Sunday, 31 May 2009

Stones a plenty

A Pensive mood in a mystical place of one so young, but this is another of Troy's favourite places to visit. As we drove towards Devizes I asked him where he would like to stop, Avebury or Stonehenge. Without any hesitancy Stonehenge sprang from his lips. So Lunch and a wander was on the agenda when we parked up in the overflow car park at Stonehenge.
First a quick jaunt for Willow who was bursting with energy and a need for the loo. She bounded across the field, dashing at me and the tall grasses before attending to her business.

I took this picture from the door of the van as I was making lunch. They are two of the many barrows which surround the countryside near the stones. Last time we came we walked across to them, but they are mounds which you can not enter. Of course not as they are burial mounds and we should not invade the privacy of the dead.

Once we were fully refreshed we set off to view the great circle as it is now. Of course we took our little dog, as it is a nice walk for her as well as us. However at the pay in kiosk I was told no dogs. `What do you mean, it's outside she can't hurt anything'. I replied aghast. `Health and Safety' Came the response. `Your having a laugh surely' Was all I could muster. `Those are the rules'. That did not satisfy me so I asked to speak to someone in authority, as surely a dog can not be a health and safety hazard in the outdoors. The gentleman hurried off and returned with a lady, who explained recently a dog had bitten a visitor whilst at another site, so they had been told no dogs anywhere. OK I have a reason for the health and safety jargon, why couldn't the man have said this instead of dismissing me. Perhaps all English Heritage workers should be informed of the reason and pacify their paying customers instead of dismissing them as if they are culprits and idiots. So our little dog was sanctioned to the van to await our return from our sojourn.

As English Hertiage members we were lucky not to have to queue too long, as we only need to show our card and we are free to go. As we walk through the underpass we can see the painting of the stones being hauled to their new home. `What if they were not hauled but sung into place' I put to Troy. He laughs `What singing stones' He enquires. Well it could be feasible if you work on the premise that everything resonates at a certain vibrational level. When someone sings high enough they can break a glass. So what if a choir sing together at different levels could this not help levitate things. Especially stones which have vibrations from the organisms they are composed of. This gives him food for thought as we start to come into view of the stones.

`But there are pictures of men hauling stones for the pyramids' He states. `I know but also remember that History is written by the winners, which does not always make it totally correct' I answer. I know he is pondering this conundrum I have posed, so I leave him with it. For nine years old he does well with logical questioning, but I don't want to persuade him, but let him make his own mind up.
As we stand in front of the circle of stones I tell him when I was his age I walked between the stones and touched them. He is aghast how could this be, they are fenced off and no one is allowed near, except on special occasions. `That's so unfair' He bleats. He would love nothing more than to be up close and personal with these gigantic monuments.
In years gone past we could do so much more, but the few spoiled it for the many as is often the case. Today we witnessed it with our little dog, she would no sooner lick you to death than attack anyone but has to be penalised because of an owners lack of responsibility. The stones were in danger of being broken, defaced and the circle disrupted beyond repair. So English Hertiage have saved them for all to see, but in doing so have denied many the opportunity to experience their full force.

It is an amazing piece of architecture created by our ancestors as what no one really knows. This is as close as you get to them, but they still are awe inspiring even to the young.

As we round the circle we come next to the busy A303, that is our way home once we hit the road again. As many people on the road as trundling around this site. There are so many visitors it's a wonder you are allowed to walk on the grass. Sorry the cynic in me takes over every now and again. I personally would have preferred to stop at Avebury, you can wander in and out of the stones which surround the village. The atmosphere there is one of peace and tranquility, rather than a herded walk in a fenced off area.

Then as quickly as we started we are at the end and on our way back to the underpass and into the gift shop. Troy has some money to spend, and finds a stone circle ring. Good choice. I purchase a new T-Shirt for him. This time it is Stonehenge at night. We are creatures of habit, as every time we visit I buy him a new T-Shirt. He was due a new one the other is a bit small now.
Our little dog is pleased we have returned, and we soon set off to complete our journey back to Canterbury.
A lass we have a small hiccup! Between the M20 and M2 we have to pull into a garage as the van is over heating. Poor Troy is beside himself, as there is smoke billowing past his window. If he could have escaped he would have, but not out of his door, no sirree that's to much like asking for trouble. When I pop the bonnet I am amazed to see the water reservoir for the radiator has no cap. It must have blown off, or something. I re-fill it twice, and leave it open to the air whilst I take a trip to the garage shop. I know I won't find a replacement cap, but there might be something I can use. I buy an emergency petrol cap, which is going to be too big, but it has a foam inner circle which I can use. So with some tin foil secured with the foam ring we are set to go again. By the way no one came and asked if I was alright or needed a hand!
We made it safely back, my Heath Robinson contraption worked a treat, staying securely in place, and we didn't over heat again. I thank the powers that be for guiding and protecting me as ever on my many adventures.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

The Glastonbury Experience

I did not expect to find a labyrinth laid out in the church yard of St John The Baptist in Glastonbury. Though why I do not know, as in this town anything goes. Multi faiths co-exist side by side without too much prejudice. You are not judged by what you wear or what you believe. It can be quiet refreshing to come here and be one with all around you. We have been coming to Glastonbury Town since Troy was Two and a Half, (he's nine now), staying a few days or a year depending on our fancy. This time we have been here for a week, catching up on old friends and places. It is only a small town but has a myriad of shops, catering for the tourists mostly. There is fantastic book shop here, where you can pick up some good bargains, along with unusual titles. The locals do not really bat an eye at all the visitors, as it is their main stay of income. There are always things going on at the town hall and assembly rooms, so it can be busy all year round.
As we walk in from the campsite we hardly meet anyone, and even as you approach the high street things seem ghostly quiet. Then as you round into the Market Square it can sometimes be difficult to see the pavement for the throng of feet traversing up and down the town. They are all off to their special destinations to gain that Glastonbury Experience.
This time we walked the Labyrinth and spent time in the Church. The architecture is amazing, beautifully carved pews and special chairs with wooden pegs as joints. There is a Green Man carved into the ceiling along with blues ceilings and stars. Exactly how it should be as one.
I had the feeling three weeks ago that I should learn to draw a Labyrinth, now I know why! I needed to draw it to walk it. It can make you feel heady and in need of some grounding when you come out. Yes even one as open as this can lift your energy.

Later the same day we headed for the Tor. We have walked this so many times, but each time it holds something new. There are two routes to and from the Tor, and usually we use both coming and going. This time we were going to walk, yes the Labyrinth around the Tor to the top, so had to start and finish from the same place. There is a beautiful wooden handrail up the path, especially for my poor old son, who finds this part quiet grueling to say the least. Then through the kissing gate to the outer field and the second kissing gate.

Now where do we start? I have a map a friend gave me, but it's difficult to find the start of the Labyrinth. We pick a part and I become uneasy. I'm not on the right level. Never mind we plod on, then we take off our boots. The earth feels so rich beneath our feet the grass so succulent. On no cow pats. I forgot the cows inhabit this land as well. We must also beware of thistles growing in the grass. Our little dog is enjoying racing on ahead, running through the longer grass. I can't quiet get in the spirit of things, and Troy is beginning to get a bit restless. How long before we get to the top, those sort of comments.
As we come to a concrete path I make a bold decision. Right boots on and upwards along the conventional path that takes us round the south east side.

Sometimes the Tor looks so far away others just above you it can be very disconcerting to the senses. This path looks as though it just disappears into the ground. Troy finds a cork in his pocket which Willow immediately snaps up as a plaything. So the rest of the walk up is concerned with throwing the cork and watching our little dog leap about to chase and catch it. She is having a wail of a time bounding up and down the slopes. Enchanting all those who pass us by.

The sun plays with the colours as we continue on our way, and as we round the hill it suddenly becomes darker and cooler as the sun hides behind the tower on top. We know it is still there as pale light exudes from the sky above, but the rays are not dazzling, sprinkling the ground with glitter, as before.

At the top you can see for miles. To the south east it is mostly farm land and villages, to the south west you can just make out Wells. The smallest City in England. Troy loves it up here you are so free and can imagin your self anywhere. He always says he can see the end of the world. This time he said `if I went right over there it would not be the end of the world'. How his thoughts have grown along with his stature.

A welcome rest and drink after the long haul up, as I busy myslef taking photos round and about. This is where the previous pearl of wisdom was deliberated upon as he sat taking in the surroundings. Willow is still busy rushing here and there, sniffing the grass and chasing her cork.
I still find it strange to find just this tower on the top. No other building or remanants of one are to be seen. It is called St Micheals Tower, but I'm still not sure of the story behind it. Although there is a plaque on the inside with information on. My mind can not absorb the details. Like all history it can be a bit vague.

It was beautiful and cool sitting inside the tower, and I was struck by the light refracting through the window spaces. The rainbow effect through the west facing aperture made me feel warm inside. Then as I looked up I felt as though I was in the bowels of the earth peeking up into the light and my way out. This does not feel as though it was just a tower once upon a time. More like a place of quiet and solitude. Well I feel very at peace whenever I sit in here.

As you look through the sun blots out what is on the other side, and can make you feel like you are stepping into another world. What awaits you as you step through the brilliant light, it can only be of your making. For us it is the descent and the lush colours which await our eyes. We have been followed by a butterfly all the way up and now on the way down. So I took a photo, but you can't really see it. Sorry no zoom, but it was a pretty brown and amber coloured one. I felt honoured by it's company. Once I had it's mug shot it disappeared into the blue yonder.

As we look back it always amazes us how far up we have been. Almost to the sky and back. It is never an ardous journey, more a pleasure to be treading the path of many a pilgrim or local. You meet so many different people at the top, all reveling in the view and atmosphere created up that far.
I find the best time to climb is morning or late afternoon. Some day I will do it just as day breaks, and watch the colours burst forth into the light

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

New adventures

It seems an age since I lasted posted. I have been busy since returning to Canterbury, after my hols in Glencoe. That was just what the Doctor order. A break in the country, peace, tranquility, good friends, good food and lots of space. They all make for a relaxing time when you can take stock of where you are and what your next plans are.
This blog has no pictures I'm afraid, as I really want to tell you a bit about myself and why I am doing what I'm doing. So here goes.
I am a qualified nurse and further education teacher who began to wake up back in 2002. I started to get out and about, camping during term breaks, visiting sites of antiquity like Stonehenge. These tantalised my senses and I began to seek out books around the subject of herbs, megaliths, ecopsychology and the like. This gave me a restless feeling inside, as though something was missing. We began to go camping at weekends as well as holidays, so increasing our time spent in nature. I worked hard, weekdays only, but 8.30 - 5.00 everyday. So to be able to get away from it all was a release in itself. I felt more alive when away from the humdrum of existence, as that is what life for me had become.
I had personal problems, as do most people, which had been shelved somewhere in my head. I had not buried them completely, so they would remind me of their presence every so often and try and entice me to deal with them. A bit like a school bully whose egging for a fight to prove they are stronger than you. I just drowned them in alcohol, not too much to be a problem but enough to stop their wittering. At least when I went camping I didn't need the alcohol. This was neutral territory, where I was living and gaining a bit of freedom to move forward. However, on return to the other world, I would quickly slip back in the fold and behave like a robot.
My son. Troy was coming up for school, and we had wanted a quiet little school where he would not get lost in a crowd. I placed the requests for schools, hoping against odds we would get the right one. I would then be able to carry on in my management role at the local College, with him in pre and after school clubs. What a life I had mapped out for him!
Well we didn't get our choice of school, I was devastated as was he. What would happen now, I had not much faith in the school system, as my daughter had quiet a hard time at school. She is fiercely independent and out spoken, challenging information to understand and clarify what is being taught. We hit many a problem as she traversed through her time in education establishments. I could foresee the same with Troy. At 4 he was already knowledgeable about places we had been, and programmes he watched on the TV. So I had to seriously think about what course of action I was going to take.
One weekend when Troy and I were camping down behind Longleat, I asked him if he would like to do this for ever. 'What camp?' He asked. 'Well sort of yes, in a motor home rather than a tent though'. I replied. 'Wow, like the Wild Thornberrys'. he exclaimed. That was a TV show for kids about a travelling family, both parents were wildlife reporters and Filmer's living in exotic places. I could go with that, anywhere is going to be exotic to a kid that's not where you live right now. So that was that. I had made my decision, it seemed so simple give everything up and move on completely. Get out there in the world and discover what you have forgotten.
It was June and I would leave work in July, so I had to move on my ideas and make them happen. Everything fell into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. I sold my house to a cash buyer, bought a motor home, downgraded my belongings and set off on the sea of uncertainty.
Now 5 years later we are still here doing the same thing, but not. Yes we are still travelling, but each day brings something different, even if we are in the same place. Not everything is exciting for everyone, so I try to pick the best bits to share. I have not really shared my personal experiences, but hope to get them down in book form at some point, when I have a spare moment and the right place to write. Being in built up areas can sometimes stem the creative juices. Making them stagnant and murky. I am still trying to finish off my first book, which has been in the process since 2006. So you can see I can be a slow mover at times. I have been unsure whether anyone would be interested, and when I have tried to find a publisher for it have been batted off here there and everywhere. I also felt I didn't want everyone to suddenly know me. I am ashamed of this last feeling, as I was feeling very materialistic at the time and my ego had got the better of me. I am now ready to bear it all to anyone who has the inclination to traverse the pages and experience what we did in our first year on the road. However, there is one small snag. I still haven't finished editing it, so not much chance it will be out there before next year now. Again I am ashamed at this as my brother spent time proof reading it for me, and all I have done is put it in a cupboard out of sight. I know these feelings have to be addressed, and I need a good talking to for wasting so much time feeling sorry for my lot.
Well Glencoe did that for me. The mountains, streams and woods rekindled the longing I have to be in the open space, but it also reminded me that there are things I need to do in order to get back there. The book is one of those things, as is working with the tools I have to overcome any thing that crosses my path. I always say 'I am open and deal with things as they arise'. Well I ain't' done that this time, I've whinged and whined like a little kid, thrown my toys out of the pram and then had tantrums. All because I have been in a place I didn't want to be, well I needed to be here to learn that no matter what the problem is we have to face them straight on and tackle them. Otherwise they grow horns and fight back.
So since my return I have been busy getting out and about in between teaching. I have also given a talk on living more in tune with nature, and sold some room sprays which I have developed. I have a more positive outlook on where I am and why I am here and am making the most of it. We will be moving on after my contracts end, so I want to get the best out of everything before we go.
In the meantime, I shall continue to update you on any good adventures we encounter.
Stay young at heart, and wise of mind, live to your full potential and be happy.