Laaste Woorde / Last words

We have landed.

We have landed.

M: Meer as ‘n jaar terug het ek en Willie my skoonma by die lughawe gaan aflaai. Daar sien ons toe ‘n jongerige paartjie met twee groot backpacks op hul rûe. Hulle het verward rondgekyk, iets gesoek, gekry en toe vinnig in ‘n ander rigting gestap. Ons kyk toe vir mekaar en sê: dis ons oor ses maande!
So nou het ons trip teen ‘n wilde spoed verbygevlieg, en Saterdag oggend het ons veilig geland by ORTIA. Dit was heerlik om my skoonouers en vriende op die lughawe te sien, met ‘n klompie ballonne wat oor ons gegooi is! Toe ons in die kar klim, was daar so baie ballonne, ons kons skaars sit! En by ons huis NOG ballonne! Dit was wonderlik 🙂
Nou is dit amper ‘n week later, ek is by die werk en dinge val gougou terug na normaal toe. Van die snaakse gewoondraak goedjies in die eerste paar dae:

  • Die aand sit ons en ons honde om ‘n lekker vuurtjie, en ek vra ouder gewoonte vir Willie hoeveel die hout gekos het, sodat ek dit op ons uitgawes-spreadsheet kan bywerk.
  • Die aand soek ek die tandepasta, soos elke ander aand, en besef dit is in sy plekkie by die wasbak.

Daar is so baie om voor dankbaar te wees:

  • Ons het nooit enige ernstige siektes, voetskimmel, diarree, griep opgedoen nie. Willie het wel ‘n dag of wat in die bed gebly met ‘n “maag” maar dit was ‘n ou kleintjie.
  • Ons het mooi onder ons begroting ingekom (net net!)
  • Niks is ooit van ons gesteel nie, alles wat verlore is, is ons eie skuld.
  • Geen haar op ons kop is skade aangedoen nie.

Dankie vir almal wat vir ons gebid het, ons is definitief op ‘n spesiale manier bewaar. Ek weet ek het ‘n paar keer gekla oor hoe vreeslik warm ek kry, dis asof daar orals waar ons gaan, een of ander hittegolf die plek tref, want selfs die inwoners dink dis te warm. Ek is seker daarvan die Here het ons veilig bewaar en dopgehou met ‘n vergrootglas, en oral waar daardie vergrootglas geskyn het, het die son se strale wild gebrand.
Dankie vir almal wat ons blog gevolg het, al die kommentare en emails het ons op die pad gehou en bemoedig tydens die swaarder tye. Dit was heerlik om alles te deel, en ek glo ons het ook ‘n paar mense inspireer om groot te droom. Droom groot, die beloning is dalk ‘n onvergeetlike 182 reis om die aardbol!

W: So our journey has come to an end and all that is left is to say: Thank You. Every step of the way has been blessed and we will treasure it for the length of our days to come. Thank you to everyone who supported and encouraged us along the way. Thank you for your messages; thank you for following our journey online; thank you for looking after our dearest dogs back home and thank you Marthé, for sharing and making this the most memorable, once in a lifetime experience, I could have hoped for.
We’d like to think that apart from the beautiful places we’ve seen and the exciting activities we’ve tackled, that we have also learnt a few things along the way. Probably the most important of these lessons have been to live one day at a time and to cherish every moment one is given on this majestic planet.
It is good to be home and we look forward to exploring what the next chapter in our life journey will reveal.

Hallo!  We are back!  So good to see you all!

Hallo! We are back! So good to see you all!

koffie

We had a cup of coffee on the airport. Thanks family and friends!

Colourful balloons were just EVERYWHERE we went!  These are not great for animals with sharp teeth...

Colourful balloons were just EVERYWHERE we went! These are not great for animals with sharp teeth…

Ons heerlike vuurtjie op aand

This is our wonderful fire on our first evening back home.

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26 Julie – 2 Aug: Dwarsdeur 360 grade

M: As ek ons reis om die wêreld met ‘n lang uitgerekte maaltyd sou vergelyk, is Europa definitief die poeding en België die kersie, met ‘n stingeltjie, heel bo op. Vanaf Parys het ons die pad gevat Ghent toe. Daar aangekom besef ons dit is tyd vir die jaarlikse “Ghente Feesten”, klink my dis een van die grootste musiekfeeste in Europa, en word vergelyk met die meer bekende Oktoberfest van Duitsland. Ons besef toe dat ons ‘n effense minslaap-risiko neem deur ons tentjie op te slaan langs die oop-area feesveld in die kampeerterrein, maar was nie lus om verder te soek nie. Dit was nogals reënerig in Ghent en ek dink dit het die kampeerders se volumes mooi in toom gehou. Die fees self was heerlik, om elke hoek en draai is ‘n verhoog met kunstenaars op, jy loop rond en besluit vir wie jy wil luister. Natuurlik het ons vasgehaak by ‘n Belgiese rooikop met ‘n Adéle-stem ( Willie se gunsteling “Suid Afrikaanse” sangeres). Daar sit ons toe in die reën op ‘n trap, eet heerlike “frietes” en luister na die allermooiste musiek.

Ghent se musiekfees was 'n lekker affêre.  België is wyd bekend vir sy lekker frietes/french fries/tjips en ons was inderdaad baie beïndruk.

Ghent se musiekfees was ‘n lekker affêre. België is wyd bekend vir sy lekker frietes/french fries/tjips en ons was inderdaad baie beïndruk.


Ai maar nou toer ons lekker!

Ai maar nou toer ons lekker!


Vanaf Ghent gaan ons na Brugge, ‘n fraai kanaal dorpie met pragtige straatjies. Die reën het egter sedert ons Ghent-tydjie onophoudelik geval, en ons klein tentjie is nie ideaal vir kosmaak in die reën nie. Angesien ons weens goedkoop verblyf mooi onder skedule is met ons begroting, besluit ons toe om Brugge “ordentlik” te doen, en bly in ‘n hotel. Ons tent is egter steeds sopnat (in die reën afgeslaan die oggend) so ons slaan sommer die tent in die hotelkamer op om droog te word. Die aand gaan eet ons die allerwonderlikste kaas fondue, bedien deur Siegrid, die beste kelnerin ooit. Sy is ‘n Belg, en kon ons Afrikaans baie goed verstaan, en wou heelaand met ons praat en woorde uitruil. Sy het ons verbaas met ‘n mooi reënwoord: hemelwater. Wel, toe ons laat die aand terug hotel toe loop, stroom die hemelwater op ons neer. Die hotel se voorportaal dien ook as ‘n restaurant, en toe ons papsoppersnat ons skoene in die voorportaal uittrek om nie die hele mat nat te trap nie, kry ons ‘n hele paar skewe kyke van die deftige hotelbewoners. Terug in ons kamer wag nog ‘n verrassing: ons het die kamervenster oopgelos en ons tent wat vroeër die oggend sopnat was, is nou weer sopnat!
Brugge het 'n baie spesiale bekoring vir ons.

Brugge het ‘n baie spesiale bekoring vir ons.


Die kanale van Brugge...

Die kanale van Brugge…


Brugge het baie betoweringe, en ons het hier rêrig besonder lekker geëet. Die pot mossels kry ‘n goedkeurende knik, en dan kan ek nie ophou praat oor die wafels nie. Ek is nie ‘n wafelkenner nie en eet dit nie gereeld nie, maar die reuk van die Belgiese chocolatesous het my neus gelei en ek moes dit proe. Hierdie wafel was onbeskryflik lekker. Die deeg, die sous, die reuk… Dan is daar natuurlik ook om elke hoek en draai ‘n Chocolaterie, waar hordes pragtige sjokoladetjies jou uitlok om almal te proe en dan te koop. Dit werk.
Mossels, wafels en chocolates. My mond water...

Mossels, wafels en chocolates. My mond water…


Hierdie kaasfondue was 'n ware wenner.  Ons gaan hom definitief tuis probeer!

Hierdie kaasfondue was ‘n ware wenner. Ons gaan hom definitief tuis probeer!


Goed. Na die poeding is daar mos soms nog ‘n sweetie vir die pad huis toe, so toe ons klaar gesmul het aan België, vat ons ‘n ferry oor die waters terug na die “White cliffs of Dover” vir ‘n laaste draai in Engeland. Die koningin se eiland het nie vreeslik baie wonders van die wêreld nie, maar hulle bemarking is wraggies goed. Wie het nog nooit van Stonehenge gehoor nie?! Ons vat die pad na hierdie misterieuse area met groot klippe al in die rondte. Willie het hardop gewonder of hulle die stene ingestel het volgens die seisoene… Dit is oulik, maar toe ons op die brosjure lees “…and explore the prehistoric site around the ruins” en ons kyk rond en sien net skape en groen weivelde, kyk ek en Willie net vir mekaar en glimlag misterieus.
Op die ferry terug na Engeland sien ons die pragtige "White cliffs of Dover"

Op die ferry terug na Engeland sien ons die pragtige “White cliffs of Dover”

Ons glimlag misterieus vir mekaar.

Ons glimlag misterieus vir mekaar.

Hoe langer na Stonehenge staar, hoe meer sien jy raak.

Hoe langer na Stonehenge staar, hoe meer sien jy raak.

Na Stonehenge vat ons die pad vir oulaas terug na lekker London. Hier wys Leslie vir ons die meer gritty dele van die stad, en die aand eet ons in Brixton. Alhoewel die sirenes lekker wild loei in hierdie area, is dit gelukkig nie heeltemal Brixton Moord en Roof soos ons hom ken nie, maar steeds interessant en ‘n heerlike aand met Pimms en Thai kos. Laaste op ons agenda is High Tea in London. Dit is omtrent ‘n ervaring met tee ontwerp deur ‘n tee sommelier, en koekies wat amper te mooi is om te eet. Moenie vergeet van die “scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream” nie!

Hmmmmmm...

Hmmmmmm…


Nou is ons reg vir die pad terug. Saterdagoggend om 09:15 eindig ons reis om die wêreld, soos hy begin het, op Johannesburg lughawe, en ons sien sien uit daarna om ons familie en vriende en moontlik selfs ‘n paar ballonne daar te sien!

16-25 July: The land of cheese, wine and so much more

W: Our visit to France has truly been an awesome experience. The landscapes were amazing, the history was rich and interesting and the landmarks were exceptional. This alone would however not have made it the memorable experince which it was, were it not for the French people. It has probably been recorded more than once that France would be the best place on earth, were it not for the French but I beg to differ and would rather say: France is the best place on earth because of the French who live there. I cannot really put my finger on why I say so but it has something to do with their manner and their attitude. They do things slightly different, yet very refreshing. This doesn’t only apply to the people, but also to other creatures such as doves and snails. The French doves have a very distinct sound compared to South African doves. South African doves call out with a type of “Coor Coor Dook” sound where as the French doves will throw in an extra 2 coors at the end whilst also rather moving the exclamation from the first to the last sound. With regards to the snails I will only say that even if you are not taking a stroll through the vegetable garden, chances are good that you will encounter some of these slimy creatures. I think they were after my salad and wandered onto my plate one evening – they even went to the trouble of camouflaging themselves to make it difficult for me to recognise them, but I was wide awake and moved them aside.

One of the first highlights of our trip was our visit to the Guédelon castle. The castle is currently being built using techniques and tools from the middle ages with modern age safety measures. The project serves as a major tourist attraction and provides a deeper understanding of what it was like to live during the middle ages. Approximately 35 permanent staff work full-time on the project with seasonal volunteers assisting where they can. All the building materials and building tools required for the project are produced and maintained on-site. Marthé last visited this project approximately two years ago with her Mother and was remarkable how much progress they had made in such a short time.

Guédelon Castle should be completed in about 10 years time, the project started in 1998.  Heavy rocks are quarried on site, carried by horses able to parallel park by voice commands, and hoisted up by a big "rat runner".  Yes, there is someone inside the cage!

Guédelon Castle should be completed in about 10 years time, the project started in 1998. Heavy rocks are quarried on site, carried by horses able to parallel park by voice commands, and hoisted up by a big “rat runner”. Yes, there is someone inside the cage!

Another one of Marthé’s favourites from her previous visit was a little town called Vezeley. The town is situated on a hill top and is home to an exceptional artist who’s paintings depict scenes from dream worlds and imagination.

Camping in France was a very pleasant experience.  Here Marthé prepares breakfast.

Camping in France was a very pleasant experience. Here Marthé prepares breakfast.

The Loire valley is situated in the heart of France and here we visited some of the most notable Chateaux which date back to the early middle ages. Not only was the architecture of these buildings from a different world but the gardens in itself, were pieces of art containing mazes, patterns and the most beautiful colours one can imagine.

Château de Chenonceau is a fairytale-pretty Chateau with a unlovely history of the King's mistresses and wifes who lived here at various periods.

Château de Chenonceau is a fairytale-pretty Chateau with a unlovely history of the King’s mistresses and wifes who lived here at various periods.

 

Maintenace of the Château includes flower decorations from the garden.  The Black Rooms's history is very sad: the king of the time was assassinated and his widow mourned his death by painting her room black, while she chose to wear only white.

Maintenace of the Château includes flower decorations from the garden. The Black Rooms’s history is very sad: the king of the time was assasinated and his widow mourned his death by painting her room black, while she chose to wear only white.

 

The gardens of Villandry are spectacular.  In front in the "Love Gardens" and the vegetable gardens in the back.  This should serve as inspiration for Josia, our gardener!

The gardens of Villandry are spectacular. In front in the “Love Gardens” and the vegetable gardens in the back. This should serve as inspiration for Josia, our gardener!

The Normandy coast in the North of France and more specifically the D-Day beaches which date back to the second World War warranted a stop and turned out to be an unexpected highlight of our trip. Most interesting was our visit to the Arromanches museum where we learnt that one of the key achievements of the Allied forces, that resulted in the victory over the Germans was designing, building and then transporting port infrastructure from the UK across the English channel before constructing it near Arrovanches in record time and hence gaining a foothold in mainland Europe. A very emotional stopover was the US cemetery situated at Ohama beach where 25,000 US soldiers died in the cause to stop Hitler’s forces.

Remains of the instant-harbour made almost 70 years ago.  Monuments of the war are to be seen all over the Normandy coast.

Remains of the instant-harbour made almost 70 years ago. Monuments of the war are to be seen all over the Normandy coast.

 

Thousands of white crosses planted next to the sea is a real sal experience.

Thousands of white crosses planted next to the sea is a real sal experience.

The road next took us to the second most visited landmark in France after the Eiffel tower. The Abbey at Mont St Michel dates back hundreds of years and even made it through unscathed during the Hundred years war against Great Brittain, the French revolution and World War 2. Today it is only a museum but even with hundreds of feet passing through it every day it still provides a quiet and reflective location familiar to the monks of the earlier days.

Mont st Michel is situated as if rising from the sea.  We visited the abbey on top of this small island.

Mont st Michel is situated as if rising from the sea. We visited the abbey on top of this small island.

 

Quiet and solitude in Mont st Michel.

Quiet and solitude in Mont st Michel.

From here we aimed for Paris with a planned stop-over in Le Mans which hosts the annual 24hour motorsport challenge over a circuit length of more than 13kilometres per lap. This annual race is truly a global event and is exceeded only, in terms of the number of television viewers, by events such as the Olympic Games and the Soccer World Cups which are staged every 4 years. It was amazing to learn how much motor sports have progressed in a relatively short period of time.

Last stop in France was to be in Paris where JB was kind enough to host us and show us the ropes as we visited the renowned landmarks of the city surrounding the Seine river. It was summer time in Paris and the atmosphere was exhilarating. Street Cafés were packed all day long and tourists were running around like headless chickens to experience as much of the romantic settings around the city as possible. Apart from our visits to the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomph, Mont Marte, Notre Dame and the Louvre museum which were all highlights in their own rights, our final night in Paris requires special mention. We met up with JB for a picnic by the Seine and it quickly became quite obvious that this was a favourite French past time activity. All around us were groups of people watching the sun set over the cathedral of Notre Dame whilst enjoying good food and good company. In stead of taking the metro back home, we decided to go for a walk and we passed the temporary beaches next to the Seine which are only constructed for 1 month during summer. People were lying on the sand till the early hours of the morning whilst other were challenging each other to a few rounds of Boulle.

We love Paris!  The Eiffel is as always spectacular.

We love Paris! The Eiffel is as always spectacular.

 

Fun in Paris! At the Louvre.

Fun in Paris! At the Louvre.

 

The Louvre's secrets are extremely valuable.  To see the Mona Lisa, you need a really long neck or a lot of persistence!

The Louvre’s secrets are extremely valuable. To see the Mona Lisa, you need a really long neck or a lot of persistance!

 

We love Paris! At the Notre Dame.

We love Paris! At the Notre Dame.

 

Picnic have not been this good in long time, thanks to good cheese, wine and company.

Picnic have not been this good in long time, thanks to good cheese, wine and company.

 

Sand along the Seine was a fun highlight!

Sand along the Seine was a fun highlight!

 

Fun in Paris!

Fun in Paris!

All and all, France fully lived up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful and charismatic countries in the world. From here we are popping into Belgium for a couple of days before we say our final goodbyes to France from Dunkirk where we plan to board a ferry back to the United Kingdom before returning home to South Africa.

8-15 Julie: Die reis oortref soms die bestemming

M: Ons Europese reis begin toe ons by Amsterdam uit die ferry uit ry. Aangesien ons nou met ‘n Engelse kar in Europa ry, sit ons met die volgende dillemma: ons ry aan die verkeerde kant van die pad wat die regterkant is, en ons stuurwiel sit aan die regterkant wat die verkeerde kant is. Gelukkig pas ons gou aan!
As ek dink aan ons reise deur Europa, sal ek seker altyd terugdink aan Gary, ons Garmin GPS, wat ons vermaak met sy snaakse roetes en interessante opmerkings. Ons beweeg nou teen ‘n veel rustiger tempo as voorheen, en stel Gary op om ons op die korter eerder as die vinniger roete te begelei. Gary se kortpad metode beteken dat hy ons deur al die dorpies neem, eerder as op die veel vinniger snelweë wat om die dorpies gaan. Ons roetine is as volg: slaap tot die son ons uit die tent uit bak, maak n koffietjie en eet iets vir ontbyt, dan vat ons die lang krullerige pad wat Gary vir ons voorstel.
Ons maak ‘n draai by Zaanseschans vir die tipiese plesiere van Nederland: bekyk windmeule, pas mooi geverfde klompe aan, en proe omtrent 20 tipes kase met vrolike rooi skille. Dan ry ons oor die Afsluijtdyk, dis omtrent soos ‘n 35km pad deur die see wat die Waddesee skei van die Ijselmeer. Ons eerste aand se verblyf in Nederland is op ‘n koeiplaas (dankie Gary). Ons moes by die huis klop vir ontvangs, en daar was ‘n lang nota op die deur, iets in die lyn van die vrou wat onlangs n baba gehad het, so dis bietjie moeilik om vir ons die kampterrein te wys, maar sy kan vinnig n prentjie teken, en sy mag dalk lank vat om by die deur uit te kom. Natuurlik ook n prentjie van die baba. Dis ‘n lekker rustige kampterrein, en die koeie is baie mooi stil in die nag. Op ons roete tussen die dorpies deur moet ons natuurlik orals koes vir fietsryers, almal met klokkies en mandjies.

Die meule van Zaanse Schans maak al vir jare lank verf, meel, gondboontjie botter en enigiets wat gemaal kan word.

Die meule van Zaanse Schans maak al vir jare lank verf, meel, gondboontjie botter en enigiets wat gemaal kan word.


Skoene, kase, windmeule en grotte is deel van Nederland se bekoring.

Skoene, kase, windmeule en grotte is deel van Nederland se bekoring.


Hy is amper te groot vir sy skoene :)

Hy is amper te groot vir sy skoene 🙂


De Afsluitdijk is een belangrijke waterkering en verkeersweg in Nederland. De 32 kilometer lange waterkering sluit het IJsselmeer af van de Waddenzee. Hieraan ontleent de dijk zijn naam.

De Afsluitdijk is een belangrijke waterkering en verkeersweg in Nederland. De 32 kilometer lange waterkering sluit het IJsselmeer af van de Waddenzee. Hieraan ontleent de dijk zijn naam.


Ons tentjie met 'n paar koeie doer agter wat die groen gras geniet.

Ons tentjie met ‘n paar koeie doer agter wat die groen gras geniet.


Ons besoek ook die grotte van Maasdricht. Hierdie is eintlik tonnels in die sagte sandsteenberge, gegrawe deur die afgelope paar eeue. Dis natuurlik ook gebruik as wegkruipplek tydens oorloë.
Beligting in die grotte word verskaf deur drie lanterns, gedra deur gewillige ligdraers.  Willie se lig sit nie onder 'n emmer nie!

Beligting in die grotte word verskaf deur drie lanterns, gedra deur gewillige ligdraers. Willie se lig sit nie onder ‘n emmer nie!


Volgende op ons pad is om te kyk hoe lyk Duitsland. Willie se vriendin, Sarie, bly naby Heidelberg. Dis op ons roete, so ons gaan maak ‘n draai. Op pad soontoe ry ons op die hoofweg, en beland onverwags op Duitsland se befaamde Autobahn. Dis nogals eintlik skrikwekkend as jy teen 130km/h in die middelbaan ry en ‘n swart BMW jaaaaaag by jou verby! Iets wat my wel opgeval het beide hier en in die UK, is hoe wetsgehoorsaam die bestuurders is. Op ‘n stadium in die UK (keep left pass right) was ek die enigste kar in die middelbaan. ‘n Kar kom doer van agter in die linkerkant, en sirkel regs om my, en terug in sy linkerbaan. Van toe af het ek maar hulle goeie voorbeeld gevolg…
Dit was heerlik om vir Sarie te sien, en sy vat ons na Heidelberg vir ‘n besoek aan die ou kasteel. Die aand kuier ons sommer net lekker in haar huis. Dankie Sarie en Diemel!
Hierna vertrek ons verder suid na die Swartwoud in Duitsland. Dis ‘n pragtige bosryke area met klein fraai dorpies en pragtige huisies. Ons doen ‘n rustige stappie deur die woude, terwyl die voëls sing. Gelukkig het ons nie soos Hansie en Grietjie hier verdwaal nie. Dis ook hier waar die Swartwoudkoek (sjokolade roomkoek met bessies) sy oorsprong gevind het. Ons is egter nie die roomkoek tipe nie en verkies duitse appelkoek. Triberg in die Swartwoud is die huis van die koekoek klok, en ons sien duisende van hulle, sommige so groot soos huise, met klomp bewegende figuurtjies as die klok slaan.
Willie geniet die fraai huisies wat Schiltach se strate versier.

Willie geniet die fraai huisies wat Schiltach se strate versier.


Aandete by Schiltach, een van die Schwarzwald (Swartwoud) se juwele.

Aandete by Schiltach, een van die Schwarzwald (Swartwoud) se juwele.


Ek moes €1 in 'n masjien gooi, toe begin hierdie klok se bokkies dans, die mannetjie kap hout, die mense dans en maak musiek, en natuurlik het 'n koekoek by die boonste venstertjie kom uitloer :)

Ek moes €1 in ‘n masjien gooi, toe begin hierdie klok se bokkies dans, die mannetjie kap hout, die mense dans en maak musiek, en natuurlik het ‘n koekoek by die boonste venstertjie kom uitloer 🙂


Die getik van 100e koekoekklokke wat die een na die ander begin sing is omtrents iets wat Captain Hook sal koekoes maak!

Die getik van 100e koekoekklokke wat die een na die ander begin sing is omtrents iets wat Captain Hook sal koekoes maak!


Die Swartwoud se befaamde waterval by Triberg val oor die klippe vir so 160m.

Die Swartwoud se befaamde waterval by Triberg val oor die klippe vir so 160m.


Vanuit die Swartwoud beweeg ons oor na Switserland. Eerste indrukke
van Swiz is nie so wonderlik nie, met ‘n hewige €40 padbelasting (geldig vir twee jaar, maar ons ry eintlik maar net ‘n draai oppad Frankryk toe!). Hier laat ‘n kommunikasiegaping met Gary ons terugry Duitsland toe. Terug in Swiz soek ons ‘n kampeerplek vir die nag, en raak eers geholpe met ons derde probeerslag. Hier sien ons ‘n nuwe spesie: die Permanente Kampeerder. Hy omring sy kampeerplek met blompotte, sy karavaantent het selfs geute, en ‘n plastiekhondjie drink water uit ‘n pienk bakkie op die voorstoep. Alhoewel ski kondisies in die somer nie perfek is nie, vat ons wel die pad na Interlaken met die idee om nader aan die Jungfrau berge te kom. Selfs met min sneeu op, is hierdie duidelik ‘n skieër se droom, en die klein huisies teen die hange het my laat uitkyk vir Heidi en haar bokkies. Gary vat ons bo-oor meer as een baie steil berg met dun paadjies, en hier sien ons baie ernstige fietsryers, in skerpe kontras met Nederland se rustige trappers. Teen die tyd wat ons Switseland verlaat, kom ons tot die gevolgtrekking dat ons nie beïndruk is nie. Interlaken is pragtig, Jungfrau amazing, maar die land kort ‘n dik laag sneeu om dit die moeite werd te maak.
Die Staubbach valle plons omtrent 300m ver teen die berg af.  Hierdie valle is in Lauterbrunnen, en van hier af kan jy 'n trein kry om teen die Jungfrau berg te gaan ski.

Die Staubbach valle plons omtrent 300m ver teen die berg af. Hierdie valle is in Lauterbrunnen, en van hier af kan jy ‘n trein kry om teen die Jungfrau berg te gaan ski.


Hier is ons in 'n tonneltjie agter die valle.

Hier is ons in ‘n tonneltjie agter die valle.


Interlaken se meer in die agtergrond.

Interlaken se meer in die agtergrond.


Waar is Heidi?

Waar is Heidi?


Toe ons die grens probeer oorsteek vanaf Swiz na Frankryk, kry ons te doen met padwerke en ‘n ompad waarvan Gary nie weet nie. Hier is ‘n stukkie tipiese dialoog tussen Willie en Gary:
“Nou vat hy my hier deur! Is hy mal?!
Turn right, then turn right.
Ek gaan NIE regs draai nie.
When possible, make a u-turn.
Wat van die geel pad. Hoekom kan ek nie op die geel pad ry nie?”
Ons het darem op die ou end in Frankryk aangekom…

29 Jun-7Jul : Monster Hunting

It was quite refreshing to arrive in a familiar place after 5 months of crossing all of the world’s time zones. London was still just as we remembered it and even the short walk from Victoria station to Leslie and Ian’s apartment seemed as if it was just yesterday when we last knocked on their door.

Saturday morning was spent strolling through the streets of Chelsea whereafter we stopped at the South African store for some supplies in preparation for the day’s main event: a BRAAI. It had been 5 months since our last braai and after claiming the responsibilities of braai master, I lit the fire with nervous expectations. I am still not sure what I enjoyed most of the meat or braaibroodjies, but thanks to a bit of sunshine and some good company it turned out to be a perfect afternoon.
The next day took us to Oxford which is home to one of the most prestigious universities in the world. After punting down a river, Ian smoothly pretended to be an ex member of the Christchurch collage and took us for a private tour of the facilities where his brother once studied.
Willie is punting his way through Oxford.

Willie is punting his way through Oxford.

This is Oxford's bridge of "Sigh".  Students need to walk from the dorms on the one side to the exam room on the other side.  We are sighing on their behalf...

This is Oxford’s bridge of “Sigh”. Students need to walk from the dorms on the one side to the exam room on the other side. We are sighing on their behalf…

The TwinzofLotz

The TwinzofLotz

It was of course also the middle weekend of the Wimbledon Tennis Championship and something we had been looking forward to for a long time. Unfortunately many of the top seeds had already been eliminated during the first week of competition and hence we would not be able to see some of the best tennis players in the world over the past decade. Our enthusiasm was however not deterred and we spent approximately 5 hours on Monday morning queueing for access to the grounds.  Once inside, we queued for another hour and a half for courtside seats on court number 3 where we were fortunate enough to see in action a previous Wimbledon womens’ champion: Petra Kvitova and thereafter a previous Roland Garros champion: Na Li. We also witnessed the fourth round match of Fernando Verdasco who would go on to give Andy Murray, the home town favourite, a good run for his money in the quarter final match-up a day or two later.
Queuing amongst thousands of Wimbledon enthusiasts.  Our "Guide to Queuing" was very helpful!

Queuing amongst thousands of Wimbledon enthusiasts. Our “Guide to Queuing” was very helpful!

Strawberries and cream, and my new "Roy Bom" on my head.  Thanks Ian!

Strawberries and cream, and my new “Roy Bom” on my head. Thanks Ian!

What a wonderful Wimbledon!

What a wonderful Wimbledon!

For the final month of our trip, we are fortunate enough to have use of our own vehicle which makes getting around a lot easier. A couple of hours’ drive on Tuesday took us from London to Kilmarnock in Scotland, where we spent a couple of nights with Marthé’ cousin Marilie and her family. Eventhough Arno was away on business, Marilie was still kind and brave enough to host us whilst also looking after her four adorable children and fluffy Labrador. We enjoyed a relaxing morning cycling through the neighbourhood and near-by park whereafter we visited the largest inland windfarm in the UK with 215 wind mills which can generate enough energy to power up 300 thousand households.
We play dress-up in the Dean Castle close to Kilmarnock.  The girls were very excited about their pretty dresses!

We play dress-up in the Dean Castle close to Kilmarnock. The girls were very excited about their pretty dresses!

All the lovely children made us laugh a lot.  Thanks Alana, Thomas, Phillipa and Nina!

All the lovely children made us laugh a lot. Thanks Alana, Thomas, Phillipa and Nina!


Love this place...

Love this place…


These blades are enormous!  More than 40m in length, and very heigh.

These blades are enormous! More than 40m in length, and very heigh.

Marthé and cousin Marilie that lives in Scotland.

Marthé and cousin Marilie that lives in Scotland.

From Kilmarnock we headed north to the Scottish Highlands and quickly stopped at the Famous Grouse – one of the many Scottish Whiskey distiliries, for a tour through their facilities. The approach and surrounding landscapes on-route to the highlands were truly breathtaking. Marilie informed us that the highest mountain peak in the UK was called Ben Nevis and that this would be a nice place to go camping and hiking. The mountain is only 1335 metres above sea level, but was constantly covered with clouds which didn’t allow for many photo opportunities at the summit.
The Famous Grous took us on a Whiskey adventure.  Ask Willie to sing the song ;)

The Famous Grous took us on a Whiskey adventure. Ask Willie to sing the song 😉

Marilie directed us to this beautiful little road-to-nowhere in the Scottish Highlands.

Marilie directed us to this beautiful little road-to-nowhere in the Scottish Highlands.

The Scottish Highlands is a truly magnificent place with hills and streams.

The Scottish Highlands is a truly magnificent place with hills and streams.

En-route to Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain!

En-route to Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain!

Ben Nevis almost got lost in the mist.  Visibility was very poor, but luckily some beacons showed us the way.

Ben Nevis almost got lost in the mist. Visibility was very poor, but luckily some beacons showed us the way.

A visit to the Scottish Highlands would not be complete without a visit to Loch Ness. Most people have probably heard of the Loch Ness Monster and as many before us, we were hoping to capture the beast and bring an end to all the speculation surrounding its existence. The beast, who is locally known as Nessie, has been spotted frequently over the past 80 years, with some witnesses claiming it to be up to 10 meters in length. Unfortunately, we were not able to shed any light on the mystery, but Scrat was at least able to catch a good glimpse of the creature that looms in the depths of the mysterious lake. Funny enough, the locals didn’t seem to bother too much about Nessie. This is, as we later found out because of the much greater danger in their midst called Midgie. The Midgie is larger than a Miggie, more venoumous than a Mosquito and quieter than a stealth weapon. The Midgie is feared all over Scotland, and we were warned of its lethal attacks everywhere we went.
This pic should make some headlines in the near future!

This pic should make some headlines in the near future!

The Loch Ness monster's home in the background, is volumewise the biggest lake in the UK.

The Loch Ness monster’s home in the background, is volumewise the biggest lake in the UK.

Well, luckily we are still alive and kicking and able to tell the story of the fearsom Midgie. We really enjoyed every moment of our time spent in the British Kingdom and we look forward to a brief return prior to our flight back to Johannesburg. Before then we will however spend a few weeks on mainland Europe which we will enter at Amsterdam in the Netherlands via Ferry from Newcastle in the UK.