the further adventures of Nigel (Monday)
Nigel the Charity Pig had a day exploring neolithic England on Monday. It began with a predawn drive to Stonehenge — a little over two hours from Stratford-upon-Avon, which included a stop for coffee along the way:
Nigel is no good without his coffee in the morning.
There’s a path under the road that leads from the car park and gift shop and toilets and such to the field where the circle is. And it’s covered with vaguely cheesy murals. This, for instance, is not the real Stonehenge:
But then you come up the ramp, and there it is:
If you go to Stonehenge during the regular public hours, you cannot get into the circle — you’re kept maybe a hundred yards away. But you can make a special appointment with English Heritage to get into the circle — for religious purposes, or if you’re an artist, as my friend Bonnie is, and probably for other good reasons too. (Fair warning: We made ours a year in advance, and it costs about twice as much as a regular visit. But it’s worth every penny.) So this is no barrier to Nigel:
Ah, feel the ancient vibrations:
(Or maybe it’s just trucks rumbling by on the A303 nearby…)
With Billy (left) and Carl, the security guards.
They found Nigel (and, I daresay, the crazy Yank broad who asked if they would pose with him) far more entertaining than the chanting pseudo-Buddhist pagans chanting in the circle for the hour we had within it. (Who were, by the way, entirely different chanting pagans than the ones Bonnie and I encountered there last year.) After the first photo in the parking lot, they were asking to play with Nigel. Not that they weren’t doing their job of guarding the circle or anything, I hasten to add, lest their bosses read this. They were most professional indeed. They just liked Nigel.
After we left Stonehenge, it was just a quick drive to Woodhenge, a few miles away. It’s not as dramatic as Stonehenge, since all the wooden monoliths have, of course, long since rotted away. Today, only cement posts mark where they once stood:
A picnic breakfast at Woodhenge:
And then it was off to Avebury, an ancient stone circle that surrounds the village of the same name. (It’s where the ultra creepy Children of the Stones was shot.)
Near Avebury is Silbury Hill:
Which is just a weird big manmade hill from ancient times that makes me think of both The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain and Nigel Tufnel’s intro to “Stonehenge,” about the ancient druids that nobody knows who they were or what they were doing.
Last, but certainly not least, we visited the Rollright Stones, which is the least commercialized of any of the neolithic sites we saw — there’s a dropbox for paying your £1 admission fee, and that’s the extent of it — and where the Doctor Who story “The Stones of Blood” (from the Tom Baker years) was filmed.
The adventures of Nigel the Charity Pig continue…
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