I’ve always believed that British summer is a myth concocted by the Roman gods, but the summer of 2018 proved me wrong, wrong, wrong. It is ridiculously hot, hot, hot. And I didn’t bring the right clothes. I prepared for 20 degree weather; but it’s 30 degrees each day and I really wish I had packed my pretty summer floral dresses.
Ah well… you live, you learn. Sometimes even myths do come true.
I also have a soft spot for the Welsh dragon that’s just about everywhere. Forget having a cat or dog as a pet. I’d rather have a dragon. What say you?
And from Cardiff, it was a two hour drive to Avebury. Although it’s one of the best prehistoric sites in Britain – I personally hadn’t heard of it till I started doing research for my Stonehenge trip.
Speaking of which, what is a henge anyway? A quick Google search later, I discover that a henge is a ‘prehistoric monument consisting of a circle of stone or wooden uprights’.
Well, then… at least we got our definition sorted.
It was nice being on the road again. I’m still not back to my usual chatty mood post-funeral so Rachel and I turned on and hummed to Alanis Morisette as we drove through the British countryside. And I must say – Wales is astoundingly beautiful – with its pristine shorelines, abundant untouched greenery and undisturbed nature that stretches out for miles and miles and miles.
I know I had made the transition from Wales to England when the signs went from being bilingual to being monolingual.
And then we arrived in Avebury. There’s no entrance fee to the site, but parking will cost you seven pounds for the day.
“These stones are kind of haphazard compared to Stonehenge,” I overhear a tourist say.
Rachel and I both raise an eyebrow at each other. Some people, I tell you… If only our prehistoric ancestors knew that these ancient sites weren’t Instagram-worthy enough…
Avebury was a kind of chilled out place to start the road trip. The chronology and purpose of the henge is still unclear – but some historians believe that it marks the transition from a hunter-gatherer society to a settled one.
Whatever the purpose of these seemingly ‘haphazard’ rocks, I certainly recommend a stopover there en route to Stonehenge.
Just don’t eat at the Red Lion. The service is slow and the food is pretty damn average.
After lunch it was back in the car for an hour long journey to…
We pre-booked our tickets and timeslot online so the whole process of getting to the henge itself was relatively painless. You show up, show your tickets and you get a black wrist band to wear – kinda like attending a gig; which I thought was kind of strange till I realised that feasts (mostly consisting of pork) used to take place at Stonehenge.
From the entrance, you can walk to the henge – which takes around 20-25 minutes; or you can take the bus which shows up once every ten minutes. Rachel and I decided to walk there and take the bus back. It was a wise choice.
I’ve wanted to go Stonehenge ever since I saw it in a photograph as a child. What are these stones? Why are they arranged in this whimsical yet coherent fashion? These are questions that both historians (and I) are still asking.
What we do know is that these stones are aligned in such a precise manner that they mark both the summer and winter solstice.
I always feel very moved when I visit these sorts of places for it predates civilisation (as we know it now), and how man began to connect with nature and find his place within the cosmos. There’s something pure and simple about it that takes me back to my roots.
After soaking in the mystery that is the henge, we made our way to our B&B in Bath.
It was another hour to Bath and by that time Rachel was tired of driving. We stayed at King William IV and loved it. The bed was really nice and comfortable, the bathroom was great, and the food was epic.
No complaints from me – especially after a long day on the road.
The next day, we headed into the city to see the Roman Baths. It isn’t my first time in Bath – I’d visited before a couple of years ago; but I barely remembered anything so it was nice to revisit.
A Roman city from a long time ago, it was a place that people went to for a… spa? Yep, that’s it.
Entrance to the Roman Baths (where you can’t actually take a bath) is 17.50 pounds (ouch!). The water in the spa has turned green due to exposure to sunlight, but it was cool to walk around and take in the history of the place. The audio guide is included in the ticket price so I had my own mini lesson as I walked around the place.
Bath is also famous for its abbey – although I’ve visited enough places in the UK to have seen enough beautiful abbeys – just saying.
And then we soaked around the city sights. I saw some very tempting fudge.
Mmm…. mmm… mmm…
And then it was back in the car and back to Cardiff. And with that, my Great British Road Trip of 2018 ended.
Till next time, don’t drink and drive and keep your eyes on the road.