Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will know that every now and then I disappear from your screens on a hairy-chested adventure. One of us gazes out of the window and thinks “This is no good at all! I want to wake at 5am, kick the embers of the campfire into life, drink a thoughtful coffee then go and stroll among enormous predators!”
So that is what we do for a while, until the safe green hills of the Cotswolds draw us home again. And now the time has come to head for Tanzania, where we will pick up a Land Rover and camp on its roof for a fortnight. When night time falls, and the Milky Way seems like an extra mosquito net just above head height, I find it comforting to be well above ground level. Things pad past, or rustle past, or snort past. Or on one memorable occasion they gallop past in a huge herd pursued by random lions, but up on the car’s roof we hold ourselves aloof.
The only moment when our carefully cultivated atmosphere of detached interest left us was when we camped by mistake on an elephant path and the whole lot came through at night. We were eyeball to eyeball with some enormous great matriarchs then, and they could have used the Land Rover as a football if they had felt like it, with us as amusingly squishy add-ons. But they didn’t, and after an hour they had all gone leaving their dustbin lid sized footprints, some impressive mounds of dung and me so chock full of adrenalin I thought I’d never sleep again. I did, of course, until the furtive noise of a hyena eating our soap from the washstand woke me again.
As soon as we stagger off the plane, we’ll be heading straight out into the wilderness and to say that we will be out of internet contact is putting it mildly (though I have spotted Masai cattle herders with mobile phones inserted cunningly into their ear lobes, such a practical notion).
Have a wonderful mid-section of January and I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to tell you about it and also (as a matter of interest) to start wrestling with my new novel. Unless of course something hairy and toothy with buzzard breath has other ideas.