It will be obvious that I mention names of some people met, sometimes with no relevance to the tale. However, already, several of these have now found themselves here on the Net, and contacted me, renewing friendships and reminding me of worthy incidents that have sieved out of my memory.
In May 1992, we briefly saw Paul Walker, last seen when I was working on the Crecy ammo dump. He was up here in Maun to try and land some jobs building cell-phone towers. A new addition to our own team was engineer Andy Dry, who soon became a firm friend. We both started looking for houses to rent.
A couple named Morgan finally bought my little bush farm in South Africa. With a lot of misgivings, Sheila agreed to sell her dairy herd in order to join me in Maun, Botswana.
Early in June, I flew south to help sort junk from treasure and prepare for our move, at last selling my 3-ton Toyota Dyna for R9000-00, then spending R4000-00 of it on a set of lounge furniture made from old railway sleepers. At the end of June I went back again to help pack. We met the new farm owners, but there was a problem with access that caused a bitter taste when both my parents and our neighbour friends refused them right of way.
Ngamiland, indeed most of Botswana, was 4×4 country, so Sheila sold her Nissan LDV to her brother, Tom Mailing, and bought a second-hand 1971 Series II Land Rover from our neighbour’s son, Paul Mathews. He had been using it in on the Vaal River diamond fields. It had a Nissan straight six motor in it. On my next weekend visit home, I drove it to Warmbaths from Johannesburg. It was, however, in poor shape, needing a serious visit to a mechanic we used in Warmbaths.
Sharing a removal van from the company Massyn Moves with Andy Dry, our possessions left for Maun on 8th July 1992. When it arrived in Maun at our newly rented home, owned by Christine Riggs, near the Old Bridge, the previous tenant had not yet moved out! We moved her stuff into the garden.
Two weeks later there was another mass camping expedition of Basil Read ConstructionPersonnel involving five boatloads of us going up the Boro River to an island near Nxaraga Lagoon. Our first family visitor, Sheila’s son Tim Simkin, and his girlfriend Haley, went along. As long as we kept away from the head-office party, one of whom was loud and obnoxious, we had fun; fishing and going for walks on other islands. I did see a honey-badger for the only time in my life. We saw reed buck, letshwe, some elephants and baboons, but reed beds often inhibited game viewing from the boats. Rob Stone, Gavin Allwright, their girlfriends and my family went on a boat trip to Oddballs Camp.
We put Tim and Haley on the flight south when we got back to Maun. Tom Maling collected them from Lanseria and put them on the bus back to East London which by was now Tim’s and Nicholas’ home with their father, Philip Simkin.
Sheila and blouie, Ian Cribbins flew South and returned early August by fetching Sheila’s Landy from the garage where it was being repaired. Two years later, sitting day-dreaming as passenger, I was staring at two holes in the metal dashboard of this Landy that seemed to serve no purpose, when it hit me with a jolt. I had drilled the holes twenty-one years before to add a bracket which held my work pens as an agricultural surveyor in Mozambique! This was the Landy that had given me so much engine trouble, it was no wonder that a previous owner had replaced the 6-cylinder Rover engine with the Nissan motor.