Roben and Margaret – UK & Europe Trip, June 2017.

This is very much work in progress, so is the short version.

My niece Rosemary married Mike Round in June, and did me the honour of asking me to walk her down the aisle, so we went on a tour of England in June. We were there for two months, which we thoroughly enjoyed – especially the wedding.

Christopher and Birgit were very kind and helpful. They took us all over in their Ford van, with Birgit doing most of the driving. We stayed in B&Bs while they camped.

David arrived in London the day after us & hired a Nissan Qashqai in which we travelled to Penzance, where we joined Christopher and Birgit. We saw a lot of Penzance, Lands End (the most Westerly point of England) and the Lizard Point (the Southernmost point).

Then we went to Taunton where our old family friend Andy Mayo, son of Chris & Val has settled. He is working in a shop which sells fishing flys and the stuff that is used to make them. David then left us to go back to London to return the QashQai, and we travelled to Sulgrave near Oxford for Rosemary and Mikes wedding.

The wedding was held in lovely weather, and most of the South African relatives were there as well as Mikes family and a lot of their friends. The next day we went to a braai at Mik es parents home.

The next day we went to visit Bletchely Park, where there was a top secret establishment during the war which decoded secret German signals. This information was so useful that it materially shortened the war. This effort was greatly aided by the development of digital electronic technology. Alan Turing, a pioneer in the development of Computer Science, was involved in this effort. Because of ongoing security most of Britain knew nothing about it until recently, and the park was nearly sold for a housing estate. Fortunately it was saved and is now an impressive museum.

From there we travelled up the length of England and Scotland, visiting places of interest along the way, to John o’Groats, the northernmost village in mainland UK. The history of the John O’Groats site dates back to 1496 when Jan De Groot, a Dutchman, was granted a charter to the land by the Earl of Caithness to set up a ferry to the Orkney Islands.

We took a ferry to Kirkwall on Mainland – the largest of the Orkney Isles. The weather was very stormy, but had a safe trip although the ferry was corkscrewing through the waves. We saw the neolithic village of Skara Brae, Skara Brae, a Stone Age village which predates Stonehenge with remarkably sophisticated living quarters for 5000 years ago, as well as the standing stones of Steness, a neolithic monument.

We returned by a different route visiting places such as Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales, the site of the James Heriot books, and thence to Norwich where Alan Benstead-Smith, Wendys Brother, lives in retirement with his wife Hazel. They were very hospitable. Christopher, Birgit & David stayed with them and we stayed at the Best Western Hotel in Norwich.

From there we took the Ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland after a night at the Esplanade Hotel in Clacton-on-sea, which reminded us of Durban about 40 years ago except for the windmill farm on a sandbank out to sea.

Delft. Van Zyl family ancestors emigrated to the Cape of Good hope from there. We visited the Royal Delft porcelain factory,

Berlin? Potsdam? Stayed with Caroline & Roman & family in the house they have bought and are renovating.

Dresden stayed at C & Bs home for about a week, catching breath & sightseeing.

Karlshagen C & Bs house near Bs mother & brother – let out to summer tourists. Visited mother & brother.

Crossed by ferry to Denmark and over long sea bridge from mainland to islands. Stayed B&B farmhouse.

On to “Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen” Kobnhaven. sightseeing.

Rungsted Karen Blixen house “Ringstedlund” & museum.

Roskilde Cultural history museum – Viking history & culture.

Through Sweden to

Oslo stayed youth hostel. Very comfortable. Fram & Kon Tiki museums.

Lysebotn (at head of Lyefjord) via 26 hairpin bends & a tunnel to floor of fjord. Stayed tourist hotel. By ferry through Lysefjord to Stavanger. Spectacular scenery. Cold.

Stavanger stay youth hostel.


Ferry to Hirtshals.

Steinfeld Cathy & Norberts house let out. C & B upstairs flat over garage, us in van.



Munich Stayed with Cathy & Norbert

London Fantastic! National Maritime Museum (Ernest Schackleton, antartic explorer), past Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory (First chronometers), Natural History Museum (Australopithecus skeleton & Naledi represented) & Science Museum. Stayed Best Western Mornington near Hyde Park.

Home again.

We thank Rosemary and Mike Pound for inviting us to their wedding.

We are very grateful to Christopher and Birgit, who were great! They took us all over the UK, and from Hook of Holland to Stavanger and back to their home in Dresden.

Also to Caroline, Roman and Family and Cathy, Norbert and Family for sharing their homes with us.