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Books & Flowers

It is a miserably wet Saturday.  We’re back with our normal February weather after the blip of sunshine that was yesterday, as if to tempt us into thinking spring had arrived when it’s patently obvious today that it has not.

Never mind, we decided to go out for our ‘free’ paper in Waitrose (to holders of My Waitrose cards if you buy £10-worth of goods). We kid ourselves into thinking that it’s worth taking the car out and driving the five or six miles, there and back, in order to save £2.50!  Aren’t we daft?  In mitigation, this gets us out of the house for an hour or so, always a good thing not to stay indoors all day long, and we also bought a few items that, while not needing them right away, will be assets to the larder (such as another couple of packs of Kallo stock pots.  I’d not bought these before but husband persuaded me yesterday to try them – he ought to be in advertising – and the result was an even better pork casserole than I’d cooked before, so I’m now totally ‘sold’ on Kallo stock pots, which are, incidentally, gluten free.)

But to the title of this post, two things that I love:  flowers and books, or books and flowers.  I thought it might be fun to photograph some of the titles of my books, but not to show them vertically so that they’re hard to read; I photographed them on the shelves, where they are vertically placed, but then I ‘turned’ them onthe computer, so if they look a little strange, this is why.

And along from these …

These are on just one short shelf.

Below are the following …

And along from these are …

These are just some of my style books, it doesn’t include the antiques’ books or the fashion books or the art books or architecture books and other categories which interest me.

And in the sitting room, under a table …

and the pile on the bookcase …

A few are missing,  a couple are ‘out on loan’ to a friend, and there are those cross-over titles which might fit decor or architecture or socialhistory and therefore are elsewhere in the house.

Please don’t think this collection happened overnight.  I have been buying decor/style books since the early 1980s, perhaps the first being the slender book entitled Bedrooms by Jacqueline Inchbald.  Once I started, I was totally hooked.  I love, too, seeing how styles have changed over the past 30 to 40 years, we’ve turned away from the flounces of original Laura Ashley just as much as we have now embraced the retro style of early G-Plan and Ercol.

One book I especially enjoy dipping into, though, is a very early interior decoration book.  It is by American novelist Elizabeth Wharton (1862-1937).  I have a very attractive copy (a facsimile edition) of The Decoration of Houses which she co-wrote with American architect, Ogden Codman Jr.

Just a few books for you to virtually browse.

Flowers …

These are the flowers I bought on Thursday, now  looking less stiff and formal. The daffodils have opened up (there is another vase of those in the study, not quite as fully open as these) …

and the tulips have managed to arrange themselves …

I haven’t used this jug for some time and so I thought it might look right with tulips in it – at least each have lots of green leaves.

And finally …

The white amaryllis that flowered a few weeks ago has thrown up a new ‘stalk’ and today four blooms have opened.

So there you have it … books and flowers, two things I think we all enjoy.

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 book collection is really quite staggering, Margaret. How many do you have I wonder?
    We have had another beautifully sunny day here but it’s turned cool now and the air feels damp (5pm).
    Yes, tulips do arrange themselves, don’t they? I planned to get some yesterday but there were only a few bunches left and they didn’t look their best. I have a small posy of mixed flowers on the dining table – the leftovers from a bouquet – but that’s it at the moment. The amaryllis looks glorious.

  2. Cannot get over your awesome book collection, Margaret. How I would adore looking through them. I’d love to get my hands on them and also some of the Farrow and Ball paint! Their colors are so pretty.
    Thanks for doing your books so we can read the titles without getting a crick in the neck, like at the thrift store.

    • Margaret

      Oh, Kay, you should just see the rest of my books … they are in almost every room in the house (except our bedroom, where I only keep those I’m currently reading on my bedside chest of drawers.) Yes, I thought it would be easier if I posted the titles the right way round, even though the books are upright on the shelves (well, apart from that pile under the table and on the bookcase in the sitting room.

  3. You have a marvelous collection! Oh do show us your fashion books Margaret too some time. I have quite a collection of those too.

    • Margaret

      I have fewer fashion books, I think they are really ‘costume’ books, as they relate to how fashions were hundreds of years ago, but I do have some books on Dior and Chanel. Not as many as the decor books, though. That would be difficult!

  4. I now have serious book envy. I love old books!!!

  5. Just watching Countryfile and an article on Greenway Agatha Christie’s home and thought of you. It was lovely catching up on your last days blogging.

    • Margaret

      Hello, Margaret, and I saw that Devon was to be featured this evening when it mentioned it in the Radio Times and then I forgot to watch! I might catch up on this tomorrow (as well as seeing the new serial on Channel 4, Traitors, as we watched Endeavour instead.) Husband and I visited Greenway before the National Trust refurbished the place, it was very strange, sitting in the kitchen surrounded by the things just as they’d been left by Agatha Christie’s daughter, Rosalind Hicks. I feel we should return now and see the place how it is today. The gardens are lovely, but they are very much spring gardens, with spring blossom and daffodils, but such an idyllic spot, on the River Dart.

  6. Such lovely books. A house isn’t a home without books! 🙂
    I would love to have your recommendations for social history books – my favourite genre.

    • Margaret

      Yes, a house isn’t a home without books, Kay. Kindle is OK, but books is better, ha ha! One social history book I really enjoyed is The Housekeeper by Tessa Boase, It’s subtitle is “The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House”. The book is in five sections and follows the trials and tribulations of five housekeepers, Dorothy Doar of Trentham Hall, Sarah Wells of Uppark, Ellen Penketh of Erddig, Hannah Mackenzie of Wrest Park and Grace Higgens of Charleston.
      I also enjoy the books of Anne de Courcy, who has written several excellent social histories and biographies, most recently The Husband Hunters, about American heiresses coming to the UK in search of an impoverished titled person whom they could marry; they would gain titles, the heirs to large estates would receive an input of money.
      Another social history writer I enjoy is Pamela Horn, so there are three there for you to look out for. I also enjoy what I call ‘fun’ books on social history, such as Virginia Nicholson’s Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes (subtitled The Story of Women in the 1950s) and Ben Highmore’s The Great Indoors which is all about how our houses have been transformed since the early part of the 20th century. Just a few to keep you reading!

  7. Margaret,

    Your book collection on interiors and design is staggering!! How wonderful it must be to have so many titles to peruse. I have a small collection that I enjoy very much and of course it continues to grow because as you say these are the books you accumulate over the years.
    We had dear friends come to stay overnight on Friday and it was lovely to see them and enjoy a visit although they came to attend a funeral of another dear friend. This couple are in their 89th year and had driven several hundred KMS to come. They are truly amazing and I have never considered them “old”. They own a home on the water in Kingston ON and still have a sail boat and a little MG sports car. They were both born in England and my friend was telling me that when she passes her ashes will be buried in the Lake District where she spent many a happy day when she was a child. We had a good laugh because she brought me some lovely Irish linen tea towels she had purchased in England as well as a stockinette dishcloth (which I love) and you can’t buy here. She said I was the only person she knew who appreciates good tea towels and dishcloths”! They rang to let me know they had arrived safely home and I was so delighted that both expressed how much they had enjoyed our hospitality and how lovely and comfy our guest room was. I so enjoy fluffing our guest room for visitors and trying to add little comforts that make for a lovely stay.
    It is a rather snowy but sunny day here and all I can think of it that spring will be here soon and I am excited at the prospect of seeing all the spring flowers blooming. My husband planted a few hundred tulips and daffodils last fall to add to our collection so it is always interesting to see how many tulips have survived the squirrels! I hope you are enjoying a lovely day.

    • Margaret

      What a lovely time you had with your visitors, Marilyn, so thank you for telling me and other readers about that. I do hope that the snow goes soon, but I suspect it will be around for a few more weeks? But you have all those tulips and daffodils to look forward to. Yes, I have a lot of style/decor books, but I have a lot of books anyway, they are just part of various collections. I love to take one down and have an evening browsing through one, also my vast magazine collection (and I mean vast, even though I had to part with a whole section not that long ago – but they did go to a charity shop and so someone will have benefited from them.) Your guest room sounds lovely and it’s so enjoyable making guests feel comfortable, isn’t it? I’ve never used the stockinette kind of dishcloth, I prefer the soft Spontex ones (I think that’s the name) and I pop them into the dishwasher at least once a day to keep them clean and once they’ve had two or three weeks’ use, then they go into the bag for cleaning really dirty thing, or cleaning the car. After that they are binned. But how lovely to have some Irish linen tea towels, I don’t have any of those, only checked waffle cotton.

  8. Your collections of books and vases are beautiful. No, none of us reading your posts are Marie Kondo types, are we ha ha. I wonder how long this ‘fad’ will last. Australian media is reporting that charity shops are bursting to the gills with donations from all those who are ‘decluttering’ their homes. Whilst it’s great that people are donating to charity shops rather than simply sending to landfill I wonder how many people are discarding items they may later regret.

    As always, I’ve enjoyed reading your post and the many comments xx

    • Margaret

      I think, as in life, where birds of a feather flock together, like-minded people gravitate towards my blog, so that no, none of us are Marie Kondo types. We like things clean and tidy and in some kind of order, but not at the expense of parting with belongings that do not “spark joy”. I mean, how does a potato peeler or an apple corer “spark joy” or the a screw driver or a paint brush or a reel of Sellotape. I rest my case. Useful yes, but surely not joy. If we went into ecstasies over such things the men in white coats would surely be along pretty soon! Sorry, people in white coats – men in white coats might, today, be considered sexist!
      Yes, the same here, people are off-loading all their unwanted belongings on charity shops. Not long since, when there was the economic recession, people were hanging onto things longer and charity shops were suffering through lack of goods; not they have a surfeit of goods!

  9. Such beautiful flowers and ofcourse we have seen a bit of your book collection on and off, but that was more fiction, I suppose. I can imagine how carefully they would have been collected over the years☺️

    • Margaret

      Hello, Kavitha, and thank you for your kind comments. Yes, the whole of the study is devoted to non-fiction, and part of the guest bedroom, where one area is fiction and one area non-fiction. There is far more non-fiction in the house than fiction, although I do read a lot of fiction. I’ve collected books for as long as I can remember, but there again, I’ve parted with a good many, too, over the years.

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