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Day to day in Honiara
Life in Honiara is easy paced and quite relaxed with
minimal security concerns compared to earlier locations
however opportunities for sightseeing and other
diversions are not in abundance - unless you are keen on
relics of WWII.
The road system throughout the country is minimal with
drivable roads on Guadalcanal limited to about 100 km
or so along the north and west coast, centred on
Honiara, and several, mostly unsealed, roads leading
inwards to the central mountain range. So not a lot of
Sunday driving is done.
The beaches near Honiara are narrow, black sand and
the sea is usually quite lively. Also all of them are
guarded by the local landowners who charge a fee
(albeit a modest one) for entry. For this they
supposedly provide security. However, this does have
the effect of ensuring that the beaches are kept fairly
quiet and peaceful. They are also regularly frequented
by the active diving groups.
There are a few reasonable hotels with swimming pools
in Honiara but no real resorts. There are also several
"eco' resorts on nearby islands that are more popular
than the local beaches. They are not particularly
inexpensive and the facilities are quite sparse.
However they seem to be particularly popular with
expats who are fairly new to the tropical island
experience.
There is a wide choice of eating places ranging from
fairly expensive hotels and restaurants to much
cheaper but perfectly respectable local cafes. There
are also one or two 'nightspots' but they have not yet
been explored by us!
Highlights
The highlights of the year so far have been finally
finding accommodation in town, our short trip to
Brisbane at Easter and our longer trip to the UK in
September. Another highlight for Jack has been joining
the Honiara Golf Club and getting out for a regular hit
on Saturdays.
New accommodation
There is plenty of available accommodation in the area,
particularly larger houses, though the rent is very high.
Between Aus $ 2,500 to 4,000 for a modern place with
water, back-up generator and good security. But they
are mostly on the ridges behind the town or further
along the coast. This is fine if both partners are
working but not so good for Viv who is at the mercy of
local taxis if she needs to go shopping during the week.
But we finally found a 'small' one bedroom unit within
walking distance of the town centre and we moved in on
18 August. Not only is it ideally located for Viv but it is
also only two minutes drive to and from Jack's office.
We are only now beginning to appreciate the
convenience because we had only moved in for two
weeks when we took off for our annual leave.
Trip to Brisbane
We took advantage of the long Easter weekend to pop
back to Brisbane. We had moved our Australian base
there from Townsville late last year but had only been
able to spend a few weeks in total there since then, so
we were keen to get a bit more familiar with our new
house.
It was a really good break and a chance to catch up with
the girls and for Jack to buy some new golf clubs and to
have a round with Sam's (relatively) new boyfriend,
Kiran.
Viv was also happy to be able to do the round of the
shops and to easily find what she went for without a
long search ending in a compromise on what she had
originally wanted, which is the norm in Honiara.
Trip to UK
In September we finally made good on our promise to
make another,  possibly the last, trip to the UK.
This one, like the last two, coincided with a Reunion of
Jack's old de Havilland apprentice buddies.
When the trip was originally conceived it was planned
that much of the time would be spent visiting Jack's
brother George in the Isles of Scilly. But sadly George
passed away early last year and so the plans were
changed to a driving holiday to the north of England and,
possibly, Scotland.
We would very much like to have gone to Scilly one
last time and to visit our friends and relatives in
Cornwall on the way but, without George being there
and no permanent attachments either, since George
didn't leave a will, there was no real attraction any
more.
Maybe Jack will feel the urge to go back again one day
but it is more likely that that part of his life is well
and truly over now.
Getting there
After a gruelling twenty four hour journey from
Brisbane we finally arrived at Heathrow feeling
surprisingly rested despite only getting the usual cat
naps on the way. Perhaps it was the early hour of our
arrival but we were able to hire a car and drive all the
way to Bristol for our first stop before the jet lag
began to catch up with us.
Old friends
Our first mini reunion was with old school friend Dr
Mike Hardy who had recently moved to his new home
in Dursley just east of Bristol.
After the usual reminiscing and nine holes of golf he
introduced us to his friend James Roberts who very
kindly put us all up for the night at his charming and
well renovated cottage situated on a very long, very
narrow country lane.
The next morning we headed into Bristol, via both
Severn Bridges, to meet up with a colleague from
East Timor days, Nigel Wakeham and his wife Rachael.
A few hours and several exchanges of stories later
we were heading for Bournemouth via Salisbury. But,
on reaching Salisbury we decided to overnight at a
very well appointed Guest House called the Cathedral
View which we can recommend to anyone stopping in
that area.
The next morning we travelled to the home of former
Jamaica Sub-Aqua Club  co-diver and Jamaica RFC
team-mate Jim Johnson and his wife Gwen. Despite
their recent serious health issues they were their
usual cheerful and hospitable selves and we spent a
very entertaining time with them including a show by
their 'very own' wild fox!
The next morning we headed off for our hotel in
Christchurch and on the way we detoured to catch up
with former apprentice buddy and Wimborne RFC
team-mate Peter Deacon Smith and his wife Margaret
for an extra mini reunion before the big one on
Saturday night.
After lunch with them we headed for our hotel in
Christchurch and Jack headed to pay a visit to
brother-in-law Reg in the housing area at the back of
what used to be de Havilland's airfield.  This time it
was for reminiscing and afternoon tea! Unfortunately
Viv was not feeling 100% and so she stayed and
rested - and started to repack our luggage since this
was to be our only two night stop in the same
accommodation!
The evening was spent at the hotel to catch up with
other old apprentices who had decided to arrive a
little early and were staying at the same hotel.  
Unfortunately there weren't many this year but the
evening was enjoyable none the less chatting with
Reunion organiser Garth Rogers.
Sadly, apart from at the Reunion the following night,
that was the last of our old friends and relatives we
were able to visit until we arrived back in the London
area the following week. Then we dropped in on old
school friend Ken Pye and his wife Sandra in
Toddington.
The old trio circa 1960 at the, then, Bournemouth College and, with wives, at the Reunion 50+ years later
Report 18 - 20 October 2012 – Life in Honiara & UK Holiday
The following, final, day, on our way to Heathrow, we
met up with Jack's niece Angela, her husband Marcus
and daughter Elizabeth at their home in Croxley
Green where Elizabeth showed off her culinary skills
with an impressive lunch and Marcus took us for a
stimulating walk through the nearby countryside.
Something that we had, unfortunately, missed out on
during the earlier part of our trip.
Reunion
The Reunion was a little disappointing compared with
previous years in so far as there were only a small
number of apprentices from our year but it was well
worth the trip none-the-less.
Most of Jack's time was taken up with close friends
and rugby players Peter Deacon Smith and Robin
Collins while Viv was moving around through the crowd
snapping photos of all and sundry since she seemed to
be the only one with a camera apart from the official
camerman who wasn't much in evidence.
It was good to be able to recognise old friends this
time unlike the first reunion in 2003 when so much
time had passed that there was little resemblance to
their youthful selves back in 1961.
This is likely to be the last official Reunion on this
scale but there may be other, smaller groups meeting
again. We can only hope so.
Touring
The next morning we detoured from our intended
route to have another mini-reunion and lunch with Rob
Collins and his wife Delia at Mudeford, a scene of old
outings from years ago.
Then we set off in earnest for our touring holiday
with our first overnight stop Hereford and unknown
territory for both or us.  
We had booked into the Premier Inn in Mudeford for
the Reunion and we were favourably impressed with
the facilities and service and so we decided to use
them throughout our trip. It was extremely
convenient calling ahead late in the day to book a
room when we knew where we were going to reach
that evening.
The next day we headed due north passing between
Liverpool and Manchester on our way to our first
visit to the Lake District.
We were overawed by the scenery but extremely
disappointed that, in spite of the welcome sunshine,
the chilly wind meant that we couldn't venture very
far from the car with our rather light winter gear.
The benefit of this was that we were able to reach
much further north than we had expected and we
were able to drive through the spectacular
Cairngorms and on to Aberdeen.
Our route back  to London took us over the Tay and
Forth bridges and through the outskirts of Dundee
and Edinburgh. We had wanted to walk around
Edinburgh but we couldn't get a hotel in the centre
and we didn't have time to detour.
Next stop was York where the weather was warm
enough for us to walk around the view the historic
town centre.
Our only spell of really bad weather occurred on the
fairly boring stretch on the motorway back to London
so, on the whole, once again the UK did us very well
with it's September weather.
The only problem is that we enjoyed ourselves so
much and regretted all the places we didn't get to
see that we want to do another 'last' trip back to
the UK.
Jack & Viv