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Topping and Tailing

Whoever said blue and green should never be seen needs to see the Devon countryside on a blue-sky day!

I had a hair appointment in Totnes this morning and husband said he’d come along, indeed he’d drive me there, go and park the car and then come and wait for me in the salon.  I knew I’d not be a long time as it was a wash, cut and finish today (highlights next visit.)  I had sort-of planned to pop into some of the many charity shops while there, and also to look at nail polishes in another store, but no matter, it was nice to have his company and charity shops and nail polishes can wait for another day.  No point in visiting them with husband in tow, it’s no fun shopping with someone who does not enjoy having a look-see in charity shops.  Had I said I was looking for something specifically, that would’ve been another matter; he can see the point of that!

So after my hair appointment, accompanied as always by a lovely cup of cappuccino (and for husband) we walked into the town to the butchers where we are able (unlike in the supermarket) to buy venison.  It seems that this is being promoted now as healthy as it’s a ‘wild’ meat, unadulterated with hormones and whatever, and low in fat, but we’ve always enjoyed venison before it became the thing to eat.  I will make venison casseroles with the meat, with the addition of some of the red wine we were given for Christmas.

(The ‘topping and tailing’ title refers to my hair (topping) and to my visit tomorrow to my podiatrist (tailing … well, almost!)  I don’t know what I’d call my manicure yesterday, but my extremities are being dealt with this week!) 

The view at the top of the page is the countryside on the way to Totnes, Devon’s gently rolling hills.  I love this drive and it was even nicer today as I was able to gaze around and admire the view while husband did the driving.

We decided, rather than stop in Totnes for lunch, to drive to the golf club and have lunch there.  The road from Totnes via the little village of Berry Pomeroy to Torquay’s Ring Rod, is a pretty one, too …

I took this photo through the windscreen while husband was driving.  Although the trees are still bare, some have catkins, which look so pretty.

Once at the golf club we found that the lovely couple who are in charge of catering were away on holiday for a fortnight and their son and daughter were there and, thus, there was a much-reduced menu just for a couple of weeks.  No fish and chips, but things like ham and eggs, toasted cheese & onion sandwich, and sandwiches were available.   And so we went for something really simple – we weren’t very hungry in any case – and had toasted tea cakes with butter & jam, and a mug of coffee …

But it’s a nice place to be, even for a snack like this, and I never tire of looking out over the course which, of course, brings such happy childhood memories of being there with my parents in the late 1950s and early 1960s …

Here you will see a couple of chaps on the practice putting green in front of the club house

I bought two bunches of white tulips in Totnes.  The yellow freesias last week were not a success.  They had little-to-no scent, which is unusual for yellow ones, as they usually have quite a strong scent, and also the colour just jarred – well, it did for me – in our sitting room.  I much prefer the white tulips, and I think they are ‘doubles’ so will look more like small peonies when they open fully.


I can see it’s about time I ‘weeded’ the bookshelves here, too many books lying horizontally across the top of others, not an attractive look!

The post had arrived while we were out, and with it a minor indulgence!  When I was a child, living with my parents in their newsagent’s shop, I was permitted to have two comics each week. I chose School Friend and, after it was first published in 1951, Girl.  I loved School Friend best of all even though it was dull in colour compared with the brash new Girl, “sister paper to Eagle” as it was advertised (later came younger children’s comics in that range, Swift and then Robin).  I kept all my copies of School Friend (and Girl) which I had from issue number 13 in 1950, but when we moved from our shop in 1962 my father made me throw they all away.  “We’re not taking all that rubbish with us!” he said, and like a good girl, I did as I was told.

Of course, I have missed them, as we all tend to miss our childhood things. I had kept them so tidily, in date order, pristine condition.  And so the other evening I had a look online and found a bookshop with some copies for sale.  The only trouble was they were £6 a copy, plus p&p.  But I saw that one was issue 14, only a week after I had started having this comic in the summer of 1950, just before my 6th birthday.  How could I resist?

It is not in pristine condition but it’s almost 70 years old!  I am delighted to have a copy, it takes me right back even to before I could read and it had to be read to me.

The other serial I used to enjoy was Jill Crusoe …

As well as the comic, another ‘thank you’ card arrived from a friend for her Christmas present, one of five I have received.

Please don’t think I send presents to people in order to receive cards!  Nothing could be further from the truth, but how lovely that thank you cards are alive and well in this day of instant communications via some electronic device.

But from this electronic device, I will say …

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. Your comments about your love of certain comics reminds me of how fond I was of the old Archie comics as a girl. My mother would allow me to buy a comic book from the grocery store once in a while, and I would read it from front to back several times until the next time I was able to get a new one. The 70’s were a great time to be a little kid! And the tulips look lovely!

    • Margaret

      How lovely that my post brought memories of your Archie comic, Diana, and growing up in the 1970s. I was a child of the 1950s, and although here in the UK we were still suffering from the after-effects of WW2, with food rationing until 1953, it was a very happy time for me, and I think that is why I so loved my comics for they are, as Archie is for you, a memory of our childhood.
      I love tulips, they are a true favourite of mine, from white to deepest magenta.

  2. You certainly do live and a lovely part of our country; those country views are stunning. Personally, I like blue and green together and I wonder how the saying arose in the first place because, as you say, Mother Nature gives the lie to it every sunny day!

    My parents weren’t keen on comics but I was allowed ‘Princess’ while my brother had ‘Look and Learn’, both being considered rather more educational than Beano and Bunty. Guess which we preferred though!


    • Margaret

      Yes, Joy, Nature certainly disagrees with the saying, all shades of blue and all shades of green work happily together, just think of a bluebell wood, too!
      As my parents had a newsagent’s shop I was fortunate insofar as I was able to read anything and everything that came my way, both suitable and unsuitable. What this did was, and from an early age, to help me choose the reading material I liked. I never enjoyed the women’s weekly magazines, especially those rather declasse titles such as Home Chat and Home Notes, aimed at women who, no doubt through no fault of their own, had little education. There were the cartoon magazines, too, such as Mirabelle and Roxy, which were simply cheap and nasty. I never read The Children’s Newspaper which just looked interminably dull, but I loved my two comics, but strangely enough, not Girl’s Crystal, another comic of the day. What I loved best of all were the monthly style magazines, and as I’ve mentioned before, my parents kindly allowed me – and from a very early age – to have copies Homes & Gardens and Ideal Home of my own. I ever read Beano and Dandy and things like Bunty came out after I was too old for them. I don’t recall Princess, strangely enough. Maybe that was launched after my parents sold our shop in 1962 and bought their hotel on the sea front.

  3. So much fun to settle in for a cozy visit to your beautiful world! Your blog always soothes my soul! I’m delighted to learn about your childhood reading. I, too, have such fond memories of things I read as a child. Childhood reading makes such a deep impression! Like you, I have tracked down vintage copies of some of my most beloved books. It’s like being reunited with old friends! Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Margaret

      This is wonderful, so many readers, Tess, including yourself, have said how my blog is soothing, even slows their heart rate! I find this amazing for I’ve no reason to doubt what my readers tell me. Yes, childhood reading does leave a deep impression and, like you, I have tracked down many of the books I had as a child, in the same editions of course, that was most important. Yes, it is like being reunited with old friends! That’s a lovely way of putting it.

  4. Your memories of School Friend took me back to my childhood. I was often I’ll and as was the custom in those days, confined to bed. One of our neighbours had a niece who used to send me piles of her comics after she had read them. I remember the stories were often based in rather upper class boarding schools. I have always enjoyed reading, books comics, the back of cereal boxes! The reading of comics was looked down on by our teachers and my parents certainly did not buy any for me.
    I really enjoy your blog and seeing the pictures. I often recognise the locations as we have spent several holidays in the area.

    • Margaret

      Yes, I was confined to bed for a long period as a child, too, Pam. I had double pneumonia early in 1951 when I was in hospital for a long time and then in a convalescent hospital. I was fortunate that my father had the newspaper round in the hospital and so I saw him twice a day, unlike the other children who only saw their parents on visiting days, twice a week. No such thing as visiting more or less when you liked as is the case today, or at least twice a day at set times. And so my father would bring me my comic even to hospital and I saved those and brought them home so my collection was complete. Yes, there were the upper class boarding school stories, I liked those the best. But many parents didn’t allow their children to have comics, which I think was a shame as they were totally harmless fun and helped many a reluctant reader to read more. The same parents, I think, also despised that new invention, the television. I remember some girls whose parents forbade their children to watch television. I wonder what they’d make of all the devices available today!
      Today there is a wealth of lovely reading material for children, good and not-so-good. I have a magazine called Whizz-Pop-Bang (I think the words are in that order, I can never remember!) on subscription for our little grandson, and he loves it. It’s a non-gender-based science magazine. Of course, he loves anything to do with Batman, Superman and so forth, and why not at an early age. I think with other reading material he will gradually wean himself off what we call ‘tacky stuff’ but it has its place in learning, firing the imagination just as much as a book on astronomy.
      I’m delighted you like seeing the photos on my blog and that you recognise the locations.

  5. I’ve always liked a blue/green combination and what;s prettier than a peacock feather – the ultimate blend of blues and greens. I also like a Black watch tartan.
    How wonderful to see your picture of School Friend. I started having it just before it combined with another comic I had called June. ‘June & School Friend’ was a great favourite and I loved reading it along with another comic – Diana.
    It’s always nice to be thanked and my children were always expected to wirte thank you letters. Even when very young they would do a ‘drawing’ (loosely described) to accompany my handwritten than you for their gifts. I am pleased to say that both my sons have taught their children that this is the right thing to do.

    • Margaret

      Oh, I love Black Watch tartan. I used to have a jacket in that, with a Chanel style collar and ‘silver’ buttons, I loved it. Looked great with indigo jeans!
      June and Diana, the comics, were brought out I think after I was of comic-age, so to speak. I was enjoying the comics in the 1950s, not the 1960s. By 1960 I was 16, almost grown up (or so I thought!)
      Yes, I think it’s important to teach little ones to write thank you letters. Our grandson is already being taught to do this.

  6. I love how you were able to get a comic book like the ones you loved growing up. I would imagine it was a little bit touching to have it in your hands again. Archie and another comic book called Nancy were some I really liked when I was little, and then a magazine called Seventeen when I was a teenager.
    The tulips are beautiful. I have got to go out and get some!
    How great to receive the thank-you notes. I’m afraid here in the u.s. , it’s almost becoming a thing of the past. I taught my daughter (also an only child, Margaret!) to write them, and a friend of mine gave me one that she had written to them when she was about 11 years old. It was so sweet to see it! She is now teaching her daughters to do the same.

    • Margaret

      Hello, Kay, and here again – for this has been discussed before and is a perennial topic which we all tend to enjoy, I think – is that you refer to comic books where just call them comics. A comic book would be a funny book, not the weekly publications of strip cartoons (and by strip cartoons, I don’t mean they remove their clothes, there are pictures in the form of strips). But yes, and I looked again online and I was almost tempted to buy another one, but I do think having just the one is sufficient. I think there was a teenage magazine called Seventeen over here, too. The teenage magazine I liked was called Honey and that started in around 1961, and I loved that, it was really much more a magazine than a comic.
      Speaking of thank you notes, I received another yesterday. It’s sad that in the USA, or especially from experience, this is becoming a thing of the past. I think it might be here, too; I’m just trying to keep it alive! How lovely that your friend still had your young daughter’s thank you note to them. And as she was taught, so she is now teaching her own daughters. This keeps a tradition and also good manners alive.

  7. I smiled when I read Diana’s comment about the ‘Archie’ comics as I used to read those comics, too, as a child in the 70s. I don’t know if it was the ‘Archie’ comics, or perhaps another, that used to have the advertisements for the sea monkeys, ‘X-ray glasses’ and the like which you could order by post. I remember being fascinated by those items but as the addresses were for far off lands (possibly USA, I can’t recall now), it was something a little kid in Australia could only wonder ! Margaret, I consume to be amazed and impressed by your memory for such details. I would have struggled to remember those ‘Archie’ comics on my own. Your photographs show Devon as a beautiful part of the world.

    • Margaret

      How lovely that you used to read Archie comics as a child, too! Oh, X-ray glasses would be wonderful for a child, would they not? And speaking of far off lands, I once mentioned – or I think I did – that when I was about eleven or twelve, I had a penfriend in Florida. I think she lived in the Everglades and she once sent me a photo of a house that looked to be on stilts. She once sent me a Christmas present of what we’d have called a windcheater in those days, a hoodie today, bearing the emblem of their local baseball team, the Munson Bulldogs. I thought it was awful – I never wore it – but was far too polite to say! And I’d sent her a pale peach-coloured chiffon scarf, the sort of thing I’d have loved to wear, and I expect she would’ve been equally “bemused£ (i.e. hated it!)

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