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A Special Day

The 10th October fifty three years ago was a special day, so today has been our 53rd anniversary 

And in case you’re wondering, my small bouquet (as was the fashion of the day) was orchids, freesias and stephanotis, and it smelt wonderful

So today was a special day but we don’t tend to go mad and have huge celebrations, it’s not our style.  So we got up late, husband made breakfast for us (and he’s learning to lay the table properly – it has taken him 53 years but we’re getting there!) and then we decided we’d drive to Topsham, the little town on the River Exe between the city of Exeter and the seaside town of Exmouth.  I have written posts on Topsham and the Antiques Centre before, so those of you who have read those pieces, please bear with me.

This photo (taken on another visit to Topsham, in summer) shows the River Exe looking downstream towards the holiday town of Exmouth at the mouth of the river.  While in the Quay Antiques Centre I happened upon a range of greetings cards by a local artist, John Abraham (www.johnabrahamartist.co.uk) and I think his work is beautiful. I only bought one card, showing much the same view as above.

I love Quay Antiques and rarely do I come away empty handed.  Today, I happened upon two small items, but they aren’t for us.  They are for a lady who has a standard poodle that she adores and, like most people with a special pet, she collects all kinds of pottery and porcelain poodles, too.  How could I resist these, the tiny one is a Wade Whimsy and the larger one is by a company called Leonarde (which, I confess, I’d not heard of.)

I have a pretty box for them to go in.  I like to give people unexpected presents, even small things like this, when it’s neither their birthday nor Christmas, as it’s such fun to give people a surprise!  I shall tell her, of course, that if these items aren’t to her taste she is fully at liberty to dispose of them!

As we wandered round the various displays, all of them attractively set out and showing some rather tempting items.

And then husband called me to over to a display where there were items of silver-plated table ware, some of which were the same make and pattern as our table ware, i.e. Oneida’s Hampton Court pattern.  We bought ours in 1972 and it had been in use every day since then and we had lost a fork and a knife along the way.  Indeed, we bought some stainless steel flatware and cutlery several years ago, but it’s so heavy we’ve seldom used it. Indeed, I think it will go to the charity shop before long for someone with less-weak wrists to enjoy!

There were all the large knives and forks, and also the soup spoons, but we seldom need the large ones, nor the soup spoons for guests, but the smaller dessert knives, forks and spoons we thought would come in very handy (no pun intended!)  They were in bundles of six, and at £14 a bundle I thought it was worth asking for a small discount.  The kind lady on the desk suggested a £2-a-bundle discount, so I bought all this silver-plated ware, and in very good condition for £36.  We are delighted, and what a lovely way to celebrate our anniversary!

We then walked from Quay Antiques into the little town, which has lots of interesting buildings and shops.  One building always reminds me of Lamb House in Rye, which was, at one time, writer E F Benson’s home and where some of his Mapp & Lucia stories were written.

It isn’t exactly like Lamb House, but in red brick, it certainly reminds me of it.  I have seen Lamb House, now in the care of the National Trust, but on the occasions we have been in Rye it has been on a day when Lamb House was closed.

Further up the town yet more shops …

This is a very nice cook’s shop, selling all kinds of things you didn’t know you wanted until you looked in the window!


There is just one thing that Topsham doesn’t have and that is a bank.  The last one closed recently. There used to be three banks in the town, a Nat West, a Barclays and a Lloyds.  Now the nearest banks are in the city of Exeter or the coastal town of Exmouth.  Stock up on the readies before you visit Topsham, or make sure you have your plastic with you.

Not a very good photo, but a lovely bookshop and I couldn’t help noticing that the books had been co-ordinated for autumn, not by content but by colour.

We gradually made our way to The Salutation, where we have eaten twice before.  I couldn’t help but notice a lovely display of flowers on the heavily carved door, no doubt a door that is centuries old and was used to close the carriageway to this former coaching inn.

This would’ve been the carriageway for when this was a coaching inn

It is my guess that there had been a wedding reception or even an actual wedding held here recently, and they had left this pretty floral display for others to enjoy.

We decided to have what we had on our previous visit, a cheese board for two to share, with an extra portion of bread, with a pot of tea for two.

This doesn’t look a huge amount, but with the bowl of bread, and the tea, it was more than sufficient for the two of us for lunch.  Behind the bowl (photo above) in which are parmesan wafers and toasted fruit bread, is a bowl of delicious chutney.

As we were leaving one of the chefs came into the hall and returned some pastries from a chiller in the entrance. I said to him how much I had enjoyed our light lunch and then I then asked him how he’d made the walnut halves on the platter so tasty?  He said (in broken English, as he was French) that he just added sugar and toasted them in a frying pan, and obviously waited until the sugar caramelized.   I thought he’d perhaps used honey, but no, just a little sugar and gently toasting them.  Simple, but a lovely way to serve walnut halves with cheese.  The small pink cubes are quince jelly and totally delicious.

The tea pot is a lovely shape, but it was rather heavy (especially when filled with tea) and a little bit awkward to pick up – husband had to pour for us.

We then strolled back to our car and drove home.

Later in the afternoon, a knock on the door.  It was elder son and grandson, just calling in (on the way to collecting daughter in law from work) with a lovely bouquet of flowers from him and our daughter in law, and our darling grandson had insisted he wanted to give Granny and Granddad a bunch of his flowers, too, so he chose the roses himself.  Aren’t they all lovely?  And younger son phoned us, too, to wish us a happy anniversary – we will see him and his partner within the next few days.

And now to make supper.  Lasagne again as I wasn’t able to put the two lasagnes I made recently into the freezer because of lack of space, so they have had to be used up quickly as they were only in the fridge.  I hope this state of affairs will be alleviated when we have the new freezer – arriving on Monday –  in the garage.  Smacked wrists if after that I don’t batch bake!!!

In all, a lovely day!   We also received a lovely anniversary card from our bridesmaid who lives in Canada – every year this darling woman, my dearest friend who introduced me to my husband, remembers our special day and her card invariably arrives bang on time.

How lucky we have been, not just today, but for 53 years.

Until next time.





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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  1. I got quite happily teary eyed, reading this, Margaret!! You are both an inspiration, and make me believe in love. I’m sure that life hasn’t been 100% easy, because no one’s ever is, but reading your blogs it is obvious that you are both a team and that you both frequently do random acts of consideration for each other. So lovely. Congratulations.

    • Margaret Powling

      You have read between the lines, Ratnamurti. Life has had it’s ups and downs, mainly through no real fault of our own – my cancer and Chris’s heart surgery and he currently has prostate cancer but it’s very slow growing at his age, so he’s currently not having treatment. But overall, we consider ourselves very fortunate – we both had happy home lives and we have stayed happily married and brought up our boys in what I consider to have been a loving family home, and they have good relationships with their partners, too. We don’t feel smug about this, just grateful that we are still together when so many of our friends’ marriages fell by the wayside. I think you have summed us up so well, that we are a team. We have always said we are a team, that’s how we describe ourselves. We both have strengths and weaknesses, but fortunately the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. We have, as I say, been fortunate. Thank you so much for your good wishes.

    • Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

      What lovely comments, Ratnamurti. I echo exactly what you have said.

  2. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Happy Anniversary, what a wonderful day you have had, I would really enjoy the antiques centre, love the cutlery, I even like the poodle I am sure the recipient will love it. What beautiful flowers from your family. Now you know what to do with all those walnuts you get from your tree, I love toasted nuts brings out a lovely flavour, I roasted a cauliflower the other day in olive oil with chopped hazelnuts and it was gorgeous. Glad you had a lovely day

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I am beginning to like the Poodle, too, Marlene! I don’t tend to buy things which I refer to as ‘knick knacks’ rather than ‘antiques’ which is really snobbish, I know. Had I not been seeking a poodle for this person I’d have not given this little ornament a 2nd glance, but now I have it and see how it’s been modelled I can see it’s appeal. I suppose, in a way, it’s a modern version of the Staffordshire figures that the Victorians loved, they were all for such things – the more ‘stuff’ they acquired it was a demonstration of their being upwardly mobile as we’d say today. “Things” indicated that they spare money for not just food and rent.
      As for walnuts from our tree, they are but a sad memory. The squirrels have raided the tree for the 2nd year in a row. Not one for us, not a single nut.
      I’ve never roasted cauliflower, so I will try that! And yes, the flowers are lovely. Tomorrow, I think, will be a day at home to regroup, as the saying now goes! Don’t quite know what it means, but it sounds good, ha ha!

  3. Happy Anniversary to you both, Margaret! Your special day sounded perfectly lovely! Bess

  4. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Well what a lovely day out to celebrate your anniversary. I have said before that your love of day to day life shines through your posts and here is a perfect example. Fifty three years is a wonderful achievement. Many, many congratulations. The antiques centre is the sort of place I could wander around in and lose several hours. Your friend will be very touched by the thoughtfulness behind the poodle gift, and what a stroke of luck to find the cutlery and on your special day too. It was meant to be.
    As soon as I saw the floral decoration on the door, I thought ‘wedding’ and then read that this was your assumption too. No doubt, I reckon.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, we had a lovely day. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but we really don’t know where 53 years has gone! We could never have imagined what it would’ve been like 53 years ago when I walked up the aisle (well, really the nave, but we say aisle, don’t we?) to meet Chris in front of the altar, to be married. But we sort of just got on with life, never taking each other for granted. We had no idea then that Chris would be able to do so many jobs around the house (he even built an extension to our previous home) or that I would end up as a writer and a reasonably good cook (I say “reasonably” because I don’t do fancy cooking, no cup cakes in our house with ‘sprinkles’ … and in my day these were referred to as “hundreds and thousands”, but I have to move with the times, so no ‘sprinkles’ here!
      I am now going to search for some pretty tissue paper in which to wrap the poodles!

  5. Happy Anniversary Margaret. It looks like you had a wonderful day. Your lovely wedding photo brought back memories of my cousin’s wedding in 1964. I was a bridesmaid and her veil was exactly like your veil. And, your Oneida silverplate looks exactly the same pattern as my mother’s Community silverplate. But, she bought it long before you did. I’ll have to research this pattern a bit. It’s so kind to you to buy your dear friend something that she will like. It’s always fun to give versus be given. I’m sure she will cherish these little figurines. Have a wonderful rest of your week. Sending you hugs from southern California, Pat

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Pat. Yes, short ‘bouffant’ veils were popular then and while that would look totally unfashionable today, I think I could get away with my Empire-line dress which was in guipure lace and had a train as well, I thought it was beautiful. I never wanted a full-skirted dress, I didn’t wish to look like a meringue on my wedding day!
      As for the Oneida, yes, it was called Community silverplate, I think. Oneida made about four different designs and they had been producing them long before I bought ours in 1972.
      I have been thinking of the two pottery poodles, and I shall tell the recipient that the larger one is Peggy the Poodle and the small one is her puppy, Pippin! I mean, how daft can I get, Pat?
      Thank you for your good wishes for our anniversary, all the way from southern California!

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Pat, and yes, ‘bouffant’ veils like I wore were very popular in the early 1960s. I’d not wear that style veil today, but I would still choose an Empire-line dress I think. I loved my wedding dress, it was in guipure lace and had a train, too, which isn’t really shown in the photographs. But it does demonstrate that once I was slim!
      The pattern of the silverplate had been going quite some time, I believe, when I bought it. From what I remember, there were about four different patterns and I liked this one the best, one of them was more curvaceous with a rose emblem, but I thought it looked like it might go out of fashion rather more quickly than the Hampton Court design.
      I was thinking about the two poodles last night. I thought the large one should be called Peggy the Poodle and the little one is her puppy, Pippin. How daft can I get?
      Thank you for your good wishes from southern California.

  6. Sorry for a second comment but I think I found the answer here to your silverplate vs my mother’s silverplate; https://silverseason.wordpress.com/tag/oneida-community/ I believe my mother would have bought her set in the 1940’s. It’s been around for as long as I can remember and I now have this set to pass down to my children. Don’t you love the history behind these much loved items?

    • Margaret Powling

      Wow, Pat! Thank you so much for researching that pattern of silverware! I had no idea the pattern was as old as that. I have always known it as the Hampton Court pattern, but as that wonderful building has royal connections, perhaps the name has a variation in our two countries? Yes, I really do love to know the history of such things, I find it fascinating.

  7. Happy Anniversary to you both for yesterday Margaret, may you have many more. What a fortuitous find that cutlery was on your special day, have to say that antiques centre looks smashing and I could easily while away a few hours in there, we have something similar in the old Maltings building in Ely with the added bonus of a cracking tea shop just a few steps away, it would be rude not to.
    That cheese board looked delicious and what a good idea those walnuts are, might have to borrow that one.

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, Elaine, how lovely to live near such a wonderful cathedral! I remember my first visit and looked up into the octagon and wondered how on earth it had been constructed, and out of oak trees … truly remarkable. Thank you so much for your good wishes for yesterday, we did have a most enjoyable day. Yes, I can see us all now putting a little sugar into a pan (with perhaps a smidgen of butter?) to caramelize walnuts! They really were lovely, and great with cheese.

  8. Happy Anniversary, you seem like such a lovely couple. Yesterday was my son’s birthday (35) which seems impossible to me!

    Regarding there being no bank in Topsham, if you need cash you can usually get it from a post office, that’s what I do from the tiny post office in our local McColls newsagents.

    I’m glad you had such a good day out, you both deserve it.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, it will seem impossible that our son is 35, I know the feeling, our elder son is now 48 and our younger son 44. How come I have middle-aged sons? I’m far too young, ha ha! Thank you so much for your good wishes and also for reminding me you can get cash in a post office. Fortunately, there is a post office in Topsham – at least I saw a sign for one! And a lot of places now have cash machines with free withdrawals, too.
      It’s a day at home today, cleaning and desk work.

  9. Congratulations on your 53rd Anniversary! Sounds like you had a very pleasant day out in Topsham. I have never been there, will have to put it on my list of places to visit. Blessings to you both and may you have many more happy Anniversaries x

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Dot, for your good wishes. Topsham is a lovely little town, just four miles from Exeter. It is known mainly for the lovely Dutch-gabled houses and their pretty gardens which go right up to the River Exe. There are some nice places to eat, too, The Salutation, where we went, being one of them. And the Antiques Centre is lovely. Parking is difficult but there is a town car park, although quite a small one, and some parking on the Quay near the Antiques Centre.

  10. Happy Anniversary Margaret. Your happy marriage shines through your writing. I’ve only been married for 25 years (our special day was 10 September) but even so I appreciate your reminders about what makes a happy marriage. Here’s to many more happy years. Also may I say that I loved the simple elegance of your wedding gown. I wore a lavender-grey wool crepe suit and carried a posy of white roses, white freesias, tiny eucalyptus leaves and gypsophila made by my mother for my Register office ceremony. I was never a white meringue girl!

    • Margaret Powling

      That is a coincidence as the 10th September is my birthday! I was married just a month after my birthday. For our 25th anniversary husband and I had lunch at the hotel on Burgh Island, which is off the coast of South Devon, and it has been made famous as it’s been in some of Agatha Christie’s Poirot films, its an Art Deco style building. For our 50th, three years ago we had a family meal in a lovely thatched pub.
      Your own wedding outfit sounds lovely. My mother wore a grey dress and coat for her wedding, but of course March 1940 was when we were at war and material was hard to get. Dad was married in his RAF uniform. And what a lovely bouquet that sounds, all in white, so pretty, and the scent of the freesias would’ve been delightful.
      Thank you for your kind word re our marriage; yes, we have been fortunate as our marriage is a happy one. WE argue, who doesn’t, but that’s normal! He just does as he’s told in the end, ha ha!

  11. 🍸Happy belated anniversary wishes🍸to you both,you deserve it and many more to come,best wishes Margaret

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you so much, Margaret. All the readers who leave comments have been very kind in wishing husband and myself very best wishes, I’m most grateful.

  12. Congratulations and happy anniversary to you both. I love hearing (and reading) of couples who have been happily married for decades. Two of my aunties have been married for 48 and 44 years respectively, to wonderful men (my uncles) whom I adore. Both couples married young (my aunties were 21 and 19), have grown up children, run businesses, endured all that life has thrown at them (illnesses, etc) and they are still each other’s best friends. I don’t get to see them often these days as I moved away from my home town but when I’m with either couple I adore the company. You (and they) are proof that love, trust, respect and friendship can last in a marriage, as so many marriages don’t make it.

    The silverware was an excellent (and practical) gift for yourselves 🙂 Those little poodles are very sweet.

    Thank you for sharing your wedding photos. I love seeing what people wore in decades past, especially for special occasions. Wedding photos capture the fashions of the day just so, don’t they.

    I wish you and your husband many more happy years together. Your sons are very lucky to have such a solid foundation xxx

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, Lara, it was lovely hearing about your two aunties and their marriages, and how their marriages have lasted as ours has done. I don’t know what the secret it and I guess that husband and I just struck lucky, we had no idea when we married that we could complement each other in the way we do. He’s practical and (so he says) I’m the artistic one, the homemaker. Perhaps we fall into what I call the Peter and Jane roles as advocated by the Ladybird books of the 1950s, me in the kitchen and he in the garage! But there is nothing wrong, I don’t think, with doing what we each do best, but we do laugh at it when he’s out there fixing the mower if it fails to work, and I’m pegging out the washing! We call this, as I’ve mentioned before, our “Peter and Jane moments.” I was only just 20 years and one month when we married, but I had a full time responsible job and a home of my own to run. I’m not sure I know many 20 year olds today who would manage, but life was much simpler in 1964, fewer distractions – no colour TV, no smart phones with zillions of “Apps” for a start. And our homes were simpler to run, too, with few gadgets – no coffee makers, no microwaves – we didn’t have a fridge for a year and a washing machine (then considered a luxury!) for four years (I washed our clothes in the sink in the kitchen.) But we pulled together and that is what people who really love each other do, and for us it has worked. We didn’t know it would, we hoped it would, but who at 20 can really imagine what 53 years of marriage together could possibly be like?
      Thank you so much for your kind good wishes, I’m glad you enjoyed seeing the two wedding photos – we only had two in colour as these were very expensive 53 years ago, all the rest are in black and white.

  13. A very happy anniversary to you both!

  14. Happy Anniversary! I enjoyed reading about your celebrations and it was fun to see your wedding photos. 10 October this year marked 25 years since my now husband proposed marriage to me, and he surprised me with a lovely card and a book I’ve been wanting to read. So it was fun to read that the 10th is a very special day for you and your husband, too.


    • Margaret Powling

      How lovely that the 10th October is a special day for you, too, Christie! Indeed, the 10th (or multiples of ten) features quite a lot in our family, and my birthday is a 10th, too. How wonderful that your husband remembered the day and gave you such a lovely token of his love a card and a book you had been wanting. Thank you for your good wishes.

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