In this post we are going on a whirlwind tour; Welcome to Wiltshire, Druid Central. I've been to Stonehenge, Avebury Stone Circle and Silbury Hill many times, I wanted to take the RG1200 GSA (or "leaky" as it's now known, a visit to the dealer tomorrow to put a stop to me getting covered in engine coolant as I ride along!) for a short trip, these places are less than 20 miles from home. So, some "stones in a field" and a "mound' to see.
First Stop; Stonehenge - Perhaps I'm becoming more cynical with age and we'll hear more about that in a while. Yes, I know they've been here for 4,500 years, so have the Pyramids and they offer a little more in the way of sophistication in my opinion, but hey, it's a World Heritage Site, what do I know. Years ago you could park the car virtually next to the Henge, walk up, touch it, carve your name on a stone and dance around naked to your hearts delight. Now there is a big shiny new Visitor Centre, buses ferry tourists (and there's lots of them) a mile to the stones. Here's a photo, which I liked because we get to see tourists, inside a bus and the new centre! Also evidence of why I like my 35mm lens so much -
I'm a little underwhelmed by it photographically, there are lots of photographers around so you would imagine it to be an absolute must to capture and yet after a couple of minutes I found the crows and people much more interesting. I started this trip with my favourite lens attached, the 35mm Summicron, but swapped to the 50mm Noctilux in an attempt to give it some more oomph. Here's some photo's, you'll probably be able to see the change, mostly by the surreal look when wide open and the telltale vignette -
In all fairness English Heritage do a terrific job, the whole process of a visit to Stonehenge runs smoothly, the staff are both extremely friendly and knowledgeable. Despite what I say above, if you haven't been then you really should go. Back to cynicism, on the return to the visitor centre I sat next to an American photographer. She told me how I must visit the Grand Canyon. I replied that I'd seen it from the air at least 40 times on my way to and from Las Vegas. It's only a five hour drive from Vegas she said. I relayed that conversation to my friend and Vegas travel companion - "what a waste of gambling time, the Grand Canyon is just a hole in the ground at the end of the day"! This is the same guy who when I asked him if he read my blog, he replied "No, I don't. I hear enough of your crap in real life without adding to the burden of knowing you" - and that's from my best friend?!
Time to move swiftly on to Silbury Hill and Avebury, around 12 miles from Stonehenge and on my way home. As usual the BBC weather forecast got it totally wrong, I'd studied it two hours previously and was informed that it was going to be sunny and dry, they somehow neglected to mention torrential rain showers coupled with hail storms! Silbury Hill is a mound, they have no real idea what it was used for, as with the Avebury Stones they were both built over four millennia ago. Some photos of Silbury Hill (it's not very photogenic!) and nearby Avebury coming next . A few people turned up briefly at Silbury, looked, shrugged and returned to their cars. You'll notice the ubiquitous old van with windows and curtains firmly drawn, a familiar sight at all three locations, druids no doubt, I wondered if they used magic to actually start them up (note that foreboding grey sky through the trees!) -
If you're interested in the history of any of these places, then wikipedia will tell you all you'll need to know. They are fascinating in reality, there is an air of mysticism surrounding them and therefore I can see why so many get wrapped up in all that magic.
I've just noticed that there are no black and white photos here, I must have walked over a Ley Line or something...weird! Tomorrow I take the bike to Bristol for repair which they say will take all day, they're lending me a motorbike so I'll whip into Bristol City Centre and do some Street (expect some black and white shots). The weather is predicted to be 5c with heavy rain, with that in mind I'll take my shorts, sandals and sunglasses!
Many thanks for taking the time to read this blog, even if my best friend doesn't! As always please leave a comment if you wish.
All photos were taken using a Leica M with Summicron 35mm and Noctilux 50mm.