TRAVEL: COMPETITION - LITERALLY LOST: 25

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The Independent Travel
The following excerpt has been taken from a classic work of travel literature. Readers are invited to tell us: a) where is the action taking place? b) who is the author? Blackwell's Bookshops will supply pounds 30-worth of book tokens each week to the first correct answer out of the hat. Answers on a postcard to: Literally Lost, `Independent on Sunday', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Usual competition rules apply. Entries to arrive by Thursday 26 March.

The bags yielded a bewildering array of footwear, underwear, headwear, and handwear, eyewear and unidentifiable items which didn't look as if they would fit comfortably over any part of my body. At the bottom of one of my bags, underneath an enormous vermilion parka, lay a coiled chain and a pair of metal dog tags engraved with my name and a long number. I arranged my clothes in neat piles on the carpet and eyed the others. They were beginning to try things on, so I tackled a pair of thermal longjohns with a willy-slit at the front. At one end of the room a curtain shielded us from a long counter to which we returned ill-fitting items to a blue-overalled clothing assistant who would scuttle away to pluck a different size pair of windpants or polypropylene glove liners from unseen mountain ranges of gear lurking in the hinterland.

As we pulled, zipped, laced and unrolled, my companions began to talk. One was a cook, another a senior ice-corer and the third a Nasa technician. The ice-corer had six seasons of `ice time,' and she showed me how to switch on the white rubber bunny boots. They were insulated by air, and had a valve on the side which you had to open and close on aircraft. When we had satisfied ourselves that no part of our extensive new wardrobe would chafe or pinch or expose our soft flesh to the rigours of frostbite, we packed up our bags and the scowler despatched us into the sunshine, ticking a clipboard and issuing threats about the consequences of arriving late for the plane.

Literally Lost 25: Last week's excerpt came from A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. The action took place in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, USA. The winner was Mr Liam Pollard, Herts.

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