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To Places New on Monday

Yesterday was Commonwealth Day (not a public holiday here, and I suspect few people will have known this was a special day for the royal family and for the 57 member countries which make up the Commonwealth) and there was a service in Westminster Abbey.  Here you can see trumpeters announcing the arrival of HM the Queen.  But more of this service later. First of all …

What a transition – from Westminster Abbey to Barry!  I haven’t shown you any photos of him of late simply because he’s not been over to see us for a while, but on Sunday we dog-sat him for four hours in his own home.  He was good as gold, bless him.  But then, he’s a middle-aged dog now and not as barky as when he was a teenage-dog.

And so to yesterday.  As I’ve explained in previous posts, the Torquay branch of Waitrose (along with the Teignmouth branch) will be closing in June.  We thus need to find another supermarket to benefit from our custom and for us to find one that will suit our needs.

Next down the food chain (pardon the pun, but  couldn’t resist that!) from Waitrose is Sainsbury’s. More than a couple or more decades ago, how delighted my mother and I were when Sainsbury’s came to our area.  It was then considered top supermarket dog and we couldn’t wait to go there.  I even had home delivery from them from time to time.

And so we returned yesterday to Sainsbury’s, which had been expanded in the decades since we first shopped there.  Yes, it was a Monday morning when  I imagine few people do a ‘big’ shop, but we found the place nice and quiet, and the aisles are wide so we didn’t feel hemmed in.

It is, I admit, without ‘character’ and I wish I could describe what I mean, but it is simply shelves of goods, neatly displayed, unlike in Waitrose where the manner in which the goods are displayed is really attractive – well, it is to me.  Here, it’s just goods on shelves.  I  can’t explain the difference, there possibly isn’t any, but while it’s certainly not Waitrose, it isn’t awful either.

I had a list of items with me that I wanted to check to see if they were available.  Yes, they sell our favourite Normandy butter, and yes, they have our favourite drinking chocolate (not that we need that every week!)  But we didn’t find any steak mince, only fat-reduced mince, whereas in Waitrose we can buy minced beef from named breeds of cattle, such as Aberdeen Angus and Herefordshire.

Never mind, we don’t buy mince very often and I’m sure what they have will be fine.  One item I did find and which I’ve not been able to find elsewhere is Phildelphia cream cheese with chives, which used to be a favourite to have on cheese scones (with watercress, too), so I swooped up a box of that right away.  I couldn’t find Cranks bread but it is available online, or perhaps I was looking in the wrong place.

The store also met other criteria:  it was quiet (well, while we were there), there was no musak blaring out (except in the cafe); there is a cafe (not that we always require one, but nice to know there is one there) and loos.  The flowers looked fresh, even on a Monday, but the prices are quite steep – Waitrose doesn’t have the monopoly on expensive flowers! There is also a Food Bank container so we can still pop things into that each week.  Of course, they don’t offer free newspapers, free coffee, or a free in-store magazine.  But we can’t expect everything.

and there was quite a wide selection of baked-in-store bread …

I didn’t take any photos of the cafe which we thought we’d try out for our recce.  We had cappuccinos and scones – there wasn’t much else on offer, apart from some cupcakes, but this was a transitional period just before they started on lunches.

I was asked if we wanted small or large cappuccinos, and I said “small” but they arrived in what I considered to be large mugs. I dread to think what a large cappuccino would’ve been like.  Anyway, both the coffee and scones were OK, but the cafe is very utilitarian, tucked far away in a corner of the store as if they don’t really want customers to find it.  The plainest of plain tables and chairs, plain floor, plain walls.  Nothing attractive about it whatsoever, and all in shades of brown and black and off-white.  It overlooks a corner of what was originally part of the car park, I think, now a place where I suspect smokers gather outside in fine weather.  Unless we are desperate it’s not a place we will use again. The loud musak didn’t help, either.

I have now applied for a Nectar card to get ‘points’ awarded when we shop there.  Not sure what difference that will make to the Powling coffers, but we shall see.  Below you will see the entrance/exit and the large area in front which to me is a totally wasted space.  Perhaps there’s a reason for this, but it looks pretty bleak to me.  There are also many sections I haven’t photographed, the homewares for example, but the inexpensive clothes look quite nice quality for the price and I was almost tempted to buy some red jeans.  I might still buy some.


We then returned home and decided that we would perhaps be using Sainsbury for the time being for our weekly shopping. The only items not available in any brand was coffee ice cream.  And we love coffee ice cream. Never mind, there will be other things to try, won’t there?

As I said, yesterday was Commonwealth Day and Westminster Abbey was in festive mode, and filled with many children and young people.  There was music from a band called Clean Bandit (I’d never heard of them, but I have now) and drummers called The Dhol Foundation played their drums right through the Abbey.

Indeed, most of the performances were noisy, but very jolly.

The royals were out in force, lead by HM the Queen, the Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) and the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla), the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Catherine), the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Meghan), and the Duke of York (Prince Andrew, Prince’ Charles’s younger brother.)

Absent were the Princes Royal (Princess Anne) and The Duke and Duchess of Wessex (Prince Edward, Prince Charles’s youngest brother, and Sophie).  My photos from the TV are not good, but I thought you might like to see just a few. The Queen was in royal purple which my camera translates as blue, but it really was a beautiful ensemble. She does wear the most beautiful colours now, and always with a matching colour for her hat.


The Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) was in a much darker shade of purple and looked so elegant with a choker of pearls.  The Duchess of Cambridge (Catherine) was in red and looked elegant, too, with a tiny hat perched on the front of her  head.  She also knows how to wear her hair for such ceremonies and now has a tendency, instead of all her waves and curls blowing in the wind, to have it neatly coiled in the nape of her neck .

The Duchess of Sussex (Meghan) is also now wearing her hair much more tidily arrange, none of those long drifting pieces of hair dangling, which I personally have never understood nor liked.  Yesterday she wore a centre parting with her hair neatly arranged under a white pill box hat, with a white coat with a patterned dress.  She wore white last year, so perhaps white is her signature colour?

Here is The Duchess of Sussex with, in the foreground, Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

And here is Prince William, Duke of Cambridge with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. I do think Prince William, as be becomes older, has a very Hanovarian look to him, similar to King George III (1760-1820).

Here is Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May, reading from Corinthians.  In my opinion, and it is only my opinion and others will strongly disagree, she always seems to just miss on having the right clothes for the occasion. Last year she wore a red hat which absolutely drowned her head …

To my mind this looks ridiculous, but again others will disagree.  Yesterday, the hat was rather small, perched on her thick grey hair and with a lot of feathery stuff on top.  Her coat was loose- fitting and seldom do un-tailored clothes look smart.  She also wore her signature-style of huge chunky necklace which didn’t seem to ‘go’ with anything she was wearing.  I must appear critical, and her main concern as Prime Minister isn’t her looks and I know she was flying off to Strasbourg soon after the service for yet another meeting with the EU regarding Brexit, but I’d have liked to have seen her in more elegant, tailored clothes. She is a tall, slim woman and could wear them with ease.

But always the star of any show in Westminster Abbey is the Abbey itself.  It’s a magnificent building, steeped (as historians are won’t to say) in history.  The choir is magnificent and all in all, although I’m not religious (indeed, quite the opposite) I enjoyed the service.

This afternoon we are off to Dartington’s Barn Cinema again to see a film (movie).  It’s pouring with rain and the latest storm Gareth makes going out somewhat challenging.  I hope the film will be worth it. More about that next time.

And so, 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. Kathryn Hemstead

    I thought Theresa May looked awful yesterday and I’m tired of the Duchess of Sussex holding onto her bump as if it was going to fall off. Having said the I thought all the female royals looked well. We managed to save enough Nectar points a couple of years ago to ‘ buy ‘ a new television with them! So yes, they made a slight difference to our coffers. Today’s weather is awful – I have heating and lights on. My remaining cat is going stir crazy as he wants to go out and I’ve pointed out to him that the weather is not suitable for an elderly cat. Barry the Dog is lovely. Fiona x

    • Margaret

      I agree with both your comments, Kathryn – Mfrs May looking awful and the Duchess of Sussex holding onto her bump.
      My goodness, that sounds wonderful – sufficient Nectar points for a TV! I shall bear that in mind.
      The weather here is awful, too, and we’re rather sorry that we’re not staying in but going to Dartington to see a film. I expect the car park will be full and we’ll be directed to the overflow car park, a good way from the Barn cinema and then have to battle rain and puddles to get there; it’s far too windy for an umbrella. No, cats don’t usually like this kind of weather but it does seem to excite them. One of ours was always wanting to go out in the wind and rain, and then he’d come rushing back in again. Once in, he would want to go out again as if the weather caused him excitement.
      I see another name has come up for you, Fiona! I do wish the technology, instead of being updated far too often, would just get things right!

      • Kathryn Hemstead

        I’m quite enjoying my new name!! 🙂 Don’t worry about it. I’m used to being called all sorts. My much loved late grandmother used to call both Mum, my sister and me by any female name that was in the family. So I’ve been called Hazel, Audrey, Nora, Steph, Jean, Valerie, Victoria and at work , for some reason I get called Vanessa. The only time anyone took exception to it was when she called my Dad Valerie!!!!!!!!!!! He said plenty! Fiona x

        • Margaret

          This name business, Fiona, is really strange. Oh, how funny, that your grandmother used to call you by all those names (and your mother and sister, too) Oh dear, calling your Dad “Valerie”! I don’t think that would’ve gone down well with him!

  2. Most of ou supermarkets over here don’t have coffee shops. Safeway have Starbucks. So nothing like you are used to. That was something my friend and I really enjoyed when we were in the Scotland last year. Morrison’s, Marks and Spenser, John Lewis and even Asda! We found the food tasty and real. Most of the time it’s fast food in Canada.

    I thought that Meghan’s hat was terrible, like my nursing cap but without the qualification ribbons. Reminds me, I have to get it out soon and scrub it for Nurses Week in May.

    Got an influenza like illness and feel like death.

    Hope you are well.

    Ear scratches to Barry, the next time you visit him

    • Margaret

      What a shame that your supermarkets don’t have cafes, Linda. But over here, we (meaning husband and myself, rather than the rest of the population) tend not to use them, preferring other places in which to eat. A lot of them to, though, have good food which isn’t just fast/convenience food. You can buy ‘real’ meals and salads, not just burgers and chips. WE are very fortunate where we live insofar as we have Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Lidl and Aldi all within easy reach, and in some cases, several branches within easy reach. But Waitrose was a cut above the rest as it was the same company as John Lewis.
      Yes, Meghan’s hat was just like a nurses cap, I remember them in the 1950s looking like that, but as you say, without the qualification ribbons, or stripes. And why this tendency to choose white, I wonder?
      I’m sorry you feel so ill, Linda. An early night if you’re not in bed already, plenty to drink, and paracetamol (but go easy on that as it causes constipation!) says Sister Powling! (I’m not a nurse by the way, just speaking from experience!)
      Yes, I will remember to ear-scratch Barry next time I see him! He is a dear little dog!

  3. Margaret, I am really looking forward to the film The Chaperone, out soon here in the US. The market here in my village is small and the aisles are small and someone is always miffed that you are blocking them. It doesn’t have a cafe but has about 5 booths. They have free coffee and it is very good. The floral department is much diminished. I wonder if American women don’t like to spend on flowers. I do though. I am longing for the Wegmans chain to come down to my area in New England. Wegmans reminds me very much of the market you love. They have multiple cafes, fresh foods, lots and lots of variety, a well-orchestrated floral department and very low prices. They are infiltrating Massachusetts now and hopefully will reach us. When you find a good market it really enhances life to a small degree, doesn’t it? The names of the Royals roll right off your tongue. I only now them as brother of or son of or their first names. Enjoy your posts and your thoughts and views especially!

    • Margaret

      I don’t know the film, The Chaperone, Donna, so I must look out for that. I’ve not heard of Wegmans, but it does sound a good store and it would therefore be lovely it one arrived in your area. Regarding spending on flowers, I’ve no idea if American women don’t like to spend on them, but it’s only in recent times, the last couple of decades I mean, that flowers have been in abundance in supermarkets and they are bought along with the groceries for the week, i.e. they have become an everyday item rather than something which is bought for special occasions.
      I name the royals so that those who are not British and reading this will know one from another. It’s surprising that even in this country many people, especially the younger ones, only know the very young royals such as William and Kate and Harry and Megan.

  4. I do not know what drinking chocolate is, Margaret – but if it’s chocolate, it must be good! I have to agree, from seeing the pictures you show, that Theresa May’s complete outfit just looks a little off. I don’t “watch” her closely, but maybe this is just her style and we just don’t care for it! I am happy to see Meghan’s hair in a controlled style, though – it just looks better, I do agree with you there. All the white is not to my taste, but to each her own. I much prefer Kate’s style.

    • Margaret

      Maybe you call it simply hot chocolate, Jeannine? Do you have cocoa? That’s another hot, milky drink that we have in this country. Drinking chocolate is a powdered chocolate powder and you mix it with hot milk. Of course, the real way to have hot chocolate is to melt real chocolate into hot milk, but the powder is very good. There are inexpensive brands such as Cadbury’s but we like Twining’s Swiss Milk Chocolate Drinking Chocolate. Charbonnel & Walker is another excellent make, also Whittard’s and their brands have real flaked chocolate.

      • Ah yes, hot chocolate or hot cocoa. I drink it all winter as I’m neither a coffee nor a tea drinker.

        • Margaret

          Glad we have sorted that one out, Jeannine. It’s known as drinking chocolate or hot chocolate here; they are the same thing. I love both tea and coffee, too, though.

  5. Lovely to see Barry again. He really is adorable. I went to our local library this morning to collect a book I had reserved and picked another on impulse – the cover was the face of a gorgeous Golden Retriever puppy. I’m a sucker for a puppy 😃

    I think all of the Royals looked lovely. I can only imagine how much fun it would be to have dresses, coats and hats chosen especially for you and to have your hair styled and make up done by professionals but then having to be ‘on show’ and in front of the media doesn’t look like fun. I understand there have been many negative remarks made about Megan Markle in recent months. I’ve purposely not sought out any specifics. These days it’s not just the media but also Instagram ‘armchair experts’ and critics. Whatever happened to the saying ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all’, I wonder.

    • Margaret

      Glad you enjoyed seeing little Barry-dog! And yes, puppies are lovely, but them most young animals are lovely.
      I’ve not read any negative comments about Megan Markle, Lara, although I do understand that the tabloids have said negative things about her, mainly as she’s always holding her baby bump. They also made out that there was negative feelings between the two sisters-in-law, but I’m sure a lot is just made up to sell papers – President Trump’s “fake news”. There is a saying that the royals adopted long ago, which is “never complain, never explain” and I think that has served them well over the years. But you are right, these days it’s not just the media, but Instagram ‘armchair experts’. I’d like to see some people last a day in the spotlight, such as they are 100% of the time. They can’t burp or scratch without someone noticing.

  6. Personally I think Theresa May is a fashion disaster. Her taste for hugely unflattering, too-short, peplum jackets is beyond my comprehension. And that red hat…..ludicrous! . There, I am not diplomatic like your good self, Margaret!
    Sainsburys is no Waitrose for sure. I’ve no gripe with the quality of the goods but I find their shelves uninspiring and displays unexciting. The cafes are like school canteens. Also, the celing is low in our local store and I don’t like that. All all, not greatly enticing. For me it’s Tesco in the absence of a Waitrose.
    Lest I sound too negative, I should say the that, in terms of design, Sainsbury clothing range knocks spots of the Tesco or Asda one, though I never seem to buy from either! But a hurrah for Asda children clothes – next to Next, I think they’re the best.

    • Margaret

      I didn’t really want to say that, but yes, Eloise, you are right, Mrs May is a fashion disaster. What I find hard to understand is all that junk jewellery around her neck when a simple strand of pearls would look so much more elegant. And now I must apologise for what she wears might be modern, artisan jewellery. However, to me (call me a philistine if you like) it all looks quite frightful. I once – hands up, big mistake! – bought a heavy, chunky necklace. They were popular about 10 years ago and for once I became – momentarily – a fashion victim! But as soon as I wore it I felt my neck complaining and returned it to the shop. How can her neck cope with the sheer weight of some of those lumps she wears? I’ve yet to see Mrs May in something smart or even approaching flattering. I know Margaret Thatcher, after winning three consecutive election victories, became somewhat presidential in style, i.e. grander almost than the Queen but, my goodness, she knew how to dress and what flattered her while at the same time looking businesslike.
      Yes, Sainsbury’s cafes are like school canteens. At least you are kinder than I was about it. I thought, had I ever been in a prison (which, thankfully, I haven’t) if there was a cafe there for those visiting inmates, the cafe in Sainsbury’s is what it might be like! Everything pared down to the basic necessities (but without being chained to the floor!)
      Yes, I thought the clothes looked OK in Sainsbury’s too. I might even buy some red jeans! Also, son and daughter in law had been in the Torquay store today and said that they could find Cranks bread in there, which is something I always bought for them in Waitrose. I must remind myself that the object of the exercise is to find the food we want at a reasonable price, even if don’t actually like the store.

      • Ahhh, But you and. I enjoy food shopping, Margaret. Lking the store is part of the wider experience. I can (to a degree) get what I want in Aldi but I rarely venture in because I don’t like the store!

        • Margaret

          In total agreement!!! I don’t like shopping in a shop I don’t like, and I don’t like the new Lidl or the nearby Aldi. The old Lidl is OK, but I only go there about once every four our five weeks to stock up on coffee and housekeeping products (washing machine liquid, foil, Domestos, etc). I enjoy food shopping and I want to like the shop in which I do it. A friend has just said that she asked the Manager of the Exeter branch of Waitrose if I could order online and have it delivered from his store and he said he didn’t see why not, but I will have to make further enquiries about this. I could then have an order occasionally for the things I can’t get in the other stores nearer to home. But nothing beats actually shopping in a food store we like, does it?

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