The big cheeses of southern English cross-country paragliding assembled at Milk Hill White Horse with little preliminary Telegram chat. Distant goals were discussed on the hill - but the incoming front could already be seen in the distance. I was the first to launch, and found a powerful little climb, but decided that it would be silly to take it over the back so early, and alone.
But the overcast arrived as Alex Coltman climbed out on his own, and I began to fear that the day might be a damp squib. But with so many high-quality pilots looking for lift, it was found. I took off into the bottom of a good cycle, and was rather pleased with myself for catching up with a gaggle that included Kirsty Cameron, Tim Pentreath, Steve Watts, Tom Janikowski and Laurie Lawson. As we reached the top of the climb, I resisted the temptation to shoot off on my own - it would have been madness to leave such excellent company.
But on glide, of course, my Calypso struggled to keep up with the various two-liners, although a Niviuk hung back with me for a while. As I saw the gaggle climb again ahead, I also noticed a red Zeno 2 - possibly Craig Atwell? - low before the M4, but climbing. I headed towards him, but found an excellent climb before I reached him.
Sadly, that was about it; as so often, it became hard to stay up once I left the high ground and entered the Vale of White Horse. I glided to the ground (but, looking at XContest later, I realised that I had been much closer behind the gaggle than I realised, so should probably have headed in its direction, even if the timing hadn't been quite right to get into its climb)
After packing up and walking along the field margin, I saw a gap in the hedgerow opening on to a main road. I stepped across a little ditch - and discovered that what I thought was half an inch of mud was in fact knee deep. I wrung out my right sock and used my water to wash off some of the sludge before hitching a lift into Wantage with a mother and daughter who were on their way back from the council tip - their apology for the state of their car was entirely unnecessary, given the state of my trouser leg.
In Wantage I just missed a bus to Faringdon, so took one to Didcot, where I got the train to Swindon. By the time I was on the Pewsey bus it was raining, so I had a very damp hike from Oare up to the Golden Ball car park, and an even damper ride home on my scooter.
Much later I took Joe Dart and Tom J up to the hill from Pewsey station - they were among the select few who stayed ahead of the bad weather and flew to Cambridgeshire.