I decided that I would attend the Occupy The London Stock Exchange protest on the 15th October. I had put out feelers to find someone that could give me a lift there, even managed to make arrangements to get a lift from Hereford, which fell through. So a couple of days before the day I decided to hitch along the M4.
The day before I went with friends to the Gower to take in the sights of a beauty spot called Three Cliffs. It was an awesome place to visit and I would highly recommend anyone to go see it if they are ever in the area.Whilst there I did some filming for my blog (yet to be edited) . Following the visit to Three Cliffs we stopped off at my friends parents house to collects some gardening equipment as I had offered to do some work in my friends garden but they didn’t have the tools needed. After we went back to my friends house and I began to get ready for the next days hitching and visit to London.
I finished packing my bag with everything I needed and got an early night. Because I had gone to bed really early (about 9:30pm) I woke up at 2 am and realised I hadn’t charged my camera. I Then realised I couldn’t find my camera, Argh! Camera nowhere to be found. I really wanted to film what happened at the protest and was perplexed at not finding my camera. I pretty much stayed up after that and by 7am I was feeling very tired. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me getting to London, I was determined to go.
My friends woke up and between us we figured I had left my camera at my friends mothers house, unfortunately too far away to go and fetch and set off to London, so I decided I would have to go without it.
I got a lift with my friend who took me to a layby approximately 2 miles from the M4, it was there my journey began. I stood in the layby for well over an hour , My chances of getting a lift from there seemed very slim and I was loosing patience, so I decided to walk closer to the M4 itself. After stopping at a junction and asking for directions to a good place to stop I was told I needed to walk about another mile up the road via a path which took me to a roundabout . I waited there for about a half hour until a Lorry driver stopped and picked me up.
The lorry driver was only taking his load to Cardiff , It wasn’t all the way to London but I thought oh well at least it is a start. The driver dropped me at Cardiff services Junction 30, I thanked him for the lift and he went on his way. So there I was on the entrance to the slip road waiting, I waited for about ten minutes but there didn’t seem to be much traffic. I glanced down at the barrier that I stood next to and there was som graffiti and it read something like “This is a really crap place to hitch from” Folllowed by more graffiti “I was stuck here for ages”. Suddenly my hopes of a lift were almost gone. I stood there for some time, cars passed but no one wanted to stop, until a guy pulled up , I opened the door and explained that I was going to London and he agreed to give me a Lift.
Very shortly it appeared the guy wasn’t intending to give me a lift and he seemed a bit weird to me, the way he asked if I had a wife was a bit creepy. I explained that I would get off at the next junction but when we started to come off the motorway he was asking if I wanted to go for a coffee with him In Newport. I politely declined and explained I had to keep going to get to London.
Only having travelled one junction in such a long amount of time was very frustrating , but I was still determined to get to London.
I stood on the roundabout thumb out hitching with a sign saying LONDON for what seemed like a lifetime, Not a single inkling of a lift. All I got was verbal abuse from the local youths in their cars, it seemed like every few minutes someone in their car would hurl abuse at me from their car windows. After about 5 hours I had decided to head back to Swansea , the only available option for that was the slip road heading up to the M4 west. I headed up the slip road and found a suitable place to stand.
I was very frustrated and very, very tired by this point. I stood there for some time and people were still abusing me verbally and play jokes like driving as if they were stopping and as I approached driving off again beeping their horns. I stood there thumb out cars passed until the a Highways Agency Landrover pulled up.
Highways Agency patrols the Motorways making sure people are following the rules of the road.
The guys from the Landrover explained to me that walking up the slip road was very dangerous and was a fineable offence. I explained that I understood the danger but what else could I do ? I then went on to explain the previous events. They then offered me a lift back to Junction 30 where it was at least a little bit safer.
So there I was back at Junction 30, waiting and waiting and waiting…… . I was now at my wits end tired and hungry I decided I needed to find somewhere to pitch my tent for the night. I headed for the services and found a spot that looked worthy of camping on next to a picnic table. The only thing was there where cars in the car park opposite and this wasn’t a campsite so I decided to wait before pitching my tent.
In the meantime I went to find food. I managed to find an open skip with food that had been discarded that day. So I grabbed a Large Roasted Veggie Couscous and a GU Hot Chocolate Soufflé . All good quality and still very good to eat. I took my food back to the picnic table and ate my food and made a phone call to another friend. It had now gone dark I decided to put my tent up.
I was half way through putting my tent up when from the corner of the area where I was pitching my tent came a small gang of teenage girls. They were all obviously perturbed by the fact I was pitching my tent there and ran by squealing and shouting. I just ignored them and continued to finish my tent. I had finished my tent and looked over to the car park where the teenagers had headed and they were all there still. I could hear them talking and it sounded like they were up to no good but I thought ‘no, that’s just me being paranoid’ so I ignored them and clibed into my tent to get some sleep.
After about 20 minutes or so I could hear voices outside my tent , then there was a bright light shined on my tent . It was the same teenagers, they had come back. They were shouting allsorts of things Like who’s that and are you in there bell end?. With that I began to unzip the door to my tent, the girls screamed and ran back towards the car park. I decided it would be best to see if the management of the complex could assist me.
I went inside and spoke to the manager of a fast food counter and he agreed to go and get them to move on. The manager of the counter explained that there would be a security guard on at 10 pm and that I should speak with him about it, as it was very likely they would come back even after his warnings to them . From that point I kept an eye on my tent from a distance until I was sure I could get in a go to sleep with no hassle. About an hour had passed and there were no signs of the girls on the complex or near my tent, so I decided I would try to sleep in my tent .
I laid there quietly for a while and nodded off to a semi sleep state as I was still wary of the teenagers coming back. All of a sudden there were voices , this time they weren’t female voices. It would seem that the girls had told their boyfriends and sent them to come and have a go at distressing me. I shouted some expletives from inside my tent and began to open the tent door, by the time I had got my boots on they were out of sight, but I heard one of them say they would do an hourly patrol, meaning they were coming back.
It was just 10pm so I went to talk to the Security Guard. I explained what had happened and until he realised I was in a tent he was ok, then he said if you are camped in a tent we will have to remove your tent. I explained that I had no where else to go but he was adamant that I couldn’t camp where I was. He did mention some small patch of grass over the other side of the complex near some offices where I could put my tent.
With that I went to my tent to take it down. The tent was now wet and it was dark, which made it difficult to re pack my tent and bag. I packed my tent and bag and went into the services where he was posted. I showed him my tent and explained that I’ll try for the place he mentioned as it was only for one night. Once he realised that my camping was only for the one night he said that I could re pitch my tent where it was. But in light of the previous harassments It was far from Ideal. I said that I would go have a look for the place the security guard suggested but all I could find was a piece of grass next to offices barely big enough for a small picnic blanket.
I headed to the back of the services where the lorries park over night. I sat down leaning against the wall of the services using my back pack and tent as a rest hoping to get some sleep.I was just a short distance from where my tent was pitched and wasn’t there for very long before I heard the stones being walked on next to where my tent was pitched earlier. I didn’t want to camp there so went in to explain to the security guard that the teenagers had come back. After a small discussion he decided that he would let me sleep in the services on a chair providing I got up and acted like I had only just got there. I assured him that would be no problem and thanked him for his hospitality.
I managed to get a couple of hours sleep at least and morning arrived, at about 7am I began to hitch again. After some wandering to and from the services asking people for lifts I decided I would head back up to the motorway. Before doing so I grabbed a bit more food from the skip so at least I had some food to keep me going.
It took until 9 am before I got a hitch, though it was only one junction I was grateful to be off the junction I was on. I waited a further hour before a farmer from Maestaeg picked me up and dropped me a further 14 or so miles down the M4. I found myself at the Junction for Bridgend , and Idecided that I was going to have fun with any of the people that wanted to be abusive to me.
A moment later a car full of youths came by sarcaticaly sticking their thumbs up, I simply smiled and waved back , it was much better than getting frustrated at them. Within a few minutes of that I got a lift in a really comfy Chrysley MPV. From a couple, the driver said he would drop me all the way to where I was going. What a nice guy. He did cheer me up, had me LOLing all over the place, He claimed to be the of love child if Dylan Thomas (Famous Welsh Poet for those who don’t know).
It wasn’t long before I was back to where my adventure began.
I can say I have learned something from this experience. If people are laughing at you, Just laugh back at them. How does that saying go?..... “You laugh at me because I’m different? I laugh at you because you’re all the same!”