Thursday through Thursiday, June 9-16—Heat and Humidity

It appears that we’ve entered a period of high heat and humidity, combined to yield a heat index of over a 100° most days. That makes it near impossible to enjoy any outdoor activities, even those involving just a minimum of movement. Oh well, I vowed to remain home most of this summer for the first time in many years despite the temperatures.

On Thursday, June 9, Kay and the girls traveled to North Little Rock for “The Book Club” monthly meeting. Dan Olson and I tripped to Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area just east of Hot Springs Village in an attempt to photograph female Diane Fritillaries, Arkansas’ state butterfly. The males appeared a week or so ago, so we knew the females would soon follow. The sun and heat brought our a number of butterflies, including several species of skippers. Photographs were made of a Horace’s Duskywing, Common Buckeye, Crossline Skipper, Fiery Skipper, and Clouded Skipper.

I was lucky to capture a couple shots of an Eastern Tailed-blue with its wings open—such a little beauty. 

And, a Pipevine Swallowtail sat still long enough to photograph. 

Pipevine Swallowtail

There were a number of male Diane Fritillaries; the few females were difficult to photograph. 

Towards the end of the day’s walk, a couple of females settled long enough for pictures, before a male would pester them away; love was in the air.

A few dragonflies were also moving about.

And finally, a “last of the season” Indian Pink was found in an area of dense vegetation. 

Indian Pink

Friday’s heat kept me in the house most of the day while Kay gave blood for lab work prior to her mid-year medical review.

We both stayed in Saturday morning before leaving shortly after lunch to attend Ridge’s soccer games. He is becoming a very good player, and it’s always fun to watch him play. Photos were taken by Kay.

I awoke Sunday with the beginning of a back ache and is the result of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Surgery in April 2015 significantly helped in relieving the constant, debilitating pain, but about every four to six weeks a back ache arises and lasts a few days. We attended church, and then went to Pam’s to assist with assembly of patio furniture. It was another hot, humid day. A couple of hours at the Diamante pool sure helped for cooling off. Bridge with Jim and Jackie Sunday evening was a hoot; it’s much fun the you win!

The back ache worsened on Monday, forcing cancelation of an afternoon golf game. Just to get out of the house, I drove to the Diamante Pickleball courts, and because there was a shortage of players, agreed to play. Surprisingly it helps the ache. But, a couple of hours after pickleball, the ache returned! Kay opted out of her pickleball games, and watched the “sedition” hearings, followed by a long visit to the manicurist.

As expected, the back ache continued Tuesday, but I participated in the church group golf scramble anyway. Of course our team came in dead last, but we had a good time. Kay had her semi-annual medical visit, only to find out she’s in great health!

Kay was up BEFORE the crack of dawn on Wednesday, as she was the “cart barn starter” for the Hot Springs Village Women’s Duffers golf group. That lady gives a lot more than she gets, but enjoys the action and people; she practically knows everyone in Hot Springs Village. I played pickleball with the Diamante group. There are about eight to ten regulars that play, and the competition is very strong regardless of the team makeups. Most games are decided by only a few points. It is really enjoyable to play with them. And, the back ache continues.

Plans to help with repair of the pickleball courts Thursday morning were disrupted by several problems with our sprinkler system; a leak, stopped up filters, and blown heads. One of the four areas was completely repaired while work was begun on the other three. We had dinner with Morris’s at Cajun Boilers in Hot Springs. Though the service was great, but all of us were disappointed with the food; Cajun Boilers used to be a really good restaurant. And, by the way the backache is slowly going away.

Friday through Wednesday, June 3-8, 2022—Between the Storms

“Between the Storms” sounds like a country or gospel song title, but it’s our weather reality. Those of you who live in Arkansas know I speak the truth!

On Friday, Kay and I ventured to Costco in West Little Rock, our first trip there in about a month! Buying gasoline and have my hearing aids serviced are two things we always do when shopping there. Regrettably, there are few sampling stations with food on which to nibble. I ventured out to Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area in hopes of finding Diana Fritillaries, Arkansas’ state butterfly, fluttering about. It’s always a time of the year to which I look forward. A few males were active, nectaring on the Monarda, commonly known as Bee Balm; no females were observed.

With warm temperatures and sunshine, and the absence of rain, other butterflies were nectaring.

Several dragonflies landed and remained still long enough for their photo to be made.

And surprisingly, the wildflowers were spectacular.

Saturday was relatively quiet. Pam joined Kay and me at the Diamante swimming pool for a bit of sun; the water is still too cold for immersion.

On Sunday, Kay, Pam, and a couple of other ladies flew to south Mississippi to spend a few days relaxing at Beau Rivage. Gambling, eating, and sunbathing were the main items on their agenda. With Kay absent, it sure was quiet around the house—“just sayin.”

Because of rain, I stayed in the house on Monday and Tuesday working on photo organization and edits, and beginning an online, in-depth course in Photoshop. In that last regard, it seems like I have to play each video two or three times before some of the lesson(s) soaks in. And, I’ve begun a diet as I NEED/WANT to lose weight and get healthier; it’s not easy!

Kay returned home to storms and heavy rain on Wednesday, saying that the commute from the airport to Hot Springs Village was frightening with the intensity of rain and roadway water. Our Wednesday afternoon pickleball games were cancelled once again because of the rain.

Saturday through Thursday, May 28-June 2, 2022—Social Butterflies and More

Memorial Day weekend proved to be a quiet one for the most part. Saturday, we worked in the “yard” a little bit, and then hung out at the pool at Diamante Country Club. After that, we both read, and then watched British crime dramas.

On Sunday, Karyn, Matt, and kids came to visit. Ridge immediately jumped on his kayak and paddled in the lake. Aker and I got in another kayak and joined him. The kayaking was short lived when Aker thought wasps were chasing us; it was a few Eastern Amberwing dragonflies. Convincing her that they were harmless was not in the cards. The Adams’ joined friends at Lake Balboa for afternoon boating and playing in the sand. 

Monday, Karyn, Ridge, Aker, Kay, and I played pickleball at Diamante. After practicing for about half an hour, all of us except Aker joined other pickleballers in a few competitive matches. Karyn and Ridge did great.

After pickleball, they packed up and returned home. The back of our lot near the lake provided a number of damselflies and dragonflies to photograph, with a preponderance of Blue Dasher dragonflies.

To say that Tuesday was a quiet day would be an understatement. Two significant things happened. First, we spotted an unusual moth on the deck, and second, Kay played ladies’ pickleball with her Tuesday group. I “piddled” in the yard, and read. See, I told you it was a quiet day!

Wednesday began a new month; they seem to be whizzing by. Kay play golf with the Lady Duffers as usual, and I finally made it to the Diamante pickleball court after a long absence due to weather related wet courts. We were scheduled to play pickleball with the Paddle Wheelers (winter Arizona group and friends), but it began raining just as we arrived at the Hot Springs Village Courts. The downpour continued for the next hour or so, preventing our playing. We “adjourned” to the Mexican restaurant for drinks and dinner.

Thursday, I played pickleball. Kay and I attended her PEO group party, and visited with a lot of folks from church.

Weather in Hot Springs Village has prevented much in the way of outdoor sports. It has rained frequently, the golf courses are wet, and the pickleball courts are slick and unsafe most of the time. When a break in the weather allows some photography, it is typically so humid that my clothes are soaking wet after only an hour or so. We’re sure glad that there is no climate change or global warming; what would we do then!

Wednesday through Friday, May 25-27, 2022—Time for Mid-Year Medical Appointments

Because we spend winters away from “home” in Hot Springs Village, we schedule medical appointments in late May and early June, and again in late November and early December. By stacking them together like this, they do not interfere too much with other activities like travel, golf, pickleball, etc. More about this later.

On Wednesday, it was again too wet for golf. Kay and Pam collected Hostas in North Little Rock and strawberries from Holland Bottoms (near Cabot, Arkansas.) The deck beckoned to me in the afternoon; there were a pair of Summer Tanagers I wanted to photograph. They didn’t show up, but a couple of birds landed in nearby trees, and both were experiencing bad hair days—I can sympathize.

With light wind, I decided to check out the lake side of our place. There were Slender Bluet damselflies seemingly everywhere. 

A few more regular dragonflies were observed.

There were also dragonflies not previously observed here in the “backyard.” Two beautiful Pennants were photographed: a Banded Pennant and a Calico Pennant.

A Least Skipper appears on one the sea wall rocks and opened up for a photograph. The Least Skipper is tiny, about the size of one’s little finger fingernail. 

Least Skipper

We ate the dinner special at Raffaella Rose at the Cortez Golf Course. The food was good, but the music was so loud that we moved to an outside table; I didn’t even have hearing aids in at a the time.

Thursday was a busy day for the both of us. Kay worked tremendously hard removing gravel from between the hot tub and patio, and planting Hostas—back breaking work! I met with the cardiologist and got a good report. And then it was to the Honda dealership for a key and programming of a key fob (almost $300). And then it was off to Walmart for a few items. And then, finally, I bought gasoline at Sam’s Club and picked up some junk food, one of the important food groups!

Kay and I switched places on Friday, as she had her yearly visit with the pulmonologist NP, and then grocery shopping. Meanwhile, I removed the rest of the gravel and plastic ground sheet from the work area, and planted the remaining Hostas. There was some hickory left over from a broken tree, and I cut it up into pieces for the Big Green Egg. Finally, tools were cleaned and stored, the patio was cleaned, and the plants were watered. Kay then played golf in the afternoon, and I shot a few photographs of damselflies and dragonflies.

Friday to Tuesday, May 20-24, 2022—More Rain and Wet Conditions

All the plants in the area are green, and the forests are lush. We have been beset with rain every few days, enough that the ground has not dried out. Consequently, the fairways are wet and most have been cart path only, and the pickleball courts are wet from precipitation or seepage through cracks in the surface. Kay did get in some practice on Friday, May 20, with Pickleball Sisters. Pickleball Sisters exists to equip families, instructors and facilities with tools to plan, build, and develop successful programs everywhere. Kay had a great time and a good practice.

Despite the wind, Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area offered up some wildflowers, and quite a few butterflies. Indian Pink is still blooming, and a couple of Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus blooms were found. The Pale Purple Coneflowers were just beginning to bloom; while they are lanky and droopy, they are still attractive flowers. And despite its name, Wild Garlic is dainty and beautiful! 

Indian Pink
Prickly Pear Cactus
Pale Purple Cone Flower
Fiery Skipper on Wild Garlic

There were other wildflowers in near perfect bloom.

Last year, the Fiery Skipper was absent in large numbers in the areas I visited, but they were in abundance at the Middle Fork Barrens this day.

In addition, other skippers were present.

An Eastern Tailed-blue, Pearl Crescent, and Hackberry Emperor flitted about, but posed long enough for quick photos. 

Even a Gray Petaltail dragonfly and a Powdered Dancer damselfly presented themselves.

Our plans on Saturday included a visit to watch granddaughter Harper dance in a recital, but the pool darling had been and remained sick, not only missing the recital but also awards day at school; poor thing. Sunday was a quiet day, except for our attending church; weather was unsatisfactory, and heavy rains prevented golf from being played Monday. Kay did take Ridge and Aker to the movie on this, their first day of summer break. I did play golf on Tuesday with our church mens’ group, despite a light rain and mist the whole game. Kay had scheduled pickleball, but remained home to take care of an electrician visit and termite inspection. Conditions proved too wet for pickleball. A cut and color followed in the afternoon.

Wednesday through Thursday, May 11-19, 2022—Leisure Sickness

Despite testing negative for COVID on the day before, I began to experience a scratchy throat, coughing, and sneezing on the return flight back to the US. I almost always get “sick” during Christmas holidays or extended travel. Apparently, this is known as “leisure sickness”, a term coined by Ad Vingerhoets, a psychologist in the Netherlands. Leisure sickness is the result of significant changes in the levels of adrenaline, a hormone that’s a crucial part of our fight-or-flight response. In an article in Conde Nast Traveler  (February 2, 2017), Vingerhoets say, “The engine is kept running and new energy is constantly produced.” “This ‘useless’ energy may result in an imbalance in the body, resulting, among other things, in a weakened immune system, which may imply that one is more vulnerable to infectious disease.” Combined with allergic reactions to the high UK pollen count, I succumbed to the common virus. And to make matters worse, did I report that we came home to 90° plus weather; insane!

Nevertheless, we immediately began our busy routine in Hot Springs Village. Kay worked parts of Wednesday through Saturday assisting with our church’s United Methodist Women’s Bake and Garage Sale, a huge event. In addition she played lots of pickleball and golf. I played pickleball on Wednesday afternoon, exacerbating the virus. I rested on Thursday, but went to nearby Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area to do some photography Friday morning.

The first wildflower photographed was the common Selfheal herb.

Selfheal herb

The Selfheal herb has been used medicinally for centuries. In fact, the entire plant, which is edible, can be used both internally and externally to treat a number of health complaints and wounds. The parts that grow above the ground are used to make medicine. It is used for inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), diarrhea, colic, and stomach upset and irritation (gastroenteritis). It is also used for mouth and throat ulcers, sore throat, and internal bleeding. The plant’s most common use is for the treatment of cold sores.

Some people use self-heal for HIV/AIDS, fever, headache, dizziness, liver disease, and spasm. It is also used to kill germs (as an antiseptic), loosen phlegm (as an expectorant), and tighten and dry skin (as an astringent). Self-heal is applied directly to the skin for vaginal discharges and other disorders of women’s reproductive systems, as well as for wounds and bruises. It is a favorite of bumblebees and butterflies, and is the larval host of the Clouded Sulphur butterfly.

Summer Tanager

The Summer Tanager shown above landed in a nearby tree just as my walk began. We have a pair actively feeding on a suet block at the house.

Some of my favorite wildflower blooms were observed—their colors were sometimes subtle like Blue Star and the Plains Larkspur, while the red and yellow Indian Pink stood out among the otherwise green ground cover.

Even a few butterflies landed long enough for a photograph.

Appearance of the Bee Balm (Minarda) indicates that the rare Diana Fritillary butterfly is not far behind.

Bee Balm

After only an hour afield, I returned home and went to bed.

Of course the cold was worsening, and reached its peak Saturday. In as much as it took five days to mature, it would likely take five days to wane. I returned to golf on Monday, albeit shooting a poor round.

The pollen “season” here in Arkansas leaves outdoor spaces and furniture covered with a dusty layer of yellow green powder. It has become an annual routine that virtually everything outside has to be power washed, and we generally try to clean before Memorial Day weekend. Tuesday, after Kay’s pickleball games, the power washer was connected to hose and power supply, and deck furniture moved. Kay and I made quick work of it, taking turns with the wand, and then using the blower to assist in drying.

Kay played golf Wednesday morning, and had some laser work done on her eyes in the afternoon. I played pickleball three hours plus at Diamante in the morning, and with three other hardy souls in the afternoon at the HSV pickleball courts in the high heat and humidity.  The Book Club met Thursday, and while Kay was away, I slept most of day, recovering from the cold and from too much pickleball!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022—Thoughts on Bus Touring, the UK, and Flying Home

Visiting the UK and Ireland has been on our bucket list for some time. Regrettably this trip did not include Ireland, nor much of Scotland and Wales. When originally scheduled, our trip via CIE Tours was much more inclusive, and for a total of 28 days. And then, COVID struck, and it was postponed a couple of times, and then entirely cancelled, leaving us with few options since our sizable deposits were at risk, and since CIE Tours converted our plane tickets to cover the remaining costs, without our knowing! Fortunately, we chose the 10-day trip rather than two back to back lengthy tours. 

We were generally all smiles

Our tour manager, Harry Gray, was really good, as was the driver, Dennis. Other guides along the way were good as well. Dennis kept the bus clean and comfortable. The hotel accommodations were good, but not great. The food provided as part of the tour was good. We visited a large number of important places and saw enough castles to do us the rest of our lives. In fact, the tour kept us so busy that there was hardly time to rest at night before sleeping. We only stayed in two hotels for more than one night, meaning our luggage would have to be outside the room at 7 AM every day but two, in order for us to leave at 8 AM — a little too frantic for us. There were a few acceptable snafus, like the out-of-date Toot Bus tickets. But the tardiness of the pick-up driver from the airport to the hotel, and the total failure of our pick-up from the hotel to the airport to catch our plane home were unacceptable, causing unwanted and unnecessary stress. Neither of us have a desire to do a bus trip again, and we wouldn’t use CIE Tours again, either. We’ll stick to river and ocean cruises for international travel, and auto and RV trips for domestic travel.

On the road, again—via bus

There were many positive things about the UK. The people were genuine, friendly, and helpful. It is a “proper” society, and certainly not flamboyant like some places in the US. Dress was informal and casual, and there were no provocative pants, shorts, tops, etc. The food was good, and I liked the baked beans for breakfast every morning, though Kay did not. The “fried” eggs were from free range chickens, the sausages were less fat than we’re used to, and there is little to no artificial sweeteners available. We both liked the cream tea (tea with scones, jam, and butter cream); in fact we drank hot tea several times a day, but didn’t drink any diet sodas. The fish and chips were good, but we tired of them. We ate sufficiently that snacking was not necessary. We both liked the Guinness draft beer by the pint, and the gin and tonics were good as well. Surprisingly, Beefeaters gin was not available most places, while Bombay Sapphire seemed to be the preferred gin. We saw few obese people, perhaps because people in the UK seemed to walk everywhere. Prices were reasonable, though it did take some getting used to the pound sterling currency. Cash WAS NOT accepted in quite a few places. Credit cards were scanned by the user; we liked that.

On the negative side was the pollen; nearly everyone in our group coughed, sneezed, and gagged the whole time due to pollen; we did not expect that.

Our flights to and from the UK were on time. Before we flew home, the US required us to have a negative COVID test the day before traveling. That proved to be fairly easy as the English pharmacy accommodated us efficiently. On the flight over, the seat space was tight, especially for a big man like me. In fact, seat space seems to get smaller each time we fly, with little room to move. The flight home was definitely better than the flight over, perhaps to the quality and timeliness of their feeding us, and the fact that we were flight east to west. And, it seemed that the seats had a bit more room. The last few times we’ve flown internationally we ask ourselves afterward how much longer we can continue. We definitely think it’s time to upgrade seats for long flights should we take any more.

After 8-1/2 hours flying

And lastly, thank you Dan for picking us up at the Little Rock airport at 9:30 PM. We are very grateful.

Monday, May 9, 2022—London’s Top Attractions via Toot Bus

Sunday was “on our own” for independent sightseeing. CIE Tours provided each of us with a ticket for the Tootbus. We caught the “Underground” to Marble Arch, and after a brief walk caught the Tootbus. Regrettably, the ticket had expired 30 days ago; a CIE Tours faux pas! However, Tootbus gave us credit and we hopped onboard the open-top double-decker buses with a recorded commentary in English and several other languages which can be listened to with headphones.

Kay sightseeing from the Toot Bus

We “explored” London’s famous sites including the Marble Arch, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, 10 Downing Street, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards, Tower Bridge, and many more. 

Centrally located in London, the Coca Cola London Eye can be termed as the heart of the city. It rotates gracefully over the River Thames, opposite the Houses of the Parliament and Big Ben.

London Eye

A historically relevant 1000-year old World Heritage Site, Westminster Abbey in the City of Westminster is one of London’s most regal and noteworthy religious churches. Located along the western bank of the River Thames, it is known for having hosted coronations, weddings, and for being a burial site for the English and British monarchs back in the day.

Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the striking clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, England, and the name is frequently extended to refer also to the clock and the clock tower.

Buckingham Palace is a London royal residence and the administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the center of state occasions and royal hospitality. Regrettably, we couldn’t get anywhere near the palace.

A central and prime location in the city, Trafalgar Square is located in the city of Westminster and is a public square with many cultural spaces, museums and galleries around the square. Distances to other places are measured from Trafalgar Square, which was initially designed by famous architect John Nash in the 1820s.

Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, built between 1886 and 1894, designed by Horace Jones and engineered by John Wolfe Barry with the help of Henry Marc Brunel.  Tower Bridge is famous because it’s London’s most striking bridge thanks to its Neo-Gothic architecture and lifting central sections. When it opened, it was the most sophisticated bascule bridge in the world.

The heavily guarded 10 Downing Street, also known colloquially in the United Kingdom as Number 10, is the official residence and executive office of the First Lord of the Treasury, usually also the Primer Minister of the United Kingdom. Along with the adjoining Cabinet Office at 70 Whitehall, it is the headquarters of the governments of the United Kingdom.

Whitehall is a road and area in the City of Westminster, Central London. The road forms the first part of the road from Trafalgar Square to Chelsea. It is the main thoroughfare running south from Trafalgar Square towards Parliament Square. The street is recognized as the center of Parliament Square, thus the center of Government of the United Kingdom. It is lined with numerous departments and ministries, including Ministry of “Defence,” Horse Guards, and the Cabinet Office.

A couple other photos are shown below of our London sightseeing.

Sunday, May 8, 2022—London via Bus and Tower of London

The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which is separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was also used as a prison from 1100 until 1952, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under kings Richard I, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.

The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times, and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public record office, and best known as the home of the Crown Jewels of England (no photographs allowed) and a prison.

In the Middle Ages the Tower of London became a prison and place of execution for politically related crimes, with most captives being put to death on Tower Green or, outside the castle, in public on Tower Hill. Prisoners were generally brought in via the Traitor’s Gate, transported by barge along the Thames, and passing under London Bridge, where the heads of recently executed prisoners were displayed on spikes. Among those killed there were Sir Simon Burley, an adviser and tutor of Richard II; the statesman Edmund Dudley (1510); the humanist Sir Thomas More (1535); the second wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn (1536); Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley (1554); and the 11th Lord Lovat, Simon Fraser (1747), who was a Scottish Jacobite leader. During World War I several spies were executed there by firing squad. Other notable inmates included Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I), who was briefly imprisoned by Mary I for suspicion of conspiracy; the soldier and conspirator Guy Fawkes; the adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh; and Sir Roger Casement, who was arrested for treason during World War I. In 1483 the adolescent king Edward V and his younger brother were last seen in the Tower before their disappearance and probable murder (great show on PBS about their plight, Lucy Worsley Investigates, Princes in the Tower).

A military garrison is maintained within the Tower.

There is a resident governor, who occupies the 16th-century Queen’s House on Tower Green and is in charge of the yeoman warders, or “beefeaters,” as they are popularly called. They still wear a Tudor uniform and live within the Tower, and their responsibilities include guiding tours for the Tower’s two million to three million annual visitors.

Ravens with clipped wings are kept on the grounds by the yeoman ravenmaster; a tradition dating from the time of King Charles II (reigned 1660–85) states that, should the ravens leave the Tower, the fortification and the state would fall. By the Tower is Tower Bridge (1894), the only central-city bridge across the Thames below London Bridge. The fortress was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988.

Saturday, May 7, 2022—Part II, Stonehenge

From Bath, our travels took us through the English countryside with it slightly rolling hills, grazing sheep and cattle, and rape seed fields shining golden in the green landscape.

We arrived in Stonehenge about mid-afternoon. We were told to be underwhelmed: it was a bunch of big rocks in a field. However, we were quite impressed. The experience was amazing and interesting, and left us wanting to see more.

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wilshire, England. It consists of an outer ring of vertical sarsen standing stones, each about 13 feet high, seven feet wide, and weighing around 25 tons, topped by connecting horizontal lintel stones. Inside is a ring of smaller bluestones. Inside these are free-standing trilithons, two bulkier vertical Sarsens joined by one lintel. The following photos are from a complete walk around the ancient monument.

The whole monument, now ruinous, is aligned towards the sunrise on the summer solstice.

What is really intriguing is that Stonehenge is only one of many monuments in the complex, i.e. the stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the densest complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. Stonehenge was the only one we visited.

Archaeologists believe that Stonehenge was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. It is one of the most famous landmarks in the United Kingdom, if not the entire world. The site and its surroundings were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986.