Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stonehenge

I decided today would be a good day to post about Stonehenge, because it was sort of a little holiday during the work portion of my trip. A little two hour diversion. A respite. And, I need a respite on tax day. We - S and I - we parted with a big chunk of money today. Choke. Sniff. I know, I know - we should be thankful we both have good jobs and earn money that needs to be taxed.

Phooey.

I am thankful, but I HATE paying taxes. So, today, a little respite for you and me - a good memory. In homage to that money we used to have but now the government gets to spend.

While we were in Manchester, which as you will remember, is a good way up the land mass known as the United Kingdom, S decided to mosey over to the concierge at our hotel and ask him where Stonehenge was. I liken this to someone coming to the US - to Dallas, let's say - and walking up to the concierge at their hotel and saying, "Where is the Grand Canyon? I hear it's somewhere in the United States. Am I near there? Can you give me directions? And, while you're at it, can you write down directions to that place - what's the name - Niagara Falls? That's in this country too, isn't it? Am I near there?" Ahem, I think you get my point.

But, the thing is, in S's defense, we did not take any tour books for the UK because I was on business there and we knew we would not have much time to sight see. We figured we'd just see what we could walking about town, as I'm sure you've ascertained from the posts so far. I did, nonetheless, figure he gave the concierge and his friends a good laugh. Can you imagine the concierge, later that night at the pub, "You wouldn't believe what this dumb American asked me today. That bloke walked right up, standing in MANCHESTER, and asked me where the heck STONEHENGE is. I mean, get a bloody clue, gent. Blimey!"



Can you see it? Over there, off in the distance?

The concierge's reply was, "Well, it's a bit far from here." S explained we were setting out to drive about four hours south to Basingstoke the next morning, and asked him if it was anywhere near there. The concierge then said, "Yes, actually, it's only about 30 minutes from Basingstoke, and if you're that close it's worth a look see." So we look-saw.


The roundabout sign designated Stonehenge was nigh.


We bought the entry pass. We bought the book guide...


It's a popular place.


In the middle of nowhere.
Correction - about 30 minutes from Basingstoke.
In the middle of nowhere.


Surrounded by grazing sheep.



They didn't seem to mind the crowds.


We also bought the audio tour.
Dumb Americans.
It was, however, very informative.


There it is. In all it's glory!


A bunch of big rocks brought to this spot by an ancient civilization.


S took this one with the Powershot.
S is a good photographer, no?
And that little camera can take some mighty fine photos.


S also took this one.
I'm thinking of making it my Facebook profile photo.



Wait a minute - what's up with that?
Is that concrete? Did the ancients have concrete?

As it turns out, while they haven't moved any stones for quite some time, they have tried to "shore up" what is still there. You see, these are ruins and the original structure(s) would have gone all the way around with the connecting stones around the top. So, this concrete - it's a shoring up mechanism to preserve the space somewhat for future generations. Stonehenge is an English Heritage Site.


See there - the stones that form the rim - they would have originally gone all the way around.
(Again, S took this photo.)





There was all sorts of information in the audio tour about an "outer rim" of rocks that are no longer there at all, and an "inner rim" and how the rocks align with the sun and all about the path over the acreage to walk to this space and how it would not have been used every day, but only for special occasions, probably. It debunked a lot of the Stonehenge myths and legends, too. Very informative. Well worth the GBP we parted with, I am sure.



There he is - the man, the legend, the baggy jeans.
God love him. And so do I.


The ancients devised a way to hold up those top stones.
You can see the evidence here.



It's sort of like a mortise and tenon joinery - this little protrusion would have lined up with an indentation in the top stone.



Which now, of course, makes a great roost.


I caught this bird mid-flight and sort of liked the angle.



This is call the "heel rock" if I remember correctly.
It was on the walking path from the ancient village and pointed the way to the inner circle.


This one and the next couple are on the other side, into the sun.
I am not particularly fond of the sun haze shot.
But some people really like the effect.
Some people even add it in later in Photoshop.




OK, so this didn't really work, did it?


And to round out the post, the only photo of the two of us not taken by us from the entire trip.
Awwww.

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