Local 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.
Hamster 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.
Titania 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.
A public outcry has followed the recent announcement that Glastonbury Pilgrims Union has donated thirty dog trolleys to enable people to enjoy the tor with their dogs. These trolleys were necessary because the tor has grown by 30 metres in the last decade which meant that many dogs were no longer able to get to the top under their own steam.
This week three hundred owners of other pets signed a petition that was handed in to the Lord Mayor of Glastonbury the Rt Hon Lawrence McKnight, that claimed equal rights to trolleys for all pets.
In a partial step-down the Pilgrims Union have agreed that if trolleys are not being used by dogs then other pets may use them. However it is not good news for all pets. Very small animals may be expected to double up and share with others in order to avoid wasting space. So for example, if two people arrive with chinchillas, and there is a spaniel sized trolley, they would be expected to share. There are no plans to force animals from entirely different species to share trolleys, but many people think this will be hard to enforce. The rule of thumb is that if a pet is likely to eat or attack another animal that it shares a trolley with, then it should wear a muzzle.
Fortunately muzzles for a wide range of species are available in the National Trust gift shop if pet owners arrive without one.
Patricia Barnyard of the Glastonbury Dogwalker’s Trust remains upbeat; “Obviously dogs take priority. They are the best sort of pet, and this new ruling on trolleys accepts that fact. It means that dogs are never expected to share a trolley. They are always welcome to enjoy their visit to the tor, although there have been occasions when a queue of beagles has developed. On the other hand, if you want to bring a hamster or a cat for a walk on the tor it is possible that they will be able to use the trolleys too, and visitors will find a good selection of cat muzzles in the shop, on the shelf below the Hobgoblin Marmalade.”
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.
Chief Inspector Wilkinson of the Glastonbury constabulary briefed the press this evening about the case of Councillor Gerald Watkins who was found in his office today impaled on a model of St. Michael’s Tower.
The tower sits majestically on top of the brand new scale model of Glastonbury Tor that according to police had just been unwrapped and turned on for the first time.
The National Trust are considering whether a product recall is necessary.
Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor offered an explanation; “The new scale model of the tor went on sale this week and is fully adjustable. Using the control panel you can type in a value for any year from the early thirteenth century when the tor was discovered, to the year 2050. Hydraulic motors alter the height of the model to be exactly to scale for the year you have selected. There is a clear warning in the instructions that you shouldn’t type in a value beyond 2030 unless you have a high ceiling.”
Henge continued; “I think what may have happened is that Councillor Watkins was leaning over his model and changed the setting from 1556, which was the date corresponding to the lowest recorded height of the tor, to 2050 which is the highest that the model can depict. The mist that tumbles down the slopes of the model may have concealed the fact that St. Michael’s Tower was heading for him at quite a speed and taken him by surprise.”
But Chief Inspector Wilkinson was clearly unhappy with this explanation; “When we arrived at the crime scene we found that the standard instructions had been replaced with a version that tells the user that in order to perform an initial setup of the model they should turn the tumbling mist to its full mystical setting, and then type 1556 into the control panel, followed immediately by 2050. A deadly combination. This model seems to have been a gift to Councillor Watkins from Glastonbury Town Council B, and we are worried that this is an unwelcome deterioration in the twin town triangulation dispute that has plagued the two councils this year.”
The National Trust gift shop at Glastonbury Tor has turned a crisis into an opportunity this week with the release of a new scale model of the tor, delighting visitors.
Following GIPN’s announcement in January that the tor has achieved mountain status because it grew by 30 metres between 2001 and 2011 the Trust found it had huge stocks of the previous scale model that reflected the old height of 160 metres. These are now available in the bargain bin.
Alarmingly, in the old models the surrounding landscape looked out of scale compared to the current height of the tor. For example, Glastonbury Marina which sits in the shadow of the tor contained tiny models of sailing boats that were looking increasingly disproportionate.
Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor explained; “We have always been proud of our scale model. It generates a constant mist that tumbles down the slopes creating a very mystical effect on your mantelpiece, and visitors often comment on the realism of the group of dancers in the famous circle of standing stones. Being solar powered the model fits very well with the ethos of our gift shop.”
Henge continued; “We had a team of scientists working to make this next generation model of Glastonbury Tor meet the ongoing needs of our customers and they have developed an ingenious solution – a small panel allows you to key in the year and a set of hydraulic motors alters the height of the model to be exactly to scale within a thousandth of an inch. You can type in a value up to fifty years in the future, but you should only do this in rooms that have a high ceiling.”
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.”
Scientists have known for some time that every 4.5 billion years the earth’s magnetic polarity reverses, and archaeological records indicate that the next flip is imminent.
But the metallurgy department at The Mystical University of Glastonbury have made the surprise discovery that because Glastonbury Tor is made of solid iron, when the next polarity reversal occurs the tor will realign itself, and invert.
They are unsure exactly how long the inversion will take, but best estimates put the speed at somewhere a snail’s pace and a brisk walk.
Concerned for public safety, the university has taken the unprecedented step of issuing a set of emergency plans to the National Trust explaining the action that should be taken to minimize risk. Most of the warnings relate to such things as cordoning off the area until the inversion is complete.
But historians are concerned about the possible increased risk of theft that might result from the proposal to place St. Michael’s Tower on wheels so it can be easily relocated to the top of the tor after the inversion.
Cosmologist Kirsten Denier from Glastonbury Observatory explained; “St. Michael’s Tower has always been a hive of activity, and even before the prison closure in January everyone has managed to coexist in this beautiful mystical space. However, since the Breville toast-making display went live last week it’s been nothing but trouble for us. Smoke from burnt toast has poured into the observatory, and the smoke alarms have been going off and disrupting our astral observations at the most inconvenient times.”
Uther Henge, the top mystical consultant at the National Trust, who leaves his duties at the gift shop twice a day to lead visitors through a presentation Toast, the Tor, Past Present and Future, was keen to placate the observatory; “Nobody predicted how much toast the visitors to the tor would burn. You know the settings on some of the old toasters were frightfully hard to get right, especially if you’re using the double-insertion method for even browning. We have installed a new extractor fan in the demonstration area, so we hope the smoke from burnt toast will vent away from the observatory in future.”
As a gesture of goodwill Henge delivered a tray of hot lentil tea and toast with lashings of Hobgoblin Marmalade to the cosmologists in the observatory.
A new display Making Toast Through The Ages opened today in St. Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury Tor. This follows the cleanup operation that was necessary following the recent no entry vortex encountered by Percival Angstrom.
This fascinating display charts the development of toast since medieval times. Delicious toasted wholemeal bread has always been part of Glastonbury’s history – indeed it appears in the town’s coat of arms. The Domesday Book refers to the toasted sustenance that pilgrims enjoyed in the town of Glastonbury before making the final barefoot ascent to the tor summit. Visitors to the display learn that no mention is made of butter or marmalade in those early times – these innovations were to arrive in the early fourteenth century during Edward II’s reign.
Sponsored by Breville, the display includes a variety of gas and electrical toasters that have been used since 1912.
The most compelling part of the display is the lecture in one corner of St. Michael’s Tower by Uther Henge, the top mystical consultant at the National Trust who leaves his duties at the gift shop twice a day to fascinate visitors.
The lecture titled Toast, the Tor, Past Present and Future leads visitors through the historical artefacts on display, and includes advice on modern toast-making techniques. For example, visitors are taught the “double-insertion method”, in which they learn how to set the intensity level for their toaster to half its normal value, and flip their toast half way through the process, leading to an incredibly evenly browned surface.
Such techniques are not necessary when using the Breville Toastmatic 4000 which uses modern technology to dynamically brown the surface of bread and deliver a perfect slice of toast every time. This is one of the models of toaster available in the gift shop as you leave the tor.
Uther Henge commented “Obviously safety is first and foremost for us. When they enter the display area we issue visitors with safety goggles so that there is no risk of toast popping out of toasters and causing an injury. We also confiscate any knives we find during our routine search because there have been incidents where people have inserted them into the display toasters to try and remove bread that gets stuck.”
Echoing the spending cut protests at public libraries this week, visitors to the National Trust gift shop at Glastonbury Tor have been buying everything from the shelves faster than staff can restock them.
In a peaceful protest spearheaded by the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union, hundreds of people have been buying items from the gift shop in response to the recent proposal by Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers to buy the tor from the National Trust and replant the grass with a mixed crop of vines and garlic.
Uther Henge, the top mystical consultant at the National Trust, who is stationed permanently in the gift shop at Glastonbury Tor was brimming with excitement; “People didn’t seem to mind the original plan to replant the tor with variegated shrubs and perennials as far as the eye can see, but the Pilgrims Union in particular were worried that vines would ruin the view out over the plains of Somerset. The double win here is that we had a massive over-stock of Lady Guinevere Lingerie in the gift shop, and have sold over a hundred garments this morning alone.”
The other good news is that the gift shop has sold all of the remaining antique reproduction slop buckets from their prison novelties range that were left over following the closure of St. Michael’s Prison.