Tag Archives: St. Michael’s Tower

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.”

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.

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.

Advantages:

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

Disadvantages:

  • 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.

Advantages:

  • Consistent toasting on both sides

Disadvantages:

  • 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.

Advantages:

  • Consistent toasting top to bottom on both sides

Disadvantages:

  • 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.

Advantages:

  • Incredibly even toasting

Disadvantages:

  • 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.

Infographic

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

King Arthur had Glastonbury Tor paved in ancient times

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor are familiar with the information boards at the gift shop, that tell the history of the tor since it was discovered in 1275.  Chief Gatekeeper Titania Bonham-Smythe will often quiz visitors on key facts before allowing them entry, much to the annoyance of visitors with poor short term memories who sometimes have to take the test several times.

But a recent geophysics scan commissioned by Glastonbury Archaeology Society has uncovered interesting facts that fill big gaps in our knowledge of the tor that have mystified experts for hundreds of years.

Geophysics is the electronic mapping technique used by Tony Robinson’s Time Team to create underground and subsurface images that tell archaeologists where to dig trenches.

It is common knowledge that King Arthur was responsible for creating the path that runs from the base of the tor where the gift shop now stands, to St. Michael’s Tower at the top.  Preservation of the ancient path is a real challenge for the National Trust.  But geophysics has revealed that the paving was once much more widespread – covering the whole of Glastonbury Tor.

Expert opinion is divided as to why King Arthur would have wanted the whole thing paved, but we now know that only the imprints from the paving slabs can be found on the electronic geophys scans – the slabs themselves are long gone.

Barry Spright, chief scanner at Torsion Bar Dynamics, the geophysics company responsible for the latest scan is keen to put forward his explanation; “Historical records tell us that when they travelled around Britain, King Arthur and his merry men paved important areas to mark his reign – the largest being Trafalgar Square, although of course it was called Lady Guinevere Plaza at the time. Even today you can visit many high streets in England and see the evidence of their work.”

Spright continues; “Our scans have revealed the huge scale of King Arthur’s original work – the imprints left by the paving stones are clearly visible deep underground.  The question is what happened to them? Could it be that all those slabs paving the back gardens of Glastonbury once graced the tor itself?”

If you have a paving slab in your garden that you believe might once have been on Glastonbury Tor you can hand it in at Glastonbury Police Station during the 30 day amnesty.

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.”

Keep off the path signs cause incendiary rage

Many visitors to Glastonbury Tor were understandably upset by the arrival of 500 Keep Off The Grass signs in January. But they have been thrown into complete confusion by a new set of signs instructing them to keep off large sections of the path that runs from the National Trust gift shop at the base of the tor to St. Michael’s Tower at the top.

These emergency measures have been put in place because dozens of people visit the tor every year and the pathway that was installed in ancient times by King Arthur and his merry men is showing clear signs of water damage.

Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor explained; “This is just a temporary measure because of the recent flooding. We are trying to give it time to dry out. It is quite simple – when visitors walk up the path and encounter one of the banned sections they need to tiptoe along the channel of gravel on the edge that separates the grass from the pathway. Obviously this involves some nimble footwork, but we have trained assistants on hand to prop people up if they look like they are going to stumble. We have also set up a nimbleness assessment area at the gift shop where visitors can practice walking along a narrow channel of gravel to see if they meet the standards required to make a proper ascent. It allows us to weed out anyone who looks like they will cause a problem.”

Speaking on behalf of the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union, Chief Stairmaster Paul Hompkins was keen to bring attention to the challenge that union members are now encountering on their daily barefoot walk from Glastonbury town to the top of the tor; “For many years, union members have taken special measures to avoid eroding the path that leads to the top of Glastonbury Tor, but unfortunately there is a worn channel up the middle that collected a lot of water in the recent flood. This Christmas we began sewing little bags of cement into our trousers and shaking it down our legs to try and fill the holes. So far we have reversed fifty years of wear, but we still have a way to go.”

Hompkins continued; “You can understand that our barefoot ascent of the tor has become very difficult because so much is now confined to the painful gravel channels. Our members have got around this by strapping tennis rackets on their feet. Interestingly this seems to add to the solemnity of their penitent journey.”

Head of Glastonbury Town Council A impaled on St. Michael’s Tower – foul play suspected

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.”

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.”

Glastonbury Tor may invert – emergency plans prepared

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.

Artist's impression of Glastonbury Tor following inversionConcerned 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.

Toast-making display irritates Glastonbury Observatory

Only days after their complaint about light pollution, Glastonbury Observatory is in the news again as they fight for a clear view of the sky above them.

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.