Communal Dining

In less than a month, the streets of Topsham will be closed to cars and people will be piling out of their houses armed with picnic baskets laden down with delicious food, bottles of wine and oddly, a dining room chair. It can mean only one thing, the biennial event that is fast becoming a favourite Topsham tradition, Nello’s Longest Table. Here at The Passage House Inn, we’re looking forward to the street party atmosphere that descends on the town and to sampling the culinary delights that our chefs will be cooking for the tables right outside our front door. Then later on, we’ll be getting our dance shoes out as we’ve booked the Fab Beatles to come and entertain the masses!

Nello’s Longest Table is an event that was started by friends of Nello Ghezzo, a much loved Topsham figure who sadly died in 1999 after a battle with cancer. He had a dream of a longest table event in Topsham whereby tables are placed end to end around the streets of the town and folk join together for one gigantic communal meal. His dream was first realised in 2008 by his friends as part of Topsham Food Festival and since then it has become a biennial event. Tables cost £30 each and are sold by Route 2 and all money raised goes to Topsham Community Association and Force Cancer Charity.

Marc Millon, a close friend of Nello, kindly shares his thoughts about the event. “Nello’s Longest Table is a truly extraordinary event. I love to walk the full length, from Topsham Fire Station all the way down Fore Street, around the Quay, and then down Ferry Road and the Underway along to the Passage Inn. It’s great to see this longest table, stretching endlessly through the town; to catch a glimpse of what people are eating and drinking; and to greet friends and new acquaintances along the way. There is such a warm, happy atmosphere everywhere. The amazing thing is how, as dusk begins to fall, everyone clears up, returns their tables to the designated collection points, takes away their garbage and litter, and before long, the town is completely back to normal. It’s almost as if it were all a dream, that it had never really happened! But it had and it will.”

This event perfectly encompasses everything that is great about Topsham; the strong sense of community, the drive to do good and raise money for worthy causes and the love of good food and drink! This year’s theme is ‘celebrating Topsham’s salmon fishing heritage’ which should certainly give you some inspiration for your menu. Here at The Passage House Inn, we’re counting down the days until this amazing event. So why not take part in the biggest meal with friends you’ll ever attend, raise a glass to Nello and then when you’ve eaten your fill, wander through the streets to join us and dance into the evening to the sounds of the Fab Beatles!

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Location, location, location

I think it is fair to say that when it comes to the hospitality industry, location really is everything. No one wants to go for a meal or a drink in an establishment overlooking a motorway, with a view of a landfill or just in a dreary dull street with no redeeming features. Ambience and location really are an important part of the dining experience. And here at The Passage House Inn, we think we’ve hit the jackpot! Not only are we in the much loved harbour town that is Topsham with it’s beautiful buildings and village like atmosphere, but, we are situated right by the water with gorgeous views across the River Exe and smack bang in the middle of the Exe Estuary Trail. We’ve recently put up boards in our beer garden with birds you might spot on the estuary and a map of the trail itself for those walking or cycling their way around.

Since 2001, Devon County Council have been developing the trail as part of the National Cycle Network Route 2. Once completed it will be almost 26 miles in length although you can obviously pick and choose individual sections to complete, especially if you utilise some of the ferry services available (such as the one just metres from our door!) Devon County Council are rightly very proud of this route, not only does it provide “an exciting opportunity for people to experience cycling or walking around the entire Exe Estuary, appreciating the wildlife and passing through some beautiful riverside towns and villages steeped in maritime history” but the different habitats on the Estuary are so diverse that it has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, a Ramsar Site (internationally important area for birdlife) and is a candidate for a Special Area of Conservation.

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The Passage House Inn is in a very unique and beautiful area of the world and we still can’t believe our good fortune at being nestled amongst it all. No matter what time of year, no matter what the weather, we are always afforded a changing view of wildlife on the estuary that provides extra interest and variety to those coming to visit us at the Passage House Inn. So whether you’re just ambling along the Topsham to Lympstone stretch or ambitiously cycling along the whole trail, make sure you visit us for a coffee before you go, a refreshing drink mid walk or a meal to refuel once you’ve completed your day of discovery along our very own Exe Estuary Trail. There’s really no place we’d rather be.

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