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A Grand Day Out (my 555th post)

Topsham, on the River Exe, Devon

Some days are just perfect, aren’t they?  You can plan all you like but often as not planning doesn’t always result in perfection whereas a spur of the moment decision can result in a truly enjoyable time.

We awakened to yet more sunshine (even though we’ve been ‘promised’ cooler weather from tomorrow onward) and so we decided to drive to Topsham, a small town (some might say a village) on the banks of the River Exe just below the city of Exeter.

We managed to find a parking space for the car, and then walked towards the quay.  The path is set just above the road. 

It only takes about an hour to drive to Topsham from our home, and we arrived around midday, just in time for lunch in The Salutation Inn.  This was an old coaching inn but it is now advertised as a restaurant with rooms.  We enjoyed a light lunch, as we have done before, in the Glasshouse Cafe.

This would’ve been the carriage way of the inn where carriages and horses would’ve arrived.  Today, it’s been glassed in and is a lovely place for a meal.  We chose, as we have done in the past, a cheese platter to share, with a pot of tea for two.

This doesn’t look all that much for two people but believe me it was filling enough for us.  The central dish contained chutney and there were grapes, pieces of celery and walnuts to enjoy, too.  The crusty bread was lovely, as were the parmesan wafers.

We then had a stroll through the narrow streets of this old village, passing some rather nice shops …

Topsham’s position, on the River Exe, offered a sheltered port during the 18th and 19th centuries.  There are also many Dutch-style houses dating from when Topsham was an important cotton trading port. Indeed, many of the houses are built with Dutch bricks – which are slightly smaller and inferior to English bricks – as these were used as ballast from Holland; they were removed on arrival when the ships would then have been re-loaded with wool and cotton from South-West England, destined for the Netherlands.

As you can see, it was a gloriously sunny blue-sky spring day.  We then walked along by the River Exe towards the Quay Antiques Centre.

This is looking downstream towards Exmouth, a holiday resort at the mouth of the River Exe.

And this view (above) was taken from a flight of steps down to the quay.

The Antiques Centre is housed in an old warehouse, an ugly monstrosity really, but it wasn’t built for pleasure but as a flour store in the late 1940s.  But once inside you overlook its shortcomings as it’s an Aladdin’s cave of wonderful things.  However, although I saw one or two things I liked, there was nothing which shouted “buy me”!


I confess I was tempted by these items of passementerie.  They are tremendously intricate and time-consuming to make, and these looked so beautiful.  If ever we painted our sitting room pastel blue, just think how lovely these would’ve looked as curtain tie backs for our salmon pink curtains!  They are works of art in their own right, I think, and would’ve even looked lovely hanging from the standard lamp

I rather liked this little tea set on its own china tray, but I already have a pretty ‘bachelor’ set as they are called (a set for one) and, quite frankly, where on earth would I put such an item in our already abundantly-filled home?  But it’s nice just to see pretty things like this without feeling the need to buy them.

(I just thought I’d pop this photo in of my own little tea set which belonged to my late uncle.)

Anyone wishing to start a collection of cranberry glass would’ve been happy as there were  lovely pieces of glass everywhere.

And lots of tins and old tools.

And this is the view from the middle floor of the warehouse, looking downstream toward Exmouth.  I did find one item though, a book which I have put away for younger son’s birthday, I know it will be right up his street, and it is brand new, perhaps a review copy someone has parted with (or an unwanted present.)

On the way back to the car we passed these cottages and I thought just how simple and yet how pretty they are.  I couldn’t take a photo any closer, it would’ve seemed too intrusive, but as you can see, spring really has sprung.  The cars in the distance are parked on the car park, which is where we were heading.

When we arrived home I found that two books had arrived – I said it’d been a perfect day, didn’t I?

I am so looking forward to these two novels, one by experienced novelist Jacqueline Winsprear, and one by first-time novelist, Vanessa Robertson.

And finally, the daffodils I bought yesterday have opened and look so pretty. I don’t usually put daffodils in the sitting room, but I’ve made an exception with these.

They were on offer … all these lovely flowers for £1.69.  It doesn’t get better than that, does it?

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. As I may have mentioned before I love seeing photos of your beautiful part of the world. It is interesting to see, and read, how different cultures have an effect on the architecture of another country and how it came about.
    Your daffodils look so cheery.

    • Margaret

      Hello, Pieta, and I’m delighted you enjoy seeing the photos of where we live in the south west of England. Topsham is like no other little village around here, with the Dutch influence, and the houses are lovely, the grander ones originally owned by sea captains (but this was usual in many of the ports around the coast.) Yes, the daffodils have been lovely, we’ve had a several varieties of them and they all look so pretty.

  2. What a lovely uplifting post Margaret, thank you for sharing. Topsham is now definitely on my places to visit list !

    • Margaret

      Topsham is lovely and we didn’t even walk up through the village to the other shops, more a small town really. And there are other pubs to visit if The Salutation doesn’t hit the spot, with The Lighter Inn right on the quay close to the Antiques Centre, not to mention, just a mile or two from Topsham on the way to Exmouth is Dart’s Farm, a lovely out of town shopping centre (quality items, as far removed from a poundland as you could imagine). And, of course, Topsham is only about five miles from Exeter, so a visit there could combine the two. Exeter has the most beautiful Decorated Gothic Cathedral – it’s not a huge cathedral such as Winchester but what it lacks in scale it more than makes up for in grandeur.

  3. That was a nice day out!

    I loved the ruby, crystal vase. I’m afraid it would have come home. The media keeps saying that todays 20somethings don’t want crystal, china, etc. I don’t know about that. My children have told me that they do want our things eventually. My soon to be daughter in law will buy crystal vases at thrift stores. She’s a bit like me. When her friend’s cat died, she bought flowers to take to the human left behind. I asked her if her friend had a vase, she thought about it and said probably will put them into a beer glass! So she stopped at a thrift and bought a crystal vase to go with the flowers. Her friend loved it! The vase is a permanent reminder that her friend cared enough about her loss to remember.

    The snow is melting but it will be a while before we see greenery in our garden.

    Hope you have a good weekend.

    • Margaret

      I often think it’s the generation between that doesn’t want things, for example, what we love our children mightn’t love but our grandchildren will adore! Think of how the young women are now taking to craft, knitting, sewing, crocheting, and collecting everything Retro. We had these things in our homes in the 1950s but I certainly didn’t want them when I was a young married woman in the 1960s but the young married women (or partners) of today love all the ditsy things, the kitsch things that we scorned! What a thoughtful daughter to buy a crystal vase for the flowers! Yes, crystal has dropped out of fashion, sadly, and we saw row upon row of the most beautiful crystal glasses, vases and jugs, but I had no need of any (and certainly no places to put them!) so I left them there. So glad to hear the snow is melting at last!

  4. Thank you for taking us with you on your outing. Those photos were stunning – the views, the buildings, the sunshine ☀️ I wonder how the return journey to The Netherlands without ballast went – you’d think it would be awfully uncomfortable – or did they use some other material…… You did well to leave the antique shop without buying anything. There were some lovely items there. Our decluttering (in preparation for moving to a smaller home later this year) seems to have stalled. The other week I dropped off some items to a charity shop and left with two books and two magazines ! In my defence, though, I’ve since passed on those books and magazines to another charity shop.

    • Margaret

      Hello, Lara. The return journey to the Netherlands would’ve had the ships’ holds filled with wool and cotton, the things that were produced in Devon (not that cotton was actually produced here – that would’ve been imported in Bristol and made into cotton items and then exported again to continental Europe via ports on the south coast, such as Topsham). We produced cotton goods here, but of course, the raw cotton came from abroad. Oh, decluttering is so hard, especially parting with the things we have had for years. Even if we don’t actually love them (as in Marie Kondo!) they are part of the furniture so to speak.

  5. I have followed your blog almost from the start and find so many similarities with your life and mine. I am lucky enough to live in Devon too and when we visited Topsham a few days ago I kept a lookout for you as I know you have posted from there before but once again I missed you by a couple of days. We followed a similar route to you and everywhere was looking so lovely in the sunshine. Yesterday I visited our local Waitrose (Sidmouth) and on your recommendation purchased two pots of their coffee ice cream as they were on special offer. I put the spoon in as soon as I got home and you are quite right, it is delicious. As you are such a good Waitrose ambassador surely they could build you a new store close by! Best wishes.

    • Margaret

      Hello, Carol, and how lovely to live close to the Sidmouth Waitrose! We could always make a day trip there, as an outing and for shopping, perhaps in the warmer weather. I’m so glad you liked their coffee ice cream. We might be going into the branch that is to close later today and getting some as we’re on our last pot of that! We will be going to Shaldon today, I think, just for a stroll. I love both estuary villages, Topsham on the River Exe and Shaldon on the River Teign. I’m so glad you enjoy my blog and that you find such similarities with your life – our life is really very ordinary: enjoying our home and small garden, trips to the garden centres, shopping, the occasional film at Dartington, walks along the various sea fronts, and reading. Yes, I do think Waitrose has been rather mean in not building me my own personal supermarket!

  6. Congratulations on your 555th post Margaret! I’ve just tried to say this out loud and it’s a real tongue twister. I have now added Topsham to my list of desirable places to visit when we manage a trip to Devon – it sounds just up my street! I must also congratulate you on browsing the Antiques Market and not buying anything. I always feel ridiculously pleased when I come away empty-handed having enjoyed a good look round such places but space at home is finite ….. Thank you for another good read.

    • Margaret

      I’m glad you enjoyed your virtual visit to Topsham, Margaret L! It’s a lovely little place and shortly I will be posting about my other favourite riverside village, Shaldon. Do put that on your list. Indeed, most places along the rivers of South Devon are lovely, including Dartmouth (of course!) Yes, 555th post is a bit of a tongue twister! Also, from Shaldon you can take the little ferry boat to Teignmouth, across the river (passengers only, not cars) and have a mooch around this holiday town, and in Topsham, I think there is a ferry boat down to the Turf Locks Inn, only accessible either by boat or on foot from what I recall.

  7. Great photos, Margaret. Topsham looks such a pretty little town and a on a sunny day, even better. How interesting to see the Dutch architecture; I really enjoyed seeing this style of house in Amsterdam, and similar ones in Bruges.
    I love the little bachelor set – how refined! Wow, 555 posts, that’s an achievement.
    I know a few young people who are very into crafting and my friends daughter has taken up crotchet. Everything comes around again, doesn’t it?

    • Margaret

      Yes, everything does come around, Eloise, but I was never any good at making things although I did make curtains for our previous home (on an old Singer sewing machine which had belonged to my mother in law, I think it dated from Victorian times but was still in good working order!) Topsham is lovely and I always enjoy a visit there. As for 555 posts, I have amazed myself at that, but most are just something and nothing, really!

  8. Congratulations on your 555th post! I love seeing pictures of your world. You certainly live in and near lovely sights. Amazing how spring has really sprung in your area. We still have bare trees, but at last the snow is all gone. A very cold day today – well, compared to how we’d like in late March. It will warm up all in good time.

    • Margaret

      Thank you for your congratulations on my 555th post, Jeannine. When I started my blog in 2016 I’d no idea what I was going to write about but somehow things spring to mind, especially when we go to lovely places like Topsham (and I have another lovely place to write about in my next post.) Yes, spring has sprung. The trees and hedgerows are beginning to look pretty with their new leaves, wild daffodils can occasionally be seen in the hedges and verges, too. Primroses are out in abundance and soon, bluebells will be flowering (usually late April, early May.) It is truly a lovely time of the year in England.

  9. Congratulations on your 555th post,long may they continue,you brighten up my day. I especially like looking at the photos of the charity shop,only wish we could implement their ideas into ours but until the present manager goes it will never happen.No sun today but cool enough for a visit to our allotment.Enjoy Mothering Sunday.

    • Margaret

      Thank you for your congratulations, Margaret, on my 555th post. What a shame that some of the better ideas from other charity shops can’t be adopted in your own shop. Perhaps you might show the manager photos I’ve sent of the lovely shop in Wellswood and indicate to him that, with his approval, you might have a trial run of putting colours together rather than garments, i.e. trousers with trousers regardless of colour and instead, everything blue, everything red? It might be worth approaching him, and then if he agrees congratulating him on how lovely it looks that way and how good it was of him to agree to this change. He obviously needs his ego massaging!
      We haven’t any sun today either and it’s quite chilly. We need to water the garden, too, as it’s been quite a while since we had any heavy rain. Yes, you enjoy Mothering Sunday, too.

  10. That was a lovely post, Mrs Powling, the pictures of Topsham are gorgeous! I really enjoyed the virtual excursion ☺️

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