pH testing introduced at Glastonbury Tor

pH test sheetFear over the impact of acid rain has led to the introduction of random pH tests on visitors to Glastonbury Tor – the spot-checks tell whether they are acidic, alkaline or pH neutral.

This marks a return to interest in old fashioned environmental concerns that are increasingly set aside in a world more interested in global warming and that Fukushima thing. But it also comes on top of the new nimbleness assessment that visitors have to pass in order to climb to St. Michael’s Tower at the top of Glastonbury Tor.

Not all visitors are given a pH test as this would take too long, but the testing area has already proved to have a deterrent value, leading to an unusually high number of sherbet lemon sweets being discarded in local car parks.

If visitors are found to be excessively acidic when they are tested then a range of measures are then offered to bring them back to pH neutrality, including a quick wash-down with Neutralia pH neutral shampoo, or in some cases the simple offer of a Rennie indigestion tablet.

Titania Bonham-Smythe, Chief Gatekeeper at Glastonbury Tor is quick to reassure visitors:

“After a while you start to be able to tell which are the more acidic visitors. In some cases it’s when people don’t meet your eye as they walk through the testing station. And if people are rubbing their chest and coughing that’s often a sign they are suffering acid indigestion – it’s the little things that give them away – people with something to hide. Sometimes you just strike lucky. I recently stopped a gentleman, rubbed his forehead with my pH testing swab and could immediately tell that he worked in a Duracell factory – the readings went through the roof! He claimed to be doing us a favour, saying he was going to roll around on the grass and make it have a pH value of 7, but you know it doesn’t work that way – first you let the alkaline battery manufacturers in, then it’s the vinegar distillers, and where does it end?”

“But the fact is, most visitors have nothing to worry about – as long as they are willing to submit to our rigorous regime of pH neutrality they are perfectly welcome to do whatever they want on the tor. Oh, and they will need to keep off the grass, the garlic and large sections of the ancient path that was installed by King Arthur and his merry men.”

Wombles banned from Glastonbury Tor

The sort of violent confrontation between a drug-fuelled Womble and a Somerset Strangler that authorities are trying to avoidConcern has been mounting over The Wombles’ forthcoming appearance at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival.

But it’s not just Michael Eavis worrying about the weird juxtaposition of Remember You’re A Womble blasting out to festival goers more atuned to Beyoncé and U2.

Following the recent EU warning issued to the French government about their flagrant disregard for wild Alsace hamsters, officials have defiantly stepped in to protect the wild hamsters that roam over Glastonbury Tor – known locally as Somerset Stranglers – they are banning supergroup The Wombles entry to this ancient mountain.

Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor offered an explanation:

“The ecosystem on Glastonbury Tor is very delicate.  For hundreds of years these delightful but vicious wild hamsters have made their burrows on Glastonbury Tor and it is important that we demonstrate to the European Union our active support of rare species.  We really don’t want to get caught up in the French fiasco where they seem to show a heartless disregard for the Great Hamsters of Alsace.”

“Our worry is that The Wombles are renowned for their drug-fuelled rampages.  While on stage they are the very image of sobriety and family-friendliness – but the moment they get off stage it’s a different story.  Can you imagine what it would be like if they were allowed onto Glastonbury Tor in that state?  It’s anyone’s guess what would happen if one of the many Somerset Stranglers, on their daily trek to forage for cotton wool, were to be confronted by a six foot tall wild-eyed rodent, high on drugs and hell-bent on litter-picking – the last thing we want is a pitched battle between Wombles and hamsters.  It would be Mods and Rockers all over again.”

A day without signs on Glastonbury Tor

Dog confused by temporary absence of Keep Off The Grass and Keep Off The Path signs on Glastonbury TorVisitors to Glastonbury Tor were disoriented today by the complete absence of hundreds of Keep Off The Grass and Keep Off The Path signs.

Dozens of workers had spent hours overnight removing the old signs in preparation for new multilingual signs that conform to EU regulations. The new signs became necessary when Glastonbury Tor was granted mountain status earlier this year as a result of growing to over 190 metres tall.

European regulations for health and safety on mountains are much more stringent, including the requirement that safety messages must be repeated in French, Swedish and Luxembourgish – the international language of mountaineers.

Fearing some kind of bureaucratic trick, early visitors milled around the nimbleness assessment area at the base of the tor, but as numbers grew some braver visitors started to tentatively attempt to climb the summit.

It was many hours before the first visitor arrived at St. Michael’s Tower, a fact that observers put down to the lack of signs indicating which way to walk. It wasn’t just new visitors who were confused – members of the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union were also unable to decide which way to walk to get to the summit, leading many to question whether their position at the top of the Pilgrims League is really as firm as had been believed.

Chief mystical consultant Uther Henge stationed permanently at the gift shop at Glastonbury Tor spoke on behalf of the National Trust; “We expect everything to be back to normal this week as we begin the major task of restoring the signage on Glastonbury Tor. With more than a thousand signs to go up this is obviously a major task so visitors should expect some disruption. But during this time we have several specially trained staff members on hand to help people find the summit.  They will have plenty of copies of our leaflet Which Way Is Up?”

Many people have asked what will happen to the old single-language signs in the hope that they may be sold in the gift shop, but we understand that they are to be reassigned to non-mountainous National Trust properties.

Toast-making display is too realistic say Glastonbury mothers

Basic safety equipment for use in the construction of Welsh Rarebit.  Avoid Mozzarella cheese.You may wonder what could possibly be more family friendly than a display that charts the history of toast through the ages?

Since February 2011 Uther Henge has been thrilling visitors to St. Michael’s Tower on top of Glastonbury Tor with his lecture Toast, the Tor, Past Present and Future that leads visitors through the historical artefacts on display – a variety of gas and electrical toasters that have been used since 1912, and includes advice on modern toast-making techniques.

But it appears that mothers are reporting that their children are distressed by the section dealing with mystical foodstuffs.

Jenny from Glastonbury said; “The display is very informative. At last I understand why toast is depicted in the Glastonbury coat of arms. And since I learned the Uther Henge Flip I’ve enjoyed evenly browned toast every day. But while I was enjoying the lecture I hadn’t realised my son was looking at the interactive display that explains the mystical qualities of Welsh Rarebit. He hasn’t slept since, and panics every time I go near the grill.”

Uther Henge has promised to remove the Welsh Rarebit display until it can be made more family friendly, explaining; “Really this display was aimed more at people who want to be students in the mystical food science department of the Mystical University of Glastonbury, so it focuses heavily on kitchen safety. The interactive display shows what can happen if you mistakenly include Mozzarella in your cheese mix – it can give your Welsh Rarebit qualities similar to napalm. We now realise that the scenes showing kitchen staff dousing one of their colleagues with fire extinguishers may not be suitable for all audiences.”

Monkey to head Glastonbury space project team in 2012

Jeremy the pig tailed macaque preparing for the 2012 Glastonbury Space ProgramScientists from the aeronautics department of the Mystical University of Glastonbury announced today that a human is unlikely to be launched into space next year on the maiden voyage of the new Astral class rocket. The rocket will launch from the Summerland Meadows in full view of an audience on Glastonbury Tor.

Instead of a human payload, Jeremy, a pig-tailed macaque trained since birth to step in as backup will head the space flight – the opportunity of a lifetime for this proud monkey. Monkeys are very popular on space flights because they respond well in an emergency, and with just a little adjustment can wear clothing that has been designed for humans.

Speaking through a translator, Jeremy was keen to let his audience know how happy he is; “I am very happy… this is a great honour and I am very proud… we have been training a lot… our diet of Kelloggs Fruit ‘n Fibre cereal, fresh fruit and Waitrose vegetarian lasagna has been particularly enjoyable.” These last comments were achieved by pointing to the sponsor logos on his jumpsuit and screaming excitedly.

Although many students at the Mystical University of Glastonbury have been training extensively in the hope of a place in the first UK manned space launch, there are now several sad faces. Chief Rocket Engineer Gordon McStevens explained why the university has made this tough decision; “The Mystical University of Glastonbury has the highest level of fees of any university in England because of the huge cost of the Astral space program. But recently other departments have started to become jealous of our share of the budget. The decision was taken this week to install a new oven in the Food Science department, and the money had to come from somewhere.”

Tarquin Bonham-Smythe, a student who until now was expected to participate on the space flight could not hide his disappointment; “I’m actually studying mystical food science here at the university so I shouldn’t complain, but I was hoping to take a place on the 2012 space launch. Obviously Jeremy is a great guy, very popular with the students and we all wish him the best of luck.”

Super Jupiter may pose gravity risk

Effect of Super Jupiter on Glastonbury TorScientists at Glastonbury Observatory are warning that Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, will pass unusually close to the earth later this year – the closest it has been in the last 500 years.  And this is particularly important for Glastonbury Tor as it is the highest geographical feature in South West England.

This news comes hot on the tails of the recent supermoon and supersun in 2011, both of which posed their own set of risks to visitors at Glastonbury Tor, while delighting those visitors who are keen on extreme sports.

Kirsten Denier from Glastonbury Observatory is keen to make visitors to the tor aware of the special risks posed by Super Jupiter; “All of the planets go around the sun in a different elliptical orbit and there are times when some get unusually close to each other.  Obviously this is all completely normal and has been going on for thousands of years without a hitch.  But according to our calculations, later this year when Jupiter flies very close to Somerset a number of things will happen that people need to consider.  Anyone with binoculars will have a great time because you will be able to make out details on the surface of Jupiter and its moons that would normally be invisible to all but the most powerful telescope.”

But Denier continued; “However, we anticipate that because Jupiter is so big it will exert a gravitational pull that will make everything in Somerset about 5% lighter.  This might not sound like much, but for visitors to Glastonbury Tor who are that much closer the effect is even stronger.  If you are planning on pitching a tent on Glastonbury Tor you should consider using twice as many tent pegs, and if you bring a child you should hold its hand firmly while standing on the peak.”

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor might consider weighing themselves down with Kendal Mint Cake, which is available in 10kg bars at the gift shop.

What is under Glastonbury Tor?

What is under Glastonbury Tor?This seemingly simple question has mystified people for over a hundred years – what is beneath Glastonbury Tor?

The simple answer is that it depends on just how far down you want to go.

The surface of Glastonbury Tor is covered mainly by grass, with the exception of the paved walkway that was installed by King Arthur, and the half acre test area of garlic and vines that has been planted by Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers as part of their tor takeover plans.

But below this seemingly prosaic surface is where it gets interesting!

Between 0 and 15cm below the surface – geologists call this the Strangularis Plateau

On Glastonbury Tor the upper topsoil layer is riddled with wild hamster burrows since they went rampant in the 1970’s. This breed known locally as Somerset Stranglers have such contradictory qualities that the National Trust has consistently been unable to take the decisive action of a cull. This isn’t helped by the large number of local protest groups, some in favour of reducing the hamster population, and some – such as the Strangler Preservation Society – who aggressively defend hamster rights.

Although the burrows are too small for a human foot to get trapped in, they are a risk to dog paws, which is one of the reasons for the hundreds of Keep Off The Grass signs on Glastonbury Tor.

Between 15cm and 30cm below the surface – geologists call this the Mud Layer

Although they have very sharp claws for fighting, the hamsters that are native to Glastonbury Tor have adorably weak forearms and can not dig very deep. This means the lower area of topsoil is undisturbed, and is mainly composed of spoilings from the tunnel excavations at the now disused St. Michael’s Prison.

Between 30cm and 100cm below the surface – geologists call this the Paving Layer

The recent geophysics scan commissioned by Glastonbury Archaeology Society revealed that King Arthur and his merry men actually paved the whole of Glastonbury Tor in ancient times but local residents gradually took and used these slabs to make patios in their back gardens.

Between 100cm and 200cm below the surface – geologists call this the 42 Layer

The biggest 42 in the world is believed to be below the surface of Glastonbury Tor, revealed by two consecutive geophysics scans. It is formed from protrusions of iron from the core of Glastonbury Tor.

Between 200cm and the centre of the earth

The majority of the majestic mount that people see when they visit Glastonbury is made of solid iron – a huge geological anomaly that weighs as much as the moon, but is much more compact and convenient. This explains why metal detectors do not work properly within a two mile radius of Glastonbury Tor.

Tunnels beneath Glastonbury Tor

Legend has it that Glastonbury Tor is riddled with a hidden labyrinth of tunnels – a maze haunted by the ghosts of untold numbers of monks and druids who got lost attempting to find their way from the tor to Glastonbury Abbey, or the Glastonbury Druidic Headquarters. No evidence has ever been found of these tunnels. The only tunnel known to exist was that created by prisoners at St. Michael’s Prison that was cut short just before reaching Castle Cary train station.

Are dogs allowed at Glastonbury Tor?

The most common question that people ask when they are considering a visit to Glastonbury Tor is “are dogs allowed?”

Surprisingly, it’s not just dog owners who ask this question, but also owners of other pets who are considering a visit and want to know if they will be welcomed.

The answer is simple – under certain conditions, most breeds of dog are welcome to visit the tor, and subject to passing a simple evaluation test may also be able to join the queue to use one of the many dog trolleys that are provided for pets that may otherwise struggle to make it all the way to the top.

There is a very simple weeding-out process that enables the quality of animal visitors to be kept high, and make sure everyone enjoys the view from the top of the tor without ruining it for anyone else. Your pet just has to pass the following simple tests in order to be awarded a yellow wrist-band that allows them entry to the tor for up to a week:

  1. Is this pet visiting the tor of its own free will? Most animals appear bouncy and happy at the prospect of scaling Glastonbury Tor, but any animal that looks sullen, grumpy, or pulls in the wrong direction on its lead may be referred to the resident animal psychologist for evaluation before being allowed onto the tor. The psychologist’s decision is final, although you do have the right to appeal to the Glastonbury Vets Ombudsman.
  2. Is this a Shih-Tzu that has been disguised as a more butch breed of dog? Any attempt to pass a Shih-Tzu off as anything other than a cat could cause it to be banned from the tor for up to six weeks.
  3. Is this a Somerset Strangler that is being repatriated by someone who did not realise what bad pets they make? There are official channels for repatriation. Sneaking one of these potentially deadly hamsters through the Nothing To Declare channel could result in the severest of penalties.

Notes for human visitors

Human visitors should also note – now that Glastonbury Tor has achieved mountain status you should bring plenty of provisions so that if the weather changes unexpectedly at this high altitude you won’t get caught out. There are, after all, few more embarrassing things than having the air sea rescue services called out, when the simple measure of bringing a few vital supplies could have seen you safely returning to basecamp under your own steam.

There is a simple mnemonic – KITES. Visitors to the tor learn about this in the information area at the gift shop:

K – Kendal Mint Cake – a standard kilogram bar should suffice on a day trip. Remember to bring some for every member of your party, including pets.

I – Igloo construction skills – if the weather should change at high altitude it is always worth knowing how to fashion a rudimentary igloo from the permanent icecap on Glastonbury Tor

T – a Tent or bivouac – in case the weather turns nasty. Remember there are no toilet facilities for a thirty mile radius around Glastonbury Tor so you should consider bringing a porta-loo.

E – Elvish principles – think back to the last Lord Of The Rings film you saw – which race was always best equipped to fend for themselves when out in the wilderness? The Elves – that’s who. All you need to do is think about how one of the elves would fend for themself in a tricky situation. Obviously we are referring to one of the principal characters, not one of the red-shirted CGI cannon-fodder who have their head sliced off by an Uruk-Hai in the siege of Gondor.

S – Swiss Army Knife – these are always useful, although it will need to be surrendered if you want to visit the toast-making display at St. Michael’s Tower.

Instructions to Keep Off The Keep Off The Signs are unfair say pilgrims

Recent visitors to Glastonbury Tor will have noticed that many of the signs instructing them to keep off the grass, keep off the garlic and keep off the path have been kicked over by angry protesters.

Although this is a fairly civilized campaign, with signs being gently kicked so that they stand at a jaunty angle, the gatekeepers at the tor are not taking this behaviour lying down.

Keep Off The Keep Off The Signs instructionsIn response, Chief Gatekeeper Titania Bonham-Smythe unveiled a new hand-painted instruction board today at the nimbleness assessment area that explains the purpose of the various Keep Off The signs, and the consequences of being caught disobeying the rules.

Bonham-Smythe explains; “As you know, our members of staff love nothing more than stopping ignorant members of public and telling them fascinating historical facts, but we have had to put this on hold since this protest started. My staff members are spending all day just straightening kicked-over signs.”

But speaking on behalf of the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union, Chief Stairmaster Paul Hompkins is rather more critical of the new instruction board; “while the message appears quite simple – visitors to the tor are told in no uncertain terms that the Keep Off The signs are there for their own good – it’s the small print that has everyone worried. For example, if you are caught kicking over a sign, even by accident, you can find yourself spending a whole afternoon locked in one of the old cells at St. Michael’s Prison. This has already caused quite a problem for some of our older union members who have a hard time making their daily barefoot ascent. We are used to a life of penitence, but we’re really not accustomed to slopping out, and the food is terrible.”

“We’ll keep pilgrimming whatever the price of petrol” say Glastonbury Pilgrims Union

The Glastonbury Pilgrims Union started running their Pilgrimwagens on lead-free petrol in 1973On the day that the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association cancelled their annual event because of rising petrol prices, the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union are in rather more defiant mood, meaning that rivalry between the two groups has never been more intense.

Regular visitors to Glastonbury Tor will be accustomed to the sight of Glastonbury Pilgrims Union members making their daily barefoot pilgrimage to the top of the tor, nimbly dodging the Keep Off The Grass and Keep Off The Path signs.

Speaking on behalf of the union, Chief Stairmaster Paul Hompkins explained; “Our organisation was the first to introduce daily pilgrimages, while the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association struggle to do it once a year. We were the first to equip each of our members with satellite tracking and a 10kg bar of Kendal Mint Cake on every trip. And I’m sure everyone remembers our campaign “Lead Free In Seventy Three” – we moved over entirely to lead-free petrol almost forty years ago!”

Hompkins continued; “But our big innovation came when we converted to barefoot pilgrimming in the early nineties – since then we haven’t looked back. It means our petrol consumption is a fraction of that used by organisations that still insist on motorised pilgrimages. Of course some of our members get a bit jealous when the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association members overtake them on their motorbikes, but now with petrol going above £1.35 a litre we can expect our strategy to cement our position at the top of the pilgrim league.”