‘Devon: The Family Entertainment County!™ – is the country’s most enthusiastic peddler of things to do for when it’s a bit wet out.’
Any diversion that can be easily packaged out of the drizzle, accompanied by a large souvenir shop and topped off with generous amounts of parking space is here somewhere – and offering you some family tickets at a very reasonable discount. Most of these attractions answer a question that could only be asked only someone on a long summer drive with fractious children; questions like, ‘Is 10:30 too early to start drinking?’, ‘Is there a shop to leave the little bastards in?’, and ‘Is 10:33 too early to start drinking?’.
On those rare occasions when it’s not a bit wet out, paying guests are also welcome to take in the county’s spectacular stretch of coastline. Famous for its fossil finds, Devon’s Jurassic Coast is the UK’s only UNESCO World Heritage site. And thanks to the good people at ‘There’s A Lot More Where This Came From’, a piece of Devon’s irreplaceable historical record is now for sale to you at just five pounds a bag.
Those more interested in contemporary history are welcome to purchase a pew at Exeter Cathedral, or for the true collector, the remains of local boy Michael Parkinson’s career.
To keep in step with modern trends in domestic tourism, the county has recently trained its sights on urban sophisticates with higher incomes, offering Britain’s only domestically produced olives, restaurants run by acclaimed modern artists and a 24-hour creche service to families who would rather spend their precious leisure time together at a satisfactorily large distance apart.
- CRIME: Queue jumping at ‘World O’ Marbles’ punishable by custodial sentence
- IMPORTS: Your money
- EXPORTS: Clutter, memories
- SPECIAL OFFERS: Bring one OAP and we’ll give you another to take home – absolutely free
- COMPLAINTS POLICY: If you were unhappy with your stay, simply send us another £100.
- OPENING HOURS: 10-6 (Mon to Sat), 11-4.30 (Sundays and Bank holidays)
- SUMMER ATTRACTIONS: Beaches, watersports
- WINTER ATTRACTIONS: The Unmissable Farting Gentlemen of Bodmin
- LAND USE: Agriculture (25%), Packaging natural beauty into profitable little chunks (75%)
- MOTTO: Come for the fossils, stay for the….please, just stay.
6000 BC – One of the first areas of Britain occupied after the Ice Age, Neolithic men build stone circles as Devon becomes the earliest recorded example of a home makeover show.
43 AD – Romans arrive. First Devonian craft shops set up from around this period, selling mosaics, clay pots and other tat sufficiently unimportant to leave behind when the Romans leave.
10th Century – The banks of the River Tamar become the recognised frontier between Celtic Cornwall and Anglo-Saxon Wessex after the original plan of using a very long rope is dismissed as impractical.
1348 – The Black Death hits Devon, signaling the beginning of a boom for the gravedigging, bonfire and door-painting industries.
1688 – William, Prince of Orange, lands at Exeter to begin his march to London flanked by his parents, the King of Red and Queen of Yellow.
1727 – Daniel Defoe publishes a tour of Devon in which he describes the South as impressive and the North as wild, barren and poor. When he returns twenty years later the North has improved considerably, and is considered just poor and barren.
1856 – Henry Chadwick, the inventor of baseball, is expelled from Exeter cricket club after insisting that he has to be bowled three times before being given out.
2000 – To celebrate the turning of the millennium and the breadth of humankind’s manifold achievements over the last thousand years, a new bench is erected opposite the War Memorial in Honiton.
2003 – The foot and mouth crisis ravages Devon’s farming community. Takings remain strong at the Big Family Foot and Mouth Experience in Torbay, while the Slaughterhouse Bar-B-Que restaurant is forced to close.
Did You Know?
Torquay was home to Agatha Christie, who lived most of her life there. The town contains an “Agatha Christie Mile”; a short waking tour with plaques dedicated to her life and work, complete with a predictable twist at the end. The town also provided the setting for Fawlty Towers, a harrowing documentary set around the breakdown of John Cleese’s second marriage.
Francis Drake, Britain’s most celebrated seafarer, set off from Plymouth in pursuit of the Armada in 1588. Seen as a military hero in his homeland, his Spanish enemies thought of him a pirate on account of his shameless raids on their property and insistence upon describing common currency as ‘pieces of eight’.
Father of the modern computer, Devon-born Charles Babbage’s reputation for being a friendless bore is completely at odds with the personality traits associated with modern computing enthusiasts.
2008 saw an unsuccessful terrorist attack on the Giraffe cafe in Exeter’s city centre from radicalised Islamists fighting for more marshmallows with their hot chocolate.
Exeter has been home to Met Office headquarters since the scientists’ move in 2004. Michael Fish did not join the team in the south-west, having confidently forecast the centre would relocate to Aberdeen.
Devon’s flag symbolises how locals enjoy reminding Cornwall how that Devon’s grass is much, much greener.