I don’t quite know what has happened to my desire to write in recent weeks. It may be that I have taken over as chair of governors at my local school and am having to put more time and thought into that. Or that I have been thinking about my next holiday, coming up in February 2020 and have been a bit apprehensive at the thought of setting out on my own again after having the support of family around me in Rome this summer. (I know this isn’t rational because I have been to the tented camp before and they have taken excellent care of me. But I don’t want them to feel that I am a burden – a ‘difficult’ guest because they are afraid I might fall). Or, maybe, my brain is just going into hibernation. Anyway, here goes…..
There’s not really a lot to add really. The early morning and afternoon safaris continued and our patience was eventually rewarded when we saw a lion and lioness away from their pride, ‘courting’ and, another day a lioness and her cub walked across the road just in front of our jeep. At the end, of ten days, the safari holiday came to an end and most of the group went home. Just a few of us travelled down a long and bumpy road to spend a few days at the coast near Mombasa.
We stayed at a pleasant beach resort called ‘Southern Palms’, where we mainly lounged around, walked on the beach, swam in the pool and enjoyed the excellent food and drink. We did, however, have a day out to visit Mombasa. The contours of the coast mean that the easiest way to travel into the city is by ferry. We visited Fort Jesus, built in the 16th century by the Portuguese but subsequently taken over by Arabs, then the British before becoming a national monument and being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. From there we did the usual tourist tour of markets, etc and travelled along Moi Avenue to see the famous tusks which were installed to mark Princess Margaret’s visit in 1952.
On reflection, I’m not sure what I was expecting and I surely can’t have imagined that they were real but I was terribly disappointed by the sight of aluminium plates fastened together by studs! Still, they are very imposing.
The only other happening of note was the great fire! I was woken around 1am by a noise which, at first, I thought was fireworks. I jumped out of bed to look out of the window and it only took a few seconds to realise that there were no fireworks but that the thatched roof of the building opposite ours (another block of bedrooms) was on fire! I rushed out of the room and banged on some of the adjacent doors. People were starting to move and, after throwing some clothes on, I was about to leave with my friends when we realised that everyone else seemed to have taken the time to pack their suitcases. So it was back into our rooms to do the same! The fire spread across the rooftops towards the main reception building, which was was between the two bedroom blocks. The guests all gathered in a grassy area between the two buildings. We had no idea what was going on as far as firefighting was concerned but eventually the flames began to die down. We were served cups of tea by the staff and were reassured that we were quite safe – and so we were!!! I phoned our poor tour manager who was very surprised to be woken at 3am but, to his credit, he drove from his home over an hour away to check on us. As our rooms were undamaged, we were able to go back to bed and, eventually, go back to sleep.
When I got up, breakfast was going on as if nothing had happened. We discussed with our tour manager whether to move. Our rooms were not touched, the pool was available and it looked as if the hotel needed as much support as it could get. Three out of the four of us decided to stay on. And so our time at the Southern Palms drifted slowly to a close. I made it home with my gorgeous wooden birds, which still have a home with me.
After I arrived home, I was watching my local TV station and saw a family talking about the “dreadful fire which left us all in tremendous danger with little help from the hotel staff”. The events they described were not as I remembered but, try as I might, no-one was interested when I phoned the TV station to tell them what had really happened! I shouldn’t have been surprised because, at the hotel, we had all overheard people saying that they would exaggerate and lie about what had happened in order to get something out of the hotel or their holiday company. In truth, the only people who suffered were the hotel employees who were laid off because there was not enough work for them. It left a bad taste in my mouth! I was delighted to receive a lovely bunch of flowers from Saga holidays.
I am now in London with my grandson (aged 15)! Who is looking after whom?