Alresford, November 19-22
After a poor and hungry 24 hours in transit in Miami I arrived in Gatwick early in the morning of the 19th. Having 3 pounds to my name I had not enough to get a bus anywhere, I could barely get out of the airport. After blowing some dough on some calls, it became obvious I would have to hitchhike somewhere, so I chose Alresford. A tortuous hitch ensued, but I got to Alresford before 7pm, having spent only 99p on some chips on a motorway services. My new bankcard still hadn’t arrived in Alresford, but the Pettman’s were nice enough to lend me some money until it did, and I was finally able to relax for a while.
Watford, November 22-24
Having made it to Nicky Pettman’s 18th and 21st Birthdays, I thought I better make it up to Jenna, so I made it down to Watford, and Jenna’s college, for her birthday on the 23rd. This involved nightclubs, and dinners, with a plethora of delightful young ladies. Dammit. I had a lovely time, and have resolved to make it back to Watford sometime when they’re having a Trinian’s Ball.
London, November 24-29
Back to London to stay with Ben and Shannon and wait for my bankcard to arrive from Australia. I also got to see an old friend Jenny Jacobs, and late one night in Leicester Square we actually did the unthinkable and went to the Hippodrome. Can’t believe I’m admitting to that, can you? Also managed to catch up with Ali and a few other friends from Perth, as well as with Fiona, an old friend from Ireland.
Southampton, November 29-30
I had to head down to the provincial backwater of Southampton to catch up with Rich and Po from camp. I got to see the two of them functioning in their natural habitat, and they showed me a great time altogether. We went to the local club – the Academy, visited the kebaby and so on… Rich even managed to beat me in a game of tennis, something he’d only managed to do once before, the bastard.
Milton Keynes, December 1-2
Next stop was Milton Keynes, where I stayed with Gary and Kea again. Gary almost hijacked my plans to go and pick up mum and dad in Dublin by telling me there was a Morrissey tour on. After muck philosophical debate with myself I decided to track Morrissey down near Scotland rather than be at the airport to meet Mum and Dad in Ireland. This meant hitching for two days and sleeping rough in the English winter weather but… Luckily for Mum and Dad Morrissey’s tour had been completely sold out. Unluckily for me though…
Dublin, December 3-7
So I made it to Dublin a whole day before Mum and Dad arrived and I spent the first day finding them somewhere to sleep. Luckily for me Niamh was nice enough to put me up for the night, and managed to take me out partying as well. When I got hold of Mum and Dad we looked about Dublin a bit, I bought some new boots, and then we were off to Galway.
Galway, December 7-9
Well, I was travelling in style now. Instead of the hitching and bedsits I was used to, I got the hire-cars and hostels (and occasionally a Bed and Breakfast!). I even rediscovered that thing they call food. Our first stop on our little tour was Galway, where we soaked up the Craic at The Crane, and toured the Connemarra on what must have been the windiest day ever.
Doolin, December 9-10
Next stop was Doolin, a lovely little Irish town in Clare and the place where I first met Fiona those years ago. We did our duty and marveled at the quaintness of it all, caught some good Irish music (and met some nice Dutch people) and went and took photos of the Cliffs of Moher.
Dingle, December 10-11
The drive from Doolin to Dingle was quite lovely, or at least what we could see of it through all the clouds. When we arrived in Dingle I insanely went to the local movies and saw ‘Closedown Hotel’ or whatever it was called, big mistake.
Kilarney, December 11-12
The last stop for me before parting with mum and dad was Kilarney. Once again the drive was beautiful, around the famous Ring of Kerry, and once again I finished the day by seeing an awful movie – ‘End of Days’.
Holyhead, December 13-14
Then I was all the way back across to Dublin and straight onto Wales, which I arrived at about 11pm, and having nowhere to sleep, I slept in the ferry terminal. The next day I caught up with an old pal Naomi and her crazy friend Ian. Both mad clubbers, watching Human Traffic was high on their agenda, so that’s what we did. We had a ball of a time, Ian able to dance all night like a maniac, and he even started me on the way to Skipton the next day by giving me a lift to Manchester.
Skipton, December 14-16
Back in Skipton at last! Home of Britain’s best fish and chip shops, I immediately set to researching that claim. Of course I caught up with my favourite people, Ali and Gal and even did the English pub quiz night thing, although the questions were definitely favouring the British in attendance. How was Ali and myself supposed to know who won the Milk Cup in 1968? Anyway, apart from Ali and Gal the best thing about Skipton was that it was good enough to be covered in SNOW while I was there – YAY!
Nantwich, December 16-17
Next stop was Nantwich, just outside of Chester, where my camp pal Ben lived in a pub. Through a mysterious coincidence Jeremy (the American at camp whose car we abused) also arrived at Ben’s place the same night. Of course much merriment was had as I showed the poor foreigners how to play pool. I also managed to meet a charming garbage man in a pub in Chester, and of course a New Zealander behind the bar.
London, December 18-21
A horrible day of hitching through Birmingham saw me make it down to London, just. I have to say my last lift into London was made a lot easier by the fact I had a fantastic bloke driving me. He was a young soldier just returned from Kosovo, and he took me all the way into London despite the Friday night traffic that involved. The next day I was off to pick up Jo (another friend from Australia) from Euston, which provided another excuse to catch up with more friends from Australia. We went to Wagamamas and a few pubs (and it snowed the tiniest little bit) and also went to Camden Markets on an extremely cold day. Of course before I left London I also managed to see the Pet Shop Boys at Wembeley with Jenny, which was fantastic!
Alresford, December 22-27
My last visit to Alresford for Christmas, which was delightfully put on by the Pettmans. I was ridiculously spoilt by having both my real and surrogate parents with me for Christmas and obviously had a wonderful time. Of course I had to say goodbye to Alresford, which was quite sad, but happily involved many trips to the pub and seeing just a lot of lovely people.
London, December 27-28
Back in London, busy London, home of the brash, outrageous and free, catch up with one more Australian friend before it’s all about jumping on the bus to France.
Paris, December 29
Arriving in Paris in the middle of the night, I spent the rest of the night/morning doing as much sightseeing as I could. I must say it sounds quite stoopid, especially considering I was dragging about 50 kilos of luggage everywhere I went, but it was actually quite magical walking around Paris before everyone woke up. Of course after they did, it lost a lot of the fun, and I found myself heading to Charles De Gaulle (the airport, not the nose) to head home…Home