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Church in the Mist

Today, I really miss England.

To be fair, I miss it most days, but today I’ve been thinking about our time in Tintagel. The morning after our arrival was cool and foggy (shocking for England, right?), the perfect weather for traipsing through fields to Tintagel Parish Church.

Tintagel Church

Rising Through the Mist

The rising sun burned off the fog as we walked, but the mist clung stubbornly to the church and grounds. We were the only ones around, and can still remember how quiet everything was. Walking up to the the shrouded church was beautiful and eerie, like the veil between worlds had been lifted.

If only every day could be as magical.

 

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Magical Glastonbury

I think Avalon is the most magical place in the world.

No, not Avalon, New Jersey (though, I’ve heard it can be lovely), but the magical, mist shrouded island from the King Arthur mythology. In the legends, Avalon is where King Arthur was taken after he was gravely wounded by Mordred. It is the place where he rests, waiting for the time when the world needs him to come back.  The magical island figures heavily in one of my favorite King Arthur retellings, The Mists of Avalon, where it is home to a group of  Celtic priestesses, including Arthur’s sister, Morgan le Fey. In all stories, it is a place of magic and wonder, protected by mists and mystery.

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The Dude looking at the town from the path to the Tor.

In the late 12th century, monks from Glastonbury in Somerset, England claimed to have found the bones of Arthur and Guinevere. Around that time, Glastonbury and it’s marshlands became associated with the magical Avalon. In some legends, Avalon gave way to Christianity and modern life and simply became Glastonbury, in others both lands exist simultaneously, but on different planes of existence.

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Peeking Through the Mist: Tower of St. Michael on Glastonbury Tor

Either way, the legend of Avalon and Glastonbury and it’s crowning Tor have filled my imagination since childhood. When The Dude and I went to England a few years ago, I knew that we had to go there.

I remember driving up to Glastonbury and seeing in the distance a mist-shrouded peak. I remember my breath catching in my throat when, through the haze, I could just make out the outline of monument on the Tor. I couldn’t believe that it was real and that it was right in front of me.

The town itself is charming and whimsical and absolutely embraces (and capitalizes on!) its mystical heritage and mythology. We stayed at a wonderful B&B (Parsnips; I highly recommend it!) that was a short walk from both the main drag in the town and the Tor. We had delicious and satisfying meals at Hundred Monkeys Cafe and The Who’d a Thought It. We wandered through the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey and saw the (alleged) burial place of Arthur and Guinevere. We even bought some of their famous hard cider home with us!

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Sheep and Goats

And, naturally, we trekked up the spiraling pathway to the Tor. I loved the sheep and goats (the Dude even made a friend) and how quiet everything was. The sun was shining brightly that day, but there was a slight breeze that made the hike comfortable. You could smell grass and clover and earth and poop (lots of sheep and goats, remember); the smells made walking through a legend seem so real, so grounded. I never lost the awe that comes from walking through a place you’ve read about for your whole life, I just felt more connected to it.

England with a Side of Mickey

Prompt: (This is from a few days ago and I’m choosing places, not cites. Rebellion, here I come!) If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?

This is an easy one for me: If I could, I’d want to split my time between England and Disney World. Between both, I have almost everything I want: delicious food, culture, sunny skies, gentle rains, and sandy beaches.

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The Dude whispering in my ear.

Disney is still one of my favorite places; I’m always planning my next trip – even if the planning is only in my head! I love seeing the Castle again for the first time and I love hearing the entrance music as I walk into Epcot. I love how much attention is paid to even the tiniest detail and how it’s almost preternaturally clean. I love the characters and the laughter and that anyone can spontaneously burst into song. I love the magic.

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The cliffs of Tintagel.

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Fallen steps near the cave of Merlin

 

When The Dude and I went to England in 2012, my immediate feeling was one of belonging, of coming home. Sure, parts of it are big, bustling, and expensive, but other parts are lovely and quaint and just breathtaking. I love the history and tradition that is just part of the landscape. I love the diversity of people and places (and foods!) and I love the convention of afternoon tea. Sitting on the cliffs in Tintagel and frolicking in and around Merlin’s Cave made for an almost perfect day.