Wednesday 31st December. London, England.

One thing I forgot to allow for when planning to hitch my way around England, is the short winter days. If you sleep in, and get off to a late start, you'll be left with a window of three or four hours of daylight to get where you're going. It's a different ballgame to last summer in Alaska, when you could hitchhike around the clock. Ann's brother John gave me a ride to the motorway yesterday morning, about 11:30. From Portsmouth to Red Hill is only a hundred miles or so; I figured it would be an easy afternoon hitch. Jo in Red Hill was expecting me by about mid-afternoon. When mid-afternoon rolled around, I phoned to let Jo know that I was still at Portsmouth. There was a local bus stop nearby, so I caught the number 21 into town, and caught the next train to Red Hill. Jo picked me up at the Godstone station, near Red Hill at six o'clock, and I hoped that afternoon wasn't an indication of what hitchhiking England is going to be like. I don't see why it shouldn't be as good as it was seven years ago.

Jo lives out in the countryside, in a house of books- or so it seems. Since she quit her job, she keeps the bills paid by buying and selling books on the internet. There are boxes of books all over the place, while the house is being renovated, but Jo insists there's still some degree of organization to it. .........

As I emerged from Earl's Court Underground Station, it suddenly dawned on me that finding a bed at a backpackers hostel might not be so straightforward. It was New Years' Eve, and every man and his dog would be gravitating towards London... maybe. If the Nevern Hostel two blocks from the station was full, there were a few other options within walking distance. If they were also full, what then? Luckily, it didn't come to that. The Nevern Hostel had a note taped to the front door, apologizing that it was fully booked, but when I enquired further, there was actually one bed left. Phew!

So here I am in London on New Years' Eve. I don't know anyone in the city, and I'm not in the mood for celebrating, even if I had any money. Almost everyone at the hostel has gone into the city, but there are a few of us that are relatively underwhelmed by the whole occasion; we're watching a Jet Li martial arts movie on the tele. Woo hoo.......

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