Mabes London

‘A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.’ Lao-Tzu tumblr_og4pv4KVs21vi2320o1_1280

As the days start getting longer, the mornings lighter, it’s hard not to let one’s imagination dream of Summer. Holidays in the sun lounging around poolside, or chilling on the beach and swimming in the sea… that moment of clarity when you realise perhaps those early starts and late nights in the office were worth it after all!

The lunches you wish never end.. one “last” bottle of translucent rose.. the mandatory conversation about quitting the day job, travelling the world and leaving it all behind.. just for a little while

Always sounds like a fantastic idea, but few of us have ever acted on our free spirit and followed through…

Inspired, we catch up with the Man, the Myth, the Legend that is Alex Manby… our premier brand ambassador who set out with a “Plan” to spend five(ish) months travelling south from Addis Ababa to Cape Town with a tent

– Favourite beach or body of water?

Phwoar, that’s a tricky one! Diani in Kenya or Zanzibar would be the obvious choice for a postcard beach, but given my previously limited experience of freshwater lakes, I’ll go for one of the great Rift Valley lakes. Malawi was a perfect colour and temperature, but I’m going to choose a small beach at Jacobsen’s campsite on Lake Tanganyika; I had it all to myself at a time when I was still limping around with blisters and sore feet post-walk, and to lie half-submerged in the water for hours on end, reading my book, was unforgettable.tumblr_ok6gll5jcH1vi2320o1_1280

– Any nervous times sleeping in your tent?

One occasion stands out. Sleeping on a quiet beach on Pemba, Tanzania, I woke up to the sound, smell, and heat of a brightly-burning nearby fire; my immediate reaction was that the local chief had objected to my unauthorised camping and was taking extreme measures against it! Fortunately, it was actually just a fisherman keeping himself warm with a bonfire while waiting for dawn to break. tumblr_oljcldt5Jl1vi2320o1_1280 copy

– Best song you’ve heard out there?

Not sure I’ve heard this year’s Christmas #1 just yet. Although today I was treated to a live performance of Wrecking Ball by Mozambique’s answer to Billy Elliot, a young boy dancing naked on the beach using an empty plastic water bottle (which I’d given him five minutes earlier) as a microphone.

– Gun to your head, you have to settle in Africa and start a business, what would you do?

Easy. I’d expand the Uganda Youth Football League to create a business arm to work alongside the charity. We’d be the agents to complement the coaches and get East African kids into European leagues.

And don’t worry about the gun, I’m seriously contemplating doing it of my own free will!

– Where are you planning to go in South Africa?

‘Planning’ is not a word I would associate closely with this trip!

Seriously, I have little idea. A friend “Rambo” is flying out on some trumped up excuse of a job, and his time is more precious than mine, so I’m leaving the itinerary for our ten days together to him. Potentially a risky strategy…

Things I’d like to do (during my time with Rambo or in the two weeks after, when I’ll be on my own again): walk Drakensburg, traverse Lesotho, visit St. Marks, explore the south east, watch live sport, learn to kite surf, enjoy comforts of Cape Town…

If you want to be inspired you can read the “Ambling through Africa” blog here. Finally we asked for a short poem to finish this entry:

Dirty roads, dusty streets,
Trudging around in my flip-flopped feet.
Ralph Lauren shorts, or Topman trunks,
Either way, let’s get crunk!
The bedraggled look’s mine, with uncombed hair,
Blew two tyres; thousand yard stare…
I’m a fan of the beater, always have been,
But with so many around, it’s hard to be seen.
South African folk are famously vain,
But without being harsh, they all look the same.
I need something else, to complement my flirt.
And then inspiration strikes: I need a Mabes towel shirt.