We are sitting on a wall, on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, waiting for a lift at about 1:30, French time. We’re a bit tired. We’ve got an apple each and I’m eating mine in the ‘slice it with a knife’ fashion.
There’s hardly any traffic and we wait for approximately one and a quarter hours, then we accept a lift from an English van driver who is going to Boulogne.
It appears that because of his work, he travels the same route every day. On the way to Boulogne he offers to take us back across the water if we meet him one day… Say, next Saturday, the Eighth of July.
We say, “Yeah man! Wicked!” This will save us from having to go back to England on Wednesday with the ‘5 Day Return’ ferry tickets.
The man, Gary, dropped us off and we are continuing through the night, walking as we hitch…
Finally, after 3 km of countryside and not getting a lift we scramble over a small fence, down a grass bank in the dark. The intention is to sleep in a field. There are a lot of thistles. Across the way we can just see what seems to be the dark outline of, maybe a farmhouse.
As it’s too dark to set up the tent, that we haven’t tried out yet, we settle down on the fly-sheet. The thistles aren’t very happy with us and make sure we know. We have a roll-up each and lie back, gazing into the starry heavens.
What utter peace I feel lying here.
There’s a falling star! It burns in a marvellous streak of colour to silently break into nothing. An ambassador for the wars in my mind.
I awake in the wetness of dew, finding Richard already awake and packing. We share a carrot for breakfast and see that the farmhouse was actually the skeleton of an old barn.
Another kilometre on up the road we stop and wait for a lift at a crossroad junction, hopefully to Paris. Across the road from us are a few shops that aren’t open yet as it’s still quite early.
When the shops open we buy some bread, cheese, milk and loads of ‘tabac’ which all go down a treat.
All in all we wait for two or three hours, trying to look French, until we get a lift to… Paris! The French man who picked us up speaks as much English as we speak French, so here we are – three silent people heading for Gaye Paris!
We are dropped off 2 km from Paris because the man who gave us the lift is continuing South. Maybe we should have stayed with him?
After fifteen sweltering minutes we get a lift into the city from a black Frenchman named Eric.
We arrive at midday, making it a twenty four hour trip from Nottingham to Paris. We wander around and then sit outside a bar to have two beers each. Afterwards we work out that they had cost £15!!
After that catastrophe we walk to the Gare du Nord train station. Rich has gone walkies trying to find the Information Centre and Bureau de Change. I’m left sitting here on the floor of the huge train station watching various people of various cultures but mainly watching women.
Quite a while (fifty minutes) has passed. I have been hassled by a woman begging money for her baby. It seemed like a con to me, but who knows. I said, “Imposseeblé”. Also a young man tried to sell me drugs. At first he thought I was Italian, which I found quite flattering. Perhaps I have caught the sun a bit.
I am enjoying all this immensely.
Rich returned and left again. He’d been in a queue waiting for information and then he went to get some French money.
Now we do a spot of busking in the Metro and I discover that not only can I play the wooden whistle/flute that I bought with me but I can also do it in front of strangers. We make about a quid and, knackered, catch a tube train to a bus stop and a bus to a campsite.
Without paying the campsite fee we set up tent next to another tent occupied by three young ladies… and promptly fall to sleep in front of our tent for a bit.
It’s beginning to get dark and a heavy thunderstorm has begun!
We dive into the supposed safety of the tent but soon the tent is soaked and battered by the rain and we have to vacate.
We decide to abandon the tent there because it’s crap.
We end up under the shelter of a veranda next to some lockers.
Here we chat and sign language with an Italian called Davida.
Later, two of his friends have joined us: Mathew (“Maitew”) and a quiet one whose name is unknown to us. They have been to a Rolling Stones concert that can’t be far away because we can hear the music slightly and fireworks as the concert ends.
Richard has decided that what with the rain and things, enough is enough and he will be going back home tomorrow…
He goes for a shower and then I do, after which Rich and Davida take it in turns playing the guitar while we all sing songs. I’m having a fantastic time. We drink a bit of beer. I fall to sleep first.