September 8th, 2008

Wanaka tree

Stones and trees

A long time ago I promised Monika that the next time she came to the UK I would take her to Stonehenge. On the Friday of her stay I kept my long-standing promise - like all good friends should! As it turned out, it was one of the better weather days that we had had. We got there fairly early, but not early enough to miss the crowds. The car park and the overflow car park were almost full. I was appalled to see that they now charge for parking there, as well as an exhorbitant amount to get in. Happily, with National Trust membership, we didn't have to pay for either.

Much as I love what Stonehenge represents, symbolises and looks like, I think that having put a fence around it and a cash till at the entrance English Heritage are now ripping off everyone who visits. Yet still they come in their thousands every day. Stonehenge is iconic, recognised the world over and marvelled at by almost everyone, and I love the fact that this is what my people were doing when the Egyptians were still building small stepped pyramids, but I still think that the people who visit are being sold short by what they have to pay to get in. I don't think I want to go back there, unless I have a friend staying who specifically wants to.

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As is always the case when my friends visit, I gave Monika a couple of options of where we would go for the rest of the day. There are quite a lot of places to go to in the area around Stonehenge. Monika decided against Avebury, having been there before, and settled on Stourhead instead. When we arrived we parked up and had our picnic and then went in to the house and gardens. Architecturally, I really like stately homes and big country houses but I'm not at all interested in what is inside them, so while Monika was inside the house I had a wander around outside. Then we met up and did the long trail through the delightful gardens.

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