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Friday in the Park


I really don’t know why we don’t come here more often, it’s such a lovely place and only 20 minutes by car from our home.

I am speaking of Decoy Country Park which is situated  on the edge of the market town of Newton Abbot.  It is thought that Decoy was named after an earlier lake at which ducks were lured into a ‘decoy’ and then caught and killed for food.   In the late 19th century, ball clay was found at Decoy and the area was turned into a quarry.  After the clay had been removed it was taken to Newton Town Quay where it was loaded onto barges. Decoy was both quarried and mined for ball clay from 1850 until 1965. After the quarrying ceased the pit quickly filled with water and the bare clay surrounding much of it slowly became vegetated again.  It is now a SSSI site, or Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Woodland area has a variety of trees including birch, hazel, oak, and holly and in the wetter part of the woodland around the lake, alder, willow, birch, and dogwood can be found.

And so this morning, which was bright and sunny, we decided to go to Decoy Country Park for a walk.  The area immediately around the lake takes only about 20 to 25 minutes as a strolling pace, but it is sufficient for us although there are longer walks to explore and we might try one of these some other time.

The above photo is of an information board at the entrance to the park.  We didn’t stop to buy an ice or have coffee, but followed the blue line (drawn above) of the path around the lake.  There is a play area at the entrance to the park and many families with their little ones were having a lot of fun, it being the start of half term.

The woodland surrounding the lake is lovely, and we really enjoyed being in the almost-spring sunshine again, and we were beginning to feel the warmth of the sun on our backs.


This park is only a stone’s throw from the town of Newton Abbot, indeed some housing estates back onto the park, but how lovely to have this on one’s doorstep.  In the bottom right photo, you can perhaps see some of the swans that, along with ducks, ‘live’ here.

After our stroll we decided to drive to The Linny, a thatched pub in the little village of Coffinswell, a mile or two from Decoy.  Coffinswell is a pretty village with many thatched cottages, but when we got to The Linny, about 11.30am, we found it was closed. There was no indication (or we didn’t see any) of the opening hours, so we could only assume that it was open at around midday for lunches, or just open in the evenings.  I shall have to Google it!

We were sorry it was closed, it’s a lovely old pub full of ancient beams and of course, the thatched roof.  The other two photos are of other thatched properties in the village.

And so we decided to drive to the Headland Hotel, Torquay, which is as the name suggests, right on a headland looking out to sea.

This hotel was originally built as a holiday home for the Romanov family (the Russian royal family.)

This, above, is the view from the terrace, and we sat at the table you can see on the left.  Those aren’t a row of crosses, either, although they do look suspiciously like them!  They are the supports between the glass barrier between the terrace and the public footpath the other side.  You can just see Berry Head across Tor Bay in the distance.

Soon after we arrived a whole lot of others arrived, too. They had obviously attended a funeral as they were all dressed in shades of grey and black, but my goodness, what a lot of people, at a rough guess between 60 and 100.  The place was suddenly crowded but for an avid people-watcher like me, I found it all wonderfully entertaining (but please don’t think I’m being disrespectful; I was sorry that anyone who had so obviously been held in such high esteem had died.)

There were so many there, all shapes and sizes, and in all manner of dress.  It was as if some of them –  and I hope this doesn’t sound unkind – had delved deep into their wardrobes and taken out what they could find that was remotely suitable for a funeral:  anything that was black or grey and with a smattering of white.  And so, for example,  I noticed a black leather mini skirt with black jeggings topped by a grey fleece all draped about by long glittery scarf … well, I suppose it was just suitable as the basic colour was pastel grey.  And, I have to concede, that not everyone can afford to splash out on clothes to attend a funeral, they have to use whatever they have.  One couple stood out as being truly smartly dressed, though.  The young man had a smart charcoal grey suit with white shirt and black tie (knotted correctly … it’s surprising how today few men can knot a tie properly; the top button must be done up and the button must not be showing) and the young woman was wearing a dark charcoal grey pencil slim skirt, a pretty grey top tucked in, black opaque tights and black high heeled shoes (and with a neat hairstyle, no messy dangly bits no matter how fashionable they are.)

Just before the crowd arrived, and while as I was pretending to examine the menu, one late-middle-aged chap strolled out from the conservatory onto the terrace holding a pint or beer.  I hadn’t realized that the black trousers and black shirt he was wearing were because he’d just attended a funeral as the shirt was open almost to the waist to show off his man tan with what looked like a Fort Knox array of gold dangling around his neck.  Then I saw his shoes.  How I kept a straight face, I do not know.  Husband fortunately had gone to the loo otherwise we’d have set each other off.  The shoes, dear readers, were white patent leather winkle pickers, Very 1960s.  I thought at first that he was part of an Elvis tribute band.

We decided we’d better hurry and order something to eat if we wanted to be served this side of the Christmas, so we chose a light bite from the starter menu, duck liver pate with crostini.  It was very nice, but I was so engaged in people-watching, such an enjoyable activity for nosy people like me, that I forgot to take any photos.  So these below I took on a previous occasion:

Here are the bi-fold doors to the conservatory area, which are open to the terrace on hot summer days.

Here, they serve light meals

Here is the view from the side of the hotel.  In the middle distance you can see the lovely Hesketh Crescent, and beyond, on the headland, Kilmorie flats (build 1961)

We then made our way home, via Torquay sea front, passing the clock tower, the harbour and the sea front road (not good photos but I was taking these as husband was driving).

As we had had an overnight frost, I thought it might’ve been a tad chilly around the lake this morning and so, rather than a short jacket, I wore my navy quilted coat, with a cerise cotton polo neck.  I thought I’d show you because several readers have asked to see me in my new(ish) clothes. This was from Crew Clothing (not to be confused with J Crew, an American company) and one thing I like about it is that it has decent-size pockets and so I could pile into them my small purse for some change and my Visa card, my glasses, my mobile and my phone.  I don’t like having to carry any kind of bag, not even a cross-body bag, on a country walk.


I must say, I look grumpy on these shots, but I’m trying to concentrate on getting myself in focus.  As I don’t have a smart phone I have to use my camera and I never know whether to look at the camera or into the mirror; whichever I do, it looks wrong!  Anyway, this is the quilted coat (it’s not down or fleece lined, just quilted, but is quite warm.)

I hope you have also had a pleasant day and that you will have a lovely weekend.  It is now almost 8 pm on Friday evening and at 9 pm will be the 4th episode of the 6-part series of Grantchester.  I’m looking forward to that.

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. What a great set of photos today, Margaret. I especially like the Decoy ones – they look almost autumnal!
    You have mentioned the Headland hotel previously and I think it’s somewhere we’ll visit when next in the area as it has such lovely views.
    I was at a funeral today. We had been asked to wear something bright so I chose lime green accessories with a black coat.

    • Margaret

      It was rather misty at Decoy as it was quite early in the day and we’d had overnight frost, but I liked the rather autumnal look to the photos, Eloise. The Headland is where our elder son married our daughter in law a couple of years’ ago, and it’s a lovely place for a light lunch. Oh, how coincidental that you attended a funeral today, but I like the idea of bright clothes to a funeral, it’s a more a celebration of someone’s life then, I think.

  2. I like to people watch as well, Margaret. Sounds like you had an interesting cast of characters to observe. I do especially like your navy quilted coat, but then I would as blue is my favorite color! I think navy is very becoming with the color of your hair, which is quite nice, by the way.

    • Margaret

      Thank you for the kind comments, Jeannine, regarding both my hair and my coat. Indeed, I feel I can wear almost any colour now as long as it’s not brown or camel. I gave away a brown jumper and a brownish jacket which I really liked but it didn’t look good on my since I’ve become silver (I will not say ‘grey’!)

  3. Margaret, you always look quite chic and are an inspiration.

  4. I gave up wearing black clothes a few years ago. My dark neutral is navy and this is the colour I wear to funerals. I believe it’s discreet enough to be respectful while being very useful in my wardrobe.
    People watching (done discreetly) can be very entertaining. I’m always struck by the small number of women who wear skirts/dresses nowadays.
    A little off tangent, but last year I saw a lovely sight in a local supermarket. A young lady was shopping dressed in quite a vintage style outfit (very feminine and modest). But also, she was pushing a vintage 1950s Silver Cross pram! Her baby must have had a very comfortable ride. I wish I had spoken to her and complimented her on her appearance.

    • Margaret

      Yes, I have usually worn navy to funerals and last year I wore a navy lace dress with my navy coat over the top and felt that it looked both smart and appropriate. Navy is the most useful colour in the wardrobe, I think.
      Oh, how lovely to see a vintage 1950s Silver Cross pram. They were certainly the Rolls Royce of prams, weren’t they? Our children had Pedigree prams, just down a league from Silver Cross, and instead of traditional navy, I chose a dark green pram for them. But those coach built prams were a world away from the buggies of today – in them babies were higher than the exhaust fumes from cars and from dogs sniffing at them, too. I think I’d have been tempted to have taken a photo of the young woman in her lovely vintage clothes with the vintage pram! Discreetly of course!

  5. Sorry to tell you that last night’s Grantchester was episode 6 of 6 so I hope you savoured it!

    Decoy park looks really lovely. It was a springlike day here yesterday but today has been overcast with a chilly breeze even though the temperature wasn’t really cool. Just one good day spoils you!

    • Margaret

      Oh, they must’ve had the numbering incorrect in the Radio Times then, Alison. I thought there were two more to go, boo hoo! I have just checked in the new Radio Times and you are right, it’s a repeat showing of an old episode of Vera next Friday.
      Yes, one good day spoils you, you think it will be like it the next and the next. But it was lovely to be out in the sunshine yesterday.

  6. Love the people-watching details, Margaret! I can just picture it! And the smart young couple you described reminded me of that darling young couple in The Shell Seekers. It sounds like you and your husband had a lovely day….thanks for letting us peek in on it!

    • Margaret

      Yes, it was a lovely morning out, Annie, and it was fun seeing all those people decked out in shades of grey and black, what they’d decided to put together for the occasion. I must read The Shell Seekers again, not read it since it was first published and I’ve forgotten the couple in the book (I presume you mean the book and not the film?)

  7. What a great post. I so enjoyed your description of the crowd coming in. An unexpected happening like that is a real treat.

    Also loved your visit to the park and envied the way the trails have been left natural ground from the look of the pretty photo. We love our park and go often. Our trail around the lake is paved though, and while nice and smooth, I would enjoy walking on real ground I think.

    Those thatched roof homes and that pub! Love!

    • Margaret

      Yes, although truly man made, first as a quarry and then as a country park, the whole area of Decoy Country Park looks natural, and all the better for it. You can easily see the paths, and some are even wheelchair friendly, but they were quite muddy and slipper yesterday and really I’d not sure I’d have felt secure in a wheelchair on those paths. But so much nicer than paved paths of any description unless in a formal garden. Yes, you’d love the pub. I must see if we can get there when it’s open so that I can post photos of the interior. Sometimes we enjoy a Sunday lunch there in the hayloft restaurant, all beams and white napery on the tables, it’s like going back to the 1960s when it was de rigeur to put white cloths on tables, with jugs of water, too. A lovely place to dine, and not expensive either.

  8. I enjoyed your description of the man with all of the bling ! Australian funerals seem to be much less formal these days in that people don’t wear all black any more, in fact often you may not see any black clothing at all. Some people apparently leave instructions for the mourners to wear a particular colour or bright colours to their funerals. I like this idea as whilst funerals are sad due to the passing of a loved one, it can also be a time to celebrate life. Just so long as no one wears thongs (flip flops) to my funeral ! I’ve seen this on young women at two funerals in recent years and I felt it was disrespectful – especially as one service was in a church. I’m not a regular church attendee and am not religious but I believe churches (or any place of worship) must be attended in conservative garb. Anyway, that’s my 20 cents worth 😉

    The park and lake look very pretty. Ditto the thatched roofed buildings (as I’m typing I’m wondering whether it’s thatch roof or roofed …. pardon my grammar !). I also think you look very stylish in your coat – ready for almost anything in that outfit 😃

    • Margaret

      Yes, funerals seem less formal here, too. It’s the way of the world, how things are now. And we attended a funeral a few years ago where the mourners were instructed to wear bright colours, but actually few people did. They are used to wearing sombre shades. I put on black culottes, black opaque tights, black ankle boots and a colourful striped top, so I was half and half!
      Oh, you call flip flops “thongs”! Oh dear, here a “thong” is a thin stringy thing instead of knickers! A good job you mentioned that they are flip flops otherwise I’d have a very different idea of what-not-to-wear at a funeral, ha ha!
      We would say “roofed with thatch” for how the roof was constructed, and both “thatch” roof or “thatched roof” is correct to describe such a roof. I prefer “thatched” roof myself.
      Thank you for your kind comments re my coat.

      • Yes I found out the hard way what those from the UK call ‘thongs’ about 30 years ago. I’d just started working professionally (after uni) and was on a train with half a dozen new work colleagues, all from the UK, talking about my recent trip to the beach or something and that I’d tripped over my thong. I meant footwear, of course. Well you should have seen their faces ! They were the loveliest bunch – from Scotland, Northern Ireland and England and one fellow from Birmingham who I would just nod or smile as I couldn’t understand his accent. Australia has generous reciprocal arrangements with the UK for those under 30 so we have many young workers and travellers here. There were many here in the late 1980s – early 1990s from Ireland due to their economic woes. It certainly added to the colour and flavour of my life as I formed many wonderful friendships and learnt so much 🙂

        • Margaret

          Oh, Lara, that is so funny – you tripping over your thong when they thought it went round a more private part! Screamingly funny, I’ll bet you laughed when you found out what a thong is in the UK!

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