Insights: news and views from the International Center

International Center

University of Missouri

Stonehenge and more

Filed in Blog, United Kingdom by on February 25, 2014

This past weekend, I visited a British friend who lives down south and we traveled to Stonehenge, Bath and Bristol. My favorite part of the weekend was having the opportunity to experience “real” British life: that is, to stay in real British houses and be shown around by natives rather than flounder in and out of hostels and attractions like the tourist I am. Here are some photos interspersed with random thoughts about the weekend:

  • My friend, Emma, lives in Swindon and teaches physical education at a school near London. We spent the night at her house catching up and watching the Olympics before heading to Stonehenge in the morning. A major realization I had on this night was that I would know a lot about how the British athletes fared at the Winter Olympics this year, but not a lot about the Americans unless I actively sought out information. We (British “we”) won the women’s skeleton! How’s the U.S. doing?

IMG_1461

This caption is probably unnecessary, but: Stonehenge


 

  • It was an incredibly sunny weekend; we were expecting bad weather considering the historic storms and flooding the southern part of the U.K. has been experiencing. Luckily, we were unaffected and made it to Stonehenge without obstacle. The main thing I noticed about Stonehenge was that everybody was more concerned with taking pictures than soaking in the experience, which I suppose is to be expected in our social-media driven age (I say as I blog about it). It was still an awe-inspiring spectacle, though, especially after visiting the museum and learning about how far these stones came from southern Wales and how long ago this feat was accomplished: about 6,000 years!

henge1

Visitors of all ages at Stonehenge


 

  • Next we headed to Bath, the beautiful Roman city. It’s wider streets and stately light-stone houses provided quite the contrast to the narrow, winding, darker streets of Lancaster.
bath

A square near the City Centre in Bath

bath1

Living statue in Bath


 

  • The Baths themselves, of course, were beautiful. I found the reflections in them more interesting than any of the other photos I took there, so I’ve shared them below. Emma and I were amazed to think that this site was more than 4,000 years younger than Stonehenge.
baths

Reflection in the main pool at the Roman Baths

IMG_1534

The wishing well (wishing bath?) at the Roman Baths


 

  • After strolling through bath houses, we found the fountain offering free, authentic Bath water to drink. I tried some and Emma captured this beautiful moment:

IMG_1542

A testament to the adage “Don’t drink the water”


 

  • Then it was time to head on to Bristol, where we were to stay with Emma’s relatives. I noticed her air freshener for the first time, and thought it was funny but also a reminder that what we find novel all depends on the culture we are usually immersed in. Emma, like many young Brits, has traveled to the U.S. through the British “Camp America,” program, which places willing participants at summer camps for work experience. She worked in California and has traveled extensively there and in the Southwest, hence Route 66.

tag

My British friend’s American air freshener


 

  • Later that night we went into Bristol, which has a lively downtown with tons of restaurants and bars. I was eager to see a Banksy mural, so I was ecstatic when we came upon this one. For those of you who don’t know, Banksy is an infamous graffiti artist. He is based in Bristol but operates all over the world. His art is highly satirical and political, and his identity is a mystery! I asked our Bristolian host whether anybody has theories as to who Banksy is. She said she was sure they did, but that she thought most people liked not knowing, and let it be.

banksy

A Banksy mural in Bristol


 

  • I didn’t take many pictures in either of the houses I stayed in since I was a guest, but I did get this picture of a typical Bristolian backyard. Like most typical houses in England I’ve seen, the house and yard were small but tidy and welcoming. I do wish I had taken a picture of Lilly, my host family’s Yorkshire Terrier; she’d perk up every time I talked, seemingly because of my different accent!

bristol

A view of the backyard in Bristol


 

  • On Sunday we headed back into the city for more sight-seeing. We went down to the Avon riverside, where many historic ships were docked.
IMG_1554

On a ship in Bristol

IMG_1583

The Avon River in Bristol


 

  • We ended our tour at a major landmark, the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

IMG_1609

The Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol


 

  • I trained back to Lancaster that evening. It was a lovely weekend, and made me even more excited to keep exploring other new places. Most of all, I was struck by the generosity and kindness of my friend and her family in hosting me and giving me this memorable experience. I could tell they were proud of their historical treasures and happy to show them to me.
  • One final announcement I need to make is that I am officially addicted to tea. I think I had four cups per day this weekend, since that’s how often my hosts were drinking it. If you read my previous blog post, you’ll know that I recently received a cryptic message via a street sign that my priorities would soon be changing. Well, the prophecy has been fulfilled. I have a new priority now, and it’s tea.

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Mark says:

    It seems you had a lovely weekend. Your photos are amazing! My favourite are the Banksy mural and The Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. I’m proud to be a Bristol resident, and I am glad you’ve enjoyed my home town.

  2. Lorna says:

    I so enjoyed your weekend travel and photos. But the most heartwarming of all is your final announcement that you are officially addicted to tea! I really liked reading this blog.