The bus to Roscoff was a puzzle. Why the hell did I walk from Morlaix station to the hostel the previous day, ending up a sweaty, thirsty mess when a bus was available? Answer is that it was one of those "as needed" types of services which occur in third world countries. If I'd bothered to read the pamphlet this would have been old news to me. I was worrying about this to overcome my broken heart. Louise, the girl with whom I'd made life plans, had chosen another bloke and become engaged during a Gaelic festival held in Toulon the previous evening. It is irrelevant that the plans I'd made were on the basis of her sexily intoned (everything is sexy, especially if it is broken English spoken in a French accent by an attractive mademoiselle), invitation to attend said Gaelic festival and that we never discussed these plans. The shards of our love lay in the dust of Toulon so I got back to what I knew best; figuring out what to do on Il de Batz. There'd be cafes and such and the hostel sounded pretty cool. There'd have to be a beach somewhere and I'm sure the other ratsackers would provide some sort of entertainment. it wasn't as if this were one of those places advertised as a must see in "Let's Go" or other travel guidebooks. So there'd be less of the college-kid mentality, no groups of German schoolkids and no busloads of Contikis. Yeah, I reckoned this should be good.
I reached Roscoff and had enough time to stock up on some basics (beer, wine, bread, cheese, tomatoes before the ferry took me across to the island. From the jetty it was a short walk up to the hostel where I signed in, claimed a rack and sorted out my day pack. Mick, Deb, Brian and Tim were due in on the last ferry so I went down to the jetty and met them. They were able to claim a separate 4 person cabin which had its own cooker, fridge and table. Perfect. We had dinner in the main hostel, savoury crepes, and knocked back a few wines. The vibe of the place was very, very relaxed. It had been a sprint for them to make it to the island and I was still nutting out what had gone on during my Morlaix interlude. Deb reckoned that Yvette had been originally messing with my mind and then had second thoughts but that my protestations about Louise's undying and everlasting love were delusional. Ya think?
The following morning I invaded the others' cabin and we made up some breakfast. Its funny how scratch omelets cooked on a cheap French cooker with not much in them except for cheese and tomatoes tasted like the best thing ever. We went for a wander and found the beach but the rain gods intervened. In fact it started giving us a nice old drenching so we bolted for the nearest cafe. It wasn't yet midday but we had something to eat and then discovered they had draught beer. Well, one thing led to another, we found a jukebox and started in on surviving a flood. Whenever we'd step outside another burst of rain would shepherd us back inside. Luckily we were the first ones there because after an hour or so tables and chairs were at a premium. As long as we kept buying, we could keep our table. So we kept on buying drinks. We laughed at our situation, comparing it to pub sessions back home and why the fuck had we gone all the way to this small island in northern France to do exactly the same thing? I couldn't be arsed explaining it, just said that it was happening for a reason and Mick, must be your shout eh? I got the next round in and quizzed Deb about some pictures we'd taken in the first couple of weeks of this European jaunt. It was Deb, Jerry (Wally - who dogged an RV in Basel) and myself who'd landed in London a couple of months previously. In the first couple of weeks we did a few mini jaunts. One of these was down to Brighton to see what the fuss was about. Pebbly beaches, rain and damn fine fish ' n chips. Who were we to argue with what the Brits considered seaside holidays?
Deb had her camera and asked me to take one of her and Wally on the beach. I focused in and waited as a dog in the background behind Deb took a dump. Click! I was hoping the shutter opened just at the moment when the shit hit the ground 'cos it would look like it was crapping on Deb's head. She said she hadn't had them developed as they were slides. Slides? What the fuck? She reckoned it was cheaper that way, the pics would be better and she intended having a slide night when she got back. I begged out of that one and kept shtum about the crapping dog. Slide nights were meant for people interested in things likes garden gnomes or train serial numbers, a real Sixties Aunties kind of thing. It was a month or so after we'd got back in Sydney that Mick told me the shot of Deb on the beach had in fact turned out as intended and the guys had ended up laughing hysterically for a good while, with Deb being suitably embarrassed and wanting my blood. Gold medal to Therbs! Back in the cafe the juke box copped a pounding, we did post mortems on everything we'd experienced and our resounding assessment was a big thumbs up.
We headed back to the hostel and cooked up some sausages and other bits and pieces for dinner in the cabin before moseying on over to the hostel proper. I went upstairs to get my jacket and stumbled on a wine party in the makings. Part of the makings was a familiar face. Holy shit, it was Leina! The Norwegian girl I'd seen in Sete. She'd been the only reason I shambled in a long hot queue at the hostel. She'd also been a future Mrs Therbs, a Norwegian stunner who'd also avoided my advances. It was brilliant finding her there so I introduced her to my friends with Mick showing some interest. Heh heh heh, no dice there sunshine. They already knew the background so everything was cool. Man, this was just like one very cool, very together party. A few musicians were twiddling away in the background but mostly it was laughter, wine and more laughter. It was one of those times which wraps you up in a big warm blanket of bliss and makes you think that, yeah, life is a wonderful thing. The laughter and music gradually diminished until there remained soft murmurings and the noises of people getting into their sleeping sacks. I lay down with Leina for a short while, kissed her goodnight and went to my own rack. When I got up a couple of hours later to relieve some pressure the sleeping dorm looked cute. It was like a pile of kittens and puppies sprawled over each other, sleep-breathing a collective content.
The morning began with a mixture of eggs, bacon, toasted baguettes, croissants and cornflakes all spread around the hostel's kitchen while the party-goers recharged themselves. The ones leaving on the morning ferry looked sad as they shouldered their packs and trudged off into a fine morning. The sun was out! I went to the cabin where the others were finishing off breakfast and we went off down to the beach. The beach looked a bit windswept with evidence of the previous day's squalls lurking on the fringes in scattered clumps. We'd been inside for too long and it showed. We'd gone slightly bonkers. Brian on his side, pushed himself round, doing circles on the sand a la Curly Stooge, Mick and I made 'Whoop whoop whoop' noises and Deb simply laughed and shook her head in disgust. Someone took out a frisbee so we tore it up, across and down the beach expending a lot of pent up energy. We were young, exuberant and being full of ourselves we behaved accordingly. We were fair and square in our spring days.
The rest of the day we spent scrambling around the island looking for pirate treasure and found it in a cafe. It looked remarkably like the cafe which had sheltered us from the storm the previous day. So once again we slaked our thirst and munched on baguettes with tasty fillings.
Back in the cabin the night was closing in. We talked about what we were doing next. I had a need to get to Munich and then to Nijmegen for an RV with Doug. I wondered what the silly Canuck was getting up to and couldn't wait to find out. The others were now squeezing a bit of time and wanted to be lit out for the south of France pretty soon. So it was decided that tomorrow we'd take off. The island was small, the vibe had been good and we didn't want to stretch it, twist it into something it wasn't. That left our final evening needing some worthy attention. I really can't remember where all the booze came from but we chilled out in the main hostel with a few beers before someone tapped a never ending wine supply. It was seriously good stuff and seemed to cost not much at all. Whether it was pirates' booty or someone on the island had a lead on the so-called EEC "Wine Lake" I wouldn't know. What I do know is that it was a fine drop. Once again a scratch band of musicians started twiddling away, one of whom was a violinist. She was astoundingly good. I had to ask and found that she was studying in Vienna and with any luck would be getting a gig with an orchestra within a couple of years. Apparently the main companies send out talent scouts, just like a good football team and start sweet talking students in their second and third years. She gave good classical. She also dug in and brought out some rollicking fiddle playing, accompanied by a guitar, harmonica and a flute.
In the background I spotted Kristen. I'd first encountered her in Switzerland when I was telling a group of other ratsackers about Lauterbrunnen and how fucking beautiful it is. I went over and said hello and we swapped travel notes. Then I noticed Leina, who came over and joined us.
I knew she was basically off tap but wanted to see if she'd be interested in a jaunt over to Krautland for some beer and wurst. Sigh, it was the old story of having to get back home soon. She even showed me the ticket. She must have misinterpreted my look of hope for a storm of doubt. I really didn't care. I'd asked in case there was a chance, not really expecting success. Excusing ourselves from Kristen we went outside for a short farewell snog 'n grope but that's all it was going to be. She reminded me that she had been in the same room as Ann and I that night in Sete. Fair enough my Nordic princess, it was great meeting you the first time in Sete and catching you again on the fly was a bonus.
Back inside the party was motoring along nicely. The spark was good and the carbies were delivering the fuel-air mix in perfect blend. Mick noticed my return and Leina's divergence to her crew after we'd walked back inside.
"What goes with the Viking? She your way or what?"
"Well mate, she doesn't want a sausage fest in Germany 'cos she has to get back to building long ships. Wasn't a complete brush off, she showed me her ticket as poof of her verfuckingracity."
"So that's what you call it now. Heard some euphemisms before but that one's certainly a new one to me. Okay if I tell the crew back home next month? Dave will love it."
"Mick, fuck off and get me a beer. "
Kristen came over so I told her the Leina story. I was interested in her take on the scene. She reckoned that Leina was simply not interested. But what about the pash 'n prod outside? Just a bit of harmless, meaningless fun was her analysis. She gave me one of those looks which is all question. I looked back and she nodded.
"So you're not really in love. I can tell. You are not lovesick."
"I never said I was in love. Just fancied her is all." Damn, caught out behind the wicket by that demon cricketer Telling-the-Truth.
"That's good. She is a beautiful woman. Natural for you to want her. Now you must look elsewhere."
I was looking straight at her and said;
"I am. Right at this moment."
"Ha! I am happy with my boyfriend. He is just over there. Come and say hello later."
Geez, I was getting bowled out all over the shop this night. Never mind. I looked around and saw Brian a few feet away with Deb. I let them in on the latest. Brian cracked up. Mick came back with beers, handing them out. He looked at Brian and said,
"See that girl over there with the guy wearing a green jacket? She knocked me back. That's her boyfriend." He'd missed my encounter with Kristen and didn't understand why we broke up laughing. He was quickly brought up to speed and we swapped rueful grins. I turned to Brian and said;
"How about you mate? Fancy a root?"
"Nup, dunno where you've been sticking it mate. Besides, Deb smells nicer than you and has better tits. "
Deb did one of her trademark head shakes;
"You're not on, both of you!" She was a quick study.
The rest of the night went well. Lots of drinks and music and I even stole a slow dance with Leina again. Eventually the party broke up and we all found our way back to our racks to share snores. The island had seduced us, wined us, laughed and danced with us and now was drawing a curtain on our performance. All that was left was for us to take a final bow and leave the stage.
In the morning we scrambled around a communal breakfast, laughing at the previous night and I noticed quite a few knowing looks between various parties. I suspected a lot of night-time frolics were had by people who weren't me. C'est la fucking vie, time to pack up, grab the others and get the ferry to Roscoff. We did all that and then hit an inkblot on our page. The bus wasn't due to leave for a a couple of light years. Hmmm. Hold on. There was a group of us! Taxi! Morlaix s'il vous plait. We made Morlaix in time to wait a couple of hours for a train. We said our good byes on the train with promises to tell everyone back home every single detail of what each other had done. The gloves would be off. None of this "what happens on tour stays on tour" crap. Oh no, we'd be slinging mud like an inkstain of tabloid scribblers. Once again I was saying goodbye to good friends and heading off into "stuffed if I know but it should be great" land. We hadn't been over emotional in our good-byes. Simply an acknowledgement of good times shared and a knowledge that we'd be badgering each other again within six months.
Right! It was now time to invade Germany again. Decision time. Where to first? Munich? They sell beer in big 1 litre glasses there don't they and those tasty bier wursts. Ja fucking wohl they do! Raus. Macht Schnell!