VALENTINE’S DAY Because of the way the roster for the week worked out, I had the whole day off today. My plans for a lie-in went out the window at 8:00 Am though when the dray arrived and Brian and Jim didn’t¹. So, I saw to the delivery then went back to be for ½ and hour.

When Linda got up she gave me her Valentine card then went down to work. I got up and walked down to the bank and drew out £5 to buy some flowers. I ended up buying a red rose for her at a street market on Lower Marsh Road and I gave it to her along with my card.

I had planned to spend a few hours down at the Imperial War Museum but when I got down there (it is only a 10 minute walk from the pub) I found that it cost £2-50 to get in and I hadn’t taken any money with me. The walk wasn’t totally wasted though as on the way I found a house with a small plaque on the wall saying that William Bligh, Captain of the Bounty had lived in the house in the 1700s.

Back at the pub, I collected my camera gear and set off to explore some more of the Thames. I walked along The Embankment which has been renovated and re-built into sterile and atmosphere-less home for big businesses. All of the old wharves and docks have been torn down and modern “old style” buildings have been put up in their place. It is a ghetto of glass, polished stone, expensive cars and yuppies!

One small section is still old and grimy and that is the area adjacent to the old “Clink” prison². There is a tiny, narrow cobbled street running between the old warehouses on the river bank and the back wall of the now dis-used prison. At its narrowest, the alley is only a few feet wide and is cold, dark and dank: just the sort of atmosphere you’d expect beside a medieval prison!

I walked on down past Tower Bridge but couldn’t get much further without leaving the river so I crossed the bridge and walked back up the North Bank past the Tower of London. I detoured away from the river to have another look at St. Paul’s Cathedral then walked back up to Westminster Bridge and back to the pub.  

¹Let me explain this strange sentence! The dray refers to the truck that delivered the beer to the pub in aluminium and timber casks. The name is a hangover from bygone days when beer was delivered by horse and dray. Brian, the pub’s owner, and Jim, one of the barmen, didn’t turn up to help unload the delivery which is dropped down a wooden chute into the pub’s cellar.

²The Clink prison was the oldest prison in England, dating back to the 12th century. The slang phrase for being in prison, to be “put in clink”, derives from the prison’s name.


SATURDAY Today we went to the famous Crufts Dog Show at Earls Court Exhibition Centre. It was terrior day which meant lots of yapping toy dogs instead of the bigger working breeds which were to be shown the next day, but it was a good day out all the same. There were about 20 different rings and the main competition ring where we watched the Canine Obedience competition. It was good to be around dogs again for a while.

Cwufts…”nice bitch!”

We got back to the pub quite early as Linda had told Brian she would work the evening session for some extra money. Mike Dyke¹ called in at around 9:00 PM and we had a good yarn. He is going back to Africa as the courier (assistant driver) on a southbound Kumuka trip in March…lucky bastard!  

¹One of the drivers from our African Overland in 1989.


WEDNESDAY Linda and I had the night off so we decided to go and try our luck at getting tickets to The Phantom of the Opera. We went over to Her Majesty’s Theatre, Piccadilly Circus, and joined the queue which was about 25 people long even at that early time – 5:30. We waited in the cold until about 7:45 when a guy came out and began allotting tickets. Sure enough, we were close enough to the front of the queue to get tickets and we went in. We had drinks at the bar then went into the auditorium to our seats. They weren’t exactly the best seats in the house, back row in the dress circle, but we could see most of the action. It was a spectacular show with great music and singing and clever special effects. We even had half-time drinks in the bar!

After the show we walked up to the London Palladium shopping centre at Piccadilly Circus and had a snack at the Rock Island Diner.


WEDNESDAY Today I had arranged with Brian to have the whole day off so that I could go to the Home Office Immigration department on West Croydon to find out some details about my visa.

I got up at 7:00 AM and dressed warmly as it was a cold, wet morning and it was still a long time until dawn. Along with some sandwiches for lunch, I took my camera, tripod and the two new gradient filters I had bought during the week. I caught the tube over to Embankment then the Circle Line to Victoria station where I caught the train out to West Croydon. The Home Office building was a 20 minute walk from the station and there was already 5 people queued up in the cold outside the door. By the time the doors opened at 8:30 there were about 80-100 people in the queue.

In the end, it turned out to be a waste of time going out there as the woman who interviewed my said that it was pointless getting my four months added on to my visa at this stage as once they have done it it cannot be done again¹. She recommended that I should wait until my visa was about to expire and apply for the time to be added on then, even though I would be over 27 by then.

Back at the station, I caught another train, heading back into London and got off at Battersea. I walked along past Chelsea Bridge with the huge Battersea Power Station² towering over the Thames on my right, its four huge chimneys disappearing into the cold, low cloud which hung over the city. I wandered along the riverbank taking photos and looking at landmarks and buildings along the way.

Battersea Power Station


Further along the embankment, I came across some steps leading down to the river. The tide was out so I went down to the water’s edge took a few photos then sat there and watched the ancient river roll by…so much history. I climbed back up to the footpath and walked along to the Parliament Gardens then around past the statue of Richard III – Coeur de Lion in front of the magnificent Houses of Parliament.

Battersea Bridge and the River Thames.

After a quick look around Westminster Abbey, I sat in Parliament Square beside the bronze statue of Winston Churchill and had lunch with the pigeons then did a few jobs around town before catching the tube back to the pub. 

¹ In those days, New Zealanders were eligible for a work visa which allowed them to live and work in the UK for a total of two years. Whenever you left the country, the visa was put on hold until you returned when it would re-start. You were able to get the time you were out of the country added back onto the visa allowing you to spend a total of two years in the UK. These work visas could be obtained by any New Zealander under the age of 27 and the UK working holiday was a popular part of many New Zealanders overseas adventures.  

²The disused power station was made famous as the main feature on the cover of the pink Floyd album Animals.


Well, here I am again at the end of another diary, another year and, this time, another decade. It is 5:45 PM and Linda and I are watching the video “Cocoon – The Return” upstairs at The Red Lion pub in Lambeth, London. We have been working here for 3 weeks now as a live-in bar couple. The pub is owned by Brian Bradley, a Kiwi from Moeraki¹ and most of the staff are Kiwis so it is a good atmosphere to work in.

We spent four days at White Stubbs Farm² after we returned from Africa. Joyce filled us in on what had been going on around the area while we had been away and it was still the same back-biting, narrow-mindedness that we had left behind 4 months before. The Woodman was once again in the hands of the Pikies³ and Terry & Lorraine (the publicans) are gone. It sounded as though Terry had gone on a binge of barring people from the pub including old Nobbie (a local drunk) which would have been a bad move as the locals would have complained to the brewery who would have told Terry and Lorraine to shape up or ship out. I guess they shipped out!

We had a good sleep-in on our first morning at White Stubbs Farm and went down to the Woodman for lunch. It was dead…the only people there were AK Top Roy and his scarecrow wife.

About 2:00 that day we caught the train into London and mucked around for the rest of the day until 7:00 when we met Mike and Scotty on the Tottenham Court Road. We had a few drinks at a pub then headed to Break for the Border, a Mexican restaurant where we’d arranged to meet the others from the overland. We had a good night there and slept on the floor of Robyn’s sister’s flat.

Next day we went job-hunting and got an interview at The Red Lion. It is a busy inner city pub and we were very busy over Christmas and New Year. In the week leading up to Christmas, Linda and I spent all our wages [we were earning 100 pounds each per week with full board and lodging] on new clothes and Christmas pressies for each other. It was a really good feeling to have money to spend and not have to worry about saving.

The Red Lion, 121 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1.

We also rang home. Linda rang Helen one night after trying a few times to get through without success. Everything is fine at Dry Creek† and it was really good to talk to her again. Brian was away that day so we didn’t talk to him. I rang Joe [my brother] early one morning and we had a good yarn. He was going to spend some time with our cousin Tig over the Christmas break.

Christmas Eve was a Saturday night and was very quiet but the Friday night was horrendously busy. Linda and I had a quiet Xmas by ourselves at the pub. We cooked up a huge christmas dinner and had all the trimmings with it – chocolate, nuts, crackers, christmas pudding. We both gave each other Swatch watches and I gave Linda a new address book, a scarf, 3 photograph albums and some other bits & pieces. Brian and his wife gave her a top and a toilet bag and Harry (another of the bar staff) gave her a scarf. Along with the watch Linda gave me some Kouros aftershave which she dad bought duty-free on the boat over from Spanish North Africa, a shirt and a few other bits. Brian and Sue gave me a diary and a rugby jersey and Harry gave me a shirt. Quite a haul!

On Boxing Day we had a sleep in then went for a walk over Westminster Bridge, up through St James Park to Buckingham Palace where we joined a throng of tourists watching the changing of the guard.

In the evening we went and saw the stage production of Allo Allo‡. It was really good with the original members of the TV show in the cast.

Last night, for New Years Eve, we had a beach party with a disco. The party went on till 7:00 AM this morning and we had a pretty good time. Later on tonight, Linda, Louie, Jennie and I are all going over to SoHo for a Chinese meal. It is a cold and rainy night but our new home is warm and comfortable.

¹A small fishing village on New Zealand’s South Island.

²A small farm owned by our friends Joyce and Ernie Stubbs whom we had met while working at The Woodman before we went to Africa.

³Gipsy thugs

‡The stage version of a popular TV sit-com set in WW2.

†Linda’s mother Helen lived at Dry Creek Station, the high country farm where I had worked as a shepherd and where Linda and I had met.


And that was that. From the plains of Kenya, over the Mountains of the Moon, through the jungles of the Congo and down the Zaire River, across the Desert of Thirst, the atlas, the Med, Spain and back to Olde England. The four months seem to have rushed past and now we were back down to Earth with a thump. We were faced with the grim reality of being in London in winter with no money and no jobs.

We checked out of the hotel but left our gear there and I rang Joyce¹ to tell her we would be out to stay later on that day. We went to a local Bengy’s² for breakfast which was included in the price of the hotel, and just as we were finishing, Mike and Scotty walked in so we sat back down and drank tea while they had their breakfast.

After we left them, we went to New Zealand House³ and started job-hunting, without much success.

Later in the day, we collected our gear from The Hunter’s Lodge and caught a train from Liverpool Street out to Broxbourne. as we passed through the grey, dreary jumble of London, and the boring sameness of the commuter suburbs, I thought of the peaceful silence of the jungle…

Lake Victoria, Kenya.


¹Our acquaintance in Hertfordshire at whose place we had left most of our stuff when we set off for Africa.

²A restaurant chain specializing in breakfasts

³The New Zealand Embassy in London where there was an office where New Zealanders could look through job advertisments.