Day 19, Loch Lomond to Manchester (17th August)

As the days counted down towards both Cath and I’s A-Level results we were getting a little worried. We had planned that we would be in Manchester at Cath’s Uncles just incase our results didn’t go as planned. Our results day was on the 18th August (tomorrow) meaning that we had to drive down to Manchester.

One very vivid image I have of waking up on this morning was when I opened the back of the van to stumble out to this mans very confused facial expression. I smiled at him looking rough as I always do when I get up with my wild ginger hair pointing in all sorts of directions. “You stay here overnight?” he asked, in which I replied “Yup, beautiful isn’t it” whilst looking out to the Loch. As we talked, bit by bit he unpacked a blow-up kayak from the boot of his car. When he had blown it up I helped him carry it over the wall to the side of the water. In the time following saying goodbye as he paddled of into the distance I decided in the spur of the moment kind of thing that I would go for yet another swim. Getting changed into my sodden, oddly smelling wetsuit due to the other nights swim was the only bad aspect of this idea; the water was actually quite refreshing after getting used to it.

Because Manchester was over four and a half hours drive, Cath had to hurry me out because I was enjoying myself too much. I stripped the wetsuit off in the middle of the road as there was no other space I could change and we started the first leg of the journey. I volunteered to do the first half as Cath prefers driving on motorways, as in her words, she thinks she ‘bosses them’.

We only had a brief stop at the services to change who was driving – it was here where I was tempted to spend over £10 on food. Normally on road trips to Northumberland with the family I would buy us all (I say ‘us’ but in the end I normally eat them all) a 12 pack of doughnuts, but this time as we were on a budget I managed to walk away.

2 hours later we were nearing the outskirts of Manchester - we were both quite excited to get there as it meant that we could shower - the water from the mornings swim had made me feel like I smelt of dead fish. ..We were very lucky with the journey on our journey - there was very little traffic so we just flew down the motorway.

On our arrival Cath’s cousin, Elliot (who is about 4) ran out the house to say what I thought was going to be a hello. “You have to buy me ice cream!” he looking up at me before I could even get out of the van. “Hello to you too!” I replied, he repeated himself and then ran round the other side of the van to hug Cath. It turned out that Elliot knew exactly what time the ice cream truck came round every day and it was nearing the time of its arrival when we turned up!

During the evening that followed we had an amazing BBQ that Pam and Kev (Cath’s Auntie and Uncle) cooked up. As well as being treated with this amazing feast we had a double bed made up for us and offers open to use a washing machine. If there is one thing I have learnt from this trip it is that clean clothes are a god send! With our bellies full, and clean clothes we then went to bed with the daunting day that lay ahead us…. Results day.