Twelve months pass by far too quickly these days and another birthday has been and gone! Thursday last week dawned bright and sunny and the weather forecast promised us a dry and windy day. Having looked at the National Garden Scheme website, we found a garden just over the border into Dorset that sounded rather good, so off we went, having first booked in for lunch near the garden before we left home.

NGS garden Dorset

This was the view that greeted us, everything looked so pristine, no weeds to be seen at all, the edges of the lawn were so crisp, not a leaf out of place.

View from NGS garden

This was the view from the garden while we enjoyed a cup of coffee and lemon drizzle cake! In the distance is Lyme Regis and Lyme Bay, such a beautiful view.


I was most impressed with the huge hostas, not a hole to be seen. Having wandered round the garden twice, it was then time to find where we were having lunch.

West Bay

What used to be the little fishing village of West Bay, has undergone a makeover and now has an up market marina overlooked by expensive apartments.

West Bay

We had time for a little walk before lunch, I think they have some serious coastal erosion here, there is a path over the top of the cliff, but now it is worryingly near the edge! I wonder how many dinosaur bones have been found in these cliffs, this is part of the Jurassic Coast after all.

Lunch time

Time for lunch at a seafood restaurant which was on its own little island with a bridge for access. Look at how the flag is flying, there is a hardy couple eating outside, but even though it was lovely and sunny, the wind straight off the sea was quite chilly, so we ate inside. Our meal was absolutely wonderful, fantastic seafood which included Cornish sardines, the size of small trout, hand dived scallops and the fish John Dory, which was so meaty and tasty, a really super birthday lunch!

Topsham gardens

Celebrations continued on Sunday when our daughter, sil and two grandsons joined us for lunch and more garden visiting! We had lunch first at a riverside pub in Topsham which is on the River Exe. After lunch there was a choice of about 12 gardens that were open to the public, in aid of Topsham Museum which relies totally on volunteers who raise any funds that are necessary. Our sil and grandsons went to the museum to look round while our daughter came with us to look at some of the gardens. This first garden had some really wonderful rambling roses with a perfume to match.

Rambling rose

So pretty.

Herbacious border

Still in the same garden, a pretty border for silver leaved plants, I think the soil here is extremely well drained!

Vegetable parterre

We then found a very neat and tidy vegetable parterre in the next garden, their broad beans were much better than mine but I noticed that my runner beans were further on than theirs!

Rambling roses

This garden also had its rambling roses, they seemed to be very popular in Topsham!

Riverside garden

We then found a couple of gardens which had views overlooking the River Exe. Topsham is a popular place for those who sail in little boats. At one time it was a thriving port with large sea clippers arriving to unload their cargoes from around the world. Lots of the captains of these ships came from Holland and when they settled here, built their houses incorporating the Dutch style of architecture. The cotton and wool trade used Topsham, among other ports, to export their wares and the ships came back from Holland with Dutch bricks to build the houses.

Overlooking the Exe

The weather which had started out really sunny, was now changing and we felt our first spots of rain while we were here. We had brought our big umbrella, just in case, not thinking we would need it!

Garden pod

What a super oak pod for sitting in and enjoying the view, as well as keeping out of the rain! This was another small garden which overlooked the River Exe.

By the Exe

The planting in the side border was so pretty. According to our daughter, the oak pod comes from John Lewis at a cost of approx £7,ooo!

By now the rain was coming down very heavily, almost of biblical proportions, the forecast had been that we might have a light shower if we were unlucky!  We made a dash for shelter and waited until the worst was over, then met up with the rest of the family and made our way home as we were all rather soaked, our one umbrella couldn’t keep 6 of us dry! We were only able to see a few of the gardens that were open, which was such a shame, because all the garden owners had put so much effort into preparing their gardens for their big day. In spite of the rain, the day was a success for the museum as £7,500 was raised.

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24 Responses to Celebrating!

  1. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Happy 29th birthday! Looks like you had a lovely day despite the rain! Glad that the museum raised enough to buy a John Lewis oak pod and still have a bit left over:) That pod is way cool. I enjoyed the historical notes on the area as well!

    • Pauline says:

      I wish!! I might feel 29 Peter, as long as I don’t look in a mirror! We certainly had 2 lovely days and being with the family was extra special. We all thought the pod was amazing, I’m sure we could fit one in here somewhere!!

  2. Cathy says:

    Belated Birthday wishes Pauline! Great way to celebrate – lunch AND a garden! Loved the photos of the gardens and the pod… I want one too! 😉

  3. Chloris says:

    Belated birthday wishes Pauline. What a lovely time you had; a seafood lunch and garden visiting- my favourite things.
    What a beautiful part of the country it is, it made me want to plan a trip down there.

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Chloris, the seafood lunch was quite amazing, I think the best fish we have ever had. It is a lovely part of the country, we are so lucky that my husbands last move was down here!

  4. Christina says:

    Belated birthday greetings Pauline, and you’re correct it certainly does seem like a year ago you shared your last birthday with us. Lunch and a garden has to be good! I saw the pod in JL when I was in Suffolk at the end of April, I thought it looked rather good.

    • Pauline says:

      Many thanks Christina, I do like lunch and a good garden to celebrate! The pod was certainly beautiful, I always like anything made from oak and this certainly had a modern touch to it!

  5. Helle (Helen) says:

    Happy birthday, Pauline, looks like you had a couple of wonderful days. In what is, apart from Norfolk maybe, my favourite part of England. The views and seafood restaurant look lovely, as do those huge artichokes. Mine are struggling to get a move on, seems Devon is a better place to grow them than mine.

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Helle, it certainly was a super couple of days. The people that live by the sea here, very rarely get a frost, so I think their plants benefit from that and are further on than even 10 miles inland! The seafood restaurant was excellent with really amazing food, they have certainly found a wonderful chef!

  6. Cathy says:

    Belated Happy Birthday, Pauline – I should have remembered as there is a year less a day between you and the Golfer! Thank you for sharing all those gardens with us (and telling us about your lunch – sounds yummy) – what a shame your visit was cut short by the rain 🙁 Those hostas were astonishingly flawless, weren’t they? Mine have never ever been as shredded or holey before as they have been this year! Any idea what variety that scented pink rambler was? I wonder if I am the only one who doesn’t like the Pod (regardless of the price!)…..

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Cathy, for your good wishes and belated wishes to the Golfer! Lunch on the Thursday was wonderful, we have never had such tasty fish before.
      My Hostas are usually free from holes, but this year they have been dreadful, I think slugs in the ground got them before they showed up above the soil.
      Sorry, I don’t know which variety the pink rose is, it had a beautiful perfume though. So far everyone has loved the pod, I do too, but definitely not the price!

  7. Anna says:

    Many belated birthday greetings Pauline. Glad to read that your special day was full of fun and flowers and that the celebrations overspilled into the weekend. Being a January babe I’m most envious of you folk with summer birthdays. I’m not sure about the pod but would certainly be more than happy to sit inside and admire the view on a clear day or have a read on a rainy day 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Anna, it was a lovely time, even in the downpour! Being a winter babe, you will have to have an official birthday like the Queen! I think sitting in the pod and watching all the sailing boats on the River Exe must be rather nice way to pass the time.

  8. How lucky to have a June birthday when gardens are open and lunch can be enjoyed by the water. Best wishes to you for many more happy celebrations.

    The pod is amazing but doesn’t appear very comfortable. Looks like you must roll in and out. Imagine that! I would probably fall and tumble across the garden.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Marian for your good wishes! Yes, my Mum organised it well didn’t she, there are certainly lots of gardens to choose from for a birthday outing. The pod had lots of comfy cushions and the table had been brought forward so that no-one could get in -not fair! If you tumbled across the garden (it was only tiny) you would end up in the River Exe or the mud, depending on the tide!

  9. wellywoman says:

    Belated birthday wishes Pauline. Looks like the most fantastic way to spend a few days. Both are lovely parts of the country. My sister in law lives near West Bay and we were there recently. Wow that oak pod is impressive and a price to match. I really liked Topsham the last time we were there but it’s been a while. I thought we might have a potter around there when we went down to Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival but we didn’t have the time in the end. I envy your June birthday as mine is in November. I’d like nothing more than to spend it in a beautiful garden in the sunshine but I’d have to go abroad for that. 😉

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you WW for your good wishes, I think that you and Anna will have to have an official birthday in the summer like the Queen! West Bay is a lovely spot, we have driven through before when visiting the Swannery at Abbotsbury, but had never explored further so hadn’t seen the Marina and our super restaurant. Topsham is a super place too, quite historic, but it is a nightmare to park, the houses weren’t built with the motor car in mind way back then! Luckily one of the under gardener’s friends lives opposite the pub where we had our lunch, so we were able to park in his courtyard.

  10. Caro says:

    Looks like you had a wonderful few birthday days, Pauline – many happy returns for last Thursday. So lovely to have your family nearby to celebrate with you. Lunch looking out over the River Exe followed by garden visits would be my ideal day as well! What a shame it rained during your weekend garden visits but that was an excellent total of funds raised!

    • Pauline says:

      I certainly did have a wonderful time, thanks Caro. We are lucky in that our daughter and family, who live in Bristol, are near enough to pop down for a celebration, it made it extra special having them joining in.The amount raised was fantastic, tickets were £6 each and they sold well over 1,000, so that was where most of the money came from, the rest must have been from the plant stalls!

  11. Frank says:

    I hope you’re still accepting birthday wishes! It sounds like a great weekend and I’m not sure if it’s my own empty belly but the seafood lunch sounds fantastic! You really did cover a lot of ground and I’m glad the rain held off for you, those are some beautiful flowers and gardens.

    • Pauline says:

      Yes Frank, thank you so much! The seafood lunch was truly amazing, I do love seafood! It was good, the gardens were lovely, everyone had been working so hard making everything neat and tidy and the flowers performed their best, it couldn’t have been better! I’m so lucky having a birthday in June when gardens are at their best.

  12. pbmgarden says:

    Belated Happy Birthday Pauline. This sounds like a great way to spend a birthday–with gardens and family. The pod is cool.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Susie, it was a wonderful time, to have the family with us as we visited the gardens. I think most of us would happily give room to the pod in our gardens!

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