Friday, November 29, 2013

Hogswatch 2013 report - part 2

Yay we did it! We actually visited Ankh-Morpork
Since, you know... the Discworld Emporium technically does count as diplomatic grounds and everything...

...but before that, we tried out The Cat Cafe
I got a nice, if a bit watery, Italian-style cappuccino (still better by far than anything I've had in Germany, Spain, or France btw), while sweetie scarfed down a giant slice of chocolate fudge cake! 

For once though, cake wasn't at the top of my mind!
Fellow nerds will understand me when I say that finally setting foot in this legendary place I had daydreamed about so much, nearly brought a tear to my eye. 

I was not sure I'd be allowed to take photographs inside, so I didn't (law-abiding gal that I am)... but I did secure a copy or three of the program, to keep as a souvenir. I had to recover them from under a gorgeous but sleepy black cat, too... 

And, boy, I bought so much stuff! Still not nearly as much as hun, though. Hah!
I got myself two kitchen aprons (that I will never use for fear of ruining them), a Discworld Almanak (so maybe I'll finally figure out how time is computed on the Disc), the official 2014 calendar illustrated by Marc Simonetti, and a couple trinkets to send to Allyn - a knitting buddy of mine on Ravelry, as well as a rabid Pratchett fan...

...and, heaven help me, miniatures! Can't resist miniatures GAH! Even if it's been, what, ten years or so since last time I've painted one, and my eyesight's gone so bad in the meantime that I doubt I'll ever dare touch them with a paintbrush.
Still, I got Nanny Ogg, Rincewind, the Luggage, the Librarian and Casanunda (LOL)... and it took me a great deal of willpower not to grab every available character. I was mighty affronted at the lack of a Patrician mini... sigh!

Back to food now - we thought we could as well have a look at The Bear Inn, since most of the events in the program (including the public reading tonight) will be held in its premises. 
The pub dates back to 1720 and specializes - why, of course! - in traditional English cuisine... so hun got himself some juicy meat, whereas I relished the most delightful baked potato ever, loaded with sour cream and melty Stilton cheese and bacon. So good I could have squealed!

Then, since there was going to be pretty much nothing to do in Wincanton till late in the evening, except maybe going back to the Emporium and shedding more money - which the two of us may or may not have done, incidentally - we went to see the Stonehenge circle, which is about half an hour from there. 

Soooo... here it is! 

Notwithstanding its fame and World Heritage status, the site can only be reached by means of some half-hidden dirt road. A slippery mesh path, laid on the ground and leading to the circle, and a rope surrounding it were all the "security measures" we met. 
Such a cavalier attitude towards a national treasure almost shocked me - yet on the other hand, it might simply mean that British people are much more respectful than we are... because, let's face it, Italians would have covered the standing stones with graffiti in a week's time. Ugh. 

All around us, grazing peacefully, were plenty of sheep...

...and the skeletal trees nearby were teeming with crows. 
Seriously, there were so many, it kind of puts the average British writer's obsession with them in the right perspective!

Hun decided he wanted to capture the flight of a raven with the stone circle as a backdrop, and was driven half crazy by the dastardly birds taking flight in the precise moment when he lowered his camera. 

Still, in the end he got his perfect shot!

Now I wish I could truthfully say the ancient magic that permeates the place sent a shiver down my spine yadda yadda yadda, but in all honesty, I was unsurprisingly underwhelmed.
I say "unsurprisingly" because I've never been one for monuments - I will admire them, sure, but to me any crowded street, buzzing with actual living people, is infinitely more precious and fascinating than the most grandiose building. 
And the stones, well... they aren't even particularly beautiful per se. If I can care about them at all, it is only as a tribute to the ingenuity of our Neolithic ancestors who somehow managed to drag them into place.

Once done with our bunch of prehistoric rocks, we sat briefly at the self service area just outside of the archaeological site. I bought a sausage pie for later, and sipped on a nice, cinnamon-spiked hot apple juice, while admiring the jewel-like starlings hopping about the place...

Some guy sitting nearby was eating cake, and it was vaguely disconcerting to see more and more birds flocking to his table, unashamedly aiming for a go at the crumbs. 
I, for one, couldn't help thinking of that movie... in the end, we left the hapless man to be ravaged by sharp little beaks charmed by his new feathered friends, and went to explore our little corner of Somerset, with its red-brick buildings that look like they're out of an episode of Murder! She wrote...

...the occasional semi-detached house, so reminiscent of old English textbooks...

...and even a few thatched roofs. D'aww! 

Time to drive back to Wincanton now - we definitely feel ready for some Cautionary Tales!

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