To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Well, here we are a month later, ha ha.

...F and I, and the other tourists, boarded the van to go to Stonehenge.  It was a very nice van.  We didn't have both a driver and a tour guide, but the driver took charge of the group and told us what to expect and so forth.  Most of the other tourists weren't speaking English, and F and I noticed that actually, most of the people we saw out in public were speaking other languages, or at least English with other accents.

It was cold.  The van displayed the temperature outside and it was 9° C, which translates to 48° F.  Drove out of London and through the pretty countryside, looking at the rolling downs (meadows to us) with pretty yellow flowers the driver said was rapeseed, from which we get canola oil.

And then outside the van window we saw this:

Those things to the left are sheep.

And I want to talk about the setting for a moment.  You can read about Stonehenge anywhere.  It's about 5000 years old, was worked on and added to for about 1500 years, and so on and so forth, but when you are there the striking thing is the complete normalcy of the landscape around it:  rolling downs and grazing sheep.

You can see this in the video here.

There is no feature on the landscape that would have told those Neolithic people that this was the spot - nothing we can see, anyway.  I'm sure the area has been scanned for radioactivity and magnetism and things of that nature.  They had to carve this volcanic rock in Wales and drag it around, maybe on rafts up the Avon river or whatever, to this spot.

If you have any knowledge of the mythology of the British Isles, or if you have read books like Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill (highly recommended by me if you have kids) it's impossible not to think that maybe all those hundreds and hundreds of years ago there was something going on here, something to do with the Old People, that led the humans to build this thing in this spot.  And then when the Romans came in, or maybe before that when the Angles and Saxons came in, the Old People dwindled and finally disappeared and there's no way to tell what was there before.  [Edit - whoops!  The Angles and Saxons were after the Romans.]

We walked around it and looked at it from different angles, fixing it in our minds.  You can carry an audio device with earphones that lets you listen to little talks about it.  Eventually we found our way to the gift shop (of course) and then bought a sandwich to share, and some hot drinks because it was COLD, and sat at a picnic table.  (I want to mention that the sandwich had tomato, cheese of some kind, and avocado, and it was delicious.)

There were some military people there, oldish men wearing olive drab uniforms with lots of stars on the chests and shoulders, and hats and so forth.  I could not tell what country they were from.  Some Eastern European country I think - couldn't read the writing but it wasn't Cyrillic so I don't know.  They were kind of stalking around, not looking at anyone.

And eventually we went back.  This time we took the tube straight to the bus stop we had wanted to go to in the first place, and then the bus to the hotel, so we knew how to get where we were going the next day when we started first thing.

Dinner at the hotel and then bed.  F and I were both really tired still.


Pierre Corneille said...

These posts are fascinating. My only forays outside the US have been to Canada, which was fun, but I would like to go to England someday.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

We're already making plans to go back. Could not possibly see and do everything we wanted.