Would we insult our reader with a mere partial eclipse? Not us! Mudshark Towers is proud to present incriminating evidence of a lost week in France and a close shave with the end of the world as we know it

It's a long and torrid story, the full details of which will shortly emerge (yes, *really*, don't look at me like that!), in the Latest Misdeeds of the Mudshark Clan. Suffice to say that instead of being conned out of a fortune by booking a tent in Cornwall, suffering a week of pasties and warm beer and totally failing to see the total eclipse due to totally dismal British Weather, The Mudsharks took it upon themselves to travel to La Belle France, where the accomodation was inexpensive, the weather warm, and the wine... drunk in quantities too copious even to describe. Frankly, it's a miracle we even got out of bed on the morning of 11th August 1999 , but rise we did, to clouded-but-clearing skies, and set off to our rendezvous (see what a week or so in France can do for your vocabulary?) point of Neufchatel En Bray.

We didn't make it, of course. Well, two thirds of us did, which was a miracle enough, given the amount of the fine produce of the French winemaking fraternity consumed the previous evening. Unfortunately, Neufchatel was still looking a bit overcast, so after a quick squelch around on a muddy verge, we decided to head to Forges Les Eaux in the hope of getting a better view, and, more importantly, in the hope of getting The Wizard some beer in order to keep him under control. (Wizards are like that)

Having been buzzed by a low-flying helicopter en route (see what I mean about vocabulary?), it came as no surprise to us to reconnoiter (and again!) with our lost third in Forges Les Eaux. Actually, considering the entire world, its wife, its mistress,(this *was* France, remember) its dog and its aromatherapist seemed to have congregated in Forges Les Eaux, this was not so much a co-indidence as an inevitability. Beer also having joined the party, we girded our loins and sallied forth to chase the every-increasing gaps in the clouds.... (...tension.. suspense.. )

Being a man of several talents, and maps, Gregori had already had his eye on a deserted bean-field on the top of a ridge, so we headed for this abandonded, desolate spot, and found that the aromatherapists and company had all arrived before us. Undeterred, we drove along the narrow track and finally parked up. Still the weather looked unpromising, although there were blue skies to be seen further afield.
A short discussion ensued, but there's no arguing with a Wizard when he's got the bit between his teeth, the beer between his finger and thumb and his binoculars poised and ready, so we set up the equipment and waited...

...and waited. Eclipses are slow things, you know. To keep ourselves amused, we sought beer-recycling facilities in the nearby woods and kept the natives amused with Eric, the alien who lives on top of Genaro the stuffed cactus, in The Wizard's Lair. (I told you Wizards are funny.. )

Even the weather-gods, it seems, have a healthy respect for beer-fuelled Wizards and their inflatable green companions, for just before First Contact the cloud broke, and we saw the very edge of the sun's disc just nibbled slightly by the evil dragon. (or moon, if you're going to be pedantic)

The next hour was spent anxious checking the still-variable cloud cover. About 20 minutes before totality, a great rent appeared, blue sky was visible over a large area of the firmament, and we knew we were going to see the wretched thing! Great was the joy of the Mudshark Clan, who had not much fancied spending the rest of the week with His Wizness in a state of post- non-eclipse-sighting-depression!
To cut a long story short, we saw the eclipse in all it's glory. The punters back in not-so-sunny Cornwall didn't! It lasted barely 2 minutes, but was unforgettable. If you have got a zippy fast Net connection, a modem with go-faster-stripes (or cable connection) and RealPlayer G2 you can see Gregori's video of The Mudsharks watching the eclipse (and hear the helicopter which buzzed us earlier!) in RealVideo. If you've only got old tins cans and some string, you can watch it here in Mudshark towers on either a 28k connection or a 56k connection And if you haven't got any of those things, you'll just have to make do with these photos of Monty's instead. Snag a helicopter ride back to Mudshark Towers