Trip to UK & Ireland

I recently returned from a three-week exploration of England, Scotland and Ireland. It was gratifying to finally see some of the locations in my films in person and explore many others I haven’t yet covered in my work. My wife and son made the trip with me, and we three are still digesting the experience and feeling spaced out with jet lag.

We drove close to two thousand miles and I did all the driving. This was my first time driving from the right seat of the car down the left side of the carriageway and by the end it felt natural. However it took a while for me to retrain my reflexes so driving became autonomic. I kept wanting to get into the car on the wrong side in the parking lot and to follow the lane marker on the left (wrong). The process made me aware that driving is largely a subconscious activity.

I had to watch myself when I returned to Canada that I didn’t continue using my mirrored mental pathways. Sure enough, when I got in my car at the airport and drove off, my body/mind wanted to drive on the left and I had to fight it for a moment until the pathways flipped back. My driving experience reminds me of a less extreme version of the Backwards Brain Bicycle.

It was a bit frightening picking up a car in central London with everything reversed compared to what I was used to. Thank God the pedals aren’t also reversed or I would have been completely lost. I jumped right into the urban frying pan at rush hour and thankfully didn’t get burned.

I wish we had more roundabouts in North America. Roundabouts mean you usually don’t have to stop at intersections, just slow and time your entry right. How cool it that? I have collectively wasted years of my life at red lights in North America.

Larger traffic circles with multiple lanes require that you to pick the correct entry lane depending on which exit you plan to leave the circle. In the UK and Ireland, stay right if you want to leave the circle at the second or third exit. Some very large traffic circles have exits written on the ground in your lane—this makes conflict-free interchanging easy. Not sure where to exit? Just go around again.

How did we ever get around without smartphones? I sure remember using fold out paper maps—and Thomas Bros spiral bound maps to get around California—but it’s amazing how much GPS (read “location-based services”) has changed our lives in helpful, practical ways.

20th century map
20th century map

Google maps knows just when you will arrive, even with all the traffic—it is a bit spooky. Apple/Google/Big Brother tracks your every move and knows when and where you made it. Location based services are helpful and terrifying at the same time, putting any thinking person into a state of cognitive dissonance.

21st century map — from blog post by Elizabeth Flux
21st century map — from post by Elizabeth Flux

The same GPS data by which we are constantly tracked has enabled much of my work on Secrets In Plain Sight by providing us all with tools such as Google Earth that I have used to uncover accurate long distance patterns in a way that is impossible with paper maps. For example:

Giza is the golden location on the longest possible distance on land
Giza is the golden location on the longest possible distance on land

London is expensive. Partly it’s the fact that about 2 Canadian dollars = 1 pound Sterling. London was affordable only if I forgot to double the price of everything. We had 25 pounds in two old bills from 15 years ago that Temple Church wouldn’t accept as payment for entry, except they said the Bank of England would exchange it. I guess the “Mother of all Banks” is bound to accept legal tender no matter how old it is. I had the same problem with Lira in Italy in 1997 but couldn’t get into the bank in Rome because the revolving door was also a locking metal detector and my legs are made of titanium, but that’s another story.

So we went to the ground zero of fractional reserve banking in the City of London, the old financial capital of the world. A solicitor we met on the tube said that most all the banks moved to Canary Wharf about 10-15 years ago (clustered around One Canada Square). He was kind enough to walk us to St. Paul’s from the tube station where we got our bearings on the City.

I had to show my old currency to gain entry to the Bank. Trading in old bills was the only thing people seemed to be doing at the Bank of England—some Russians had piles of money they were upgrading. You have to return old money magic to the gnomes at its source who upgrade it into the current magic, the “currency.” I was amazed to discover that the pavement in the main lobby of the Bank of England is emblazoned with the following hermetic diagram of the human energy system.

Main lobby floor in Bank of England, City of London
Main lobby floor in Bank of England, City of London

At the friendly solicitor’s suggestion we had lunch in Leadenhall Market, which my wife discovered later was the Harry Potter film location for Diagon Alley.

Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall is immediately adjacent to architect Richard Rogers’ famous inside-out Lloyd’s Building I remember from studying architecture at the University of California. Historic England says Lloyd’s is, “Universally recognised as one of the key buildings of the modern epoch.” I watched people going up and down in the glass elevator while eating a burrito in Diagon Alley. Interesting mythic/modern contrast, paralleling two of Jean Gebser’s structures of consciousness (he called them mythic and mental; Ken Wilber later rebranded them mythic and modern).

The Inside Out building
The Inside Out building

Here is what the Mother of all Banks at the top of the London street pyramid looks like from the outside. It’s quite the temple of money magic.

The mother of all banks
The mother of all banks

The base of the City’s street pyramid rests on the London Stone, the Umbilicus Londinium set in place by the Romans about 2 millennia ago.

LondonStone

The next day we went to Westminster Abbey, and by sheer luck we were there when the Queen was opening parliament with her speech / bizarre ritual. I managed to step in the Queen’s horse’s excrement (yes, that’s as close as one can get) while crossing Parliament Street because I was looking at all the soldiers with bayonets in front of the Cenotaph, wondering what the heck was going on. I was able to snap the above photo in 2 secs before a policewoman told me to move along. The sidewalks were packed with people.

Parliament Street looking towards Cenotaph
Parliament Street looking towards Cenotaph

The Sun shines right down Parliament Street at 11:11 am on 11/11 (Remembrance Day), matching the perspective in the above photo (see my Anthology p598). Thanks to Tina Silver for that discovery.

I stuck my hand through the Parliament’s gate and snapped this on my smartphone:

Eye and Benben
Eye and Benben

It was amazing standing at the base of Cleopatra’s needle, 3333.33 km from where it stood in Alexandria for 2 millennia. Deep planning indeed!

Scott Onstott at Cleopatra's Needle London
Scott Onstott at Cleopatra’s Needle London – photo by Jenn Nelson

This post is already getting long and I’ve only covered highlights of the first two days! Here are some of the major locations of my trip in pictures. There is a story about each one. Maybe I will integrate some of these in another book or video someday, but first I must get over jet lag and digest the rich experiences of this trip.

Temple Church London
Temple Church London
Paternoster Square
Paternoster Square

That’s the Shard on the right, tallest building in Europe right now.

View from the Millennium Bridge
View from the Millennium Bridge

The Shard is 66.66 nautical miles or 123454.321 meters from Silbury Hill, tallest prehistoric mound in Europe.

Silbury Hill
Silbury Hill
Stonehenge
Stonehenge – photo by Jenn Nelson
Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Tor – photo by Jenn Nelson
Chalice Well
Chalice Well, Glastonbury
"The Avenue" of standing stones near Avebury
“The Avenue” of standing stones near Avebury
Avebury
Avebury ring and its ancient standing stones
The Circus of Bath
The Georgian Circus of Bath
View from Edinburgh Castle
View from Edinburgh Castle
Rosslyn Chapel - from interview by Paul Troy
Rosslyn Chapel – photo from interview by Paul Troy
Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands – photo by Jenn Nelson
Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness
Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness
Sueno
Pictish Sueno’s Stone near Findhorn, Scotland – photo by Jenn Nelson
Uisneach, Ireland
Uisneach, the sacred centre of Ireland
The Catstone of Uisneach, aka Umbilicus Hibernia
The Catstone of Uisneach, aka Umbilicus Hibernia
Forgotten dolmen on peat mountain overlooking Lough Derg, Ireland
Forgotten dolmen at sunset on peat mountain overlooking Lough Derg, Ireland
The Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland
The Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland
Newgrange, Ireland
Newgrange, Ireland – photo by Jenn Nelson
Sphere within Sphere at Trinity College, Dublin
Sphere within Sphere sculpture by Arnoldo Pomodoro reflecting my family at Trinity College – photo by Jenn Nelson

Many thanks to Tina Silver, Mark Golding and Helena Skoog, Peter and Nikki Garrett, Paul Troy, Jantien Vandenberg and her partner Mark, and Geoff Fitzpatrick, each of whom we spent time with on location. You enhanced our experiences of England, Scotland and Ireland in many untold ways.

5 thoughts on “Trip to UK & Ireland

  1. It is great to see these pictures. These locations are special. In the ancient grid there are a lot of locations I´d also like to go to. Glad you made these pilgrimages.

    Best, Urban

  2. That’s a lot of ground you covered in three weeks! Noticed you were near Findhorn – did you visit the eco-village?

    Looking forward to any new insights your travels may have led to.

      1. Sounds like you avoided the midges at least – ‘hell hath no fury’ and all that…

        Would be great to hear your thoughts on the eco-village. Seems they have a nice little model of how humans could be living on this planet.

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