In SatNav We Trust
A search for meaning through the Historic Counties of England
…a journey through ideas of science and belief,
all the while searching for meaning and a bed for the night.
Or was that the other way around?
A philosophical travelogue exploring belief, rationalism, science and religion. A personal journey, autobiographical account, philosophical musings & characters along the way – a unique interpretation of life’s big questions using historic architecture, humour, heritage, history & engineering, to explore & reflect on concepts of science & belief.
In SatNav We Trust is my current work in progress, it is a travelogue about a journey through every one of England’s Historic Counties.
Starting on May morning in Oxford, finishing six weeks later I found myself in an aircraft museum sort of wondering how I ended up there. Each day I had no idea where I was going but along the way I experienced the kindness of strangers, witnessed injustice from bureaucracy and decency from individuals, provoking emotional responses and ironic humour.
This is a travelogue just like any other, describing the day to day journey, experiences with people and the serendipity of travel. There were people stitched up by their local council and people who would give away their last Kit-Kat. That’s not to mention the Forrest Gump of Princess Risborough, the midnight explosion or the drunken speedboat incident.
But this is also a travelogue unlike any other in that it is an exploration of how we live our lives and what makes our lives worth living. Spending time on the road, faced with finding food and shelter, sort of concentrates your mind until you get used to the insecurity of your existence and you start to wonder about other matters.
Is life meaningful with only an interest in engineering and science, can the awe of the universe be meaningful enough? Whatever happened to that ex-girlfriend who lived in that town you passed through and why do you feel that way, or do you feel that way just because it’s raining? Why does fresh air taste so good in the morning and why does stuff like that matter? In the end I found myself thinking about what we have of value in our lives and whether it matters that we might value things that might not be real. After the personal tragedies of whatever journey you are on, you start to question the order of things.
In SatNav We Trust will be published in September. If you’re interested in the possibilities of significant experiences in everyday life, the big questions of meaning and value or simply where you can find England’s best sausage in a bun, then search for the hashtag #InSatNavWeTrust on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Return here for further news or for updates subscribe to my newsletter. How else will you find out what I did in the county where you grew up or even where you live now? How will you know if I stalked you on the way around?
The Historic Counties is a specific term to describe those counties that were established in English history before the boundary changes since the Victorian period. They include those counties that have disappeared such as Rutland or Westmorland, and Yorkshire as a single county. They don’t include the modern metropolitan boroughs such as the cities and unitary authorities.
I decided on the Historic Counties because I simply liked the idea of them. I still think of Yorkshire as a single county and I’d heard of places like Rutland that had disappeared so I decided to find out more. The other issue is that I was going to have to camp to do this trip so camping in big cities like Greater Manchester or Birmingham wasn’t very appealing, whereas the surrounding counties seemed like a much better idea. I didn’t contend with the fact that the historic county of Middlesex had been swallowed up by London so finding somewhere to camp there was going to be interesting. Of course, lots of things seem like a good idea at the time.