I awoke in my old bedroom, mid-morning. A rather strange sensation, I have to say. Is that it? Is it all over? That was easy!
Oh, hang on… rub your eyes mate, you’ve still got a LONG way to go. This is merely a pit stop, and the ultimate goal of all this – to see my girlfriend Mandy again – is still a long way away, calling me to the antipodes via Europe, Africa and Asia.
I could hear that my brother Mike and his son Matthew had already arrived to see me, as well as my auntie Dorothy and my cousin Yvonne (Leo the Webmaster’s wife), so I dragged my carcass out of bed and got showered and dressed.
My mum had made (a damn tasty) lamb roast for lunch and very soon it felt like a typical Sunday meal at the Hughes household, just without the inevitable game of Trivial Pursuit. Only, I had swapped my watch for my old one and it hadn’t been set to British Summer Time. Here’s me thinking it’s 12 noon when actually it’s 1pm – and my train to London was leaving at 1.48!
I bounded from the dinner table to race upstairs and stuff everything in my bag – I hadn’t packed! I ran through all of the things that I thought I would need to keep me going for the next eight months of travel through Africa and the like, but ten minutes isn’t really enough time to make a decent checklist, is it? So anything that got left behind got left behind. Seriously – I’ve only got 4 pairs of underpants now.
Hell with it – I’ve got my passport, credit card and my video camera. Anything else is just showing off.
I said my hasty farewells to my family and got my mum to drive me to the train station, arriving with just minutes to spare. Bye, mum. Waiting for me was Laura, clutching that video camera of hers (well, mine actually BUT LET’S NOT SPLIT HAIRS) to accompany me on the train down to London.
I barely had time to sort out my bag (and dump my excess nonsense on Laura) and conduct an interview before the train pulled in to Euston. It was a quick tube ride to number 1 Regent Street where I nabbed myself an inter-rail ticket and met up my friend Lindsey again.
The weather was bloody spectacular, so Laura, Lindsey and I sat in the shadow of the British Museum and ate ice cream. But all good things and all that jazz…
I hopped on the 6:15 train to Dover. It was packed full of commuters. I stuck out like a sore thumb with my scruffy bags, battered leather jacket and silly hat. I could feel them eyeballing me. Look at this fella here – he hasn’t got a proper job has he? When did this idea of the necessity of having a ‘proper’ job infect the British mind? Did Newton have a ‘proper’ job? Keats? Darwin? Shackleton? Lennon? I think not…
Stick your ‘proper’ jobs where the sun don’t shine, London. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.
I gazed out of the window at the fields and villages whizzing by, it was like Monday evening being rewound and put back on the shelf. The sun set in the vague direction of Liverpool, but there was time for one last adventure today.
The ferries from Dover stop taking foot passengers at 7pm. Did you know that?
Well I didn’t.
But Lisa, the lovely girl in the Eurolines office, helped me out – she booked me on a coach and asked the driver if it would be okay to pick me up on the way to the ferry. He said yes and so I was all set for the 10:30pm coach to Brussels, arriving at the crack of dawn the next day. That all worked out quite nicely for me, so I headed over to the nearest pub and had my last real pint and joined the locals in putting the world to rights.
My 48 hours in the UK was over. Next stop – continental Europe.