Saturday, 31 December 2011

A Neolithic Adventure

 As 2011 ends and we look ahead to the future, Betty has been busy exploring the distant past - having a bit of a neolithic adventure with Ann. 

On Friday we looked at the grey sky, shrugged, packed warm clothes and headed to Wiltshire, through the sorts of places that I always think of as the Real England: tumbledown ramshackle villages with narrow streets and thatched-roof cottages; hedgerows and woodlands where you expect to see Tom Bombadil or Bilbo Baggins, and rolling swathes of green fields full of standing stones and barrows.

First stop: Stonehenge. It was a wee bit chilly and there was a very light sprinkle of rather cold rain - but it couldn''t extinguish the excitement I felt at finally seeing Stonehenge in the flesh. Pity there were all those barrier ropes. And tourists. ;-)
Back in the car, we drove through increasingly crappy weather. Bruce the GPS refused to find our next destination, so I was given the task of navigating. I know some people will be laughing at that, but I'll have you know I can read a road map very well. We did not get lost. Not even once. The next stop was the West Kennet Long Barrow, a neolithic communal tomb, just a short walk through slippery mud next to the A4, and I got us there with no problems at all.

On the way we had a couple of brief photo stops. I had a bit of a Wind in the Willows moment when I spied these riverboats moored at Upavon (at least, I think that's where it was),

and when I saw (on my trusty road-map) that there was a village called Huish up ahead, we just had to do a little detour (Huish is my daughter-in-law's maiden name).

Eventually we got to where we wanted to go:

It's just on the other side of the A4 from Silbury Hill, which is another neolithic construction. In Wiltshire you fall over a henge or a barrow every five minutes!

After checking out the barrow we pressed on, in even worse weather, to Avebury, a little village that has sprouted in the very midst of a henge and a cluster of standing stones, and which is one of England's most important sites for modern pagans.

 We were very fortunate to have the company and expertise of Gordon, who is the Wiccan high priest of Avebury, explaining the stones to us. We were very unfortunate that the weather was so disgusting - that steady soaking rain that you think isn't too bad until you realise you're drenched - so we didn't get to walk around all the stones. We did, however, get to 'debrief' at the Red Lion afterwards!


SuPine said...

You are in the UK? The other side of the country to me though - I am in Norfolk.
Enjoy your visit and a happy new year to you - health and happiness in 2012.

Geoff James said...

Great to see you discovering ancient Britain my sister-in-law lives quite close by. However, the weather has reminded me about one of the reasons we emigrated to NZ all those years ago!!

May you have a fabulous 2012

Sue said...

Happy New Year to you too, folks! Am currently at my cousin's in Kent. We had a wild old New Year's Eve (the first I've stayed awake for in quite some years!) Here's to a terrific 2012, everybody!

Geoff James said...

Ahhh... Kent. Where Jennie and I were married! She originally came from the village of Hildenborough just south of Sevenoaks.

Gerry said...

Bloody neoliths... There oughta be a law against 'em !!! :-)

Barbara W said...

I just finished the Apricot Colonel and saw your acknowledgement and knew that enough time had passed-stop procrastinating and make contact. 'occasional betty' got to me to your musings on the neoliths. Bloody typical and so wonderful to know you are off somewhere having more adventure. When you are back in concrete land let me tell you about my weekend in Stockholm. Maurice and I often wonder where you are up to.

Sue said...

Saint Bar-Bar-A! How fabulously brilliant to hear from you! I'm back in the country (but not concrete land at the moment - have been in my capitalist pig-pen here in beautiful Mallacoota for a bikie holiday. Home tomorrow, and can't wait to hear about your Stockholm adventure :-) xox PS the acknowledgement in the Apricot Colonel is for a different Sue Hines - the famous Melbourne publisher (I love it when ppl think she's me - or I'm her - or something).