steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Travels with my Father, and a Henge Confessional

An odd experience driving back from my mother's this afternoon. On impulse I decided not to take my usual route (via Salisbury) but to head north through the Test valley, then take the A303 past Stonehenge before meeting up with my usual road a few miles before Longleat. It's a slightly longer route, but takes exactly the same time on account of including a stretch of dual carriageway. All the same, I don't think I've ever driven to Bristol that way before.

From the minute I set off, the car was filled with the scent of sandalwood. It's a smell I strongly associate with my father, who used it as an ingredient in his massage oils. It lasted until I (I actually wrote "we" first time) reached the barrows around Stonehenge, then slowly faded as I approached Bristol. Not coincidentally, I suspect, this route - the valley road, and the road past Stonehenge - are ones I travelled with him more than with anyone else.

It's strange I don't go to Stonehenge more, really. I think there's a kind of snobbishness attached to my feelings about it, which does me no credit. Ever since I read John Aubrey's opinion that Avebury "does as much exceed in greatness the so reknowned Stonehenge, as a cathedral doth a parish Church," I've disdained the more famous monument, and all the more so since they put the fence up. It's not just that you can't touch the stones; but in the relative blankness of Salisbury Plain distance makes them look like a stage prop, and of indeterminate size. I expect to see Spinal Tap.

Still, I feel bad about this now - my father was always very hot on intellectual snobbery - and will make a penitential pilgrimage there soon, and pay the entrance fee.
Tags: real life
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