Monday, 5 December 2011


Poem 10 of 230:  LAND’S END TO JOHN O’ GROATS


D2 G3 A2 A3 B2 B3 A2 A3
D2 A3 B2 B3 A2 A3 G2 G3
D2 B3 B2 B3 A2 A3 G2 G3
D2 A3 B2 A3 B2 A3 G2 G3)

At the bold age of twenty-one,
    Via Hong Kong, China, Macau,
I flew from Sydney to London -
    Land’s End to John o’ Groats my vow.

I took a train out of London,
    Found a highway and thumbed a ride;
I headed down toward Brighton,
    Then hitch-hiked roads the coast beside.

On the face of my shoulder bag,
A sketched map of Aus. was my tag;
For said a Scot who’d hitched Europe:
“Some emblem may well boost your hope.”

And drivers throughout the island,
Over a two month riding span,
Were the kindest folks I have met -
I swear not once did I get wet!

I stopped overnight in Portsmouth,
    And one or two nights in Torquay;
Then headed along to Plymouth -
    Still travelling beside the sea.

After viewing rugged Land’s End,
    I began the long journey north -
North-east, rather, before a bend,
    Somewhere in a bit from Bournemouth.

On the way, I saw relatives,
Whom after leaving I did miss -
Their home's cosy atmosphere,
And their local pub's good cheer.

And the hitched-lifts came from many:
An off-work Bobbie, a truckie,
As well as on-duty soldiers -
Thanks, and I’ve not said where each was!

I headed west through South Wales,
    And viewed Cardiff Arms from afar -
I was hitching with local males,
    And they showed me from in the car.

I stayed a while at Swansea -
    Saw the local footballers play;
Then hitched north through Llandovery -
    Beautiful farmland, I must say.

I slept mostly in B. & B.s,
Where the full breakfasts sure did please;
But also stopped in Youth Hostels,
Where it’s the comradeship that tells.

My favourite sites were Bath, Torquay,
Old St. Andrews (noted shortly),
The road Glasgow-to-Inverness,
The Lakes, plus London’s spots, no less.

From Colwyn Bay, I headed east
    To Manchester, my place of birth;
Then on the Lakes my eyes did feast,
    Before I passed by Solway Firth.

Onto Edinburgh, Glasgow,
    St. Andrews, before Inverness;
Then waves from locals were the go -
    Warm folks round John o’ Groats, I’d guess.

(C) David Franks 2003
Hear here -

Sydney from an airliner window; 28/11/15

The 1998 H.K. Airport, with the 2018 bridge
  across to Macau in the background; 11/11/19 

Star Ferry on Hong Kong's harbour; 4/12/19 

Hong Kong Space Museum, where I watched
a 3D movie during my 1988 visit; 4/12/2019

The Peak behind H.K.'s skyline; 4/12/2019

Hong Kong, at dusk, from The Peak; 5/12/19

Deep Water Bay, Hong Kong: good for sports
including, for myself in 1988, golf; 6/12/2019

 Tower of London, nearby Fenchurch Station,
which serves east London - the way I headed
to start hitchhiking back in 1988; 15/9/2014

Cardiff Arms Park - 30 years on; 24/7/2018

 Bath's famous Crescent of terraced houses; filmed 8/4/16

Bath - not just one of my favourites; 8/4/16

Bath Abbey and Roman Baths; 8/4/2016

Bath Abbey by my dad, when 18

Bath's Victoria Gardens; 8/4/2016

Bath's Botanical Gardens; 8/4/2016

Bath's Excel Tennis courts ; 8/4/2016

The Grand Hotel, Torquay; 30/6/2018

Torbay & Torquay Beach huts; 30/6/2018

Bird's eye view of Torquay; 30/6/2018

Sports area behind Torquay Seafront; 30/6/18

Sun-drenched Torquay Seafront; 30/6/18 

Princess Pier & Torbay, Torquay; 30/6/18

Torquay Harbour, from Princess Pier; 30/6/18

Torquay Harbour back to the Wheel; 30/6/18

Torquay Harbour & St. John's Church; 30/6/18

Cormorants near Torquay Harbour; 30/6/18

Nice harbourside balconies, Torquay; 30/6/18

Youth Hostel Association stamp from 1988