It’s November and the weather is alternatively grey and grim or sunny and seriously cold, and the news is pretty dreadful these days, so I thought I’d cheer myself up by remembering a lovely bus journey I took on a beautiful day in October – when it was as warm as June.
As part of my Ginkgo Projects/Bloor Homes commission to write new poems that engage with the landscape and heritage of the area in and around Amesbury, Wiltshire, I bought a return ticket to travel on the number 49 bus from Trowbridge to Avebury. A persistent knee injury is making it difficult for me to drive a car at the moment – and you can’t deny that travelling by public transport is a greener option than taking a car, plus it’s much easier to observe the scenery. So, on a glorious October morning, I packed a sandwich, a pen, a notebook and my mobile phone and set off for Avebury.
At about 10am on a Tuesday, I had the whole of the front row to myself. It was such a treat to be driven! I found myself thinking that I was missing out by not taking the bus more often. The downside is the time it takes, of course. But on a clear Autumn day of gorgeous blue skies, and with no pressure to do anything but look out of the window, think and write poems, I settled in for the ride.
Another bonus of travelling by bus are the conversations you take part in and overhear. Even before I set off, while waiting at the bus stop in Trowbridge, I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen in ages.
Is that you? I couldn’t see you in the sun. You’re going to Avebury? Well that’s where you’ll find some magic…mind you, I saw a lady in the queue last week, really little with the tiniest feet, and I was staring at her tiny feet and she saw me staring and put out her tiny hand and looked into my eyes and smiled at me and said “Hello! My name’s Fiona!” and I took her tiny hand in mine and said “Hello Fiona – really lovely to meet you!” And that was a magic moment.
Once on the bus, there were new snippets of conversations to collect at every bus stop. From somewhere, I heard two people fill the air with maliciousness about a man who’d done them wrong. In Devizes, our driver braked to let a lady with a limp cross the road.
Thank you for not killing me!
Meanwhile, two fellow bus passengers continued with their character assassination
… indistinguishable, indistinguisable…DIPSTICK.
Avebury was as beautiful and mysterious as always. When visiting henges, I personally prefer Avebury to Stonehenge. For one thing there is no charge (and no queues) – although there is a charge to go into the adjacent National Trust owned Avebury Manor which is highly recommended – and the public share the site with sheep who graze freely around the standing stones.
All in all, my day out in Avebury was extremely enjoyable and I made lots of notes for new poems. On the bus journey home, I learned a flu jab had been given, a woman has put away her summer trousers and a bus fare, found in the bottom of a school bag, “saved a person’s life”.