Day 11 - off to Bloemfontein

Time to leave Nottingham Road and Fordoun Spa and journey to Bloemfontein for the more serious part of the tour. As this is another travel day, this diary should be fairly short, however, someone obviously realised it was likely to be a slow news day, and contrived to make some - more further down.

After a swift breakfast and van loading exercise, we were on the road again, either choosing to take the fast route along dual carriageways, or the slightly slower scenic route through the Drakensberg mountains. The latter was the preference of many, and was well worth it for the stunning scenery and occasional baboon that it produced. En-route Gary attempted to level the score on the monopoly table, but once again failed, suffering another crushing defeat.

The majority of the team rendezvoused at Shawu Lodge, our accommodation in Bloem, sometime before 6pm, and after some shuffling around of people, rooms and kit, everyone was settled in and enjoying an evening beer by the pool (or in Laurens case, in the pool, but only very briefly due to the Arctic conditions therein). All except for Bus 4.

Bus 4, featuring the rowdy personalities of CJ, Nigel, Jonny and Monsieur Crispin, elected that the scenic route would provide a few more opportunities for photos and coffee stops. Off they drove, and things were going swimmingly at first – a stop in ‘Little Switzerland’ for a drink and an enormous cheesecake, then through the mountains to the freeway. Still going without a hitch, they arrived in Bethlehem (yes you read that correctly) to have a spot of luncheon – Spur providing adequate sustenance for the journey. Unfortunately, these meals seemed to affect their bearings, a few hours later they realised that instead of continuing to head west to Bloemfontein, they were actually almost 200km due north, heading towards Johannesburg. Some consultation of maps, Blackberries, a Shell garage attendant and for some reason … the SUN took place, and they set off in a (vaguely) westerly direction towards the N1 freeway. After several hours of driving on non-existent roads, through barely existent towns, past apathetic-looking giraffes and into a glorious sunset, they finally got onto the N1 freeway towards Bloem. “Only 140km to go!” they delightedly exclaimed, until spotting a signpost that read: ‘Bloemfontein 216km’. The collective sigh could be heard across the high veldt, and they began to weave their way to the Shawu Lodge, turning a 5 hour journey into an 11 hour one.

Quote of the day is an exercise for the reader today, simply due to the vast number of submissions:

1) James (in what is becoming a regular feature) with "All I've had all day is cheesy poofs".

2) Iain (whilst tasting wine for dinner) with "Well, they're all different aren't they". Yes, that is kind of the point...

3) Julie to Neil "Do you want the back end or the front". What it is to be spoilt for choice.