Monday, 8 February 2010

A Lucky Escape

Last weekend I didn't have any adventures planned so decided to make the most of some cheap Hot Air Balloon flights to Europe I had seen at As a romantic treat I booked 2 seats for Wortha and myself to Transylvania and thought it would be nice to do a bit of hiking in the mountains. Wortha seemed less than impressed when I informed her and said if I wanted to spend a weekend with her I needed to book at least 3 weeks in advance. She really is a very busy lady. Wortha suggested that rather than waste the tickets I should go with my Man-servant, Gavin and seemed genuinely pleased when I agreed, though I am sure she was disappointed not to be going with me.
The flight was uneventful and we arrived early on Saturday morning. After a light breakfast of pickled scabbage and cornmeal we found a guide, a strapping young fellow named Bogdan, and set off to explore the mountains. The weather was pleasant and we made good progress until the afternoon, when the terrain became more difficult. We had to make use of all our rock-climbing experiences and more than once we were forced to get on all fours and try our hand at uphill tunneling. Once we reached the pinnacle, though, the views made up for all our efforts. We sat down to regain our strength for the descent. Gavin lit up his Peruvian pipe and smoked some of his special tobacco he gets imported from South America while Bogdan offered me his salami. Which was delicious. I wanted to stay longer, but Bogdan was anxious we should return before dark. When I questioned him upon why, he became most serious, crossed himself several times and whispered "Spatula". I think.
On the descent from the summit the weather became rather inclement. The wind gusted from the East and West and it started to drizzle. As our progress slowed we realised we would be unable to make it all the way down the mountain before nightfall. I was carrying a small tent and was quite prepared to camp out with Gavin and Bogdan, but the young Guide was having none of it... urging us to go down faster.
It was almost dark when he brought us to a ramshackle Tavern perched on the edge of a dark ravine. We went in and glad of the warmth and comfort we afforded ourselves the luxury of some of the local ale. Upon sitting down we were approached by a grizzled old gentleman who, judging by his complexion, must have been at least 120 years old.
He introduced himself as Lozrick and we struck up a conversation. He seemed like an affable kind of soul. However, when I mentioned that I was thinking of going back out that night his countenance changed and he fixed me with a desperate stare. Clutching my hand he made me promise not to go and proceeded to tell me how an evil spirit roamed the mountain at night sucking out the eyes of those unfortunate enough to find themselves without shelter after dark. It was, indeed, a scary story and I could see the old man believed it, but I am Bertram Fiddle, World's Leading Explorator, and trifling ghost stories do not worry me. It was a bit cold out, though, so Gavin and I decided to stay the night. I began to recount some of the many adventures I have had and soon found myself to have attracted an audience of men around me, all murmuring their interest.
Yet as the evening passed a growing sense of unease kept nagging at me. More and more men were arriving at the bar, despite the sun having set several hours ago. And as I looked around the bar I also noticed that instead of the usual serving wenches this tavern employed young bartenders whose uniform consisted of no shirt and lederhosen with a bit missing at the rear. How queer, I thought to myself. The music was also surprisingly uptempo. I decided to inspect my new companions more closely and it was then I began to panic. Several of the men sat around me were drinking cocktails and Lozrick, the old gentleman I had been talking to earlier was wearing ladies make-up. I realised that this tavern must be haunted and was infested by the very spirits I thought I was sheltering from. I looked around for Gavin, but he was nowhere to be seen. I was considering making a run for it when Gavin came out of the toilets chatting merrily with a stout, broad-shouldered fellow sporting a fine handlebar moustache. At least he seemed normal. I made my way over and told Gavin we were leaving immediately. The gentleman with the moustache asked why and I told him of my fears and urged him to leave too. He laughed heartily and slapped me manfully on my rear in a sporting fashion. "I have nothing to fear here," he said, but said perhaps I should run along before the spirits started getting mischievous. I agreed and Gavin and I slipped out the tradesman's entrance and down the back alley before anyone noticed.
We made it back to the town without further incident and boarded the next available flight back to London. I can't tell you how relieved I was to be back in good, old England where up is up and down is down. To celebrate our lucky escape we immediately went to my favourite drinking establishment, the Pink Sausage in Soho, and spent the night drinking with some Sailors. Ah, you can have so much fun with British Seamen.

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