Standing Stones


It is more than fifty years since Jackie and Helen enjoyed their ‘Stonehenge Sandwiches’. Since that time English Heritage and The National Trust have, between them restricted access and priced out all but those individuals who can afford £25 for a timed entry ticket and have on-line facilities for booking this on the day before. When Flo and Dillon wished to see some Neolithic standing stones, we suggested viewing

Stonehenge as we drove past,

and driving on to Avebury, which is far more user friendly. Unfortunately the road that Jackie had carefully memorised before setting off was closed. With the aid of Dillon’s mobile phone we were able to find an alternative route by narrow roads through the Vale of Pewsey, where

we trundled along behind a hay cart. Jackie sensed that the driver of a Land Rover chasing her was becoming rather frustrated. At the first opportunity he sped past. He remained between us and the hay for quite some time until he reached his own destination. It was a considerable while before the cart turned off, freeing us and the convoy in our wake.

Once clear of Salisbury we had stopped at a Harvester pub opposite Old Sarum Castle for lunch. My choice of meal was gammon steak with all the trimmings, and my drink was Marston’s pale ale. Should they wish, the others can speak for themselves.

Silbury Hill

On reaching Avebury we passed ‘the largest artificial mound in Europe, mysterious Silbury Hill [which] compares in height and volume to the roughly contemporary Egyptian pyramids. Probably completed in around 2400 BC, it apparently contains no burial. Though clearly important in itself, its purpose and significance remain unknown.’ (English Heritage website)



When we reached the henge itself we went our separate ways. I dawdled with my camera, seeing faces, figures, and even a horses head in this 10,000 year old monuments. There was quite a lot of evidence of mole activity.

The Red Lion

We met up at The Red Lion, a 400 year old pub standing in the middle of the largest circle.

Flo and Dillon

Flo and Dillon posed against the backdrop of the stones,

Tree of JackdawsJackdaw tree and Stone

alongside a tree full of jackdaws.

Back at home, Jackie made pancakes for the others and brought me a plate of finger food to be enjoyed whilst working on this post. When the internet started misbehaving I poured myself more of the Navarra, and just managed to publish before the witching hour.




Stonehenge Sandwiches

After an early brunch consisting of ‘roast dinner soup’ by the chef, she drove us to Salisbury.  I should consider myself fortunate really.  Most people who inhabit country houses need to employ a couple to provide these two services.  I have a staff of one and I don’t need to pay a salary.

As usual Jackie did her thing (touring charity shops for example) and I did mine.  I walked around the Harnham water meadows, eventually crossing the river Avon, turning left and left again down Harnham Road to the cathedral; round the cathedral and, after wandering in the town, back to the carpark.

On entering the water meadows area, where some ambitious landscaping was under way, I exchanged greetings with one man  and his dog.  Much later, on a road on the far side of the river, we again approached each other from opposite directions.  This time we stopped and spoke, and he confirmed I was headed for the cathedral.  ‘I thought you was one of the round-the-blockers’, he said.  I understood this referred to walkers of shorter distances.

Passing from the elegant grandeur of the cathedral precincts and their surrounds, through to the poorer end of the city, I was struck by the contrasts that are experienced in all such places.  (see 10th May 2012)

Feeding the ducks 2.13The river and streams were full and fast flowing.  Waterfowl abounded, especially when flocking to a gentleman feeding them.  One disappointed duck came flapping, late for the feast, as the elderly man folded up his empty carrier bag.

Salisbury cathedral 2.13I was experiencing views of Salisbury cathedral made famous by the paintings of John Constable.  On this slate grey sunless day, no way was I going to rival the artist’s masterpieces with my camera.  I did my best.

Harnham Road, leading to the cathedral, is a small, interesting, street of terraced houses; thatched on the right, and tiled on the left, as I walked down it.  The river runs along the back of those on the left.Harnham Road 2.13

The Salisbury visit was a break in our journey to Chris and Frances’ home in Wroughton, Wiltshire, for a private viewing of a photographic exhibition featuring some of my brother’s pictures.  So on we went, across Salisbury plain, which is covered in tumuli.  On the A303 we passed a stone’s throw from Stonehenge, now fenced off, where it was once possible for Jackie and Helen, as young girls, to clamber up onto one of the fallen sections of the monument and watch the sunset as they ate their sandwiches.  Less dramatic, but far more prolific, are the stones at Avebury which we passed as we neared Wroughton.

Frances had been caring for their grandson James.  His Dad, Paul, having come to collect him, stayed on to see us for a while.  James is a dear little chap who is beginning to look very like his grandpa at that age.  Clearly teething, he made no fuss. He weighs up visitors very carefully before committing himself.

Frances then gave us an excellent meal of beef stew and mixed fruit crumble.  The crumble was unusual.  Frances had made it during the brief window of opportunity created by James’s afternoon sleep.  She wasn’t sure exactly what farinaceous mix she had used to create it.  Or even whether it was farinaceous.  No matter – it was very toothsome.

The three of us joined Chris at the exhibition and admired all the photographs.  Chris has specialised in 3D prints which are most effective. There were several pairs of special glasses for viewing these.  The photographer was very patient in protecting them from the sticky fingers of a small boy who had been diving into the complimentary bowls of sweets and crisps.  A display of street scenes was fascinating, and a particularly interesting shot of Oliver taken at Louisa and Errol’s wedding completed his section.

We returned home directly from Swindon College.