Stonehenge, Bath and Bristol

Trip Start May 30, 2008
Trip End Nov 02, 2008

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Where I stayed
Alex and Jane's

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, June 8, 2008

After a lovely meal in an English pub, the Moon and Stars, with Marion and Steve, Lesley and Steve, and Laura and Richard (with bread and brandy pudding, tia maria cheesecake, meringue, and  sticky toffee pudding for dessert, yum!), I stayed at Steve and Leslie's place overnight.

Talk about a traditional English country experience - they live in a thatched cottage in a little village in the country side. Woke up in the morning to the view of a great spotted woodpecker, a cute little robin, and a black squirrel. Oh, and then I got stung by nettles - very Enid Blyton of me. Went for a little (muddy) ramble down to the local church and back with Leslie, then we set off on our adventure to Stonehenge.

After a pub lunch of Stilton cheese and Wiltshire ham sandwiches, we drove to a big pile of rocks that some people had chucked in a Salisbury meadow 5000 years ago. We got the audio tour walky talky things, and, although it made me laugh to see the mobs of tourist all holding these stupid phones to their ears as they walked slowly around the henge, the actual information was really good.

I took lots of notes that I won't bore you with here, but the basic thing I got out of the tour is that they have no fricken idea why the stones were put there at all. There's lots of theories about its use as a calendar, an astrological compass of a sort, a religious/spiritual worshipping point or even just to impress/intimidate people who came to their land. But no-one knows. It's very impressive though, particularly around the back where most of the stones are still in situ.

Stayed with Steve's brother Alex and his wife Jane in a town outside of Bath, and drank Pimms on the lawn in the sunshine. The weather is absolutely fantastic here - the sun is shining and the temperature is warm (not hot). Touch wood it stays that way.

The next morning, after sampling the many delights of English food - elderflower cream and gooseberries - we got on our way to Bath. The Therme baths have just opened there recently, and Lesley and I wanted the full experience. We immediately went up to the rooftop area, where you can bathe in a sea of bubbles (I felt like I was in a glass of champagne) and look out over the beautiful stone buildings of Bath. Then we steamed ourselves in the different aromatherapy saunas, doused ourselves under a giant waterfall and soaked our feet in the little foot spas.

Bath, as a town, is absolutely gorgeous, particularly when the sun is shining. The Abbey is massive and all the buildings are made of beautiful stone. You can easily imagine Jane Austen strolling along the laneways on her way to find a suitable bonnet for the next ball she would be attending.

Met up with Stuart and Miele, which was really great but it felt so strange in this context, meeting halfway around the world. After a bit (a lot) of cider and beer, we jumped on a tourist bus to see the sights of Bath from the comfort of a double decker. It made me laugh to hear that when Queen Victoria was a young woman (she was Princess at the time), she came to Bath to ceremoniosly open up a garden. But after she had left, a journalist made a snide comment about her 'dowdy' dress sense. So she refused to return to the place for the rest of her life, and even when she was travelling through to get to Bristol, she made her servants close the curtains of her carriage, so she didn't have to see the horrible place. Smack down!

Speaking of Bristol, we went last night for a delicious Indian thali, perhaps the best and most authentic tasting Indian I've ever had. Walked around the town and I fell in love. We stumbled upon a cute little hippie music festival, tucked away through a tunnel, and the vibe was so cool. People drinking, dancing, joking around. I wanted to live there immediately. We drove to the river to check out the narrow boats and there were people everywhere, drinking beers , chilling out, riding bikes, and generally having a great time. We then walked over the Clifton suspension bridge( known for its suicides apparently)  at twilight, and in the distance saw people releasing heaps of lit Chinese lantern air balloons, that went up and up into the sky towards the stars. I will have to return to Bristol soon - it's calling to me.

Off to Wales today for a Sunday lunch at Faith's house, then onto the Welsh coastline tomorrow.
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lind on

So Jealous
Jo, this is great. Sounds like you are having heaps of fun. Wish we were there, but probably you don't!

I want that Pimms..., so will have to make do with champers.

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