I tried walking home along country lanes at night time, but this proved too dangerous. Even in flashing trainers it soon became obvious that drivers could not see me, and that I was risking my life.
I changed my plan for returning north and attempted hitch-hiking in daylight hours. I found a spot next to a slip road onto the A40 and waited. It was not long before a large old-fashioned car with foreign plates pulled over to pick me up. The driver and her five passengers were Czechs on a UK motoring holiday. I stroked the soft hair of the young boy to the right of me on the back seat until he growled at me to stop. He wasn’t a boy after all, but a fully-grown man who found such petting demeaning.
Over the course of conversation with my fellow passengers as we headed north I discovered that they had booked into a flat in Manchester that night. However, they were suspicious of the fabulous deal that they had struck with the accommodation provider. I suggested that they might have been placed in a less salubrious neighbourhood of the city and asked to check the location on a map.
They had been tricked. On consulting the map I saw that their accommodation was in student flats to the south of the city. At first I guessed these belonged to Manchester Metropolitan University, but on closer inspection realised that the institution was Nottingham Trent. A night in Nottingham was not going to be as much fun than one in Manchester. However, a bonus for me was that I would now have the opportunity to visit my in-laws.
Even better, the next city on the Czechs’ holiday itinerary was Edinburgh so I would soon be home at no cost other than friendship of this group of foreign holiday-makers.