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ReportsWednesday, 1 August 2001
Amersham --> Maidenhead (UK) James Caroll brought me on the back of his motorbike to Maidenhead, where I met my next hosting family, the Raymond's. Forget all the dental problems, I got a free relaxing massage from a Russian therapist!
After staying with the Caroll's and attached family, James said he would bring me to my next destination, some 20 miles south.
I liked that idea, but never knew we'd be going on his motorbike.
Around noon he fixed up my luggage in and onto the back of the motorbike and when everything was safely strapped, we hit the road!
It was a new experience for me, I had never been on the back of a motorbike before.
I had to get just to the fact that when James accelerate, I had to hang forward on to his back. When he used the break (where I automatically go forward) I had to lean backwards.
Almost half an hour later we drove into Maidenhead, a peaceful city, in county Berkshire, west of London.
And we easily found the address of my next hosting family, the Raymond's. When we arrived, Mrs. Yve Raymond, already came out of the door to welcome me.
When all my stuff was unloaded off the bike, I thanked James for his hospitality in Amersham.
Yve's husband, Chris, had initially invited me over. He once heard about me on Steve Wrights In The Afternoon on BBC Radio 2, and thought it was a great idea, so why not join the party and invite me over...
Chris Raymond is currently a graphic designer, managing his own business called Cobalt Graphic Design.
And what I saw of it, like the web designs he has produced, really stunned me. It is an enormous list, something I won't expect at a single person office, but more with a big company.
Next to this work, Chris is a total sport freak. On television, I mean. According to his wife Yve, Chris watches everything, all sports, sometimes even late at night.
The days I visited them where totally in the light of the latest cricket games, where England played versus Australia.
Cricket is one of the sport I think I will never understand.
In the Netherlands cricket is as common as dart, you only hear about it when a Dutch team or person is doing very well, but no-way that television explains a little bit what it is all about.
I prefer baseball much more, but that sport seems to be something totally different. Strange, I think, because it also has a bat and a ball doesn't it? (Naive Ramon writing...).
Yve is a teacher's assistent at the local Maidenhead school, so she and her son Charles, are enjoying 8 weeks of holiday this summer.
For Charles that is the ultimate: no school, which for him means playing outdoor with friends for 8 weeks!
One of the websites Chris has created was Humana-Relax, a new sort of relax therapy company. Chris told me that he knew the director of Humana Ltd, Galina Imrie.
The relax therapy website got me more interested in it and Chris offered to call the lady for a free massage. I agreed with that and at 6 o'clock that evening I met Galina.
Galina is born in Moscow, Russia, where alternative therapies are virtually mainstream. She is an educational psychologist, teacher and a qualified personal trainer and massage therapist.
At her apartment in Maidenhead, a few blocks away from Chris' home, I was given a glass of water and relaxing music was turned on. I had to sit in this special massage chair and Galina started this extensive and great relaxing massage therapy on me.
I think, some fifteen minutes later, I was even sweating a bit - that good was it!
And during the therapy, Chris made photographs with my camera and those pictures will also be used for the Humana-Relax website.
After the massage Galina showed me some basic stretching techniques, which everybody should actually do twice a day. Just to loosen the mussles and re-activate your body.
With her laptop running on her desk, I told her about my project and showed her this website. She was very amazed by it and couldn't really understand that I was the guy on that website and was actually standing next to her in real life!
As I was leaving the UK soon, going to another country, Galina offered me her Bill Bryson's book Notes from a small island, as a souvenir from Great Britain.
After nearly two decades in Britain, Bill Bryson took the dicision to move back to the States for a while, to let his kids experience life in another country, to give his wife the chance to shop until 10 pm seven nights a week and, most of all, because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been adbucted by aliens at one time or another, and was thus clear to him that his people needed him.
But before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of a goodbye tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.
This is what the book is about and it is funny because Bryson is not afraid to give completely himself. I had to laugh out loud a couple of times!
I thanked Galina for the book and she wished me luck on my future travels.
When Chris and I got back home, we had dinner in the back garden and helped Eve out with doing the dishes afterwards.
With Charles playing outside until it got dark and Chris and Eve hooked on the exiting cricket game on television, I spent the rest of the night using Chris' office computer.
I got an email from the BBC Newsroom and the reporter really wanted to come over for an interview, complete with a film crew. But when I called her and told her I was currently in Maidenhead, the offer was rejected. "Sorry, that's just too far out of London," she said.
Next to that I had been invited for Radio Five Live's Nicky Campbell Show, to be a guest next to Alison Moyet (the 80's singer) and a Bollywood actress.
Everything was arranged, except the transport. They didn't really figure out how I should get to their studio complex in the middle of London at 11 o'clock in the morning without any budget.
"So, do you mean you don't have any money with you?" the producer asked me by phone.
"So you can't take the train or underground to get here?"
"Not without any money."
"I'll have to call you back later."
And it ended up that the Nicky Campbell programme could not afford 50 English Pounds to get me over there from my current location. Really strange, I must say.
I don't want to sound spoiled with this, but I just don't want to make myself too easy to ask if the Raymond's could help me out and get me to the studios.
Just because I already knew I was never able to hitchhike into London, and get even somewhere near their studio address.
If radio really wants me on air, they should be able to do anything; that's what is media is all about.
And it was just cheaper to go for another guest than to have me over. Thank God for the silly season, but don't bother me with it.
Between these two lines here I had originally written my confusing thoughts about how media can interfere my project. I spent almost an hour on the phone with some Dutch reporter and later heard that the project wasn't interesting enough for a story in their newspaper.
Well: don't call me!
If the guy would have done some proper research he would have found all the answers I gave him during the phone conversation, on this website.
It really bothered me, but I erased the 300 words about this situation, because I was just getting insulting to that medium and this person.
On the other hand I have good news for all the Steve Wright's fans. Halfway March he talked about my project on BBC Radio 2 and made my website their Website of the Day.
And so many people have heard this show and invited me over at their place, so you can imagine that I am very grateful to the publicity Wright's show gave me.
But for over two months I tried to get contact with him, by telephone, fax and email. Even numereous hosts of mine tried to do the same and tried to tell Mr. Wright that Ramon was staying at their place that time.
Finally I received an email and I called the number of one of the producers.
"Do you think you are in the neighborhood somewhere next week?"
"Errr, I tried to contact you for over two months and next week I have already left this country."
"Oh, wow... So where will you be then?"
I told him my next destination.
"Do you think we could give you a call there and see if we can do an interview by phone from Copenhagen?"
So, hopefully that can be arranged as I will arrive in this country, where I'll fly off to on Monday and where I have never been before.
For now, good night Maidenhead!
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