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KiwiBill

Team “Anado Solo” Virtual BCN Challenge 2020 Cruise Log

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Perhaps my marbles are in one of the cans! And my last post also explains why I thought I was moored at Moorfield Junction. It may also account for the strange events on the Anson Branch on Tuesday night. In the morning I will be on my way from MOORCROFT JUNCTION. 

Edited by KiwiBill

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Have another bacon sandwich!

 

The Panel awarded you a bonus point for the one you had yesterday so that has to help!

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Before I absorbed the directive from BCNS Head Office this morning I had already decided that I needed REAL comfort food, not the virtual rubbish on which I have been living for five days. As I write, a batch of REAL GINGERNUTS are nearing perfection in my oven. Perhaps if I had done this on Day 1 I would have been able to tackle more challenges. Behold my REAL creations and the REAL chaos in my NZ kitchen!

I soon will set off from Moorcroft Jn, pop up the Gospel Oak Branch, back to Moorcroft then Bradley Locks to the OLD Line. Pugnipeek moored half a mile from me last night but my systems did not detect even a flicker of life this morning. They may have already crossed with me or they are still sitting at Gospel Oak Junction.

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Hot from the oven!

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REAL chaos

Edited by KiwiBill
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Hurrah! Checked in at 4:36 pm. Score sheet submitted. I'll just have a quick look around and the join you in the beer tent, I assume it is the same one that I helped erect for Nicki & John's wedding at Hockley Port in 2012. I don't remember the tent at Hawne in 2014. Not as much bunting here today as there was at Hawne.

Very interesting to have been able to cruise Gospel Oak, Bradley, Ocker Hill and Wednesbury Loop today.

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I missed the bunting. This was Anglesey 2014. This time your Magic Machine managed situations like this AUTOMATICALLY an unknown number of times. Were there any virtual collisions?

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John and Allan KeepingUp. Hawne at 2014. Nicki has been keeping England afloat this week while we have been swanning around. Do I get a final point for that late swan?

Edited by KiwiBill

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Out of interest, did  your team calculate the total miles and locks you covered during the challenge? If you have already mentioned it in the thread somewhere forgive me, I am asking because I am too lasy to go through 14 threads to find if the information has already been shared

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4 hours ago, cheshire~rose said:

Out of interest, did  your team calculate the total miles and locks you covered during the challenge? If you have already mentioned it in the thread somewhere forgive me, I am asking because I am too lasy to go through 14 threads to find if the information has already been shared

34 locks

83 miles

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I have been given permission to use the Magic Machine on a long route back to Auckland, New Zealand. The six days of the BCN 2020 Virtual Challenge have shown it works well on Baltika and Memories but further careful testing reveals surprisingly that ANY memories, beers and dates can be input and reliable, safe results will be obtained. So; join me on a gentle ramble back to Auckland via Europe, Algeria, Togo, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Papua New Guinea and Australia.  The dates will jump about a bit because fuel considerations dictate that the route is governed by geography.

 

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I have reconfigured my command module following my recent researches. The BCNS 2014 Memory Pack will be replaced by a Memory Trigger which changes from location to location. A slight admixture of Gõsser beer has proved beneficial, probably because of my 50% Austrian blood. Watch this space!

 

I am told that the machine will self-destruct automatically and safely five days after return to Auckland.

 

KiwiBill

Edited by KiwiBill
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KiwiBill's Long Ramble Home - Topic 1 - Europe, North Africa & Near East - 1937 to Present Day

Right! We're off! The way things appear to work, the Memory Trigger Pack has to be a physical tactile object which, when presented to the Machine, gives access to other mementos or artefacts, photos and memories from a quite extensive region. Not of much use to my biographer but I am not doing this for him. You are warned: there will be very little cross-referencing. Let's go! The Memory Trigger Pack (MTP) to start with is a selection of gold and silver coinage from UK and Austria.

 

My mother chased her Kiwi ex-boyfriend to London in 1937 but he negligently married an Oxford lass and Mum had to console herself with a debonair, guitar-playing Austrian refugee doctor. My Aunt Helen arrived in 1938 to rescue her elder sister from the wily foreigner but was also swept of her feet and cooperated with the young lovers. Helen spent the Battle of Britain on the south coast in the WAAF manning one of the earliest radar stations.(ref 'Eyes of theFew') She ended up living, acting and teaching in Italy after spells in Ethiopia and Libya. Shortly before she died in Italy, in genteel poverty, she appeared as one of the old English ladies in 'Tea With Mussolini'. Looking exactly like my grandmother (her mother). Immediately after Dunkirk my Austrian father-to-be was interned as foreigner and sent to Australia.(ref 'Dunera Scandal') Mum was evacuated from London during the Blitz but ended up being bombed anyway in Glasgow where my elder brother was born. They eventually got to Australia and I was born there. My younger brother was born in Auckland and we all lived in Australia until 1949. Dad was sent to what is now Papua New Guinea for a year and we lived there as a family until moving to Auckland at the end of 1949.

 

 

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Bill and Jenny (first wife) left NZ by plane in 1968 and took six months to get to London because they discovered that hitchhiking around the Mediterranean was great fun. From Athens to Istanbul Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary, Western Europe, North Africa, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey again then back to Athens to pick our left-luggage and the plane to London. This is where the cross-links start mounting up. Visiting Aunt Helen in Libya just pre Ghadaffi, loving a sea-side city in Algeria where we ended up living and working four years later, making friends in Egypt who came to visit us in England, making contact with Austrian relations. My Austrian relations all spent the war in Vienna under Hitler. In the mid 1950s my father arranged to bring Rudolf, a Brewery Engineer, to New Zealand with his wife and two adult children.

 

The Scene: Conference Room, Dominion Breweries, Auckland. NZ's biggest brewer supplying a vast population of two million.

Chairman: Next item, appointment of Chief Engineer. How do you pronounce this bloody foreigner's name; Sheezel, Shissel? Probably a bloody Nazi. Bugger it! What does his CV say?

Secretary:  Twelve years Chief Engineer of Vienna Brewery. Monthly production 500,000 hectolitres. 

Chairman:  Hectolitres! What the F*** is a hectolitre?

                            (sound of sliderule slithering)

Secretary:  Umm. Well he was responsible for producing as much beer in a month as  all the breweries in NZ produce in a year.

                                           (pause, silence)

Chairman:  Seems to be a good sort of bloke. I think we can use him.

 

Uncle Rudolf had a successful career with DB then moved on to upgrade two other NZ breweries. The house I live in now was his on one of the sites he was developing and my father had just bought 60 acres out of Auckland. Cut in two and put on very large trailers it was transported 200km and stitched back together. Rudolf and Aunt Fini (Josehpine - famed for yeast baking and being the only woman in NZ who polished her husband's shoes) retired to rural Austria but came back to NZ to be with children and grandchildren. We visited them in Austria during their retirement. They had rescued, from deepest Austria, our only great-grandmother who been to us in Algeria. Do you start to see the possible complications in this telling?

Rudolf and Fini died in NZ while we were London-based. So this stirring of memories is, in part, a wake for them. Everything is linked but the only place where it is all clear is in my head. Elsewhere is data on computers, photos, documents and souvenirs. And my elder daughter lives on a narrowboat in Hockley Port. Will she want the 30kg of beautiful petrified wood she helped collect at the age of four in the Algerian Sahara?

I will return to the Austrian gold 2000 Schilling coin later. It has a both a Vienna and a Tashkent connection.

KiwiBill

 

 

 

Edited by KiwiBill
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KiwiBill's Long Ramble Home - Topic 1 - (Continued) Europe 1969 -2018

With the pressure of the Challenge lifted it is great to get back to life on NZ time and my routine. I even relaxed and read a bit yesterday.

As there is no urgency now, I will ramble happily around UK and Ireland a bit before changing the MTP and moving on to Algeria. I suspect that the table on which I have erected my Command Module plays an important part in its operation. Note the magic glow of that restored wood. It is a round Colonial Edwardian (even Victorian maybe) table around which my brothers and I and many NZ cousins spent many happy Christmas dinners. There is surely magic in that table. Enough technical stuff: I digress.

This is a Canal Forum and I should note that within three months of arriving in the UK in 1969 Jenny and I were on the Oxford Canal on a full-length hire boat out of Braunston. We were hooked! English, Scottish and Brittany canals. Even the relics of Spanish Canals in 2017. Grandparents were forced to crew hire boats everywhere with only one mutiny. So Nicki-Hockley-Port-Poppy had it in her blood at birth.

The following scene, linking Surrey, the Wey, Algeria, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, shows how tangled this ramble could become.

 

The Scene: Top of Wey Navigation 2018 in Poppy.  We overnighted here to partake of some World Cup action. Paused to have a canalside picnic with the Mornements from Ashstead. Bill walks over to chat with Lakatoi who has arrived during the morning. Artwork of lakatoi = oceangoing trading canoe.

Bill:          What's the Papua New Guinea connection with your boat?

Lakatoi:   Used to work there. 

Bill:          Did you? So did I.

Lakatoi:  Really! When was that?

Bill:         1990 to 1997. 

Lakatoi:  Me too! Where were you?

Bill:         Department of Works, Port Moresby 

Lakatoi:  Me too!

(We eventually established that in 1990 Architect Lakatoi and his wife had sat with me at the same table in a scruffy hotel in Moresby for several weeks while waiting for Dept  of Works to find accommodation for us. While Poppy was picnicking, Lakatoi slipped away into the free-boating life which was his new existence. I never got around to finding out whether his wife was inside the boat.)

 

Another loose end needs to be tied up. A week later we were in London on Poppy doing the Tidal Thames and, from the top of the Belfast, I took shots of narrow boat Adagio butting through the chop at Tower Bridge on 19-Jul-2018. I have photos for you; already zoomed and cropped. I wish we had had someone taking shots of us when we did it. The Ship's Cat, Amy, was violently seasick on the Tideway.

KiwiBill

Edited by KiwiBill
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KiwiBill's Long Ramble Home - Digression Back to Reality - Thursday 14 May 2020

New Zealand came out of full Lockdown amid scenes of mixed jubilation and despair.

The approx stats for our Covid-19 experience are:

Population: 5 million

Total Cases: 2500

Total Deaths: 21  More that half of these were elderly in a few rest homes.

We are distant islands, we closed down quickly and we still believe we are immensely rich. International travel is still blocked but local flying and car travel is now possible. Under what we term Level 2, schools and businesses can re-open with suitable social-distancing rules. Groups of 10, funerals of 50 etc.

 

The other celebration was 25 Years of America's Cup. NZ is a three-time winner of the 170y old yachting trophy and will defend it in 2021. The mixed joy/despair came because it was Budget Day as well and the Government is trying to help those who suffered and will continue to suffer, while also showing how the recovery will be financed.  National elections in November so  Covid-19 is very political.

I went out to buy a 3kg bucket of rat poison because the poor wee beasties had not been fed for twelve months. I live on 20 acres, do not see rats, but something gobbles up the baits. And then stops gobbling them in two or three weeks. Very good news this morning: a beautiful NZ native pigeon, the first I have seen on this property. Large, with beautiful plumage. Not the world's largest as sometimes claimed.

 

This continuation of the BCNS Virtual Challenge is happening because, as a solo challenger, I was unable to have a satisfactory yarn with friends at the conclusion. Now, within a few hours, I will be having a real beer and a real yarn with two mates I have nor seen for two months. And I am worried. About the risks to me and mine and to them and theirs.

Be careful and be caring

KiwiBill

 

In preparation for zooming off  to virtual Algeria, I spoke with my younger daughter who was born in Algeria while we lived there. The firm I was with (WS Atkins & Ptnrs) were dead against a local birth, but Algeria was more like NZ than Epsom so we prevailed. Miranda was fascinated to learn what I had been doing for the last two weeks. We agreed that it was a good thing that she was too far away to physically interact with the Virtual Drive. Such a potent Memory Trigger would risk blowing a fuse. She also offered to send some men in white coats to take me into care. I declined.

Edited by KiwiBill
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KiwiBill's Long Ramble Home - Topic 2 - Algeria 1972 - 1976

Four happy years in Annaba on the extension of a steelworks complex. Very large project. Very international. Russian, French, Egyptian, Palestinian, Hungarian, Romanian. Algeria was celebrating ten years of Independence and everything was calm and happy. The civil war had been ugly and merciless. There was a Commonwealth War Grave site at the edge of town. Immaculate as usual. Next door was the French equivalent. All the French dead had been dug up and moved to France before Independence in 1962.  In rural areas we saw colonial French tombs which had been broken open with bodies and bones desecrated. People wanted revenge.

The Memory Trigger today was cut (in NZ) from a large lump of variegated onyx marble we have dragged around the world. Picked up in a quarry dating from Roman times when the stone was exported to Rome to clad buildings. I visited my Hungarian ex-boss when in Budapest in 2018 and presented him with a fragment of this onyx. He was an expert on Algerian edible fungi. I had not seen him for 45 years!

The most important memento from 1974 Algeria is, of course, younger daughter Miranda. Dragged uncomplainingly around the world and all the better for it. Picture below of local English kids playing with their new toy on the flat roof of our house.

 

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Sun, sand, sea, history (neolithic, Roman,, Islamic), cork forests, wild flowers, grain, olives, wine, dates,, fruit in season, young families making life-long friendships. And the desert for those inclined. We were the only family to drive to Tamanrasset with a 10-month old baby. We had a wonderful time. The company Renault 6 suffered a little bit of extra wear and tear.

 

Shopping - Scene 1 : The Great Annaba Cornflakes Rush of 1976. The scene is set in the State-run supermarket in Annaba (pop. 300,000). Luxury goods and foods were not available and  when, for the only time in four years, conflakes appeared briefly on the shelves, the Rush was on! Even the French were there.  The Algerians were a bit puzzled. An Algerian shopper who has torn open a packet of cornflakes to investigate seeks information from Bill who has his arms full of Kelloggs best.

Algerian:  What are they? 

Bill:           You eat them at breakfast

Algerian:  You seem to think them worth buying

Bill:           The kids like them. With milk

Algerian:  So. What should I do? Should I try them?

Bill:           Honestly, you would be far better off buying a few eggs 

 

Shopping - Scene 2 : Tate & Lyle Cube Sugar. Cube sugar is essential for coffee and the local traditional small grocer has a full carton on display on his counter. Printed on the carton in English 'Special. Extra Quick Dissolving'. A little old French customer enters.

Grocer:      Bonjour madame. I have just received this English sugar.

                      (Grocer offers traditional blue box of Tate & Lyle cubes) 

Customer: No thank you. It takes too long to dissolve

 

Shopping - Scene 3 : Slow-Dissolving Sugar. Years later the family returned to London overland across the Sahara from Togo and needed to replenish our sugar supplies. The first shop we came to was in Reggane (near French atom bomb test site). All we could buy was a handsome 2kg conical loaf of slow-dissolving rock-hard sugar. I used a club hammer from the tool box to chip pieces off.

 

 

Alg2.jpg

 

Family at play in the Algerian Sahara in January 1975. The day before stumbling by chance on a Mad English Vicar who was pushing his Chinese Wheelbarrow across the Sahara we had driven through a petrified forest. Trunks a metre in diameter and the whole plain paved with beautiful sandblasted and polished fragments. Years later the Mad Reverend published a slim volume in which he revealed that he had met an NZ couple risking the lives of their children. He also remarked that my wife was immodestly dressed. We were puzzled. A young strait-laced Mad English Reverend? (ref Howard, Sahara Wheelbarrow). The family group is at the  Bingley Five-Riser on holiday from Algeria. We spent most of our holidays in Algeria.

 

Back in Epsom six-year-old Nicki set up a constant whinge of "I want olives, dates, baguettes, etc ...

Edited by KiwiBill
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KiwiBill's Long Ramble Home - Topic 2 - Algeria 1968 - 1979 (addition)

When we first entered Algeria from Morocco in December 1968 we arrived at the first significant village and stopped for a cup of coffee. We drank at the typical French zinc-topped bar of a café and were apparently ignored by the barman when we wanted to pay. Someone in the all-male Algerian crowd had picked up our tab! Our first experience of Algeria was very good.  On Christmas Eve we were in Annaba having a meal in a scruffy beachside restaurant 150m from the house which, four years later, would be our home for four years. Jenny wrote to her parents in NZ 'Lovely coastal city. Would love to come and live here'.  I have the letter in my archives. The grandparents of course came to visit us in Algeria. We even had the great-grandmother come to us. What an honour! A rare visitor indeed! During our four year's  residence in Algeria we were driving out in the weekend with our two small girls, not hitchhikers this time but obviously expatriates at play. Again, in a café 100k from the coast, someone picked up the tab for the whole family. Algeria is friendly and hospitable. So is North Africa and the Middle East. And so is the entire world of Islam. 

The steelworks project was still going strong in 1979 when we dropped in on old friends in Annaba while returning to London from Togo. During the project there had been more than 400 resident staff members. In four months of travelling the only trouble we had was an attempted theft from our vehicle parked in a street in Annaba. Our host heard them and they fled empty-handed.

KiwiBill

Edited by KiwiBill
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Thank you for your ramblings Bill. Fascinating stuff! I particularly enjoyed the (fictional?) exchange between senior staff at Dominion Breweries. You deserve bonus points, tho' I doubt that would be enough to change the result of the Virtual Challenge.

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KiwiBill. This is the first BCN cruise diary I have read all the way through except for our own. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it all. I especially enjoyed your story about your family and travels. You are truly a citizen of the world and great to read about your interesting life. 

I wouldn't mind your ginger biscuit recipe too. 

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For Mrs Trackman

My main enjoyment was reading all the other logs. As a solo challenger I did not have a mate, navigator, engineer, techie, cook, librarian, historian, producer, director, script-writer, dog or cat. Some teams should have been penalised for virtual overloading. But their output was magnificent. The gingernut recipe comes from an aged NZ great-aunt. I only saw her a few times as a young boy. A real Miss Havisham experience. A very old lady living alone with only a large green parrot for company having spent a lifetime as a matriarch on a large NZ colonial farming property. That is probably where I developed a respect for Great Aunts. The maiden Great-Aunt of my two daughters is the famous (I will Google her when finished here) actress of stage and screen who performed as Helen Stirling. Last seen in 'Tea With Mussolini'. In her declining years I created the Great-Aunt Protection and Perpetuation Society to help with her upkeep. The Italian tax services accepted my spurious but elaborate letterhead form the Society when I transferred cash to her.

 

Gingernuts

4.5 cups plain flour

1.5 tsp baking soda

1 cup soft brown sugar

250g golden syrup

250g butter

3 tsp ground ginger

Melt together sugar, syrup, butter & spices. Sift flour and baking soda. Fold in warm melted ingredients.

Bake at 150°C for 12 minutes followed by 30 minutes at 50°C. This gives guaranteed hard dunking biscuits which if kept for some time will mellow into something the human jaw can break.

My mother fed three boys and half the street on these gingernuts but hers were much more variable than mine. The only difference must be the golden syrup. She would have measured in tablespoons, I use half a 500g bottle. The butter stayed at half a block. I had to recreate the recipe by trial and error.

KiwiBill

 

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KiwiBill's Long Ramble Home - Topic 3 -  London to Lomé, Togo - 1977 to 2007 

The Amsterdam ceramic houses are courtesy of KLM and were given to First Class passengers. Blue Circle sent me to Togo to look after the civil/structural side of a cement works. An absolutely beautiful greenfield cement works - see the photo. They had a lovely old-fashioned rule in 1977 which required all business flights longer that four hours to be First Class. And every First Class passenger received a little ceramic gift filled with Dutch gin. These were issued to all the family, including our three-year old daughter until we decided to downgrade our four seats back to London and use the savings to fly to New Zealand. There was an added bonus from the lovely KLM in that, when they gave us the refund voucher it was for the full value of four First Class flights instead of the difference. Plus four economy tickets!

 

 

The Scene: KLM Offices - Lomé, Togo - 1980.  Normally the civil engineers are first-in, first-out on  large projects. In Togo the Project Manager had gone crazy and we had the pleasure of going back to the small tropical paradise for a second term.

KLM Togo:     Here you are sir. Your economy class tickets and the refund MCOs which can be used for flights or baggage.

Honest Bill:   Crikey! That is a thick wad of MCOs (flight vouchers). Are you sure that is correct.

KLM Togo:     That is what Amsterdam told us to do. Head Office is never wrong.

Head Office was very wrong and eventually realised they had given away several thousand pounds. When the demands for the return of these funds started arriving printed in red, I sought legal advice and arranged a very, very, very long repayment schedule for a useful interest-free loan from KLM. A lovely company.

 

But the life of the expatriate family is not all interest-free loans and tropical luxury. To balance that I met my family at the airport in Lomé after a separation of four months and was greeted by my 3½ year old with "Are you my Daddy?". It is a hard life.

 

But back to KLM. I feel a major digression coming upon me but I must tell you about my first ever First Class flight. KLM 1977: London-Amsterdam-Lagos-Lomé.

First Class Lagos-Lomé, a very short flight, was empty except for me. The steward offered me the snack menu which I politely refused and asked for more of the pickled herring which had been served earlier. And a beer to go with it. And for the short flight the steward sat with me and instructed me in the old Dutch sciences of pickled herring and beer. As I said: A lovely company.

 

A red light has been flashing on the Virtual Drive control panel and, after giving it a once-over with my multimeter, I have bled off a host of memories from The Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Venezuela. I have skimmed off the cream of family memories of the central Sahara Desert concerning the whole family over a long period.

 

On 5 February 1979, Miranda's fifth birthday we were in Niger and happened to be driving back to Agadez from Bilma. We had teamed up with an Italian Landrover to do Agadez, Fashi, Bilma, Dirkou, Agadez because the road was a little sandy and the authorities would not let people do it alone. Except for local people and we saw a lot of their graves scattered along the route. The road is marked every 10km by a metal marker - see photo. The dunes of the Great Bilma Sand Sea run approximately SW to NE and it is relatively easy driving between the rows of dunes. (ref Ténéré Desert, Niger) A problem arises if you want to cross into the next lane. We were fully laden with the wrong tyres and even with tyres deflated to the maximum we struggled. The Italians (two guys and a girl) danced over the sand with their light sand-tyred Landrover. But my wife had a light touch on the gears and her judgement in bad ground was usually better than mine.

 

We stopped near the forbidden Dinosaur Graveyard (ref Gerboro, Niger) and Nicki stepped down from the Landcruiser and picked up a neolithic hand axe. Dating from when the area was green and populated. Her axe! On her sister's birthday! Nearby were neolithic querns with the grinding stones sitting in them. Photos taken but not available today. The Italians took querns but we were not prepared to risk borders with antiquities. We were on the salt caravan route from BIlma to Agadez and saw a live salt caravan of 210 camels. The children are showering at the Well of Achegour where good water is available 2m below the surface. The structure around the well is a camel trough which the camel-drivers fill. The maps of the Sahara are interesting: depth of well, type of water. Good water at 120m, Magnesian water at 75m, Bad water at 150m. Water is hauled from the deep wells by the camels and a bring-your-own pulley. Leading away from the well and trough is a path, the length equal to the well depth, worn by the camels.

 

Miranda had a very satisfactory birthday party at the end of the day. Cake and all! She does not remember it but Nicki remembers every instant, every kilometre and every well we visited during the four months we took from Lomé to London.

 

UTA Flight 772 - September 1989

We are now working on Neolithic Axe Power. This is heavy duty Magic. In 2007 the emanations, something, call it what you will, from this 10,000y-old artefact found by Nicki in 1979 on her sister's birthday, led her to the news that a memorial to the loss of UTA Flight 772 in the Ténéré had been set up very close to (only 400km) the source of her neolithic axe. (ref UTA 772) This is no ordinary memorial: It is a true labour of love. Rocks have been transported 70km and laid out to depict the full-size outline of the DC10 on the bearing it was flying. It was initially clearly visible on Google Earth but has blurred as the sands come and go across the 60m diameter compass rose.

 

 

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Togo was python country. Beautiful beasts. We would keep one in a woven basket to amuse guests. I was driving home, alone, one night and a 2½m beauty was crawling across the road. I stopped, admired it in the headlights and thought "Do I have the guts to pick it up alone?" The rule is: one metre of python needs one man. I captured it and put it in the boot the car. Next morning when I gathered the family around to show what I had found it had vanished! It was found deep in the car's structure and required two strong men to pull it out. 2½m of solid muscle which we quickly released because local voodoo forbids the harming pythons. Sorry about the photo, I have become a bit elongated during compilation. The python was completely unharmed.

 

At this time Nicki was applying for a scholarship from a UK boarding school and we rashly promised her a python if she was successful. Which she was. With the help of the Virtual Drive fuelled by beer and Nicki's neolithic axe in Hockley Port I can jump forward to 1986-1988 when she called in the debt and I had to go out and buy a python in London instead of picking one off the road in Togo. But I can highly recommend a python to aid bonding with a 17y-old goth. Shaving your daughter's skull is OK but assisting in the feeding of a Royal Python named Jezebel creates a bond which will last to the grave.

 

I had made a heated glass terrarium to securely house Jezebel but she was not eating and therefore we were not happy. We consulted Chessington Zoo which was nearby and they proposed the following procedure: (in all of my ramblings italic script is unadorned truth)

Feeding Your Daughter's Python 

Step 1:    Buy live white mice from pet shop

Step 2:    Kill mouse with thumb and forefinger. (This can only be done by fathers who really love their daughters)

Step 3:    Repeat Step 2 until the cat is full or has been locked out of the room

Step 4:    Coat warm dead mouse with egg yolk

Step 5:    Crumb the mouse with vitamin powder provided by Chessington Zoo

Step 6:    Stuff the crumbed mouse as deep as possible down the python's throat. This is a two-person operation.

Step 7:    Return to Step 4 and repeat 5 & 6 until the mouse stays downA wooden ruler is a useful tool.

Step 8:    After two months, try to tempt the Python to eat  by putting a live mouse in its terrarium.

Step 9:    If unsuccessful, make sure that when you buy your next python it is a voracious feeder. 

 

I never saw Jezebel feed voraciously. I fled the UK to NZ with Miranda and escaped the above stomach-churning horror which was perpetrated by us on poor Jezebel on the kitchen bench several times. Nicki, who remained in the UK to finish secondary school, was eventually able to send me a video of Jezebel striking, killing, swallowing and digesting a mouse. Voracious described it well. Jezebel was kept well fed by Nicki for several years until she realised the the keeping of tropical snakes in the UK was perhaps not a friendly thing to do. Jezebel went to a home for distressed tropical snakes.

KiwiBill

Edited by KiwiBill

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