Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Day 41: Stonehenge & Bath

It's ironic that when we set out to go to Stonehenge & Bath that the day would start out so grey, threatening and cold. But my cousin's husband assured me that when the rain poured as he drove to Stonehenge, it was actually good news, because when we would arrive in Stonehenge it wouldn't be raining.

As we arrived at Stonehenge, there was a stiff wind and a rather chilly start but no rain. As we walked to the "stones" the dark brooding rain clouds continued to threaten.

But as we walked the perimeter to look at every angel of the stones, the clouds began to disperse and the blue sky and sunlight began to shine. 

The stones are remarkable, how majestic they stand on that hill surrounded by ancient barrows - burial mounds. 

It's important that you actually walk around the stones because depending on the lighting, the angle and point of view, you can see different patterns on the stones.

I don't know that for all the photos I took, I actually got the full effect of the stones. They have to be seen to be experienced. No, you won't be able to touch them hopefully to travel to another time or place. They have roped off the stones to the general public.

Within walking distance, tromping through open fields, you can get some close up views of barrows and other things, but we needed to get to Bath.

Just as we finished looking through the re-enacted straw hut demonstrations and left for Bath, the dark heavily laden rain clouds began to gather again.

The rolling countryside of England has a discipline unlike the almost wild rambling countryside of Scotland. Scotland seems so natural and just unabated, but the English countryside has the sharp corners and well tended fields of corn, barley and lavender covered hillsides.

Still plenty of cows and sheep, but as we neared Bath, the rolling fields took greater slopes and deeper troughs.

Bath was a much bigger city than any of us imagined. The traffic was tight with some street construction, but mostly because the streets were still narrow.

There didn't seem to be a "new" part of town, all the buildings seem to reflect the dignity of a dowager queen.

The Roman baths are missing some of their structure but after the incredible span of time they have stood, they are allowed a few missing roofs.

But I was delighted by the statues standing over the terrace overlooking the main pool, they included Julius Caesar, Vespatian, were who I remembered.

I did learn something new, that the baths were actually a part of a compound that included a pagan temple in the worship of the goddess Minerva. 

I didn't even notice a lot of mention in Rome about Roman paganism. Perhaps because Rome is the center of the Catholic religion, the pagan traditions are hidden away. So this was even more exciting to me.

Imagine a religion that allows you to write curses on your enemies and submit them to your goddess!

I also got a chance to eat at Nando's chicken, specifically Nando's Bath Vaults. The decor was made up to look like part of the Roman baths. 

Nando's the restaurant was unlike any restaurant I was familiar with. But then again, it could be because there is a strong resemblance to how people order in pubs.

If you've read my previous posts on England, I mentioned how in an English pub you have to go up to the bar, place your order and pay then someone brings out your food. Nando's is similar yet different.

When you walk into a Nando's, you have to be seated and they give you a menu, then you decide what you want, bring the menu back up to the bar, place your order and they bring it out to you. 

As you wait for your food, you help yourself to the drink fountain, the actual silverware, napkins and pick what your condiments will be. From salad dressing to the malt vinegar for your chips, to the sauce to use with the chickens.

Now in my opinion, it's just grilled chicken with the skin on it. It's not breaded nor deep fried so it's not comparable to a KFC or Popeyes. But since it is Portuguese chicken, the dessert includes pastel natas, Portuguese egg tart. But we didn't order any since I already had the best pastel natas ever made at Pasteis de Belem.

England can have their peri peri chicken at Nando's, I'm looking forward to Chipotle and a barbacoa bowl! Both have their loyal fans in each country. Glad to know as their is a Chipotle's in London just off Leicester Square and a Nando's in DC.

As we drove back, the sun gently sliding across the sky, I was lulled to an almost zen reverie of simply enjoying the countryside.

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