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One of the joys of Autumn is afternoon tea by the fireside and while I don’t always prepare a full traditional afternoon tea, with sandwiches, scones and jam and cream, and then cakes and pastries, even crumpets with either quince jelly or honey, or toast with a savoury spread such as anchovy or Marmite, I do like to prepare a combination of these, choosing the food appropriate for the seasons.  In spring and summer, perhaps cucumber sandwiches and lemon sponge, in winter, toasted tea cakes and a coffee and walnut cake (see below).  And although I love to bake – for no bought cake, no matter how smart it might look, tastes as good as home made –  I’m not a fan of cupcakes.  I like a ‘proper’ cake, one you can slice into portions for your guests.

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After first serving sandwiches, scones are always nice to have,  perhaps with a choice of jams (I like blackcurrant or raspberry), and always with  whipped double cream (never whipping cream.)

For a change you might prefer to serve small savoury cheese scones, especially if you know your guests do not have a particularly sweet tooth.   I split-and-fill them with cream cheese and a few leaves of watercress when it is in season (salad cress isn’t quite as nice as it doesn’t have that lovely peppery taste of watercress).

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I like to finish the meal with a slice of cake.  It is hard to choose a favourite when I love so many but in autumn I like to bake a toffee apple cake in which half the portion of flour is exchanged for ground almonds and, once the cake mixture is in the prepared tin, sliced Braeburn apples (or any other kind of slightly acidic apple) which have been sautéed in butter and Muscovado sugar in a frying pan for a few minutes until they are well-coated with the toffee mixture, are placed on top of the cake mixture before baking.   It’s a nice touch to sift some icing sugar on the top before service with whipped cream.

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Another favourite is a chocolate sponge.  I always used the same proportion of ingredients and it’s so easy to remember.  Just weigh four fresh eggs and  whatever their combined weight is,  weigh out the same amounts of golden caster sugar, butter or margarine (I prefer soft margarine) and self raising flour.  Melted, rich dark chocolate makes a delicious ‘icing’.

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Part of the fun of afternoon tea is using your prettiest china.  And by prettiest I don’t mean expensive.  All my tea services are 2nd hand, some inherited and some bought from charity stalls or antiques centres for very little cost.   In Autumn I like to use this one in shades of brilliant orange, with white and gold.

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My husband complains that you “don’t get much tea in the cups” but I tell him he can always have a refill!  The size of cups has been passed down through the generations from when tea was a very expensive commodity and was often kept by the lady of the house in a special caddy, sometimes under lock and key.  Indeed, afternoon tea isn’t about having a mug with doorstop-size sandwiches; save those for when you are working in the garden.

Afternoon Tea must not be confused with High Tea.  Afternoon Tea (or Low Tea), is served around 4 pm,  and is traditionally eaten seated in comfy chairs with small tables placed conveniently for cup, saucer and plate. It is tradition to serve the tea first, offering two types of tea, perhaps Earl Grey and Indian, but the choice is entirely yours.  High Tea, taken around 6 pm, is eaten seated  at a dining table and is a much more substantial meal – perhaps granary or wholemeal bread, slices of ham, cheese, pickles, and a rich fruit cake.  Even if you are on your own, it’s fun to make afternoon tea a special treat.  And for supper, eaten later, you might find that all you then need is a bowl of soup rather than another main meal.

 

 

 

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For as long as I can remember, I have loved not only looking at books of interiors, but also for their descriptions of interiors.  Three such books which I read in childhood are pictured above.  I loved them not only for their stories but also for their brief descriptions of rooms.

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I read Nancy Breary’s Give a Form a Bad Name when I was about 12 years old.  It is about the Carstair twins who are sent to Grey Ladies boarding school and where, in “The Turret Room, Shirley Lampeter – the Head-girl – arranged her books and pictures about the cosy little room with its three big windows looking out to sea, stopping frequently to examine some holiday sketches lying on the table, which were the most satisfying she had ever made.”

Of course, Ann, one of the twins, didn’t yet know to whom this room belonged when she happened upon it:  “It was a dear little room, very attractively furnished; in fact, just the kind of room with its air of cultured seclusion she would have liked to own herself, and on the table were some rather lovely sketches …”

At twelve, I would also have loved that Turret Room, and pretended my own bedroom was such a room, with painting equipment, three windows with views of the sea, and an air of ‘cultured seclusion’.

 

Fourteen Fourteens by Violet M Methley is similarly set in a girls boarding school, but there was a similarity with myself as it was a school for only 14 girls, all called Margaret, and all aged 14.  I was about 12 when I read it, and imagined what life would be like in such a place – I attended a girls’ grammar school where there were considerably more than 14 pupils!  But all being called Margaret was muddling for them, and so the girls decided that each should have a diminutive of the name, so were called Greta, Rita, Pearl, Marjorie, Meg, Pegeen, and others, as well as Margaret. 

Each girl had her own room and some are described … in one “the walls were plain blue, the paint all creamy-white; the cover over the sofa-bed had a pattern of blue convolvulus and green leaves, with cushions of plain blue. The big soft rug on the floor was blue and green, the furniture white – and altogether is was as delightful a room as the heart of a girl could possibly desire.”

“All the rooms were exactly the same, except for colours … Madge’s room, which was a deep, glowing delphinium blue, quite different from Greta’s turquoise.  Then came deep purple, biscuit colour, cherry red, and a delightful magpie room of black and white … finally, a green and an orange room.  The last – number fourteen – was Margaret’s, the nicest of all … the walls were a lovely glowing orange gold, which made it seem full of sunshine even at night, the curtains and cushions were a deeper orange, the chintz patterned with marigolds – a flower which Margaret had always loved. The rug was all orange and yellow and tawny brown; Margaret sat on the edge of the bed, snuggling et into it, and positively hugging herself.”

 

In Jean Becomes a Nurse by Yvonne Trewin (herself a nurse) and one of several books about Jean Hunter, following through her career (such career books were popular in the 1950s) the story focuses not only on Jean, but also on her friend Hamilton.   Hamilton is impressed with Jean’s lovely home when she stays with her for a weekend break.

“The hall was cool, a lovely old oak chest stood against the wall, draped with a vivid Egyptian shawl.  Richly coloured Persian rugs lay on the parquet floor, and in the corners gleamed lovely copper bowls containing massed flowers most beautifully arranged to harmonise with the surroundings.”

Mrs Hunter, Jean’s mother, leads the way into the drawing room:

“It, too, was a delightful room, with French windows leading out to the garden. Something struck Hamilton as being different to other drawing rooms. Whatever was it?  Of course!  It was a black carpet made to fit the room.  A black carpet – how queer!  It was just right for this room, though. The dove-grey walls glowed softly in the sunlight, the curtains and chair coverings were in cretonne with a pink and wine flowery design. The effect of the black carpet was one of relaxation, and the room offered a feeling of friendliness in which one could indulge in cosy chats by the fireside in winter.  It was a room belonging to someone who obviously loved it, and had taken pains with everything.  Flowers and books were profusely distributed, the flowers in tall cream-coloured vases. Above the mantelpiece were three exquisitely hand-painted Dresden china plates. There were several photographs of young children … “

Other books I read also had lovely descriptions of rooms, but these were three of my favourites.   They also demonstrate how rooms have changed – how now we have en suite bathrooms with bedrooms when in the 1950s it was considered a luxury to have a basin in a bedroom and a fitted carpet.  And the drawing room belonging to Jean’s parents doesn’t exactly sound much like the Retro 1950s look, with all its primary colours,which is now so popular, does it?  A black carpet, too; that would’ve been very avant garde, and perhaps more than a little difficult to keep clean.  But in a well-to-do household, in the middle 1950s, undoubtedly they would’ve employed a cleaner as they might’ve also employed a gardener.

I wonder which of these rooms you would love to inhabit, if any at all?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I thought, after yesterday’s post about our guest bedroom – and in which I’ve spent the occasional night, just to test-drive it for comfort (and it passed the test, I’m happy to report) – I thought I would continue the décor theme for a little while.  And so today’s post is about my love of paintings of interiors, whether they are originals, prints, in books and in magazines.

Above are three prints from a portfolio or 22 such prints which my mother bought in a 2nd hand bookshop about 20 years ago.  It was very reasonably priced because it was incomplete but immediately she was fascinated by these pictures of interiors from the early 1920s.  They are by British architect R Goulburn Lovell who wrote other works such as Courage in Colour – Applied to Personal Attire and Home Surroundings and Historical Notes on Architecture.

I think what these illustrations demonstrate is that not only was this architect (and I don’t suppose for one moment this was unique to him) was a consummate draughtsman with a keen eye for detail, but also if we thought that the only style of the period was Arts & Crafts (carried forward from the previous century) or the new, stylistic Art Deco, we’d be mistaken.   For what these prints show is something akin to a ‘Georgian’ revival and just as today, when styles might take some time to be a adopted by the many rather than the few, this style popular in Edwardian times was still going strong well into the 1920s.

“Two of the earliest practitioners of the Georgian revival were the architect, Richard Norman Shaw, and one of his principal decorators, J Aldam Heaton.  Norman Saw was brought up in the Gothic revivalist tradition of architects, such as Pugin … and he had been influenced by the writings of Ruskin who enthused about pre-classical Venice.  But Shaw questioned these mediaevalilst values and appreciated the practicality and unity of classical architecture … He admired the discipline of the work of Inigo Jones and felt there was everything to be encouraged in copying 18th century styles as long as it was well done.” [Article in House & Garden magazine, May 1986]

While R Goulburn Lovell was clearly influenced by classical Georgian architecture, as was Shaw and Heaton, he was also influenced by the Arts & Crafts Movement as can be seen the country-style furniture in the bedroom above, adapting these styles for 20th century homes.  Another example  would be the Georgian-style tripod table in the top illustration juxtaposed with a 20th century comfy fireside chair, plus a nod to the new styles emerging with the painted piano and piano stool.

Social history aside, I simply  enjoy looking at these lovely interiors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On the header of this blog you might’ve noticed that I’ve said “Décor, Architecture, Social History”, so I thought I’d write a little décor piece.  Now, I’m not an expert,  I’ve had no training, but I have always been interested in arranging rooms, in colour schemes, and so forth, so here is how we have transformed our ‘spare’ room.

We have a dormer house and two bedrooms are in the eaves and serviced by a bathroom between them. They were our sons’ bedrooms until they left home (both now have homes of their own.)  The larger room is a bed sitting room, with sofa bed, but the smaller room has been, for the past dozen or so years, a work room.  My husband fitted the gable end wall with bookshelves and various oddments of furniture found their way there.

In time – while it was still a rather nice room, with a Velux window – it became like a lot of spare rooms become:  something of a dumping ground for items which didn’t really have a proper home. 

And so we decided it was time to have a sort out and turn the room back into a proper bedroom.  It seemed silly having a four-bedroomed house with only one designated bedroom (ours.)  What actually prompted this was the fact we only had one wardrobe, the one in our bedroom.  OK, it is large, a wall-to-wall affair, but we shared this and it had to hold all our clothes for both winter and summer, and even though we don’t hoard clothes, they were still a little squashed.

And so my husband suggested he turn the central section of the gable end bookshelves into a wardrobe, with hanging space at the top and drawers underneath.  “Could you do that?” I asked. Stupid question!  Of course, he could.  Wasn’t he an engineer in his working life?  Had he not built on a bedroom at our previous home? 

He set to work, drawing up the space to scale on his computer, ordering the wood, etc.  Between the two cupboards he made a series of small shelves which are just the right size for books or ornaments.  (On top of the cupboards, out of the range of the photo, I have put some wicker baskets for extra storage, and there are drawers also in the base of the bed.)

And so the spare room was transformed into a guest bedroom.  Fortunately, the pretty Nina Campbell ‘wisteria’ wallpaper was still perfectly OK and I had a spare roll. Therefore, instead of painting the whole of the front of the wardrobe, my husband papered the doors to match the walls.  Such a technique helps a bulky item appear less bulky. 

On a day trip to a town a few miles from home we happened upon the little chest of drawers in an antiques/2nd hand shop.  It was in a right tatty state, but I could see its potential.  And so we bought it, removed the brass handles replacing them with simple knobs and, after preparation, gave the little chest a coat of interior eggshell paint in a pretty shade of lemon yellow.  Similarly, a long low cupboard which my husband had made several years ago from a discarded wardrobe, received a matching coat of paint.

A new bed was ordered, along with new bedding, including pillows, mattress topper and electric mattress cover.   I’m afraid I only like pure white bed linen, it always looks so fresh and inviting, and I just happened to have a pair of cushions with red bobbles which were just the right amount of colour for the room, and a pale green woollen throw.

No sooner had we finished the room (I say “we” but it was husband who executed the work) than I received a phone call from a dear friend in Canada.  She was coming for a holiday to England and could she stay?  Of course, she could, the room was ready and waiting!  All I had to do was buy some things which I think every guest bedroom should have, namely:

a small hairdryer;

fresh towels;

notepad and pencil, and spare toothbrush/toothpaste in the drawer;

a small kettle, jar of coffee, a variety of teas, sachets of hot chocolate, tin of biscuits;

cup and saucer and small plate, fruit knife and tea spoon (I’m not a mug person);

new satin-padded coat hangers for dresses, wooden bar-hangers for trousers and coats;

lavender bags for wardrobe;

lavender pillow mist;

a mirror (on the wall out of range of the photos, one from a charity shop and painted to match the woodwork);

and just before a guest arrives:  new magazines, a bowl of fruit, fresh milk in a flask for tea/coffee in case he/she might wish to have a drink during the night or early morning, plus bottled water, and fresh flowers unless, of course, your guest suffers from hay fever.

This is now one of my favourite rooms in the house. So, from spare room (often a euphemism for dumping ground!) to guest room.  And our friend loved it!

 

 

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One of the joys of retirement is being able to have a proper breakfast.  And by that I don’t necessarily mean a cooked breakfast, simply not having to rush down a piece of toast on the hoof while getting children ready for school or taking husband to work in order to have the use of the family car.  We only ever had one family car that we shared; I’ve never had my own car (this would’ve been considered a luxury in those dim and distant day when our sons were young and husband was at work – it was not the necessity as it is often considered today) but in order for this regime to function, it meant a very tight morning and evening schedule, getting everyone where they must be by certain times. 

And so now I love a leisurely breakfast, whether in bed on a Sunday morning with the papers to read, in the kitchen (even to the accompaniment of the washing machine chugging away as we do not have a utility room or laundry room) or, best of all, in the garden in summer.  

Breakfast will usually start with some kind of fruit.  Strange as it may sound, one combination we enjoy are tinned prunes and tinned lychees, or a ‘black & white’ starter as I refer to it!  The two flavours marry well.  Or it might be melon balls and pineapple pieces, or a  medley of fresh fruits including strawberries, raspberries, slices of nectarine and banana, indeed whatever is to hand.

If it’s breakfast in bed on a Sunday morning, husband will quickly shower and dress before collecting the paper from our local shop (they don’t deliver) while I will warm croissants or brioches to have with apricot or blackcurrant preserve, and make a pot of coffee.  Then we will both have our breakfast, me still in my nightie, on the bed. 

On other days, after fruit, we will sometimes have porridge (oatmeal to those outside the UK), bacon and grilled tomatoes on toast (the sliced tomatoes topped with a sprinkling of dried Basil before grilling) or scrambled eggs and mushrooms topped with some freshly chopped parsley.   If I’ve not done my housekeeping properly and we’re clean out of bacon (we only indulge in processed meat about once or twice a week when we will have just one rasher each of quality bacon)  I might cook sausages, again quality ones.

If by then there is room for a slice of toast (from granary bread), we will have that with marmalade. My mother used to make 100 lbs of marmalade each January (50 jars for herself and for some she would give away to friends and neighbours, and 50 for us, to keep us in marmalade throughout the year!) when the Seville oranges were in the shops.  Her marmalade was second to none; it shone in the jars like brilliant jewels, it wasn’t dull and cloudy.  We now buy marmalade but , thankfully, we do have a favourite which is close to the quality of what my mother used to make.  

To drink we might have coffee but very often it will be tea and here I brew it in a small teapot using 1 tea bag Earl Grey and 1 tea bag Indian; this is a blend we enjoy at breakfast. 

On the photos above you will see various breakfasts – top and bottom breakfast in the kitchen and the central photo breakfast in the garden.  But even if we have breakfast in the garden, the table is laid properly with cloth, silver flatware and cutlery, china cups and saucers, napkins and flowers.  (In the top photo the table is laid for three, when we had a guest staying – only my husband wanted a cooked breakfast that morning, hence the table laid with knives and fork for him, and not for myself and our guest.)

What is your favourite meal of the day?  Do you skip breakfast in order to get children to school and yourself to work?  Or, like me, do you think it’s the best meal of the day? If so, what is your favourite breakfast?

 

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There are times when budgets are being squeezed until the pips squeak when we can’t have flowers in our homes.

But we can have them!

I was fortunate enough to inherit some pretty ceramics.  Above is one of them.  They are currently deeply unfashionable because they are neither ‘vintage’, which is currently a la mode, nor are they ‘museum quality’ (i.e. priceless!)  They are what my mother (and her parents before her) collected and in the early years of the 21st century, when the style gurus had a fleeting love affair with everything minimalist, I could so easily have disposed of them.  But I didn’t. I thought they were beautiful and I still think they are beautiful, fine examples of the potters art.  The basket above is what would’ve been referred to as Dresden china, because there were so many porcelain factories producing fine wares in this region of south-eastern Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries.  This basket is perfect, there are no chips to those flowers, the handle is still intact (here I would add that you should never hold a piece of old ceramics, even if it’s a jug, by the handle as that is the weakest part of the piece and could so easily snap).  So when there are no real flowers in the house, there are these which, while they have no scent,  are still decorative.

Below is a piece which is known as Schneeballen (snowball) ceramic.

 

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If we do not have, nor care for, ceramics with ‘twiddly bits’, perhaps instead we might have floral art?  I am fond of botanical paintings, in particular roses, and in our bedroom I have framed prints by Pierre-Joseph Redoute.

Of all the great botanical artists, the name of Pierre-Joseph Redoute is perhaps the most widely known.  Born in 1759 (died 1849) he was to see the collapse of the House of Bourbon, the French Revolution and the rise (and fall) of Napoleon Bonaparte and was known as the man who painted roses.   Again, we do not need to be without flowers, only this time they can be hung on the wall.

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And so, even on a dull autumn day, and with only one bowl of flowers in the sitting room, I still have flowers in the rest of the house!  we mightn’t be able to buy exquisite ceramics, but we can search the charity shops, the boot sales, the brocantes. All I would say is always buy the very best examples you can afford.  However, we don’t need to spend a fortune and, unlike real flowers – which admittedly I love best of all – ceramics and pictures will last longer than a week!  I wonder if you bring Nature into your home in ways other than in flowers and house plants?

 

 

 

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greys-totnes-22nd-november-2014 Lara asked me what toasted tea cakes are, and if they are like scones? No, they’re not like scones and I have looked up a recipe in one of my many cookery books this one is called Afternoon Tea Parties by Susannah Blake. Susannah says: “There’s something particularly comforting and homely about a plateful of freshly toasted teacakes drippint with butter, and the wonderful smell of spices that they always emit. If you’ve got an old fashioned toasting fork with a long handle, why not toast them the teacakes the traditional way over the open fire.” I confess to never having made them myself, I always buy them, but the recipe I have is as follows: 225g strong white bread flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon easy-blend dried yeast 15g soft brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 60f mixed dried vine fruits 40g butter, melted 120ml full-fat milk, plus extra for brushing butter, to serve. Sift the flour, salt, yeast, sugar and nutmeg  in  to a large bowl. Stir in the dried fruits and make a well in the centre. Put the milk and butter into a small saucepan and heat together until just warm.  Pour into the four mixture and gradually work together to make a soft dough. Turn out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  Place in a bowl, slip the bowl into a large plastic bag, seal with a rubber band and leave to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size. When risen, tip the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface, punch down, and divide into eight pieces of equal size.  Shape each one into a ball, flatten slightly and arrange on a greased baking tray, spacing slightly apart.  Slip the tray into a large plastic bag and leave the dough to rise again for 45 minutes, until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Gas 6.  Brush the top of each teacake with milk, then bake for about 15 minutes, until risen and golden and sounds hollow when the base is gently tapped.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool.  When ready to serve, split, toast on the cut sides and spread generously with butter. I like them with just butter or with quince jelly or blackcurrant jam. (I took the photos above in a lovely tea shop where they serve delicious toasted teacakes.)    

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As I said in some responses to my post on autumn, I intend to bring out some of my copper lustre jugs for this season.   I wasn’t particularly fond of copper lusterware until I inherited these pieces (just three of them above)  from my late mother and then I couldn’t bring myself to part with them because she loved them so much.  But what is lusterware?  You might already know, but I decided to find out and subsequently wrote about it for a magazine and in part of that article I said …

“The chemistry of reproducing a lustrous decorative effect – the word ‘lustre’ implying brightness or splendour – on pottery or porcelain dates back to around 1300 when Iranians, fleeing a Mongol invasion of their homeland, settled in Spain where they developed the pottery industry. These Iranians produced lustrous pottery of great delicacy, some of which was eventually brought to England and by the late 18th century English potters, who had been experimenting for some considerable time in finding ways of producing wares which had the desirable sheen, were having varying degrees of success.

“The desired iridescent effect was achieved when metal was dissolved in acid and applied as a film on top of the glaze, either with a brush or by dipping. To create more complicated decorations the ‘resist’ method of application was introduced whereby intricate designs were painted (or printed) on ware with a ‘resist’ material, such as china clay mixed with honey or syrup. The lustre was then applied over the entire piece or fired or fused to the ware. The lustre would not adhere to the areas protected by the ‘resist’ which retained the colour of the body. Clever, eh?

“It must be borne in mind that lustreware is not a type of pottery or porcelain but a decorative treatment. Spode and Wedgwood were among the early experimenters in this type of decoration, working first with silver oxide. However, silver quickly tarnishes (tarnish being a thin layer of corrosion when the outermost layer of some metals, such as silver and copper, undergoes a chemical reaction) and it was platinum – which does not tarnish – that eventually made what came to be known as silver lustre possible.

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“The shade of the final glaze was influenced by the colour of the clay being used for the wares and by the ingredients forming the metallic solution, therefore the solution required to achieve pink lustre is the same as for copper lustre, the final colour dependent upon whether the solution has been applied to a brown or white pot. To achieve the lustrous effect, minute quantities of gold resulted in pink and copper colours, and platinum resulted in silver. ”

There was more, but I think that’s enough of a science lesson for today.

When I’ve had my autumn clean, I will collect leaves from the garden, perhaps buy some golden and russet chrysanthemums, and create a display in my various lusterware jugs on the mantelpiece in the sitting room. With two spelter ornaments, they will certainly bring a touch of autumn to our home.

What are your favourite autumn touches in your home? Warm rugs, changing the pictures on the walls, differently coloured towels in the bathroom, differently scented candles, even a bowl of  Kentish cob nuts which are now available in the supermarkets?

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It’s been a typical autumn day here in South Devon, blustery winds, intermittent sunshine, but the weather while mild is letting us know that summer is past.  Once I get used to the idea I won’t mind quite as much, it’s like a lot of things, the anticipation of something one dreads is often worse than the actuality.  And I dread the long, dark nights. Strangely enough, for the past few years, once spring is here, husband will say (with consummate regularity, as we put the clocks forward again) “Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it?  Winter didn’t seem all that long, did it?”

But winter is still a little way off, and I intend to embrace autumn this year.  Tomorrow is my birthday and to mark the occasion we are having a family lunch and after that I have made it my plan to start on an autumn ‘spring clean’ if that makes sense?  Preparing the house for the dark days to come.  I will dust and polish, vacuum and prepare the guest room and bed sitting room for two guests who are coming next month (although dates haven’t yet been fixed).

Once the cleaning is complete – if I feel up to it, I will even make a start on the bookshelves, but this isn’t a job to be entered into lightly (a bit like marriage!) as there are many hundreds of books to be taken down from the shelves, dusted, and returned to their places.  For this I use a man’s shaving brush – this is the correct way to dust books – brushing the top of each book outwards from the spine.  I will also ‘weed’ the books, and hopefully leave some spaces for the piles of books that are congregating around the edges of the room, as patrons used to do in the heyday of the cinema, queuing up for seats. 

Once our home  is again clean, tidy, and polished I will sit down with a cup of Earl Grey, perhaps a crumpet and some quince jelly – no, I don’t make my own quince jelly but the one I buy is delicious – and embrace the new autumn season. 

 

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To put you into autumn-mood, I’ve attached a collage  above which I hope you will enjoy seeing.   The sunrise photo was taken from our sitting room window one morning in autumn a year or two ago, just as the sun was peeping up behind the houses in the distance.  The bowl (an 18th century one, not perfect, but then would you be if you’d been around since the 1750s?) contains walnuts from our own walnut tree, and some of them were used for the coffee & walnut sponge cake. 

 

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To close this post, I thought I’d include a photo of Dartmoor in autumn.  We are fortunate in Devon to have two moors (Exmoor and Dartmoor) and two coastlines, the North Devon and the South Devon coasts.  This is Dartmoor in mid-September when the gorse is in bloom.  England truly is a garden.

Have a lovely weekend, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

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Books - Maugham, Fowler, etc2

Fired with enthusiasm, having managed to publish two photos of the summerhouse, I thought I’d try something different:  a collage and this particular collage demonstrates one of my little quirks:  I love choosing what I consider a ‘suitable’ bookmark for a book, i.e. something which matches it in colour or style.  Furthermore, I love books on interior decoration and here are some I have chosen at random, with their appropriate bookmark postcards.

Edith Wharton’s book, The Decoration of Houses, is one of the first, if not the first, books on decoration.  Yes, she was more famous for her novels, but this book is certainly worth reading.  It was written in collaboration with a chap whose name, to me anyway, might’ve been conjured up by Charles Dickens:  Ogden Codman Junior, an American architect who promoted the colonial revival style.  A lovely book and full of information much of which is as fresh today as it was when the book was published in  1897.   For this book, a postcard of an interior which mirrors the colours of the dust jacket of the book.

John Fowler was perhaps the most influential interior decorator of his generation and with Sybil Colefax and Nancy Lancaster founded the company of Colefax & Fowler.  Together they were responsible for the ‘English country house style’, a look which is still popular today.  Again, a postcard which mirrors the colours of the dust jacket of this book.

I wonder … do you choose bookmarks with care or do you slip into your books anything that comes to hand?  A receipt, a torn of strip of newspaper, a post-it note?  Or do you simply turn down the page, so that it becomes ‘dog-eared’!

 

 

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