Saturday, May 23, 2009

Friday – Festival Time!

I awake at 7:00 am. I go back to sleep till 8:30. Ah, the joys of sleeping in.
Then reality sets in and we must break camp and move on. We dismantle our tents and pack, then make breakfast before setting out. This morning I make blueberry pancakes. Mmmm. Just add water, thank you, Krusteaz. Yes, I did bring a small bottle of syrup. What would pancakes be without syrup? Some luxuries cannot be left out, even when camping halfway 'round the world.

We're back on the canal. We know this will take us all the way to Trowbridge (about 7 miles) where we can catch a train back to Salisbury. Along the way, we stop to chat with a fellow working on his boat. He is a helicopter mechanic who is out of work. It seems the bad economy has touched everyone.

By the way, these Brits are a friendly and chatty sort! Rarely does a person pass by without a “Mornin,” “Afternoon,” or “Cheers.” almost always followed by some sort of questions and various responses: Biking about are you? You've got quite a bit of gear there, don't you! Where are you from? On holiday are you? How long will you be staying? I've got a cousin lives in Virginia. I suppose that's not very close to Arizona. I've never been there, but I've seen pictures of the Grand Canyon. That is in Arizona isn't it? So what do you think of your new president, this Obama fellow? Bit of a mess the economy's in right now, eh?

At least one can say that the art of conversation is not lost in merry old England!

It's actually good that they are this way, as we often need to ask for directions. We do so in Trowbridge to get to the railway station. One woman says she is headed that direction and actually helps us pull our bikes up some steps! I doubt that would happen in the states, or if so, it would be rare. We take the train back to Salisbury as we squeeze our bikes with paniers onto the end of the bike car. The train is quite full as the weekend is approaching.

Back in Salisbury we head for another campground, this one accessible by a very nice bike and foot path, about a 5-10 minute ride from the center of town. The hosts remember Carl (“The chap from Arizona who was backpacking last year, you remember dear.”)

We set up camp, have some fruit and cheese, and then head into town. We stop for a “cream tea” with scones, clotted cream and jam.

Then it's off to the King's Head Inn pub for some blog posting with free Internet. There must be something about Carl and me (or at least one of us) as there is one drunk in the pub who glams on to us. “Using the Internet are you? I use the computer to play chess. Sorry to bother you, I won't disturb you again.” Five minutes later, “I'm sorry to disturb you, I use the computer for chess. Do you play chess? OK, sorry for the interruption.” Three more times. Do we have signs on our backs?

The Salisbury Art & Music Festival is quite famous, and tonight it begins. We head to the Market Square where the festivities begin. The crowd is milling about waiting for the main event to begin. Meanwhile, street performers are doing magic, juggling, balloon sculptures, and other interesting acts. There is a couple with a pram (baby carriage) that has large vegetables in it, all with little plastic eyes and facial pieces, and all dressed as babies. Their act consists of giving a vegetable baby to a small child, and then having the child “feed” the baby using a baby bottle filled with some sort of green juice. Inventive these Brits!

A juggler does a very nice “mute” act and shows the children that they can hold a spinning ball.

The Vice mayor (on the left) and Mayor of Salisbury.

Now comes the main event. A troupe of French performers and drummers begin to march to cadence among the crowd. They march in circles around small gatherings of people as they continue to drum and shout.

Often, they will form a line, shoulder to shoulder and march forward, forcing the crowd to retreat!

This goes on for some time until they all reach their destination: a large crane with a mobile-like contraption that has a space at the top for a trapeze artist and then seven other perches for the drummers. The crane takes them high into the sky as they drum and perform. It is an amazing performance that almost defies description.

An incredible opening to the two-week festival. We ride back to the campground and turn in.

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