Photo Journal of our 1990 Trip To Wales
Day 1 & 2
Gathering of the Tribes
|London and the Thames - Wonderful Sight!|
"Monday, July 23 1990 We had made all of our preparations, and everything is ready. The day is sunny one minute and rainy the next. Many of our grove have phoned wishing us a safe and good trip. Our bags are loaded and all is on schedule.
"The trip to the Atlanta airport was uneventful with no delays. We checked all the luggage and got to the gate an hour ahead of schedule. Our plane arrived on time. As we set in the waiting area and looked out the gigantic windows, we noticed that no luggage was being loaded on our aircraft. Rather strange. An attendant moved a lady in a wheelchair into the gateway. Must be about ready. Almost as quickly the attendant and lady reappeared.
"It was nearing 4:30 and the flight was to take off at 4:32. The boarding area had filled to capacity. Was something wrong with the plane? Didn't appear so..no one was acting like there were plane problems. Finally the captain picked up the microphone and as he began to speak, I saw our luggage being handed to an invisible person in the belly of the plane. The captain reported that there was a line of severe thunderstorms around Boston and no air traffic was being permitted to fly north. We are on temporary hold for two hours subject to change.
"About half an hour later, another message. The storm was passing and we would be leaving around 5:45. Then another anouncement: We can start boarding! Finally! Now thats better. We are getting on the plane and its already filled to capacity (except for us). Rhuddlwm checked during the earlier wait inside the terminal about our flight to London. It was over three hours late arriving in Newark (our destination). Great...everything is falling into place.
"Then the Captain spoke over the intercom...."it's a go!" We were due to back away from the gate and start toward the runway at 5:45.
"At this moment it is 6:47. We are on the plane...sitting on the taxiway! We are supposed to be the tenth plane to be cleared. Here is the captain again: "Good news and bad news. We are at last away from the gate, but a storm has stopped all southbound traffic. We are eastbound but way back in the line. We will be in line at least an hour waiting for takeoff."
"So here we sit. Planes in the front, Planes to the sides, and a long line of planes behind us. This does NOT feel like a vacation. Occasionally the engines would rev up and we would lumber forward slowly still waiting our turn to leave Atlanta. Sure hope the London flight is as late as we are.
"Well it wasn't. We ended up sitting on the taxiway for three and a half hours without air conditioning and we are all miserable and I'm pregnant! Did I mention that?
"To conserve fuel, the captain flew at a higher altitude and tried to make up some lost time. It was a futile effort.
"Our American airlines flight landed in Newark at 10:40pm. Hurridly we made our way to the Continental Airlines counter, one building away from the Eastern counter. Hardly anyone was at the counter; one representative was sitting on the edge of the conveyor belt, however her crouched position did not save her from me.
"Yes, the London flight was four hours late but it had refueled and left at 8:00pm." We then coordinated between the Eastern and Continental representatives and found there was only one flight per day on Continental and the earliest we could leave was Tuesday at 8:00pm!!!
"Eastern arranged our hotel room and meals overnight along with a great many other passengers who had met the same fate. We made our way to the hotel which turned out to be a very lovely new room at of all places, a Howard Johnson Motel.
"Before I forget, the Captain's last name, on the Eastern flight out of Atlanta, was Sanders. The man obviously dreaded it every time he had to announce another delay, and the passengers were a very surly lot by the time we took off. But, the passengers actually cheered when he announced we had arrived in Newark. And then "Colonel Sanders" made sure he'd delivered us by banging that DC-9 down hard on the runway. He then said, "Just to make sure you remember the flight."
"The next day, Tuesday, we were transported back to the Airport. We found Continental Baggage services and made sure our baggage had not disappeared into the night, then settled down to wait for the appointed hour of our flight to London.
"Eventually the 747 arrived and was being redied for the return to Europe. Eventually the crowd of passengers gathered and boarding began. The flight was booked solid so boarding took longer than usual. As a matter of fact boarding was still in progress at the departure time of 8:00pm.
"The door finally closed and the plane was pushed away from the gate and turned to taxi out. Then, guess what? We stopped. Delayed again! Captain said he had just learned that President Bush was there and all traffic was delayed until he had left the area.
"We thought, ok this is probably a sign we should not have attempted the trip at this time. But, we were captives on a 747 and had no choice.
"Finally, and a hour and a half later we were cleared for take-off. And like "Colonel Sanders" this captain climbed to a higher altitude to gain time.
"We were supposed to land at 8:00am but it was 8:40 when we touched down. But we were in London at last!!"
"We're here...we're really here! After literally months of planning, we've just gotten off the plane at Gatwick Airport in London and are waiting to go through immigration and customs. I slept for maybe a half hour on the trip because a group of students were making noise the entire flight.
"As we stood in line, I overheard a very vocal couple from New York complaining about the wait. It's no wonder we Americans are seen as obnoxious around the world. We had arranged in advance for a rental car so that was the first order of business. It took us about two hours to find. As we the agency rep loaded our luggage on the shuttle van, he finally asked our names. "Oh yes, you are #23 today. Then off we went to the rental agency.
"We exchanged dollars for pounds at Barkleys, picked up the car and we were off, driving on the wrong side of the road, maps in hand, steering wheel on the right instead of the left, having to shift with my left hand. That was an exciting couple of hours! England was in the midst of a heat wave and it didn't rain except for a few minutes on the fourth day while touring Wales. We were used to 90 degrees of high humidity in Atlanta, so this didn't seem like much of a heat wave."
The First stop, was Salisbury and the Cathedral which is home not only to the oldest working clock in Europe, but one of the original copies of the Magna Carta. We drove on some pretty narrow roads to get to Salisbury, but it was worth the effort. We wondered why there weren't more tourists here. It is, by the way, another absolutely glorious day. It seems to be sunny in the mornings and get cloudy in the afternoons, but right now it brisk and sunny and the perfect weather to see this glorious site.
Before touring the Cathedral, we walked through the town. There are all sorts of picturesque river scenes and architectural features in Salisbury and we really enjoyed it. There is a little tower sitting on top of a little small building and apparently, the wall formed part of the county goal (jail), erected in 1569. It was taken down in 1823.
|The cathedral was built in a 38-year period
between 1220 and 1258. The spire was added in 1320. The spire is 400 above the ground and
about 1 1/2 feet off vertical. For all the sophistication of the engineers who created the
church and its spire, the height and immense weight of the spire have posed structural
problems. In the late 17th century, Christopher Wren was summoned to strengthen the spire.
In the mid-19th century, Gilbert Scott, the leading Victorian Gothicist, undertook a major
restoration program. It's supposedly not as spectacular on the inside as some of the other
abbeys and cathedrals we will see on this trip, but I think it is one of the most
beautiful cathederals in Europe. When we entered the cathedral, we heard
singing and organ music. It was breath-taking in its beauty. They were conducting a
morning service and for someplace someone described as drab, I have found this to be an
incredible and awe-inspiring place, particularly with the music playing. It's very large
and very gothic. While it doesn't have a lot of colors, the architecture itself is
We explored other parts of the church and discovered The Clock which is possibly the earliest remaining mechanical clock in the world in complete and working condition.
It was built in 1386 and if I hadn't been told it was a clock, I would never have known it was, because it has no face. It was used for almost 500 years until 1884 when a newer clock tower was installed. In 1956 it was repaired and restored to its original condition and set up in the church itself.
We climbed back in the rent-a-car and headed off to Stonehenge.
We arrived right after lunch and immeditely parked the car, showed the officer at the admissions our pass and walked through the tunnel to get to the site itself. At first it didn't seem to be that impressive, because we were not allowed to get close to the structure, later as I studied it, I could see why they called it the worlds most cmplicated prehistoric site. And there are those curious "midges" or tiny flies that swirled in a column of thousands above certain power points of the site. When Rhuddlwm started walking around the path, they swirled above his head. When he walked, they kept above him like a hat. Finally, after a half an hour of suffering the indignity of flies swirling around his head, he made a dash for the tunnel and they finally disappeared. We learned later that the swirling midges above his head were a sign of great psychic power. Rhuddlwm said he didn't care about the psychic power, he just wanted the midges to go away!
We were told before we entered the site, that the Stonehenge monument itself has decayed to such an extent that tourists can no longer walk directly up to the stones and touch them. The plan is to restore the area to its "isolated dignity." Yes, for part of the time, you are not all that close to the monument itself, but at the start, you can get fairly close. No matter how far away or how many people there are nearby, the power of this place cannot be denied.
We were also told the reason some of the stones are missing is that christian religious fanatics raided "pagan" monuments such as Stonehenge, destroying what they could. Other pieces were simply removed for building purposes. They didn't know or didn't care that this was of fabulous, historical importance.
Stonehenge is over 5,000 years old and the most important prehistoric site in the British isles. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Druids, who worshipped in Britain 2,500 years later. It is amazing how they got the stones to this site, how they would carve them to be the same height (and that it took years to do so), how the lintel pieces were created and fit like tongue and groove furniture, and how the pieces were erected. It was an incredibly arduous process.
Stonehenge is not only the most famous stone circle in Britain, but also the
best known ancient monument in the world. Unfortunately, its fame has come at a high cost.
Stonehenge has suffered such indignities as graffiti, chain-link perimeter fencing, and an
annual Druidic festival staged by a group that can prove no historical connection to the
monument. As a result, many visitors find the site less evocative than sites such as
Avebury or the Ring of Brodgar. John Aubrey, the I7th century antiquary, once wrote
that Avebury 'as much excels Stonehenge as a Cathedral does a parish church.'
|Stonehenge lies 2 miles west of Amesbury at the junction of the
A303 and A344/A360 roads. The hours vary seasonably; call ahead for details. There is an
admission. National trust members are admitted free.
|Two of the trihilions||
Druid Ceremony at Stonehenge
Afternoon at Stonehenge
Sunset behind Stonehenge
A series of Leylines connects many of the sacred sites in England
and wales. Ley lines, or Leys, are alignments of ancient sites stretching across the
landscape. Ancient sites or holy places may be situated in a straight line ranging
from one or two to several miles in length. A ley may be identified simply by an
aligned placing of marker sites, or it might be visible on the ground for all or part of
its length by the remnants of an old straight track.
Ley Lines were 're-discovered' on 30 June 1921 by Alfred Watkins (1855-1935), a locally well-known and respected Herefordshire businessman, who while looking at a map for features of interest noticed a straight line that passed over hill tops through various points of interest, all of which were ancient. At the time of his discovery, Watkins had no theory about alignments but on that June afternoon saw "in a flash" a whole pattern of lines stretching across the landscape. Four years later, in 1925, he described his vision in a book he titled The Old Straight Track:
"Imagine a fairy chain stretched from mountain peak to mountain peak, as far as the eye could reach, and paid out until it reached the 'high places' of the earth at a number of ridges, banks, and knowls. Then visualise a mound, circular earthwork, or clump of trees, planted on these high points, and in low points in the valley other mounds ringed around with water to be seen from a distance. Then great standing stones brought to mark the way at intervals, and on a bank leading up to a mountain ridge or down to a ford the track cut deep so as to form a guiding notch on the skyline as you come up.... Here and there, at two ends of the way, a beacon fire used to lay out the track. With ponds dug on the line, or streams banked up into 'flashes' to form reflecting points on the beacon track so that it might be checked when at least once a year the beacon was fired on the traditional day. All these works exactly on the sighting line."
Watkins surmised that these straight tracks, or ley lines as he called them at first, were the remnants of prehistoric trading routes. He went on to associate ley lines with the Greek god Hermes (the Roman Mercury, the Norse Woden) who was the god of communication and of boundaries, the winged messenger, and the guide to travellers on unknown paths. Watkins identified Hermes-Mercury with the chief god of the Druids and argued that:
"A Celtic god, Tout, or in its Romanised form Toutates, is supposed to be what Caesar referred to, and this name has been found on a Romano-British altar. It is a fact that sighting mounds called Tot, Toot, Tout, Tute and Twt abound all over the Kingdom, and the root is probably Celtic... The fact that such mounds are mark-points on trackways strengthen the link..."
There is an old Pagan chant "Taut, Taut and about..." which shows a connection with the above Celtic god.
The identification of leys as ancient traders' routes was as far
as Watkins was prepared to go, despite the fact that numerous ley lines travelled up
prohibitively steep hillsides. Speculation as to their meaning and purpose continued after
Watkins' death in 1935.
According to Paul Devereux, it was the occultist Dion Fortune in her 1936 novel The Goat-Foot God (republished in 1971 by S. Weiser, New York, and in 1989 by Aquarian Press, Northamptonshire) who explained that ley lines were "lines of power" linking prehistoric sites. A few years later, it was suggested that ley lines followed lines cosmic energy in the Earth and could be detected using dowsing rods. In the 1960s, ley lines, or "leys" as they were now called, became linked with UFO sightings.
In 1969, ley lines were taken up by John Michell in his important book The View Over Atlantis. He discussed them within the context of geomancy.
When we got to Glastonbury, we drove down to High street and went shopping at The Gothic Image and also went next door to look at the wonderful statuary created by a Local Craftswoman.
We stayed the night at Ashcombe Farm, which had Superior Accomodations! But, unfortunately it was located fairly close to a silo which had substances in it that were fermenting. AAAGGGHHH did it smell!!!!
Tomorrow Glastonbury Tor and the Chalice Well!
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