A Weekend On The Ridgeway
“Looks like it’s brightening up yonder”. Not for the first time this week I couldn’t help feeling overwhelmed with the British optimism in the face of truly apauling weather. The ‘bright’ area my brother was pointing out was a slightly lighter shade of grey than the rest of the sky, but as I tightened my collar to prevent any further ingress of drizzle and turned my back on the howling gale I couldn’t quite muster his enthusiasm for the possibility of an imminent climatic improvement.
I find myself now observing the British if not exactly as an outsider then from the fringe. The eternal optimism regarding the weather amuses me. Shorts and sunglasses are always at hand in case the sun makes an appearance. If the weather forecaster tells us that there will be warmth and sunshine the population becomes exited and looks forward to it, never for a moment questioning the accuracy of the prediction, whilst it the forecast is for inclemency the Great British public will all agree that the meteorological office’s efforts are more likely than not inaccurate and it will in all likelihood be a balmy weekend. Even if the weather is apauling the English man, and woman, is not going to be put off. On Sunday morning in the village of Avebury it was blowing a gale, freezing cold and drizzling. Was such dire weather going to stop a large gathering of folk from running forty kilometres along a muddy trail? Never. The bulldog spirit was born from the British climate I am sure.
The eccentricity does not stop at running in the rain, not for a moment. Arriving at Avebury on Saturday afternoon we decide that before the black sky turned to rain we should visit the prehistoric stones that the village is famous for. There, in amongst the 5000 year old standing stones were groups of people dressed in what can only be described as an eccentric manner (one man even had antlers on his head) conducting pagan ceremonies such as baby naming and marriages.
We, Dicki and I, were in Avebury as it was the destination for our first mini adventure of my summer in England. The Ridgeway dates back 5000 years and is considered to be Britain’s oldest road. Whilst not challenging from a mountain biking point of view it does make for a splendid day or two out in the countryside. The route is littered with historic and pre-historic sites; Iron Age forts, medieval burial mounds and a prehistoric henge. For a fairly easy off road ride through England’s countryside it is highly recommended.