Freebird, reluctantly

As we left Edinburgh on Monday with Lee I was trying out an old playlist on the ipad in the car, just as the sun caught Arthur’s Seat, the stereo started to play “Freebird” which seemed a little appropriate as I set out on my latest Celtic Safari to Africa.

Truth is, this has been the hardest trip to get ready for mentally.  These trips are long, simply because it takes a long time to cover the distances if you want to see a good bit of each country as you pass through.  That means a long time away from home, family, friends and hobbies, especially a long time away from Lee as her job, supporting her mother, and our pets all mean she cannot join this trip apart from the first week.

Since lockdown, I have been at home all the time so it’s a big change to be away on a long trip again.  Originally I had intended to do the big three trips I had planned (Silk Road, South America and Africa) in turn with a bit of consulting in between as a kind of active pre-retirement. Fulfilling a boyhood ambition to see the world in an old Land Rover while Lee was still working, partly motivated by my reasonably close brush with death wake-up call bringing into focus the Land Rover motto of “One life, live it”

When lockdown intervened I redirected my efforts to studying at university, new hobbies like sea kayaking, helping Lee with her Mum’s move to Edinburgh and restoring our old cottage in the woods.  As a result, I have settled into a nice active retirement pattern and was enjoying myself in a low-stress easy-going way.  With the cottage finished, and Holly producing Harris our first grandchild, life was filling up in a contented way quite well.

However, I know in the back of my mind Africa is calling…..the cradle of mankind and the spiritual home of Overland travel…I know that I will not be properly content until I have made a good attempt at the final of my three big trips, and I am not getting younger.  I was reminded when I applied for my health insurance that they stop issuing it at 65 at least for World Nomads, Harris will only become more animated as he gets older, and Lee is likely to fully retire in a year or so, hence now is the time to make the attempt before I get too comfortable in my slippers and country cottage with our grandchild!  Plenty to look forward to along with shorter trips in future.

So now I need to get “my expedition head on” which means increasing a level of focus, planning, open-mindedness and flexibility to cope with life on the road and all the adventures and challenges that it inevitably throws our way.

So the Landy is Packed, with a full expedition loading you notice the weight, even with stripping out a lot from the previous trips, this is the garage during packing, the packing list is 6 pages long and it takes a few days to put everything in its proper place.

Finally, on Monday 21st August the Landy is packed and, with Lee as codriver for the first week, we set off from Edinburgh to the tunes of Lynard Skinnard, I have to get the boat to Spain on Friday and, at this point, my passport is still in the Nigerian High Commission and both Nigerian and Cameroon visas have not been obtained, we are cutting it fine.

As we head down the road I am still uploading the navigation systems, satellite coms, African maps and tracking software while I still have reasonable internet access remembering how much harder this will be when I am on the road in Africa, the dashboard of the Landy now bristles again with technology including a new dash cam as a protection against made up speeding tickets and other scams.

So for the next three months, this is my workplace, my home and my trusty carriage which will hopefully take me through the deserts of Morroco to the jungles of Cameroon and the Congo to my target of Namibia in time for a Christmas break before part 2 of the Celtic Safari

As the song said “For I must be travelling on now, Cos there’s too many places I got to see”


About Gerry Mulligan

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