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Stocking Up


Yesterday, Monday, we spent much of the day visiting five different stores for various things.  The first stop was the DIY giant, B&Q (photo above, and this is just part of the ground floor) as husband required some timber for a project he is working on.  That didn’t take long as I managed to divert him from gawping at the power tools, all of which looked ferocious and none of which he would ever need, a bit like distracting small children from a toys’ section or the sweets’ aisle in the supermarket.  (Outside B&Q there were racks of plants, and they were offering four lupins for £10, so I couldn’t resist those. )

Next stop was ScrewFix.  Now, I don’t know whether you are familiar with this tools chain in the UK, but you buy from a catalogue, either online or in one of their stores, and at a service desk just tell the assistant what it is you require.  Usually it’s in stock and is produced in almost a nanosecond and if they don’t have it in stock, they order it and it is invariably ready for collection the next day.  The day a new ScrewFix catalogue arrives is like a day when a new book arrives for me, need I say more?

From ScrewFix it wasn’t far to Dunelm.  This isn’t a favourite store …

Again, warehouse-style with a coffee shop tucked away upstairs with the only outlook being customers on the floor below. The coffee shop is called Pausa (but when I saw the writing I thought it read Paula, and I thought, who’s Paula?)

It isn’t an attractive store but, similarly to The Range, among the tut there are some half-decent items.  But it’s not my natural habitat.  I was there to look at curtain material because, as I recently mentioned, I’m considering having summer-weight curtains made for our hall window.  Surprisingly, I actually saw some material I liked but I wasn’t permitted to bring home the display sample (as I have been permitted to do in a more up-market store) but the young woman who attended to us has ordered a sample for me which should arrive within a couple of days.

The material I liked is plain cream cotton and, actually, it looked like curtain lining material to me, and at much the same price.  I’m now in two minds about this. Not in two minds about the curtains themselves, but the material.  Will such thin material hang nicely?  It would be strange to have such fine material weighted in the hem.  Would it be sensible to have thin material lined?  Anyway, we shall see once the sample arrives … for all I know it mightn’t look good with the wallpaper.

From Dunelm we went to Lidl and outside there were racks and racks of pretty plants …

But I wasn’t there for plants, I was there to stock up on what I call household items:  foil, waste bags, dishwasher tabs, washing machine liquid detergent, and so forth.  And I saw the toothpaste we use at a reduced price so bought two tubes, plus some of their excellent toothbrushes.  At 79p for two, what’s not to like?  This means I can change our brushes every two or three weeks (sorry, more plastic waste, but hygienic not to have the same toothbrush for months on end.)   I asked our dentist whether an electric brush would give better results, and he said No, we were cleaning our teeth well – it’s how you clean them, he said, not what you use.

The household items from Lidl

We also bought three packs of coffee – this should last a good few weeks.  We like Lidl’s Bellarom Gold Blend ground coffee, it suits our taste.

From Lidl we drove to Babbacombe and managed to park the car in a side road, close to Babbacombe Downs.

This photo is from 2012 (view from Babbacombe Downs).  I didn’t take any photos of the view yesterday but it was a day much like this.  The coastline stretches all the way around to Portland Bill (a headland) in Dorset, but you can only see that far on an exceptionally clear day.

Having parked the car we made our way to the Babbacombe Bay Hotel’s café …

We’d not been there for some time and it’s always busy, even on a Monday.  I think a lot of people use Groupon vouchers for this café, I saw at least one couple handing over what looked like a Groupon printout for afternoon tea.  We’ve had afternoon tea there and it’s delicious, but this is something for which you have to book, either 12 noon, 2 pm or 4 pm.  Yesterday we decided to have American pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup, and coffee.

I find the use of slates for food not just quirky but faintly ridiculous, especially when you have a sauce or syrup to pour. I had to take great care not to allow the syrup to run off the slate, across the table and onto my clothes.  Slates are ideal roofing material but they do not make a satisfactory plate.  Oh, please someone, tell these cafes and restaurants to quit-the-quirk and bring back the humble plate!

These pancakes with very crispy bacon aren’t in the least photogenic but they were very good indeed.  They were actually quite large and I had to leave one whole pancake because I was full.  If we order these again I shall make a point of asking just for two, not three.  But, as I say, very good indeed.

We then made our way back to the car and drove to The Range which wasn’t far away …

Just a quick, not-very-good photo of the building, one what was built as a DIY store in the 1980s and has had many changes of ownership in the intervening years, the latest being as The Range.  We went there and bought a new much-needed frying pan and some dishwasher tabs as Lidl were out-of-stock of dishwasher tabs.

By now we were both rather tired and once home, had a cup of tea and then we both fell asleep on the sofas.  But we had managed to get all the items on our lists – husband all his bits and pieces of wood and so forth, and me all the household items.

PS  The only exception being Lidl (thank you, Lidl), every place we visited yesterday was NOISY.  Not just because of checkout tills beeping, people chattering, and the general ambient noise of stores, but the blare of pop music, the only difference being the degree of loudness in each of the stores, the Range having the loudest by far.  And in the café we were seated at a corner table directly beneath a loudspeaker and the noise was so loud I had to ask for it to be turned down as we couldn’t hear what we were saying to one another.  One of the reasons we shop in Waitrose is the lack of so-called music (well, let’s not mince words:  it is not music as I would define music.  It’s simply NOISE!  I can’t speak for everyone, but I most certainly neither need nor want this cacophony as I shop.

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. I’m glad it’s not just me that cannot stand the use of slates and wooden boards for the serving of food. It seems to be the trend these days.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, Jules, these things have annoyed me for many a year now. It started, I think, with oblong plates, then we had glass plates for desserts, and then those dished-plates with a tiny area of dish in the centre and a huge wide rim – this enabled a tiny meal to be served within the dished area – and then came the wooden boards and the slates, not to mention the variety of objects used for chips, including miniature chip baskets similar to what our parents used in a chip pan. It has been a trend for far too long and is now something of a cliché. One of these days, as I say, someone will discover the plain, white, circular plate!

  2. Another one here who can’t abide my food being served on anything but a plate, especially the trend for wooden boards which can’t be hygienic especially with meat juices soaking in etc. The latest trend would appear to be enamel cups or plates, similar to the kind we used as a child when we went camping, I mean really!
    You certainly had a very productive day Margaret, sometimes it’s all about ticking items off the list isn’t it.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, Elaine, I’ve seen photos of enamel being used, the kind used for picnics and camping when we were children. It’s as if these places are concentrating too much on presentation and insufficient on the food itself.
      Another thing I don’t like are salad leaves, the kind that come in bags in the supermarket and which make life easy for cafes – they can just fling on a pile of them onto a plate, and yet most of these leaves have tough stalks which, on one occasion in particular, I almost choked on. I would love to see a return to the humble round lettuce or even the much-maligned Iceberg. At least it’s crunchy and it doesn’t have stalks!
      Although we were tired after visiting five stores, we returned having ticked everything off our lists; as you say, a productive day.

  3. Pancake breakfasts tend to make most people drowsy! it’s the carbs. What was the drizzled line on the serving slate?

    Over here it’s pretty normal to request how many pancakes you want in the stack. I tend to go for the smaller portions which appear in “the over 55 or smaller appetite” section of the menu. It’s also a couple of dollars cheaper.

    It’s still snowing here and it’s forecast to be -18 overnight in the next day or so. I think that treat is for the early hours of Good Friday.

    Potting out flowers is still a dream for me. Most people in my area wait until after the Victoria Day long weekend to plant their bedding plants. And yes, Victoria Day is in celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      The drizzle on the slate was a sort of raspberry sauce/coulis, WonderCollie, with a few blueberries, but they didn’t show up against the black of the slate, unfortunately. This was lunch, rather than breakfast. I don’t really like the idea of pancakes for breakfast, and it’s not something we generally eat in the UK for breakfast.
      Oh, my goodness -18C is an awfully cold temperature! We shivered when we had snow for a weekend! We won’t be potting out anything yet a while, but the temperature various currently between 7C and 12C. Not particularly cold but not warm, either. But warm compared with -18C!
      Enjoy your Victoria Day which I presume is a public holiday.

  4. I also dislike food served on wooden platters, styrofoam, etc and once asked for my meal to be put onto a ‘proper’ plate when out for lunch at a pub with friends. I haven’t seen food served on a piece of slate but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen here in Australia. I also dislike plastic cutlery but that’s for another day 🙂

    You both did very well to get around all of those shops. I enjoy hardware stores but certainly couldn’t visit several of any type of store in a row. I would have been weeping for a paracetamol and a darkened room after all of that awful music and fluorescent lighting. I’ve heard that several aldi supermarkets in Australia (similar to your Lidl) have set days and hours when there is no music and less bright lights used. It was intended for those who are noise and light sensitive, such as children on the autism spectrum. Unfortunately none of these shops are near me as I would certainly frequent them. I often wonder if the staff end up with hearing damage.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      How wounderful, Lara, to visit a supermarket with no music blaring out and less-bright lights, I’d shop there! I read recently, if I remember rightly, that Waitrose are going to have a morning (I think Tuedays, but I’m not sure) in some stores when older people can get assistance in shopping, those suffering from memory problems, or just because they’re less agile. But the noise in the Range yesterday was truly awful.
      How wonderful that you made a stand re the meal in the pub and requested your food on a proper plate! I think I shall do this next time my food is served on a board or a slate! If we don’t start asking we won’t get, will we?

  5. Mary-Louise Mielcarz

    Hello Margaret,

    What a busy day you both had, I would have taken a nap as well.

    After having a lovely roast chicken dinner on Sunday, I ventured to try your curry recipe on Tuesday, I followed your instructions and I can say the curry dish turned out to be absolutely delicious. The recipe is now known in the Mielcarz household as “Margaret’s Chicken Curry.” I look forward to trying any recipe you post.

    Thank you,


    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Ooh, I am honoured, Mary-Louise, to have the curry named after me! It is really easy, isn’t it? And you can vary it once you have the hang of the simple recipe. I also like it with desiccated coconut on top, but husband doesn’t care for that.
      I am making cauliflower cheese for supper this evening, but I expect that’s something you already make, i.e. cauliflower in a cheese sauce which is grilled to ‘brown’ the top and served with crusty bread. To make the cheese sauce really tasty, I try and use three difference cheeses, the bulk of which is a mature Cheddar but I also add some Gruyere and some Parmesan. I also make leek & macaroni cheese in much the same way, steaming the leek (I steam the cauliflower florets) and cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce before grilling in a gratin dish.

  6. Luckily here in The Netherlands we don’t have a trend to serve food on a piece of slate (yet). But we do have the music, everywhere. I think it’s literally very tiring. My neighbor and I are always looking for places to have coffee or lunch where there is no music or just some soft background music and good acoustics. If you do your best you can find some nice places where they know what hospitality really means.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Mirjam, and it would appear that this noise pollution is world-wide. I am sure that the music in cafes and so forth is for the benefit of the staff and not the customers, but you are right, we must simply look further afield to find places where we don’t near ear plugs! Thank you for leaving a comment.

  7. Whilst ai don’t mind music i. Shops per se, I don’t like noisy shops either and I detest sitting under the speaker in a pub or restaurant. But more than this, much, much more than this, I really hate the way that metal legged chairs scrape on the tiled floors in some coffee shops etc. If I find myself in my be, I never re-visit.
    Agreed on slate as a base for food. Again, it is the noise as cutlery scrape a across the slate. It really assaults my ears! Like aLara, I am not keen on food placed on wooden platters either.
    Mary-Louise has Margaret’s chicken curry, I have Margaret’s pea soup! You’ll have to produce a recipe book.
    I avoid B&Q whenever possible, and have never been into Screwfix even though it seems to be a favourite of my husband.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, yes, Eloise, the awful scraping of metal chair legs against the tiled floor! Truly awful. And some wicker-style chairs and wooden chairs are really heavy too, I struggle to drag them away from a table to sit down and then I can’t pull the chair in again!
      Similarly, I dislike wooden platters even though the café/restaurant in Topsham serves the cheese sharing platter on a wooden board, but I would much prefer food on a plate.
      I actually prefer ScrewFix (not that I actually like either!) to B&Q simply because husband checks what he wants from a catalogue and then goes to a desk and places an order, it’s not a place where you search along miles of shelving.
      I’m just delighted that some readers have tried my recipes and found them tasty!

  8. You can speak for my anytime, Margaret, on the “noise” in stores and restaurants. And, I’d like to see the TVs gone as well. If “noise” is necessary, then make it instrumental, calm type of music – and not too loud. Otherwise, nothing. Another beautiful landscape picture – that coast! Wow!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      We live these days, unfortunately, against a background of perpetual noise, and there seems no escaping it. I’m convinced that not before long there will be movement away from unacceptable noise, just as there currently is against plastics which are polluting the oceans. For example, do we need background music in the dentist’s reception area? No we do not. Do we need it in the supermarket? No we do not. And as for TV programmes, they are dreadfully ‘polluted’ with noise. It seems that no matter how often viewers complain about this, nothing is done and programme makers think that we have to have a full orchestral score regardless of the subject matter.
      So glad you liked the coastal photograph. The view from Babbacombe Downs is of Lyme Bay, this is just around the coast from the smaller Torbay, for Torbay is actually a little ‘bite’ out of the larger Lyme Bay.

      • Ooh I’ll join the movement for less noise, more quiet in venues.

        We can organise a March with placards, rather than a chant calling ‘what do we want ? Less Noise. When do we want it ? Now !’ given that us creating noise would be against the grain of what we all seek 🙂 😉 🙂

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          Oh, I love the idea of the March with placards but I would like to chant, “What do we want? Less Noise!” at the tops of our voices, of course! At least it would draw attention to noise, would it not? But I do believe there is time for such a movement against noise pollution, apart from it being a nuisance I do believe it is detrimental to our health.

          I would like to add that there is an organization called PIPEDOWN (www.pipedown.org.uk) which is against piped music in places where we feel is isn’t necessary. Members include Stephen Fry and Joanna Lumley. People can join this to campaign against the use of unnecessary piped music pollution.

  9. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    I am intrigued as to why I have been re-named on my earlier comment as Eloise only! How strange.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, Eloise, I’d not noticed that …I have no idea. But we all know that computers have minds of their own, ha ha!

  10. What annoys m along with the noise, is the absence of wall clocks in shops, streets and malls. So frustrating!!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes! That annoys me, too, Ratnamurti. There are few clocks around these days. Fortunately, we don’t have a shopping mall anywhere near where we live (the cities of Exeter and Plymouth would be the closest, 25 miles in one direction, 30 in another) and there is a clock tower on Torquay sea front (the recent snow put that out of action but it’s working again now), but clocks in supermarkets would be helpful. I usually have to fish my mobile from my bag as I no longer wear a watch.

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