At Last, Word From The Dusty African Plain!

 Africans Finally, today, just three days before Daughter's return, came news from the African plains.  Postal anticipation finally rewarded.  She's been gone since 7th July.  A strange feeling overwhelmed me as the coach left for Heathrow, loaded with young people full of anticipation and excitement which, in most cases, I suspected masked a certain nervousness about the challenges ahead.  It felt like that first day at school.  There was a sense that they'd be changed in subtle ways by the experience; more mature and independent, embarking upon

the next phase of life.  There was such a stillness in her room, giving a taste of how it'll be next September when she departs for Uni.  I was surprised by the emotions which rose unbidden and disturbed me.  I knew she was glad to have my little gifts, just simple things, mostly edible, one wrapped for each day with a letter of encouragement planned for half way through the Great Walk.  By then I guessed fatigue, tiredness and a desperate need for a little solitude may have kicked in.  Daughter's not a herding beast, enjoying her own space.

So, what news from distant lands?  Well, the 100 mile expedition in 10 days, walking only in their group of four, unassisted and carrying all their food and belongings was successfully completed and how!  Apparently, the maps were so bad they walked 150 miles and hitchhiked a further 50!  Wondered if it was a case of 'bad workman and tools' but they are pretty nifty map readers, having had training expeditions in Snowdonia.  They saw nobody they knew for the 10 days but all came safely back.  The leaders must have felt like Brian Hanrahan on the Ark Royal, famously saying "I counted them out and I counted them in again".  When all were safely gathered in, they partied!  She tells me it's been great fun and I could tell she's having the time of her life.

Moving on after a couple of days R & R, they moved to Lake Victoria, pulling in some white water Maasi mara rafting on the way.  As I write, they're coming to the end of a safari in Kenya.  As a young child I went on safari and still remember the beauty of the African sunset.  How lucky to have such opportunities, truly food for the soul.  

Thoughts are now turning to Friday at 11am when travellers return, no doubt leaner, browner, happy and totally exhausted.  A new bed stands proudly in Daughter's bedroom, offering the promise of soft, comfortable slumber.  Am wondering whether she may be so used to roughing it that she'll throw the duvet down and sleep on the floor?  OK, not as harsh as the open road but still a little firm for my liking.  I'll let you know!

Revolving door

 While all that's been going on, I've also been spinning in the revolving door of teenage social life and laundry.  Son's been in and out, sleep overs, visits, a week in the trailer tent with Father, body boarding and windsurfing (more about that later).  Returned on Friday, saw long-lost friends the next day and then off on holiday to Devon for a week with a mate and his family.  Phew!  That's a very quick turn around on the washing!  Yep, he's certainly living life to the full.  Just hoping he puts as much effort into the GCSE preparation next year!

Back to the water pursuits.  Well, granted it was a little chilly, but when you're wet, you're wet, right?  So, armed with two full sized wind surfers, masts and sails (found in a skip by the way, but in pristine condition) and newly purchased body boards and wetsuits – avec matching shoes – they hit the beach.  Boys on tour and all that.  After much ado (seemingly about nothing), husband retired with hypothermia after 25 minutes.  He said he had hypothermia.  Probably something on the man flu scale.  Son left to ride the waves alone.  Soon linked up with fellow surfers and rode the curl, or Surfer whatever the hip terminology is.  Eventually, son notices non-reappearance of father and trails up the hill to the car.  Not a pretty sight.  Both seats back, almost lying in the recovery position, eating a packet of Cheese & Onion, with flapjacks on the seat ready to rectify the blood sugar level which (I am given to understand) was falling faster than lead through water.  Oh yes, this was certainly 'man hypothermia'; to thee and me, a slight chill!  Son distinctly unimpressed.  He could have been dead on the rocks.  And father missed the 30' ride through the wave which was probably the best manoeuvre ever carried out by any surfer, ever, so I'm told!  Believe me, I've lived hypothermia and peak performances on boards (various) since the return of the duo on Friday. 

Why wasn't I rip curling with the rest, you may be wondering?  Well, I've been well and truly hacked, twice.  Bought new laptop.  Having to redo my sites.  Decided to stay at home to catch up.  Didn't.  By the time I'd dodged the showers (unsuccessfully) with The Mutleys, dried out and taken tea, it was almost time to batten down the hatches for the night.  It was quiet, too quiet.  

Telling myself not to conduct a military style debrief when daughter alightes from coach.  She'll need time and space to adjust, I reckon.  After the wide open plains, the month spent with mates and the plethora of new experiences, the walls of our abode may seem just a little restictive.  Hope I can hold back.  Was told upon departure that I wasn't to cry at the coach.  Let's hope I maintain a modicum of decorum upon the return.  Can't promise anything . . . 

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