Sunday, 5 May 2013

London Day 7 - Bath, Lacock & Stonehenge

For the Namesake. Not a Pole in Sight. Heavy Lifting for Posterity.

16 °C

The Premium Tour offers several packages to Stonehenge, we joined one called "Stonehenge private viewing at Sunset".

Instead of taking a long trip from London just to see Stonehenge, the Premium Tour offers a combination of different destinations in between to break up the monotony of a long coach trip. In this case, there're 3 desinations in all with Stonehenge being the last stop.

We waited for the bus at a place not far from the Gloucester Road station, which is not far away from where we stayed at around 10:30am.

This tour have made me conclude that UK tour guides are the funniest.

As we driving away from London, we were pointed out various points of interests such as Daniel Ratcliff's (of Harry Potter fame) place in Fullham. We also drove past Box where Wilbert Awdry - the creator of Thomas the Tank Engine - lived. There's a Tank Engine in his front yard. So there's no mistaken about it that this was his residence.

We stopped at Bath, Somerset about 2pm. We were only given 2 hours there, which is hardly done the City of Bath any justice. Including waiting to get inside, it took nearly 30 mins just on the Roman Bath. So we just grabbed a quick hotdog for lunch, and literally run around to cover as many places as possible. The hotdog didn't last us very long.

Pulteney Bridge, Bath, Somerset, UK
Looks like a street lines with shop.
This is a well known Pulteney Bridge

Pulteney Bridge, Bath, Somerset, UK
This Pulteney Bridge is inspired by another even better known
bridge Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy

The 1st time I heard of the name Bath, I couldn't believe because it has a Roman Bath there. It makes too much sense. I'm convinced now as I saw it with my own eyes. I even have photographic evidence to back it up.
Roman Bath, Bath, Somerset, UK
Roman Bath

Jane Austen lived there once, hence the Jan Austen Museum. Of course, we didn't have time to visit it. A couple of her novels also set in this city.

We stopped at Lacock for dinner. It was about 5pm when we got there.

Lacock (pronouce 'lay-cock', not 'lah-cock') is a Saxon Village (call it Gregorian Village if you must. I won't argue with you). The National Trust tries to preserve its original state by hiding all the ugly modern infrastructure like telegraph and lamp posts from this village, making it a very attractive backdrop for film studios who want to film period pieces.

Lacock village, Wiltshire, UK
Nice not to have all the poles get in the way of the photo

 This place provided settings for the British Pride and Prejudice mini TV series, as well as several Harry Potter movies.

Elizabethan building, Lacock village, Wiltshire, UK
A nice Elizabethan building
After dinner, we headed for our last destination Stonehenge.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK
Since the Stonehenge was built before the invention of writing, it means it would keep archaeologists employed in the business of guessing the purpose of this elegant Neolithic Age structure. "From that little groove on the tooth, we could deduce that this society is very much interested in the playing of Game Boy". Ok, I'm making it up. The archaeologists too are making things up, it's just their guesses are a bit more educated than the educated laymen.

Stonehenge with sun shining through the gap, Whiltshire, UK
Nat Geo made a doco titled Stonehenge: Decoded (2008), where prof. Mike Parker Pearson offered his latest theory, which is probably not the last.

He theorised that Stonehenge is a Temple of the Death to honour their ancestors, as supposed to the prevailing theory that it was a Temple of the Sun as part of the sun worshipping religion (Aussies are also Sun Worshipers, but in a more down to earth manner). Before that, it was suggested that the structure was served as an observatory of the Moon.

Regardless of which theory you subscribe to, one couldn't help but admire how these Neolithic Age villagers managed to haul these some as heavy as 50 tonne giant Sarsen monoliths from a distance of some 40 kms away. It probably took them months, maybe years to pull each stones before the invention of wheels. I guess the tree logs on the ground where the monoliths being dragged along were functioned as wheels.

There are 2 layers or levels of admission to the Stonehenge. The Stonehenge is surrounded by a metal lattice fencing some 30 - 50 metres away. You can look at Stonehenge from outside this fence at a distance.

If you join a tour group, some will let you into the metal fencing, but there's one more barricade a few metres from the structure. This barricade looks like the one of those velvet rope dividers that you see outside a discotheque or in a bank branch for people to queue up. We joined the "private viewing" tour, this means we could get inside the Stonehenge, and walked among the structure, and touch the stones and achieved immortality (well, will see about that in a 100 years or so, won't we?).

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