A nostalgic weekend in Exeter

We’d been planning to head over to Exeter for ages. It’s Laurence’s university town and so, an important part of his life, but I’d never seen it. The chance to visit together came up when First Great Western gave us a weekend there a few weeks ago. It made a great city break and a chance to connect as a family before Laurence headed off to start working in London.


We made the journey over there at night after Laurence finished work so it was an exciting “past bedtime” train journey from Bristol to Exeter. We each slung a kid and they conked out.

From the time we left the station for the hotel, Laurence was clearly hit with nostalgia. I was intrigued, listening to his stories, that there’s a side of him I’ve never met, a whole life lived that I’ll never fully picture. It’s hard to imagine.

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After breakfast in the morning, we set off to look around the city. Apparently it’s changed. We stopped off at a vintage store that was once a surf shop and walked past a nightclub on the quay no longer in operation.

Walking around the quay was probably particularly surreal. He’d only ever been clubbing around here yet we spent most of the morning dipping in and out of craft shops along the waterside.

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We spent a lot of the day on or around Cathedral Green, a great spot for the kids to run about while we relaxed. There’s an amazing vegetarian spot there called The Plant Cafe. They made me fall in love with salads all over again!

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Exploring some more we checked out Pincesshay shopping centre, which wasn’t there in Laurence’s uni days and stumbled upon the 15th-century almshouse ruins smack in the middle of the city – a real surprise!

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What struck me about walking around Exeter is that there’s something comforting about exploring a city of this size. It’s much smaller than Bristol so you can pretty easily get by with walking most places and it feels more knowable. It’s also kind of a folk-mecca. Folk music is everywhere.

We made the most of our visit by meeting up with family and friends who live there, which made it a real treat. We even managed to sneak in Sunday lunch at Harry’s, the restaurant where Laurence and his parents celebrated on his graduation day.

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I’m really glad we finally made it over there. It’s a pretty straightforward journey, actually, so I’m sure we’ll do it again.

Now that we’ve been there, I feel like I’ve got to know Laurence a little bit better. Is that strange to say about someone you’ve been married to for nearing six years? Six years isn’t that long, really.

In some small way, we’ve made some history in this city there together. And now I feel a bit attached to Exeter too.

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Thanks to First Great Western for giving us a weekend in Exeter as part of its #BeAGreatWesterner campaign.

[she/her] • writer • unschooler • team Soul Farm • Revillaging podcast • breastfeeding counsellor • Trinidadian in Cornwall

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  • aww this post is lovely, it must have felt quite emotional for Laurence to return as a father and I love that you felt you learnt more about him. Tom and I went to uni in places we’d both hate to return to but I found it quite emotional to take Wilf to the town I spent my teenage years x
    Fritha recently posted..Our Copenhagen Airbnb

  • What a lovely post. My aunty and cousins live in Exeter so have been there quite a few times and it’s such a lovely city to explore. x

  • These are such lovely photos, sounds like a great weekend. It’s intriguing to think about the person you share your entire life with having a life before you, isn’t it? I went back a few years ago to where Alex went to Uni as all his friends had a reunion there. Not been back to mine (Leeds) in about eight years though, yikes! x

  • I’ve never been into Exeter even though I’ve driven past it lots of times. Craft and vintage shops sound like it’s worth a visit though! I love how it meant you got to know so much more about Laurence too, Mr C spent a few summers in Barcelona before we got together and I think it would be the same if we went there, must be really interesting, although he was 17 so I would imagine a lot of it involved girls! 😉 x
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  • I love Exeter. It’s interesting, because Exeter is my nearest city now so we spend a lot of time there, but I grew up in Bristol. There are many things about Exeter that remind me of Bristol – there’s a real bohemian vibe, very arty and lots of students. I love that. The Plant Cafe is a gorgeous little spot – I had lunch with my mum and the baby there the other day. We also love The Bike Shed, a cute little theatre that is also a vintage cocktail bar in the evening. Plus there are some (multiple!) of the best retro-inspired burger diners known to man! We love Byrons and Ruby. Your photos are lovely, makes me realise how much I love Exeter and probably take it a bit for granted.

  • ah, Exeter. So many memories. My university too. Where I met my husband in that same night club on the quay that is now closed. Where we got married 6 years ago this weekend! What year did Lawrence graduate? I wonder if we were there at the same time?