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Dull Days Need Not Be Boring Days

I thought I’d start off today’s post with a photo of the white camellias in the garden.  So many of its flowers have bloomed already that I had to cut off several flower heads before I could take this photo as they were very browned, thanks to wind and incessant rain for the past week.  But there are still plenty of buds to open, so let’s hope we will have some fine weather soon.

Yesterday, we had a couple of errands, one of which was to the golf club so that I could pay my subscription for the year (sub due in April, but I’m one of those people who, when they receive an invoice, likes to deal with it immediately.)  Last October I joined as a social member and husband goes as my guest. Good, or what? This means we can both go there for morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea, or a carvery on a Sunday if we so wish.  In summer we will be able to sit outside on the veranda with cool drinks with a pleasant view of the course.  Indeed, it takes me back to when I was a child and I went there with my parents who were both keen players.  The clubhouse has been extended and altered, but not to the extent that it is unrecognisable from how it used to be, and I can still bring to mind the rooms as they were in the 1950s.

It was a dull, rainy day, but you must imagine this view with the sun shining and a blue sky.  Difficult, I know, but not totally impossible.  I took this photo through the window of the dining room.  Husband opted for one of yesterday’s ‘specials’, cottage pie with vegetables, while I had my usual small portion of fish, chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce.

It doesn’t look much, but it was a lovely piece of fish and there were plenty of chips underneath the fish.  We decided instead of tea or coffee or even a glass of beer to have tomato juice yesterday and they were the best tomato juices I’ve tasted.   Why, when I buy a carton of tomato juice and even have it chilled with Worcestershire sauce, doesn’t it taste as good?  I must ask the name of the brand when I next visit.

As well as the errands it would’ve been my dear friend’s 80th birthday yesterday had she not died, suddenly and unexpectedly, when she was 75.  I had known her for over 40 years and unlike me she was very active, regularly swimming many lengths of a pool in one of the Bay’s hotels, tap dancing, and also participating in a Zumba class.  As it was her birthday on International Women’s Day, I always tried to buy flowers for her in purple and white (the green of the leaves being the third of the colours associated with International Women’s Day).  And so, yesterday, husband and I visited her widower and gave him bunches of purple and white lisianthus in her memory.   We had a laugh, too, as my friend would’ve hated being 80! She was perennially young and her widower and I laughed:  she’d have lied about her age, saying “Oh, no, I’m most certainly not 80!”

While buying the flowers I spied some chocolate, so treated myself to …

… but I did share it with husband.

* * * * * *

And so to today.

I have some excellent news.  Do you recall that a few weeks ago I mentioned that I visited Specsavers and the optician said that I needed cataract surgery?  I knew I had cataracts forming in both eyes; I was informed thus on the previous visit a year ago, but I hadn’t thought my sight was sufficiently bad enough to require surgery yet.  And so, rather than go ahead and be seen at our local hospital with a view (no pun intended) to surgery, I sought a 2nd opinion.

Thus, this morning I visited a private (not a large chain like Specsavers) optician, an excellent one who gave my eyes a very thorough examination, taking at least double the length of time that it takes for an eye consultation in Specsavers.  And his opinion was that yes, I do have cataracts, but they do not yet require surgery. Indeed, he said, if I went to the hospital and they examined my eyes, they wouldn’t be at a level where they would consider surgery.

He also said that when he saw a patient and they needed surgery, he always told them to go home and consider this.  I was expected in Specsavers to make a decision there and then, and while cataract surgery is now commonplace and safe, it is still surgery.   I am very glad I sought a 2nd opinion.

After that I popped into the Rowcroft Boutique.  My goodness, it looked lovely in there, but I couldn’t take many photos as it was very busy with customers.  They’d launched their spring look yesterday, and the manager pointed to the lovely ‘tulips’ they have hanging from the ceiling!

There were a lot more such tulips, but I couldn’t fit the whole shop into one shot with lots of people there.  On the shelf on the left they have an array of lovely new handbags, too. I might be tempted one of these days!

More summery clothes on the rails, many of the items remind me of 1960s’ prints (they might be actual 1960s dresses!) and I loved the little jacket (below) and I think I might’ve been temped had it been in my size.  Yes, it’s gaudy, but I could ‘see’ this worn with denim jeans, a white T-shirt and espadrilles …

I saw some rather nice pottery and decided on a little jug which will be ideal for milk on the breakfast table, or even for a bunch of flowers, such as bluebells, forgetmenots or grape hyacinths.

I’ve photographed it on the table in front of the coffee-pot-minus-lid so you can get some idea of its size. It’s quite small but not a miniature cream jug.

Once home, we shared a cheese baguette for a quick and easy lunch and this afternoon we’ve been watching rugby on the TV with coffee and shortbread fingers …

So while the weather has been wet and windy we haven’t let it keep us indoors the whole time.  I hope you are having a good weekend, 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. Shortbread are my favourite biscuits. I try to only buy them at Christmas because I have no self control!

    That jacket is very Mary Berry, I think it would look lovely. It’s a pity it wasn’t your size.

    I haven’t seen that chocolate anywhere, was it good? I saw some Magnum caramel and sea salt chocolate yesterday so I walked past as quickly as I could…

    • Margaret

      I buy the small packets of Walker’s shortbread, Alison. I think there are about 10 pieces to the packet. Little grandson loves them, too, but he is only allowed to have one as there is so much fat and sugar in shortbread.
      Yes, the jacket was far too small for me – at least, I think it was. I didn’t try it on. It was rather gaudy, but I just loved the colours and the material was lovely. I didn’t even examine the label to see who the maker was, but it just felt ‘good’ to me, not a cheapie.
      The chocolate was good. Godiva chocolate is a good make, but as it was milk chocolate it was rather sweet, especially as I’ve been used to Lindt’s dark chocolate, and then only a couple of small pieces each evening. I soon whipped through the bar of milk chocolate (with husband’s help, of course.)

      • I am no gourmet of chocolate. My favourite is Cadburys Dairy Milk! I love the way it melts in your mouth. I’m not fond of dark chocolate but if I had some I would still eat the whole bar. I have no restraint. The only restraint I possess is to leave it in the shop….

        • Margaret

          We all like different things, Alison, but if I ate milk chocolate I’d eat far too much as it slips down too easily! I love Lindt dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt because two pieces gives the chocolate hit without having to eat a whole bar. It’s not like trying to eat a whole bar or Bournville, which I’d find impossible! The Godiva bar was milk chocolate and so, apart from the two pieces I gave husband (yes, just two small pieces, I was very greedy!) I ate the lot and then felt guilty as it was far more than I’d intended to consume! As you say, we have no restraint!

  2. How sad to lose a good friend of forty years’ standing Margaret. Irreplaceable, as I know from experience. Your camellia is beautiful and I much prefer the white to pink. I had been badgering my husband to remove a non-flowering camellia from our garden, having given it four stays of execution, and lo, last year it produced an abundance of flowers just like yours! I am glad he didn’t listen to me! I like the size of that portion of fish and chips – up here we have ‘Yorkshire Portions’ – immense and always far too much for me.

    Your posts are such a treat and I am always delighted to see a new one!

    • Margaret

      Yes, it was awful losing my friend, but even more awful for her husband and son. Speaking of camellias, we found one last autumn which is an autumn-flowering camellia, and it was a very pretty one which, if I remember (now there aren’t any flowers on it) it was a striped pink and white or something like that, and really pretty, although I’m not keen on the coral pink ones – there were a whole array of those outside Lidl this week at a very reasonable price. Oh, how funny, that your non-flowering camellia decided to flower once it knew it was for the chop!
      We always ask now, in cafes and restaurants, for either a child’s size portion or one portion with an extra plate! We have never been refused, and most carvery meals now have two sizes of plate, so you pay for either a smaller portion or a larger portion. We simply can’t eat the vast quantity of food which now appears to be the norm everywhere.
      So glad you enjoyed reading my latest post, even if not about anything in particular.

  3. That jacket is absolutely smashing Margaret and would look beautiful with your colouring and the way you suggested styling it. I wish I could buy it myself!

    • Margaret

      I’m a little too chubby for it, sadly, Brooke! But I’m glad you agree it’s a lovely jacket. Husband looked at it askance when I pointed it out, the look said it all! But now and again, something bright like that is a good piece to have in the wardrobe.

  4. Buying flowers for your late friend’s widower on her birthday is a lovely and thoughtful gesture. She sounds like she was a hoot – swimming, tap dancing and Zumba! I tried Zumba once in a large public gathering where there were many of us in the crowd. I had fun but kept confusing my left, right, arms, legs, etc and laughed more than I zumbed, I think. Your camellia flowers are very pretty. I think they are gorgeous flowers. My frangipani plants haven’t fared well this summer. One has the conventional white flowers with a strong scent, another the pale pink with less scent and the third is yet to produce anything. This season has been dry – we normally have most of our rainfall in summer – so I suspect they’re in survival mode with no time for flowering. Mind you, the little girl next door likes to pick them and place in her hair. She’s only 7yo and the plant is about her height. No doubt I’d have done the same at her age 🙂 I also love shortbread and have no self control at all. When I have bought it in the past both husband and I have snuffled it all in not time. Delicious with a cup of tea, or without. I bought a small box of walkers to enjoy at Christmas time and gosh it was good with all that buttery goodness. I can’t trust myself to have it in the house. We all have our weaknesses 😉

    • Margaret

      Yes, my friend really grabbed life and to all intents and purposes she was fit as a flea, but obviously not, as she dropped down dead from a stoke at her Zumba class, while doing the exercises. A shock for all of them who were there. But if you don’t feel ill and can do these things, it never strikes you that you might have something wrong, does it?
      I’ve not seen a frangipani flower, but it sounds wonderful. What a pity your humidity is so high that your flowers have suffered (your indoor flowers, I mean.) Another person who enjoyes shortbread, and we’ve both been enjoying Walkers, too, oceans apart!

  5. It does us no harm to remember now and then just how tenuous our hold on life is, and it reminds us to celebrate every single day. To lose a friend of such long standing must be heard to bear.
    I love that jacket full of Spring colours, and also the grape hyacinth jug. It’s very cold today and the lovely spring-like weather we had a couple of weeks ago is nothing but a memory!
    Your cataract story is interesting as I had the opposite experience at my local Specsavers where the optician was very thorough and carried out lots of extra testing when I reported that something didn’t seem quite right with my right eye. She did find a cataract but advised that I didn’t opt for surgery at this stage. It may not deteriorate further for several years, she told me. I felt very reassured. I guess it is down to the individual optician. Anyhow, what good news that you don’t need to undergo surgery at present. Although a routine operation, and one which is carried out very regularly, it’s still not a pleasant thought.

    • Margaret

      Yes, Eloise, our hold on life is tenuous, and I still miss my friend. When we met we found we both came from the same part of the country, and also our mothers had attended the same school although a few years apart as my mother was slightly older than my friend’s mother. WE had much in common.
      Yes, the jacket was a cracker, as they say, and the little jug will be useful for milk or flowers, not sure which yet.
      I wasn’t unhappy with Specsavers until I was seen by this other optician. Specsavers in our town is very busy indeed and while they are excellent optician, they simply haven’t the time to devote to each patient, I don’t think. I think I was referred to be on the safe side, but I’ve now been reassured that my cataracts don’t quality (yet) for surgery.

  6. How nice to get a reprieve on your eye surgery. Isn’t it a great feeling!
    Your Godiva with caramel is one of my favorites, as is the Walker’s Shortbread. Oh my goodness, so delicious!
    That looks like a nice shop with a good selection of things to see. A shame the pretty jacket wasn’t in your size. Today , I found a gray sheath at our thrift shop, which was just the type dress I have been wanting . Not my size. I was disappointed!
    The fish and chips look so good, and just the right serving. The fish looks the perfect size too, thin and crispy. Yum.
    Thoughtful of you to remember your friend. How do you think her husband is doing?

    • Margaret

      Oh, that Godiva chocolate was delicious, too delicous as I devoured almost the whole bar, giving husband only two pieces. How greedy is that? Not that he was really deprived. He has his own hazelnut chocolate bar in the fridge! And I love Walker’s shortbread.
      Typically, to find the lovely grey dress but not in your size. I thought this only happened to me, Kay!
      I am happy to report that my friend’s husband met a lovely lady within a year of my friend’s death. He realized nothing on earth would bring back his dear wife and he had to make a new life for himself, and his new lady friend is lovely, a widow herself. They are very happy, as are both their families. We are very happy for him, but on the other hand, we still wish to remember our friend.

  7. I love your new jug. It’s very pretty. How nice to know you don’t need cataract surgery yet ☺️

    • Margaret

      Yes, Kavitha, I’m glad I don’t need cataract surgery … yet! A time will come when I do need it, but I don’t want to have it unnecessarily done at this stage. But, as the 2nd opinion optician said, had I gone to hospital on the referral, they’d have said No to surgery at this stage.
      The little jug is pretty … but not used it yet!

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