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Out of Africa - Part one
Either through meticulous planning or sheer luck we have managed to get two full days in South Africa on the day of arrival and departure. Our flight is at 10.40 from the relatively quiet Cape Town Airport which will give us time to explore the Pringle Bay area.
As I awoke from my brief slumbers the mist and low cloud was still covering the mountain and cliff tops after last nights rain but the promise of brighter weather was always just around the corner. The question was would it brighten up in time to give us a last good day? Maureen and I walked Toffee round the diverse mix of eclectic houses that make up Pringle Bay and after a late breakfast she dropped Colin and me off in the fynbos scrub covered Kogelberg Nature Reserve. With over 1650 different species of plants I don’t even think Colin’s Recorder book would have enough pages but he tried his best to get as many of them as possible on his well filled camera card. The reserve is the start of the amazing Hottentots Holland Mountains which extend up to the winelands at Stellenbosch and looking at them from below it looks like a magnificent ridge walk but on closer inspection the vegetation is not exactly conducive to walking without a path - unless you have a masochistic desire to get covered in cuts and scratches. The path leads through the reserve and is a haven for insects, birds and animals ranging from the smallest ant right up to the leopard. We enjoyed a great walk over the top of the pass and down through the Harold Potter Botanical Gardens where the sun came out and the world was once again transformed with that constant infatuation of mine – The Light.
Our first day in South Africa had ended with a Brie and it was quite appropriate that once again we would celebrate our departure with this most traditional way of enjoying the sunshine and the easy going nature of life in this wonderful country. Roasted Vegetables, Kudo Sausages, Ribs, Fillet Steak, Cold Beer and a magnificent run along to the airport as the sun set on Cape Point and Table Mountain.
Flying at night with no great time difference - and therefore no jet lag - is the ideal prescription for feeling relatively OK in the morning and as we approached London we looked down on a snowy scene. We were back in the northern hemisphere and Christmas was almost upon us. As we disembarked and the sun shone out of a cloudless sky we had almost turned full circle. There was a 30c swing in the temperature, it was winter and approaching the shortest day, there were people rushing here, there and everywhere in pursuit of new destinations, going on holiday or going home to spend time with family and friends and here we were two lost souls wandering aimlessly amongst the crowds, no hurry to return to the day to day existence that we had carved out for ourselves. But if it had not been for our loved ones we would not be here, supporting us, giving us the time and space to plan the trip to leave at such a busy time of the year and return with so much to do. And so we would return and look forward to catching up with all the news, to show people the pictures, the video and share with them the many stories and memories. OK it was clearly a long way from the barren and hot landscape of Lesotho or the Kruger Park but life evolves and has a dynamic process that keeps us all going along the great treadmill of life. Sometimes you have to jump off, explore the branch network, discover more and dream as you get back on again that there will be more opportunities...
I could not have had a better end to any holiday and writing this in the airport in London as I await a plane back to Liz and the family back in Scotland I know I will return many times to this corner of Africa, not to only see the other members of my family but the wider African family. Once again after my third visit to South Africa and having my appetite whetted for more I will return to uncover more of the delights, the scenery, the people, the cultures and the overall changing diversity of the place they describe as ‘The World in One Country’
So I still have a reluctance to reflect but know that memories will keep flooding back and I will never forget the time I have spent here...
I will post a slide show of the best images on my web site under the heading South Africa Safari 2009 in the next few days and maybe come back and reflect once I have put the Christmas Tree up, bought Liz's Christmas gift, iced the cake, sung the carols, swept the drive of snow, washed all my holiday clothes, eaten the turkey and recovered from the festivities but in the quieter moments I will never forget the clouds clearing on the Drakensburg to reveal awe inspiring mountains and crags, the lightning in Lesotho, the soundscapes in the Kruger, the Dung Beetles rolling the dung, stargazing over the Indian Ocean, the camp fire at Mkhuze, the baboon fight and the sound echoing round the mountains, sighting hundreds of animals and birds and actually identifying some of them eventually, the diversity of the scenery, the cultural differences of the people, the friendly faces, the townships and the washing lines, the visit to the Zulu Homestead and Colin sipping the beer and me mucking up the handshakes, the Golden Gate rock- forms, the vastness of the Karoo, running along the sea front at Cape Town, in De Hoop, the picnic lunches and the camp fire suppers, the laughs, the birthday celebrations, Miss Piggy, Kermit and the Hippo, Ricus's photogenic qualities, Bush Baby inc, the Lizard Eating Spider, the Puff Adder, Patrick, The Lion House, Pancakes in Clarins and lunch treats, Soap Star Dylan, Maureen, Janette and Jim and of course, the team - Leon, Ricus, Alison, Nicole, Maria and Eva. I could go on and on and everyone on the trip will have their own special memories.
Special mention must go to Colin. After years of dreaming about Africa would he enjoy it? I don't think we should lose any sleep worrying about that one.
A great friend and companion, who was always there on one or more occasions to make sure I had my wallet, passport and in the Addo Elephant Park, my beloved camera bag and its contents. You know by the end of it he even began to be sympathetic towards me by pretending to forget stuff. Maybe two days too long spent with Maureen and me or the realisation that the good times were about to end...
I'll get some more pictures uploaded once I have finished my chores!
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