Stopover in San Francisco

I had forgotten how grey and miserable the UK can be in November. We returned here on 23rd, after 3 lovely days in Novato, just outside of San Francisco. It’s always good to break the long journey from New Zealand. We are very fortunate to have children living in beautiful locations, Whistler and San Francisco, with whom we can stay en route. San Francisco was chilly at night but beautifully sunny and warm, in the sun, during the day. Warm enough to enjoy a day on a deserted beach beyond Point Reyes, picnicking and playing beach cricket and football. Wet and miserable England was a nasty shock to the system.

Visitor in James’s garden.

Taking a break from beach cricket.
Wild Coyote captured during the walk from car park to beach

Back in the UK.

It seems to be becoming a bit of a routine on our return to the UK. Our first task on the morning after arrival, to take Poki to Gumtree, our local Land Rover specialist. This time to check why she is over fueling and to fit sand tracks and a guard to protect the steering rods.

As always for the first few days our body clocks are up the creek and we can’t sleep. We spend half the night talking then fall asleep at around 6am and sleep til after 10am!

We have not been here in our lodge at this time of the year before. The park is starting to look very pretty with lodge owners decorating their properties and trees with coloured fairy lights. It means we have to look for Christmas gifts before visiting friends and family. Making life even more hectic, but, of course, enjoyable.

Last weekend we went to my niece, Clare’s 40th birthday party. Here we met an interesting couple Lynn and Pat Wilson. Lynn, Pat and I had a lot in common, all having worked in the airline industry. Lynn had worked for a cargo airline “Redcoat”. Redcoat flew between the UK and various West African cities. Redcoat’s employees, with the help of a UK Lottery grant, established a maternity clinic just outside of Banjul, The Gambia. Lynn has written a book about his airline experiences and setting up the clinic, the proceeds from the sale of which go to the clinic. Lynn has given us some useful contacts to visit while we are in The Gambia.

Dennis’s daughter, Sarah has also given us details of good friends of their’s who live in Monrovia, Liberia. Dennis has been in touch with them by email and we hope to visit them too. It is good to have contacts we can meet on our journey.

We also have some good news from Adam. He is going to join us, but is going to catch us up in Morocco. He can’t leave until later than us. We don’t want to postpone any longer. Our travel insurance is only for 6 months, which began when we left New Zealand. We cannot extend it or take out a new policy outside of New Zealand. We have had the option to extend before. Whether it is our advanced years now, who knows? Adam will catch us up in Morocco in early January.

Our plan is to leave on 15th December. This is subject to getting our Carnet de Passage on time. Today I have paid the extortionate sum of £130 for express delivery. Initially I was advised it would take up to 2 weeks, after applying this increased to 4 weeks for standard delivery. We can’t risk waiting for standard delivery.

I also applied for a second passport back in August. In October I received an email saying I did not meet the criteria. Second passports are only granted to people who travel frequently in connection with their job or for study purposes, or for people who cross borders between countries on a daily basis for their work. An appeal was possible, so I appealed. Dennis and Adam have both been granted second passports. I had heard no more so called the Passport Office yesterday. They simply said my appeal was still being considered and I would just have to wait for an answer. Not very helpful.

Once we have our Carnet, we will book a Chanel crossing from our closest port, Newhaven, to Dieppe. We will visit Mike and Wendy in Villers-en-Ouche en route through France. Wendy has advised there is a Christmas market in La Ferte-Frenel, a neighbouring town, while we are there. It will be interesting to visit. Hopefully, we may see more markets in other towns we pass through.

It is too cold to camp in Northern Europe at this time of the year. Plus camp sites are closed. We will look for inexpensive hotels/B & Bs. We had planned to drive slowly through Spain and to visit some of the cities and sights which would be packed with tourists in the summer. The Alhambra in Córdoba, Toledo, Seville, Granada and maybe Madrid too. However, looking at accommodation prices, they have increased tremendously since before Covid, so our trip through Spain maybe faster than planned! We will head for Tarifa, from where will catch a ferry across to Tanger, Morocco and the African continent.

Visits: 76


  1. Hi you two, great to finally catch up with your progress. Thats great news about Adam.
    I wouldnt want to rub it in but the weather here is very nice, warm and sunny.
    I can imagine how the excitment and apprehension is building.
    Have an amazing trip

  2. I’m following the progress with interest.

    It’s best in the current circumstances, to pay extra if it avoids using Royal Mail. I received a letter, posted First Class, yesterday from somewhere about a mile away which had been posted 8 days earlier. We seem to be heading into a Winter of Discontent, perhaps because so many people have forgotten what the last one was like that it’s time to refresh the memories.

  3. Hi John, agreed and have taken that step. Agree also on declining social cohesion, not just in the UK!!

  4. It look’s like you are determined to journey through ‘deepest darkest Africa’ despite my advice. Stubborn old bugger. However, I admire both of sense’s of adventure and am sure you will have a memorable journey. Hope Poki will be fully cured before you head off. Summer here at last and starting to dry off despite the Murray River being in flood to at least February.
    Travel safe you two.

  5. Kelvin is my middle brother, a tutor for Ash & Liz, the youngest. They are the lucky ones..:)

    An exerpt form his latest letter(He lives in Australia with his own Jen)
    I am sure you are all aware of the floods that have been sweeping down through the Murray River catchment, draining 1/7th of Australia, and the impact it is having on many of the communities both beside the Murray, and many other rivers. To think that the rain that is only now beginning to be felt here in South Australia, fell in some areas over a month ago, is quite mind boggling. Well to this little mind at least. They started building a levee bank down the middle of the main street in Mannum today, great for the businesses on the town side of the street, but not so for the river side. I believe there are going to be 4000 odd buildings impacted before the floods subside in late Feb or early March. That’s if it doesn’t rain again before then! 

    Down here in Goolwa, we don’t expect to be impacted apart from a fairly rapid current, where there is usually an imperceptible one. Most, if not all of the 5 Barrage gates are now open. There are 593 gates across the 5 barrages, 7.6klm long and if the high tide is not holding the water back, there is a 4 to 5 knot current running past the wharf. So while the river is up in double figures up river, the length of the river spilling into the Coorong stops any such rises here. 

  6. Elizabeth Olson

    Hi Dennis and Jen.. Am looking on with great trepidation to your journeys as this scaredy cat sister will remain in the relative safety of NZ..! 🙂 I am however deeply envious of the journeying that you two do but do not have your courage, plus I have a wonderful husband who loves his work so much no holidaying goes on in this household… maybe one day we might organize things enough to go visit Kelvin and his Jen in Adelaide.. Take care and enjoy..xx

  7. Hi Lizzy & Ash,

    Someone has to remain in NZ to keep funding my pension…:)

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