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  • clivenmel

April 20th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Friday April 17th � nothing to report!  Basically it rained most of the day and as we weren�t in a rush to go anywhere we just stayed put and had a lazy day!   Saturday April 18th � We upped sticks after breakfast, around 10.30 and headed into Devizes.  Pretty uneventful journey and we soon arrived at the visitor moorings at the top of the Caen Hill Flight.  These are great moorings, there was plenty of space and best of all we can stay for 72 hours!  Also, we had a great TV signal which meant Clive could watch the Grand Prix and also a 3G dongle signal which makes life a lot easier when it comes to downloading photos etc.   As soon as we had got moored up and settled in I set to and got all the laundry ready � its been a while since we managed to get to a laundry, in fact the last one was in Oxford, so I was really looking forward to having lots of clean towels and bedding, not to mention clothes!!!  It was  a great laundry with lots of machines and it was nice and clean and manned by a very nice lady who supplied us with lots of pound coins!  Whilst the laundry was washing we went to do some shopping at the local Tesco�s.   Then it was back to the boat, unpack all the laundry and the shopping and relax!   Sunday April 19th � Clive was up early, at 7.30am, in order to watch the Chinese Grand Prix � I had told him in no uncertain terms not to disturb me until a reasonable hour!  By the time I got up it was a glorious day, absolutely lovely.  Warm, sunny, blue skies, just great!  After lunch we went for a walk up into Devizes then walked down the towpath to have a peep at the top of the flight, however we found a garden centre, which I insisted on visiting as I want a plastic parasol base, the sort you fill with water, to use as support for a whirligig washing line.  There is plenty of room on our cruiser stern to accommodate one of these, when we aren�t cruising of course!  Unfortunately they didn�t have one!!!!  The fact is that the actual washing at the laundry is quite reasonably priced but the dryers are exorbitant!  If we had a clothes line it would halve the cost!  We shall keep looking for one however.  When we got back to the boat I set to and made a proper Sunday dinner with roast chicken and all the works!  This is the first time I have actually attempted anything so ambitious in my little galley but it worked a treat.  It was all delicious!   Monday April 20th � we decided yesterday that we would go on a day trip to Avebury, which is about 15 miles North of Devizes.  We had sussed out the buses and knew that there would be one at 9.05am from the market place, which was about a five minute walk from our mooring.  So we got up in good time, had breakfast, made a picnic (including the two chicken legs from our Sunday roast!), secured the boat and headed off for the bus.  It arrived spot on time and we were soon on our way.  Again it was an absolutely glorious morning so we didn�t even bother with coats.   We soon arrived in Avebury, soon being the operative word as the driver of our double-decker bus obviously thought he was a Formula One racing driver � Clive commented that he had never gone so fast in a bus before in his life!  It was a bit of a white knuckle ride I must admit, he was tearing along the country roads, overtaking a tractor etc it was a bit scary � especially when you are more used to travelling at around 3 mph!!!  Anyway, we arrived in one piece thank goodness!   The reason for our visit to Avebury is of course because of the famous Avebury Stone Circle. In fact it is the largest Neolithic henge in Europe.  It is far bigger than Stonehenge � the area inside the henge itself covers 28 acres.  For those of you not in the know, the henge is not actually the stone circle but the mound and ditch which surround the stones.  Avebury is quite complex in that there is a large circle of stones, which contains two smaller stone circles and also half of the village of Avebury!  Yes there is a church, manor house, farm, village shop etc etc all within the henge.    The Avebury ring dates back to 2600 BC and is therefore 500 older than Stonehenge.  It is an incredible place.  Some of the stones are absolutely huge, some of them up to 60 tons!  Unlike Stonehenge the stones are unworked, they are not formally shaped, however some are diamond shaped and some are columnar.    As we were wandering along the chalk path on the top of the henge we passed several people going the other way, everyone was very friendly and passed the time of day with us, however we met one lady who stopped to chat because we asked her for directions to Silbury Hill.  Her name was Lizzie and she lives nearby and visits the henge often.   We had a good long chat with her and set the world to rights!  She told us that she was seriously thinking of moving to Yorkshire!  We wholeheartedly approved, after all it is God�s own country!  We wish her well.   We continued on our trek around the henge and then decided to have our picnic as it was noon by now.  Whilst we were scoffing we noticed some activity around the stones opposite us and realised after some scrutiny through the telescope that it was a film crew!    We have no idea what the filming was about, but they did several takes of a crowd of people walking towards one of the stones � Clive thought they were witches at one point (I think he has a witch fixation!) � oh well we may never know, still it was interesting! After our picnic we headed off to the museum and got in free with our National Trust cards � yippee!  The museum was housed in a wonderful old 16th century threshing barn � it was fantastic and even has its own resident colony of bats!  It was all very interesting and gave us quite a lot of insight into the history and archaeology of the site.  This area is dotted with Neolithic remains and one of the most famous of these is Silbury Hill, which we really wanted to see, so we headed off following the instructions that Lizzie had given us in the morning. After leaving the village we followed a line of stones which formed an �avenue� and half way along there was a track up a hill and through a field of young maize.  We finally made it to the top and there was a fantastic view of Silbury Hill.  Clive is pretty sure that this is the largest manmade hill in Britain and is nearly 5000 years old.  This is Britain�s answer to the pyramids but in fact predates them by more than 400 years!  There is a school of thought which believes that the Egyptians got the idea for the construction of their pyramids from us and not the other way around!  However it really is quite a sight to see this strange, conical mound rising up from the fields. To this day nobody knows exactly what it was for, archaologists have drilled a couple of shafts into it, one from the side and one vertically from the summit but nothing has been found!  Well whatever it was for it is still here and quite amazing to see.  Whilst we were admiring Silbury Hill, we caught a glimpse of something in the field we were in, peeping over the young maize crop � again the trusty telescope confirmed a couple of female Roe Deer.   I managed to get a few pictures before they disappeared, here's one of them.  Then we heard a familiar sound, which neither of us had heard for about 30 years � a Skylark!  It flew over us on its way home, it was absolutely amazing to see and hear one after all this time.  They are now getting very rare in the British Isles so it was a real treat.   We headed off back to the village and guess what, we found a pub!  Its called the Red Lion and has obviously been around for quite some time! It also doubles up as the bus stop � how convenient!  So after a pint for him and a half of cider for me, the bus arrived and we were soon back in Devizes (though not as quickly this time!!!).   So, now we have had a few days of R and R, tomorrow we hit the Caen Hill Flight � I hope I survive!    

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