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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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The Cotwolds [20060212|00:56]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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(Left to right: The King's Men, lichen colonies on the King's Men, moonrise over White Horse Hill)

Yesterday, imyril and I cured our respective hangovers with bacon egg & bubble baps and coffee at Borough Market, and then headed for Ye Aulde Englishe Countryside, otherwise known as the Cotswolds. We drove through a number of Charming Villages with Thatched Roofe Houses and names like Stow-on-the-Wold (I'm not making this up.) before stopping at the Rollright Monument. It features a stone circle called the King's Men of approximately equal age, though somewhat lesser renown, than the one a few miles south.

We watched children breathlessly counting aloud as they skipped around the circle, trying and failing to get the same total number each time. Supposedly, if you count the same number after three full perambulations of the circle, you'll have good luck for a year. It's difficult because the stones vary in height, girth, placement and degree of being completely overgrown by the long grasses around them. We took many photos, froze our fingers, and saw a couple of peculiar older persons with deadly serious faces slowly pace the circle with dowsing rods in their hands. We visited the nearby dolmen, romantically named the Whispering Knight's Burial Chamber, and crossed the road to examine the King's Stone. The peculiar shape of the latter doesn't have any ancient significance. Nor is it due to erosion. The Victorians used to chip away bits of it and carry them off as souvenirs. Consequently, the fence around the stone doesn't make for terribly good photos, though the view from the mound on which it stands is delightfully pastoral.

We hopped back in the car to attempt to find the white horse on the hill near Uffington. Daylight faded as we drove up the hillside. We parked quickly and dashed up the path – to find an ordinance survey marker and a bunch of hippies in possession of a duck, a candle, a can of beans, a bottle of brandy and a lot of imagination. I took the moonrise photo above as they sang songs to the beans and poured out a libation on behalf of the duck. (For some reason I feel the need to assure you again that I'm not making this up.) We went in search of the horse. Although you'd think it would be easy to locate a 374 foot long piece of Bronze Age graffiti done in chalk on a hillside, we didn't figure out that we'd found it until we walked over it. Not on it, thankfully. We had the presence of mind to recognize that the wavy white lines we could discern through the darkness weren't roads, and probably had some kind of significance. By this time a stiff wind was blowing over the exposed hillside, so I collapsed the tripod and we hurried back to the warmth of the car. We zipped down the M4, back to London, away from stones, chalk, thatched roofs, and séances. Okay, perhaps not the last. I'm sure there are plenty of séances in London. I'm not sure that all of them involve ducks, though. Or cans of beans.

[User Picture]From: k_navit
2006-02-12 01:54 (UTC)
Delightful photos! (And narration).
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-02-12 13:18 (UTC)
Thank you! Have you been to either of those sites?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-02-12 13:08 (UTC)
I liked the composition of the later, vertical shot I took, but it suffers from a couple of problems. It's too dark (needed > 30 seconds exposure) and has vignetting in the corners, probably from the polarizing filter that I was too frozen to remove. :-/

I have a thermos! I forgot to bring it, though, in my fuzzy-headed hangover state. It's a penguin. It was a Christmas present, and is possibly the most awesome thing Marco has ever bought for me. Next time we do something like this I will certainly fill it with hot chocolate.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-02-12 13:11 (UTC)
P.S. I hope you're feeling extra smug about deciding to take that trip yesterday, considering that it's likely to continue raining for all of today.
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[User Picture]From: omniana
2006-02-13 08:22 (UTC)
Oooo, loving the moon picture. Giggled over your hippies, reminds me of the new age culture and "vortexes" in Sedona that we chanced upon.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-02-13 22:11 (UTC)
Ha! I remember that story. I feel extraordinarily removed from the people who are capable of believing in such things. It really baffles me.
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[User Picture]From: bellelaqueen
2006-02-14 10:18 (UTC)
Sounds like a wonderful trip. I've always been fascinated with ley lines and English mysticism.
I like pic 2 the best, the way you've caught the detail in the Lecanora spp and the....

Oh god, I'm turning into a lichen geek *loads gun*
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-02-15 08:31 (UTC)
It was lovely. I still want to do the Woodhenge/Stonehenge tour that you and the Monsta did last summer, too.

Hey now. Don't hate on yourself for being a science geek. That's not allowed in this particular company. ;-)
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