Home / articles / A Sunday Excursion

A Sunday Excursion

One of life’s little luxuries is breakfast in bed.  Well, it is for me. And I love it when it’s a sunny Sunday morning, and I have a warm croissant with apricot jam.  This morning I even added a small bowl of black cherry yogurt and some raspberries.  With a cup of coffee, my new book and new magazine, it felt truly luxurious. You can keep your swanky yachts and gas-guzzling cars, private jets and so forth. Give me a warm croissant and a lovely magazine and I’m happy (husband made himself porridge as he doesn’t care for croissants.)

After we were up, showered and dressed we decided to drive to the newly-opened Lidl, which isn’t far from where we live.  We were almost out of coffee and I’d just used the last of the apricot jam, two products that I do buy in Lidl.  We have tried more expensive brands for both these items but we like those from Lidl the best (just for these two items, I mean.)

There is a lot of building going on along the road to Lidl.  The factory where my husband was a senior engineer (they produced tantalum capacitors) has now been completely demolished.  Strange to think that, built in the 1950s, it once employed over 5,000 people and now there’s nothing to show where it even was.  It was first named Standard Telephones and Cables, then it became ITT, then back to STC (Standard Telephones …) and later AVX (no names for the letters, just AVX) and that was eventually taken over by a Japanese company, Kyocera.  Instead, there are large new housing estates,  and also South Devon College, an off-shoot of University of Plymouth.  So as well as going to the new Lidl, we had a look around some of the roads but by no means all of them; it’s a rabbit warren of new housing and industrial buildings.

Not a good photo as the sun was very bright, but here you can see a new apartment block going up (at least we think this is what it is!) and then the new Lidl.

I have no idea why, but this new supermarket is very high inside.  Is there a reason for this, I wonder?  If so, what?  Maybe it’s because there are so many fridges which are really heat exchangers, and as hot air rises, having a high building allows the hot air to go upwards and keeps the shop floor area more cool?  But this is only a guess, I really see no need to have a building like a an aircraft hanger just to sell groceries.

It is still very much a no-frills store, things piled up high, very often in their cardboard boxes.  Yes, prices are good, but when I was listening to an item on the News on TV this week, large supermarkets are no longer being built as people’s shopping habits have changed; they prefer smaller convenience stores.  But Aldi and Lidl continue to expand their empire, and if this store is anything to go by, it’s certainly no small convenience store.

But did we enjoy being in there? Sadly, no.  But it’s closer to home than the Torquay store, and if we only want a few cleaning products, coffee and jam, then we might go there again.  However, the Torquay store is en route to Waitrose.  That sounds much more ‘convenient’ to me, ha ha!

After emerging from this aircraft hanger, sorry, supermarket, we decided to have a drive around some of the roads we’d never even seen before.  All this, until a few years ago, was simply fields with, tucked in somewhere – although we’ve no idea where now, as all the datum points we knew have disappeared – a small garden centre.

These are all town houses, and quite frankly, I can’t see anything to recommend their architecture.  Indeed,those immediately above do not look as if they even have any garages unless there is access to those at the rear of the premises.  But perhaps, as people now tend to fill their garages with all kinds of things other than cars, they have been deemed unnecessary?

And here, a large (we think) new block of flats/apartments, next to the new Lidl.

From here, we went round a few roads and roundabouts and eventually found ourselves in a country lane which we didn’t recognise …

… and it became narrower and narrower …

But eventually, after a mile or two, we emerged onto the road from the village of Stoke Gabriel to Paignton, and knew where we were (we don’t have Sat Nav in our car, we are old fashioned and use maps when necessary. Before long, people will have lost the ability to read maps if they don’t use them and rely solely on Sat Nav.)  And from here we drove home, and I made us a quick lunch of tomato sandwiches. We love tomato sandwiches with a sprinkling of sea salt.  I will cook roast chicken for our supper this evening.

I must say, a lot of the town houses we saw being built, or which have been built recently, are looking rather ugly.  Yes, they have to be economically viable for builders to put them up, but do they have to look so plain?  Also, after more than a thousand years of building in this country since the Norman Conquest, I’d have thought by now that present-day builders could construct buildings that don’t look as if they require re-painting almost as soon as they have been built.

On that note I will close.

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.

Check Also

A Monday Meander

To have done fewer things today than I have done would be difficult, bar stopping …


  1. There is certainly a fashion for functional looking houses rather than pretty ones. They tend to look rather factory unit like. It must be unusual for you to find a road that you don’t know after living in the area for so long!
    The building in which I used to work for the Electricity board in Worcester was demolished to build a Waitrose.

    • Margaret

      The lane must be one we’ve used in the past as it’s so close to where the factory was where husband worked, but as I say, everything has changed, new roads laid, housing estates built, and row upon row of these almost-industrial looking town houses. Practical maybe, but I do wonder what they will look like in ten years’ time when the building programme has perhaps ended, and some of the houses have changed hands … some properties having been kept looking nice while others will have gone to seed, so to speak. Already the paint on the stucco-style fronts of these houses is looking shabby and they’ve only just been built. There is a block of flats close to Waitrose, only a few years old, and water marks are down the walls because guttering doesn’t appear to have been used correctly. In our very wet climate (which it is much of the time) having proper water disposal on buildings is one of the first essentials I’d have thought, but this one has rust marks where nails or whatever have been used, and water marks (now black) on the walls, too. It looks like a flat-roof building, too. That’s fine in a hot climate but not in our wet climate – I’d have thought architects and builders would’ve given up on flat roofs by now! They are a recipe for damp disaster.

  2. Two posts arrived together this morning!!! I’ve not explored to new Lidl yet – the car park queue was tremendous on Thursday when it opened. And yes, your are quite right – those new houses are ugly. I loathe that road from Torquay to Teignmouth – I do drive it when necessary but usually try and combine trips to Teignmouth with a trip to Jack’s Patch so I go via Newton Abbot. Let’s hope the gremlins in your blog go away soon. Fiona x

    • Should read you’re not your!

    • Margaret

      I see you’ve come up at Kathryn Hemstead again, Fiona. Oh dear!
      I don’t mind driving that road, I know it’s twisty, but just take it slowly. But the Brixham Road is a nightmare with all those road improvements, digging out huge areas of soil to widen the road near Sainbsbury’s. We can hardly recognise the road these days it’s so different from when we drove along there every day, taking my husband to work.

  3. We sometimes use a recently built Lidl but it has a bit of “style” we were quite surprised to find it was more open and airy than many plus toilet facilities. Nearby a vast production line estate of houses is appearing. The houses go up very quickly with timber frames, insulation boards and brick shells. No gaps for people to glimpse a view or a tree, tiny gardens. Quite a shock to see. Margaret, you must have been quite pleased to find Stoke Gabriel after seeing so many changes elsewhere!

    • Margaret

      Yes, our new Lidl also has toilet facilities, which is an improvement on the others we have visited, Heather. And yes, you could call them ‘vast production lines’ of houses, I call them the slums of the future. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but as people become plysically larger, and their cars are larger, and they have more items in their homes than ever before, everyone his or her own TV, iPad, sports’ equipment, etc, the houses do seem to be correspondingly shrinking! We’ve not actually watched any being built, but I have to say they look somewhat flimsy. Of course, we have built timber-frame houses since almost the beginning of time but today’s just seem particularly flimsy compared with in Elizabethan times. People should not be herded into tiny boxes with little green space. The problem, too, is that some outside space is so tiny it’s not worth making the area a lawn. About a dozen years ago, old council houses were pulled down nearby and new ones were put up in their place, and in front was a tiny grass verge. Now the people renting these properties were perhaps the poorest, and so a lawn mower to mow five feet by 3 feet of grass would obviously be a low priority. A consequence is that each little patch has become either covered in weeds and tall grass, or people have attempted to cover it with whatever they could lay their hands in – old paving slabs, gravel etc. Furthermore, there is nowhere for the bins to be placed, so they ‘live’ at the front of each property. That’s a large black wheelie bin for the rubbish, a small bin for food waste, and two recycling boxes … all these for each house. Surely, architects should by now be factoring in where the bins are kept? As for Stoke Gabriel, we didn’t actually go into the village, Heather, only the lane through which had been travelling ended up on the road from Stoke Gabriel to Paignton.

  4. I am not a breakfast in bed person, but I am a snack and watch TV in the evening while in bed person!

    • Margaret

      We used to have a TV in our bedroom, and we used to enjoy watching TV in bed, Jeannine, but since we re-decorated three years ago, we’ve not had a TV in there: it’s an electrical-free zone, we don’t even have our mobiles by our beds now. This is to make sure that we are doing all we can to have good sleep, although this doesn’t necessarily follow! As we have aged we wake up several times a night, but I do think that by having fewer gadgets we have in our bedrooms we are, at least, doing all we can to aid good sleep. And of course, we don’t have breakfast at the crack of dawn! It can vary between 10 am and 11.30 am!

  5. Mrs Powling, have you ever shopped at Sainsbury’s or Tesco’s? I do know that Waitrose is your favourite 😄

    • Margaret

      Yes, we have tried all the various supermarkets, and indeed when the large out-of-town supermarkets first came to our area in the early 1980s, it was Tesco that I shopped it. They had no competition in those days it was either Tesco or individual shops as it used to be in the 1950s and 1960s. Then other supermarkets opened, such as Sainsbury’s, and we used to go there for years, and it was much closer to home. We liked it, preferring it to Tesco, not just on prices but on the actual products it offered. When Waitrose took over various Co-op stores in Devon, the one we visit being one of them, we thought we’d just go for a look-see as we’d been in a Waitrose in Kent many years ago, and liked it, and once we’d been there we were hooked. It was so different – open, bright, lack of noise (no musak blaring out, even the tills didn’t beep quite so loudly), very polite and helpful staff, indeed it had everything going for it. Yes, sometimes the prices are higher than in say Tesco or Asda, but the upside is that we really like the store, and the items on sale. We have also tried the discount store, Aldi, but wasn’t keen on that one. It’s not really to do with the produce in any of the stores, but the ambience of the store. The only downside of ‘our’ Waitrose is that it was a small Co-op store and therefore doesn’t have toilet facilities or a cafe, but there is a public loo not that far away. Put it this way; we feel at home in Waitrose, if that doesn’t sound too silly. It’s a store that makes shopping for food more a pleasure than a chore. We couldn’t wait to get out of our local Morrisons when we were last there – it’s too large, the aisles are too narrow, the goods stacked too high, the people as well as the tills too noisy, and musak blares out. Compared with most of the supermarkets, Waitrose is a calm oasis. And believe me, they don’t pay me to say so! This is simply how I feel about it.

  6. I know what you mean about finding a store which feels ‘comfortable’. I do go to other places but Tesco is my comfortable option. It’s a large branch – a Tesco Extra, but it’s where I feel most at home. I’m sure if we had a local Waitrose that I’d be found in their quite often!

    • Margaret

      The problem with Waitrose is that it’s almost too nice! We like their foods, we like the layout of the store and it’s not too large, certainly not like a great warehouse. I think it’s lovely when each of us finds a store that we are most comfortable in, and Waitrose is our kind of store.

  7. I also get quite forlorn when I visit a once-familiar area that is being ‘developed’ to produce masses of boring new houses or units when once it may have been an older building or large farm or similar. The only constant in life is change, I suppose ….. but I’m with you – why does it all have to be so bland ? Australian builders went thru a phase of cement rendering EVERYTHING for about 20 years – smooth concrete applied over all external brick surfaces then painted a monochromatic look. New housing estates were filled with these huge houses which spread from one side of the block to the other and left teeny weeny outdoor areas. Crazy in our climate. But as you said, much of it is about maximising profit.

    I agree with yours and Eloise’s comments about supermarket ambience – I’m over sensitive to noise, light, odour and warm temperatures. Shops which have loud music, bright lighting or strong perfumes – or worse, all three – can make me feel quite exhausted and ill. Larger supermarkets are like torture for me. I’ve been told that some supermarket stores now have set days/times where there is no music, designed for those with children on the spectrum. Unfortunately there aren’t any in my area as I’d happily give them my custom.

    • Margaret

      Yes, that rendering over modern homes can look very land, Lara. Even so, it’s perhaps a better choice in your country than here, a very wet country, where unless there are good downspouts and drainpipes and so forth, the walls receive rainwater directly and before long, water stains the walls. And here we in the UK were thinking that as Australia is such a huge country, that you’d have houses built with plenty of outdoor space, but as you say, this isn’t the case; made in a country with such a climate as yours.
      You would be fine in Waitrose, Lara, I’m sure. It has good lighting, but not bright lighting; there is no particular smell that I’ve discerned, and there is little noise, even at busy times such as Christmas. I hate being in some supermarkets, those that I feel a sense of relief when I leave! With Waitrose, it’s a pleasure to be there; I even look forward to going shopping, it’s not a chore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *