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Correspondent&#39s View

Coming back to so-called normal life and looking for work is quite an odd experience after nearly five months of tripping around the globe. After months where the date and day have absolutely no relevance to anything, pinning down the events of a week feels like an almost impossible task but I will give it a try.

Our latest jaunt has been nearly three months in Eastern Europe and a bit of Western Europe to remind us of how cheap the Eastern side is.

While you were all dining in exquisite London restaurants and enjoying black tie dinners, we were living in a converted Renault Traffic called Bonnie Doon, eating packet pastas on alternate days to save money and loving every minute of it.

But the last week of bliss before returning to real life was spent in a, well, bit of a drunken haze really. It was our first Munich Oktoberfest experience and what an experience it is, as you might well know.

You would think that on a Monday, even during beerfest, the frivolities might be tamed down a tad but not so. After spending the entire weekend standing on tables, swaying dangerously and pretending to be able to sing along with Bavarian oompah bands, we decided that it would be only right and cultured to visit the inner city. However, the wheels fell off when we discovered the Hofbräuhaus.

Now there is no such thing as just having one stein. Even the most teetotal of us would struggle to manage one stein and one stein only. The size of the thing alone means that by the time you finish the first one, you are feeling so enamoured with the world you must have another. It is a vicious cycle broken only by pork knuckles and pretzels.

The experience was made crazier by the fact that we were joined by all the other antip-odeans we had met while wandering this part of the globe and we were a motley crew after three months on the road.

The first night, as fragments of the group fell on to the tube to go home from the festivities, they spotted one of their own, affectionately known as Fred-the red-headed Maori, who had been lost among the crowd earlier. However, he was waiting on a tube heading the wrong way. “Thank God you found me,” he said, struggling to stand. “I&#39ve already been right out the other side of town.”

The antics only got worse, with Pete the bear, (on account of some generous chest hair), also lost and the worse for wear, calling his girlfriend in Ireland and requesting she come and pick him up. “But you&#39re in Germany,”she said. “I know,” he cried pitifully between hiccups.

Then there was the forlorn Australian who spent many an hour clutching his pillow and doing laps of the local camping ground looking for tent number 36. Apparently, a girl with a devilish sense of humour had promised him a night he had never forget if he found the tent. As far as I know, he is still looking.

But good times cannot last forever and it was time to start going our own ways. Two of the group were cycling around Europe and we waved them and their little trailers goodbye, only to hear later that not far out of town and clearly still feeling the effects of the previous four days, one had toppled off their bike into a heap on the side of the road.

The rest of us, avoiding the tollways of France, (due to a small budget blow-out put down to stein consumption) and battling our hangovers, drove through Luxemburg to Belgium, consoling ourselves with chocolate in Brugge and remembering fallen countrymen in the war graves of Ypres.

Our last night in Europe, Thursday night, was marked by having to pick up, pack up and leave a rest area near after spotting a peeping Tom in the bushes. No European van tour would be complete without a tyre blowout on the M25 on the final leg home on Friday, sending us careering across the motorway. But all&#39s well that ends well. I tell you what, though, I am exhausted and could sure use a holiday.

Sonia Speedy is a freelance journalist and former Money Marketing reporter •”Any chance I can borrow your leather strides as a reward?” – Sesame PR Richard Wheat after an MM journalist complimented him on replying so quickly.

•The FSA put four public notes on its website saying that conditions have been placed on the merger of Inter-Alliance and Millfield. “What are they?” asked MM to an FSA press officer. “Sorry, we can&#39t tell you,” the press officer replied, adding that details of the merger are not something that IFAs need to know. “Isn&#39t one of the FSA&#39s four objectives public aware-ness?” the Diary asks. The FSA replies: “It is not nec-essary to make everything public. We can decide what details we release.”

Don Clark must take the prize for bravest trip across London this week thanks to his appearance at the Credit Suisse halloween party last week.

The Black Country broker left his hotel – a full 20 minutes away from the Banqueting House venue – in nothing but a very long bandage, a few safety pins and a pair of boxer shorts. Don&#39s mummy outfit seemed a high-risk strategy but just about stayed on all night thanks to careful wrapping.

Asked where his wallet was, Don said: “I&#39ve got a tenner up my sleeve and a twenty down my sock.” We didn&#39t ask where he put his small change.


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