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Monday, September 19, 2016

A Day Out At Avebury

A few weeks ago, when we were on our way to meet the In-Laws in Salisbury, we broke our journey at Avebury. We were there no more than 30 minutes. It was an excuse to have a coffee and snack before continuing to our destination. Up until then, we hadn't really realised that Avebury was such an extensive place. We visited the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire a few years ago and had imagined that Avebury would have been similar. How wrong could we be? The stone circles and earthworks which make up the landscape is huge. On Saturday we decided to make a proper day of it and left home around 8.15. It wasn't too sunny either. The last few weeks we've had exceptionally warm and unseasonal weather, which is all very nice when you can get into some shade, but if you are working (which Carol has been.) it can be quite difficult. But on Saturday it was bright but not sunny. We had around a 2-hour journey there and this time, I had my new Canon digital camera fully charged, because last time we visited, part-way through my photography was interrupted when the battery gave up, unfortunately.

The landscape is quite breathtaking. It seems to creep up on you totally unexpectedly. And then these enormous stones appear within this landscape. The actual village of Avebury is strange when you think it's been built within the stone circles. We've visited Stonehenge (which is a short distance from Avebury.) and that is spectacular, but I think Avebury, together with the stones and the earthworks which comprise the total landscape, is far more spectacular.

We started off in the café, as we had done around a month ago, and then walked up onto the surrounding hills where we took some photographs. We came back and then visited the Manor, which is part of the complex and managed by the National Trust. As members, we had free entry. I have to say it was interesting, but not as interesting as many other National Trust properties we've visited. What was different was that none of the furnishings within the rooms on display were genuine. It had been transformed by the BBC for a television series called  "The Manor Reborn" when each of the rooms in the manor was decorated and furnished to represent various periods through British history, for example, a bedroom to represent the Tudor era and a lounge to represent the 1930's Art Deco period. Whether it worked I'm not sure, but the idea was to attempt to make each room not only accessible to visitors, but to allow people to interact with the furniture and other items, unlike in other properties you might visit, particularly those owned and run by the National Trust, where you are not allowed to touch anything, sit on the furniture or touch the various items on display. A good idea up to a point, but it didn't seem in any way genuine and had the definite feeling of being a set for a play or television drama. I think the National Trust should be careful to not make their properties seem more like attractions in a theme park and make sure that the properties are, wherever possible, as genuinely historical as possible and not attempt to be persuaded to make them 'popular' just for the sake of it. The people we were with when we visited the manor seemed to be having a good time, being able to dress up in period costume and sit on the furniture etc, which was  a good enough reason to have the manor as it was.

We then went out into the garden in which the manor sits. There was a great collection of sculpture scattered amongst the flowerbeds which we spent time looking at and we photographed several of them.

This is only a small selection of the sculptures we saw in the garden at Avebury Manor

We went into the village shop to buy drinks. As Carol is diabetic, it was incredibly difficult to find sugar-free drinks. It seems that manufacturers of any sort of drink seem incapable of making any drink which has no sugar in it. Why do some drinks, which are marketed as being 'light' have so much sugar in them? What does 'light' refer to? Is it the fat content or the sugar? We also bought a rather magnificent map of Avebury which we hope to get framed and then hang it in our lounge. Good value at only £5.

From the shop, we decided we'd seen all we wanted to. There is far more to see, such as Silbury Hill as well as The White Horse chalk figure at Uffington and Wayland's Smithy, which is around half way home on the journey back to Milton Keynes, which we intend visiting in the near future.

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