We have just had a very hectic but also enjoyable 19 days back in England.
During this time we tried to see as many family and friends as possible, but obviously we were unable to see everybody. We would like to thank everyone that we did see, for making time to see us, and especially those that put up with us staying the night (or nights, in Karen, and Kev’s case). Jac’s brother was kind enough to lend us his car for the whole time, during which we did 2,800 kilometers (just over 1,700 miles), thanks so much Kev.
The massive plus for us driving a Toyota Prius for 19 days, is that I have calculated that to off set our carbon footprint for the past year (during 30,000km in a 5.9L four wheel drive truck), we need to plant two trees, this will then wipe the slate clean! Ok maybe not, but it was a pleasant surprise doing 60mpg in the Prius.
Obviously, seeing everyone for the first time in over 12 months was a big thing for us, but there were a few very special highlights. We did quite a bit of walking in the fantastic English countryside, including meeting and walking on the South Downs with our friends Ray and Aileen, which included a great pub lunch half way (thanks guys), we also had a lovely few hours walk with Kev, Pauline, Jen and Matt, which again ended in a pub (a recurring theme) starting from the stunning Sissinghurst Castle. Jac and I also did a few walks locally around the area that we live. Despite the fact that we were in England in March, the weather was kind to us, and certainly reminded us how beautiful England can be, what ever the time of year.
One day during our trip home will remain in our memories here in Africa for a very long time. We had arranged to stay the night at our friends Richard and Jocie’s over in East Kent, and told them we would be at their house at lunchtime, after a quick hello and coffee, we were told that we would be taking a bus ride and knowing that Richie likes a beer, I assumed it was a bus to a nearby village for a pub lunch. After a short wait at the bus stop the four of us plus Ghillie the Springer Spaniel, got on the bus and started heading for Canterbury. Every time we stopped I expected us to get up and exit the bus, but no, we went right into the city centre. Jocie and Richard, sort of apologised for taking us into town (we are not city folk, but hey a city pub would be fine), after a short walk we entered the side gate (non public) entrance of Canterbury Cathedral. At this point I should point out that Jocie works part time at the Cathedral. After waiting outside the offices for a few minutes, Jocie appeared with a lady called Chris and two short wave radios. With a huge grin both Jocie and Chris announced that we were going to be taken up Bell Harry Tower.
The Tower is not open to the public on health and safety grounds, but Jocie had amazingly got permission to take us up there, after a long climb up the very tight spiral stairs including a brief stop at the entrance to the wheel room (we were not allowed entry to the room), the four of us (Richie and Ghille remained at ground level) clambered through the tiny door out onto the roof of the tower. What a fantastic 360 degree view we had from up there! Including this view towards Kings School (part of the Cathedral).
And this view down onto the main Cathedral and towards the ruins of the old infirmary.
On the way down we paused at the fabulous Wheel Room and marveled at how two men walking in this “giant hamster wheel” managed to bring up the stone and other building materials to this level to enable the building work to carry on above.
Then we came out into a gallery (not sure of the correct terminology), and looked down on the shrine where Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170, and was subsequently buried.
What an amazing experience, we felt very privileged to have been given access to the tower, but I will never forgive Jocie for not giving me warning about it! I didn’t have my trusty Panasonic camera, and only had our iPhone 4s, so sorry for the quality of the photo’s, blame Richie and Jocie!
Next stop was a pub for lunch, then a pub on way back and finally a fantastic dinner in the evening, cheers guys.
We were thoroughly spoilt during our time back in the UK, and probably put on a couple of kilo’s each! Not sure why, but oh the cakes.
We have realised that we have missed a few things while away, these being the long walks, and not having a dog with us! It has also confirmed a few things that we definitely do not miss, these being the hideous traffic in South East of England, and the Television! …………TV has got to be the worlds biggest time waster, and amazingly the UK probably has some of the worlds best TV, but to me it is 99% rubbish, and watching TV very rarely enhances your life, it just wastes it! Rant over, sorry.
We had a small drama at Heathrow Airport on the way back, we had booked return flights with South African Airways, and obviously this was our return leg of those flights, but while checking in, we were asked if we had return flights booked, we told them that this WAS our return flight and that we were returning to our vehicle in Windhoek to carry on travelling. After much debate with lots of people (quite heated at times), we were instructed by a supervisor that SAA could not let us board the flight without a flight booked back out of Namibia! Apparently they are concerned that we may be turned back at the immigration desk at Windhoek Airport, and that they would pick up a fine for this and have to pay to get us out of Namibia. So in the end we agreed to buy two fully refundable flights from Windhoek to Jo’burg. This was a crazy situation, and of course no-one asked to see our return ticket at the immigration desk anyway!
But we are now back in Namibia, we collected Colonel K from the storage near the airport, and then the next day we drove nearly 500km to a campsite near Tsumeb in Northern Namibia, stopping en-route at a Pick And Pay supermarket to restock our fridge and food supplies. Today’s mission was to find somewhere to refill our UK 6kg gas bottle, and our 5kg South African gas bottle, the second one was easy (done a local builders merchants), the UK bottle was a bit trickier and took us to four different places before we managed to find somewhere that could do it, the cost was £7.00.
Poor Jac has come back to Namibia with a stinking cold, which is typical, after we have spent the last year away free of any illness.
Thanks to Jac’s sister Karen, Colonel K is officially the best dressed overland truck in Southern Africa! She has made us some very smart blinds for the inside of the 3 large windows, the main use for these are to drop them down while driving or parked up while away from the truck, this will help keep the inside cool (you are not supposed to drive with the build-in Seitz blinds closed as it puts too much pressure on the spring mechanism), but they will also help with privacy sometimes (we can’t keep them down all night as they stop the air flow, and so the heat builds up). The ties allow for them to be part down so they are really versatile. Thanks so much Kaz x
Tomorrow we are heading North East towards the Caprivi Strip (or Zambezi Strip as its officially known now, Namibia is trying to lose its old colonial roots and changing many old Germanic names), and then into Botswana.
We are so glad to be back in Africa and living in the truck again, and are really looking forward to the adventure that we face over the coming months.