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After an amazing few days at Lion Sands, we headed back to White River to spend the night at Guy’s beautiful home and to get re-aquainted with his three delightful children, Thomas, Catherine and James…

I had always had a special relationship with these kids and was amazed at how much they had grown in the time I had been away… They were as happy to see me as I was them, and within a few minutes it was as if I had never been away…!!

Guy and Jenny’s beautiful country home in White River, where we spent the night before heading to Swaziland…

Our cottage, set away from the main house, surrounded by sprawling gardens and huge trees… It was wonderful being back in a place that I had so many memories of…

Patricia, Catherine and Jamie on the trampoline… It did not take Patricia too long to become a “hit” with the More children…!!

Catherine, Thomas and James had certainly grown in the three years I had been away…!!

We spent the evening with John and Louise at a restaurant in the Casterbridge Centre on the edge of the farm, and then enjoyed breakfast the following morning, on their farm High Meadow…

On both occasions I had forgotten to take my camera along to record our reunion… I guess the excitement of seeing the people who I had been so closely associated with for over 20 years, got the better of my usual careful planning…!! John and Louise were in their usual fine form, and both Patricia and I thoroughly enjoyed the short time we spent in their company…

By mid morning, we were back on the road again… Destination: Swaziland, the country I had called “home” since 1987…

As we rounded the final bend in the road out of Pigg’s Peak, I felt my throat tighten as the factory and sawmill came into view… A lot of blood , sweat and tears had gone into building this place since 1989, and during my absence, Guy and his team had expanded it even more…

There was much whistling and chanting as I entered the factory and met the many employees who had worked for me for so many years… I was surrounded by well-wishers and production all but came to a halt…

They were especially intrigued to discover that I had returned with a wife, and quickly welcomed Patricia with handshakes and pats on the back…!!

Many of my old staff gathered around to welcome both Patricia and I, and we spent the next hour touring the facility and being greeted by so many people who wanted to know when I would be back to resume my “duties”…!!

After our tour, we were hustled back to the home of Hendrik and Renske, where a surprise awaited us…

Renske had gone to great lengths to obtain traditional Swazi outfits for both Patricia and I and unpacked them as we stood staring open-mouthed at the regalia that lay before us…

“Time for your “Swazi Wedding”…” she said as she explained to Patricia how her outfit “worked”…

“Why don’t I get to wear skins…?? Ronnie’s outfit is much better than mine…!!”, were Patricia’s first comments…

“This is Swaziland, my dear…!!” replied Renske… “Here the men get the best of everything…!!”

“And rightly so…!!” I quipped, watching Patricia’s eyebrows crawl north into her hairline…

Gone rural…!! The “Chief” returns with his bride and dons traditional costume to mark the event…

The Swazi couple pose for photos…

The dismayed bride looks on while the groom presents her with her wedding present, a goat… And a fine one it was too…!!

She perks up (just a little…) when she discovers that not only are there a whole flock of goats as a dowry, but that she will not have to slaughter one for the feast…!! Not yet anyway… That will have to wait for our next visit to the Kingdom…

Another one for the wedding album… Patricia was getting used to the “New World Order”…!!

The groom begins to demonstrate his “mettle”….

Dancing for his bride… My Sibhaca moves were well out of practice…!!

My return to Swaziland was memorable to say the least…!! It was made special by the many friends who joined us for a homecoming dinner that Renske had arranged for us… Louis and Charlotte, and their children Sarah and Guy were part of the reception…. Again, I was surprised at how much the children had grown…!!

Tommy and Murrae were there to greet us as well…

Last photo of both of us in our traditional attire… While I spent a few moments longer savoring my status as a warrior groom, Patricia went off to change into what she preferred to call “her traditional gear”…

The bride holds court, and tries to explain what she plans to do with her goats… “Well, we can’t take them back to New Jersey…!! Damn things will eat everything in my brother’s garden…!!”

“And although she appears rather cheeky and opinionated now, I am sure she will come round to our way of thinking quite soon, my brothers…!! A few weeks in Swaziland should set that straight…!!”

Marli and Stoffel, on whose farm in the Northern Cape I had spent time on when I took my first long ride into Africa in 2008, were also there to greet us…

My long-suffering factory manager, Prem, and his wife Bimla were also there to see us…

After dinner, we sat around a roaring fire, just as we had done many times in the past… Great friends, wonderful company, and the African bush all around…. Oh…and a few drinks of course…!! Joining Patricia and I in this photo are Louis, Tommy and Hendrik, and in the foreground, Sarah, Murrae, Charlotte, Guy and Renske…

After hours of revelry, we drove back through the dark night to the recently built home of Louis and Charlotte… Situated atop a ridge close to the town of Pigg’s Peak, their spacious home overlooks the Ngonini Valley, and on a clear day you can see for miles all around…

A huge thunderstorm broke over us as we sat on their wide patio enjoying a nightcap… Soon it was hailing, and we dashed about moving the patio furniture away from its edge, where the strong winds were blowing the driving rain onto…

Lightning tore the dark sky open and lit up the valley far below us… It was both scary and exciting and I watched the look of wonder playing across Patricia’s face as she stood staring out into the rain…

“This is Africa…!!” I thought, as I smiled to myself…”Raw energy, excitement, and nature reminding us that in the end, she rules supreme…!!”

The Barnard’s spacious home, where Patricia and I spent our only night in Swaziland…

The rain had brought the curtain down on what was a day neither Patricia or I would ever forget… We retired to our cottage at the rear of the house, and were awoken again in the early hours of the morning by yet another thunderstorm… We lay awake listening to the rain beating down on the roof, and the thunder that accompanied it, booming like a drum roll off the mountains across the valley…

View across the valley from the front porch… A wonderful sight to wake up to every day…

The next morning, I was up with the sparrows as usual, made myself a cup of coffee while the rest of the house slept on, and then wandered around the garden, listening to the dawn chorus of birds bring the day to life…

I was sad to be leaving my good friends and the place I had called home for so long, after so short a visit, but also hugely excited and emotional at the prospect of seeing my parents later that same evening…

But in between Uvongo and the place I was standing in, lay a drive of almost 800 km…