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Archive for May, 2009

More wildlife. On the left of my thumb theres a little caterpillar or something. I found it crawling across the road completely encased in little twigs. It took a lot of picking apart before I could make his head pop out long enough for a photo. His little twig home is completely genius and a totally inpenetrable disguise, unless he happened to walk across a road. Also notice the choking grip that the rubber pipe is exerting on the crack in my stick.

More wildlife. On the left of my thumb there's a little caterpillar or something. I found it crawling across the road completely encased in little twigs. It took a lot of picking apart before I could make his head pop out long enough for a photo. His little twig home is completely genius and a totally inpenetrable disguise, unless he happened to walk across a road. Also notice the choking grip that the rubber pipe is exerting on the crack in my stick.

Galin, holding my newly mended trousers just before I threw them away for a new pair.

Galin, holding my newly mended trousers just before I threw them away for a new pair.

These notices are everywhere. Theyre to do with dead people, either advertising the time of a funeral or a memorial service or something. You find them in bus shelters, on front doors, in shop windows and all kinds of other places.

These notices are everywhere. They're to do with dead people, either advertising the time of a funeral or a memorial service or something. You find them in bus shelters, on front doors, in shop windows and all kinds of other places.

Old Bulgarian sharpening my knife. Its now very sharp.

Old Bulgarian sharpening my knife. It's now very sharp.

The sign says I NEED €15 FOR A VISA. Notice how Im using my neckerchief to beg with.

The sign says "I NEED €15 FOR A VISA". Notice how I'm using my neckerchief to beg with.

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Turkish Border

I last wrote from Svelingrad confidently claiming that I would be in Turkey tonight. It was slighty further than I imagined so I got to the border after dark and also after I’d met a couple of Polish hitch-hikers who told me I’d need €10 to get a visa. Naturally I didn’t believe them, but if I had believed them I didn’t have an alternative plan. I had with me 2 Lev which I’d been given by the Orthodox church along with a pretty classic selection of items. In total there was: a packet of biscuits, a small loaf and a half of bread, a tray of weird Bulgarian sweets, 2 Lev (less than a quid, I think), a pair of socks (I managed to turn it down though), half a litre of red wine in a Sprite bottle and, my most inappropriate gift yet by some distance, a kilo of white flour. The woman told me that I could mix it with water and make bread on a fire. I’m yet to do that.

Thus armed, I headed through the Bulgarian border control where I met two German horse couriers. I discovered that horse delivery is the most painful job in the world. They had been stuck in the border for a few days, waiting for some papers for something or other with only border police for company. The previous day, one of them had gone to Istanbul for something and the other had to stay behind without a passport in case he ran away and so he was stuck in the no-man’s-land between the two countries where there are no shops or anything. And then, when they aren’t being hassled by officials being official, they’re hassled by officials being corrupt. Apparently if you turn your speed camera off and then on again it comes up saying 88, so lots of people who drive trucks in the Ukraine get speeding tickets for driving at 88km/h in a 50 zone. And they had their petrol cap stolen by the petrol guy. I met them because as I walked past one of them shouted “Hey, Jerusalem?” and I had to admit that he was right.

Begging

And then it turned out that I needed €15 for a visa and the guy wouldn’t back down and just give me one even when I looked up the Turkish word for “beg” in my dictionary and read it to him. In fact, I was ejected from the borderzone at 11pm or something and I went to sleep in Bulgaria among a strip of petrol stations and parked lorries. Luckily I used the ejection time to think up a brilliant plan. In the morning I headed back into the borderzone with a piece of A4 paper saying “I need €15 for a visa” and I sat down next to a friendly control and begged. The Germans had given me about a pound in Euro and Lira coppers, so I put all that with my 2 Lev in my neckerchief (another use for the neckerchief) and waited. After a couple of hours a busload of Bulgarian women filed up one by one and dropped a coin into my pile and I was up to 4.20 Lev, 50 Euro cents and 75 Lira cents. Then after another half an hour someone in a coach gave her tour guide €15 to give to me. That pretty much did it. I was ecstatically happy. At 12.30 I was in Turkey and grinning like an imbecile at everyone in the filthy queue of traffic I was weaving through and offering anyone I saw a biscuit.

Turkey

You’re probably wondering what Turkish people are like. Or maybe I gave the game away with the title? Too obvious, maybe? I tried to just write “Turkey” but I couldn’t stop myself writing “I love” on the front. One thing that has happened to me is that I walked past a petrol station and someone who worked there beckoned me over and said “Chai? Chai?” and of course I said Yes and then we sat and had tea the Turkish way, which involves drinking it from funny glasses with loads of sugar and also starting with half a cup of really stewed tea and adding half a cup of hot water. Except that whole thing happened about a million times. Petrol stations, old men outside cafes, reception booths of factories, a fronting workshop, security desks. There’s no building I have walked past where I thought it was unlikely that someone would beckon me over to offer me tea.

Sometimes tea isn’t available to the friendly person so they have to make do with what they have. In the cars they have horns and I’d say that about 2% of cars that drive past me beep their horn or flash their lights and when I look up they want nothing more than to wave and grin. And they have a special way of beeping which doesn’t sound nasty and aggressive like the beeps in England do. They just do a couple of light bips so instead of “NYARRRG!” or “BRAAP!” it comes out like “Mippip!” and you can’t really object if someone says Mippip to you.

Turkish Children

Another thing that happened to me is that I walked past a school playground full of 8 year olds and they all bounded over to me and said “My name is Mahmet.” “Where do you from?” and, confusingly, “I love you”. That’s what the young school children are like. A little bit later I walked past a high school or something and a bunch of 15 year olds were leaning out of the 3rd storey window and they beckoned me over. Since it was impossible for me to come over I stepped towards them a bit and then shouted “But you’re up there” and then they belted down the stairs and appeared next to me and ushered me in and up the stairs and into a classroom and apparently their teacher had told them to fetch me so I could take the lesson. So I stood at the front and answered questions. Everyone was pretty excited to see me and it was with much rejoicing that I accepted the offer of school lunch. In the dining room the whole school got to check me out and I felt a bit like I’d just come out of the Big Brother house and had to suddenly deal with unearnt fame. I think I mentioned at one point that I had no money and the children later spontaneously did a whip-round and produced 6 Lira in coins which I failed to turn away. I’m not normally particularly excited by being given money and giving it away a little bit later seems like a fair thing to do with it, but this was a bit more touching and I think this time I’ll buy myself a present. My plan is to stay for a day or two in Istanbul and I reckon I can live on 6 Lira (and a bag of flour) for that long, so then I can tell the kids that they bought me a holiday.

The Most Important Man in Turkey

When I was in Germania maybe two or three people stopped in their cars to offer me a lift – an average of about one a month. In Eastern Europe the average went up to maybe two or three a week. In Turkey I think the average so far has been more than one a day. I keep turning down lifts from people who bewilderedly say “No, no, I’m going to Istanbul, get in.” One such person was the most important man in Turkey. Well he might not be but he’s got to be in the top ten. One of the first things he said to me was “Do you drink? Alcohol? What do you want? I’ve got everything” so naturally I said “In your car? You have every kind of alcohol in your car? Why?” And he said “I own an alcohol factory. Actually the only alcohol factory in Turkey” so I said “In that case I’ll have a raki and Red Bull.” He said “Fine” and then in thirty seconds time he said “I also have many other factories. And petrol stations. And I know the president. And we’re building a hydrogen peroxide factory in Brazil and something or other in South Africa. And my grandfather was the president who’s on all the money. And I have 9000 employees.” Well that was all well and good but I wanted to sit down and we were on the side of an A road with a petrol station in sight. I mentioned as much and he said “Go to the petrol station after that, that’s one of mine” but I wouldn’t drive with him, so he drove there and waited for me. Since it was a couple of kilometres I kept him waiting for I reckon 20 minutes, which made me temporarily feel like the most important person in Turkey. When I got there he was sitting in front of a kind of banquet made entirely out of petrol station snacks which we then ate (mostly it was me eating). So that was fun.

Street Urchins

On the other end of the scale of flashy jobs, I also met a bunch of boys who were selling mops and brushes on the street. When I met them, they were all sitting on cardboard boxes with no shoes on eating bread and chocolate spread and some other kind of spread, possibly vanilla, from huge tubs. And, naturally, drinking tea. They beckoned me over and it was moments before I had a loaf covered in flavoured sugary goo in front of me and a chai in my hand. After I’d eaten they played a game where they made me say things, one of them being “Lahr ilahi illallah, Muhammeden Resulallah” which means I’ve been tricked into becoming a Muslim. Not the first time that has happened, in fact. A security guard at a factory had already played the same prank on me the night before and, when it was successful, went into a slightly unnerving dance which he did while shout/singing the creed. They’re certainly all very Muslim round here.

Good Deed

I was lured into some kind of textile factory at some point and introduced to Dr. Mehmet, the resident doctor who speaks a bit of English. He gave me some food (or at least he talked to me and then some food appeared from somewhere) and smoked a lot and then I set off on my way. The next day he spotted me at a petrol station when he was on his way to Istanbul so he sat down for a quick chat but he accidentally left his cigarettes behind. I nabbed them thinking they might make a good present for someone since everyone here smokes and Mehmet probably wouldn’t see them again anyway. Then, later, a lorry pulled over on the other side of the road and the driver beckoned me over. I didn’t recognise him but he said “Dr. Mehmet” and since I’d only met one doctor in Turkey, I handed over the cigarettes and felt quite pleased with myself for having done a good turn. I just hope he doesn’t get lung cancer as a result. Anyway, the lorry driver mysteriously had a wife and two children as well as some sort of cheesey pancakes in his lorry, and he gave me some, so the story has a happy ending.

Istanbul

I’ve reached a place where the sign for the beginning of the next town is also the sign for the end of the last town and I think it’s going to be like that all the way to Istanbul and beyond. Camping is probably going to be harder for a few days but, by all accounts, the Asian side of Turkey is even friendlier than the European side. So I have only hope.

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I haven’t done a very thorough analysis of globes and routes and such recently but I reckon I’m halfway there. I’ve been telling people that the whole thing’ll take me eight months but also that I don’t really know. I’ve taken four months so far and I’ve cleared about half the distance, so I’m roughly on target for being right. Anyway, at the halfway point, here is an abstract and reflective blog entry. One thing that I have been talking about a lot but not, I don’t think, to anyone at home, is what I’ll do after I get to Jerusalem.

Getting Home

I have two and a half ideas at the moment. I think it’s most likely that I’ll hitch-hike back home, hopefully via North Africa and Spain. That would mean I’d get to go to Africa which I haven’t done before and, as everyone knows, a circular route is best. The half-idea is to extend this trip South a little to include Kenya and to visit Abbie. I doubt that’ll happen because it would require quite a lot of persuasion from her and I doubt she even knows I’m thinking about it. My other plan is to sail back. I’d like to sail back a lot, but I doubt I’ll be able to because I’ve tried it before and failed and I’m no better equipped this time.

Syria

Another thing that’s on my mind at the moment is Syria. Lucas, the German bike-pilgrim who is following a similar path to me, tells me that Syrians will only let you into their country if you have a visa and they’ll only give you one of them by sending it to your address. So that would totally rule me out of the visa option. I can’t help but feel that it’s worth turning up at the border and trying my luck anyway, but I have been thinking about alternatives just in case. One is to go through Iraq – no way, that’s like an extra three months or something of walking. Another is to sneak across the border in the night or something. Not my favourite idea, but it has a sort of appeal. Probably would make a good story. The only other thing to do that I can think of is to sail round and land wherever I can, Lebanon, Israel or any other place I can get a lift to.

God

I’ve also had a little more time to think about why I’m doing this, and I still don’t really know. Before Lent Wig wrote a sermon about what Lent was for and why you should fast. One of the things he said was that there isn’t an obvious reason why you should do it, and I think that also applies to pilgrimage. One thing that I think both of them achieve is a kind of discipline. Army people spend a long time practising turning round at exactly the same time even though it’s a skill that is totally untransferable to the battlefield or, in fact, to anything. The idea is that the soldier trains himself to take orders without thinking and to know that he is always expected to achieve a certain standard in the things he does. That way, on the battlefield, instead of questioning the order that has been given or wavering because he is scared, he does it and does it well. I think there are aspects of Christian life which parallel parade ground training, including going to church, fasting and pilgrimage. When you do any of these things, even if no one sees you doing it, you are telling yourself by the way you act “My life is not for me”. A pilgrimage doesn’t achieve anything and it doesn’t have a spectacular effect (well, it hasn’t on me yet), but the more of these disciplines you build into your life, the better prepared you will be on the battlefield. Whatever the battlefield might be.

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If you can’t read this, don’t worry too much. It’s just a list of towns in Bulgaria, you’re not missing anything.

  • Радювене
  • Ловеч
  • Севлиево
  • Яворец
  • Драгановци
  • Поповци
  • Габрово
  • Шипка
  • Казанлък
  • Бузожград
  • Розожо
  • Кънчево
  • Ръжена
  • Ягода
  • Люляк
  • Калитиново
  • Преславен
  • Могица
  • Раднево
  • Little lakeside hut in the middle of nowhere
  • Пет Могили
  • Новоселец
  • Ковачево
  • Полски Градец
  • Мъдрец
  • Главан
  • Младиново
  • Пъстрогор
  • Свиленград
  • Капитан Андреево or, if you will, Capitan Andreevo. Or Captain Andrew to you and I. I haven’t got there yet, but it’s on my list. Then Turkey.

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Bulgaria

St. George’s Day
The last few weeks have been pretty festival rich. First there was real Easter which the Orthodox people called Flower Day, then there was Orthodox Easter which was significantly better because there was tonnes of food and weird midnight masses with candles on the street and then Gypsies dancing round a fire in the middle of back streets till morning and then more church in the morning with special crumbs of stale blessed bread which I got to take with me and red eggs aplenty and everyone saying “Christ is risen” “He is risen indeed!” to each other. Then a little later there was the First of May which involves huge piles of meat being shoved in front of you and rakiya (this was in Bulgaria) and everyone shouting Nostrave! every twenty seconds and just when you thought you’d for sure brought on a bout of IBS with all the food and chillies and such, someone says “Would you like a pork steak?” and you have to look confused and say as sternly as you can “No! I would not. I’ll die if I have any more to eat.” So that’s quite a lot of festivals if you ask me and if I was organising it I’d lay off for a while, but not the Bulgarians.
The next one I got to was just after Abi left, St. George’s Day. I arrived after dark because Abi left at 6pm and I still had a good few kilometers left in my legs (and, obviously, I got totally lost because I went on a road that is marked in white on the map – that seems to mean that it’s liable to just disappear for a little while without warning). I blearily went up to the first people I could find and said “Do you speak English?” and someone was quickly produced who was then quickly replaced by Lyubov who is something like an English teacher (she’s a biology teacher, but her English is pretty good).
Abi had left me with half a sausage and a tin of pate in my food bag, so it was with something like relief that I accepted Lyubov’s offer of something to eat and a bed. And, obviously, rakiya. Her family had a small dispute which Lyubov explained to me was about the lack of shower facilities in my accommodation. I explained about how delicate my crusty nubbins of dead foot skin are and that they need to be kept as dry as possible and everyone seemed happy with that. Also, Lyubov’s father-in-law, Yoto, turned out to have done a pilgrimage round India. Around the coast, as far as I could tell, in two months. Which sounds preposterously fast but I think he used some trains. Anyway, he did it with his cousin who is a serial pilgrim. He pilgrims across one country and then when he gets to the end of it he saves up a bit of money by getting a job or something and then flies to the next destination to start pilgrimaging again. Obviously he’s a nutcase.
At some point in the conversation, Yoto said “Tomorrow we’re going to sacrifice a lamb for St. George’s Day. Would you like to join us for the feast?” I said words to the effect of “Duh-huh” and then he said “Would you like to see the slaughter?” Would I? Would I ever! It was brilliant. I know how I’d slaughter a lamb and it is almost exactly the opposite to what happened. My method would be to chase it around for ages with a knife and eventually get round to cutting it a bit and then get grossed out and bottle it and there would be a bleeding lamb wandering around for a bit and then I’d hack open the middle and get covered in a big mash of goo and end up with some legs and some ribs and a massive pile of gunk and quite a lot of gunk all over me.
What happened was different. The guy came out carrying a lamb and hooked its leg on a hook. Before I could wonder whether the hook was actually going through the leg or not (I was, I think) he’d whipped out a knife and cut the lamb’s throat. About seven seconds later it was dead and he’d already started work on the legs. Once the skin was off the legs, he hooked both the legs up and took the fleece off which didn’t seem to require a knife. He just peeled it. Throughout the procedure a sly nod to his son indicated that something should be washed so that at no point did anything get any kind of dirt on it for more than a second or two. A subtle cut somewhere and he was pulling out strings of intestine or something and coiling them in some way, then strings of another intestine and coiling them differently, then a couple of nicks on the kidneys released a bit more blood which had been hiding there, another intestine coiled differently again, a tiny grommit or gizzard or something was detached and thrown to the chickens. Another intestine (I decided after a while that probably some of them weren’t intestines, but who knows?) needed a separate piece of equipment to clean it properly – a little bit of plastic tube which the guy blew down to clear the pipeway. I think the whole thing took about 20 minutes, by which time there was a pot of clean innards, a plate of innards which needed further cleaning by the lady folk, a neatly folded carcass and a fleece. The chickens only got a cup of blood and a finger-sized flubula.
Next everything was transfered to the girls who were totally prepared. A pot with some stuff in it was ready to accept one batch of guts; onions and rice and other things were ready to go with another batch for the stuffing. When they’d done their bit, the stuffed lamb was put (with the head next to it) in a sort of outdoor oven. The fire had been going since the night before and it was dug into the ground, some embers were taken out and the lamb was put in. Then it was covered and the embers put on top and left for four hours.
Maybe I’ve given slightly too much detail there, but I was pretty impressed by the whole thing. I have never killed any of my food and I reckon I know quite a few people who’ve never even seen their food alive. I didn’t quite work out in what way it was a sacrifice but they told me it was one, so I suppose it was. If you’d like to hear more details, this is Ico’s blog entry.

They sent me off with a load of lamb and innard stuffing (incidentally, this is delicious – Mum, what did you used to do with all the innards? I hope you didn’t give them to the chickens) and told me that since they’d been celebrating St. George a day earlier than usual, I might find someone else who would invite me to their feast. They were not wrong. Feasts are so cool. I was just walking past someone’s house when they shouted at me from the door to come over and then it was all lamb, stuffing and rakiya.

Gypsies and Storks

I stayed with another family of Gypsies the other day. While we were eating supper the guy said “Hey look” and a stork, of which there are plenty round these parts, flew past. About half a second later the self-same stork ploughed into the electric cables which they still have overground round here. It was incredible. There was a small display of fireworks, a certain amount of flapping and then two dead ends fell to the ground and the stork flew off, alive. After the appropriate emergency service was alerted a van drove up and turned the whole village’s power off and then drove away again. The stork won that battle.

Drunks

I’ve been on the receiving end of a fair bit of hospitality from drunk people. The good thing about them is that they’re friendly and fun (or hostile and boring, depending) but I’ve begun to be slightly wary of believing everything they say. I followed an excellent yellow (on the map) road to the point where it turned white (on the map). There I found that instead of carrying on to Turkey, someone had dumped a massive industrial quarry thing on top of it. The road had been buried. Luckily there was a totally isolated little house by a lake full of roaringly drunk Hungarians who liked nothing better than to shout at each other. One of them spoke German and told me that I could stay the night and have dinner and such, and since I had no food with me and the prospect of retracing my steps for 5 kilometers was so depressing I thought why not? Specially since he made this proposal after I’d drunk some rakiya – rakiya rarely has the effect of speeding me up. After dinner my German speaking friend went home and so did everyone else except the owner, who then hoofed me out. Unfortunately my Bulgarian is still totally useless so I couldn’t even say “But your friend told me I could stay here.” The story ends happily – I didn’t die or anything and I even had a back-up plan (sleeping in my tent as usual).

Kit

You know my trousers which you were all worried about? It turns out that you had good reason. Just after I’d patched the knees, both legs tore again just above the patches. I was half way through patching the new holes (with the lower legs from my jeans) when Galin gave me some new trousers. I was sorry to let all my sewing go to waste, but I have to admit that the new ones have certain advantages. Abi forced me to take two pairs of socks from Mum, and she took four pairs off me, one of which was unused. I now have four pairs again, two unused, and today I had to forcefully reject a further pair. People will just not believe that I have enough socks. I’m wearing new pants and have jetisonned my Calvin Klein pair which I thought were inappropriately trendy. And which had holes in. It’s a struggle not to take jackets and jumpers, but since it is roastingly hot I have so far managed it. I’ve exchanged my two half-litre water bottles for one 2 litre bottle, leaving the other pocket on my bag free for booze. At the moment I’ve got about 75cl of rakiya and half a litre of wine. I exchanged most of my books with Abi for Le BGG – the French version of The BFG. Speaking of which, I mentioned before that the BFG was an allegory for the dangers of prejudice. It is not. The BFG, the only good giant, is white with a Big Friendly Roman nose. The others, the Bloodguzzler etc, are all dark brown, have flat African noses, big lips. They wear a sort of primitive tribal outfit – a kind of small kilt or something – and nothing else, whereas the BFG wears a jacket and trousers which don’t quite fit in the manner of an eccentric Oxford don. What I meant to say was Sneetches on Beaches, I don’t think there’s any underlying racism in that.

I met a man who was pretty old and who replaced conversation (impossible) with showing me round his workshop. He was some sort of metal worker. It seemed like there would be no obvious conclusion to his tour so I got him to sharpen my penknife. It’s now supersharp. I also acquired another juju to go with my holy water. It’s a rock, I think it’s from a monastary in Greece. A rock. People in the army put rocks in their rucksacks and that’s why everyone else laughs at them.

I already have a Turkish-English dictionary, acquired in Bulgaria miraculously. My shirt which Annie gave me is totally intact and has picked up a golden sheen, I think from road-dust. There’s a possible problem developing with my tent, but I’ll wait to see what happens before making too much of a big deal about that. Certainly it’s not a death crack, but… maybe one day it will be. I also gave my blow-up matress to Abi and my back is beginning to get better as a result of all the weight I’m now not carrying. Well, it’s not getting worse I don’t think.

Things I Haven’t Mentioned

I haven’t mentioned loads of stuff that’s happened to me. There’s too much of it really. I haven’t mentioned Stefan with the tattoos on his face who saw me on the street and said “Hey man, you wanna smoke a joint with me?” I haven’t written about the time I went to the church which I’d camped behind and how I was walked up to the icons by a helpful person who grabbed my arm so I couldn’t help but kiss them, nor about how I thought I’d sneak out for a few minutes to pack my tent away and how loads of people followed me and made me go and have lunch with someone else because they were worried that if they let me out of their sight I might run away without lunch. I haven’t said anything about the guy I spoke to who had escaped from Bulgaria in the Communist days by watching where the soldiers walked and then making a dash for it at night. I haven’t said about the Romanian town I came across (in Bulgaria) where they all stared and shook their heads like the Romanians always did, nor about how Bulgarians seem to do a lot less staring and have running water everywhere nor about the huge amount of “cheese” and spring onions I’ve been eating nor about the woman who gave me a load of cheese under her husband’s instructions and then, when he’d gone, scuttled back and gave me a bit more with a conspiratorial wink, nor about how I climbed Mount Shipka, nor about the huge amount of warning I was given against taking a white road through the mountains (“It’ll take you a week and you’ll get lost” – Stefan; “Do what you like, but life is precious” – Yoto). There’s other things I haven’t written about too, but I just can’t write about them all. Life is too precious.

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The first family of Bulgarians we met. Of course, it was some kind of feast and of course they invited us in and laid piles and piles of meat in front of us.

The first family of Bulgarians we met. Of course, it was some kind of feast and of course they invited us in and laid piles and piles of meat in front of us.

All the children in Enitsa turned up to watch us and to make a fire. And, of course, to pose in cool formations.

All the children in Enitsa turned up to watch us and to make a fire. And, of course, to pose in cool formations.

The next morning in Enitsa. All the towns children once again arrange themselves so Abi can give them a lesson in something or other.

The next morning in Enitsa. All the town's children once again arrange themselves so Abi can give them a lesson in something or other.

Abi on a horse. It was a lame horse which didnt even try to kick her off.

Abi on a horse. It was a lame horse which didn't even try to kick her off.

This is another long distance traveller, Yugi. Most of his luggage seemed to be camera equipment. Click on him to read his blog - there's a bit about me in it and it's pretty awesome.

This is another long distance traveller, Yugi. Most of his luggage seemed to be camera equipment. Click on him to read his blog - there's a bit about me in it and it's pretty awesome.

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Me next to some haystacks in Romania. I suppose that in twenty years Romanians will wrap their hay in cellophane like we do.

Me next to some haystacks in Romania. I suppose that in twenty years Romanians will wrap their hay in cellophane like we do.

This is midnight on Holy Saturday. Many of the icons are wearing black and there are a massive load of people there bustling around.

This is midnight on Holy Saturday. Many of the icons are wearing black and there are a massive load of people there bustling around. In the foreground is the stall where you can buy candles (doing a good trade)

Me dressed entirely in Dragomirs clothes, ready to go to church. Just visible in the background is a massive array of jackets and trousers which didnt make the final cut.

Me dressed entirely in Dragomir's clothes, ready to go to church. Just visible in the background is a massive array of jackets and trousers which didn't make the final cut.

The family of friendly Gypsies and the Easter feast we ate. Lovely people.

The family of friendly Gypsies and the Easter feast we ate. Lovely people.

I was busted by the shepherds putting up my tent and the all ambled over with their sticks and their nine dogs and sat there chatting for a while, totally uninvited.

I was busted by the shepherds putting up my tent and the all ambled over with their sticks and their nine dogs and sat there chatting for a while, totally uninvited.

I have to admit, I am indeed a wildlife photographer. Notice how I discovered something in the wild which must have escaped from its natural habitat in a glass box or on the Blue Peter set.

I have to admit, I am indeed a wildlife photographer. Notice how I discovered something in the wild which must have escaped from its natural habitat in a glass box or on the Blue Peter set.

926 clicks from the Black Sea. The last one of these signs I saw

926 clicks from the Black Sea. The last one of these signs I saw

My campsite in someones garden. Chickens in background, red eggs in foreground.

My campsite in someone's garden. Chickens in background, red eggs in foreground.

A few days later, a totally different batch of red eggs. In the background, a totally normal scene of village traffic. English people will be surprised to see a horse and cart. Romanian people will be surprised that I have bothered to draw attention to it.

A few days later, a totally different batch of red eggs. In the background, a totally normal scene of village traffic. English people will be surprised to see a horse and cart. Romanian people will be surprised that I have bothered to draw attention to it.

These tiny grandmas gave me some red eggs and a bit of cake. It was Easter, after all.

These tiny grandmas gave me some red eggs and a bit of cake. It was Easter, after all.

A different kind of graveyard. All wood and a bizarre curvy crosses. Anyone want to explain the curvy crosses?

A different kind of graveyard. All wood and a bizarre curvy crosses. Anyone want to explain the curvy crosses?

Romanian inventiveness at its finest. Apparently crows dont like the sight of dangling dead crows, so they stay away from the eggs. However, it does mean having a dead crow dangling in your garden.

Romanian inventiveness at its finest. Apparently crows don't like the sight of dangling dead crows, so they stay away from the eggs. However, it does mean having a dead crow dangling in your garden.

Dacia is the car of Romania. Not only is it only available in Romania, it also looks totally Romanian. I wanted to take a good photo of one which summed up its Romanianness, and I think this one fits the bill.

Dacia is the car of Romania. Not only is it only available in Romania, it also looks totally Romanian. I wanted to take a good photo of one which summed up its Romanianness, and I think this one fits the bill.

Liviu Dragu, my friendly police escort. Making sure I wasnt attacked by the bogey man or Gypsies.

Liviu Dragu, my friendly police escort. Making sure I wasn't attacked by the bogey man or Gypsies.

Would you trust these men? Not me, I went back to one of their houses and slept the night.

Would you trust these men? Not me, I went back to one of their houses and slept the night.

Here, specifically. Notice the mud walls with timber frame - still with its bark. Also, for the keen sighted, spot the turkey who spent the night with me.

Here, specifically. Notice the mud walls with timber frame - still with its bark. Also, for the keen sighted, spot the turkey who spent the night with me.

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