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.
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.