Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Exploring Salisbury and Somerset Plains

Hey guys,

Last time I left you I was complaining about the English Beer. That hasn't changed. It's still an acquired taste, but I did discover a beer I can tolerate, called Courage Bitter. Apparently you need courage to drink it, but I guess it's because it's colder and fizzier than typical English beer that they aren't used to.

The local pubs around here are pretty cool, one pub even has a karaoke machine, which I occasionally partake in I after a few drinks! The English friends I was with were trying to get me to try new things, like pork crackling instead of peanuts, and their ciders, which are awful but is the local drink of the south west of England.

There are so many things to so and do in England, all within close vicinity and all quite expensive to do them. It's amazing how much they would charge you public transport to go a couple of miles. It is however, worth it, because the stuff you get to see is pretty awesome!

Because I had a week off work due to school holidays, I thought I’d make the most of it by exploring the surrounding areas. So I started off doing a tour of Salisbury plains with Mad Max tours. It was a lot of fun, and I made some cool friends, Dan and Steph - a couple from NZ - and a funny German girl with an American accent called Sarah.

First stop was Stonehenge, which was something I’ve always wanted to see. It's much smaller than I thought it would be, but still impressive when you think about where they brought the stones from to build it (as far as Wales). Next stop was Avebury Stone Circles, not as famous as Stonehenge, but 16 times bigger, so big that the town of Avebury actually sits inside it. There are two smaller circles next to each other in the big circle, the northern male circle and southern female circle. There is a lot of electromagnetic energy coming from the center of the female circle, proven by scientific equipment to be true. Apparently they reckon the stone circles are a kind of temple for fertility - and so naturally, jokes of "Are you feeling virile yet" were exchanged during our stay there,

Next stop was Silbury Hill, the largest prehistoric man made mound in Britain. Underneath the mound is buried a large chalk pyramid, with mistletoe at the top. Because mistletoe is seen as seed of the gods, historians reckon it's a fertility symbol for the land itself. Why it's buried remains a mystery, but I reckon it's not to preserve like they think, but to strengthen the symbol by engulfing it in the very earth that it is meant to keep fertile.

Also saw one of the famous Wiltshire White horses, which is basically a large horse carved into the side of a hill, revealing the white chalk underneath it. Then we went to Lacock, (which we obviously made fun of the name). It's a pretty village that was used for filming Harry Potter, and Pride and Prejudice.

Then we went to Castle Combe, voted prettiest village in the UK, and it did not disappoint! There's no castle, which is weird, and apparently Doctor Doolittle was filmed there, but the town itself is so beautiful and peaceful. After that we ended up back in Bath. Had a few drinks afterwards with people, and Sarah and I took turns drawing portraits of each other (as she is an artist) - her portrait of me was cool, my portrait of her was not Who said I could draw?

Anyway, a few days later I went to Glastonbury in Somerset. Glastonbury is a very hippy new agey place because of the mythical energies etc in the place. Debbie/Issy you'd love it! Here I got to see Glastonbury Abbey, where the alleged grave of King Arthur is located, the abbey (which was now a ruin) was impressive. Also walked a great
distance to Glastonbury Tor, which is allegedly the famed Isle of Avalon, the gateway to the underworld in mythical legend. Didn't see any gateway to the afterlife but did see impressive views around. Also saw Chalice well, which is an unfaltering spring that apparently comes from the Holy Grail, which allegedly Joseph of Arimathea buried in the Tor. Tasted it, wasn't too bad, metallic due to the iron content (which explains the red residue left behind, adding to the Blood of Christ from the Grail legend.)

Stayed at Glastonbury Backpackers Hostel, the worst I’ve been in. Nothing worked, people were antisocial and one guy in the dorm room I was in stayed up the whole night laughing to himself. In hindsight I think he was stoned. He also hung his shirts around his bottom bunk bed like a tent, and had all these rock crystals near him. And he'd sit there all day doing nothing.

Next, I went to Wells to see the famed Wells Cathedral, with its scissor shaped arches holding the cathedral up. It was quite impressive. Also went to Wookey Hole Caves, which was nice but quite small. The next day was spent at Cheddar (where the famous cheese originated from), Cheddar Cave (and Gorge) were more impressive than Wookey Hole, got to see heaps of stalagmites and stuff. Unreal. Would have liked to have done the 3-mile walk around the gorge except it started raining.