My girl la_petite_mort has long expressed a wish to drag her London posse kicking and screaming out of the Big Smoke and out into the fresh air where it’s green and luscious. After some discussion, it was agreed that the beautiful and atmospheric stone circle at Avebury is just the ticket for such an excursion: after all, what better introduction to the English countryside than the biggest Neolithic site in Europe that also happens to have a pub in the middle?

Obviously such a venture needs a bit more organising and notice than a night out in a London pub. Being the closest noder to the site and familiar with the area, I have agreed to take over the logistics. So, here we go:

When: Saturday July 14 2007 from 2pm

Where: We’ll use the Red Lion pub as a meeting place.

There are more details here. Note to Londoners – the pub gets a so/so rating on value for money, but this is in comparison to country prices, not city prices.


I want to offer people the option of a nice country walk in the afternoon. As long as it's not actually raining, we'll meet up outside the pub at approximately 2pm and go around the Circle, onto the Ridgeway, round to Silbury Hill and back again along the Causeway - about 2.5 hours' walk at a reasonably placid pace, with only the gentle climb onto the Ridgeway to offer any kind of challenge to even the delicate walker. We'll get a good look around the stone circle, dyke and ditch on the last leg of the walk.

Back in the village there is a visitor's centre, an interesting church and a Manor House with some lovely gardens to visit, as well as just the village itself, which is pretty in that fun chocolate box thatched way. As we've been there lots of times already, K9 and I will probably spread a blanket in a prominent location and wave to any stragglers. At about 6pm a delegate will be sent to the pub again to collect anyone who's chosen to arrive late and take part in the evening activities only.

The plan is to stay out on the circle at least until it gets dark. Bring some booze and food - make sure there's enough to share - as well as musical instruments, ideas for party games or whatever else you like to do when you're out on a picnic with a bunch of eccentric internet geeks. In case of bad weather we can retreat to the pub, which also does OK food and obviously drink.


Also, possibly:

Other Logistical Stuff

OK, so Avebury is a little bit remote and maybe not as easy to get out to as just a regular night in the pub. For this reason, myself and K9 can offer up to 3 people space in our car from and to Swindon train station (easily reacheable from most of the country), lpm and the Frog can take a couple of people from London NW11, and DEB has space in her car for 3 medium sized noders out of Bristol. Alternatively, bus no. 49 goes to Avebury from Swindon bus station, or of course you are welcome to drive yourself - there is plentiful Pay and Display parking 2 minutes' walk from the pub.

Our house is already pretty heavily booked up for that weekend, but we can probably manage to squeeze in one or two extra people on the Saturday night if they come with their own sleeping equipment. You could also avail yourself of a spanking new Travelodge walking distance from our house, as well as a Holiday Inn and multivarious B&Bs. There is a good chance of breakfast at ours on the Sunday morning, if you're nice to me.

A note to the undecided: Avebury is gorgeous. The Red Lion pub is nice. The Three Witches will be there. You should come.

And there was much rejoicing

Hoping I have not forgotten or omitted too many points of interest:

We - la_petite_mort, StrawberryFrog, spiregrain, and I - arrived at the Red Lion Pub in Avebury almost on time. The drive through the English countryside had not been without its interesting quirks, but we were in a good mood. LPM had brought plenty of food along, as well as beer, and so had spiregrain. I had brought nothing but myself and a rather heavy conscience, but I was assured it was okay. There was food enough as it was, so I needn't worry.

At the pub we met The Debutante, TheLady, and Wntrmute. Everyone knew everyone; I had only met Wntrmute before, but these people have a way of making you feel welcome and relaxed in the most awesome way. I soon found myself sipping a pint, listening in on the conversation, and enjoying the nice weather.

The walk around the countryside, as proposed in the meet-node above, turned out to be a gruelling almost four-hour trek through nettles and knee-deep mud, over stiles and fences, up hills and down hills... And it was great. Almost all of the time threatening clouds roiled in the horizon, but as they stayed there they didn't bother us.

In some places the path was flooded, and we were forced to crawl slowly along the grassy edges. At one point there was no way we could go on without sacrificing our shoes to the mud - so we scaled a fence, more or less elegantly, and jogged along the field on the other side until we could make it back out onto the path. While LPM was hanging over the fence flashing her super hero underwear, being helped and assisted by several noders (she was wearing a skirt, and it called for careful climbing), Deb made it her mission to keep us all from stepping on the snails. Never mind the branches and the barbed wire, and the fact that one noder was hanging upside down on a fence - as long as the snails were safe! She concentrated so much on her quest to keep the snails from being crushed underfoot that she later obliviously climbed over a stile. Not that climbing over a stile is wrong as such, but the fact that this particular stile was standing on its own, with no fence attached made it a bit superfluous.

Anyway we ended up back at the Red Lion pub, approximately at the same time, and took a much needed rest.

The weather continued to look reasonable so we decided that the planned picnic was to take place. We wanted to sit close to the standing stones, and fortunately the stone field is divided in two (by a road running right through it): one field with sheep, and one blessedly free from said woolly livestock. Dried sheep-poo seemed to indicate that they had at one point inhabited this field too, but at least the poo was dry and didn't smell. Much.

Blankets were laid out and the food placed upon them. It was a feast. I cannot remember much of it at all, but I do remember Spiregrain's... um, things, which were quite good albeit a bit on the well-done side; the bagels which had been with us from London, and the awesome hummus, which made my tongue break out (as in 'in a rash', not as in 'wildly galloping across the fields'). And then there were the beers. Old Speckled Hen, I think, and some others. Yummy.

At this point k9 arrived, very happy that we left him a bagel, and a bit later, ascorbette too made her way across the field. I never did get to tell her about all of ascorbic's darker sides, but on the other hand 1) she may not have believed me, and/or 2) she probably already knows. I think the truth in many ways can be stranger than my fiction.

After having finished off just about all of the food we arranged ourselves in front of one of the standing stones for a group picture. I forget whose camera was used, but ascorbette acted as the photographer.

As dusk began to wet the grass with dew we retreated to the pub for a nice pint - or, for some of us, a cup of coffee or cocoa. We were pretty knackered after the long walk, so before too long we packed up our stuff and left the standing stones of Avebury huddling together in the dark. It was the end of a really nice day out in the company of really nice people. Luckily for me, we all ended up in TheLady's and k9's house, where four of us spent the night in luxury, after a very interesting and fun evening.

The next morning TheLady cooked us an awesome brunch with Greek Eggs, and we watched "Cars". A perfect way to end a great weekend in the company of great people!

A few pictures can be found here. More on facebook. Ask, and ye shall be told.

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