Hello again my friends and once again thanks for sticking with me so long, I keep getting notices from WordPress telling me the site is doing well, I am getting more followers etc. and frankly it still baffles me! Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining.
When I left you last time I had hooked up with my Virtual Tourist friends for the annual Euromeet in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and despite my very limited mobility I was still enjoying being away from home even if it was nowhere near as far as I usually travel but it was a whole lot better than the mind-numbing nothing I had experienced during the Government’s ridiculous and now increasingly discredited policy of house arrest. If you want evidence of this, look at the Swedish experience.
Back to the tale, and I do promise you it turned out to be quite a tale but everything in due course. I alluded in my previous post that very little happened the next day. My friends were going out to something quite energetic which I was never going to be able to do and I did not hold them up so I dipped out of that one.
I knew they were having a meal that evening and I knew where it was. Again, I must sing the praises of Sarah who had organised the whole thing and I make no apologies for doing so. Like Claus, Johnny Gayton, Valentina and others who had previously undertaken the task of the Euromeet I have the utmost respect for anyone with that level of organisational skill, something I certainly do not possess and it is a task I would never have undertaken even when I was in good health. It is a monumental task and I thank them all for doing it, unpaid, as it is just a delight for someone like me to turn up and have everything ready to go.
I mentioned before that my idea of travel Hell is an organised bus trip or a cruise but VT meets are not like that. You just tell the organisers in advance how much or how little you want to do so they can book things like transport and guided tours (often they guide the tours themselves as Euromeets are usually held in places they know well) and so on.
I hadn’t signed up for anything so I had the day to myself which was spent in a few decent pubs I know in Newcastle, and there is no shortage of those alongside some absolute horrors. In truth, I was still feeling quite weak and the lack of sleep the previous night due to the late night revelry hadn’t helped even if I am fairly insomniac anyway. Nothing really to bore my dear readers with.
I did go to the venue of the evening dinner where all my friends were and they informed me the meal had been excellent. I just wish I had the appetite to join them. I was glad to see that my dear old VT friend DAO was there and had displayed the VT flag as you can see above.
I should perhaps take a moment here to explain a few of the quirks ov Virtual Tourist for those who weren’t involved. I spoke of the immense sense of community there and I do not use that term lightly, it was for real as evidenced by the fact we are still going long after the site was murdered.
There were all sorts of strange little customs and one of them was the flags, of which I still have a couple of little ones which I always carried in my jeans pocket. The idea was to display the flag wherever you travelled and there were competitions for the best flag picture. I have some beauties but sadly not on this computer, I might add some when I get home.
DAO, who I have known for years took the whole thing to another level. He is an American, currently resident in UK, and has been to something ludicrous like 120+ countries. Along with Claus I think they are the best travelled men I have ever met. DAO submitted so many flag photos that the management sent him a really big flag (possibly more than one) and he was designated official VT Flag Bearer and I have to say he does a brilliant job of it. He always carries string, Sellotape, Blutack and Heaven knows what else so he can display the flag under any circumstances, the man is seriously organised and you would not believe some of the weird and wonderful places I have seen them. Again, photos of my flag escapades to come when I get home and dig out my flashcards, you want to see the one of the two young Buddhist monks sitting in a wheelbarrow holding it!
Another great feature of VT was the Barney Awards (named after a long dead New Zealand sheep, it’s a long story, don’t ask). Anyway, in one of the early “Barneys” I was thrilled, not to mention flabbergasted, by being named member of the year and the very professional plaque which they mailed me from California still has pride of place on the bookshelf (one of many) in my living room. I have been awarded four medals by Her Majesty the Queen which I cherish them absolutely and wear them very proudly on Remembrance Sunday but the VT plaque is right up there with them.
There is one of these semi-philosophical questions about if your house was on fire what would you save? Easy, my medals, my guitar (well, my favourite one out of many I have and the one that I gig all the time) and my VT plaque. I’d be sorry to lose my old record collection but I could live without just about everything except the three items mentioned.
Oh dear, it has happened again. I started off by telling you that the first part of this post was about a day where I said that little if nothing had happened and that was true but my regular readers will be used to it by now and anyone who has somehow randomly stumbled upon this will either have to bear with it or, and I say this quite openly, go to another travel blog. There are plenty of excellent ones here on WordPress and mostly written in a far less Kerouac style than I seem to adopt.
I just start writing and don’t know where to stop. As anyone who has met me will attest, I write like I talk i.e. far too much and at completely random tangents. I just get into a groove and follow it, sorry if it is not to your liking but at my time of life I really can’t change. I promise you tomorrow is much more interesting.
I was going to run this day into the next as I mentioned in my previous post but it is a long one and I don’t want this turning into a complete War and Peace so I shall leave it here with apologies for the paucity of images. I promise you I did get my camera out of my pocket “tomorrow” so, if you want a look at the stunning Northumbrian coast, stay tuned.