United Kingdom

Bristol with the cool dudes

What a weird feeling........to come from Africa, camping and warm weather to the UK with rain and feezing cold!!! We arrived at Gatwick after a sleepless flight (for Annaliese)  as usual, even though Air Namibia was great to fly with. The immigration lady was trying her best to be rude and I nearly lost my cool, but all well and we got to Victoria station in no time. Had 2 sandwiches and 2 coffees for the staggering amount of R160!!!! and decided that it is better to just sit and wait for our bus to Bristol, even though it was about 3 hours wait. I did however pee out 1Pound as you pay a bloody fortune for even this!! The busride was great and absolutely stunning, even though it is cold for us, the blossoms are out and the green with the yellow of the Canola fields was a delight to watch.The trip to Bristol was 2,5 hours and we could not wait to see Zack and just give him a hug. We arrived in the best weather they had this year and I cannot describe the joy to see our son!! We took a walking tour to their house and on the way he pointed out a few of their local places. Bristol is a stunning city with a real student vibe and in general the boys are really happy. Their house is stunning and their landlord Bally , a great guy. He works mostly in London so he offered his bedroom to us for the one night which was so kind and saved us a lot of money. Lets take you on a little tour:

Bristol, the College green and CathedralCanola Fields on the way from London to Bristol

The local pubGroceries for the boysMr Barman, tie and all

The guys have a system here!!! (That is Liam and Zack) they get cheap booze at the store down the road and then take the booze with them to the pub, sit in the garden and have a great time as if they bought it there!!

Bristol waterfront where Zack works this is the view from his restaurant

The happy family having a pub lunch!Liam off to work...how smart

We spend the first day getting some groceries for the guys and nearly had 20 heart attacks looking at the prices of things!! It truly is unbelievable how expensive food is and we are so proud of Zack, he budgets perfectly all the time and became quite the cook as it is cheaper to eat at home. The guys spend the first 2 evenings going to the pub and staggered home late in the eve, whilst I tried to get rid of the jetlag and did some ironing!

We left on Friday morning for Newquay, the UK's BIGGEST & most famous surfspot!

Newquay and Surfer Dudes

We left in our hired black mamba car and took the road less travelled on the coast to Cornwall and Newquay, the surfer capital of the UK. On the way , we stopped at the most amazing little villages, as Zack said, typical Agathe Cristie murder mystery places!!The dudes in one of the Village graveyards!!!!

 

The drive through the countyside and along the coast gave us a glimpse of a very different England, and a coastline that would do the Wildcoast proud. We stopped for a "Sunday lunch" in one of the villages, consisting of a 450 year old church, 4-5 shops, as many pubs and about 100 homes.

We had booked into a holiday caravan park, into a furnished caravan, complete with double glazed windows, heater, tv and dvd, (this reminded us a bit of the Trailorparks in the USA and Zack said he feels just like Eminem!!)We have no idea how and when these people actually camp here as it is supposed to be spring and the temp was 14 to 16degrees Celcius!! After booking in we drove through Newquay for our first recce of the beaches and entertainment spots.

The main beachHarbourNewquay town

Liam was not too impressed with the 2-3 foot waves, despite the wavline being shared by literally hundreds of surfers. But the sight of sea, beaches and surfers certainly lifted the spirits, and put us all in the holiday mood.

 

As we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary (thanks Erik for the best wishes) that day, we found a cosy restaurant down at the harbour, where we had a delicious seafood meal, for which our incredible son insisted on paying for, thankyou Zack from the bottom of our hearts. It was truly special to be able to celebrate with you. We then hit the town, finding 100s of clubs and bars full of revellers showing us why Newquay is known as both the surf and party centre of the UK, needless to say, we joined in as only beerloving South Africans can do!!

Aniversary coupleChecking the surfThe dudes at Newquay

 

The next day Liam and Stewart went for a surf recce, but the bustling Saturday shopping centre won out, and we spent the balmy (16 degrees) day wandering through the town centre, before settling down at "the Central" bar to share in a bit of UK's religion - football. For the record, Chelsea beat that other team that Rooney plays for, sorry, their name escapes me .

3 Mad SA GUYS!!!!!!!Ruds & Chrizel......

                                                                                            they truly followed your advice and had ice cream whilst I froze in the car!

The beauty of Newquay is truly astounding, and it was great to spend the time with the boys. We sampled the local fudge and icecream, apparently famous for Cornwall's "clotted cream". Liam's hopes of a good surf, however, disappeared with the swell, which the locals later told us had been "great" for the last month, but had now probably gone north for the summer . So we cancelled the surf, and instead Liam,Zack and Stewart braved the 11 degree early morning weather and had a swim instead, much to the amuzement of the locals.

 

Lands End

On the Sunday afternoon set aside for Liam to surf the non existing waves, we decided to drive to the western-most tip of England, Lands End. Despite much grumbling about the drive, we all agreed the trip was worth it when we eventually got there. As you drive west the land becomes more and more desolate, with tiny villages seemingly unchanged since the days of the pirates.It was truly a "timewarp" experience and so good to see the natural beauty of the area, totally different from everything we have ever seen. only problem was the FREEEEEZING weather, the wind is bitterly cold and this is spring!

The cliffs at Lands EndIt reads "USA" as they were trying to convince me that you can                                                                                                                                                                     actually see USA from here !!! (I know I am blonde)

We wandered around the windswept moors above the rugged cliffs of Lands End,made the locals' day with our crazy antics (one lady couldn't walk she was laughing so much at Zack, but you'll have to ask Zack for details, checked out a small working farm in the area that has been there for 700 years, Zack posted off some postcards, and then it was off back home,

Just to prove that we were realy here!!

but not before we stopped off and had a drink in "the first and the last pub" in England, which had its own tunnel down to the cliffs as a legacy to its historic roots of smuggling. The whole area's history is one of smuggling and highway robbers as we discovered when we took the boys on a bit of an historic trip to ensure they got their fill of a bit of history!

Bath and Stonehenge

Zack had arranged his schedule to spend the whole of Tuesday with us, and as we still had the car, we decided to visit Stonehenge, and then meet Gill (Stewart’s stepmom, visiting UK from Zimbabwe) and Michael (Stewart’s brother, living in UK) in Bath, and see what the Romans made such a fuss about.

The weather had turned cold (11 degrees), or at least we thought it was cold, and the trip to Stonehenge was complicated by road closures, but we eventually found it. After driving along small country roads for what seemed like hours and hours, the stones of Stonehenge suddenly loomed out of the horizon of Salisbury plains. We parked in thecar park, dressed as warmly as we could, and took a walk round the strangely eery rock formations.

The fomation at StonehengeJust to show you how cold it really was !!!

Dating back initially some 5 000 years ago, some of the smaller stones originate from Wales, some 380 km away, and some of the larger 3 storey ones, from 30 km away. Although not as impressive as the Egyptian constructions of the same era, we were nevertheless impressed with the Brit’s primitive attempts at castle building.It was so great to spend time together as a family again and we promptly made a video of the 3 of us singing happy birthday to Kloe, Ruds & Chrizel, just to show that you are permanently in our thoughts. XXX

The biting wind soon got the better of us, so we headed off back to Bath, where we met up with Michael and Gill, and then spent a couple of hours wandering around the Roman Baths, a massive structure of naturally hot water pools, temples, bath houses and Roman artifacts, that kept us wandering around, marveling at the Roman’s ingenuity.

The family together

Zack said this guide smelled as bad as he looked!! The Roman baths

We then spent another few hours in another Bath institution – the local pub, where we caught up on family news Good luck to Gill as she returns to Zimbabwe , where at least the beginning of the end, if not the end itself, of the abnormal life people there are living, is in sight.

Our final Thoughts

 

Annaliese

As we sit here at Gatwick after having left Bristol this morning, I have difficulty in conveying my feelings. I am so very proud of my son for having made such a huge success in a foreign country despite his bad rugby injury and despite being away from his family and most of his loved ones, but at the same time I am so sad to leave. The trip will be hard from now on as it will be difficult terrain, difficult to connect by mail or cell and even harder as there will be no visits to and from family and friends for a while, but the show must go on and I am eternally grateful for having had the opportunity to spend quality time with 2 of the 3 most important men in my life, it was great to be able to do some home cooking even though the facilities were typical bachelor style, it was great to laugh out loud and to cry even harder, to have a jol and just to be typical tourists together.

I think the UK will always be a country of emotional highs and lows for me and I will love and hate it at the same time till we meet again!!!

Supper at the flat, we used the table for the FIRST time!!!!

 

Stewart

Incredible to see how Zack and Liam have adapted so well to life in a foreign country, I am proud of them. They have learnt a lot, had good times and bad, and will be stronger and better for the experience. I found visiting happy and sad, great to spend quality time with Zack, and to speak to him about his hopes and aspirations for the future, a future that proudly includes South Africa. Sad to know he is now a man, capable of making his own way in life without us. I am proud of you, Zack, and look forward to seeing you and Rud's soon. Enjoy the rest of your stay , and your well deserved upcoming holiday with one of the loves of your life.