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Wednesday, 17 September 2008

The Long and Winding Road - Phew!

Countries which have felt our presence so far...

United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary

(Multiple visits not listed)

STONED ON KORCULA ISLAND








STONED ON KORCULA ISLAND AT CAMP MINDEL

It was September and over 35 in the shade.
All we could do was sit under the olive tree and get stoned – by dry olives falling from above. Every meal we were bombarded by huge wasps but the Korchula kittens tumbled and climbed to amuse us.
Camp Mindel is on a ridge between several beautiful almost deserted bathing coves. Mr Gorana had his own wine and olive oil to sell and we languished very comfortably in the heat. His mother-in-law makes the most delicious tomato sauce for pasta that I have ever eaten and the figs are soft purple honey!
The island is amazing – the hillsides have been terraced over millennia probably to clear small patches of earth that grow figs, olives, and almonds. Peasants used to live in tiny stone-roofed, stone huts without windows among these metre thick, metre high stone walls. It is impossible to conceive of a harsher existence – even the Greenlanders seem to have had more comfort!
Even now there appears to be a drought and the trees seemed to be dying. Rain is truly a blessing.

GRAECO-ROMAN HYSTERICAL TRAGEDY OR –





John abandoned me, Ruth, on an isolated road with only a torch and no phone or water to drink. Dire circumstances had led to me having a complete hysterical breakdown. That was bad enough but worse was to come! Now read this thrilling and chilling tale!

Our camper is a front wheel not a four wheel drive. Campervans carry most of the weight of their load over or behind the rear wheels. This is true even when our van is loaded with books and booze up the front end. Very slight slopes and surfaces only less than the best and our front wheel slips and we are stuck fast.
We had filled up both water tanks before leaving Slovenia. (we use very little water) and these tanks are over the rear left wheel so leaving Trogir proved difficult. Fortunately John had parked carefully and was able to power the vehicle off the gravelly slope after mangling both mats we put down to give Laika some grip. As we drove away we discussed ditching the water to see if it helped but first we had to get to Split and take the ferry to the island of Korčula.

We arrived off the ferry in the dark at Vela Luka about nine at night and set off to find the ‘well-signposted’ camp site. The little town has few street lights and the new moon had set. Having explored the harbour area, John decided on the posh people’s road just above the port. With luck we were able to turn around before the dead end, as the road was level and tarred and the edges delineated clearly. Back at the ferry port we found the map of Vela Luka and set off again. We ended up circling again to the harbour road and John agreed to phone the camp site for directions.

Once more we set off into the night – John convinced that the camp must be on the same road as The Big Cave and me not at all sure because caves are often in rocky mountainous outcrops and high places.

Up and up, we climbed. The road tarred but narrow, twisted up the hill, past empty stone terraces without habitation. John started to look for somewhere to turn around but it was too late! We had come to a steep hairpin bend, Laika’s wheels spun, John jammed on the brakes and there we were stuck. Laika sitting like a giant toggle holding the curve of the road together – front wheels on the up bend and back wheels on the down bit . . .
I had hysterics. The proper, sobbing, hyper-ventilating, abdabs. It goes way back to childhood and a runaway car on a gravel kopjie road at nursery school. I cannot sit in a car on a precipice, or the edge of a quay, even with the brakes on and the engine off.

We let out as much water as possible but most of it was in the top tanks not in the waste, I managed to control my fear enough to get into the van and find the torch so we could try reversing. In fact we got the van backward round the bend enough to consider reversing all the way down. It proved impossible however, to give John enough light and shouted instructions from behind the van to go any distance this way. Finally John decided he would have to drive Laika hard and fast around the bend and keep going until the road levelled out and he found a place to turn around. With a muttered apology, he leapt into the van, revved up the engine, spun the wheels and powered off into the night, leaving me alone with the bats, the horned vipers, the scorpions and the torch, on an isolated mountain road.

Laika’s tail lights disappeared and I set off up the road after her thinking how infinitely preferable walking is to driving and gradually becoming calmer. The road had stopped twisting. After a while I saw John in the distance walking towards me. The countryside was no longer so precipitous and we drove a little further until we found a T-junction of sorts where we planned to turn around.

We were jammed between stone walls a meter thick with rough scrub around us. Backwards and forwards we went, manoeuvring the van around bit by bit. We ended up angled across the T-junction blocking both routes and in a very vulnerable position. We needed just another couple of wiggles to turn completely.

Then in the distance we saw a saloon car with a missing headlight approaching steadily. John was jammed in the cab on the opposite side of the van by the stone wall and I was pressed against the door facing the newcomers with only the torch for protection. I held my breath and waited. The car was now close enough for me to see that it was full of young men, dark-eyed, dark skinned and with thick black curly hair . . .

KAMP MINDEL The Almond Tree Camp
Four handsome, courteous, and quiet young men waited while we finally reversed Laika out of trouble. They pulled their car off the road to give us space and when John went to thank them and ask them if they knew were the camp was, they offered to drive ahead of us to show us the way. They must have driven some 20 kms out of their way, (We were very lost!) and when we thanked them again, they said they had done it for ‘peace’.
We think they meant peace and brotherhood rather than because they had been disturbed by my abdabs!
We were very, very, grateful.
Camp Mindel was waiting for us – I guess it was about 11 at night and we had had no supper but we could hear singing a capella! It was a party, Croatian men’s voices, true and melodious, singing and laughing. We heard strangely enough, the tunes of ‘My Bonny lies over the Ocean’ and ‘Irene Goodnight’ among many songs. It was a beautiful ending to the evening on the stone wall under the stars among the fig and olive trees.

YET MORE SPLIT




Rebecca West's book has been really useful and insightful about the land of the south Slavs, Yugoslavia as was, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia and Kossovo, Macedonia and Montenegro.
The sunset photo was taken from the ferry leaving Split - as the sun was setting we were visited by a Greek god in a Zodiac inflatable. He was riding up the wake of the ferry stark naked but vanished as I reached for camera and binocs so all you can see is the last of Apollo.

MORE SPLIT





SPLIT






Diocletian's Palace at Split is fascinating. It was built 1700 years ago and has been lived in, used, inhabited ever since then. As you can see Dioclatian and his Praetorian Guard are still resident.

BEER DRINKING TO BRING THE COWS DOWN THE MOUNTAIN

FOR THE CAFÉ SOCIETY OF CRANFIELD BRINGING THE COWS DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN On our last afternoon in Slovenia we had about 3 inches of rain in 3 hours. The river came up a metre in that time and was still rising as we left next day, in our soggy, muddy wheely house. The Triglav Mountains were white with the first autumn snows. On our last evening the village was rehearsing for the annual party when the cows come down from the mountains for the winter and John and I went dancing. Here are some appropriate dances for anyone who has enjoyed drinking beer with us. Click on the arrow and music will sound.


PICTURE CREDITS



PICTURE CREDITS

PRODUCER/DIRECTOR – JOHN
STARRING ‘T’ IN HIS FIRST ROLE
SUPPORTING ACTRESS ‘J’
SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCES – JOHN
And introducing STOMPJIE – a touching performance by a footless scavenging chaffinch playing a disabled member of an ethnic minority!

CAMERA – RUTH
BEST BOY – RUTH
GRIP – RUTH
CATERING – RUTH
SECURITY – RUTH
LOCATION -JOHN
ANIMAL HANDLER – RUTH
LIASSION – RUTH
CONTINUITY – RUTH
GAFFER – RUTH
GOFER – RUTH
BUCK STOPPER - RUTH
STUNTMAN - RUTH
HEALTH AND SAFETY - RUTH
PROPS - RUTH

The company wish to assure their audience that no animals were harmed in the making of this film except the fish caught on Rozac beach, the four fish gutted by Ruth and eaten by the crew, all the wasps who died in the wasp trap, all birds foolish enough to eat white bread crumbs, and several ants given the ‘stone’ treatment by ‘T’.
FILMED AT TROGIR, SPLIT, OCKRUG AND THE SPLENDID ROZACS CAMPING

KITE FLYING AT OKRUG, TROGIR

This is a picture when I had been jumping into the sea.



I was good at jumping!



Here's Grandad flying Ruth's kite that they got in China.



I did that. Now Mummy's flying the kite.

SNORKELLING AT TROGIR WITH GRANDAD

Before we start....



Here I am looking at fish.



Nearly ready...



Mummy making sure I am OK.



Swimming with Grandad.



Swimming with Grandad again. I'm getting good, aren't I?



After this, I swam without armbands.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

GRANDAD AND RUTH'S HOME ON WHEELS

It's me again, little T. This is a picture of Grandad and Ruth's home. They live in it all the time! You can just see my reindeer bag on the ground. (Grandad says it's an elk,whatever that is.)



Here we are again, looking at Ruth.

BIRTHDAY

Here are some pictures of Mummy's birthday, opening her presents. I gave Mummy a music box that plays "Happy Birthday". I think it was her best present! Here we are looking at the present my Bruton Grandma gave to Mummy. It was a scarf. Here we are at Mummy's birthday dinner as the sun was going down. Ruth took the pictures. Here I am, helping Ruth how to take better pictures!

And here's a video!

Beached

Here we are watching fishermen. They put a net around all the fish and then two men dive in the water and throw the fish onto the beach.



There's a crab!



Listening to Grandad telling a story.



He's stopped.



We are watching the captain getting ready to sail back to the campsite.