Sunday, August 1, 2010
Stonehenge, Sarum and Salisbury
It was less than two hours from London to Stonehenge and the drive is nice and easy once you're out of London. Following our maps with me barking directions while Fen sped his way through the country roads - we drove up a hill and there it was - Stonehenge. I was surprised how close to the road it was - just about 50 feet - it was all fenced off and you cannot just wander over to it but it's right there for the world to see. I don't know what I was expecting - I always assumed it was in the middle of nowhere and we'd have to walk a distance to see it from a crest of a hill, swirled in a mist with celtic music mysteriously tinkling o'er the land - or something (I have romantic notions about all things historical).
We parked and went in and I was immediately awestruck at how truly huge and amazing it is. It's hard to get lost in your thoughts and try to imagine how they were built and the history and people it has seen when you have two small children. But I did manage to admire it and attempted to imagine it 2000+ years ago for about five minutes. Because as we wandered, we decided to pose for photos (see above) but Cate decided to make a break for it; she ducked under the rope and sprinted across the grass heading straight for the great stones! Fen was right behind her, but she is one slippery little girl - there is a ditch on the far end and she was already at the top of the other side when Fen finally caught her. The crowd was really amused - I was horrified. She was completely unfazed by her law-breaking. We left shortly after.
We drove down to Salisbury which is a very, very charming town. We drove past Old Sarum, which was the original Salisbury - they built Salisbury when the walls of Sarum proved too small to accomodate the growing population. The cathedral is magnificent. We wandered through it for a long time reading tombstones and absorbing the history. So many of the women buried there were very young and I'm guessing that a lot of them died during childbirth. Makes me wonder if I would have survived having Cate 100 years ago.
River Avon, was like a walk through time. We stayed at a small hotel and had breakfast at the Kings Head Inn which is this gorgeous pub right on the river. I thought it was very charming. The river, however, is very small at this point. We did cross it at several points where it was a larger river, but here it's rather shallow and not very wide but quiet lovely, flanked with weeping willows and swans. And it's the river Avon that inspired Shakespeare!
That morning we went to Old Sarum - the ancient ruins of the first settlement in that area. It's very impressive. I cannot imagine how they built these magnificent castles. Here is X - the King of Old Sarum and Cate who took up croquet on the courtyard lawn!