Monday, August 28, 2006

Wells... the town and the water source

Started this morning with the 10-minute tour of Wells Cathedral ( Wells Cathedral (and Wells generally) is worth taking the time to see if you're in the area. I didn't get much of a look inside as the locals were very inconsiderately trying to hold a service, but I did get a good look at the grounds. Of particular note - the Bishop's Palace, complete with moat and a swan trying to cadge handouts, and the Chain Bridge. The Bridge runs from the former monastery to the Cathedral - very cushy for the monks who could go to and from work over a nice, warm, dry bridge instead of slogging to and fro in the cold and the wet.

From Wells, I caught the bus to Glastonbury (, Mecca for all hippies, new agers and general counterculture types. The bus stopped right outside the ruined Abbey, so that was where I started my tour ( The ruins are very atmospheric - it is quite trippy seeing these amazing vaultings and pillars that just rear up into nowhere. It is also a bit sad - in one area, patches of tiles that have survived Henry VIII and centuries of neglect can be seen, protected under a wooden cover. Some of the walls are still stained faintly with the remains of vivid red and blue paint - grass grows along the tops of the walls and in the window frames. As a counterpoint to all this melancholy, some bright spark has set up Ye Mediaeval Faire in one of the relatively clear patches of ground. It includes a bagpiper - I give it a wide berth.

Glastonbury has soy milk!! It's only the second place outside of Buxton where I've been able to get it (the cafe staff at the Eden Project gave me some - they wouldn't make me a cappucino with it, but they were prepared to give me some in a little jug to go with my cafetierre). When I went to make my coffee, the girl in the cafe actually stopped me, saying "Do you know that's soy milk?". Even better, they do tasty vegan food - stuffed eggplant and a very decadent coffee cake. Fuelled by this repast, I walk up the Tor ( The views from the top are spectacular - for those who don't have the benefit of a Rainbow Cafe sugar hit, an entrepreneur sits outside the ruined tower with a supply of water, juice and chocolates. I'm surprised his stock hasn't blown away - it is incredibly windy up there, although the day has generally been warm and pleasant. I take lots of photos of the wonderful views and make the acquaintance of Beth the border collie puppy.

Back to town via the Chalice Well and gardens ( it being the long weekend, there is some sort of healing festival on. Call me a spoilsport, but I am not sure that it is entirely in keeping with the peaceful nature of the gardens to have it chock-full of tents, masseurs, Reiki practitioners and tarot readers. A few services would be nice, but I can barely walk five paces without tripping over somebody or running into a tent.

I escape the garden with a bottle of water from the Well and head off to the Museum of Rural Life ( The Museum is in the old Abbey Barn - when the Abbey was demolished, some sensible soul took it on as part of their farm and the Museum grounds were a working farm up until very recently. The Museum has several really good exhibitions of old farming tools and how they were used - in the courtyard, a gentleman sits with a boat and several photos. His speciality is fishing pre-WWII. Why pre-WWII? Because after WWII, all the locals realised there were much better ways to earn a quid than slogging through the mud with a load of fish traps and a maul, and they packed it in. The Museum also has a cradle-to-grave exhibition showing what rural life would have been like - it is based around the life of a real farm labourer in the area, and it's pretty shocking - I don't think anyone would see it and yearn for the good old days!!

I have a bit of time to kill before I catch the bus to Bristol, so I finish the day with some shopping and a trip to the Lake Village Museum ( The Museum isn't huge, but it's a nice little summary of the area's prehistory. Bit of excitement to end the day - but I'll save that for my next post. I'll end here with the image of me and the Giant Luggage piling onto a bus and driving off into the sunset...


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