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A Thursday Medley

We have had rain for several days now, and the darkness – while not giving me SAD –  has, nonetheless, made me sleepy during the day, but conversely, I’ve been unable to sleep at night.  This is the usual pattern I experience after the clocks have ‘gone back’.  I often go to bed tired and then sleep doesn’t happen and I’m still wide awake until about 3 am.  What do I do? Well, I don’t just lie there, I get up and make tea, or Ovaltine;  I read, and eventually, I’m tired enough to go back to bed.

Husband is much the same, arthritis plagues both of us, but hey, we have our limbs and we don’t – as yet – have any joint replacements; we’ve much to be thankful for.  We don’t have to get up early the next day for work and so, if we don’t wake up until gone 9 am, then so what?

And gone 9 am it was on several days this week; indeed one morning we didn’t wake up until gone 10 am and the first thing I knew was that the window cleaner was propping his ladder against the wall!  I always make him coffee, and pile up a plate with biscuits for him, and he was surprised to see me still in my dressing gown, I think!

After getting up late on such days we usually have porridge, regardless of the time of the morning, but one morning I made us a cooked breakfast.  The photo above looks like quite a lot of food in some ways, but it’s just one egg, one rasher of lean bacon, half a tomato and some toast.  At around 11.30 am, it was more like early lunch than late breakfast.

I was up reasonably on time yesterday as I had my manicure appointment at 11 am.  How I am enjoying having my nails ‘done’ once every 6 weeks.  Indeed, I’m surprised that (a) I’ve been indulging in this little luxury now – for it is a luxury, make no mistake –  since last April and (b) why I’d not considered it before I was 73 (now 74) to have this done!  The cost, of course, plays a part, but the pleasure I receive from seeing my nails nicely kept more than makes up for the cost.  My lovely manicurist shapes the nails, buffs them, deals with the cuticles, exfoliates my hands and arms, massages then, and then there are four coats of nail polish:  base, two colour coats and a top coat, and finally, cuticle oil.  Sometimes, if we decide the colour needs it, she will apply a 3rd coat of colour.  What a treat.

My manicurist, who knows of my liking for blue & white tableware, asked me if I would like a tureen in blue & white pottery that she no longer had a use for? Would I?  You bet I would!  But how kind of her to remember that I had told her of my blue & white Burleigh ware, and to think of me as a possible recipient for this lovely tureen.

It doesn’t match the Burleigh ware (on the right here, above) but that doesn’t matter one bit, it’s blue & white and I love it.  I have now put grapes into it …

And I think it will look lovely with  green apples in it, or lemons in the summer, or nuts or tangerines at Christmas.

Today, we did the shopping. I’ve not started on Christmas shopping yet but I did add the ingredients for the Christmas cake which I hope to make this weekend. I seldom make it earlier and often very much later.  After so many Christmases, I could ‘do’ Christmas standing on my head, so to speak. We don’t make a lot of fuss and I certainly don’t faff making lots of do-dahs as some people do.  OK if you enjoy fussing over Christmas, but I’ve never been one for doing more than decorating with a tree, flowers, fruit and greenery from the garden (or when our sons were little, going to the woods and collecting holly – perhaps this isn’t permitted any more, but we had great fun on these annual expeditions for the prickly stuff!)

(This illustration, although from John Goodall’s book, An Edwardian Christmas, reminds me of collecting holly with our two sons when they were young)

And so, shopping first today, and then we had lunch at the golf club.  The kitchen hadn’t had a delivery of fish this morning, which isn’t surprising as the weather has been awful and perhaps the fishing boats didn’t put to sea.  Instead, we had small portions of ham, egg and chips.  This is the small portion!  I dread to think what a large portion would’ve been like! I couldn’t finish this, but my goodness, it was so good, and the ham so lovely and tender and succulent.

Although we had torrential rain overnight, it was fine when we left home to do our shopping and rather than put on a raincoat or my quilted coat or even one of my two new quilted jackets, I thought I’d give my new green/blue herringbone coat an outing.  It looked so forlorn, hanging there in the wardrobe, not to have seen light of day yet, so I said, “Come on, then, but don’t fuss if it rains!”

Sorry, I have these flights of fancy every so often! Anyway, I decided to wear my new coat, and I attached a brooch I’d not worn for many years to the lapel.  This was given to me by a dear penfriend (we met once, more than 30 years ago) who lived in Glasgow and who sadly died 20 years ago from ovarian cancer at an early age.  While not a good photo of the brooch, the colours went perfectly with the emerald/navy  material, and it also gave me pause to think and reflect on our lovely penfriendship over many years.

The club house had been decorated for Christmas and looked very festive.

Home again now, and all the food has been put away in the fridge, freezer and larder.  Husband – who has been cleaning out the third of the three glass-fronted cabinets in the kitchen for me, bless him, as he knows I don’t like climbing up to reach the top shelves  – has just brought me a cup of tea and a Marlborough bun, treat of the week from Waitrose!  We only have one of these each week – we began to buy more and to freeze them, but apart from all those extra calories, some things don’t freeze well, and this is one of them.  In case you aren’t familiar with Marlborough buns, they look like this …

This is a photo I took some time ago – I’m already half way through eating today’s bun!

The shopping was expensive today as I’d added some extra things, including Plymouth Gin (we have only about two bottles a year, which isn’t exactly extravagant, is it?) and a bottle of Tia Maria, a Christmas treat.  I might manage to squeeze a bottle of Cointreau out of the budget, too, and I’m also partial to Advocaat or Baileys.   I feel sorry for real hardened drinkers;  I can’t imagine spending so much on what is actually poison every week of the year.  Indeed, we don’t care for wine, preferring a G&T or a glass of beer, or even chilled sparkling water.

I also bought my latest magazine which has a lovely English Cottages supplement (plus Waitrose’s own monthly magazine) and now I’m off to the sofa with my tea and also the book I am currently reading. I’m sorry to say I’ve given up on the Isabel Allende book that I bought recently.  I have little doubt she’s an excellent writer, but I didn’t care for her main characters or even the story and when it came to describing gangs in Guatemala (and elsewhere in South America) I didn’t wish to read any more.  I know awful people exist and there are the most awful atrocities in the world, but I see enough of that on the news.  I don’t wish to be sickened by descriptions of tattoos on the whites of the eyes by gang members, rendering them blind.  If you’re not enjoying a book by page 50 I think it’s time to let go.  It’s in my basket ready for the charity shop.  (Strangely enough, while still upsetting, the descriptions of the Nazi concentration camps in The Designer, or the appalling treatment meted out by the Gestapo in Evelyn Anthony’s The Occupying Power, while still powerfully written, seemed acceptable in the context of the books.)

I am, however, enjoying the late Evelyn Anthony’s novel, The House of Vandekar, which I bought a few weeks ago.

It was published in 1988, hard to imagine that that is now 30 years ago, but she is such an excellent story teller I can’t wait to curl up on the sofa and read some more. All readers will know this feeling; that treat in store.  (I have now ordered a copy of another Evelyn Anthony novel, The Legacy.)

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. Margaret. It really has been very dark recently due to the wet and windy weather we’ve been having…but just think only three to go to the winter solstice. Mind you the “days get longer and colder” also comes to mind. I tend to enjoy the shorter days just now, I can’t sleep when it’s very light in the mornings! Hope you enjoy making your Christmas cake, I’ve made a couple of smaller ones, I bought a Kenwood mixer a couple of years ago and it’s been a life saver for my wrists, otherwise I would have given up making things like heavy cakes and pastry etc. Have a good weekend yourself.

    • Margaret Powling

      It’s strange, but I can sleep as the sky lightens, Heather! I must be very odd, but in the day, when it’s dark, I feel very lethargic and have no difficulty in nodding of during the afternoon (if I’m at home, of course). But come bedtime, I get into bed, expecting to sleep and then, for the last couple of weeks’, it hasn’t happened. But never mind, if I sleep on of a morning, it doesn’t really matter, does it?
      I’ve never had a mixer, but I don’t know where I’d keep one; the worktop space is at a premium as it is. Elder son gave me his ‘old’ mixer but I’ve only used it occasionally for making bread. I could use it for cakes, I suppose, but so far I’ve been able to continue to make them even though my wrists aren’t as strong as they were.

  2. Three what you might ask?! I meant three weeks.

  3. Hello Margaret. I do hope you are doing well with the rainy weather and winter approaching. We are having a long awaited rain day today and it’s wonderful for our parched land but very dangerous to many areas here. My husband suffers from arthritis so I can understand what you’re going through. It seems that the wet weather does not help it either. Your new coat with enameled pin look lovely together. How sweet that this pin holds dear memories of your friend. That makes it more special. I agree with you about books/new authors. I, too, don’t like dark, uncomfortable stories. That doesn’t mean my head is in the sand but like you, I read and hear about enough of this on the news. Have a lovely evening and I look forward to reading your next post. Pat xx

  4. Margaret Powling

    Hello, Pat, and I notice another name attached to your comment – how annoying this is, and I don’t know how to prevent this. I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to read about awful things by way of entertainment. Of course, the novel might progress to much nicer things, but this sequence has already put me off the rest of the book. There are too many lovely novels to read without wasting time on something I’m not enjoying. Like you, my head isn’t in the sand, and I do what I can in my own way to help others (charities, etc) but I don’t want novels full of misery, too.
    Here again we have a difference of language, Pat. What we call a brooch you call a pin. A pin to us is a totally different type of thing, we might have a tie pin, which clips or staples a tie together, and a pin is literally that, a sharp piece of steel you push through the lapel with an ornamental top to it. but what I was wearing is definitely a brooch (to rhyme with coach or poach, not to rhyme with tooth or proof). I love our different words for the same thing. Similarly a vest to us is a piece of underwear that men wear under their shirts, and pants are Y-fronts or jockeys or boxers, and they wear those under their jeans or trousers. If a chap here went out in vest and pants he wouldn’t be properly dressed. Have a lovely evening yourself, Pat.

    • Your reply brought a smile to my face as I enjoy learning more about our language differences 🙂 My American English idea of a pin is explained here : https://oureverydaylife.com/brooch-vs-pin-12581098.html It’s fun for me to learn and I thank you for sharing with me the definitions. As for vest, it is something that is worn over a shirt and can be a zippered vest or a sweater vest; either having no sleeves. Pants to us is outerwear like jean pants or others. Trousers conjure up an image of dress pants or tailored pants as what you would wear with a suit. It’s a good thing I’m not in England and wanting to buy pants or underwear as I’m sure I’d make a fool of of myself! Thank you for your informative reply dear friend.

      • Margaret Powling

        Your vest is our waistcoat, I believe, a part of a three-piece suit, i.e. jacket, trousers and waistcoat but to you jacket (or coat), vest and pants. What do you call those parts of underwear that for men we call vest and pants, then? I’m talking the white T-shirt some chaps wear under a shirt, or what we call a singlet, which doesn’t have the high neck and short sleeves? In the 1950s, sports trousers (your pants) would’ve been called “slacks” in the UK, a word for them which has dropped from fashion. And, depending on the material, they are sometimes simply called jeans or chinos (a soft material usually for a casual trouser.) Formal trousers are always referred to as trousers. I will look at your link you have kindly sent. Thank you.

        • Hello again Margaret. So, your” waistcoat” would be part of a three piece suit; a suit vest. The word vest today is commonly used to describe a piece of outerware such as a fleece or quilted vest. The “t-shirts” you are describing are called undershirts. And men’s “pants” can describe chinos, khakis, dress pants and more. The words slacks and trousers are also used but it seems that the word pants is the most common. I love learning about these terms as it reminds me when I read Victorian novels and many times have to look up the words that are not familiar to me. It seems that our American English language has forgotten many of the proper terms that were once used to describe clothing.

          • Margaret Powling

            Yes, that’s right, Pat. A “waistcoat” (or the old fashioned people used to refer to them as “weskits”!) is part of a three-piece suit. Those fleeces or quilted vests used to be called “body warmers” here and then we adopted the French term, “gilet” (pronounced, of course, “gee-lay” with a soft “g”). By now, America having been settled for hundreds of years, you have your own words for things, even though they are English words. Such as “purse” for what we call a “handbag”. A “purse” is just the small wallet for loose change, and a “wallet” is just a little larger, often with its own place for loose change and sections for credit cards and paper money. If we are out and about, say in the golf club, and we made to leave, husband might say to me, “Don’t forget your bag …” rather than “Don’t forger your purse …” although if my “purse” (for money) was on the table, he’d also say that, too!

  5. I know exactly what you mean about not enjoying a book by page 50. There are three books I’m still reading. My mother assured me that I would love the Lord of the Rings Trilogy so I dutifully started reading Part One. It was ok but I prefer my books a bit more like real life. I started Part Two, got about a third of the way through and there I’ve stayed for the past thirty years!!!!! When I was in my early twenties I decided to read all the classic novels. I worked my way through all the Jane Austen and Bronte novels ( a pleasure ), ploughed my way through all the Thomas Hardy and the Barchester Chronicles by Trollope and finished all the George Eliot novels. Then I tried Dickens. Oliver Twist and Great Expectations were fine but I’ve been stuck in the middle of Nicholas Nickleby and Bleak House for about 25 years now and don’t plan on going back to them any time soon.

    • Forgot to say in the original comment all the trawlers have been in since Tuesday which may explain the lack of fish.

    • Margaret Powling

      I have never read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. I first encountered these when I was in the 6th form at school and one of the girls was always hiding away in some corner, reading these books. I’m afraid fantasy is not for me. I’ve not read Harry Potter either, nor watch the films. I’ve obviously seen extracts on TV, it’s been almost impossible to ignore Harry Potter, hasn’t it, but it just isn’t for me. Similarly, I don’t like sci-fi. You have certainly done your duty to the classics – I was put off many of them at school, having to read Thomas Hardy’s The Trumpet Major for ‘O’ level and also we read The Mayor of Casterbridge when we were about 13 or 14, far too young to understand what it was all about. I’m sure Hardy didn’t write these books with children in mind, so why give them to children to read? Madness, if you ask me. Yes, good to stretch minds, but foolish if it puts young people off them.

  6. I have a pile of crime books by Jo Nesbo to read. I am stuck 1/2 way through the first one, and it has been this way for six months. On a more positive note, your herringbone coat has such beautiful colour, and the friendship brooch is lovely too.

    • Margaret Powling

      I have heard of Jo Nesbo but not read her books. It’s strange, isn’t it, Ratnamurti, how you can read a series and then get ‘stuck’ in one of them. You’re not really enjoying it, and then turn to something else, read that, and think “but I should return to … ” whatever it is you were reading. I know some people feel compelled to finish a book, even one they’re not really enjoying as they were told at school they had to finish reading a book before they could go on to the next. Again, madness. You’d not continue watching a film you didn’t like or eating a meal you weren’t enjoying. I’m all for giving up on books we do not like, there are plenty we will like so let’s not waste our time … it isn’t necessarily a bad book, poorly written, only that it’s not for us, simple as that.
      Glad you like my coat and brooch, I was going to put a pewter brooch on the coat, but then saw this one and thought it was just perfect. Another day I will wear my long scarf and remove the brooch – one or the other is best, I think.

    • I love a good Jo Nesbo But when one of his books are bad, well say no more.

      Diana Gabaldon’s Fiery Cross took me five years to finish!

      • Margaret Powling

        Why did I think Jo Nesbo was a woman? Perhaps as Jo is the female spelling, as Joe is the male spelling?
        I wonder what book has taken us the longest to read? I don’t mean a book sitting on a shelf, unopened, but one we’ve started and not been able to finish, no matter how hard we have tried? There have been so many for me, I’ve lost count!

  7. I was excited when I saw the title of this post as your medleys are always interesting…. How nice that you are enjoying regular manicures. I usually do my own nails, mind you I very rarely wear coloured nail polish as it never seems to last on me and I can’t stand the look of having chipped nails. I usually wear a clear polish. It is lovely when they are done by a professional as they can shape them all perfectly. Now that we are having quite warm weather again, I’m wearing sandals most days so can paint my toenails. I don’t bother when I wear ballet flats all the time…. I’m glad that your new jacket had its first outing. I always feel that bit better when wearing something new. I wonder if others are the same. And when I buy something new, I like to wear it as soon as I can 🙂 That is a nice brooch and I lovely way to remember your friend. I’m sorry for your loss. My late paternal grandmother loved to wear brooches and had a nice collection….. Reading about your cup of tea and Marlborough bun made me realise I haven’t had a cup of tea since 7am this morning and it’s now 3:20pm. Gasp ! My cat is sprawled on me with her head under my chin as I am typing this with two fingers. She will not be amused when I move her so as I can get to the kitchen ha ha……. ps we refer to men’s vests as singlets. I also love learning what items are called in different countries xx

    • Margaret Powling

      I do my own n ails between manicures, but the manicurist, a lovely lady, makes such a better job. I have very ridged nails now and she buffs those ridges out as much as she can. The nails also split down the ridges, and then I have to file that part of the nail very short to get below where the fissure is, but she manages to even them all up and make them – even if they are short – look very smart.
      How lovely to be wearing sandals but quite frankly it’s not all that cold here – yet! However, the poor jacket did complain as we got caught in a very heavy shower as we came out of the golf club after our lunch and had to make a dash – or dash as much as two oldies can! – back to the overflow (I used the term advisedly!) car park where, yesterday, we had parked our car. The coat got a good soaking, but it’s recovered!
      My goodness, no cup of tea in all that time, Lara! You must be parched – but perhaps you are sipping water instead?
      Yes, we also refer to one kind of men’s vest as a singlet, the kind which isn’t a T-shirt style. Yes, it’s fun what we all call different things even though we all speak English.

  8. We have sun! Will it last? I don’t think so 😞. Your very lucky to be able to go for walks in pedestrianised areas and with a beautiful view of the sea very calming. 1st December tomorrow,where has the year gone.Beautiful flowers Margaret

    • Margaret Powling

      We also have sun this morning, Margaret, but as we speak, there are some clouds forming not far away … Oh, my goodness, 1st December. Time I did the Christmas shopping. Nothing done yet! But I won’t panic, it will be done. Yes, we are fortunate to live in such a lovely area, where we can walk by the sea unhindered by traffic.

  9. How fortunate to be given that beautiful tureen! My heart be still!

  10. I know that I read ‘The House of Vandekar’ years ago but can’t remember it now. In fact I read many of her books, but although I know I enjoyed them, it’s only the plot of ‘Voices on the Wind’ that sticks in my mind. I don’t enjoy novels that are too heavy going but I do like to learn something from them.
    My nail appointment is a monthly highlight. It’s impossible to do anything else at the same time so I find it very relaxing.
    The broach looks perfect with your coat.

    • Margaret Powling

      I am really enjoying The House of Vandekar. A bit dated in the writing style, perhaps a little more so that The Occupying Power which I think was a better book altogether, but I’m very much enjoying it all the same.
      Yes, that’s right – it’s impossible to do anything else while having a manicure, and it is relaxing. Well worth the money, I’d say.

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