Day One: Europe

Sheffield to London

Arrived at Sheffield Midland Station on time to find that someone had stolen the electrical signal cables at Clay Cross and all trains were cancelled. My first thought was perhaps they wouldn’t have had to if Thatcher hadn’t closed the mines and destroyed the only source of work in the area.

..... read more ozbus ......

So we started our 15,000 mile journey to Australia by catching the train to Cleethorpes and changing at Doncaster. To make things even worse the train was infected by a group of foul mouth West Bromwich supporters who constantly reminded me why I am leaving this cultureless country. The train was full and no one was prepared to say anything to them for fear of being abused or worse. God bless Thatcher and Blair for lining their pockets at the expense of education and transport. Our journey of a lifetime couldn’t have had a poorer start.

We were told to catch any London bound train by porters at Sheffield. When we arrived at Doncaster chaos ensued, we were shunted from one platform to another as train after train failed to materialize. Eventually we bordered the 14.35 to Kings Cross just to be told via the train intercom to make our way back on to the platform. When we made our way back an irate porter told everyone (literally hundreds of people) to get back on the train and ignore any further instructions. Phew! On the bright side of things we bonded with a nice couple. Anne even wished they were coming with us but sadly they were not. We had an interesting conversation as I ordered food. While waiting for my order of cappuccino, a can of Stella and cheese and ham and egg and Red Leicester toasties we attempted to calculate the cost using, signs, body language and facial expressions. His estimate of 26 pounds was slightly more expensive than my meager 11 pounds. A couple minutes later I was relieved to pay £12. 10. Anne, looking over my shoulder, has just chastised me for writing such content, being convinced, no one will be interested in such trivia.

Found our way to Chris and Jo’s in Ilford, had a lovely meal before making our way to The Ilford Spoon and the then to what turned out to be the highlight of the first day the Ilford Catholic Club for a couple of pints of Guiness, the latest community gossip and finally the all important raffle which fortunately we did not win: a joint of meat for Sunday dinner.

Finally went to bed about 12.45 am well inebriated, tired and very, very happy.

London to Goar

I awoke with a start to Chris’s banging on the door, him bringing us the time and a cup of tea. Thanks to Chris and Jo we made it safely across London to Cleopatra’s Needle, the bus and the awaiting media from the BBC. After introductions with Mark, Andrew and our fellow travellers we were interviewed for the One Show with our backs to a beautiful emerging dawn across the Thames, illuminating of all things The Festival Hall. Being a member of the Grenoside Sword team it seemed ironical that our bus journey should start out facing the building where Grenoside danced in 1951 to celebrate peace and end in Boston dancing with them in March

..... read more ozbus ......
Arrived at Sheffield Midland Station on time to find that someone had stolen the electrical signal cables at Clay Cross and all trains were cancelled. My first thought was perhaps they wouldn’t have had to if Thatcher hadn’t closed the mines and destroyed the only source of work in the area.

So we started our 15,000 mile journey to Australia by catching the train to Cleethorpes and changing at Doncaster. To make things even worse the train was infected by a group of foul mouth West Bromwich supporters who constantly reminded me why I am leaving this cultureless country. The train was full and no one was prepared to say anything to them for fear of being abused or worse. God bless Thatcher and Blair for lining their pockets at the expense of education and transport. Our journey of a lifetime couldn’t have had a poorer start.

We were told to catch any London bound train by porters at Sheffield. When we arrived at Doncaster chaos ensued, we were shunted from one platform to another as train after train failed to materialize. Eventually we bordered the 14.35 to Kings Cross just to be told via the train intercom to make our way back on to the platform. When we made our way back an irate porter told everyone (literally hundreds of people) to get back on the train and ignore any further instructions. Phew! On the bright side of things we bonded with a nice couple. Anne even wished they were coming with us but sadly they were not. We had an interesting conversation as I ordered food. While waiting for my order of cappuccino, a can of Stella and cheese and ham and egg and Red Leicester toasties we attempted to calculate the cost using, signs, body language and facial expressions. His estimate of 26 pounds was slightly more expensive than my meager 11 pounds. A couple minutes later I was relieved to pay £12. 10. Anne, looking over my shoulder, has just chastised me for writing such content, being convinced, no one will be interested in such trivia.

Found our way to Chris and Jo’s in Ilford, had a lovely meal before making our way to The Ilford Spoon and the then to what turned out to be the highlight of the first day the Ilford Catholic Club for a couple of pints of Guiness, the latest community gossip and finally the all important raffle which fortunately we did not win: a joint of meat for Sunday dinner.

Finally went to bed about 12.45 am well inebriated, tired and very, very happy..

Sunday 23rd September: London Embankment I awoke with a start to Chris’s banging on the door, him bringing us the time and a cup of tea. Thanks to Chris and Jo we made it safely across London to Cleopatra’s Needle, the bus and the awaiting media from the BBC. After introductions with Mark, Andrew and our fellow travellers we were interviewed for the One Show with our backs to a beautiful emerging dawn across the Thames, illuminating of all things The Festival Hall. Being a member of the Grenoside Sword team it seemed ironical that our bus journey should start out facing the building where Grenoside danced in 1951 to celebrate peace and end in Boston dancing with them in March. The trip down to Dover went smoothly, caught an early ferry and France passed by unnoticed. After a long journey past Brussels, Brugge, Aachen and Trier we arrived at 6.45pm at a very quaint campsite in St Gaor on the river Rhine. When I walked into the bar the owner’s wife, a celebrity in the area, threw her hands in the air exclaiming I was Joe Cocker. I didn’t no whether to take it as a compliment or an insult. It seems my 25 years of teaching has had the same effect on my face as the drugs, fags and beer have had on the ex gas board plumber from Crooks. However, the river, site, food and accommodation all lived up to expectations: for an extra 2 euro we upgraded to a caravan. All in all a very pleasant day passed as we skirted by the birth places of two of my favourite historical figures .i.e. Charlemagne and Carl Marx. With very little ceremony we enjoyed a hearty menu consisting of a tasty salad starter, pork, peas and fritz and peaches and ice cream all washed down with copious amounts of passable German wine and excellent larger. Afterwards we experienced a surreal session in the night club situated under the restaurant which brought back memories of a similar evening in the Ecuadorian Amazon. On this occasion instead of UB40 singing ‘Red Red Wine’ Hermie the campsite owner played a selection of umpah music through an enormous box speaker while equally as loud some opera singer stood arms under her breasts singing Wagner as the backdrop to a TV presentation about Rhine wines. This kind of evening is obviously a regular occurrence because the ceiling of the club is covered in beer mats containing messages posted by previous travellers and revellers. Just as on Facebook Lucy Allen dominated with a message for all of us that ‘the first bus is better than ours’ This appropriately leads me on to the crew and our fellow travellers. Simon Caudel’s observations in the Independent that the trip could become big brother on wheels is a lot closer than even he could image. The bus consists of, at the moment, 35 travellers and three crew members. The crew, strangely enough, seem more normal than those sitting behind them. The bus is being driven by JonPal a coach driver from Brugge, Belgium. Over a beer last night he told me the story of how he came to be here. Earlier in the year he was fined €750 for breaking some EU driving regulation and was so pissed off that he handed in his notice. His boss asked him if he would reconsider his decision and drive his coach to Calcutta. After a little convincing that the boss was not taking the micky he jumped at the opportunity. After a day and bit of driving us I’m very glad he agreed to because he’s a very steady driver and a thoroughly nice person. However, I daren’t ask him what the offence was for just in case it changes my opinion of him. The backup driver Marcus is a Kiwi returning after working in Edinburgh. However, normality stops with the leader of the bus Layton an Irish Pakistani ex PE Teacher with striking dark eyes and a very strong County Down ascent. On the other hand the travellers are something very different to a normal coach party and I use the term ‘party’ very wisely because a certain small section are intent on doing exactly that all the way to Sydney much to the annoyance of Leighton who is at the moment adopting a similar approach to another of my heroes (all in one day) Napoleon. Just as that great figure attempted to steer France from anarchy after the Revolution Leyton is trying to work the same magic on the bus. At the moment the trip is more Animal Farm than Big Brother, although I suppose they are similar. I am convinced the outbreak of violence is more imminent here on the bus than up the road in Iran and Pakistan. I just can’t wait!
Day two started very early with breakfast in a kind of garage area under the restaurant. I attempted to jog up and down to get warm and was compliment by Simone who approves of personal fitness. It was at this point that I noticed that there was still someone asleep in the caravan next to ours and fearing Leighton would carry out his much promised threat to leave anyone not ready to go I gave the door a good rattling. The drive during the morning up the Rhine Valley was beautiful even though it was through the bus window. It had not occurred to me before that we would be seeing the world through the buses window and this would also affect the quality of the photographs. If we had been driving in our own car we would have been stopping every few minutes and it would take 12 years not weeks to get to Sydney. We did stop at Heidelberg and were allowed to two hours to sightsee and take photos. The weather was beautiful and the old university town looked magnificent. I hoped to see students’ walking about promoting facial scars from duels still being fought but the place was a picture of fine architecture and calm and tranquility. We arrived at our next stop, a campsite in Prague. As we made camp the cooks began preparing the evening meal. After the meal we settled down in a circle and began singing and playing. Leighton had brought a guitar which was a great improvement on the travel guitar I’d bought especially for the trip. The party gang set off into town to find the night life. Day 3 Tuesday 24th Sept 07: Prague Day two started at the now regular time 7.30am with the most beautiful sunrise. Those from the drinking party who managed to emerge briefly for breakfast very quickly disappeared back to their pits. Ben climbed out of his sack at 5.00pm and missed Prague. After the now typical 10 minute breakfast of cereals, toast and a lukewarm cup of tea we set off into the centre. We parked the bus behind the palace overlooking a sunny skyline and I disembarked in shorts and tee shirt. As the coach slipped away back to the campsite the sky turned grey and then black. Within 60 minutes it was pouring down. We spent most of the day in two bars with Gordon, Ted and Mac. We’d been driven into a bar come pizzeria by the weather and had an omelet and the first beer of the day. We had the second in the Café Monmatre once the haunt of Franz Kafka and the third and fourth in the old communist bar. After a very short look around the wet and cold streets leading from the bar to Wenceslas Square we were forced back to the bar by the cold and my prostate. I had a similar experience on my last visit to this beautiful city but on that occasion we stood in the cold watching a strange procession of very large men dressed like the blues brothers’ but carrying red roses. At one point I was trapped by five or six of them in a small toilet in a bar across the road. I eventually discovered they were the Czech National Ice Hocky team attending the coach’s funeral. On this occasion I did manage to find an internet café and check my mail before surrendering to the weather once again. It had gone from autumn to summer and then winter all in a day. I was totally unprepared. We had a further beer in the communist bar to wash down a perfectly cooked sirloin stake in a cream and mushroom source accompanied with potato scallops and French beans wrapped in ham. Finely before returning to the tent we retreated to a fancy wine bar and had a couple of palatable bottles of Cabernet Sauvignan from the Morava area. We arrived back at the campsite to find no bus. JonPal had taken it to have the thermostat replaced. Not a good sign after only three days. All in all, despite the weather we had a very rewarding day. The inclement conditions afforded us the opportunity to get to know more about our three travelling companions. Mac was taking 3 months paid leave from his job as a turbine engineer based in Dublin. He’s been doing the job for 15 years and spends most of the time travelling the world installing turbines. He’s not touched alcohol for three years but didn’t reveal why. Gordon is outgoing and far more revealing than Mac. After gaining a degree and getting his ideal job as the Cultural Director of a theatre in Glasgow he was sacked because he claims he was not up to the job. I admired his honesty. I suspect Glasgow for him was a return to his family roots, his father had left the city, as many Scots did, to work in the steel mills in Corby in Northamptonshire. Later his father was made redundant like thousands in the rolling mills in Sheffield after Thatcher had weaved her spell on the industry but was lucky to find employment with the post office. We agreed we would have a party if she was to die while we’re on route in homage to Corby and South Yorkshire. The conversation made me think of my song about the effect of Thatcherism on Grimethorpe. Grimethorpe You dug to survive like a mole underground, risking your life just to keep the bills down And what spare cash you made well you spent in this town You were born and brought up in this place Chorus There’s a hole in the ground where the money came from There’s hole in this town now the old mine has gone and the shop fronts are bordered from despair and fear With no chance of work and no signs of the old winding gear One man knew a decade ago, that the mines would be dead along with king coal But it’s time to stand firm and don’t give into the dole Remember your sons and your daughters Chorus So you fought like a dog to keep the old ways, for the nurses the workers and their rights to a say But the times have little changed as back in old days Betrayed by all trades and their leaders Chorus And the Grimethorpe’ band played the miners’ anthem, as a tribute to halcyon days Sing follow the horses oh Johnny my laddie And the miners were forced out to graze There’s a hole in the ground where the money came from, remember your past and the things you have done And don’t ever forget your part in that year And the name and the faces of those who shut the old winding gear The third Muskateer, Ted, is much more reserved and less forthcoming than the other two. He’s taking three months unpaid leave from his job as a programmer in Dublin and is very quietly spoken making it very difficult for me, with my failing hearing, to follow much of what he said.

Day 4 Wednesday 25th September 07: Vienna

Thank goodness the rain had not returned during the night but there was not enough sun to dry things out: everything was wet and damp except our spirits. The breakfast crew had the food on the table and cleared away in 30 minutes. I had to run from the toilet to get on the bus for Vienna as the engine hummed for take off. Leighton’s remonstrations about lateness made every body conscious about being on the bus on time.

The journey started with the usual morning briefing

Leighton: today is a short journey, passports out in five seconds,
He starts the countdown immediately but everyone has them in the air in no time at all except Anne and myself.

Leighton again ‘All things are what?’ he shouts

Coach in chorus ‘subject to change’

Finally he informs us that four new members arrived late last night. He announces the family is now complete and invites each in turn to introduce themselves as we have all had to do. Along with our names each had to give reasons for picking Ozbuz, favourite mythical creature, place most looking forward to seeing and finally plans after Sydney?

The first up was Fergal a 26 year old doctor heading to take up an appointment in Melbourne. He was the first one to get an applause for his occupation but I can’t help feeling it was out of relief. It’s always good to have a doc on board even if so young. He’s followed by Paul a construction worker who gets a loud cheer from Leighton who sees the potential if we need to dig the coach out at any point. Next to take the mic is big Geoff a farmer from Ireland who delayed his start to the trip to play in the final of a Gaelic football competition. Unfortunately for him they drew which means he will have to fly home for the replay. He must be good because the club is paying for his flight from Turkey and back. Last up but by no means least, is Andrew an Australian who’s been working for an advertising company in the Big Apple. He’s now returning home to Sydney to get the necessary qualifications to become a lawyer. We have something in common he’s also looking forward to seeing India. Andrew should have joined the bus in London but overlaid, after flying in from New York, sleeping soundly in a hotel just a few hundred metres from the Embankment.

After a short drive the coach pulled in to a small supermarket to stock up with food for lunch. Panic sets in when it becomes apparent there are no toilets. Sue finds a corner behind the shop, the young party group head down the road to the next supermarket. Anne notices a sign for a restaurant with parking and toilet symbols and a large group of us make towards it. We all feel guilty at using the clean free toilets and out of embarrassment a mass order is given for soup and beer. The garlic soup was memorable and will take some beating especially for the princely sum of 15 koruna or 40 pence. We arrived in Vienna at about 2.00pm.

After an excellent lunch of salad, sliced meat loaf and chicken followed by a fruit salad we headed off into the capital for some high culture. As we congregated outside the entrance to the Natural History Museum Das and Barry climbed onto the back of a bronze statue of an elephant. So much for culture. After a good hour in the natural history museum we headed towards the opera house and St Stephens church. Lastly we dropped into an Australian bar recommended by Leighton to find Scooby, now firmly established as the leader of the lets get drunk brigade, and the rest of the gang downstairs going at it as though they were entering dry Iran tomorrow. It was obvious they had been there since leaving the coach three hours earlier. I finished up having two pints of a delicious local wheat beer and a very tasty beef burger. At about eight we joined the party gang downstairs who were by then in full flight much to the delight of the pub’s manager and the amusement of the two Ozzie waiters serving them. In the middle of the table were two glass towers of beer, with pouring taps at the base. One was a 1 metre and the other larger and with all the screaming and shouting, laughing and guffawing, pushing and shoving it was a microcosm of what I imagined Babel must have been like just before it fell. When we left at 9.15pm to get the coach the lads were in heaven and Babel was still in tact.

We finished the night off sitting in the campsite kitchen drinking wine and hot chocolate. Although we went to bed reasonably early many found it hard to sleep for the noise being made by a group of Ozzie campers. I heard nothing.



Day started very early at 6.00am. By breakfast, 7.30am, the lads had slept for a whole two and half hours. Scooby and Co left the Oz bar at 5.00am having paid a drinks bill totalling 500 euros. This was after they had negotiated a special deal with Barry, one of the oz waiters, who did not charge them for bottle beers and provided a free 2 and 3 metre towers. The bar must have thought it was Christmas. My first thoughts were for the poor Australians they are going to stay with on arrival but Fe told me later that she couldn’t get into the campsite launderette for very, drunk ozzie teenagers who had also thrown everyone’s drying clothes out of the tumble dryers were also staying on the site while travelling around Europe with a company called Top Deck. Top Deck 1 Ozbus 0. I found out, even later still, from Viv, that the bar manager had approached Leighton about bringing future Ozbus partys’ in the future. So much for my comments as we headed into the capital about high culture. In this world profit always takes precedent. Breakfast finished and cleared away, bags all stored on the coach everyone’s attention turned to the topside of the site where Sue was banging on a camper van and a tent and screaming in German at the Ozzie occupants who kept them awake until 3.00am. When one of them emerged from his tent she threw the contents of coffee mug in his face. All of this was done to clapping and cheering from the others whose night sleep had been destroyed but did not have the bottle to strike back. After two meetings between us and Top Deck I think it now stands 1 nil to the Brits. Arrived at a rundown looking site in Budapest at about 12.30. Set up camp and headed in the centre. Budapest no different from every other city, because of the traffic it took an hour to negotiate our way to the slots besides Elizebeth Bridge. Spent a short hour paroosing the market while Leighton went off to source lunch. Finally had dinner at about 4.00pm, every very hungry. Hungry in Hungary. Had a reasonable meal of Goulash soup, chicken paparika and a beer. This was followed by a further pint in an unusual bar called For Sale. The roof once again like Hermies was absolutely covered with messages of kinds: notes on beer mats, business cards, tarjettes, cigarette packets etc, etc. The whole place was designed to be different and attractive to the kind of bohemian type of person and yet the waiters especially unwelcoming. After just the drink we all headed for another bar where the staff were completely opposite. Barman asked me where I came from and then said that McCabe had attempted to buy an some Hungarian team. Rest of the time spent drinking and talking. I bought two glasses of Unicum for the group to taste and with the exception of Ian (Kwok) who knocked it back in one all the rest found it foul. Strange that tastes can be so regional. After a trip up to the Citadel to take photos looking straight down the river and finding the battery in my camera was flat (no shots) we headed back to the campsite to park the bus and go for some more beer down by the river and just 10 minutes walk away. Got off the bus last to find Mark cuddling Lucinda who was crying. As I made for my tent it became apparent that the tents had been broken into and possessions stolen. I was relieved to find ours was still in tact. Immediately there were shouts, flashlights in the wooded area of the site, shouting and the sound of people running. The ‘party gang’ led by Barry from Nevin was branding a rather large torch had disturbed the culprits and were in full pursuit without considering the consequences. I certainly would have thought twice about following a group of thieves into a dark wooded area late at night armed with one large torch. Amazingly to their credit they quickly found Lucinda’s case with the belongings scattered along the path. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately they got away with Ted’s rucksack which was locked. Mac lost his supply of condoms but not the wad of dollars he pulled out of the tent. The boys spent a good hour scouring the site for the sack. It became apparent the thieves were going to go through all the bags in the safety of the tents and left with Ted’s bag because it was locked. Thankfully all they got was clothes and no one was injured in the pursuit. Ted, Leighton and few others still went to the pub (now 11.50) to try and cheer Ted up but surprisingly the heroes’ of the night turned Leighton’s offer of a drink instead going for a shower and a bit of boy bonding. I think the bridge between the Navan boys is reducing. Whlst we were searching the area for the bag I asked Barry why he’d brought such a large, heavy powerful torch. ‘I didn’t’ was his reply. ‘I had to spend all my spare useless Czech money on something before heading into Austria’ He happened to see the torch in the supermarket the day before. While we were eating that beautiful garlic soup Barry was making the purchase of the trip so far and with the look on his face he new it. Barry 1 Leighton 0. Before we managed to get into bed the heavens opened up and quickly followed by our first storm of the trip. I found it very easy to go to sleep even though Anne was worried about the lighting and our position under the trees. I was more concerned about having to pack a very wet tent away for two or three days. Even the good news that we are to spend the next three nights in Romania and Bulgaria in hotels was offset by tonight’s incident and poor old Ted. This was the first night that the whole party went to rest feeling a little down. Hope tomorrow and country number six has better things to offer.
Day 5 Thursday 26th Sep 07 The day started very early at 6.00am and by breakfast, 7.30am, the lads had slept for a whole two and half hours. Scooby and Co left the Australian bar at 5.00am having paid a drinks bill totaling €500. This was after they had negotiated a special deal with Barry, one of the waiters, who did not charge them for bottle beers and provided a free tower. The bar management must have thought Christmas had come early. I have to say my first thoughts were for the poor unsuspecting Australians this lot are staying with on arrival in Sydney but Fe then told me later that she couldn’t get into the campsite launderette, the night before, for very, drunk ozzie teenagers who had also thrown everyone’s clothes out of the tumble dryers. This gang were also staying on the site while travelling around Europe with a company called Top Deck. Top Deck 1 Ozbus 0. I found out, even later still, from Viv, that the bar manager had approached Leighton about bringing future Ozbus partys’ to his bar. Ah well so much for my comments as we headed into the capital about high culture. In this world profit always takes precedent. Breakfast finished and cleared away, bags all stored on the coach everyone’s attention turned to the topside of the site where Sue was banging on a camper van and a tent and screaming in German at the young Aussie occupants who kept them awake until 3.00am. When one of them emerged from his tent to investigate the din she threw the contents of her coffee mug in his face. All of this was done to clapping and cheering from the others whose night sleep had also been destroyed but did not have the bottle to strike back. Well after two meetings between us and Top Deck I think it now stands 1 nil to the Brits. Later, at about 12.30pm, we arrived at a rundown looking campsite in Budapest. We quickly set up camp and headed in the centre. Budapest is no different from every other city, because of the traffic it took an hour to negotiate our way to the slots besides Elizebeth Bridge. We then spent a short hour perusing the market while Leighton went off to source lunch. We finally had dinner at about 4.00pm, everyone was very hungry. We had a reasonable meal of Goulash soup, chicken paprika and a beer. This was followed by a further pint in an unusual bar called For Sale. The roof once again like Hermies was absolutely covered with messages of kind written on beer mats, business cards, cigarette packets etc, etc. The whole place was designed to be different and bohemian but the waiters were especially unwelcoming. After just the one drink we all headed for another bar where the staff were completely opposite. The barman asked me where I was from and when I told him then said that McCabe(of Sheffield United fame) had attempted to buy some Hungarian team. The rest of the time we spent drinking and talking. I bought two glasses of Unicum for the group to taste and with the exception of Ian (Kwok) who knocked it back in one all the found it foul. Strange that tastes can be so regional. After a trip up to the Citadel to take photos looking straight down the river and finding the battery in my camera was flat (no shots) we headed back to the campsite to park the bus and go for some more beer down by the river just a few minutes walk away. I was last off the bus and found Mark cuddling Lucinda who was crying. As I made for my tent it became apparent that the tents had been broken into and possessions stolen. I was relieved to find ours was still in tact. Immediately there were shouts, flashlights in the wooded area of the site and the sound of people running. The ‘party gang’ led by Barry from Nevin was branding a rather large torch and had disturbed the culprits and were now in full pursuit without considering the consequences. I certainly would have thought twice about following a group of thieves into a dark wooded area late at night armed with one large torch. Amazingly and to their credit they quickly found Lucinda’s case with the belongings scattered along the path. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately they got away with Ted’s rucksack which was locked. Mac lost his supply of condoms but not the wad of dollars he pulled out of the tent. The boys spent a good hour scouring the site for the sack. It became apparent the thieves were going to go through all the bags in the safety of the tents and left with Ted’s bag because it was locked. Thankfully all they got was clothes and no one was injured in the pursuit. Ted, Leighton and few others still went to the pub (now 11.50) to try and cheer Ted up but surprisingly the heroes’ of the night turned down Leighton’s offer of a drink instead going for a shower and a bit of boy bonding. I think the bridge between the Navan boys is reducing. Whilst we were searching the area for the bag I asked Barry why he’d brought such a large, heavy powerful torch. ‘I didn’t’ was his reply. I had to spend all my spare useless Czech money on something before heading into Austria.’ He happened to see the torch in the supermarket the day before. While we were eating that beautiful garlic soup Barry was making the purchase of the trip so far and with the look on his face he new it. Barry 1 Leighton 0. Before we managed to get into bed the heavens opened up and quickly this was followed by our first storm of the trip. I found it very easy to go to sleep even though Anne was worried about the lighting and our position under the trees. I was more concerned about having to pack a very wet tent away for two or three days. Even though the good news was we were spending the next three nights in Romania and Bulgaria in hotels it was spoiled by tonight’s incident and poor old Ted loss. This was the first night that the whole party went to rest feeling a little down. I can only hope that tomorrow and country number six has better things to offer, especially for Ted.
Day started very early at 6.00am. By breakfast, 7.30am, the lads had slept for a whole two and half hours. Scooby and Co left the Oz bar at 5.00am having paid a drinks bill totalling 500 euros. This was after they had negotiated a special deal with Barry, one of the oz waiters, who did not charge them for bottle beers and provided a free 2 and 3 metre towers. The bar must have thought it was Christmas. My first thoughts were for the poor Australians they are going to stay with on arrival but Fe told me later that she couldn’t get into the campsite launderette for very, drunk ozzie teenagers who had also thrown everyone’s drying clothes out of the tumble dryers were also staying on the site while travelling around Europe with a company called Top Deck. Top Deck 1 Ozbus 0. I found out, even later still, from Viv, that the bar manager had approached Leighton about bringing future Ozbus partys’ in the future. So much for my comments as we headed into the capital about high culture. In this world profit always takes precedent. Breakfast finished and cleared away, bags all stored on the coach everyone’s attention turned to the topside of the site where Sue was banging on a camper van and a tent and screaming in German at the Ozzie occupants who kept them awake until 3.00am. When one of them emerged from his tent she threw the contents of coffee mug in his face. All of this was done to clapping and cheering from the others whose night sleep had been destroyed but did not have the bottle to strike back. After two meetings between us and Top Deck I think it now stands 1 nil to the Brits. Arrived at a rundown looking site in Budapest at about 12.30. Set up camp and headed in the centre. Budapest no different from every other city, because of the traffic it took an hour to negotiate our way to the slots besides Elizebeth Bridge. Spent a short hour paroosing the market while Leighton went off to source lunch. Finally had dinner at about 4.00pm, every very hungry. Hungry in Hungary. Had a reasonable meal of Goulash soup, chicken paparika and a beer. This was followed by a further pint in an unusual bar called For Sale. The roof once again like Hermies was absolutely covered with messages of kinds: notes on beer mats, business cards, tarjettes, cigarette packets etc, etc. The whole place was designed to be different and attractive to the kind of bohemian type of person and yet the waiters especially unwelcoming. After just the drink we all headed for another bar where the staff were completely opposite. Barman asked me where I came from and then said that McCabe had attempted to buy an some Hungarian team. Rest of the time spent drinking and talking. I bought two glasses of Unicum for the group to taste and with the exception of Ian (Kwok) who knocked it back in one all the rest found it foul. Strange that tastes can be so regional. After a trip up to the Citadel to take photos looking straight down the river and finding the battery in my camera was flat (no shots) we headed back to the campsite to park the bus and go for some more beer down by the river and just 10 minutes walk away. Got off the bus last to find Mark cuddling Lucinda who was crying. As I made for my tent it became apparent that the tents had been broken into and possessions stolen. I was relieved to find ours was still in tact. Immediately there were shouts, flashlights in the wooded area of the site, shouting and the sound of people running. The ‘party gang’ led by Barry from Nevin was branding a rather large torch had disturbed the culprits and were in full pursuit without considering the consequences. I certainly would have thought twice about following a group of thieves into a dark wooded area late at night armed with one large torch. Amazingly to their credit they quickly found Lucinda’s case with the belongings scattered along the path. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately they got away with Ted’s rucksack which was locked. Mac lost his supply of condoms but not the wad of dollars he pulled out of the tent. The boys spent a good hour scouring the site for the sack. It became apparent the thieves were going to go through all the bags in the safety of the tents and left with Ted’s bag because it was locked. Thankfully all they got was clothes and no one was injured in the pursuit. Ted, Leighton and few others still went to the pub (now 11.50) to try and cheer Ted up but surprisingly the heroes’ of the night turned Leighton’s offer of a drink instead going for a shower and a bit of boy bonding. I think the bridge between the Navan boys is reducing. Whlst we were searching the area for the bag I asked Barry why he’d brought such a large, heavy powerful torch. ‘I didn’t’ was his reply. ‘I had to spend all my spare useless Czech money on something before heading into Austria’ He happened to see the torch in the supermarket the day before. While we were eating that beautiful garlic soup Barry was making the purchase of the trip so far and with the look on his face he new it. Barry 1 Leighton 0. Before we managed to get into bed the heavens opened up and quickly followed by our first storm of the trip. I found it very easy to go to sleep even though Anne was worried about the lighting and our position under the trees. I was more concerned about having to pack a very wet tent away for two or three days. Even the good news that we are to spend the next three nights in Romania and Bulgaria in hotels was offset by tonight’s incident and poor old Ted. This was the first night that the whole party went to rest feeling a little down. Hope tomorrow and country number six has better things to offer.

More To Explore

Travel

Day One: Europe

Sheffield to London Arrived at Sheffield Midland Station on time to find that someone had stolen the electrical signal cables at Clay Cross and all

Travel

Day Eleven: Turkey (Asia Minor)

Day 11: Istanbul. Wednesday 3rd October Fell in love with the city the moment I stepped out onto the cobbles of the Sultanahmet district and

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