Oxford University Cave Club

Expedition: "Gustuteru 1996"


Extract from the log book - Travelling too hopefully ...

Nathaniel Mumford

It had never even occurred to me until John wandered into the yard late on Thursday afternoon and happened to mention it to Anita. It didn't even worry me too much on the drive down to Newhaven - there were other things to worry about, such as whether we would catch the ferry, what had happened to Tale and Lyle's delivery, and Alex's music collection. After all aren't these the days of no barriers in Europe? You would think that they would be happy to let us out the country. Apparently not.
"Can I see your passport please?" said the nice man at the barrier. Some people don't watch the news obviously.
Mumble, mumble.
Several embarrassing moments later ...
Nice man: (incredulously) "Are you really going to leave him?!?"
Pauline: (nodding eagerly) "Yeah."

Exit van rouge stage right. Thus I was marooned in Newhaven with a sleeping bag, 49,000 pesetas and 65 pence, without a passport, anywhere to sleep (10pm) or any idea what to do.

I rang Steve, looking for inspiration. Sharon answered and said he was down the Berger. Chris as well. Don't have Tim's number. Arse. (By now I'm down to 45 pence).

Then I remember Fleur lives in Brighton, just down the road.
Me: "Erm, Loveridge, something Villas, somewhere in Brighton?"
Directory Enquiries: "OK"
(Come on, come on, I really need this ...)
"The number you require is ..."
(YEAH!! Expedition sponsorship secretary dances round phone box like a nutter).

Phone rings.
Me: "Can you help me, I've got no passport and stuck in Newhaven and I've only got 35 pence and the vans gone to France", ramble ramble etc.
Fleur's Mum: "Fleur's not in, sorry. Who are you? Shall I phone you back?"

The upshot of all this is that I'm generously offered somewhere to stay and send my passport, although I still have to find somewhere to stay Thursday night.
As I wander down the street I pass the time of day with bloke on his way to the pub.
"You come off the ferry then?"
I tell him about the passport fiasco.
"Do you want to come back to my place?"
I make my excuses and spend the night on the quay.

Next day I go shopping in Brighton before arriving chez Loveridge in time for tea. Fleur turns up and laughs uncontrollably at me before going camping for the weekend. Fleur's mum and dad are going out, so I spend a thoroughly enjoyable evening with them and their friends playing Trivial Pursuit and having beer and crisps poured down my neck. I've never been looked after better in my life.

Next morning my passport has arrived, so between breakfast and lunch we hold a council of war around the table, a huge pile of ferry timetables and the phone. When I've finally decided on the Plymouth-Santander sailing on Monday morning, Fleur's mum and dad (Maggie and John) make me up what amounts to complete continental hitch-hiker's survival kit: a map of southern England, a map of France and north Spain, lots of card to write hitching destinations on, a black marker, a list of Youth Hostels, the pile of ferry timetables and a HUGE packed lunch. Really nice people.

After that it was all plain, er, sailing.

I hitched from Brighton to Arundel, Bournemouth, Dorchester, and spent Saturday night in the park in Bridgport. Sunday I hitched to Honiton, Totnes, and arrived in Plymouth Sunday afternoon. Slept under a van on the ferry car park and caught the ferry which reached Santander Tuesday morning. Four buses saw me to Lagos by late afternoon, where I learnt I'd missed all the horrible weather and most of the horrible carries.