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Into November

Who would not wish to live in South Devon on a day like today and with a view like this, looking out from Babbacombe Downs across Lyme Bay.  This, for those unfamiliar with the South Devon coastline, is only a fraction of the Bay which stretches around to Portland Bill in the next county of Dorset.

But my week didn’t start as sunny and bright as this, metaphorically speaking. I have been laid low with a bug which our elder son, wife and little grandson had last week (and while they were away for what was meant to be a half term break, too.)  But I’m on the mend, but for a time I had only boiled water to drink …

with the occasional Rich Tea biscuit

Today we went out into the sunshine on some necessary errands, and I now feel very much better although rather tired.  While I was having this enforced rest, though, my favourite monthly magazine arrived, along with a new book …

and so I was able to look at this magazine, which wasn’t too demanding.  The book is lovely, it’s another memoir-through-books as was Susan Hill’s previous memoir, Howards End is in the Landing.  I am actually preferring this book to the earlier one and have found myself almost punching the air and saying a resounding “Yes!” at some of her remarks.  I’m not one for saying “You must read this,” but if you want something intelligent and entertaining to read and which is also a very good reading list (for there are some authors I’ve not heard of, but that’s nor surprising – we can’t have heard of them all, no matter how much we love books), this might be for you.  I will say no more, as I don’t actually review books, I merely show what I’ve bought or been given, and say whether or not I have enjoyed it.

And so to today. First, a visit to the DIY store, B&Q for some timber for husband, no idea what he’s using it for but there again he doesn’t know what I use all my food supplies for.

Here’s an old joke:

First person:  Is there a B&Q in Torquay?

Second Person:  There’s not a B but there’s a Q!

After that, to Waitrose for the food shopping.  We had limited time, but I had my shopping list – stores hate shoppers like us with A List! They know we keep our eyes down and search only for What Is On The List! We don’t gaze about in wonder at the lovely displays and this week’s special offers, we just Buy What Is On The List.  However … there are exceptions, and that is when a Bargain Is Too Good To Miss.  We couldn’t find any braising steak in the chilled meat section so asked at the butchery counter. No, they’d not had any in, but gradually their summer meats, the lighter cuts that didn’t need much cooking are gradually giving way to winter cuts, the braising steaks and the lamb shanks, and by next week there should be plenty. Anyway, I was by now engaged in conversation by the very personable woman on the butchery counter and I spied lamb’s liver.  Husband loves liver and bacon, either fried or as a casserole, and so I bought sufficient for a meal … and for the bargain basement price of 97p.  With a rasher of bacon and lovely thick onion gravy and mashed potatoes that will be a serious treat for him this weekend.

From Waitrose we drove the short distance to where we parked our car, and the trees looked so autumnal …


From here we walked the short distance to ‘my’ podiatrist and now my feet are beautifully smooth once more. After sitting, chatting to her while she ministered to my tootsies – husband sat and read the paper in the waiting room – husband and I walked a further short distance to Babbacombe Downs for tea and toasted tea cake (we shared one as I still didn’t feel like eating very much) at the Babbacombe Bay Café.

My only complaint about this establishment is that, like so many, all the hard surfaces (for there isn’t an upholstered item in the place) make the sounds echo and when there’s a party of women (sorry girls!) in there, as there was today, the racket was excruciating.  Husband said that women “do make a noise”, but the reason, I told him, is that we actually talk to one another, we chat about all kinds of things, we exchange views and jokes and we enjoy jumping from one theme to another in a nanosecond.  Yes, we do appear excitable to men, thus our voices – already pitched  higher than men’s – rise, but this is because our brains function more quickly, I think; we can assimilate what is being said more quickly.  I could be wrong, of course, and there’s possibly no logic to my argument, but men seem to take longer to ‘catch on’, simple as that.  They simply can’t keep up.  Bless them, as much as I love ’em, they really seem to be a sub-specie for they do take a lot longer to cotton on to our very rapid trains of thought.  Only joking, chaps!

I say my only complaint is the loud noise – another couple of women at the table next to us were really SHOUTING their conversation so as to be heard over the hullabaloo of the aforementioned women having something of an afternoon tea party at around lunch time.  Afternoon tea is so popular now it’s served at any time of day in a lot of establishments, just as Breakfast is served in this place from early morning to 5pm.  Perhaps for those who get up late? – but I have another complaint, and it is this:  slates instead of plates.

I’ve banged on about slates before. Ideal for a roof, no good at all as something to eat off.

The slate above just isn’t large enough for the job it is supposed to do, i.e. hold the toasted teacake (split) with sufficient room to add butter and jam without getting crumbs all over the able (I wiped them up before I took the photo, incidentally) and there is nowhere for the knife to rest without falling off the slate.  This is style over substance, and quite frankly I’M SICK OF IT.  To all restaurateurs:  BRING BACK PLATES, PREFERABLY ROUND, PREFERABLY WHITE.  NOW.

OK, rant over. You can look again.

Once outside, I simply had to take pix – although I’ve taken many of this café – of the lovely violas they had planted …

These deep blue violas are actually purple but for some reason my camera sees purple as deep blue. I’ve had this problem with all my cameras, whether expensive Nikon or my little cheap compact Sony (which I use all the time for my photos now).

And the view from this café across the sea, which was so pale, it blended with the sky …

It was a bit too chilly to sit outside, even though it was warm in the sunshine, but even so we’d not have sat outside as there were people out there SMOKING.  Now that all establishments ban smoking (and rightly so) many allow smoking outside, which means that if we wish to sit in the fresh air it’s anything but fresh. I’d better stop there now as I feel another rant coming on.

From here we drove to our own town as we needed to collect our new glasses.  While there we have both ordered a pair of varifocal lens glasses. Neither of us has used varifocals before but if we don’t ‘get on with them’ as the assistant put it, we can return them within 30 days, and have a full refund.

We parked where we had parked last week, and it was lovely to see the trees changing colour and with fewer leaves than last week …

And finally, the apricot roses that were in bud last week are now fully open and look lovely.

Until next time …

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. Glad you’re feeling better Margaret. Co-incidentally, I picked up ‘Jacob’s Room ….’ from the library this evening so it was nice to hear that you found it even better than ‘Howard’s End is on the Landing’.

    The restaurant in a hotel near me is still persisting with slates too. When I was last in there even the sticky toffee pudding was served on slates! The young waiter had smears all up his sleeves from having to collect up the ‘dessert’ slates and he told us, “You should be in on a night when we’re serving raspberry coulis – I look like I’ve self-harmed!”

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Kate, and I hope you will enjoy Jacob’s Room as I am doing. I certainly agree about getting rid of whole shelves of books that were once a passion that has now subsided, if that is the word: say, collecting books on the Bloomsbury Group or, as I once did, cats. And how some books simply hadn’t stood the test of time while others have. I am really enjoying it.

      Oh, those slates! I would love to pick them up and smash the lot, or find a deserving roof in need of instant repair! Oh, that’s so funny in a very macabre way, what the young waiter said to you about the raspberry coulis evening! It’s the same with sharing platters. These platters are almost always wood, great hunks of them which are very difficult for the waiting staff to pick up. I reckon a lot of them will have repetitive strain injuries from them. Perhaps only when loads of personal injury claims are made will resturants resort to using plates again! By then they will be the next big thing!

  2. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Haha, I have ranted about the fact that since the smoking ban in pubs it is almost impossible to enjoy a drink in pub gardens. At least allow smoking only in one far corner of the garden.
    I wonder where this trend for serving food on slate came from, and MUCH worse, the habit of placing it on wooden boards!
    And whilst we are ranting, I detest venues which have metal legged chairs on tiled floors with their scrape, scrape, scraping!
    On a happier note, I love your explanation for noisy women’s groups and shall use it next time My husband starts to complain!
    Sorry to hear that you have been poorly but glad to hear that you felt well enough to enjoy a day out.

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, isn’t that funny, Eloise, ranting about the same thing – those annoying smokers polluting the very air we breathe. The chairs where we have been today are SO HEAVY I find them difficult to move and yes, those awful tinny metal chairs on a tiled or wooden floor are truly GHASTLY (as said by C Revel-Horwood, dahling!)
      Yes, noisy women’s groups are something that I really detest. Indeed, when I belonged to a writers’ group they used to have a lunch in a lovely golf club’s dining room (open to members of the public) twice a year, but it had a wooden floor and a vaulted ceiling and I found that I couldn’t hear myself speak let along the person next to me or opposite me, and I’m not even hard of hearing. In the end I just stopped going, and now we try and seek out places that aren’t all bare and noisy. Indeed, we wished we’d gone to the Palace Hotel again, where at least in the lounge, where we could’ve had tea and tea cake just the same, there is carpet and easy chairs! Plus the luxury of this, plus the papers to read, and nice ‘facilities’!
      Yes, feeling slightly better now, thank you. Still off food a bit, but that won’t do me any harm.

  3. I love ranting!! Is that an age thing? No… I’ve always done it. My rants when one eats out are the oversized plates , cups, and food. A scone the size of a small loaf? A muffin that has to be one’s whole lunch? A panini when all I want is a dainty sandwich? And so on……

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, oversized plates are truly awful, one feels almost obliged to put more food onto them than is necessary. I agree also about the cup sizes, and the large scones and muffins. This is why husband and I often (well, generally now) share one between us.

  4. I’m glad you’re feeling better and are up and about.

    I had been getting quite frantic these past several days with not being able to access your blog and, not knowing your email address and google not helping, I was wondering if I was going to have to fly the 12,000-odd kilometres from Australia to knock and the door and make sure you were alright 😉 Life just isn’t the same without reading your blog (and all of the comments) every couple of days :)))

    Your tea break at the cafe looks lovely and, yes, I agree that the trend to use anything-other-than-a-plate must have surely run its course by now. About four years ago (whilst still working full time in a large office) we would often go for lunch as a group on fridays to the local pub for a burger, steak, pasta, etc. The kitchen had recently been taken over by new staff and they saw fit to present most of the steak and burger meals on wooden chopping boards, rather than plates. With several of us having public health / microbiological working backgrounds we were horrified as we had no doubt that this busy establishment would be unlikely to be able to effectively sterilise each board between each user/diner. Apparently using chopping boards in lieu of plates was a trend at the time which had been sweeping thru the trendier eating places in the big cities and was now catching on in our little town. Call me conservative but I much prefer a ceramic plate – one that has been washed in hot hot water and dried since the previous user, thank you. Not too much to ask, you’d think.

    Your photos are beautiful, as always.

    I hope you are fully recovered by now.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lara, and thank you for keeping looking to see if my blog is back, ‘working’ again. It has only been a week since I posted but it seems an absolute age! I’m so glad I saved you the journey, too – that would’ve been rather expensive.
      I totally agree about the chopping boards for food – oh, bring back the plate, I say. I’ve even put this on Trip Advisor for some places we have visited and for which I have posted a review. Not nastily, but just in the hopes that this rather silly fashion fad can be brought to an end and we can return, as you say, to ceramic plates that have been washed in hot water and dried (for a warm, damp surface is ideal breeding-ground for the bugs which give us some truly awful illnesses.)
      Glad you like my photos, and yes, I am feeling much better now, thank you.

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