The climb from the Tagus River at Toledo is steep, so the church, in the square at the top is a logical spot for a breather.
On this occasion, in early October, 1998, my rugby league supporters’ group entered, almost as one, into the church, which was about to conduct a wedding ceremony.
It was a great place to escape the heat, and for our female members, in particular, the prospect of seeing the bride walk down the aisle to meet her betrothed, was worth every step of the climb.
The groom was there, at the altar, looking anxiously towards the rear of the church.
Meanwhile, I was still at the bottom of the hill, chatting to Ida Conroy, who decided the climb was too much for her, and she told me she was content to relax in a park beside the peaceful waters.
In the end, I left her to her own devices, even though I had done my best to tell her she was missing out on a treat, by not exploring the World Heritage listed city.
When I got to the church, I went in, not knowing our group was there.
I sat down beside a group of the ladies, and one of them turned to me and said, “Is she coming?”
I replied: ‘No. She’s stuffed, she’s staying at the bottom of the hill’.
I couldn”t understand the horrified looks on the faces of my female travelling companions.
I thought they meant Ida! They, of course, meant the bride, who had yet to appear, much to the consternation of all concerned in the church, not least the groom.
Eventually she (the bride) appeared, but Ida was still at the bottom of the hill, oblivious to the drama going on up on high.
There were 31 people on my ’98 supporters’ tour, which flew into Madrid. Among the group was Barry Desmond from Pittsworth on the Darling Downs in Queensland. Barry owned a candy, Easter egg factory.
We had an overnight stay in Narita, Japan on the way, and my wife, Marie and I went to a corner bar, where we enjoyed sweet potato snacks, while watching a televised baseball match, and talking to a local sports nut, who gave me a sports magazine, featuring his favorite soccer player, Hidetoshi Nakata, who had signed with Italian club, Perugia.
At the airport the next day, we saw lots of people walking around with plastic cups of beer, but couldn’t find the point of sale. I deduced that they had bought the beers from a vending machine, so, Jim Gibson and I inserted our money and took out what we thought was beer. It was iced tea. Good work, Steve. Such a worldly individual.
Also at the airport there were a group of Kiwi lads, on their way to Bradford in England, to play rugby union. Bradford, of course, is primarily a league city.
Great views from our JAL flight, which was only two thirds full. The cabin crew allowed us to get our own drinks from the galley, as we flew over Siberia in the daylight.
When we arrived at Madrid Airport, several of our tour group, who had been on a Mediterranean cruise, met us with ‘Go Home Aussies’ placards.
Our coach driver, Alan Rosling, was an Englishman, (from Bournemouth), who had an Army background. Discipline would not be a problem. More on this trip at a later date.
Photo 1: Marie Ricketts at Toledo
Photo 2: Tour leader, Steve Ricketts some of the ladies on our tour. That’s Ida Conroy in the blue coat.

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