This page is dedicated to Tracy and Dave Taylor, and Roy Chambers, for all their kindness during my stay. Thank you very much!



IT WAS WORTH A LIFE
Selfbiography by
Bernhard Kauntz


Dalton, Barrow, Cumbria


We had met in Torremolinos, in Spain, a couple of times, playing darts during a week in spring. There I was invited to a tournament in England, which is held in July every year. So I decided to go. I had heard - probably in school, half a century ago - about Cumbria, far in the North. But about Dalton and Barrow I had not the faintest idea. I was told, that the nearest airport was Manchester and that I would be picked up there. But as there run trains, I was very much opposed to the idea, that somebody would drive two hours in order to get me and afterwards go back two hours. And fate decided ... There was an accident on the road to Manchester and the road was closed.
For me it was an adventure to go that far North. I had not very many expectations, as I compared it to the North of Sweden. A heavy shock came at the airport in Manchester. There were a couple of hundred people queuing, in order to get into the country. And those were only EU-citizens. All others had another queue, which probably would take twice the time.
But well within England, things turned brighter. The connections were great, there was a train about every hour.
Even though I had missed my train by standing in line - scanning my passport and having a picture taken, all automatically - it didn't matter much. And I needed only one change. Besides the views became better and better, the closer I got. Especially alongside the sea, the marshes made a big impression. It was low tide, so it was far to the water. Still, the puddles reached all the way to the rails and I could imagine, how all of this would be covered by water at high tide.
There were many sheep grazing on the marshes. As the grass takes up the salty seawater, it even turns the meat of the sheep a little special. I had encountered this in France as well, it is seen as a delicacy.
I arrived on Thursday evening and was met by Tracy and Dave. It was really good to see them again. As we walked to my accomodation in the "Red Lion", I noticed that there are no flat five meters in that town. It is rather hilly, to say the least. Some roads are pretty steep. And even if I don't like to admit it, I start feeling my age. But their consideration, with a couple of stops to recover and Dave's jokes were helpful on the way. The "Red Lion" proved to have simple, but sufficient rooms, with shower and a nice bed. That is, what I need. So, I dropped my things and then we went out again. We went to the pub, where Tracy and Roy play darts and we had a couple of pints there.
I had had to get up early this morning (at a quarter past four - it happens that I go to sleep at that hour). I called it a day quite early, just to find out, that Tracy had ordered a cab to bring me home and had payed it in advance also ... I had a good sleep, got some bread and cheese in the supermarket (as the Red Lion for the moment had no chef, there was no breakfast), made myself a cup of tea (the accessoires for tea seem to be standard in England) and got ready for a day out. Dave said, that they would take me to the Lake District. There we would also play a round of golf on short courses, the length of which would not be more than 20 meters ... Well, as I never had held a golfclub in my hands, that would be far enough.
Roy met up with us at the pub and then off we went. We went to Windermere, at the shore of Lake Windermere, stretching from Lakeside in the South to Ambleside in the North. The scenery is a relaxation for the eyes. The blue water and in the North the round hills, make it a peaceful sight. Of course there are many tourists, not at least feeding the geese and the seagulls. We went for tickets for a boatride to Ambleside. The local people can fill out a form to get a pass, which gives some discount on the fare. I was passed as Tracy's father and thus a resident as well. Now I have a pass, that is valid for five years ... I think it is a very good idea, to make it cheaper for residents.
Then one can actually rejoice in the local attractions, without having to pay the full tourist price. The thought, that it might be unfair against tourists, really is not valid - as they probably will take part of an attraction once, whereas the residents might make use of it repeatedly.
But before going for the boat, we went to the golf course. Hm ... Dave had probably meant that the greens were 20 meters in diameter. Apart from this, the driveways went up and down in the hilly countryside. There was no way for me to back out, so I had to make the best of it. My swing was at its best a quarter of a circle, because of the arthrosis in my shoulder. But I read the grass like the pros do on TV - and that grass lied to me as well.
It was fun after all, even if I doubt, that I ever will set a new track record. To sum it up altogether: Roy won, playing an outstanding game. I like Tracy's style, copied directly from the schoolbook: slighly bent knees, a firm grip on the putter and the eyes fixed on the hole. And Dave probably still is looking for the ball he threw into the bushes.

Afterwards it was just enough time for a quick beer, then we had to hurry to the boat, taking us to Ambleside. Well there, we took some kind of half-open vehicle (it would be too much to call it a bus), which took us into the village. We found a pub there (which was not really difficult) and had a couple of beers, watching the tourists pass by. At Greggs, on the other side of the street, I learned to value the pies, that are made here. They taste really good. As it was hot, we took another beer, exept for poor Roy, who had to drive home. Back on the boat, I felt that it had been a sunny day, mostly where earlier my hair had grown. But even my arms, below shirtline, had gotten a nice tan.
Back in Dalton, we went to the "Brown Cow" for a nice meal. I don't know, if it was because Tracy had been working there earlier - but the portion was incredible. A nice composition on the plate came with such a big piece of meat, the equivalent of which I barely had seen before. It was only comparable with a big sized steak in Belgium. A big Viennese Schnitzel may have the same size, but then only half the thickness. Anyhow, it was delicious.
What I furthermore enjoyed, was, as it had been so warm, that we had been able to eat and drink, sitting outside all day. Tracy and Dave dropped me off at the Red Lion, where there was live music in the pub.
I had another pint (I think I had eight of them during the day - but it was warm ...) and went up to my room afterwards. There I could listen to the music as well as downstairs. It had been a long day, though, and it was nice to stretch out on my bed. I felt very grateful to my three guides during that day, that they had shared all of my experiences.

The next day the Mike Iveson Memorial was to be held. It was played in the "Golden Ball", a pub owned by Jacqui Chisman. Also her I had met in Torremolinos and she had invited me to the dart competition. There ware a lot of people playing, watching or enjoying a beer in the pub. People were coming from Yorkshire, Bradford and a lot of places in the vicinity.
It started off with blind pairs and I was to play with a man from Yorkshire. I met so many people that day, so it was difficult to remember all of them - and sorrowfully enough I forgot the name of my partner. He told me, that he played a lot in the Netherlands, Belgium and even in Sweden.
We won the first round and it was good to start the day with a victory. In the next match (best of 3) we were 0-1 behind and lost the match because of my stupidity. I had 25 left and played 9 and hit D16 perfectly. The trouble was, that I really had played D16! A blackout? Lack of concentration? Nervousness? I don't know, maybe a bit of altogether. And last, not least, even some lack of experience. Not in playing darts, but to handle the din around, the many new people watching me, the only real foreigner. But enough of excuses, it was stupid.
Waiting for the blind pairs competition to end, I had another go for the pies. There were four different kinds and during the day I got to taste three of them. And they were even better than those I had had yesterday. They are almost another reason to come back to.
In the singles I played really badly - but how well I ever would have played, I had not had a chance. Chris (second from the left on the photo) threw high numbers and had a checkout-quote of 100%. Tough, but a devastating 0-3 was logical. Chris went on to the semifinals and won the pairs together with his partner.
With this, the competition was over for my part. But I got a really nice compensation. I met a marvellous man, in form of Tracy's father, John. He was one of those people, whom you find sympathetic from the first look. And the more conversation we had, the better it became. He had the right views and we agreed on almost everything. So, after a while, we fled from the noise of the Golden Ball and had a couple of pints in the neighbourly "Black Bull". There we could talk without shouting and we found a lot to talk about. When he eventually went home, I went back to the Golden Ball, having some beers and watching the competition. When the event was over and most people had gone home, Jacqui offered a fair glass of whisky.
Let me in this place, express my admiration for Jacqui and her staff. It was incredible, how well they managed through this very long and very busy day, always with a smile on the face, even when you could see their tiredness towards the end of it.
It was well past one, before I left and strolled the sixhundred meters of the Market Street (according to Google Earth) towards home. I passed that cash box, and again I had fun at the text on it. I had tried it out earlier that day - but when I came back to Sweden, I saw that they had charged my creditcard in spite of the promise ...

Next morning, I took it easy, I had finally a go at my e-mails (I hadn't had any time before that, or even been thinking about them) and started packing afterwards. The problem was, that the "Red Lion" was fully booked for my last night.
But Roy had amiably offered, that I might stay at his place instead. Besides he was going to give a barbecue for a lot of people this afternoon. Tracy picked me up with her car to bring me to Roy's place. All of this was far more hospitality than I ever could have expected.

Before we wnt to Roy's house, Tracy drove me round Barrow, so that I could get some foreign points for my turf-game. It was lousy weather, but nevertheless we went up to the statue in the park, because the hotspot was situated there. We did another three zones in Barrow and went past the Furness Abbey. But as the weather was so bad, we decided to have a closer look the next day instead.

When I had deposited my belongings at Roy's place, there was still some time before the barbecue would start, so Tracy invited me to come and see her house. Dave is keen on metal detecting and he got his treasure chest to show me some of his findings. It is a good area to make findings, as already Roman soldiers were there, in order to defend the Empire against the Picts. About 90 kilometers to the North, just above the city of Carlisle, Emperor Hadrian had built his famous wall, to keep the Picts from raiding the area south of it. Therefore probably there were some garrisons along the coast as well. But even after the Romans, there came the Vikings (today many names still remind of the Scandinavian language. What about Kirkby-in-Furness, for instance).

And still later, throughout the middle ages, there was a major monastery. So it really is good ground for detecting things. One of Dave's treasures is a very pretty signet ring. But he has also got a lot of other things, among which are some Roman coins. One of them he gave me as a gift, probably from Emperor Hadrian's time, almost 2000 years ago.

On the head-side of it you can clearly make out the face of the Emperor and on the backside there is some kind of animal. You can make out the ear, the eye and the nose. It could be a bear or a cat of some type, a lynx? Considering that the coin lay during so long time buried in the earth, it still is well kept.
I also made friends with their very old greyhound and the cat of the house. The latter surprised my hosts, as it was said to be rather shy. But there is almost no cat, which will not become friends with me ...

Soon it was time to go back to the barbecue. Roy had told everybody at the darts, that they were welcome and bought lots of supplies, but the weather still wasn't the best, something between raining and pouring down. So, in the end almost nobody came, and we had a barbecue for three.
A shame, because Roy's burgers were definitely the best I have ever eaten. But together with a couple of beers and later in the evening also some whisky, we passed the day chilling and talking, good for recreation.

Tracy had changed her shift at work, so that she could join us on Monday. She arrived in the morning and we had a marvellous English breakfast, that Roy had fixed. Afterwards the three of us went uphill, to get some overview, and then we drove down to the abbey. Furness Abbey was a revelation. It is very difficult to give a good impression of that building on just one photo. But as I shall write an article about the Abbey, you will find that in my online Empire, the Werbeka Netshop, within a week or two. This is, why I will not talk about its history here. It is amazing enough, though. Let it suffice by saying, that it became the second most important abbey in England.
After the abbey, we went over to the "island" of Barrow, to get a look at the docks, where they build submarines, as well as for visiting some beaches, to get a last close look at the Irish sea. My train left at three in the afternoon and it was a sad feeling, having to say good-bye.
Ulverston was the first station on my trip back, so I made a last picture.

At the check-in in Manchester was a queue of about 150 people. I had enough time, so I would get on the plane, no doubt, but if it was also enough for the luggage to go with the same plane?
A word of honour for Norwegian Airlines, though - they opened two more desks and everybody was fine. Nevertheless, the plane was late and in Stockholm I had exactly 45 minutes to reach the last bus of the day, at 0.15. Else I would have to wait four and a half hour. We arrived only ten minutes late and I hasted through the airport. In vain, because the luggage would start being delivered at 0.09 it said. If they, instead of calculating this time, would have been delivering at once, it would have been better ...

However, my suitcase came at 0.13, I took it and raced through the airport, seing the bus still standing outside. The ticket machine was engaged, so I rushed right outside and told the driver, that I would get a ticket, if he would wait for me. All right. So I ran back in, keyed in the destination et cetera - then it said: "This ride is already gone". Of course, it was 0.17 now. So, back out to the bus, explaining. And, after some nervous moments, I convinced the driver to take me on.
In Västerås, the last local bus runs at midnight, so I had to take a taxi to come home. Those six kilometers cost about half the returnfare from Manchester to Dalton ...

Well, I was at home at two in the morning, with 31 degrees in my flat. Good that I had the days in England to fall back on, the nice memories of them more than equalized the stress of the journey back.

Once again, my honest and wholehearted thanks to you, Tracy, Dave and Roy - for everything.

Bernhard Kauntz, Västerås 2018


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