We woke up on the Saturday morning (well, probably closer to afternoon given the time we actually got to sleep) in our dewy, well concealed camping spot in Bradley Stoke and managed to pull ourselves around, treated ourselves to a luxury change of clothes and some breakfast pinge before packing up our gear and heading on out to the main road. We were in two minds whether to go back to the festival and give it another go, one mind being Susan’s who was determined to get in at all costs, and one mind being Jill’s, who having never been to Glastonbury didn’t know what she was missing, and having given her real name to the fuzz was concerned about any future run ins as we’d been threatened with proper arrest if it happened a second time (they only gave us a caution). The walls were too high, security was too tight, and we were running low on supplies so after many persuasion attempts Susan grumpily gave in and agreed it would be wisest to head homewards.
We found ourselves with two options – head down the “main” road (a small dual carriage way with a hard shoulder to walk on) towards Bristol, or the smaller country road towards Bath. There was a disagreement about which one we should choose – Jill being in favour of the larger option (nowt new there – huh), thinking we’d stand a better chance of stopping a truck, and Susan declared that the smaller road looked like there were more cars going down it. To settle the dispute we decided to stand there for a couple of minutes and the road where the most traffic turned off would be the winner. The small road won, and we set off full of purpose, holding our new wrapping paper sign that said simply “NORTH”. The spurt of traffic going that way when we were making our call must have been a rare occurrence as after 20 minutes of walking, we hadn’t seen one car pass by. After 40 minutes, we realised that we could no longer see any BUILDINGS as far as the horizon, only fields and woods. We were slap bang in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere. Susan had a great brainwave to text her uncle, who lives in Clifton in Bristol and see if he fancied meeting up for a pint (not mentioning that he would have to get them in as we had not 1p) and then maybe he could take us to Bristol to continue our journey from there.
We decided to stop for a spot of brunch and to take stock and come up with a plan. Yes, in hindsight the main road would have been a better option, but we’d come so far down this road that we may as well push on and keep going. Worst case scenario, we’d walk to Bath (which was about 7 miles away) and hopefully manage to get a lift on of the main roads coming out of there. It was a scorching hot day and we had no liquid refreshment other than the remaining pinge, so were glad to happen upon a little village that had a garage with an outdoor tap that we used to fill up one of our empty pop bottles with water and try to persuade the elderly couple working there to take pity and give us a lift, to no avail. We plodded on for another couple of miles, with the few cars that did pass by ignoring our bedraggled presence at the roadside, holding our tattered “NORTH” sign. Still no response from the emergency uncle.
We had another sit down on the grass, a couple of cheeky swigs of pinge (that we could now knock back like pros – good job, seeing as we had run out of weak lemon drink to use as a mixer), chuckled at the hopelessness of the situation and tried to think what to do next. “No one seems to pay any attention to our “NORTH” sign!”
“Well, who doesn’t know where NORTH is?”
“But, you know on the signs on the motorway when you are in That The South? They don’t just say “NORTH” do they? They say “THE NORTH”.”
“Surely adding “THE” onto our sign won’t make a jot of difference?”
We thought it was worth a try, and got out the marker and amended our sign.
Ride#10 – Nice bloke (whose name we have forgotten) from Bath.
Within five minutes of walking along, holding up our new improved sign, a nice gentleman pulled up in his car and agreed to take us as far as Bath, where he lived. Successful deployment of “THE”! We thought this was absolute hoot and told our driver as much who was also amused. It was only 10 minutes or so on a very scenic road to Bath, where after driving us on a small tour of the town he dropped us at a busy looking junction that looked like a prime hitching location. It was indeed just that, as within a short time we had acquired our next ride – the best one yet!
Ride#11 – Dave and his World War II Jeep
We were so ecstatic when a bloke in an amazing old WWII jeep stopped and picked us up! He was in full army fatigues and was on his way home from a battle reenactment (where he had done all the pyrotechnics) and said he could take us as far as Swindon but it would take a while as he couldn’t take the jeep onto the motorway.The jeep, named Bob (you’ll see why in a moment), was truly a thing of beauty and had no roof (and very low sides), Dave told us all about its history and how it had been used in the TV series Band of Brothers, as we enjoyed a leisurely, scenic ride on tiny country roads through the beautiful hills of Wiltshire. We were so glad that we didn’t go on the motorway! It was a lovely part of the journey and Dave was a really friendly, interesting chap. As we approached Swindon, we recalled our previous experience in the privet, evoking some fatherly concern from Dave about our safety. He dropped us off and gave us a bottle of coke (bless him) and we thanked him for the fabulous ride.
He’d dropped us at another likely looking junction, so invigorated by our awesome open-top jeep experience, we skipped off down the hard shoulder of the dual carriage way, waving our trusty “The NORTH” sign with gusto every time a truck approached.
Ride#12 – Sexy Slovakian Peter and The Starship Enterprise
It wasn’t long before a massive truck indicated and pulled in along side us. We were overjoyed as it had been a while since our last lorry. We clambered into the cabin which was incredibly flashy, with screens and buttons and lights and shiny things everywhere – it was indeed like being on the bridge of the enterprise. If the enterprise was captained by an incredibly hot Slovakian bloke called Peter. He was going as far as Birmingham, so we picked a suitable junction en route for him to drop us at. Peter was great craic and enjoyed hearing about the antics of the past few days, making us rollies while steering with his knees and much to Susan’s excitement, let her drive the truck (well – steer it anyway, there were no gears or pedals involved although to this day she does insist that this qualifies her to drive an HGV). We got the pinge out and had a swig, and Peter asked what it was.
“It’s Romanian Palinka”
“Could I have some?”
We passed Peter the bottle and he took a healthy chug (while Susan steered) without so much as a grimace, and declared “good stuff!”. Meanwhile, Jill had been raking through her bag for something or other and had come across a partially smoked joint from Nathan the night before, that she must have stashed for Ron.
“Is it ok if I smoke this?”
“Is it a joint?”
“Yes – is that ok? Sorry!”
“No problem. Could I have some?”
Crazy Slovakian! We were having such good craic that we weren’t paying attention to our location on the Satnav and had completely overshot our proposed landing point and were fast approaching Birmingham!
“Is not a problem”, Peter reassured us, “I will drop you at the next services”, which he did, and after an emotional farewell we headed straight for the nearest nice patch of grass for some nibbles and drinks before planning our next move.
Stay tuned for the next episode, in which Naam proves to be our undoing!