Monday, 17th June. Back in Blighty (U.K.), preparing Poki for shipment to Colombia

We’ve been back at our lodge in Wineham for almost 3 weeks now. Flaming June it isn’t. In fact some summer days here have been colder than back in Rotorua’s winter. On two occasions we have even put the central heating on. 

We seem to have a plague of hornets. I think they are called European hornets. So far, we have eliminated four in the house. I do not remember having so many, if any, hornets in the U.K. A result of the climate warming, I presume.

We have been very social, as well as busy with preparations getting Poki ready for our South American journey. 

As well as catching up with my sisters, Caroline and Bridget and my son, Tim, daughter in law, Kate and grandsons, Louis and Dan, we have been visiting friends. Last week we ventured, by train, up to London to meet some old airline colleagues of mine, Audrey, Esther and Pam. We took the opportunity to also go to Stanfords map shop to get some more South American maps.

Stanfords is located in Covent Garden. Usually I would travel around London using the  underground. However, on this occasion we had plenty of time and decided to go by bus. It was quite an adventure. I have lived in London and worked there for more than 30 years, but it was a completely new experience.

So much has changed and I felt like a tourist. It is the most amazingly vibrant city. Heaving with people, many of whom are visitors. Buildings have had face lifts, or have been rebuilt, the famous red double decker buses are a completely different shape. Roads have been pedestrianised or rerouted.

Our bus journey took us past Westminster Cathedral and Abbey, around Parliament Square with Big Ben dominating the scene. Up Whitehall, past Downing Street and into Trafalgar Square with Nelson majestically atop his column. We alighted in the Strand and wandered through Covent Garden, stopping to listen to street entertainers. 

After purchasing our maps, we needed a coffee break and were well entertained, while we rested, by a lady opera singer. Then another bus tour via Piccadilly, Knightsbridge and Kensington to our lunch venue at the Thames side pub, the Blue Anchor, in Hammersmith.

We have also caught up with friends Alex and Pam at a country pub, the Harrow Inn in Warlingham. Alex proved an excellent source of information during our visit to Cape Town and surrounds.

Today, the weather has warmed up and it’s been sunny and pleasant. We took a local bus in to our nearest city, Brighton. I wanted to get a new phone and to visit Trailfinders Travel agency to discover whether they could offer us a good air fare to Colombia.

Like London, Brighton is a cosmopolitan hotch potch. People of every nationality, age, size and dress. A sunny day in the UK always brings out shorts, with very white legs, bikini tops and the most unimaginable fashions. We bought some crepes and sat and ate them in the sun, people watching. Absolutely fascinating.

Poki has been to the garage for some minor attention. We thought all was well until testing the electronics. The internal lights, fan etc started, but soon stopped. Dennis checked the battery. This was fine. Could it be the Redarc system which controls the battery? This worked perfectly all through Africa. Could it be the wiring? It was a very wet winter here and we have discovered Poki has some minor leaks around the roof vents. Damage from overturning her in South Africa, no doubt. Could water have got into the wiring?

Back to Gumtree, the garage which had installed the Redarc system. At first they thought it was a wiring issue. Subsequently it proved to be the Redarc system which has failed. Neither the UK Redarc agents nor the Australian manufacturers are interested in discussing the matter. Now we have a bit of a panic. There’s always a panic you will say! We have to purchase and get a new system installed quickly, it wont be Redarc.

Poki is booked to Cartagena on a sailing on 2nd July. We have to take her to Felixstowe to the warehouse for loading by 27th June, though. She is due to arrive in Cartagena on 28th July. Our plan is to fly to Bogotá on about 24th July, spend a few days there and then fly to Cartagena. We have decided not to make our flight reservations until Poki is loaded in the container and we are sure she will be shipped on 2nd July. As we have discovered shipping is not always a precise science. Things have not improved with delays caused by the low water levels in the Panama Canal and problems with the Houthis attacking ships off the coast of Yemen. 

We will do another update soon, when we have more news to impart re Poki and our travel plans.

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