Thursday, September 13, 2012

Heritage Visits Commence

So no big deal but I went to Downton Abbey today. Yeah that's right. Downton Abbey. And Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. It was a long day.
               Downton Abbey is not the actual name of the place. The real name is Highclere Castle and it is the ancestral home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. Beautiful and full of tourists it was a great way to start the day. I even had a couple ask me if I was an Olympian because I was wearing a coat that said World Dressage Masters on it. Wonder what would have happened had I said yes? I have been in houses like Highclere before but it was still a neat experience. I wish my mom and grandmother had been there to see it with me. I undoubtedly would have gotten a mini antique lesson in each of the rooms.
               After that we traveled to the mighty Stonehenge. It took my breath away and to be honest I had tears in my eyes when I got closer to it. Currently I am working on a new poem about it which I will put up shortly. There were way too many tourists for my taste and I think I bugged the warden a bit much because I asked way to many questions. oh well. I want to do some research on it  now and I cannot wait to get my little hands on a few Stonehenge books.  This might sound cheesy but I felt really connected to it. I am planning on going there on September 22nd for the Autumn Equinox. If you get there early in the morning (five a.m. wake up call, joy) the wardens will let you into the circle and let you stay there to watch the sun rise. So excited about it. It's hard to express it here but the closest I can come to it that I think it will be one of the most magical and profound experiences in my life. An early wakeup call will be well worth it.
               We then went to Salisbury and had a tour of Salisbury Cathedral. It is one of England's most spectacular Cathedrals built in a single phase in the 1200's. Its spire is 404ft tall and it houses the world's best preserved copy of the Magna Carta. Did you know that of the original 13, there are only 4 left? The carbon dating on some of the stain glass windows date it back to 1180 A.D. which puts them at some of the oldest in England and possibly the world, not quite sure about that though. The church itself is long enough to park two jumbo jets (without wings mind you), and it is the only cathedral where you can see directly from one end to the other. The huge spire itself was added after the church had finished and it too has an interesting story. When they were building the spire it became too heavy and the support columns became crooked (which you can actually see. Quite scary really). The church had two options: take it down or pray. They took the latter and prayed. A lot. When they finished building and it didn't fall down, they discovered that the farthest side of the church had been elevated about seven inches, the spire was leaning in the opposite direction that much. It now pitches and sways and has a distinct lean of 33 inches. And once a year some crazy Englishman scales the spire to do what? change a light bulb. It is so large that they had to put anti-aircraft lights at the top of the tower that need changing every year. And apparently these  lights have been the cause of some UFO sightings.
We ate a scrumptious dinner in Salisbury and headed up to my warm bed. More like a pallet really but oh well. By the time 10 P.M. rolled around it was lights out.

Amazing hot chocolate and chocolate brownie! Perfect for warming up!


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