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Sundry Saturday Items

 

It might appear here – in this view from our kitchen window – that we are totally crowded out by houses, but in fact, the camera foreshortens the view and there is, of course, the road which runs around the back of our boundary wall to the other houses in our Close (for those not familiar with the term ‘close’ it means a cul-de-sac or ‘dead end’).  But I thought it would make a change to show this view of our tiny garden; this is about half of the back garden, the other half is occupied by our large walnut tree and the small terrace with the summerhouse.

It was sunny yesterday morning …

but towards evening it became overcast and dull, and quite chilly …

This is the full width and length of the garden, and there are some gaps where we hope to put more plants as soon as the weather warms up.

Yesterday, as we were not venturing out, I made us a cooked breakfast.  We rarely have a cooked breakfast these days, husband preferring porridge and I usually have fruit and a brioche or even a bowl of porridge.  But yesterday we had fruit and then egg and bacon, with toast to follow.

Not that long ago I would cook what has become known in the UK as a “full English” with bacon, egg, sausage, mushroom and tomato (never baked beans; those are for greasy spoon cafes – baked beans are great as a supper dish – baked beans on toast – but they have no place on a breakfast plate – well, not in this kitchen!) but yesterday it was just egg and bacon (two rashers for husband, one for myself.)  Believe me, after a bowl of fruit it was quite sufficient for us.

Husband then did some gardening (he kept to the areas receiving sunshine but he kept clear of the shaded parts which were rather chilly).

Meanwhile, I did a few household tasks – making the bed, tidying the various rooms, filling the dishwasher and then removing absolutely everything from the worktops in the kitchen and giving them a thorough clean with my favourite Waitrose geneal purpose cleaning spray (I will miss this when Waitrose are no longer in Torquay – what a silly thing to say, but it’s those small things in life that we appreciate, isn’t it, and this is one of them.)

It cleans well, but best of all is the lovely grapefruit and eucalyptus fragrance.

Once these tasks were done I suddenly fancied a cheese scone.  But we didn’t have any and so it was either go without or make some!  Of course, I made some.

It is a very easy recipe from one of my favourite cook books, Afternoon Tea by Susannah Blake.  These are called Baby Cheese Scones (but I prefer to use the word ‘small’ rather than ‘baby’; why do we refer to everything that is simply small as “baby”?  It just sounds silly to me.)

225g plain flour

4 teasoons baking powder

a pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

50g unsalted butter, chilled and diced (I used soft margarine)

75g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

1 egg

100ml milk

Set oven at 220C.  Put the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper into a bowl and then rub in the butter (or margarine) until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Now add the grated cheese (reserving  a little for the tops of the scones).  Beat the milk and egg together and, reserving about 1 tablespoon of the liquid, add the rest to the flour/cheese mixture and draw the mixture together to form a soft dough.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and pat or roll out to around 2cm thick.  Now cut rounds using a small biscuit cutter.  Arrange the scones on a prepared baking sheet (I use baking parchment on a baking tray) and brush the tops with the reserved milk/egg mixture and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes until risen and golden.  Allow to cool on a wire tray, and then enjoy split and spread with butter (or instead with cream cheese and watercress.)

(This photo above is from several years ago when I used Philadelphia cream cheese and water cress in the scones – and it must be watercress, not salad cress, the stuff that comes in small punnets.)

Once I’d made the scones I decided we needed some soup to go with them, and so I made leek & potato soup, and we had the two for our lunch:

Soup and cheese scones are a combination made in heaven … even better, I think, than garlic baguette.

Today, Saturday, the weather is even colder than yesterday but as I’d received some money-off vouchers for Waitrose, we decided to pop over to the store, pick up our free paper, our free coffee, and get some of the items for which we had vouchers (and also buy some more of their coffee ice cream!)

I didn’t buy any flowers today as we still have three vases of flowers in the sitting room and a vase of roses in our bedroom, but I bought a magazine …

Lisianthus (above) are amazing flowers. The buds start off by being almost white and as they open the flowers become pale pink. Then, as the flowers mature they become an even deeper pink. I always expect buds to open at the point of their deepest colour and gradually fade as they mature, but these flowers do just the opposite.  I’ve not yet opened the magazine, that’s a treat for later in the afternoon.

After Waitrose, we took our coffee and some prawn mayo sandwiches to Cormorant Corner (our name for the Kilmorie flats end of Meadfoot beach). It was overcast and the sea was quite rough, and of the cormorants there was not one glimpse.

From here we drove home and after we had put the shopping in the kitchen, I took a few more photos in the garden …

I like these tulips (and there’s a ‘matching’ pot at the other end of the garden bench) which have clashing colours of deep wine and vibrant orange.

And the hostas are beginning to show, too … although the pots could do with a hose down and the gravel needs tidying up, leaves having fallen here in the autumn.  But these are just small jobs and they will be done as soon as it’s warm enough for us to be outside.

We find we can grow hostas provided they are in pots, and the pots not only sit on gravel but have fine grit on the tops of the soil in the pots. This prevents slugs thinking it’s their lucky day.

Post had arrived by the time were returned home and, with it, a paperback of the first volume of the diaries of James Lees-Milne. I’m now looking forward to this.

And now for a cup of tea (we had the 2nd half of our prawn mayo sandwich on returning home) and a look at my new magazine.

Later in the day:

After reading Margaret L’s comment about lisianthus, I thought I’d include a collage of three of the colours of lisianthus I have bought over the years, pink, purple and white.  I have found them to be good-value flowers, very pretty and long-lasting but, sadly, no fragrance, their only drawback as far as I’m aware.

I hope you are having a lovely 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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28 comments

  1. Your garden is beautiful Margaret and my eye was drawn to the loveliness of it so that I hadn’t noticed the houses in the background until I read the details. I think you’ve used the space so well and I know you’ve said it’s a small garden but it doesn’t look small. I’m afraid my own small garden isn’t looking so tidy or well kept, it badly needs a tidy up, arthritis has prevented me from doing much out there but I should try to do a little bit more often. Are people passing by able to see into your garden? If so I’m sure there’ll be many appreciative comments.
    I was sorry to hear you’re losing your favourite Waitrose, we don’t have one near here but my sister has one near her and she loves it. I thought it was a lovely place to shop when I visited. Perhaps you could get a few bottles of your favourite cleaning spray to put by and then you can keep using it for a while longer. As always I love to hear about your days and I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend.

    • Margaret

      Thank you so much, Jan, for your lovely comments, and I’m so sorry that your arthritis is preventing you from your gardening. Mine also, husband does the lion’s share even though he’s nine years older than me and will be 84 this coming November. But he is reasonably supple, unlike me! I always do the pots and choose the plants, and he just says, “tell me where to put them …” and he does my bidding, bless him. Mind you, he dug out all the forgetmenots when he tidied up … I could cry because I love them and don’t mind in the least if they seed themselves all over the garden! As for neighbours, yes, if they peered over the wall they would be able to see into the garden easily, but they are very good and aren’t intrusive. We did have more shrubs that grew above the wall, but some of them were so large that they have now been removed. We also had a lovely arch that collapsed, taking with it a clematis montana, but we’re not sure whether to erect another arch. It’s a small path to nowhere, but we had it as the water meter is at the end of it and the chap or woman who comes to read the meter needs to have access, hence a little gravel path and an arch! If we didn’t have a water meter there we would have done much more with the bottom corner of the garden.
      Yes, Waitrose closing, very sad. But there is one in Exeter so maybe as a treat we might visit there occasionally as part of a day out. And there is always Waitrose online, but it’s just not the same as visiting one of their lovely stores. Why is it that all the good things vanish and rubbish proliferates?
      I am now going to sit and have a look at my new magazine with a cup of tea. You enjoy your weekend, too, Jan.

  2. The garden is looking lovely and demonstrates the difference in temperature between the South West and the Midlands – we’re just not that far along yet. But the shoots are coming through now. Curiously my tulips have almost disappeared. Just one has popped through the grape hyacinths and of the others there is no sign at all. Once there were fifteen. Your hostas look as if they are bursting with health. I used to grow them too but the slugs made short work of them.
    I love cheese scones but rarely make them as I just find them far too tempting. Yours always look so good!
    I think a day out in Exeter sounds an excellent idea – perhaps you could plan to shop there once a month and do smaller top-ups in your local Sainsburys.

    • Margaret

      I only plant tulips in pots otherwise they are likely to disappear, too, Eloise. We’ve lost loads and loads of plants over the years, they simply vanish, roots and all. I planted about 12 lots of dahlias a few years ago and there wasn’t a trace left of them. Similarly, lupins. What blighter gets them? I’ve no idea. So pots for tulips and anything I want to keep. I think I might plant dahlias in them for some late-summer colour.
      I love hostas, we have more than this, we keep adding to them (and the pots) year on year. At one time I had bright green hostas in the deep blue pots and they looked great.
      Yes, I must find Waitrose in Exeter and treat it as a treat journey!

      • It’s so odd, isn’t it? I’d love to grow delphiniums but have tried several times with no luck. They completely disappear!

        • Margaret

          Ditto delphiniums! I remember many years ago my late uncle (before he was ‘late’ of course!) grew them. They were just on the point of flowering when he looked at them one morning and the blighters had snapped off the blooms. I have never had success with them either. And I think they wouldn’t look right in a pot as they grow so tall, bushy plants look best in pots, I think.

      • Squirrels.

        Those little bandits ate my Peony and stole my Tulip bulbs.

        • Margaret

          Yes, Linda, the “thieves” who steel our plants might be squirrels, but they have all the nuts on the tree, much better for them, I’m sure. Indeed, the don’t bother with the tulip bulbs but often I find they’ve buried walnuts in the pots in which I’ve planted the tulips!

  3. I loved the photo of the sea looking rather rough – the sea is fascinating in all its moods. Here in North Yorkshire our hostas are mostly still underground, in pots like yours and I shall be adding some gravel to the tops as you have done to further ward off the slugs and snails. We have some dry stone walls in our garden, which look attractive but are the best slug and snail hotels you could possibly imagine. Thank you for bringing lisianthus to my attention – I have never bought them as I thought they’d go over quickly but we have a good florist in our village and I am going to seek them out.

    • Margaret

      I buy lisianthus in the supermarkets, Margaret, Sainsbury’s have them and they are usually long-lasting. They come in shades of pink (like the ones I have this week), or white or a deep purple, which are magnificent. They are about £4 a bunch, but they are well worth it.
      Yes, we stand put pots with the hostas in them on gravel and then put sharp grit on the top of the soil. So far this has warded of the little blighters. Why don’t they eat grass? I suppose tender hosta leaves are their equivalent of Waitrose while the grass is more horticultural Aldi (sorry, Aldi!) Yes, a dry stone wall will be a wonderful snail/slug hotel, but also perhaps for other insects, those that we actually need for our gardens.
      The sea looked wonderful today and yes, it’s fascinating in all its moods.
      PS I have just added to my most recent post a collage of three colours of lisianthus flowers I have bought at different times during the past few years.

    • I agree with Margaret, Margaret L, lisianthus are a good buy. They look so delicate but are long lasting and wel worth seeking out. Tesco sell them too.

      • Margaret

        Thanks for endorsing my view of lisianthus, Eloise. I think they’re lovely, tissue-like flowers, really pretty and the colours seem to look right in whatever the setting.

  4. Your garden is absolutely beautiful with it’s spring colors! As always, I enjoy reading your blog and especially liked your term “greasy spoon cafe” as this is also an American idiom! Such beautiful flowers you have bought this week. I find that it depends where I purchase my fresh flowers. Sometimes, they last forever and other times, they wilt within a few days. It’s been a nice day here in SoCal but I was busy at my Norwegian Fesitval (I’m a Danish American but I love my Norwegian group)! I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing Sunday. It’s always a joy to read your blog. And, I love following you in Instagram. My best wishes to you dear friend.

    • Margaret

      Thank you so much, Pat, for your kind comments regarding our little garden. It is very cold out there today, I’m writing this while still in my dressing gown and truly, it’s so cold and grey outside, I feel more like going back to bed with a cup of coffee than getting up and showered and dressed! I love to have a lie-in on a Sunday morning, reading.
      How lovely to enjoy the company of your Norwegian group, it sounds interesting. I’m glad you enjoy my blog – truly, we don’t do anything exciting, but I love to show the region of England in which we live as I think it’s one of the loveliest parts of the UK. I’m delighted you also enjoy my Instagram photos.

  5. I have a hosta in a pot but at the moment there are just tiny little purple points showing, about 1mm high, but it’s still alive. The pot stands on paving stones and I’ve got slate on the top and over the past few years it has been ignored by slugs. Very cold wind here again today but looking at the forecast for the end of the week it is due to warm up quite a lot. Most peculiar for a bank holiday weekend 😉

    I do like a cheese scone and often have that if we have coffee out. I have made them at home but they are too tempting, at least when I’m out I only have one.

    • Margaret

      Yes, that’s how hostas start off again, just a few little points above the soil. Glad that the slugs haven’t found it … yet! They are cunning little blighters and when they can sniff nice tasty new shoots, there’s generally no stopping them!
      I still have some of the cheese scones in the fridge which are lovely when warmed up. I think I will have one with a cup of tea shortly. I only have one as I find them very filling. The ones in tea shops are always a bit disappointing, I find, as they tend to use a plain scone mixture and then just sprinkle a bit of cheese on top for the ‘cheese’ scones; it saves them making a separate batch of dough with cheese in it, I suppose. Well, that is what they taste like to me. Cheese scones should have grated cheese in the dough.

  6. The scones looked lovely Margaret, I’m not a good scone maker so I’ll try your recipe! If I’m in M&S I usually buy one of their cheese scones when I stop for a coffee, they bake them throughout the day. I presume the dough is brought in pre-cut, I have watched them being loaded into the oven so if lucky the warm ones will have just been put out. We have a small but popular M&S a few miles from us with a food hall which is separate. I tend to buy food there as it’s not a vast supermarket and I can whizz round for the items I like to buy, there is always a good choice of fresh food although like Waitrose it often costs more. After your previous comments about Normandy butter in Waitrose I noticed M&S have Jersey butter, I’m sure it will have a good taste!
    I expect you are pleased with your garden just now, all ship shape and awash with spring colour. I think the weather is due to warm up a lot soon, roll on some proper days in the garden. 🌼🌼🌼

    • Margaret

      Yes, Heather, the Torquay M&S has a food hall which is almost separate from the rest of the store (and it’s a bit store with an ‘upstairs’ dept for children’s clothes and household things) and it was pleasant enough and I’m sure if we went more often we’d find things which were as good as those in Waitrose. As for Jersey butter, I don’t know. It’s the very rich butter that we dislike, that ‘buttery’ taste in fact. We like the Normandy butter as it’s very pale, not like rich butter at all. Lovely on a baguette!
      The garden always needs some attention, and there are the grassy banks at the front of the house which are truly awful and filled with moss, weeds and bald patches, but we use weed & feed and do the best we can with it. We need some warm weather, it’s very cold here today.

  7. I love your pots of tulips Margaret. Are they from Sarah Raven? My oldest friend has just pinged me a photo of her SR tulips and they look gorgeous too. I am pleased to report that not only did my cottage loaf win first prize (out of four entries) at the village show but my single specimen tulip won first prize (out of 14 entries) as did my big terracotta pot of mixed tulips. No hiding lights under bushels here! Looking forward to Line of Duty later. We haven’t watched any of the previous series so the first episode was somewhat confusing, but now we have the measure of the acronyms, the characters and their accents we are thoroughly enjoying it. Hope you have a lovely evening too. Sarah

    • Margaret

      Yes, Sarah, they are all Sarah Raven tulips.
      Oh, that’s wonderful re your cottage loaf – very well done! And also your single tulip! You’re on a roll, girl! And your big pot of mixed tulips!
      Oh, Line of Duty – it’s getting exciting, isn’t it? We love it. Edge-of-seat stuff every week. We watched the previous two series, but not all of them by any means. I really can’t think that Jed Mercurio would be so cruel as to make Ted Hastings to be a baddie. There was another mention of someone with a surname beginning with H, but I can’t remember who it was!

  8. Your grapefruit and eucalyptus cleaner sounds quite nice!

    • Margaret

      It’s a good cleaner – it’s a general purpose cleaner, not specially for the kitchen or the bathroom – but it’s the smell I like best of all, Jeannine!

  9. The photos of your garden are lovely. You have captured the colours just beautifully.

    I’m enjoying one of the many books by Alexander McCall Smith. He is the author of ‘No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ series and ‘44 Scotland Street’ series, both of which I have enjoyed. I think the one I’m reading is a stand alone novel (as he has several series). From my local library, I’m continuing to choose books based on their covers. Some have been to my taste, some not but it’s been fun reading books I normally wouldn’t. Where would we be without books ?

    I’m craving a cheese scone now. I’m sure that a gluten-free version would be ghastly, so I’m not missing out on anything (at least that’s what I’ll tell myself 😃).

    Lara.

    • Margaret

      Thank you, Lara, for your kind comments regarding our garden. It was very windy yesterday, and so some of the tulips are looking a little bedraggled today, but there are more just coming out that have missed the strong wind.
      I have tried Alexander McCall Smith – not only his No 1 Ladies Detective Agency but at least two other series and I just haven’t liked them. I don’t know why, he is very popular indeed, but they weren’t to my reading taste. But there are zillions of books out there, so there’s always something for everyone. Where would we be without books indeed!
      Yes, I don’t think a gluten-free cheese scone would work, but there again I’ve not tried one. I know that we picked up some gluten-free sandwiches in Waitrose a while back and they were awful, I couldn’t eat them. I am so sorry you have gluten intolerance.

  10. Your photographs are beautiful, Margaret, and I love your garden! You have exquisite taste.

    • Margaret

      Oh my goodness, thanks Brooke! I’d not have said that in a zillion years as what I have is mainly inherited and I just use what I have. The garden is mainly down to husband who maintains it to the best of his ability. I just buy the plants! But hearing you like the garden and my photographs is always lovely to hear.

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