The last you heard we were in Aosta, which was a fantastic town. We made friends with generous Scottish bar staff at the Old English Distillery, where the free drinks flowed like water - fizzy hops flavoured water. We drank sponsorable quantities, and our hangovers accompanied us along the road for some days.
With the Alps far behind us we set off across the monotonous North Italian plain. The only crop found here is rice, and the quagmires in which it is grown provide meagre opportunities for rough camping, but paradise on earth for mosquitoes. Word quickly spread that Paddy’s legs were in the neighbourhood, and for a week or two, clouds of these parasitic groupies chased us from swamp to swamp. It was Hitchcock in miniature, Paddy collecting forty two confirmed bites in twenty four hours, with a similar number of kills. Andy, thinking he got off lightly with his paltry three bites was yet to discover his own nemesis … the crayfish.
Just as mother nature was about to crush our spirits completely, we were rescued by a night in a shining Alfa. Mark Struthers, having sold himself to the Devil, or at least the Devils accountant, flew out to Milan for one last taste of the good life. Armed with fly rods we headed north for a few days fishing in the Italian Alps, or so we thought.
To cut a long and boring story short, a squat Italian bureaucrat refused to give us a permit. Desperate times called for a desperate road trip, and the roll of a dice told us to go to Austria. After an epic 11 hour drive, and a few phone calls to the Austrian aristocracy, we found ourselves installed in a cosy woodcutters cottage, sipping whiskey in front of a log fire. Our host, Fritz Hardegg, provided us with some fantastic trout fishing, schnapps fuelled evening entertainment with his charming family and friends and a tour of his impressive and vast estate.
Alas the good life had to come to an end. Mark drove us back to our starting point, before returning back to London. We loaded up our packs and hit the road once more. Mark, you are an absolute legend for organising such an amazing break, and for fuelling us with so much good food and booze.
For the last four weeks we have been continuously sleeping rough. We set off this morning between five and six, in a vain effort to beat the heat. The roads in these parts are monotonously straight, which is great for covering distance, but also allow the Italian drivers to reach perilous speeds, often forcing us in to ditches and hedgerows. We brake at about twelve to sit out the heat, until around five o’clock, afterwards we crack on for another hour or two, in search of an inconspicuous stop where we can cook and rest our weary legs. Washing, however, is a different matter. We have had just two showers in the last five weeks on the road, and we are reliant on rivers and streams to wash. Our luck was to change, as yesterday we met Sammy Maccagnola, who was insisted on looking after us for the afternoon. Before we knew it, we were squeaky clean, and sitting round the kitchen table in borrowed clothes, eating punnits of ice-cream with his mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, cousin and baby niece. The generosity then extended to an enormous and delicious supper, a tour of a nearby town, plentiful glasses of various home made alcoholic concoctions, and a roof over our heads for the night.
We reluctantly said our farewells this morning after a hearty breakfast, and set off to the town from which the update comes. Our lunch break is now over, and it is time for us to move on. Somewhere out there, there is a hedgerow with our name on it.
Please keep spreading the rambling word - there’s lots of money still to raise.
Just another Whisky sunset