Friday, 30 December 2016

An overview on my time through Africa (the pre-shipping post!)

Sitting back in the UK, its dark already and its only 5pm, and with Charles still in SA, has made me reflect on my time overlanding.. well it was actually sitting on the plane home with a screaming baby which made me realise that driving was a whole lot more fun! I still remember the day we left.. finishing work, madly having a shower and sitting on my bed thinking do I really want to do this? Charles was convinced I would walk, which, to be honest wasn't a wildly inaccurate assumption! You see I had read the news, formed my own preconceptions and created a list of the most horrifying things that could go wrong that kept me up most nights and had slowly turned me off the idea! How glad I am I went, and whilst there has often been that uneasy feeling about a new country or driving into the unknown, I am beyond happy I went. The moral of my ramblings is that travelling makes you - forces you, to form your own opinions.. yes every country has its difficulties, not so nice people or places, and its problems but, like EVERYWHERE (yes, good old Europe included), this is the minority and how will you know unless you try! That for me has been the biggest lesson this past 14 months! 

Travelling is a very personal thing and what works for some may not work for others! We have met many people travelling through Africa in many different ways: bicycles, motorbikes, overland trucks, Toyotas, hitch hiking and even some other crazies in Land Rovers! You can do it so differently.. hotels, wild camping, camp sites, AirBnB or just a sleeping bag under the stars, and no way is right or wrong. That is what I have loved about this experience, and also one of my biggest gripes; the perception that certain ways are more easy, or not correct or hard core enough! I really feel no way is right or wrong, and no ones adventure or story is less or more interesting.. as long as people are travelling they are breaking down cultural barriers and perceptions, and just widening their horizons.. surely that's good however you do it..??

Since the conception of this idea to drive to South Africa there have been a couple of articles which have really stuck in my brain.. and I have read quite a few! One was sent to me by Mandy before we left, and was named 'How Travelling Abroad In Your Twenties Will Ruin Your Life' ( and the other in September, by Ollie who we met in Togo, named 'Bugs, Sweat and Tears: What No-one Tells You About Overlanding' ( Both articles have their place and both have some valid points, but now being at an end of our trip I have some rather different perspectives!

The first article really interested me before we went, and now after coming home. It basically states that travelling in your twenties ruins your life because you come back a different person and expect home to have changed to match your new found experience.. that you come back to nothing that grounds you and you are forever going to have that bug (it seemed to portray having the bug was a bad thing). It is very tongue in cheek and I can see where they are coming from.. however surely having the bug is a good thing..! It is interesting to come back to it now, and not necessarily agree with a lot of it.. yes you are a changed person but not, I feel, enough that you can't integrate back into society.. but, perhaps that's just me! I have loved coming home, getting back to work and embarking on new challenges.. I have slotted back into life, seeing friends and leaving where we left off. I never expected it to be any different, or feel any different, or have any grand notions of me being a changed person so perhaps that is why it has been so easy. Yes, you can never explain in reply to a 'how was Africa' the magnitude of that answer, but a 'fantastic' will often do!

The second article is another light-hearted article from a new traveller who is complaining (rather amusingly) about some of the less glamorous parts of overlanding.. and trust me there are many moments not put on facebook for those reasons! These are often, however, the bits you talk about! I have used some of their sub-headings but added my own comments (please read the article first!)

There Will Be Bugs

Yes, there were MANY bugs but some more annoying than others..flies are fairly ok.. they don't bite at least and they disappear when the sun goes down. It's the mosquitoes that for me were the worst.. the noise - especially at 3am in the tent when you are using your Kindle light to locate and kill it, then wondering whose blood it has sucked this time (a surprise in the morning), the fact that you have to go up to the tent some nights because they are so bad, how in certain countries they are immune to certain repellents so you have a variety by the 4th country, the multiple itchy bites in the morning,  and because you have to take malaria pills (they gave me crazy dreams and sun sensitivity!). They are definitely the number one worst bug...! Tsetse flies are also up there but we only had them 3 times so they don't quite get the number 1 spot!!

Bad Things Happen To Your Body

Yes, bad things do happen.. but it definitely gives you something to talk about. I have often said you know your an Overlander when you can talk to someone about your toilet habits comfortably but not know their name. There are no barriers and things are shared which, in real life you wouldn't even touch upon. Coming home I have had to sensor and minimise the information shared!

1: Bugs and illness

You can laugh but it has happened to every one.. you eat something bad, or that you aren't used to and you know about it the next morning (and often the morning after that!). I commented to Mandy this Christmas that at least they were spending the evening in the toilet like her and Charles did last year in Senegal.. it happens at random and when you least want it. The worst thing is is that it normally strikes when there are not even basic sanitation facilities, or you are driving 9 hours that day.. I won't tell my experiences of that but luckily we got good at pulling over into laybys fast! There is little you can do but drink water, which in itself is a mine field as again when you are driving you often have to go at the side of the road... many a time I flashed at the locals or passing drivers, it is just life. 

2: Sweat

Africa.. HOT! You get used to sweating all the time and are constantly looking for shade! Nigeria was so hot and humid you would need a shower just attempting to get dressed from your first shower! It was the smelly kind of hot, constantly wiping your brow on your tshirt kinda hot.. it is just one of those things but you do smell and so do the car seats. That coupled with the fact you are hand washing, and often in dirty water makes things interesting.. we had a saying.. it's not clean but at least it smells fresh. A lot of the time we were kidding ourselves but at least we had a go! I will never complain again about using a washing machine! You begin to rate campsites on their showering facilities and are often glad they have running water, cold or hot! It really is the small things, even now getting to a posh campsite (they were all posh in Southern Africa) the first thing I do is check the shower!!

You're Going To Fight: Often

This is the paragraph in the article I don't agree with or relate too.. we were very lucky. Charles is very laid back, and me not so. I get worked up and he ignores me or calms me down, he gets frustrated and I tell him to move on. We were very lucky, and quickly realised that food was often the answer.. we realised we would get a little bit funny around lunch time especially when driving all day, the solution.. eat! We were getting hangry which never solved anything! I am going to extend this to all relationships.. we were very lucky to have Rob and Mandy with us for the first 6 months which, at times, had its great moments and more difficult. It was a very steep learning curve - compromise, team work and communication (I do feel, and I think also Mandy feels, we should have done more communicating). You learn very quickly what makes people tick, when to give people alone time, and when you need alone time which is also very important. Being with more than one person diffused tension, gave us something to talk about and divided up responsibility.. every one had their strengths which we soon learnt to play on. I think it made Charles and I grow up a lot, learn to rely on each other, share experiences and problem solve together. I totally feel that they way to survive is not blame the other one.. if something goes wrong don't point fingers, don't cause agro because you are in it together and can solve it better if you are at each others throat. It has probably been the best pre-curser to marriage we could have asked for!

You'll Wonder What The F*** You've Gotten Yourself Into

Yes, yes, yes.. I only agree! Again I am a panicker and over thinker, as I said earlier I will go over every single far fetched ending to a scenario, settle on the worst, panic about it all night.. then realise once it's over its all fine. I did this A LOT on the trip.. at least once a week. It's just me.. has the trip stopped me doing it? No, but I have realised that I can maybe settle for the second worst option when in panic mode.. no, seriously it has taught me to not worry about it! Before each country it was the apprehension of what was next, what was coming, would there be issues? This was mainly in the more riskier counties and invariably they were fine so why I didn't learn not to panic I'll never know. There were at least 2 points where I was ready to fold.. the first was whilst I had a rather bad stomach bug in Western Sahara and all I wanted was a shower.. we arrived at a campsite and the toilets were full of rat poo, and the showers were copper pipes churning out cold brown water with no shower curtain. If there had been an airport near I would have been out of there..! The second was in Nigeria.. I was again ill, homesick and things had got tricky with visas. At this point going home was an option, but I realised that Nigeria was the place we would get the Cameroon visa so going home would have meant opting out for a month or so and I couldn't do that. Everyone has their lows, but they are outweighed by the highs many many times!

You'll Wonder Why You Didn't Do It Sooner

This is  totally true.. I kick myself for not doing it earlier, but then would I have done the trip through Africa?! All things happen for a reason! It definitely makes me want to do it again!

*an addition* The People You Meet

I have added this subtitle because I think it is important to acknowledge the different people we have met. From locals to other overlanders each one has brought something different to our trip. Of course there are some remembered for the wrong reasons.. the countless police (mainly a couple in Nigeria and Cameroon), the over zealous sellers and idiots on the road. But it is the people who helped us and could provide us with interesting conversation who I will remember! Many names... many people! In particular; the guys on the Oasis Overland Truck who every time we met them gave us a good party; Marlane and Gill our travel parents; the guy in Morocco who showed us around Fes; Kars and Simone, and Patrick and Kris who we met in Togo and a few places after who were like our family for those days; Andi who gave us a lot of  back chat but made us laugh every time we saw him; Ego and her family who was so hospitable and gave us such a fantastic look into Nigerian life in Lagos; the students in Benin, Nigeria, who we partied with drinking African Guinness; the NGO in Cameroon who took us in, gave us food and let us sleep outside their home when we had no where to stay; to the village elder who did his best to placate us when we couldn't get past the padlocked barrier in the DRC; a HUGE thank you to Andrew who got us into Angola when he didn't know us, then showed us an amazing time in Luanda with Kelse (plus planning our route!); to Gill and Roger for coming out to Zambia and challenging my Mum to come too! To my parents also for treating us to Kruger, and doing things we wouldn't have otherwise have done, and to Gill and Roger for that amazing view and their company in Gordon's Bay; to my parents for surprising us; to the guys on the road who tried their best to help Rob with his wheel bearing; to the police who let us get of a speeding fine (a rather dubious looking camera which was definitely reading wrong) because we were tourists, and then suggesting we make a t-shirt of our trip; ALL the Malawians as they were friendly, welcoming and so interesting; Heiko and Ursi for a great few days in Botswana having someone else to travel with (their blog is very good!); Jasper on the farm in Namibia for his hospitality and sneak peek into his life; to Charles' Uncle and Aunt, Rob and Ronel for putting us up in Pretoria for as long as we needed; to every single car guard who has stood in the South African sun for very little money, especially the one from the DRC, with whom we had a great conversation with... you don't meet many people from there; to Nev and Jen who have treated us to some of South Africa's 'off the beaten track' experiences; to my friends at home for providing encouragement the whole way, and to Richard and Lizzy and Rachel who made my first night back easier to get through.. to anyone we have met who took us in (and let us use their washing machine), and anyone I have missed (I need to read my blog to remember!), and to those who have read my blog... I look at the statistics every week and am astounded (1500 hits from America this week!!). Finally I should really thank Charles who put up with me for 14 months, tried to stop me worrying and who pushed me into challenging my comfort zone! 

In conclusion I guess the message I want to broadcast from this blog is travelling or overlanding is personal.. I believe there is no right way and can be suited at any comfort level. If you are reading this debating whether to take the plunge, I can only say do it! Your new house can wait, there will always be another job, children can arrive later, you can save over a few years.. there really isn't an excuse to not do it if you want to. Especially in your twenties.. the travelling bug is a good thing to have, it takes you out of your comfort zone, gives you an appreciation for other people and in the words of an advert travel yourself interesting..

And finally... I was reading something recently which made me think of my own journey these 14 months..

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore (Andre Gide)

**Shipping blog will be up around the middle of February once the car is on dry UK soil - it left Cape Town today so fingers crossed it is floating around somewhere as I write!**

South Africa 5

We were on the home straight, the car was booked in to be shipped (I will write about that once it has happened), Charles had booked his flight for 15th Jan and I was counting down the days (often with dread) till I was home! 

We were finally heading to a Cape Town for a few days being tourists with my parents. The first afternoon we braved the traffic and caught a boat to Robben Island, an island full of past and recent history. Most recently it was used as a maximum security prison for political prisoners, most famously Nelson Mandela. It was an interesting afternoon, a tour of the prison with a former prisoner which was incredibly interesting - seeing where they were kept, hearing their stories of brutality and everyday life. The crux was seeing Mandela's cell, so small and bare. Despite the sadness of the place it was repeatedly said how the place was now an indicator of the positivity of the future. Driving around the island we saw other parts of the island, the graves of the lepers from when it was used as a leper colony, the village and the prison of Thomas Subuwe, another influential political activist. It was definitely a place to visit, watching the sun go down over the island as we got the boat back just summed up the day.

We were staying with Barbara a friend who we had met skiing 5 years beforehand. Her house was in Camps Bay, not far from Cape Town and we spent a great evening with her and crashed on her sofa bed! Day two of being a tourist we hopped on a red bus around the city. It was such a great idea as we could catch it in Camps Bay and get driven around the city stress free. Stopping off at Table Mountain we took the cable car up and down to see the stunning views it held, you could see for miles, well until the cloud cover came in! Hopping back on we walked around the food market for lunch, and spent the afternoon in the Botanical Gardens. It was a great, and cheap way to see a lot of Cape Town in a short amount of time. There was still more I would have liked to have seen but there is always another time! Toni, our other friend who we had also met skiing, arrived that night to Barbara's and amidst a meal and drinking we all caught up! 

It was an early start to day three, up at the crack of dawn to climb up Lion's Head. It was a national bank holiday so it was super busy but we all managed the hour climb (at some points pretty hairy!) up to the top to watch the sun climb higher in the sky. Table mountain to one side, and the Bay to the other it was an awesome reward! That afternoon my Dad ticked off another item on his bucket list and we we're invited to join.. a helicopter ride. As we had our ice cream before hand Dad and Charles were talking about open sides and army style manoeuvres, to which I laughed and turns out they weren't joking.. we arrived to a Huey helicopter ready to head off, safety briefing done we all sat down with our seat belts tight. It was an open sided ex-Vietnam helicopter, and the pilot looked younger than me (turns out he was but was incredible). We became air-borne, and the flight started out fairly calm.. amazing views of Cape Town, the mountains and the sea to the left. This all changed very quickly as pilot began to show us his skills! We did turns, flew meters to the ground and see, and flew up maintains! Much more interesting that a normal scenic ride! Toni and Mum ended up a little queasy but we were loving it! What a way to end our Cape Town experience! For Charles and I it was a quick drive back to Gordons Bay to meet his father, Nev, and Jenny, in their house before we spent an evening with them watching the sun set over the harbour at the yacht club!

Over the weekend we spent with Nev and Jenny we had a great time. Spending Saturday driving around the smaller, less commercial wine farms tasting and buying their products. The service and personable experience really made you want to buy their products even more! Pizza and good company topped off the first day with them, for the first time in a while I was asleep on the sofa by 9.. the afternoon drinking had tired me out! Sunday we all headed off, with Gemma, to the penguins, it was only the second time I had seen them in the wild! There we hundreds and the smell incredible.. the chicks were moulting their baby feathers and looked very tatty! We soon learnt that them and the cormorants are endangered - such a shame these beautiful animals are declining due to over fishing in the seas! Some lunch and a walk around the botanical garden topped off the day and Nev's mac and cheese was the icing on the cake! No complaints from me! 

From here Charles and I did different things, he drove me to Franshhoek to meet my parents and Toni whilst he was going to stay at Nev's until the 23rd. Franshhoek was a very pretty, French looking town with individual house dotted about the beautiful countryside. It was home to many wine farms with many French sounding names.. Dad had booked us all onto a wine tram around Franshhoek. A great idea meaning no one had to drive.. you got on then off again at different farms in the area. It was very commercial, and the farms were huge! The first one was Verde en Lust which was shocking! The wine was awful and the customer service even worse! It was such a shame as so far in my wine tasting experience it had all been so good! The next two were lovely, and the gardens at Babalonstoren amazing.. rows of fruit and plants! Not strictly wine tasting but a nice interlude! Dinner was st Rocos a stunning restaurant up the side of the mountain, the walk was definitely worth it! 

We left Franshhoek and headed further along route 62 towards Barrydale. On the way we visited some more smaller wine farms; much better service and a lot more wine bought because of it.. Arrabella being one of those we bought 19 bottles between us at! We stopped off at another, more expensive, farm but apart from the tasting didn't buy much, here in South Africa the cheaper wines often taste as good, if not better, than the expensive ones! We stopped off for lunch and met Toni's sister, Tracy who was joining the road trip, at Ronnys Sex Shop bar for a quick beer.. Charles and I had already stopped off there on the way down already! Our home for the night was at Wolvesfontein, a gorgeous (or divine as the owner kept telling us), rustic three bed-roomed cottage in the middle of nowhere in the Karoo Desert. It was just stunning and as the sun set we ate our curry and drank some wine! Another tough day in Africa! Charles in this interim time had been spending quality time with his Dad, doing boy stuff.. this, he told me, included finding car parts, tasting pork crackling, eating biltong, drinking beer and generally having a good time! 

After a trip onto a private game reserve the next morning, we slowly headed towards the Wilderness National Park, another place Charles and I had been before. The difference however was amazing, there were so many people (Christmas holidays etc) - all the sites were full and there was a real party spirit going on. It was the last night I would be camping on this trip (sadly not in the Landrover but in the hilux which was just as comfortable). A quick hike up the mountain the next morning and it was off to Knysna for lunch! Our lunch stop at Knysna was right next to the blue and turquoise sea, a quirky restaurant we had the best table right on the edge of the food was different but fantastic as we watched the boats coming in and out of the harbour! 

Our mini road trip was at an end, and we arrived st a Toni and Tracy's parents house on the golf course in Plettenberg Bay! It was very nice, tennis courts, a squash court and a swimming pool on site also! We settled in to a roast dinner braai, something I have yet to experience.. roast chicken, roast potatoes and a variety of veg including cauliflower cheese!! Yummy! Second day I began the transition into reality by having a hair cut and was then joined by Charles in the afternoon, who drove from Gordon's Bay, to play tennis and for a pre-Christmas celebration with my family. We were supposed to be sky diving on Christmas Eve but a rain storm prevented us sadly from doing so! It was bye to my family until England and back to Charles' Dad's house for the Christmas festivities!!

Christmas was a great day, another hot one (which takes some getting used to), and we trecked to Charles' cousins for Christmas lunch with all his family (around 25 in total!). Braai lamb, gammon and a selection of other veggies and goodies for dinner with a lot of alcohol! It was lovely to see all his family again, being joined by Mandy also! Boxing day was a lazy morning, and we went to the Afrikaans Language monument with Nev, Jenny, Mandy and Charles. It was an amazing sculpture, and the view was amazing with a coffee after! 

Mandy's last day was the 27th, she was heading off at 8pm, so spent the day at the Cheetah Outreach, went brandy tasting and then the bird centre. Was a great day again, and a chilled evening was definitely needed! 28th was DDay for me.. suitcase was packed and a lunch of sushi at Oceans 8 in Gordon's Bay! Soon enough it was time to board the plane.. definitely tough doing it but all good things come to an end!

So whats next... I start work next week, and am sat in the dark in the UK (at 5pm) writing this blog! Charles is in South Africa until the 16th Jan sorting out the car which he rubs in my face at all possible chance! The next chapter is about to begin, but the last was pretty amazing!!!

Friday, 23 December 2016

South Africa 4

Leaving Pretoriuskop at 5am we knew we would have a long drive ahead of us. Our aim was to get as far as Newcastle however having gotten down there in good time we managed to get just north of Pietermaritzburg just as the storms rolled in at 5.30pm. It had been a long days driving but was worth it to spend a good amount of time in Durban the next day. Durban was very cool, a surfers paradise, with white sandy beaches and blue skies! Parking in uShaka along the beach front we spent the morning walking along the beach, checking the shops and enjoying not being in the car! After meeting up with an old friend of Charles' for coffee we found some was an interesting affair and called bunny chow, curry (not bunny!) served with a huge hunk of bread. Apparently a local dish, it was very tasty but a bit of a carb overload for me! Leaving Durban we headed just north about 30km away to Jon and Bronwen's amazing Eden like house to spend the evening with them! I hadn't seen them for years but they couldn't have been more welcoming, joking about how we had done well to travel through Africa and make it at the right time for a cuppa at theirs! When visiting as an Overlander I often feel cheeky as we invariably ask to use the washing machine, keep our food in fridges and make the palace look generally untidy, but this said, our hosts were fantastic allowing us to do all of the above, treating us to avocado ice cream (don't mock until tried it's amazing), and even loaning towels and smarter clothes for the evenings entertainment! When I had spoken to Jonathon about coming down he had told us about a charity dinner and quiz for their local animal rehabilitation centre (check out their amazing work at, it was such a fantastic night despite being cheated out of forth place by my spelling mistake.. (no surprises there, but it was phonetically correct!). The food was great, the wine even better and all for a great cause. After getting home and talking till 2am we felt bed (in a proper bed) was called for!

Leaving the next morning we were slightly bleary eyed but after a strong coffee we were off! Our aim was to reach Coffee Bay, again another mammoth trip! As darkness fell we arrived at Coffee Bay Camping and were quickly in bed.. the tiredness had caught up with us! The sun was shining the next morning, and it was nice to spend the day stretching the legs and walking around! Unfortunately the campsite was infested with mosquitos so we quickly escaped to the beach for a swim in the chilly ocean! The beach was stunning, white and with green hill surrounding it. It was small and quiet, apart from the life guard training going on.. heading into the town we stopped for coffee, being accosted by some new locals we sat with them gaining an insight into the culture around there.. not the local culture but the one adhered to by the people coming in.. seasonairs and volunteers. We managed to escape, finding pizza at another place. Coffee Bay was a nice place, but I think we were a bit underwhelmed by it.. the campsite we stayed at was over priced and so full of mosquitoes we were banished to the tent by 7pm - it did make us move faster when doing some exercise - the more you moved the less likely they were to bite. Overall I counted 30 bites, the worst they have been for months!

With our few remaining days driving down ticking away we spent the Friday driving, managing to do a 10 hour stint to get to Jeffrey's Bay. I always take my hat off to Charles who doesn't complain at all driving for that long, despite the stops and starts for road works, idiot drivers and livestock crossing the road! I have learnt the key thing is to keep him supplied with food at all times and the occasional Monster! After spending the night in a small and inexpensive campsite just outside, we drove in on the Saturday. Jeffrey's Bay was stunning, you think of beach (not UK) and that was it, the layers of blue and the sand white and ever stretching. The countryside around it rolling hills. It was a Saturday so it was packed, but it was so nice to see people having fun, relaxing and enjoying each other's company! It made us feel less like tourists, doing things that everyone else was doing! Before we headed to the beach we did a little bit of shopping at the factory outlet stores.. it was like Bicester Village but more fun, and better shops.. Bilabong, Roxy, Ripcurl etc.. We managed to pick up some clothes at dirt cheap prices, even Charles who finally bought some new Fox tshirts and swimming shorts. After a lunch of sushi with a cheeky glass of wine we hit the beach and letting the food go down we then headed into the sea which was great fun. Everyone jumping over and under the waves, and just cooling down! It was a real contrast to Coffee Bay.

After Jeffrey's Bay we were on the home straight so to speak, a night at a the Garden Route Wilderness National Park which involved some serious hiking up a mountain marked our last run of camping for a while! The next few weeks would involve houses and stealing sofas! Monday we made our way down Rooi Els Road, a road that Charles had spent many days biking along! It was a stunning entrance into Gordon's Bay winding along the coastal route! It was a real blast from the past for Charles who could tell some story about each bend.. they tended to involve crashes or high speeds! Driving into Gordon's Bay we stopped of at the yacht club for some amazing sea food and headed into Somerset West where Charles used to live and his friend Dean still does. Charles couldn't believe how big it had grown and all the new developments and shops that had popped up.. it had been eight years I suppose! We had a great evening with Dean, eating ribs and catching up!

(Wilderness NP)

(views coming into Gordon's  bay(

Tuesday morning we spent some time driving around visiting Charles' old life! I got to see where he grew up - schools, after care, his house and his friends houses. It was something I had been looking forward to seeing, the area was stunning.. what a place to grow up! Gill and Roger had flown into Cape Town that morning so once we had the go ahead we arrived at their rented house half way up the Gordon's Bay mountain. It was the most incredible house, with the most stunning view! The view would had sold it for me.. our bedroom had a full view of the valley which was even more incredible at night! We settled in, and were in the pool with a drink in hand before we knew it! It was great to see them, and great to relax in such beautiful surroundings!

Over the next week or so with Gill and Roger we took it slow, and kept it relaxed. It was great just to catch up and spend time in their company. We hiked up the Helderberg mounting, which again brought back great memories for Charles and a Gill, walked along the beach at Strand, met up with old friends - both Gill's and Charles', ate amazing food, did a little bit of retail therapy, drank a lot of wine, visited a market and generally had a good time! Saturday was spent with some of Charles old friends from school and when he was growing up - it was nice to meet them and hear their old stories! This was all done to the stunning backdrop of the Bay, the sea and the sprawling individualised houses on the mountain! We couldn't have asked for better company or setting!

On Monday it was our trip to Cape Aghulas for our furthest point South of the trip! Whilst we still had a few weeks in South Africa it was effectively the end of long distances and new countries! We set off en-mass, Gill, Roger and ourselves, to meet Mum, Dad, Nev and Jen there also. The drive was stunning, the scenery and the animals - blue cranes and some game animals! We arrived to no wind but a grey sky, parked the car and took a few photos of it.. we were all surprised it had made it, it limped some of the way but it had made it!! We all walked with our picnic and celebratory bottles towards the southern tip, where the Indian Ocean met the Atlantic Ocean. Bottled ready and slight pause whilst Charles removed something out of his pocket.. to my complete surprise he got down on one knee and the rest is history! A real celebration, champagne was popped and our picnic eaten with the family! What a great surprise! The way home was just as beautiful, we stopped off at a harbour to watch the rays under water, and drove the Rooi Els pass again.. the clouds rolling over the mountains. Fish and chips for dinner and some more happy celebrating!

Gill and Roger's last day came around all too quickly, and the one thing we hadn't done was a wine farm visit. Gill used to work at Boshendahl winery so we headed there. It was an old, white building surrounded by green lawns and oak trees. The wine was great, all the company was great and our picnic under the trees idyllic. It was such a great way to end their time here, as we looked forward to seeing them back in the UK.