Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Gokwe Kid - Rogue Rhodie on a Roller: Part 17. Fat bottomed girls and Happy-Cappers

Day 26. Friday 22nd August (continued)

What a sight for sore eyes. The average size of the woman made me wonder that perhaps a burka was maybe not a bad idea. Though I suppose it could get caught in the chain and snap a few necks.

Instead, they all had skin tight cycling shorts with some legs built to kick start a Saturn Five rocket, never mind a Jumbo Jet. My perverted mind's first thought was perhaps this was where a lick of lesbians (colloquial term – look it up) were gathering in this secret place after warming up from a ride.

The puzzling slogan about 'Slapper' was also soon dispensed with. I had misread it. Although in Czech, it was rather easy to conclude that this was a women's cycle club from a town I had passed through called Slapy, about 40 clicks to the north. My guess they had followed the river, taken all day (judging by the fact none of them seemed to be covered in sweat), and this was the evening's watering hole. I also noticed that not one of their bicycles had any form of luggage. This was solved as some nerdy, weedy looking bloke turns up in a car completely stuffed with bags of things women need when they go camping.

So chirping loudly, they were distributed amongst the various tiny wooden chalets and started queueing for showers. I decided to head to the bar/restaurant area, plug in my high tech stuff, and write up another diary entry.

After listening to Blondie singing a 45 minute extended version of Atomic twice over (I had her last night for dinner as well), with a bit of pidgin English and sign language that I suffered from various mental illnesses and the doctor had specifically warned me that Atomic on perpetual repeat would drive me insane and force me to set fire to their HiFi system, we needed to find a solution.

I also explained that I had all the necessary equipment to churn out some mellow vibes like Simon and Garfunkel and they didn't hesitate to let me take control as they studied my bulging eyeballs, twitching head and jerking knees. Job done and I settled down for some serious writing.

As the sun was finally beaten into submission by thickening clouds and the fact that the planet spins, a small activity disturbed my peace of beer and looking up English grammar, when two of the staff set up an amp, a couple of guitars and started jamming. They were good, and soon they were rewarded by an enthusiastic audience of exactly one person – me. Many of the songs I knew. I recognised the tunes, but the lyrics were gibberish. That was because the song book, Jon (such was the name of the singer), was using had all OUR music translated into their language. Such sacrilege. 'Hey Jude', certainly comes over rather oddly.

Sadly, after 90 minutes of me howling along to any recognisable chorus, the fun and games had to seize as the fat bottom bicycle girls had gathered on the veranda and started their own jamming session. Nerdy bloke had a guitar and to much linking of arms, the matching track suit lasses howled away some local folk songs and a few western hits. Some of them haunt me to this day as they certainly murdered them. It was beyond painful to listen to them turn what should have been a fine rock concert into 'Michael row your boat ashore' in a foreign language, with me thinking a ground to sea missile could solve a lot of problems.

But, before I decided to hang myself as an alternative to pouring hot wax into my ears, Jon and I started chatting. His English was limited and he didn't speak German, but I understood the whole picture of this weird and wonderful place. The original camp site, as promoted on the internet, had long gone bankrupt. A small group of friends and family had taken over. In fact, they had only started opening up to the public a month before. The reasons there were no signs yet was now obvious. The infrastructure could not cope yet. This was obvious by the fact the men’s toilet block was a building site, the now communal women's toilets had a huge turd swimming in a broken flushing toilet and generally, this place wasn't so much as run down, but being run up. Time and especially money, was the answer. But, I also clocked, for all the staff's enthusiasm, they needed not only some serious investment, but a proper project manager. It appeared all so haphazard.

Day 27. Saturday 23rd August

Rained all night. Overcast morning – I saw no point in going anywhere. What for? I like this place. The fat bottomed girls staggered around, as I brewed my coffee, and I gathered from the wailing that most of them were going to have a serious problems mounting their bicycles again due to a large consumption of brain rot they had consumed to grease the vocal chords.

After much “Oh, I have forgotten my brain and toothpaste”, they finally wandered off. Jon came over to me and under what was really starting to clear skies, parked a possie and started whittling some sticks into a point. I wasn't sure what the point of this exercise was but he explained that at any moment, the place was about to be invaded by people not sound in the head.

Literally, as we supped coffee, (or I think I had already cracked a tinnie), a convoy arrives. Jon says - “All you must say is 'Ahoy' – it is Czech for 'Hello', and everything will be fine.

Fine! What is fine? And why am I now seriously frightened? You know I cannot handle anything out of the ordinary. And then it became obvious – at least thirty people, all aged from late twenties to late fifties, and all lunatics. Completely off their trolleys.

And so, it is of course hard to describe the experience. I do not make fun of the mentally handicapped – I am one myself, but the whole scenario was bizarre for me.

Jan was pretty cool. I was nervous. Their 'leader' used a whistle to gather them around. That she was obviously well loved was shown by their enthusiasm. She distributed them among the cabins. I watched. I did not feel sorry for them. Why should I? It was clear that they were happy in their own way. Beyond recognising that they were 'different'.

I was fascinated and also a little perturbed. Strange, I have my problems but understand them and along with medication, can live an almost normal life; but these people, without help...

Just a few years ago, Hitler would have smoked them. And here they are, all happy. But – let me describe what I witnessed. Of course, what was instantly logical, is that they must be none violent, otherwise they wouldn't be here. One bloke, with a mouth of rotting teeth, as tall as Herman the Munster and just as ugly, held hands with a woman that had a massive tongue that she stuck out every three seconds. Anther bloke wandered around and every 15 seconds would shout and clap his hands. Another bloke sat on a bench next to me and looked at a small notebook and shouted out lines – regardless if he actually could read or not!

And the noise of them all! I split, wandered down to the restaurant and started to write. Lunchtime – they all rocked up. I couldn't cope and gapped it. Jon told me that they were having a bonfire jamming session that night. I thanked him and went down to the river. I needed to escape.

Confused. I just chilled and buried myself in the awful, depressing book 'The classic slum'. Charming thing to read about where you come from – hell on earth.

BUT, that night, when I wandered over to the bonfire, the loonytunes had gone to bed and I was to enjoy the best evening of my trip so far.

It was perfect. The music, the camp fire, beer, the stars – everything was a recall of times long gone and I thought that in a couple of days this whole adventure is over, but here and now – I was in paradise...

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Gokwe Kid - Rogue Rhodie on a Roller: Part 16. I have seen the mist and not missed the scene.

Day 25. Thursday 21st August (continued)

I parked up next to a couple of Czech registered cars and peeped through the windows thoroughly expecting some slaughtered, rotting corpses. Relieved, I climbed the steps to what looked like a rather smart veranda and inside was a cosy enough looking bar and a large dining area. Glancing around outside I noticed some wooden chalets but no tents or caravans and crucially – no one! No humans at all.

The only sounds were coming from the forest – the creaking of fir trees being bent by the wind, the howls of wolves, and as it was now 7.00 pm the screeches of witches, erm... I mean owls.

I shouted out the international greeting – “I want beer.”

From a nearby house, a pot bellied man popped out. Dressed in a T-shirt at least three sizes too small but not as small as the shiny nylon shorts that emphasised his reproductive tackle, he grunted and wandered over. Since he wasn't carrying a butcher's cleaver, I removed my hand from my last potential defence – the Swiss Army knife on my belt.

“Hi. Do you speak English or German.”

“A little English. No German.”

I was amazed he spoke at all or actually walked upright after what I had gone through to get here. I mean this place was beyond imagination. I reckon that if that twat Osama Bin Laden had hidden in here the Yanks would never had found him.

“I would like to camp please. Two nights. How much?”

He looked at me, looked at my roller, looked up at the sky (so did I, maybe he was expecting a drone strike).

“200 kroner” was the reply.

Not bad, that made it the cheapest place yet. Not only that, he wasn't interested in passports and such nonsense.

“Do you have food and could I have beer please and where do I put up my tent?”

“I cook food. One hour. Camp anywhere,” he replied as he poured me a beer for an amazing 35 kroner (about 75 pence.) Then he went off.

With darkness descending, I chose a spot near to some tables and chairs and not too far where he had pointed out a block of what was the showers and toilets. I managed to unload and make camp just as the last sunlight went. Unfortunately I became confused where you slide these strange fibreglass rods into the sleeves of the tent, got them the wrong way and as I tried to span and bend them into an arch – there was an almighty crack and one of the rods split. Oh shit! Boppering it up a bit (Rhodesian slang for a long term temporary entrepreneurial fix to a terminal problem of huge magnitude),and the tent could still work, but I knew its days were now limited to exactly three more nights.

Feeling cold, I took the day pack with all the high tec gear and went back to the dining/bar room.

Not having much confidence of any result, I was pleasantly surprised that whilst the phone struggled, the notebook had no problem locking onto to the free WiFi. It also had no problem of knowing it was obviously emitting from nearby as all forms of civilisation was bloody miles away.

There were a few more people around that I gathered were staff, but I was the only guest. Supping on another pint, I told everyone on TGK Facebook that I was still alive and kicking and was then presented with -

“Czech special. Cow meat and scrabbled potatoes with salad.”

It was nice enough but I was a bit miffed by the price – the same as camping for the two nights. (About sterling 7.50.) I concluded that the next day I would work out how to get out and find a supermarket and petrol station. What had supposed to have been 80 clicks had turned into 180!
Totally knackered, I didn't hang about after the grub and hit the sack just before 9.00pm.

Day 26. Friday 22nd August

No cockerels awoke me. It was not necessary as the chattering of my own teeth had kept me awake most of the night and my pillow had a large collection of my fillings that had been dislodged scattered around it. It had been apparent within minutes of hitting the sack, that was about all I could do with it. Sue had looked sceptical when we were at Tescos in Prague with the size of the thing but I had assured her that it looked about the same as the one that had been stolen. I simply ignored the label which said 'Junior size, 70cms wide.' Stupid me hey. Still dressed with sweatshirt and Rhodie waistcoat, vest/west thing, I could hardly squeeze into the the camouflaged fart sack. Oh well, I must make a plan. Fancy getting this far and play a Captain Scott!

Poking my head out the tent door, which was soaking wet, the entire place was covered in mist or low clouds. I hadn't seen anything like this since Inyanga, Eastern Highlands of Rhodesia. Plus it was just as cold and wet. I needed a wazz badly and now I had another problem. I had placed a sign at the last petrol station. One sandal. It had been left behind whilst repacking after filling up. I wonder if, when the staff found it lying around, that they might have thought the messiah had been there for four litres of juice and a coffee.

Lighting up a smoke and with no sign of life, I had a wee-wee out of the tent in a left direction, with the wind – I am not fool enough to piss on my own doorstep. I was gagging for my fix of coffee. Getting the extremely proficient gas stove out of its case was very easy since most of it had been destroyed by bad man in Prague whilst ripping it off the pannier box. Opening the said box, I sighed. All that bouncing around in the forest had not only emptied most of the salt and pepper pots but in an a bit of temper, the lid bottle of the sugar bottle had come off and everything inside was covered in the damp sticky stuff. Still, there was enough left in and I also had some little tubs of evaporated milk, so in a jiffy, I was supping away whilst contemplating what happens next.

With the 'guti' being seriously dense, I had no idea if the day would turn out warm or rainy, in fact, vision was down to about 20 paces. With the only road outside the camp site it was logical that the river should be near down the steep, rocky and hole pitted drag. I wandered down as swirls of mist curled around me from the forest on both sides and after some 300 meters I came across an incredulous site. A bloke in full combat uniform, was slouching leisurely in a chair with a couple of fishing rods.

To the left of him was some old decrepit boats and to my astonishment, creeping, silently and eerily, small yachts appeared and seconds later disappeared. Wow! This was brilliant. Matey caught a fish, but judging by the the rather idle bending of his rod, it must be a tiddler. Much to my surprise it was about a pounder.

Whilst the catcher in the mist couldn't speak much (well, not my languages) he explained that it was a mollock, pollick, gollum, or whatever and being too small, he released it. That’s when I sussed out that whatever it was, it was no fighting fish. The stupid thing just laid there and needed a poke before it got its lazy ass in gear and wandered back into the murky deeps.

What also puzzled me (and you can see it from the last posting of the pictures from the bridge), was the immense amount of algae. This wasn't like the Spirogyra type known as 'slime' in Rhodie days (we actually used it as bait for tilapia, aka bream), but more like overcooked pea soup until there was no physical object, just coloured water. I suppose the nearest example is from Rhodie days when, if the chlorine was not administrated correctly, the pool turned green. On many occasions it meant emptying the pool and starting again, however, I couldn't see the Czechs blowing up the dam wall, flush the lot into the North Sea (the final destination of the river Vlatava), say sorry to the Germans and please don't invade us again, and knock up a new wall and throw in a few thousand tons of alginate. Sorry about all the dead fish. Its a hard knock life.

After what was really a magical moment, I wandered back to camp and with the mobile phone on, wandered around till the signal was strong enough to post the brilliant pictures onto Facebook. But – there was also an Email for me – from the Big Boss. Oh-oh. Back to reality with a bump. He wants to know when I am 'ready' to go back to work.

I had absolutely no desire to participate in that four letter word, and replied that if he would be so kind as to keep sending me money every month and put me on the books as a tax loss. I mean, the teeny bit I cost can easily be offset. I think he might have been a bit more than upset if I did send that, so I simply replied the 27th.

The sun was now looking like the moon, but it was burning the mist off, and as the staff were now wandering around, I went back to the main building to charge my phone and notebook. I was asked if I would like some breakfast but decided against it in case I would have to take out a mortgage on my scooter.

With the skies looking great, I decided I would head back to Orlik and see if they had anything resembling a supermarket. Ahh – how was I to get there? I did try to ask the staff, but they seemed to be as confused as me as to where we actually were. Either that or there was a big problem in communication. Still, being the great detective from Africa, I didn't expect too much of a problem.

With some kind of road to follow, I kept the much enlightened machine delicately on the rutted path. After about four clicks I came across a cross junction. Perched on the one side of it was a small decrepit wooden hut. But there was actually a sign pointing to the way I had just come with the name of the camp site. As this sign could only be seen from the right fork, I opted to take that route.

Nine clicks later, I hit a tar road. Since there were no signs what so ever, I took note of a postbox, a shield for what could be taken as a warning of some kind and hazard a guess to turn left. Well, blow me down with a gay's hair dryer, within a couple of kilometres I am in one of those strange towns I wandered through at least twice. Four more clicks - I meet the main drag, left again, over the bridge and into Orlik village.

There is a Co-Op - Not quite British style, but I don't care and stock up on food and tins of juice, which was a bit cheaper than back at the camp site. There is a large detailed map in the 'Town Square' (hah hah), and I notice that there was supposed to be a petrol station less than a click further down the road. Hmm. I have no recollection of passing it. It was there, refuelled, and crossed the bridge again and thought I would take the road marked on the map that was in theory a direct route along the river to the camp site (that was not marked). No chance. Not only was there yet again another boom, but the council had stopped clever-clevers like me from scooting around them by piling loads of thorn bushes to head height. I wondered if I could drop the scooter, drag it under but thought perhaps, for once, this might be a very bad idea...

Returning back the way I came, back at the weird junction in the forest I pulled up. The sun was now sending out some warming rays, and I decided to have some fun. Firstly, I needed to crack a tinnie. I mean, what were the odds of the police turning up here? Secondly, I wanted a smoke and thirdly - concluded I couldn't do the first two tasks until I took my helmet off.

As I rummaged around in my day pack and the millions of pockets of my waistcoat, the junction came alive with weird people. One drove a tractor dragging logs. Four turned up on bicycles with a GPS machine that I gathered from the serious shouting at each other, was as lost as they were. (I laughed to split a gut.) They wandered off and then came a group of early twenties with baskets crammed with all sorts of mushrooms and from the opposite direction a young bird jogging.

Once I was alone again, I set up the tools of my trade – doing bullshit...

After a great giggle of stupidity, I returned to the tent, unloaded my beer and grub into a fridge in the main building for the use of people like me, loaded up a plastic chair onto the back of the roller (no picture, dumb ass I am), and with a bottle of rum Sue gave me and a cola, I drove down to the same spot on the river.

What a transformation. The army bloke had been replaced by a family of five, also fishing, the mist was gone and the river/dam was spread out before me. Very nice indeed and I chilled in the sunlight, occasionally disturbed by the excited shouts as yet another lazy, scaly gollum thing was dragged out the green depths and popped into a net to await its fate as sleeping fish and chips.
With my mind now ready to write, I said goodbye to the family that had observed me in some form of horror, and went back. I then asked the pretty blonde babe if by any chance they had a blanket spare as I had no desire that they should be forced to find their way to the nearest morgue in the morning with my frozen body. The round trip would cost a pretty fortune – plus all the paper work. Especially since the body they would deposit has no identification what so ever.

I was duly delivered a freshly washed cover and duck feather duvet. All at no cost. Now well sorted, I wandered into the main building, ordered a pint and on the veranda started to write. At 6.00 pm feeling a tad hungry, I went back to the tent and prepared my evening meal, which I haven’t a clue what it was!

Just as I started skoffing, with a very loud explosion of noise – thousands of overweight women arrived on bicycles, all wearing identical T-shirts with some motive explaining they were slappers...

(To be continued.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Gokwe Kid - Rogue Rhodie on a Roller: Part 15. WhereDaFukRwe Tribe

Day 25. Thursday 21st August (continued)

After doing the Auschwitz posting that I needed to do while it was still so raw in my head – I continue from the previous chapter. This is when what should be a casual cruise to a camp site is going to turn into a nightmare...

Things were now to get beyond silly. This was the great bush detective versus Google. I am heading due south, following the river. The phone is on with roaming and trying to tell me which way to go.
That was our first fight. I got confused between up river and down river. Of course I was heading up, even if it was south.

The other problem was that the phone was in a pocket and each time I pulled it out to have look see, I touched the screen and it promptly went mad and I would have to restart the lot. Still, it got me out of Prague and with the setting on 'no motorways', it had a merry time sending me around in huge circles, through places that had houses but that was it, and as what should have been an easy short drive within my roller's range became an obvious no chance, I finally stopped at a garage.

I was bloody freezing. The average temperature was about 12c and in my naivety and enthusiasm had not brought along a warm winter style jacket. After all, this was the height of central European summer hey! It hadn't rained but I was shaking worse than a heroin addict awaiting his next fix. The hot cup of chinas were just the job to warm my hands and innards.

The petrol station was well jacked up and had free WiFi. So after my hands finally stopped trembling, I started up the notebook. I knew I was sort of near my destination and wanted to check it out again. I was near a town called Orlik, which nestles on the Vltava river and approximately the mid point between Prague and the German border.

I looked up my original camp site and only now noticed they did not allow tents. Okay... Another search for a camping site in the area pops up this.

Looks and sounds rather nice. They even have an address! rekreační středisko Na Husárně
, 398 58 Kostelec nad Vltavou and phone numbers. Better still, the wonderful age of digital technology even has supplied a route map! Yipeeeee – what could possibly go wrong?

Shit loads actually. What transpires next would make the Keystone Cops look like master detectives...

At some point, I crossed a dam wall, that sort of blocked the river but it all looked rather odd with the width of the water almost identical on either side. A strange damn indeed. I was buggered if I knew how any boats could get past this obstruction. But I gathered there was some sort of get around it. (For some odd reason, though I spent time there and thought I took loads of pictures... I seem only to have two!)

Considering I wasn't that impressed with the amount of water it was holding back (compared to Kariba), it was a rather large thing that was obviously used for hydro electricity. I paced its length and reckoned on it being 449 metres and 80cms long and tying a bit of string to a stone, I fed it down and after pulling it up calculated it being 90 metres and20 cms high. Amazingly, I was only few centimetres out when I looked it whilst typing this story.

I moved on. Although – I am so confused with this dam wall!

With the lady chirping away on my helmet headphones, I passed Orlik and was suddenly met by a huge bridge on the main drag.

I parked up the scooter and switching off that annoying cow, I spent a half an hour in rhapsody, all Bohemian, because that is where the dam is. Bet you didn't know that Freddy Mercury!

Incredibly picturesque and the little yachts cruising around between the steep slopes of forest made me want not to join them. But the neat and tidy houseboats looked really smart. So after a very good piece of satisfying my soul, I started up, switched on the navigation again and put into it the exact name of the camp site. I was in theory, according to the bullshit on the screen, less than 6 kms from my destination and should arrive in 15 minutes. Excellent. I was gagging for a pint...

Following the daft tart again, it soon became obvious she didn't have a sodding clue. It was after being sent left, right, turn around, go back, up there, turn around, go down there, take the next road (what road? They are just dirt tracks going into a seriously overgrown forest with steel booms blocking them), and when I stopped and looked at the screen, the arrow just kept whizzing around in circles – destination varied between 6 – 20 clicks, time also varied, but after one hour and thirty minutes, half a tank of petrol, I realised I had become a reluctant member of a famous African tribe...

As kids in Rhodesia we had our own African orientated jokes. One went like this -

“Have you heard of the WhereDaFukRwe tribe?”

“Can't say I have.”

“Well, they lived deep in the bush, but they were only 30cm (1 foot) tall, so as a result, they were constantly lost whilst wandering about. But they had through evolution developed huge powerful legs. They would spring high into the air, above the tall elephant grass, and shout to each other ' WhereDaFukRwe?'

“Goodness gracious me! What happened to them?”

“Sadly, they became known as The Lost Tribe of Africa and rumours has it they eventually starved to death or landed up in the bellies of pythons.”

All well and good but now I was getting tired. I was also a tad hungry. And thirsty. The Sat Nav had gone into a sulk because I had kept shouting back, and now she had stopped speaking to me and sent a message 'Gone off for my dinner and at this moment you have no GPS assistance as I have turned it, and, watch out for the wolves and bears hey – tosser!'

I was now seriously confused. I wandered through so many peasant villages, that the few living souls had gazed with wry amusement as every 20 minutes I rocked up again going backwards and forwards. I decided to track down the postal address. Maybe there would be a sign! No chance. No, supermarket, no pub, no place to rest a weary head. The sun was setting. I would die here!

Returning for the third (!) time to the village where this place was supposed to have an address, I saw three teenagers (two blokes and a lass) chatting on a street corner. Considering that dying in a dump like this would be about the climax of their lives (as in going to their own funerals), a chat on a corner must come second for top class entertainment.

Pulling up, they studied me with wry amusement as I removed my helmet from a sweat covered head and spoke the magic words -

“Oh, I say, you don't happen to speak the Queen's English by any chance and failing that, perhaps you are conversant in the Kaiser's German?”

Well, it turns out they didn't have one iota of clue what I was going on about. I had to switch into simpleton mode.

“Me”, pointing to myself, “look”, pointing to my eyes, “autocamp” pointing to the address in my little note book.

Wow, they were clapping their hands in glee! This was the greatest thing to happen to them since their first ice cream. A foreign idiot on a scooter looking like a gypsy’s one man band, in their village! It doesn't get better than that! With lots of ten words in English (or was it five), it came apparent that one of them knew someone who knew someone that knew about the camp site.

I tried to phone the numbers, but since the GPS couldn't find them it was unremarkable that the phone line had the same problem. The girl uses her mobile (Eish, they have them here) and gabbles away. I get the impression that some china of theirs knows where the place is and will turn up to take me there. I thank them profusely.

So after a few minutes a bloke turns up and the girl jumps into his car and off we go. Deeper and deeper into the forest. I am thinking, as we crash over huge ruts, dodge chopped down trees – is this my Deliverance (The Film) day. Will I be murdered, sodomised, and looted. (Not necessarily in that order.)

And then we hit another steel boom blocking the way. This is nuts! Smiling demoniacally, the kids pile out the car with axes and machetes, with drug crazed eyeballs and twisted mouths exposing fangs that would make Dracula jealous – assured me “no worry, we phone friend who have motor bike. He know the way.”

Hah-hah. They are kidding or what. What, where or is this mystery camp site that if you had a camping van or caravan, erm, how exactly do you get there? Sure enough, another kid pops up on a trail bike. The girl hops on. I say goodbye to the lad with the car and thank him for not hacking me into bits, and follow the two deeper and deeper into the darkening forest. Werewolves howl from all sides and bears follow me, as screaming in fear the roller fights me as we DRIVE over carpets of chopped branches from loggers. I couldn’t put my feet down to try and balance the heavily loaded machine as I would get my foot snagged immediately by branches and crash.

I imagined that what if the poor roaring roller packed in now or it burst a tire??? Try phoning the AA – what would they say - “ WhereDaFukRyou?”. Again and again we drove around more booms, turned left, right, and left and then suddenly, bursting out the forest onto a more wider track, we were in front of a building with a couple of cars parked outside.

Grinning, the two dismounted and explained that this was the camp site. I looked around for skeletons hanging from trees, swinging gently in the breeze. The place looked rather 'normal'. I thanked my saviours, offered to buy them a drink (presuming the place sold things like that), but they refused and after a quick photo, they wished me a nice time and off they went...

(To be continued...)

Look carefully at the map. It has been downloaded from those idiots at Google. I enhanced (it is from the link that I put up at the beginning of this nightmare – see the bit where it says how to get here... snigger), and I coloured in red the various 'roads', hah hah, going through the forest which I have bordered in blue. No wonder the SatNav gave up the ghost!