Friday 20th November 1992
Photo session in Student Union.
Adam Ahmad takes a photo of me and
Lizzi, and I take one of him and his partner, Liz(!). I take off some of
my 19 layers - Lizzi thought I looked like the Michelin man!
Howell and Lizzi
Lizzi and I nearly register at Student Union, when Lizzi reminds
me I need a NUS card in order to get a ferry discount. I get one.
Register at Student Union, after Lizzi rushes off to buy a LIPSYL
for our forthcoming chapped lips.
Starting hitching on Princess Road.
Get first lift with a "A.A. Griggs" lorry which is going to
Cornwall (he's going home after delivering to a brewery). He'll drop us
off at "Hilton Park Pavilion" services in Birmingham, on the M6. He
advises us to get dropped off at Toddington Services, just North of M25.
Then need to go through Dartford Tunnel, where we'll pick up the A2.
Don't go through London!!!
Arrive at Hilton Park services. Wander around for a while, asking
lorries and cars, but no luck.
While holding up our signs at the exit, a red car stops with a man
who's going on a "duty visit" to his mother in Hendon, North-West
London. He's travelling down the M6 but is tired, so he intends to have
a kip in a service station on the M1 later on. He will drop us off at a
service station on the M1, either Toddington, or one before it. He's
come from St. Helens, Merseyside. He is addicted to the radio and keeps
going from channel to channel. He has a broken left front mirror, and
when asked if he's had an accident, he says, "I don't worry about the
mistakes in my life. It's far too late for me to be showing any signs of
maturity. Oh, don't worry, you're in perfectly safe hands." At this
point, he takes his seatbelt off (on the M1!) and starts eating a
chocolate "Fudge" bar. During it, I put his seatbelt on for him. When
talking about maturity, Lizzi says "Cool" a few times. He finds it
interesting that keeping a log of our trip. He's done a bit of poetry in
his time. He admits that his "Companion" went to a French
hypermarket, and to Duty Free to buy whisky while on holiday once and he
thought she was stocking up for Christmas, where in fact she was
"cleaning her teeth with the stuff". She said, "Whisky is not for
buying, it's for drinking." Oh dear.....
We pass Toddington Services, and he offers to drop us at some
other services before the M25. He's a nice man, a very nice man, a very
very nice man.
We get dropped off at "BP" offices near the M25. We saw a sign
saying "M25 London Orbital 5 miles", and we all said "SHIT!" He said he
thought there was at least one more service station before the M25. But
we knew different. We get dropped off near a roundabout, then we walk
into the "BP" grounds. Lizzi tells me that he was "a complete crank".
Apparently, when I was asleep, he kept almost crashing into crash
barriers and saying "Shit!" Lizzi recalls him saying "Fuck!" once too,
for no reason (apart from the crashing theory). While I was asleep, he
told Lizzi, "I have to keep changing channel, or I'll fall asleep and
crash." Then he said he was joking and Lizzi thought to herself, "I
think not!". I visit the bush for a piss, and so does Lizzi!! We then
make our way to the road to the M25, near the roundabout.
NAME: Mari Gilbert.
Get a lift from the roundabout near BP. The man offers us a lift
up to Toddington Services. Lizzi asks him where he's going and he says,
"Nowhere in particular" - he was bored sitting in the house! Bizarre!
He's interested in motorbikes. He says he's driven while dropping off to
sleep too. Seems sane! Different to the last one...... His wife contacts
him by CB, and he says, "Oh! I'm just taking a couple up to Toddington".
NAME: J C Rogers.
Get a lift from Toddington Services with a couple who are going to
Ramsgate (?). Apparently, it's a port approximately 20 miles away from
Dover. Also, it goes to Dunkirk!!! (so what?) But probably not Calais.
We want Calais, so he tells us that after we leave the M25 ring road
we'll be going along the M2, which forks off to Ramsgate and Dover.
There's a service station on the M2 before it forks so we can get lifts
to either Ramsgate or Dover from there. Excellent!!! They can speak lots
of French, and regularly go away for weekends in France. They play
classical music and Meatloaf, and drink cans of Perrier water!!
NAME: Anne Rue (gave address too).
Arrive at "Farthing Corner Pavilion" services about 38 miles from
Dover. Meet some weird hitchers from London University/College (one
white guy and a Chinese girl). It's taken them over 6 hours to get
there, from the other side of London - whereas in that time we've
travelled all the way down from Manchester. Lizzi gets her photo taken
with them. The guy's name is Simon Peacock (gave address too).
After seeing two fellow MASS Rag hitchers who've been stood
outside the service station for hours, we are just about to enter the
service station and I see a man with a moustache who looks like a lorry
driver on his way out. I ask him, "Are you a lorry driver going to
Dover?" He says, "Yes." and we leave in his lorry. We say a jammy "see
ya" to the unlucky MASS Rag hitchers first and wave to our London
new-found chums. On the way, he tells us he's not a lorry driver!
Weirdo! And we're not hitch-hikers!!! - we're traffic wardens I suppose.
He claims to be a soldier. Lizzi says, "Totally weird!" He says we
should make it for the 8pm Dover-Calais crossing.
He drops us off near Dover Castle. Supposedly, it's 5 minutes'
walk to the port, but............
We finally arrive at the port. We ask around for ticket prices.
The prices are 23 pounds/32 pounds/44 pounds for 3 day/5 day/open
returns to Calais or Ostend. The special Rag Dover-Calais cheap return
is 18 pounds for a 3 day return. The lorry driver mentioned some weird
"non-landing" ticket for 1 pound where you supposedly go
Dover-Calais-Dover, buy duty free and don't get off at all. But could
(and people do) get off at Calais anyway as they don't check your
tickets when you get off. Some lorry drivers do this, then on the way
back, so that they get a free trip back to Dover, they get really drunk,
which makes the police put them back on the ferry for free. But, in
fact, for non-lorry drivers it costs 6 pounds or 12 pounds, depending on
the time. We see Adam and Liz again - they wave only, then rush off
again and vanish. We see the Chinese London student I photographed with
Decide to go to Ostend because:
(a) We can sleep for 4 hours on the crossing.
(b) We could never get to Italy and back from Calais in 3 days, so
better off trying for Germany or Holland from Ostend. We buy the tickets
- 46 pounds (23 pounds each). We phone Otto briefly.
Go to the departure lounge after handing in our ticket and getting
plastic passes. We weren't asked to show out passports at passport
control - they just saw the "British Passport Cover" and said, "That's
ok"!!! I take off some layers, and wander around barefoot. Lizzi phones
home and brushes her teeth while I talk to a hitcher from Salford
University. I tell her about Ostend's all-night pubs and she is
Message to board ship. We get on a shuttle bus, get taken to the
ship, and hand our plastic passes in as we board.
Board ship and find comfy seats. Lizzi dozes briefly. Leave Dover.
Lizzi sleeps on the floor for the whole trip. I buy box of 8 bars of
nutty chocolate and scoff it all. I talk to the hitcher from Salford
University, and her long-haired partner. I go round tons of people,
asking them if they're going to Germany. Lots of people were, on coach
trips. Also, coach trip to Amsterdam. Eventually, I find an English man
from the army who is stationed in Germany, and will take us virtually
ANYWHERE in Germany along his way! I have a drink with the Salford
girl's partner (he buys it), and sit with them in the bar and visit the
deck. I return to Lizzi, and fall asleep too.
Saturday 21st November 1992
03.20 (Euro time)
Arrive in Ostend. Lizzi wakes me up, and I am shocked, as the
people are all getting
ready to leave the ferry, and we are not with the Englishman!!! I
remember him saying
that he's got a white Ford Fiesta, so we look frantically for his
car in the car deck. Luckily we find it! Phew! We leave the ferry with
him. [Belgian time from now on]. We travel for many hours, through
Belgium, a corner of Holland and then through
Germany. I sleep for practically the whole journey, and Lizzi stays wide
awake. The driver tells us that the German shops are closed on
We arrive in the outskirts of Bremen. We need to get a train to
the city centre, but we have no German money. We go past a closed
Sparkasse (still in the car with the Englishman). I ask a German man if
there's an open bank nearby - "Nein." I ask a woman if there's a
"Bauernhof" (accidentally, instead of "Bahnhof" - railway station)
nearby. She looks at me freaked out and says "Bauernhof????", and I say
"Der Zug" (the train) and make hand movements. She eventually
understands what I'm on about, and there's no train station nearby, just
bus-stops. When I return to the car, Lizzi tells me that "Bauernhof"
means "farmyard". No wonder the German woman looked freaked!
He drops us off at Bremen Flughafen (airport), because there's
bound to be a bank there. I take a photo of the Englishman carrying
Lizzi in front of his car, then he leaves us.
NAME: M. Dobb (gave his address too - he's stationed in nearby Verden -
he wants me to send him some photos). I change 33.50 pounds into German
money. We consider taking the tram, which leaves nearby.
We find the tram stop, and see a tram with "Toys 'R Us" on it going
past us. We get on a tram, and decide to go to the town centre (the
Stadtmitte). No-one asks us to buy a ticket or checks to see if we've
got one, so we travel for free. Not bad, eh? Everywhere we go, people
seem to stare at us. Do we look funny or something? Lizzi talks to an
old German woman on the tram (I think she fancies her!). We arrive in
the town centre, and decide to take lots of photos of "typical Germans".
I approach people, asking them where I can buy a sausage, and Lizzi
takes photos of me with them. One posh old woman wearing a fur coat sees
Lizzi taking her photo and gets stroppy and walks off. Lizzi also takes
a photo of a German dog, for no reason.
We see loads of stalls in the street selling sausages and other
takeaway foods, but I don't fancy these places - I say we should look
for a sausage somewhere else. We see a stall selling ornaments, one of
them being one of a few animals playing musical instruments - it comes
from an old story - "The Musicians of Bremen". We see some excellent
cake shops, and I take a photo of Lizzi standing in the doorway of one
of them, with bread things hanging above her head.
We see a Spanish restaurant/cafe, and Lizzi says we should go in there
for something. But I am determined to find the German sausage, since we
are in Germany! We keep hunting around, and eventually, I find a sausage
stall. We both buy sausages, but Lizzi is not very impressed with me
dragging her around everywhere.
That soldier man told us the shops are only open half day today, so we
decide to look around some while we still can. We find a huge department
store called "Karstadt" which closes at 1pm. We look at the ornaments,
cuddly toys, calendars. We split up at times so we can have a longer
look at things. I buy two funny furry camels, with harnesses (for only 6
DM each - just 2.40 pounds!), and a beautiful calendar for my Aunty
Nancy. I spent absolutely ages choosing the calendar, as there were so
many beautiful ones to choose from - and they were all quite expensive.
We are told to leave when 1pm comes.
We see signs for a rock concert that Lizzi would have liked to see, but
we've missed it sadly. We see signs for a "Holiday On Ice" show that's
on at the ice rink. Lizzi suggests that since the shops are shut, we
should go ice-skating! We look for it. We find a tourist information
centre (I collect loads of leaflets of course), and Lizzi asks for
We head in that direction, but before we get there, we find a nice park
with a duck pond. We go in there, put our stuff down on a bench. Lizzi
says to me, "Shall we look at Mr. Sausage now?" So I get him out, we
both say, "Excellent! Excellent!", then Lizzi gets her baps out!!! As if
that isn't shocking enough - she then goes on to feed them to the
ducks!! I'm very protective of my baps, and want to keep them all for
myself. Lizzi's are getting dry and horrible, so she feeds them to the
ducks. Most of the time, when Lizzi throws out a bap bit, some of the
bigger birds grab for it, and push the poor little brown ducks out of
the way. This annoys Lizzi. She develops a tactic of throwing some in
one direction so the big birds go for it, then throwing some more out
for the little ducks. We spend a while here. It's very pleasant. The
camels and Florence (Lizzi's purple bear) enjoy themselves too, on the
bench. I take loads of photos.
Eventually, we leave the park, and head for the skating rink. It's a
very strange looking building - so I take a photo of it. There's
actually two rinks - the professional one where "Holiday On Ice" is to b
performed, and the one we're going to.
We get in there, and hire our ice-skates. I have terrible trouble
putting them on, and even when I do get them on finally, I can't stand
up on them. The blade on each skate is so thin, it's really hard to
stand up on the normal floor, let alone the ice. We put our bags in the
It's a really cool rink (no pun intended!); there's lots of youngsters
skating around, and there's a huge video screen at the one end of the
rink. Guns 'N Roses are playing ("November Rain" I think) shortly after
we get in there. Also, around the rink, there's food take-aways and
bars. I get on the ice, and cling onto the side for my life! Lizzi
skates around confidently. When I pluck up the courage to go for it, I
fall flat on my back. Lizzi laughs. She tells me to try again; I get up,
move a little bit, then fall on my back again. I look like Charlie
Chaplin, or some other slapstick comedian. Lizzi keeps trying to help me
to skate, but over and over, I keep falling over. I'm probably the worst
person there. Everyone seems to be looking at me. Lizzi looks at me,
grins inanely, and says, "Go on, try again." She's having a whale of a
time, watching me make a fool of myself. I find it quite funny too
myself. I hobble to the cloakroom, and get my camera. Lizzi takes a
photo of me clinging onto the side, and one of me lying on the ice.
Everyone around me is looking down at me when she takes this photo.
I continue falling over, and getting wet patches on me. I feel quite
chilly now. I eventually manage to skate a little bit, but then fall
over. I find myself just walking on the ice, foot by foot, not really
skating (sliding). We find two English-speaking guys - and they're
soldiers at Verden barracks (where that guy who gave us a lift to Bremen
is stationed!) too. They try to get me to skate. One of them holds my
one hand, and Lizzi holds my other, and I skate for a bit, then fall
Finish ice-skating. Take our skates off, and get our bags back. I
ask someone if he knows how we can get to the motorway to Osnabruck. He
doesn't know, but he asks someone else for us. We eventually get some
good directions, and leave. As soon as we leave, I feel very cold. I've
got wet patches from the ice that go right through my layers and through
all my trousers, and the wind is blowing through them, making me very
Lizzi takes a photo of me outside a German sex shop, then we get a tram
back into the town.
A buy a "Fisch Mac" from McDonald's. I keep the wrapper for no
Leave McDonald's and try hitching outside it, around the corner.
We decide to move much further on, to be near the start of the motorway.
The motorway is nearby, but the signs are for "Bremerhaven" and
"Altenburg", so we're not certain we can go this way - might be the
wrong motorway! Lots of cars appear to slow down, but not really.
A van stops. The Indian driver opens the sliding door, and tells
us to get in, before he even knows where we're going. We're spooked, but
get in nevertheless. The van is heading towards the motorway. He speaks
a bizarre language (it IS German, but weird anyway), don't really know
Leave Bremen. See a sign for "Hamburg, Hannover and Osnabruck".
Think "Oh great!" All the way from where he picked us up he keeps
offering to drop us off at petrol stations in town, but we keep saying,
"Nein. Eine Tankstelle an der Autobahn bitte." He mumbles something,
then later on asks if we want another petrol station in town. We explain
again, he says "Ja!", then still keeps doing it. Is he on drugs or
He offers to drop us off at an unlit, empty, creepy-looking car
park by the side of the motorway where there are some toilets. He does
this because the nearest "Tankstelle an der Autobahn" is 50km away and
isn't going that far. We say we cannot get off there because it is
illegal to hitch on a motorway - the police would not like it. He sees
me writing notes in the log book, and thinks we are the police. He asks
us "Sind Sie Polizei?" He is very worried. We'd have no hope of getting
a lift at an empty car park that no-one uses in the daytime, let alone
at night. We argue (discuss) with him, he huffs and puffs, then he
offers to take us back to Bremen. Back at square one!
Get dropped off back where we were picked up at 21.15. That driver
was a very weird and sinister character. We really thought he wanted to
kill us - especially when he told us to get out in that dark car park!
We start hitching again. Lots of cars appear to be slowing down and we
think they're going to stop. But they don't. Are they doing this to wind
Lift with hippy-like man who I think is an old tramp, but Lizzi
thinks he's a trendy young hippy student-type. He turns out to be
30-something. He's very stubborn and factual (the "typical" German - I
find him disturbing). He says we were standing at the wrong side of the
road (in the log book, I'd written "river" not "road"! - were we in a
dingy, and this was our lifeboat?)
Get dropped off at a "blue" garage. Get told that the motorway to
Osnabruck is round the corner.
Picked up by a nice man offering us a lift to Osnabruck motorway.
He says he hasn't been to England for a long time. Lizzi says he's
welcome to stay with her any time - tart!
NAME: Rudiger Behl (gave us his address too, and we gave him ours).
We say bye to him. We start hitching. It starts to rain!! That's
all we need.... We stand under the shelter of the petrol-station roof,
to keep dry. It's really really cold. We ask people who stop here if
they're going towards Osnabruck, but everyone says no. We sit down on
the concrete outside the petrol-station shop, and the intense cold
penetrates all of our layers, as we're not moving around much. We really
are freezing our arses off. We ask the man in the shop (at the window -
the door's locked, can't go inside) if there's a youth hostel in town -
he says there is one. So we then ask everyone if they're going near to
the youth hostel in town and if they can take us to it, but of course
no-one is. It seems really hopeless here - and it's sooooo cold! We
wander around the back of the petrol-station, and find a motel-type
place. Reminds me of the motel in "Psycho" - a long single-storey
building with rooms all along its length. We ask at the petrol-station
how much it is to stay for the night, and it's far too expensive for us.
We see a man and a tarty woman come up to book a room for the night.
They look like a really odd couple, and Lizzi and I suspect she's a
prostitute he's picked up for the night!
We wander down the road a bit, and find another petrol-station, and we
can go into the shop of this one. We stay in there for about 10 or 15
minutes, as it's nice and warm there. I buy some sweets and a bottle of
pop. We then leave (really warmed-up), and go back to the other
petrol-station. We see some young girls wandering around here too. They
get some plastic crates to sit on, so as not to have to sit on the
concrete. Very few cars stop here, and they always say they're not going
into town - nowhere near the youth hostel. It could be a long night
ahead of us!
Sunday 22nd November 1992
A car stops at the petrol-station, with a couple inside. The man
gets out to buy some petrol. Lizzi asks the man where he is going. He
says, "Hamburg". We say we need a "Tankstelle an der Autobahn" near
Hamburg and he tells us that no lorries are allowed to move again until
10 pm on Sunday. We tell him we could hitch with cars anyway and Lizzi
asks if he can take us to near Hamburg. He looks awkward, speaks to his
wife, clears the back seat, then we leave with them. We feel like
they're annoyed and don't really want us in their car - we pressured
them into it (but do we care?). Lizzi says, "Do you think they're
annoyed?" - I reply, "Yes!". I offer them a sweet - they refuse coldly.
See sign "Hamburg 130". We sleep for the whole journey.
Arrive at a service station near Hamburg called "Raststatte
Hamburg - Stillhorn" (the
word "Raststatte" is represented by a "R" in a circle) &/or
"Insel an der Autobahn. Lizzi has
approx. to wake me up in the car - the wife finds it amusing. We both
use the toilets (Lizzi is
freaked by a small baby-changing mat in the baby-changing room -
she thought it was a mattress!?! - strange girl). We find a lovely black
leather settee (Lizzi says, "Oh wow! Look!"). We sit on the settee and
Lizzi falls asleep instantly. I go soon after.
I wake up, and find Lizzi still fast asleep. I notice there's a
cuddly toy grabber machine behind our settee. I take a photo of sleeping
Lizzi, then outside of the Hamburg service-station, and a sign on the
Lizzi awakes, and when Lizzi awakes all her friends awake too -
Florence the Bear gets up and stretches her arms, Percy the Penguin gets
up and flaps his wings, and Curly the Cow stands up and gives out a
hearty "Moo"!!! But enough of Lizzi's animal friends...................
She says she reckons the couple last night were annoyed with us having a
lift with them. She says now that she doesn't care if they were anyway.
She says she remembers hearing cheesy English-sounding music as we fell
asleep on the settee early this morning. As she says this, the cheesy
songs abound again. Lizzi phones home and talks to her Dad. She says,
"Dad, we're in Hamburg!". He is very freaked - "What are you doing there
Liz?" As he says this the money runs out and Lizzi doesn't have any more
money to put in. She changes some marks into pfennigs and tries to phone
her parents again. She speaks with her mother briefly.
We remember that the man who brought us here (who hated us!!!) had a
small brown beard and that he'd said no lorries can go on Sundays until
10 pm. Argh!!! However, there's lots of people here at the services (in
the restaurant) - but they may be residents at the hotel or motel here
(there's both). It's weird, but we can see lorries going past! (How
come? It's Sunday for God's sake!) We notice that we must cross over the
motorway to head back south (then west to Osnabruck). At the moment,
we're facing north, towards Hamburg etc. I examine the shop. Lizzi and I
both get stones from the plant pot next to our settee, as souvenirs.
Lizzi and I look at Mr. Sausage for inspiration, then I get my
I start writing postcards. Lizzi tries phoning Mark again, but
still no reply. So she phones Otto, and tells him to try contacting Mark
at some time. Lizzi has a weird encounter with a man down at the lorry
drivers' shower room. It costs 1 DM to go into the shower room. While
Lizzi was looking around there, a man wearing just his bottom half of
clothing emerged from the shower room and shut the door behind him. But
he left his clothes in the shower! So he had to put another 1 DM in the
door again - but his money was in his clothes BEHIND the door! So Lizzi
lent him 1 DM, he opens the door, gets his clothes, and gives Lizzi he 1
DM back. Bizarre!
Lizzi and I eye up some German cleaning women, their clumsy chunky
shoes and their hairy legs!
I finish writing 7 of my postcards, and Lizzi goes for a shower
(armed with my Vosene shampoo, amongst other things...but enough about
those!). Before she leaves, she tells me to keep my hands off her baps!
Lizzi returns from the shower, dripping everywhere. We buy some
stamps (2 x 60 pf stamps per postcard. So I buy 7 x 1,20 DM = 8,40 DM)
and find out we can post them just outside.
We get a Hamburger......to take a photo of sat on the leather
settee. (Thought: In Winter, do Hamburgers wear sesame seed bap coats?)
Finally leave the black leather settee. Take a photo of it, with 2
Leave service station on foot. Ask where the postbox is - can't
find it. I buy a porn mag, a purple mouse, a Hamburg colourful little
plate and a Hamburg snowstorm.
Run across motorway (first of four lanes).
Make it to the other side alive! Look in this service-station.
We both buy "Bockwurst mit Pommes Frites"/ I buy it "mit
Mayonnaise". Lizzi buys it "mit Tomaten Sauce". The Bockwurst is huge,
long and very chunky. We get an Englishman to take
a photo of us. We look at our maps. We find out that the name of the
excellent service-station is actually "Welcome-Insel" (the company
name), which means "Welcome island". We also discover that the German
word for "service station" is "Raststatte" (as opposed to "Tankstelle an
Bockwurst and chips...
We leave our table and move over to the shop. I buy 8 postcards, 2
large postcards, a postcard unfoldable thingy, and a "Hamburg" straw
bag. We then ask people where they are going. Lizzi talks to a fat,
bespectacled Spaniard for a while.
We get a lift with a really nice German woman, who's got her young
son Okke with her. Lizzi sits in the front, and I sit in the back with
her son. He's making Christmas decorations out of card. We try to
explain that we're hitching in order to raise money for children. She
can't understand this - she finds it very surreal. It does her head in.
She's only going a short distance in our direction, but every bit helps.
NAMES: Barbara + Okke Klockenhoff (I'm really upset I didn't ask her
for her address).
Get dropped off at Hallenstadt Raststatte. We ask lots of people
where they are going. Lizzi finds a woman who is going to Munster. I
find someone going to Frankfurt. Also, I find someone going to
Osnabruck. Lizzi sits in the lobby of the Raststatte, while I ask people
outside. Lizzi calls me and tells me that two people have asked her (!)
if she wants a lift to Dortmund. It's further west than Munster, which
is further than Osnabruck. [Frankfurt is just far south, not far west at
We leave with 2 people in a "cool" car, to Dortmund. It turns out
that they are students at Dortmund University: a long black-haired girl
and a long-haired guy. She smokes a lot initially.She drives very fast! We ask
them why they have a feather on their window. They say they
follow it places (They speak good English). "Wherever the feather goes,
we go"! When we tell them about "Children in Need", I say "Kinder mit
schlechte Beine und schlechte Arme", and the girl driving does a strange
impression: she shakes her arms and legs around, jiggles her head, jumps
up and down and lifts her hand off the wheel. Very bizarre. [It's dark
now]. I tell them I have camels. They say, "Camels?" I get them out (the
camels) and they have a good laugh - "Excellent! Excellent!", we both
think to ourselves. I take a photo through the back window when we're in
a traffic jam, and this photo later turns out looking like it's a
bonfire (the collection of headlights all merging together in the
darkness, blurred by the rain on the windscreen). Lizzi and I take a
photo of each other, in turn, with the purple mouse on our heads (in the
back of the car!). They have a weird conversation about "Badehose"
(swimming trunks) and how people wear different clothes in the Summer
and Winter. The girl looks like Evs from Otto's house (Lizzi reckons it
is Evs - being weird). They smoke "Drum" tobacco. Lizzi is impressed,
and is offered some. The guy rolls one and she smokes it.
Get dropped off. Get the (unreadable) signatures of the two
students, and a photo of them stood in front of their car. We then go
into the Raststatte "Munsterland West" (cool name), and sit on some
stools just inside the door. We fancy the menus - they look quite good.
But we just want the MENUS literally, not the food. They've got nice
colourful pictures on them, and "Munsterland West" printed inside. It is
now pissing down with rain, but it could be worse. It's been like this
most of the way here. This place is the same type of Raststatte (same
company) as that one in Hamburg (with the gorgeous settee). I consider
having a shower, but when I go down the stairs to check them out, they
are all locked up. I consider buying ice cream, but it is too expensive
(not big enough portions for the money). We have a nice chat with 2
Germans - they ask about what we are doing.
We leave the Raststatte with a German and Politics teacher in an
excellent small Citroen car. [Firstly, we get him to take a photo of us
stood in front of a lit-up "Munsterland West" sign]. It's only 450 cc -
not good for going uphill or downhill. Just good for on the flat. Lizzi
sits in the back and falls asleep pretty quickly. The rain is really
beating down onto the window. He expected bad traffic, but it is ok -
just bad weather. I keep talking to him about the weather. We're both
pretty quiet for most of the journey. Lizzi wakes briefly - asks how far
it is, finds out it's about 25/30 minutes travelling left to go, so goes
back to sleep.
NAME: Detlev Schroder (gave address too).
Arrive at Tankstelle (with WC, shop & cafe) on way to Dusseldorf.
It's near Essen (just after Essen). We go to look for the cafe around
the back, but it is shut. We go into the shop, to have a look if there's
anything interesting there. Shortly after looking around, the
shop-keeper (who has a moustache) tells us that he doesn't want us
English hitch-hikers in his shop, keeping out of the cold. I tell him
we're having a look around. He gets really flustered. He's stood behind
the counter, lifting his hands in the air and talking (cursing) to
himself about us. He tells us to go into the cafe, so we look in there
again, but it's still shut - and he knew it! I go back into the shop,
and look around. The man has a big clipboard thing in his hand - he was
doing some kind of stockcheck when I came in, but then rushes back
behind the counter. He starts waving his arms around again and talking
to himself. Lizzi is outside, waiting for me, and trying to get a lift.
He says to me, "I am very busy, I cannot wait behind the counter for
you. I have lots to do." I said, "No-one's asking you to wait there for
me - I'll call you over if and when I decide to buy something!" I wave
for Lizzi to come in. He keeps going on at us.
H: "You don't know how to speak to your customers. You'll lose all your
customers if you speak to them like this."
Weird Man: "Shoo, shoo. Get out, get out."
L: "Yeah, you shouldn't be such a git."
H: "Lizzi, il est un cochon, oui?" (Lizzi, he's a pig, isn't he?)
L: "Oui. Let's go. I don't want to give him any of my money."
H: "Yeah, me neither."
Weird Man: "Shoo, shoo. Get out, get out."
We both leave, and we look at the man. He's waving his arms around, and
pulling the most amazing faces - he should be on TV! I decide to get him
back, and really piss him off. I decide we should really get a photo of
this man - he's so off his head (and "off my course"). I get my camera
out while he's not looking, and hold it right up to the window, ready to
take a photo of him. He turns round and sees us - we're both grinning
inanely at him. He practically explodes, pulls funny faces and before I
can get a photo of him, he comes storming out of the shop, with his
fists in the air. He comes chasing us, waving his fists. We really think
he's going to beat us to a pulp. He mutters loads of German, and the
word "Polizei" (police) crops us a few times. He looks at us, shouts
like mad, then goes back inside. We see him slagging us off to a
customer in the shop. Will he phone the police? If we get arrested,
he'll give his story, and us being foreigners, they won't understand us
or believe our word above his. We've got to get away from her as soon as
possible, before he phones the police. We see a car stopped, with two
girls in it.
We approach them. We ask if they are going our way - they are, but they
have no room for us. They point to the back seat, which is full of
sleeping bags and camping equipment. I tell them about the experiences
with the "German pig man" (as he's now affectionately called), and that
he may get the police. They realise we could get into trouble, and
really need to get away as soon as we can, so they cram loads of stuff
from the back seat into the boot, to make room. They tell us we'll have
to have sleeping bags on our laps - do we really mind? As long as we get
away, we don't care how uncomfortable the lift is.
Leave service-station with two girls. It turns out (surprisingly)
that they've been camping for the weekend, with a tent etc. They are
just on their way home. One of the girls is a student, and the other
works. We are incredibly grateful to them for saving us like this!
Arrive in Dusseldorf to drop off the driver's friend. We wave
"Tschuss", pas through some streets, then leave Dusseldorf.
DRIVER'S NAME: Ellen Pfemmings.
Monday 23rd November 1992
Arrive at small Raststatte at start of the motorway from
Dusseldorf-Koln. We go to the cafe there, and both buy a high vitamin
fruit drink (with 12 fruits!). We talk to the cook and she is very
We are in the shop, and Lizzi is buying some Lucozade I think. A
couple enter the shop, and I ask them where they are going. They say
they're off to Lille, in France. They go looking around the shop, so I
go back to Lizzi, and we argue over petty things. I go to the counter to
buy something that costs at least a few marks, but when I look in my
pocket, I only have 25 pfennigs. Lizzi says, "It costs more than 25
pfennigs, Howell". We get very niggly and stroppy with each other. In
the meantime, the French couple have bought what they wanted, and are
just about to leave. The dialogue between us goes something like:
L: "Look Howell, we're going to miss out on a lift. Will you ask if we
can go with them?"
H: "It's your turn to ask them. I asked them where they were going. Now
you have to ask them if we can go with them."
L: "But I haven't spoken to them yet. You're the one who asked them
where they were going - you should ask them."
H: "Blobby blobby blobby........"
Lizzi realises that I'm being a silly twat, and I will not go up to
them. So she goes up to them and asks them if we can go with them. They
agree, and we get into the car with them. We're both sat in the back,
being stroppy with each other. The French couple probably think we're
having a "lover's tiff"!!! Lizzi says, "Look, whatever we've both done,
I'll just say sorry. Let's just leave it at that". She grins. We then
both sleep for the whole journey.
We get dropped off at a small petrol station, in a street in
Liile. We say "Merci et au revoir". We are unsure whether or not this
petrol station is open or not. On closer inspection, there appears to be
no-one working here, so it must be closed. All the lights are on though.
It's incredibly cold, and it comes as a huge shock to us, as we have
only just woken up from a 3.5 hour sleep in a nice warm car. There's no
traffic at all, the petrol station is closed, and it's freezing cold.
It's all looking very bleak for us - we've got a very cold night ahead
of us. We walk around a lot to keep warm.
NAME: Jean-Jacques Gilland.
After only one passing in 15 minutes, the driver (Jean-Jacques)
returns, this time without his companion. He offers us somewhere to
sleep for the night. I think about the intense cold, and am all ready to
agree to it. But Lizzi is very unsure, and say we'll be ok. I'm
thinking, "Shit Lizzi, we'll freeze to death if we stay here. Now's not
to time to be afraid to accept his offer in case he thinks he thinks
we're being cheeky. He has come all the way back here to see if we got a
lift, and he has asked us to sleep at his place, so he wants us to stay
there." I say, "Yes" for both of us, then Lizzi agrees. If we hadn't
accepted his offer, we'd have ended up standing / sitting/ walking
around all night in the freezing cold. We leave in his car with him, and
fairly soon we stop. He tells Lizzi that he's a judge. He goes off to
park the car, and we wait outside the block of posh flats. I take a
photo of Lizzi, surrounded by "Kwik Save" bags if I remember rightly.
We enter his flat with him. The woman from the car isn't there -
he must have dropped her off somewhere. It's a very modern, yuppie-type
building this. His flat is incredible. Its newness and neatness reminds
me and Lizzi of John Latham's room in Charles Street residence (when me,
Lizzi & Mark "visited" there that time). There's things everywhere -
very well furnished. There's loads of ornaments of turtles, a cuddly
rhino, a snake on the floor (not real!), a scorpion in the bathroom
(ERG!), an amazing hand-carved draughts set, a solitaire set, books
about various countries, lots of big leafy plants, a parrot a perch, a
CD tower thing, including CDs by Sinead O'Connor, Scorpions, Nirvana,
The Doors, lots of French music and lots of classical music. It looks
like Jean-Jacques has done very well for himself.
We settle down (together!) on the bed-settee with the blankets he
has given us. I take off a few hundred layers first.
I wake up, and then wake Lizzi up. We look around the room. I take
loads of photos of it, including some through the window. We are both in
love with this cool flat. He gets up eventually, offers us breakfast -
but we refuse. He gives Lizzi his address, and we give him ours. We
thank him very much for his generosity. We tell him he's welcome to stay
with us in England at any time he wants. He gives us 2 apples, a yoghurt
drink (DAN-UP) and 4 hard-boiled eggs. So kind!
We leave his flat. We wander around aimlessly for a bit, saying
"Wow!" a lot. The weather is beautiful - sunny and warm (about 10
degrees C, I think - at the end of November!!! - and this is the NORTH
of France too!). It's so different from the crap weather while we were
in Germany. Lizzi says something, "See - I told you we should have come
to France all along - Paris." We look at lots of cafes. Some of them are
fairly expensive, since we are in the main street of Lille after all. We
are also looking out for a cheap creperie.
We go to a creperie. We sit upstairs. It's really nice inside, and
fairly cheap. We spend a while viewing the menu. We order a Pernod and
black each ("L'anis avec cassis" - luckily Lizzi knew the word for
Pernod!!!). We get the waiter to take a photo of us eating.
We both steal a menu by quickly slipping them into our bags when no-one
We leave the creperie. We go to the town square. We see a cafe
with the dodgy name "Coq Hardi", so I take a photo of it.
I get a Frenchman to take a photo of me and Lizzi stood in front
of the huge fountain. We wander round lots of shops, including an
impressive multi-storey building, selling books, postcards and greeting
cards. We spend ages looking at the French books. Lizzi buys one called
"Auto-portrait d'un erection", and I buy "Salem" (the French translation
of "Salem's Lot" - it's a lot thinner than the English version).
We sit outside a cafe and start writing postcards. A waiter comes
out, and pressurises us into buying drinks - or else we'd have to leave.
I buy a Coke, and Lizzi buys a Gini (we have cans, and pour them into
small "Buvez Coca-cola" glasses). I write 9 postcards (1 more to parents
too). I share one of Lizzi's, to Otto, and sign one to Lizzi's parents.
Lizzi signs all of mine, and tells my parents that I've transformed into
a frog's leg (Argh!!!). She writes weird Italian things to my penfriend
Elena, and also to my Italian Uncle Geno and Aunty Nancy. While we are
sat there, Lizzi points out lots of horny men and women with cool hair,
leather trousers, dogs, nice shoes and "cool appearance". We consider
taking them all with us!
Finish writing postcards. Lizzi says, "What time have we got to be
in Ostend?" I say, "Oh no! It's nearly 5 o'clock and we have only 12
hours to get to Ostend. We must get the 5 am ferry at the latest!" Lizzi
says that we've spent all this time stuffing our faces with crepes and
writing postcards and dossing around the town, and we forgot all about
getting to Ostend soon!!! We could phone up, tell them we've been eating
crepes and they'll understand, and delay the ferry. Or they might put a
special ferry on for us - "Reine Crepes"!!! Lizzi blows her nose in her
green glove ("It won't show" - Lizzi) while the whole of Lille watch in
We decide to
leave, and to get our revenge for having to buy drinks there, we nick
our two "Buvez Coke" glasses. We rush off down the street, say
"Excellent! Excellent!", and feel proud.
Lizzi pulls out her beret out of her bag, and tells me to wear it. I
ask her if I look silly in it, and she says it suits me, and giggles
(hmm!!!). Lizzi takes a photo of me, with beret, posing like a Frenchman
(carrying onions of course), in front of a stylish men's clothes shop.
An old Frenchman passing by, suddenly stops, looks at us and smiles.
(Lizzi is wearing a beret too). He approaches us, tells us we are very
funny, and should be on television!!! We are flattered.
Lizzi takes a photo of me with the man, and I take one of Lizzi
with the man. He puts his arm around Lizzi quite "comfortably" should we
say for the photo with her. He gives me his signature, and when I ask
him for his address so I can send him the photos, he says, "it's ok!"
Lizzi and I look around the shops in search of "big bags". I have
only 4 francs left (40p) - enough for lots of big bags! Excellent!
Even though we are now fully aware that there's not much time left for
us to get back to Ostend, we decide to go into a huge two-storey
discount clothes shop. It sells lots of clothes and underwear. I wander
off on my own, but don't buy anything. I see a gorgeous French woman
(with long blonde hair, a long creamy coat and leggings). I take a
photo of her. When I look around for Lizzi, I can't seem to find her
anywhere. I eventually bump into her downstairs, near the women's
underwear section I think. She says she's been looking around for me for
a while, and has been asking people if they've seen a "boy with fuzzy
hair"!!! God knows what that would be in French = "le garcon avec les
cheveux grands"??? We leave the clothes shop - I discover that Lizzi has
bought some cheap knickers there.
I buy a cake and a custard-filled cake from a bakery. Lizzi buys
nothing. The shop assistant reminds me of Beatrice Dalle (from "Betty
Blue") - very nice, so I take a photo of her.
Realizing that we still have a long way to go, and we have no
cardboard left for signs, we go to a shoe shop called "Andre" and ask
them for some cardboard. We get a massive piece, and Lizzi sits on the
step outside, writing "Oostende" on it. We then go to the train station.
We see a sign saying that the temperature is 10 degrees C.
We start walking towards the motorway. We walk for absolutely ages, and
we take photos of each other standing in front of a fountain on the
other side of the road at one point.
We stop at a bus stop along the road to Ostend, to have a break.
Lizzi and I look at Mr. Sausage and it brings a feeling of warmth to our
weary hearts. We think of England. Lizzi says something like, "It makes
me think of England, and Simon the Sausage. We're so far away from there
now". Then we eat a hard-boiled egg from Jean-Jacques.
Allons-nous! We walk along for a while, Lizzi holding her sign
aloft. Eventually, we find a small Shell "station-service". We sit on
the pavement shortly before it.
We're sitting, and waiting. I remark on French cars having yellow
lights. This is how desperate the conversation is getting. I mean, when
you start discussing the colour of car's headlights!!! Most of the time
we sit down. I stand on the central island jumping up and down at times
and holding my thumb up. At other times, I jiggle it
around and wave. I stand round the corner and stick my thumb up too.
"When I jiggle it about, people look" - Howell Parry, 8.35 pm, Monday
23-11-92, Lille, France.
We get pissed off, so walk further on, and hitch-hike.
A car is coming the other way, but he turns around and gives us a
lift. He says it's because he has a 19-year-old daughter - which Lizzi
reminds him of - and he would think it dangerous for her to hitch-hike.
He lives in Bondues, which is on the way. He is a swimming teacher at
Lille's "Piscine Olympique" (he gave us a leaflet, which I now keep in
the log book).
We get dropped off at Rocco, near Menen, just before he turns to
go to the supermarket.
NAME: Alain Lacassin (gave his address too, and I took a photo of him
in his car, with his thumb up).
We sit on the pavement - freezing.
A car stops at the traffic lights with a cute dog in the back.
Lizzi physically forces me to take a photo of the dog (bully!). Lizzi
sits against a wall and puts her jumper over her head. It's a vast
improvement. I carry on sticking my thumb up.
A girl stops at the traffic lights, and offers us a lift. When she
stops, Lizzi is sat down with a jumper over her head. When she calls us
(gets out and comes over to us), Lizzi pops her head out! (and it didn't
frighten her off!!!!) Lizzi reckons the girl felt sorry for her. She
offers to take us just a little bit further on - a few kilometres. She
seems very chatty and bubbly, and Lizzi and her have a good natter in
the front, while I sit in the back. She is a student at a University
near Lille, studying English. She speaks in French, as he thinks her
spoken English is not very good, and we would not understand her. We
tell her about our black settee etc. - she is freaked.
She drops us in Menen, which is just on the Belgian border - we
are nearly in Belgium! Bizarre. The border is here (and a sign saying
"Douane" - customs). Just after she drops us off, she runs into the road
because she thinks she hears a lorry passing by! She was going to help
us thumb it down. So nice of her! Ah! She says "Bye" (in English! - only
English she spoke the whole time!)
NAME: Albane Delvas (gave her address too and I took a photo of her and
Lizzi in front of her car).
Lizzi suggests we look at Mr. Sausage. I get him out, we both look
at him, say "Excellent!" twice, then start hitching. Hardly any traffic
comes past, so we move forward, nearer the start of the main road where
Brugge (on motorway) and Kortrijk (a town on local roads to Ostend) are
signposted. A few cars and lorries pass us.
We see an "Aldi" shop (warehouse-like thing). Lizzi goes to the
phone-box, but it only takes Belgian francs. She tries putting in some
French francs, but they won't fit. Even for a reversed-charge call you
must put some money in - then get it returned! Bizarre.
Get list from start to slightly further into Menen with a man
whose car smells of Old Holborn tobacco (according to Lizzi).
Dropped off in Menen. Didn't get his signature - couldn't find log
We get picked up and will be taken to somewhere on the way to
Ostend. After a few minutes we see a sign saying "Oostende 51". We
thought it would be about 80 km away!! We might just make it in time.
He drops us in Roesalare (or nearby). We are on a main road.
Apparently, turn left in 3 km and we will be on the Ostend road. We take
2 photos: him in car, one of the back of the car, leaving.
NAME: Johan Chys (gave his address too).
Ostend is now about 36 km away. We start to walk to the turn-off.
Take a photo of the road ahead (fairly empty).
We see a car pulling out of a junction just ahead. We think,
"Shit! We're too late". I wave my hands above my head, and feel like
Kermit the Frog (! - I tell Lizzi how I feel, and she ignore me - wise
girl). He stops the car and gives us a lift.
We get out a few km ahead. I ask him for his name - he says,
"Pourquoi?" He gives me it anyway, and I take a photo. He drops us at
the traffic lights, which are past that junction that we were told
about. The sign at the junction says "Oostende 33".
NAME: Luc Cluet.
We wait there for a short while, then get picked up by a man and
woman who are going along the route to Ostend, but not very - "un peu
plus pres". They speak to us in French first, then when they discover we
come from England, they speak English. We tell them what we are doing.
We talk about "Children In Need". They show a genuine interest. They ask
whether or not is's an international organisation. The woman says that
she works with disabled children. Lizzi tells her that her mum does too.
The woman works with older children and Lizzi says it must be harder
than with younger ones. The woman says that they're calmer when they're
Shortly into the journey, we see a sign saying "Oostende 29" (it gets
nearer and nearer!). We tell them we are students etc., and what we
study. We say we are going to Ostend to catch a ferry back to England,
and that we must get there before 5 am - we think there is a 1 am ferry
too. The (bearded) man says that he thinks the train station is open
between certain hours of the morning, so we'll have somewhere to wait
(He's implying that nowhere else is ok or "safe). If it's shut, I tell
him we can wait in an all-night pub. He says, "It's dangerous" to his
wife. We ask why, and he says it's not really that bad, it's ok. He says
it's dangerous for us, and when asked why he says quietly, "Because of
the drugs". He won't say much more. I am freaked by the mention of
danger. He says you can walk around the streets ok at night, "but the
bars and cafes...." He recommends that we wait in the train station.
They ask us how the lifts have been. We tell them all the recent lifts
have been for just a few kilometres each, ok really. Lizzi tells them
about the long periods of waiting in the cold we had to endure earlier
on. We say that we should get to Ostend soon. The woman turns around and
says, "I will take you to Ostend" in a confident, reassuring voice. We
are freaked! The husband says, "Courageous woman" (Argh - what has he
got against Ostend??? Did he used to take drugs in the bars and that's
how he knows about them?) He says he will go to their house first.
We arrive at their house, and they both get out. He says that his
wife will be back soon to take us. We say bye. Lizzi says that we (and
the house!) are in Torhout.
NAMES: Bie & Paul Lutters (have a hand-drawn picture of the bearded man
The woman returns, and we leave for Ostend. Shortly after we
start, a sign says "Ostend 24" (15 miles). I regret we didn't take a
photo of the man. Lizzi says she'll draw me one. The woman asks us if we
are hungry. We say we have plenty of food with us, but she insists on
giving us an apple and a cookie. We will share them between us (1/2
apple + 1/2 cookie each!) [Cookie is the last one left in a packet].
Lizzi asks the woman about what language she speaks. She says French is
her second language, English her third language, and Flemish is her
first language. Even though she's spoken French earlier, she rarely uses
it, only with certain people (French people, I suspect!). She uses
Flemish at home. We ask her about Ostend being dangerous. She tells us
not to worry. She says we can walk around safely - it's just that in
some cafes and bars people have drugs. She says that in the early hours
of the morning, it's better not to be on the streets of Ostend, even
though they're not dangerous. She says there's nothing to worry about -
we won't get attacked or anything like that, and we shouldn't be scared.
[We see another "Aldi" on our way].
Tuesday 24th November 1992
Lizzi sees a sign that says "Oostende". We see lots of shops,
Oostende town probably. We see two police cars parked outside a shop
with a smashed window pane. The woman says, "See, I told you Ostend
isn't dangerous." We see policemen looking in there, but they don't seem
to see anything. They are carrying guns. We ask the woman about this,
and she says that all the police carry guns in Belgium. We tell her that
in Britain it's against the law, and the police can't carry them. Lizzi
and I both reckon that the police in Britain should carry them. Lizzi
says that the concept of truncheons, and police knocking people on the
head with them is ridiculous. We count down the kms as we get nearer and
nearer to Oostende.
Arrive at the port in Ostend. We are so freaked/amazed/glad to be
here at last, especially since we're in time for the 1 am ferry. The
woman signs the book, and gives her address, then I take a photo of her
and Lizzi in front of the car. We thank her a lot, then she leaves.
Lizzi goes into the railway station (which leads to the ferry and
hovercraft terminals and the waiting room etc.) while I stay outside and
take photos of the port and the surroundings, not that they'll come out
- it's so dark.
We enter the ferries section, and to our horror we see that there
was a ferry at 23.45, just 35 minutes ago, and the next one is at 5
am!!! Argh! Lizzi is annoyed beyond belief. I take a photo of the
timetable, just to remind me of this horrific moment. I want to take a
photo of Lizzi's facial expression at this moment in time, but she won't
let me. We try to go into the ferry terminal waiting room, but the
automatic doors won't open. There's men in there, cleaning. We ask a
guard-like person when we can go in there, he asks the cleaners, and
they say we can go in there at 3 am. We go to the railway waiting room.
A man calls over to us, "Guten Morgen". I think he's a tramp since he
has a bottle of whisky next to him. Lizzi says he must be waiting for a
train since he has a bag with him. We go over and sit opposite him. He
talks to us (in English) about Germany and England, and we respond
accordingly. He seems a bit weird since he's pissed, looks like a real
thug, and keeps laughing at times. He doesn't listen to what we say
much, he just carries on in his own sweet way about things. He appears
to be fairly pissed since he keeps getting up, walking around and acting
out things. I get on with the log, while Lizzi talks to him (about
Newcastle - he's been there, Piccadilly Key 103 Radio - apparently he's
been a DJ on it - yeah, right - but he sings the jingle "Piccadilly Key
103" correctly, rock music, Joe Cocker - who he'd met in a pub, and
Lizzi can't be arsed listening to him any more. She settles down
to sleep. Before this, she asks to see Mr. Sausage. I refuse to get him
out, and Lizzi is upset. The man talks to me, but keeps changing to
German and Dutch at times. He really is off his head (or "out of his
tree" as Ina would now say). I let him speak to himself, and ignore him.
At one point, Lizzi wakes up and listens to him. He gets a blue denim
cap out of his bag and puts it over his face and looks weird. He keeps
talking, but the cap's over his eyes. He puts it on his head properly,
but me and Lizzi piss ourselves laughing at him, because he looks silly.
He offers me to try on the cap. After I've tried it on, he says I can
keep it! Lizzi and I are freaked again. He says it's from Hamburg North
(a souvenir?). He mutters something about getting it from a Hamburg
train driver. It smells of beef and/or tobacco to me. He goes away, and
I put the hat on and let Lizzi take a photo of me. I go to the toilet,
and hear the weird German man talking to himself in a cubicle. He
returns to sit opposite us, but I ignore him. Lizzi takes a photo of me
and HIM!!! Argh! We prepare to leave. I just do up my bag, and he comes
over and grabs the handle. I am freaked. Is he trying to stop me
leaving? No - "He's acting", Lizzi explains. He says, "Let me see in
your bag. You have two bottles of whisky." He continues with stuff about
me having to declare them etc... At one point, he picks up my bag,
carries it away, and then brings it back. He plays with my "MASS Rag"
can on the end of the bag and says, "And what is this? Is this whisky?"
His speech gets more and more slurred. He tells the story of the
bottles. Me and Lizzi can't stop laughing. I turn away and log for a
bit. Lizzi continues "listening". She is very convincing - NOT! We keep
laughing AT HIM, he probably thinks we're laughing with him because we
think he's funny. Ha! Ha! He says if we want to sleep, he'll watch it.
Lizzi is impressed by his generosity (!?!) We have to leave him, so we
say "Bye!" and "Wiedersehen". He sort of waves. Then, as we leave, he
starts to say, "Goodbye! Farewell! See you then! See you later! Have a
nice day!" As we leave the train station waiting room, he is turned to
one side, babbling to himself. We go into the ferry waiting room for a
We show our passports and ticket. We get little tickets for the
journey. We board the bus, then get on the ferry.
Lizzi and I arrive at a duty free shop on the ferry. Lizzi asks to
see Mr. Sausage, so I get him out, we both admire him and say,
"Excellent! Excellent!" I then put him away, and get my baps out.
The ferry leaves. We sit down at a table, and just behind us is a
girl, making notes in a pad. Lizzi and I are talking, and this girl
occasionally giggles at us. Eventually, she invites herself and a friend
to sit with us. They tell us that they are both German schoolgirls,
coming over to England (London) for a week's school holiday (each one of
them is staying with a different English family). The one girl, Ina, is
quite jolly and speaks very good English. The other one, Silke, is
quieter, probably because her English is not so good.
We chat with them for most of the journey. They ask us where are the
best places to go to in London. They want to get English clothes,
English haircuts, English jewellery etc. Lizzi just says, "Go to Camden
Market.", "Go to Camden Market."..... They say they'll spend their whole
They ask us to teach them lots of English slang phrases and swear
words. Lizzi takes their A4 pad and begins writing lots of phrases down.
Lizzi remembers to write after some of the phrases, "Not for use with
the family." She writes page after page of phrases. We make sections
called "Ways of saying 'I can't be bothered'", "How to say 'I'm drunk':
(Ina's favourite - "I'm off my tree"), "Words for 'cool'" (Ina's
favourite is "Smart", pronounced in a Mancunian accent as "Smat") etc.
We have a good laugh. Once we have taught them some phrases, Ina uses
them immediately in conversation with us - it sounds really funny. We
warn her that some of what she is saying is "not for use with the
Ina and Silke are the only ones from her school group who are sitting
down - all the others walk past us every few minutes, continuously for
most of the journey. So they're just walking around in circles, looking
bored, for the whole journey. We laugh at them. Just before we arrive in
Dover, Ina takes a photo of me, Lizzi and Silke on the deck, with the
white cliffs of Dover behind us. I want to take a photo of them, but I
can't get my camera to work. Lizzi and I go back to our seats, and Ina
and Silke have to go off to join their school group. I'm annoyed that I
didn't get a photo of them, when suddenly I get my camera to work, and I
see their school group going past. So I stop them, and get a photo of
England's in sight!
08.47 (British time)
We get off the ferry and go through passport enquiries and
customs. The customs officer
asks us how many countries we've visited and what was the
purpose of our visit. We tell
him it's the "24 Hour Hitch", and he asks us how it went, and
says we can just pass through.
Arrive at "Arrivals" section of Dover port. We buy drinks, and
Lizzi phones her Mam at her school. I take a photo of "Arrivals". We sit
and drink for a bit.
We leave the "Arrivals" bit and start hitching. We stand at the
side, Lizzi writing the "North" sign, me holding my thumb up. We're near
the petrol station.
Lizzi is still doing the sign when a van goes past; there are four
people in the front and the driver raises his hands as if to say, "What
can I do? There's no room." I point to the back of his van, and he nods.
He stops at the petrol station. We put some of our bags in the very back
of van, then he opens the side of the van, open a small door in a cage
wall and we have to crawl in through the gap. We find ourselves sat on
an army sleeping bag on top of a mattress, surrounded by lots of
shredded paper and a crappy carpet. Lizzi reckons that it looks like the
inside of Joeline's (Joeline is Lizzi and Mark's pet hamster) cage! The
man tells us that he's going up to Peterborough to fetch some
greyhounds!! So we're sat in a mobile greyhound kennel. Lizzi and I say,
"Excellent! Excellent!" Lizzi gets into the sleeping "Doggy" bag. We
stop at Canterbury for the driver to show someone a greyhound track! We
stop at a newsagents too, and before there, at a petrol station. He has
left the door slightly open, so we can see out through it slightly, and
it's light in here. We pass through Dartford Tunnel. Just before this,
he shuts the door tight because there's police around. It's pitch black.
Lizzi and I eat chocolate biscuits, talk about accents and how she says,
"Boooooooooooook" for "Book". We also take photos of each other in the
Suddenly, the van stops and the door opens. He says that we're at
Sirlock "Granada" Services just after the Dartford Tunnel (not on a
motorway - it's just the A2), i.e. North of M2, South of M25. We get the
man's signature, and take a photo of them in front of the van.
NAME: Peter from Denmark - The Greyhound Man.
The services are called "Granada Lodge". They are massive and white. I
take a photo of it. There's a small adventure playground place for
children, and I take a photo of Lizzi pretending to sleep, on top of a
climbing net thing (balanced on a horizontal pole). The service station
is full of shops, hairdressers, restaurants, toilets etc.! The Lloyds
cashpoint within the service station refuses me money. We ask around the
lorries and eventually a man comes up to me and asks me where I'm going.
He tells me he's going to Doncaster, and it's a good place to get to
Manchester from. I get Lizzi. She's found a lift to Peterborough, but we
reckon Doncaster would be better.
We leave the services in a dark red (crimson-ish) Vauxhall Astra
1.4. We put our stuff in the boot, which is completely empty and very
clean. This is because the man (from Barnsley) is driving a K-reg car up
to a garage in Doncaster. They've bought it from a car rental agency -
it's only got 8,000 miles on the clock. This man hitched down to Gatwick
this morning (holding a registration plate - "I've got plates, you see"
- this shows he means business and is collecting a car, and gets him
lifts easily). He's stopped the clock on the tachometer with a spanner
(and the speedometer - so if any trouble, police will do him), so that
it won't gain any more miles. He tells us that he could go out of his
way and take us to "Watford Gap" services, since there's tons of free
petrol in the car, and the tachometer is stopped - so no-one would know
where he's really been. [Next bit is rubbish as I was falling asleep -
my writing is "slurred" here]. He says these services are on the way to
Birmingham are tell taken independently de calcular, so he will have a
lift whatever. [End of rubbish]. I decide to take the road to near
Doncaster. That gives double the chance of someone going to Manchester,
because there are 2 possible roads nearby which go to Manchester. One
goes to Trafford Park, other goes to Mancunian way, near City Centre.
The one past Watford Gap is M6 which will go to Old Trafford park area
of Manchester only.
Stop in a lay-by at a snack cabin for the driver to have a coffee.
We continue to the service-station at a place near Doncaster (A
place called Wollington).
Get dropped off at roundabout with turn-off for A57 to Sheffield
(which goes to Manchester). We hold up a "Manchester" sign.
NAME: Garry Wright.
A lorry stops, but not on the A57 road, on the next turn-off, to
Doncaster. He's going past Manchester on the M62, so he'll drop us off
at the service-station just before Manchester - 6 miles or so before.
He's carrying sugar in his lorry. He lives in Manchester. The roundabout
we're hitching from is actually near Lincoln. I stay awake throughout
this lift! We discuss his sugary load. He asks us what we're studying,
and also asks if we're going out with each other! I take a photo through
the window, in West Yorkshire.
Sign "Manchester 51". So it's 45 miles to Birch Services from
Arrive at Birch Services. He gives us his name and address (and
asks why exactly we want his address). He lives in Horwich, near Bolton.
NAME: P. Phillips
Get picked up by a man who'll drop us off at Junction 17 (the
Prestwich / Whitefield junction) of the M62 motorway. He's going to
North Wales (and may have had glasses and a beard).
Get dropped off near the Prestwich roundabout. He actually stops
in an awkward position, so don't get his signature, just a picture of
the back of his car. We initially consider walking into Whitefield to
see Simon's parents, and ask his Dad to give us some peas (with rice of
course, man). We turn left, and walk into Prestwich town instead. We get
money from cash points (Lizzi uses the TSB one), and go into a pub to
buy some crisps. We consider hitching, but really can't be arsed now, so
we'll get a bus.
Get 90 bus to Manchester city centre (says Chorlton Street on the
Lizzi asks to see Mr. Sausage. I get him out, we both look at his
fine form, say "Excellent! Excellent!" and then put him away. Lizzi
can't get her baps out because they've been eaten or disposed of now.
Get off bus at the start of Oldham Street. I take some photos of
Manchester. Lizzi gives me some of the stuff of mine she has in her bag,
and I give her some of hers back. We can't be arsed sorting it all out -
we'll do it some other time. We say, "Bye" and it seems really strange
that Lizzi is now leaving me to go home after all these days on the
I get a 192 bus from near Lloyds Bank in Piccadilly.
Get off in Levenshulme, near the TSB bank.
Arrive back at 66 Windsor Road.