DAY 4 – July 3 1995 – Monday

If the clock here in the caravan is correct it’s 12:30.

To help me on the journey ahead and, to my eternal shame I’m stealing a miniature torch; the alarm clock; chocolate from the fridge; a knife; a small pan; a sleeping bag; a 1.5L bottle of ‘Limonade’ and a pen.

It’s raining again outside. I’m in one of the two bedrooms with the curtains drawn. I’m having a fag, then I’ll have a shower here in the caravan and then I’ll pack and hit the road, Jack.


After a very long walk to South West Paris, stopping for a while in some lovely gardens, I catch a metro the last few Kilometres for the A10 out of Paris. On the Metro is a young lady who smiles back at me. When we arrive at the last stop on the line and get off I try to find out the whereabouts of the A10 from her. She doesn’t know but we both try our best to converse with each other and she gives me a cigarette. When we part I walk off in a direction, hoping it’s the right one… It is.

There’s nowhere at all at the beginning of the motorway where one can stand and hitch. So I walk uphill along the left side of the motorway, in a little gap between the crash barrier and a very tall concrete wall that seems never-ending for about 2 or 3 km.

Eventually, I see a bridge over the motorway where I could escape but I need to cross the motorway to get on to it.

Crossing the motorway takes me about five minutes because of waiting for a gap in the speeding traffic.

When I do run across my body is bowing forward and the weight of my backpack sends me headlong over the crash barrier at the opposite side of the road – I land in a heap in some grass.

A bit of risk to your life (and surviving) is exhilarating.

I cross the bridge but stop halfway to admire the view of Paris from this high vantage point. On the other side I find myself in a village/suburb called Meudon. From here I find a turn off, or turn-in-to, rather to the A10 where I hitch for an hour or two…

I’ve had no joy getting a lift. I did get offered a lift to East France but because I’ve planned to go to the West coast I turned it down.

So I go into Meudon to find somewhere I’ll be able to sleep. Eventually I find an area of woodland behind a small industrial site. After a bit though I decide to try hitching again and walk the km or so back to the ‘turn-in-to’ to hitch for another hour.

Still no joy.

In the end I’ve returned to my sleeping spot. I read some of my book, The Undivided Universe by G. Munro and crash-out with unusual insects for company.

DAY 6 – July 5 1995 – Wednesday

Since waking I’ve packed and eaten and I’m now smoking my early morning fag. Across the way a lad who showed me where to buy alcohol yesterday is walking past with a girl! We say, “Allo”.

I thought about it last night and now decide for certain that I will not go further South with Philippe and family. I’ll start heading back home as it’s now Wednesday and I have little cash left.

From a market I buy a couple of apples and an orange, then I go and buy some postcards and stamps so as to write to my mum, one of the girls I’m seeing casually back home called Jane and my friend, David.

The first postcard I write is to David while waiting to meet Philippe and family. I’d like to say au revoir to the family and take a photograph of them.

I’ve waited at the rendezvous point from 13:30 to 14:30 but they haven’t shown up so I set off. I walk, with hot and sore feet two or three km to the N138 where I buy some bread and chocolate spread from a supermarket. I eventually get a lift from somebody.

My cardboard sign had read LE MANS and the lift I get is from a man who takes me 7 km to a better place to hitch for Le Mans.

I hitch for about an hour.

In the end I’ve decided to try out a campsite that I can see a signpost for.

The campsite is in a village called Lavoir. I walk about the campsite bare footed which is absolute bliss in the cool grass for my hot and sore feet. I sit and eat by a small river, then play the flute for a bit, jamming with the birds.

I refill the limonade bottle with water from one of the campsite taps and go to set up my bed behind a caravan, out of sight.

A man suddenly appears on a pushbike to tell me it’s 17F to stay one night at the site! I can’t afford that and wouldn’t have paid it anyway, so I find some grassland outside the campsite to sleep on.

While I lay in the dark reading my book by the light of my miniature torch my attention is grabbed by the dark outline of a hovering bird a few feet above me… Hovering? … As it flies away I realize it had been a bat.