Across Continents

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Over the footbridge

He’d ridden horses at the 1994 Edinburgh Military Tattoo. That much I could establish. But not his name. One in the morning. His young son asleep in the next room whilst we drank tea with a little jam stirred in. Emma, my trusty steed, locked in his garage, two large, aggressive dogs chained up in the yard outside to guard her. A large stack of mattresses for me to sleep on.


An hour or so earlier I’d got off the train in the village of Sayozek. Cool night air. A few harsh electric floodlights cast bright pools of light intermittently along the platform. Elsewhere seemed quite dark, difficult to discern what lay beyond. I’d planned to spend the night in the station waiting room, moving off at first light at around five am. But the local policeman had come to meet the train and was having none of this.

A few people came over, watching me fit all the bags back on to Emma. Talk of a hotel, not sure where, and a masheyna – a car – to take me there. I politely declined, sensing a few hours sleep might quickly prove to be quite expensive. Thought I might wander off into the night, wait a while for the policeman to go, and then double back to the waiting room.

The train had by now left, the local merchants, mostly women, who’d been busy earlier offering drinks and snacks stacked up in old prams, preparing to head off into the darkness. They gathered around. Much discussion, mostly led by a matronly older lady. It was decided I should go off with the only man present, spending what remained of the night in his house. Over the footbridge.


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