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On the sleeper train from London to Cornwall, the ticket inspector catches a glimpse of my cardboard John O'Groats sign. Finally, one couple arrive, grinning despite the grimness. As I click the shutter button, I venture: "I don't suppose you're going past Penzance, are you?
I'm a workaholic." His phone rings and he answers it on Bluetooth. " he says to his wife, before launching into a long natter.
With rising petrol prices, a recession and increased environmental awareness, you'd think impromptu car sharing would be all the rage.
Instead, it is seen not just as socially unacceptable, but tantamount to suicidal, especially for a lone woman. Just as there's always a chance you can get attacked on the street, in a bar, or in your own home, of course it is possible if you get into strangers' cars that one will contain a psychopath. The night before setting off, I steeled myself to look up hitch-hiker attacks on Google. I wondered if putting myself in the hands of strangers was akin to signing my own attack warrant, but I decided it was too late – I'd already bought my ticket to Penzance. Shutting the door, she wishes me a good night's sleep, adding ominously: "You might need it." Land's End, Cornwall Phil Mead, 46, a security consultant from Essex It is blowing a gale at Land's End, with the kind of persistent drizzle that soaks you by stealth. What self-respecting tourist checks out the country's most south-westerly point before 9am in a howling gale?
He even tells me about their honeymoon in a leaky tent in the pissing rain, with a giant wet dog between them: "As you can imagine, there was no sex that night." He pulls off at the services before the airport and we swap numbers – he wants me to come back and visit them, and I'm actually quite tempted. Sedgemoor services, M5, Somerset Mark, 43, mobile vegan pizza man from Warwickshire A ramshackle van trailing a pizza oven stops.
Mark, a 43-year-old hippie who runs a mobile vegan pizza company, is on his way home to Warwickshire from the Buddhafield Festival. "I prefer not to have anything about me on the internet." He seems on another planet, but claims that despite having had "the most psychedelic time of [his] life", the festival was drug and alcohol free.