Tower Bridge Looking out to the Tower of London

uk030567

London has been through a lot lately. But it is a historic city that has withstood more than this, not just this century but in centuries past.

I like its cosmopolitan character yet steeped in tradition. It looks back at the past yet moves forward.

The Bridge and Tower are icons, one speaking of tradition and history, the other of technology and progress.

Bridge

Are We Closer to Solving the Mystery of Stonehenge?

stonehenge_0271bw

Why was Stonehenge built?

This monument dates back 5,000 (!) years, though it is now established that it was built in phases over several thousand years up until 1600 BC.

Scientists have also determined that the stones were quarried as far away as 225 kilometers in present day Wales. This has led to a recent theory that it was built in Wales and transported to the present site.

There are varying versions of how it was built, some involving aliens. Even more theories abound on why it was built, the most common it being a burial ground. And yet new theories come up, such as it being a two-story concert hall. New discoveries reveal more information yet raises more questions.

It seems like the more we know about it, the more its mystery deepens.

Perhaps we will never know. What is clear is that people 5,000 years ago started putting order into a bunch of large stones lying around. Perhaps it is a primeval desire of man to seek order in his world and Stonehenge is a symbol of that.
————–
Order

Remnant of York Castle from the Time of the Vikings

York Castle was built on the orders of William I to dominate the Viking city of York in Northern England in the year 1068.

UK1020980

Clifford’s Tower, the keep (strongest and most secure part) of the castle, survives to this day and is one of the most distinguishable landmarks of the city.

uk1020913

It has gone through a tumultuous history involving massacres, fires, explosions and wars.

uk1020950b

It has been used as an office, an armory, a prison, and even a cattle shed over the centuries.

The tower has a commanding view of the city, perhaps only matched by the more famous York Minster in the distance.

uk1020947

Going down the spiral staircase, one is reminded of how lonely it must have been for the guardsmen as they kept watch over Clifford’s Tower.

uk1020959

“Human says time goes by –
Time says human goes by.”
― Anonymous

———————
Heritage
Not quite Evanescent
Survive

A Thatched House in the Cotswolds

UK_9192

Though thatched dwellings date back to primitive times, they became popular in nineteenth-century England when “the gentry wanted a taste of the good life and the simple pleasures of cottage living.”

I can understand if this longing for the simple pleasures of an idyllic, if idealized, life resonates even louder today.

Fortunately, some people have continued the tradition of thatching and it survives to this day in England.

I guess part of preserving heritage is not just to remind us of what has been but also to inspire us to see what might be.

Heritage

A Tribute to Fools

“Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.”
– William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

fool_9203c2
(Statue of The Fool at Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.)

At first glance, it seems Shakespeare is mocking the fool. Even the statue seems to show a clown providing mindless entertainment perhaps.

But Shakespeare’s “fools” actually run deeper. In his plays, the fool has the ability to reflect, give logical and witty responses, and has the freedom to speak his mind, crossing the boundary between the social classes of the common people and the court.

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
– William Shakespeare, As You Like It

fool_9202a

This angle of the statue shows “the other side” of the fool. He is carrying the fool persona on his finger, but his real face doesn’t resemble it at all. Is he having the last laugh? Who’s fooling who?

“O noble fool! A worthy fool!”
– William Shakespeare, As You Like It

So today, I pay tribute to all the fools who are able to pull it off 🙂

———–

Dense (?)
#April01

Dartmoor, England, From a Rained-On Bus

dartmoor 1w

Wet, craggy, cold, lonely.

Dartmoor, in Southwest England, is one of those places you drive through somewhere between Bath and Stonehenge when you tour the UK. It’s not one of those top-of-mind destinations; after all, not too many people live in the area, except in Princetown where Dartmoor Prison is.

dartmoor 4w

Oops! It seems like we started off on the wrong foot. Let’s start over, OK?

Did I mention Dartmoor is wet? Yes, and craggy and cold and lonely. But perhaps that is what I found appealing about it. Somehow I found this kind of raw romanticism more real than the perfect sunny-day-at-the-beach and postcard-ready variety – or in this day, Instagram-ready variety.

dartmoor 8w

Rather than a prison, I find that Dartmoor represents freedom. This rugged and honest place –where nature wears no clothes of pretension – it makes you feel welcome, without question about your right to exist and just be yourself.

dartmoor 5w

These photos from a few years ago were taken from a bus on a rainy day (so what else is new?). I was mesmerized by the landscape and its character. I was snapping photos as we went, not paying too much attention to the images. It turned out the camera often focused on the raindrops on the bus window, which meant the scenery was not sharp, and of course the moving bus meant the foreground was blurred too.

dartmoor 2w

Still, I find the photos captured the experience well – a sense of transitory freedom.

The sun did break out occasionally.

dartmoor 9w

And we stopped where some free-roaming, wild Dartmoor ponies were nearby.

dartmoor 10w

Heeding Dartmoor’s call will always be a lingering wish, a fantasy perhaps, but one that is worth remembering and going back to.

(More info about Dartmoor and the Dartmoor pony.)

Oops!