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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Friday, 3 August 2001
Maidenhead --> Ealing, London (UK)

Mmmm. At the last minute, my sponsored flight got cancelled last night, so I had to contact some more places to stay in the area of the Heathrow Airport and wait for my next possible place.
Yve made me a sandwich breakfast in the morning and Chris finished his Microsoft Acces course with an exam around noon.

As I said goodbye to Yve, Chris brought me to a office complex called The Foundation, just outside of Maidenhead.

My next host, Dan, would meet me at the office parking at a certain time. As he lives in the London town Ealing, he coincidentally works in Maidenhead and offered to give me a ride home in the afternoon.

When I met him on the parking grounds, I had to say goodbye to Chris and I thanked him very much for letting me stay in Maidenhead.

Dan took me with him inside his office and let me meet some of his colleagues as he packed his stuff together to head home.

He works as a franchise manager of de baby care knowledge management world-wide team of Johnson & Johnson, not really an unknown international company.

I actually only knew it from my parent’s teeth floss products.

That's how I ended up in Ealing, West-London, and just minutes away from the spot where a carbomb exploded yesterday a few minutes for midnight.

People are being frightened by television, but I don't see anything to worry about. The bomb was claimed by the Real IRA, a split-off of the IRA, and exploded this car to get attention for the situation in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

I am staying with Dan and Karen Hawtrey, who have been married for two months, who are really great young people, living in a lovely place.

Dan and Karen just had gone to bed yesterday night, just before the bomb exploded, but they didn’t hear anything at all.

It was Dan who initially invited me over, as he heard me on KissFM’s Breakfast Show with DJ Bam Bam. For him there was no reason for doubt as the complete idea sounded so impressive.

He’d never expected me to call him and ask if I could stay over, thanks to his invitation.

After a few glasses of wine as their Welcome to Ealing from them, they took me out for another drink in a pub.

The question was if they could even get to the pub, because it was close in the neighbourhood of the scene where the carbomb exploded. We walked a few blocks and into a street that was barricaded from cars, but pedestrians were welcome.

I didn’t see much of it, as I arrived as a real disaster tourist, at the place where the police stopped everybody from crossing the ‘police-do-not-cross’-wires.

A television crew was just packing their equipment into their bag and a BBC-van was taking their transmitter down. Further away in the blocked off street I could only see the side of a white trolley, which was probably set there to let the police investigate the place without people zooming in on them.

But the pub, the Grange Tavern, was eventually reachable by walking around a few blocks. As we set outside in the pub’s garden, nothing seems to remember the fact that a bomb exploded a few blocks from here.

The British are used to it. That’s also why a lot of them don’t see any point of any terrorist organisation having bombs explode in the city. People will be more concerned about the wounded or dead, while the question Why it exploded and by Who stays on the background.

From the Grange Tavern we walked back to the house again, where Karen put chicken portions into the oven.

While Karen prepared dinner, Dan processed some of his work on his computer, while I used his laptop to file a report.

I was also still waiting for a call back from the person I hoped to stay with tomorrow, in the London town called Kilburn. But even after 8 o’clock I had not heard from him.

“Why don’t you stay tomorrow? You are welcome to stay another day,” Karen said. My mind was thinking about the opinions of the many readers of my reports, who I had to disappoint by staying with my hosts for longer than a-day.

On the other hand, whatever someone might think, I am still on the road someway. So what would another day at the same address (once again) mean at all? If people see this as a problem, I’d just think that they have nothing else to complain about.



To reflect on a comment on my messageboard recently (which I normally don’t do that often):

One person from a far away country disliked the fact that I used the phrase “Shit happens” too much to point out my disappointment in something. I just want to make clear that when I use the phrase “Shit happens” I do NOT point out my disappointment, but I point out that it doesn’t really care to me.

I am travelling around on this planet and I get a toothage. I say: shit happens. Just call it Murpy’s Law. And for me it is a way to express that I just agree that things like that happen, but life goes on. I hope this person will understand this.



I decided to stay another day, why not?!

A mutual friend of Dan and Karen, Alex, also came over to enjoy Karen’s chicken menu.

After dinner, and it was already getting late, Karen was really eagerly trying to find out what my next country would be as my plane departed in two days.

But just for fun I refused to tell them, explaining them that a lot of people where casting their guesses on this website. Everybody would just have to find out...

“While you are staying with us tomorrow, why don’t I make you drunk and have you tell it to us anyway?” Karen asked.

I laughed about that, but nothing could relief my decision not to tell anything, as the Tequila shots with lemon and salt were only making me more relaxed.

As Alex drove off and Dan decided that he had enough, it ended up with Karen and me finishing to the bottom of the bottle. It was very amusing.

We talked about travelling, the internet, movies and how it is to be married, because I don't have a clue how that feels.

But the more I drank, the more serious I got in talking with Dan, which was a little frustration to Karen, she desperately wanted to know where I would be going soon. “Tell me, come on, tell me,” she said. “We will find out soon.”

When the bottle was really emptied to the last drop I was the one with a big smile on my face. I had enjoyed the tequila (however it’s not really that tasteful, that’s why the salt and the lemon is needed) and went to my bed in their guestroom with my head hovering away from my body to another atmosphere.

I was sure it would not be that pleasant to wake up tomorrow, but who would care about that when I closed my eyes and got asleep.
Shit happens!

Good night Ealing!

Ramon.




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