The reason Second Daughter and I ended up in Glastonbury is “The Mists of Avalon”… I read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s books years ago and loved them. So much that I bought them since they had been lent to me. When I noticed the film was on TV, we watched it, and Second Daughter was mesmerized. She already knew the story a bit, but what we find really interesting about this version is the fact that it is being told from the women’s perspective. When Second Daughter asked me if Avalon existed, I replied: “Not as in the film, no, but there is a place in the UK being referred to as the Isle of Avalon and Glastonbury does exist”. That was it, she had her heart set on going there.
Fast forward a few months, and we were arriving at dusk in Glastonbury. My first drive in the UK in about twenty years, but all went well! The lovely Lynda at Parsnips B&B welcomed us. As we drank a nice cup of tea, she gave us the local paper for current activities and a map, pointing out sites of interest and recommending restaurants. Our room was warm, welcoming and spotless, with a modern en suite shower room and high quality furnishings. After an early dinner at the 100 Monkeys – great vegetarian food and some meat dishes too! – we surrendered to sleep.
The next morning, after a delicious breakfast freshly cooked for us and served in the veranda we set off. First stop: The Chalice Well and Gardens. If you have read my Samhain In The Chalice Gardens post, you will know that this is where we celebrated Halloween, but we had a first, quieter visit in daylight. It is being described as one of the best known and most loved holy wells in Britain, and it is easy to see why. It truly is a magical place and I could have quite happily sat in the gardens all day, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. I would also love to see all the trees, plants and flowers in full bloom. Perhaps next time?
We then went to the High Street to do a bit of shopping. And that is when I realised what I had not really been able to put my finger on since our arrival: The way the people are in Glastonbury. Perhaps we just went to the right places, but in every shop and café we popped into everybody was smiling, relaxed and welcoming. Very enjoyable. Our next stop was the Abbey, the earliest Christian Sanctuary in Britain. You start the visit with a great information centre. Outside, what you can mostly visit now is ruins, except for the Abbot’s kitchen. The way it probably looked like has been re-created inside, and it is very interesting. I was especially taken with the soaps available back then to the pilgrims, “black for the common people” and “scented, purified for the gentry”! The abbey must have been very impressive at the time of its splendour and we loved the story of the Holy Thorn Tree, which flowers twice each year. It is said to have become a tree after Joseph of Arimathea planted his staff into the ground. But what fascinated us most was to learn that the remains of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere were allegedly found buried on the Abbey grounds in 1191…
Our heads still full of all the stories we had read, we wandered out of the abbey perimeter and decided to have something to eat before getting ready for the Samhain celebrations. Second Daughter needed longer than me, I have to say, but the result was quite spectacular!
After another fantastic breakfast the following day, we left, wishing we could have stayed longer. Our next stop was going to be Stonehenge, but that is for another post…