Hampton Avenue, Babbacombe, Torquay TQ1 3LA. Tel: 01803 315315 or: 01803 328669. Fax: 01803 315173. Experience the sights & sounds of the English Countryside in immaculate detail.
Recently my sister and I went camping for a few days in the Torquay area of Devon. Being the organised pair we are, before we left we decided where we would like to go whilst on holiday. We had been to the Babbacombe model village several years previously, and all I could remember about it was that I really enjoyed it, so we decided we'd go again and see if it was as good as we remembered - and to be honest, we weren't let down. Babbacombe Model Village is what you'd expect from its name, but with a few extras. The four acres are filled with various themed handmade miniature people, buildings and vehicles, situated in well-kept gardens in which the plants have been specifically picked to simulate life-size gardens. There really is a lot to get around, and what you can see there varies greatly, from Tudor houses to a massive city centre to a beach to a castle and even more besides. There are both indoor and outdoor displays; including an Eastenders display (don't worry, there are little things in the display for non-Eastender fans), a celebrity banquet. Besides the model village itself, there are other activities and displays that will appeal to the whole family. Children can spot famous characters in the village, as well as letters of the alphabet (it did take me a while to figure why random letters were placed all around the village). And of course, no search for famous characters would be complete without Where's Wally and the gang, who are moved around regularly. I also recommend exploring different branches of the path, as there are further indoor displays that I noticed visitors missing whilst we went around. There is an indoor 1930s model railway that is breath-taking in itself, I'm afraid I didn't notice much about its history, but you can tell a lot of time and dedication went into it. Next to the model railway is another room with displays of handmade models from popular shows and movies, such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Trek and Star Wars. I was a little disappointed that some of the models were clearly bought in rather than handmade (especially as I myself owned some of them), and the lights on some displays weren't working, but as with the rest of the village still take a look because (besides the few shop bought models) it really is a fantastic display of the talents of the craftsmen working at the model village. I think the most interesting one, and the most hidden (it did look out of bounds) is a workshop with examples of what the craftsmen build and the textures they use, as well as voice overs which explain how the model village is put together and maintained. As I love behind the scenes stuff I found this interesting, but a little disappointing that it was just basically a small shed. Upon entry there is decking that overlooks the entire model village, and for a miniature village it is rather big! When we were visiting there was a Bird of Prey display on the decking which I quite enjoyed. According to the website the display is on for the duration of the summer on certain days, and the teeny owl in particular is worth a look at! There's also a 4D cinema, which was showing a cartoon about Robin Hood, but does do other films depending on the time of year. We decided not to bother with this as it seems more of an entertainment for children rather than us older folk, but it may be a good plan if you want to avoid any rain! (It does cost an extra £1 with the model village ticket though). This leads on to the park, which eventually brings you back round to the café and shop (which you can also cut straight to from the decking if you need to). The café was a little pricey in my opinion, but a welcome refuge from the sudden rainstorm we experienced. The gift shop was full of random items that didn't really seem to relate to the village, and as someone who collects guides from places I visit I was a little disappointed with the lack of content in the village's guide, as well as the cost that went with it. As much as I found the way the village had been thought out and put together fascinating and very inventive, there were a few disappointments. There were some voice-overs throughout the park that were out of date (talking about the amount of wind-power that may be in use by 2005), or that were in the wrong place. Also, although I appreciate that a lot of time and effort goes into making the model village, there was a lot of wear and tear on the houses and roads and the model village in general. This was a shame as I can imagine from looking at the indoor displays that the village would look even more breath-taking if it had been in better repair. According to the website (as I myself can only tell you it's in Babbacombe), the model village is located about 2 and a half miles from Torquay harbour. It's also quite well sign-posted, which is unusual for a lot of the attractions we went to whilst away. The Model Village does not have its own car park, but is instead located in a local authority car park. Although a lot of the car parks my sister and I used were quite expensive, this car park seemed very reasonable in comparison: we only paid £3.50 for 3 and a half hours. This was too much time for the Model Village without the 4D film, but did allow us enough time to nip into the local town for some lunch as well. Prices (according to the website) are £8.90 for adults, £6.90 for children, but there are vouchers available. Overall I did enjoy my second visit to the Model Village, but I'd definitely recommend a brolly because if it rains and you are exploring there aren't any shelters available. It was nice to see that although there were some maintenance problems, it was obvious to see that work was being carried out to expand the park and displays. It's just a shame that this effort wasn't put into ensuring the entire village was maintained before expanding. As an adult I am unable to comment on how enjoyable the village would be for a child, but it is very enjoyable for adults, and from the delighted yells from all over the park I gather that children seemed to be appreciating it. And like I said before, it's amazing to see what imagination can do. Just remember to charge your camera batteries, if only for the owls! The website for the Model Village with opening times and events is: http://www.babbacombemodelvillage.co.uk
I visited the Model Village in Babbacombe over the summer. I wanted to take my Godson's brother (I will shorten his name to H) somewhere for the day because he sometimes feels left out since his little brother always get the attention from everyone. So I told H that we were going on a special day out just me and him. H is four so he was very excited about this. I have been to the Model Village before but when I had been much younger so it was nice to see it again myself. On the drive over to the Model Village I tried explaining to H what the day would entail. I could see in his face that he was completely confused by my description which was somewhere along the lines of 'it is like a large garden which has lots of small houses and trains with lots of small people'. It is quite a difficult attraction to explain to a four year old. Babbacombe is basically part of Torquay, it is just one mile from Torquay Harbour. Babbacombe is known for its number of chip shops, theatre, its beautiful Babbacombe Downs green (perfect for dog walking) and of course well known for its beach. ------------------------- What is the Model Village --------------------------- It is quite self explanatory really. It is a large outdoor area that has been transformed into a miniature village of Babbacombe with scenes with the church, thatches roof houses, shops etc and other scenes reflect other tourist and well known land marks in the UK for example, Stonehenge .. It was opened in 1963 in Babbacombe, Devon after a successful Model Village had been opened in Southport six years before. The Babbacombe Model Village is spread over four acres of land so there is a lot to see. It is a popular tourist attraction in the area and is usually quite busy. -------------------------- When we arrived ------------------------------ Outside the Model Village is a massive car park which is very convenient but you have to pay unfortunately and you don't get it back even if you are buying tickets in the Model Village because it is a separate car park not run by the Model Village. Just as you make it into the Model Village there is an undercover area where reception is in which to buy tickets. ------------------------- Ticket prices: ----------------------------- Adult = £8.50 Senior = £7.75 Child (3 to 14 years) = £6.25 There are certain family discounts but it does not accumulate to much of a discount really. There is chance at reception to buy tickets for the 4D Theatre Show which is £1.50 per person (but personally I would not waste your money with this). ----------------------- Opening times ------------------------ These vary depending on what time of the year it is but generally it is open 10am till 5.30pm. ---------------------- Other information ------------------------ Dogs are welcome in the Model Village which is always nice to know but they must of course be kept on a lead. If you need a postcode in order to find the Model Village for your satnav it is TQ1 4PR. The path following around the Model Village is large enough for wheel chair users. Entry is free for wheel chair users and there is a reduced charge for their carers. -------------- Once we got outside to the miniature world ----------------- H was getting very excited and I saw a Where's Wally sign and remembered that you could search for Wally around the Model Village in various different scenes. I tried to explain this to H but he was so memorised by the miniature villages he could see ahead of him that he was not too interested about Wally. He was probably too young to understand it anyway. As you embark the tour of the Model Village there is a small pathway which directs you around it. At each different scene there is a speaker set which you can press in different languages to hear what the scene's history is. H kept pressing it in different languages finding it very funny. An example of a scene was a collection of people standing waiting to board a train (the train actually moves around the entire model village) then you see the train stop at different other platforms throughout the Model Village. There are then scenes with people for example, playing bowls which is something that used to and is still done on Babbacombe Downs but by the older generation now. There are scenes of people gardening, shopping, at an airport etc. There is also a section in the Model Village of make believe scenes with dragons and castles which H found the most fascinating. As we got past the first lot of miniature scenes we came to a small bridge which had some small boats in it and lots of fish (real fish that is). The fish were extremely large golden orange fish which H kept pointing at and wanted me to find them fascinating with him. Throughout the first scenes H was most fascinated by the train that moved in and out of these scenes and he tried to follow the train (which was very sweet asking if it was Thomas's train - Thomas the Tank Engine that is). As we past more scenes we came to an indoor area full of moving trains that you could operate from outside a screen. Luckily I caught sight of a train that was actually Thomas the Tank Engine, so I picked H up and showed him. I think this was the highlight of the trip for him and he started waving and saying hi to Thomas. Then as we came out of this area we came across more scenes and then H needed the toilet so we had to find the toilets and then come back to where we had finished off before. There was then another indoor area which was almost pitch black where there were small scenes behind see-through plastic screens and you press buttons to make the scenes light up. I thought H would really like this area because there were lots of television scenes like Harry Potter, middle age scenes and dinosaur scenes. But unfortunately I think he was a little bit young to understand it all. However near the end of the scenes there was a small ride (like the fireman Sam rides you see outside Sainsbury) and of course H's face lit up and he had to go on it. I have such a lovely picture of him on it but I do not want to put it up without permission from his parents. So I think that if I asked H about the day we went to the Model Village he would probably only remember the Thomas the Tank Engine train and this ride... the main part of the attraction to the Model Village went straight over his head. Part of the way around I could tell that he was a little bit bored of seeing the different scenes. I had to be overly enthusiastic about everything to get him to be slightly enthusiastic... like 'woah look at that fire engine can you see the smoke coming out of that house? Do you think there has been a fire?' H is quite a shy little boy so most of his responses were 'yea' and pointing at it. Nearer to the end of the outdoor area between two scenes is a very small dip of water (used by tourists as a wishing well). When I saw it I showed H what it was and what he had to do. So I picked him up and gave him a penny to make a wish. Then he wanted another and another... I told him that you could only make one wish but he didn't care he still had to throw in several pennies... oh well who needs pennies taking up their purse space? I obviously don't. At the end of the outdoor area you go back into an indoor area which consists of a cafe and gift shop. This is never a good idea having a gift shop there with little girls and boys. So of course H saw a small pocket sized train with names on. So we found his name and I bought it for him, it was luckily only £1.99 so it was not breaking the bank (but all these extras like that, plus car parking and food all adds up). Also in the gift shop was lots of Where's Wally books to in keep with this theme from outdoors. I hope to buy one of these for H when he is older and understands it. I remember my brother being heavily into Where's Wally when he was younger with books and puzzles. The cafe is a very plain looking place; it is called Gulliver's Cafe. It is open from 10am till 5pm with food to order from 12pm till 3pm. The cafe menu consists of items from hot meals to cream teas. But when I looked at the prices I thought I would rather take H to a cafe down the road on Babbacombe Downs which I know sells fantastic food (called Angels cafe - you must pop in there for an Angel's tea if you are in that area and their homemade cakes are to die for!) If you finish the Model Village quite quickly and want to use up some time somewhere else there is a fantastic green to walk along which circles Oddicombe beach which is below. Or you can make your way down to Oddicombe beach with a lovely walk and the historic cliff railway which can take you down to the beach. ------------------- Overall ---------------------- The Model Village is a great place to take the kids on a pleasant day. However if the weather is not good then it can ruin the whole experience. On all the booklets for the Model Village it talks about a great day out there, but in all honestly it is a maximum of 2 or 3 hours there, perhaps not even that. So it is an expensive trip for somewhere just for a couple of hours but it is something which you must do if in the area with kids. The outdoor area of the Model Village is lovely to see with all the greenery and beautifully kept gardens. It was a lovely couple of hours for H to get to know me better and it gave him my 100% attention without his baby brother. I took some lovely photographs of him with the greenery behind him and the miniature houses. So it gave me a great photo to put into a photo frame for his parents for Christmas. Perhaps if H had been a year or two older it would have been a better experience for him to understand more of what was going on in the scenes at the Model Village. So perhaps only take children who are a minimum of 6 years old to get your money's worth. In hindsight I could probably have got away without paying for H since he was a very small four year old and kids are free under three years old but oh well. It was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours and I loved spending the time with H trying to explain different things to him. I give it 3 stars because it is quite overpriced and it can only occupy the kids for a couple of hours not the entire day unfortunately.
If you are in the Torquay area Babbacome Model village is definitely worth a look. It's very easy to get to. The admission prices are Adult £8.50 and Child (3-14yrs) £6.25. I found this to be a bit expensive for a model village but I was very surprised how big it was, as from the pictures it did look quite a small place. We went as four adults and it took us between 1 and 2 hours to walk around it. You could obviously spend more time looking at the little towns and villages in detail but we still looked at everything possible. I could imagine if you have children this would be a great place to take them for a couple of hours, but I imagine for a family visit that's a pretty expensive couple of hours. There are lots of tiny little scenes going on in this model village and you do feel like you and I have to say the mechanics of the whole operation are very impressive. There are little situations going on everywhere. I particularly like the miniature circus. I would say this is a great couple of hours but I was a bit shocked at the price, it almost made me want to stay a bit longer to get my moneys worth!
As we have been visiting my family in South Devon we have been taking in some of the local attractions. One of these is the delightful Babbacombe Model Village which is on the outskirts of Torquay. As my daughters both love playing with their dolls houses I had a sneaky suspicion that an entire village filled with miniature buildings would go down a treat with them and I was right! They absolutely loved their visit to the model village. The village has been a part of Babbacombe since 1963 and has been continually added to and updated over the years. It is set into the side of a steep incline which means that as you walk around there is a lot of steps and slopes to climb up and down. This makes it quite difficult for people with mobility problems. I took my mum who has leg problems and she found the slopes quite difficult but was relieved to discover that there are quite a few benches and seats spread around the site that she could make use of. Although on the website it states that there is wheelchair access, I think it would be quite difficult for wheelchair users to get around. Once in the village there is a one way route to take to ensure that you see all of the models. I also think that it is definitely worth buying a guide so that you appreciate all that there is to see. On your way round you will see so many different buildings and activity and these are all listed in the guide. These include a farm, Stonehenge, 'Wombley' stadium, a beach including a nudist section (my girls thought this was very cheeky!), a cinema, a fire station, a church and so on. I'm not sure how many different buildings there are but there were definitely quite a few. In and around all of the buildings were lots of miniature folk engaged in all sorts of activities and according to the guide the population of the village is about 13,000. Although many of the buildings have been there quite a while there were some nice modern touches. For example, the cinema was showing the latest Harry Potter film and there is the construction site for the 2012 Olympics which is actually due to be finished in that year. Maybe I will have to go back then to take a look at how it all turns out! There is also quite a lot of humour in the exhibits too such as the cheeky nudists on the beach and at the wedding in front of the church the bride is carrying the groom! There is also a 'Where's Wally?' challenge which is a lot of fun for children and adults alike. Scattered around the different buildings, there are some Wally figures and the challenge is to spot them just like in the books. There is also a Letterland character treasure hunt for children. The twenty six letters of the alphabet are all in different places and the children are given a sheet of clues to help them find them. This was a bit advanced for my two daughters so they didn't bother with this and anyway, it wasn't necessary as they were just happy to wander about and look at everything. There are a number of railways running about the site and this seems to be a big feature to see all the trains connecting the different area. There is also a large train layout in a separate building which would be a must for all enthusiasts. There was another building which had lots of little models that were meant to light up and move when you pressed a button. Unfortunately this was a bit hit and miss as some worked and some didn't. I thought that the entire village was laid out beautiful. Particularly impressive were all the shrubs and dwarf conifers that make the site looking so green and lush. Apparently there are over 400 varieties. There is so much to take in and it's definitely worth taking your time as there are so many little details to take in. In fact it was a little bit wasted on my two daughters who do not have the patience to stop and look at anything for long! There is also a 4D theatre (£1.50 per person) and a birds of prey exhibition which we did not see during our visit. There is a nice little cafe on the site with reasonable prices for teas, coffees, cold drinks and snacks. It is unfortunate with two small children in tow that this backs on to the gift shop which you have to go through in order to leave. We visited the village during the day but if you go in the evening you can see lots of the buildings illuminated which I'm sure would have been lovely. Once you have paid your entrance fee for the day, you can come back later if you want provided you have had your hand stamped in the gift shop. We did toy with the idea of returning in the evening, but as I would have wanted to bring the girls back with their dad and not their Nan we would have paid extra for him which would have worked out quite expensive. This brings me to my one complaint about the model village which is how much it costs to get in! The admission prices are: Adult£8.25 Senior/Concession £7.25 Child (3 to 14 yrs) £5.95 We bought a family ticket to save a bit of money and that cost £25.95. This might not sound too pricey to you, but you are unlikely to spend much more than an hour wandering around the site and that is about the same amount of money that it costs to spend a whole day at Slimbridge Wetland Centre and much more than a whole day at Kew Gardens! (see my other reviews). I do appreciate that we could have returned in the evening which would have made it better value. It is interesting to read in the guide how the admission money is spent and as there are some very skilled craftsmen to pay who continually update the site I won't begrudge the money too much. It doesn't help however, that the village does not have its own car parking so added to the price you end up paying over £2 to park! (Oh dear - I think I'm beginning to sound like Scrooge!) Apart from the prices though, the model village is definitely worth a visit if you are in the Torquay area.
I visited the model village as a child and decide to take my own kids whilst in the area. You have to pay for parking and entrance price is comparable to other attractions but have a hunt on the web before you go and you will probably find discount vouchers like we did. It will probably take you about two hours, but the trip can be combined with a visit to lovely Babbacombe beach and the cliff railway for a day out- just leaves your car in the car park and walk down after. The village itself is gorgeous. So much work goes into keeping it so and the attention to detail is great with a subtle sense of humour you may need to look twice to notice. My son loved the boats and trains best I would like to come back in the evening when it is illuminated and winter when its apparently sprayed with fake snow for a winter wonderland effect. The 4D cinema was worth an extra £1.50 and was entertaining. Cafe and toilets look clean and well kept staff friendly and helpful.
Babbacombe is a lovely place with plenty to do and I would give the model village a wide birth, mainly because it is way overpriced. Entry costs are as follows: Adult £8.25, child (3-14) £5.95, Senior/concession £7.25, under 3's free. Ok, for a model village it is large but it's very repetitive and isn't even based on any particular village which means it completely lacks any interesting points. In addition I don't think it's been updated since the 1980's everything is very dated; there are some voice over buttons for some areas which display area of work or industry, most of them don't work and the ones that did haven't been changed for years; one of them told us that by the year 2000 there will be 5 wind farms in the UK; we visited in 2009! It is very difficult to take a buggy around the village (which we weren't even told when we paid) and it is completely inaccessible for wheelchair users. I can only describe the experience as a complte and utter waste of time and money. The best thing about the model Village is the 15minute 4D cinema screening which you have to pay EXTRA for!
This model village is amazing and if you are expecting a few metres square of little models you could look at in ten minutes then think again. It covers a huge area and you follow around a circuit to enable you to see it all, including many things at different angles. There are a lot of steep steps so it might be difficult with a pushchair or buggy. The shear variety of things to see is astonishing. It is more like a large town than a village, but still with village charm. There is a train weaving its way through the landscape, a lake, football stadium, industrial area and many other things you might not expect as well as the usual assortment of houses, churches etc. There is also lots of lovely greenery courtesy of the mini gardeners. There is something for all ages and interests and you could spend two or three hours looking around at what all the little people are doing! Included in the ticket is a return visit at night when you can see the whole village lit up, including inside all the houses which gives it a whole new perspective. There was also an alien laser show which might be enjoyed by younger visiters but wasn't all that spectacular after the model village.
Last weekend we were in Torquay and decided to go and visit Babbacombe model village. At first we thought £5.40 was a bit steep to look at a few models but as it was highly recommended we decided to have a look. From the outside it looks like nothing but once past the pay kiosk you have a birds eye view of the village and what a village it is. It is a village with everything from a small row of houses to a football stadium and a circus to a nudist beach. There is lots of things to look at and you can easily spend an hour or two without getting bored. I had a few favourites including the cottage on fire, Wombley Stadium and the Circus. The cottage was realistic with what looked like real fire and the fireman putting it out with the water from the hose. Wombley stadium had a football match going on and it was even complete with a streaker running across the pitch. The creators of this village have got a really good imagination especially to come up with some of the residents names. As this is a fun place to go let’s try make this opinion fun for you. Sorry if I fail miserably but I’ll try my best. I have listed some of the names of the residents/ shops below. See if you can guess what their occupation is. For example T. Brake owns a Snack shop (Tea Break), Wayout is the name of the Inn. Try some for yourself, the answers are at the end of the opinion. Shortback and Sydes Annie Seedball W.C. Plugg C.Rott and D.Kay Penny Sillin I. Pullem Hart A Tack Theresa Green It is fun to look around at little things like this as you are going around. If you have children there are plenty of fun things to do to keep them occupied. There is a number trail for them to follow and look out for. Also there are Where’s Wally points around the village with fun things for you to find such as the sleeping gardener. There are also information points around giving you history information about the model fea tured. I also liked the train that went around the village. This looked very realistic and the station looked really funny with all the people waiting. Fortunately when we went the sun was shining but if it happens to rain there are still things to look at. They have indoor displays as well which accommodate a large number of people. They have miniature replicas of famous buildings such as Taj Mahal, Sydney Opera House and the Statue of Liberty. You can also buy a Souvenir Guide for £2.25. I thought this was worth it as there are some good photos inside and it also tells you quite a lot. There is a cafe there that sells small snacks and drinks and sweets. Next door to this there is a small gift shop that sell a variety of small models and specialise in Hornby trains. There is a pay and display car park outside the village. when we went we walked from the centre of Torquay but there is also a free bus you can get from Torquay which runs frequently and can take you to and from the village. What amazes me is the maintenance that goes into the models. The model village was first opened in 1963 and some of these models have been there for years. However the grounds are in excellent condition and everything is working well. If you like looking at different flowers and also fish there are hundreds to see in the beautiful gardens. I definitely recommend it to children and adults and I would go back. I really enjoyed it and would love to go and see it at night to see the added features. Answers Gents Hairdressers Confectioner Plumber Estate Agent Chemist Dentist Squash Club 8. Landscape Gardener How many did you get?
Babbacombe Model Village is the best of it’s kind that I have seen anywhere in the country. It is situated a couple of miles inland from Torquay on the south Devon coast. There is a large car park, which is pay and display. I thought that this was a bit of a cheek really, as you would only need to park here if you were visiting the model village. The entrance fee to the actual model village is £5 each for adults, I’m sorry I didn’t notice how much it was for children, and it is open every day except Christmas Day. The day we went it was showery and so we were given a free plastic mac in a little bag, in case the heavens opened while we were half way round. I thought that this was a nice touch even though we didn’t have cause to use them. I’m sure they’ll come in useful one day! The children are also given games and competitions to do as they walk round. There’s an alphabet challenge where they have to spot all the letters of the alphabet ‘hidden’ amongst the displays. There’s a competition called ‘Where’s Wally?’ for which they can win a free prize and there’s an Agatha Christie conundrum. As we walked though the turnstiles it did begin to rain quite sharply so we dived straight into the café for a cup of tea. The café is set up a slight incline so that, when you are inside, you have a panoramic view of the whole of the model village. It stocks drinks, cakes, biscuits and light snacks. In the same building as the café there is also a small gift shop selling mementoes of the model village and you can also buy return tickets for £2.50 each (adult) to revisit the village in the evening when it is floodlit - more about this later. When we had finished our tea and the rain had stopped we ventured out for our tour of the model village. I won’t attempt to tell you about things in the strict order in which we saw them as I would never remember them all, so I’ll just tell you about all the things that appealed to me in random order! There is a viewing terrace with an open-air teashop at the top of the model village as you first go in and the view from here is really amazing. It was from here that we appreciated the sheer size of the site. As you would imagine there are a lot of houses in the model village. These are faithful representations of real houses and the detail on these and everything else here is perfect. There is an avenue of houses, with someone mowing his lawn and various people standing gossiping. There is even a TV in one of the houses, which actually works – mind you it takes someone with better eyesight than me to see what was on! There was a farm complete with animals and farm machinery, and a mine with the entire pit head machinery working. The beach next to a small lake had a special area for nudists, Dave just had to look through the zoom of the camera! There was a car ferry go backwards and forwards across the lake and a cliff lift going up and down by the side of the beach. They have now got a wind farm with one of the windmills that you see so many of down in Cornwall, and also an earth satellite station with a receiver dish modelled on the ones at Goonhilly. The football ground is called Wombley Stadium and has a match in progress complete with a streaker running across the pitch. You can hear the crowd shouting and see the score flashing across the electronic scoreboard. I think the score was Torquay united 3 Manchester United 1 – in their dreams! There were various clubs such as a health club, and old people’s club and a cricket club with a match in progress on the pitch. The village green was playing host to the smallest flower show in the world, with marquees full of pots of flowers and stalls all around selling food and drinks. The centre of the model village was a town with floodlit advertisements like the ones in Piccadilly Circus. It is well worth stopping to read the names of the shops, as some of them are really funny. The only one I can remember is Robin M Blind the Turf Accountant, but that gives you the general idea. Talking of funny names my favourite of all is the name of the stately home. It is called Lordelpus Hall – say it out loud to yourself if you don’t see why it’s funny! There is a miniature playground on the outskirts of the town with children playing on see saws and swings etc. On the far side of the model village is a hydroelectric power station, with the water cascading from it. This is quite new and very impressive. There is a circus arriving in town with the animals in cages and the big top constructed in the park, with trapeze artists practising inside. There are also one or two hotels and pubs around the village. At one of the hotels the window cleaner is busy at work and he finds a naked lady in her bathroom! The village boasts two churches one of which has some lovely stained glass windows. Towards the end of the tour there is a house with its thatched roof on fire, with the fire brigade trying to extinguish it. The real smoke and flames are clearly visible, this is even more impressive at night. There is an indoor display of some of the famous landmarks of the world including the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower and there is an excellent model of Stonehenge outside. In the indoor display there is also a mediaeval tableau and you have to find all the things that are out of place such as a mobile phone, Coca-Cola can, vacuum cleaner etc. I have to confess that we stood there ages trying to spot everything! The miniature train runs all around the model village passing over a beautiful suspension bridge on its journey to the little station with passengers waiting on the platform. There are tw o or three sets of toilets strategically placed around the village. I had to laugh at the notice on the one. It said ‘International Toilets – Way In is Russian, Inside is European and Way out is Finnish! The thing that really puzzled me was how on earth do they keep the grass so short? All the grass and hedges were real and the trees were all bonsai, but there was no way that a lawnmower could get onto the small areas of grass. I had visions of someone with nail scissors crouching down to cut all the little lawns! We did buy return tickets and went again at night. I didn’t realise that there would be so much more to see! Every streetlight and the car headlight were switched on and there were lights in nearly all of the houses. It was much easier to see what was inside the houses and every one was furnished with a family living there. The floodlights were on at the football ground and the flashing lights in the disco were clearly visible. The town was a mass of lights as all the advertising hoardings were flashing on and off. There were laser beams flashing around all the time and suddenly a voice came over the loudspeaker system to tell us that the earth station had picked up messages from outer space. The lasers focused on one spot and a miniature UFO came down and hovered above the ground complete with ‘space’ type music. It moved up and down a few times before finally disappearing. We both really enjoyed our time there and were both glad that we had returned, as it looked quite different at night. One tip – if you do go – wear some comfortable shoes – there’s a lot of model village to walk round!