Hungary is a land with a semi-impossible language. If you are English and think you recognise any word in it, the only thing you can be sure of is that you are wrong. Just have a look at the sheet we had to carry with us and you will see what I mean. That's the impossible bit. I'll come to the language's redeeming feature in a moment.
Perhaps I haven't explained before - and it may seem incomprehensible to the lay person - but when intending to go XC in a hang glider in those early days the almost inevitable consequence was that you would land somewhere, and not be too sure exactly where you were, and nor would anybody else.


As if that wasn't enough, after de-rigging your kite and packing up your harness and other flying gear, you then had no predictable method of reuniting yourself with your car - which would generally be back at the take-off point with the winch. A folded hang glider was about 5m long and weighed maybe 35 kg - just about carryable on your shoulder, but not something you would want to walk a mile with (carrying your harness as well). So you had to do two things first: find out where you were (not always too easy), and then find a telephone.
This of course goes back to the days when we didn't have mobile phones, and phones in Hungary were few and far between. On one occasion, some kind Hungarians drove me 15 km through the countryside to the nearest one. On another occasion (see the image), I was pointed to a wall. Thinking there was some misunderstanding and nonplussed I had to ask again, and was shown a box hidden in the wall, inside which there was a telephone! The problem was not so simply resolved however: this was not subscriber trunk dialling territory. There was a handle on the phone, which made a bell ring somewhere presumably, but when the operator spoke Hungarian (only), I had to plead for help again. After waving my save-your-life piece of paper even more agitatedly at the bystander, I persuaded him to follow the instructions. Or so I hoped. There was no real way of telling but to sit there by the road, and wait for Marton to turn up in his car. We all had some long, anxious waits, and some very long ones!
The splendid feature of the language though was that (unlike the stupidly inconsistent and bizarre spelling of English) if you could see it written down, you could pronounce and speak it recognisably! I always took a pocket phrase book with me, and was able to spend many waiting hours in friendly and sometimes hilarious conversation with the local people as a result. English was not widely spoken in the countryside.

The story of the retrieve after my first long Norfolk XC (promised above) went somewhat differently. That was five years previous to this, and although in England, Tony and Rona did not have phone access on the Sculthorpe base. (When they did at last acquire "the latest" mobile phone it cost them £1000 - a hideous sum.) Ergo, my problem on landing at Winterton was basically to get myself back to Sculthorpe, then to collect my car, then to drive to Winterton and collect my kite, then to drive back to Burwell. A local resident who had seen me land in the beet field helped me hide my de-rigged kite in the hedge, and took me back to his house for a cup of tea. On hearing of my intended travel plans he was going into Norwich and generously offered me a pillion ride on his scooter (useful things: hang gliding/motorcycle helmets!). We got half way to Norwich when his rear tyre went down in the middle of the countryside. I said thanks but awful sorry I would have to continue - hitch-hiking (what else? we all did in those days). Three or four lifts later - after skirting Norwich on the ring road and passing through Fakenham - found me close to Sculthorpe base, walking along the road wondering if I would dare climb the boundary fence - it would save miles of walking around the perimeter. Fortunately another motorcyclist saw my helmet and thumb out and delivered me pillionwise to the Sculthorpe main gate. The rest of the retrieve in my own car was much less eventful, and I eventually arrived home in the dark, pretty late, but of course incredibly bucked by the day's adventures and achievements.

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