As our campaign is to bring back hitchhiking to the UK, we thought in order to know a bit more about it we should hitchhike ourselves from Edinburgh back to B-town.
I then went round to Ally's place where we were to get our lift from. Ally's mate Emma gave us a lift to the airport where our first task was to get through the customs check. The woman let us through after Ally persuaded her that the sleeping back attached to her rucksack whereas all it did was tie on to it. After this will chilled out in customs, unpacking our bags to make them easier to carry. We got a couple of beers and about a third of the way through the 2nd round they called our flight to board. we relaxed knowing that there was no rush and that their would be space, besides we had some beers, and me in my state was in no mood to rush. when we eventually joined the queue at the back we get to the to gate and the ryanair woman says we can only have one bag each, and she isnt going to fall for the sleeping bag 'attach' scam. This results in ally donning all of my tshirts on top of her tshirts and hoodie, as well as wearing her hotpants over her jeans, just so i could fit her sleeping bag in my bag. We also had a roll of wallpaper that we were going to use for signs that had got through customs without a problem, this i just stuck out the top of my bag. We were last on the flight so everyone saw us in a state.
When we got to Edinburgh we stayed with respective mates and set our alarms early to meet up in the morning. I met Ally in town where we filmed a bit for the video diary and had a spot of breakfast, which involved veggie/normal haggis!
We set of to find a bus that would take us to Morningside and got off when we felt it was right, just to end up on exactly the road we needed out of town. We were outside a service station but a guy told us we would be more likely to get picked up a bit further along the road, we went a bit further along where we ended up waiting for an hour and a half to get picked up, our signs getting more and more desperate until a guy picked us up for my sign sating 'Out of town'. He explained to us that he was only going a short distance but he had hitchhiked before all over the country. we asked him what was the reason why people are hitching less nowadays to which he replied 'there are more nutters around nowadays'. He dropped us off in a lay-bye just before a petrol station just past the edinburgh ringroad, we got out wrote a sign for a Carlisle and a sign saying south, within a minute, a lady called Jan pulled up and told us that she was going through Carlisle, to which we told her we were actually on her way to Manchester, which, low and behold, so was she! Jan was lovely but my oh my did she talk, half way through the car journey me an Ally, knew everything about her family, her school years, all her jobs, her ex-boyfriends, her nephews potential footballing career, after this Ally nodded off, cos she was in the back but I had to keep up the conversation which ultimately resulted in me just nodding and saying yes and regular intervals. Eventually she realised i was absolutely knackered so she told me i could recline and put my head back, i did so with much gratitude, but she put on the radio and faithless insomnia came on so i decided i felt bad and carried on the convo with more gusto than ever, those 30 or so seconds with my eyes closed really perked me up though. By then anyway we were in Manchester and about 2o minutes from the stating she was going to drop us off at so we could get into the centre.
That night we stayed with my friend danny and went out in Manchester with him and a few of my other mates from home We had a chance to talk to my mate Ali who had done the 'Hitch to Morocco' over easter, so he told us about hsi experiences. Next morning we went for breakfast around the corner from Danny's and after packing up our stuff Danny's housemate Nick gave us a lift out of town to the A-road which feeds the M6 out of Manchester. We found ourselves a lay bye with a hot food stall which loads of people would see and hopefully stop at. We set our signs for South and London and within half hour a guy who had pulled up asked me what i was doing. I explained that we were researching for a campaign to bring back Hitch hiking to the UK, to which he replied, 'cool, so your going to london then, do u want a lift' it turns out he was going to visit his mum in enfield a relative stones throw away from where i live. His name was Abe, an english born nigerian car trader who had a great passion for boxing and actually boxed himself. He had his puppy in the car, who Ally cradled for the entire journey, only to smell completely of dog for the next 2 days. We had a big chat about boxing and then he also told us a story about how he had been arrested because his uncle, who was in the country without papers had put Abe's name down when he had been arrested. Abe was a lot less talkative than Jan, in a good way, so the ride was a lot more chilled out, a mood which was aided by the funky nigerian RnB playing in the background. That night we stayed at my home in London, i hadnt actually told my parents that we were staying so it was a pleasant suprise for them. We met up with my mates Mesh and Hannah who had also hitched to Morroco over Easter so we got their views too. The next morning we went for a quick bite top eat at my mums café before getting the train across town to get to the start of the M3. We waited for about half an hour in a lay bye before a danish lady, i cant remember her name, picked us up and told us she was going to Basingstoke, it turns out she used to study at Bournemouth, so we spent a while talking about how the club scene had changed and where we are living. She dropped us off on the Hard shoulder of the slip road just outside basingstoke, where we waited for about 25 minutes. Ally was getting a bit stressed cos she couldnt work out why people weren't picking us up, especially as we clearly weren't in a situation to get a bus, I, on the other hand was skanking to JME! Another car trader picked us up, this guy was a lot less chilled out than Abe, quite intense actually, and he seemed liek the person who felt that his opinion was always right. He had hitch-hiked before, as part of his work, if a car broke down, he would hitch back to where he was based and drive back to pick it up. He explained to us how people always make judgements on face value, and therefore it was easier for him to get picked up because he would be wearing a suit. He also explained how its worthwhile going up and introducing yourself in service stations, as that gives you a chance to portray yourself better to potential drivers. He dropped us off on the turn off to the A33 from the M27 just outside southampton, and i have to say that is probably the most dangerous place i have stood in my life, cars going by at 70 mph + on either side. We wrote our final sign to bournemouth and then commenced to make our way up the M27 hard shoulder, as we started walking we noticed a car pulled up with its hazards on about 100m up the road. We went over to him to ask if had stopped for us, and he explained that he had seen us writing our sign and thought anyone going west along the M27 would be heading to Bournemouth anyway. His name was Andy and he was also an ex Bournemouth Student, he ended dropping us off outside O'neils on Landsdowne roundabout, bringing an end to our journey, but more importantly putting the possibility of an after hitch pint beyond doubt!
From the hitch we found out that hitching is safe, and efficient and most of all fun. We met no 'nutters' along the way. The general concensus from people that picked us up was that if i was there alone then they would have been less inclined to pick me up, than if Ally was there to. Location deffinately helped, find a lay-bye where people can pull up safely and your more likely to be picked up, even though some people were ready to pick us up off a hard shoulder. As a mixed pair instantly opens up the range of people that pick you up as well, 2 of our 6 lifts were by lone women which from Hitch hiking forums, is earmarked as the least likely person to pick you up. Overall the experience was deffinately eye-opening and for all the right reasons as well.
All i can say is thumbs up to Hitch hiking!