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Thursday 24 July 2014: Czech Mate

Up at the crack of dawn again today, with an early morning signing at the hotel before embarking on a five-hour train journey from Kosice to Ostrava (once again in the Czech Republic), changing trains at Zilini.

As yesterday, our travelling companion was the Czech writer and publisher, Martin Reiner. Martin is a fascinating character who spent time in a Czech military academy before being thrown into prison, then eventually released to travel the world and embark on a career as both a writer and publisher.

At every venue, he and I share the event, each of us kicking off proceedings on alternate nights. I could not have asked for a nicer or more interesting companion. The five hours of travelling today passed in the blink of an eye during conversation about politics, history, writing and the human condition. And, of course, football! So nice to find a kindred spirit.

Tonight's event was in a small theatre behind a coffee shop in the centre of Ostrava. The venue was packed to hear me read a 30-minute extract from "The Blackhouse" - the first 1st person chapter, which is almost like a short story in its own right. A lively discussion followed before we escaped to eat in the courtyard of a strange Chinese restaurant which turned out its lights even before we had finished our meal - and it was only 9.30pm! We had to fumble our way out in the dark, afraid we would be locked in.

Tomorrow we head for Wroclaw in Poland, but for once we don't have to be on the road at first light!

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