South Africa Tour 2009/10

Captain Krugers Hillcrest Shopping Centre Holidays?

Drove down to Simons place on 29th November and after a quiet and uneventful night in his local - uneventful , that is , apart from my car being written off by a drunken lunatic - we were ferried to Heathrow by Tremers's friend Neil who is a bookmaker.

If you find this confusing Tremers is now officially Simons Addis moniker, and he was travelling light for this tour carrying hand luggage only. We will be in Africa for 7 weeks. " I bet you will smell like a camel after a week" said Neil. Dont bet with this man.

Our fifty-pound Etihad flight was largely excellent although the in flight entertainment left a lot to be desired.

All old stuff - " Star Trek ". Seen it. " The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 ". Seen it. "Terminator". Seen it. This must be what its like when you get older.

The flight from London to Abu Dhabi was comfortable as the plane wasnt full and the in flight brochure was running a competition for which the prize was two tickets to watch the " rapidly improving" Manchester City at Eastlands. No such thing as a free lunch eh you blues? Judging by the crowd for the game vs Arsenal Im surprised Etihad werent putting two thousand tickets on offer.

Wonder if Jimmy Bullard uses Etihad?

Our flight from the Middle East to Johannesburg was notable for again , old movies - I settled down to watch Fellowship of the Ring again - and the presence three rows in front of us of an elderly couple who I shall refer to as Mr & Mrs Cave-Troll.

Dressed in shell , parkas and scarves and with a combined weight of three tons they insisted upon getting up to go to the toliet at the rear of the plane at 15 minute intervals. When they passed the smell was akin to the stewardess serving rat fondue in Gorgonzola sauce. The rather camp steward assigned to our isle took a shine to Tremers -so much so that he omitted to bring us drinks at every opportunity.

We arrived at Joburg at 4.40 am and after just beating Mr & Mrs Cave-Troll and their wheelchairs through customs realised that there was an earlier flight to Durban leaving in an hour , if we could swap our tickets purchased for the later one at 9 am.

Tremers thus proceeded to the Mango Airlines helpdesk and engaged the helpful clerk.

" Cant you see Im busy doing something" was the less than helpful reply from the man from Lamango as he scuttled to the back of the office to hide.

With two minutes to go before the flight departure we were allocated boarding passes and rushed , complete with our unchecked luggage , through the queue without any passport or identity check onto the plane , which was full apart from our empty seats.

The gentleman to my left had Mondays newspaper. Wow . England have stuffed SA in Port Elizabeth and Jimmy has taken 5-23!

As we settled in for the 45 minute flight the intercom crackled into action and the voice of our Captain ( Kruger ) came through the cabin.

" Good morning passengers. The weather in Durban is - well - its raining. For those of you about to start a summer holiday - well , it wont be this week. For those of you hoping to watch the cricket this week - its not happening".

Its now Thursday and so far , Captain Kruger has been bob-on.

On arrival at Durban we picked up a Nissan hire car ( what is it with us and Nissan's? ) from Thrifty car Hire. This came complete with a Thrifty complimentary map which was very useful on our drive to Kloof , where we are staying with Tremers mate Bunners and his parents Dave and Penny. " The blue line is a motorway. The yellow line is a road but not a motorway. None of these lines has numbers as this would confuse the reader."

After a freshen up Dave ( a Liverpool Afrikaner! ) and Bunners took us to their local pub which to my utter delight was called

The Green Man with the requisite pagan sign hanging over the door. Regular readers of my blog will understand the significance here , others please forgive , but as we walked through the door there were no harvest festival photographs on the wall and the landlords daughter was not behind the bar.

Just as I was giving up hope of being ritually slaughtered in circumstances I could barely bring myself to imagine, the drinks arrived. Two large pints of Hansa lager. One smaller pint of Hansa lager. One bottle of premium South African cider. Total cost - 56 rand , or just less than a fiver. Looks like we may be getting ritually slaughtered after all!

Hot peanuts , and shooters called " Sowetan Toilets !!" were provided for free. At these prices, drinking in pubs could catch on again.

On returning to the house Penny had cooked us a wonderful meal and I retired to bed knackered and a wee bit tipsy - I cant say Im very surprised.

Since then the rain has continued non-stop and we have contented ourselves mainly with trips to Hillcrest shopping centre to eat , go to the chemists and in Tremers case buy expensive phones that are supplied with the wrong instruction , dont work , and have to be taken back.

Yesterday we went down to Kingsmead as Bunners was bowling at the South African batsmen in the indoor nets and we sneaked in as "family". I managed a little chat with Graeme Smith who was exceedingly polite and obliging and Micky Arthur was also very chatty if something of a camera-hog. Joking apart ( for once ) Herschelle Gibbs was whacking the ball ominously so maybe its as well that tomorrows game is very unlikely to happen so we can win the series 2-1.

While we are at the ground the sun came out for an hour and we were interviewed by Adam Leventhal from Sky Sports News , who apparently remembered us from the ODI in Adelaide where we got battered.

His topic - safety issues for football fans in South Africa. Being caught on the hop we gave politically correct answers and never mentioned body bags once. This classic is due to be broadcast later in the week.

In the afternoon we drove up to Umhlanga Ridge , where myself, Herbie and Wycombe are staying at Xmas to inspect the accomodations on offer. The Sandringham , which I had booked on the internet - just off Windsor Avenue the classiest road in South Africa. Looks like Chatsworth House. The other one - which Wycombe has booked - a hovel which would disgrace the slums of Mumbai.

The evening was rounded off by more ritual slaughter in Frankies in Hillcrest. This time with Bunners and Tremers mates, mainly cricketers , and some very lovely blonde ladies who , after six pints , looked like the daughters of Britt Ekland , Ingrid Pitt and Diane Cilento. Thank goodness I had already anointed my nipples.

Thats all for now folks except to say I would like to dedicate this particular blog to the late, great , ( Sir ) Edward Woodward.

Love to all


Click here for other tour diaries