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Riding into Swaziland

Update from Wendy, Spencer’s Mother.

You would tend to think that having fallen off your motorbike, whilst colliding with a heap of rubble on a dirt track, damaging your ribs and leg in the process, being bitten by some horrible insect and swelling up all over, having your bike vandalised and then your money, credit cards, photos etc stolen in one fell swoop and being shot at, might well make the average person wonder whether or not it was all worth it. Not a bit of it.

Although there is little doubt that Spencer was traumatised by the  shooting experience for several days after the event – I could tell immediately I heard his voice on the telephone.  However, he appears to have recovered, I’m not sure how, but he always seems to.  He eventually reached Nairobi with the help of a truck organised by the German priest, to transport both Spencer and the bike.

The following few days gave him time to recover and also time to scrutinise the damage to the bike, which had no back brake, no back tyre and bullet holes. I think that’s when it really hit home as to what could have been.  A full page report from Kenya’s ‘Daily Nation’,  tells the situation as it is as present and it’s not a comforting story.  However, I will not dwell on that any more as Spencer is now fully rejuvenated and back on track.

His time in Nairobi waiting for repairs to the bike, turned out to be an extraordinary interlude.  He met many very interesting people, both indigenous and expatriate.   His first couple of nights, were spent with Sophie and Piers, contacts organised by Trudy Beazley, a Biddenden resident and there thank goodness, he was able to relax, eat good food, sleep in a proper bed and take stock. Although welcomed for as long as he wished, he decided to move to the nearby camp site, in order to meet up with as many people as possible and learn from their stories and adventures. This proved to be particularly fruitful.

Towards the end of his stay in Nairobi, Shaun Fenton from ‘Diesel Films’ decided, almost overnight, that he would fly out for a few days, catch up with Spencer, spending a day interviewing and then make their way from Nairobi through to Tanzania.  As luck would have it, Spencer had made friends with an Australian who has lived in Kenya nearly all his life and knew the country like the back of his hand, who suddenly on a whim it seems, said ‘I think I’ll come with you two guys and I can take Shaun in my truck’.  Well of course this was a God send as Shaun would have had to hire a truck or follow Spencer on foot.  Well it turned out to be an experience of a lifetime for both Spencer and Shaun.  The details are too long to document here, but please take a look at the blog to read Shaun’s account.  It’s an extremely well written piece and deserves a look.

Perhaps some of you have been watching the marvellous documentaries on ‘The Rift Valley’ over the past few weeks.  Mike and I sit in awe with the realization that Spencer has now had the honour of being a part of this landscape, albeit for a short time. I keep telling him to stop rushing along, this is something that won’t  if ever, be repeated, so he must make the very most of it.  It’s a once in a lifetime experience testing endeavour, bravery, fortitude and commitment.

It’s quite astonishing that without any help whatsoever in the planning of this trip, he has managed to make it a reality, adopting the lifestyle required for being totally alone ninety percent of the time, eating and sleeping when and wherever he can, and coming to grips with knowing that anything can happen at anytime, when you could easily be fifty or a hundred kms away from anywhere. I think I will have to prepare for him to be a different person when he comes home. Perhaps the person he really wants to be.  Who knows?

Shaun, now back in the UK, has been a tremendous help filling us in with information badly needed this end as any contact we have with Spencer is just outlined and cursory, as communication is extremely expensive from both ends so is avoided as much as possible.  Apart from knowing the basic details, we are often pretty much in the dark.  I was therefore delighted to learn Spencer looks and feels very well, his riding apparently is something to behold and he’s full of enthusiasm and on Shaun’s departure, couldn’t wait to get going ‘back on the road’.

I forgot to mention that Spencer was interviewed by the press in Kenya and also carried out a telephone interview on South African radio.  But best of all I liked the follow up by Dominic on Radio Kent.  I was telephoned asking how to contact Spencer for an update and would I please stay on the line?  So there was  Spencer on his ‘Blackberry’, me at The Malt House and Radio Kent in the studio.  It all worked like a dream. The interview ended with ‘Queen’s’ track of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, a very clever and emotive choice on their part, and it goes without saying, had the effect of reducing mother to ‘floods’

We haven’t heard from Spencer since he was about to take off through Malawi, heading for Mozambique.  He had decided not to go through Zimbabwe due to the trouble at the border, which you may have seen on the news and as there is no doubting that Spencer, being extremely tall and with a motorbike is a conspicuous target.  It’s impossible to hide him.

So we are anxious for news.

Meanwhile Mike and I, I should say mainly Mike, are still collecting, which is not always fun in this weather, but needs must. However, we are glad to report that we are now up to just under £17,000.  I, in the meantime am searching my mind for events I can organise throughout the year to help boost Spencer’s target.  We still have £11,000 to go.  It’s a daunting thought.  It goes without saying that if anyone can do anything to raise a little money, through your clubs or whatever, we would be very grateful.

Once again if you are reading this, many thanks as always.  With love and Best Wishes.


(Spencer’s mother)

Note:  Have just this minute heard from Spencer.  He’s through Malawi and Mozambique and is now ‘Home’ in Swaziland with Simon and his niece Ysabella who apparently burst into tears shouting ‘Uncle Spencer! Uncle Spencer’ when he rode into her school by surprise.  She’s now threatening that he has to stay for her 11th birthday on the 21st.  I hope he does.

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