Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Of Stones and Sheep

On Sunday, I took my second trip out to the western part of England to visit the city of Salisbury, and to see Stonehenge. We hopped on a train from Waterloo, and a little over 2 hours later pulled into Salisbury station. What occupied our time during that two hours varied from me knitting baby booties, playing Trivial Pursuit, and general chitchat, but ended with raucous laughing as we tried to design a certain toy. I diligently sketched and took notes. Justine and John contributed by creating a "Prawn Maid", their version of a mermaid. Don't worry, I will not be knitting a prawn maid.

How surreal to see Stonehenge, one of the most iconic images in England, possibly the world. A long and bumpy bus ride ended spectacularly as we spotted the stones out the window, and spent the next hour walking around, in awe. Our cameras were never shut off, and I believe our mouths were never closed. We were too busy gaping.

Me and some stones

More stones!

To get to Stonehenge, you have to walk under the highway, and past the gift shop. On the way there, I noticed some adorable stuffed sheep perched in the window. There was some general squealing at their cuteness (to say I was overly caffeinated would be an understatement. Did I mention we had left early?), and I didn't even stop to wonder why they were selling sheep at the Stonehenge gift shop.

It became quite clear as we emerged from the tunnel, and walked towards the stones. Next to Stonehenge is another iconic English image.

A whole flock of fluffy, woolly, and entirely disinterested sheep. We ate lunch among them (Or really, admiring them from across an electric fence), but they still remained quite bored with the whole scene. I must say, these sheep are jaded. I'd move to the English countryside in a heartbeat, and who wouldn't like Stonehenge in their back yard?

I believe these sheep were planted for tourist purposes. There is a highway that separates their little pasture from the rest of the farmland around Stonehenge, and it seems quite impractical to herd sheep across a major street and back, when you could just put them on the other side and be done with it. I believe these sheep are meant to lure tourists, like myself, into becoming infatuated with their fluffy little selves, and enamored of the general picture. Stonehenge looms behind, casting huge shadows, while in the sunlight, sheep graze. How picturesque. How English.

Well, if the sheep were a trap, it certainly worked. Justine bought 7. (I should add they are gifts for nieces and nephews, and thus not completely insane.) They rode the bus with us, and accompanied us on the rest of our trip. 7 fluffy little sheep. Oh my. Never have I been more tempted in a gift shop, but I remained strong, and sadly went home sheepless. Now, if they'd had a live sheep, it might have been a different story...or some wool...or some yarn. I guess I should be glad they didn't!

We were able to recreate our time at Stonehenge. If you've never been there, or have forgotten what it looks like, the sheep are more than willing to help. This adventure sheep seems to be grazing in front of Stonehenge at sunset. He does look quite content!

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