Monday, August 10, 2015

Stonehenge!

Pages from Jan's Travel Journal: April 27, 2015

How nice it was to sleep late and wake refreshed and ready for adventure. We all met for breakfast downstairs, and it was a decent hot breakfast with lots of items from which to choose. After walking into town, we had more coffee at Starbuck's and then did a bit of browsing in the shops. It was fun to wander around in such a lovely town as Bath. There was so much to see and do. Even simply viewing the amazing architecture was a thrill.

We had a wonderful lunch at Sally Lunn's. It was in a quaint, old building and is, in fact, the oldest home in Bath. We all ordered the House Blend tea, which was incredibly good. The shop is famous for the Sally Lunn bun and there is a story to go along with it.


Sally Lunn's, Bath UK
Craig and I at Sally Lunn's Eating House in Bath.

I ordered a bowl of pureed vegetable soup, which was very good. Served alongside the soup was a quarter of the famous bun which had been toasted and slathered with butter. I also had a half bun that was spread with lemon curd and served with clotted cream. It was amazingly delicious! Darcy and Mathieu chose the bun served with dilled cream cheese, smoked Scottish salmon, and lemon. It was superb. They had a dessert of apple cake with clotted cream. Craig ordered the vegetable soup and Welsh rarebit, which was served on a Sally Lunn bun. It was a fun and delectable meal. If you dine there, don't miss the little museum in the basement.  


Lunch was a treat at Sally Lunn's.

A Sally Lunn bun with lemon curd
 and clotted cream. Heavenly!

Craig, Mathieu, and Darcy in Bath UK.

After that fantastic lunch, it was time to board a tour bus to Stonehenge! I could hardly believe that another dream was about to come true. I had wanted to visit Stonehenge for as long as I could remember. In fact, we were all looking forward to it. Darcy had visited the ancient monument on an earlier trip to England but was still eager to view it again. We had a great driver, John, who had a wonderful sense of humour and was also very well organized. As we approached the visitor's center where we would board larger buses that would take us to the stones, I began to feel very emotional. This experience had been on my bucket list forever. I felt as if this were some sort of pilgrimage.

The visitors center is situated about a mile from the ancient stones. They can't be seen from that location, which is good. It's much more dramatic to come upon Stonehenge as you crest a low hill and see the standing stones in the distance. It is possible to disembark the bus at the halfway point and follow a path which will take you to the stones, passing at least one of the ancient burial mounds which are scattered across the gentle, green hills.

We left the bus with our audio guides in hand and began to follow the path that encircles the stones. The information on the audio guides is very thorough and if I wanted even more information, I was able to push another button to learn more about a particular subject. I learned more from that little device than I had ever discovered via any other source.


My first glimpse of Stonehenge.

The area was not as crowded as I had thought it would be. That may have been due to the exceptionally chilly weather.  It was quite breezy and very cold, even though the sun was shining. However, in spite of some discomfort, we were all awed by the monumental stones. And that is putting it mildly. It is truly a breathtaking experience. 


Stonehenge was absolutely amazing!

I am certain it was no accident that the standing stones were placed upon the hill in such a manner that they appear to tower over you when you are standing at the "front" and seem smaller when you are looking at them from the other side. We found it very sad that there has been vandalism to the stones in recent years that necessitated restricting access to them. It's impossible to walk among the stones. One can only stand in wonder and gaze at them. But that was enough, though I did wish we could have been there at a time when there were fewer visitors, perhaps very early or later in the day. I felt as if I needed some time alone with those ancient, mysterious rocks which have aroused curiosity for ages.


What an incredible visit to Stonehenge!

Darcy and Mathieu at Stonehenge.

We would have remained out there much longer, but wanted to visit the exhibition at the visitors center before heading back to the bus. We looked at an outdoor display which explained how the heavy stones had been transported. We also saw replicas of the huts that would have provided shelter for the workers all those years ago. They were circular, thatched huts which contained unique beds and shelves made from interwoven branches. They were very impressive. There was more to see, but we all wanted a hot drink before returning to the bus. I will never forget my visit to Stonehenge. It was everything I had dreamed it would be.

That evening, we shopped a bit at Sainsbury's, which is a very popular grocery chain in the U.K. There, we were able to purchase items that are hard to find in France and the U.S. It was fun to wander through that store. I was pleased to find out that they all have honeybee hotels within them. Save the bees! 

Later, we had supper at a pub. Craig tried the fish and chips, I had a steak and ale pie, Mathieu enjoyed a pumpkin veggie burger, and Darcy chose the salmon. They tried more local brews while I sipped my ginger beer. It was a pleasant meal and we finished our evening with a game of Racko in our hotel room.


Steak and Ale pie at a pub in Bath.


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