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This and That on Thursday


White roses from Sainsbury’s yesterday

I seldom plan what I’m going to write about and today I thought I’d show you something I love.  Or some things I love:

The photo collage above shows four pictures.  They are of Japanese Ladies depicting the four seasons.  I’ve had them since I was 12 years old when, as part of my birthday presents in 1956 (the year I also received my desk which is in our hall as my main present) I received a box of notelets.

Fortunately, I had the sense to keep one of each of the four designs although, of course, I wrote to friends on the others.  Some years ago I decided to have these four little notelets framed.  For several years they have hung above my desk here in the study where I can see them each day. I never tire of them; I think they are both pretty and a little bit ‘different’.  I also had a similar box of notelets around that time (1956) showing four different kinds of ballerinas but, sadly, I didn’t keep any of those.

The only difficulty I have had was photographing them because there were always reflections in the glass.

And now to books (again!)

On an Instagram account I recently saw a collection of paperback books called English Journeys. They were an imprint published by Penguin some years ago and one of them, Some Country Houses and Their Owners by James Lees-Milne really appealed to me.

This is a very slight book, just over 130 pages long, but it’s a little gem.  James Lees-Milne (1908-1997) was a prolific diarist and it is his diaries for which he is best known.  During the 1930s and 1940s, as a young man, he was engaged by the National Trust to visit many of England’s country houses and do his best to persuade the owners to hand over their properties for preservation by the National Trust.  Some did, some didn’t, but his accounts of those visits are often very funny as he describes the owners’ eccentricities and a way of life which even then was fast disappearing.

On the strength of this one slender book I have now ordered the first of Lees-Milne’s  diaries. (I have photographed the book on top of a Meissen dish, another inherited piece – I thought it was appropriate that a book on England’s country houses should have a ‘suitable’ background, even if a German one!)

You may remember that I bought D E Stevenson’s novel, Katherine Wentworth, a short time ago?

I have been enjoying it; it’s an easy read, but I don’t think the writing is first division, let alone premiere division.  Writing has changed since the 1950s and 1960s, I accept that; but even though the characters don’t exactly leap off the page and conversations are rather stilted (although there are some amusing moments) it is a pleasant story and I have now bought the follow-up, Katherine’s Marriage.

As with the country houses that James Lees-Milne describes, these books and their characters belong to an age that has passed.   Dorothy Emily Stevenson (1892-1973) whose father was a first cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson, would’ve been 72 even when Katherine Wentworth was published and 72 in 1964, was, well old!  Thus I think her age had some bearing on her style of writing which might not have changed since she started writing around 1915, i.e. more than a century ago, first poetry and then novels.  You wouldn’t have thought that the Beatles were around, or mini skirts, or that the M1 motorway had been opened five years previously (not that these three factors would’ve been pertinent to the story, of course.)  But, as I say, enjoyable as light romantic novels, just as ‘chick lit’ novels are enjoyable today (and I don’t use the term ‘chick lit’ in a disparaging way; some of them are excellent).

We visited Marks & Spencer’s food hall yesterday and as Samantha kindly suggested in a comment to my last post, we found coffee ice cream there, so thank you Samantha for that advice.   There is very little difference between the two (and the M&S one is very slightly cheaper.)

We did the main shopping in Sainsbury’s, the huge store in Torquay.  I really should not say it’s awful because, really, it’s not; but it’s a whole world away from shopping in Waitrose and, for me anyway, it has removed all the enjoyment I had from food shopping. I just want to get in, get the food, and get out again ASAP.

I’ve always enjoyed shopping for food, shopping for the things we eat should be pleasurable.  The store is huge and while there is lots of choice, that doesn’t always mean that you always want what is available!   However, we have managed to find almost all the things we usually buy.  One or two things match the quality of Waitrose, and one item is even nicer: Sainsbury’s Spanish Honey and Stem Ginger Taste the Difference yoghurt.

I bought white roses in Sainsbury’s and found a copy of The World of Interiors in M&S.  I have recently subscribed to this lovely magazine, but I’ve yet to receive my ‘first’ issue.

It is a lovely sunny, but very cold, day.  I am now going to make a cup of tea for us.  Husband has been doing some gardening (in areas where the sun was shining; in the shade it was far too cold) and I have been doing several machine loads of washing – washing woollen throws in order to freshen them up after winter.

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. I do enjoy your alliterative titles Margaret – you seem to have an unlimited supply!

    • Margaret

      It’s just fun thinking them up … it’s the journalist in me coming out again and again. But husband thought up a good ‘un for me years ago when I was writing about Combe House Hotel near Honiton, before it was owned by the Pig Group of hotels. He suggested I call it Bats, Bells and Banquets (as we had gone to the re-hanging of the renovated French bell over the old Georgian kitchen, the bats had to be looked after carefully during renovations, and of course, there were obviously wonderful meals at the hotel!)

  2. So glad you found your ice cream , Margaret. Success!

    Just love those white roses – one of my favorites.

    The vintage-looking covers on your Katherine books are pretty. That can influence me to read a book. Nice to still enjoy them even though may not be the very best you ever read, isn’t it.

    Your little notelets are precious and how mature you were to think to keep one of each! And now I wish we could see the ballerina ones too. I’m being greedy!

    • Margaret

      Yes, the ice cream in M&S is OK. Not quite up to Waitrose’s flavour, but still very good.
      Yes, covers influence me, too, Kay, and the Katherine covers are very pretty.
      Oh, how I wish I had kept the ballerina notelets. One of them I put into my musical appreciation scrapbook (a school project) but sadly, I even threw that out when I got married. I thought it would be silly keeping such childish things when I was a newlywed. Now I’d love to have it!

  3. Margaret, I think you’ll have to line up a coffee ice cream blind tasting session with the addition of some Haagen Daz (which I think is quite a popular one too?) I’m pretty sure many of the supermarket ice creams are made by the same supplier maybe with just a subtle difference in taste.
    I don’t know why I’m writing this as I prefer chocolate or nutty caramel ice creams!! 🤔

    You must have loved those little notelets and it sounds like you had some lovely birthday presents when you were young. Having a sister meant that some of my “nice” things got borrowed or broken. I has a little china bird from someone that didn’t last, I spotted something similar recently and decided to re-live my childhood memory so I bought it…I now have a yellow china budgie! (At least it makes me smile, I wonder if my sister will notice my foibles?)

    As for other things I am still trying to stop adding to the piles of memory gathering on the shelves. I’d love to get back to my younger years when I didn’t own too much. Some hope at present.

    • Margaret

      I think I would enjoy caramel or nutty chocolate ice cream as well as coffee, Heather, but coffee is my absolute favourite – oh, I like ginger ice cream, too, when we can find it – usually from an ice cream stall somewhere, and also lemon meringue! I adore ice cream!
      Yes, I always had lovely birthday presents. Perhaps this was because I was an only child, who knows? But my parents and my Uncle and Grandfather always found lovely things for me, sometimes not children’s things at all. For example, my Uncle gave me a lovely pink satin eiderdown one Christmas and another year I had asked for a lovely pink cushion for my bed (no doubt I’d seen these in Homes & Gardens in the posh houses in that lovely magazine!) and he found one for me in pink chiffon, so soft and pretty. I also wanted a little seat for my kidney shaped dressing table, so another year he bought me a pink Lloyd loom seat with a lift-up lid and in it I kept my Girl and School Friend comics. I was also given lovely flaks of talcum powder, and soaps and even perfumes. Books, of course, were always presents, and I loved them. And the desk that is in our hall, and the William Morris country chair to go with it for which my mother paid five shillings or 25p in today’s money. I was always careful with my things, and still have a Beatrix Potter Timmy Tiptoes (an original Beswick one which dates from before 1951 as I had it for Christmas that year) and a pottery chimpanzee as I’d been taken to the Zoo and thought the monkeys and chimps were wonderful. Where my Uncle found the pottery one, I have no idea, but I still have him! I think your “piles of memory” sound wonderful, Heather. A lovely way of describing them.

  4. Have you still got your Lloyd Loom seat with lid? My mother found one in a charity shop for pennies more than 20 years ago and presented it to me as an upcycling project. I painted it “Dead Salmon” and covered the hinged padded lid with some leftover Designers Guild fabric (the marmalade cat design in fact!) and it became the depository for all my daughter’s babies then a dressing table stool as she grew up. Nowadays it sits in a guest bedroom and I should probably paint and recover it but at the moment I cannot bring myself to do this. I still have my bentwood bedroom chair and the piano stool I used as a dressing table stool that my mother bought from jumble sales in the mid-60s. The piano stool I remember was 10 shillings and I had it overhauled by a furniture restorer and I worked a new seat cover for it a few years ago. I love old furniture and am proud to say that I have never set foot in an Ikea in my life! I bought my first two Lloyd Loom chairs in 1983 which we use as bedroom chairs and two more in the 1990s which live in the kitchen for taking into the garden when fine. I painted these two last year in Willow II by Paper and Paint Library and probably should paint the other two but it takes forever as I do it by hand with a paintbrush! I love ice cream too but only in a cone from a real ice cream maker on a hottish day – and I have to be sitting down to enjoy it. Cannot bear eating or drinking on the hoof as it were. (Thought I better mention the ice cream otherwise this comment makes no reference to your original post. It’s because your posts give rise to such interesting discussions. And on that note I must check the rise on my cottage loaf – one of my 14(!) entries for our village Spring Show tomorrow.) Have a lovely evening Margaret.

    • Margaret

      Sadly, I no longer have it. I don’t know what happened to it, but it had rounded handles on the ends, and was a sort of salmon pink with a pink fabric-covered lid. It was very much like a piano stool, in fact. Like you, I’ve never set foot in IKEA either, nor am likely to. Apart from things like beds and sofas, I much prefer old furniture that has stood the test of time. I;ve never been in a McDonald’s either – I’ve not lived, have it!!! But how lovely to have some old LLoyd Loom furniture. Our house is quite small otherwise I’d be buying up all kinds of old things, and we’ve run out of wall space for anything such as shelves, cupboards and paintings, sadly.
      I don’t mind a cone eaten on the hoof, but like you, I prefer to sit to eat, even if we are out and about.
      Yes, it’s great that my posts give rise to discussions, I love that!
      Oh, I hope you do well with your cottage loaf and all the other entries for the village Spring Show!!! Please tell us if you have any success, don’t hide your light under a bushel!

  5. Happy to hear you’ve found your ice cream. I invested in an ice cream maker last year,like yourself I love ice cream and now I can make all my favourite flavours.I wish I had childhood momento’s but alas when my parents passed away my older brothers took everything,I don’t have any photos of myself as a child either,a long sad story.
    Have a lovely weekend Margaret,I think it’s going to be dry although cold overnight.

    • Margaret

      I’m really sorry to hear this, Margaret, that you don’t have anything of your family, not even photos. Sometimes families are difficult, to say the least. In a way, this makes me glad I was an only child. A lot of people would say I was spoiled but that wasn’t the case. It is just that with an only child there is no older child (or even a younger one) from which to have hand-me-downs so everything has to be bought new, and if this constituted being ‘spoiled’ then so be it. The same goes for toys and so forth, everything has to be bought new. I had a happy childhood even though my parents both worked in our newsagent’s shop, but they always made sure I had friends to come and play or to have them to tea, and I was taken to lots of interesting places. Is it not possible to ask your brothers for just one photo of memento of your childhood? I had considered an ice cream maker, but I think (like the bread maker) it would be a five minute wonder with me! Yes, you have a lovely weekend, too, Margaret.

  6. I enjoy learning what other people love. Thanks for sharing your loves. I do have to say that I never enjoyed food shopping – I have always been a get in there, move as quickly as possible, and get out. I guess I look at it, somewhat, as a form of exercise! Haha! It’s not that I mind it, I just don’t love it. And what I absolutely hate is hauling my groceries into the house and putting things away.

    • Margaret

      If you had to shop in the large Sainsbury’s in Torquay, Jeannine, you could certainly look upon it as exercise! It’s a large store and you have to walk miles to find all the things you want – or so it seems to me, having shopped in the much-smaller Waltrose (which will be closing at the beginning of June; it’s always the same, cheapie stores proliferate and something of quality, such as Waitrose, closes. A pity everything has to be reduced to the lowest common denominator.)
      I think if you shopped in a store like Waitrose, just seeing all the lovely fresh food nicely displayed would change your mind about food shopping, you might begin to enjoy it. I do think this is something which hasn’t been addressed: if the place where the food is made available isn’t a pleasant environment, people shop in a different way, they grab things and are eager to get out as quickly as possible. Maybe this contributes to our nation’s unhealthiness and obesity? I don’t know, it’s just a thought. But whereas I used to enjoy choosing food in Waitrose, now food shopping is just another chore and, like you, I want to get it over with as quickly as possible. This goes against the grain with me, I love to cook and provide healthy food for us, but now buying the ingredients is no longer enjoyable. Could you not have home delivery, shopping online, if you really dislike shopping?

      • I’m not sure if I could have home delivery. I know I could have drive up and pick up service. I want to choose my own things, though, so that wouldn’t work for me. And I wouldn’t be wiling to pay – for delivery, for instance. I’m a shop the sales person. So, I go to most of the stores we have after looking at their ads and seeing where my best buys are. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to the store every day and sometimes I actually am!

        • Margaret

          I have had home delivery and, like the curate’s egg, it’s good in parts. But that was years ago when home delivery was first started. I also like to choose things, but when it comes to packaged things, then I wouldn’t mind as much, it’s the fruit and veg that needs to be chosen, isn’t it? It used to cost £5 for delivery, but there again, you would cut out those impulse buys, so it might save money! And, I believe, if you buy over a certain amount then the delivery is free – but much would depend on which supermarket you were ordering from, I think.

  7. I’m glad that you were able to find your coffee ice cream. It’s little treats that make life worth living ! In Australia we have Weis bars which are an ice block (you might call them ice lollies) in a rectangular shape which have about a centimetre of vanilla ice cream along one long edge. They come in different fruit flavours but my favourite is mango. I bought a four-pack from the supermarket about a month ago when I saw they were on special. I never buy ice cream as (1) I don’t like it and (2) my husband scoffs the lot and then asks me not to buy anymore as he has no self-control – so I’m not even sure what I was doing browsing in that section. That evening I told my husband what I’d bought and I had one after dinner as a treat. He declined so I knew there were three left in the box. The following night he had one after dinner (two remaining) and a couple of days later I saw another wrapper in the bin (one remained). Several days passed and I felt as if the remaining Weis bar was calling out to me. It was afternoon, I wasn’t hungry so I promised myself I could have it after I’d finished my chores. When I went to the freezer I found the box was empty ! Turned out that husband had taken the last one a few days before but had thought there was another in the box, so left the box in the freezer. So from a box of four, I’d had one. When I told him about how much I’d been looking forward to that last Weis bar he looked quite sheepish. It doesn’t pay to be slow in our house ! I hope you have better luck with your coffee ice cream 🍦

    • Margaret

      Oh, dear what a funny story of your husband nabbing all those Weis bars! Naughty chap! I think I’d have been very angry if husband here had helped himself to the last one! You will have to hide any more under packs of peas! Or put them in an unmarked box! But your tale of Weis-woe made me laugh!

  8. So glad that you’ve found a replacement for the Waitrose coffee ice cream! It’s good that you have found a great tasting yogurt too, but I absolutely get your disappointment in food sgopping now that a change has been forced upon you. I should feel exactly the same if forced to shop in our local branches of Asda or Sainsburys. I don’t like either. Yesterday I went over to Worcester and was able to enjoy shopping in Waitrose there. So pleasurable it was that I could have made a whole afternoon of it!
    Isn’t it interesting how writing has changed – subject to fashion as everything else. Some of the classics have cracking storylines but the way in which they are written is oh-so-dull. What a heathen thing to say…but true nevertheless and many of the characters are very flat.
    Your love of interior design was clearly inborn!

    • Margaret

      Unless someone has shopped in Waitrose it’s difficult to explain the difference between this store and the rest of the supermarkets, especially those at the bottom of the food chain (sorry, I couldn’t resist that old chestnut!) such as Asda and then Aldi and Lidl. Yes, you can get food there, but the whole experience is totally different. Even those who aren’t all that keen on food shopping would, I feel sure, enjoy a difference experience in Waitrose (provided they were prepared to pay a bit more for top quality food.)
      I totally agree about the dullness of writing from previous eras. I am finding also that the writing of novelists of the 1940s and 1950s is very simplistic and the characters simply do not leap off the page as in some excellent novels today. Conversation is very stilted, too, and of course, how we talked about ‘blacks in Africa’ and so forth … well, it’s cringe-worthy, but that’s how it was in those days. Just think, in my lifetime we have gone from gays being put in prison to being married!
      Yes, I’ve always loved interior design. I didn’t know you could make a career of it when I was young – at grammar school you either went to uni, to teachers’ training college, or the civil service. Nursing was also acceptable. But we weren’t told about anything else! Oh yes, one girl became a radiographer … I didn’t even know what that was then.

  9. Hi Margaret!

    Have you read ‘Miss Buncles Book’ by D.E. Stevenson? It’s really amusing!
    I enjoyed it!
    Published by Persephone Books. Lovely books on the website.

    Hope you are all keeping well and happy.. 😁

    • Margaret

      Hi, Sal, and lovely to hear from you! I tried Miss Buncle’s Book when Persephone brought it out but it just wasn’t for me. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for it as I know it’s been very popular. I’ve been enjoying D E Stevenson’s Katherine’s Marriage more than Katherine Wentworth, and in a way her books, although obviously ‘dated’ now, remind me of the books of present-day writer, Marcia Willett, as both novelists write about relationships and misunderstandings. Yes, thank you, we are well and hope you both are, too.

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