Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Sunday, 30th July 2006
I'm sitting in a railway station, got a ticket for my destination. I'm sure I've heard those words before but this time it was for real as we prepared to make the journey home after a brilliant few days in Italy.
We were leaving Desenzano on the 9:15 train for Venice but at around 7:30 there were some real concerns as to whether we would all make it. The numbers sat for breakfast showed two short, and do you need to guess it was Martin and Tom, our dirty stop outs from the night before.
After tucking into the salami, ham and cheese, Austin and myself were given the duty of bringing the missing two back to earth. We firstly visited Martin, and the little man looked up from his bed, asked Austin to give him a hug and tried to tell us he was feeling OK.
Tom though looked a different proposition, he lay motionless and Austin just shook his head, looked at me and said: “I leave this one to you.” Somehow, miraculously, they both made it down to reception and Tom even popped in for some late breakfast looking like some sinister Italian behind his dark glasses. I'm sure Marlon Brando would have signed him up.
In the end, we all said our farewells to the hotel that had proved an excellent base and made it to the station and onto the train for Venice. From there it wasn't just as well orchestrated as the journey there, and we had a wait of over an hour for the connecting bus to the airport and the flight was then delayed for thirty minutes.
At least this time we were sat together on the flight and I didn't have that dreadful man next to me, he was sat a few rows back presumably telling someone else to keep quiet. Austin, John and myself chatted, dozed, and picked the team for next Saturday. Behind us Daz and Emma looked after little Martin and behind them I think Tom (hardly surprisingly) and Dan fell asleep whilst Damo found another word in his word search.
The baggage came off in record time at Liverpool
John Lennon for all of us and we made our separate ways home from the airport after a magnificent five days. Thanks to Austin, Damo, Dan, Daz, Emma, John, Martin and Tom for the company and for allowing me to take the micky at their expense during this Italian Job.
We've all incredibly had some stick from others for making the trip but I'm not sure why, maybe they were just jealous. Taking in Lake Garda, Milan and Verona sounds like a very good way to spend five days to me and with the added bonus of a couple of games.
There'll be a few photographs of the places we visited later today but in words the Italian Job comes to an end with all our feet firmly back on English soil. Arrivederci l'Italia.