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Topsham

Today, we have been to Topsham, a small town situated on the River Exe just a few miles from the county city of Exeter.  I said to husband, “This beats going to work, doesn’t it?”  His grin said it all!

We go to Topsham so that we may visit the Quay Antiques’ Centre.  We weren’t looking for anything specific, but I have a mental list of things that, if I happen to see them, might find their way home with us; things such as quality linen or cotton table cloths, small salt spoons for my pair of amethyst glass table salts (see below) which are minus spoons …

and Fulham Pottery vases (these were made specifically with flower arrangers in mind.)  Also, if there happened to be an attractive canteen of silver-plated flatware and cutlery, that might find it’s way home with us, plus any items of yellow (but not pink) Vaseline glass.

But even if we don’t find any such items, the Quay Antiques’ Centre is a very nice place for a browse.  It’s in an old warehouse beside the River Exe, with antiques and collectables on three floors.

Not a pretty building, but it was a warehouse!

I could spend hours in there but husband soon gets back ache, standing around, looking in all the cases, so I have learned to scan very quickly.  And then I saw them, residing on a bottom shelf, half hidden by other items of pottery: six perfect Royal Worcester ‘Evesham’ design cups and saucers at just £3 each for a cup and saucer, a total of £18 for the lot.

Royal Worcester, Evesham design, cups and saucers

I wasn’t going to argue with that!  Yes, one might find them more cheaply at a boot fair but heaven’s above, these traders have to make a profit and I thought £18 a more-than-fair price for porcelain in perfect condition. Indeed, they looked to me as if they had been part of someone’s ‘best’ tea service, not even used (their undersides are pristine), they had a straight-from-factory look to them.  So, we bought those and they will replace our old ‘Evesham’ cups and saucers (also from the Quay Antiques Centre some years ago!) which have now lost much of their pattern and their gold-leaf edges.  Thank you, dishwasher!

(I don’t haggle in such places; I’m not on Bargain Hunt or Antiques Road Trip.  These TV programmes give a false impression of the kinds of discounts that are available.  Only dealers get discounts in such places and I’m not a dealer.  If I think a price is fair, I pay it.  If I think something is over-priced, I ask the person looking after the Centre (for there are about 38 individual traders selling things there) to ask the particular trader what is the best price he or she will accept?  Then, if they say “the marked price” it is up to me to decide whether I wish to pay that amount or not.)

We asked if we could leave the cups and saucers in the Centre so that we might seek out lunch somewhere, and off we went.  We decided on The Salutation where we had eaten in March, and again we thoroughly enjoyed our meal.  As before, we decided to share a platter, this time a medley of seven different cheeses, with chutney, crackers, bread, walnuts, grapes, butter, etc.  Please don’t ask me what the individual cheeses were –  I should’ve made a note of them (I usually photograph the menu) but I was enjoying myself so much I almost forgot to photograph the platter, let alone the menu.  This is actually a platter for one, but there was more than sufficient for two people in our opinion …

A cheese platter for one, as a main meal (bread was an extra) but we think this is sufficient for two people to share (you might, of course, disagree!)

The Salutation is a smart hotel which offers fine dining as well as the Glass House café, which is where we had our meal …

This would’ve been the carriage way in the days when horses and carriages would’ve been arriving at this old inn

A glimpse of the guest’s lounge

And so you can see me for once not in navy and white, but in …

black, with a coloured bead necklace, one I particularly like in shades of green, amber and purple (and a change of nail polish:  Sally Hansen’s Enchante, number 331).  This necklace was a charity shop find for less than the price of a monthly magazine, but I choose costume jewellery carefully and I sincerely hope that it doesn’t look as if it came out of a Christmas cracker.

As you can see the old girl needs a hair cut; my appointment is booked, but not for another two weeks when not only will it be trimmed but also highlighted and so I hope it will, once again, look more like it is on the header photograph to my blog. I can’t bear it when it goes all frizzy at the sides as grey hair is wont to do.  Fussy?  Moi?

It was a rather dull day today, and so we didn’t go for a walk around Topsham or by the River Exe.  Besides which, husband wasn’t well the day before yesterday and is still suffering a bit, and I was also suffering slightly, but I won’t elaborate.  Everyone is under the weather from time to time, and therefore I don’t mention our aches and pains on my blog; it’s far too boring!  I prefer to focus on the pleasant things in life.  I’m no Pollyanna, but I am pragmatic:  we all get aches and pains and upset tummies, why broadcast it? (Oh dear, by mentioning it, I am broadcasting it, am I not?  But this is just to explain why we didn’t go for a walk, not to moan about a few aches and pains and tummy troubles!)

But even though we didn’t have a walk, I will post a few photos here so that you can have a virtual walk around part of this lovely little town, with its Dutch-influenced gabled houses …

This photo above is the modern-day equivalent of the painting of Topsham in 1945 (leading photo).  A pity that there was scaffolding around one of the buildings, but the position from where I took this photo is where the artist would most likely have been positioned to paint her picture.

These photos were obviously taken on a warm, summer’s day.  Unlike today, which has been cloudy but still quite mild

And finally, a photo of the River Exe, just a few miles upstream from Exmouth and downstream from the city of Exeter  

Until next time.

Still coming soon:  Follies

About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
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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16 comments

  1. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Those amethyst salts are beautiful, my favourite colour, I know exactly what you mean on this programmes on the tv they are only giving them generous discounts as they are being advertised and promoted on the tv. Glad you managed to pick up something nice, I would quite happily spend an afternoon browsing in such places. I agree about the cheese platter I couldn’t eat that for lunch much to much for me.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I like the amethyst salts, too, Marlene. They belonged to my late mother and of course, she would’ve picked them up for a song somewhere. I don’t think the stands are silver, but they do polish up nicely, and the glass inserts are such a pretty shape. All the shades of purple which you like are not my favourite colours, but there isn’t any colour I actually dislike, much depends on how colours are used and what they are used for. For example, some cars look better painted certain colours than others. Some motor companies have the most hideous colours (possibly a colour-blind chap in charge of the paint dept!) and some have the most gorgeous shades – think of the lovely café au lait of some Fiat 500s!
      You would love the Antiques’ Centre in Topsham. I believe it was on Antiques Road Trip or some such programme a day or two ago, so elder son tells me. I’ve had some lovely items from there, but as I say, husband gets back ache standing around whereas I’d happily spend the day in there and look at every single shelf and cabinet!

  2. I love your amethyst salts! When I moved into the wee cottage that I’m renting, where space is precious, I went to an op-shop (charity shop) and bought some individual bits and pieces, from 1960s and prior, like an egg cup, cup, saucer and side plate, dinner plate, cereal/soup small bowl, and various other wee things. Because I really dislike modern crockery. I managed to find some vintage cups and saucers in an op shop recently, for my eldest who adores antiques and vintage, and they turned out to be part of a set of crockery that she was slowly accumulating! I love antique shops too, the smell of the wood, the memories that are invoked, so special. In my teens, I lived with my English grandmother, and we ate off antiques with all of society’s bits and pieces from bygone eras. There were also many antiques in the home, so I developed an ‘eye’ for them. My eldest just sort of ‘picked this up’ and I love to go to her farm where in every room there are pieces of old furniture. So your excursion sounds fantastic to me!!

    • Margaret Powling

      How lovely that you bought so many pieces for your small cottage from charity shops, Ratnamurti, as you were buying inexpensively (I presume) and also supporting good causes. And how coincidental you found those vintage cups and saucers for your eldest who was already collecting those wares, indeed, that you share a love of old things. Buying second-hand (or many-hand) is the ultimate in recycling, isn’t it?

  3. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    I have a Worcester ‘Evesham’ flan dish, a wedding present in 1976. It’s hopeless for pastry but great for making a lower-calorie crust less quiche! What a beautiful colour the amethyst said dishes are, so unusual. I have a great liking for coloured glass, particularly uranium green glass and pink pressed. I keep thinking about writing a post on it and took the photos in readiness weeks ago. There is a similar antiques centre with lots of traders in Ironbridge which I have visited many times, though more often when I lived in a Victorian house where the items I bought complimented my home!
    Like you I enjoy finding nice costume jewellery. I have a favourite pair of silver coloured earrings which have embossed pagodas and were brought back from Japan in the 1950s by my mother.
    Topsham looks very pretty.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, as I mentioned, ceramic wares aren’t really suitable for baking in although they are marketed thus. You need good quality tins for baking so that there is good heart-transference.
      Those earrings sound lovely, embossed pagodas from Japan! All you need now is a kimono, Eloise!

  4. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Salt dishes, not said!!

  5. I agree, you cannot argue with £18 for a set of six cups and saucers from Royal Worcester and just think of the pleasure you will have from drinking tea from them. Please rotate them in your cupboard so you give the set even wear. When I visited Worcester with my family nearly 20 years ago I bought as a souvenir an 18th century tea bowl and saucer made by Flight and Barr who started the Worcester factory in the 1770s when the recipe for making English porcelain was in its infancy and a closely guarded secret. There is a fascinating book on the history of English porcelain which I think you would enjoy. It’s not the one by Edmund de Waal published a couple of years ago, but a quick search has failed to find the title. My copy came from the library. Anyway I digress, my tea bowl and saucer which cost me no more than £10 was hand moulded and delicately painted inside and outside and even gilded and so fine that when you hold it up to the light it is translucent. My most recent ceramic purchase this summer is a set of eight perfect coffee cups and saucers made by Wedgwood in 1957 and the pattern is called Summer Skies. They cost me £12 in a charity shop and I’ve used them for serving chocolate mousse and lemon posset as well as for after dinner coffee. Actually not quite the most recent as I bought for my student daughter a pair of Purbeck pottery plates in the pattern Toast and they were 50p each. She loves them as they are from the 1970s which is very ‘now’ ! I honestly don’t know why anyone starting a home would buy new ceramics when there are such gorgeous bargains to be had secondhand. Please don’t ask me about my varied collection of secondhand glass crystal which we use every day. Beautiful handmade crystal is such a pleasure to use and costs much less than the cheapest bottle of wine! Finally a confession: I am almost 57 and have never been to IKEA or a car boot sale!

    • Margaret Powling

      I love the story of the search for the recipe for hard paste porcelain, Sarah! I have even written about it myself, and how lovely that you have an early piece of Worcester! The person who really was responsible for English porcelain of the Chinese style, not soft paste porcelain, was William Cookworthy of Kingsbridge, here in Devon, but although he searched long and hard for the formula, his own factory was only in production in Plymouth for about 2 years and then it was moved lock, stock and barrel to Bristol, where it didn’t last much longer. I love the story of ceramics; so many people lump pottery and porcelain together, but it’s porcelain that intrigues me the most.
      What a good idea to serve coffee mousses in our coffee cans! I have a set by Royal Doulton, they are so pretty, but seldom do people use coffee cans today for their original purpose. I’ve had amuse bouche (soups) in restaurants before served in coffee cans, but seldom coffee!
      Snap, I have never been to IKEA or a car boot sale, either!!! And we have a variety of old cut glass from which to drink! And I am much older than you, dear girl, just add another 16 (say it quickly) years! I use cut crystal even for my treat of bottled Badoit or Pellegrino water (we don’t drink it all the time, but we have a couple of bottles each week as we seldom drink wine; not for any other reason than we simply aren’t keen on wine; if we have a drink at all, we prefer a G&T.) But you are right – why buy new when 2nd hand quality items are so inexpensive (well, for the most part!)
      PS John Sandon has written an excellent book on Porcelain and it’s published by Shire Books (now owned by Bloomsbury Publishing.)

  6. I saw your picture before I saw the caption – I thought, “what?! where’s the navy?!” Haha! Love seeing your pictures and reading your “talk” about all of your excursions!

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, how funny – you spotted the black long-sleeved T-shirt before I had even mentioned it! I had black cotton jeans on, too, and they have some black studs on the back pockets. I sometimes wear a tan leather belt with the black ensemble and tan shoes, sometimes all black and then I can choose a different scarf or necklace. I had my red trench with me that day as the weather looked a bit iffy, but we didn’t have any rain. The only minor sartorial prob with my red trench is that it has a blue floral lining (a very pretty lining) so it is best worn with my blue clothes than with m black clothes. As I say, “Fussy? Moi?”

  7. Thank you for another lovely outing.
    I was wearing a black top and black bottoms (knee length shorts) today, too. Twins ! I don’t often wear black – it can sometime make me look/feel drained these days and navy is more flattering for me plus our ginger and white cat has fur that gets onto everything, even more so if wearing black ha ha.
    Your tea set looks lovely and I think the price was very good.

    • Margaret Powling

      How coincidental we were both wearing black, Lara. Yes, it can make you look (and feel) drained at times, but I try and jolly it up with a pretty necklace or scarf. I almost wore a rather jazzy scarf when we went to Topsham, rather Art Deco in its appearance, but decided on the bead necklace instead. How strange that navy, another dark colour, usually enhances someone’s appearance when black drains them of colour.

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