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Saturday, 1 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013: Days “-1” & “0”: To Oban

It doesn’t have to take two days to get to Oban; It can easily be done in one, but that would be missing the point, wouldn’t it? This is an adventure, you see, and adventures need to start with epic journeys, squid fights, an escape from burning wreckage and being stuck in a large cooking pot with bare-breasted savages dancing about with spears.

And that is just not going to happen if you rush headlong to your start point in one day.

And that’s how I found myself snoozing in the warm sunshine on a London park bench in Russell Square, having woken up to some light snoring. The natives seemed restless, scurrying across this little oasis in small gangs armed with briefcases and brollies, giving my bench a wide berth. Some were particularly attractive, and I dreamed of a hot & steamy death. There might have been silk ropes, oils and alcohol involved: It’s all a bit hazy now.

RUSSELL SQUARE NATIVES

But, in one bound I was free, and so made my escape northwards (you’ll hear a lot about “north” in the next week or so) to Tavistock Square, where, hoping for sage advice, I communed with that nice Mr Ghandi. He mumbled something about avoiding alcohol, women and squid-fights. With a slightly fuzzy head after a really lovely late lunch with an old girlfriend, I decided to carry on with the trek north.

Next stop was the Euston Tap, which had been recommended to me some time ago, by that inveterate lush, Randy Howell, as a good joint for real ales.

Euston Tap

Well, credit where credit’s due: This jewel-case did in fact carry a few gems and I recall trying  ‘Buxton Moor Top’ before the spiral staircase to the upper deck defeated both me and my rucksack’s further vertical progress.

There was nothing for it but to head in a northerly direction once more, and so with my loins re-girded, I struck out for the Bree Louise, to meet up with two sleeper trains’ of Challengers. Phil, Andy & I were on the 11:50pm to Glasgow, but there was also the 9:15 to Fort William & Inverness to meet up with as well. And here are some of the Challengers for both those trains.

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[PICTURES COURTESY OF JOHN]

At some point in the evening, strong hallucinogenic drugs were shared out. Mad’n’Bad blamed me. I blamed Jane. If that’s what nicotine does to your brain I’ll nip out now and buy twenty massive Havana's.

The 11:50 sleeper isn’t a great ride. As soon as your head hits the pillow, the uniformed storm-trooper is bashing your door down with a cup of luke-warm coffee and two fingers of shortcake. It’s a very rude, early awakening which has none of the charms of the longer, more relaxed service of the 9:15.

However, it does take you north, to Glasgow.

Queen Street Station slowly filled with society’s ne’er-do-wells, all sporting impossibly heavy rucksacks and a disgustingly healthy cleanliness, that would inevitably dissolve into a quagmirey mess of tick bites and body odour in a matter of days. One chap was sporting the very latest in technical bin-liners and he assured the curious onlookers that it was bomb-proof, barbed wire proof and up to the job. We never saw the garment again…

Our train trundled into Oban and we were soon in our room at the Youth Hostel, looking over to Mull:

MULL

There was the small matter of one member of our party, who shall remain nameless, disporting himself at the window as two young ladies passed by below. We shall draw a veil over the incident and it won’t be mentioned again. What happens on the Challenge stays on the Challenge. After a small gratuity was paid, the girls agreed not to take the matter any further.

BIRD WATCHING

The other members of our party concentrated their efforts on the scenic splendours of the evening:

OBAN SUNSET

ANDY'S SUNSET

Lord Elpus was chucked into the Power Shower, (set on “stun”) and his sins were flayed from his miserable debauched flesh.

We all slept nervously in our bunks, with Andy dreaming of footless pregnant women and Phil had mad axe-men smashing down our bedroom door.

36 comments:

  1. Looking forward to the next installment Alan it sounds like it will be another wonderful account.

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    1. I shall spare no blushes. The truth will out! Jungle's navigational prowess will be laid bare for all to see!

      Delete
  2. I was looking forward to your write up, Alan, but please promise no more photos of Phil in his underwear or I will have to set up some filters on my PC to protect me from more of such 'adult content'.

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    1. It's okay David.
      I'll include a few pictures from "Reader's Wives" for your delectation & delight. You can tell your wife that it's just my blog you're reading.
      :-)

      Delete
  3. Great first instalment, I look forward to reading the next. Buxton Moor Top is a personal favourite.

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    Replies
    1. With a fortnight's holiday ahead, all beers taste wonderful.
      :-)

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  4. Alan, my morning spent relaxing, drinking coffee and eating some fresh pastries has come to a somewhat abrupt halt with *that* photo. Does it get worse, or better!? Joking aside, I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the Crossing. You gents really did get a superb send off with that sunset.

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    1. Hi Nick

      It's all downhill from here. We even managed some hills, some say, by accident, but hills were climbed and views were taken, with a few drops of the peaty electric water to calm the nerves.

      That's the last you'll see of bare flesh - it was far too chilly after that, even for Lord Elpus's lascivious temperament.

      Delete
  5. So, that is what happened really.
    It's all been fuzzy since the pills in the Bree Louise.
    And I had luckily completely forgotten that dream.

    Until Now.

    Oh, the horror.

    Day 3 on my blog soon.

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  6. And what was the name of the lady at the ferry?

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    Replies
    1. Patience, Dear Heart! That's the next day's write-up.
      :-)

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    2. I can't.
      I have already done day 1, and I had to put xxxxxx in.
      Soon I will be at Tulloch, and they feature in that one too.
      Oh so many missing memories.
      I am about to add the Highland/Jazz fusion memory to day 1.

      Delete
    3. The couple will be in your Challenge Final Details, oh Impatient One!

      A very nice young lady, I seem to recall...
      :-)

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    4. Not Margaret (I got that wrong at dinner). Catherine I reckon, Andy. Yeah, go with Catherine. I wonder if she ever made it to Fersit or got eaten by the Ents.

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    5. If the Ents didn't get them, the residents of Fersit would probably have a go...
      Duelling Banjos....

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  7. I remember that dream. The detail was like something from a horror film (I usually sleep through them...)

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  8. My favourite!!!! Oooo, Jack...

    Took me ages to read the book, I could only read the scary bits in daylight. Excellent though!

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  9. Andy probably should not be sharing his dreams with others, may find himself getting locked up one day.

    Shame I was not more sociable and popped into the Bree Louise, however my curry was very nice....................

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    Replies
    1. Here's a tip. When in a bothy with Andy, if you enjoy cutting your toenails, always sleep with the bothy saw under your mattress.

      NEVER let Phil anywhere near the axe.

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  10. Fantasmagorical Alan, more please!

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    1. Ah Dawn
      If it's fantasy you're after, then look no further than Mad'n'Bad's blog. I've often wondered what it must be like to live inside his head.
      He has the Beatle's music over at his place. Perhaps I should try that.

      Magical Mystery Tour, anyone?

      Delete
  11. Ah yes, the young ladies.

    They had great legs ... bloody great legs!

    Boom boom ;-)

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    Replies
    1. Candice and Cheryl-Anne send you their best, Phil.

      Fine women.

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  12. Pleased to see he kept his undies on this time. You're lucky he didn't do his usual trick :-0

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    Replies
    1. As the local Community Support Officer said to Cheryl-Anne & Candice, "Move along now, there's nothing to see..."

      How do you cope? Wicked, wicked Uncle Bertie...

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  13. I've always said the Challenge is in a world of its own, but I think this is a whole Other World...

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    Replies
    1. This world is so much nicer than the one outside.
      :-)
      x

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  14. LISTEN, IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
    Get over HERE and run through the TGOC 2013 Index..
    100% Made up TRUTH!

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    Replies
    1. I will let our readers decide on the truth. It's somewhere between the two accounts, in the gaps between the paving slabs.
      :-)

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  15. please no more pictures of any of you three in a state of undress i don,t think my nerves can cope anymore

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    1. That was the last time it was warm enough to shed any clothing. We spent the rest of the walk adding layers.

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  16. More blog .more blog ,more blog...come on you slacker!! Love you really cuz!!

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    Replies
    1. That'll be our Helen, then.
      :-)
      Hello Beautiful!
      More has now been done! Day 2 is now up!

      Delete
  17. Adventure or one long pub crawl? I have started to read all about it Alan. A fine start.

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    Replies
    1. How very dare you!

      It's a finely honed stravaig! With pubs.

      Delete

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