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Here Comes the Sun

Sunlight through tulips, early afternoon today

I love spring.  It is truly my favourite season. Autumn has its moments, but really, it is the dying of the year while I much prefer rebirth; when all the plants start to grow again rather than fade away.

As I said in my previous post, I feel energized and no more so than this morning. I woke early. I mean very early.  I won’t call it “silly o’clock” or “sparrow fart” because I think both phrases are, well, silly.  But it was before 5am and I was able to watch the sun rise over the sea.  Only just, because our neighbour has allowed his hedge – which separates his drive from our property – to grow too high again, so we now only have a glimpse of the sea when two years ago we had a reasonable view.  But, hey, the sea’s not going anywhere.  When he has his hedge cut again, our view will be restored.

I had woken early, about 3am and then husband woke and we had a cup of tea. This often ‘settles’ us again (like babies!) but while he slept I remained wide awake and then, about 4.20am decided enough was enough and I got up, made a fresh cup of tea and made myself comfortable (with a hot water bottle at my back and a warm throw over my knees) in the sitting room, and looked at back numbers of The English Home until it was … well, time for my first pot of coffee of the day.

The far end of our sitting/dining room only receives direct sunlight in the early morning as the window faces due  east, and this morning the sunshine poured in. I took this photo around 8am, by which time I was up, showered, and dressed.  Indeed, husband was also up and showered and dressed by then, and was making porridge for both of us while I took this photo.

We decided to go out early today and headed off towards St Marychurch, a village on the outskirts of Torquay, so that we could visit the Bazaar there.  This is a wonderful emporium which sells just about everything you could ever wish for.  We needed a new gas lighter for our gas hob.  Years ago, when the hob was new (in the year 2000) it would light automatically, but that facility has since gone and we use a gas lighter, but the one we had was old and had stopped working.

While in the Bazaar I also decided to buy some cream-coloured candles.  “You have loads of candles,” Someone said.  “Yes, I know!” (no point in arguing; it often takes the wind out of a complainant’s sails if you agree with them!)  “But it’s spring, and I like plain candles in spring and coloured in autumn and winter!”  (A good reason can often deflate any counter-argument!) So with that I bought some creamy-white candles and nothing more was said.  Margaret 1 Someone Nil.

We had parked our car in Cary Park, a short distance away – no parking fee and the walk does us good.  It was lovely to see the trees coming into leaf.

We then hummed and hawed where we might then go for coffee.  But we couldn’t think of anywhere really convenient.  It was quite chilly, in spite of the sunshine, otherwise we’d have opted for the Babbacombe Bay Hotel on Babbacombe Downs. But if we were cold in Cary Park, we’d be frozen walking on the Downs, with the wind coming straight off the sea.

And so we decided to pop into Waitrose, buy a few items and get our free coffee, and also buy some prawn mayo sandwiches and take these to Meadfoot Beach.

I feel quite depressed now when I go into Waitrose for I know these visits are coming to an end.  The store closes at the beginning of June.  It’s an utter waste of such a lovely store – it’s beautifully organized, spotlessly clean, has top quality goods, and today it looked as if the staff are pulling out all the stops so that in June they will go out with a bang and not a whimper.

Wine and chocolates for Mothering Sunday (I’m a traditionalist and it’s Mothering Sunday to me, not Mother’s Day)

It was very early in the day – we were in Torquay before 9.20am – hence few shoppers out and about, and the chillers looked so neat and tidy, everything looked pristine.

And this is just one side of the vegetable section (above). The fruit section is in another area entirely.  But how lovely and tidy and how fresh the vegetables look.  I would like Sainsbury’s to look and learn!

From Waitrose we drove to Wellswood and I popped into the Rowcroft Boutique (charity shop) with a basket of things I wanted to part with – a few books and two pairs of almost-new jeans.  I ‘d made the mistake of buying some grey jeans (Marks & Spencer).  Nothing wrong with them, but grey tends to look like a pair of black jeans that have been washed too often!  And the denim jeans (worn no more than twice) have either been cut or stitched incorrectly as when they were being worn they just felt uncomfortable, as if they were somehow twisted.

Naturally, I took some photos of the latest displays in the Rowcroft Boutique …

The staff must be congratulated on making a charity shop, which relies solely on donations for stock, to look as good as this.

After a brief visit to the Post Office close by for a magazine and some stamps, and into the pharmacy for nail polish remover, we drove the short distance to Meadfoot Beach with our coffee and prawn mayo sandwiches.

The sea was a beautiful pale blue today, as was the sky, but not a sign of the cormorants that we usually see. Perhaps it was too early for them to be fishing?  Perhaps they had nipped over to Brixham for even fresher fish off the trawlers?

‘Cormorant Corner’ Meadfoot Beach

We then returned home and one of my magazines had arrived in the post …

And so, with the magazine I’d bought, I now have two lovely magazines to enjoy later today …

Plus a bunch of double daffodils.

And with Period Living, a Garden supplement

And finally … on the hall table, a small posy of garden flowers.

The sun is still shining and the forecast it good for the next day or two, so I hope we will be able to do some more gardening.  And having coffee and cake in the summerhouse, of course!

Summerhouse last summer (that object outside the window is not ET – the Extra Terrestrial – but the trunk of our walnut tree)

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. Rest assured we are going out with a bang and not a whimper!! Fiona x

    • Margaret

      I see you have now been called Alison, Fiona! Oh dear, never mind, I’ve heard from Alison as well!
      Yes, Waitrose going out with a bang and definitely not a whimper! I think Waitrose are midding a trick here. Instead of pulling out, they should’ve bought a new site and built a new supermarket. Yes, it would’ve been expensive but one has to speculate to accumulate as they say, and there are sufficient people in Torbay for one really top notch supermarket that none of the others are delivering. I wish I knew the head of Waitrose, I’d certainly beard him or her on this point! I now they’ve lost the link with Ocado who have linked up with M&S, and profits are down with John Lewis (sister company), but we need really do need the excellence that Waitrose provided. I thought the store today looked lovely and if you can pass this message on to your manager(s) then please do so. Maybe the store isn’t feasible because it’s just not large enough, but if they’d sold both sites, Torquay and Teignmouth, surely with some careful planning and the right site, they could have a flagship West of England store in Torbay? People would’ve come from miles around just to shop there. I rest my case. And as I say on my post, I wish that Sainsbury’s could learn from Waitrose how to display their goods. Sadly, they don’t need to bother much, people going there just want to grab what they need and depart! Well, I know that I do. And don’t get me started on maroon and orange uniforms – who chose those? Obviously someone who is colour blind!

  2. It has been another lovely day here too, cool in the morning and again this evening, but warm enough this afternoon to sit outside and read. I do like that. Except someone not far away was using a power sander although I couldn’t tell who it was. Never mind. I think next week is supposed to go downhill so I’m determined to enjoy it while I can and I love being able to reliably dry the washing outside.

  3. Autumn is my favourite season for the colour and that indefinable smell in the air. I also like the transition into winter clothing. However, Spring follows a close second thanks to the promise of warmer weather, sunshine (today has been unusually warm for March, the early morning light and the wonders of nature as those plants which lay dormant start peeping through the soil. By now I’m also thinking of sandals, bare feet and polished toes. An appreciation of e changing seasons somehow becomes stronger as I get older.
    I felt as you do about Waitrose when it was announced that our town would lose M&S…..sad and a little bit cheated.

    • Margaret

      Yes, that’s just how I feel about the loss of Waitorse, sad and a little bit cheated as there is nowhere quite like it in which to shop. Never mind, we don’t starve. It’s a first world problem.
      Yes, autumn is a lovely season, indeed all the seasons have their merits, but spring is my favourite, it’s the sight of a bluebell wood, crocus at Dartington, magnolias in bloom, the tiny daffodils in the hedgerows. Even the dawn chorus which we don’t hear in autumn. I love to be up just as it’s getting light, around 5.20 at the moment, and listen to the birds. But yes, I prefer winter clothing to summer clothing (maybe because my elderly bod looks better well covered!)

  4. I do envy you your wonderful walnut tree – they are not so common and so lovely to have one in the garden of a relatively modern house – such character!

    • Margaret

      When we arrived here in 1985 a tree surgeon trimmed the tree for us. It has a preservation order on it, so of course, could not be moved when the builder acquired the land. It was in the garden of the former old property that was on the site and we were delighted when we learned it would be in our garden. It will be having a light ‘hair cut’ again shortly, just so that large branches do not overhang our roof – we have a very small garden and it’s a very large tree! But it gives us shade in summer, for which we are very grateful even if growing plants is very hit and miss, for such a tree grabs all the moisture and nutrients from the soil. But we have walnuts, too, unless of course the squirrels get them first. They can climb the tree, we can’t. we have to wait until the fall to the ground and sometimes that’s too late, they’ve been taken! But the squirrels rely on the nuts for their winter food store; we have Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, so we don’t mind sharing with them.

  5. I agree that the displays in that charity shop are always beautiful. My mother volunteers in a large charity shop in her town which stocks clothing (men, women, children), household items and furniture. They have one or two paid staff members and a troupe of loyal volunteers. Mum has been going there weekly for almost ten years and enjoys the social aspect immensely – they have a good camaraderie amongst the volunteers and many in the town frequent the store. She told me recently that ‘management’ has directed that all volunteers must now wear a ‘uniform’ of a white top and black trousers and all clothing stock in the shop must be displayed in blocks of similar colour. As the shop is run by a charity and all funds go to helping those in need, Mum and I were baffled as to how these measures are supposed to help increase their sales or morale within the store. This shop, to date, has kept their prices low and I hope will continue to do so.

    On another note, I wanted to thank you for your recommendation of ‘The Husband Hunters’ (amongst other books) by Anne De Courcy. I borrowed it from my library on Monday and am enjoying it immensely. It’s a wonderful account of social history in the late 19th century when American heiresses were crossing the Atlantic to secure themselves husbands of title. I loved ‘Downton Abbey’ which featured the American born Lady of the House and her adoring English Earl but I knew nothing of the ‘hundred young American heiresses married into the British aristocracy from 1874 to 1914’. Its a fascinating read – so much so that housework sits neglected all around me 😃 I’ve almost finished it.

    As always, your photos are beautiful.

    Lara xx

    • Margaret

      I can see the point of the charity shop – they are trying to bring it in line with general shops, asking the volunteers to wear a uniform so they actually look more professional. Also the colour-coordinared rails of clothes is how the Rowcroft shop looks and if a stranger wandered in, the first impression is of a lovely shop, not a charity shop at all, because it looks so good. I hope they will try this and eventually they might agree that it looks good, rather than displaying things by size. The sizes can be on the rail small at one end large at the other, but they might all be in tones of blue or red or green. I do think this looks good. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these measures resulted in more sales, but your mother will just have to wait and see if profits rise for the charity.
      I’m delighted you like the book, The Husband Hunters. Now you’ve read one of Anne de Courcy’s books, you might try others! They are all roughly from this period, from Victorian times to the 1950s, about 100 years. I am enjoying Margot at War, about the wife of the then Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith. He certainly had an eye for the ladies (but she was no saint, either.) Oh yes, I often read and let the housework go! We readers are all the same on that point, I think!
      Glad you like the photos! It’s a lovely day again today so we might go out for a while, but not sure yet … there is still gardening to do to get the garden in some kind of order after winter.

  6. Hello Margaret
    This general tidying up of charity shops – opportunity shops or op shops as they are known here in Australia- seems to be going on everywhere. There’s a good side to the neat and tidy trend and also one of regret. The places are becoming more like the photos you showed – and less like the ‘lovely’ Aladdin caves they used to be.
    Prices seem to be rising as well which makes it difficult for many – including those for whom the shop was intended – to afford what is donated.
    All those little unusual ‘nick nacks’ aren’t welcome- ‘who’s going to buy that’ I overheard one assistant say to another, just stick it in the bin’. It was a little china souvenir vase with Greetings from Margate on it. Yes, 1950s kitsch probably brought here years ago by a migrant. Junk to some, collectible to others.
    It’s good to hear you are feeling more energetic- enjoy your early sunny Spring days.
    Take care
    Cathy – not Pam Monks as the ‘name box’ is suggesting 😊

    • Margaret

      Another name change in the box, oh dear, Cathy, I can but apologise! But ‘Cathy’ has come through here, thank goodness.
      One good thing about the Rowcroft charity shops, as there are several in the area, is that each has a different style and one of them in particular in Babbacombe (and it is conveniently placed right oppositie my podiatrist, so I get a good mooch around there, too, after I have visited her!) is just like the Aladdin’s cave you mention, there are all kind of things there, nicely arranged but selling for very reasonable prices. And the goods, while nicely displayed, have all those little things such as the little souvenir vase you mention. I find that the various charity shops perhaps focus on different types of things, so that one we visited recently, also in Babbacombe, had a lot of children’s books and toys while the Rowcroft Boutique doesn’t have any. They take items in but then they are distributed to the various branches of the charity in the area. I think they have had to smarter up a bit, get rid of that ‘old clothes’ smell that so many charity shops used to have, as people are becoming more sophisticated in what they are looking for. They also need to up their prices as the charity – especially the hospice – relies solely on donations and it’s a very costly place to run. But I’m still finding their prices reasonable.

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