Day 4: Stonehenge

Since I’m on a three-hour train with nothing better to do, might as well start this thing… Gotta remember to book some more train tickets when I get home tonight though!

Note: since I’m on the train there is no guarantee how long the photos will take to upload… So if you see only three pics and nothing else, blame the phone services in West Countries!

So the day basically started with me getting up at 5 trying to catch a train at 6:45… Yup it took me almost 45 minutes to find the right station with lots of jaywalking – if it wasn’t that early, I might have been hit about seven times over, but luckily it was still dark and quiet out there when I risked my life this morning, so no damage done 😉

The trains were easy enough to find, and I was hopeful to actually see sunrise… Well I almost got my wish fulfilled as at 8am it looked like this outside:

Got to London grudgingly, missed a train amongst all my bewilderment at not knowing which platform I should go to, got on another one 3 minutes later, got off again six minutes later, and hopped on the big train to Salisbury with such relief… Bit of an advice for novice train-hoppers… Ask the staff immediately where you should go when you hop off your train for a connection… And trains going to the same destination may be in very different platforms!

I forgot where I snapped this but definitely before I passed out on my way to Salisbury… And I passed out so profoundly that the conductor, while checking for tickets, was a bit concerned… Ah well, it’s not like your sleep is going nowhere when you get up at five in the morning, eh? Fortunately I got off at the right station, thanks to Salisbury being the terminal lol

At first I thought this was a station office or something and read, with all the seriousness in the world, the notice on the board picturing it to be saying “private office”. Good work, fire station (or my brain, really)!

I’ve been to like five train stations over the past four days and the Salisbury one looks the most like a traditional British movie train station! I admit I got a bit excited so the picture didn’t turn out as good.

Downtown Salisbury (or “the town/city centre”). Still not sure whether to call this place a city or a town, as I’ve been told that “in medieval times, if it’s got a castle, it’s a city”. Well I’m not exactly sure whether Salisbury has a castle but it definitely has a church, which was used as a landmark for bombardment in WWII any thus was never destroyed. Oh sweet irony!

I still can’t stop wondering why those brick walls are fencing everyone’s front yard… Ah I guess I know it’s for fencing, but really… It’s a bit strange to see brick walls instead of trees or no fences at all, it makes me expect dog barks like I used to hear back in China… It feels a bit eerie without those barks, if you ask me…

Took this picture solely because of the lamp… And thought it’d go well with the “established” sign. Thought the steamy window ruined it – it ruined a lot of things for today, just a bit of warning.

Did I just see the Great Wall?

Just kidding… I think it’s some sort of remains of some old city wall or something and it’s cute. Like I’ve already said numerous times, it screams history at me. Now I wish I’d walked around Salisbury a bit more… Sigh

Market Wall and the kids… For some reason all shopping places seem to be enclosed in a very refined, almost castle-like space in England… But I’ve yet to see more places so let’s not make that conclusion so soon.

Sun started to come out as we approached the stones, good omen indeed!

Rural English farmlands and moors… Honestly my first time seeing flat-yet-uneven farmlands stretching this far away ever! Well Sannich did have farms and Stellys was literally standing in the middle of farmlands but those farms are almost completely flat, and they only go a few miles… These ones? They seem to stretch into eternity!

Still a little bit of fog, but the sun’s out!

Looking at the parking lot from the bus stop, it looks like a river!

I would think this is a medieval settlement reconstructed for the kids to play in… They’re very convincing and tempting!

It was just outside of the visitor’s centre which is about 2k from the henge… Would’ve been a very nice walk if I hadn’t had my cumbersome backpack with me, but considering time and energy and everything else, I chose the easy way and decided to leave the actual walk for next time… If there is a next time, that is.

After about five minutes of bussing and a non-deliberately ignored “don’t fall over your bag”, here it is! The henge stood just a few hundreds of meters away and it was such a sacred yet calming sight, even from all this distance away!

I must say I was temporarily speechless while staring at this miracle. All that was running through my head was “I can’t believe I’m here, staring at this, smelling damp grass and fog, and being so calm”. The weather, as you may see, is perfect: a little bit foggy with incredible winter sun, making it a clear day while retaining the sense of myth… It felt like I have truly arrived at the heart of a magical land of Merlin and King Arthur… 

A little bit of bonus joy from my walk around the stones: sheep! Well I know virtually nothing about them except that they’re sheep and not goats (as taught by my grandma a good dozen of years ago), but hey, these daft beasts are fluffy, and grazing, so why not?

Thanks to all the last-minute homework I did on British legends, it was probably the best hours for me in what felt like months… Even a year, maybe? Nothing, not even cooking up a perfect meal for Christmas or getting reconnected with an old friend or finding a community that I belong or finishing a semester felt as good… Probably because of the movies I watched, I felt completely set free… I was free to roam, free to smile, free to feel and express my feelings, free to breath and love, and free to live… That quiet excitement was gradually filling me up, and I don’t even remember feeling content like this before. I was connected to all times in human history, and all humans existing in this world, and it was simply perfect. I don’t know what will happen in the next months, but even just for this, I believe I’ve made the right decision back in May.

Sadly, my little detour was cut short in fear of not catching my train… Found more frost on my way back which made me feel like it never melts as it was already 2pm!

They call it a valley… A valley?!?! Fine…

Well, I was pretty innocent earlier today by thinking “the sun’s out just in time”, as obviously, it was only at the henge that there was brilliant sunshine! Fog bestowed again on the way back to Salisbury and again it felt like I was living in fairyland! Well at least flying amongst the clouds XD

This, my folks, is River Avon. It looks like a stream, and I’ve yet to confirm it’s the same Avon as Stratford-upon-Avon Avon, but I’m assuming it is. What do they say again? 小桥流水人家. Did I mention that sometimes English towns look like Chinese on-the-water towns?

Not sure if I should call this a bungalow or a cottage, but I honestly hope the owner owns one of the adjacent properties too… As much as it says about the settlement development, it would suck to live in this shack… Especially without heating!

More telephone booths for you, no thanks needed!

More downtown Salisbury… Very similar to Canterbury, to be honest.

Ran into a bit of problem earlier as my train from Salisbury to Westbury was delayed by 15 minutes, and my connection time at Westbury was just about the same time… Naturally, being who I am, I was singing On écrit sur les murs while picturing all the catastrophic scenarios should I miss my next 3-hour train to St Austell, which appeared to be the last one of the day. Oh and a bit of funny taxi scenes too, as my host told me they might do that as well. And naturally all this drama was saved by both my trains arriving in the station – on two adjacent platforms – at 4:23 precise with 30 seconds of difference, and the staff shouting “if you’re going onto that train just run across it’s right there”. So, thanks to them, I was saved from walking hundreds of miles through the West Countries to meet my next host!

Another lesson for Canada (especially Quebec) to learn: if you don’t want to waste paper towels, put a circular towel inside the box and change it regularly! It’s convenient, clean, and green, so why not?

Gonna end this for now with the dusk, which happens to be purple?! I would understand if this was in the town but it was definitely in the middle of nowhere and purple?! Or am I seeing the northern light?

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