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Nice things to do: a visit to the dentist

I took the photos in the above collage when we had an appointment in the first week that the new practice opened it’s doors, hence the balloons.

It might seem to most people a contradiction in terms – nice things to do: a visit to the dentist.  But we have a lovely dentist (a young Polish man), one of several dentists and hygienists working in a My Dentist practice in St Marychurch, Torquay.

It was purely happenstance that brought this dentist and ourselves together.  We had been patients of our previous dentist for many years, a pleasant young woman (I say “young” as she is much younger than me – well, most people are now!) but sadly, about four years ago, she developed eye problems and had to retire from dentistry.  All her patients were thus transferred to a different practice and when we paid this practice our first visit, we didn’t like it at all.  It was in an old building in a not-very-nice area and as we waited in the rather dingy waiting room we looked at each other as if to say, “this is a first and last visit here!”

Our minds were reversed right away when, upon climbing the stairs to meet our new dentist, he met us outside his room with a warm and welcoming smile and escorted us in.  He couldn’t have been nicer, so polite and friendly, and obviously experienced in dentistry.  When he had finished his examinations he told us that the surgery was moving to new premises (this was why no refurbishments had been made in the one we were currently in) and when we visited him again it would be in these brand new premises in St Marychurch, and would that be convenient for us?

Convenient? We love St Marychurch, it is where I lived as a child and where we visit regularly for shopping.  And so we decided, then and there, we’d remain with this practice.

I took the above photo in 2013 when the new area where the dental practice now is had just been re-developed.  Sainsbury’s had just opened this Local store, and the dental practice (next door) had not yet opened.

If you walk through the paved area, past Sainsbury’s and past where the dental practice would eventually be, you come to some small new terraced houses – how convenient, I thought, to live in such a place.  Yes, enclosed, perhaps with only a small terrace for a garden (if there is a garden at all at the back of the houses), but so convenient for the shops (and the dentist!) and only about a mile, if that, from Babbacombe Downs and the sea.

This photo (above), again taken in 2013, shows the newly-built houses, just four of them, but since then they have ‘matured’, and there are pots of plants outside some of them, and they have blinds or curtains at the windows.

Between these houses and Sainsbury’s (and the dental practice) there is a walk way …

And here again, the trees have now matured.  You can just see the grey paint on the dental practice exterior on the right, in the middle of the photo.

I now enjoy a visit to the dentist; I’ve never known such a kind and gentle dentist before, or such lovely welcoming staff.  Indeed, when I had a problem last year they did their best to fit me in quickly, and although I had to have root canal work done and a crown fitted, it was all totally painless. And I mean totally.

So yesterday, as I say, visiting our dentist was a nice thing to do.  A check-up and all was pronounced well.

We had parked our car in a small car park which used to be allotments years belonging to some cottages.  The cottages are long gone, but there is access to this car park via a walkway from the Precinct …

This walkway once led to the local dairy, but that has also long gone, and there are now some pretty cottages there instead …

Once back in our car we decided to have lunch out.  It was a dull, rainy day and that meant, in August, that the whole area was in almost grid-lock because the holidaymakers weren’t on the beaches, but driving around in their cars.  We found ourselves in a long tail-back and so took a quick right-hand turn through back streets, eventually emerging in the centre of Torquay to find yet more grid-lock, so another sharp left and we ended up in the car park close to Le Bistrot Pierre.  This hadn’t been our first choice for lunch, although we like the place, but we decided to eat there simply to get out of the traffic.

This is how dull it was yesterday, with just a few hardy souls on the beach, looking (from a distance) rather like L S Lowry’s matchstick men.  The curved wall is the Abbey Sands building in which Le Bistrot Pierre has part of the ground- and first-floor.

We decided to go to the downstairs café/bar area and when we got inside as it was totally empty.  We asked for a table for two and the young female waiter phoned through to the upstairs restaurant and yes, they had a table up there.  When we arrived up the long flight of stairs we found the place packed almost to capacity.  It was heaving, the noise almost unbearable.  We nearly decided not to stay, we felt packed in like sardines.

Downstairs, Le Bistrot Pierre’s, totally empty

I asked why, when downstairs was empty (and I mean totally empty) everyone had been packed in upstairs? She said that they “filled up upstairs first”, but I just think it was for the convenience of the staff:  the kitchen being upstairs, it saved the staff taking food up and down the stairs.    I think they were doing both themselves and their customers a disservice:  it was uncomfortably packed and noisy and if passers-by looked in downstairs (totally empty) the place would’ve appeared to have been closed!

Upstairs, when almost all the customers had eaten and left (it was now close to 3 pm)

And a view (below) of the upstairs restaurant on a previous visit …

Husband paying the bill (this was taken about two years ago)

Our meal was OK, we both chose slow-roast pork (or porc as they call it, being a faux-French restaurant, I do find this just a teensy bit pretentious as it’s translated on the menu anyway, but that’s their house style)  …

Underneath the pork were some slivers of something (we couldn’t remember from the menu what they were as they were totally tasteless) and so I asked the female waiter what they were and she didn’t know either, but she said she’d “find out”. A little while later she returned. They were slivers of leeks.   The brown sauce was, I think, an onion reduction/sauce.  I will look up Pierre’s website and check the menu in due course.  I don’t know why there was a grilled half-lemon, as a lemon is far too acidic to eat and the pork didn’t require lemon juice.  My pudding, however, delicious, a warm honey cake with ginger ice cream …

I thought it might be heavy and too filling after the roast pork, but it was light as a feather, really excellent.

After that we made our way back to the car by which time the traffic had eased and we made our way home and then sat on the sofas (we have one each) and read the paper and dozed.  It was an ideal day for dozing, it was chilly and rainy.  Indeed, a typical August day in England.  But light rain is better than drought and soaring temperatures.  Oh, to be in England, now that August’s here!


About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
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. Sounds like a lovely day, it was dreadful weather here yesterday but today has been completely different, lots of sunshine although a little cool when the sun went behind some clouds. We went to a NT house (Newark Park) and had a good walk and a picnic.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      We haven’t visited Newark Park, but most of the historic houses in the care of the NT are lovely. There’s nothing like visiting a NT property, plus a picnic and a walk. Lovely!

  2. Eloise at thisissixty.blog

    Finding a good dentist with whom you feel comfortable is important and, most definitely, ‘a nice thing to do’. I have been going to the same one for the past twenty five years and I totally trust him.

    I very much like the look of those new white houses. The vogue seems to be for a plainer exterior of late.

    What a disappointment to be pushed to go upstairs when you went for lunch. I know you like the bistro from your previous posts, but I think you are usually seated downstairs. In general I prefer being at ground level in eating places because I like to watch the comings and goings outside whilst waiting for food. Upstairs seating often seems more crowded. The ginger ice cream sounds very good (ginger anything sounds good) but I’m not keen on honey.

    It must be very frustrating for local residents in any seaside resort when the town is full of holidaymakers, even though the tourist trade is important to the local economy. Nevertheless, I’m sure you sometimes wish they’d all go away!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, we like to be a ground floor level unless we are there at the weekend and have breakfast on the balcony, overlooking the sea. But this is only an occasional occurrence and generally we do prefer to be downstairs. We know of somewhere else to try next time, a place recommended by our son whose taste mirrors our own so perhaps we will go there on another occasion. He said the place is a bit more expensive but worth the extra.
      No, I didn’t think I’d be impressed with the honey cake but I was very pleasantly surprised. It was more like a syrup sponge and had I been tasting it blind, so to speak, this is what I’d have said it was. Simply delicious.
      Yes, it can be difficult getting around the Bay in the summer with the insurgence of holidaymakers, but it’s the county’s lifeblood, we need the tourists as there is little industry, indeed, it is the tourist industry that keeps Devon going. And it’s nice to share such a lovely county with its two coastlines and two moors, especially with those who live inland, or in large towns and cities.

  3. Margaret… what is a moor? I have always wondered.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I think not only does your question require an adequate reply regarding what a moor is, but also a post of its own! So I shall post about moors shortly, Ratnamurti, and see if I have some photos to accompany that post. Watch this space, I will try and write this post today.

      • Eloise at thisissixty.blog

        What an interesting question from Ratnamurti.
        Sometimes we forget that those who don’t live in England will not be familiar with some of the terms we use.
        I once worked with a girl who began talking about packing up her her trantlements for her forthcoming house move. I had no idea what she was talking about. It turned out that she was referring to what I call paraphernalia (or bits and pieces) Trantlements, it seems, is a regional Black Country (West Midlands) word.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          Oh, that’s a lovely ‘new’ word to me, Eloise! I’ve not heard of trantlements before, but I love it! I will be posting about the meaning of “moor” or “moorland” shortly, with photos of Dartmoor, too.

  4. I did a double-take when I read the title as a visit to the dentist is not a nice thing for me to do ! My male dentists is lovely, reassuring and has a good understanding of my chronic health condition. A former work colleague recommended the clinic to me and the staff are all friendly and professional. They keep all the window and doors open so the clinic does not smell like a dental clinic at all. Nonetheless it is one of my least favourite places. I suspect that my fear / dislike it due to being subjected to poor / rough dental practices as a child.

    We also live in a coastal area which is inundated with tourists for most of the year. The peak season is November to Easter. During those long, humid months with the crowds and traffic positively overwhelming I often long to move to Antarctica ha ha. Tourisms brings in a lot of money to the local economy but it can be a huge strain on our little town. It is indeed a double-edged sword where the local residents, the businesses, the local council and the visitors aeach have competing and sometimes conflicting needs and it can seem no one is satisfied. That’s human nature for you, I guess.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, the title was a little bit tongue-in-cheek, Lara! I had a dreadful dentist in the early 1950s (when I was a child) – he didn’t give injections for fillings, and that was awful and I was so frightened of going I would pretend to be sick so that my parents had to cancel my appointment on a number of occasions. When I had the root canal work done last year I didn’t think my gum was numb and I told my lovely new dentist. “Oh, I think you’ll find it is!” Now the anaesthetic is now far more localized he said that the whole gum/face isn’t ‘frozen’. He told me of one patient who was very worried, scared in fact, of having root canal work done as she’d heard it was awful. And after she’d had it done she burst into tears. “What’s wrong, did I hurt you?” he asked, and she said No, it hadn’t been painful at all, she was crying because she was so happy! Having had root canal work myself by this dentist and not having felt a thing, I can only sing his praises, and everyone at the surgery is lovely, I just sit back and relax, it’s lovely, it really is a nice thing to do (and we’re looking after our health by visiting the dentist, the mouth is the entrance to the body … well, one of them, so it’s good to keep it healthy.)
      Living as you do in a coastal area that is overrun by tourists, you will know only too well what it is like here in summer, but we need tourists, the area relies heavily on them for income as there is little industry of any other kind.

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