Travelling to the British Isles Wednesday 13 August 1997

We left from South Africa, Cape Town International Airport, on a British airways flight after being delayed by 30 minutes. I had only flown once before and what i remember is it had been a very bumpy ride in a storm to Johannesburg (now Gauteng). The weather had been so bad we had to land in Bloemfontein; our plane had tried to land in Johannesburg; just before the pilot had decided to abort the landing we entered a pocket of air that made us almost hit the landing strip; the next moment we were taking off into the sky again. This was my very scary flight, with people getting sick and crying. We had travelled back to Bloemfontein where we all felt great relief and gratitude to the pilot for getting us safely to land again but not without leaving an indelible mark of the fear of flying. Now on this journey, to the British Ilse, I had hoped that we might be able to sleep since it was such a long flight; it turned out to be a relatively quiet flight but still we didn’t sleep. There was so little leg room that I took to standing for part of the way. I don’t do well at sitting for long – I just get so restless.

On the trip over I thought a lot about you and mom as I always have this impression that you were quite brave, becoming a ship’s Captain in the British Merchant Navy, travelling the world and navigating the English channel and North Sea in World War II; and all the other fun things you got up to; and when it comes to mom: travelling to Mozambique on her own, doing rope climbing and taking on a man’s position as a graphic artist which in her day for a woman were all considered achievements …. then there’s me – how did you both produce such a timid risk averse offspring? Was it nurture or was it nature I wonder?

Cape Town International is so much smaller and disorganized in comparison to Heathrow. After landing at Heathrow, we taxied around which felt like we were driving around looking for parking, it took so long (up in the sky and on the runway) – we alighted into a tunnel attached to the aeroplane which led up to where we finally picked up our luggage. Everything is quite clearly sign posted. We met, Derek’s brother and not long we were on a train. The train took another 2 hrs, then we caught a bus, and then walked. After that we felt like we had really travelled! We were tired and hot. It’s quite a different world to where we live – in South Africa you just drive wherever you go as buses and trains are not reliable.

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