Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 1: Standing Stones

So, the reason I haven't been around much the last few weeks, was that I was on vacation--the longest vacation I've had in some time, thirteen days traveling through England and a bit of the Netherlands. I have zillions of pictures (and no actual crafting content at the moment) so I'll be posting my trip diary and pictures in chunks over the next week or so.

6/23 Wednesday- Got out of work early as planned due to a combination of good preparation and ruthlessly pushing my remaining tasks out two weeks. The flight was uneventful except for managing to get over three hours of sleep (a new record for me). This was due to a) being tired, 2) having abstained from caffeine all day (not even soft drinks), and c) drinking wine with dinner. This not only made the flight go by fairly quickly, but made a remarkable difference to how tired I felt.

6/24 Thursday- Arrived at Heathrow around 5 am and took the express train to Paddington, feeling somewhat better than I deserved, as I said. Which is not to say good. Jet lag tends to give me an upset stomach. However, I took acid blockers and forced myself to eat a banana and some yogurt. My stomach wasn't entirely happy about this--my body clock was telling me it was midnight, and certainly not time to eat anything. But we dropped half our luggage at the left luggage service and then took a stroll before our next train. About halfway through that, the bright morning sun worked its magic and my stomach stopped feeling upset and emitted a loud growl. If it could speak it would have said, "All right, all right. The sun is shining, it's morning. You call yogurt and a lousy banana breakfast?" After that, things went better.

We took the train to Swindon, and left luggage at our hotel, then set off for the cycle hire shop JT had found online. It was located in a park outside the city, and proved to be a moderate if pleasant walk. Until we arrived and found out that they were only open on weekends and holidays. Argh. The plan had been to rent bicycles and cycle to Avebury, a Neolithic stone circle and a World Heritage site. We caught a bus back to the downtown, and then found another bus that would take us to Avebury.

The monumental stones at Avebury are awesome in the literal sense.

Not so much because of their size- most of them were smaller than the stones at Stonehenge, but because these were built slightly earlier, it's much larger, and the stones are surrounded by an immense ditch. It took over a thousand years to build. Just think. Over four times as long as the US has existed, these people patiently dug ditches with primitive tools- the ditches were dug using deer antler picks- and hauled stones into place for circles and avenues. We have no idea why they did it- faith, fear, some reason we'd consider nonsense, or that we couldn't understand at all.

We walked around the perimeter of the circle and partway down the long avenue that led to distant barrows. Wherever the turf was worn through, the underlying chalk showed through, pure and white.
Chalk paths like milk

Thanks to the diversion of the morning, we had to drop our planned visit to the Great Western Railway Museum. We came back to the hotel, finally checked in, went back out for dinner and then crashed.

Slideshow of more Avebury photos: (You can click on the show to see it with larger photos.)


  1. Fun stuff! We were both on the same island, at the same time, looking at similar things. I got way too many pics to show, too.

  2. What great pictures! (And it only took me 3 days to realize that there were pictures I wasn't seeing through Bloglines. I know--I should have been a rocket scientist.......)