The morning we left the Lake District, my friend´s aunt dropped us off at a some BP station on the road going to the motorway before work. Before work means way too early for anything, cold, windy, not really day, yet. It was 7:30. We stood there trying to wake up, sticking out our thumbs, when after only about 10 min a familiar face turned up, It was Richard who came, the guy who had brought us to Bouth a week before (one of those people you accidentally meet again somewhere else, I´m sure I could go to india and meet him one day on the street. it´s the energy). We didn´t even recognize him at first because this time he didn´t wear his Hippie clothes, but a suit and tie and was with his work car. He took us to the roundabout at the highway onramp, where there were lots of cars, as it was rush hour, the drove very fast, most of them south bound, going to work, and it not really a good place for them to pull over and stop. But we couldn´t really go elsewhere.
To pass the time, we kept on reading our book while standing with our thumbs out. We had to wait pretty long. about 1,5 hours, but listening to the story from the book made the time pass fast. Luckily the sun came out :-))) Ice cream wagons passed by, caravans, mobile homes, trucks transporting kirmes-rollercoster-things…. we kept on reading, standing, smiling at drivers, waiting… After a Little long, but nice wait finally someone stopped. “where are you going?” – “We´re trying to go to Edinburgh, but if you could take us just to the next Service Station on the motorway going north, that would be very great already!”.
– “you´re lucky today, I´m going straight to Edinburgh”.
He told us later, he had been a Hichthiker when he was younger “but nowadays you never see any Hitchhikers around here anymore” We had very nice conversations, about his job, Scotland, the Independence referendum and about the vacations in Germany and Austria he is planning. That day he started driving from somewhere near Birmingham very early in the morning, and normally never uses this motorway exit, we were waiting, but somehow he had to go off the highway for a moment right there. Where else but hitchhiking do you get the opportunity to talk to someone working in the embassy being invited for coffee? The scottish accent is the best! At this day he was on a trip to climb another one of the about 280 Munro’ s hills (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munro,) having done already some 150 of them.
We arrived in Scotland, we couldn’t believe we really made it so fast! and it was still sunny!! 🙂 But we soon found ourselves a bit lost in the big city, after so much time in the countryside, so many tourists, noise, cars . Somehow it was difficult to get into contact with people. Also we didn´t have money for a hostel, and not enough time to go hiking. The official campsites were expensive, too and difficult to get to know locals.. So, running around lost, thinking about what to do and where to go, we ended up taking a nap in a small park/garden under a blooming pink tree. Later we tried skipping but had no luck.
We followed the suggestion of our driver and went to look for a place to sleep in Mussleborough, a green nice suburb northeast. Soon we found a river and some trees and fields where we put the tent. No luck skipping in Musslebourough, too, unfortunately. The second day it was rainy, disgusting weather, though not too cold to camp as our last driver had warned us. We met a friend from home and spent the day at the national gallery, and later picnicking under our pink flower-tree in the park with bought wine and the cheapest food.
Our friend left and we went for a walk in the cold to explore the area. The beach turned out to be even uglier than the one in Ulverston making it to be named the ugliest beach I have ever seen! (at least with low tide and rain and if you, as me, dislike bad weather and the color grey. In summer maybe it’s different). On the way back we finally found a good dumpster with lots of bread and tomatoes, which rose our moods a lot.
During the night I dreamt about an animal shouting and screaming, but it didn´t really bother me, until my friend woke me up panicked and I suddenly realized it wasn´t just a dream, there was some big animal running around the tent making loud noises, it was agitated, afraid, hungry, or fighting or even hurt. … we didn´t know what animal it could have been, but it was big. after some time it left and – at least I – went easily back to sleep. Later we found out it must have been deer.
The following morning we had to leave, because we needed to be back home 4 days later. We started in Mussleborough, packing our stuff, wet from the rain, walking around direction Edinburgh we found a nice highway onramp and after very little waiting time, a helpx volunteer, smelling of swine stables took us to the next village. We were now on a different route from how we came (not the big motorway to Glasgow, but an A something going straight down south), we thought it would be fine and were optimistic, until it started to rain again and our waiting times extended. The weather made me go crazy. After a while a girl of about our age picked us up, she was a crane driver which was funny, she explained us everything about it. She dropped us off in Galashiels, which the ugliest scottish small town.. at least I came to this so negative conclusion after 3 hours of waiting in cold, rainy, trying every possible direction.. wanting to be anywhere but here…. It seldom happens to me that I get desperate while hitchhiking, I guess it was more due to the cold and greyishness of everything than to the waiting.
Luckily every bad experience goes by, sometime. So in the afternoon a guy stooped and took us some kilometers further. He told us that many years ago he had been a volunteer in the Flintwood eco-camp a alternative way of life long before the big hippe-eco thing became popular. He invited us to his flat in Edinburgh which we found very nice, and even made me reconsider my plans of never again going that far north in rainy seasons. After half an hour waiting in the wind our next ride was a social worker who worked all around the region of the borders. Very interesting conversations, too. He dropped us off right at the border Scotland – England which is on a big hill and you can imagine- freezing cold and very windy.
I couldn’ t understand how it was possible to have strong fog and strong wind at the same time. We had to lean against the wind to not be blown away. We really asked ourselves how we were going to survive if we wouldn´t manage to leave the place in the next hour. Walking to the next village impossible it were about 20 miles. Cars passed by ignorant of our situation. It was frustrating.
Our hands and faces got red when we entered the warmth of the next car. A nice old italian couple, of 80 somethings, picked us up. We drove the country roads because they are more beautiful than the big ones. Indeed the landscape was very nice, yellow fields, green fields, horses, lonesome trees, black clouds, old brown stone walls and the sun that showed itself again before going down.
They left us in Newcastle on the first service station on the highway where we had cold fries and tomatoe-cheese sandwiches fresh from the dumpster 🙂 There we relaxed a bit in the warmth solving crosswords in the free-newspapers and then decided to try getting further south as long as there was still some light. After a short while a guy picked us up, at first he seemed nice, just a little over energized, talking all the time and jumping from one topic to another. He turned out to be some crazy racist “the island will sink because of all these immigrants from Romania..” . We tried to get out as soon as possible, ,but he insisted in driving us even further than his destination was. It frightened me a bit, because I was afraid of him getting angry when we said we did absolutely not share his views. But he dropped us off nicely and even gave us some weed. We found ourselves on a nice big gas station with big red sofas in the costa coffee open all night and nice workers telling us it was no problem to sleep there, we even could use the microwave to make ourselves porridge and tea. I never had slept so well on a service station.
The next morning at 8 we got our first ride from a weird guy that didn´t talk, but was nice. The sun came out and I felt really good. The next ride was from a lorry driver who was a gliding-competition champion, I didnt really understand, but I think he flies small airplanes, and travels the world going to events and competitions related. The next stop was at a place with super- dumpsters. Jackpot! I ate 5 chocolate croissants and one chocolate muffin and with my last coins bought a coffee. Lying in the grass in the sun I made my peace with the bad luck the day before. The absolute sugar-flash! Five minutes later we were in the car with Helen from Oxford who was a great person to talk to! She explained us the university system and told about her travels to India. There was much traffic so we had time. We hugged Helen close to Oxford and soon got our next ride, a military man who took us to Portsmouth. The sun was about to go down and we almost made it to our destination. Although the day had been much better than the one before, in Portsmouth we still had to wait about an hour at the roundabout and at least 5 drivers stuck out there middlefingers 😦 .
But at last a couple with a big jeep had sympathy. They were so cool, living in a hippies caravan with they’ re children they had no fixed place, they just slept on the beach or wherever they felt like that day. They took us all the way to Brighton even though their caravan was parked 20 miles elsewhere. We gained faith in humanity again.
In Brighton our friend from the hitchhiking family picked us up and took us to the beach! 3rd beach and definitely the nicest of the ones I have seen! It was the perfect end to the long journey. I felt really relaxed, watching the turquoise water go dark and the lights of the houses turn on… and the seagulls.
She almost had to carry us to her home, so tired were we, there she made us the best food I had since long ago and gave us warm shower and bed. Thank you! It was a very good decision to go to Brighton before leaving the Island. The city seemed so different to the rest of England, so full of young people, artists, students, alternative social centers… I regretted not having more time for Brighton, but who knows, maybe I come back one day.
– to be continued –