Tuesday, 1 June 2010


Bank Holiday yesterday, sun in the sky - and a day-trip to somewhere I've been meaning to visit for ages, Buckfast Abbey. It looks a long way on the map, South Devon, but with the wonders of motorway driving we got there in exactly two hours. Nice approach through leafy countryside, and joined a large Bank Holiday crowd of visitors, but the site can absorb us all. It was indeed the whole site that I particularly liked, gently sloping down to what is clearly the centre of it all, the Abbey Church. Everyone relaxed, lovely surroundings, and no wonder it's such a popular spot.
We hit the Grange Restaurant first for lunch. Excellent helpings, and I had a tasty lamb hotpot. Restaurant recently refurbished, so nice clean lines and good condition. Next, a spot of religion as we caught Midday Prayer with the monks in the Church. It was sung in English, yet was still timeless. These Benedictines have been gathering for prayer for one and a half thousand years, and they know a thing or two about it.  I take in the architecture of the church, a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic, by Frederick Walters, the same architect who built St Joseph's, Penarth, and St Mary's, Canton. Next, on to the Monastic Shop, selling stuff from abbeys across Europe, the book shop and the gift shop. Well - the monks have to make a living somehow! Then, back to the restaurant for a cup of tea (well, OK, a Cream Tea in fact), before setting off.
We decided to make a detour across Dartmoor, for the beautiful views and a close encounter - but not too close - with the prison. Then onwards to Exeter via winding lanes up hill and down dale. Britain has absolutely stunning landscapes, which change so quickly from area to area. Devon quite beautiful. We pulled into Exeter too late to catch the Cathedral open, so, yes, we had to settle for another cup of tea, with a view of the Cathedral instead. The old foot was now giving me a bit of hassle, so glad to get into car for journey home.
Buckfast? Very good - better than I expected. Fr M approves. Special spot? The Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Church. I'd heard of the amazing stained glass windows, but nothing prepared me for the feeling of being immersed in a sea of colour, that although composed of bright shades, managed to be completely calming. Picture shows the main east window, but north and south are similar. Stunning.

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