Category Archives: Cycle Switzerland

Cycle Switzerland – 2010 – Getting Going

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Friday 9th July

A little tiring was the post-work trudge to my home town’s train station, select but not entirely unsubstantive holiday baggage in tow.  Should have been in a good mood, really implausible that I should not have been, as I stood there waiting on the train to Chester.  It was, after all, the unofficial declared day of holiday commencement and if nothing else work was over for 2 weeks.  Should have been but as it transpired wasn’t.

I hadn’t started making notes at this point, as finer opportunity as this presented for such note making, what with the bag bound platform standing about.  Still I have my memories and if that’s not good enough (& writing up this here diary, has shown me clearly its not) then there is always the more time durable source, my written communications with the world from that day, which I will enter as evidence later.  As later is when they were scribed.

Back on the platform my mother phoned and I found out about my unexpectedly less than positive disposition.  Not that I remember being unduly untoward it’s merely that, on such occasions, I customarily extend every effort to being pleasant and I do remember on that day I did not.  Such occasions, being those meeting or calls that immediately proceed a holiday by either her or me and those efforts I mentioned; well they are both overstated and yet still no less a dim reflection upon my character.  A character that I hope will be clear from this account, an account I intent to be as detailed as I can afford the time to assemble and infinitely more honest than I customarily would choose.

I want to be able to read this back and not only remember this most different of holidays but also who we were when I wrote it.  A self serving effort and one that I hope I shall be grateful for, should ever I summon the energy in the future to troll back through this.  So briefly to articulate an accurate explanation for these ‘efforts’, it’s not some hidden fear of holidays or flying, it’s one of the two grate fears though, regret.

Few are the people who mean more to me than I’m able to rationalise, my mother stands quite alone among this scarce crowd (single parenting) a fact I hope never again to overlook and if I do, then I hope to find this passage in good time.   We should always make that extra effort, in reality I and I expect others can not.  On these occasions as I said I normally do.  It is not a logical propensity.

During the call she’d asked a question I’d heard before, more than once, ‘what was our plan?’ ‘Where would we be going?’ ‘What was the route?’ That sort of thing.  It was concern, overstated probably and definitely on occasion not entirely welcome.  More recently though I’d come to appreciate it for what it was, if not quite its manifestation, the good fortune to receive concern.  The answer remained largely as it had been, I simply did not know.  We would be headed from Zurich to Munich and there would be two bikes, a tent and some other stuff, among our party, that was the full extent of the plan as I knew it.

Continue reading Cycle Switzerland – 2010 – Getting Going

CYCLE SWITZERLAND – Planning [2010]

Back on the subject of this holiday:

The idea was born in various stages.

The first of these being a conversation the two of us had at the Duke of York pub near Victoria station in London.  This was around the end of March or maybe beginning of April and some chap had been cycling his way done the Americas, north to south.  He’d been keeping some sort of video diary of his efforts and this diary, slash reality TV documentary, were apparently being broadcast regularly on the TV.

It was a subject of some interest both at that time and quite clearly, continued to be so subsequently.

This was a time, for me, when I was beginning to firm up and expand upon a long standing realisation.  A realisation some others may even recognise, my new job seemed to be far from interesting, far from how it had been billed.  So I had been mulling, gently.

The background to this mulling was:

A little earlier that year, beginning of March, I’d changed jobs and as result I’d moved.

During my time in my old role i’d hypothesised:

  • That perhaps the tedium and disconnection of recant times was not entirely the product of my job and employer, as objectively ponderous and pointless as it all was (and could, if called upon, be readily shown to be.)
  • That it was, potentially, a wider malaise which could not unfortunately be so easily explained.

This recent move was yet to provide any evidence to counter these old hypotheses.  It was early days, very early days but this time it was on the clock, it needed to show me that the move (and all that had meant) had been worth it.  For now, while this new role failed to achieve the same iron fisted and certain ownership of being ponderous and the pointless,that its predecessor had buffed up as its defining badge, it was certainly showing concerning signs of being quite dedicated to doing some most ardent flirting in that direction.

I’d been looking for what drove the common trend of these arguably less than positive perceptions. The three key things these most recant jobs had in common were:

  1. The role – both revolve, in some notable way, around website management
  2. The employer – a rather large organisation (it could be said that there were certain other shared characteristics but large went without saying, it was an objectively true)
  3. The employee – was me.

It would have been quite remiss had I not considered that the third among these might be playing its part.  Though, in terms of things that can be changed, it also seemed the most limited, by no less than physics itself.

So that brings me back to the mulling, which had been so familiar in recant years.

Should this move fail to work out, then how do I address all of these three, in one fell swoop? what new thing to take up? be it a permanent or a temporary thing.  Mulling that had rolled on without a decisive outcome and nor should it.  It was, after all, only so very recently that I tried the new job thing, complete with it’s, less than sought after, geographic move.  (I’d spent the previous 4 years living in London, before the new job had me moving to the north-west).  Patience young Grass Hopper…..

Any firm conclusion on the success or not of this attempt needed to be delayed, at least until the passing of the 6 months marker.  A marker I’d laid down for myself, at the outset and remained committed to.  That said, if something promising was to be mulled up, well …. that probably wouldn’t do too much harm, purely as preparation, something to warm up in case things weren’t to change.

So I was mulling and we were there, sitting in the Duke of York, a rather traditional looking pub in the centre of London, Oscar, me and a number of Oscar’s other friends (friends who’d clearly been a little longer in the pub or otherwise in the company of alcohol.)   Oscar and I were discussing the efforts of the aforementioned dedicated cyclist of the Americas (yep, back with him now), when a notion of a new, improbable, thing that might be done came to me.  To get on my bike and just cycle.

Who knows where that would lead or how far my, not so finally honed athlete of a person would carry itself, but does that really mater? Perhaps it was the light smattering of alcohol but for all that, it seemed an uncommonly promising notion.

At the end of that weekend I returned to my new home in the north-west, with a not totally full hearted but none the less persistent and deliberate eye on this future.  So it was, from then on my bike was to be wheeled out from its place of rest (in the garage) and the trips I took it on, they were to be a little (only slightly so) more strenuous and given to adventure.

The second of these, retrospectively identified, stages that formed our trip’s inception came in late May.  We met up again when Oscar, along with some other mutual friends, descended upon Manchester.

At some point in the earlier part of that evening, as we sat again in a pub, we got to talking around the normal things.  You know, things like our what we’d been up to and any plans for holidays.  As part of this I reminded Oscar of our Duke of York conversation, how I was thinking of maybe just cycling for a bit at some point and how I was now trying to spend my time cycling about the place, at least a bit more cycling about the place than had been the case before.

Anything less and I was just sat there telling one of my good friends that my thing, the thing I’ve been doing since last we met, was taking my bike out occasionally after work.  Barn storming stuff, I was just putting that bad boy right out there, whether others were ready for it or not.

It was about here that the joint ideas first took hold, of our going on holiday together and that this holiday would be cycling orientated.  For as it transpired Oscar had been weighing up holiday options, one being a walking/hiking trip (Tibet or Nepal I believe it was) or a cycle trip of some sort.

Soon after, we found ourselves some mutually acceptable dates for our holidaying, booked the time off work and began the process of exchanging thoughts about possible routes.

31 May 2010 18:09

Me – > Oscar

As i’m about in 2 weeks time and 3 weeks when I get back from Switzerland it might be an idea, if your free to sit down and work out who needs to get what for the trip as I won’t probably be down again after that before we go away.

If your not about sure we can fashion sufficient communication of information via the evils of email and/or the ever more wrong telephone

1 June, 2010 10:19:46

Oscar -> Me

Subject:Re: bike

Sure want to meet on the 12th or 13th then? Did you have a look at the train tickets? Was reading about some of the things heading east – e.g. lake Constance and the black forest that look good….

1 June 2010 11:36

Me -> Oscar

black forest is very nice, as is lake Zurich and lake Genève, the four valleys lake – and como etc many nice places, i like them – Constance i think has a different name in Switzerland but i think i know which one that would be, i don’t know it but i believe it to be one of the biggest

13th would be good for me

1 June, 2010 14:20:36

Oscar -> Me

Subject:Re: bike

sure – 13th is a Sunday – are you not playing football on that day though?
Lake Constance –

Some routes – though you have to pay to view them. A friend of mine who works in a bike shop said they are pretty good. We can have a look at this on the 13th if you want to come over to mine – then head off to some bike shops etc.


The third stage came toward the beginning of June

As part of one of my frequent return trips to the south, I met up with Oscar near Waterloo one Saturday.  Oscar had found an economical bike rental company on the south bank and we were going to pay them a visit to determine the quality and suitability of their bikes.  We found it tucked away in a little shopping village, just of the south bank, that id been quite oblivious to.  This despite having walked past it countless times and even sat having dinner in plain sight of the very same shopping village, at one time.  It was as if the curtain had just been raised on this part of the stage for the first time.

So this secret shopping garden found itself revealed to the world and as a result, the world had gotten in and taken all the bikes. No more bikes, none for me, none for Oscar but we could come back, apparently if we were to come back a little later, there might be bikes.  The hire people were helpful.  They told us many of their bikes were expected to migrate back to them in a couple of hours and that they would be quite happy for us to take a couple of bikes out for a test ride at that time.

We left, with little clearly in mind beyond the knowledge that (a) we would need to come back and that (b) not too long thereafter, England would be playing their first world cup game.  Walking past Waterloo, it became imposingly clear where some of the absent bikes had got to.  The naked London bike thing, it came the other way, or at least a section of it did, hard to miss, a gaggle of nudey cyclists ploughing past.  We, along with the other pedestrians (even the running, flinging, grappling, clambering street marauders who, at the roundabout edges, had been doing a very solid impression of highly caffeinated, caged chipmunks) took pause.

In terms of our travel plans and the issue of getting to a suitable point from which to commence them:

There were trains but these, for mostly cost reasons, had not shown themselves to be quite the option Oscar had had in mind.

So he’d been looking at alternatives and discovered a coach service that took cycle enthusiast and their cycles, to alternating points in main land Europe.  One of the points they went to, was not so distant from one of the routes we’d been looking at, only two problems.

  1. The alternate week, when the coach would be visiting that area, was not the week we’d booked and prepped for holidaying commencement.
  2. Coaches were not quite the option I had in mind.  Not for a rational as transitory or as sound, as cost might be … but reasons that would likely go un-shed and permanent, for the ‘just because’.  Just because they’re coaches and I don’t care, for spending any sort of extensive period of time on coaches. The wrongest, of all the familiar forms of travel.

So there at least we had an option, something to discuss as we headed of in pursuit of any conveniently positioned stores, the ones that could be found in this neck of the woods.  These were mostly bike and cycle accessory stores.  I’d not adjusted myself (thinking whys) to a position where I was giving any real consideration to that which, perhaps, I ought to be looking to acquire.  So as Oscar looked about, I rather mooched and loitered without intent.  It was an intent-less state, which remained firmly in place until we ventured into an army supplies shop or something by a similar name.  Oscar was looking into securing an appropriate tent, the shop keeper was talking to us and I was intently listening, to the muffled sounds of his radio.  Argentina had kicked off their first game of the world cup, there was no mistaking the sound of football commentary.  Not so the specific words of that commentary, which despite a concerted effort on my part, continued to elude me almost completely.

Eventually we completed our little circular wonder and returned to the scene of the absent cycles.  They were now back, bountiful and kind of practical looking.  A practical look, that it transpired, was not quite matched by the experience offered.  That was one of five things that I discovered in the very brief time we then spent cycling them round the nearest block.

  1. The level of discomfort I’d long felt at the idea of cycling in London was matched by the level of discomfort I did now feel peddling about on these, quite quiet, back streets
  2. I was having some issues slowing down.  So other road going vehicles, pedestrians and Oscars on bikes were a real problem, specifically if they decided to slow or worse still, to stop.  [hit a listing propensity]

The Other –     A related matter, to the second point..  At least one set of brakes, on my bike, was not inclined to grappling remotely with its assigned wheel.

& The Last –    Confirmation.  These were indeed cycles and cycle not unlike the other cycles that I’d known over the years, all be it temporarily bereft of a couple of handy brake pads and a such, perfectly well suited to take their part in a cycling holiday.  Returning the bikes we thanked them and set of toward Oscar’s house, in the hope of catching the beginning of England’s World Cup campaign.

One of his housemates was stood by the front door, speaking loudly on his mobile, something about chicken, pork & a takeaway.  We continued past and into the celler, the home of the TV.  Having reached a new pitch of severity, the pork chicken conversation had clearly not yet reached its conclusion upstairs.

We were going to clear up our plans … but there was football and the lateness of hour that this suddenly brought to us …   I opted to head home. We had settled on the sorts of holidaying options that were before us and could no more resolve these then, than on any other day, so that is what we would do.  (2012 note: not resolve them)

The forth, not so much a stage, was more a juddering rolling sequence of communications, conducted predominantly over email

It went a little like this and somehow resulted in a plan.

18 June 2010 11:33

Oscar > Me

Subject: Fwd: Your Order with

I ordered some books and maps to help guide us….

———- Forwarded message———-


Date: 16 June 2010 10:36

Me > Oscar

Subject: RE: Your Order with

Its that or the random selection – we go left we go right … pick a direction at random and head that way
approach which I do like but I can see it has its weaknesses

That bike place you sent through I am told is more a shop that hires bikes out as an option before buying, like trying shoes on before you buy going to need to look at other options

20 June 2010 11:03

Me > Oscar

Subject: Screenshots

Most, to all, that we have found around zurich are around the 150-250 francs mark

Some of them require insurance and cleaning fees etc on top

There is on/around lake constants (on the austrian side) one that is 10 euros a day which is better, but then
we still have to get there. Based on this price bracket and the relative complexity of insurance etc, I still think that the attached one is the best option for bikes in Zurich

We have sent a query to another bike shop near zurich so might hear back from them Its 220 from SBB for 12
days or something like that

20 June 2010 11:04

Me > Oscar

Subject: RE: Screenshots

Also it looks like SBB bikes travel free on swiss trains should that be of any help

13 June, 2010 11:47

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Hey, Thought I’d write a reply in one email rather than have several flying around

<< Its that or the random selection – we go left we go right … pick a direction at random and head that way approach which I do like but I can see it has its weaknesses >>

There may be a fair amount of this anyway, but getting lost on bike is a fairly exhausting process. There may be
roads or walking paths too that would be unsuitable for cyclists – so in a sense we should find out the best routes for cycling as a starting point and if we wish to venture off them that’s fine. Anyway its arrived and is in the post office – so will pick it up later.

<<;>>#This link is in german – i can’t read  it!

<< >> I have submitted a form in this one – rather than giving me a price it said it’d review and get back to me in 48 hours – though I think it’ll be in the range of about £150 – which is just about ok I suppose.  <<>> This one comes to over £250 – which is too much I’d say.  << We have sent a query to another bike shop near zurich so might hear back from them Its 220 from SBB for 12 days or something like that >>Thanks for looking into this for me – let me know.

Just to check does your grandpa’s bike have a luggage rack?

Also tent – mine weights about 3.5kg – heavy – was the one we saw in the shop 2kg do you remember?


20 June 2010

Me > Oscar

not necessarily helpful but important to know there are such options


23 June, 2010 13:46:53

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Thanks for booking the bike up – I phoned them they said it was confirmed – 230 swiss francs = 140 pounds – this sounds ok.If you are doing some shopping on Friday we prob need the following:

> Small Bike Pump

> Spare inner tube

> Tyre repair patches kit (with sandpaper / glue – I have the inner tube> removal)

> Expandable clothesline

> Lightwieght compact 2 man tent (not a pop out one tho – I can never pop them back in – am thinking
about 2 kgs) Lightweight compact 1

> Season sleeping bags x 2

The bottom 2 or 3 things I can pick up from London bridge if you can’t find them. But if you could get the
tyre related stuff that’d be good. Also if you’re buying panniers maybe an idea to get large ones….I have a medium sized set.

Got the guide book – should be helpful.

Anything else we need to think about?



On 23 June 2010 15:31

Me > Oscar

I have not booked it, Osc I sent you two quotes for booking – that is all, i am happy to book it but i need to
know what you want to do Cause of travelling down –

Lightweight compact 2 man tent is quite big, may struggle to commute that all down along with other stuff.. so smaller things better for me where possible

23 June 2010 17:26

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

I think I have booked it – will send you my confirmation.

Sure – I’ll pick up the tent (and 2 sleeping bags?) if you want to try and get the top 4 items…

23 June 2010 21:47

Me > Oscar

Subject: RE: your emails


Will see how I get on with the purchases, presuming different tyre sizes. ideas on the size needed?

In the end the decision went like this:

Where all else fails go for medium, I ordered my pants and cycling gloves.  I didn’t know where my physique stood on the cycle short size guide.  I knew my shoe size varies, especially in the sporting arenas of skiing and football.  So the pants, medium, unlikely to be significantly oversized and improbable that they should be too small, in the absence of understanding, there is medium.

29 June 2010 17:49 > Me

Subject: Your order has been placed on Wiggle

Hi Mr. Neil,

Thank you for placing your order with us;Order number: 62xxxxxx09.

This email contains details of your order confirming the contents, dispatch method, delivery address and instructions of what to do if you wish to modify your order.

The following items will be dispatched as soon as possible:2 x Altura Airstream Lycra Cycling Shorts Medium Black1 x Altura Gravity Mitt Short Finger Cycling Gloves Medium Black/Red

Your order will be delivered to:



Regardless of having found a fresh new email correspondent in wiggle, i stayed loyal and continued my
correspondence with Oscar.

5 July 2010 18:19

Me > Oscar

I have 1 sleeping bag1 puncture repair kit

Need to get 1 little inflating pump thing

Do we need to get side bags for the bikes? Um what else.. ok so we’re not going to get started that early on
Saturday once we’ve got there..picked stuff up.. Thought about food, resolved the thinking about food with positive conclusive action. set off. at some time that won’t be early – need to see if I can find the flight times that
might help

And around this time in early July I set up a facebook event to post some potential routes on.!/event.php?eid=117177631656677

05 July 2010 19:18

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Yes you need bags (panneas), I have 1 set of 2 you will need the same > (mine are medium size – ample –
but if you want to get a large that might be helpful) and yes we need a small pump too.

You will also need a sleeping mat to put your sleeping bag on to (I might be able to get my spare one from my
parents house if you need me to) or you’ll be uncomfortable.

Yes we need to think about where we are going after Saturday – hence the links i sent u to look at have cycle
routes and tours. I’ll look at the guide too so we can have a few options to discuss.


05 July 2010 19:56,

Me > Oscar

The thing with the last point – what I was after understanding is how far did you want to go on Saturday or
rather at what time of day would you like to stop – I was thinking no later than 7ish as it will have been a long day, what do you think?

05 July 2010 21:53

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Yep – I think its probably best we take it easy on the Saturday – we’ll be tired from the early flight and will
need to do sort out our bikes and stuff and get some rest rather than legging it elsewhere in a hurry.

In short there it was, a firmed up intention with a definitive start and not just dates.  We would fly to Zurich, Oscar would hire a bike, I would borrow my Swiss Grandfather bike and we’d both head of in the direction of the black forest, taking in Lake Constance on route and then off to Munich.  It was almost a plan and this collection of correspondence has taken us up to the 5th of July.  Coincidentally, probably, this was same day that I was struck by my failure to take any action on the acquiring of bike bags front.  I’d taken the opportunity to revisit my ‘10 point plan of thing I’m to be sure and bring on holiday’ and it quickly became clear that after some well prepared early purchases of the cycle short & gloves items, I had brought down an untimely cessation on these efforts.

These bags, they had a specific bag name, for bags that go with bikes.  The name was a sound-alike for an Indian Cheese and according to the websites, they came in an array of sizes.  I had no idea what I should be looking for and less time still to decide.  For by now it was only a matter of days until I was due for departure.  Fortunately my housemate, a very outdoor activities orientated type, was considerably more informed on such matters.

I went large and then having placed this order, only to have the delivery date estimated as the all to distant and uncertain “9 July 2010 – 13 July 2010”, I went large again, with a second order.  Fortune shone on me rather and within only a couple of days my second order had turned up and my first order had been confirmed as cancelled, a relief and a small defeat for the forces of sound planning.


I’d been to Oscar’s previously, largely in advance of other holidays along with their early flights but had no real appreciation of how one came to arrive at his door, so I asked.


Me > Oscar

Before I forget.. cause
I may just.. how do I best get from Euston to yours on Friday night?

In my head the response went something like this – Yeah, go to London, Get to London Bridge Station, then get on a train to (some station name goes here)…Come out of the station, go left, left again at the lights and on a bit.

To be accurate however the official reply went as follows:

06 July 2010,09:34

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Get the mainline train from london
bridge to queens road peckham. Take a leftout of the station and another left at the lights onto pomeroy street. My house – 13 new cros road – is visible right at the end of pomeroy street.

Thanks for checking out the route – will have a look later – have an idea or two myself now – can discuss.


With the conversation then tapering of from this central point, continued:

6 July, 2010

Me > Oscar

Subject: Re: your emails



if you can get a -would be handy thanks

6 July, 2010 15:44:05

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Cool – will ask my mum to dig it out for me


7 July 2010 11:01,

Me > Oscar

that clothes line is in stock now – at Argos – i can go get it if you haven’t picked it up already.. let me know

7 July, 2010 11:33:59

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Think these bungee hooks might do the job of hanging up clothes…..well ihope they will


7 July 2010 11:38,

Me > Oscar

how much clothing and that are you thinking of taking? no idea


7 July, 2010 12:33:57

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Check the packing list i sent a few weeks ago – minimal -should fit into 1 pannier or maybe less


7 July 2010 12:42,

Me > Oscar:

did you.. ok

what about my assorted collection of stuffed mongooses i
don’t go anywhere without them?

07/07/2010 13:28

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

You can put them in the space for food. Where their use as pets comes to an end we can use them as emergency food on the alps

So there was a packing list, how about that, I decided to rummage about a bit, see what I could find.

28 May 2010 13:32

Oscar > Me

Subject: Packing list…..

Obviously space and particularly weight are an issue so we should keep it as super light as possible and share what we can………

CLOTHES and toiletries bag


Light rain coat

2-3 cycling or general synthetic sports t-shirt – 1 of which is long sleeve

1-2 padded cycling shorts, 1 spare shorts

1 fleece / thicker sweatshirt, 1 casual wear thinner jumper

1 pair long socks, 4-5 pairs normal socks, 4-5 underwear

Swimming trunks

1 Pajamas/ Casual top and trackies

Normal trousers / belt

Cycling shoes, helmet, gloves

Spare trainers / flip flops?

Sunhat / sunglasses

Personal: Soap, toothbrush, razor, towel, flannel

To share: Shampoo / conditioner, shaving foam, mouthwash, moisturiser, deodorant, toilet paper, anti-bachandwash, Insect repellent?

anything else?

Peripherals bag

Spare Carrier bags


Spare inner tube

Multi-tool / tyre removal wedges

Tyre repair patches

Expandable clothesline

Map / Guidebook



Swiss army knife

Lights / batteries / torch

Passport / tickets

Language dictionary

Water bottle / food

Reading book

First aid / medication

Wallet / keys / phone / alarm clock /watch

Distance / speed measure

Camping gear ??

Tent or bivi/tarp

Sleeping bag / mat

Firelighting / gas / pot / spoon / mug

And of course the bike with lugguage rack as well….

Let me know if I’ve forgotten anything….


It shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. I’d clearly seen this particular piece of correspondence before, for along with this helpful and accurately titled email, I found my reply, a telling contribution to our planning process.

28 May 2010 13:34

Me > Oscar

Subject: RE: Packing list…..

Do we share the rain coat – onlookers might find that novel

So I wrote back to Oscar, to confirm my finding of the long lost & clearly forgotten packing list:

07 July 2010 22:07

Me > Oscar

Subject: RE: Packing list…..

Found it

Sun cream.. in case it stays warm – I have no sun glasses.. far too cool for the likes of those

Cycle Switzerland – 2010 – Getting Going

CYCLE SWITZERLAND – Background [2010]

Back in July one of my fiends (Oscar Saks) and I went on a cycle based holiday, or rather a holiday in which cycling was planned to play a predominant part.

So, to start at the beginning.  Oscar and I met just over four years ago, when my colleague and I interviewed a rather quiet, unassuming fellow.  It was an unusual situation, as we both (the interviewers)  were ourselves but mere interns.  There we were, quizzing quite a number of really rather over qualified individuals for the privilege of being our replacements.

We were working at Westminster and that quiet, unassuming fellow, who was also our unanimous choice, was Oscar.  Now that’s a twist, surely no one would see coming, sitting as this paragraph does under the banner ‘Oscar and I – How we met’.

While Oscar joined the office I failed to leave it.  Having been offered a position and with it an option to remain, in the intervening period.  An option I’d taken.

In truth though had they, the prospective new faces (of which Oscar was one), known how things were going to transpire, then they would surely have turned on their heels and marched their way to pastures different.  While had I (the remaining slightly disillusioned not quite old guard), similarly had such future sight (and been in my right mind) then I, well I should have clasped their hands tight, skipped with them, down that yellow brick road, on and out.

In short, it did not go well and yet.  Despite all that came to pass, three years later I counted Oscar among my very good friends.  We’d got to know each other quite well: we’d visited one of our old colleagues back in his home of Sweden, I’d ‘managed’ the five aside football team he’d started and a year ago, along with other friends, we’d all been on what was basically a top ski holiday.  ‘Soll’ – Austria.

So in summary

2006: Recruited Oscar, worked with Oscar, experienced quite poor office times with Oscar, went to the pub with Oscar, watched some football and went to some gigs with Oscar, went to some more pubs, went to Sweden, played football, went to pubs and went skiing in Austria – then 2010 turned up.  All of which, to provide unnecessary clarity, included various assorted others of varying note.


As for Westminster

Then earlier this year (2010) a sort of closing chapter to where it all began.

It came in the form of the ‘expenses scandal’ which had come around at an inconveniently good time for the coming general election. 

There, with the sort of prominence she’d always dearly craved, sat our favourite old MP, smack in the dirt splattered middle of it.

We’d long had cause to doubt her integrity and purity of motive but this somehow still came as a surprise, least it did to me.  Probably shouldn’t have done, having had much of my enthusiasm and belief in politics eroded by what I’d seen during my time in that office.  It did though and for all the damage this scandal wrought on the party, the party that we supported and had worked for, none the less it had the definitive sense of justice being rightly served.

CYCLE SWITZERLAND – Planning [2010]

Telegraph Article

Source: Journal Of Trips


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