Showing posts with label UK trip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UK trip. Show all posts

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The enigmatic Stonehenge

The sight of Stonehenge with its broken circle of stones and mighty central trilithons standing in apparent isolation on Salisbury Plain has been mesmerising travellers for centuries. Photo by Leo Udtohan
Scene:  The 'ber' months are here, ushering in what many call the longest Christmas celebration. Merry Christmas to all! US-based psychologist Elaine Joy Auza-Meyers has won for the first time in our high school game “Who will greet first Merry Christmas on September 1.”

Scene: A community organizer (CO) posted on Facebook that a beauty queen cum cultural worker  (BQCW) claimed that she founded a five-year-old local festival.  CO said that it was a misrepresentation.  “Hello, please do not claim that. Yes, you were one of the staff working but please do not claim such a role,” CO said. BQCW had a long reply posted on her Facebook account saying she conceived, created and planned the project. “Things I will never do in my lifetime: Eat balut, smoke, illegal drugs, and reap what I did not sow,” BQCW posted on Facebook.

Seen: Actor Richard Gutierrez and family spotted on a vacation in Bohol last week.

Scene: Will Miss Bohol 2016 Glyssa Bingas Perez be the next Miss World Philippines?  Watch the pageant tonight, Sept. 3, on GMA Network at 9:30 p.m.

Scene:  Miss Bohol 2017 Pauline Amelinckx was crowned Miss JCI Visayas 2017 held  in Bacolod City. She was also adjudged Best in Festival Costume designed by Malayka Yamas and Best in Gown designed by Bohol fashion icon EJ Relampagos.

* * *
LONDON- After staying for a week at Kent county (province) in South East England,   it was time to explore other places.

I was very much delighted for I could finally see for myself the places where it all happened, the tales of Camelot, King Arthur and the wizard Merlin.

England has numerous marvels to offer, from the famous Buckingham Palace to the simple sight of a red fox in London and the British countryside.

 (L) Roel Catoto, Atty. Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine, 
your VRS and Alex Guinid at the Stonehenge, a masterpiece 
of engineering with the stones carefully arranged to 
line up with the movements of the sun.  
But the one marvel that stood out was the Neolithic monument called Stonehenge.

Our amazing host Alex Sison Guinid brought us to Stonehenge which stands alone in the vast empty tract of Salisbury plain.  Its origins date back nearly 5,000 years and it has been home to pagan religion and spiritual worship, not to be mention public debate ever since.

The entrance or admission fee for Stonehenge is £16.30 for adults (advance purchase) or £18.20 if purchased on the day. (Tip: Buying tickets in advance is essential to guarantee entrance. There is a timed ticket system in operation and advance booking is advised to avoid queues.)

Alex, who is living in London for 17 years, told us that the best time to visit the Stonehenge is during winter. The entrance is free during winter and summer solstices, but you have to contend with crowds.

Cared for by English Heritage, visitors will have a chance to understand more about the history of Stonehenge at the Visitor Center. The Neolithic houses, furnished with replica artefacts, can be found near the center. It reveal the homes in which the builders of the ancient monument might have lived. The Stonehenge Exhibition tells the story of the stones, the land and its people, with audio-visual displays and more than 250 archaeological objects and treasures from the surrounding countryside.

Your VRS discovers the gateway to mystery 
as he feels the 5,000-year-old Stonehenge 
as enigmatic, romantic and mystic.
From the Visitor Center, you will take the short bus journey to the Stones. You can walk to the Stones but it is a two- mile or 1.6 km journey and the bus runs every few minutes. For those visitors where time is short the bus offers an express two-minute journey direct to the famous Stonehenge.

There is an outer perimeter fence, but once you are through the turnstiles there is a piece of thin rope about 60cm/2feet high which keeps you back from the stones. The nearest you get is around 15m/yds away, but the view is still good.  Due to the fragile below-ground archaeology, preserved stone surfaces and prehistoric carvings, access inside the circle is possible only at certain times outside normal opening hours.

When I was closest to the Stones, I took time to appreciate and feel the history behind these huge stones.

What was this vast collection of stones intended for? Was it observatory of the moon? Cremation ground? Sun worship site? Alien landing pad? Who were the people who carried and carved these 40 ton rocks? 

Stonehenge, a mysterious circle of stones under the clear blue sky has stood like doorways to the next world on a hillside in southern England for 5,000 years.

Numerous legends have grown around the origin if Stonehenge-itself a form of almanac. Present day archaeology asserts that it was built gradually, beginning before 3000 B.C.E.

Numerous theories assert that Stonehenge was not only a temple and ancient burial ground, but also, an astronomical observatory and almanac, keyed to the summer solstice, much like the Temple of Denderah in Egypt.

Intricate astronomical computations for determining solstices, equinoxes, sunsets, sunrises, moonrises and eclipses can be derived from the relative position of the stones and their proportions.

At the center of Stonehenge lies a horseshoe-shaped group of trilithons, stone pillars standing parallel to each other with another pillar capping both to form a doorway-like structure.

Windsor Castle is one of the official residences 
of the British Royal Family. Photo by Leo Udtohan

Once numbering five sets, only three remain intact. Surrounding them is the now incomplete circle of evenly spaced monoliths, the Sarsen circle, which was once capped by a continuous ring of stones called Lintels. Like the trilithons, many have fallen into disrepute.

But the most intriguing aspect of the Stonegenge are the bluestones. The bluestones are situated between the Sarsen circle and the inner monument and much smaller than the other formations. Once numbering as many as 10 only very few remain. Each of the stones were made to increase in size towards the center. Within the blue stone horseshoe is a massive rock of a blue-gray hue and is generally known as the Altar Stone.

What makes the stones so fascinating was that the stones could not possibly come from anywhere near Stonehenge. The most likely source was from the Preseli Mountains, 320 km away in the South Wales and transporting them was a big question.  How they traveled hundreds of miles with thousands of men helping move them across England to their current resting place?

Twice a year, on Midsummers Day or the Winter Solstice (the coldest day of the year), the rising sun perfectly aligns with the Heel Stone. From within the monument, it is as if there is a great shining ball perched right on the tip of the Heel Stone. 

Its spiritual importance should not be neglected either. It is believed that only Merlin was able to move the Stones from their original home in Ireland to Britain and that it was to become a grave. So this has led it to become a frequent place for pagans to come and worship. There are also frequent pilgrimages for followers of the Ancient Order of Druids (Earth religion) since then.

I spent more than three hours at Stonehenge trying to feel the energy and reconnect my past life. I was confident that I’ve found the gateway to mystery.

From Stonehenge, Alex brought us to Windsor, a historic market town in the English county of Berkshire.

The town is widely known as the site of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the British Royal Family.

Many swans and ducks live on the river at Windsor 
and it is an offence to kill one- although the crime is no
 longer treason, as it once was.  Photo by Leo Udtohan
Windsor Castle is one of the finest medieval castles in England and is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. It has been a royal residence for over 1,000 years and today is one of the homes of Queen Elizabeth ll.

“No trip to Windsor could possibly be complete without a visit to amazing Windsor Castle,” Alex told us while I was studying every detail of the castle.

The royal standard flies from the round tower of the Castle when the Queen is in residence.

The size of the Castle (5 hectares/13 acres) is breath taking, in fact it is the largest and oldest occupied Castle in the world and it’s where Her Majesty The Queen chooses to spend most of her private weekends.

Alex shared that to know if Queen Elizabeth II is in her residence, we just need to look at the round tower.

“Look at the flag flying from the Castle’s Round Tower; if it’s the Royal flag, the Queen is inside,” he said.

Windsor Castle offers something for everyone, and with so many areas to explore  like the magnificent State Apartments, the St. George’s Chapel, the Queeen Mary’s Doll’s House and the changing of the guard, it would take at least two to three hours to see it all.

Many swans and ducks live on the river at Windsor. Each summer there is a process known as
Swan Upping which checks the identity and health of each of the swans, and adds tags to new cygnets (baby swans).

Your VRS with the swans. 
Queen Elizabeth II attended the ceremony in 2009 in her role as “Seigneur of the Swans” and is a passionate fan of the hundreds of swans that swim and nest on the River Thames beneath the Castle walls.

All wild mute swans in Britain are considered to be property of the Crown.  It is considered an offence to kill a wild mute swan though centuries ago their meat was considered a delicacy.

“The Queen owns them,” warned Alex when he saw me feeding the swans.  

“I am sure Her Majesty will be glad to hear that someone is feeding her swans,” I said.

The birds are now protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and killing or injuring a swan used to be classed as treason under a law dating back to the 12th century.

After Windsor, we returned to London to enjoy London at night. Whether you're jetlagged, insomniac or wired, London at night is a vibrant place.


Thanks for your letters, all will be answered. Comments welcome at, follow leoudtohanINQ at Twitter /Facebook.