Days 347 And 348

Today I was wide awake by 0500 but stayed in bed until about 0700. I finished packing and then went across for breakfast. I had croissant with scrambled eggs and bacon and orange juice. I used the internet for a while and then about 0930 I decided to head for the airport. My flight wasn’t until 1335 but I wasn’t going to do anything productive in the hotel so I decided to go and wait in the airport instead. My visa expires tomorrow, the same day I fly out and I didn’t want to chance missing flights or anything.

I filled the car up with fuel on the way and then headed to the Avis part of the airport to return the car. This was really well organised and stress free. From there I went into the airport and had a mango smoothie. I checked in my bags (something I found very amusing was that unlike in the UK where you’re not allowed to take trolleys on the escalators, here they have instructions tellling you how to do it – I love Africa), went through security and waited for my flight to board. I somehow ended up being priority boarding which was quite fun. The flight was very uneventful, I just read some of my book.

We landed in Johannesburg and then began the ten hour wait until the next flight. I had already booked my flights from Johannesburg home before deciding to go to Cape Town on holiday! I went for a very slow walk around the airport, looking at all the restaurants even though I knew I was going to eat at Spur. I got my bags wrapped in clingfilm, there was a huge queue so that took up some time. I then wandered around to Spur and had a Bar One milkshake, chicken schnitzel with cheese sauce and sweet potato fries. Both were really yummy.

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I sat there for quite a while, I had a Windhoek and did some university work. I finally left there, went for another slow walk around and then went and sat in Byte for a while. I had a passion fruit crush smoothie and then a Black Label. I sat reading for a while and then went to see if there was a check in desk up yet. There was, so I checked in my bags, went through security and sat down by the gate. I read for a while and tried not to fall asleep. We boarded and then set off pretty much on time.

I tried to sleep but I was in a middle seat and just couldn’t get comfortable. I think I snoozed for a while but not too long.

We landed in Nairobi and I had a cinnamon bun for breakfast and bought some water too. I paid about a €5 bill with a €50 note (it was all I had and their card machine wasn’t working), but told the lady I didn’t want my change in Kenyan shillings. She gave me my change in a mix of Euros and Dollars. I went through security and even had my bag hand searched, found my gate and then relaxed for about an hour. We boarded the plane (the staff were insistent on boarding certain rows at a time, I was near the back of the plane, so one of the first to board, so I was able to pass all the people who had been queuing for ages! We boarded and took off pretty much on time.

We had breakfast, eggs, spinach and hash brown, a bread roll and vanilla yoghurt and water. I then watched ‘Dunkirk’ which was really good. I napped for a bit and then watched ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ which is still as good as it’s always been of course. For some reason for the whole flight you could see the ground, flying over the desert was so cool, it literally went on for hours!

I napped again and then watched ‘Elf’ just in case I needed help getting into the Christmas spirit. I read for a while and then it was time for lunch. There was a choice of beef or chicken noodle, but by the time it got to me it was just beef! I ate the noodle part. There was also a bread roll and a piece of cake. I had some more orange juice too. I napped for a bit longer and then it was time to land. I went through security, as always my passport didn’t work on the electronic gates, I found my bags and then went to meet my parents. Well, some crazy people anyway!

We drove home and I unpacked my bags, and considerably added to the washing pile!

We had macaroni cheese with salad for dinner, followed by baked Alaska, it was so yummy! I opened some birthday cards and presents and opened all of our Christmas cards. I then went to bed, shattered but happy to be home.

I honestly can’t believe almost a whole year has gone by, it seems like it started yesterday but at the same time it seems like such a long time ago that I landed in Johannesburg. So much has happened in one year. I had the most incredible six months at Bushwise. I learnt such a huge amount, about the bush, it’s animals, birds, plants, tracking, so many topics. I have learnt so much about photography, not formally, but just through taking photos nearly every day, I can really see how much my photos now have improved since the beginning of the year. I have learnt so much about myself, I’ve done things I never thought I could do and surprised myself in so many ways. I’ve made so many new friends, some that I think I will stay in contact with forever, which is lovely and met so many interesting people, be it people on the course, guests that stayed at Thula Thula or just random people that you talk to being a solo traveller.

I had the most fantastic time at Thula Thula, such an incredible place. The elephants are just stunning and I will never forget them or the people I worked with.
I have seen so much of this beautiful country but know that there is still so much that I haven’t seen. The Panorama Route was just incredible and Kruger didn’t disappoint. I had the best time in Kosi Bay and Sodwana and did some incredible diving. The Garden Route has some of the most incredible scenery I’ve ever seen in my life and Cape Town was just awesome. Everyone said I’d love it and they were right. I was lucky enough to go to both Swaziland and Lesotho, both of which are rural, stunning places.
I have experienced all types of weather, heavy rain and storms, playing in African snow in Lesotho, scorching heat and now seeing the reality that is drought in Cape Town.

There’s so many things I will miss, the people, the food, the African time, African driving, the animals, the sporadic power cuts that no one bats an eyelid at, so many things.

Even though I have decided that this isn’t the career for me, I have zero regrets about this year. Yes it cost quite a lot of money but I’ve had such an incredible time and I’m glad to have this experience and not get to be an old lady and wonder what if.

Day 346

Today I had such a lazy, chilled day. I woke up early as usual but didn’t get up until about 0730. I went across for breakfast and had orange juice and a croissant with scrambled eggs and bacon, which was yummy. I went back to my room and started to pack. At about 1200 I went to Montebello Design Centre (at the recommendation of the hotel lady). It is such a cute little place, lots of craft shops and a bit of a garden centre area too. I only bought one tiny little thing – it’s so cute.

I had planned to spend today on the beach, but it was overcast, raining and chilly – so that put paid to that plan. I went for a drive around the beach front area anyway, just because the whole area is so beautiful. I drove back to the hotel and spent a couple of hours packing and doing university work.

At about 1600 I decided to have a second attempt at finding Buena Vista. I had checked the address on the website and both Google and their website said they were open so off I went. It was in an area with lots of restaurants, so I parked and then went looking for it. I walked around for a while but didn’t find it. I saw a sign pointing to it, but not actually the restaurant. I decided to go into Bossa Social Cafe And Bar and ask them. The guy told me that it is no longer and Bossa is where it used to be! I decided to stay there for dinner. Trust Dad to choose a restaurant that no longer exists!

For dinner I had a chocolate milkshake, and chicken grillado – lemon and herb grilled chicken, served with roasted butternut, baked feta and wild rocket salad. It was super yummy. For dessert I had chocolate brownie, with no ice cream, because in true African style, ‘the ice cream wasn’t frozen yet’. It was very delicious anyway. I headed back to the hotel, finished as much packing as I could and then read for a while before going to bed.

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Day 345

Today was a great day, I got up about 0530, had a pain au chocolat for breakfast and shortly after 0600 drove and parked near Signal Hill. I then walked up Lion’s Head. It is supposed to take one hour, I took about fifty minutes, and some of this time was waiting in ‘people traffic jams’. This was a much more fun hike than Table Mountain, there were some climby bits and ladders to use and chains and things like that to use. It was really good fun and a good workout. I got to the top and spent quite a long time just sitting and admiring the view.

I then made my way back down (in much less time) and headed back to the hotel. I relaxed for a while and then made my way back to Llandudno beach.  I spent several hours there, sunbathing and reading. It was quite breezy but nice and sunny too. I left there and drove back to the hotel for a little while.

I was going to go to Buena Vista for dinner tonight (Dads choice), I made my way there, found a place nearby, parked the car and headed back to the restaurant. I found the building. It is to let. Apparently the restaurant closed a while ago, useful of them to have this on their website! There is another branch, but it’s a bit out of town so I decided to leave it for tomorrow night. I headed back to the hotel and then went to Zapata which is just across the road. I wanted to have a spicy chicken enchilada, but they had run out of chicken! Instead I had a Mexican bean and vegetable enchilada and a cocktail with tequila, pineapple and mango juice, amongst other things. Both were delicious and the enchilada was super spicy. I had churros with chocolate sauce and ice cream for dessert. They were so yummy.

I walked back across the road to the hotel and spent the evening doing university work and reading.

Day 344

Today, after all my early mornings, I decided to have a lie in, so of course I was wide awake early and got up at 0630! I had a very chilled morning, I went across to the deli and had a croissant with scrambled eggs and bacon and orange for breakfast and then went back across to the hotel.

My first stop for the day was Greenmarket Square, a big market in a historic square, one of the oldest in Cape Town I think and it used to be used as a slave market. I parked a few minutes walk away and wandered along. It seemed to be market day everywhere today, so many stalls to look at! I arrived to the square and spent a while browsing around there. There were so many pretty things, I really wanted to buy a painting of a baobab at sunset, but it was well over a metre in size, so I decided it would be best not to! I only bought a pair of flip-flops with a pretty beaded pattern on them. I felt very restrained only buying one thing!

When I had finished browsing I went to Café Santé and had a mango juice. It was lovely sitting watching the world go by. The only downside was the amount of beggars that kept coming up to you, I do feel sorry for them but you can’t help everyone and I do wish they would just leave you alone!

I headed back to the car and drove to my next stop of the day, The Old Biscuit Mill. Before going inside I sat and ate my chocolate cupcake from yesterday which was delicious. A little area full of all sorts of shops and a few food shops too. I had a wander around there and bought a couple of bits. It was a lot smaller than I was expecting and I didn’t spend much time there really.

I left there and decided to head to Llandudno Beach – because when in South Africa, go to a Welsh town of course. (This morning I also saw a row of houses, where each one had the name of a place local to home. There was Cosham, Chichester, Botley, Calshot, Brockenhurst, so many)! It’s such a pretty little beach and today was such a lovely day, if not a bit windy, I spent a couple of hours lying in the sun. I also enjoyed the free entertainment, a family determined to sit under their umbrellas, no matter how many times they blew away, blew over or blew inside out. It was great fun watching them!

I left the beach and headed to ‘Royale Eatery’ for dinner (it had been recommended to me by the hotel lady). It didn’t disappoint. I had a chocolate brownie milkshake and a pizza with feta, garlic, caramelised onions, herbs and rocket – both were delicious.

I headed back to the hotel and finally took pictures of the little parking area. There is plenty of space for two cars, it’s just getting them in that is the issue. The photos don’t show how narrow the road outside is or just how tricky it is to actually park! I’ve got the hang of it now though, even when there is a big bakkie in first!

I had a nice chilled evening, sorting photos and reading and then had a nice early night.

Day 343

Today was such a cool day. I got up about 0630 and had a couple of rusks for breakfast. I had booked to go paragliding today, the company phoned me last night and asked to change from 0800 to 0900 due to the wind. I said there was no problem with that. They also asked me to phone them one hour beforehand to check and see how the wind was. I phoned them but they didn’t answer so I sent a text and made my way to Signal Hill anyway. There was hardly anybody there when I arrived which was nice as it was heaving the last time I went. There was nobody that looked like they were going paragliding anytime soon though. I phoned again but got no answer.

Just after 0900 a guy in a paragliding t-shirt got out of a car, I asked if he was the man I was waiting for but he wasn’t. We chatted for quite a while though while he was deciding if today was ‘flyable’ or not. At about 0930 I still hadn’t had any contact from the company I had booked through and this guy (Kai from Skywings) said that it was flyable and that if I wanted he had time for me to fly before his first client. I didn’t hesitate. I filled in a couple of forms and then off we went. Signal Hill is only 350m high so it was quite a short flight but it was awesome. Kai took the GoPro and we took so many photos and videos. The views were so fantastic. Towards the end Kai asked if I like rollercoasters, which of course I do, so we spiralled down which was such fun! We landed safely and another man came to help us unattached everything and fold up the parachute part. We then took an Uber back to the top of the hill. I said a huge thank you to Kai and then left him to go paragliding again (sometimes he can fly ten times in a day)! I had spent quite a lot of time deciding if I could/should justify spending so much money on doing this, and I’m so glad I did! It was worth every penny and Kai was great and I can highly recommend Skywings Paragliding and I was the first paraglider of the day which is pretty cool too!

 

I decided to go to Company Gardens for a little wander around – I am so glad I did. There have been a couple of days this week that I almost went but didn’t for one reason or other. Today they had a little market on and I found a lovely little jewellery stall. I found a beautiful ring, there wasn’t one that was my size so the lady made it bigger for me. I love it so much! I also bought a couple of other bits for presents for people. The lady was so lovely and seemed so genuine. I bought two things then went away and then came back having decided I may as well buy all of my jewellery presents from her. She was so pleased and so grateful. She has two young children and I told her to buy them a nice present with the money that I had spent. I am so pleased with my ring – I love it!

 

I wandered around the rest of the stalls but didn’t buy much else. I did have a crêpe cinnamon sugar and lemon which was lovely. I headed back to the car and then decided to go to the waterfront. I knew that it was Sunday and I knew that the rugby was on and I knew that it would be heaving but I still decided to go. It took quite a long time to get there and then quite a long time to find a parking space – but I managed it. I went for a bit of a wander around the malls, not really buying anything and then decided to go to the food market. I had a mango passion flavoured smoothie and then bought a chocolate cupcake and some sort of yummy looking iced shortbread from the bakery stall. I also bought a little block of cookies and cream fudge.

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I took a slow wander up to the restaurants and on the way managed to see a lot of the Volvo Ocean Race boats going out which was quite cool.

 

Tonight I went to Gibson’s for dinner, they are famous for their milkshakes and burgers – so I had a milkshake and a burger. It is a very worthy reputation. They have over 120 milkshakes – I took such a long time deciding which one I wanted. It’s definitely one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make this year! I eventually decided on choc chip cookie dough flavour – it was delicious and so big! It was almost a meal in itself. I then had the task of deciding which burger to have. In the end I went for the cheese connoisseur burger with half a portion of normal fries and half a portion of sweet potato fries. It was so delicious! I could only just finish it all!

 

I took a slow wander back to the car and drove back to the hotel. I spent the evening sorting out all the photos from today. I had the yummy looking iced shortbread thing for dessert which was indeed very yummy. I read for a while and then went to bed.

Day 342

Today I got up about 0630, had a custard croissant for breakfast and then about 0730 set off for the day. In contrast to yesterday, this morning started off quite overcast and very windy! My first stop for the day was Fish Hoek, as it was so windy I didn’t even really stop, I just admired the beach as I drove past. My second stop for the day was Simon’s Town, I stopped briefly here, just long enough to get out of the car, take one photo, be sand blasted and hurry back to the car. I’m sure the beach would be stunning if I could open my eyes long enough to see it properly.

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My third stop for the day was Boulder Beach, famous for the penguins. There were quite a few different board walks to go along, and sure enough, there were penguins everywhere! There were just a crazy amount of them, all sheltering from the wind. Most were on the beach, but there were a few in the water too. They are such cute little things, I spent ages watching them!

 

There were also lots of little dassies running around the board walks, they are so cute and just look like they need to be cuddled! I resisted the temptation to put one in my handbag, but did spend far too much time watching them too!

 

I headed back to the car, via the little souvenir shop. I also watched the waves crashing against this rock formation and the lighthouse nearby it for a while.

 

I then headed to The Cape Of Good Hope, the most south-western point of Africa. Quite a lot of the drive was through a National Park, the scenery was just stunning. I didn’t spend too long here, as you can see from my hair, it was still pretty windy!

 

I then headed to Cape Point which is the point of the first blending of species from the cool Benguela current and the warm Agulhas current. I took the Funicular (a little cable car type thing) up to the top of the hill and looked around at the scenery. The lighthouse was pretty cool too. The scenery was just stunning, you can really see why it was so perilous! There is actually two lighthouses, they had to build one lower down because the top one was too often hidden in the clouds! It was magnificent.

 

My next stop was Buffles Bay, another stunning beach, but today a very windy place to be. I went for a very short walk and then returned to the shelter of the car!

 

I also stopped briefly at ‘Dias Cross’ which was quite cool.

 

I left the National Park and made my way to Chapman’s Peak Drive, renowned for being a beautiful scenic route. The description isn’t wrong! It was so beautiful. One part of the road reminded me a bit of a James Bond car chase scene, I don’t know which one but they’re driving on a mountain pass and the rock looks like it is being held up by the pillars. I jut managed to grab my camera and take a couple of pictures as I was driving through. I stopped in a couple of other places as well, and at Chapman’s Peak too. It was so stunning.

 

I stopped at the end of the scenic route for a late lunch. I went to ‘Delish’ and it certainly was delicious! I had a honey nutella milkshake and stuffed chicken filled with spinach, pesto and cream cheese with caramelised butternut squash and peas. It was yummy, and there was even a little Christmas tree on the table for good measure.

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I drove to Into The Blue and collected my diving gear and then drove back to the hotel. I arrived about 1630 and had a really chilled evening, sorting my photos, sorting out what I still need to buy and doing university work. I read for a while and then went to sleep.

Day 341

Today was fantastic, it began early, about 0530 and then just after 0600 I headed to the bottom of Table Mountain. I parked near the entrance to the Platteklip Gorge route. I decided on this one as it is the easiest and therefore the most popular, so being on my own it seemed the safest. It was almost like Picadilly Circus there were so many people (maybe a slight exaggeration – but I certainly wasn’t the only one)!

I started walking about 0700, the first hour was lovely, it wasn’t too hot and I quite enjoyed it. I had picked the perfect day, the weather was beautiful, not many clouds and not even the slightest breeze. Then the sun got up high enough to hit the mountain! I have never sweat so much in my life. I would walk through the sunny patches and then recover in the shade, everyone else was doing the same. It was so hot! I made it to the top just before 0900. I spent quite a long time just wandering around, taking pictures and admiring the view. The view was incredible, out of this world! You could see for so far.

I had a look around the gift shop and bought a couple of presents and souvenirs and then went to the cafe for a snack and a drink. I had a lovely piece of chocolate cake, a penguin biscuit and Fanta. It was so lovely and well needed.

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I decided to join a free tour of the mountain top, it lasted about half an hour and was really interesting. I took more photos of course. We also saw a little dassie, they are just so cute.

At the end of the tour I made my way to the cable car. The trip down was quite short but really cool, it rotates so you get to see all of the view, not just one direction.

We got to the bottom and I walked back to my car, on the way I heard the noon day cannon go off by Signal Hill which was cool. I then headed back to the hotel to try and cool down and sort my photos. I really enjoyed the hike but if I did it again I would set off earlier, probably about 0530, to get up the top before the heat of the sun really hits! Then the whole thing would have been enjoyable rather than just most of it and I wouldn’t have been shade hopping towards the end!

I relaxed for a while and then headed to ‘Barristers’ for dinner. I had chicken stir fry with noodles and lots of vegetables followed by pecan nut fudge pie – both were super yummy. I also had a Fanta.

I returned to the hotel and read for a while and then went to bed.

 

Day 340

Today was another awesome day, it began early, about 0530. I got ready to go, had a couple of rusks for breakfast and then headed towards the dive shop. I arrived and made sure my kit was all sorted and waited for everyone else. At about 0745 off we went. We headed to the same marina as the other day and got all kitted up and ready to go. We made our way to the boat and off we went. It was a beautiful day, the sea looked so calm and glass like. On the way to the dive we saw a sunfish and some penguins.

 

My buddy today was a Swiss guy called Svetlan (he also dived on Tuesday). The first dive site of the day was ‘Antipolis’, a wreck. It was being towed by a tug called ‘Kiyo Maru 2’ in 1977 and the tow cable snagged on the sea bed breaking the cable. The Antipolis was blown towards shore by strong winds and rough seas where it ran aground. We kitted up and then got into the water. We descended on the anchor one at a time and then waited around for everyone to be there. It was such a cool dive, the visibility wasn’t amazing but we saw lots of fish, some starfish and some little lobsters. It was so awesome to be diving on a wreck too, this one isn’t too well preserved, but it was just so cool. We ended the dive and got back safely onto the boat.

 

We headed back to shore (seeing another sunfish and more penguins on the way) and had a little while to relax, I had a pain au chocolat and chatted to the other divers. We headed back to the boat and headed off to the second dive site. We went back to Strawberry Dock which is the same site as the second one the other day. I got my buddy to take a photo of me before we got in the water this time (it’s almost as bad as being in a dry suit) and I took a picture of everyone getting kitted up.

 

This dive was awesome too, there weren’t as many seals as the other day, we saw them all at the surface, sunning themselves and just chilling. It was still cool though, just being in the water is so nice.

 

We got back onto the boat and headed back to shore, of course as soon as we started heading back a lot of the seals started heading towards the water – so contrary. On the way we saw another two sunfish, one of them was so chilled and we spent quite a while watching. They are so bizarre, I love them so much! I even managed to get a couple of (pretty bad) pictures!

 

We headed back to shore, sorted out all our kit and then went back to the shop. We filled in our logbooks. I managed to resist the temptation to book another day diving with them (I really must go up Table Mountain) and didn’t buy anything either!

A few of us headed to the gelateria next door. I had two scoops, bubblegum flavour and Astros flavour – both were really good. I said goodbye to the other divers and made my way back to the hotel. I used the internet for a while and then headed to ‘Michael’s Kitchen And Bar’ for dinner (Mum chose this one). I had a mango smoothie and chicken goujons with sweet potato fries and a salad. It was delicious and I only just managed it all.  For dessert I just had a chocolate truffle (it was quite big for a truffle) but just the perfect size.DSCF3044

I went back to the hotel, sorted my photos, did some university work and then had a nice early night ready for tomorrow.

 

 

Day 339

Today I got up about 0630 and had the almond croissant that I got from yesterday for breakfast. I got ready to go out and then at about 0800 off I went. I went back to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, this time armed with my map. I parked in the same car park as last time and parked very near to where I parked last time.

My first stop of the day was ‘The Springbok Experience Museum’ – all about rugby funnily enough. The first section of the museum was some fun interactive activities and then you went upstairs to learn about the history of the Springboks. It was fascinating, I learnt some new facts about rugby and so much about the team too. Naively I had no idea how many issues surrounding Apartheid and rugby there were.

 

 

My next stop was ‘Africa Trading Port’ (lots of little craft shops), I had a wander and bought a couple of bits. I then headed to ‘Nelson Mandela Gateway’ and at 1100 boarded a boat and headed to Robben Island. The boat ride lasted about half an hour and provided stunning scenery of course, we even saw a couple of seals and penguins to make the journey even better.

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We arrived at Robben Island and the first stage of the tour was a bus tour. We were driven around in a coach with a tour guide and she gave us lots of information about the different places we saw, like the limestone quarry, the school, the church, etc. We had a little break with a stunning view of Table Mountain. I bought granadilla juice, a chocolate chip cookie and a chocolate bar for lunch and then we carried on with the bus tour. After the bus tour was the walking tour. We were taken into the Maximum Security Prison and were spoken to for quite a while by a guide. He is actually an ex-political prisoner of Robben Island. It was fascinating to listen to him, he wasn’t just reciting facts about the prison he was actually telling us his story. It was incredible to listen to him, after he had told us his story he showed as around a bit more and then we also saw Nelson Mandela’s solitary confinement cell. There was then time for a quick look around the gift shop and then it was back on the boat for the half an hour ride back.

 

 

We arrived back to the dock and I headed back to the car to change back into flip-flops. I then went for a wander around the Food Market (there was so much to choose from, I was overwhelmed and didn’t buy anything)! Next I wandered around the Alfred Mall and Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre. I bought a couple of little souvenirs and gifts. There were so many shops in the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, it’s huge, you could spend days in there! I made my way back out and went to Cafe Alfredo to have an early dinner. I had a chorizo and caramelised onion pizza with an orange milkshake – both were delicious. The waterfront has lots of busking areas, there was a band near me called the Ikamva Marimba Band. They were really good but it just confused my brain, sitting in the sun with pizza and milkshake, listening to a marimba band playing Christmas songs – it just seemed so strange!

 

 

I headed across to the Volvo Ocean Race area and had a look around there and then went back to the car to drive home. I made the mistake of going during rush hour, it was pretty chaotic. There are so many of the minibus taxi things, and they seem to have made it their mission, or maybe they have a competition going to change lanes as much as possible – they are a nightmare. They don’t always indicate either, they just wave their arm out the window and then go! I made it back to the hotel safely, in one piece and had a nice chilled evening. I did some university work, sorted my photos, read for a while and then went to sleep.