Wow, I’ve just enjoyed possibly the best holiday I’ve ever had! I’ve been incredibly fortunate throughout my life, travelling first as an international athlete, then as a presenter on BBC Holiday and since then, with my husband and children for family holidays.
But the last two and a bit weeks have left me floating on air in a bubble of delight at all the images and experiences that filled my time in the vast place that is Namibia. (Literally – the word Namib means vast place, and apparently Namibia is the second least populated country on the world, after Mongolia.)
Olley and I were joined by my brother Pete and his wife Hazel for this adventure, and we rented a 4×4 vehicle to self-drive around the country to see as much as possible. We started in the Namib Desert – at 80 million years old it’s the most ancient in the world, and home to the highest sand dunes in the world. At almost 400m high they are much taller than the Shard in London which is just 310m.
We climbed a dune (hard work!) and walked to the famous Deadvlei area, where burnt-orange dunes contrast against blackened camelthorn trees and clear blue skies to create amazing photographic opportunities. It looked as though the arid sand could support no life, but our guide showed us that, in fact, lizards, spiders and scorpions thrive as well as the occasional larger animal such as onyx, ostrich and jackal. It is a unique place, unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been and stunningly beautiful in a brutal sort of way. After the exertions of the morning we felt totally spoiled as we enjoyed an ‘out of Africa’ style lunch in the shade of an acacia tree, accompanied by a lone wildebeest under the next tree.
Our day in the desert was an incredible introduction to this diverse and spectacular country, and another delight was how wonderfully happy all the locals we met were. Whether it was the young men at a garage who helped us with a flat tyre; Daniel, our guide in the desert; or the smiling women who greeted us at the lodge we stayed in, everyone seemed to exude joie de vivre.
Content with their lot and full of optimism, their ability to make the most of simple things is something I think many of us in western society could learn from.It was such a fabulous start to our mini expedition that I was concerned we’d seen the best first and it would be downhill from there but, as I’ll tell you in the next instalment (in my next blog) it just got better and better!
If you take a look at the photos, let me mention that I bought the top I’m wearing in the desert pictures from Ghost and it’s still available at under half price, but not in all colours and sizes – it might be the perfect top for your summer holidays! The Panama hat that protected me from the worst of the African sun was from Pia Rossini which isn’t in stock any more but this Vince Camuto one is very similar.
There’ll be plenty more fashion on Wednesday morning with me and Glen Campbell on Morning Style at 10am. I hope you can catch the show but if not, don’t forget that everything featured in the show will be displayed on the Morning Style page. On Thursday we celebrate International Women’s Day with our Inspirational Women event. We will feature a really stylish set of nesting rope baskets from Amanda Holden’s BundleBerry range as our Today’s Special Value, which are already available online.
The whole day will be about women who have been huge successes in their own field such as Sarah Chapman, Laura Geller, Judith Williams, Ruth Langsford, Cath Kidston and Julie Bates from Peony. I hope you can join us at some point that day.
Best wishes and take care,