We have arrived at the last day of this challenge to self – wander travel memory lane all through April 2020. A way of travelling virtually while in my lockdown bubble. Dreams of travelling again when this too has passed. An exercise in gratitude for all I have been given in this life already.
Going to finish with Kruger memories part two.
No more stories…. Just some Johnny Clegg wisdom… from the Johnny Clegg & Savuka song Great Heart
There’s a highway of stars across the heavens There’s a whispering song of the wind in the grass There’s the rolling thunder across the savanna A hope and dream at the edge of the sky And your life is a story like the wind Your life is a story like the wind I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart To hold and stand me by I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart Under African sky
Last virtual wander through the Okavango Delta and surrounds.
Today I am thinking of magical wildlife moments. I got to experience so many during my years there. I still have to pinch myself this time really happened.
There’s the time I had to sleep on the pool lounger as a family of hippo were grazing all round my little housie that night.
Or the 5am deep breath and tiptoe past three sleeping bull elephant (all round the house) to make sure I got to the main area of camp to get ready for guest arrival.
Then there’s a moment with a young she leopard making her way across our island in the Delta. It was twilight and there she was sat on the path ahead of me. Too close before I realised she was there. But she paused before moving off, just long enough for us to acknowledge each other.
Then there’s the time our resident bull elephant stuck his whole head through the office door to get at a couple of marula fruit that had found their way onto the floor inside. Yes, I was in this little camp office at the time.
A lone spotted hyena would make the rounds with me most evenings on lock up after guests had retired for the night…. trotting along after me along the boardwalks…. not too close…. after the first few times of feeling insecure, I actually found him quite companionable.
The Pel’s Fishing Owl family nesting in the tree above my house.
The big python who lived under my house. I never had a rodent problem.
And many more…. that’s breathtaking Botswana! Best place to experience real, wild Africa (just my opinion).
But this kind of magic has a life span. Too much of a good thing and all that… still, I am left with incredible memories and oodles of gratitude for this chapter in my story.
In the wise words of Prime Circle from their song Breathing…
“Here’s to the good times The bad times The times that could have been To the wrong times The right times I know we’ll breathe again…”
Another set of pics remembering my time in beautiful Botswana.
Today I am thinking about the Botswana rhythm. There is a wonderful rhythm to the seasons and natural cycles. The flooding then drying of the Okavango Delta. The migration of the zebra and the elephant.
A time for marula trees to bear fruit which brings the elephants.
September is amazing…. a deep breath before the rains arrive. Unexpected flowers bloom. Babies abound – impala, lechwe, zebra.
January is prickly hot. But some afternoons turn black on the horizon and then the lightening and thunder and rain arrive. The cuckoos and Woodland Kingfisher call continuously. A good time to venture into the reeds in a mokoro hoping for a glimpse of the elusive sitatunga. At Xigera Lagoon the African Skimmers are nesting.
The people of Botswana have a rhythm too. A time to plant. A time to harvest. A time to move the cattle. A time to gather from the wild.
There is a beautiful kinship that weaves the Ba-Tswana together as a people but also connects them to this land. It was so easy to fall into this rhythm and be mesmerised by its beat.
I highly recommend the evening banquet tour. You enjoy a wander through Hobbiton at sun down including a visit to Bag End, Bagshot Row and the Party Tree. Then arrive at the Green Dragon for a fabulous feast fit for Hobbits and finish with a lantern tour back through Hobbiton.
Professor Tolkien’s descriptions of Hobbiton and surrounds leap off the page and you are magically transported to the Shire for a little while.
I remember my first visit to Scotland so vividly. It was a “travels with mom” adventure circa 2003. We drove up from London to Glasgow. Overnight in Glasgow and then on the train up to Mallaig, overnight in Fort William and the next morning more train to Edinburgh. Then a couple of days taking in the sights and sounds of Edinburgh. It was April but it was freezing!! A deep fried Mars bar was an experience, as was trying to understand a Glaswegian accent! Ben Nevis was jaw dropping to behold. But most overwhelming for me was how at home I felt, instantly on arrival. Me and Scotland – love at first sight.
I have been back a couple of times now – solo traveller. Still love it. Could live there if the opportunity presented.
Dream of going north to John o’ Groats and the Hebrides.
Today’s virtual wanderings take in a winter wander – Edinburgh and the Highlands including Loch Ness. And then another set of pics of a summer stay – Edinburgh, Stirling and Loch Lomond.
It should be said that I am not normally a city girl. But just like Bath from yesterday’s post, Oxford is another English city which I really enjoy wandering the streets of.
Just like wild spaces have a spirit to them, I believe some urban spaces do too. Perhaps something of the history and culture of a place seeps from the pavements up into your feet?
I suppose the extra pull of Oxford for me is how much time Professor Tolkien spent here.
I love the architecture. I have had the privilege of visiting Oxford in the summer and in the winter. There is something magical in the way light changes, reflecting off the buildings, intriguing the senses the way it does in natural places.
And then, of course, there are the happy memories of visiting Oxford with precious family that make the wandering all the more special.
These pics are of a January day enjoying a wander through the quiet, chilly streets of the “City of Dreaming Spires”.
Still on the same “travels with mom” adventure that brought us to Queenstown, New Zealand’s South Island.
We took a side trip – a bus ride from Queenstown to Fiordland National Park. Then onto a boat for an overnight stay on Milford Sound.
More of Middle Earth to discover. Here we glimpsed the River Anduin, the Dead Marshes and Fangorn Forest.
If I put my ecologist hat on for a moment. Here is a raw, pure Aotearoa/New Zealand environment. Magnificent in scale. Teeming with biodiversity. Truly showcasing the power and awesomeness of Mother Nature. A pure space.
A pure space – this paradox of serenity in harsh, isolated spaces keeps coming up for me as I wander these travel memories. Something that speaks to my soul, I suppose.
I think my need to wander began as a girl. Growing up, my mom and dad organised wonderful family holidays that took us the length and breadth of South Africa. Often intrepid and roads less travelled, sparking a wanderlust that has remained with me.
These days I also have incredible memories of travels with my mom – just the two of us. So grateful to have had these opportunities with my very special mama bear.
Today’s wanderings takes on one of these “travels with mom” adventures in search of Middle Earth. She is very patient with me and my obsessions. This will make more sense as my story unfolds.
I have been obsessed with Professor JRR Tolkien’s writing for as long as I can remember. Then Peter Jackson chose New Zealand as his Middle Earth. I think Professor Tolkien would have approved. Anyway, it has been fabulous to have Middle Earth on my doorstep.
Today I am sharing some pics from a Queenstown and surrounds trip with Mom. We found evidence of Middle Earth all along the way from the Fords of Bruinen to Isengard, Ithilien to Parth Galen, the Mountains of Mordor to the West Fold of Rohan. Magic!
Even if you aren’t in search of Middle Earth like we were, New Zealand’s South Island is simply spectacular. A true pure space. I love mountain environments probably more than being on the coast. Just as in the Kalahari, I am similarly inspired by changing light and colour in these stunning surroundings. And just like in the Kalahari, there is something of the serene juxtaposed with harshness in this space that captures the soul.
We visited Queenstown, Glenorchy, Paradise, Arrowtown, Wanaka and Cadrona among other beautiful South Island spots. Besides wonderful sights and scenery there also seems to be great coffee, food and wine to taste everywhere you go in this area. Mom even got me to go on a little horse ride with her in Paradise! The motivation? A chance of wandering through Lord of the Rings filming sites only accessible on said horse ride.
The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with weary feet, Until it joins some larger way, Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.