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Up and Running Again

The silver sea early this morning


Dear friends,

Thank you all for being so patient while I have been doing my best to solve my website problems.

I say “I” but the person who has solved them – for they were a website hosting problem rather than a computer problem – is a wonderful person who has worked very hard to get things up and running again. So a very big thank you to this highly skilled person for all her work.

This will now be a catch-up post, with lots of bits and pieces, but first I must thank all my readers who have left comments and which I read but which, because of the recent technical difficulties, I have been unable to publish.  Knowing that you have missed my regular posts was a great boost to my confidence; knowing that what I write about is what you enjoy, and while I can’t thank each and every one of you individually, you know, I am sure, how much you and your comments are appreciated.  So thank you all very much.

Last week we paid our local garden centre a visit.   I don’t know about you, but when I visit a garden centre what I am going for is generally something to do with horticulture!  Our local garden centre has, until now, been such a place – it offers plants, various types of compost, secateurs, and Christmas trees at Christmas (and those wonderful singing reindeer!)  There are even plans afoot to extend this garden centre, making it double the size and, I suppose, to make it economically viable,it must sell things other than plants, compost, secateurs, etc.  Now, I know these are amusing (see photo above and below) but surely one stand with these ‘creatures’ would be sufficient – sadly, a whole area has been devoted to this kind of stuff.

I don’t wish to be a grouch, but oh dear, this part of the centre does now resemble a playgroup!

Not so our favourite garden centre, Avon Mill Garden Centre, near Kingsbridge, South Devon.


As the name suggests, the focus of the garden centre is centre an old mill house on the River Avon, and even the car park has a view of the river …

First of all we had lunch, and as portions tend to be generous we each opted for a mushroom and roasted garlic quiche with salad.  We then had a wander around, admiring the lovely displays which really do make you want to buy things …

And we bought a paeony and a gaura which we will plant very shortly in the garden.  And in the shop, homewares and metal furniture suitable for a garden or conservatory, but I didn’t spot any pink pigs or droopy-eared dogs …



It was a rather dull and misty day, but on sunny days there is a lovely decked area up a flight of steps, from where you have a view of the garden centre. We had our meal in the conservatory.  B&B accommodation is also available on the top floor – how lovely would that be!

There have been two shopping trips since I last posted, both of them to Waitrose.  I have mentioned on another blog how I organize my shopping, and that is to jot items down that I run out of, or am getting close to running out of, onto a magnetic fridge pad.  And then, just before I go shopping, I transfer the items to a List I keep in my computer files, deleting things we do not need that week, and adding those that we do, the List being in the order that we find them in the store, i.e. the first aisle, the second aisle and so forth, the way we travel around the store.  This saves a lot of time and also we are unlikely to overlook something.

This is how it works … rough list on the left, printed list on the right.  It  looks a lot of effort, but is really easy, and it saves time … and the less time you spend in the supermarket, the less likely you are to over-spend on things which you suddenly feel you must have but don’t really need.

Last week, the flowers looked wonderful but they had majored on peonies and they were rather expensive, so I bought sweet Williams and freesias.  The sweet Williams lasted a good week, and there were so many in one bunch I managed to put them around the house, supplementing the ones from the previous week which were still looking good …

The roses in the bedroom are from the garden; a bush called You’re Beautiful has been just that.  This week’s flowers are lisianthus and pink roses …

And after our visit to Waitrose on Friday, we went to the hospice boutique and I offloaded more magazines and took some photos of the lovely clothes. Oh, if only I were five foot ten and slender …


Apart from the visit to the two garden centres we have spent much of the time at home.  And, of course, I have been reading.  I enjoyed the latest novel by Nicky Pellegrino …

I hadn’t read anything by this novelist before and I wasn’t sure whether, once I’d started this book, whether it was quite ‘me’.  But, unlike my usual modus operandi – where I cease reading a book I don’t find particularly interesting – I continued and in the end found it a rather lovely, satisfying read.  And then when I took delivery of my latest book – non-fiction this time …

I found definite similarities in the two books, one fiction the other non-fiction.  They are both set in Venice, they are both primarily about food (even though the work of fiction is a romance, but there’s a lot of food in it, even the recipes of the dishes mentioned.)  I’ve never been to Venice, nor am likely to go, but if anything could make me want to visit that city it is this book. The photography in it is wonderful, so atmospheric.

Today, I was up early – hence the leading photo of the sea taken from our sitting room window.  We had breakfast about 8am in the kitchen …

A refreshing fresh fruit salad – melon, apples, strawberries, raspberries, red grapes and stem ginger, with a few canned lychees as I had them in the fridge – and then warm buttery croissants with apricot jam, and a pot of tea.  Ideal summer food.

And we have had lunch in the garden, and elder son joined us (daughter in law has gone shopping, grandson is at school) …

A mixed tomato salad, of vine tomatoes thinly sliced, cucumber sliced, radishes sliced, chopped red onion, chopped chives, chopped salad onions, salad cress, and a home-made vinaigrette dressing.  Plus a cheese board, sourdough bread, Normandy butter, olives, grapes, and new potatoes.  I put ham and salami on the individual plates, so these are out of the photograph.  Not a scrap was left.

And now I will post this and hope that all is well and that if rogue spam comments attempt to come in I will be able to delete them.

Again, my thanks for all your lovely comments,

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. Hooray! You’re back 🙂 So glad you got it all sorted, both for your sake and ours.

    The garden centre at Avon Mill looks lovely. Those “objects” from the other centre are ones that I have seen in various garden centres and I have wondered who might buy them. I’m hesitant to say too much because one of your readers might love them but they are not my cup of tea. I’m not much for garden ornaments anyway, I just have one or two small things which are tucked away almost out of sight but I know they are there.

    I haven’t bought cut flowers this week because my youngest daughter bought me a lovely bunch for looking after her guinea pigs last weekend when they went away but I did buy a Sweet William plant from the stall at our local shopping centre this morning and I’ve managed to squeeze that into the garden – and it was a squeeze!

    I wish there was another garden centre near to me that I haven’t visited because it would be nice to go somewhere different. I’ll have to have a search online and see what I can find 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Those ornaments aren’t my cup of tea, either, Alison, but someone must like them otherwise they’d not be there. Maybe they are made from recyclable materials, I don’t know. But I can’t imagine spending time making things like that, let alone buying them. I like flowers in my garden.
      It is nice to be back, hope things go smoothly from now on.

  2. Welcome back, you have been missed.

    The image I have of you is that you are 5’10” and slender – don’t tell me that I have it all wrong!

    I know what you mean about garden centres – we have one large one which majors on food and all manner of nonsense, as well as plants and garden tools, etc. Luckily, we also have a brilliant nursery, just a couple of miles away, nothing but plants, trees and shrubs – oh, and the occasional sack of compost.

    We had to visit Lincoln last week, so I paid a visit to Waitrose, for the first time in many years. The shopping experience was delightful, very civilised indeed!

    ps Well done to your computer person!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh dear, I’ve let the cat out of the bag now, Elaine … your image is quite wrong! Think of Mr Blobby without the pink and white outfit!
      The garden centre started life as a nursery, but now like so many, it’s a garden centre. Yes, they do raise a lot of plants themselves at their main centre in East Devon, but a lot of plants are bought in – a plant supermarket. I don’t mind that as long a the plants are healthy, but I dislike all the tat you see in a lot of these places. I thought this one wasn’t going to go down that road, but I have been proved wrong.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      My computer person is a genius, I reckon.
      Glad you enjoyed Waitrose in Lincoln. That is a city I’ve never visited and always wanted to. Quite a hike from Torbay, though.

  3. Lovely to have you back Margaret, we missed you!
    The Avon Mill garden centre looks very nice. Our local garden centre has a cafeteria and we often pop in for lunch and a browse.
    Haven’t seen any ‘creatures’ there though, yet! X

  4. Lovely to see you back Margaret,
    Such a pleasure to read as always and to see your wonderful photos.
    I really don’t like those metal figures, very tacky indeed. Great tip about the shopping list, being organised certainly does stop overspending.
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Best wishes

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I think the figures are a bit on the tacky side, too. Amusing, but would I buy one? No.
      It’s nice to be back, Marlene!

  5. Welcome back and how lovely to see you posting again Margaret, you have certainly been missed!

    We have two garden centres in our village, one is very much along the lines of the first one in your post and sells anything from clothes to garden ornaments, the second is far more like an old fashioned kind of nursery, more focused on flowers and gardening. They both have a very nice cafe though so we are certainly spoilt.

    Re your shopping list, which by the way is very organised, I have a chalk board in the kitchen on which I note down anything that we run out of and then jot down a final list on notepaper but like you it is done in the same order as the aisles in our local supermarket, far easier that way and thankfully the manager doesn’t seem to be one of those that feels it necessary to keep swapping things around!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Elaine. I have been truly overwhelmed by all the messages I’ve received, telling me that my blog posts have been missed, and it’s reassuring to know that my posts are enjoyed.
      Now nice to have a proper nursery in your area. I mustn’t knock garden centres, though, they do serve a purpose and they usually have strong healthy plants, even if they are in serried ranks, all looking much the same. But so many are selling the kind of garden ornaments that quite frankly are awful. But who are we to dictate taste? Whether it’s still there, I do not know, but in a bungalow’s garden approaching Babbacombe Downs used to have a huge collection of gnomes and assorted toys in the garden, so much so that people donated their own gnomes and it became almost a tourist destination. It was such fun because it really was gnome-overload, and you expected to see them there, and the oil tank for the central heating had been transformed into something resembling Thomas the Tank Engine. Now, that I thought such fun even though I’d not want a garden like it myself. People used to stop and look over the wall and they always ended up with a smile on their faces!
      Yes, people with shopping lists are, I’m sure, not the people that supermarkets wish to see – they want browsers, those who buy things on a whim. And fortunately, since the last store re-fit some months ago, our local Waitrose hasn’t moved things around too much.

  6. Good to have you back! I do like a few garden ornaments – bird baths, bird houses and feeders, some statuary, gazing ball – but not so much on the gaudy and wacky like you showed. I’m not sure why anyone would like those, but to each his own!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Jeannine. Yes, bird baths, bird houses and feeders, that sort of thing and statuary are more than acceptable, they’re lovely. They help feed wildlife, which is always good. Not sure what a gazing ball is, though. Not heard of that. Perhaps it’s something we call something else, if you know what I mean!

  7. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    Looking good Margaret, and so nice to have you back.
    i like the multi-frame photo of your flowers, and also the one of your table with the tomato salad – such a pretty table cloth.
    I don’t dislike the big commercial gadden centres (and they are extremely useful when grandchildren are accompanying us. For the price of an ice cream the free mini adventure playground offered by one that we visit, provides an afternoon’s entertainment). However, the Avon Mill Garden Centre looks just my kind of place for a leisurely outing! What lovely displays.
    Venice is a lovely place to visit but sadly spoilt by the crowds (of which I was a part, of course). I wanted to stand on the Rialto Bridge and stare dreamily over the Grand Canal but no chance – the police move people on after a couple of minutes….literally. When I was there they kept calling out, “Two minutes, two minutes.”
    May I assure Elaine that whilst you are not 5’10”, neither do you resemble, in ANY way, Mr Blobby. And I know because I’ve seen you!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      That tablecloth, Eloise started life as a ‘throw’ for our sofa when it’s original upholstery had seen better days. The sofa has been recovered (in 2002, it needs it again now!) and yet the ‘throw’ lives on as a tablecloth for the garden table. I do the multi-frame pictures via Picasa, and they are very easy to do; if I can do them, anyone can.
      Avon Mill isn’t a huge garden centre, indeed, it’s quite small, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in quality, we really like it. How awful to go all the way to Venice to be moved along so quickly. Perhaps best to go out of season, but it can be wet then, I understand, and cold in winter, too.
      Oh, thank you for the kind words, but I am more than a little tubby!

  8. It’s so lovely to have you back Margaret and hopefully no more glitches! Weather has been glorious today,although we too have been shopping in Waitrose today.Our Waitrose is attached to a John Lewis at Home which can be a distraction especially at sale times! I went up to Olympia Wednesday to House and Garden show with a girlfriend, thought of you.Have a lovely weekend,take care,Margaret.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      It’s nice to be back, Margaret. How lovely that your Waitrose is attached to a John Lewis at Home. Do you know, although there is a john Lewis store in Exeter, we’ve never been there! How lovely to have the opportunity to visit Olympia for the House & Garden show, too. You have a good weekend, too, Margaret.

  9. Read your blog regularly, sorry I haven’t commented before. You were really missed, we are so alike in shopping, garden and house, I find it so amusing at times, like you I don’t like the tat that is around in garden centers these days, I have the odd few little things in my garden that the Grand children have given me over the years, and wouldn’t part with them, they have aged beautifully and most are covered in beautiful moss to outline their shape. Hope your computer problems are completely sorted now and you will continue to blog regularly. I was so thrilled when you had a photograph a few weeks ago of the beautiful lupins at your Waitrose, I drove right away to our Waitrose in Truro, in the hope of buying one but they didn’t have any, so disappointed, obviously they don’t keep the same stock in each of their stores.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Never mind about not having commented before, Kathleen, that you read and enjoy my blog is what is important. But lovely to hear from you now, and I’m glad my website problems have been ironed out. I think we can excuse the gifts from grandchildren when it comes to garden ornaments, they are lovely whatever they are! It’s actually going out and buying tat that always surprises me. I could not imagine spending money on such things, hard-earned money, hard-saved money. But it’s like 2nd hand stuff, one man’s rubbish is another’s treasure, and if someone gets a lot of pleasure out of these things, perhaps I shouldn’t be so critical. It’s just that to me gardens are for plants (and yes, bird feeders and statuary, as I’ve made clear).
      What a shame about the lupins, i.e. none in your branch of Waitrose. We saw some beauties in the Avon Mill Garden Centre as I showed on my latest post.

  10. Nice to have you back Margaret, must look out for the Mill if we’re down Kingsbridge way. I have a feeling the bright colours in garden centres, whether gaudy decorations or natural plants help to lift the spirits.

    As for yourself. Mr Blobby, I think not!!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, I think you would like Avon Mill, Heather. It’s at Loddiswell, not far from Kingsbridge and you can then take the coast road around to Dartmouth via Tor Cross (ideal for fish & chips!), and Slapton Ley (the Nature Reserive) and Slapton Sands. It’s a very pretty route.
      I don’t mind bright plants, Heather. In a way, those bright ornaments are as close to gardens as crazy golf is to real golf. Good fun, but just for the moment.

  11. Welcome back Margaret. You’ve been dearly missed and it’s so nice that your blog is up and running again. The garden centers look like a lovely way to spend an afternoon. But, I do agree with you about those ornaments 🙁 Enjoy your weekend and I hope you have pleasant weather. Regards, Pat

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Pat. Yes, Avon Mill is our garden-centre-of-choice, and there are nice shaded places, too, if it’s a hot summer’s day. I think our fine weather is set to last until well into next week, so we hope to have some days in the garden and the summerhouse, perhaps watching some of the World Cup matches.

  12. Lovely to see you back, Margaret. As you can see, we’ve all missed you. 🙂 Avon Mill Garden Centre looks like a lovely and tranquil place to visit – thank you for sharing the photographs so that we can all enjoy it as well. Also more wonderful photographs of your flowers and table arrangements. I do so enjoy your blog! Warm wishes, Lynne

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you for such lovely comments, Lynne. As I’ve said to others, Avon Mill is a lovely garden centre and what’s more, the drive from where we live to the garden centre is a nice one, too, through the countryside of the South Hams (that is short for Southern Hamlets, it has nothing to do with pigs, ha ha!)

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Lynne. I’m delighted you enjoy my blog. I’ve always tried to serve food on a nicely laid table, it makes all the difference to the eating experience, even if it’s just bread, cheesed and an apple. I’m glad, too, you like the photos with which I illustrate the posts. I’ve been a lover of style magazines all my life and I therefore try to make each post as entertaining to read, visually, as a magazine.

  13. Welcome back, Margaret. You have been missed.

  14. Wonderful to have you back ! I missed your posts and reading through all of the comments.
    I have some catch up reading to do 🙂
    Thank you for including so many photos.
    ps I’m sure many of us wish we were 5’10” and slender but alas …..

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lara, and it’s good to be back, so to speak. Yes, there’s some catch-up reading to do, with lots of comments from readers, all of which I find interesting. It’s a lovely morning here in Devon, the sun is still shining, three days on the trot is unusual for the UK!

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