I was relieved this morning to wake up to dry skies. It was a little annoying packing as our things were still damp and icky from yesterday, but at least they weren't sopping wet. While I worked, Tyler began the slow process of giving our bicycle chains a thorough cleaning as it has been over a week since the last time. We have worked out a good process for breaking camp quickly; after rolling up our "beds" we spread the rain fly out on the ground and throw all the loose things from the tent on to it. In this way we can pack almost all of the tent right away, and have easy access to everything else without leaving it on the wet ground.
When I had everything on the rain fly I noticed very dark, threatening clouds quickly moving our way. I told Tyler, "I'm sure we need the chains cleaned, but it is going to rain in a few minutes and all of our stuff is going to get wet! Please help me!" He went to go wash his hands, and I put things away as fast as I could. Menacing clouds still overhead, Tyler returned and we swiftly cleared our belongings from their vulnerable position on the rain fly. We were almost finished when it started to rain. Thankfully none of our important things got wet as we wheeled our bikes under the roof of the women's bathroom. (Mostly) saved from the wet and the cold once again!
We finished packing up our bikes and set off in the rain for Glastonbury. We arrived in good spirits, but our moods quickly took a turn for the worse while trying in vain to find a reasonably priced bed & breakfast. Amid grey, puddle-filled streets lined with crystal shops and psychic healing bookstores, we tried to find a place to spend the night. The tourist information center was laughably unhelpful, and wanted us to purchase a £3 guide that would tell us about places to stay. The backpacker's hotel was cheap, but we didn't feel like sleeping in separate dorms.
Frustrated, Tyler sat down, got out the computer, and looked online for places to stay, while I wandered off to take pictures and buy food for us; we'd barely had any breakfast. About 30 minutes later I returned, food in hand, and with full bellies and eased nerves, we walked a few blocks and found the perfect place. Off of the main drag, you had to open a gate and walk through an incredibly beautiful garden to get to the door. The woman running the B&B was friendly and easygoing, and after we were settled in, she let us leave our bikes in her garden to go wandering around on foot.
We strolled around looking in all the little hippy shops, and eventually settled at "The George & Pilgrims" for a pint of local bitter. We were going to go to Glastonbury Abbey on an special tour that focused on the herb gardens. When we arrived, though, we were informed that we would only see the herb garden and nothing else. We decided to wait until tomorrow when we would be able to see everything. I was a little disappointed because I really wanted the herb tour AND the ability to explore everything else, but alas, you can't always get what you want.
Since we weren't going to spend an hour or so at the Abbey, we decided to keep walking about a mile to the Tor, a tall church-type tower on top of a steep hill. We climbed the steps and were treated with beautiful views of Glastonbury and the surrounding areas. Wind whipped through the Tor as we wandered around and admired the setting sun. It was wonderful! On the way back down, I picked a few plants that I'm going to hopefully identify in my book tonight!
Snapshots from today:
I am sitting on an old white stool in the women's bathroom block of the campsite we stayed at last night. Tyler is just outside in the corridor finishing cleaning our bike chains. Hopefully the rain will have stopped or let up a little bit by the time he is through. Then we'll cycle into Glastonbury to see the sights and maybe get a bed and breakfast so we can dry our clothes and be comfortable for a little while.
3:55 PMIt is 3:55 in the afternoon, Tyler and I are escaping the rain for a bit (again!) in an old pub called "The George & Pilgrims," which has a fantastic atmosphere of candles, dark old wood, and thick stained glass windows. Unfortunately the music is less than ambient, as they are playing "Red Red Wine" instead of something with the same theme as the pub. Tyler is looking at the new book we bought—The Wild Gourmets: Adventures in Food & Freedom. We both saw it in the window of a bookshop and knew instantly we had to have it. We leafed through this gorgeous book of color photographs, recipes, and ideas about eating and living off the land, and though it was a bit heavy we're sure it will be totally worth it. A few minutes ago we purchased a tiny little plant identification book called Food for Free. I am so excited about the possibilities we have before us! Every day we pass (and get stung by) gazillions of nettles, and I know you can eat them, but I wasn't sure what to do with them until we bought these books. I'm also looking forward to making a coffee-substitute out of dried dandelion roots!
It's 9:12 PM, and I'm lying down on our very comfortable B&B bed. We just got home from a hike up to the Glastonbury Tor, and realized that we forgot to "spot" tonight, so our little orange GPS buddy is sitting out on the windowsill. Now it's sandwich-making time, and then we might head back to "The George & Pilgrims" to use their internet. There are signs on various shops around here that say "Say No to Wi-Fry," implying, I think, that wireless internet will fry your brain. You could easily get your brain healed with crystals, here, though, so I'm sure it's not a big deal.
There was a time when I would have been much more excited about the shops in Glastonbury—maybe four years ago, when I read a third of "Mists of Avalon" and was taking classes in college like "Sacred Images, Altars, and Rituals" (a fantastic class!). It is hard to see the spiritual depth here, though, amid thick clouds of incense and figurines of scantily clad fairies. These days I feel most at peace and spiritual in the middle of nowhere, with the smell of the grass in the air and the wind blowing my hair.