Oh Britain

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Highlights of the 20th Century

Buckfast Abbey

The history of Buckfast Abbey is extraordinary. After falling into ruin in the wake of Henry VIII's monastic envy, it was reborn at the end of the 19th century and consecrated in 1932. It was rebuilt in the style of 12th century Cistercians, and now houses a Roman Catholic Community of Benedictine monks. Apart from their usual monk business, they get to do some splendid things like make stylish stained glass windows out of lovely big chunks of coloured glass and gather honey from their bees. There is a splendid produce shop at Buckfast Abbey that sells things like candles, jams, liqueurs and cosmetics made only by nuns or monks of the world.

Babbacombe Model Village

Babbacombe Model Village, near Torquay, is clearly a testament to the 20th century. It features miniature 1960s and 1970s architectural wonders, but what we liked best was its marvellous educational commentary. You'll find out all about the ethical and sustainable practices of multi-national oil corporations. Um...maybe we believed that kind of thing in the 1960s?

The Faded Glory of the Seaside

Devon has a lot of beaches, both top and bottom. Since so many Britons now spend their summer hols on the Costa del sol brava blanca, many British seaside towns have a slightly worn and jaded look as their last century gloss has faded. However, there are still many delights to be had at the seaside. Just look at these luscious swans of Exmouth. Who said Johnny needs a Wii to have fun?