The Long Farewell, UK
It will come to those who know me as no surprise, I am always late… and leaving for this trip is no exception.
I was supposed to leave 2 years ago, but following a few set backs and hold ups along the way, the blue Beast is finally on it’s way to Mombasa.
I had high hopes of driving from my home in SW London all the way to Cape Town via Europe and down the dark continent but things don’t always pan out as you hope, so you adapt, change a few plans and carry on.
Here’s how I got to this point…
In January 2011 I decided that this adventure through Africa was definitely something I needed look into. What started as a pinky promise with Von Dog at a drunken hockey function in 2006, grew into a very real possibility when I decided to move to Australia. A few months road tripping from Egypt to South Africa in between leaving London and starting again in Perth, sounded like the perfect gap filler.
I started looking for a buyer for my business. A good friend and fellow hockey player, Sinéad (Huss), had been coaching for me for almost 2 years. She was keen to take on the business with her husband Geoff and we started putting wheels in motion. Excited at the prospect of leaving the business in the hands of my very capable protégée, I found myself a sturdy Land Cruiser in April 2011 and announced that I would be leaving in July or August.
Cue Farewell 1: In April 2011, at our Richmond Hockey Club Annual Awards Dinner, Gemma “Psycho” Anderson, announced that I would be leaving after 10 years with the club, thrust a leaving card in my hand and ushered me onto a chair to make a speech. Not having prepared anything, and fueled with cane, I muttered something about me being a huge part of the club’s life (?!) and that, although difficult, everyone should continue to try to beat my best season goal tally of 26 (which had already beaten many times over since then). Uncharacteristically emotional, Gemma then burst into tears – all very touching… Goodbye Richmond Hockey Club. PS I never had a party…
Sadly, Geoff passed away and so Sinéad moved back to Ireland to be with her family.
I continued to run the business and put the Beast into hibernation at my parents’ place in Bournemouth where it sat for almost a full year. SORN… Sadly On (the) Road (to) Nowhere. But I continued to scheme and plan…
By late 2011, I had resigned myself to the fact that the business might not be sold straight away, and that traveling these Western roads wasn’t the best idea so I had to change the route plans again due to crazy times in the middle East and north Africa… Further planning ensued and I started looking for travel companions again. But hard to find people to commit to coming with, when you yourself don’t even have a set leaving date!
In April 2012 I had another hopeful buyer for the franchise, and as hopeful as it all sounded, this sale also fell through. But in December 2012, I ended up selling the franchise to another fellow hockey player. Bonny had worked for me for a few months and was the ideal person to take on the business. And breathe…
TO DO: finish off the storage section of the Land Cruiser, get the carnet de passage, find insurance, apply for various bits and pieces of official paperwork and visas, pack the rest of my life into my garage for shipping to Aus and DRIVE!
At the end of 2012, through mutual friends and Julian Voelkar, I met Christa and Grant (Blog: The Colonel’s Journal). This wonderfully chilled couple were also in the process of planning an almost carbon copy trip from London down to Cape Town. Perfect timing worked in our favour and we were all ready to leave in April 2013. Traveling with a second vehicle was a god-send, especially as I wasn’t keen on the facing ferry crossings in dodgy port towns alone, as a single white female…
But that would be far too simple and far too straight forward…
Cue Farewell 2: In preparation for my departure with C&G, I got round to seeing good mates, having drinks in the city, visiting friends with kids and set about gathering my finest people in, none other but our watering hole of choice for Winter 2012, The Northcote.
But that would be too straightforward, drama strikes a few days prior to this… it turns out I’m not going anywhere fast…
T minus 2 weeks, my Land Cruiser won’t start – the engine turns but doesn’t catch and actually start up. Cue Hungerford Motors and a tow truck… Verdict: a piece of rubber seal has come loose, fallen in between the timing belt and cog, snapped the timing belt and blown the engine. 4 weeks and 2.7K later, I get the Beast back. Toyota quoted £11k for a new engine so the garage fixed and mended what they could. Luckily they found enough valves to replace the damaged parts – not too many spares kicking about from the 1997 LC models these days.
I wave goodbye to Grant and Christa with heavy heart. I read their blog with envy as they pass the Italy, Greece and Turkey making their way down through Europe. (Check out their nightmare getting from Turkey to Egypt – so glad I didn’t have to do this on my own!)
Too much time had passed to catch up with C&G, and with the seasons changing in Africa, I decided to ship the LC to Kenya instead.
So here I am, the LC has been loaded by Wise Moves and is currently on the high seas. I follow in 4 weeks time and will be reunited in Mombasa in mid July.
What a blady journey, but we’re doing it!
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!!!!!!! So proud of you for overcoming all the challenges and sticking with your dream trip of a lifetime Keeno! You are about to embark on an incredible and exciting adventure and cant wait to read about it all! Safe travels – will miss you terribly in London town xxx
Well it’s been 2 years in the making! I wish you were here with me!! Can’t wait to see you in September Gazellie, don’t get up to too much nonsense without me..!
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what a great trip. i found this website just by chance on fb. and i got stucked on it for quite a while. i’m travelling in asia since decades, but when i’ve seen your trip i think i shouldn’t have missed africa. you did a great trip. and you can be realy proud that you have done this on your own. wow!