Monday, 7 June 2010

On the adventures of Bram Sawyer

Today I went and looked at a castle in Austria somewhere. I don't know exactly where since I'm ignorant. It was a big family outing planned by my girlfriend's mother and if you've read my previous posts you'll know that where I'm concerned, the words 'big', 'family' and 'outing' combine to equal 'fear'. That said it was enjoyable enough as decrepit old castle ruins go, although since I understood barely a word of what the tour guide said, my personal highlights were seeing a wild falcon and a fire salamander, staring at a couple of slugs bigger than anacondas, having a big red beetle fly at me, and managing to pick SEVEN ticks off of my legs before they burrowed into my flesh and began to eat me - older post readers will again appreciate this.

Austria is host to an amazing and unexpected variety of wildlife - I see numerous things for the first time pretty much every month. It's as if someone went around the world gathering sackfuls of things that would amaze and freak me out and then walked slightly ahead of me dropping them in my path.

In the evening, the weather was still burningly hot so Vicky and I decided to take a dinghy along to a river in her home village with the intention of 'rafting' downstream back home, my raft being an old, dubious looking dinghy, and my nigger* being Vicky.

*I'm quoting Mark Twain here before you all start calling me racist

I've never been in a boat on wild waters before and had to control it myself so I was pretty apprehensive, yet also excited to be fulfilling some of my Twain-esque fantasies. And when I say control it myself, I actually mean lounge at the back whilst Vicky did all the damn work as this was my intention. I was expecting a relaxing evening.

Vicky's mother, sister, brother, his girlfriend and their kid had all come along to see us cast off, which I obviously enjoyed since I love being the centre of attention, especially when it involves clambering through branches and mud and maneuvering my 6'3" 210lb frame into a rickety old boat, whilst striving to maintain an air of relaxation and confident masculinity. In case you can't tell I'm being sarcastic. The experience was made even more pleasurable by the completely baffling presence of a bunch of strangers (an old man, a couple of kids and a few Turkish-looking guys) who were just stood along the tiny bridge, looking at the completely unremarkable water before them.

Anyways, we managed to get in, and I instantly felt sinky, but it was kind of peaceful and figured I'd enjoy it while it lasted. My job was to look out for obstacles at the rear of the boat and make sure we didn't crash, but I found it difficult because I kept getting distracted by insects. First I was terrified by a Mayfly because I'd never seen one before and its sting that isn't a sting looked lethal. Then a spider with a bright yellow abdomen tried to steal the oar I wasn't using (Google has so far failed to tell me what the spider was - I guess it may have just been an ant carrying a lemon).

In my head we managed to travel around 3 miles downstream before disaster hit although in reality it was probably a couple of hundred metres. We came snagged on a branch and pushing off caused the branch to get mad and bite a hole in the rear of the boat. We were going down! Maneuvering a sinking dinghy to the shore proved particularly difficult, especially with such a useless and fat first mate as I so by the time we managed it the back half with me in it was pretty much entirely submerged. We clambered aboard with the help of Vicky's brother, although to be honest he just stood there laughing and then inexplicably fell over whilst standing completely still, which amused me greatly.

I then had to carry a dinghy bigger than me across a field whilst completely drenched, and this was the highlight of my weekend. Good day to you all!

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