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Saturday to Tuesday

Not a very inspired title to this post, I’m afraid, so let’s hope the content is an improvement!

First of all, a map of much of Torquay (one of the three towns which make up the Borough of Torbay, along with Paignton and Brixham) to help those not familiar with this area see just how much shoreline we have.

On Saturday morning we called in at Waitrose on our way to the Headland Hotel.  Husband and I both thought we’d like to go over there at much the same time – believe me, the times when we think the same things, or are about to say the same things, are more than uncanny.  But after being together since 1962 perhaps this isn’t so unusual.  In Waitrose we bought chocolates for our elder son’s birthday on Sunday (we gave him wine as well, plus money for new golf shoes and towards a mini-break for them in Cornwall later this month), a few groceries and our free newspaper, and then we drove on to the Headland Hotel.

By now it was after 11 o’clock and this hotel doesn’t serve breakfast food after 11 o’clock and doesn’t start serving lunch dishes until after midday.  Therefore there is a one-hour gap when you aren’t able to purchase food (unlike the sister hotel in Paignton – the Palace – which serves sandwiches all day, but then there is little to no passing trade at the Headland, unlike the Palace Hotel.)

So I asked the barista if she would kindly ask the kitchen staff if they wouldn’t mind toasting us a teacake each which we’d like with jam and a pot of tea for two?  And before long this arrived.  I do think much depends on how you ask people.  I understand why they have this hour free of cooking; they do need some time to clear up after breakfast and prep for lunch.  Anyway, we had lovely toasted teacakes and a pot of tea.  We must bear in mind now to arrive before 11 am or after 12 noon (or go to Avon Mill Garden Centre which offers a delicious menu for brunch at the weekend.)

Unable to find any flowers that appealed to me in Waitrose I suggested to husband that we pop into Tesco (one of their smaller convenience stores, not a large supermarket) on the way home, and I was glad I had because I found a gorgeous bunch of autumn-coloured flowers:  chrysanthemums, gerberas and a single rose.  I don’t usually buy mixed floral bunches, but his one was so fresh and the colours so perfect for autumn I decided to buy it.

I don’t know why, but all my cameras have struggled with the colour red, and this photo is no exception. The colours are much more russet than bright red, I’d not have bought flowers that screamed brilliant red as these appear to do.


My plan was to break the flowers down into sprigs and put them in the copper lustre jugs on the mantelpiece, but when I saw them in this glass jug (in which I put them so they could have a good drink)  I thought no, I would keep them as they are.  However, yesterday, while husband had a hospital appointment (I left him at the hospital as parking there is nigh on impossible at 3 pm in the afternoon) and I drove the short distance to Lidl, where he said he’d find our car/me in the car park afterwards. I looked at Lidl’s flowers and bought just one bunch of salmon pink roses, just £1.89 for eleven blooms. Now that is a bargain to me.  And so I have put these in two copper lustre jugs, with a little extra greenery.

For much of the weekend both husband and I were glued to the TV coverage of the Ryder Cup and I’m delighted that the European team won.

Not only that, Sergio Garcia (far left) has now scored the most points in Ryder cup competitions.  Next to him above (left to right) are Ian Poulter, Tommy Fleetwood (who won 4 out of his five games) and Justin Rose.

Their (non playing) Captain, Thomas Bjorn receiving the trophy from the French Sports’ Minister, with N. Ireland’s Rory McIlroy looking on.

A very happy winning team, just after the prize giving

(photos from the TV)

And now to a few other hings  …

Today, there is an article in the paper which states that pigeons are more intelligent than dogs.  Yes, the humble pigeon is in the A stream while our pooches need some extra coaching.  You’d not have thought this if you’d seen a pigeon’s nest that collapsed onto our lawn a couple of years ago.  It was a pathetic construction, twigs all higgledy piggledy, it wouldn’t have held a sparrow let alone a family of pigeons.  I know they only have their beaks to build with, but other birds somehow construct nests of a much better quality, conforming to bird nest-building standards.   But then, when you think of it, homing pigeons must be quite clever to find their way home, often released hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.  And, of course, pigeons were used as ‘carrier’ pigeons in the two world wars.

Right now we have a pigeon who is eating the berries on the pyracantha which grows at the side of  our house.  It is very prickly, so he must take great care how he lands on it!

I have booked for us to see the film The Wife (starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce) at Dartington’s Barn Cinema on Friday afternoon. Oh, I love a matinee at this little cinema.  I’ve heard great things of this film and even that Ms Close might, at long last, be in line for an Oscar for her performance.  The film is from the book …

… which I’ve photographed on its side, to make reading the title and author more easy.  I’m trying to read it before we see the film but somehow I’m not really enjoying it, although the clips I’ve seen from the film are more enticing.  So I’m debating whether to stop reading and just enjoy the film.

Last night I started reading the second of the two books I bought a week or so ago, thrillers set in Venice.  I loved the first one and am now enjoying the second one. Each story features a young honorary consul (and his bad-tempered cat!) who somehow manage to get involved in crimes … the first story was about art theft and it also had a good smattering of music and food in it as well as descriptions of art. You could say it was right up my calle.

And now to food …

Today I made French Onion soup for our lunch, but I didn’t take any photos (too busy making it and eating it!)  I made croutons from toasted baguette with Gruyere cheese melted on top (the photo below was taken at least a year or so ago, but it looked much the same today.)

I also made an apple pie. Not made one for years – yes, lots of baked apples, apple crumble, and toffee apple cake, but not an apple pie. It was very tasty and I made custard to go with it.

Mind you, there was a complaint … husband said he preferred thicker pastry!  Most people say they want crisp, thin pastry (which this was) but no, Sir wants thicker, softer pastry. So I’ve promised I will make another pie and make softer, thicker pastry just for him!  But believe me, it was good even though I say so myself (you can see the custard was hot, it’s steaming in the glass jug.)

And finally, the walnuts are still falling from the tree and husband is still collecting them and we’re drying them on the windowsill in the sitting room.  As soon as they are sufficiently dry, they will be transferred to a large wicker basket so at least they will look more presentable than on newsprint.

And the small pink cyclamen plants I bought a week or two ago are looking pretty:

And now to make supper. Not sure what yet, but I will go to the fridge and seek inspiration! I sort-of envy those well-oranized people who meal-plan for the week.  I sometimes did this when we had our sons at home, but now we tend to eat what we feel like eating on the day.  It works for us.

Until next time.


About Margaret

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. Flowers in Waitrose were not good on Saturday I’m afraid. I often get flowers in Lidl and I find they last just as long and they usually have a very good selection. I tried to find the golf on Saturday – I hadn’t realised it was on Sky which we don’t have. I love French Onion Soup but I’m the only one who likes it here so it doesn’t get made sadly. Aren’t husbands contrary – I expect if you had made thicker pastry he would have wanted thinner pastry!!
    I’m a meal planner – as a working mother I find it easier as I can shop for what I need and then I know where I am for the rest of the week.

    • Margaret Powling

      I guess I’m simply being lazy, not planning, but we tend to eat up what I have made, if over a couple of days, or I make sufficient to freeze another portion-for-two. Of course, some things freeze more successfully than others. Fish pie is fine, as is cottage pie, but I’ve found that pasta bakes don’t freeze well, nor cauliflower or leek cheese, so if I’m making more than a two-person portion, then I make two dishes of that and we have it the next day, re-heated. Fortunately we both like the same things with the exception of a home-made tomato sauce on pasta, but even then husband will eat it. As a war baby he’s grateful to have food put in front of him and there is nothing he won’t eat. I’m very lucky on that score. But make some French Onion soup just for yourself, that will freeze nicely, you could make sufficient for about three or four portions and then you can have some soup you like.

  2. Nice flowers. I had a chuckle when I saw your French Onion soup photos. I used your recipe last year, when I was sick with a virus in winter. I craved that darned soup!!! I made it fresh nearly every day. Turns out that white vegetables are for immunity. Must buy some more white onions.

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, that’s so funny, Ratnamurti, that you craved the soup every day when you weren’t well! I believe onions are very good for us, they are good for the blood I read somewhere. But we love French Onion soup. The awful part is chopping all the onions but I’ve got this to a fine art, and when I wear my reading glasses (I tend not to wear glasses around the house, I don’t really need my distance glasses then, only when watching TV) that helps prevent some of the acid vapour from reaching my eyes, and I breath through my mouth so that it doesn’t go up my nose either. But by the time I’m on the last onion, my eyes are still streaming. But worth it for the delicious soup. And Gruyere makes the best cheese croutons, far better than Cheddar in my opinion.

  3. It definitely DOES depend on how you ask people, Margaret. if people are treated pleasantly, they usually respond in a similar way.
    The food looks delicious (as always). I love your French onion soup with Gruyere and have made it a few times. good to hear that it’s good for viruses (Ratnamurti’s comment)! I also made your minted pea soup recently. Husband isn’t keen on that one so I freeze several portions at a time.
    I am so envious of that wonderful haul of walnuts!
    What a vivid colour the pyracantha is . We used to have one but not that bright. It fell victim to a very icy winter (2010 I think).

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, treating people with respect and being pleasant is always my first course of action, Eloise. This is how I would like to be treated myself and it usually works, as it did on Saturday. I didn’t want to put the kitchen staff to a lot of work, I didn’t ask for sandwiches to be prepared or eggs Benedict or anything like that, just a couple of toasted tea cakes, and they obliged. We were all happy: the hotel had happy customers who will return and we had something to munch on with our put of tea.
      Isn’t it wonderful, that such a simple meal as French Onion soup, which is both easy to make, has only two main ingredients – onions and stock – and is so nourishing, has been tried by readers of mine around the world (well one or two, ha ha!) and has been enjoyed, I can now say, world wide! I’m not as keen on the parsnip and ginger soup I’ve made, although there’s nothing wrong with it, or the carrot and coriander, ditto. I will soon make a rib-sticking minestrone, which husband here really loves, or another favourite, pestou soup.
      We planted the pyracantha shortly after we moved here, so it’s been there for almost 33 years. The birds love it, but this was the first time I’ve seen Pigeon on it.
      The pyracantha is called Orange Glow.

  4. Well, that was an inspired picture for your post! I love French onion soup! Whenever I go to Panera (do you have Panera?) – I always have a Pick Two and one of my two is French onion soup (along with a salad of sandwich of some sort). I will be interested to hear how you find “The Wife” – I have not seen it, but am interested. Your pie looks delicious.

    • Margaret Powling

      I’ve not heard of Panera so perhaps they are not in this country, Jeannine. But yes, I think I might choose French onion soup, one I’ve not had to ‘cry’ over! That is the only downside – chopping onions! Yes, the pie was tasty, but as I say, husband wants thicker pastry next time, so I shall oblige.

  5. Morning Margaret, I suppose with living with someone for a long time, it is easy to think and say the same things I understand totally how you are in tune with each other. As always your flowers are displayed beautifully, I treated myself to a bunch of roses yesterday and they are looking gorgeous. I haven’t had soup for a while but really fancy some so not sure what I shall be making yet, and a pie how lovely, I have some rhubarb in the freezer so instead of a crumble I think I will do a pie for a change. Will you be making a walnut cake? You could always invite the squirrels in for tea.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you for your kind remarks on the roses, Marlene. It helps that they’re in such pretty jugs, I think, they enhance the roses and vice versa. And as the Lidl roses have smaller heads than the Waitrose roses, they benefit by being cut down so they’re not all long stalk and small flower head. Yes, do make some soup. It might take a bit of prepping, but it’s worth it I think. I have some cooked rhubarb in the fridge and I will make crumbles (individual ones) with that later today.
      No, the walnuts aren’t right for cake as they don’t have a very strong flavour, indeed, they taste different from the commercical large walnuts you buy in the shop which have a much stronger flavour, but we eat them as a snack when they have dried out sufficiently. There are still plenty there for the squirrels, we’d not wish to deny them their winter food and Pigeon has been back on the pyracantha again this morning for his breakfast. I’ve had had a thought: such plants rely on animals for their seed dispersal – the birds each them and when they fly somewhere and pooh somewhere, so the seed is dropped and a new plant might emerge. Why then do all the plants with lovely berries – holly, pyracantha, berberis, hawthorne, etc – have such sharp needle-like spikes on them? Poor birds must take great care when landing on them! It’s as if the plants don’t want animals eating their berries!

  6. I do hope you enjoy The Wife. The first time I read it, several years ago, I found it in a secondhand paperback book shop in Florence, and enjoyed it so much it kept coming back into my mind although I couldn’t remember the title. Eventually I typed a description into Google and up came The Wife, so I read it a second time and enjoyed it just as much.
    I do enjoy your blog posts. Living here far away on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, it brings back sweet memories of the England I knew nearly five decades ago.

    • Margaret Powling

      That is so reassuring to know, Sheila, that my blog brings back such lovely memories of the England you knew. I can assure you that even with the rise in population and the changes in some towns and cities, whole areas totally changed such as in Plymouth and Exeter, with their new shopping centres, you would still recognise so much of our country.
      I think I will try reading The Wife again, perhaps after I’ve seen the film. Isn’t it wonderful that you can type in a description of something into Google and then get an answer, as you had, with the title of the book!

      • Hello Margaret, I’m delighted you enjoyed your film at Dartington, didn’t Glen Close give a wonderful performance; and like your husband, mine enjoyed in immensely and found it most thought provoking.
        As my reply will be buried several blog posts in the past I will tell you things, in which I am sure most of your other readers will not be interested. I wholeheartedly agree with your reply saying there are parts of England just as charming as they always were.
        This past August we had a marvelous four week holiday in England, maybe my best holiday ever, visiting places we were convinced would be unspoiled, and would have sustained the character we knew from many years ago. We stayed in North Yorkshire, deep in the Cheshire countryside, in Shropshire, Herefordshire and finally the Cotswolds and now the part which I’m sure will amuse you. The places we chose to stay were selected on the basis of their proximity and ease of access to a Waitrose supermarket. Of all the things we miss, the quality ond variety of foods in the supermarkets, as well as English foods which are difficult to obtain here, come at the top of the list. I am now the proud holder of a ‘my Waitrose card’; sadly we weren’t able to get our free coffee as we didn’t have our own travel mugs and it didn’t seem worthwhile buy ing them just to get ‘free coffee’.

        • Margaret Powling

          Yes, we really enjoyed the Glenn Close film, which surprised me as I had it down (somewhat sexist-ly) as being a ‘woman’s film’. Indeed, I thought Jonathan Pryce gave a sterling performance, too. They were excellent together.
          Whatever you say I’m sure other readers would be interested, Sheila! How lovely to have a four-week holiday, visiting all those counties, and all so different from each other. Oh, how funny … I’d bet a pound to a penny Waitrose would love to hear that your chose your holiday destinations purely on the grounds of their proximity to a Waitrose store!!! That must be a unique way of choosing a holiday destination!!!
          I can’t remember where exactly you live (forgive me) but no, it mightn’t have been worth your while buying mugs for a once-only use! But you have your My Waitrose cards if you visit these shores again! Do write to Waitrose, which now styles itself Waitrose & Partners. I get their free weekly newspaper avaialble in the stores and also their monthly (free to those with a My Waitrose card) magazine, too. I have even mentioned their Thai green curry kit in my post of today, but sadly, it wasn’t for us, didn’t like it. But this is us, we’re not really ‘curry people’. But so glad you enjoyed England. Do come again!
          I have just read your previous comment and see you live in Maryland, but you have memories of England five decades ago. I hope it’s not changed too much (for the worse, I mean!)

  7. It was good of the squirrels to spare you some walnuts this year. It is a beautiful tree that gives you much-needed shade in your garden, walnuts to eat and wonderful colour change of its leaves each year. In Australia we have flying foxes (bats) and many species are important for seed dispersal.

    Your flowers are very pretty and you have a talent for displaying them so beautifully. The pink roses really show off the colour in the lustreware vases.

    I heard mention of the Ryder Cup on the news and was excited that I knew what it was thanks to your previous post ha ha. I’ve read good reviews of ‘The Wife’ and the trailer looks good. Glenn Close is a wonderful actor and I’ll always associate er with the terrifying scenes of the movie she did with Michael Douglas in the late 80s (?)…. oh I’m having a seniors moment where I can’t remember the name …. they have an affair and she stalks him… no doubt it will come to me the minute after I post this comment 😀

    Your apple pie looks delicious. As does the custard. Gluten free cooking has its challenges when making anything with pastry or dough as it is very sticky – sticking to your fingers, benchtop, utensils, etc like some horrible goo from outer space. So I tend to make gluten free apple crumble (in individual ramekins) as it is easy. I love homemade desserts. Anything made with love tastes good !

    Well it’s nearly 8am, cat and I are still in bed, my tea is barely lukewarm and I’d better get a wriggle on. She is going to be most annoyed, no doubt, as she is sprawled across me. Some cats and dogs really have wonderful lives, don’t they ?

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lara, we sometimes have bats flitting about at night, too. I wish they would slow down a bit so we could see them! We just see the flash across the window in the sitting room and they’re gone before we can see anything.
      Yes, the small bunch of roses has really enhanced the look of the copper lustre jugs, I think they look rather nice like that for autumn.
      I don’t think I ever watched Fatal Attraction, I remember scenes from it but it could be that I was remembering clips from the film shown on programmes about films.
      Apple crumble is just a nice as apple pie, I think, Lara, so I’d stick (no pun intended after your description of the goo!) to that!
      Yes, some cats and dogs have wonderful lives, they really rule the roost!

  8. ‘Fatal Attraction’. Thank goodness for Google !

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