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Sent 19 March 2002 from Dublin

Happy Saint Paddy's Day everybody, from sunny ol' Ireland!!

Currently in Dublin, recovering from yesterday (Dave's birthday), the day before that (St Paddy's day) and the previous 4 days (other drinking days).St Paddy's was great. The parade was a giant success – hats off to Ronnie (our mate who organised the whole thing) and her crew for a job well done. If you want to see some photos, check out Dave's website in a few days – – for pix. The drinking at the pub for the rest of the day and night was a giant success as well (organised by me). Hats and pants off to me.

I also have green hair. Tasha has red hair. Three weeks ago I had no hair.

What else is news?

Before enlightening you all, I thought I should probably mention that the last couple of e-mails that I wrote I was able to write on the computer at the pub (saved as a Word doc and then transported to an internet café via a plastic computer memory retaining device). Unfortunately that meant that they tended to be of extraordinary magnitude and, thanks to being written at 2 o’clock in the morning after a ten-hour shift, incomprehensible. A thousand apologies. You have our gratitude.

Anyway, I’m doing the same with this one.

Soooooo. We've left the sunny Lakes District to come to another sunny place.

Goodbye fair Hawkshead! Goodbye endless supply of free (and healthy) pub meals! Goodbye deep fryer and pizza oven! Goodbye semi-permanent Bed that doesn’t change each night! Goodbye Mad Pony!

I know that the first thing you’ll all want to hear about is Mad Pony, so I’d better get on with it. Well, he’s been up to his old tricks, although it looked like things had gone awry soon after my last e-mail.

A bunch of our mates came up to visit us (real mates – not the imaginary ones I normally invent for my stories), which was lovely. We took them for a walk from the village to introduce them to Mad Pony. However, when we reached his paddock, he seemed disconcertingly sane. After some coaxing, he did charge at us, but there was none of his usual antics. We thought that maybe he had been beaten into sanity by the last people that we knew had seen him (see the last e-mail for shocking details). It was disappointing, as it always is when you've told people an animal is criminally insane and you find the said animal just eating grass in a paddock.

A few days later, I was working in the bar and a couple came in who spoke about being attacked by, you guessed it, a Mad Pony. I was so relieved. Apparently, they'd been walking across the paddock we know so well when a strange borse-looking creature suddenly appeared over the rise. The guy was carrying an umbrella and had a moment of inspiration, thinking that the borse may be attracted to his umbrella like a red rag to a bull. Thinking quick, he closed the umbrella and, sure enough, Mad Pony swerved, his brave decision ensuring that Mad Pony aimed at his wife instead of him. At the last minute, of course, Mad Pony skidded to a halt and then, I believe, spoke in Russian for two minutes before digging a tunnel to safety. He was cured!

Before we left, we went to say goodbye to Mad Pony. But when we arrived at the paddock, he was nowhere to be seen. Others have also tried to find him with no success, and all reports of heart attacks and pony-related violence had dried up. Mad Pony was gone.

We think he may have donned a fake moustache and glasses, appropriated a hat and coat and then, suitably disguised, walked out on his hind legs, pretending to be a tourist. Good luck, Mad Pony. May the force (or Borse, I guess) be with you. Always.

So goodbye Mad Pony and goodbye also to our new (mad) friends at the Red Lion. There were 11 people working there before we left – 2 lesbian South Africans who liked making gay jokes, 1 Scottish Highlander with an English accent, 6 Australians with Australian accents...and the boss and his wife who were actually from Hawkshead. A lot of people asked why there were so many Australians in the village (there were a few others at the other pubs as well). I told them that Australia had a reverse convict policy and were sending their criminals to the Lakes District. They thought that was very funny. I stole their wallets.

So goodbye Nathan, Sarah, Jane, Paul, Tom, Ursula, Charlie, Roy and Gill. And just the whole damned Hawkshead crew.

Other Hawkshead news...

Went for some great rides, none nearly as disastrous as the last one I wrote about. Three in particular stood out.

The first one with Nathan can be described in one word: “Snowstorm”.

The second was basically a 20 mile pub-crawl bike ride. Saw some awesome sights and nearly fell off the bike a lot towards the end.On the third one I rode to the top of Wrynose Pass, on a road that it is recommended some cars shouldn't go on because it is too steep. When I got back and told Nathan where I had gone, he said quite simply: "Wrynose Pass? Psycopath!" So I stole his wallet.

Speaking of coincidences, for those of you in Melbourne who are in the know, I forgot to mention that I had a very strange experience at Toulouse airport in France on our way back from the snowboarding in Andorra in December. We were waiting to board our plane back to London when I said to Natasha: "I'm just going to say hi to Bern..." Sure enough Bernie Corr, an old friend from Australia that I hadn't seen for years, was also waiting to catch the same plane. Funny, huh?

And now we're in Dublin. Despite working in a pub, I actually haven't been drinking much for the past three months as I was working every night till close (which ensured I actually saved some money, though). I was concerned my alcohol tolerance was down, but after the first night with Dave and his mates, I'm pretty sure I'm back to my former peak physical condition.

Hiring a car on Thursday to cruise around Ireland for a bit and Dave-o's coming with us, which is good for me and bad for Natasha and my liver. Then we fly to Greece via London and then make our way to Turkey to do the Anzac Day trip. Much fun in store for us, yessireebobtailrooster. To everyone who's asked when we're coming back, and can confidently answer: "I have no idea(s)."Turkey is a funny name for a country. "Quit JIVIN' me Turkey! You got to sass it! Quit JIVIN' me Tur-KEY!!"

Thanks to all those who e-mailed the tremendous news of the Saints fantastic win over Melbourne. Subsequent news hasn’t been so good, but Saints supporters can survive on one win a year.

Daniel W – Your news re: Kurosawa’s movie “The Hidden Fortress” and it’s relationship to Star Wars was so exciting I made a hole in my pants. Definitely on the “must-see” list...

Marg and Susannah – did you know that you two sent me almost identical e-mails? Marg – no longer can you say “You don’t know, Sue”. And was Barwon Heads as good as Eppalough (Eppaloch? ’Ep-a-lock?)? Anyhoo, Marg – good luck in Italy and Sue – good luck with the new job role (or something – almost identical!)

PS Susannah – we’ll be in Greece when you’re in Italy – so close!

Marko - the guinness is great (which is good, but AMAZING - now that'd be great!)

Everyone else - thanks for the mail. Keep it coming.

Love ya's all.

rilestar and tasha

PS I've attached some photos if you're interested. The hair one was taken in Madrid before I got a haircut. It's real.

PPS Wayne Carey.

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