new baubles for the tree but if I don’t find anything I really like, then I just done buy any.

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