Buckfast Abbey is becoming one of our favourite places to visit. Why? Could be the quality of the food in the exceptional cafe with a view (as above). Could be the setting, right in the heart of a bowl of hills and trees and adjoining the River Dart. Could be for the atmosphere which is calming and lovely. Or it could be that there is so much to admire in this amazing, amazing story of an Abbey re-founded and built by a handful of monks, mainly just half a dozen, who had no previous skills apart from one who knew some masonry. As I have said before, I just find this quite the most astonishing thing I have come across. The interior with its wonderful craftwork, stained glass, beautiful masonry is as impressive as the exterior….
We made a point this time of seeking out the video introduction which we missed last time which gives a nice background to the place and as it is in the Guest Hall we went upstairs to marvel at that renewed structure….first-class craftmanship.
Our next destination was Dartmouth but to get there we took the back roads which we know quite well from of old. We passed through ravishing countryside down deep Devon lanes with views of the Dart from time to time as well as the backdrop of Dartmoor all picked out clearly on a crisp winter’s day…..
passing The Watermans Arms with its lovely riverside location….
and we made our way to the pretty riverside village of Dittisham, famous in times past for its plums (which we used to sell in our greengrocer’s shop in Dartmouth). Dittisham is yet another place with a churchyard overhanging the river, rather like St Just-in-Roseland or Mylor Bridge in Cornwall…
We also passed Fingals country house B+B which we supplied sometimes with their fruit and veg. It always brings to mind one particular dinner we had there. Everyone sits around a long oak refectory table whilst the host acts as a superb host should, filling you with great food and drink. I would normally hate this kind of social eating but Richard is such a natural that even I fell in with the idea. Anyway it was at the time of the Falkland War, and who should we have sitting at our table but an Argentinian businessman and his beautiful wife! And who should Richard ask to give a short speech recognising the basic underlying friendship of our two countries than me?!! Enough said. A night to remember…I think I lost at snooker afterwards to our new Argentinian friend.
Dartmouth was, as usual, captivating. We couldn’t resist calling into the shop of Simon Drew our old neighbour and friend…..our shop was next door but one, now a Weird Fish opposite the Christmas tree. We caught up with a bit of news, had a good chat to Sue who joined Simon immediately after she and we left our greengrocers, thirty-odd years ago as she reminded us. We also had a brief chat with Caroline (Simon’s wife) and to Kayla, Sue’s daughter, and generally enjoyed our reminiscing very much.
After a tour of the town and all the lovely independent shops, and a quick coffee and cake in one of Dartmouth’s delis, we returned for one last look at the beautiful lights in Fosse Street and the boat float before hitting the road home. In a historic town like Dartmouth (and Warwick where our bookshop was) plain white lights seem to suit and give a classy feel to Christmas…….
We drove home on the back roads and it was very atmospheric to see the lighthouse shining away incessantly at Start Point and to see the moon reflected on the waters at Blackpool Sands….