We’ve been reading loads of travel blogs lately, and one of our favourites is the lovely Danie at likeridingabicycle – she’s hilarious, ballsy and shares our love for bright hair colours, hitchiking and random adventures (so, you know…this isn’t a slight on her at all, merely a counter-opinion) – but this post about female travel safety struck a chord with both of us.
Firstly, we agree with the overall sentiment (and pretty much all points 3-6 but Susan has some small issues with 3 and 4 too) – women SHOULDN’T BE AFRAID of travelling alone or otherwise because of men, however it is a sad fact that there are dangers to women that don’t apply to men on the same scale (not to negate the fact that men are assaulted by women too and same sex assault occurs, but this post is speaking about our experiences as women from men). Still, the threat of being sexually assaulted SHOULDN’T STOP YOU FROM GOING ANYWHERE. The same way as you shouldn’t let the fear of being mugged stop you – these things happen everywhere including your home town (so location isn’t even a variable in this equation) but as a woman generally on this planet in this time, there are dangers that you must be aware of. Like we say – don’t live in FEAR, just be aware that the rules are sadly sometimes different for you.
So here’s where it gets grim (we usually prefer to keep this blog cheerful and upbeat, but bear with us – it will get to a positive ending we promise!). Both of us are rape survivors (we knew each other for years before this, it’s not the thing that brought us together) . For both of us it happened in our hometown, minutes from where we lived and for both of us the perpetrator wasn’t anyone we knew – it was a random bloke prowling the streets at night. While we can’t say that the ordeal hasn’t changed us in some way, if anything it has resulted in us both being MORE willing to take risks, talk to more strangers, and to visit places that your everyday person might label “dangerous” (see our first hitchhiking adventure doing Glastonbury on not one pound, where all of our friends tried to stop us and we lied to our families about it as they were so worried but we felt protected by “lightening doesn’t strike 3 times man!” and it really was spectacular and supported our faith in humanity (even though we did get wanked on in a privet in Swindon, see Ride #2 in the former link, we just found that the most hilarious thing ever and didn’t feel even slightly unsafe)). We’re both determined that one horrible experience and a couple of horrible people won’t spoil the world for us, nor will it spoil us for the world. We refuse to be scared -we will NEVER be scared! Even at the time, what both of us felt was ANGER and not fear. Anger that someone felt so entitled to take it upon themselves to hurt and violate us without any provocation.
Which leads us back on to the post in question and point number 1:
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!
Ride #9 – Canny hippy couple and their mate So, we were squidged up in this tiny car with three other people and all our respective stuff, headed for the entrance to the festival. “I’ll take you as far as I can” said the girl who was driving, “but we’re going to the staff entrance, so they might not let you through…but it’s closer to the gates than the normal entrance.” We looked at each other, daring not to get over hopeful. What a stroke of luck that the couple who had picked us up were actually working as medics at the festival. WHAT if…we could manage to sneak in the staff entrance in their car? We both saw the other one thinking the same thing and immediately shook our heads. “it’ll never happen. There’s no way its going to be that easy.”
As we approached the staff gate, the stewards on the door gave our new friends a smile, a wave straight through the gate and a familiar “Oh, it’s you lot again! You’ve been coming and going all bloody day!”. The second steward also gave us a friendly hello, and stuck a sticker on the windscreen to say that there were five people in the car. We couldn’t help but get maybe, just a little bit, excited that we were going to get all the way in.
Went through another three security checks, all of which waved us straight through and made some sarcastic comment “Have you lot had to go to Tesco for some more cans AGAIN?”. We were now about ten yards from the actual entrance to the festival with one more little cluster of stewards to go before we were home and dry. We daren’t even speak what we were thinking out loud, although Susan kept nipping Jill’s leg and grinning maniacally at her. We just didn’t dare believe that it really could be THiS EASY?
The group of stewards on the corner all smiled and waved us through, as the others had done…all apart from one. One girl – small (obvious Napoleon complex), looked about twelve years old, with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp – rapped on the driver’s window and barked “You do know, that you’re not ACTUALLY allowed to come and go though this entrance after three o’clock? There’s a CURFEW.” The lady driving apologised and said that she wasn’t aware of this, and there followed a good few minutes of her being barked at by said little harridan. “Could I see all your tickets please?” Shit. Oh well, it had all been too easy. We hadn’t dared to think that we would just be able to sneak in with them, but it had seemed like that was what was happening. We could taste the festival! Cathy (not her name, I just think she needs one as I am bored of typing “the driver” and the like, plus she did look like a Cathy) also got chastised for bringing us in. “You mean you just picked up some random strangers?” “They were hitching! We were going this way!” “…to the STAFF ENTRANCE?”
We made some muttered excuse about our friends being inside the festival with our tickets, and that we had to get to one of the gates to ring them and get them to meet us. Evil steward bitch escorted us out of the car park and pointed about 3 fields into the distance. “You need Pedestrian Gate D”. Ok then. With no better ideas and nothing better to do, we headed off to the pedestrian gate to see what the score was there. We stopped for a break at the side of one of the car parks where you could see loads of the festival from. The Pyramid Stage! The Dance Tent! It was all there STARiNG at us BUT WE COULDN’T GET TO It!!!
Nonetheless we had a toast of pinge, to congratulate ourselves on making it the 314 miles, chilled on the grass for a bit and had a spot of lunch.
We wandered off to the gate, which was swarming with stewards, security, barbed wire, gun turrets*etc. Not a chance, dirty pants. You’d have better luck breaking out of Auschwitz. There were a few people hanging around outside discussing their failed entrance attempts but, well… they were all a bit chavy so we decided not to talk to them. So…we decided to try the other gate. On the way across the car parks we ended up chatting to a couple of lads dragging a trolley full of cans along the grass. It turned out that they were trying to get in with no tickets as well, but apparently had friends inside that were getting them wristbands and meeting them outside, and said that if said friends could get hold of another two then they would ring Susan. At that moment their “mate inside” rang. “Yeah, we’re just on our way…what? You’ve got four? Well that’s cool cos we’ve just met these two lasses…” Susan and I start getting a bit excited again. “Oh, they’re all blokes tickets? Ah, never mind.” Bugger. Apparently all the tickets had photos on them and it was doubtful we could pass as men, especially as Susan had forgotten to bring the moustaches. Susan: “Have you not got any girly looking mates?” They said they would still try once they got in, and gave us a cigarette and can of cider each. *not really.
We found a nice spot in the corner of one of the car parks to drink our cider, smoke our tabs and have a swig or two of pinge (which made Susan vom violently into the hedge) and made a mental note of the location as it was out of the way of the surveillance and you could hear one of the stages really well as it was just over the wall.
We continued on our merry way to the next gate (after stopping to explore some troll tunnels, which didn’t lead anywhere but back to the car park, and left us with numerous barbed wire cuts and nettle stings), which was even more secure then the first. We met several groups of people walking round with long faces after buying wristbands from randoms, only to find that they couldn’t get in without the accompanying paper tickets. Things weren’t looking too good. There followed a couple of totally GRiM hours of walking around aimlessly in the rain, as the stewards were stopping to ask anyone just hanging around and asking to see their tickets. Cue repeating our same old “our friends are inside with our tickets and their phone is turned off so we can’t get hold of them” routine, which they blatantly didn’t believe but left us alone for the time being. We came across a group of emo kids wearing silly hats that were obviously also trying to find a way in and had a bit chat on with them whilst making tasty sandwiches (fake ham, beetroot cheese, salad and pasta sauce. Scrummy.). A couple nearby who had already previously been stopped at the same place were just being escorted off the premises so we started to panic a bit. “So what are you lot doing”, we asked the emos. “Erm, we’re just going to give up and go back home. We only live round the corner.” Charming. We’d only been talking to the lad who’s house it was for about an hour, told him all about the trials and tribulations we’d endured to get down there and yet not even a little offer of “oh you can camp in my garden if you’re stuck”. How rude. Although in his defence he probably still lived with his mum.
So, to avoid the same fate as the unfortunate couple, we decided to go and pitch Raphael in our little dark corner that we’d found earlier, have a few drinks, go to sleep for a bit and maybe try our luck first thing when the sun came up, reckoning that at 4am there would be fewer stewards around, and those that were there would be getting a bit sleepy and thus easier to sneak past.
We were foiled again however, when we got back there and realised what we had missed during the day – it was right under a huge floodlight, and what’s worse, security were constantly patrolling the car parks with flash lights and moving anyone on who looked like they were settling down for the night. There wasn’t anything for it, we would just have to get out of the site and find a farmer’s field out of the way to camp in. However as we were trudging through yet another boggy car park (in my old converses with holes in, I may add, that were taking on water and mud like no ones business. Jill was getting a bit worried about the likelihood of getting trench foot.) we bumped into three lads. After some unsubtle hints from both parties that we both had no tickets, nowhere to camp, and were all pretty much fucked, we decided to join forces in the hope that there was strength in numbers.
The lads were canny. Wallace was 29 and seemed to be the one with all the ideas and all the drugs. Liam was 23, had the beer and tabs (and not to put too fine a point on it, was rather hot) and Laurence was a random scrawny blonde 19 year old who was off his face on ketamin and had pretty much nothing to add to our mission apart from…well, apart from nothing.We told them about a place we had found where the fence leading to the wall was broken, and we reckoned we could get over the ditch and over the fence (we had dismissed this as too dangerous earlier but the consumption of lots of pinge made us forget this, plus with the aid of a few strapping lads, we were sure we could all get over no bother).
They liked our plan, and seemed quite confident once we got there. After climbing over more barbed wire and nettles, and leaping over ditches to get to the wall we concluded that yes indeed, if we stood on someone’s shoulders we could easy all get over and haul the last one over from the other side. Laurence and us retreated to the bushes to lay low and sort our things out ready to throw them over the wall, as Liam and Wallace went to have a quick peek over the wall just to see exactly what was on the other side. They came back looking very disheartened. “What? Are we moving then?” “No way.” “What?” “That there wall…it isn’t even THE REAL WALL. There’s that wall, and 20 foot away on the other side is the ACTUAL six metre fence that people have been talking about. Even if no one catches us in between, there’s no way we can make it over that.”
Heavy sighs all round. We heard a rustle in the hedge and all immediately threw ourselves on the ground and tried our best to hide. “it’s ok” came a voice, “I’m one of you!” And thus we acquired another member in our covert Glastonbury infiltration Unit. Nathan was in his early forties, and your typical charve-cum-ibiza hippy pill head that proudly boasted that he had been coming to Glasto for fourteen years, and never paid for a ticket once. Awesome. A veteran. In fact, he had even brought along a bloody grappling hook. “A fucking grappling hook! Mint! That’s just what we need!” but alas, it turned out that he had just nearly been at the top of the wall, got caught by security and had to do a runner leaving his rope and hook attached to the wall. Merde.
So we all regrouped in the hedge and had a joint and alcohol break. The weak lemon drink actually made the pinge drinkable (we had used our empty cider cans as receptacles). Nathan told us of his best bet to get in, which was a few hundred yards away where there was a portaloo and only one steward who kept fucking off every now and again for twenty minutes at a time. If we all dragged the portaloo over to the wall (when the steward was away) and got on top of it, then we could all surely get over no problem. It sounded like a plan. Nathan and Wallace went on a reconnaissance mission to scope it out, and the rest of us lay low in the hedge, our job being to time intervals between the security trucks coming around. We had a bit of a drink and a giggle, and Liam said that he would dish out his fair share of blowjobs to stewards in order to get in, which was bloody sporting of him we thought.
A while later (we had timed the last few trucks and they were EXACTLY twenty-three minutes apart. Freaky.) Nathan and Wallace came legging it back over yelling “Move! Move! Come on! We’ve got to go!” A startled Jill, Susan, Liam and Laurence grabbed all of our stuff and ran like mad across the fields after them, hiding behind trees and hay bales and commando rolling around trying to dodge the security lights whilst giggling like dickheads. It turned out that the place where the portaloo was, was directly under one of the security towers and they had heard someone on a walkie-talkie warn people that two men of their description were hanging around by the wall and chased them. We found another safe hedge, drank more, smoked more and contemplated our next move.
Susan had got a text from Joe at this point, asking how it was going and if we had managed to get in yet. We replied that we hadn’t managed it yet, but were having a bloody hoot trying. PS The only drink we had left was the pinge. A message came straight back from Joe. “Don’t drink that shit. Seriously. Don’t. SHiT. NO. Don’t drink it! It’s gone seriously wrong. If you want some palinka I’ll bring some back from my next trip to Romania but PLEASE don’t drink that.” Which came as we were dishing out swigs of pinge to the lads. We were slightly concerned at the urgency of his message, as we didn’t want to feel responsible for the 2009 Glastonbury Pinge Massacre. We had been drinking it all day though, and felt totally fine…in fact we were starting to increase the pinge to weak lemon drink ratio as we couldn’t taste it anymore. Although, this was us… it is possible that all the other people we fed the pinge to are now dead.
We decided after this brief interlude that the best plan would be to head for the stone circle, as there were no gates there, just loads of forest at the other side of the fence so we were less likely to run into anymore pesky stewards. Lots more jumping over fences, across ditches (including one that Laurence nearly fell in, which would have been bad as it was about twelve foot deep. Luckily Jill and Liam caught him by his t-shirt and dragged him out. Oh and Susan spilt the pinge all over herself as the lid came off the bottle in her bag mid leap) and getting nettled a lot. Laurence by this stage had had a load more ketamine, and was getting lost trying to find his way out of the hedges unless he was holding hands with one of us. He was bloody useless, and Liam, Wallace and Jill suggested we should abandon the dead weight as he would only jeopardise our chances of getting in. Susan being the sweetheart that she is, refused to leave the poor lad K-ing his tits off in the middle of a wood somewhere. So we ended up settling in a nice hidden corner of a farmer’s field, having more drinks and smokes while Liam and Wallace went off to see what they could do.
Nathan was getting quite frustrated at this point. “Guys! Guys! We had a plan! What happened to the plan?” “Erm. Ketamin happened.”
We didn’t really expect them to come back for us, and they didn’t…so either they got in or they got caught…or more likely they just enjoyed chasing each other through the woods. It was getting pretty late by this point, so we decided to pitch Raphael in our quiet little corner, have a few more drinks and turn in and try again tomorrow. Susan and Laurence were both game for having a last ditch attempt before we gave up, but Jill had smoked way too much weed (Nathan kept rolling joints and promptly passing out so she just smoked them) and Nathan was as we mentioned, passed out.
We got comfy in Raphael, followed by Laurence who Susan didn’t want to leave lying in a muddy field all night. We tried to wake Nathan up and get him to squeeze in as well, as it had started pissing it down, but he just grunted that he was fine so we let him be. We all passed out after lots of giggling at Jill getting annoyed by the lack of continuity in the camouflage pattern of the tent.
At about 6am, while we were enjoying a particularly nice sleep, there came a “knock” (in as much as you can possibly knock on a tent door) at the tent door. “Open up! Open up!” Someone unzipped the door and we were all a bit dazed and didn’t know what the hell was going on. “God! It stinks of booze in there!” “is it three females?” “Er…no, two females and a male” half-awake Jill corrected them. “Everybody out now! Come on! You’re trespassing!” So we staggered out, bleary-eyed and still wasted, with no bloody idea as to what was going on. We were greeted by three policemen and police woman, the latter of whom searched through all of our stuff (literally ALL of our stuff…). Laurence was taken away in one of the cars, as I suppose they must have found his ketamin stash.
We, however, had NOTHiNG whatsoever on us, but the police woman was determined she was going to find something she could do us for. “And just WHAT are these safety pins for?” “Erm, in case my clothes fall apart” “And just WHAT were you planning on doing with this CABBAGE?” “IT’S FOR THE LiZARD!” we chorused back. Susan had given Jill some cabbage for Bogie from her parents house and she’d forgotten to take it out of her bag. Plus, what dubious and illegal activity has ever taken place involving a bleeding CABBAGE? “And just what are these?” she continued, holding up a small bottle of paracetamol that Susan had bought from Boots in Thailand. “Paracetamol!” “So what’s all this then?” She pointed to the foreign writing on the bottle. “They’re from Thailand. It’s in THAI!” “So are you saying I don’t speak Thai then?” “Well, you obviously don’t, otherwise you would know that that says PARA-CET-AMOL!”
It was all getting to stressful for Jill at that point, so she said “Balls to this, I’m going for a piss.”, wandered about three metres away and weed in a hedge. The policewoman got very agitated. “What’s she doing? Is she having a shit?” “No! I’m just having a wee man!” “ Jill! Have a shit! She’ll have to search through it!” yelled Susan “I’m trying! I just don’t need one!” “You know” continued Susan, “I really wish I needed a shit, just so she would have to search through it.” The policemen were trying to conceal their hysterical laughter at this point.
Jill was also having serious bother trying to pack up Raphael, in her wrecked, half awake state and being pressurised by the evil policewoman* she couldn’t manage to get him folded down properly. She can normally manage it in about ten seconds! Evil woman threatened that we would have to leave it if we couldn’t get it down in the next minute. We managed to get it flat, but not small enough to fit in the bag and since we pointed out that as we were hundreds of miles from home, being dumped on the main road in the middle of Somerset with nowhere to stay, we might possibly…kind of…maybe…NEED our fucking tent to sleep in, she managed to wedge it on the roof rack of the police van with a harsh “well we’re not stopping if it falls off.” Just to be a bitch. Because that is what she was. *All policewomen are not evil. Especially not you Karen 😉
They made us sign a caution (in Susan’s fake name, and Jill’s real name as they had found one of my bank cards so there was no denying that), warned us that if we got caught again on site then they would prosecute us, and escorted us to the entrance of the site in the van. We have some blurry recollection of trying to help someone push a campervan that wouldn’t start, as the police were threatening to tow it off site and the poor hippies were getting all in a tizz.
From there, we wandered off down the road in the rain, still half-wrecked and yet again at a complete loss as to what we were going to do. There were lots of people in similar states staggering around, but they were all heading back to camp at the festival. After some aimless wandering (and drinking a bottle of corona we found in a hedge with a slug on it) we decided we might as well try and head home, or at least far enough away to be able to pitch our tent and get some sleep, and managed to hitch a ride from another Polish truck driver who could take us to the A37. And guess where we ended up…. Rodney fucking Stoke*. We found a nice little field with very long grass where Raphael was practically invisible from the road (we were still paranoid the police were looking for us) and passed out, very cold and wet.
So there you go. The unfortunate tale of our attempt to break into Glastonbury had failed so far. Find out in the next instalment if we ever got in and if we ever got home again!
*Oh, I forgot to mention Rodney Stoke before. It was the name of the village in Somerset we were stuck in for ages. That and bleeding Bradley Stoke. We have pledged never go to anywhere that ends in “Stoke” ever again.
So… On Saturday morning we woke up in our tent, on our lovely little patch of grass by the M4. it had been raining all night so unfortunately, due to us just popping the tent up and getting straight in it the previous night instead of pegging out all the right bits, we were a bit soggy. At about noon we managed to blow off the cobwebs of our hangovers, put the tent away (amazed Jill remembered how! Remembering that time when she first bought it, when Danny insisted on putting it up in the living room and couldn’t get it down again so it stayed there for a week until she YouTubed a video of some bloke showing you how you do it?) and recommenced trudging up the side of the motorway in search of our next lift. After doing a convincing impression of a human fire extingiusher, vomming up foam and partially digested fake ham into the hedge. One of our classiest moments, we feel. Unfortunately we were fettled by the appearance of a police car that pulled in next to us and told us we weren’t allowed to be on the motorway, so we explained that we had been dropped off here (“by a friend” of course, not some random Polish truck driver) and told that the services were just up the road so we were trying to get to them. “Nope nope” said they, “The next services are 6 miles away, and you can’t stay on the motorway so you have to leave at the next junction”. So we continued our mooch up the grassy verge, with tons of lovely hitching opportunities (mainly hippies in campers yelling “Want a lift to Glastonbury?!” ) which of course we had to decline, pointing out the patrol car crawling along the hard shoulder 100 yards behind us. Which incidentally was very rude, as if they were following us to the next junction they may aswell have given us a lift there. Quicker and easier all round, we reckon. Even the roadwork man in the truck putting the cones out offered to take us to the services but we couldn’t get in (which would have been a pretty random vehicle to add to the list) due to those pesky rozzers.
The next junction brought us to this random little place called Bradley Stoke. it was generally very posh and there was not much hitchable traffic going past, so we decided to find the nearest shop and buy a bottle of cider with the £1 Jill had found in her pocket (our hangovers were kicking in big style, and both of us had hideous DTs going on), have a spot of breakfast and assess the situation. We found an Aldi about fifteen minutes walk away. We also found an injured pigeon that Susan wanted to take to the vet. “We could call an ambulance and get them to take the pigeon to Glastonbury?” “Yeah, the special Pigeon Ambulance. And I’ve totally heard that there are some very fine specialist travelling Pigeon Hospitals at the Glastonbury Festival! it’s a flawless plan.” We got a bottle of cider anyway, used the facilities in the local pub (which was very posh, think they thought we were going in there to shoot up. in fact once we got outside, we noticed the sign saying “Although we do not insist on a shirt and tie, smart dress is essential.” ) and found ourselves a nice bus stop in which to have some breakfast, as it was far too good a neighbourhood for them to let vagrants like us picnic on their nice bits of grass. Susan had to open the cider on one of those metal electricity boxes as we had no bottle opener. After a very classy bus stop breakfast of cider, fake scotch eggs and bananas we got back on track and headed to the big roundabout just off the motorway, hoping to catch someone going back onto it. Which after a while, we did.
Ride #5 – 2 Random Blokes Our first car of the trip (Joe doesn’t count, as we’ve already mentioned, due to his tiny penis) contained 2 blokes that were probably about our age, who felt sorry for us standing pitifully by the road and ignored by snobby Bradley Stokers, and agreed to take us to this big shopping park a few miles down the road, where apparently there would be many more opportunities to get a lift in the direction we were going. Susan was a bit wary of getting in with TWO blokes, but they seemed canny, were scrawny enough for us to take them out if they tried anything and we REALLY wanted to get out of FUCKiNG BRADLEY STOKE!
The dropped us at said retail park, where we chose a strategical spot on the roundabout leading to the motorway, next to the traffic lights so people would be stopping and held up our classy wrapping paper sign, trying our best not to look too insane. We were there a while, but then a car stopped for us.
Ride #6 – Bridget Bridget was an awesome, lovely lady that had been to the retail park to buy her son a birthday present and ended up buying a zillion pairs of shoes from the Dune sale instead. She lived in Cheddar and said she would drop us there, which would mean we were so CLOSE to Glastonbury! We told her all about our crazy plans and our worldly adventures and she seemed genuinely interested in our daft anecdotes about hooker bars in Cambodia and the like. The journey whizzed by, and she dropped us in Cheddar with clear instructions on exactly where to head next and even gave us a couple of quid to buy some cider. Which we absolutely refused as it was nice enough for her to give us a lift all that way, without her giving US money for the pleasure! But she was insistent, and we gave in, thanked her loads and said goodbye.
Cheddar was a lovely place. in fact, this trip has caused us to have a bit of a crush on Somerset. We really wanted to visit the Gorge and the Wookey Hole, which were on the way, but ended up hitching before that point. Bridget had told us to head for a place called Wells, where everyone went before Glasto for their beers etc, so we should have no problem squeezing into someones car who was heading that way. She said it was quite a way but “walkable” and went through lots of nice little Somerset villages, so off we went.
A bad thing about Somerset, however, is that they don’t appear to believe in pavements. Nor do the cars take account of this when honking and scowling at you for walking along the roadside. We had to hold in many urges to shout “Well where the FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO WALK THEN???”. We concluded that everyone in Somerset must go everywhere by car, and not walk anywhere at all. We attempted a bit of “active hitching” but to no avail, so kept on walking until we found a nice spot for some lunch next to a humerous sign advertising “Steve’s Horse Manure! it’s the best! With wiggly worms!”. Made fake ham and beetroot and red onion cheese sandwiches, and had some of the dubious pineapple, as it looked like it wasn’t going to last much longer before turning to mush. And of course, some vodka and coke.
We hoped that at some point we would come across (in one of said quaint Somerset villages) an offy, from which we could purchase some cider with our Bridget money, but alas none was to be found. We had tried in Tesco in Cheddar, but everything was too expensive. it was one of those Tesco Express doodahs, so only sold the big brand things. So we kept on trundling up the imaginatively named “Wells Road” until we were absolutely knackered as it was all uphill and totally scorchio. Found a nice bit of grass by the road in a prime hitching position, sunblocked ourselves, made a new wrapping paper sign saying “Pilton” (as Glastonbury isn’t actually in Glastonbury, its in Pilton) and attempted to get us our next lift. We were there ages before a nice bloke took pity on us.
Ride #7 – Nice man who’s name we can’t remember We were so happy when this guy stopped for us, as all of the locals must be sick to death of being invaded by Glasto revellers and we were starting to think that there wasn’t a snowballs chance any one would give us a lift and were just about to resign ourselves to walking all the way to Wells. He dropped us in Wells, near (duh duh DUH!) Lidl! There was much rejoicing, as we were sure we could get cheap cider from there! We ended up managing to get a 2 litres of dry cider, cloudy lemonade and cheap cola (for use as mixers for the pinge, as we had drunk the last of the vodka with dinner and were now down to pinge as our last booze. Seriously a dire state of affairs.). Result.
The bloke who had just dropped us off had pointed us in the right direction for Glastonbury. “Straight down that road” , imaginatively titled “Glastonbury Road”. After getting a photo of Jill posing like a wanker under a road sign saying “Glastonbury 5 miles”, we set off. We managed to flag down another car, not too far down the road who agreed to take us to Glastonbury town.
Ride #8 – Bloke with the REALLY HOT car who’s name we can’t remember (we know, we forgot our note pad to record things on the way, so it’s down to our poor old pinge-addled memories) it wasn’t hot as in “hawt”, it was just really, really warm. We were totally cooking but you feel guilty opening other peoples car windows if they are obviously comfortable enough with the temperature to leave them closed. Especially if you’re hitchhiking! So we roasted our way to Glastonbury town centre, chatting about how lovely Somerset is, and how we hadn’t seen any charvers so far. No seriously, even the teenage mothers were nicely dressed and well spoken!
He dropped us in the town and pointed us in the direction of Pilton. Can you guess what the street was called? Yes, “Pilton Road”. The unimaginative Somerset street names had now become a bit of a running joke. We headed off that way, on the non-existant pavement, trying to hitch a ride from anyone going past and after about 10 minutes of walking a car stopped. We didn’t initially think they had stopped for US, as when it went past, the car looked full but no, bless them they all just budged up and made room for me, Susan and all our stuff. They were going to the festival, and offered to take us right up to the pedestrian gate.
Yup yup. We made it…but now for the REALLY hard part. Getting in! Stay tuned for Episode 3!
it seemed as harmless as any of our other stupid ideas (you know…”lets hold a rock festival in Joanna’s mam’s field”, “let’s sail to the moon on a raft made out of old Blackberries”), and as likely to become reality…but when Jill, Susan, Lolly and Joe got drunk last Wednesday night and decided “let’s hitch to Glasto tomorrow and try and get over the wall!” , two out of four of us woke up the next morning still determind to make it happen.
Well, we say “morning” – Jill was up morningish after being summoned to the pub by iain, and since she hadn’t heard from Susan by about midday assumed that she had forgotten our “right we’re leaving for Glasto at 9am tomorrow” pledge, and thus resigned herself to a nice afternoon in the King’s Arms beer garden putting the world to rights over some real ales with her favourite hairy amigo…however, Susan rang iain at about 3pm (Jill had yet again lost her phone drunkenly the previous night), asking if she was still up for it. Jill, having topped up last nights beer with the few pints that afternoon, concluded foolishly that indeed yes, she was.
So we met up in Savannah, accompanied by Lolly, iain, Joe and Aaron, all of whom we tried to persuade to join us on our expedition but due to work or homosexual commitments they declined. For the best really, thinking about it, as who the hell would pick up Joe or Iain if they saw them trying to hitch a ride at the side of the road? Plus the more of us, the less likely we are to fit in anyone’s car and they seemed reluctant to agree to dish out their fair share of blowjobs to truck drivers, should it come to it.
At this point, Jill was still less than convinced that we were actually going ahead with it. But then of course, most of the pub (mainly Grant, Kay, Liam, Damian, Willis and Nick Hell) started piping up about how we were talking shit, would never dare do it and would still be sitting on Savannah’s settee this time tomorrow. Saying thus to Jill and Susan is on a par with calling Marty McFly “chicken”.
So, we drank up, said our goodbyes, called everyone tossers, apologised to Nick in case we didn’t make it back for his wedding reception the following day (still thinking we would end up standing by the A19 for an hour, get bored and come home) and set off for Jill’s to get supplies. Grabbed Jill’s lovely camo pop up tent (now affectionately named Raphael, due to it making us look like a kind of ninja turtle when worn on your back), filled a beach bag full of what booze was left lying around the flat, sleeping bag, change of clothes etc. then to Susan’s parents’ to scavenge food. Her parents seemed less than impressed with the plan (although we were a bit economical with the truth and told them our friend was giving us a lift and we weren’t hitching. Uh-uh, not us. We’d even drafted in Joe to pick us up from theirs and take us to the A19 so it would be convincing.) but nonetheless gave us a fine selection of foods to take, and her dad thrust a tenner at us bless him. At about 8pm we set off in Joe’s car. And so it began…
The Mission: “Get to Glastonbury and into the festival on not even 1p”
The Rules: You are not allowed to spend any money on getting down to, or into Glasto. You are allowed money on the way (Susan had that tenner from her dad and Jill had a couple of quid change in her bag) but it’s only allowed to be spent on drink and must be spent BEFORE reaching the festival site.
Our Supplies: 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, 1 punnet of grapes, 2 packets of fake ham, one bag of fake sausages and fake scotch eggs, 2 lumps of cheese, 1 bag of pasta sauce, 1 loaf of bread, 1 bag of asda fine cut salad, 3 bananas, 4 satsumas, 1 bag of suspect looking pineapple bits, an assortment of dried noodles/pasta/couscous sachets (although we had no means of making them, just assumed we would befriend someone with a stove or something), 1 small bottle of vodka, 2 litres of coca cola, 1 bottle of palinka (aka “pinge” – dubious Romanian moonshine that has been sitting in Joe’s fridge for about a year and we think has dissolved most of the inside of the plastic waterbottle it’s been kept in and is now probably carcinogenic and generally “wrong”), 8 cans of stella, 1 bottle of cider, 10 Lambert & Butler, directions to the Glasto site printed off Autoroute, 2 rolls of xmas wrapping paper and a marker (for making our signs to hold by the road)
Joe ended up taking us as far as Leeds services (we think? Somewhere down there anyway…) after getting as far as Scotch Corner and deciding to go a bit further (methinks he secretly did want to be part of our adventures, mainly for the chance to suck lots of trucker cock …) where we sat on a nice bit of grass (services always have nice bits of grass don’t they?) for a spot of dinner, a few cans and to make our first “GLASTO” sign out of wrapping paper to hold up. We were amazed when it didn’t take that long for our first “proper” ride (Joe doesn’t count, as he has a tiny penis).
Ride #1 – Jim Susan had just gone to the loo in the services and Jill was happy chilling with a cigarette, half heartedly waving our sign around when lo! it appeared! A beautiful baby blue, VW camper van. He MUST be going to Glastonbury too – surely? As Susan came out, Jill yelled “SUSAN!! CAMPER VAN!!!” and we both waved a lot and held our sign up. The bloke inside seemed to think about it and then agreed to pull around after he’d got his fuel. Turned out he wasn’t going to Glastonbury, but would be happy to take us as far as Northampton. Score.
The camper was amazing too. we want one! Jill was slightly concerned about the very rattley door that took about five good hard slams to close properly (you all know her and car doors…), especially when Jim tried to reassure me with “Don’t worry, it’s only fallen off once!”. We ended up all squeezing in the front seats as it was so noisy in there once it was going any speed, we couldn’t hear each other talk and were getting bored of yelling. Jim was lovely, and we had a good crack on talking bollocks. We attempted to entertain him singing Tenacious D and the Shirehorses, and the poor bloke didn’t even stop the car and boot us out, as any sane human would. He even mentioned that his mate in Northampton was also going to Glasto, and when we got there he would ring him and see if there was room in the car for him to take us. Unfortunately, he had already set off when he rang, but the thought was there. So, some amount of time later (no idea, wasn’t paying attention), we arrived at the services outside of Northampton, thanked and waved goodbye to our new friend Jim and his sexy camper and collapsed on another nice bit of grass, all radiant with confidence of our fabulous hitch-hiking skills, to consult our map and plan the next move.
Our smugness was shortlived however, as it took us over an hour to get the next ride. All of the trucks were heading the wrong way and all of the cars and vans were normal folk, wary of picking up hitchhikers, especially crazy (and by this stage quite tipsy) hippy girls. So after some pacing around and pondering of the map, we decided to wander round to the slip road for the road that we should be getting next and see who we could flag down there, as theoretically they would all be heading the right way. Result…
Ride #2– R**** M*** Bloke (can’t remember his name and he said not to mention the company he worked for if we wrote an article about it, as he would get fired for picking up hitchers) Fuck me! Our first truck!!!!! Whooooot! And a lovely truck it was too. I do believe it even had Hot Rod flames on it. The bloke was going to the depot in Swindon, so agreed to take us there. He was also very canny and we talked a load of crap, gave him relationship advice, sang along to the radio and learned many a useless piece of info such as “Did you know, that the woman carrying the coffee tray on the cover of “Breakfast in America” by Supertramp, was John Travolta’s mother?”. Fascinating. Susan also mentioned how nice and non-pervy everyone had been so far, to which Jill added “Yeah! We haven’t had to blow ANYONE yet!” and he gave us a very confused look and mumbled that he wasn’t like that but he wouldn’t mind a little kiss from one of us. Which of course he didn’t get. Well Jill wasn’t going to, as he said that he thought she was older than Susan. Admittedly, he did say Jill looked 22, and Susan 20…which considering we’re 29 and 34 is pretty good going, but still…it’s the principle. He dropped us in Swindon somewhere anyway, and pointed us in the right direction for the next road to hitch on so we trundled off towards a dubious looking flyover.
Susan was mid-wee in the hedge when Jill heard her whisper loudly “Jill! There’s someone else in the hedge!”. “Where?” “in the next cubicle!” So she peered through the hedge to investigate, and couldn’t see anything as it was pitch black, but heard rustling. “Yeah! I think there is a bloke in there… I think he’s having a wank!” Susan had a closer look along the hedge “Yeah! He so IS having a wank!”. And even with us staring and giggling he didn’t miss a stroke! So we continued on our merry way to the motorway sliproad, laughing about the absurdity of it all. Yes, it probably wasn’t the most desirable situation to be in, but we were high on crazy adventure adrenalin and vodka, and hey – we were hitch-hiking for god’s sake. Being wanked on in a privet while having a piss is NOTHiNG!
So anyway, we found our next road* and within ten minutes or so, had flagged down another big truck.
Ride #3 – John
John was a lovely older bloke, who picked us up as we reminded him of his daughters who were “about your age” (who blatantly weren’t, as he was telling us about their ponies and scholarships and things) and he didn’t want to see a couple of young girls standing around roads at this time in the morning (think it was about 1am by then). Told us all about said daughters, who to be honest sounded like total spoilt madams who’s poor Dad worked all hours long distance driving to provide them with lap tops and horses and private schools. Nonetheless, Susan and him had an indepth chat about horses, during which Jill probably fell asleep. He dropped us off as far as he could in the right direction, where we promptly got totally lost trying to find which was the right road to get us to Bristol and ended up in Lydiard Tregoz, which we found hilarious for some reason. Turned out that was the correct road anyway and soon found another truck (although Susan reckons it was more a large van).
Ride #4 – Adul the Polish man Adul was an old Polish bloke who didn’t speak much English who agreed to take us near Bristol. We sang a lot of songs at the poor bloke whilst finishing off the cider and stella, and as he couldn’t understand us we drunkenly whittered on about boys and sex and the like. He dumped us on the hard shoulder somewhere along the M4 and told us the next junction was just round the corner and there were services there. It wasn’t and after an hour or so of tramping alongside the motorway (illegal, kids. Don’t do it. in fact don’t EVER do ANYTHiNG me and us and our friends do.) the sun had come up, it was about 4.30am and we were exhausted, so we popped open the tent on a nice bit of grass between some electricity boxes on the verge by the hard shoulder, made fake ham sandwich, toasted to our progress so far with vodka and coke and a swig of palinka (*shudder*) and snuggled up in the one sleeping bag, as Susan had forgot hers.
Wandering in search of a nice loose egg, your favourite idiot broads abroad embarking on an yet another enchanting voyage of self-discovery (not the kind that's in those arty french films with subtitles and hairy biffs). Join us in our journey!