Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dear "Holiday" Diary Part 2

Saturday 12th April

Good to see that Andy Gray finally scored for the Addicks...and a shame to hear that the conceded goal was a bit of a blooper by the recalled Darren Randolph. I don't know why Randolph was brought back from Bury; surely if Weaver is only suspended for one game it would have been worth giving Elliott a go and leaving Randolph on loan in Lancashire to gain more experience over the remaining few games of the season? Anyway, I bet the crowd went mad and the frustrations of the season were shown once more.

Sunday 13th April

Following on from yesterdays dune hopping trip, which mirrored Charlton's season somewhat (up, down,up, down etc), today was spent driving across endless desert plain. As with the run in to this season - which seems to be going on forever - so did the barren flatlands, with merely the odd peak in the distance visible. We did arrive in the mountains eventually, but they were the small round variety rather than the heady heights we thought we might reach last August...

Monday 14th April

In another Charlton similarity, this morning we spent six hours searching for something we couldn't find; like Alan Pardew and his search for the right players and the right formation, our search for desert elephants also ended in despair and frustration. Sure, you could see the tracks (and the dung) so we should have been going in the right direction but the goal was ultimately never found despite turning this way and that. Disappointment always in my dreams...

Tuesday 15th April

My wife lost a ring today – it was probably found and pocketed by a fellow tourist, or dragged away by a large bird. Annoying... Our morning walk guide was a Manchester United fan; typically, he was very materialistic, only wanting us to send him a shirt, which is unlikely, nice though he was!

Thursday 17th April

Some relief on another safari – we did see some of what we wanted, but the big prizes still elude us...maybe later? After another nice drive we were about to stop for a sundowner when a call came over the radio – one of the big five (no, not Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton/Spurs) had been spotted; we turned but our guide said it was a long way and we might not make it, but we would try. Frantic driving, much as Charlton desperately seek a winning or equalising goal in the last few minutes of time remaining (before the light went completely) ensued. We made it...just (how I wish the Addicks could have come up with the goods when required this season), and much like the promised land of the Premiership, all of our dreams and hopes were realised. I had thought for much of the day that the only lions I would see would be those on my cap; now I had thirteen live ones to watch in the fading light It was great; the first time in my life I've been happy watching the lions (apart from the British rugby variety)!

Saturday 19th April

A good couple of days – after a comparatively short drive (by this holidays standards), we had another major experience; following the lions the previous night, we had a great White Rhino situation, and got very close for around twenty minutes to two enormous beasts. Much as with the Premierships big boys, you don't see how big these animals are unless you get really close. Charlton are like small antelope (Damara Dik-Dik?) when compared to these monsters. Luckily, they were quite friendly, and used to tourists gawking at them and taking endless photos as the sun went down. As every other tourist on our van and at dinner (with everyone sat around one table) was German, we didn't have much chatting time and I'm not sure they would have heard of the Addicks, or appreciated being reminded how much better English football is when compared to the Bundesliga. There is no phone signal here, so I have another long wait to find out how the Addicks penultimate away game of the season at QPR went... Mind you, we had a call to reception this afternoon telling us that my wife's ring has been found! Now the problem is how to get it to us before we fly home...

Sunday 20th April

Drove through a town with telephone reception, so was able to text a friend to get the QPR result; bad news but not unexpected. I sincerely hope that Alan Pardew has given up hope of making the play offs by now! Though we saw crocodiles today, I will only shed crocodile tears at Charlton's inability to make the end-of-season finale.

Monday 21st April

The search for a winning (or successful) formula has been long and sometimes painful this season, much like some of our safaris on this holiday; however, we did see a leopard yesterday and two cheetah this morning after prolonged bum-aching tracking. I imagine that Pards will be searching with even more vigour now even he has to admit we are not good enough; will he give any youngsters a run in the remaining few games? I hope so - this is baby season out here, and we have seen lots of young animals clinging to their mothers. Some day they will have to learn to cope in the real world, much as Charlton's youngsters will have to. Only then will be find out if we have another Scott Parker, Paul Konchesky, Shaun Newton, Richard Rufus, Lee Bowyer, Paul Elliott, Paul Walsh or Billy Bonds lurking in the junior ranks. Tomorrow is the last day of our holiday, and we should arrive back in the UK on Wednesday morning. A 1-1-1 return from the three games I've missed was pretty much expected, and sums up the whole season. I won't be going to Barnsley, and will savour the last home game of the season a week later in the hope of a bright future. It's been a wonderful last few weeks for me, full of new experiences; shame Charlton didn't have quite such god time...

Tuesday 22nd April

Our last day and one last football analogy - a guy in a (obviously fake) Chelsea shirt asked me for money today as I was putting a dollar in the parking meter; Roman's millions do not reach this far it seems, but he was still unwilling to accept my (derisory) one dollar offering (about 7p...); poor lad. If he had been wearing an Addicks shirt I'd have given him the whole 45 bucks he said he needed to get home!

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