MY SECOND KANGAROO SUPPORTERS TOUR

TRAVEL

Recently a mate asked how many times I had been to Britain and or Europe, and when I answered ’20’, he said I should write a book.
I’m not in the mood for that, and for those who follow this website, you will be aware that I regularly post stories from those travels.
But with time on my hands, with this ‘Chinese flu’ keeping my wife and I largely housebound, I thought I would file a 20 part series on those trips, under sub-headings.
TRIP SEVEN
October to December, 1994.
PURPOSE OF TRIP
To lead my second Kangaroo Rugby League Supporters’ Tour (44 people) from Rome, north as far as Fort William in Scotland, and then south to London, and then to holiday in England and Ireland, with my wife, Marie, and my parents, Jon and Lola Ricketts, who were part of the tour.
COUNTRIES VISITED
Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland.
SCENIC HIGHLIGHT
EUROPE
Salzburg Lakes District, Austria.
BRITAIN
The West Coast of Scotland near Morar and Mallaig. Our tour group was meant to catch the ferry from Mallaig to the Isle of Skye, but it had stopped running the day before.
IRELAND
Connemara, in particular the area near Kylemore Abbey.
HISTORIC HIGHLIGHT
EUROPE
The Coliseum, Rome. And this was before ‘Gladiator’.
BRITAIN
Bolton (Augustinian) Priory, Wharfedale, Yorkshire.
IRELAND
Medieval Birr Castle and Gardens in County Offaly, home (in the first place) to the O’Carrolls. 
FIRST MEAL THAT I CAN RECALL
EUROPE
Pork chops at Ristorante de Carlino, Tuscany, near the Ricasoli Wine complex.
BRITAIN
Roast beef, Eight Bells pub, at a village in Bedfordshire (the name of which escapes me). It was a traditional Sunday, roast lunch.
IRELAND
Freshly caught trout in our rented accommodation, Galway.
MOST MEMORABLE MEAL
EUROPE
Pork knuckles, Augustiner-Brau, Salzburg, Austria
BRITAIN
Fish and chips, Whitby.
IRELAND
Native osyters in Galway.
FIRST PUB/BAR STOP
EUROPE
Taverna del Cardinale, opposite Tivoli Gardens, outside Rome.
BRITAIN
Eagle Hotel, London Road, Dover, with local, Paul Dobson. A large, two bar, corner pub, surmounted by a golden eagle.
IRELAND
‘An Pucan’, Forster Street, Galway. A home of traditional Irish music.
BEST PUB/BAR STOP
EUROPE
Night club in Trastevere area of Rome, the name of which escapes me. I know I left a bottle of red wine there, given to me by the proprietor of a restaurant, where I had taken members of my tour group.
BRITAIN
George and Dragon, Great Budworth, Cheshire, on our way to Warrington v Hull rugby league match at Wilderspool. The pub, in a beautiful village, dates back to 1722. We enjoyed beers from the J W Lees brewery.
IRELAND
The Quays Bar, Galway.
ONE SPORTING EVENT (None in Europe)
BRITAIN
First Rugby League Test Wembley Stadium, London. Great Britain won 8-4, even though they had captain, Shaun Edwards sent off by Australian referee, Graham Annesley in the first half, for a high shot on Bradley Clyde. Welsh wizard, Johnathan Davies scored Britain’s only try, while Steve Renouf crossed for the Kangaroos.
IRELAND
Connaught v Exiles rugby union clash at the Greyhound Ground, Galway. Ireland Test selector, and former goal kicking whiz, Ollie Campbell, on arrival at the ground, looked up at the blue skies, and said out loud: ‘Can this be Galway?’ – a reference to the fact it is usually raining.
EVENT OTHER THAN SPORT
EUROPE
Traditional Swiss dinner and entertainment, Lucerne.
BRITAIN
Guided pub tour of River Thames, Lambeth precinct, London.
IRELAND
Music night, Hollywood Bar, Galway.
DIFFERENT PLACE
EUROPE
Barr, the wine capital of La Route des Vins ‘d’Alsace, France.
BRITAIN
Caverns at Castleton in the High Peak District of Derbyshire.
IRELAND
The bleak and grey area known as ‘The Burren’, a huge plateau of limestone and shale in County Clare. Oliver Cromwell’s surveyor, Edmund Ludlow, described it as “a savage land, yielding neither water enough to drown a man, nor a tree to hang him, nor soil enough to bury.”
MOST UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE
EUROPE
Driving down the middle of tram tracks in Rome, with no way to get off, if a tram came towards us. Our Welsh coach driver, Johnny decided it was a good idea at the time, given it sidestepped peak hour traffic. We got away with it, that’s the main thing.
BRITAIN
Canal boat trip through Blisworth Tunnel (3km approx) on the Grand Union Canal, Northamptonshire. Originally, boats were ‘legged’ through by the boatmen, together with a specially hired ‘legger’, using his own legging board. This lasted until 1871 when a steam tug was introduced. It continued in service until 1936, when all boats were able to power their way through, just as we were able to do on this particular day.
IRELAND
Staying in a converted corn mill in Galway, overlooking the River Corrib, and occasionally spotting a seal below our window.
1 Salzburg Lake District, Austria
2 The Coliseum, Rome
3 Steve Ricketts at Bolton Priory
4 George and Dragon pub, Great Budworth with Allan Hayes and Rod Jennings in the doorway. Col Egan (left) is taking their photo
5 Pre-match entertainment, Great Britain v Australia rugby league Test, Wembley, 1994. Cliff Richard is the singer.
6 London pub tour.

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