Friday, October 3, 2008

Moving on for more money

I'm not doing this anymore, I'm doing www.bblanks.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nightboat to Cairo

Seven days. Six Egyptians. 10 tonne of prawn. One skipper from Donegal. No shower. One fridge full of bacon. Two hours sleep a day. A grand adventure on the 80ft rust heap that is the trawler Argo K.

I can't decide which was worse the claustrophobia of living in a tiny box with eight other men for all that time, the smell of fish guts everywhere in spite of the presence of air fresheners in every corner, or the fact that everything you touched felt like chip shop curtains.

Smoking two packs of cigarettes a day and getting our first introduction to Nuts and Zoo and Egyptian porn, myself and Steve Ryan went working on the trawler. He has better photos than me on his site: Steady-handed bastard.

We wanted to write an article sure, but also to see if we could cut it amongst real men. Mohammed, Hassan, Said and co. were real men. Tough bastards from Alexandria with a combined experience of about 100 years at sea. They showed us pictures of their girlfriends back in Drogheda and Tallaght. They were scarier than some of the fish we pulled in.

Every six hours an alarm rang around the boat and we dragged another tonne of fish in. Most of it got thrown over. Quotas don't allow the fishermen to catch certain fish, but certain fish have a wide-on for nets and can't help themselves. Dead haddock, dead cod and dead sole all had to be pitched over the sides.

Anyway, I'm going to post more on this later but for now I've got to grab another shower, and then one after that, and one after that...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

98almera: for sale, single and in suburbia

The worst thing about coming to the end of the road is that you have to make another decision and the decision you've got make now is much more than the usual motorway or secondary road, ham or cheese service station sandwich or go fast and chug petrol or go slow and sip.

We sped back through Northern Germany last week. Up until the last minute it was going to be Luxembourg. Then we had a fight and neither of us gave a shit about going to Luxembourg anymore and we ended up in Antwerp. Antwerp is as pretty as Christmas. It's home to chips, beer and waffles. I crashed the car into a low pole and pissed off spent the next two days getting drunk and fat. Summer was over in Belgium before they told Ireland. Already people were wearing scarves and hats. The next day we went to Brugges. For Colin and Brendan's sake. We had a puncture there and I had to put on the spare which was so worn down it felt like we were driving on a rim. It took a whole day to get along the north coast of France and then back across on the boat for the Electric Picnic Festival.

"That's the queerest fecking car ever," was the first thing we heard getting back into Ireland. It's nice to feel welcome. Coming through Roscrea some kid gave us the fingers. That's real love. After the festival we drove to Kildare and that's where 98almera's adventure stopped. That night Bridie caught a flight back to Australia and I got thinking of my next plan. It's a trawler. No one's put any spray paint on it. And it probably won't get me any props but after making a road trip to Berlin with the express intention of learning how to rave, it follows that the next thing I'd do would be to learn how to fish.

For the moment I'm broke so the car's for sale. It's some offer. You're not only buying a vehicle but a dream. Four wheels that only point towards freedom. Think about it. And I did say I'd accept favours as well as cash

Monday, August 25, 2008

The art of letting go

Up early in the morning. Sure the sheep and the ducks won't like it but they knew the dream would only last so long. Ireland's their home. And the sauerkraut would have eventually turned their stomachs to gloop. Better to feed them on Irish grass.

We've got to lighten the load. First we thought about the money, like anyone who's had to make it in Ireland does. We tried to sell our excess luggage. In Berlin you can buy a bike for a fiver. You can get drunk on coppers and you can pick up a suit in a charity shop in exchange for a handful of fresh spit. It wasn't easy. We had to be imaginative. We wrote a cute sign for the bicycle that worked and then a desperate sign for the keyboard that also worked. It's important to not hold on to too many things. Memories are heavy enough.

The Vatican is the smallest state in Europe. If you're an atheist, Luxembourg is. See you tomorrow Luxembourg. And goodbye Berlin.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Exclusive: The Burger King-Berghain conspiracy theory

In Berlin, they'll tell you, the trains stop at one thirty and then don't start again until about four thirty in the morning. And Berliners don't get taxis; tourists do, so on an average night in the city most people wait it out that extra few hours if they miss the one thirty train. But let me tell you this, it's all a lie. The trains run 24-hour it's just that the nightclub and fastfood union, also known as the 'Disco-Doner Alliance' block book all the carriages so you're forced to go clubbing or hang out at some fastfood joint. They've been doing it for years now, operating ghost train routes all over the city, pumping more and more cash into the ticket machines to keep the train doors firmly locked for those three hours. And if all this corruption smells like Donegal, let me tell you that it goes all the way up to Merkel. She's in on it too, and how could she not be knowing that Berlin's fragile to fucked economy is dependent almost entirely on nightclubs and takeaways. This is old school protectionism much like government advertisements encouraging people to eat more fruit and vegetables when scientists keep telling us that eating that shit can lead to myopia and dementia. It's clever and you've got to applaud that kind of people-control but you don't have to put up with it. Next time you get caught in the three-hour fog between late night and early morning have some fun with it. Go behind the counter and serve yourself. Order your food, on foot, through the drive-thru and ask the taxi drivers if you can drive around in their car for a while, but don't give into their games and don't play it their way. Berlin was built on resistance and by not resisting it'll fall. Fight to the bitter end of the night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Je cerche le accommodation svp

We're off again. This weekend myself and Bridie and our four-wheeled wonder shall take to the highways of Europe once more. We're racing back for the Electric Picnic Festival in Ireland. The car has been requested to play some of its bigger hits. So en route we're going to go through Belgium, Luxembourg and Paris and maybe take in Nantes and somewhere else up there in the North West of France. Long shot I know, but if anyone's been following our adventures you'll remember that the last time we put up our tent was at a music festival called Melt. The one where it rained for three days solid. Remember it was so bad Bridie dumped me just for taking her there? Well I've been undumped but I'm scarred and don't think I can risk another tent fiasco. Long shot, but if anyone has a piece of floor, end of a bed, warm doorstep somewhere between Berlin and Cork, I promise we'll be the best guests you've ever set your eyes upon. The picture above is not indicative of our personalities in any way whatsoever.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

German drug dealers are nothing to fuck with

“Entshculdiung. Sprechen Sie Englisch?”
“I speak the little piece, yes.”
“Do you have any pills?”
“Yes, I am the dealer yes.”
“Cool. Just two, please. How much are they?”
“Ten Euro. It is like so, six for one and ten for two okay? They are the Dolce And Gabbana Pills. They are much strong you know. With MDMA. Hardcore for the dancing yes?”
“Yeah, dancing. Sure, that’s cool. Listen, my friend said you sold her two for a fiver. Can you do me two for a fiver as well?”
“Well it is normal price the ten for two.”
“Ah come on please.”
“Well it’s that my dealer wants pay in the morning tomorrow and you cannot make a profi with five for two.”
“Ah come on man, please. I only asked you because my friend said you were cool.”
“Yes, but I am also the only dealer in the club at this moment too.”
“You got me. But if I had an option I’d still come to you first.”
“Okay, okay, I make discount. We say five for two but you are lucky this is not normal price.”
“Cheers man, you’re sound…Shit, I’ve only got four on me. Fuck. Will you take four.”
“Ah so, this is big discount.”
“Please man, I spent the last of my cash getting in here.”
“Okay, okay I make more discount.”
“Sound. You’re shit cool man. This is sweet.”
“Okay, okay.”
“Hey you don’t smoke by any chance do you?”
“I smoke yes.”
“Ah you’re too kind seriously, that is sound. Thanks for that. Two? Okay yeah I’ll put this behind my ear for later. Deadly. What’s your name? Gunther? Cool name. You’re a good guy Gunther.”
“Ah thank you.”
“Talk to you later man. Tschuss.”
“My fire?”
“Oh your lighter. Sorry. Keep it? You sure? Cheers Gunther. What a guy.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

German Knackers

There are knackers everywhere in Berlin. But unlike the ones we have in Ireland who are trained to stay in their ghettos during daylight hours and only come out to cause mischief at night, German knackers have infiltrated regular people’s domains to the point where one day I fear they may take over. Berlin knackers are hard to distinguish from good people. They’ve adopted their dress and their mannerisms and have cunningly made themselves blend in. Once blended they surreptitiously wedged their foot in the door of good German society and nothing, not even strong bleach, will get them out. These photos are a catalogue of their rise to power. First they had their own bread, then their own market stalls and now they have their own tram stations. Sure they mess around with the spelling on occasion. That's only smart. No point in giving up the game before the whistles blown, right? And believe you me what the knackers lack in hygiene they make up for in smarts.
So don’t look away. German knackers are on the rise. The next time you visit this city, it may no longer be going under the name Berlin, but knacker. Good people all over the world would do well do pray that day never comes.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Irish Abroad

There isn't much of an Irish scene in Berlin, but that won't stop me creating one. In an effort to record all that's around me I've been trying to get in touch with as many Irish musicians in Berlin as possible for an interview and a photograph. Being an Irish person abroad and meeting another can lead to a process that anthropologists refer to as hyper-celtuality. In a bid to distance themselves from the life they've left behind, the newly aquainted micks will invariably turn into that which they're trying hardest to avoid. Each interview began at a reasonable time. 4pm is reasonable in Berlin. And each interview ended up with both of us getting drunk or stoned and half of them with me getting badly lost in some Berlin suburb with no money left for taxi fare. We were all agreed that the drunks and the thugs who occupy the cities back home were one of the reasons we left Ireland. Berlin is safe. Berlin is peaceful. The only people who have to worry about getting a doing are the neo-nazis. But they stay in their place and the hippies who control the centre don't go out looking for them. So we found a city without thugs, where people walked in straight lines after midnight, didn't smash bottles or shout their drink orders from the other side of the bar, and we missed the worst aspects of the Ireland social scene so we recreated them. Once a week, we'll have a meet. Tell your friends. But stay indoors on Thursday evenings or you'll have to put up with wild singing, sporadic vomiting, groping in doorways, bad-boy hooliganism and poor attempts at stealing bicycles. I'm looking to get part-funding from the tourist board and maybe a drinks label on board too. In time we could export the idea to major cities all over the world and for a small fee your fellow citizens could feel 3am chip shop menace like the Irish do.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cars, ducks, bikes and cats

This is Paul. I don't know much about him but I can tell you that the guy has a knack for finding a car that should be patented, compressed and manufactured into tiny hand-held devices that are given out to all automobile owners who live in built up areas. Paul had two clues: the name 'charlie' and a vague reference to ALDI. In Berlin for his holidays, with a morning free, the dude makes his way to Checkpoint Charlie, walks around for about half an hour and finds the car as easy as a set of keys in a back pocket. For his troubles, Paul's getting to go see Kraftwerk play in September in Wicklow. That was a competition run by the good people at Bodytonic. Now I'd like to start my own. You see I went out with my bicycle on Wednesday last. I ended up at the absinthe bar in Kreuzberg and like desert follows dinner, I got drunk. The following events have returned to me in anachronological order but at some stage I went swimming in the lake near Wedding, drank 8cent beers in Alexander Square, took a dance class, broke and then fixed my ankle, passed out twice on a park bench, had a quick row with my girlfriend – I lost badly – and then somehow ended up in my own bed. The bicycle didn't make it back with me but a family of ducks did. They're being cared for by my neighbour who has wild cats. I didn't know this but the two are supposed to get on really well. In some cases they even breed, giving rise to these hybrid creatures who love and hate water at the same time. Either my bicycle got bored or got picked up by some other bike, I don't know, but Berlin's a big city and when you can't remember even a quarter of your steps it's hard to retrace them. Anyway, it's a racer. It's got pink handlebars. I'm pretty sure it's the only bike in Berlin with pink handles. I would have photos but I never thought it blog-worthy until it wasn't there anymore. Anyway, Paul, maybe you're still knocking around the city, or maybe someone of Paul's ilk wants to step up to the plate, but I miss my bike and I'm prepared to pay to give it back. If anyone's got any leads, sightings or vague inclinations please let me know. I will gladly compensate you with your weight in kebabs.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Viva Polania

The poor machine had been crying out for a run. She’d yelp and moan every time I took her down to the shops or the video rental. She longed for the open road and the slow as a bicycle bullshit in the city centre was driving her nuts. There was nothing to be done about it but go on another road trip. The beginning of Poland is about an hour and a half from Berlin geographically, and about150 years psychologically. The Polish border town of Sulpice, from what we could see, was basically established to provide Germans with the four things they can’t get on their own side of the border: cheap smokes, cheap flowers, cheap haircuts and cheap hookers. Presumably German couples weekend there. The lady will get her hair done and buy a bouquet, while the man will get his balls licked in the woods. Afterwards they reconvene and smoke lots of cheap cigarettes, before driving home glad that in the EU there’s always some other fucker lower down the ladder than you.

Now the problem with living in Berlin and not having regular employment per say, is that you can never remember what date it is. The insurance on my car ran out a week ago, but sure I thought it was still the middle of July and didn’t we take off and not realise that we were driving an uninsured vehicle until we hit the border. The security was tiny, and why wouldn’t it be? The Polish government have no beef with the Germans just homosexuals and women. But the problem with arriving in Poland is that you’re immediately met with a very confusing roundabout. Get it wrong and you’re back in Germany. Get it wrong three times, pass through the border three times and eventually the border control will put down the porn and come out of their booth and start giving you shit. We swallowed the old insurance disc and pretended the NCT disc was the insurance instead. Border control asked us where we were going. We said Sulpice. He said, “Go and don’t come back.” So we did.

Did you know the Polish don’t take the Euro yet? Neither did we. So after we had a lovely plate of schnitzel and coleslaw in this roadside joint that looked like a chicken coop, we had to drink enough to bring our bill up to €20. (Otherwise we’d have got change back in pigs feet, or gold teeth or whatever currency they use in Poland.) That’s a lot of booze in Poland. Lucily, Sergei and Sasha, Linus and Pavel were on hand to help us. They were bus and truck drivers from the Ukraine. They tried to get me to pimp Bridie out. I was missing out on a fortune they told me. We were low on gas money and car insurance isn’t cheap but in the end Bridie decided against it. She had a headache. Still it’s good to know that if the whole making-it-in-Berlin thing blows up in our faces, that just an hour and a half away is the answer to all our cash flow problems.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dead Germans

Armin and Bernd weren't good friends but they had a lot in common. They both liked to get their kicks in unconventional ways. Not content with walks in the park, social drinks or even wild nights of uninhibited sexual passion, Armin liked to have his body parts eaten and Bernd, conversely liked to eat body parts – literally not euphemistically.

They met, as many like-minded people do, on the Internet, and soon a date was set up. Skipping the usual dinner and movie staple, Armin and Bernd went straight back to Armin's where he had a room set up to suit the mood. It looked like a butcher's shop. Long story short, Armin sliced off Bernd's dick. They ate it together (it's assumed it was roasted with rosemary, but no one knows for certain) and then Armin stabbed Bernd in the neck, chopped up his remaining body parts and froze them for countless meals to come. Armin was arrested and is serving time as we speak.

Five years later and a hot 20-year-old who went looking for love on the internet winds up dead outside of Berlin and the mumbling voices start saying there's something rotten in Deutschland.

Anja was a bright young model. Michael was a 37-year-old photographer. They met online, found a common interest in vampires, and like summer follows spring, the next thing the couple were meeting up to strangle the fuck out of each other in a dirty hotel room.

Now I'm not trying to say that society has lost the run of itself or the Internet is a bad thing, or even that Germany is a bad place, but in certain cases wouldn't it be nice if couples courted for a little while, with their parents in tow, at a reasonably safe distance?

The 98almera blog strongly recommends all newcomers to this fair country to only entertain team dating for the moment.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A typical day in Berlin

Picture this: you've been out in a club till noon. You walk out onto the street. Your eyes still haven't adjusted to the light and your ears are still only picking up tsum, tsum, tsum from speakers that are a long way behind you.When all of a sudden an egg flies out of nowhere and then a head of cabbage, and after it a big bag of flour soaked in brown curry powder and vinegar.
This is the annual Berlin vegetable war fought between two neighbourhoods that used to be on either side of the wall. The West side have been kicking ass for three years in a row but this year they got pummeled by the East. The violence is limited to the soft kind and anyone who takes the war too seriously gets thrown in the river.

After that, filthy and stinking, the crowd all head along to the East Side Gallery and hang out on the river beach watching hand ball or Ricardo Villalobos who just happened to turn up to play party hits. There are grandmothers and some of the biggest gurners in the crowd and fresh pizza going around for €4.

This is just another typical day in Berlin. The girl with the pink umbrella is just seconds away from getting a water bomb full of yellow curry all over her nice black dress.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Speed, €3 noodles and my blocked sink

Speed is big news in Berlin. It's everywhere. Now speed is not a bad drug. It won't convince you that you have flying abilities or make you chew holes in your cheeks, or give you a superman complex. In that regard it's a good drug. And it would be a totally good drug if it weren't for the fact that it turns you into an unstoppable, two-headed, red-eyed consumption freak. You'll chain your way through two packets of smokes in a few hours easy, and you drink like it's last orders on the eve of the rapture. It's like a performance enhancing drug, and the performance is drinking. You don't drink smart either. You'll take slugs from anything, be it wine, shots, beer or even a half-finished bottle of poppers that happened to be closer to reach than the beer. And it doesn't stop. If the speed is specially good it might never stop. And money is no object either as speed makes you resourceful. If you can't afford any more alcohol, you'll find it. You'll do shots of cough medicine or mix cleaning products with coke. If you run out of smokes, you'll roll teabags in bible pages. It's awful. But speed, at heart, is a good drug. If it were a person, you know it would give generously to charities and never use the word 'cunt' in polite company. So when you wake up two days later and your sink looks like this and you can't remember whether it was you who puked or one of the eight other madmen you took back to drink bleach and smoke earl grey with, then you shouldn't really blame the speed, just blame the freak that it unleashed in you. Speed is your friend and deep down it means you no harm.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Order amongst pyromaniacs

Berliners have a dysfunctional attitude to the rules. You can find yourself on some dirt road in the back end of nowhere with no traffic as far as you can see, and a little queue of pedestrians will develop all waiting for the redman to go green. Smoking is illegal in bars and restaurants, yet unless you're somewhere posh, no one's going to tell you to stub your smoke out. And this is where this little piece is leading to. Berliners like to burn cars. Never mind that one in five jobs in Germany are linked to the automobile industry. Actually, come to think of it, seeing no one works in this city, maybe that's why they're doing it? But they like to burn cars, not in a Parisian manner, but in an orderly manner. They pick BMWs and Audis. And they have a map. I guess that's to stop someone burning the same car twice. Order amongst pyromaniacs: that's Berlin in three words. Incidentally my car's parked right in the centre of the tight cluster of spermy-looking tags.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hitchhiking etiquette and Franz Ferdinand

Last weekend, we took the car down to Melt Festival. En route we had to pick up a tent and welly boots. The tent I'd had coming over was missing a pole. At night we'd have to take turns sleeping standing up to support the roof. We found a tent but no boots (This will become important later).

I've written a couple of articles on the festival on, but if you don't have time to check them out it'll suffice to say, no drugs and lots of rain are not the ingredients required for a weekend of fun. The one good thing was finding a way through the partition and into the backstage area. Apologies to Franz Ferdinand for drinking all the beer from your rider, and apologies to Bonde Do Role: we're not in a band called 'gay faces'. I don't even think there is a band called the gay faces. But if I start reading about a new Brazilian 'buzz band' going under that name, I'll come looking for royalties. Apologies to Roisin Murphy too. I spilled Red Bull on her shoes.

At the end of the night, there were giant puddles separating the campers from their tents. This is when the welly boots would have come in handy. Three hours of sleep later, we went home covered in muck. We picked up two hitchhikers who broke all hitching etiquette by first talking too much, then spilling beer and then falling asleep and snoring. The weekend was so bad that, that night my girlfriend decided to split up with me.
On the plus side, one of the hitchhikers gave me ten bucks for petrol, so that's me sorted for halloumi kebabs for another week.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's Santogold's round

The Germans have a fine thing known as cheap alcohol and the city is awash with it. You can buy baby-sized bottles of Jagermeister between lollipops and Bounty bars at shop counters. It's so cheap it could be classed as a welfare perk. If you buy a case of beer and return the bottles, they compensate you with hard cash. If you're a productive drunk, you could spend your night filling your pockets, or your loved-one's handbag, with bottles, return them the next day, and then use the excuse that drinking is your employment. And the bars don't ever close, they just move across the street and take turns like a relay race. In Berlin, the tradition is to help your barman lock up then follow him to another bar on the next street. This refreshing cycle can go on for days, weeks even. Stories abound of youngsters coming to this fine town and spending years caught up in bar crawls until the €50 (it is that cheap) they had in their pocket runs dry. The alcohol may have meant my driving is suffering, but I think my photography is coming on really well. This is Santogold playing at Tape, or maybe it's that Roma kid who cleaned my windows for 10 cents.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Switzerland to Berlin through the eye of a storm

The Autobahn is possibly the only stretch of road in all of Europe where you can cruise along at 220km an hour and not even be in the top ten fastest drivers on the road. But at 220 strange things start to happen to a road-weary Japanese import. Everything begins to rattle, the steering wheel turns like a rusty nut and the aerial that had been picking up the German classic rock station keeps drifting away to static. Boston, static. Journey, static. Steppenwolf, static. You turn into a robot. Strasbourg, Frankfurt, Nurnberg, you devour the whole of Germany and see nothing but Polish trucks and Audis. 1500 kms of countryside, thousands of years of tradition and development and all you know of it are the same service stations every 100kms selling hotdogs and variations of Red Bull. They also sell really bad porn. The nasty housewife shit. The front covers have stars covering their non-PG bits. I recommend covering some of their faces too. If the truck drivers in these parts stoop that low in their appreciation of females then I think it's probably safer for pretty men to piss in the bushes rather than the 20 cent toilets.

The last three months have been beautiful in Germany. They had the sort of weather that Naples only dreams of. We brought a storm. It didn't stop for ten hours. The roof leaked the whole way, so whenever we eventually got to Berlin and I got out of the car to ask for directions, it looked like I'd pissed in my jeans. It was midnight, we tried to go for a beer but nowhere would take Swiss Francs. Twelve hours straight driving turns you into a zombie. I eventually fell asleep with my eyes open and my arms in the air, still steering.

This is where I left my car. If anyone can speak German and wouldn't mind translating, I'd appreciate it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Stuck inside of Switzerland

There's a lesson to be learned from this, and that's when on a roadtrip never leave the road. We decided to take a bus up into the mountains for a day and left the car down at the foot of the valley. But then two days of massive storms meant we couldn't get back to the car again. Two days eating fondue, listening to yodel music and staring at mountains that are so fucking huge they just hang over you like a pack of bullys and we're ready for Berlin. We've about 1500kms to do. The plan was to make it there in two days and spend a night in Frankfurt but I'm sick of driving and sick of throwing a days wages into the tank every time I want to fill it, I just want to get there. Red Bull is about as strong a substance as you can find at short notice in the Swiss Alps. The best plan is to take it intravenously and tie a headband above my ears so the bubbles don't go to my brains. I've got a playlist set up so that every fifth song is Hounds of Love – I won't be falling asleep with that coming round every fifteen minutes to jolt me. This time tomorrow night, we should be in Berlin.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Nevers to the cheapest hotel in Switzerland

French motorways cost about €10 a pop and being a foreigner, with no way of making a traffic fine stick, you can drive as fast as you like. This is fine but it ends up costing a fortune in petrol. It's also about as boring as it gets. Passing through the Borgogne, both sides of the road as far as you can see are just vineyards or wheat or cornfields. This is the land of Chablis. Old Roman roads that go straight for hundreds of kilometres and then we reach the Jura mountains and the beginning of the Swiss Alps. The border crossing guard pulls us over and asks us what we're doing in Switzerland. "Trekking," I reply. "Really?" he says. I'm hoping he doesn't go through the back of the car as we've got a mountain of musical equipment, a bicycle, suitcases, a tent and loads of books piled in there, and if he takes them out I don't know how I'll get them back in again. "Enjoy," he says and we go on. Ten years ago I got a full body search at the border crossing into Canada. I'd been on a bus from Mexico for the three days previous. I had no money and all I'd eaten were doughnuts. The bus had no air conditioning, and was packed with inmates from Oakland prisons. I stank and felt bad for the guy who had to do the search. It wasn't his idea. It was the nazi bitch at customs who asked me if I'd any drugs in my rucksack. Of course I hadn't I was crossing one of the most regulated borders in the world. Then she asked if I did drugs, and I said no again, and she didn't believe that so I had to get searched. He ended up finding a small bud at the bottom of my rucksack. I think It'd come all the way from Australia, through NZ and Central America. He ignored it. To this day I love Canadians.

We arrive near Lausanne around ten in the evening. We put up our tent in a public park but get moved on by the police. Then we get moved on again from another park. At around one in the morning we decide to pull into the laneway of someone's house and just sleep in the car. We're so tired at this stage that even if someone offering free money were to wake us up, he might get his arm bitten off.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Roscoff to Nevers-never land.

Nevers is a town about 200kms south of Paris. It took all day to get there. Possibly because we ended up on the road to Brest going West rather than East. Maps are funny things. They're apt to change like that. I'm driving and Bridie is doing most of the map reading. She's from Australia and is new to Europe. Up until three months ago she thought the 16A out of Dublin would take her to London. French is not her strong point, it's not mine either. On top of that she can't find her glasses half of the time, so imagine one person who can't see and another who can't pronounce, trying to pick their way through a French countryside where every town is spelt with silent 'x's and 's's and you can see how come five '0 clock that evening we were both glad to still be in France and not Spain. The tracking on the car is shot too. It keeps on pushing to the right. It's so bad that you can actually overtake and then pull back into the right with no hands. One good thing is that a temperamental steering wheel keeps you awake, you're so busy correcting all the time. Outside of Nevers there's a campsite. The French guys running the place give us a discount on account of the car. They offer us joints too. The only food we have is a tin of corn and a tin of long beans, which we mash together in a sawn-off coke bottle. Deep in the middle of the country that taught the world how to eat and we're chowing down on baby food.