Category Archives: Glastonbury

Drinking the Brains of the Welsh in Cardiff and turning into a zombie.


In the late afternoon on Beltain, we gave a fond farewell to Glastonbury with the taste of a Hundred Monkeys still on our tongues…

That came out wrong…

I came away from Glastonbury with a greater appreciation of the area, and a couple of pasties from Burns the Bread stuffed in my pack. A few books, a pendant, and a ton of pictures will help me remember one of the most unexpectedly fantastic places that I’ve ever been.

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Onward to the train(s) and our next stop. Castle Cary is the train station closest to Glastonbury, but it isn’t on one of the high speed lines that goes to Wales, so we had to switch trains at Wesbury with a very short layover of 11 minutes. The Westbury train station has 3 platforms, and according to the screens, our train was due on platform 1, but there was a confusing announcement, in a heavy accent, that it had switched platforms, so we went down the stairs under the tracks to pop up at platform 2 and onto a train… that was empty. An unintelligible Welsh announcement confuses us further, and we stare in bewilderment, unsure what to do.

A second announcement airs, and we can’t hear anything that even rhymes with Cardiff, and we see through the window that there is another train pulling up to platform 1… where we used to be, so we jump off the train that we are on, go back down the stairs, pop up on the platform and jump on the train just as it speeds away, hoping that it was going to Cardiff.

Turned out that it was, and we plopped into our seats and watched the Welsh countryside go by, vowing to extend our connection times in the future.

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We arrived at a quirky B&B called Ty Rosa in the Grangetown district of Cardiff, and had a wonderful homemade supper. Paul and Stuart were very warm hosts with loads of information on the city and the area.

Being so close to the bay and central Cardiff, I decided to wander around the town to look at the sights, and possibly find a pub.

Downtown Cardiff was deserted, I maybe saw a dozen people, and almost no vehicles on the road at 10pm on a Thursday night. I walked down to the bay, touched the ocean, and then circled back past the Millennium Centre and the Millennium Stadium.

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I also passed a local brewery called Brains, and wondered if the zombie apocalypse had reached Cardiff and the population was somewhere feeding on Brains…

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so I piled into a pub called The Great Western, and ordered a few pints of the said Brains and chatted up some of the locals.

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Turns out that Cardiff is suffering from the same thing that Winnipeg and other Canadian cities are. Limited parking and limited activities has pushed the nightlife away from the downtown areas and into the suburbs. Huge megalith sports and cultural facilities fail to draw people into the downtown at night except when there are concerts or sporting events on.

The Welsh Brains were tasty, and I had a couple of pints before realising that I had been awake for almost 36 hours and was turning into a zombie, so I piled out of the pub and back to the B&B, and slept the sleep of the dead.

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The next morning we had breakfast, and flagged down a Cardiff Transit bus towards the Dr. Who experience.

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I watch the show occasionally, and know what a Dalek is, but Z is a huge Whovian, and was very excited about this stop.

(Spoiler alert)

It starts out with a half hour animatronic adventure with the Doctor where he is stuck in a cube thingy and we have to help him get out of the thingy or some other bad guys will win… I think. There were moving platforms and projection and interactive aliens and a bit that was 3D.

Then we were ushered into a large exhibition room that had displays, some old sets, costumes, a few documentary movies, and other informative stuff.

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The final part of the experience was the gift shop where they sold t-shirts and other Dr. Who souvenirs at very inflated prices. (There was a “Tom Baker” scarf that didn’t look anything like the Doctor’s scarf, going for £50 or $100 for instance.)

I picked up a couple of small bits and a T-shirt of K-9 that was on sale.

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Following the experience, we set off for the train station and a direct train to Chepstow.

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A dance at the Tor, and a fire at the Well…


There is another very good reason to visit Glastonbury besides the food… (but if I could just take a moment, Holy Crap the food is good in Glastonbury)!

Glastonbury is also home to some very important spiritual monuments including (but not limited to) the Glastonbury Abbey, the Glastonbury Tor, the Holy Thorn, The Pilgrim’s Inn, The White Spring, and the Chalice Well, and during our stay we visited The Tor, The Spring, and The Well several times.

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The morning of May 1st, the last day of our stay, is a great significance to many faiths. The festival of Beltain, the Gaelic first day of summer.

There were many celebrations throughout Glastonbury this Beltain, as there was the night before. Everywhere there were advertisements for gatherings, and parties, and dances around a maypole.

So, this morning I let the alarm wake me up at the crack of five, and out I went into the foggy English morning. Due to a late change in plans when we were planning this trip, our final night isn’t at Parsnips, but at an equally great B&B called No.51, so we’re slightly farther away from stuff than we used to be, but no matter.

L wanted to get an even earlier start and Z wanted to sleep in, so I went off by myself into the pea-soup morning and towards the Tor.

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The streets were pretty quiet, and I think the fog was eating some of the morning rumble of the surrounding area, so all I could hear were the song birds and the occasional sheep as I walked through the town and on to the footpath and stairs up the side of the Tor.

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I wanted to make the summit for sunrise, so I raced up the steep steps that ascend the 518 foot slope. I find myself thankful for sixteen years of punishing concrete stairs everyday at work, turns out it has conditioned me somewhat for this ascent.

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The climb is peaceful, even though I’m rushing it, and as I approach, I hear voices, and bells, and drums, and laughter. I reach the top and find a group of giant, lively morris dancers entertaining the crowd. It was great fun, in front of St. Michaels’s tower, clapping in rhythm, and cheering them on.

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Almost everybody was having a good time.

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Looking around the hill, all you could see was fog, and it felt like the Tor was an island in the clouds.

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Then the morning temperature inversion occurred, signifying that the Sun had risen, and the fog started to melt away. Like a curtain, it opened, and swept across the landscape, like the beginning of a play.

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I descended the hill and passed by The White Spring for a drink and to fill my bottles with the sacred waters, and then proceeded into The Chalice Well gardens for their Beltain celebration, which I wanted to see, but didn’t feel right about participating in. Feeling like I was intruding, I sat up on a small embankment that looked into the field where everything was happening.

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As the gathering went on, the crowd was asked to participate, and join hands with a neighbour and do a dance of three turns. An elderly woman gestured towards me, and soon I was spinning with her, as a tall man with an Irish accent took our picture.

I was drawn into the crowd, and felt welcome and included, as they brought out the maypole and a wreath for a fertility ritual, and then lit the Beltain fires as we all lined up to jump over the jumping fire.

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Feeling content, I left the maypole dance for the young, and headed back to the B&B for breakfast. Another stop into to town for some glorious pasties at the Burn the Bread bakery, and a few stops for supplies, and we were off to the Castle Cary train station to catch the train to our next destination…. Cardiff.

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