Across Continents

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Stanislov

November 18th, 2011

He’d arrived after dark. Stanislov was Russian. Walking the length of the US Pacific coast. Twenty, sometimes thirty, miles per day. Joining me by the small camp fire I’d eventually got lit, mostly with Coleman fuel.

In the gloom amidst the trees he’d shown me his kit. Couple of walking poles, a bivvy bag, sleeping bag, roll mat, waterproofs and wash kit. All packed into a small Bergen. Together with a little food.

Did he always camp I’d asked. No, he admitted. Sometimes got to stay with fellow Russians. There was, he said, an entire network of them across the globe. I smiled. Said I’d heard of it. SVR? He didn’t reply.

[Author’s note: The SVR is what the KGB re-invented itself as post-Cold War. Sounds a bit softer. Ironic really as, by all accounts, greater freedoms means it’s more active today than ever before]

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Secret squirrels

June 22nd, 2011

Magcomp

Campsite laundries. Warm and dry. Often home to a small library. Romantic novels. Celebrity tittle-tattle. Even the odd men’s periodical. Railway Modeller. That sort of thing. Women’s magazines. More learned publications. The Monthly. Advertisement for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. Reminds me of the sort of thing you’d find in the back pages of the Economist. For the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service. Copy cats. Suppose that’s espionage for you.

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A little bit of history

April 6th, 2011

“How did you ride up from Atherton?” she asked. I paused. Contemplating my response. “Slowly” I said. Deliberately. After the gentle, almost imperceptible inclines of the previous day, a tough, sustained climb up to over three thousand feet. Flowing descent. Then a sharp final pull into the village of Herberton.

Herblib - web

Ascribed the “historical” moniker in the tourist literature, Herberton does have genuine charm. Wooden clad shops, corrugated iron roofs, tasteful pastel shades. Post Office, small library, pharmacy, family butchers. Quaint. But part of the fabric of everyday life. Regular stream of locals popping in. Obligatory 4×4’s looking a bit out of place.

HerbPO - web

The town purports to have a museum devoted to spies and secret cameras. Couldn’t find it. Presumably a discrete affair. Admittance granted only to those who quietly utter “The geese have already flown south from Karingrad“. Fronted by a very respectable looking woman. Distinguished only by her ordinariness.

Only clues to her double existence a few dusty tomes on Russian politics, hidden amongst her extensive collection of horticultural books. Or perhaps a small glass paperweight. Paltry reward for decades of service. Her frequent trips abroad lost amongst the cake baking and charitable good causes. Or so I imagine.

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