Board Stiff…

Where to start? 
 
Forgive us friends for we have sinned – no ‘confessions’, posts, or updates since Christmas.
 
We’ve maintained radio-silence for a while because we left the car in Uganda and flew back to the UK for a few months. We didn’t think it wise to broadcast to anyone who saw the car in Entebbe that we were out of the country. No point tempting fate when you’re thousands of miles away and pretty much everything we need to continue our trip is locked in the back of ‘the donkey’.
 
However, normal service has now been resumed.
 
We’re back in Uganda and preparing to hit the road again. It’s great to be back but, as always, difficult to be away from family and friends.
 
The last few months have been hectic: an extended Christmas in Scotland helping Helene’s brother and sister-in-law move into their new ‘But ‘n Ben‘… 

 

 
… a frantic couple of months helping my brothers refurbish their house…  


… and, best of all, being around while our daughter Charlotte (Charlie) finalised plans for her wedding to Luke, on the beautiful, snowy slopes of Morzine in the French Alps…  


Charlie and Luke decided they wanted to get married on snowboards – a sport they’d taken up together and something they do every opportunity they get.  

 
The twist was that they wanted it to be semi-traditional: suits, bridesmaids dresses, a wedding gown specially made to be able to board in. That caused a bit of a stir, standing at fittings in the bridal shop in a snowboard and boots when everyone else turns up with the fancy shoes they’ve chosen to wear on their big day.  


As it turned out, the big day started out pretty informal… 

 

...Charlie looks beautiful whatever she is  wearing. Once she got on the slopes the dress also looked stunning.  


After many years away from the slopes, Helene took to her skis as if she had a slope in the back garden…  


Some of the rest of our party also looked pretty hard-core…  


…and some just looked sharp…  


I decided to try snowboarding as a surprise for Charlie & Luke.   

While the congregation waited up the mountain for us to arrive, Charlie, Cat (one of her bridesmaids) and I snowboarded across from another mountain.
 

They were both supremely elegant… 

  

… after only a few boarding lessons, I was less elegant…  


On the second run of the 4 we boarded to get to the waiting congregation and the Ceremony, I took a fall. Hearing a loud click I was pretty certain I’d badly sprained my ankle. Charlie came to my rescue.  

 

No way I was going to fail to get Charlie to the Ceremony though so, after a quick sharpener to dull the pain at the next mountain bar (and the one after that), we carried on.   

 

I couldn’t get in and out of my bindings at each chairlift, but Charlie and Cat strapped me in each time and pushed me off at the top of each slope.
 
A great day. A really moving speech by Kay, the Celebrant who took the service and some beautiful photographs by Damien, the photographer (who snowboarded backwards on the slopes in front of us all to get the best shots!).
 
Helene & I couldn’t have asked for a better way to palm Charlie off to (sorry, entrust Charlie to the care of) her new husband Luke. Even signing the register was a bit of a novelty.  

Unfortunately, with my sprained ankle, although I snowboarded the last 3 slopes to the Ceremony my boarding was over for the rest of the week. I managed to walk around town and sun myself in a few of the bars though (stick to what you do best, I say) but just couldn’t get the boot back on.
 

A week after we got home, the swelling was still pretty severe. I got talked into getting it properly checked out and (while Helene waited in the hospital car park because we didn’t have enough change for the parking fees) I was X-rayed, diagnosed with a double break of my Fibula in the ankle, put into plaster up to my knee and sent out the door in a plaster-cast & on crutches.  

 

The wedding week was great, but I ended up board stiff.
 
I seem to remember my (7-years-to-qualify-as-a-doctor) niece telling me while in Morzine that the best thing for a ‘sprain’ like this was “…elevation, a hot water bottle and Ibuprofen“. Thanks Leighanne.
 
Now our teary farewells are out of the way, bags have been crammed with miscellaneous charity goods, small car spares and Golden Virginia rolling tobacco (last time we saw anything like it was Nairobi and that was kept in a safe! – before that it was Botswana), and we’re back in Africa.
 
I’ve spent the last month in the UK eating all the things I know we won’t get in Eastern Africa. It’s hardly surprising therefore that my greeting from Frank (the friendly Congolese owner of Entebbe Backpackers) in his huge, headmaster’s, booming, tenor voice, bellowing across the campsite “You are as fat as a baby! Welcome back.
 
We’ve arrived in rainy season and although the equatorial sun is still fierce, it rains for at least a couple of hours daily. This is not just any old rain. This stuff could saturate steel.
 
Imagine our surprise (delight!) then when we found that contrary to expectations our leaky old donkey wasn’t full of water. Don’t ask me why not, it normally fills up if we drive past a puddle.
 
Apprehensively I connected up the batteries. I turned the ignition wondering how on earth I’d get it to a mechanic who could breathe life back into it and get us back on the road after leaving it for so long.
 

Like trying not to sneeze in a restaurant with a mouthful of food, the Landy gagged a couple of times, braced itself, then let out an almighty blast, spraying food all over the table – She started first time, but only after throwing out an initial plume of oil and water from the exhaust. Like a donkey that kicks, it was a good job no one was standing behind her.  

 

She seems to be running as sweet as a nut. How good is that!
 
Even better, the 4 foot square patch we put over the bag of the rooftent 6 months ago has worked like a charm. The Hannibal tent has alway been great but, after 5 years on the roof of the car (2 of them in blazing African sun) the cover recently started to let in water. All we could do was patch it. However, the tent is dry: no bugs, no cobwebs, no mould or damp. A great result.
 
We’ve spent a couple of days cleaning the car, getting her shipshape and reorganising / refitting everything we’d stashed in the back. Now we’re off to renew our 3rd-Party insurance (I doubt we’ll find COMESA insurance around here), stock up with supplies, then get her across to Fort Portal in Western Uganda where I think I’ll treat her to a full service.