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Friday, Out and About

The former Globe Hotel, Newton Abbot, now the homewares of the department store, Austins (and partially scaffolded for renovations)

We had a few errands to do this morning, one of which was in the market town of Newton Abbot, a few miles outside Torbay.  I needed to return a pair of shoes I bought a couple of weeks ago. I thought they were comfortable, but when I tried them on at home I soon realized that they weren’t as comfortable as I’d thought they were. Experience has told me that if shoes aren’t comfortable right away, seldom will they become comfortable, so I decided to return them.

Once they had been returned we walked up the pedestrian area to Waterstone’s so that we could buy some Horrid Henry books for our little grandson, who is now reading well, considering he is only just five years old.

I found two Horrid Henry books in the Early Reader series, which are for when children are beginning to read on their own without someone reading to them, although I’m sure his Mummy or Daddy will be there to listen to him read and help with words with which he might struggle.

I love Waterstone’s and I can’t think why I’d not been into this store in Newton before.  Perhaps because we don’t go to Newton very often, perhaps because I buy so many books online these days. Perhaps even because when I last saw this shop it was owned by a different bookshop chain.  Anyway, I shall certainly go there again.  It took me back more than 30 years when I went into my first Waterstone’s in the city of Bath.  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It was much like the store in Newton Abbot is today, with dark painted shelves and such a wonderful array of books, and such knowledgeable and welcoming staff.  So today’s visit was a little bit of deja vue.

From there we decided we’d have coffee and scones in The Clock Tower café …

The staff are very pleasant and indeed, it’s quite a nice place for coffee, but whether or not the business has changed hands in recent times, or whether they have someone new doing the baking, on this occasion and on our previous visit, the scones were really not to our liking.  I mentioned this to the member of staff whom I was paying and she kindly removed the cost of my scone from the bill, but a scone so hard that I found splitting it open with a sharp knife difficult should not even have been offered to a customer.  But the member of staff was very nice, and I felt dealt with the matter correctly.  I just hope that they learn how to make nice, light scones soon, otherwise we shall have to find somewhere else for our scones and coffee.

Another point while I’m having a mini-moan, is that when I ask for a cheese scone, what I expect is a scone that has cheese in the dough mixture.  What I think happens is that the baker makes up a batch of plain scone dough, and then on some of the scones adds a topping of grated cheese and calls it a cheese scone. This is not a cheese scone. It is a plain scone with cheese topping.  Oh dear, I must sound a right moaning Minnie, but how difficult can making a good cheese scone be?

After that we returned to the car and went to Currys, a large electrical store on the outskirts of Torquay, and bought a toaster to match the kettle we bought there yesterday (as well as kettles, they also accept old toasters for recycling.)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take any photos of the monster kettles I mentioned yesterday, great hulks of kettles, too heavy to lift before they’d been put under the tap.  The reason was that I wasn’t feeling very well, and so returned to sit in the car while husband completed the transaction.  I had my gall bladder removed just over 4 years ago and every so often something like a cup of coffee or, in this instance, part of a cheese scone (for I didn’t eat all of it, it was so tough) sets certain bodily functions going, and I need the loo urgently. There wasn’t a customer loo in Currys, so I felt safer in the car, and then it was a mad rush to a store where I knew there was a loo!

Once that little episode was over we drove to the shop where we buy our paint, and bought more exterior wall paint so that husband can, in due course, paint our little tool shed.  He built it himself many years go, in breeze block and render, so that it ‘matches’ our house.  (I will overlook the fact that it needs a good tidy-up inside!)

On the way home we passed a roundabout where Torbay Council have a flower bed facing a roundabout, proclaiming English Riviera.  This is the first thing visitors to the area see on approaching the Borough.   It is  difficult to photograph (I’m in the passenger seat of our moving car)  but here you can see a council gardener keeping the area tidy – a pity you can’t see all of it; the land slopes and there is a palm tree, the symbol of Torquay, in flowers.


Once home we discovered that the new toaster is quite ‘shallow’ so a large slice of bread sticks out at the top  when the toaster is on.  In order not to waste the bread by cutting off a portion at the top of each slice, we think that we will cut a slice in half and put all four pieces (i.e. two slices, each in half) in all four slots.

I found another book had been delivered …

Again, I can’t remember where I read about this, perhaps it was one of those Amazon ads, “if you liked this, you might like this …” kind of thing.  And I know I shall enjoy it. It’s all about the joys of reading.

Then it was time for lunch. I decided to use up the pea and mint soup from yesterday, and also warm up the last of the baguette, plus some bread, and then we could use the last of the lemon tart from Waitrose (from last week).

Just a simple lunch, easily prepared, and this  has allowed us time in the garden this afternoon.  No time to stand and admire the freshly-painted wall, though; we had work to do. But more of that another day.

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 sorry you were unwell earlier, I hope all is well now.

    I often have a cheese scone when I’m out but they can be disappointing sometimes. I had one once which tasted sweet, I couldn’t eat it (it takes a lot for me not to eat something!). I usually get a good one in Wyevale garden centre but of course that could be just particular to that branch rather than any of their centres.

    A lot of toasters are too shallow nowadays – how difficult can it be to make them for a standard size slice of bread from a standard loaf? We have had to be very careful buying the last two to get the right depth. That’s another thing – they used to last for many years but the last two have only lasted about 3 years each.

    Moan, moan, moan

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, thank you, Alison. One of the downsides of not having a gall bladder … sometimes, after I’ve eaten (and it can be anything, not just something with a high fat content) I need the loo, and urgently. You never know when it might happen, either. But I’ve heard this from others who are now sans gall bladder. Anyway, today was one of those occasions and it tends to happen when you’re a long way from a loo! You then have to think quickly – where is the nearest one! But I’m fine again now, thanks.
      Ugh, a cheese scone that tasted sweet – no wonder you couldn’t eat it. I mean, how difficult is it to get scones right? They’re not difficult to make and these places are baking them every day, you’d think they’d have perfected them by now, wouldn’t you?
      Yes, three years is about the maximum length of time for a kettle or toaster when years ago, they did last longer. And I think this is regardless of the cost, too. Expensive or inexpensive, this is their estimated life.
      No, you’re not “moan, moan, moan”, you are stating facts.

  2. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    Glad to see in your response to Alison that you’re feeling ok now.
    We have a four slice toaster but only do two slices at a time so that they can go in sideways. Ridiculous that the manufacturers don’t realise that a toaster should accommodate standard size bread!
    A cheese scone with only a cheesy topping? That’s just lazy! I think sometimes the scones are not baked on the day that they are eaten. Like donuts, they need to be absolutely fresh.
    The Torbay Council do a marvellous job with the public gardens. Everywhere always looks so well cared for.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I am sure that fashion dictates such things as toasters and kettles, not their practicality, Eloise. There must be a standard size sliced loaf and toasters could be designed for such loaves. Yes, there are fancy breads in all shapes and sizes, but people don’t tend to toast those, I’m sure, but eat them fresh, un-toasted. I’ve always wondered why toasters are so difficult to clean out, too. Yes, they have little crumb trays, but crumbs get caught in all the corners inside that are impossible to reach.
      Yes, a lot of places have served us scones with just cheese on the top, and no cheese in the dough at all. This is becoming widespread practice, I think, and it’s laziness.
      Yes, in these difficult financial times, our Council do very well with the parks and gardens. There are so many spaces, both large and small that need looking after, even small areas, triangles of grass at road junctions, the places no one hardly notices unlike the flower beds in the parks, and they all need maintaining. On Torquay sea front the Victorian fountain has been away all winter, taken away to be repaired (it was leaning a bit) and while it’s been put back, the gardens are now being re-laid and, hopefully, they will be looking beautiful in a few weeks’ time.) Once the barriers have been removed around the area, I will be there with my camera.

  3. Glad to read that you are feeling better now Margaret, I do like cheese scones but the quality can be very hit and miss at times.. I know eateries like to think that they are giving you value for money but some of the offerings are huge and not very tasty at all. Mind, my darling Mum made the most delicious cheese scones, small but perfectly formed so suspect I have been spoilt.
    Toasters are a dirty word in our house, we recently had to replace ours and like you, balked at paying over £100 for the latest gadget so chose a md range model. It has a mind of its own, never toasts to the same colour twice (beloved likes warm bread, I like caramel coloured toast ) and on the odd occasion ejects the bread with such violence that it lands on the bread board!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, it beggars belief, Elaine, that so many cafes get scones wrong. It is a very simple recipe, really, isn’t it: a quarter fat to flour, and mix with milk or egg and milk mixed to a light dough, and a little sugar added for a sweet scone (plus fruit), or cheese added for a cheese scone. Simples, really!
      Yes, toasters can be difficult … we’ve had many a toaster with a mind of its own. We’ve only used the new one twice, but if we cut the bread in half so as not to waste any, then when it pop up, the half slices are still too far down the slots so we have to dig them out, which means switching off at the mains. So now I cut the top of the slice of bread off, which is wasteful, but the plus side is that so far it toasts the bread evenly.

  4. So much to catch up on three posts! Enjoyable reading.Just finished my Greek yogurt with strawberries blueberries and crushed walnuts,this change of food lifestyle is going well,I think maybe only another stone to lose! I didn’t realise Lidl’s did flowers,apparently we have one opening up soon,so perhaps I should venture there for cut flowers and household items. We popped into Waitrose yesterday to do our food shop and I agree with you their shops are always clean and tidy,I think if you stick to your list they can as reasonable as the other supermarkets for price.Although like yourself I’ve had to have a little moan to Waitrose yesterday.You probably know thus already but when they stopped doing their “picks” on their “my Waitrose card” they started to give out money off vouchers,for instance £7 off a £50 shop.We have never received these vouchers so I rang yesterday to have a moan,the first lady I got was extremely unhelpful and eventually cut me off! The cheek of it! I thought I would ring again,different lady answered who was extremely helpful and explained the whys and wherefors and offered me a gift card by way of an apology. So the moral of the story is it pays to have these little moans from time to time! Anyway enough of me, I throughly enjoyed your post of your list of your day.Lastly did you buy your sheet from John Lewis? Enjoy the weekend Margaret, take care.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Glad you have had a ‘catch up’ with my posts, Margaret. Your Greek yoghurt with the fruit and nuts sounds lovely.
      Yes, Lidl have flowers, but you have to be wary and make sure they’re fresh. Flowers in all the supermarkets are very tightly bunched these days and that means they find it difficult taking up water (if indeed the supermarket has them in water.)
      It is good to hear that after you rang Waitrose that you were offered a gift card by way of an apology for their first response. Such people who answered your first call can really let what is otherwise a good company down.
      Our new sheet is from Sophie Conran. The wool cellular blanket is from John Lewis and is by a company called Hainsworth. Both are very good quality.

  5. .Hope you are feeling better Margaret. Lunch looks delicious. You have truly mastered the Art or Elegant Living

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I am feeling better, thank you, Ratnamurti. It is really just an inconvenience that sometimes I need a loo urgently, and this is because I now have no gall bladder. I’ve spoken to others in the same position and they say much the same.
      Lunch was very tasty, and really, it’s just as easy to use pretty china and lay the table properly than not to, if that makes sense? Once you start using nice things, it’s hard just to fling a couple of plates down without any thought to how the table looks. We do not live in an extravagant way, I just like to make the most of what we have.

  6. The former Globe Hotel is a very handsome building. Thank you for including the photo in your post. The railings and garden beds outside the coffee shop are also very striking. I agree with everyone’s comments about savoury and sweet scones. Although I can no longer eat such delicacies (having adopted a gluten free diet for medical reasons – insert glum face here) I was a huge fan of scones. Good scones, that is. I occasionally indulge – life is too short to deny myself a scone with jam and cream with a cup of tea a couple of times a year ! I’m glad your tummy issue was short-lived.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I can recall, way back in the early 1960s, going to dinner at the Globe Hotel with some of my husband’s family. It has been part of the Austins department store for many years now. This family company have many outlets in the town and this is one of them, and yes, it is a very handsome building.
      Yes, thanks, he tummy issue was short-lived. Once I’ve found a loo, I’m fine!

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