Waking up in Hopwood at an old friends felt good. I always think being with friends is like being at home. The kind of friends you don’t have to act with or force conversation even though you haven’t seen them since the last ‘occasion’. I found a kind of home here. This was John and Anna’s new home in fact and they were settling in and finding their way. Being in someone else’s home is odd, I opened every cupboard before I found the cereal. Looking for a home is a bit like that, opening every cupboard until you find the one you need. Shutting some abruptly and letting other slide slowly to a close.
We made sure the door was locked and went to our favourite place for beginning encounters, the side of the road with our usual cardboard plea. We were picked up by a couple, the lady was blind and her husband was her carer. They went completely out of their way to take us but this was usual for them. He would drive her round all over. They especially loved Cornwall and the seaside and we imagined the smells and sounds of the sea.
We waited at the train station a little grumpy and sceptical as to whether our next lift was going to show up. People coming and going, changing trains, crunch of crisps, shoop of door opening, scream of train arriving, squeal of shoe. Suddenly our ride arrived.
Travelling through Birmingham city centre inside a limo looking out into the streets was surreal. People were spotting the limo then quickly looking away as if it was forbidden fruit or they were trying to avoid being impressed by something so hedonistic. We had coke (a cola) from champagne glasses and wondered what kind of people we might be in another life sitting inside the sparkling shimmering interior. We were jolted back into reality, dropped off in the busy Birmingham city centre where we rode the lift in Waterstones several times and wondered if this counted as a form of transport. It was a great lift, the kind that actually goes fast and makes your stomach jump like a pirate ship at a fun fair. Kicks for free.
We left Birmingham on the train, met a lady transporting a giant cupcake and headed for home but not the end of the road. Langley Mill Canal boat provided our bed for the night, friends, pizzas, wine and a water on the sea before we would continue our journey in the morning.
Distance travelled: 61.3 miles