My Trip to the South West of England and the Stonehenge ExperienceWhen I was about fourteen, me and my parents went to visit my stepfather's cousin in Plymouth, a very old port town on the river Plym in the south-western county of Devon. It was a long drive from our place, all in all it took us around seven or eight hours to finally reach our final destination. It was late, dark and cold and we were so tired. Peter and Anne (my stepfather's cousin and his wife's names) quickly showed us to our rooms and gave us tea which was just what we needed - a hot, relaxing milky drink and a warm bed. The next day we slept until noon because we were still extremely tired from our journey. My back hurt a lot, too. I got to see Peter and Anne's house in the light, it was very nice and tidy and the funniest thing about it was the fact that the best view out on to the city was from the toilet window!
After a lovely breakfast Peter decided to take us to the moors - an area full of high hills, marshy forests with lots of little rivers and creeks. It was absolutely incredible, a very unique sight. The hills in Dartmoor have a special name - tor. What is different about these hills is that they have a lot of big rocks collected right at the top of them. People say they have been there since the ice age. Me and Peter got to the top of a few of these tors, but my mum and dad lost enthusiasm after the first one. They need to learn how to have fun.
Another famous thing about Dartmoor are is its wild ponies (you can also find them in Newforest). They can run wild and free around the area but once a year there is a small cull (this is when some of the animals are killed so that there would not be too many). I decided to go up to one of them and maybe offer it some food but the pony ran away before I could get close. Shame.
There was a very mysterious atmosphere, like in a fairytale - there was fog everywhere, the air was making my hair and clothes very wet (and it wasn't even raining!), the forest was full of bright green moss. It was everywhere - on the trees and on the rocks; it was so thick that when I sat on one of the rocks it felt like an armchair. Peter said that Dartmoor is always like this - foggy and mysterious.
After our long and exciting walk around the forest and the tors we needed to eat - all the fresh air is very good for the appetite. So we decided to go to a café by the riverside and have the traditional South West desert - cream tea. It is normal tea served with a sweet pastry called a scone. A scone is a thick piece of dough that you eat with strawberry jam and thick, full fat cream. Not very good for the figure but very very tasty.
After our break we went on to a place that was written about by Arthur Conan Doyle in his Sherlock Holmes story about the "Hound of the Baskervilles". It is a very large field with sheep and wild ponies walking around it. In the distance there is a hill with an old castle on it. I think this was the best part of my day in Dartmoor, because I felt like I was in an Arthur Conan Doyle story. I was lucky because there was no big hairy dog who wanted to kill me.
The next day we went to the Plymouth town centre. It really is a port town - a lot of fish and chip shops and boats and fishermen everywhere. We walked around the place, bought some souvenirs and food and went back to Peter's house. Later on in the evening we were all going to go to a music club to listen to Peter and his jazz band play. Peter plays the double bass, a very tall string instrument that is difficult to carry around! I was very impressed by his playing. After the band finished we all danced for the rest of the night, it was a lot of fun.
On the following morning we had to start packing and go back home. We thanked Anne and Peter for a very enjoyable time and set off. On the way home we were passing by the famous landmark that is Stonehenge. It is amazing. The guide told us it was built in 3800 BC, and these stones were brought here all the way from Wales! (and that's a very long way). There are a lot of different myths about the monument, some people even say that the Devil himself brought these rocks here. And even today, in the modern times, historians are not sure what the purpose of Stonehenge is. Most say that it is a religious monument, but who knows!? Unfortunately we were not allowed to go up to the stones and touch them - there is a rope barrier all around it and people can only look at it from about 30 meters away. BUT, once a year, the barrier is taken down and people can spend the whole day and night close to the stones. This happens during the summer solstice - a big Pagan festival. People from all over the UK and even Europe come to the Stonehenge on that day. We took a lot of photos and bought some presents for our friends in the gift shop, after which we had a long road home. When I had my photos from the trip developed there was something very strange about the Stonehenge ones - in every photo there was a bright light just above the stones! Paranormal!
This visit to the South West of England was unforgettable and magical. I returned to that part of the country some years later, but more about that in my next article.