Seeing Stonehenge

Trip Start May 04, 2007
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Trip End May 21, 2007


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Friday, May 18, 2007

18 May Friday

Today our travels took us to Salisbury, to see Salisbury Cathedral, and to see Stonehenge. Less Lees, an administrator at BPC, was our guide.

Because Less had to complete some work before leaving, we left around 11:30am. That was fine with us, as it gave us a leisurely morning to catch up on sleep and our blogs.

At 11:30, Less met us at the hotel and off we went. He'd never been to Stonehenge either, so he was interested in seeing it. Our first stop, though, was Salisbury Cathedral. Less, like all of our college guides, was full of useful information about the area.

He let me know that one of my favorite authors, William Golding, as a teacher at Salsbury for many years. One of Golding's novels, The Spire, (which I read many years ago) is about the building of Salisbury Cathedral. It was great to find out this unexpected literary connection.

Salisbury Cathedral, with the tallest spire in England, is beyond description. The spire dominates the landscape.

The close around it, unlike many of the other cathedrals we've visited, is still open, so that the cathedral stands in the midst of a large green space.

The scope of the arches, the stained glass windows, and the space in general is impressive. I was taken with the mosaics on the ceiling and the descriptions of how this large spire was built.

My photos and images, I don't think, really do justice to this space. Standing in the space just beneath the spire, I got a real sense of the desire that drove the expensive (in money, time, and lives) desire to create such a unique, sacred place.

We stopped by a pub, The Pen and Quill, for a bit of refreshment. Tory and I tried a new draft cider, which we appreciated. The spent the time in this quaint pub talking to Less about college and students. He's a very energetic, dynamic individual. I've enjoyed hearing his views, particularly on the arts.

It was too late to order food at the pub, so we decided to drive out to Stonehenge. The weather had started to turn blustery, which seemed appropriate for Stonehenge. I was surprised that it was right off the main road-I expected it to be farther away from traffic. As we walked up, it started to drizzle, with a gusty windy tossing the raindrops around.

At first, Stonehenge seems just like a bit pile of old, musty rocks. But the more we walked around it, the more I was impressed by the engineering of how this large, heavy rocks were imported from quite a distance to this place and stacked upon each other. Less and I were particularly taken by the engineering it took to lock the stones together. It looked like a standing stone had, on its top, a rounded bump that fit into a concave hole carved into the stone laying horizontally on top of the standing stone.  

I was also drawn into the question of why-why was this built, why these rocks, why this design. The audio guide we had provided little help, as it seemed to repeat the same "why" questions with few answers. It basically confirmed that we still know very little about Stonehenge.

We stayed as long as we could, but the rain finally drove us back to the car. We needed to get back to the hotel, to prepare for our farewell dinner with our BPC colleagues.

Less dropped us at the hotel. Lawrence met us at 7pm, and walked with us over to Gondola's, a local Italian place. There we met up with our curriculum partners-Louise, Roy, and Jacob-and our guides for the past weeks-Rob, Less, and Claire. We spent the night talking about a variety of topics, mostly non-school related. I sat next to Rob, Less, and Roy, who good heartedly ribbed each other about different football allegiances, Roy and Lawrence's
"secret" club (actually, they meet to share academic writings), and about our experiences over the last two weeks. The camaraderie brought home the feelings I've had since I got here-these are dedicated, engaging individuals that I hope to know beyond this exchange. I like all them and hope to visit them again.

After a hearty meal and good talk, it was time to head back to the hotel. We made our goodbyes after making plans to meet again on Sunday, and walked with upbeat spirits back to the hotel.
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