Monday, May 25, 2009

Saturday – Fairytales & Stonehenge

Another glorious morning. We must have brought some of the Arizona sun!

We sleep in a little, then Cookie must fix a flat he got last night while coming up the path to the campground. A strange thing about flat tires. I have had only one in the entire time I have had my bike, over a year. Cookie had seven last year during his trip, and has had several in Flagstaff. I had just remarked to him that he had not had any since we arrived, and of course, he had to get one. All in the course of owning and riding a bike.

We breakfast at the King's Head (do you see a recurring theme here? - See pic). They have good food and the Internet is free. This morning, I am off to see a fairytale at the festival. The Sun Dragon is described as an “intergalactic fairytale”. Presented at The Salisbury Arts Center, an old converted church by a troupe from Cambridge. Parents and their children begin filling the seats. At the curtained entrance, an usher seems confused that I am alone and queries, “no children?” “I am the child.” Would you have expected anything less from me?

Bleacher-type seating looks down upon the stage which is strewn with props and paraphernalia. A keyboardist plays softly to one side of the stage. As the performance begins, I know I have chosen wisely. A troupe of five performers begins a combination of narrative, character acting, puppetry, and use of props and lights to create a truly magical experience. It is reminiscent of the Muppets and the Lion King, with a little bit of Harry Potter thrown in. And just five players and one musician! How marvelous they are. Oh yes, the other children love it too.

I may steel some of their puppetry and gimmicks for my storytelling. I come away filled with smiles. In the back of my mind, I believe that this troupe might be a good fit for the Jonesborough Storytelling Festival. I think too that my friend Susan Southard's Playback Theater Group would fit well here in Salisbury.

Cookie and I meet back up and decide to take the tour bus to Stonehenge. A 15-20 minute ride brings us to the site of this ancient stone circle that's true purpose has eluded both scholars and scientists alike. It is strange to see this historic structure in the center of a field, surrounded by twenty-first century highways, a tourist shop and food vendor. An Ipod like device guides one around the structure with recorded explanations in fifteen different languages. You cannot get closer than 30 feet, as it is roped off to the public.
There is only one day each year when it is accessible up close, the day of the summer solstice. There are so many people on that day, though, that unless you are one of the first 200 to enter, you become just one of the crowd. There are many theories and myths surrounding Stonehenge, yet no one can say with any real clarity, why it is there. Perhaps I will craft a story about it's origins.

We return to town, head to the train station to check schedules as I must head to Crawley tomorrow in preparation for my flight on Monday. The week has gone by quickly.
We then ride through the park along the Avon river. The day is still sunny. People are walking the paths, sitting on benches, picnicking with their families. Near one of the pubs, dogs and children play in the shallow river just below a small waterfall, with a view of Salisbury Cathedral in the distance. An idyllic English weekend setting.

After several tries for a dinner venue, we end up at The Mill Pub (across from the King's Head). Cookie has bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes) and I partake of Hunter's Chicken, chicken breast with Canadian bacon, barbecue sauce, and cheese (and of course, the requisite order of peas – served with almost every meal). The dinner is “spot on” as the Brits say.

A perfect ending to a perfect day!

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