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A Swift Change of Plans

Another day, another harbour.  This is Brixham harbour, Brixham being one of the three towns which make up the Borough or Torbay.  This is where we went yesterday but we left it too late (12.30 pm) and were unable to park.

I expect, had we wandered around for long enough, we’d have found a car park with a space, but everywhere was so crowded – what did we expect at lunchtime in this small fishing community on a summer’s day?  We had planned to have crab sandwiches by the harbour as we have done in previous years …

Sitting at one of these tables, our view of the harbour would have been this …

But it wasn’t to be.  Never mind, we can go another day, but we will have to go very early in the morning to enable us to park the car.  The alternatives are to go by ferry from either Torquay or Paignton, or to take the bus (but even the bus can be snarled up in traffic tail backs, as there is only one road in and one road out of Brixham, but at least with the bus you don’t have to worry about finding a parking space.)

Never mind, we decided to have our lunch in our favourite hotel on Paignton sea front.  And we can park there, too!

Had it not been windy (which it was) we might’ve taken a seat under these awnings, but instead we had our lunch in the conservatory.  We chose cod and chips, nice and simple, with mushy peas, but the female waiter (a dear lady from Romania) returned to our table and said there was only one cod and chips left, but there was a sea bream on the ‘Today’s Specials’ menu, so husband had that.  I even gave him some of my battered cod so he’d not felt hard-done-by; sea bream is lovely,  but when you want fish and chips, you want your fish in a lovely crispy batter!

Chris’s sea bream is the top photo, my battered cod is the bottom photo, and it was delicious.  Chips here (and in other establishments) are now often served in little wire baskets, miniature versions of the old chip basket which goes into deep fat or oil to fry chips. I see little point to things like this, and tipped them out onto my plate.  The virulent green stuff is mushy peas and actually these taste far better than they look.  To drink husband always has lager & lime (you can take the man out of the 1960s but you can’t take the 1960s out of the man!) and I have half a pint of bitter beer (Tetley’s) and very good it is, it is always the right cool temperature (but not icy) and with a lovely creamy head on it.  The perfect (half) pint.

We then went home and rested for part of the afternoon (husband did gardening much later in the day).   Husband fell asleep on one of the sofas, and I decided to rest on the bed and read, but first making myself a cup of coffee.  I nodded off for a while, too.

Oh dear, I’ve been found out! A chocolate macaroon after fish and chips!  In mitigation, we didn’t indulge in a dessert! (And the glass contains water. Really.)

I have just finished reading the 4th in the crime series by Alison Bruce, and yesterday morning the last two in the series-of-seven arrived.


And here is the full set. I am now reading The Backs, with The Promise and Cambridge Black still to go.  I shall miss the main characters in these books once I’ve finished the series, and I do hope Alison Bruce considers writing more about DC Gary Goodhew, PC Sue Gully and DI Marks, and all at Parkside Police Station overlooking Parker’s Piece in Cambridge.

As to the weather, it is decidedly cooler. Not cold, but much more like an English summer, a few clouds in the sky, a slight breeze, and when I woke up I felt the need to pop on my dressing gown before I made coffee.   Not sure what we are doing for the rest of the day, but wherever you are, may you have a good 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 agree, if you have fish and chips, the fish needs to be battered, and I also like the chips fried. Hey, New Zealand in the 1960s produced a whole generation who were reared on fish and chips. Comfort food at its best. I feel cheated if I have “designer” chips: chunky and dry….

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Fish and chips, the fish in batter, is lovely if you don’t indulge too often. And we live by the sea and the fish at the fish restaurant in Babbacombe is lovely and fresh. Yes, comfort food at its best.

  2. Yum, yum, yummier!!!! That’s all I can say to fish and chips! I grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia and fish and chips means SUMMER to me. Lots of vinegar makes it divine! Here in the US they serve ketchup with fish and chips unless you ask for vinegar and then they ask if you want balsamic or some of the vinegars they use for salads. I always tell them MALT please.

    Watched Penelope Keith’s coastal villages of Britain last night and I was hoping she was going to show Devon but she showcased Isle of Wight and a few others. Lovely show. Don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure to view them.

    You have a wonderful remaining week.


    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lucy. Yes, only Sarson’s Malt Vinegar is good enough for traditional fish and chips! Fancy asking if you want balsamic, ha ha, that’s a hoot! As for ketchup on chips, no way! Ketchup is fine, in it’s place, but not on lovely English chips (and they are not like French fries, they are sturdy chips not little bits of nothingness!)
      Missed Penelope Keith’s programme – I wonder if it’s one we had already seen as they are often repeated. Have a good weekend, too, Lucy.

    • Getting mugged by Seagulls at Lumberman’s Arch in Stanley Park was a yearly ritual, lol.

      Some of the biggest seagulls I’ve seen.

      But Ivar’s Acres of Clams in Seattle was always good for a treat!

      • Margaret Powling
        Margaret Powling

        Oh, seagulls! I like them, but they can be vicious birds if they are in pursuit of food! But we humans are at fault, for leaving our food rubbish around which entices them inland. There are notices along our seafronts, especially outside cafes and so forth, not to feed the gulls, but holidaymakers think it’s fun to feed them chips and then complain when they are mugged by these large birds.

        • The flying sea rats of Stanley Park will swoop down and steal from your hand!

          They are so successful they are massive!

          • Margaret Powling
            Margaret Powling

            I’ve never heard them called sea rats before, Linda! A very descriptive name! Yes, they grab food from your hand, and are dangerous, especially where little ones are concerned, eating ice creams, and old chaps with bald heads, that they peck at. (Maybe they think the shiny dome of a bald head is something good to eat?) WE have notices up everywhere about not feeding the gulls, but people are stupid and continue to do so. Also, only partially empty takeaway food cartons which overflow from bins encourage the birds inland, too.

  3. Busy Brixham! Nice photos. We can’t get into our local coast towns in Dorset at the moment, too much of a battle with the crowds. Sometimes we go down later in the evening when the crowds have dispersed and buy some fish and chips from one of the stalls, some are good, some not so good. I like mayonnaise with mine or tartare sauce and I prefer plaice, no mushy peas. We’ve all got our favourite ways with them I think? Glad you found a more peaceful spot at the hotel Margaret. Those baskets annoy me, I tip them out too. Tonight, we’re having fish and chips from our local chippie, not quite as fresh as the seaside version.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      It seems a lot of my readers enjoy fish and chips, Heather, and I expect we all have our favourite things to have with them – vinegar I love, but I also enjoy some tartare sauce if there is fish and it’s plated in a restaurant and not just eaten out of the box on Babbacombe Downs. Another person annoyed with those silly baskets, but quite honestly, it doesn’t take much to annoy me these days! Square and oblong plates too, are annoying. I am never able to rest the knife and fork down easily without them falling off and onto the floor or, worse, my lap. Before the wire baskets, the hotel used to stack chips in block formation, equally silly, a bit like the game of Jenga (is that the right name for it?)

  4. You need to be in Brixham before 1030am to park easily. We always eat at Claws Outdoors near Middle Quay – it does amazing seafood platters. You’re welcome to use my driveway to park if you would like. It’s a down hill walk to the town or you could catch the little bus that runs from the end of the road.
    I love playing Jenga but stacking chips like that is daft. I can remember Husband ordering a meal with chips once and it arrived complete with one of those silly baskets empty as they’d forgotten to put the chips in it!!!

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, how funny is that, Fiona … the little basket arriving empty, ha ha! Just shows how silly they are!
      Thank you for the offer of your drive way to park our car, that is really kind of you. We used to park at the end of North Boundary Road before the entrance to the gardens, but the walk back up the hill is now too much for my husband (and if I’m honest, for myself), so if there is a long hill to climb back to our car from your house, I would have to say no thank you, but you never know, one day we might pluck up the courage for the climb again! I’m not sure which is Claws Outdoors, we’ve always been to the one which is close to the statue of King Billy, but there is one just along from the old fish market, with tables and chairs outside and lots of lovely flowers. We will try again, I hope, before summer’s out.

      • It is a climb up to our house but there is a liittle bus that stops at the end of our close and which you can catch from the statue. Claws Outdoors is next to Middle Quay near the Fishmarket. They do wonderful sea food platters, prawn cocktails and their smoked sandwiches are lovely.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          I will remember your kind offer, Fiona, should we wish to use the little bus, too. And I will look out for Claws Outdoors, it sounds great! Crab sandwiches are what we like best as we have small appetites and sometimes we share these, sometimes have a round each; I think a seafood platter, lovely though it would be, would be too much for us to eat (of course, we could always share one.)

  5. I have the first book in the series on hold at the library – need to finish what I’m reading, before I start. You keep mentioning them, which makes me anxious to start! I made the hold start at the end of this month, so I could catch up on what I’m currently reading. Your lunch looks very tasty! You certainly do live in a very beautiful area.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I am now enjoying the 5th book in the series, Jeannine, and have enjoyed every one of the books thus far, the quality of writing hasn’t dropped, nor the intricacy of the stories. Yes, lunch was lovely, and without a doubt, our area is beautiful, and what is more, the three towns which are relatively close together, Brixham, Paignton and Torquay, each have a totally different look and character.

  6. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    What a shame you couldn’t park in Brixham – it must be infuriating for locals when holidaymakers take up all the parking spots – but I’m afraid you will all have to take a little of the blame for living in such a beautiful place! You know, of course, how much we love Brixham but I think early July is an ideal for us to come as we (certainly this year) get summer weather but without the excessive number of people.
    I wonder how on earth somewhere runs out of battered fish! What a disappointment. When you want it, you want it! Both meals look very good, however. I’d never think of mushy peas with anything other than fish & chips…and yes, they do taste better than they look. Vinegar is a must (and although I enjoy balsamic, it has to be malt in this case), but no tartare sauce for me.
    I know what you mean about missing characters when finishing books. I feel just the same about JK Rowling’s Strike books. The fourth in the series is out on 18th September and I’m really looking forward to it.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Yes, “battered cod is orf!” Seems strange when we live in a seaside resort and so many fancy fish and chips for lunch, even in an hotel. Never mind, I had the lion’s share for once and husband had lovely sea bream, which he said was very good – only we prefer battered fish with chips. And yes, only malt vinegar with the chips, and mushy peas only go with fish and chips although I have had them with corned beef hash (something else we enjoy occasionally.)
      I’ve not read the Strike books, only seen the TV series, which husband and I both enjoyed.
      Yes, Brixham … so lovely it becomes overcrowded. We should’ve learned our lesson by now, and only go before the schools break up for the summer holidays.

  7. Lovely photos!
    Fish, chips & mushy peas – one of my favourite meals – plenty of malt vinegar. Has to be with proper soaked peas though, none of the tinned immitations. My husband ruins his with the addition of tomato ketchup – just wrong! !
    I have to admit I still make home made chips in a chip pan with a basket, cooked in beef dripping. Very nice but very fattening.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh dear, ketchup would ruin fish and chips and mushy peas, wouldn’t it, Mrs Hughes! My mother used to make chips as you do, they are wonderful with beef dripping, in a proper wire basket in a chip pan!

  8. I’ve been enjoying homemade sweet potato chips lately. Sweet potato (the orange type) is cheap in Australia and readily available. I leave it unpeeled, chopping it roughly into chip-size (thick or thin) and roast in the oven with a little olive oil and rock salt. Oh my goodness they are yummy !

    Fish and chips aren’t my thing. I suffer with indigestion afterwards. I’ve learnt the hard way. A very popular dish in Australia although I have no idea what type of fish is generally used. I doubt it’s cod, being Southern Hemisphere. Even more popular in seaside holiday towns, as I’m sure is the case in the U.K. 🙂

    Husband and I went out for breakfast recently at a lovely cafe (a treat) and were warned by the wait staff to watch out for the patrolling birds. He was halfway through his delicious avocado on toast with grilled haloumi (as a side) when a lightning quick kookaburra stole a piece of haloumi from his fork ! The bird took it into a nearby tree and proceeded to bash the haloumi cheese to death against the branch. We laughed so much the waitress came out and offered us a replacement. At $AU5.00 for the haloumi the bird had stolen the most expensive bit. Never mind seagulls fighting for your chips at the beach – we have kookaburras with gourmet palates around here 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Oh, Lara, that is so funny regarding the kookaburra bird with the expensive taste in cheese! But I notice he left the avocado, and I would too, as no matter how often I’ve tried to like this, I really don’t care for it at all. I think it’s the texture as much as the taste. Also, I have tried to like sweet potatoes (I’ve had them as chips a few times in our favourite sea front hotel, as a side order) and while I managed to eat a few the first time as they were so different from chips made from potato, after a few I really didn’t like them.
      Yes, we have always indigestion after having fish and chips, but on both recent occasions – once on Babbacombe Downs and the other in the Palace Hotel – we have not had indigestion. Amazing, and we don’t know why! But what a lovely treat for you to go out to breakfast – I do love to go out for breakfast on a nice sunny morning.

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