Thursday, July 27, 2006

Kings are earth's gods; in vice their law's their will;
And if Jove stray, who dares say Jove doth ill?

Pericles, Prince of Tyre I.i.98-99

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Tor

View from the Tor

View from the Tor

Glastonbury Tor

The Chalice Well

Shrine to the Virgin


The water has a high iron content and thus can leave 'bloody' marks

The Green Man in the water

The Green Man in the water

Chalice Well gardens


My Dad's named Robin :)

Joseph's tree

The legend of Joseph of Arimathea

Abbot's kitchen

The Abbott's kitchen

(from under the umbrella while it rained)




Site of King Arthur's tomb



King Arthur's grave



site of God


Model of what Glastonbury Abbey once looked like

This was for Anna - what a cool name of a store!

Glastonbury II

I had decided before I ever reached England that I would of course be making a pilgrimmage of my own to Glastonbury. It was a bloody painful one as it turned out! Glastonbury is somewhat off the beaten track...

So... get up around 5am, shower, munch some food and grab the packed lunch we'd made the night before. Find the train station. Work out how to get on the trains (unlike the subway, the doors don't open automatically and until you've seen someone get onto a train it's easy to stand there like a tired gormless idiot and wonder if it's just pausing to makeup time). Get to London and walk to the tube to cut across town from Fanshawe to Victoria. Walk to the Coach terminal and buy a ticket. Try not to yawn....
Sit on coach in morning, London rush-hour traffic which eases as get out onto the M-something and hit the first lot of roadworks. Damn but I love NZ roadworks. Nothing compares to bloody Britsh single-mindedness as they close several k' of motorway down to a single lane only for you to creep past a couple of meters of minor roadworks in the centre that barely needs coning off....
Finally arrive in Bristol hours late. Catch a bus from there to Glastonbury. Wonder why the towns as often as not lacks both road signs and town names. Try not to fall asleep and hope the bus driver will remember to tell you when you're there.

At around 1pm hit Glastonbury. Spend a couple of quid and pick up one of the numerous street maps/historical/mythical guides etc...

Wander around a pretty little new-age town and find your way to the Abbey (the oldest in England). It's a gorgeous place with it's own little museum. The buildings are remarkably intact given their age and you can still stand on the spot of K.A.'s tomb.

Then go for a walk out to the Chalice Well. Also very new-agey and linked into the Joseph of Arimathea and King arthur myths. (as the celtic/christian narratives became interlinked). Peaceful and beautiful.

Then hike up the hill of Glastonbury Tor. Being used to NZ and having interpreted directions and a gate-post sign slightly incorrectly I ended up hiking through several sheep fields to find the path but I can assure you that's not necessary. It was funny actually as the flocks of sheep kept baaing at me in a threatening manner...
Up top the view is gorgeous and the remaining tower of the church is very, very old. The Tor is also part of the leyline running up to the Clava Cairns in Scotland that I visited.

> Catch bus from Glastonbury to Wells. Discover that you mis-read the timetable slightly and that the bus service from Wells to Bristol is really truly crap. Wait for well over an hour for the bus and keep wondering if you should be wandering through Wells or if you'll get lost just as the bus is due. Finally get to Bristol, thn ctach a coach to London..... Arrive in London bloody late at night, starving and wanting to contact your bf who's on the other side of the world. Find an open late internet cafe. Have a gorgeous Italian meal. Catch the tube to Fanshawe and walk to the train station. Miss the train. Wait for the final train (around 12.30). Get to the end of the line and walk home. Fall into bed around 2am...


Glastonbury was, is and probably always shall be a town for tourists and for pilgrims. It was once known as the isle of apples because it was literally an island amongst the flat marshes and rivers. As the romanticised ideas of Arthur and his court developed in southern france and amongst the Norman lords so did the myths of Avalon and the fae (from the twelfth to the fourteenth century).
For Henry II, King Arthur was a liability. He had no problem with the poets reciting stories of valour, of chivalry or the newly developing concept of courtly love, nor did he have issue with tournaments and dressing up in the image of Arthurian legend. What he did have the problem with was that the bloody Welsh wouldn't stay down, believed K.A. would come back to rescue them one day and that they weren't overly thrilled about their overlords appropriating their myths. He felt, as any decent tyrannical overlord would, that they ought to be taught a lesson.

Meanwhile, Glastonbury was having problems. Their income relied upon the tourist trade and a recent fire had destroyed both their home within the monastery and also their saintly relics. Conveniently, a letter arrived from the King telling them that a wandering bard had told him that King Arthur's tomb was at Glastonbury and wouldn't it be awfully convenient if they could find his bones....

A few years later they did - along with Mordred (but he soon disappeared as it seemed impolitic for him to be buried with K.A.) and Queen Guinevere (even a golden lock of hair remained). Thus could the king loudly pronounce that Arthur was dead and his bones available to be revered.

King Edward also saw the political adavantages of having a clearly dead Arthur. He even, with great pomp and splendour, had a new tomb built inside the church and a state funeral/ceremony to see the bones safely moved.

Conveniently, the monks had also rediscovered 'lost relics' that had been tidied away into broom closets and such to 'preserve' them and thus soon had a bustling pilgrimmage trade again.

Pat, me, Dorrie, Gran

The maze

Emerging into the light

Me in the tunnel

Me & Pat

Underground god

Wendy, Dorrie, Gran, Pat, me


Yay, a sign of spring!



The falconry display

The maze


driftwood critter

Wendy, me, Pat

Ceiling (up to lookout)

Face of a god

The underground grotto was awesome. The initial mosaics were all made using shells and water pebbles...