Day 24 - the journey back home

The last day in South Africa, and only one thing left to do - get all the kit, rifles and team members into four vans and safely to Johannesburg airport for the evening flights.

For the less organised of the team members, the morning was obviously a chance to start packing all their kit and shoving it into the available space in the buses.

Also time to settle up the bar tabs, and find out just how much beer, gin and wine we've managed to consume over the last week and half - quite a lot in some cases!

After a game of van tetris with all the baggage we managed to fit everything in and close the doors, and set off at about 11am for Johannesburg airport, waving goodbye to Shawu Lodge, which has been an excellent home to us all for the last portion of the tour.

The keen reader will remember the take out that Steve and Mick partook of last night - Steve and Mick certainly did, setting a new record for the most number of stops between Bloemfontein and Johannesburg...

Arriving at the airport, we abandoned our trusty buses with Avis and moved to check-in, hoping for an easy time of it with the South African firearms export. By and large, it was easy, although CJ did attempt to make it more difficult by leaving his SA firearms permit in his hold baggage. Thankfully, the staff didn't seem too bothered, and so everything proceeded pretty much without a hitch.

Time to relax in the airport lounge, and definitely absolutely the final chance for present shopping for those back home, along with the usual attempt to get the entry fee for the lounge back in free beer and wine.

Boarding the aircraft (without Julie managing to walk into anything this time) we said a final goodbye to South Africa, and hello to Great Britain, thankfully experiencing somewhat of a heatwave at the moment. Wait, this news just in, it's 4 degrees, and actually snowing in Scotland! Ah well, missed summer then...

Landing back in a deceptively sunny (but actually quite chilly) Heathrow, the team emerged seemingly at the same time as a large number of other flights, a fact that was confirmed when the size of the passport control queue became apparent - so long in fact that by the time we got to baggage reclaim, our rifles were already there waiting for us (accompanied thankfully.) The final customs shuffle, and the onto the coach to pick up the remaining half of the team from the BA flight at terminal 5, who had been slightly less successful in managing to keep hold of their baggage, with the South African airport systems obviously deciding that one of Steve’s bags really needed an extra days holiday in Dubai.

One last chance for a swift game of monopoly between the airport and Bisley before it was time to unpack the coach, locate the various items located in the team bags and change from one team to separate individuals going our separate ways once again.

This tour, whilst not as successful as we would have liked on the range, has been hugely enjoyable, and I think all of the team have found some new friends amongst the other members. A massive thank you to Karen and Iain for organising it all, all the people who have helped us throughout the tour, all the team members for making it an experience to remember, and finally to you the reader for being interested in what we've been up to for the last three and a half weeks. In the words of Bugs Bunny, That's All Folks.