Where a man's a man, and the children dance to the Pipes of Pan

Avebury Travel Blog

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This was a big day. Before I was a WWII geek, and before I was an Anglophile long back to my early childhood, just after my obsession with dinosaurs there came... Stonehenge. And today I would see it.

True to form, I was up entirely too early and stumbled out into the street chipper as all git out. I took the tube to the fancy hotel district (it was that far away) and started to look for the tour bus. Unfortunately, the instructions for catching the bus were unclear given the lack of street signs and building numbers, but I eventually found it and got on board. I had booked the '5000 Years in a Day Tour' from Stonehenge Tours. Our driver was a cheery Australian woman, and we set out under a beautiful sunny morning towards the English countryside.

Our first stop had been Old Sarum, the location of William the Conqueror's royal palace.

It was a fascinating site, especially in terms of how small a royal palace would have been at the time. I shudder to think of the size of the peasant's homes.

Our next stop was Salisbury Cathedral. This architecturally stunning building was a real pleasure to behold, and while there I was also able to gaze in awe at a copy of the Magna Carta, and also to check out The RIfles Museum, dedicated to the infantry regiments of Berkshire and Wiltshire.

Our next stop was The George Hotel in Amesbury, where we had a quick lunch.

It's supposedly haunted, but the only mystery was how my food disappeared so quickly (and anyone who knows me also knows that this is no bug mystery.)

Next up was the big deal. Stonehenge. The Henge. The Henge-inator. The first thing that came to mind was how small it was (followed quickly by memories of Spinal Tap.) While still an amazing feat given the technological challenges that had to be overcome for it to be built, it's a lot smaller than it looks on TV. I guess it's true what they say about the camera adding 10000 tonnes. Our time there was too brief, and at the same time too long. I could have stayed there all afternoon soaking in the age and the mystery, but we were restricted to such a thin strip of sidewalk so far from the site itself and it eventually got to the point where I could no longer walk back and forth around the site. With mingled regret and relief, I passed through the turn style and into the gift shop, and the out onto the bus ( with souvenir T-shirt in hand.)

Our next and final stop was Avebury, where a much older and much large stone circle is to be found bisected by the extension of a nearby village (which extension consists primarily of a kitschy tourist shop.

)  In many ways, it is more interesting and fulfilling that Stonehenge, largely because we could walk amongst the stones, touch them and feel a part of a mysterious past.

There was a long ride home through rush hour traffic that I thankfully napped through most of. Arriving somewhat earlier than I expected, I had time to catch a play. I chose The Complete History of America (abridged) by the Reduced Shakespeare Company at the Criterion Theatre. I managed to get a very cheap seat because it was 'partially obstructed' (which it wasn't really) and enjoyed quite a few giggles. Them boys sure know funny.

On the way home, I stopped off at Harry Ramden's across the street from the hostel and had some nearly authentic fish and chips with mushy peas. It was nearly orgasmic.

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photo by: tj1777