Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 16 July 2012
God - what a few days I have had. I'll keep it brief.
The mad search for an old Volvo being sold by mad old men culminated in a drive up to Newbury (Hermitage, actually) via the M4 in a friend's car, and a drive back via the A4 - it being a much prettier road and a lot less expensive to break down on in an unknown car.
The roads are almost parallel - the A route was the old coaching one to London - but just after the turn off for Avebury, it skirts around Silbury Hill, the largest man-made mound in Europe.
It 'skirts around' it, because - despite being brilliant engineers - even the Romans decided to put a bend in the road, rather than demolish it or cut a tunnel through the middle. It is an awesome and mysterious sight, and I never tire of looking at it, whilst trying not to crash into the back of other motorists who are also staring to their right, when we all should be looking dead ahead.
Way back in the 1670s, my hero John Aubrey rode from Marlborough to Bath, to meet Charles 2nd and give him a personal guided tour of it and the Avebury stone circle. I agree that Avebury far surpasses Stonehenge in impressiveness, and so - I think - did the king. Charles was enjoying a little break in our fair city and taking the waters whilst trying to avoid the locals. He had to visit the baths just after dawn! These days, they would just close them off, of course, but then it was quite easy to bump into a king - literally.
I got back on the M4 today, to re-register the 'new' car in Bristol (don't ask, I just had to), and now - you will be relieved to hear - it is all road-legal. The next trip to Silbury Hill will be for pleasure.