Friday, 10 July 2009

Jack de Crow

In 1990, I had three months with nowhere to live (or at least anywhere I wanted to live, to be fair), no income and no inclination to get a job (as I was due to start the job I am indeed still in). So I spent two week volunteering at the Centre for Altrnative Technology in Machynlleth, then cycled through Wales & southern england, visiting people I knew, and when I failed to find a floor for the night, camping. Income came from lunchtime busking on a mandolin, which otherwise shared the rear pannier with a tent, sleeping bag and a change of clothes. When I found myself at Ramsgate I got a ferry and crossed Belgium, Holland and Germany (largely along the Rhine & Neckar rivers), reaching Tübingen, south of Stuttgart to visit a travelling acquaintance, before getting the train home in about 18 hours (reading Jilly Cooper's 'Polo' I recall, being the thickest of the books in english I could find in a fleamarket.

A very kind recent loan of a book written by Sandy Mackinnon brought that all back (and made it seem all very pedestrian). Transport for him was a mirror dinghy, the instrument was the penny whistle, and he did Ellesmere to the black sea (without the aid of a cross chanel ferry, too). I do hope some of the situations are exaggerated, as he seemed to risk his life about twice a week - but a lovely human adventure, and make me glad I've had my own experiences, too. I was going to say 'current reading', but I finished it at about 1.30am last night. ;-(

There's a nice article about the trip here, which also includes a couple of photos - the book itself is lovingly illustrated by the author's own line drawings, making it even more like a Swallows & Amazons adventure. Recommended.

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