Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Brush with the Law

Some people. No sense of humour. He’d stepped out in front of me, holding up his Police ’STOP’ paddle. I’d complied of course, no choice really, wasn’t going anywhere quickly. Fifty kilometres of steady climbing up from Harmanli to Topolovgrad, the occasional short downhill respite, had seen to that. Was I speeding, I asked. Not even a glimmer of a smile. He wanted to know where I was going. Towards Elhovo I explained. I was free to go.

My instinct to remain unexpectedly in Harmanli overnight had been right. I’d never have made it to Topolovgrad by nightfall, never mind my eventual destination, a small village near Elhovo, up in the Bulgarian hills close to the Turkish border. I left Harmanli under the same thick blanket of fog I’d been greeted with as I’d approached the previous day. Then, suddenly, after about ten kilometres of steady climb, brilliant sunshine.

I’d been attempting to reach the small village of Cerepovo, in readiness for being interviewed live on the 10 Radio Saturday morning breakfast show. Hadn’t quite made it. Had to pull up short at the side of the road as my phone rang. Strange I thought. I’d visited the small studio back in Somerset before I left for an interview, my first experience of radio. Could picture it with great clarity, as I could Anton the presenter and Jon, my good friend and neighbour. He’d be interviewing me today. In contrast to their more compact surroundings, I was gazing out across vineyards, sat astride my bike, in the unusually warm winter sun.

The interview complete, I’d continued my push up to Topolovgrad, which my fairly useless map had suggested, quite correctly for once, might be the highest point of the day. My encounter with the Police over, it’d been a swift descent towards Elhovo. Popular with English expatriates I’d been told. But I was off to a small village nearby. Friends had a house there which, very generously, they’d offered me the use of. Chance to relax, to reflect on the journey across Europe, and prepare for entry into Asia.

I’d clear directions and a good road, reaching the village as the light began to fade. Quiet I thought. Two women wandered up, pushing prams. They offered to help. I thanked them, but explained an English lady living close by would be meeting me shortly. She arrived a little time later, Emma and I giving chase to her 4 x 4 as she led the way to the house. Last burst of energy for a while.

[You can listen live to 10 Radio via the web at 10Radio.org – look out on my website for details of the next interview]

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