Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dover and Stonehenge


The day after Hampton Court, we packed up our bags, drug them to the train, and set out for Dover to pick up a rental car.  We chose to do this to be able to bypass London traffic and to see the cliffs.  Though we had many challenges with driving and navigating, I am happy with our choice. 

At the Dover train station, we hailed a cab.  In my research, I knew that the Enterprise car rental from the train was towards the channel and to the right, the Avis driver turned to the left.  However, since I didn't "know" the area, I figured when he turned right, he knew what he was doing.  He pulled into Hertz.  Hum….  We backtracked and ended going in the left.  The trip ended up being a little over five pounds.  I believe he finagled another pound from us by going the "wrong" way. 

The mechanic at Avis insisted we drive up to the Castle and to a museum in the little town of Dover.  The three of us acted interested.  Normally, I would be game to see the local interests, but our mission was to attempt to see three sights: the Cliffs of Dover, Stonehenge, and Glastonbury Abbey.  Our time in Dover was limited.  Our first stop after getting the car was at a car park next to a trail that led up the white cliffs.

I soaked up the salty air of the English Channel and grinned as I looked out across the waves and saw the French coast.  Ships crossed the water.  I longed to be on one coming from the continent to have the cliffs grow in size as we sailed closer.  I love to sail.  Another day. 

 
France in the Distance


As it was, I enjoyed stretching out my legs on the dirt path, instead of concrete.  Horses grazed above above the trail and the castle stood off on a hill across from us. 




Dover Castle
I could have spent the entire day roaming the area.  The cliffs, though beautiful, failed to meet my expectations.  Most of the stunning shots of the cliffs come from the channel.  A few other specific spots run along the cliffs other photos to capture the majestic lines.  With our limited time, I wasn't able to find those spots.  Instead, we jumped back into the car for our next sight.






After making one or two wrong turns, signing and roundabouts equaled our Achilles heal, we pulled into the car park for Stonehenge after passing a turn off for a military installation.  I would love to  stop to see a British fort.  Again, another day.

I had thought we would see Stonehenge from the motorway or even the car park, but we had to be bused to the area.  I sat on the seat, bouncing along on the dirt road, in anticipation of seeing the ancient marvel.  As the bus came to a stop, I looked over and the stones greeted us from about a quarter of a mile away.  Stepping off the bus, the wind blew over the green grass.  Sheep grazed off to the right in a field.  A couple people walked across the grass up to the fence to gaze at the stones.  Some people must not like paying the fee to get closer.

I enjoyed walking along the path that formed a half circle around the giant rocks.  Of course, walking through the stones would be phenomenal, but really, with all the tourists, I wouldn't have liked to share.  Besides, I was happy that the lack of traffic kept the grass from being stomped on by all the feet.  The sight truly is beautiful.  I hoped to feel a moving of spirits, but I felt nothing.  My attention turned to the birds.

In all my readings of gothic romances, rooks are mentioned often.  The two attendants of the sight fed the birds as the visitors wandered around.  We stopped to chat with them.  The black birds are rooks.  I have finally seen them.  Nothing out of the ordinary, but now I have a real idea of the feathered creatures.  The other bird being fed is called a European Starling.  These little guys have the most lovely coloring.  I enjoyed snapping pictures of them.

Rook


European Starling
European Starling, what a beauty.




The attendants also explained to us the line of vehicles on a dirt road off to the side.  Many druids and pagans come to the sight.  Since they come for religious purposes, they are allowed to park on the road for up to two hours.  They have to leave but can come back later in the day.  During the solstice, they are given free access to the stones to perform their rituals.  I was fascinated by all of this.  "Can regular people come at this time to witness the rituals?" I asked, realizing the "regular people" was a bit rude.  She thought that would probably be possible.  How much fun would that be?  I would love to see it.  A friend thinks we should dress up as druids and attend.  Tempting!

 
Druids and Pagans

Another oddity about the area, my sister pointed out a square cement section in one of the rocks.  Come to find out, weather and possibly man created extensive erosion of one of the rocks, creating a big hole.  Back in the fifties or sixties, a person took a picture of a couple of people having a picnic inside the rock.  To stop further erosion and potential danger of people being crushed, the cement was poured.  We also learned that during the Tudor age a common practice of taking pieces of the rock home caused further erosion.  The guide said the Tudors had a lot to be reprimanded for which I would learn more of that the next day of our trip.

 
Reinforced Rock

Back at the car park, my sister pointed out a beautiful sight.  Two tracked military vehicles drove up the road and past us.  Yay!  I love tracked vehicles and always feel a tug of my heart strings.  The worst part of being retired is that I will never have the chance to drive them again.  I will say, if I ever win the lottery or make it big as a writer, I would be mighty tempted to buy a piece of land and a tank.  Oh, the fun I could have!  Instead, I drooled as they drove by and I snapped a couple of pictures.


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