The most ironic lift…

So if you read my blog frequently and can remember long arching themes, you may be wondering, given all the options that are available, how I would travel from my house to a campsite in Glen Coe, Scotland?

Well, the answer is:

  • Get the train (because it’s comfortable, fast, generally has power and is relatively affordable)
  • then hitchike from the station

Why hitchike? For fun, for the challenge, I was in no rush and because generally, the people you meet are the kindest of all people.

So I got to Fort William, walked out of the town onto the road towards Glen Coe and stuck my thumb out. It was a busy road, with lots of traffic going past, but I was just before a layby and there was plenty of room to stop.

Some time went by.

In my experience, the number of cars going past has pretty much no correlation with the speed one will get a lift. A law of diminishing responsibility applies and the more cars on the road, the less inclined people are – conversely on small country lanes – the first car in half an hour may pick you up.

Anyway, back to Fort William, and I’d still not got a lift, and was considering whether I should move to a different place or something. Then, I turn around and see a small car reversing back along the busy road towards the layby. It was quite confusing – I wasn’t sure whether the car had realised it was looking for the layby and had driven past, and now was on a suicide mission to get back to it, or they had decided to pick me up.

In any case I wandered over as the other cards skirted round this car reversing back towards them into the layby. As the car drew along side, the first thing I saw through the windows was that there was a druid in the back of the car. An old man, with flowing white hair – druids were just the first thing that came to mind. As the passenger side came level with me, the window wound down, the driver leaned over the passenger and said

Hey Tim, it’s Nadia!

Nadia is a friend from Manchester who I’ve hiked with, danced with, but only a few times. I was still only just, on first name term with her – and seeing someone who I know so fleetingly, completely out of context, was a massive surprise.

It was not a druid in the backseat.

Nadia’s parents were staying with her from New Zealand where she’s originally from and she’d been giving them a whistle stop tour of the highlands. There wasn’t much room in the car due to all their luggage so me and the druid her very friendly dad, rapidly got friendly with each other and squeezed up into one of the back seats.

It turned out, they were not only going in my direction, but would happily go half a mile out of their way to drop me exactly where I wanted to be… but the irony of meeting a friend from Manchester, on a road out of Fort William, in such circumstances, still hits home to me today.

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