No 1: Manchester to Madagascar

So day 4 into our trip I thought we ought to give you a quick update on all that’s been going on so far so that you believe we are actually doing some work rather than just sunning ourselves!

James, Jemima and I left Manchester very bright (that’s a lie it was raining a lot!) and early on Wednesday morning and headed for Corty’s house in Clapham. It was an interesting journey that tested my motorway and city driving skills to the max with sheeting rain and well just central London driving (the country folk reading this will understand my peril!) not to mention my lemsip levels were pretty high by this point as well.

Thankfully we arrived in one piece and had a fantastic welcome from Corty’s family with a lot of much needed tea and lunch – thank you ever so much!
Forgot to mention that by this point we had gained an extra 4 hours to our day having discovered that the flight we were trying to get at 5pm was actually not scheduled until 9pm (a very reassuring start to our organisational skills!) – it meant we had a good amount of time for sorting last minute jobs such as applying to vote by proxy…who’s going to be leading on our return?!

Finally we set off for the airport with the car piled high (Jemima and Corty very kindly took the tube and James and I got what we thought was the stress free car ride…) about 15minutes in to the journey traffic was true to London form and fairly gridlocked and low and behold the car flashed up that it had a puncture! Thankfully Barbara has a fantastic map of London in her head and was able to find us a trusty pit stop garage who changed the wheel without us having to even open the car doors- talk about service.

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Eventually we made it to Heathrow, said our goodbyes and got the bags through check in – simple ey?! Due to all our kit bags we were over the max number for our tickets thankfully by creating luggage filled silage bales we were able to combine bags and off we went- not sure the amount of plastic wrap used is particularly in keeping with any kind of eco tourism!

Our flight was good with a beautiful stop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was surrounded by mountains swathed in the early morning sun and with only a couple of hours to wait we didn’t get fed up of the view (this may change on our return when we have more like 8 hours!)

Our next flight brought us in over the north of Madagascar and gave us the perfect opportunity to view the stunning coastlines and vast red plains of mountains, river valleys and rice paddies that make up the country down to Antananarivo.

We were all incredibly grateful for our hotel taxi waiting for us at the airport and after becoming millionaires by exchanging our pounds we made a hasty retreat to Hotel Tana Jacaranda (aka our oasis in Antananarivo centre). It’s such a lovely hotel with great views over the city up to the Queen’s palace and a ready supply of live music from the amphitheatre below.

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After a much needed top of up of our rice levels at a nearby restaurant playing a mixture of Aleshia Keys, French Ballards and a random English film from the 90’s, we all crashed for out first night of wrestling with mosquito nets!

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