With Australia Day in our wake, and a van to pick up this morning, we kick off relatively early, which is a new thing for us.
Prior to today, an early start was around 9/10 am.
We have to be out by 10am, and we have to shower, have brekky, pack the bags and check out before then, so at 7:30, I wake up to Bec standing by my bunk, doing this little scratchy-kinda wake up thing on my leg. I know its meant to be nice, but its kinda creepy when you are trying to collect your unconscious mind.
We get to say goodbye to Mohammad, who we exchange details with and add on FB, so that if the opportunity arises, we can head to Cairo and see a bit of Egypt. I’m not against it at all.
We are inflicted with Justin Beiber playing in the dingey corners of the breakfast room. The room which has the most sanity (least variety of languages), is unfortunately the only room that is playing music too. JB is playing in the background, to which I get paid out for when Bec comes to join me. We get our gear, pinch a towel, cos Bec left hers somewhere in Canada, and get a move on to… THE WICKED CAMPER SHOP!!!
We are going to fulfil the lifelong dream of being those sub-class backpackers, hiring the ratted out graffiti-renovated camper van.
Oh the hype.
Oh the hype was subdued by the unforgiving walk with all our gear again. The more people we meet, the more guilty we feel for the amount of stuff we have. Upon feeling guilty for carrying the stuff we have, we also feel sore. We walk and bus and train to get to the Wicked Camper location, and find ourselves in what is almost an industrial area of London’s inner-back blocks. The closer we get, the less convinced we are that we are in the right place.
We turn the corner to be welcomed by a parking lot with a few cars lined up in the parking lot. We are feeling better about our decisions since we discover that we are actually in the right spot. We walk through the door to the workshop, and we are greeted by nothing at all. Nobody in sight. Then out of the darkness (not really dark at all), emerges a haunting familiar accent. This bloke struts his way to us like he has just smashed back the last of his tinny before having to deal with another back packer.
We go through the hoops and give him our details etc. We find out that he is from Australia, but you can tell pretty quick that he has had a guts full of his job. He has lived in London for the past two years, working for Wicked. You can imagine that they don’t really pay the best of wages. I mean, they hire vans that they have let people go hard at with cans of paint. I can’t imagine that it is exactly a luxury service.
Some of the instructions include “return the car with…”, I am expecting him to say, “a full tank of fuel”, like pretty much anywhere else. Instead, he finished his sentence with “whatever was in the tank when you picked it up”.
“Oh. Right. Ok, this is kinda cool”, I think to myself.
“…and your van is pretty much empty. So just work out the mileage so you don’t fill it up more than you need to”
I knew this was gonna be a little bit of a cowboy’s shop, but this is brilliant.
He continues to tell us about the stories that they have form hiring campers to people that they 100% shouldn’t have. The worst stories are not surprisingly from Australia. The one which takes the cake is of a group of blokes on a bachelor party, who roll the van on it’s side, and just left a note for the company to tell them to keep their bond and that they were sorry. Thats it. Soooooo average. They also had another Italian duo leave a mammoth gash in the front quarter panel of the van. When questioned, they said that they were just filling up and they came back out, and there was this big gash in the van.
No idea how it happened.
I mean, the story seems legit. They got away with it. They lost their bond, but they got away with it. Bloody Italians.
We wrap up our collecting of the van, and make our way to Wales. We fill up the car, and finally get out of the city. It takes forever. We should have found some wifi first. It would have saved us a whole heap of headaches, but we didn’t… So we just followed our noses until we could get some wifi.
We finally found wifi, and made our way toward where we needed to head until we found a supermarket to collect the gear we need. We also needed a GPS. Bec and I split up.
She went and got food.
I got the directions machine.
I hit up a heap of op shops cos I don’t wanna pay 40 pound for a GPS, and finally come across some little shop where this guy has got all sorts of old electronics. I pick up a Tom Tom for 20 pound, and I am happy. It’s dead, so we have to charge it, but once it has charged, it keeps shutting off at a certain point. I go take it back to the bloke, and he reckons that you just need to charge it longer.
Against my better judgement, I decide to just charge it longer instead of swapping it for another GPS in his shop. We wait a while, and it still doesn’t work, so I take it back, and conveniently, his shop is locked up for the next hour and a half.
I call him nasty names in his absence to make myself feel tougher and make my way back to the car. Rehearsing all the things I would say if he was at the shop. We make our way to wales, deciding to stop for the night at an english city called Bath, and meeting Gez at his parent’s place in Wales in the morning.
We spend the next few hours driving through the English country side. Stopping time and time again to take photographs, largely to Bec’s frustration, but met by her equal politeness. She is a legend, and super understanding.
We stop where were feel like stopping, and I sleep for a bit.
We reach this one spot along the highway, where the traffic is suuuuuuper slow. We have no idea why, and it takes for ever. Then, we finally reach this one spot where the traffic begins to clear up, and then we see it. Everyone is driving at nail’s pace because it’s the Stone Henge.
There is no collision.
There is no accident.
Just an attraction.
We debate whether we should drop in and check it out. We opt not to. We got to see it from afar, and to be honest, it doesn’t interest me enough to detour our journey to visit the formation. I did find out that it is really a bit of a wonder of the world. The stones are absolutely massive, and come from miles and miles away. Literally on the other side of the isle. It makes no sense.
We keep moving, and this time, with a pretty decent pace.
By the time we arrive, it is getting dark.
We find ourselves a spot pretty close to the city, and pay for the last bit of parking that we need to to ensure we have free parking for the rest of the night. We head to Starbucks to touch base with Gez and plan our route tomorrow. Upon planning our trip tomorrow, we head back to the car. We consider moving the car to somewhere we can sleep for the night.
Then it dawns on us.
We have already paid to be able to park our car here till the morning.
We can just stay here for the night. Thats right. Right in the centre of Bath. The only downside? Its a Friday night, and there are a fair few punters out, all pretty well intoxicated and just finished watching the rugby game, which we could hear all the Oooooooos and Ahhhhhhhhs from. The field wasn’t that far away. We got the gist of the entire game.
We tucked in and took turns being big spoon.
I’m a considerate kinda husband.
We slept largely well, minus that one guy who rugby tackled the van at 2 in the morning.
Thats about it.
Come back tomorrow,