Haw Par Villa, Singapore: the theme park made in hell
Haw Par Villa in Singapore is not your average theme park. Limbless rats, human crabs and the Ten Courts of Hell make up this bizarre and gruesome recreation of the afterlife.
We were barely 10 steps inside the dimly-lit stone tunnel that houses the Ten Courts of Hell when my friend jumped back and grabbed my arm. She had approached a mock replica of the "Mirror of Retribution" – where evildoers see their life replayed before they face punishment for their sins – and a demonic apparition had appeared out of nowhere through the looking glass. She calmed down from the shock. "He does have a nice collarbone," she noticed.
Here's a place I've never even heard of, even though there's a rock in the road! Should be a place to visit if you're in the area: 'Rolling stone' in Soulbury car crash claim will not be moved
A large boulder which has sat in the middle of a road for decades is to stay where it is despite a car crashing into it, a council has said.
The stone is thought to have been in Soulbury, Buckinghamshire for 11,000 years. The road was built round it.
Residents said they would chain themselves to it when the council said the stone may have to be moved.
The council has now said it would be "lunacy" to move it, but was looking for ways to make the road safer.
Local legend claims the rock, known as the Soulbury Boot, appeared on Chapel Hill after villagers fought with the devil and cut off his foot.
Some people also claim it rolls down the hill as the church chimes midnight.
It is not known how the boulder gets back up the hill, but it was in its usual place when a motorist allegedly hit it, damaging her car and later claiming compensation, according to the Leighton Buzzard Observer.
A Buckinghamshire County Council spokesman told the BBC it had been discussing the future of the stone with the parish council "following the alleged incident".
Removing the stone was "an option" but the council was aware it would not be a popular choice.
A Facebook community group launched a Save our Soulbury Stone (Soss) campaign calling for residents to reject any proposal to move it, with some vowing to chain themselves to the rock to protect it.
However, Conservative councillor Mark Shaw has now told the BBC that "to move it, or even discuss moving it... would be absolute madness".
He described it as the "heart and soul" of Soulbury".
"What we want to do is clearly make the road safe and secure for all drivers but actually it would be absolute lunacy to move that stone," Mr Shaw said. "Let's bear in mind this is about one person who's crashed into this stone in over 11,000 years."
Long article: The Soulbury stone never loses – and now the council knows it Esther Addley, Saturday 2 April 2016 09.00 BST
There is one fact that is important never to forget about the Soulbury stone, according to Victor Wright, chair of the parish council of the small Buckinghamshire village in which it is situated: “The Soulbury stone never loses.” It is a lesson that has been learned the hard way, he says, by generations of young men returning from the Boot, the village pub, who attempt to hurdle it and “do their undercarriage some damage”. Older village residents, it’s said, can remember when two army tanks were defeated after they tried to dislodge it during the war.
And on some indeterminate day in the recent past, an unknown motorist learned the lesson the hard way, when the rear bumper of their car had an overly close encounter with the stone, from which it did not come away the victor.
By Thursday, once the stone had featured on national TV and radio, this particular immovable object had, true to form, overcome the council’s highly resistible force. “We completely understand the significance of the stone to villagers,” said Mark Shaw, the council’s cabinet member for transportation, “and will do all that we can to make any appropriate safety changes to the area around the stone, but not move the stone itself. Clearly the stone is the true heart and soul of Soulbury.”
Why such a fight for this small boulder? Soulbury’s stone (never “rock”, notes Wright’s wife, June, who made that mistake – once – while taking the parish council minutes) does not even have any archaeological value. It was placed at the junction of Chapel Hill and High Road, notes Mike Palmer, keeper of natural history at Bucks County Museum, not by neolithic humans marking a burial spot or a significant ford, but by an ice age glacier, which transported the chunk of 300-million-year-old carboniferous limestone from much further north – probably the Peak District – some 450,000 years ago.
Even local people can’t quite put a finger on why they value it so highly. Debbie Olié, who lives at the bottom of Chapel Hill, appreciates that it’s a handy way to direct people looking for her turnoff. Jacqui Butler, who lives in the large, early-18th century house in front of the stone, says her teenage son likes to stand on it every Thursday evening waiting for the fish and chip van. Janet Joosten, who lives a few doors along the main road and is a member of a druid society, believes the stone has “particular energies”.
Some people think it was a mounting block for horses. There is a legend that Oliver Cromwell stood on top of it while his troops were ransacking the village church (though villagers are happy to admit the sourcing on that may be sketchy). Some cite a legend that the stone rolls down the low hill every night at midnight only to reappear each morning, though sceptics scoff at such superstition and say it only happens every Halloween.
What is unquestionable, however, is that the stone has been in Soulbury for much longer than Soulbury, and its location just off the main thoroughfare, in what is an extremely wide entrance for a modest cul-de-sac, suggests it has been accruing meaning for people in the area for much longer than anyone can remember. “When I first saw it, I was amazed it was still there,” says Palmer. “These things did tend to get moved out of the way.” Either it extends much further underground than is visible, he says (villagers believe only one-eighth is above ground), or it has been significant locally for many centuries. “I think people did read the landscape and the features within it much more than we do today: standing stones and ancient trees, all these things seemed to register on the consciousness of people then. We just don’t notice them now.”
Nearby Princes Risborough, he says, has its own glacial erratic, a puddingstone boulder that, a small plaque informs passersby, is thought to have been used by neolithic people as a marker stone, and now sits on a heavily landscaped site next to the Horns Lane roundabout.
All over the country, towns and villages have made accommodations with the ancient stones in their midst, some of which remain lovingly venerated by locals, while others have suffered more ignominious fates. Darlington has the Bulmer stone, a hefty chunk of glacial Shap granite, which (according to a plaque) once marked the northernmost extent of the town, and was used by weavers to beat their flax against it. It now sits, almost forgotten, over a void behind iron railings.
In the small County Antrim village of Ballylumford, best known for its power station, a large dolmen or portal tomb incorporating four standing megaliths and a large capstone has been happily incorporated in a domestic driveway.
Clackmannan, in central Scotland, was named after its own ancient stone, a small whinstone boulder that is said to have been sacred to the pre-Christian god Mannan for millenia. In the 19th century for reasons unknown it was placed on a high menhir, giving it the appearance of a penis. An attempt by the local council in 2005 to move it by 5m was no more successful than Buckinghamshire county council’s effort this week. (“All the ladies at the meeting decided that we would learn how to sing We Shall Not Be Moved and sit around the stone if it came to that,” Davina Armstrong, 74, told the Times.)
Such questions about how to reach reconciliation between modern life and ancient heritage are grappled with on a daily basis in the small and densely populated island of Great Britain, notes Paul Chadwick, an archaeologist and planning consultant.
Of the thousands of proposed planning developments that his own firm, CgMs, deals with every year, he says, perhaps 40% hint at enough historical or archaeological interest to merit a geophysical survey of the landscape; perhaps half of those will require excavation or trial trenches by archaeologists. It is “pretty exceptional” for something to be found of such significance that it will derail a project altogether, he says, “but having said that, there are plenty of instances where, like this site in Bucks, something has been almost venerated for generations. Clearly the road has gone round it and people have got very attached to it.”
He cites an example from his own work on a Viking burial mound that has been incorporated into a housing estate on the Isle of Man (“that works quite well”). A housing site in Northampton was hastily altered when a Roman villa was found, he adds. The houses were moved to sit on what was going to be open space, while the site of the villa, safely grassed over, “is now the kickabout space for the estate that was built around it”.
As for Soulbury’s stone, Wright is due to meet with highways officials next week to discuss the next step, but suggestions from locals include restoring an old gas lamp-post that used to sit next to it, or perhaps extending the pavement from one side of the wide entrance to wrap around it.
That suggestion would have the advantage of offering a little more roadside protection to the visitors that Wright is confident will now come in increasing numbers to see the famous landmark (and on a sleepy weekday afternoon there are several, including a man named Ian, who has brought his teenage sons from nearby Aylesbury and declares: “If this was in Devon there would be a teahouse and this would be called Old Ma Soulbury’s Wishing Stone”).
Does Wright really expect it to attract the crowds? “You’d be surprised,” he says. “The Bucks way runs just past here. There are people who stop here, take a photo, tick a box. Soulbury stone, done.” Who knows, people may have been doing something similar for a very long time indeed.
This stone was said to be blue in colour and local legend had it that it was a meteorite.
It was also reputed to be a kind of milestone or coach-stop. When extensive roadworks created a large roundabout, (late 50's, early 60'S) it was supposedly moved to the grounds of St. Giles Church, but has since disappeared.
White lines painted around a boulder, thought to have been in place 11,000 years in an attempt to make it safer, have been described as an "eyesore" and "horrific" on social media.
The stone in Soulbury, Buckinghamshire, was under threat of being moved after a car allegedly crashed into it.
The county council has since painted white chevrons around it.
Photos of the new look on the Soulbury News Facebook page have attracted dozens of negative comments.
One person described it as a good compromise, but the vast majority of those responding have criticised the chevrons, labelling them as "shocking" and "dreadful".
Villagers had threatened to chain themselves to the stone, known as the Soulbury Boot, after the crash put its position in the middle of Chapel Hill in jeopardy.
Buckinghamshire County Council said it realised moving the stone would be unpopular and was instead looking at ways to make the road safer.
The white lines were painted by Transport for Buckinghamshire on 9 April at a cost of £469, the council said.
It added it had no plans for any further changes.
A spokesman for Soulbury News said a number of people were "not too keen on the chevrons" but hundreds of people had "liked" the post.
"Obviously we are pleased that the stone is staying," he added.
"We were very surprised how this local campaign suddenly went viral, with interest from abroad as well."
The stone is thought to have been in place for 11,000 years, with Chapel Hill built around it.
Local legend claims the rock appeared on Chapel Hill after villagers fought with the devil and cut off his foot and that it rolls down the hill as the church chimes midnight.
I've never heard of the Soulbury Stone and looking at the pictures it is no wonder that someone hit it. It's a massive stone in the middle of the road.
Now the article says that it's been in this spot for 11,000 years. But why? Surely there have been other large glacial rocks in places that have been moved, why not this one?
Also, it's in the middle of the road, what happens when they resurface the road?
And they are about the Soulbury Stone, but in the first case the term 'Soulbury Stone' isn't in the post headline.
Sometimes it seems that using as many keywords as you can remember is the way to go, but it probably won't work if you get one of them wrong. I'm coming round to the idea that one distinctive and unusual keyword usually works best. Here, Soulbury is unusual enough to do the job. So if you're looking for a story involving two or more names, try searching on the most unusual one, especially if it's not got a common English meaning. (Foreign names are good, if you can remember them and spell them correctly!)
There is Artificial Intelligence, but sometimes Search here seems to use Artificial Stupidity instead!
So I apologise to 'Bin for being snappy, but sometimes the pains and hassles of old age get me that way.
A singular way to ensure you have the Scottish coastline to yourself is to venture there on a wet and windswept weekday at ‘just the worst time of the year’; more so if you visit a part of the shore of which few are aware.
I heard about this for the first time this morning when I saw a link to a BBC article about the path, but it's one of those BBC Worldwide (International Sites) pages that can't be viewed from within the U.K. (unless you use proxy mask software or something similar) which is really annoying but I found another article on the path, and if you're outside of the U.K. here's the original BBC link, http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/201...-path-in-britain?ocid=ww.social.link.facebook
The Most Dangerous Path in Britain? Walking The Broomway SUNDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2016
There are records of dozens of people having sadly lost their lives on this path. And it is very likely that dozens more have died here without their deaths ever being recorded.
On the Hunt for the Lost Wonders of Medieval Britain
Does a millennium-old manuscript hold the key to hidden, awe-inspiring places?
The day was departing when we arrived at the old, gray church and its graveyard of tilting headstones. Beyond, the forest hid the ruins of a Norman castle along with—we hoped—one of the Wonders of Britain.
A tall, tidy man with a cap appeared, out with his dog for an evening walk, and Andrew Evans, wearing a dark, swinging overcoat, approached him. “Can I ask you … do you live around here? We’re after the Bone Well …” The man offered no sign of recognition. “It should be a spring under the castle somewhere.”
“A natural spring?” he replied, unfazed by the suggestion of a watery catacomb filled with skeletons. “There’s a track leading down there on the left. It’s a good bit of a mile.”