England - Round The World Tour 2 2003 Day 141

Ferry to Harwich

Thursday 31st July

There’s no doubt about it, coming home from Africa and the Middle East was not easy. The same feelings of disconnect and not belonging anywhere, which I experienced after returning from America, also hit me again this time around. The highs of our amazing experiences in Africa had built up a degree of tension that I had a hard time finding a release for. I desperately wanted to get back on the road again as soon as possible. Logistically speaking, however, this was not realistic. Even though our trip was an unparalleled success, we both needed a break from life on the road and this past five weeks was just what we needed to re-charge our batteries again.

Our original plan was to return to Europe for a break and then set off again sometime in September after the round-the-world air ticket prices dropped with the subsidence of the peak summer travel season. We would be heading off to Indian, China, South East Asia and then onto Australia before reaching the Pacific Islands and the Americas. Between returning from Africa and setting off again to India, we would have quite some time on our hands with little to do fill the void. Visiting family and friends is all well and good but even that gets tedious after a few weeks. What to do with this excess time is something that I have been toying with over the past few weeks. Since it was now summer time in the Northern hemisphere, it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of the favourable climate to explore some parts of Europe that we haven’t yet seen.

A common theme that seems to run through a great many travellers is that they have rarely explored their own country of origin. Whilst regularly darting off to far away and exotic places, people in general tend to be quite unaware of the riches to be found just beyond the boundaries of their own familiar surroundings. With the odd exception of a quite jaunt through the countryside, I have never really explored the British Isles and have never even been to Ireland of Scotland. This would be our next mission.

I stopped writing my daily journal immediately after returning to England. Much has happened in the past five weeks so I will attempt to summarise the main events.

Upon returning to England, we headed straight for Jacqueline’s house, via the customary quick stop-in at Mum & Dad’s house. Mum seems to be doing well with her blood sugar levels now fully under control. It was good to see them both again and it brought a great deal of relief to mother knowing that we were both back safely on the ground. Mum is always very anxious whenever we fly anywhere. She is somewhat set in her ways and often seems to live in another time. We had to hide the fact that we had been to Nairobi, for example, as this would have probably sent her into a panic.

The pandemonium that is my sister Jacqueline’s house was strangely welcoming. The ‘cupboard under the stairs’ that is our bedroom was still there waiting for us and we spent the next few days recuperating from our recent travelling ordeals. Initially, I wanted to spend some time in England doing some contract work so that we wouldn’t have to dive too deeply into our travel funds whilst we were in limbo. Accordingly, I put myself onto the market and hooked a few nice offers but ultimately gave up on the idea after a while. Something that Jacqueline had mentioned in passing piqued my interest. She mentioned the idea of buying a cheap car for the time that we would be in England. With plenty of money still in the bank, we could easily buy a small car and perhaps even sell it again before recommencing our travels. It was at this point that the idea of buying a camper slowly crept into my mind. We were planning on buying a camper in Australia to travel around in with the intention of selling it afterwards. If we would be able to do this in Australia, why not in Europe also?

I started looking into the idea and after a few days, had convinced myself that this is what we were going to do. Having spent enough time in England, Sandy went back to Holland to see her family. I followed a few days later and we set about finding a nice camper van to tour the British Isles with. We ultimately decided on a large, five sleeper. At the ripe old age of twenty-four, there were a few things that needed fixing and improving but the old girl is now finally road worthy and ready to take us to some ‘near’ exotic places.

We are now sitting on the ferry from Hoek van Holland to Harwich. We will make brief stops to visit family and then head down to the Southern coast of England to the Isle of White where Jacqueline is currently on holiday with her two youngest. After spending a few days there, we will go back to Jacqueline’s house as Ree-Ree will be visiting from Australia and I don’t want to miss yet another opportunity to see her. From there, we will venture over to Wales and then onwards to Ireland. Departing Ireland from a different port, we will come back to England and then turn North towards the Lake District and then into Scotland. As is now traditionally the case, these plans are subject to last-minute changes and we still have no clue as to where exactly we will be going. The big advantage of a camper van, of course, is that we won’t have any worries about where to sleep each night. The on-board kitchen also means that we should be able to save money on food by buying at supermarkets and cooking ourselves. Exactly how long we will spend touring around the British Isles still remains to be seen. Let the adventure begin.