I have several memories from today. One that stands out is the breakfast. Beans, superb sausages, proper bacon, bread and butter, egg, tea. In a cafe. In Birmingham.
Yes. Brum. The Midlands. Not Alabama.
My flight landed at Stansted shortly after midnight, and by 2am I was unconscious on the concrete floor with my rucksack as a pillow. I woke around 5am, munched an orange as a starter, brushed my teeth, freshened up and started plodding towards the M11. Before I’d got half way, a nice man in a white van picked me up and drove me to where the A14 crossed the M11.
I jaywalked across the big roundabout and was surprised ten minutes later when an 18-wheeler pulled up. I’ve only ever had one lift from a trucker before, mainly due to their insurance. The last guy that picked me up was in the UK many years ago and he was hauling several million pounds worth of aluminium. This driver had a trailer full of liquid with a flashpoint around 20 degrees centigrade. Thankfully it was 7am and 11 degrees so I wasn’t about to explode.
My driver for the journey to the M6 J6 was Sophia, a 30-something lesbian with two children and a wife back in Belgium. Her wife was pregnant with their third child (Sophia had borne the first two). You certainly meet a variety of people when you travel. Amazingly, I was dropped off a ten minute walk from Aston Villa FC, right next to the car park I usually inhabit when I go to away games there. I was also six or so hours earlier than I expected.
As luck would have it, Lyse (who I’d met through Couchsurfing) is an absolute sweetheart and came to get me at a moment’s notice. Eventually. After I spotted her driving across the A38 at the next junction down.
“What are you driving?”
“A silver Focus. I just crossed over the A38.”
“Erm… is there a minibus behind you?”
“You need to head north a bit. I just saw you cross the next bridge down from the one I’m stood on.”
Lyse took me to her rather swanky pad, and provided me with a key, a broadband connection and directions to a nearby greasy spoon. This is where I tucked into my breakfast. Much as I enjoyed my falafels over the last week or two, it was nice to have a decent full English in my belly after so long. Best sausages and bacon in months!
So I’ve spent the day catching up on stuff, relaxing, repacking all my luggage, randomly texting and ringing people and so on.
To those who didn’t spot I was heading Brit-wards, I’m sorry. The “big return” is supposed to be after The Walk and I don’t want to spoil that moment! Hence I’m limiting myself to the bare minimum of friends contact over the long weekend I’m here before jetting off to Barcelona on Monday night.
Don’t expect any more posts until Monday after Download! In the meantime, a huge thank you to Lyse for being a wonderful hostess, who can make a cracking chicken curry!