Our popular 'Newlands New Year' tour to South Africa witnessed an exciting Test Match and had some fantastic experiences in Cape Town. Howzat Travel's John Kerr led the tour and in true Howzat tradition, kept a diary...
Wednesday 30th December 2009
After a difficult journey to Heathrow, our party began arriving and meeting new friends at the 3 Bells Bar. Eventually, everybody arrived and we boarded the plan for our 12-hour overnight flight to Cape Town.
Thursday 31st December 2009
We landed in Cape Town at 10.50am local time, cleared immigration and collected our luggage. Ian was waiting for us in arrivals and we were soon on our way to the hotel. People were looking forward to New Year’s Eve and some were planning to have a snooze before the big night. Those of us who were going to Quay 4 for the evening left the hotel at about 6.00pm and spent a couple of hours looking round the V & A Waterfront and all the attractions, live music and street artists.
After our late meal in Quay 4, there was live music and dancing and everybody had a good night, with fireworks over the harbour at midnight. We arrived back at the hotel about at 1.00am shattered after the flight and night out!
Friday 1st January 2010
After waking up early to wave off the members of the tour party who had booked excursions for the day, I had a lazy morning around the pool. Some people walked along the seafront enjoying the Bank Holiday. It seems it is compulsory for everybody in Cape Town to go to the beach on a Bank Holiday! I walked to Camps Bay and spent a very pleasant afternoon. That evening, we all met for a meal at 8.00pm on the hotel sun terrace for a welcome party, which was a very pleasant evening.
Saturday 2nd January 2010
Today, most people had booked trips to Table Mountain and Robben Island. There was a large queue for the cable car, but our group had fast-track tickets and managed to go to the front of the queue. We went to Robben Island in the afternoon, whilst other members of the party enjoyed the other sights of Cape Town.
Sunday 3rd January 2010
Everybody was up early for the first day at Newlands. Our coach departed at 9.00am for a 25-minute drive. We had the same driver every day; he was a nice guy called Herman. We arrived at the ground with grey skies and drizzle in the air; not what we had come 6,500 miles for! Eventually, play got underway with England winning the toss and putting SA in. With good cloud cover, England got early wickets but SA recovered to close on 279 for 6. That evening, we had a buffet on the sun terrace, which was enjoyed by the whole group and everybody had a chance to get to know each other.
Monday 4th January 2010
We arrived at Newlands for a 10.15am start. It’s a good job we did as SA were dismissed in 17 minutes! England toiled in very warm conditions to finish the day on 241 for 7. Disappointingly, KP failed again. The evening was spent relaxing, people choosing to spend their free time however they wished.
Tuesday 5th January 2010
England were dismissed for 273 and we were to witness England trailing for the rest of the day as SA reached 312 for 2, with Graeme Smith hitting 162 not out and Amla reaching 95. It seemed that The Barmy Army were trying to drink the Castle Brewery (next door) dry!
Wednesday 6th January 2010
SA pushed on and declared on 447 for 7, leaving England needing a record 466 to win. England struggled against the SA attack and finished the day on 132 for 3, needing to bat all day tomorrow to save the test. We all thought it would be a difficult day ahead; the weather would not save us as another hot day was forecast. That evening, most of the group went to an evening with Sir Ian Botham and Allan Donald, which was hosted by Robin Jackman. We enjoyed a super three-course dinner with wine, and were treated to a lively evening with our guest speakers.
Thursday 7th January 2010
We arrived at Newlands hoping for the best, but with only seven wickets, it would be a long day. Collingwood and Bell batted superbly and at tea we thought we were safe, but then wickets tumbled and Graham Onions had to face the final over to save the match. He did so superbly and everybody cheered as if England had won! This test match went to the final ball on the fifth day; you could not have written the script and we celebrated that night as if we had won.
Friday 8th January 2010
Today, some of the group were supposed to go to Table Mountain, but it was closed due to high winds. However, the driver gave them a tour of Cape Town instead which was enjoyed by all. Around 20 of us went on a tour of the Cape and had a superb day out, leaving at 8.30am and not returning until 5pm. We went on Chapman’s Peak toll road to get some superb views of the coastline. We also stopped at a Hout Bay for a boat trip to see the seals and then on to an ostrich farm before arriving at the Cape of Good Hope where we had lunch. Cape Point is where the two oceans meet – the Atlantic and the Indian, and some went to the lighthouse to get some great views. From there, we went to see the penguins at Boulders Beach, and then on to Simon’s Town, which was a Royal Navy Base in the Second World War.
Saturday 9th January 2010
We had to check out of our rooms by 11.00am and were not leaving for the airport until 7pm, so some went on a city coach tour for a couple of hours and others did some last minute shopping. We arrived at Cape Town Airport and boarded our overnight flight to London. When we arrived home, we were tired but had had a great trip! I hope to meet you all again one day and thanks for being a great group of people.