Life since my last post on the Cederberg more than a month ago has been, (how shall I put it?), hectic with intermittent category 5 hurricanes of frenzy and madness. Most of that has to do with the subdivision of our property and its associated traumas and crises, in the middle of which we had booked to spend two weeks with family and friends in London, Gloucestershire and North Devon.
November in England! Cold, wet and miserable England: just when summer was coming to Cape Town, just when I was finalising the endless hurdles an ever-ingenious City Council could devise, just when the faulty water meter installed by the selfsame Council was cutting off the water supply to the unfortunate tenants in our cottage, just when…
Well we did get on the plane, shattered and exhausted, and shoehorned ourselves into the infinitesimal spaces allocated by Virgin Atlantic to cheapskate travellers like Sheila and me (may Richard Branson be forever tormented by starving fleas from all the camels in the Middle East) – only to be told, after an hours delay on the runway, that the water delivery system of the plane had irretrievably failed and that we should keep bowel movements to a minimum, putting it as delicately as possible.
Well it got much better from there on. The absence of tap water was more bearable than we had feared, our friends in London picked us up at Heathrow and coddled us with TLC, the weather was setting November records for warmth and general user-friendliness – and we just loved the UK. There was tons to do and see and we were free of the oppressive South African politics. The couple of days in Northwood passed in a flash before we boarded the Underground en route to our next destination in Gloucestershire.
The trip was not easy carrying our luggage on the Underground to Paddington Station, the departure point for Stroud where we would be picked up. But once again the Brits came up trumps, spontaneously assisting us with the luggage up stairs and helping us find the right platform etc.
Our friend’s home in Gloucestershire was a revelation. Once again we were treated with endless kindness and hospitality. And once again we marvelled at the beauty of this green and pleasant land, so lovingly tended by the citizenry and celebrated by its poets.
Finally we departed for North Devon where we spent a full week with our family and our 4 grandchildren on a farm where they could ride horses and bounce endlessly on the trampoline. The North Devon countryside and coastline was a source of infinite variety and often dramatic beauty.
All good things (and bad) must end. The benign weather couldn’t hold forever and our last couple of days were rainy but our memories of this visit are replete with friendship, fellowship and unexpected beauty. Eventually we returned home to find it intact and welcoming.
The photos shown in this post were taken using the camera provided by our friends in Gloucestershire and Firebird is “borrowed” from his own collection. The pictures shown here and in the gallery, top right column, do not really do justice to the lovely views and remarkable light of the English countryside. Our experiences and memories are more than adequate compensation for the rigours of departure and travel.
(Right click on images to open higher resolution version in separate tab.)