A little preparation
How to prepare yourself for a hitchhiking adventure? Uhm. I have never done it before. I decided to search the internet. All tips or advice will be helpful. It's important to ask people directly for a hitch. And petrol stations are the place to be. If I'll be able to combine these two, then my chances will be very good. And then there is the lesson about not to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere. A lesson I learned the hard way. Ok, so far so good. I have to study the route. Which major cities I have to pass? How will I ever come across the North Sea? There was a solution for all of my questions. At last, I had to moderate my expectations. I didn't want to set any goals. The disappointment often comes from your own high expectations. And in the end, why should I worry? I got all the time in the world. I love it!
Crossing the Sea
The first part of my journey went in a blink of an eye. Unexpected, but true. I got my first hitch in a matter of milliseconds. An American car and two persons with a rather rough appearance. Interesting! And they offered me a ride. They were traveling to England and I got very lucky. It meant I would be able to get across the North Sea. The feeling I had on the boat to England was indescribable. I felt like Jack on the Titanic. He was holing Rose while she was spreading her arms. She was like a bird. The freedom she felt, I felt. Only without the mood and the romance. I'll admit the comparison is a bit strange!
Uncertainty at the horizon
Many conversation and kilometers later I had to say goodbye. Thanks a lot, Oscar and Sabine! They dropped me at a gas station. Because I learned it's the place to be. Delighted and in good spirits I started my hunt towards more success in the world of hitchhiking. Cars came and cars left again. Without me. I asked people randomly for a ride in the direction I needed to go. Every 'no' did hurt a little. Even the truck drivers wouldn't take me! I wasn't used to this. Will I ever leave this place? Is there a place to sleep? Uncertainty all over the place. In a matter of minutes, I went from a happy person to a worried person. It can happen so fast.
I decided to take a break and eat something. I was reflecting on my actions. And suddenly it became a lucky break. An old and blue VW van pulled over in the parking lot. They are really popular and I had to admit I always wanted to sit in one when I had the chance. Maybe this will be the moment? Two cheerful men came out of the van. I asked them where they were heading. The answer was Portsmouth. That's a pity. Not where I was planning to go. One of the guys was really thrilled over the prospect of taking a hitchhiker in his van! I decided to think it over. Taking this ride would bring me more to the west. Which wasn't too bad. But really I already knew what I wanted. This was meant to be. It looked like good fun to spend a while with them!
When Paul and Sean were ready to depart again, I discovered something that dispelled all my doubts. They would travel to Manchester the day after they slept in Portsmouth. This time not only Paul was enthusiastic, but I was as well! If I was in Manchester I was almost there! I asked them: 'If I find a place to sleep in Portsmouth, can I come with you the day after to Manchester?' Paul said: 'No Problem, splendid!' And that's the way it did go. I was invited to hitchhike The Rolling Brick! A legend amongst all VW vans. I was privileged to sit in a VW van for the first time in my life.
A nice ride holds nice people
Once again Paul and Sean proved this to be the case. We had good laugh. Nice conversation, where I had trouble to understand it all because of the engine noise. Not that I care. I gave me a feeling of being on the road. It's a great feeling. On the road to Portsmouth, I tried to find a place to crash for the night. There wasn't much available. Even with the help of Sean options were very limited. In the end, we gave up. Then Paul saved the day with a brilliant idea. He offered me to sleep in the van. What? Are you serious? I was fired up! Paul doesn't even know me and yet he is offering me his van to sleep. This is special. He did put a lot of trust in me and I'm very grateful for it.
After a surprisingly good night of sleep in The Rolling Brick, Sean offered me to go and have breakfast with Paul, some friends and of course Sean himself. I definitely took this offer. It was this morning when Sean taught me how to make the perfect banana pancake. His skill and accuracy matched the standards of a 24 kitchen chef. Maybe, one day, he will have his own show. In the meantime, Paul and his girlfriend made their entrance. They didn't have much sleep last night. Actually nobody had. I was wondering why...
All the while I got to know Paul and Sean better. I was a great pleasure to watch them interact. They went on a trip to the Alps. For two weeks they shoke up the Alps. Paul seems to be easygoing. He doesn't worry too much. He approaches life with a smile on his face. Every day it seems! His humor is killing. Sean appears to be a 'wait and see' kind of a guy. A bit more distant then Paul, but nonetheless a warm and careful person. He guarded the timeframe. Which is quite a task with someone like Paul around. Together they had a lot of fun. They respected each other. To watch and even share a little in their friendship was a truly great experience.
In love with Sweetcorn
After the delicious breakfast made by Sean, we set off to Manchester. I had a great time in the van. Paul was telling his stories about him and The Rolling Brick, also known as Sweetcorn. These mutual love stories were to be taken with a high dose of humor. The stories were as a saga. An epic poem. In which Paul and Sweetcorn travelled the world. One heroic adventure after another. His mission? To keep her going as long as possible and enjoy every moment.
You can find Paul on Instagram. He will share all his adventures and pictures. You can tag along @therollingbrick. Give him some love!
A temporary goodbye
The time went by. Soon we had to say goodbye. I decided to enjoy the last part of the journey in Sweetcorn to the fullest. I knew that my happiness probably wouldn't last long when I'm out there searching for another ride. So far, I was very happy with my hitchhike adventure. Paul pulled over at a gas station. We exchanged our telephone numbers. It happened to be there was a good chance we would meet again. I was planning on walking the Cumbria Way. A beautiful hike through the heart of the English Lake District. Paul and Sean lived in Keswick. A little town which I should cross on my way. We were going to have a beer when we met again! From there I had to make my own way again. But with another beautiful experience gained!
Cellerbrating a ride
Eventually I reached my destination. The beautiful town of Ilkley. The public transport saved me after being dropped in the middle of nowhere. The rest I had to walk. Ilkley is the starting point of The Dales Way. A beautiful walk through many river valleys of the Yorkshire Dales. I recommend it! So I hitchhiked from the Netherland to England in less than two days. Happy moments alternated with lonely feelings and insecurity. I didn't expect things to go this fast. Sometimes it was hard to deal with receiving a lot and not being able to give back. And sometimes I just felt too much. But in the end, the sensation of happiness when someone is offering me a ride is just insane. A moment of true joy. I would not have missed this for the world.
Believing in your fellow man
Hitchhiking is about relying and trusting the one you get a ride from. The same is true the other way around. It was quite an experience. I'm still figuring out if it fits me. Do I want more of this adventure? I'm certainly going to give it more tries. Meeting special people, valuable conversations, excitement and all kinds of feelings. This is what hitchhiking brings to the table. It keeps the blood flowing. I was in search of an adventure. And I got a good one out of it!
I want to thank Paul & Sean, Oscar & Sabine and Laura for their trust and the kilometers travelled together. It's been a special journey. I also want to thank Jack. He offered me a ride from England back to the Netherlands. And I took the chance.