I wasn't expecting an epic day, but, after a cup of tea in the top car park, a few of us wandered over to the White Horse.
Vit's first few bold efforts got him nowhere. Then it got a bit stronger, though still off to the east a little, with swifts marking the thermals; I had a couple of vertical take-offs, the second of which took me up but then down a couple of fields behind the Milk bowl.
After a sweaty walk back, I clipped in again without my down jacket - just a thin fleece over my shirt. I bet I get to cloudbase now, I thought. As the swifts darted about again, I draped my wing over Vit's, disentangled myself, and took off into a proper climb.
It seemed solid and steady, and I was pleased to see Vit climbing nicely in it below me, while Nik and Pete soon also began going up. After a while I noticed Pete climbing better than me over launch, so I went to join him, as Nik battled on lower down. Vit headed back to launch himself, and got very high there - I remembered that he'd said he would only be flying locally today.
At about 3,500 feet Pete and I started drifting in a long zero, while Nik, still climbing below us, offered a reserve option in case we lost our thermal. I'd been concerned not to get too close to Redlands drop zone, but after the first climb there was enough west in the wind not to worry. By now I was getting chilly, but I reminded myself that I'd been much colder than this when I flew 50k in March, even with several more layers, so told myself to tough it out. I wondered if I had some heat packs in my cockpit, but never really felt the need.
Nik eventually headed more north, as I set off north-east with Pete behind me and higher. I remembered Kirsty saying that Ogbourne golf club often produces a climb, so headed there, but lost almost all my hight. I was wondering how the golfers would react to me landing on one of their fairways when a red kite started circling. Up I went, back to over three thousand.
I'd now lost sight of Pete as well as Nik. Ahead of me was a wide band of gloomy grey cloud, which looked most unlikely to let me stay up under it. I considered cross-winding off to the east, along the edge of the sunny area. But the best cloud looked like the one back the way I'd come, so I turned and flew back to Ogbourne. A lorry depot just before the golf course produced another climb out. I wondered if I might spend the whole afternoon climbing out of Ogbourne and flying back to it. Instead I decided to head for the shops and bus stops of Aldbourne. A sinky glide meant that I didn't make it.
I packed up and got out my hitching sign. It didn't work at first, but at last a nice man in a Land Rover scooped me up and took me to Marlborough, collecting his two very friendly dogs on the way - wire-haired Wislers, he said.
Nik had meanwhile got a lift straight back to the hill, and kindly came to collect me from Marlborough High Street. Pete had also had a good hitch back, to complete a small but very pleasant adventure for the three of us.