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The upstairs entrance to Le Bistrot Pierre, Torquay, overlooking Torre Abbey Sands

How the time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!  The same might be said for how the numbers stack up when you enjoy writing, for this is my 375th post since August 2016.  How can I have found 375 topics to write about?  No, I don’t know either!

The last few days have been busy but pleasant ones.  Yesterday was our younger son’s 45th birthday and today is our little grandson’s 5th birthday.

Yesterday, younger son and his partner, her parents, and ourselves, had a celebratory lunch together (unfortunately, our daughter in law was working so elder son, daughter in law and grandson weren’t able to attend this lunch) and today, elder son, daughter in law, her mother (staying with them for a week) and our little grandson had a celebratory lunch for his 5th birthday.

Indeed, it has been a week of celebrations for the little fellow, as last Saturday he had his birthday party in a local village hall, with bouncy castle and lots of nice things to eat, with about 20 little ones sharing the fun; on Sunday, our daughter in law’s aunt and uncle called and we all have a buffet lunch together at our son and daughter in law’s home, and today the special lunch on our grandson’s actual birthday.

However, the weather has turned cool and misty, so not photographs showing glorious Devon in blissful sunshine!  Instead, sea mist rolling in!

This clearly demonstrates (or not clearly!) how misty it can be along our coastline. This is the River Teign at low tide yesterday, this view taken from where we were sitting yesterday with our younger son and partner and her parents (and Barry-the-dog) in Coombe Cellars Inn.

What a difference a sunny day makes … the conservatory where we were sitting is on the left (this photo taken last year.)

Again, the River Teign (pronounced ‘teen’) at low tide, but on a sunny day. The distant hills are those of Dartmoor

Yesterday, with mist rolling in from the sea

You must just imagine this area in summer, with blue sky and sunshine, with Teignmouth (pronounced ‘tinmuth’) in the distance on the left hand bank of the river, and the picturesque village of Shaldon on the right hand side of the river.

The bar in the Coombe Cellars Inn, a one-time smuggling inn

We choose this inn not only for  it’s lovely setting and also because they welcome dogs in parts of the inn.

Indeed, I wrote a feature entitled Brandy for the Parson way back in 2001 for our county magazine, Devon Life, and of Coombe Cellars Inn I explained how this inn was in ‘an ideal location for the storing of illicit contraband and in the late 1770s was identified as being the repository of “30 half anker tubs of choice brandy” which “covertly landed after nightfall close upon the Teign estuary and hence delivered by secluded ways” before being “secreted away within several ingenious places within the fabric of the aforementioned house.’

I expect you know Kipling’s famous poem, but in case you’ve not heard it before, here it is …

If you wake at midnight and hear a horse’s feet,

Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street;

Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie,

Watch the wall, my darling, while the gentlemen go by.

Five and twenty ponies

Trotting through the dark –

Brandy for the parson

‘Backy for the clerk;

Laces for a Lady, Letters for a spy;

And watch the wall, my darling, while the gentlemen go by.

I said at the beginning of my feature:  “Smuggling was then a major feature in every part of Britain; a black economy whenever the government of the day introduced an import or an export duty, not only on luxury items but also on essential everyday commodities.  The men and women who carried out the trade were generally admired because everyone benefited from the gentry to the humblest farm worker.  Kipling’s Smuggler’s Song therefore holds a great deal more truth than mere prosody.”

We enjoyed our meal but service was rather slow and we have found this before in this particular inn.  But in mitigation, it was very busy, even mid-week and in an inn which is off the beaten track so only well-known to local people.

* * * *

Today, the weather was even worse, with not only mist but rain. But we had only a short distance to walk from the car park to Le Bistrot Pierre on Torquay sea front.

This photo (above) was taken from a decked area where tables (with sun shades) and chairs are there for outdoor eating when the weather is better than it was today

Large agave succulents grow in Torbay’s mild climate (this area is the backdrop to the decked area)

This chain of restaurants offers French-style cuisine, as the name suggests, and they change their menu with the different seasons.  The setting is one of the best in the Bay, on the ground- and first-floors of the Abbey Sands building (with luxury apartments above).  The décor is industrial-meets-French-chic, wood tables, concrete un-plastered ceiling, exposed track lighting, etc, but while it looks chic and on-trend, to use that awful cliché, as in all these places today, sans upholstery, sans carpets, to absorb sound, the noise reverberates around the room and at times I am sure is at a dangerously high level.

 By the time we ordered, every table was occupied – I took these photos as we arrived at 12.30pm

But, as I say, we enjoy the food here, it’s just the kind of food we like and portion sizes are right, too; not too much, not too little.

While we chose from the menu, water was brought to the table, and a basket of French bread and butter for us to nibble …

This basket was full to start with – we had already helped ourselves before I took this photo

Then our drinks arrived, I chose a light beer …

I chose a main course and a dessert, with a single-shot espresso to finish.  My main was a chicken dish, and my dessert a delicious panna cotta with fruit.

I love the dinky little espresso cups and saucers – they would slip nicely into my bag once I’d drunk my coffee!  Just think, six trips to Pierre’s, and I’d have a full set, ha ha!

Husband chose slow-roast pork medallions, and all the meals come with frites or new potatoes and vegetables …

Slow-roast pork medallions

What a lovely two days of family celebrations we have had.  And now for a little snooze, I think.

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. What a lovely few days. Happy Birthday to your little grandson and belated Birthday Greetings to your son. I do hope you had a go on that bouncy castle, showed them how it is done! The food looks delicious, especially the panna cotta with fruit. I think you have earned a snooze – just have a little dash of the Parson’s brandy and you will doze right off!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Elaine. They have each had a lovely couple of days. But no, I didn’t go on the bouncy castle, I wish now that I had!!! Oh, I’d not thought of that, and we do have a bottle of Courvoisier in the cupboard that was an 80th birthday present to husband over 2 years go! We’re not great drinkers, here but now and again, an ice cold G&T goes down a treat!

  2. It sounds as though you’ve all had a lovely few days – and how lovely not to have to cook for a few meals.

    The weather has been changeable here too – very warm this morning and sunny until lunchtime but then the heavens opened. Luckily I dried some washing first and got the grass cut and swept up. It’s just started raining again now too.

    It keeps us on our toes 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, that was certainly a bonus, Alison, and while I enjoy cooking much of the time, to have two main meals on two consecutive days made for me, that was lovely! The food in Pierre’s was better we felt, or rather, it was more our kind of food. But both very nice, and of course, it’s always nice to be with our family.
      The weather has changed so much from last week when it was so hot we couldn’t even contemplate doing any gardening, but just sat in the summerhouse. I am typing this with a hot water bottle on my lap, keeping warm!

  3. Well, the weather has certainly gone from one extreme to the other here. On Monday ( The Bank Holiday ) it was so hot all my family could do was open all the windows in the house and then vegetate!! Today the fog has been so dense we haven’t been able to see from one side of the harbour to the other and my daughter has wanted to put the central heating on!!!!!!!!!! In fact, at one point, the house at the end of our close had vanished in the mist. So glad your little grandson had a lovely birthday – so important at his age!! Pierre’s looks gorgeous – must try it one day.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes did put the central heating on, Fiona, it was so damp and chilly this afternoon on our return from Pierre’s. I think you’d enjoy a meal there and it’s not expensive, either. Do have a look at their website http://www.bistrotpierre.co.uk/locations/torquay (I think that is correct without checking it). Two course for under £13 each is very good these days, and they bring lovely slices of baguette (with small packs of French butter) to nibble while you wait for your meal, and bring water to the table without having to request this, just as restaurants did when I was young, a habit which has all but disappeared in so many places these days. During the week, Pierre’s doesn’t open until midday and it’s so popular now it’s best to book a table if you wish to have lunch there; at the weekend they are also open for breakfast, and having breakfast on their balcony overlooking the sea on a sunny, summer’s morning is a lovely treat. You can check the menu out online.

  4. What a lovely week you are having! It’s a shame about the mist (it’s very misty here too) but it has its own beauty, I think, and your photos show that well.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Joy, I agree sometimes the mist can make the landscape look even more beautiful. Best of all is a hoar frost in winter when the landscape, the hedgerows and trees are clothed in sparkly ice crystals. That can look magical. Yes, we’ve had a lovely week and for elder son, daughter in law and grandson this continues with a trip to Cornwall. Today we are taking our car for the ‘proper’ repair (not the quick temporary repair executed by the AA man) to our local garage (and they are kindly supplying a courtesy car.)

  5. The grey photos are rather lovely. Interestingly so. And the food looks delicious……

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Ratnamurti. It is often like this around our coast, and especially on the River Teign. And the food was lovely, especially at Pierre’s.

  6. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    Your food looks delicious and it sounds as though you have had a lovely week with your socialising! A belated happy fifth birthday to your grandson. We gave just been invited to my grandsons birthday. He will be three at the beginning of July. My mother was a great one for poetry and would read it to me rather than stories. As a small girl, before I could even read, I could recite several verses from her favourites – A Smugglers Song as well as Walter Scott’s Meg Merrilies and The green eye of the yellow God (Milton Hayes) . I taught my children Apply Dapply’s nursery rhymes by Beatrix Potter!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      My mother loved Meg Merrilies and I remember one of the characters in the TV comedy series, many years ago, reciting The Green Eye of the Yellow God (it isn’t meant to be funny, but it was in this 1/2 hour comedy, although I can’t remember anything more about it.)
      And happy birthday to your little grandson, too!

  7. Congratulations on your 375th post !!! It’s a wonderful achievement and I have enjoyed them all. Thank you very much for all of the work that you do to prepare your posts.

    I’m delighted to hear that Barry was able to enjoy lunch with you all.

    I enjoyed reading the poem by Kipling (I’d not seen it before) and hearing of your local history. Sydney had its fair share of rum smuggling in the early days of the colony. I remember being told there was a man who would row from one side of Sydney harbour to retrieve clean drinking water, which he transported in barrels. The story goes that the barrels sometimes contained rum. I’m sure there were all sorts of happenings.

    Sorry to hear your late spring weather has turned unpleasant but it sounds like you’ve had a lovely time with your family.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you so much, Lara, for your very kind and welcome comments. I enjoy writing and after many years of writing about so many different subjects for magazines, it’s lovely simply to be able to write exactly what I want to write and not be directed by an Editor (all of whom were wonderful, I might add, and I usually had a free hand when writing and seldom were my words changed, I’m happy to say) or even have a certain subject to write about for a particular month (i.e. sentimental jewellery for the February issue, which has St Valentine’s Day) or a feature linked to a special anniversary, such as this year’s 65th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
      Yes, smuggling was rife here in the 18th century, and no wonder with such high taxes on even things like soap. Glad you like Kipling’s poem.
      The weather today is humid, rather sticky, and it’s the day of the Torbay Air Show. Eventually, the aerial display team, The Red Arrows will scream overhead. We have quite a good view from our house – provided we go to the upstairs bathroom and stand on the loo seat and hang out of the skylight! But we see no point in joining the crowds for the Air Show, looking up all the time makes our necks ache!

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