Summer Solstice 2011

June 21, 2011 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: history, philosophy, photography, travel, Zen.

It’s been a few years since I last travelled down to Stonehenge. It was a Saturday night, I’d seen my mate’s band “Messiah of None” play at The Star Inn, Guildford, and the trip down the M3/A303 was a last minute post-pub decision.

Unfortunately the rest of the gang were in no fit state to stay up until sunrise, so I journeyed south on my own. The trip itself was quick but the queues from the Solstice Park (an industrial estate not a pagan-friendly car depository) were horrendous – I sat in the almighty traffic jam from midnight for a couple of hours!

But, once in, it was a great experience; the biggest crowd ever (36,500) attended the summer solstice that year and it was great to be a part of it.

These last two years? Well, it’s not been the same since the car broke down. My gorgeous Subaru still sits on the drive and cycling to Stonehenge and back on a school day is a bit impractical.

And this morning I was still up working when the sun rose; rather than a blazing ball of heathen-inspiring glory, we got a sky that was a brighter shade of grey than when the street lights were on.

Next year I hope to have the gearbox fixed on the car and to take the day off so that my daughter can experience her first ever Stonehenge summer solstice, but until then there’s the winter solstice, the shortest day – and with the clear, cold season’s skies, we could be lucky enough to capture the old stones and the ancient ball of fire in the sky in all their glory, much like photographer Keiran Doherty did in winter 2009. (Kieran’s a client of my friends at 2020, the professional photo printing lab in Farnborough.)

Stonehenge - Kieran Doherty

Stonehenge photo © 2011 Kieran Doherty

So, for all you hippies, heathen and lovers of the cycles of nature, have a happy solstice and enjoy the longest day – make use of the light, stay up late, go out on your bikes, appreciate the lasting light because from tomorrow, the days are getting shorter again.

NB. This just in – 18,000 people still managed to turn up at Stonehenge this Tuesday morning according to the BBC. That’s still a great crowd, except for the fact that the Beeb choose to focus on the fact that there were 20 arrests for minor drug offences. I don’t smoke pot but I think arresting people for it is a waste of Police time, effort and money and the BBC reporters, paid for by you and I, should be reporting on the 99.9% of law-abiding attendees and their actions.

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