On the road again…

13 03 2011

With less than four hours of sleep, I was up with the sun.  Well, without it really.  London and its suburbs are funny like that.  A continuous grey haze of clouds resides over the city and you know that somewhere up there is the sun but you cannot see it.  One Londoner told me they had seen the glowing object in the sky once, many years ago, and out of concern it was a UFO they had contacted their government only to learn that it was supposed to be there.  (I suppose it was more comical to hear it with his accent telling the tale, but at the time, I laughed.)

We’d gotten in to the hotel between 2 and 3 and I’d tossed and turned from about 3 til 4 am.  Now it was 7:30 and I was wide awake.  I woke everyone else up and got them started on showering and getting ready.  Meanwhile, I sat down at the desk and wrote a pleading email to the hotel chain.  I’d already paid for five days’ stay and I wanted to be anywhere but here, could they please take pity on us and move us anywhere but here?

Today’s plans were Wiltshire and I whitled out Stonehenge and Avebury for time.  We’d see Woodhenge and Old Sarum then come back to the hotel to sleep, it sounded agreeable to everyone.  And I resumed a battle from the prior night with Glenn.  On the long drive from Birmingham to Farnborough (Farn-bro) he’d decided somewhere around Reading that a feasible means of staying awake would be to push my buttons into an argument.  It worked until I had finally asked him why he was looking for a fight, to which he answered simply – to stay awake on the road.

I’d never fully handled my anger and it was still sitting right on the brim of my mind.  And as I’d enough stress I needed to alleviate, it was a good choice subject to start with.  He didn’t agree.  We bickered most of the way to Woodhenge and even upon arriving we stayed in the car and bickered more, while the kids got out of the car to go check out the cement stumps.  Nothing on the whole trip had been going anywhere near to plan and I was miserable.  And to make matters worse the one person who should be my rock, my strength, my calm nurturer is picking fights with me by choice.  I didn’t hold anything back.

He ended the argument with a whatever (evidently having ample enough sleep to not need an argument this morning) and we stood at odds outside the vehicle.  So much so I couldn’t even appropriately take in the site.  It was my own fault, I could have let sleeping dogs lie, but so be it.  I wasn’t missing much though really.

The English government at some point had the foresight to drive a main road right through the heart of the largest man-made henge in their lands – Durrington Wall.  Bisected on an angle, they demolished the integrity of this neolithic earthwork many years ago.  The sign below makes it able to really see the destruction; but I’ll say in their defense that they didn’t “realize” the earthwork was an earthwork until after they put the A road through the place.  And that was then the realized there were several timber circles there initially.

Woodhenge sits across one of the three roads at Durrington Walls, its wooden posts long ago removed and replaced with cement stumps – much like you would see at a gas station.  It’s hard to visually appreciate a field of cement stumps.  The grave site in the center of the young child found here is nothing more than a mound of stones thrown together.  I think if they’d taken the time to construct the cement posts to any height other than two feet you could at least get a better feel for how the site might have looked.

But the girls appreciated the view and they tried to cheer me.  After they piled back in the car I went over to Glenn and tried to make amends.  Just give me a hug, make it all better and we talked quietly, apologizing for the rough start.  He stared off at the Durrington Walls in silence as we hugged.

Are you ready I asked.  But no, he was still looking at the stone circle.  I looked over in the direction he was looking in utter confusion.  Stone circle?  There are no stone rings here.  But Glenn pointed out to me the Northern Circle, a spot by the tree way off in the distance surrounded by whitish-grey stumps.  Stumps that moved.  Sheep.

We had a good laugh and loaded back into the car.  The girls were happy knowing we weren’t fighting any longer and I debated our next destination.  Stonehenge was literally an intersection away but I had no intention of paying the outrageous fees to not actually see Stonehenge any better than we would from the side of the road.

The roads were under construction and the next intersection wound up being a nice drive through the country and rolling hills and confusing roundabouts.  As Stonehenge came into view though, the entire vehicle was filled with gasps and ahhs.

While it was very impressive, majestic and grand – it wasn’t what I had thought it would be.  There was no overwhelming desire to sit in stone ring (I couldn’t if I had wanted to) or reach out to touch them (couldn’t if I had so desired).  They really did nothing for me.  Not to minimize the impressiveness of the stones, but it was like looking at an impressive looking house and nothing more.  Ooo, look at the design, take a picture.  Next.

But we did get out of the car and walk the sidewalk outside.  We were twenty feet from the stones.  The suckers who paid ten pounds or so a person were ten feet from them.  Our view was just as unobstructed as theirs.

We took a quick trip into the gift shop, which was supposed to be only accessed by paying guests, but after being requested, the attendant allowed us to go in.  By doing so, we were now able to go through the passageway to see the stones.  Glenn asked if we should but I said no.  I’d already seen the price of karma for taking advantage of the honour system in this country – we would not make a repeat of this mistake.

After a deluge of pictures we set out once more for the road, now for Old Sarum.

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