Saturday, 13 July 2013

A Tenner in My Pocket - Magdalen Road

Well known for its independent spirit and friendly atmosphere, Magdalen Road can satisfy most needs in one neat little street. Insiders A & B spent a lovely couple of hours there one sunny Friday checking out what £10 will get you. Rather a lot, as it turns out…

Gifts & Homewares

Whether you’re on the hunt for the perfect present or looking for yourself, Magdalen Road will not let you down. For vintage and retro-styled homewares, Bel Green is a gem (it’s also a café, should you need a pit-stop). 

Remember those bowls your granny made steamed puddings in? Well, Bel Green stocks those, among many other delights, with lots of lovely stuff for under £10, including a classic hand mirror (£9.50), a pair of TG Green soup pots for £9, handmade pottery mugs for £9.50, tea towels for £6.50. Tonnes of stuff. And although they overstep the funds by 50p, the Rob Ryan mugs are ideal for when you need A REALLY BIG CUP OF TEA.

At Leela, we were rather taken with these glass bud vases for £4.95(and the sweet peas smelled incredible). 

Devon jeweller Ruby Horologie makes these quirky and original pendants and earrings (£10) that have watch parts inside tiny phials. And just in case the weather turns, you can buy two pairs of Bamboo Socks for £9.

Leaf Street specialises in bespoke, local handmade gifts, and is one of those brilliant shops where you are guaranteed – GUARANTEED – to find the perfect present for even the most troublesome person. We love these mugs (£10) and coasters (£7.50) by Exeter-based Giddy Sprite. There are also cute fabric badges (£6.95) by Poppy Treffry. Don’t forget to look downstairs, where there is pre-loved clothing for sale.

And who doesn’t love a bunch of blooms? At St Leonard’sFlowers there were delphiniums for £3.50 and sunflowers for the same price, and a generous mixed bunch with a gloriously vivid gerbera at its centre for £9.50.

And if those lovely flowers put your walls to shame, check out eco champions Earthborn Paints, which are free from dangerous chemicals and come in a range of gorgeous colours with excellent names like Paw Print, Fruit Salad and Smidgen. You can pick up a tester pot for £4.25 at Duo Interiors.

Food & Drink

Morning coffee never tasted so good as at Café Magdalen, where a perfectly made flat white (£2.20) plus a diet-busting slice of moist lemon Victoria sponge (£2.20) set us up for our shopping challenge. They serve delicious lunches, too (and MASSIVE veggie breakfasts) all of which come in well under budget, but we just had time to stock up on Tea Pig Darjeeling (15 pack from £3.49) before heading off.

With a deli, a bakery, a butcher and a fishmonger, as well as a grocer, Magdalen Road really is foodie heaven. Gibson’s Plaice (fish landed daily at Brixham) more than met our challenge to come up with a two-course supper for two for under a tenner: either scallops (75p each) or ½ kilo of mussels (£3) to start, followed by two whole lemon sole for £5.

For ethically produced meat of the highest quality, pop across the road to multi-award-winning Pipers Farm, where you can combine slices of black pudding (£1 each) to your scallop starter – which is a great pairing – or go for chicken dressed with lemon, garlic and thyme for £8.90.

Would you like wine with your dinner, madam? What a daft question… At Smith’s Wines & Spirits, the welcome is as warm as the stock is as varied and budget-friendly. 

Ian stocks more than 50 wines that come in at under £10, and suggested a Chilean Pedro Ximenex (£8.20) as the perfect accompaniment for our fish main course and a L’aristocrate viognier (£9.15) as the ideal match for the chicken. Too tired to cook your own meal? From August, you’ll be able to get a glass of wine and a plate of food for £10, when Ian launches his Cheeky Midweek Suppers at the shop (Tues-Thurs, 6-9pm). What will be on the menu? “Whatever I’ve cooked,” says Ian, who then insisted that we share his BLT lunch, which was delicious, so if that’s anything to go by the Midweek Suppers are going to be a real treat (regardless of the food, you’re in for a great night; Ian is a fantastic host, which you’ll know if you’ve ever been to one of the Magdalen Road Food Safaris, which he runs in conjunction with Pipers Farm, Gibson’s Plaice, Café Magdalen and a visiting chef). Ian’s BLT was on sourdough bread from Oliver's, the new bakery next door. It was so good that we rushed straight round and immediately bought a loaf each (£1.23!).

At E.M. Hills & Sons greengrocers, you can stock up on your five a day for well under a tenner. Look at these redcurrants for £1.79 a punnet – like summer in a box!

At Bon Gout, we found a box of our favourite chocs – salted caramel – for £7.99. And then we had to try the salted caramel ice cream (£2 for a cone); I have to admit that I actually drooled, which says all you need to know about how tasty it is. There’s so much here that fit our criteria – including fruit-packed jams by Waterhouse Fayre for £3.55 – and that’s before we even looked at the deli counter, where there’s anti-pasti, cheese, cured meats… oh, just go in.

Is it time for lunch yet? Oh good, because at The SaltyPigeon you can get two courses – homemade soup of the day or a goat’s cheese salad to start followed by steak and chips or seafood/vegetarian tagliatelle – for £9.95. Bargain. And they have local wines from Sharpham and Kenton on the menu, too.


Time for a pampering session? Call in to Visage House to check out Brenda Anvari’s products, which are all paraben-free and animal-friendly. The hand cream (£9.95) is scented with rosemary and grapefruit and fairly zings with frisky freshness. And don’t leave without having a sniff of the new pomegranate, raspberry and patchouli eau de parfum – it’s like summer in a bottle. In fact, the whole shop (there are treatment rooms out back where you can really indulge yourself) is a sensory explosion, with creams and candles, lotions and potions, all in fresh, summery scents.

At Zamora, there are great offers on treatments if you need some pampering (20% discounts for students, 10% for nurses, teachers and senior citizens), and an eyebrow tidy & shape comes in at a very budget-friendly £9 – very handy until the mono-brow comes back into vogue. For a beauty night at home, you can pick up a pot of Nourish face mask for £10.

And the wild card…

With its amazing antique clocks and time-related paraphernalia, not much comes in at under a tenner at Prime Time, but you can get watch straps and some batteries… and it’s worth a visit just for the peaceful ticking.

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