Hold-ups on the honeymoon highway
There are barely two months left until Matchgirl and I fly away to begin a long-awaited honeymoon that in our innocence we believed had been well planned and problem-free. Had been.
The first inkling of a hint of a possible difficulty was an email from the organisers of our self-drive Namibian safari to warn us that accommodation couldn't be guaranteed at some of the lodges until closer to our departure date. A brief period of panic ensued (especially on my part, fearful that more camping might become involved) until Bob, a friend who's made this same trip, assured us that all should be fine. The company's just covering its back, he said.
Bob's the kind of man you believe. He knows about engines, DIY and self-sufficiency. He's also a subscriber to Land Rover Monthly, owns two well used examples of the breed and is no stranger to off-road activities, so he was the obvious person to ask to recommend a driving course in preparation for our venture on to the gravelled roads of Namibia.
The good news, according to our 4x4 guru, is that the roads we'll encounter are wide, traffic-free and as safe as any highway can be when you discount the occasional pothole, hidden river bed, charging rhino or slow-moving bullock cart dawdling around a bend.
The bad news is that a Land Rover 110, the safari company's vehicle of choice, is not designed for a six-foot-six driver – as I discovered when Bob suggested I try his for size. I was able to fit behind the wheel – just – but operation of the pedals may be a bit of a challenge. As his vehicle was in the garage with its bonnet open and various innards strewn around I was unable to investigate further.
An email to the safari firm produced the worrying response that the 110 is all that's available. This is of particular concern to Matchgirl who, although she enjoys driving, has no wish to spend all of her honeymoon behind the wheel, unable to enjoy the sight of Africa's exotic flora and fauna because she's too busy concentrating on the next bend and the prospect of what may be around it.
I suspect that our good friend Bob may soon be called upon to let me drive his 110 on a straight stretch of well-surfaced and bullock-free road while I practice operating brake, clutch and accelerator pedals whilst moving nothing more than my ankles.
Something both Matchgirl and I will need to practice is changing a Land Rover wheel, for it seems that at least one puncture is almost guaranteed on the flinty gravel roads we're to traverse. Don't they have the RAC in Namibia?
Recent honeymoon preparation has involved things other than transport. I now have no excuse for missing any photographic opportunities after buying far more memory cards for my camera than I'll ever need. If the capacity I have was turned into rolls of film I'd need a medium-sized suitcase to carry them all.
And in a couple of days I visit the doctor's surgery in Munlochy where I'll learn what jabs and pills I'll need to take to keep me free of malaria, dengue fever, ebola virus and bullock carts during our three weeks in The Dark Continent.
I wonder if it's too late to move our honeymoon to Grannie's Heilan' Hame?