Saturday, 5 June 2010

White horses in the haze

We’re currently winding our way along the tiniest country lanes on the Oxfordshire/Wiltshire border. The tall verges are lined with beautiful wild flowers, and I’ve lost count of the number of thatched cottages we’ve passed. I’ve just had a piece of Kendal Mint Cake and the setting sun is watery in the sky. I’m not sure how life can get much better...

We’ve just been to the Uffington White Horse, which feels like an incredibly powerful and spiritual spot. The views from the top of the hill have to be some of the finest in Southern England. You can see for miles and miles; ridge after ridge disappearing into the hazy distance.

We spent the afternoon at the Avebury stone circle, which is yet another amazing place. We met up with Nathan’s mother, her partner, Ron and Nathan’s niece and nephew, Beckee and Lewis. Wonderful Celia, who regularly calls me her sin-in-law, prepared a hugely decadent picnic, complete with an eccentric trestle table, which she covered with food and drink. We set up underneath one of the standing stones, and I genuinely think that many of the people passing thought we were running some kind of opportunistic cake stall.

The Royal Banquet that was less a picnic and more a house removal!
More Pickfords than Picnic!

We rolled down grassy banks and then ran around bottles to make ourselves dizzy before attempting to run back up again. Celia was particularly entertaining when it came to her turn, ending up in a little heap barely 2 meters from where she’d started! We took a long walk around the perimeter of the stone circle, which is so large it takes in a pub and half a village. We had water fights, blew thousands of soap bubbles and played lawn darts. (I was trounced by an 11-year-old.) We baaed at sheep and were astonished when they started baaing back. Celia spent her time handing out toys to passing children. We really were the eccentrics on tour.

Celia and the bubbles

It was another relatively quiet day on board The Charles on this date 350 years ago. There was a very strong sense that things were somehow winding down. With mission accomplished, what else was there to do on board the ship? Montagu went ashore to do some fishing. They played ninepins in the evening and then had a bash at singing some barber shop music, accompanied by a cittern (or gittern), which was an early form of guitar.

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