On 1 June 2017, I left the small Cornish town of Falmouth to hitchhike alone around the world.
“…After twenty kilometers the White Cliffs of Dover became one with the deep cobalt horizon and the distance I was set to achieve all fell into perspective. For the first time I realized that I was not travelling in a straight line, I was going around; a readjustment of a certain piece of knowledge.”
Finally, only a week behind schedule, I was free to continue. I felt like a weight had been lifted, getting my dental problem seen to. I still had the huge weight of my backpack to carry, though.
I walked out of the activity center to the corner shop I used to visit every day.
“Going for a walk?” said the old man behind the counter, seeing my kit.
“…Something like that,” I replied.
I picked up some snacks for the day and followed the road towards France. After 3 lifts and a lot of walking, I made it to outside the Eurotunnel terminal. I’d gone to France this way before; it was one of two free options along with the Dover ferry. I stood for over 3 hours with no success in sight and so decided to move on to Dover.
I posted this update on social media and to my surprise, someone sent me a message saying he could take me as far as I needed to go. Oz Chapman picked me up and took me to the service station just before Dover (Thanks again, it saved me a lot of time!).
I tried to catch a ride with the final hours of summer daylight, but had no success. I walked onto the roundabout outside the station and put up my tent.
The next day was full of unplanned long walks and uncertain waiting times. I decided to walk on from the service station because all I was getting from passing drivers were smiles and laughter at my ‘FRANCE’ sign, as if to say “I appreciate the joke!” It wasn’t a joke, I really was trying to get there!
For a few hours I walked up and down a small country road with no space for cars to pull in. ‘Get me out of this bloody country,’ I repeated to myself. I had to keep pushing myself into the thorny bushes, which once pierced my plastic water bottle making it shoot water like a small dog.
Finally though, an A-road emerged and I was picked up quickly to be taken to Dover. It was extremely difficult to catch a lift out of the last town of the UK, probably due to the heightened security around the port resultant of the refugee crisis.
Having no luck after a few hours on this first day, I walked off into some bushes and laid my sleeping bag out. I was meters away from the pavement and managed to use the free Wi-Fi from the hotel across the street.
I rose at 5am the next day and considered paying for a lift. I had next to no hope for getting out of the country for free, but the strict rules I have set myself would’ve meant I’d failed. I’d just narrowly avoided failure and I wasn’t going to waste this second chance. I approached truck drivers (unthinkable of a British man!), people at a petrol station (also unthinkable) and, failing these two, walked up and down an A-road to find a better spot to stand (for probably the same distance from Dover to Calais). ‘Get me out of this bloody country’, I repeated to myself.
Finally, as if I had slipped into a daydream, after nine-and-a-half hours, two men pulled in… I am a professional writer, but I can’t describe the relief I felt at this moment. Well, I could, but children could be reading this.
“Are you carrying any drugs or weapons?” the driver asked.
“No, of course not,” I replied (thinking ‘please, please, please, don’t drive away!’).
“Okay, get in.”
On the ferry, after twenty kilometers the White Cliffs of Dover became one with the deep cobalt horizon and the distance I was set to achieve all fell into perspective. For the first time I realized that I was not travelling in a straight line, I was going around; a readjustment of a certain piece of knowledge.
I saw my home country disappear into the sea air and relished in the uncertainty of my return date.