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The Townsend-Rose Family

James and Polly are the type of people who immediately make you feel at home, whether that’s going round for lunch in their house or meeting them out and about; they have a warmth about them and they bring this very much into their family life with their children Sienna and Oscar.  Interestingly, myself (Abi) and James/Polly all go back way before any of us lived in Africa as we were all at school together in the UK!

Fast forward to 2010 and by chance we all found ourselves living in Cape Town, a far cry from the green hills of the English countryside.  Listening to their stories about their African travel, in particular, their big road trip from the UK to Cape Town and now more recently in their family camping adventures, I feel there is an affinity we all share in how they see and appreciate travel - especially within Africa - you can see how it touches their souls and gives them some form of connection to the bigger picture of living and perhaps their place within that...

Please  can you tell us a little bit about yourselves - where are you from originally, where do you live now and what do you do?(Polls)I grew up in Northumberland, UK, but since the age of 18 have spent most of my life living and working abroad, in South America, Asia and now Africa.. Since arriving in Cape Town in 2010, James and I lived in Sea Point for three years, and when our daughter Sienna was 18 months and started to try and climb over the balcony of our appartment we knew it was time to move – so came to Noordhoek, where we have lived for nearly 9 years! I work in investment promotion, helping countries in Africa and the Middle East market themselves to international investors. (James) I was born in Cape Town to British parents. We returned to the the UK when I was 6, but always felt that my roots were in Africa. Since driving back down here in 2010 I've been involved in various tech businesses focussing on African markets.

Can you tell us a little bit about your trip through Africa - when and where you went and what’s your most memorable adventure from it?(Polls) So the idea of the trip came about as James was leaving the army (we were living in the UK at the time) and wanted to take some time off before his next job/doing an MBA. Obviously it wasn’t hard to convince me to travel too, and after James realizing that he could get a SA passport and that Cape Town Business School was the best value for money MBA in the world, its was quickly decided that we were driving to Cape Town! We set off in mid winter across Europe, through Turkey, into Syria then Jordan, at last finding some heat! Then from Egypt crossed into Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia then South Africa! For me a highlight was wild camping in Sudan – just driving off the road and sleeping in the desert with not a soul around of hundreds of miles, driving through the highlands in Ethiopia and camping with wild animals around us at night. Everyone was so friendly  - we had no issues or corruption!  (James) Dancing in a nightclub in Zanzibar with Masai after a World Cup Match  - it was 2010 and the Football World Cup in South Africa had captured the heart of the continent. Sailing on the Blue Nile in Khartoum having borrowed a dingy from someone we had just met at the Blue Nile Yacht Club. Driving across  the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana and camping surrounded by an endless horizon of white salty soil. The Western Desert in Egypt. The overnight ferry on Lake Aswan from Aswan in Egypt to Wadi Halfa in Sudan (there are no roads between the two countries).

Now you are a family, where are some of your African favourite places to travel to?(Polls/James) Since the kids were small we’ve been on lots of camping weekends around the Western Cape. They love the adventure of it, from all sleeping in the same tent to running around outside in the dark to roasting mashmallows. We waited until they were old enough to handle longer car journeys before we set off for a longer overland adventure. Last July we drove up to Namibia as far as Etosha National Park, via the Kalahari, and came back via Spitzkoppe, Souseslvlei and Aus. It was amazing for them to experience wild Africa, go on safari for the first time, laugh with some Himba tribespeople at the side of the road and see the incredible night sky. A few months after that we took the gravel road up to the orange river through the Northern Cape – our trailer tyre exploded half way up which of course was a highlight for the kids! Next July we plan to drive up through the kruger then cross into Mozambique and down the coast!

What makes Africa special compared to others places you’ve been to?(Polls) For me it’s the wildness – the natural beauty vast open spaces to explore and friendly, smiley people. I fell in love with Cape Town when we arrived 12 years ago and feel so grateful that we’ve been able to stay and bring our children up here.  (James) I like the risk. When travelling in Africa there is a sense that anything can happen and help is rarely nearby. It's invogorating.

How does travel feed your soul?(Polls) I feel most alive when I am exploring new places. It’s been my mission for as long as I can remember to try and experience as much of what the world has to offer in my life. I love adventure, seeing new places and meeting new people.We often talk about how our latter years will be spent in a Unimog driving around the world (James) I love how travelling requires you to live in the moment and reawakens curiosity in your surroundings . . . and fewer screens.

They say home is where the heart is.  What does ‘home’ mean to you?(Polls) For me home is where we are living as a family. Cape Town is definitely home for now  (James) Me too!

What are your favourite SOUL Design pieces  to travel with? (Polls) I love my friendship Pinky ring which a great friend bought me before she moved back to the UK, and my Shela dress is great for adding some casual glamour when travelling. (James) I like the conservation story behind the snarewire bracelets and the easy to wear nomad linen shirts.


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