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A Weekend Supplement

 

I have a tendency towards verbosity at the best of times … I say in ten words when three will often suffice (except of course when I’m writing an article and I know I’m limited to 750 or 1000 words).  Therefore, as I have several topics to talk about today, please get yourself a cup of tea or coffee or whatever takes your fancy.  I am having a cup of tea as I write this.

Much of what I am going to write about has been occasioned by the Saturday and Sunday papers.  I love the weekend papers, especially when I have time to sit and read them.  Better still is also having bought a magazine (in this case, two magazines) to accompany them.

First, let me return for a moment to Marie Kondo and the sensitive subject of tidying up (why never tidying down?)  There was a whole page about her in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph; the 34 year old Japanese woman responsible for millions clearing out their homes and, well, tidying up.

And so I thought I’d have a look at her first book online – several pages are there to see, but not in sequence unfortunately, otherwise there’d be little point in trying to sell it – and from what I read I don’t think I will be buying it, new or used.

Much appears to be what I’d call ‘common sense’ (if, of course, you forget the thanking the house for supplying a roof over your head or stroking your clothes for keeping you warm) such as having a place for everything and putting everything back in it’s place.  This is the ideal and actually what I was taught as a child.  But we in the western world don’t always live our lives like this.  Our homes tend to be messy – not dirty, just untidy.  We then clear them out every so often, but before long the messiness creeps back in, like spilt milk making its way under the fridge.   We are not tidy Japanese.  We love our books, our pictures, and even our untidy kitchen drawers.  So, even if you do begin – as I have, believe it or not – to roll your scarves, and fold your knickers into little parcels, don’t get rid of all your books, magazines, pictures, even the awful one that Auntie Joan gave you, because they are part of our kind of heritage.  Be minimalist if you prefer, but not because someone tells you to be minimalist.

I think what I’m trying to say is, take from Marie that which is useful, as I have done.

By no means perfect, but my scarf drawer is 100% better than it was, when I would tidy it periodically and then, once it got messy, I would just throw my scarves into it and fish one out when necessary – provided I could find it!

I did the same with my underwear drawer, but I’m not showing you that.  Again, knickers folded into little oblong parcels, bras neatly placed with straps within the cups, and camisoles also folded into little parcels.  I felt quite proud of myself but at the same time felt I was selling out to another culture!

I spent Friday cleaning out our wardrobes in our bedroom.  We have only this one large wardrobe which we share (our own appointed sections for his and hers) and so because I’d bought new clothes recently, it was necessary to let some items go to the charity shop.  Two large garden waste sacks of clothes, actually!  But what’s left is all usable, and now tidily arranged and without the help of Ms Kondo.

Indeed, the Modern Stereotypes column in today’s Sunday Telegraph is a witty take on Ms Kondon, when on a pair of “hopeless declutterers” who writer, Victoria Mather refers to as Hugo and Kitty attempt to tidy up.   They have, Kondo-style, gathered all their belongings and put them in an unruly heap in the middle of the floor and are trying to part with such things as “Dear Little Teddy, who accompanied her [Kitty] to boarding hell at St Mary’s” and Hugo “is distraught at the idea of getting rid of his books.  In fact, he is manning up to forbid it.  Who is this sterile person to tell him what to do?  His grandfather’s copy of Lord Wavell’s Other Men’s Flowers gives him enormous joy …”

Feature on Blenheim Palace with a cup of coffee

By coincidence – or careful planning by the various editors of the sections of the paper – the Property section of yesterday’s Daily Telegraph ran a feature on Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire which was all about “the ultimate spring clean.”  I wonder what Marie Kondo would do with the 10,000 books in the library, or how she might tackle the ‘clutter’ in 187 rooms?  It is because, as a nation, we have always shied away from de-cluttering that we have all these wonderful artefacts going back centuries.  True, we don’t all have Gobelin tapestries or Gainsborough paintings, but we do have things handed down from our own grandparents and great-grandparents, so let’s not go stark raving bonkers in our tidying efforts, chucking baby out with the bathwater.   The feature was all about how the staff cleaned the Palace when it is open every day except Christmas Day, and how there are currently Conservation Tours being run up to the 10th February.

Now to the bit I really enjoyed.  The main feature in the Saturday section, “Does your house pass the posh test?”

Feature on Posh, with a cup of Earl Grey

I can’t resist such a feature and it would seem that our house is just a teeny weeny bit posh according to the feature, although I would say it is quite ordinary.  Of course, posh today doesn’t mean what it originally meant, which was Port Out Starboard Home, for those travelling by steamer to India and beyond, so that you booked a cabin on the shaded side of the ship.

So what makes a house posh?  Having lots of paintings on the walls, but if you don’t have original art work, then maps and vintage posters.  Yes, we have paintings on the wall, nothing valuable, but they are original …

Also, lots of fabrics.  Yes, we have cushions and curtains, and bedspreads over duvets (I don’t like to see just duvets on beds; I cover our duvets with a bedspread during the day).  Oh, and it’s posh to have books on every surface – yes to that!  However,  avoid the cliched arrangement of having books on either side of the fireplace “and go for a table with books piled underneath.”  I’ve got that by default because I’ve run out of shelf space!  Funny, how that makes our home a candidate for poshness!

What else makes it posh?  Not having spotlights, instead having standard lamps and table lamps (yes to both here); no bi-fold doors (wouldn’t want them anyway); nothing matching too much, as if you’ve bought everything at the same time (nothing matches here, but more by luck than judgment); no feature walls (one style guru says it’s the worst look, and I agree); metro brick-style tiles aren’t posh, but plain square cheap white ones are; and best of all for me, wallpaper is posh, especially in the bathroom!  My goodness, I didn’t realize our home was so posh!  They list 25 ways in which your home is posh or it isn’t.  It was a fun read if all a bit subjective and silly.   But I like a bit of silly!

I’ve always piled books on tables, but does it make me posh?  I doubt it!

Next, back with clothes, but not my scarlet underwear this time.  I was reading, again in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, about the difficulty in finding clothes to suit us.  An online company (lookiero.co.uk) assigns you a personal shopper who curates a box of clothes for you – “you don’t get to know what clothes are inside until you open it.”   You don’t have to keep all or any of the clothes, and for the writer of the feature “not everything was a success” but most were, and she was pleased with the service and the quality and the prices of the items included.  I can’t say I will be trying this service, only that I thought I’d mention it. Sadly, another bullet in the back of the high street.

Now to films.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I wasn’t wholly enamoured with either Colette or The Friendship.  But I love to see a film on the ‘big screen’ in a cinema and so have booked for us to see the new Sir Kenneth Branagh film, All is True, about the later life of William Shakespeare (his co-star as his wife, Anne Hathaway, is Dame Judi Dench, over 20 years’ Branagh’s senior, and Sir Ian McKellen is also in the film.)  I’m now considering booking for Vice, too, with Christian Bale as Dick Cheney.

Time I think for some photos!  Without photos it wouldn’t be a weekend supplement …

Two lovely magazines I bought yesterday – I pushed out the boat as I really couldn’t make up my mind which to have.  I’d never seen Milieu before, and it turns out to be an American publication.  Strange to see such a magazine in a newsagent’s shop in Wellswood.  Curiosity has been assuaged and I shan’t be buying it again.  Not really my kind of magazine, homes too large and actually a little too clean and tidy.  On the other hand, I enjoyed a look yesterday at House & Garden.

No Weekend Supplement would be complete without a food item, but no recipes here, just some photos of today’s baking:  rock cakes and cheese scones, both favourites of ours.

Cheese scones straight from the oven

Rock cakes, cooling

I’ve also made cauliflower, leek, courgette and blue cheese soup, another favourite, and a pork and cider casserole.  All good home-made food for us to enjoy over the next couple of days.

Back with clothes for one moment, I have managed to locate a camisole/vest (this is vest in England, an undergarment, not vest in America, something to be worn outside) that matches my new crimson bra and knickers. It is made by Patra, the silk clothing company.  It is 90% modal and 10% silk and while not exactly glamorous, it is lovely to wear under jumpers in winter …

I have ordered a camisole/vest in cream, too, not to go with the almond-coloured bra and knickers i recently bought, but to go with my (little used) under-wired cream bras and knickers.

And to end this Weekend Supplement, flowers … the red tulips have opened up and now look more like poppies …

and the white cyclamen, of which this is one of them, are still flowering in the sitting room window …

I hope you are having a good weekend or, if it’s over by the time you are reading this, you have had a good weekend.

Until next time.

 

 

About Margaret

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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19 comments

  1. Your musings always delight me. I highly honor your recommendations for publications and movies wishing we could go to the movies together and enjoy a cup of tea.

    • Margaret

      I am sure that would be great fun, Kathryn! You would enjoy Dartington’s Barn Cinema, I’m sure, a cinema in a 14th century barn – what could be more English than that?

  2. A great read, thank you Margaret! I do so agree with you re Marie Kondo – there are useful lessons to be learnt from her techniques (my underwear drawer, socks, scarves and jumpers and t-shirts all now folded a la Konmari) but my soul is certainly not minimalist. Perhaps the Japanese minimalism reflects their rather smaller living spaces. Your baking looks absolutely lovely – old-fashioned (in the nicest possible way) favourites.

    The title ‘Weekend Supplement’ is very apt – it is like sitting down with a beautifully illustrated magazine – a real treat!

    • Margaret

      So glad you enjoyed my Weekend Supplement, Margaret! And to have my posts compared with a beautifully illustrated magazine is joy to my ears as I’d love to have my own magazine – not the trials and tribulations of getting in advertising, getting the printers to produce them on time, etc, but just for the content. Yes, it makes sense to fold clothes and store them vertically in drawers, but that’s about all I can agree with (without having read her book, of course).
      I enjoyed baking today. I also made a cauliflower, leek, courgette and blue cheese soup (a favourite, but we like most soups, but not spiced soups so I don’t make those) and also a pork casserole, which has pork steaks, onions, shallots, leeks and a couple of cored but not peeled dessert apples in it, and a bottle of Thatcher’s Katy cider. We have had a portion for our supper, and there’s a portion left to freeze, and from the pack of 6 pork steaks, two more for frying to have with salad and new potatoes.

  3. Oh dear – We appear to have a ‘posh’ home too. I can truthfully say yes to ‘ the lots of fabrics ‘, ‘ pictures ‘, ‘ table lamps ‘ and ‘ books ‘ Husband here thinks our home being posh is hilarious!! We are missing the wallpaper and we do have spotlights in the kitchen ( there when we bought the house – not my choice ) so perhaps we are only semi posh!. I bought ‘ Period Living ‘ this month as I loved the picture of the kitchen on the front. I also buy ‘ 25 Beautiful Homes ‘ occasionally. My dear old Dad gets ‘ Country Living ‘ so I read that one too. Don’t start me on Marie Kondo – I’m all for de cluttering but I do think she takes it to extremes. I started to watch one of her de cluttering programmes on Netflix and had to give up as I got annoyed with her throwing almost everything out. As a working mother I don’t have time to fold everything just so. I have purple tulips in my sitting room which are just starting to open. My sitting room is decorated in shades of cream and purple and my OCD tells me the flowers have to coordinate!

    • Margaret

      Oh, the posh home feature in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph was quite funny, Fiona, but I love this kind of feature, it’s just a fun read. I enjoy Period Living, too, there’s usually a lot in it that I like. I buy it mainly for the readers’ homes as I’m so nosy! I used to get 25 Beautiful Homes occasionally, but I prefer The English Home, and I will read Country Living when I borrow it from a friend, but I don’t always buy it.
      I saw part of a de-cluttering video on You Tube with Ms Kondo where an American woman (who looked very much like Diane Keaton, but obviously wasn’t) was clearing out her ‘closet’ (dressing room to us) and my goodness, the clothes and the shoes, she could’ve stocked a shop, no problem. It looked fairly well organized to me, all the shoes were pointing in the right direction on shelves from floor to ceiling, they looked fantastic, hundreds of pairs – I was quite envious only they were all very high heeled and I’d have ended up in A&E if I’d tried to walk in them. There are high heels and there are stupid heels. But why chuck out perfectly good clothes? The woman admitted she had too many little black dresses, but what she then needed to do was pair them up with other items to make totally different, new outfits, not to dump them. I didn’t watch it for very long, it got too silly.

  4. Most enjoyable post. And yes, your home (which I love from what I’ve seen) is somewhat ‘posh’. However, I attribute that to your own nature, which I find rather elegant.

    • Margaret

      Oh, that’s a kind thing to say, Ratnamurti, an elegant nature. I don’t think of us as posh, but a dear friend, an ex-colleague of my husband (that’s coworker in modern parlance, but we used to call people we worked with “colleagues”) teases us as we use cups and saucers rather than mugs and he calls us posh for doing that. I just think it’s sensible: we have the amount that we can drink, mugs tend to overwhelm us with so much liquid, and there’s the saucer for the drips, so no mug ‘rings’ on furniture or worktops in the kitchen.

      • Loved this post, Margaret. Interesting you used to call coworkers colleagues. I feel like we used to call them coworkers and now we call them colleagues! Haha!

        • Margaret

          Oh, isn’t that funny that your coworkers are now colleagues! I always think that the word ‘coworker’ looks like cow-orker, ha ha! I much prefer our word “colleague” as that covers all those with whom one works, while co-worker sounds like a person who actually job shares with you. Glad you liked the long weekend post!

  5. Love this, Margaret! I never knew that about the word “posh”. There is a store I love in Chicago that sells antique silver and china and darling little things from England and France and it’s called P.O.S.H. I always thought it was for effect – now I know!

    • Margaret

      Hello, Annie, and now you know how the word “posh” began. Like many things, indeed most things, there’s a slice of history behind words, and I love this one. And it’s great yo have a store, P.O.S.H. where you can find antique silver and ceramics, the very best way of recycling!

  6. Your post today has been a joy to read and I had two cups of tea while I was reading! I watched Marie Kondo the other day as she was helping a young family organize their home. I love all things Japanese and for years we had Japanese neighbors. Japan Airlines had their flight training program in our small town since we had one of the longest airport runways west of the Mississippi. It was fun throughout the years to make friendships with our dear neighbors. My daughter went to Japan as an exchange student. But, I found that many times their homes in Japan are not large and roomy and as a result, they like to invest their money into well made, long lasting items. I remember helping my neighbor order George Jensen silver from Denmark and Lenox china. It had to be the finest. Hence, today in Honolulu the main avenue in Waikiki is filled with high end designer stores. I admire them for their good taste. As a complete opposite to this thinking, today I was at TJ MAXX and there was obviously a interior decorator shopping there with the ugliest, cheaply made items in her basket. I’m sure it was to “stage” a new home and yet I would never have those things in my home. Almost every decor item in my home has a sentimental attachment and I would never get rid of them. I’m not a fan or minimalism and never will be. I was raised with taking care of things and having an attachment. And, I did clean out my closet the other day but it was self motivated 🙂 So, I agree with you about this fad of clearing everything out. You might want to google “Hoarding – Buried Alive” on you tube and see where Marie’s expertise could be used. On a brighter note, your scones and rock cakes look absolutely delicious. I have your rock cake recipe so I’m going to make some. I wish you a wonderful start to the new week. Pat

    • Margaret

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response to my post, Pat, and how lovely to have helped someone to order the wonderful Georg Jensen silver, so beautifully crafted and stylish. And how lovely for your daughter to have gone to Japan as a student. My husband went to Japan for a fortnight many years ago, flying over the pole, stopping off at Anchorage in Alaska, and he was amazed with the country, as bright modern buildings were juxtaposed with the old original Japanese homes. Like you I was taught to buy the best I could afford and to look after things, in my parents day, furniture was bought for life, not just until the next look came along.
      The rock cakes and the cheese scones are lovely, we had one each yesterday.

  7. It would seem that I am posh in parts but used to be posher! We no longer have wallpaper in the bathroom because we now have it tiled all over. I no longer have bookcases in the sitting room because I moved them to the office. The coffee table does have a few on the shelf underneath. Paintings – there used to be quite a lot but nowadays far fewer. I do have lots of fabric though, so still hanging onto a bit of poshness there.
    Cheese scones are a great favourite but I can’t resist them so rarely make them. I did used to occasionally treat myself to ONE from the M&S bakery before the store closed down. They did exceedingly good ones.

    You are clearly now hooked on flashing your underwear! Bra-vo!

  8. Wow you covered a wide range of topics – wonderful ! ….. Yes I would howl like a banshee if someone came into my home and told me to part with my books, my cds, my bits n bobs that belonged to my late grandmothers (or were gifts from them) or anything else……. I giggled as I read the ‘posh home’ bit. We have artwork – some originals but mostly prints – and some of the other criteria apply but we’re certainly not posh. Given that our senior citizen cat pretty much rules the joint (hence her fur can be found on any almost surface in between regular vacuuming) and our hot, humid summers last from November to March making it near-impossible/crazy to do anything labour-intensive like polishing the family silver or rearrange the heirloom collection !….. well done on the wardrobe clean out and tidy up. Menopause has changed the shape and size of my middle area, as it can do for many women, so I’ve been removing those too tight / unflattering bits from my wardrobe in fits and starts over the past two years. My neighbour, who is about 10 years my junior, was a grateful recipient of a few bags worth and many, many more bags have gone to local charity shops, some old T-shirt’s etc were cut up and used for cleaning rags and some bits into the bin. I love the practice of donating to charity shops. I have been the grateful buyer of bits and bobs over the year and when I first left home and was setting myself up most of my furniture was from local op shops and hand me downs. Over the years we’ve acquired other pieces which are also second hand, with those items being replaced going to op shops or out onto the front verge – another Australian tradition 😉 I once put a 1990s glass-top coffee table with matching side table out front of our house and had barely made it in to the house when a lady stopped her car to look – my husband ended up also giving her wooden dining chairs which had been stored in the back of our garage. Talk about a win-win. I suppose the fact that none of our furniture matches – except for the matching bedside tables in our bedroom – adds to our posh rating, according to that article. Ha ha….. well done on the camisoles xx

    • Margaret

      Glad you liked the Weekend Supplement, Lara! I was reading a bit to husband and then he said, where is that written? I couldn’t understand him and he thought I was reading something from the paper! I said, “No, it’s my latest blog post …” and he said, “Oh, I didn’t think it sounded too bad!” I suppose that after years of writing for magazines, now that I can write totally what I want to write, it sort of pours out of me at times!
      Having a pet is certainly posh, all the large country houses had cats as mousers, and they always had dogs although most dogs were kept in kennels, unlike today when they settle onto the furniture first and their owners then sit wherever is left!
      Yes, our shapes change over the years and also, it’s good to have a good sort out and part with things we no longer have need of or even as in my case, room for. And it’s good to recycle our unwanted items. Sometimes people hold garage sales here, but usually they take their things to car boot sales if they wish to make some money out of their unwanted items.

  9. I agree with the comment about you being elegant. Not stuffy or unreachable elegant 🙂

    It’s no surprise that none of us are pro-Marie Kondo rules. I doubt we’d be the welded-on fans of your posts if we were. Ha ha 🙂

    • Margaret

      Ooh, I am honoured to be referred to as elegant (not stuffy elegant, though.) Thank you. I love the thought of having welded-on fans of my post, that’s really a great way of putting it. No, we all like our books, our pictures, or ornaments, our pets, our clothes that sometimes stretch back yeas but are still usable on occasion.

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