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Glossop to

...and back

Since limping into Mae Hong Son, I've limped no further. Having been holed up for this long though, I've become a part of the village scene.

Yes. There is nothing in Mae Hong Son that's got by me recently. The motorbike collision last week at the main cross-roads. The great tangerine scam of the week before - now
that was really messy. Mrs Hodges has three, yes, three books overdue from the library (but the word on the street is, she's fretting about her pet ostrich that went missing on New Year's Eve). You just don't want to know about what's happening down at no 43. And for those interested in alternative cuisine, Mr Cleaver, the butcher, has some unusual steaks in his fridge.

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The place where I'm staying is absolutely perfect terrible. It's the worst place on earth. Palm trees, mountain backdrop, ducks on the pond, wandering chickens. In other words, all the basic scenery for a horror movie. Fortunately though, the campsite owners are treating me like their own kin; something for which I'm extremely grateful. However, they have three poodles...

Now, I'm fine about dogs. But, while lying on my back under the truck, with my arms buried beyond their elbows in the gearbox ("bucket of hot water and some soap for Mr Herriot, please Daisy"), and one of the three canines cocking its leg on the inside of my rear wheel, I started to wonder exactly what it was about poodles specifically that I disliked.

I halt at this point, and request that all poodle lovers take a short detour by clicking here.

A Mae Hong Son library pass. A genuine, laminated, periodical-providing Mae Hong Son library pass.

There's not a single scripted word in English in the joint, but I was getting bored, and in need of a challenge.

No, lying there, I started wondering exactly what it was about poodles that made me want to invest in a rifle. Is it that they have the brain power of a drunken slug? The way they yap incessantly at anything unusual? Things like the fridge tripping in, or the flushing of a toilet. One starts yapping, and the others start yapping, even though they don't know what they're yapping at. Maybe it's the scraggy tuffs of fur which grows around their feet and out of the top of their heads (this isn't jealousy based on a thinning personal thatch). Or maybe it's their owners for whom I should reserve the bullets - after all, it's they who put the little coats on them, and tie bows in their hair.

Either way, if anybody out there has a rifle and spare ammunition, then please contact me.

Workshop with a view. It's just awful out here.

Must get in training for Australia: "Chuck another poodle on the barbie".

Next, I've got to see if I can talk myself into a job delivering newspapers for the local newsagent.

Believe me. I'm getting bored here.

Weeks 23 to 25 (continued)