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An At Home Day

Another wet and windy day and, quite frankly, I’ve not felt up to much this week.  Not ill, just a general feeling of tiredness. I think this is an end-of-winter feeling, a can’t-wait-for-spring-to-arrive  feeling, rather than just these teasing moments when we have wonderful sunshine one moment and howling gales the next.  Anyway, I’ve allowed the dust to settle. Literally!  I’ve not done any housekeeping although husband has pushed the vacuum around, but the house isn’t that bad, it just needs a real spruce-up after winter and right now, I’m just too tired to deal with it. I know I will feel more like it once the sun puts in an appearance.

And so, this morning I thought that I needed not only some fruit but some colour on the breakfast table.  Husband had his now-usual porridge, which he cooks for himself, and I had lychees and black cherries and then a low-fat croissant with some Bonne Maman apricot jam.  Perhaps ‘low-fat’ and ‘croissant’ are contradictions in terms, but although it wasn’t quite as flaky as a full-fat croissant, it was very nice indeed.

Why black cherries, you might ask?  Well, this was a mistake on my part. Even though I’d put on my reading glasses to check the tins, I still opened black cherries instead of prunes. The labels look much the same, and I must’ve been rather lazy and just read “in light syrup” and didn’t check whether they were cherries or prunes. Silly me. But they still tasted nice with the lychees although I do prefer prunes with lychees.

On the table are the daffodils I bought in Waitrose yesterday.  It was another awful day and I felt very lethargic. It was too cold and wet for us to venture out for a walk but husband kindly suggested we had a ‘run out’ in the car, just like old folks used to do years ago, when motoring was something of a hobby, a form of relaxation, unlike today when it’s a way of getting from A to B.    And so we went to Waitrose – it feels sad in there now, knowing that its days are numbered – and we bought a few things, among which were our usual prawn sandwiches (more filling than those from Sainsburys, but a bit more expensive, too) and we took them to what we now call Cormorant Corner at Meadfoot.


At the far end of the beach are beach buts and a cafe which does a roaring trade in the summer and from where there are lovely views of the coastline.  We only saw one young cormorant yesterday, diving for his dinner.  The rocks on the first photo above is where the cormorants often perch in order to dry out their wings.

I bought the tulips, shown above, in Waitrose and they really are gorgeous.  Instead of my more usual purple and flame, I bought deep pink and a lime-white, which look pretty on the table with the Vaseline glass.

For the kitchen I bought two £1 bunches of daffodils. They were still in their ‘pencil’ stage yesterday, but by this morning they had opened up completely. They are a pretty lemon yellow rather than the egg-yolk yellow of the double ones I had last week.

I have some books on order – when have I not got books on order? – which haven’t yet arrived (more about those when they do arrive) and as I’d finished the novel I was reading (and which I enjoyed) The Lost Letters by Sarah Mitchell, I cast around for something to read.  I chose …

(This is a biography of Margot Asquith, wife of the then Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith)

… because although I bought this book three or four years ago and had started reading it then, for some reason I put it to one side and never finished it.  Perhaps it was the wrong book at the wrong time, who knows? Anyway, I started this last night and am really enjoying it.

Indeed, I have several of biographer Anne de Courcy’s books and have read all but three of them. I do love having some still to read, don’t you? What would be the point of having a library of books if one had read them all?

These are my hardback copies; I’ve read Singled Out and The Husband Hunters and part of The Fishing Fleet. I still have The Viceroy’s Daughters to read. And my paperback copies are …

… and of these I have read 1939 The Last Season with the other two, above, still to read.   Anne de Courcy is an excellent biographer (I am considering buying her biographies of Pamela Mitford and the late Lord Snowdon who, as many of you will recall, married  HRH the Princess Margaret in 1960).  She sets her subjects down in the era in which they lived, so as well as learning about them, we also learn much of the social history of the time (from the late Victorian/Edwardian period to the present day).  She has a new biography out later this summer: Chanel’s Riviera: The Code d’Azur in Peace and War, 1930-1944.  That is now on my List as I am sure it is something I would enjoy!

And now for a cup of tea and another chapter of Margot at War.

Until next time.

PS  I added the title Singled Out in error; this is by Virginia Nicholson!  Apologies, but the style of book is very similar to those of Anne de Courcy – social history of the 20th century.  


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’m glad I’m not the only one,not feeling right.Today we have our granddaughter for a sleepover and luckily she is amusing herself because today I just don’t feel myself. Whether it’s the weather or a bug going around,feeling lethargic.
    Weather here is sunny windy raining,can’t make its mind up.Even the cat doesn’t want to go out!

    • Margaret

      I began to wonder whether it’s just my age, Margaret, but I don’t usually feel this out-of-sorts, this lethargic. And looking after your little granddaughter will take it out of you, too. I’m sure once the sunny weather is here I will feel better, although I don’t like hot weather either. The window of temperature that both husband and I like is rather narrow!

  2. Another good read Margaret – honestly I think you could write about filling in a tax return and make it interesting! I do hope you feel less tired soon. I think as we get older we sometimes have “off” periods for no apparent reason and I think it is good just to go with the flow!

    I think we must have similar taste in books as I’ve read quite a few of the ones you mention, but I particularly remember ‘Singled Out”. I had no idea of the hard time all the single women had after the First World War and I felt so very grateful for the life I’ve had.

    Let’s hope for some cheering sunshine soon.

    • Margaret

      Oh, bless you (in a manner of speaking, as I’m not religious!) for saying that, Margaret! Yes, I do think as we get older (or are old in my case!) we have “off” periods, and I’m also sure that the weather affects us more than we realize, with dull days, rainy days and not only that, the atmospheric pressure bearing down on us. I really couldn’t have done housework today even had I wanted to! But I did make a prawn curry for our lunch which was really good and at 4 pm husband said, “I’m getting really hungry, what are you making for supper?” when I’d not planned on cooking again today. And so, having some chicken thighs in the fridge, I made a chicken casserole, with paprika, canned cherry tomatoes, carrots, leeks, celery, shallots, stock, herbs de Provencal, and cream. Oh, boy, it was so good and there’s more for another day. But yes, let’s hope for sunshine again soon.
      Yes, there were 2 million single woman after the First World War without a chance of marrying. This is why so many shared homes, more often for convenience than for any other reason. It’s an excellent book and brings home to us what a sad time it was, even after the war had ended. And the fighting kicked off again only 20 years later. Yes, we must share a taste in books as well as our name!

  3. I’ve been feeling tired and lethargic too, but I had to don the marigolds this morning and have a good deep clean after our bathroom refit. Right now after ironing the bed linen I feel exhausted (I also gardened for a couple of hours this afternoon and went to our local farm shop). Luckily my husband is cooking tonight: cod loin baked on a bed of roasted tomatoes, sauté potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli from the garden. He enjoys cooking and finds it quite therapeutic after a day at work – providing the ingredients are there! My mother always used to say that housework goes nowhere and will always be there tomorrow so I think you are doing absolutely the right thing by ignoring it until your energy returns. The Fishing Fleet caught my eye, because that was the term used for young women who travelled out to India in the hope of catching a husband, as I discovered recently when reading Paula Byrnes’ biography of Jane Austen. Thank goodness for books. I often wonder if you have good libraries in Devon? I only got round to joining West Sussex libraries a month or two ago and my reading mojo is well and truly back as a result. Hope you’re having a relaxing evening. I feel much better for writing this while listening to Radio 3 and sipping a glass of wine.

    • Margaret

      My goodness, Sarah, you have been busy, but lovely that the new bathroom has given you the incentive for a deep clean. Husband does the ironing of the bed linen now, and much of the other ironing if there’s any in the laundry basket, and he also pushed the vacuum around, so I can’t complain, but he doesn’t cook. Yes, he can if I tell him what to do, but even that I have to tell him in stages, so that he doesn’t get muddled. It always surprises me that a chap who was a senior mechanical engineer, who was in charge of design projects in his company, would have to have simple recipes explained two or three times, and so if I was poorly it was easier if I said “Oh, just do a boiled egg … ” or “What about some mashed potatoes with a poached egg on top?” He has made meals, but as I say, he’s not a natural cook, so well done that husband of yours.
      Yes, the Fishing Fleet is about just that .. the women being set out to India in the days of the Raj, hoping to catch a husband.
      We do have some good libraries in Devon and just before the financial crash of 2008 a new library was planned for our town and it went ahead. I don’t use it as I tend to buy books cheaply on Amazon, and I don’t want to sound uppity, but my own selection rivals the sections in which I would be browsing, especially the decor books and social history books. But for those who don’t buy as many books, yes, it’s a good library, with a cafe, too.

  4. Kathryn Hemstead

    I’ve also had an ‘ off ‘ week although that may be more to do with the Waitrose news than the weather. Your breakfast looks lovely and I have to say I would have gone for the cherries rather than prunes. I love prunes but they give me agonising stomach pains so I don’t eat them. Husband here is a good cook – indeed he does a better roast than me or may be it tastes better because I haven’t cooked it. The only thing he struggles with is the Bolognese part of Tagliatelle Bolognese. I wish I had time to read books – I belong to the library but even if I borrow books they son’t get read and then I forget to take them back and there there’s a fine due. The last two I borrowed Husband tidied up and put on my bookshelves as he didn’t realise they weren’t mine!!!!! Fiona xx

    • Margaret

      As Maureen Lipman said (or her character did) in the film of Educating Rita, “Wouldn’t you just die without Mahler!” I feel that way about books. Even when I worked part time, took Mum shopping twice a week, hosted foreign students in the summer and had two small children, I always tried to make time for reading. It’s not always easy, but for me reading is as essential as … well not quite as essential as breathing but pretty close! Oh dear, your husband tidying your library books away! My goodness, you’d have some sizable fine there!
      But I’m sorry you’ve had an ‘off’ week, too. Yes, I’m sure the news of Waitrose will have caused this, it’s a truly awful situation. I do think Waitrose is missing a trick here. Instead of two stores that were perhaps outdated by the time Waitrose took them over, it’s a pity that they haven’t speculated to accumulate – bought the Nortel site and made a large Waitrose there. Just think of the trade that would have, the whole of Torbay and beyond would go to it if publicised in the right way. Instead, the Bay is getting more and more German discount stores. It’s very sad, but cheapness is king and quality is going down the drain. I know not everyone can afford to shop other than in discount stores, but a lot of people still choose to spend on quality food.
      Sorry that prunes upset your stomach, I do like them, for breakfast or as a dessert with custard!

  5. I’ve already ordered Chanel’s Riviera and can’t wait for publication! Hope you feel better soon, Margaret.

    • Margaret

      It is interesting, Samantha, how the various readers of my blog, in all corners of the world (if a globe can have corners? But there, I’m being pedantic!) appear to enjoy similar books. I really think I will be ordering this book even though I have already several on order, books that are being published later this year, including the 2nd novel by TV presenter, Kirsty Wark (I very much enjoyed her first novel, published a few years ago.)

  6. Those books sound very interesting. I was intrigued by the covers alone. …. I’ve been feeling very lethargic and unmotivated due to our weather too – it’s consistently 30 deg. C and high humidity, making it unpleasant to do anything much at all. I’m staying in air conditioning as much as I can – my bedroom, open lounge-dining area or my car. We are both eager for the end of our respective never-ending season…. Your flowers are very pretty, as always. A dear friend gave me a bunch of sunflower-looking flowers for helping her with an assignment. I’d sat with her for about an hour a couple of weeks ago and we’d gone through her college assignment, with me suggesting ideas, her bouncing off those ideas and suggesting more. It was quite fun and I’d thought no more of it. She told me her lecturer had written comments regarding the wide range of her research and we both giggled. Good to see I’ve got some brain neurons still firing ! I have no idea what the flowers are but they’re bright and cheerful and the stems are thick so I hope they survive the heat…… Thank you for another interesting post…. Oh my gosh !! I can hear rain falling. It’s only light but it’s a glorious sound. Is there anything lovelier than the sound of rain after a prolonged dry spell ……

    • Margaret

      Book covers are now really quite beautiful. I especially like the cover of The Husband Hunters, it’s really beautiful and is a fine example of what the book is about – the wealthy American heiresses coming to the UK in search of title-through-marriage.
      I do hope your prolonged heatwave breaks sooner rather than later, 30C and high humidity sounds awful, little wonder you are seeking the comfort of your air conditioning.
      Oh, how lovely that you could assist your friend with her college assignment and then she receive praise for her ‘wide range of research’. And how thoughtful of her go give you the flowers, which sound really pretty.
      And as you finish your comments, you can hear rain! Isn’t it funny? We wish our prolonged rain would cease. It doesn’t hammer down all day, but periodically during the day and night, so you know that if you go out the chances are you will be drenched. But lovely for you, it will be so refreshing after all the heat and humidity.

      • I wanted to tell you that I’ve requested ‘The Husband Hunters’ be put aside for me at my local library. We have a wonderful system – several local libraries within a radius of about 50km share the same online catalogue so that members of the public can borrow books, DVDs, audiobooks, etc from any of the participating libraries and have them delivered to their closest library for the princely sum of $2. My local library is one of the larger libraries in the scheme and is in a relatively new building which was purpose built but it’s great being able to borrow any item from any of those participating. So here’s me in my pyjamas on a Saturday night reserving a book which I’ve been told about from the UK via the Internet. Isn’t technology wonderful ! …… We’ve had light showers on and off all day which has been so nice. The temperature dropped to 21 deg. C according to the readout on my car dashboard. Luxury after day upon day of 30 deg. C.

        • Margaret

          I do hope you will enjoy the book, Lara, and what a great system your libraries have. It’s much the same here and you can order books online or even if they haven’t been borrowed for years and have to come from somewhere else in the country, often from the ‘stacks’, i.e. put away somewhere as they haven’t been borrowed very often.
          Your temperatures sound much more agreeable now!

  7. On the subject of reading (or not reading) I saw a wonderful quote a while ago though I can’t remember who said it.
    “I feel sorry for people who don’t read as they only live one life” and for me it just highlighted how you can lose yourself in someone else’s life, be it fact or fiction. It is one of the great joys of my life!

    • Margaret

      What a marvellous quote that, is Margaret! I’d not heard it and can’t even imagine who might’ve said it. I wonder if anyone reading your comment knows?

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