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An Autumn Weekend

We have not been out this weekend.  Yesterday, it was simply too wet for us even to want to venture out; today, we were up late and then husband went to see his brother who doesn’t live all that far away (I don’t call that ‘going out’).

And so I’ve been cooking and, really, doing not-very-much.  I have written my monthly letter to a friend, though, someone who doesn’t use email, but that hardly counts as being busy, does it?

I thought I’d start with the flowers – the apricot roses have now opened out beautifully, they are rays of sunshine on the mantelpiece.

As I was saying, I’ve not done very much.  Kept the house tidy but not done any cleaning to speak of, resting and reading the paper, and cooking our main meals.  On Friday, a new DVD and a book arrived.  When does a book not arrive in this house, I wonder!

Yes, I know, DVDs, like CDs,  are now ‘old fashioned’; people ‘download’ films and ‘stream’ music, but I don’t think this film is yet available and for that, and in any case, I don’t want to shell out a monthly fee to Netflix (which I’ve done in the past and regretted) for the film not to be available, and for the only films available – as I’ve previously experienced – to be those which we don’t care for (which is most films these days, with the exception of such films as Bridge of Spies, Hampstead, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, etc. films which don’t rely on CGI, or a weak story but with lots of ‘action’)

I had been looking forward to this, and I was enjoying it yesterday when dear little grandson phoned and asked to come and see us? He’s only five and a half but knows how to use the telephone, and really, how can one refuse a request from a dear little five year old?  So we ‘paused’ the film and will watch that later today. Grandson had great fun with his Granddad making paper planes. As son later texted, “what five year old needs a tablet when they can have so much fun with a paper plane?  Since he got home he’s decorated it and added a pilot.”

I don’t know whether it’s our brains these days, or whether actors speak so fast because everything seems to have speeded up in the last half century; whether our hearing is at fault; or whether they really do slur their words, “wanna” for “want to” (even the subtitles had Meryl Streep saying “wanna”) but we find we have to use the subtitles – especially for American films – more and more, and yet we’re not stoopid! We can follow a story … well, we can if we can hear what the actors say!   This didn’t happen in the days of Burt Lancaster, Geoff Chandler (remember him?), James Garner, Van Johnson, Rock Hudson, Charlton Heston et al, or even when French and Italian or Egyptian actors were in the leading roles, such as Rosanno Brazzi in South Pacific or Louis Jourdan in Gigi or Omar Sharif in Dr Zhivago .  You could hear every word uttered by Katherine Hepburn or Bette Davies or Joan Crawford, but in this film, where Meryl plays the role of Katharine Graham, owner of The Washington Post, there is a lot of whispered, half-spoken, or slurred words.  It really is becoming more and more annoying. It’s actually more than that.  We have paid to hear a film as well as see it.  We’re being short-changed.

Having said that (sorry, cliche!) the film is good and worth watching.

I ordered the book below after seeing part – sadly only part – of an interview with Isabel Allende on TV. I knew of her connection to the ousted President of Chile, but I’d never read any of her books, but I thought I’d order her most recent:

I won’t be reading this quite yet because of the book in which I’m currently engrossed.  And “engrossed” is the most apt word because were I not writing this post for you, I’d be reading it some more.  It arrived yesterday afternoon, only hours after I’d ordered it.   It is the most beautifully written novel I’ve read so far this year.

My attention was drawn to this book on Friday, as the paper ran a short feature on this debut novelist …

… and the book sounded just my cup of tea.  And it is.  Without a shadow of a doubt.  It is a simple enough concept: letters between a farmer’s wife in Suffolk and the curator of a museum in Denmark, but my goodness, the prose is some of the most eloquent I’ve read in a very long time.  It is funny at times, but most of the time it is extremely moving.  And, as in life, sometimes it’s what isn’t said but which is implied (or do I mean ‘inferred’?) that is so subtle, so clever.  Do put this on your reading list.   As the headline in the paper says, it is on the Costa prize shortlist.   And it most certainly deserves to be.

Yesterday, being such a miserable day. I made a sausage casserole for our supper.  Breakfast was porridge, lunch was wicked because I cooked some Waitrose frozen cocktail sausage rolls … but we’d not had any for months and months and suddenly we had that Pork Pie Moment.  You know what that is?  Well, we know we shouldn’t eat pork pies. They are Not Good For Us. Far too much animal fat. Well, just too much fat full stop.  But every so often we crave a pork pie. We give in, have one, feeling guilty at such wicked enjoyment, and then we are satisfied, we don’t want another for perhaps six months or more.

Well, we had that Pork Pie Moment and wanted sausage rolls, so they found their way into our supermarket trolley on Thursday.  It’s hardly worth buying sausage meat and making pastry when they taste this good from the freezer – I’m all for short cuts when the result is as good as home made.  I baked the lot (but they are very small!)  and we shared them out for lunch, with some of the soup I’d made the day before, plus some cheese and celery.

The sausage casserole was lovely. The stock, as I’ve mentioned before, is made from Katy cider plus veggie Oxo cubes, plus a good sprinkling of dried sage.

The casserole, where it is ‘started off’ on the hob before it is transferred to the oven

When it is ready for serving, I add a good dollop of creme fraiche, and also test the seasoning. It sometimes needs a little more veggie Oxo, sometimes some salt, but generally speaking, it’s just about right.  It contains pork sausages which have Bramley apple and sage in them, onions, shallots, leeks, celery and a dessert apple (cored and sliced, but not peeled.)

I served it at our dining table for a change – we tend to eat in the kitchen – and we had just new potatoes with it.

We have had our Sunday lunch (roast chicken) and now I’m going to close and curl up on the sofa with the Sunday papers, a h.w.b. at my back, and the lovely book. Once the football which my husband is watching is over, we will continue to see the last part of the DVD of The Post.  A lovely lazy weekend. We all need those every so often.

Until next time.

About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. I know exactly what you mean about not being able to understand what actors are saying! I find it particularly troubling with British films and television shows, but I always assume it’s because I’m an American and have a bit of trouble with not being used to the accent. Sometimes it seems there’s too much background noise or music in the film, sometimes they’re just talking too low, sometimes they’re talking too quickly – oh, it’s just everything. I’m not sure it’s a problem of age either as I don’t seem to have this issue with older films (like you say). I don’t like having to turn the sound up so loud, but I don’t know what else to do!

    • Margaret Powling

      I hadn’t thought that the English accent might be a problem to Americans, Jeannine, but yes … you say too-mae-toe, we say too-mah-toe, etc. Putting up the volume doesn’t work because the speech is still slurred or rapid and that puts up the music or background noise, to. We resort to subtitles whenever possible even though I’m not deaf, it really is annoying. Why do we want everything faster and faster, including speech? When we hear someone speaking well on TV we remark on it … it is the exception these days, not the rule!

  2. Thanks for the book recommendation – I have written it down. Yes, I am amazed at all the books that keep arriving on your doorstep. You must be a very fast reader – or have piles everywhere, waiting to be read!

    • Margaret Powling

      You are right with your second assumption – piles of books waiting to be read, Jeannine! Sometimes they wait so long that they then get put to one side and then land on shelves – hence my Dior books bought years ago and still unread.

  3. Wasn’t the weather dreadful yesterday?!! Your sausage casserole looks lovely and so apt for the day. Did you use the Waitrose sausages with bramley apple? I’ve not tried the sausage rolls – I tend to make my own using Delia’s recipe which adds sage and onion to the sausage meat. They only get made for special occasions though. H.W.B’s are always in use in thus household – we have one each and very comforting they are too!!

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, you are right, the Waitrose sausages with Branlet apple and very good they are, too! Hey, I’m beginning to sound like an advert for Waitrose, but I only speak as I find and if we didn’t like them, I’d say so, too.
      Yes, we have a h.w.b. each, and they are a great and inexpensive comfort in cold weather! Cheaper than turning the heating up!

  4. Your food always looks amazing Margaret.x

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Marlene. Trouble is, casseroles don’t look very photogenic, even though they taste so good! How can you make sausages (which look pale even if they have been sauteed to start with) look attractive? I’ve no idea. But it’s a lovely casserole, believe me.

  5. My husband struggles often with mumbling on TV even though he doesn’t have a hearing problem. It’s less of a problem for me but occasionally there is a programme where I struggle too.
    To echo what Marlene said – your food does always look good. I’ve been baking today too. I made two fruit cakes which I’ve frozen ready to be Christmas cakes (don’t like traditional ones).
    My pork pie moment (maybe once a year) is a bottle of lucozade!! And I never make my own sausage rolls or puff pastry but always buy it ready made. I’ve heard chefs Gordon Ramsey and James Martin say that it’s so good that it makes preparing ones own rather pointless.

    • Margaret Powling

      The mumbling of actors seems nationwide, if not worldwide, Eloise. Why, when so many people complain about this, do they continue to mumble. Can’t pepole speak properly any more. It’s simply laziness, there’s no excuse. We don’t have to speak with a plum in our mouths, just speak correctly. And that is correcT-ly, so many say correc-ly, with a glottal stop. I want to ban glottal stops! This evening, we have just watched a prog on Cliveden, the 5* hotel close to Windsor and which was once the home of the wealthy Astor family. It was lovely but we had to put the subtitles on as so many of the staff gabbled so quickly and because of this ran words together. The worst offender was the young woman in charge of weddings. A lovely young woman, no doubt, and good at her job, but we had great difficulty understanding what she was saying. She was not an actor, but really, when speech is something we have over animals, let us celebrate our use of language by speaking as well as we can.
      Oh, I’d not thought of Lucozade. That takes me right back to childhood … it was what my mother gave me when I was unwell, that or Rose’s lime cordial, very much watered down.
      Yes, I use frozen puff pastry. After Christmas I made a great puff pastry pie which contains the left over turkey, bacon, and mushrooms in a red wine sauce (home-made, of course). It’s really lovely.

  6. Another lovely post
    Its like drinking hot chocolate

  7. I too, can barely make out what actors are saying. Is it just me? Or age? Or do they mumble and not use their lips? I suspect mumble and in some cases this is a necessity due to having had junk inserted into their faces. Or is this me just being critical? I totally prefer watching and listening to English actors as they are proper actors who play a part. (end of grumpy rave) I want to copy your sausage casserole. Margaret, you are inspiring us to be good cooks!

    • Margaret Powling

      You are not alone, Ratnamurti, and as I’ve said to Eloise, we should all be trying to speak as as well as we can. Oh, if only actors and those on TV and in films tried just that bit harder! They know their lines, we’re often hearing them for the first time. Do they think that whispering, speaking at the equivalent of the speed of sound, and slurring their words is the way forward? Soon, we won’t be saying words at all, we will have reverted to squeaks and grunts!
      Oh, that is great … I never once thought that my cookery (or anything else come to that) would inspire people to be good cooks!

  8. Your lovely dishes always inspire me. I enjoy your listing of ingredients for some of the soups or salads. Yesterday I made leek and potato soup. Somehow or other, it seemed to have helped clear up some nasal congestion that had made my sleep apnea events soar. Last night, all was calm and back down to normal. My sleep machine tells me how many times an hour I stop breathing.

    Last week I took a list of books you’ve recommended to my little library. They were able to provide four out of five. One was even in the library (the rest needed to be requested from within the system) and so I happily walked out with Bella Figura by Kamin Mohammadi. I devoured that one in two days. Completely entranced by her lovely descriptions of Florence and her fascinating encounters with people she meets there. Internet searches have completed more of her story for me. And now I find myself wanting to find an Italian grocery store to discover some of the best olive oil. I love the way she describes a meal of many courses, one course being as simple as a single radish.

    Your flowers are just beautiful.

    I saw The Post in a theatre when it first came out (no subtitles) and thoroughly enjoyed it and recommended it to others. I discovered today that Meryl Streep is exactly my age, two days younger. She does not believe in cosmetic surgery. She thinks it “freezes” your face. I have an old Vogue magazine where she graces the cover looking perfectly lovely at age 60, the oldest one ever to appear on the cover.

    Sometimes those quiet days at home are some of the loveliest. And they help us recharge our batteries.

    • Margaret Powling

      I am delighted that my soup helped clear your nasal congestion, but really, you’re not meant to sniff it! Only joking, but I’m sorry you have nasal congestion and even more sorry you have sleap apnoea (we spell it slightly differently here in the UK).I hope you enjoyed the soup.
      My goodness, Honey Bee, fancy your little library having four out of five books you have listed from my blog and it’s interesting to read you’ve found out more about Karin Mohammadi after reading Bella Figura.
      We have yet to see the final part of The Post, yesterday husband was watching rugby on TV and then in the evening we watched three programmes we enjoyed one after the other, which is most unusual: a canal journey with actors Timothy West and his wife Prunella Scales (who is now suffering from dementia, but is able to enjoy such holidays) in Portugal; then the latest series of Escape to the Chateau with Dick and Angel Strawbridge; and then a programme about the historic house, Clivden, which once belonged to the wealthy Astors and is now a 5* hotel (where Meghan spent her night before her wedding to Prince Harry.) I hope to be able to watch the rest of The Post today. I’m certainly with Meryl Streep on cosmetic surgery. We’ve earned our wrinkles!

  9. Another enjoyable post and I enjoyed reading all of the comments 😃

    I’m certainly with you on not opting for cosmetic surgery. Botox has become increasingly popular here in Australia and I’ve seen many examples of tv ‘celebrities’ whose faces are positively frozen. Each to their own, I suppose 🙂

  10. Greetings Margaret. I’m a bit late in commenting as I see you’ve a new post this morning. Your roses are absolutely beautiful. And, the food is making me hungry. We’re awaiting for the plumber this morning as our water heater has a leak at the fitting. So, I think my kitchen is closed today 🙂 I watched The Post on a recent flight to Turkey and thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t realize the significance of this story as I was too young back then to care. Meryl Streep is an amazing actor but to me she has a distinct way of speaking. I can see where this can be a bit difficult to listen to. I hope you’re having a lovely day and I will sign off so I can read your lastest post! Pat xx

    • Margaret Powling

      We finished watching The Post yesterday and really enjoyed it. I thought Meryl Streep was excellent, especially towards the end when she had to choose whether or not to publish the story of the government’s continued involvement in Vietnam for decades. Indeed, she reminded me rather of her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. I think I liked her best in Florence Foster Jenkins – oh, I loved that film! But yes, she has a distinct way of speaking, not always easy to listen to.
      Yes, we’ve been having a nice day, Pat, although the weather has been atrocious, torrential rain in this part of Devon. Thank goodness we had a walk yesterday!
      I hope the bathroom leak has been sorted by the time you read this.

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