Having found out that nearby Wiltshire is the world crop circle centre. I was excited already. I found out that www.cropcircleaccess.com is the place to find out where the latest ones have appeared, and you can phone up to find whether the farmer whose field it's on is allowing access. I was lucky – there were a couple of fresh ones only a mile or so apart, and the farmer was letting people on. An hour and a half later, in the middle of the Wiltshire countryside, we noticed a couple of cars parked where they wouldn't normally be, and we stopped and got out. Across the field we could see a couple of distant heads, and, to our horror, a combine harvester. Had we arrived moments too late? I hadn't travelled all this way to visit a crop semicircle.
We made our way across the huge wheatfield.
Already it felt like we were in a different world, with the sound of traffic replaced by the gentle shushing of acres of wheat in the breeze. We reached the brow of the hill, and were standing on the flattened stalks of the outer circle. A handful of people were sitting silently and contentedly in the centre. We walked around then walked to the middle along a spoke and joined them. The circle was extremely simple, a ten-metre flat circle joined by a few spokes to a thin, one-metre outer ring. If this was made by an alien, it was made by a useless one on his first lesson.
It was certainly noticeably peaceful in the centre, although this could have been down to sitting still in a quiet place rather than having our stress sucked out by a lay line.
After a few snaps, we repeated our walk through the wheatfield – the most memorable experience so far – to go to the next circle, which had a bit more of an exciting design. One of the friendly couples told us the exact obscure track to drive up along the road. We did what they said and walked up the track, where a small group of lost people were gathered. It turned out they were crop circle tourists – another species I had no clue existed – visiting from Cambridge for a couple of days. A young chap told me that although humans can make crop circles, 'true' crop circles have their stalks bent in a unique way ...
... and traces of metals can be found in the soil. The tourist group sent a runner across the fields to find the circle, and she waved us in. This circle had more of an intricate design – perfect triangular islands inside a circle. More interesting, for sure, but not mind-blowing like the giant fractal patterns I'd seen on the Internet. After examining the shapes I lay down for a few minutes and looked up at the perfect blue sky, willing a UFO to appear. I tried to put myself in the aliens' tinfoil, pointy shoes and work out why they would do this. The only conclusion that made sense that it was teenage aliens borrowing their parents' spacecraft, drink a couple of litres of mercury, and go and tag some planets.
A few souvenir snaps and we were off. It was a brief experience, but it grabbed my interest. I'm not going to be a crop circle tourist, but crop circles will stay in my consciousness from now on, and I'm going to keep half an eye on the night sky for a glimpse of a Venutian Banksy.