14.04.2011 - 15.04.2011
Day trip from Bath to Wells, Avebury, and Glastonbury
Today seemed to center around the spiritual realm in a number of ways. Any of you that have traveled to Europe and seen first-hand the Starbucks-esque profusion of cathedrals might assume it would be only natural to be thinking along those lines. Not so. Our minds were brought closer to the Heavens not by anything so lofty as stained glass and flying buttresses, but by the simple fact it was my first day driving the rental car.
Even dear old mum in her church-going ways has not heard the name of the Lord evoked so many times and in such fervor in such a short period of time. The first utterance was when the rental attendant picked us up in a late-model Jaguar, and I had a flash premonition of my house and firstborn being taken as payment for demolishing the Jag in a sheep related accident.
The attendant (aside from being one of those absolutely DARLING disheveled British boys with the kind of cheeks you have to keep your hands in fists to keep from pinching) was extremely helpful once we got back to the lot and he showed us the actual car we’d be driving. I’m still not sure if it’s an omen, but the car is equipped with suicide doors in the rear. It’s pretty darn cool, but when your nerves are already about to snap through your skin, the word ‘suicide’ doesn’t bode well. After waiting about ten minutes till we were sure they weren’t watching us out of the window, I crossed myself, peed a little, and put the car in first gear.
Suddenly driving on the opposite side of the road, steering from the opposite side of the car, shifting left handed, AND having to pull out onto a busy road make for an extremely nerve wracking morning. Mom took things like a champ and tried not to squeal too much as I bounced us off the curbs and pedestrians on the left (passenger) side of the roads. Though she did the Queen proud with her “keep calm and carry on” composure, she could certainly have used a much stronger Valium prescription. (I would know, since I replaced hers all with tic tacs, and I was still edgy as all hell after popping half a dozen.)
The ancient stones of Avebury mixed the ethereal with the earthy. The oddly shaped stones are scattered about the lovely hills, and cover an area almost 20x that of Stonehenge. You’re also not kept back from the rocks like at SH and can commune with whatever ancient energy ran through them. The sheep grazing amongst the stones certainly added to the scenery, but I must admit trekking through sheep muck detracted a bit from the mystical woo-woo factor the stones might otherwise impart.
Aside from the driving-by-feel adventures bringing to mind our mortality and thoughts of the afterlife, there were other ways that the spiritual realm was evoked. The Cathedral in Wells, of course, is jaw dropping in the architecture and detail put into every square inch of the lofty building. It’s mind boggling to think of the time and energies put into these churches, which is compounded by the sheer number of them. Teeny little towns have at least one church that would be the absolute centerpiece of practically any city in America, yet they seem to be peeking out from every town that has more than four people living in it. This one is exceptional, though, with a clock that tells time, date, and even has a little “show” that it puts on every fifteen minutes, with little horseriders running around the top of the clock bopping each other on the head. The double scissor support beams in the center of the church were just overwhelmingly spectacular, and seemed to leave us in a bit of an awestruck trance. Riding that high, we pressed on to Glastonbury, where we discovered a slightly different kind of high.
Glastonbury is the site of King Aurthur’s grave, a spectacular set of Abbey ruins, a handful of proper Englishmen, and about 9,000 hippies. The waft of hemp and patchouli brought us out of our transfixion, and we delved into our Mother Earth side of spirituality. It’s a beautiful town with a (perhaps herbally assisted) very mellow vibe, where every other shop window is lined with fairy wings, crystals and magic wands, and the good karma flows like wine.
It also hosts a rural life museum, which was oddly fun, mostly because it’s geared towards smaller kids, and there were few to be found, so mom and I got to play dress up and fiddle with all the displays without interruption.
King Arthur’s grave was remarkably nondescript, but apparently it’s a bit hit for the dead-heads, with whom it’s en vogue to lie on top of the grave. Mom and I both declined this ritual, as we’d both been close enough to our OWN automobile-induced graves not to need to push the envelope with Lady Luck.