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World Book Day (and Shopping Day, too)

Would you believe that I’ve not bought a book today, World Book Day?  However, we did buy our little grandson a children’s encyclopaedia which we hope he will enjoy looking at, all in wonderful colour and not too much information but enough to fire his imagination on a wide variety of subjects.  He was here for his tea yesterday and kept mentioning how much he liked the Horrid Henry story books, and so I said, “Would you like to come and order some with me from Amazon?” and his little face lit up like a beacon, “Oh, yes please Granny!” So off we went into the study and I ordered three for him. He devours books faster than I can eat an ice cream, so he’ll have them read in next to no time, but they are books he can put away and re-read and then pass on to a charity shop or to the school’s library.

He was a lucky little boy, too.  There was a raffle at his school to win an outfit for World Book Day because, as happens in many schools, the children go dressed as characters from books.  He only went and won it, and so went along dressed as Willy Wonka.

* * * * *

I have some sad news.  No, no one has died, they’ve not even been taken ill, but nonetheless it is sad news.  Our branch of Waitrose is to close in June.  Apparently, one of the assistants (sorry ‘partners’ as they are not employees but partners in Waitrose and John Lewis) told me today that they had been told that their store “wasn’t viable.”  The Waitrose store in Teignmouth, about twelve miles away, has suffered the same fate, and will also closes and so there won’t be any branches of Waitrose between Sidmouth in east Devon and Truro in Cornwall.

As well as being upset on a personal level (as we enjoy shopping in Waitrose) husband and I are upset for the staff who work so hard and are helpful, friendly and professional.  I don’t know what the reasons are for the closures; it could be insufficient profitability or even the move by Ocado, the distribution network, to link up with Marks & Spencer rather than Waitrose.  Who knows? But we will be very sorry not to be able to shop in such pleasant surroundings as there just isn’t a supermarket like it.  Yes, others are good, and we certainly won’t starve but none that we know has the ambience of Waitrose.  We were in one not that long ago and the noise was deafening, with musak blaring from the sound system, the tills beeping loudly, and children running around, screaming, not to mention all the noise of the customers.  We are now going to visit some supermarkets and find which is the best for us.  I don’t expect many to tick the quiet-and-pleasant box!

* * * * *

(The shopping, brought in from the car and dumped on the kitchen floor – Waitrose items in the three trolley bags (the 4th trolley bag is in the car); chiller food in the chiller bag (top right), Lidl cleaning items in the large bag on the right, flowers in my basket and milk from the local shop on the floor – all to be put away before I could sit down with a cup of tea (and before I put the food away, I clean out the fridge, check to make sure any veggies and fruit aren’t going off, and tidy the larder.) 

We first went to Next this morning to collect some wellies for our little grandson who needs two pairs:  one to keep at home and a pair to be kept at school for their outdoor lessons.  While in Next I bought a couple of little shirts for him for an Easter present (he will, of course, have an Easter egg as well.)

Next have some lovely children’s clothes at very reasonable prices.  I have Gift Receipts so if these don’t fit, or aren’t suitable, our son and daughter in law can return them.  I remember when our sons were little how very expensive children’s clothes were compared with our earnings. Today, you can buy them in supermarkets when we had to go to what were called baby linen shops.

We then went to Lidl to stock up on their lovely Bellarom ground coffee and on cleaning products before heading to Waitrose.  We bought tulips and roses in Lidl but when I got home I found, as I have found in the past, that one of the stems of the roses didn’t have a flower.  They are so tightly bunched and crammed into the buckets in the store that the blooms – which the growers try so hard to get to the peak of condition – are squashed.  But even so, the nine remaining blooms of the white roses look nice (top photo) and I’ve put the pink roses in our bedroom.

For the sitting room, I chose my favourite purple and red tulips.  I was going to buy purple and white for International Women’s Day tomorrow, but I love the purple with the red so much more …

They will look even better once the buds open.

The daffodil season is gradually coming to a close and there were few daffs to be had in Waitrose today, and the ones that were there looked half-dead already – this is because for health & safety reasons the flowers aren’t in water (in case water droplets fall onto the floor and customers skid and hurt themselves) – but I did find some in one bucket which looked like they might survive until I could get them into water …

Meals have been very easy this week.  On Tuesday lunch was leek & potato soup that I’d made the day before, re-heated, and eaten with crusty bread, cheeses, mini pork pies (wicked!), tomatoes and chutney …

Those white daffodils are now over and have been replaced by those in the previous photo.

Yesterday, we had a veggie curry for lunch. Oh, I love veggie curry, and if it is thickened with lentils, you are having some protein with the veg, too.

It isn’t an easy dish to make look presentable, it looks like dog food, but I can assure you it tastes wonderful.  This curry contained onions, spring onions, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, courgette, leeks, red pepper, courgette, some raisins, tomato puree, apricot chutney, red lentils, veggie stock, mild curry powder, dried cumin and dried coriander.  I use Basmati wholegrain rice even though, once cooked, it has the appearance of white rice.

Yesterday, for our main meal I made a rich tomato sauce which I served with penne pasta and cheddar or parmesan cheese for little grandson and myself (he came to tea) and macaroni cheese for husband, who isn’t keen on tomato sauce, home-made or not.  For pudding, I made a lemon drizzle cake and we had that with custard (we don’t always have a pudding, but as grandson was coming, this was a special treat for him. Of course, we liked it too!)

My magazine today … and also, I took delivery of a couple of lovely Roger & Gallet soaps (Carnation fragrance, one of my all-time favourites.)

Husband has just made us some hot chocolate, so I’m now going to have that, and perhaps have an early night, too.

Wherever you are, whether it’s late on Thursday or early morning on Friday, may you have a good weekend.

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. It may be worth you checking if any of the local supermarkets subscribe to the Purple Tuesday scheme. This is where there is no music and noise is kept to a minimum. It is designed to help people who have processing problems. Our local Sainsburys does this and it was very helpful after Steve had his stroke, he found it easier to manage in a quieter shop.

    • Margaret

      Yes, I’ve heard of that, Sue, only I’d forgotten about it. We are thinking of trying Sainsbury’s next … we used to shop there before we went to Waitrose. Indeed, we used to go to the Totnes branch of Morrisons as it was really lovely, but now it’s gone the way of most supermarkets, re-fits to fit in more stuff, and it generally feels more cramped and more noisy. I’m not exactly noise-phobic, I just prefer to shop without pop music blaring out. I think they’ve actually missed a trick here, supermarkets … if they played gentle music that might slow us all down, we would stroll around and chance is that we would pop more things into our trollies! They’ve not tried that, I don’t think, but some Chopin or Mozart might result in higher sales! Shall we tell them?
      Hope you are keeping well, Sue, and Steve, too.

  2. I know that Supermarkets are businesses but they do also have a social role to play.When our local M & S closed-the town centre basically died.Many older people -especially those who were carers of dementia relatives lost a friendly safe place to go for a coffee.Likewise when a local bus was cut back many people could no longer get to Tesco and shop and chat in the cafe there
    .Even though I live on the outskirts of a major city I see examples of what closures and cutbacks really mean and I worry about those people who live in a more remote setting.

    • Margaret

      How sad is that, that when your local M&S closed down, the town centre died. One thing which is a move in the right direction, though, is that the great supermarkets are realising at last that people are getting fed up with the huge out of town warehouses which sold everything from toothpaste to TVs and are opening local ones in the towns, larger than a convenience corner shop but much smaller than the large out of town emporia. I have made enquiries this morning, after Sue kindly left a comment, to find out if they have a Purple Tuesday. As yet they do not, but the person who responded to my query said that he will forward this for consideration (or words to that effect.) I don’t expect dramatic results overnight, maybe I should contact Mary Portas (known here in the UK as the Queen of Shops) to see if she can throw her weight (not literally!) behind such an idea, so that all supermarkets make a concerted effort to become quieter places if only for a couple of hours on a Tuesday. Shopping isn’t just about going to the cheapest store for me, but to the one which offers not only value for money but is also offers a pleasant environment in which to shop.

  3. I’m sorry to hear your local Waitrose is closing – I wonder if it’s linked to the John Lewis drop in profits as they’re linked. I like Waitrose – very clean. Never mind – you’ll have to make a day of it and travel to one further afield. I’ve been in a few branches in Devon & Cornwall – the big newish one in Truro is good and the one in Okehampton is ok but smallish – but there’ll be lots of others too. I bet our local one is down for closure too – the local M&S is closing as well – there’ll be no shops left soon on the high street! I can recommend Waitrose home delivery – but it’s not the same as physically having a wander.

    • Margaret

      Yes, Mrs H, I’m pretty sure that the closure is linked to the drop in profits of John Lewis. The company are perhaps cutting the slack, so to speak, even if the branch has turned a profit – perhaps it wasn’t a good enough profit, who knows what motivates this kind of shut-down. I’d forgotten the Okehampton branch, but all these branches are some distance away from where we live in Torbay. Yes, I’ve had Waitrose home delivery, but if there isn’t a store where the food comes from, perhaps they will close down the home delivery in this area, too? But you are right, it’s not the same as having a wander around a store.

  4. Really sorry to hear about both of the Waitrose stores in your area Margaret, what a blow. We sometimes shop in the M&S food shop in Dartmouth which is quite pleasant and you can get a coffee nearby, a pity it’s a ferry ride away for you. Hope you find an alternative. Thanks for your latest news and views, good to hear your grandson likes books and you can choose them together.

    • Margaret

      Hello, Heather, and while we do have a large out-of-town M&S with an excellent food hall, I’m not sold on M&S for food. Yes, it is quality, but somehow it all looks wonderful from the packaging, but it seems to appeal to those who want a ready meal to me, pick up a bag of everything for £10 or £20 or whatever. There was a piece in the paper recently, are you a M&S shopper or a Waitrose shopper? I came out as definitely a Waitrose shopper, someone who bought ingredients for cooking rather than something to heat up and put on the table in seconds. Nothing wrong with the occasional ready meal, but it’s ingredients that win every time for me.
      Yes, grandson loves to read. The first of the three Horrid Henry books arrived for him yesterday and son called in this afternoon and said that grandson couldn’t wait to get home and rush in as he knew another book would’ve arrived! How lovely that a little fellow is as happy to find a book waiting for him as a Lego or Play Mobile kit!

  5. We don’t have a Waitrose near us, otherwise I would use it, but we do have the wonderful Booths, a very similar north country chain, which is a very civilised place to shop, with excellent produce and lovely staff and I would miss it dreadfully if it were to go so I do sympathise with you over the loss of Waitrose. As I have got older, I found change less acceptable! I do hope you will find a new shopping routine which will suit. With regard to the business of not keeping flowers in water in case of slippages, that is cruelty to flowers! What happens if it is raining and customers come in with wet feet, drippy umbrellas and wet clothes? Grrrrrr!

    • Margaret

      Yes, I’ve heard of Booths, Margaret L, the Waitrose-of-the-north! Yes, that seems to be company policy in the supermarkets now – not putting flowers in water, which I also think is ridiculous. People are so ready to sue these days even if an accident is their own fault. I’m not always reluctant to change, but it has to be change for the better. Sadly, I find that this seldom happens these days or what I perceive to be better.

  6. Very sorry to hear you are losing Waitrose. It is a very calm, orderly, pleasant shopping experience. As always a delightful run of posts with the usual excellent pictures to illustrate the text.

    • Margaret

      Yes, it’s a sad day for Torquay to lose Waitrose, and it sends the wrong message to visitors to the area, that Torquay isn’t good enough to have a Waitrose in the Borough. Thank you for your kind comment, Jill, re my posts and photos!

  7. Lucky grandson! My younger grandchildren took part on World Book Day at nursery and primary school. The little boys particularly love to dress up.

    How disappointing about your Waitrose store. We don’t have one all than nearby but at least we had an M&S in town (only a mile or so away) with a food department. But then the branch closed. I do miss it. Although I do my main shop in Tesco, the ‘quiet’ spot is fulfilled by Sainsbury. I am surprised it remains open as it never seems to have many customers. I find it a bit frustrating that there is no single supermarket where I can get all that I want. I like Asda’s toilet rolls and their peach yogurts but don’t like the store so I just nip in and out for those bits, and I like Morrison’s own brand (machine) washing liquid because it doesn’t smell of anything!
    Margaret L mentions Booths. We encountered these when on holiday a couple of years ago – very good, very Waitose like. They don’t exists in the Midlands so far as I am aware.
    Soup, cheese and crackers makes for a perfect lunch. I’m off now to make leek and potato soup.

    • Margaret

      Yes, I think little boys like to dress up as much as little girls, and I know our little grandson loved going to school on World Book Day as Willy Wonka.
      Yes, it’s very sad about Waitrose as we will really miss their lovely store, but even sadder for the lovely staff who will now have to find work in an already work-deprived area, where much of the work is seasonal it being a holiday resort. I think Sainsbury’s will be our store of choice, we’re going to have a look-see in there before too long, seeing what we can find that we regularly buy in Waitrose. Not sure whether we will find our lovely Normandy Butter or the Panda licorice sticks that I love, but we shall see. I’ve not visited a Booths but I’ve heard they are the Waitrose of the North, pity we don’t have any down here.
      Yes, soup, cheese and crackers a perfect lunch! Enjoy your potato and leek soup today!

  8. Oh, that’s so sad! I know you’ll miss the store and your weekly shopping experience there. Fortunately there is time till June by when I’m sure you’ll find an alternative that’s good enough.
    It is such fun to read about your grandson. He sounds like a charming and affectionate little boy 😊
    I always enjoy your lovely pictures of the weekly flowers you’ve bought and arranged around your home. They look so beautiful!

    • Margaret

      Hello, Kavitha. We will now return, I’ve not doubt, to the supermarket we used to go to years ago, Sainsbury’s. Fortunately, we have many supermarkets in our area, but Waitrose will be missed by loyal Waitrose customers.
      Thank you for your kind words re the flowers I buy and show on my blog. I love flowers and I will be even more delighted with the tulips I planted in pots last autumn will be in flower – not long to wait now.

  9. Bit late saying this but there is a Waitrose in Saltash, possibly a little too far for you to travel, plus the cost of the Tamar bridge when you go back home. For some reason I missed this post a few days ago, can’t think why, I look in every day to see if you have written your blog. Make the most of Waitrose shops while you can.

    • Margaret

      Oh, I didn’t know there was a Waitrose in Saltash! But still a good 40 miles or more from us here in Torbay, an 80+ mile round trip (plus the cost of the toll on the Tamar Bridge) for Cranks bread, croissants, and Normandy butter wouldn’t be cost-effective, but nice to know that there is one there if we decide to have a day trip to Plymouth, as Saltash not that far away.
      Yes, we will certainly make the most of Waitrose while we can, we will really miss it. Well, I shall. Husband takes such things in his stride and eventually we will get used to shopping elsewhere.
      That is lovely that you look in each day, Kathy, thank you.

  10. I am sorry about your favorite grocery. Things are always changing. Some people like to say “change is good”. I don’t believe that. Change can be good, but sometimes it just isn’t.

  11. Still too hot here to have flowers in vases – the last bunch of roses I bought drooped within days. Oh this humidity is making me grumpy….. Good luck finding a new supermarket. You might end up joining the many who get home delivery. I’ve never done so myself but it’s popular here in Australia. Some supermarkets have quiet times where there is a set period for shoppers who are affected by noise and bright lights, which I think sounds wonderful.(I’ve since read the similar remark by another reader. I should have read the comments first 🙂 )…. So lovely that your grandson also loves books. Now that you’ve introduced him to ordering them Amazon it’s another fun thing you can share.

    • Margaret

      I have sampled home delivery in the past, Lara. It’s fine, up to a point. 1. You don’t have to trudge to the supermarket but I like food shopping. 2. Handy if you are ill and can’t go to the supermarket. But on the downside is 3. Much depends on who has packed the bags for you and whether they are as careful as you in choosing the fruit and veg (which is seldom the case) and 4. Substitutes, if they don’t have what you want and you’ve not put “no substitute”, can be rather odd. This kind of shopping might’ve improved as it’s a very long time since I chose our shopping online and had it delivered.
      Yes, there are some supermarkets who have that quiet time, but Sainsbury’s doesn’t actually have a set day and time for this, and Sainsbury’s I think will be our next supermarket of choice. We shall see.
      Grandson was very excited when his three books arrived on three consecutive days. I’ve told him there won’t be any more for a while, can’t have him thinking that everytime he wants something he will get it, but Easter is coming and I expect there will be some more for him then (plus an Easter egg, of course, and we have bought him two little shirts for spring.)

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