Mike had been in contact with the couple we were to meet, so one of them was all set to pick us up from the bus station in Nottingham. The guy was exactly what I expected. A middle-aged bearded boisterous fellow. The first thing I heard him say to Mike was "Is this your mate?" in my direction. Before I had the chance to blurt out "Whoa buddy, it's not like that" I remembered that mate doesn't mean the same thing everywhere. Haha, blurt is a funny word. Let's all use it more often.
Off we went to their house. We weren't in London anymore, so I expected to see more of a spread out suburbia type town, but that wasn't the case at all. England is a little bigger than Maine in terms of square mileage, but it also has nearly fifty times as many people so they have to be a bit more economical with their space. I still saw tinier houses, basically all duplexes, and all made of stone because they don't have acres of forests to cut down for building materials either.
|Which is probably for the best, lest nature take revenge on them too.|
These people were great. Let's just say their names rhymed with "Derek and Paula" (their names were "Derek and Paula") They gave us a bunch of food and tea, and we stayed up talking with them. At one point we asked "why take us in like this?" and their answer was something along the lines of "well why not?" and instead of replying "because you don't know us and we could kill you in your sleep" we expressed our agreement that meeting new people from faraway places is a rewarding experience. They figured if they had the space, they might as well share it, which they had done many times before.
The next morning we took a trip with them to Sherwood Forest. The Sherwood forest.
|Not to be confused with "Aruba."|
Whether or not Robin Hood actually spent time in Sherwood forest, or if his fame was well deserved in the first place, here existed an opportunity to sell all kinds of Robin Hood themed shit, and this was not to be wasted. This time it was keychains/shot glasses/magnets/paperweights/mugs and clothing PLUS plastic swords, hats and bows and arrows plastered with Robin Hood's likeness.
The Major attraction of the forest however, was an enormous tree called "Major Oak". This tree is rumored to have been where Robin Hood spent time hiding. This may have been true, or it may have been a complete lie that only seemed feasible because this tree was so fucking big. So big it couldn't support it's own weight, and they had to resort to using buttresses to keep the branches from collapsing under their own weight.
|"Just let me die..."|
They had people working constantly to clean up the saplings that sprout up around its base, to prevent them from growing and blocking light and soaking up nutrients in the soil that Major oak needed to live.
|"GET OFF MY LAWN! YOU ARE BUT A MINOR OAK!"|
They handed out the saplings to onlookers that wanted to extend the tree's genealogy, and Mike took one of them. More on that later.
At the end of that little excursion, Mike and I got dropped off in downtown Nottingham to explore, see the castle, and pursue debauchery until they picked us back up at 6pm. We arrived at the castle gates just in time for them to tell us they had just stopped letting people in, so we took refuge in the "oldest" pub in England, which happened to be just around the corner.
This little fellow as you can see is called "The Cursed Galleon" and resides in one of the pub's rooms. Apparently everyone that has tried to clean it over the years has died mysteriously, so they just let it get all dusty and gross and put it in a glass case so nobody could touch it.
After a few pints, which by the way are about four ounces larger than American pints, we realized it was 6pm and we were nowhere near the pickup spot. So we had to chug our beers, and get to the rendezvous point as quickly as we could without running, since we thought it impolite to vomit in Derek's car. When we met back up, he asked us what we'd been up to. We told him we had "definitely not spent just about the entire time *burrrpp* at the pub getting drunk".
I still remember some of the funny snippets of conversation. You won't find them funny but I'm going to share them anyway because fuck you.
Derek: Yeah we're famous for queueing, it's not like how they do it in Germany where everyone just rushes to get in the front.
Paula: What? How do you know that?
Derek: Well how do you know anything!? Have you personally experienced everything you claim is true?
Mike: Yeah you're lucky you don't get much snow, we recently had a storm and got about 2 feet of snow.
Derek: 2 FEET?! I can't POSSIBLY imagine...absolute chaos, the country would stop.
Derek: I'm an expert on Chinese Mammalia.
So the next morning we said our thank yous and goodbyes. We told them about our upcoming plans to do some hitchhiking, with stops in Sheffield to see Mike's friend Ross, and Lancaster, to see his sister, our ultimate goal being to make it to Scotland in four days. Derek dropped us off in a good spot to start our hitchhiking adventures, and bode us farewell.
Mike had regaled me with tales of successful hitchhiking he'd done in Ireland, so I was excited to see what types of people we'd meet on the road. Well, hitchhiking turned out to be a great deal more difficult in England.
|Hmm, maybe we should camp...|