I eventually collected Bumble at 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening. The team at Gumtree had been working hard against the clock and a miss behaving hydraulic set-up. All was now clear and worked correctly. An hour was spent attending to a few last minute items before heading back to London.
Battling the evening rush hour slowed progress until I reached Kennington at 8.30 p.m. where Sue had been waiting patiently all afternoon. Too late for a press send off and it was beginning to feel too late for the 12.30 ferry.
Over the course of the next 4 hours our possessions were strewn across the road as we attempted to pack by streetlight. Our new tenants plied us with cups of tea as evening turned to midnight.
Packing up in London (Yes it was dark!)
Chaka sat patiently on the pavement with no comprehension of what was about to happen to him. John Symons turned up at 10 p.m. to offer assistance and wave farewell. He had a good look around our ‘Tonka’ toy, noticing a puddle of hydraulic fluid under the power steering box – this had been the cause of our 4 week delay – had it reared it’s ugly head again?
101 expletives ran through my head, but no! there had to be a simple explanation. John and I both studied engineering together at University and with our heads together managed to suppress my dismay and narrow the problem down to a hydraulic joint that was only finger tight. Success!
John eventually called it an evening at 10.30 and left us to it. In desperation the last few items were thrown in followed closely by Chaka and ourselves.
We had one last call to make in East Dulwich where we had been staying with my sister and had a few items to collect. We arrived at 01.30, parked Bumble in the middle of the road and then proceeded to fumble for the house keys in the dark. My conversation with the neighbour, who was leaning out of her bedroom window, went something like this:
Neighbour: ‘Can I help you?
Me: ‘No thanks I’m fine’
Neighbour: ‘ What do you think you are doing?’
Me: ‘Just collecting some things.’
Neighbour: ‘At this time of night! Whose house is it?’
Me:’ My sister’s.’
Neighbour, turning to someone in her bedroom: ‘There’s something-suspicious going on out here. They’ve parked a big truck in the road and are trying to get in next door. Call the Police.’ She turned to address me; ‘ I’m calling the Police.’
Me: ‘Please feel free, however you will have to explain when they arrive that you are wasting their time.’
Neighbour: ‘That’s it I’m calling the Police.’
Me: ‘Thank you, I have found the keys and if you’ve finished with me I’m going in.’
I had knocked on the door a couple of times and either John and Colina were fast asleep upstairs in bed or lying there enjoying the commotion outside. Colina’s remark was ‘ I don’t know why she’s talking to you, she never talks to us!’
A brief farewell in the road at 01:45 and we hope John and Colina will join us for a week or two on route.
The Police never turned up!
Do we miss London?
Our ferry had left at 00:30, all we could do was head down to Dover and wait for the next.
We tried to sneak a sedative into Chaka’s food but he wasn’t having any of it. The crossing was uneventful, Chaka had destroyed a loaf of bread in Bumble and made a mess of the back, not bad for a 7 month old puppy cooped up in a dark hold for 2 hours on his own – he was very pleased to see us.
Thursday 08:00 , Calais, cheap diesel, a pair of shades each and 600 miles to my parents. We slept hard for two hours and managed to drive for a full 20 minutes. A journey that normally takes 11 hours took us 27.
Arrival at St.Justin, France.
Neil Lawson – enableafrica.net expedition team