Day 1 in London: Thursday 14th, Aug 1997

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Flowers everywhere…

We had the attic room – my dream come true. I felt quite spoilt. It overlooks all the other houses, all looking the same with their ‘Mary Poppins’ rooves, chimneys and trees, going on and on in a patchwork quilt of shapes and colours. It’s quite humid in London, would you believe! The windows mist up even when open. It’s been nice and warm – that’s what I like. I guess you would have experienced that sort of humidity when living in Durban before you met mom.

There is an array of noises here, aeroplanes criss-cross the sky from overhead to the horizon; just outside the window, trains rattle along; the boiler in our room proves it’s definitely alive and kicking; while cars zoom along below. Not a single bird to be heard. I know you chose Hout Bay because of it’s wild and unadulterated beauty was far from the busy towns. I wonder how you would feel about being here? The next morning I awoke to some unfamiliar noises at 6, but Derek continued to sleep till 9am. I lolled around with coffee and all our travel books. The options seemed limitless and while I knew our time line was constrained it didn’t stop me from mentally planning many more escapades than was humanly possible.

We decide to walk into ‘town’ to the shops. 10 minutes of wonderment: walking between all the houses along the narrow streets with lots of flowers in window boxes and on street lamp poles in storybook perfection. It seems like they don’t really get much wind here. And there was the surprise of a cemetery and park all in one, who would have thought! Sainsbury was an eye opener compared to our shops back home. There was a selection of cheeses and meat, berries and baby Rosa tomatoes we’d never seen before. The sight of this must’ve brought out the wide eyed goofy look in us both.  Can you imagine us being amazed by a grocery store? Sounds so ridiculous but South Africa lags behind because the sanctions that were only recently lifted (in 1994) after Nelson Mandela came into power. We had a day orientating ourselves and discovering the do and don’ts – you don’t give the cashier your basket or put it on the counter; you do pack your own groceries into bags; you don’t give a bus driver £20 and expect change. It is easy to presume that because we speak English it would be the same as home but it clearly is not.

In the light of the long evening we bussed to Wimbledon,

Walked through the park and picnicked with L.

The trip bulged with experience: quaint, floral, old, green and a friendly atmosphere,

Ending off with strawberries and cream,

Now I lie in bed

 With the window just above my head,

 And the stars shining in,

 As the clouds seem to gently pass side by side and grin.

*

Four more days to Scotland.

(Note to reader: now that it is 2018 in South Africa things have changed tremendously)

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