“When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way, from your first cigarette to your last dying day.”

TGO isn’t really like West Side Story. There are no rumbles. There are no Puerto Ricans fighting for acceptance. And no one breaks into song and dance, with the posssible exception of the Welsh. But there is this brotherhood about it. But I get ahead of myself.


I left Ballater and headed down the Spee Side Biking Trail. This was recommended by a wee old woman on a huge bicycle the day before. She said it was flat and pleasant and that it was.

I was making good time at about 5-6 Klics and hour. I came to this bridge which represents just some of the damage done by the River Dee this Spring when in spate, it overran the land.


This flooding damaged a lot of property and dislocated many families. A few minutes later, Paul, the expat American from Ohio came down the path. Paul is a professor at a college in Edinburgh and studies a branch of biology that does research in the hope of curing diseases like Alzheimer’s and worse. Kind of puts my career of making things up in perspective. 

We spent the rest of the hike into Dboyna together. 


It was a very pleasant walk and we both pushed each other on. 

We finally reached Dboyna around 2PM, a 12 mile hike. 


Paul had brought lunch and ate it beside the river, while I went to the Riverside Inn, a traditional stop on the route for hikers for a beer and hamburger.

Paul joined me at after finishing his lunch and had a Cafe Americano coffee, which I offered to buy him. At 2 pound 20, it was not that big a deal, but Paul insisted on paying 1 pound fifty. Now, this wasn’t because he didn’t want to be indent to me. Hardly. He simply wanted to lighten his load by two coins, mind you UK coins are pretty heavy. But still.


We said our good-byes and I retraced my steps to the main road to hitchhike back to Ballater where I still had another night on my B&B. I got to the road just as the bus showed up and jumped on that. When I got back to Ballater, I found this wee festival in progress.


How could it not be more perfect? I enjoyed the show and was standing next to an old guy, Duncan, who I got to talking to. Duncan insisted I follow him. How could I refuse? He had bits of food on his face and I only assumed this would be me in a few more years. Duncan dragged me along to his section of the fair, “I’m not a poofter, I assure you.” 

We get to his booth, where he has an original Hong Kong rickshaw, having spent 35 years of his life there. Duncan pulls out a thermos and pours me three inches of Scotalnd’s best single malt. “Have some Scotish tea, mate.” 

To raise money for the flooding cause, Duncan was offering rickshaw rides for 2 quid, only he said he was too old to drag it around, so the father’s did the work.


I thanked him and moved on with a goal in mind. Another bowl of won ton soup to bring back to my B&B. With no food allowed in the room, I asked the propritor for access to the dining room and a spoon. He told me no one had ever asked him for that before and I told him I was delighted to have broke new ground. He said he was happy for me but not so for him. Now I forget to tell you he was a Swede or German and looked like Eric VonStoheim. It vas his vay or de highway.

I relaxed for a bit then headed into town to the Alexandra Hotel, where a bunch of TGO’rs were staying. Entering the bar brings me to my original thought, here I was a Jet amongst Jets. Humphrey, Kurstin, Russ, Phil, Brad (an Amercian) and many more. I was home. I was safe. I was with people who knew my aches and pains and the miles I had traveled. It was a high-ho time and in the warm glow of that pub, the bar maids working overtime to keep up with us, there was no place I would rather be. I was a Jet.

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4 thoughts on ““When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way, from your first cigarette to your last dying day.””

  1. Hi Thom! Thanks for sharing your walk. Congratulations to you and your daughter on your recent achievements. Also, thanks for letting me lighten my load by £1.50! Paul

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  2. Thom, it was a pleasure to meet you and I’m enjoying reading your blog immensely. Reading it, I can imagine your voice reading it out to me.
    ‘no one breaks into song’?….you’ve not been visiting the right places!
    I hope you (and your boots!) will be back again soon 🙂

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