Sunday, April 12, 2009


Since I last wrote we've left Slough, stayed a night in Reading, and moved on to Salisbury. Slough was an all right sort of town - certainly nothing exciting. Had a bit of a run-down feel, but we did only see a very small section of the place. However, in Reading we had to walk nearly a mile through residential areas to get to our hotel, so we got a bit better sense of the place.

I liked Reading! It had a nice and active downtown that felt clean and cozy with just a bit of trendiness. I don't think there's much to do in there, but we did manage to find a lovely park called Forbury Gardens. It was one of the most beautiful parks I've ever seen! Lovely clusters of flowers along the paths (I love how they put flowers on everything over here), nicely kept, green, scenic with a pretty little church in the background. There was a tree absolutely covered in large white blossoms. The ground under it was just covered in petals as though it had been snowing. There was a really beautiful rose garden that wasn't even in bloom. It was lovely even without the flowers though! And various war memorials were standing throughout the park.

There's also an old ruined abbey (strangely enough called Reading Abbey) by the park. It's about 1000 years old and mostly fallen apart by now. Unfortunately we only got to see the outer parts of it because they were doing construction ont he rest. Construction. On a fallen apart, 1000 year old building. I just found it a bit amusing. Note: Keep reading below the pictures for our Stonehenge trip!!! Or just scroll all the way down for the pics.

Today (April 11) we went to Stonehenge! Woooo, so exciting! We didn't want to be swindled out of 17.50 GBP per person (about 25$) by going on the tour bus, so we decided to take a city bus to Amesbury and walk the rest of the way. We read online it would be about 20-30 minutes. So after a bit of being-in-the-wrong-place we caught our bus and found ourselves in good ole Amesbury.

Oh, I have to mention that our bus was a double-decker. They always looked kinda cool, but nothing exciting. Man, it's awesome up there on the top deck, right in the front seat! It's like... an IMAX movie or something. I just wanted to ride the bus all day. Anyways, back to Stonehenge.

So we guessed which way Stonehenge must be and started walking. Luckily we did run into signs pointing the way, but our expected 30 minute walk turned into 50 minutes, a lot of which was uphill. You can see the stones across the highway as you come over the crest of a small hill. The juxtaposition of all the cars lining the road past Stonehenge was interesting.

The whole thing is surrounded by a fence and you have to pay 6.60 GBP per person (about 10$) to get through the fence to take a closer look. To be perfectly honest, Chuck and I did not pay the 6.60. We'd actually had this discussion before about how we feel these old sites shouldn't charge for entry. It just seems as though a 2500 year old site should be available without lining someone's pocket. Yes, I know that the price goes towards conserving it as well, but at 6.60 a person it's definitely lining someones pocket as well. Besides, according to a Druid (as he claimed to be) who has set up a display right at the entrance gate, the National Heritage Foundation had promised to keep it free of charge when they took over, but have since gone back on that promise. So that made me a feel a bit more justified in my decision not to actually pay and cross that fence. We did contribute by buying an ice cream cone though...

We managed to get plenty of pictures through the fence with our awesome camera. We also got some pictures with the sheep in the field across from Stonehenge. That field is just covered in sheep poop! It was like walking through a mine field! I just had to take a picture of one of them... So gross.

I got lots of lovely pictures of flowers on the long walk back. We are sore today! Hopefully we'll be recovered enough to see Salisbury tomorrow.