1998, January – South Africa bus tour
Package, starting with flight to Johannesbug. Advantage of flying north-south, not west-east, is no jetlag. Much amused at our first hotel. We asked the tour guide if she would point out the Rosebank district of Johannesburg, if we passed it, because our friends Gerald and Kitty Griffiths had accepted a ‘call’ to a church there after leaving Charlotte Chapel. She replied sharply that she would not wish to go near Rosebank, and that we were going to a country hotel for a few nights. On arrival, we found there had been a fire, so after much telephoning we were taken, in the dark, to a hotel in Johannesburg. Pulling back the curtains in the morning, we were looking at the Rosebank Union Church.
Game drives in the Idube Game Reserve – photos of a game drive and of a break for refreshments, with ostrich eggs in the foreground. On return to the Lodge, a dip in the pool beside the dining room was refreshing – Ian in the water, Joyce in the deck chair. Then the whole party flew to George, stayed at the golf course there, and then drove along the Garden Route to Cape Town, with a boat-trip around Featherhead Bay, so named because it was the first anchorage where sailors on east-bound sailing ships could have a good sleep after rounding the Cape.
Then we were driven north, through hill country, to an ostrich farm (Ian mounting to ride one), and visited pre-historic cave paintings; on the way south, we stayed at Matjiesfontain, a quaint, self-contained village in theKaroo, where the Blue Train (we saw it come through) used to stop for passengers to have breakfast on the platform. Then to Cape Town, where we visited the Waterfront, Table Mountain, and the Cape of Good Hope. Direct flight home to Heathrow.
1998, March – Alison’s tenth birthday, to London
As with David and Jennifer (1994 and 1996), train from Edinburgh and stayed in a hotel near King’s Cross station. Her choices included visits to Harrods and Hamleys and Horse Guards’ Parade, and a full guided tour of Buckingham Palace. Her choice of theatre was ‘Whistle down the Wind’. On the Sunday we had lunch and spent the afternoon with David Saunderson and his family.
1998, June – Jeremy’s graduation from London Bible College
Jeremy studied at London Bible College from 1995-98, graduating BA(Hons) in Theology. We took the car to the graduation ceremony, partly to bring back his belongings and partly to stop off at Center Park in Nottingham Forest (not otherwise listed here) for a week with Lesley and family.
1998, July – Disneyland Park, Paris
Joyce took David, Jennifer and Alison to Paris for a few days, staying in Disneyland Park, which had opened in 1992. They went on the rides and exhibits and dressed up as Disney characters. On arrival at the airport, in the queue for a taxi, this driver not only took them to Disneyland, explaining the sights on the way, but arranged to come back the next day and show them around Paris, Eifel Tower and all, and, at the end, took them to the airport. For all of this, Joyce described him as her ‘guardian angel’.
1998, August – car to Norway
Car ferry from Newcastle to Kristiansand on the southern tip of Norway, easy drive to stay with Sandy, first at their house and then at their holiday cabin in the mountains at Geilo. Lovely mountain walks. Also bicycle trip (two photos) organized by Terge, downhall all the way to the fjord, with spectacular waterfalls. A train took us and the bicycles back up the hill to Geilo.
Then two-day drive north to Alesund to stay with Paul and Anne-Marit Saunderson – the car sat on ‘cruise-control’ for long spells as there was a strictly enforced 70 km limit on the long straight roads. Drove back to Bergen to pick up the Newcastle ferry.
1998, September – Roundelwood Health Spa, Crieff
A week of healthy meals and treatments morning and afternoon. Group sessions of reflexology, the application of pressure to specific points on the feet and hands, using thumb, finger, and hand massage techniques. As the management were, incidentally, Seventh Day Adventists, Saturday was spent as we would spend Sunday – services, meditations, etc. Photo of us in the lounge.
1998, November – St Lucia and on to Young Island
Front row of the upper deck of the British Airways 747, as before. Heathrow to Barbados, where many got off, and we were alone in the bubble for the rest of the flight. Nice beach hotel, explored the island, including a rumbling but safe-to-visit active volcano. One curious incident. We had booked a boat trip round the island, but shortly after setting off the captain said that it was too rough to continue and sailed around the marina inside the breakwater. By chance we spotted Sonia Balfour’s and Alex’s yacht – we knew that they were based on St Lucia and chartering their yacht for a living. We asked the skipper to draw up alongside and at that moment Sonia returned from shopping and chatted away as if we had been expected.
Flew on in a tiny aircraft – we were the only passengers – to St Vincent and had another week on Young Island. As we were there for only one week, we did not qualify for nights away on their yacht. Home via a scheduled flight to Barbados and then British Airways overnight to Heathrow. Interesting experience on the latter. We had, as usual, booked the front row on the upper deck of the 747. The check-in clerk said that these seats was not available and put us elsewhere. We suspected he had given them to two of his friends. Ian asked to see the supervisor. He came back and with a wink said, ‘Don’t say any more – just leave it with me (although he left us with our unwanted boarding passes). When we got to the steps, we were directed to First Class. Great experience, but we would never dream of paying the asking price for it.
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