Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Not So Accidental Hobo's

My time spent living in London does tend to make me feel very much unlike the adventurous globe trotter. On occasion I'm able to grab my rucksack, get a cheap bus ticket to anywhere and take it from there. (OK, in reality this has only happened once. But I'm hoping it'll stick.)

A couple of weeks ago on a rare long weekend from work, I booked coach ticket to Brighton and was ready to go off on a Friday morning without any money or accommodation and a 'let's see what happens' approach. The day before I was due to leave a fellow traveller, friend & sucker for the unknown, Ariane, decided she'd join in the adventure.

We arrived in Brighton greeted by rays of sunshine and people basking on the beach, revelling in those golden rays we so rarely see. Naturally, we ditched any sightseeing we should've done and headed for the beach. And there we stayed–  literally.

My original plan was that if I didn't find any accommodation, not that I'd looked at all, I'd sleep on the beach under the pier. Ariane, armed with £8 and a sleeping bag and myself armed with £20 and, well, that's all, met up with a Couchsurfer  on the beach where we shared baked beans and
bread. (Poundland special 2 tins for 99p!)

Craig the CSer & Ariane after Baked beans for dinner
The three of us hung out for a few hours and when he found out we had nowhere to go, offered us a place to sleep. We turned down the kind offer for a night on the beach, as one does. The sun set and things got cool, we headed for the nearest pub to see out the rest of the night until bed time.

At about 10pm we decided it was time to drink our own (budget) cider on the beach and turn in for the night. We shivered through the two litre bottle and some cereal from Poundland before deciding it was time to get some warmth and sleep.

Being a Friday night, the students of Brighton were out in their numbers and it was hard to find a decent spot to rest our weary heads–  we'd abandoned the 'under the pier' idea since the beach was too windy and cold.

The view of the alley from my bed
By this time the night was an icy 6 degrees and I
finally understood the concept of 'wind-chill factor'.

We scouted out a quiet alley next to a resturaunt and some flats. Ariane laid down her sleeping bag and I, um… I hadn't thought that far and just laid. I curled into a ball and soon the laughs and clip-clops of party-goers faded into a somewhat comfy sleep. This didn't last long, as I presume my being still for so long and the wind that had picked up caused me to feel terribly cold and I shivered awake. Soon I was waking up a reluctant Ariane for us to find a warmer spot.

Bed time- I get the top bunk!
Ironic that the restaurant we sleep
next to is called 'The House' ? 


Eventually we found somewhere I thought would shield us from the wind and we crouched behind some sort of extractor fan boxy things. The sounds of the streets were louder, the seagulls more annoying and the wind excruciatingly colder. I wrapped up tighter in my ill-prepared, summer attire and Ariane's beach towl and spent the rest of the night rocking back and forth like the autistic kid in Bruce Willis' Mercury Rising.

Slept behind those box things behind the railing
Cold, hungry and bored the night wore on slower than I've ever experienced. If I did doze off it wasn't long before drunk shouting in the streets or squawking seagulls woke me up.

Soon it  began getting light and at 5:45 we decided that we had to move before the town began to stir: the streets were already being cleaned and workers were arriving at work.
Smelling like hobo's we dusted ourselves off, gathered our rucksacks and jumped the railings onto the street. Where did we head? The only place that was open at that ridiculous hour. The beach.

We walked along the beach for a few hours, not feeling any warmer but able to laugh about the whole thing and recount the annoyances of the past night.

Wish we had the £1 barbecue the night before-
look at that flame!
After a while we found ourselves at Mc Donalds where we splurged on a coffee and our bits of cereal from Poundland. We spent another few hours there, freshened up in their bathrooms, wrote a message in a bottle, laughed at our antics and plotted our next adventure. With our precious pennies dwindling we went back to our 'beach house' to have breakfast of more baked beans (this time we had a barbecue courtesy of Poundland) before going to the park to catch up on some much needed sleep and warmth in the sun.

Breakfast on the beach. More Beans!

Unable to face another night in the cold I asked the very Couchsurfer who (obviously thought we were completely nuts) offered us his place the previous day if we could crash at his.

Our supplies from Poundland: Beans, cereal & cookies= £3
All I can say is that if I'm ever asked about the craziest thing I've ever done, I won't have to think twice about my answer. Oh, and that I never want to eat Baked Beans again...
Passed out after beans for lunch!

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