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Partially Lazy Sunday


The white hyacinths, just one week after they showed the first signs of blooming


After getting up late I have quite busy.  Sorry, I will re-phrase that.  After getting up late, I’ve been almost-but-not-quite busy.  By the time I’d showered, dried my hair, cleaned my teeth, dressed, applied some makeup and made the bed, it was past midday.  Half the day gone when it’s dark by 4.30 pm.

But the dull weather dulls my senses and it took all my initiative to prepare something for lunch. After having made stir fry for supper last night, using two turkey breasts chopped up, with other veg and my home made sweet/sour sauce, there were two turkey breasts left in the fridge.  Therefore I decided to make turkey escallops and serve those with a mixed salad and new potatoes. In fact, a reasonably healthy meal after the excesses of Christmas.

Turkey is a dry old bird really, it needs a little help in the way of moisture, hence a little dish of sweet chilli sauce each, plus butter on the new potatoes and a lemon vinaigrette on the salad (of shredded lettuce, cucumber – which I de-seed and peel and chop – spring onions and salad cress, plus some slices of vine-ripened small tomatoes, but not cherry tomatoes which we don’t really care for).  This produced an easy lunch but by the time I’d filled the dishwasher afterwards, washed up the delicate plates by hand, and tidied the kitchen, I felt tired.  What did I say about this weather removing my  initiative?

But the shower room needed a clean and even if I left the floor for another day, I knew that if I cleaned the shelves, the mirrors, the loo, the basin, changed the towels, etc, it would look and smell a whole lot sweeter.  It is a very small room, installed when bathrooms weren’t given the prominence that they are given today.  But at least we do have two bathrooms, which was considered something of a luxury in 1985, one upstairs, one downstairs (although neither of them are en-suite rooms).

This little bathroom, or shower room as I refer to it as it doesn’t have a bath (that is in the bathroom upstairs), is as it was when it was installed, with the champagne- coloured basin, loo, and shower tray.    We have considered changing it, installing a modern white suite, but really, why do this when what we have is functional and in good working order and not a totally horrendous colour?  At least it’s different from everyone else’s white suite!  Colour (but perhaps not avocado!) will make a come-back, mark my words!

And so a few years ago husband wallpapered the shower room, put new tiles in the shower cubicle, new tiles behind the basin, new flooring was installed, we added a new Venetian blind, new glass shelves, a new mirror and a new light above the basin, new deeper skirting board, and well, the result was fine for us.

With light on

We chose a pretty toile-style paper, and I then added a print of the famous Rainbow portrait of Queen Elizabeth 1 (which, incidentally I used to have in our hall, I seldom buy anything new like this, I simply change things around). The original painting is in Hatfield House.

I didn’t know whether to show you this tiny room with the light on above the basin, or with the light off, so I might as well show you both!

With light off

The shower is to the left of the basin and opposite the basin is the loo (you don’t need to see a loo!) and, next to and above that, a couple of glass shelves on which I keep some perfumes and makeup and husband’s colognes.

So that is what I’ve been doing today.  Not a lot, but now I’m off to the sofa with a cup of tea.  Making a light lunch and cleaning part of the shower room is all I feel I have the energy for today.  But it’s already 16 days since the winter solstice, lighting-up time for the street lights will gradually become later and later, and by the end of the month, on a clear day, it will be light at 5 o’clock.  I must bear that in mind when I’m feeling hemmed in by such winter darkness. Now for that cup of tea, a soft woollen throw and a hot water bottle. It’s that kind of day.

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 think your bathroom looks very lovely, Margaret. Your recent meals sound delicious. I think you sell yourself short as it seems to me you accomplish quite a lot every day. Winter is a difficult time to get motivated, that’s for sure. Yesterday I began a deep clean of our bedroom which I will finish today. I better get on it!

    • Margaret

      Thank you, Jeannine, for reassuring me that I do accomplish quite a lot each day. But I always think I should be able to accomplish more – but then, don’t we all! I need to make a start on our bedroom. It’s not dirty by any means, but I need to go through the wardrobe (almost wall-to-wall that is the one and only wardrobe for both our clothes, with some stored away in the guest bedroom wardrobe even though it was my aim to keep this empty … that didn’t last long!) I just need a bright sunny morning, with the sunshine pouring into our bedroom, when I can open the windows, hear the birds since and I will feel motivated to clean our wardrobe! Well, that’s the plan!

  2. Does your husband know he is the luckiest man on earth? I don’t think I know anyone who prepares and presents such beautiful and healthy, delicious meals as you do , Margaret! Seriously, that would be a whole day’s project for me. I have simply got to do better at this, since we do far too much dining out and take-out. Since I did comment on this subject recently, I will try to get off this tangent now, but I just have to say you are amazing to me!

    • Margaret

      Kay, it really was easy. First I took out all the ingredients from the fridge. Then I bashed the chicken breasts between a sheet of foil, dipped them in egg and then into the mixture of breadcrumbs, stuffing mix and parmesan. Then I popped them on their baking sheet into the fridge (the recipe I read suggests this). Meanwhile, I popped the potatoes on to boil, put the oven on so that once the 20 minute were up for the escallops in the fridge, they could go straight into the hot oven (200C) for 20 minutes by which time the potatoes would’ve been cooked and buttered and kept warm in the to oven (set to just ‘on’ to keep things warm.) Then I made the salad and the vinaigrette (I make this in a screw-top jar, so that you can just add the oil, lemon, a little white wine vinegar and some French mustard, screw on the lid and give a vigorous shake). Once that was done I put the escallops into the oven and by the time the potatoes were ready, so were the turkey escallops and the salad was on the table which I also laid while waiting for the potatoes and meat to cook. I also put a jug of iced water on the table, with a slice of lemon in it.
      I shall tell my husband he is the luckiest man on earth (if he doesn’t know this already, ha ha!)
      We don’t dine out much because not only is it fiendishly expensive if you go somewhere half-decent, but also if you don’t go somewhere half-decent, the food isn’t work having. We’ve not had a take-out (or take-away as we call it, or carry-out in Scotland) for decades. I also once phoned a pizza delivery service and was staggered that each pizza was over £10! So for four of us that would’ve been in excess of £40 for just four pieces of pastry with some topping. Madness! I could make a banquet for that, with wine, and a nice dessert.
      I’m sorry in a way that I amaze you as this is normal living to me, but if I amaze you, then I amaze you but I assure you what I do is really simple, basic cooking or baking. But for now I shall allow my head to swell knowing that I amaze someone – I shall tell husband he ought to be amazed, too!
      PS I also made an orange fruit jelly while preparing lunch, but this wasn’t for lunch but for after our sandwich supper, to have with just a smidgen of cream (left over from having made the trifle the day before yesterday – I kept some back either for pouring over fruit or to have in coffee.)

      • I’m with Kay on this, Margaret. I too, love how you eat. It has inspired myself in many ways. And yes, Mr P is very lucky. But, reading your blog, it does sound like mutual luck for you both. And I love your smaller bathroom. Elegant.

        • Margaret

          Hello, Ratnamurti, and again it’s lovely to think that our rather ordinary way of life – well, ordinary to me – has inspired you. I’ve mentioned to Mr P how lucky he is, but you are right, we are mutually fortunate. This afternoon he put some newspaper on the kitchen table so I wondered what he was up to, and the next thing I knew he was about to clean the silver (our knives, forks, spoons, etc) as is it tarnished, not having been cleaned for quite some time. That’s the one downside of silverware, it needs cleaning, but at least it’s lovely to use and is far nicer than a stainless steel set we bought and which we hardly ever use as the knives and forks have very heavy handles, the whole implements are out of balance. One day I’ll find the courage to take them to the charity shop. They are very smart, but just too heavy for our elderly hands.
          Anyway, he didn’t get as far as doing any cleaning of the silver as I put on a TV programme (on catch up) about the River Nile (one of a series of three lovely programmes about the main rivers of the world: The Amazon, The Nile, and The Mississippi). We have watched that and now he’s too tired to start any cleaning, but as it was said at the end of Gone with the Wind, tomorrow’s another day!

      • Your husband sounds like a doll too! Are you sure y’all can’t get a reality t.v show? I’m serious!

        That sounds like a great program about the rivers. We live pretty close to the Mississippi and have visited Vicksburg and Natchez many times. They are both such pretty old towns with beautiful old homes. Also, I visited Egypt, once ,and we did a train trip from Cairo to Upper Egypt which was oh – so – fantastic; loved seeing the Nile. How I love to travel!

        Thanks for telling me about your prep for your meal. I enjoyed it and will use the tip for mixing my salads.

        • Margaret

          Oh, come, come, Kay, no TV show would want two old has-beens like us! I was on a TV show once, though, way back in 2002. It was, I think, called something like Treasures in your Attic, but I can’t quite remember. Tim Wonnacott, an antiques’ expert in the UK, would visit some members of the public in their homes and for one show he came to us here. He was meant to look at our ‘treasures’ in an attic (fortunately, our upstairs’ bedroom, as it then was (it’s since been made into a bed sitting room) was filled with all my late mother’s things, and it really was like an attic! So he fished out some items and, to the camera, described them. I can’t remember all of them, but one was a little Victorian silver pin cushion in the shape of an elephant (I still have this) which he claimed to be quite collectable. Part of the show was also to do with craft work, and a young woman transformed what I thought was a rather nice purple glass vase into a rather horrid cracklure vase into which she put flowers. I can’t recall the details and we have it all on a VHS tape which of course isn’t used today. The next day we went to an Exeter auction house and I had to look at the things and ‘choose something’ that I’d like, not bid for, you understand, but just be interested in. I chose a coffee can, early English porcelain and I had to say why I liked it. Of course, I knew a bit about porcelain/pottery by this stage as I’d been writing about it for some time in various magazines as an antiques’ writer, but I was cut short in my spiel – it wouldn’t do for me to look knowledgeable, would it? That was the expert’s job! But it was fun while it lasted! The whole process took two complete days of filming for a 1/2 hr prog, but I remember it all as being great fun, with a TV crew in our home, cables and lights and black out curtains, the whole filming rigmarole.
          How coincidental that you live close to the mighty Mississippi! We have never been to America or to Egypt. Indeed, I’m perhaps the least-travelled person in the UK.
          Speak of salads, one we particularly like in summer is tomato, red onion, any kind of soft cheese and fresh basil leaves. Slice up all the ingredients, put them into a dish and pour on home-made vinaigrette (3 parts good oil, whether virgin olive oil or as we use, rapeseed, to one part vinegar, whether wine vinegar or cider vinegar, plus a dollop of wholegrain mustard, a pinch of sugar or some runny honey, salt, black pepper, all in a screw top jar and give it a good shake, job done!)

          • I will try the salad for sure.

            How fun that you participated in the t.v. show about antiques and treasures. Wish we could see it!

            Yes , we are glad we are only about 100 miles from Mississippi so we can visit every so often. I dearly love it.

          • Margaret

            How wonderful to live within 100 miles (that would seem a long way to us here in the UK but only relatively close to you in the States!) of the great Mississippi! I once read a lovely book by travel writer Jonathan Raban called Old Glory about the Mississippi and really enjoyed it. How accurate it would be today, I don’t know, but I really enjoyed that book.
            Yes, being part of a TV prog was great fun even though I wasn’t keen on seeing myself on the screen!

      • Haha, I’m sure that Mr P is fully appreciative of his amazing wife! My husband is certainly appreciative of me but it works both ways. He fills my car with fuel, does the gardening, puts the bins out, mops the kitchen floor and several other tasks that I don’t like doing.

        • Margaret

          Yes, you are quite right … Himself here does jsut that, fills the car with fuel, cleans the car, does 99% of the gardening, puts out the bins (mostly, although I sometimes do this if he’s busy on other chores!) and anything else I ask him to do. Today he’s been cleaning the silver. That sounds posh, but isn’t – it’s 1970s Community Plate by Oneida and is silver-plate but has served us well (no pun intended) since 1972 and still looks lovely when polished. He also does all the repairs and maintenance, I can’t complain.

  3. Hi Margaret, your posts never fail to amaze me, too. What lovely flowers spring flowers. My hyacinth is just now beginning to peek through the soil. I think your bathroom is lovely. What a great idea to add the wallpaper as it really goes so well. Our house was built in 1991 and we still have the original bathrooms with white fixtures but small tiles around the fixtures. The tile work is in perfect shape and I love it but if a younger person would buy the home, they would rip it out for sure. I’m not a fan of the rough, dark, slate tiles that are popular with some people. I don’t know how you would ever get them clean but maybe people don’t worry about cleaning? Haha…I hope you’re enjoying a cozy Sunday evening. Have a wonderful week, Pat xx

    • Margaret

      The white hyacinths in the kitchen are a joy to see (and smell) in the morning, provided you don’t sniff them directly, i.e. the rooms smells nice, but close up, they are not as nice.
      One of these days we will decorate our bathroom again, just to refresh it. I’d like more colour next time, but I do try and have a paper that goes well with the wallpaper in our hall. A lot of people tend to for get that once a door is opened, there is a view of two rooms, and it’s better if they do not ‘fight’ with one another. I dislike those dark slate tiles, too, and I’ve also wondered how they are kept clean.

  4. Sophistication in a loo,far better than plain painted walls. I love your recipes, as you know I’m very much into cooking from scratch,perhaps you could do a recipe sidebar as I’m often trawling through your old blogs looking for inspiration,just a thought? Grey days,I have to force myself to be motivated. We went up to our allotment yesterday to tidy up.

    • Margaret

      We painted the walls when we first moved here in 1985, Margaret, but we’d made what I think was the wrong choice of tiles in those days (there were fewer options then) and somehow no paint colour ever looked right. The last time we decorated (“we” meaning husband) we ripped all the old tiles off and instead of putting tiles on the walls, they only went into the shower cabinet and behind the basin. It’s not a wet room so doesn’t requite floor-to-ceiling tiles.
      I’m glad you like my recipes, which are very simple ones and easy to make. I’d not have a clue as to how to construct a sidebar, I’m hopeless with managing my blog, Margaret, so if you see a recipe, just jot it down is all I can say. Every time I need something doing like that I have to engage the services of the webmaster and that can be costly, unfortunately. I’m not very competent, am I!
      I am trying to get motivated today, as the sunshine has turned to uniform greyness again. But so far I’ve made the bed, cut up fruit for my breakfast, husband made himself porridge, cleared up the breakfast things and filled the dishwasher with the early morning coffee cups and so forth, filled the washing machine twice (it’s not on it’s 2nd load), swept the kitchen floor, cleaned the loo and basin (I try and do this each morning even if I don’t to the whole of the shower room), emptied the recycling things, changed the flower water and watered the cyclamen and the amaryllis which is almost on the point of flowering. But these are just basic things. I need to motivate myself now to start clearing out cupboards and drawers but once the basics are done, I’m just ready for a sit down with a cup of coffee!

  5. Margaret Longden

    I always find a burst of sunshine is like an injection of energy (and often shows up any slackness in the housekeeping department), but I’m all for going with the flow and having sofa time on grey chilly days. It’s a long time since we have had a coloured bathroom suite but we once had a sepia (very dark brown, height of chic in the seventies) suite, which was a disaster once our first baby arrived – even the tiniest sprinkle of Johnson’s baby powder highly visible. In another house, almost brand new, we inherited an avocado bathroom, a primrose downstairs cloakroom and a sunset (yes, just as it sounds) second bathroom. I’ve never recovered and have chosen white ever since, though I rather like you subtly coloured basin etc and you’ve certainly made the very best of it!

    • Margaret

      How well you have described the ray of sunshine being like a burst of energy, Margaret. But I suppose it really is as if we didn’t have the sun, life on earth would disappear very quickly. Oh, how well you have described those bathrooms you have known, too! The ‘sunset’ one sounds particularly lurid! A sunset is lovely, but you’d not want it in your home, would you? And primrose, too! A bright yellow suite sounds truly awful. At least our champagne coloured suites (one upstiars, one downstairs) is really a pale cream and doesn’t look awful at all, otherwise we’d have had it removed long ago. I need to buy some new towels not to ring the changes in the small shower room, and believe me, it is very small.

  6. A soon as I saw the picture of your shower room I thought how lovely. The champagne and other colours are going to be fashionable again, I read about it not long ago. I wouldn’t change it anyway. I particularly like the wallpaper, the room looks pretty with the things arranged on the glass shelves too.
    It’s been a drizzly and dark day here, definitely a hibernating sort of day, I’ve not achieved much at all.

    • Margaret

      Delighted you like our little shower room, Jan. Yes, I read colours were coming back – what goes around, comes around, as the saying goes. I do think this dark weather makes us more tired, as soon as it clouds over and becomes dark, regardless of the time of day, I just want to curl up and go to sleep! You are not alone in not having achieved much, Jan! Join the club!

  7. I can understand feeling a tad lacklustre when the days are short and weather is cold. Whilst we’re currently experiencing temperatures of 29-30deg.C and high humidity for days on end, I’m not exactly jumping out of my skin with energy and enthusiasm, either. I sometimes think that dogs and cats have it sorted as they know to find the coolest place in the house (in my case) or the warmest (or your case), and are too smart to go dashing about outside when the sun is as it hottest. They listen to their bodies and follow their natural rhythms…. mind you, if we all slept 20 hours a day like cats the economy would grind to a halt 😃 What I’m saying is that it’s perfectly okay in my books to feel a bit blah when the weather is same !

    I agree with your comments about being satisfied with what you have, rather than renovating for the sake of it. Every situation / household / person is different but I don’t think there is anything ‘chic’ about going into debt just to ‘keep up with the joneses’. Your bathroom is lovely.

    I’m enjoying ‘bingeing’ on the posts as I’ve fallen behind this past week, no particular reason I can think of ….. I always think the use of ‘bingeing’ or ‘binge watching’, in these days of Netflix and so on, feels a bit yuk to me. I associate ‘bingeing’ with eating disorders, but as we all know, language changes over time – if you had heard the ‘phrase’ social media 20 years ago I wonder if anyone would have known what it meant….. Just me rambling on …. I am also enjoying reading through all of the comments and their replies. I agree that both you and your husband are very lucky.


    • Margaret

      Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely to sleep for 20 hours a day like a cat, and then get up only for the calls of Nature and a good meal (one that someone had provided, of course!)? It’s a blustery Sunday morning as I write this and we’ve only just surfaced, having had another night of getting up at 4am for a cup of tea, then returning to bed to sleep like logs!
      You will have had a lot to read this week, bingeing on the posts as you put it. Sometimes we just get behind with all kinds of things, I need to do housekeeping, the study is very dusty, but by the time I’ve made meals these dark days, I feel I’ve had enough of work and need to sit down. As I say, it’s as much a time-of-year thing as much as an age thing. Yes, you are right. Words take on new meanings – such as a mouse! Who would’ve thought we’d move a little rodent around to move a cursor on a screen!

      • Indeed ! ‘Mouse’ is a good example of how our use of words changes over time.

        • Margaret

          We also say ‘mobile’ where Americans say ‘cell phone’, when mobile means something different from what it used to mean, too. There are so many words that we use today, but my sleep-fuddled brain can’t think of any right now! We’re just having our morning cup of coffee, it’s 9.13am and a sunny, if chilly, morning here in South Devon.

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