Tag Archives: Titania Bonham-Smythe

Glastonbury Tor ready to receive visitors again after returning from Olympics opening ceremony

Brisk sales of cat muzzles resume as Glastonbury Tor returns from London Olympics opening ceremonyYesterday was a busy day for Titania Bonham-Smythe and her colleagues at the National Trust gift shop at the base of Glastonbury Tor, following a week that saw the sale of the smallest number of cat muzzles since records began.

“It was obviously a great honour for the tor to feature so prominently in the Olympics opening ceremony in London” explained Titania “but that has caused very low visitor numbers. Now the tor has been re-seated we’ve been overwhelmed with little jobs preparing for the deluge of visitors today”.

The journey back from London along the M4 motorway was not without difficulty for Glastonbury Tor. The rocket transporters used to transport the mountain that were on loan from the aeronautics department of the Mystical University of Glastonbury were never designed to cover such huge distances – normally the furthest they would take their rocket payload would be from the university buildings in the heart of Glastonbury to the launch area on the Summerland Meadows just a few miles away. Something as simple as a puncture in one of the mammoth tyres on the transporter could cause hours of delay, with resulting tailbacks infuriating motorists.

But Bonham-Smythe is confident that visitors will enjoy a fabulous mystical day out at Glastonbury Tor today, unaware of the fervent behind-the-scenes activity; “Patricia Barnyard from the Glastonbury Dogwalker’s Trust has been in to oil the wheels of the dog trolleys, and the gentlemen from the GIPN (the Geneva Institute of Protuberance Nomenclature) have signed off the tor at 190 metres tall, meaning that it continues to qualify for mountain status.”

And probably the best news of all for nature lovers is that now it’s back from London, many Somerset Stranglers have been sighted emerging from their nests on Glastonbury Tor. Although July is traditionally the nesting period for hamsters worries had been building that the trip to London would cause a mass exodus. Fortunately a special grant of 500kg of cotton wool from the Olympic organising committee ensured that the hamsters were safely protected in their nests.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers in dramatic Glastonbury Horticulture Society takeover

In a surprise move only hours after Glastonbury Horticulture Society announced their bid to buy Glastonbury Tor from the National Trust, Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers announced at a surprise press briefing today that they have agreed to buy a controlling share in Glastonbury Horticulture Society.

This is seen by industry insiders as a move to outflank Deutsch Gartenbau Abteilung, the German horticulture consortium that bought fifteen small mountains in Belgium in 2010, and has been greedily eyeing the nominees for mountain status announced by the GIPN this year.

Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers have big plans for Glastonbury Tor if their purchase is successful; “We have slightly modified the plan announced by Glastonbury Horticultural Society to plant displays of variegated shrubs and perennials over the tor as far as the eye can see. We still envisage a major replanting but now are going to focus on a mixed crop of garlic and vines. Research indicates that it pleases people who visit modern horticultural pleasure parks when they see vegetation that has real commercial value.”

National Trust Chief Gatekeeper at the tor Titania Bonham-Smythe had mixed feelings when we talked to her today; “I was awfully excited by the idea of the variegated shrubs, but I’m not sure people will enjoy visiting Glastonbury Tor if their view over the plains is obstructed by vines. I actually think the Deutsch Gartenbau Abteilung bid for the tor might be more in line with the profile of visitors we see. I spent a week working in the gift shop at one of their Belgian mountains recently and their Klabautermann Marmelade (Hobgoblin Marmalade) had a piquancy you wouldn’t believe!”

Pilgrims to boycott Air Sea Rescue service

Air Sea RescueFollowing the dramatic rescue of pensioner Percival Angstrom yesterday morning, staff at the National Trust gift shop at Glastonbury Tor were surprised to learn today that they have been landed with a huge bill.

Rushing to their defence the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union have pledged to boycott the Air Sea Rescue service until agreement is given that the Trust doesn’t have to pay.

Hundreds of members of the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union have climbed the tor barefoot every week since ancient times, so it was natural they should be the first to hear about the unwanted bill.  Because they are such an active and close-knit community they were able to arrange an extraordinary union meeting in Glastonbury town hall and quickly agreed a motion to boycott.

Keen to get an explanation we called the Air Sea Rescue service and were patched straight through to Pilot Officer Graham Gillespie who was flying high over the nearby Bristol Channel; “This is the fifth airlift we have performed on Glastonbury Tor this year and we have decided enough is enough.  Glastonbury is so far inland that other users of our service are suffering.  Every time the National Trust call us out to rescue someone from the tor we are putting sailors lives at risk.  By the way, I would like to thank the lovely Titania Bonham-Smythe because she packed us off with a tasty jar of Hobgoblin Marmalade from the gift shop yesterday when we picked up Mr. Angstrom.”

Old Age Pensioner trapped in No Entry vortex

An Air Sea Rescue helicopter winched OAP Percival Angstrom to safety from the top of Glastonbury Tor this morning after his lifeless body was discovered by National Trust staff.

Chief Gatekeeper at the tor Titania Bonham-Smythe was first on the scene; “It seems that last night when we locked the door to St. Michael’s Tower nobody noticed that Mr. Angstrom was inside inspecting the stuffed animals.  When I walked into the tower today I immediately saw something was wrong because all of the furniture had formed into a jumbled circular pile in the middle of the main hall.  He was there on the floor, almost unconscious.”

Bonham-Smythe soon worked out what was wrong as she rushed back to the door to seek help and was confronted by a new hand painted No Entry sign that had been accidentally placed on the wrong side of the door causing Mister Angstrom to walk around inside the tower seeking an exit at an ever-increasing rate – a common behaviour in the over-seventies.

“Fortunately I had my mobile phone so was able to call a colleague to open the door and free us” said Bonham-Smythe, “we then called Air Sea Rescue and a little while later Angstrom was recovering at Glastonbury Hospital.  Doctors say he should make a full recovery.  It was all terribly exciting!”