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Home Travel StoriesExploring South Devon

ButtFast And Buckfast Abbey

Ride Date 12 September 2018

By Ren Withnell

This, well, erm, err, well, this, like, oh dear, erm. This is a tiny little bit awkward. It's not exactly the thing to talk about in polite company. Regrettably though it is part of the story. I wish it wasn't but it is. These things happen. I'm procrastinating aren't I.The last couple of days have been just a tad physically uncomfortable. This morning that discomfort has become rather more than just a tad uncomfortable. This morning I'm not really a happy chap. I'm still procrastinating aren't I.

Sod it.

My piles are giving me grief. 

There I've said it. I don't need your advice regarding fibre in my diet or how to sit on the loo or what treatment is best. I've suffered a tiny bit for years but this, this is the first time in my life it has had any impact at all other than a few moments discomfort after my morning ablutions. This is the first time my private problem has stopped me in my tracks. The morning and half the afternoon are wasted. 

Ren sits on the hard stones of St Govan's Chapel
They say sitting on cold surfaces isn't good. 

Sharon puzzles me. I get bored if I have to do nothing for more than 3 minutes. Sharon never gets bored. I'm bored of being unwell after 3 minutes yet Sharon seems content to surf the net a while, chat a while, mess around doing "things" a while and generally kill time. I'd have killed me if I'd kept me waiting around this long.

By mid afternoon though I can't take it any more. I will just have to get myself together and get out there and do something - anything! Moping around isn't going to help.

I get kitted up while making old man noises. I check the bike over while walking like Charlie Chaplin. I hoist myself onto my bike delicately, wondering if I can do this. Yes. Yes I can. I can do this. I think. 

Charlie Chaplin seen from the rear
Yip, I think that's me today. 

We are going to Buckfast Abbey. Sharon spotted this on her holiday research, it's not too far away so my derriere won't get too much of a pounding and it's way better than sitting inside the caravan feeling sorry for myself. Oh lordy, I've just had a thought - how miserable would this have been if we were in the tent on a cold, wet and windy day. Urgh.

This won't be a long ride so Sharon's joining me on the back of the 500. The ride is fine. I feel better, not physically but mentally because my mind is on other things. 

Buckfast Abbey is different. Here in Blighty most of our religious buildings seem to be between 200 and 1,000 years old. As such most of them are delightfully aged with worn steps, saints with missing noses, well weathered grotesques and a collection tin to help with the cost of repairs.

Here the walls are perfectly straight, the stonework is sharp, fresh, bright and clean and the roof is intact. It looks almost new although the signs tell me it was completed in the 1930's. Within the walls are equally bright and clean, the vaulted ceilings are crisp, the floor polished and everything is perfect.

The crisp and fresh stonework of the exterior of Buckfast Abbey
Sharp and pointy not crumbling and rounded off.
Inside the abbey the columns and ceilings are bright white and the pews are neat
Nothing worn out or broken here.

There's a part of me that wants to dislike it because it IS so perfect. I want to say it lacks character and history and life. But no, no these are not fair thoughts. Once upon a time every ancient Cathedral had sharp crisp lines and freshly painted walls and newly varnished pews. No, it is refreshing and enlightening to see how a church, cathedral or abbey may have looked when first completed. Old things weren't always old.

In the buildings around the abbey are an upmarket tat shop, a cafe and a room explaining the abbey's ancient past. These are set in a combination of old and contemporary buildings that fortunately seem to compliment one another. We wander a while. Sharon is impressed with the flowers but being a heathen I don't understand.

An old gatehouse and a new point reception mix well in the grounds of the abbey
Old and new, working well together in my humble opinion.

Between all this are teams of post-graduate hipsters carrying equipment in large boxes, official types on radios politely barking instructions and technical nerds looking at bundles of wires going into complex boxes. For tomorrow it seems "The Antiques Roadshow" is being recorded here. Thankfully we are here on the right day, tomorrow will be chaos surely.

Table and chair with banners declaring The Antiques RoadshowI wonder if they'll find an ancient Roman era adjustable spanner?

I'm feeling a tad less delicate and there's still some life left in this day. I lead us into Dartmoor in search of wild landscapes and The Hound Of The Baskervilles. What we find are narrow lanes with high hedges that prevent admiration of that which surrounds us and any kind of rapid progress. When we find an open hilltop and the vista opens out we can see gently rounded hills spreading away to the flatlands and the coast.

Widecombe in the Moor in a pretty little village with old stone buildings. The evening is closing in so it is quiet. We take a moment to look around but hunger is calling and my mood is becoming as grey as the stones so we get back to the bike and head for home, sorry I mean the caravan. 

The stone building, a large tree and a grassed area make Widecombe in the moor a pretty vilalge
Widecombe in the Moor is a pretty little village.

Damn to my backside and damn to Spain! My rear end is still troubling me and Spain's amazing roads and scenery are spoiling Dartmoor. No amazing corners, no vast vistas, no gnarly mountains. Instead we have narrow lanes with high hedges making our view more akin to being in a well lit tunnel. Sharp bends bring caution for fear of a large tractor with a pointy thing on the front coming the other way. 

We get back safely. Mercifully we're back to soft chairs and our own facilities not the top-box-for-a-chair tent.  It's been one of them days.


If you have a story to share about something nicer than my "issue" then contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Riding To Devon It's a long and arduous trip down south to Devon. Or - perhaps Ren is being a drama queen and a bitter cynic.
A Walk Around Brixham Our intrepid motorcycle muppets don't even touch a motorcycle today. In fact it's quite a day for doing things differently for Sharon!
Dartmouth, Slapton and Salcombe South of Brixham the coastal landscape is proving to be quite rural and enjoyable for Sharon and Ren.
The English Riviera - Urgh The dynamic muppets take a haphazard tour of The English Riviera. What will the crankiest two-wheeled twit make of it all?
ButtFast And Buckfast Abbey Ren is having and uncomfortable day. There are things that should not be shared and Ren is sharing them here. Oh dear.
Rocks And A Better Brixham Sharon And Ren scrabble over rocks on Dartmoor and Ren reviews his opinions regarding Brixham
Torquay By Ferry Sharon and Ren bob along the ocean waves to see what Torquay is all about. Context dear boy, context.
Home Travel StoriesExploring South Devon Random Link

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
Ignoring your personal problems (and how I wish you had), Buckfast Abbey is best known for being the originator of Buckfast "tonic" wine. Famous for the common defence found in Glasgow assault trials: 'The Buckie made me do it!'

Actually I did try it once and it's disgusting. Almost enough to make a person teetotal although a quick snifter of Bordeaux soon put that right!
30/11/2018 12:12:46 UTC
Jim said :-
Ian - too true, and not just in Glasgow - here on the other side of the country Buckfast is the staple of outdoor drinkers of all kinds; the local youth in particular are partial to getting ‘Buckie’d’ of an evening. I’m sure Auntie Nicola has written to the monks of Buckfast more than once about the unfortunate popularity of their tipple, but it just encouraged them to send more.


30/11/2018 16:14:20 UTC
Jim said :-
It is, as Ian says, also disgusting. Might make an excellent treatment for piles though.
30/11/2018 16:20:16 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Oooooooh Jim, my eyes are watering just thinking about it.
30/11/2018 18:19:26 UTC
Borsuk said :-
Provide a short sharp shock, unfortunately to the wrong end and the wrong people.
01/12/2018 09:32:17 UTC
NigelS said :-
'Buckie' also known in Govan as 'wreck the hoos joos'. Sorry about the haemorrhoids, you need an Airhawk Ren, guaranteed comfort for twice the mileage.
01/12/2018 09:38:57 UTC
Upt'North said :-
"Wreck the Hoos Joos". Now that's funny right there.
Now then back to the hemorrhoids.
I remember being on a train toilet once and I was in that much pain I had to pull the emergency cord.
The guard arrives and shouts through the locked door, "what's up why have you pulled the cord".
I reply with agony in my voice, "I've got piles".
He replies, "that's no reason to pull the cord".
I shouted, "but they're wrapped around the axle?".
Drum roll, symbols, I thank you. It's the way I tell em.
Upt'North.

01/12/2018 17:21:38 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yes thank you one and all for your sympathy.

I, being teetotal, am thankful that I do not drink. Having seen such comments as above I believe I have made the right choice.
01/12/2018 20:46:15 UTC
 

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