The day we went hitchhiking to the Lake District in the north of England turned out to be a super nice day. Not only did the sun come out for some hours between windy rainshowers, but the people we met were absolutely amazing. We have been told that hitchhiking in England was an almost impossible undertaking, but that we could try, as we looked like tourists and equipped with a good sign and patience. Our first driver was a nurse, she dropped us off at a big service station near High Wycombe on the M40. We had never seen such a huge service station, it was like a shopping mall, a truck meeting point and 5 normal petrol stations together. Happily we went to find a map, originally we wanted to take the M1, because everyone told us to try not to go to Birmingham, as the city sucks you in and never let´s you leave easily. We dropped our backpacks on the ground I stayed with them, enjoying the moments of sun and my friend went exploring the dumpsters. He came back with some of which the british refer to as “bread”. White, fluffy, tasteless stuff, but food, after all. And, I don´t remember what else he found. Next to me there where to workers eating Kepab, when they finished obviously we went to eat the left half or as least try to see if there were some parts without meat. They saw us and gave my friend money, when he realized it was as much as 20 pounds he refused to accept it, but they insisted and drove away. So, now, I had an excuse to buy the insanely expensive english coffee I was craving for and then we made our way to the roundabout leading to the motorway onramp. We were enjoying coffee and discussing what to write on our cardboard sign, when a car stopped “where´re you going?”, he just wanted to stop for a coffee and a cigarette and then he drove us all the way close to Birmingham where he was working. His name was Chris, and he claimed to be the only hungarian firefighter in England he had even looked it up. He was such a funny guy, I wish I could remember everything we talked about. One thing I remember was that he sometimes told his colleagues stories about Hungary in which he described it as an almost medieval place, and then went on describing steam machines and people believed every word he said because they knew so little about Hungary. “Don´t go to Birmingham unless you want to sell your kidneys, believe me, there´s nothing there”. We should hear about the same comment frequently the next days, it even made me curious, as it was the only town people talked about. At the end he enjoyed our company and was such a good person that he drove us almost 50 miles further then he had to go and left us in the north of Birmingham on the M6. He made us promise to go to donate 1 pound at some firefighters station, for what they give you a bracelet. He also told us to count on the local firefighters wherever we would get stranded “we always have cookies, stories to tell and a dry place to sleep”. Chris, we didn´t find a firefighters station that was open, yet, but we certainly will keep our promise 🙂
We entered the enormous service station, super happy to have made already about half of the way without even a minute of waiting time and the prospect of making it to our destination before the night comes. We went to the bathroom and to charge our phones and were about to go and routinely check the dumpsters, when a woman who was sitting next to where we charged our phones, drinking coffee asked us, if we were hitchhikers and if so, we wanted to come with her, because she needed company to not fall asleep. We happily accepted. Outside it was raining really strong and windy, another quick shower. She was a nice, lively person, talking a lot about her dogs, her family and politics, we enjoyed the conversation, although it was difficult for us to follow her with her strong english accent and quick talking.
We came to the last service station before she had to leave the motorway and she dropped us off. The sun came out again and more magical things happened. We asked a random person “Excuse me, where are we?” waving with our map. And found out that we already came way further than we had imagined, close to Preston. Liverpool and Manchester already behind us. It´s funny sometimes, service stations all look the same, could be wherever. Wait a minute! My friend suddenly realized he had left his mobile in the last drivers car where she had offered him to charge it. Shit!
We still had no problems keeping our spirits up as we found the probably best dumpster in England: loads of fruits, cakes, sweets, juice, even Guacamole, praised be the Avocado-gods 🙂 and there were 10 bins full of it.
We came back to the sunny spot where we had left our luggage only to find our previous driver smiling and waving my friends mobile phone. Still cheering, we dragged two heavy supermarket-bags of lovely healthy food to our next spot where we tried writing a sign. This time we almost finished writing it when a young family of three stopped laughing at us and wondering about the two heavy bags from the expensive supermarket. While we where chatting with the buddhist driver and his wife their little baby with whom we shared the back seats continuously tried to eat my unwashed hair while I tried my best to prevent him from doing so. He kept on playing with my hand and his feet then, laughing until he fell asleep clinging onto my hair again. Super nice conversation with our drivers, we described our magical journey through England, they couldn’t believe it. They have been traveling wide and far over all continents and told us about having come to live in the Lake District for its good energy. This is why all the poets and writers go to this place. He recommended us to visit the buddhist temple there, too. “Where in the Lake District are you headin?”, – “A small village, called Bouth, you probably don´t know it, it’s just 5 houses and a pub”, “aah, Bouth? wow, what a coincidence, we are living in the small town close to Bouth!”
We left the motorway, and drove around green hills, marshland, small stone walls, sheep and their lambs in the fading light of the setting sun. Another curve, another hill, more old farm houses, stone walls covered with moss, massive old oak trees just about to turn green, a small creek, bluebells in the forest. They drove us all the way to the pub, the White Hart Inn in Bouth where we said goodbye with big hugs “We´ll most certainly meet again somewhere, sometime” 🙂
We felt super happy, we made it all the way. The place looked like the Hobbitland. We asked for the “address” in the pub (no street names, only house names) and went to surprise my friends aunt.
As perfect ending to a perfect day we got invited to the White Hart Inn by my friends aunt and her girlfriend and because we weren’t sure what to order and new to the village they gave us to try every regional beer of their selection in little shot glasses. We are lucky bastards 🙂