COVID-19 and our Topsham community

Thoughts on staying safe, supporting our community, and living and eating well March 20, 2020 — As we watch in shock and horror as COVID-19 spreads across our country and the world, it is hard to believe this is really happening on a beautiful early Spring day in Topsham. On the surface here life goes […]

Thoughts on staying safe, supporting our community, and living and eating well

Tom's Table @The Salutation Inn
Chef Tom’s Table @ The Salutation Inn

March 20, 2020 — As we watch in shock and horror as COVID-19 spreads across our country and the world, it is hard to believe this is really happening on a beautiful early Spring day in Topsham. On the surface here life goes on, if not quite as normal, then still with some semblance of normalcy. We are, however, all having to learn quickly to social-distance (this term itself is entirely new, something we’ve never had to do before), and some are already finding themselves in self-isolation. We know, sadly, that this may just be the calm before the storm and that things are  only likely to get worse before they get better.

It is at this dark moment that we can most appreciate the strength and resilience of our local Topsham community. It reinforces the need for us all to help each other and to stick together. Love Topsham and Nancy Potter House have in collaboration created an important resource for those in need of assistance as well as for volunteers who can help those in self-isolation, or in need of assistance with shopping or other care. There is also a very worthwhile page that highlights all of the local businesses who are now offering a home delivery service. Furthermore, with this crisis set to last for no one knows how long, there are ideas on  ways to keep busy, active and healthy, both physically and mentally. 

To find out more visit


Sarah's pasteis de natas
Sara’s pastéis de nata

As I write this, all of our wonderful Topsham food and drink shops still remain open. While we see scenes of panic-buying in supermarkets, empty shelves and fights over toilet rolls, here in our town things remain calm and civilised. I can walk up to Arthurs for delicatessen items or fresh meat, choose from a great selection vegetables and fruit from Richards, buy fabulous West Country cheeses and wonderful fresh bread from Country Cheeses. We are lucky to have Topsham Wines here as it offers a great selection of characterful wines from around the world at fair prices, and Jim is happy to home deliver. There is much else: Mercado for Portuguese groceries, charcuterie and conserved fish; Good Game at Pig & Pallet for Topsham-produced charcuterie and sulphite-free cured meats; Pebblebed for its own-produced award-winning still and sparkling wines; Nourish for unpackaged foods and waste-free shopping; Shaul’s Bakery for bread and sweet and savoury baked goods. Over the coming weeks, we will all need cake to help us get through this and Katie Hodges’ Topsham Cakes, from its small shop next to Route 2 Cycles, is there to provide us. On Saturdays, there is the Matthews Hall Market which includes a number of popular food stalls, selling fresh organic vegetables, olives and much more, while Derek Thorman parks his fish van outside, offering the freshest local fish landed in our West Country harbours. Darts Farm offers a fresh-from-the-fields shopping experience completely different to that found in chaotic supermarkets: the food hall stocked with its own vegetables picked fresh each morning; there is a fabulous butcher, fresh fish from the Fish Shed, a delicatessen, artisan breads and countless local food products. Darts Farm will deliver to your home, free in Topsham for the over 70s and the vulnerable.

Our local Cooperative is an essential community hub, supplying most daily necessities while offering employment to Topsham people. The team here is working incredibly hard to keep the shelves stocked and maintain the store and as a community we appreciate this (there is also a free ATM).

At this difficult time, shopping locally is more important than ever. Please think about this before you place your on-line order to a supermarket.


The fall-out from this global crisis should not be underestimated and many businesses are suffering badly already, not least within the hospitality industry. Topsham is fortunate indeed that we have so many and varied places to eat and drink, at all levels and styles, from cafés to pubs, from informal to fine dine. As of today, the government has ordered the closure of cafés, pubs, restaurants and other businesses to avoid public gatherings. Though financial interventions have been announced to help businesses retain their valued staff and survive this uncertain period of closure, for many it is still devastating.

Thus, in order to find a way to keep trading, some of our businesses have already turned to creative ways to keep feeding our community by launching takeaway menus. This is a great initiative that needs our support. Moreover, as the options of what we will be able to do in our lives become ever more diminished as social distancing becomes firmly established, we will all still have to eat, and we will all still need – perhaps more than ever – the occasional treat. Thus, the wonderful variety that our community’s food and drink establishments are able to offer will certainly make life altogether more bearable.

I’m thinking of Breton galettes and boeuf bourguignonne from The Boathouse; Italian pasta and pizza from L’Estuaire; pizza and local wine from Pebblebed; a full Sunday lunch from the Lord Nelson; Indian food from Denleys; fish and chips from The Fish Shed; a full takeaway menu from The Passage House Inn; takeaway beer (and possibly home beer deliveries) from The Bridge Inn and more. Tom’s Table is set up outside The Salutation Inn offering breakfast baps, lunch specials (soups, confit of duck salad, maybe fish), and fabulous pastries and patisseries. Sara’s Petite Cuisine will deliver cakes, baked goods, and of course her wonderful pasteis de nata. Good Game has started up a meat club, while Pig & Pallet is offering ‘squeals on wheels’. Route 2 Café will be serving coffee, food, drinks from under the arches. The Galley is putting the final touches onto its new takeaway menu. More of our local food and drink businesses will be finding creative ways both to keep our community well fed as well as to try and keep their businesses afloat. Please check this page and the Love Topsham page to keep abreast of what’s happening. Contact them to find out details. Please, please support these wonderful Topsham businesses!

Nancy Potter House is offering home delivery of meals for those who need the support of Estuary League of Friends.

We will get through this, as a community, as a nation. Stay safe, stay well, eat well, live well.

Marc Millon