At 10h00 on 22 January 1953, the caravan was hitched up to the Land Rover and half an hour later, we pulled away from the forecourt of our old garage business, having first filled up with fuel! The local press were on the spot to take photographs of us, huddled up in our thick duffel coats; we went on our way through a slight drizzle, to remind us that we were still in England!
Luckily for me, Mum kept a diary of the complete trip, which now makes relating the following part of my life so much easier. I will leave it in dated diary form to give an idea of the time we were on the road.
|Checking the tyre pressures|
|David behind the camera, taking us just about to depart.|
|Smiling faces all round.|
David, Dulcie, Diane and Don
The journey to the coast was very slow and arduous, what with the weight of the Land Rover and the heavily laden caravan towed behind. Nevertheless, we arrived at Southampton by 13h30, where we decided to have a meal before proceeding to Dock 101 with the caravan. The documentation caused very few problems and after obtaining all the necessary receipts and documents for the van, we made our way to the hotel for the night. None of us wished to go out, as the fog was moving in rapidly, so after a meal, we decided that an early night was in order. Before retiring, a few postcards were sent off, as from here on we were not sure when we would have time to keep the correspondence up to date, not to mention the fact that once in Africa we did not know when we would even find a post office!
23 January 1953 arrived with a bang! This would be the last time we would see England again for some time. The ferry only left at 19h00, so the day was spent in Southampton, where we tried to enjoy the last day of a British winter. The afternoon was spent in a cinema, much the warmest place! We then collected the final papers for the car from the AA. These had been sent straight to Southampton from Bristol, as we had rushed everyone at the last minute. Last minute phone calls to both our families were made to say a final goodbye and we were ready for our departure to the docks. The Customs officials wished us 'God Speed' and told us that the last people that they knew of who had tried our trip had not been seen or heard of since!! Just the sort of news we needed at this stage of our journey and it cheered us up no end (!), but undeterred we went aboard and watched the Land Rover being loaded by crane.
After a meal, we went to our cabin where we bunked down for the night. Very little sleep was expected; what with the engines throbbing and the mounting excitement, how could anyone expect to sleep properly with the thought of what lay ahead of us.
|Hmmm, not quite like driving on to a ferry, as is taken for granted these days!|
To be continued :-)
I have put this section of my life story on Kindle if you should be interested:-