Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Stonehenge, Bath, Work, and a Family



Saturday was great; it was a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath (the British pronounce it Bah-th)! We got up bright and early (715am) to get to the bus by 830. We were there a bit early so we hung out in ISH (International Students House) talking to Alex, Anna, and Shawna while we all waited for the bus. He second coach was late because it had frozen overnight, we found out later; and finally around 9 we were on our way. There were no seats left and we were at the back of the line so I was stuck in the back of the second coach in the corner seat, very back row. There were 5 seats back there and the other four were occupied by a set of girls, two from Ontario, one from Virginia, and one from New Jersey. These girls were talkative, and the whole way there I heard the story of how it was the girl from VA’s birthday, and they met some guys at the bar (“He said he would buy all of our drinks… ‘Do you have any friends?’ he asked… He was rich so I had to go for it…”) stuff like that. It was definitely interesting. The trip was long and the story was entertaining, if a bit smutty, but in case you are wondering it ended up that they were all drunk back at there hotel room breaking things and spilling wine on the really expensive down duvet, then the three girls were topless and not getting it on but definitely making out and such. Then they eventually passed out and the next morning two of them left, one of the guys left, and then the two that were left had crazy sex.

Anyway, after that exciting ride we pulled off the highway into a car park right of the road. They were just sitting there, right off the side of the highway, just on a hill by the road. Not exactly the presentation I was hoping for like, a forest glen or something. Either way it was amazing to think about. I learned a lot about the site itself. Eddie Izzard joked about how, “Before Stonehenge there was Wood-Henge and Straw-Henge,” relating it to the three little pigs story. This is actually close to the truth! There was a Wood-Henge on the site before Stonehenge, and before that was just a henge, just a half-moon of dirt in a pile. No one knows what it was used for, and of course everyone knows the large stones are from Wales, but it’s the small stones that are the cool ones, they are warm… All the time… no matter what the weather is outside (and I can attest to this because they had an example stone outside the site, and it was frickin’ cold) the stone called a Blue Stone is always warmer. I was sceptical, but it really was noticeably warmer!! It was crazy!! Anyway, there is not a lot I can share, we were there for an hour, and got back to the bus at 1215, and we’d apparently kept them waiting and I was the last one at the site… oops…

Then we headed off to Bath. The city is set in a valley so we saw a really beautiful vista as we drove in, but I couldn’t get a picture L because of the bus windows and the trees. As we drove through town Christian (the BUNAC guy) said that the whole town used limestone in the construction of their houses even to this day to keep the theme in town, and that many of the buildings are protected historic structures so they cannot be altered easily. Then as we got deeper into Bath on the bus he mentioned the corrosion on the walls of the houses… acid rain is damaging them… how sad… Bath was built by the Romans when Britain was a province of the Roman Empire… to think that today it is being damaged by pollution saddens me deeply.

We parked and only had a few hours in Bath so we grabbed some take-away food (a really good burger) and headed for the Roman Baths. They were expensive but they were very interesting and better than getting caught up in the shopping that seemed to be the lifeblood of the rest of the town. The Roman Baths are built on a natural hot spring. The water is forced up through the Earth’s crust and the water is so hot (95 C) and under so much pressure that as it comes closer to the surface it cools off, leaving it a comfortable temperature when it hits the surface. It bubbles up into a great pool and is kind of a greenish yellow colour. I really enjoyed looking at the architecture and the ancient history was of course interesting. At one time there was a palatial temple and bath site, but today most of it has disappeared and left only rubble and stones. They are now under the streets and part of the site and the museum. I touched the water… signs told me it was unsafe to drink or to even touch, but I did it anyway, and it would have been really nice to bathe in.

Bathing in Roman times was an all day affair. They would strip down and have a slave watch over their possessions, and head into the Great Bath, there they would hang out for a while, and then go into a steam room. The steam room was heated by the springs as well, but designed with an elevated floor to keep the heat within the room even (ingenious!). After that room you would go into a hotter room, and finally into an intense dry heat (like a sauna, but way hotter) and after a short time in there they would head back out doing the whole process in reverse. Amazing I know… but then when they get back out of the Great Bath they would have massages and oils and cleanings of the skin and whole body, including the scraping off of the skin to make sure it was clean and fresh (like exfoliating). It was a process that I would love to participate in!! It looked amazing.

After the Baths we wandered around the Bath Abbey next door, and there was a small orchestra playing and woman singing, it was pretty amazing to hear so we sat and enjoyed for a while before heading out to wander the populated shopping area. After a long wait for the girls to visit the loo we wandered the high street and then back to the busses for home. All in all a great day, but it wasn’t over yet. We got back to the flat around 830 and it was time for a Party! Giuseppe, Ned, Ben, Kristina, Kylie, Melissa, Melinda, the two French Girls, Alex, Andy, Jenn, Shawna, Anna, Kate, Stephanie and myself of course, but even a couple of people I didn’t know all hung out. Drinking, chatting, listening to music, and eventually (after Alex, Shawna, and Anna left to get to bed) we even played Roxanne (I was stupid enough to play again) and Kings/Circle of Death. All in all a simple party, but a great one… especially since we aren’t even supposed to have them. I headed to bed and spent most of Sunday asleep or relaxing.

1 comment:

Litzner said...

"the stones were thirty feet wide, fifty feet tall, twenty feet deep and other measurments as well..." --Eddie Izzard