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Salisbury / Stonehenge

Tue 18-Nov 03	London - visited Salisbury, Stonehenge, Avebury  	- Overcast 

Today I went on the 'Stones and Bones' tour run by Astral Travels, to see Salisbury, Old Sarum, Stonehenge and Avebury.  The first stop of the day was at Old Sarum, just outside of Salisbury ("One of Britain's oldest settlements, first occupied over 5000 years ago"!).  This was a huge Mott and Bailey with a moat, numerous castle ruins etc.  Very interesting and great views of the countryside also. 

Old Sarum, near Salisbury, England

The tour then headed down into Salisbury town - a lovely quaint little English town with several rivers running through it.  Had a nosey around Salisbury Cathedral and saw an original copy of the Magna Carta (actually consists of just a single sheet of parchment).  Had a nice wander around the town before heading on to Amesbury (another quaint little village) for a tasty pub lunch before visiting the highlight of the day - Stonehenge.

Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury

Salisbury town

"The Mill", Salisbury

Stonehenge was absolutely amazing, even though surrounded by two busy roads and cordoned off with ropes (which didn't stop one toddler from making a run for it and almost getting in amongst the inner stones!).  Lots of barrows (cairns/burial mounds/whatever you want to call them) doting the landscape.  A very cool place - I'll let the pictures tell the thousand words.

Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain


The final stop for the day was at Avebury - passing picturesque canals, a white chalk horse on the surrounding hillside, the natural quarry where the large Stonehenge stones came from (the Marlborough Downs), and Silbury Hill (a very large barrow/cairn).  Avebury is a quaint little village that is built in the centre of an enormous stone circle of about 400m diameter, with other smaller circles inside.  Even saw (the remains of) a crop circle on the way out of town, heading back to London.

A Chalk Horse, Marlborough

Avebury - Stone Circles and Village

"The Red Lion", Avebury
(Most common pub name in England)

Back in London I went to see the Shell Electric Storm project which had just opened tonight on London's South Bank.  Described as a "spectacular light and sound display based in the trees along the river bank" and supposedly reminiscent of the Northern Lights, it was in fact rather cheesy and disappointing!  Finally we went on a "flight" of the The London Eye - great views of London at night, especially with the Houses of Parliament lit up.

Parliament House / Westminster Palace & Clock Tower (Big Ben),
as seen from the London Eye

Wed 19-Nov 03	London - visited Oxford  	- Overcast 

This morning I caught a train to Oxford for a day of sightseeing there.  First I caught a Guide Friday tour bus from the train station to get my orientation of the town.  Oxford certainly fits the English University town image formed from watching Movies/TV.  A lot of nice old architecture and a nice atmosphere to the place.  After a full loop of the bus tour I went for a somewhat random walk around the town and colleges, seeing (among others):  The Bridge of Sighs, Radcliffe Square, Magdalen College and Bridge, Botanic Gardens, Christchurch College (where parts of the Harry Potter movies were filmed), Executer College, New College, and climbed the University Church Tower for amazing views of the City and the famous "Dreaming Spires".  A cool old town! 


The Bridge of Sighs, Oxford

Magdalen Bridge

Christ Church College, Oxford
(as seen in Harry Potter!)

Great Quadrangle of All Souls College
(as seen from the University Church tower)

Radcliffe Camera, Radcliffe Square, Oxford

After returning to London (and having dinner) I then headed to Piccadilly Circus to the Criterion Theatre to see the Reduced Shakespeare Company perform "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)".  VERY funny - All of Shakespeare's plays performed in around 2 hours.  The second half of the show was dedicated to Hamlet, four times!  The first run through involved audience participation and took about 25-30 mins; the 2nd time they performed Hamlet again inside 2 minutes; then 20 seconds, and finally, backwards!  Very funny and highly recommended!

Thu 20-Nov 03	London - visited Bath  	- Overcast 

I headed out of town by train again today - This time to Bath.  Also again, I caught a Guide Friday tour bus to get my bearings.  A really quaint looking town with amazing history back to the Romans and beyond.  After one complete circuit I started wandering around to photograph some of the sights I'd spotted:  Pultenay Bridge, the Avon River and weir, the Parade Gardens, the Bath Postal Museum (where the first ever Penny Black was sent from, four days before it's official release on 6th May 1840), Royal Crescent, The Circus, Royal Victoria Park and the Botanical Gardens (complete with LOTS of squirrels).  A very pretty and clean town.

Parade Gardens, Bath

Pulteney Bridge and Weir, Bath

Royal Victoria Park

Squirrel in Royal Victoria Park

The people of this town must have a serious sweet-tooth - I have never seen so many Chocolate, Fudge and general Sweet shops within such a small area as I did in the Bath shopping centre - they were everywhere!  Just had to buy some handmade Belgian Chocolate Fudge to support the local community! 

Near the end of the day I visited the actual Roman Baths.  Wow - very interesting, impressive old architecture and a very Roman feeling.  Highly recommended.

The Roman Bath House, Bath

The Roman Baths

The Roman Baths

It was now dark when I went back outside (about 4:30pm).  Found Sally Lunn's - the oldest house in Bath (1680) where the original Sally Lunn bun was made.  Very different (and boring in comparison) to the version we get in New Zealand (which has raisons and a coconut icing).  This 'original' was un-iced and just a plain big bun - although tasted alright anyway.

After a great day exploring (buying lollies etc) it was time again to head back to London on the train.

Sally Lunn's, Bath

Paddington Bear at Paddington Station, London


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