African adventure to mark golden anniversary

October 02 2017

TWO retired teachers have taken to the road on southern African adventures over the past year.


TWO retired teachers have taken to the road on southern African adventures over the past year.

Ian Freestone, former headteacher at Charborough Road Primary in Filton and his wife Mary have been on a 5,000km, 18-day, trip and a second 3,000km, 13-day journey in the past 12 months.

In November 2016, the couple, who are members of Christ Church, Downend,  joined friends from Zambia in a group of six with three motorcycles and a Landcruiser in a  travelling from Lusaka, capital of Zambia, to Cape Town via Victoria Falls, Botswana, and Swaziland.

Ian said: “We stayed in a wide variety of accommodation including a weird treehouse and a disused asbestos mining settlement (now a mission used to nurture and educate orphans) at Bulembu in Swaziland,  travelled through spectacular, remote and empty country and viewed a wide variety of Africa’s wildlife – often very close up! The whole experience was a wonderful way to celebrate our golden wedding.”

The second adventure was in August 2017 and was a circular tour from Lusaka up to the Tanzanian border, across into northern Malawi via the Nyika Plateau (highest part of Southern Africa) and back to Lusaka via the shores of Lake Malawi, Lilongwe and Zambia’s Luangwa Valley National Park for big game viewing.  While in Lilongwe, capital of Malawi,  they met and dined with a friend from Downend – a volunteer retired GP working with AIDs patients.

Friends from Lusaka and Chengelo Christian School in Zambia, where Ian and Mary have spent time as teaching volunteers since they retired, made up the travellers this time including a family of four with a two and four year old.

Ian said: “Part of the attraction of these adventures is the opportunity to travel empty, but challenging roads on two wheels with like-minded, trusted old friends, visiting places from our past and assessing how things in rural Southern Africa have changed (or not) over 40 years. Zambia and Malawi have some of the poorest people in the world, but they are welcoming and friendly and remarkably resilient.”

Chengelo Christian School’s latest project is building a weatherproof assembly hall capable of accommodating the whole school. Work has just started on this and more information about the school can be found at  or from Chengelo Educational Trust.  Chengelo is translated as  ‘as a witness to the light’.