Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Welands Smithy

Went to Welands Smithy at the weekend when the best friend was in town. It's just near the Uffington White Horse and boy did we get a good day for it. We had a bit of a lazy morning on Saturday and then gently clambered out of the pyjamas and in to real clothes. We pottered down to Abingdon where we went crazy in Masons and bought much, much wool. And then we pottered further and went to see the white horse, the iron age castle and this, Welands Smithy. We had been meaning to go for ages and ages and after a long wait ended up the perfect day. We had hot soup for lunch followed by a stroll along a country lane in beaming sunshine. The path winds between grain fields and its lovely and quiet. There where blackberries lining the path, millions of pretty coloured snails everywhere and twitty birds a bob-bob-bobbing. Welands Smithy itself was nice and cool as it has these beautiful big trees surrounding it. We got the place to ourselves for most of the time. The atmosphere is a bit meditative. It's quiet, cool and enclosed- really all it need was a little babbling brook or well spring and it would have been idyllic. Instead I found the biggest snail I had ever seen in my life. It was truly massive and looked to have been years old. I was so impressed that I had to carry it round for a bit and looking at it every now and again to reassure myself that it was real. The best friend took good pictures including the one above and this one which is of my
favourite rock from the place. What you can't see in the picture are the little snails hiding out in the holes or the woodlouse who has left his bum poking out (heads in the dark so therefore it's safe!). I tried counting them all but I kept getting lost- the rock is full of little pit holes. I think it must have been lying on the ground for a bit and been dripped on at some point. Much of the Smithy has been reconstructed so it's quite possible. The one bad thing about the place was that there was nothing to explain it's name. I only know because we had looked it up via references in books by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. For those of you who want to know more then you can get a bit of info from here (though the name is spelt differently it is the same place) and here. The charm of the place is that there is an old 'myth' associated with it that a Nordic god going by the name of Wayland (also spelt Weland) once worked a smithy there and if you left a bit of money (a groat I believe it was supposed to be) and your horse there overnight then upon your return in the morning you would find your money gone and your horse re-shod. We had no groat or horse with which to test this hypothesis but someone had left 20p in a hole and I moved a snail so you never know- there may well be a snail clanging its way around the place now.
On the way back we picked a big handful of Sloes for gin purposes and then visited the horse and the fort. I think the horse is definitely one of those things best admired from a distance- it just looks like wobbly lines up close. After all this excitement we made our way back home, stopping only momentarily to chase some partridges down the road with the car. Somewhere there is amusing footage of this incidence. We eventually crawled back into house once it was dark and then curled up on the sofas and purred when the husband bought us hot chocolate. I think it fair to say that a good time was had by all.

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