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Two Go To Topsham

If this is Devon in January, then I’m a happy bunny.  What could be nicer? Warm enough not to require more than a winter coat, a warm scarf and ankle boots rather than snow shoes or even a bathing suit; a climate not really cold nor disgustingly hot.  My kind of place.  Add to that a silver river, silken and serene, with sunshine sparkling on the water, an antiques’ centre in which to browse, and the welcoming Salutation Inn for lunch … well, who needs ‘abroad’? I certainly don’t.  I can’t help it but I just love England, I love Devon, and I particularly love Topsham.  And  Topsham is where husband and I went today.

Regular readers might recall I’ve written about the antiques’ centre in Topsham before and I apologise if this refrain is getting a trifle boring, but when you enjoy a place, well you do tend to go there again and again, don’t you?

We parked our car and strolled down to the quay from where I took the above photo at the back (or is it the front?) of the antiques’ centre.  This view is looking downstream along the River Exe to Exmouth. The sun was so bright I couldn’t actually see anything, I just pointed my camera in a general direction.  The view below is of the opposite side of the river, oh so calm and blue …

As I mentioned previously, the quay antiques’ centre was originally a warehouse but has been an antiques centre for a couple of decades, with antiques and collectables on three floors.  It’s not a pretty building, but warehouses rarely are. However, I like it’s red-brick sturdiness.

It might be plug-ugly, but inside there is so much to see.  Indeed, I’m glad husband was with me to keep a check on what I might’ve otherwise bought!  “Are you sure you really need another …” is a much-uttered sentence, just adding whatever I happened to be looking at so longingly.

I don’t particularly like dolls (indeed, I don’t like dolls!) and I don’t have a penchant – as some women do – for having fluffy toys on the bed or sitting in a little pram, but I find these little teddy bears rather appealing.  But they only look appealing as they’re lined up here; I wouldn’t want to disturb them and take just one home; one would look silly in our home, a little bear without his companions. I couldn’t bear that (sorry!)

I also liked this display of Staffordshire figures but, again, I liked seeing it here; I wouldn’t have wanted to have bought any of them … some things only look good as collections, not as single items.  Whereas some things look perfectly splendid as single items.

And then I spied something I really did like.  A pair of cut glass salts.  While the last thing I need are another pair of salts, I thought “I don’t need to use them as salts, they are simply cut glass oblong dishes, ideal for chutney or olives!” And at £5 for the two, I bought them.  I mean, a fiver!  What can you get for that?  A few pence change from a monthly magazine?  A bunch of flowers?  Perhaps two plastic boxes in Asda?  These are Victorian cut glass, perfect condition.  For a fiver.  I rest my case.

I haven’t even washed them yet, I just wanted to show them to you.  I should’ve placed a coin next to them to give you some idea of size, but they are a little under three and a half inches long.  Ideal for the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

As on the previous occasions when we were in Topsham, we lunched at The Salutation, in the Glasshouse restaurant.

The glassed-in carriage-way of this restaurant/hotel, where we had our lunch

As before we opted for a sharing cheese platter with additional bread and olives, and a pot of tea.

A sugar bowl complete with sugar tongs (who says no one uses these any more!)

Bread, butter and olives, an extra with our cheese platter

All the cheeses – and please don’t ask me to repeat what our waiter said they were! – are English and, for the most part, from the South West (Devon, Cornwall, Somerset.) The chutney is delicious, as are the caramelized walnuts.  This doesn’t look much, but believe me, once we’d polished off the bread, the parmesan biscuits, the olives and the cheese, we felt we’d been royally fed.

After that we strolled back for one last look at the buildings by the river before driving home.

I love this building, red brick glowing in the January sunshine accented by blue shutters

Not mine, I’m afraid (but there again, I’d not want it, even if it was given to me; lovely it might look, but I’m no sailor!)

Once home, I put the kettle on and we had a lovely strong cup of tea, and when I picked up the post which had arrived one item was the DVD of the film Hampstead, which I’d been longing to see, so I decided not to tackle the pile of ironing but simply to finish of what has been a lovely day by watching it.  It was an absolute joy so if you’ve not seen this film and get the opportunity to do so, it comes highly recommended. Yes, it’s pure escapist stuff, but what’s wrong with that on a January afternoon?

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. A beautiful day! The buildings – I love the look of them, too. A blue day, sun shining….. does wonders for the spirit. You do indeed live in a very special part of England. I have a few pieces of crockery that I’ve picked up at charity shops, that I use for butter and spreads. I love them, they are so small and beautifully crafted. The glass salts are charming. Why are they called “salts”, I wonder?

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Ratnamurti, and yes, it was a lovely visit to Topsham on a blue-sky day. Salts are called that as they were made for salt, simple as that, long before we had salt shakers. I have another two pairs of salts, I don’t know why but they always seem to be in pairs, just as salt and pepper shakers are in pairs today, but they are smart and will look lovely on the table, regardless of what I use them for. Yes, charity shops are often wonderful places where you can find all kinds of crockery at very reasonable prices.

  2. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    What a lovely day Margaret, I would have been in my element in the Antiques centre, your purchases are lovely, I love anything from the Victorian era.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, Marlene, the antiques’ centre is a lovely place and everything is so clean and nicely arranged, too. I am delighted with the two cut glass salts.

  3. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Topsham is on my list to visit when next in the area. I love places like the antique centre; there’s always a little something to be found!
    I know what you mean about liking things but not wanting them. I often remark how I like something and my husband says, “I’ll get it for you,” to which I reply, No, I don’t WANT it, I just like it.” I love to look at bears, I don’t want a house full. I do have a few little ones that were the children’s. which I keep for sentimental reasons but they’re not displayed. Similarly I have the Bears that were mine as a baby.
    I think you are having better weather than us. It’s so damp here in Worcestershire, quite cold and very foggy this evening. Clear blue sky has not been seen all week.
    The salts are so pretty. I prefer glassware to china. I remember there being some when I was a child but I don’t recall them ever being used for salt. We had roasted peanuts in them at Christmas.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, you would love Topsham, Eloise, and on a summer’s day it’s lovely to amble through the little streets and alleyways, and perhaps even go along what is called the goat’s path by the estuary. Yes, I still have our yuounger son’s bear, but he lives in the summer house, that’s his place, along with a PG Tips monkey which my mother sent for, an offer from PG Tips tea. She must’ve sent for it just before she died, because it arrived shortly after she died and, of course, then I hadn’t the heart to dispose of it, so Monkey lives with Teddy in the summerhouse. I love glassware, too, and was on the lookout for anything in Vaseline glass but didn’t see anything today. I also love cranberry glass. Yes, I could use the salts for roasted peanuts, and cashew nuts, even pine kernels.
      The weather was awful yesterday and so, when it dawned bright and clear we decided to make the most of it.

  4. I feel like I’ve had another wonderful tour. Your photos are always stunning. The first photo of the river looking into the sun, especially so. Oh what I wouldn’t give to be wearing a coat and scarf now ! I don’t think I worn anything with sleeves for months – it’s too hot. When I lived in Sydney (my hometown) I had a collection of coats, scarves and gloves and loved mixing and matching. Mind you, the coats, etc needed for Sydney winters are much lighter than those required by you for yours 🙂

    Oh what I wouldn’t give to have a wander through that antiques warehouse. I think I could spend a whole day wandering and playing in such a place. Like you, I often think that taking one item home from a beautifully placed collection would be pointless but then at other times it can be nice to have a memento of a special trip / day / outing. It’s a fine balance between filling our homes with ‘stuff’, though. I love each of my knick knacks and can remember where each was bought from or who gave it to me and when. Nothing is worth any real amount of money but sentimental value is of more importance to me.

    Your lunch looks lovely – so beautifully arranged. A lovely addition to your day out.

    Thank you for sharing your part of the world with us xxx

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Lara, and thank you for your kind comments regarding my photos. On this occasion it really was the camera’s work because the sun was so bright I couldn’t see a thing, I just pointed my camera in a general direction of the river flowing downstream towards the town of Exmouth, right on the coast.
      Yes, I have heard that you are suffering from very high temperatures. Our lack-lustre cricket team lost the Ashes under the heat of the Aussie sun (I don’t blame the sun entirely, but I heard that it was 55C on the pitch at one time, which is a ridiculous heat in which to run around playing cricket, even for heat-hardened Aussies!) I think you’d have enjoyed the temperature today, it wasn’t hot but it wasn’t cold, either. I had on a Breton top, jeans, ankle boots, a coat (not a particularly heavy one), scarf and unlined leather gloves and no hat. In fact, normal winter-wear in the UK.
      And inside the Antiques’ Centre it was warm so that I could unwind my scarf and remove my gloves. It really is a fun place to visit, and there is usually a little bit of discount on the marked prices if whatever you are buying is over £10. No discount on items under £10, and that is understandable, these are cheap as chips anyway. Yes, sentimental value is very important for me, too. I have so many things which belonged to my late mother and before her to her brother and my grandfather, and while I don’t know the ‘stories’ behind them all, they are part of my heritage and I treasure them.
      Yes, lunch was most enjoyable, and then when we returned home I loved watching the film Hampstead, it’s a delightful film, I shall certainly watch it again.

  5. I haven’t been to Topsham but we have been to Exmouth. I like walking all along the front there because there is plenty to see – people doing watersports and lots of dogs having fun.

    We went to Slimbridge yesterday. The forecast said sun and when we left there was sun. When we got there it was foggy and really cold, but we persevered and it did clear a little later on. We had a stand-up picnic because all the benches were wet from the fog! Good to get some air though.

    Today is dull again, it was foggy during the night but had cleared by 6 am when I finally gave up trying to go back to bed after seeing to the cat.

    Your glass dishes are very pretty.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Alison. It’s years since we went to Exmouth, but the walk along the sea front there is lovely. And we’ve not been to Slimbridge, either but how lovely to take a winter picnic with you (pity about the wet benches, though!)
      Here, it’s a lovely sunny morning with a bright blue sky.
      (For readers who aren’t familiar with Slimbridge, this is a bird reserve in Gloucestershire.)

  6. Such beautiful photographs! And the colour of the sky, a lovely shade of blue. No doubt, it must have been a beautiful day:)

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, it was a lovely day, Kavitha, and we’ve been out shopping this morning and it’s been just as nice. Unusual to have two good days together in winter in the UK!

  7. Oh Margaret, how I envy you your blue skies and sunshine, it has been wall to wall cloud for days here in East Anglia, mostly accompanied with drizzly rain, joy! The only splashes of colour are from the birds feeding on the nuts etc which we hang in the apple tree, everything else seems grey, grey, grey.
    That antiques centre looks so appealing, I especially liked that little chair, would look just right in my bedroom….the salts were a steal at just £5 and I doubt if I could have left them there either. Perhaps I need to persuade my beloved to take a trip out to the Maltings at nearby Ely, there is a big antiques centre there where we could have a good browse. You may have inspired me, thank you!

    • Margaret Powling

      We had lots of rain last week, Elaine, totally grey days, and earlier this week, too. Yes, liked the chair, too! A lovely bedroom chair. Indeed, I saw several small items of furniture I liked yesterday. Yes, do visit the Maltings antiques centre … you never know what you might find! And things needn’t be used for their original purpose. I was reading letters in the Telegraph a few weeks ago and people were mentioning sugar tongs (hence my mention yesterday) and saying they weren’t used any more, and one person responded by saying they used them to remove tea bags from cups! We can put old things to new uses!

  8. I feel like I’ve had a holiday in Devon after reading your post.

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, that’s lovely, Sue! And it won’t have cost you a penny! We drove to Waitrose supermarket this morning via the sea front and it looked so beautiful, but it’s so busy with traffic that it’s impossible for me to take half-decent photos as husband is driving, but the sea looked lovely and I wish we’d stopped so I could’ve taken some photos – the sea sparkled in the sunshine, and I don’t think it will be all that long before we see the trees greening up.

  9. Such pretty salts, Margaret and a great bargain too. Topsham looks a lovely place to visit from your very nice photographs, and the red building with the blue shutters would make a good painting I think (my hobby!) Must confess to having a little teddy called “Henry Bear” (on his label) who is very cute, which my husband bought me a few years ago, but I wouldn’t want a collection of them.

    • Margaret Powling

      Henry Bear sounds adorable, it’s mainly dolls I dislike, they look too much like effigies to me, but I confess to liking our younger son’s bear who lives, as I mentioned, with Monkey in the summerhouse. Yes, I think that red brick building would make a lovely subject for a painting. Indeed, we have a pastel of warehouses (before they were transformed into apartments) by the River Dart in Totnes and it hangs in our kitchen. They two are red brick, mellowed with age.

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