Photo Tour pt.7: Couch Surfing in Carlisle

Carlisle was a new place for the both of us, amplified by our notable lack of friends in the area. Years ago I became a part of CouchSurfing, a network for travellers looking for fellow travellers to hang with and a place to crash. My account hadn’t been active for years, so I deemed it best just to start over so I created a joint account with Jazz in a bid to get somewhere to sleep.

Our only real option in Carlisle was a guy called Adrian. He’s an experienced couchsurfing host with some 70-odd references over the past decade of being on the site. We had none. Fortunately, he got back to us and agreed to let us crash a few nights, and we ended up staying in his home for the best part of a week.

Carlisle is a quiet town and is sprinkled with some pretty intriguing artwork if you look hard enough.

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Though some of it is less inspired.

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My parents had some paperwork that I needed to sign urgently, so they’d arranged to come to Carlisle for an afternoon and drove out.

We headed to the centre for a walk about and scoped out the Cathedral.

I’ve been away a lot longer than I originally expected, so it was great to see them for an afternoon.

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Adrian’s a pharmacist, seasoned traveller, and a bouldering enthusiast. To be honest, I’m fairly sure he’d be more than happy bouldering and talking about bouldering for the rest of his days if other responsibilities weren’t in his way. He welcomed us into his home, tea was drank, and BBQ’s were had.

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Adrian grows all sorts of plants and herbs in his garden, and we made a ridiculously good pesto almost entirely from his garden. That, along with some vegan burgers, hotdogs and vegetable skewers, we all stuff ourselves proper.

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As Adrian was on call for work during our stay, he was fine with us coming and going as we pleased. We made use of his house for a couple of quick shoots.

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But also ventured into the town.

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Just one thing I love about shooting Jazz is her on the fly desire to take photos in front of things that most people wouldn’t give a shit about. Like this roadwork mess.

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During the week Jazz was booked by a relatively local photographer called Gerard to shoot some street photos and also for some portraits in a coffee shop that he’s working on. Gerard was great – and a fellow Fuji shooter – so it was nice to chat to another laid back bloke about cameras and the like, while he casually got on with his shoot.

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Toward the end of our stay, Adrian had arranged to head out to a favourite crag of his with his friend Gem after work one evening. He took us to Whitehaven in the morning so we could spend the day exploring a new area, and also so he could pick us up after work and take us out to the crag with him.

We walked to the harbour in Whitehaven and walked along the coast to Parton.

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The first hour in Whitehaven was hell. A combination of being irritable in the morning and the fact that if 95% of the people we encountered got any more backwards they’d be getting younger.

That said, we found a nice wee cafe and got some chips and then got gone along the coast where there was significantly less humans.

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On the walk back through Whitehaven, we noticed a lot of independent shops were closing down, and it was quite sad to see. Seeing empty buildings just reminds me of being back in Scarborough.

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Once Adrian finished work we met and he drove us out to a place between Mosedale and Mungrisdale if my memory is working. Either way, just imagine a place with some grass, one road, a ton of sheep and some rocks and hills and you get the idea.

The sun was beaming and I got so hot I just gave up and laid by the side of the road in my pyjamas listening to 80’s music, much to the confusion of a couple of cyclists that made their way past.

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I was looking forward to shooting photos of Adrian and Gem climbing. It’s something I actually want to get into as I love bombing around and climbing things myself except I’m just too fat and lazy to actually practice and it looks hella intense and I know when I’m not gonna be able to commit to something.

That’s probably a very defeatist thing to say but I’m doing a million other things as it is, so I like to think I’m just being practical.

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Our first joint couch surfing experience was a success, and the time with Adrian certainly made me want to do it more. So hopefully we’ll be able to rely on this a little more on our adventures forward.

Next stop, Keswick & The Lakes!


If you’re following this hitchhiking adventure you can access all the photos so far on my B-Sides blog available through Patreon for $7.50. Your subscription grants instant access to 4,250+ photos and means I can fund new projects and afford to live in the process. Thanks!

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