i didn't visit stonehenge. my brother does not share the general english view that it's not worth the trouble, what with being both expensive AND fenced-off so that one cannot commune with the stones. he says it's magnificent just as it is, which i get because that's how i felt about niagara. it should have been cheapened by the tourist glitz and silliness, the hotels and tour boats and helicopters and the maddeningly awful lights behind the falls at night. yet they rise above it all, and still awe the soul.
i'll bet stonehenge is like that.
but i don't know for sure. didn't see avebury either, although that and glastonbury were hugely on my wanna-see list. one can only do so much in 2 weeks.
but i did get to see castlerigg circle, high in the hills of the lake district above the town of cheswick (pronounced chez-ick) which is apparently comprised entirely of B&Bs. the pictures on the website looked wild and lonely, far from human habitation, doubtless accessible only after a strenuous hike of hours.
we met a lovely young couple at our B&B in scotland who were from cheswick, and pleased to hear my enthusiastic anticipation of their hometown. but when i waxed rhapsodic at the prospect of castlerigg and its lonely isolation, the young woman uncomfortably informed us that it's actually less than a mile outside of town, and that you just drive up to it and park.
and sure enough, after a climb steep enough to have our little vauxhall corsa gasping and begging for mercy, we came upon a lot of parked cars and (disconcertingly) an ice cream truck. we had found our mecca!
as we extricated ourselves from the car (we had to park in a prickly ditch), struggled into our macs (drizzle threatened) and our backpacks (never travel without water and plenty of digestive biscuits), a group of about a dozen stalwart british ladies preceded us into the field, striking a chill into my heart. and sure enough, they marched over to the circle, talking animatedly, made their way to the inner circle and ensconced themselves comfortably upon the aunciente stones, passing around thermoses of tea and unwrapping- i kid you not- an entire iced cake which they sliced and handed round with napkins and forks (real forks, not plastic.) i have never seen such a thing. i thought it only occurred in alice through the looking glass. they talked and tittered loudly, taking lots of pictures of each other and thoroughly enjoying their tea, whilst i slunk around the perimeter, trying to simply enjoy the staggering vista of hills and dramatic clouds, and not glare at them.
and the vista was truly staggering. let's see if LJ will let me post some pics without making me nut up.....
nope. apparently not.
i really need to find another blog format. LJ has become too cumbersome and dated, not to mention expensive.
well, the vista was staggering. you'll just have to take my word for it. david wandered off to the edge of the field, past the sacred (and ubiquitous) sheep, and found a wonderful stairsteppy stile over an ancient stone wall, with an enigmatic lone standing stone near it, far from the circle. there was a partially burned log nearby, several wilting bouquets of flowers, and a brilliantly blooming yellow rose bush. i'd love to know what the scoop is.
i continued to prowl and glare. the Tittering Ladies continued to titter and take pictures of each other. david found the remnants of incense at the base of one of the biggest stones. yay! worship takes place here still!
people came and went. the Tittering Ladies stayed. david started to make 'have we seen enough?' movements. i squinched my eyes shut and mentally begged/threatened/importuned/menaced.
and the Tittering Ladies shared a final hearty guffaw, assiduously picked up their trash, and vacated the inner circle. i sent them mental thanks, gave their backsides mental kicks, and pounced upon the inner circle before anyone else could claim it.
i'd love to say the hair rose on the back of my neck, and that i heard the whispered invocations across the turgid centuries, that robed figures and faint torches imprinted themselves spectrally upon my consciousness. none of this happened. and yet it was still wonderful, beautiful, memorable. david took a picture of me within it, and then wandered off to have a word with the sheep while i did a quiet but palpable Elemental Balancing Ritual.
and then we went for a thumping good hike.