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Saturday Breakfast at the Garden Centre


I think garden centres are much more imaginative these days in the way they display plants.  I love this flower ‘bed’!

Last night, I suggested to husband that if it was fine in the morning we could go out for breakfast, something we’d not done in a very long time.  I really fancied going to Le Bistrot Pierre on Torquay Sea Front, but husband also needed some compost for the garden and as the garden centre – which isn’t that far from where we live – has a small café and serves a good breakfast, he suggested we went there. And so I agreed, I can’t have my own way all the time, can I?


The view from our seat in the café – it was too dull to sit outside this morning

Breakfast is served from 9am to 11am, and we arrived around 9.25am, but we were the first ordering breakfast.  There were several  options but most of them included bacon or eggs, and so we both chose a “full English”, which to those outside the UK consists of egg, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, sausage, hash brown, and baked beans.  I don’t like baked beans on my breakfast (although I enjoy beans on toast for a snack meal) so I requested no beans for me.   It arrived a little while later and while this was a simple meal, simply presented, it was well cooked and the ingredients good quality.  With it came a round of toast with marmalade and butter.  And we had coffee to drink.

Once we had tucked into that, and finished our coffee, we had a look around at the plants, and I chose some violas to go into a pot where the tulips in it are now ‘over’.  We also bought ericaceous compost as we intend transplanting an acer from the pot it’s in into a slightly larger pot.


From the garden centre we decided to go to the DIY outlet, B&Q, as I wanted to get four lupin plants similar to the ones we bought there about three weeks ago. The weather hasn’t been good and we hadn’t had an opportunity to plant those lupins and a consequence was that three out of the four plants had been gobbled by slugs.  We must have the fattest slugs in Devon the way the blighters devour our plants, even though we use the awful slug bait (but we do buy the bait that doesn’t harm wildlife – perhaps because of this it doesn’t harm slugs either!)

Once we had bought the replacement lupins (good value at four plants for £10) husband had a good look around the tools section.  Oh, men do love doing this, don’t they?  B&Q is, to him, like the perfumery counter is to me in a department store, or a good bookshop, new or second-hand!  So I bide my time and don’t complain.  If I knew what all the things actually were, I’d find it more interesting, I’m sure.  I can’t tell a router bit from a wing nut!  Seriously, I do know what most of the things are; I’ve not been married to an engineer for the best part of 54 years without knowing a hack saw from fret saw.

Toys R Us for Men

And then we drove home and, having bought the Saturday newspaper, we settled ourselves in the summerhouse for, by then, the sun had put in an appearance (but after a morning out and about we felt more inclined to sit down with a cup of coffee and read for a while than embark on gardening.)

Once refreshed, husband decamped to the garage where he’s working on a little project and I decided to continue weeding files and such like in the study.  It’s surprising how paperwork mounts up if you don’t deal with it regularly.  I had files of paperwork dating back more than a decade:  the council tax statement for each year, the water rates for each year, the house insurance documents, the car insurance documents … I knew where they all were and most of them were in order, but I had kept them from years gone by when, really, we only need the current information.

So I got busy with the shredder.  And the difference it has made is wonderful. I have now just one concertina file with everything in it, all in just one place.  And my basket on my desk has just the paper and envelopes, the postcards and so forth that I wish to keep.  I’m afraid I chickened out of parting with birthday and Christmas cards and they have gone into a large bag and will be stashed away in the loft!  I cant’ bear parting with cards, especially those from our lovely family and close friends.  Sentimental old goat, aren’t I!

Here is our work bench, aka desk, in the study now that it’s all been tidied …


Not a particularly good photo, but it has been a very dull and rainy afternoon and I put the lights on, which causes reflections on the workbench (aka desk).  My computer is on the right, husband’s (with a  slightly larger monitor) is on the left.

My mother bought me the miniature chest of drawers you can see on the wicker basket (in which I keep writing paper, envelopes, postcards and so forth).  It is ideal for business cards, postage stamps and anything that is so small that it could be easily ‘lost’  in larger containers.

On the wall next to where I sit are four small prints of Japanese ladies in traditional costume representing spring, summer, autumn and winter.  I had these framed many years ago.  They are actually notelet cards from 1956, the year I was 12 years old and they were one of my birthday presents that year (I used all but these four) and I still love them all these years later.

This room really does need redecorating, but it will be a mammoth task and we’re really rather reluctant to start – just imagine moving all those books and magazines to another room, for a start!  We would keep the curtains, but everything else we would change, the wallpaper (which has been on the walls for about 30 years) and the colour of the bookcases. We bought the curtains when we moved here 32 years ago. They were specially made for this room and we still like them and they still look as good as the day they were put up and we still like the colour and design.

You can see some holes in the wall above; this is where we used to have a wall-mounted small TV and its support bracket was fixed to the wall.  The letter rack, shaped like a mountain, was a gift from the paint and wallpaper company, Farrow & Ball, and I find it useful for correspondence cards and a notebook.  I keep pencils in an old, washed out, Lyle golden syrup tin.

Photos from some of my  items I have from when I was a child, including a lovely bone china Coronation mug, and the programme for the Queen’s, then Princess Elizabeth, marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh

And finally, today is the 92 birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth, may she have a happy birthday and also enjoy the concert this evening in the Royal Albert Hall (although I’d recommend she takes along some ear plugs for some of the more musically vigorous, shall we say, items on the programme!)

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 always refer to B&Q as tool porn, as so many men spend hours in there just browsing.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, that’s so funny, Sue! But they love it, don’t they? And you see them in there, usually with a woman trailing behind, a bit like when you see men trailing behind women in a department store or charity shop. I know this is sexist talk, but I’m a realist, this is what I see. However, I quite like old-fashioned ironmonger’s shops (that’s hardware stores to those outside the UK), that smell of sawn wood and paraffin and metal and so forth, but modern DIY stores, with everything on high racks, clothed in bubble-plastic, is boring in the extreme.

  2. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    What a lovely tidy study area! Breakfast looks tasty. I love a full English breakfast but never make one. It’s a holiday (and occasional cafe) treat. I have mine without an egg as I only eat eggs that I have cooked. They have to be very well done and no one ever gets them exactly right!
    I have an intense dislike of B&Q and similar stores. Husband has to go on his own.
    We have tried lupins in the garden several times butI think that they are a slugs favourite meal. We’ve tried growing delphiniums too but without success. Shrubs seem to like our clay soil more than flowers do, although we manage roses pretty well.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, my corner of the bench/desk is now tidy again. I love to have it nice and tidy and dust-free, but it’s a rarity, believe me.
      We rarely have a full English breakfast, too, so it was a real treat this morning. The egg was very nicely cooked, too. I can’t stand an under-done fried or poached egg.
      I don’t like B&Q at all, but they have some good plants there, so I suffered the place in order to get them. And as the small ironmonger’s shops are now conspicuous by their absence, these DIY stores having seen them off, they are the only place husband can get what he needs for his various projects (apart from builder’s merchants and Screwfix.)
      The slugs must have a breakfast guide and top of their list is Lupins, with a 5-star rating, as ours always disappear, no trace of them whatsoever. I’m going to try these in pots and also put sharp grit on top of the compost to deter the blighters. Ditto our experience with delphiniums!

  3. Sounds like you had a lovely morning out, Margaret. That’s a very nice garden center. I’ve noticed what you call bacon almost seems like a slice of fried ham in the USA, meaning you have really yummy-looking bacon! When I saw the first photo of your nice study, I thought your drapes were probably custom-made. They, and the rest of your study, are very attractive. I like your work area, with the recessed keyboards. Much better for wrists and shoulders! I type with my arms too high; the height of my laptop on my desk requires it. (The only place I can use my computer on my lap is in bed.) But it’s OK, because my shoulders are already beyond hope anyway! Although I sympathize with losing your lupins, I chuckled over your slugs. Perhaps the slug bait even turns them into super-slugs?! I’ve never seen a slug here, but we are generally so dry anymore (and I don’t dig much). Getting a light rain today, though, thankfully. I’d better end my inane chatter, but your post was a treat to read while I ate my late lunch! Yes, Happy Birthday to Queen Elizabeth, a remarkable lady!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Slugs are a permanent pest here, Bess, as it’s so wet in our part of Devon and slugs love the rain! They also try and gobble our lovely hostas, but now we grow those in pots only, and put grit around them, too, and stand the pots on gravel.
      Yes, husband made the work bench with the little shelves for our keyboards, and between us there is also a slide-out shelf for extra books, paperwork, when necessary, and we each have a small cupboard he created at each end of the bench.
      Yes, the curtains were custom-made, as were those in our bedroom (new two years ago) and our sitting/dining room, which are also 32 years old, but still good. We chose traditional fabrics, colours, patterns, so that we hoped they would not ‘date’. On the other hand, while looking ‘traditional’ I hope they don’t look old fashioned, for there is a slender line between the two.
      I too have achy shoulders from years of sitting at a computer/keyboard, and a typewriter before that, so I sympathize with your achy shoulders.
      I didn’t know that you didn’t call bacon “bacon”. We call it ham when it’s a gammon joint that has been boiled or roasted, and is a meal with vegetables, not for breakfast with eggs. Bacon is cured pork that is fried or grilled (broiled). It’s not quite the same as ham, which we eat (cooked) and in sandwiches or with a salad. But I think if I ordered ham and eggs in America, what I would get would be much like our bacon and eggs. Well, I hope so, anyway. Maybe someone who is English who has emigrated to America might tell me if this is the case?

    • Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

      No slugs, Bess. Oh how wonderful. We all detest slugs here!

  4. I’m loving my weekends! Finally after 17 years, I have the golden job in nursing. Monday to Friday with no shift work!

    Our garden centres are just thinking about opening up. Saw potting soil today and some very early pansy pots and some lavender trees that are tempting me.

    Breakfast. My favourite meal to have out. Today it was simple. Breakfast in a bun at a coffee shop. The husband loves it but loves it more when I pay.

    Bacon is a tricky subject in North America. There is back bacon, Canadian bacon, and bacon. Bacon here is very streaky. Ayrshire bacon is a rare find and once you find a British butcher you treasure him. Canadian bacon and back bacon are very similar. Sort of like the big round portion of British bacon by itself.

    I’m hoping our trees will start to bud in the next 3 weeks. We saw most of grass for the first time since October this week.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, how lovely for you, Linda/WonderCollie, to have regular hours at last. I admire your professional enormously, and all those who work in the medical world, for I and my husband have both had need of intensive care on several occasions.
      Our garden centres are open all year round, and now they are more than places selling ‘just’ plants. They have had to diversify and sell all kinds of other things, furniture and household wares and sometimes clothes.
      Yes, breakfast is my favourite meal to have out, too, and I’m glad you enjoyed your breakfast in a bun today.
      Yes, what we have is called ‘back bacon’ (there is also streaky bacon which is very fatty and I don’t buy that.)
      Some of our trees are now in leaf, but the walnut tree in our garden is one of the last to come into leaf and won’t be in full leaf until the end of May. My goodness, not seeing grass since last October – small wonder you relish the coming of spring! As we drove to the garden centre and then the DIY outlet, I mentioned to husband that the hedges were now ‘greening up’, and lovely they looked, too.

  5. What a delightful day Margaret and such a lovely post, thank you so much.
    It brought me a little closer to the UK, I do so enjoy seeing your home and your outings.
    Breakfast looks delish especially the bacon, as another reader said, bacon in North America is rather a disappointment.
    I was pleased to see your study, now I can picture you in your surroundings when you write for us.

    Best wishes,
    Pam in Texas.x

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Pam, and I’m delighted you enjoyed the virtual outing to the garden centre! I also spent the whole afternoon sorting files, I took a photo of the mess here in the study before it was all neat and tidy, but I was too ashamed of it to post the photo! I will continue today weeding the bulging file labelled “Car Bumpf” as it not only has the insurance documents, the breakdown service documents, but also loads of receipts for work done over the past umpteen years, plus receipts for new tyres, that sort of thing … no need to keep any of it, so why did I? Madness, just clutters my cupboard.
      One might ask why I look after all this and not husband? Well, it started long, long ago and it was simply that I worked closer to the bank in those dim and distant days and when I was paid my weekly wage (in cash at that time) and husband was paid his (ditto, although we eventually went to being salaried monthly) I could pay my money and his into the bank. This went on to me looking after things like paying the mortgage, paying the insurances, and so forth so that I’ve always been the one to do it. I know a lot of wives haven’t a clue as to the family finances, but I always had my finger on the pulse, but it happened simply because it was convenient.
      Sorry your bacon is disappointing in America. You obviously need to get that sorted and have some good pig farms, ha ha. But I suspect climate doesn’t help, pigs have very sensitive skins, they’d burn up in your hot summers.

  6. That breakfast looks very tempting. I’m glad there’s someone else who doesn’t like baked beans with it. I only like baked beans in a separate dish, I can’t bear the juice to touch other food. I’m not normally a picky eater (might be better for me if I was) but I really hate bean juice on a plate with other food.

    I’m hoping for a visit to a garden centre this week, I want to get a couple more heucharas (I can see some in one of your photos). We have clay soil and they seem to do well here, with so many different colours of foliage so you get a good variety.

    It won’t be today though, too busy for my husband on a Sunday – unless my daughter is at a loose end and rings up!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Breakfast was OK, as they say. Nothing really special, but good-for-the-what-we-paid. It wasn’t a swish hotel breakfast (which we’ve enjoyed on occasion when I was hotel reviewing some years ago – my goodness, we had the most marvellous breakfast at a hotel near Marlow, that was something else, with silver chaffing dishes under which were mountains of scrambled eggs, kidneys, bacon, mushrooms, sausages, etc, all so we could help ourselves at not just a cold buffet, but a hot buffet!) Nor was it like breakfast at Le Bistrot Pierre where I would have a croque Monsieur perhaps or a croissant with apricot jam. But it was fun to go out for breakfast again, and it didn’t break the bank.
      In ‘good’ hotels and restaurants the kitchen brigade would shudder at the mere thought of putting declasse baked beans on the plate! I think they ruin a good breakfast and if they are served, they should be placed in a little dish on the plate, so that the sauce doesn’t run all over the bacon, egg, mushroom, etc. I hate bean juice touching my food, too!
      I love heucheras, some of ours are OK, some have died. I will just have to see which have survived the winter before I buy any more. But we have enough gardening and household tasks to keep us busy today without venturing further than the garden. Right now, clouds are beginning to appear … again. I think it will be a curate’s egg of a day: good in parts.

  7. What a wonderful day and I am deeply envious of the breakfast. It looks fab.
    Slugs and snails, I fear, are an inevitable part of life, like death and taxes. It’s war all the way too!
    J x

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, slugs, snails and taxes, ha ha! Yes, breakfast was very tasty, Joy. But we don’t eat like this every day. Today, husband made porridge for himself and I had one slender brioche with a little blackcurrant jam. But we have cut up a couple of pears that were on-the-turn, almost too squishy to eat, and we will have those shortly. We both love to have fruit each day.

  8. I also enjoyed this column immensely as well as reading the many comments. I enjoy learning about the day-to-day activities and items of others, especially those living in other countries 🙂

    We don’t have slugs her in our part of sub-tropical Australia- to be honest I’d never noticed until now – but we can have so many geckos, flies, mosquitoes, spiders, snakes, etc depending on the season that I don’t feel hard done by ! It’s supposedly mid-autumn here (if you go by the calendar) but as last summer was record-breaking hot and also long, much of our wildlife and vegetation is behaving as if autumn has just arrived. Two nights ago my husband took our dog out during the night so he could go to the toilet (the dog, not my husband !) and nearly trod in a snake ! It was a carpet snake – a python – and ‘only about 50cm long’ he told me the following morning, but for a city girl like me it certainly got my attention !

    Your study room is lovely and I find myself envious. It has lovely views out to the garden as well as a very cosy ‘feel’. Well done on all of your sorting, clearing, shredding and donating. You can sit back and admire the fruits of your labour.

    And yes, happy birthday to Queen Elizabeth. I heard on the radio that Sir Tom Jones opened the concert. Oh how I would have swooned and enjoyed that performance. ‘Help yourself to my lips, to my arms, just say the word and you are mine ….’


    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      It’s hard to believe, Lara, that Saturday has come around yet again and shortly I will be getting ready to go to the hairdresser. How quickly the weeks fly past, and believe me, as you get older time speeds up!
      I expect your climate is too hot for slugs, but you have worse things, I think .. mosquitoes, spiders and snakes. I would be terrified of snakes, even non-poisonous ones! Your husband almost treading on a python … that puts our little slugs into perspective! I shan’t have to grumble about slugs any more … there are certainly worse things out there!
      Tom Jones, for all his years, was the only one could would actually sing at the concert for the Queen. Shaggy – who I’d not heard of – was just making lewd twerking and grinding motions with his body, actually I found him quite obscene. Goodness knows what the Queen thought of such a performance (a right performance, as we’d say!) And “singing” isn’t a word I’d use for what came out of his mouth – I thought singing was meant to enhance life, for beautiful sounds to be heard … enough said.

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