Tag Archives: Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor Ultrabeast might be Queen Hamster

Glastonbury Tor visitors are advised to keep peanuts double wrappedFor many years scientists have been mystified by the all-male population of Somerset Stranglers – the breed of hamsters native to Glastonbury Tor. The big question has always been how do they reproduce?

Religious teaching has been that they engage in virgin birth, explaining why so many hamsters are depicted in the stained glass windows of churches in Glastonbury.

Historically the scientific community has not challenged this idea out of respect for the hamster’s right to privacy. Local byelaws make it illegal to film these adorable animals during what might or might not be their mating season.

But the mystery of how Somerset Stranglers reproduce may have finally been answered thanks to recent coppicing of the wooded area on the dangerous north face of the Tor.

Police have received a higher than normal number of reports of a giant creature. Nervous villagers have responded in the traditional way by screaming “Ultrabeast!” as they run home, lock their front door and hide behind the sofa. But a new generation of visitors to Glastonbury have been able to give police a description.

Chief Inspector Wilkinson of the Glastonbury constabulary explains: “Over the last week we have received dozens of calls from ramblers warning of an unexplained creature that roams Glastonbury Tor. Estimates put it at somewhere around twelve feet tall, and bright white in colour. But the clue that makes us think it might be a Somerset Strangler is that so many independent witnesses have described it as having adorably weak forearms. There is only one creature I know of matching that description.”

Wilkinson continues: “The guys in forensics think it may be a rare queen hamster that used to live in the tunnels beneath Glastonbury Tor, and was forced from its natural habitat when the prisoners at St Michael’s Prison dug their escape tunnel and delved too deep. It may now have gone to dwell in the woods on the north face of the Tor, and the coppicing has left it without a home.”

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor should be reassured that there have been no reports of the Ultrabeast attacking humans so it is probably perfectly safe to visit the area. However, if you take a picnic onto the tor you should keep any bags of peanuts double wrapped as they cause aggressive behaviour in male Somerset Stranglers and this could be a hideous problem when scaled up to the proportions of a queen hamster.

Titania Bonham-Smythe on Radio 4 You & Yours

A palpable sense of excitement was buzzing in the air today as staff at the gift shop at Glastonbury Tor listened to You & Yours on Radio 4.

Chief Gatekeeper Titania Bonham-Smythe had sent an email regarding a recent unsuccessful book purchase on Amazon – known as Spamazon – and we are pleased to say that it was read out by Winifred Robinson.

Download the 38 second MP3 or listen to the full 41 minute You & Yours programme on the BBC website.

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.

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.”

The Uther Henge guide to perfect toast

Traditional single Insertion methodTraditional single Insertion method

The traditional method of toasting. You simply adjust the toaster setting so that it pops up cooked to perfection. At least, that’s the idea. The reality is that several factors usually result in very uneven toasting.


  • Speed
  • Simplicity
  • Basic toaster settings
  • No special training required


  • Uneven toasting (unless you use the Breville Toastmatic 4000)

Double insertion method (mid-stage horizontal rotation)Double insertion method

The first level of advanced toast-making. The toaster is set to half the standard setting, and when it pops out midway you rotate the bread horizontally before reinserting for the second stage.


  • Consistent toasting on both sides


  • Top of bread often toasted more than bottom
  • Inexperienced users can burn their fingers at the midway stage
  • Basic training required

The Uther Henge Flip (mid-stage vertical rotation)The Uther Henge Flip

The pinnacle of practical toast-making. This is a simple improvement over the horizontal double insertion method. The introduction of a vertical flip creates fantastic toast.


  • Consistent toasting top to bottom on both sides


  • Resetting toaster to half the single insertion value confuses other toaster users who have to be forcefully inducted into the ways of the Uther Henge Flip.

Horizontal rotation followed by vertical flip followed by second vertical flipHorizontal rotation followed by vertical flip followed by second vertical flip at one-third and two-third stages

This over-elaborate method of toasting results in the most consistent browning but is so complex that most people get worse results than the traditional single insertion method.


  • Incredibly even toasting


  • Requires quadruple insertion
  • Many novices fail to observe the rule that bread should be inserted either once, or an even number of times, but never an odd number, unless of course you introduce a final finishing off phase to remedy any inconsistencies
  • Setting the toaster becomes very complex
  • Toaster needs to be reset for subsequent slices to prevent over-cooking
  • Constant monitoring necessary to avoid burning
  • Many people forget how many toast rotations they have performed because they are distracted by other events in the kitchen

Factors to consider

Is your bread sliced by hand or machine?

Hand-slicing is less consistent than machine-slicing and the raised areas can become especially burnt. But you may be able to spread more Hobgoblin Marmalade on hand-sliced bread because it has a greater surface area. Experts call this the Goblin Ratio.

Is the bread thicker at one end than the other?

This can have a massive impact on the flow of hot air through your toaster, disrupting your calculations. You may be wise to set some time aside for wind-tunnel testing if your slices of bread are particularly wedge-shaped.

Who is Uther Henge?

Uther Henge is the chief mystics consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor. If you visit St. Michael’s Tower on top of Glastonbury Tor you can experience the Making Toast Through The Ages display at which Uther Henge gives a twice-daily lecture Toast, the Tor, Past Present and Future. Henge invented the Uther Henge Flip during one of his lectures when he realised that this unintuitive method of rotating bread resulted in a better and more consistent slice of toast.


This information is available as an infographic:
The Uther Henge guide to perfect toast infographic

England’s longest escape tunnel discovered at Glastonbury Tor

Officials at the Prison Service are counting their lucky stars today following the discovery of a massive escape tunnel built by inmates at St. Michael’s prison.

The prison that occupied the basement of St. Michael’s Tower was finally closed in January 2011. Had it remained open for just a few more weeks it is likely that most of the eighty prisoners would have escaped.

Officials from the Prison Service were able to take a couple of brave journalists on a guided tour of the tunnel, that runs all the way to the bottom of the tor, follows the path of the nearby A361, branches east under nearby fields, passing under the A37 near Lower Wraxall and finally stops a hundred yards short of Castle Cary train station.

In a statement to the press, Prison Service spokesman Gerald Manquez said; “It seems that prisoners were planning to join their tunnel to the underground pedestrian walkway at Castle Cary train station, where they would then mingle with passengers. But as the tunnel grew ever longer the job of transporting and disposing of the hundreds of tonnes of waste material took its toll on the prisoners. It explains why Glastonbury Tor grew by 30 metres in the last decade. It also explains why the prisoners were so happy when we announced the closure of the prison. They were now able to enjoy a virtual holiday in one of Britain’s less mystical prisons – free of the responsibility of running an industrial scale mining operation.”

Inquest into death of Councillor Watkins reaches open verdict

Following the mysterious death of Councillor Watkins by being impaled on a realistic scale model of Glastonbury Tor in February, an inquest has reached an open verdict.  This has shocked many people, not least Chief Inspector Wilkinson who was convinced of foul play.

The inquest heard details about the events that resulted in Councillor Watkins’ untimely demise, and saw the instruction leaflet that the Chief Inspector believed had been altered to turn the mystical model into an instrument of death.

But in the absence of any other solid evidence, the instructions were not deemed to be sufficient evidence of a crime, and lacking a perpetrator, the police investigation brought forth no useful evidence and fizzled out.

Outside the court Chief Inspector Wilkinson made a statement to the press; “In our work the Glastonbury constabulary regularly have to confront the unpleasant side of life.  Only last week we had to deal with a savage attack on some shoppers by a pack of Somerset Stranglers that had made their way onto Glastonbury High Street in search of cotton wool for their nests.  But the death of Councillor Watkins has shocked everyone on the force.  Forensics tell me that when the scale model of St. Michael’s Tower impaled Councillor Watkins it was travelling at such a speed that they still haven’t found all his teeth.  But the thing is, despite the initial clue of the amended instructions, we haven’t been able to gather any other substantive evidence.  There was a noticeable closing of ranks in both Town Council A and Town Council B.”

The Chief Inspector continued; “The only good that’s come of this is that we have been able to return the model of Glastonbury Tor to Watkins’ widow and she now has the correct version of the instructions.  This means she is unlikely to type in the same deadly combination of dates that cause the model to become dangerous, so she should enjoy many years of enjoyment from it.”

Don’t be tempted by the hamsters at Glastonbury Tor say vets

A Somerset Strangler on Glastonbury TorLocal vets have advised visitors to stop stuffing their pockets with the hamsters that are swarming over Glastonbury Tor this year.

The huge population of hamsters, known by local breeders as Somerset Stranglers because of the tendency of females to kill their babies when food runs out, has swelled since they were granted protected species status in 1974.

A Somerset Strangler about to biteHamster experts say that Somerset Stranglers were introduced to the area by Dutch tulip dealers in the seventeenth century when they found them to be a breed that could be trusted to guard valuable tulip bulbs.  Because they don’t have any natural predators on Glastonbury Tor they have bred like wildfire and it was only the Somerset potato famine of 1924 that caused their numbers to dwindle.

A Somerset Strangler biting the hand of a childTitania Bonham-Smythe, the Chief Gatekeeper at Glastonbury Tor explains; “When visitors walk up Glastonbury Tor and see the hamsters frolicking on the grass it is very tempting to put a couple in their pockets.  But people need to remember that these are not the same friendly hamsters you find in a pet shop.  They live in the wild and are not tame.  They are ruthless scavengers that will quickly become savage with any human that denies them food or cotton wool for their nest.”

A leaflet is available at the National Trust gift shop explaining the dangers of Somerset Stranglers.

Perky pensioner Percival Angstrom returns to Tor for prestigious Vortex Award

Today OAP Percival Angstrom was welcomed back to Glastonbury Tor at a reception arranged by Chief Gatekeeper Titania Bonham-Smythe. This followed his dramatic airlift in January when he was discovered unconscious in St. Michael’s Tower.

Angstrom was presented with a basket of new age products from the National Trust gift shop at the tor, including a delightful selection of lentil tea and Hobgoblin Marmalade.

But the highlight of the event was when the plucky pensioner was given the Vortex Award – a special cut-glass trophy in the shape of St. Michael’s Tower inscribed with his name. It means he joins a very prestigious club that only has eight other members.

Bonham-Smythe explained; “We have now deployed each of the thousand hand-painted signs we received as part of the annual shipment from head office. When Mr. Angstrom visited the tor last month there were still some signs that were not in their correct place, and the particular No Entry sign he encountered on the wrong side of the main door to the tower almost caused him to come a cropper. The St. Michael’s vortex is something that members of the public shouldn’t be too concerned about though. It is very rare, and usually there is a member of staff on hand to step in and help using the special anti-vortex equipment.”

Before leaving the Tor, Mr. Angstrom was shown the display Making Toast Through The Ages that was installed in St. Michael’s Tower as part of the cleanup operation following his vortex. Unfortunately the event was cut short when a slice of toast became wedged in a Toastmatic 4000, setting off the smoke alarm.

Dogs to enjoy Glastonbury Tor more

Because Glastonbury Tor grew by 30 metres since 2001, many dog owners have expressed concern about the steep slope their pets must now endure when climbing from the National Trust gift shop at the base to St. Michael’s Tower at the top of the tor.

The Glastonbury Pilgrims Union has stepped in and donated thirty dog trolleys of various sizes that will allow people to still enjoy the tor with their pets, but without tiring them excessively.

Patricia Barnyard of the Glastonbury Dogwalker’s Trust is particularly happy; “This is a typically kind and generous gesture by the Pilgrims Union. The tor has become very steep lately and many dogs struggle to make it all the way to the top. With these trolleys dogs of all kinds can now be led by their owners to the top where they can enjoy the view with everyone else. It is worth noting that the trolleys are available on a first come first served basis, and they are mostly in smaller sizes. You may find a queue if you bring an Alsatian or Doberman for a walk on the tor. There is currently only one trolley that can transport a Great Dane in comfort.”