I flew back to the UK on Friday although this wasn't actually a spur of the moment decision, I booked the flight 6 weeks ago in Ouagadougou. Partly, I booked the flight to fulfil the onward ticket requirement of Ghana to obtain the visa although they never actually checked that I had a flight booked. At the point I made the decision to book a flight home I'd realised that making it all the way to South Africa was lookng less and less likely, a number of obsticals were popping up on my intended route.
I wanted to go to Niger and was really looking forward to going to the Air Mountains however, when I was researching this in Ouaga I found out that not only were the Air mountains now a complete no-go zone due to heavy Rebel activity but that land mines had been planted in and around Niamey the Capital, so I took it off my agenda. However, Niamey was the place that I had intended to get my Nigerian Visa, most Nigerian Embassies in the other countries of the region either don't issue visas to people with a Nigerian Embassy in their home country or only offer an expensive 2 day transit visa. To compound that, at the time I was researching the FCO were recommending no travel through Eastern Nigeria because of an increased risk of kidnapping and recommended all UK citizens to leave Port Harcourt, a city I would have to travel through. There were riots going on in Cameroon, war in Chad etc etc. I wasn't particularly enjoying West Africa and all this potential hassle in Central Africa was a step too far, I decided enough was enough to to abandon the trip.
I did meet a few people who were flying from Ghana to Ethiopia and then travelling on from there which was a possibility but that would have nullified my aim of getting to South Africa overland. I bumped into Kerry in Accra a couple of weeks ago and he has managed to find a group of people in various vehicles travelling overland, they had just managed to obtain the last of the required visas to get through to Angola so maybe it is still possible, I wish him luck and will be followng his progress with interest.
I have a few potential plans now but have made no firm decisions, watch this space.
OK, decisions made, visa obtained and flights booked. I've had a very pleasant 3 weeks in the UK although I haven't made it around half as much of it as I intended. Many thanks to Kev and Ali and Lisette and Joe for the hospitality not to forget Peter and Kate and Ollie and Pam for lunches. I could quite get used to this life of freeloading around.
England is still as beautiful as ever, something I appreciated even as my plane floated down over Kent and through the clouds to Heathrow. Four days of persistant rain in Plymouth led me to abandon my plans for a summer of camping and a very close encounter with potential employment speeded up my need to get back out of the country. After a long weekend in Surrey I took my little car for a jaunt through the countryside via the scenic route to Devon. After months and thousands of kilometers of dusty, potholed roads (more like roaded potholes) in West Africa it was a renewed revelation to pass more tourist attractions in three and a half hours than I had in that whole trip - The South Downs (I think), Stonehenge, Wookey hole, Longleat and then the moors into Plymouth.
Good timing got me there for a party weekend. I tok a drive out to Dartmoor with Joe on the Monday but I downloaded all of my pictures of there and the weekend onto my PC and then formatted the cards so I have non to put up here. I drove back up to Surrey on the Wednesday and got an Indian visa in a very brisk 53 minutes on Thursday. I decided to splash out a bit on the direct BA flight to Delhi but the price was stil good. After a trip over to Chelmsford to have lunch with Ollie and Pam on the Friday I had a last weekend with the Clayfield-Farmers including a nice walk through the local mud.