A collaborative book by RF Mackenzie and Hunter Diack
Below is an article published in 1935 on part of their trip.
Scottish Cycling News - October 31st, 1935
Twa Scots Aheel Roun' Europe
"Road Fortune" and Rich Experience
"A White cottage beside a stream bore the colours of Yugoslavia in bars above the door to singnify that it carried a licence to supply travellers with food. I entered. A pleasant woman with blue eyes and bare feet was dusting. She looked at my hobnail boots and rucksack, and then spoke. But I knew never a word of her language, and with my eyes searched the little kitchen for eatables. A sampler with comic designs covered a part of one stone wall. Fife steps led up to another room. There was a counter with behind it an array of plates. Hanging from the rafters - yes, that would do! - were hams. I pointed to them. She smiled took one of them down and cut off some slices, which she handed to me. I pointed to the fire, however, so she put them in a frying pan. I decided to have eggs as well and gazed around for them, but there were none to be seen. So taking a pencil and a piece of paper from my pocket, I drew an egg with such art as I could master, but mine hostess did not understand. Just at that moment a hen walked into the room."
This is how our cyclist was able to manage his way about Yugoslavia. Hi is certainl that "it was a memorable breakfast" he had in Yugoslavia. He takes the road leading to Rejika where he says one can have as much coffee as one want to drink and thick chunks of deep apple-pie for eightpence. The green fields, the small houses and the pure air around these parts, remind him of his native Scotland. "The purity and quiteness of the evening held an intoxicating quality that I had felt only once previously - on an August evening among the Caringorms."
Village on a Sea-Inlet
Crossing Montenegro in to Dalmatia, our cyclist has a good view of Kotor. The natural beauty of this village is enhanced by the fact that it is built on a see-inlet. The harbour of boka Kotorska is the most perfect natural harbout in the world. A Yugoslavian native assured the Scot of the strategic importance of this harbour. Italy, he declared, wanted to make Dalmatia, Italian. On the other hand, a chance conversation with an Italian elicited that fact that Italy did not fear the Yugoslav navy, but it did have apprehensions about France. If a war broke out at all and the French navy made the Boka Kotorska as its base, it might do incalculable damage to the Adriatic Coast of Italy.
Throughout their cycling journey, these cyclists are being labelled "English" for no other reason than the fact they spoke the English language. When, however, they declare they hail from Scotland people are left wondering as to where Scotland can be. A Yugoslav asked out cyclist which part of the State he came from. When the Scot told him he came from Scotland the Yugoslav did not know anything about Scotland but said, "But you speak English, you speak it better than I do. I was born in the States."
The Ither Ane Awheel
The cyclist who separated from his companion at Pompeii goes towards the east of Italy into Abruzzi. He cycles along the Adriatic Coast and has the delight of beholding the towns and villages agains a blue sea. Describing his journey in this particular region, he says, "Your days pass blue-horizoned beneath a cloudless sky. Your nights are flights of sound sleep on the bents by the shore and your dawns pace majestically across the Adriatic. Perhaps a farmer will invite you to sleep in his cowshed for a night. He will bring you wine, you may share his evening meal, but you will not enjoy it because it has the taste of a mixture of olive oil and rank weeds. Then with a rushlight he will show you to your bed and all night you will toss restlessly on account of the hot breaths of five giant white oxen and their stamping and blowing."
Crossing the watershed between the Adriatic and the Black Sea, this cyclist gets into Autria. When halting at a village-inn to have some refreshments he came across pamphlets on a table with such headings as, "The Jew Lies", "Jewish Hatred", Germany puts the Jew in his Place." etc., etc., He approaches the town of Villach, where it was arranged he should meet his companion.
Many thanks to Peter Murphy for a copy of part of this article. It certainly gives a flavour of what Robert Mackenzie and Hunter Diacks journey must have been like.
More from Road Fortune to follow . . .