Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part IV

This is part of a new series of blog posts about travelling....starting with a place I have actually visited before: STONEHENGE!

A quick note before we begin:

Please remember to come back and click through the advertising banners and links you see in my blog posts when you choose to make a purchase. That's how I get credit or money to help support my blog. You will also find banner links of my affiliate advertising partners at the right side bar for your convenience. (scroll down) The shops and services I select to partner with generally have good to excellent online reviews. Although I haven't made personal purchases with all of my partners yet, when I do I'll share my honest opinions with you.

If you have an experience you'd like to share or a suggestion to make, post a comment below, and come back to my website often. I'll be posting more material soon!

Now...back to STONEHENGE

The first blog post in this series is about cruise ships and whether you can take pets with you on a cruise. In case you missed it, Part I is Here. The second blog post is about booking a cruise ship, and my personal recommendation about how to prepare in advance for your day at Stonehenge. Part II is Here. The third blog post is about travelling to the port for boarding the ship. Part III is Here.


As you know if you read my previous articles, my dream vacation is to take my dogs for a walk at Stonehenge. Because I live in California, this scenario has taken quite a bit of strategy on my part to find a way to get to the destination. The strategies were covered in my previous blog posts, ending up with being on an ocean liner. So now it's time to really think about what it would be like arriving on an ocean liner, at a port in England with my dogs.

The last time I visited England it was summertime and I was in my teens. My dad had landed a job in Europe, and touring Europe and Britain was one of the last memories I have of family vacations from my youth. It was more than mere coincidence that we visited England in the summertime. It was strategic planning. One of my parents is from England, and my family was very much aware that harsh regional winter weather exists abundantly throughout the UK.

What I didn't expect, as a teenager who had grown accustomed to packing clothes in layers, was just how cold England can be at any time of the year. In June, while wearing a classic light tan blazer, I felt a little chilly and uncomfortable, even in broad daylight.

It's hard for me to imagine just how cold England is in winter. For this vacation, I'll probably just leave winter to some dark corner of my imagination. Instead, I'll travel during the summer months. Maybe I should pack a couple of sweaters, some boots and a pair of thick socks, just in case it's a little chilly the day I'm there. Yes, you read that correctly. I have one day. It's because, to the best of my knowledge, the ship usually only has a one day layover in Southampton.

Even though I'd prefer to be in England during the warmest months of the year, I might avoid visiting Stonehenge during the summer solstice. This solstice happens sometime in the second half of June, and what with the celebrations that happen at Stonehenge for this event, I expect that there would probably be a lot of tourist traffic at that time. Tourist traffic could slow me down. Definitely, I'll need to be super efficient with my day so my dogs and I will be back on board the ship in time for departure.

I also want to avoid taking a lot of time disembarking with my dogs at Southampton. Both the ship and the UK have very stringent regulations about pet paperwork, vaccinations, health and even pet visas. See my previous posts for more about pet regulations.

Something I'd like to have more clarification on, is exactly what happens when taking ship-approved USA-boarded pets off the ship in England. Are the pets given instant approval, based on paperwork done in advance, or are there more hurdles to clear at the port? Hopefully, the cruise line can answer this question in advance.

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I'd like to imagine that that taking the dogs off the ship is relatively simple and easy. In this scenario, I would arrange to have a rental car at the port, and then drive from Southampton port to Stonehenge and back. Travelling may take a little over an hour each way. Or it may be as long as 1-1/2 hours each way. I'll estimate three hours total for driving.

I would like to have about an hour or so to walk my dogs around the area. I don't plan to actually take them inside the monument, because I'm pretty sure dogs aren't allowed on the tours. See my previous posts for more about dogs and Stonehenge. My dogs are pretty small, and we usually don't really cover a lot of ground quickly. Walking around outside, on the public grounds, without actually approaching the monument tour area is fine with us. We may discretely absorb the ambiance from a distance.

If everything goes smoothly, the entire visit can be accomplished in four hours, giving us plenty of time to get back on board the ship. My dogs will be super happy to return to their familiar kennels, after having an exciting adventure walking around the mysterious, ancient monument with me. And as for me, I'll be basking in the glow of a successful adventure.

That was the "perfect day" scene. Now I need a backup plan in case it's not that easy to take my dogs off the ship at Southampton port. What if there is more paperwork for the dogs, long lines, additional required clearances for the dogs and that sort of thing after we actually get to the port in England? What if, in fact, it's not that easy to get my dogs in a rental car and drive to Stonehenge for a walk? What if some regulation requires me to be separated from my dogs? I don't want them out of my sight in a foreign country, not even for a few moments.

Although it's not an ideal vacation, it might be better, by the time I get to England, to let my dogs hang out at the ship's kennels while I go sight seeing without them. It might be fun to be with a group of people on a tour of Stonehenge.
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Without the dogs in tow, I may let a professional tour guide do the driving, someone who's experienced at getting tourists back to their ships on time. Relaxing my personal responsibilities, my friends, would be a great vacation for me.

After a week at sea, the dogs would already be used to staying in the kennels on board. No worries about separation anxiety. The kennel attendants would be already be friends with my dogs. They would have a regular day together, with all their regular meals and play time as usual. Who knows? They might not even miss me. They might not enjoy all the hassle of going to a new place, a place they may only visit once in their little lives. At least they would be safe, and well cared for. I wouldn't have to worry about them. It would probably be okay.

Of course, after coming back from that Stonehenge tour, I would probably want to check up on my dogs first thing. I would like to have a chance to do this before changing clothes, and before socializing on the return journey to USA. When my little friends smell all those wonderful, mysterious Stonehenge scents on my boots, I'm pretty sure they would both be just as excited and happy as if we'd gone on the whole Stonehenge adventure together.

Who knows what kind of dreams they might have that evening, and from what time in history? Dogs have such great sensory perceptions. They sense more than we do, and they seem to do it with far less sensory input than we people need.

At this point, after an exciting day at Stonehenge, my dream vacation comes to an end. I've visited Stonehenge and returned to the ship on time. Either I've taken my dogs with me, or I've reconnected with them later in the day at their kennel doggie cabins.

Either way, the dogs and I would be safely aboard the friendly ocean liner and ready for another enjoyable week at sea as we return to the USA. All too soon we will arrive, once again, at the port in New York City. From there we will rent another car and finally, after driving back thousands of miles across the country from this grand journey, we'll arrive back home. And from home, it will be back to regular life in California. The dream adventure of a lifetime is complete.

Or is it? What would happen if I decided to stay in England for awhile with my dogs? Maybe I could have a longer vacation, or maybe there's a overseas job in my future. If my dogs are welcome, my Visa is good, and it's affordable for me, it might be fun to stay on for a few more months. I wonder, though, where would we stay? How many friends would we make? What sort of nice, interesting, exciting and magical adventures might be in store for us?

To be continued...



Resources

Drive to Stonehenge and Southampton Review of Golden Tours, London, England - Trip Advisor
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g186338-d663796-r241295287-Golden_Tours-London_England.html#REVIEWS

Michelin route planner and maps, traffic news, weather forecast, restaurants and hotel booking
https://www.viamichelin.co.uk

Let's Go to Stonehenge! Part III

This is part of a new series of blog posts about travelling....starting with a place I have actually visited before: STONEHENGE!

A quick note before we begin:

Please remember to come back and click through the advertising banners and links you see in my blog posts when you choose to make a purchase. That's how I get credit or money to help support my blog. You will also find banner links of my affiliate advertising partners at the right side bar for your convenience. (scroll down) The shops and services I select to partner with generally have good to excellent online reviews. Although I haven't made personal purchases with all of my partners yet, when I do I'll share my honest opinions with you.

If you have an experience you'd like to share or a suggestion to make, post a comment below, and come back to my website often. I'll be posting more material soon!

Now...back to STONEHENGE

The first blog post in this series is about cruise ships and whether you can take pets with you on a cruise. In case you missed it, Part I is HereThe second blog post is about booking a cruise ship, and my personal recommendation about how to prepare in advance for your day at Stonehenge. Part II is Here.


As you know if you read my previous articles, there is only one ship that I can take for my trip to England if I'm bringing a pet; the Queen Mary II by Cunard. What I may not have mentioned is that there is only one USA port where I can board, and it's in New York city. I live in California, which is not only on the opposite coast, it's also on a different ocean. I can't just hop onto a boat and travel across the Atlantic, because my coast is Pacific. So how do I get to the Atlantic ocean and NYC?

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The Queen Mary 2 Cruise Ship by Cunard
at Cruise Compete

Since this is a dream vacation, my dream might be to sail around South America and, from there, up the east coast to New York. In this scenario, I would be travelling the oceans from California in a counter-clockwise direction (or anti-clockwise as they say in the UK). This would probably work great in a dream...my reality, though, is I'm not experienced in sailing a boat and there don't seem to be any cruises that work this route with pets on board.

I could fly, perhaps, and that would be quickest. But, as I mentioned in my first post, I don't like the idea of flying with pets. I'm not sure it's good for them, and airports are not my favorite places when I'm with pets. If I were to ask my dogs, I'm pretty sure both of them would give airport travel a less than enthusiastic response. But a road trip? Now we're talking. Most dogs love riding in cars, and mine are definitely no exception.
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I've traveled across country, with a pet dog as copilot, in a past life adventure I'll always remember. This was from a time, way back in history, in the olden days before cell phones.

We traveled the ubiquitous I-10 that traverses the southern part of our beautiful country using a customized map and tour guides from the local auto club. Those were the days my friends.

Nowadays, finding and booking a pet-friendly hotel is pretty simple. In my experience with cross country travel, it can be easier and more cost effective to look for inexpensive lodging through a recognized pet-friendly chain like La Quinta, Red Roof Inn, or even Motel 6.

My historic cross country trip took about a week of full-time driving in a fairly straight line. A drive from Southern California to New York City, on a diagonal line, might take a little more time. Lets say, a week and a half, or three weeks for a round trip as an estimate.

I don't want to worry about where to park when I get on the ship, so I'm going to opt for a rental car. Besides, it's nice not to put the extra mileage on my own car.

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Although most rental cars are traditionally gas fueled, if I can find a good electric car I might give it a try. Charging stations are popping up everywhere. For this little adventure, maybe I'd like to try something new, save on costs and help keep the air cleaner at the same time.

Okay, so let's take a look at how much time I'm going to need for this one-day walk with my dogs at Stonehenge. It's going to be about week and a half (each way) to drive between my location in California and New York City, so that part is three weeks, right? Seven days (each way) from NYC to Southampton, England is two more weeks. So the minimum amount of time I need to do this vacation is five weeks. Just over a month. That is one long vacation, by any measure.

Being as this is a dream vacation, I'm not going to go into the costs. A more realistic mindset would be needed for that, and why wake up from dreamland? It's becoming clear, though, I will want more than a vague dream before I finalize my plans for this vacation. I might also want a little bit of British magic.
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Sage GoddessAccording to gemology expert, Dr. Athena Perrakis of Sage Goddess, rare bluestones from Preseli, Wales were chosen by the ancients when they planned the monumental structure of Stonehenge.

As luck would have it, sample sizes of Preseli bluestones are sometimes available in small quantities at Sage Goddess.

I haven't ordered from Sage Goddess website yet, and having personally experienced spiritual online rituals given by Athena, I feel comfortable with her level of energy and attention. I also like her add-on options, like a custom anointing blend and wire wrapping for crystals to be worn as a pendant.

At the time of the writing of this blog post, Sage Goddess was unfortunately out of stock of the Preseli bluestones. Just in case they are out of stock for awhile, I found a couple of other shops I might want to choose from for my crystal of English magic.

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I haven't shopped at Exquisite Crystals yet, a website which has a little bit more of a size selection for their tumbled Preseli bluestones, with a choice of small, medium or large stones, ranging from 1/4" to 1".

Exquisite Crystals has good online reviews, and specializes in crystals.

Although I don't see an option for having crystals anointed or wire-wrapped, Exquisite Crystals sells incense and smudging materials separately. I may choose to pass my own crystals through scented smoke after receiving them.

And of course there's good old ebay, one of my personal favorite shopping sites to browse. I can find just about anything at ebay, including crystals, crystal jewelry, anointing blends, incense and so much more.

A small selection of Preseli bluestones is very likely to be found listed at ebay. There's always some risk involved with shopping at ebay, of course, because there are so many amateur vendors. I feel it's a good idea to always check the vendor's reputation from their customers' reviews and star ratings before I order anything.

I also like to take a look at the other things the vendor is selling, to see if they specialize in crystals, metaphysical, and the quality of most of the items, or if they have an offsite website where I can check them out easier.
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Even though it may be safer to choose a more obviously commercial vender, many amateur sellers are also very pleasant to shop with, although less predictable. Some have an interestingly eclectic variety of listings, and occasionally surprise with a personal note on a nice card or an unadvertised gift or gift bag.

Sometimes, when a great investment is planned with care, I may choose to risk a much lesser amount in the acquisition of something small that adds to the mystery and mystique of this adventure within a dream, and the dream within this adventure of a lifetime.

To be continued...



Resources

4 Tips for Traveling in ... Your Electric Car | Department of Energy
energy . gov/eere/articles/4-tips-traveling-your-electric-car

How Long Does it Take to Charge an Electric Car? | Pod Point
pod-point . com/landing-pages/how-long-does-it-take-to-charge-an-electric-car

26 Budget Hotel Chains that are Dog-Friendly
barkpost . com/26-hotel-chains-that-are-dog-friendly

Have dog, will travel: Top pet-friendly hotel chains
www . usatoday . com/story/travel/hotels/2014/09/03/pet-dog-friendly-hotel/14972079