This is the sixth year we’ve come to the UK Championships here in Bournemouth, and despite Stonehenge being only 30 miles away – a quick day-trip, really – we’d never visited it! Mostly because we never have time to. But this year, with our recent focus on Standard and the decision to not dance Latin at this year’s comp, it meant we had an extra day off. We decided to make some good use of today, and surprisingly, it was Simeon who suggested going to see Stonehenge. For some reason, I had thought Stonehenge was further away, but as it turns out, it’s a mere 1 hour drive from Bournemouth, so we decided to hop in the car. Even more surprising, we had to drive through Salisbury to get there! I guess my mental map of the whole area was a bit screwed up. I always thought Salisbury and Bath were right next to each other, and Stonehenge was somewhere out in the boonies. Actually, Salisbury and Stonehenge are next to each other and Bath is a long ways off!
We didn’t run around Salisbury too much. We’ve been to Salisbury before, which was another thing that made it strange that we had never seen Stonehenge. But I’ll be honest. When I came to see Salisbury, it was during the time that I was writing my books about late Yorkist Era England.
The antagonist of my two novels, the love of my former life, the man who was at the root of my Medieval persona’s smashed dreams, was beheaded in Salisbury in October of 1483 for treason against Richard III. When I had come here the first time, it was to see the cathedral where Richard had prayed on the eve of the Duke of Buckingham’s execution. It was to find the sight of Buckingham’s burial, the sight of his beheading. And, can I say, it was eerie. Salisbury still is eerie to me. As we were driving in this morning, I could feel Buckingham’s presence as strongly as Simeon’s. I still have yet to visit Brecon, the seat of Buckingham’s domain and the location of his home castle, and I predict that when I do visit, I will be oppressed by him. But here in Salisbury, where he died, he is still present.
Regardless of Buckingham’s ghost, Salisbury is a beautiful city. You can see the spire of Salisbury Cathedral from across the plain as you drive in. We were blessed with a cloudless blue sky this morning, and that massive spire of the cathedral is omnipresent as you drive through. The city still has the feel of a medieval town. The streets are small and windy, the houses packed closely together, the city surrounded by massive expanses of farmland. Of all the places I’ve visited in England, I’d have to say that if I were to move to England, I should have to live in Salisbury. It’s only 80 miles from London, it’s gorgeous, and I somehow feel peaceful here, despite Buckingham… or maybe because of him?
But this morning we drove straight through and on to Stonehenge, which is just outside a small town called Amesbury. Our first view of Stonehenge was as we came around a bend.
It was incredible. I wanted Simeon to stop and take a picture from that view, but unfortunately there was nowhere we could pull over. Instead, we had to loop around and pull into the Stonehenge carpark. Stonehenge was far larger than Simeon imagined. For me, I didn’t know what to expect, but it was strange seeing all the normal sights of English countryside, only to come around the bend and see this huge monolithic sight basking in the winter sun on the Salisbury Plain.
Stonehenge was beautiful, but I wasn’t particularly affected by it. I know some people are, and it’s strange that I, with my penchant for history and my respect for the ancients, didn’t find the site incredible in its own right. My
explanation is that none of my past lives were much affected Stonehenge. In case you haven’t noticed, I believe in past lives, mainly because I’ve had personal experience with the proof. Past lives are my explanation for why some people feel drawn to a particular place in the world, a particular type of person or behavior, a particular period in history.
Coming back to Salisbury, we parked and sought out the Salisbury Starbucks, where we enjoyed a coffee and shared a cookie. Then we sauntered along the River Avon and an old water mill until finding the pub “The King’s Head” and ducking inside for a real British classic: A Curry and a Pint.
We couldn’t stay outside for too long. Despite the nice weather, it’s freezing cold in South England right now and my toes, which were a little damp from the mud around Stonehenge, couldn’t handle it. But it’s nice to be back in Salisbury. It reminds me of the good times with Buckingham, even though he only died here. It reminds me of Buckingham in general. The city even makes me miss him, if you can believe it.
For more pictures, visit our complete photo gallery on our website at http://www.emotionsdancesport.com/uk-championships-2011.htm