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Christmas is Coming

Our little Christmas tree is now in the sitting room and decorated.  And it is a small one this year, but what it lacks in stature it more than gains in shape and the amount of lovely branches it has from which to hang decorations.  We love it! Indeed, I’ve found myself talking to it (yes, call me barmy, I don’t mind!) as in “I hope you like it here!” to which it replied (if only I could mimic the voice of a tree, I would do it now!) “Yes, it’s nice here … I have the TV to watch in one corner and books to read behind me, and you’ve even put water in the container in which I’m standing!”

I  can see now that the apricot roses (photo above) are the wrong choice of colour, but they looked paler when I bought them and instead of becoming paler as they’ve aged, they have darkened. Never mind, I will be on the hunt for Christmas flowers before too long.

The tree fits snugly into this corner and it only meant moving the standard lamp and the nest of tables.  The standard lamp is now at the other end of the sofa and the nest of tables has gone into the dining end of our room for now.

We don’t tend to add many decorations to our home because there is already a surfeit of gilt on the picture frames, the table lamps, ornaments, mirrors and so forth, but once the cards start to arrive in any number these will be added to the arch way between the sitting and dining areas, and I will bring in greenery from the garden on Christmas Eve (or a day or so before, much depending on my energy level and also the weather).

Eagle-eyed among you will see my latest magazine and my latest book (the book inexpensive, 2nd hand, another Evely Anthony novel. I’m so enjoying reading these – I was a great Evelyn Anthony fan in the late 1970s/early 1980s and am enjoying some of the books which I haven’t previously read, those published when, for some reason, I ceased buying them as they were published.

How I love to see the homes in the current magazines, and those for December (for the January 2019 copies are now on sale), that have been decorated for Christmas.  I try as hard as I can to see glimpses of gardens, but the photographers are very careful not to show summer flowers or trees in full leaf (unless they are evergreen) because most Christmas shoots are taken in the summer with the homes specially decorated as if for Christmas.

I am gradually gathering Christmas presents for the family together, especially for our deal little grandson and our sons and daughters-in-law.  I must also remember to buy something for Barry-the-dog!  I have yet to (1) write the cards (2) print the address labels and post the cards (3) wrap the presents (4) make the Christmas cake (5) clean our home (6) food shop for Christmas.  But it will be done, it’s on the 11th today, plenty of time!

As well as Christmas presents arriving by post from my online purchases, I have also bought another box of Roger & Gallet soap while it is on offer, although I missed the 1/3rd off offer, mea culpa, I should’ve bought three boxes while I was buying the two I bought recently.  The new one is …

But even though the house hasn’t had a real big clean for a while, husband and I do our best to keep on top of most jobs and he’s done all the ironing for me and I’ve tidied the airing cupboard and put all the bed linen and table linen away.  He has also vacuumed all the carpets downstairs and I’ve dusted the sitting room and hall, so we’ve not exactly been idle.  But we are both just a little under the weather at the moment, so have been taking it a bit easier today – we did a lot of shopping yesterday, we drove to Newton Abbot (about 12 miles away) to the toy shop to get our grandson a Play Mobil kit, then to Next (clothes shop, for those not in the UK) and Boots (pharmaceuticals, for those not in the UK) for clothes for grandson and toiletries for daughters-in-law. Then to Curry’s PC World where I bought my new (i.e. 3rd) Sony compact camera, the first two having developed faults. I decided not to buy via Amazon this time so that at least I’d have a shop to return to if this 3rd one went wrong. I just hope it doesn’t.

Why buy the same camera when it’s gone wrong twice before?  Well, I actually like the camera and as you can see, it doesn’t take half-bad photos.  Also the price. I have two DSLR Nikons and really I can’t justify paying more than the £149 that this camera cost – I had a refund via Amazon so really it has been just an exchange in this case.  There were less-expensive compact cameras but they were tiny and I knew I’d have a right old time fiddling with them, and there were larger ones (while still being called a compact camera) which would not have gone easily into my bag or a pocket.  So I chose the little Sony again.

From there we drove to the golf club for a snack lunch.  We were surprised to find that we were more than likely the youngest people there, apart from the staff, as there was a Christmas Lunch being served for a group of very elderly folk.  Being nosy I asked what the group was and I was told it was the residents of a local nursing home.  Although these old people obviously weren’t golfers, it was lovely to see the club house being put to use in this way, and all the old people obviously enjoying themselves.

Last week husband gave the deep windowsill in the sitting room a fresh coat of paint and it’s now dry and I can use it again for some of my bits and pieces.

And now I’m off to the sofa with a cup of tea. I hope all your own Christmas preparations are going well, 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. Hello Margaret, I’ve not commented for a little while but I do read every post and the comments, I enjoy the glimpses of your life so much. Your camera is indeed a good one, your photos are so clear. Your little views of your home are so nice, how I’d love my own home to be so spick and span and gleaming! Sometimes it feels like an uphill road to keep on top of things. Life has been a little topsy turvey here due to family health issues but I make sure to visit a little oasis in my day which is your blog. I look forward to each new post, you have a knack of making everyday things so inspiring. Even tidying the airing cupboard! Have a lovely evening.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Jan, and please don’t worry about not commenting for a while, I’m just delighted you enjoy reading my blog. I can assure you, though, that the house isn’t spic and span! Take our bedroom, for example. I need to empty and clean out our wardrobes (fitted ones) and put some things out for the charity shop and some summer clothes away to make room for the new jackets and jumpers (jerseys, pullovers in the USA?) and right now they’re piled tidily on the bedroom chair and the coats on hangers on the wardrobe doors. But it will be done, all in good time. The house couldn’t be called dirty but it just needs refreshing and I’ve been a little tired these past few weeks, no doubt through not sleeping well. But hey, we all have patches like this. And you’re quite right, sometimes it does seem an uphill struggle to keep on top of things – I’ve felt that even more so the older I get, but I hate to give in to age! Husband is more agile than I am even though he’s almost nine years older than me (he’s now 83), so if I need to retrieve anything say, that has fallen under the sofa, a pen or pencil for example, he’s the one to get down on the floor and look for it!

  2. Don’t those roses complement the red glass beautifully? Not by chance, I’ll wager! You have a wonderful eye for colour. The tree is a prefect Christmass tree shape. I do like a real tree to be well balanced.
    Sometimes I think that my house is only superficially clean and tidy. The ‘big’ jobs not being evident but definitely waiting in the wings. I made a start on the clearing out of the kitchen cupboards when I needed to house my new mixer (I don’t like many things on the work tops) and I shall finish off at the end of this week.

    • Margaret Powling

      Actually, it was by change, Eloise, because the roses were on a side table which I’ve removed in order to put the tree in the corner, but I tend to buy that kind of pink as it does look nice against the cranberry glass, and also our salmon pink curtains. It has to be the right kind of pink, not the bubble-gum pink which looks better in our bedroom.
      Oh, kitchen cupboards … tell me about them! In fact, husband decided to clean out three of them recently, the ones with glass fronts, because it had been over two years since they’d been dealt with!

  3. I much prefere to buy any electrical equipment from a high street shop. It’s worth paying a little extra for the ability to return items if faulty. My previous attempts to return to on line companies has left me very wary.
    Your christmas decor is so lovely. It really cheers us at this dull grey time of year to decorate our homes.
    I always enjoy looking at your beautiful floral arrangements.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I’m sure you are right, Sally. But I have to say that once I’d located an Amazon telephone number I could phone for ‘technical suport’ the rest was easy. They sent me a label I could print and attach to the box I had packed the camera in, and told me Hermes would collect it the next working day, which they did. And the next day I received an email from Amazon saying that they had received it and the refund would go into my account within a couple of working days, and when I looked, it was already in my account.
      Yes, I think we need to decorate our homes at this time of the year in order to cheer ourselves up, regardless of it being Christmas? Didn’t Christians hijack Christmas anyway? Wasn’t it a festival long before Christians decided that was when Christ was born? I might be wrong, and no offence to Christians, but I think it used to be Saturnalia before it was Christmas.

  4. Strangely enough Margaret I’ve just been reading some Samuel Pepys, writing about the Twelfth Night celebrations and enjoying a “brave” cake. When I looked up the cake it actually meant a good cake ( a bit like the Scottish word Braw) but it was made with fruit and marzipanned etc and I’m wondering if that was how our traditional Christmas cake started and got moved back to Christmas Day? So yes I agree with you, our traditions have been purloined over the years but still enjoyable! Anyway your little tree looks very pretty and it’s comforting to read about you preparing for Christmas, it must be going on in so many households just now. Good luck with all the work in hand and the new camera too.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I like the thought of people all over the world preparing for the Christmas celebration, even though as I’ve said, I’m not religious. I must read Pepys. I have three volumes of Pepys but it’s the edited version and you may recall how Helene Hanff was very scathing over edited versions in her lovely book, 84 Charing Cross Road (and how great Anne Bancroft was in the role of Helene in the film of the same name.) Yes, that cake that Pepys mentions certainly sounds like our Christmas cake, doesn’t it?
      I saw some of the Canon cameras you mentioned on Amazon, Heather, but they were all ‘used’ ones and I wanted new for a camera. The used ones were around £139 but the new ones were much more expensive and I was prepared only to pay up to £149 (as I already have two full-size DSLR Nikons.)

  5. I’m yet to put up our modest collection of Christmas decorations as we’ve recently had two accidents in our family resulting in hospital visits and lengthy recovery. Fortunately nothing life threatening but enough to make me stop and take stock of what really is important in life. There’s nothing like a trip to a hospital to visit (or collect) someone you love in an emergency department to help you focus your priorities! It also makes me grateful to live in Australia where our public healthcare system, whilst not perfect, is free and accessible to all who need it. Okay, enough of the serious stuff ! …… Your tree is very pretty and I agree with you and other comments that it has lovely proportions and is ‘just right’. After many years of having real Christmas trees which are beautiful but I felt we’re a burden to remove from the house and dispose of in January, I now have a small, faux tree which sits on the sideboard in our open plan living area. I have a collection of other Christmas bits and pieces, including pieces I bought new (on sale) after last Christmas, which I will arrange around the tree….. Your roses on the windowsill with the collection of coloured glassware is very pretty 🙂

    • Margaret Powling

      I’m very sorry to hear that you have recently had not one but two accidents in your family that have resulted in hospital visits, Lara. I do know how traumatic and stressful that can be, from personal experience. Like you, we have the National Health Service and while not perfect and in dire need of more funding, we are always grateful for it when it is needed.
      Thank you for admiring our small tree, I most be losing the plot as I talk to it now night and morning … what starts as a bit of a joke soon becomes a habit, ha ha! “Hello, Tree, how are you today?” and so forth. I’ve no doubt when the time comes to remove it I’ll cry, it’ll have become my bestie (to coin that awful modern term for best friend) by then!
      That’s the best way to buy decorations, in the post-Christmas sales! I’m sure your faux tree will look lovely with the new additions.

      • That’s okay about talking to your tree – I talk to my cat quite often. I’m sure if someone heard me through the window then looked inside they’d think me batty but I don’t care 🙂

        • Margaret Powling

          I think you can have wonderful conversations with either dogs or cats. I used to talk to our cats, when we had cats (Oliver and Charlie, one named for Oliver Cromwell and the other for King Charles 1; Oliver was grey and white, a right little Puritan, and Charlies was a rather flamboyant ginger tom, very much the Cavalier cat!) Husband said that I used the same tone of voice to the cats that I did to him and our sons! I now chat with Barry-the-dog when he comes to visit. He is a very good listener! I think people who don’t talk to animals (or trees!) are batty, not the other way around, Lara!

  6. As always a run of interesting and beautifully illustrated posts Margaret. I found The Librarian disappointing. I usually enjoy Salley Vickers, Cousins especially, but found this a disappointment. After your post I sought out Kate Humble’s products in Waitrose; thank you for pointing them out. We went to see/listen to her in Cheltenham in October. She was excellent. Very entertaining and came across as very genuine.

    • Margaret Powling

      I didn’t really know what to make of The Librarian, Jill. It really was something-and-nothing. I’ve tried to read Salley Vickers’ other books, Miss Garnett’s Angel in particular, but found that one rather too fey. I also found – and I know we mustn’t think that an author’s personal views are always in their stories – that the vast majority of the men in the book were truly quite awful; the chief librarian was an ageing Lothario, the doctor with whom the Librarian had an affair was weak, and I’ve actually forgotten the others, but none of them was memorable. It seemed to me that it was really novella length that had been extended and padded out to become a novel. I quite enjoyed it but it was instantly forgettable.
      I’m still awaiting the arrival of the two Kate Humble products – I should’ve waited to see if they had them in our branch of Waitrose (they have!) and bought them there! I’m looking forward now to reading Kate’s book.

  7. That is a truly gorgeous tree – very festive indeed.
    Thanks for the book recommendation. I bought a second hand copy and also say a book by the same author, ‘A little history of the English country church’ which I am looking forward to reading too.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Joy, it is a very pretty little tree.
      To which book recommendation are you referring? Perhaps the Roy Strong book? I know he’s written about the English church, but I don’t have that particular book. Another book of his I love to re-read is Strong Points, something you can dip into as you can A Country Life. Also, for a gardener such as yourself, The Laskett is a lovely read. It’s all about the garden that he created (with his late wife) in Herefordshire.

  8. Your tree looks lovely – the perfect shape! I’m not happy with our indoor tree this year – every year I try to get it just so and fail miserably! Never mind, it’s up now and looks reasonable. We avoided the big outlets for real trees this year and bought from a man who sells them from his garden (he grows them somewhere). He had some beauties but much too tall for our ceilings – the giant ones were only £45.00, so very cheap as compared to some places. We have an outdoor one too with a few lights on which is a much better shape than the indoor one.

    • Margaret Powling

      My goodness, Mrs LH, £45 for a tall tree is very reasonable. We have for many years visited a local Christmas Tree farm, but their trees are rather expensive, but we did this because it was a local business. Then last year we visited the local garden centre, again a local business and the trees were, again, rather expensive (compared with, say, those being offered at Morrisons – although I’ve no idea of the quality of trees at the supermarket) and so this year we went out of town by several miles to a huge garden centre and our little tree was the first tree we saw. Husband picked it up and I said, “It’s lovely!” and we bought it. The woman who had shown us where the 5ft – 6ft trees were could hardly believe it when we called her back – she had only just shown us where the trees were – as we’d chosen our tree! “My goodness, that was quick” she said, or words to that effect. Yes, it’s small, the lower end of the 5ft – 6ft range, but it’s such a lovely shape we’re delighted with it. I’m sure your tree looks lovely now it’s been decorated!

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