My memory takes me back to 1972 and I have just queued up with my family for what seems like a lifetime on a drab day outside the British Museum. We have just managed to get into the room where the treasures of Tutankhamun are on show and I am finally in front of the famous death mask taking in the awesomeness of it all, when an over zealous mother elbows me out of the way and thrusts her own children forward, the brief vision now fading away in a milieu of struggling families. Goodness, it was like a rugby scrum in there!
Forty two years later I'm walking around the top of Beacon Hill towards the grave of Lord Carnarvon, sponsor of Howard Carter's 1922 excavation in the Valley of the Kings. It's a beautiful day and being a Monday there's hardly a soul about, just the ever present hum of the A34 a long way below me. The last time I came up here must have been before 1972 when my parents would bring us here for a Sunday afternoon runabout and tell us about the Tutankhamun stories. It's all pretty much as I remember it, the grave surrounded by railings, the view to Highclere Castle, the stout earthworks of the hill fort, the wild flowers and butterflies and the singing of skylarks above. In fact the only thing that has changed is the A34 which must have been a very quiet affair pre-1972. It's the A34 that got me back here as well, having travelled up and down it on numerous occasions, always strongly aware of the hill's presence, but it was always a case of 'in too much of a hurry, not the right weather or nobody else in the car wanting to do the mammoth climb to the top'. Well today is my day and all the conditions are spot on.