By Harry Greig with photos & unexpurgated diary extracts by Mike Eyett
Additional (censored) extracts from the 1959 School Magazine written by Robin Palmer
The Trip held a mixture of memories for me personally. The upside for me as a 15 year old schoolboy was of a tremendous experience camping with a great bunch of friends; a fortnight away from Mum and Dad and parental rules; seeing Messrs Cleaver, Parker and the other teachers in a different light; my first taste of real Italian-made spaghetti washed down with Sicilian wine in a cafe in Catania and finally seeing Taormina long before it became a haven for today's tourists. The journey from Syracuse to Taormina is one that still lingers long in the memory.
LEAVE MALTA THURSDAY 26th MARCH (Argentina)
ARRIVE SICILY FRIDAY 27th MARCH
SYRACUSE TO PRIOLO FRIDAY 27th MARCH
PRIOLO TO CORRIDORE DE PERO
(Via AGNONE) SATURDAY 28th MARCH
CORRIDORE DE PERO TO PONTE SUNDAY 29th MARCH
PONTE TO CATANIA MONDAY 30th MARCH
CATANIA TO REFUGIO SAPIENZA TUESDAY 31st MARCH
REFUGIO SAPIENZA (1 day stay for WEDNESDAY 1st APRIL
Climbing and Sledging)
REFUGIO SAPIENZA TO GIARRE THURSDAY 2nd APRIL
GIARRE TO MESSINA FRIDAY 3rd APRIL
MESSINA (1 day stay) SATURDAY 4th APRIL
MESSINA TO TAORMINA (by rail) SUNDAY 5th APRIL
TAORMINA (I day stay) MONDAY 6th APRIL
TAORMINA TO SYRACUSE (by rail) TUESDAY 7th APRIL
SYRACUSE TO MALTA (Citta di Livorno) 8th APRIL
Friday, March 27th.
We arrived at Syracuse in the early hours of the morning and by eight-o'clock we were all ready to disembark. At nine everybody trooped off the ship and passed through the Customs with no trouble at all. On emerging from the Customs shed we set off at a brisk pace. After two hours walking we stopped by the wayside for a meal, which consisted of half a loaf each and a tin of ham which was washed down by a drop of wine. After this, our former brisk pace eventually began to tell, and bodies began to drop by the roadside; it was only the encouraging words of Mr. Morgan that kept us going.
Ten miles further on we had another rest during which' time Mr, Cleaver walked on to find a camping site. On his return we learnt that the site was a couple of hundred yards down the road, and we all know what that meant. A couple of miles at least! We finally made camp and it ,was not long 'before we were feeling our old selves again. That night we all visited Priolo, and for the first time I tasted a dish of spaghetti.
Sunday, March 29th.
After an early breakfast we broke camp and started out towards Ponte, An hour later, as the rest of the party began to draw away from me, I realized that if I cut-off the approaching bend in the road, by walking in a straight line, I would .gain on the rest of the party. Five other boys also .adopted my brilliant plan and followed me across the field. After twenty yards of progress, the lush green grass turned into thorn shrubs which in the middle of the field gave way to marshy land, as the leading members were soon to find out. Instead of gaining on the party we fell back even further and by the time we reached the road our shoes and) jeans were covered in mud. I was not very popular that day. On arriving at Ponte we made camp under a large bridge and in the afternoon some of us were allowed to catch the bus into Catania which was ten miles away. The most interesting thing about Catania was the way .the volcanic rock had been used to make first class roads, At ten-o'-clock we were back at Ponte and were soon fast asleep.
Monday, March 30th.
Our party was sent off in two's at regular intervals in ,an endeavour to catch a lift to La Plaja which was an international holiday camp on the outskirts of Catania. By twelve-o'-clock most of us had arrived at the camp with stories to tell about the various modes of transport obtained. Practically everybody had travelled in ,a Fiat, which along With the Alfa -Romeos seemed to be the only cars on the island. Swimming and football took up most: of the afternoon. In the latter sport we managed to beat a Sicilian team 4-3. The game was played in deep sand and it turned out to be more like another battle of Alamein than a football match. In the evening the other -half of the party went into Catania whilst the remainder of us sat and talked about old times.
Tuesday, March 31st.
At four in the morning in drizzling rain we marched In silence through the quiet and empty streets of Catania to the bus station. Eight-o'-clock found us well on the way up Mt. Etna. The rain turned to sleet and the sleet to snow. The scenery changed 'from vineyards to bare volcanic jock and .at 5,000 It. pine trees littered the snow covered slopes. At this stage of the bus journey the road had become really treacherous and the driver made full use of the eight gears at his disposal. On alighting at a small restaurant 6,000ft. up the mountain we had to trudge another kilometer through knee-deep snow to the Refugio. Our packs which had been on top of the bus were soaking wet so that by the time we .reached the Refugio we were all frozen. A .quick change of clothes and a hot drink soon revived us. A certain teacher in the corner said in a sarcastic way "How lovely to have the blood flowing through the veins again .— drip, — drip." , The afternoon was spent wetting our dry clothes in the snow. Snowball fights and sledging became the order of the day, and as there was only one sledge between seventeen boys, you can imagine the chaos.
Wednesday, April 1st.
The weather was so bad that to have attempted to climb to the top of Etna would have been ridiculous. Therefore the whole day was spent in the Refugiio spending money, drying clothes and playing cards. Two of us played snap with a pack of Sicilian cards and it was not until the fourth game that we realized that all the playing elands were different which I am sure you will appreciate is rather a set-back in this highly skilled game. At 4.30 p.m. we left the Refugio and with, a blizzard raging around us we trudged down 'to 'the awaiting bus. When we finally 'reached Catania there was half an hour ,to go before the train left for Taormina. As the station was a fair distance away and the rain was still pouring down It was quite a hectic dash.
It was a
close 'thing and as the train pulled out of the station Mr. Morgan frantically
ran up and down the corridor hastily counting the boys. According to him two were
missing but no one seemed to be unduly worried and on alighting at our destination
our complement was found to be complete, Mr. Cleaver marched on in pouring lain
to see if he could find shelter whilst the rest of us had a hot cheap meal at the
Station Cafe. The night was spent in a large house at the foot of the main road
into Taormina. In my room there were four of us with two beds to sleep on.
We put the two beds together and slept across them. At two-o'clock that night we
became conscious of a slow sinking feeling which was not surprising when we found that the beds were two feet apart.
Thursday, April 2nd, — Tuesday, April 7th.
By Friday we were clamping .on the lawns in front of the house where we remained until Tuesday. Thus Taormina became our temporary headquarters. The mornings were usually spent cleaning ,up the camp and preparing the midday meal. After this, a trip up the hill to the main town of Taormina to buy presents for a swim in the sparkling waters below the camp, were our main occupations <for the next .few days. In the evenings a few of us frequented a coffee-bar where we dined, whilst watching TV, on hot coffee and doughnuts. On Sunday Mr. Parker and Mr. Ousbey took most of us into Messina for the day. Before we left, (Mr. Cleaver had given us 500 lire each for our midday meal and I, like many others, had visions of buying a cheap meal and spending the rest on what we liked.
The downside was that I went with ten fingernails and came back with nine. I was unfortunate to have one of my thumbs caught in a door jamb on board the Star of Malta on the way there and the nail on it was so severely damaged it was removed in a Catania hospital though I made sure it didn't affect my enjoyment of the whole Trip. I didn't make Messina as two anti-infection jabs were arranged for the very day of the train trip there and this meant I had to stay in Taormina till the others returned. HG
On Tuesday we left Taormina after having paid our respects to the old lady on whose lawn we had camped, arriving at Syracuse at six-o'-clock. After a 'brief look round the city we finally boarded the Citta de Livorno, and by midnight a tired but contented party was well on aits way back to Malta. It is on behalf of the rest of the party that I thank Mr. Cleaver, Mr. Ousbey, Mr. Ross, (Mr. Parker and Mr. Morgan for putting up with, organizing and accompanying us on this memorable adventure.
TAL HANDAQ SCHOOL - ADVENTURE IN SICILY -1959
PUPILS TAKING PART IN "THE ADVENTURE":
WALTER ATTWOOD JOHN KASLIK PETER CLOUGH ALAN MOGRIDGE PETER CORMACK ROBIN PALMER
KEVIN BOWLING KENNETH PROUDLOVE COLIN DOYLE CHRISTOPHER RUOFF MICHAEL EYETT JEFFREY STEEL
BRIAN FULLER PAUL SHROSBEE MARSHALL HANSEN TEWFIK URAN CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON CLIVE WOOD
Mr. Cleaver, Mr. Ousbey, Mr. Ross, Mr. Parker and Mr. Morgan
An excellent two week "adventure" in great company. It lives long and
well in the memory. HG
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