Well here we go! This morning we had a rather leisurely start as we have our first repair in Bethlehem in the Free State. These trips are quite a logistical feat – this time we will be away for 8 days and we need to cook food for the journey to last us until we return home. There are 3 of us and some eat more than others, but thankfully none of us are fussy eaters. So we have spent two days making cottage pie, sandwiches, lambs neck and a huge container of rice. This all fits into a cooler box packed with ice which is renewed or topped up at every stop – a bone of contention which has now evolved into a joke, as whenever we stop, the first question is how many bags?
We pack the bakkie with every part and tool known to man, and a few I think that are unknown to anyone….pack the suitcases and food and hitch up the trailer which is also packed to the hilt with things that don’t fit on the bakkie. Everything is wrapped in plastic in case there is bad weather en route – final check and we head out of the gate.
Today is cold – there is snow on the Drakensberg and we do a quick check to see if Van Reenen’s Pass is clear – no problems there and then we hit the first hill just outside our residence. There is much rattling and jerking coming from the rear of the vehicle – our hearts sink – we climb out, only to discover that the trailer had not been hitched up correctly, and that all our precious cargo is being held onto the vehicle only by the chain. We huff and puff and finally get it reconnected – this time correctly – no small hill as you can gather from the name Summit Road!
The N3 as a national road and the main route to Johannesburg is, quite frankly, a joke. There are endless roadworks, irresponsible truck drivers, bad signage – the best of all are the 3 lane trucks, each going as slowly as each other, but determined that one will eventually pass the other!
We finally arrive at Petronella Guest House set just outside Bethlehem, and proceed to pay, park and offload the requirements for the evening. Sally, the owner, is delightful and as we always stay here en route, makes us feel at home. The rooms are large and spotless, and the only guest house we know of that brings a jug of fresh milk for tea! We then contact our clients to ensure that all is well for the following day. It is 1 degree tonight and we thank our lucky stars that we have electric blankets! Brrrr!!
Off to sleep and an early start.