The 16th November arrives and we set off late afternoon pulling two small cabin bags (much to the amazement of Charles) on route to Paris. There are two reasons really for travelling light
- the amount of times we have returned from a holiday only to realise that we haven’t worn and didn’t need half the clothes and
- Ann has little confidence in South Africa’s handling of luggage which apparently frequently goes missing!
An hour and a bit later our flight gets us to Paris – on route I comment that it had taken us over six months to travel approximately the same distance by boat!!! A short wait and then we are on the plane taking us to Johannesburg. I have to admit that I am rather nervous about flying and in fact when discussing this previously take little comfort from Nigel when he tries to alleviate my nerves by informing me flying is very safe and the only risky bit is taking off – something to do with pressure on the nose of the plane – only another four take offs….. Suffice to say my nerves are unfounded and we enjoy a trouble free and turbulence free journey.
I would like to say we arrive to glorious sunshine but apart from the sunny smiles from Ann and Peter we find ourselves in a coolish dullish climate but we are not here for the weather are we? Its lovely to see Charles (dad), Jean, Alexander, Kaitlyn and Alex who is on an internship from Bath University. The weather quickly improves and I join Alex a couple of times for his early morning runs before he goes off to work and I to the sun lounger. We have a couple of days before we collect our Hilux 4 x 4 and set off with Dad and Jean for Bakabung Game Lodge in Pilannesberg Game Reserve.
Everything about the lodge is beautiful from its location, to the friendliness of the the staff and the African décor. The bedrooms look out onto the pool and provide a wonderful panoramic view of the game reserve.
After checking in we walk through the veranda to our rooms and are amazed to see an elephant cooling down in a nearby watering hole – a great start. Jean has us all organised and books us onto a bush trip in the afternoon. Our ranger is either lucky or very good as in the three hours we see elephant, rhino, giraffe and a pride of lions enjoying a sushi wildebeest. A cheeky jackal creeps up on them to steal the tail of the deceased animal – think he (or she) may be disappointed with this snack. Click on a picture for slide show:
The Big Five consists of elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino and leopard. We take another drive the following morning and are rewarded by seeing four cheetahs sauntering across the dirt road – apparently there are only five in the reserve so consider ourselves honoured.
On Sunday we move on to Bela Bela where we meet up with Ann, Peter, Alexander, Kaitlyn and Alex and stay in a private game reserve which boasts having the Big Five although we only see zebra, giraffe and a few buck. Non the less we have a lovely couple of days with the family and enjoy a braii or two (bbqs). The house is superb with four double en suite bedrooms and sufficient space at least 12 people and as overseas guests we are given a room with a magnificent view across the reserve. A quirky aspect of the bathrooms is that the showers are outside on the veranda – very refreshing.
Its not long before we are on the move again and fly down to Port Elizabeth to spend some quality time with Siggy and Lionel and catch up with their families, attend their local bowls club for their Christmas dinner, wander around the Christmas fair and take every opportunity to eat and drink.
We pack a lot into a few days and I even manage a few runs including a parkrun where part of route is along the beach – a new experience for me.
Its then on to Cape Town where we collect a lovely Audi A3 automatic which I just love driving and visit my brother Philip and his wife Helen for lunch. We then book into Ziegvliet Winery which has magnificent views of mountains and rows and rows of vines.We are served by a lovely Zimbabwean called Freddie who must be one of the happiest and friendliest waiter we have ever met -he is working to pay for his education and we wish him the best of luck.
It is lovely to relax, swim and sample the local wines – total over-indulgence. Phil and Helen join us the next day for lunch and its great catching up with them. We take a drive out to Elgin and have lunch with Charles niece; Sasha together with Finn and Caris May.
Over the weekend we drive over to Nordhoek and visit Charles brother Ian and his wife Rose. I again join the Capetonians for the Sunday morning parkrun although I do find running in South Africa quite hard which I guess is due to the heat. I am just pleased it was worth bringing my running gear as I have managed to run two or three times each week.
We then moved into Cape Town itself for the last four days of our trip and stayed in the Derwent Boutique Hotel just below Table Mountain. The staff once again could not be more helpful and it was a short walk down to the many restaurants for our evening meals.
We just wished the staff in this restaurants could refrain from describing everything as awesome – coffee is nice or tasty but it is never awesome!!! One of the highlights of our holiday has to be the sunset cruise on The Victoria.
Our trip starts in quite rough waters and I am a little worried I may feel sea sick but once we are away from the port the sails go up and we enjoy a magnificent trip whilst sipping a few glasses of bubbles – the sunset is a wonderful sight and those who know us will not be surprised when we wonder if we should sell Bluegum and learn to sail so we can explore waters afar – we soon come down to earth when reality kicks in but we have put it on our bucket list……We join Philip and Helen once again for our final lunch and then take a drive to a nearby livery to see Sky – She is a beautiful horse who they have adopted following their daughter Josie’s tragic death a year ago.
The three weeks pass so quickly and we return to Narbonne and find Bluegum has been in safe hands and well looked after by our good friends Maggie and Nigel. We managed very well with our two small cabin bags and I don’t think Charles will let me pack big bags again – on reflection I may have made a bit of a mistake…….