Amateur David Bailey

I have 2 dogs out here – not taken on me but inherited from another expat who was here years ago. These poor dogs must get serious cabin fever as although I live in a fairly big old rambling house, the compound it’s in is not so big. So as often as time allows I take the dogs for a long run just out of town.

The place is actually the land of an agricultural training college and gets busy on sunny weekends with picnicking Angolan families and young couples.

I am an early bird these days so tend to arrive way before the crowds which means the dogs can be let off the leash to race round like lunatics and go a swim in the lake.

Last weekend I was there particularly early, it was not too long after dawn.  I stayed for ages watching as the sun came up and the light changed by the minute.

.                              These are pine trees…in Angola, in Africa!

It’s a really beautiful peaceful place in fact as I wandered round the muddy paths snapping away I felt quite homesick – it looked exactly like the English countryside and reminded me of home!

“Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…”

Beach huts

Being what they call an ‘expat’ (basically a Brit living abroad) I take my summer holidays in the UK…and that’s exactly what I’m doing at the moment. I have abandoned the troops over in Moz and am on my summer holidays…in Britain! 

Apparently with this credit crunch I’m not the only Brit holidaying in Britain, the difference for me being that in a week I go ‘home’ to Mozambique!

My holidays this year were timed to celebrate my Mama’s milestone birthday except my homecoming was a surprise visit so for my first few days back in Blighty I was “in hiding” down on the south coast with Ankles until it was time to journey north for the big birthday surprise.

What a great way to start my holidays…long walks down blustery beaches, surfing in chilly breath-snatching waters and a plentiful supply of white wine! As ever we had our usual Ankles & Bells eccletic mix of music to accompany us on our escapades and I sit and write this blog listening to Eddie Vedder’s beautiful songs from the movie “Into the Wild” from my ‘Soundtrack to Summer 09’ CD (thanks Ankles!)

Between myself and the sisters we somehow managed to keep my surprise arrival a secret until the big day when we celebrated Mama’s big day with a retro tennis themed afternoon tea party (hence the outfits!).

Tbuck lawn tennis

Obviously no visit home would be complete without a trip into the hills so after a quick pitstop in Edinburgh it was off for a few days tramping round the slightly soggy and wonderfully deserted Glencoe highlands with a quick detour via Wales to climb the busy little anthill of Snowdon.

With my much needed  ‘fix’ of hills to keep me going for the next wee while it was back home for shopping, brunching and generally just hanging out for my last few days of summer holiday.

So donning my fabulous new biker boots (it’s ALL about looking good in the minefield darling!) I head back out to Moz musing over just what chaos and confusao I was about to walk back into!

Well done the girls

After singing the praises of Sir Ranulph Fiennes in one of my previous posts (Always be bothered) I heard from a friend that an expedition of her fellow country women had summitted on the same day as Fiennes. The first Singaporean women to stand on the top of the world…an incredible achievement – well done girls!!

Women on Everest

Hitching, walking, sleeping, sliding

At long last I have managed to extract my Scotland photos off my phone.

Without my camera I was stuck taking pictures with my phone..even with the poor quality of the photos hopefully you will see why I was so determined to capture the images! So after an incredibly convoluted complicated process involving texting them to another phone then accessing the picture from a website I have succeeded.

icy-scotland1

 

After my very tame new years eve I jumped on a plane up to Inverness then drove over to a wee cottage just outside Fort William where a bunch of friends had spent new year. I joined them to head into the hills for a few days…well…what would a trip back home be for me without a bimble in the hills! 

 

eilean-donan-castle

Arriving in the rain and leaving in the snow lady luck was obviouslyin a generous mood giving me the sole crisp sunny day of the week.

Up at first light I hitched to the start of a walk which a friendly neighbour had given me directions for…”head up the hill, turn right, past the cairn, follow the ridge to the summit. You can’t go wrong”. Although he did also add…”I’ll be sure to check your light is on later to make sure you’re home just in case”!!

Well – what a day!

Wild stags 10 metres away just 2 minutes into the walk, the entire mountain to myself, stunning light and the clearest view from the summit across the Skye…for sure the absolute best of Scottish hills ‘doing their thing’!

 

applecross-cairn1

Descending down into the bay and onto the beach for the hike home (maybe with a quick pit stop in the Applecross Inn)…well, it wouldn’t be a visit to Applecross without popping into the pub! I slept well that night that’s for sure!

 

 

applecross-beach1

Knowing I had a long haul back to Fort William the next day I set off before first light. The night had brought snow and ice and as I climbed higher and higher on the bealach pass my pathetic hire car just wasnt up to the job.

It was a hairy old drive and I ended up tucking in behind the gritter truck to get up and over the summit! (thanks to the 2 lovely lovely gritter truck men whoever you are for kindly stopping to check I was ok then driving at 1 mile an hour so I could keep up!)

Against the clock I didnt stop again until I pulled into the hire car forecourt! Pestering them for a lift to the train station I arrived as the last train was closing it’s doors. Rather spectacularly bags, scarves, jackets flying all the over the place I raced down the platform and jumped on!

Then had that awful moment of embarressment as you realise quite what a shock you look to the rest of calm and quiet passengers already settled in their seats!

 

me-on-the-mountain

 

Anyhow, I made it!

Then prompty fell asleep as i headed towards Edinburgh for a couple of days partying before home to unpack, wash kit, re pack and head back to the slightly more balmy climate of Mozambique….happy in the knowledge the West Coast of Scotland safely retained it’s top spot as the most beautiful place in the world (did I mention I quite like Scotland!)

Unemployed and homeless…now add single and fast approaching 30!

Nic and Hels see in the new year on the beach!Nothing in life is certain – well, in the words of Benjamin Franklin…”nothing is certain but death and taxes!”

In the blink of an eye a snap decision or a single action either by yourself or someone else can change the entire course of your life as you know it.

Christmas came and went, Nicole and I saw in the new year searching for some surf in North Wales and my pals and I entered the year of 30th birthday’s.

To all those born in 1978…according to the Chinese, you are a ‘horse’! As far as I’m concerned this is no bad thing. Here is a snapshot…

“Being born in the year of the horse, it is in our nature to love the outdoors, to long for adventure – a horse would wander the world if it could. With an independent streak a horse is not always obedient.

We may say one thing yet do another. Feel one way then our heart opens in another direction. See one thing but don’t understand that blinkers hinder our vision. To plod along a well loved path then see an alleyway which tempts us”

This is an astonishingly accurate depiction of me!

Back living with the folks the job hunt started. To begin with the focus was on the UK.

I’ve fortunate to be very well travelled and everyone has to settle one day…right? WRONG!

The big 3-0 approached, I took myself off to Scotland for some snowy winter hill walking…for anyone looking for Scotland at it’s most awe inspiring harshest, try battling the elements halfway up Cairngorm in February!

As ever the Scottish wilderness did the trick!!

After some serious some serious soul searching on the situation I found myself in coming back in from Costa Rica brought me to one conclusion…

…it was now or never